Surprise! It’s a blessing

Categorized as 06/22/09 Goshen News column

It can’t be, can it? It’s not possible, is it? Surely it hasn’t been that long.

No matter how unbelievable it seems, there’s no getting around it. It’s been three years now since that late-night dash to the hospital where three eager boys and their two eager parents met the fourth and final addition to the family.

As I shared with you long ago, this story carries the element of surprise, and I do mean surprise. The day the stick turned pink, the earth shifted on its axis. The tectonic plates collided and seismic tremors rocked the foundations. And that was just the extended family’s reaction.

Only those who have experienced the holy disruption of an unplanned pregnancy will truly know what I’m talking about. To say it’s life changing is an understatement. It’s unsettling, to say the least. It’s scary. It’s also exhilarating, although that comes much later.

It happened so subtly, that shift from the “having babies” stage to the “growing the ones we have” phase that I nearly missed the transition. Mr. Schrock declared decisively that he was “done with the diapers,” while I would feel an occasional maternal tug upon seeing a cute outfit or a blue binky.

I loved my work-at-home career, though, and for the first time in 15 years, all the hooligans were in school. It was nice, and I didn’t realize just how nice it was until the day we learned it was all going to change.

On the face of it, the numbers were not in our favor. The boys were 16, 12, and 7. We were 38 and 39. Throw in 10-1/2 weeks of bed rest with boy number 3, mix it with some alarming figures about the risks of having a child at that age, and there were some very anxious moments.

The boys, however, were thrilled. They whooped. They rejoiced. They wanted to tell the world. It was touching to see their excitement and to witness their involvement in the process. Every day, the pray-er, our strong-willed boy who had prayed fervently for another baby, would come home from school and say, “So, Mom, how are you and the baby?”

They wanted to help us pick the name. Knowing that Daddy’s girl name was set in stone, they trotted out various boy names for our approval. Veto, veto, veto went the stamp until one day someone said, “How ‘bout this one?”

And so it was that Gabriel Coen, which means “God is my strength” and “brave,” was born late one night in June. He was five weeks early, and we cried as the ambulance took him away. We prayed, and we rejoiced when he came home 11 days later, that bitty bundle with a headful of hair.

Now he’s three. As I look at him, our holy disruption, I see a God-sized blessing in a little pair of overalls. Yes, it’s been exhausting. Yes, it’s been a lot of work. Yes, it’s been absolutely surreal to go back to buying diapers and Nubys while helping another son schedule college classes. But it’s been good.

A few months after his birth, a friend asked us how we were doing. We said that while it was a huge adjustment, it was turning out to be a blessing. “So,” he said wisely, “you’ve had to make some adjustments to receive the blessing.” Yes. Exactly.

As we prepare to celebrate his birthday, I asked Gabey’s brothers what he’s added to our family. They said, “A lot of cuteness.” They used words like “happiness” and “laughing.”

“He made us an even number,” someone said. “And you can’t stay mad at him.”

“He gives us a different focus,” another one said.

When I think about what Gabey has added to our family, I see joy. It’s on his father’s face when he comes home at night and sees his boy. He makes us laugh, lately by pressing a tiny finger to his lips and saying, “Shhh!” in a panicked voice when a brother starts to tell on him.

He’s a little helper, too, doing such helpful things as spraying up the bedroom with Windex. “Clean woom!” he announced proudly. “Clean ‘jamas!”

Sure enough. He had “cleaned” the comforter, the floor, a family picture, the nightstand, and his Lightning McQueen pajamas before moving into the dining room and “cleaning” the table.

He’s brought happiness in spades. Seeing him toddle around with blanky, his favorite possession, and watching him zip around on his little four-wheeler makes me happy. Having him push his fleet of cars and trucks back and forth on my desk as I type makes me happy, too. Seeing his bitty form standing in the window, waving and blowing kisses, turns his father into mush.

He loves to play ball, any kind, and he adores his daddy’s big, red truck. Riding to Daddy’s office in that truck is a very special treat for both of them.

I asked his father recently what his big take-away was so far, now three years into this adventure. He thought a bit, and then he said, “That surprises can be blessings.”

Happy birthday, Gabriel Coen, and thank you for blessing us.

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