Thursday, October 31, 2013

What it Takes

2nd Trimester started this week.
The nausea (in particular, the middle of the night nausea), aversions and gagging unfortunately have not left with it. That's been disappointing. Though I do seem to recall that 14 weeks was not the magic number during my pregnancy with Aquaman. It was 16 weeks. So there's still hope.

"Freezie Friday" at the pool
But something wonderful DID happen at the start of the 2nd trimester.
The brain fog began to lift.
For the first time in a long while, this Monday morning I came to work  with a clear head.
It wasn't just the lack of caffeine all this time (still can't stomach even the smell of coffee).
That was a relief, and a sign of things to come.

The weather was hot, and it cooled off beautifully, and now it's kind of hot again.
But the end of that is in sight too. The humidity is all but gone. And another cooldown comes round by the end of this weekend. All in all I am nothing but excited about the prospect of November.

How is it November again?

A hug that Aquaman didn't want. He gets those a lot from his little brother.

Last week, Aquaman came home with his first report card, and this week, JT and I attended our first ever parent/teacher conference.
There should probably be a rule about having your first parent teacher conference when you're pregnant. It's not a fair representation of who you really are.
The teacher did nothing but talk about how wonderful Aquaman is, and all I could do was try to keep the tears from spilling out of my eyes, and my voice from cracking.

It was about as great as any first conference could go. I am so proud of our little guy. I am relieved to know, that at least with the first one, though there will certainly be moments and times, school seems like it's going to be a rather smooth process.

I dreaded public school. Almost from the moment I knew I was pregnant, and that I would have no choice but to be a working mother.
Especially from the moment I knew I would be having a boy. I still have my serious doubts in the overloaded system, but so far it has been nothing but a positive experience for our son.

He is good at fitting into what is expected of him.Though many many things have not been easy for him, school, for the most part, is not going to be hard for him. That's a relief.

The growth I have seen in him since he started is breathtaking. I go back and forth between wondering if he just hit some magical age of maturity, or if being in this structured setting is what is bringing all of this out in him. I think it's both.
But there is something about the independence of it. His realizing he is capable of standing on his own two feet. Of being someone outside of just our son. He's always been shockingly confident in who he is as a person, what he likes and dislikes. He's also always second guessed his actual abilities. Now he's finding that he can stand the test.

His teacher said she handed him a book and told him he could read it. He turned bright red, and told her: "but I CAN'T read." and then proceeded to read the entire thing to her.
He complains that his writing is slow, but that is because he refuses to rush through and do it haphazardly. He erases and works until it looks good, even if he misses some free center time.
I admire him in that. I never had that kind of patience.
playing with crab bait with his friend from school.
Last week he chose the art center, and made his teacher a purple heart, and left it on her desk.
"hearts mean love", he told me later.
This week, she said he asked for it back, and then proceeded to write: "I love you!" on it. She said he "put an exclamation point at the end because that means you're really excited about something."
How would that not make a pregnant mother cry? I mean, seriously, not fair.
I love that boy, and all that he is becoming.
But one of my favorite parts of the night was overhearing JT talking about the conference with Aquaman afterward. He was telling him all the good things the teacher had said about him, but at the end he said "but you know, even if school was very hard for you and you weren't good at it, we'd still be so proud of you."
"I KNOW!" said Aquaman, and I could almost hear the eye roll.
I love my family.

I love the way Aquaman colored his toenails with a blue pen.

And the way the Dude so painstakingly painted only the very top of his pumpkin.

I love that after we finished painting our pumpkins, and set back to look at them, they admired my swirled up colored pathetic looking pumpkin as if it was a work of art, and said they wished they could paint as well as me, even though mine didn't look any different from theirs.
Just because I made it, so it must be something special.

I love the way JT let the Dude ride on his back while we carved our goofy looking pumpkin that ended up growing mold after 3 days, and didn't even make it to Halloween.

With the lifting of the brain fog, the lingering pukey feeling, and the unpredictible emotions, this week I fully entered the "am I good enough?" phase of pregnancy.
You know, the one where you wonder if you have any right to have another child.
Are you providing well enough for the ones that you already have? Will you be able to care for them all adequately? Give them the proper attention?

Keep them all clean?? (especially if it's another boy, no wait, especially if this one's a girl!)

I also exited that phase this same week.

I'm not good enough.
And I don't have to be.

We considered briefly a move to a bigger home on the mainland when we found out we were expecting this one. By briefly, I mean about 5 minutes. Thankfully we were on the same page about that. We love the schools here. We love our neighborhood. Our proximity to our church. We love our little cozy townhome.

It's not for everyone to live in a 2 bedroom with 3 small children.
But for us, it just feels right.

All it really means is you have to have less stuff. And we don't have the money for much stuff anyway.

We always said we were going to fill our home with people, and not things.

I do struggle sometimes in finding the balance between wisdom and faith in these things.
But as in parenting in which I choose to err on the side of grace, in life choices, I have chosen to err on the side of faith.

It seems that the more we step out, the more reassurance God gives us.
Maybe it is just my emotions, but I have been seeing over and over again the gift of God's provision lately.
Some of it has come financially: a paycheck I forgot was coming the same week my car had to have some major repairs.
Some of it has come emotionally: an email from my boss, copied to her boss, thanking me for the work that I do under the radar, at the exact same moment that I was sitting at my desk, battling the nausea, wondering if anything I do really matters at all.
The sweet nursery workers at church raving about how adorable and helpful my boys are when I came to pick them up, feeling lonely and isolated because my husband was at work again.

This has been a wonderful, incapacitating pregnancy, in that God has shown me his favor and his grace over and over again, even as I struggle to maintain my composure, and keep one foot in front of the other.
He has reminded me that ALL the gifts we have been given are directly from Him. And an outpouring of His love.
We have been given so many gifts. The incalculable gift of childcare from our parents. Financial gifts galore.
Sometimes I am humbled by that, and almost ashamed by that.

"But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

Then He reminds me that it's all a gift from Him. Not just the many gifts we have been given by other people, but the ability to go to work.

The ability to provide for our family is NEVER from our own hand.

It's all from Him.

"He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
-Jim Elliott

And none of it is really ours either.
Not the stuff, not the money, not those precious little boys riding the Digger, or the littlest one that every so often reminds me that he/she is there with a sudden flip.

We can't keep it. And we can't keep them. But we can invest it in the things of God. And we can invest the love of God into them.
That's all we can really do.
And I know I can do that.
By the grace of God, I can do that.

This year started out so hard. I had the vision that it would be a hard year, and it did not let me down.
But somewhere along the way, through the hard, the view got better.
The road stayed bumpy, but our hearts grew steadier.

"What if your blessings come through rain drops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise."

This song has spoken to me so many times in the past several years.
And it has proven to be so true, and so real.
I don't regret even one of these sleepless nights with my boys.
I know, if this little one is anything like the other 2, I'm in for a thousand more (and that's before they hit their teen years).

And I know He's near.

Maybe God knows that 2000 sleepless nights are just right for me.

What I do know, is that it's all mercy, though it looks like pain. That healing comes through many many tears. And that we'd never see the blessing if it wasn't for the rain.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Kick in the Face

 Last weekend I felt better for all of about 4 days. My energy came back, the nausea waned, and I started to think I was in the clear.
Thanks to Asher's teacher's brilliant idea of putting food coloring in the water table at school, Aquaman and The Dude kept busy enough playing to let me finally get the kitchen clean. It took 4 days to get the refrigerator, cabinets, and cupboards bleached, wiped down, and reorganized. Then I look around at the rest of the house, and I got tired again...
That's why I didn't blog last week. I knew that burst of energy and lack of disgust for the kitchen probably wasn't here to stay, and figured I'd better take advantage of it.
Thursday and Friday the weather was beautiful. Friday morning we walked to school and the boys insisted on wearing jackets.
My camera's broken, and while I decide whether to have it repaired, cheap-phone photos will have to do.
They work pretty well.
We met Noni and Papa and the V crew at the zoo on Saturday morning and had a great time. In the morning it felt a tad like fall.
By noon when we left, it was decidedly summer.
I'm tired of summer. It makes me nauseous. .
Oh wait, that's the baby.

Today I am back to being able to do just about....nothing.
My 12 week appointment was this morning, and it was amazing. It lasted exactly 20 minutes from when I walked in the door of the office. I gained 2 pounds, which I'm surprised was not more because even though food mostly disgusts me, I can't stop eating it, thinking somehow it will help, and I can't seem to eat healthy food at all. Then again, it was a morning weight.
The doctor wasn't there, as he was delivering a baby, so I saw the nurse practitioner who warned me she doesn't do this very often so she might not be able to pick up the heartbeat since I'm still pretty early. We heard it right away. And about 10 seconds into listening to that wonderful sound, we heard another one: "BOOM!" and then again: "BOOM!"
The baby was kicking the Doppler.
The best part about it was, I realized that those tiny feelings like a bubble is popping inside of me were indeed the baby, as I had been wondering.
The nurse practitioner said she'd never heard a 12 week baby kick the doppler before, but I wasn't entirely surprised. He/she is going to fit right into our family.

JT told me the story when we were dating that when he was in the Turks and Caicos swimming between the islands, a large shark came swimming towards him. He was at least 1/2 a mile from shore and nowhere to go. I asked him what he did. He said he curled up into a ball and when the shark came close, he kicked him right in the face.
My husband kicked a shark in the face. 
And the best part is, he gets really embarrassed when I tell that story. 

And so far, all of my children are following in those footsteps, in their own way.

The week at Sunday School, Aquaman made a picture for his best friend at school. He wrote his name on it and then glued the bible verse onto it, about loving with the love of God.
When he gave it to his friend, his friend said he didn't like it, because *eww* it said the word Love in it.
Aquaman cried.
Aquaman cries a lot. And sometimes he has to be urged forward. But the thing about Aquaman, is that he always gets back up and keeps going, even if he's afraid, and maybe especially if he's afraid.
It was a great opportunity to tell him that his friend may very well not know about God's love, which completely shocked him. He resolved that he would tell him.
The Dude is a mini JT. He will kick many a shark in the face, I surmise.
At my 20 minute appt this morning, I was armed with new recommendations for dealing with this crippling nausea, and the new realization of just how real and amazing this life, the size of a plum, growing inside of me is.

I stopped off at the beach and held this sweet baby A, who is hardly a baby anymore, and whom I was terrified would not remember me, but she reached right out with a big beautiful grin and held me and we all sat on the beach together for a while.
I'm not getting much accomplished right now, on the outside. The boys are playing in homemade quicksand (back to Pinterest), dinner is in the oven, and I hope I can survive the smell of it, because the take out bills are getting ridiculous. The laundry is put away, but the floor still needs to be vacuumed and the bathrooms are begging to be cleaned, and there is certainly something more important I should be doing.

But after today, those few short seconds of whoosh-whoosh-whoosh and those two big BOOMS, I feel like I'm doing pretty important just sitting here drinking my ginger ale.
I'm not doing anything, but I'm letting God do it...inside of me. I've stopped striving, I'm being still.

I'm knowing that He alone is God, the creator of the miracle of life. The One who will be exalted-both in Heaven, and here on earth, even surrounded by all the dripped off quicksand and cracker crumbs and in this pathetic and weary body that is just barely starting to show, and just barely keeping it all together.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Struggle

It's hard for me to write right now. The nausea has improved dramatically. I am mostly not concerned about getting sick anymore. It's awesome. The overwhelming fatigue still remains. The obsession with food combined with aversion to thinking about it remains. It's strange, but thinking about what I am going to make for dinner or lunch is often more disgusting and nauseating to me than actually making or eating it. Cooking is still hard. But shopping is harder.
Headaches are becoming a frequent occurrence.
But mostly, I am just barely putting one foot in front of the other, and that's why it's hard to write right now. Because when I am not actively giving the boys some attention, or struggling to make or clean up meal after meal, or putting away the laundry, I don't feel like I can sit up. I have to lay down. It's very strange, and I'm glad first trimester is almost over. I remember some older lady at church remarking to me when I had to sit down during first trimester: "oh, honey, you are going to be in trouble if you already have to sit down!" I don't even remember who it was, but I still don't like her. It was my first pregnancy, and it totally scared me.
But now I know better. First trimester just stinks. And there's nothing wrong with sitting down a lot through it.
This is the extent of our fall decorations, but it's enough for me. The boys mainly throw the squashes all over the house, but the apple cider candle smells sooo good and fallish. And we're enjoying our fall library books, even as we shutter the house and try not to overheat from Florida October.
The evenings are the only time when it doesn't all feel like a colossal joke. The Dude and Cozy and I take our walks without even breaking a sweat, and the clouds swirl around in a perfectly Halloweenish way.
Zoo mornings are shady and pleasant, and we pretend that we're on vacation.
Sailing boats.
Eating pretzels.
And checking out the very friendly (and hungry) wildlife.
Other than the weekly trip to the zoo, I'm not really doing anything well right now, and it's very humbling.
Pregnancy is always so terrifying because you start to wonder how you are possibly going to take care of another baby when you can barely keep things from falling apart as it is.
And then you remember that you won't be pregnant anymore.
Sometimes I really want another boy. I see the way the boys play together, how they complement each others' personalities, and how they are so alike but so different that they bring out different aspects of each others' character. I know some of those things would be the same with a girl, but there is something so nice about same sex siblings.
I know with 3 one of them is going to feel left out sometimes. But the truth is, there is always somebody who's going to be weird. And then at least they'd have another brother to go play with until it's over and the other one starts being weird.
We're all pretty weird.
Then sometimes I really want it to be a girl this time. I wonder if I can handle one more muddy ball of energy. I think that I would like to have someone to commiserate with.
JT says he's just glad we can't choose, and I have to agree. The child we get is going to be the one that is perfectly planned for our family. To be a part of shaping all of us into exactly who we are supposed to be.
That's exciting.
In the meantime, I'm trying not to get discouraged. There is something so numbing about the 1st trimester of pregnancy for me. I lose some of my sensations, perhaps in a protective sort of way. I go through a lot of motions in a fog, and my relationship with God always feels a little less dynamic.
I struggle through the day, to do one thing that really feels like it matters. To not just feel like I'm getting by.
I've been working a little less lately due to our parents' going on vacation, and it has been nice.
On Thursday evening, JT took the boys so that I could go and visit one of my clients for my 2nd job.
I found him sitting on the porch drinking coffee after dinner, and he greeted me like a long lost friend. When I left to visit him, I felt tired and like it was just one more thing to do. When I left his presence, I felt refreshed, and like I had just done something I really wanted to do, but hadn't even known it.

As I was walking away, he took my hand and said "God bless you, wherever you go."
I thought about that all the way home. I thought about him, and I prayed for him, and I thought about how life felt a little more in perspective.
But it wasn't until the middle of the night, out of the blue, when I heard those words again, and I heard God say: "that was for you."
For me?
And I cried. Because I realized that right now, I don't feel very loveable. I don't feel productive or worthy or beautiful at all right now. And God said: "I see you, and I see how you're struggling. And it's ok. I love you."

A few days ago, Aquaman brought some school work done with mostly red marks on it. He's so intelligent and as I looked over the paper, I realized that he knew all of the answers. But, as I have heard reported from his teacher and even himself, he rushes through his work so that he can go play.
I didn't feel frustrated at all when I saw that paper though. All I felt was love. For the boy who is the youngest child in the whole school, who is trying so hard to do what he is supposed to do, but occasionally tears up a little when he talks about how hard it can be to sit down and do his work.
That's how God's loving me right now, I can feel it.
I put that homework up on the refrigerator, because I don't care if Aquaman gets all the answers right. I don't care if he gets all the answers right, or even any of them.
All I look at when I see that paper is: my boy. That's my boy.
He's struggling a little bit with all these new responsibilities and with his new role in life, and I love him in the struggle.
And if I, an imperfectly human parent can extend grace and love to my son through his struggles, how much more will God do so for me?