Friday, October 22, 2010

Spring Baby

We’re having a spring baby! Both of our daughters were born in November and last Christmas we experienced a miscarriage – so we’re really excited to welcome a spring baby into our family. We recognize and enjoy the connection to the season of new, blooming life.

I haven’t yet written much about the loss of our baby last Christmas. It is something I hope to do in the future as the story is just beyond beautiful.

I love the Christmas season dearly and count down the months every year. Last year was a difficult year with Joseph’s surgery and to celebrate making it through a hard year; we booked a trip to Las Vegas for my birthday, which is Christmas week. While on vacation I had a miscarriage. We were devastated, and my birthday and Christmas were a blur. I just wanted to get through.

Before I go into all the pregnancy talk, I want to address a beautiful community of women I have gotten to know through the wonderful blogging world. After the holiday season last year, I came across a group of Christian bloggers who struggle with the cross of infertility and/or loss. They are inspiring. They support and pray for each other. Some of these women are still not holding babies after many years of marriage and many losses. I truly believe God gives the cross of infertility to the strongest women among us, because I have never met such inspiring women. Although I do not share their cross, I have so enjoyed getting to know them and have been offering up all my pregnancy discomforts for them. If reading about another new pregnancy is hurtful to any of you, please feel free to stop reading now, and know I continue to pray for when you too will hold a baby in your arms.

I found this pregnancy question sheet on a few blogs and thought it was cute!

How did you find out about the baby to be?
It was awesome! I found out on our anniversary and surprised Joseph by writing the news in his card! We are due Mother’s Day Weekend which is also the anniversary of the day we got engaged!

How far along are you?
Today was my 12 week appointment! I did have an ultrasound at 8 weeks to confirm and see a heartbeat. At that point we told our families (and I may have slipped to a few friends). We have never waited until the second trimester to tell before and man, it has been sooo hard!

How are you feeling?
Umm. Not the best. But, I think I am turning the corner and I’m thankful for the symptoms as they reassure me that baby is still in there.

How much weight have you gained?
I’ve lost 15 lbs. I know, yikes. I got in a bit of trouble at the doctor today. BUT, I sleep so darn much and just can’t bring myself to eat. Even water makes me sick. I have to say, I am not too worried. I have plenty of weight. Not that I want to be feeling this icky, but I think it is a blessing, I really can’t gain too much and losing so much in the beginning sure does help!

Food Cravings?
No craving, but I have an aversion to some of my favorite foods and it makes me sad. I could LIVE off popcorn normally, but now the thought of it – ick!

Ummm, I’m 50/50. With both my girls I really thought it was a girl. This time I am 50/50. I don’t really care at all. But, this time we are going to find out! We have never done that and I am so excited! We are due the week Joseph is set to graduate which means he has a master’s thesis to write while this baby grows. So, this time we want to know. I’m so excited to know that I’ve even looked at that gender prediction kit at Walgreens. I confessed to Joseph and he was semi on board until I told him it is about $30. Then he said no. Can’t make any promises if I am out shopping by myself though! Not sure if we will share the sex of the baby or not.

Oh yes! Being pregnant after a loss is really stressful and I am trying not to allow that worry to take me over. I asked for my progesterone to be tested right away and it was low. I had to beg my doctor to put me on the progesterone pill (she does not believe in progesterone therapy and I can’t find a doctor around here who does). She also does not believe in monitoring the progesterone so she put me on it for the first trimester and won’t order a blood draw. It stresses me out, but I have done all I can do. Please don’t leave me any scary comments.
Going from 2 to 3 children also really scares me. But, in a good way.

Joseph and I always take a picture together upon learning of another new soul in our family. Please excuse his half dressed attire. He didn't know what he was coming home to :)

We have had a boy’s name picked out since before we were married – so we are still sitting on that. Girl names are hard when you are on number 3! I don’t know if we will tell until the birth, but so far these are the names we like:
Monica (her feast day is our wedding day and the day we found out about this baby)
Rebeca (if we call her Becca it would fit with our other 2 girls, Tessa and Anna)
Elizabeth (my middle name and my mom’s name - with one of the following nicknames: Ellie, Ella, Lizzy)

We’re so excited. I’m still really worried about baby, who Tessa is adamant we name String. So, any prayers or positive thoughts you could send our way would be much appreciated. I haven’t let myself get excited yet, but now that our news is out I am starting to feel like we are having a baby! It is a wonderful feeling, but I’ve been trying to protect myself and prepare for the worst. I just can’t keep doing that. So, prayers, please!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Motherhood

Recently my attention has been drawn (in some pleasant and not so pleasant ways) to the differences between myself and the women I call my “peers.”

I’ve been drawn to reflect on my lifestyle due in most part to the extreme reactions I’ve received from friends recently. A few have e-mailed with questions of how I do so much in addition to being a mama. Some seeking advice and some sending notes of thanksgiving – filled with hope that they too may soon be busy mamas. I’ve also disappointed a few friends who seem dissatisfied with how much of myself (and my time) I can commit to them.

One of my favorite Catholic blogger mamas, Elizabeth Foss has a beautiful post about the type of women/wife/mother she is appearing on her blog this evening. Although we are indeed quite different (she’s a seasoned mama with 9 children), I see myself in the sentiment she’s expressing.

Our family calendar speaks volumes to who I am as a women and a mama. I refuse to overbook or fill up our days. More than 3 obligations in one week (even social ones) might as well be a prison sentence to me. I’m an introvert, and so is my husband. We parent as introverts. We’re not signed up for Gymboree, playdates and storytimes at the library. Of course social and educational activities are important and we do make room for them, but I am very selective. When we do something social, it usually takes us an entire day to recuperate – so I build that time into our lives.

We are very close with a family of extraverts and this summer we spent the 4th of July with them. The kids played outside, we took them to the park, grilled out, did some sparklers in the driveway and then drove to see the town’s fireworks later that evening. It was a full day of fun followed by a sleepover. The next day I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. My energy was gone and my kids wanted nothing more than to watch a DVD. My friend came out of her room with her 3 children dressed in another patriotic outfit and they started packing up to go to the parade. A parade! It was 9:00am! Thankfully my friend knows how I operate and I didn’t need to think of an excuse not to go. They headed out and my family stayed in their home, napping and relaxing. Sometimes I wish we could go go go and I know we miss out on some wonderful things, but it doesn’t make us happy. My friend needs those types of things (and so do her children) to keep their family running smoothly and to keep everyone happy. For us, we aren’t loving to one another when we are living that way, so for us I know I am doing what is best.

We recharge alone and at home. For myself, and for my family, I protect this recharging time like a mama bear. I don’t feel an obligation to return phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner nor do I commit myself to weekly conversations with friends. This is not, in any way, a reflection of how I feel about those friends; I just simply love my family more. I know if I did answer every e-mail and return every phone message that our family would suffer, and I am not willing to do that. I know myself very well, faults and all.

I also approach motherhood a bit differently. Although I do love to cuddle with my girls, I can’t stand having someone “on” me all day long. Attachment parenting is beautiful, but God did not make me that type of mother. I don’t long for a tiny baby that needs their every need attended too and if there is a child in my bed, I’m not sleeping. That period of motherhood is a large sacrifice for me. I’m loving in other ways. My gifts are intuition and council. These gifts are better used with older children. For example, every single thing I do in the kitchen is narrated and then shown to Tessa. She is then given the opportunity to do it herself. So, every dinner and every batch of cookies takes twice as long as it does in another home. She doesn’t just get to “stir” to playcat her. She cracks the egg herself and dumps it in the bowl. If there are shells, she is then taught how to dig them out. This is how we operate every day in the kitchen. Everything takes twice as long and creates twice the mess, but at 2 and a half she could recite to me, step by step, how to make many of our standard meals and – chocolate chip cookies. This time is precious to me and I give up other things in order to have it.

She also comes to me with things she would like to talk about. She knows she is not going to get a water downed answer. We have very real conversations and I commit a lot of time to these real conversations. We are strong and consistent in our discipline and following a consequence, there is a loving conversation because I want to understand why a wrong choice was made and help them to understand why their choice was wrong. So, a simple fight between 2 little girls can turn into an hour long event in our home, but in the end everyone not only understands each other, but everyone feels loved. I do not answer my phone during these times.

I am also a work at home mama. I actually really love my job. I don’t care for the amount of work I have. But, I have to say, even if we were extremely independently wealthy I still think I would continue this job (with slashed hours, of course). Not only do I put in hours with my job, I am also a freelance writer. This past year has been a good one for me writing wise and we now count on a few hundred dollars of our monthly income from my freelancing. This is a personal choice that was very hard for me to make. It does cut into my family time and it certainly has affected how much time I have for friends and social activities. However, after much personal prayer by me and my husband, we feel I am called to pursue this dream. It is not one I talk about often, but one I must begin acknowledging as it is affecting my life and the amount of time I can give outside of my family.

To those who wonder how I do all that I do, there are sacrifices. Chances are I am not nearly as social as you are and my house is probably not as clean as yours! We are creative spirits over here and sometimes projects and ideas pick us up and carry us away leaving our laundry pile high and our fridge empty. But, that is who we are, and I will not apologize for it because I love it. One week we’ll learn to sew, the next we’ll be painting. Some nights I’ll stay up all night long because inspiration has struck and if that means the girls stay in diapers the whole next day because mama is resting on the couch – then so be it!

The best we can do for our children, in my opinion, is to embrace who God made us to be and show them it’s ok to do the same. I laugh because in my life I have always been very close with people who would call themselves “type A.” I think there is something about the structured and OCD type personality that must be amused or intrigued by a person like myself. I have had wonderful relationships with many “type As” in my life. However, they seem to really love me for a time and then in the end, I wind up driving them crazy!

Truth is, the world needs us all! God has designed and made each one of us beautifully to reflect Him in different ways. We have so much we can learn from one another. God knows that. I have proof. I’m almost sure my first born is a “Type A” herself. She reminds us to put things away in the fridge and turn off lights when we leave a room.

When she was asked to help pick up today she responded, “Ok, mama! Who’s coming over?” No one, for the record!

She keeps us in check and we remind her that mistakes are ok and sometimes it’s fun to get messy.

What kind of women/mother are you? Are your days structured or is yesterday’s oatmeal still on your kitchen table?