If you had asked me years ago about my family plans, I would have said I hoped for two and just maybe three children. I never dreamed of or desired a large family.
And then, Mary was born. It was one of those horror story/happy ending labor stories that should only be shared with those who enjoy such things and never with anyone expecting their first child. After all that, I wasn’t sure I wanted more children.
When I found that our second was on the way, my joy was somewhat overshadowed by fear. I went doctor hunting with a list of questions just like I was interviewing a job candidate. I was thorough... I was tough as nails… And I cried when I met Dr. Dunn. She was an amazing Ob/Gyn. I knew that with her on my side, I would somehow make it through the ordeal ahead.
A few weeks before due date, my amazing doc was thrown from a horse and shattered her wrist. Her office staff called me that day. I was paralyzed with fear. As soon as she was out of surgery, Dr Dunn called me to reassure me that a back-up doc was already found and that I could meet him before birth.
And then, Danny came early, unexpectedly, and with complications. They had to take him fast and by C-section. I met the new doc in head spinning fashion a few minutes before they wheeled me into the operating room. He did a beautiful job delivering my little one with the assistance of my bandaged up Dr. Dunn. She scrubbed in. Less than one week after a terrible fall, she scrubbed in. Just for me. Because she cared. It restored my hope that doctors care about patients.
When we found number three was on the way, I went back to the doctor’s office like I was going to see old friends. When Dr. Dunn said that I should plan on this third c-section being my last, I was okay with it. A family of five. I worked for me. I signed the papers. It’s was a done deal.
And then, after Sarah had cried for the first time and I had kissed her sweet little head, Dr. Dunn told us the good news that things looked good enough for a fourth c-section. We opted to leave everything in working order and make the decision later.
A few shopping trips, a few family functions, and a few birthday parties later… I was sure I was done. Plenty outnumbered and certainly done. I pushed Eric to make the decision permanent.
I bought that last pregnancy test, full of shock and disbelief, wondering how I could possibly keep up with four little ones ages five and under, I dreaded telling anyone what I already knew. I cried. I really did. How on earth could I handle four little ones spaced so closely. What were people going to say? How many corny jokes would I have to put up with? How would I answer those who asked, “How in the world are you going to keep up?"
I was terrified. I felt inadequate. I felt strange to be a mother of so many. I felt conspicuous and odd.
So I kept it all a secret for awhile. Even when a good friend asked if we planned more children, I lied outright and told her that we certainly didn’t plan any more children. I laughed and cried a bit inside as I said that.
Somehow, as pregnancy settled in, I came to peace with my new, improved, ever-enlarging family. And it was okay. We finally told our family and friends. Though there were good natured jokes, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I feared.
But we still had only three little ones to chase.
All my children had somehow been spaced an even 22 months apart. Baby number four had the kindness to follow the pattern in some crazy act of divine wisdom or coincidence… I’ll never know which.
But what that means in practical terms is that every time I had a two year old (ahem…. terrible two), I also had a newborn to care for. That’s a hard thing. I was so frightened that I wouldn’t be able to do it with four little ones. I was terrified.
I was so afraid to be a mom of many. I didn’t know what it would look like, or feel like, or be like.
But, I found that I could do the job just fine. The job description had just changed to better suit my family’s needs.
I could never do what a mother of one or two can do. I can never be a mom of three. I am a mom of many. Slowly but surely, I found that being this kind of mom means I can’t be the kind of mom some of my friends are. I can’t do all the things for my kids that a mother of two can. I can’t take them to the same kinds of places, because there is a baby to take into account. I can’t spend as much time with just one child. I can’t buy them as many things. I can’t always read their favorite book before bed. I must admit I have felt some guilt over such things.
Slowly and surely, I have seen that success being a mom of many just looks different.
Instead of mother/daughter nights, we have girls’ nights. Instead of having lots of great toys (though they have more than plenty), they have each other to play with. Instead of going to Chicago to see the city, we go camping down the road at a state park. Instead of signing the kids up for individual lessons somewhere, we find things to do together as a family. Instead of always getting our own way, we bend to the needs/desires of the others in our family. Instead of being everything to my little ones, we are everything to each other all at the same time. And my heart grew four sizes times infinity…
And the farther down the road I get in my full of car-seats vehicle, the more that I see the wonder of the gift of being a mom of many. And I thank God for planning to give me my sweet little Sam, just at the perfect time.
And sometimes (even though my body is done having babies), I wonder what it would be like if there were more little ones to love. And I wonder how I could have ever missed the amazing life God planned for me.
Loving life with a full house.
Thankful that God knew better.
I’m happy to be a momma of many.