At 29 years old, I lay on an operating table, giving birth to my 2nd child by Caesarean section. My pregnancy had been difficult; I’d been 24-7 vomit sick for the first 20 weeks. That, combined with a part-time office job and the care for a 2-year-old, had made me wonder if I wanted to ever be pregnant again. I had always wanted a big family, but I couldn’t even begin to count they number of times I’ve said “I don’t think I can do this again” to my husband during the previous 9 months.
The doctor held up my daughter, 8 pounds, 1 oz, covered in goo and as much hair as I’d ever seen on a baby’s head. Sophia Diane. She was perfect. We had a boy and a girl.
“Are we tying your tubes while we’re in here?” My doctor asked.
I hesitated. I was PRETTY sure I never wanted to be pregnant again.
But not sure enough.
I looked at my husband. “I’m not ready for that yet,” I said.
I walked out of that hospital with my fertility intact.
If I had only known, I wouldn’t have.
If I had ONLY known what was to come, I would have said. “YES. TIE THOSE TUBES. I have more than I can handle.”
But I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that Sophie would cry nearly ALL the time. I didn’t know that she’d only sleep in 45-minute spurts day or night. I didn’t know she’d want to nurse ALL the time, that she’d scream at night to be comforted and that the only person she wanted to do the comforting was ME.
I didn’t know that she would be, for the first few years of her life, either happy or sad. My bi-polar baby, there was no in-between. I didn’t know that once she was mobile, getting her dressed every morning and getting her PJs on every evening would be the WORST, most exhausting moments of my day.
If I had only known, I would have told my doctor to tie. those. tubes. Because by the time Sophie was two, I knew I had WAY more than I could handle with her and her very-easy-perfect-first-child older brother Joshua.
When I was on that operating table, I didn’t know that Sophie would be diagnosed with severe developmental delays at age 3. I didn’t know that she’d require a couple years of therapy. I didn’t know that I’d cry terrified tears about whether or not she’d ever be able to learn.
If only I had known, I’d have gone back in time to that operating room, looked into my doctor’s eyes and said, “Yes. Tie ’em up good.”
But I didn’t know.
THANK GOD, I didn’t know.
If I had known, I would not have, shortly before my daughter’s troubles were at their worst, gotten pregnant with my third child. (And, nope, I didn’t plan it.)
If I had only known, I wouldn’t have had a sweet newborn to cart along to Sophie’s therapy sessions, baby snuggles to help make my fears seem less big, or an extra beautiful soul in our home.
If I had only known, I wouldn’t have Jonah.
Thank God, I DIDN’T KNOW.
Sophie’s fourth year, the year she started knocking down her delays and hitting her goals like a prizefighter on steroids, was Jonah’s first year, a year that started out with fear mixed with joy and ended up with just…JOY. My girl proved what I always knew in my heart, that she could set anything she set her mind to. As her delays fell away, so did her mood swings, and she too became full of joy almost all the time.
Now, every time I look at my baby boy, now six-and-a-half and about to start first grade, my boy who had delays and needed therapies of his own, my boy who makes us LAUGH a million times a day, whose intelligence constantly amazes me, every time I see that child, I am reminded that I didn’t know—and that sometimes not knowing is a GIFT. I am reminded that I don’t always know what’s BEST for me.
And I am reminded of the One who does. God didn’t give me the knowledge of my future with Sophie while I was in that operating room because He knew I couldn’t handle knowing—He knew my emotions and self-doubt, my fear of doing hard things, my fear of not being in control, would have led me to make the wrong decision.
Not knowing. What a gift.
Thank God, I didn’t know.
***Editor’s note: I wrote this article last Friday August 4, 2017, and yesterday at church on Sunday August 6, the pastor used this quote in his sermon: “God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows.”
Coincidence? I think not. God is so good to us.