I sat at the kitchen table decorated with green and red, messy from remaining breakfast and the odd craft project with my laptop in front of me. I positioned myself with my back to the sliding door so I could take in the sights and sounds of the house and my beloved people. We were all in waiting.
My mom, who’d arrived a few days before to help when he arrived, and my 2 1/2 year old Barley, so excited to be a big brother, were passing the time by making gingerbread together. I took pictures of their happiness.
We were happy and playful that day. It felt like a real Christmas Vacation day when you are a kid and it is so fun to be at home from school and yet you’re just kind of wandering around wondering how to make the best of all this time. There is one picture burned in my mind when both kids stuffed their bellies full of their animals and my mom took a profile picture of the three of us. My belly was huge. Our smiles were huge, that day before everything changed.
Mid-morning Fisher had hiccups, as he had nearly every day before. We felt his in those moments, having no idea it would be the last time. Barley’s little hands moved below my big belly, my mom’s on top and mine guided each of theirs to the subtle bumps like a blind person adeptly passing fingers across braille words. I knew just where to press to feel his little back for thumps, I knew him, inside and out.
Often his hiccups and kicks came at night, or that is when I was most aware of them. I remember cuddling in my big queen bed with my little 4 1/2 year old girl Bug, her hands and head taking in the wonder of this little life inside me. I remember the awe in her eyes, the smile on her face, explaining once again how it all worked. She was going to be at the birth; she wanted to see him come out.
I was sitting at the kitchen table ordering a custom made stamp of his name for his baby announcement. I’d gathered gray blue-green paper with clay colored stars, a stamp that said “Joy” and a silver star brad to hold his picture over red paper. It was going to be a play on a Christmas theme, this son who was suppose to be born in the season of remembering our Savior’s birth. I poured over fonts, this one or that one, measured out size and visualized placement. I am a thoughtful decision maker, some, my husband mainly, would say slow. I finalized the sale just in time to take a shower before my OB appointment.
It was late afternoon and snow was starting to fall in Seattle. A hot shower felt good.
While Scott took his shower we had those few stolen moments to talk that parents of toddlers have. “When do you think this baby is going to come?” he said.
“I just don’t feel like he is going to, well not today” I said, “but I want to bring my bag for the hospital to this appointment though, just in case.”
In all my three pregnancies, I had never brought my bag of things to an OB appointment before. In the steamy warm room I wiggled my naked round belly dancing around on the soft white bath mat. “Maybe I can wiggle this baby out of me!”
We both laughed at how funny I looked. How audacious of me to be so silly! I often remember that last carefree moment.
I put a few more necessary things in my suitcase; a second outfit for Fisher, an extra blanket, two more cozy pairs of socks for me and a few toiletries. It made us a few minutes late getting out the door, but I was determined to bring these things along, again, just in case. Scott wouldn’t take my advice and left his things at home, he thought I was being overly prepared but obliged the “crazy pregnant lady notions.” I like to be prepared for things.
The kids were napping and since my mom was here to watch them we let them stay sleeping. We thought we might even grab a warm drink and a little time together after the appointment. There is a Starbucks below the OB office and I fondly remember going there after many of my appointments with our first baby, when it was just us and we could do things like that, linger over a conversation and hang in the lull of anticipation without any little ones with needs at our feet or to quickly return to at home.
We’d been bringing the kids to all the appointments, getting them used to the idea of a new baby in any way we could. They loved to hear the heartbeat on the doppler. Thank God they were sleeping and that my mom was here. Thank God.
The falling snow compounded our lateness as the traffic was not moving near our house. I was anxious to get there and knew it was my fault we were late. We re-routed ourselves and headed through downtown Seattle, where it wasn’t moving much faster. I called my office to tell them how late we were running and offered to reschedule. “No, just come in” the receptionist said “if you can get here in 20 minutes Dr. B will see you as her last patient.”
The last patient of the day meant the other pregnant women would mostly be gone. That was a gift from God too.
These small bits of provision on this most horrible of days gave me hope that Someone, a loving God whom I don’t fully understand or know how He works and wish above all else He had spared my son, but still, a loving God was taking care of me in all this. In so many profound and often unexplainable ways, I was cared for.