Sunday, July 9, 2017

35 weeks

This week went by so quickly between the holiday, work, and knee injury drama. Ross tore his meniscus on Sunday, so he saw the PCP on Monday and got an MRI on Friday. Now we are figuring out how to schedule his surgery and pay more medical bills. Meanwhile he's limping around and neither of us can lift anything heavy. It's been... interesting.

So. Thirty five weeks are over and done with, and now baby no longer has an automatic ticket to the NICU. I feel like a ticking time bomb! It's unnerving to think she could be here in 2.5 weeks like Noah was, or she could throw us all for a loop at stay put until mid-August.

How I'm feeling: Big. Sometimes I feel normal, like when I'm laying in bed in the morning, or I'll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror early in the day and think my belly isn't THAT big. But the maternity tanks that fit me last time are getting a little short this time, and I think I'm definitely a little bigger this time around. And I'm convinced this child is huge! She seems to fill up my whole belly, and kicks to the ribs are not infrequent. It's so crazy! But the kicks and the belly are what I'll miss the very most. Otherwise, now that I know how fun it is to get to know the kid in there, I'm getting pretty excited to meet her and I don't think I'll miss feeling pregnant as much as I did last time. (I will miss looking obviously pregnant though). Also, pregnancy in July is not for the faint of heart. I've never been a sweater, but I'm constantly sweaty and overheated and thirsty now! The good parts of third trimester in warm weather, though, are the flip flops and the POOL. I didn't get to go swimming last week and I need to change that this week.

Symptoms: I'm definitely starting to get some swelling, which I don't really remember having last time. I'm sure it's a combination of the heat and the fact that I'm simply not sleeping well at all. I'm either up for the day after 4am, or I'm up hourly all night long. I'm starting to feel "tired but wired" at bedtime, too, which means it keeps inching later and later. I look so tired in all my pictures this summer! Also, nausea and food aversions have kicked in again. I forgot that this happened last time toward the end. The ONLY thing that sounds good is cold water, smoothies, and big salads. Of course, I still can and do eat most everything, but soups, coffee, and chocolate are quite unappetizing again. Still having lots of Braxton-Hicks, too. Not more frequent, but definitely intense than they were in the first pregnancy.

Home life: Well, this week was rough as mentioned above. With Ross' inability to walk and my inability to bend at the waist, we just didn't have a productive week around the house. I had been hoping to clean up the playroom once and for all (it's been a baby supply staging area for a few months), but that obviously didn't happen. Thankfully, my parents were here this weekend, and my mom swept the whole house and tidied up! And my dad helped me get Noah's old baby bins down in the garage, so now I've gone through and sorted and labeled those, and I think I've tracked down all the newborn stuff we have. So newborn clothes are almost all washed and put away, cloth diapers are out, snapped into their smallest sizes, and ready to go, and I even started packing the hospital bag. Who am I!? It's so weird to do this, because we weren't able to have ANYTHING ready the first time.

Exercise: Aside from walking, I didn't get to do much this week. I wonder if that has also affected my anxiety and my sleep quality? Noah and I did take a long, slow walk Friday morning, which was sweet. It's always nice when we don't have to rush somewhere!

Best thing I ate this week: This is a tie between Taste Nirvana coconut water (SO MUCH BETTER than any other coconut water I've had from the grocery store) and the scallops I had for dinner on Saturday at Merchant's in Lawrence. Yes, scallops still sound so amazing. Possibly the closest thing I've had to a consistent craving this pregnancy!



This week, I had a few moments of realizing, "wait... I'm like PREGNANT!" It was really weird. I think you just expect to feel that for so long, and then it doesn't really kick in til the end when it looks like you always expected it to look and feel all along.






Sunday, July 2, 2017

34 weeks and a false alarm

It's July 2. I'm 35 weeks pregnant today. 35 days to go until my due date, but we are likely to meet baby a bit before that. THIS MONTH. How is that possible?!

We rung in 34 weeks with a fun false alarm. I'm not sure if was because baby's position changed, or if my body was just over the last few weeks of go, go, go, but after church on Sunday I started having... contractions? They didn't quite feel like LABOR contractions, but they were also pretty different compared to the normal Braxton-Hicks I have all the time. My lower back was killing me, and the contractions were coming every 2 minutes. They didn't hurt? Per se? Not compared to labor, at least. But they were intense enough to stop me in my tracks when walking. I went home and laid down, and they didn't stop, so I called the Midwife. Since they DID finally stop with a warm bath, I narrowly avoided a visit to triage. But I had to stay in bed the rest of the day because they started up again the minute I would stand up! I drank a ton of water and Gatorade, took Benadryl and Tylenol that night, and slept it off.

I woke up on Monday quite sore, but thankfully back to my normal Braxton-Hicks. My Midwife appointment verified that I hadn't made any actual labor progress. Whew! I was really starting to panic there. However, it was soon evident that sister is now in a transverse position, which is REALLY uncomfortable given that she's 4.5-5 pounds, and roughly 18 inches long. I mean, there's a BABY in there and I am not wide enough for her to be chilling out sideways. It feels like my abs and my tailbone are going to rip open.

I'm not going to lie... it's making me nervous. Turns out transverse is actually a little more worrisome than a frank breech position at this stage, suggesting that possibly the placenta or cord is in the way, keeping her from turning again. I'm constantly praying for her to get head down, but I'm also praying that she stays SAFE. It makes me so nervous to think about cord accidents, nuchal cords, true knots, placental abruption. Ugh. So many many things that can go wrong between now and the sweet day I get to hold her in my arms. Pregnancy is so miraculous and so humbling, and I'm just praying that God keeps us both safe for a few more weeks. And a head-down baby with an uneventful birth would be even better.

This week, I happened to have a chiropractor appointment, acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga. Ha! Even if she hasn't moved, I'm marginally more comfortable, but also way bigger than I was 7 days ago. Someone had a growth spurt! I don't remember the stretching being this painful last time. Either it's her fun position, or I just forgot about this part. I thought since everything has already been stretched once, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but I three years was a long time ago, I guess, and my body has been through a lot.

Best moment of the week: We got a care package from the family I used to nanny for in Texas. They sent a perfect big brother book for Noah that made me tear up, but they also sent some adorable pajamas and a Madeline book for baby sister. Well. Noah is OBSESSED with the Madeline book. Like we read it a dozen times a day. He calls it his baby sister book. SO CUTE. (Runner up moment was the way Noah's eyes lit up when I told him he would get to meet baby sister in one month. "Not two months!?" "Nope, just one more month!")


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Postpartum Freezer Meals: Part 2

I made some BIG plans for freezer meals, detailed here. Today is one month away from the gestational age at which Noah was born, and given my increasing discomfort, I realized I needed to get this done sooner rather than later.

How I did it

DAY 1 (1.5-2 hours): In the morning, I started the pulled pork in the crockpot and we ate some for dinner, gave some to a friend for a baby meal, and froze the rest for postpartum. Then before bed, I washed and chopped ALL the produce. This actually took almost two hours! It's the most tedious part of cooking, for me, and it was nice to get it out of the way.

DAY 2 (5 hours): I got EVERYTHING out on the counter. All the ingredients I would need for all of the recipes. Turns out this was overly ambitious, but it kept me from having to search for random stuff mid-recipe. Then I tackled most of the uncooked meat dishes. Before putting anything in freezer bags, I wrote the date, the name of the recipe, and the cooking or re-heating instructions so I wouldn't have to look it up later. To assemble these, I used one bowl for each marinade, rinsing well in between. Same for the small bowl I used for each dry spice mixture. I put the meat right in the freezer bag, dumped the marinade over it, and then sealed and laid the bag horizontally in the deep freezer. This method helped me assemble the jerk chicken tacos, maple dijon chicken, salsa chicken, and beef and broccoli pretty quickly.

Then, since the chicken was already in use, I continued with the rest of the chicken dishes. I put the chicken enchilada filling in the crockpot and put the chicken spaghetti bake in the oven.

While those were cooking, I moved onto the ground meat dishes. I processed all the bread crumbs in the food processor in one batch, to measure out accordingly. Then I used one big bowl for each of the ground meat dishes, rinsing it in between recipes (and using fresh gloves for each batch, because I hate mixing meat with bare hands). I made the meatballs and put them in a freezer bag with the tomato sauce, to be cooked after thawing. Then I made the turkey loaf and Greek meatloaf muffins.  When they cooled, I wrapped them in foil and then put them each in a freezer bag and placed in the freezer.

I had to sauté some of the veggies for the meatloaf, and I used the same sauté pan to then cook the Italian sausage, onions, and garlic for the cauliflower and Italian sausage casserole. I boiled the cauliflower in a big soup pot, and then assembled and baked that casserole as well. With the casseroles, I baked them in disposable aluminum trays, cooled in the fridge, covered rightly with foil, and then covered with the included plastic lid, on which I wrote the date and the re-heating instructions.

Then I used that same soup pot to boil the second round of cauliflower, for the alfredo sauce and I went ahead and blended that and put in a freezer bag. Finally, I assembled the white bean chicken chili and let it all simmer in the soup pot while I started to clean up. (I put the rotisserie chicken carcass in the freezer to make bone broth at a later date.)

This all took 5 hours and while I didn't finish everything, I was kind of over it after 5 hours. I still made 13 meals in two days, and the deep freezer is filling up quickly!

DAY 3 (1.5-2 hours): I really didn't want to do more, but I had bought, washed, and chopped all that produce, and I knew I needed to utilize the fresh stuff, lest it go bad. So I made the 7 vegetable cheese soup, the red lentil dal, and the lentil mushroom walnut balls. The other soups I listed mostly utilize canned vegetable purees and frozen veggies, so I will keep those ingredients in the pantry and they'll be reasonably easy to make as needed and store in the fridge for a week. Same with the baked bean and cornbread casserole.

DAY 4 (3 hours, but this is skewed because the toddler was awake and around for most of it): So over it today. But I powered through and made the chana masala, vegan stuffed shells, and a double batch of lactation cookies. I thought the vegan meals would be nice to have for quick lunches, but I forgot that vegan meals sometimes take longer to assemble than meat dishes because you have to cook the beans, roast the walnuts, soak the cashews, etc. Next time I would consider leaving the dal, the chana masala, and the lentil mushroom walnut balls off the list. But they may prove to be invaluable to have on hand, later, so I'll see if it was worth the extra time.

LATER: I still hope to make the pancakes, Glo bars, and breakfast cookies before baby comes, but worst case scenario, Ross and Noah can make those while I supervise.

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THOUGHTS: Our brand new deep freezer is FULL. It feels really good, but I'm also really over cooking. Like I want to take a whole week off! But I have 18 meals in the freezer, and that feels great. I'm really hopeful that they will taste good/fresh in 1-3 months, and that they really will save time later. I neglected Noah a bit this week in the rush to have these DONE. I hope it keeps my postpartum self from standing in the kitchen too much in the first 2 months, though, and that means more time with Noah (and baby) down the road.

I'll write one more post once we've eaten everything, to follow-up on how it stored and re-heated! For now, here's the final tally of what I made (I put this list on the side of the deep freezer along with side dishes that would turn the frozen dish into a full meal):

-jerk chicken taco meat
-meatballs in tomato sauce
-maple dijon chicken
-salsa chicken
-beef and broccoli
-turkey loaf
-chicken enchilada filling
-pulled pork
-chicken spaghetti bake
-Greek meatloaf muffins
-cauliflower and Italian sausage casserole
-7 vegetable 'cheese' soup
-smoky white bean chili
-vegan alfredo sauce
-vegan stuffed manicotti shells
-red lentil dal
-chana masala
-lentil mushroom walnut balls
-lactation cookies


Sunday, June 25, 2017

33 weeks and expectations

Thank goodness for this blog, because I'm totally losing all track of how far along I am. The other day, Ross asked, "you're like, 37 weeks, right?!" Ha! No. But I feel like I should be. I was reading my old posts, and it's nice to see that this time last time, I was very emotional and worn out. Because right now, I'm... tired. Physically and emotionally. (My blog also tells me I even having lots of hip pain, craving vegetables at 33 weeks, and losing hair last time, like I have been this week! So funny.)

I'm up for the day around 4am and it's kind of making me worthless at mom-ming. I'm anxious about entering into the newborn fog when I'm already so tired. So I'm done trying to wean off of the Unisom. When I take half a tablet before bed, and drink a little coffee the next morning, I feel like I can take on the world! Or at least I feel some resemblance to my non-pregnant self. Better living through chemistry, when all else fails, I guess.

This week, I washed and folded tiny little newborn clothes, and I had a moment of gratitude. I was living out of a suitcase and had yet to purchase any baby clothes this time the first go-around, so I'm enjoying these little bursts of nesting. The excitement is slowly starting to counter-balance the anxiety that flared up in the past few weeks, but I think some of the anxiety is just here to stay until the end. So much is about to change.

This week, though, I'm realizing maybe I'm trying too hard to "enjoy these last few weeks." Last summer with Noah was really really sweet, and I find myself trying to re-create it: toddler time at the pool, Wednesday mornings at the farmer's market. I wanted to squeeze some of it in before I felt downright miserable, but I'm slowly starting to realize: I already feel downright miserable, and it's already impossible to re-create last summer.

I also sometimes feel like we need to rush here and there, because I know we will be home-bound for a month or so after baby arrives. Yet, our best summer 2017 memories thus far have been the slowest ones: puttering in the garden as a family after Noah's Sunday afternoon nap. Taking an early morning walk to Starbucks with Noah and chilling and reading books there before walking home. Taking dinner to the pool and meeting Ross there after work where we all swim for an hour before heading home for the bedtime routine.

I'm also realizing that "enjoying every minute of pregnancy" is just an impossible expectation. Yes, it makes me sad to feel like every week that goes by might be the last time I'm x number of weeks pregnant, but what would it look like to "fully soak it up"? I'll tell you. It would look like a week on the beach in Hawaii. Daily prenatal massages. Daily ultrasounds to just watch baby wiggle around and really figure out the various positions she puts herself in. (I can sort of guess sometimes from the outside, but it'd be so fun to master it with ultrasound verification.) It looks like fresh, seasonal food cooked to order for every meal, with zero cleanup on my part. It looks like spending at least an hour a day floating in the water and another hour a day in a lounge chair reading books on pregnancy, birth, and parenting. It looks like morning and evening walks, either having an adult conversation or listening to a good podcast. I looks like an hour of quiet time every morning and a full night's sleep every night. So what I'm saying is, it looks like a fantasy. It's just not possible to spend every minute of the day focused on this incredible thing that's happening.

So... I'm going to try to slow down when I can. Take more belly shots. Stop and feel when she's moving (the movements are already getting less dramatic as baby gets bigger). More pool time with Noah and less running to a bajillion errands and appointments. More prayer throughout the day. Earlier bedtimes. I'm trying to finish up "nesting" tasks by the end of June so that I can spend July in more of a "resting" mode. Here's hoping!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

32 weeks

If time could start moving a LITTLE more slowly, that would be great. The weeks are ticking by alarmingly quickly now. This was a fun week with Noah, but pretty uncomfortable pregnancy-wise between the heat and humidity, varicose veins, and pelvic and back pain. I'm splurging on a massage tomorrow, and I'm so looking forward to it. I think I would be a better person if I could afford massages every other week. Ha!

The week kind of started last Saturday when we had a fun family day of blueberry picking, eating at a new restaurant for lunch, and baking pie. It was a really refreshing day for ALL of us after a long, anxious, sleepless week the week before. Sunday, though, greeted me with lots of Braxton-Hicks and discomfort. I definitely feel pregnant all the time, except for when I very first wake up in the morning!

How I’m feeling: Nervous, excited, tired, big.

Home life: Knock on wood, renovations are DONE! Three years later than anticipated, but better late than never. I had the house spotless about two weeks ago, but it's totally messy again and I'm way too big/uncomfortable to be scrubbing baseboards now, so we will see if it gets clean clean again before delivery. Either way, I'm so excited that there's no more exposed drywall.

Nursery: Ross and I are agreeing to disagree on this right now. Our 900 square foot house consists of three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a small laundry room/pantry/mud room. No basement, dining room, office, or play room. So... the third bedroom is an office/playroom and we love having the extra space. It's also literally in the middle of the house, so it really wouldn't make a quiet bedroom. I want the baby to sleep in our room for 4-5 months (like Noah did) and then share a room with Noah. Ross says there's no way on earth that will happen because Noah didn't sleep through the night till he was 15 months old and, well, this baby comes from the same gene pool. I, however, need to be optimistic, so we are going to pretend that room-sharing is a feasible option for these two. For now.

Nesting: I did get an energy boost between 20-30 weeks, and it was amazing after a long winter. However, I'm slowing down quickly now. I need to make my freezer meals in the next two weeks before I totally peter out, and then hopefully I can spend my time resting instead of nesting! That is, when I'm not momming or working.

Belly button: Flat or out, depending on the day, the outfit, and baby's position.

Sleep: Night hunger and waking up for the day at 4am have been the name of the game again this week. Between 31 weeks and birth, baby DOUBLES or TRIPLES in weight! So I think these symptoms are just here to stay.

Wearing: Shorts and tanktops. Swimsuits.

Exercise: Walking, Barre 3, and... lap swimming! Last time I waited way too long to get into the pool, and this time I told myself I'd start swimming sooner. It feels SO SO SO good. I wish I'd started even sooner, but I'm definitely glad I didn't wait later.

Reading: Still haven't started on those parenting books I said I'd read before baby #2... I'm kind of loving reading novels for fun while I still have a little time on my hands.

Cravings: I need vegetables STAT. I've been lazy and not wanting to cut up and prepare veggies, but salads and veggie bowls and lots of fruit are the only thing that sounds good in this heat.

Best thing I ate/drank all week: Hmmm... that's a tie between sushi and cookie dough. The Ra Sushi Zonie Roll I had for takeout on Friday really tasted phenomenal. I could go for another one right now! Salmon, cucumber, avocado, Sriracha... so good after a hot day outside. Then, yesterday on the way home from work, I texted Ross that I was craving cookie dough. I came home to a tray of freshly baked cookies, and a bowl of leftover dough. Totally hit the spot after a busy day at work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Walking Weather (part 2)

Last week, I really started to panic about the upcoming changes in our life. I have really been seeking to banish that anxiety, because it becomes a vicious cycle and it intrudes on the precious time I'm so anxious about losing!

I listened to two other podcasts last week that I feel like really pointed me in an encouraging direction, and I want to write down what struck me, so I can reference it quickly in the thick of it.

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1) Risen Motherhood Episode 60: Adding Another Little-- How Mom Can Greet the Transition with Hope

The words that really stood out to me are as follows:

"Expect that you are going to need the Gospel truth more than ever... I look at transitions like this as something I dread a little bit, but in God's kingdom, in light of the Gospel, these types of situations are good. This is where big, transforming heart work happens. And when I look back at the times God has transformed me the most and helped me repent of sin and trust him more, is times like this when I've been totally helpless and dependent and exhausted and at the end of myself."

"God can nourish you in these hard seasons with the tiniest nugget of truth."

This episode helped me plan for the fact that whatever quiet time routine I do establish in the next few weeks will most likely be challenged when the baby comes, and I was able to brainstorm a few ideas for staying connected to God in the survival stage:

-Listening to audio Bible or podcast episodes during nighttime nursing sessions

-Do not believe the lie that you don't have time to be in God's word, you almost always do have 5 minutes to just read scripture or a devotional at some point in your day

-Meditate on a Seeds Family Worship song in the background even when the kids (eek! kidS plural!) are up and at 'em

-Pick a weekly verse to write on the wall and memorize as a family

-Remember, duty turns into delight, and these little efforts are worth it even if they don't feel as substantial as what someone else may be doing in this season

2) Risen Motherhood Episode 63: Jen Wilkin on Growing in God's Word as a Mom of Little Ones

This podcast is what really resonated with me the most last week, and gave me the most encouragement for the last bit of this current season, as well as expectations for the weeks to come. Jen Wilkin is a Bible teacher and author, and one of the many people I've meant to look more into, join a study with, etc. I was really excited I stumbled upon this interview with her, because it tailored her message to young moms in particular, whereas most of her stuff is meant for women in all stages of life.

In response to being asked why reading the Bible is important, Jen responds, "I would say that a pretty common experience for young moms is that when that first baby comes, they have a renewed understanding of their lack, with regard to matters of faith. We're responsible for passing down this faith heritage to our children, and we can't pass down something that we don't have direct knowledge of. The heart cannot love what the mind does not know, and Biblical literacy is an act of loving God with your mind, which translates into greater affection in your heart, because by its own report, the Bible is living and active. For the believer, we cannot encounter the scriptures and come away unchanged. I would say that for young moms in particular, you're at a place where you know your vulnerability like you perhaps didn't before you had children, and that provides a unique opportunity for you to begin investing in some good tools for literacy now."

Jen goes on to talk about the coveted idea of a quiet time routine, and says that as a young mom, "You may have pockets of discretionary time, but you never can predict really when they're going to be, or how long they're going to be. Perhaps more than at any other time in your adult life, when it comes to learning the Bible, you really need an outside structure and some accountability."

The host says, "A lot of times I think as young moms the message we can hear from people is, 'oh these little years, you don't have time to read your Bible.' I think there's an element of truth to that, but there's also an element of a major excuse where you say, 'the little years are the lost years.' Is there something special about being a mom of little kids that does make theological growth challenging, or is that a myth?"

Jen replies, "I think it can be an excuse, but it is not always an excuse. I think that women have different capacities, and I think it's important to know yourself pretty well, and know am I the kind of person who's looking for an excuse not to do this, or am I drowning right now? ...We all find time for the things that matter to us... I'm all for a good binge on Netflix, just not if it's a replacement for something that's transcending."

Later, she notes, "Our children are our neighbors, which means that if we are going to treat them as the people that they are, we're going to need to have a solid grasp of the 'one anothers' in scripture. We're going to need to know what it means to be patient and bear with one another, and that those one anothers include not just my adult friends or my co-workers, but also these tiny people who I hang out with a lot in my own home... Young motherhood was such a time of selfishness and selflessness intertwined for me. I told myself it was beating the selfishness out of me, because you have to give up all your personal freedoms, etc. But it turned out that as soon as the kids got older and were able to do things on their own, I just took all the selfishness right back. So I think that nothing is going to get to that underlying issue of self-centeredness like spending time in the scriptures will."

I found this tidbit interesting, even though it wasn't the main focus of the podcast: "We never had a structured approach (saying to our kids) now you need to sit down and read your Bible... We didn't want to require or structure it, we just modeled it. The kids understand that's just what you do when you're an adult."

Toward the end, the host asks, "What are some things you would say, 'here's where to start.' In terms of getting into your Bible?" Jen responds, "The most basic thing to start doing is to read repetitively. And I know that sounds, like, not exciting, and maybe even boring. But it's actually the piece that most of us run right past. We want to read a passage and understand it immediately and know what to do with it, and that's just not the way that learning works, and it's not the way that good reading skills happen. So I would say if you're a young mom and you have limited time, you are far better served by picking a book of the Bible, starting at the beginning, and beginning to read to the end. Don't ask a lot of yourself as you're reading through it the first time. Just read it like you would read a book for book club... or listen to it on YouVersion on your phone every time you're in the car... those are ways to start getting the text inside of you. One of the things I like to debunk as often as I can, especially with young moms, is the glorification of the idea of quiet time. I think that we are going to face challenges in growing in literacy if we carve out 10 minutes a day versus if we had 1-2 times a week where we spent 30-45 minute blocks... You can have a some moment of reflection for daily contact with the scriptures to get you set for the day, but in terms of learning your sacred text, you probably need a longer stretch of time than that... If during the young mom years, all you did was read for comprehension, when you come out of the young mom years and you have more time and you're ready to pick up more of those tools (study tools discussed in her book Women of the Word), you will hit the ground running."

The host replies, "I love that you're saying this! I tend to be pretty legalistic... but I think this gives enormous freedom to a young mom, especially trying to protect some larger chunks of time a few times a week. It doesn't have to be this daily big hunk of steak. And also in trusting that God's word will work in your life, even if you're... just saturating your heart and mind with God's word and trusting that that will give you the ability to discern truth... Our routines as moms tend to last about 3 months, and then you have to switch to a new routine... But we really can take God's word how it can come to us, and we need to access it as much as we can, when we can."

Jen says, "It's also easy to spend all your time in devotional reading and not literacy-building. Before you know it, all you're doing is reading devotionally or topically... Devotional reading can be great, particularly for a mom who wants to have some daily contact the the scriptures. But devotional reading gives us something in the moment-- a takeaway you can hold on to. The literacy-building elements don't necessarily do that for you, so we may not gravitate toward them as naturally as we should. The thing with devotional reading, is that while it may give you an emotional boost for the day, it is not giving you comprehensive knowledge of the text, and when we become overly dependent on it, we can actually decrease in our ability to read scripture in context and in long stretches... Devotional content is more like dessert... but it will be way more impactful if you have a foundational knowledge of the entire book that that passage is being pulled out of."

Finally, she encourages, "You can do this! You can be in the scriptures in ways that are drawing you closer to what they say, what they mean, how it should change you. You NEED a transcending vision of God, high and lifted up, to get through this season of life, and the place it has been given to us is in scripture. So find the time to get yourself into it as you're able. Your love for it will grow the more you do it... What you're growing in love for is not the scriptures, but the God of the scriptures."

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I just really love this encouragement from Jen, especially the tidbits in bold. It encouraged me to go back to what I had juuuust started doing on Christmas break from BSF, before morning sickness and germ sickness kicked in for the rest of the winter. And that's to literally read my Bible as a book, from front to back. I've never done that! I picked my smaller Bible, the one that isn't a study Bible, and just started reading. So now I'm picking up where I left off this winter, and just reading. I'm noticing patterns, like how needy and selfish and grumbly God's people (including myself) are, and how he always replies to those cries with an I WILL promise, or an I AM statement. It's really cool to read the story and notice who God says He is and what He says He will do. It sounds so fundamental, getting to know God. But it's what I NEED. I've been trying to brainstorm this perfect magical combination of racing to the finish line of pregnancy and getting all emotionally prepared for the next stage of parenting: early morning Bible study, reading parenting books and doing a workout at nap time, journaling at bedtime, or what have you. I kept trying to re-arrange the elements, but all of the ideas just felt overwhelming. Because while I have the desire to utilize every minute well, I really don't have the energy to do that. At least not the way I'm defining "well."

So Jen's words really gave me the freedom to keep it simple. I'm going to continue with my monthly prayer cards that I've been doing this year: intentionally praying for myself and for my family when I first wake up. And then I'm going to open the Bible and read. Most days, I'm going to expect that I have 5-15 minutes of this before I'm needed by someone. Some days I might get more time in the morning, others I might devote a nap time to process things a bit more (like I am doing right this moment) if I have the capacity to do and something really struck me and I want to flesh it out more before continuing. But I'm not going to force that. I'm going to start small and realistic, and I already feel lighter for it. I guess it's like that old saying, you can do anything, but you can't do everything. Note to self.

When baby comes, I expect even this simple routine to be shot to pieces. When that happens, I want to go back to the tips I noted above, and then, like Jen says, just pay attention to my heart. I can discern when I've switched from the survival stage to the simply looking for excuses to avoid getting into God's word. And when I sense the shift toward laziness, I have the opportunity to dig deep. I can use the three minute morning tips, or just the simple routine I've been doing the past few days, to get me back on track, and I won't regret it.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

31 Weeks: Walking Weather (part 1)

Last week baby must've had a growth spurt because I was hungry at night again. But this week was pretty good, and I actually felt great physically. Noah and I got to talk a "wake-up walk" every day, and we took family bedtime walks most days, too. Noah turned three last Sunday! And he and I had a really sweet day on Monday, but the week went downhill from there, sleep and attitude-wise (for both of us, to be honest! What a long week.)

It's like I hit 31 weeks in this pregnancy and suddenly went from feeling really peaceful and excited to all-out panicked. The countdown is in the single digits and frankly, while I'm all about nesting and organizing and tangibly preparing for our new arrival, I'm terrified about the emotional aspects that I just can't prepare for. I know that I don't know what I don't know about having two kids. I don't know if I will ever be pregnant again after the next few weeks. I don't know if I'm mom enough to do the newborn phase WITH a toddler and be a good mom to both.

I'm also starting to panic about my days with Noah being numbered. I was so sick this winter that I feel like we lost a huge chunk of time together while I just survived. Are we over-scheduled? Have I spent enough intentional time with him in the past three years? Is fall preschool a bad idea? Am I a good mom? Will he still know I love him when I have to attend to an infant? Does he know we are adding to the family and not replacing him? Nothing like an existential crisis in the third trimester!

Then there's the pre-emptive mourning of time and sleep that will simply be lost. Some never to return again. Noah is thisclose to phasing out naps, and while his night sleep has been less than stellar during this pregnancy, it's still better than the first year of his life. Have I taken full advantage of nap times? Of the times he did go to bed at 7pm and stay in bed asleep (although that seems to be lost forever, at least while it's still light out at that hour)? That year between 18-36 months when he DID sleep in until 6:30am, why DIDN'T I wake up earlier to form a consistent habit of quiet time again? Agh!

Thankfully, with the morning walks and nap times I did get last week, I was able to *start* sorting through some of this anxiety that seemed to come out of nowhere. Possibly the biggest thing I'm currently regretting is never having formed a good habit of quiet time after Noah was born. I KNOW that peace is a person and that the presence of Christ will anchor me in the season ahead. Why am I not seeking it out now? For a long time after having my first baby, I was just surviving. Once I could kind of form a coherent thought, I went through a phase of beating myself up for not being able to focus when I did sit down, not "getting something out of it" like I used to, etc. So I would have "on" phases and "off" phases, always somehow trying to replicate the habit I was in before we moved around this time in my pregnancy with Noah. Which mostly looked like me waking up at 5:30am and taking 30-45 minutes to read a devotional, read my Bible, AND journal. Longer than that on the days I didn't work. Let's just say that magical morning quiet time has yet to make a re-appearance, and my discipline and capacity to maintain such an intense regimen at nap time has been lacking, to say the least.

And then... I have so many parenting books I still want to read. So many things I meant to do. What have I been doing with my spare time the past three years?! That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I know that by and large I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I think about the (albeit part-time) work, the job changes, the hours and hours of studying for a new license, starting a new business or two... But I also think about the physical recovery. Coordinating all the appointments for a sick mama and a baby with some special needs. The postpartum anxiety. And heck, the normal, tumultuous, emotional adjustment to the role of motherhood!

Sure, I regret all the wasted hours on Facebook or Instagram, and I'm trying to replace that time with something slightly more beneficial, like reading a book for fun, listening to a podcast, or doing a 10 minute workout. Putting music on and dancing with Noah when we are both desperate for Papa to be home. Looking Noah in the eye and engaging when I most want to tune out. But in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I've done what I could do with my capacity in any given season over the past three years. And I'm currently reminding myself that there are so many seasons, even within this bigger (but still oh-so-short) season of the little years. Roughly every three months, things shift. I need to keep remembering that! And a lot of the time, it's okay for me to physically, mentally, and emotionally rest when I need to, to be able to get through the rest of the day. As long as I'm not looking at that physical rest as my inalienable right, and throwing a tantrum of my own when I don't get it.

I always tell people, Jesus is happy to meet you when you're at the end of the rope. I feel like motherhood is a constant battle between giving yourself grace, taking care of yourself so you're fit to take care of others, AND realizing any given day could go downhill in an instant for a million little reasons, and holding THAT with an open hand. It's about where my heart is much more than about where my time is spent. Although when my heart is in the right place, my time will be spent in the right place, too.

Anyway. All that to say, 'tis the season for morning walks and podcasts. My VERY favorite time of the year! Sunshine and encouragement before 9am. Walks have been SO GREAT this week as I muddle through this weird heart stuff.

Noah has not been sleeping a whole lot the past 25 weeks or so, so Ross and I haven't either. On Tuesday, I was in tears by the end of the day-- physically and emotionally exhausted. I expected this after baby, but not before! If I feel like this with one kid, how on earth am I going to make it through the day with two? Add to that the financial stress, the healthcare costs (our insurance changed pretty drastically since the last pregnancy), and the threat of the routine changing again (I thrive on routine), and I feel like I'm on very shaky ground.

Which is funny, because this morning one of the podcasts I listened to was a short devotional on Luke 6:46-49. Verses 46-48, in particular, struck me: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words AND puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who DUG DOWN DEEP and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built."

WHEN the flood came, the torrent struck the house but COULD NOT SHAKE IT.

I hear God, and I know him as Lord, but I have NOT been putting his words into practice. I have not been digging down deep. This solidified what I've been sensing for the past two weeks: more than the freezer meals, more than the tidy house, more than the baby registry, what I need is to secure my foundation in Christ, because the storm is coming (let's all pray that it's like a passing afternoon thunderstorm in the Florida Keys and not the perma-mist of the Midwestern winter or the destruction of a hurricane). I've gotten my feet back under me since having Noah, and I've learned some deep truths along the way, but really ever since last fall, I've been surviving. And that's catching up to me. When I'm not drinking from the wellspring of life, I'm coming up empty, daily. As David Wilcox says, "We cannot trade empty for empty/We must go to the waterfall/For there's a break in the cup that holds love/Inside us all."

On the same note, a few weeks ago, I was listening to this hymn over and over again:

All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

[...]Well of water ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

THEN because God really wants to hammer this into me, the point was reiterated in this podcast: Hello Mornings Episode 4: How to Begin and Build a Brilliant Morning. Heather and Kat talk a bit about a "three minute morning" routine, with God, Plan, and Move time. Basically, it's getting yourself moving in the direction you want to go. Action over perfection. Start with literally three minutes. One in which you meditate on a Bible verse like Psalm 143:8. One in which you glance at your calendar and pray about what you can and should do in your day with the schedule you have. And one minute to drink a glass of water. This is starting a routine. A bare minimum. It doesn't feel like a lot, but when the alternative is nothing, it's moving in the right direction! It doesn't matter if three years ago I was starting my day with 45 minutes of prayer, journaling, and Bible reading!

They also talk about other ways to build some momentum for change in your routine when your current routine, or lack thereof, isn't working and you're burnt out and not sure where to start (track, trade, and try, for example). But what really got me is when Heather said, "If you have a mentality that you're a pitcher of water, and you're having your quiet time in the morning to be filled up to pour out, you will have the idea that it has to be hours and hours and hours, because I know how much I pour out in my day. But if you view it as that time in the morning as me being reminded of my position in Christ, Christ in me, He is a River of Life, Flowing Water, Never-ending Source, and I'm getting plugged in there, so that His love can pour THROUGH me (not from me) to those in my environment, then it doesn't matter if it's a minute, an hour, two hours... you're never going to get filled up enough for the amount that you are getting poured out in your day, wherever you are. You will run out if it's all dependent on you being the source." Starting my day in communion with God will remind me where I stand, and whose I am, so I don't spend my day bemoaning what I lack externally or internally.

I want to write about two more podcast episodes that I found really encouraging this week, but the above ones really reminded me again that I can do the mom thing THROUGH Christ, who gives me strength. The newborn months are just going to give me some really sweet opportunities to rely heavily on that truth again. And in the meantime, I'm praying that God will help me enjoy the next few weeks of Mama and Noah time, and the quiet moments of kicks and hiccups with this sweet baby inside me.