It was around Christmastime in 2015 that we agreed we were going to try for a third child, a decision that was the result of a conversation during one of the most tumultuous times in our lives and marriage. We had just moved to Brentwood, TN right outside of Nashville and our home wasn’t even partially moved into – we literally had an air mattress, some clothes and random utensils we’d managed to grab on our way out of Atlanta. My husband had been promoted, I too had taken a promotional opportunity with a company in an entirely new-to-me industry and our suitcases were getting far more action than we would like to admit.
And yet there we found ourselves, in the middle of a discussion about whether or not to have another child. I had always wanted four kids – a nice even number that made roller coaster rides more fun because no one had to sit with a stranger. Two sets of kiddos that could become each other’s playmates, confidants and best friends. Our oldest two are the poster children for that scenario so naturally I wanted another set of kiddos just like them.
Except nature – and science – stepped in to let me know they had other plans. Long story short, on March 17, 2012, I was diagnosed with a massive DVT in my left calf that was a result of taking the birth control pill Yaz. I ended up on blood thinners and a strict diet for six months instead of working towards expanding our family. At the time of this experience I was just happy to be alive, happy that a piece of the clot hadn’t broken off and traveled to my lungs or my brain. I was thankful that my two healthy and beautiful children would still have their mother with them and my husband wouldn’t have to parent alone. When we met with the vascular surgeon who oversaw my case, he made it clear that because my clot was estrogen induced it would be wise of us to not try for any more children. While a crushing blow to the plan and dream I’d curated in my mind – I was just grateful to be having that conversation to begin with.
We moved to the Atlanta area in late 2012, early 2013, and I pushed the thought of more children to the furthest reaches of my cerebrum. After a few years of grinding it in my corporate position, making new friends and acclimating the kids to their school and activities – something was still missing. Every time I’d meet with the vascular surgeon or my OBGYN, I’d remind myself of the reasons why we were not having more children. But every time I’d leave their offices I did so with overwhelming feelings of emptiness and loneliness. Toss in another life-changing moment that occurred about a year before we moved to Tennessee, something I am not comfortable writing about just yet, and you’ve got the recipe for how the course of our lives were altered and our marriage was thrown the biggest curve ball.
“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”
I knew I wanted more children. I knew it in the depths of my heart and soul – but it wasn’t something we discussed as part of our family’s plan post-clot because there was no reason. But was there? Sometimes we are faced with moments where we have to succumb to His plans and just go with what He has placed on our hearts. So, whether it was the two bottles of red wine split between us or the fact that I had exceeded my capacity for keeping my desires to myself, I boldly and bravely approached the topic of adding to our family while sitting on that air mattress in our living room, the room lit only by the glow of our computer screens, three days after we’d just made a huge life transition. And my beautiful and loving, kind and devoted, compassionate and practical husband said, ‘okay.’
“every waiting season in my life has left its mark on me. I have memories, scars. And honestly? I don’t mind the scars anymore. They are a part of me now; I wouldn’t recognize myself without them.” – Elizabeth Laing Thompson
On Friday, September 9th, 2016 we gave birth to the most precious baby boy, Jude Alexander Smith. To most, we had waited just nine months to meet this little one, but to us, to me – we’d waited a lifetime. He is everything and more than I could have imagined coming out of one of the toughest, darkest, intense and pressure-testing times in our lives and relationship as husband and wife, raising a family and trying to make it all happen. While we waited to find out whether we’d be adding another girl or another boy to the family – in my heart of hearts, I knew. When he was born and my OB said, “it’s a boy”, I wasn’t shocked at all – I was just joyful. He was here!
We had covered a lot of ground to get to that point but every single bit of it was worth it. From daily shots in my stomach to ward off the formation of a blood clot to the extensive work travel during my pregnancy, trying to ensure everything was completed before going in to be induced; the moment we heard his first cry and he was handed to me I cried tears of happiness and pure love for this child we’d all waited so long to welcome into our world.
Jude couldn’t be more opposite of his siblings, Miriam and Luke. We thought we were the best parents with our older two children and then this little nugget of pure craziness comes along and we began to question everything we ever knew about raising a child. But Jude brings out the best in us and he truly completes our family. I always thought I needed four children to make our family complete and now I realize that God packed the cuteness, energy, charm, sass, wit and stubbornness of two kids into Jude, so we’re all good with just three! In all seriousness, he is the icing on our family’s cake, the key to us staying young and active and he is the snuggliest little rascal this side of Heaven.
Our Jude the Dude, as we affectionately call him, turns FIVE years old today and there isn’t a moment of our lives these past five years that he hasn’t made brighter, more fun-filled and tantrum challenged. And yet when I reflect on his story and what a happy, beautiful and joyful child he is, I am reminded of all of the bumps, curves, potholes and roadblocks we had to overcome in order to get to where we are today. We often joke that when we made the decision to try and add another child to our family that we must have been crazy because we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Miriam and Luke were six and eight so we were committing to starting over: nursing, diapers, teething, baby clothes, strollers…all. the. things.
Dan also says he was just humoring me thinking to himself that we’d try for the agreed upon six months and it just wouldn’t be in the cards for us. Well, I’m sure that made God laugh because the next month, on my 34th birthday I woke up realizing I was late and it wasn’t for my party. I found an old pregnancy test that had made its way from Lexington, KY to Marietta, GA to Brentwood, TN without being used…so I used it! It was positive – and as the reality settled in and the expression across my husband’s face turned from shock to ‘oh shit’ we both had to laugh because we had just put our plan into action four to six weeks earlier. We sure know how to crush goals in the Smith house!
Not a baby anymore…
These days Jude is his joyful and happy self. He is obsessed with the sanitation department in our community, Waste Management, and both the recycle man (spoon garbage man) and the garbage man (popper man) are his two favorites. He waits anxiously for them every Tuesday and Friday – and has more recycle and garbage trucks than any kid within a 250 mile radius. His favorite t-shirts are of his yellow smiley face and the “Garbage Day is My Favorite Day of the Week” which we are now on the third version of because he wore the other two out and the emblems washed off.
He is slightly obsessive compulsive so when the kid gets it in his mind he wants, needs or has to have something – good luck trying to get him to change direction or focus on something else. Like when we had to ride the escalator 8 times in Boston because he is fascinated with anything that moves that he can ride on. Or the relentlessness he proved he had for the gold cane in the CVS that reminded him of Granny Di’s that he just had to have. Don’t worry, we’re now the proud owners of a $38.99 cane that he then used to walk all over Boston with, which garnered quite the stares, laughs and looks of confusion as this four year old limped and hobbled while utilizing his newest prized possession.
Jude is creative, spunky, quirky, and oh so loving. He loves fiercely and he demands a fierce love from us. Our older two are so easy to love, they’re the best and we adore them. But Jude makes you love him. In one moment, he can single-handedly be the cause of chaos, mess and destruction while also forcing you to laugh, hug and kiss on him because he’s just so full of life that you can’t not love him. He has a love for Paw Patrol, Trash Truck (thank you so much Danielle!), The Bear and the Lemmings, and anything on Dinsley + (Disney). His newest obsession is our puppy, Nessie. These two are thick as thieves and have become the fastest of friends. Watching him love on her and snuggle up with her while watching TV makes my mama heart swell so big.
As we embark upon his last year of Pre-K and prepare ourselves for the fact that we will no longer have a baby in the house, and that all of our kiddos are sadly getting older, I am becoming more and more mindfully intentional about cherishing the moments, in the in-between, the mental and tangible snapshots of our time with him, and our other two, so as to not forget that in this season of life – he is joyfully, Jude. He is who he was made and meant to be. And my heart has never been happier.
Happy Birthday, my Ju-Jude. We love you so.