3rd trimester. 3 more months. 28 weeks. We’ve arrived in the third trimester, thankful for and anticipating this baby boy. I wanted to do a better job of documenting his pregnancy than I have, so I’m hoping I’ll stick to it in this last section of the journey. I hate that I didn’t do a better job of it with Abi Kate, so I’m going to attempt to do one every week from now until he arrives… we’ll see…
We’ve started busying ourselves with preparations for his arrival. Even though we still have roughly 12 weeks ahead of us, I know how quickly that time will pass. We’ve begun the process of playing ring around the rosie with all the bedrooms in our house. I get a little tickled thinking about the back and forth we’ve had about staying in our house or not- all 1200 square feet of it- good thing we all love each other a lot since we'll be nice and cozy! ;). It’s the home we bought the month before we were married, and 6 and a half years later it’s where we still live. When we first bought it, we were certain we’d move before having a baby because of it‘s size, hoping to keep it just as a rental property. Then, the housing market crashed, but moreover, my pregnancy was just too trying to even consider moving while also teaching full-time. So, we had a contractor close in our garage and build us a big storage closet for the few things we had in our garage at the time. As time got closer to adding to our family again, I just plain didn’t want to move or leave this house. It is where all of our big moments have happened. It’s where we stayed on our wedding night. It’s where we conceived our babies and where we’ve labored with them. One day in the not-too-distant future, we’ll need to move. But not right now. Simplicity and financial plans and my sentiments towards this tangible structure urge us to stay. That said, making space that will be livable and comfortable for us on a daily basis is our current chore at the moment. I don't love the chaos of things being out of place and moved around, but I know I will thank myself in a few weeks when everything has a home. ;)
Snow baby bump ;) Bye, feet!
Having another baby is a bit different in its process than the first baby. I know that I really have all I need for his first several months-- I have boobs. After doing this once already, I think I could pretty much get by with that alone. But we also have all of the baby gear from Abi Kate, and we did use it often so that’s nice too ;) I know that Abram doesn’t need much. He doesn’t need a bedroom-- he’ll be in our room for months. He doesn’t need a crib for the same reason. But, I need it for him. There is something so special to me about preparing a place for him in our home. For me, having his room painted and mostly ready and filled with things for him, it says, “Yes. You belong here. You belong with us. You have a space in our home and in our hearts. And we’ve been waiting…just waiting for you and for your presence.” I know it’s just a room. And I know it’s just a bed and decorations on the walls. And I know that he won’t even be utilizing that room and it’s furnishings hardly at all for a good while. But it’s part of my connection to his arrival, the proof that he is indeed coming. I know that sounds dumb considering the size of my belly, considering the sweet heartbeat that’s completely separate from my own, the one I’ve heard countless times and rejoiced over, the baby I’ve seen on a black and white screen, and all the movements I’ve felt for months now…. Obviously, a baby is coming. But my heart has been resistant to trust that, to fully yield to his arrival.
A friend of mine told me that pregnancy after loss can often have dark moments, and she is right. At least for me. I don’t mean that to sound as depressing as it probably does, because there really are no right words to describe the inner workings of my soul and my emotion every time I hear Abram or feel him or see him. It’s a level of rejoicing that’s hard to illustrate. But there are moments of fear as well. Fear of the knowledge that everything can be right and then suddenly be wrong with no warning. Fear of the raw emotion that comes from losing. I know a lot of people hold their own personal “scare zone,” and once they’ve bypassed it, they breathe easily. That’s just not me, at least not this time. Pregnancy is such a vulnerable time in the hearts and lives of women. It’s one of the reasons why I love it. God is and has been so active in the insecurity, in the doubt, and ultimately, in the faith growing process.
I haven’t spoken much as of late about the fear in the process because sometimes, the most well-intentioned responses are hard to take. And, it’s hard for me to effectively explain that my fear and my joy have been balanced. I don’t sit around dwelling all day about my concerns. You're much more likely to find me dwelling on how he will fit into our family, what kind of mother I will be to him, and dreaming about those first moments together. I love this little boy with a ridiculous love already, and I am so eager to meet him. But there are moments of fear. Moments that are different than in Abi Kate’s pregnancy.
There are a lot of clichés and such about fear, and ones that I’ve had to stop and consider for their validity and how they actually work out in life. I hear a lot that as believers we just have to choose our response to fear. That any amount of fear felt is sinful because we‘re not trusting God. And after walking these last several months, I just can’t say I agree with either of those statements in their entirety- though at this time last year I probably would‘ve freely offered up either of those sayings myself. In the earliest months of this pregnancy, I spent a lot of time praying through my concerns and evaluating fear’s place in my life with Tommy and with my sister. Fear is an emotion. And our God is a God of emotion. In scripture, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. But before he does that, he arrives to find that Lazarus has died. And Jesus, in all of His perfection, doesn’t clap his hands and begin rejoicing-- He cries. In fact, He weeps. Jesus certainly didn’t need to cry-- being God Himself, He knew He could and would raise Lazarus within the hour. But I think the real perspective is that Jesus also felt. He was fully God and yet fully man, and in being human, He felt. He didn’t run from emotion and act like he’d had a lobotomy where He could do nothing but be happy. He felt sorrow, and that was ok. He didn’t dwell inside that sorrow, but he did feel it. In the Garden of Gesthemane, before he is arrested, Jesus prays that God the Father would let the cup pass from him. Scripture says that he was so overwhelmed, even to the point of death, that His sweat became like blood. If you’ve ever read anything about hematridosis, you know the incredible amount of emotional stress one must feel for the body to yield that physical reaction. Again, he felt; and not just happy or joyful. I remember telling Rachel one night that I was trying so hard to not feel fear, to only respond in faith to my concerns. She said two words, “Stop trying. You can’t try hard enough, be good enough, conjure up enough faith to bring peace to myself. You fail at it because it’s not your job-- it is the job of the Holy Spirit. Stop trying, and ask Him do it for you.” We put a lot of stock into our responses as believers, and I’ve found that usually only results in pride. Because then, we could pat ourselves on the back and say, “Yes. I overcame this fear. I responded in a holy fashion that pleased the Lord.” When in fact, if our only boast is in Christ, it is Him inside me that affords me the privilege of peace. It isn’t a simple “choice” that I made to put myself in a positive frame of mind.
My sister, who is not only a gifted counselor but also a beautiful writer, wrote an illustration that I love several months ago…. Her words are far superior to mine but I’ll do my best to paraphrase the concept. She said to imagine that you are in a vessel at sea in the midst of a violent storm. The waves are overtaking you. It is dark and you cannot see in front of you. Thunder and lightening, pelts of rain pour down upon you and in looking around, there is no rescue. But suddenly, you see a lighthouse and you are able to make it to concrete structure. You run inside and are shielded from the storm. The storm outside continues to rage, it does not stop. The wind and water pours and blows against the lighthouse. You may even feel fearful of the storm outside, but you are no longer accepting the blows of the storm. The lighthouse is absorbing those now. And you, in the midst of the storm, are kept safe. I love that illustration, because it is exactly how I have felt in these months many times. I have felt the rage of the storm, the possibility of everything coming undone. I have lived inside of the very little control that I have. I’ve had to surrender my need for control because I can’t dictate life’s circumstances. But I have been kept safe inside of Christ. It doesn’t mean I have felt only peace and happiness. I haven’t. But I am no longer the one receiving the blows- Christ is. There may be fear of the storm, but I feel rest in the assurance of His protection in the midst of the storm. I do think fear can lead us to sin, and I would be lying if I said that it never has for me during this time. But my fear has also refined my faith. It has been in the midst of fear that I have found the very presence of Christ. It has brought me to the end of myself, which is the very place where I am most moldable.
So, I have felt and still do occasionally feel fear over Abram’s pregnancy even all this time later. I fear that I will have the carpet pulled out from under me the way I did in May. But when it arrives that fear continues to bring me to a place of surrender, and it makes my heart hunger for Abram’s arrival in a way that I do not believe I would have felt without it. It has almost been like an unlayering of my heart, a laying down of self and pride to reveal the softest and most vulnerable parts of myself. And strangely enough, it has been the tangible things that have worked in conjunction with this unlayering to make me ready to hold him, to connect to him, to see his face and stay up late at night watching him sleep.
Two weeks ago, I stripped and prepped a part of Abi Kate’s girly cloth diapers, and within a week and half I’d sold almost all of them, making a quick $300 bucks (see it also pays to cloth diaper-- literally), which I used to buy part of Abram’s stash (with 100 bucks left over- yay!). And as these teeny tiny diapers have arrived in my mailbox, it has made me want to count down the weeks like I did with Abi Kate. Just until I can hold him. I wasn’t really certain I was going to cloth diaper in the newborn phase…I’ve done the newborn phase before, and exclusive breastfeeding alone will keep you fully busy in those earliest weeks. I mean, you literally have about an hour between each feeding. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle that along with a parenting a toddler and add in extra laundry loads…. But I rationalized, telling myself that I’ve breastfed before, so the mechanics should be pretty second nature for me at this point. And once that first little diaper arrived, well… I was sold. I’ve felt the need for simplicity in our home lately (really, don’t stand too still in this house… you might be taken to the Goodwill). I’m not sure if it’s from nesting or just a shift in myself, but less has been my aim. With Abi Kate, I had a million different diapers-- brands, types, fabrics, etc. This time I’ve felt the need to streamline things and cut back . I never would’ve imagined I’d be a prefold girl, but something about the basics of just cotton and a few covers-- the frugality and the simple consistency has appealed to me. So prefolds and pockets (only my favorite brand this time) are making up his stash. Almost all of his diapers have arrived or have been ordered. It makes his coming all very real. And I love it. I think once his room is ready (or mostly ready), I’ll be fully ready too.
A few of his cute little diapers... how can his booty be so small?!
Despite my massive belly, I’m only at a 7 pound weight gain, which is quite a bit less than where I was with Abi Kate at the beginning of my third trimester. I’ll probably start packing it on any day now. ;) Or I’m just going to have a huge baby (which is a statement that I hear often--- one that, for the record, I do not adore).
I'm so eager to meet this little boy, to see him in our home, to love him with our actions and not just with our hearts. So bring it on, April...we're almost ready for you!