Last November, while exiting the express check-out lane at Whole Foods a woman came up to me and asked me if I was going to have a baby. I was not quite 20 weeks at the time and still in the stage where I might be pregnant or I might just be fat so I assumed she was just asking to confirm a suspicion. I nodded my answer and she put her hand on my arm and said, “Jesus Christ will bless you and this baby. He will be beautiful, healthy, and strong.”

It was a beautiful prophecy and that’s how I took it. In fact I claimed that prophecy. That morning, unbeknownst to her, I was anxiously talking to my sister because I worried the baby wasn’t kicking much. To have her speak those words over me and my pregnancy was a gift.

A few days later when we found out my placenta was low-lying I claimed that prophecy and decided not to worry about it. Over the next few weeks I regularly put aside worries about the baby, choosing to claim the prophecy.

In January that got a little harder. When I got the initial phone call about my blood sugars and the need for more testing I wasn’t really worried about how it would affect Elijah. I assumed he would be OK. But as the weeks wore on and I couldn’t control my blood sugar and I began to realize how serious and out of control my gestational diabetes was, the worries crept in.  It felt like without me knowing, and certainly without my permission, I’d suddenly become a high risk pregnancy – a sick mom at risk of hurting her baby. I was devastated that my body was hurting Elijah when all I wanted to do was protect him.

Instead of easily claiming the prophecy, I began to claim it as a sacrament – a willful choice to believe it despite my fears and the statistics. I think sometimes people think people who have a lot of faith are just blessed with an easy ability to believe things. I don’t think that’s the case. Faith, like everything else in the Christian’s life, requires a great deal of willfulness and choosing. I willed myself to not think about the possibilities, but to think about the promise. I did it over and over. My mind would run through the list of dreaded outcomes. I would cry and fret about the risks and probabilities. And then I would remember the promise and release it back to God again. And again. And again.

I was angry at the midwives and doctor for keeping the negative at the forefront, but the truth is it wasn’t their job to shield me from the statistics. Faith isn’t an absence of problems. It’s a choice of who to trust during the storm.

Because of the risks, I made contingency plans for what would happen if Elijah was born in need of intensive care at the hospital. Jason would go with Elijah until I could be with him. My friend would go with him. Mom would stay with me. We’d try to rush Nathan to the birth center to meet him first. I thought about how I would nurse him and whether we’d stay down at the hospital or at home. I envisioned myself in that NICU holding him. My fertile imagination was very helpful in all this planning.

When the day came, I was diligent in caring for my blood sugars. I ate eggs when I thought I could not possibly force anything down my throat. I pricked my finger between contractions. Even at the end during the last minutes of pushing I was refusing to drink a soda, desperately trying to protect my baby and give him the best start in life possible. It brings me to tears to write that because I so fiercely loved him and was so afraid.

Shortly after he was born, while I was being stitched, they had to check his blood sugar for the first time. He failed the test. I was devastated. My worst fears were coming true and I had hurt my baby. I don’t think there are many things worse for a mother than to feel like she’s failed her own child and hurt them. I lay there sobbing on the bed while they fed him formula. There was no conscious prayer  in my mind, but I know those sobs were a desperate and physical plea to God to protect Elijah and heal him.

And, of course, the end of that story is that He did. Elijah’s numbers bounced back. No further supplementation was needed. Transport to the hospital was never even mentioned. I don’t know if it’s that God intervened in the moment or that Elijah was always going to be healthy enough to withstand the withdrawal from my blood sugars. but I do know that the prophecy predicted he would be healthy and he was.

And there were other things that people remarked on about him in those early days over and over. His color was bright red, especially when he screamed, a sign of how well his body was staying oxygenated. He was remarkably strong. When the midwife suctioned him he grabbed the tube and almost pulled it away from her, and he’s been lifting his head from those first hours. And he was notably beautiful without a newborn conehead and with minimal bruising.

Beautiful, healthy, and strong.

I’m so grateful she spoke those words over me and I’m blessed to have journeyed that difficult road so that I could be a witness to God’s faithfulness and the keeping of his promises.

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