A page from the M family diary

It’s been a while since I’ve written one like this, a travel story from our family vault.  I don’t know how well these posts fit in with the overall cohesiveness of my blog, but since I don’t keep a journal, I enjoy looking back on these to read later.  So that’s why it’s here.

This trip caught us by surprise.  We only found out, with about two weeks notice, that N would get Veteran’s day off.  And with a baby coming at the end, but not the very end, of the school year, and a job that just started a year ago with a clean slate of vacation/sick days (i.e. very little), we have tried to use them sparingly.

So we jumped at the chance to take a mini-trip, though it almost got spoiled by a rainstorm.  Yes, the Tuesday before we left, I woke up (around 1am #murphyslaw) to an unmistakeable dripping sound coming from our kitchen.  There were at least six spots in our kitchen ceiling where the rainwater was dripping in and pooling onto the floor below (our NEW floor, mind you that we had just laid in March).  N and I worked quickly to mop up and contain the water, puzzled as to why this was happening, especially since there was a bedroom (and not a roof) directly above the most worrisome drip.

Since then, we’ve seemed to diagnose the problem (and will be getting a new roof and ceiling out of it, it seems), but of course the timing couldn’t have been worse and made us question whether we should continue on with our trip plans or just throw in the (soggy) towel.

Thankfully, my dad stepped in and was able to be at our house while we were away, to meet with insurance and roofers, and the like.  We took off across I-40 as soon as we had eaten breakfast and tried not look behind.

Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge was our ultimate destination, with our first stop being a picnic lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The last hour or so of the drive was through a small town and across The Tail of the Dragon, which I later found out is an infamous stretch of road known well to motorcyclists who love the thrill of the twists and turns.

I’m not one who becomes car sick easily, but with babies growing me, I’ve always been a little more prone to feeling it.  Plus it was nearing lunchtime, which for some reason, my pregnant self confuses hunger with nausea, so I was ready to be at our destination and out of the car.  We were just at the entrance of the park when we thought we were turning into it, but instead onto another 15 mile stretch of twists and overlooks into the great park itself, but nowhere to actually breach the interior.

To compound the frustration, our cell phones completely lost service about a mile from the entrance, which meant we had no navigation nor any idea how long this road would be, other than the mile marking signs along the way.  It was just like being back in the 1990’s again, and as bad as I imagined.

Finally, we made it to the end of the parkway and were able to use more signs to guide us, more directly, into the entrance of the park.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good parking/eating/hiking area immediately, so we kept driving.  We began to see signs for Cade’s Cove picnicking area so we blindly followed along, hoping for the best, at the end of another long and twisted 7 miles.

But we reached the end and it was as if the Heavens opened all at once.  There was a row of picnic tables, evenly spaced, with a nice bathroom (another thing on our wishlist during the last hour of the drive), an ambient stream coursing along a shallow riverbed, and beautiful sunlight streaming through the gorgeous, gilded autumn trees. We had arrived.

We ate lunch and enjoyed the sights and sounds of God’s beautiful handiwork. I don’t think there could be a more ideal picnic spot on the face of the earth.  We could hardly finish our lunch before the girls were begging to play in the stream (though we shooed them away as it was too cold, and possibly dangerous).  Instead, we followed the stream backwards, and uphill, hiking up a short incline and stretching out our car legs.  It couldn’t have been a more beautiful fall day with the leaves’ burnt reds and oranges and beginning to cover the ground.

On our way back down the incline, we saw a pack of wild turkeys, who were completely non-plussed by the sight of us, and continued to scavenge crumbs off the ground while the girls watched in fascination.

Around 4pm, the sun was beginning to arc into its descent and we decided to make our way down and out of the mountains. I’d seen a Sweet Shop at the entrance to the park and had promised the girls a treat on the way to our hotel.  We continued to navigate by signs, with no luck from our phones, and discovered, to our dismay, the shop was closed. We continued to blindly drive, back the way we came, hoping we would see signs for Pigeon Forge or our phones would pick up soon.

About ten minutes later, we began to read hand-lettered signs on the sides of the road, hand-tacked to poles.  It was a shop promising fudge and ice cream and all the delights a Great Smoky Mountain tourist could want. N pulled over the car, finally, in front of a shack with signs promising, “worth the stop”.  We eased the girls inside, only to find no ice cream, old and oddly-wrapped fudge, and a bowl of ring pops for a $1 each.  (MG also discovered a very old looking box of sweetarts with a garage sale sticker of $2 on the lid).  Adorning the shop were also lots of rocks, crystals, and other breakable items, right in the eyesight of Sib.  We quickly backtracked and found our way back to the van where we promised the girls we would find something better than that.

Luck was on our side about 5 minutes later when we passed a very touristy, but still an actual building promising homemade fudge and other delights.  Inside was decorated with Christmas overkill and long, counter height tables with open jars of all kinds of sauces and jellies for customers to sample.  They also had about a dozen barrels filled with assorted, old-fashioned candies, though the girls ended up choosing fudge after a free sample.  A first for them.

Shortly after, our phones finally kicked back into gear and we were able to successfully navigate our way to Pigeon Forge.  Our hotel was located at the end of a long strip of crazy looking museums and dinner theaters.  The girls kept asking if each one was Dollywood, but each time we would say no, and promised it would be better than they could imagine.

We specifically chose our hotel for its promise of a grand, indoor pool and its suite style rooms.  We willingly pay just a little extra for the extra room and when we are traveling with a pack n play and not a great out-of-crib-sleeper, it feels worth every penny to us.

As soon as we got checked in, we had to go to the pool right away.  This one was perfect because it had a 1.5 foot deep pool, shallow enough for Sibby to walk around in, a small splash pad, another shallow pool (only going up to 4 feet), and then two, two story tall water slides that started indoors, went outdoors, and then finished inside in a wading pool.  I immediately wrote off the slides, thinking the girls would be too afraid of them.  They both summed them up and said they weren’t interested. That was fine because we had a lot of swimming to do.

But about 15-20 minutes later, MG made up her mind that she wanted to try it. I thought for sure she would chicken out after getting to the top of the stairs, but instead she launched herself into the very dark tunnel and exited about 6 seconds later. She said it was awesome  and continued to go up and down, over and over again.  Well LB was not going to be left out so she had to try it too.  Once again, I waited for the moment where she would back down gracefully from the stairs, but she flung herself into the tunnel, cheeks full of air, and held her breath the entire way down.  She, too, declared it awesome, and went again and again.

An hour and a half later, we were worn out and ready for dinner.  I’d called ahead to a pizza place and they delivered to our room.  The girls took a warm bath and then devoured their extra-large slices.  N and I strategized breakfast and decided that Paula Deen’s restaurant would be our #1 choice.  He called to ask for reservations, wait times, etc.  They said they stopped serving breakfast at 10:30 and that there was usually never more than a 10 minute wait. Perfect.

Sibby was beyond exhausted at this point, having only caught a short nap in the car (ironically on the 15 mile detour that soured our pre-lunch dispositions).  She willingly went into her pack n play, but when N went back into the room to retrieve something (per my request), she was set off into a fury of tears.  The only thing that would calm her down was to rock her and she quickly fell asleep on me in our darkened room, something she hasn’t done in months but brought me quickly back to her baby days.  It was a sweet moment I savored for about 10 extra minutes before texting N.  We ended up moving her pack n play into the main room and the rest of us into the bedroom as it was past the girls’ bedtimes at home.

We pulled each one into a bed with us and N began telling stories, from our first date to our engagement, to the story of our day that very day.  We had to keep shushing the girls as their giggles got too loud.  It was a sweet moment for me, being with just them for a little bit, a taste of the old days.  Man, do we love our Sib, but she brings down our average a bit, (though it won’t always be that way), and it was nice to have some alone time with the oldest.

We all fell asleep somewhere between 9pm-10pm, and I prayed Sib would successfully make it through the night.

Sadly, my prayers were not answered as I had hoped and the first wakeup began around 1:30am.  Disorientation and diaper changes claimed the next 4 hours of sleep for me, and some for N as well. Thankfully, she did a final four hour stretch until about 9am.  The girls slept that late too, which was awesome, and promised a good start for the day.

We assessed the time and decided to go ahead and pack up our room since checkout was drawing near, then we would go visit Paula.  We also had to buy DW tickets at the front desk, so by the time this was all completed, we were leaving our hotel at 10am.  We rushed over to the restaurant, which was a 15 minute drive.  I hurried inside, asking for our name to be put on the list, but they said the earliest we could get seating was 11am and they would be serving lunch.

With great disappointment, we moved on and began the hunt for another place.  But at this point, it was nearing 10:30 local time, when most restaurants stop serving breakfast and begin transitioning to lunch.  There were a few dedicated breakfast houses, but on a saturday morning, they all had hour long waits.

Finally, we passed another little shack, of sorts, and hoped we would fare better than our shack experience yesterday.  As it turned out, they had a table immediately open for us and served breakfast all day.  We eagerly accepted.

After a smorgasbord of biscuits and gravy, inch thick pancakes, froot loops for Bea, and an omelette for me, we were happy and satisfied.  And it was time for Dollywood to open!  Perfect timing.

And…as this has already grown long and detailed, perfect timing for me to stop here. To be continued…

-smk

October

1) September is waning and with it, summer.  I know autumn officially started last week, but there is usually nothing heralding its entrance, save for the ever darkening evening hours, which always makes me a little sad.

The pool just recently closed, but the temperatures have stayed high.  I, for one, don’t mind them in the eighties, and welcome their presence for as long as possible. My heart says stay but my mind knows that October is just around the corner and with it, 60’s and 70’s, goosebumps, dark suppers, and a reluctance to leave the house past 6pm.

2) And now October is waning.  It was a good month, indeed, with summer-like temps, a pumpkin patch, company, touring through a fabulous parade of homes (twice), and accumulating baby things.  Yesterday was October’s last day, but perhaps its grandest, with sugar rushes and cute little girls dressed up in costumes befitting of their fantasies.  October is a good month to be a parent.

3) November is here now and will bring with it a much anticipated family trip, holidays, holiday prep, shopping, and on the final day, a very important birthday (MG).  Yes, November is probably my favorite month of the year, though I dread the cold and darkness.

But we will make the most of it and the girls will still make their way outside most days to play, while the sun is still high, and enjoy the fresh air while they can.  The good Lord knew and I feel much more at home here in the South where the cold temps don’t begin until December and winter doesn’t linger beyond its welcome.

I feel a little behind the eighth ball having a baby coming in (early) March.  I’m much more suited to May, when I have 5 months after the holidays to nest and prepare for the incoming little one.  But come January 1, we will have more like two months.

Two months to create a big girl room for Sib, take a babymoon, sew some pieces for the newest (I’m definitely behind on this aspect, as with Sibby, I had begun sewing for her around 13 weeks.  This time around, I’ve been more caught up in making things for the older girls), and put the final touches in place for her arrival.

A good friend of mine just had her fourth, a baby girl, this week and it reminded me of the goodness that comes with the new additions.  And how good I hope and desire this to be.  I want to do it all perfectly, from the name, to the announcement, to the coming home outfit.  Though these won’t be important to others, they will be to me.  And they are what I dream about and have focused on, perhaps unnecessarily so, each time.

For some reason, and I know I’ve shared different aspects of this before, I’ve felt a hesitancy with this one.  Maybe it’s because it’s so certain she is my last. And I feel both a paralyzing desire to do it perfectly and also an equally strong desire for it not to end.

Maybe it’s the lack of planning that ushered in her arrival and  I still feel so caught up in the life swirling around me that I’ve been unable to give her her proper due.

If that’s the case, January will certainly be a good time to slow down and focus on finishing this race well, and to my own fantasized standards.

For now, I look outside my window.  It is 1:15pm and both of my two at home are quiet, which allows me a small measure of time to be so as well.  The leaves are surrounding my window, hesitantly turning, but still mostly green and furthermore glued into their proper place.  It doesn’t feel like baby season, not yet.  It feels like the end of October and the beginning of November.  And for now, that is exactly where I want to be.

-smk

Grapefruit-ful month

Five months (today) or 23 weeks (tomorrow) and baby girl is now the size of a grapefruit!

Crazy. This month has brought a lot of exciting milestones: the anatomy ultrasound, the halfway point, & the point of viability.  Plus, she’s getting very big with her movements and predictable in the timing of them (like always when I’m lying down)

I shared this on IG (@030318babysurprise), but our anatomy ultrasound  at 20 weeks turned up a slightly abnormal heartbeat called a PAC.  My doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it, but I will have to have an echocardiogram done in about 10 days (basically a high level ultrasound), to determine if there is anything more concerning about it.  The structure of the heart, itself, looked good, and she reassured me that many babies outgrow it (some even before birth), as well as a few adult friends of mine saying they have it to this day and it doesn’t slow them down.  Out of all the things to turn up on an ultrasound, it feels probably the least alarming, but I still hate the fact that there is something there at all.

The halfway point of this pregnancy technically came at 20 weeks, but I think it should be more like 22 weeks, seeing as how we didn’t find out for the first 4 and that would leave us with 18 & 18 on either side of 22.  Either way, now we are beyond both of those, which means we have less time left in this pregnancy (Lord willing) than we started with.  Unbelievable!

I certainly wouldn’t mind an earlier babe this time (somewhere between 39 weeks and 41 weeks sounds ideal).  And one of my biggest prayers this time around is that I will not have to do another induction.  While the planner in me loves the thought of being in control of the date and having everything lined up in order for it, I know my mental state going into those too well and struggle with that aspect of it.

When people ask me how I’m feeling, I usually say one of two things: 1) about as good as it gets for me during pregnancy (we are about to tip the scale to the bad side again…). Or 2) I’m doing fine physically but not mentally.  This pregnancy, more than the others as I can recall, I have struggled with fear (but only for labor and delivery), excitement (well lack thereof), and another missing piece of the joy of nesting (a combo of life being so full right now and also the lack of control I had over this one)

One thing that has been very present from the start of this pregnancy was a strong fear about labor and delivery.  I realize that encompasses about 6 hours, give or take, of a given pregnancy, but I could not stop thinking about.

Prior to getting pregnant, every time I heard a traumatic birth story or was reminded of the pain, I rationalized it away, thinking I’ll never have to do that again.  I even remember saying aloud, directly after Sibby’s birth, “I’ll never do that again!”, although by the idyllic hospital day two, I was already recanting my words.

This time it felt forced upon me, and I think that was part of the fear. I did not choose this, this time.  I did not want to do this again.

Things came to a head about 2 weeks ago when I clicked over to YouTube to watch (someone I admire’s) birth story, which turned into an unexpected traumatic epilogue and showed a lot of live footage of labor (contractions and hospital stuff). The fear came up from the subconscious right into the foreground and gripped me so hard, I did not know if it would leave or not.  I realized then that I needed to turn the fear over and release it so that I could move forward with excitement and love for this baby.

I read a book intentionally dealing with fear and pregnancy (though I would not recommend it), and have spent a lot of time in prayer about it.  Ever since that night, I’ve not had the gripping fear again, it has been replaced by peace.

The nesting and excitement piece I mentioned makes me a little sad, because usually that is my go-to pregnancy emotion and the thing I look forward to during the darker moments.  I believe part of this is me over-thinking everything (I’ll go into more detail on this in a later post).

Anyway, despite these lagging emotions, I have been able to accumulate a few necessities for this baby.  I found good deals on a new carseat and stroller (still keeping our double BOB, just needed something less cumbersome for dr appointments and errands with 2 under 2–yikes–still scary to say that).  I’ve been thinking of the “little girls’ room” (vs. the big girls’ room) and how to decorate it.  And just this week I’ve started sewing a few little things for a new baby layette.

This month I have de-graduated my running back to walking.  My initial goal was 24 weeks but 22 weeks was my stopping point.  Physically, it just became too much but I’m thankful that this weather has stayed so pleasant and I’ve been able to stay very active still.  So far, I don’t notice any difference with this pregnancy that involved running versus my other ones that involved only walking, so I’m not sure it made much of a difference.  Hopefully, it will be easier to graduate back into it though, postpartum, since I didn’t take so much time off from it.

Another, rather unpleasant, side effect from this month was a bad stomach virus that gripped me for about 48 hours.  Just to prove how pregnancy doesn’t well suit me, even in the second trimester, I didn’t even realize I had anything until the side effects starting coming from all corners of the earth. I just thought the cramps I was feeling were normal pregnancy pains for me (because they are, especially in the evening).  Anyway, I get one or two of these things every pregnancy, AS WELL AS, morning sickness, which makes me think God is just trying to cure me of my fear of puke.  Well, it’s working.

Aside from that unpleasantness, I’ve been enjoying cooking this month and haven’t been too bothered by food.  Occasionally, I’ll get a bit of heartburn, but nothing to write home about yet. As fall enters, I’ve been spending some free time on Pinterest, planning soups and slow cooker meals, and dreaming of the holidays.  Although I’m not 100% myself, I’m thankful that I’m feeling pretty good for a pregnancy and I’m excited about all of the festivities to come with very excitable little ones.  It’s nice that while we have our go-to traditions, they are still young enough, and transitions have come often enough, that we haven’t been locked into too many things yet.  Each year feels like a fresh start to try and see what sticks best for our family.

Four months and counting, and thankful for every one I get with my last “homegrown” babe.

-smk

Company

We’ve had a glut of company this month and the two previous.  I think it’s a combination of a more relaxed summer schedule (for us all), and we’ve also hit the time period where we’ve been in a new place long enough to comfortably host. That, and being in a place that warrants a visit.

It’s been good.  A welcome distraction from the busyness of the everyday routine that somehow sucks you in and without realizing it, time passes with no real markers.  We tend to take a lot more pictures and etch a lot more memories when we have friends and family here to enjoy them with us.

I often feel inadequate as a host, though I’m sure this is a common feeling that prevails over most of us, save for the few that are incredibly talented in this area and enjoy life filled up in every aspect.  But the only way to overcome inadequate feelings and imperfections is to practice through them.  So that’s what I strive for.

It’s been a season of running the dishwasher twice a day in order to have enough drinking glasses and silverware (why we don’t just buy another 8 sets, I do not know yet.  Eight forks seemed like more than enough when we were first married and our family took up two chairs at the dining table).

It’s been eating out at our “old” favorites and trying some new ones.  Recommended dishes described over the tops of our menus.

It’s been staying up too late because when the kids go to bed our conversations continue without interruption and that is a small luxury.  We’ve played games and eaten homemade cheese popcorn, the ice in our drinking glasses melting and condensation dripping down, making small pools on the table.  These are the things that remind us of when we were young and didn’t need a babysitter for such things.

Our A/C worked overtime these months.  Both because of the ninety-plus degree days but also a sure sign we have company.  We worry that our lifestyle of scrimping on things like air and favorite foods won’t be enjoyable for them so we roll out the red carpet.  It’s a treat for us too.

Our house has been packed with small children during these times.  And we feel so thankful that we finally feel we have a house that can accommodate them well.  A fenced in yard, a cul-de-sac to ride bikes, a playroom away from the common areas, and three eating areas with enough seats for thirteen bottoms.  These things we have longed for in our previous houses and have served us well in our short time here.

Having guests has pushed us to explore parts of our city that always felt a little frivolous to pay for or drive to when it was just our family of five.  Though I do always wish when we arrive that we were a little more seasoned and confident in our leadership. For example, we could not find the promised playground in Centenniel Park and ended up walking too far and then giving up all together for the sake of the little legs and heat beading up on our necks and the lack of stroller space. We ended up doing plan B and it was fine (and fun!), but I hate to drag friends into that.

When you have people over to your house, especially if they spend the night, you reach a certain level of intimacy with them that is virtually impossible to otherwise do, especially if you have children. There is no time limit on your conversations, sometimes you see each other in less than flattering situations, like with the morning dew still on your face, and your children misbehaving, and a little bit of marital discord (like when you disagree about the direction of the playground…).

But intimacy breeds closeness and talks about adoption and unknown futures and future fears and items that don’t normally get discussed because you are usually on a two hour time limit and you can barely cover surface level in that amount of time, get crossed over and beyond.  Conversations that start in the morning get finished in the afternoon and dissected in the evening.

It’s been a good season.  One that I’m sure God has given to us in bounty due to the coming changes, as surfacing on the horizon.  One thing we didn’t know 4 months ago is that our “guest room” would soon be turned into a full-time used room, come March (or possibly sooner). We intended to put “all three” girls in the same sister room, but the addition of the fourth made us reconsider.  Now I think we’ll do two and two, but will lose the guest room in the process (it was either the guest room or my “sewing room”/office, so something we use seasonably, or daily.  Seasonably won).

We will hopefully still be able to accommodate the more adventurous guests (my in-laws have promised us they will be fine on an air mattress in the playroom…), but I also know our life will slow predictably, for a short season, at least, with our new one.  And adventurous outings to the city won’t come as easily or often.

So I’m thankful for what we’ve been able to squeeze in during this short time, and know/hope it is a promise for more to come.  We feel the sands shifting beneath us again as we seek to change, once again, but know that with each change, our life has become even more rich and full than possibly imagined.

May it be so.

-smk

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

Updates

So much can change in a month, or even a week for that matter, when you are in the business of tending to little ones. Two weeks ago Sibby was only walking about 30% of the time, taking a few toddling steps before falling to her knees to cross the remaining distance.  Now she is walking full time, though she still looks a bit inebriated in her gait.  She is very proud of herself, too, carrying around objects of affection and raising her arms at us if she would rather be carried.  I don’t think I’ve seen her crawl in a week.

She has learned to go up stairs, but not down them yet.  If I can’t immediately spot her, I will often find her tooling around the play room with the stroller or another rolling object, sometimes a baby in it or under her wing.

She still has her paci full time (which was something we ditched with the other two at 12 months), BUT it has made her less apt to put every little thing in her mouth, so I don’t mind the intrusion, for now.

One of her most endearing characteristics is a head bob and a seated leg scissor kick, both done separately, but consistently.  The head bob always came with great excitement and now has translated into a way to respond “yes” or “no” when we ask her a question.  The confusing thing is, she uses the same nod for both, but you can tell by the expression on her face which one she means.

The scissor kick is also a byproduct of excitement and most especially when she wants to be picked up.  I love that she is communicating so much to us and this has greatly improved the quality of our relationship.  She is giving kisses on command (along with a sweet sigh to go with), saying a few things (“uh-oh” is a favorite), making dog noises, and generally able to understand and respond to questions/commands.  It’s a beautiful thing after months of mutual frustration.

I guess I’ll never understand the people that love the 12 to 18 months stage.  It is probably my last favorite and one that I have enjoyed the least with all three of mine.  Maybe my friends have enjoyed it because their children begin talking a lot sooner than mine do, but until we bridge that communication gap, there is just a lot of misunderstandings and unrequited tears.

On top of that, they require constant supervision, I mean no moment of rest.  And they spend all day making messes.  I find myself so frazzled by it all.  But the sweet communication we’ve gotten lately has made it a lot more enjoyable and endeared her to me just a little bit more.  The more she is able to respond to us, the more human she becomes and the less baby she seems.

I suppose at this point I would have been celebrating that we are through another stage of babyhood–forever–but we have one more to enjoy these milestones with.  Another crawler, another messy eater, and yes, another twelve month-er to get to know.  Soon.

Bea is still a creature of habit and loves her tiny objects and bits of paper.  She often tells us that we are her “pet” as a sign of affection.  Along the line of pets, she begs me daily to get her one. She claims she would even be happy with a caterpillar or a lady bug.  I am holding strong…for now.  Let’s be real, the last thing I need in my life is another mouth to feed or a head to pat.  A innocuous hamster could be the straw that breaks this mama’s back. This theory will remain untested for now, and we will hope for another way to nurture her love of animals without, hopefully, instilling a hatred of them in myself.

She is starting to show more interest in the baby and that has given me a small pause of encouragement.  Sib and MG seem to be my diehard baby lovers while Bea is more into, well animals and tiny inanimate things, but I do so hope she can find a bond with this baby even from the early start.  With the other two resembling each other the most in both looks and personality, I hope this next little one will have some things in common with Bea.

MG is still enchanted by school and I would not be surprised in the least if she grows up to be a teacher of some sort, someday.  She comes home and parrots everything her teacher says in an effort to set up a pretend school classroom for her little sister.  It makes me happy that she enjoys it so much.  It makes our days apart feel redeemed, even if just for this.

While still not extroverted, she has become very social and wrapped up in the lives of her friends.  She looks for friends everywhere, it seems, always at school, but also at the park and at church.  She tends to gravitate towards girls slightly older, kind, but with more of a ringleader personality.  She likes to play the role of willing companion, not a pushover, but with someone else calling the shots that she can easily make.  She is not unlike me in this way.

Summer is still very present for now, with still warm enough days to swim and a lone cicada chirping its siren song outside my sewing window.  We have not packed away any short sleeves yet and will hopefully have some time yet to wear them.  The lawn mower will still have another month of work ahead of it and the nature outside our windows is still unequivocally verdant.

But we are slowly creeping into our fall routine as a family.  School has been back in session long enough to figure out our aesthetic, at least loosely.  I’m already starting to feel the first hints of sadness that accompany autumn with the quickly darkening evenings and the slight coolness after the sun goes down. I believe we are through the first, and roughest part of the transition of season, regaining our newfound comfort and content in what we have rather than fighting the system.

And still, so many things to be thankful for and fall is nothing without that reminder.

-smk

 

 

One Year Out

It’s been nearly one year to the day since we packed up the schoolhouse and headed south on 65.  We pulled into our new, strange neighborhood in a new, strange territory.

The whole thing didn’t feel entirely strange, as we had my family as a welcoming committee, and it is also the South, where there seems to be an air of familiarity everywhere you go, but still a bit strange nonetheless.

The lessons I have learned this year? Well, through those I am still processing.  I feel God has been kind to us here, after the rocky end to 2016, with the lessons coming slowly and mostly peacefully.  And we have enjoyed our little life we have made here, trials and all.

The highlights of our new life still include lots of family gatherings and spontaneous meet-ups throughout the week; food, delicious food, becoming such a pivotal part of our life; frequent company (though I know that will die down soon, but for now we are enjoying life as tourists too, as we have many friends wanting to visit and explore our city with us); navigating a new place and finding our new favorites, and all the wonders suburbia has to offer (a short commute, a neighborhood pool, great neighbor kids, etc)

We have found several great babysitters (besides family, of course!), a good church, a favorite gym, extracurricular classes to attend, invitations to bar-b-ques and baby showers, and our phones filling up with new contacts.  I guess you could say we’ve been established.

On the flip side, I still OFTEN find myself plugging coordinates into a GPS, a blank landscape in my mind when people describe familiar landmarks, a nagging irritation on days off with the girls that there are too many new things to try and not enough old standbys to rely on, a constant conversation about where our social standing will eventually land, and a few wistful thoughts about our life left behind.

A few things that have surprised me about our new hometown is that:

1) there are so many newcomers here.  On one hand, it feels a little old hat to not be the “only” new girl in town, but the bonus is, there are a lot of us out here looking for each other.

2) This is going to go a little deep, but I am surprised at how I’ve been confronted with my own racism and thoughts towards socioeconomic disparity .  I used to think I was very tolerant and inclusive, only to move down here and realize I have so much work to do.  It’s surprising to find this in the South because the stereotype is that racism is rampant here, but what I’ve found to be more true, at least in my hometown, is that it is confronted a lot more here.  And that is encouraging, while also giving me a heavy awareness of my own inherent thoughts.

A respected Sunday school teacher once said that the white North doesn’t care how far Black people advance in their social standing as long as they don’t live too near them.  And the reverse is true for the white South.  They don’t care about how close they live to Black people as long as they don’t cause distress in their social strata.  I have thought about this a lot since moving here and have found my background in the North is helping me unpack my future in the South, a little bit.  Two unique perspectives, both trying to root out the unnecessary in my own life (and truthfully, there are a lot more colors down here than just two, something I am grateful for my girls to experience).

3) the heat has never bothered me beyond what I remember up North, and I only wore my winter coat three times last year (once being upon return to IN).  So that’s a win in my book any day.  I no longer feel a dread of fall that winter is just around the corner, because it doesn’t feel as daunting anymore.

4) I thought I was well versed in Southern culture, having spent 12 years growing up here, but I am still learning the culture of this unique city and, and even more minutely, the community where we live.  There have been some unique struggles to N’s job that only affect me as his wife.  And that’s something I’m learning how to live with too.  Sometimes I forget how much change we have made in our lives since 2015, but we are still in many ways, transitioning, and that doesn’t always conclude in a year.

It’s been a year, but it’s been a year.  And that’s it.  Many that have gone before us have reassured me it takes 3 years to establish yourself in a new place.  Having moved twice before, I believe that wholeheartedly.  I also believe having babies retards that process a little, as the neediness keeps me home more than I like and I am less apt to go out and explore in the evenings.  Nevertheless this is our season, both to nurture and raise, and to meet and establish.  I do feel that we will be here a while, Lord willing, so I don’t feel rushed in the process daily, just small longings at times for friends with history.

There’s still a bit of anxiety about trying new things and where to spend our time and with whom.  That’s one of the byproducts of moving is not knowing immediately where or how to spend your time and the loss of a good rhythm.  I am still searching for that rhythm here, as it has changed a few times with the passing of milestones for Sibs.  I will always feel a little scattered without a good rhythm, but with a big disruption coming in March, it feels futile to try too hard to beat one out now.

The good news is, in a town this size, there are plenty of things clamoring for our attention and eager to place us in their tune, it’s just a matter of time and effort to figure out where we best harmonize.

-smk

 

Just peachy

As much to your shock as mine, we have ended the first trimester and moved on to trimester two with our little surprise!

On Saturday I turned 14 weeks, and baby is now the size of a peach.  A peach!  I truly can’t believe sometimes how fast this is going or really that I have another thing inside of me that’s growing so exponentially every week.

She is, however, starting to make her presence known as I am starting to feel the earliest flutters and kicks that remind me of her wakeful status.  It seems early to detect movement, but my placenta is not in the front this time (as it was for Sib and MG), so I am able to feel a little more freely in the front.  Plus, being a mom four times over means you just know when you start to feel them. It’s the same ingrained feeling as when you feel that first wave of morning sickness and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you are pregnant.

I said in my last few posts that a few things about this pregnancy have been different, but many things similar.  My nausea is starting to fade, other than resurfacing in the evening, usually around bedtime.  My energy still greatly wanes in the afternoon, and sometimes a nap is required to get through the day, but still, greatly better than the days of just wanting to stay in bed all day long.  My appetite is still largely present and probably will remain so until the very end.  If I don’t get lunch right on time, the queasiness resurfaces and my whole body lets me know it.

My cravings this time around have been very consistent with the past: cheese, carbs, sour candy, water (my thirst has been off the charts).  Aversions include: some meat, vegetables, and some sweets. Often, I crave slushies or sour candy and water in an effort to slay what feels like an impossible thirst to quench.  Cheese always sounds good to me, and many lunches were made out of grilled cheese and some kind of smooth soup throughout the first trimester.

One major difference in this pregnancy has been that I have kept up with my running.  In the past, running made me feel very out of breath and light headed, but this time it has been different.  Now don’t get me wrong, I went from running 100% of my runs, to about 75%, and now down to 50% (stopping to walk when I feel overheated or heartbeat too high), but it still feels like a great accomplishment and I hope to keep going for as long as I can.

Another thing that has felt different is the way the doctors and nursing staff treats you when it’s your fourth baby.  The approach seems to be more hands-off and respectful of my past. This is something I craved with the first pregnancies, but only just now earned.  Hopefully, this pregnancy will be as smooth and uneventful as my last ones.

This first trimester has brought a lot of decisions too.  We had to find a new doctor down here, and decide where to deliver.  My main criteria with the hospital was somewhere close (i.e. not an hour away this time), and one that had laboring tubs.  That narrowed the list down to two.  Of these two, I was able to choose based on the doctor I wanted and a few other minor things.  Overall, this decision felt rushed and forced, not the excited anticipation I felt the past few times.

I haven’t lost sleep over this decision, though.  As sleep has come easily to me.  Really,  I want to crawl into bed as soon as the girls are safely tucked in and read for an hour before my eyelids become impossibly heavy.  I am thankful, though, to skip afternoon naps and to sleep the entire night through with just a few 2 minute wake-ups.

I’ve also been making a list of items to buy.  We did give away a lot of our baby & maternity items in a moving purge, and as Sib outgrew them.  Thankfully, my sister is willing to lend me some things as her baby outgrows them.  Still, we will probably need to make a few more purchases as well as decide when to move Sib into her own room (or in with the other two?).

We found out this month that we are expecting a girl, as I said previously.  We took the NIPT again, though used a different brand (the one preferred by my new dr).  We received the results in 6 days this time and once again, it was a good experience.  I love knowing this early what gender to expect, especially now that my energy is returning.  I have been window shopping for fabric and dreaming up some outfits to sew.

Last night I spent a considerable amount of time on baby name blogs and googling potential keepers.  There was one name I keep coming back to (i.e. the safe choice), one that I really like but N isn’t thrilled about, and one I wish I could use but it feels too wrapped up in slight, but potential controversy.  I keep praying that God will send some clarity to me.  But once again, it’s not keeping me up at night.

It struck me last night that this will be the last time I will name a baby.  There’s a lot of other lasts with this one too: last birth story, last pregnancy, last birth announcement, last time to sew tiny clothes for my own.  It’s nice to know for certain when it’s the last time, so you can savor it, but it also adds a small taste of bitter to the sweet.

So many things to think about, feeling  that much more weighty because we didn’t choose them. But, I still get butterflies when I think about the moment of meeting this special child, the one God chose to add to our family.

-smk

F.A.Q. 4x over

F.A.Q.’s about our Baby Surprise

(P.S. it may be helpful to read my last post, first).

**When is your due date?

On paper, March 3, 2018.  but I think we all know that my babies don’t exactly like to come on time, or even on their own for that matter (save for Bea, God bless her).  Trying to go into it with an open mind and low expectations.  (Last time was hard because we were fighting with Bea’s birthday).  This one is actually pretty close to my birthday (March 1), yes, we have a thing for butting up to birthdays!  But I actually don’t mind, really.  I didn’t want the girls to share one, or even with a holiday for that matter, but my own doesn’t really stress me out.  There are no holidays within sight of that date (save for Valentine’s day, which is PRETTY EARLY) and I’m sad this was my one shot at a leap year babe, but not possible for 2018.  Oh well!

Also, funny story, after the initial shock and excitement had worn off from telling my family, both my mom and sister said, almost in unison, “it’s not due in May, is it?”  We all had a good laugh when we said no, that would not logically make sense.  But their fears were valid.  After having three babies added to our family in short succession, all within fives calendar days of each other, we are thankful to not have another May baby this time!

**I thought you were done?

Ha!  We did too. Heart, mind, and body closed off to the idea of a 4th.  It’s true that in the past we had thought we may have 4, but something changed in me after Sibby came along and I was able to emotionally close that door and move on.  N followed shortly after me.  

There were a lot of thoughts that went into this:

1) I don’t handle pregnancy, particularly the first 12 weeks and the last 4 weeks very well

2) MG is getting older and in a different stage of life.  It felt more freeing to follow that and move the other two girls into that than to hit the “reset” button in a few years

3) My body still had not recovered from Sibby’s birth (or the past 8 months of sleep regression), and I was looking forward to continuing down that path rather than start over with another pregnancy, plus, I knew it was physically impossible for us to get pregnant at this time without help and I didn’t want to seek that out (thankfully God knew better)

4) we liked the identity we had created as an “all-girl” family of three girls.  We had big plans for the three to share a room, and we had starting making long term plans about places we wanted to take our three and big moments we wanted to share with them.

And just to show you that we really had not planned this, if the above doesn’t convince you, we had also put down a non-refundable deposit on a vacation in April 2018 as well as signed up for a mini-marathon that same month.  This pregnancy was not on our radar :).

I think in some ways, it also felt selfish to have another.  Four is a large number and I felt incapable of loving four, little individuals, each with unique personalities, well.  I also worried about babysitters watching four and felt sure that no one would invite us over to their house for dinner (6 extra mouths to feed!)

I think it’s important to share that it wasn’t planned, at least not by us, because I believe in my heart that it is a miracle we are pregnant right now.  I still had the same infertility issues that had followed me after MG’s birth, making it impossible to get pregnant without some medical help for both Bea and Sib. 

Following Sib’s birth, I had watched my body closely to see if it would miraculously bounce back this time and up until the days I took the positive pregnancy test, everything was lining up to be just as bad as before, if not worse.

I was also breastfeeding during this pregnancy, which is a first for me, and should have hurt my chances even more.  

But in a way, it gives us a lot of peace to know that this decision was not ours, especially in the hard moments.  God foresaw all of this and still saw fit to put us in charge of raising another little life.  And for that we can only feel awed and grateful.

I hope you don’t find this deceptive, but I continued to write on my blog as if nothing had changed.  We found out about this pregnancy in early July and it took me all of that month and some of the next to let it sink in, process it, and be able to talk about it.  I guess I’m not one to be good with surprises 🙂

**Have you felt sick?

Y’all know my last three pregnancies were the pits, especially in the first trimester and this one has been no different.  Well, a little different.  Another amazing miracle of this pregnancy is that I have not had to supplement the progesterone hormone pills!  So this pregnancy has been more reminiscent of MG’s.  I am so grateful because even though I have felt like death many, many times over the course of 4-13 weeks, I have been given moments of breaks and relief from it, two things I did not have with Bea’s and Sib’s.  Particularly in the mornings, I would wake up feeling normal, even though I would need some carbs and a nap about two hours later.

Honestly, worse than the nausea has been the fatigue.  It kind of put a damper on the summer because I almost had to nap everyday and also go to bed at 9pm.  That really cuts out a lot of my free time.  Getting lunch and dinner on the table everyday has been a STRUGGLE (ironically, mornings are usually the times I feel the best).  Thankfully, though N didn’t have a true summer break, his schedule was very light and he’s been a huge support to me (as he has been in all of my pregnancies).

It has also been a huge support to have my family nearby.  And I think that might be another reason God allowed us to have a fourth because we have such a good support system.  My sister (bless her, she has a 3 month old!) took the girls some and my mom did too, giving me moments to nap and breathe without trying to keep my energy up for the girls.

**Do the girls know?

Yes they do!  They found out at about 5 weeks actually, when we told my parents.  They were really cute about it and Bea kept saying, “wait, who’s baby is this?”  A valid question because Mary just had her baby, and really I did too! (Sib)

It seems like just yesterday Bea was praying for “Mommy’s baby tummy” (her cute 3 year old prayer for the baby in my tummy-Sib, which was still prayed many months after she was born). We finally convinced her to pray for “Aunt Mary baby tummy” and now it’s my turn again.

They did a pretty good job of keeping it a secret (other than blurting it out to some family–an approved, but still unexpected moment!)

**Speaking of Sib…

Yes, this baby and Sib will be my closest in age!  Less than 2 years!!  Twenty-two months apart, or actually twenty one depending on what side of the due date she falls on. Even though I desired that closeness my first go around with Bea and MG, I grew to love that 2.5 year spread and pushed it even further to 3 years between Bea and Sib. That was so nice for my body and also for the youngest child to have some time of maturing and independence before baby arrived, but we didn’t get so “lucky” this time.  We, more than likely, will have two in diapers, two in pacis, and two in cribs.  Crazy!

But, if I had chosen the spread, I don’t think I would have wanted to do a 3 year gap again, just because I was hopeful for a playmate for Sib (and the closer in age, the easier that seems to be to foster, at least when they are young).  I already didn’t like that she was 3 years behind Bea and with MG & Bea being so tight, I knew it would take a while for Sib to catch up.  I remember once telling N that if we have a fourth, lets do it close in age to Sib so that she can have a buddy like MG & Bea.  Then we both did the math and realized how soon I would have to get pregnant again to accomplish that and quickly did away with the idea.  But now here we are, and we are focusing on the positives.  Like a friend for Sib!

**Do you have a name and will you share?

Just like the last three times, we will keep our names REALLY close to our chests.  I will be devastated if the name leaks out before baby is born because I really enjoy the moment of the trumpeting announcement.  

That being said, we don’t have a firm, write-it-in-stone (or even embroider-it-on-a onesie) name yet. We are still climbing up and down our family tree, looking at different meanings and past moments of importance for our family as inspiration.  This has been the first time that we haven’t had a set name (for a boy or a girl!), but it’s been kind of fun to focus on in the interim

–Oh and by the way, it’s a girl!

I didn’t say that earlier but we found out on Thursday evening, August 24 that we are expecting girl #4!  I have to say I wasn’t exactly shocked.  The intuition was high for this one.  Maybe because I’ve only carried girls so I was already in that mindset, but I just had a really strong feeling that this was another one. My cravings were nearly exact.  My nausea was lighter BUT I wasn’t on extra hormones.  There were many similarities, and a few differences, but the thing that I always go back to is the Ramzi theory* at 8 weeks, and once again it proved to be correct for us. (*too long to explain here, but there is plenty of Google fodder if you are interested :))

–so how do you feel about all girls?

Well, some people don’t believe us when we say this, but we were actually pulling for a fourth girl. It just made the future easier to envision, plus all the clothes and toy hand-me-downs (and let’s not forget the matching!).  Of course, a boy would have been wonderful and we would have been so excited for something different (and he would have had a very close in age boy cousin who lives “down the street”), but in my heart of hearts, I was hoping for girl.  N would say the same.  We already get a lot of comments about “four girls”, “all girls”, etc, but we have embraced it and made it a part of our family identity.  And we love it.  We are so excited for this little girl to join the “sisterhood” and see who she most looks like and who she most attached to (and if it changes through the years).

Bea will no longer be our true middle child, she will now share this trait with Sib.  And we like that we are swinging back over into an even family as it could mean easier room sharing and buddying up without anyone getting left out (at least in theory).

The odds were not in our favor to have four of the same gender, but we feel pretty “lucky” the way the dice rolled this time.

-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

 

1 2 3 39