Saturday, December 29, 2012

Labor, Delivery, Thad's Visit, Christmas, oh my...

Disclaimer: If ya don't wanna hear about my 44 hour labor, this is not the post for you. 

   Last Monday (the 17th) was my dad's 50th birthday. A lot of people (including me, but not so much me) thought it would be pretty cool if little Miss Clementine was born on his birthday but she had other plans.
   At 1130 on Monday night I was laying in bed watching youtube videos of unmedicated births. I know. Gross. I was also texting my love, Susan Chaplin. We both were laying in bed by ourselves feeling slightly blue. Well, truthfully, watching the videos was making me bawl hysterically out of fear. While watching the videos I had a pretty strong contraction....and then five minutes later another one....and five minutes later another one....and five minutes later another one....after about an hour and a half of that pattern I thought, maybe something's going on here? Truthfully, I had had contractions before (although never within 5 minutes of each other) and I had been 3 cm dilated for almost two weeks by that point so my mindset was kind of "I'm never actually going to go into labor so don't freak out."
   Well the contractions started to be pretty jarring and they weren't slowing down so I woke my mom up and asked her to come sit with me. I put a movie in (Fool's Gold. It's pretty lame, and pretty awesome, definitely worth renting) and settled into bed with my contraction timer app and kept watch. Mom, of course, immediately started folding my clothes and cleaning my room and keeping busy (I think it may be a coping mechanism for her).
   Around 3am it was pretty hard to deny that I was laboring. The contractions had stayed 5 minutes apart but were getting more and more painful, so I called my doula, Laura, and let her know what was going on. Bless her, she took a shower and came over.
   I labored on my exercise ball, I labored in bed, I labored and labored. Laura helped me breathe through the contractions and made sure I stayed hydrated. I had my mom call No Longer Bound to let them know that I was in labor so that Thad would know and they let him call me. We cried on the phone together for a little bit and then we got to talk for almost two hours. It was the first time I'd heard his voice in 6 weeks. It was also the first he had been told that he was getting to come home for Christmas so he was extremely emotional. But once we got over the emotional part, he did what he always does: made me laugh. I laughed through contractions for the two hours we were on the phone.
   Around 9 in the morning, after taking a walk around the neighborhood, my contractions had slowed and were 15 minutes apart. It was incredibly frustrating, and I was exhausted. We all decided it would be best if I could just take a nap (if possible) and try to get some rest. Laura suggested, if I didn't wake up with contractions closer together, going to see my midwife and getting checked out. So after a two hour nap and getting some food down, mom and I went to see the midwives.
  Well wouldn't ya know it? I was 5cm dilated and 80-90% effaced so the midwife sent me straight to the hospital! (Thankfully we brought our bags.) I suppose, for the majority of the universe, being 5cm dilated and almost completely effaced means an impending birth but....not for me. I was barely getting started.
   When we got to the hospital, a nurse hooked me up to monitors to check out baby's heartbeat and almost immediately I had a contraction. The nurse didn't like how much Clementine's heart rate slowed so within minutes of being there, I had an oxygen mask on and an IV improperly jammed into my hand. I know this nurse had the best of intentions but it was really intense. Baby's heart rate is supposed to slow during contractions. She just didn't like how much it slowed and all the sudden I'm being treated like something is wrong with me.
   The IV that she put in so terribly would become one of the most horrifying parts of the following 30 or so hours. I had to take antibiotics every four hours during my labor and everytime it was administered through this jammed IV line, I would scream. I mean....scream. Because (until delivery) I had never, ever felt such an intense and horrible pain. "On fire" wouldn't begin to cover it. I may or may not be allergic to penicillin which may have added to the agony. Anyway....
   My labor remained the same all afternoon and evening. My contractions would oscillate between being frequently infrequent and evenly spaced....just enough to be painful, and just enough to keep me from getting any rest. Again, I labored in bed, I labored on the ball, I even labored in the tub. No change in dilation.
   My midwife offered me pain medication to help me sleep, which I refused. I was going to have this baby without pain meds or BUST.  I took Ambien instead. The idea was that I'd finally get to sleep (this was Tuesday night, and the last I had slept apart from a nap was Sunday night), and I'd either wake up with strong contractions close together or I'd wake up not in labor at all and I could go home.
   Well, that was the plan but nothing about my labor or delivery went according to plan. All the Ambien did was let me sleep between contractions for a few hours. Huge shout out to my mom during all of this. She would get up (she set up camp on the bed in the corner of the room) and comfort me through the contractions when they came. I don't remember much of those hours because of the Ambien but I know she was there (she also managed to read the entire second book of the Hunger Games trilogy during our time in the hospital).
   Laura left at this time too because (I thought) she needed sleep (really, she went and helped deliver another baby!) and because nothing was changing with me.
   This kind of laboring went on all night and into the next morning, by which time I was exhausted and upset and sad and emotional. Thankfully they had not continued to administer the penicillin because it was pretty obvious I was not about to deliver.
   By 7am I was dying to talk to my midwife, Lisa. The midwife that had been on call since I got to the hospital, Kate, was off duty and I just watned to see Lisa and come up with some kind of plan. I was really glad Lisa was the next midwife in. There's just something about her. I had always hoped she would be the one on-call when the time came.
   Lisa got there and we chatted for a bit. Lisa has a midwife in training with her, Gina, that I had always seen whenever I saw Lisa. Gina is awesome. Especially later in this story. So anyway, Lisa and Gina and Laura and I talked for a bit and decided it was time to do something. They knew I didn't want to induce artifically (with pitocin) so we decided it was high-time to break my water.
  Having your water broken is weird. And gross, if you think about it. And uncomfortable. So around 10am, my water was broken and I was ready to go. Normally once the water is broken that's it, right? Like, here comes baby?
   Not when you're me!
   I walked the halls and had some awful contractions and this went on for five more hours. Walking. Contracting. Exhausting. Walking. Sitting on the ball. Contractions. Exhaustion.
   Several hours later I'm checked again and I'm at 5cm and some change and pretty much fully effaced. This was devastating news. Progress had been made but not the kind of progress that breaking water normally brings. It was at this point that the midwives and my doula and my mom and I start talking induction with pitocin. The midwives and Laura were concerned with my level of exhaustion. I had been laboring at this point for over 35 hours.
    I cried. A lot. I felt like a failure. I felt like my body didn't work. I just wanted to talk to Thad. I don't know how, but he ended up calling. I think my mom was texting with the program director and letting him know what was going on so they let him call again. I don't remember much of that conversation, I just remember crying.
    So, in through the despised IV the pitocin went. I was on the exercise ball when they induced and there I stayed for awhile whence the dreaded pitocin-induced contractions came.
    Lemme just put this out there, make it loud and clear: there is no judgment on my behalf of women who use epidurals or pain medication when they've been induced. None whatsoever. They're the sane ones. You go, girls.
    I can only describe the four hours after I was induced as absolute torture. All the mamas that talk about their labor like it was this flowerly moment in their beautiful, incandescent rainbow-filled lives, well....good for you. Not my experience.
    At one point, when I was sure I would rather be dead than to continue on, I looked up and saw the nurse about the administer my next dose of penicillin. I said to her the only thing that I could imagine saying which was, "Kill me." I begged her and begged her and begged her not to give me the penicillin. I could not imagine at that point having anything else going on that was going to feel torturous. But, as you probably have figured out, she had to administer the penicillin and I was ready to jump out the window.
   Once I hit transition I was begging for drugs. I think my mantra was "I can't do this" and "Please give me drugs." Everyone ignored me. At the time, this was frustrating. I think I may have attempted to attack one of them at one point (all that I can recall of this time is extremely fuzzy, out of body, through a strange lens). Looking back I'm glad they didn't. They knew I was close. They knew I wanted an unmedicated labor. They knew. All I knew was pain. And, as with everything else having to do with myself and labor, I was in transition for a long time. Longer than "usual", I've been told.
   Finally, I started pushing that baby on out. I thought that phase of labor took ten minutes but have since discovered I was pushing for nearly an hour.
   Is there any way to describe the horror that is delivering a baby? No. So I won't even try.
   What I will call out is that my midwife Lisa, seeing that I was just plain done, tuckered out, exhausted, and hysterical, did something that was pure genius. When Clementine was almost out in the world, I was ready to give up. Literally. My energy was gone. My strength was gone. My emotional state was a trainwreck. So Lisa gave me the end of a towel and said "The next time you feel like you have to push, I want you to pull on this as hard as you can, like we're playing tug of war." What this accomplished was giving me a) something else to focus on and b) helped me to bear down and utilize all the completely exhausted muscles I needed to use.
   I remember when her head came out, everyone in the room was all emotional and excited and I was just angry. I thought for sure someone would just pull her out but noooooo, I had to keep pushing. And someone told me to look down so I could see my baby and I just thought, listen, whoever you are, get her out of me already! I refused to look, I clearly still had work to do and in my head there was no time for lollygagging. Everyone kept saying really stupid things like "She's almost here!" and all I could think was you're freaking kidding me. Of course, I needed to be told things like that but in the moment I felt like everyone was lying to me.
   Finally, at 730pm, they handed me this slimy, adorable, precious miracle. She barely cried, and she just curled into me, with her eyes wide open and forever crushed my soul. It's true what everyone has been telling me, "Just wait til you see your baby for the first time" and since ya'll have probably heard that as many times as I have I won't continue to expound. You know what I'm sayin.
   She and I spent lots of hours that evening just staring at each other.
   I believe that if I hadn't had the team I had--my doula, Laura, and my midwives, Lisa and Gina, my birth experience could have been absolutely terrible. Those three ladies are miracle workers, through and through.
   The hospital insisted I stay for 24 hours which was incredibly obnoxious. They wanted me to stay for 48 but my midwife got me out of that. 48 hours in the hospital after I'd already been there for two days? No thanks. And anyway 48 hours from when I delivered Thad was in Phoenix and on his way to our house!!
   My dad picked him up from the airport Friday night. Clementine and I were way too tuckered out still for the outside world. I heard him come rushing into the house and then I heard someone washing their hands in the sink. Sweet boy. At first when he held her he couldn't stop laughing because she was rolling her eyes back in her head, trying not to fall asleep. A few minutes later he just fell apart in tears looking at her.
   I was in heaven all weekend. Thad pulled some major dad-duty. I didn't change a single diaper and with very few exceptions, he spent every minute she was awake during the night with her so I could sleep. He would wake me up when she needed to eat and then take her in another room or just rock her all night. He couldn't get enough of her. I have never seen someone so cheerfully change a diaper.
   What REALLY blew me away was how intuitive he was with her. He was the one who configured her little sleeper just right. She doesn't like to sleep in it without the blankets being just so (yes, she's a little princess-y and we love it) and he was the one who figured that out. He became an excellent swaddler. He found ways to change her clothes that didn't upset her. He was just so sweet and gentle and precious with her, and it just came to him. It was such a sight to see. Did I mention he couldn't put her down? Not even to play with his new iPad mini?
   It was really nice having family in town, too. Between my mom and my aunt, Thad and I occasionally got an hour or two to ourselves, which was mostly spent snuggling or catching some sleep.
   Oh and got us iPad mini's. I thought they were cool before I owned one but now I'm slightly obsessed. They're so much lighter and easier to carry. I can throw it in my diaper bag and go, which is obviously an extremely appealing little factoid for me. Dad always gives the best gifts!
   Huge shout out to my brother this year too. His gift was extremely thoughtful. He got me a sampler from Teavana that I can't wait to rip into. I was going to ask for something from there but let's face it, they're expensive and overwhelming but that brother of mine traversed the unknown for me anyway. Thanks, bro.
   My sister in law also got me a book that I've been mesmerized's all about baby food! Frankly I can't wait til she's old enough for me to start making food for her. Breastfeeding is exhausting, but Clemenbaby is starting to get fat on her legs so I guess something is going right....

    Taking Thad to the airport on Wednesday morning was beyond difficult. All I wanted to say was "don't go" but I had the feeling that that would just make things really hard on him so we mostly sat in silence. We sat in the chairs outside security for awhile and he just let me cry all over him. When he left, the old man sitting next to me said "Saying goodbye is always hard. Is he in the military?" which gave me some comic relief. All I managed to do besides simultaneously laugh and cry was shake my head no and say "rehab." Thankfully he just nodded and let me be.
   The rest of that day was really hard. I hadn't been alone to feed, change, feed, re-clothe after blowups, feed, and change until then and all the emotion on top of that was a bit much. Somehow it gets both easier and harder every day.
   That being said, keep us in your prayers. I'm still figuring out this mom-thing and Thad is about to go into a phase of the program that is the most difficult, and there is no contact allowed--meaning he won't be allowed to send or receive letters for the duration of it, which is our only form of communication and I'm tearing up at the thought of it.
   Also, I want to apologize for all the well-wishers in my inbox on my phone and email and facebook that I haven't gotten back to. It's not that I didn't get your sweet messages, it's that I'm exhausted and have my hands full. Just please know I'm so thankful for all the encouragement and love sent our way and I'm mentally thanking you all the time....with my hands full of baby, baby poop, and diapers.
   Anyway, praise God for the past two weeks of our lives. We now have a healthy, GORGEOUS baby and we got to spend Christmas together. God is good.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Most Stressful Non Stress Test Ever

  Well, I'm 39 weeks pregnant. My due date is in 7 days, and Thad comes home for Christmas in 8 days and I couldn't be antsier. I'm at that I'm-so-done stage where it's not even cute when people ask me how far along I am anymore.
   Lots of mamas I've talked to have liked to compliment me on my "poise" or ask me how I'm handling all the insane emotions that often come along with pregnancy. Honestly, I haven't experienced any emotional rollercoasters for no reason, or the ability to cry at the drop of a hat, and I haven't been easily irritated....until now.
   This past week I have been a MESS, by my own standards. I'm easily annoyed, I see babies and I cry....I'm annoying *myself*, really.

   On Monday I had an appt with my midwife and we talked about possibly doing a non-stress test. I haven't felt Clementine move much these days, and although I know it's normal for babies to stop moving as much in prep for labor, and she just doesn't have as much room to move around anymore, with baby its just better safe than sorry. And it's called a NON STRESS test so how bad could it be?
    Horrible. It could be horrible.
    I sat in a chair with monitors strapped to my Clementine Cave and watched a machine read all kinds of things for 15 minutes. And it was nerve-wracking because I don't know how to read these monitors....they could be saying bad things, they could be saying good things, I just had to sit and watch and wait and pray that nothing was wrong.
   After what I think eternity may feel like, a nurse came in, stared at the screen and paper for a sec, declared "She looks great!" turned on her heel and left. Thankfully a midwife came in not too long after and actually explained what was on the screen. She kept saying that Clementine is "wildly reactive" which is apparently a great thing. The funny thing is, I just didn't FEEL her that much in those 15 minutes of torture but apparently she was a busy bee. And all is well. And I'm incredibly thankful.

   Another thing that's had me all in knots is this whole induction business and the timing of the birth and Thad's arrival. He has not yet been informed that he will be coming home for Christmas (they like to mess with the heads of the men in the program, this is just a part of that) but he knows its a possibility. So I told him in my last letter that if I didn't have her by the time he got here, that I would induce labor so that he could meet her.
   Subconsciously, I desperately hoped that he would write back and tell me not to. It took him two weeks to get back to me, but here's what he said:

"About this inducing talk, I don't know beba. You've sold me so completely on natural birth, I am extremely skeptical. Let me put it this way, I don't know how I'd forgive myself if you went into surgery because of me. I do not want you to..."  "I don't think choosing the riskier option is wise. I want for us to both just pray that God will do what He will do and for us to trust He will do what's best. If we are doing our absolute best to trust God, can the ending be ANY better? Even if it's not what either of us "want"? We don't know what's best for ourselves over God. That's my two cents. I love you so dearly and only have our best interests at heart and I know you do too and if you feel God convicting you to do something then I will support you, no matter what."

   So, that's an answer to prayer. I've been going back and forth, back and forth, and having that affirmation from Thad just settles the matter. Neither of us really want to induce, even if we both really just want to get to spend time together with her. We're gonna let her come on her own time. The end.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What a comfort.

    I met with a local doula today that was recommended to me by my midwife. Obviously without the husband around, going with a doula is a no-brainer. If you don't know what doulas are, hop on to her blog--here--and be ready to fall in love.

   After sharing with her the past 37 weeks of my pregnancy, she was willing to go ahead and sign a deal with me even though I don't have the funds up front--and give me a discount on her normal fee. As it turns out, her husband is a local pastor and she's a sister in the Lord. Just speaking with her today eased so much of my birth-related anxiety, it was truly a blessing. And I'm so excited she's going to be a serious support system as I finish up this pregnancy, and even for a few weeks afterwards (home visits??? Yes, please!).

  Now I just have to beg, borrow, and steal to pay her for her services.  Should the Lord move you, that obnoxious paypal button is still living on the sidebar of this page.

   Feel free to come on out now little one!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When is this waddle gonna become a swaddle?

  When Thad first went to No Longer Bound in July, there were quite a few things I had to deal with emotionally. The one that lingered the longest was my anger and straight up fear of going through labor and delivery without the one person I really wanted to be by my side. I was angry that we wouldn't be sharing what will probably be one of the most important moments of our lives together. I was angry that I have to go through something so difficult without him. Obviously, there was a lot for me to work through there.
   So I cried every day for the first 93 days he was gone, like clockwork, thinking about giving birth to our child without him. And I know he prayed for me a lot about that because (other than telling me he was) I certainly wasn't praying about it like I should have, and God rescued me from my anxiety. I don't know when exactly it happened but one day, thinking about this just didn't make me cry anymore. And one day, I just accepted that God's plan is better than mine, even when it doesn't feel like it. Obviously this was God working all these things out in my mind, and I'm really glad that Thad petitioned for Him to do so.

    So when, two weeks ago, after I had clocked out from my shift and I was taking a load off in the back room at work and decided to check my email and got the news from the program director at NLB that they would be allowing Thad to come home for a few days for the holidays, I began bawling hysterically--but my first thought wasn't that he'd get to be here for the birth. I had so emotionally unattached myself from the idea of having him by my side for that that all I could think about was how not terrible Christmas would be this year.

    .....but now it's sunk in. Thad is going to be here for Christmas. My due date is December 20th and he lands the evening of the 21st. And ALL I WANT for Christmas is for my husband to meet my daughter.
   So, enter anxiety. I know--I've heard it over and over--that *most* first-time moms deliver late, around week 41. But if I deliver late, Thad doesn't get to meet his daughter. I know that I live in 2012 so with modern medicine I could just induce labor whenever I want and problem solved....except that I never planned on induction. I never planned on any kind of drug being introduced into my labor/delivery, which is why I'm delivering with a midwife in a birthing center as opposed to an OBGYN in a hospital.

  I'm a big fan of natural birth. I'm a big fan of letting Clementine decide when to make her entrance, and only when she's ready. Thad knows this, and if I could talk to him about all of it I know he'd probably tell me not to induce. But I can't talk to Thad about it--again, the only person I want to talk to about it, and who should have an opinion that counts--because NLB hasn't told Thad he's coming home yet.

   I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I have a decision to make, and I just want to make the right one for Clementine, for Thad, and for me. My prayer is A) for wisdom in making the right choice and B) that she will come right on time and no drugs necessary. In the meantime, I'm gonna do everything that my midwife suggests to bring labor on and try to find the funds to get this lady-- be my support during labor, especially if Thad cannot be there for it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I just want a waffle.

  I'm up at 5am because I had a horrible nightmare I had to wake myself up from. Problem is, I've only gotten 4 hours of sleep but now that I'm awake I'm terribly hungry.
   Why isn't music like this anymore? Where have all the Bing Crosby's gone?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Children are a blessing, right?

   Parenting is hard.
   How do I know this?
   Because parents love to talk about how hard it is.

   Don't get me wrong. When it comes to parenting, I do not for one second think that I know more about parenting than anyone who has kids. I realize I have a kid but she hasn't left the womb yet. I know how uncomfortable and difficult pregnancy can be, but that's it. When people who have kids want to give me advice, I am all ears. I have SO MUCH to learn. When it comes to "parenting" I am still in diapers, too. I love when mamas want to tell me about their experiences, what they've learned along the way, etc. I am the willing student of any parent that wants to talk to me about their children.

  But I'm annoyed.
  I'm annoyed because 95% of the time I talk about something about my baby that I'm looking forward to, there's a parent there eager and waiting to tell me how much there's an aspect of whatever it is I'm talking about that sucks.
  For example:
  Me: "I love my cloth diapers! They are so cute. I can't wait to use them."
  Parent: "Yea, we'll see how you feel in a few months. Just wait til your life revolves around diapers."

  Me: "I felt my baby's butt today through my stomach. It was so cool."
  Parent: "We'll see how you feel about her butt after you've had to wipe it 100 times."

   Me: "I can't wait to dress her up in these outfits!"
  Parent: "Yea she'll hate everything you put her in one day."

   This is no exaggeration. These are real conversations I have had. It happens nearly every day, to the point where I don't want to talk about how excited I am about my child with people who have children. And I was thinking this morning, isn't that a little backwards?

  Shouldn't it be the people that know the joys of parenting that are the quickest to share in my joy, too? It makes me sad and fearful that parenting can take its toll on people's emotions so much that all the joy seems to be eclipsed by all the difficulties. I think that if I asked these well-meaning parents how they felt about their children they would have nothing but love and wonderful things to say...but why is it those are not the quickest things to roll off the tongue? I just don't have that answer yet.

  Here's how I feel about all the hard days I'm gonna have:
  1. I got married, and then I had sex. So basically I signed up for this. I signed up for the backaches, the stretch marks, and the waddling. I signed up for the responsibility of another human being. I signed up for the good days and the bad.
  2. The Bible says that children are a blessing. So first and foremost, on the days when my child has been screaming for hours, I haven't slept, we're both sick, whatever the case may be that is making my day seem unbearable, I hope that I remember that God says children are a blessing--not a burden.
  3. All family relationships require self-sacrifice. God uses these relationships to make us more like him.
  4. There are millions of people in the world who want children who don't have them, and who would happily wipe up the poop off the walls and love to console their teething, screaming child.

   I know that I won't remember these things perfectly. I know that there will be long, dark days of difficulty, and the fact that I will be husband-less for minimally the first six months of all this will just make it that much harder. I know all of these things--but why do parents feel the need to constantly remind me?
   I wish there were more encouragement flowing than there was discouragement, or warnings, or caution signs. I feel like I'm being told "Don't get too excited" all the time. And while I will, 99% of the time, bow to the knowledge of the parents that have gone before me, I just can't do it with this. I will fight to keep my joy. I will fight to love this baby's bottom even after I've wiped it 100 times. I will fight to think these cloth diapers are cute even after I've had to clean them up after explosions. I will fight to love my daughter even when she doesn't love the clothes I put on her. And when I'm having a bad day I will do my best to remember that it's just a day, it's just a down that comes with all the ups, and that I am so so blessed to have this little one in my life at all. And I hope that on the days when I'm feeling discouraged and weak and when I just need a nap, that the older, wiser, parents that have gone before me will be more quick to hand me some encouragement than discouragement.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hello Home Stretch

    My ten days spent in Georgia felt like a month. Never in my life has a week dragged on so slowly, or gone by so quickly at the same time.
    My friends Stacey and Allan renewed their wedding vows the first Sunday I was there, and what was really special to me was that No Longer Bound let Thad (and his roommate, Jason, who is married to my friend Kelly) go because there were several people that work at NLB that were going. It was so nice to get to spend time with him outside of the Bound, especially at such a sweet event in our friend's lives. It was also great because the seating was at the bottom of a steep hill that I never would've gotten my pregnant waddle safely down if Thad hadn't practically carried me.
Kelly&Jason at the renewal
   I also loved getting to spend time with Thad around his buddy Jason. The bond these guys in the program have with each other is really something else. I actually envy it in a lot of ways, and it's extremely encouraging.
  During the week I got to spend time with hands-down one of my favorite families in the entire world, the D'Arienzo's. My friend Laura and her husband Anthony moved down to Georgia a few years ago and I had never been to their home, or met their youngest son Matteo, who turned two the week I was there. Being there was exactly what I needed in a lot of ways, the biggest being that we just got to relax and spend time together and I got to play many games of of cars with Matteo. I also learned lots of Mommy-things, as I got to watch how Laura takes care of her cloth diapers and she sent me home with some great baby books that I need to get read (and fairly quickly as I only have 6 weeks left til my due date).
   I saw Thad during the week as well, as family is welcome to go to church with the men on Wednesday nights. A mother of one of the men in the program (that is particularly dear to our hearts), Mrs. Cheeseman, split some of the driving with Laura to get me there. It was awesome to spend time with her, as she's traveled down this road of addiction for awhile now and we had some awesome conversations.
   It was so fun to go to the Wednesday night service with Thad because the Wednesday night service at the church they go to is more like a concert than anything else....and if you know Thad and I, lifelong members of the frozen chosen, you know that we are a bit out of place in that setting. And if you know Thad and I, you know that we laugh together. We just laugh and laugh and laugh together, even in the most inappropriate of times and places, we just make each other laugh, so basically....we had a really great time. I know that's a strange thing to say about a Wednesday night service, but we just have that effect on each other.
  I stayed with Mrs. Cheeseman that night because the service gets over late and I was an hour away from where Laura lives. Once again, it is so awesome how God uses people and brings people together. She made me feel so at home in her home, and I loved getting to meet her family. It's always nice (and oh-so-encouraging) to build relationships with people who are going thru a similar struggle.
   The final visit Thad and I had was mostly melancholy. Neither of us could escape that it was our last tiny bit of time together before Clementine comes, and that it will be a long, long stretch before we see each other again, or even speak to each other again. I woke up at the hotel Sunday morning at 4am and we just cried until our alarm went off at 6. We trudged somewhat awkwardly through church that day, and through lunch with the guys, and through the following hours of sitting together and waiting for it to be 4 in the afternoon, when I was getting picked up from NLB.
  I felt strangely comforted as we parted ways and since I can't think of how to explain that now, its fairly obvious that it was a divine comforting. I had spent the whole day terrified of that moment and then when it came, I somehow had the strength for it. Thank you, Lord, for that. I only teared up at the airport and on the plane a few times, and didn't even have a major breakdown until yesterday so, God has been good.
    Now that I have no more Georgia trips to plan for, I'm starting to nest...and it's kind of a relief. I don't know why I decided to start washing every article of clothing in my life this week, but I have, and that includes the few articles of clothing I have for Clementine and the couple cloth diapers I have, as well.
   I am SO EXCITED for my baby shower, which is a week from Friday, and it has nothing to do with gifts and everything to do with the fact that I love that a whole bunch of people I love are going to be in the same room with me celebrating Clementine. I'm so excited about her, I love that other people are, too.
  Thank you to everyone for your continuing prayers, especially as I get ready to deliver and as Thad struggles with being separated from us for Clementine's arrival. There is much to be joyful for over here and still a long road ahead for us. All for His glory.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

32 weeks and definitely counting

     Being thirty-two weeks pregnant has brought all kinds of new challenges so far this week. People weren't lying that the second trimester is sort of like a pregnancy "honeymoon." These past couple weeks here in the third trimester have been replete with dizziness, difficulty breathing, silliest appetite, crazy emotions, waddling, and some other details I'll save the general public from. Going to work and being on my feet for six hours is now something I have to mentally prepare myself for, because it's not pretty. Or pleasant. Or remotely enjoyable.

   All that being said, I'm so thankful this little one is in good health and all my aches are your typical pregnancy complaints. God is good.

   Once again, and with the help of some wonderful people, I'm able to head to Georgia this weekend. It's a funny thing to not be sure if I'm excited to go. This last trip I got that question a lot, "Are you excited?" and the answer was a definite "no." I didn't know what to expect from my first visit with Thad and "excitement" was low on the list of emotions.

   I'm excited this time, for sure. The excitement is there. I miss Thad like only someone who's been separated from their husband for months with only snail mail for the occasional comfort can miss their husband. They actually don't make a word for this kind of missing, at least not one that I know about. But the truth is, after we part ways this time, we will not hear or see each other for minimally four months. And during those four months I'm going to deliver our little one, endure the holidays without him, and turn 24.

   At this moment, it feels emotionally insurmountable. It keeps me up at night. I can't talk about it outloud. I'm going to need a lot of encouragement.

   What's great is that I get to visit Thad for two weekends. This upcoming weekend is going to be great, because our friends are renewing their vows Sunday evening AND Thad gets to go. During the week I will be staying with hands down one of the best families in existence, The D'Arienzo's. I haven't gotten to spend time with Laura--who I can only best describe as my long lost sister--in literally years. On Wednesday, I get to connect with the mother of one of Thad's closest friends in the program and she and I will be going to church with the guys from NLB. Basically my ten days in Georgia are stacked full of blessings.

   My mom and sister in law are currently in cahoots planning my baby shower, which is going to be November 16th. I've never had a baby shower before obviously but I'm pretty excited to have lots of my favorite women together in the same room to celebrate my new favorite woman, little Clemenbaby. (Nickname her father uses? Clemskidoodles. We're in trouble.) So if you're a woman and you like my baby, you're totally invited (formal invites haven't gone out yet). I know probably to the chagrin of a few, I decided to register on Amazon. I didn't go with Target or Babys R Us or any of that because I think baby products can be grossly overpriced and also I'm picky. So far, no one has seemed to annoyed with my choice of registry, which you can find here.

   I have never been more excited to meet someone in my life. I dream about this girl. I adore her daily. I can't wait to snuggle her. I can't wait for other people to meet her. She's so buff these days, I feel her wiggling and squiggling and kicking me all the time and I LOVE IT!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Sweet Anonymous

  Sometime earlier this year, someone left a Bible at the store I work in. It sat in the back room, unclaimed, for many months. I picked it up one day on my break and started flipping through it. This bible has been well-loved. It's marked and lined and written in with very, very thoughtful, sweet notes. Every single book, nearly every single page, has been noted or written on. The book of Colossians is falling out. This was someone's Bible, and I don't mean their "I use this on Sundays sometimes" bible, it was their "I live and die by these words" bible.

In the front there was a note that had a name and a phone number so I called that number and asked for the name listed. The person who answered had not lost his bible, and he didn't know anyone else who had, or who had written his name and number in the front of their bible. He offered to ask around and I let him know where I work so if he found out who the bible belonged to, he could direct them my way.

That was several weeks ago and no one has showed up asking for it yet. Which makes me think that the sweet gentleman who owned this bible may or may not currently be with the Lord. I know the person who loved this bible was a guy because he wrote next to a verse in Song of Solomon, "I need to make Teresa feel like this." And yes, I do tear a up a little everytime I think about that.

Admittedly, I'm kind of glad the owner of this bible has not come for it. I've certainly enjoyed reading from it. The notes are thoughtful, and everytime I see something particularly powerful that is underlined, I feel like I'm getting an "Amen!" from a brother or an "Oh, check this verse out". It's so nice reading it and feeling like I'm reading it with a fellow believer. Is that strange?

What Jesus said in John 13 has been weighing on me lately: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." That's such a sweet reminder and a serious command all wrapped in one. I can't help but think of all the loves that have surrounded me lately. My sweet friends David and Julia came to pray with me the night before I left for Georgia and just that simple gesture--can we come pray with you?--meant the world to me, and how sweet to watch them live out John 13:34. And it's not just these two that have shown me this kind of love, its people I both know very well and haven't ever even met face-to-face. But when Jesus is the connective tissue between two people, no matter how far apart, or like the owner of this bible whose name I don't even know, there's such a transcendent closeness and familiarity that I can't quite put my finger on. And why would I want to? Some things are just too special for words.

I know that's its awfully creaturely of me, but I hope that one day I bump into this sweet note-taker when we're both in glory and I get to tell him everything his sweet scribbles meant to me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tall, tall trees and all the water in the seas....

   I've had a hard time figuring out what to say publicly about my first visit with Thad since he went to No Longer Bound in July. So many wonderful people have sent their love and support, and I want to be able to say something. I know beyond any doubt that we have been in so many people's prayers the past several weeks. I can feel it in my bones, and we felt it during our time together as well.

  Truth is, our visit was beyond words. I was not 'excited' to go see him. I was fearful. Our visit could have gone one of two ways: good or horribly, terribly badly. I prayed for a lot of things before/while heading to Georgia and was granted and then some. I didn't ask for all the joy and hope that I came back with. I simply wanted a husband who was going to be truthful and was wanting to reconcile. But the Lord had even better plans in mind for us. We have never felt more blessed than we did during the time we had together. 

   During church on Sunday I had to cry when we sang "Jesus, how I trust him. How I've proved him over and over" because Thad and I are a living example of what Paul was talking about when he wrote, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" The fact that God would choose to use us, and use our terrible situation to be a testimony to his Word is....humbling. Amazing. Hard to wrap my head around. 

   Obviously seeing Thad was my favorite favorite part of going to No Longer Bound but it was also BEYOND words awesome meeting some of the guys there. Seeing him just surrounded by a bunch of guys that genuinely care about him and want nothing but good for him, and both cry and celebrate with him, was just humbling and beautiful and wonderful. Also, getting to meet some of the wives of the men in the program was great, too. And by wives I mean getting to see one of my favorite wives again (I mean you, Speed) as well as getting to meet the wife of one of Thad's favorite guys there. Mrs. Latham is such a wonderful, sweet lady and getting to talk to her on our drive back from church on Sunday was proof-positive that I am so not alone. 

   Now that I've seen him and spoken with him, I've entered a different phase of this process. He is now becoming the kind of man I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with. (Did I mention he's gained THIRTY pounds? He looks amazing.) I don't have anger to 'protect' me from how much I miss him anymore. And I have this unbearable excitement to get a letter in the mail/visit again/for him to graduate so we can be together and be a family again. I'm happy that he is where he is, I'm happy that he has another 8 months of this program to go through, but 8 months feels like such an impossibly long time right now--especially with Clementine's arrival being less than 3 months away. 

  So today, I woke up feeling vulnerable and emotional and just beat down. The weight of the next 8 months decided to sit on my shoulders and park it for awhile. As much as the Lord has granted me peace in many things, sometimes anxiety peeks its head around the corner and tries to hang out with me for awhile. And while I was stressing about silly things like finances and all things new-mommyish, UPS showed up with boxes of baby stuff for me that someone had purchased off my baby registry. 

  If you've ever doubted that the Lord's timing is perfect, just take a look at my life. 

   The fact that someone on the other side of the country was thinking of my precious daughter and I moved me to tears (as I usually am when something comes in the mail for us) and I can't help but feel the Lord's hand behind it all. Don't you love that? When the Lord is just so obviously all over every blessing and second in your life??

  So, I have a very small window to try to visit Thad again before I will be too pregnant to fly. Pray that I can find a way to make it to Georgia at the end of this month. It will be minimally four months before I will be able to see him again after that. And that first visit after those long, four months will be the first time he'll meet his daughter. Can I just say its mildly soul-crushing to contemplate? 

  Thank you to everyone who has kept us in your prayers. Please don't stop now! We still have such a long road ahead but how encouraging is it to know that the Lord answers prayer?

Monday, October 1, 2012

And the gender is......

Looks like we've got a precious little girl on her way. 
Can I just say how excited I am???
I did not know until I was laying in the ultrasound how much I wanted a girl.
And because I can't read ultrasounds I had a moment where
I was sure
I was having a boy
Clementine Jaymes it is.
&we could not be more excited.
Her daddy found out on Saturday
and cried tears of joy
just like I did 
when I found out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Right quick,

Welcome folks, to my third trimester! I cried twice today, can no longer bend over without grimacing, can eat all day without skipping a beat, and am often interuppted during my day by a foot in my ribcage.

This little one is sooooo active! I was truly appalled about a week ago. I had no idea the kicks and wiggles could be so strong--no one told me it was like this!--and thought surely something had to be wrong. But no, I'm just a novice.

Is it strange that I can't get over the fact that my baby is swimming around in water right now? Is it weird that sometimes I feel like I'm smothering the baby?

Anyway, the big gender reveal is on its way! I will finally be able to share with my husband whether we're having a boy or a girl this Saturday, which means I'll then be sharing it with everyone! Which also means, yes, I'm hoppin on a plane to Georgia in just a few short days. If I can ask for your help again, please pray for safe and the most comfortable travel possible (I can't seem to get comfortable *anywhere* these days) but mostly pray that the Gospel be put on display through me this weekend. That is what I desire the most. (I also can't wait to get out of this 100 degree weather but that's secondary.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sixty Days. Don't Hold Your Applause.

    Today marks 60 days since I have seen my husband. I wish I could eloquently describe what that's like but....words fail me.
   What I really wish I could eloquently describe is what the past sixty days of my life have been like. I have in fact lived a lifetime in the past 60 days. I look older, there's no doubt; and so does my little peanut baby.

   The wretch that I am, sixty days ago I was riding a rollercoaster of emotion, none of the least of which was anger. Sadness prevailed at first. The night before I left Georgia I sat outside on the steps of my friends home and had to call my mommy in an attempt to stem the tears. It was, after all, my anniversary. And I was, after all, getting on a plane without my husband.

   But the overwhelming anger I felt towards that was a new thing for me. God let me down. God left me in a ditch. God was driving the car and God sank it in a river. God's plan for me was misery. Or at least, that's what I thought.
   I spent far too many days unable to pray. My faithless, wretched heart did not know what to pray for. Well, I suppose that's not entirely true. I sent up many a word of pleading. Incoherent pleading.

   I don't know when everything changed. It's like CS Lewis said, "Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different." Maybe it was the first time I was able to pray for Thad. Maybe it was when I began to dig myself into the Word again. But the Lord took my hand and allowed me to see. See things that I've always mentally known but never had to emotionally sink my teeth in to.

   Life is not over.  Every day the sun rises. Every day my child grows.
   Every day is filled with blessings, none are too small to not be of comfort, if only I'm willing to put them into perspective.
  I do not control today. No amount of exertion on my part will command the outcome of all of this. My job is to glorify God in all of this. No excuses.
   I have hope. Because I cannot see it does not mean it does not exist.

   How many times have I sang "tis to sweet to trust in Jesus" but spent all of my breaths trusting in myself to get myself through? The fact is is that until now, until God opened my eyes so that I could see, I had not one iota of understanding of what it is to truly trust in the sovereignty of God. The peace that flows from this is beyond words.

   The scriptures bite into my soul like never before. My prayers have taken on a new tone. The Lord has scooped me up off of the floor and given me an entirely new life--both literally and spiritually. What a testament to the mercy of God that he uses evil for good. What a testament to the depravity of man that we so often must be brought to the dirt before we fully lift our eyes to heaven.

  The road before us as a family is a long, winding one, and I don't know where it leads. But I don't need to. I only need know the God that built the road and keeps me safely on the path. And I was oh so wrong just sixty days ago. God's plan for me is not misery and I have not been left in a ditch. I have been lifted up and protected and cared for. This life I live, this next breath I breathe, is mercy. So if what little I've shared of my story crosses your mind, I hope you think of all the love and mercy and protection and wonderful things that have come from the Lord's hand--and don't bother to hold your applause for the God of the universe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Brief Explanation of Why "Over The Rainbow" is an Awesome Song.

1. It answers the question of "where is all this coming from?" ("Somewhere over the rainbow/way up high"). According to the song, it's coming from the Lord. Mmm, providence. Delicious.
2. It references lullabies, which let's face it, most of us don't have extremely sweet memories of but doesn't it sound fanciful and wonderful? C'mon mom, why didn't you sing me more lullabies? ("There's a land that I heard of/Once in a lullaby")
3. It puts to rest that age old question, 'is the sky blue?' Yes, as the song explains, "somewhere over the rainbow/skies are blue."
4. It answers "when am I going to start getting what I really want?" You are going to start getting what you really want when you get to heaven, dear. While here, we will struggle with remaining sin. We will suffer, but our hope remains. ("The dreams that you dare to dream/really do come true" and "troubles melt like lemon drops." There's no crying in heaven!)
5. It addresses the unfortunate reality of our battles with the flesh and reminds us that the best is yet to come. ("Blue birds fly over the rainbow/why oh why can't I?") We aren't fully sanctified yet, but we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the promise of an eternity spent in the presence of the Lord.

Okay maybe that's not what the writer of the song meant, that's just what I hear when I listen to "Over the Rainbow."

Tag this under "Calvinist Filter" and "What I'm thinking about at 2am"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is a 'Bully', anyway?

   I am absolutely confused with our culture's somewhat recent fascination with 'bullying.' From Lady Gaga tweeting things about "bullies" and Dateline NBC doing entire specials on teens who have committed suicide--supposedly because the kids at school were mean to them--I seriously feel like I cannot get away from the horrors of bullying. If you were to believe the media, bullies are everywhere!

   Particularly disturbing to me is that if you google "bullying", the first thing that pops up is a government website. The fact that our tax dollars have gone to the creation of a website--let alone the people behind it--dedicated to "stop bullying" should worry you for several reasons.

1. "Bullying" is subjective. I see examples of this at work all the time. The lazy folk that don't like to work find those of us in management to be "bullies" because we attempt to get work out of them. Even this government website admits that bullying can be "real or perceived." Since when is it the government's job to control or in any way interfere with the perceptions of its contituents?

2. Is this country so dumbed down that we need an entire website to explain the concept of someone who is 'mean'? Are we such a rich country that we can afford to be footing the bill on such an inane project?

3. The most worrisome issue for me is this--how in the world is it the government's job to parent our children? I.E., explain to them what a bully is, how not to be one, and how not to be a 'victim' of one?

    Well here's my theory on all of that. Our culture has become one of such absolute dependence on the government that yes, absolutely, my generation *does* believe that the government should have at least some role in the parenting of our own children. There may be a few reasons for this, but I would postulate that the number one reason for such a sad, dismal, pathetic, minimal view of parenting is that our parents neglected to parent us.

    You see, I was one of the minority in high school in that my parents were still married. Or even that my parents ARE married, or that they LIVE TOGETHER, made me a minority. Is it really such a shock then that we are a generation of kids who do the most minimal work possible, and believe that the government should step in and buy us the things we can't, because we don't want to put in the work to get better jobs and better our own lives? Is it such a surprise when we have children with our summer flings and an entire generation of people is being murdered in the womb or raised by single mothers?

   I hear adults lament the stupidity of my generation constantly and yes...we are incredibly stupid. Look at the suit and tie that we elected to the White House all because he had an artsy poster and MTV subliminally told us to. But, may I ask, what was our example? Was it the generation before us, that screamed loudly from the rooftops that they didn't care what their president did to that intern, it's his business! Was it the parents who stayed together, honored marriage, and taught us responsibility?

    I am surrounded by girls my age whose hearts are broken over their father's desertion. An entire generation of men who refused to raise their children--and then we act surprised when the children act like they were never raised.

   I am surrounded by girls who feel 'empowered' to take on single motherhood because their moms did it. These are the same girls who feel 'empowered' to have sex with whoever they want and to party all weekend because our society has tried to tell them that they can have it all. Their hearts aren't scarred. Their fatherless children aren't affected.

What a bunch of lies.

Anyway, I digress.

   The point is, it should be *in the home* that children are raised. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." It is the parents job to teach children the difference between right and wrong, how to behave, how to interact appropriately with other children, not our school system. I find it hilarious that the same people who scream for education reform are the ones gagging the system with seminars on "bullying." When did it become the government's job to train our children how to be nice?

 I would submit to you that the "bullies" I knew in grade school were often the kids I watched linger on their walk home because "home" wasn't so much of a great place to be. Bullies often learn how best to bully from their parents....and by parents I mean, mom and this week's "boyfriend." Or mom and dad on the verge of divorce. Or how about....just mom?

    We are a culture of no-responsibility. No responsiblity for the parents to train their children, no responsiblity for the children to own their actions. Is it such a surprise how many of our neighbors live off welfare? Living a life of no responsiblity comes now with a government check attached, and when their kids turn out to be lifelong members of the jail system, we get to pay for their kids, too!

    The culture of self-love has turned us into a bunch of hateful, lazy, government dependent, undereduated and overfed people who constantly have our hands out for everything. The culture of 'me' has made us the kind of parents that can't even raise our own children with some semblance of respect for others, and then we turn around and wait for the government to "fix" it for us.

   My recommendation? Parents: get married, stay married. Demonstrate respect for your spouse in your home, and I bet the kids you send off to school will be much less likely to be "bullies" or to be a victim of bullying (also less likely to be a victim of bad grades and jail time). Kiddos: Show respect, get respect. Don't like what your classmate says about you? Congratulations, welcome to the real world, where not everyone you meet is going to want to be your friend.

    Ultimately, any 'goodness' to be found in any person, no matter how they are raised, is a sign of God's grace and restraining hand. This must be acknowledged. I do believe that no matter how much training or discipline or Godly parenting anyone undergoes, ultimately the 'good' in any person is a blessing from the Lord.

I am thankful for my parents, who stayed together, who showed each other respect and love in the home, and thus taught my brother and I respect.

Please don't get me wrong....I feel for children. Being a child is hard, especially considering that children can often be so harsh and mean to one another (Psalm 51:5 "Surely, I was born a sinner..."). Mostly I just wanted to address what the government's role in all of this is....and how it's disturbing that think they have a role in 'parenting' children at all.

On a completely different note, I want to say thank you to everyone (and there were a lot of you, so I'm sorry I didn't get to say this to you individually) who have poured out your prayers after reading my last blog post. The support and kind words have been so invaluable and comforting to me. Please continue to pray, and thank the Lord especially for all the wonderful work He is doing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Second Most Difficult Blog Post I'll Ever Write

Dear blog readers,

I do not know who you are. I know you're pretty faithful, and I appreciate that. So this is why it's so difficult for me to write what I'm about to.

The end of June through this very day have been the darkest days I have ever endured. Some of you know the story, and some of you don't. The simplest breakdown I can give right now is this: My husband will be here for the next 9 months: No Longer Bound. I am hoping that this is the 2nd most difficult blog post I ever write because a year from now, with the Lord's hand, we will arrive safely on the other side of this darkness and I hope that we can be a testimony to His work, and we can share our story with other families affected by addiction.

Until then, I am very much a struggling servant of the Lord. Thankfully, my wonderful parents are providing food and shelter to my baby and I while Thad is away and I am a single-income parent. They also provide love and emotional support that is and will continue to be invaluable as Thad will not be here for the arrival of our child. 

I am writing this all to ask for a blessing. I found out today that I have been dropped from my insurance due to not having worked a sufficient amount of hours between June and now. Unfortunately, I am only physically capable of working part-time with the pregnancy, and the month of July and much of August was put on hold in an effort to get Thad sober and into the right program. Between the baby's prenatal visits, and Thad's trip to the ER, I have over $15,000 in medical bills staring me in the face. 

I applied for something called COBRA benefits today, which means a $300 a month payment to apply coverage to the months that I was uncovered. However, that payment equals half of my monthly income and I will not be financially capable of continuing to pay for that coverage.

I am uncomfortable asking for financial support. I like to work and earn my wage. So instead I must thank God that he is using these life events to teach me some humility. Obivously, the Lord knows I need it. Furthermore, I find myself capable of doing things now that I have someone else to look after that I would not have been able to do before, and not having medical coverage for my child a mom, that spurs me on to try any avenue to remedy the situation possible. 

If the Lord so moves you to bless us in this way, I am humbly and with more gratitude than I can express, adding a button that would allow any size donation to be made possible on the right hand side of the page.

Please know that any dollar amount will be put strictly towards re-establishing medical coverage for my baby and I and towards our medical bills.

All for His glory,


Monday, September 3, 2012

Dear Baby in my Belly,

I have never seen your face but I imagine your little shape laying next to me all the time. In fact, I look forward to the moments we will have alone, laying side by side, more than I have ever looked forward to anything this side of heaven. So you'll forgive me if sometimes I wish you would just be born already; but don't get me wrong, this is fun, too. I love when you wiggle and squirm and kick and punch me and let me know how feisty you are--already.

I promise to honor and protect every precious inch of you that is in my charge to the best of my ability for all of my days. I read somewhere the other day that all children belong to God and we (parents) just get to care for them for awhile. As sad as it already makes me to contemplate the idea that you are not 100% mine, how much better is it to contemplate the fact that you are 100% God's FIRST, and then you are mine? What a comfort. I'm so glad God chose me to have you. I don't think you'll know until you have your own children just how blessed that makes me feel.

You have never breathed in air through your own lungs and yet you have already saved me in many, many ways. In fact, sometimes I think you get me out of bed in the morning. As tired and cramped and out of breath and nauseous as I may feel, you keep me moving. You remind me to eat and to drink water and to take care of myself like I may otherwise have been incapable of doing at this time in my life.

You aren't just a blessing to my body, no matter what the stretch marks and headaches may have to say, you are a blessing to my mind. You make me think happy thoughts. You keep my mind busy with plans and dreams and hopes for you. You make me see a happy future, when no one else could possibly do that for me right now.

You have also blessed my soul. In my desire to be a good mommy to you, I see a yearning in my heart to be closer to God that is made of something completely other. A yearning that is completely new. I can't lead you to the Lord if I can't draw near, either, and this has spurred me on to a much more disciplined thought and prayer life. It is a totally new thing to "take every thought captive" when I know I have a little human being depending on me and my soundness of mind.

Can I just say that I have never wanted to impress someone more in my ENTIRE life? Man oh man do I hope you think I'm just the coolest. I remember how I used to think my parents were like, insane. Like, no one could possibly be as strong/smart/funny/intelligent as they were. I remember when my mom would pick me up with one arm just thinking, I bet she can do anything! Ever!

I want to be the mommy that can do anything, ever, for you. And not just in the daily ins-and-outs of being your mom--although I hear that it's the "daily" part of motherhood that is the hardest--I want to do the hard things for you, too. I want to cultivate the kind of relationship with you that is going to leave a lasting impression on you--in a good way. I hope you can say the kinds of things about me at my funeral that my dad had to say about his mom. Things like, maybe you didn't grow up with the nicest house on the block or all the money in the world, but you grew up seeing the fear of the Lord demonstrated. That you grew up in the knowledge of the Lord. I hope all of that is true while simultaneously you'll be able to say that I never chose a pinterest perfect home over getting in pillow fights, that I never cared more about doing the dishes than helping with homework and that I never made you feel guilty for spilling on the carpet.

I hope when I fail you, or let you down, as I inevitably will do, that you know my heart better than you know my mistakes. I hope you'll be able to see past any grumpiness or moodiness and know that no matter how tired or spread thin, I love you and I am imperfect creature.

I hope you share your heart breaks with me and your joys. I hope you'll always be annoyed when I put your grades on the fridge and when I'm 50, I'll still have something you draw for me five years from now. Because that's what parents do. We're annoying and we're superhuman and we're imperfect and we love you til our bones break. Aren't we just the worst sometimes?

I hope you get to have the kind of relationship with my parents that I have gotten to have with my grandparents. They are crazy, but they love you, too.

Basically, I can't wait for you to get here. I don't care that it's gonna hurt, I don't care that I'm gonna lose lots of sleep and will probably be covered in a myriad of different body fluids, I don't care that I won't have this awesome head of pregnant hair anymore, I just want you to be laying next to me and I know this is weird but I can't wait to find out if you have my feet. I'll explain one day.

So, I hope you're comfy in there (one of us should be), and please stay in for as long as you have to, but know that the next 15 weeks are going to crawl by for me. I just can't wait to be the mommy that God planned for you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

CS Lewis on Forgiveness

We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed " I believe in the forgiveness of sins." I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. "If one is a Christian," I thought " of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying." But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that easily slips away if we don't keep on polishing it up.
We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord's Prayer, it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don't forgive you will not be forgiven. No exceptions to it. He doesn't say that we are to forgive other people's sins, provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don't we shall be forgiven none of our own.

Now it seems to me that we often make a mistake both about God's forgiveness of our sins and about the forgiveness we are told to offer to other people's sins. Take it first about God's forgiveness, I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, "Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what at first seemed to be the sins turns out to be really nobody's fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call "asking God's forgiveness" very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some "extenuating circumstances." We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don't cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves without own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.

There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real "extenuating circumstances" there is no fear that He will overlook them. Often He must know many excuses that we have never even thought of, and therefore humble souls will, after death, have the delightful surprise of discovering that on certain occasions they sinned much less than they thought. All the real excusing He will do. What we have got to take to Him is the inexcusable bit, the sin. We are only wasting our time talking about all the parts which can (we think) be excused. When you go to a Dr. you show him the bit of you that is wrong - say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs and throat and eyes are all right. You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really right, the doctor will know that.

The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless He is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that is not forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.

When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn't mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart - every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God's forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people's we do not accept them easily enough. As regards my own sins it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men's sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought. But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine per cent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one per cent of guilt that is left over. To excuse, what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

--C. S. lewis

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thoughts on Hosting My Love for the Past 6 Months

It is so WEIRD to think that I've had my baby in me now for six months. Of course, I've only been conscious of the little one for the past five, but still....five months. It sounds like an eternity. In a lot of ways it has felt like an eternity, too.

Mostly however, time has flown. I still feel like I'm "barely" pregnant. I still feel like I have no idea what pregnancy even is. And the closer I come to my due date, the more unprepared I feel. Don't even get me started on putting together a baby registry. It's like someone said to me: "Make a list of what you need to build this AC unit" when I've never built an AC unit before. I get the basic concept of an air conditioner and how it works, but that doesn't make me prepared to list the parts I'd need. Part of me just wants to say, buy me whatever you think I need! But that's scary, too.

I've felt the peanut moving and rolling and kicking and stretching for the past four weeks now, and the movements are just getting stronger and more intense every day. No one told me how weird this is. The impression I always got was "its pretty cool" and "it happens every now and then", not "your baby will kick you so hard you'll lose your balance" or "your baby will move so much you'll think something is wrong." I mean seriously baby, are you trying to get out? Where are you going?

Getting up from laying down is probably a hilarious sight, and it's also extremely uncomfortable. My back hurts 24/7, and while I'm not waddling yet I'm definitely doing more of a hobble than a walk these days.

My mom has taken to talking to my, a lot. She says things, then waits, and responds, and says more things. It doesn't matter that I am standing there, or sitting there, or trying to watch TV, or on my way out the door. I must stop for this ritual and wait.

I was supposed to meet my midwife two weeks ago, but had to reschedule. I'm sincerely hoping that I get to meet her tomorrow.

My mom also purchased a dresser for extra space for baby stuff. She saw a bright yellow dresser for sale, and thankfully, she thought of me. For the first 24 hours I couldn't decide if I thought it was hideous or wonderful, but the longer it's burned the color out of my retinas, the more I've fall in love with it.

It is currently empty save two cloth diapers (thanks Vicki!), a pair of shoes my mom couldn't pass up, and a few white onesies. 

I *finally* LOOK pregnant. I can't tell you how tired I was of just looking fat. It's pretty clear now, though, although I keep getting "you don't look six months pregnant" which can be both flattering and annoying. Every pregnancy is different, or so I'm told, so it's hard to say what I should or shouldn't look like. And of course it's not that I desire to look like I'm carrying a beach ball or anything, but at least I don't feel it's necessary to squint at me anymore and wonder if I just ate a lot of pasta the night before or if I'm with child. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm Going to Pretend That

waking up tomorrow isn't going to be incredibly difficult.

I la la love birthdays, I love celebrating mine, and I really love celebrating the birthdays of the people I love. I love making a big deal out of other people's birthdays, especially when said person doesn't want to. I don't know why, I can't help it. I think everyone should love their birthday. You were granted a whole extra year of life! What's not to celebrate?

So two years ago tomorrow, I made a big huge deal out of someone's birthday who's answer to "What do you want to do for your birthday?" is always, "Nothing." Similarly, "What do you want for your birthday?" "Don't get me anything." So Anita and I hung a giant, obnoxious sign in the corner of our kitchen that said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and I dug around to find out his favorite kind of cake and I scoured every grocery store in a ten mile radius for the right german chocolate.

It was the big 21 for him and I had decided to wait a couple months earlier to get my license changed from the obnixous UNDER 21/vertical one to the over 21 so we could go to the DMV together. I introduced him to the Vegas Roll at Ra before we went to the DMV and made each other feel as awkward as possible when we got our license pictures taken. I invited a few of his friends over without telling him and surprised him with his cake. He had never had a surprise party before. And I was so happy that day. What's better than making someone's birthday? And what's better than knowing that I was totally his favorite part of his birthday? And I was even happier after the cake, when he asked me to be his girlfriend and kissed me for the first time.

So tomorrow is that sweet boy's 23rd birthday and the two year anniversary of having my heart completely and totally and for the first time for realsies stolen. And oh, I can't explain the ache of not being able to share it with him because he's over on the other side of the country, out of sight, out of reach, out of my hands. I won't even be able to call, or send a card.

But I'm choosing to take solace in that I can send a prayer. I can pray that he knows me well enough to know that if he were home, I'd do something as annoying as always, and I'd make sure he knew that I am so thankful for another year of his life.

Despite the circumstances, there is a lot to be thankful for tomorrow. Thankful that he made it to 23, thankful that he gets another birthday. Thankful that he's completely in the Lord's hands. Thankful that he's in such a great place, even if its nowhere near me.

Today I'm thankful that the Lord died for us, tore the veil, and forever lives to intercede for us. Today I'm thankful that the Spirit intercedes for us in our prayers, because I sometimes don't know what to be praying for. My prayer for tomorrow is that my thankfulness far exceeds my grief--and that if its possible, that boy I sat in the DMV with just two short years ago has a happy happy birthday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Asked the Lord

This hymn.....whoa.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”