Monday, March 25, 2013

March Madness (Minus the Basketball)

So much for posting once a week, eh? As usual, life has been busy. This entire month has been a bustle of busyness. But busy with the really, really good things that this life offers us sometimes-- celebrating friends' coming-soon babies, celebrating our coming-soon baby, celebrating new marriage & the goodness that binds those different events together-- love 

A few months ago, I started thinking of some special things I could do to mark this pregnancy with its own uniqueness-- things that I didn't do in Abi Kate's pregnancy. I have a sweet friend who does henna tattoos and all things birth related (really, if you need a childbirth class, a doula, essential oils, a belly cast, or henna -- she's your girl. You can check out her services here). I knew I wanted  the "painting" be a special experience, so I invited a few close friends over. This was in no way an exhaustive gathering of closest friends, but just the ones that I knew I needed to be present for this, were available to be there, & with the exception of one (who is so close to me that we even share genes ;) ) they all have something in common with me in this season-- they've been exactly where I'm at. They are mothers. Most of them of 2 children. I wanted it to be a time of fun and celebrating, but also a time of honesty and prayer. Each of these women all know me well- they've proven themselves close friends. They know the harder details of our loss, they know about the scale of emotions and fears I worked through in the in between time of our loss and Abram's pregnancy. And simply put, they just love me well. They know I make mistakes and they love me through them. They respect me as a woman and a parent, so when they walk away from me, I know that their communications about me are genuine. I don't feel like they play nice to my face but discuss my inadequacies after they're away. They support me and understand our birth decisions.... and not because we've all had the same experience-- we haven't. But they recognize, without question, why the preparation for the day is important to Tommy and I. We all parent differently, or don't parent quite yet ,but there's a unifying love that supercedes that-- Christ.
So, we all came together and ate a lot. And laughed. I even ate fudge pie while Heidi worked. We took pictures and talked. We dug through Heidi's oils and my living room smelled really good. And then when it was all done, I shared with them my personal concerns about my pregnancy and birth, and they all laid hands on me and prayed over me & those specific concerns. It was an incredible blessing.

 See, I totally ate that fudge pie ;)
 The transformation is really neat, so I'm totally sacrificing myself on the altar of dignity with my huge belly & the pregnancy stretch marks that I don't adore. Heidi free-handed the whole thing. 
 The beauty of henna--- it covers pregnancy stretch marks
 All done! Texting pics to my friend who was busy having her wedding hair practiced.
 My shirt is only up because the paste had to dry! Seriously, he is so low, he really IS going to fall out.
 One of my closest friends, Lauren, is due 3 days before me. And she has the cutest kind of belly that makes you think you shouldn't stand beside her while pregnant!
When I took the tape & paste off the following day, Abi Kate was with me. While I pulled each strip, she said, "Abram is coming!" I just looked at her and said, "I wish it was that easy!"
   She also tried on the tape strips.... just for good measure.
Then, two days later we celebrated Abram's impending arrival with a shower with more friends that I love. It was so sweet to open little boy packages with blue gifts inside. And I hate myself for walking out and leaving my camera at home. I'm so thankful for friends who love this little boy before he is even here.

We had maternity pictures done, and I loved looking at the end result of those pictures in comparison to the ones we had done two years ago-- to see how our family is and has grown. Several weeks before, I'd run into an accquaintance from high school that I hadn't seen in years at a restaurant. We chatted for a minute and after walking away, I remembered that she was now a photographer. So, after contacting her and realizing that she didn't think I was a total crazy hippie (or maybe she does but hides it really well!), we set up a time for pictures. Because she was so dedicated, the weather was pretty gray for the day we picked and she insisted on giving us quality pictures with the right lighting. So we took pictures of just my henna and met up again the following week-- and she was so very right (you can see more of Cody's work here.) I'm so grateful we opted to capture these moments. We will treasure them without a doubt.



I spent the next weekend celebrating two friends' little babies-- we are all due 4 days apart at the most. Clearly, August was a really good time to get pregnant. It's been fun being pregnant with my friends, sharing in all the joys and harder parts of pregnancy with them. ;)

And then this past weekend, we had the privilege to stand by friends that we've loved for a really long time as individuals, long before Tommy and I were ever married or even dated-- and we watched them become one under Christ. It was a beautiful wedding, and I love a good wedding. The decor was gorgeous and everything about it looked exactly like the personality of my beautiful friend-- from her hair to her dress, to the reception tables, to the aisle runner-- it was just her. I love when that happens. But what was more beautiful was the knowledge of what was taking place. Seeing two people who individually follow Christ, unite together to run the rest of their race here on earth as one instead of two-- that's what is beautiful. I cried when my little girl walked down the aisle throwing petals, stopping for a few seconds midway to consider the flowers in her bag and continuing  (partially because I was so relieved that she didn't run and ruin the wedding!) I cried when I saw my friend step onto the aisle runner with her dad, and not just because she looked physically beautiful (and she did), but because I knew the significance of what she was walking towards, the importance & reward of the covenant of marriage. And I cried because I caught the gaze of my husband standing across from me during the vows, and I knew we were both doing the same thing- remembering the moment when we made those vows and how they've unfolded for us in the last six and a half years, both feeling  very blessed to witness the beginning of the same thing for friends that we love who had waited so long for that day. And the little boy inside me started kicking while they took communion, and I thought about how things have come full circle for us inside our marriage, how the baby inside and the one out in the audience are the best results of those vows, so I stood there hoping the same precious things for our friends and cried some more.  
 Petal-throwing (Abi Kate is in the back)
 Bless the child who bruises just like her momma ;)
*I totally lifted these from Facebook. But Holly can also photograph your memories for you here
I could blame all those tears on pregnancy, but that's not it. I love the biblical design of marriage. I love its reflection of Christ and the church. I love my marriage. And I love the very selfless man with whom I share my home and heart. To share every aspect of your life with someone else- the good and the bad, the minute things and the really important ones, the physical and emotional and spiritual-- it is so good. It is work and requires personal sacrifice as you put the other person's needs first, but the rewards are  sweet. The intention put into the relationship and the friendship that runs deep makes the rewards even sweeter. So to stand in support of people you love embarking on that same journey, it is humbling. We are eager to see our friends experience such incredible moments together now instead of as individuals.   
 The Bentons! Woo hoo!!  (This photo is courtesy of Holly, too!)
We were resting between dances-- I could do one dance and then contractions demanded that I rest before the next one haha ;) We had a blast! May I also suggest that after looking at myself in this picture, when you're almost 9 months pregnant, you should under no circumstances, hunch down for a picture!
So, that brings me all the way til now....35 weeks. And in all likelihood, the countdown til Abram's arrival could be done on one hand. If he arrives before week 40, I will consider it a result of the Cha Cha Slide's demands to hop a bunch and take it down low at the reception this weekend ;) Our birth kit arrived this weekend, and while they're dragging their feet, the antenatal herbs I took in Abi Kate's pregnancy should be arriving any day now.... and it makes everything feel VERY real. I had the opportunity to serve as the "pregnant subject" for a midwife's certifying skills exam this past week, so I got to hear our little guy again and feel the relief that he's still hanging out LOA (come on, buddy-- just a few more weeks-- you can stay that way!) His kicks are starting to hurt more often now as he grows bigger and stronger. But even when they make me wince, I'm trying to thoroughly enjoy them, because I know I'll only be feeling him from the inside for a few more weeks...and that makes me even more sentimental and emotional than usual-- good Lord.
All of this to say, after several weeks of exciting and high-emotion events, I am one big blubbering mess of emotion these days. And I think I can blame that on the little boy who is currently taking everything I've got ;) March has been a really treasured month for us and for our friends. It has been filled with the reminders of God's grace and outpouring over His children. But I'm almost ready for April... ready to see Abram's sweet face and ready to hold the fullness of him in my arms. I'm thankful for sweet moments this month and for the ones that await us.

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