*Click.* The sound the infant car seat makes as it locks into the car seat base. I get the baby securely in his spot in the mini van, climb into the driver’s seat and let out a big exhale. I just dropped off my two big kids for their first day of preschool, and it went....pretty well! We were only a few minutes late, I did only a minimal amount of yelling as we scrambled out of the house, and no one, myself included, cried when we did good-bye hugs. This was my third year in a row doing first day of school drop off, so I guess I know the ropes by now.Read More
Childbirth. Sometimes the world fades away and it's just you, working, laboring, literally. And then sometimes it takes a village.
When Joseph was born it was all hands on deck. There I was with my feet in the stirrups and nurses pushing on my back, more nurses assisting my doctor, bright lights, people moving frantically about the room, lots of talking, and me screaming that "I need this to be over!"
But let me back up and tell you how I got into this position.Read More
Due dates are the worst. No matter how hard you try to view them as an approximation, if the due date comes and the baby doesn't your brain instantly switches over from rational to irrational. Every day past the due date feels like a week. You begin calculating everything, what you eat, where you go, when you do laundry, trying to figure out how it will coincide with baby's arrival. Every bodily discomfort is wishfully interpreted as a sign of impending labor. You're even searching the weather forecast for changes in barometric pressure. Anything! Just give me a sign that this baby will come out!
This is where I'm at. 40 weeks plus 5 days and baby is sitting quite comfortably in my belly.
Waiting is hard, and I don't do it well. Yet there are many times in life where we are stuck waiting. When as much as I might wish or will it, the thing that I want to come isn't coming and there's nothing I can do about it. This particular period of waiting has an end in sight. I will be induced at the end of this week if baby hasn't come on his own by then. I know that by this weekend I won't be pregnant anymore, and, God willing, I will be at home snuggling my healthy new baby. That makes the waiting a lot easier.Read More
"The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand."
-Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
I recently read this book for the first time and when I came upon this quote I wept. Not just a couple of tears welling in the corners of my eyes. But I actually wept.
"It's me," I thought.
Just in case you were conjuring up images of me calmly leading my docile children through a field of wild flowers, that's not what I mean. No, it's me awkwardly balancing Trixie on my hip next to my giant pregnant belly, sweat running down my face, grabbing hold of Johnny's hand amid protests, scrambling to get to the next thing.Read More
But before I clicked over to Peppa I was struck by a few pieces of commentary offered by the news anchors. That this was a "fairy tale come to life." That you could "see the love in their faces." And, what a "true gesture of romance" it was that Prince Harry actually handpicked some of the flowers in his beloved's bouquet.
I love a good royal wedding. I loved William and Kate's, and loved this one as well. I definitely checked in with the Instagram account of the Royal Family throughout the day. I loved the fashions and formalities of the occasion. I loved seeing my feeds fill up with everyone's wedding pictures in honor of the occasion, and even posted a couple pictures from my own wedding.
After all, we should be celebrating marriage.
My only concern is, if we hold up a royal wedding as the standard of true love and romance, we're likely to end up disappointed when our own middle-class, Midwestern marriages seem to pale in romantic comparison.
After all, I don't know that meeting at a bakery counts as a "fairy tale come to life." And if you were to drop in at our house on a given day I'm not sure you would see the same looks of smitten admiration on my husband's and my faces as Harry and Megan were wearing on their wedding day. And I don't mean to throw anyone under the bus, but it's been a while since I've been given flowers, much less flowers hand picked from a castle garden.
Does that mean the romance in our marriage is dead? No! Far from it! But it has taken on a different appearance over the last 9 years. I don't require the same gallant displays of affection that characterized our dating, engaged, and newlywed years. My husband has found other ways of showing me that he loves me and cares about me. Theses things probably seem boring to the outsider, but to me they are a sign that I am deeply known and loved.
Every night my husband packs Johnny's lunch for school the next day and gets the coffee ready in the coffee maker. He happily does these things because he knows that after a long day of preparing three meals, doing multiple loads of dishes, and repeatedly wiping counters and sweeping the floor, I just can't be in the kitchen for one more minute. And it means the world to me.
We quickly realized after having kids that one of the truest gestures of romance we could make to each other is letting the other sleep in in the morning. In the past we would take turns on the weekends getting up with the kids. But throughout this pregnancy Alex has gotten up with them nearly every morning, allowing me to get a couple extra hours of much needed sleep.
We're just as happy to have some ice cream at home after our kids go to bed as we would be to get dressed up and go out on a fancy date.
Remember the coffee that Alex prepares and programs every night? Every morning he brings a cup of it upstairs for me before I'm out of bed and we have a time of morning prayer together.
Deciding to turn off the TV and just sit and talk. Taking turns changing diapers and fielding tantrums. Texting each other during the day just to check in. Telling me I look beautiful when I know I look like a hot mess. These are gestures of romance that don't require a horse drawn carriage.
All this doesn't mean we shouldn't make time to go out together, or that there's no need to ever give a gift, or write a special note. But it does mean that at the end of a day that was by all appearances perfectly mundane, we know that we've got something really good going here. It's these hundreds of little "true gestures of romance" that show that we are in this for the long haul.
It's easy to be in love when life is idyllic. But what about when it's not? What about when life is monotonous, when work hours are long, when kids are difficult, when appliances are breaking down? What about when crisis strikes, health problems, job transitions, financial difficulties? All marriages will go through these things, but I would argue that's when the real "true gestures of romance" get to shine.
I hope that some day Megan gets the stomach flu and that Prince Harry can hold her hair back for her while she vomits into the toilet. That's a "true gesture of romance" that she will never forget.
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1. This Black Pencil Skirt is super comfortable and looks super put together. Now that we've finally made it to warmer weather you can bet I will be wearing it nearly every day with a t-shirt.
2. Epsom Salts. I love these all the time, and I especially love them while pregnant. This pregnancy I've had some restless leg syndrome, which, if you've never had it, is So Annoying!! It's like the top half of my body wants to sleep and the bottom half of my body wants to run laps around the house. An epsom salts bath at the end of the day paired with a magnesium supplement has worked wonders for my sleep.
3. Maternity/Nursing shirt that covers my tush. Maternity jeans are so not my jam this time around. It's leggings (which I will get to in a moment) all day every day, and so long shirts are essential.
4. Pregnancy Pillow. Alex got me this pillow while I was pregnant with Trixie. It' takes up half of the bed, but it makes sleeping with a giant tum so much more comfortable. I highly recommend it.
5. Maternity Spanx. For underneath dresses and skirts, because everyone can use a little help, right?
6. The best lip balm ever. I get intensely dry lips while during winter and while pregnant, so being pregnant during the winter basically means I have two strips of sandpaper on my face. I first got this lip balm in an Ipsy bag. I love it so much I've restocked on Amazon twice so far.
7. Special Occasion Dress. Because there's usually at least one special occasion during a pregnancy. I wore this dress to a wedding we went to in New York this winter. It was so flattering, I loved wearing it. Just don't forget the maternity Spanx!
8. Belly Oil. I am so past the point of preventing stretch marks, which is the reason many people use belly oil. For me, it's all about comfort. Oil works so much better than lotion when it comes to soothing dry, itchy skin. And if I can prevent a few new stretch marks from popping up, that's ok too!
9. Good Maternity Leggings. Like I already mention, I just can't with the maternity jeans. So until it's warm enough to wear dresses everyday, you will find me in leggings. I've been on the hunt for a good pair of leggings that are thick, not see through at all, go over the belly, and look somewhat presentable. These are by far the best I've found. I've worn them almost everyday since January. I am wearing them as I type this blog post.
That's all for now friends! I hope this helps any fellow preggos out there. Tune in next time for my top pregnancy food cravings!
|A 2 year-old Johnny walking by the entrance to the NICU where he spent his first of life.|
And that's when I realized I was doing the very thing I didn't want done to me - making assumptions.
And how could I? We can't see experiences, we can only learn about them through increased intimacy over time.
It's ok that I didn't share my life's story with my hospital tour group. And it was probably best for my ego that I didn't. But the experience was a good reminder to me that you can't possibly begin to scratch the surface of a person at first glance. I could no more know what scars and memories those other people brought with them to the hospital that day than they could know mine. We are, each of us, incredibly complex, that is a part of the beauty of humanity. Each person I encounter deserves not my judgement, but the dignity of my compassion and understanding. Who knows what I would find out about them if I could take the time to scratch the surface.
On November 11th I took a pregnancy test.
It was positive.
Walking into our bedroom while it was still dark, flicking on the lamp, and showing Alex that positive pregnancy test - the day after his dad died - was a little less than God parting the clouds and bending down to look us straight in the eyes and say, "yes there is death, but it's not the end. I also bring life."
We were not "trying" for this baby. Not like with the other two, where we tried for months in one case and years in the other. But we are open to life, and that means you accept it when it comes, whether it's a good time or not. By worldly standards this was not a great time to be having another baby. We already have two young kids who still have all the needs of young kids, plus the unique needs of a kid with hearing loss and other chronic health problems. Alex was still in school, about to graduate with the student dept he had amassed over the last couple of years, and as of that time no job lined up to pay it off.
But in one very important way it was the perfect time for a new baby.
I believe it is no coincidence that while we were grieving the first big family loss that either of us had experienced, we got our first surprise baby. It was as though I were hearing it for the first time - God alone is the author of life and death. Sometimes we're able to trick ourselves into thinking we're in control, but really, none of this is up to us. And when it seems like we are surrounded by death, He gives signs of life, a small foretaste of the Everlasting Life that He offers us.
It's now four months later. We are in the middle of Lent. I normally love the season of Lent, but not this year. I've had enough of sorrows. It's cold, it's dark, my body is in varying but constant levels of pain from carrying this child. Extreme exhaustion, the unrelenting demands of parenting and work, and a winter that never seems to end leave me feeling a little bit dead inside. I look out my window and see the decay of last year's garden poking out from under the snow in my backyard. I long for signs of life.
Then I feel the kick against my ribs. I see a patch of grass where the snow is slowly receding. I look at my calendar and see that Easter is only two weeks away.
Signs of life. Reminders that He is as faithful as the changing of seasons.
Spring after winter. Easter after Lent. Life after death.