Category: Pregnancy and Parenthood

First Pregnancy: 25 Weeks and Counting…

IMG_0289-2This post is more vulnerable than I tend to be on here, but I know that my struggle isn’t uncommon among women, especially those who are pregnant, so I felt that it was worth sharing.

Last week we had our “maternity photos” taken by a talented friend of mine who was in town for a visit.

I had hesitated to have them done because I am incredibly self-conscious of my appearance right now; however, knowing myself, I realized that I would likely regret not having done this to document our first pregnancy. We decided that even if we didn’t share any of them, it was important to have them taken for our benefit and for our baby girl to see some day.

We had these done the day after my 24-week appointment – the one where I was told that I had gained “too much weight” the past month, therefore making me feel even worse about my weight and appearance. The number I saw on the scale was truly horrifying and one that I never thought that I would ever see. Not exactly what you want to hear before having portraits taken!

It doesn’t help that I was already overweight when I found out I was pregnant (I had actually just lost 11 pounds and was doing really well with losing weight…figures 🙂 ). I was already self-conscious and nervous about gaining weight during pregnancy because of this, so hearing that from the nurses just made me feel *great* about myself. 🙂

I’ve tried to remind myself of a few things over the past 25 weeks:

1 – I am growing a human being. This takes a toll on any pregnant woman’s body.

2 – I am supposed to gain weight, and as long as I am doing my best to be healthy, the number on the scale doesn’t matter (much easier said than believed).

3 – After delivery, breastfeeding and a good diet/exercise will melt the pounds away, and I will be able to work toward being at a healthy weight before the next pregnancy.

4 – My husband loves me no matter what and he still thinks that I am beautiful. He tells me that daily, even though I may not agree 🙂

5 – I have to stop playing the comparison game! It doesn’t matter what other pregnant women look like. It doesn’t matter that they might look “cuter” pregnant than I do. At the end of the day, what matters is that our baby is healthy and I am healthy.

I know that this will be a daily battle for the next few months, especially when comments like the one I received yesterday are received (“you look like you’re ready to go any day!”). But, the most important thing that I can do right now is to just continue eating well and taking care of the growing baby inside of me, no matter what the scale (or my mind) says. That’s all that matters.

 


 

Other than the above, I am still feeling GREAT and am so very thankful that pregnancy has been so kind to me thus far. I am having issues sleeping because of hip pain, but Brennan’s massage skills are really helping to calm down the irritated muscles and allowing me to sleep more soundly.

I will be 26 weeks on Sunday and can’t believe that we’re getting so close to meeting her already! My last day of work is less than three months from now…crazy.

No, we do not have a name. Even if we did, we have decided to not share the name until birth for multiple reasons. 🙂

She is kicking and moving around frequently now (ever since 22 weeks), though not strong enough for Brennan to be able to feel yet.

The floor in her room was refinished last weekend thanks to Brennan and our friend Dean! Next is a fresh coat (or coats) of paint in the next few weeks and then decorating.

This is getting real.

First Pregnancy: 21 Weeks and Counting…

I realized that I haven’t been writing anything down about this pregnancy. So, since people have asked, I decided to do a quick blog post.

I am 21 weeks and 3 days pregnant today with our first child – a baby girl.

Despite all of the funny/ridiculous “gender prediction” things we read online that said we were having a boy, we found out last Monday that our baby is a girl, and I’m honestly still adjusting to that fact. I had always envisioned having boys, and maybe a girl later…but, I trust that God gives us the children He wants us to have, and in our case that is a firstborn girl. I think part of the shock comes from insecurity about raising a girl to be a godly woman in this world/culture, but we will take one day at a time and pray constantly for her (and for us to have the wisdom to guide her).

We do not have a name chosen, nor do we have any contenders at this point. However, we have decided to keep the name a secret until after she is born anyway, so that gives us over 4.5 months to decide. 🙂

This pregnancy has been so easy and I don’t take that for granted. Most days, unless I look down or look in the mirror, I forget that I’m pregnant. I had some indigestion around week 6, food aversions to salad/vegetables through week 18, and mild heartburn after eating tomato-based foods consistently (ice cream makes it go away, though! 😉 ). That’s really it. I’m learning to sleep on my left side and my hips have had some pain from that, but, again, I can’t complain: many women have incredibly difficult pregnancies and are miserable throughout the entire ten months.

I am starting to experience “pregnancy hormones” finally – mostly taking the form of being more emotional than usual (and I’m not very emotional to begin with, so that has been weird) and having less tolerance for people’s behavior. It has surprised me because I’m normally very easy-going and let things slide…but in the past couple of weeks, grumpy/annoying behavior (including terrible drivers) has driven me crazy. 🙂 Thankfully, Brennan is so understanding and knows me well enough to know that this is NOT my normal personality whenever I complain to him about things like this.

We haven’t really started working on her room yet, as there are specific steps that have to happen in order. The floor will be refinished on April 19th, and then my mom is coming out to help paint in May. By the day of the baby shower, the room will be ready for furniture/decorations! 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already more than half-way done with our first pregnancy! It’s time to start reading up on caring for newborns, parenting, etc. so that we can be as prepared as we can be to raise our daughter well.

New Perspective…Part One.

So, something occurred to me in the past twenty-four hours that just might be an answer to a long-standing prayer of mine. Maybe. It’s at least getting me closer to understanding the “why” of my jobs, past and present. I have split this into two blog posts because it’s far too much for one post.

First, some background:

In 2001, I was ready to take on the world. I wanted to be the governor of California someday, with every intention of being my friend’s vice-president in 2028 (we even had a website!). High-profile aspiration is an understatement.

That’s how I saw myself: working in politics to change our country for the better, and everyone would know my name and how awesome I was. I wanted to feel important, to feel admired, to feel respected because of my capabilities, talents, and brilliance. In one word: pride.

Over the next few years I interned with Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. (2003), I worked on (and ran) several campaigns, attended the 2005 Presidential Inauguration (and a ball) and was even on ABC for thirty-seconds. I attended campaign training at President Reagan’s ranch in Santa Barbara and was pictured in TIME Magazine with the rest of the training group. I was on my way…or so I thought.

Fast-forward to 2007: Two years past graduation and I was still living in Southern California (not my plan). I kept trying to get back to D.C. but doors just would not open. Instead, I was working for a financial company fixing tax returns all day long–completely low-profile–along with doing youth ministry at my church (nearly full-time for a while). I eventually became content (but not fully happy) in the tax job and even tried to move into management, to no avail. Even though my bosses said I was the perfect candidate for management, I continued to be passed over for promotions, and it didn’t make sense to any of us. But, it was a good job so I remained there.

In December 2007, I felt God urging me to pray for discomfort. My faith had grown stagnant and I was desperate for a change. He brought to my attention all of the accounts in the Bible of people who grew tremendously through trials and discomfort (and never through times of prosperity or easy living)…

…so I did it. I began praying for the next year that God would make me uncomfortable in order for me to become more like Jesus. God definitely delivered. 2008 was one of the toughest years of my life thus far, and I never DREAMED of what God would call me to do/lead me through. From the spiritual struggles to the physical (pneumonia), He used that year to the fullest to mold and shape me. I knew it would be a challenging year (I could probably write a book), but I never dreamed of the growth and transformation that would take place by surrendering to God’s plan and letting go of my own.

The biggest change was my move to Pennsylvania. I had been contemplating this for many years but kept trying to do things my way and nothing ever worked out. I visited PA in October 2007 and during that trip I realized that I didn’t want to live in Southern California anymore, at all. The realization even brought me to tears one day.

I began praying that God would allow me to move to PA, and I prayed for six months before I felt an answer from the Lord. He said that I could stay or go, and that He would use me wherever I was. That was a huge lesson in itself, realizing that sometimes God allows us to make decisions and that sometimes there is no “right” answer.

I moved to Harrisburg, PA on July 31, 2008 knowing only two people in the city, having no job, and having very little money. I chose Harrisburg because of it being the center of Pennsylvania politics. I worked through a temp agency for awhile until obtaining a job with a lobbying firm–which I thought was PERFECT! This was it–my door into the political arena!

Boy, was I wrong. Looking back, I firmly believe that God allowed me to have that position for a year to show me that He did NOT want me in politics. It was a terrible year–the job was a terrible fit and I was so miserable in that role. I saw a side of politics that I had never seen before and I was completely disillusioned. I was let go on 09/09/09 and the joy that I felt was indescribable! Most people aren’t happy after being fired (or, in my case, “forced to quit”), but I felt all the heaviness that had weighed on my heart disappear and I felt so free.

From there, I was unemployed for a year, and that year was an incredible gift to me. I watched as God provided faithfully for me and I was able to pay my rent until April 2010, when I moved in with Brennan’s aunt and uncle until our wedding. I was able to focus on church planting and mission trips, and I was so joy-filled through it all. I got engaged during this time, so this also allowed me to focus on wedding plans/marriage. God’s provision was constant, and though it was a humbling year, I learned to accept help from others and to not be proud.

I worked for a temp agency as much as possible (talk about humbling), and in June 2010 I began working part-time for a consulting firm (huge blessing). In September 2010 I obtained a second part-time job (my current role) and was finally working full-time again. I learned more during that year of unemployment than I thought possible! It was a humbling and faith-filled year.

That brings me to today…I have been in my current role for two and a half years. I have never been recognized or thanked for my work by my supervisor. I do work that a high school student could do. I have never had a raise (and I don’t make much to begin with). I do not use my very expensive, hard-earned bachelor’s degree. I go most days completely unnoticed by my co-workers (and have NEVER been asked to join them for lunch when they go out). My gifts and talents go by the wayside as I watch the clock day by day, waiting for 3:00pm to arrive so that I can do things that actually matter. I feel completely unappreciated and overlooked. I have applied for and even interviewed for MANY jobs during this time period, but God has not opened any other doors. So I have remained here, despite how miserable I tend to be here.

Even my role as a relief houseparent at MHS is largely a “thankless” job (from the students themselves, not from the supervisors or the houseparents…students aren’t going to thank you for disciplining them, haha). Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE it, and it’s highly rewarding to help these students make decisions and learn lessons! My point is that they don’t care about the fact that I’m intelligent, a great musician/vocalist; they don’t really care that I am a good photographer, or that I was once in TIME Magazine. They just want to be fed (they are middle school boys, after all 🙂 ), entertained, and kept safe. Above all, they want to be loved.

So why has God been allowing me to go through these things? I think I’ve determined His reasons…

To be continued…

New Perspective…Part Two.

(See part one here…)

Yesterday, as I was talking with a dear friend about her potential job opportunities (very prestigious and impressive jobs for which she is perfectly suited), all of the above-mentioned things started to run through my head. As I listened to her speak, I realized that I, too, long to be admired for what I can do–for my God-given gifts and abilities, for what I worked so hard to accomplish in college/post-college. I long to be known as someone who “did something” with her life, whatever that even means. I, too, tend to put my value and self-worth in my career, in how people view me, and what I’ve done, which explains so much about why I have felt so miserable in recent jobs. That hasn’t changed since 2001.

But you know what has changed? In the past year, my desire to be a mother (a stay-at-home one, at that) has increased exponentially (considering that I never saw myself doing that, it wasn’t hard for it to increase drastically). I have come to realize that raising children to love Jesus and to be productive members of society is the greatest possible career that I could ever have. What a stark contrast to how I felt even one year ago.

And last night, it became very clear that God has used the circumstances of the past few years to prepare me for being a mom (No, this is not a pregnancy announcement 🙂 ). From what I hear, being a mother is often a “thankless” job as you continuously and often sacrificially serve your children. Someday, they might recognize the amazing job you did to prepare them for life and to take care of them, but humans are naturally born selfish. They aren’t going to say “thanks, mom, for changing my diaper so that I don’t get diaper rash” or “thanks, mom, for staying up all night with me when I was sick”…that’s just how it goes. They don’t care how accomplished you are and they certainly aren’t going to marvel over your talents. Being a mother is going to require humility, sacrifice, unconditional love, and lots of grace…and I know now that I am much better equipped for motherhood because of the circumstances of the past few years.

Much of the past twelve years makes so much sense now. I was in desperate need of humility, and God brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to be humble. I wish I had been a faster learner! Haha. Not that I’m completely humble–definitely not. But, given where I was in 2001, I have come a long way and my perspective has completely changed. I was so unaware of the grip that pride was holding on my life!

I now view the word “rewarding” completely differently. It no longer means being recognized and praised–it means offering recognition and praise expecting nothing in return, all for the benefit of others.

So, now I have something new to embrace, and something hard with which to grapple. God doesn’t want me to be “famous”–He wants me to make disciples, including my own future children.

I need to remind myself constantly that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me, and it doesn’t matter if they notice how “awesome” I might happen to be…

What matters is that I live my life according to the Gospel, and that I share it with others at every opportunity.

What matters is that I find ways to use my God-given gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God, especially within my own household, without doing it selfishly or for recognition.

What matters are the eternal things, not the temporal.

What matters is that my value and self-worth come from God alone and not from anything that I have done or will do.