Psalm 33:10-11 (NIV)It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. No, Baby 4 was supposed to arrive like Baby 1 and Baby 3, a more or less traditional labor and delivery process. We figured it would be just like every other time, water breaking in the dark of some weekend night, drive to the hospital and follow orders. Anything less dire than what we experience with Baby 2 — an emergency c-section, a collapsed lung and an ambulance ride to the neonatal intensive care unit — would have been considered a success.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
But that’s not how it’s going to go down. On account of a few medical issues that need not be detailed, and barring a radical change in condition between now and then, Baby 4 is going to enter the world surgically Friday afternoon. I’ve long maintained herding three children going back to April 2004 is not nearly a large enough sample size for us to have experienced every possible parenting scenario, and Baby 4 has proven that to be correct many times already, and his arrival will be an exclamation point.
But having a long-held belief is not the same as actually encountering it in real life. And so I sit here tonight in a position I’ve never occupied, and one I quite frankly never fully anticipated even as evidence mounted it would be inevitable. We’ve been given a time to report to the hospital and, provided things go as is generally the case, it’s fairly easy to map out our next few days. That it coincides with a four-day weekend for the older boys and a long-planned visit from my California sister is an added benefit — we likely couldn’t have planned the whole thing much better.
So why does it feel so weird? Why can I not get my brain around the reality of the situation? I now have enough time, and a deadline, to accomplish the last-minute tasks we need to take care of to be fully ready. I can pick out clothes days in advance for the older boys. No one should have to drop plans at the last minute to shuttle Max to his soccer game or one of the two birthday parties he’s been invited to Saturday afternoon. No midnight phone calls. No waking up Jack to give him the news so he’s not upset in the morning when we’re gone (fool him once, shame on us; fool him twice, swear up and down it won’t happen a third time).
Maybe the other three times there was some comfort in the element of surprise? I know the fact I was watching “Saturday Night Live” when Kristie told me “it’s time” for both Max and Charlie was pure coincidence, but a large part of me expected her to give me the same message last weekend.
There’s just something weird about knowing, and I’m likely never going to be able to fully understand or explain. I know I get twitchy when encountering people who discuss their unborn children by name, and this feels kind of similar. In many ways it’s no different from having a milestone event on the calendar, like a wedding or graduation, but it’s never been off-putting to discuss things like those as certainties. A lot of my perceptions changed the day Max was born, and I’ll probably never see the world the same way.
But we have a date and a time and a place and a name (we’re not telling) and now I have about 36 hours to get ready. I will wash all the dishes and the clothes and pick up as best as possible and transfer car seats and for the love of all things holy take a vacuum to the minivan. We will sit down with Babies 1, 2 and 3 to discuss what’s going to happen over the next couple of days and answer any possible questions. We will go to sleep Thursday knowing it is our last night as a family of five. And by Friday night we’ll have two in diapers, pictures to share and a name to reveal and the long process of recovery from surgery while also caring for the most adorably helpless of creatures.
I’m going to do the best I can to clear my mind, to seek God and to open myself fully that I might have wisdom, strength, patience and peace far beyond my own abilities — whatever I may need to not just get by but to effectively lead my family through the days ahead. We are not alone, and we are blessed with enough family and dear friends to make sure we never feel isolated. And woven through it all is God’s love, uplifting and redeeming. Even when nothing else makes sense, of this I can be sure.
A prayer for October 9:
Lord, I want to surrender myself to you. I need to let go of my worry, fear, anxiety and whatever else might be clouding my heart and mind. I need to make room for peace, for clarity, for strength and patience. As we inch ever closer to the day, the hour, the minute when our family forever changes, I want to be made like new in your eyes. I want to welcome our child into a house filled with laughter and love. And I want all of us to be healthy and safe. Watch over us now and always. Amen.