Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Notes From a Not-So-Cute Pregnant Lady

At the start of this pregnancy, I had high ideals. I always do.

I was going to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way. (Essentially, no fat with carbs and always protein).

I was going to look cute. Every single day.  Do my hair. Do my make-up.  Wear something nice. Every. Single. Day.

I was going to savor every little moment of pregnancy.

I don't know how many days I went before reality set in.  Maybe I even went weeks.  My first trimester wasn't too exhausting.  I didn't gain very much weight, though my belly popped unexpectedly soon.  I was tan because it was summer.  I had been running and lifting weights, so my body felt strong and ready for this.

But I was ravenous, as I always am in the first trimester.  But then I'd eat and feel nauseous.  Everything I thought I wanted to eat, after I ate it... I never wanted to see it again.  I still feel that way about the Mexican place we ate.  At the time, it was great.  Now? Never again.

First trimester craving for Mexican food.  Oh those chile relanos were delish...  But how can I ever go back without flashbacks of early pregnancy nausea?

I wasn't exhausted, but I was tired by noon. And it hasn't let up, even now that I'm in my third trimester.

I'll be honest. I've got varicose veins.  First time ever.  I've got melasma (the mask of pregnancy)- dark circles under my eyes due to hormones.  I look exhausted and pale, even after applying foundation and bronzer.  My digestive system is whack.  Nuff said on that.

The truth is, there is no season quite like pregnancy to lose control.  My meaning is two-fold.  You'll have no choice, no control over so many things.  So you might as well give up control. Lose it.  Let it go.

I would never choose the things that are ailing me and disfiguring me.  I certainly wouldn't choose the placenta previa, the low amniotic fluid, the blood pressure that's higher than normal.  I wouldn't choose the c-section.

Even though I've made many wise choices this pregnancy regarding supplements I take, medications I don't take, foods I'm eating for nutritional quality, and getting enough rest, none of it has prevented the unwanted from happening.  To a very large degree, I am out of control.

And I have to make peace with that.

Having a "high risk" pregnancy is teaching me a lot.  I have moments of guilt that come out of nowhere- Did I do something that caused this?  Thankfully, I don't dwell on this as I know there isn't, but it makes me think of all the other women out there who have less-than-adorable pregnancies, or complicated pregnancies, that also feel the guilt.

The guilt of gaining "too much" weight.

Of getting gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.

The guilt of a possible birth "defect" that was detected via sonogram.

Guilt for the exhaustion. For wanting to just stay home in stretchy pants.

Or guilt for needing to get OUT, even if it is in stretchy pants.

Guilt for the roller coaster of emotions you take everyone in your home on.

I look at pictures of myself, even from those first weeks of pregnancy, and I think "I was so cute! I was so in shape! Now look at me!"  I feel giant. Inflated.  I've never been a skinny minnie, but compared to how big I feel now, I looked like a size 2 just a few short months ago!

But I can't live there. I can't dwell on that.  I've had three babies previously and I know... that body can come back.  Kinda. Sorta.

I hear tell that the nasty blue veins will diminish after the baby arrives.

I don't do bikinis, so a Cesarean scar is no big deal.  I hope. Right?

I want to tell all the pregnant girls, Chill! Let it go!  Don't let yourself go, but don't try to control. Stuff is going to happen that you don't like.  Accept it.  Make peace.  Focus on your health and baby's.

My very dear friend and I, due just a week apart!  We have been friends for over eleven years!  I joke that we are Elizabeth and Sarah from the Bible, two old ladies having babies.  I'd say we look a little tired, but we do have a certain glow as well.
Take a nap if you can.

Give in to that craving and for goodness sake, stop mentally calculating every calorie!

Moving, getting out, putting on some make up really will help you feel better.  But it only goes so far.

Embrace the growing belly and the stretchy pants that so comfortably enfold it!

Dream of how much better you'll feel postpartum, but enjoy this glorious process of creating life.  The hiccups (my babe's got em right now!).  The kicks.  The hard spot you can nudge and that responds by moving.

It is such a short, short season.   And I'll be you look a lot cuter than you think or feel.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I've Got a Date

I am officially in my third trimester!

Every week of this pregnancy seems like a victory, and has that strange sensation of going both fast and slow at the same time.  I am in limbo- I want to enjoy the time remaining, but I am also anxious to make it safely- and without drama- to the finish line.

Today I had another doctor's appointment and another sonogram to check the location of that pesky placenta of mine.  I am almost 29 weeks gestation and it had been about seven weeks since my last ultrasound.  When we last checked, the placenta was fully centered over my os (the medical term for opening which sounds less revealing than the word "cervix".   When you're pregnant, it seems all things are a "go" to talk about.)  Today's appointment began with a sweet glucose cocktail that tasted like Hawaiian Punch and then another precious view of my baby.

First things first, the placenta hasn't moved a millimeter.  But it has grown incredibly in size. I was amazed, and alarmed, at how much bigger it is than when I last saw it.  I don't know why the size of it upset me, but I started to feel queasy and hot and out of breath. It was probably the glucose cocktail, combined with laying on my back for the ultrasound.  Thankfully the sonographer caught on and had me roll on my side.

 I admit, I really didn't expect that the placenta would move... nor do I think it will.  The sonographer said it looks like I am the less than 1% of cases when the placenta doesn't move.  It is a complete previa.  And again, that placenta is gigantic.  I'm reminded that with each of my three babies, I've had giant placentas (well nourished babies, my midwife always said).

So, even though I expected this news... and I've expected that this pregnancy will end in a c-section... I was disturbed by all this.  Partially, again, I wasn't feeling well from the glucose drink.  But then I heard the sonographer utter the word "acreta".  That's when the placenta attaches to your uterus. That's when they can't remove the placenta without removing the uterus.  That's when I start freaking out.

No, she wasn't saying I have this condition.  But she was looking for signs of it, admitting, however, that it is very hard to diagnose.  In my favor, I have never had a c-section or any other type of uterine surgery, so this makes my risk very low.

But I'll admit that things are feeling more real now.  I've been reading up, preparing myself for a c-section.  What it entails, what I can expect in recovery.  I don't like what I read.  But I like to be informed.  After gathering as much information as I could handle, I decided to switch gears and start planning for the positives: a new baby!  Gosh, I've had three of them before, but somehow I've forgotten what a baby needs.  Or maybe, after three, I realize how much they don't need.  I've been collecting onesies and gowns and jammies and diapers.  A sweet friends gave me lots of her little boy's outgrown baby clothes and blankies.  I bought an oversized purse at Goodwill to use as a diaper bag (I never used all those diaper bag pockets).  I've also been reading up on breastfeeding, something I truly love doing and something that cheers me right up when I think about this little guy arriving.

In the end, I pray for a healthy baby and to be in good enough medical condition to fully bond and adore on him after his birth.

Thankfully, he looks great big and healthy, just over three pounds thus far.  Because there is no way he can get out "naturally", his Birth Day is scheduled for March 6th, at 37 weeks gestation.  So I've got a date with the OR.  I'm praying he is in the seven pound range at delivery, but again, I just want us both healthy enough to love and snuggle unhindered.

I mentioned before that I didn't- and don't- expect the placenta to move. I've heard of placentas moving as late as 36 weeks, so it is a possibility. And I do not doubt for a moment that God can move it in an instant.  But I have also felt all along that this is a journey the Lord wants to walk us through.  Yes, the circumstances are becoming more real and the details more unpleasant, but what doesn't change is the peace I have.  I was talking to Josh about this on the way home.  If we never go through anything that challenges us or our faith... we are weak and often without compassion for others who are facing hard circumstances.  We may have a lot of words to offer, but little experience with God's faithfulness ourselves.

I would ask for your prayers for a few specifics:

That the baby won't arrive dramatically, before his scheduled delivery.  (After Josh told our doctor I was alarmed by the size of the placenta, he said it is actually a really good thing as it better distributes the weight of the baby over my cervix.  So this turned out to be good news.)

That he will be fully developed and able to breath on his own when he is born.

That my c-section will be undramatic, without the need for a blood transfusion or, worse, a hysterectomy (the bottom of the uterus does not contract on it's own, so excessive bleeding is not unlikely).

That I will recover well and be able to nurse and bond with baby soon after his arrival.

After all today's happenings, I got to have a lunch date with my husband at an Italian cafe my brother recommended.  I thumbed my nose at the glucose screening by getting a giant white chocolate and lemon bar.  I took a little nap once I got home.  I'm nursing a nasty sinus headache right now, but a lavender and eucalyptus steam bath helped a bit with that.  Now I'm going to stay up late with the kiddos on a school night and watch some silly Netflix as we all five snuggle together and keep warm on this cold winter's night.

We've got eight weeks to go til we meet this little guy!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Remembering 2014.. and So Excited for 2015!

2014 was the first year I ever had a "word".  You know, a word for the year. A word that is supposed to be the focus of or the goal for the year.  I didn't really mean to have a word, but as the new year rolled around, I sensed deeply that it was time to live again.

And so the word for 2104 was LIVE.

What do I mean by "live again"? It sounds slightly morbid, or like I went through a terrible ordeal that I needed to come back from.  It sounds... dramatic.

In truth, it's not so dramatic, it's just real.  At that point, we had been in our new house, our new town, at our new church for two years.  And it had been two years of misery for me (minus the six month honeymoon period- getting settled, unpacked, with notions in the back of my head that when all that was done, the reason why we came here would be waiting for us.)  It had been two years of tears, discouragement, despair,   I was starting to think I was depressed enough to need medication.  But then we went to Florida for three weeks and everything was perfect and I snapped right out of the despair.  So I knew it wasn't a chemical problem.

But as soon as we were back home, I was right back where I had been before.Overwhelmed. Discouraged.  Longing to escape.  Escape what? Just... life. And circumstances.  I remember asking Josh "Was I this overwhelmed in (our former home)?" because I wondered if it was just me.   But he could see it too.  Gentle as he is, his answer wasn't "Yeah, you're losing it" but he did admit he noticed I was overwhelmed and not myself.

I remember Christmas Day, trying so hard to hold my emotions together and just enjoy my family, the gifts, the time together. But there was this cloud over me that threatened to ruin every day, even the best of days.  And I had no idea how to move it.

So entering 2014, I just prayed "Lord, help me LIVE again!"  I didn't want to get up every day and sigh and say "This is my life. It will never change. Just accept it and deal with it and get through it." I didn't want to be one of those people Thoreau spoke of when he said

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

Not me!  Like George Bailey at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, I prayed 

I want to live again!

I know, it sounds so dramatic. Like a scene from a movie.  It kind of makes me snicker at myself to recount it all this way, but it's what was going on in my heart.

And I didn't know how to change things.  But the Lord did.

2014 began with a long, bitterly cold winter that just wouldn't quit.  I'm no winter-hater, but I really started to after days and days of snow so deep it literally covered our downstairs windows.  And cold so frigid we just couldn't seem to stay warm.

One Sunday morning in February, we bundled the kids up and loaded them in our truck to go to church. At the end of our road are cornfields, barren and flat in winter of course. As we made our way down the road, the wind was howling and veering our big SUV.  It was blowing snow wildly across the road in front of us.  I was cold and cranky and sick of winter and in my heart I thought bitterly:

What are we doing in this God-forsaken place?????

And in an instant, everything changed.  I know, more drama, but it's true.  In that moment, God spoke to me.  Quietly but oh-so-clearly. He said

Look at these fields! They are white for the harvest. Literally white!  Do not call forsaken what I call a harvest.

Wow.  I can't properly express what happened in my heart in that moment, aside from saying that peace and even contentment came in.  Those words from the Lord, spoken to my discouraged, bitter heart, brought me back to life.  They were an assurance, a promise, that God did, indeed, have work for us to do here. That he wasn't done with us.  That a harvest was coming.  And so much more that is still a mystery changed for me.

When I look back on 2014, I am so incredibly grateful for those words from the Lord and for the work that he, only he, could do in me.  I think of how he used the strangest things to start bringing me back to life...

A new family to our church lost their baby at 21 weeks gestation. They had to go through the labor and delivery, the dealings of death.  We went to their home the night before they had their little girl and brought pizza and it all seemed so meager, so weak.  Yet in loving on them, life came back into me.  As we drove home, I cried.  God was using us. We were making new family here at last.

We have a few relationships that are beginning to grow and deepen.

God called me to start a homeschool co-op and has given me perfect peace to let him build it and grow it and add to our numbers as he sees fit.

Our school year is going so much better.  I'm not the crazy, wits end mama I was before.

We're having a baby, a new gift from God.  How about that to LIVE again?

We went to Florida again and this time, I was so thankful and excited to come  home.

Because there is a harvest for us here.  We are sowing right now, sometimes seeds of unknown origin. What will grow of all this, we don't know.

But I look over this past year and see that God is faithful.  What he has promised, he will fulfill.

Looking at this new year that is ahead of us, I am EXCITED!  The cry of my heart is "Lord, I am so hungry and so thirsty for more! Fill me, Lord."

And I fully expect that he will do this work too!

Happy 2015!