Category Archives: pregnancy

A Letter to My Third Child 

This is a post I wrote a few weeks before D was born. It was up on Mom Babble for a while, and I only just remembered I hadn’t ever published it here. It’s such a sweet memory for me, especially now that he’s 16 months old, running around, beginning to talk, and generally being more self-sufficient than my other two were at this point in their lives. It’s sweet to think of the anticipation I was feeling when he wasn’t quite here yet. I hope you enjoy it.

My sweet little D,

I’m getting really excited for you to get here. There are just nine weeks left until you’re due to arrive, and I already wish I could just see you next week. Mostly, I’m excited to meet you, see what you look like, and introduce you to your crazy siblings. Also I’m getting uncomfortable, peeing all the time, and sleeping less than ever. But mostly I want to meet you.

I know you’ve been in my womb, hearing the squeals and shouts and cries and songs of your family. We may be a loud bunch, but we’re a good one, too. We love big, and we show it often. When you get out here, you’re going to feel the love from all the kisses and hugs you get from all of us. You might also get a love tap or seven from J, but it’s just because he can’t wait for you to be big enough to wrestle him. EK will probably want to choose your outfits and give you bottles and push you in the stroller. I promise to help you look like the boy that you are instead of a princess, and only let her push you fast once you can handle it.

You gave us a scare, when you were just the size of a lime. I took some tests that made us think you weren’t healthy, that you might not make it. Well, you sure showed us! We should have had faith in you and in God, and known that you would be fine. But we had a couple of hard, sad weeks, praying for your safety. You were loved, prayed for, and longed for, even then. We can’t describe how much more you are right now, and how much more you will be once you’re in our arms.

I am sure you will be every bit as amazing as your dad and your siblings. Strong, smart, handsome, musical, hilarious, snuggly, and compassionate… those are things you’ve got going for you. I know it must seem like a tall order to such a little dude, but you’ve got a little while to grow into it.

I hope you don’t mind sharing all those things (and all the other things ever) with your siblings. You’ve got quite a bit of third-hand clothing and toys, in various stages of worn-in. But you know what? There is one thing that you get brand new, just for you, that you never have to share with anyone:

My love.

You see, I have a lot of love. There is plenty to go around. I’ve got a special love for your Dad, that only he knows about. I’ve got a love for EK that’s just for her, shared between this Mommy and her daughter. I’ve got a love for J that will also be different than my love for you; he is a special guy. The love that I have for you will be a special thing that you and I will share. The love I have for exactly you will be special between us, and it will never run out or grow weary. I get all my love from the most inexhaustible source imaginable; I get all my love from Jesus. One day, you will know Him too. You can already have His love – everyone has it. He loves us all with a big, awesome love that we can hardly understand.

Always remember: you’re brave, smart and kind, you can do anything you set your mind to, and I will always love you.

Love,
Mama

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

  I’ve had an unforseen transformation over the past couple of years. As a girl who never had a green thumb or really cared about gardens of any sort, I’ve learned to really love growing things. I get excited in the early spring about planning out our vegetable and herb garden, readying the soil, building a new bed, perhaps, and buying the seeds and seedlings. It’s hard work, especially the preparation, but I’ve learned to really enjoy it. Last summer, I was one thousand months pregnant with my third baby, and I was shoveling fresh dirt into a new bed. I wanted to be a part of it that much.

I love seeing the first little glimpses of life coming up through the soil. I love smelling the fresh leaves on the herbs, especially after it rains. I love seeing the very first tiny, green tomatoes, and little yellow squashes. I even like trimming, pruning and deadheading to help send the nutrients to the good parts of the plant. I love the way my big kids want to get outside with me, dig in the dirt, and eat tomatoes right off the vine. My eldest can even name most of the herbs, and identify them by smell. Even as recently as five years ago, I’d never be able to tell you that I would love it this much, and incorporate it into my life so fully.

But I started growing something else, about five years ago. It was a big task, something that took the most energy, time, effort, and prayer I’ve ever given anything. I grew a child in my womb. I was the vessel as God literally knit a life together and helped it grow. Now, I am a nurturer to three such blessings, helping them grow. Yes, it still takes the most energy, time, effort and prayer I can muster. Yes, it even takes a little pruning of misconceptions and education after mistakes to help the best parts of my children thrive. Train up a child in the way he should go (Prov. 22:6), yes?

It may be a cheesy metaphor, but the love of growing things became so real to me when I was growing something of my very own. The love the God helps us grow, the love of parents help their children grow, and the love of a gardener helps her garden grow. Tending anything that grows requires effort. It requires the giving of nutrients and water. It requires protection from storms, literal or figurative. It requires a certain love for the thing to help it grow. We are not abandoned to grow on our own in the wild; we have a loving God, tending to our needs, and helping us grow into who He’s called us to be.

A Letter to Myself Before I Became a Mother

  
Dear innocent, young girl,

I want to write you, even though I know you’ll never see it. But maybe it will make us both feel better, and let us share a little of ourselves with each other. Oh, if you only knew what’s coming. I could tell you so many things, but you wouldn’t even want to hear them right now. It’s difficult to understand the lifestyle, the struggles, all of the feels that you will experience later. You might even have a chuckle or two (or hearty laugh, actually) at some of the things coming for you.

But in lieu of us having a little laugh at my (our) expense, I thought I’d give a piece or two of advice. You know, a friendly few suggestions to maybe try out before you get to where I am now: wading through a pile of children on my way to the bathroom in the morning, hearing shouts floating up the stairs before I’ve even heard my alarm (by the way, my alarm is a crying baby). Here are my three big pieces of advice:

1. Sleep late. I know you do already, or I wouldn’t know how much you’d miss it. But do it more often, as often as possible. And you know what else? Go to bed early. I know you’re a night owl and you love staying awake in the wee hours, but just try it out once or twice. You might find that you like it!

2. Travel. You don’t have any idea how cheap and easy it is to go places right now. It will be again, but not for a while. Get out there into the world beyond your town. Visit friends that live far away, go to different time zones while your body can spring back easily, get on an airplane without any tag-alongs (and I don’t mean Girl Scout cookies), eat fancy food, visit museums and see shows. You’ll find that each of these things is either more expensive, more difficult, or altogether impossible, at least for a little while. Travel enough now to save up some memories until your children are older and you’re not using your paycheck on diapers.

3. Sow seeds. This seems broad, but it can be specifically applied to three areas: your family, your friends, and your career. You will be busy when you’ve got little ones. And not any sort of busy that you’ve ever experienced. You won’t have much time to build new relationships, so sow good seeds into the family and friends you’ve got now. You want them to stick around during that time when you’re largely an unshowered, frazzled mess, alive solely because of coffee. They’ll be forgiving (and even helpful!) because you’ve spent years loving them well when you had the time and energy for it. Your career will thank you as well. Work hard and long while you don’t have those little ones who need you at home. You’ll build a base of trust and integrity, and likely receive grace later when you have a sick babe or preschool play to attend.

The last thing I’ll say, free and childless one, is when you do get ready for children, and you are expecting one of your own, don’t brush off what those mothers you meet will tell you. New mothers, old mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers will all impart wisdom to you in their own way. Sometimes, you won’t know why they need to tell you those ridiculous things, or scare you with their labor stories, or be the hundredth woman to tell you, “Oh, just wait!” They’re all right; what they say will be true at some point during your mothering experience. You will be tired, you will get fed up, and you will feel the craziest, strongest, most permanently bonding love you’ve ever felt about anything. Open your heart to it, because it’s the best thing you’ll ever feel.

Top Posts of 2015

Well, 2015 was a landmark year for me as a writer. I was published on three sites other than my own, and even paid for my work! That’s something that I never thought would happen, and I’m so proud of myself, if I’m allowed a little pat on the back.

gold-2015-clipart-1

So, in honor of a successful year of writing, AND because tons of my blogger friends were doing this, here are my top five posts from 2015! Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing your lives, caring about mine, and contributing to my success!

Things I’ve Heard at 33 Weeks Pregnant – a hilarious account of all the things that strangers tell you when you’re very obviously pregnant.

10 Tips for Soon-to-Be Moms – a first installment of a series (the second is here!) of tips and tricks for moms, soon-to-be moms, and friends of moms.

Why I Decided to Stop Breastfeeding (and You Can, Too) – my breastfeeding journey with D

Accidental Announcement – that one time I told y’all I was pregnant, but I didn’t mean to.

An Open Letter to Friends Who Don’t Invite Me to Stuff Just Because I Have Kids – because I have feelings, and I still want to hang out!

What were your favorite posts of the year?

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day

My story is one of redemption. It’s a story of loss, of sadness, of time passing very slowly… and a story of the sweetest redemption I could’ve asked for.

After I had my daughter, Hubby and I didn’t wait to get pregnant again. We didn’t try necessarily, but we knew we wanted another, so we just waited it out. When EK was almost 11 months old, we found out we were pregnant again! How quickly you grow attached to the little one in your womb. Just the idea of that baby was the most wonderful thought in my head day in and day out. But two weeks later, I was feeling terrible and crampy, and started bleeding. By the time I got into the doctor’s office for an ultrasound, it was already clear I was losing the baby. Hubby was leaving town, I had to work, and I didn’t have time to properly mourn. I couldn’t believe it had ended so quickly and quietly. Or was I glad it had ended that way, instead of further along and with more to-do? I don’t know.

But after three months of waiting to try again, of being sad every time I even thought about babies… I was chatting with some girlfriends, asking how much longer it should be before I could move on and try again. I was startled, taken aback by the question. The subject had been a little taboo, or else people hadn’t even known about it. So when I got my calendar out, counted up weeks… I realized it had been plenty long enough to have started again and been trying.

When I got home, I took a test that had been waiting in the bottom of my bathroom drawer, awaiting just such an occasion as this uncertainty. I waited with bated breath… and when I finally looked at it, two bold, pink lines were showing.

Positive.

Positively pregnant.

I could barely believe what I was seeing. I somehow had ovulated and conceived without any sign. I was baffled, and still thought it was a mistake. Could the pregnancy hormones have hung around this long? Could it somehow be a false positive, staring back, taunting me?

It wasn’t.

My grief dissipated, and my heart hung on to this new little one… who is now 21 months old, my sweet Joseph. I know that this isn’t always the happy ending parents get after losing a baby. I know that the grief is more intense the longer the pregnancy and older the baby. I know that multiple losses cause more and more pain. But there can be redemption in the midst, and joy in the morning. It may not be identical to my redemption… but it will come.

Infant and pregnancy loss are real, folks. And they are truly tragedies, spoken and unspoken. Remember those who have lost little ones, big ones, tiny ones, and grown ones. It’s never easy to lose a child. Hug someone’s neck or send a note to say you remember. It will go a long way.

This post is in honor of infant and pregnancy loss awareness day (October 15) and month (October) in 2015.

I Choose to Run

Feet pounding the pavement. The rhythmic sound of my breathing. The fresh air, and the birds chirping. The stroller I push is heavy with my two big babies inside. But I wouldn’t trade this hour of my day for anything. The clear air clears my mind, lets me have a quiet moment, even if it isn’t exactly relaxing.

I can’t always plan this hour into my day. Now that I have three children, one of them needs to be occupied elsewhere. (Read: Hubby needs to be home.) But when I can get this time in, my body, mind and soul all feel better and freer. The rush of endorphins I feel is enough to make me want to do it again, even without the other benefits.

Getting back into running after this last pregnancy and delivery honestly wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, especially since I dropped off the exercise train way before I delivered. I was doing only yoga at the end – which is basically zero cardio when it’s prenatal yoga. My muscles were itching to get back to moving long before I actually could; I’m pretty strict with myself about waiting to start everything back until I’m 5 or 6 weeks out. My first run was a tough one, but I managed to get (running and a little walking) a mile and a half without too much struggle. The subsequent few runs worked me up to a little over two miles so far (I’m almost 7 weeks out). And (TMI – beware) I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my bladder seems to be holding itself pretty darn well… even better than a few months after I delivered J. I guess that just shows you how different your body can be from baby to baby.

My fitness goal this time around has changed a little. I’m blessed to be able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly and easily, and back in all my clothes pretty soon. So instead of using those as targets, I want to make a diet change (I let myself eat like a jerk – mostly increased portions and extra desserts – when I’m pregnant/nursing) and build muscle. So, here in the blog world, I’m claiming it: I want to be toned! That’s the goal. Running for cardio and legs (also mental and emotional well-being!), and I’m going to keep up with a little yoga since it’s good for my joints and my core, and I’m going to ramp up the arms. No teacher arms for me!

What have your fitness goals been recently? Have you instituted a diet change along with them? What works for you and your busy schedule?

Things I Missed While I Was Pregnant

  
When you become pregnant, it’s a fun secret. You don’t tell everyone right away, and sneaky moments alone with your spouse or your best friend might be the only time you get to dish about how you’re feeling, how excited you are, or things you’re planning for the pregnancy/baby. Then, you’re able to tell everyone. It’s still really exciting, the excitement outweighs the trepidation certainly, and you’re seeing the world through those famous rose-colored glasses. However, once you’ve been following your specialized diet for a while, once you’ve gotten pretty big, and once you’re just plain ready for the baby to arrive, you are, as you might say, “over” being pregnant. Not over having a baby, but over your size, your restrictions, and the waiting game. Here are a few things that I miss when I’m pregnant:

Running. I’m not a hardcore runner, but I do love it. I don’t run terribly long distances – the farthest I’ve ever run at once is a 10k – but I miss being able to run farther than the top to the bottom of the playground slide. I know some women keep it up throughout their pregnancies, but I was feeling too yucky at the beginning of this past pregnancy to keep it up for long. Therefore, it’s been months since I’ve been on a nice, long, mood-uplifting run. I’ll be glad to get to my six-week check up and get cleared to exercise again! 

Alcohol. Specifically, wine. More specifically, Prosecco. That’s my drink of choice on any given occasion. Especially during the summer, when it’s hot and I want a cool, bubbly glass of something. And on the list of diet restrictions, let’s just leave tuna and sushi right here. I’ve already had those things several times since my delivery a week and a half ago…

Reaching my toes. It’s a bit laboring to see my toes for the last couple of months, much less be able to cut my toenails or (are you kidding?!) paint them. And because this past one was my third baby, it was almost impossible to find a time to go get them done, so I was stuck with scraggly-looking toenails. You’re welcome for that image.

Having an entire wardrobe. This may sound superficial, but here’s the deal. I’m just not going to buy tons of maternity clothes. First off, they’re pretty expensive, and you’re only wearing them for a handful of months. Secondly, to really have them fit you correctly (or as well as they can), you’d need to get a set of clothes for the first half of your pregnancy where you’re out of your regular clothes but not enormous, and a second set for the rest, when you truly are… enormous. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Sleeping on my stomach. I’m a stomach sleeper if I have the choice. I love being flat on my belly to sleep, with my squished-flat, down pillow. Obviously I lost the ability to do that months ago, even if I was going to ignore the “sleep on your left side” advice. I also know from experience it’ll be a few more weeks before I get that back, because my boobs are engorged and leaky and I don’t want to lay on them. You’re welcome for that image, as well.

Breathing normally. Y’all, I took for granted how easy it was just to breathe. Towards the end of the pregnancy, it was so difficult sometimes that I actually had to change positions just to do it. The only time I was super comfortable was when I was standing (you know, for the first two minutes) or laying down. There wasn’t really a seated position that worked for me for very long.

Going through a store without anyone talking to me. I know this sounds selfish, but every time I went to the grocery store, to drop my car off at the shop, or (God forbid) into Babies R Us, everyone was all up in my business. When am I due? How am I feeling? How far along am I? Is it my first baby? Am I worried my water’s going to break on the way home? Do I think this third baby is going to fall right out? (I am totally serious.) I love people, and I love talking. But I feel like I pretty much exhausted this subject with every stranger I met.

What are some things you missed while you were pregnant? Are you missing them right now?