Was it nerves or morning sickness?
I couldn’t be sure. All I knew on that dreary December afternoon in 2011 was I might throw up at any minute. This was the day I’d chosen to deliver the news to my company that they’d need to plan for my maternity leave.
I’d already told my direct boss, whom I considered a friend. That part was easy. When she asked if I wanted her to deliver the news to the higher-ups on my behalf, I told her no, thanks—I’d do it myself. I walked right into the next office and plopped down to make an announcement, only to realize I had no idea what to say to this particular higher-up.
I suddenly felt like I was a teenager telling my dad I’d wrecked the car or something. I opened my mouth, hoping for words and not vomit.
“I’m… expecting,” I said.
I know, really. Who says that? But that’s what came out of my mouth. Better than vomit, I guess.
“You’re… expecting?” He furrowed his brow.
“You’re expecting… what exactly?”
“Um… a baby?”
He looked confused for an uncomfortable ten seconds. Then his eyes lit with understanding and he laughed. “Oh! I thought you were expecting a raise!”
I’ve often wondered if that would’ve worked. Part of me regrets missing the opportunity to walk into the office unannounced and say, “I’m expecting a raise.” I’m curious about what would’ve happened.
But I digress, because that’s not what this little anecdote is about. This is a story about expectation.
See, I soon learned something about the word expecting. I learned that everything I expected about having my first baby—a gorgeous, six-pound little girl—was off by about a mile.
I didn’t expect to be kicked out of the hospital when I was in labor because I was too happy. True story, I was told to go home and come back when I was smiling less, because the labor and delivery floor was too busy for happy mothers-to-be. By the time I returned six hours later, I was indeed less happy. I was more than seven centimeters dilated and I said some unkind (and unexpected) things to the intake worker.
I didn’t expect to be so terrified. I remember sitting in a CVS parking lot with my daughter when she was a few days old. My husband was inside picking something up and I was sitting in the backseat, staring at her sleeping in her car seat and feeling so very overwhelmed and burdened with fear. I called my mother right then, crying and trying to explain why I was so afraid. It turns out I didn’t need to explain it. She told me, “Honey, a piece of your heart is now living outside of your body. It’s a strange feeling, and it can feel very scary, but you’ll get used to it.”
She was right. Day by day, I got used to loving this little human so much it was scary. The love didn’t lessen, but I learned to live with it as my new normal. I learned to lean on God so much more. I didn’t expect to have such a daily desperate need for His presence, but I did then and years later, I still do.
I didn’t expect to be so tired. I’ve often said since becoming a mother, “It’s amazing how tired you can get without actually dying.”
I didn’t expect the most mundane moments to become my most precious memories. Like the day I was sitting on the floor folding laundry and that sweet little baby girl learned to say the word, “happy”. She said it over and over again, rolling around in a pile of clothes and trying out her new word. Happy. Yes, we were.
I didn’t expect to still be in our too-cramped condominium when we had our second child, a son. Then again, I had started to loosen my grip on expectations by then. So I shrugged as we put a second crib in the bedroom. Our son brought a whole new set of unexpected surprises. I didn’t expect to love him so much, but oh, how I did. How I do. I didn’t expect him to be so curious, so independent, so fast and energetic. Not long after he started walking, I had to start running again just so I could be fast enough to catch up with him when he unexpectedly darted off at the grocery store. (It was either that or put him on a leash.)
I am six-and-a-half years into being a parent. I know it’s not very long, relatively speaking. But it’s long enough to know one thing for sure: when it comes to expectations, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
Speaking of the unexpected…
Very recently we became a licensed foster home. This was a result of years of God orchestrating little specific nudges to point us in this direction, along with confirmation from His Word (Matthew 18:5, James 1:27, etc.). I’m so excited, and admittedly a little nervous, too. Part of me still can’t believe it’s real.
Right now, there is an empty crib in our home. Any day, any minute really, we’re expecting to receive a phone call about the tiny person who will be the first one to sleep in that crib.
This time, we know with certainty that we don’t quite know what to expect. We’ve been told to expect it to be busy, with lots of people coming in and out of the house, especially at first. We’ve been told to expect it to be difficult, for all sorts of reasons. We’ve been told to expect a strange combination of joy and heartbreak, which can’t quite be explained, only experienced.
We’re expecting the unexpected, to say the least. There’s one thing, though, that we’re confidently expecting.
We’re expecting God to show up.
We’re expecting Him to carry us through the exhaustion, to comfort us in the heartbreak, to guide us through the uncertainty, and to provide a hope and a future for the little one(s) placed in our care.
Yes. It’s true.
And now, Lord, for what do I expectantly wait? My hope [my confident expectation] is in you.
Psalm 39:7 AMP