Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Story of My Caleb

My baby boy turned two about 45 minutes ago. I can't believe it. This baby whom I never dreamed I'd have, is here and he's two. He's one of the great loves of my life and he's two years old already. Time really is flying by and I am enjoying the ride.


So, let's go back in time to 1996. Steve and I got married in August of that year. We knew we wanted children. We talked about it quite a bit. He wanted at least four (he's the youngest of seven) and I wanted a maximum of three. I figured, it is my body doing the work so I get the final say. Three it will be!

We had our first in 1999 and the twins followed in 2002. As far as twin pregnancies and labors go, mine were fairly straight forward and uncomplicated. Don't let that fool you, though. I'm 5'4'' tall and I carried two babies to 36 weeks. I was partially bedrested for the last six weeks. This would have been heavenly - imagine watching movies and reading books all day - had I not had a two year old who needed me and whom I needed. Two year olds don't understand why mommy can't get up to play choo choos with you or give you horsie rides. Mommies have a hard time understanding, too.

I delivered my two little monkeys and delivering two babies one right after the other did all sorts of unpleasant things that I won't even get into. Follow that up with a raging bout of post-partum depression that I didn't share with anyone. You didn't hear about it much in those days. And, while I knew something was wrong, no one was going to take my babies away from me! All of this to say....I was done! No more babies coming from my body!

While I truly did not want to be pregnant again (remember, I run the "risk" of twins), I had this sense, this feeling, this weight that persistently veiled itself around me. It was the feeling that someone was missing. There was a little Beatty Ruff that had not yet arrived into our family. This person was an important thread in the tapestry that is our family. Without it, we were incomplete. So, the adoption discussions began. Steve had always known that I was interested in adoption. During 2006 he began to show interest as well. I was overjoyed. I "knew" that this was going to happen. God and the universe would send us our fourth child. She (because this way we'd have the girls' room and the boys' room) would hail from Latin America as a nod to my Panamanian roots. We researched adoption agencies. We picked one. We decided on Guatemala. We filled out paperwork. I was getting to know people on the boards and beginning to follow their adoption journeys, learning from them the joys and frustrations of of adoption. We went to a meeting. At this meeting they showed a video that featured a song by Rosie Thomas. I hadn't even known who Rosie Thomas was until a few months before that. A friend of mine from Seattle had sent me one of her cds, just because. This song was a sign that all was progressing as it should. I was elated. As we walked out of the agency, I was ready to start writing checks and to invite social workers into our home. However, it was not to be. To embark on a journey as important as this one, both parents need to be on board. Steve was not. His intuition told him that this was not our path. I cried for two days. I was mad at Steve. I was mad at God. How could God have imprinted this need for a fourth child onto my heart and then not followed through? Remember, I didn't want four children.

The time that followed was dark. I blamed Steve. I blamed God. I ignored the feeling, but it wouldn't go away. We got a dog. I expected it to fill this hole in my heart. I love my Pooh like crazy, but he's a dog. You can't fit a dog into a baby sized hole.

We had some other issues surface during this time. So, we sought counseling. This was the best investment in our marriage we have ever made. We were both humbled by what we learned and continue to carry those lessons with us. I also saw this therapist on my own. During this time, I also met a person who has some incredible spiritual gifts. She calls herself a psychic. I see her as my spiritual healer. The decision was made (and I hope I shared a sense of how difficult this decision was) to get pregnant again.

Now this next tidbit doesn't have anything to do with the story, really. It is more of a side note, but one that I find interesting. Having four children is not "normal" in our society. It is a lot of work and people just don't "do" that anymore. So, I was shocked and disappointed that when we announced our pregnancy, there were some negative comments. "I hope you are having your tubes tied after this." "Oh my God, are you crazy?" Don't get me wrong, almost all the comments were joyful and supportive, but not all of them. I don't care what pregnancy it is, or how many children as family has - you just don't say things like this - to your friends. This child is just as important as the first, or the second or the third.

Back to the story. I was determined that this pregnancy was not going to wreak havoc on my body like the second one did. I worked out, I saw my therapist and my spiritual healer. I talked to my dr. about depression and was prepared with meds as soon as the baby was born. If all my pregnancies had been this good, I might have had four (or more) children a whole lot sooner!

At the ultrasound we found out it was a boy and started thinking if names. I liked Henry. Steve liked Eli. We had loosely decided on Eli Henry. However....Steele is a family name on my side of the family. A name that I had always wanted to use. Also, years before I had a student named Caleb. He was the most delightful boy. I remember thinking when my student moved on to sixth grade that if I ever had another boy, I'd name him Caleb.

Now we are are at March 2008. I was at work waiting to pick up my class from their specialist time. I started talking to the baby and calling him, "Caleb." I completely surprised myself. We had not made an official decision about a name. And, Caleb, while on the short list, was not at the top. I shared this experience with Steve that night. He said that something similar had happened to him that day. He'd been thinking of the baby as Caleb that day, as well. So, it was a no brainer. The baby would be named, Caleb - Caleb Steele.

[Image] A week later I was at my Bible Study. The group was looking up something related to the reading for that day and I decided to look up Caleb. I knew Caleb was an Old Testament name. Our two other boys also have Old Testament names, this name choice worked well with the others. That was the extent of my knowledge. We chose the other two names because of their meaning. I felt I needed to know more about this name that had fallen into our laps. Caleb, it turns out, was a contemporary of Moses. While Moses did not make it to the Promised Land, Caleb did. You see, God permitted Caleb to enter this land because he was a man of great faith. I remember tears welling up in my eyes at this moment. My journey, while bumpy, was a journey of faith. God named my baby and in doing so reminded me to have faith - to continue having faith - because He is by our side and He is always faithful.

Now, as I look at my beautiful boy, I am struck by just how faithful God has been. Our tapestry is complete. We are all at the table. God showed me that my way is not always the way....that there is joy and peace in following His way. Do I remember this all the time? No. Do I practice this as much as I should? No. But, when I'm down and feeling like God has forgotten me and those whom I love, I look at Caleb and am reminded to have faith. What a beautiful gift. Thank you, God, for my boy. Happy Birthday little love bug! Mommy loves you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Uff!

Two quick anecdotes from our "Ruff" life the past two days:

1.  Paw Paw to Sam: What city do the MN Twins play for? (Sam is a big fan!)
     Sam:  St. Paul and St. Louis Park!

2.  Not more than 10 minutes ago I was putting laundry away.  Caleb went into my closet.  I heard him pulling out some paint cans his dad had stored in there after painting the upstairs bathroom today.  I kept putting clothes into my dresser and the kids' various piles.  Then, I went to hang up my blouses and guess what I found?  Yup.  Caleb had opened one of the cans and had his hands in the paint.  There was paint on his pjs, his face and the carpet.  We got it all off of him.  He cried and pointed to the closet while saying, "yogurt!"  Now, does anyone know how to get it out of the carpet?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Latin dancing

One of the things that I love about my children's school is that they are exposed to so many different cultures, especially latin american cultures. Sadly, I have not done a very good job of keeping the Panamanian culture alive in our home. Luckily, though, the kids' school offers an extra-curricular folkloric dance program. It's a little (ok a lot)  more structured than our family dance parties! My oldest participated for several years. This year was the first for the twins. They had the opportunity to get all dressed up and dance a Peruvian polka, la pitita. They also dance with partners that were not each other! Though, it's not a panamanian dance, it's a step in the right direction! I hope you enjoy their dance!