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This week, we celebrate Marielle turning five.

The story of Mari has always been a bit complicated for me. She was not a child that we planned, which is a very kind way of saying that finding out about a fourth child sent me into a complete tailspin. I contemplated finding a really nice home for her with competent parents who would be able to raise her, because I certainly didn’t feel up to it. I reasoned that I am not the type of person who can raise four kids–that job is best left to professionals.

We didn’t announce the pregnancy until I was well into the fourth month, and that was mostly because I just couldn’t talk about it. Also, because I am such a superb planner, we had just purchased the worst house on the planet right before we found out about Mari, which meant that my entire pregnancy was spent painting, plotting, and cleaning Mold Palace.

Also during my pregnancy, we had a fifth child staying with us for an indefinite period of time. Additionally, we moved twice because Mold Palace wasn’t ready when we had to move out of our other home. We moved to a two-bedroom apartment while finishing the renovations. Greg & I called the apartment “A Place That Shall Remain Nameless” because neither of us can muster the strength to speak about that place again–it’s kinda like an emotional crime scene.

I remember one day in particular during the 8th month of pregnancy. I packed my 3 girls up with snacks and a laptop and drove to Mold Palace for a day of painting. My plan was to paint the doors and get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time and hoped the kids would cooperate. I set the girls up in the only finished bedroom so they could watch a movie (okay, 3 movies) and eat Goldfish crackers while I got my paint on.

I painted all day and would occasionally throw granola bars at the girls and beg them to stay in that room. My feet swelled up and my body ached, but ain’t nothing going to stop this crazy train. We loaded up at the end of the day, exhausted, and went back to The Place That Shall Remain Nameless. I felt so depressed and overwhelmed–I felt like the house would never be done, we would forever be living in The Place and that I would be pregnant forever (and other rational thoughts). I laid down and Greg entered my emotional wreckage bearing popcorn and headphones. He situated the popcorn under my arm (so that I could salt it with my tears) and placed the headphones into my ears with my favorite song playing–and that is how I know that this man loves me.

There were complications with the pregnancy. We went in for our routine ultrasound and the technician saw something that caused her to leave the room to consult with the doctor. The doctor came in and I watched them with their furrowed brows as they looked for something. We found out that the umbilical cord had two chambers instead of the usual three, which meant the doctor was looking for missing organs and other abnormalities. We discovered that she was missing a kidney and possibly an ovary, and that she had some markers for Down Syndrome and other genetic issues.

It wasn’t until she was born that we would find out.

The missing kidney was confirmed but she did not have other missing organs or genetic issues.

We brought her home and I got out the ladder and scraped paint off the front windows. I told you, you can’t stop the crazy train. And three days after she was born, we took her to the Mumford & Sons concert, because we are either the most clueless people on earth or the coolest.

The first few years after that are rather blurry. I have too many kids to remember things, which is maybe one of the reasons I started to write–because I want to remember.

Happy 5th birthday, Mari. You’ve grown into a beautiful princess-butterfly-fairy-superhero with supreme dancing skills. You are loved and precious to us. I’m so thankful for you–for the unexpected gift you are for all of us.



I am able to write rather light-heartedly about this today because I am five years removed from all the anxiety and difficultly of that period of my life. If you are in the middle of a hard time, know that it will get better. Find people to help you on the way–I did. Also, if you have an unplanned pregnancy and don’t know what to do, please seek out all your options. There are lots of people and organizations that are here to help.

I recognize other people who have a different story–that their pregnancy was much more difficult, or that their child does have a genetic issue or other medical concerns. As I write this, I acknowledge your story and hold space for the concerns and struggles you face. There are people who are walking the same road who are looking for partners to go along with them. If you’re looking for support, please look into what resources are available in your area so that you can receive help and also be a support to other people.


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