Lessons from a Sonogram

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I used to think phrases like “stop growing” or “time needs to stand still” were those obligatory statements thrown around by parents of babies and toddlers. Now, as I catch glimpses of my baby, who honestly looks like a mini teenager, I find myself thinking those exact cliches.

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I don’t recommend scrolling through your camera roll if you’re feeling this way because as much as I am loving this toddler phase, I felt a little nostalgic as I revisited pictures of Milo as a newborn. It made me a little baby hungry, in fact.

Now I know there’s never a “good” time to get sick, but the thought of another hellacious pregnancy at this time in my life seems especially overwhelming.

With Milo, the morning sickness was cruel. I remember throwing up an average of fifteen times a day for several weeks. I couldn’t eat. I was dehydrated. I felt so weak that even holding a book in my hands made me shaky.

If you’re one of those people who “loves being pregnant” don’t tell me because I might punch you in the face. No, I’m kidding…but seriously, don’t tell me.

I recognize that I am so, so lucky to have gotten pregnant when so many, including some very close to me, struggle with infertility. But I’m not exaggerating when I say there were days I thought I might literally die.

On top of the morning sickness, I got a really bad infection early on in my pregnancy.

My doctor prescribed an antibiotic, but it seemed to do more harm than good. He concluded that I’d had an allergic reaction to it, and I went in for an emergency visit.

I wasn’t expecting to do an ultrasound that day, but my doctor figured What the heck?! I was there already and my first scheduled ultrasound was only a week away anyway.  Before the ultrasound, he looked at me and said, “You know, they’ve conducted studies about ultrasounds and morning sickness. Women who see their baby for the first time have reported a significant decrease in nausea in the days that follow.”

I was beyond excited to see my baby, but I felt cynical about that “fact.”

When I saw those wiggling limbs and that tiny profile shot on the monitor, I melted. Motherhood became real to me then. There really was something in there—someone—and that little person was mine.

I’ll never forget how I felt that day. That image of my baby literally showed me that there was a grand purpose to all of my suffering. The end result of a long 40 weeks would be human life!

I left that doctor’s appointment with a renewed sense of optimism. I immediately hung the sonogram on my fridge, and it served as a tangible reminder that all the puking and fatigue and discomfort would be worth it. It was like a blueprint of a future joy.  

And guess what? My doctor was right. I really did start to feel a little better after that first ultrasound.

Throughout my pregnancy, I’d often think about how nice it would be to have a “sonogram” so to speak for every trial we face—-some image or glimpse into the future that would shed light on our current suffering. I’d be a lot more patient and accepting of my hardships if I could just know the “why” behind the strife and how I would be blessed in the end.

But I guess that’s where faith comes in.

We’re taught that after much tribulation come the blessings. That is reassuring and hopeful.

I wonder, though, is it so outrageous to ask God for some spoilers? Am I lacking in faith if I plead for a figurative sonogram regarding my trials?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”

Sometimes I think we need to be content with answers like Just trust me or everything will work out in the end, but I also think there are times when it is appropriate to ask God for “eyes to see” what sacred blessings our current trials will yield.

I acted on this thought just a few months ago when I felt like misery was swallowing me up. I couldn’t understand how the trial I faced would ever work out for my good, and frankly, I thought it would destroy me.

I remember kneeling on the bathroom floor with swollen eyes, pleading for some understanding about my suffering. I boldly asked my Heavenly Father to just let me see why this trial was happening and where it would lead if I endured it well.

I felt so acutely aware that He loved me then and that a happy future was in store. That comfort eased my “spiritual nausea” the same way that my first ultrasound lessened my morning sickness.

The revelation didn’t stop there. The Spirit communicated some very clear answers after that night. God unrolled the blueprints “line upon line” until I refused to abandon my faith and trust in Him.

When we suffer so deeply and so intensely, it’s easy to feel like God has unrealistic expectations of us. But He doesn’t expect us to do it alone. Christ will take our hand and lead us from point A (the trial) to point Z (the blessing) with grace and compassion and empathy until that metaphorical sonogram becomes our reality.

I think we’d also do well to remember that the most magnificent blessings in life often come after a lot of grief and anger and frustration and waiting. They often come after much sorrow and self-pity, and tears—sometimes endless tears. But when they do come, they come gloriously.

No matter how Heavenly Father chooses to intervene or how vivid the revelation, we can embrace our Savior and know that that these words of the beloved President Monson ring true:

“The future is as bright as your faith.”

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