“Mom, there is only one thing that bothers me and I am not happy about it,” my ten-year-old son said to me as I went to pick him up after school.
Curious and truly eager to help, I asked immediately, “What is it son? Please tell me.” My mind wandered about quickly from thoughts ranging from being bullied or having a bad day… what could be wrong? My son is not the complaining type, nor does he get upset easily so this was quite surprising to me.
After a while, he spoke up: “Mom, I wish I had a brother to play with.”
I looked at him, shook my head, and said: “My dear son, you have two sisters plus your daddy to play with. I am always here too.”
“My sisters never play with me and my dad is too busy,” he commented.
I was not getting anywhere with this conversation nor was I willing to continue with it. So I asked him about school, his friends and teachers and how his day went.
My two daughters are very close and they share a lot of interests such as reading, talking, and shopping. The younger girl had this fantasy with Barbie dolls and her sister did not really share her passion, probably because she was about four years older and had a personal thrill for reading. They would play together for a short while and then part ways to enjoy their own interests.
My son was the second and middle child; he was flanked by two girls that did not enjoy playing with Game Boys, X-box or PlayStation. My older daughter was blatantly uninterested but the younger girl (my third child), would enter a compromise with my son whereby she would play with his games and in return, he would play Barbie with her! That was the deal or nothing. Smart girl and still is. My dear son was trapped in these Barbie plays that he did not enjoy at all and sometimes had to partake in dressing up acts. He complained to his sister that she only had girl Barbie dolls and that he preferred playing with “boy toys”. Instantly, his sister cut the hair of two of her Barbie dolls and offered them to her brother as “Boy Barbie”. She gave them boy names and suggested that since their hair was short, that they were boys. Next, she bought a Ken doll and made sure her brother had something to play with. When they finish playing their Barbie games, she would then accept to play with him in his own games. This was their routine for years.
My kids each have a two-year gap in between their ages and are quite close. They had always played with each other except when their friends came over or when they visited friends. The night after my son spoke to me about wanting to have a brother; I thought about it and realized that he probably needed more playing time and proper attention.
The phone rang and it was my mom. She is a very caring person and doting about her grand kids. She was another person that was bothering me about my decision of not having more kids and she would carefully ask: “Don’t you think that maybe you should try for another baby? Your son needs a brother!” Her questions were very easy to dismiss because the clear answer was “No!”
Life was great and demanding; work was fulfilling too. I was working for the company I chose; I was well-paid and certainly healthy. I could travel whenever (and wherever) I chose, my kids were in good schools, my finances were quite strong and I was outgoing. I liked to dress well even at home and after three kids, I had worked so hard to maintain a great body. I really liked where and who I was and I would not compromise any of these for any reason.
However, I started noticing that wherever I went there were lots of pregnant women and it seemed like they were following me about. Truly, I did not want to be like one of them. At work, one of my managers became pregnant as well and I wondered why. I was so engrossed in myself that I did not understand how one would want to sacrifice and give up their freedom, especially in my case of three children. The thought of carrying baby bags, feeding bottles, sleepless nights, breast feeding and losing my shape were all repulsive to me.
Fear. I was so afraid that I could die in pregnancy if I ever tried. This fear paralyzed me so much that it controlled my thoughts and actions but I never discussed it with anyone. I was also afraid that I was too old to nurse a baby! I was in my 30’s, but I had all my three kids in my 20’s. I had felt it was best to have kids early until I noticed that my friends were still having babies. A big wake-up call came when I met a very beautiful and happy pregnant woman. She was so excited for her third pregnancy and she was in her 40’s! “What?” I thought to myself. I began re-evaluating my thoughts and realized that the criterion for being a capable and happy mother was not measured by one’s biological age but rather by possessing a stable state of mind.
As a spinster, I had always idealized having four children but they had to be two girls and two boys, then everyone would have a playmate. However, in my present married-with-kids situation, I desired the ideal so long as I did not get pregnant! What of adoption, you may wonder? I did not really pursue that idea. Then something happened and everything changed! My heart started softening and I had to confront my fears and deep desire. In a casual manner, I accepted and approached the idea of having another baby but under my terms, as if I had the power. I decided that since I had two girls, it would only be worth the effort, if the baby was a boy. So I prayed that God should give me a healthy baby boy and also keep me robust. Then, I focused on my plan.
My plan consisted of making sure that I had a baby boy, not that there was anything wrong with a girl, and I started to study books on billings method and search the internet on topics that will help in determining the sex of babies. I even had a boy’s name for the baby. I would call him “Samuel” and people would ask what if it’s a girl? Then, I would call her “Samuela”. I was on a secret mission and I invested time on these efforts. I carried my book all over: from the bus to work, to the office, to home, to my bedroom… everywhere! I committed to reading more on billings method and I tried so hard to understand my readings but it proved impossible. This was a challenge for me because I am quite learned and have so many certifications, so how was it possible that I could not understand a simple context like billings method?
I tried to get pregnant by applying my little knowledge from billings method but for over seven months I was so frustrated. However, I was not willing to give it up yet. After seven months, I decided to schedule a visit to the doctor and possibly a fertility clinic. Just seven months of trying and not getting pregnant? Yes, I know it seemed like a short time but it was like an eternity to me. With the first three kids that I have, getting pregnant was as easy as thinking about and accepting the thought. So I never worried about pregnancy but this one was impossible and out of my control. To me, this was the most important pregnancy because I want a baby boy desperately unlike during the other pregnancies where I did not care about the baby’s sex.
On the day I planned to visit the doctor, the medical clinic was closed so I changed my appointment time. I decided to live my life, be happy and relax. Going forward, I chose to forget some aspects of the billings method and not to dwell so much on the processes. It was very difficult but I tried. Then, I stopped studying the books and I succeeded in putting away those desperate thoughts of wanting to become pregnant. I also stopped checking all the websites on the Internet that wrote about how to determine your baby’s sex. I postponed all the medical appointments and visits. Within that period, we took a short family vacation, where we all had a blast and I ensured there was no computer, billings method book and I blocked all thoughts of pregnancy.
The month went by quickly and I noticed that I had missed my period. Really? I waited for the next month and again nothing. Yes, I was pregnant. I rushed to the Internet and did the calculation to determine the baby’s sex and it indicated that it will be a baby girl! I held on believing otherwise and did not care anymore about the baby’s sex. I returned the books on the billings method back to the library as they were too late to help me anymore. My health was perfect, the pregnancy was free of nausea and I was not weak. Life moved on as usual until the antenatal started and a shocking twist took over.
I’m a normal healthy person and I am thankful that I have not had any serious medical issues. During my pregnancy, at my first ultra sound, they detected a small growth in my uterus. As a result, I was now put on a weekly visit for ultra-sound and check-ups. Each week, the growth would multiply and it continued till the baby could not grow. The doctor stated that the growth was bigger than the baby and it was so dangerously located such that it would be impossible to deliver the baby except through surgery. I had no prior knowledge of such growth in the past because it never bothered me. With this development, I put away fear and increased my faith that the growth would cease and my baby must grow.
Then, a miracle happened! At my fourth visit for ultra-sound, the doctor called me and said that the growth was now shrinking but they had to watch it. The fifth visit came around and the growth had stopped and the baby was now growing. Amen. However, they insisted that I may have to be scheduled for early surgery. I asked the doctor about the option of having the surgery to deliver the baby and at that time, take out the growth. Her overview of the situation and her response was quite discouraging. She insisted that I will have to undergo two surgeries: the first to take (deliver) the baby out and the second, to take the growth out. She also added that “the surgery is going to be very bloody”. I resolved that I would live and I was not going to die from this pregnancy. So I sought for other medical options and second opinions.
Clearly, I had critical decision to make and I was aware of their severity. My choices were to either accept the bloody surgery (with no guarantee of success) or take the option of no surgery and save my life. I sought for another gynecologist, specifically one that would be willing to deliver my baby without surgery and I prayed for such a person to be found. Finally, a family member recommended a specialist whom I sent all my records to, explored my options and discussed my health issues with him. He agreed with me that since I had undergone three prior pregnancies with normal delivery that I could have the fourth one without surgery despite the growth!
Quickly, I informed my original doctor that I would not be available for the delivery and surgery. I changed to the new specialist and he was confident, experienced and was willing to work with me. After series of examinations and tests, he told me that he believed that I could have my baby without surgery however if there was a complication during delivery, he would perform surgery.
My due date was May 28th, 2007. At nine months, I was so big yet strong. At around 8pm, I was injected for the delivery and I also had a failed epidural (my first grueling and last experience). Otherwise, I was well catered for at the hospital and the pains were overall tolerable.
May 29th, 2007. The doctor and his crew were all in the delivery room, the baby was almost out and all the reports were working perfectly, until … 6.30 am and suddenly, the contractions ceased and the reports went flat. The delivery room was so silent that you could hear a pin drop. I watched the doctor as he looked at one of his head nurses and they exchanged some serious, unspoken glances. Five minutes passed and I was still waiting. I knew something was not right but I was not scared rather confident that I would have a safe delivery! Then, the doctor broke the silence and said, “Ok, I will have to vacuum the baby”. I said nothing and then…
May 29th, 2007. … 6.55a.m. Suddenly the baby is delivered, a very loud cry was heard and there was great celebration in the delivery room. The doctor gave me a huge hug and the nurses were joyous too. SAMUEL, my son was born with normal delivery and no surgery! All his tests were instantly carried out, they were all normal and he was such a cutie. My internet sources on baby’s sex failed me and my billings method was not helpful! As I held Samuel in my arm, I was so grateful to be alive and be opportune to behold such an undeserved gift of life.
December 2011. Four and half years later! Samuel is in kindergarten and a perfectly healthy boy. We truly adore him and his siblings believe he is perfect in all ways. Despite the ten years gap between Samuel and my third child, the mix is heavenly. My older son cannot wait to take him for sports and they all play along. The medical growth I had is now history as I have been miraculously healed. I have had absolutely no surgery after the birth of the baby neither have I had the cause of visiting any doctor for pains. The best part is that I do not feel old but I am blessed to host and also be invited for kids’ birthday parties again. Best of all, I maintain a body shape that I only had while I was single. Yes, I dropped to a single dress size from 2XL, after delivery. I am so active now, more involved with events and definitely accomplished. I have become a mature and truly grown mother with a better perspective to the meaning of fulfilled living.
Identified as a gifted child and very mature for his age, Samuel brings so much laughter to our home and everywhere he goes. Recently at his school’s Christmas concert for 2011, he was selected for the role of Santa. He had a simple line but he came out on stage for the first time in his life and spoke with all his might, “Ho, Ho, Ho, merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night”. He was loud and quite expressive that all the audience stood cheering and clapping for him. What a bundle of joy!
A true gift of life is having a true appreciation and reflection for those things we have been so blessed to receive.