35 (and a half) week Pregnancy Update

Tomorrow is exactly 1 month away from our due date, I cannot believe it!  It is so close…  Jordan and I both feel ready and not ready at the same time.  We are so ready to meet our baby girl and finally hold her in our arms (and I’m pretty sure we’re both ready for me to not be pregnant anymore), but we also don’t feel entirely ready for all the ways that our lives are about to change! I mean, it’s really happening…  and these next 4ish weeks, we won’t get back for the next 18-20+ years!  That reality has really been sinking into my head over this past week.  This is the last time in a long time that my schedule will be my own, and my days can revolve around myself or Jordan.  I’m about to take on a 24/hr service job, and it’s not going to be easy!  But I know that as soon as I see her little face looking up at me, I will melt completely and every lost morning of sleeping in, less frequent coffee or lunch dates with friends, and the end of flexible finances will be worth it.

As I’ve been doing things like popping tylenol and administering icy hot patches for hip, knee and back pain, twisting and turning at night unable to sleep running through endless lists in my head of everything I want to get done before her arrival, and washing all the baby clothes or starting to pack for the hospital, I have found myself feeling less social and more contemplative.  I love to just sit in the nursery glider with my hands on my stomach feeling Wiggleworm move around and just breathe with a smile on my face as I think about how wonderfully surreal it will be to have her there with me soon.  “Nesting” they call it.  That is definitely the phase I’m in and I am starting to try to scale down my schedule (I’ve somehow been busy the past couple of weeks) so that I can just be in this place and enjoy it.  I want to soak up any possible rest, me time, and quality time with my husband that I can in these last few weeks.

As a lover of fashion (or baby girl clothes!), something else I have spent a lot of time thinking about over these past few weeks is what outfit we will bring Wiggleworm home from the hospital in :).  I’ve narrowed it down to 2 options.  One Halloween themed for if she is born on or before her due date (October 30th), or one super cute Target temptation I couldn’t resist for if she is born after her due date.

Halloween outfit

Mommy's lil' pumpkin 🙂

if she's born after Oct. 31

Finally, I will leave you all with another new development I’ve been experiencing lately: what people refer to as “Baby Brain.” I’ve learned it is not a myth!  I will find myself going upstairs to get something, only to reach the top (out of breath) to realize I have completely forgotten what in the heck I went up there for.  Or the other day I went grocery shopping and bought multiples of certain items because I had coupons that I had to buy more than 1 item to use, only to get home and realize that I forgot to use any of my coupons and then had 5 boxes of cereal, 3 boxes of who knows what, etc. and no money saved to show for it.  I wanted to kick myself.  But these instances are nothing compared to the “Baby Brain” moment of the century I had this week: on Tuesday afternoon, I walked out the door and headed to my car feeling like I was forgetting something.  Before I got to my car I thought, “Oh duh! I forgot my book!”  So I went back into the apartment to grab my book, looked in the mirror, and realized in horror that my book was not the only thing I had forgotten… I wasn’t wearing any pants!  Yes you read that right, I had forgotten to put pants on!  So I had walked out to my car in nothing but a shirt with my purse and keys while several neighbors stood around greeting their kids who had just run home from the bus stop.  Not to mention, they definitely saw me come back out the 2nd time with pants on so I’m sure they had a nice laugh to themselves for the rest of the day!
Lord help me…

Love Refined by Flames

So I recently submitted an entry for an essay contest in the magazine “Real Simple” on how I first learned what love really is.  While I don’t claim to be the best writer and I’m not sure there is much of a chance that I will win, there is a $3,000 prize, which would be VERY helpful for our lives, so I figured it was worth a shot and I figured I would share it with you :).  Enjoy!

 

Love Refined by flames

He meets her in the most unexpected way.  There is something about her…her eyes…her smile maybe?  The mystery he feels in her presence?  Or maybe it is the feeling that lingers on his lips from their passionate kiss before he could catch her name.  He has to find her; he will do anything to find her.  When he meets her again on the bus he thinks to himself, “This must be fate.”  Even though all odds are against them, and divine forces are trying to separate them, they must be together, will be together, whatever it takes.

That is my translation of a movie I recently watched, a movie that held my attention and gripped my heart in an old, familiar way.  This is how I used to picture love: an initial meeting that leads to an obsession; an urgency to seek out that person no matter the cost; a “love at first sight” mentality.  Isn’t romance to feel so drawn to someone, so much chemistry and attraction, butterflies in your stomach, “sparks,” and a connection that leaves you feeling faint? The idea is enough to leave you intoxicated. 

I’ve had that feeling before.  I was attending a church service with a friend and could not help notice a very attractive man sitting behind us.  As the service was coming to an end I happened to spill coffee all over the floor.  Attractive man went and got paper towels and cleaned it up for me, which is how we ended up meeting.  He asked if I had lunch plans, to which I responded, “Umm no but if I did they would be cancelled now!” Ok, so that is only how I responded in my head, not out loud, but nevertheless we ended up eating lunch together.  Later that day he asked for my number. I was so infatuated by the intense attraction and the “romantic” way we met that as months went by of spending time with attractive man, I failed to acknowledge that we were not a good match for each other and I never quite felt I could be myself around him. I had this beautiful future planned out in my head of how he was going to propose and how we would spend our lives traveling the world together while never losing the intense attraction we felt. But, eventually, reality set in, my dreams came crashing down and we went our separate ways.

Throughout my life I have often sought relationships like this and, honestly, have had quite a few of them!  They never worked out in the long run.

The first time I truly understood the meaning of love came through my relationship with my actual future husband.  Jordan and I were friends for a few years with no romantic interest.  Friends of mine pointed out that we were a great match but I ignored it because I didn’t feel that “spark.” One day a close friend pointed out something significant to me.  She said, “You know, I’ve never heard you talk about a guy the way you talk about your friend Jordan.  When he is happy or something good happens to him, you are happy and cannot wait to tell me about it.  When something hard happens to him, you are upset and tell me about that as well.  You have a lot of compassion for this guy.” I had never realized it before, but she was right – I had a lot of compassion for him.

As I became more aware of this in my interactions with him, I also became aware of a growing attraction.  On November 11th 2008 we went on our first date, a year later we were engaged, and seven months after that I married my best friend. Our entire relationship taught me, for the first time in my life, what love really is.

How?  Because the rest was all smiles and roses as we lived happily ever after?  Yeah… roses covered in ash perhaps.  Only one month into our marriage we had an apartment fire that left us homeless, living in hotels for 5 weeks.  I remember the elated feeling at the altar when we said our vows.  My heart was racing and tears rolled down my cheeks as I vowed, “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” The depths of meaning in that phrase reached further than I could have imagined and we tasted only a small drop of them in that first month.  Eating microwave meals and takeout together in a small confined space with very few personal belongings while wearing one of five outfits that were not currently covered in smoke was hardly what I had in mind when I said, “I do.” 

But it was through this non-ideal living situation that I learned to put myself aside and think for the man I married.  It was a trying and lonely time and each of us were faced with a choice- we could sulk in self-misery and frustration while waiting for the other person to make us feel “happy” or we could learn to think for the other person: What are they going through? How can I make this a good experience for them and show them that they are deeply loved even when we have nothing and don’t know what is going to happen?  So Jordan and I looked for creative ways to make the other person feel at “home”.  One night, although Jordan was tired from long days and nights at work and wanted to crash, he took me out to a really nice dinner and I bought a new black dress to wear.  Another night it would have been much easier to grab take out, but when Jordan came “home” from work I decided to make as nice a dinner as we could manage in that space- spaghetti with a bottle of wine (although we had to ask the front desk for a cork screw to open it!).  We had to make it an adventure to help each other get through the experience with laughter.  We tried to have fun together by taking advantage of the hotel pool, hot tub, buffet breakfast and complimentary glass of wine at happy hour.

Through this adventure with Jordan I have learned what real love is.  Real love is not about a strong feeling, butterflies, intense attraction, desire, or even a sexy meeting.  These things will likely accompany real love at times, but they are not defining characteristics.  Real love is not about me and how I feel.  It is when a strange transaction takes place where I exchange acting only for my own pleasure with acting for the good of another.  Real love is not just about how the relationship makes me feel.  It is also about how I can care for another person- how can I empower them and help them rise to their fullest, to be the best possible version of themselves? I have to step outside of my selfishness and genuinely want the best for that person. Real love kills the mindset of “What are my dreams and does this person fit with them or get in the way?” It creates a new perspective: “What are this person’s dreams and how can I help to make them come true?” A strange phenomenon began to take place as this perspective started to change my behavior.  The more I would think for my husband instead of myself, the more I would feel…fulfilled. 

Real love gives healing names to the object of its delight.  For a majority of our lives, we search for purpose, validation and love.  Along the way, we collect false names for ourselves.  When things do not go as we expected, someone lets us down, or tragedy strikes we accumulate names like “failure,” “ugly,” “disappointment,” “unwanted.”  We carry these names with us in deep places of our hearts that affect how we see ourselves whether we realize it or not.  Real love has the power to give someone healing names.  A woman who thinks she is plain or has an awkward body has a new name for herself when her lover calls her “beautiful” or “lovely.”  The man who believes that he is a failure has a new name for himself when his lover calls him “successful” or “brilliant.” Real love occupies itself with the work of healing broken identity in the life of the one it has chosen. 

Jordan and I are now expecting our first child – a daughter!  Even through my pregnancy I have begun experiencing a whole new level of self-giving love.  Although she isn’t born yet, I cannot wait to meet her, get to know her hopes and dreams and help her to pursue them.  I look forward to walking through life with her, showing and teaching her real love – the love that her father, my husband, taught me.

 

33 Week Pregnancy Update

Can you believe that we are only about 6.5 weeks away from baby girl’s arrival?!  Jordan and I are so excited.  We just finished the nursery (minus the super cute block letters for the wall that spell her name- cannot debut those until she’s here!), took our first birthing class, and are compiling several lists (“to do before baby,” “to read this month,” “to pack for hospital,” “to contact when we go into labor,” etc.)

Baby Girl's Nursery

The most common question I get asked is, “How are you feeling?”  To answer that question for you, I thought I’d attach a funny cartoon that pretty much nails it on the head! 🙂

We actually loved our first birthing class last weekend. They taught us the biology of childbirth (which was fascinating and just left us amazed at the human body and our Creator!); the stages of labor; pain management (massages, pain easing positions, etc); we watched some videos, met some other fun couples and practiced the pain management stuff together. We left feeling more informed, confident, and excited.  This coming weekend we will learn about inductions, interventions and c-sections and I’m actually looking forward to it!

  In class we went over different hypothetical scenarios where we had to determine whether or not the woman was in labor. In one of the scenarios the woman in labor had trouble sleeping and was feeling restless.  We had also learned that “irrational behaviors” like cleaning an oven at night or washing all the baby clothes might signal labor.  So of course last night I thought I might be in labor because I was having trouble sleeping, was feeling restless and considered getting out of bed at 1am to work on the budget :).   Here we go, I guess I’d better buckle up for constantly wondering if little things mean I am in labor!

On an entirely different note, you will be encouraged to hear that I’ve been feeling much better about my pregnant body! Maybe it’s the new found deep respect I have for my body once I learned all that it is preparing to do, or else my stomach is just getting so big that I’m no longer noticing the other growing trouble areas (arms, thighs, etc)!  Either way, I’m thankful that I can look in the mirror with appreciation rather than disgust :).

The Secret to Strength and Success

Let me begin this post by creating a mental image of myself this week for you: I’m sitting on a couch surrounded by pillows with a heating pad on my back and my feet up on an ottoman.  There is a box of tissues to my right, a bag of cough drops to my left, a messy table beside me full of tylenol, tums, prescription meds, water, prenatal vitamins, etc. and I have a stain on my shirt from where I spilled my dinner.  Mind you, this is my 2nd stained shirt since I spilled tomato soup on the white tank top I was wearing earlier… I look like I’m flipping you off because I jammed my middle finger in the dresser drawer this morning (which makes typing a bit tricky), and if I stuck my tongue out at you (not quite sure why I’d do that…) it would be side-ways since my jaw is currently locked.

Sounds attractive, huh?  Just keep that image in mind as I proceed…

Yesterday I was watching The View (I have a thing for morning television these days, since I don’t have a thing for walking or moving…) and they had actress Dana Delany on as a guest.  If you don’t know who that is, she was on Desperate Housewives and now stars in her own show “Body of Proof.”  I’ve never seen it and I’m guessing you haven’t either (I’ve never heard anyone talk about watching it), so I’ve included a picture of her to help.  Anyway, the chatty annoying hosts of The View asked Dana Delany about her “independent” views on life since she is not married and does not have any kids.  She responded by saying that she doesn’t think she could do her job and be a wife and mom; that it would be virtually impossible to balance both lives and would not be fair to the kids.  She felt she had to choose one or the other, and she chose her job.  And I have to admit, I felt it was refreshing to hear.  Not that she chose work over family for her life, but that she actually acknowledged the difficulty of doing both and the need to make hard choices in the matter.  That she didn’t wear a plastic smile and act like she could do it all.

It was very different from a magazine article I once read about Kelly Rippa. The article was written in an upbeat, peppy tone about how Kelly Rippa is basically Superwoman and does it all! She works out every single morning and maintains the perfect body, then heads to work where she co-hosts “Regis and Kelly” on national television, comes home where she is super-mom and super-wife, attends charity events, fundraisers, etc and always wears a smile, never stressed.  The article applauds her ability to not have to give any of these things up and promotes the message that as a woman, you should be able to be equally career driven as you are family driven, you should be able to do it all!

As I was watching my 23498203rd episode in a “Brothers & Sisters” netflix marathon today (ok, maybe episode 2 or 3…or 5), the mother (Sally Field) is boasting about her oldest daughter, how she is president of her company, has 3 kids, and balances it all so well!

Earlier today I realized that women from my mother’s generation or older seem to get irritated when I talk about the difficulty of pregnancy weight gain or don’t seem to understand and relate, whereas women in my generation who are either pregnant or have recently been pregnant readily identify with the struggle of gaining weight and watching their bodies change during pregnancy (hang in there with me, these thoughts are all connected I swear!)  I started thinking that perhaps this is due to the constant cultural pressure we feel today as women to be able to do it all.  To be a good wife, a great mom, AND a thriving career woman; to be pregnant and grow a child while still having the same perfect body, just with the added cute little bump bulging forward under your trendy maternity clothes (PS: Beyonce, I don’t care about your “bikini body bump” and would prefer not to see pictures of it posted everywhere.  You will hit 3rd trimester at some point… show me pictures then!)

Now hear me out, I don’t have anything against women working or pursuing careers while having a family, and contrary to my attitude in most of these posts I don’t hate skinny women (most days).  I’m just saying we need a break from the lies that we should be able to manage all of these things in a perfectly balanced life! It’s exhausting, and it’s not healthy.  It leaves women striving hard, starving themselves, stretching their limits, letting their marriages suffer, getting zero sleep, and not having healthy hobbies or community in their lives.  And we feel like failures if we can only focus on 1 (or even 2 or 3) things at a time.

My goal for this week, now that I’m not working, was to be super house wife.  I had plans to get our apartment nice and clean and reorganized; to go to the gym everyday (now that our apartment complex has FINALLY opened the gym!) and make amazing meals that would be on the table ready for my husband when he got home from work.  Well if you still have the image of me from above in your head, you know things didn’t quite work out that way…   The gym? I’m lucky to make the walk from the living room to the bathroom.  My husband has been so wonderful.  On top of working long hours this week, he has made several grocery trips (sometimes running back out to get an extra box of tissues, etc.), has been cooking dinner, and helping me function in simple little tasks I cannot do right now.  So much for housewife of the week, huh?  I feel like a lump on a log, and it has been hard for me to accept the fact that I have limitations and need help. Yesterday someone that I follow on twitter quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9, instructing believers to boast in their weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on us and be shown through us.  Someone else tweeted, “Don’t waste your thorn”  referring to Paul in the New Testament when he experienced what he called the “thorn in my flesh.”  Then when I turned to my daily reading in “Abide in Christ” the chapter was titled, “Strength in Weakness.”  Hmm… maybe God is trying to tell me something?  Here is a rich quote from that chapter:

The Christian often tries to forget his weakness: God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it: God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it.  The Christian mourns over his weakness: Christ teaches His servant to say, “I take pleasure in infirmities; most gladly will I glory in my infirmities.” The Christian thinks his weakness his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God: God tells us that is is the secret to strength and success.

Feminism, while in support of not oppressing women, has also sold us this idea that we are superhuman and can do all things.  In a time where everything is about teaching children self-esteem and where we strive for the American Dream, we believe we should always be able to pull ourselves up “by our bootstraps,” that happiness is found in achievement and success is measured in numbers and results rather than faithfulness.  Self actualization is more highly valued than service, and we want instant results for everything.  Such thinking leads us into a deception so deep that we don’t see our desperation for a Savior, and we kill ourselves slowly along the way.  I fear for my female peers (and myself) that we’re going to burn ourselves out at a young age trying to wear 2309283 different hats and mimic the Kelly Rippa image.

In scripture we see that we are finite beings, with limitations,  imperfections and needs.  Thankfully we have a loving God who was perfect for us in our place, who loves us in our weakest moments, and gives us His strength to show the world.

So here’s to a week when I can barely make it off the couch or wash my own hair!  I raise my glass (mug) of hot apple cider to the truth that it’s ok to be a mess.  I don’t have to be perfect, I am loved by God and delighted in by Him every moment, even these :).

My Favorite things When I’m Sick

Since I’ve been sick for the past 4 days (and showing no signs of getting better by tomorrow) and will also be laid up in bed for awhile with my little back injury, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite things for sick days!  Here are a few of mine:

  • An amazing, sweet husband who takes good care of me 🙂
  • Not having a job, so I have the ability to stay home & rest without using sick days, or putting anyone in a hard situation of having to find a replacement for me
  • Tomato soup & grilled cheese
  • Ice cream
  • TV show marathons (I’ve recently been watching back to back episode of “Brothers & Sisters” courtesy of Netflix)
  • Movies
  • Hot drinks.  Current favorites: hot chocolate or hot apple cider, which makes me excited for fall 🙂
  • Heating pads
  • Naps
  • A good book
  • Magazines
  • Blogs to follow… although I’m needing some people to post new stuff!
  • Lot’s of pillows arranged comfortably around me from every angle
  • Big fluffy comforters
  • Medicine. Strong medicine…
  • My library card, especially when someone sweet (in my case, Jordan) is willing to go there for me to check out books and movies
  • My daughter moving & kicking around, which makes me smile even when I’m in a ton of pain
  • of course, my Kangaroo ROO free refill cup!  Although as of today they started charging $.50…  bummer.
What are some of your favorite things when you are sick? I’ll try to keep a few in my back pocket for when I’m a mommy taking care of my sick little one in the future!