Luke 21:23 (NIV)We celebrated our eleventh anniversary two weeks ago. After just doing some quick math, I determined Kristie has spent 60 months — five whole years — as a pregnant woman and nursing mother. And of course that’s an “and counting” figure. If the fourth child nurses as long as the third did, it might be (no exaggeration here) April 2015 before we close the book on this particular chapter. By that time Jack would nearly be done with fifth grade.
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
Yet despite having been pregnant three times already, Kristie has never had a fall baby. She’s not a big fan of summer anyway, and she is especially not looking forward to the heat of July and August in the late second and early third trimester. Already there have been some uncomfortable days, and every time I see her struggle I wish I could do something significant to ease the discomfort.
My mother will always win the prize in this category, having not just carried me past my late July due date into a mid-August birth (I weighed more than 9 pounds at birth) but also carried my twin siblings past the same due date into early August. Each of them exceeded eight pounds. While we know whatever happens this summer can’t possibly be that extreme, it’s still going to be a challenge.
As much as Kristie would like me to take a turn gestating or lactating, it just isn’t going to happen. So I do my absolute best to be supportive and helpful along the way. We both wanted all of these children, but I must acknowledge who is doing the actual work here. They call it labor for a reason.
One of the things we didn’t quite think about before having a second child is the first id’s inability to understand what’s going on with mom. You can teach them a baby is coming and where it is. They can point to it just like they can their own eyes and ears and mouth and nose. They can see the physical change. But they just don’t get how difficult it is to be pregnant.
I mean, I don’t actually understand it myself. But I have a much better grasp on the situation than my kids. I saw my mother endure it once and now four times with my wife, plus a few other family members along the way. On some days, dreadful isn’t a strong enough word. I say this without getting into any of the specific details or challenges, some of which are new even on our fourth journey. And I’ll write even less about what it means to be a nursing mother, but suffice it to say I have absolute and total respect for what my wife has sacrificed for the kids.
There’s no big lesson or deep thought from me here, I just don’t know how many times or ways I can thank my wife for making this family possible. I still feel our ability to be parents is a blessing of God, and my appreciation for this deepens whenever we converse with dear friends who have been unable to be parents for whatever reason, or those for whom adoption is a key part of their life story. We feel lucky beyond words to have these children, and I must give credit to the human person who continues to put herself absolutely last in order to nurture the family we feel called to raise.
Life is an incredible, unequaled gift. My wife is an amazing, passionate mother. I go to sleep tonight feeling blessings heaped upon me, and that’s fairly common these days. Life is good when love is all around.
A prayer for June 22:
Lord, I cannot thank you enough for the gift of my family. My wife, our children, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on — we are truly blessed to have each other. Help me as we await our child’s arrival to teach the older ones how to respect their mother, how to be helpful and to create a happy home for our new arrival. May we always remember what a joy it is simply to be alive, and to live in gratitude for that gift and the one who gives it. Amen.