30 Week Pregnancy Update

A few days ago I had a good friend ask me, “So how are you doing, aside from your pregnancy?”  The question seemed surprisingly impossible to answer.  It seems like pregnancy affects every aspect of my life right now: my physical state, level of energy, activities I participate in, my relationships, my job situation, my schedule, etc.  Any way that I might answer the question, “How are you doing?” would have something to do with my pregnancy.  If I say, “I’m good!”  it is in large part because I am so excited to have a daughter and am enjoying this phase of eager anticipation: getting baby shower gifts, setting up the nursery, learning a lot of new things, connecting with God over the issue of parenthood, having Jordan read to baby girl every night and dreaming about this next season with our little one.  If I say, “I’m tired” it’s because growing this little person is very exhausting and I feel tired 24/7.  If I say “I’m feeling insecure” it’s because I’ve honestly struggled with my ever-growing body or because I get nervous feeling like I don’t know how to be a parent. If I say, “I’m lonely” it’s because I wish I had more peer friends in this current life stage.  I have really great friends who are single,  some that are married but not thinking kids yet, or others who are married with kids but they’re a little bit older than us and typically have toddlers.  The later category has been especially helpful in preparing for this next stage of life and have given very valuable wisdom and advice!  But often I wish I had a peer friend who was pregnant that I could just call and vent and relate to with all these crazy changes happening inside (and outside) of me.  I will say that this has given me a new appreciation for social networks and blogs, as I have re-connected to old friends who are in this phase too!  

For most of my pregnancy I haven’t experienced extreme emotions (even my husband attests to this), but lately they’ve been creeping up on me.  It still hasn’t been as bad as I had expected, but some days go something like this: one minute, I’m convinced that my life is falling apart and everything is so hard and I’m not going to survive the day.  The next minute, I’m wrapping my arms around my husband’s neck exclaiming that I am happier than I’ve ever been, life is great, and we are just so blessed!  One minute I’m happy as a clam and telling my husband how wonderful he is.  The next minute I’m snapping at him for no good reason, because I just feel so dang irritable that all it takes is for someone to breathe beside me and I cringe.

Another interesting thing has been anxiety.  Pre-pregnancy I would not have considered myself a worry-wart, but lately I worry all the time.  Talk about maternal instincts kicking in, mine have just straight knocked the sanity door down and taken over completely!  I think about safety all the time.  In the past few months I’ve started having driving anxiety, something I have never experienced before.  I literally pray for safety every time I get in the car, and don’t do well if a trip is longer than 25 minutes.  My heart rate increases, and I feel so scared and unsafe on the road, mostly because I don’t trust other drivers.  My poor husband, I have become quite the annoying passenger seat driver and sometimes yell or tense up just because we’re going through a yellow light or something silly.

Something else that I wonder if other parent’s-to-be experience is comparison.  It’s been really difficult for me not to look at other’s in this life phase and compare our situation to theirs.  It has been particularly hard for me that so many around us in this life phase have bought a house before having a baby.  Part of it is my own covetousness, I am jealous.  I always thought we would have bought a house before baby, and I want a house so badly!  But part of me just feels like we didn’t do things right or our situation is somehow inferior since we live in an apartment.  We don’t really have a choice right now, but who says that you have to live in a house to have a baby anyway?  I see how easy it is to get wrapped up in the “American Dream.”  The world around us revolves around “working your way up” until everything just keeps getting bigger and better.  This is not what I want to value or how I want to live my life.  But I’ll admit it is hard when we visit other couple’s with babies in their cute little (or not so little) houses, with their nice SUVs and we just bought our family car used from a wealthy family who was selling it for their son who just graduated from college.  His college car is our family car.  And that’s ok!  But sometimes I believe it’s not, and I get discouraged.

In other news, our daughter is now about 3 lbs and the size of a cabbage!  I’d like to think my growing appetite is due to her growing body, right? 🙂  I haven’t had any weird cravings, and don’t have cravings too often.  Just Chipotle last week, Japanese this weekend, and cereal every single day all day long.  Seriously, there is no food I want more often than cereal! I want it for breakfast, for 2nd breakfast, afternoon snack, and night time snack!  As a matter of fact, I’m about to go get a bowl of  Special K with berries as soon as I finish this post. Good thing I’ve been couponing lately and not paying much for cereal… Oh and speaking of “growing,” my weekly pregnancy update said: “Your feet might be growing and you might find yourself needing to buy a bigger size in shoes.”  Which I actually did have to do last week, by the way…

Tantrums are for Toddlers?

So remember the little meltdown of SJ’s that I mentioned in my blog post last week?  Apparently that wasn’t a one time deal. For those of you just now checking in, SJ is the adorable 17 month old I nanny for part-time.  Thankfully most of the time he is in a great mood, and is a lot of fun to be with.  He just had a couple of little meltdowns this morning, and according to his parents it’s been happening a bit more in general.  Today SJ’s amazing mom sent me this link: http://www.babycenter.com/0_tantrums_11569.bc?scid=mbtw_post17m_3w:1208&pe=MlV5ZUwzNXwyMDExMDgxNQ..  explaining that this is about the time that toddlers start having temper tantrums.  I was thankful for some advice on what to do when these little episodes erupt, but also thankful that with SJ (at least so far), they are less like temper tantrums and more like mini little meltdowns that don’t last very long.  He doesn’t really seem angry, just super frustrated or upset.

But as I was reading the article I started thinking that these tantrums or “mini meltdowns” are not just for toddlers.  As a matter of fact, I’m not sure we ever really outgrow them, they just start to look different.  Like the day in college when I had just had it with some stuff going on in my life and all I wanted to do was come home to a quiet room in the Sigma Kappa house and be by myself.  When I walked in to both of my roommates (who I love to death and are dear friends) listening to music and laughing, I just lost it and threw my books across the room.  They were pretty stunned for a minute, but were full of grace and picked up my books for me as I burst into tears…  When they asked what was wrong I couldn’t help but yell, “I just need some space to myself!” Or the time a couple of years ago when I had the worst day, following the worst week, in the worst month of ministry. I ended up (picture this) sitting outside in the freezing cold by myself in a camping chair, with a huge hooded sweatshirt, glass of wine in one hand, cigar in the other, ipod headphones in, singing (out loud for all to hear) “Dreams Last For So Long” by Jewel… true story.  Add in all the other random times where I’ve thrown something and shouted an overly dramatic statement (like “I HATE everything about this stupid apartment!”), slam the refrigerator door because dinner is not turning out as I had planned, or sob in bed yelling at my husband because he just doesn’t understand how frustrating it is that I don’t know how I want to decorate the baby nursery (come on, I can blame pregnancy hormones on that one), and you start to see that maybe we all have tantrums?  Or maybe it’s just me and toddlers…  but I’m pretty sure it’s not (I see your facebook status!) Even my husband (sorry to out you babe) has been known to get frustrated and make an overly dramatic statement, but don’t tell anyone ;-).

The article above says that for toddlers part of the problem is that they are starting to understand more but cannot communicate verbally and it’s frustrating to them, so they act out.  Perhaps it is true for all of us in certain situations that we feel we cannot express what is going on inside of us and therefore act out similarly.  Or maybe it just shows that we’re all selfish 0r have limits and capacities that should not be exceeded.  Either way, it gives me more compassion for SJ and when he yells and cries when I try to get him dressed or put on his sleep sack I can just say, “I hear ya buddy!”  Maybe I’ll teach him the Jewel Lyrics one day… we’ll wait until he’s 21 to introduce the wine and cigar 😉

Amnesia of the Now

Yesterday was just one of those days.  You know what I’m talking about.  In case you don’t, here’s a glimpse: In the first 10 minutes of nannying, the toilet got clogged and I couldn’t find a plunger anywhere.  One of the cats got out (they’re not supposed to go outside) and I couldn’t find her.  Precious SJ who is usually just happy as can be was having an off day and had 2 big meltdowns yelling for his mom (we think he might be getting more teeth in).  I thought a pool day would make things better.  As I was getting SJ out of his car seat, I basically shut the door on his head. 😦 Poor thing, I felt so awful.  It took about 30 minutes to get both of us ready for the pool (swimsuits, diaper, sunscreen, pool items, etc) and after walking in the miserable 100 degree heat down to the pool, we found out it was closed for the day.  So we headed back home in the heat, and went through another 20 minute ordeal of getting back into our normal gear. SJ decided to let me know he was done with his lunch by throwing his plate on the floor; and because it just wasn’t his day (or mine apparently), he got abnormally upset when I would tell him, “No.”  I thought not taking my allergy medicine the night before was a good idea so I wouldn’t be as groggy in the morning, but it was a terrible idea leading to swollen puffy eyes, a runny nose, and scratchy throat all day.  Coming home later that day, I wanted to be sweet and bring my husband a fountain drink he was craving.  Well as soon as I set it down when I got home, it got knocked over and spilled all over the carpet.  And then the “Check Engine” light came on in the car on our way to dinner…

Have you ever had a day like that?  

Isn’t it crazy how all these little things in life can add up and make us question our sanity and threaten our entire life joy?

Each of the instances listed above in and of themselves are not really that bad if you think about it.  But pile them together, and I had a drama queen attitude where I wasn’t sure I would make it through the day.  I let my mind spiral out of rational control, wondering how we’re going to afford all these baby and life expenses, how I’m going to be a mom, and sunk into a pity party.

My husband often references something our friend Amy Webber once called “Amnesia of the Now.”  It’s where we get so caught up in the moment that we forget what we have ahead of us.  We forget the big picture of life.   It’s so true, isn’t it?  Sometimes I just get so caught up in the little annoyances and unexpected inconveniences that I forget what is really important in life.  I forget who I am and whose I am.

This really struck me today when reading, “Abide in Christ” by Andrew Murray:

“Sometimes there are hours and days of deep earnestness, and even of blessed experience of the grace of God.  But how little is needed to mar their peace, to bring a cloud over the soul! And then, how their faith is shaken!  All efforts to regain their standing appear utterly fruitless, and neither solemn vows, nor watching and prayer, avail to restore them to the peace they for awhile had tasted.  Could they but understand how just their own efforts are the cause of their failure, because it is God alone who can establish us in Christ Jesus.”

That’s a truth bomb right there.  He goes on to say:

“Faith is the ceasing from all nature’s efforts, and all other dependence; faith is confessed helplessness casting itself upon God’s promise, and claiming its fulfilment, faith is the putting ourselves quietly into God’s hands for Him to do His work.”

And further:

“Believer, you cannot but admit that such a life of trust must be a most blessed one.  You say, perhaps, that there are times when you do, with your whole heart, consent to this way of living, and do wholly abandon the care of your inner life to your Father.  But somehow it does not last.  You forget again; and instead of beginning each morning with the joyous transference of all the needs and cares of your spiritual life to the Father’s charge, you again feel anxious, burdened, and helpless.  Is it not, perhaps, my brother, because you have not committed to the Father’s care this matter of daily remembering to renew your entire surrender?”

If you’re interested in further thoughts on this, I am going to shamelessly plug my husband’s sermon from this past Sunday at Grace Community Church.  He preached about Joy in Christ and the crucifixion.  You can listen to it here: http://www.gracecommunitync.org/category/sermons/

Here’s to finding joy in the midst of chaos! A joy that can only come from above.


Mommy Lessons from SJ

This past week, I’ve started nannying for adorable 17-month old SJ (Samuel John) Clendenin.  It’s a great way to make a little extra money before I start staying home full-time, help a friend out, and get some practice before the big “game” of having a little one myself.  SJ is a lot of fun and in just the past few days, I feel like I’ve already learned quite a bit to help prepare me for baby girl Maroon.   Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • There are so many little things that you don’t think to think about until you have a baby with you.  Example: I took SJ to the mall today and as soon as I parked the car I realized that I was facing a mini dilemma.  SJ is in his car seat in the back seat, the stroller is in the trunk, and it is 100 degrees outside.  Do I: (A) turn the car off, get SJ out of his car seat, and then get the stroller out of the trunk- risking him running off in the parking lot while I’m struggling with the stroller?  (B) Turn the car off, get the stroller out first, and then get SJ out of his car leaving him roasting in the car without the AC on?  or (C) Leave the on with the AC, get the stroller out, and then get SJ out of his car seat risking him somehow hitting a “lock” button and me being locked out of the car?…. I’ve never thought about the tricky little things like that…
  • It is a wonderful thing for public places to have handicapped or automatic-open doors! I was getting a little bit scared when I saw the doors that open by “pulling” out only, thinking about how I was going to manage that with the stroller.
  • I thought I sweat a lot in August on my own; that is nothing compared to adding a sweaty baby, stroller, diaper bag, purse, and lifting in and out of a car seat.
  • Speaking of diaper bag and purse, not only do you have a lot of extra stuff to bring with you when you have a little one for them, but I found I have to bring more for myself as well for some reason.  I don’t just need a diaper bag, but a bigger purse too!
  • When having to use a public restroom, I will always have to use or wait for the bigger stall that a stroller can fit in, which can still be tricky to manuever.
  • A play place in the mall for kids= great idea. The open shoe cubby that all the little ones can reach= not a good idea.  How are you supposed to explain to a 17 month old that all these new shoes that are within reach are a “no-no”?
  • Always read the rules at things like a play place.  Apparently I was not supposed to have food in there.  I’m sure all the mom’s loved me when I heard several little ones around me asking them why “that lady” can have a snack, but they can’t…oops.
  • Hand sanitizer is amazing and must be kept closely at all times.
  • Having mommy friends will be essential to survival and sanity.  Playing mommy is fun, but I’m sure it can be isolating at times and it would be great to have other friends in the same phase of life to share it with and do things together with the kids.
  • Fold up strollers aren’t as easy as they look.  Sure the umbrella stroller was super easy to open, but I’m thankful the car has a big trunk since there is currently a full size, unfolded stroller in it right now…
  • I always wondered how mom’s with little ones find time to work out.  Having little ones is a work out!
  • Never pass up opportunities to teach and train little ones, no matter how young they are.  At only 17 months old, SJ is learning his letters and his colors!  He can point out the letter “M,” “B,” “O,” “W,” “S” and make the sounds that they make and if I ask him where the yellow, green, red or blue tractors are in his book he can show me!  I’ve been surprised by how much he picks up on.
  • When little ones smile, laugh, or cuddle it completely melts my heart and pulls on the “I want to be a mommy” strings in my heart.  SJ isn’t even my child, and I turn into a pile of mush whenever he does these things! I’m in trouble when baby girl gets here, she’s going to have me wrapped around her tiny little finger…

So there you have it! Thank you SJ for coaching me this week! 🙂 I’m sure I have many more things to learn along the way…