All of our children have taught us a valuable lesson , but 12 years ago today our lives changed and we learned what it means to crave the blessing of a child.
Actually, let me go back a little further.
13 years ago Devin decided he really wanted to go back to school and I was totally supportive of the endeavor. He had been working as a respiratory therapist but really wanted to become a physician's assistant. He had applied to schools and decided to attend in Augusta at the Medical College of Georgia. Devin quit work, cashed in retirement to help pay tuition and moved to Augusta (6 hours away) and I dusted off my license as a respiratory therapist and went back to work.
Devin's mom graciously came over and kept the three girls at our house on days when I worked. We saw Devin on Saturdays. It was not perfect, but it was the only way.
Then one day I woke up sick. Morning sickness sick. I was pregnant. Oh my. To say that this was not a fantastic time to be having another baby would be true. We were barely scraping by and life was stressful. I was a little down at the idea of struggling further but then 2 people changed my perspective.
First, when I called my midwife I explained to her our situation. She listened and then she said to me, "This baby will be the best thing that ever happened to you." She was very matter of fact. She was telling me what I needed to hear. She was and still is one of the wisest women I know.
Next, I told Devin. I thought he would be upset, more stressed, planning a vasectomy....
Instead Devin said, " That's great! Don't worry about anything, this will all work out!" He expressed incredible wisdom and faith.
When he came home that Saturday he explained to me that just a few hours before I had called a classmate of his, a friend, had received the bad news that her spouse had cancer. They were a nice couple with two little kids. Devin explained that news of a baby, news of life, was always a reason to be thankful.
That moment changed my perspective forever. I wish I could say that everyone around us felt the same way, but no they did not. We had many who looked at us as irresponsible and rather crazy. It didn't matter though because we KNEW that a blessing was being bestowed upon us.
Willow's birth was a celebrated event at home. Family and friends all gathered and it was a joyous day.
It was quickly dampened, however, when reality set in the next day. Devin was in his clinical rotations and had to leave. I found myself at home with a newborn and three little ones. After a couple of weeks I found myself at home suffering from post partum depression. Looking back I am glad for this struggle. I learned compassion for other women who suffer with PPD, and I discovered who my true friends were. My friend Lisa was a constant and loyal friend for me and she helped me through some really tough times. I also had more empathy when I would get a call from a struggling mom. I was a La Leche League Leader at the time and often took calls from women.
Another result of having Willow was my inability to work. We were now poorer than poor. It was pretty rough but we thankfully had lots of food storage. Eventually we went on Food Stamps. Let's talk about that experience. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be one of *those people*. It was a Providential hand that led me down that road. I learned to accept help and I learned to not be so quick to judge others. It was also a very humbling experience that has shaped my thinking. For 8 months I fed my family with help from the EBT system. The things I learned through that situation is a post all in itself.
When Willow turned 1, Devin graduated. He got a job, moved back home and life was back to normal, except we were different people.
Had Willow not been born we would not have learned valuable lessons about life and grace and forgiveness. We would not be celebrating a sweet girl, who has a strong work ethic and a cheery disposition. She was a gift that we needed and craved, although we could not always see that at the time. Today I look back at those struggles and they seem like a lifetime ago, but the lessons and compassion and love we gained from the experience is still very much with us today.
Thank you Willow. Happy birthday!