Parnell is very fond of the above quote from the movie "Fools Rush In" (and I'm pretty fond of it as well). Certainly it sums up our married life together, but to me it also represents those moments that we experience from time to time when, with the benefit of hindsight, we see the big picture come into view and understand how the pieces of our lives were intended to fit together.
A visit to the Cake Wrecks blog this evening took me to the blog site of a family that has lost two children - one at sixteen months and another at fifteen weeks gestation. They are pregnant with number three, and as I pray for a "happy ending" for them I am also struck by their faith - not a blind faith that they will suffer no more but a faithful belief that whatever happens will have a deeper purpose within their own lives and in the lives of others. Reading about their journey made me think about our own (comparatively miniscule) struggles to have our second child. Our first miscarriage (at seven weeks) was terribly sad and disappointing, and also disorienting - after an initial pregnancy experience that was absolutely textbook (well, until the last twenty four hours, when we discovered that our firstborn, stubborn and mischief-filled from the get-go, had flipped when he should have flopped, hit a growth spurt and got his head stuck in my ribcage, necessitating a C section), it honestly had never occurred to us that anything could go wrong.
Our second lost pregnancy (just past the fifteen-week mark) transcended sad, disappointing and disorienting - devastating is the only word that comes to mind. After that experience, our reality did a 180 and we began to wonder if anything could ever go right again. We agreed to take a sabbatical from all things baby; I focused on work, and on getting myself back on an even keel, mentally and physically, and together we focused on Connor. We traveled. We decided that there were worse things than being a threesome. And we decided that we would try one more time, beginning in March 2004. (Practical girl that I am - and 100% certain that we would have another boy - I wanted our boys to be exactly five years apart, so that all of Connor's hand-me-downs would be seasonally appropriate for the little guy.) Of course, I got pregnant a month before our start date - someone's way of taking away some of the anxiety, I suppose. My fourth, and last, pregnancy was not at all textbook - we had a myriad of scares along the way - but each time my precious little boy found a way to reassure me, moving in my belly at just the right moment and letting me know that he wasn't going anywhere until his "birth day." Because he was a repeat C section, because his brother had been HUGE at 38 weeks, and because our doctor estimated that "Repeat" was even bigger than "Peat" (she was correct), his arrival was scheduled for two weeks before his due date. As the nurse was hooking me up to the monitors, one final wave of panic hit me: we had made it this far, but was it possible that he wasn't ready to join us? I voiced my concern, and the nurse immediately pointed at the monitor and said, "There - your first contraction." Someone - God? Parker? The former working through the latter? - had heard me, and the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. Well, almost the last piece: when they placed Parker in my arms, the fog of those two failed pregnancies began to lift, and my perspective forever shifted. A voice in my head uttered what should have been an obvious truth: had either of those pregnancies succeeded, I would have had my two children. But I would not have had the two children that I was meant to have.
Looking at my two boys, they are such obvious compliments to each other - one towhead blonde, one sandy-headed; one green-eyed, the other brown-eyed; one so scientific and frequently serious, the other prone to being silly and capricious. They balance each other, and they balance our family. I watch them together, when they are playing - and even when they are fighting - and they make perfect sense. I look at Parker as he sleeps, and I think, "You are everything I never knew I always wanted."