I have another story to tell.
Let's begin in 2010. Six years ago. I was loving life as a momma to Drew (age 6) and Ben (age 3). Life was good. No, life was grand. I remember wanting to freeze time so I could just stay in that stage forever. But underneath all of that goodness, there was something else stirring. Something I only confided to those "in my circle." Those trusted few I kept near and dear to me.
I wanted another child. Badly.
Like many husbands I know, Bart did not share my desire or enthusiasm. You see, the last time we had a baby, this was where we found ourselves:
Our sweet baby Ben developed a hole in his right lung seconds after birth. There was no warning before, nothing to pick up on an ultrasound, it just happened. Doctors believe that for whatever reason (He was a C-section baby? He was 2 weeks early? Maybe I skipped one too many of those horrible prenatal vitamins?) his lungs were weak. When he entered this world mad as a hornet (thank you, red-head temper...) his little lung just couldn't take it.
Instead of snuggling with my baby like I had dreamed about for months, he was taken back to surgery. They repaired the hole, and a chest tube was put in place. The doctors would say to us, "This will work. He should be back down here with you in a few hours. Now granted, worst case scenario, fill in the blank with a scary situation could happen. But those chances are so slim."
And then it would happen. Over, and over, and over again.
By the next morning he was transferred to Riley's Children's Hospital. He was on scary ventilators and had an IV tower full of 12 medications. Everywhere we looked something was hooked up to our baby. He was put into a coma, and we weren't allowed to touch him. There were no more "worst case scenarios." We were there. The Riley Doctors told us not to leave the hospital because he was probably not going to survive. We needed to be present when our little boy passed away.
That's rough, my friends.
Of course, if you know us you know that God gave us a miracle at that hospital 9 years ago. Ben defied the statistics. He turned the corner. His progress made doctors and nurses scratch their heads and say, "I don't know how it happened, but it did!"
We knew without a sliver of doubt. The doctors and nurses at Riley were amazing and we were so thankful for them, but God had saved our son.
Ben has 5 scars from the experience you can still see on him today. One over his right lung from his chest tube, and four are over his heart where his main line had been placed all of those weeks.
As for the rest of us, you can't see our scars, but they are there just the same.
I could not blame my husband for not wanting to have another child. I understood his fear; his anxiety at the thought of this happening again. More so, this happening again with a different ending. No doctor could tell us why this happened. "You are just that 1 in 10,000 case that occurred. You didn't do anything wrong. It's not hereditary. It just happened."
Bart's take was wise. Why, oh why, would I want to sign up for that again? Was I crazy? I couldn't make sense of it myself, but it was there. Down deep in my being. I felt so ungrateful. Here God had given me the two beautiful boys I had, how could I ask for another? We were granted a miracle, wasn't that enough? Yet, it still remained. I yearned for another baby. When I looked at my family I felt like someone was missing. I saw babies everywhere. No matter where I sat at church, a new mother would sit in front of us with her darling newborn. Every single little boy or girl would lock eyes with me like they knew. "There's one more. You are missing one."
It was torture. I prayed for God to either change Bart's mind or change my heart. Take it away. If the answer is no, if this is just me, please... Take it away. I don't want to feel like this anymore.
Time passed, and God was faithful. He did take my yearning away. It didn't happen overnight, but slowly my heart gave up on the idea of another child. He led me to Prim & Posh, my purse company. After a few more years He sent me to teach Music at our Elementary School... my dream job. Our boys were growing older, and man! How I enjoyed them. No more diapers, temper tantrums, or time-outs. We could eat out anytime! We drove a sporty Outlander full of big kid equipment. We could travel anywhere on a whim. Drew and Ben were becoming their own people, and what neat ones they were. What was I thinking? Thinking that we needed another baby all those years ago... It must have been temporary insanity.
We were happy. Life was easy. Everything was smooth sailing.
Let's just say even when you think you are following all of the rules, nothing is 100% effective besides sterilization. Well, wait. That's not true either. I know a couple who thought... you know what? Never mind. My point is, we were being responsible adults. Or so we thought.
I remember taking the test half jokingly that morning. I just knew I wasn't pregnant. I mean, there was like that .01% chance, but really. Come on. That just doesn't happen. A few minutes later I was sitting on the edge of my bathtub, staring at the two blue lines. Shaking, scared, petrified. Yelling for Bart to come back to the bathroom. Him responding, "I'm on my way out the door... Is it important?" (Um, yeah!)
Bart smiled the biggest smile and hugged me tight. I cried for 2 days.
"I can't be pregnant. I just can't. What about Drew and Ben? This is going to rock their world. What about my job?! I love my job. My kiddos I teach... I can't leave them! We won't all fit in the Outlander. What are we going to drive?! We don't have ANYTHING for a baby! We don't even have a bedroom! And I'm 35! I can't be pregnant at 35! Isn't there scary things that can happen after 35? I think I remember reading that somewhere." And then my stomach dropped:
"What if he can't breathe?"
The terror that washed over me. I can't explain it into words. It paralyzed me. You see, years ago when I thought of another baby I don't think I ever let myself go too far down that road of thought. With Bart not on board I never really considered what it would be like if I actually did get pregnant again.
It was almost as though Bart and I had traded places. Like God knew Bart needed 6 more years to catch up and heal from the Riley experience. From the day we found out we were expecting this baby he has been so happy. Calm. Excited. He can't wait to meet our boy. There isn't the slightest hesitation in him. "Lori, this little guy was just meant to be. We needed him, even if we didn't know that we did." If Bart is ever afraid, he is hiding it well. Me on the other hand? I'm a mess.
I fiercely love this baby. Yes, life is different and changes have been made. Not just small adjustments, but huge, massive changes. It doesn't matter. I would do it all again for him. He is the one that has been missing. The one that my heart knew was coming all those year ago. Please, oh please God. I'm so scared. I'm so afraid it is going to happen again. And this time... I can't even type the words.
I know God will not leave us. I know that He saved Ben and gave us this child too. But fear is a nasty, awful, wretched thing. It sneaks up on you slowly when you least expect it. It grips you until you can't function. It renders you helpless, leaving you alone in the dark and twisty.
I wish I could tell you that I haven't been afraid. That the fear hasn't got to me at all. As Christians we are not supposed to be afraid, right? Simple as that. Just don't do it, Lori. If your faith was maybe just a little bit bigger, then you wouldn't be scared.
That's not how it works. At least not for this girl. But, I can tell you that every time I feel the fear creep in I have hit my knees in prayer. I know this is beyond anything that I could ever "cope with" on my own. I need God. He is waiting every single time to take it from me and give me a peace unlike anything else in this world.
I have been attending a Bible Study with the most amazing group of ladies recently, and God keeps doing things like this:
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
Jesus answered, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?"
God was speaking to me.
Don't you know me, Lori? Even after all this time, you doubt that I will take care of you? Of your family? Do you think that anything is too big for me? Do you think I would ever leave you, no matter what happens? Good or bad?
It was like I could hear him sighing out of frustration. I was Philip. Needing that constant reassurance. "Just show me a little more. Just convince me that everything will be ok, and that will be enough for me."
No. I don't need to be reassured. I need to know that my God is bigger than anything that can happen to us. Even if the worst case scenario does. (Oh, that is so hard, my friends. So. Hard.) I need to believe. To trust. Don't I know my God by now?
I leave you today with one request. Would you join us in prayer? Pray that our boy is born with strong, healthy lungs. Pray that he is able to breathe. Pray for peace for not only me, but for our entire family.
Oh Lord, help me know.