First, the question mark in the post title is because I know for many, many women - and men - this is a very unhappy Mothers' Day. Some have lost their moms (Aunt Pam, thinking of and praying for you especially!), some had pretty terrible moms (you know who you are, M-Z), some are separated from their moms/children on a holiday that celebrates that relationship (our mothers are included in this group), and some are aching to be mothers but can't conceive or adopt, especially not while living here. Some have experienced pregnancy and adoption loss. Some aren't even married, but they still would love to be a mom, and they feel their biological clock ticking. . . and ticking.
A few of my friends avoid church on Mother's Day because of the whole "Stand up if you're a mom so we can all give a clap of appreciation for you" tradition. While I appreciate so very much the sentiment behind the tradition, it still makes me uncomfortable. I know there are multiple people in the congregation who hurt desperately each Mothers' Day. I used to be one of them. The sharpness of that pain will never be completely forgotten.
In some ways it seems like it would be best if my story didn't have a happy ending, if my longings hadn't been so abundantly fulfilled. Then I'd really be able to talk about trusting God even when suffering is right in our face, invading our deepest spaces. I only have five years of infertility grief and learned trust to refer back to. It seemed endless, especially as all but one of my closest missionary friends had babies. I was surrounded by pregnancy announcements, growing bellies, new little ones, talk of breastfeeding and diaper-changing, and - worst of all - complaints about unplanned pregnancies (albeit acknowledging God's sovereignty).
Cousins and friends back home were also being fruitful and multiplying. And Isaac was getting older . . . without a sibling. But at least I had him, and I was/am unspeakably grateful for him! I couldn't imagine a more amazing, adorable kid. However, my yearning to mother someone still, at a time when he was getting increasingly independent, felt like it would crush me at times. I just didn't want to be done with the baby, toddler, young school-age-kid stages. I wanted to use his toys and his clothes again. But I also wanted to be able to shop for baby girl clothes and dress up a darling daughter. So many yearnings, so little hope of them being fulfilled. So Mothers' Day hurt, even though it "shouldn't" have. I felt like a failure. Who plans to have only one child?? Why couldn't I get pregnant and keep a baby??
And then it happened. And this blog got rolling, because I needed the prayers BIG TIME, my friends! Even though Ephesians 3:20-21 was the first thing that popped into my head in the ultrasonographer's office, in the following days I struggled with more doubt and difficulty trusting my Heavenly Father than I had EVER experienced during infertility.
Knowing you are pregnant with five babies is crazy-scary. First of all, the specialists tell you you'll most likely lose some if not all, then they tell you that you need to "selectively reduce" (i.e. "kill") at least two or three of the fetuses. If you refuse, they say how terrible carrying high-order multiples is for your body (and it really isn't good for your body, obviously), then they list all the horrible things that can go wrong with the babies because they'll be born too early. But you know what? For the first few weeks, the thing that scared me the most, besides losing all of them, was all of them surviving. I just couldn't fathom how we could ever take care of five preemie infants. It was harder than I could have imagined with one normal, full-term baby! And even if we survived the infancy period, how could we provide for five growing children and teenagers? How would we pay for college, for crying out loud??
Besides, how in the world did this even happen, when I was only supposed to have three or four good eggs, ideal for an intra-uterine insemination? Each egg had only about 11% chance of becoming fertilized and implanting, so our chances of conceiving even one child was still less than 50%, statistically. Turns out God isn't limited by statistics. ;o) More importantly, it turns out that Ephesians 3:20 was, and always will be, true, not just regarding the fact that I conceived five children, but that every need for their first 2.5 years of life has been fully provided for out of our Father's infinitely abundant love and perfect wisdom. We know He's not going to stop now (or ever). Every bit of help, every diaper, every meal, every outfit, every piece of baby equipment, every gift card, every dollar, every hour of sleep, everything that we have needed*: it has all been there, and He has done it. He has used so many of you. THANK YOU.
And the quints, Will, David, Marcie, Seth and Gracie? Well, as you already know, they all survived (even Seth!) and are thriving now. We're back on the mission field. Wow. Thank you, Lord Jesus.