Actually, I totally can. I remember all those years in a house full of boys, times when I felt very much alone in my home of males — and plenty of times when I knew it was something very special to be the mom of so many boys. By the time we had Henry, our fifth son, I had embraced the unique and wonderful vocation of Mom of Boys, the notable charge of raising tomorrow’s men.
When Isabel came along, I had become very much at peace with never having a daughter. It’s not that I didn’t want one, but after so many boys, I had to acknowledge that it might not happen. I knew other women raising boys — and lots of them — and I loved being part of this adventurous club.
My pregnancy with Henry (and Augie five years prior) involved lots of bed rest and other physical challenges that made Paul and I feel like life with five children was The Plan. In other words, we didn’t foresee having another baby because the last two pregnancies had been so challenging for me.
But God has an interesting way of doing business sometimes, and His Ways (I’m happy to report) are not always mine. When we found out baby number six was “unexpectedly” on the way, I was terrified and emotional. I second-guessed God’s wisdom in allowing this to happen, I felt abandoned and undone.
Hormones can make you a little crazy, it seems.
Here are my memories of that time, of finding out we were having another baby: I can’t do this. This isn’t part of the plan. The last pregnancy was too much. We have five boys, what else can I handle? My body is going to give out. My mind might possibly as well.
In the grand scheme of things, these feelings lasted about four days. But it was an intense time, those four days. It’s a lot to deal with, the shift in perspective. One minute you are training for a half-marathon and managing your five sons, and the next you’ve thrown on the emergency brake and come screeching to stop.
It’s like the comedian Jim Gaffigan said: you want to know what it’s like to have a fourth baby? Find someone who is drowning, and throw them a baby.
That was me. I was preparing not just to add another baby to an already crazy plate — but to spend the next nine months watching my body slowly fall apart. That was my plan.
But lo and behold, that pregnancy — baby number six — was the easiest, most peaceful one of them all. None of the previous issues surfaced, it was smooth sailing the entire time.
And then, after that, the most beautiful thing happened. We had a daughter. Which I did not see coming.
But even better than that (if you can believe it!) is that in the midst of that season, of having a sixth baby, woah!, I finally learned to abandon myself and my plans to God. It’s not that I realized you get what you want (a daughter, after five sons!) but that in that beautiful, totally challenging season of having two small children while trying to keep up with four bigger boys, I stopped trying to do anything but what was directly in front of my face.
In that season after having Isabel, it was intense and overwhelming. But there was grace. The grace came from realizing that none of my worth came from what I did — it was in who I am. Not in my accomplishments or my service or even in my role as wife and mother. My worth was from being God’s creation — God made me, and he delights in me. And that is enough.
And here we are, five years later, and our sweet Isabel is getting bigger. I’m so grateful God didn’t limit me to my own plans for my life, I’m so humbled that he knew I could handle another sweet soul to love.
This originally appeared in The Southern Cross