Before Ryan and I had been married for two years, I found out- very unexpectedly- that I was pregnant. So young, and scared to death! I was 10 hours from my family (besides Ryan) and I wasn't sure that we were ready. But the Lord knew, and our blessing was surely a blessing in disguise. God is always right on time, and this was no exception. Chesley Dawn was due on March 1st, but made her appearance on January 26th, 2000. I was so young, I didn't even realize I should be worried that she was coming 5 weeks before I was due. She was a healthy 7 lbs, 6oz. There was no need of oxygen, and she came home with us! She has been such a blessing to our family. She just turned 14 a few days ago, and she is beautiful, she loves the Lord, and has the most awesome voice. I look at her at times and I'm in awe that she is so gorgeous. See what I mean?!?
For a while I thought she may be my only one. I had always grown up saying I would have a boy, then a girl. Well, that was shot out of the park once Ches came along. So in the back of my mind, the next one would be a boy, and we'd be finished. A FOF(family of four)- just like the world is made for. Everyone can fit in a small car; and when you by vacation packages, it's usually for a FOF. When you go to an amusement park, rides hold 2 people per car. Each parent gets a kid to watch...you get the just of it- right? Only two kids for me though! I really didn't want an only child, I wanted my kids to have siblings (and more chances that I'd be taken care of in my old age) :) I didn't want three, because, well- then there would always be a middle child, and one always left out...etc. And four?? NO WAY! I was the baby of four, and that was just too many!!! So when Ches was about to turn 4, I started getting a little bit of baby fever. In February, I got pregnant with our second child. She wasn't totally planned, but I wasn't surprised when I got that positive pregnancy test, I'll just say that!
In October 2004, Abigail Alene (aka Abby) arrived! Chesley was certainly a great big sister, and loved having a baby around. I was working then full time as a hospice nurse, so when Abby was 3 months I went back to work. I was nursing Abby fully, but with the job I had, it was difficult to pump and drive, so we had to switch to formula. :) Nursing should never be used as a definite form of birth control, but it had worked for us, that is until I quit nursing! Well, when Abby was almost 6 months, I found out I was pregnant...AGAIN! (but I'll get to that in a bit, back to the child at hand.) Abby is a wonderfully wonderful child to have. She is my "drama queen". She is so much like me in the fact that she'll make a plan of what she's going to do, then usually ends up not getting it done like she thought. (sort of like I was going to clean my house tonight, and after I cleaned up my desk, I'm now writing this post instead of actually cleaning) :) She is my outgoing one, and loves to talk to anyone, and a lot! Which has resulted in lots of moving of pins, or turning smiley faces over, (this generation's version of getting their name on the board). she is a mess! Can't you just tell how sassy she is?!? And a pretty little thing to boot!
Well back to where Abby was almost 6 months old. Remember when I said I wasn't shocked when that positive pregnancy test came back with Abby. That certainly wasn't the case with #3. I'll just tell you- I was SCARED!!!!! Ryan and I had discussed having ONE more to try for that boy, if he really wanted to, but later on. Well, it wasn't "later on" enough for me! But it all goes back to God's timing, not ours, right? I thought to myself...surely this was God being really funny, and this one would be our boy, just his way of giving him to us, at a different time...right? WRONG!
When I was 5 weeks from delivering our third child...another girl, we MOVED! I'm not kidding- we went from Southeast Alabama to Northeast Alabama. Abby had just turned 1- literally like less than a week before, and Chesley had just started Kindergarten a couple months before. So we moved to our current home, got Ches squared away at school, had Thanksgiving, then December 2005, Emileigh Al'Lora joined our family, less than two weeks before Christmas. Nah- it wasn't total chaos! (oh but it was) And to put the topper on the cake, right after I had Em, Chesley got lice (that child still can't keep her fingers out of people's hair!) I was an emotional wreck, trying to hold it together in our new home, around new church people...after all, they don't need to think that their new Pastor's wife is a complete lunatic- do they? (oh, but little did they know...) lol!
Emileigh is my most tenderhearted child. She is so concerned how everyone is. When she worries, she gets a fever blister. She is my memory. If tell her not to let me forget something- she doesn't. She is going by the rules. If it says no talking in the halls- she's not saying a word to anyone! (lips and hips!) On a completely random note, she also is extremely flexible! :) I have to be mindful if I have to correct her, there is no need to raise my voice at her- she will have a complete come apart. Just knowing there is disappointment in my voice is enough punishment for her. (Abby is a whole other story) It's amazing. Only 14 months between these two, and they couldn't be more opposites. But I can tell you, they are the best of friends when it gets down to it. They share a room, and wouldn't have it any other way. Here's this cutie patootie
Well, that was the end of our kids, I was just sure of it! Thankful for my beautiful blessings, but my cup was already running over! I was happy with these three, and going about my life just fine! Then one day....you guessed it, I just had this feeling....and BAM! Yet another positive test. I remember riding to the church and Ryan working on something outside with one of the members. I pulled into the parking lot, but far enough away, that Ryan had to walk over to me, out of hearing range of anyone. I was mad to say the least. What was Ryan's reaction? He just laughed! He was excited! I was angry, and frustrated. I was done! I didn't want anymore kids. Certainly not four! Why was this happening?!?!? We announced it one Sunday morning to the congregation, and then literally 30 minutes later, I went to the restroom, and discovered I was miscarrying. By the time I went to the doctor the next day, I was ok, I thought. It took most of the week going back and forth getting blood drawn to check my levels. The day they called and said "Mrs. Bristow, your levels are at zero, you have completely miscarried. There is no need to do anything else." I hung up the phone, and cried. I was crushed. I felt so responsible. I didn't want another baby, God had given us one, and it was like I had wished it away. I look back on that now, and realize that He was just preparing Ryan and me, ok, mostly me. Little did I know that two months later, I would have yet another positive pregnancy test. That time, my reaction wasn't necessarily excitement at first, but one of "ok, what's one more when you already have three? If mom did it, I can do it too!" God had prepared me for this child. I often think of my other baby; Ryan and I say that's our little boy in heaven. I know we will see him one day. But I CAN NOT imagine my life without our baby girl...Lauren Janese.
January 2008 Lauren graced us with her presence, two days before Chesley's birthday. Ches still says she was her early birthday present. Her daddy says she must be the milk man's baby. She came out with a tan! (not really, but her skin is more tan than anyone else in the family!) She is so cute in the summer with her little Water Babies tan. :) She is absolutely beautiful. She is definitely the baby of the clan. She can be laughing one minute, and in tears the next. She is high maintenance, but she's getting better. She is only in Kindergarten, after all. I look at her and think that Chesley was her age when we moved to our current church. I would dress Ches in the bed for school, just so she could get a little bit more sleep. With Lauren, I go in, and rub her back for a second, and tell her, "get up and go potty, brush your teeth and get dressed!" Poor kid. Am I the only parent of more than three kids that expects more out of the youngest at a certain age than you did with the first?? Let's hope not! Here's the baby of the crew, told you she's a looker! :)
All of my kids have accepted The Lord as their personal Savior, and Lauren is no exception. in April 2013, the day before my birthday actually, she asked Him to be Lord of her life. It was such an honor to lead my little girl to the Lord. Now I know that ALL my blessings will join me in heaven when He calls us home. I pray that you have made that decision in your life as well. If you haven't, all you have to do is what Romans 10:9-10 tells us "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." It's that simple.
There's the story of my blonde blessings...now I must get, the baby of the crew is calling me!
Enjoy the Journey!