The evening after my kids and I ran our first 5k, I sent my husband to Rite Aid to buy a pregnancy test. Because I was a little late, and I just wanted some peace of mind. Because there was no way I could be pregnant.
Except yes, I was. Am. Expecting. And I’m still processing it.
Always before, becoming pregnant was a choice. Something I wanted, something I felt guided to. It has also always been a leap of fear and faith, but it’s been easier to accept the discomforts of pregnancy because I knew that I had sought it. And even though I was not done having children, I did not plan to have another baby so soon.
As an undergraduate in Dr. Cynthia Hallen’s excellent Linguistics class, I wrote a paper analyzing this poem, “If any sink, assure that this now standing,” by Emily Dickinson:
If any sink, assure that this, now standing
If any sink, assure that this, now standing —
Failed like Themselves — and conscious that it rose —
Grew by the Fact, and not the Understanding
How Weakness passed — or Force — arose —
Tell that the Worst, is easy in a Moment —
Dread, but the Whizzing, before the Ball —
When the Ball enters, enters Silence —
Dying — annuls the power to kill.
It’s the last stanza that has stayed with me all these years, especially the line “Dread, but the Whizzing, before the Ball.” I dread giving birth. I always have, except with my first child, when I didn’t know enough to be frightened. Now I know; my fears have names and the weight of having lived them. I’m scared of dealing with bed rest again, scared of the c-section pain, of enduring the emotional hassle of trying to nurse, of the sleepless fatigue. This time around I have added a new fear: another NICU stay.
But Dickinson is right with her last line, too: “Dying — annuls the power to kill.” Meaning that once I am actually there, in the hospital, holding the baby, the dread is gone, replaced by a strength and love I did not know I possessed. Even last time around, in the NICU, I felt sustained and blessed. The spiritual power of prayers offered for me was so real. When I actually live the thing I fear, it loses its power over me, and I see light instead.
Why is it so hard to remember that feeling of strength right now? I am still in the stage of dread, the whizzing before the ball.
I’ve been studying the concept of remembering mercy lately. This verse from Alma 32:
22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name;
And this one from Moroni 10:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
The context of both verses interests me: Alma’s counsel to remember mercy precedes his faith/seed/tree analogy, and Moroni’s comes just before his promise of a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon. Remembering mercy comes before faith, before praying about the Book of Mormon, before anything else.
And one more scripture that has haunted me, this time from Mormon 9:
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
They know not the God in whom they should trust. Or rather, I know him not. Because I forget His mercy.
But I am trying to remember.