Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious – The Absolute Awesome Process of Pregnancy!

I am currently pregnant with my second child, and I know of at least 13 other women who are pregnant right now… so this just seemed to be the topic my mind is on most lately – Having a baby!!!  And it is so great to know this time around so many things I didn’t with my first child.  I have been less stressed, less OCD about everything, and less afraid.  All good things!  I can actually laugh about pregnancy now, because it is HILARIOUS!!!  If you don’t believe me, watch “What to Expect When Expecting” with Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez (and several other funny and good actors).  Obviously, it is a Hollywood film, so it isn’t pregnancy from a Christian’s point-of-view, but it is very real and very funny.  It is also honest, and as I get older, I appreciate honesty so much more than I used to!  The movie covers every perspective:  the surprise pregnancy, the been-trying-so-long-we-quit-trying surprise pregnancy, adoption, the pregnant woman that has absolutely no problems with her pregnancy at all, twins, emergency c-section, and even include the serious and heartbreaking reality of miscarriage.  But they include it all, the sweating, the swelling, hemorrhoids, and birth plans that never go the way they are typed!

In fact, the character that is a perfectionist and a birthing/breastfeeding expert in the movie says after her doctor suggests an emergency c-section, “No, I want to push.  I have a birth plan.  I want to push.”  The doctor says, “I understand that, but…” and she says, “It’s typed! I want to push!”  Like typing out a piece of paper is going to control how your body and baby progresses during delivery!  Hilarious!

My personal experience with pregnancy has been funny as well!  All pregnancies, I’m sure have their own tale or two of hilarity – with, I’m sure, most having at least weekly funnies occurring throughout the 40 weeks of growing a human.  And most hilarious moments occur because what you plan goes wrong or what you hadn’t planned for suddenly happens in a major way!

Myself being such a staunch planner, pregnancy has been quite funny for me and to me… and I have since learned that I should really just plan on going with whatever happens!  Go with the flow and laugh throughout the process.  Ya know that phrase, “Laugh so you won’t cry”?  Probably a pregnant woman, or the husband of a pregnant woman, came up with that!

In my naïve, planner’s mind, I thought that by the time I was 28 years old, I would have already given birth to at least 2 of the 4 children I planned on having.  28 just seemed like the perfect age to be halfway through childbearing.  I also thought 28 would be the perfect age, because I would still be young, but wiser than I had been in my early 20s.  The truth is that pregnancy and motherhood is a learning experience no matter your age or amount of previous wisdom!

And, of course, as every planner finds, rarely do plans go exactly as planned.  I didn’t get married until I was 26, so if I was going to have 2 kids by 28, I would have had to rush the whole process – which I thankfully realized would not be wise for us.  Kyle worked part-time and attended seminary, and when we were first married, we wanted it to just be “us’ for at least a year or 2.

Well, we just made the 2 year mark a month before Emersyn was born, but I am so thankful we took that time to just be us.  We built a foundation that has easily grown since becoming parents of one child.  I think if we had rushed parenthood just to fit my plan, we wouldn’t have known each other or ourselves as well as we do.

While we were dating, I requested that we make a list of 4 girl and 4 boy first and middle name combos that we agreed on.  I joke all the time that I wanted to know before I married him what his taste in names was, but it is the honest truth.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t have married him if he had horrible taste in names, but I at least wanted to be prepared for how easy or difficult naming our kids would be.  Thankfully we easily agreed on at least 3 “for sure” name combos with a flexible 4th for each gender, so we are pretty set for a while on naming our kids – especially since we hopefully we’ll only have one at a time!

And one reason I am glad we only have had one at a time, is because babies come in size XL in my family.  We don’t have little tiny babies that look like newborns that could break in half.  We have babies that look much older and neckless.  Kyle and I were both big babies – me being super-sized at 10 lbs 13 oz!  And Emersyn didn’t break the mold!  She was several months old before we ever saw her neck without digging for it!

I found out I was pregnant with Emersyn the morning after having thrown up Mexican food the previous evening for no reason.  Inside my mind I wondered instantly if I was sick or pregnant, but I didn’t say anything.  The next morning was the Monday of Spring Break.  Kyle went off to seminary class before I even got out of bed.  When I woke up, I took a test, and it was positive the moment the stick got wet!  The directions said that it took 2 minutes, so I laid the positive test aside thinking and kind of hoping that it would change over the 2 minutes.

It was, of course, still positive when the timer went off, but I didn’t know how reliable these things were, and I needed to do some research… so I went up the hill to my friend, Jessica’s, house to get online to do some research.  When I came in to her house she told me that she wasn’t feeling very good, and she thought she got whatever I had had the night before when I got sick on the Mexican food.  I told her that what I had, I didn’t think was contagious!  

All afternoon I read about common false negatives and very rare false positives.  I even texted my sister who was 3 months pregnant to ask her if she thought it could be a false positive.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have a baby, it was that my plan was not to get pregnant for another 3 months… yep, 3 months!  I know now that getting pregnant about 3 months from the time you wanted to is pretty much on time!

Getting pregnant isn't like making an appointment to get a pedicure.  Sure, you can try to treat it that way, but "People have sex; God makes babies".  And I have since seen too many friends try for a long time to get pregnant without becoming so.  It isn’t something God does on our timeline or for our convenience.  And that is what people do these days – they plan their birth control (chemical or natural) around when they want to have children.  We are all busy, and we want our pregnancies and childbirths to fit our schedules.  And I was hoping for a false positive because of a measly 3 months!  Ridiculous, I know!

And I started to learn very quickly, that if you can’t laugh at yourself, you should never get pregnant or raise children!  The whole process is one hilarious moment after another… granted, sometimes you have to wait until the moment is over and a few days pass before you can laugh, but laughing is the only way to survive it!

“Pregnancy brain” is a big producer of hilarious moments!  I once went to get in my car, looked down and saw that I had Kyle’s WAY-TOO-BIG for me flip-flops on… and I was going to go to Walmart in them without a thought!  I also found myself too many times with my keys locked in the car.  Or 45 minutes from home with an empty gas tank, with no purse, wallet, or phone!  I would forget even what side of a parking lot I had parked in, or if I had brushed my teeth or not!

Pregnancy hormones and emotions are also hilarious sources of comedy!  Early on in my first pregnancy we were having a yard sale, and we had to drive to get to the location we were having it.  We were running a little late, and I wanted cereal.  So I poured a bowl of cereal and milk, and walked to Kyle’s truck with it.  He said he didn’t like the idea, because he was afraid it was going to spill.  I said I would be careful, but wouldn’t you know that within seconds of being in the truck, I dropped the whole bowl down the middle gearshift and console… I was immediately angry, sorry, and humiliated… but for some reason I reacted like the Hulk!  I picked up what was now a 1/3 filled bowl, opened my door, threw the bowl and the rest of its contents all over the driveway and screamed an obscenity.  No, I don’t remember which one.  And I ran inside, sat down on the toilet lid and began to bawl.  I mean, I SOBBED!!!  Inside my head, I was asking myself, “Why are you being such a crazy person?!  Just go say you are sorry and clean it up!”  But I just sat there crying and scared of who I had become!  Kyle was smart and tried to console me instead of correcting me.  I think he was scared of me too, and I don’t blame him!

That story cracks me up just thinking about it now!

I loved every minute of my first pregnancy!  I even remember saying that most pregnant women were big babies and drama queens – it just isn’t that bad!  Well, that’s easy to say when you only throw up the day before you know you are pregnant and never feel sickness again!

As time went on, I started to swell.  And then I swelled some more.  My blood pressure and swelling were red flags for my midwife, who demanded that I go on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy!  I was only 7 months along!  I had the sick days available, but I didn’t want to use them just to lay around doing nothing!  I asked her what other options I had, and she said that if I could elevate my feet above my heart, then I could go to work.  I said, “You mean like in a recliner?!”  I said it as a joke, but she immediately agreed that that would work… “Are you serious?!” 

So I called my mother to tell her the comedic situation I was finding myself in.  It was Wednesday, and she was at church when she got my phone call.  So she told the people sitting around her that I needed to teach from a recliner for the next 2 months, and someone sitting there said, “We have a recliner that is just sitting in our kids’ room, not being used.  She can have it as long as she needs it.”

My parents delivered the recliner to me on Thursday, and Friday morning the awesome maintenance men of Westville Public Schools were carrying it into my classroom and putting it together for me at the front of the room!

And I taught 5th graders from that recliner for 2 months!  I thank the Lord for SmartBoards and AirLiners, because that is how I taught without ever having to get up out of my chair!  My feet were elevated above my heart, and my awesome students that year kept me accountable about staying that way!  I would get up to go get something off my desk, and a student would say, "Are you supposed to be up out of your chair?".  Hello, I'm the adult and you're a kid... but yes, you're right; I should have asked someone for help.  So many tasks were done by 10-year-olds.  I had them taking attendance, passing out papers, fetching and carrying for me.  It was like I had 22 interns, all under 5 feet!

On top of that, I also had to stay home and keep my feet elevated on evenings and weekends.  And wouldn’t you know that this effective-immediately bed rest came the day after I had done the monthly grocery shopping!  I am the cook in our house, so I had to type up all the recipes I was planning on making for the whole month for Kyle to follow!  What was funny, is that I am not a cook that uses recipes.  And I definitely never measure things out.  So trying to explain my “recipes” via typing them out for my husband to understand was quite comical!

He would call out from the kitchen, “How much is ‘some garlic salt’?”  And I would say, “I don’t know, SOME!”  Hilarious!

Also, every weekend when I had to stay home, feet elevated, and do 24-hour urine collections.  Doesn’t that sound fun?!  Every weekend there sat a big red jug in my refrigerator that said “Hazardous – Do not drink!” on the side.  All day and night, I would catch all of my urine and pour it into the red hazardous jug, and every Monday morning, Kyle would drop off the urine jug to be tested at the lab.  And then every Monday afternoon I would go get the results on my way back from work!  2 months of that!  It is even funnier when someone opens your refrigerator and asks, “What is that?!”  Hmm, let’s see… do you want the vague answer of “None of your business”, or do you want to know that that is a gallon of my pee?!

And the fact that pregnant women even try to sleep toward the end of the 9 months is pretty funny!  Getting comfortable is impossible!  And rolling over is an 8-point turn!  I have to push off something, then pull the side of the bed, and kick my legs – all while grunting and breathing heavily!  By the time I get rolled over, my heart is racing and I am exhausted like I just went for a run – just to roll over!  Since your abs are completely divided and pushed to the side when you are pregnant, you have no help from your middle section at all to make movements – and while you’re laying down, gravity has a field day fighting you too!

Once I finally get to sleep, I have the scariest, most vivid dreams ever!  The worst when I was pregnant with Emersyn is a tie between two nightmares!  In one I was using the toilet in a restaurant bathroom and I miscarried into the toilet.  And when I looked into the toilet, the baby looked like one of those old baby dolls with missing hair, and it blinked at me from underwater in the bowl.  Those were the creepiest blue eyes I have ever seen!  The second nightmare was that a witch was eating all of my family and friends, but was keeping me alive to eat the baby when I delivered… yeah, you don’t sleep much after seeing that!

Then the birthing video!  Why did they have to show that birthing video?!  I don’t need to see that!  Besides, as the mother giving birth, you don’t see it from that angle anyway, and I would have preferred it stay that way!  Ignorance is truly bliss, and I believe God put babies in our mid-section to grow there for several reasons – 2 of those reasons being so that 1)You don’t see how swollen your ankles are toward the end, and 2) you can’t see anything going on “down there” when you are laying down and pushing.  The doctors and nurses can see that stuff all they want to; they signed up to be at that end!  I did not!  At our birthing class, we watched the video of the woman giving birth.  I thought I was going to pass out!  I had tears in my eyes, and I turned and looked at Kyle; he was teary-eyed too.  He said, "That's so sweet."  I felt sick to my stomach and said, "You thought that was sweet?!  It's disgusting!"

 And of course they couldn’t’ turn the video off after the baby was born; they just HAD to show us the birth of the placenta!  “Bloody tree roots” was all I could think of, and I think I silently cried myself to sleep for a week after seeing it, because I was scared to death to see it in real life!  Kyle tried to encourage me, and so did many other women… but I was terrified!  Then the teacher continued making me nauseous with stories of people stamping placentas on canvas in the 60s and making placenta stew, being the only meat a vegetarian can eat... uh, just thinking about it now makes me want to puke!  But I can also laugh at my inability to be a big kid about it all and just be fine with the fact that some of this brilliant, beautiful design God created is a little gross.  Or a lot, depending on how you want to think of it!

I went into the hospital 3 days after my due date in order to be induced.  My swelling and blood pressure had not gone down, even after all the bed rest, and  I had never had one contraction.  So the midwife thought it wouldn’t be best to keep Emersyn inside any longer.  She told me “There was a lot of baby inside there”, but she wanted to know how much baby.  So I had an ultrasound when we got there, and Emersyn was so big they couldn’t fit her on-screen.  They guessed she was about 11 pounds, give or take up to a pound and a half.  So in my mind, I thought, okay, so she’s like 9 ½ lbs!

After the doctor and midwife discussed it, the doctor suggested I do a scheduled c-section for the next morning.  I immediately agreed.  He responded calmly, “Well, it is a big decision.  If you want to try inducing and pushing, then we will support you in that.  I think we would end up doing an emergency c-section anyway, just from examining you and the size of the child.  But really, it is whatever you decide, we will try.  We could give you and your husband time to decide.”

I cut him off, without even looking at Kyle and said, “He’s fine with it.  We’ll take the c-section!”

Judge me if you want, but I didn’t end up seeing anything that day that I had been scared of!  Emersyn was even clean with a cute little hat the first time I saw her, which was only seconds after I heard her first cry!  And Emersyn turned out to be 10 lbs 10 oz, so I felt justified in my rash decision.  And now, looking back, I laugh at how hysterical I was with just the thought of vaginal birth.  It still haunts me to the point where I can’t read about labor, because it gives me nightmares… it really grosses me out!  But I can laugh at myself, too.  I know it is natural and normal, and usually in everyone else’s words “beautiful” and “miraculous”.  It doesn’t matter how your baby gets here; the moment you see your child all that other stuff doesn’t matter anymore.

 Yes, that is Emersyn being pulled out of my stomach... see, I love this picture.  But to someone else, it might be like the birthing video horror is to me.  Yes, that is my stomach being held back by the doctor and midwife's hands.  I'd say I'm sorry, but hey if every high school student has to watch "The Miracle of Life" video, and every pregnant woman has to watch someone birth a placenta, I thought I'd just add to the experience with what a c-section looks like.  Especially since it seems like having one is like being the black sheep in the family.  I am not ashamed at all of my c-section, and I am actually quite thankful to the nurse who captured this once-in-a-lifetime moment for me!

 And think of it this way, when Emersyn asks me someday where babies come from, I can honestly say that she came from my tummy!  I even have proof of it!

When I first saw Emersyn, it was like I recognized her.  In fact, I think I said, “I know you”… because I felt like I did.  That is the only way I can describe the feeling.  It was like I had seen her before, when obviously I hadn’t.  I don’t believe in 3D/4D ultrasounds (I personally feel like it is cheating), so I hadn’t even a glimpse of what she would look like… other than that blurry awful black and white fuzzy photo they give you of a profile halfway through pregnancy… but face-to-face, I felt like I knew this child’s face already.  I had never had a dream where I saw her face.  I’m not sure what it was, except that I recognized her from my soul.  You may feel that is dramatic, unless you have seen your child for the first time… and then you probably understand the depth of that moment.

And I’m sure it will be the same with our second child, a son, Keegan.  Even though my pregnancy with him has been completely opposite of what Emersyn’s was.  With him, I planned on getting pregnant in August, and I got pregnant in August!  Then I was car sick for 8 weeks straight – every day at noon, no matter what I ate, how much I ate, or when I ate… every day at noon for 8 weeks I felt like I had been riding a roller coaster with a full belly 20 times in a row!

And now, at almost 32 weeks, I haven’t gained 1/3 of the weight I did with Emersyn.  I also haven’t swelled at all.  My blood pressure has been perfect.  And bed rest hasn’t even been in our discussions, because I am doing so well.  Keegan is even measuring only a little above average, instead of in the 90+ percentile like Emersyn did!

I also have only had 3 dreams that were vivid and scary, and I‘m sure you want to know what they were about!  The first took place in my hometown at a town festival, and Keegan was about a year old (this was before I even knew I was having a boy).  He and I were holding hands and walking on an upstairs balcony.  The balcony started to fall, and as Keegan flew off, a man caught him below.  The second nightmare was much worse and graphic – I dreamed that Keegan stood up on my hip bones, like at a 90 degree angle!  It tore my stomach open, and all my guts poured out all over the floor!

And the third was even more disturbing, if you can imagine!  It was kind of an apocalyptic, post modern-day WWIII kind of dream where the government and all organized systems were obsolete… and everyone was killing each other to protect their possessions.  I secretly held school in an abandoned bus for children in the area… but people were starving, and they thought teaching the kids how to read and write and about history was a waste of time.  People were so desperate to die, that my own cousin begged me to stab her…

And when you wake up sweating and/or crying from dreams like this, you ask yourself ‘WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THAT COME FROM?!’  I don’t watch things like that or read books about things like that!  Why would having a baby inside my stomach make my mind play such random, crazy movies like that for my sleeping entertainment?!  Why can’t I have sweet dreams like kissing baby’s feet or playing in the park?!

But that question comes up a lot in pregnancy, "Why did God make it happen like this?!"  And the answer, of course, is probably somewhere along the lines of, "Because He wanted to, and He knows best."  He really does.   I know I have described some awful, even gross things, but it is still one of the most awe-inspiring processes on earth!  When you think about all the millions of things that must go exactly right at the right moment in the right place in order for a child to be conceived, grow and develop, and be born where everyone is healthy and whole and alive in the end... or, I guess, the beginning.  And most of the time, all those things happen just as they should - THAT truly is a miracle!  Every time it is something beautiful, and trying to wrap your brain around it should once again cause us to look to God with an admiration for how He coordinates and orchestrates things so perfectly...

Even though you might be deathly ill for 9 months, or end up holding a little hand connected to tubes in an ICU, or crying yourself to sleep for a week telling your husband, "I can't do what that woman did on that video!"  I probably could have, not because I am so awesome, but because God has brought so many women through deliveries that seemed hopeless and yet end up with everyone holding each other, crying tears of joy, and sending out mass texts with all-too-honest photos of sweaty, teary-eyed mamas, exhausted beyond belief but ecstatic beyond all measure holding what they know to be a true gift from the Lord.

So if you find yourself in a situation where the plus sign, or second line, pops up on a pregnancy test a little sooner than you had planned, especially if the plan was NEVER... have a good cry, and then get ready... because barrels of laughter are headed your way!  The arguments over whether to circumcise your son, the large mountain of stuff you don't really need that grows in your used-to-be home office, the hilarity of trying to put on shoes with a basketball-sized round belly in the way, the amount of stuff you have to start carrying with you everywhere you go, and it seems the one thing you leave at home is what you really needed for the trip, when you are holding the most beautiful person ever in your arms and all of a sudden they have a diaper blowout all over you - and you both have to change clothes down to your underwear... just learn to laugh at yourself and the situation.  Then bask in the crazy chaos that is truly the most powerful learning you will ever do, while you also do the most intentional teaching you will ever do!

Laugh hard, laugh often, and revel in the beauty of each moment, even if it is difficult at times to find some... Welcome to parenthood!

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