let’s get in our time machine and take a little trip back to january of 1999. 12 years ago. my grandmother was in the hospital. dying. i couldn’t go home to see her because i was 9 months pregnant with my third baby in less than 5 years. in fact the previous 4 and a half years i had either been pregnant or nursing a baby. and did i mention that every baby was born LATE? let me get that little factoid on the record.
millie was THREE WEEKS LATE. born in march. due in the middle of february. LATE LATE LATE. maxx was three days late. and here it was january 23rd and i was 9 days late with my third child. dilated to 4 already. and still walking around without being in labor. i qualified for an epidural already but they wouldn’t give it to me until i was actually admitted to the hospital. a procedural little detail, they said... i was TIRED of being pregnant and running after two kids. in fact that week i had gotten out of the shower and adam had looked at me and he had mentioned something about me looking READY to have that baby. he said it in love.... really he did.
it was late that night of the 23rd when i had a HUGE contraction. HUGE.
and then my water broke. which was no big deal for me. no panic. no rushing around like crazy people. my water broke at home before i delivered millie and i waited 12 hours before going to the hospital, having no contractions. then my water broke at home with maxx and adam and i got in a quick trip to walmart before heading to the hospital for them to actual make me start contractions. so no big deal... except that this time i start contractions. REALLY STARTED CONTRACTIONS. and another factoid for you to be aware of was the 45 minute drive to the hospital. and did i mention REALLY HUGE CONTRACTIONS? let me mention that again now. REALLY HUGE GUT WRENCHING CONTRACTIONS. and a little desire to do something like PUSH THAT BABY OUT NOWWWWWWWWWWWW.
so we made haste to leave for the hospital (after procuring someone to come and stay at the house with our two other children). i practiced the breathing that i had seen once on TLC’s “a baby story”. we called the hospital and explained that we were coming in and that i was feeling a slight urge... actually an OVERWHELMING GOD HELP ME NOWWWWWWW urge to push. they were not really concerned until adam mentioned that this was our third baby in 5 years. then they decided that i might know what i meant and they told adam to park the car in front of labor and delivery door and WALK me in. not let me ride in the wheelchair. that no one could deliver a baby while walking. good to know.
i think that when i started praying out loud for God to please please please not let me have this baby in the car that adam started to become worried. and drove faster. it was the middle of the night. which was an act of providence for sure on the atlanta interstates...
so we drove straight up to the labor and delivery door. which i would now like to mention that the road around to that side was UNDER CONSTRUCTION. bumpy. really really bumpy. this factoid will only make sense to those of you who have been in labor. suffice it to say that it was not a good moment. i mentioned the name of Jesus a lot. a whole lot.
adam threw his keys at the parking guy standing there. we walked in. mentioned that we were the ones that called and the nurse kept me walking straight to a room. i got in a bed. and two seconds later i had a BABY GIRL. we actually had not checked in yet. or seen a doctor. the walk-you-down-the-hall nurse delivered my baby. yes, she did. for a moment i thought it was like a magic trick. that she had gotten the baby from somewhere under the bed. it happened that fast.
no photos of the birth (the camera was still in the car). funny note about the nurse... after rosalea was born, adam asked the nurse where the parking guy would have parked the car so that he could get the camera. adam added, “we just threw our keys at him and kept walking”. and she replied, “we don’t have a parking attendant.” then quickly added, “just kidding.” later she said that since i had been SO funny on our walk down the hall that she knew that joke would go over well. i don’t remember being funny.... i remember being IN PAIN. and that i kept on saying, “are you SURE no one can deliver a baby while walking? because it sure feels like i am about to make some kind of birth record here.”
so rosalea entered our lives. at a lively 10 pounds. chunky thighs so deliciously rolly polly that one nurse suggested a baby thighmaster. a head full of brown hair that curled up on the underside whenever she was sweaty. it was the fastest and easiest delivery. and the one where i invoked the name of Jesus the most. perhaps that is indicative of how her teenage years might go... maybe not.
i took her home less than 12 hours later. and i didn’t want to get out of the minivan. the thought of walking into that house without any help and with THREE children under my care seemed way harder than delivering her. and i knew it was going to last longer. years longer. my parents had come up to help me with the first weeks of my other two children but they were home with my sick grandmother...
eventually adam talked me into coming into the house. and then he left for work. wimp.
and lest you think i am some kind of wonder woman (and really, have you read anything that i have written because no one would ever mistake me for any kind of wonder woman) in three days the calvary arrived. my college roomie, dina, flew in with her two children (the same ages as my two older children) and she ran that household, played games, put on plays, cooked with more butter than the pioneer woman, and got less sleep than i did for the week and a half that she was with us. she was amazing. i am eternally grateful. my husband is eternally grateful. the three children who lived through those days only by the grace of God and the good cooking of dina are grateful.
and the day after dina left... my grandmother died and i headed to tallahassee with three children all under the age of five in the back of my minivan. rosalea still wasn’t nursing well... and by that i mean “not nursing at all”. i had rented a pump so she could have bottles. which turned out to be a blessing. i was able to leave her with some of my mom’s friends with those bottles and i was able to do all the things i needed to do to help my mom. and then when we came back to georgia after a week in tallahassee... rosalea started nursing on her own.
it taught me a little lesson about all the times i prayed to God for something because wowza did i pray to Him for those first three weeks for rosalea to nurse, why wasn’t she nursing, what was wrong, why was this happening, am i not supposed to nurse, or am i to keep trying, and how can i devote all this time when i have two other children? and then in three weeks it was over and she was nursing and it turned out that there were so many reasons why her NOT nursing was for my good at that time. it wasn’t like i had to wait a long time to figure that out. three weeks when i couldn’t be patient and rest in His will. not like a month. or a year. or years. or a lifetime of waiting for an answer for a reason.
that would be the first lesson that rosalea taught me... i know that there are a million more. and a million more to come. they are all for my good. and those lessons all started when i was scared and got out of the van to come inside to face my life. God gave me the strength then... and He hasn’t stopped giving me the strength to be a parent. it hasn’t been easy. it has gone fast. there has been pain. and tears. and lots of fears. am i “good enough”? have i ruined them beyond belief? the jury is still out. good thing i know the Judge.
i love what carolyn mahaney has to say about motherhood. and i need to remember it...
A woman came up to me at a party last week, and after we chatted for a minute, she said: “My friend told me about something she heard you say once, and I wondered if it was true.”
I knew where she was going. I get this question with curious regularity.
“Did you say that your biggest regret as a mother was that you didn’t trust God more?”
Yes, I told her, it’s true. I wish I had trusted God more.
As I wrote in our book Girl Talk:
“For every fearful peek into the future, I wish I had looked to Christ instead. For each imaginary trouble conjured up, I wish I had recalled the specific, unfailing faithfulness of God. In place of dismay and dread, I wish I had exhibited hope and joy. I wish I had approached mothering like the preacher Charles Spurgeon approached his job: ‘forecasting victory, not foreboding defeat.”