It’s a Wonderful Life
She wasn’t part of my plan. And for that reason alone, I couldn’t wrap my head around her.
I took the pregnancy test for peace of mind. I knew I wasn’t pregnant…yet I had to make sure. A missed cycle had stirred doubt in my head. That doubt bothered me. I wanted it to go away so I could get on with life.
When the test turned positive, my heart sank. A tsunami of emotions swelled inside me, and while I couldn’t pinpoint every feeling, I could tell that the predominant one was disbelief. No. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening. I don’t want a baby. We’re fine as we are. Go away…
In my head I counseled myself with a few basic facts: You have three children already. You adore them and your husband. You’ve been down this road before. You have a happy home. Why are you so freaked out?
Logistically, I knew this could work because we were already knee-deep into parenting. What I couldn’t accept was what this meant for ME. With my children ages 6, 4, and 2, I was just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was just reclaiming my body after six years of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I was just starting to enjoy my children as little people.
Now I was pregnant again?
It felt like a major setback. We were complete and content as a family of five; never had I sensed a void that only a child could fill.
In fact, whenever I heard of moms I knew getting pregnant with an “oops” fourth baby, my initial thought was, “Good for them, but I’m glad it’s not me.”
Why would God give me a baby but not the desire? What kind of mom could I be to a child I didn’t want?
I’d prayed hard for my first three children. Two required fertility treatments, and the third was a pleasant surprise. I knew I had no reason to complain after being so blessed, but I honestly couldn’t see the good in this pregnancy.
I loved God and trusted Him, but I was convinced He’d made a mistake. He’d chosen the wrong mom to raise this child.
It was an emotionally trying nine months. Looking back, I think I was depressed.
I’m normally optimistic. I can see the bright side of situations and make the best of what I have. But in this pregnancy, a different woman emerged. I like to blame pregnancy hormones, a crashing economy that affected our income, and the fact that our family was crammed into a one-level home with three bedrooms. We were on top of each other, the kids were sleeping doubled up, and I couldn’t walk through the house without tripping on toys. All these things together made me cranky and impatient. The smallest thing could make me cry. When I imagined the future, I saw stress and financial burdens.
How would we swing four weddings, four college tuitions, four ongoing soap operas? Who would be scarred by a lack of attention? Would I ever be free again?
I mothered during the day, but come 7 p.m. every night, I’d change into my pajamas, crawl in bed, and let my husband take over. I’d read a book to escape and go to sleep praying this baby would be the best thing that ever happened to me. I still hadn’t wholeheartedly embraced her. I still felt emotionally detached.
When we found out we were having a girl, my daughters were THRILLED. Everyone was thrilled. Yet even with that love and support, I felt alone. I had a lot of negative notions and emotions to work through with God.
I couldn’t write – which says a lot. For three years writing had been my passion, my sanity saver, and my therapy. But during this pregnancy the fire was gone. I didn’t even care if it came back.
As Camille’s due date approached, I kept expecting my heart to change. I wanted to be in full-throttle mommy mode by her delivery date. But if I’m being honest, I went into my December 23rd induction still doubtful about the good she’d bring. I was more ambivalent than I care to admit.
They say God’s grace comes when you need it, not a moment sooner. I think this best explains how my heart began to thaw only when I saw Camille, heard her cry, and felt the doctor lay her six-pound-nine-ounce body on my chest. As I held her and looked in her angelic eyes, it hit me: I did love her. I loved her passionately, as much as I loved her sisters. I wanted to be her mother. I would protect her, fight for her, and be there for her as long as I’m alive.
I was ready to mother this child. I was ready for a new life together.
It relieved me to know that I’d never doubt my feelings for Camille again. In some ways, I loved her more because I’d doubted. God had proved me wrong, and that really strengthened my faith. I had a feeling that the next time I doubted Him, I’d find it easier to trust His plan.
When our family came in to meet Camille, there were aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. As 25 voices celebrated and doted on my new daughter, I heard someone speak three life-changing words:
“Look – Ella’s crying!”
In that moment, the big epiphany hit me. In that moment, I understood how microscopically and selfishly I’d been looking at Camille’s life.
All along I’d been asking, “How will this affect me? How will this baby change my life?” But seeing Ella’s emotional response to her baby sister – and the joy and pride all over face – revealed how this wasn’t about me…it was about Camille. It was about a baby God deliberately placed in this world to influence my story, the stories of her sisters, and the story of everyone she’d ever meet.
Yes, I’d play an important role as Camille’s mother, but I wouldn’t be the only person she’d change and redefine. In her lifetime she’d impact hundreds – perhaps thousands – of souls who would need precisely what she’s here to offer. How did I miss that before? Could I have accepted her pregnancy sooner if only I’d seen it?
One of my favorite movies is the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. And while I think everyone has some George Bailey in them, I really related to him while I was pregnant with Camille because all I saw were problems. While I wasn’t ready to jump off a bridge like George, I was disillusioned about my life—and the blessings under my nose.
As I later reflected on Camille’s birth and how it transformed me, I kept going back to one line in that movie, the pivotal moment where Clarence the Angel tells George what his absence from the world means:
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many others. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole.”
When I think about the joy I could have missed with Camille, I want to cry. I want to drop down on my knees and THANK GOD for giving us this miracle I didn’t have the foresight to pray for.
What if we’d never heard her giggles, her squeals, her Taylor Swift and Aladdin performances? What if we’d never felt her arms lock around our necks and give us the warmest bear hugs ever?
What if our family had never discovered a mascot to rally around, someone with the energy and sass to make us laugh yet the sweetness to keep us soft? What if we’d never been touched by this angel?
How different would we be as a unit? How different would we be as individuals?
Camille turns 9 this month, and as we prepare to celebrate her birthday, I’m mindful of the many special moments and memories that have led to this point:
The little wonder we brought home Christmas day…
Who immediately stole our hearts…
Whose happy personality would radiate…
Who would fit in seamlessly with our family…
Who would encourage her sisters…
Become the favorite little sister…
Entertain us with dress-up and keep us young at heart…
Wrap everyone around her finger (especially Daddy)…
Bring out motherly instincts….
Add the star to the Christmas tree…
Teach us about love…
Make us proud onstage and off…
And become the best thing that ever happened to our FAMILY.
Rick Warren once said, “There are accidental parents but there are no accidental babies.” When I look at Camille, I see living proof of a God whose plans exceed our comprehension. I understand how faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse, as said by Philip Yancey.
I had a lot of factors in my favor when I got pregnant with Camille – a loving husband, a stable home, a strong faith that celebrated human life, and supportive friends and family. And when I think about my struggle, I wonder how much harder the struggle would be for someone without these factors. My heart goes out to any woman who’s pregnant and not happy about it, especially under tough circumstances.
And if there’s anything I want to pass on, it is HOPE. Hope that God will bless any choice that seeks to honors Him. Hope that what seems terrible and burdensome can take a beautiful turn. Hope that whatever path God is pointing you toward will lead a better place.
To this day, I look at Camille and marvel. I blink back tears of gratitude and happiness that I was chosen to be her mom. God has great plans for Camille, and I look forward to seeing those plans unfold. She’s still my little wonder, shining her light brightly as only a product of heaven can do here on earth.
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Posted by Kari on December 8, 2014
You are brave to be so honest. When we doubt, which we all do at times, we need to trust God’s plan for us. Thank you for sharing your story. It is with hope that you save a life by sharing.