37 weeks today. Thirty. Seven. Weeks. How can that even be?!
(This isn't even me now - this is my most recent belly photo, at 35w2d. Next one will be on Instagram in two days...)
What is happening? I've been at this stage twice before - and both times, 36 weeks to 37 weeks took at least a fortnight, I'm sure...
Is it the possibility that this is the last time? Is it the fact there are no other preggos around this time to compare with? Is it the knowledge that this is exactly the least busy and crazy and exhausting things are going to be for a while? Probably.
Whatever it is, I'm happy. Happy to be this far along, happy to be meeting our newest little boncecake soon... but also happy for it to take as long as it takes.
Truly, I'm in no rush. Not nervous, not putting it off - just content. And I'm so thankful for that.
I've tried to write this post twice already, over the last week and a half. My computer switched itself off and lost the file. I've been busy (*cough*nesting*cough*). Owen used up our internet on YouTube videos of people reviewing Thomas the Tank Engine playsets and unwrapping plastic eggs with Lightning McQueens inside (I kid you not - Liam and I have never reached our internet limit... this kid...).
(I've put my ipad away, to cold-turkey him off this YouTube thing. So he uses my empty case and pretends to watch it.)
But here it is, at last. I've had to amend "almost thirty six weeks" to "thirty six weeks and four days" to "thirty seven weeks". Which has actually been pretty cool - what was true over a week ago is still true today. I'm still doing this pregnancy thing, and I'm still happy. Also, over the last couple of days things have changed a bit, so I've got something a bit different to write about compared to my original thoughts. So, here goes...
**Disclaimer: This is a very pregnancy-related post. I'm really writing it for the pregnant ladies out there - particularly the very pregnant. If you're interested, read on. But I have a pretty broad readership base, and I understand pregnancy-related musings aren't everyone's cup of tea. If you're not comfortable with reading about pregnancy-related details, or aren't interested in developing a different end-of-pregnancy mindset, that's cool. Instead, here's a wonky picture of a country sunset on the first weekend of burnoff season. (Pretty, right?) Go no further. You have been warned.**
:glances around furtively: Okay. I think we're good now.
So, having a baby. We all get that the end point of pregnancy is a baby coming out, yeah? Ellie's four, and she gets that. So I think we're okay to go on.
The bit before is commonly known as labour. I'm pretty sure we all know that. I'm pretty hopeful that we all know it doesn't (usually) look much like the TV version ("Oops, my waters have broken in the supermarket! Quick, let's run red lights all the way to hospital, where I'll shout angrily at my husband for ninety seconds and then give off-screen birth to a clean four-month-old baby...")
Still with me? Cool. Basic knowledge confirmed.
So, there's a bit before all that. Yep, some smarty-pantses are saying "That's called 'pregnancy', right?" And it totally is... but I'm here to talk about the overlapping bit - the bit that gets forgotten / sidelined / denied completely.
Prelabour. Prodromal labour ("prodrome" = "early symptom that might indicate the start of a disease before specific symptoms occur" -Wikipedia). My personal unfavourite: "false labour" (grrrrr!!).
There are Braxton Hicks contractions, right? And they're known as "practice" contractions for a reason - they're the uterus practicing this whole squeezing business. Nothing's dilating. It's definitely not a sign of anything exciting being imminent. (With Owen, I reckon I had them from around 26 weeks.)
But then, there are "prelabour" contractions. (That's where I'm at.)
It's a strange place to be, I gotta say. On the one hand, you know it means things are getting more serious, and baby's arrival is definitely closer. (Then again, a quick glance at the calendar could tell you the same thing...) But on the other hand, you also know you could have weeks of this to look forward to.
It's easy to jump into excited mode at this stage. "IT COULD HAPPEN TODAY!!! OR TOMORROW!!! I'D PROBABLY EVEN BE OKAY WITH IT BEING WEDNESDAY!!!!!"
But you know what that leads to? Thursday. Thursday, sitting on the couch, googling "prelabour symptoms" for the eighteenth time, angry at the world for this great injustice. "Stupid body, tricking me like this. Stinkin' lazy baby, still just relaxing in there. And all those people, asking if I'm still pregnant..."
Stressful. I know. With Ellie, I spent a very frustrating ten days going "THIS IS IT!!! Oh, wait... nope. Not it. Again." With Owen, I spent a very grumpy week playing computer mahjong and refusing to rejoin life until there wasn't a baby in my belly.
This time, things are different.
This time, from the moment I thought I might be pregnant, I committed myself to a mindful pregnancy - one in which I noticed what was going on through each stage, and appreciated each little(/big) thing for what it was.
And I did.
[Sorry... just got interrupted by my son needing me to tie a pair of knickers onto Lightning McQueen because "that's his tail". Also, they wanted a "tasting plate".]
Where was I? Ah, yes. Loving pregnancy.
So, 36 weeks and 4 days into this pregnancy thing (also known as last Friday), I was sitting in Funbugs play cafe, watching my kids (and a million others - gotta love rainy school holidays) throw brightly coloured plastic balls at each other's heads, and reflecting on how fine I was with however long this baby was going to need me to wait.
Like everything, it really all comes down to perspective.
Waiting = having time to celebrate the blessing that's about to come into our lives.
Discomfort = body adjusting to better nurture baby and prepare for his/her arrival.
Too tired to do anything = free time for reflecting and being thankful.
All those people asking if I'm still pregnant = so many people who care and are genuinely excited about my little one.
The next day, my husband got on a plane at 6am and flew to his sister's wedding, one thousand kilometres away. And that was the first day I started having non-Braxton Hicks-type contractions.
Nice one, body.
I definitely didn't panic. Not even close. I'm not being fooled again.
I may not have jumped into "IT'S LABOUR IT'S LABOUR IT'S LABOUR!!!" mode, but by last night it did make me take another look at how I'm approaching this. I love that I've made it to 37 weeks without a single moment of wishing it was over. And I don't want to lose that contentment now that things are starting to happen.
Okay, so I may have googled "prelabour symptoms" and checked myself off against it. But I then spent some time reminding myself that these things can take time - in fact, it's actually a good thing if they take time (more on that in a moment). I also did some hunting around and found some articles portraying 'prelabour' in a positive way - as opposed to the more popular "here are some annoying symptoms that aren't actually labour" way. (I thought this one was pretty good).
So, this is where I'm at now: I'm still waiting. I'm not waiting and carrying a baby and that's all, but I'm still waiting. Mild tightenings that briefly take my attention and then pass, mild backache that wraps around to a bit of a crampy sensation occasionally, a bit of nausea here and there, the sudden appeal of hibernation in my little nest... They're all fine. They're all progress.
And I guess that's what I'm getting to. I have a lot of quibbles* with the way the medical profession handles a normal, healthy pregnancy - which I won't get into here, except for this bit: the labelling thing, in this case specifically the labelling of "labour" and "not labour".
*("quibbles"? Did I make that up, or is that a thing?)
Every day, a lady (not the same lady every day... you know what I mean) has contractions, wonders what's going on, goes to hospital, and hears, "You're only 2cm. Not in labour. Go home." Or, "Yep, 4cm. You're in labour!" And fair enough, there's no need to be in hospital just then. But the idea that we have to define being in labour as a specific number is, I think, a large part of what makes this early stage so difficult for a woman. It feels like a mild introduction to labour. In terms of what your body's doing, it is a mild introduction to labour. But in official terms, you're "not in labour" until you're ~4cm dilated.
And that is suuuuuuper disheartening for an excited first- (or second- or third-) timer. That's when all the "Stupid body... Stinkin' lazy baby... All those people..." stuff kicks in, and suddenly being pregnant becomes still being pregnant and no longer such a blessing, and being near the end turns from exciting and wonderful to the hardest and most uncertain and most miserable time anyone has ever been through in the history of the world, ever.
Listen. I've decided I'm not having this nonsense. As far as I'm concerned, prelabour isn't not labour, like there are clear-cut stages and this is a separate one of them. Prelabour is the beginning of labour. It might take an hour (like it did for me with Owen), it might take ten days (like it did with Ellie), it might take five weeks (like I kinda hope it doesn't with this one but will be totally okay with if it does... I hope...), but however long it takes - and this is important - it's not nothing.
Your body is preparing. Not just practicing any more - preparing. Those mild contractions that got your attention and then tapered off to nothing? Let's not call that a "false alarm". Let's not get annoyed that it "went away". Instead, let's embrace it as part of the process. Every time it happens, you're a bit closer to being ready. Every time it happens, it's making your more intense phase of labour a bit easier. It's all progress. It's all your body working to bring your baby into the world. Working? Labouring. It might be relatively easy labour for now. It might be part-time work. But it's still counted. It's still something. It's definitely not nothing.
And that line of thinking makes it so much easier to embrace this; to appreciate it as a fascinating part of an amazing process. Yep, they're contractions. Don't necessarily jump up and down with excitement just yet - it doesn't tell you anything more than a "due date" does. But it's things happening - and that's good.
It's not just the physical stuff, either. The impulsive nesting behaviour? That hibernating urge I mentioned earlier? All part of it. A desire to withdraw from the world, an increasingly inward focus... it's okay. In fact, just like those early mild tightenings and crampy feelings and all the rest, these things are designed to be part of the process. When labour gets really intense, you're going to want to be withdrawn from the world, inward-focused, oblivious to distractions that would slow things down. You're not at that point yet, but you're on your way - and that's good, too.
(This is Ellie's version of 'alone time'. Owen did not appreciate her need for alone time. Owen got pushed over. Owen now understands Ellie's need for alone time.)
(This advice is for me as much as anyone else:)
Embrace it. You're in that bizarre limbo-world right now - not "just pregnant" any more, but not producing a baby in the next ten minutes, either. It can be a frustrating, disheartening, miserable place to be. Or, it can be another fascinating part of an amazing process. If it's motivating you to Get Things Done, go with that (just don't overdo it - you'll need that energy). If it's making you want to spend as much time as possible under a quilt with the curtains drawn, go for it (just don't leave your son to help himself to ALL OF THE BANANAS, like I unknowingly did while playing "birthday parties" with Ellie this morning).
Use it. Those contractions that are starting to get your attention are actually a fantastic opportunity. It's easy to go "Oh, no, not this again!" and tense up with anxiety and/or resentment. Reminding yourself that they're a legitimate part of the process, and something you can use, is so valuable. Use them to practice relaxation techniques, breathing, thinking nice birthy affirmations to yourself. Use the time you find yourself spending hidden away to think through your plans and hopes for birth, to connect with your little one, to take time to breathe and rest and be thankful.
Appreciate it. The Lord has designed a pretty fantastic process, here. This part isn't a mistake. This part is a gift. Give thanks. Ask for peace. Find strength in him. It'll feel like forever, and then it'll be over before you know it. And then the real fun begins. Practice leaning on him now, because you're really about to need it...
(Also, get some RRL tea down your chops. Love this stuff.)
You're on the verge of a whole new amazing process. It's a beautiful, life-changing, all-consuming journey. Breathe. Enjoy this pregnant pause.
37 weeks today. Thirty. Seven. Weeks. How can that even be?!
This morning was a bit of a tough one.
Getting ready for kinder, everything was normal. Owen climbing through pillows on our freshly-made bed, and demanding to watch YouTube clips of people getting toys out of surprise eggs... Ellie busting in on me in the bathroom with bouffant hair and a miniature hairclip, and vaguing out somewhere between my instruction to put shoes on and the adjacent shoe rack... The usual.
Then as we were crossing the road to kinder, Ellie asked, "What if I miss you today?"
I told her she could tell herself, "Mummy's having a nice day, and I'm having a nice day, and I'll be able to tell her all about it when she picks me up."
And that seemed to be okay.
But then as we walked in, instead of a nice "Good morning" for Belinda at the door, Ellie marched to her locker with that face in chilly silence.
Belinda and I glanced at one another, eyebrows raised - eight weeks in, and Belinda knows Ellie well enough to know that that silence was something different.
Usually Ellie's one of those kids who's already put her fruit in the basket and is sitting on the mat before I've even made it to the signing-in line. This morning, she stayed with me. That is very, very, very not her.
I signed her in, drew my kids aside, set Owen down, and squatted at Ellie's level. She came straight to me, head down.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I want to go home with you," she muttered, still looking at her feet.
"Really? Why?" I asked, surprised.
And she looked up at me, and there were tears welling in her eyes - tears my brave girl was clearly trying so hard to hold in.
"What if I miss you?" she asked again, and crumpled into my arms with a little sob.
"Do you usually miss me?" I asked, as I held Ellie and Owen in a lovely-but-awkward squatting-pregnant-lady group-hug-type-thing.
She nodded. "Sometimes."
"Well, what do you usually do when you miss me?" I asked.
She thought for a moment.
And then Belinda came and invited Ellie to sit with her, and showed her how they'd changed around the Home Corner, and gently led her to the mat (where three other kids were crying and trying to climb into Julie's lap).
Julie said some nice, welcoming, reassuring things about all getting through the last day of term together. Belinda sat, and Ellie sat in her lap. I stood and gathered Owen... and paused.
See, I know how to fix her. I love this about my girl: when something's up, I can talk with her and we can discuss things and she's open to seeing a different perspective and being okay. She likes to learn about positivity and coping strategies - and I love to teach her.
This time, I had to let it go. Belinda smiled at me over Ellie's curls and mouthed, "She'll be fine." And I had to go against that crazy-powerful Mama Instinct to fix everything for my daughter, to take a Teachable Moment and put a lesson into it - and instead, I had to take my son and walk away.
And I did.
In the car, I sat quietly for a few moments and breathed. I'm usually the one who's happy to kiss and run - and so is Ellie. We always have been. But today it was such a struggle to walk away from my girl. It was such a struggle to not offer to try one last thing, to talk with her for one more minute, to hang around and check she was okay, to go back and sneak a look... All the things I'd normally advise other parents not to do, suddenly seemed so incredibly tempting.
But I know those things are for me, not for her.
I know Ellie won't always have me with her when things are difficult. I know she needs to learn to find her own way, and to accept others' help. I know she needs the opportunity to feel the comfort of the Lord.
I know Julie and Belinda are smart, and experienced, and compassionate, and sensible, and more than capable of dealing with a little girl having a sensitive day.
I know my girl is strong, and resourceful, and will choose happiness whenever she can.
And - biggest and best of all - I know I haven't left her on her own. I haven't cut and run, and abandoned her to cope by herself in the big wide world.
I know who's with her.
Sitting there in the car, with Owen "shooting" people through his window behind me, I prayed. I prayed for my girl to feel better and be fine, and to learn through this. I prayed for Julie and Belinda to say and do the things that would help her. I prayed for peace.
And above all, I thanked the Lord.
I thanked him for my wonderful girl. I thanked him for the relationship I have with her. I thanked him for helping me to walk away today. And I thanked him most of all for the greatest blessing any parent can have - the knowledge that when we can't be there with our children, HE IS. Always.
There isn't much that's better than that.
Now it's almost time to go pick her up, and I'm excited. I've had a good day. Owen and I ran some errands, went op-shopping and found pirate things, had a nice long walk, and still made it to Maccas with five minutes to spare before they put the bacon away. Then we played with the trucks and diggers in Toyworld until lunchtime.
I've had a good day, and I'm trusting that my girl has too. I'm looking forward to seeing her face again, to squashing her in a big cuddle and telling her how proud I am of her.
And I'm so much looking forward to seeing how okay she is, how happy, how completely fine. I'm looking forward to rejoicing yet again at the Lord's capacity to always be there for each of us individually.
My girl has a personal relationship with my God - with her God. And I know that relationship will grow and develop and blossom as she gets older and reaches an age of greater understanding. But for now, it's enough just to know that when I can't be there with her... HE IS.
#kinderdays = you're not gonna see much in the way of Ellie pics for today. So here's one from last week to tide you over:
#kinderdays = adventures with this little mate of mine:
Today we went for a drive out to one of my local happy places: Lake Learmonth. My boy had a stick and a toy digger, so it was his happy place too.
(And a "skate park".)
(And a playground.)
Getting out into somewhere quiet and still and not the shops is always a recipe for a good day and a refreshed perspective. Clear air, clear head. I spent the drive out reflecting on an article I read yesterday (this, if you're interested). She makes two interesting and (I reckon) very valid points:
1. In a self-centred world, having children seems like an inconvenience and a chore at best; the idea of "laying down your life for another" represents "everything our culture hates".
2. In truth, children are a gift; they are a blessing; they are a reward from God. And when we remember and appreciate this - "when we thank God for his blessings and we love, nurture, train and bond with our blessings - our lives are fuller."
As the article acknowledges, in the midst of nappies and tantrums and sleepless nights it's easy to feel like it's all too much.
What a great reminder that at those points we can lean on the Lord and thank him for giving us SO much.
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
- John 3:30
Who are we, who say, "Less of me, Lord, and more of you," to shake our heads at those who "lose themselves" in the service of motherhood?
Rather, I want to rejoice in it - for in losing myself, I find Christ.
Something else that's got me onto this line of thought: the comments coming up recently in various pregnancy groups along the lines of, "I'm excited about having this baby, but I can't wait to get back my body / brain / personal space..."
To which I find myself going, "AaaaaaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhhhh!!!!!"
Like things are going to go back to normal post-pregnancy! You're gorgeous!
Normal is over. Welcome to a whole new "normal".
A "normal" that changes as soon as you think you've got it figured out.
A "normal" in which you won't recognize yourself at all, at times.
A "normal" in which who you are is changing constantly, in accordance with the changing abilities and needs of your child.
(He's very pointedly hanging up on the birds with his snail-phone, because they're "being too loudy".)
"You see dis, guys?"
Let's face it, the body you have as a mother - regardless of how much or how little you work on it - is never going to be the body you had before. It might be as fit and healthy as ever. But it's changed, forever, in obvious and indefinable ways. You can despair, or you can love it and all it represents.
God gave you a body capable of the most amazing things. And look at what that blessing has given you.
The brain you have as a mother will be different, too. Your priorities will change, beyond anything you can imagine beforehand. Your focus will shift. You might forget to return calls, eat lunch, wash your hair, talk about anything other than your children... But you're an expert in the fields of your children's past, current, and possible future interests, needs, strengths, weaknesses, fears, triumphs, challenges, friendships, preferences, and, let's face it, bowel movements.
And making these things a priority - allowing them to take over from your awareness of current events, social trends, where you put your car keys - is service. Motherhood is service. Jesus washed his disciples' feet in a demonstration of service and humility. It didn't mean he was a pushover. It didn't mean he wasn't their leader. He taught them, he corrected them, he led them, he guided them... and he served them. No shame, no embarrassment, no holding back.
"And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me."
- Matthew 18:5
When we serve our children in humility and love... who do we serve?
Oh, and the "personal space" thing? Forget it. You don't get it back just because you're not carrying a baby around inside your body any more.
I've mentioned my "pregnancy is practice for parenthood" theory plenty before, and this is all part of it. All those hands touching your belly - husband, children, friends, family, doctors, midwives, sonographers, physiotherapists, colleagues, acquaintances, random strangers... not to mention the pokes and prods and middle-of-the-night hiccup sessions coming at you from the inside - are NOTHING compared to what comes after.
Sit down, and there's a child on your lap; or at least a child's legs tangled across your legs. Go to the toilet, and there's someone with freezing hands touching your knees and gazing disconcertingly deeply into your eyes. Dress nicely, and sticky fingers will touch you. Put sleeping baby down, try to creep away, and sleeping baby will immediately become VERY AWAKE BABY WHO SIMPLY MUST BE HELD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
It's no wonder we hide in the pantry to eat Nutella from a spoon, or sneak away during Ben and Holly to urinate in peace.
But it's okay. It's all part of letting go of self. It's all part of "Less of me..."
And as we decrease, we don't become less.
Because as we decrease, there is room for Him to increase.
I'm not saying I'm good at this. I'm not as mindful, or as graceful, about this as I wish I was. Certainly third time around I'm finding it clearer to see, and easier to remember; less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy. But that's not to say I'm good at it.
But it's a timely reminder. The world might shake its head at motherhood's inherent loss of self. But I'm raising children who are gifts from God. I'm responsible for some of God's children. And if I can remember to embrace this as the blessing it is...
Less of me, and more of you.
Less inconvenience, and more blessing.
Less of "too much", and more of "SO much".
Less of a struggle, and more of a thing of joy.
Sitting comfortably? I sure am.
Feet up. Water. Blood tester. Phone. Crochet box. Fiction. Non-fiction. Belly. iPad testing out birth playlist (not pictured). Ellie at kinder (also not pictured).
I'm not getting up until Owen does.
So, before I get back into sewing in the ends of 96 granny squares (24 down, 72 to go!), now with the exciting bonus of THE RIGHT SIZED NEEDLE (gah!), I thought I'd share a thought or two.
Today's thoughts come courtesy of this article, which I came across twice on my FB newsfeed today.
For those who are all, "MORE reading??? Girlfriend, I ain't got time fo' dat!!", first of all, stop speaking weird. Second, relax; I'll summarize.
Point #1: People are so rude. They say the dumbest things. Here's some of them, so you can get all outraged all over again. Preggos love that.
Point #2: You are so much cleverer than those dumbos with their dumb comments. Here are some witty comebacks, for the purposes of dazzling them with your sarcastic brilliance.
That is all.
I'm not here to have a massive go at this article, or any of the three squillion like it. I know this is how a lot of people feel - and not just around pregnancy. People say the dumbest things. ALL the time.
But you know what? Generally... they mean well.
And isn't that lovely? I think the awkward conversation with the checkout guy is kinda funny and nice. You know the one:
"So, not long to go, eh?"
"[longer time frame than he had in mind]."
"Oh. Wow! I thought you'd be due any day. Because... Um... Never mind. Have a nice day!"
Points for trying. It's clearly not his area of expertise.
Oh, and the ladies at the shops who look at my kindergartener and toddler and belly, and go, "Ooh, looks like you're going to have your hands full! Hur hur hur!"
Yeah, that's a funny one.
Thing is, I'm not into getting annoyed about these comments. The well-intentioned "Wow, you're HUGE!!!" from people who haven't seen me for a little while... The "Oh, you're definitely carrying a boy / girl / football team," from every self-proclaimed expert... The lovely "How are you feeling? Looking a bit tired today, aren't you?" from an OB (on one of my highest-energy, chirpiest days of the third trimester so far, of course)...
They mean well. They're happy for me. And it's one of those things people can't ignore - trying not to talk to a pregnant woman about her very obvious baby belly is probably the origin of the phrase "the elephant in the room".
(HAHA!!! Elephant... Even I'm rude about me.)
And I love it. It's entertaining, endearing, and a handy bring-me-back when I drift too far off into pregnancy-brain la-la-land. Not everybody is pregnant - therefore, not everybody knows exactly the right thing to say to a pregnant lady. (Hint: There Is No Right Thing. Your average pregnant lady is hormonal, tired, emotional... and ready to react accordingly to whatever you say.)
But that person went out on a limb and said something. What would you say to them, if they were the one in some kind of impossible-to-ignore-but-emotional-minef
Because as I said before, it's not just pregnancy-based. There's always going to be someone who says something. And that something is sometimes going to be a real clanger.
I'm sure we've all been on the receiving end of something dumb someone has said to us at a vulnerable time in our life, which has sent us away feeling furious, or miserable, or wishing we'd had that cleverly sarcastic one-liner ready to fire at them. I'm sure in most cases, the perpetrator doesn't even know. Right?
And on the flip side of that, I'm sure each and every one of us has been that perpetrator. More than once. "Not me," you scoff? You have. You just didn't know it.
And before you go racing off on a Tour of Shame through all the moments you've said something awkward and now realize may have been worse than you realized for the other person...
Let it go.
We're human people. That's all. We're not mind-reading word wizards, able to to turn somebody's situation around with a single sentence - no matter how well-intentioned. We're all going to say something, wanting to reach out and make contact with someone, and sometimes that something is going to be something that someone doesn't enjoy hearing.
Still with me?
My message is this: to the pregnant ladies, and all other awkward phrase recipients... They mean well. Smile. Be the one to say something to put them at ease. Go laugh about it later. Try going "Awww," rather than "Grrr," and see how different it feels.
And to the dumb things sayers (and that's all of us): Keep up the good work. Be brave. Keep saying stuff. Because the alternative is to say nothing. And that's pretty sad.
Let's forgive people for saying human-people-things. And let's forgive ourselves for our past (and future) acts of human-people-ness.
Articles about what NOT to say don't help. They just make one side feel guilty, or embarrassed, or looked down on, and the other side feel vindicated in their self-righteous ire, and thus even more annoyed than before. Pregnancy is beautiful, except for all the times it's not. Being human, likewise. Let's not be weird with each other about it.
Oh, and for the record...
"So, how long have you got to go?"
"Um... She's over there in the pram."
... was my favourite ever. No kidding, I laughed for about a week straight, every time I thought of it. Thank you, Dude Who Shall Not Be Named.
Come on, people. Relax. This stuff is funny!
Top left: Definitely a boy. Or a girl.
Bottom left: Wow, HUGE!
Right: Looking so tired, feeling so good.
May I remember,
as you run wild,
And show me the madness
bound up in a child,
That such times of chaos,
roughness and noise
Will always be present
in lives of small boys,
But when our God made you,
he knew that the trick
Was to put in the heart
of small boy wielding stick
A place of soft sweetness,
of kindness and joy,
And this is the truth
at the heart of a boy.
(from Zoe Hurtado to her fantastic boy Owen)
Kinder polo. Negates the need for shorts, really.
A few minutes ago, Ellie was a cute little dark-haired sleepy baby. Today, she started four-year-old kinder.
Um, what just happened???
So anyway, here's some things:
On Friday Ellie had a 50 minute intro session at kinder, in which she played and got to know the teachers and I hung around pretending to enjoy plastic spaghetti bolognese and trying not to get stuck in teeny tiny chairs.
She spent most of her time in the awesome home corner, which she loved. She also loved these magnets - we gotta get us some of these:
She made a school bus. The triangles are faces at the windows.
After that, my big girl and I collected Owen from his playdate with Uncle Ben, and headed off to "do some shopping" - which, when O fell asleep five minutes down the road, turned into another "yay for sleeping kids" country drive.
We love those.
Few minutes up the road from our place. NOT a planned burn-off. #countryliving
This is how far we got (not very):
Lake Burrumbeet. Looks nicer than it smells.
It was a nice drive. Big girl Ellie, who laughs in the face of naps, sat contemplatively for a while and then said, "I'd like to go home now."
All the essential ingredients: Kinder kid. Cuppa. Semolina cake. Iced chocolate. Delightfully low blood sugar reading (more on that soon). Dozy Owen (not pictured).
Bottle-cap eye. She may be blurry, but she sure is funny.
Next stop, home. No, this won't do: our house is delightfully aligned to perfectly catch every last ray of blazing afternoon sun through a series of enormous windows along the length of the kitchen/dining/living area. And our blinds are made of fanciful hopes and fairies' wings, so...
Yep, that'll be a cooler place to hang, I thought, erroneously. I sat and crocheted and sweated into my granny squares while the kids constructed crazy things out of weirdly-shaped gym mats... or that may have just been a mirage...
Owen came to me five minutes in, already bathed in sweat, all pink-and-white blotchy and heatstroke-y. Obviously, a slushie was in order.
Sweat-curls and those eyes. He kills me.
Refreshed, they headed off to form a two-bonce scooter gang.
The streets will never be normal again.
Yep, it was a pretty good day.
So, I have the G-Dizzle.
... You know... gestational diabetes. Obviously.
So, there's been a lot of this:
Peanut-butter-avo-spinach-eggy goodness. On toast. 'Scuse the presentation - who dirties a whole other plate just to mash avocado? Hmmm?
So far so good - my numbers have been pretty awesome, and I haven't had to do much in the way of going without (just some replacing of boring ol' cereal with such wonderment as Sunday morning's toast with guacamole / toast with cinnamon banana yumminess). And it's good for breaking me of my traditional pregnancy habit of grazing on nonsense whenever I feel like it ("I'm too tired and sore to go out... I'm bored... Ooh, food!"). Now I just wander to the fridge, look in, sigh, check the pantry (in case it turns out to be in a different time zone where it's late enough after lunch for me to snack), realize I'm not hungry, and move on. Winner.
Intro to Gestational Diabetes hospital appointment wasn't quite so lovely... three and a half hours of sitting around waiting to see five different people - two of them totally unnecessarily - for an average of eight minutes each... yeah, that's really not my idea of fun. Also, let's add two small children to that equation. And a stroller. And some tiny consultation rooms. And the antenatal medical professional who watched me drag the heaviest chair in the world across her room while looking slightly impatient...
The midwife said, "Yep, measuring 30 weeks, so that's spot on... Oh, hang on... I mean 27." (Yep, thanks for the heart attack.)
The diabetes consultant was lovely. At least there's that.
The endocrinologist said, "So, how have your numbers been? Oh, you just got your machine? I'll see you next week."
The obstetrician said, "I don't know why you've been sent to me - the midwife already did everything I would've done..."
The dietician said, "So, try to balance your carb intake between three meals and three snacks a day. It's quite important to fit in a good snack between each meal," as I sat in her room at lunchtime, having been stuck in appointments since breakfast.
So, I'm breaking up with them. Sorry, team - it's been lovely (lol, jk). It's not you; it's me (okay, and maybe a little bit you). But I've got myself all midwifed and doula...d... up, and I'm OUTTA THERE (unless I end up needing insulin - in which case I would be BACK IN THERE looking like this: :/ ).
So, we'll see how that goes. Feels good.
On another pregnancy-related topic: THIRD TRIMESTER.
Wow, that escalated quickly. I'm ten weeks tomorrow from the point where I had Owen. Ten. Weeks.
This third trimester thing has, basically, come in like a wrecking ball. Yesterday I put Owen down for his post-lunch siesta, put a movie on for Ellie, reclined on my bed just for two seconds cos it feels lovely... and woke up half an hour later, feeling disoriented and surprised and disproportionately upset. And five seconds later, laughed it off and got up and nearly fell down and got over it and went off to sigh into the fridge again.
The tireds. They're here already! Mid-afternoon (by which I mean the period from 1pm to 5pm) is looking set to become a total write-off for me again. Look forward to more posts in which I confess to falling asleep on the couch with children on my legs.
But, this time around, it's easier to face. Yuckier, because I know exactly how tired and achey and angry at the world for no good reason I'm probably going to get. But easier, because I know a secret I didn't know the first time around, and didn't remember the second time: IT GOES SO FAST. Seriously. In five more seconds, I'm going to be sitting here snatching a couple of moments to write about my beautiful newborn while he/she sleeps nearby. Five seconds after that, I'll be dropping him/her off at kinder.
Tiredness. Weird antenatal care. That poke behind the belly button just as I'm drifting off to sleep that makes me flick my leg in surprise. Lugging around a toddler and a bunch of kid stuff and a belly that would really like a little portable shelf to rest on, please. Gestational diabetes. The waiting game...
Turns out, the gift of the third-time pregnancy is perspective.
We're on half-days this week. Next week, she's up to the real deal of two/three days a week, six hours a day.
For today, that half-day was Kind Of A Big Deal.
Baby #1. We make 'em cheeky around here. And flippin' cute.
She got a bit nervous as we waited to go in and the foyer gradually filled up with mums and shiny new kinder kids and nervous energy. And then, the door opened. And just like last year, as all the other kids pulled back and grabbed reassuring parental hands, my Ellie marched forward. First in the room, straight to her cubby to stash her backpack, and sitting at the magnet table making school bus wheels out of triangles before I'd even figured out where to sign her in.
She'll be fine.
I packed my little solo boy back into the car, and sent Liam a text to let him know she was in and fine. He suggested I go enjoy some 'boy time' (I must say, I've been hanging out for some Mummy-and-Boy time lately).
To which, shortly after, I replied:
"If by 'boy time' you mean 'clothes shopping', then sure!"
'Scuse the weird face and blurrage - I was distracted by Owen telling me he was 'making a people'.
He loves doing stuff like this with me. Honestly. Because there are bits of tag on the change room floor, and you can poke them into other bits of tag and make cool stuff. And because no shopping trip is complete without (a) a visit to the toys, and (b) babycino. We know how to party.
Also, the ladies at Target love him. Especially when I tell him to say bye to the checkout lady, and he sticks out his lips and says "Bye" so sweetly, and then pumps his fist in the air and yells, "LET'S ROLL, HOMIES!"
They love that.
We even got to kinder so early we snagged the Primo Parking Spot and got to do this while we waited:
Over the fence, we could hear the teachers calling the children into line to head inside for pickup. He had a "super-fast twy" on everything in the meantime. He's a big fan of that bouncy aeroplane.
And then, it was time to collect her. My big girl, who just five seconds ago was poking me awake from the inside as I napped my way through my first ever third trimester discomforts.
They'll tell you, "It goes so fast." And you'll nod and smile politely as you cuddle your brand new firstborn. And then, five minutes later, you'll find yourself rubbing your third baby belly and telling someone else the same thing. Because that first baby of yours will be wearing a uniform and a backpack and a brave big-kid smile, and you won't have a clue where the time went.
And you'll know that that's okay. Because this is still just the beginning.</p>
Hi. I'd like to talk to you about two men, with whom I fell in love... before they existed.
I met this guy when he was seventeen. Still in school. Still a kid. We became friends. And then we became a married couple with a mortgage and a third kid on the way.
Okay, so there was some other stuff in between those two points. But seriously, don't the years just fly?
Thing is, when Liam and I were a young, carefree boyfriend and girlfriend, we were pretty much still kids. But I didn't just fall in love with that fun, lovable youngster - I fell in love with the man he would someday be; the man I saw in him.
And now, nine years later - nearly seven years of marriage, three houses, and nearly three kids later - I'm married to that man.
He's still learning. He's still growing. So am I. So are we all. But that man I saw in my eighteen-year-old best friend... he's here.
I see him in the daddy who loves my children so very much. I see him in the brother who encourages me - and others - from the scriptures. I see him in the man who goes out to work all day, and comes home ready to be present for his family. I see him in the husband who loves, honours, and cherishes his wife. And I see him in the dude who still jokes around like a teenager with his best friend - who just happens to be me.
I'm not one to go on and on about the guy - his hair's big enough; let's not go giving him a head to match. But seriously, he's awesome. And this year, through all the challenges and the trials and the massive leaps of faith, he's been a rock. I never stop being impressed.
My kids sure have got it good. And I'm stoked, cos I know exactly how good it is to have an excellent dad.
This guy, I met when he was about one second old. (Before that, I just knew him as the wriggly kid who kicked my ribs a lot.) He shouted his way into my life, and I had no idea what I was in for. See, I was pretty excellent at being Mummy to a little girl. But a little boy? What's that?
I had no idea about tractors or diggers or who Thomas the Tank Engine's friends were. I had no idea how little boys worked. Just... none.
I had no idea how cheekily and completely a little boy could steal a mama's heart.
But maaaan, did I ever learn. I now know each of Thomas's friends by name and defining characteristic. I can sing you the song, if you like. I know not all big yellow things on a construction site are called "diggers".
I know this boy's got me.
And when I look at this little marvel of boyishness, with his love of food and critters and being hilarious, I see more than a toddler with a ton of personality. I see the man in him.
This boy of mine is going to grow up. He's going to become a man, someday. And I'm already in love with the man my son will someday be. I believe in him.
I believe in the kind, affectionate daddy he could be. I believe in him as the faithful, encouraging brother who might comfort and strengthen his brethren. I believe in the good, honourable man he will become. I believe in the sweet, strong, loving husband that lies within him. And I believe in the boncecake who will always love a laugh with those blessed with his friendship.
I see that man - just as I saw a man within that other boy I mentioned.
And I love him already.
It's been spring for some time, in fact. So much so, that it's actually going to be summer in just five days.
Ballarat has just got the memo. But it's about to forget again.
And I remember that this thing happens to me every year. Adelaide or Ballarat, warm spring or cold one, I get all excited as spring begins and flowers blossom and the first touch of warmth comes into the air... and then I get the grumps when it (inevitably) turns cold and wet again.
You'd think I'd have got the hang of it by now. Nope.
But every year, I eventually come to this conclusion: It's okay. It's okay that it's forecast 13 and rain at the end of this week. It's okay that it poured torrentially on us as we drove home up the freeway on Saturday. It's okay that I'm still having to dry my washing inside, on clothes horses, in November. It's okay.
Because you know what's happening? Spring is just getting rid of the last of its rain. It's just making sure it's all poured out, every drenching raincloud thoroughly wrung dry, in time for summer.
Have to admit, this year in Ballarat it's cutting it pretty fine. But still.
And to help this positive thinking along, here are a few of the things that are making me happy lately. My
Happy Little Things
- Sleep-headed post-nap lovely boy.
- Picnics in the park.
- Camping trip + historical town + kids with legs = blissful smiley-face. No matter how begrudgingly they stand on that log.
- Fleeting baby movements. And fleeting baby kisses.
- This fabulous beauty salon. She's combing his hair. He's... letting her. And yes, those are indeed fingerless gloves and lenseless star glasses she's wearing, while he looks through her purse.
- This slightly terrifying beauty salon. Short on time? Let a two-year-old comb your hair while you do your girl's pigtails.
- Grinning selfies wit' mah peeps.
- Brave-girl pony rides at country fairs.
- Goons in hats.
- Casual superhero meets dramatic ballerina.
- Coming out of the shower to this re-enactment of "Mummy and Daddy waking up".
- Leisurely shopping trips with antlers and angel wings. (Yeah, I know, they're upside down. That's how she likes 'em.)
- The ever-popular post-bath game of "Princesses and Princes".
- Rockstar booncecakes.
- Daisies by the lake...
- ... and this one, repeatedly throwing his arms out wide and yelling "DAISIES!!! Daisies EPP'rywhere!!!!"
- Hide-and-seek with someone who doesn't care for the rules.
- This daisy-collecting girl, totally absorbed in her work.
- This daisy-collecting boy, tasting them.
- This display of healthy respect for weaponry.
- And last but not least, the payoff for the Big Tidy that happened while they were bathing last night. This morning, I lost them. And found them here, reading a book together.
Ahhhh. Happy mama.
See? It's okay.
Well, I'm glad that's over!
Monday marked my arrival at the glorious and happy land that is the second trimester. There's still some tireds. There's still some post-dinner headachery. But for the most part, I have energy again! And I can focus on a topic for more than ten seconds straight!
I'm tellin' ya, it's a glorious thing.
So, now I can think a bit again, here are some observations...
#1: The First Trimester is Hard.
Tired. Tiiiiiiiiired. Sooooooo tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiredddd.
I'd finish dinner, feel awful, go for a brief lie-down... and get up the next morning. Or spend the evening in a vague, trance-like state on the couch.
Evening? Yeah, afternoon as well. Sometimes I'd fall asleep there on the couch, while two children climbed on my legs and ribcage.
Okay, and morning.
I'm vastly grateful for the lack of throw-uppery, but that's not to say there was no nausea. And did I mention the tiredness?
That early pregnancy brain-fog is pretty hard to get through, I hafta say. First time round, you shrug and blame everything on baby brain and go easy on yourself wherever possible. Third time round, you have two little ones depending on you just as much as they did a few weeks ago, back when Mummy was normal.
It's hard work.
My advice would be: plug away. Do what you can, when you can - and when you can't... don't. My kids watched a lot of cartoons, not gonna lie. And ate a lot of convenience snacks, because who can stand vertically and cut up healthy stuff when they've already gone to all the trouble of dragging themselves from couch to kitchen? Isn't that enough??? Some days just getting the pantry door open was so exhausting I'd have to go lie down again.
But above all: remember. Not remember what you just said to someone, or where you put your car keys / important paperwork / chocolate / child, or whether you already put conditioner on your hair... but remember what it is that you're doing. During all the things you're forgetting even as you do them. Because you know what? Your body is building a person.
"As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit [wind], nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."
- Ecclesiastes 11:5
Read stuff. Read about how big baby is this week in comparison to various fruits. Read about how your little one is developing. Because the more you know, and the more you are in awe of this miraculous process, the more you will remember. When you're so tired you can't think any more, remember. When a baby right now seems crazy, remember. When you're wide awake at 3am for no reason other than your body is confused... use that time to remember.
Your body is doing an amazing thing. A few months from now, you're going to meet a little person who was not a little person at all until your body put in all this work. And that little person is going to grow. Into a child who runs and laughs and kisses you with sticky jam-lips. Into a youth who learns and blossoms and amazes you. Into an adult with ideas and experiences and wisdom. You're growing a person in there. Remember that, when you drag yourself to the fridge because you're starving for the umpteenth time and cry because nothing in there looks good. You're doing amazing things. You got this.
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
- Philippians 4:11-13
#2: As In Pregnancy, So In Parenthood.
So, pregnancy is hard. We've covered that. It's tiring, and stressful, and weird.
So is parenthood.
But also, pregnancy is amazing. A tiny speck of nothing much grows inside you and becomes a little person. Fingers, toes, eyes, ears, heartbeat... it's amazing.
And as a parent, we're blessed to witness an extension of that incredible process. First smiles, first steps, first jokes, first friendships... first car, first job... Step by step, day by day, as a parent you get to help shape the people your children will become. You smile bravely on a difficult day and point out a rainbow, and you cultivate a positive approach in them. You sing them to sleep for an hour when they're sick and miserable, and you teach them compassion. You pick them up and set them on their feet again when they fall, and they learn to persevere.
You love the Lord with all your heart, and reflect that love in the words you speak and the choices you make and the life you live... And don't think they don't see it.
"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
"Therefore also I have lent [granted] him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord..."
- I Samuel 1:27-28
Here's what I remember, as I look at these little children with whom the Lord has entrusted me: He's got a plan for them. My daughter, my son. Foreseen and planned. All I have to do is what I can.
"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
- Isaiah 40:11
And the littlest one? This new life, still being formed, just the size of a lemon... This one, too.
"Then the word of the Lord came unto [Jeremiah], saying,
"'Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I [set thee apart], and I [appointed] thee a prophet unto the nations.'"
- Jeremiah 1:4-5
I don't even know if it's a boy or a girl. I don't know what colour hair he/she will have; what colour eyes; whether he/she will be good at sports or music or art or words... But: He knows.
And just as in pregnancy I get to carry this process of miraculous development around with me, so in parenthood I get to watch new chapters of the miracle unfold. I get to see God's grace in the lives of my children - and they get to see it in mine.
"Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts..."
- Isaiah 8:18
On Monday, half an hour before we were due to leave for kinder drop-off, it started to rain. Again. (Seriously, lately it's been like clockwork for drop-off and pick-up.) I heard it start, and commented to Ellie, who gasped and said, "Oh, no! What are we gonna do?" I replied that we'd just have to go in the rain. Or maybe we could pray about it, I suggested.
And just like that, right then and there, sitting on her bedroom floor in the middle of putting on her socks, my four-year-old girl bowed her head and thanked the Lord for a lovely day and asked him to stop the rain so we could get to kinder without it raining on us.
Within five seconds, it stopped. The sound of falling rain simply faded to nothing. Just like that.
The faith of a child - and the grace of God to hear and answer. No number of solid nights' sleep, peaceful lie-ins, quiet weekend mornings - or even just trips to the toilet alone - would be close to enough for me to miss out on all of this.
I am so blessed to be where I am, with what I have. Look at it that way, and one more child isn't more work, or more noise, or less space, or less money. One more child isn't more sleep deprivation, Cheerio-encrusted chairs, and supermarket meltdowns.
It's one more blessing overflowing with blessings, to add to the collection.
"Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
- Psalm 127:3
(And it's certainly not "we moved away to do something and now whoops, we're having a baby". We've known for a long time that sooner or later, this child was coming. And by "a long time", I mean since his/her big sister was born. There's been someone missing, just out of sight, just around the next bend... But definitely coming...
And now just seemed right, somehow. Not right, in that I wish we could be having this baby surrounded by family and familiarity and with a midwife I know and trust. But... this baby will be born on an adventure. And what an adventure!
And as to what's missing - I've had my moments, but for the most part the Lord gives me peace. Peace, and a certainty that it'll be fine. Better than fine. Blessed.)
#3: It All Works For Good.
I am convinced that the hardships and trials of pregnancy are not for nothing.
"...but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
"And patience, experience; and experience, hope..."
- Romans 5:3-4
There's the bit at the end, when you're tired and heavy and uncomfortable and restless and nothing fits except that end-of-maternity uniform of one pair of stretchy pants and one black top. How eagerly does an over-it heavily pregnant woman look forward to giving birth? "Anything to this baby out of here," she says. That discomfort and impatience outweighs any uncertainties she might have had about the birth. Bring it on! See what I mean? Not for nothing.
And there's the bit at the start, when you're tired and queasy and constantly hungry and moody and sick of people and sick of pants that don't quite fit and sick of your daughter singing so loudly and sick of that noise your son makes with his mouth when he's breathing next to you...
All you want to do - all I want to do, anyway - is retreat from the world and cocoon myself in blankets and sleep and eat pastries until Week 14. I couldn't do that, for numerous (and mostly obvious) reasons. But I did do some serious retreating. And again, I believe that compulsion to withdraw in and inward is not for nothing.
My life is full. Full to bursting. I have two busy young children who rely on me for pretty much everything. I have a busy - and awesome - husband who relies on me to do the stuff I do, so he can get on with taking care of the stuff he does. These people all want, and need, and deserve, my time and energy. I have a nice home that won't clean and tidy and maintain itself. I have a beautiful little fellowship, to which we moved here to contribute. I have the Lord, who deserves all I can give and then some.
My life is full. But somewhere in there, there is room for one more.
The past few weeks - weeks of retreat and hibernation and foggy-headed bewilderment - have been incredibly valuable to me. It's forced me to take the time and space I needed to adjust to this addition to our lives. It's given me chance to fall in love with a little someone I'm yet to meet.
I sat at the dining table one evening a week or so ago, feeling BLEGH as usual after dinner. (Seriously, it's like that meal comes as a surprise to my body every single day. Get a grip, dude. You cooked this!) Leaning forward (I may or may not have been resting my face on my tea mug), I could feel something. Not digestion-something. Baby-something. I'm not new to this. I know baby-something when I feel it.
And "Blegh, I feel horrible, this is horrible, it's all so hard, BLEGH!!!" suddenly turned into "Oh, hello, little baby! What are you doing in there? Having a nice time? I'm looking forward to meeting you..." Honestly, it was immediate. Buckets of love. Buckets of everything is fine.
And it made me realize how far I had come in the last few weeks. From notion of baby to genuine love. From weird things happening to my body again to this child is part of our family already.
Before I even knew I was pregnant, I was determined that this time I wouldn't wish pregnancy away like I did last time, in my impatience to be done with it and meet my child. This time, I would have a mindful pregnancy. This time, I would embrace it all - every weird, wonderful bit of it. And I still don't know that I would have, if I'd breezed into it with the ease I experienced with Ellie.
Well, there has certainly been no breezing. It's been a bit lonely at times, and a bit long, and a bit... I dunno... whatever. But I'm so thankful for this exhausting, nauseated ride that has been the first trimester this time around. Because it's given me time to count my blessings, and remember to add one. It's given me time to remember what I've always known I wanted.
It's given me time to fall madly in love.
"He maketh the barren [childless] woman to keep house [dwell in a home], and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord."
- Psalm 113:9
Amen to that.
#4: The Second Trimester Is Better.
So. All that said, I'm so glad the first trimester is over. Appreciate it and what it's meant for me more than I can say. But still, so glad that rollercoaster ride of exhaustion is behind me.
Hello, second trimester. Energy returning... Head-fog clearing... Nausea abating... Appetite normalizing... Mood stabilizing... Stretchy jeans fitting...
I'm ready now to emerge back into the wide world, blinking in the dazzling sunlight, secure in the certainty of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. That was good. This is good. I love my baby. The Lord's got plans for this kid. Life is pretty fantastic.
(Um, hello? Ballarat? I said "blinking in the dazzling sunlight"... ??? ... *sigh* Nothing? Really? Cos, no pressure, but it's nearly November... Oh, well. Guess I'll hafta get Ellie onto it.)
Been quiet around here lately, hasn't it?
See, when you've got something consuming a lot of your mind, but it's not time to
talk write about it yet, it's hard to write about anything else. Especially the way I write, all in one free-flowing go with some minimal editing when it's all written. I don't plan my writing, particularly. And how can I write unplanned when I'm skirting around the big elephant in the corner of my brain?
Enough of the shush.
We're having a baby.
TA-DA!!!! [cue fanfare and party poppers]
Yep, an actual human child. You know, to add to the collection. Cos we make bonces around here, and I like bonces.
It's still early days. Seven weeks yesterday. But I'm tired, and I'm pudgy, and I'm not into waiting. Last week - on Owen's birthday - we saw a tiny little blob with a heartbeat. Thirty-odd more weeks, and there'll be three of the little weirdos, cracking us up, filling our hearts, keeping us on our toes at all times. Three.
I feel too young to be a mother of three! I still feel like a teenager, playing house, playing at being a parent. (Until I spend time with a real teenager - then I remember I'm definitely not.) I'm just winging it every step of the way.
So far so good.
Ellie's excited. She's decided if it's a girl we can call it Plister. She doubts very much that it will be a boy, but in the unlikely event of her being wrong, she's got a boy name picked out too: Ploster.
Owen's indifferent. I keep reminding myself he's now the age Ellie was when he was born. And she really only got that there was a baby in my belly, which would come out and be our baby, about a week before it happened. When asked if he'd like a little baby brother or sister, he politely replied, "No fank you."
He's got time to come around.
We're not going to find out which it is until it's born. We didn't find out with Ellie, and it was awesome. We found out with Owen and kept it secret, and that was hard work. And I prefer the thought of us all being pleasantly surprised together, rather than Ellie building up some idea of what the new baby will be like based on gender. Let's get to know this little person for who he/she is, when the time comes. Until then, the unknown is a little bit delicious.
If you've ever been pregnant in your life, maybe don't read this paragraph. I don't seem to get morning sickness. Some nausea, certainly - but I've found chewing gum in the car and snacking regularly (good ol' carbs!) are all it takes. That, and avoiding escalators when I'm tired. *shudder*. Don't worry - I know how incredibly good I've got it. I'm not taking it for granted for a minute.
The tiredness on the other hand... DUDE. It's brain-crushing, bone-liquifying tiredness. It gets referred to as "fatigue" - in the same way the Great Fire of London is referred to as "a bit of a bonfire". Today I fell asleep on the couch while both children sat on me. Owen was on my legs, drawing squiggles and taking selfies on my ipad. Ellie was sitting on my hip, watching him. And I slept like that, for nearly half an hour. Not dead-to-the-world sleeping; not kids-burning-the-house-down-around-me sleeping - don't worry, I was vaguely aware of what was happening most of the time - but still. I slept. With two children sitting on my bones. Because, fatigue.
I'm learning, though.
First time around I could do exactly what I liked. Nap in the middle of the day? No worries. Take an hour to eat breakfast? No worries. No responsibilities beyond my own care - and occasionally going to work, I guess - and all the time (and personal space) in the world to doze off on the couch whenever I felt the need. Today's nap, on the other hand, was a rare treat born of desperate, undeniable necessity.
Second time around, I still got downtime when Ellie napped. And she was the sweetest, most easygoing toddler. If I needed a quiet day, she gave me one. If I needed space, she gave it to me. The sudden bouts of crushing mother-guilt were pretty rough, but I needed rest, and I took it. And maybe, if I'm honest (and I am, else what's the point), I resented the exhausting little stranger a bit for that.
I got over it. Don't worry.
And that's the thing: I now have these two little bonces I'm crazy about. I love them so much. And this time around, I know some things.
I know I'll be starting from scratch, love-wise, with this new little one. And I know that'll be fine, because I know it comes. Boy, does it ever.
I know I need to adjust now, and keep adjusting, to a new balance. I know this is more than just a few months of waiting - I know this is the beginning of a new season of our lives, and things are going to have to change accordingly. I know the best way to change is to embrace it.
I know there will be times I need to turn on the cartoons and get some rest. And I know that's okay. Because I also know there will be times when the presence of this new little one inside me will remind me of how very precious all of my little ones are, and my Ellie and my Owen will be bathed in great outpourings of mama-love.
I know the early days of a new little sibling are hard on a family, and I know there's very little we can do to really prepare for that. But I know it turns out okay. Better than okay. I know it turns out as best friends.
This feels good. This feels like someone who's been missing from our family is coming to join us. And the tiny moments of good-grief-what-are-we-doing are quickly negated by the knowledge that the Lord's got this. He knows us, and he knows what he's doing. And he knows who's heading our way.
I pray that I can embrace the next year, with all its ups and downs; all its struggles and delights. I pray that I can remain present for my children, and give them as much of myself as they need, while cherishing and nurturing this budding new love for the one I carry. I pray for the strength to do what needs to be done, and the wisdom to know when to stop doing it and lie down on the couch and doze off to the sound of Mister Maker making something out of googly eyes and tinfoil.
But most of all, I give prayers of thanks. For a great marriage to an amazing man who is my best friend. For two happy, healthy children who are also my best friends (and each other's). And for this new little person, a new best friend to meet and learn all about and grow with. And for so much more. For a brand new sister in the Lord here in Ballarat. For a calling that's clear to me. For a life that's utterly blessed; every precious, hard, weary, exciting day. For a future that's awesome.
And so much more.
I'd thought of clever ways to reveal our news, but in the end, there's nothing better than Praise the Lord.