In honor of Mother's Day this week, I am feeling nostalgic. Please join me as I wrap up my trip back to those early days...days of hope and joy, and fuzzy-headed (rather large) miracles...and also stories of sadness and loss, and months of fragile hope and darkness. The jumble of emotions and stories which pave my journey to motherhood.
Catch up on the Journey:
Well, wouldn't you know it? The very week I took a deep breath and first called an adoption agency...I found out I was pregnant.
Stop the presses. Wait a minute. I'm PREGNANT?!!! But, we finished the last infertility treatment over a month ago! We weren't even trying this time.
Part of me wanted to ask God, "Really? For real??? After all that, and now I'm pregnant???"
The last, last test? But, I was too OVER THE MOON excited to dwell on those sarcastic thoughts! I don't even remember what thoughts I was thinking as I purchased that very last pregnancy test. Come to think of it--that was the very last test I ever purchased. Maybe I just had one leftover in my bathroom cabinet...because I have no memory of purchasing it. Because, if I did, I am quite sure I purchased it with a calloused heart. I had just bought so many tests over the years, only to toss them into the trashcan with tears in my eyes.
2 lines to change our world. But, that day, whatever my brain was thinking, 2 beautiful lines appeared. Two lines that would forever change our lives, and complete our little family.
Just couldn't help it. Since my last pregnancy had ended in miscarriage, I was afraid to be excited this time around. But, to be honest, I just couldn't help myself. I was glowing and beaming right from the beginning.
Again? I made it through the scary Week 8 that I had miscarried the last time. However, as I was finishing Week 9, I started spotting again. I wasn't cramping like last time--but still, I was scared to death. I instantly called my fertility doctor, even though he didn't treat pregnant women, or deliver babies anymore. I just had been through so much with him, and trusted him.
I loved my doctor even more when he told me, "Of course I want to see you. Come on in, and we'll get everything checked out. Once we figure out what's going on, you can switch to your OB doctor." Dave had a meeting that morning that he couldn't get out of, and I didn't want to wait until the afternoon, so I went without him. I didn't even think twice about it...Until I got to the doctor's office, and my doctor asked with a concerned look, "Is Dave not with you today?" I was SO embarrassed that I had come alone. I'm sure my doctor was worried that I would have bad news, and wouldn't have anyone to drive me home.
We talked through my spotting symptoms, and then he performed an ultrasound. It was only a couple of seconds before he said, "Well, look at that! There's your baby! And there is the heart--do you see it beating?"
What a beautiful heart! And, then, I DID cry. Tears rolled down my big, smiling cheeks as I saw our baby's teeny tiny heart just 'a beating away.
Hope. My doctor assured me that once you see your baby on ultrasound--and especially the baby's heartbeat--it is very unusual for a mother to miscarry at that point. Those were the sweetest words a worried mama could hear!
And joy. From that moment on, my pregnancy was just joyful. If I had any morning sickness or other awful pregnancy side effects, I don't remember them. I was just so elated finally to be pregnant, that I soaked up every moment! I do remember especially loving Sonic fresh lime slushes. Mmm, couldn't get enough of those frosty treats!
Big sister already. It was also so much fun this time sharing this pregnancy with our 4-year-old daughter Rebecca. She decided to name our baby "Juicy." I'm not sure where she got that name, other than from the Juicy Fruit gum her Nana shared with her? She talked to baby Juicy all the time, and frequently wanted to know what Juicy was saying back. When she found out we were having a girl, Rebecca switched her name to Susie and Christina. Depending on the day you asked her.
Girls, daughters, sisters. I can't tell you how overjoyed I was to be having another girl. Of course, Dave and I would have been thrilled to know what having a son is like. But, for some reason, God wanted our family to have girls. I knew that Rebecca gaining a sister was a precious gift from God. From the moment we found out we were having another girl, I had visions of matching smocked dresses every holiday, and toy boxes filled with Barbie dolls and dress up clothes.
My not-so-difficult choice. As time got closer to my December due date, my doctor and I visited about delivery options. He said I could either have a planned C-Section, or I could opt to rip my precious parts in half and deliver a gigantic baby.
"Well, doc, may I think about that? No, you know what? I think I'll choose to keep my parts intact. I'll take the cozy spinal block and C-Section. Plus, the OCD side of me is doing cartwheels right now that I get to CHOOSE my baby's birthday."
So, I picked out a nice, even date (because even numbers are better) on a Friday in December for our daughter's birthday. How fun is that?
Oh, all right, ask your question. Oh, and in case you cruel people are wondering...I'll answer your nagging question: Why, yes, I did get really HUGE again! I remember asking our very active 4 1/2-year-old Rebecca at the time, "Don't you want Mommy to hold you while she sits in her chair?" Or, "Why don't you play right here by Mommy's chair?" Or, "Let's watch Veggie Tales one more time!" Every chance I got, I tried to sit and put my feet up. With Rebecca running around, that wasn't much.
The good and the bad... Let me tell you--being able to plan your birth date, is both wonderful, and terrible. Wonderful in that family and friends get to plan around the date. A lot of our family came to town, and I was able to get everything lined up ahead of time. The terrible part--was that the night before--I couldn't sleep a wink. Not even a wink. I guess I was just so excited, and my adrenaline was off-the-charts crazy. Our family was about to be complete! Rebecca was about to have a little sister! We were going to be holding our NEW BABY in the morning!!! My brain never stopped thinking and planning the whole night long.
It's SHOWTIME! When 4:30 am finally rolled around, Dave and I got up to leave for the hospital. We were supposed to be there at 5 am, to prep for the C-Section. In true Dave and MarytheKay fashion, we were late. It makes me smile to remember how our pastor at the time greeted us just inside the doors of the hospital nursery. Of course--he was on time! He prayed with us, hugged us goodbye, and then we stepped up to the nurse's station to check in. I smiled big again--because my friend Pam was there to check us in. Since we were able to plan the birth date, Pam had told me she would try to be on duty for the delivery. Something about her being there to greet us, and then walk us through the entire surgery prep process, just made our delivery that much more special to me.
Tissue, please. (Remember, after our first baby I'm the girl who TEARED UP every time I passed the hospital...) So, having our friend there to greet us and be there through the miraculous event, just meant the world to me. Plus--she was the very first one to hold our Sara Beth! Like, fresh out of the womb first to hold her!
I should film a commercial about C-Sections. Having a planned C-Section was almost relaxing. I got to just lie back on the bed and answer questions, sign consent forms, and get prepped for surgery. They wheeled my bed into the surgical suite, and started my spinal block. My doctor, his assistant, and the nurses all gathered around my bed, and smiled down at me. I smiled back--ready to meet our sweet baby. Dave was right beside me in his fancy blue scrubs again, and was grinning and checking on me. What more could a girl want? Everyone was smiling and happy and ready to bring our baby into the world! Now, maybe I'm forgetting details...or maybe there were some happy drugs in that spinal block...but that is how the entire event seemed to me--happy and relaxed!
Let the crying commence. The next thing I knew my doctor was introducing our sweet Sara Beth to the world. She came into this world with a hearty cry! A cry that made ME cry! Pam held her up, and handed her to her daddy. Dave brought her around and laid her on my chest. I smiled through tears at my precious baby girl. She just stared back with wide eyes. I remember thinking how beautiful she was, and that she had brown hair. We now had a blondie and a brownie!
The stats. The nurse announced Sara Beth's stats: She weighed 9 lbs, 8.5 oz and was 19 1/4 inches long. (Later, we found out she was measured wrong...she was 21 inches, just like her big sister.) Also a big baby like her sister--especially since she was born 10 days early!
Love, and overwhelming gratitude. After recovery, when I finally was wheeled to our hospital room, the nurses brought me our Sara Beth for good. They handed me that precious tightly-wrapped bundle, and I pulled her in close, and cradled her against my chest. Looking down at our daughter, I could just feel my heart overflowing with love and gratitude. God had been so kind to us. He had given us the desires of our hearts. The months and years of waiting did not matter in that moment. He had given us 2 beautiful gifts we did not deserve. Two daughters. Two sisters. Two little hands to hold and guide through this life.
For a season. We understood (and still do) that these sweet girls are not ours to keep. They are on loan to us for such a short time. We prayed fervently then, as we do now, that God would give us wisdom for these girls...so that we will use our short days wisely. That we would fill their little hearts up overflowing with love, fill their brains with kind words, and all the truths and stories of God we know, and wrap their little lives in a cocoon of safety and security. So that one day, when our short days are over, our girls are able to burst from their cocoons and FLY! Glittering in the sun and fluttering in the wind and soaring above the horizon.
The reality of it. Some days may not be easy. Some days are downright difficult. But, oh, are they ever worth it!
Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Personal note: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for indulging me this week, and allowing me to tell these stories. Thank you for your encouraging words in person--and within the Comments. I wanted to get these stories written down for our daughters someday; and in the process, have been overwhelmed by your kind words. Thank you! And thank you to those of you who are sharing in our daughters' journeys. I don't want just any ole' village raising our girls...but I sure am grateful for YOU.