When Plans Don’t Go As Expected

Unmet Expectations
After writing about expectations in relationships last week, I have come face to face with a variety of circumstances that have caused major unmet expectations and a lot of emotion. It’s been eye opening to see how much impact unmet circumstantial expectations can cause an unravel of sorts.
We got to see our sweet baby girl on the ultrasound last week to check on her position. There is nothing like ultrasounds. They are exhilarating and terrifying. I don’t usually relax into them until I hear her heartbeat and then I usually tear up and proceed to marvel that there is a little person inside of my belly. They make the whole thing real to see her little body developing and wiggling around. She has been breech most of our pregnancy and we were ever hopeful that at our 36 week appointment she would have flipped over. No such luck. She is breech with her little legs crossed at the bottom of my uterus. It explains the frequent kicks to the bladder. Our Doctor began discussing the options in the coming weeks and it is overwhelming. Step one is trying to exercise and do various things to get her to flip naturally. There is a website called spinning babies we are supposed to do exercises from. The next thing will be deciding if we want to do a  manual version, this procedure where the doctor manually tries to flip her. We aren’t a good candidate for it because of the type of breech position she is in, how long she has been breech and then the position of my placenta. Not to mention the risks make Chad and I nervous. It has a 40 percent success rate normally, and apparently is even less with our circumstance. So c-section is on the table as a very real option.
Cue expectations galore. I have known for a few months that this could happen, but I secretly hoped that she would flip by 36 weeks and all would be well. It was my timeline. But how often do our plans happen the way we hope?  I am really disappointed that there is a big possibility that I am going to have a c-section. In a sense I am grieving the hope of having a vaginal delivery. It’s not that I want to be a super hero, I just wanted to go through the process that my body is made to do and that I have mentally prepped for. I have spent a lot more time thinking about delivering vaginally and wrapping my brain (sort of) around this and the recovery.
I realized I have a lot of fear around surgery, needles and epidurals. I have heard a lot of well meaning people say that it’s not a big deal, it’s a blessing that I won’t have to go through the pain of labor, that as long as she gets here safe that’s all that matters or that the recovery isn’t that bad. But none of this has been comforting for me. And it know it’s because I am grieving the expectation of giving birth vaginally. It’s what you expect to happen nine months after you get the positive test. It’s what you start mentally preparing for. Other people have told me she still could flip. Which I suppose still could happen. But I am wrestling with holding out hope and being devastated the day of surgery. I’d like to get to a place where I am genuinely okay with either. This means allowing myself to grieve and feel frustrated.
I am processing this in real time, so this isn’t fully processed in many ways. But I am realizing that the root of my anxiety and cause of expectation is I like to be in control. This is a developed coping mechanism to keep me “safe”. When I am in a good place, I recognize that I am not in control, God is and he is good so I have nothing to fear. My ability to keep myself safe is somewhat a facade. When I am stressed, triggered by something or feel vulnerable, I clench for control even more. Emotions unravel and I retreat some. I can become mean to people I love because internally I am in a state of sheer panic. The hardest part is I don’t want to be like this. I want to constantly trust God and have my emotions be in alignment with this and experience his peace. Truly, the crisis comes because I am depending on myself and know deep inside I am powerless to really do much.
This becomes especially true regarding my body. The more I read and learn about labor, the more I discover that this is a process my body knows how to do but not my brain persay. It’s something that can feel really out of control because it just happens and moves at its own pace. Labor is the exact opposite of control, and the closer it gets the more freaked out I become. Both by labor and c-section. Both feel like something I can’t control. The surgery even more so. I will be immobile, unable to see or feel anything (for good reason), and I will be at the mercy of my doctor and nurses. Labor vaginally feels like I will have a tiny bit more control because I can choose how I am managing my pain but still is far from the measured calculations/ preparation that I’d like. So both of these have sent me into a complete emotional tail spin. My body is riddled with anxiety and panic, particularly at night. If I think about it too long or hard, I will spontaneously cry. And anything that causes me to feel out of control right now triggers me and leaves me in a panic and reactive.
 I never anticipated that labor would expose a layer of healing that needs to happen. This need to be in control is not something I want to remain. It turns me into a bit of a crazy person. It leaves me trying to control circumstances and even people around me. It’s a big sign of a wound that needs healed and a muscle that needs strengthening. We weren’t designed to control and micromanage our life in calculated caution. We aren’t meant to be paralyzed by fear and working ourselves into a frenzy to do everything we can to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or out of control. We were designed to trust our Maker fully because he is good and will take care of us. We were made to live in freedom.
This reaction of control shows me there is doubt regarding that God is trustworthy. I think this wound is part of the fall, part of the brokenness of humanity. Evil in the world and unmet expectations further this woundedness. The enemy of our souls says “if God really is good he wouldn’t let this happen”. But this is a lie. Mostly around the responsibility piece. The enemy wants to blame shift and get the responsibility of evil off of himself onto God. This creates an even greater divide between us and God, his ultimate goal. In this circumstance, my temptation is to believe that something is wrong with my body. The deeper lie is a form or rejection. That because this isn’t going according to my plan, I am rejected by God is some way. But this also is a lie, because I am assuming that God’s plan is the same as mine. But the reality is his plan actually could be a c-section for sweet baby girl for a reason unknown to me. And the enemy is using this to attempt divide me from my Heavenly Father, the very One I need right now. This is why expectations around circumstances are dangerous.
So what am I doing about this struggle? It’s raw and ugly right now. It’s a lot of prayer and tears. It’s a lot of honesty with God about how I want to be in control but I am not and how this security is really a facade. I find myself grieving the expectations in God’s comforting arms and leaning on Chad when I fail to remember that our God is good. It’s being gracious with myself and apologizing when I hurt my love ones when I lose my mind and lash out. It’s being honest with myself that I am wounded but that God is my healer. He has healed much in my life and I can trust him to heal this. He has a perfect track record. And any fear I feel around birth, vaginally or cesarean, can be placed in God’s hands as he writes the story of how she comes into this world. It will be good no matter what.

When God Surprises You

Early on in my pregnancy, I was grieving over not having a traditional nursery for our daughter to come home to. My parents basement is a huge blessing, but doesn’t have a second bedroom to turn into a nursery. She will be sleeping in our room in some sort of bed for the duration that we live with them. Even though I know she won’t know the difference, I was struggling with this cultural expectation as desire that was going to be unmet. This was directly connected to being in a season where things were not going according to plan and that I had always dreamed that we would have a place of our own when we would reach the milestone of adding to our family. Somewhere along the way I had adapted the cultural idea that the correct progression of life stages went along the lines of graduating college, going to graduate school, getting married, having an awesome career, buying a house and then starting a family. Let’s just say that this “model” of living was shattered and I came face to face with the reality that life is a lot more complex. Life actually doesn’t look like Pinterest, and doesn’t have to in order to be beautiful. Also, God doesn’t really work in models. He is creative and committed to cultivating character in us that often comes through enduring seasons that are far from our expectation.
I allowed myself to grieve this, however, because I knew that without stepping into the reality that things were not what I wanted or expected, bitterness could grow towards my Heavenly Father who knows best.
For a while, my grieving looked like avoiding stores where baby bedding, cribs and adorable nursery decor was sold. I didn’t participate in pregnancy forums where they were discussing how their nursery was coming together. Instead I researched pack n’ plays and looked into alternative bed options.
One day in one of my therapeutic mall wanderings (where I go to the mall alone and just look at things and enjoy a simple cup of coffee and check out the latest fashion and things but buy nothing), I ventured into Pottery Barn Kids. The expensive mecca of children’s nursery goods was filled with the latest things to beautify a space and I just let myself dream. I found this adorable set that I let myself love for a moment, and pondered what it would look like in a space my husband and I created. I decided that when we had our own place I would come back and pick cute things out for her, no matter how old she was. I would give her a nursery in his timing. Even if it was a year after she was born or longer. My heart whispered to God, I love this, but it’s not important for me to have for her arrival or even ever. But I do love it. I told him and then walked out before the tears started to flow. I cried on my way home letting the grief flow out that I couldn’t give her a room, but I could give her arms that would hold her and promised to love her no matter how many things we had.
I never told anyone about this set. Not even my husband. It seemed frivolous and inconsequential given our circumstances. Truthfully, I let it go and set about preparing for her to come in other ways. The occasional times I found myself in the mall again I would venture in and look at it and dream and then walk out and let it go again.
One day, my sister texted me a craigslist find. I call her the craigslist queen because the girl can find a deal like no one else. I am not particularly good at bargain hunting, something I could really learn from her. I haven’t cultivated the patience of combing through pages of used things that people are selling to find a treasure. My sister had been looking for a pack n’ play for me but recently had planted the idea of putting a crib in our room. She found a $75 crib on craigslist that was adorable. It needed to be refinished but really was in fairly good condition. I hadn’t pulled the trigger because I couldn’t wrap my brain around buying bedding for it. I opened the link she had sent me and discovered it was the very set that I had fallen in love with at Pottery Barn Kids. The entire set (normally around $300) for $40. It looked like it was in good condition, and had everything except for a bed skirt. I couldn’t believe it. I told her to see if it was still available and when she said it was, I cried.
We could afford it and it was my hearts desire and no one knew expect God. He had made it happen unbeknownst to the person selling it, and my sister finding it and picking it up. She picked up the crib for us as well and in a matter of three days we had a complete bed set with the bedding my heart had longed for.He surprised me with something that I had deemed impossible because he knew it would delight me.
Recently, my mom refinished the crib and helped me set it up in our room. We have an alcove that was meant to be a closet and the crib fits perfectly inside. I am delighted. I look at it still marveling at his provision. We turned half of our room into a nursery space, while the other half remains ours.
Baby Girl's Crib
I am completely in awe of how God took something that seemed impossible and honestly unnecessary and made it happen. It’s just a testimony of his goodness, his kindness and his love. He sees us. Even the desires we think are worth overlooking.
He really is the God Who Sees.
I’d love to hear your story of how God has surprised you recently.