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?