Even when you face disappointment and unmet expectations, God has a purpose
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
For nine months, we sustain and grow life. We plan and prepare. We dream. All in anticipation of the birth of our children, often described as the most wonderful, magical moments of life.
Some of us, though, share birth stories that are far from magical. We were left with unmet expectations and disappointment. Yet, even in the middle of the less-than-magical moments, God is there. He is weaving together imperfect moments as part of His perfect plan.
After four imperfect deliveries, I’m able to look back and see His work. Maybe my story can help you be assured that God is working in the imperfect places of your life.
Already a few days past my due date with my first and dealing with slightly high blood pressure, I was induced. All the nerves and excitement of a first-time mom swept over me as the contractions became steady. I didn’t hesitate to accept help with the pain and the anesthetist was aware of the plan. However, the baby came faster than expected, which meant no time for a spinal. She was also larger than anticipated. Her delivery was rough. . . like tearing and episiotomy rough. I’ll spare you the details, but after her birth, I was given a spinal and taken directly into surgery to repair the damage.
I don’t remember much about her delivery. I don’t really remember seeing or holding her for the first time. I vaguely remember a nurse trying to get her close enough to latch on and then saying, “We’ll try this later.”
Her delivery was more traumatic than magical — full of unmet expectations and disappointment.
During my second pregnancy, we monitored the baby’s growth and planned an induction in hopes of avoiding an almost nine pound baby who would leave me torn and scarred again. Considering the trauma of my first delivery, an elective c-section may have been the safer and saner option. However, I’m stubborn and wanted to prove my strength in the delivery room. Three years of healing had given me confidence.
This time, I was able to get a spinal. I had a sense of control over the pain and the process — my kind of delivery. That control was short-lived when the baby’s heart rate dropped with contractions. The surgeon was called, and my induction changed to a semi-emergency c-section. I had been determined to deliver vaginally. I wanted to know what it felt like to have a “normal” delivery. With those dreams crushed, I was wheeled into surgery.
Disappointment, anger, and fear tumbled around my heart.
My third delivery was a planned c-section. In most situations, I long to be in control. But I desperately wanted to know the feeling of timing contractions, grabbing a pre-packed bag, and rushing to the hospital. Instead, I delivered my second son via a very planned and, thankfully, uneventful c-section. However, I still struggled with the disappointment of never having experienced an unplanned delivery.
By my fourth pregnancy, I had given up hope of a vaginal delivery; my expectations shifted in hopes of curbing the disappointment. Though my second daughter’s delivery was smooth, the doctor’s first view of her caught us by surprise. As they pulled her little body out, they noticed a knot in her umbilical cord. A true knot, like hers, presents itself in only one percent of pregnancies. Hers had not been pulled tight enough to restrict her oxygen, in part, because a c-section didn’t create the tugging on the cord that moving through the birth canal would have. That knot, combined with a vaginal delivery, would have posed far greater risks for my baby than the c-section. This time instead of disappointment from unmet expectations, I felt relief and a realization that God had been planning for this fourth baby's birth since the delivery of my first.
My birthing moments were not as I had planned or dreamed, and they were not magical. They were, however, miracles. Miracles that our Creator and the Giver of Life set in motion long before I began dreaming of them.
God knew my body couldn’t handle a second vaginal birth. So he dropped my baby’s heart rate leading to a c-section. His plan was greater than my pride.
God knew that five years after my first c-section, a vaginal birth and knotted umbilical cord would have risked serious injury, possibly even death, for my fourth baby. I planned her c-section a week before her birth; God planned it years before she was conceived.
My birth stories may not have met my expectations, but they carried out God’s plan perfectly. Looking back years later, I am able to see just how wonderful His works were.
For you formed [my daughter's] inward parts
you knitted [her] together in [my] womb.
I praise you, for [she is] fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works [her delivery];
my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139: 13-14
So often, we look for God’s plan in the middle of tragedy or unexpected events and nothing makes sense. In each of my birth experiences, I struggled through unmet expectations and disappointment. I questioned why things had to go the way they had. Looking back over four births, I see now that God had a plan in each of my birth experiences. And, ultimately, each contributed in some way to the safe arrival of my fourth baby.
Are you in the middle of disappointment and unmet expectations right now? Are you questioning God’s plan?
You may not see it, but God is working through your pain, struggle, unmet expectations, and disappointments. He is in the middle of your story whether you see Him there or not.
When I look back at the births of my children, I see the obvious work of His hands in each; however, there are other situations where His work is not as clearly seen. Though, we may not be able to piece together His plan this side of heaven, we can be confident He has a purpose.
Trust that He is working in the most inward parts of your story. Even the stories of disappointment and unmet expectations. He is knitting together each strand. You can praise Him even in the middle of struggles because His works are wonderful.