I was asked that question three times last weekend. (Got your attention, didn't I?!) The first time, I was in a doctor's office on Friday morning. The doctor was considering prescribing an antibiotic for a presumed infection, so he asked me the obligatory question about possible pregnancy. The appointment was a last minute thing, so all six children were with me. Yoseph was on my lap, crying and smelling suspicious. Mihret, Boo, and Sunshine were all either pulling toys out of the toybox on the floor, or zooming around the very small room with said toys (sorry if it appalls anyone that I let them play with those toys; it's a survival technique), and Sweet Pea and Tiger were trying to read despite the noisy atmosphere. I'm not confident that this particular Doctor is very understanding of some of our family's choices, so when he asked the question, I just looked around the room, looked back at him for a long moment, and murmured, "no."
The second time, I was in the emergency room later that same night. Nope, it wasn't an infection after all. It was a kidney stone. Ever had one? Let me tell you how it feels. Well...hmmmm....it was like... Okay I don't have a vocabulary of awful enough words to describe the pain. Jim had to put all six kids in our enormous bus of a van and haul us all to the ER. A couple of hours later I was wheeled into a room for a CT scan, and again, the question. (Again, obligatory since I was about to subject my body to harmful rays). This time I just moaned, "noooooooooooo." (I would've said anything to get that scan done and get some more drugs.)
It was the third time that got to me. Sometime Saturday morning (in somewhat of a drug-induced stupor, as I was still dealing with the kidney stone), I had a quiet moment with Tiger. The night before (watching me writhing in pain, driving frantically to the ER where I threw up repeatedly in the waiting room, and then going home to bed while I stayed at the hospital) had been a bit traumatic for the children. I asked Tiger if he had been scared. I was surprised when he said no. (I was scared!) But I was more surprised at what he said next. "I was hoping you were having a baby." (Okay, he didn't exactly ask me if I were pregnant, but it's close enough). This time I was stunned. I was caught off guard. I was feeling quite vulnerable. And as a result I was able to really feel what I hadn't felt the first two times I heard the question. I felt a little sad. I think he knew that I couldn't really be having a baby. But on some level I think he let himself hope. Maybe just because it was a better option than whatever else he might have imagined might be wrong with me. But at least partly because he loves babies. He loves having a "big family." I love that kid. Sunshine came in and admitted that she had hoped the same thing (they both might need to learn a bit about gestation; I'm not being vain, but I do NOT look pregnant!) Sweet, sweet children. I've thought a lot about those comments over the last couple of days. And I know that (as far as I can discern) there are no more pregnancies in my future. I've worked through that a lot, just between me and my Father. But what I really, really realized as I thought about Tiger's comment was that children are a blessing from the Lord. Oh, you've heard that before? I know, I have too. I've read it, I've said it, I've thought I believed it. But let me just tell you that the last six weeks have been HARD. There's a good reason why I haven't posted on this blog since the day we got home! I'll go into all of that another time, but for now let me just say that children are a blessing. All of them. All the time. Because God said so. I am blessed beyond belief by these six, and I was so glad to know, when my heart responded to Tiger's comment, that I really believe what God said. Oh, how I am blessed. Although I truly don't wish I were pregnant, I savored the bittersweet feeling of sadness for a moment because I was glad I could recognize the gift it would be if I were. I am so glad that we stepped out and walked where God led us. And how I hope we never miss an opportunity to do so. Yes, it's been hard, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. And it thrills me to know that Tiger sees the blessing too, and yearns for more. More of God. And yes, even more children. (I wonder how many grandchildren I might have one day?) YES, Lord. Right now Yosie is sound asleep; cuddled up with Tiger in his bottom bunk. And Mihret is in her bed with Sunshine's favorite stuffed animal tucked in beside her. We are not the same family. And yes, it's still hard. It's easy to write sweet platitudes while the house is quiet and everyone but me is sleeping. But...we're not the same family. And I'm thankful.
(One more thing; I cannot tell the whole "kidney stone" story publicly without thanking my precious friend who sat in the ER with me for hours so that Jim could take the kids home to bed. God has blessed me immensely through you again and again. Thank you seems inadequate, but...well, you know!)
I think that was a bit "rambly", but hey...I haven't written anything in 6 weeks! I'll leave you with a picture we took on Easter Sunday. In Ethiopia, one wears traditional clothing on Holy days. Nothing makes a white kid look whiter than standing next to an Ethiopian and wearing African clothing, huh? But seriously, aren't they all so beautiful?