I woke up this morning and cried.
It was today.
The appointment was today.
And, yes, we'd talked about it.
Yes, we'd said we were done.
Yes, I know in my HEAD that I just can't have more.
It was my HEART that was the issue.
Today, Justin would get his vasectomy.
It really did have to happen. Not only am I of "advanced maternal age", but each pregnancy has been harder and harder on me physically with this last one ending in pre-eclampsia.
At first I couldn't really pinpoint why I was so upset over it. Why I felt so unsettled.
But then it hit me.
It's been a long road for me.
It's taken so much of my energy - emotional and physical - to have these children.
It's hard to settle into that that chapter in my life that I've devoted so much to, is ending.
The time of trying and hoping and holding my breath as I sit waiting in the bathroom
- Squinting my eyes to see if there are two pink lines.
"Were you trying for a boy?"
That's the number one question I get asked when I tell people we just had our fourth daughter.
What we were doing was bringing to fruition the only dream I've ever had that really mattered.
Becoming a mother. That's what it was about.
I've thought about it for as long as I can remember.
From the time I'd stuff blankets up my shirt to make it look like I had a belly.
From the time I did photo shoots with my Cabbage Patches and then carried those photos around in my Velcro wallet.
I even planned what their names would be.
(The librarian giving me funny looks because she'd never seen an 11 year old checking out a book of baby names before.)
I always knew I wanted more than two.
Being one of only two had made me long for more siblings. I wanted a playmate.
Someone who got me unlike anyone else.
Especially since MY only sibling was a BOY that liked shooting things and drawing things on graph paper.
I dreamed of Thanksgiving tables filled with family.
Laughing and yelling to be heard and even arguing. Because that meant passion. And a family was the thing I was most passionate ABOUT.
I dreamed of traditions.
Of stairway walls lined with photos of toothless children and shots from vacations where at least one kid looked disgruntled.
I'd see a mother and her children out in public and find myself completely unable to turn away.
Taking in the subtlety of the looks that passed between them and the magic of what they were to each other.
It so overtook me, that when I found myself pregnant and single at the age of 22 and a friend of mine exclaimed,
"You can't be a mother NOW" I realized that yes I could.
I was made for it.
And mother I did.
From an apartment the size of a birdhouse.
We shared a room. We had no AC, and hardly any money - but she never missed a well-child visit. She was always clean and well-mannered. She was reading full books by the time she was three.
And when you ask Alena now what she remembers of the time when it was just me and her, she just remembers ME.
When Justin and I met, we never had that "it's all about us" phase, because it never was.
Alena was already there and therefore, we were immediately family.
A month after we got married, we sat at dinner in a crowded restaurant and decided WHY WAIT? - We were going to try for a baby then.
We knew we wanted kids, and who knew how long it would take.
And try we did.
For a year.
We tried everything.
Every convoluted idea, every herb, every theory.
I put egg whites places no egg whites should go.
It almost drove me crazy.
Then, after a year of trying,
I got pregnant.
I was ELATED.
Alena was elated.
Justin was scared. And a little deer-in-the-headlights-y.
But when I started bleeding a few weeks later, I was more crushed than I've ever been.
That pain was so deep and scarring that I will never forget it as long as I live.
There were weeks I don't even remember.
I have never cried more, prayed more, begged more than I did then.
PLEASE don't let me lose this baby.
But I did.
I cannot explain the pain that I had at that time in my life.
I felt hollow. And teased.
I wondered why God would answer my prayer and then yank it away.
But I chose to trust and believe. And believe me, it was a choice.
I chose to pull myself up from the pit I was teetering by, and move forward.
To try and hope again.
Then a month later, I was pregnant again.
Chloe who has been different and special from the beginning.
Chloe who sparkles.
I was scared to even breathe wrong for fear that it would happen again.
Thinking back, I didn't even enjoy that pregnancy at all. I lived in constant fear of loss.
Every child is special. Each one unique and wonderful.
Chloe just reminds me to trust.
Chloe reminds me that I was never forgotten.
That I was heard.
She was the answer to so many prayers.
Each pregnancy was hard for me. Multiple trips to the doctor. Multiple scares. Multiple ultrasounds.
I got used to staring at the primary colors of the mobile that hung above the exam bed in the ultrasound room.
The room where I'd have good news.
Then not so good news.
My pattern became have one, then lose one, with miscarriages between every one of the girls.
Three in total.
All three painful and challenging in different ways.
They challenged who I thought I was. My beliefs. My marriage.
It's something you never get used to.
But then, with the birth of each girl, over and over I have seen that God's plan is the best plan.
That we just cannot see the beauty He has planned for us until we're in the middle of it.
That what feels like painful and cruel stripping of our dreams is actually the pruning of our branches so that real growth can happen.
So that the fullness of our potential can be brought out.
As I sat on the bed this morning, changing the baby with tears dripping down my face, I don't think Justin understood.
WHY on earth was I saying all this NOW?
Hadn't we discussed it?
Hadn't I been around as he scheduled the appointment and made plans for it?
But no logical plan changes who I am, and who I am is wrapped up in being a mother.
It's hard to turn to the next chapter, when so much of your time and thoughts have been wrapped up in getting pregnant.
In staying pregnant.
It's almost been a full time job.
I know I have to close the door at some time, but
closing that door is SO hard.
My hands are shaking as I do it.
I'm not ready to see the door right next to it that leads to more freedom and independence.
I just want to stand and look at the back of THIS door for awhile.
To remember, in vivid detail, what lies behind it.
A finally positive test.
A fluttery kick.
The feeling of a warm baby being placed on your belly for the first time.
Big, gummy smiles.
Pudgy hands with dimples where the knuckles should be.
The sound of soft, sleeping breaths being breathed into the crook of your neck.
The weight, and the warmth of them.
Just let me stand at the door for awhile longer.
What's behind this door is the most beautiful, magical thing in the world.