On the twenty-third of February in 1979, I was waiting, as I had been for the last eight months–waiting to see the little joy growing inside me.
I saw my obstetrician that day for one of those weekly appointments expectant mothers have during the last month before their due date. My emotions during the entire pregnancy were a bubbling mix of joy and longing and fear and trust. I wanted a healthy baby. I wanted to be a good mother. I wanted to rear this child to follow God. “Dear God, please help me!”
The doctor was reassuring. Everything was fine. This was going to be a big baby–maybe 8 pounds (eight pounds was considered to be a big baby back then)–and “it” (whether you were having a boy or a girl was still a mystery back then) would not be early.
I went back to our house behind the University Christian Student Center (UCSC) where Ray worked as a campus minister. I washed a load of baby things–in Dreft, of course, because I wanted to do everything right. That night I attended a second baby shower at the UCSC, held by some precious older ladies who had come to love us because they took one of Ray’s Bible classes at the UCSC. One of them gave us sterling silver diaper pins with a chain connecting them across the front!
You have probably guessed where this is going. When I got up the next morning, my water broke. We hurried to the hospital, spent our day trying to remember and to do what we had learned in our natural childbirth class, and by 8:04 that Saturday evening, John Raymond Notgrass was in our arms–all 6 pounds and 4 ounces of him.
While John and I were in the hospital (we didn’t rush right home back then either), we had an eclipse and it snowed (snow is always news in the South; that’s why I remember that). When we came home, crocus blooms had popped out above the brown leaves in the back yard.
Our friend Glenda had dried the clothes in the washing machine and lined the drawers of my parents’ old chifferobe we had painted yellow for the nursery. I rocked our baby in the rocker that had belonged to Ray’s grandparents, also painted yellow for the nursery. When I could bear to part with our baby boy long enough to lay him down, he lay in the bassinet where my parents had laid me twenty-five years before.
There is just nothing in the world like being a mother. Ah-h-h-h-h-h. Thank you, God, for giving me that joy. Happy Birthday, John.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.