While I stood in line at the grocery store a lady behind me, in who looked to be in her sixties, kept gazing at my three month old daughter and smiling. Finally, she laid her hand on my arm and said, “Enjoy this age now. They grow so fast. She will be a teenager before you know it.” What she didn’t know is that I understood this. I was living it. I smiled at her and said, “I know. I have two teenagers at home.” And yet, I hadn’t quite wrapped my head around this. How did this happen? How could I be raising a baby again?
Let’s back up a bit.
In the summer of 2010, my family was in the thick of all that it takes to open a new business, a bakery. I needed to have surgery to correct a problem likely caused by carrying and delivering two nearly nine pound babies several years before. As I discussed the surgery with my doctor, she asked what I was using for birth control and if I’d be interested in having my tubes tied while she “was already in there.” It didn’t take much thought, I said yes. I mean my daughters were 14 and almost 11 years old. My husband and I knew from the time we started discussing marriage that we wanted two children. And besides, I was 38 and opening a new business. Surely, we could not have a new business and a baby at the same time.
The surgery went well with no complications. And after a lot of anticipation, much like that of pregnancy, our business opened on February 11, 2011. And then began the “newborn stage” of the business. I was working 80+ hours per week, sleeping only about 4 hours a night. I was so tired that I wouldn’t drive anywhere more than three miles for fear of falling asleep at the wheel. But at the same time, much like having a new baby, I was enjoying the new experience and loving the excitement and support of friends and family. Things were rolling along.
Then in early May, 2011 I started to feel sick. Very sick. I was exhausted, lightheaded and so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t eat sometimes. I thought I was beginning to burn out from the hectic schedule, but I was worried it could be much worse. I went home one night thinking I would call the doctor in the morning and schedule an appointment. That night I began to evaluate my symptoms so I would be prepared to tell the doctor everything and we could get to the bottom of it. I thought, “Let’s see, exhaustion, dizziness, nausea. EXHAUSTION, DIZZINESS, NAUSEA. Wait a minute! No! I had my tubes tied!”
After the kids were off to bed I told my husband that I was running to the drug store for a pregnancy test. He thought I was wasting our money. Turns out he was wrong. I took the test, waited three minutes and then waited one minute more, just to be sure. And there is was… the blue +. With a look of disbelief, I walked downstairs, joined my husband on the couch and said, “Yup, it’s positive.” Should we ever find ourselves in this situation, I had rehearsed the moment in my head a hundred times since the birth of my second child. And the farther out I got from her birth, the uglier it became in my head. By this time, I was sure that I would crawl into a closet, curl up and cry for two weeks, mourning the life we had planned. Then I would accept everything and be happy. But that’s not how it happened. Instead, my husband and I sat side by side for about half an hour saying things like, “This is good.” “I have to potty train again.” “How did this happen?” “We get to go to Disney again.” “How are we going to do this?” “Glad we have two older ones to help.” “I’m going to be 40 when the baby is born!”
And just like that, we were thrilled. Terrified, but thrilled.
On January 12, 2012 Ruth Estelle entered the world weighing in at 9lbs., 9 oz. My older daughters were 15 and 12 at the time and were present to witness her birth. It was an incredible experience for our family. Now Ruth is about to turn three and we are all madly in love with her. It hasn’t been easy, but at the same time, it has been a joy. She has come to work with me since she was four weeks old. She brings fun to a work environment that can sometimes get tense and occasionally mundane. It is a delight to have her squeaky little voice echoing through our house while she spins in her tutu or runs around naked after her bath. We were missing that, we just didn’t know it.
Now as I look at our future, I don’t mourn the life we had planned. I’m thrilled that we get to raise another daughter. While my friends are dealing with empty nests, I’ll be at sporting events or dance recitals, or teacher conferences. No, I don’t mourn the life we had planned. It’s clear that we had no business planning it anyway.