Unexpected Gifts

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, given our history, but it truly was. I’ve kept a little stash of test strips in the medicine cabinet for a few years. They’re expired, but they still answer the big questions when necessary. After being two days late for a cycle, I decided to use one. 

I’d spent over a year trying to make peace with choosing to usher out the childbearing years. At 35, with six children, an even three boys and three girls, it seemed like the best/perfect/logical time to stop having babies, if ever the choice would be made. It came with no small amount of sadness, though. I kept waiting for that sense I hear other women talk about when they “know” they’re done. I didn’t really have peace, but I kept trying to open the door to woo and welcome it in. 

I thought for sure it was a done deal when we bought a new couch and sent some of our old furniture packing—namely the chairs I had rocked all six of my babies in day and night for twelve years. The rental truck was parked out front after transporting the sectional from warehouse to home, so it made sense to gut the house of everything else we didn’t think we’d need before returning the rental truck, donating and dumping what was no longer needed. 

I didn’t even see the chairs get put on the truck, but in a flash, they were gone, and with them—so I assumed—the season of rocking babies like I had been doing for more than a decade. Shabby as they were, those chairs were sentimental for me, and somehow their sudden departure felt like the door clicked shut on these years of welcoming babies into our family.

That’s why when the little red lines appeared on the expired test strip 7 months later, I didn’t know what to think. I’d already made some big plans for this coming year, and I was also more than a little worried that my other half would be annoyed or upset about the news. He wasn’t. As we have done many times before, we held each other, I cried, and we marched forward with profound gratitude for the honor of bearing another child. 

People have a lot of unsolicited opinions and poorly-thought-out responses to couples with larger-than-average families, especially when an already boisterous parade shows up with a mama who once again has a tummy round with life. I’ve navigated this countless times over the years, and while some days the comments roll off without consequence, I felt instantly protective about the early weeks of this pregnancy. I clammed up, and aside from telling a few essential people in our lives, we kept the news to ourselves for a long while. I didn’t share on social media largely because despite all the positivity I expected from some, I also expected an undercurrent of something else I didn’t really want in my world at the time.

I couldn’t handle any jokes (lighthearted or not) about “how this happens”, not when I was feeling profound weight and honor at the prospect of raising still another child. Motherhood is an honor. The first, the fifth, and every time. It’s not the “only” or “best” honor one can have or a role that should be elevated above other holy things like some kind of merit badge, but it is unmistakably an honor to grow and nourish the body and soul of a human person within the womb and beyond. 

Let it be to me according to your word was Mary’s response to the angel who told her she would bear a son. 

This is my whispered prayer as I consider not only the rest of this pregnancy, but the rest of my days on this earth, however many I should have. 

We are welcoming a son in a few short months while on this wild, unpredictable, beautiful ride together.

His name means Blessed Gift of God because we see this “detour” truly as a gift. 


1441. reclaiming spaces, 1442. bear snuggles, 1443. risen cinnamon rolls, 1444. pillows and blanket rolls, 1445. little kicks, 1446. lifegiving songs on loop, 1447. the harvest of surrender, 1448. books that wait for me, 1449. socks, 1450. soul at rest

Family Quirks
December 9, 2013
Being Brave
September 10, 2013
A Simplicity Journey
November 1, 2016
  • Reply
    Tammy Mashburn
    December 22, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Beautiful, Sweet Friend!!

  • Reply
    Jody Collins
    December 23, 2018 at 3:23 am

    Oh, sweet Em…. what a journey. So well said my friend. All of it.
    Love you~

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