If I am being hones, a year ago I still had a loose grip on my future. It was rocked, but still there. I had my husband, my kids (three-just enough chaos to be worthy, but not so many that I was crazy), and a career that I loved. I was about to give birth to our fourth baby, but I hadn’t yet wrapped my head around what that entailed. I kept seeing my same life, plus a baby. She would be our plus one. Same life, plus one. And while over the past year there have been a few sleepy moments where that may have been true, this year has taught me that she was not merely an addition to our life, our family, but the impetus behind our rebirth into a family of six.

I’ve said before Clara was unplanned, but without a doubt she was not unwanted. Paul always insisted that he wanted four children, but our life as international teachers simply doesn’t lend itself to that choice easily. I grew up wanting a big(ger) family and I had dreams of noisy kitchens and shoes and backpacks strewn all over my home, but adding another little person to the family thirteen years after the first isn’t predictable and “by the rules”, and those two things have always driven me above all others.

When they pulled Clara from my belly and brought her around to my head I remember her tiny pink body, full head of dark hair, and my heaving sobs. The doctor repeatedly asking me why I was so upset, but I couldn’t stop crying when I saw her perfection. Paul, as is customary here in Qatar, was not allowed in the operating room, and so when they presented her small wiggly body to me I was left alone with my thoughts, no intermediary to buffer me from the magnitude of my feelings.

Above all I felt gratefulness.

I’d spent nine months sorting through mixed feelings about watching my perfectly planned choices being tossed about. To see her there, in the flesh, was truest sign of God that I can recall.

There have been a several other moments throughout this year when I found myself alone with Clara, very often in a dark room in the early hours of yet another nursing session, where I felt nothing other than the overwhelming feeling that she herself is evidence of God. With every other baby I had a dream of them while pregnant. With Noah I remember seeing the exact smile that he has today. Sophie only revealed her dark head of hair, and Stella just showed me a squirmy babe in white onesie. With Clara never a dream or inkling about who she was or who she would become. No sight of her round cheeks. Her strawberry curls. Her slate blue eyes. All completely new and unimagined in my life.

Tomorrow we will celebrate her birthday. We’ve been singing the birthday song and teaching her to hold up one finger for weeks. We will clap and watch her laugh as she dives into her cake. Our other children reached this milestone with Paul and I cheering them on. Tomorrow, Clara will do the same, with all five of us celebrating her. She is all of our baby.

A disruption of the holiest kind.

Happy first birthday Clara Mae! You are more loved than you could imagine.




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