Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Ultrasound & a Birthday Party With Baby's Gender Reveal

Saturday we went for the long awaited ultrasound, a little peek into what God has been quietly doing inside me for 20 weeks. Andrew took the day off and the doctor was willing to come in on the weekend in order to make it work for both of us. I chose a naturopathic doctor, who does the ultrasound right in their natural childbirth clinic and can diagnose immediately. A natural childbirth clinic is a great choice for people who are not quite ready to embrace the wonderful comfort and empowerment of a full blown homebirth, but want to take a step towards trusting their bodies and the birth process. (ok, ok, no more plugs for homebirth, onto the story) The ultrasound went picture perfect, a true blessing. The doctor spoke to me as we went along and told me what he was looking for and why, and then, praise the Lord, that everything looked great. He was kind and even talked to the baby as if they were face to face. I had him write the gender on a piece of paper which I planned to reveal at Eliza's 2 year old birthday party the next day. He folded it up and put a paper clip on it. I was on such a high, considering the health of the baby, that it didn't even phase me to be holding the answer to the gender question in an unsecured piece of paper.
Saturday was a full schedule with running up to Portland, juggling the babysitter back home, running back for lunch, off to a basketball game, a quick swim, then off to Church and a very late dinner. Phew!! I didn't want to lose my ultrasound pictures and, of course, the precious gender paper, so I put them on the bar in plain sight, since we'd be gone all day, then I ran off to return the sitter home while Andrew fed the kids and got them ready for the next part of the day. When I returned, not thirty minutes later, I immediately saw the storm surrounding Josiah.

"What is wrong with you?"

"I hate when the girls ruin things for me!"

"What happened?"

"Mia opened up the ultrasound paper and told us what we're having."

Noooooooooo!!! My perfectly crafted plan! The party tomorrow! How will the girls, who couldn't keep a secret in our family, not tell the world before our party? You know, I have very persuasive friends who can read me like a book and I will see them at Church! How can I keep a secret? No, no no!!! This was not the plan people!

Later that night when I generically mentioned this situation to a man at our church who has four children he said, "Yep! That's life with a big family, it never goes as planned." He's right you know, and actually I'm the better for it because life doesn't really go as planned anyway, but we can't help but think it does, at least until we've been a hit a few times. With several kiddos you're just reminded of this fact daily, hourly sometimes!

So I said to my obviously disappointed son, "I'm guessing we're getting a girl based on the frown on your face."

"No, I just didn't want to find out that way."

No? Then it must be a... "Aaaaaaggghhh!!! It's a boy!!!" I shrieked with sudden understanding and delight. That was how I found out that our newest bundle of joy would be a little man. It's been nearly 10 years and my initial emotional response holds true even now, "Do I remember how to raise a baby boy?" Andrew assures me that the only difference is you've got to blow in the diaper first, then wait a few seconds before the change. Got it.

Josiah's comment was fitting, "I still can't believe it's a boy. I thought you forgot how to make them." Oh, God is good, His timing is perfect, but I was beginning to have that same thought myself!

So, I lied my way through basketball and then, *gulp* church. Nice. I tried to be tricky with my answers so as to avoid an actual lie while still not admitting that I did know the gender, but I'm pretty sure I lied to at least a few. Sorry about that folks, it must be the pregnancy hormones that made me do it. :)

Since we were celebrating Eliza's birthday, my big reveal plan was to have her choose between a blue ribboned stuffed animal and a pink ribboned stuffed animal, as I did with Sierra when I was pregnant with Eliza. I'd open the note, whisper in her ear which animal to go get, and it'd be this fun reveal that she would be in charge of. This was a less attractive option now because I'm just not a good faker, and I would have to pretend to read the note or admit up front that we already knew, yada yada yada. (As I'm typing now, I'm thinking really it wasn't that big of a deal and I should have just gone with it, but pregnant brains don't always function normally and, again, I think I'll claim the hormones made me abandon ship.) So, I decided to make Eliza's birthday cake white and add blue food coloring, then we'd cut into it for the big reveal. No blue food coloring left. DOH! I found some blue m-n-m's and figured some of their shells would rub off enough to leave a blue tinge but it didn't spread through the cake and wasn't really enough to show much so I went with plan... what are we on now... C. I put a blue candle and a pink candle on the cake, perfect since Eliza is 2. I told everyone the candle that I lit first was the gender of the baby. So we enthusiastically sang "Happy Birthday" to Eliza and, as she began to get overwhelmed and shy, I lit the blue candle which erupted a large cheer of celebration and sent her into full blown crying and the inability to actually blow the candles out. Thankfully she has older siblings that know the drill and they jumped in to help her. Phew!!
I confessed to everyone the events of Saturday and we all had a good chuckle over it. There were a few there that were in on the news ahead of time as well. Let's just say that a couple of us in this family have our weak spots and that next time (hey, I'm not ruling it out) I'll make sure to put the note in a sealed envelope and I think I'll keep it in my bra!!

***Happy birthday Eliza! I love you like crazy!! I'm so glad we were finally healthy and able to celebrate your day. Just think, next year this time your little brother will probably be crawling all over.***

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Follow Through... Kind of

For years I've wanted to eliminate television from my life. In my heart, I'd prefer to live life rather than to just watch... stuff. But that stuff is just so interesting. It's bad enough with great drama, humor that makes me forget the stress of the day and thrilling mysteries, then you've got "reality" tv. Ugh, I would never realize the dream. But last year, around May, I just hit my limit. We had narrowed down to just a few shows but I was a slave to them. Survivor ruled Thursday nights. LOST was a must see. I began to get sucked into The Good Wife. There were others, CSI (which really, I didn't even like), Dateline, Bones, and more. Each one kept me up later than I wanted to be, making me tired and mildly dysfunctional the next day. I would be disappointed that the time Andrew and I had together was spent engrossed in entertainment rather than something more enriching. And, I was frustrated by all the extra messages that were being sent to my mind and heart through the shows themselves and commercials. As the kids were getting older, I didn't want them to see much of what was on after 8pm and, since they were still up, I was aware of a need for a choice. So, as the shows ended their seasons one by one I just stopped turning the TV back on. Eventually, there was no evening TV and only occasionally some PBS shows for the kids.

I noticed some things happening right away. Oddly I would go to bed when I was tired, not when the show ended. Who knew!! I finished a few books that were sitting on my shelf for too long. And, I replaced TV with... dum da da dum... internet time, specifically Faceb**k. What? Isn't this supposed to be some glorious post about how I'm out there living life with no TV? Sorry to fail you, I'm human you know. I love the connection that Faceb**k allows me to have without having to worry that it's too late at night to call or that I may have to cut you off just in the best part of our conversation because someone or something needs me. It's a quick peek into other people's lives when I need a break from my own and it's an outlet for my witty thoughts and comments which might be lost on my younger crowd. (ok I might be stretching a bit on that last one.) But really there is an addiction factor to it, too.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked: who can know it?

Oh, I'm not saying Faceb**k, the internet or even television are "wicked" necessarily. I absolutely do not want to argue the value, or lack there of, of any of it. This is simply about a calling, if you will, for me to minimize these outside sources of input in order to hear God more clearly. My point is the natural drift that occurs in my life because of a heart that is untrustworthy... wicked. The temptation to fill the time I've opened up with more and more... stuff. (I'm like that with clutter, too, but that's a whole other post... or two!!). You may know the verses in the Bible that go something like this, what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do, I do it. The passage ends like this in the NIV:

Romans 7:21-25
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who
will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature
a slave to the law of sin.

In this stage of my life, with the kids at the ages they are, and Andrew's work schedule as it is, I've found my quiet time with God is at night. In the past I have fought and fought trying to fit in time to read His Word and have moments of worship and prayer, constantly battling interruptions or other draws for my attention. The time was there all along, I was just filling it up with... stuff. Do you see the war waging there? I want the time up yet I keep filling it!

I think the critical turning point came when I stopped trying to turn away from something, TV time to start with, and began desiring time with God even more. I have longed for time with Him, I have prayed that I would long for it even more, enough so that priorities would align themselves appropriately. Slowly, time with the Lord, reading with the kids, even quietness, are becoming more attractive than the alternatives that were so hard to deny in the past. I honestly don't miss television, which I have not been able to say in the past. In fact, recently our connection to the converter box was broken which means the ability to watch our four stations is now not an option. I have to chuckle, it happened at the perfect time! No big deal, I'm not missing anything.

And so, I continue on this pilgrimage, winning some, losing some... losing lots, but I feel pretty good about the TV deal, like I actually followed through on something... kind of. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trust Me

Praise the Lord we're expecting another baby early this summer. Specifically when, you ask? Aha, I learned my lesson with dear little Eliza who came 13 days after her ESTIMATED due date. Let's go ahead and keep it a general time frame. It's just easier that way. *snicker, snicker* Hopefully after we finish up school for the year but before the public schools are let out (just because I know they are letting out later and later these days!) we'll be holding the newest Nordstrom.

Next week is our ultrasound, but before we get to that I want to share the journey to this point. Over the past year I have felt God pressing in on my heart such a strong desire for a large family. I ran into large families at every turn: swimming lessons, field trips, art classes, grocery shopping, travelling, Craigslist exchanges, everywhere! This gave me the opportunity to ask the mothers all kinds of questions. Despite my desire for more children, I couldn't help but realize my own inadequacies and failures and feared that pursing a larger family would only make those things worse. Did they ever feel the same way? How did they manage life with so many children? What obstacles do they face? Did they ever feel "done" with having kids? Why did they chose to pursue a big family?

Deep down I think my general feeling was that I should get my life all together first and then...

Have you been there? Whatever it is, don't we want to get all our ducks in a row first. "Look, Lord, see my great plan!! See how I've got this all laid out just right. I'm ready now! Lord?" But the testimonies I heard from so many of these moms is that you are given the strength, ability, and grace when you get there, and not before. Could that be true? Do the ducks actually line up behind you? (HA! That's kind of funny in a big family, lots of ducklings kind of way!)

One night Andrew and I were discussing children, my age (just hit 35, the magic "old mom" age where you are at higher risk for everything "bad"), our stage (crazy schedules, at the time zero money coming in), just life in general and whether or not we should make permanent decisions regarding future children. Choosing to have a baby is just as permanent a decision as choosing to have surgery to prevent pregnancy. I laid out several great arguments as to why we should be done, most of them listed above, and a tiny little mention of my desire for more children. My dear hubby disregarded all previous arguments and agreed that he too wanted more kids. Fear seized my heart immediately as all the negative "what ifs" came charging into my heart pointing accusing fingers at me in judgement saying, "What are you thinking?". But in the next moment I heard an almost audible voice say, "Trust Me." That was all, but it was clear and I was instantly at peace. I knew that if I didn't get pregnant that was God's way of saying, "I'm in control, I know you and you are done." I also knew that if I did get pregnant He was leading me down that path and I could trust Him not to leave me.

Three months later I knew I was pregnant and confirmed it with the pee stick test. Two lines. Life is changing. So happy!!

The timing of this pregnancy, though, was the first test before me. Our first baby girl, Faith Petra Joy, had an extra chromosome and the way her body formed was deemed "incompatible with life". This proved to be true as she was born still at 42 weeks. At the time, the likelihood of this happening was less than 1%. Wow, such great odds and still we got hit. This baby is due nearly the same time that Faith was and now, at the "dreaded" 35 years old, these odds have not gotten better for us (I refuse to actually look them up, it's like adding fear fuel to the fire I'm trying to keep extinguished). I couldn't help but ponder if this time of the year was just cursed for us and we'd need to go through a repeat of 12 years ago. I also wondered if God was sort of redeeming the time and giving us a baby in a month where I'm always reminded of how my arms ached for our first child. In a way though, June was sacred, just for Faith, and I was a little disappointed that this new one might overshadow her time since she's not here to say, "Hey! This is my birthday, too!!" Then I remembered, "Trust Me." All the "spaghetti brain" thoughts had to stop. I'd know when we got there if the baby would live, if the baby would be healthy, and even when the baby's birth date would fall.

The next testing time was rather on going for a few months. I had an extended time of spotting, enough that I feared a miscarriage was trying to happen. Frequent trips to the bathroom were a time for Satan to prick my heart with fear and whisper, "Somethings wrong!" Because I am with a homebirth midwife the approach to these matters is a lot more responsive rather than reactive. I could have run in and gotten early ultrasounds and looked for a heart beat but I chose to wait. There were no symptoms of any other problems and I decided that "Trust Me" meant through it all. This pregnancy would either continue or it wouldn't and we'd know soon enough. As the spotting continued, the midwife recommended bedrest and red raspberry leaf tea in case the placenta was just needing to firm up it's attachment to the uterus and my activity level was causing the bleeding. This helped but was hard with 4 homeschool kiddos. Finally as I neared the second trimester it seemed that all spotting was over and we actually heard the little heartbeat. *sigh* This either meant that an unhealthy baby had fought through a miscarriage again or that everything was fine and we'd proceed with a completely healthy pregnancy. "Trust Me."

The third testing time was a hard one. Right at 12 weeks I had met a woman whose estimated due date was the exact same date as mine. Crazy! I even slipped and told her excitedly that we shared a due date. Just a few days later a mutual friend called and said that this woman's baby had passed away. This hit hard as I realized the same could be true of my child at any time. I drove right over to the midwife's house and asked if we could try for a heartbeat again. She welcomed me in and we heard that magical sound of life right away. I celebrated for myself and our blessing but I grieved for the dear family whose baby would not be arriving as planned.

Almost four weeks later, more spotting, bright red, plenty of it. Crap. This is it. The midwife came right over and told me to give her a minute to find the heart beat. I'm not sure if I even breathed and then... there it was. Life. The quick, sweet, little heart, beating away. With no other symptoms I again opted out of an ultrasound. Also, for the first time I opted out of a quadscreen, the test that looks for chromosome abnormalities among other things. I always depended on that test to give me a heads up as we headed to the ultrasound just a few weeks later. This time I realized whatever the test says won't change a thing so I may as well wait for the ultrasound. Also there is a high percentage of false positives and who needs that stress!! "Trust Me."

At each time of spotting I googled like crazy trying to make sure I was aware of any other symptoms, dying to predict the future really. It was interesting that each time I followed a rabbit trail of symptoms and outcomes there were two options that consistently popped up: pending miscarriage or twins. Those two potential realities of either no baby or two babies struck me as a choice. I could worry and fret over a possible loss or I could have my breath taken away in awe of a possible double blessing. I decided to wander down the "what if" road of twins. It's a lot more fun. Obviously in the middle is one healthy baby, but who takes the middle road!

I have no idea what next weekend's ultrasound will reveal but we'll get a little peek into what God has been doing inside me. It will be a time to know more, but still not all. "Trust Me." And so I do, with great hope and expectation. I am trusting you Lord, what are you doing?
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff