My four children in the winter of 2005: Kimberly age 13, Greg age 16, Connor age 5, Sheridan age 2
Every journey is directed by road signs. Signs that encourage you by posting how many more miles you need to travel, warn you about dangers you may encounter up ahead, and signs that inform you about where you are in this world. No account of my journeying through motherhood would be complete without the direction I have received from my loving and trustworthy Heavenly Father. You will find His words to me sprinkled in amongst this retelling of my Motherhood Journey.
I was married when I was 20 years old. My husband was in a six year doctoral program so we waited seven years to have our first born son. The pregnancy was a breeze. I craved salmon which, thankfully, was easily located in our Portland, Oregon hometown. The labor was long and arduous. Our pastor came in to the labor room and prayed for a safe delivery.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Fifteen minutes later, Gregory David was born. He was healthy and strong. I, on the other hand, struggled with the physical aftereffects of a long, difficult labor. Mentally, postpartum depression blackened any maternal joy I should have been feeling. This motherhood gig was nothing at all like the way I’d seen motherhood portrayed in our society. Any sweet, cozy moments were marred by fever from my mastitis and pain from the tearing of the tissues in my birth canal. For months after becoming a mother, I was sick, sore, and absolutely convinced that I was not motherhood material.
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
After several therapy sessions, a prescription for anti-depressants, rounds of antibiotics and months of sitz baths, my mind and body gradually healed. I was finally able to love and adore my precious baby boy.
Somehow, although how will always remain a mystery to me, I began to desire another baby. I conceived right away. However, eight weeks after that positive pregnancy test, I buckled over in pain and was rushed to the emergency room. Tests revealed that I was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy where the embryo had not implanted into my uterus, but was growing in one of my fallopian tubes. Surgeons were quickly called in to remove the baby before that fallopian tube burst. A burst fallopian tube could cause my death. Within a half hour of arriving at the emergency room as a pregnant woman, my baby was removed surgically and I was left empty. I have a scar on my abdomen that to this day serves as a reminder of that sweet baby lost.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
The surgeons who repaired my fallopian tube did a miraculous job and I conceived again just three months later. Due to my past ectopic pregnancy, doctors performed an ultrasound immediately to ascertain where the embryo was implanted. I searched the ultrasound technician’s face for some clue as to what she was seeing as she moved the wand across my scarred belly. When her eyes lit up and a smile took over her normally stoic face, tears of joy began to stream down my face. She turned the screen so that I could see my baby girl’s heart beating strong and steady, exactly where it should be.
1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Eight months into my pregnancy, my husband announced to me that he had fallen in love with another woman. He no longer wanted to be married to me and would be moving out of our home into an apartment of his own. He told me this while we were dining out at a Mexican restaurant where the tables were packed in so tightly that my bulging belly rubbed against the table top. My response was visceral. I pushed away from the table and stumbled into the women’s restroom. I pushed open the door to an empty stall and began vomiting. The chips and salsa I’d devoured came up as tears of devastation flowed down. Other concerned women hovered over me. I told them I was fine. I walked to the table, grabbed my purse and walked out to the car by myself.
Psalm 62:7 I rely on God who is my deliverance and my glory; he is my strong rock, and my refuge is in God.
A month later, beautiful Kimberly Paige was born. I worried horribly about her future. How could I, as a single parent, give her all that she needed? As she nursed, I gazed down at her perfection and felt her tiny little fingers grab hold of my index finger. “No worries, precious girl,” I whispered. “I will always be here for you.”
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
The divorce proceedings were horrible. I had a three year old and a newborn. I would sit in my attorney’s office nursing my baby girl while my toddler played with Legos on the floor. My compassionate and knowledgeable attorney drafted a settlement that would protect me and my children. After a year of legal wrangling, I was awarded full custody of my children and enough spousal and child support to sustain my family on my own. I was told that I had “won”, but all I felt was loss. The loss of the dreams I had for my future and the future of my children.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
I lived for seven years as a single parent throwing every bit of my time, energy and resources into my two greatest blessings: Greg and Kimberly. I returned to my hometown of San Diego where my parents helped me care for my kids. My mom came over every morning to take them to school since I had to leave earlier in the morning for my job as a teacher. I spent my days caring for other people’s children and was ridden with guilt when my own loved ones were the last to be picked up from their daycare after a mandatory staff meeting at school had gone on way too long. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated nearly all the time. I was thankful for a family and friends who tangibly loved me and my children by cleaning my house, babysitting, and preparing meals. As the years passed, I became content with my life and embraced single parenting. I spoke to other single parents at conferences and used my circumstances to become an encouragement to many, many other single mothers.
Isaiah 61:3 To all who mourn, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
When Greg was 10 and Kimberly was 7, we were blessed by an amazing man with a huge capacity to love not only me, but my two children, as well. Tony and I were married in a private, simple ceremony. When I was asked, “Do you take this man to be your lawfully married husband?” It was little Kimmy who quickly answered, “I do.” We all laughed aloud and realized that Tony was, indeed, marrying me and my children.
A year after our marriage, we welcomed baby Connor John into our family. He was a roly poly bundle of pure joy. When we brought him home from the hospital, Tony and I laid him on our giant king-sized bed and just gazed at him adoringly. Greg and Kimmy loved their new roles as the big brother and sister. Joy filled our tiny house in San Diego.
Isaiah 51:11 Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
All was so wonderful with our family, that we decided to add one more baby. I became pregnant right away at age 41. My age made me a high-risk pregnancy which enhanced my fears that something would be wrong with this baby. As per high-risk pregnancy procedures, I had an amniocentesis to check on the welfare of the baby. The phone call with the results came early one evening during dinner. I answered the phone and mouthed to my family that it was the nurse with the amnio results. She told me the results and I sank to the floor with tears streaming down my face. My family crowded around me, fearing the worst. They didn’t know then, that I had sunk to the floor with relief and the tears were tears of joy. The amniocentesis revealed that I was carrying a perfectly healthy baby girl!
Sheridan Anne was born surrounded by her big brother and sister. Greg was 14 and Kimmy was 11 – old enough to be in the delivery room for her birth. They were honored with cutting her umbilical cord and were the first ones to hold their baby sister. When we brought her home, Connor instantly covered her with kisses. Sheridan completed our family.
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
That little baby girl turns 12 years old in just a few weeks and will have completed her first year of middle school. Connor just celebrated his 15th birthday and is finishing his freshman year of high school. Kimmy will be 23 this summer and has just completed her first year of graduate school. Greg will be 26 next week. He is now a daddy himself, and my heart is filled with pride as I watch him love his own son.
My four children each hold a special place in my heart. Each one has taught me that I am capable of loving more deeply than I ever thought possible. They are each God’s unique creations traveling in their own unique ways along this journey called life.
Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
I am grateful for the honor of sharing their journeys with them as their mother – forever.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.