Losing in a Princess Pageant

This past weekend, I took Riley to a Princess event where little girls could meet “Cinderella,” “Ariel,” and “Aurora.” They were able to get their pictures taken with them, and were able to sing and dance with them while they did little performances. It was basically Riley’s 3 year old dream come true :).

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After 2 hours of the meet & greet and performances, they had a “Little Princess Pageant” where the little girls at the event would take turns walking down a red carpet holding the hand of one of the Disney princesses then they would wave and twirl on stage. There would be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner. I had not planned on letting Riley compete in this pageant, but when she saw the crowns that they were giving away as the prizes and I realized that there were only 4 other little girls there anyway (so her chances of winning something were pretty high), I gave in and let her do it.

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I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that I was surprised when Riley didn’t place (I’m such a typical parent, aren’t I? I forget that not everyone is as captivated with my child as I am!). When Riley realized this, she collapsed into my arms in heavy tears. Let me tell you: my mamma heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I’m not sure my heart had ever hurt so badly for my daughter. I felt her pain, and it took every ounce of willpower for me to hold back my own tears as I comforted her. That moment itself crushed me, but what also consumed my heart was the realization that this is only the beginning. I am so not ready for this part of parenting! The part where I have to watch my kids get rejected or heartbroken.  I can handle dirty diapers.  I can’t handle the heartbreak.    

Granted, I don’t think Riley really understood what had happened. In her little 3 year old world, I think she was actually just upset that she didn’t get a crown. I don’t think she understood that she had lost and other girls had won. She’s too young to compare herself to other girls and wonder what she is lacking or wonder if she is good enough. But I know that is coming eventually, and I can barely stand the thought of it.

As we drove home, Riley said “I’m so sorry, Mama.” Just when I had thought that every part of my heart had already been shattered, I realized there was still more that shattered right then. I quickly consoled her, telling her that I love her so much and that she didn’t need to apologize for anything! I love her just as she is, no matter what. I don’t need her to win any silly pageant or to get a special Princess crown. I couldn’t bear the thought of her thinking that she needed to apologize to me! I want more than anything for Riley to know just how much I love her and delight in her. I want her to know that I am completely smitten with her. I am captivated by her, regardless of how she performs in life or whether or not she succeeds in her endeavors. She will always be enough for me, exactly how she is. I don’t want a single part of her to change or be like anybody else. Even if she fails at every single thing she attempts in life, it doesn’t change the way I see her or love her for even an iota of a second. My heart will always be enthralled by her.

And then it hit me. There was a deeper lesson here for me. God was whispering, “This is how I feel about you, my daughter. I am enthralled by you. Completely captivated, just the way you are. I don’t want you to change or to be anybody else. Regardless of how you perform or if you succeed, you are enough. Even if you fail at every single thing you attempt in life, it doesn’t change the way I see you or love you for a second.”

And I was floored. I know this is true, but I don’t think I ever really understood how it could be true, until I have experienced this as a parent with a daughter. I am God’s daughter, and He wants me to be me. He doesn’t compare me to anyone else. And yet over and over again I say to him, “I’m so sorry” for who I am  – just like Riley said to me. As if He is disappointed in me – something I feel and fear often.

Before I had Riley, I was on staff with a College Campus Ministry with Greek (fraternity and sorority) students for 4 years. There was someone else on staff before I got there, and under his leadership he ministry had over 100 students involved in it. Then he left staff, and I got his job. Over my 4 years as the staff, I watched the ministry dwindle and dwindle, until it finally died during my last year. I cannot tell you how much shame I feel from that. I have carried so much baggage from the experience, feeling like a complete failure. I have often internalized it as something being wrong with me. “If only I were different.” “If only I was more like that person on staff, and less like myself.” “Who I am is a detriment.” “My personality isn’t good for anything. I am a liability.”

As if who I am is an accident. As if life is a Princess pageant I’m competing in, but not getting placed. As if there are other princesses that are receiving the crowns of God’s approval, while I watch from the sidelines.

It’s not easy to translate the way I feel about Riley to my understanding of God’s relationship to me.  But I know that He wants me to.  I cannot fathom God enjoying me and delighting in me even half as much as I do Riley, and yet He does even MORE.  He is capable of perfect love, and He lavishes it on me generously. 

I wonder how different my future might be if I believe this and live freely in this truth, rather than being constantly crippled by my fear of failure and belief that who I am is not good enough.  I wonder how much my heart might soar and thrive or how much more I might instinctively serve and love others when I stop living like I’m competing in a silly princess pageant.  I already have His approval.  Christ is the crown that guarantees my acceptance.  I don’t need to live threatened by others.   When others succeed, it doesn’t mean anything about me. Even harder to swallow is the fact that when I fail, THAT doesn’t mean anything about who I am, ultimately.  I am His.  And that is never going to change. 

KM.

Joseph Copeland Maroon: The Birth Story

On Friday, January 2nd, I had a 41 week ultrasound and OB appointment scheduled for 9am. It was an appointment that I refused to put on the calendar until a few days beforehand, because I really didn’t think I would make it to that point. But sure enough, at 8:30am on January 2nd, Jordan and I were dropping Riley off at a friend’s house so that we could make it to the appointment on time.

I was completely exhausted going into that appointment. I hadn’t slept at all the night before. And when I say I hadn’t slept – I mean, not even for 10 minutes. It was an all-nighter. If you thought that sleep deprivation was reserved for the newborn phase, you would be wrong. At least in my case! I have a much harder time sleeping at the end of pregnancy than I do with a newborn. In this case, it was due to a new lovely pregnancy symptom that I had never experienced before – severe itching all over my body at night. It was so strange and so miserable. Apparently it is not uncommon in pregnancy – but how weird is that? It felt like torture, all night tossing and turning itching all over as if I had poison ivy everywhere with no relief.

All that to say, I was more than ready for this baby to come! The last weeks of my pregnancy had me “itching” in a hypothetical sense for my son to come, but the literal itching brought it to a whole new level. I read online that once you have the baby, the itching would stop and I just kept repeating, “I need this baby to come!!!!”

So the night before our appointment, I told Jordan that my ideal scenario would be that we would go to the appointment and the doctor would be like, “Hey you’re actually in labor!” and that would just clarify things for us easily (I had been having contractions all week but they were always inconsistent) and we could just go to the hospital that day!

Now, as a dreamer/optimist, I am a pro at coming up with “ideal scenarios” in almost every situation. Which usually sets me up for a lot of disappointment. But in this case, my ideal scenario actually happened!

At my appointment, the OB (Dr. Miller) told me that I was 2-3 cm dilated, and 60% effaced. I thought, “Ok.. so it’s not labor, but it’s progress!” She said that she would put money on guessing that I would have this baby in the next day or two. I walked away from that appointment feeling at least slightly hopeful.

When we arrived at our friend’s house to pick Riley up, my water broke. Thankfully, this friend is a nurse. I explained to her what was happening and she said, “Yea… I’m pretty sure that’s your water. Call your doctor before you leave here!” So I called and they asked if I could come back to the office right then. I did and sure enough it was my water that was rupturing! Dr. Miller said, “Well just go home and eat a good lunch, make sure your stuff is packed up, and when your contractions start, head over to the hospital! I will call Cheryl, the midwife who is there today, and tell her to expect you.” I was so excited! Here we go!

We called our parents excitedly on the drive home and made arrangements for them to care for Riley. My parents arrived shortly after lunch, and Jordan’s parents would get there around 5:30 to relieve my parents. As the day went on though, contractions weren’t starting. I think we were all feeling antsy. I went on a really long (painful) walk and tried to take a nap, but I couldn’t sleep. I started feeling really stressed and pressured. No one was putting any pressure on me, but internally I just felt like everyone was waiting on me and my body just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. So I asked Jordan to send everyone out for awhile, so I could have some quiet to focus. That actually helped, and my contractions started right before my in-laws arrived. However, they were not consistent and were not very painful. At 7pm, the status was the same, but Jordan and I decided to go on to the hospital anyway. I called Cheryl (the midwife) on the way over and updated her on the status of things. She instructed that we hold off on coming to the hospital until the contractions became painful and I was in active labor.

At first I was really disappointed. I was just ready to get this show on the road! At the same time, I knew that if I were not yet in active labor, it is way better and more comfortable to spend more time at home than more time at the hospital. In an effort to avoid confusing Riley by coming home when we had already left and told her we were going to the hospital have Baby Brother, Jordan and I decided to stay out until after she was already asleep. We also hoped that while we were out, the contractions would get stronger and we could just make our way to the hospital. At that point it was 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner, so we decided to go to Chipotle. For the past month, I had been joking that every dinner we had might be my “last supper.” If you know me well, you know the fact that Chipotle was actually my last supper could not be more fitting :). After eating dinner we still had some time to kill so we went to Barnes and Noble for a little bit. I was having contractions while we were there, but they still weren’t very strong. I kept praying that no one there would notice that I was having them and that no one would ask me when I was due! Thankfully neither happened, but it was kind of funny to be semi in labor at Barnes & Noble. Around 8:30 nothing was changing and Riley was asleep, so we decided to go home. I felt disappointed again. At 10pm we called Cheryl to update her and see how we should proceed. She said, “Try to get some sleep. If the contractions get stronger, come in. If not, plan on just coming in around 7 or 8am.”

I didn’t sleep again (at all) because the insane itching returned! I will forever be baffled by what pregnancy does to the body.

Around 2:30 am, the contractions started getting pretty painful. At 3:15, I decided it was time to wake Jordan up and tell him it was time.

We arrived at the hospital at 4:45am. It was perfect timing apparently, because the Labor & Delivery floor was CRAZY that night. They were delivering babies left and right, and there weren’t many room openings at different points. But we got there just in time for two rooms to open – one of them having a Jacuzzi bath (and there are only 4 of those rooms on that floor! Score!). So, we headed up to the room where we would meet our son, and found out that I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced.

First of all, let me just say – OUCH!! Labor is awful, and way worse than I remembered it was. You have a baby and forget about all the pain and eventually you get baby fever again and say to your husband, “Aww, let’s have another one! We can totally do this again!” And then you go into labor that second time and you start singing a different tune. One that sounds more like, “What was I thinking?! I can’t do this again!” And if you’re as sleep deprived as I was while you’re in it, you may continue in the downward spiral with, “I can’t take care of two kids! I can’t do this! I’m not going to be a good mom to two!” And it just gets out of control (more on that later).

Second of all – JACUZZI BATH For The Win! Oh my, now I understand why people do water births. It helped so much with the pain. Not that the pain wasn’t still terrible, but it was at least slightly less terrible. Every time I would start to get out of the bath, the contractions would immediately feel more intense, and I would just plop back down in the water and tell Jordan that I was going to stay there until I turned into a raisin. The nurse even put my little port on my hand (to draw blood for tests), while I was in the bath tub. I guess she could tell I wasn’t kidding when I said I was not coming out of there. At one point she told me that I would need to try walking around soon to get things going more. I don’t know what I said in response, but I know that in my head I said to her, “Well you need to try being in labor. Then we’ll talk.”

Sometime between 8-9am, I had a total emotional breakdown (as referenced briefly above ^). I cried for an hour and couldn’t stop. It was in part because of how much pain I was in, but mostly it was just how ridiculously TIRED I was! I mean, 2 nights in a row of zero sleep is hardly the way to go into labor. I just kept telling Jordan over and over again, “I can’t do this. I am just too tired. I’m so weary babe, I can’t do this. I can’t keep getting through these contractions. I can’t push and deliver this baby. I don’t even think I can take care of him once he’s here, because I am SOOOOOOOO TIIIIIIRED!” Jordan, being so sweet and caring, tried to encourage me by reminding me that we would be meeting our son soon. He even pulled out pictures and videos of Riley as a newborn, to get me excited. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect on me and I just started crying harder. In that moment, even the thought of holding my son soon did not feel motivating enough to get through the labor. Seeing pictures of Riley only reminded me of all that would be required of my body soon, and it felt like too much to handle. And this made me feel like a horrible mother, which made me even more emotional.

Poor Jordan.

And I know that is kind of a weird thing to say – obviously I had it worse in that situation. But I truly did feel bad for him. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to watch me in so much pain and not be able to help. And then to see me become such an emotional train wreck, and not be able to encourage me at all.

At that point, Jordan and I started talking about the possibility of getting an epidural. I was feeling so stressed out about the decision about whether or not to get one. On the one hand, I had come into this experience wanting to try to go without it and let my body do its thing on its own. I don’t believe that natural childbirth is the only way to go (I’ve done my research, Don’t worry. I’ve watched “The Business of Being Born” and I’ve read “The Bradley Method” etc. I just don’t buy it all. Some of it, but not all of it). But I do know that an epidural can slow down labor and that it can make for a more difficult recovery – so those were my reasons for wanting to go without it. On the other hand, I was just so tired that I started wondering if maybe an epidural would be wise to help me rest a little bit before the delivery.

One of my best friends had given birth to her daughter (and third child) a couple of weeks ago without an epidural, and in one of our conversations in the previous weeks, she compared natural childbirth to a roller coaster. She said it’s like someone convinces you to go on a roller coaster, and you end up deciding to go. You get on, strap in, and it starts to go. At some point though, you decide you don’t want to do it anymore! You want off! But… you can’t get off. It’s not an option. So you just have to ride it through to the end.

I knew there would come a point where an epidural would no longer be an option, and I would just have to ride the pain to the end. I started feeling panicky about that and I kept telling Jordan, “I don’t think I want to get on the roller coaster!” Also: it didn’t help that I could literally hear women SCREAMING as they pushed babies out in the rooms beside me.

Jordan encouraged me that it was OK to get the epidural, but I still wasn’t ready to make the call. I didn’t want to slow labor down, and I didn’t want to feel like I had given up too easily (which is ridiculous in hindsight. There is nothing about that situation that would indicate giving up “easily”! Nor would I be “giving up” I was obviously still going to birth a baby).

At 11am, they came to check me (side-note: this was one o the few times we even saw the midwife or a nurse because they were THAT crazy busy!). I was still only 5cm dilated, which was so discouraging. How could I have labored that hard for that long, with no progress?

Cheryl said that they were going to have to give me pitocin to get things going, because it had been over 24 hours since my water broke and it starts to become unsafe after that.

Honestly, that was a huge relief to me because I knew coming into the situation that if I were to ever need pitocin again (I had it with Riley when I was induced), I would get the epidural. Not getting an epidural was just not an option for me if I were going to be induced with pitocin, because it gives me no break in between contractions! So it took the heavy weight of the decision off of my shoulders. I was getting the epidural. It was settled. I could do this now.

Around noon, he walked in. My epidural angel, Dr. Thomas. I will never forget his name! Let me tell you, he gave me the best epidural in the history of mankind (trust me, I just know this) and I will forever be grateful and indebted to him.

Once that epidural kicked in, I tasted sweet relief! I couldn’t feel anything. And I fell into a deep, two and a half hour sleep! I needed that so badly.

At the risk of sounding overly spiritual – I really think that was from the Lord. I think God, in His sweet grace and mercy, brought me to the point of needing pitocin to take the pressure off of me and let me feel OK about getting the epidural, because He knew my body needed that rest. I really believe that. And praise Him for it!

When I woke up from that blissful 2.5 hours, I felt like a new person. Rested. Calm. Excited! And ready to meet my boy :). I put on some worship music, and spent time in prayer over this little life inside of me. I read and meditated on scripture. And I felt so close to the Lord. Jordan also napped and when he woke up, I had a huge smile on my face. I was able to honestly tell him, “I’m so ready to meet our son! I can’t wait! This is SO EXCITING!! EEK!”

Now here comes the funny part:

At about 3:15 or so, I started feeling really nauseous (like I needed to vomit) and started shaking all over. I remembered having the exact same thing happen to me when Riley started down the birth canal, so I said to Jordan, “Umm… we might want to page the nurse or midwife and, you know, just have them check me to make sure.” So he did.

Cheryl came in and said, “Well, there is a head!” She looked up at me and said, “Honey, you are crowning!” I had absolutely NO IDEA! I couldn’t feel a thing. So I started laughing. The nurse said, “Stop laughing! Stop laughing, you are laughing him out and we aren’t ready!” Of course that only made me want to laugh harder :). Lights were frantically being pulled out of the ceiling, tables and tools being rushed over, they told me to try to push, and in like less than 4 minutes – I was holding my sweet little blond haired boy!

Didn’t feel a single part of it.

I was elated! And laughing. The nurses were laughing too. They were all saying, “Wow – you must have had quite the epidural!” And they said it was their easiest and quickest delivery that day.

Naturally, it took awhile for that heck of an epidural to wear off, and it felt funny to watch them move my legs around and not feel anything. But eventually the feeling came back. In the meantime, I couldn’t stop staring at my beautiful boy and feeling ALL THE FEELINGS! I seriously felt like there were just some insane happy hormones coursing through my body, and I was on a complete love high.

The first moments of meeting our son

The first moments of meeting our son

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And that love high has continued through the first week of Copeland’s life. I know the hormonal high won’t last forever, and things will get harder (especially once Jordan goes back to work and we don’t have help and I try to navigate long days with two kids on my own), but for now I’m just soaking it in. The beauty and miracle of my sweet son, his little easy going nature, Riley’s adoration of him, watching Jordan be a dad to two, AND the fact that I am no longer pregnant = a sweet little cocktail of happiness ;).

And for the record – (at least in this experience) the epidural did not slow down my labor (thanks to the pitocin), and my recovery has actually been pretty smooth! I’ve been recovering from this pregnancy WAY faster than I did after giving birth to Riley.

And also for the record – next time I have a baby (God willing) and I go into labor: I am going to walk straight into that hospital, ask for the epidural, and request Dr. Thomas. 😉

Thanks for following along!

KM.

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 😉 (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.

Lately

I made a goal for myself to blog at least once in the month of October, since I haven’t been very active in the blogging world lately (I used to blog about once a week!). Truth be told, third trimester of pregnancy just isn’t the time for great thought provoking… thoughts. From me (<– see what I mean? Point proven.). It was, after all, in third trimester of my pregnancy with Riley that I forgot to wear pants one day. So let’s just count it a huge success that I have left the house fully clothed every day so far, K? 🙂

Since “thought provoking thoughts” (or complete sentences) aren’t exactly my forte lately, I thought I’d aim for a basic “lately” post about what’s been going on in our lives, well… lately! Creative, I know ;).

For one thing, we recently got a gym membership. For a long time we were really opposed to this idea because we didn’t want to take on a monthly payment. But then a couple of our friends told us about how helpful it was for their family to have a gym membership once they had two kids, and we were sold! Besides, if we really want to make working out a part of both of our lives, this is what we need to do. We both hate running (not that I’m attempting that during pregnancy), and doing workout videos with a 3 year old running around just isn’t really working out (no pun intended)! So anyway, gym membership. Did I mention they have CHILD CARE?! That’s what sold me. And Riley loves it. Every day she asks to “go play kids at school while mama exercise!”

The more pregnant I get, the more I hate working out. BUT the more I love childcare. So, at least there is a motivator. Although I fully predict that some days in the near future (and by near future, I mean this afternoon) I will just go there to simply stretch a little bit, and then plant myself on one of the leather couches and catch up on some magazine reading ;). Hey, I washed my hair last night.  Which only happens twice a week, so I can’t go getting all sweaty! Priorities people. (And just to clarify: I do shower more than twice a week, I just don’t wash my hair.  Hello, dry shampoo.).

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Another thing we’ve been doing a lot of lately is eating out. You know, to balance out all of that working out! We have recently switched over to a cash budgeting system and are trying to keep things tight to reach some financial goals, but God in His sweet mercy during this time when I am not too fond of cooking, has heard my cry! We have been getting all sorts of coupons for free food in the mail – since we “just moved to the area” (meaning, we moved 10 minutes away from our last place in Chapel Hill but hey- if they think they’re welcoming us here by offering us free food at their restaurant, so be it). So far we have scored a free $20 family meal from Whole Foods, a free meal from Cafe Carolina, free breakfast from Burger King (oops, I mean um kale from Whole Foods… I don’t eat that fast food garbage… eh hem.), and half off at Med Deli, just to name a few. Oh and then a new coffee shop opened up across the street and offered FREE coffee drinks (read: lattes, mochas, the whole deal) for a WEEK! We are doing some major restaurant scoring over here at the Maroon household.

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Last weekend, Riley had her first little friend sleepover. Zoe is a friend from church that she absolutely adores. It has been fun to watch them actually become friends, playing and laughing together every week after church. So on a whim, I threw out the idea to Jordan and then to Zoe’s mom of having Zoe sleepover. It was actually Riley’s idea. She had asked me after seeing Zoe at church one Sunday if Zoe could sleepover Riley’s house, and if I could call Zoe on the phone and ask her :). Anyway, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and honestly expected it to be complete chaos. Surprisingly, I was wrong! It was so easy, I’m still kind of in shock about it. The girls giggled for hours and wore each other out, falling fast asleep almost immediately. Then they both slept until 7:30 the next morning! Zoe was such a joy to have around our home. And she kept Riley nice and busy, which actually freed us up to do other things.

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Last weekend my mother – along with her friend Cheryl, my grandmother, and my sister – threw me a fabulous baby shower for Little Guy! It was actually my favorite shower I’ve ever had. I think that is because (a) I wasn’t as overwhelmed as I was at my shower for Riley (“What is ALL of this stuff they say I need for a baby?! Ahh, what am I doing?!”), this time it was just a lot more fun because it was mostly clothes and I’ve done this baby thing before, so it didn’t feel so foreign. And (b) it was a smaller shower, which just suits my introverted nature well ;). I felt like I was actually able to talk to everyone there and it was really fun to connect different people that I love to each other. It was such a sweet day and I felt SO loved! Also: baby boy stuff is SUPER cute. I always thought girl stuff was more fun, but I was mistaken. I cannot wait to see my little baby son in these adorable little things!

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And finally, I just want to say: I know that social media sometimes gets a bad rap. We talk about how it forms false ideas of relationships and all of the ways that it negatively affects us in our experience of community blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying that is not true, it often is. However, I have developed sweet friendships with a few women who I met – you guessed it – over social media! One of them was a sorority sister in college who I didn’t really know well then. But when we both were pregnant at the same time, we started talking and connecting over Facebook and Instagram. It was so helpful to have someone who was experiencing the same thing to talk to. Over the years we got closer, especially once she moved to the area and we started to get together with our kiddos somewhat regularly. Now these kiddos are becoming sweet friends too and it has been so fun to watch. So hooray for the good of Social Media!

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So, that’s us lately!

Until next time,

KM.

Rainbow Baby

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Many of you have followed along in the heartbreaking story of our loss.  I want to take a quick moment to thank all of you who have mourned with us in our loss of our son and all who have offered such great support to us.  And to the women who have reached out to me with similar stories – you are not alone.

Apparently a baby that is conceived after a miscarriage is referred to as a “Rainbow Baby.”  I love that.  It is so perfectly fitting.  On Easter Sunday, a day that I was really wrestling with the continuing sadness of our storm, we found out about our Rainbow Baby (on Resurrection day, how beautiful is that?).

I wasn’t sure if I would share our news publicly or even how to go about sharing it.  First of all, there is the fear of going through the whole thing all over again.  Sharing our loss publicly was one of the things that really helped me to process it.  I have never regretted doing that.  But, if I were to go through such a horrific loss again with this baby… could I really put it all out there again?  I’m not sure I could do it.  If there is anything a miscarriage teaches you, it is just how little control we have over life, especially the lives of our children.  That is a terrifying thing.

Then of course, there are all of the many women out there who have experienced a similar storm who do not have a rainbow.  They are still surrounded by the storm clouds.  I know how difficult it is to feel the sting of death and the emptiness of longing while looking at social media updates of women who are able to experience what we have lost.  I know how raw a Facebook status or Instagram picture can rub the heart of a bereaved parent.  I have no desire to be the source of anyone’s pain.  There is nothing that I have done to deserve another child in our family.  So I have wanted to tread lightly and be sensitive with our news.

And then there is the fear of how people will respond to our news.  My heart is already on guard, preparing for responses that would diminish our loss: “See everything worked out after all! There is purpose in everything! If you didn’t lose the last baby, you wouldn’t have this one!”

Yes, we have been given a beautiful, undeserved gift.  But that does not mean that everything worked out or that was the purpose of our loss.  Life is as ugly as it is beautiful.  There are gifts and there are losses – and both rightfully have their own place in our hearts and shape us in their own way.  Yes, we have been given a glimpse of hope and joy, but it does not erase the pain of our loss.  There is so much wrapped up in this exciting news – hope, joy, excitement, fear, anxiety, gratitude, and still trying to figure out how to navigate our grief in the midst of our new sweet rainbow.  That is why I absolutely love the quote above.  A rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm.  When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath.  It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds.  Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope. 

As hesitant as I have been to share our news, I also long to invite those who have mourned with us to also rejoice with us.  Every single life is invaluable, and deserves to be rejoiced in!  And we have been given another one into our family – we are 13 weeks along with baby Maroon #3, due December 26th (right around the time that we didn’t hear Salem’s heartbeat).

To be honest, I am still trying to figure out how to hold these two things together – the grief from the loss of my son that still penetrates my heart deeply and the joy and expectation of this new child.  It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet.  I know that I am pregnant.  I feel pregnant and I already look pregnant!  But to really accept the fact that this child could be born into my arms… that is something I cannot fathom, and won’t even really let myself think about yet.  I imagine it is normal to go into self-protection mode after a loss.  I expect that it may take time for me to really feel connected to this baby and to let myself dream and plan.  But for now, this is a big step – to share our news and rejoice with others in this tiny life growing inside of me. 

Thank you for joining us on the journey <3.

 

KM.

 

Perspective From a Kiddie Pool

First of all, can I just start off by saying that I love summer?  I love the feel of the air on summer mornings, driving with the windows down and sunroof open and listening to country music.  I love food on the grill, cookouts with friends, corn on the cobb, watermelon, and popsicles!  I love swimming pools, lakes, beaches and vacations.  I love less makeup and wavy hair and maxi dresses.  I love that Jordan’s job switches gears and slows down in the summer, and we get to spend more time with him.  I love all of it!  Well, except for the 90+ degree temperatures and humidity.  But other than that, two thumbs up for summer!

 

Jordan and I have been living in apartments for the past 4 years of our marriage.  So for us, summer always offers the option of re-signing our lease, or moving.  Last year we re-signed our lease for our current apartment (which meant it was the first summer since being married that we didn’t have to move!).   It was nice to just feel settled.  But this year we will be moving, due to some allergy and asthma issues related to our apartment that I won’t take the time to go into right now.

 

Every summer that we look into moving, I wrestle with the same tension: my desire for a house, and our financial reality.

 

I really want to live in a house.  We are not in a place to buy one right now.  The price of rent in this area is absurd.  My husband is a full time campus minister (i.e. not a millionaire), and we live solely off of his income.  I owe Elon University about a billion dollars (or something like that) in student loans.  So, you know, we’re a bit tied down.  We choose for me to stay home full time, and I still joyfully choose that, even in the face of my desire for a house (not that it would matter all that much if I worked, given the absurd cost of childcare in this area).

 

So that is the situation. And here I find myself every year, wrestling.

 

Recently, we have had two potential house rental situations that I got really excited about.  Both situations seemed almost like a done deal that just needed some logistics tied up.  I found myself spending much of the day dreaming about our life in those houses.  Having more space!  Hardwood floors!  And best of all, a fenced in yard for Riley to play in!

 

“Kids need a yard to run around in.”  That is something that I have heard a lot, and something I have thought too.  So when we end up living somewhere without a yard, I feel like I am somehow depriving Riley of a childhood right.

 

So you can imagine my excitement at the thought of being able to give that to her, and then my huge disappointment when both opportunities fell through.  The only options that seem to be available to us now are more apartments.

 

We have a post-it note on our computer that says, “Don’t let external circumstances dictate your view of God.”  I must admit that lately, I have been letting our circumstances (including many outside of just our housing situation) dictate my view of God, and it has really brought my spirit down.

 

But yesterday God gave me a beautiful gift that offered me some perspective and encouragement:

Earlier this week, we had bought Riley a little $10 kiddie pool.  We don’t have much space for it, but I figured we could squeeze it in on our little back patio/porch.  That way I could sit back, dip my feet in, and read while she happily plays :).  So we filled it up with water last night, and threw a bunch of toys in for her.  Riley loved it!  But the best part was that it attracted the neighborhood kids.  Riley adores the neighborhood kids.  Most of them are older than her and are so sweet to her, and every single day she asks us, “Play kids outside?! PLEASE play kids outside?!”

 

So here we were yesterday, on our little back patio with a huge bowl full of watermelon and four excited kids crammed into Riley’s little kiddie pool.  For hours!  They had the best time, and Riley was just beaming with pure delight and pride in her little pool.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a small group of kids so happy, and it just expanded my heart with so much joy.

 

It made me realize this: none of these kids have yards to play in.  They have a back parking lot, and several little back patios that belong to their neighbors.  And yet these kids are always playing outside together!  They are always being creative, making up little games.  They are always laughing.  And they always seem so happy with the simplest of activities.

 

In our culture, we tend to think that we need to give our kids more.  We need to give them big houses and yards and more toys and come up with more activities to make them happy.  We stress ourselves out over it.  Yet I’m reminded that some of the happiest kids I have ever seen were the ones I’ve worked with that lived in poverty and had nothing.  We have so much compared to them!  And yet they exuded so much joy.

 

This world we live in can be a wonderland.  It is a huge playground, a mystery, an art piece, and adventure!  It is a gift from God that children love to explore.  Their little imaginations can often do so much with something as simple as a stick and a rock.

 

No matter where we live, our children have that gift from God.  And the more material things I give my children, the more hurdles I am probably putting in their way to being able to fully explore and imagine.

 

But most of all I realized that God is always taking care of us.  Even when it may not seem like He is, all we have to do is walk outside and realize that the sun and the clouds and the trees and the breeze and the sound of birds chirping or the sound of rain that nourishes – all of these things He created for us!

 

This morning I read this in Charles Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”: (on Psalm 27:14) “Wait on the Lord.  Wait at His door with prayer; wait at His foot with humility; wait at His table with service; wait at His window with expectation.”

 

I prayerfully went through each one of these things and tried to picture myself doing it. I pictured myself waiting at God’s door in prayer, and suddenly I had a picture of Him opening the door and saying, “My child, come in!”  Then I pictured myself bowing at His foot in humility, but sensed Him saying, “Rise up, love!”  I pictured myself coming up to His dinner table like a waitress, ready to serve Him.  Instead I sensed Him laughing and saying, “You are my daughter! Come have a seat!”  Then I pictured myself waiting at His window in expectation.  Again, I sensed Him laughing, opening the window and saying, “You are my daughter! Come in through the door, it is always opened for you!”

 

I don’t know if we will end up in a house or an apartment when our lease ends.  But it doesn’t really matter, does it?  Because all that God has, He has given to me (Luke 15:31)!  As His daughter through Christ, I may dwell in the house of the Lord.  Is there really anything else I need?

 

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” – Psalm 27:4