Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stupid* antibodies, and a friendly reminder from God

Jesus' friends had been so afraid, they had only seen the big waves. They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, then they had nothing to be afraid of. No matter how small their boat - or how big the storm.
-The Jesus Storybook Bible

Curled up in bed one night I cried and confided in Johnie. I was feeling so insecure. So nervous. So worried. Just five days prior I had learned that I tested positive for several antibodies which cause my blood to clot abnormally. This puts me at an even higher risk for miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, slowed growth of the baby and pre-term labor than lupus alone.

I was thankful that they caught it this early in my pregnancy and I was thankful my levels weren't so high as to require blood thinner injections right away, but I had still been disappointed by this news.

I had prayed specifically, since I learned about lupus and some of the pregnancy risks, to not have to deal with this issue if I ever did become pregnant. In the moments after I learned the news I felt like it was just the beginning of my deepest fears for this pregnancy being realized. What other bad things were going to unfold in the days and weeks ahead?

But after spending some time in prayer with God, I began to feel better about things. Less panicked. More peaceful. Over the years, when troubles arise in my life when I feel like I am trying to do the Lord's will and I wonder why He is allowing obstacles to get in the way, I sometimes think of people like Mary. I have thought of her a lot during my pregnancy. If anyone ever deserved a pain-free, care-free pregnancy, it was Mary carrying Jesus. But she was so young and her story was so unbelievable and she had to ride on a donkey for several days and deliver her baby alone in a strange, unsterile, humble place. Why should I expect to have it easier than Mary? I mean, I already do have it easier than Mary, and why am I expecting even better treatment than the chosen mother of the Savior?

The fears didn't vanish though. They kept creeping back up and I kept fighting them back each day. Earlier this particular day I noticed that the Lupus Foundation of America had posted a new article about pregnancy outcomes of women with lupus and the antiphospholipid antibodies. I refrained from reading it for several hours until curiosity got the best of me. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

It was worse.

The fears just overwhelmed me. And as Johnie tried to calm me down, I got even more anxious and started veering into fears of my parenting skills and how this baby would affect our marriage. For each problem he tried to solve, I replaced it with twelve new ones. Finally, he just listened and waited for me to calm down. And when it seemed like I had said all I could think of to say, he pulled out the Jesus Storybook Bible.

You see, it is very important to my mom that babies are read to, even before they are born. She read the Bible to my brother and me still in the womb. I have always planned to do the same with my kids. Johnie and I have heard wonderful things about the Jesus Storybook Bible from many of our friends, so it was the first baby purchase we made. I thought we were getting a little carried away reading to an earless -- and even heartless when we started this tradition -- baby. But, I reasoned, we could probably stand to hear the Bible story each night even if it didn't quite reach our baby yet.

This night we were on The Captain of the storm. Johnie began reading and turned the page and I picked up until I got to:

They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, then they had nothing to be afraid of.

I could only cry. Thanks, God. What a sweet way to let me know I should probably just chill out and trust You.

He has sent me many words from friends and family and His Word in the last few weeks to reassure me He is with me in this. I randomly got a card a few days after the storm story from a women's ministry that I have done some small volunteer projects for (and that has done some major ministering in my own life) with a note (from someone who didn't even know I am pregnant) letting me know she had prayed for me and these verses came to her mind:

Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold me by my right hand. -Psalm 73:23

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26

She also offered this prayer: May God strengthen your body today and remind you that He is walking beside you, holding your right hand!

I don't understand why God decided I should carry this baby. I don't understand why I have to deal with this stupid* antibody issue. Or why any number of mothers have to deal with any number of pregnancy issues. And I don't know how this is going to work out.

But I am thankful for a sweet, loving, gentle, trustworthy Father who is by my side and helping me through it all. I need to be reminded constantly: I have nothing to fear. Because of Him.

*Writing this post made me realize I should probably begin now (while my baby hasn't yet developed the ability to hear) to significantly decrease my use of the word "stupid."