We were in Kijabe, Kenya waiting for the birth of our 3rd child. Kijabe is home to a mission boarding school, a mission hospital, and a Bible school. Since we lived a good 2 ½ hour’s drive away from the hospital, we typically would come a bit earlier than the anticipated arrival dates of our children and either house-sit for someone away or stay in the local motel. Kijabe happens to sit on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley and hence is a geologically active area. Nearby Mt. Longonot sits in the Great Rift Valley and is known for letting off steam from time to time. In addition, tremors are not uncommon in the area.
Now, I was raised in a Navy family and we moved every 2-3 years while I was growing up, but we never lived in a geologically active locale. Hence, I was always curious about what it would feel like being in an earthquake, or even an earth tremor – one large enough to feel and see its effects. Such things excited my curiosity as a child. But here I was, a middle-aged adult and had never experienced such excitement.
It was the evening of Amanda’s due date and I was preparing dinner in the kitchen. I had earlier gone down to the hospital to get checked out because something felt ‘different’ and I was wondering if I might be in early labor. But I was told that I had plenty of time. I returned back up the hill, rather doubtful. Something was just…different! As I waddled back and forth in the kitchen, proverbially heavy with child, and trying to prepare a simple repast, my overnight bag all packed and sitting ready in a corner, suddenly Chip called out in surprise, “Wow! Did you feel that?” “Feel what?”, I replied, wondering what could have excited my husband so much. “That tremor!”, he shot back disbelievingly, likely wondering how I could have missed such a thing. “I felt it shake my easy chair and I could see the ceiling light swaying!”
I felt cheated! How on earth could I have actually been in an earth tremor and I not feel it?! My first earthquake and I was oblivious to it? How? I could only surmise that being already unstable on my feet passing back and forth across the kitchen, I simply had not noticed. Any disequilibrium would be attributed to my present condition. Granted, it likely would not have registered very high on the Richter Scale, but still…that did not feel fair. I should have at least felt a vibration or noticed glasses jiggling. But to notice nothing at all…somehow, I felt cheated of something significant.
It was only a few hours later our daughter was born. Later, it would become a family joke that God was warning us, indeed the world, that Amanda was coming! This beautiful, sweet, and utterly loving child would turn our lives topsy turvy, like an earthquake. When people heard that after 2 boys, we finally got a girl, they would say “Oh, how sweet…a nice, easy girl.” If they only knew! If only we knew that this girl would challenge all our ideas, knowledge, and practices of parenting, would we do it again? You bet we would! Was Amanda a difficult child to raise? Yes, indeed. Are we still glad we had her to raise? Yes, again! So, though we joke about God sending an earth tremor to warn everyone of Amanda’s arrival, I would not trade our personal earthquake for the world!