By the time John and I had settled into our new house in Houston, Texas, I was ready to start a family. It was 1979 and now that our only major expense was our mortgage payment, the road was clear and the quiver needed to be filled. Our first attempt at being fruitful and multiplying had ended in an early miscarriage so I was anxious and insecure about the next pregnancy.
Within a few months I was pregnant, sick, and tired. Very tired. I could eat a good breakfast and reasonable lunch, but by dinner I couldn’t look at food. For some reason the only thing I had a taste for at night was oatmeal. I couldn’t stand the smell or sight of meat as it was cooking, so John dutifully made me a bowl of oatmeal every night after work. I couldn’t even drink a cup of my beloved coffee in the morning. I would carpool with the girls from work, but if I wasn’t the one driving I would fall into a deep, drooling, sleep.
At the third month of pregnancy, I had to quit work. I was exhausted. All of these extreme symptoms seemed to bode well for a healthy pregnancy and I began to pray for twins. I don’t know why, but the Lord laid it on my heart to pray for twins. By the time I was about five months along, I looked to be seven months. Could it be that God was answering my prayers?
My days were spent doing light chores, walking our Irish setter, and taking frequent naps. I was thankful that I had quit my job so that I could follow the rhythms of my body and do what I needed to do for the health of my child. The further along I advanced in the pregnancy the more attention I drew from people who were sure I was about to go into labor. When I informed them that I was only seven months pregnant, they sometimes backed away from me as if I were not in my right mind. A neighbor and experienced mother of twin boys warned me consistently that I was having twins.
My doctor begged to disagree with me and my opinionated lady friends, and conceded the possibility that I was having an “ouch” baby, not twins. After each visit at my obstetrician’s office, I would lie in bed and feel my abdomen for baby parts. By my count there were far too many feet and other lumps.
By the middle of the seventh month I was unable to do much around the house and I was experiencing severe pain in my diaphragm every evening. I couldn’t get the doctors to take this seriously. They thought I was having indigestion. This wasn’t indigestion and I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle my otherwise competent doctor. Finally one morning I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and in anger I told John that if he didn’t get the doctor to figure out what was wrong with me, I would divorce him. John called the office and repeated my threat at which point they made arrangements for me to have one of those new-fangled ultrasounds.
Off we went to a tech center somewhere, into the office of a female technician from India. I only mention her nationality because I find east Indians to be very humorous and the heavier the accent, the better. As she began the process of looking for an unhealthy gall bladder, WHICH IS WHAT MY DOCTOR THOUGHT WAS WRONG and for which he ordered the ultrasound, she asked, “Did they tell you that you were having twins?” To which I replied, “No. They said it was just a big baby.” She began muttering derogatory things about the stupid doctors, but I don’t remember what she said because I wasn’t sure if John was going to faint.
After a few minutes of disbelief, my Indian tech told us that she could see one baby was definitely a girl, but she could not determine the gender of baby number two. As we left the building, John told everyone we met in the elevator that we were having twins. Once home we called my mother who immediately booked a flight to Houston to help me prepare for two babies. That night was the last night of pain. The next morning I could tell that Baby A (Rebekah), head down, had dropped, making room for Baby B (Rachel) whose head had been causing all of my pain.
Four weeks later, I entered the hospital to be induced. My blood pressure was too high and I was full-term. As I lay in bed watching the Yankees in the World Series, my water broke and labor began. My body went right into hard labor with no breaks between contractions. After five hours it was decided that I needed a caesarean section seeing as they could not control my blood pressure. I had made John vow that he would not let them do surgery on me, but by this time in the torture I couldn’t wait to get knocked out. When I came to, I was the mother of two girls, one 6 pounds, the other 4 pounds, 14 ounces. Rachel was the runt and spent the night in the incubator, but was soon placed in a normal crib.
It is said that when we pray, it is not to conform God to our will, hoping to get what we want from Him. We pray so that our will might be conformed to God’s perfect will. There is no reason in the world for me to have suddenly felt compelled to ask God for twins unless the compulsion originated with God first. He knew I needed those girls. In a way they were the visible representation of the salvation that had come to me three years before. A sign and a seal of being born-again in Christ.
Since that morning of October 21, 1981, there has never been a day that Rebekah and Rachel have not blessed me. There has never been a day of strife between my daughters and myself. Life couldn’t be more blessed than when children love their parents as much as their parents love them and demonstrate that love in their trust and obedience.
I am acutely aware that I really don’t deserve the life I have lived and the love I have received from my husband and my children. God’s grace is sufficient for me and sometimes it is overwhelming. Rebekah and Rachel, I love you more than you could know. May you have the joy from your children that I have had from you.
John Danaher has spent a good deal of our marriage on the road visiting customers, usually at gas processing or window manufacturing plants. I could put my finger on a calendar from days gone by and there is a possibility that he would have been on a business trip on that day many years ago. I do know for sure that on October 2, 1986, John was in Louisville, Kentucky, visiting a customer. How can I be so sure? Because he was squeezing in his last business trip before the birth of baby number four, due around October 18th, except baby number four, now known as Matthew John Danaher, decided to arrive early sending all of us into a panic.
Matthew had tried to get out one week earlier, but that proved to be a false alarm and a foreshadowing at the same time. We worried that I might not make it to the end of John’s last, long trip and we didn’t. Rebekah, Rachel, and David were asleep when the pains began. I called my mother to take me to the hospital, my neighbor to babysit the kids, and John to complain about his not being home. We arrived at Christ Hospital where they prepped me for my 3rd C-section because even though the doctors were OK with a normal birth, Matt was breach and not wanting it any other way.
Everything went smoothly. The darkest of my newborns was brought out to his Grandma Marilyn where she exclaimed, “Finally, my Italian baby!” These days when Matt grows out his substantial beard, which takes about two days, my father refers to him as Omar.
So John high-tailed it home to his second son, now part of the rebuilding of the Danahers of Wenona, Illinois. John’s dad, John Sr., had been the last of the descendents of the men who had migrated from County Limerick, Ireland. But John had married Rosemary Cassidy and in no time they had 5 boys and 5 girls. Those five boys have begotten 10 grandsons, thereby continuing the Danaher name, so all is well.
Matt has been one of the most low-maintenance kids I have ever met. He loved his family, but all he cared about was being with his brother. By the time he was two, he would wake in the morning, come running into the kitchen and ask, “Where’s David?” This was the beginning of the contrast between the two brothers. David, like me, was always up and moving early while Matt, like John, could, according to my father, “Sleep on a picket fence.”
One day he came in from outside and proceeded to gather a paperclip, rubber band, the dislodged trigger from his toy gun and some other odds and ends. I asked what he was doing and he announced that he was going to fix his broken rifle. Pretty impressive for a 3 year old.
At the end of each year, John would have to tally our healthcare costs for each child, and although Matt always seemed to have a perpetual runny nose, we hardly ever had any bills for him. He never seemed to ask for much. He and David loved their Legos, but as long as he had his brother he was content. Matt also displayed a streak of stubborn loyalty. In 1992, this 6 year old, from the back seat of the car, rebuked me when he found out I was supporting Pat Buchanan against President George H. W. Bush in the Republican primary.
All of the kids had to take piano lessons, but by the time Matt was being instructed he had already become familiar with the pieces of music from listening to his sisters and brother practice. Our piano teacher was slightly frustrated because he wasn’t really reading any notes. He just picked it up aurally. He then proceeded to learn the mandolin, guitar, and Scottish snare drum for the bagpipe band in which his sister and brother were members. Over the years Matt has proved to be quite the musician. If I had let him, he might have eschewed higher education in favor of trying to make it in the music industry, but I had spent his childhood hammering home the rule that he had to complete a college degree and so he did.
My fourth child, my second son, is making his way in this world and his dad and I couldn’t be more thankful that at the age of 25 he holds fast to the faith of his fathers and seeks to serve Christ. My only prayer is that God will teach him that the Chicago Bears are not worth the torture he allows them to inflict every Sunday.