My Favorite Birthday Gift

Today is my youngest son’s 19th birthday. Years ago, when he was about 11, he was playing a numbers game out loud. “So when I’m 20, you’ll be how old?” I said, “Just add 40 to whatever age you are.” “Oh, right,” he replied. “So when I’m 40, you’ll be 80?” I nodded.

On May 3, 1999, I gave birth to Paul. It had been a difficult and challenging pregnancy but on that day, I was finally able to hold this beautiful baby boy in my arms. Two days later, May 5th, was my 40th birthday, but I remained in the hospital recuperating from a Cesarean section. My husband and older children visited me and brought me some small presents to open. James leaned down and whispered, “I feel badly that you have to be in the hospital on your birthday.” I shook my head and smiled. “No need to feel badly.” Then I kissed the beautiful, sleeping baby in my arms. “Because this is the best birthday present I could have ever received.”

My husband and I knew what we were getting into when we attempted pregnancy. Besides my history of miscarriages, we understood that I would be 40 years older than our youngest child. In many respects, I have been able to enjoy my youngest son more. Since he was my fifth child, I was comfortable with attachment parenting and didn’t feel the need to defend nursing my baby on demand and carrying him wherever I went.

My mother was 47 years old when she gave birth to my youngest sister. I remember the excitement in my mom’s voice when she showed me the “at home” pregnancy test. At the time, I was a rather cynical cafeteria Catholic, so I was a little taken aback with her positive reaction.

My youngest sister kept my mother “young” for years. As for me, I have never regretted the decision to be open to life at age 40. In fact, I have always thanked God for my “baby.”

Paul has remained my best birthday gift…ever!

copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe #prolife

Today is the beautiful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531, Our Lady appeared in Mexico to a poor Indian, Juan Diego, at a time when human sacrifice was commonplace.

The following is an excerpt from a website with interesting background information and many images to download: www.sancta.org

“After complying to the Bishop’s request for a sign, She also left for us an image of herself imprinted miraculously on the native’s tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth, which should have deteriorated in 20 years but shows no sign of decay 478 years later and still defies all scientific explanations of its origin.”

Saint John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe the patron saint of the unborn.

To read more about Our Lady of Guadalupe:

http://www.sancta.org/intro.html

There are many ways to celebrate this feast. We will be celebrating this evening by having tacos for dinner. Although our kids are older now, in past years, we have celebrated by allowing them (youngest to oldest) to break open a pinata.

Happy Feast Day!

Happy Birthday to God’s Surprise Gift

Today is my youngest sister’s birthday. I’d like to share the following article I wrote entitled “God’s Surprise Gift” which was published in God Moments III: True Love Leads to Life, released in 2012 by Joseph Karl Publishing.

For several days after my mom shared the news, I remained shocked and surprised but very, very happy. My 47-year-old mother was going to have a baby!

One thing was certain: I had never seen my mom so joy-filled. She became a widow at age 44. A short time later, she met and married my stepfather. Although my stepfather had four daughters from his first marriage and my mother had four children from her marriage to my father, neither imagined there would be any children from their union.

The challenges became apparent as soon as she began to tell people. My mom’s obstetrician/gynecologist (the same doctor who delivered me 22 years previous) scowled when my mom asked for an “official” pregnancy test, explaining that she had taken an “at home” test and it was positive.

“You’re not thinking of having it, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“You can’t have it! You have a one in ten risk of having a child with Down Syndrome, not to mention all the abnormalities that come with increased maternal age.”

“I want to have this baby.”

According to my mom, the doctor continued pressuring her — urging her — to have an abortion. However, my mom had always had a strong and stubborn personality. She didn’t back down nor did she acquiesce to his wishes.

Finally, she said, “I’m having this baby.”

The doctor replied, “Then you’ll have to find another doctor. I won’t be delivering it.”

When she arrived home, my mom was angry. She spent the next ten minutes yelling and pacing the floor. She was frustrated with the irony of the words “pro choice.” She wasn’t given any choice but to abort. She eventually found a Catholic pro-life doctor to deliver her baby. Since it had been 20 years since her last pregnancy, there were some concerns and challenges. However, this doctor took very good care of her.

Of course, her previous doctor wasn’t the only one who reacted negatively. Some friends and relatives thought my mother and stepfather were crazy to be happy about an “unplanned pregnancy.”

“This is obviously an accident,” one person commented. My mother’s response: “This isn’t an accident. It’s a surprise. Those are two different things.” Another person said, “It was obviously unplanned.” My mom would shake her head and say, “Not unplanned, just a surprise.”

The day came for my mom to deliver. It was a rainy Tuesday evening. My siblings and I waited outside the delivery room. Finally, we heard a baby crying. We were soon given the news that my mother had given birth to a baby girl. We were thrilled! We had a new baby sister to love, and my mom continued to call her “God’s surprise gift.”

Youngest sister Laurie is now the tallest of the sisters! copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Youngest sister is now the tallest of the sisters! copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

“God’s surprise gift,” my youngest sister, is now 35 years old. She volunteered, then worked for years at a crisis pregnancy center and spent many Saturday mornings praying in front of abortion clinics. She now works as a director of religious education at a parish in New Jersey.

My mother passed away in 2007. However, our entire family remains grateful that she and my stepfather chose life for my sister. I can’t imagine the world — and life — without her.

Photo and Text copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach