The last Firsts

My whole life I wanted to be a mama. My interests and desires changed many times during high school and college…I mean at one point I wanted to be a DJ for a local rock radio station. But one thing has been consistent as far back as I can remember…being a mom.

God has blessed our family richly with 8 living children and 4 awaiting us in eternity. We’ve made no secret that we trust God with our family size and would take as many blessings as He would give. I thought, though, in my humanness that when the season of us having additional biological children came to an end it would be a mutual agreement between me and God. That I would ‘feel’ done and give Him permission to not give us anymore biological children. Isn’t that silly? That God would need or want my permission to do so.

Lily was 5 months old when Kerry was diagnosed with cancer. The radiation on his colon likely removed any chance of us getting pregnant again, but yet…I held out hope. I wasn’t ready to be done. I held on to my baby gear, the newborn clothes and home birth supplies “just in case”.

A few months ago I started to have some health issues that took me to my GYN doc. We tried conservative measures to treat, but the problems were ongoing. Last month I had a sonogram that revealed a number of issues that needed addressed. While I was given different options for treatment they would all mean my days of having babies were officially over. I wasn’t ready. As we prayed about the options, we felt very much like this was God closing the door on that chapter of our lives.

This week I had a hysterectomy to address my health concerns. This obviously completely closes the door on me ever giving birth again. It is sad to think of never going through a pregnancy or labor again, missing those newborn snuggles and introducing a new baby to their older siblings. As I unpacked boxes last week, I came across all of those saved baby things. I pulled out the baby blankets, onesies and tiny baby socks for the last time. I thanked God that I’d been able to use these for the children He’d gifted us with. I thanked God for the beauty of new life, for the lessons learned and whispered prayers in all those midnight feedings.

God’s goodness in giving us 8 healthy children is not lost on me. The fact that any pregnancy ever makes it to term is miraculous. All of the things that must go right to get pregnant, grow a baby and then give birth to that baby…they are incredible works at the hand of our loving and merciful God. As I sit here recovering from surgery, I am at peace. I am at peace with this chapter being over and I am forever grateful for the children I have.

I am sad too, but in a way that you’re sad when you’re leaving something you love behind, but are turning to look to the future and opening a new door. Our home and arms will always be open to any children God wishes to bring to our family through other means. We have long talked about opening our home to foster care and adoption and, in time, we will work towards that goal.

For now, we are entering a season we’ve never been in before…a season of last firsts. The last time we will experience the ‘firsts’ with our youngest child. We will be in a season without newborns, diapers and sleepless nights with a restless babe. We embrace what God has in store for us. We will continue to turn our eyes to Him and seek prayerfully what He would have us do as we raise our family. God has been gracious and merciful to us. We rejoice in raising our children and looking ahead.

PS…thank you to my friends who are in the newborn trenches for letting me hold your wee babies. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Burning the candle at both ends

Do you know that country song by Brooks and Dunn? (Hard Working Man) The chorus has a line:

“I’m burnin’ my candle at both ends
‘Bout the only way to keep the fire goin’
Is to outrun the wind”

That’s what it has felt like for the last couple of months. It’s been busy season at work and busy season in life too. Every spare moment has been spent working on the new house, packing up the old one and all the things in between.

Kerry and I both took off some time in April to paint, lay flooring and do some of the interior finish work ourselves. We’ve also poured concrete countertops, installed pantry and bathroom cabinets. The lagoon was dug, rural water and telephone were all trenched in.

The electricians and plumbers worked hard to get the final touches done and we were able to move in this last weekend! We still have a few things to do like the island top and backsplash in the kitchen, but it’s all done enough for us to be here. We are so thankful! The sunrises are as beautiful as the sunsets and the kids are thrilled with the extra space to play.

We are still very much settling in and working to find a place for everything but it is good to be HOME.