September 13, 2022. September 21, 2020. September 11, 2018. None of these dates are any of my children’s birthdays, however they are still dates I will cherish.

The due dates—the point we are fairly certain that the baby will either be here, or will be here very shortly. It’s the first date that the doctor tells you and what shows up on the ultrasound. It’s the day as mommy’s, daddy’s, grandparents, friends, and people look forward to. It’s what we plan for. And if you’re a planner, an organizer, or a teacher like me, you bust out the colorful pens, doodle in your journal, and make those dates extra flashy on your calendar. 

Obviously due dates are just estimations. Rarely have I heard of a mom delivering a baby on that actual due date, but many times it’s close to that date. Either way, it is exciting! 

Let’s backtrack to a couple other dates that I thought were the plans. October 7, 2021–the day I was diagnosed with an untreatable kidney disease. The day a doctor told me to be thankful I had two children already, because my body may not be able to tolerate another pregnancy or have a safe one. So October 7, 2021, although disappointed, I was at peace. I thanked God for the two beautiful boys he had given me, and that this ‘disease’ had in no way harmed them. 

January 7, 2022, exactly 3 months later. I was pregnant, but that wasn’t supposed to happen. Or if it did, this baby wouldn’t live and my body wouldn’t do what it was supposed to for this. January 7, 2022 was a dark day of fear for me. A moment of rejoicing turned into fear of loss, death, and so many emotions. 

January 8, 2022–I woke up and remembered that fear didn’t come from God. Neither did dark thoughts and instant depression because of that fear. God made it so clear in a dream to me that if He chose to take this baby at any time, he or she would be with Him. My heart was at peace. Why had I forgotten this?  That morning, I chose to give up the biggest fear of my life—losing a baby, to Him.  God’s in charge of life, not me. God created this life in me. Not me. God decides how long one lives, whether that is days, months, years, or decades. Not me. God gave me a peace that day, and a renewed joy. I rejoiced over this tiny life inside me, and no matter how long God allowed him or her to live, I would be this baby’s mommy for however long He decided. 

All these planned dates in my head and on my calendar—good reminders of important days, but dates that tempted me to forget that God’s plans and timings are perfect. 

It was tempting through this pregnancy to worry. At times, I definitely did. However, this pregnancy was my biggest reminder that God’s ways are perfect. 

When I’d assume my blood pressure was going to skyrocket, my doctor would each month say, “It’s still low. This is good.” When I’d have numerous ultrasounds to monitor growth and other risk factors, I was tempted to worry. “Everything looks great.” “This is your healthiest pregnancy.” “Your baby looks good.” Every month, I was reminded that God was protecting my baby and He was protecting me. 

At week 34, I began to worry, and the worry didn’t go away. Physically, I felt as I had in previous pregnancies. I lost energy, my heart and head were pounding, I was dehydrated. I couldn’t eat, my body ached to move, and I went in for an appointment. My blood pressure was high. I had only put on 10 lbs total with this pregnancy, but in 1 week had put on another 3. My legs were swelling. I was scared. As I drove to the appointment, I heard, “Preeclampsia. Hypertension. Restricted baby growth. This baby isn’t going to make it.” (Yes, I heard those words and it was terrifying). I hadn’t felt the baby kick in over 10 hours. When I got there, the doctor was a bit concerned, decided to put me on a low dose of hypertension medication, and told me to rest and relax. She seemed to think things would be ok though, and would just monitor these next few weeks. I took a deep breath. Earlier I had pretty clearly heard those negative words and terrifying phrases. Clearer now, I heard, “He’s ok. Feel your tummy.” I put my hand on my stomach and instantly felt kicks. You know when you hear something or feel something in your heart and you just know it is God? I knew right then. There was my reminder to stop being scared, and that God was there. 

Week 37 on August 24th–doctor said baby could come anytime, but we were shooting for September 2nd as my induction date. A new date for the calendar. My previous babies never came naturally—they were both inductions. My water never broke on it’s own; I’d have contractions, but those babies would have hung out as long as they could before being born if they had the choice. September 2nd was going to be my baby’s birthday and I was so excited! 

Friday, August 26th changed my mind about a September baby. Physically, my body changed that morning, and I knew that it wouldn’t be much longer. For the first time, my water broke on it’s own—just a couple hours before our boys’ double birthday party at the park. What funny timing! I’ll always look back on this day and laugh. I could have gone to the hospital right away, but after a whirlwind of a day and emotions, felt peace to still have the birthday party, stay at the party (“Hey I heard your water broke” was the laughing statement of the night), and then go to the hospital after. I literally asked God to make my contractions worsen if I was supposed to go to the hospital before the party. I was lifting my boys, decorating, and scrambling to get things ready, thinking that surely contractions would just keep getting worse. Nope. I felt ok. While at the party, my mom asked me how I was doing and if I should go to the hospital. I told her I really didn’t know. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel terrible. So I walked out to the grass by the swings, looked up, and said to God, “I don’t know what to do. Should I go to the hospital after the party? If I should, can you send me a physical sign please?” May sound silly, but I am very literal when I talk to God, and He responds in so many (many times comical) ways to me. I walked back to the pavilion. A hard kick and a sharp, shooting pain took my breath away. Hadn’t felt anything like that before. I laughed. Thanks, God. “Yes, Mom, we’ll go to the hospital after the party!” 

After a relatively uneventful and easy-(ish) labor, God, a wonderful doctor, two nurses, and my husband helped me deliver a beautiful baby boy the next morning. August 27, 2022.

Fast forward a few days. I had planned for September 1 to be cherishing those final moments as a family of four before heading to the hospital the next day for my induction, but God had a plan for September 1 to be the first day we celebrated being a family of five together. September 1 was our coming home day from the NICU, another unexpected part of God’s plan (to be documented in another blog post) that only adds to His goodness, protection, and faithfulness.

Layken James—the gift God gave me to remind me again that His plans triumph over any human, doctor, or medical diagnosis. My reminder that God speaks clearly, protects, and does miracles every day. My reminder to not use too bright of colored pens on my calendar, and maybe start using a pencil. My reminder of how funny life can be when we rely too much on our own dates and timing. My reminder to trust God, go to the birthday parties, and just enjoy life safely 🙂 

Happy due date (tomorrow), little son. I’m glad you were born 3 weeks early and that you are safely here. God has already used your life as a testimony to His goodness, and I know He will continue to do that throughout your life. I love you!