Thursday, August 22, 2013

One More Month!

My due date is officially one month from today! I can hardly believe that in about a month, there will be a whole new little person here. I am getting SO excited and can't wait to meet him or her!

We spent this past weekend at Port Ludlow with our dear friends, Mike and Jenny. It was a wonderful five days that went by much too fast. Mostly we just relaxed and talked as the children played, spent time at the beach, played games and ate yummy food. It was a great last hurrah for our summer.
Towards the end of this trip, I was pleased to realize that the anxiety I was feeling at the end of our Chelan trip has been replaced with the excitement that I usually feel at this time of year. Only this year, I get to experience my favorite months with our new baby!

While I knew that we wouldn't complete my very large list on the refrigerator, we have made a nice dent in it. While the new bedroom downstairs isn't complete, the boys are now sleeping in it. This made it possible for Veronica to begin sleeping in her new room and opened up the nursery for the baby. The transition has gone very smoothly and will make bringing the baby home much easier. This alone brought my anxiety level way down.

But even moreso than changing bedrooms, changing my attitude helped tremendously. Before we had decided to move the boys downstairs even though the room wasn't complete, I had relaxed. I came to the point of realizing that the baby will come just fine no matter how many items on the list had been crossed out. It won't matter. But I will still try to complete a few more things before the baby arrives :)

The next month will be quite full. My brother Jeremy's wedding is one week from this Saturday. I will be a bridesmaid, Veronica a flower girl and both Joshua and Noah ring bearers. While I am a bit nervous about being a bridesmaid at eight months pregnant, we are overjoyed to be be welcoming his fiance Alicia into the family. And thank goodness for maternity bridesmaid dresses!

We will also be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We weren't planning on doing much as we celebrated early for a whole weekend in May. However, Mike and Jenny surprised us by so generously offering to watch our kiddos for the night! I'm not sure yet what we will do that evening, but I am so excited to have the evening to celebrate.

Our homeschool year begins Tuesday, September 3rd. My hope is to get a few very productive weeks of the school year complete before the baby comes. I can't believe that the school year is beginning in just less than two weeks! Craziness! This summer has flown by.

All of this will be happening in the company of my abundant late pregnancy hormones. It seems that especially when I am tired which can be quite often, I cry at the drop of a hat. Poor Jason is becoming quite practiced at comforting his crying wife. Thank goodness he is so understanding and doesn't seem to mind.

While late pregnancy can be very difficult in a lot of ways, I will be trying not to wish it away. Yesterday Jason and I were able to go out to lunch together. As we walked along holding hands, he mentioned that many people were looking at me and smiling, something I hadn't noticed. It was a good reminder of the miracle that is happening inside of me. When a stranger sees me, they don't see the varicose veins or the extra junk in my trunk. They see the miracle.

Despite the terrible heartburn, the lack of sleep and comfort, the raging hormones and feeling like an enormous whale, there is a new life growing in me. And while I've always known and believed that  all of the pain and frustrations of pregnancy are well worth it, that can be hard to remember in the midst of everything. It can be hard to remember why I'm doing all of this. I read recently that there is no vacation from your vocation. This is such a simple, but profound and very helpful sentence for me to remember.

This is my vocation. Living each day at Jason's side as his wife, learning to love him better, mothering our children, carrying our fourth child and bringing that new life into the world - this is why God  put me on this earth.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So Many Questions

Tonight's dinner conversation was one not to be forgotten.

During our prayers, I prayed for the rest of the pregnancy to go well, for the baby to be healthy and for the delivery to go well.

Before we could even finish the sign of the cross, Noah asked, "What's the delivery?"

Our boys have asked surprisingly few questions about babies and that has been just fine with me. I have been told that little girls start asking questions about families at a younger age, so I guess we will have to be prepared for that.

We have told the boys the stories of their births many times. In doing so, we have explained that Joshua was taken out of my stomach by c-section where the doctor surgically removes the baby. We have then said that in Noah and Veronica's case, the doctor helped me push the baby out. We ended our explanation there.

To answer Noah's question tonight, I replied, "It's when the doctor helps me push the baby out." The boys both recalled the stories of their births and we again reviewed that during a c-section, the mommy's stomach is cut open and the doctor pulls the baby out whereas in a regular delivery, the doctor helps the mommy push the baby out.

And then came the all-important question again from Noah . . .

"Out of what?"

Despite all of the build-up to this moment, I was still unprepared and didn't see it coming. We have always just been able to leave it at that. Mommy pushes the baby out. My instinct response was to smirk and glance at Jason with very wide eyes. Immediately, the boys knew they were onto an interesting topic.

I responded, "Where do you think it comes out?"

"We don't know. That's why we're asking," Joshua replied, in a tone that said this was a very stupid question.

Noah began guessing, giggling at each possibility. He pointed to his nose. His mouth. His ears. No, no, no.

Finally, I answered, "When a baby is born, the mommy pushes it out of her vagina."


"What's a vagina?" asked Noah, surprising me.

I asked Joshua is he knew. He said no. Now, I know we've covered this before. But as they have been so disinterested in the topic, I guess they forgot this anatomy lesson.

I answered, "A woman's private area."

Noah pointed to his chest and asked, "Here?"

Wow. I guess the anatomy lesson really didn't stick.

"No, the other one." Joshua understood. Noah looked confused.

I explained further, "Women have two private areas. Here," I said as I motioned in front of my chest, "And here," I said as I motioned down below. A lightbulb went on, quickly followed by more confusion.

I then explained how women had multiple openings down there and what each was for. I explained that the opening which the baby comes out of is usually very small, but when it's time for the baby to come out, it grows. I then explained the process of labor.

"Does it hurt?" asked the very inquisitive Noah. I almost answered, "Your damn right it hurts! It hurts like frickin hell!" But I thought that may be inappropriate.

So rather, I just said, "Yes, it hurts. But the doctor will give me some medicine to help with the pain."

I then had the foresight to explain what it means if a woman's water breaks. My labor has begun with my water breaking twice - with both Joshua and Noah's births. I am glad that they are prepared for the possibility of this so that if it happens, it doesn't totally freak them out.

The conversation then turned to other things. Thank goodness. It went very well, but I was relieved that we did not go on to be asked how a baby gets into the uterus in the first place! Phew!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Where the Red Fern Grows

A memory to cherish . . . Spending the summer of 2013 reading Where the Red Fern Grows with Joshua and Noah.

I still remember my teacher reading this book to us at lunch time each day during seventh grade. The story was so moving and I loved it so much. Since then, I've always wanted a hound dog. As she read the surprisingly sad ending, I recall as I fought back the embarrassing tears that were filling my eyes, goosebumps and sweat appeared on my skin and my whole body shivered. It was one of the first times that I had heard a story that didn't end happily. It touched my heart.

Joshua and Noah have loved this book as much as I did. They have listened with their eyes and ears wide open, so intently. They too were shocked to find out that not all stories have a happy ending.

As I discussed the book with them afterwards, they expressed some of the emotions they had felt and which parts had surprised them. Noah, my dear, sweet, soulful boy, buried his head into my chest and cried. His tears brought back on my tears and for a minute we cried together.

In a strange way, I felt proud of him. Proud that he feels things so strongly. Proud that he loves so deeply, even characters in a book.

How blessed I am to witness these children grow up.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Growing in Generosity

Many times throughout this pregnancy, both Jason and I have been asked again and again how many children we plan on having. Thankfully, we both believe that for the most part, this question has been asked with a sentiment of genuine curiosity, love, support and encouragement, not judgment.

When we first became pregnant, I was defensive. I was ready for an ongoing attack of questions and comments, implying that we were overpopulating the world, that we were overextending ourselves, that we were crazy Catholics who were obviously practicing the "rhythm method" of birth control (very different from today's NFP) and failing at it. Did we even know what kept causing this?

To my surprise and relief, this has not been the case at all. We have been so encouraged by our friends and family and even those who don't know us. Sometimes someone will ask me if this is my first baby, a question that I love but inevitably makes me laugh. Of course, they are very surprised when I answer, "No, it's our fourth!" Now perhaps y'all are simply hiding your disapproval and whispering behind our backs about those crazy Burdullis', but that's just fine with me. If that's the case, I appreciate you keeping it to yourselves. But really, I don't think that's the case as our community has given us much support and love.

Last night, I couldn't sleep. I was hot, uncomfortable, miserable, frustrated, exhausted and angry that I'd been awake for two hours. As I laid on the couch, the baby began to move; a not so gentle reminder as to what all of this is for. I was reminded of Father Brad's homily from last weekend. In it, he speaks of generosity and quotes Father Ronald Rolheiser:
If we . . .would always wait until life was given to us as gift, as opposed to taking it as if by right, seizing it, plundering it, we would never break a single commandment. Moreover, we would have in our lives the first and most important virtue of all: the sense that all is gift, including life itself. Everything should have to be asked for and nothing should be taken, as if it was ours by right.
Father Brad reflected further and said, "The Gospel is recommending, or even stronger demanding, an attitude of reception and generosity . . . If we are supposed to receive everything as a gift, then life is a gift, breath is a gift, our body is a gift, friendship is a gift, our talents are gifts, our toothbrush is a gift . . . "

As I struggle with feeling frustrated by the discomforts of late pregnancy, this philosophy challenges me. I can often battle a sense of entitlement, rather than cultivating this attitude of reception. I think we tend to focus on external things when it comes to gratitude; hopefully our homes, our families, our friends, our food. But at the same time that we feel grateful for these things, do we not also feel entitled to them? And if we do, are we sincerely grateful?

What about our bodies? Our breath? What about our health? What about physical comfort? Are we grateful for these things? Do we feel entitled to them?

Today a new friend shared with me the experience of her first pregnancy, which included so many complications, including preeclampsia. This was a reminder of how relatively easy my pregnancies have been. Furthermore, this friend went on to become pregnant again, knowing that she may have to go through the same complications again. Fortunately, she didn't.

When frustrated by the discomforts of pregnancy, especially in the middle of the night or when I wake up with a terrible headache due to my lack of rest, I can really wallow in self pity. Why is this happening? Don't I deserve a good night's sleep? How am I supposed to function, be productive, be a kind and patient mother and a loving wife when my body aches and I am so tired?

This attitude very much opposes the one of reception and generosity that Father Brad is speaking of. When I think this way, I am forgetting that a good night's sleep is a gift, that physical health, well-being and comfort is a gift. Furthermore, I am forgetting the gift that is growing inside of me. I am experiencing these discomforts for a wonderful reason, one that I hoped and prayed for. Many people suffer from insomnia, from discomfort, from pain, from illness. They do not deserve these things any more than I. And in many cases, there isn't a happy reason behind their trials such as a new baby on the way and they have to accept their suffering anyway.

I remember listening to an interview of a woman who had lost her husband and two children in a tragic car accident. When asked how she dealt with the question of why this happened to her and her family, her response was, "Why not me?" Despite the awful experience this woman had been through, she was able to keep in mind that no one is entitled to a life without suffering, no one is above the pain and heartache that countless others have gone through.

As a Christian, I am called to strive to live like Jesus. Jesus sacrificed His body, His life for us. And even though He was the Son of God, He did not feel entitled even to His own life. He accepted His suffering and His death because it was part of God's will.

I have always known in my heart that it was God's will for me to be a mother of a large family. While I feel abundantly joyful and blessed to be able to live out this calling, I also have to accept its inconveniences, frustrations, pains and sorrows. I can strive to do this in the spirit of Jesus. I can accept these things as they are part of God's will.

How many children will we have? I don't know. With all of the discomforts of pregnancy, it is easy right now for me to say, "We're done." But with this attitude, I am not keeping that attitude of generosity, being generous both in heart and in body. I wouldn't decide not to have another baby only because I didn't want to go through these discomforts again, if I thought it was God's will for us to bring another life into the world. Besides, if I know myself, this feeling of being done will subside as this new baby grows into a toddler. On the other hand, I also wouldn't decide to have another baby only because I wanted to experience babyhood again if I didn't think it was God's will.

I feel like in saying this, I am making it sound like we are going to have ten more kids. Because when is God really not going to want another one of His children in the world, right? But that's not what I'm saying at all and I think it is much more complicated than that. For us, many factors will be considered when trying to determine God's will for such a large decision. We don't believe that God wants us to overextend ourselves--financially, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. I have to keep in mind how many children I think I can educate well. At the same time, we believe that God will give us all that we need in order to live out His will.

We are not yet ready to decide how many children we will have. Really, we will just take it one baby at a time. And then, we will strive to make that decision by discerning God's will. Our prayer will be that God makes it very clear what His plan is for our family.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Big Girl Bed

Veronica's first night in a big girl bed. No more crib. This brings tears to my eyes. A few weeks ago, I realized that we have a couple more months before she is 2 1/2. Thank goodness. I want this precious angel to be two for as long as possible. Not a day goes by that she doesn't make me laugh, feel joy or feel the strings of my heart be pulled as I witness what a big heart she has. No longer a baby, but a little girl.

I can't help but be sad to have time slipping away. I try to focus not on the time that's gone by in such a rush, but on the future I will have with her--watching her grow, having more conversations with her, God willing witnessing her turn into a big girl, a teenager, a young woman, maybe a wife, a mother. I look forward to those things.

And of course seeing her become a big sister next month. As I feel the inevitable sadness that goes along with watching your children become older, I am so blessed by the comfort of knowing that another babe is on the way. Not too far now. About another six weeks. I pray for a healthy baby and a shorter labor :) And for God's grace to live out His will and His glory as I mother four children.

Another baby. Another blessing. May this road the Lord has set me on be all for His glory.