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 :).

IMG_4638

IMG_4647

IMG_4649

IMG_4664

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.

IMG_4660

IMG_4661

IMG_4662

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.

Cute Mom or Wet, Tired Dog?

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a women’s conference called “Pursue the Passion” with one of my best friends and our little babies. The worship leader was Meredith Andrews and the keynote speaker was Jen Hatmaker (my blogger/speaker/author crush), so it was pretty much a dream come true.

ma and michal

 

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror before heading to the conference that Saturday morning, and I smiled. I actually looked like a cute mom. I was wearing a cute outfit, my hair was curled, my makeup was done. I felt good!

Of course, about 20 minutes into the first session, Copeland spit up all over me. And I’m not talking normal spit up. I’m talking PROJECTILE spit up, like a waterfall. I was soaked in it. My shirt was soaking wet, and so was my hair. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I heard the people sitting behind us gasp!

I took Copeland into the bathroom and tried to figure out how to take care of the situation. Of course I had an extra outfit for him, but not for myself. I cleaned him up, changed his outfit, and then looked at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out what the heck to do. I no longer looked like a cute mom. I looked like a wet, tired dog.  That’s the image that came to my mind as I looked at myself.  A mangy, exhausted little creature.

But as I stood there and looked at my reflection, this thought struck me: This is actually more true to my reality. My life right now is much more similar to a wet, tired dog than it is to a cute mom. My reflection suddenly communicated more truth about my heart and my soul than it did when I had first walked through those doors into the conference that morning.

10 days before the conference started, some of our upstairs neighbors were shot and killed by one of our other neighbors.  We were home with the kids when it happened.  We heard the gunshots.  It was nothing short of terrifying and horrific.

I haven’t known how to process it.  I haven’t known how to write.  How do you get over hearing your neighbors get murdered?  I’m not sure that you do.

It’s a strange thing seeing our condo on the news, even still.  It’s hard living here.  I’m sad and I’m scared and paranoid a lot.

One of the reason I have not talked about this much and haven’t really publicly come out with it is because it felt wrong at first.  Jordan and I would remind each other “we are not the victims here.”  We weep and grieve for these three beautiful lives lost, for their families, and for the brokenness of the world.  But we did not dare want to make it about us.

But yesterday we met with a crisis counselor from the Police Department.  One of the things she said to us really helped me to be willing to open this up and let myself process it more.  She said, “Do not downplay this.  You are victims here.  Most people will go through their entire lifetime without coming even remotely close to experiencing something like this.”  She gave us permission to claim our pain and trauma.

I really regret never getting to know these people who seemed so incredible and lived so close to us.  I sometimes think about how my life may have been richer, had I gotten to know the victims.  For days after the shooting, I would watch videos and read everything about one of the victims and I was constantly struck with the thought, “Wow, she was so beautiful.” Inside and out.

And then I freak out when I think about the shooter; about the thought that someone so dangerous lived so close to us.

I am paranoid over the fact that I cannot always protect my children.

I am baffled at the fact that God doesn’t always stop bullets, and yet sometimes He does.

If anything, this past year has really opened my eyes to the fact that belonging to God does not guarantee safety in this world.  I have never so intensely had to look at the ugliness and pain of the world in its broken and distorted face.  I’ve never so deeply longed for eternity, and yet struggled to be close to God in my current reality.  It is a daily process to continue to trust God and walk with Him while constantly being reminded that there is no immunity for the here and now.  Our security in Christ saves us from the ultimate destruction that our rebellious souls lead us into; but our security is not a material one on this earth.

I know that God is working in my heart through this, and that there is an invitation to trust Him in an even deeper way.  I know that He is good, always.  But I also know that life is not fair and His mercy does not always feel evident.

I don’t really have any resolution to this blog post, but I know it is good for my soul to write.  I know that I need to process this, and I am thankful for my little space here where I can pour my heart onto a screen whenever I need that release.  There is so much going on in my heart, this might become more of a raw space than ever before and I think I actually want to let it be that.  Far too much of the internet displays the “cute moms” and yet I wonder how many of us actually feel more like wet, tired dogs.  I wonder how many of us actually long for the freedom of the mirror projecting back an accurate picture of our souls.  And how many of us need the permission to be honest about it.

 

KM.

Newborn Photo Shoot

It is hard to believe our little boy is almost 1 month old!  Time really has been flying by.  Shortly after we had returned home from the hospital, a good friend of ours (and amazing photographer – check out her website!) came to our place to do a newborn photo shoot.  Carolyn is so talented and has captured several sweet moments in our family’s life including a newborn photo shoot for Riley, a 1 year family photo shoot for Riley, and a Father/Daughter shoot! We are so thankful to have these pictures to preserve each of these special times in our family’s history.

Here are some of my favorites from Copeland’s newborn shoot.  I can’t wait to order some to put around our home!

Copeland_Newborn_0005

Copeland_Newborn_0006

Copeland_Newborn_0008

Copeland_Newborn_0010

Copeland_Newborn_0015

Copeland_Newborn_0017

Copeland_Newborn_0021

Copeland_Newborn_0022

Copeland_Newborn_0023

Copeland_Newborn_0026

Copeland_Newborn_0027

Copeland_Newborn_0029

Copeland_Newborn_0034

Copeland_Newborn_0036

Copeland_Newborn_0040

Copeland_Newborn_0042

Copeland_Newborn_0047

Copeland_Newborn_0048

Copeland_Newborn_0053

Copeland_Newborn_0054

Copeland_Newborn_0062

Copeland_Newborn_0066

Copeland_Newborn_0067

Copeland_Newborn_0075

Copeland_Newborn_0078

Copeland_Newborn_0083

Copeland_Newborn_0084

Copeland_Newborn_0087

Copeland_Newborn_0089

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_4148

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.

Joseph Copeland Maroon – The Name

copelandOn January 3rd, 2015 at 3:39pm our son, Joseph Copeland Maroon (we will call him by his middle name) made his grand entrance into the world! 7lbs, 11oz and 19 inches of pure cuteness and joy. I know I was getting antsy (to put it mildly) at the end of my pregnancy and having a hard time with the waiting each day that I went past 40 weeks – but the timing of Copeland’s birth could not be more beautiful. It was on January 3rd last year that we found out we had lost our second child. God sure had a very specific time picked out for Copeland’s birth for His own glory – January 3rd one year later. What an incredible glimpse into our God’s redemptive nature! We are so in awe, humbled and grateful.copeland 4

So, how did we choose the name Joseph Copeland?

Joseph – Our little guy is named after his grandfather (Jordan’s dad), Joseph Maroon. We pray that he grows up to be like his grandfather – a man of love, integrity, courage, strength, humility, wisdom, gentleness, a hard worker, a great dad and husband and grandfather.

Copeland – We knew for awhile that we wanted “Joseph” somewhere in his name, but we had a tough time choosing the name that we would call our son. And by “tough” what I mean is that I would come up with names and lists of names I liked, and Jordan would veto them ;). I even made a bracket once (like you would for March Madness) thinking it would help Jordan narrow it down or find something he liked. All it did was make him realize that he didn’t like any of the names. So in the end, Copeland was simply the name that we both agreed on and liked the most. I came across it online once, and it was the first name that I threw out there to Jordan that immediately received a positive response. For awhile we went back and forth as to whether or not we were going to choose it, but as our pregnancy neared the end we realized that there was just no other boy’s name that we liked more than Copeland. It’s very unique, and yet it doesn’t sound terribly unique (like “Rain” or “Fire” or something. No offense if that is your child’s name). To me, it sounds like a name that could be categorized with “Camden” or “Cole” but is less common. We have always liked names that are a little different. And we thought it sounded cute with Riley.

IMG_4220

At first, we didn’t choose the name based on their meanings. However once we had already picked his name, it was cool to learn what each name means and how perfect they are for our little guy. As I mentioned, right before getting pregnant with Copeland, we lost a baby in miscarriage. It was an incredibly difficult time for us, and we still mourn the loss of that child. On Easter Sunday, we found out that we were pregnant. Joseph means “The Lord will add” and Copeland means “The ability to cope.” Praise God that, in His undeserved grace, He added this sweet child to our family and Copeland sure has helped us cope during our difficult year!

copeland 2

copeland 3

Copeland 5

copeland 6

copeland 7

So, that is the story behind his name. I will blog about his birth story soon! 🙂

Until then,

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.

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.