You never know what a week will bring. We don't think that when we experience what we expect. We think it when the unexpected happens, or when the range of our experiences is great. Both of those were the case for us this week.
For me, it started with an unexpected pulled muscle in my back. It is not a new thing for me and I can expect to be crippled up a bit about once a year. I did not expect it to come when we were having a guest speaker at church for the week and Joey, Jamie, and the twins were coming over for a visit. I did not expect it to be the worst pull I've probably ever had while doing the least--I turned my head and felt it go. Thus, I spent two solid days on the couch and two more days moving very gingerly. Thankfully, I was moving by the time the babies were in town.
With three babies around for the weekend everyone pretty much had their fill of getting to hold a little snuggler.
As much as we were all willing to help I think Jamie could still frequently be found doing this...!
Dana and I both got a little greedy and had to try filling our arms with all three at once, but that was a bit tricky.
Holding Keira (2 mo), Vince (1 mo), and Carson (2 mo)
Gabe loved having the babies around and wanted to kiss them all the time. If one was crying he felt that he HAD to give a kiss! While the above picture may look like he's mauling poor Keira he's actually being very gentle. He didn't put any pressure on her with his arm and would only let his lips just brush her cheek. He was a bit confused by being told to "move out of the way" and was thrilled to have the camera turned his way during our picture taking sessions.
Still, these three were the stars. It's something how enamoring a baby's face can be. We just can't seem to get enough of the expressions and looks and grins. When else does a roomful of people turn their full attention to, "Look, she smiled!", or "He's yawning!"?
But, for all three there was a limit. Finally, enough was enough and they'd had it with pictures and being held.
Even Gabe reached a limit. He loved the babies, but decided it was hard to give up his own place as the baby and he required a little extra Mama-time on Sunday.
It was a happy weekend for all of us. We enjoyed playing with the babies, rocking and comforting them. We enjoyed seeing our children move on to being parents. After having eleven we were "old hands" at caring for babies and it was fun to see the experience through fresh eyes. Being a big brother does not necessarily prepare you for being a father. It's still new. I'm thankful to see the change in expectations in my older children. When Mom had a new baby they naturally took for granted that she could keep up with that baby, a toddler, several homeschool students, running the house, making the meals, doing the laundry, as well as make it to sporting events and give people rides to wherever they needed to go. I'm glad to see many of their sensitity levels kick into a higher gear for these new Mamas (and I'm not just talking about the Daddies).
On Monday we combined Keith's business with pleasure and spent a day with Ellen. At 29 weeks she is finally looking like an expectant mother.
She's been enjoying picking up baby things at yard sales and feeling her little one moving around. The weather was beautiful and we spent an afternoon at the park with the Klevens. After Keith finished working we walked to another local park and just enjoyed the weather and one another.
Bryce shared our basketball with a little guy at the park,
and he shared his trike with Gabe!
We returned home Tuesday feeling tired, but very full. Full of enjoyment, peace, happiness, and feeling blessed with the love that is being returned to us from our aging and growing family. We were ready to get back into the job of maintaining our daily lives and getting back to school and the usual routine.
But, on Wednesday the unexpected took us down a different road. Chet called me in the afternoon to let me know that he and Priscilla had just lost their first child. They had yet to announce her pregnancy, wanting to wait until the first trimester had passed. That announcement was going to be made next week.
I arrived at their apartment late that evening and spent two days doing what little I could to make things a bit easier for them. I called Priscilla's mother, Mary, to let her know I was going up to be with them. I knew her heart was hurting for her daughter and that she wanted more than anything to close the 989 mile gap between them. I learned that she had suffered five miscarriages herself and asked what I could do. Her answer was exactly right. There was really nothing I could do. I just had to love her. Chet and Priscilla had suffered a loss that would always be with them and the pain of it would not go away tomorrow or the next day, but it would take time for that hurt to heal and for them to move on. My job was going to be to make it easier for them to concentrate on caring for one another, giving some emotional relief, and offer a hug or a smile when it was needed.
I made sure I filled the Mom-role of keeping everyone fed and overfed. Other friends filled in with visits, baked goods, loving messages, and flowers.
There was no anger or bitterness, no lashing out at God or questioning Him. There was peace and understanding that God's ways are always right and good and His love endures through all things. But, there was inevitable sorrow and a deep sadness and sense of loss. And through it all there was love as they reached out to one another to share their pain and emotions as they cried together, hugged one another, and found reasons to smile and laugh.
I was blessed to be a part of their trial and to see how they loved each other. It is a help to me as I desire to see my children happy and loved, to remember that my mother-in-law wants the same for her son. I am reminded to be what I want for them.
I was also reminded on my drive home of how the loss of their child affected me, the grandmother. When you are caring for someone else you think only of their needs and the pain that they are suffering. Your own feelings and pain don't tend to surface until later. My later came just as I was ending my trip. An old song came on the radio. It was Stevie Wonder's 1970s song "Isn't She Lovely", written as a tribute to the birth of his daughter. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought of my lost grandchild--a baby who, for the last 5 weeks, I had pictured in my mind as a little girl.
I am inspired to keep on going, to keep on loving, and serving, and looking for the good and the beautiful and the joy. Life is precious and I believe that God means for us to live His love to make it that much brighter. Praise His Name.