I sounded so crabby at the therapist’s office the other day while explaining my mixed emotions about being 40 and pregnant, “I’ve never been the kind of woman who was like, ‘Oh, please let me bear children. It’s my life dream to have a whole houseful of darlings. My only ambition is to be a mother.’ ” In fact, even though I’ve always assumed I would have a large family and was even quoted in my high-school yearbook that I planned to have a dozen kids, I have also been quite conflicted about it ever since I can remember. I love kids. I came from a large family that I also love. But, I have always also been full of dreams and ambitions that had nothing to do with family. In fact, I knew kids would just get in the way of a lot of what I wanted to do: graduate from college, serve in the Peace Corps, write a book or two, travel, and have a successful career in one thing or another.
I further explained to the therapist, “I’m a willing vessel, I’m just a broken one.” LeGrand and I both chuckled. Ain’t that the truth! He knows it even more intimately than I do. I am a very spiritual person and I try to live my life in communication with God. This is a good thing and a bad one. Because I listen to the voice of God, my life is always full of conflict. What He wants for me always seems to be in direct opposition of what I want for myself.
I remember when my hubby and I had been married for just a month. We went to the temple together and separated to do some work. I was 24, he was 22. We were both in college and working full-time. After we were done with our service in the temple, we walked out to the car hand in hand, both very quiet. Something was up. You could cut the dark sky in front of us with a pocketknife. My newer-than-new husband turned to me and said, “Alice, I felt it too, we are supposed to start our family now, and have joy in our posterity.” Nooooooooooo. I couldn’t keep the spiritual impressions I had felt in my own heart a secret like I had planned. This was crazy, but it was also undoubtedly what God wanted for us. I knew that this family business would rob me of all if not most of my own dreams. It took me six months to even become willing to go off birth control and then I was still resentful. And pregnant.
So, bring us up to the present day. We have four kids. I’ve had four miscarriages. I am forty and pregnant. Four seems to be an important number for me right now. This is my fourth and final blog. I know many people are reasonably questioning the child growing inside of me. Heck, they can’t question any more than I am. I am questioning. My husband is questioning. The only ones who are not questioning are our four children. They couldn’t be any more excited. Kids are really good at instinctively knowing what is most important…plus they don’t have to worry about paying the bills or losing three years of sleep.
I’d like to take this chance to explain and write down this little tale so that I will always remember it. There is one reason and one reason alone I am pregnant. The reason is that this child spoke to me from its pre-mortal realm. In August of 2012, my hubby and I found ourselves again at the temple. I had just suffered a pretty brutal miscarriage at 18 weeks. As we sat in the chapel, I turned to my husband and said, “LeGrand, I am not praying about this today, but I just want to be done having kids. I’m 38. I’m so tired, and I don’t think I can handle it emotionally anymore.” LG answered with his full support, “It’s up to you Alice. I don’t blame you. I don’t want you to have to go through that again either.” I wasn’t going to pray about it because I didn’t want any other answer from God besides my own.
But something miraculous happened. Something I couldn’t deny. God sent a messenger to the temple that day. In the spirit form of a child. My child. The one I hadn’t yet given birth to.
It’s hard to explain the special place that are Mormon temples. They are very sacred. God is always there. They are a place where the veil between two worlds is very thin. In the temple I’ve felt the presence of many of my deceased loved ones who have gone on before me. They have been there with me often, telling me that they are watching over me.
I never expected to be visited by someone who had yet to come to earth, but somebody had an important message that day. One that I really didn’t want to hear. In fact it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked behind me to see no one there but to feel someone as assuredly as if they were standing there. There was no doubt someone was there. I then heard an audible voice, “Mom, I’m here. Please, don’t forget me.”
I instantly started bawling. How selfish I am! How easily distracted I become. I so willingly forget that this earth-life isn’t about gaining the adventures that I want to have, but is all about being willing to take on the ones that I already promised God (and others) that I would achieve. My most important calling in this life is to be a vessel, even if I’m the most broken one that there ever was. I answered with a pledge in my heart, “I won’t. I promise. I could never forget you.” It took me sixteen more months to get pregnant again. Every day I was haunted by the pleading of my child. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant or stay pregnant. I convinced myself that it was just the miscarried kid talking to me. I would maybe get to meet him at a later day in heaven. I told God that if he wanted it to happen, forty was as high as I was willing to go. Miraculously, I got pregnant on the first cycle after my 40th birthday, almost as if God wanted me to know that he got the message. But also in typical God-fashion..in the 11th hour…after we’ve been tested to the limit.
I’ve vacillated between anxiousness, depression, and elation. I’m only four months in and I’ve already had to give up my running, my plans to go back to school and work, and a portion of my sanity. A big chunk of money that was put aside for our new home will now be used for doctor bills and baby items. I worry every day that this child will have special needs, but one thing dismisses my many worries. There is one thing that I will always know: this child is special. More than anything, this child wanted a chance to be mortal. He knew that for that to happen I had to be his mama. He traveled from wherever he was all the way to the temple to remind me of my promise long ago to not forget. I smile at his bravery and his audacity because he chose the day that I least wanted to hear it to remind me.
And then I cringe at what is in store for him. He’s going to be stubborn. He’s going to be brave. He’s going to have his own ideas. He will also have a mother to remind him that more than anything he wanted to come to earth because that is what God wanted him to do. I will remind him as much as I will myself: We might as well keep on listening to God…no matter how much harder it seems to make our lives and how much it robs us of our own dreams and ambitions. Ultimately we both will have to answer for how we used our time on earth and every single one of our choices. God will never be concerned with how much we traveled or achieved, His main concern is for the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. For that to happen, He first has to get them to earth….even if the vessel is forty and all washed up. All we can hope for is our own willingness to say, “I am a vessel, God. I am broken but I am here and I am listening.”
* I say “he” because I have this secret wish that the lucky number five will be the son for which I’ve prayed for my husband, but we are 99.9% sure that “he” is really Vivienne. There is always that .01% though, I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.