When God hears our plans and laughs – Turning Life’s Surprises Into Wonderful Blessings.
Today is my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday. I am reflecting on this day 12 years ago, when I first realized the pangs in my womb throughout the night were actually the “real thing” contractions, and phoned my doctor in the morning to confirm next steps.I can look back with joy.
My second pregnancy up to that point was living up to all my hopes, prayers and plans. I have learned through my life experiences, that is not always the case.
See, my first pregnancy turned out to be a high-risk pregnancy. Actually, all my pregnancies were.
Our first child was born 9 weeks early, at only 2 lbs 2 oz, delivered by an emergency C-Section after failing a stress test. The cause at the time was “a failure to thrive in utero.” Peanut did not begin to describe the beautiful miracle she was at the time and is today.
Our first days with the marvelous title “Parents” was met with concern, joy, exhilaration, wonder, and a new normal for our budding family. We spent her first 6 weeks of life attending to her needs in the hospital NICU. When she came home she was 4 lbs 6 oz. Later, we discovered that our daughter had a genetic condition that resulted in the lack of sufficient growth hormone. This is likely why she wasn’t growing as fast as other healthy babies in utero.
Today, that tiny nugget is 14 years old. Intelligent, kind, helpful, talented, athletic, still a peanut compared to her classmates, and her little sister, but above all, a survivor beyond all odds.
When our second child was ready to be born, it was the fulfillment of our abundant prayers.
My pregnancy, although considered high risk because of our experience with our first child, went fully to term.
The baby was growing at a healthy rate, and always measured in at an average size. I was determined to experience the joy and pain of a vaginal birth because I felt that experience was denied me the first time around, and also because C-Sections and I have bad blood. That is a story for another time.
Our baby was born 12 hours after that call to the doctor with my mom and husband on either side, each grabbing a leg and all of us pushing her out. The doctor declared our baby was a girl!
I was thrilled to have given our eldest daughter the gift of a sister. They looked her over and declared even better news, she was perfectly healthy, and 6 lbs 8 oz.
Praise God, our prayers were answered, and we could take her home in 2 days.
The Perfect Fit
When life is good to you and all seems to be in a neat little package, it is hard to imagine anything different.
We were lucky, blessed, to have given birth to a healthy “easy” child.
When you are a parent of a special needs child, the road is difficult and often tiring. The road of parenthood is tiring enough without adding the constant attention a special needs child requires, so when our 2nd child was born healthy, and hitting all her developmental milestones with ease, we were grateful beyond measure.
Our family was complete. We all fit very comfortably in the five-seat SUV. “NO SOCCER VAN FOR ME, THANK YOU,” was my declaration from the start.
There is nothing wrong with minivans, by the way, it is just a mental thing for me. I just was not prepared to give up my city girl vibe that easily. Truth is, I am still not ready.
When we went to a restaurant, a table for four fit us just fine. Trips to Six Flags were easy. “You take this one and I’ll ride with this one.” The log flume fits the four of us perfectly.
I thought our life fit just right. Not to mention that my daughters were both the, ahem, “Strong-Willed” type, if you know what I mean. Phew, we had our hands full with just two, believe me.
10 years later
Life was going along great. The usual challenges of raising growing children, girls, in particular, were expected.
The mood swings were particularly challenging, but for the most part, no major complaints, nothing we couldn’t handle.
Work was good. Both my husband and I were advancing in our careers. I was blessed to have a work from home business in direct sales and enjoyed my work immensely. I was there in the morning when my kids went off to school, and also when they came home again.
I could take them to doctors’ appointments, which were still pretty frequent for my eldest child, to lessons, games, practices, recitals, and concerts.
I didn’t miss a thing. My commute was perfect, down the stairs and to the dining room now turned into an office. I honestly could not imagine a different lifestyle.
My husband was thriving in his career as an engineer for a company that allows freedoms and flexibility when needed, and occasional travel, so he was pretty available for the kids too as they were growing up. Life was so good to us, we were grateful. What more could we need?
It’s a New Year and a New Plan
It was a week after the New Year 2016. I was feeling exhausted at a time I should have been revved up about hitting my newly conceived goals, plans and resolutions. Each day instead of getting up, going out, and working, I was crawling into bed.
I thought perhaps the flu was coming on. I didn’t feel sick though, just worn out and I could not keep my eyes open. This wasn’t good.
I had two conferences coming up I needed to prepare for including travel to LA, which I was thoroughly excited about!
Maybe I was just recovering from the holiday travel and coming down from that highly busy season. Still, it was going on the fourth day of this utter exhaustion. I found myself taking naps in the morning.
Why was I taking a two-hour nap in the morning after just having slept for eight hours? This was not like me. “I have an appointment to get to in an hour. I’m not even dressed.
What was going on with me? I haven’t felt this way for 11 years…wait. No. Oh no, no. You have got to be kidding me?”
Passing The Test
I dug around my bathroom cabinet for that spare pregnancy test from the last time my period took too long to show up. This was not unusual as I was irregular from my youth. I checked it was still good and laughed as I took it out.
I was being ridiculous, but I might as well have checked. My only early pregnancy symptoms for all my pregnancies were utter and complete exhaustion.
Well, my friends no sooner than that pee hit the stick, and swept upwards to the fateful indicator, it was positive. The test was positive that I was pregnant.
I was FLABBERGASTED. I laughed out loud from the pure shock. This cannot be, but I knew it was true because the test took NO TIME TO DECIDE, NO SECONDS, no waiting.
It positively turned into a plus sign as soon as the pee reached the indicator.
Shock and Awe
Shock does not begin to describe my feelings. I laughed and laughed and laughed from the pure ridiculousness of my situation.
I was 41 years old, turning 42 in a few months.
My children were twelve and ten and would be turning thirteen and eleven later that summer.
I was done having babies.
I was on to the next phase of my life.
Or so I thought.
We make grandiose plans and God just laughs, and at that point, what else could I do? I just laughed too!
What do I do now? This was not part of the plan.
I called my doctor and explained the test.
She told me that I was pregnant. How could she know?
Well, home pregnancy tests sometimes give a false negative but almost never a false positive. Meaning, if it says it detects the pregnancy hormone, it’s not making it up and I am most surely pregnant.
Oh wow. What now? Well, I would be traveling in the next few days so I had would have to wait almost two weeks to confirm with blood work at the lab.
Never say never
Meanwhile, an hour later that morning, I had an appointment with a coach I was working with.
I was bursting to tell the someone the news, mostly because I was still in shock and awe. I didn’t really know how to take it.
I knew that this was a complete life altering situation. Every facet of our lives would be impacted, from our family dynamic, our work, our home, to our lifestyle. Everything would be altered.
Since it was a complete shock and something we had not prepared or planned for, I didn’t know how to react.
My husband and I were not trying to have another baby, at least, not intentionally. In fact, we were using birth control, so you can imagine my surprise. As I prepared to meet my coach, I ran all these thoughts in my mind. When I tell you I laughed from the irony of it all, I am not joking. I just kept chuckling at myself over and over.
I cannot tell you the number of times I swore to myself and others when they would ask, that we were done having more babies. It had been over ten years after all!
Again, God laughs.
Should I be upset? Should I be overjoyed? I was overwhelmed, bemused and mystified. How could this happen?
Well, I know how it happened, but you know what I mean!
When I finally met my coach, we exchanged greetings. I explained how I was feeling so tired this week and my prompting to take the test, and told her the results.
By God’s grace, she was overjoyed for me. We talked through all the thoughts and concerns I was having, with the result that I walked away from our meeting with a total sense of peace and joy over my new situation.
I would be a mother of three. I was elated and full of wonder. My favorite verse comes from Jeremiah 29:11 “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.” Indeed.
Father of Three
That evening as my family was watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I showed my husband my phone with a collage I had made announcing that he would be a dad of three, and a picture of the pregnancy test.
It sure took him a while for the gears to fall into place. He actually thought it was a joke since we were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary for a few days, as is our tradition. He thought I got the picture of the positive pregnancy test from the internet as a gag.
After we tucked the kids into bed, I showed him the real thing. He was astounded and as I knew he would be, totally elated.
It wasn’t until a few days later when I mentioned that he may have to put his plans for retirement off for another 22 years that the grin slightly faded from his face. But only for a minute.
When God hears our plans and laughs. Lessons learned for a life lived in JOY:
- Hold onto your life plans with an open hand. As much as we would like to think we are, we are actually not in control of many aspects of our lives. Therefore, hold your life, your circumstances and plans with an open hand.
- Be willing to go with the flow. You will experience a lot less stress and be much more easygoing if you are willing to ride the waves of a change in your plans, instead of fighting against them all the time.
- Often what we least expect in life will bring us the most surprising joy! Be open to unexpected surprises and embrace them. They can often lead you to the most incredible treasures and life experiences. The birth of my son and the joy he has brought our family and friends was so unexpected at this time in our lives. Yet, our baby’s life has blessed our entire family with the most wonderful treasures of the spirit.
- Your attitude can mold those around you. If I had a bad attitude about being pregnant or expecting our third child, I could not imagine the impact that would have had on my preteen daughters. Since we were elated to tell them, they were both excited and expectant for their new baby. It has meant many sacrifices and some missed opportunities for them, but they have the bigger picture in mind. They adore their little brother. I am very grateful for that.
- Be willing to be derailed. I could have let being unexpectedly pregnant derail me from my expected life path and goals. In a way, he definitely did. But instead of fighting this and begrudging my new life path, I embraced a new journey that has brought me straight to you.
- Not now, doesn’t necessarily mean not ever. Just because we don’t get what we prayed for in a timely manner, does not mean God is not with us or for us in our journey. There are times when our timing does not match that of our creator who loves us. Be patient and flexible with an attitude of joy.
Remember, we make plans, and God laughs. When life changes unexpectedly, be willing to laugh along too.
“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
Chandra is the chocolate-chip loving mother of 2 teenage girls who started over again with a baby boy in her 40’s! She is the author of The Mom’s Playbook to Conquering Softball Season. She gives other moms the tools they need to prepare their daughters for real life. Her content is centered on helping girls grow up to be well-rounded, equipped, expressive, confident, intelligent, capable, kind and independent.