Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Story I've Been Waiting to Tell You About Baby #7 - The One In Which I Freaked Out {A Little}

Over the weekend Steve and I took the boys up to the local high school football field to burn off a little steam.  While the big guys threw the pigskin around, I was pretty content to circle the track on my own for a few miles.

I thought I was still running, but according to my oldest son, my pace looks more like a brisk shuffle. Leave it to a 5'10" 130 pound teenage boy to keep my 29 week bloated ego in check.
Anyway, after a few shuffling laps, Joey decided to cut in on my lane, giving me a sweet little view of his back side.  Baby buns are the best, aren't they?  With the sunshine pouring through his wispy locks, I was happy to have such a cute distraction from my mental workout.

My mind had been spinning for the past half hour with worry over how I am going to care for another little baby in the midst of everything that our family is currently trying to work through concerning Steve's health, Charlie's growth issues, the upcoming spring and summer activities, and farm life starting to ramp up.

Yes, it's true, mothers of big families don't always have it all together.  We're not experts, or well-seasoned at much of anything, really.  We worry, we fret, we even freak out once in a while. 

I freak out a lot, actually.

In fact, after writing my last post, I wondered if maybe my joy for raising a big brood of boys, and sharing our excitement over welcoming another little one (both genuine emotions) left you all thinking that I've got this motherhood thing down, or that we're some sort of Bob Ross portrait of big family perfection

Not so, my friends.  Not even close.

The crazy thing is, you can freak out about lots of things as a mom, including having another baby, and still posses a joyful spirit, still trust in God's plans (although you think His plans lean towards crazy at times), and still walk forward confidently in that plan, despite feeling a teensie bit overwhelmed.

Speaking of having another baby, in the past seeing two pink lines has never resulted in me reacting in any way other than bawling with happiness.

Except for this last test.  This last one was kinda different.  Let me break it down for ya....

It was the first of September, and Steve was out of town traveling on business.  I was here at home, holding down the homeschool-sports-music lesson-diaper changing-24/7cafe fort.  While the boys enjoyed a recess from the books outdoors, I remained in the classroom to prep for the next lesson.  In the middle of mapping out the Assyrian Empire, it dawned on me that I was a few days late for that favorite time of the month.

No biggie, I thought.  Marathon training tends to throw the ol' cycle off a bit. We've been here before. It's all good. 

I tried to return to the Persian Gulf, but the nagging thought of the possible (but so unlikely) chance of being pregnant would not stop nagging me, so I snuck into the house and dug around until I finally unearthed a pregnancy test from a crumbled box that was hidden underneath an ancient bag of bath salts that I bought a century ago when I used to have time for baths.

Doot-da-do, let's just get this over with. I mean there's absolutely NO WAY....

Yeah.  Way.

I didn't even get the faded lines, you know the ones that make your eye balls sore from straining so hard to see if there really is a stripe on the stick? The ones where you walk around the house and ask every breathing soul if they can see a line?  Nope, it was two bold pink lines.

Great, for the first time in 15 years, I'm the one who's been randomly tossed into that 3% margin of error pool. Awesome.

Slightly on edge, but not quite to the point of vodka, I ran outside, yelled at the boys like a drill sergeant and *lovingly* ordered them to buckle up in the burb, because we were going on a field trip to Chick-Fil-A followed by our favorite chain store neighbor, Walgreens.  

We didn't even go in to either place.  Drive thru field trip all the way. For the first time ever I didn't notice the spilled lemonade and Polynesian sauce sprayed all over the seats. The boys had never witnessed such oblivion from their mother before.  They were in awe.

Back home with a fresh batch of tests, I was ready for this chicken dance to be over.

Let's take a for real test this time.

Okay two for real tests.  Three?  {Sigh.} Stupid lines.

Bill Nye the Science Guy and Miss Frizzle would have to take over afternoon teaching duties, because I had charts and a calendar to study.

How (well, we know how) but.....when....could this have happened? I don't even think we've had time to hold hands or wink at each other lately.

Just to catch all you NFP fans up to speed, here's how Steve and I approach all that business:

Have a baby.  Use NFP for a few months until mommy's thyroid/hormone/adrenals start to function properly.  Throw the charts away. Buy pregnancy tests. Wait on the Lord to bless (or not to bless) us with some pink lines.

Seriously, that's pretty much been our typical routine. But, after we had Joseph, and concerns over Steve's health began to worsen, much more responsibility was placed upon my shoulders. His care, and the care of our children, and taking over as many duties that we normally shared together naturally became first in the order of charity and priority for me.

It was time to reevaluate things a little bit.  For the first time in 14 years, we prayerfully decided to practice NFP for just and serious reasons.

I'd be lying if I told you that in that moment of discovering I was pregnant again I didn't struggle with the loss of things of lesser importance, things I would be giving up again, things like sleeping through the night, Friday's gin and tonic, non-pregnancy/nursing attire, training for races.  All of those things seem so superficial don't they?  Yet, I confess that I don't have the detachment thing down.

I like routine, comfort, fun, sleep, and beer.  I dislike hemorrhoids, swelling, nausea, exhaustion, pre-natal vitamins and labor. Experiencing all of those little annoyances with a healthy husband at my side is one thing, going through them with a sick spouse, plus six very busy boys under my wing is entirely another.

Despite our prayerful and practical efforts to postpone any future pregnancies, God, in His wisdom, had an entirely different set of plans for us.  And, for Steve and I, that's really the beauty of practicing NFP prayerfully.  There never ceases to be an openness to life.  We offer the Lord our present circumstances, and trust Him to lead us....even though the path ahead sometimes looks completely different than the one we would have chosen to take ourselves.

In the midst of the shock and surprise over a positive test, I knew, deep down that the only resolution to the immediate tears of worry and confusion would be to trust.  To say over and over again, yes, Lord.  As you wish.

I want you to know, those of you who have ever been (or maybe you currently are) in the camp of worry, of anxiety, and of freaking out about your present family circumstances, that it's okay.  You don't have to have it all together all of the time.  

If others look at you and say, well, you chose this big family thing so that's what you get, then they can stick it.  No one lacks empathy for the med-school student working three jobs, or the ironman athlete who lost two toenails last week.

Because, what they're doing is admirable.


It's okay to feel frustrated and completely overwhelmed.  It's okay to cry, to be angry, to question, to desperately seek a way around the circumstances that we face, rather than walk straight through them with our pride as our shield of protection.

But, those feelings aren't the end of the story, they're just a natural and sometimes very necessary beginning to the great one that God is writing in our lives.

We can do our best to hide our fragility from others, but we cannot hide it from our Father. He made us. He even became human like us, so that there would be no distance between His love and understanding of us and our freedom to trust in that understanding.

He knows all, He sees all, and yet He is not a distant Father who leaves us to struggle out in the deep hopeless and alone.  He does not leave us weeping in fear and anguish on the floor of our bedroom, unable to face what it will require of us to open the door and bravely walk out into the storm. We are not alone!

I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life to remind me of that very truth, people who have been through tough times themselves and can testify to the Lord's love and fidelity, people who encourage me to place my confidence in Him and to remember, above all, that God is God and we are not.  He can only desire what is best for us, and it is up to us to trust Him.

I want to pass along that encouragement to you, and to tell you that you are not alone.  We are in this camp together, and we are going to make it, even if we have to freak out a little along the way.


  1. Beautiful!!! I can relate to so much of this. After the conception of our last baby, for the first time ever, I cried. But God SO knew what He was doing. I grew so much through that pregnancy and now this little nine month old is pure joy incarnate. He has brought so much beauty and joy and hope and healing to our family in a way that only God could design. Thanks for sharing your story and encouragement because I'm sure it's needed for someone out there right now. May the rest of your pregnancy be healthy and may you have a wonderful birth <3

  2. There's something sneaky about these 7th babies...

    but once they're here we will just not be able to imagine life without them. Just like all the rest :) We will get through it!!

  3. You are amazing Susan, seriously heroic in your openness with all you're going through. Thank you for being such an amazing example to all of us in the trenches.

  4. Thank you for sharing and your witness! Prayers for all of you!!

  5. Susan, thank you for this! I think it is so important to have that little "freak out" and admit that we don't have it together, rather than bottling it up inside under a shield of pride. God likes it when we're honest and willing to give it all to Him. Thank you for being open, honest, and seeking to follow God's crazy path!

  6. This is my first time ever visiting your blog. As a mom to 7, finding out my last pregnancy ( and our NFP use) was very similar to yours and I couldn't help but smile. As overwhelming as it all felt, I had to just smile through because I wanted a big family to begin with. But I felt so much the same. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I am in exactly, exactly!!! your position in terms of my hubby's health, and a surprise baby. Freak outs and faith have to go together, I've learned. :) Thanks for writing this.

  8. I love this post so much. And I was experiencing pretty much ALL those feelings just a week after you. Big hugs, sister. Keep on shuffling. ;)

  9. Thank you. That's what exactly happened to me when I found out about our last pregnancy. My husband was much calmer than I and our 4 boys were super excited and now every day they fight over their 2 month old little sister, whom they prayed for. God certainly knows what he's doing. I'm thankful for that.

  10. This post-AWESOME-and SO what I needed to hear! Thank you! May God bless you and your beautiful family!

  11. I can totally relate. I took four pregnancy tests and had convinced myself I was in that small pool of women who get positive pregnancy tests when they start peri-menopause. I cried, and cried (and cried). I still wonder about the how/when. Yet, there came a point, when I began to laugh at all the craziness and know that God has a plan for it all. A beautiful plan. Since Thomas came home, I still worry some how it will all work, but in the end I know that God has got this all and will carry us all through the transitions.

  12. I remember that phone call well ;) Love you to the moon and back, Susan. I'm just sad we aren't doing this pregnancy together. Hugging and cheering you on all the way from Tejas.

  13. This is amazing! God is doing such great work in and through you, Susan! Thank you for being so transparent! You are a blessing!

  14. I had my seventh last year during the darkest time of our lives. She is my sunshine and joy. GOD is all wisdom and goodness. God bless you and congratulations!

  15. THANK you for writing this. I've been carrying around a good-sized chunk of guilt for months and months because of my initial reaction to finding out I was pregnant with my wonderful, wonderful fourth baby.


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