Since the day we found out we were pregnant it's been nothing but happiness and excitement for us. I suppose it's somewhat of a Cinderella story for me personally. You see, before meeting the most wonderful man and falling in love, I never imagined I'd have a second child.
—I was a young single mother, a string of serious jerks in her wake, bitter, fiercely independent, strong willed, and VERY feisty.
I had lived through my own personal hell, and I came out smoldering.
My reconciliation, my story of grace, the fact that I eventually came to be a wife and a soon-to-be mother for a second time, is just as much a mystery to me as anyone.
Let me rewind.
In May 2006, I was a month shy of 20 years old, newly married and VERY pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult. At 41 weeks, I was sent to the hospital for an induction, but suddenly found myself on the way to the operating room for an emergency c-section.
I had not prepared for this. I was terrified. I just needed my dad. He left work and made it just in time to squeeze my hand. He told me I would be just fine and that he loved me, and then they whisked me away on a gurney.
I didn't know that this would be the last time I'd ever hold his hand.
After I awoke from surgery, I was wheeled down the hallway to recovery. My family and friends gathered around as I was FINALLY able to meet Ezra, my chubby little bundle of sweetness, for the very first time. Down the hallway further and into my recovery room we went. "Can someone get my dad?" I asked, noting his absence. "He's gone to take your sisters home sweetie. He'll be back to see you guys in the morning."
The next day, I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing. It was my younger brother, Isaac. Dad wasn't waking up. Something was wrong. "What do I do?" he asked me. "Call 911!" I said. We hung up. I waited and waited, still not completely awake or coherent from pain medication —it all felt like a dream. Some time later a call came from my uncle. My hero, my rock, my daddy —was gone. Heart complications. He died in his sleep.
I was so confused. The next several days were spent in excruciating pain, lying in my hospital bed. Streams of people came and went, bringing flowers, gifts, words of congratulations and condolence in the same breath. I wish I could remember the faces and the words, but they're all a blur. The happiest time of my life —turned so bittersweet. A day of joy overthrown by confusion, sadness, and mourning.
My oldest brother was away on tour with his band. He flew home with the news that something terrible had happened, all the while not knowing exactly what.
Days began to pass by; We eventually went home from the hospital, and along with us came my two oldest brothers. They couldn't bare to stay in the apartment where my dad had passed, and honestly, we all needed each other.
Months began to come and go, and it all felt like a blur. I was a terrible mother. I couldn't even nurse my baby. Emotional trauma overtook my body and things weren't working like they were supposed to. I wasn't healing well from my surgery. I started to sleep a lot.
It must have been weeks before I ever saw my baby boys legs and feet for the first time. Someone else was always changing him, bathing him, sleeping with him.
He had his first overnights away from me almost as soon as we got home. Two very dear friends kept him for me while I attended my dads wake and funeral over two days. The grief and confusion I experienced kept me from feeling guilty about it. —It was what it was.
A few months went by and my brothers were finally ready to move out. Soon after,] it became apparent that my then-husband had very little interest in our marriage, and I began to discover relationships he was having with other women in his workplace.
It seemed everything was coming to a head all at once and my life unraveled. By October, I had had enough of the lying, the sneaking, the cell phone checking, and the tears.
I found a job and a place to live, took my sweet baby, and left to go it alone.
During my transition period I spoke with my friend Beth, who was the single mom of two teenaged boys. She told me that being a single mom was the hardest thing she'd ever done. She told me not to count on anyone else; to work hard, make my own way, and never count on my ex for parental or monetary support.
Truthfully I thought she was being a tad dramatic. My ex had promised to pay child support. He was seeing Ezra regularly. I never thought my situation would mimic the one Beth knew so well.
Then one night he called to tell me that he'd changed his mind; he would no longer give me ANY support without a legal order. He had a new family now. A girlfriend with 2 of her own children,
—and they were pregnant.
I was devastated and in a panic. How would I pay rent and childcare fees on my puny office salary?
Here I was, betrayed and abandoned. Still grieving the loss of my dad. Angry. Scared. Alone. Overweight. No wonder I couldn't keep a husband, I thought to myself. I didn't want me either.
A short time later, Ezra had one of those epic blow-out diapers, and I took him upstairs to change him. I prepared his changing mat, laid him down on the floor, and just stopped and stared at him, tears streaming down my face. I began sobbing and walked out of the room, leaving him there on the floor. Slumping against the wall in the hallway, I continued to sob.
I didn't want to do this! I finally allowed myself to admit it. I didn't want to be the one responsible for every single need my child had; every moment, every day. I didn't feel like I could do it, and I didn't feel like it was fair.
Yet after a few minutes of prize winning self-pity that would put any Hollywood actress to shame, I picked myself up, dried my eyes, and went back in to find Ezra just waiting there, smiling at my sudden reappearance as if I was the greatest sight he'd ever seen. I knelt down, kissed his grinning cheeks, and changed his diaper.
—I was his momma. And at that moment, I could see that life wasn't over. It was just beginning.
The next few years were hard. Harder than I imagined. But I found my way. People started to say that I was a GREAT mom! Maybe I was. Maybe she had been in there all along, just waiting for the fog to clear.
Soon after my divorce was finalized in January 2009, my ex stopped showing up for visits with Ezra entirely, and I began to fill both parent roles as best I could.
I had gotten used to the idea that I would fill them both forever. I wouldn't let someone hurt us like that again. I had dated a little, each time worse than the last, until I concluded that it wasn't worth the effort. I became very bitter and hard hearted over it all. I was very cynical; always copping an attitude with any guy who looked my way. It was better to put them in their place immediately than to let them anywhere near my heart, or my remaining shred of sanity.
One night I took out my journal and began to write;
My Best Friend and Husband.
Loves God. Loves Ezra. Loves ME!. Puts his heart into his work. Has a good job that he loves. Kind. Funny. Honest. Loving. Extremely Handsome. etc...
I tore the page from my journal and folded it into a small square. Using a pushpin, I tacked it to the wall above my bed and resolved to give it over to God. I was finished doing things my way.
Then it happened —My BEST FRIEND got a boyfriend. How dare she. We lived right next door to each other. Both single moms. We did everything together. Our boys were the same age, on the same soccer and football teams, at the same school. WE were supposed to grow old together. Like The Golden Girls or something.
Unfortunately, she had less time to spend with me now, and I was lonely.
Maybe I should try dating again. Maybe the men have matured. —Laughable, I know! Yet I decided I'd give it a try.
After going on a terrible date with a pretentious 30-something I'd met on eHarmony, I was approached by a guy-friend who told me he had a buddy I should meet.
Um. No thanks. I appreciated his pity, but I was fine. I'd stuck my toe back in the dating pool already, and it was icy cold.
A couple of weeks went by and my BFF was still shuffling her time between her new beau and msyelf. I was still lonely. I told her about this friend of a friend I was encouraged to meet and she said I should go for it.
Reluctantly, I did.
It seemed like forever between the time I told my friend I was interested, and the time his friend, Adrian, broke the ice with me. After talking for a few weeks we had our first date.
—Some time soon after our engagement, I pulled that list of traits off of my bedroom wall and opened it for the first time since I had put it there. Going down the list, I put a check by every single one.
We had a beautiful small wedding on a cool February morning. We were a brand new family. And now about a year and nine months later, we have another baby boy coming along any day.
It's been such a crazy whirlwind for me, and God has been so faithful. I'm not who I was before. I'm optimistic. I believe in love again. I believe in family. I believe husbands are capable of being loyal. It feels amazing.
Yet, as the birth of this baby draws nearer each day, I am fearful. I can't help but let my mind take me to places of sadness and dread. I have said so many times throughout this pregnancy that I don't know what to do with this baby, and people have laughed with me about it. But some part of it is true in my heart. I didn't have the experience most mothers get with their brand new babies. I don't remember most of it. I wasn't present, emotionally or physically for so many things. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. For something to go wrong. For the rug to be pulled out from under my little family. I hate that I feel this way, but my experience haunts me.
So much will be different this time. —Everyone keeps telling me this, and I keep telling myself the same. But the "what if's?" are nagging.
Just waiting for this baby to arrive has been a great source of anxiety in itself. One of my very best friends lost her precious baby to stillbirth one year ago in July. As my due date grows closer, I am so overwhelmed with grief for her on a level I was not able to fully grasp last year. I was heartbroken for Lacey, no doubt about it. We had all lost this baby. She was much loved and much anticipated. But the reality of her loss grips my heart in a new way as I realize the devastation she must feel, ever-present still, after months of expectation, preparation, dreams of the future, her second precious daughter; one who never made it home this side of Heaven. Healthy and thriving one moment, and suddenly gone in the next.
I whole heartedly believe what God's word tells us about the plans He has for our lives. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. And with wisdom and experience under my belt, I now know that sometimes those plans are painful. They don't always unfold the way that we expect or desire. They don't always produce the results we think they should.
So here I am at His mercy. Longing to bring home a healthy, happy baby boy, and everyone else I love along with him. And I'll trust in the plans He has for us, no matter what happens.