Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

Why We Waited

September 13th, 2019

I’ve never been one to delay telling the world I’m pregnant.

A baby’s a baby no matter how small – and I’m no good at secrets after all.

But after we miscarried in April, life has been hard. We didn’t get pregnant for several cycles (okay, just three – but we’d always gotten pregnant on first try before). We’ve had uncertainties with our foster daughter. We’ve traveled a lot, which kept me off-kilter. And I’ve been depressed – debilitatingly so.

I spent the summer worried we wouldn’t be able to get pregnant again. Worried that Beth-Ellen would be our last biologically. Worried that we’d also lose our foster daughter and that it would tear me apart.

We found out we were pregnant the day Daniel left town to pick up our beef. I started bleeding the next day.

The bleeding stopped, but my worry didn’t. My basal body temperature has never been consistent (probably because I never sleep for 3-4 hours at a stretch), but it bounced up and down instead of staying high like it should for a pregnant woman. I stopped measuring it after a month. It wasn’t serving me – but the worry remained.

My depression deepened. I was grieving I wasn’t sure what. Grieving the baby, certainly. Grieving the closely-spaced family I’d dreamed of. Grieving the difficulties our foster daughter has faced and still may. Grieving saying goodbye to two foster children already. Grieving the things I used to be able to do but couldn’t now.

How could I share the joy of a new baby in the womb when joy wasn’t even half the emotion I was feeling? When I thought of saying something, I contemplated what I might say: “We’re pregnant again and I’m just hoping the baby’s alive. No, I haven’t had any morning sickness, really, I just can’t function after 11 in the morning because I’m too exhausted and everything is overwhelming and all I want to do is cry and scream and cry some more.”

When they offered me an appointment on Daniel’s birthday, I thought “Great. Daniel can get the news that this baby is dead on his birthday.” But I didn’t ask for a different day. I know that only means waiting longer, and I’d much rather know than keep worrying.

I’ve never had an early ultrasound before. I know exactly when I ovulate – no need for an ultrasound to check dates. But this time, I didn’t have any of my normal questions prepared. I had one main question: is our baby alive?

After I knew that, I had decided, I would tell the world. Then they could rejoice with me or grieve with me with some level of surety as to which I ought to be experiencing.

The baby is alive. Moving around enough my OB couldn’t really show us what was what in real time.

A weight off my heart.

But not the whole weight. No, this weight is much heavier than one baby or even two.

And that is why I, so unused to delay, waited so long (okay, nine weeks gestation) to tell you all that we were pregnant.

It was complicated. It still is.

Please pray.

According to Plan

July 9th, 2019

I would have been pleased if we’d gotten pregnant soon after we were married. I’ve wanted a big family for as long as I can remember and was already feeling the time ticking.

But we’d decided that we would use my salary to pay off both our student loans so I could stay home with the kids without that extra financial stressor. We had a plan and I would stick to it.

We got pregnant on the first try, just according to plan.

I would have been thrilled if we’d have gotten pregnant soon after Tirzah Mae arrived. I love how close (in age and in relationship) I am to my siblings. And if I was going to have a large family, well, my time was ticking.

But we’d decided that we wanted to increase the chances that we could have a vaginal birth after c-section, so we were going to try to time the next baby’s due date 18 months plus 2 months fom Tirzah Mae’s birthday – to make sure we got 18 months between deliveries even if the next baby came as early as she did. We had a plan and I would stick to it.

We got pregnant on the first try, just according to plan.

Ditto our post-Tirzah Mae planning only this time post-Louis. I wanted that VBA2C and I’d wait to get pregnant to help it happen. We had a plan and I would stick to it (well, we almost did.)

And then after Beth-Ellen was born and my recovery was rough and the prolapse was horrible and we started fostering. I decided that two years would be better this time. I needed to recover, needed to get the prolapse under control. I had a plan and I would stick to it.

Just as planned, we got pregnant with a due date just a week before Beth-Ellen’s had been, three weeks before Beth-Ellen’s second birthday.

And then we miscarried.

And we haven’t gotten pregnant again.

And my plan of a big family closely spaced feels like it’s becoming less and less probable as I move closer and closer to that terrible 35 and its “geriatric pregnancy” or “elderly multigravida”. That’s where I’m at now – any baby conceived after this would be due after my 35th birthday.

This isn’t my plan and I’m floundering.

It’s so hard. So, so hard.

I want to trust God. I know that he’s sovereign. I know that he’s faithful. He’s proven himself to be so over and over and over again.

But all I can think of is the plan, my plan – and each ticking day. Bleeding and ovulating and bleeding again. No baby. What is God’s plan in this all?

I may never know.

But, Lord, give me grace to stick to it.

It’s changed me – and I wouldn’t change a thing

June 11th, 2019

I once read an article about how the experience of infertility changes the experience of motherhood.

As a mother of two preemies, one “post-dates” baby, and three foster children (one at a time) – and as a woman who has now experienced miscarriage – I have to say that this too changes the experience of motherhood.

I thank God almost every day for each additional day each of my children got in the womb. For almost a month for Tirzah Mae after my blood pressure went high. For two additional weeks in the womb for Louis (compared to Tirzah Mae). For a staggering 8 additional weeks in the womb for Beth-Ellen (compared to Louis). I thank God for the things we could have experienced but didn’t in the NICU, for the things we could have experienced but didn’t regarding our children’s development.

And more and more, I thank God that I experienced two c-sections, that I have had rough pregnancies and rough postpartums, that I had children who didn’t sleep, that I have had to say goodbye to three children. Because each of those children have simultaneously been an evidence of grace (EOG) and an agent of sanctification (AOS).

I wouldn’t change a thing, even on the days when I’m singing my newest song:

(to the tune of “You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder)

You are an agent of sanctification
God’s using you to make me holy
You are an agent of sanctification
God has put you in my life

And when I feel that I am. so. done.
I’m thanking God that he is no-o-o-ot

Preemies. Post-dates. C-sections. A vaginal delivery. Prolapse. Sleepless nights. Disrupted routines. Lots of young children. Saying goodbye when we’ve planned to say goodbye. Saying goodbye when we were hoping for a lifetime. None of these things are easy.

But easy isn’t how we learn to rely on God. Easy isn’t how we become like him.

Praise God that he hasn’t let me live the easy dream. He’s making me holy, teaching me to trust.

These things have absolutely changed my experience of motherhood. And though I’m crying even now thinking of the dreams we’ve lost, I’m crying too for the things we’ve gained. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Even when I am. so. done.

God is not.

You are my [fill-in-the-blank]

May 23rd, 2019

Once upon a time, I started singing “You are my sunshine” to my children while brushing their teeth.

Then someone pointed out the ridiculousness of telling each of my children that they were my “only” sunshine.

I started singing “My precious sunshine”.

But then someone else pointed out that they were not in fact sunshine.

I tried to explain how it was figurative language, but somehow all this child *cough*Tirzah Mae*cough* got was that I was singing falsehoods. She decided if I was going to sing falsehoods, I might as well sing falsehoods she liked. She requested that I sing that she was my baby.

You are my baby, my precious baby,
You make me happy when skies are gray
And when I think, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my Tirzah Mae away

Other times, she insists that she’s not a baby but a mama. So I sing:

You’re Moses’s mama, precious Moses’s mama,
You make me happy when skies are gray
And when I think, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take Moses’s mama away

Louis was eager to get in on the game – but unlike his sister, his selections are only consistent in their variedness.

So I might sing
“You are my dump-truck-carrying-a-large-load-of-dirt boy, my precious dump-truck-carrying-a-large-load-of-dirt boy…”

or maybe
“You are my green-tool-carrying, ant-killing boy, my precious green-tool-carrying, ant-killing boy…”

Frequently, his little hand pulls the toothbrush out of his mouth mid-brush to append an additional descriptor to his song.

“You are my dump-truck and orange water bottle boy who wears big boy underpants, my precious dump-truck-and-orange-water-bottle boy who wears big boy underpants…”

And so on and so forth.

Where are the pro-lifers now?

May 20th, 2019

Kansas’s foster care system has issues. Everyone agrees on that. Some think rapid staff turnover in agencies is the issue. Others think it’s a lack of foster homes. Some think it’s too much regulation. Others think it’s too little regulation. Some complain of a “cash for kids” incentive system that funnels kids into foster care even when there’s nothing serious going on at home. Others complain that the system leaves too many kids in bad homes.

Whatever the issue, foster care is in the news with relative frequency here – and since I’m interested in foster care, I have a bad habit of reading the Facebook comments on those news stories.

Mostly, the comments are filled with the theories I’ve listed above. DCF stinks. The contractors who do the day-to-day work stink. The agencies stink. The police stink. Foster parents stink. Families of origin stink. Everybody’s pointing fingers at everybody in the comment sections.

And then there’s always someone who asks: “Where are the pro-lifers now?”

Well, I can’t answer for all the prolifers, but I know where some of them are.

Quite a few of the prolifers I know are doing foster care. Others are adopting. Still others teach parenting classes for parents who didn’t plan to get pregnant and have no idea what to do next. Others fill “diaper pantries” for families in need. Some gather freezer meals for exhausted foster families or give them beds so they can care for more children.

Others work in the school system and quietly provide what is needed for the kids in their classes who don’t have adequate support at home. Some provide doula care for pregnant women (some of whom can pay and some who can not), helping families start off on the right foot with their newborns.

Many more pray fervently and give generously when they become aware of needs.

When it comes to foster care, what I haven’t seen many of the prolifers I know do is comment on news articles asking why someone else isn’t solving the problem. Instead, they’re quietly doing what they can to help make the lives of those around them better.

These prolifers inspire me.

They inspire me to leave the comment sections behind and do my little part in this big task of loving people.

All I Want for Mother’s Day

May 9th, 2019

Mother’s Day approaches, which means everyone and their mother is opining about what you should give your mother.

I was scrolling past headlines when I saw “What your mother really wants for Mother’s Day” – and I suddenly knew exactly what I want.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
~3 John 4 (ESV)

This is what I want, but it’s not something my husband can get for me. It’s not something my children can make happen on their own.

This requires an act of God.

So instead of writing an article for the nearest mom’s blog (or sending a link to one of those articles to my husband), I’ll be lifting up my request to God, as I do each day.

Lord, let my children – my Tirzah Mae and my Louis, my Beth-Ellen and my sweet P, our precious C and darling J – let them walk in the truth. Grant that their affections would be stirred toward you, that they would desire relationship with you. Grant that they would see the desperate wickedness of their hearts and their utter helplessness to change themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ and walk in the way of the One who is Truth.

And if you want to give me a Mother’s Day gift, join me in praying for these six God has given me (for short or for long), that they would walk in the truth.

Welcome to Grandma’s table

May 8th, 2019

Do you remember the clear vinyl your grandmother rolled out over the nice tablecloth during family gatherings?

I never thought much of it as a kid, of course; but when I was looking back to it from my teen years I was filled with all the disdain teens are known for.

“I’ll never cover my tablecloths,” I thought. “Let people spill on them. It’s only a tablecloth. It’ll wash. And if it doesn’t? It’s only a tablecloth.”

I’ve followed through, setting my table with my grandma’s tablecloths and some I’ve acquired along the way. My tablecloths have seen spaghetti spills, chili spills, grape juice spills (oh. so. many. grape juice spills during seders). I’ve happily reassured the spillers (and their parents) that it’s no problem at all – it’s only a tablecloth.

This spring, I saw a tablecloth at ALDI that was quite pretty and I impulse-bought it. I spread it across the table and I was in love.

You see, I love our table. I like how easy it is to get around the oval. It’s just the right size for six when it’s leafless – and the leaf allows me to seat ten (albeit a little tight). But our table desperately needs refinished.

Problem is, ain’t nobody got time for that.

The tablecloth kept all the magic of our table – without the reminder of yet another thing I don’t have time to do.

And then we ate lunch on it.

Folks, I have a four-year-old, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and a ten-month-old. You know where this is going, right?

The tablecloth had to go in the washer right after lunch.

But I was in love with the tablecloth concept, so I pulled out another. I put placemats on top of the tablecloth for supper.

The tablecloth still had to go in the washer right after supper.

I swallowed hard, got on Amazon, and ordered myself a Grandma table protector.

My table with its grandma cover

A Dark Day

April 19th, 2019

Yesterday afternoon, my doctor gave me the news I’d been dreading.

I am miscarrying.

Our baby is dead.

I expected that. I started spotting on Tuesday and the bleeding and cramping has intensified over the last couple of days. The ultrasound and first blood test were inconclusive. We needed a second blood test for a trend. But my doctor and I both suspected what we would find.

Our baby is dead.

I grieve the loss of our fourth child. I grieve my children’s loss of a sibling. I grieve for baby hands I will never hold, for baby smiles I will never see.

But I do not grieve as those who have no hope.

I need not question whether or not God is for me.

His Son died.

That is answer enough. He is for me.

His Son rose.

That is answer enough. I have hope.

Please pray for us as we grieve.

My Garden Grows Despite

April 9th, 2019

Gardening takes a special sort of person. A person who is willing to work consistently. To water, to weed, to plant, to leave alone.

An apple tree

Our apple trees made it through their second winter. Time will tell if my pruning was good for them or not.

I am not that sort of person.

My forsythia

I transplanted this forsythia from elsewhere in our yard a couple years ago. Last year’s dramatic pruning is showing its fruit this year in increased flowering and shoot production. Project forsythia rehab continues!

I am a project person, a dig around in the dirt for hours and then leave it alone for months kind of person.

Daffodills

These daffodils are now past their prime – but I’ve gained plenty of enjoyment out of the buckets of bulbs my aunt brought me the past couple of years.

And so, while I’ve put in a garden every year since I first became a homeowner, I’ve never been particularly successful at it.

Daylilies

The daylilies I got from a neighbor and which I have been transferring from place to place seem to be settling well into their (hopefully) permanent home.

This year, I’m not certain whether I’ll get a garden in. What with a new foster baby and a new baby on the way and finishing our basement (did I say we’re getting our basement finished? I don’t believe I have. But we are.) What with all the excitement ’round here, I haven’t started any seeds – and plants are awfully expensive given my poor track record at getting any produce.

A peony shoot

I planted six peonies last fall, a pair of three different varieties. I’m thrilled to see that they made it through the winter – five of the six have put out shoots (and I’m hopeful that the sixth will soon since its pair only poked through soil today.)

But I’m delighting in the bits of life that are springing up here and there in my garden nonetheless.

Sage plant
I'm-not-sure-what-kind-of-mint
Peppermint
Spearmint

My herb garden delights, with three different varieties of mint and a nice bush of sage growing strong. We picked the first of the spearmint and have been enjoying spearmint-infused water in our bottles the past couple of days – and I’m planning to pick and dry my first batch of sage at the end of this week or beginning of the next. I’m also pleased to see that at least some of the milkweed seeds that I saved and planted last fall have germinated.

Back Where I Belong

April 3rd, 2019

It’s been nearly 15 months, but I’m finally back where I belong…

Barefoot, Pregnant, in the Kitchen.

Barefoot ✔
Pregnant ✔
In the Kitchen ✔

;-)

Newest model expected in December 2019.

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