Friday, April 30, 2010

From "Is That You?" To "If It Is...Then Thank You, God!"

I've been thoroughly and utterly confused for the last couple of weeks.  Whenever anyone asks me if I'm feeling the baby move yet, I never know how to answer.  I've definitely been feeling "something" for the last couple of weeks.  I want to believe that I've been feeling the baby this whole time.  But I haven't felt like I could definitely 100% claim "Yes!  That's it!  I just felt the baby!".  There were a couple of times when I felt really confident that I had experienced movement...but then I would fart (I apologize if that's too much information).  So I kept looking down at my belly and asking "Is that you?".

At first, it started out as a question of blissful wonderment.  I would ask the question to the baby in my belly, smiling and gently rubbing that spot.  I even remember experiencing what seemed like a true "jab" last week when I made a joke to one of my students, and I remember thinking that perhaps the baby thought it was really funny...or totally stupid (of course, recognizing all along that even if the baby can start hearing sounds at this point, that he/she can't discern what is and isn't funny yet).  But then I realized that I was farting shortly after the presumed-movement, and the innocent "Is that you?" question started to develop a tone of frustration.  I really didn't know (and well, still don't know) if that was indeed movement...or just gas.

But something changed today.  Physically, yes, I noticed that I was experiencing a similar (if not the same) sensation as early...minus the fart.  I take that as a good sign.  But more importantly--something in my response changed...emotionally.  Instead of directing the "Is that you?" question to an unborn baby...I directed my confusion--and yet possible appreciation--to God, the only One who really knows what's going on inside of my body.  Instead of pondering over what I was experiencing and trying to pin-point exactly what it is, I simply thanked God, thinking "If this is the baby moving...then Thank You, God!". 

I repeated this prayer out-loud on the drive home...and I could swear that I got another "jab" as I got the final "Thank You" out of my mouth.  As I sit here and type this, I pay close attention to any little sensation at all, making a mental note of it all.  Still, I don't know if I can claim each every twinge and pull and roll as "baby".  But if feels better to simply thank God for the possibility...rather than question His mysterious miracles.  In the meantime, I pray for patience until I can be sure...and for wisdom to know how to discern exactly what I'm feeling.

Today's blessing was the chance to get caught up (and dare I say...ahead?) at work.  I intentionally scheduled a light day, and was able to accomplish a lot of little projects that I had been putting off at this busy time of the year.  But things should slow down a bit next week, and then taper off as we head into the summer.  The end of this school year is in sight!  As one of my students said today:  "The countdown has begun".

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off Schedule

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts this week.  Nothing is terribly wrong, but I feel like I'm off schedule...and it's throwing me off. 

First, my parents went on a well-deserved vacation...and were out of cell phone range.  My mom is really my "go-to person" whenever I'm feeling down, and I wasn't able to talk to her all week until they got back into coverage just a bit ago.

Second, LOST was a rerun this week!  For the last couple of seasons, they have promised all new episodes, and I'm not too proud to admit that I plan my Tuesdays around the show.  It wasn't even one of those recap types of shows when you may learn something that you was a full-on rerun.

Third, and most significantly, I didn't get to see the baby this week.  I had gotten so extremely accustomed to seeing the baby every two weeks--all the way from 8 to 16.  I told myself two weeks ago that I could wait three weeks.  Now I'm kicking myself that I didn't take my doctor up on the offer to come in this week.  At the time, I was riding high on my comfort level roller coaster and was confident that I could handle I'm not so sure.  I don't know if I have a legitimate reason to be concerned and worried...but I am.  For starters, I haven't seen the baby since the fainting episode.  I want to trust that the nurse was right, and that I was just overheated, so I've been guzzling water like crazy.  Also, I experienced some shooting pains in my lower abdomen on Monday, and have noticed them to a lesser degree on and off today as well.  Although they were noticeable, they were pretty mild, and I'm tempted to believe that they were round ligaments stretching.  From what I've read, they seem to match the description.  But it will be so reassuring to see the baby again on Wednesday...

Overall, this was one of the busier and crazier weeks at work.  But I made it through Thursday, and tomorrow should be easier (not to mention I get to leave early because I stayed late last night).  Once I make it through tomorrow, it will be the weekend.  And then it will be May...and a new LOST on Tuesday...and a chance to finally see the baby again on Wednesday.  May 5th can't get here soon enough...but I feel like it's finally in sight.

Today's blessing is simply being able to talk to my mom again.  I am reminded of just how much I appreciate her and need her whenever I'm not able to connect with her.  She spent a lot of time on her vacation knitting a baby blanket and looking forward to being a grandmother.  I pray that God bless her as she looks forward to this new chapter in her life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Broken Wings

Along this journey, there are some days when I feel like I'm flying with broken wings...

I'm mostly in tact, but little pieces of me are missing...

 For the most part, I get by okay, even with the broken and missing pieces...

A lot of people would never guess that I'm surviving with broken wings...
But I know how hard it is to fly and soar with a carefree spirit when part of you is missing...

I know what it's like to wish to be fully perfect...

And I know what it's like to hope, despite having broken wings...

I'm blessed to be surrounded by beauty, even on days when I feel broken.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thank You, Nice Grocery Check-Out Lady!

I remember when I first got engaged and started wearing my engagement ring.  I don't wear much jewelry on a regular basis, and up until that point, I hadn't worn any sort of ring in years.  But suddenly, I felt like I was a part of a special "left hand club".  I remember walking to a staff meeting the next day after getting engaged, and admiring my new accessory as it sparkled in the sun, and secretly wondering if anyone else noticed it as I passed.  It's not that it's a big or fancy ring--rather, it's that I had something to distinguish me as being a member of the "engaged community"...and was soon to be a member of the "married community".

Yesterday, I felt like I officially transitioned into the "pregnant community"--at least in the eyes of society.  I stopped to pick up some groceries, and the very nice grocery check-out lady asked when I was expecting.  It was the first time that a total stranger noticed my belly and asked about our pregnancy.  I couldn't help but smile for being recognized as a member of the "pregnancy club".  Just as my engagement ring changed my sense of identity four years belly is now once again changing my sense of identity as I look forward to being a member of the "mommy community" in the coming months.

Today's blessing was a good Monday in what could be my busiest week of the semester.  I'm really hoping to keep my stress level to a minimum this week, so it feels good to have one day down.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Between

If I had to make a guess, I would predict that I have about 20 pairs of pants in my closet, give or take a few.  But here's the thing.  I have them in two different locations...well, three locations now. 

First, I have my pants that I'm currently wearing (read:  "currently fit into") hanging up.  These were purchased over a span of about five years.  Some were pre-wedding when I was at my normal weight (I can even think of one pair of slacks and one set of jeans that were purchased prior to meeting my husband); and others were more recent purchases from when I decided that I was going to live in the moment and wear what fit.  In fact, I have a new pair of khakis in size 4 that I bought right after finding out I was pregnant--perhaps a silly purchase, but I needed something to wear that fit at the time (and in fact, they are cut low enough that I could still wear them this week).

Second, I have that pile of pants on my top shelf that I started when I realized that it was sillly for me (and unflattering) to continually pull the belt tighter after losing so much weight after applying my RE's recommendations.  Back in December, I declared that I was going to live in the moment and put those ill-fitting pants aside and buy some pants that fit.  I never threw those pants out, because I was hoping that I would indeed get pregnant again and would eventually be able to wear them again.

And now, I have a third pile.  This, too, is up on the top shelf, right next to the other pile. I now have my pile of pants that no longer fit...because they are too tight in the waist.  I'm finding that they'll fit one week...and then they won't button by the next time I wear them.  I'm "cheating" and wearing them zipped-up but not buttoned, and then just hoping that my shirt is long enough to cover my secret (and praying that I don't move in a funy way to cause the zipper to become undone).  Once they won't button, I wash them...and then place them on the third pile, praying that I won't see them again until at least late-September (though really I shouldn't need to wear them until January when I plan to go back to work).

So I've got my three piles...but I'm still in this weird "in between" phase.  I pulled the first pair down from Pile #2 on Wednesday when I needed to dress up for an end-of-the-year dinner for my leadership group.  They were a size 12 pair of cotton slacks that I had purchased last summer with my sister-in-law.  They fit easily around my belly...but the waistline of the pants didn't necessarily wanted to follow the waistline of my bump.  So instead, I ended up with a belt, and constantly readjusting them to try to fit the right way.  The next day, I wore my size 4 khakis.  They are cut low enough that I could even button them still (now truth be told, I undid the button as soon as I got in the car for my drive home...okay, I undid the zipper too, but that's because my belly seems to "settle" throughout the day).  A colleague at work (who is extremely supportive and understanding of our journey) even marvelled that I was fitting into my regular pants.

I realize that neither pair of aforementioned pants is an ideal fit.  I know that I'll come to a point of dropping some serious cash on maternity clothes here soon.  But I resist for two reasons.  First, I'm cheap (or as my grandma would say, "frugal").  Don't get me wrong--I love to shop!  But I just hate to "waste" money.  And it kind of feels like "wasting" money when I have a pile of pants in my closet that will fit (at least well enough to cover what's least for another month or so).  And second...I've never bought anything for a pregnancy before.  I (naively) bought a book of baby names when we first started trying, but I haven't purchased anything since then (other than medication...and ice cream).  I guess that after three losses, it's just kind of scary still...while at the same time, also extremely exciting.  I guess I just feel like I need a little bit more confirmation...perhaps I'll give myself the opportunity to shop freely and buy to my heart's content after our next appointment on May 5th.

Today's blessing is the chance to attend the bridal shower of one of my former students.  This woman is so beautiful and so wise beyond her years.  I met her during her first year of college, and could already tell at that point that she was something special.  She met her future-husband in their freshman writing course...and have been together ever since.  Weeks before she got engaged (during her Spring Break as a senior in college), she asked me if I was glad that I waited so long to get married (I was 28 at the time), to which I had to laugh and tell her that it wasn't by was just a matter of (finally!) finding the right guy.  She shared that she feels like this guy is truly the "right guy", and shared that they didn't have the drama that so many other couples their age experience.  And she's right--he is a great guy, and he's totally the right guy for him...just as she is the right bride for him.  She's a beautiful woman, and I know that she will be a beautiful bride and a beautiful wife.  I'm blessed to have her--and so many other amazing students like her--in my life.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chain of Events

I had a bit of an "ah-ha" moment the other night while I was doing my bible study (and even if you don't consider yourself a Christian, please bear with me, because I think that this can still be applicable).  I've been reading Romans lately, and I know that I've read these verses before, but they really seemed to resonate with me this time:

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  (Romans 5:3-5)

As I read through the verses, I couldn't help but think of the chain of events in my own experience that led from suffering, to perseverance, to character, and finally, to hope.  I know that I read these verse after our first loss--more than a year ago now--but I finally saw the truth behind the concept just the other night.  Bear with me as I dissect my experience through these phases.

Suffering:  Check.  Three losses provided me ample suffering.  The first loss alone was enough to totally shake my foundation.  I remember that my even my heart physically hurt.  I know that it is common to refer to a "broken heart" for all sorts of disappointments, but I literally felt pain in my heart as I physically and emotionally suffered each loss.  I was at my absolutely lowest--not once, not twice, but three times.  Yes, I most definitely experienced suffering.

Perseverance:  Like I said, I experienced suffering--time and time again.  But that's the thing--it happened time and time again.  And yet, I kept showing up--time and time again.  I remember telling my husband after the first loss that I couldn't do it again--and I meant it 100% at the time.  I really did.  I did not think that I could ever handle even the possibility of losing another baby.  And yet, we persevered in our attempts to start a family...thus resulting in more loss.  And yet I kept showing up, loss after loss after loss.  I persevered and tried for a fourth pregnancy.  That just doesn't make a lot of human sense.  Humans are supposed to be able to learn from pain.  Sure, maybe it's understandable to try again after one loss.  But after two, any "normal" person would call it quits.  After three losses, some may even consider me a glutton for pain.  So what would cause me to try again, to persevere?  I'm not a glutton for pain.  I really don't like pain.  But I want so dearly to be a mother, and I believe that my perseverance can only come from God.  And so, I persevered in our journey.

Character:  I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good person.  For the most part, I feel that my husband, my family, my friends, and my students "like" me.  A few speeding tickets aside, I've never been in trouble with the law.  I try to smile at people when our paths cross.  Overall, I think I'm doing pretty well.  But up until our losses, I don't think that God was doing anything "significant" in my life (or perhaps I was resisting what He was trying to do).  I think that I had been "learning" all along, but hadn't actually been "growing" until only recently.  But in this last year or so, I've seen God do so much in my life.  As I persevered through the suffering, I really believe that He truly changed my character--and for the better.  I'm noticing a new sense of patience, understanding, and compassion in everything that I do--namely in my relationships with my husband, my family, my friends, and my students.  Yes, all of those people who I had previously assumed "liked" me--I now have this whole new appreciation for them.  I know that this character development came from God, and I now understand that He could only make these character adjustments when I was persevering--day by day.

Hope:  I've reflected on the concept of hope at various points through my journey.  First, I discussed how I felt "faith-ful" but "hope-less".  Well now I get it!  I hadn't worked through the suffering, perseverance, or character pieces yet at that time--no wonder I was struggling with hope!  But more recently, I shared that I felt a new sense of hope.  Perhaps that's because I was finally coming to that end result after this ongoing chain of events.  But it was only possible for me to get to a feeling of hope after the character changes...which only happened after persevering...which only happened after suffering.  Of the four, I can't help but like the hope the best.

It's taken me a long time to get here--and just as long to recognize this process.  But I do feel like I'm finally getting somewhere.  No, I may not always feel 100% comfortable, but I feel like it's a start to understand this journey on a different level.

Today's blessing is a spring rain.  It smells so good outside, and I hope that this means that the desert will stay green and blooming for a little bit longer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Comfort Level Roller Coaster

In my appointment last week, our doctor asked how I was feeling, and I shared that I was truly starting to feel more comfortable with believing that this pregnancy is indeed progressing normally...and yet that it scares me to get so comfortable.  Even after the betas doubling, the heartbeat, the positive Ultrascreen, and each subsequent beautiful ultrasound, I still have this lingering bit of fear that something bad could happen.

I don't feel like I'm "consumed" by this fear.  On a day to day basis, I'm overall happy and super excited about this baby.  I love watching my belly grow.  I love feeling "something" and wondering if it's the baby.  I love that I'm always hungry and I always have to pee.  I love being pregnant.  But I don't know if I'll ever be 100% comfortable. 

Sometimes I start to feel like I'm there...and then I'll have a moment--like when I fainted on Sunday--and the fear starts creeping back in a bit.  It's like I'm on a "comfort level roller coaster"--for the most part, I'm totally enjoying the ride.  It's full of adventure and excitement and I'm tempted to let go of the safety bar and throw up my hands and surrender to the joy that I can't help but feel.  But every once in a while, the ride will take a quick turn or a sudden drop, and it gets my heart racing again.  And although I know that God--my "safety bar" in this analogy--will protect me, I still have to cling to Him with white knuckles...all along while I'm wishing that I could stand confidently in His presence.

I'm 17 weeks...further than I've ever been before.  I'm more excited than ever before, and I also have more to lose than ever before.  I may never be 100% comfortable, but I am 100% sure that God loves me and has a plan for me.  Oh how I pray that He keep me and this baby safe on this roller coaster for the 23 weeks to come.

Today's blessing is a peaceful, beautiful Spring morning in the desert.  I went to bed earlier than normal last night, so woke up earlier than normal this morning.  As I type this, I'm looking out the window at an amazing blooming desert.  For any non-desert dwellers out there who think that the desert is "brown and dirty and ugly", you'd think that you were in Ireland these days.  I know that it won't last for long, but the ocotillo and creosote are blooming, and everything else is a vibrant shade a green.  It really is a beautiful blessing to see.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So I Fainted in Church This Morning...

So I fainted in church this morning.  My husband wasn't with me, but two of our friends were.  It was uncharacteristically warm and muggy in church today (it's usually on the cooler side).  During the second song of the second set of songs, I could tell that I wasn't feeling well.  I sat down, but my world kept swimming.  I know I passed out/blacked out/fainted...because I recognize that I "woke up" with a nice older couple who sat down on one side of me to check on me and my friend sitting on the other side.  The same song was still playing, so I know I wasn't out long.  And because I had already sat down, I didn't fall or anything like that.  The nice old woman fanned me with the bulletin, and then returned to her seat when I told her I was feeling better.  I stepped outside to get some nuts, dried fruit, and water from my car--and recognized that it was much cooler outside than inside...which isn't how it's supposed to be in mid-April in the desert.  I returned for the rest of the service, but I admit that my mind was on the baby instead of the message. 

I ate breakfast this morning before church, and I ate a good amount yesterday.  Perhaps I didn't drink as much water yesterday as I should (I'm really good about my water intake during work days when I have a schedule, but I find that it's harder during the weekend).  I had already planned on visiting with my very-dear friend after church, and she really is the best person for me in situations like this.  She and her husband (both doctors) didn't think that it was too much cause for alarm, but she suggested that I definitely mention it to my doctor during the next appointment.  We agreed that it wouldn't hurt to call and leave a message for my doctor tomorrow, since our next appointment isn't until May 5th.

I have passed out a few times in the past, and I often get light-headed when I stand up too quickly.  But it does concern me that I passed out while pregnant.  My very-dear friend reassured me that our bodies will do whatever is necessary to protect the baby, so I want to trust that everything is okay.  It was nice that God let me find a penny in the grocery store parking lot when I stopped on the way home--perhaps that's His way of letting me know that everything will be okay.  The church picnic is scheduled for this afternoon, and it would have been nice to go, but I opted to just come home and relax and be good to my body and to this baby.

**Update:  I called the clinic this morning to convey my experience, and a very friendly nurse from my OB/GYN clinic called me back.  She told me that I did the right thing in calling, and agreed that it was very likely that I fainted due to the heat.  She reminded me to continue to hydrate--especially as we head into summer in the dester--so I've been guzzling water all day long.  They'll put a note in my file and I'll be sure to talk to my doctor about it when I see her on May 5th, but the plan is to just be careful for now.  Please pray that everything is indeed normal and that the baby is safe.
Today's blessing was the chance to have a really nice talk with my very-dear friend about our pregnancies.  Our experiences are so different, and yet we've been able to learn so much from each other.  God truly blessed me when He brought her into my life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Are You.......?

I've told a handful of close colleagues at work about our pregnancy, but I haven't shared it with everyone.  And to be totally honest, there are some individuals with whom I just don't feel comfortable bringing up the topic...nor do I want to announce it at a staff meeting. 

But my belly is continuing to get bigger, so there is no denying that I'm pregnant.  The other day, a colleague asked if she could ask me a personal question.  When I responded in the affirmative, she asked "Are you....?" and just let the question hanging. 

It's kind of nice to be noticed.  I'm not big enough to get the "extra special pregnancy treatment" (I'm told that everyone smiles and opens doors for pregnant women all day long), but apparently I'm big enough for cause someone to ask if I'm pregnant...and not just fat.

Today's blessing is "grilled cheese and soup" type of weather.  I absolutely love the sunshine (hence why I moved to Arizona after grad school in rainy Oregon), but every once in a while, it's nice to see some clouds roll in. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

70% Sure

We saw our doctor again today--and more significantly, we got to the see the baby.  My husband wasn't at the last appointment, so it's been four weeks since he's been around for the ultrasound.  Our baby looks so much more like a "baby" at 16 weeks than he/she did at 12 weeks.  Don't get me wrong--it was a beautiful image at 12 weeks too!  But fingers and toes and face are so much more well defined now.

During the ultrasound, she pointed out the umbilical cord, and I mentioned that my mother-in-law had thought the umbilical cord was "boy parts" when she noticed it (until I pointed out that it would be in a really weird location if it were indeed "his package" protruding from his abdomen).  When I mentioned this, the doctor offered to try to determine the gender.  Although the baby was moving around a lot, she couldn't ever truly capture the shot she wanted in order to confirm.  So she shared that she was "70% sure"...but we'll know more at the big anatomy scan on May 5th.

Yep...May 5th...three weeks from now.  The doctor asked if I wanted to come back in two weeks, but since I knew that we would be scheduling the anatomy scan in 2-3 weeks, I figured that it was "unnecessary" to have two appointments within days of each other (as we did at 12 weeks, and then days later for the Ultrascreen to test for Downs Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities).  So I'm going to be brave(r) and  (more) patient and (try to) wait the three weeks instead of two.  It has been such a blessing to see the baby every two weeks, but my doctor keeps reassuring me that everything is "totally normal", and I guess I want to be able to act that way.  Also, I absolutely LOVE seeing the baby, but I wonder if such frequent ultrasounds are kind of like a "crutch" for my faith.  It's easy (well, "easier") to trust God when I can visibly see that the baby is growing--but I want my faith to be constant, and not just in two-week intervals.    So three weeks it is (and besides, that also gets me past the extremely busy time at work).

Today's blessing is my group of student leaders who make my job so fulfilling.  I see most students once per year, or maybe once per semester.  But I get to see this group of students at least once per week--sometimes even twice.  I've known them each since their Freshman year, and it's so fun to see the types of leaders they have become since that time.  I shared our news with them last week, as they were making plans for selecting new members, and were counting on my involvement for the Fall.  Although they are now (kindly) wondering what they will do without me while I'm on maternity leave during the Fall semester, they are really excited for us in a "I'm still in college and can't think that far ahead...but it's still really cool for you" kind of way.  It's nice to know that our larger leadership organization for first-year students will be in good hands with them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First (Good) Dream

I was excited to wake up in the middle of the night last night to realize that I had just experienced my first (good) dream about the baby.  After various nightmares during all four pregnancies, it was really sweet to actually dream about the baby. 

I don't remember many of the details...something about putting a baby girl in a carseat in my parents' old station wagon.  I'm not necessarily saying that this means the baby is a girl--I think I know where that part of the dream comes from.  Absolutely everyone who has an opinion--from the nurse who schedules my appointments to my mother-in-law--has shared that they believe that the baby is a boy.  My husband even refers to the baby as "Junior"--typically denoting a boy--though he says that he would be perfectly happy with a girl as well (he's rather just saying that the baby is a "junior" version of us).  But I told my mom a few weeks ago that I wanted to use her first name as the middle name if the baby is a girl.  She was extremely touched, and shared with me yesterday that she is now really hoping for a girl.  So I know that I had "baby girl" on the brain when I went to bed--even though I would also be perfectly happy with either a boy or a girl.

There are some dreams from which I awake and it really bothers me that I can't remember the details--but this one was different.  In the dream, the baby was happy and healthy.  That's all I could really hope for--the rest of the details can wait.  I couldn't help but smile (on my way to the bathroom for the second time that night).

Today's blessing is having my husband home.  Yes, I know I shared it yesterday, but that was before he arrived.  His flight ended up being about an hour late, but he is worth the wait.  He shared with me how much he missed me, and then rubbed my belly and said "I missed you, too".  After a bit of a slow start, it's such a blessing to watch him bond with the baby.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Last week, God put it on my heart to reach out to my best guy-friend from college.  This guy was one of my best friends throughout all four years of my undergrad.  We lived just down the hall from each other during our freshman year, were involved in the same leadership organization, became RAs together, and he even lived in a tent in my backyard for a couple of weeks during our senior year when he returned from his study abroad experience.  I feel like we truly had that "platonic friendship" that college students always debate can really exist between guys and girls.  The last time that I saw him was about three years ago when he and his wife stayed at our place en route to their new life on the East Coast.

Like I said, God put it on my hear to reach out to him.  He has been married to his amazing wife for about five years now, and his sister just had a I asked (hesitantly) if he had been getting the "you're next" kind of comments.  From our own experience, I know how hurtful this question can be--but I felt like I had the type of relationship with him to ask it (and in my note to him, I even said "I ask this hesitantly--because I know that it has caused me pain in the past as well").  I then went on to share our story of loss and our new hope with this pregnancy.  I also affirmed that although the traditional path may be "love, marriage, baby carriage", I also realize that he's never been the type to do things in the conventional way (like I said, he lived in a tent in my backyard), so I apologized if I was making up stories in my head about him and his wife.

But his response confirmed that I had intuitively picked up on something.  He and his wife had struggled for 18 months to conceive, only to lose that pregnancy.  When I met this guy during our first year of college, I never imagined that we would both experience such sorrow and loss.  He shared his appreciation for me reaching out to him, and went on to mention that his wife is open to talking about her experience.  So even though I know him better (she attended a different school so I've really only interacted with her a handful of times), I reached out to her as well.

Reading her story gave me goosebumps.  It is so unreal how similar our stories are--right down to how we both lost our first pregnancies on our husband's birthdays.  That just doesn't happen.  What are the odds?  Unreal--that's the only word I can think of to describe it.  Unreal.

I never thought that God would use me this way.  My friend's wife brought up such a valid point--it's so "taboo" to talk about these things, and yet God put it on my heart to contact them to say "hey...I don't know if you're dealing with this or not...but we have...we are still dealing with it...and if you are by chance struggling with it...then I'm here for you".  That's a hard conversation to bring up out of the blue.  And yet, I did.  I'm not usually that brave, so I know that the prompting to do so could only come from God's gentle voice.  I wonder how many other challenging conversations He has intended for me...

Today's blessing is that my husband is finally coming home.  As I write these, he's at the airport waiting for his flight.  I'm usually totally fine with his regular five-day Monday-through-Friday types of trips, but this was a Monday-through-Friday trip that encompassed two weeks instead of one.  It sounds like he'll travel again in June, but until then, I'm blessed to have him home with me for a while.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Not Something I'm Choosing To Do

My very-dear friend posted pictures of their most recent ultrasound on facebook, and went as far as to make one of the photos her profile picture as well.  That's great for her.  It really is.  I believe that every pregnant women has the right to share their pregnancy as they see fit. But it's not something I'm choosing to do.

Before I go any further, let me first state that I respect that women have a choice in what they choose to share.  I was a Communication major in college, so I totally value the freedom of speech.  I'm not saying that anyone is "bad" or "wrong" for sharing a pregnancy through social networking sites.  I'm simply saying that I have chosen not to share my pregnancy through facebook.

In the last three years that have brought us to where we are now, I admit that I have "hidden" pregnant friends on facebook before.  I'm not necessarily "proud" of my behavior.  But in between the trying and the losses, it sometimes just got to be too much for me.  While I was happy for them, and glad that God blessed them with their pregnancies, I just couldn't bear to look at all of their beautiful ultrasound pictures and bulging belly shots.  To be honest, I was jealous of what they had.  And even though I know that not a single one of them intended to cause me pain, it still hurt to look at their announcements and pictures.  The profiles of the women who were due around the same time as me were the hardest to handle.

And so, I choose not to make a facebook announcement.  I don't want to cause anyone the sort of pain that I experienced.  Now that we are in the second trimester, I have reached out to a larger handful of friends to share our news with them.  I just don't want anyone to be caught off guard the way in a hurtful way.

And yet, I realize that there are some things that I can't control.  The same day that she posted her ultrasound pictures, my very-dear friend also posted pictures from the family Easter extravaganza, in which my baby bump is barely starting to show.  My husband (who hasn't seen me since last week) could tell that there was a baby bump, but I don't know how many others would guess (or would even care to look at pictures of me).  While I realize that I could "un-tag" the pictures of me, that almost feels like I'm trying to "hide" this pregnancy--and that's not what I'm trying to do either.  Rather, I'm simply choosing not to publicize my pregnancy on facebook (and I do recognize and appreciate that my very-dear friend, knowing our history and my state of being "cautiously optimistic", did not draw any extra attention to my baby or my bump with any additional tags).

Again, it's perfectly fine to share a pregnancy on facebook.  Please don't be offended if you have basked in the glow of endless comments wishing you congratulations, or if you are anxiously looking forward to some clever way to announce a pregnancy in the future.  It's your right, and you've definitely "earned" it.  I'm just simply sharing that it's not something I'm choosing to do.

Today's blessing isn't so much for me, as it is for my husband.  He's still on the East Coast for work, but he gets to reconnect with his former roommate/best man tonight in DC for a Phillies/Nationals game (the former roommate/best man is from Pennsylvania, but is now living in DC, so this is the perfect game for him.  He's an amazing guy and was so welcoming of me when I started dating my husband, and I'm so glad that my husband will have a chance to reconnect with him tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Silly Precautions

Ever since finding out that I am pregnant, I've been taking some precautions.  After three losses, I find myself trying to be extra careful.  Sure, I follow all of the "what to eat/what not to eat" guidelines and such, but there are a few other silly precautions that I've taken on as well.  I am fully aware that some (okay, probably all of these) are so entirely completely unnecessary...and yet I continue to observe them.

First...I haven't licked an envelope since finding out I'm pregnant, for fear of random toxins in the glue.  In the last few weeks, I've have so many students contact me to ask for letters of recommendation--which I am more than happy to provide.  But instead of holding the envelope up to my mouth and wetting the glue with my tongue, I lick my finger and wet the glue that way.  If I need more saliva, I lick a different finger (just in case).  Yes, my fingers are probably just as nasty...but I can't bring myself to lick the glue.

Second...I try to avoid the microwave as much as possible.  If I do need to heat something up, I hit the "start" button, and then hurry to the other side of the room.  I'm sure that the safety of microwaves has improved dramatically since they were first introduced, but I figure it doesn't hurt to stay far away from them, just in case they do indeed send out some sort of "waves" that could hinder the baby's development. 

Third...I cover my nose and mouth if there is any sort of fumes that I think could be bad.  My husband and I were driving in to church a couple of weeks ago, and we happened to be stopped at a red light behind a historic hot-rod car which was exempt from the same air quality regulations as most other cars.  I covered my nose and mouth with my sweater, and my husband sweetly turned off the air so that we weren't inhaling the black smoke that was billowing out of the car.  I even do the same thing when writing with a Sharpie marker. 

Fourth (and probably the most ridiculous)...after having that bad dream, I avoided a certain bathroom stall at work.  I could argue that the first three silly precautions may have some validity behind them, but this precaution is totally 100% mental.  (But I am proud to share that I used that stall last week--although I admit that it was more out of "necessity" rather than "bravery").

And poor husband has had to be "patient in the bedroom".  Even though the RE told us at 8 weeks that it was totally fine, I asked my husband to wait.  At the time, I was still on the progesterone supplements.  Those continued until 12 weeks, so I kind of had an "excuse".  Then when I went off the progesterone, I was concerned that my body may react to the lack thereof, so I wanted to wait a bit to see if there would be any spotting (thankfully, there wasn't).  My husband left last Monday when I hit the 14 week mark, and will be back this Friday.  I know that it should be perfectly fine to return to those sorts of activities, but I'm just a little bit scared to do anything that could be potentially damaging.  It's not that I don't want to be intimate with my husband--because I really do.  It's just that I'm concerned about doing anything that could possibly jeopardize the baby and his/her environment.

Like I said, I realize that these silly precautions are probably so entirely unnecessary, and plenty of people will probably think that I'm completely ridiculous.  I honestly hope that I can look back 25 weeks from now and laugh at myself (and I hope that my husband will understand and laugh along with me).  Sadly, after experiencing three losses, I don't feel that I can be totally "care-free", even in the second trimester.  Even though I recognize that these are probably totally unnecessary, I admit that I'll probably continue to follow them.  I just want to keep this baby growing inside of me.  I wonder if there are any other silly precautions that any of you are observing and are brave enough to share...

It was a couple of days ago now, but I wanted to share that I was blessed on Easter to be "adopted" by my very-dear friend's family.  I was initially disappointed that I wouldn't be able to celebrate Easter with my husband, but when my very-dear friend realized that I would be alone, she immediately insisted that I join her family.  Their family tradition is to celebrate with a picnic, so we headed out to her parents' property in the mountains for delicious food, fun games, and amazing scenery.  It really is a blessing to be so accepted and welcomed--especially on special holidays.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I Wonder...

The other night while I was doing my devotional time, I had a thought...or a breakthrough...or an ah-ha moment--whatever you want to call it.  I started to wonder if God ever gets tired of me bringing all of my worries to Him.

For the most part, I feel like I've done pretty good in the "worry department" with this pregnancy.  I was definitely anxious before the first ultrasound.  And I admit that I start to have some doubts and fears creep into my mind in the last few days leading up to the subsequent appointments.  But for the most part, I was feeling like I was doing a good job of bringing my fears and worries to God.  We've all heard that phrase--"bring your fears and worries to God"--before, right?  We say it as a "good thing" (and maybe it it--just bear with me in my thought process).  I guess that I would definitely say that it is better than the alternative--which I guess would be to hold on to our fears and worries and let them manifest in our hearts and minds as they blow out of proportion and cause us to lash out at those who love us or make us retreat from those who care for us. 

But I started to think about how I am trying to hand over my fears and worries about this pregnancy to God...and I started to wonder if He ever "gets tired" (for lack of a better term) of me not trusting Him to take care of what He has promised.  I thought about it in human terms (and maybe that's my problem, since God is clearly not human).  Let's take my husband and our finances, for example.  My husband handles all of the finances in our household.  He sets the budget, he pays the bills, he moves money around to ensure that we have enough each month.  Ultimately, I do indeed trust him with our finances (just as I trust God's plan for my life).  But if I "brought my fears and worries" about our finances to my husband on a day-to-day basis, saying "Honey, really--I trust you--but I just wanted you to know that I'm scared about the finances"...he'd kindly reassure me the first day...roll his eyes the second day...and then--honestly--probably get exasperated with me by the third day and shriek "Why can't you just trust me?!?!".  Okay, so I can't really imagine God "shrieking" at me...but I wonder if He ever feels the urge to say "Laura, please, I've told you time and time again--yes, I really will take care of please just trust Me".

Like I said, I realize that God is not human...and maybe that's my problem.  I know that the patience that He has for me is beyond human comprehension.  And really...I do trust Him!  So why do I continue to have this worry?  And is having doubt and fear and worry an indication that I really don't trust Him as much as I thought?  As I said in the beginning of this post, I definitely feel that my worry levels are is that perhaps indicative of Him working in my life when I do bring my worries to Him?  I don't really have any answers, but I would be interested in your thoughts and reactions.  These are just some thoughts that I wonder...

Today's blessing is the chance to explore the botanical gardens with a colleague from the other side of campus.  I met with her on Monday to work on a project, and when I mentioned that my husband was out of town, she gleefully suggested that we should do something.  Although I often stay longer to chat with her after our meetings, I've never done anything "social" with her, so it was a nice invitation and I'm looking forward to a nice day of desert plants and flowers.  The free tickets to the botanical gardens are also a blessing--they were from a former colleague when she moved and wouldn't be able to use them.  This former colleague continues to be a strong influence in my life, as she also struggles with her journey to add another child to her family.  We started worked together before either of us got married, and though our struggles a bit different, I totally appreciate that she understands and supports me--both personally and professionally.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Telling the Big Boss Lady

After our appointment on Wednesday, I figured it was finally time to share our news with the "big boss lady".  I had told my immediate supervisor about this pregnancy from the very beginning, as I felt she deserved the right to know why I kept coming in late after beta draws and leaving early to pick up meds.  My immediate supervisor has been extremely understanding and supportive of me throughout our whole journey--in fact, she was the one to pick me up from the hospital after our first loss when my husband was still out of town and my mom's flight hadn't yet arrived.  On the other hand, our big boss lady really cares...but really doesn't have any sort of internal filter, so I admit that I was a little concerned about the chat.

I guess you could say that I started laying the foundation for our chat a couple of weeks ago.  I stopped by her office on my way to the breakroom for lunch to mention something about the student organization I advise, and she commented on my weight loss and asked if it was difficult to keep up with my healthy eating (notice that this was a few weeks ago before the bump emerged).  I've worked with this women for three years, and yet it wasn't until that point that I felt safe enough to tell her that I had experienced three losses, so the goal behind the healthy eating wasn't to lose weight, but rather to maintain a healthy pregnancy.  I was impressed with her reaction (or should I say lack thereof).  She nodded in understanding as she processed the information, and simply said that she was proud of me for taking care of myself.  If I remember correctly, this conversation was shortly after our first ultrasound at 8 weeks, so I knew that our pregnancy was off to a good start...but I definitely wasn't ready to go public at the time.

Since then, the big boss lady made the comment to my supervisor about how she thought I had a baby bump, so I figured that was my opportunity.  I needed to chat with her anyway (again, about the student organization I advise), so I started with the business stuff first.  Then I brought up her comment to my supervisor...and confirmed her suspicion.  She broke out into a genuine smile and gave me a big hug.  I also honestly shared with her that I don't plan to make a big announcement at a staff meeting...nor do I want my colleagues creating a "guess the gender" chart on the dry-erase board in the breakroom.  Perhaps I'm just being cautious or overly sensitive, but I guess I just feel like my pregnancy is a little too private...and too special.  I don't want people to treat it the same way they do their office poll basketball tournament brackets...even if it is only for "bragging rights".  So essentially, I asked her to treat me and my pregnancy as if it were "business as usual".  Slowly but surely, I'll either tell my other colleagues...or they'll figure it out on their own.

She may be lacking in the areas of sensitivity at times, but I know that she genuinely cares about me.  So I do think that I did the right thing in telling her.  And in her role, she needs to know--especially as we look ahead to planning the Fall semester.  But at the same time, it's just a little bit scary to know that our news is out there...with a woman who doesn't always know when to keep her mouth shut. 

I was blessed yesterday to have the chance to hang out with our whole circle of friends from church to celebrate the birthday of my very-dear friend's husband (who, by the way, loved her gift).  It was a little sad to be the "seventh wheel" since my husband is still on the East Coast, but it was still great to have the whole group together again.  These are the three women who have known about and prayed for my pregnancy since Day 1, and I couldn't help but think to myself that it was really nice to have them know and get excited about my bump.  I'm so blessed to have friends with whom I can be my real self.