We often get asked if we were always planning on having four children. Yes and No. They were all planned. Some by us. Some indirectly by us. Some by God. But planned they were.
Let me tell you about our (planning) journey
We were married for only 6 months when we found out we were pregnant. The second line was oh-so-light, but it was there. We were happy-suprised-shocked. We were also halfway through our season working overseas, and far away from family. Also, my mom was over the moon!
Two days later, I started having terrible cramps. Not knowing anything about anything, I just assumed the test was wrong and I was starting my period. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced and my poor husband just cradled and rubbed my back the whole day long. That evening I finally miscarried.
I became seriously depressed, and only wanted to return to South Africa. It did not cross my mind that these two could be connected. I couldn’t be depressed about losing a baby…I only knew about the pregnancy for two days. We weren’t even that far along! But pregnant is pregnant, no matter how far along. And loss is loss. It hurt. It took us another 4 months before we could even talk about it. But when we did, we both cried for a full day, gave our baby a name, and, with help, get out of the dark hole.
Three years later…
…we were ready to start our family. Expecting to fall pregnant immediately, we found ourselves disappointed month after month after month. But after 6 months, we had two little pink lines on the pregnancy test 7am on a Sunday morning! We decided to call her Emily. The word we received from God over her life was PROVIDED. Everything she would need, God would provide her with. And oh boy, did He provide! We actually had too much clothes to fit into her baby cupboard!
And during that season -pregnancy and newborn baby – it seemed that everything in our life and hers came with this big neon sign saying “This family is provided for!” We have a million examples of how we would discuss needing a breast pump for when I returned to work, and the same day, someone would offer theirs to us – for free! Or how my boss suggested I bring Emily along to work the first few weeks to get settled with new nanny and schedule. Or how we had to be out of our flat, with nowhere to go, and received a new and better place within 2 days.
And then there were two…
So when my sister told me they were expecting their first and that I should also do a pregnancy test because “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be pregnant together!!??” we were actually ready to start trying for number 2. The test (done under protest) showed, however, that no need to start trying – we’re already expecting! Our due dates were two days apart. Oh what an amazing privilege to share this with my sister!
We decided to name our son (oh my husband literally shouted YES at the sonar!) Alexander. The word we both felt for this child was BACK TO BASICS. We weren’t exactly sure how this would apply to his or our life, but we were sure to find out very soon…
Already on our downward financial spiral of debt and credit cards, we could’t afford many new things for our baby boy, so he made do with a normal towel instead of a blue baby towel. And got to wear a lot of his sister’s hand-me-downs. And when the stress of going back to work got too much for me, I stopped breastfeeding and switched to formula. Not that there’s anything wrong with formula, but we already had no extra money – we had to cancel our medical aid, no more nanny, cancelled Emily’s swimming lessons, were behind on rent and the car payments, and so I felt ridiculously guilty for not being able to produce enough milk free of charge.
I still remember the day I had to phone my dad and ask for help with nappies. We felt so ashamed not being able to look after our own family. (I have an amazing dad who helped within minutes, and even brought a couple bags groceries while I cried holding my two babies…) We went back to basics in every aspect of the word. Grew vegetables. Cloth nappies. Stretched food for days. Everything to get us grounded again.
This is where planning gets seriously relative…
A year later, on our 8th anniversary, I went along to my sister’s gynae appointment and while we were there, asked her to do a pregnancy test because I was a little late. I had to phone my husband from the car in tears and tell him; “We’re pregnant. Again. Happy Anniversary, Babe.”
Although we always wanted three children, the planning was a little off. We were just starting to get our finances back in order, saving again, and planned to get back on our medical aid so we can start trying for number 3 in a year. I felt so judged. We had ridiculous comments from strangers to friends to even our family, asking if it was a “oopsie”, whether we don’t watch television, and the worst; did we want her.
The word we received for this precious human being was NEW. And JOY. But she hid her gender from us for almost 7 months. We didn’t know how or where we were going to deliver her. Planning for this baby was not happening. In addition to that, we couldn’t find a name. I didn’t feel joy. And struggled through people’s judgement and unwanted advice. But that’s when we decided to lean 100% on God’s promise for this child to bring forth something NEW that will bring JOY. We named her Nika Alanah. This means precious child of victory, and joy.
We were added to a family member’s medical aid that completely covered this c-section birth at a private Medi-clinic hospital, when no other medical aid would cover an already pregnant woman. (They were the last medical aid to still do that in South Africa, but that policy was changed the month after Nika was born.) The day we left hospital, we received notification that the house we had our eyes set on, was available for us to move into within two months. (Yes, I packed up our little flat within a month with a newborn wrapped to me) This wonderful joyful child brought with her birth the NEW and JOY we were promised. Our lives were changed!
Wouldn’t that be nice if the story ended there?
We also thought it was a good place to end this chapter in our lives. But two years later, a month before hubby’s vasectomy, we received the news of this GIFT:
This little human was absolutely meant to be. And we could not and would not ever had wanted it any other way. She is the GIFT we were promised. Undeserved, given without expecting it, and such a beautiful blessing. Again, the word gift spilled over from the pregnancy right into the fabric of our whole being for this season. We decided to call her Anibelle-Mae. “Ani” is Hawaiian for beautiful. “Belle” is French for beautiful. “Mae” means gift. Our beautiful gift.
Now our family feels complete. No, we’re not planning on having more children. But as we’ve learned; never say never. This family is blessed to be full. They all fit together like a perfect 6-piece puzzle, without one piece, we just wouldn’t be complete.
What are your children’s names? What do they mean? We’d love to hear from you on how their names’ meaning have been evident in your/their lives. We’re doing a follow-up with more real-life stories from people like you! Please comment below, and we’ll contact you to hear more!