Today I got to spend some one-on-one time with this little guy:
There was a time, long ago, when we had only 4 kids and thought we would keep it that way. Matt even had a vasectomy scheduled. But a series of events unfolded, beginning with pitchers of margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Wauwatosa, WI and ending with me in a bathroom stall at the health clinic, a baby and a toddler sitting on the floor, a pink pee-pee stick in my hand. We were officially Expecting.
It was not a convenient time to add another child to our family. We were living on less than $60,000 a year, dipping monthly into the red, banking on the hope that Matt would eventually be promoted to captain on the MD-80 at Midwest Express. Considering our family size, we were within $5,000 of qualifying for free lunch at the elementary school.
I was sure Matt would be upset when I told him. I was upset! But, thankfully, he smiled and hugged me when I told him. We immediately embraced the existence of the new baby and considered ourselves Parents of Five. This is a photo of the weekend we first knew I was pregnant. I remember feeling like we had a secret we were keeping safe from the world:
But after a few days I developed a urinary tract infection. And I started spotting. The nurse at the clinic was quick to offer medicine for the UTI and a somber prognosis for the pregnancy. It was unlikely that it would hold.
The spotting continued for days. A week passed. We still held out hope that this tiny little son or daughter would stay alive. I went to St. Mary's in Milwaukee for an ultrasound. The screen showed a defined mass but no heartbeat. Our happy little surprise, the seventh member of our family, had died.
I allowed myself one short cry. I sobbed. It was cathartic to weep from deep in my soul for the loss of a life -- a potential life really -- just the idea of what that life might have been. Then I drove home and was smothered by children: Louie, who was only 6, Henry, still 4, Donny, just turned 3, and Baby Jo only 8 months old and barely weaned. It was close to Halloween, the night of trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. This is the actual evening I came home from that hospital ultrasound. I think my face is still swollen from crying so hard:
That was October. Throughout November I couldn't shake the feeling of having lost something. Although it was never a tangible, visible, cuddle-able baby -- although our family was still and had never been more than a family of 6 -- I had imagined the 7th Holm so powerfully that I didn't want to live without it. I needed to get that baby back.
So although the official marital policy was "let's see what happens", I will admit here and now to using my womanly wiles to intentionally manipulate the connubial climate during just the right weekend in December...
And now we have this: