Just in case you thought I had it all together

If you know me at all, I would assume it would be pretty obvious to you that I am a bit of a mess. I think I do a reasonably good job at displaying that fact in both unintentional ways and also regular verbal proclamations of how little of a grasp I really have on things. And if you read this blog at all it is also probably abundantly clear that I don’t have it all together in the slightest. In the off chance that anyone did think I had it all together, allow me to prove to you that I really, really don’t.

We have had an insane amount of crap going on lately. I know crap is not a pretty word and not very poetic. But in this case neither is the stuff that has been heaved into our lives, one stinking shovel full after another. The drama at Peter’s job continues. He has resolved some of the issues surrounding not getting paid, at least for the time being,  but there is still a lot of not-so-good stuff going on in his department and it is taking its toll on him. I broke my foot about two and a half weeks ago. This is pretty annoying, but to be honest it is actually more comical to me than anything else. I think it is one of those “seriously?!” moments where if you don’t laugh you will cry…or start feeling murdery. We also found out in stages over the past couple of weeks some pretty life-altering, numbing family news. It is really not my story to share, especially in this venue, but prayer would be appreciated. Anyways, all of this on top of being 9 months pregnant, and let’s face it kind of dramatic to begin with, led to a story which upon comparison to your own life, (please, don’t pretend you won’t judge and compare), I  hope will encourage you to feel better about their own grip on life.

I had hoped by this point to have lots of lovely pictures to share of our new baby girl, along with an inspiring story, or at least a story,  of how I conquered a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Well I have neither. All I have in way of pictures is this cute ultrasound picture taken yesterday when I was 40 weeks and 1 day. And that is where the story kind of sort of begins.

Photo: If this isn't a Gavenda face!!! I guess this ultrasound pic will have to tide me over.

As soon as I saw this picture I was struck by how much she looks like Hayleigh and Braxton. I think it is the cheeks. But also the lips. I instantly wanted to kiss those little lips. My eyes welled up with tears and I felt as if seeing this picture was kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. There was this adorable, sweet baby of mine on the screen-one I felt I recognized as if I have already known her, yet we are still separated by the barriers of skin and amniotic fluid. I had a fleeting thought of not even wanting to take the picture because it makes me feel even more anxious to meet her and even more frustrated when each passing hour brings no baby.

Now in hindsight I realize how incredibly self-centered and shallow these thoughts are. My goodness, women leave ultrasound rooms with pictures of their babies knowing these will be the only pictures they ever get to have. Sometimes a little time will give a little dose of perspective and once I was out of the ultrasound room I was able to come back to reality. I am only two days late. Very uncomfortable? yes. Very overwhelmed by other life circumstances? yes. But honey please, your baby is healthy, strong and pretty cute, even on a ultrasound picture. Keep it together. Well, I wish I could say I did keep it together, but, like I said these thoughts all came after I left the ultrasound room.

The plan had been for us to learn from the ultrasound how large she was and then go ahead and schedule a csection for either Friday- the following day, or Monday, in order to avoid strain on my incision and a slew of other possible complications with a large, post-term baby. The ultrasound tech did all her measurements and told me that she was “only” measuring 8lbs. I was skeptical, especially since Hayleigh and Braxton measured 9lbs and 9lbs 5 oz respectively and according to the medical records were both born before my due date. I asked her to measure again, just to make sure. She did and got the exact same measurements. Then the midwife came in to talk to me about what decision I wanted to make. I was not prepared to have much of a choice. I thought this would be pretty cut and dry. Now the ultrasound results, which I am still not convinced of given their margin of error, were throwing a bit of a wrench into things and I was not prepared to really have to think. To be honest, I have kind of been on autopilot the last few weeks, so my brain is a teeny bit out of practice. Seeing I was struggling a bit she brought in an OBGYN to help with my decision.

It is situations like this where I envy people who are self-assured, confident decision makers; people who can assess situations, compute all the given information and spit out a plan that they are satisfied with despite what other people may think. I am not one of those people. I waffled back and forth not knowing what to choose, or even what to say. In fact I am pretty sure that some of what came out of my mouth was not even complete words, let alone complete sentences. I remember apologizing for being such a mess. I tried to convince them that usually I am not so indecisive. I told them if I could avoid a csection I would like to. I told them I didn’t want to wait forever to get her out though, especially armed with the new information that my fluid is a tad low. I told them I was not so sure that she was only 8lbs. I asked about meconium. I even asked if the ultrasound accounted for chubbiness. The Dr. was not mean, but she also wasn’t nice. She was kind of tough, all business-ya know like the female gym teacher who is harder on the girls in class just out of principle. Maybe P.E. was this woman’s backup career choice.

Well, I was always one of the athletes in high school so the P.E. teachers never bothered me, but that type of woman just intimidates me. I don’t exactly do well trapped in a small, dark ultrasound room with her type. It was at that moment that the weight of everything-Peter’s job, my foot, bad family news, the pregnancy and now this decision weighing on me, just became too much. I tried to stop it, but there was no holding it back. The tears and snot, (yes there was snot), started flowing. I haven’t really cried in spite of all the crap the past couple weeks, and honestly I really wish my body had waited just a couple hours more, but as I said there was no holding it back. So, I cried to a midwife I barely know and a Doctor I had never met. Timing is everything. I told them about my traumatic csection experience that I was just then realizing was giving me anxiety about having another one. I told them about our family news. I went on and on without making a real decision all the while sporadically inserting the obligatory “I don’t know why I am crying.” “I am so sorry to be doing this.” “I am sorry to be taking up all your time.” I really didn’t try to hurry myself at all though. Maybe because there really was no hurrying me. My emotions had finally taken over after being suppressed for a while now. And my emotions don’t do well being suppressed; they don’t have a lot of practice at that. I think maybe midwives and obgyns should get some counseling training because of the occupational hazard of dealing with hormonal women. Training or not, they handled it really well. If they thought I was a total nut job whose story they were stashing in their back pocket to tell for laughs at dinner parties they certainly didn’t show it. Once I calmed down a bit from the extracurricular we focused back on the task at hand.

The Doctor crunched some numbers for me and told me I have a 84% chance of successful VBAC. That is not something I wanted to throw away just to “get out of” pregnancy. Then just as I was ready to make a choice she threw in another wrench. She told me I had the option of an induction, something I have been told for 9 months was not even a consideration for me at my midwife practice since I had had a prior csection. This felt like a good middle ground option to me: better than waiting indefinitely not sure of the size of my baby and better than scheduling a csection right away. I decided to opt for being induced. We went ahead and scheduled it for next week. I let myself get a little “bullied” into a day that ended up being later than I am comfortable with so currently I have a call back in to try to get it scheduled sooner. Look at me being all assertive over the phone from the “safety” of my own home! So, that is where we stand right now. I am waiting for a call from the on-call midwife any time now to get an exact date and time to be induced. And once that is nailed down I will be able to breath a sigh of relief because I will actually be content with my decision.

I was talking to my mom last night and I was thinking how I wish someone in the moment had told me that whatever I chose was a good choice. I could not have made a bad choice. Whatever I chose, as long as I was comfortable with it, would have been okay, even if I felt like the Doctor or midwife might have might a slightly different choice (not to say I don’t trust their professional opinion). I just wish in the moment I had been strong enough to make a choice that I felt okay with, not swayed by what I perceived to be them leaning one way or another. They told me the decision was mine, but being the black and white person that I am, I took that as code for “this is a test. There is one right choice. Choose carefully so you don’t pick the wrong thing.” And then add in there the pressure I put on myself because this doesn’t just affect me, but also my baby.

As I went to bed last night I thought of all the times I struggle making decisions because I am concerned about what others may think or because I am afraid of making the “wrong” choice. I definitely have this issue more since becoming a parent. There are so many small choices to be made regarding my kids on a daily basis. It dawned on me that in some instances in life, as in my situation in the ultrasound room, there really isn’t a wrong choice. As long as I am not in defiance of God’s word or the Holy Spirit’s leading and as long as Peter and I are comfortable with my choice, maybe either option is okay. There is a quote from John MacArthur’s book Found:God’s Will that speaks to this idea. I am pretty sure I may have shared this quote before, but bear with me.

“God’s will is that you be saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive and serving….Okay, let me give you the final principle. You may want to jump up and shout! If you are doing all five of the basic things, do you know what God’s next principle is? Do whatever you want! If those five elements of God’s will are operating your life, who is running your wants? God is! The Psalmist said ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4)…The will of God is not primarily a place…The will of God concerns you as a person. If you are the right you, you can follow your desires and you will fulfill His will.” “(pg. 54-55,60)

I don’t want to over apply this principle. I am just saying that God used this instance to remind me that not everything is that big of a deal. Sometimes it is just a matter of preference and choosing what I am comfortable with, even if someone else may not entirely agree. I felt such freedom in re-realizing this realization. Overall it was a pretty draining, but pretty freeing day. Tears and snot can be cathartic, even if shed in front of near strangers. Maybe in this case even more so, because in retrospect I was forced to take myself even less seriously and laugh about it, ya know, so I didn’t get all murdery. Being murdery probably isn’t good for the blood pressure. Hopefully as you read this and judge me you are able to care a little less about what other people think of you. No really, take this to heart, because if not maybe someday you will find God has put you in a proverbial ultrasound room to break your pride. You’ve been warned.

A letter to my son and daughter

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Hayleigh and Braxton,
Soon your lives are going to change in a tremendous way. I think the main reason they will change so much is because of the permanence with which they will change. I am not sure why it took me until the recent days and weeks to really really think about it, but maybe it is because I already have my hands happily full with the two of you. I think back to how instantaneously Daddy’s and my lives changed when Hayleigh was born. As I am assuming any parent can tell you, once a new baby enters your world you cannot imagine life without them. The same phenomenon occurred when Braxton was born. Suddenly we could not seem to remember what life was like before you, and we didn’t want to. Hayleigh, I know your life was drastically changed when Braxton was born. It was no longer just you demanding Mommy and Daddy’s love and attention. But you adjusted really well and now as Braxton is older I see how much you thrive on having a built in playmate. When your baby sister is born sometime in the next few weeks our family is going to change again-overnight and forever. Someday when she is older we will look back and find it hard to remember life before her. If I am being honest this both excites and scares me.

It scares me a bit because I really love my life with the two of you. I am not someone who does well with change. I fear being a worse Mommy to you because I am being pulled in more directions and able to give you less. I fear missing out on some of the things we share now. I fear me struggling to manage all I have to do and you suffering as a result. It also scares and saddens me a bit because it means you are growing older. How on earth are you going to be a big brother, Braxton? Aren’t you still my baby? The passage of time always gets me. No matter how I war against my emotions I still struggle with being “okay” with you two growing up as quickly as you are.

It also excites me because I know that although I was scared of change before each of you were born, I would never have traded those changes for anything. Each of you have taught me so much, brought me so much joy and laughter, and made my world what it is today. I know your sissy will impact me and capture my heart in different ways but with the same magnitude. I am excited to get to know her and see what God has in store for our family. Like I said, someday we we will look back and not be able to imagine our family ever being complete without her. It is pretty exciting to meet a person who is going to forever shape who we are and what our family looks like!

I wonder what she will be like. Nana and Pop tell a story of when they were pregnant with Aunt Jayna. They were talking to a friend who also had three children and remarked “I wonder what this baby will be like. Will she be more like Emily or more like Rylie?” Their friends responded “Neither. There is a third pole". They were right! Rylie, Jayna and I could not be much more different from each other! I am not sure what a third pole would look like in our family, but I don’t doubt that she will be her own unique person, just as each of you are so wonderfully different from each other.

Hayleigh, I am so in love with the person God has made you to be. Sometimes I know I expect too much from you. I guess it is the curse of being the first born. I am sorry for when I am too hard on you. The other night I felt as if I had failed you as your mom during the day. I had been too impatient, not given you enough one on one attention and been distracted by other things. After you were in bed I felt such a pit in my stomach that I went and scooped you out of bed and brought you into bed with me. When you woke up I apologized for being impatient and distant that day. Sometimes being next to you is more healing for me than for you I think. I just needed to be close to you and let you know how special you are.  I am so proud of who you are. You are filled with love and tenderness and you are so others centered. Your sensitive spirit is incredibly beautiful to Daddy and me. I love to see you light up when you are around the people you love. I love to see your heart when you are concerned about why someone is sad or sick. You are so perceptive and so caring. Sometimes you can be overly sensitive and emotional. This can be frustrating to me, maybe part of my frustration is that those are struggles I have myself. I always longed for a daughter. I continue to be blown away by the fact that God gave me one as exceptional as you.. I long to give you strength for this life, confidence in who you are, the ability to trust confidently in God free from anxiety-all while not breaking your tender, sensitive spirit. You are growing up quickly theses days, probably in large part to preschool. Some of the things you say or your new mannerisms are just so kid-like! One of my favorite things in life is to just be in another room and listen to you talk. I love your voice. I love your inflections all your own. I love the hilarious and sweet things you say. Sometimes in the morning I am still laying awake in my bed and I listen to you go into Braxton’s room and talk to him. It melts me to hear the love you have for him. Or I will listen from the kitchen or upstairs and you and Braxton play with Daddy. I love to hear you play with wreckless abandon and laugh and laugh with unbridled joy as you play with your hero. Moments like this make nothing else in the world matter. It makes me wish time would just stand still in that moment and it makes me wish I spent less time consumed by logistical things and more time wrapped up in your world. I also love to listen as you play pretend in your own world. It’s the closest I can get to getting inside your head. I love to know what you are thinking and feeling. When you express it through play or through conversation as we cuddle together on the couch in the evening I feel such a sense of accomplishment and humble gratitude at gaining another nugget of knowledge about you. I love that you want nothing more than to be close to me and to be loved by me. I hope that you always feel comfortable talking to me about anything. I hope you never doubt my love for you or feel separated from me because I have failed to be generous to you with my time, attention and affection. I am so sorry for when I don’t show you at every opportunity what you mean to my life. I am sorry for when I don’t give you a model to emulate and when I don’t point you to God’s unconditional love. Please know that nothing that ever happens, even having a little sister, even anything naughty that you could ever do, could ever diminish my love for you. It could never change the spot reserved in my heart just for you. You staked a claim in that real estate almost four years ago and that is where you are going to live forever. So get comfy!

Braxton, lately I have thrived on getting to know you more. Your little personality is emerging quite a bit these days. Well maybe I shouldn’t say little personality, because it isn’t small , that is for sure! I love what a sweet, sensitive boy you are. I hope that never changes about you. You are also pretty freakin' cute. I have a weakness for your chubby little face-which I cannot contain myself from kissing dozens of times a day and your adorable voice. You are talking a lot more these days. It is funny to hear what you have to say. You have a new habit of adding "Mommy" to the end of almost any phrase, which I have to admit is pretty cute. I love to see your face light up around us. I love your full out embraces. Few things in life could ever beat a Braxton cuddle. From the time you were born, when I would hold you on my shoulder you would pick your head up so that your face would be cheek to cheek with mine. You still do this. There is such a sense of peace and fulfillment for me when we sit like this. Sometimes you will stop your crazy playing just to come cuddle with me this way. Sometimes you are grumpy or hurt or sick and nothing will comfort you except sitting cheek to cheek. I hope you always find comfort in me in one way or another. I hope that no matter how old or tough or cool you get that there is always a sense of peace and comfort to be found in your Mommy. I hope that someday you are able to find even greater comfort in the arms of you Heavenly Father. Sometimes you are very strong willed and it is a challenge to me. I am sorry for when I don’t parent you in the right way. I am sorry for when I am impatient or I frustrate you to anger by being naive about how to parent you differently from your sister. I so long to not break your spirit of independence, because if I do my job correctly I can see your strong will as being such an asset-one I sometimes wish I had more of. I am so blown away and intrigued by the dichotomy that is you. You can be very temperamental, very particular, and also on the other hand extremely sweet, affectionate and sensitive. I am really excited to see how all of these characteristics come together to form a well rounded, people centered leader. It is a goal of mine to foster your unique personality, your unique talents in a way that honors God. I want to give you the gifts of confidence in who you are and courage to be the person God has called you to be. There are so many awesome characteristics that make up who you are. And although they can be intimidating and frustrating sometimes, I choose to see how God has planned to use all of this for good for His kingdom. Your personality differs so much from your sister’s. I love getting to know you more and more. I feel like the more knowledge I unlock, the richer I become, and the more in love with you I fall. You are such a special boy. You bring us so much happiness and laughter. Each time you hug me, or run to me laughing or kiss me and whisper “Ah luv yooouuu, Mommy”, it captures me in a profound way. I have said it before, but I love our story, my B. Every victory is sweeter with you and getting to know you and fall deeper in love with you is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. I am excited for what is in our future. Please know that nothing that comes, even being sandwiched in between two sisters, even anything naughty you may do, could ever make me love you one iota less. Your place in my life and my heart is secure.

God has gifted you both in incredible ways. I think He did an awesome job making you. I wouldn’t change a thing. You are just beautiful, wonderful people. You warm my heart and make me overflow with joy that you are mine. I am so unworthy to be your Mommy yet God chose me and I am eternally grateful. You are both my little saviors in different ways. God knew just what he was doing giving each one of you to me when He did. You have changed me. You have made me better. You have rescued me even when I didn’t know I needed rescuing. No earthly gift could ever be greater. It is because of these truths that I am excited to meet your new sister sometime this month. I can not say with certainty how she will impact our lives, but I know that from the beginning of time God has had a picture of our family and each one of us-including her, were part of it. God chose in His sovereignty to knit our family together with the threads of each of us. I love how it is coming together.

I love you more than words could ever express.

Mommy

In the waiting room-and not the fun kind with movies and toys

Turns out I am an impatient person. You would think after having my fair share of trials over the years that have required patience and being forced to surrender control I would be a little further along in being cool with the whole waiting game. Apparently I am stubborn too.

Right now in my life I find myself stuck in the waiting room. I feel as if at any point my name will be called at my circumstances will change. A big part of this has to do with being pregnant and a few weeks away from having a baby. It is pretty hard to feel like I can plan or accomplish a whole lot when I am so incredibly uncomfortable as I wait for this little person I have been cooking from scratch to come meet us and change our world. Another big part of it involves a lot of crap that has been going on with Peter’s job. It just has us hanging on day to day in this seemingly never-ending waiting game. And to be honest, I have really had enough. To be even more honest, I really haven’t handled it all that well. (Sorry for being cryptic, but I really don’t want to go into the details.) My m.o. is to go to a place of constant, consuming worry and anxiety. I have done pretty well not going to that place, but instead with this trial I find myself in relatively new surroundings. I find myself struggling in a place of anger. I am angry about the injustice of it all, angry at Peter’s superiors, angry at the timing of everything ( -ya know end of my pregnancy, beginning of holiday season), maybe if I am honest a little angry at God for not just letting us ever seem to have smooth sailing for any extended period of time in our lives.  I think I am just angry because I hate waiting and I hate not knowing when the waiting will end and I hate not being in control. And now I am angry about being angry because I don’t like this new color on me.

I don’t want my baby girl to be born into this difficult work situation. I don’t want to look back on her birth and be flooded by feelings of tension and stress. Mostly though I don’t want my baby girl to meet an angry Mommy.

I went looking for this scripture verse the other day: “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 I have it hanging in my office in a non-NIV version, the version I memorized it in, although I am not sure which version exactly that is. What made me think of it was the part about waiting. Seemed pretty applicable as I wallowed in self-pity, frustration and anger. “Ok God, here I am being a martyr, waiting for you again. Go ahead and lift me up and remove my suffering.” When I looked it up in my Bible, which is an NIV, I instantly crumbled. The NIV says “Those who hope in the LORD…” My waiting has not been full of hope. The way I have been waiting has been so full of ugliness, entitlement and lies that it has led me straight to anger. With Peter’s job we are waiting for things we are owed in the worldly sense, but I needed to remember that God is not in debt to me. He doesn’t owe me anything.

It was also a good reminder about who I am setting my hope in. Is it Peter to work hard and provide? Is it Peter’s company? Or is my hope secured in my God who will never let me down? If my hope was in the right place I would not find myself in a place of anger, but always a place of gratitude and joy, not dependent on circumstances. I so appreciate my patient and loving God for gently giving me a not-so-gentle reminder about what a difference one word can make.-and in turn what a difference my attitude can make. My circumstances have not changed, but things feel different. Maybe that is the lesson I am supposed to learn as I sit in the waiting room. It certainly beats reading a Highlights magazine.

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