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On Being Little

alec vanderboom

So after I read this heart-breaking piece about the one-child policy in China, I was FIRED up for today's OB visit, Baby! I reviewed all these different scenarios in my mind. If they gave me any grief about declining testing for down syndrome--I was walking out the door! If they gave me any flack about "having too many c-sections" or being an "elderly" mother, I was going to give them an ear-full.

I even figured out how to tell my doctor point blank to stop doing abortions on sick babies in utero. Because I hung out in the NICU ward of Children's Hospital, darn it--and each one of those critically ill babies were PRETTY DARN CUTE!

Guess what happened?


My darling husband wanted to be there for the sonogram. So he walks into my OB appointment with four kids ages 8 to 1. He carries the Tess inside her car seat carrier. My family stops traffic! Our shiny light stops the anti-life people in their tracks. The pro-life staff start jumping up and down. Everyone is so stunned to see a father genuinely excited to welcome a brand-new fifth child into his life.

After Jon appears, I start to receive the gold-star treatment. My doctor gives us an up-graded sonogram. We get souvenir photos for the baby book. Even the mean nurse who yelled about me about lawn chemicals during our pre-appointment interview happily gives me a special trick to get through my flu shot without any pain.

After our happy visit, I go to the Lab to get my blood work started. Jon takes most of kids back to the car. I keep my eight year old Hannah for moral support.

The Lab Tech is very cheerful and starts talking to Hannah. She starts to coo over my newest pregnancy. I cynically think "Wow, people are so nice when they think I only have two kids. Wish that could happen all of the time!"

Then it comes--that awkward moment in the conversation. Do I lie about what number pregnancy this is to keep up the good will, or do I tell the truth? I take a deep breath and tell tell the truth. "Actually I have other kids who are with their Dad. This baby is number five for us!"

Without a word, the Lab tech flashes me her palm.

I look at it with confusion. "What's that for?" I ask. "Do I need to show you my insurance card again or something?"

"I was trying to give you a high five!" she said. "I LOVE large families!"

I clapped her hand but my wide eyes kept looking at my oldest daughter. This was NOT the usual response we receive in wealthy suburban Maryland. Hannah and I were both stunned into silence.

Soon I come to discover that my blood is being drawn by a fellow Catholic survivor of the Rwandan genocide. She was from an original family of 10 who lost 4 siblings in that horrible tragedy. She is also a friend of Immaculee Ilibagiza, the author of "Left to Tell!"

What are the chances? I got see pictures of Immaculee on my lab tech's i-phone. So we're all chatting about the Virgin Mary and "the Lady of Kibeho" (which Betty Beguiles will remember sending me a copy of three years ago!) I was so happy. It was nuts!

Later, as I recounted this story to Jon, I had to laugh. "I was all ready to make a huge show-down for the pro-life cause today. But what did Mommy Mary have in mind? She wanted my husband and I to be joyful. She wanted us to silently shine our light. Then she wanted to give me a personal high five for having number five."

I truly get all the smallest job assignments possible from Our Mother! Yet I so love being so little!