Larry and Emily took Judah for me so I spent the last few hours of 2012 completely alone.
It's the first morning of the new year and it's still dark outside and I miss my boy terribly. But I am enjoying the quiet for just a little while longer, trying to reclaim the sentimentality of this holiday, the reflection, which always accompanies the turn of a new year.
New Year's Eve is always about this: the looking back, the preparing. A milestone so we remember where we've come from, and if we need to, take a deep breath and change direction.
Life, my life, has a funny of way of foreshadowing.
On December 31, 2011 I wrote : But that happens sometimes. Sometimes we try things and we fail. We have good intentions and we mean well. And we have no way of knowing what's coming our way. No way to really prepare for the battles we are going to fight. To predict the ways we are going to turn.
Thirteen days into the new year I found out I was pregnant. I went out the night before to enjoy some time with girlfriends and had taken a cheap pregnancy test before going. The test was faulty, partially indicating "pregnant" -- blurry, incomplete, not enough for me to be concerned.
This, it turns out, would be the story of 2012. The plot line that would move my story forward.
Very few of you know this entire story. Frankly because some stories are not written to be told. But this chapter of my life built my character, tested my faith, and strengthened me in ways I never could have anticipated.
I think back to the beginning of last year and I am queasy just at the thought. I think about snowy nights at Horseman's Lane and dark nights on Woodland Avenue. I think about walking to class in the snow, fighting morning sickness. Leaving my research class with Dr. Royse to throw up for the first time in the janitors bathroom of the basement in POT.
I think about round ligament pain while working at Orange Leaf, taking my break to drive to Jamba Juice, because nothing else would stay down. About eating whole sleeves of wheat saltines and falling asleep the moment I laid my head to the pillow. I remember the nightmares and wish I did not.
I remember the worst semester of my college career. Classes taught by PhD students and ungracious hippies and demanding social workers from Ghana. I remember UK winning the national championship. Sitting on the steps of my studio apartment listening to the wild parties because I could not participate.
I am almost physically uncomfortable remembering this season of my life.
On April 19th I found out I was having a little baby boy. Judah Nathaniel. He was already named. God had told me he was a boy -- and given me a name. I found out I was having a little boy just two days after Katherine and David found out they were too. A generation of girls, giving birth to a generation of boys.
I also found out that Judah had a calcium deposit on his little heart. And I prayed the boldest, most trusting prayer I've ever prayed. Only to have God answer me with that peace that transcends all understanding.
In May I moved out of my studio apartment and spent the months of May and June technically homeless. I slept on Nubia's futon. Got a job at a daycare. Sat in the truck with him and finally learned a truth that would still, today, impact my life.
In May I also started a practicum at NECCO. A Private Child Caring Agency. I came to intern with them for what I thought would be a summer placement. I took trips to the detention center and sat in on intakes and multiple times almost threw up in my supervisor's vehicle while driving down the interstate. I became a social worker -- if not in credentials, in mentality.
And at the end of June I moved back to Redding Road after twenty some odd years. Larry calls us homing pigeons, always returning home.
In July, I saw my son's face for the first time. We were checking on the EIF in his heart, and because there were so few patients in the office that day, the US tech gave me a free 3D ultrasound. So many people would tell me that these 3D ultrasounds were not a strong indicator of what babies would actually look like once they're born. But they were wrong. That day the US told me my son was healthy and whole. And to this day, I watch Judah make the same faces he did while he was in the womb.
In August Mary and Jamere got married. I was part of their story from day one -- the late night in the club when Mary texted me and joked about this "baby" she'd met. Not even a year later, they'd be married. My only regret is I didn't dance at their wedding.
In August I was also hired on at NECCO, my practicum placement, as a part time home resource assistant. Without an interview, I laid my resume on the Program Director's desk and was hired the next day. Making it possible for me to quit my jobs at Orange Leaf and Crestwood and put myself in position for a promotion.
I also started my last semester of college. Walking into class and sitting sideways in the desk because my belly was too big to fit.
I bought a new car -- trading my Ford Focus in for a Corolla. My second investment as a mother.
On September 1st Elijah David Rector was born. The first son, first grandson, first great-grandson, first great-nephew. My first nephew. He was born with a thick head of hair and amazed us at the way he grew cuter every day.
On September 12th 2012, on Olivia's 19th birthday, I was admitted to Central Baptist Hospital to be induced. Judah was comfortable and didn't want to come on his own. I was miserable. Feet were swollen, PUPPPS in full effect. I drove myself to the hospital. Registered in a private room.
And on September 13th at 6:05pm, fifteen hours of labor and one hour of pushing, Judah Nathaniel was born. 8 lbs 5 oz and 21 1/2 inches long.
This, he, was the story of 2012.
He is almost four months old now and it has been the longest and shortest four months of my life. Those hard battles, which I had foreshadowed in 2011, continue to be fought.
On December 14th, I graduated from University of Kentucky with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. Against all odds, I am now done. Anna Vaughan, BASW.
So much heartbreak has continued to happen. I have never asked God "why" so many times in my life. Never felt so hopeless, so excited, so terrified, so inadequate.
As the new year rolls over I am still laying in bed recovering from the stomach flu. Larry has Judah and I am alone. This week... this week ahead means more than last night ever could have.
This week means closure. This week is a greatest expression of all the grace I have left. This week is an anniversary. This week is a promotion. This week has already been hard conversations and certain levels of hurt. So much thinking as the new year approached. I can't even get my mind to a place where I can make any plans. I don't even know what I want for this next year. Except for peace and progress.
I am so thankful. I am thankful for him for staying when he didn't have to. For loving my son. For being my big man, who in so many ways, has fixed so many things in my heart and in our lives.
I am so thankful for Olivia -- Judah's Aunt Liv. Who moved into my living room in September and never left.
I am so thankful for those who have walked me through 2012. Who have listened to my crying, who have put up with the horrible drama, who have fed me, and clothed Judah. Who have taken out my trash and taken me out. I am so thankful for those loved me enough to include me.
I am so thankful for those people who still look like Jesus.
And I am thankful for those who haven't given up on me. Who know the Father and the Spirit well enough to still see them in me.
As the New Year starts, I can't help but think about him. And hope that, even though he is not involved, his life would be blessed and impacted one day. That the hurt he caused would heal and his place would be taken. But mostly that one day, he would look back and not be hurt by his mistakes, but encouraged by our grace.
And so, as always, my New Year's resolution is to "do better". It's just that the things I need to "do better" at this year are different than ever before.
This year, I hope I am a better mother. A better friend. I hope the work I do on a daily basis helps better the lives of forgotten children. I hope when people look at my life, they see a better picture of Jesus.
I hope to do better at balancing. To find ways to contribute, to stretch myself, to love the people in my life better. I hope to learn to be more gracious, more patient, more understanding. I hope I am a better friend.
I hope to stand up for myself and my son and be brave enough to walk away from the things that hurt us.
I hope I remember how to risk and to listen.
I hope I get answers. I hope I get closure. I hope we find freedom in being and loving the way we were created to.
I hope I keep learning.
And that at the end of this year, I hope I have a new story to tell.