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.





Saturday, June 10, 2017

Easy Breakfast Cookies

This is basically a simplified version of cookies I've posted before. Simple is better these days!

Ingredients:

1.5 cups quick oats
1 egg
3/4 cup milk of choice
1 large banana
2 Tbs chia seeds or ground flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 Tbs chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, milk, banana, vanilla, and chia/flax seeds until smooth. Add oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt and mix until incorporated. Fold in the raisins or chocolate chips. Place on greased baking sheet in golf-ball sized scoops. Bake for 11-14 minutes. Makes 18 cookies.

*Hint: They taste extra awesome with a bit of peanut butter spread on top!*

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Postpartum Freezer Meals

So with Noah, I had prepped exactly one freezer meal, the day before going into labor. And it was filled with tofu and he ended up having MSPI and he was NOT thrilled with me eating that dish. So anyway, freezer meals are one thing I'm really really excited to get to do this time. Here's the list of what I'm thinking of making! Is this too ambitious? Am I overcompensating for last time? Do I care? Ha! I'll let you know how this all turns out.

Meat prepped to put in the crockpot or oven:

-Jerk Chicken Tacos (recipe from HyVee freezer meal workshop)
-Meatballs
-Skinny Taste's Maple Dijon Chicken
-Gimme Some Oven's Salsa Chicken
-Sweeter Side of Mommyhood's Beef and Broccoli

Cooked meat dishes to be thawed and warmed:

-Turkey Loaf (an old Jane Brody recipe that my mom makes)
-Salmon Cakes
-Enchilada Filling
-How Sweet Eats Saucy Pulled Pork
-Chicken Spaghetti Bake from Bev Cooks
-Greek Meatloaf Muffins (going to use this burger recipe, but plan to make them in muffin form)
-The Kitchn's Cauliflower and Chicken Sausage Casserole

Vegetarian meals for lunches or extra meals:

-Oh She Glows Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro Rice
-Oh She Glows Baked Bean Cornbread Casserole
-Eat Live Run's Chana Masala
-Wholefully's Vegan Stuffed Shells
-Full Helping's Sunshine Burgers (I love this recipe, but I might just buy some of these at the store to stash in the freezer to eat alongside soup or salad)
-Oh She Glows Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls

Soup:

-Oh She Glows 7 Vegetable Cheese Soup
-Smoky White Bean Chicken Chili
-Ginger Lentil Soup
-Barley Stew (but with brown rice)
-Miso Pumpkin Soup

Miscellaneous:

-Oh She Glows Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
-Bone Broth

Snacks:

-double batch of pancakes
-double batch of lactation cookies
-Jam and Teff Cookies
-Oh She Glows New Mama Glo Bars
-Oh She Glows Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies or Flourless Breakfast Cookies

Advice on the Whole Process: 

Reader Advice from the Kitchn
5 Dos and Don'ts
Tips for Freezing and Reheating

Saturday, June 3, 2017

29 and 30 weeks

How big is baby? At 31 weeks, she is as long as a bunch of asparagus (roughly 16 inches) or, curled up, the size of a coconut. She should weigh roughly 3.3 lbs.

Total weight gain/loss: Not sure. I think at my 30 week appointment I was up 23 pounds?

Exercise: Oh man I got a stomach bug again last week that wiped me out, but this week we've been enjoying walks and SUNSHINE!

Swelling: A little, but I'm being really cautious because I know when it starts, it's hard to get it under control. Just started some herbs that seem to be helping, though. I know my blood pressure running in the 90s/50s isn't helping anything. Of course the blood just wants to pool in the lower half of my body!

Sleep: Hit or miss. Lately Noah has been waking us up in the middle of the night, but if he doesn't, I'm usually up for an hour at some other point, with my mind racing.

Food cravings: None, really.

Symptoms: Linea negra is in full swing. I was wondering when it would show up! Otherwise, I'm just waddling a bit and feeling huge, but can't complain overall. A massage would be really really nice, though.

Movement: Yep! Although they've gotten slightly smaller now. But she definitely likes to have a dance party after I eat a rocky road brownie (leftovers from Memorial Day).

What I'm loving: Lots of kicks, still!

Best moment this week: After my 30 week appointment, we got home and Noah said, "Oh no! My baby sister forgot to come out!" I just can't wait for them to meet.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ready or Not


What I remember about the end of May three years ago is how blissfully ignorant I was. I had made it past 37 weeks of pregnancy without going into preterm labor (a logical fear for a NICU nurse) and our recently torn up kitchen had walls, floors, and ceilings. It would have countertops in a matter of days. I had enjoyed my brother's wedding despite the itchy maternity compression tights I wore under my bridesmaid dress on the first truly hot day of summer. I had just had my last day of work at one job, and the days before "maternity leave" were numbered at my other job.

I spent the first Monday of June running errands and making my first (and, it turns out, only) freezer meal. My lower back was killing me, but I figured that was to be expected after spending a wedding weekend on my feet. We'd had our final labor prep class with our doula the day before, and we toured the hospital that Monday night. I went into labor at work that Tuesday and had a baby 30 hours later. Going into spontaneous labor at 38 1/2 weeks is absolutely not unheard of, but for some reason it was just not what I was expecting.

I've spent a lot of anxious hours since then, thinking I just wasn't ready. If only I'd had a few more days, another week, done things differently...

Now? Now I'm overwhelmed with love for a toddler who knows how to both melt my heart and try my patience and I cannot imagine a world without his little soul. Now I know that I never would have been ready. Never could've been ready for the cataclysmic shift from "me" to "we." I loved babies, I knew babies, I took care of them for a living. But nothing ever would have prepared me for the reality of having my own. I didn't know that the start of one life was the end of another. (And I didn't know that this could be a GOOD thing.) I didn't know how it would feel to have a little innocent life utterly dependent on ME.

Eight years ago when I was a newlywed, I remember all of my co-workers asking me, "so, when are you having kids?" I would always reply, "we aren't ready yet," and they would say, "you'll never be ready!" Ever the consummate planner, though, I was determined to wait until we were. Probably more than anything, God knew that later would be better than sooner for us personally. And so it was. But that still doesn't mean we were ready, and now I know my co-workers were right all along. There's no such thing as "ready" when it comes to turning your whole life upside down.

And so it approaches again: the unknown delivery date of another baby. Our family will grow from 3 to 4. I vacillate between fear of the unknown, and excitement for this baby to BE known. Because now I know that meeting these little people and watching them grow is delightful.

I also know that I utterly drowned in the early stages of motherhood. I wouldn't trade that cataclysmic phase for anything, because it's made me the mother, wife, nurse, friend that I am today. But I can't say I have any strong desire to repeat it, either. Sometimes I pray for a super chill baby who likes to sleep and not cry. But I have so many friends whose babies need such big prayers, that I struggle to pray that little one. So then I pray that God will give me what I need to weather what comes. I DO know that the more I need God, the bigger he is. I'm pretty sure that my life's motto is, "It's good to need Jesus."

Still, sometimes I panic: Is this the last time I'll ever be 30 weeks pregnant?! Will Noah ever even remember all of our "Mama, Papa, Noah adventures"? How on EARTH will I deal with an emotional toddler on even less sleep than I'm getting now? What if I die during labor? Will my babies ever know how much I loved them?! These are all actual legitimate fears, but I can see that the accompanying panic is irrational.

Yes, I'm praying for a different experience this time. Yes, I'm doing everything in my power to perhaps have a smoother transition and postpartum experience. But more than anything, perhaps, I KNOW that there's a whole lot about life with two kids that I just don't KNOW. Because I can't. So instead of somehow wistfully looking at my currently life through the lens of my future self who is so much more overwhelmed (yes, I do this) I rest in knowing that the most I can do is this: "Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet, always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you. It is certainly a higher virtue of the soul, and a greater grace, to be able to enjoy the Lord in different times and different places than in only one." (This little gem is from Ignatius of Loyola.)

I can shift a change in seasons within, just as the sun is now shining outside. And yeah, I'm excited. Sure, worried about the future, but more able to snap back to the present. At this moment, it is well with my soul, and I'm really excited to see where this change takes me. I can maybe attribute a little bit of it to reading Present Over Perfect, some of it is sure as heck seasonal (sunshine!), but wherever that little spark started, it was ignited by hearing this poem this weekend ("She" by Danielle Bennett).

She is unashamed of being happy
and is not bracing herself for the next hard thing
her hands are too busy receiving the day and its gifts

[...]She points to her scars and her vibrant pulse
as a reminder of the times death nearly held her in its nasty jaws
and still she lives, and lives well, so she doesn't
questions that she is covered and seen and doesn't
need to go around making a case for herself anymore.

She has stood inside the eye of a tornado
enough times to know how to stay
even when circumstance wants to chess piece her
into some place she can't be so blinding
but she is sensitive enough to the wind to know
when she needs to start walking away
and she doesn't mind how long the journey will take
because even on days she can't shake the fog
she trusts she has never really been in control.

And she has seen a succulent survive enough times
to know she is much stronger than she thinks
so she is tenacious in her commitment to a covenant
no matter what the cost--
she calls the things she's lost a necessary shedding of skin.

If you ask her how she got so tall,
she will show you the days she spent clearing the debris
so the concrete could be poured in clean and deep.
She will show you the moon who knew her fear of heights,
and the mornings she woke with the gumption to keep growing anyway.

[...]She doesn't need to have it all together to have it all.
She is strange-- doesn't always make perfect sense.
But she is perfect in the way she makes her presence 
a place where you can rest.
Her best beauty trick is knowing where she comes from and
not apologizing for where she's going.
She's an augmented 9th--
the musician's unresolved note,
lovely in her complexity.
She doesn't know she will always walk in and kill it
but she knows there is no room
that can tell her what she is and isn't made of.

She is on her knees in the desert,
not phased by where her water will come from,
a dusty-faced worshipper unafraid to be alone
because she knows she is never alone.

[...]She is the strong and delicate hands on a loom,
threading legacy for daughters and granddaughters
who will be written into the book of life
as cage-breakers, earth-tilling ambassadors of heaven,
faithful guardians of this city.
She is a lady of honor.
She is a mother of the future,
a sister of the present.


This is where I want to be, and I'm excited to see how this season can usher me from here to there.