Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Quiver Full

As I was growing up, I often dreamed of becoming a mother someday. I was naturally drawn to babies and children. I loved to nurture, and the thought of having my own little ones in the future filled my heart with such joy. At the beginning of my senior year of college I met my best friend and future husband. Two years later we were married, and within the first year we were eager to begin our family. However, weeks, months, and then years began to slip by, and we were still waiting. The ache of desire during that season was nearly unbearable at times as we continued to pray for a baby. We had a sense all along that our first born would be a boy. Shawn had known he wanted to name his first son Benjamin ever since he was in high school. The night before I finally had a positive pregnancy test, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart, "Read Psalm 68." When I reached verse 27 the words jumped off the page, "There is little Benjamin their leader." Sure enough, the next morning my pregnancy was confirmed, and Benjamin was indeed growing inside my womb! You can read that story here.

Overjoyed that we had begun our journey into parenthood, we never could have fathomed what was in store for us within the near future. We never could have imagined the challenges we would face upon the arrival of our sweet son. We had no idea we were about to land in "Holland." Since that day in May of 2009, we have been on an incredible journey of learning and growth. We have experienced great heartache, we have been filled with overwhelming joy, we have faced daunting challenges, and we have witnessed genuine miracles. The first four years of this amazing journey is recorded in my book Reflections from Holland: A New Mother's Journey with Down Syndrome.

A few years after Benjamin was born, we felt ready to add to our family. Once again the wait was longer than anticipated. However, a few months before our son celebrated his fourth birthday, we welcomed our beautiful daughter Joelle into the world, and took our first trip to "Italy." Holding my healthy newborn against my chest on the day of her birth was an incredibly healing experience as I took in the wonder of her tiny features and drank in her sweet newborn scent. She has been an incredible source of joy in our lives. She is lively, inquisitive, full of imagination, and will be celebrating her fifth birthday in a matter of months.

The conception of our sweet son Josiah was a thrilling surprise. He made his debut on the same day Joelle turned exactly two-and-a-half years old. His arrival was filled with it's own scary challenges, though. I was required to have a repeat c-section, and in the process he inhaled amniotic fluid into his lungs and began to drown. For several scary minutes he was very critical, but God's hand of protection was upon him. After nearly twenty minutes the medical staff was able to suction his lungs and get him stabilized. Unfortunately, however, he was taken to a NICU an hour away. My husband went to stay with him while I recovered in the hospital and cried for my baby. My mom and family friends cared for our other two children during these shaky couple of days. Three days after Josiah's birth I was released from the hospital and eagerly went to see and hold my newborn for the first time. Those three days were painfully long, but not so long as the nine days I had waited to hold Benjamin. Thankfully, Josiah was discharged shortly after we arrived, and he is now a spunky two year old, who is very much a Mommy's boy!

This fall we were once again thrilled to learn that another little blessing is on the way! I am currently three months pregnant with number four, and we couldn't be happier! One thing that has really marked this pregnancy so far is the strong sense of peace that has covered my heart. After our experience with Benjamin, I really wrestled with fear when I conceived the second time. I had some placenta complications early on and had a few frightening months of bleeding with Joelle. The fear continued into my third pregnancy as a result, though it was not quite as intense. However, I can look back and see the Lord's hand of faithfulness over each pregnancy and each child's life. My due date this time is the same week as my 36th birthday--an age where many women have decided to stop bearing children. However, I have such a calmness in my soul, and I am so grateful! I am praying to be able to fully enjoy the entire process this time. I am praying for the gift of a complication free pregnancy and delivery, but ultimately I know that the baby and I are in the Lord's hands. He is faithful.

This week I had a sweet video come up on my Facebook memory feed back from the time Benjamin was an only child. I was holding him and kissing him as he belly-laughed with a face full of glee. I watched it over and over, enjoying the precious memories of the time he had me all to himself. Even though beginning parenthood with a child with special needs was very difficult, I am so thankful that he was our first born and he had the experience of our undivided attention for nearly four years. The Lord knew he needed that time, and we did too. I am equally grateful, though, that he is growing up with siblings who will love him, teach him, and ultimately be a vital part of his life. They are all a gift to each other.

 Children are such an incredible blessing, and I am so thankful that God has entrusted these little treasures to us. Parenting is definitely hard work as well, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Psalm 127:3-5a reads...

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them...

Our quiver is getting full!

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