Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

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I’ve had two amazing births. Neither one happened naturally, but I’ve loved them both just the same. And though both of my babies do things on their own time and in their own way, each one made it easy on me when it came to their delivery.

In July, 2012, Kyle and I became parents when Judah was born. And, as many of you know, between July 2013 to May 2014, we experienced three miscarriages. (You can read their stories here, here, and here). After going through so much heartache, we came to the decision that we would try one last time for another baby. Thank goodness we did, and thank God that His timing is perfect.

In early May, Judah and I surprised Kyle with the news that I was expecting again. With the history we had, going to her initial ultrasound appointment was quite the roller coaster of emotion. Thankfully, we heard a strong little heartbeat and saw our girl for the first time.

I did not enjoy being pregnant this time around. Though I didn’t experience morning sickness, it was physically very different than my previous pregnancies. My hips were in so much pain that it was hard for me to walk some days. I couldn’t sit on the floor and play with my son, which was devastating. I couldn’t sleep a majority of nights, and I was constantly exhausted. Not to mention the “what ifs” that come from experiencing three failed pregnancies. Thankfully being pregnant is temporary and the reward is so much greater than the short time of discomfort.

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Lennon’s due date was January 7. She was positioned very low in my pelvis, and I had been experiencing early labor for weeks. This, among other factors led to an induction. I remember my doctor scheduling it and feeling like I had failed. I wanted to know what it was like to go into labor naturally, be able to work through it at home for a majority of the time, and then rush to the hospital while yelling at my husband to drive more carefully, yet with lightning speed in the car 😉  But honestly, feeling guilty about it was so stupid. She was full term, and for some reason, my body requires a little jump start to get the party started. Besides, I was already at 4 cm, almost completely effaced, and I have gone from five to 10 cm in the snap of a  finger and I’m pretty sure Kyle didn’t want to deliver this baby in our living room.  It turned out that my induction was necessary anyway, because my doctor tried to break my water only to find out it had been leaking for an unknown amount of time.

On January 7, we headed to the hospital early in the morning to have our baby. I was hooked up to all my machines and my drip started at 8 AM. About an hour into it, I was asked if I wanted an epidural. I said no because though my contractions were progressing quickly, again, I felt that guilt of not “really” experiencing those intensely painful moments, almost as if it’s a right of passage to getting your baby. However, my husband, nurse, and anesthesiologist looked at my contraction patterns and told me if I didn’t want to feel the “ring of fire,” now was the time. They also told me, no one gets an extra prize for not getting one. I agreed and was thankful I did.

At 11 AM, my nurse informed us she was heading out to her lunch break. She checked me and I was still around 6 cm, so we all figured in her half hour break, not much would happen and we’d see her when she got back. A few minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure and pretty “pushy” as they would call it. I held off for a couple more minutes, certain that it was not yet time because I was just checked moments ago and still so far away from pushing time. However, it was getting more intense feeling, so I called a nurse. She checked me and sure enough, within ten minutes I had gone from a 6 to a 10 and it was time to have our baby. I pushed three times, and our girl was born at 11:31 AM. (I told you my kids make it easy on me!) She was eight pounds, three ounces, and 19 inches long.

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I remember so vividly seeing her little purple body, all scrunched up, being lifted into the air and placed in my arms. Her first cries were amazing. She was the spitting image of her brother, and Kyle and I were instantly so in love with this beautiful little girl.

We “oohed” and “ahhed” over her for several hours. Those first moments with your baby are pure magic–examining every inch of their little bodies, snuggling them close, and whispering “happy birthday, little love” over and over.

Then it was time for Judah to meet his sister. He fell in love with her instantly and has been the best, most gentle, and loving big brother from that moment on. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition. Our little guy loves his baby sister something fierce. And it’s totally true, all those moments I spent worrying about how I could love another being as much as my first baby were instantly gone the moment I laid eyes on her. And just when you think you can’t love your kids more than you do, you see your son holding his new sister and your heart beats so fast, you feel like you could burst.

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Lennon, we dreamt of this day for so long. I hope you know how deeply loved you are, and how highly anticipated your life has been. You were born at the perfect time for our family. You are treasured, you are precious, you are prized, and you are adored. I cannot wait to watch you grow and marvel at the person  you become. Happy birthday, beautiful girl, I love you.

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“Burt, are we fuck ups?”

I know, I dropped the f-bomb in the title. But, it’s a quote, and it makes sense in this particular post. So, can we all be mature and get past that for a second? Mmmk, thanks.

The past two years have been a whirlwind. Those of you who keep up with my blog know what I’m talking about. Those of you who don’t, here’s a recap of some of the highlights: We moved across the country, suffered three miscarriages, my husband has gone through three job transitions, I was laid off from my job, we bought a house, and now we are expecting a little girl this January. Phew. That’s a hell of a lot to go through in a two year span. Oh, and through it all, Kyle and I are miraculously still married…but seriously. A move, a job change, or a loss of a child alone can put a marriage through the ringer. Going through all of that plus more in a short span of time has definitely made for some tense months. But we’ve prevailed, and we still are.

Something happens to your world when you know a child is coming. You start to look at yourself with a bit more scrutiny. You no longer let the days just simply pass by because you’re well aware that you’re shortly going to be responsible for another life. There is a shift in your actions. Even before your child arrives, you start doing everything for them. This is what’s happening in our world right now.

After Judah was born, that pressure has remained, it just somehow settled into a routine. Despite all these transitions and highs and lows, we’ve somehow begun to just go through the motions, doing things as expected. I just received a text from my husband, who inspired this post, saying that he’s realized how much he’s let society and other people dictate who he has become and he’s getting pissed about it. I think that’s amazing. Look at this man I’ve married, recognizing this and taking his life back!

This last time that Kyle and I decided to try again for a baby was our last effort. We had a hard road, not as hard as some though, when it came to having as second baby. So when you give it “one last try,” you also have to allow yourself to start to accept your life as it is. We were starting to become okay with just Judah. We were beginning to look into things like adoption (which is still very much a desire of ours in the future). I was accepting the fact that I might never carry another child again, and that was alright. I was also beginning to recognize that in a short time, I was going to need to find a new job, as Judah would be starting school. And then, we were lucky enough to become pregnant. And again, our perspectives, our lives, altered.

Kyle and I watched the movie “Away We Go” before having Judah, and we watched it again a few weeks ago. The characters in the movie are ridiculous, but there are comparabilities to each of the people that the lead personas come in contact with who also represent people in our lives. And there are similarities to that, “holy crap, we are going to be responsible for someone else and we have no idea who we are ourselves” plight that the main characters are going through. There’s a line in the movie before the official journey to find a home for the lead characters begins. Maya Rudolf’s character looks at her longtime boyfriend, played by John Krasinski and asks, “Burt, are we fuck ups?” I think this is something Kyle and I have asked before having each kid.

From society’s standpoint, I think we are. Sure, we’ve got a house, a dog, and a jankie fenced yard, two healthy kids, and a good church. However, I stay at home when we really can’t afford it, and Kyle barely makes enough money for us to sustain our mortgage. We’re on state assistance. We’ve never vacationed anywhere, unless you count visiting family, Kyle and I are both still wearing most of our clothes from college (and some from high school…it’s considered vintage now right?), a splurge on dinner out is a $7.99 pizza maybe once a month, and most of the things we own have been craigslist finds or gifted to us by our very generous parents. All this is maybe considered okay by society for someone just out of college, but we’re nearing thirty and have two kids. Hashtag winning?

I think what both my husband and I are going through is recognizing again that it’s not what jobs we have, how much money we make, or how many kids we raise that defines us. It’s the character we have, the friends and community we surround ourselves with, and the balance of all these things that makes up what we say about ourselves. And I think there’s a bit of that looming question, “are we fuck ups” that remains in everyone, especially during major transitions in life.

Point blank, it’s scary to look at your life realistically. It’s also really refreshing when you can begin to do so outside of what “the general public” expects you to make of it. Who decides that anyway? Who said by the time we were thirty we had to have it all figured out and a steady 401K ready for us when we reach the ripe age of 65 so we could gloat on our millions and become snow birds? Who says you can’t have kids until you make X number of dollars every month? We sure don’t. And let me tell you, Judah is one happy child. Money, career, it’s not everything.

We’re figuring it out one day at a time. Really, aren’t we all just a bunch of kids running around trying to parent other kids? Well, I’m taking a step in the direction of my husband’s lead and rediscovering me, outside of what society says I should or shouldn’t be. And my goodness, isn’t that one of the best things we can gift our kids with anyway? Nope, life’s not rainbows and butterflies in our house right now. There is a lot of financial stress and pressure and many tears (I am six months pregnant after all). But there’s also hope. We have Christ present in our home. Not always as much as he should be, but he’s there, leading the charge. I respect my husband fiercely. We love our kids deeply. We are far from perfect and far from normal in society’s eyes, but we’re doing our best, and I think our best is yet to come.

And, if you’ve never watched “Away We Go,” you should get on that. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to understand where we are, it’ll give you a pretty good glimpse.

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Second Baby Blues

I’m pretty sure my pregnancy hormones have been kicking into overdrive the last few days. I’ve got all the signs: I feel terribly fat and bloated, I’m getting kind of weepy (enter the crying at sappy commercials stage of life), and I had a burst of nesting energy so fierce that I painted our daughter’s nursery while my son was at a morning playdate. Yep…hormones.

But there’s another kind of emotion I’ve been dealing with the last few days, and I’m not entirely sure what to call it or what to do with it. I am over the moon about adding a baby to our family. We’ve tried for so long to make this happen and have experienced such heartbreak throughout the process, and I just know this time around is the perfect time for our daughter to join us. I’m also so excited about Judah being a big brother. He’s just going to be fantastic. He already talks to her, asks about her every day, and has readily taken to the fact that baby girl is taking over his “toy bedroom” when she gets here. He’s even discussed playing trucks with her.

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Yesterday, as we were sitting out on the porch together, talking about airplanes, I just paused and looked at my beautiful boy and welled up with tears. It’s been just the three of us for the past three years. He’s all we know. Every day when Kyle is at work, it’s just me and my boy. He has gotten me through the loss of three children, given me the drive to work to provide for my family when I just wanted to be playing cars with my kiddo, and he brings happiness to my life that nothing else can.

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I know that everything will be beyond wonderful when baby girl comes, but it’s been a little overwhelming for me to count down the weeks of pregnancy and also know that I’m counting down the days left with just Judah. The time that we’ve been blessed with to parent him has been indescribable. I know adding another will only enhance it, but sometimes it just seems so daunting.

Am I crazy here? Did any of you other moms out there experience this? Well, for now, I’m just embracing these emotions and using them to soak up and savor each moment I have just the three of us. We cannot wait for our baby to arrive, but I’m also okay with dragging out these last precious moments a little longer (although in about 17 weeks I might just be screaming from the rooftops: “get this kid outta me!”).

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Some Thoughts About Pregnancy.

*Warning* Much like my post about post-baby care, this is pretty candid and I talk a lot about my body and say the words boobs and vagina. If you can’t handle it, can’t laugh about it, or are scared to read it, that’s okay. I’ll catch you on the next post.

Pregnancy does some weird things to a woman. You cry about the stupidest things. You get pissed off for absolutely no reason. You eat like a teenage boy. And, you want to sleep basically all the time. Also, you feel may feel sick, and unknowing people might think you’re having a bit too much vino pretty frequently. Your boobs grow to the size of small cantaloupes, and while that’s awesome for small-chested people like myself, it’s also terrible because they hurt like the dickens. Sure I actually have some cleavage for the first time in my life, but oh my gosh, don’t ever hug me straight on. Seriously though.

So everyone is aware that when a woman has a baby, her body changes pretty drastically. Well, I am on my fifth pregnancy now (you can read about my other kiddos here, here, here, and here), and each time I have gotten preggers, I show a little faster every time. This one is no exception. I am eleven weeks along, and looking more like somewhere between 17-20. I remember being pregnant with Judah and being so excited when I thought I had “popped.” Whatever dude. That “pop” has got nothing on this one.

Judah at 10 weeks along

Judah at 10 weeks along

Current baby at 9 weeks along.

Current baby at 9 weeks along.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my body image for many years. Appearance, whether purposeful or not, was placed in high value in my home growing up. I’m sure some of it was my own insecurities, but I felt a lot of pressure to look a certain way all the time. This has carried into my adult life, and I work hard every day to get over myself, and to make sure my son grows up comfortable in his own skin. This pregnancy is no exception. Instead of trying to squeeze into certain pants or hide my growing belly, this time around I am delighted with every facet of the growing life inside me. When you lose multiple babies, it doesn’t matter any more. Every day there is evidence of a healthy and growing baby is a celebration. Sure, my hips widened basically the moment I got pregnant, but whatever. My body is doing it’s thing, and baby is doing theirs, and I’m just here to enjoy the ride.

Doctors, midwives, home births, vaccinations, no vaccinations, etc, etc. There are a million things you’re faced with when pregnant. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Do whatever you know is best for you and your child. I don’t care if you decide to have your baby in the middle of the forest, cavewoman style, wrapped in a sheep-skin. If that’s how you feel most relaxed and comfortable, more power to you. For me, I prefer a doctor, a hospital, and most likely an epidural, unless I get to the point where that’s not possible. I was induced with Judah and have felt SO much guilt with that for a long time. I was wrapped up in the pressures of a natural birth and letting the baby come on his own, yada yada. Well, when you’re two days short of 42 weeks, doing 200-plus jumping jacks a day (OMG, that must have been kind of hilarious for my husband to see), and that baby isn’t budging, I think you’ve done all you can to get things progressing naturally. At that point, it becomes about the safety of your child and yourself. I also want to enjoy the birth of my child, and for me, that means an epidural. Now, I’m not one to request one after the first contraction. For me, it’s important to feel some of that pain. Not only to experience the relief, but also to appreciate what’s going on. But I’m not going to feel bad for getting one this time, so long as my labor allows. I don’t care what anyone else says. I also think that if you can do it naturally and feel the best about that, more power to you. And, if you have to have a c-section, you still had a delivery. You’re still fierce. You’re still awesome and powerful, and deserve every bit of credit as that other mom who went cold turkey out in the woods and caught her baby with her bare hands. Either way ladies, let’s all be on each other’s team. WE FREAKING GREW A BABY INSIDE OUR BODIES FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND THEN PUSHED THAT HUMAN BEING THROUGH OUR VAGINAS. Okay? Okay. Phew.

Doctors…I got a good one this time around. It takes a certain type of person to make you feel comfortable enough to joke around while you’re spread eagle on an exam table. It’s a rare quality, I tell ya. You find one of those, consider yourself lucky. So thanks Dr. S for your ability to make me laugh in the MOST awkward situation ever.

And as for this pregnancy, I’m just in it to enjoy it. I’ve never felt more excited, more nervous, and more secure with a pregnancy in my life. I know that’s kind of contradictory, but…hormones.  Having kids is the biggest privilege we are entrusted with. We don’t know how long we will be able to parent these little lives, so I’m just excited for my fifth little baby, and the opportunity to fully love this life for however long or short I get to.