I stared at the two red lines on the pregnancy test. I grabbed the box out of the trash and reread the instructions. Yes, two red lines indicated a positive result. After three years of disappointment, my husband, Kim, and I were having a baby! 

Over the next few weeks we found ourselves saying, “When the baby’s here . . .” Kim drew up a list of names; I planned the nursery and read the entire book What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

But we didn’t tell our parents, our siblings, or our friends. Maybe because when I saw my obstetrician, Dr. Maciulla, she ordered blood tests to evaluate my hormones and restricted my activities. “Let’s just be cautious until we see your eight-week sonogram,” she advised.

Finally eight weeks passed and I would have the chance to see the baby’s heartbeat and tiny form. At the sonography center the tech introduced herself as Mary and instructed me to lie on the table. She moved the probe over my stomach, pointing out fuzzy black-and-white images on the monitor. “See, there’s the gestational sac,” she stated.

I looked at the little dark spot on the screen.

She kept the probe over the area. Then she scowled. Intently I watched her face. She had grown quiet, and then she turned the monitor away from me so I couldn’t see it. I didn’t even ask. I was too scared to hear the answer.

“I’ll call Dr. Maciulla with the results,” she said. “Why don’t you stay in the waiting room. Maybe she can discuss this with you.”

Now I had no doubt. Something was wrong.

As I sat there, I wished I’d brought Kim with me. I had thought it would be a minor test, a confirmation of our dream.

Fifteen minutes later, Mary came out to the lobby and told me to go to Dr. Maciulla’s office in the same medical building. 

“I’m so sorry, Lori. The sonogram showed that you have a blighted ovum,” my obstetrician told me. “That means there is nothing in the gestational sac.”

I swallowed. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “And your blood tests indicate that your hormones are leveling out. They should be doubling every couple of days. This pregnancy will not result in a baby.”

Changing my destiny

She said we could try again, and we did. But months passed. When Easter rolled around and everyone talked of new life and buds and growth, I could focus only on death. The death of a dream. The death of a child who had never even had a chance to form.

Then Christmas decorations appeared in stores, and Christmas carols dominated the radio stations. Our baby would have been born about now, I thought. I should have a baby in my arms this Christmas.

Those thoughts mocked me every time I sat still and quiet, so my eyes often filled with tears on Sabbath. During the Christmas church service I once again silently dwelled in the pain of childlessness.

Then the minister’s wife began to read the morning Scripture: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. . . . Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given.”*

What did she just say? I had heard those words every Christmas for 35 years, but suddenly they spoke directly to me. The Bible does promise, “I will not leave you fatherless.”** But it also promises, “I will not leave you childless. I will send a baby to save you—the most important baby in history. This baby will change your destiny.”

I needed that reminder then, as I do every day. No matter what happens on this earth, unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given.


* Isaiah 9:1-6

** John 14:18


Lori Peckham teaches writing classes at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.