Pregnancy the Third Time

It’s funny to me how I write blog posts – more like a diary, really, and I have so little time in which to write and post (insert “no internet at the house” story) that I literally sit down, type and click publish.  I never proof-read, or really ponder as I am typing, although most of what I say has been mulled over in my mind for many days.  It just seems such a strange way to write a blog!

So, this time, as I am sitting here with a heater at my feet, watching the clock and two little boys who are semi-satisfied with a random Great Clips coupon they found, I am full of thoughts about this pregnancy, this baby.  Little Michael.  I am growing so excited to meet him!  It’s crazy how time has flown, and yet we seem to drag at this stage.  Every week I reach the end and think, “8 weeks left???  Seriously?!  How can this take so long!”  I knew from previous experience that the last couple of months tends to be tedious this way and so I deliberately put all thoughts of baby and baby-prep on the back burner until I was well into the third trimester.  I didn’t look at baby books.  I didn’t document pregnancy symptoms.  I didn’t pay attention to how my changing body felt, or sort through baby clothes, or make plans to ease the postpartum/new family experiences, and yet…. Here I sit.  34 weeks pregnant.  6 long weeks to go.  I gave myself permission to work on and think of baby stuff just a short two weeks ago and you know what?  It’s all done.  Baby clothes are cleaned and sorted all the way through the coming summer months.  Baby ‘stations’ are set up around the house.  Towels and sheets and diapers and postpartum supplies for our anticipated home birth are ready and waiting, and I have read the baby books all the way from conception to baby’s six week check-up.  I feel SO READY  to meet our little Michael!

I learned some things from our other babies.  Lil J taught me confidence as a Mama.  He was sweet, and smooth, and let me make mistakes, and it was really peaceful.  William?  Taught me humility.  He was challenging, and unpredictable, and needy and taught me that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to baby problems, and that raising a baby is almost more about raising a Mama than anything else.  This time around, I hope to greet Michael with low expectations and a lot of grace.  I hope to just enjoy who he is, and not worry or fret if he doesn’t fit the mold I had imagined.

God has been kind to me in giving me an amazingly comfortable pregnancy (even with morning sickness it has been easier than last time!).  I even feel…I don’t know, confident, maybe? about the up-coming birth.  I’ve done it twice and so a third time, while it looms big in my future, doesn’t fill me with the same fear and self-doubt that I experienced previously.  I know it will be hard, it will hurt, I will question my sanity, but I also know that God is bigger, that He will see me through, that it is over so quickly and it is so worth it, and that the biggest struggle is not the pain but the fear and the fear is something I can give to God.

So, I am waiting in our little nest.  Preparing the last freezer meals this week.  Shopping ahead (why do I always have a frantic need to stock up on toilet paper when I reach this phase of pregnancy?)  Enjoying the easy days of just two little ones.  Smiling at all the comments about how “small”  I look, and how “it’s all baby!” – because I know I only look small because he’s sitting so low, and I further know that I am not carrying a baby in my thighs, therefore….all that extra weight is NOT baby. 🙂

Marriage With Kids

It cracks me up how different my relationship with Jordan has become since our kids made their entrance into the world.  You know that you are married with kids when your idea of a date is dropping the kids off at Grandma’s, grabbing a pizza and going home to sit on your couch (and probably take a nap)!  Or, better yet, you go grocery shopping together – because that is SO much easier minus little ones!  You know you are parents when you pull into your driveway and deliberately let the van idle for 30 minutes, because you know that as soon as you turn off the engine and open the door, the marathon begins (the car seat un-buckling, kid-carrying, diaper bag, milk cup and blankie grabbing, complete with at least one moment of discipline), and you just don’t have the energy.

The cool thing is, children really do make your marriage better, stronger, more fun.  You go from being a care-free pair of kids gallivanting through life to a well-practiced team, and there is great fulfillment in working together.  Snuggling on the couch, watching your boys play in their funny toddler way, and knowing that the two of you are in this together and that you are succeeding…it’s a great feeling!  Not to mention the closeness you must have developed to be able to read one another’s minds – like when Child A is having a melt down, but you are in the middle of a diaper change with Child B, and you give “the signal” to your spouse with a single raised eyebrow and your spouse understands that Child A is in need of a spanking, a cup of milk and a clean shirt, in that order.  It’s amazing.

It’s true that it is not so easy to be spontaneous once you have little ones.  It’s also true that you no longer want to be going, going, going like you did when it was just the two of you, partly because you no longer have the energy, but also because your house just feels like home.  You actually enjoy just hanging out in your own four walls.  The entertainment is already there, and so much more exciting than a movie, or a trip – you have a two year old, and therefore, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

I do feel that we have become pretty well adapted to two children.  It’s kind of scary.  Cause we are about to be launched into the three-child territory, and our perfect little routine is going to be blown to smithereens.  I’m sure we need it, though.  There’s nothing like a new baby for a little spiritual “growth spurt”, and what would we do without growth?!

And….Part 2

Last time, I shared some personal conclusions I reached on the issue of birth control for our family, and this time around I want to explore the issue of birth control for Christians in general.  Note, I said “for Christians”. Obviously, if you are not a Christ-follower, most of what I have to say doesn’t apply to you, so no offense, please.

In the first place, there is the fact that some BC pills do in fact cause a very early abortion.  If you believe that life begins at conception (and I do), then as a Bible believer you have no choice but to avoid those types.  The gray area is that every pill I’ve ever heard of is believed to have the “handy back-up plan” of preventing a fertilized egg from implanting (surviving) in the event that conception takes place, which is essentially forcing the body to miscarry or abort – and this is true even for those pills that claim to prevent ovulation/fertilization.  That is because the level of hormones necessary to completely prevent ovulation is dangerous for a healthy woman, and so the pills contain a lower dose.  However, these pills have never been “proved” to cause a miscarriage, so many Christians believe it’s ok.  Either way, I take issue with the idea of drastically changing the natural hormone balance of my body for the majority of my (rather extensive) fertile years.  It just doesn’t seem smart.  Why not go with God’s original design and have a baby every couple of years as He blesses you?

Well, there are several reasons Christians would rather avoid having babies than go with the flow.  And this is what I really find interesting.  Because, often, the reasons we give are the exact same reasons people choose abortion.

1. I can’t afford a baby right now.  While this might sometimes be true, I have never met a Christian family who claimed such a thing who lived in actual poverty.  As in, “can’t feed my family or put a roof over their heads” poverty.  Typically the people who claim the money issue are the same ones who eat out all the time, by nice clothes, drive newer cars, live in big houses and put their (2) kids through every sport imaginable.  What they mean by “can’t afford” is, “Can’t afford to sustain this life style”.  I know there are different situations, but I also know the American expectation of life style is pretty high, and that by lowering those expectations we can “afford” much more than we think.  I know.  I grew up in a family and surrounded by families who chose this life style of more kids, less stuff.

2. This is not the right time.  This is a hard question for humans to decide.  I mean, how often in life have we been through something for which we felt unprepared, and yet, that very event became one of our biggest blessings.  As a Christian, I believe these things are in the hand of God.

3. There is a risk of birth defect.  This is usually only an issue to Christians over the age of 35, but I have heard that it is actually irresponsible to get pregnant at that age, and risk having a special needs baby.  ????  Like special needs babies don’t happen at any other age?  Like God isn’t ultimately in control of that?  Like those babies are better never born?  This doesn’t make sense to me.

4. I can’t handle any more kids.  I’ve never seen someone turn down a job promotion because they “couldn’t handle” the extra responsibility, and yet people turn down more children for that very reason all the time.  My mom used to say, “If you have three kids, you can handle three kids.  You can’t handle eight, because you don’t have eight, but if/when you get to eight God will give you what you need to deal with it and do a good job.”  I really believe that’s true.  I’ve seen many grade schoolers struggle with a math problem and claim they can’t do it, but what they really need is to learn and practice.  If I am not good at time management, that is not an excuse for wasting my time.  It means I need to get good at it.  I need to learn.  I need to grow.  I need to adapt to my work load, trusting that God won’t give me more than I can carry.  This is just part of life, and we have to apply these principles to every area if we are going to succeed.

In conclusion, while there may be some good reasons to consider spacing your children (and a handful of inconvenient, but healthy, methods for doing so) the majority of reasons given to me by my Christian peers are pretty selfish.  Sadly, it seems that as a whole, the Christian  community has the same heart and mind set as our pro-choice opponents, except we believe in doing things in a more sophisticated way by disposing of the by-product of our natural married love before we even knew it existed.  I can’t help but feel that this is part of the reason we can’t convince the world to not abort their babies.  We don’t actually value our own very much (or we wouldn’t spend so much money preventing them!), why do we expect them to value theirs?

Blessings, the Believer and the Birth Control Question (or, Why Christians Aren’t Winning the Abortion War) Pt. 1

There are probably millions of articles written on the subject of birth control and the Christian, so I doubt I have anything new to add, but here’s a few thoughts from my personal experience.

I come from a family of eight children.  Needless to say, if my parents did use birth control (they didn’t) they must have been terrible at it.  I also come from that weird, homeschooling, girls wear skirts, self-sufficient type of family that everyone has stereotyped in their mind.  So, my “norm”, when I reached adulthood, was one of large, happy, home school families who raised 6-12 children on a single income, lived frugally, and memorized Bible verses.  My life experiences are dotted with periodic new babies and the famous “buddy system” in which older kids (like myself, as the second oldest) paired up with a young sibling to most effectively run the household and maintain order during an outing.  I loved it.  Never, in my entire childhood and it’s list of petty childhood woes, was “too many siblings” a complaint.  Neither were, “I don’t get to have new clothes and toys” or “my parents don’t have enough time for me”.  Those things just never crossed my mind.  I was surrounded by my best friends and it was a blast!

Then I reached adulthood.  After a careful look around, I realized that not everyone was like ‘us’.  Not even all the Church people we fellow-shipped with.  In fact, most of them weren’t like us at all.  How weird, I thought.  Still, I assumed that two-child families must merely have struggled with fertility issues, or some such thing, and I shrugged it off.  I got married without even seriously considering the question of birth control, because, for me, it had never been a question at all!  Married people have as many kids as God gives them, end of story.

So I was in for a big surprise.  Within three months of our wedding, Jordan and I were thrilled to be expecting our first baby.  Some people (from Church) commented that it was a little earlier to be thinking about a baby, and wondered if ‘it’ was an accident?  I was like, “Huh??”  And then, when our oldest was a meager 4 1/2 months old, we were blessed with another pregnancy.  (Side note: apparently I am not one of those females for whom breast-feeding is a fertility suppressant.)  This time, we were a little shy about telling people right away, because the instant reaction was…pity.  Commiseration.  Questions.  “Wow.  Was this a surprise?”  Well, yes.  Aren’t they always a surprise?  “So, are you done after this?”

It was during this second pregnancy that birth control finally became an issue for me.  Jordan and I wondered if maybe we were doing things wrong.  After all, there was not a single family in our 500+ member “Conservative Baptist” church with more than three children.  Our Pastor preached that it was “irresponsible” to just “have kids”, that God gave us a brain so that we would use it, and using it obviously meant limiting the size of our family.  Our friends said they would love to have more than two children, but they wouldn’t be able to spend the right amount of quality time with them if they did, or couldn’t afford to raise them.  Other friends said we would destroy my body if we didn’t quit after two, or at least wait a couple years for the next one.  Some well-meaning people even suggested that it was wrong for Jordan to “do that” to me.

The end of my second pregnancy was rough.  The first four months of William’s life was even rougher.  When my cycle returned, as it had before, withing 6 weeks of giving birth, in spite of a voraciously nursing infant, I actually became afraid of getting pregnant again.  Jordan and I discussed the possibility of using some sort of birth control.  Maybe it would be better just to give us some space?  Jordan was afraid of hurting me, physically, if I became pregnant too soon, and I was afraid of the emotional stress of another hard pregnancy and newborn.  We toyed with the idea for awhile, and these are the conclusions we came to.

1. Children are a blessing.  Period.  Even when they don’t feel like it.  Scripture makes it very clear that one of God’s blessings on a people is fertility and a large family.  Just because other people don’t think so, doesn’t change that truth.

2. Society’s definition of normal should not be our guide.  It was very not normal to have children less than two years apart, but you know what?  If that’s what God gives you, it’s your normal.

3. It’s a trust issue.  I realized I was afraid God would hurt me, give me more than I could handle, crush me to the ground with hardship, just because He could.  The idea was, if I didn’t protect myself and take matters into my own hands, God would do things His way and it would be awful.  But that’s just not true.  When William was 4 months old I realized that I am God’s child and He wants to take care of me in the most perfect way, and that includes managing my fertility and whatever pregnancy hardships I must face.  So, I began praying about it.  I prayed (as if He were a loving Father, not a bully) that God would give us a little more of a break between William and the next one, simply because William is such a difficult child.  I prayed that I would learn to trust Him with this and see whatever He chose to do as good.  And suddenly, I stopped worrying.  I stopped holding my breath every month, cringing if my cycle was a millisecond late.  I stopped being afraid of what other people might think if/when the next pregnancy happened.

We were super thrilled to find out God was blessing us again.  It was a little disheartening to share this amazing news and get the, “Oh, poor you!” response, but even so, we knew – we know! – we are blessed by this third child, and every child who comes after, and that God’s timing really is perfect.

And…that’s way too much for one post.  More on the birth control issue later 🙂

Word

We are back to real life, after the Christmas travels and fun times.  The Christmas tree is gone (burned), the decorations are packed, our house once again looks streamlined and functional, not festive and glowing.  Jordan is still working on our rental property daily, hoping to have it ready soon, so I have had plenty of time to think about this new year and ponder the changes I would like to make in it.

It seems like most of the people I know are picking a word for the year, rather than making resolutions.  I see their point, but one word for the whole year seems a little narrow and possibly a bit vague.  So, I think I will focus on a word for the month.

January’s word will be….rhythm.  Post-Christmas season always seems like the perfect time to clean up your life/home/schedule and rediscover a rhythm that flows with the wintery days.  I know that the boys and I have really been working on developing a good routine, and it has been very peaceful as a result.  There is a new-baby phase awaiting us just around the corner, and then Jordan’s annual summer craziness of busy weekends and lots of traveling, and then gardening and canning and a whole autumn of preparing for the holidays and putting up produce, so for now I want to focus on the simplicity of doing the same thing, day in and day out, and enjoying those little routines.  It is hard for me to let go of the need to be fanatically busy, but really, having enough time to whip up a pan of brownies with my two little helpers, or sort through newborn clothes  is quite pleasant!

As far as New Year’s goals go, I do have a few of those, but they involve things like, potty training Jordan before little Michael arrives, and uninteresting stuff like that.  After months of doing my best to ‘forget’ that I am pregnant, I am finally focusing on Baby’s upcoming arrival, and am getting super excited at the realization that I am about 8 weeks away from holding my little newborn son!  For some reason, even though I experienced morning sickness for the first time with this pregnancy, I have been way more comfortable than I was with Jordan and especially with William!  I like to think God is being merciful to me, as the last three month’s of my pregnancy with William were physically and emotionally stressful to the point of almost daily tears.  So far, I still haven’t experienced that awful “I can’t breathe” sensation that haunted me from 20 weeks onward with both boys, and particularly disrupted my sleep. And the heartburn, while bad, has yet to become unmanageable.  I am so, so thankful for that!

I am also thankful to be starting the New Year in our new house.  It feels like home!  Our beautiful, perfect home. There are just no words to describe how nice it has been to feel secure in a house that can hold our growing family, complete with a yard big enough for a garden.  Super, super happy about that!  So thankful God has blessed us with these amazing physical blessings!