Trying to relax in the waiting room, twenty-five-year-old Jeremy Smith glanced at his watch for the umpteenth time. His wife, Julia, was giving birth to their first child, and the waiting was beginning to wear on him. He felt like he’d been looking for the nurse forever. Would she ever show up? He stood up and began pacing back and forth.
“Loosen up,” said the only other man in the room. Up until that point, he had been keeping to himself, but Jeremy’s constant fidgeting was beginning to bug him. “Everything will be fine.”
“My wife’s having a baby,” replied Jeremy, though it was obvious, seeing as this was the father’s waiting room.
“I figured. I was just like that myself the first time,” the man responded. “My wife’s in labor too. This will be our fifth.”
“Five kids?” responded Jeremy, a little more abruptly than he meant to.
The man grinned. “Yep. Five. And it never gets old; there’s nothing like seeing your kid for the first time and then getting to watch them grow. Of course, not everything is flowers and sunshine, but being a parent is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Five kids? The man must be crazy. There’s no way I’m having that many. Jeremy made up his mind right then and there that he and Julia were only having one kid.
“Look, sit down and relax,” said the man. “Think on something else. It’s what I do. There’s no point in worrying yourself to death.”
Perhaps he’s right. Fretting won’t get anything done any faster. Jeremy settled back into his chair and thought about the events that brought him here.
He and Julia were married several years ago. They both had had profitable careers and planned to live them out, as the money and perks were quite good; and so they did for some time. Financially, they were very successful. Their plan was to purchase a large house on the Pacific coast. Then, less than a year ago, Julia found out she was pregnant. After much discussion between the two of them and some heated disagreements with their parents, they decided that having a baby was not in their best interests. Julia would have to quit her job, which would mean that they wouldn’t have enough income to afford their dreamhouse. So, Julia called a clinic and scheduled to have an abortion done.
Then on June 24th, only a few days before Julia’s appointment, the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade, making it more difficult to obtain abortions. The clinic that Julia was supposed to go to closed down, as did several others in the state. Once again, Jeremy and Julia had to make a decision. They could go out of state to get the procedure done. However, Jeremy was close to a promotion, and he didn’t know if he could afford to take that amount of time off. Julia was also having second thoughts; she kept wondering if they were doing the right thing. Finally, after some pleading from their parents, they decided to keep the child. One shouldn’t mess up their plans too badly.
So now Jeremy was waiting in a hospital for a child to be born, one whom he didn’t even want at first. For quite some time, he had felt apprehensive. His dreams of a large house and fancy cars were at risk of never happening. But now that the time had actually arrived, he couldn’t help but feel a little excited. Would it be a boy or a girl? What would it look like? Was he ready to be a father?
Jeremy broke out of his thoughts to see a nurse standing in front of him. He shot out of his chair.
“Yes?” he breathed, barely getting the word out.
The nurse smiled. “Your wife has given birth to a healthy baby girl.”
Jeremy just stood there as reality began to sink in. He was a father!
“Congratulations!” the other man said, shaking Jeremy’s hand. “Now go see your new daughter!”
Jeremy followed the nurse, who took him down a hallway that seemed to stretch forever. Finally, they turned into one of the rooms, where Julia looked up at him from her bed, exhausted but grinning from ear to ear. In her arms was a little bundle. She raised it up, and he carefully took it and stared at his new daughter.
“She’s so small,” he breathed as he placed his finger in her tiny hand. The fingers instinctively wrapped around it as large blue eyes stared up at him. Her head already had a mass of lightly-colored hair. Jeremy beamed. “She’s beautiful.”
“And she’s ours,” responded Julia. “I still can’t believe it.”
As he held his daughter, Jeremy’s mind wandered. He imagined his life a few years from now. He pictured himself arriving home from work to be greeted with a big hug from his daughter as his wife finished getting dinner ready. They would all sit and eat together. Then, perhaps they’d sit on the couch while he read her a story. They would go on picnics, visit the fair, and do all sorts of other fun activities together as a family. These were all things he never considered when he and Julia contemplated getting rid of her. He continued to imagine this new future until he was broken out of his trance by the arrival of his parents.
The next few minutes were spent with congratulations and hugs, but it didn’t take long before the new grandmother was seated in the corner with her new baby, grandfather standing right beside her. Jeremy stood beside Julia as he watched his parents practically drool over their girl.
“She’s going to be one spoiled grandchild, I can tell you,” said Jeremy, chuckling. When he got no response from Julia, he looked down to see a pained expression in her eyes as they began to water. He knelt down beside the bed.
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
She turned and looked at him, then buried her head into his shoulder as she wept. “We were going to kill her! We were going to kill our child!”
Jeremy went white as he realized the truth of Julia’s statement. Another vision of the future entered his mind. But this was a future without their daughter. He imagined himself arriving at a large house in a convertible. Upon entering, he finds his wife has not yet returned from work, so he heats up a microwave meal and heads to the couch. Grabbing the TV remote, he turns on his large plasma screen that almost fills the entire wall. Julia arrives home from an exhaustive day at work, gives a quick greeting, then heads straight to bed without supper. In this future, he had everything he wanted, but would he really have enjoyed it? There was no kid to hear giggle and laugh, no one to spend time with. The house, though large and fancy, was empty and mostly unused due to the extensive time he and his wife would spend at work.
A picture of a scale flashed before him. On the left was a small house, a cheap car, but also his daughter. On the right was a fancy villa, a sports car, and money, but with a tiny grave beside it all. Warm tears rushed down Jeremy’s face as he realized that if he had had his way, he would’ve chosen the wealth over his child.
“Oh, Julia, you’re right. We were going to destroy that precious little child for our own greed and desires. We were so wrong!”
“But you didn’t kill her.” Jeremy felt a hand upon his shoulder. He looked up to see Julia’s father standing there; he had not heard him arrive. “You may have wanted to at one point, but God had mercy and spared her. Be thankful and praise Him!”
God. It was something that Jeremy didn’t think about much. But looking over at the little bundle that Grandmother still held, he knew that a God must exist. A merciful God, who decided to save a little girl whose own parents didn’t want her at one point.
“Thank you, Lord!” cried Jeremy aloud. “I promise to take care of the treasure you have given us. I give you praise for your mercy.”
“Praise,” said Julia, wiping away her tears. “Let’s name her Praise, so we never forget.”
“That’s a perfect name,” responded Jeremy. He laughed as he watched both sets of grandparents carefully try to steal the child away from each other.
“And we can name our next daughter Mercy,” added Julia with a slight smile.
Jeremy looked at her as he remembered the resolution he made in the waiting room. I thought the man with five kids was losing it, but perhaps it was I who was crazy. Praise will need siblings.
“I think that’s a great idea.”