Baby Love

Kyle almost 18 years ago

“A baby?” I gaped at the nurse in blue scrubs and slid into the chair, almost missing the edge of the seat. My stomach flip-flopped into my throat. I swallowed hard, fighting against the physical push to vomit. 

The last week of bowing over the ceramic toilet seat hadn’t been the flu after all.  

Pregnant? Pregnant? Pregnant? The word spun on repeat, distorting the more times I said it in my head.

I stared at the sign on the wall imploring me to Choose Life. Of course I would choose life—and relinquish mine in the process. Not a choice I would have made had someone asked.

A baby confused the decisions I struggled to make—decisions like staying married to a husband I wasn’t so sure I loved and starting graduate school in the fall. I’d already deferred a year. Would they let me back in if I took off more time?

Running away suddenly became a viable option, but dissolved as fast as it appeared. How did I run from my own body?

The nurse slid a box of tissue across the table. “We’ll write you a prescription for pre-natal vitamins.”

Sweat poured down my back, pooling at the top of the waistband of my gray sweatpants. I patted my eyes with yet another tissue, soaking up the tears that drenched my face, sure the nurse pegged me for single motherhood the way I carried on.

Why would I come here if I wasn’t on the road to unwed motherhood? Married, respectable women had real doctors and didn’t cry when the test came back positive. Married, respectable women ran home to knit booties to give their husbands over a romantic candlelit dinner.

Pat and I were 2,000 miles from home and I hadn’t known where to go. We had no doctors. No family. No friends. So I’d gone to the local pregnancy crisis center—after all, this was a crisis, wasn’t it?  

“Do you need help finding a doctor?” The nurse patted my hand, her fingers warm against my cool, clammy skin.

I needed help with a lot of things—but right now, the need to get out of here and go home and fall apart more completely ruled over all of them.

“I’m fine.” I stumbled over the words. “Just surprised.” I grabbed a few more tissues and forced my body out of the chair. Please stand up, I begged my legs.  

She placed a folder in my hands and squeezed my arm. “Call us. We’re here to help. Whatever you need.”

I was pretty sure no one could help me now. I was having a baby. That wasn’t just going to disappear like the flu.

A mirror hung in the waiting room by the exit door. My face matched the deep gray of my sweatshirt.

For the next few hours, I sat on the floor of our tiny apartment, head on the couch, and cried. I didn’t choose to get pregnant. I didn’t choose to be a mom at twenty-four. I didn’t choose to start a family and give up a career. I worked hard to get into graduate school. Pat gave up his job to move here. This pregnancy—this baby—had not entered into my plans.

And I hated kids. They were loud and whiny and snotty and dirty and everything that made my skin prickle. Babysitting was the worst job I ever held. How could I babysit for eighteen years?

Pat walked in after work and found me still on the floor, head buried in my arms on the couch cushions. Three empty tissue boxes sat next to me.

He rushed over to kneel by my side. Put his hand on my back. “What’s wrong?” Panic laced the edge of his voice.

My head was heavy. My throat ached. I couldn’t form the words, so I pushed the folder toward his hand.

He picked it up. “Choosing life.” Confusion swam in his eyes. “Are you sick? How bad is it?”

“I’m pregnant.” I whispered it like a confession.

Relief fell across his face and he relaxed beside me. “I thought you had cancer.”

No, I didn’t have cancer, but I did have something growing inside me that would alter my life forever.

I cried for the next eight months, certain I would be the worst mother in the world. A mother who didn’t cook or clean. A mother who screwed up the laundry. A mother who didn’t have a nurturing bone in her body.

The night I went into labor, we barely made it to the hospital in time for me to deliver. I was full of anxiety. I wasn’t worried about giving birth in the car, or the pain, or what would happen to my body. I was terrified I’d be the worst mother in the world—a mother who didn’t love her baby.

Thirty minutes later, my doctor—a stand-in for Bill Cosby—set my Kyle in my arms.

I held my breath and waited to hate my son and to wish to be anywhere but here. Instead, an unspeakable joy filled me—invading every crack and crevice of my heart with overwhelming love. Love I could never have imagined.

This wasn’t just any baby. This was my baby. Part of me. Part of Pat. A bond between us forever. This was my son.

Eighteen years ago, I celebrated my first mother’s day. A mother’s day I would have chosen to do without. But God had a better plan. He had the best plan. And that best plan is about to graduate from high school. And I wouldn’t trade one moment of being his mom.

Alek, Kyle, Maddy when they were little

In fact, it worked out so well, I decided to do it again. Twice. With Alek and Maddy, I’m a mother times three. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m still working on the cooking. But I can clean and do laundry and love on my kids right up there with the best moms in the world.

God knew my heart. He knew what I needed. He gave me a gift that I never would have chosen for myself.

What gift has God given you that came unwanted and unsuspected and turned out to be a miracle?

 

 

 

24 Comments

  1. Lori,

    What a beautiful story of motherhood. I loved reading this.

  2. I almost wasn’t able to have children because of medical problems but God blessed me with two. That our life was supposed to be happily-ever-after got blind-sided by life and abusive marriage. We’re now on our own, and slowly, the happily-ever-after is taking shape for us.

    • Lori Freeland |

      That’s a long,hard road to walk. I haven’t been through it but have walked along side some friends who have.

  3. Happy Mother’s Day Lori! What a sweet story of how God changed your heart.

    I’d have to say being “let go” from my job 8 years ago was the gift God gave me. The unexpected result was my career as a writer that followed. It’s definitely had its share of blessings. Not in the way motherhood would have, but in God’s provision for me in so many years of singleness and now in marriage, too.

  4. What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing. I think I am currently living through my unwanted gift! I will tell you when I get to the other side. But as TOUGH as it is right now, I sense that good is just there ahead of me … just out of the light. I just have to have faith to keep stepping along the path!
    Gwynneth

    • Lori Freeland |

      It’s hard to walk through the tunnel–some days more than others. I will be praying for you. Share when you’re ready. I will listen :)

  5. I would have to say that losing the best job I ever had and being declared disabled was a bittersweet blessing from God. The last day I worked, I decided that if I couldn’t work anymore, I was going to follow my dream. I wanted to write my story and I got serious. Now, I am working on my first book, BRUSSELS SPROUTS & LEMONADE: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary Woman. I am starting a new career at 62 and I am happier than ever.

  6. Oh, I love this post! I swore in high school that I would not get married or have children. I felt just like you did: “Babysitting was the worst job I ever held. How could I babysit for eighteen years?” Then my nephew was born, and I realized that I liked that particular kid. In the sea of irritating children, that certain one – related to me through my sister -was okay.

    Over time, God worked on me more, and I have now been married for 19 years, have two marvelous sons, and even spent some time running a preschool and then doing children’s ministry. How the mighty have fallen! Actually, God’s plan was way better than mine.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. Christy Saenz |

    Awww Lori, I loved reading this. I’ve always thought you were among the MOST natural, warm, nurturing mamas I know. Funny how God is so much better at making families & lives) than we are.

  8. The timing for our first was totally God’s and not ours. Humanly speaking it was the worst time anyone would have chosen. But God’s timing was exactly right. We have 3 children now. Plenty of challenges, especially with our middle daughter and mitochondrial disease. But, God is the Author of life, and He is always right.

    • Lori Freeland |

      My oldest son–the one in this post–was diagnosed with leukemia right before his 11th birthday. Lots of pain. Much blessing.

  9. Lori, it is simply amazing to me that the very thing I’ve admired most about your mothering–your beautiful ability to put aside the daily tasks and personal endeavors that most of us think are SO important to spend time loving on your kids and have fun–was something you didn’t think you had the capacity for. I’ve always wished to be more like you in that regard. You’re an awesome mom! And congratulations on getting your first baby graduated! Kyle is a great young man with a tender heart–a testament to his Momma’s love.

  10. Claire L. Fishback |

    When I reached the part where the doctor put Kyle in your arms, I broke out in goosebumps. What a beautiful story. So heartfelt and just amazing.

  11. Paula Boire |

    What a lovely story and you write so well!

  12. well,i am right now in a place where many women were before they were mothers-scared of pregnancy.the fear is not at all getting better inspite of being a 30 year old married woman to the same wonderful guy for eight years.

    But i LOOOOOOVVVEEEE children,and that hurts me deep inside knowing the unknown about my future.

    i loved reading your blog,and maybe one day i will say the same about how wonderful it is to have your own

    • Lori Freeland |

      I know what that place feels like. I had no idea the person I needed to be and I realize now that all those changes were for the good. Just couldn’t see them at the time :) Of course, children aren’t for everyone either. Life is like that, isn’t it? We are all different and we all need different things.

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