“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139: 13-14 NIV
When I was fifteen-years-old and completely frustrated with my two-year-old brother who would not stop walking across my board game, I looked up at the ceiling and yelled, “IF YOU’RE A SMART GOD, YOU WON’T LET ME HAVE CHILDREN!” As a little girl I loved playing house and had many baby dolls but as a teenager, I never liked babysitting, never had patience with small children. That impatience readily increased with having three younger brothers who are 14, 16 and 20 years younger than me.
That all changed in my twenties. First, God moved me into children’s ministry and I fell in love with a fantastic little toddler named, Andrew. He and I spent many evenings in the church nursery watching Muppets while his mom attended whatever class was being offered at the time. That little guy could turn any bad day into a happy one in just a few short moments of silly interactions. In 2001, I quit working at that church and moved out of state. Unfortunately, I have no idea how my toddler buddy has grown up.
When I was twenty-five, during a routine exam, my doctor discovered some health problems that only surgery would fix. The day after my surgery I learned I only had a 50% chance of ever having children. It was at that moment I recalled that exasperated prayer of a selfish 15-year-old girl and I prayed that God didn’t take me seriously then and would gift me with children. Two years later, He gifted me with a beautiful daughter. Twenty-one months after she was born, I gave birth to her baby brother. After that I had two more surgeries that reduced my chance of pregnancy down to 0%.
Every year on my children’s birthdays I tell them the story of how they were born. As unique as their personalities are to this day, so were my pregnancies and subsequently, their births. My son’s was the hardest pregnancy, easiest birth. After complications I suffered birthing my daughter, my only option to birth my son was a scheduled cesarean section. Although it was petrifying to be fully awake during such a major surgery, having no labor pains and delivering a child in a matter of minutes was a tremendous blessing compared to the 13 hours of labor including an hour and a half of pushing to deliver my daughter. His pregnancy was tough-his birth was easy-but life with him has been an adventurous challenge ever since.
My son was colicky at birth. He cried so much that there were days I didn’t even want to come home from work because I knew he was just going to cry and I couldn’t console him. Honestly, I would cry too. I felt guilty and helpless all at the same time. He had stomach issues that led to multiple types of formula changes, food allergy testing at the appropriate age, and even an upper GI. He also bounced between ear and sinus infections for several years. He was on so much antibiotic I worried he would become immune to its effects. If that wasn’t enough he ended up with asthma, severe allergies and hernia surgery by the age of 6. He endured allergy shots for seven years and spent many school days in the office using a nebulizer during croup season. We became frequent flyers to our pediatrician, allergist and the children’s hospital that was two hours away. If his health wasn’t a big enough challenge for him and me, he was also diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5.
ADHD has its own challenges. One of those was determining to medicate or not. We tried both. The first meds he was on he acted like a drug addict coming off a high when the med was wearing off. The second med made him completely indifferent to anything-as if he had no emotions at all. He was pulled off meds and for five years we tried behavior management and naturopathic methods. By fifth grade he was struggling academically, behaviorally and emotionally. With a resistant heart (I am a very anti-pill popping parent) he was put back on an ADHD medication. I praise God this one is working with minimal side effects.
As he enters his final year of childhood and prepares for the teen years, I’ve reflected on how much he’s grown over the past 12 years. In spite of his health hardships and behavioral struggles, my son is one of the toughest and gentlest young men I have the pleasure of knowing. No matter the setback we would experience, he was taught to treat it as his norm and to persevere in spite of it. He has a natural athletic ability hitting pitched baseballs and bumping volleyballs at the age of 3. He is a man’s man kind of boy and loves everything that has to do with being a guy. He even demands to have man soap for showering. He has however been banned from Axe body spray after excessive usage caused major eye burning, choking and a literal evacuation from the house. My favorite thing about him is that his tender heart still loves to snuggle with his momma even though he’s embarrassed if I kiss him in public.
Raising him has changed me. Having a child with ADHD requires patience that I was simply not born with. With God’s grace though I can actually find humor in seeing his pants hanging from my ceiling fan and finding his socks hanging from magnets on the refrigerator when he was supposed to be getting ready for school. On days when he is super high energy, God equips me with added measures of patience as well as creativity to help him burn off his energy in a positive way. Most importantly, raising him has taught me I am not in control-God truly is. I never planned to have my children so close in age, but God did. I never planned to have a son who would have multiple health and behavior issues or to be raising my children as a single parent. But God did. And with each setback, health scare, meltdown, impulsive outburst and hyperactive day, God’s been with us helping us through each one. He has a huge purpose for my son and I know every hardship we’ve endured is making him into the man God made him to be. I pray every day my son will continue to seek God and learn what his purpose is in order to effectively live it out.
Recently I stumbled up a poem I had written years before my children were born. It was actually written during a time when I was on the fence of wanting children. It was entitled, Unconditional Love. These are the words from that poem:
“Although you are not born yet,
The love I feel for you has always existed.
Even though you haven’t been created yet,
I’ve always felt you growing inside of me, inside of my heart.
You’ve always been a part of my life.
When I was a child you were the baby doll I dressed up and played house with.
Now that I am a woman, you are a mystery that will someday be my reality.
You are my child, my son, my daughter…”
Fourteen years ago, that mystery mentioned in my poem became a reality with the birth of my daughter. Twelve years ago, that reality doubled with the birth of my August son.