Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to Melissa who’s kicking off our month-long Special Mamas series with a guest post about her unique journey through motherhood, including infertility, unexpected medical issues, depression, foster care and adoption. I so appreciate the way Melissa shares her story with authenticity and heart. It brought tears to my eyes when I added pictures and let it all sink in. I hope Melissa’s story moves you as much as it did me. Enjoy, friends.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I had plans. As a 19-year-old newlywed, I planned for a big family and believed I had control over how and when that would happen. In my mind, we would have four kids in five years. I would deliver them all naturally and breastfeed for at least a year. I would love being a mama. It was just that simple.
I found myself seeking fertility treatment at age 21. My first pregnancy came with hypertension, frequent unexplained bleeding and weeks of bedrest. Our first daughter was born at 38 weeks; she was delivered by emergency C-section under general anesthesia, and was taken immediately to Children’s Hospital on a helicopter. She had a condition called Vasa Previa that caused her to bleed out when they broke my bag of waters. She spent weeks in the hospital and came home with a gastrostomy tube for feedings. NOT what I had planned. I had the “baby blues” for about three months, but seemed to recover quickly.
We tried two years for baby number two. A new infertility doctor told us they weren’t sure why, but without intervention we would not have more children. More drugs, more negative tests, a pregnancy that ended at six weeks in miscarriage. We sought a new infertility clinic only to find out at my initial visit that I was already pregnant again and HCG levels were looking great. We planned for an elective C-section. Our first son was born at 37 weeks, two full weeks before the scheduled date. We named him after the two doctors who helped bring his big sister into the world. Our precious little man had “wet lungs” from being early and born via C-section. After two days in the level two nursery of our little hospital, he was transferred to Children’s Hospital by helicopter. He spent six days in the NICU. NOT what I had planned, but this time I got to take home a healthy, nursing baby. The blues seemed to last a little longer this time, more like six months, but I had my old self back after that.
Fast forward not quite two years, and I’d told everyone who asked that two is the perfect number of kids as our son was “three hands full.” I really thought we were done. After all, it took medical intervention to get both of our kids. One day in September, I realized I was late, like five days late! Sure enough, I was pregnant. NOT what I had planned. It took only moments for me to love the baby growing inside me, even though I thought I had all I could handle. God knows what I need much better than I do. This pregnancy was the easiest by far. Our second daughter was born at 39 weeks on her scheduled C-section date, weighing a lucky 7 pounds 7 ounces. I left recovery after about 90 minutes and was handed a healthy baby who nursed like a champ from the first attempt. This was more like what I had planned.
What I didn’t plan was to struggle so hard as a mama. Our third child was 16 months old and I felt like a shadow in my own life. I could smile when other people were around, but didn’t really feel anything. I loved my kids, but didn’t want to get out of bed. I loved my husband, but didn’t want to be touched or talked to. I have always been a “doer.” I like to be busy, and suddenly I was sitting on the couch all day. I found myself thinking that if I got in the car and left, everyone would be better off. What was wrong with me? I had all I ever wanted, didn’t I? It was my little sister who told me she thought I might have depression. I made an appointment and talked, cried, took the tests and started medication to treat my clinical depression. NOT what I had planned at all.
Time moved on and I stabilized. I prayed daily to feel. I cried when I was happy, sad, or moved by a song. I laughed and meant it. I smiled and it was genuine. I was grateful for every day. Our family of five was awesome, and we began thinking about adding to the brood. I got pregnant very quickly and miscarried at six weeks. I started working for Just Between Friends a few weeks a year. I loved my job! I got pregnant again one year later, but found out at eight weeks that it was ectopic. It took six weeks to miscarry. The tears felt like they would never stop. There was a giant hole in my heart. My husband said he didn’t think we should try for any more, he didn’t want to see me hurt like that again. Still, I was grateful to feel.
I prayed for God to give me the desire I felt He put in my heart, the desire to fill my home with children. The answer I got is WAIT ON ME, TRUST ME. Remember those words from Jeremiah 29:11. I accepted a position as a teacher’s aide at a local preschool. I had 40 students to love on. The hole didn’t seem so big. I let go of all the baby stuff I’d been keeping, spent the “baby fund” on a pop-up camper and enjoyed the three gifts we’d been given to love. I started to understand that I can plan all I want, but my life is not my own. God is in control. So I stopped planning and started living. It seems that’s what God was waiting for.
We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and I still prayed daily for God to take away the desire for more children or fill the hole in my heart. I was awed and amazed that He chose to give us two more to love. The Twinkies, as we call them, came to us most unexpectedly. My dear friend, Stacy, was fostering a set of boy/girl twins and was planning to adopt them should they need a permanent home. With three kids under four, it was clear it would be too much to take on two more. We had considered foster care in the past, and decided after meeting these sweet babies that we would give it a try. Within three months, our foster care license was in process and the Twinkies were placed in our home. More than a year has passed since we first met the Twinkies. We have been their parents for ten months now. We pray the adoption will be finalized before the end of 2015. Our house is loud, our van is full and my cup overflows.
I had planned for four kids in five years. God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us five kids in 15 years. I am overwhelmed with joy that my life has not gone as I had planned.
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 13 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!