The Dare to Hope for a Fourth

The story of how our fourth child has come to be is a wonderful one, filled with prayer and expectation, disappointment and faith.  We had been happy with our family of five for four-and-a-half years. Until suddenly, a seed was planted in both my husband and I that started with the idea of a baby waiting to be born to us and grew into a strong feeling that our family wasn’t yet complete.  We decided to begin trying to get pregnant, knowing that we better be prepared to welcome a baby in about nine months.  We had gotten pregnant as soon as we began trying with each of our other three children.  I never imagined that I would experience infertility with a fourth.  However, I was about to ride that rollercoaster of emotion firsthand.

I had seen the heartache of friends and family members who desperately wanted a baby and could not conceive.  Some went the way of fertility specialists and were blessed with one or more babies.  Some decided it wasn’t meant to be for them and accepted their family the way it was.  I could sympathize with them, but didn’t personally know the pain.

That first month, I was careful about what I ate and drank, sure I was already pregnant. However, I felt the disappointment and surprise when it was confirmed that I wasn’t.  I decided it would happen the next month then, since it had taken two months to become pregnant with our third. My period was a few days late, but a negative pregnancy test told me that it hadn’t happened yet.  It went on and on like that for months. Finally, we decided that it wasn’t going to happen for us and we counted all the reasons it was good that our family would be staying the same.  We gave up trying.  It wasn’t that we had changed our minds. I would see pregnant women at the store, or see moms holding their newborns and feel the sadness.  I was just tired of going through all of the emotions each month. If we quit trying, I wouldn’t have to experience the hope and the disappointment over and over again.

However it wasn’t long after that the desire to try again returned. I knew that if I told my husband, he would go along with it even if just for my sake. So I devised a test. I prayed that if we were to try again my husband would approach me. We had made the decision that we were done trying, so if he approached me about it, I would know for sure that we should continue to try.  One morning, not long after, as soon as he woke up, the first thing my husband said to me was, “I think we should try to get pregnant again.”

Surely this time we would get pregnant. It was confirmed that we should continue trying. However, once again, test after test yelled at me that I wasn’t carrying the life we all longed to welcome into our family.  During this time my sweet children would tell me that they wanted me to have a baby, that they wanted another sibling.  How was I to approach this with them? I told them that we would have to wait and see, but that Mommy may never have another baby.  My faith that it was going to happen had waned.

For almost two years this same pattern would continue.  Let’s keep trying. . .are we pregnant.. .dare I imagine another baby in our family. . .it isn’t going to happen, we should be content with the kids we have. . .could it still happen, possibly. . .

One of the worst parts about it was that I didn’t feel like I could share all of this with anyone.  I had had people comment about “how many kids [we] were going to have,” when I was pregnant with my third. Surely, people would think I was selfish and ridiculous for being so upset about not conceiving a fourth.  Wouldn’t they think I had no right to be so depressed about it when other people struggled just to have one?  I certainly couldn’t talk to my friends who hadn’t been able to have a second or third.  They would think me insensitive.  I struggled for the most part alone.  Most people didn’t even know the desire for a fourth child was there.  All I can say is that when your heart is longing for a baby, when you feel like your family isn’t quite complete, when you know the blessing you are missing out on because you already have some of those blessings in your life, it doesn’t matter if it is your first or fourth, the heartache is still real and present.

I had given it a timetable.  We were getting older and if I didn’t conceive by September of that year, my husband was going to get a vasectomy so I wouldn’t have a surprise pregnancy five or ten years down the road when it would become dangerous for myself and the baby.  I wasn’t pregnant by that date. However, after a talk with a wise friend of mine, I remembered that things don’t have to happen in my time. I didn’t have to decide when and how things occurred.  That was for God  to decide. I let it go. I had peace that what was supposed to happen would. I was pregnant the next month: October.

We welcomed our new baby in July, with his own unique story of how he came to be. His name means “Honor to God.” There was so much excitement in our house. There has also been so much thankfulness.  We know that he is a blessing that almost wasn’t.  That in a way makes us even more appreciative that he has joined our family.  It’s funny, when people find out that there are seven years between our new baby and our last, they assume he was a surprise, some ask if he was an “oops,” if we wanted him. If I had the time to tell them, I would share my story, the story of the heartache at thinking he would never be, and the disbelief and exuberant joy at knowing he was, but instead I say, “No, he wasn’t an accident.  He was very much wanted and planned for.”

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