"Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. Beautiful Boy."
Eight years ago our little Noah came into this world. We had finally become a family and were no longer just a couple. I can truly say I think I had waited my whole life for that very moment (even though for a lot of years I didn't even realize it). Here's the story of how God brought Noah into our lives.
Sometimes the swing and a binky were all that worked.
When Paul and I got married, we did like so many other couples: we took precautions against having a child (too soon). Looking back, it saddens me very deeply that that was our frame of mind. "We need time for just us." "We need to do things NOW we won't get to do later." "We need to save more money." You can imagine the list, I'm sure. All reasons that seem to make a lot of sense at the time, of course, but NOW I can see them for what they really were. Basically, we were being selfish, we were foolishly avoiding God's "blessing" of children, and we didn't truly believe that God could/would meet our needs.
First Baseball Game: Memphis Red Birds
Anyway, our particular method of prevention was for me to be on "The Pill." Oh, how I wish I had paid more attention to what God (through my body's reactions) was trying to tell me! I never DID do well on it, never felt quite right, etc. (Why should I? It's beyond unnatural!!)
I trucked along taking it, though, until finally the Lord broke through and convinced us both that we needed a child. I began making all the necessary preparations. I visited my doctor, I bought name books and pregnancy magazines, and I anxiously awaited the positive pregnancy test. Thinking we would have one by the end of the month, I was a bit shocked when it didn't happen.
It didn't happen and it didn't happen. I was seriously discouraged 'round about four months of trying, so I went back to the doctor who promptly said not to come back until we had been trying for at least six months. Oh, I was so impatient!
Signing "I hear it."
Well, the six month mark came...and still no baby. Off I went to the doctor who started testing things. Everything was supposedly fine, but she thought I might be having issues with the timing of my follicle production or something. So she put me on Clomid at half strength. Still nothing. In the meantime, I was having to go to the doctor a LOT to monitor things while on the meds, and I was an emotional basket-case. I can tell you this, I KNOW for a fact that God used that whole process to really make me think. To think about WHY we had chosen to WAIT on having a baby, WHY we never even considered that God would provide for our family (He already was!), WHY we had used a drug to KEEP the blessing (Psalm 127:3) of having a baby from happening to us! It was truly torturous, thinking these things and waiting and not knowing.
"Mommy, look! Ck! Ck!"
The next month rolled around and we went up to a full-strength dose of Clomid, which I hated. It was downright crazy! Hot flashes like you would never believe. Mood swings! Oh, my. It was bad. Anyway, the important thing that happened next was that we met a dear, sweet expectant couple in our church (they were going through our introduction to the church class with us) and we had decided to go out one night with them for dinner and miniature golf. Afterward, we went back to their home to just hang out. In our conversation, Ryan asked me if we wanted to have children. I'm sort of surprised I didn't burst into tears at that point, because I had had it by then. But somehow I didn't.
Born to Be a Farmer
(Ignore the date on some of these pictures. We were too lazy to set it back then.)
I DID, however, feel absolutely comfortable enough to tell them the truth of what we had been going through. He looked right at us and said, "I believe God wants to give you children. Can we pray with you?" A bit flabbergasted, we said okay. And then there we were in the middle of someone's living room being prayed over. Very specific prayers about my body and the way in which God designed it to work. We left that night feeling strange. We had just shared something extremely intimate with people we had only just met. Boy, it was bizarre. BUT. I finally had peace. Real peace. I wasn't just convincing myself either. I certainly still wanted something I had yet to gain, but I wasn't FRANTIC inside any longer. And I'm sure by now you've figured out what happened next. Yep. Positive. Finally. Just like that.
I'll never forget we were planning to fly to Pennsylvania to visit Paul's sister and her husband and celebrate our second anniversary. I got up that morning and took a test while Paul was still sleeping. I remember this being the one and only time I wasn't sick to my stomach with dread over what the result would be. And when it was positive, I was astounded. Nine months of trying! And FINALLY!!
It was sort of difficult to grasp the reality of it all. I walked into the bedroom, and Paul took one look at me and just knew. We were elated! Off we flew to PA, trying our best to keep our fabulous news to ourselves. After a day or two of visiting, Paul and I took a train into NYC (each of us with one backpack of clothing and no hotel reservations or any plan whatsoever). I'll have to tell you about it later. It was a great trip. Anyway, by the time we got back to PA, we just couldn't keep it under wraps any longer. (It was driving us crazy!) So "Uncle" Mert and "Aunt" Wendy were the first to know.
This was not a set-up.
Let's see. What happened next? Oh, yeah! We got back from our vacation, and I immediately started back to work at a new school. I lasted one month and just couldn't deal with the horrific nausea and intense fatigue any longer. So I quit. No one could believe it, including myself. (I was one crazy ambitious teacher!!) But I just physically couldn't do it anymore. I ended up getting a part-time (2.5 days per week) job at my OB/GYN clinic. Tres convenient, let me tell ya. There were definitely perks, one of which was that I could listen to my baby's heartbeat any ol' time I felt like it. And I felt like it a lot. Of course, this was all part of God's plan to get me HOME full time...eventually.
Always a Reason to Laugh
Okay. Back to the real story. How to tell the fam. We decided to ask our parents to come over to our house for Labor Day because we had a fairly major home improvement project we were trying to begin and we were going to need plenty of help. Paul got all panicky that my mom was going to figure out the real reason we wanted them to come, so on one of his work trips down to the southern part of the state, he dropped by to see my mom, at which point he proceeded to tell the biggest whopper of his whole life (I'm guessing). He told her that he wanted to make sure that whatever she did she should not ever bring up "grandchildren" to me because I was really emotional and upset since we had been trying for a while with no luck. Of course, my mom was beside herself with worry over what could be wrong, etc. So his little plan worked. Meanwhile, his own mom had figured it out. Probably because he kept asking over and over if they were going to come and telling them that we "REALLY need help" and stuff. It was just a bit too much for her. Ha! (She knew him too well.) We ordered a cake for the occasion that said "Happy Labor Day" but had Noah's due date (4-11-02) on it. And I told the moms I had to secretly slip out to pick up a surprise birthday cake for Paul. It was hilarious. Man, if you didn't already know this, lying is exhausting.
Well, we pulled it off. Mostly. Everyone was definitely surprised, but Nana (that's Paul's mom) had enough of an intuition about it that she had tucked a little baby gift in her car just in case. Isn't that something? I used to have a picture of the reaction. It was classic! I don't know WHERE it's gone. Mom?? Did you smuggle it out of my house?
Well, I continued to be pregnant. And I continued to work at the OB/GYN clinic. While there, I worked with a girl who started talking to me about her own personal findings regarding "The Pill" and its abortifacient qualities. I felt so ignorant to have never considered these things, to have never asked. I also felt angry that people had encouraged me to do things this way and no one had been truthful with me up until this point. I guess I felt sort of duped. It was at that moment that Paul and I decided we would never again use The Pill. In case you don't know what an abortifacient is, here...let me enlighten you.
Anybody see some family resemblances here?
An abortifacient is something that interferes with a pregnancy after the moment of conception. You might not think "The Pill" does that, but that is exactly what it does. It does NOT prevent conception from happening (it is NOT a form of contraception). Instead, it prevents the implantation of any fertilized egg in the womb. It makes the conditions "unfavorable" for an already-conceived embryo to implant and then grow. SO. That embryo does not survive. That embryo--that BABY--dies. It dies. THAT'S what an abortifacient is. And I? I am decidedly NOT okay with that.
...stepping down from my soapbox now, I promise. Ahem...
Back to pregnancy. I LOVED pregnancy. I mean, once I stopped puking and/or feeling like I was going to puke... Even when my legs from the knees down became twice their original size for the last 9 weeks, I loved it. (By the way, that only happened with my first pregnancy; never again since.) Even when I had excruciating carpal tunnel syndrome and couldn't grasp my own bed linens to cover myself up, I loved it. I planned and I knitted and I read books and I prayed, and it was just a beautiful time. I won't go into all the many details of the birthing process because, well, you know how women are. They always like to share all the gruesome details--like anybody cares. BUT there are some sweet things I'll never forget.
Like when I was in labor but they drugged me so I could get some sleep, and I zonked out beyond anybody's expectations and, I don't know, HOURS later?? I came to and saw my mom standing there talking over my massive belly to my friend Janet who had dropped by to see how I was doing. It was a comforting moment. And like when I wouldn't progress and Dr. S. warned me that if I didn't do something before he came back, we would need to do a C-section, and we all prayed there in the room and those waiting outside prayed, too. And by the time he came back, I had finally made some significant progress, so God allowed me to avoid "the knife." And like right after Noah was born and they took him to the warmer to clean him up and poke and prod him (I HATE that!), he was looking my direction (yes, I'm aware he couldn't actually see me) and I in his. And we were just so happy to finally "see" each other. And then when Benjamin (my brother) and Erin (my sis-in-law) and Nana and my parents came in to see him all bundled up and in my arms at last, Erin said something like, "Now you're a family." (And she said it in a squeaky, emotional sort of voice so we all teared up...and Nana put her arm around Erin and said she loved her.) *sigh* It was a blessed night. Oh, wait. It was morning by then. Whew! Our family hung with us until the wee hours of the morning. Man, I think my friend Leslie was there, too! It's--well--sort of a fog.
Anyway, that's the story of how Noah came to be. My amazing little blessing from the Lord. My Noah. Who's impossibly eight years old now and who breaks my heart with each pair of pants he grows too tall for. And with each brief glimpse I have of his growing maturity. And with every passing day that he's not tiny enough to cuddle in my lap or wag around on my hip. It's almost too much to bear--all this growing up business.
Smile, Noah. You are a precious gift from God. And you are EIGHT today!