What has now been many weeks ago, I had a sore throat, that turned into a sinus infection, that turned into a general malaise. You know, raspy voice, some late night hacking, and lots of Nyquil. I was dragging, ready to feel like myself again, and get on with the Spring that had so beautifully presented itself here in Tulsa. I was also increasingly annoyed that my very regular 28 day cycle had failed to show up by day 33, and so on a trip to Target to buy Easter basket goodies, I popped down the isle with the pregnancy tests (they give you 3 now?), and thought, just to put my mind at ease. I had already googled if Nyquil could delay your cycle, so I was all good and confident and it could and most likely had. But you know, just in case. Because dear Jesus, I am 41. Just this past week I had been fantasizing about having both kids in school every day - a chance to work some more and finally do some projects around our house. The at home years were finally coming to an end, and though I have loved being home with them, I was welcoming this new season. I could see it, so bright and clear on the horizon. If freedom looked like a rainbow, I could see it stretching from one end of the sky to the other.
And so after checking out, I thought, let's just go to that family bathroom and get this over with so I can get on with my day. I'll save you the suspense, the line turned blue with lightning speed.
I will not lie. I was not happy. Which is sort of ironic, because for years. YEARS - We faced that brutal reality that so many couples face of being labeled as "infertile". All the tests. All the months. Over and Over and Over. It's as sad as it sounds. And we were surrounded by babies. Friends having babies. Sisters having babies. Name a Saturday, there was a baby shower happening. We were newly married, rounding into our 30's, and things were not going as planned. Nothing was going as planned, in fact. Because not only were we not pregnant, we were moving. To Tulsa. Home of no mountains, no beaches, nothing but prairie and wind.
Even so, we trusted all the signs that we knew to trust, and carried our youthful optimism on our backs and said yes to Tulsa.
And then, beyond all hopes, we got pregnant with our Sweet Annie Ruth. What? Can we put on the breaks?. Can we not move? Can we not enter into this unknown amongst more unknowns?
What followed were sweet and hard, hard years. I would not have chosen that path. Raising one baby and then shortly after another one in the company of strangers. Even so, God placed his little ebenezers along the way, as to assure me that we had not misstepped, that He had not caused our feet to slip. It was not as desperate as it could be, I would remind myself, and after many empty armed years, mine were finally full.
We had many many dinners over those early years, where we would retrace our steps, and they always led us here. Everytime. Through tears, we would recount God's faithfulness, and yet, we still felt the ache of the lonely path we had set our feet to.
Slowly, very slowly, those lonely days started to dwindle, and were met with a sweet and dear community that I have to come to cherish, with deepest gratitude. It came in the form of precious coworkers, church friends, neighbors, and our school family. Anne Lamott says two things (well, many things), but two things I really love. God is a show off and Grace always bats last. True and True.
What most people don't know, is that we actually wanted another baby. We were very open to another life in our home, but that long streak of infertility seemed to visit us again and we were coming to a place of peace that our family was complete. In fact, I had very much rounded that corner in my heart. I was ready for the next decade. For life with kids who could read and converse. For the hassle of childcare to be off my plate. I was very much ready.
So this. This? I struggle to find the words in those early weeks. The nausea and fatigue, they overwhelm every sense of my being. Life slows down to a crippling, slow place. I live from cracker to cracker. It feels like I am standing in quick sand.
But there it is, that little baby on the screen above me, and the doctor turns up the volume so I can hear it. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. It's doing that 158 times per minute and all the tears fall.
At 41, the landscape has already begun to do that shifting. Those developmental stages you learned about in Freshman Psychology are legit. It's like Jesus secretly gives you new glasses to see with in your sleep. You wake up at 41 and the world shifted. All the angles are different. Topsy Turvy.
At 41 you resign yourself to the fact that your days, however much I would like to escape its reality, are numbered. You understand the wisdom of settling in. You see a baby up on the screen, that is actually growing inside you, and you understand a bit what it means to laugh at the days to come. It seems better than fear. And fear is definitely the creeper that wants to steal the joy away. It's there, I feel it at my back, but I choose to laugh. I have to laugh.
So I was not exactly happy, This is true. But I am easing into the reality of another little one around here, and like all things, in time, it will make sense, the picture complete, and we'll wonder how life ever was going to be anything but this.
This week, all the family gathered around the ultrasound machine, which has become my biweekly ritual. I usually go alone, but I was ready for everyone to see, and thought it would help all of us wrap our heads around this growing reality. And there the little baby was, kicking and moving it's arms, waving at us from it's safe home.