Watching and Waiting

I remember using a black felt tip marker, writing the words, “baby due” and circling March 9th on the calendar that lay by the phone on our kitchen counter. There is nothing quite like the first time you see those two pink lines.

I lost that baby in a miscarriage just a few weeks later. None of my family or friends had ever miscarried, I honestly didn’t even consider that it could happen to me. I was stunned.

Over a month went by and I hadn’t gotten my period. The Doctor told me to come back in for some blood tests. The results seemed to indicate that I was pregnant again. She said we would have to wait another week and repeat the test to see if the “HCG” levels were rising or falling. There were so many conflicting feelings inside of me; I didn’t know where my heart was supposed to land. The grief of losing the first baby was still so fresh and tender, now I might be pregnant again…how could this be?

The following weeks’ blood test revealed the HCG was rising, and Dr. Prendergast told me we should be able to see a heartbeat after five days, if all was well. Another week of waiting, hope deferred to someplace far away from my shaken soul. It felt like a roller coaster of the worst kind. Eight weeks after miscarrying I watched a beating heart appear on the ultrasound screen. I remember the Doctor’s words, “I can tell you how this happened, but I couldn’t calculate the impossible odds against it. Your womb should have been too hostile of an environment for this baby to implant, it is really miraculous.”

I carried that miracle baby for 41 weeks and she arrived on April 27. I was pregnant for over 11 continuous months that year.

My womb had held life and death simultaneously.

Every pregnancy I had after that first one found me hesitant, watchful, fearful and holding hope at bay – not wanting to feel the delight and joy about the life growing inside of me for fear I was only going to feel it slip away again.

2020 feels like a year of miscarriages; graduations, weddings, trips, and celebrations carefully hoped for and held – postponed or cancelled. Friendships strained as we’ve fought to stay connected via Zoom and FaceTime. Marriages suffering, some ending in divorce and others barely hanging on – threatening to dissolve. Sickness and death having laid their claim, too many lives lost.

We have held life and death simultaneously, almost daily for the past nine months.

We are entering Christmas tattered, tired and a bit afraid to hope. We are aching, swollen and feeling overdue for some healing and relief. What we are carrying doesn’t feel like life. It is hard to imagine goodness being birthed from the tragedies that have marked us this year.

I have found the following words from Nichole Nordeman’s song, “We Watch, We Wait” speaking what my heart feels.

A longing heart
A world on fire
We want to see your face again
No man can know
The day, the hour
The many miles from Bethlehem

But every knee will bow and bend
And every tongue confess again
We breathe your name
We watch, we wait

We watch
We wait
We ask
We ache
God with us
One day
We watch
We wait

Wherever you are today, dear one, you are not alone. We are held together by the bravery of a teenage girl who said yes to carrying the baby who would save us through His incarnation and extravagant love.

Today our hearts long to see Him face to face. We ache for the restoration and redemption of all that feels broken in our world. And, we take solace in our connection with one another and the inspiration and encouragement we gain from our shared experiences of birthing and miscarrying, life and death, joy and sorrow…

Tonight we will gather virtually at 10pm CST to light the Christmas candle for Advent. I hope you will join us, it will be brief, but sacred.

Click here to register. Bring a candle with you.

Here is Nichole’s song

DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories, a reluctant dreamer, and the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for over 33 years, she is mother to five kids and a pastor’s wife. She loves quiet mornings with hot coffee, rich conversations, and slowly savored meals at her favorite restaurants. She is awed that God chose her to mother four girls having grown up with no sisters. She writes about her life and her work here.