On the eve of Thing One’s 5th birthday, I am reflective. I’m thinking back to the moment at 9:06 a.m. on January 18, 2007, when, alone and shaking in the bathroom, I discovered that I would be a mother. I told no one, not even Gordon. The day was chilly and rainy; a cold shock of adrenaline coursed through me every time I remembered the good news, which was minute-ly.
The night before, I had had a dream that was so alive with color and scent that when I woke up, I was startled to find myself in bed. Earlier in the week, I ate an entire bag of frozen Totinos pizza rolls at about 8 p.m., which horrified me, and still makes me break into a cold sweat when I think about it. I wondered at the strange things my body was doing. And, well, I knew. I just plain knew.
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I pretended to sleep as Gordon left the house for work. I heard the door close behind him and I threw back the covers. I was wearing a pair of terrible, unattractive pajama pants that were teal with multi-colored polka dots. They could be raised almost to my chin, which would prove useful in coming months, but which told the world I had given up on a happy life and a productive future. I’m sad those are part of this very special memory, but we can’t all be wearing Valentino during major life events.
When the test came out positive, I used the Lord’s name in vain 800 times. I called my doctor with the intensity of someone who has discovered a possum in her attic and is placing a call to animal control. A professional needs to be made aware! A miracle is happening and it has gotten out of hand.
My plan was to arrange an “early father’s day surprise party” for Gordon that evening when he returned from work. I had purposely waited until this particular day when I didn’t have to go into work and could spend the day giddily preparing to detonate the biggest bomb in my man’s life. I knew if I found out even the day before, there would be no hope of keeping the secret.
I drove to Bluebonnet Bakery and ordered a cake. I drove to the party store for pink and blue crepe paper. In the middle of the day, I treated myself to Chipotle. Standing in line, I overheard a woman telling her friend that because she was due in September, she would have to plan around such-and-such event. Hey! I was due in September! I was due, too! We two, we both were due, me with Thing One and then with Thing Two. We both were due, I am telling you!
“I am also due in September,” I said, crow-barring my way into their conversation. They looked at me politely, leaning against that cold metal railing. “Oh, how great,” said one of them. Thud. They went back to their conversation, but my head was woozy with an evangelistic high, shaking from the power of sharing such good, good news. A baby was on its way! My baby!
He was born September 19, two days before his due date. When he came out, his expression suggested he was doing long division in his head without a pencil or paper. He didn’t wail. He just looked up at me from his swaddle with the confusion and wonder of someone who has been beamed up to the mother ship in very unattractive pajama pants, and was as purple as a Welch’s grape.
The weeks that followed were difficult. I cried for no reason. I had awful thoughts of Drew being killed. My breasts were out of control and vying for domination of the hemisphere. And I was still lugging 40 of the 45 pounds I had gained during pregnancy. (How does a 7 lb baby only subtract 5 lbs from your total weight?)
Things were not easy, and they still aren’t easy, but I’m grateful for how God has kept me afloat on this rough sea of faith. I have seen horizons so beautiful it hurts, and have been engulfed by the awesome hush of humility. Motherhood has swallowed me up into a world that I cannot control or dominate; a world that is beautiful and good, dangerous and unpredictable. In other words, Motherhood has rescued me from a life of false reality. It has thrust me into the way things really are.
And even though reality is scary, motherhood has also taught me to trust the God who supervises reality. For five years, I have been apprenticed to reality in the way he saw fit for me, and he has proven faithful. So I’m grateful for this difficult and profound journey.
Happy Birthday, Drew. You were the beginning of many Things indeed.
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