If you’d asked, I would have quickly told you this wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. It didn’t fit with my plan. My vision. All the things I thought I wanted. But it’s the story I am bound to tell. The story that was chosen for me, for my family, by someone infinitely smarter than I am.
Remember the whole subway incident in Paris? Where getting stuck in the doors led me to the realization that for me, 2016 needed to be all about surrender? Thinking back on that makes me shudder. That was surrender? To not get annoyed when I miss a stop on the subway? I had no idea how important and how much bigger surrender was going to be this year.
I took the pregnancy test and watched the two lines appear in disbelief. They appeared so quickly and with such depth that there was no doubt that I was, indeed, pregnant. I have a complicated history with pregnancy and I know that two lines at 4 weeks doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll have a baby in my arms at 40 weeks. So through some selfish tears I told Paul that 2016, and life as we knew it, was no longer going to be. We held the secret close and didn’t breathe a word of it to family or friends. I needed to believe this was in fact happening before I could share it with others.
For nine weeks we guarded the news. Disbelief turned to sadness and then to happiness as each week went by and things continued as normal. I always find the first trimester difficult and this one was no different. I was tired like I didn’t know was possible. There were mornings when I was almost in tears at the thought of getting out of bed. I hated all food and yet felt sickest when I was hungry. I ate what I could when I could and tried to choke down prenatal vitamins as an insurance policy. Around week 8 my doctor found my thyroid wasn’t working properly and I got medicine for that and some anit-nausea medication. Both let me feel a little more human and get through my workdays without giving away the secret.
At week 11 I opted for a genetic test that was suggested because of my Advanced Maternal Age. This was new for me-I was 25 when I had Noah, 27 with Sophie, 32 with Stella, and now 37 with this one. The doctor took a blood sample from me and sent it to Los Angeles. There they could separate out the baby’s DNA and tell us that everything appeared normal, and the baby was in fact, another girl.
When I saw the results ten days later I felt such relief. I felt like we could let the secret out and I could steel myself against the questions and comments that would no doubt come. And come they did-amongst the overwhelming congratulations there were the vasectomy jokes, the “better yous than mes”, and even a few doubts about whether we’d be able to stay overseas. If four is a biggish family in the States, it’s the Duggars in the international teaching community. People just don’t do four kids that often.
But that’s what we’ve got. A fourth healthy little baby bestowed to us. A gift we didn’t know we wanted but I feel honored to receive. And like most gifts that we never ask for, it’s probably the one I most needed. This babe is a living symbol of so many lessons I still need to learn but have been too stubborn to accept. And at the top of that list? Surrender.
This is not our baby-As rich as this country is, their ultrasound machines stink. I have no cute baby monkey pics to share. But this is essentially what she looks like, so I’m going with it.