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    I’m dreaming of my postpartum wardrobe…

    I am exactly one month away from my due date. I am getting ready to wear the same five maxi dresses each week for the next 4-5 weeks. My ankles are swollen. Veins are taking over my legs. And I cannot wait to wear normal clothes again. An hour of online browsing was my therapy today. To all other mothers in your final month of pregnancy, I salute you!

    These black skinny jeans on major sale…

    A cute maritime dress for spring…

    A funky, sophisticated striped dress

    A long, linen-blend cardigan that comes in so many fun colors…

    Another long cardigan at an even-lower price point…

    A gorgeous wool sweater that’s slightly out of my price range…

    Desperately need new casual flip-flops

    A fun textured tee

    Wanting to add a few new sweaters to my closet now that I don’t live in Arizona….

    Loving this cute scalloped tee

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    Saturday Snippets

    Trying out Artkive to save my kids’ art projects…

    Foam play mats that are aesthetically pleasing? Yes.

    Putting this book in Zianne’s Easter basket…

    And this book in on my adult reading list…

    This is a genius trick to keep in mind for parenting teenagers…

    Like a kid-friendly AirBnB

    This new TV option is intriguing…

    Some simple math on how to read more

    Don’t confuse self-care for service

    Because I needed 17 more books on my Amazon book list…

    The benefits of breastfeeding are endless…

    Only call it a Bible study if it is one…

    An excellent read on women’s discipleship and the church’s mission

    Interesting background on the refugee screening process in the USA…

    The effects of our phones on prayer

    Although people have different beliefs about abortion, we all know this truth

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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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