It is so funny how we change and grow, how throughout our lives viewpoints so strongly held can completely shift. In my life I have gone from believing in God at a young age, to completely atheist during my teens and early twenties, to agnostic in my mid-twenties, to Christian at age 27. It is interesting how those things we fight the hardest can end up meaning the most to us.
I remember very clearly as a teenager declaring to my closest friends: “I will NEVER have kids. Or, if I do maybe I will adopt one or two so I don’t have to get fat. But I really don’t think I will have any, kids are annoying!”
Obviously that is a paraphrase of the original sentiment, but all of the above points were expressed a number of times, to a number of people. I was not going to be a mom. Nope, not me. Not ever.
Yes, it is funny how hard we fight the path and identity that is our true calling and destiny. By the time I finally stopped running from Jesus I had three children; Brock was almost one year old, Tapanga was under six, and Justice was not yet four. Three kids (two adopted, one biological), and a heart for Jesus, by age twenty-seven. Not bad for a former atheist who was not going to have any kids, or might eventually consider adopting one or two.
When Dylan and I decided to try for a biological child, we felt our family was complete enough, we were happy with our two girls. If we were meant to have more, it would happen, but we would not take any extreme measures to conceive. Brock came along easily enough, and when he was around a year old we began discussing whether or not we should “try for another”. Or rather, I began asking Dylan what he thought. I think deep down I wanted another, I just had to wait for my beloved husband to have the same revelation.
I think I helped him along with a few questions and comments like:
“The girls have each other to play with, Brock is so much younger he doesn’t really have anyone”
“In twenty years what are we more likely to regret, having a fourth or stopping at three?”
“Three is already a big family, I’m sure one more wouldn’t be that much more work”
“Well, if we are going to have another we should decide soon so they aren’t too far apart in age.”
Yes, we could afford it. Yes we had room in our vehicles, home, and hearts. “So why not?” I wondered.
Some fall memories
I think every time I mentioned more children Dylan probably froze from some form of post-traumatic stress; induced by the irrational, mood-swinging behaviours of my first pregnancy. It is quite likely he could barely suppress a shudder at the thought of me pregnant again. I nearly shudder at the memory of my attitude during my first pregnancy! Glow? More like glare! Yikes!
Anyway, another thing that made Dylan a little gun-shy of expanding our family was sleep. Or perhaps I should say, fear of a lack of sleep. “I don’t think I can handle the newborn stage again!” He declared one day. “I mean, Brock is just now sort of sleeping through most nights, I don’t want to go back to the sleepless nights, I really don’t think I can handle it!” I probably did not have much to say to that, except maybe the cliche “every baby is different,” because those first months with Brock were rough.
Despite the potential challenges, I really felt we should have another baby. Despite my feelings, Dylan really felt unsure about another baby. We were at a bit of an impasse to say the least.
One day Dylan mentioned to his employer (a father of three grown children) that we were considering trying for a fourth. “Or at least Kyla is considering it,” Dylan likely added to his previous statement. Dylan’s employer shared that he was not really sure why he and his wife stopped at three, and Dylan got the impression that his employer might have almost regretted not having a fourth child. Although he still had some misgivings, the idea that we could one day regret not having a fourth child settled in Dylan’s spirit, and he agreed that we could try for another. Or, at least he tells me that is what changed. Maybe Dylan was actually just tired of hearing me talk about expanding our family. Either way, we decided that if it was meant to be, it would be.
Since Brock was conceived within about two or three months of deciding to try, I assumed I would be pregnant again in no time. We decided to try for another in the late spring or early summer of 2012, and I was not pregnant until November 2012. While seven or eight months is not a particularly long time to try to conceive, I did feel a little disheartened with each passing month. I would remind myself of how some couples try for years, some miscarry multiple times, and others are never blessed with a child. Reminding myself of the plight of others did little to alleviate my feelings. I wanted a baby, and I was not pregnant. Then, in October of 2012 my sister-in-law became pregnant. I assured her that I was happy for her, and that her pregnancy coming sooner than she had planned (and mine coming later than I had planned) did not matter. All of this was true, but of course it was still a little hard to know she was pregnant and I was not. The greatest help to me was trusting God’s plan. If we were meant to have a fourth child, we would. So, although we did not struggle with infertility, our journey in building our family did have definite moments of fear, insecurity, and difficulty trusting in God’s plan.
About six weeks after Megan and Steve found out they were expecting, we found out we were expecting as well.
Joy! Megan and Dylan would again have children that could grow up together! Both Dylan and I had close bonds with our cousins, so knowing we would have another child close in age to Megan and Steve’s child was very precious to us.
I was pregnant, Dylan’s only sister was pregnant, and we were both due in the summer of 2013. Everything looked so perfect, we could not have been more excited. Then, at thirteen weeks, (late in December of 2012 or early in January 2013) I had a significant bleed. I was laying in bed reading and suddenly felt something strange. I rushed to the bathroom and was shocked. “Oh no, no, no, no, this can’t be happening!” I thought, or maybe even whispered aloud. Then, an assurance came to me. “No, this is NOT a miscarriage. I’m not cramping, it can’t be.” I repeated that thought to myself over and over. This is NOT a miscarriage, everything is okay. Despite assuring myself that all was well, a deep and unsettling fear was trying to creep in. Dylan wanted me to go to the emergency room, but I work in healthcare and knew what could be done; essentially, nothing. There was a good chance it would not be my doctor on call, and a doctor I am not familiar and comfortable with might order a swab, and maybe even some blood work or a urine sample. They would do this to look for any obvious cause of the bleeding, but if I was actually miscarrying there was nothing anyone could do. Also, the bleeding was not heavy enough to be a danger to my health so, I went to bed and the next morning I called the clinic. Without having to go in and see my doctor he wrote a requisition for a STAT ultrasound to be performed that night in St. Albert. Although my doctor assured me everything was probably fine, he had written “?miscarriage, ?subchorionic hemorrhage” in the notes section of the requisition. We all know the potential implications of bleeding early in pregnancy, but seeing it written by my doctor sent my stomach flip-flopping. I really could be loosing our baby. I was thirteen weeks, this was not supposed to happen! I folded the requisition into my purse, and tried to move on with my day.
Of course Dylan and I shared with our family and closest friends what was happening, and everyone was very supportive, encouraging, and loving. Prayers were sent up on behalf of Dylan and I, and our unborn baby. Prayers I could only hope would be answered. Faith? Yes, I had faith. Unfortunately, fear was gnawing away at my faith. Thank God for those close to us; those with strong words of encouragement, those who’s faith was solid as a rock, and those who interceded on our behalf when we were not fully able. I think Dylan and I were able to put on a brave face quite well, but inside we were both trembling.
That evening, after drinking the required volume of water and waiting for what felt like an eternity, I was called in to the ultrasound room. The technologist read my requisition, squirted the gel on my belly, and quickly found what he was looking for. “Look! See, right there! A heartbeat! Baby is okay, baby is right there.” If I did not have tears running down my face then it must have been due to a nearly supernatural force of will. Hope flooded back in, and nothing else he could tell me mattered as much as that first statement. The baby is okay. Thank God for that man’s skill and compassion. He knew we were likely afraid that we were loosing our baby, so he brought peace back to us as quickly as he could.
Compassion. There truly is no greater gift one person can give than compassion. When we are compassionate we respond to the sufferings of another person in a way that is helpful. When Jesus felt compassion, signs, wonders, and miracles were never far behind. When Jesus felt compassion for the sick, the sick were healed. His compassion for those grieving the loss of a loved one brought the dead to life.
The ultrasound technologist finished his scan, and the cause of the bleed was never found. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me, the baby, or the placenta. Everything was as it should be. Perhaps the bleed was just “one of those things,” something that happened for no clear reason and with no definitive cause. While this seems the most likely answer, I choose to thank God for that day. I am thankful for those close to me; for their hope, love, support and prayers. I am thankful for my health and the health of our baby. I have a choice in how I view that day; I can take a posture of indifference, assuming there never was anything wrong; or I can be thankful that everything was well with us both, regardless of whether or not a healing miracle occurred. I will never know whether prayers were answered or whether everything was fine all along, but either way, I choose thankfulness. I have so many reasons to be thankful. So I am.
The rest of my pregnancy was perfectly normal and without any cause for concern. However, towards the end of my pregnancy I did have a little bit of due date “stress”.
Ultrasound photo from approximately 20 weeks, and me 38 weeks pregnant
When I was first pregnant I calculated my expected due date to be July 25, 2013. The early ultrasound disagreed. According to the baby’s measurements I was due one week earlier, July 18, 2013. Throughout my pregnancy my doctor would count my weeks of gestation based on the ultrasound results, that is up until “39 weeks 6 days”. When I went to see the doctor on July 17, and he said “When are you due again?”
I replied, “Tomorrow?”
“No, no,” he responded, “aren’t you due on the 25?”
Seriously?! My ENTIRE pregnancy he said I was due July 18, and on July 17 he decided to agree with my expected due date? Now, I have never been one to get too wrapped up in due dates. I know that a due date just gives a general idea of approximately when you can expect the baby to arrive. I also know that a baby will come when he/she is ready. Despite knowing this, for some reason I nearly cried when he he announced (I swear with glee in his voice) that I was “nowhere near” ready to deliver after a quick “check.” First, he changed his stance on my due date without warning, then he told me my body is nowhere near ready for delivery. I have a great doctor, but I was not his biggest fan at that moment. I can not really say why this all bothered me so much, but it did. Maybe it was the hormones, or the heat of summer, but I was quite bummed out after that appointment. I really had to remind myself that baby would come when baby was ready, and that the results of my appointment really had no bearing on when the baby would arrive. At my next appointment, July 24, the doctor assured me that I was “much closer” to the baby coming. I was quite a bit happier with him after that appointment; but somehow, even before he said it, I knew I was closer. I felt different somehow, as strange as that sounds. It would not be long, and I was filled with that strange nervous excitement that comes at the end of pregnancy.
The next morning was a rainy one, and Dylan had shot a nail through his hand the previous day, so it looked like he would be home. As Dylan was trying to decide whether he should work outside in the rain with an injured hand, I realized that I was probably in early labour. It started with just some minor back pain, but it seemed to come and go. We watched a movie, and then I went for a nice long, hot shower. While in the shower my contractions got to about 3-5 minutes apart, so yes, I was definitely in labour! I casually called our doctor, and he said to come in, so we walked to the clinic. In the ten or so minute walk to the clinic I had another three contractions, and I started to really doubt the wisdom of walking! When the doctor checked he said I was 7cm, so I walked straight to the hospital (we had to walk past the hospital to get from the clinic to our house), and Dylan walked back home to get the van and our bags. It was about 11:30 am and it looked like the baby could come anytime! Well, appearances can be deceiving because Heath finally came into our lives at 7:25 pm that night. On July 25, his original due date.
And just like that, I was a mom of four. So much for NEVER having kids…
One final note on timing; I had originally hoped that Heath would arrive after Tapanga’s birthday. She was the second oldest grandchild on Dylan’s side, the oldest grandchild on my side, and her birthday came last in the calendar year. Well, she turned 8 on July 22, and her new brother arrived 3 days later. Timing…
If you have stuck with me this long, perhaps you can bear with me a little longer. Part nine will tell the story of our surprise baby, #5, Luke.