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    Pregnancy Math

    I have been wanting to write this post for years, but it’s only appropriate and justified coming from an author who is at least 30 weeks pregnant.

    I am currently clocking in at 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

    I have gained at least 30 pounds.

    My back hurts and my ankles are swollen.

    And, therefore, I am a credible author for this post…

    Ladies, please stop saying you are “10 months pregnant” or that pregnancy lasts for ten months. It’s simply not true. I am not a mathematician by any means, but I think we can do some simple addition to verify that a full-term pregnancy lasts right around nine months, just like all the books and doctors say.

    Here is the thing… we measure pregnancy in weeks. Your doctor gives you a due date that is 40 weeks from the date of your last menstrual cycle. 4 weeks does not equal a month unless it’s February. Every month is 30 or 31 days, and therefore approximately 4.5 weeks, so your 40 week pregnancy is not ten months long.

    I will agree with you on this fact. Pregnancy math is weird. The medically-recognized human gestation period is the kind of math that made me cry in high school. It doesn’t really make sense.

    Pregnancy = 40 weeks.

    But you aren’t really pregnant for the first two weeks, because you typically conceive 10-14 days after the start of your last menstrual cycle.

    So for the first two weeks of pregnancy, you aren’t actually pregnant. From the point of conception to your due date = 38 weeks (definitely not ten months).

    Then there is the whole trimester thing… why would you take a number that is not divisible by 3 (either 40 or 38 weeks) and decide that pregnancy should be counted in trimesters? Ridiculous.

    If you want to divide your pregnancy into trimesters, your first trimester ends at 13 weeks and 2 days and 8 hours, your second trimester ends at 26 weeks, 4 days, and 16 hours, and your third trimester ends on your due date (if you have surrendered to the whole fake 40 week gestation period in the first place). That’s just awkward. “Hey! I’m 26 weeks, 4 days, and 16 hours pregnant… hello, third trimester!” That’s not a catchy Instagram caption.

    I will admit in the past some women may have reached ten months of pregnancy. Before we had such stringent medical policies in place, there were times when women would go WAY past due. I heard of one mom, back in 70s, who had a baby at 43 weeks. That’s still not technically ten months, but it’s close enough that I’ll let her claim it. But now research shows the chances of stillbirth go up significantly after 42 weeks of pregnancy, so if you are birthing a child in the U.S. you probably won’t ever have a pregnancy remotely close to ten months long, even with the most chill midwife ever.

    The easiest way to see that pregnancy is really only nine months long is by doing some simple math. Add the number of months from your estimated conception date to your baby’s due date or birthday. Here are some examples from my three children…

    Zianne // conceived on or around December 19th, born on September 21st at 9 days past due (total pregnancy duration: 9 months and two days)

    Talitha // conceived on or around September 16th, born on June 12th one day early (total pregnancy duration: 8 months and 27 days)

    Baby #3 // conceived on or around July 23rd, due April 15th (estimated pregnancy duration: 8 months and 23 days)

    There you have it… some simple pregnancy math from the least number-savvy person in the universe. I seriously despise math, but I can’t handle one more woman complaining about being ten months pregnant. You are not and will not ever be ten months pregnant. I assure you.

    Don’t get me wrong… do I feel ten months pregnant these days? Sometimes. Do I feel like I haven’t worn regular clothing in at least ten months? Yes. Do those hazy days of feeling nauseated and exhausted during my first trimester seem like they were at least ten months ago? Sure.

    But I praise God every day that I will never actually know what ten months of pregnancy feels like… and you won’t either. Four weeks does not equal a month and trimesters are a silly way to divide up a pregnancy, but take comfort in this fact. Lord-willing, you will only be pregnant for nine months give or take, and God will sustain you the whole time. He decided thousands of years ago that 38 weeks was the perfect amount of time to grow a human baby in the womb, and His design is perfect. You might only be pregnant for nine months, but that little newborn babe will be ten months old… or even ten years old… in the blink of an eye!

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    I could never do that…

    Moments before I started writing this post, a friend sent a birth announcement over text. They have a daughter and then a son, so with this third child they decided to “not find out” the gender. Today the baby finally arrived… and after months of them guessing it was a girl, it turns out he is a BOY. A beautiful, eight pound baby boy born two days before his due date.

    The timing of her text message was perfect because for weeks I’ve been reflecting on how much I love not knowing our baby’s sex. I honestly love it more during this pregnancy than ever before.

    With Zianne, I loved not finding out, but there was a trace of anxiety in the surprise, because I really wanted a girl. Micah and I always wanted a firstborn daughter and there was a part of me that wondered what I would do with a firstborn son. I knew I would love a boy or a girl and grow into whatever role God called me to in my firstborn’s life. Deep in my heart, I trusted that God had designed my first child perfectly for our family, whether male or female, but on the surface, I couldn’t imagine daily life with a boy. Out came Zianne Eileen, our precious firstborn daughter, and I was thrilled. Not finding out her gender was like being a kid on Christmas Eve all over again. I didn’t think you could capture the feeling of being an eager child staring up at the Christmas tree in adult life, when worry and knowledge weigh you down, but it turns out… you can.

    When pregnant for the second time, I wanted to be surprised again and Micah reluctantly agreed. I always tell people that I love not finding out and Micah “tolerates” it for my sake. It’s perhaps one of the kindest gifts he’s ever given me. Except with Talitha, we were only “sort-of” surprised. They found a “pelvic cyst” in our anatomy screening, and the nurse called to let us know a few days later. We had to do a few follow-up scans to make sure it wasn’t problematic (it disappeared by the time she was born). They never told us where the cyst was located, as to not ruin our gender surprise, but a quick Google search revealed that it was most likely an ovarian cyst, and therefore our baby was probably a girl. We went into labor 98% sure we were having a girl. We also went into labor with no set girl name, because we realized it was going to be hard to name two girls in a row. It took us two hours to pick Talitha’s name and six more months to finally get comfortable with our choice, but that’s another story for another day. We were now raising two sisters… and it was so much fun. You always read about the identity of “boy mom” online, but I was starting to feel like a “girl mom” and could not have been happier with that title.

    And here we are with our third surprise baby, and I have never loved the suspense more than I do right now. I feel so at ease with whatever the outcome. Part of me assumes we’ll have another girl, and I’m perfectly content at that thought. I consider it such an honor to raise little girls who will hopefully someday be strong women of God. If I had to have all one sex or the other – I’d choose girls in an instant. The thought of having three or four or even five daughters sounds like a dream to me.

    But then, of course, I wonder if this one is a boy (mainly because of my insatiable appetite this pregnancy). A boy would be a new and exciting adventure for our family. I would love to see Micah wrestling and playing football with a little guy, and it would be an honor to raise a godly man in this fallen world. Also, I love our boy name so much it seems sad not to ever use it…

    At the beginning of this pregnancy, I wondered if we would have to find out for some strange reason. Part of me worried that if we had another girl she might possibly have an ovarian cyst too. Maybe that’s a “thing” that my babies have for some reason and we would get another half-surprise as doctors did follow-up tests. Or maybe Micah would really want to know this time. Obviously, I should give in, since he has endured two surprises for me. Thankfully, Micah has now fully embraced that we are the couple that “doesn’t find out,” and I think he’s actually enjoying it more this time around. One night, in the weeks leading up to our ultrasound, I told him I would feel a sense of mourning if we had to find the baby’s gender halfway through a pregnancy. He laughed as I tried to explain it further. I would feel a sense of loss if I didn’t have that suspenseful expectation throughout the second half of my pregnancy.

    I actually mentioned this “mourning the loss of the surprise” concept to few different girlfriends who, of course, thought I was crazy. But then I mentioned it to a friend – a mom of five – who said she experienced the exact same feeling. She never found out the sex of any of her children until the very last one. At that point, she had a girl and three boys and her daughter desperately wanted a sister. My friend reluctantly agreed to find out the baby’s sex in advance. It was a boy. Going into labor with only a boy name in her mind and boy outfit in her bag was the strangest feeling ever. If she could do it all over again, she would have kept it a surprise.

    It’s fun not to find out our baby’s gender, but for me there is also a spiritual aspect to the surprise. Whenever, I tell people we didn’t find out our baby’s sex, they almost always respond with, “Oh, I could never do that!” or “I am too much of a planner.” Guess what? I’m as type-A, organized, plan-all-the-things as they get, and yet I love the surprise. The funny thing is you actually have to plan MORE when you don’t find out, because you have to have both the girl and boy scenarios covered (at least as far as names and outfits to wear home from the hospital). But the truth of the matter is that people like control. We like to know what we are having so we can prepare ourselves emotionally if we secretly were hoping for the opposite gender. We like to buy clothes and decorate nurseries and monogram blankets in advance, because it makes us feel prepared for the onslaught of baby situations (labor, delivery, parenting a newborn) that will be entirely out of our control. You never plan for emergency C-sections, birth disorders or defects, or babies with acid reflux… they just happen if that’s part of God’s plan for your family.

    It’s not wrong to find out the gender at your 20 week ultrasound or in a 14 week blood draw. If you want to know, by all means, find out. But for me, not knowing is  gentle reminder that God is in control. It reminds me that He formed this little baby in my womb. And this little child, whether boy or girl, was made to be in our family. I was made to be this baby’s mother and nothing revealed in an anatomy scan (whether sex or sickness) will ever change that. I am not in control at all. I never was. I never will be. I can plan all I want, but God is sovereign over all things – including this child’s gender, personality, and life story. I just wait a little longer than most mothers do to find out the character details in that story, because the wait reminds me that I am not the author, just the captivated reader of a beautiful tale written by the world’s best Author.

    *Photos by Abby Orona Photography // *Maternity dress by ASOS

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    Good Gifts

    She ran ahead of me in her little black tutu. I hadn’t had a chance to buy her shoes yet, so we crammed her feet into a used pair from the loaner basket. She glanced at herself in the mirror and looked pleased. She didn’t seem to mind that her slippers were a bit too small or a little bit dirty. She didn’t notice that her bun was messy instead of polished like the older girls hanging around the lobby.

    When it was time for class to start, she followed her teacher, Miss Jordan, into a back studio with a handful of other 3 and 4 year old girls. I sat in the waiting room and watched the class from the TV. I saw her stretch and plié. Leap and point her toes. I had tucked a book into my purse to keep me occupied during the class, but I found myself mesmerized by the screen the entire time.

    As the class was wrapping up 45 minutes later, I stood to leave the waiting room and meet Zianne outside her classroom. Before I could exit, I started talking with another mom and stood with my back to the door, distracted. Before I knew it, my three year-old was jumping into my arms exclaiming, “Mommy, I had SO much fun!”

    So much fun. She was all smiles and so articulate about how great her first ballet lesson had been. It was perhaps the most enthusiastic I had ever seen her (which is saying a lot, because she’s naturally one of the most enthusiastic people I know). “It was SO much fun,” she told me again.

    To be honest, I delved into these ballet lessons with caution. Although raising young children takes so much time and energy, the nice thing about babies and toddlers is they rarely have organized activities. When I was training for a half marathon last spring, I would run past the crowded soccer fields in our neighborhood, quietly thankful that we were still in the season where Saturdays were our own. No soccer games. No volleyball matches. No cheering competitions. No. No. Not yet. Saturday mornings were still for mommy and daddy to go running or surfing or meet up with a friend.

    Ballet lessons would usher us into a new season of extracurricular activities, but I knew Zianne would love them, so I asked my parents for “experience” gifts for the girls this Christmas – ballet lessons for Z and swim lessons for T. I figured we could surrender our Saturday mornings this winter and then pause classes when the baby arrives in the spring.

    So at 9:30am every Saturday, you will find me at the ballet studio for the next few months. My daughter will be skipping and leaping in the back classroom, while I watch her on a TV screen in the waiting room. She will be smiling, and I will be too, because nothing can compare to the moment she leapt into my arms after her very first lesson. In that instant, as I looked at her exuberant smile and flushed cheeks, I understood more fully the verse that says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

    Her delight was my delight. When I saw her excitement for this new class, the sacrifice was worth it to me. I could gladly make this Saturday morning commitment and added “buy ballet shoes” to my shopping list for the week. Even though I am naturally selfish and want Saturdays to myself, I suddenly found myself overjoyed to spend a precious weekend morning in a crowded dance studio. To give the gift of ballet lessons to my daughter filled my own heart with joy.

    And this how God looks at us. We are needy and naive, and yet we can ask him for anything, and he delights to give us good gifts. We can leap into the arms of a Father who loves us and wants to bestow blessing upon us. God is the perfect parent who gladly gave up for us, not his Saturday mornings, but his very own Son. And that son endured so much more than a crowded waiting room in a dance studio; his body was distorted on a cross to show his devotion to God’s beloved children.

    The Father will give us any gift that’s for our good and His glory. Ask him. Trust him when he says no, and leap into his embrace with delighted gratitude when he so often says YES.

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