I know my title sounds a bit mean, but I’ll explain.
For many years, I looked forward to becoming a wife and mother. As a high school girl, we did silly stuff. Unfortunately, during my senior year, there was a high rate of teen pregnancy at my school. One day in business class, someone suggested we try to determine the sex of one of these girl’s babies by using the old needle on a thread method. If you’re not familiar with this, you thread a needle and dangle it over the pregnant woman’s belly (or hand) and it will begin to move. If it goes in a circle, it’s supposed to be a girl. If it swings back and forth, a boy. I know it sounds nuts…even perhaps bordering on sorcery, but it was scarily accurate. We even decided to try it out on our teacher who was many years past child-bearing and it predicted that she had 3 children….2 girls and a boy….which strangely enough was correct! So, we in our silly teen minds decided that we would try it on everyone. We soon learned from the expert “needle reader” in our class, that if the needle changed directions at any time during the “test” it meant twins. Imagine my surprise (and horror) to learn that I was to have 8 (yes, you read that right!), children…which included 2 sets of twins. I was thrilled! Wow! A houseful of kids! This would be a change since I was an only child….an only child that always wanted brothers and sisters. Now….I just had to find the right guy who could put up with 8 children. I began to think I should look for a Mormon, Catholic, or Mennonite guy. They all had big families!
How stupid of me to put stock in this! When we all parted from highschool, most of my friends (and I) were convinced that I would be one of the first to get married. It was one of my biggest goals and dreams. I’m not sure why we even thought this, as I wasn’t allowed to date till I was 18 and I wouldn’t turn eighteen until 3 months after graduation. Sure, I had “boyfriends” in highschool, but we never officially dated. It wouldn’t be until I was 21 that I had my first real beau, and he wasn’t about to tolerate having 8 children. I’m not sure he’d even have wanted one child, as he was so wrapped up in himself that’s all he could think about…..but that’s another story!
Years went by, and one by one my friends were all getting married and starting to have children. I was starting to lose hope that I’d ever have these 8 children that I was “supposed” to have, yet alone even get married!
Finally, David entered my life! (That’s a story I’ll have to tell later!) We soon realized that we wanted to spend our lives together. We thought 2 or 3 children would be a good thing (dare I tell him I had the potential for 8? Nah, I was 30 years old by this point and a little wiser, I might add!) We married June 23, 2001, and shortly thereafter, I celebrated my 31st birthday. It was that birthday that my biological clock started to tick very loudly!!
In January of the following year, we decided we would start trying to have a baby. Almost immediately, I became pregnant! Wow! (Surely that needle test was accurate….I was “Fertile Myrtle!”) The pregnancy was far from easy. In the first trimester alone, I had 7 ultrasounds because it seemed like every week or so, I was having what they call a “threatened miscarraige.” There was a lot of bed rest during those early weeks. I developed sciatica only 5 weeks into the pregnancy, which some thought I was faking….trust me, I wasn’t. Came to find out later, because of how my uterus tilted (I know, too much info….) was probably the cause for this dilemma.
I got to my 31st week of pregnancy and it was birthday time again. Fortunately for me, every September at Red Lobster is “shrimp month” and they offer endless shrimp….mmmmmm, my favorite. So, to celebrate my birthday, we went to RL and I ordered the shrimp. BAD CHOICE! The next day, I was swollen and looking like the Michelin Man. My blood pressure was sky high and I was sent to the hospital. We blamed it on the shrimp dinner which was full of sodium, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as that. From the hospital I was sent home on blood pressure medication and strict bed rest. Ugh!
This began a series of weekly doctor’s appointments and having to be taken care of. There was so much to do yet to prepare, and there I was laying in bed! I am blessed to have such a wonderful family and church family. My church brought in meals. Dave and I never went hungry! One lady came and Fall house-cleaned my home (I’m not sure it’s been that clean since!). A group of guys from church came and helped Dave finish the baby’s room and get it all set up.
Almost 4 weeks after being put on bedrest, I went to my doctor’s appointment (which incidentally, was where I also worked) and after my appointment, the girls were going to give me a baby shower. Dr. Brown came into the room and told me the words I knew I was going to hear. “You’re headed to the hospital. We need to induce. Your blood pressure is out of control despite what we’ve been doing. You have all the signs of pre-eclampsia.”
I had already figured this. In fact that morning, I made sure I got a bath (not a shower mind you, but a bath) and shaved my legs. That was stupid of me….being home alone, very pregnant, and stuck in a tub. I’m still amazed I ever pulled it off!
“You have 20 minutes for your baby shower and then you must go to the hospital,” said Dr. Brown.
I was wisked to the shower where I opened a stack of gifts in a whirlwind, had pictures taken with a cake I never got to eat, and was then escorted to my Mom’s car with gifts in tow and rushed to the hospital. We called Dave on the way and he immediately left work to come and be with me.
Long story short….48 hours later with a failed induction, pre-eclampsia that was turning into HELLP Syndrome, and a baby in distress, I ended up with an emergency c-section. Crying a pitiful little bird-like cry, into the world came a 5lb 6oz, Katie, fighting for her life. Less that 24 hours later, she was rushed to Hershey Medical Center and admitted to their NICU. Two weeks followed of sitting by her bassinet day and night, holding her every moment possible and pumping enough breast milk to feed a starving third-world country (because she wasn’t drinking it fast enough).
I was exhausted. This wasn’t how motherhood was to be! I was supposed to be home, holding my little plump bundle of joy while people came and oohed and aahed over her. Instead, I sat at the hospital, looking at a scrawny little infant that looked like something out of a “Feed the Children” campaign. I was depressed……very depressed, but I would admit that to no one. I didn’t want to appear weak.
Eventually, life improved and we got to all go home and start being a family. Katie made great progress, and by the time she was 2, you’d never know she had ever been a preemie.
We were ready to have more children. But, sadly that never happened. (That will be a post in itself someday….way too long to add to this!) After Katie turned 2 and I went through a few lost pregnancies and two failed adoptions, I began to hate Mother’s Day. I felt as though everyone was mocking me. It was as though (in my mind) everyone was saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, but not to you! You aren’t good enough to be a mom. Look, you couldn’t even get the first pregnancy right.”
So, every year for a while, I’d sit at church and hear all those great things about being a mom and how children are a blessing and I’d cry. It hurt inside to think that I would be the mama to only one child….ever. What happened to the 2 or 3 we wanted to have? What happened to those 8 children I was supposed to have? I was inadequate.
Poor, Katie. What an awful mom she had! I loved her so much, but yet I couldn’t bring myself to be happy. I deeply regret that the first few years of her life, I wasn’t completely there for her. I was too busy being wrapped up in my self pity to see just how blessed I was. But I learned and I grew and now realize that God has given me such a special gift in this girl!!!
I still identify with Hannah from the bible. In I Samuel 1:27-28b are the key verses from Hannah’s story for me…”I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord.” Sometimes, God says no. I know He had good reasons for not letting us have more children than we did. But He did give us such a blessing in Katie! I only wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to realize that.
Katie has given her heart to the Lord, and I am so happy about that! She has much to learn, but I hope that I can guide her on that journey. I think too of my mom, who wanted more children as well, but only got me. I wonder if she too struggled with these things as she worked her way to maturity.
Finally, I can hear those words, “Happy Mother’s Day” and be glad about it. It took a while, but it happened. I wish all the moms….even those without children who are moms in their hearts…a wonderful Mother’s Day!