What dreams are made of

The rain had begun to pour. My friend Daniela was teaching us (a medium sized group of people standing in the rain) about something and had to walk up a fairly steep hill in order to dodge the car traffic and not get soaking wet. Once up there, she had to come back down to help drain the water, steer it off the hill. My friend Chris and his wife, Jessica, helped. 

As they came down the hill, I noticed that their pace was quite speedy. In fact, it looked as if they were on wheels! Moments later, that was confirmed when we got a clear view of Jessica. She was wearing some fancy roller skates and the tool she was using to redirect the water also had wheels attached. All the wheels were a bright yellow. 

When she got to the bottom of the hill, we heard a loud gurgling/flushing sound. 

Suddenly, I woke up saying, “Oh, it’s this little one!” The baby lump laying on my chest had just made a diaper deposit. 

What a great way to begin the day. 

Everything

(Folks tend to get worked up, jumping into fix-it mode, when someone shares from their heart. So, I feel the need to add these words: I’m fine. Feeling deeply isn’t bad. Just read it and enjoy it. Try.)

 

Everything changes tomorrow. We’ll become a family of four. Hopefully no sooner than tomorrow because even though I was hoping for yesterday, this morning has reminded me of all the things I’d rather have in the “completed” category before daughter #2 arrives.

Everything.

It’s not a pending doom; I’m not that melodramatic. It is a change, however, and a big one that I know I can’t be perfectly prepared for. That’s part of the problem, really. I’d like to only see beautiful packages with bows all around me. This is a figurative desire. I definitely don’t want all that in my face. Taking down Christmas decorations a few weeks back reminded me that I do better with less stuff in sight. The sigh of relief to see all that seasonal decor return to the basement was palpable.

So yes to figurative packages and bows. Yes to knowing all that needs to be completed has been completed. Yes to even knowing what needs to be completed. (What am I missing? Oh dear.)

Everything.

We’re a really good crew, the three of us. I’m looking at a picture of us right now, one Ella enjoys relocating at will. Thanks to her independence, it’s currently right in front of my face. We’re a family. We drive each other a little batty sometimes. We laugh a ton. We’ll still be that and have that but differently.

Everything.

Some time ago, I realized that I was mourning the loss of being a family of three. Again, this isn’t meant to sound melodramatic. Perhaps I’m simply in my feelings a bit too much but I found myself wanting to remember the way we are for as long as possible. It’s not that I don’t love the little one inside me. It’s that I’m not the most flexible person. I used to think I was. If you’d interviewed me for a job back in the day, flexibility would have been one of those golden traits I would tell you I had. Ha! I mean, I’m mature enough to roll with some punches. I like habits and the ability to kick them aside when needed. But I don’t consider myself flexible except for when I do P90X yoga stretches next to my inflexible husband.

And it’s also the unknown. For as much as I can talk, sing, preach about finding our security in the Lord, I’m a bit nervous as to what our future’s about to look like.

Everything.

There have been moments during the last couple of days when I’ve more intently looked at my toddler, hugged her, kissed her, played with her, hoping with all my heart that nothing and no one makes her feel unloved in the days ahead. I want her safe, emotionally safe. Stress free. And I definitely feel as if her dad and I know best how to provide that reality for her. In truth, I want her at the hospital with me all the time but yeah, that’s not at all realistic. And a toddler watching a C-section—yeah, not a good plan even if the hospital offered it as an option.

Everything.

Right now, only my husband and I know our new little girl’s names. Just as with our first, we’ll announce them once she’s born. We like the zero-feedback route. What’s done is done. We’ve had her names for months, for most of the pregnancy, I think, and we reconfirmed spellings the other night. I’d like her big sister to be the first family member to know her names. I doubt Ella will remember the moment but the sentimental everything-should-be-fair piece of me wants it that way. Even my OB and all the nurses can work with “Baby Jeffery” for a few hours, right?

Everything.

How do people have large families? How do women continually go through pregnancies? I won’t be finding out for myself. I will be learning to love the two girls I’ve been given. If any more children enter the picture, it won’t be via my uterus.

To the women who’ve birthed tribes, I salute you. To the women who’ve lost them, I stretch out my hand. To the men and women who’ve embraced parenting (no matter how the children have come), thank you for your example. I keep reminding myself that we’re not the first, we’ll be just fine.

But yeah. Everything.

She just moved. It felt like a kick. I think there may be a competition for feistiest female in our household.

Everything.

A Pregnant Silence

(Written a while back. I’m now 38 weeks.)

The internal debate–do I write about myself or politics? Neither is easy but the former is more meaningful at the moment. Here we go. 

I’m pregnant. We didn’t do any big announcement this time around. Like every other time, we told our immediate family first then a few close friends. The news trickled beyond bit by bit. And the first time many heard of it was when they saw a picture on Facebook that a friend so graciously asked permission to post. After all, her pic would be the first public declaration which was no declaration at all. 

Compared to when I was pregnant with our now 22-month-old daughter, we’ve been sort of silent. 

But aren’t we happy?

Aside from the day I verified that I was pregnant via a standard prego test, I don’t remember being happy about this pregnancy until this last Monday. I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing. I do remember that the feeling came as a surprise. The words “I’ll be sixteen weeks tomorrow” danced in my head accompanied by internal and external smiles. And then as we went for our regular morning walk the following day, I said to Justin, “Sixteen weeks today.” There was a contentment in those words that I had yet to know this time around. 

And since then, I’ve realized that for almost 15 weeks I was very afraid, afraid of losing yet another baby. 

This is pregnancy number four. I know women with more losses than me. This is real life. And until you experience it for yourself, chances are high that you’ll never know to think it. And that’s not 100% your fault. Miscarriage has been swept under rugs for years, just ask your parents or aunts and uncles or grandparents. My unscientific guess is that there are at least 6 miscarriages between your birth and your grandparents’ union. At least 6. And there are also stories of trying, trying, trying…no prego. And there may be a still birth. And if not in your family, certainly in a family you know very well. 

But that’s enough of that. I’m not here to talk about your reality (even though I do want you to be fully informed…so ask your relatives). I’m here to talk about mine. 

On Friday, I had a checkup. The nurse used the doppler. Now, I’ve experienced this simple tool before, twice during this pregnancy. And both times have been a heartbeat finding expedition. It’s been awful. In those moments of uncertainty during the second hunt, I fully mapped out my options: curse God and never try again or “just roll” with it. The former felt more genuine. 

But on Friday, there wasn’t even time to process all that. The probe touched my belly and there she was, crisp as ever, 166 bpm, my little girl #2. 

It was a good morning. 

But pregnancy isn’t always good. I’m grateful to be able to carry this little girl. I’m hopeful that she’ll stay put full term. But pregnancy isn’t always good. And about a month ago, I finally owned up to my unrealistic expectations. I’ve wanted to be one of those happy pregnant women, the kind who glow all 40 weeks long, rub on their bellies like it’s gold, walk around so stately. I actually don’t know of any who are that happy but that’s the video in my head that’s been playing and it needs to stop. 

That plus miscarriage fear has kept me quieter than I’d ever imagine. And after I post this, I may go quiet again. I don’t write for sympathy–I write for attention. I want more of you to know this stuff so that you don’t step into parenthood blindly and so that you’re more understanding when someone’s been married for 5 years, no baby. Or when they have a 4yrold with no sibling on the way. Maybe they don’t want children or they’re done (those are options, too). Or maybe they’ve tried. And tried. 

I’m honestly not here to make you feel guilty about questions you’ve asked or assumptions you’ve made. That’s wasted energy on my end. We all say things we shouldn’t say and often from an absolutely loving heart. I’m here to inform. Please listen. 

Mushy Mummy Love

We heard her crying shortly after putting her to bed. At first we couldn’t quite understand what she was saying through her tears. Then I caught it. “Come wif me.” I volunteered to go.

Usually my husband goes (and usually it’s some terrible time of the night/morning). He’ll lay on the floor by her bed until she falls back to sleep. It doesn’t happen often but I’m definitely grateful for his willingness. Tonight, however, I felt up to facing the unknown. Will she sleep quickly? Is she hungry? Is she frightened? Will she want my comfort?

Some things you do in spite of the question marks. I ascended the stairs.

She had turned on the floor lamp and was sitting up in her bed, tears in her eyes. I sat by her bed and she came to me right away. She looked frightened and my overactive imagination immediately kicked into gear. Was someone lurking in the shadows? I tried to ask her if she was scared without saying “scared”–trust me, toddlers don’t need any additional words placed in their mouths especially at bed time. If it was her reality, she needed to speak it on her own.

However, when she’s very tired, she doesn’t talk much and when she does talk, it’s in a whisper. She added to this hard-to-understand package by pointing to areas of the room. I finally realized she was pointing to things she wanted…a stalling tactic. Children are smart and she was playing me.

We soon relocated to the chair. I held her on my lap, sang to her, talked to her about how she was as a little baby. “You would cry and cry sometimes and I wouldn’t know what was wrong.” I could feel her smile a little.

I finally turned off the lamp in hopes that the darkness would usher in some sleep. As much as I didn’t want her to fall asleep in my arms (coz she may wake when I put her in her bed), I was willing to risk it.

We’re those parents. We hardly ever rocked her to sleep when she was a baby. A friend’s experience encouraged us to get into the habit of simply placing her in her bassinet/crib, no rocking. Our mothers weren’t too excited about the method but it worked and we’ve raised a pretty good self-soother and bed-goer. Tonight wasn’t so simple, though, and I allowed my knees to move from side to side.

As her body rested against her little sister in my belly, I thought of the pregnancy journey. None of this has been easy. The other day, she saw the scars from a myomectomy three+ years ago and asked in her cute questioning voice, “Wha happened?” Without pause, I said, “It’s what I had to do to have you.” As soon as the words left my mouth, they hit my heart.

I’d do anything to have my little girl, even when she’s scared and awake on my lap long beyond her bedtime, requesting unnecessary snacks, lotion, hair clips, and more…because she’s here and she’s so easy to love.

 

Free Printable 2017 Calendar

I like to create things that I think are pretty. This will go onto my office wall. Feel free to add it to yours.

Basic goal:

  • To have a quick way to figure out the date (not meant as a planner)
  • To have a place to record a few details that I consider key

Included:

  • 1 page per month
  • a few lines after each for notes or month-specific goals…whatever you like
  • “Notes” page
  • “Brainstorms” page
  • “Possible Goals” page

2017-calendar

CLICK to print calendar

For personal use, only.

a healthy discontent 

I woke up shortly after 5am and my brain began to process, making it impossible to get back to sleep. It’s been a while since this has happened–reflecting on the day before, questioning my choices, frustrated by my silence, over analyzing my analysis. 

Perhaps what I’ve left unsaid is for the best. Perhaps not. Time will tell. Until it speaks, I can either continue to kick myself or figure out a way to move on. 

This is life. And it’s annoying. But I’d rather be in this questioning space than blindly acting as if all’s well, as if all is a neatly wrapped gift sitting perfectly under a tree. After all, it’s Christmas time and it’s easy to wrap up the year of crazy really quickly because we’re tired of crazy. So many have said they’re glad to see the year go–2016 has been uniquely rough. Give me peace. Give me stuff that makes sense. They’ve done due diligence, critiquing each surprising misstep, and they’re tired. We’re tired. 

I get it. But I don’t want to wave goodbye to the year without critiquing myself. 

  • Have I loved deeper? Of course! I have a toddler. Need I say more?
  • Have I led with a steadier hand? Of course! Again, I have a toddler. 

Okay. To be fair, I’m not sure how to appropriately assess my own contributions to life and health. There’s probably a tool on the Internet that some guru as compiled. It would help if I’d begun the year with a list of goals. (If I did, I’m not sure where that list is.)

Nevertheless, I do believe that…(in no particular order)

  • I’ve grown in my ability to speak to what I need. 
  • I’m more willing to appropriately confront. 
  • I have a clearer sense of how I function best and what that means for how I interact with others. 
  • I’m better able to put others first without feeling forced, negatively obligated. 
  • I’m not as prone to personalize others’ unrealistic expectations…or assume they exist.
  • I’ve learned more about how to equip while giving leadership away. 
  • I value my voice more without a sense or arrogance. 
  • I’m more accepting of my limits which enables me to focus more precisely on what matters. 
  • I have a healtheir appreciation for time–being on time, maximizing time, allowing for intentional down time. 

And there’s more, I’m sure. Much more. All’s not perfect. All’s not well. All isn’t calm. All is not bright. But I’m grateful for the time to think it through. 

I don’t fail tests

But then sometimes I do.

And yesterday I got official word that I have Gestational Diabetes. Glucose test = F.

Now I have to eat small meals and regulate how many grams of carbohydrates are in each. The plus side is that basic ice cream, though full of sugar, doesn’t have a load of carbs. AND, eating said ice cream at 9pm for my late night snack is actually alright.

No, I’m not gonna go crazy and ice cream my way through the rest of this pregnancy. But I believe in celebrating good news.

So along with ice cream, Justin went out last night and bought several other items that can serve as great snacks and more. I’m not a regular snacker. I was one of those raised to believe that snacking is bad, very bad. So the news of  having to eat smaller meals and snacks was a bit much. Almost half a day into this new regimen, we’re doing alright. But we weren’t yesterday, “we” being Me, Myself, and I…

As I drove home from my diabetes training (which I initially thought would be akin to going to driving school after having driven recklessly…which I’ve never had to do but view as a somewhat embarrassing slap on the wrist that you forget about in a few weeks), I gave God a piece of my mind. A thick piece. You see, I didn’t think I actually had diabetes, I just thought the 9pm cheesecake consumption did me in on test day and that when I told the diabetes team about it, they’d redo the test and find that I’m just fine. But no, the cheesecake actually didn’t have the power to do me in. A properly functioning system would have had the power to handle the cheesecake. In fact, plain cheesecake (like what I had) is another acceptable late night snack. But I digress.

The diabetes counselor was full of jokes, not ridiculous jokes but the sort of sarcasm that’s right up my alley and helped take the edge off our meeting. I didn’t cry though I thought I would.

Like I said before, I don’t fail tests. And this isn’t the first time I’ve taken the glucose test. I had concluded that my success was due to my healthier eating habits, healthier than the other women who’d also taken the test and had failed while I passed. Twice. I figured it wasn’t an overnight thing, that it must be about longterm food consumption choices. And I was, obviously, making wiser choices. Go me! (side eye)

Something’s different this time around. My body isn’t processing as it used to or I’m eating differently or both.

And the tears welled up while talking with the dietician (who also, thankfully, has a persona I jive with). As she showcased possible meal combos with her plastic food items and as I wrote out my primary goal (carb counting) for this new phase of life, I almost said, “Don’t mind me if I have a moment.” But there was no eye leakage. There was, however, a crazy amount of emotion running through my blood. And when I talked to God later on, I held nothing back, including the tears.

As I type, there are 39 minutes left on my timer, 39 minutes before I have to prick my hand and test my blood. It’s a breeze compared to injecting Lovenox–trust me. But every reminder that I’m imperfect kinda gets to me from time to time. Some of you have embraced your imperfect selves. I’m not on your level. This is now another thing I have to surrender daily to the Lord who loves me enough to patiently walk through this with me.

I wrestle with surrender–the 100% kind. I can do 75% quite well. That remaining 25% is all me, all drive, all self-reliance. And that percentage seems to increase with age. The surrender is, so often, more theory than practice.

But wonder of wonders! I’ve been processing this very thing lately in very intentional ways. During a recent retreat time, I wrote a ton about it, where it comes from and more. There’s something golden about a “can do” attitude until it starts to confuse and break you. Independence is beautiful until it acts more like “I don’t need any help” and then morphs into “I need so much help but have no idea where to begin.” Eventually, it becomes, “I can’t” and “I quit” and just like I don’t fail tests, I don’t quit.

I did quit a summer job many years ago. The boss was impossible, the work load ridiculous. And then I quit another that same summer. Again, ridiculous work, the closest I’ve come to sweat shop labor. But I didn’t quit trying to work and soon found a job that I liked and that liked me. I don’t do lazy. I couldn’t allow myself to sit around my parents’ house watching TV all summer long.

I tell my 2-year-old who’s so often on the brink of quitting (oh toddlers!), “We always try.” I mean it.

So here I am, now 7 minutes away from my third glucose test of the day. I’ve accepted this particular failure. I’ve wrestled (and will continue to wrestle) with surrender. And I won’t quit.

 

(I share all this because it’s cathartic and because, just maybe, one of you needs some encouragement found in these words. I’m honestly not fetching for diabetes tips. I’m thankful for the health team God’s provided which includes a husband who knows how to shop for groceries and cook good food. Amen. And an OB whose eyes glisten with mischief. We’ll be alright.)