I have a wonderful opportunity every night to have "pillow time" with my son, Jacob. After family scripture study and prayer, I tuck him in with his choice of stories or songs. And sometimes I quiz him about important things. "Jacob, what did I want to be more than anything else in the world?" He knows the answer: "You wanted to be my mommy."
I did want to be his mommy. I wanted to be ANYONE'S mommy, in fact. For years that opportunity eluded us, despite our efforts to pursue the best that science fiction could offer. It was six years ago - February 16, 2000 - that I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage. It was my only pregnancy, lost as mysteriously as it occurred. It was a time when the Lord had to say "No, I'm sorry", and there was a time of considerable grief. But we were blessed through that experience, which ultimately led us to the "great joy of my life": my son, Jacob.
(By the way, before I tell the story of Jacob, I have to point out that my odds of conceiving naturally were supposed to be virtually zero - just like my odds of surviving glioblastoma multiforme for five years! My odds of miscarrying were supposed to be less than five percent, once we saw the healthy heartbeat on the sonogram. So maybe I'm just meant to live in the small minority. In the case of this cancer, let's just hope so!)
In December 2000 we were approached by my mother about an adoption opportunity that came her way. She is a family law attorney (which, by the way, is another example of how my family members bless me with their talents and occupations, including my physician brother, my MBA father, my MBA student brother, and my "baby" brother who is a gifted artist and budding physical therapist). Anyway, our initial reaction about the adoption opportunity was cautious, but we received a dramatic answer to our prayers that THIS child was to be OUR child. This was a baby boy, due to be born in the spring. His birth family received a similar spiritual witness that this child belonged in our family, and that he was going to be an answer to our prayers.
On March 11, 2001, my husband boarded an airplane for California. The company he worked for was moving there, and although he chose not to relocate, they asked him to travel and train people at the California office. He felt funny about going, even though we were told that the baby was not due for a couple more weeks.
On the evening of March 12, I sat home alone, thinking it would probably be a good idea to start packing "the bag" - the one we would grab and dash out the door with, as soon as we heard that the baby was being born. He would be born in Houston, and we lived in the Dallas area. We would have to be ready to move quickly. But then I dismissed the thought, thinking I had plenty of time to do it later. After all, he wasn't due to be born for a couple more weeks. (Big lesson learned - always listen to those ideas that come into your head!)
On the morning of March 13, I was awakened by a phone call from my mother. "Jacob may be born today." (Jacob was the name we chose for this baby boy.) His birth mother was in the hospital, in labor. I called Jared and told him to fly to Houston as fast as he could, and then I ran around the house like a crazy person, trying to throw stuff into "the bag" - that one I should have packed the night before, when the thought occurred to me. (Always listen to those thoughts!!!) I then had to run to the office where I worked, to tie up some loose ends and let them know that I was officially on maternity leave, effective immediately.
Shortly after noon, I was finally on the Dallas North Tollway, speeding southbound toward Houston, when my phone rang again. "Jacob has been born!" My mother's tearful, joyful voice proclaimed the happy news. I am amazed that I survived the rest of the drive! As I drove in my shocked and joyful state, I picked up my cell phone to call Jared ("Hurry, honey! Guess what?") and my dad ("Can you bring thirteen white roses to the hospital?"), and then I zoomed for hours, digesting this amazing news. I realized how funny it was that we were now one of "those people" for whom thirteen is actually a lucky number. Our new son was born in the thirteenth hour of the thirteenth day of March, in the thirteenth year of our marriage. Lucky Thirteen.
I arrived at the hospital four hours later. Mom met me in the parking lot and took me inside. I entered a hospital room, where a beautiful young woman was lying in bed, surrounded by family and friends. One of them held a small bundle. She took the bundle from her friend, cradled it for a moment, and handed it to me. "Here is your son." I held my son. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was overcome with joy.
Jared had all kinds of problems with his flight, and he didn't land in Houston until 10 pm, so he missed visiting hours. I tortured him with pictures and video of Jacob, and a recording of Jacob crying on his cell phone voice mail. The next morning, we went back to the hospital together. He saw Jacob. His look of complete love and awe reminded me of my own feelings during that precious first moment of discovery. He was ours.
Forty-eight hours after the birth, it was time for his birth mother to sign relinquishment papers and place Jacob in our custody. It was her personal moment of Gethsemane. It was almost too sacred to watch. But there we all were - Jared, me, Mom, birth mom, birth family, witnesses, notary, etc. Watching her tremble and weep, then take a deep breath and do what she had resolved to do. She gave this baby life, and she gave him the family that he belonged in. When she finished, Jared swallowed her up in a hug and tearfully thanked her. We had a family prayer together. And then it was time for goodbye. We love her so much, and are ever thankful for her resolve to follow what she knew was the Lord's will for this baby.
Six weeks later we were in a courtroom, finalizing Jacob's adoption. It was faster than we thought it would be. The judge, a kind and grandmotherly woman, was willing to waive residency requirements in the best interest of the child. He was ours. A month later he was sealed to us in the Dallas Temple. For - EVVVVV - er (to borrow a line from an earlier post).
When I ponder this story, I marvel at how the Lord "WOWED" me. This was not a case of "Okay, daughter, here is your baby. Sorry for the wait," as though this were a cheeseburger that took too long during the drive-through at McDonald's. This was like Charlton Heston, poised over the Red Sea, telling the Israelites to behold the power of the Lord. Sometimes I picture Him carefully crafting the most perfectly customized child for our family. He fits our family so perfectly. Our Jacob. Our child. Our great joy. In one moment...one birth...one woman's sacrifice...our lives changed from one of waiting and hoping, to one of unspeakable, daily joy.
We were "WOWED". This was "eye hath not seen" kind of stuff. We have no ability to fully comprehend the kinds of blessings that are in store for us if we can hang on faithfully through our lives and our moments of adversity.
The path that led to Jacob was a thorny one, but it didn't matter, because it led to Jacob. To the big WOW. Today, we are on a thorny path again - one called Cancer. I don't know how long it will be. I don't know how painful it will be. I don't know if I will have another "No, I'm sorry" answer. I don't know if there will be another season of grief for my family. I continue to pray for a miracle to save my life, and I know that I can have one if it is in accordance with the Lord's good will and plan for me. I also know that somehow, some way, whether it be in this life or the next, He is going to WOW me again. I feel it all the way to my bones. I have learned to expect it. I joyfully anticipate it. I strive to endure this trial well, so that I can lay claim on the WOW. I trust completely in His love for me. Every time I see my son, I realize that he is a symbol of the WOW that is yet to be.