Joe - The Ultimate Consolation Prize

I wanted a big family. I always thought I'd have six or seven children. That wouldn't even seem that hard since I was the oldest of eleven children, right? That's what I thought. Then I didn't get married until I was twenty-five. And then I didn't have my first child until I was twenty-seven and with that child came some complications that made it so I had to have C-sections for the rest of my babies.

But that's okay. I'd just have to take a little longer in between. In the back of my checkbook was a calendar for the next ten years. I pulled out that calendar and circled the months I could have kids, leaving myself the necessary time (my doctor recommended two years between children) to let my body recover. I could still have seven children by the time I was 40.

Then we were in a car accident. That messed up my schedule, so with a different colored pencil, I want back through and recalculated the months I could have kids. I could still have six.

I got pregnant pretty much on schedule. But then I had a miscarriage. I went through and circled new months in a different color.

My second child I was on bedrest for the last month. My third child I was on bedrest for almost two months. Then I got pregnant with Joe. I had earlier labor than ever and I was on bedrest for more than three months to keep him from coming too early. And there were other complications, too. I sat with the doctor and made the awful decision that if he found what he was afraid he'd find when he performed the C-section, I'd be through having children.

Joe was born and my optimistic calendar with all the months circled in different colors was put aside. I was through having babies. And I only had four. I cried. And then I cried again when his little cord fell off. "This is the last time I'll go through a cord falling off." "This is the last time..." became my mantra. Everything was an event. I couldn't believe I'd never again have my own newborn fall asleep in my arms. I couldn't believe I'd never potty train another child. It was really hard for me. I couldn't believe my last child was starting kindergarten.

I think God knew it was going to be hard for me, so he sent me Joe--a sweet, cuddly, affectionate, loving little boy that completely lit up the world. One day, a zillion family members were at Grandpa and Grandma's house and the kids were all playing with their cousins. Joe and several cousins ran through the room on their way to play somewhere. Without losing his place in the group or missing a beat, Joe called out, "I love you, Mom." Several people in the room laughed at how sweet that was. I just smiled because I was so used to it. I rarely have to wonder how Joe feels.

Joe is super social. He is great with directions and will patiently follow a youtube origami tutorial until he's made a masterpiece. He loves to read. He loves airplanes and basketball. He's been my Webelo (until today). He loves watching basketball with me and occasionally watches golf with me. He talks a lot and has had almost every teacher complain about how social he is. He's nice to everyone. He confides in me, even if it's embarrassing or hard. He sticks up for the girls and the underdogs. He vacuums stairs so that the carpet looks new. He works hard in school and sports. If my family had to be complete with just four children, Joe was a pretty amazing consolation prize.

I love you, Joe. Happy 11th birthday!


Mindy said...

I totally understand. After early labors, premature babies, and miscarriages, we knew that three was going to be our limit... I always thought I'd have about six too. I had times of being so sad about it, and longing for more... but I've found that place of peace and gratitude for the three beautiful children I have.

Your Joe sounds wonderful... all your kids are amazing! I'm so sorry you had to go through such trials with your pregnancies and births... and sorry that there aren't more amazing little Whites in the world. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! way to move me to tears. I had no idea you had that calendar. You are truly blessed with four very different and very amazing children. I love them all dearly.
Happy Birthday, Joseph. You are a special to so many people. I love you.

missy said...

What a well-rounded, handsome young man. Sounds like he was hand picked to come to a great family.

Rebecca Adams said...

I've always dreamed of having a big family too, but I'd be lucky if I got just one! I'm coming up on my 5 year anniversary and still no signs of anything happening. It totally breaks my heart some days, but I just have to tell myself that the Lord's plan is the best plan, and He must have something special planned for my life to have to go through many hard years of infertility. Be grateful that you have four of your own children! I might just have to adopt my kids.

Happy birthday Joe! You have four wonderful kids!

Christy said...

I am so in tears. I have been through the same emotions with my David, who is so much like yor Joe... sweet, affectionate, thoughtful. The end of my child-bearing came because my marriage ended... a different heartbreak, but my dreams of having a bigger family were at an end. I still have moments where I long to cuddle a newborn again, or to finger paint with a toddler, but I am at peace with my sweet children and family, and now Heavenly Father has seen fit to bless me with a new husband, marriage, and 3 more children to love. We never know the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for us. Thanks for writing something that allowed me to reflect on this today.

cucciolo25 said...

Cute Joe. Lila took a strong liking to him when you came last summer. He was so sweet with her and let her boss him around. :) Spencer thinks Joe is awesome.
Joe fits in so wonderfully with your fabulous family.
We love you Joe. Happy birthday!

Mary L Walling said...

I understand the heartache of not having the family you want. When we first got married, I was told no children...I was barren due to a medication I had been taking since childhood. I was determined to have a child. When finally we talked about adopting, I became ill and for 6 months every test in the book was run on me but one. You guessed it. A pregnancy test. I was 6 months pregnant! I know have 3 beautiful daughters and 8 wonderful grandchildren. For this I am truly blessed and thankful! Happy Birthday Joe!!!

Torrie said...

What a beautiful post--it's funny how God seems to make up for our disappointments with unexpected blessings. Happy Birthday to Joe!!

Tawnie J said...

Happy Birthday Joe!! How blessed you are.
Love you lots.