It's official...we are parents of a teenager. Seriously, I think I just gave birth to that boy yesterday. I remember all of it so well. And for me...a girl whose memory is shaky at best, that amazes me about being a mother. I mean, I can't tell you a thing between giving birth to them and today...but being pregnant and giving birth...I will NEVER forget a detail. In fact, I remember very well when Keith and I would be driving to church in our little red Plymouth Neon (piece of junk brand new car...but that's another story) and I would be daydreaming. Keith never lets me just sit quietly and think. He MUST know what I am thinking at all times. Are you married to one of those? I mean, it's a lovely thing that he wants to know what is going on in this head of mine but seriously, most of the time...it is a jumble of grocery lists and deep musings about life's hardest religious questions and I can't explain it to save my life! :) But, this particular morning, as in so many other mornings, I blurted out, "I want to have a baby." I have no exact idea what his response was but given that we had that exact conversation MANY times I know it was something along the lines of, "I know. Someday you will." And then he went back to thinking about sports or pizza or work or something and I went back into thinking about the day I would bring a little baby to church for the first time. That was a memory I thought FOR SURE would be wonderful. (Nobody told me how I would struggle to get him to stay asleep through a sermon and then struggle to nurse him with a dress on or how bad I'd sweat praying no one would notice how nervous I was...but that is also another story!)
Well, sometime in February of 1996...less than three years after we were married, I suspected I WAS FINALLY PREGNANT. I really hate to confess just exactly how many home pregnancy tests I took up to this point that sheepishly went out to the dumpster (unbeknownst to Keith) with a negative sign on them. I mean, he knew about enough of them to know that when I suspected being pregnant he lovingly ignored me and waited instead for my irregular, stubborn cycle to show up...as it usually did...sometime around day 42! Yeah, that was fun. But, this time...was different. I told myself I was NOT pregnant. I didn't feel pregnant. I felt VERY pre-menstrual actually. Crampy even. I just could NOT figure out why my period was NOT starting. Days went by. Day 30, day 35, etc. No sign of it except for the cramps. SO, one day after teaching school I went to our TINY library in Scott Depot, West Virginia determined to find a pregnancy book that might tell me what the symptoms should be. The ONLY book in the library, I kid you not, on pregnancy was The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, a book written by Vicki Iovine from the perspective of girlfriends telling how it happened for them. Honestly, it was NOT the book I was hoping for but I soon realized it was THE book I needed. Because right there under symptoms was written something to this effect, "Some girlfriends were never MORE sure they WEREN'T pregnant than when they WERE thanks to phantom menstrual cramps." That was ME! I read it to Keith certain that I had now made my case to justify spending 15$ on a pregnancy test. (Yes, we were THAT poor then.) Well, still thinking I was a little nuts he agreed we'd go buy one. And off to our little Kmart we went. When we got home do you think I ran upstairs and took the dumb thing? NO! In those days those tests were pricey and did not come with two or three sticks in a box. It was a one shot deal and I knew enough (thanks to all those other, ahem, negative tests...) that the most accurate time to take the test was with the first morning urine. SO we agreed to wait because I needed to know FOR SURE and was scared that if I took it at night it might be a false negative. And I laugh because I tried to go to bed at like 8:00pm! I wanted it to be morning RIGHT NOW! So I crawled into our waterbed...ah...the waterbed era...also another story. And wonder of wonders...I could NOT sleep. I had the worst pain I had ever felt in my side. I just knew my period was coming. Eventually I fell asleep...sort of. Around 4 am I had had all I could take. I woke Keith up and told him I was taking the test. He laid in bed ( I am certain thinking it would be negative) and waited! I took the test. I am telling you...I no sooner peed on that stick than it turned two bright, clear lines of positive! I could not believe my eyes. Keith got up and we hugged in a shocked stupor. Then...he went back to bed (ah men...)...and I stayed up the rest of that day. I was truly in shock. This thing I wanted more than anything else was now true and all I could think was, "What are we DOING? We cannot be ready for THIS!" But ready, set, go...we were on our way to having this precious boy of ours.
I cherish those days of that first pregnancy. Every appointment, every heartbeat, every flutter, EVERY THING...was precious and new. But that first birth...um..no thank you. NEVER want to do that again. And raising that first baby? Um...no thanks to doing that again either! Precious, yes...easy...no. That brown-eyed boy wrapped us around his finger quickly and before we knew it we were walking the floor with him at the tiniest whimper he made. I am so thankful that God blesses us with experiences that make us better parents as we go. And I am thankful that He gives us our firstborns who are so forgiving and so loving as to forgive us all the mistakes we make with them.
And now he is a teenager. I am old apparently. But, then again, I am still nursing a baby! LOL! I am telling you right now, if you had told me that Grant would be turning 13 and I'd be getting up at night to feed his baby brother...I'd have laughed or cried right in your face! Not to mention the other 4 BROTHERS! I'd have really laughed or cried then! But, I am telling you this...I am a woman to be envied. Yep...I said it. Just as in Bible times a woman whose womb was filled with children was to be envied. To be raising a teenage son and to be nursing a babe at the same time is nothing but God's blessing on my life. I admit, I love the stage of finding out I am pregnant and being filled with wonderment over a new life within. I am so thankful for how many times I have gotten to go through that stage. I am thankful that I did not shut off the blessings that God has shown me because I was willing to have more children. Had we stopped with Grant or Garrett...I'd have NEVER known how much better, how much easier it gets. When I give birth and hold a new baby, I enjoy it so much more now than 13 years ago because I am not filled with fear. I would have missed that. I would have missed the lessons learned and the subsequent joy. Friends, I am tired. I am stretched beyond myself constantly. But...I believe God wants to keep me that way. And technology allows me the ability to side step some of that if I chose to. I am thankful (most of the time :) that I am walking right in the middle of it because right there in the middle of it...God has shown up and walked with me. And He has given me the most wonderful gifts in these sons. Keith and I STILL struggle to lay down our lives in obedience. Our hands are often clenched tightly around the control button. But, He waits for us because He knows we love Him and we will eventually let go and trust Him again. Yes, I am getting old...but this life is short and when it is my time to go home...my eyes will be filled with sons gathered around me and I will feel full of love and gratitude and I will go on to heaven and KNOW I served Him well with these boys of mine. I have seen enough loved ones go on before me to know...in the end...it is only the people we loved who matter in the end. SO...I hang on. Grant is the beginning of a beautiful, LONG legacy. God, thank YOU!