My wife Angela and I are expecting our fourth child in December.
This came as quite a shock to both of us when we found out in April. I was speaking at an event in Toronto and traveled down to our NY home to get the house ready for our summer retreat.
Angela sent me a text message with a photo of a (positive) pregnancy test with the caption “OMG! I’m pregnant.”
I thought to myself ‘Nobody in their right mind would just send a text message for such a huge announcement. This is a joke.’
So I replied to Angela and said the same.
I went on to tell her if it was true she would have called me, not sent a text message.
My cell phone rang.
She was dead serious.
We both were like: “Um….how old are you? How old am I?” What the h–l???
For the record, I’m 46 and Angela is 44 yrs old.
Then we laughed and came to the same conclusion:
The ONE thing we have a knack for is raising great kids.
Madeline (13) Laura (9) and Paige (8) are the kind of kids you send over to a friends house and never worry they are going to embarrass you. They always put others first and are mature well beyond their years.
Sure they fight, argue and….. don’t even get me started on the drama ….oh the drama of three girls.
But we always say: Better they act like drama queens inside the house and act like angels outside the house – then the other way around.
Second, Angela and I are not exactly from Brady Bunch type homes.
My mom raised eight kids by herself, me being the youngest.
I wasn’t around when my older siblings were kids but I know what it was like in the 1970’s.
Food stamps were how we paid for groceries and mom worked all day long, five days a week.
I won’t speak for Angela but rest assured you would not be envious of her childhood years.
So when we sit down for dinner each night, or go to Kings Island for the day, or even do something simple like take a drive for ice cream – Angela and I look at each other and know we are changing a generation of Crowley’s by how we are raising our kids.
Both parents involved and active in our kids’ lives.
Are we perfect?
As Tony Robbins says: “Show me a family that is not dysfunctional and I’ll show you a family that is lying.”
So when we found out a fourth child was on the way we said:”God wants us to bring another child into our growing family. So be it. We will love this child as much as the other kids and our three girls will love all over the baby.”
So what if we both have our AARP card before the kid reaches kindergarten?
Then the complications began.
Angela’s age automatically places her in a high risk category, so we had no delusions of grandeur that this would be a breeze of a pregnancy.
Without going into all of the personal details, here’s the high level view of what’s been happening.
In mid-June we traveled back to our summer home in Springville, NY as we have for the past few years.
Mom, dad, kids, two cats and two dogs.
On my birthday, June 29th Angela and I went to dinner, then back home to sit on the porch as we do each night during the summer. Angela was having complications and went to bed early.
The next day, the situation escalated and we went to the emergency room to have her checked out.
They performed a sonogram, along with a series of others tests to make sure mother and baby were doing fine.
And they were.
At that particular time.
It was also during this ER visit, we found out we are having ANOTHER girl.
Of course, the health of the baby is first and foremost but can we put that aside for just one second?
Can you believe that?
There aren’t enough bathrooms and mirrors in our home now!
What are we going to do with four girls?
Angela had a good laugh, along with the nurses – as they all felt sorry for me in unison.
We were discharged and sent home with a diagnosis of “We don’t know what’s wrong, or why this is happening but the baby is fine.”
The ER doctor said to call if we had further problems.
Four hours later we did.
And it was worse.
We called the ER and they said there was nothing further they can do with the limited resources they have, so they sent us to Mercy Hospital, which has a delivery room.
A delivery room?
That’s not where we want to be 18 weeks along in our pregnancy.
Dateline: April 2000
To fully understand our state of mind, you need a bit of the back story to our journey.
In April 2000, Angela was 19 weeks pregnant with our first child, a boy.
We were over-the-moon excited about our first child.
Then the same complications I’ve been describing were happening to Angela but they were relentless and involved the loss of amniotic fluid to the baby.
At 19 weeks, Angela was admitted to the hospital and a forced-delivery was implemented due to the loss of amniotic fluid. I remember the event like it happened yesterday. One minute we were seeing a sonogram to make sure the baby was doing fine. The next minute we are listening as the doctor tells us he is sorry but the baby will not make it full term.
We were crushed.
Three days went by as Angela lay in a hospital bed, me sitting by her side.
Few words were spoken.
The room was dark, we felt so alone – almost like we were shut off to the outside world.
On April 19, 2000 Matthew Crowley was born.
Angela and I held him, talked to him and felt his heart beat through the thin sheet he was wrapped in.
A priest was on hand to baptize him and ……
give him his last rights.
Matthew could only hang on for a few hours.
His heart stopped beating and we had to give him back to the nurses.
Our baby boy’s death certificate says:
April 19, 2000- April 20, 2000
The single hardest day of our life had just arrived. It felt like someone came into the room, punched us in the stomach. And left us there.
The nurse treated Angela and said we were free to go.
Free to go?
Where do you go from here?
It was 2am and we were on our way back home.
The same road we took for our sonogram 72 hours earlier, was the same dark corridor we were on, except this time Angela was without baby.
We learned a valuable lesson that night and it was this:
The world keeps spinning.
Bill collectors keep calling.
People still cut you off in traffic.
The Joneses still care only about keeping up with themselves.
We got a few hours sleep and then – Boom! We were thrown right back into the world again. We were supposed to be normal and functioning people.
We were angry but resolute.
Dejected, yet empowered to move forward.
Determined to have a healthy baby.
In July, just a few months later – Angela was pregnant again.
We were happy.
We were scared.
We were anxious.
But our faith kept everything in tact for us.
God will see this baby through till the end. Matthew did not die in vain.
On March 18, 2001 Madeline Marie Crowley was born, right on her due date.
A healthy, bouncing baby girl!
Then came Laura in 2004 and Paige in 2005.
We were baby-making machines!
None of our three girls would be here today, if not for Matthew.
Angela and I hold onto the thought that Matthew is the guardian angel for our three girls. He gave his life so they could have theirs.
Sometimes you have to remove yourself many years from adversity to see why it happened and how it blesses you each and every day.
Fast forward to June 30, 2014.
After the ER visit, we were in Mercy Hospital. It was 11pm and Angela was sitting in the same type of dark delivery room we were in with Matthew.
Doctors were worried. We were worried.
Angela and I thought this was it.
We’re delivering another baby around the same 20 week time frame.
But…..this girl just isn’t ready.
Doctors checked Angela inside and out (and I do mean inside and out) for hours.
Still no diagnosis, or explanation as to what is happening and why.
But….and this is a big difference of what happened with Matthew…….amniotic fluid is still in tact and so is the baby.
Her heartbeat is 160 and robust.
We’ve since been to ANOTHER emergency room.
This visit was just two nights ago here in Cincinnati.
We had to cut our summer vacation short, so Angela could be close to her primary doctor.
Two nights ago the same “We think we’re losing our baby” feeling came over us.
I’m not sure what’s worse?
The physical pain, or the mental torture.
Angela can feel the baby doing flips and having the time of her life, inside. If she were to lose this baby, it would be all she can handle to recover mentally.
My wife is the most mentally tough person I’ve ever met.
But this would crush her because she feels this baby 24/7 and talks with her all the time.
Our girls are also emotionally invested in this pregnancy.
They are waiting patiently for the arrival of their baby sister in December.
How do we tell them she’s gone?
How do we explain their baby sister won’t be here?
It’s difficult enough keeping them calm each time we leave late at night for the emergency room.
It would take all we have to tell them the devastating news.
Two nights ago the doctors did another sonogram.
The baby is doing fine.
Her heartbeat is strong but something is causing all of this other ‘stuff’ and nobody can tell us why.
The doctor put Angela on indefinite bed rest and told me to suck it up and put my ‘Mr. Mom’ outfit on;)
So we wait.
We ask for your prayers that our unborn baby makes it far enough along to give her a fighting chance to be part of the Crowley’s of Ohio.
What a Christmas present it will be when she arrives!
A few months ago Angela and I were asking: What the heck are we going to do with a baby at our age?
Now we’re begging: Please God, get this baby to us and keep her healthy.
We’ve decided on a name.
Susan Catherine Crowley
Named after my two sisters.
Our girls speak to Susan every day, while they rub Angela’s stomach.
You know who else is speaking to Susan?
Watching over her, making sure she doesn’t decide to arrive before it’s time…..
Her older brother Matthew, that’s who.
Matthew would’ve been 14 years old this September but he’s doing far more important work right now.
Keeping his little sister healthy.