No, the asterisk is not an error.
Being pregnant* is very different than being pregnant. (Well, physically, the same birds-and-bees scenario happens.)
Mentally and emotionally though, the asterisk makes all the difference.
Pregnant* equates to “pregnant after miscarriage.”
One major difference between being pregnant and being pregnant* is expectation.
With my first baby, from the moment I knew I was pregnant, I expected to birth healthy baby.
During one appointment, the doctor could not hear the baby’s heartbeat. We had to walk one block to the hospital for an ultrasound, and I remember laughing with my husband during our stroll, happy to be getting another photo of the baby.
This pregnancy was marked by certainty and naive excitement.
Our daughter was born. Around two years later, I became pregnant again. Again, I expected to birth a healthy baby.
My second pregnancy was marked by self-confident assumptions.
I had done this before.
12 weeks of tiredness and nausea; great second trimester; last few weeks of less sleep and sore back and frequent potty breaks.
I’ve got this.
I didn’t squirm too much when I saw the blood. This had happened with my first baby too. I’d just go to the ultrasound; they’d say to take it easy for a while, but baby will be fine.
It didn’t play out that way.
My world was rocked as I said goodbye to my baby. My most fervent prayer during that time was that I would never have to go through the same agony again.
I was held together by God.
From the second I read the positive test, my third pregnancy was marked by one emotion.
I felt uneasy. About everything. I felt I would never be able to bear the same pain again.
I interpreted every pain, hiccup, sneeze, discomfort, discharge, symptom and lack of symptom as negative or positive.
I would have a headache and wonder if it was because my hormones were up and baby was healthy.
I wouldn’t feel nauseous for a few hours and think it surely meant my baby was gone.
Whatever I was interpreting, my mood and outlook would respond accordingly.
My thoughts were consumed with what I was physically feeling (or not feeling) and what that might mean for my baby.
It was the first time I was pregnant*.
We lost this baby as well. My comfort this time was – I had known this pain before, and more importantly, I had experienced the power of God in holding me together. I had to hold onto True Words of encouragement.
Last summer, I discovered I was pregnant* again.
This pregnancy was again marked with certainty.
I was certain the baby would not survive.
I braced myself. I knew God could carry me through the pain. I knew He could heal me after loss, because He’s done it before. I knew he could use my story to point others to Christ. I expected to again search for blessings in the midst of pain.
Now in my 35th week of this pregnancy, I’m finally allowing myself to see this as a blessing from God that actually looks like a blessing.
Whether blessing surrounded by joy or blessing in disguise; I know His mercies are new every morning.
With my first and second pregnancies, I expected everything to go well. With my third and fourth, I expected everything to go wrong.
The difference was the asterisk.
The commonality was that I had an expectation.
Being an a-type planner, I have (typically high) expectations. After taking one step, I envision the end result (good or bad). My expectations – and subsequently thoughts and emotions – follow.
But I’m not the omniscient one. The end I envision isn’t necessarily what comes to be. My expectations are not equal to God’s truth. Only the One who is I Am knows what happens now and already sees the end result of every circumstance.
My expectations tend to produce unfounded confidence or devastating disappointment.
This was definitely true of my pregnancy experiences.
Each pregnancy was interpreted through a grid of my own expectations of how the pregnancy would end. Expectations fed my early, naive assurance that all would be “well,” and they later fed my fears.
But how do I become an unexpectant, expecting mom?
I’ve got to admit, I’m not sure.
But one thing I’m learning as I work through this is that my typical expectation is different than God’s.
I had believed, as I think most would, that success for a pregnant mom would be to deliver a healthy baby. I have recently been challenged to consider that success for a pregnant (or pregnant*) mom in God’s eyes is for her to follow Him, trust Him and love Him.
The circumstance and even the outcome isn’t the measure of success.
My response in the midst of the circumstance and despite the outcome is what determines true success in the eyes of God.
If this resonates with you, you’ll appreciate the challenge by Angie Smith in What Women Fear,
“In each day the Lord gives us, let us become consumed with the obedient pursuit instead of the perceived victory.”
Our vision of success is completing a task the way we envision it should be done; God’s definition of success is simply obedience.