The year is 1970. You’re a 41-year-old woman with two daughters. The eldest, who is 20, was married the previous year and is expecting your first grandchild. Your youngest is almost 17, in a committed relationship and likely to be engaged within a year or two. You and your husband of 22 years are planning fishing trips and weekends away together. Which, of course, is possible now with your daughters in adulthood, or close to it. Before you know it, you’ll be ‘empty-nesters’, spending your days reading, drinking cups of tea and waiting for the grandchildren to burst through the door at any given moment.
But then one warm day in March, you find yourself sitting in your doctor’s office. You’ve suspected something for a little while now, and tests have been conducted to confirm whether your suspicions are correct. You’re anxious, because if you’re right, the future will be uncertain. You won’t be living the life you thought you were about to, and you’re not sure how you’ll feel about this.
Your mind is busy racing with the possible scenarios when your doctor suddenly turns to you and announces: “Well, Mrs G. It seems you were right. Congratulations…you’re pregnant!”
That was my mum 40 years ago, sitting in that doctor’s office. Her initial reaction to this news? Not quite the excitement you would expect. In fact, she was quite upset on hearing her doctor’s words. Her pregnancy with me hadn’t been planned. This was not the future she had in mind as a woman in her forties. She held many concerns about being pregnant at her age. Would there be something wrong with me? How would she and Dad cope with that? During the whole pregnancy, she worried. She couldn’t relax. On top of that, she really wasn’t sure she actually wanted another baby. What if, when I was born, she didn’t want me? I wasn’t part of her plan. She was done. Together with my Dad, she had raised two children, and she was about to become a grandmother. How could she possibly be pregnant this “late in life” (as it was considered to be back then)?
During the pregnancy, she would cry to my Dad, "I'm too old to have a baby now. We probably won't see her reach her 21st birthday. We probably won't see her get married and have children of her own!"
The timing, it seemed, was all wrong.
The moment I was born, and my Mum held me in her arms, she finally relaxed. All of the concerns of the past nine months disappeared, and immediately – from that moment on – she knew she wanted me.
As she would find out six months later, she also needed me at this point in her life.
Less than a year after my birth, not long after my 17-year-old sister died, my Mum was sitting in that same doctor’s office telling her doctor how having me around had helped her through her darkest moments. He said, “Now you know why you had Jodie when you did, Mrs G.” As Oprah would say, it was an “A-HA!” moment for my Mum.
I believe, wholeheartedly, along with my Mum, that our children are sent to us when the time is right for us to receive them (whether it feels that way at the time or not). They teach us many things (more than what we imagine). Life teaches us many lessons - as difficult or as joyous as they may be.
Even though at the time it seemed to my Mum that my arrival couldn’t have been more untimely, it was, in fact, the best possible time for me to be born. With a newborn to care for, one that she loved with all her heart, she had no other option than to continue to look after me. During those difficult months and years after my sister’s death, I became her distraction. Her comfort. Her saving grace. Her blessing. Yet another reason to keep on living life.
The timing, in the end, was perfect.