56: Before the Baby Comes

56: Before the Baby Comes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Before the Baby Comes

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.

~Carl Sandburg

Donna was the first friend I made after moving from Vermont to Nashville in 1986. Since we both worked in the medical field and enjoyed walking, gardening, and laughing, she quickly became a dear friend. Besides attending a weekly church group together, we hoofed it around the Vanderbilt track on a regular basis in our usual fruitless effort to lose weight.

Donna had always wanted to be a mother but for five frustrating years nothing had happened despite Pergonal shots and endometriosis surgery. We all rejoiced when she finally conceived, but then at three months, the unthinkable happened — she miscarried. I cried with her at the painful loss of her baby and her hope. The painful saga continued into year six: every month starting hopeful but ending with bitter disappointment. Since I knew she and her husband would make ideal parents, I prayed (along with her family and church group), but no further pregnancies occurred.

Unlike Donna, I was ambivalent about motherhood. Did I really want to lose all my free time, money, and sleep? Did I want to deal with nasty diapers and whining? What if I turned into a cranky, inept mother? What if my children turned into selfish brats, drug addicts, or pedophiles? I was afraid to rock the boat, or in this case, the cradle!

My husband, however, wanted children and I knew he’d make a fantastic father. When I turned thirty-one, my husband tossed out the gentle hint: “You’re not getting any younger, dear.” As a doctor, I already knew birth defect rates increased after age thirty-five, and with Donna’s experience, that conceiving could take years. I decided to just let nature take its course. “We’re not going to try,” I insisted. “We’re just not going to prevent it—if it’s meant to happen, it will.” I figured with our hectic schedules, it would takes months, maybe even years.

Wrong! Try one month! I couldn’t believe it when the very first month I got off birth control I conceived. My husband bounced around the room while I retched into the toilet, nauseated and in shock.

Once I was over the morning sickness, I warmed up to the idea of motherhood, except for the overwhelming guilt that consumed me every time I walked the track with Donna. Why me and not her? She had yearned for a baby for years and had tried so hard. I got pregnant the first month. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right, and I dreaded telling her.

In fact, for months I didn’t! Instead, I begged God to bless her with a pregnancy before I had to tell her. But by my sixth month, I was showing and couldn’t delay anymore. When I told her, she cried. “I didn’t even know you wanted a baby.” Talk about guilt.

I petitioned God even more on her behalf. I researched promising scripture verses and all the Old Testament stories of infertile women who eventually conceived: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. As I prayed, I begged God to bless Donna, just as He had blessed these Old Testament matriarchs. I also added a caveat: Please make it happen before my baby is born. I knew it would be difficult for her to watch me with my newborn, and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her or put a wedge in our friendship. Day and night I uttered the same prayer: “Bless Donna with a baby, and let her conceive before my baby is born.” It became my mantra.

Eight months into my pregnancy, my water broke and nine hours later, at 8 a.m. on October 4th, my wonderful son, Steven, made his debut. Instant love and joy flowed through me as I gazed at my adorable little boy, a true blessing from God.

Once Steven was asleep, Nate and I called our friends and family with the news. I dreaded calling Donna. In fact, she was the last phone call I made because I was disappointed with God. Never had I prayed with as much faith, consistency, or fervor as I had prayed for Donna. But I had nothing to show for it. It had all been a waste of time. I made the dreaded call, and she promised to come by later that day.

After oohing and ahhing and agreeing that yes, Steven was the cutest baby on the face of the earth, Donna said, “There’s something I’m dying to tell you. I found out at 7:00 this morning that I’m pregnant!”

My mouth dropped. She was pregnant? Tears welled in my eyes and I couldn’t stop grinning. God not only answered my prayer, but timed it to the very hour!

Of course, I knew I wasn’t the only one praying for Donna. Her husband, family, friends, prayer group, and even a missionary in Japan were all lifting up prayers and petitions daily. Some had fasted. But that God had timed it to the very hour before my son was born was God’s special blessing.

Nine months later, Donna delivered a healthy, beautiful baby girl who she named Michelle. Michelle is now a beautiful twenty-two-year-old missionary and will marry this spring.

~Sally Willard Burbank

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