The Worth in the Waiting

Yesterday, December 30th, I turned 30 years old.

Throughout this pregnancy I have often thought about how awesome it would be if this Baby Boy were to be born on my birthday! Not only because that would be the best birthday gift ever, but because it was on that very day a year ago when we were not able to hear our second baby’s heartbeat.

That was an awful day.

I remember going out to dinner with my husband that night, both of us somber and unsure of what to say to each other. I glanced at the menu and thought to myself “I could probably order wine if I wanted to, because our baby probably isn’t alive” and in that moment, it felt so bitter. Jordan kept trying to reassure me, “They said that it’s not unusual not to hear the heartbeat. Everything is probably fine!” But deep down I just had this boulder of dread. It was hard to have hope. Sadly, it was not a story that ended with hope.

And that was how I spent my birthday last year.

So for the past few weeks, I have kind of been thinking that this Baby Boy will come on my birthday. How redemptive and beautiful would that be? On a day when I had experienced fear of death and sorrow last year, I would welcome life and experience joy – marking my birthday with a great memory instead of a painful one!

At 4:30am, I was woken up by a contraction. I dozed on and off for the next couple of hours, being woken up a few more times by contractions. Later in the morning, they started getting stronger, longer, and were about 8-9 minutes apart. “This is the day!” I told myself and my husband. I just knew it!

All day long the contractions continued and were getting very intense, to the point where I could not talk through them. Jordan and I dreamed excitedly about how perfect the timing would be. It would redeem my birthday! It would redeem the end of a really hard year! We would bring in the new year with our son in our arms! Our out of town family will be able to come visit, since they have the rest of the week off from work! Riley is already with my parents! And, of course – the tax deduction that we would get for having a December baby instead of January ūüėČ (not to mention, we reached our premium on our insurance this year so a December baby would save us a ton of money)!

I was excited and Jordan got everything ready. He cleaned and disinfected our whole place, we were all packed, he ran to the store to get a few last minute things, and I took a shower and got ready.

Then later that evening, probably around 7pm, the contractions started slowing down and getting less intense, until they just stopped all together. I was disappointed, but still held on to the hope that things could pick back up and we could still have a baby by midnight.

When I woke up today, I just cried. I was so disappointed. I had not had any more contractions (still haven’t now, in the afternoon), and we made plans to meet my parents to bring Riley back home.

I am now 5 days overdue, and the waiting is HARD. Riley was evicted from the womb (or induced, you might say) so I guess I just have late babies. But knowing that doesn’t make it easier.

Before we left, Jordan and I spent some time reading Hebrews 11 together, and I was really struck by this fact: waiting is a HUGE theme in scripture.

Moses had to wait on Pharaoh to let God’s people go (which was quite the drawn out process) and then had to wait 40 years for the Promised Land – which he didn’t even get to see. Abraham had to wait (until a very old age) for a son. Noah had to wait for the flood as he built the ark (being constantly ridiculed) and then he had to wait 40 days for it to clear. Jacob had to wait 7 years to marry Rachel. Israel had to wait 400+ years for her promised Messiah. Think of all of the people who were born during that time who faithfully followed God, while God remained silent. Can you imagine faithfully following a God whose movement you had never seen or experienced in your own life, based only on history and the Promise of His Word? Many Israelites during that time spent their whole lives waiting, yet never seeing. The apostles were constantly and eagerly waiting for the second coming of Christ.

And that is only to mention a few.

I’m sure waiting has never been easy on humanity, but it is certainly no help to us that we live in a time and culture where we have constant opportunities for instant gratification. We aren’t very practiced in waiting for things. Fast food. Microwaves. High speed wireless. Google. Smart phones. So much of what we want and need is right at our fingertips. So when life draws us into a season of waiting, it’s no surprise that it is such a struggle for us.

But here’s the thing – the waiting is not meaningless. There is worth in the waiting. There would not be so many examples of waiting in scripture, were this not so. I believe that it is actually in the waiting where we see God work the most. It is in waiting that we see ourselves being shaped, our character tested and refined. It is in the waiting that we are forced to face what we really believe about God and must ask ourselves if we trust Him. It is in the waiting that we often learn some of our life’s greatest lessons. And perhaps most significantly – it is in the waiting that we cry out to God with the most surrender. We realize how little control we have, and how much we need him. In the waiting we recognize our humanity and His divinity, and we long for His glory. We long for His healing, His redemption, His restoration. We long for Him.

It always baffles me when people say, “Just enjoy these last days of pregnancy!” Oh, really? Which parts of it should I be enjoying, exactly? The heartburn? The insomnia? The back and nerve pain? The contractions? The pelvic pain? The nausea? I get what they’re saying – these are my last days before having to navigate the chaos of life with more kids, and I am trying my best to soak up some of the things that I will no longer be able to do once I have a newborn around. But it is difficult to enjoy much when I am (literally) groaning with longing for my son to come. It is not in the ability to find some enjoyment at the end of this pregnancy that I find my hope – my hope is in the fact that my son IS indeed coming (no matter how much I feel like this is not true at times). It is his arrival that will take away the pregnancy pains, and will restore me with joy! Any of the few things I might “enjoy” now are going to be overshadowed when I hold our little man in my arms.

In the same way, our world is not enjoying the wait. Our world is a mess. There is so much pain and suffering and evil. It is groaning in longing for our Savior’s return. Sure there may be things that, by the grace of God, we are able to enjoy in the world right now. But they all pale in comparison to the enjoyment that will be found in the presence of Christ when He returns! Only His coming can replace the pain with joy and satisfy our longing. And just as sure as I will not be pregnant forever (I will not be pregnant forever, I will not be pregnant forever, I will not be pregnant forever… must keep telling myself), Christ IS indeed coming. He will return. Our hope is not to find enjoyment in the world, but is in the Promise of His return.

In the meantime, as we wait – there is something for us. There are riches to be found. I believe we may not always see them. We can’t always know exactly what God is doing in us, but we can trust that He is always at work and the waiting always has worth.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
-Romans 8:22-25

And this my friends, is what I am trying to remind myself of today as I wait. As I wait, I have the opportunity to experience only the slightest glimpse into what it means that Christ gave his body over to suffering for our sake. As my body hurts, I have the opportunity to think of Him. And this physical pain – it is in order to bring about life! Just as Christ’s body was crushed to bring us life. As I worry about the extra cost it will be to our wallet for Baby Boy to be born in January instead of December, I think about the extravagant cost that God the Father paid to make me His daughter.

Whatever waiting periods we find ourselves in now or in the new year or sometime in the future – I pray that we remember that He is there with us. And He is enlarging us in some way.

Happy New Year!

KM.

10 Tips for Surviving the End of Pregnancy

end of pregnancyYesterday I found myself typing “Surviving the End of Pregnancy” into the Google search bar. ¬†I clicked on several different links – blog posts, articles from pregnancy or parenting websites, etc – and found them largely unhelpful. ¬†Most of the advice I found fell along the lines of “Keep yourself busy!” “Deep clean your house.” “Prepare a bunch of meals to stick in the freezer so that you have meals for after the baby arrives.” “Start new projects.” ¬†Whoever these women are that are writing these lists, they must have had very different final weeks of pregnancy than I am experiencing. ¬†I would imagine these things would actually be very helpful, if you were feeling somewhat mobile. ¬†As a matter of fact, I think they would be helpful things for me to do – were I not in so much pain these days. But they just weren’t the “survival tools” I was hoping to find in my search.

So for women who experience the end of the pregnancy more in the pain/can’t do much category, I figured¬†I would compile my own list of ways to “survive” these looooong and final weeks!

1.¬†Don’t worry about looking cute.
Up until the last couple of weeks, I actually enjoyed trying to look cute during this pregnancy. ¬†I liked treating my bump like an accessory and was having a lot of fun with the box of cute, fall maternity clothes that a good friend let me borrow! ¬†But now? ¬†Now that is way too much work, my friends. ¬†Now is the time for a daily uniform – which for me means yoga pants or leggings (only one or the other. ¬†No exception), some sort of athletic top (you know, just to trick people into thinking I’m being athletic), perhaps a puffy vest if it’s cold, and many days I end up throwing on a baseball cap so I don’t have to worry with my hair. ¬†Also while we’re on the topic of looking cute – can we just talk about the fact that it is HARD to get socks and boots on when you’re 9 months pregnant? ¬†My husband finds it comical. ¬†I consider it my workout.

2. Don’t worry about¬†cooking.
If you are normally the one who cooks the meals in your home, you have two options for how to avoid this now:
(a) Recruit your significant other to start doing the cooking for your family.  If guiding them through the process of cooking is almost just as much work for you as doing the cooking (ahem), then:
(b) Talk to your significant other about shifting the monthly budget a little bit to add more money to the food category (for eating out, takeout, pre-made, and super easy meals).  Keep your eye out for coupons/groupons/living social deals to local restaurants.
If he is not on board with either of these, then just throw out the most unappealing options that you feel up for making (for example: the cups of Ramen noodles you have had in your pantry for 3 years in case of an emergency… canned beans that you can toss together with some rice… Greek yogurt mixed with that Gluten Free rice granola… pb&j sandwiches) and he is sure to reconsider ;).

Or it’s possible that you have much more money than us and you can just eat out whenever or hire a personal chef in which case, DO THAT.

Here is an example of my meal plan for this week:

pregnant meal plan

3. Don’t worry about trying to be super healthy anymore. As a matter of fact, stuff your face with chocolate.
Up until the past couple of weeks, I had been doing a pretty good job of trying to be healthy through this pregnancy. ¬†I stayed active, tried to eat well, and kept an eye on the scale to keep myself on track. ¬†I would budget my eating – meaning that if I got on the scale and was doing great with where my weight gain was at, I would eat that milkshake I had been craving. ¬†But if/when I started gaining a little more than I should, I would hold off more on cravings and try to add a few more salads or something. ¬†I was just determined not to gain 55 lbs like I did in my first pregnancy. ¬†But once you get this far – I give you (and myself) permission to count ANY movement as your workout (like, getting out of bed, for instance). ¬†I give you permission to not worry much about what you eat. ¬†As long as I don’t have to make it, I will eat it. ¬†And that does not normally lend itself to the healthiest of meals. ¬†Who cares. ¬†Soon the baby will be here, and you can start focusing on eating well again. ¬†I also give you permission to eat your feelings. ¬†I actually highly recommend stuffing your face with chocolate. ¬†I have found Trader Joe’s dark chocolate caramel with black sea salt candy bars VERY helpful in managing my feelings lately! ¬†Or Aldi’s European dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt. ¬†At least for me, eating is one of the very few ways of experiencing any sort of pleasure right now, so I am going to embrace and enjoy it.

If you are one of those pregnant women who eats super clean throughout her pregnancy and is working out until you go into labor – way to go! ¬†I am proud of you, I really am. ¬†I just may not want to talk to you right now ;). ¬†Don’t take it personally.

4. Go out to lunch with girl friends.
This may not be as possible if you have other kids, but I tell you – it has been one of the biggest highlights in my life lately when I have been able to do it! ¬†I have a 3 year old daughter so it’s not always feasible, but it makes it that much sweeter when Jordan can stay with Riley and allows me to go catch up with good friends over food (that I don’t have to make!)

5. See people, but don’t feel like you need to entertain.
I admit, I have been in total hibernation/anti-social mode lately. ¬†I usually just want to hole up at home and forget that the outside world exists. ¬†And with how uncomfortable and grumpy I’ve been, I always assume I would not be great company anyway. ¬†But thankfully my husband has more of a social itch, so he has been pushing a little more for us to see friends. ¬†I have found that whenever we do, it actually turns out to be a helpful and welcome distraction! A couple of nights ago, we invited some friends to come join us for our dinner at Med Deli. ¬†The next day, a couple of friends came over and brought us breakfast and we made a huge pot of salted caramel coffee (are you sensing the salt theme here?). ¬†Both times were rich and watered my grumpy soul. ¬†At least a little bit ;).

6. Avoid big stores & errands (when possible).
You may be different from me in this way. ¬†Perhaps going to Target is helpful for you to survive these final weeks. ¬†But considering the whole “it hurts to stand or walk” phase I’m in, paired with the fact that I am super indecisive and get overwhelmed easily in big stores (I am hyper sensitive to things like lights, sounds, displays, etc) – it is pretty much one of my least favorite things in the world right now. ¬†Especially this time of year! ¬†I feel so bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the holiday stuff. ¬†I find myself grabbing all sorts of things that weren’t on my list and then talking myself out of it, which means I have to walk back to the other side of the store to return it and by then I am sweating and hurting but as I’m waiting in line I second guess myself again, so I walk back to the other end of the store to pick it up again only to decide “No. ¬†I do not need this thing” and I start peeling off layers of clothing because I’m sweating and feel like I am going to pass out which makes me start to cry. ¬† <– and that run-on sentence is pretty much what it feels like for me when I go to big stores like Target these days. ¬†Whew. So, it’s good to avoid that, when possible.

7.  REST and take it easy.  Sleep whenever you can.
I know that this kind of advice is always easier said than done. ¬†Resting is not so simple when you have other kids, or work full time, or have a long running to-do list. ¬†That’s why I’m saying “whenever you can.” ¬†When opportunities present themselves, don’t feel bad choosing rest over productivity. ¬†Don’t feel bad fighting for rest. I’m thankful that Riley still naps (most days), and usually try to lie down and take a nap during that time as well. ¬†If nearby friends or family offer to help so you can rest, take them up on it!

8. Fill your mind with Humor. 
I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine. ¬†Whether you’re depressed or anxious or uncomfortable – anything challenging in life can be helped with a little bit of laughter. ¬†At the end of pregnancy, I have found this to be one of the most helpful survival tools. ¬†I recommend the book¬†“The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine. Anything with or by Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. ¬†I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s book “Yes, Please” and I especially enjoyed the chapters on pregnancy and childbirth :). ¬†Watch funny shows. Search funny GIFS to shows you watch. Read funny articles about pregnancy – like this one that my husband sent me (I apologize for some of the language). ¬†It’s also fun if you have a couple of girl friend’s you can text about how you just ate a second doughnut, or peed your pants a little in Barnes & Noble, or that you can’t let your husband sit on the couch because he ate garlic chips and you can’t handle the smell (Hi Michal, Justina and Megan!).

9. Allow yourself to get grumpy about stupid things. Or meaningful things.
If you’re feeling as grumpy as I am, it is helpful to have an outlet for your frustration. ¬†Songs with stupid lyrics on the radio. ¬†TV show characters who are being dumb. ¬†Marketing ploys, especially around the holidays. ¬†The cart at the grocery store that has the stuck wheel. ¬†It feels good to take out your grumpiness on these things. ¬†You can also see this time as a good opportunity to get angry about things that matter – oppression, poverty, injustice, racism, sex trafficking. ¬†We can pour our pregnant “grumpymones” into things that matter.

grumpy pregnant

10. Meditate on Romans 8:22-25 and John 16:21-23
Finally, this has been the most helpful survival tool for me lately. ¬†Turning to God’s word and being reminded that this is a temporary pain that ultimately births so much joy. ¬†It helps me to understand the gospel more deeply. ¬†It helps me to reflect on and experience the way that our world is broken and the excruciating pains of it. ¬†It points me to the longing for the joy of the coming of Christ! ¬†It leaves me aching deeply for the joy that will one day erase all of the pain. ¬† Especially during this time of year, there is an opportunity to¬†press into this painful time of pregnancy, letting it lead me to a richer experience and understanding of Advent. ¬†This pain is not without (good) purpose, and neither is our pain in this broken and fallen world. ¬†I want my longing for the arrival of my son to pull me deeper into my longing for God’s Son.

 

Fellow pregnant ladies, is there anything else you would add?

 

KM.

*Disclaimer: I just want to take a second to say that I understand what an incredible gift and privilege it is to go through this pain, since there is a baby. ¬†I also understand that there are FAR worse things in life, things that people actually have to survive. ¬†I use the term “survive” here to be intentionally dramatic for the purpose of humor. ¬†I humbly realize that this is not a situation that requires real life survival. ¬†I don’t want to condone complaining about things that are actually real blessings or aren’t real- life hard. And we have things going on in our life right now that are far harder than this, real life heartbreaking things. ¬†This is just my attempt to laugh at and with myself, and offer a breath of fresh air to other women in the same boat! ¬†These last weeks in pregnancy can be very challenging and it’s helpful to find camaraderie.