The Prayer I Stopped Praying

As the weeks leading up to Ava’s arrival pass with increasing speed, I am filled with a variety of emotions: panic at the thought of raising a newborn, when it’s been 6 years since I did such a daunting thing; stress about the fact that her nursery is nowhere close to being ready (she does have a crib to sleep in, but it would help to have a clear path to said crib); excitement as I think about what Ava will be like and how she will be different and similar to her big sister (will she be born with a head full of adorable hair like Charlotte and cry incessantly the first few months of her life, or will she be bald and content?). And of course, there’s the anticipation as I think of meeting Ava for the first time, gazing into the eyes I have dreamed about, clutching the tiny fingers, caressing the tiny feet and toes that spent weeks kicking me from the inside. There will be much to wonder at and take joy in, much to compare to my experience with Charlotte, and no doubt much that will be new and different.

One such new thing is that this time, after I bring my daughter home from the hospital, I will not have to think about counting down the weeks until my maternity leave ends. In those early weeks of Ava’s life, I will not have to agonize over getting her ready to sleep in a daycare crib and eat on a schedule. Why? Because this time I am getting what I long ago desired with Charlotte–the chance to stay home with my baby. Last week I sat down with my boss, after much dread and anxiety (I have worked for him for 7 years), and I told him that my last day is May 17 and that I do not plan on coming back after Ava is born. Even as I type those words, it is hard for me to believe they are true, but they are.

After Charlotte was born I struggled mightily to reconcile my desire to stay at home with the need that my family had for me to be working. Over time I made peace with the fact of being a working mom, but pangs of longing still lay buried in my heart, and I would plead with the Lord to make a way where there didn’t seem to be a way. I prayed off and on about my desire to stay at home for several years, until finally I didn’t pray anymore. I decided that God was telling me “no” to that particular prayer, and so I did what I could and searched for all the ways that being a working mom was a blessing: it helped provide for my family; it gave Charlotte the opportunity to socialize with other kids and be exposed to so many sweet, dear teachers at her daycare; it stimulated my mind. And in those early days of being desperately sick with ulcerative colitis, and later on with my two hip surgeries and lengthy recoveries, it was a relief for me to know that Charlotte had a place to go every day where she was loved and cared for, when it was hard for me to do those things for her.

Nevertheless, when I found out I was pregnant with Ava, after years of wondering if my health would ever be stable enough for me to have another child, I felt that familiar longing rising to the surface. So I started praying again, asking the Lord to provide a way for me to stay at home, even for just a while. Our finances were certainly better than what they were when Charlotte was born, but we still were uncertain about how it would work. Meanwhile, we put as much money into savings as we could and talked about the pros and cons of quitting my job. The numbers didn’t completely add up, but with our savings, we knew we could make it work for several months at least. I had to ask myself if I could be okay with giving up my job in exchange for 4-6 months of time at home with Ava, and when I thought about it, the choice was easy. I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew it was possible in a way it hadn’t been 6 years ago when Charlotte was born. There will be other jobs, but there is only one Ava. So we’re taking a step of faith and walking into unknown waters and trusting that God will help us cross safely to the other side. I don’t completely know how it will all work, but that is the way of life, isn’t it? We pray and we trust and we do our best and know that God will give us what we need, nothing more, nothing less.
I may have stopped praying that prayer a long time ago, but the hope in my heart was resurrected, and now I see God answering prayer upon prayer upon prayer, and all I can do in response is offer my deep gratitude and praise.

We will sing to our souls,
We won’t bury our hope.
Where He leads us to go,
There’s a Red Sea road.

When we can’t see the way,
He will part the waves.
And we’ll never walk alone,
Down the Red Sea road.

from “Red Sea Road” by Ellie Holcomb

Pregnancy Update: Almost 27 Weeks!

How far along? Almost 27 weeks. I can’t believe I’m almost finished with the second trimester.

How big is the baby? Ava is about the size of an eggplant, weighing somewhere around 2 pounds now!

Maternity Clothes? Yes, 90% of the time. I had to order some warm weather maternity clothes this week because it’s been unseasonably warm for this time of year, and most of my maternity clothes from my last pregnancy are winter and fall clothes. I knew I was going to be pregnant for a whole different season this time, but the warm weather snuck up on me!

Sleep? Still very hit or miss. I got a Snoogle Mini pillow in the hopes that it would help, and I do think it has helped some, but I still have a lot of difficulty getting comfortable and wake up frequently, even when I take Unisom.

Symptoms? I still get headaches, though not as frequently, and heartburn has been pretty fierce.

Food Cravings? Fruit and desserts (so basically my normal food obsessions).

Name? Ava Nicole.

Movement? So much movement! Ava seems to really come alive in the late afternoon and at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. I love feeling her kicks. I only wish that Stephen and Charlotte could feel them too, but I’m afraid that my thick abdomen is preventing that.

Best Moment of the Week? Finding some good deals on baby clothes at a consignment sale.

What I Miss? Nothing, really.

What I’m Looking Forward To? Getting the nursery put together. Right now it’s still functioning as our guest room, so we have a lot of work to do. I’m thinking about buying this adorable literary heroines banner from Carrot Top Paper Shop to hang in the nursery, but I’m not sure what else I want to put in there. I’m also really looking forward to seeing what Ava looks like and if she will resemble Charlotte.

Fun Fact? Ava’s brain wave activity is picking up, and she’s able to hear and respond to noises now. Charlotte loves talking to my belly, so I hope that Ava will recognize her voice after she’s born.

I feel like these next few weeks are going to fly by, as Charlotte’s 6th birthday is coming up on Saturday, and then we have a trip to Chattanooga planned for spring break just a few weeks after that. I have started making a list of all the things we still need to do and gear we need to borrow or buy (we borrowed quite a few things for our last pregnancy so we’ll need to fill in what we don’t have anymore), and I am feeling the need to start crossing some of those things off the list. Ava will be here before we know it!

An Overdue Pregnancy Update

How far along? 21 weeks. I’m past the halfway mark!

How big is the baby? Baby Mount is about 10 1/2 inches long, weighs 11 to 12 1/ 2 ounces and is the size of a large carrot.

Maternity Clothes? Almost all of the time, although I can still get away with wearing a few non-maternity tops. I recently purchased a pair of maternity jeggings that I’m loving. (Yes, I said jeggings. Don’t hate; they are super comfy!)

Sleep? As my husband can tell you, I’m a big fan of sleep, but it has been hard to come by, mostly because of hip pain. I knew going into this pregnancy that my hip pain would be difficult to manage because I’m very limited in treatment options right now, but that doesn’t make it any easier to have pain wake me in the middle of the night on a regular basis. Still, I know that at the end of all of this I will have a baby to love, and that helps get me through it.

Symptoms? Nothing new, and thankfully the headaches have decreased in frequency, although they still make an appearance on a weekly basis.

Food Cravings? Oranges, apples, grapes, oatmeal creme pies (I had you going with the fruit for a minute, didn’t I? Nope, not all of my cravings are healthy).

Name? After MUCH discussion (and indecision on my part), we FINALLY decided on a name this past weekend! Without further ado, the name of our BABY GIRL is

img_8290

Can’t wait to meet our sweet Ava!

Movement? I’m feeling those sweet little flutters, and I feel like they have increased in frequency over the past few days.

Best Moment of the Week? Deciding on and announcing a name and buying Ava some adorable summer clothes.

What I Miss? Still missing my double dirty chais, but I can’t think of much else at this point.

What I’m Looking Forward To? My next ultrasound on February 6. Ava was lying on her side when we got the ultrasound a few weeks ago, and the tech wasn’t able to get good images of her heart, face, or both kidneys, hence the follow-up ultrasound. The doctor told me that I shouldn’t be worried, so instead I’m excited I get to see my girl again soon!

Fun Fact? Ava’s taste buds are developed, so the amniotic fluid she tastes will be tinged with the taste of foods I eat. She should love apples after she’s born, then! And ice cream. 😉

I’ve Been Pregnant Forever

Or at least that’s what it feels like. We found out we were pregnant really early (I took a test the day before my missed period), so even though I’m a little over 15 weeks along, it seems like longer because we’ve known for about 12 weeks. This is a problem, since I have almost 25 weeks of pregnancy remaining, so if it already feels like it’s been a long time, how will I feel in March when I still have 3 months to go? So I’m just not going to think about that and instead will be thankful that I’m in the second trimester and have seen some of the fatigue ease up, although I still want to nap all the time. (Although if I’m being honest, I wanted to nap all the time before I got pregnant, so let’s just chalk that up to my natural state of being.)

napping-dog

Yep.

How far along? 15 weeks, 3 days

How big is the baby? Baby Mount is 4 1/2 inches and the size of a navel orange.

Maternity Clothes? My jeans are the only pants I can still wear that aren’t maternity. I am wearing a mix of maternity and non-maternity tops.

Sleep? Hit or miss, with crazy dreams.

Symptoms? Nasal congestion, frequent headaches (and by frequent I mean every single day).

Food Cravings? Ice cream and grapes.

Name? We have a boy name we both like, but I’m not sure about a girl name. There are several I like, but I’m not sure which one is THE one. I was so sure with Charlotte early on that my indecision with this is puzzling to me.

Movement? Nope, still too early for that.

Best Moment of the Week? Christmas festivities! We went to Andrew Peterson’s annual Behold the Lamb of God Christmas concert on Thursday, Charlotte and I saw The Nutcracker on Friday, and then we went to our church’s Christmas concert last night.

What I Miss? Double dirty chai lattes from Starbucks (a chai latte with 2 shots of espresso). This was my drink of choice before getting pregnant, and since I’ve cut back on caffeine, I haven’t had one of these since I found out I was pregnant.

What I’m Looking Forward To? January 4, which is when we find out if Baby Mount is a boy or girl!

Fun Fact? Pregnancy brain is a real thing, friends. Examples: Last week I almost put diesel in my car; popped the trunk of my car instead of the gas tank; couldn’t find my keys because they were in my hand; and almost mailed someone an envelope without anything in it! And those are just the ones I remember. I’m winning at life.

Do you all have any questions for me, pregnancy-related or not? I need stuff to write about, so ask away!