The moment I woke up Monday morning I knew something was off. I felt so agitated and overwhelmed. My head was spinning as I thought about all of the things that I had to get done at school in preparation for maternity leave. I had too much to do before the baby came and my time frame to get it done was closing in on me with each passing minute.
It took me the entire day to process what I was feeling. Yes, I did have to wrap up stuff at school but as I lay in bed that night, I realized the true reason behind my anxious feeling was the fact that I was embarking on a new chapter of life…. I was about to become a mom without a mom.
13 years ago, on January 29, 2010, our mother was killed in a car accident.
I remember that Friday morning like it was yesterday. I was sitting in geography class when
Abby holding baby Phil circa 2010.
I was pulled into the hallway by our school counselor and told that someone was there to pick me up. I was shaking with excitement as I thought to myself “I bet this is the day I become an aunt! Is my sister Leah having her baby?”
Unfortunately, when we got to the hospital, we were not greeted by a new life…. we were met with the most horrific news. Our mom was in a car accident, and she did not make it.
13 years later that same tragedy was striking as not only an emotional wound but as a physical affliction. I was experiencing high blood pressure that was putting my pregnancy at risk. How was I supposed to become a parent and mother a baby after all these years without someone there mothering me?
I feel the sting of Abby’s words with every fiber of my body. How many times have I asked myself that question? How can I be a mom without a mom here to show me how?
The morning of mom’s accident I was busy doing my hair and makeup to head out the door to my 38-week OB doctor appointment for my very first baby. My husband, who at that time farmed with his dad 3 miles away, uncharacteristically walked through the front door. I was thrilled! I thought he was going to head to the doc with me and was excited to have his company.
But his face betrayed otherwise. “Leah, you aren’t going to that doctor's appointment. Your dad called and told me to pick you up and bring you to the hospital. All he said was that there had been an accident.”
We had NO CLUE what to expect. Who was in the accident? How serious was it? I clutched my rosary beads as we did the only thing we knew to do in a time like this- pray.
We got to the hospital 40 minutes later and met my dad in the ER.
I refused to believe what he told me, and until the funeral a few days later would sob all night long, begging God to end this cruel joke.
Dad told us girls he wanted us to always look up when we thought of Mom, so we released balloons in her honor while they lowered her casket into the ground.
A week earlier than expected, my water broke, and our baby was on the way! My body was not experiencing contractions and with my steadily rising blood pressure, my midwife sent us to the hospital. The homebirth that I desperately desired was off the table.
On the way to the hospital, I took a deep breath and said to my husband, “I have been praying for a healthy baby and a safe delivery. If delivering this baby at the hospital will give me that, then I accept!”
That small act of surrender was enough to lower my blood pressure, and by the grace of God, I was able to have a natural delivery without added interventions or medications. Our baby girl is here and she is safe and healthy!
Precious Little Nora
There is no doubt that my mother was interceding during the birth of our sweet baby. It was like she was saying, “I know my self-reliant daughter, Abby. I will not let her do this alone.” My mom has been speaking through my older sisters as they shared the raw truth about labor and the earliest postpartum days. My mom had to have been working through the hands of my brilliant and skilled midwife. She saw me through all of our prenatal and now postnatal care. Finally, I felt a strong sense that my mom hand-selected the nursing staff that cared for us at the hospital, especially our labor and delivery nurse who was the stern voice I needed to keep going. They played such a vital role in our first steps as parents.
Abby holding sweet baby Nora
10 days after mom’s accident I gave birth to a precious little boy, Phillip; her first grandchild. She missed meeting him by a mere 10 days. It brought a little comfort knowing that he heard her voice, as mom and I giggled and chatted as we folded those tiny baby clothes just days before her death. Phillip was never able to put a face to the voice he heard of someone who loved him dearly.
Leah and her husband Adam with their new baby Phillip. Phillip was born 10 days after Mom's accident.
If I’m being completely honest with you, I still have a lot of healing to do. I closed off the events of that January day, 13 years ago, because I needed to deal with the reality of motherhood that I was thrust into so soon after. But something inside of me is changing, and for the first time in well over a decade, I allowed myself to go back and really sit with the reality of what happened and the hurt that it caused.
Perhaps it was seeing Abby’s adorable little baby and hearing about how miraculous her birth story was. Or was it that dreaded date on the calendar which haunts me every January 29? Or maybe it was the prayers of the countless individuals who have prayed for our family over the years? It is most likely a combination of all of these and the Holy Spirit finally breaking through and telling me that it’s ok and I don’t have to pretend to be strong anymore.
Our youngest sister was just a young child at 7 years old when mom died. She remarked, “Why does someone have to die for someone else to be born?” I don’t remember anyone answering her. We just let the question hang in silence.
But I want to try to answer that question today. It doesn’t, little one. It doesn’t.
Praying with Mom and the girls before Leah's Wedding
Mom may not be here physically, but she sure is busy up in heaven interceding on behalf of her growing family! We welcomed the 13th grandchild last week with more to come in the near future. What a beautiful legacy and what a joy to be able to share with you all the gift of our mom, Shirley.
Keep praying for us and we will continue to pray for you as well.
Until next time, your dear sisters in Christ,
Abby and Leah