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I’m doing that thing where I keep myself up even though I’m physically beat and my body longs to melt into our heavenly little family bed…

I’m sitting in front of the computer, hands clasped, biting my knuckles. Listening to the dog whine in her kennel. And the Crowder channel on Pandora. And the crickets outside my window.

More talk, today, of the husband potentially being deployed. We will know if it’s for sure sometime soon. No idea where to, or when, or for how long, or how many people would go… And even if we did have an idea, it’s not like I could post it here. All we know for sure is that people from his unit are getting sent overseas. Yippee.

I guess I’m feeling a bit silly for believing that he would make it the last four years of his career without getting sent overseas. For the seventh time. I’m praying that this skips us, passes us over… I feel like Jesus before His crucifixion… So many times in the past few weeks I’ve found myself asking, “Father, if You can, please take this from us…” Ultimately, I want His will to be done. But I’m seriously hoping that His will does not include giving up my other half for any significant length of time.

What does this mean for baby making? I dunno. Still getting the IUD taken out… Still gonna start the lovenox injections as a precaution. Not sure, however, if we will actively TTC. Who knows… It doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.

I guess I’m having a difficult time with this because there’s no one I can really talk to about it. I want to talk to my mom, but she would just worry her little heart out and obsess over it. I told my dad a bit of what I’ve heard, and he says he will be praying for us. But really what I want to hear is that I don’t need to worry about it and that aliens came to earth from mars to eradicate terrorism so that the “good guys” who’ve invested years of their lives in this stupid war already can take a friggin break. I’m tired of it. I gave up my father for a year and a half while I was in high school to go play with camel spiders. Meanwhile, three of my friends gave up their fathers for the same reason around the same time. Except, forever.

I don’t want my son to be a Gold Star kid.

Yep, I’m selfish.

Am I a horrible person? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable of holding down the fort while he does his thing.

But Lord help me… If harm comes to this man, I will weasel my way into whatever country he was in, find the party responsible, and make someone’s day. One thing I learned in basic training – I have surprisingly good aim.

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I hesitate to put this into words, given how miserable I was during my last pregnancy, but I really want to maintain a positive outlook this time around. You know, maybe even be that ‘glowing’ pregnant woman who handles the whole ordeal with ease! I’m not gonna put too much pressure on myself to enjoy every minute of it, but I’m going to try to keep in mind that it may very well be the last time I experience pregnancy.

Thinking about the things I want to do differently the next time around brings up some unresolved issues with my birthing process. Please don’t judge me – I’m probably about to sound crazy here for a bit. But I think that part of the reason I experienced such a downward spiral of confusion and sadness after Kenneth was born had to do with how chaotic the whole process felt. I mean, we went to the hospital without a diaper bag, much less a car seat. We were not at all expecting to have him in our arms the very next day, and I just didn’t feel prepared. On top of that, he was severely jaundiced for a week after he was born, and six days later we were still in the hospital because he hadn’t had any bowel movements… Cue the pediatrician telling me I was going to brain damage my child if I didn’t give him formula.

It just wasn’t really a fun time, all-around.

But (and this is a deep dark secret) I think that what bothers me most and doesn’t sit right with me is how the actual birth itself went down. I experienced amnesia after the fact, for whatever reason – exhaustion? Stress? I really don’t know, and I’ve never asked a professional out of embarrassment. But I don’t remember the first few hours after giving birth… I remember the doctor telling me to stop pushing, watching him grab a scalpel and cut me open, and then I remember the doctor holding our baby up by the leg. He let out one little cry and then went silent, and my gut told me that that couldn’t be right. Then he was immediately taken away (somewhere behind me) for what, I don’t know. I kept asking, “Is he okay? Why isn’t he making any noise?” And no one would answer me. Finally, the nurse brought him to me and laid him on my chest. My arms were too weak to wrap around him or hold him, and my legs were so weak that I watched them shake as I kept my knees bent and my doctor stitched me back up.

And that’s where it ends…

At some point, our families came in and joined us, and we were taken to another room. But I don’t remember any of this, or recall how much time had elapsed or what I did to bond with my son. I remember the first nurse coming in once we’d been moved, and asking me how long it had been since our little guy had eaten. I told her that I wasn’t sure, and that it had probably been when we were still in the birthing suite. She was quite upset, as that had apparently been a few hours ago.

The hardest piece for me to stomach fell into place at my eight-week checkup. I told my doctor about the pain I’d experienced around the incision site when my husband and I had sex, and he asked me why he’d given me an episiotomy. I thought to myself, “What do you mean, why?” I had assumed it was related to the fact that I’d been pushing for two hours and his head had reached a point it just wasn’t going to fit through.

“I’m not really sure…” I replied.

“I only do one or two of those a year. And only if there’s an emergent situation,” he said.

My stomach sunk. Suddenly it made sense why, though he’d asked me maybe fifteen minutes earlier in my labor if I wanted baby brought straight to my chest, he was taken away after he made it out. Doc speculated that perhaps the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Whatever happened, I will probably never know…

It took me awhile to acknowledge that this combination of events truly saddened me, but in time I did… And I found peace knowing that if I faced those feelings, I would be able to close the gap between my baby and myself. All of these events supported the voice in my head telling me to be afraid. The one that didn’t believe I would ever be a mother – not after the “uncertainty” of the first trimester had passed, not after finding out his gender, not as I started to show… Not even as I went into labor. It never felt real, and the chaos surrounding his birth fed that fear that I would lose him.

In time, after much struggle and anxiety, it began to feel ‘real.’ I think at some point I realized that if I held my breath waiting for the bottom to drop out, I would miss out on so much. When I look back, that seems to be true for about the first month of his life. But after that, I began to embrace being his mother and sustaining another human life. I began to trust my body and heart and soul to do what they were created to do. And it was amazing… I’m so glad I decided not to let fear keep me from those precious moments.

Anyways.

These are the thoughts that plague my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep tonight. Things I hope are different the second time around. Hopefully this will be a non-issue, as I now have living proof that my body is indeed capable of creating a human being. 😛 Hopefully instead, I rock the entire pregnancy and childbirth with the confidence of someone who’s been there, done that. Hopefully I will have more faith in God’s plan.

But I can’t guarantee I won’t worry my heart out for the little being that will come. ❤

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And then there were four…

Well! Things between the hubs and I have been simmering on low for awhile now. We’ve been in counseling with someone who has really helped both of us. We are each separately seeking answers to questions of faith, and applying it to our lives. There haven’t been any MAJOR knock-down-drag-out fights like we had before (hyperbole, my loves! we have never put hands on one another) in quite some time. My trust in our relationship and its foundation has slowly been restored, and I feel in my gut that things are heading in the right direction.

With that said, I feel in my ovaries that I have a purpose to fulfill – make more babies! Baby fever started about three months after my dearest son was born. He grew so darned fast that I felt the newborn phase slipping through my fingers… At every doctor’s appointment, he was in the 97th percentile for height/weight, and I kept thinking, “My little baby is practically a little boy!” Indeed, at his six month check-up, he was the size of the average one-year-old.

I’ve also been experiencing some changes in my heart. Namely regarding our family, and what we want as far as children go. I have always said from the get-go that I would be happy if I never had a girl. My mother, as I was growing up, described to me every now and then how she felt a ‘connection’ and a ‘bond’ with her mom that compelled her to have a daughter of her own. I’ve never experienced this – not because I don’t have a great relationship with my mom. We are best friends, and despite the run-of-the-mill hiccups that occur in most interpersonal relationships, she is my rock. No, it’s fear that made me shutter at the thought of raising a darling little girl. Fear that she would turn out like me.

I was NOT an easy child to raise (did I mention I married a man nearly twice my age?! ‘Nuff said). I put my parents through hell. Absolute hell. Like, things I pray to God that my children will never put me through, male or female (and I’m not talking about my choice in spouse – they have grown to love him very much!). I’ve been afraid that, should I spawn a little girl, she would turn out much like me.

The past few months, that has slowly dissolved away and been replaced with peace. I can’t put my finger, exactly, on why. I think it has to do with several things. I’ve grown up quite a bit, and become much more confident in myself as an adult. I am secure in knowing that I am a person, now, that I would feel comfortable with a young woman looking up to.

I’ve also brought a lot of shame into the light from places in my soul that haven’t seen the light in years. It took hitting what I would consider ‘rock bottom,’ but I’m finally receiving healing. And, though I didn’t know it at the time, I think a lot of my fear stemmed from a suspicion that if I had a girl, she would be able to see through my exterior and know that deep down I was really not a good person at all. I think perhaps I projected that onto my (unborn) daughter because that was how I felt about myself.

It feels so good to know that, when I do finally have a daughter, I will believe the things I am teaching her for myself, as well: that she should always respect her body, that she is precious and cherished and beautiful, that she has so, SO much worth… It hurts for me to even verbalize this. I feel sad that I wasted so much time beating myself up… Hating myself, really. In fact, most of my energy went into destroying myself. To let go of that in this crazy, awkward, uncomfortable season of my life… Figuring out who I am as a person, as a wife, as a mother, and in God’s eyes… It is just. So. Awesome. Mostly I have realized that I am capable of so much more than I gave myself credit for, and I hope to continue to see this spirit grow in me exponentially.

BUT. Back to the point of this whole post… It’s been a few months since I started feeling my ovaries twitching, and after much deliberation and (on my part, at least) prayer, we have decided to start trying to get pregnant again! As you may have guessed, we are hoping for a girl this time, but I would certainly not be disappointed with another boy. I will just feel so blessed and lucky to have another baby, particularly if it happens as easily as it did the first time! (Only hopefully with less health issues for myself…)

Are we crazy? Probably! My family will certainly think so once we get that positive and, after the first trimester, start spreading the news! But when things are going well, why not take that momentum and run with it? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or… babies. Whichever.

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Crying it out.

EDIT: I just re-read this, and I realized I didn’t make this very clear – we never let Kenneth cry it out, which is why this particular episode was so painful for me! Please don’t think I’m promoting this practice in any way 🙂 Love on those babies, mamas!

Last night, as I was leaving the church parking lot, baby began screaming his lungs out and just would. Not. Stop. Even after I pulled over to feed him and comfort him, he continued to sob. I made it halfway home before I called my husband – “What do I do? Is there something wrong with him? Can you meet us somewhere?” I felt completely lost and, for the first time in a long time, like an inadequate mommy.

“Turn the music up,” he said. “He’ll be okay. He’s just tired, he’s had a long day. Don’t get anxious, that’ll only make it worse.” So that’s what I did. I listened to him bawl in his carseat, then to his little hiccups as he gave up screaming and his breaths steadied.  My heart rate began coming down, and I started thinking clearly again.

I wonder if this is what God feels like when he listens to me crying it out?

When I considered the last 24 hours, I knew that was exactly right. Yesterday, and the day before that, felt very much like a nightmare.

Things in our marriage had come to a tipping point.  I’ll spare you all of the ugly details, suffice it to say that both my husband and I felt hurt and that things were beyond salvaging.  I wasn’t convinced it was time to give up, and though in my heart things felt hopeless, I held onto this insane conviction that we weren’t brought together to be torn apart. He, on the other hand, was very much ready to walk away.

We went to two counselors yesterday, and at the second appointment, the counselor asked to speak to him alone. I took baby out to the lobby, and we played and giggled and laughed. But the nagging feeling that my future was hanging in the balance swept over me each time I glanced at the clock. An hour passed. An hour and ten minutes. Fifteen. Twenty. Finally, the door opened. We discussed continuing counseling, then returned to the lobby and made separate appointments for ourselves.

I don’t know what was said behind those doors, but when we got out to the parking lot, my husband spoke to me. I don’t even remember what he said to me at that point. I just remember the kindness and compassion in his voice that I’d been longing to hear since the very beginning of us. He had hope again.

Have you ever felt relief in every bone of your body? When baby finally stopped crying last night, I felt it all at once. I’m just so glad that when my life feels like a nightmare, and when I can’t imagine that anything good could possibly come out of the wreckage, and when I can do nothing but cry it out…

God is not inadequate. He knows exactly what I need. He’s walked this earth, and knows exactly how I feel. He’s powerful enough to mend my brokenness. And merciful enough to wrap his healing arms around me.

When I question my faith, and question if my God is truly bigger than THIS, whatever ‘this’ may be, he never fails to amaze me. Yesterday, after my husband and I took a step in the same direction for the first time in, well, what seems like forever, I was overwhelmingly amazed. And relieved. And so, so thankful.

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Who I am vs. who I’m “supposed” to be.

So. It finally happened.

I was on the phone, today, with a deceptively-kind-sounding salesman, when he said something that revealed the wolf beneath his sheep’s clothing.  He asked me what I ‘do,’ and I replied that I’m a stay-at-home-mom. This guy replies, “Ah, one of those ‘domestic engineers,’ eh? I laughed for about 15 minutes the first time I heard that one!”

Wait.

15 minutes? It’s not that funny. And not all that far from the truth.

Perhaps I was already on edge after reading an article that an acquaintance posted on the lovely Facebook (if you must read it, you can find it here). The gist of said article is that women who choose not to chase after a career for fulfillment are inferior to women who do.

Say what?! Oh no, she didn’t! (But yeah, she really, really did.)

So here’s this poor guy who’s just said exactly the wrong thing to me at exactly the wrong time. Only, I’ve never been faced with this situation before and never even considered how I would handle it because it wasn’t until reading this stupid article that I realized people actually still feel this way.

What a slap in the face. First, some lady writes some obnoxious article arguing that the role I chose to take on in my family contributes nothing to society, and then this guy, this stranger whom I have never spoken with before, laughs at the term ‘domestic engineer,’ as if to say, “Why on earth would you compare something that doesn’t require a college degree to something that someone without a college degree couldn’t possibly have the aptitude to understand?”

Wait, wait, wait… Let me give you some background information.

I got my discharge papers in the mail yesterday. My attempt to go back to school courtesy of the United States Army collapsed around me in the wake of a surprise pregnancy.  And BAM: the unspoken-of, not-so-happy ending to that story arrives yesterday via certified mail.  I am no longer a member of the military. My bonus? Gone. My GI Bill? Nope. That 97 I scored on the ASVAB? Doesn’t. Mean. Shit.

So the message that I’m some sort of failure isn’t just coming from all around me.

If I’m 100% honest, it’s coming from within me, too.

I am so disappointed in myself.  I am such an intelligent woman… I have test scores out the wazoo to prove it. So why the hell can’t I finish anything I start? Why can’t I be that person who powers through college and walks away with a diploma to show for it?

The truth is, it just doesn’t matter enough to me… And the reward isn’t worth the risk. What I’m afraid of (and I think many men and women of my generation can relate) is taking out loans, investing four to six years of my time, doing everything everyone has told me I “need” to do to get ahead – and coming out with a job that pays just over minimum wage. Or, worse, not being able to find a job at all.

There are five or six things I think I would enjoy doing, but the only thing I have ever known I needed to do, the only thing I’ve ever felt called to do, was to be a mother.  I know I’m capable of graduating college.  I just can’t bring myself to give so much to something that matters so little to me. I’ve never been a career-minded person. I’ve always felt most alive with family.

I don’t know that I need to justify this to anyone else. After feeling angry over the whole deal for a couple of hours, I decided Ms. Amy Glass and Mr. Salesman-guy can suck it.

Sadly, I do feel like I need to justify it to myself.

So:

Dear Lindsay,

You are doing something so very worthwhile.  If you need a reminder, just look at the man who’s closest to you – look at the hurt he’s suffered at the hands of a woman who should have made sure he only ever knew what it felt like to be loved.  This world needs more mommies.  Its children need hugs when they’re afraid. They need someone to take their picture, so they know they’re worth remembering. Someone who will stop anything she is doing at any time to make whatever is wrong, right. They need someone to accept them just as they are, wherever they may be. They need to know that, yes, they can make mistakes, and yes, they are still worth loving. Someone in their lives has to take the time to create opportunities for memory-making. Someone has to perfect the art of making a house a home. Someone has to be patient enough to recognize that even though all of the little things she’s doing can sometimes feel like ‘nothing,’ together they add up to something really, really important…

…Love.

I know that sometimes you feel like no one sees the things that you do. No one recognizes the value in the person who washes the dishes and does the laundry and makes the beds and cooks the meals. No one sees the sacrifices you make for your mission, your goal.

But God does.

Please know that everything He’s brought you through up until this point has prepared you for this, and you will not fail. This is what you were created to do. Sometimes you wish you were one of ‘those’ people, and that’s okay. Go ahead and let yourself feel that way if you must. But after you’ve felt it, let it go. You are right where you need to be.

Maybe the people you’ve loved will, one day, recognize just how much of yourself you’ve given. But probably, they will never fully understand.  And that’s okay, too. What you are doing has a forever impact. An eternal impact. For now, make peace with not always being able to see the big picture. And quit trying to change your ‘stripes.’ You are more than enough.

Hugs and kisses,

Me

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Kick me, baby, one more time!

Today, I am a proud mama! Last night, I was watching American Idol with my mother, lying on my back with my palm on the bump just below my bellybutton.  Candice Glover was singing a song by The Cure, and my Tiny Dancer must have loved her voice, because I felt the teensiest little ‘thump’ on my hand! Twice! So of course, I promptly freaked out, and grabbed my mom’s hand, and she felt it, too.  By then, I was in tears, and my heart was racing, because in one single moment I realized that all of the mood swings, and breakouts, and morning sickness, and looking like I’ve eaten one too many cheeseburgers, and the constant fear that I will lose this one, too – it was worth it. There is, in fact, a baby in there, and it’s strong enough to kick my belly!

No, my fear won’t go away until I have a living, breathing, healthy baby in my arms. In fact, as all of this was going on, I had to push the thought out of my mind that maybe Baby is allergic to the peanuts in my Peanut Buster Parfait.  But, as I’ve learned, God has His hand in everything.  It’s out of my hands and, thankfully, into those of One much more competent than I.  All I can do is love my child with everything that I am.  And pray.

…And maybe lay off the Peanut Buster Parfaits.

Parting words of wisdom: Storms have a way of teaching what nothing else can.