Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cherishing Now

Me with my darling men.
I'm at 35 weeks this week. Five more weeks. It's an amount of time that can be perceived two ways. On the one hand, it is a pretty short amount of time. You know, in the grand scheme of things or whatever. But when what seems like a fifteen pound baby is lodged up beneath your ribs; when it seems like absolutely no clothes fit; when your mind, body, emotions and husband are all under the attack of the hormones raging through you; well, in that case, five weeks is an eternity.

But about a week ago, I made a crucial, difficult decision: I will not wish away the next five weeks. That doesn't mean that I will never complain. Just ask Jason or see the above paragraph. But I am going to do my darnedest to enjoy and cherish the end of this pregnancy. I decided this for two main reasons. First of all, what else can I do? I mean, there is a choice involved here, as there always is in our attitudes. But having a 24 hour pity party won't make the baby be born any sooner. And of course, if I try to appreciate this time, not only will I feel happier, but so will Jason, Joshua and Noah.

The second reason for this decision is due to past experience. After having two babies, I know that the real work comes after the baby has arrived. It won't be so easy then to sit on the couch alone, listen to some of my favorite music, luxuriously write in my blog and eat spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry's in between paragraphs. Nope. Don't see it happening. So it only makes sense to relish in the present.

Mind you, I am not always successful at this. Take this past Sunday evening, for example. Come about 6:00 pm, I had done nothing to make the dinner I had planned. My blood sugar had tanked and the thought of making dinner just made me start crying. Seriously. This is no joke. Jason sweetly and graciously offered to cook, but as there was no recipe, I realized that it would take him approximately 500 years to prepare the dinner. And no, this eight month pregnant, hormonal and hungry lady could not have possibly been over-reacting, thank you very much. I needed to eat. Like immediately. Jason then very sweetly and graciously took our sons away from the crazy lady and purchased our meal from a nearby Wendy's. Smart man. I did apologize to him for my toddler behavior about a hundred times and then thanked him for getting dinner quickly at least another hundred.

Despite regular failures, I have come up with some fabulous ways to enjoy and appreciate the end of pregnancy. The Ben & Jerry's, for instance.

Another perk has been laughter. It seems that especially after about 8:00 at night when my mind isn't the clearest, it is pretty easy to get me going. I'm talking gut-wrenching, tears-rolling, nearly-peeing laughter. Jason and I watched Pirate Radio last night, which was surprisingly hysterical, and I definitely had to make the urgent, rushed trip from the couch to the bathroom. This has become almost a nightly trip. What's a little frightening is that right now, I'm not quick. I half run, half waddle down the hall while holding my very large, aching belly. One of these nights, I'm either going to go into labor or have an accident. We may just need to purchase a plastic slipcover for the couch.

Perk Number Two: Resting. Yes, I have become quite good at this. Or at least, I have gotten much better at knowing when I need to sit or lie down, when I need to just say no and at just lowering the standards of what has to get done. Our calendar has been been much emptier and I am thoroughly enjoying the slower pace. Not that I can move fast anyway. Last week, I took a long, luxurious bath. I've read a couple of books I've been meaning to. I regularly take naps and allow myself to sleep in until I'm ready to rise. I've even trained the boys to stay in bed until 8:00 and then quietly get up each morning. Again, not always a success but we've made progress.

That brings me to my most favorite perk that I've discovered about late pregnancy. Our sons. Told you it was surprising. Let me explain. When I was pregnant with Noah four years ago, Joshua was not even two for most of it. And he was sure giving Jason and I a run for our money. I was terrified. I could not even come close to controlling the little boy that I had. What was I going to do once we had another? This very seriously caused me a lot of stress and anxiety.

In the middle of a very impressive dance party in our living room.
But now, of course our sons are older. Joshua will be six next month, Noah four in May. They dress themselves. They speak clearly. While tantrums do occur, they are not even close to as frequent as they were four years ago. For six months after we potty trained Joshua, he threw a tantrum every single morning because we would make him go to the bathroom when he woke up. Also, for about a year, he would throw another tantrum every single morning because we would make him get dressed after breakfast. Good times. Really fun way to begin the day. Especially with the sleep deprivation that came with Noah's arrival.

But right now, the boys are even in a good phase. I say "phase" because next week they may have me pulling my hair out. You just never know. It is so much easier to joyfully, rather than anxiously, await the birth of another child when your other children are for the most part behaving nicely. Joshua especially seems like he has turned a corner. He regularly informs the family, "I'm happy." And he has developed a genuine, sweet concern, care and protection for me. Last week, on one of my very tired, achy days, he sincerely said, "I'm so sorry you don't feel good, Mom," and then gave me a hug. He's been very affectionate.
With the air guitar,  rubber spatula microphone and all.

Joshua is becoming quite the little rock star . . .

We have been surprised that if someone is giving us trouble, it is more likely to be Noah now. This is definitely a change in our home, but a natural one, as Noah is three and Joshua five. It is comforting to see our older son grow and mature. It makes us much more patient in handling Noah's often contrary attitude.

Noah riding on his new bike for the first time.
The BEST part of all of this is that I can talk about the baby's arrival with Joshua and Noah. This is a new element to pregnancy for me as Joshua was really too young to understand last time. The boys now enjoy talking to the baby, singing to the baby, discussing what life will be like with the baby and feeling the baby move. They already seem so loving. They love to include the baby in our family prayers each night and bless the baby with a cross drawn by their little thumbs over my tummy. The other day, Noah said adoringly, "The baby's so pretty. The baby will be so pretty." At dinner the other night, I explained to the boys that because they are so wonderful and we love them so much, it makes Daddy and I want to have more children. Joshua replied very thoughtfully, "Mom, God knows you want to have more babies."

These moments are magical to me. They make every kick in the liver worthwhile.

If you have made it all the way through this very long posting, I encourage you to enjoy whatever phase of life you are in now. Do not wish it away. It will pass soon enough. Every phase has challenges and joys. Find the joys.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Higher Than the Moon

Yesterday I walked to the store to buy more thank you notes. This is an indication of what my life has been like lately. Such problems I have, right?

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email to many friends and family letting them know that my doctor has asked me to rest and that we could use some extra help. The response has been nothing short of astounding. I am astounded.

We have had a constant procession of loved ones knocking on our door with gifts of delicious casseroles, time to babysit and offers to clean our home. I have never in all my life felt so spoiled, loved and supported. Such pampered treatment has caused a sense of guilt in me that I have had to consciously make an effort to suppress and invalidate: "This is not necessary. I'm fine. I should be bringing you dinner. I should be cleaning your house. I do not deserve or really need this."

At a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, the doctor gave me further direction to rest and was happy to hear we have had so much help. She expressed her concern for me to make it through the next four weeks without going into labor. So I guess this extra assistance isn't overindulgence after all. But there is still this sense of apprehension, an uneasiness that arises in me as I put my feet up on the couch while others make lunch for my sons or clean my toilet. I am greatly humbled.

I also have the nagging, persistent question in the back of my mind, "Am I this good of a friend, daughter, sister, wife, cousin, or niece?" I am not fishing for compliments here, but have genuinely wondered this. One of the most moving sentiments that now resides deep within me is an overwhelming desire to be there for those who need me. And not that I wish any bad will on those who I love, but in some ways I do hope for the opportunity to express my gratitude to others with more than just a thank you note. In other words, I will be there for all the loved ones in my life. I got your back.

These past weeks have been filled with so many highs. But unforgettable memories were made this past weekend with my darling Jason. My loving parents watched our boys for the entire weekend so that we could indulge in a "babymoon." Jason and I have not had a weekend together simply to relax in a long time. We have been able to get away many times in the past couples of years, but those weekends have all been very busy and full with Engaged Encounter weekends, Unit Board meetings and Conventions. And while we have loved those times very much and have come back from them renewed and inspired, they are a very different type of experience.

This past weekend, we lingered. We napped. We talked for hours without interruption. We rested. We relaxed. We reconnected and got to know each other better. We laughed till our bellies ached (and till I had to race to the bathroom). We made out. We slept in. We luxuriously enjoyed each other's company.

It was heaven. It was bliss. It was perfect.

In the past weeks, my heart has grown. I now love all of my loved ones all the more. Especially my darling companion, Jason.

And in eight weeks, I know my heart will have another growth spurt. How much love can one person hold?

Jason and I enjoying dinner at our favorite restaurant, El Gaucho.