Friday, July 18, 2014

To My Sweet Sam

Dear Sam,

Today I really saw your face for the first time, and it brought tears to my eyes. You look exactly like your older brother and sister. Your cheeks are so chunky and your lips so kissable that I've looked at your picture at least 20 times since I left the doctor's office a few hours ago.

I was alone for my appointment this morning and I thought about a lot of things on my way. This was my first visit back to the hospital where you will be born in over 2.5 years. It is a place where I have experienced the very worst and the very best moments of my life. Having you seems like the best ending I could think of to a long and winding road. As we passed by the main building, I said a prayer for every mama, daddy and baby who sat inside, especially those who are sick and afraid.

You father and I know what it is to feel sick with fear, but we also know what it is to be filled with great joy. You, Sam, are a great joy. You have given me such a gift with this pregnancy. I felt bad for a while, thinking I wasn't concentrating on you as much as I did when I was pregnant with your brother and sister, but I've realized that is actually the beauty of it. I have so enjoyed being pregnant with you, sweet boy. The only thoughts I've had have been happy ones in between the chaos of life, we have had so much fun together already. We vacationed with some of my oldest and best friends and watched your uncle get married, we've spent countless hours at the beach and chasing after your sister. Being pregnant with you has allowed me to be more ME than I've been able to be before.

Because you are the third born, have a bossy older sister, are a boy...all of these are reasons I may not remember to tell you how much you were wanted. Over a year ago, I prayed hard for a little boy. One morning I opened up my Bible and read a verse that said "you will have a son"....I felt something settle in my heart at that moment. I knew that one day you would come.

Months later, when I had given up all hope of your arrival that month, a rainbow appeared and once again something settled in my heart. You were coming.

And now we have a date. On August 5th you will be here, and I will hold the final piece of my heart that I will put out into this world in my arms. You were a son of God even before you were given to me, sweet Sam.

All of my love,
Your Mama





Monday, July 7, 2014

35 Weeks

35 weeks is a big one for me. I gave birth to Rip at 34 weeks and 5 days, so with Gracie and now with Sam hitting this milestone feels like an accomplishment to be recognized.

This pregnancy in general has been so different for me. Everything thus far has gone according to plan, I feel good and there is no reason to think my delivery will be anything other than standard (well, as standard as a third c-section can be). I keep wondering what would be different if this was my first pregnancy, if I didn't know having a child could be any other way. A lot of things probably...I would be a different kind of mother, wife, person...in good ways and in bad.

I have prayed a lot about finding peace in accepting that this will be my last pregnancy- my body (not to mention  my husband) is telling me three babies in 3.5 years is enough. I prayed to find peace with feeling finished with this stage in my life. Its a hard thing for anyone, and I think I could probably keep going trying to "complete" our little family, but deep down I know we are complete and this is what is best for all of us. Two boys and a girl is more than many, and I am very thankful.

I am also extremely grateful to have experienced pregnancy this way- I think having my first "normal" pregnancy makes it much easier to call this the last. I would be lying if I said writing this was not hard, that in my head I am not thinking what if something happens between now and delivery, or something is discovered when he is born, but I don't feel that it will. This pregnancy has carried with it a sense of well-being that I've never experienced before.

I don't have any new stats on Baby Sam, my next ultrasound is July 18th and we will schedule the section date that day...I really can't believe I am having a baby in less than a month! At my regular appointments I have been measuring perfectly and Sam's movements in my belly are consistent and reassuring (albeit a little more so a night, which makes me think my days of any kind of sleep are very, very numbered).

By this point with both Rip and Gracie I had reached puffer-fish proportions on all parts of my body but, miraculously, that has not happened yet with Sam. My belly is MUCH bigger than ever before, but everything else seems to be only slightly lumpish. My wedding rings are still on, which is nothing short of amazing based on my previous "man-hand" pregnancy experiences.

This is an especially good thing this time around, as I will be traveling 6 hours to my brother's wedding this weekend. At 36 weeks pregnant. And, God Bless 'Em, my brother and his sweet, adorable fiancé have asked both Gracie and I to be in the wedding. So we can all just say a prayer that I can waddle myself and my meltdown prone two-year-old down the aisle. Preferably without going into labor.

But here's the thing- the fact that I can actually go to Knoxville, be in a wedding, and look forward to a fun time with family at 36 weeks pregnant absolutely astonishes me. Like I said, I am extremely thankful and more than a little amazed by this "normal" pregnancy. Not quite as thankful that I will be the one with the spreading nose in all of the wedding pictures, but its all about perspective, isn't it?

More and more excitement is building to get this baby in my hands. I can't wait to see if he looks like his brother and sister, if he is calm or feisty (please Lord, I love my feisty girl but calm sounds so nice), how much he will weigh, what his birth story will be...as I've said, the name Samuel means "asked of God". Once again, it is truly for this child I've prayed, and I just can't wait (well, I can wait at least another three weeks) to meet him.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Just a Moment

One thing I worried about, even before Gracie was born, was how to share Rip with our other children.

Up to this point, we had not shared much about him with Gracie...not on purpose, but anyone who has ever dealt with a child age 0-2 can attest to the fact that there are not many deep conversations being held, with the child or anybody else for that matter.

Parke and I talk about him, obviously I talk about him all over the World Wide Web, we have pictures of Rip in our house- but I wasn't sure how to introduce him to Gracie.

As I have said a million times, my biggest desire is for Rip's life to be viewed as a good thing, the blessing it is to our family. I didn't want Gracie to associate her big brother with fear or sadness. I wanted her to be an age where she could understand what I was saying at the most basic level, without knowing enough to be afraid, hoping that as she gets older and understands more, Rip will be normal thing in her life.

I've been praying a lot to know when the time was right to tell her about her brother, and praying for the right words to do so.

The other night it just kind of happened. Gracie was on my bed and pulled out my Bible- pictures of Rip fell out on the bed.

I watched as she picked one up and stayed very still, staring at a picture of her brother for what seemed like a very long time.

I felt so many things in that moment- immeasurable loss, memories of everything happening in that picture, thankfulness for these children that takes my breath away.

I sat with a million thoughts racing through my head and tears pricking in my eyes and watched as she picked up one picture after another, studying them very hard.

Eventually, I said,"that's Baby Rip. He is your big brother and lives in Heaven with God. He looks out for you every day."

She repeated me and went back to studying his pictures. Then, with a smile, she stacked the pictures and put them back in the Bible and said "let's do our colors!" (Her new favorite game, naming the colors of everything in the room)

Just like that, it was over. I know we will have many more conversations about Rip in our family, but I was so thankful for that one. It was just a moment, but one I know I will remember for the rest of my life.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

At the end of the day

At the end of the day
Lord, I pray,
For a life that's good

There was a brief moment this morning when she sat still in my lap

I closed my eyes and felt how smooth her skin and hair were against my cheek

I smelled her toddler smell, a mix of peanut butter and lavender scented baby wash with a little bit of something that is just her

I watched her chubby hand absentmindedly stroke my arm

I felt her sink in just a little bit deeper, and I knew she felt safe

Even with her own opinions getting stronger every day, in that moment it was not at all hard to imagine that she was once part of me

Her breath matching mine, there are still times when she feels like an extension of my body

Today we will have 450 tantrums

We will argue over what shoes she will wear, what clothes she will wear, and the seemingly never-ending issue of the potty

I will wait on her to move painfully slowly to the car when we have fine minutes to be somewhere

I am sure, at some point, I will count the minutes until this little dictator falls asleep

But when the day is done, this is the moment I will remember

At the end of the day,
Lord, I pray,
For a life that's good

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

No News is Good News

I have the tendency to stop writing when things are good- which is a shame, because someday my kids might read this and think "Good Lord Woman, get a grip"...but basically writing is my therapy when things get overwhelming and need to get all the stress and fear out of my system in a "healthy" way (this of course, is in addition to eating chocolate and drinking wine).

So...I am 30 weeks (almost 31) pregnant and haven't written in a while....which is great news! It means that "Baby Sam", as he is known at our house, is doing great.

Because no pregnancy would be complete in our family without some drama, there was concern up until 28 weeks that there may have been a placenta issue. So help me, if I never hear the word placenta again it may be too soon. I went in for the ultrasound and they were able to tell me they could see absolutely nothing of concern. I made them say it several times. It was a really good day. We ate french fries in celebration.

Sam is currently in the 41st percentile, which has Parke all in a tizzy trying to get him bigger by making me eat way more than is advisable. I keep trying to tell him my eating a ton is not going to affect the baby overall, but honestly I'm not arguing that hard. TCBY four nights a week? Yes, please.

So far no swelling, I was BAD right before I had Gracie, so I am hoping to continue the trend of no man hands. Still wearing wedding rings which is also a first for me this late in the game. I am much bigger than I was with either of the other two, at least in the stomach. I tried to take a picture in the bathroom mirror the other day and I could not get my whole belly to fit. My stomach muscles are all- "Pffff, third time around, we surrender". We have two full months left. You may just find me submerged in water like a manatee come July.

For now, Gracie is thrilled about "her Baby Sam", while having absolutely no idea how this is going to turn her little life upside down. Of course I worry about that some, but I see siblings running around chasing each other on the beach and I am so excited for her to have that. I would be lying if I didn't admit to thinking about "what could have been" in those moments, but I am also very excited about what will be. Gracie alternately kisses my belly and gives it a good smack, which I think will probably be about what we can expect when Sam arrives.

I've had a lot of peace during this pregnancy. Even when they were telling me there could be issues, I just didn't feel the stress and fear I always have before. People will believe what they want to believe, but I feel Rip's presence in that peace. I don't know that I could ever feel peace without something in my bones continually telling me that he is okay.

So my babies are good. We are good. No news is very good news.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fear and Facebook

Like most people I know, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Sometimes, though, mine is more of a love/fear relationship.

More and more, I see stories of children who are sick or dying showing up on my feed. There are desperate pleas from family members to pray, pray, pray for these precious little people. I don't blame them one single bit- had I the presence of mind to do so at the time, Rip's story would have been broadcast over social media site imaginable. Your child is in trouble and you reach out to every conceivable source for help.

The thing is, I click on every single story I see about these babies. And I know what I'm doing, deep down I'm thinking that if I read them, if I pray for them, I can somehow stop whatever scary thing it might be from happening to us. Its selfish. And, of all people, I know this is not true. I read every single thing I could get my hands on about vasa previa and premature babies when I got my diagnosis with Rip. In the end, I couldn't stop what happened.

I truly believe in a sovereign God, a God who does not make mistakes, but somehow that doesn't stop me from being so very afraid. I look at Gracie, or feel Sam kick, and then I read something about another child- and with Facebook, it is often someone I know through a few degrees of separation- and it all seems so out of control.

And I know, its FACEBOOK, for heaven's sakes- its not like someone is forcing me to be there. But I can't quite convince myself to stay away.

I'm not sure that there is much of a point to this post, more just cathartic writing on my part. In the end, I know that I don't want to pass along a legacy of fear to my children. I know that I need to start seeing things for what they are, to live outside of me head. I know there are parents out there who need prayers right now, and not in some imagined future. And I know neither fear nor Facebook is where I need to be looking for answers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

All things bright and beautiful

I knew I wasn't going to be good at this weekly pregnancy update thing.

Oh well. Monthly works, too.

Sweet Sam is now 25 weeks! Which, as any pregnant woman knows, is a big deal. 24 weeks marks the "viability" point...I don't want to see a hair on the kid's cute head before 38 weeks, but making it past 24 weeks still feels like an accomplishment.

Also, I say "sweet" Sam, but I am beginning to have my doubts. You know a while back, when I said this was my calm, relaxed baby? Turns out I have an anterior placenta, which was cushioning most of those early movements. My easy-going babe has transitioned into a stealthy ninja, delivering mighty blows to the bladder in the dark of night. Don't get me wrong, I love every single movement this kid makes...its just my visions of a calm baby sitting wide-eyed in my lap while his sister runs around us in circles is beginning to fade a bit.

As for pregnancy symptoms, I am now officially in the honeymoon stage of pregnancy- past the green, greasy mess of the first trimester (and a half) and not yet the swollen, emotional mess I  will inevitably become. I am trying to get in a walk most days, loving the warm weather and maxi dresses it affords me, and generally eating everything in sight. I've heard that sometimes nausea returns in the last trimester, so I feel I should really try to stock up on my food intake just in case. I mean, that's never happened to me before, but better safe than sorry, right?

Latest cravings- ice cream and popsicles. Trader Joes has these Caribbean fruit popsicles that are almost as good a having a pina colada. Almost.

Also loving, the BEACH. We pretty much live out there on the weekends and it is the perfect free entertainment for Miss Priss. Gracie wears herself out screaming and running from waves, while Big Mama sits her fanny in a chair and makes countless drip castles. Perfection.

All things bright and beautiful is the phrase that keeps running through my head. This is just a sweet time in our lives, and I am beyond thankful for it. Good times tend to make me nervous, but I am very un-Anne-like calm these days, another thing that I am beyond thankful for.

Without further ado, here I am, being all calm. Full disclosure, this picture makes me look better and smaller than I do in real life. This was not an accident.


Happy 25 weeks, Sammy-Boy!