Plot Twist

So, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a planner. I like order. Predictability. I don’t like cleaning, but I prefer the house to be in a reasonable state of order and cleanliness. Chaos makes me crazy.

Then God laughed and gave me 5 children.

Fortunately, I also love learning. And parenting has been the greatest learning experience of my life. When people say things like, “Wow, 5 kids. You must have so much patience,” I respond, “No, actually, I don’t. But I’m learning it.” Or they might say, “Wow, five kids. You must be incredibly organized,” I answer, “Not really. But I’m learning a few tricks.” Or…well, you get the idea. And yes, any comment based on the fact that we have five children is generally preferenced with “Wow.”

That’s how I feel about it too. Wow.

Philip and I pretty much thought our family was complete. We have four beautiful daughters. We have our exclamation point on the end son. We agreed on five kids before we were married. Five kids, spread over a reasonable amount of time, finishing before Philip hit 40, because he didn’t want to be an “old” parent.

Well, some of those conditions remain. But the five kids thing has been overruled by a will greater than ours.
plot twist
Because yes, we now have another plot twist in our life story: another baby is on the way.

I’m as shocked as you are.

Actually, I’ve known for a long time now. But it took a while for the news to really sink in. And then I had literally no symptoms and thought maybe something else was going on with my health. It took longer to get in to see my midwives than I thought it would.

So, even though by the calendar I should be around 16-17 weeks, I only saw a midwife this week.

Everything was going along just fine. Blood work taken and I didn’t pass out or throw up (two reactions I had in my first two pregnancies before I got the hang of the whole “You’re taking how many vials of blood?!” thing). No negative symptoms. No questions. No problems.

Until the midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat.

Those are tense moments. First they squirt more goo on you. The doppler gets pushed a little more firmly into your belly. Things get uncomfortable in more than one way. My midwife switched dopplers because “I think this one has a short in it.”


I’ve had enough pregnancies to know what a baby’s heartbeat sounds like. I know it sounds different from mine. There’s nothing else like the swish-swish, that rapid flutter.

I also know what it’s like not to hear that sound.

This time my husband was with me, at least. We waited together while the midwife tried, on the afternoon of December 23, to get us in at the hospital for a real ultrasound. She was encouraging but worried. Finally, she sent us to maternity triage, since the ultrasound offices were completely booked. She continued calling them, asking them to fit us in, but meanwhile, the midwife on call on the maternity level would try to get us in there and check things out. We had to wait in the maternity waiting room while we wondered what would happen next.

There are few experiences as clarifying as sitting in a hospital gown in a hospital room by yourself. Everything gets smaller. What matters becomes distilled. You also ask yourself a lot of questions. Things like: I wonder if it was because I took ibuprofen a few times? What did I do wrong? Should I have taken it easier instead of going about life as normal? Why do we have to go through this again?

It seemed like a long time but it really wasn’t, before they let Philip come back with me. He stood by me and held my hand. We waited together. And then the midwife on call said some encouraging things before she tried the portable ultrasound machine – really, the largest thing in the tiny triage room and even larger in my mind. So much depending on what that equipment would show. She said, “If we see the heartbeat, then OK, Baby just likes drama, and you go home and everything is good. If we don’t, well, I’ll call a resident and we’ll see where we go from there.”

I wondered if they would send me home for Christmas with a dead baby inside. I didn’t ask her.

More goo. Another doppler wand. Flickering images.

Baby’s head. Baby’s hands.

Baby’s heart, beating.

Baby moving around, avoiding the ultrasound, avoiding being captured. The midwife tried to get a picture, something tangible to take home to show that our baby was real and thriving, but the baby (still don’t know whether we’re thinking blue or pink) wasn’t having it. So we don’t have any pictures. Just the most important image: a little chambered heart pulsing away.

I suspect we’re going to have our hands full with this one.

So, six wasn’t really in the plan, but God’s plans are always better than our own. A baby brother for the iBoy would be fun, but, then again, five girls would be awesome too. We’re going to need a van that seats another person. We’ll have to do some bedroom re-arranging.

But our hearts have already grown to love the newest family member, and every flutter inside is a welcome reminder that, yes, this is a lively, spirited child with a mind of his / her own.


The stocking on the end is for the newest member of the family!

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  1. Congratulations! Babies are wonderful! My sister had to upgrade her van when she had her sixth. They got a good deal from public transport. It was a commuter van, so it had been well taken care of. Just an idea for you when you start looking.

    Congratulations again! Prayers for a healthy pregnancy and baby!

  2. I had a “can’t find the heartbeat” at 16 weeks that resulted in a portable ultrasound machine that showed our third son wouldn’t be born alive. And then with our last one at 16 weeks the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat and there’s nothing more tense. Thankfully, that one too was just a wiggly baby who didn’t like being monitored. I can’t imagine going that long waiting! I’m so thankful for you that your little plot twist baby is still kicking! Praise God!

    • I’m always so sorry to hear that anyone had to go through that experience, Mystie. For us it was 14 weeks and our first son. God was with me then too, but I’m so grateful it turned out differently this time. It definitely makes me want to savour every moment and never take any minute of my children’s lives for granted. (Even the really crazy ones.)

  3. Wow, wow, wow!! And not “wow” at having six (!) ;) but wow at your amazing, beautiful story. Congratulations and Merry Christmas. We always pay for expecting mamas. You are now on our list!

  4. This was beautifully written. You have another reader.

  5. Congratulations!!!!! So happy for you all!!!!! :)

  6. Congratulations, Karen! I am sorry for your scare but thrilled that everything is OK. It took me a long time to adjust to the idea of Joshua given that he was a surprise, but he has been the greatest blessing in our lives and family. Wishing you the best, healthiest pregnancy!

  7. Congratulations to you! My last baby was very wiggly and also wouldn’t show up on the nurse’s device. Luckily for me my OB has an ultrasound machine right there so I didn’t have to wait very long.

    May you have a beautifully healthy and easy pregnancy. :)

  8. Oh, congratulations! And: how scary. I’m glad it turned out well this time. ♥ God keeps us on our toes, doesn’t He?