My first baby was a girl, I felt very strongly. Although we lost her at 7 weeks, I had a dream about her. Some of my friends are prophetic dreamers, but I’m not one of them, and I don’t remember my dreams except very occasionally. But I saw her, curly dark hair, sparkling eyes, wearing a little jean jacket. We were living in a second floor apartment in Philadelphia as both of us were still in training. There was a tree in the shared back yard and I put a white flower underneath it for her. Grief overtook me in profound way; I was crying at diaper commercials and thinking I would never be a mother.
Then, thankfully, the boys started coming. And I was suited to boys. Never the girly-girl growing up, I was equal parts poor hippie child and book worm. Admiration for those girls who were naturally skilled in hair & make-up was quickly replaced by a focus on my future career. Even in college I was a GDI with a decided dislike for the sorority crowd. Bow-heads we called them even though, ironically, sorority girls ended up being some of my best friends.
After my third boy, people began to say how much I needed to have a girl. It felt like other people wanted it more for me than I wanted it for myself. Pining for a girl wasn’t something I did although the fleeting thought of a girl sounded nice in a neutral way. Oh, wouldn’t it be neat to buy purple? Because I liked purple rather than pink.
My eldest son would tell me repeatedly that he wanted a sister and that he was praying to G-d to give him one. Gabriel was boy number four and after him, I never heard Dennis Jr mention a sister again. When I probed, he told me he had given up hope when the boys kept coming. I always said, “God hears your prayers, you never know,” honestly not holding out much hope myself but leaving the door open, just in case. Gabriel was my uterine rupture baby and I was so grateful he was alive. He’s pulled himself out of more than one fire, literally, and his character is tough guy, fighter. When you almost lose a child, it makes things like gender secondary to the preciousness of life itself.
Here’s a picture of Nathan blowing the shofar at Gabriel’s baby dedication.
John Michael was boy number five, the number of grace. I had told my father when I was a young girl that I would have ten kids, much to his chagrin, as he was a “only-replace-yourself” kind of guy and clearly influenced by the population bomb crowd. In reality, I couldn’t imagine having five kids and was overwhelmed by the thought. My husband later told me that after the birth of my first, my mother pulled him aside and told him that I really was clueless about babies and that he was going to have to help me a lot. Ha! Understatement of the decade. Grace was indeed present because I managed to pick up some things along the way, although super-mom I was not. I cried when I saw the pregnancy test that told us that JM was coming. But giving it to G-d is sort of the theme of my life, so I quickly got over my trepidation of being a grand multipara, had a great pregnancy and went into labor the morning of my scheduled C-section. You can read about that here.
Before JM was born, my husband had been going through some problems at the hospital, serious stress and emotional angst, not with patients but with other doctors. At a point of desperation, into our lives came Dick & Deanne Reuben. We had gone to a conference at a friend’s church and Dick was the speaker. Dick was a 6’5″ ex-biker who as a Messianic Jewish evangelist had helped usher in the Pensacola Outpouring revival with his teaching on the Jewish roots. His keen mind connected with Dennis’ analytical approach to faith and they became instant friends. Deanne was the perfect foil to Dick’s rough edges and gave us some much needed love and compassion. We would spend hours in discussion and debate, relishing each other’s company.
One of Dick’s assignments from the L-rd was to minister to my husband about the gifts of the Spirit. Dennis’ intellectual mind combined with his Baptist upbringing caused him to be very skeptical of the manifestations of the Spirit he would see in his wife and mother-in-law. It was Dick’s teaching that enabled Dennis and I to see and experience G-d in a much more personal way during the trials. I don’t know how we would have gotten through that period of our lives without Dick and Deanne, but of course, G-d knew that. They were at the hospital to bless JM after he was born and 4 months later, Dick performed our vow renewal ceremony for our 10th wedding anniversary.
Dick would come over to my office to get B12 shots and visit. I loved him so much and would call him the gentle giant. One day, he said, “Goldilocks, I want to pray for you.” He and I would go round and round about his health and what was going on with Dennis, so I was a little surprised but happy that he wanted to pray for me out of the blue. When his prayers moved from general blessings to “I see a little girl,” my eyes flew open. Then my mouth dropped when he said, “Actually, I see two.” JM was just a few months old so another baby was the furthest thing from my mind. Now, I had already had several people “prophesy,” (my husband would say “prophe-lie”), that I would have a girl but I really didn’t give it too much thought. Dick is not someone who would say something he thought I wanted to hear. In fact, he would frequently go off about people who would do that because he had the utmost respect and integrity when it came to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). I didn’t disbelieve him, but I politely filed it away because it didn’t seem particularly relevant to me at that point in time.
Nursing usually kept my periods away for at least a year and almost like clockwork, I would conceive again when the baby was around 18 months old. When JM hit that milestone, sure enough, I was pregnant. I checked my labs and found my quant to be high and my progesterone borderline. My quant was so high, the possibility of twins crossed my mind. I immediately started taking progesterone. It was a very stressful and unstable time in my life to be pregnant, so when I miscarried, I was grieved and painfully passed the baby at home. The experience spurred me to write a blog post on miscarriage, which you can readhere, because I had to channel that silent suffering into something productive.
For some reason, the miscarriages happened around the number 11 and movies. Dennis and I had gone to see Immortals on 11/11/11 and when we got home, my heart sank when I saw pink on the toilet paper. Exactly a year later on 11/11/12, we were watching Skyfall. I had spotted a little that day, but I didn’t think the miscarriage was proceeding quickly. Unfortunately, I started hemorrhaging in the movie theatre (sorry cleaning people) and so Dennis and some friends rushed me over to the ER, where I was stable but the miscarriage was completed. We were to move to Springfield a few weeks later.
Stress was again rearing its head as we had to move, quickly get the kids enrolled in school, and set up my office in a new town where “nobody knows your name.” Although I was grateful to be working with the midwives, I was questioning my decision to remain an independent doctor with no steady income. When I found myself pregnant in February, I immediately began taking progesterone but I didn’t check my labs and tried not to be in fear every time I went to the bathroom. I suppose I didn’t want to know if the labs weren’t optimal. However, I passed my “usual” miscarriage time (7-8 weeks) without incident so I just barely allowed myself hope that this might be it.