Well, here I am at 38 weeks, 1 day and still no baby. After all the trouble we had with preterm labor, a hospital stay, and a week and a half of bed rest, we were definitely expecting Baby Girl sometime last week. So far, she’s still hanging out in there.
Feeling so out-of-control of everything the past few weeks has really brought to light some secrets buried deep in my heart. Dark, ugly secrets. Like, how prideful I am as a pregnant woman.
I see this picture I posted on my Instagram feed some months back and cringe. The heart of it was so braggy…so self-centered.
You see, secretly, I felt that the easiness of my first pregnancy was all due to me. I ate good, tried to stay active, and purposed to stay positive through it all. My feet barely swelled, heartburn was non-existent, and I delivered a healthy baby boy at 40 weeks, 1 day with no Pitocin, no epidural, and a less than 10 hour labor. Motherhood ended up being far more challenging than I expected, but I loved it and eventually thrived as a stay-at-home mom.
Then I became pregnant with Baby #2. I expected nothing less than the easy pregnancy I’d had before. I planned on staying healthy and active, keeping up my garden, being an amazing mother to my toddler, and babywearing until the very end, when I’d go in and deliver another healthy baby with a short, easy labor. I would be even more prepared this time. I knew what to expect. This wasn’t my first rodeo.
As the weeks of my pregnancy went on, I found myself slowly losing more-and-more of the “control” I thought I had. First, one of the ventricles in Baby Girl’s brain was slightly enlarged (which, thankfully, resolved itself). Then, excessive contractions and cramping almost landed me in the hospital at 25 weeks. I found myself having to go much slower than with my first pregnancy. We had to turn down outings with friends, for fear that the heat and walking would be too much for me. I tried to pace myself, but still found myself pushing…perhaps too much. Heartburn and breathlessness plagued me incessantly.
Still, I had some control. I was going to be ready. I had lists made of what all needed to be done before baby came. They included everything from deep cleaning the house to making freezer meals to packing everyone’s bags to being stocked up on paper plates.
Every shred of control was lost when I found myself hospitalized with preterm labor at 35 weeks, 3 days. I was sent home to face the daunting challenge of strict bedrest for the next week and half. All of my best laid plans went down the tubes. At night, I’d hear my son crying for me and just ache, knowing that I could not go to him…that someone else would have to. I found my independent self having to rely on others just to bring me water, change my son’s diaper, or find the extra box of cereal in the kitchen. I had time to think…and I thought a lot.
I thought about how prideful I had been. I thought about how nothing, as it turns out, had ever been in my control…nothing was due to my superior actions as a pregnant woman. This had been a hard pregnancy, with unexpected twists and turns, and it was okay to admit that. It was okay to embrace that, knowing that nothing I had experienced this go around made me less or more of a woman or a mother.
Right now, my baby carriers are collecting dust, my garden lays fallow, and my son is having to learn that Mama can only do so much today. At 37 weeks, 2 days, I wait in limbo…waiting for the arrival of my so very wanted baby girl. I no longer have any expectations of what her birth will be like. At this point, my once decidedly-pro-natural-childbirth self would even welcome a C-section, if it meant that I would have my little girl in my arms at last and that this pregnancy and everything that comes with it would be over.
Today, I know that I’m not “Super Pregnant Mommy”. Today, I feel very out-of-control. Today, I know that that’s perfectly okay.
I was so determined to be ready when Baby Girl Baker made her grand entrance into this world, somewhere around her due date. Before she came, the house would be spotless, the freezer full, bags packed, and all arrangements made. According to that plan, I’d be cleaning my house right now, waiting for my parents to arrive, and looking forward to the baby shower this Sunday and more relatives visiting this coming week.
Yesterday morning preterm labor sent me to the hospital where I spent a restless night tossing and turning, hooked up to monitors and IVs. This morning the doctors let me go home with orders for strict bed rest. I’m 35 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and we’re trying to get Baby Girl to at least 37 weeks.
So, instead of doing what I think I should be doing, I’m lying in my bed with instructions to only get up to use the bathroom. I won’t even be able to make it to Baby Girl’s shower this Sunday. There’s so much to be done, but nothing that I can do, and little chance that I’ll be able to before she makes her arrival. Things like this, they can’t be planned for…or planned around.
Yet, I see God’s hand so clearly through all of this. I see that He’s using this to whittle me away…to make me stop trusting in myself and my “plans” and to start trusting in Him. I see that I need to stop thinking I can be Super Mommy all the time, with the perfect house and the perfect plan. Because I can’t. Expecting myself to be that way only sets me up to fail. I see that His timing and His plans are always far better than ours in the end, even when we don’t understand why now. I see that it’s going to be okay.
I just have to make it a week and a half. I’m sure that the dust will sit, we’ll be eating out of pizza boxes, and my poor husband will be too tired for words…but we’ll make it. And soon, one way or another, our precious baby girl will be in our arms and this will be all over it. And it’ll all be worth it.
Compared to my first, this pregnancy has been no picnic in the park. In the beginning, I felt guilty for not being as excited about this pregnancy as I was with the first. Then there was a worry about baby girl’s brain ventricle being too large, and more recently such bad contractions and cramping that I almost went to the hospital.
I realized the other day, however, how long October seemed away, and how impatient I was for it to get here. The time has slowed and I find myself counting the days until sweet Baby Girl Baker makes her arrival. I’m excited and expectant and eager…all things that I wasn’t in the beginning of this pregnancy.
You see, all the trouble and worry has made Baby Girl’s life all the more dear and precious to me. I’ve come to realize just how much I love and cherish her…and that I’d do anything to see her safely in my arms. The contractions, the excessive water, the aches, and the insomnia are insignificant to me in comparison to knowing that, Lord willing, in a few short months I’ll be able to kiss her tiny little toes.
I don’t mean to say that God gives us troubles and heartaches, but I do believe He has allowed these things to happen because He knew they were exactly what I needed. He knew that I needed those worries to prepare my heart to receive my daughter.
Sometimes hardships are exactly what we need to make us stronger. Sometimes there is beauty in our troubles.
Baby Girl Baker has been doing well. She continues to kick (and punch and flip) up a storm. Miles has caught on to this, and one of his favorite things now is to push on my belly and tell his “seester” to move. He really is in love with her. He’s constantly wanting to “snuggle” with the baby, “feed” the baby a cracker”, and talk to her. The other day he told me she said she was hungry for a cracker. All bets are off when the baby actually arrives and he realizes just what a baby really entails, but for now he’s into it.
I, on the other hand, have been having an interesting ride. This pregnancy is so very different from my first. I don’t know if it’s because I’m having a girl instead of a boy, or just that every pregnancy is unique, but it baffles me sometimes. I’ve had quite a lot of Braxton Hicks since very early in this pregnancy. Never one to slow down, I’ve had to be more cautious and aware, as they seem to come on when I’ve overdone it.
The weekend before last we were very close to going up to the hospital. I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks (sometimes more than 6 in an hour), plus some very strange cramping. Thankfully, after gallons of water, tons of epsom salt baths, tylenol, and pretty much laying down all weekend, they subsided.
Last Tuesday I had a normal checkup scheduled anyways, and they decided to make sure I wasn’t showing any signs of labor. Much to my relief, I wasn’t. The doctor just chalked it up to every pregnancy being different and said this one might just be harder.
So, since then I’ve just been extra careful about not overdoing it. I’ve also upped my protein intake, and am carrying a quart-size mason jar around with me to make sure I’m getting at least a gallon a day of water. So far, it seems to be helping.
I’ll leave you with a picture I took last Thursday at 26 weeks. I am SO big compared to last time. It’s pretty much all belly…just a really big belly.
Here’s a comparison from 27 (almost 28 weeks) with Miles and 26 weeks with Baby Girl Baker:
Linking up with Mommy Moments at The Life of Faith:
It’s funny how everything can change in an instant.
One minute you’re sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, feeling your precious baby full of life within you. The next you’re watching that same precious baby on the ultrasound screen with your husband and your son and you know before you’re told that it’s a precious girl. The tech tells you that all is well, and your husband takes your son to the car while you meet with the doctor. You’re trying to wrap your mind around having a little girl when the doctor finally comes in and you learn that all was not, in fact, perfect. She’s calm and optimistic, but her words blur in your mind. Slightly enlarged brain ventricle. Follow-up ultrasound next time. Will probably go away. If not, you’ll need to go to Little Rock for a level two scan.
You’re calm as you check out, as you walk out to the car, as you inform your husband. Slowly, as the words start to sink in, your peace ebbs. Later that night you make the mistake of searching on the internet about what this could mean. You only read one page and then you get off, trying not to think about it.
The next morning you wake in the still, last hours of the night, thoughts and worries swirling through your head driving you mad. You think about how you haven’t been as careful with this baby as you were with your first. You think about your daily caffeine consumption, the soda you’ve indulged in here or there, your not-so-perfect diet. You find yourself sick with guilt and overwhelmed with the thought that there might be something wrong with the baby…and it might be all your fault.
You know the thought is ridiculous, but you can’t shake it. Stressed and uptight, you open your Bible. As you read Psalm 139 aloud, you find yourself sobbing brokenhearted, worried tears.
Yet, as you read, it hits you…you love this baby more than life itself. For so long you harbored guilt because you weren’t as excited about this baby as you were about your first. Yet here you are, worried sick and unable to sleep over this very same baby.
In the end, what does it matter anyway? You know without a doubt that you want this baby and that you will love and cherish her, no matter what. Most likely, everything is normal. Yet even if there is something wrong…even if all is not right, you will love her the same. You will still ache to hold her, to feel her heartbeat against your chest, to watch her grow. Her life is still within God’s perfect plan, her days already written in His book.
Peace floods over you as you realize that He knew that this would happen and He knows what will happen…even if you may not understand the whys.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?…even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well…Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
Sweet Baby Girl,
We love you. We always have loved you, and we always will. In my dreams, you are healthy and normal, without a care. Yet, even if something is not quite right, you are perfect in God’s eyes…and in mine. Nothing could alter or lessen my love for you. Yes, even if they find something wrong. Even if you are not completely healthy, it won’t matter at all…I will love you still.
We all have regrets. It seems that life can’t be lived without them. Nobody knows this more keenly than us mamas. They tell you that it’ll go fast and to savor the moments, and you believe it will, but then you still lose precious time. Here are some things that I wish I’d done, didn’t do, or done more of with Miles that I’m hoping to at least try for this second baby:
–Stop reading books and googling things. My first baby just did not fit the mold. He didn’t fall into his own schedule by three months, he didn’t like the bouncy seat, he hated riding in the car, and he didn’t sleep as much as he was “supposed” to. I wish I’d stopped looking things up, thinking there was something wrong with me, and just embraced my precious son for who he was.
–Stop the Diet Coke addiction. I rarely drank sodas, but somehow in the first month of exhausted, colic-filled motherhood it became a ritual for me to drive to McDonald’s every afternoon, order a giant Diet Coke for 69 cents (because that evil special happened at my most vulnerable time), and drive around while my son slept for a few precious minutes. While there was nothing inherently wrong with that, I really felt like I wasted a lot of time when I could have been drinking something more nourishing (tea or even COFFEE anyone?), perhaps napping myself, and not pouring aspartame into my body. Plus, as tired as I was, I probably had no business driving. 😉
–Be okay when baby cries. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the baby will just not stop crying. Instead of feeling like a failure as a mother, accept this, know it won’t last long, and move on. Keep dark chocolate on hand for moments such as this.
–Ask for help. I really am too stubborn and independent for my own good. I needed to ask for help more, even if it was just asking my husband to vacuum the living room.
–Kick the old men off the church couches. Miles was never one of those babies that would sleep through church or quietly coo. From the start he was LOUD. He was also a very noisy nurser, especially when we were having troubles in the first few months. I usually got stuck in the nursery or in the lonely, depressing, nursing mother’s room. The church lobby has monitors, but the nice, cushy couches that you can actually see them from are always taken by this group of older men. I wish I had been more vocal and asked them to scoot over. That would have been the perfect spot for me and my noisy baby.
–Give yourself some slack. I felt like such a failure those first few months. I would think about all the things the new pioneer mommas had to do and think there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t even keep the dishes clean or the floor swept! You know what? I needed to stop comparing myself to some imaginary standard that wasn’t even real, and just do what was possible for me.
–Stop pushing baby onto the next phase. People tell you not to do this, but you don’t really get it until you experience it yourself. All too soon that sweet baby will be rolling over, crawling, and walking…and all too soon they’ll be wanting daddy instead of you. Embrace this season and moment, because it’s all too fleeting. Yes, it may seem like life will be much easier when they don’t have to be held all the time…but you’ll miss those sweet snuggles.
–Be more vocal in general. It really is okay to decline a get together with friends or family because you know it will be way too over stimulating to your high-needs kid. It’s okay to ask to dim the lights or turn the tv off or to have your fussing baby back. Don’t put your desire not to step on people’s toes above your and your baby’s needs.
–Let baby come into bed. I felt guilty for a long time for not being able to get Miles to sleep anywhere but beside me. I shouldn’t have. For awhile, he needed that. My almost-two-year-old now tells us he’s sleepy and asks to go “night night” in hi own bed. It won’t last forever…savor the sweet snuggles.