Josh turned off the TV and cleared his throat.
"Guys, we need to have a serious family talk. Come have a seat."
Eisley and Jake bounced onto the sofa and Josh and I looked at each other and took a deep breath.
"You know Kim had an ultrasound and the doctors told her the baby's brain looked funny?" I said calmly.
"Yeah," Jake said. Eisley nodded her head.
I took a deep breath and prayed that God would show me how to explain this to them.
"Well, she had another appointment today. Remember when I was on the phone in the car? They were calling to tell us that the baby is so sick, that she won't be able to live for very long after she's born."
Eisley opened her arms as high and wide as they could possibly go and looked up to the heavens.
"WHY DOES GOD KEEP DOING THIS TO OUR FAMILY??? HOW MANY BABIES ARE GONNA DIE?"
I struggled inwardly between bursting into tears and swallowing a smile that was creeping up in my throat. I felt exactly the same way. My kids always seem to express the very thoughts we are all thinking but have trained ourselves not to say, whether it be from fear of social awkwardness or being struck by lightning.
I stroked her hair and tried to come up with an explanation. "I don't know baby. I am so sad this is happening too. I just don't understand why, but I know Jesus loves us so much."
Jake bounced up and down on the couch. "This is so cwazy! This is our fowth baby to die in our family! I feel like giving up!"
Josh put his arm around Jake and sighed. "I know buddy. But you know how sometimes you guys want something and we say no, or we tell you that you have to wait? That's because we're smarter than you and we know what's best for you, even though we love you so so much we still have to say no sometimes. God is saying no right now, but that doesn't mean He doesn't love us. He is so much smarter than us and He knows what we need."
"It is okay to be sad and frustrated and angry," I said. "Even we feel that way. But no matter what, we have to trust that God loves us and knows what is best for us. Do you understand that?"
Both kids nodded, and I realized I was trying to convince myself just as much as I was trying to convince them. Please, Lord, let what I'm saying be true, I thought.
"What we need to remember is that Kim is the one who is very, very sad right now. We need to be praying for her. I'm sure she feels the way I did when I had Lily in my tummy and the doctors said she died."
"What are we gonna name this baby?" Jake asked. "How about...Heavenly?"
I smiled and looked at Josh. "That is such an awesome name. We will just have to wait and see, okay? Kim gets to pick her name, but I think we will get to help. Maybe we should wait and see her first."
Jake bounced again. "I think if we have sixteen babies die, we should definitely give up!"
"Okay. If we have sixteen babies die, I promise we'll give up. Deal?" I asked.
Jake thought for a moment. "Okay, deal."
I thought to myself how much we were damaging them, when all we wanted to do was make them a big brother and sister. What had we done? What would life be like if we had stopped after the two of them? What kind of people would we be? They have known so much disappointment, so much heartbreak. I had to ask them...
"Do you guys want to stop trying to have a baby? Do you just want to be happy with the family we have?"
Eisley answered first, "I don't wanna stop trying, I just want these babies to stop dying! It feels like I'm never gonna be a big sister!"
Jake chimed in, "I think the next baby will not die. Hopefully, this is gettin' cwazy!"
Josh and I took a deep breath.We are 28 years old, I thought. God is giving us way too much responsibility, having to have conversations like this and be responsible for the moral outlook of two humans. Were we doing it right?
"You know what, this just sucks. It just does," I said. "But I just know that God has such a great plan for our family. Our job right now is to pray for Kim and her baby, and make sure she knows how much Jesus loves her."
"Maybe we can convince Kim to become a Chwistian." Jake said.
I smiled at him. "Well, we don't convince people to be Christians Jake. They decide to love Jesus all by themselves. But maybe if Kim sees how much we love Jesus, she will want to love Him too."
"Yeah." Jake said. Both kids were quiet now. The conversation had run its course. I remember hearing that you should never give kids more information than they could handle or than they wanted. The problem with our kids is that they can handle so much more than the typical kid. They always have so many questions, and we have never felt like hiding the truth from them was the right thing to do.
"Okay, well we're gonna keep praying, and we're gonna just see what happens okay?" Josh said.
And then we turned on Good Luck Charlie. And that was that.
Josh left the next day for a trip out of town, and I was on my own with the babies. They spent the day with their grandparents while I worked, and when I picked them up, we went to Target. They had spent four months earning marbles through various chores and good deeds, and, as promised, got to pick out a toy as a reward for all their hard work after finally filling their jars to the brim.
We had so much fun browsing the aisles, debating our purchases. I sprung for new lunch boxes on top of it, seeing as they will soon be starting first grade, and every first grader needs a really cool lunch box. They each picked out a very cool toy, and I rationalized buying Lunchables for dinner for a million different reasons, all valid in my opinion.
We stayed up much later than six year olds should, watching Good Luck Charlie on Netflix and playing with our new toys. After a somewhat emotional breakdown by Jake, I swiftly put them to bed. Jake fell asleep like a rock after I tucked him in, but Eisley obviously wanted extra mommy time.
She was being so whiny, and she is never whiny. Eisley is a mature Christian woman trapped in a first graders body, and conversations with her are always wonderful. But tonight she was just not herself. I asked her what was bothering her as she tried to get comfortable in her stuffed animal infested bed.
"Nothing! I'm just upset!"
Here it comes. I could feel it.
"What are you upset about baby doll? It will feel so much better if you talk about it."
She started bawling. Crocodile tears, go get the tissue box, shoulder shrugging tears.
"I AM WORRIED THAT NO ONE WILL GIVE ME ATTENTION WHEN THE BABY COMES!!! ALL THE PEOPLE GAVE YOU ATTENTION AT THE BABY SHOWER AND NOT ME!"
Well that was out of nowhere. Eisley has talked non stop about how special our baby shower was. She has never expressed anything but utter joy at the thought of having a new baby. She has never mentioned jealousy, or a fear of being replaced by the baby. I smelled a cover-up.
"That's really what you're upset about sweetheart? You know we will still give you gobbles and gobbles of attention when the baby comes. I will need you so much to help me! Plus the baby will sleep all the time, and that's boring. I will need you to play with me! Are you sure you aren't upset about something else? Are you upset that you have to wait even longer now to be a big sister?"
Eisley looked like something clicked in her brain. So that's why I'm sad, I could see her thinking.
"YES! IT ISN'T FAIR AT ALL!!! WHEN WILL I BE A BIG SISTER?!? WHY DOES GOD KEEP DOING THIS TO OUR FAMILY?!? IT ISN'T FAIR THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE HAD NO BABIES DIE AND WE HAVE HAD FOUR BABIES GONNA DIE! THAT'S NOT EVEN AT ALL!!!"
No kidding, I thought. I have struggled myself with the utter "unevenness" of our losses stacked against the oodles of healthy babies some people have. As a six year old, though, the injustice of it all was just too much to bear.
"I don't know baby. It just isn't fair, I know it feels like that. I feel so sad too. I feel so angry at God sometimes. It's okay for you to feel that way, and it's okay to cry and cry. Go ahead and cry and cry."
And she did. She cried and she cried. And I shushed and I shushed and I stroked her hair and I wished Josh was there to help me.
She hiccuped and continued spilling her little heart. "I just wanna be the ones to have a baby and have people bring us meals! I wanna be the ones that has a baby and people come over to hold it and feel jealous of us that we have such a cute baby and wish they didn't have to go home but then they have to give the baby back to me because it's actually my baby!! I wanna be the ones with a baby that lives at our house!"
We recently took a meal to friends who had a new baby. Eisley got to hold him and we spent some time chatting about new babies and all that came with them. Apparently it stuck with her more than I realized.
"I know baby girl. I want that too. It will be so fun when we have a new baby and people come to visit us and everyone will tell you what a great big sister you are. And then they will have to give the baby back and go home, just like we do for other people's babies."
She wiped her tears and continued. "It just feels like I'm never gonna be a big sister! I'm worried that I'm gonna be ten before I'm a big sister!"
"Oh baby," I tried to comfort her. "I don't think you're gonna be ten."
Suddenly I remembered the story of Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. What genius! I could tell her a Bible story completely applicable to the situation, and what a great mother I would be, telling her a Bible story to teach her a valuable lesson.
I told her how there was a true story in the Bible about a man named Abraham and a woman named Sarah. They wanted a baby sooooo badly, but they kept trying and trying and Sara never got pregnant. All of her friends got pregnant, and had lots of babies, and Sarah cried (I improvised some of this, but I'm pretty sure my logic was spot on. You don't get pregnant for years, you spend many a night crying into your pillow. Even if God didn't write that part down.)
I told Eisley how Sarah got older and older and older and still they couldn't have a baby. I told her how they would pray every night for a baby, but God did not give them one (I skipped the whole, Abraham knocked some other chick up to carry on his family name, but I think you'll all excuse the edit considering the audience). I told her how they got so old that they both got gray hair, and Sarah's friends started having grandbabies, and she still didn't even have a baby. Sarah thought it was so unfair. She thought she would never be a mommy.
Then I told her how God told Abraham one day, that He was finally going to give him a baby! A son! I told her how Abraham just couldn't believe it, and how he laughed out loud and said, "But I'm an old man! I have gray hair! Sarah is old and has wrinkles and all her friends have grandbabies! She can't have a baby!" And I told Eisley that indeed, Sarah did get pregnant, and she had a son, FINALLY! And they named him Isaac, because Isaac means laughter, and it was so hilarious seeing Sara be pregnant even though she was super old (again, I'm sure she'll read the actual version someday, this was the six year old version, you'll excuse the errors).
I smiled at my wonderful parenting. Surely Eisley would glean from this story that even though we may have to wait a long time, God will give us the desires of our hearts.
"YOU'RE GONNA BE HAVING GRAY HAIR WHEN WE FINALLY HAVE A BABY?!?!?! WHY DON'T I JUST HAVE MY OWN BABIES BY THEN?!? IF YOU'RE GONNA BE SUPER OLD I WILL JUST DO IT MYSELF!!!"
Okay. Or that could happen.
"No, baby, I don't think I'm gonna have gray hair. I just think that God makes us wait longer than we want to sometimes. We just need to be patient."
This was not going at all how I wanted it to. Forget that conversation, this entire process was not going at all how I wanted it to. I felt terrible. What business did I have explaining things to Eisley when I didn't understand them myself?
I took a deep breath and tucked her in. "Sweetheart, I am so sorry you are hurting. You can be upset and cry and feel frustrated. But you have to trust that Jesus loves you. I love you, and your daddy loves you, and everything is going to be okay. I promise."
She was so tired. She had nothing else to say.
"Things will look so much brighter and happier in the morning. Things always seem so much worse at night when it is dark and we are tired. Go to sleep baby doll."
And she did.
I wanted to share all of this with you for a few reasons. First, I want to remember it someday when these conversations become blurry. Second, I think the perspective and hearts of little children are just amazing. You are better people for being a fly on the wall of those conversations. I know I am better having been there. It broke my heart, seeing my babies hurt like that. Being a parent is so very hard. But someone told me that Jake and Eisley are learning such very hard, very valuable lessons earlier in life than most people, and they will be better for it. I hope so with all of my heart.
My greatest fear is that we are damaging them, putting them through all of this. But then I see how simply happy they are. How much joy they have, despite everything they've been through. Jake and Eisley have amazing, wonderful, completely fabulous lives. They are developing sensitive hearts and empathetic souls through all of this, and I can't wait to see the people they become and the things they do because of what they have seen.
We may have some very hard conversations sometimes, but we also have more fun than any family I know. They are fine, even if I have to remind myself of that from time to time. They will be the most gracious and thankful big brother and big sister this world has ever seen, because it wasn't forced upon them against their will, but granted to them after years of wishing and praying and hoping.
The vision of them holding their new brother or sister for the first time, examining their tiny toes and fingers and laughing when they toot...it makes my heart smile.
And it makes all of this worth the wait.