Because I am so near the end of this pregnancy, I am what you might call…um…large. Great with child? My eleven year old says I’m HUGE. He’s learning tact.
Most nights are, to put it bluntly, completely miserable. I fall asleep quickly, and I sleep well until somewhere between 2:00 and 3:30, at which point I might as well just start getting out of bed and calling it day. Instead, I toss and turn, and mumble about the wicked heat, despite the air being turned as low as my husband will allow it, and a fan pointed directly at my face.
When morning finally rolls around, I try to pull myself out of bed with a good attitude, but generally my first thought is, “Well thank God that’s over.”
Then I suck it up, act like a big girl, drink a little coffee, and move on with my day.
Such is life. We don’t always get what we want, and sleep is overrated anyway, really. Who needs it?
(I do. I really do.)
I’ve also got a To-Do list that’s a half mile long, with two-thirds of it probably residing somewhere on the unrealistic side. Nesting is no joke, you guys. Last week, I took out the strongest cleaner I could find and washed my front door.
I WASHED my FRONT DOOR.
Add that to the list of ridiculous things I feel like I need to finish before baby arrives and you get a small picture of the crazy that is surrounding most of my days. Feel free to pray for my family as they deal with me.
The cherry on top of all of it is my desire to keep creating. I was in a creativity groove this summer, and I love it. I poured myself into my creative pursuits, writing and dreaming up ideas. I started new projects, and continued to push forward on completed projects. I published an ebook, sent out countless queries for my novel, started the proposal for a new book, and wrote blog posts for several different sites.
It was so much fun! My writer heart felt very fulfilled.
Now, however, the time to create has begun to taper, and I know that when the baby arrives there will be a period of time when it stops altogether. Fatigue plays a role in this lack of creativity, as do all those other tasks I want to accomplish. I’m still setting aside some time to write, but not as much as before.
And that is okay.
Living this life as a creative is a constant balance of knowing what I need to do and what I want to do. We creatives tend to be our own worst critics, never feeling like what we do is enough, but in the pursuing of our art, we can so quickly forget to live.
A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I watched the movie Hook and I was struck by the last line of the film. Granny Wendy looks gently at Peter after he returns from the grand adventure in Neverland.
“So,” she says. “Your adventures are over.”
“Oh no,” he replies. “To live – to live would be an awfully big adventure.”
In the quest to accomplish and finish and do, it’s really easy to forget to live. Stepping away from the To-Do list long enough to swim with my children is not a waste of time – it’s living.
Putting aside the writing for today so that I can focus on preparing for the arrival of my daughter is not a waste – it’s living.
Enjoying a game night with my family instead of folding and putting away that laundry is not a poor use of time – it’s living. (And let’s face it – who wants to do laundry anyway, Amirite?!)
It’s all part of the adventure.
So this one is for all the creatives who feel like there just isn’t enough time to create. Don’t be afraid to set it all aside for a little while. Don’t be afraid to live, because to live is the grandest adventure of them all.
As we close in on the due date, sleep is naturally elusive. Thanks to the heat, I am swollen and uncomfortable, and I am apparently carrying a tiny little radiator because I cannot cool off to save my life.
Incidentally, I also told my midwife yesterday that I think I might be carrying an octopus because I swear there are eight legs kicking me from every single angle in there. She was a new midwife. She doesn’t get my humor. She told me I probably wasn’t carrying an octopus.
If I birth a squid she will be sorry she didn’t believe me…
With sleepless nights come some unreasonable emotions. Being that this isn’t my first rodeo, I know what to expect, and I am offering myself a little bit of grace these days as I prepare to bring our baby girl (octopus?) home.
The other night, I woke up at 3:30. This is par for the course, but as I tossed and turned, a nagging worry began rolling through my heart. It bubbled soft at first, then quickly grew until I was in full blown panic.
Usually I wake up because the baby is playing Tetris in my ribs. This time, however, I noticed that I couldn’t feel her moving. She was very still, and that is unusual. Suddenly the silence of the night and the darkness that surrounded got the best of me, and I feared the very worst.
I never worried about losing a child in utero with my other three. Of course I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t exercise a lot of mind power on thinking about it, because I didn’t really think it could happen to me. I also had never read a blog, nor been on Facebook the first three times I was pregnant.
I birthed my first three children in the dark ages. We were still using film (FILM!) when Sloan was born.
In the six and a half years since I last had a child, I’ve read countless heartbreaking stories of families losing children late in their pregnancies. It’s much more of a reality to me now and, naturally, more of a concern. I know I don’t need to worry, but again, darkness and fatigue are a wily combination.
I finally got up and drank a little orange juice, then pushed on my belly a little until I felt her shift. She’s not moving as much as she used to due to the fact that there is no more room in there. The Inn is full! It’s time to move on, little one.Thankfully, the shifting set my heart at ease long enough to let me go back to sleep. But the fear was waiting for me when I woke back up.
Having already walked with my older kids through a terminated adoption, I feel more emotion than I know how to communicate at the idea of them experiencing another loss. It nags in the back of my mind, and as I wake each morning I have to lay all those fears to rest. Already, before she’s even born, I’m relinquishing the control over her tiny little life. She is not mine, but merely a gift from God. I will trust Him, and I know I will continually have to lay down this fear throughout her entire life.
I know, because I have to do it with the other three.
I know, because I still pray for the little girl sitting in an orphanage in Russia who had a family ready to meet and love her.
Part of being a mother is dealing with the natural worry that comes with the territory, and with the onslaught of stories passed down through social media, we’re faced with the reality of those worries on a daily basis. So each day begins with a prayer for their safety, and with the relinquishing of control, because I am not in control.
I spent a little time in her nursery this morning. It’s peaceful in there. The colors are soothing, and the room is clean (for now), which makes it the only clean place in the house (for now). As I sat on her bed, I felt her shift and move again, and I was grateful for the reminder that all is well, and I am not in control.
God has been Gracious and Merciful to our family over the last three years. They have been hard years, but He has been faithful. I am trusting in His Grace and Mercy to bring this little girl (squid?) into our family safely (and soon! Oh please, soon!). So when the darkness closes in, and the world becomes still (too still), I will embrace the knowledge that He is Gracious, He is Merciful, and He is in Control.
And I will quit complaining when she jabs me in the ribs, because that feeling is evidence of the blessing.
Here’s the thing – the baby weight gain thing is kicking me in the tail this time around. Not that I’m gaining more weight than I did with any of the other three, but rather that I seemed to have…ahem…spread out a bit more this time around.
My original due date was September 19, but after the 20 week ultrasound, the technician felt we needed to push the due date back to September 30. Because I apparently offended her somehow upon walking into the room. Or maybe she just hates pregnant women?
Hard to say, really.
So if anyone asks me when I’m due, I will give the oh-so-vague reply, “Some time in September. Mid to Late. Hopefully closer to mid than late.” It’s not a cool answer. I can’t even tell you for sure how many weeks along I am. 25? 26? 27?
At this point, I’m starting to wonder if this pregnancy may, in fact, be a permanent condition.
Earlier this week, three different women asked me if I was having twins. “Are you sure?” one of them replied when I told her no. Well, my new friend, now I’m not. Maybe one of them is good at hide and seek? Who can be sure of such things, really? Based on how quickly I’ve grown from cute little bump to MASSIVE MELON-BALL BELLY, perhaps I’ve spontaneously and miraculously begun growing triplets.
If that were to happen to anyone, it would be me.
Other than already being uncomfortable, and wondering how on earth I’m going to make it another 13-15 weeks, things are going relatively smoothly. I haven’t slept well in a week, which I attribute to a potential hormone surge by baby girl. Because carrying girl babies tends to put me through the ringer.
I don’t have any big cravings this time around, although my car did steer itself into a McDonald’s Drive-Thru today, and the possessed pregnant side of my brain ordered a chocolate milkshake. I tried to talk her out of it, but the urge was ultimately too great to ignore.
That was the best chocolate milkshake I’ve ever eaten.
I leave on Wednesday for California for a week with my tribe, my fellow creatives who gather yearly to spur one another on toward our passions and goals. When thinking about the trip, I feel near giddy with excitement. But when thinking of the plane ride across country to get there, I feel suddenly light-headed and nauseous.
I mentioned the fact that I’m carrying a large watermelon in my midsection, right?
Two weeks after that trip, we will pile into our (smokin’ hot) minivan for a road trip north. Hours upon hours in a car with a 15 pound watermelon in my gut (that also happens to kick me repeatedly in the bladder…yay me) sounds a bit like a torture chamber, but whatever. It will make the time pass quicker, and time passing means that soon I won’t be pregnant anymore.
Unless, of course, my suspicions are true and I really am going to be pregnant for the rest of time.
I sound like I’m complaining, don’t I?
That’s because I am. Humor me, please?
It’s not all horrible, to be sure. There are moments that I enjoy. I do love feeling the baby kick. It’s really magical to feel those bumps and know that life is growing inside me. I won’t ever lose the awe of that experience.
Other than that, though, meh…I’m over it.
Keeping my eye on the prize is the only thing motivating me to power forward. Well, that and the fact that I have no choice. There’s a sweet baby girl waiting at the finish line, so I’m choosing to focus on her, and I am really, really excited to meet her.
Sometime in the next 13-15 weeks…hopefully closer to 13 than 15.
Before my first trip to Belarus as a fifteen-year-old, I, along with the rest of our team, went through extensive training on how to travel overseas. We learned behavioral differences between our country and others (Americans are loud), we learned how to properly and respectfully address the people we would meet, the rules for public transportation, and how to react to a plate of jello filled with sardines if it was placed before you.
Hint: Don’t make gagging noises and push it away. Act normal, swallow hard, and prepare for a culinary adventure.
By the time we left, we were fully ready to conquer the world, and for the most part we did a great job. There were a few instances, of course, when our American senses would overwhelm and we’d let out a shriek of excitement only to be met with the tsks of a nearby Babyshka. And really, no matter how hard you try, you couldn’t parade a group of 15-18 year old Americans down a Belorussian sidewalk in 1994 and not expect some sort of gawking.
Mostly, though, we handled ourselves well. Until that one day…
We made a stop in Frankfurt, Germany on our way home. It was a day and a night to decompress and explore. We grabbed our monstrous, rolling suitcases after making it through customs and in a long line, we made our way to the train that would take us to our hotel.
But there was a problem. We had to get down a long, very narrow escalator in order to get to the train. Perhaps, looking back, wisdom would have dictated that maybe we find an elevator that would better accommodate our bags, but we were running late, so we were instructed to turn our bags sideways and go down.
Only the first person in the group missed the instruction about turning the bag sideways.
He got to the bottom of the escalator and stepped off, but his bag did not budge. It was wedged tight. He yanked and pulled and in the meantime, the person behind him tried to step up and over his bag, only to lose her bag behind her in the process.
On and on it went with each of us trying to dive over the now growing pile of baggage, piling up like the players in a really bad, painfully humiliating rugby match. The ever moving escalator continued to propel everyone behind us downward, though some of the smart ones turned and fought the current to get back to the top.
It was the most hysterical mess as we all tumbled to the bottom, then slowly began to disentangle the unfortunate bags. We brushed ourselves off, held our heads high, and made our way to the train trying to communicate that we weren’t always this cool.
These last few days have felt like another ride on that fateful escalator. As one “bag” after another piled up at the bottom, I could see the mound approaching, and I hoped I could leap over it.
I tripped and fell yesterday. It all hit me. The stress of a job change, last minute flights to Arkansas that had to be changed into last minute flights to Houston for job interviews. Last day of school. Cancer diagnosis.All of life piled up before me, and instead of gracefully leaping over it, I fell miserably, a hyperventilating, panicked mess of a woman who thought she could hold it together.
It’s my fault, really. I forgot I’m pregnant, and that emotions when pregnant tend run a little…um…hotter than normal. I forgot to sleep, and I didn’t eat properly. I tried to do everything, and to be everyone to all my people. I wanted to be the strong one – the one who held it together.
Instead I’m the one who had a panic attack in the school parking lot.
I’m better today. It’s a new day, and releasing a lot of the pent up fears and heartache helped to dislodge the baggage waiting to trip me up. That’s the problem with keeping everything squelched up inside. It’s like trying to fit an oversized rolling bag on an undersized escalator.
It’s bound to cause a fall.
Are you feeling overwhelmed today? Is there a mound of life piling up before you? Before you try to jump over it, can I encourage you to call a friend, or meet with someone face to face who will let you unload some of the emotions?
Trust me – you will much prefer that to hyperventilating in a parking lot. I’m not always this cool, folks…
Here’s to a restful, balanced, baggage free weekend.
We decided early on that we wanted to find out the gender of this baby, but we also wanted to take advantage of the fun developments that have occurred in the last six years since we had our last child. (And by “We,” I assume you all I know I mean “Me.” Lee is, graciously, along for this crazy ride).
There weren’t gender reveal parties when we had babies earlier. This is a new development, and a fun one to boot!
Last Thursday, I had an ultrasound, and I kept my head turned and my eyes squeezed shut while the technician pushed and moved the baby around looking for the right shot. She got a clear view, and handed me a sealed envelope with the results, and thus began the most stressful 24 hours of my pregnancy.
I held the results in my hand, but we had determined to find out together as a family.
Do you know how many times I considered opening them, then resealing them in another envelope?!
Roughly 168 times…
But I resisted, and I handed off the envelope to my friend Jenni, who was tasked with pulling the surprise together. And I spent the second 24 hours talking myself out of texting her to see if I could get her to slip up and offer me some clue as to the results. I’m glad I waited, though, because the surprise?
Oh it was sweet.
I had my mouth open for most of the pictures. Good grief, I have a huge mouth…
Truthfully, I’ve felt for most of this pregnancy that I was carrying a girl, but there was a part of me that feared I was wrong. Of course I would have been equally as thrilled to have another little boy, but here’s the thing:
I feel like this little girl is just a whisper of God’s sweetness to me.
It’s no secret that the termination of our adoption was one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching experiences I’ve ever walked through. While I mourned the loss of a child I had prayed for, dreamed of, and envisioned for so many years, I lost something else, too.
I lost the guarantee of a sister for my Katya.
These past 18 months have been some of the hardest of my life. Not only did I say goodbye to my dream of adoption, and to the child that we had already prayed for and loved, but I also experienced personal heartache within my own family, and it all became a lot to process.
I longed for a sister in the last year. I see the relationships that so many others have with their sisters, and I wished I had the same.
Adoption had been a way for me to answer that dream for my daughter. I dreamed of giving her a sister, and by adopting a little girl, I felt like I could at least give her that gift.
See the thing is – Stuart men are not known for producing little girls. Our Tia broke a long history of strong male lineage, and I feared that we had already struck the X-Chromosome gold, so to speak, and it seemed fairly far-fetched to think we might be able to have another girl on our own.
So I had prepared myself to bring another (amazing) little boy into this world, and to pray that Tia would be blessed with sister-friends instead.
This is my very favorite of all the photos.
But God is so good to hear my deepest heart’s cry. He knows that I still ache a bit over the failed adoption, and perhaps I always will. Perhaps that experience will always sting just a little.
But He provided a balm by answering the smallest of prayers.
Please give my girl a sister.
What a joy it was to experience this moment with our families, both near and far. Thank you modern technology. Yet another advance from the last time we did this whole baby thing.
Having a baby in 2014 is F-U-N!
Thank you to everyone who celebrated this day with us virtually.We opted not to have an in person gender reveal, because I just felt like it would be too much, but the online virtual party we had was even more fun, because all of my worlds, past and present, collided in that one moment, and it felt like the most special day in all the world.
Social media, man. It’s pretty awesome.
And, of course, a big, huge, GIGANTIC shout out to Jenni of Avodah Images for keeping the secret, bringing the balloons, and taking the photos. I’m so grateful that she and her family were there with us for this day. What a blessing.