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Narratives of Grace

    Waiting…

    We are officially in the waiting stage.

    Every morning I wake up and think, “Okay, if I went into labor today, what would that look like?” I assess childcare, what my plans are for the day, how far from the hospital I might be, and whether or not Micah is at work. I make a logistical outline in my head and then go about with the day’s activities.

    And then I counter my preparation thoughts by reminding myself that it could easily be another week or two until this baby arrives.

    And although most pregnant moms wouldn’t mind their baby coming a week early, I think most of us also have a specific “after date” in mind. That hope that the baby will come after we get that one final thing completed, usually in the 38th or 39th week of pregnancy.

    It would be great if the baby could come…

    after the floors get installed downstairs.

    after we move our stuff into the new house.

    after I get that report filed for work.

    after my last class of the semester.

    For me, my last day of teaching was yesterday, but I am hoping to come in tomorrow to wrap up a few things at work. And then I will be grading and emailing from home until this baby arrives. My “after” day is Wednesday, April 12th, but we’ll see what God has in store.

    These final weeks of pregnancy are reminding me of being pregnant with Zianne.

    With Z, I caught the WORST head cold two days after my due date, and I actually prayed she would be at least a week late, so I could recover my health before going into labor. She was, thankfully, nine days late, and even then the nurses offered me a humidifier in my hospital room because I still had a lingering cough and congestion after delivery. Likewise, I caught a weird cold and cough last week. It’s not as bad as the one I had with Zianne, but I still break into coughing fits a few times a day. I would love to have this symptom pass by before I go into labor. With Talitha, I was perfectly healthy during labor.

    With Zianne, I was teaching two college classes. I found out at the last minute (literally the week of her due date), I would get a paid maternity leave and a substitute instructor for six weeks after she was born, but the whole semester was a scramble of emails and logistics regarding teaching. This time around I am ending my classes early and trying to finish my grading before the baby arrives. With Talitha, I was on summer break and had zero teaching responsibilities.

    And there is something that feels a bit novel about this pregnancy… like it did with my first. We are in a new state with a new doctor and a new hospital and without a huge network of friends and family around us. Even though it’s my third pregnancy, it’s my first California pregnancy and that feels a bit unknown. I have all those feelings of expectation and mystery right now, since I can’t really imagine what this labor will be like. With Talitha, we were at the same hospital with the same doctors and had tons of friends and family around to help us out before and after delivery.

    I have NO idea what the gender of this baby is… just like with Zianne. Part of me thinks it’s a girl. Part of me thinks it might be a boy. But, honestly, I really don’t know. With Talitha, we had an inkling she was a girl because the doctor’s found a pelvic cyst at the baby’s 20 week ultrasound. They didn’t divulge too many details to preserve our surprise, but we knew there was high chance it was an ovarian cyst and, therefore, she was a girl. I am thrilled to have no clue this time around!

    This is me. Just waiting… eager, intrigued, tired, filled with joy.

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    Maternity Photos

    I wasn’t planing to take maternity pictures this pregnancy. My friend captured some family photos for us on the beach this past November when my 18 week bump was just starting to protrude, and I figured that was good enough for documenting this pregnancy. The girls were smiling in those pictures, and I didn’t really want to risk another shoot at 30+ weeks pregnant where toddler meltdowns may occur.

    But then I slowly changed my mind…

    People ask if this is my last pregnancy, and the true answer is, “I don’t know.” When I see the veins running up and down my legs and feel the pain in my lower back and think about my age, my answer is, “Yes. This is my last one. Although I’ve had good pregnancies, I don’t know if I could handle another one. My body hurts.” But then I think about how I would love to have a big family and how the small cost of pregnancy doesn’t even compare to the treasured child that results from it. And I think about how God is ultimately in control of our fertility and child-bearing and child-raising and I change my answer to “Maybe… maybe we will have another biological child. Maybe we will adopt. Maybe we will just have three kids. I don’t really know.”

    One of my students is a really talented photographer, so I finally asked if she would take some maternity photos for me on the beach. At first, I was just going to do portraits of me and the bump while the girls were at school one day, but then I got a bad cold and had to postpone the pictures. They got pushed back to a Friday when the girls would be home from school, so I thought, “Why not include the whole family?” Then I had to convince Micah to hurry home before sunset and wear his work clothes on the beach with bare feet. At first he was skeptical (“People don’t wear dress slacks on the beach!”), but I showed him some “fancy” family beach shoots on Pinterest and persuaded him. I had the girls wear their pink Easter dresses. I am due on Easter weekend, so I wanted to make sure they got to wear their dresses at least once, just in case the baby is very prompt.

    The result? I love them. I am so happy I decided to do maternity photos. I’m glad I included the whole family. And I love that I have photos to document all three of my pregnancies, all taken around 33 weeks. Pregnancy is such a gift, and these photos will  help me treasure this season long after the back-pain and ugly veins have faded away.

    *If you are in Orange County and looking for an affordable, talented photographer, my amazing student Abby Sue is available. You can DM her on Instagram or send her a message on Facebook for more details.

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    Pregnancy (Baby #3)

    This is post three in a three-part series that documents each of my pregnancies. I wanted to capture my memories of these child-bearing years before they become too hazy in mind…

    Baby #3…

    Fancy clothes. People always pitied me for having summer pregnancies, but I always thought they were wrong. Your sisters were born in September and June in blazing Phoenix, but I happen to be a teacher who got to spend my largest, most uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy wearing casual cotton clothing over summer break. I always thought dressing up in formal work clothes in the middle of winter during the third trimester of pregnancy sounded far more complicated than sweating in a maxi dress. It turns out, I was right. I found out I was pregnant with you the week I started my job as a professor in the fall, and my spring classes are scheduled to end the week of my due date. From September until now, I’ve had to figure out how to dress the bump in professional clothes. To make things more complex, I have horrible varicose veins this pregnancy, so all short dresses and skirts are out the question. This makes about 80% of my maternity wardrobe from Arizona completely useless. Tomorrow, I am going to wear nylons for the first time since the 90s to see if I can pull off a knee-length maternity dress for work.

    Eggs. I thought I learned about nausea with Talitha, but I actually had no idea. You were my first baby to make me feel like many moms do during their first trimester. All-day queasiness and utter exhaustion. I remember carrying Talitha upstairs for her morning nap the first few weeks of pregnancy and having to lie down on my own bed afterward because I felt so fatigued. And for weeks I struggled with an ill-tempered stomach that could only be appeased by constant eating. I finally learned that I had to eat two breakfasts to feel good the rest of the day. My first meal was at home – a latte followed by cereal or a waffle with a banana or yogurt. The second meal was eggs. I know some people crave meat during pregnancy, but my protein of choice was eggs. All through the fall semester, I would stop for eggs before my first class of the day. Sometimes I would seek out the best local breakfast burrito on Yelp, but most mornings, I would just pull into the Starbucks down the street from work and order a bacon, gouda, egg breakfast sandwich. It was my $3.75 solution to pregnancy nausea. I actually cried on Election Day this past year, not because of the awful candidates, but because Starbucks ran out of my beloved sandwich on a morning when I was particularly hungry.

    Ocean. It’s too soon to be nostalgic, because we still live by the beach and you haven’t even arrived yet, but I’m pretty sure whenever I’m by the ocean, I’ll think of you. I learned I was pregnant just a few weeks before we moved to our beach house. I will always remember jogging slowly down the boardwalk during those first few months of pregnancy and hauling our laundry up and down the stairs with a giant bump. I’ll think of the ocean sunrises and sunsets that marked the passing months as you grew in my womb, and I hope whenever I smell the sand and the salt, I think fondly of you.

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