We have all experienced perfect storms: times where a mess of situations collide making life exponentially harder. “They say” it is how you weather the storm that counts, but sometimes, it is surviving the storm that counts. We recently encountered one of these cosmic storms in our family.
My husband signed up for the Texas Board of Legal Specialization exam in January 2015 before we knew we were pregnant, before we knew we would be moving, and before we realized I would be on modified bed rest. It was the perfect storm of unforeseen circumstances.
It was his third time to sign-up for the exam. His third time to study.
The first round he was prepared, but postponed the exam after he found himself sitting in a hospital room with his brother who was in a near fatal car accident. Two months later, we welcomed our first child. We could not imagine a season more difficult than this to take an exam. He was determined to start preparing for the following year.
The second round was harder. We had a one-year-old and our business was booming. We were consistently working long hours with 6-day workweeks as we prepped the office for a move to a new building. Again, he put in the hard hours of study, but to our dismay, he failed. The taste of failure was sour and it lingered. He could not wait to start again. He wanted to prove to himself he could do this.
He was determined to master this beast, and I was in his corner cheering him on. He registered for the exam in January along with several continued education classes to help keep current. He started studying even earlier.
In February we found out we were expecting our second baby due in October. I was immediately experiencing flashbacks or maybe slight panic attacks. I began asking him to reschedule his exam, but he was determined to knock it out this time. He just kept emphasizing that every year finding time to study was getting harder and he needed to take his business to the next level.
Over the years I’ve learned it takes wisdom to know which endeavors are worth the effort. Before babies, reaching our career goals was simpler. We were young and hard working. It was easier to burn the midnight oil and enjoy the fruits of our labor. As our family has grown our priorities have changed and it has been increasingly difficult to want to take on large projects that reduce family time. I knew we shared that common belief in family time and if my husband felt this exam was that important then I was on board.
In Walks Murphy:
In good ole Murphy fashion, in May, we determined we needed to move. We had a neighbor that was poisoning animals and our toddler found the poison in our yard. I was having a hard enough time keeping up, I did not have time to make sure my kid wasn’t consuming poison from a discontent neighbor. We again discussed putting the exam off. Yet, he felt like he had been making progress on his studiesand he could handle the move too.
Over the next two weeks, our realtor and I visited over 60 homes. We were on an intense house hunt. I had made a hard and fast line that I would not move in my third trimester. Period. I did not want to be sitting in an unpacked home with a toddler and newborn wondering where our can opener was hiding.
Finally, we found a home and were under contract. I was relaxing with our family at our community pool when I started having consistent painful contractions at 23-weeks gestation. I ended up in the ER that night praying that the contractions would stop. A few hours later they did, but we did not have any answers. We didn’t know why they started or if they would come back. We were told there was little we could do to stop labor if it started again.
I was instructed to reduce my activity and listen to my body. It did not take much activity for the contractions to resume. It became the longest 16 weeks of my life as I worried about a pre-term delivery. While I worried, I watched my husband study, pack, and move our house. We were in our new home and mostly unpacked one- week before my third trimester began. Our summer was a whirlwind that we were living in slow motion.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we continued to have long and passionate conversations about cancelling the exam, but we consistently had the same conclusion. He would press on towards taking the exam. After all, this is the same man that traveled two to three times a semester for seven years while I chased a Ph.D. I understood his determination. I understood the pressure to have answers for your clients, to know that you are taking care of them to the best of your ability, and to know that your advice is good. We created guidelines of when we would cancel and otherwise he would press on.
Let’s Have a Baby:
To our surprise, we reached 38-weeks gestation. We found it difficult to comprehend that after weeks of trying to delay a pre-term delivery that I was still pregnant. We found ourselves with a new concern as I could potentially go into labor on exam day. Since February, the only thing my husband was more expressive about, other than he was taking this exam, was he would be present at the birth. We had reached a point where we had to make a firm stand on whether he would take the exam that coming Friday or ask for an extension. My first son was born at 38- weeks, so we opted to move the test back. The exam day came and went, and I was still pregnant.
The weight on my shoulders intensified, as I needed to have a baby–soon. It was not just the exam, I was feeling miserable. So we started the regular 39-week routine. We began walking then running to make sure this baby came sooner rather than later. Every walk ended with me having several hours of painful contractions. Every night I would go to bed not sure I was going to make it to morning, but morning came and still no baby.
FINALLY, Monday morning at 9 AM we started seeing more labor signs. We were in the hospital by that evening and we had a beautiful boy born the next day at 2:43 P.M.
We named our second son Lincoln. It was an easy choice. We are enamored with the character of Abraham Lincoln. We dream to raise children with similar qualities of honesty, integrity, and perseverance.
We were home 24-hours post delivery enjoying a very comfortable and quiet few days home together as a family of four. Five days later, my mom was scheduled to stay with us for two days while my husband was in Austin to take his exam. By exam day, somehow, he actually looked rested and ready.
Lincoln was born October 21st and Charlie took the exam on October 28th. Lincoln had a check-up scheduled on the 28th. Charlie was halfway through his exam when I was told I needed to take our newborn to the hospital to be admitted for phototherapy for jaundice.
I felt a bit paralyzed. I knew my baby was ok. The doctors had explained where he was on the spectrum and this was more of a proactive measure. However, Charlie and I always did these things together. It is one of the ways we supported each other. On the other hand, he was halfway through the exam and if he left it would be an automatic fail. We had worked too hard to get here. Two hours later, the exam was over and he came straight to meet me at the hospital.
That evening as our infant was looking better and the tension from the exam was melting away the tears began to flow. It had been a very long 10 months, but some how we had made it through. We just had to wait until January to see if he passed.
January came and we were notified he passed. The ceremony would be in March.
Finally, this past month we enjoyed the victory of attending the Board Certification Induction Ceremony as a family. We watched as a father and daughter were introduced together. The father was on the board and had passed the exam when his daughter was two years old and today she was standing to be recognized for becoming board certified. I could not help but wonder what impact this was making on our two-year-old sitting to my right.
As the orator read “Tom Charles Jerome Weisinger” and our two boys watched their dad stand to be recognized, I realized we accomplished something much larger than a certification that less than 10% of attorneys have attained. We have achieved more than another professional rung on the ladder.
We have survived the storm. We have persevered towards our goal. We have given greater meaning to our son’s name, as he was named during a season of strong-willed perseverance.
We were fortunate that the exam results were in our favor and that a few months later Charlie was recognized as a Rising Star 2016 by S.A. Scene Magazine. However, the biggest reward was we weathered this storm together.
We would like to thank our staff for their continual support and assistance over this past year. There were many times they were placed on-call for Charlie’s cases while we waited Lincoln’s arrival. They also endured working with us during this intense year. I am sure they visibly saw our wrinkles deepen and our hair thin.
We would also like to thank our church life group who prayed for and with us during this intense season. Without you, none of this would have been possible.