I watched as the two lines slowly appeared on the test. They were faint, yet blaring. “You’re pregnant” they screamed.

I’m pregnant.

Tears fell from the corners of my eyes and slid slowly down my cheeks. I could taste the salt as they traveled down to my lips.

Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Will the pregnancy be viable?

I’m pregnant.

Oh my goodness. I’m pregnant.

How am I going to tell my husband? My family? My friends? How can I possibly wait?

I can’t believe it. I’m pregnant.

As the months went on, the world around could see this precious truth as my belly began to stretch and grow. Strangers would comment and gush. Would you like a chair? Sit down. Put your feet up. Aren’t you beautiful? When are you due? Slight flutters turned into hearty kicks as my belly blossomed and stretched. And with every movement – the sliding and turning, feet pressing hard against my stomach – I was reminded that soon this life we had prayed for would be placed in my arms.

Soon, I would be someone’s mom.

What will the labor be like? Will I be a good mom? Can I do this? What if I get it wrong? Will everything be okay? Please let everything be okay.

And then it happened. The pain arrived like a stabbing knife to my back in the early hours of the morning. It was sharp, repetitive and demanded my attention. Was this the moment? I went into the bathroom and saw the blood. Was this okay? I called the doctor.

“It’s time,” he said.

“Come to the hospital,” he said.

Wait! Now? It’s time? Am I ready? Maybe just a couple more days? I don’t think I’m ready. Okay. Let’s go.

“You’re at 6 cm,” the nurse said.

“The baby is coming today,” she said.

“Today,” I said.

Today, I will become mom.

Today, the world as I know it will forever change. Today, a vulnerability will exist that has never existed before. Today, I will know a love like I have never known.

When it was time to send us home from the hospital, I cried. I went to my husband and his arms engulfed me as the tears began to flow. How can we bring this sweet life home? How will I know what to do? Don’t you see how unqualified I am for this job? Can’t you see I have no experience? Can a nurse come home with us? Please. Just one?

That night, my husband and I didn’t sleep. We went into the guest room with two twin beds. To this day, I still have no idea why we decided this would be the place for us to camp out for the night. My daughter wanted to nurse all night and when we would lay her down she would cry. So, we took turns. 30 minute shifts. One would sleep for the 30 minutes while the other held her in their arms. Back and forth. Back and forth. All. Night. Long.

Will I ever sleep again? Do babies sleep in their parents arms all night? Why didn’t anyone tell me? How long will this go on? I am pretty sure I will never sleep again. How can my husband go back to work if we are never sleeping?

We will never sleep again.

But we did. We slept again. And she grew. And 13 months later, I found myself pregnant again.

Eleven weeks later, at a check-up, we learned the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. A DNC was scheduled. And my heart broke into a million little pieces.

Will my heart heal? I want my baby. Will I be able to get pregnant again? I want my baby. What if I am not able to have any more children? I want my baby.

I want my baby.

The pain was deep.

Over time, my heart did heal and a few months later I found myself pregnant once again.

As the pregnancy went on and my belly did the familiar growing and stretching and changing, we began to prepare for life with two.

Will I be able to manage two children? Will we be okay? Will they be okay? What do we need? A double stroller for sure. What else?

And then it happened. Our beautiful daughter came into the world and suddenly we were a family of four. We were prepared this time. Two movies were rented. If we were going to be awake, we may as well be enjoying ourselves.

After all, we will sleep again.

Fast forward 11 months after our second was born – I watched as the faint, yet blaring lines appeared once again on the test. We would soon be a family of five.

Will we be able to fit into our home? Can I keep nursing my second child if I’m pregnant? Do we need to put our house on the market? We need to put our house on the market. What happens now that we are outnumbered? Will everything be okay?

The house went on the market and sold. We moved and just two weeks later baby number three came into the world at a time when the rest of the world was sleeping, but we were wide awake. And once again, my heart melted and expanded and grew.

Yes. We would be okay.

A couple years later, baby number four was placed into my arms. He came into the world fast. I was committed to getting eggs Benedict while my mom was begging me to please oh please just go to the hospital. I will be fine. I need eggs Benedict before I have this baby. On the way to the car, a monstrous contraction hit, I looked at my mom and said you’re right (as she usually is), I need to go to the hospital. Two hours later, our family of six was now complete.

Nothing, I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the myriad of emotions that have come with parenting. The desire to protect and nurture and comfort is at times overwhelming. The love that overcomes like a tidal wave in a fierce second, squeezing your heart and taking your breath away is remarkable. The way you can love and then be frustrated and love and then be frustrated back and forth and back again all day is a crazy mixture of opposing feelings that is unique to parenting. The questions are relentless. They begin the moment the faint, yet blaring lines appear and are carried with you throughout the rest of time.

“When you have a child, your heart begins walking outside of your body,” a wise friend once told me when I was pregnant with my first many years ago.

For 13 years my heart has multiplied and grown and stretched and loved and ached, as it has walked outside my body.

Are they eating enough? Sleeping enough? Do they have a temperature? Are they sick?

Are they growing appropriately? Am I teaching them enough? Am I playing enough? Am I snuggling enough?

Is it too early to start sports? Too late? How often should I eat lunch with them at school? Should they ride the bus? Or should I take them? What do I sign-up for? What do I ignore? What are my boundaries?

Are they making good friends? Are they doing okay? Have I taught them what they need to know? What am I forgetting?

Are they old enough to play alone outside? Stay at home by themselves? Do they know about strangers? Can they ride in the front seat?

When did you get so big that you can ride in the front seat?

Are they making good choices? Are we having the right conversations?

Do they know they are loved? Deeply. Unconditionally. Always and forever. Loved. Do they know their actions have no bearing on this love? Nothing can take this love away. They can do nothing to earn this love. It arrived in an overwhelming rush the moment the faint, yet blaring lines appeared and will be carried in my heart until the end of time.

But mostly, more than anything, do they know they are loved by a great God? Do they know that we love because He first loved us? Do they know as much as we love them, His love is that much greater? Do they know as much as they can’t earn or lose our love, His love is the ultimate. The most steadfast. The widest. The deepest. The highest.

Do they know?

Do I know they are His? He has put them in my husband and I’s care, but ultimately – they are His. We will try. And we will fail. We will ask the questions. And sometimes never know the answers. We will lay awake in the night waiting for them to come home after an evening out with friends. We will send them off to college or the military or wherever they may go. We may watch them walk down the aisle. And one day, we may receive a call that they have seen the faint, yet blaring lines appear themselves.

We will watch and pray as their lives unfold.

It began with faint, yet blaring lines.

I’m pregnant.

I’m mom.

I love you.

I’m here for you.

I am for you.

I always have been.

And I always will be.

From the faint, yet blaring lines to forever.

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