Baby Bear Shoes
Updated: Apr 27, 2018
"To trust God in the light is nothing―but to trust Him in the dark...that is Faith."
- Charles Spurgeon
They're sitting on my night stand. Grey, with tiny crochet stitches forming the itty bitty shape of feet. Two little ears, two black stitches for eyes and a mouth that looks like its smiling.
Baby bear shoes.
They've been there for a few weeks, still in perfect condition since we brought them home from the newborn section at a local store. I have my jewelry boxes and a favorite candle sitting on either side of them. I don't walk in or out of the room without my eyes lingering on them, taking in the perfect stitches, wondering how much more perfect they would be on tiny feet.
I want no pretense here― this isn't a roundabout way of announcing a pregnancy. This is just an outpouring of my heart, in fractured sentences and blurred ideas that rush back and forth between my head and my soul.
It was a sudden impulse to buy the shoes. We were sitting at a Starbucks, drinking cheap coffee, and I was watching what seemed like the tenth baby I'd seen that day.
"Let's go and buy something for a baby."
It was a whim. A whim riding on the surface of a longing that felt tangible at times.
"It'll be good. Sort of a way to keep focused on what we want."
So there we were. In the store. Browsing through racks and shelves of tiny clothes and hats. I felt awkward and out of place. Here I was, a very not-pregnant wife, shopping for something for a baby I didn't have.
It took me a while before I found the shoes. They were precious. I loved the tiny stitches and the little ears that had been sewn on. It was an easy decision.
I held them in my hands the whole drive home. I held them walking up the stairs. I held them in the middle of our bedroom, surrounded by pictures and memorabilia of the life Ryan and I had built together over the past 2 and a half years. I decided to put them on the nightstand, between the candle and the jewelry box. Tucked in a space that I kept clean and uncluttered. A spot I could see from my side of the bed. Late at night before turning out the lights or first thing in the morning as the sun came through the blinds.
I had a dream a few months ago. Normally, I'm not the sort of person who can recall dreams in clear detail. Sometimes I don't remember dreaming at all.
But I remembered this one. We were laying in bed, both still in pajamas with grey, early morning light coming through the shades on our bedroom window. The room was quiet, with the normal sounds of the refrigerator humming through the doorway between the bedroom and kitchen. I was propped up on one elbow, one hand tucked behind my head and the other rubbing a tiny, perfectly shaped little tummy. The onesie was orange, with little stripes that reminded me of Tigger. I can't remember exactly what his face looked like, but for some reason I knew it was a boy. His hair was wispy and sand-colored. His nose was perfect. He was snuggled in between Ryan and I, fast asleep and cozy underneath the blankets. I don't remember who moved first, but suddenly his little arms twitched, and I moved to scoop him up. He fit so perfectly in my arms.
And then I was awake. It took me a moment to reorient myself. I looked around the room. Nothing had changed. The blankets were folded across us in the same way. The light in the window hadn't shifted. I turned and stared at the spot between us.
It was empty.
I don't know why, but that little empty space felt like an anvil on my chest.
This is the side of vaginismus I don't even like to talk about. It's the side that feels like empty arms and a belly without a bump. The side that talks about splash pregnancies, syringe methods and IUI. It's lonely. It hurts in such a specific way. It feels too uncertain and dark for hope.
Sometimes I stand in the middle of days filled with treatment questions and dilating schedules and I think about those tiny shoes. Or that empty space in the bed. And I know what my heart wants: it wants tiny feet to fill the shoes and a warm, precious body to fill the space. It wants a belly bump and a due date and all the discomforts of a healthy pregnancy.
My heart breaks a little every time I hear a pregnancy announcement, or buy a gift for a baby shower. I get lost in a riptide of "why not me, God?" that sucks me under and steals my breath.
It's hard to look back at the past years and see progress, but look forward and still see such a long road ahead. It's hard to know how to feel. I'm not mourning a loss, but it feels as though I'm mourning a dream. My heart is aching for a baby I've never held. Sometimes the tears flow and my hands grip those little baby bear shoes and I fight against the onslaught of anxieties that keep me wondering whether or not it will ever be my turn.
In Psalms chapter 33, David pens, "We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone." (Ps. 33:20-22)
In the midst of raging emotions and an aching soul, what a clear promise this is. God the Father is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, because we can trust his name. His character. His reputation. And His intent.
The desire for children and the reality of severe vaginismus sometimes feel too weighty for those promises. Is it really true that God can be our shield against that deep rooted, empty arms, type of ache that comes from wanting a baby? Can we really put our hope―the hope for a child―in His hands and surrender it completely?
His word says we can. And His word is good. So, so good. It fills and restores. It never lies. It has the power to heal even the deepest of pain if we open our hearts and allow it to sink in.
All praise be to the God who cares for us so fiercely. I know He hears us when we cry over babies we haven't even held. When we feel as though we are surrounded by the joys of motherhood all the while being just a little too far away to grasp it.
My prayer for you and I in this struggle is this: that we learn to put our hope in the Lord. Wholeheartedly. That we learn how to trust His ways and His timing, and trust Him when He says "no" to the things we want so badly. I pray that His fierce and undying love surrounds us in those moments of grief and reminds us that our fulfillment is not in children, or in physical intimacy with our spouses, but in His divine purpose for us.
I hope you find encouragement through His word this week. Know that you are never alone. Your pain is real, but so is your Creator. And His love for you will always be sufficient.
"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22