for my fourth

June 24, 2017

I'm sitting here sipping coffee with the windows open at the end of June. The air is cool, humidity free. A Colorado day that we are having here in northwest Missouri. This is a rare day, and so are you, a fourth child.

A couple of weeks ago I found out you were growing inside of me, a little person forming in my womb. I had a suspicion and the faded pink line confirmed and my eyes grew wide with many emotions: surprise, fear, excitement. Surprise, as we had finally said yes to a fourth in our hearts but hadn't with our feet just yet. Fear, as the number four seemed big and beyond me, and I knew others opinions may not be in our favor. And excitement, as I thought about welcoming another life into our midst.

After we had Becks, I wasn't sure I would have more. Two girls seemed so complete to me. And then we prayed, and along came Nan. And we had always said two or four, but once we had three we realized just how big that number was. Odd or even, a family of five had become our jam. Nan's pregnancy was really hard on my body. Your dad had contracted zi.ka in the middle of the pregnancy which meant some unknowns and extra ultrasounds, which fortunately resulted in nothing unusual. My pelvis had separated towards the end and it took a long time to heal and be able to walk, stand, and step normally.  Plus the transition to three kids, which was just a lot in so many big ways. I couldn't really think about a fourth for awhile. It's not even that I didn't want to think about a fourth; I didn't have the capacity to even go there. 

But slowly, like a spring garden bursting forth in the heat of the summer sun, my heart began to open to the possibility bit by bit. I had learned with Nan that God could stretch me and grow me far beyond myself. I had learned that at the end of myself was this great chasm that I didn't have to leap over on my own, but that God would carry me through in beautiful, sometimes tear-filled, but always grace-filled ways. It was a space I would have never found with only two children; a space so bursting forth with goodness and rawness and realness. It was a space where I had to embrace my inability with God's ability every single day. And as I thought about a fourth child, as I thought about you, I knew that God would meet me at that chasm again.

But just because I knew that, it didn't make me want to again. Not yet. I thought of the pain I would endure again. The possibility of my pelvis literally ripping at the seams again. I thought of less time with each of my children. I thought of more days in the infant phase. I thought of another year I would have to spend nursing. I thought of longer years until I could return to teaching. I thought of less people being willing to help out [four kids is pushing the limits of what people want to step into]. I thought of my body going through the trauma of growing another human, and delivering him/her into the world. I thought of limits on what we could do as a family.

 So I started to pray. And once I prayed I heard God clearly say, "You're not making this decision. I gave you Brent. Let him lead you." Woah. Little one, you will learn early that it is hard, hard work for me to sit back and be led sometimes.  I thought of that little word that packs a punch: submit. And while I was praying about the possibility of you and praying through my fears and excuses, God called to mind a little radio interview I had heard this past year.  I only caught a portion of it before your sisters requested "their songs",  but I remember clearly it was a husband and wife, and she said something like this: In life there are very few times I'm going to have to totally submit to a decision my husband makes, because usually we are on the same page. And making a decision with him, that I fully support, isn't submission, even though I wish it were. And in our 40 years of marriage, there have been very few times that we haven't been able to reach a decision together; where submission to trust his decision is required of me. But submission is only submission when it isn't a decision I would have necessarily arrived at on my own. That is paraphrased, but that little snippet really spoke to me, and God brought it back to my mind like a sledgehammer when I really started praying about the possibility of you.

It was a beautiful spring evening and we were out for a walk. We had parked the strollers and were letting your sisters crawl around on some steps and rocks, and I said to your dad, "I'm going to trust you to lead me in this. I trust you to seek God and make this decision for our family." And your dad took that seriously. He prayed and read scripture and prayed some more. And when he said he knew I was supposed to get pregnant, and if I couldn't get pregnant then that meant we were to adopt a fourth, I trusted him, even though my knees were knocking at every turn.

We went on a little family vacation with your dad's side of the family in late May, and I didn't know it yet but I was pregnant with you. On our drive I listened to a new song by Sara Groves called "Strangely Ready." She sings:
I'm strangely ready for what comes next
I'm strangely ready
It's hard to describe cause it makes no sense.
I'm strangely ready for what comes next.

Count it faith, I got up.
Nothing left for me yet but a longing with trust.
Was it faith? I don't know.
You just lifted and led me and I had to go.
Now I'm strangely ready.

A vision in the sky
A fire in the night
You said you'll do your part if I'll do mine
Now I'm strangely ready

 As I listened to those words I asked God that, if He were to give us another child, that I would be strangely ready. And while there is so much unknown out here on the edge, He just lifted and led me and I had to go.

I have to think of those first, quiet dream-like hospital days. Adrenaline still pumping through me, the magic dust yet to settle. A nursery staff and nurses bringing me iced water around the clock. You as a brand new bundle of fresh, soft skin. I think of getting to do that again-- hard, hard labor-work followed by that moment that is ethereal when it is as if God Himself has handed you to me.

But the reality of heading home after that? The transition back to our house and day-to-day living?  There have been times already where I nearly crumble under the weight of what that may bring. I know a lot of people, after three kids, say, "Oh, what's one more?!" But my sister said, "Well, it's one more." It will be a lot more. More diapers, more sleep lost, more pediatrician appointments, more fears, more food to cook, more schedules to manage, more carseats in the van, more school programs,  more disciplining, more, more, more. But it will also be more hugs, more laughter, more pudgy toddler hands, more first big moments, more "push me higher, mommy!", more innocent prayers around the kitchen table, more siblings to care for one another in old age, more smore sticks around a campfire, more Johnson & Johnson cheek kissing after bath time, more books read in my lap, more praying that you will know Jesus early and deeply. More, more, more.

 God said He will do His part if I do mine. And I am strangely ready for what comes next. I am strangely ready for you, my fourth child.

Your mom


Anonymous said...

Kelsey this is amazing for you to bring a 4th child into this world. God is simple amazing. Waiting for his patience has made me such a strong person on the inside and out. Struggling to have our 1st is hard but letting the Lord guide me has helped so much through this journey. Your story has inspired me to be the best person I can be before and after I become pregnant. God has lead me to your page, a page of truth, inspiration, emotions, laughter and heartfelt warmth knowing that God is bigger then I will ever imagine. Thank you for sharing this because it has already brought me so much hope. :)

Jillian said...

Love it! All of it! your submission to Brent's leading is admirable and inspiring. Can't wait to see what wonderful things God has in store for your family!

Sue said...

oh Kelsey. Thank you for sharing your joy with us. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us. Thank you for teaching me what God has been trying to teach me for years but I have been willingly throwing up blinders to. Thank you for sharing. Just...thank you.

Torrie said...

Congratulations on your upcoming new arrival! And most of all, thank you for your honesty, real and genuine and full of faith (as always). This child could not be going to a better set of parents!

*carrie* said...

Aww, thanks for sharing. Congrats!