babysurprise

Hearts of Palm

It’s October 3, and we’ve now bridge the four month mark. According to thebump.com, baby is the size of an artichoke!

I am 18 weeks now and, though still not to the halfway mark, in a weird state.  I have fully embraced this pregnancy, as I have had due knowledge of it for the past 14 weeks, (longer than a trimester). I have crossed finally past the threshold of sickness and dodgy energy levels, only to be met by my growing stomach as the new reminder there is life inside.  I am still able to do everything I want, but having to be mindful of limits due to the size of the one growing in me.

For now, it has still remained hidden from strangers, those who offer up the polite and kind remarks about how they “had no idea I was pregnant”, but it is coming.  Depending on how I fit my shirts, I either appear to be slightly over my normal weight, or growing something artichokey in size at the center of my body. Not a win either way.

I am down to the last few pairs of regular jeans that fit me and know it’s only a matter of time and discomfort before I pull out the elastic bands.  Once I see those, it is a long journey of learning to love them, but there is an undercurrent of a rallying cry with this “one last time”.

By all accounts it’s still summer here, and could be for a while.  But I have a hatred of all but one pair of shorts and few flattering tanks left.  It’s probably time to spring for some maternity clothes but we have such few days left in this season, it seems futile to purchase those of the warm weather variety.  With this baby coming in, so they tell me, early March, I hopefully will be back into “normal” clothes by the time I’m in need of them next summer. So I move through it, ill-fitting clothes bearing witness to my discomfort.

I think we have settled on a name. This is big for us.  A moment of time that I relish, but feel hesitant to embrace this time.  I think because this is my last baby I will name, I feel decelerated by the concept of finality.  Right now, this name is being put through every test I can think of.  Does it fit our mold?  Do I love the meaning?  Will I still like it on a teenager?  Is it edgy enough for us?  Is this good enough for a grand finale?  Do I like it as much as the other girls’ names?

Still I catch myself scanning for birth announcements and ruminating on new names, trying them out in my daydreams for a bit, and on my tongue if they are lucky.  Everything around me has become a potential naming source, a network for helping me cross that final bridge.

I think it’s a good sign that I keep coming back to the one after all of these.  So I will hold onto that thought, close for now.

What I do like about the potential name is that it has multi-layered significant meaning. But that is all I will say for now.  I suppose we will do a name game again at 30 weeks, though it’s going to be tough to think of clues I haven’t already used 3x over!

Sleep has become a contemptuous master and one that I will fight with for the remainder.  I am evermore thankful for a king size bed when I am pregnant.  Each night, I carefully set up my throne with two pillows for my head and a pillow to cushion each side.  That way if I accidentally roll to my stomach or back, I have something soft to protect me from going fully prone.

All of these items must be weightily moved in the middle of the night for my, no less than, four trips to the bathroom.  Getting less than nine hours of sleep also makes for an unwelcome afternoon slump and a day of mentally fighting against laziness.  I have become not only a guardian of my children’s rest, but my own.

I am careful in sitting up now, not wanting to, for lack of better words, blow my abs out on this baby.  It feels silly to use your arms and elbows so much to reach a sitting position, but I hope my protection will pay off in the reward of no diastasis recti.

Every time I am still and restful (which, with three little ones, equals about an hour a day before bed), I feel her little limbs tapping around in my belly.  It still brings a rush of excitement and hope that a tiny, unknown being is alive in there, growing to join our family in about 5 months.

After a stressful or exhausting day, feeling her move gives me a little edge of hope and I’d like to think of this is a small allowance from God to remember his kindness towards us and His control over our lives.  I am still amazed at He how is piecing this storyline together and still waiting with expectation to see how He finishes it.

But for now, this feels a good place to be.

-smk

Surprise, Surprise, it’s Baby Surprise

In what we have termed to be possibly the greatest surprise of our joined lives, we found out that we are expecting our fourth baby, due sometime in early March.  This came as a shock to us for several reasons, not the least of which being that I had and still apparently HAVE a luteal phase defect ever since the birth of MG.  This has meant in order to become and stay pregnant, I have needed to supplement progesterone with both Bea’s and Sibby’s pregnancies, in order to make the environment favorable for them.  

Even knowing this, and continuing to watch my body carefully, while observing that the defect was still in play, we did not take this news lightly.  We had both, separately, and together, come to terms with the idea that we probably would not have another baby, much as we loved them, as our home felt very lively and full with three and the thought of being pregnant again, while also hitting the “reset button” in a year did not appeal, particularly to me.  

In June we took a family beach vacation, our first as a family of five, and enjoyed every single minute of it.  We loved making memories with our girls, young as they were, with Sibby too young to remember anything about it.  That trip solidified more than ever that we were very content with our family size and whenever things became difficult with having a pack n play in our closet or when I couldn’t just sit by the pool and read like some of the other moms of older kids, or we had to use a high chair at a restaurant, I smiled, knowing that each year from here on out was going to improve our vacation dynamics.  We even had several conversations about it on the way home and I felt more than ever that the door to four was closed, forever.

Imagine my shock when less than 48 hours later I took a (very) positive pregnancy test.

The Sunday after we got home, I spent the afternoon doing some sewing but I found my mind drifting from the project at hand and began to wonder about some of the symptoms that had popped up that week.  I began doing some calculations in my head, saying, “surely not.”,  “there’s no way”, “that would just be impossible.”  

Then I turned to my trusty friend Google.  So many times in the past, I had turned to it, hoping beyond belief that I could find some obscure reason to give myself hope that I was pregnant.  Often, I would find something nebulous but the overwhelming signs would point to no.  This time though, it was the opposite.  

Because I was very aware of my defect, and had been monitoring it closely since Sibby’s birth, I counted the days, and double checked them on my calendar, and realized this was the longest luteal phase I had ever naturally had on my own (at least since the defect had appeared).  On one hand, I was so grateful for that and hoped this might mean that I wouldn’t need to pursue hormone therapy as I had considered doing only last month in an effort to improve it. 

On the other hand, things were looking even more so like a pregnancy was at least possible, and according to Google, it was even safe for me to take a test now, which should be late enough to give me a definitive answer.

I took this information, late on that Sunday afternoon, and stewed on it.  I didn’t know how I would feel if it were positive and I didn’t want to stir up my emotions in case it was negative, I didn’t know if I should draw N into this convoluted story.

I tried to think of an excuse to go to the drugstore to pick up some tests, as it was almost dinner time and I didn’t want to have a coded conversation with N in front of the girls.  At the same time, I didn’t want to find a positive on my own and carry it with me for any length of time without him.  

Eventually, I stopped the mind games and decided to Prime Now a 3 pack, thinking if it were negative tonight, I would need to double check in the morning, just to be POSITIVE.

During dinner, N asked me if I would like to walk after the girls went to bed (meaning in our cul-de-sac with the baby monitor), and I said that would be wonderful.  The tests were due to arrive between 8 and 10pm and that would give me some time to drop the bomb on him without any interruption from our energetic trio.

It was a lovely summer night and as it was still late June, the sun didn’t set for a long time.   N was all worked up about a babysitting conflict we had that week, where we had double booked something and we were trying to figure out a way to do both things.  “I just can’t get this off my mind”, he said, as we had spent a good portion of the day brainstorming about it.

I had given him a few suggestions, but after he said the last sentence, I said, “well there is something I can’t get off my mind that I need to tell you about.”

“Ok”, he said, his gait slowing and his eyes getting wide, but accepting, not wanting me to change my mind.

“I think I might be pregnant”

Bomb dropped.

It completley stopped him in his tracks.

“no way.”  “no way”, he said, over and over.  He did not have the luxury of an afternoon to consider it as I did.

“Well….” and then I began my saga as to why I thought it MAY be a possibility.  

But by the time I finished telling him, I had completely gone back to thinking it wasn’t true.  I hadn’t had ANY symptoms, I told him.  Other than falling asleep on the couch the past two nights while we were watching tv.  I HAD felt unusually tired this week, and maybe a LITTLE extra hungry, but what’s new?  Those things could easily be written off as something else.

I watched him closely as he processed this news.  “First, ” he said, “I just need to get the obvious negative emotions toward this possibility out of the way.  Before it becomes a reality.”  I agreed that seemed to be a logical step.  So we spoke about how this would change us.  How this could change us, be it true.

We talked a long time.  By the time we were done, we had walked many circles in our little street and talked them too.  I was convinced this was a huge stretch and that I had let myself become wrapped up in yet another emotional storyline that wasn’t true.

Just at that moment, I got an alert on my phone that the tests were on their way.  We decided to go inside to wait them out.

We sat on the couch and he apologzied to me because he said the only feelings he could feel in th moment about a possible pregnancy were negative.  I know, I said sympathetically.  It’s probably not even true.  Surprises like this just don’t happen to us.

We decided to finish the show we had been watching the night before (the one I had fallen asleep to). I ate some ice cream, but torturously forewent water because I didn’t want to dilute my sample too much.

 Meanwhile, I stalked the driver on my phone.  It looked like he was only ten minutes away.  but then fifteen passed and I saw he was going in the OPPOSITE direction of our house.  Every five minutes I looked at my phone.  He stopped over and over and drove all the wrong ways before heading back in our direction.  I had never had an order take so long.  It took him an hour to arrive after the initial alert.  And by that time, I was all keyed up.  Nervous, with a deep pit in my stomach.

As soon as our brown bag arrived, I ripped open the white box inside. “How long will it take to show up?” N asked.  I wanted to give him the standard 3 minute line, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t take that long if it were positive.  And If it were negative, we would still hang in the balance until morning.  

As it turns out, we didn’t have to wait a second.  The test line began appearing before even the control line.  I immediately went into shock.  I showed it to N, who rubbed his eyes a few times before comprehension set in.  We were definitely pregnant.

We hugged each other and collapsed on the couch.  

This is really happening.  We prayed and we bitterly let out our negative feelings, then acknowledged how neat it was that God would give us such a gift.  And out of all the curve ball things to happen to us, how amazing is it that it is a pregnancy.  

Not too ironically, I had been getting lots of verses about fear and a premonition that something was on the horizon for us.  Those gave me a lot of peace in the moment that this was a part of God’s plan and I couldn’t argue that this baby wasn’t coming to us in such a meaningful way: not by our choice, not by our doing, something we didn’t have to beg God for, or spend months wondering about, or even agonizing over if we made the right choice later. The choice was made for us and that was very freeing in a way.

Not too long into the conversation, I said, “we don’t have any names!”  My sister had used the one boy name we liked (much to our satisfaction) and we didn’t have any solid girl names on the back burner since we didn’t think we would ever need them.

Thankfully, I keep a note in my phone for just such a time as this and began reading off some of the names on my short list to N. The first girl name I said, he instantly latched onto.  Okay, this could be a sign.  

We opened up our family Bible and scoured both sides of our family tree, talked about meaningful places and things, and looked up baby name meanings.  

Baby names are our sweet spot.  This was our crossing the river Jordan.  

The next morning, Monday, I began the search for an OB.  I wanted to get in right away for blood work, considering my past history of miscarriages and supplementation.  The only problem was, I couldn’t tell anyone yet, or at least didn’t want to because I had barely had time to process the news myself.

Thankfully, only the month prior, my sister and I’d had a long talk about her OB through text and I was able to scroll back far enough to find the name and look her up.  I called and got an appointment right away for the afternoon.  This was all happening incredibly fast!

The next morning, they called me back with the good news: not only did the workup show a solid, healthy pregnancy level, but my progesterone was just as high as it was when I was supplementing.  This time I didn’t have to take a single pill!  Wow–add another miracle to our list.  Not only did my luteal phase correct itself, seemingly overnight, to create this pregnancy, but my body was suddenly making the right dosage of hormones for this baby as well.

God must really have had a plan He was working!  And I was so thankful because I always blamed the extra progesterone as to what made me extra sick and tired in my last two pregnancies.  I was more than happy to forego it this time.

Once again, I also felt so much freedom in this pregnancy.  While my last three pregnancies were riddled by fear and anxiety over trying to do everything possible to avoid another miscarriage, I felt so free from that knowing this time it wasn’t our doing.  I didn’t feel immune to bad or scary things, just a part of a story much bigger than my own.

N says one day we will look at this baby and say, “This is the reason God put her in our family.”  Or just have that sense that she was always meant to be a part of us.  And I agree 100%. In fact, the signs are already pointing that way.

Coming up next….FAQ’s

-smk