I’m a little late in writing this post. Maybe because it felt so momentous and I didn’t feel I had momentous words.
How can I sum up in one little post the past decade and the years leading up to this miraculous decade?
How could I capture the full decade of my yearning to be married with kids but staying stubbornly single despite my searching?
How do I write about the years of dating between meeting Bray (nearly 16 years ago) and the time we looked at each other on that church alter saying I do?
How is it possible to share the deepest soul agony we both had in hearing we couldn’t have kids and those years of trying with only failure to show?
The moment that sparked this decade’s long adventure.
The moment there were two lines. And I took another test, two more lines. Then another test, PREGNANT. (I wouldn’t know the irony of three tests at the time.)
Then Bray walking into our bedroom, where I’d stayed in bed for a week in hope of improving our chances, and him opening a little package. Inside, a tiny onesie that said My other car seat is on daddy’s tractor. I can still see his face. This disbelieving hope of a final yes.
A nearly 33 week pregnancy, the last six weeks spent in bed, the last two in the hospital. The decision to take them early to preserve my health when the preeclampsia took hold. The month in the NICU with three little people and several big scares all while I tried to heal from the emergency C-section. Taking each one home individually, first the eldest, then the baby, while my heart broke at leaving little bit behind an extra week to recover from an infection. All came home on monitors and we had the chaos of weeks that followed, another emergency NICU stay, the holidays, my return to work right after the night nanny left. It’s all a blur. I don’t know who rolled over first. Or who sat up first. I know the eldest climbed out of his bed the first but that wasn’t for another year plus.
The first year, Bray and I clinging to each other as we worked and parented and did absolutely nothing else because there was no space for anything except for these little people. They took over. They grew. They improved. They smiled. The gurgled. They sat up in little Bumbo seats and had triplet pow-wows.
The second year, Bray and I tried to figure out how to do “us” in the middle of the hard and exhausting work. We fought and fell apart and fell back together. That happened at least three separate times in this decade. Where we didn’t know how we’d get back to each other and we always did. God always worked a way for us to get back to each other.
And these people. Oh we loved them so much then and we love them so much more now.
They are so very beautiful. Their hands that will still hold ours. Their foreheads we get to kiss after ‘bednight’ prayers. Their hair that smells like chlorine or sweat or shampoo depending on when we hug them close. Their eyes that stare into ours – welling with tears when hurt descends and sparkling with laughter when we dance or cook or exchange jokes.
That first beautiful boy who came out. Our Baby A. With his big hands and feet and head, like a Labrador puppy. Oh he is so persistent. He works at anything he wants. He wants to be the very best. He can suffer crushing disappointment or sadness or self-chastising when he isn’t, but he just keeps working. That eldest – confident, except when he’s not; bold, except when he’s worried; tenacious and athletic and competitive and loving and utterly kissable and challenging and fascinating and outgoing and passionate and smart and the first one to completely capture my heart.
Then the lone baby girl. Baby B. She was squished right in the middle of the boys but held her own, kicking them in the head on our ultrasound to make herself known, and still doing it today. She is the most introverted, needing time and self-reflection. She struggles knowing what a bright and gifted young woman she is becoming, but she remains fierce and loyal and committed and active and kind and generous and adventurous and observant and thrill-seeking and thinking and lovely inside and out. In her early years, I said she was my cat and the boys were my dogs because she just needed someone to feed her and change her and then she was just fine, thank you very much. But her independence and desire for peace, while still strong, has abated enough so she loves and cuddles and develops deep friendships.
Ah, and last, but most certainly not least, came Baby C. He was the smallest all throughout the pregnancy. Our doctor even asked us to consider “reducing” our crew when we found out we were pregnant with three. What a loss the world would have without this bright Baby C. His lungs were a little underdeveloped at birth which has caused him to struggle some with asthma but you would never know by the way he plays and works. He will have his heart broken because he will give it away. He is bright and hard-working and diligent and empathetic and curious and loving and observant and also athletic and committed and sensitive.
We did not make them who they are. God did. We get the honor of getting to know them better than everyone else, what an extraordinary gift to know them best, and of raising them to be generous and curious and grateful and seekers of truth and justice.
We have failed often in this decade. We will fail in the decade to come. But they know we love them more than words can say. They know we will always show up, no matter what. And they know the five of us are in this thing together, for better or worse, and we will carry each other through the hard and cheer each other through the joy.
One decade as a family of five. It seems more than I can even take in. I am ever so grateful for every single day.