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That Other November

The glory-laden details of our tiny babe’s story isn’t limited to the fact that he was conceived after ten years of waiting.  (Although the glory-weight of that one detail is enough all on its own.)  The timing of his arrival is an example of those immeasurably-more-than-we-can-imagine things that Paul talks about in Ephesians 3.

In order to really understand the power of Jordan’s birth story, you have to know the end of my best friend’s story.  And you also have to know the details leading up to our discovery that he was even being woven together in the secrecy of my womb at all.  And the incredible fulfillment of God-promises that came along with it.

Once you know all those details, the rest of the story will piece together perfectly.

I wandered into the baby’s room the way that I did a few times a day when he was still tucked in warm to the secrecy of my womb. Looking in. Making sure it was still there and I wasn’t dreaming it all up. And I stood over the crib looking at one of the handful of take-home-outfit-options I threw there instead of into the hospital bag because it still needed to be washed. And suddenly, the impact of our wait finally being over hit me again, manifesting itself in relief washed out through tears.

How in the world did I survive it all? I wondered. The grief and the waiting and the heartache and the insurmountable loss.

Another November is coming. My body felt it – subconsciously steeling itself for the onslaught of memory. And the 23 days that we spent waiting to usher my best friend into glory. And the overwhelmed tears flowed out as I thought again of our miracle babe’s story. And the very specific timing of his impending arrival. I didn’t know how much I needed that specific kind of November-healing.

But God did.

As it turned out, He knew that the only real way to redeem the death of my very best friend was by anticipating the birth of my very first babe.  And I sat on the floor. And surveyed the room. And thanked Him again, for the millionth time, for bringing life from ashes. And restoration from a shattered heart. And for His incredible miracle.


As the latter part of November grew closer, I became equally more excited as I did anxious.  Life as we knew it was about to completely change, and I had no idea what to expect.  How to prepare.  What my new daily routine would look like.  Those things are the most unnerving kinds of things for a type-A personality.  And to busy myself, I cleaned.  The notoriously-nesting kind of cleaning.  I even scrubbed the vacuum cleaner when I was finished vacuuming every single nook and cranny of our house.  And then, when the house was as clean as it could get, and the diapers were stacked neatly in their crate, and the tiny clothes were washed, folded, and put away, I tackled the photo albums.  Because there were four years’ worth of pictures that needed to be printed and I had to make room for the hundreds that were about to be taken.

And that late-November-due-date came and went.

And we waited.

And we walked the two-mile stretch of beach right by our house, encouraging our still-unnamed-babe to come out.  And we waited some more.

Then came Thanksgiving.  With memories full of another Thanksgiving from That One November, we joined our dear friends.  And sat on their lanai.  And talked about what we might name him whenever he decided to make his debut.

The most stressful part of all that waiting was deciding just how long we should wait.  Do we induce?  Wait for him to come on his own?  What are the risks?  Are we forcing it too soon?  Waiting too long?  I spent hours in the bathtub reading articles with valid points on both sides of the argument, still unsure where to land.  In the meantime, our doctor recommended induction for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  And we reluctantly agreed.

But the night before found us unsettled with the idea.  And still unsure of what to do, Josh prayed as we went to bed.  “If we are supposed to wait a little while longer,” he prayed, “would you just make the hospital extra busy in the morning?”

I got up at 6am the next morning and nervously made the phone call to the labor and delivery unit for our appointment check-in.

“We’re a little busy right now,” the nurse said.  “Can you call back in two hours”?

So I went back to bed.  And called back.  And they were still busy.  And we accepted the specifically-answered prayer from the night before.  And we waited some more.  Another three days went by, and I was getting antsy.

“We’ve waited so long to meet you,” I told my over-swollen belly. “After ten years, a few extra days is nothing – I know. But it feels like everything. Your dad said it best today: we’ve created a sweet little life for you! I can’t wait to show you our home. And your room. And to walk you to the same beach we’ve spent days walking, encouraging you to come out. So can you come now, please? The world is eager to meet you. And we are eager to snuggle you.”

Finally, we cried uncle.  And scheduled an induction.  And went out to dinner at The Four Seasons the night before to celebrate.


We rose bright and early the next morning to make the 20-minute drive to the hospital.  It was such a strange feeling – driving somewhere just the two of us, knowing that it would come back home as the three of us.  The morning was grey and rainy, providing a perfectly cozy backdrop for a day tucked into the hospital.

We arrived.  Filled out the paperwork.  Were introduced to our nurse.  And I settled into the bed that would forever change my world with my hand connected to an IV and my sweet husband playing gatekeeper with my phone.

And then we waited some more.  Waiting for the contractions.  Anticipating the pain.  Watching football.  Taking pictures.

Breakfast arrived.  Then lunch.  I laughed at how we ate like kings the night before, and I was suddenly relegated to some warm salty broth and jello.  Oh, how the mighty had fallen!

Sometime in the afternoon, I started asking about an epidural.  When is the right time?  I didn’t want to tap out too early – my contractions weren’t unbearable yet.  But I also didn’t want to miss the coveted window and ask too late.  It happened to be that the anesthesiologist was on the floor, and the nurse sent him in to chat with me.  He had time if I was ready.  And I gladly accepted his offer.  The epidural went in seamlessly.  And worked quickly and effectively.

The day went back with slow progression.  My liquid-diet-dinner came and went.  And the sun had set outside the window.  My twin sister’s plane landed from Phoenix, and she stopped by the hospital late that evening.  By that time, I was on oxygen to help our babe’s sometimes-dipping heart rate.  She didn’t stay long – after a full day of traveling, she was exhausted and we were settling in for a long night ahead of us.  As she picked up her things to leave, I joked that he would decide to come as soon as she got home.

Forty-five minutes and a new night-nurse later, it was go-time.  My body had made sudden progression and our babe was ready to come out.  Josh took his position at the bed beside me and I nervously held his hand.  I had heard women pushing all day.  I knew how long they pushed for.  And I was mentally preparing myself.

But our babe had other plans.  Much easier ones.  And just 30 minutes later, he took his first sweet breaths while his Dad cut his umbilical cord.  And they put him on my chest.  And I wrapped my arms tightly around him.  And we stayed there like that in a dream-world-fog of answered prayer until I finally let the nurse borrow him to get his stats.  And then he came straight back to me.  Right where he belonged.

Finally, after ten years of waiting for him, and ten months of growing him, and ten days of over-due anticipation, we laid eyes on his perfectly-woven frame.  And our faith was finally our sight.

It wasn’t until after 2am that we finally got into our room.  With the lights off and only a dim glow peeking in from beneath the door, I looked over at my sweet, exhausted husband sleeping uncomfortably in the not-so-soft recliner.  And between us, a clear bassinet.  With the silhouette of our sleeping babe swaddled up tight in his hospital blanket.  And I ingrained that moment into the deepest part of my memory to remember it forever.  Before scooping him up.  And bringing him into bed with me. Right where he belonged.

Two days later, I gave Josh the privilege of naming his son.  And, after months and months of back-and-forth, brainstorming, and discussions, he finally landed on Jordan Karl.  Josh is the oldest of six, and between siblings three and four, there was supposed to be another Johnson. But due to complications at birth, that sweet babe didn’t make it. His name was Jordan, and this babe’s first name is in honor of him.  Karl is a seventh generation Johnson middle name.  Every firstborn son has shared the middle name of Karl for at least six generations, and this babe has the honor of carrying on that tradition.  Just like his dad did.

Our November baby ended up being a December baby. And at 10:45 the night of December 1st, our tiny 6lb., 1.5oz miracle made his way into our world. Fresh from heaven. And it’s just how God intended. Because, as it turns out, as incredible as his perfect story is, this little babe did not redeem our November.

He, himself is a gift, and certainly made it so much sweeter, but he is not my November-redemption.

Our sweet Savior is.

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