“Who’s the extra place at the table for?” our boys asked
“A new Washburn,” we replied as they all stared back with jaws dropped.
That was a conversation that happened at our dinner table a few years back when we announced that someone new was joining our family.
Little did they know that their world of dirt, Legos, and Nerf swords would soon be invaded by pink, princesses, and braids.
Some people close to us might know that Janette and I had our share of issues when it came to having children.
Before our oldest was born, we dealt with several years of struggle and heartache, infertility and miscarriages.
Like many others who have walked that road, it was a struggle for both of us and a test of our faith.
Many prayers were prayed, asking why, asking God to bless us with a child and to walk with us during that dry time.
In the middle of it, we really didn’t know what the future would hold.
Along Came Baby
Then, like had happened before, we found out Janette was pregnant again.
Of course, given our history, it was hard to really get excited until the pregnancy was farther along.
In the back of our minds there was still a nagging thought that it wouldn’t last.
Would this one end like the others? We weren’t sure.
But, by God’s mercy, she went full term and we welcomed our firstborn into the world… a boy.
It was a truly amazing experience, especially considering where we were coming from.
One Two Three
Then, as if the fertility floodgates had opened wide, the next three years brought two more boys into our fold.
We found ourselves with three boys in diapers, making quite long days for Janette, trying to keep up with them and their collective craziness.
She did an amazing job, as if she was designed to be a boy mom.
We felt very blessed to not only have one child, but to have three healthy young boys at home.
And yet, after our youngest son was born, we still felt that we weren’t done yet. We had prayed about it and really felt like we were supposed to have at least one more.
But something had changed
I’m not sure what happened, but just as quickly as we had gone from years of drought to years of plenty… the tables turned again.
We began to stare months and months of disappointment in the face. It was so confusing to us.
And yet at the same time, it made me stand even more in awe of our Creator and to respect the miracle of life.
At one point, when we had been married for fifteen years, my wife realized that we had spent half of them dealing with these issues.
Why is it so easy for some to have children and not others? Why did we go from drought to babies to nothing again? I didn’t have any answers.
Signs, signs, everywhere a sign
We continued to feel like God was speaking to us through various signs along the way. From generic things like continuing to receive baby formula coupons several years after our last child to other, crazier signs.
One night, when stopped at a stop sign, I saw three little deer cross the street, one after another. Then, right as I was about to take off, here came another one running across.
Janette had similar experiences, such as people she knew casually telling her things like “You have four kids, right?”
It was those signs that kept it in our minds that maybe God still had something in store for us.
And yet, the years began to tick along with nothing more happening. Were we just imagining things or was this something that God still planned to do? We wanted to trust Him either way.
I’m thankful for the many who prayed with us, for us, and over us during those times. I know that God heard each word
Years had passed. We found ourselves eight years removed from bringing home our youngest son. We had settled into life with our three boys and loved our family dynamics.
It was then that God decided that it was time for that next chapter He had hinted at.
One night Janette took a test. I asked her what it said.
Her response: “You’d better finish off our attic because we’re going to need some more space”
After that long drought, Janette was indeed pregnant again. We had such mixed emotions.
This is what we had felt He was leading us towards over all those years and yet we were pretty comfortable with our family of five. Were we ready for all of that to change?
Well, when God changes things up, He does it big. Not only were we adding a fourth, it would be a girl… our first.
Here comes our princess
And so, five years ago we welcomed our long-promised precious baby girl into a family that didn’t know we were missing her until she arrived.
Now, we can’t imagine life without her spunky little personality, bracelets and necklaces, and beautiful smile.
Our boys, whose jaws dropped when they found out they were getting a sibling, now love playing with her, helping her build lego creations, and teaching her how to properly handle a Nerf sword and a football.
That fourth little deer that had made its way in front of my car all of those years before… has now made its way into my heart.
Now it’s hard to remember life without her. She has so filled our life with joy and is a constant reminder…to never give up.