Elsie is 1 today.  No big deal really.  I actually didn’t get around to buying her a present and she had a ‘store bought’ cupcake for her Birthday Cake, but she was showered in love, singsongs and attention by her 9 adoring fans. Despite my lack of fanfare, this is a significant day for me.  It’s 1 year since the biggest leap of faith came to pass in my life.  It’s also 2 years since I worked up the bravery to tell Sime that I had a very strong inkling that we had a blue-eyed baby girl named Elsie Rose waiting to be part of our family, earthside.

I had just gotten back from my morning run.  For 6 months I had been sitting on this but had been waiting for the right time to bring it up.  Benji Boy was our last baby. We had declared it to the world and I had only (just) limped across the line in his pregnancy.  Certainly 7 kids was a crazy number already.  We’d just had the biggest last 5 years….. relocation, rebuilding our business, moving house, leading ministry groups, 2 babies on top of the 5 we already had, each with their own needs.  Surely we had reached capacity and beyond.  Sime was nearing 50, so it was inconsiderate of me to even suggest having another baby!

But I couldn’t shake it.  Six months earlier (two and half years ago) I was sitting in a church service with baby Benji on my lap. Still sore from a painful surgery required from pregnancy-induced damage on my body,  I was pleading with God to take the desire for another baby away. The desire for that blue-eyed baby girl I had since I was a child.  Surely it was just a figment of my imagination, a silly childhood dream.  I already had six beautiful healthy boys and one, long awaited for, vivacious little girl…….

Even considering one more was greedy, irresponsible and just plain ridiculous.  Some women never get to experience motherhood at all and here I was selfishly grieving “that girl” I had dreamed about so long ago.  My prayer that night was just “Take it Lord”……take away the feeling I have for that daughter at my fingertips…..just out of reach enough to think it may just be a whim. But you know what the whisper back to my heart was? Just two words “Elsie Rose”.  It wasn’t a name I had  ever considered.  I had so many other girls names on reserve that I liked better.  So what does this mean? Could it be? Oh boy. Maybe, just maybe, this was not a whim.

I confided in a few close girlfriends.  For accountability really but I also felt that if I could just say it out loud, it may seem more feasible. One friend felt she had a dream to confirm my desire. The other two loved me enough to believe with me.  I am sure they had their doubts but were lovingly supportive.

This takes me back to this moment with Sime, two years ago.  I sat down with him  in our quiet time before the kids would wake up.  My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing.  I blurted it out without looking at his face.  I didn’t want him to know how emotional I was about it. I didn’t want him to be manipulated by my tears.  What a husband he had already been!! We only ever really planned 4 at the most when we married, yet he kept his heart open to my crazy idea of more children…… despite the potential weight of responsibility it placed on him.

My secret hope was that he’d turn to me and say “oh my darling yes!! God has been talking to me about the same thing!! Let’s do this!!”. But no, it was a BIG closed door. A No Way Hosea response.  We are full, we have so many needs already. What about your body? What if it’s not an Elsie Rose? All of which I agreed with but it felt like a knife to my heart.  Goodbye to that little girl……to that Elsie Rose at my fingertips.  In no way would I want to have a baby out of unity with Sime.  So suck it up princess, I said to myself, count your blessings and move on.  But the tears came. Catching me off guard when they were unwelcome and when I was trying to keep them hidden.

Thankfully, I happened to marry a man of deep faith. It’s actually what brought us together.  If is wasn’t for our faith, Sime would likely still be in the band scene, and I would be married to some mismatched guy I fell into a relationship with.  He was not used to seeing me like this, so he said “Alright let’s give it a week.  We will both pray and see what God says.” A glimmer of hope maybe? But I also had to be open to the fact that I might be spiritualising my own desires.  I had to be willing to let go.  That whole week, I never asked Sime what he was feeling.  However, I have to say that every time I prayed I just saw a picture of me drawing a baby girl up onto my chest.  So when Sime came to me with a cheeky grin the next week and said “you want to know what God said?” then proceeded to make me wait, as only he can do, then said “God told me to turn my no into a yes”.  No way. This is it! Game on, time for the real leap of faith.

Despite the desire for that girl, we did not do ‘the timing thing’. We did not want to take anything into our own control and a few months later 2 lines appeared on the pregnancy test.  Mixed with relief and happiness, was a feeling of apprehension and nerves.  What am I doing? Can my body withstand another pregnancy and birth? Am I just leading Sime up the garden path with this? Will I be ok if it’s another boy? Would I cope being the mother of 7 boys? How would Vera cope with 7 brothers? Am I just a crazy baby lady, using God as an excuse to have more? How would this reflect on God’s goodness if it’s not Elsie Rose?

I was nervous about announcing the pregnancy…… bracing myself for the eye rolls. Didn’t you say you were done at 7? How are you going to afford it? Imagine when they are all teenagers! When will you stop??! I was even worried about telling family, as having another just did not make sense and they were protective of my health and our family’s security.

Surprisingly, most people’s response was positive.  Sime and I decided to keep our reasons for another child close to our heart, even her name, so as not to be discouraged by anyone else’s lack of faith or understanding.  He would pray for our baby (and the rest of our kids) by name everyday, and I would get little nervous flutters every time he said her name with such bold faith.  I pretty much held my breath for the rest of the pregnancy.  Hoping this big risk would pay off.  We didn’t find out the gender and to be honest I was too scared to.  If this isn’t Elsie in my womb then maybe I am just plain crazy.

It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, but it wasn’t the hardest.  On my really uncomfortable days, my resolve would wobble a bit by questioning “if God planted this dream in my heart, then why hasn’t He healed me so I can carry her pain free?”.  But some mysteries will not be answered this side of heaven.  In my times of weakness, I leant on Sime’s bold faith.

Much to my discomfort, he told the sonographers, nurses, midwives etc that he knew it was a girl……. they would look at us bemused and intrigued.  I tried to come up with a boys name, just in case, but none would fit. Sime assured me it was unnecessary.

So one year ago, right at this moment, D day was here.  Well DOB day.  Things were not looking great.  Labour was stop-start and my waters were full of meconium (most mums will know what I mean).  I had a moment when all the nurses left the room, and I spoke to this baby “Sweet baby, God put you in there, now it’s time to move down and meet us.  Guide her into the world Jesus”. I still remember where I was standing near the window looking down at my purple, veiny feet, and I had one almighty contraction and I knew she was on her way.  The nurse came in and checked me, broke my waters, and I pushed her out gently within 40 minutes. I barely broke a sweat.  And you know what? I pulled that baby girl onto my chest, just like the picture I had.  I breathed out for the first time in nearly a year.  I was not crazy.  She was not a figment of my imagination.  Those whispers to my heart were not just an irrational whim.  Our baby girl was not just here, SHE was here.  Elsie was not just at my fingertips she was in my arms, in our arms.  I squeezed her tighter than a newborn should be squeezed.  The relief and delight was inexplicable.  I like to remind myself daily of that moment, and the moment I first held all our babies because none of them came easily. They are each miracles in their own way, and each nearly didn’t come to pass.  I don’t want life’s pace and distractions to take away from the significance of their existence and how I was chosen to be their mum. Not because I deserve them, but because He is good.

I know all this talking to God business is a bit strange for some, and that’s okay.  It took me a bit of courage to write this blog for fear it may sound preachy.  People who know us, know that is not who we are.  We just wanted to share our journey and the story around Elsie’s birth is a big part of it. I suppose I also want to share this today to encourage you that if  you do have a whisper in your heart, one that fills you with love, fulfillment,  joy…. to not discount it.  Your miracle, your dream could be awaiting on the other side. There is more to this world than just what we can see.  I am convinced if it.  Sometimes it just takes that leap of faith.  Today I am just so grateful that we turned back for our Elsie Rose.  Life would still have been sweet if we didn’t, but oh boy, now it is so much sweeter.

There is a creator that loves to communicate to and love on His creation, even if it’s just through something as simple as a sunset on a hard day…… giving us hope to continue. Sometimes it just requires us to stop, be present and to listen.

And for those who are wondering…… No, there are no more little Elsies in the wings.  Sime has “officially” been put out to pasture, and I plan to join him while we figure out how to raise these 8 beautiful humans in our care. Our story (and challenge) is really just beginning.

Thanks for indulging this Mumma’s heart……

Much love,

Greta, the Butcher’s wife xx