All in God’s time
Twelve years ago, I had a miscarriage. It wasn’t my first and, as you will soon see, it wouldn’t be my last.
I felt bad that I hadn’t bonded with the baby, not the way I did with my other kids. I didn’t think about what would be going on the month they were born; how our family would be forever changed. I already had a name, of course. This would be my Clare. Years before, when I popped out one boy after another, I would tell people, “Jenna and Clare are members of the family; they just aren’t here yet.” Well, little Jenna Cat was fourteen months old and so, of course, this would be my Clare.
Except it wasn’t.
Not knowing the gender, I named the baby Francis and told his patron, “I’m naming the baby after you so you will intercede for me to have my Clare.”
It was a brutal miscarriage. I’ll spare you the details except to say the paramedics had to rush me to the hospital and I had a D&C in the middle of the night because I had lost so much blood. I was moments away from a transfusion.
That night as I laid in the hospital, my arms and legs strapped to apparatuses that kept me from developing a blood clot, I thought of my sweet Jenna, who up to that point I was still nursing and how blessed I was to have big sister, Megan, to take care of my baby.
I spent a week in bed. Another month recovering. And although me and St. Francis had a deal, I was so sick I honestly didn’t want any more children. I couldn’t go through that again. Perhaps, I was too old, already having celebrated my fortieth birthday.
But then, I got better.
And, I thought to myself, I don’t want that to be my last pregnancy. I don’t want to end on such a sour note. I decided we would have just one more.
Keep in mind, I didn’t discuss the situation with the father of my children. Following the teachings of the church, we didn’t use birth control. In addition, we didn’t have a grave and serious reason to avoid a pregnancy so Natural Family Planning wasn’t something we practiced either. Just let God be in control.
Time slipped by. Month, after month, after month, and I wasn’t pregnant again. People would often ask, “Are you going to have any more children?” and I would just smile and give the standard answer Ken and I had developed over the years, “We’re open to whatever God wants.” Except I wasn’t…What if God didn’t want me to have another baby? What if Jenna was my last? What if losing Francis really was the note God wanted me to end on? I couldn’t accept that.
I started praying.
I had three perpetual novenas going at the same time. First, I prayed to St. Gerard, the patron of expectant mothers. Next, St. Therese of Lisieux, for she was the ninth child in her family and Clare would be number nine in mine. Lastly, St. Clare of Assisi, of course.
I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, but the more I prayed, the more time that went by and I wasn’t pregnant, the angrier I became. I am embarrassed to say, I was angry with God. How could He not want me to have any more children?
Eventually, Ken and I did talk about it and he understood where I was coming from. Other than him I had no one to talk to. How could I complain about my newfound infertility when I had eight beautiful children? I even had my little princess, Jenna, after all those boys.
Time continued. Jenna turned two. Then she turned two and a half. Then she potty trained herself. After sixteen years of nonstop diapers, I was done. I even asked her, “Jenna, what am I going to do without a baby in the house?” Without skipping a beat, she responded, “Buy me a doggie?” Nice try, kid.
But then I had a moment. A Holy Spirit moment that I shared with my better half. “I think we’re done. This chapter of our lives is over and I’m okay with that.” I finally had the peace I desired.
And then I got pregnant.
Coming up to the room as I was getting ready for Mass Sunday morning, Ken knelt beside me. He was trying to convince me to let us tell the children our happy news before the boys left for St. Michael’s Summer Camp that afternoon. I was just so afraid. He looked at me and said, “We’re having a baby.” I immediately burst out crying, “I HOPE we do!!!” concerned about having another miscarriage. “No,” he corrected, “We have a baby, right now.” I stopped in my tracks and realized he was right. God gave us a baby. I have a baby living inside me right now. All of a sudden, I wiped my tears and realized, I don’t know if this child is going to live for one more day, or one hundred years, but I am this child’s mother and I will do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
A few weeks later I was in the doctor’s office for a routine ultrasound. Six-year-old Luke got to tag along after his dentist appointment. My best friend, Haylee, met me there, bringing along a coloring book and crayons for Luke. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Haylee had never been to an ultrasound with me before. I’m not sure why I invited her to this one. Except God knew that I would need her. Ken was at work. As I mentioned, it was just routine.
The technician and I chatted as she squirted goo onto my belly and fired up the machine. She asked me how many children I had and when I responded, “Eight,” she asked if any of them were twins. “Oh, no, just one at a time,” I exclaimed in a sing-song voice as I smiled. Then, she looked at me dead pan in the eye, “Cause this is twins.”
“What?!?” I reached out for Haylee’s hand, and she gave me a big squeeze. Twins? Seriously?!? How good is God? How utterly wonderful is our Creator? I was ecstatic.
I almost couldn’t keep a straight face as I called Ken and he asked how the baby was. “Oh, they’re fine…” I teased.
The kids were over the moon, especially Megan. We immediately had to come up with Baby B’s name, since, if we had a girl, her name would be Clare. Always loving when twins have special names that link them together, we came up with Callie, named for St. Callistus.
I was deliriously happy and reminisced about the time I babysat for twins and how God was preparing me for this moment!
The doctor had told me I would need an ultrasound each month as it was the only accurate way to check on the babies. In addition, I was of advanced maternal age, so I needed to see a specialist. The new doctor would perform the ultrasounds himself.
Ken was with me this time. The doctor found Baby A right away. Big smiles! But then time stood still as he searched for her womb mate. He looked and looked. I already knew before he found my second child. Baby B had stopped developing, probably around the time I found out of his or her existence. I was still pregnant with twins. I was still the mother of twins. But I would only get to raise one.
Clare Elizabeth Diane was born around 2:30 in the morning on March 22, 2012. She likes to hear the story of how she “swam out of me.” The doctor said the only thing holding her in was the sack of water and after this next contraction he would go ahead and break my water and she would be born. Only Clare had other ideas. The next contraction she broke through and my world has never been the same.
Ten years now and Clare knows she has a special sibling in Heaven. Clare knows she is a miracle. How I could have lost her along with her twin. How I prayed for her-I begged God for her. How I had to wait for her. And how God has a very special plan for her life.