Thursday, June 4, 2009

The blessing of a busy schedule ... reminiscing on a path chosen

Ten years ago, I sat in a hospital ... holding my newborn Baby C.  She was so tiny and precious ... but she had kept me up the entire night before ... and it had been a long hard pregnancy ... the worst of all.  I threw up 5 times a day for 12 weeks.  I had a 3.5 year old, a 2 year old, and was running a home daycare. 

As we neared 30 weeks, I began to have pre-term contractions that would last for 5 - 12 hours.  We ended up in the hospital for monitoring to be sure it wasn't pre-term labor several times.   Thankfully, despite being tired sore from the "false labors", I never dilated.  During one of those visits, we discovered her cord was around her neck and being compressed during each contraction.  Then began several weeks of non-stress tests to be sure the cord around her neck wasn't causing her distress.  They finally concluded she was fine, and then we had to wait for her arrival.

She was finally here ... but we had decided she would be the last!  I told Steve it had been the worst pregnancy ever.  "They keep getting worse ... what would the next one be like?"  (The answer is that none of my pregnancies have been as bad as that one.)   We'd hoped to have 3 or 4 children, but we agreed to stop at 3.  Steve had already met with the surgeon, and we just needed to schedule his appointment.

Soon she was 4 weeks old, and I was so in love with her.  I was mourning that she would be our last.  Steve had been too busy with work to make that appointment.  I debated telling him I'd changed my mind, but I didn't want to seem fickle.  I asked Steve about his surgery ... if he'd called the surgeon yet ... he hadn't.  We talked and decided we were just too young to take that step.  (Now I'm sure if it had been really important to him, he'd have found the time ... but he even postponed hernia surgery two years later until it fit into a vacation time ... although I was sure his hernia would strangulate and become abcessed.  I'm a caring and concerned wife, you know.)

Now I look around at the ones who almost weren't.  8 yo J ... our first boy and C's best friend.  5 yo M, the one who looks like my Dad.  3 yo L,  the cute and funny toddler who brightens our days.  8 month old G ... our sweet baby boy who brought comfort when my Father-in-Law was dying.  Three wonderful boys and a bundle of sunshine princess ... I can't imagine what life would be like without them.  I know it would be drastically different.

I know that having 7 kids instead of 3 does shape our life.  If I only had 3 kids, ages 10, 12 and 13 ... I might have gone back to work.  If I only had 3 kids, ages 10-13, we'd spend differently than we do.  If I only had 3 kids, we'd have a different family dynamic and viewpoint.  If I only had 3 children, we might use a different homeschool curriculum.

Having 7 kids isn't necessarily better than having 3 ... I'm not playing the numbers comparison game ... but it does make life different.  We made a choice 10 years ago that has changed our life dramatically.  I recognize that who I am today and where we are as a family is very different from what it might have been if we'd stopped at 3. 

I don't regret it at all.  Each one of these "almost wasn't" children is a blessing in our life.  They are unique and bring a different flavor to our family.  They each have a future chosen by God that I can't see yet ... but I pray they will follow Him and make an impact on the world around them.  Just by being here, they have changed my world. 

It isn't always easy.  C and M have been the most active of the children.  M and L made a needy combination over the last 3.5 years.  J stretched me as I adjusted to being a mom of boys, and not just girls.  Sometimes the number of children to keep track of, disciple, and nurture is just tiring.  Sometimes the laundry pile seems like a mountain I'll never conquer. 

Like any mom of any number of children, I get discouraged at times.  Sometimes I am sure that I'm failing and they are all little heathens bound for a life of crime (don't we all have those days?).  But my life isn't marked by discouragement ... that isn't my focus.  I am blessed, and these children bring me joy.

We stood at a crossroad ten years ago ... we had to choose a path.  We made our choice, and I don't regret it.  At the time, I was just thankful for Steve's busy schedule that kept him from making that call while I had time to reconsider.  Looking at it now, I'd say it was God leading me through my husband. 

Ten years ago, did I imagine I'd have four more children, including 3 boys?  Not at all.  But, I praise Him for each one of these blessings in my life, entrusted to me to raise and nurture in the ways of the Lord. 

Trusting in Him,

PLEASE know that this post is not meant to be making any statement about those with larger or smaller families.  I really am not.  I'm merely pondering the difference in our life because of the path we chose ... and the "what could have been" aspect of it.  That is all.

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