Edited to add: I've had most of this post written for sometime, but have hesitated in sharing it because it's pretty personal and I am a pretty private person. But, first and foremost, this blog is somewhat of a journal for me of our family's life, and although I choose to share it publicly, I mainly write it for me. And since this is something that was a huge part of our family's life, I wanted to include it here.
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we found out we were expecting Miss Presley on Feb. 12 of last year, which turned out to be exactly 8 months prior to her birth on Oct.12. And we kept that news to ourselves for sometime, but finally shared it with friends and family when I was about 10 weeks along, which just so happened to be one year ago this past weekend, yesterday to be exact. Because that was about a year ago, it's been heavy on my mind this week, and even though it’s somewhat personal, I wanted to give a little more to the story, because I feel we were blessed with a little miracle, and it would just be a sin of disobedience to keep it all to myself and not give God the glory for what he orchestrated.
Matthew and I were never a couple that had our whole life planned out before we got married. There were no five year plans, or ten year plans, or any plans at all really. At that point, we just knew we wanted to be married. And when it came to kids, we didn’t have plans for that either. To be quite honest, and I realize this would go against what any good marriage counselor would advise, we never even really discussed children in terms of how many we wanted or when we wanted them before we got married. In our defense, we married quite young – I was 21 and M was 23 – and kids were the furthest thing from our mind at that point. I guess in a general sense, we knew we would have kids SOMEDAY, and at that time, someday seemed really far away.
Flash forward several years…we had been married over four years. I had what, at the time, I thought was a good job, Matthew was in his last year of college to finish his education degree, and we had both been struck to a mild degree by that affliction that most couples get at some point in their marriage called “baby fever”. Actually, for us, it was more just a realization that we didn’t really have any reason to put this off any longer, and we both knew we wanted a baby, so why not go for it? Our big plan was to aim to have said baby in May of 2006, because Matthew would be finishing up school that month and he would have the summer off before starting a teaching job in the fall, and that would give me most of the summer off for maternity leave. As we now know, we were blessed to have absolutely no trouble conceiving, and ended up with a due date in early April instead of May, and then Miss Mattie also made her appearance a month early, so our baby planned for May came in March. I have since learned that in the business of baby making, you rarely get exactly what you want as far as timing goes.
After Mattie was born, we had babies off the mind for quite some time. And like I said before, we didn’t really know if we wanted a second at all. We were all consumed with Matilyn Mackenzie, and she pretty much took over our every thought, much to our delight. Almost as soon as Mattie turned one year old, the questions started coming from every direction…”when are y’all going to have another”, “when is Mattie going to get a sibling?”, etc. I never ask those kinds of questions of anyone (except my sister : ), because I despise getting them. Matthew and I have always had kind of an unspoken rule about family planning, and that is that we don’t discuss it with anyone but each other (and anyone reading this post, I guess). We kind of made a decision to table all discussions about future children until Mattie was at least two years old, because we knew we wouldn’t want another one any sooner than that anyway.
And then time flew, as it so often does in child-raising, and before we knew it Mattie was celebrating her second birthday and starting to become a 'big girl'. As that year went on and progressed, Mattie continued to grow and mature, and was daily becoming more little girl and less baby. The more independent (and potty trained!) she became, the more I could picture our lives with two. However, I still wasn’t quiiiiiiiite ready. I have said before that I think it’s a much harder thing to decide to have a second than it is to have a first. With a first baby, you’re kind of blissfully unaware of just how much a tiny little baby is going to change your lives. With a second, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and it’s kind of hard, or it was for me at least, to dive into that again, this time knowing that mine and Matthew’s lives weren’t the only two that were going to change. It would be a huge change for Mattie, and I wanted to make sure she was at a point where she would lovingly accept a sibling (and consistently use a toilet).
So, finally, after having this on our minds for some time, we decided in late summer/early fall 2008 that now was the time. Mattie was 2 ½, completely potty-trained, and would be a three year old by the time we had the baby, which was a nice spacing, we thought. Inconveniently enough, it was around this time that I began having some issues, and without going into too much detail in such a public forum, I’ll just say they were of the female variety. By the end of the year, it was pretty clear that the issues I was having were causing us to have some problem conceiving. I would never, ever venture so far as to say we struggled with infertility. We didn’t. We had several months of disappointment, but nothing that could compare with the heartbreak I know some couples experience as they are unable to have children of their own. I felt like I had a very small, very limited, and very brief glimpse down that painful path, and I am so thankful we were spared that heartache. But, by the end of January, I was concerned enough with what was going on with me to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Being the level headed person that I am, I’m not proud to admit that when something like this is going on, my mind immediately goes to worst case scenario. I had no idea what my “problem” could be, but I was sure it was bad and that we would likely never have another child. See? Worst case scenario! Also, I've learned the hard way that the internet is your worst enemy, and only adds fuel to the fire, when you’re a worst-case-scenario thinker and trying to self diagnose. When I called my doctor and spoke to my nurse, she encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. I quickly informed her that I had had at least half dozen negative pregnancy tests over the past few months, and I was quite sure THAT WAS NOT IT! So, she scheduled me an appointment to come in on February 19, 2009, and told me again to continue testing because sometimes it takes a while for a positive to show up. “Whatever”, is exactly what I thought.
I should mention here too that as it became clear to me that we were having a problem, I made this an issue of prayer. I know that I should have done that from the very beginning, but I’m guilty of thinking I had this all under control all by myself, as we mere humans so often do. We had no problem the first time, so why would we this time? I began to pray earnestly for a pregnancy. It’s funny how you don’t realize just how bad you want something until you’re faced with the idea of not having it, and that was certainly the case with me. I found several bible verses that brought me some comfort and assurance, and I printed them out on cardstock, put them on my bedside table, and daily prayed for this baby I so badly wanted, and claimed these verses.
During the weeks leading up to that doctor’s appointment, I began to have some symptoms that I knew could be a result of a pregnancy, but thought it might also be a result of something else, or it might also be nothing at all. I think anyone who has tried to get pregnant and had difficulty would admit that your mind can play tricks on you and make you think you’re experiencing a pregnancy symptom when you’re really not. Still, it prompted me to go to Wal-mart on a night when I was all by myself, and buy a pregnancy test. I was so sure it was going to be negative, that I bought a package of six. Pregnancy tests are not cheap, and a box of six is certainly not cheap, but I just assumed it would be awhile, if ever, that I would see a positive, so I might as well stock up. I was home alone that evening, so I took the test when I got home, and waited a while before I went back and checked on it. Imagine my surprise when I saw the word “pregnant”. You could have knocked me over with a feather! Shocked does not began to describe what I felt. I had seen “not pregnant” many times over the previous weeks, and I just fully expected to see it again. And I, being of little faith I guess, thought for sure it was a false positive. So, since I had a box full of pregnancy tests, I took another, and again, positive. And even after a second positive, I still did not allow myself to completely believe that what I was seeing could actually be true.
I called my doctor’s office the next day, and told the nurse I had spoken to before about my new development, and I even asked her what else could cause a pregnancy test to be positive besides a pregnancy. She basically told me, without coming right out and calling me stupid (bless her heart), that if I was having positive pregnancy tests, then I was pregnant (duh!). But, they still wanted me to come in for my appointment on February 19 to confirm it and establish a due date. So, I went in, had an exam, and even had an ultrasound, and found out that against what I had convinced myself were insurmountable odds, I was indeed 5 weeks pregnant and due in October. I can’t describe how nervous I was having that ultrasound. Five weeks is too soon to be able to see a heartbeat or much else on ultrasound, but you can still see some things that indicate a pregnancy, so it did give me some comfort and assurance, but not completely.
To make what is already a very long story a little shorter, I’ll just say that in the weeks that followed, I really struggled with worry and fear of miscarriage to the point that I was all but paralyzed by it. I know where and who that worry and fear comes from, but I just could not get past it. The weird thing was, I didn't have a moment's concern about miscarriage when I was pregnant with Mattie. The difference this time was I have watched so many friends go through that heartbreak in the time since I had her. Also I think it was just because this pregnancy was so much more difficult to acheive and so unlikely with the circumstances I was dealing with that I just felt like it could slip through my fingers at any time. God dealt with me and my fear until I was finally at a place where I realized that, although it would surely break my heart, my world would not end if this pregnancy terminated prematurely for some reason. I was a part of a Beth Moore bible study group at our church during that time, and one night Beth "preached" a lesson on exactly what I was going through....being consumed by fear. I have never felt so much like someone was talking through the TV screen straight to me. That was a turning point for me in that struggle, and I finally began to truly let go of the worry from that day forward.
After going back to the doctor at 9 weeks, and having another ultrasound where I could see an actual baby (Presley!), tiny little arms and legs starting to grow, and an actual heartbeat, I relaxed even more, and began to really let myself believe that we were going to have a baby in a few months! By that time, the waist of my jeans was already beginning to get tight, and as unpleasant as that was, it gave me such comfort to know I was growing because a baby was growing. We told Mattie, family, and friends just days after that appointment....one year ago yesterday.
One of the verses I had printed out while I was praying for Presley was 1 Samuel 1:27 “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has given me what I asked of Him”. I can barely read that verse and think of my sweet Presley without getting teary eyed. I wanted to put it on her birth announcement, but it just wouldn’t fit, so I’m sharing it here now. I know how blessed we are to have both our children, and there is not a night that my head hits the pillow that I don’t thank Him for it. I cannot think of a better verse to describe our 2009 than Psalm 126:3 “He has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Is that not just perfect?