Monday, May 18, 2009

Of baby blessings and a lovely "Lady" dressed in blue

Babies have always been a blessing in our home, always.

Five very long and painful years passed between our fourth child to our fifth child's birth. Initially, the stunning news was a deep blow to my head and heart the day I was told there would be no more children and my gynecologist doctor pleaded with me to have a hysterectomy after it was discovered a possibility of ovarian cancer lurked in darkest corners deep within me.

After many months of being keeled over with pain in my abdomen area, suffering from dizzy spells and severe migraine headaches along with other assorted unpleasant symptoms, these all assured myself and one wonderful doctor something was terribly wrong with me. First though, it had become one of those situations where I was required to take charge and insist on both a new doctor and a referral to visit a specialist for further exploration, especially when my own GP from long ago tried to reason with me and tell me it was all in my head. That same day I managed to seek out a new female doctor who assured me I was not looney and immediately sent me rushing forward to trek over to the lab for blood tests, have a cardio test while I was there, and then secured an emergency visit to a referred specialist later that same afternoon. It all happened so fast, I have to admit I was scared to bits.

The gynecologist's first suggestion was for me to endure an outpatient operation of D&C followed by a laperoscopy to explore my uterus and ovaries, which I did. Oh the joy of it all when looking back. We were packing to move from our home just a few days after my recovery.

For five long years I refused to slip under the knife of my very well-meaning gynecologist. For those five long years, together she and I attempted to rectify what was wrong, why things were as they were after the findings proved negative for cancer following three separate "bad" pap tests, and when the ritual of daily charting first thing in the morning before my actual day began became "normal". She prescribed many hormonal drug solutions to balance me out naturally to no avail. Frustration reigned high for quite some time. I actually hated it all; the charts, the doctor visits, the anxiety and the waste of time away from family. Or was it?

Anyone else in my shoes would likely have thrown in the towel and been simply content with already having four beautiful children; two girls and two boys who were healthy, loving and incredibly cherished. In my mind however, I couldn't rest, and never wished to block out future possibilities for more children no matter how grim it all began to appear year after year. I couldn't help but feel God's leading to 'something else' as days passed by.

Eventually I did begin to feel a true sense of peace about everything and never allowed myself to fall victim to living in denial of my situation. Heck, the charting proved to the doctor and I there was no ovulation happening, and rarely was one month normal for the most part all the way through those years as it had been before. It was evident to me no more babies would come, but still it never felt right for a grand finale agreement to succumb to the knife in some hospital's surgical ward.

Finally, after many days of not feeling well again during the fall of 1990, weeks of yet another lousy batch of not feeling optimal, upon my next follow-up appointment I opted to just fess up the crazy symptoms and feared what may be in store for me while doing so. I could only stare my doctor in the eye with utmost brevity and began to explain all of my newest symptoms to her. I surprised myself when I could barely contain my emotions at times during our conversation, tears of great anxiety surfacing to sting my eyes when reeling and thinking how dumb what I was detailing sounded, almost similar to pregnancy symptoms, or was I sick again. gulp

As professional as my sweet gynecologist was, she never once batted an eyelash and encouraged me to continue. She was gentile and comforting to me, not ever doubting me on anything I had explained to her. In her ever professional mannerism, she spoke in smooth tones while taking notes, and then promptly requested that I head to the washroom to rule out a possible pregnancy. Feeling floor-dropping shock leaving its wake in my quivering heart, I remember how I gawked at her thinking she was slightly crazy just like me to be exploring similar possibilities to my own thoughts, that it was all a crazy dream to even surmise such things after a long and hard road to recovery health wise. She never once belittled me or made me feel silly. Of course I wasn't expecting to be pregnant, rather it would be great just to be assured and comforted over the recent symptoms and unwellness I had been feeling. I dried my teary cheeks and headed to the washroom as directed feeling like this was just the beginning of something really terribly wrong with me, like the return of the big "C" word again.

With the pregnancy test behind me, and upon my return to her office, my doctor distracted me by perusing my charting papers for the past month and continued through our usual ritual together as per all the other appointments during months and years past.

A knock at the door alerted us to her nurse awaiting her approval for interrupting our time together. She was carrying a small notepad with the results scribbled on it and the colored stick resting on top of it. I braced myself for the expected negative response to come and attempted a brave front for what other assorted tests might come instead.

For a few seconds my doctor seemed to hesitate, and then placed the notepad on her lap. She surprised me by closing her eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again to glance up at me. Her stare seemed to pierce right into the deepest recesses of my soul. I felt myself begin to tremble over what it could be, and it was then she reiterated to me the fact as per our usual sessions, and according to my recent charting, I had not been ovulating at all since the last time we met. She continued on by verbally reviewing my case with me for the umpteenth time. Still she had not told me the results of the test though. I felt strange by the way she was reacting and wondered what was going on.

Nodding to her that I understood this whole thing was crazy, she didn't flinch. I'll never forget what happened next. I took a double take when I realized her eyes had begun to well up with misty tears and then she squealed out with a shout of happy congratulations to me on my confirmed and definite "miracle" pregnancy that defied all odds and all medical evidence to conception possibilities.

I was pregnant! Oh my gosh! I really was pregnant!

I remember staring back at her reeling in shock, and began to cry myself as I tried to comprehend what she was telling me. Cry I did - a lot! I couldn't speak - not one word. She leaned over and offered a warm and sincere hug, and then gave me a moment to compose myself just as she had to do. Shortly afterward, I left her office for the last time, the first time in almost five years where I wasn't once again reminded of the fact there would never be another baby in our lives, and the usual repetition for me to consider having the operation once and for all to end the medical issues at hand. Funny thing, after this pregnancy I was never sick with similar health issues again.

In my heart I always knew more children would come and indeed for this "miracle" child I had prayed. During my pregnancy however I continued to have fearful moments that perhaps they just never found out what was really wrong with me and in my vulnerable state I had hoped never to receive a telephone call announcing this was a mistake, all a dream.

Of course that never happened and a dear friend offered me great comfort by blessing me with a personal prayer card inscribed with the lovely words of the "Memorare" written on it, a prayer I loved and soon repeated over and over again during the entire pregnancy and labor with this child. It was a favorite then as it is now. Who else could understand my motherly instincts but Mary.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy aid or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee
O virgin of virgins, my mother
To thee I come, before Thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful:
O Mother of the Word incarnate
despise not my petitions, but in Thy clemency
hear and answer me. Amen

My pregnancy was not an easy one, filled with additional outside stressors threatening to rob me of the joy of another babe on the way after five long years, but we battled those one by one - and won.

Joy filled my heart in more ways than I can dare to explain, and as all our babies were not born around their due dates, so too was this one late. Another posterior wee one did not wish to arrive on time leaving a labor induction awaiting at the end, but still he took his sweet time to introduce himself to our family. Little did I know then how exciting it soon became when we realized this child had been holding out for eight days and was going to be born on the feast of 'Our Lady of Fatima', a very special feast day and a formidable ending to the love of "one lovely lady dressed in blue" mentioned within my favorite prayer called; "The Memorare".

Not only was I amazed and blessed over how the Memorare had touched my life with a deep inner peace filling me up and surpassing all understanding, I was given yet another reminder of Our Lady filling me with sweetness on this special feast day as my "miracle" baby rested tenderly in my arms shortly after his difficult birth at 4am on May 13th.

In the still of the night when darkness surrounded me soon after all of the hubbub disappeared from the room, and only hushed tones were heard far off in the distance, rather than fall into a deep slumber from exhaustion, I quickly became filled with an overwhelming sense and a strong desire to tiptoe out of my bed (crazy I know), with my brand new, fresh from heaven babe in my arms, and began to shuffle slowly to where the soft moonlight was shining through the window and spilling onto the floor at the foot of my bed.

Happy tears were involuntarily dripping down my cheeks when I reached that moonlit window, and it was there I held my new baby boy tightly and began slowly lifting him up quite high to the heaven's above, offering complete and utter thanksgiving for this special child, asking God to keep him under his mantle all through his life.

I had a most memorable conversation with my Lord and my God in those wee hours of that new morning, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima while gazing at my baby's sleeping face. I knew I would never, ever forget this day. Every year since, I recall it as fresh as it was the very day he was born. For this child I prayed, and for this child we had much to be thankful for.

May 13th, 1991
Feast day of "Our Lady of Fatima"

“As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.”

~ Ecclesiastes 11:5

Like music to our ears, our "Miracle Baby" cries
mightily during our family photo following his birth.

We so enjoyed this child, just like we enjoyed all of the other children we had been blessed with, and funny thing was when I just wasn't feeling quite right after he had reached the tender age of ten months, another visit to the doctor sent us wild again when it was announced I was already ten weeks pregnant with ANOTHER baby, a girl this time to tie the children at three girls and three boys.

If there is one piece of advice I can offer any woman, it would be to never take your womb for granted. Just as God can open it, he can close it for reasons only known to him.

Time passed. We were loving our new little "twins" born just seventeen months apart and chuckled over God's fun sense of humor as we all adjusted to those crazy years. And then, as fast as it all happened, another difficult lesson in patience came to visit with a subsequent similar five year wait... until, not one new babe but two more - eighteen months apart were soon born. :-)

Mysterious ways are hard to comprehend. We've been blessed with mystery in our lives for the past 32 years since our first child was born. Mystery continues with unexplained medical issues for my husband. Truly in my heart though, I believe God had plans for us to remain open to new life and I have no regrets, zip zero in fact, over following my gut instinct and absolute refusal over not having that hysterectomy all those years ago. Pinch me for we have been blessed with eight fantastic children; four girls and four boys - all born inside of a twenty-two year timing span. What a joy! What a blessing! What a gift!

This year I was away a few days prior to this "miracle" child's birthday, but my flight landed in the afternoon on May 13th, just in time to arrive for the dinner hour and watch our son blow out his candles. Every year since his birth, I count my many, many blessings as I revisit those hard knock lessons reflected upon and recall my deepest inner emotions when it was announced to me; "You are pregnant!".

For this child did I pray, and the Lord hath
granted me my petition, which I asked of him.
~ 1 Samuel 1:27

Happy 18th Birthday to my Sunny Son!

Every bit of baby news around here is like music to our ears, whether from another family member, family friends or from folks out in the wonderful cyber blogging world.

We ourselves are expecting another grandchild, and have heard many announcements for more sweet babes on the way. God bless you all during your pregnancies and may you be continually reminded to never take for granted the incredible and priceless gift growing within you.