November 29, 2004, I was at the hospital, welcoming Bee into the world.
People occasionally assume I’m Bee’s grandmother – which I think is just mean, and awful, and stupid, and which always leaves me depressed for days. But I am, admittedly, a bit on the old side to have such a young child. I sometimes call Bee my midlife surprise, and that is no joke, especially the SURPRISE! part.
When Mr. Right and I married we thought six sounded like a good number of children. Then we had children and sobered up. Secondary infertility became an issue after Baph’s birth, and so Striker, B. Lake and Cheesy all came to us through adoption. The process of adoption itself is exhausting. The red tape, the waiting, the uncertainty that accompanies international adoption – it really is a test of human endurance. And I’m not gonna lie; our children could be a challenge, too. In parenting those four we dealt with ADHD, attachment issues, developmental delays, learning disabilities, health concerns, and tantrums that would curl your spine. No offense, kids, you’re wonderful and I love you, but you’re partly responsible for my looking like someone’s grandmother.
By the spring of 2004, things seemed to be mellowing out a bit, and there was a charming symmetry to our family. Boy, girl, boy, girl – with a few years between each step down the family line. Our family seemed tidy and, I thought, complete. But I was wrong. The stomach flu came and wouldn’t go away, leaving me with no taste for coffee. I should have known that no ordinary flu could undo my coffee addiction, but after 13 years of infertility pregnancy didn’t cross my mind – until, finally, it did. I looked at the little pink plus sign on the home pregnancy test with horror, and then I wailed.
I met Mr. Right on the front lawn, as soon as he got out of his car that day. “Promise you’ll love me no matter what?” I asked, and showed him the pregnancy test. And then Mr. Right did exactly the right thing: he fell down laughing. Somehow, I was able to quit freaking out and start laughing, too.
Bee’s middle name is Evangeline. It took me most of the first trimester to adjust to the news that our four would become five, that our full house was going to need to accommodate one more. I had to stand on faith that this was good news, until my feelings caught up. And so I quickly chose a middle name that means “good news”.
It sounds cliche to say that I can’t imagine my life without Bee, I know. What parent wouldn’t say the same thing about their child? Still, it’s true. She is such an interesting, thoughtful little person, our Bee. Generous and compassionate, but forthright, too. I adore her.
Tonight we’ll go to the restaurant of her choice (Cracker Barrel) and she’ll get the Pillow Pet she’s been wanting. And I’ll give thanks, not for the first or last time, that God knew better than I did when our family would be complete.