Dear Momma In The Mirror

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Dear Momma In The Mirror,

I see you. I see you sizing yourself up against others and yourself  before you brought a human into this world.
I see you poking and prodding a padded body that doesn’t resemble your former self. I see you eyeing stretched places and sagging parts that you thought you’d never have. I know you’re puzzling over them, crying over them and finding ways to hide.
I know the magazines and old clothes speak lies that you have let yourself go. That because you haven’t bounced back in “x” amount of days/weeks you are forever destined to be ugly.
I know you fear the worst. That this strange body of yours that no longer has a cute bump that gave you accolades and an excuse to look a certain way will warrant judgement and rejection from those that love you. From strangers. From yourself. The lie is what if I’m no longer beautiful?
I know it cringes at seeing photographs of yourself and stepping on scales at doctors offices. How did this happen? You know how it happened but it still hurts for some reason. I know you feel ashamed.
Your eyes judge as you pass every reflecting surface and you scramble to hide the changed parts every time you dress.
You see only what was lost or what you lack.
But, what about seeing you though what you have?
You have a body that housed another life and brought it into this world. Those widened hips are curvy, feminine. The softness that is left is perfect for a tiny life to snuggle into. Your body feeds this little life. Your arms are strong from rocking, carrying, snuggling and holding. Your body is stretched like the heart that expanded a thousand times to house the love of a tiny person. Each mark a battle scar. Perhaps a scar lays across your abdomen. You are marked, forever because of another life. Your body sacrificed for another miracle. Another life. Another person.  It’s love. Raw love symbolized in the undergone changes.
So momma, when you see those things that hurt your heart remember they are there because you gave another life.
The truth is you are beautiful. You let yourself love, grow and change. You have grown and changed as you stepped into a new role. Your body is amazing. It made life. Gives life. Each mark, roll, softness and sag is a reminder of this.
After all, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are more than a pant size, a number on a scale, and a figure the world says you have to have.
You are healthy, strong. You are a mom.
Love,
The beautiful Momma you really are
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Pregnancy Nostalgia

I have been feeling a little nostalgic lately about my pregnancy. I miss my baby bump and feeling Calli move around in my belly. I catch myself looking at cute pregnant ladies and feeling slightly envious. I find this hilarious because 7 weeks ago I was dying to not be pregnant. I was so uncomfortable and anxious to meet our sweet girl that I would have paid my weight in gold to get her out. I think this nostalgia and slight longing for a sweet bump is likely a combination of the madness of postpartum hormones (they are nuts) and God’s generosity to women. I don’t know that women would want to get pregnant again and go through the process of getting a little person out of their body (either naturally or via c-section) and all the craziness that goes with it without this silly nostalgia. Basically I would do it all again (and probably will in a few years Lord willing) because sheesh, it’s amazing right?!
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I thought I would share with you all some of our maternity pictures. We met our photographer through my Mom. It was one of those God things and Brittney is a delight. She made Chad and I feel at ease and took such gorgeous pictures. I wept scrolling through our photos the first time. I feel proud and beautiful looking at my pregnant body and if I am honest, at the time, felt huge and foreign to me. I was filled with insecurity about my body (and still am) as it stretched to accommodate a new person growing. I was nervous about taking pictures but so wanted to document the bump. I was just so afraid that I would look huge. But Brittney was able to capture the beauty of carrying new life and make this girl feel like a model. Glory!
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I have to give a shout out to Brittney. If you or a friend is in need of pregnancy photos or newborn photos, she is amazing. Check out her stuff on her website. 🙂 Thanks Brittney for loving on us and helping us capture the miracle of our sweet Calli Elizabeth.

Party of Three

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Well, we are now a party of three. This is Calli Elizabeth. I’m in love. I go gaga over her daily and can’t believe she is my child. She looks like me in the eyes and Chad in the face structure, lips and chin. So stinking cute. She loves snuggling, eating food and makes the cutest noises in her sleep. I can’t believe my body grew this precious gift and God gave her to us. She is the most mellow baby of all time. I am not sure how that happened. But I’ll take it. Friends say I only get one kid like this, so I am treasuring it. 

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The past six weeks have been a delightful daze. I am happily deliriously tired for the most wonderful cause. There have certainly been moments that have just been hard; but that’s parenthood right? We have had other moments that are just comical, like exploding poop diapers and bodily fluids coming out of all exit points at the same time. And life is just strange when you are so tired. But somehow you still function. Even without coffee. Calli doesn’t do coffee, so for now I don’t either. You will give up anything to have a baby that sleeps longer than a half an hour. Funny how that works.

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At 9 days old we packed up our little family for our first outing and had these pictures taken. Somehow we all managed to be presentable and not look as sleep deprived as we really were. Brittney, our photographer, is a gem. We met through my Mom which is truly a God story. She did our maternity photos too (more on that later). We had fun with her and tried some cute stuff with Calli and I am delighted with how things turned out. Yes, we put our newborn in a bucket. But isn’t it so cute!? I’m sure she will roll her eyes at me one day for this. 

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Anyways, we are smitten. 🙂 

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We love you Calli. You make our world a brighter, more exciting joyous place. 

If you are needing maternity or newborn photo’s, Brittney Hansen does an amazing job making you feel beautiful even if you just had a baby days before. Check out more of her work here

A Letter To My Daughter

Dear Baby Sweet Daughter of Mine,

By now we are getting to know each other and going on the biggest adventure together. We get to do life hand in hand.  You are the girl that made me a mom. I don’t have words for that. I want you to know that you were a desire of my heart that God saw to bring to fruition when I least expected it. You were a surprise, the promise of life in a desert time in your dad and I’s life. Someone told us when we first found out about your coming that you would usher in a season of life for us. You would bring a new thing, a glorious thing. After all, new life is a treasure and a gift. God knew when you needed to come into our family and we are delighted that he chose you to be our little girl.

I always wanted to be a momma, and always wanted a little girl. I don’t know what you are going to be like. I have tried many times to imagine you. But the truth is I know you will be better than what I could come up with on my own. I can’t wait to find out what makes you laugh, what makes your heart beat with excitement and the things you delight in.  We may be nothing alike, or you may have qualities of mine. But I want you to know that no matter who you are, I am committed to loving you and helping you become, in time, the woman God made you to be. I pray that you will brave and bold and love life with all that you are. I pray that you will always see people who are overlooked. My hope is that the things that are important in the Kingdom of God are the very things that you adore. I pray that you discover early the love of Christ and what it means that he died on a tree for you and me and all of humanity. I pray that you are confident in how wonderful you are, not because you are self confident, but because you understand the heart God has for you. That your confidence would be rooted on the Rock Himself. I pray you have a voice that rings loud to your generation of a Love greater than all it tries to give you. I pray that you will be willing to go where ever he asks and do things that shock you because he helps you. And I pray all the more that your Dad and I will show you these things because we follow Him in that way.

There will be things you face in this world that will be unfair. There will be times I fail you in the worst ways. I am a very imperfect person. But I want you to know that I will always love you. There will be times where you mess up, but I want you to know I don’t love you for what you do or don’t do. I love you because of who you are. I don’t know what we will face in life together, but I want you to know that you are enough. The world is going to try to tell you that you aren’t enough. It’s going to try to get you to sell yourself short and give yourself to things that will actually destroy you. I want you to know that God already says that you are perfectly and wonderfully made. He made you with intension and delight. He chose you and loves you fiercely. The only One you should give yourself to is Him. He is a good good Father. He loves us. He loves you. Unlike your dad and I, He is perfect. He will not fail you. He will never mess up or leave you. He is the One you need.

I want you to always try. Even when it’s hard or tempting to give up. We want you to give life your best effort but want you to know that we aren’t too worried about the outcome. If you truly are trying your very best, it’s enough even if the outcome is failure. You know why? Persistence is hugely important. You don’t make it in life just because you feel you deserve something. You have to work at it. You don’t become good at something without working hard. This world will try to present shortcuts or tell you that you deserve something just because you showed up. There will be times where your work and effort are overlooked. There will be times when no matter how hard you work, it won’t be enough to gain recognition you may have hoped for. But I want you to know that it is enough if it’s your best. Effort matters. God always sees your effort and work and takes note. Work for His eyes only. He will reward you. If not in this life, in eternity. Also, don’t ne afraid to fail. Failures and successes are not your identity. But be bold enough to try new things even if it doesn’t go well. And then pick up again and keep going. I will be there to help you up when you fall.

I pray that you hear the song He sings over you. That it is so loud in your heart that nothing can draw you from it. I pray that as you grow, you will have a tenderness to his Word and a strong conviction of the truth. We will do our best to help you navigate in a world that tries to tell you that everything is true. That alone makes no sense if you think about it sweet girl, but it’s what this crazy world wants you to think. This attempts to cheapen what really is true and makes things confusing. There really is Truth and things really are false. Everything can’t simultaneously be right. Your dad is very good at this. Listen to his wisdom. He will help you navigate your questions. Also, questions are a beautiful thing. Never be afraid to ask us things and question what people tell you. Even us. God gave you a brain and the ability to reason for a purpose.

One of the scary things as a mom is to know that you have an enemy. It’s the same enemy that I have. He isn’t creative, but he will try to destroy you. He has tried to destroy me and your dad too. He has one mission, steal, kill and destroy. I promise to always help you fight the fight against him. God has given all we need to be victorious against this enemy. But he will try and try to get you to forget that. And he will still attempt to rob us. Just know that “greater is he that is in us, that he who is in the world.” You are covered. And one day your dad and I will tell you our stories of how he tried to take us out, but wasn’t successful. Stories of how God is so much greater and is a redeemer of seemingly impossible things. I have to tell you that our family history on both sides is that story. Truthfully, it’s everyone’s story. But I want you to always know that God is bigger, greater, mightier, stronger than even the deepest of pitfalls and painful things. And then he takes those things and redeems them in powerful ways for His glory so all will know who he is and how he loves.

My job as a mom is to remind you who you are and who God is. It’s to help you know him, help you become like him. You were uniquely created by him with gifts and talents to give to the world for his glory. Let’s discover those things. And just like you, I am in process of learning to love him with all that I am. It will be an adventure. Just know, you are completely and totally adored and loved.

Love,

Your Momma

Expectations for Motherhood from a New Momma

Expectations of MotherhoodI am going to take a stab at defining some of my expectations of being a mother. And since this will post in my first week as a mother, I thought it would be kind of fun to look back at this and see if any of them were reasonable. This might be a little easier in retrospect say like a year from now. But in theme with the mini blog series I am doing on expectations, I thought I would give this a try. First, I have to confess that I am terrified and I have no clue what this is going to be like. I feel completely unequipped to take care of a little person and raise them to become a functioning adult. My parents and friends with children have reassured me that every new parent feels this way. Especially when coming home from the hospital. The thoughts are “Wait, where is the manual for this thing? And they really are going to let me take him/her home?”
Expectation number one is that I am going to be tired. Like really tired for the first few years of her life. Although, on second thought, I might be really tired all of her life because having a teenager sounds like a time where loss of sleep is guaranteed. Hmm.. maybe you get to sleep when they are in elementary school? I pray that by some grace of God, my daughter manages to have an easier go at being a teen than I did. But now I am getting ahead of myself. Rumor has it infants get up every two hours to eat around the clock. So I am expecting I won’t sleep. And because of this, I am expecting in my delirium to at times be grumpy. I am hoping and praying that I don’t hurt my husband/parents too much in this totally sleep deprived state.
Second, I am expecting I will love this little person more than I can even fathom. I am genuinely curious about a mother’s love. It’s something I have tried and tried to imagine. But I just can’t. Just like I tried to imagine what it would be like to love my husband before I was married. Seriously so much greater than I could even grasp until I was walking in it. Parents tell me that there is nothing like loving a child. So I anxiously await experiencing this great love. People have told me that it gives you insight into God’s love in a whole new way. I am eager to have this new insight as well.
Third, I am expecting that I will discover a new part of myself that I didn’t know before. The mom part of me. I have always wanted to be a mom. I have maternal instincts and attributes already; but I know that there are things that I haven’t developed because I haven’t had to. I am excited to develop in this way and figure out who I am as a mom. I anticipate I will become an expert on things like breastfeeding, baby things, responding to cries, multitasking, cleaning up puke, showering in two minutes, and many other things mom’s do that I don’t even know about.
Fourth, I am expecting to discover how selfish I really am. If I am honest, right now my life revolves very much around myself and of course Chad. It’s not that I never think about other people. I just anticipate learning just how much I prioritize my needs over the needs of others and how selfish I am when these things are in jeopardy. My time will no longer be mine. There will be another person’s needs that will come before mine. And while Chad and I do that for each other, there is often compromise involved so we both can have needs met in a timely fashion. Luxuries like spending a day at a coffee shop or a book store will be over too. Unless one of us is at home with her, she won’t have the patience to hang out while we read/write/code and hibernate a snowy day away.
I am expecting it to go entirely too fast. I think about how fast my pregnancy went and tear up thinking about all the milestones she will go through in just the first year. I know at two in the morning when she is crying, I won’t feel this way. I probably won’t feel this way when she is two and melting down in the middle of a store while I am a shade of crimson. But I want to treasure it all, because I feel like I will blink and I will be watching her walk down the isle getting married. I mean isn’t this just what happened to my parents? I’m sure my mom feels like just yesterday she was in my shoes, about to give birth. In my sappy hormonal state, I have already cried about her future wedding day and all the feelings I think I’ll have in that moment. Seriously people.
Finally, I expect this to be the hardest thing that I have ever done. I think I will be humbled with all the things that I thought I knew and don’t. (All those moments where you think “If I was the mom, I’d do blah blah blah and my kid wouldn’t do blah blah blah). I have been thinking about that lately and how the reality is you are trying to raise a person, who has an independent will, who is going to do their own thing and go through their own milestones of learning. One of those milestones of learning might be humiliating to me as a mom and make me look bad in a grocery store. Like 5,000 times. I think there will be days I am faced with serious feelings of inadequacy and other days where I feel like the best mom in the world. It’s a job title that I get permanently. It’s something that I will never stop doing, even though I know that my role will shift as she develops into a young woman. As my own mom says, “once a mom, always a mom”.
Most importantly, I think I will love it.
I’d love to hear from some of the Mom’s out there. What surprised you about being a Mom? I’d love to read your replies in the middle of the night when feeding. 🙂 You know, like a little something to look forward to.

Conquering My Nerves Around a C-Section

***Today is the day we have a scheduled C-Section. It’s at 12:30 MST. If you feel so inclined, we would love your prayers. We appreciate you and can’t wait to introduce her to you. I have a few things scheduled the next week or two to celebrate her and when I am well enough I will hop on and share all kinds of pictures and of course the name 🙂 Thanks for being patient while we get to know our little person and adjust to being a family of three.C-Section
Since scheduling a c-section for our little peanut’s arrival, I have been a somewhat an emotional wreck. It’s a major surgery and it completely wigs me out. I know, I know, it happens everyday (ha! and I having one as you read this). But as my awesome OB says, you don’t know how you are going to react to it so it’s normal for the nerves to be there. Quite frankly, bringing another human being into the world is going to make you nervous. Your body is going through something huge, and there is another person affected by the whole thing to. One you love before you have even seen them face to face. It’s completely normal to feel nervous, anxious and kinda freaked out by the whole thing.
I have managed the experience of my emotions in a couple of ways.
First, I have let myself feel what I feel any given moment without guilt or shame. If I feel upset, disappointed, nervous or just plain scared I take note of it. I feel it. I am not good at suppressing emotion. I don’t particularly think it’s healthy or helpful. I have friends who are able to be extremely optimistic. Perhaps they are able to deal with their emotions in a different way, but I have to acknowledge the emotion, process it either in writing or verbally and then let the emotion pass.
Second, I have processed these emotions and the roots of them with trusted people. God has majorly provided me with an awesome support system in general. Different people have walked different parts of my journey in different ways with me. He did not make us to do things alone. Community is so important and needed and there is a reason we are called to community and are made to be known. I am so thankful for people who have been there, who understand the many emotions that come with giving birth via c-section and understand the importance of just listening. I have come to peace with giving birth via c-section largely because of God’s provision of people in just the right moments who have been patient enough to just hear my fears out.
Third, I have a counselor who has helped me resource for the day itself. I am a HUGE believer in counseling. It’s something that has radically changed my life and something I know will be a part of my life on and off probably for all of my life. I think everyone should have a counselor in their lifetime. There is something sacred about the counseling space where you can be laid bare to a certain degree and heal. Truly, God is the ultimate Counselor and I am very aware the ways that he moves through my sessions and does the work. The counselor is truly a vessel of his healing when done right.
My counselor does a technique called EMDR for processing trauma. If you are stuck in a “loop” of trauma, meaning that you cannot move through the emotion or experience of something, there is a technique that integrates your experiences and stores them in your brain properly. I have found major major healing/success in pursuing EMDR. (more on that in a later post). Now you aren’t supposed to do EMDR when pregnant unless it’s approved by a doctor. Mostly because you don’t want to have trauma responses when pregnant. You want to keep your body and system as calm as possible for baby. But you can do a certain type of EMDR called positive templating without risking baby experiencing a trauma response. With the okay from my doctor, I found this experience very very helpful. Positive templating is all about walking through the day and processing how it could go, how you want it to go, and how you would respond to things that are unexpected. What I find sacred about these spaces is how God meets me in them. When I did EMDR last week, our Heavenly Father showed me how he is with me and will be with me through the whole surgery. He was very tangible, showing me the ways he has prepared and provided through staff at the hospital, the team of doctors performing the surgery, and then just his actual presence. He also comforted me in my pain and loss of the birth I had expected. I was able to see that much of my panic was coming from a fear that he wouldn’t be there with me. I know that sounds absurd, but I think when you are responding to something with previous experiences where you felt abandoned and rejected (no matter if that isn’t the case) it’s easy to in the depths of your heart fear that you are doing it all alone and that somehow God won’t be in the midst of it with you. To experience the Holy Spirit reminding you that he is in fact always with you and showing you that he will be there is very comforting.
Fourth, prayer has played a huge role. I had a sweet prayer session with some people who are dear to my heart. It was funny because the day before she called me up to pray with me, God told me that I needed to pray with this particular person. So had she not beat me to the punch, I would have reached out to her. The prayer session addressed so many of the things that I needed to remember are true. One of these things was the reality that God’s plan for a baby to come into the world is always the best plan. It’s easy to feel like this is the second best plan. But if she arrives via C-section, this is his best. There is almost an idol of natural child birth in my generation, especially living in Colorado, where there is a high value of all natural everything. While natural (as God created things are good) he also moves through so many things. He created a c-section that has saved countless women and babies lives. Remembering that He is in this and that this isn’t a rejection of me or a personal failure was hugely important. Another thing we prayed about was walking in the freedom of Christ and that she reminded me that fear isn’t my inheritance. She got this beautiful picture that I am learning how to walk through valley’s where darkness seems to be all around, but that I am actually clothed in victory. I can be confident in Christ no matter how over my head I feel, and he will be with me. The work on the cross has happened. It is finished and now I can walk fully in what he has done.
Finally, renewing my mind in scripture has also been very important. I need to remember what God says is true. This morning I was reading in the Psalms. I found a great deal of comfort in a a few particular verses. I will be repeating these to myself during surgery. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  Psalm 34:4-5. He has delivered me from all my fears. He is lifting my head and holding my heart reminding me that he is for me; even in things that are hard, unexpected, disappointing and scary.I have nothing to be ashamed of.
He is bringing new life into the world. It’s worth celebrating!

Update on Baby Girl

38 Weeks Pregnant- Chad and I
I apologize for the recent silence. It has been an emotional two weeks for Chad and I as we have had to navigate a couple of difficult decisions preparing for baby girls arrival. Here is an update on what’s been happening.
We decided at 37 weeks to pursue another doctors opinion on turning her from the breech position. The manual version very much felt like our best option to try to get her to move especially since we would be monitoring her in the hospital and would have doctors present in case something happened to lead to her distress. We literally could get her out in two minutes if needed.Our last doctor did not feel I was a good candidate for it. This was discouraging and led us to choosing another doctor at 37 weeks. God is really faithful though, he provided a perfect fit doctor that has really helped Chad and I have peace moving forward.  I know there are lots of techniques to try to get her to spin, but some of them make me uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s mother’s intuition or just my own paranoia but I have a great resistance to some of them.
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So we scheduled this procedure with our new doctor. And in true Colorado form we went from 70 degree weather to a blizzard in 24 hours. So in a blizzard Chad and I ventured to the hospital to try to help sweet girl turn. We checked in and had a nice room to wait in while to snow pelted the windows. We were nervous. Quickly nursing staff came in and began asking me lots of questions and then hooking me to an IV. I am not a fan of needles. And unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of things my IV got ripped from my arm.Guys, in case you are wondering, it hurts pretty bad when that happens. Once they got that back in, we were hooked up to monitors and they watched baby girls heartbeat for a bit.
The doctors walked in and began prepping us for what was going to happen. An answer to prayer was both doctors that were performing the procedure were very calming. I was really nervous but they both grabbed my hands and just talked me through things. We met the anesthesiologist and went through worst case scenarios. A version required them to press on my abdomen and manually try to coax her to turn. They told me they would try no more then four times to keep me and baby safe. As much as we all wanted her to turn, the goal was to avoid fetal distress and an emergency c-section.
They gave me some medication to relax my uterus and then began the procedure. The medication simulates flight or fight in your body. Imagine your heart racing, and your arms going numb and your whole body feeling like something horrible was happening. Maybe running from a grizzly in the woods?
My body’s response to this feeling was hyperventilation as “fleeing from a grizzly” feeling started taking over. Nurses were trying to coach me through the panic and they put oxygen on me which really helped. I was also slightly upside down to try to help the docs with the version. Their pressing on my belly hurt too, but I was very distracted by the situation of my heart racing and arms going numb. After try number one, they looked at me and told me that baby girl wedged her little head up under my rib cage. They were going to give it one more try but because it was really difficult to get a hand on her to help her turn, they were not sure it was going to work. They had been pressing pretty hard near my rib cage to try to pull her out from underneath. Chad told me later it was pretty weird to watch. He could literally see the outline of her body as they tried to maneuver her.
The second try went much better in that my breathing was more in control and I didn’t feel like I was in quite so much of a panic. Chad was holding my hand and helping me focus on my breathing. I was more aware of the pain of them pressing on my belly as they tried to turn her. She was doing great on the monitor which was a relief, but they still couldn’t get a hold of her head. It was like she had strategically placed herself in a location where no one could get her. She didn’t move in the slightest. It was at this point they decided to stop.
The doctors apologized that it wasn’t successful. Chad and I were just thankful that we tried and had doctors we trusted and felt were very experienced with trying to turn a baby. Our goal was to try this and then wait for her to turn. Otherwise, we were going to trust that God had a really good reason for her to come into the world via c-section.
They handed me a menu, since I had been fasting for over 12 hours I was so excited to eat some food. Pregnant and fasting do not go together at all. Chad and I ordered some really good breakfast food and waited out the monitoring period. I definitely felt weird from the medication. It kinda felt as though I had ran a marathon and I was emotionally drained. Chad also was exhausted from watching the whole thing. It wasn’t easy for him to watch me writhing on a hospital bed and the fear that our daughter could be delivered at any second if she was in distress.
Baby girl looked great. She danced around on the monitor and had a great heartbeat. They soon came in with discharge paperwork and we headed back into the snow. Getting home was a crazy adventure. It had snowed about six inches in the four hours we had been in the hospital. We had to take it really slow because everywhere we looked there were vehicles that were stuck. Even SUV’s and trucks were stuck. We made it into our neighborhood and at the top of the hill, we got stuck in a bunch of snow. There was no way to move. Chad tried to maneuver the car but to no avail. We were stuck. So we hopped out of the car and at 37 weeks pregnant we hiked in a foot of snow home.
Let’s just say it took me a few days to recover from those events. My body was convinced we had climbed Everest. Not to mention as time went on the bruising to my abdomen became more apparent. Most of the bruising was by my rib cage, which is where baby girl loves to hang out and stretch. Her every movement felt like my stomach was going to explode open.
False Labor Scare
Two days after the version we went in for a shot I needed to have. (The only thing I will say about this is don’t google stuff. Dr Google is a horrible Doctor as our OB said.) Basically through a miscommunication, Chad and I rushed to the office thinking that some oversight had happened for a shot I needed to have much earlier. But everything was fine, I still needed the shot. It just wasn’t as terrifying as I thought or as risky to the baby as Google made it seem. I have since resisted googling things.
While we we in the office, they hooked us up to a fetal monitor to check on baby girl since the version had been just about 48 hours prior and they wanted to check in on her. I was very sore and in a lot of pain. I told them I had been experiencing cramps. While hooked up, they discovered I was having contractions. As a first time mom, I had no clue what contractions feel like. You can read the best birth books and go to classes and still think I have no idea what the heck my body is doing. The contractions ended up being regular and consistent enough to warrant the doctors concern. They were about 3-5 minutes apart so they to see if I was progressing. They checked things and I was dilated to a one (nothing too crazy) and 80% effaced. So they sent us to labor and delivery for continuous monitoring. They needed to make sure I wasn’t in labor because if I was, we would have to have a c-section since baby girl was still settled under my ribs. They told us that it would be about an hour of monitoring and i couldn’t eat or drink anything as a precaution.
Chad and I settled into our room, 316, and played on his poker app he developed. I began learning what contractions felt like and found they were pretty regular and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in crazy pain, but the bruises on my abdomen added to the pain of my tightening belly. An hour passed and they decided to keep me just in case. It started snowing outside and Chad and I joked that she was going to come in the snow one way or another. We decided to watch some TV and just process a little bit what life would be like if she debuted that night.
About four hours into our stay the doctor wanted to make sure things weren’t just moving slowly and they let me get into a Jacuzzi tub. That was my favorite part. If God ever lets me have a natural birth, I am spending my time in that thing. Our hospital resembles a spa, and this tub was something I wish we could install in our bathroom. The tub was massive, had jets and made the bruising on my belly feel so much better. I could still feel the contractions, but I was in a lot less pain. After a 45 min soak in the spa tub, we hopped out and were checked again. No progress. We were sent home. It was determined that likely it was mostly uterine distress from the version. I was experiencing both contractions and spasms. She also was moving quite a bit so my body was responding to all of those things.
We were both relieved and kinda disappointed. We had gotten excited at the thought of meeting her and also loved the idea of the process of how she would arrive be done. We both were thankful for a little more time the two of us.
Scheduling a C-Section
This past Monday we went in for another appointment. Baby girl has settled into my rib cage and hasn’t flipped. So we scheduled her birthday (which is the weirdest feeling by the way). April 4th is the big day.
I have had a lot of ups and downs with the thought of surgery. God is gentle and has provided a lot of support through various people who have been comfortable enough to just let me be in process. I want her to get here safely, but also have been confronted with some real fears and triggers over things. The enemy is cruel and likes to drag out old stuff sometimes. God has faithfully met me in each of my fears, triggers and spoken truth where lies lived. At the very least, a new layer of healing has been ushered in.  God is always committed to total freedom and healing in all things. I didn’t think that baby girls’ means of arrival would be one of the spaces he would use to love on me in such tangible ways.
If you feel so inclined, please pray for us on Monday, April 4th at 12:30pm MST. That’s when the excitement is going down. I want to remember what happens. I want to be peaceful and present as she enters the world and most of all I want her to get here safely. Also, be patient with us. I don’t even know what to expect regarding recovery. We may not update/post pictures of her for a few days while we get this whole parent thing halfway grasped. We will be getting to know our little person. Thanks for your prayers.
-Erin, Chad and Baby Girl

When Plans Don’t Go As Expected

Unmet Expectations
After writing about expectations in relationships last week, I have come face to face with a variety of circumstances that have caused major unmet expectations and a lot of emotion. It’s been eye opening to see how much impact unmet circumstantial expectations can cause an unravel of sorts.
We got to see our sweet baby girl on the ultrasound last week to check on her position. There is nothing like ultrasounds. They are exhilarating and terrifying. I don’t usually relax into them until I hear her heartbeat and then I usually tear up and proceed to marvel that there is a little person inside of my belly. They make the whole thing real to see her little body developing and wiggling around. She has been breech most of our pregnancy and we were ever hopeful that at our 36 week appointment she would have flipped over. No such luck. She is breech with her little legs crossed at the bottom of my uterus. It explains the frequent kicks to the bladder. Our Doctor began discussing the options in the coming weeks and it is overwhelming. Step one is trying to exercise and do various things to get her to flip naturally. There is a website called spinning babies we are supposed to do exercises from. The next thing will be deciding if we want to do a  manual version, this procedure where the doctor manually tries to flip her. We aren’t a good candidate for it because of the type of breech position she is in, how long she has been breech and then the position of my placenta. Not to mention the risks make Chad and I nervous. It has a 40 percent success rate normally, and apparently is even less with our circumstance. So c-section is on the table as a very real option.
Cue expectations galore. I have known for a few months that this could happen, but I secretly hoped that she would flip by 36 weeks and all would be well. It was my timeline. But how often do our plans happen the way we hope?  I am really disappointed that there is a big possibility that I am going to have a c-section. In a sense I am grieving the hope of having a vaginal delivery. It’s not that I want to be a super hero, I just wanted to go through the process that my body is made to do and that I have mentally prepped for. I have spent a lot more time thinking about delivering vaginally and wrapping my brain (sort of) around this and the recovery.
I realized I have a lot of fear around surgery, needles and epidurals. I have heard a lot of well meaning people say that it’s not a big deal, it’s a blessing that I won’t have to go through the pain of labor, that as long as she gets here safe that’s all that matters or that the recovery isn’t that bad. But none of this has been comforting for me. And it know it’s because I am grieving the expectation of giving birth vaginally. It’s what you expect to happen nine months after you get the positive test. It’s what you start mentally preparing for. Other people have told me she still could flip. Which I suppose still could happen. But I am wrestling with holding out hope and being devastated the day of surgery. I’d like to get to a place where I am genuinely okay with either. This means allowing myself to grieve and feel frustrated.
I am processing this in real time, so this isn’t fully processed in many ways. But I am realizing that the root of my anxiety and cause of expectation is I like to be in control. This is a developed coping mechanism to keep me “safe”. When I am in a good place, I recognize that I am not in control, God is and he is good so I have nothing to fear. My ability to keep myself safe is somewhat a facade. When I am stressed, triggered by something or feel vulnerable, I clench for control even more. Emotions unravel and I retreat some. I can become mean to people I love because internally I am in a state of sheer panic. The hardest part is I don’t want to be like this. I want to constantly trust God and have my emotions be in alignment with this and experience his peace. Truly, the crisis comes because I am depending on myself and know deep inside I am powerless to really do much.
This becomes especially true regarding my body. The more I read and learn about labor, the more I discover that this is a process my body knows how to do but not my brain persay. It’s something that can feel really out of control because it just happens and moves at its own pace. Labor is the exact opposite of control, and the closer it gets the more freaked out I become. Both by labor and c-section. Both feel like something I can’t control. The surgery even more so. I will be immobile, unable to see or feel anything (for good reason), and I will be at the mercy of my doctor and nurses. Labor vaginally feels like I will have a tiny bit more control because I can choose how I am managing my pain but still is far from the measured calculations/ preparation that I’d like. So both of these have sent me into a complete emotional tail spin. My body is riddled with anxiety and panic, particularly at night. If I think about it too long or hard, I will spontaneously cry. And anything that causes me to feel out of control right now triggers me and leaves me in a panic and reactive.
 I never anticipated that labor would expose a layer of healing that needs to happen. This need to be in control is not something I want to remain. It turns me into a bit of a crazy person. It leaves me trying to control circumstances and even people around me. It’s a big sign of a wound that needs healed and a muscle that needs strengthening. We weren’t designed to control and micromanage our life in calculated caution. We aren’t meant to be paralyzed by fear and working ourselves into a frenzy to do everything we can to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or out of control. We were designed to trust our Maker fully because he is good and will take care of us. We were made to live in freedom.
This reaction of control shows me there is doubt regarding that God is trustworthy. I think this wound is part of the fall, part of the brokenness of humanity. Evil in the world and unmet expectations further this woundedness. The enemy of our souls says “if God really is good he wouldn’t let this happen”. But this is a lie. Mostly around the responsibility piece. The enemy wants to blame shift and get the responsibility of evil off of himself onto God. This creates an even greater divide between us and God, his ultimate goal. In this circumstance, my temptation is to believe that something is wrong with my body. The deeper lie is a form or rejection. That because this isn’t going according to my plan, I am rejected by God is some way. But this also is a lie, because I am assuming that God’s plan is the same as mine. But the reality is his plan actually could be a c-section for sweet baby girl for a reason unknown to me. And the enemy is using this to attempt divide me from my Heavenly Father, the very One I need right now. This is why expectations around circumstances are dangerous.
So what am I doing about this struggle? It’s raw and ugly right now. It’s a lot of prayer and tears. It’s a lot of honesty with God about how I want to be in control but I am not and how this security is really a facade. I find myself grieving the expectations in God’s comforting arms and leaning on Chad when I fail to remember that our God is good. It’s being gracious with myself and apologizing when I hurt my love ones when I lose my mind and lash out. It’s being honest with myself that I am wounded but that God is my healer. He has healed much in my life and I can trust him to heal this. He has a perfect track record. And any fear I feel around birth, vaginally or cesarean, can be placed in God’s hands as he writes the story of how she comes into this world. It will be good no matter what.

Three Ways to Manage Expectation

Expectation Management
My husband and I have been blessed with a strong marriage from the beginning. For that I am very thankful. We know couples who really struggle the first year of marriage. That was not our story; we have faced a large variety of other trials that came with their own set of great difficulty. I tend to think that each challenge is hard, painful and comes with its own forms of deep grief caused by a set of expectations. In this current season of walking down an unexpected road of a major career change that demands more of my husband than anything ever has in his life, we have faced new challenges in our marriage. We have to ask ourselves often how do we prioritize our marriage when school demands 12-16 hour days every day of the week? Part of prioritizing our marriage comes with what I call expectation management.
We each approach every situation with a set of preconceived expectations of how something “should be.” These are formed by a variety of things. Culture, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, friends, family, our upbringing, world view and socioeconomic position, to name a few, form expectations. In some ways, expectations are not inherently bad. We wouldn’t accomplish things if we didn’t push ourselves in certain situations to meet expectations. Or we would maybe compromise for something that wasn’t God’s best if we didn’t have expectations. But expectations have a dark side. Particularly in relationship.
During this season where Chad puts an enormous amount of energy in learning a new skill set in a school environment that makes grad school look like middle school, I have taken on a support role. I am completely powerless most days to help him as he wrestles through content I know nothing about. This is new for us since we studied in seminary side by side. We no longer have a common language around something that takes most of his time. I am no longer the sounding board I expected to be as a wife. I can listen, but rarely can contribute thoughtfully on the topic. This is different than what life was like when we were vocationally pursuing ministry together. Coding is like a foreign language to me. And while my vocabulary on the subject is expanding daily, I know about as much as the size of an ice cube compared to an iceburg.
On top of that, we are becoming parents. As a woman, I am learning that there are a lot of secret expectations that I didn’t even know I had surrounding this life event. I have had to lay down expectations and dreams of what being pregnant together in this season would look like. Visions of shopping leisurely together for tiny baby things, preparation for baby at home, birthing classes, long conversations about names and parenting plans are all luxuries that haven’t been afforded to us in the last few months. It has been a huge internal battle of frustration and grief that we would be in such an intense season of schooling while leaping into parenthood.
Not only have those expectations had to die, so have the amount of time to we have to connect. The love language that outweighs the rest for me is quality time. I emotionally have to connect with people in my life through time that is intentional and rooted in conversation to feel loved. My poor husband wants so badly to meet this need but also feels immense responsibility to do his absolute best to prepare for our future in order to provide for us. At times I know he feels like these two things are completely at odds with each other.  I confess that my husband has done everything in his power to manage the many demands competing for his attention. He is a disciplined student, devoted husband and passionate father. But there certainly has been sacrifice on expectations and hopes all around. It’s hard to see the grief in his eyes when I know he wants to emotionally meet me in my need to connect on a deep level, but exhaustion is so overwhelming that sleep is about to usher in at any moment. I also may never forget the look on his face the night before he missed his first ultrasound during our pregnancy. He wanted so badly to be there to see his daughter swimming around, but he couldn’t miss school to come.
Each of these area’s have underlying expectations for both of us that we are learning to navigate. Some of them are harder to tease out the roots of, but each of them have to be managed in order to not allow the dark side of expectation to sabotage our marriage. I am learning that this is a form of guarding our marriage from the enemy who would love to take us out. Let me share with you what I am currently wresting through regarding expectation management.
1. Expectations are dangerous and corrode relationships when they are unreasonable.
So often expectations become roots of discontentment when they are unmet. When we hold expectations, reasonable or not, we likely will be faced with disappointment if they don’t come to fruition. Disappointment can lead to bitterness if not dealt with properly.  Also, expectations are not always reasonable. I find myself asking often, is this expectation reasonable to have of my husband/relationship? Is this something that is important to further the strength of our marriage? If it is unreasonable and does not further the strength of my marriage nor meet a need of mine that is a non-negotiable, I need to let it go. Instead of taking it immediately to Chad, I spend time praying through the expectation to discover whether or not it is legitimate and where it originated. For example, does this expectation come from a cultural expectation that is far from realistic, like waltzing through Babies R’ Us in total bliss and scanning adorable baby items for hours?  Then as God speaks to my heart, I allow him to loosen my grip on the expectation so that I can be free from it. The root of the baby registry fantasy is really the idea that without properly preparing with stuff, thoughtfully scanning each item we need, we will fail as parents to care for our daughter. The dangerous root is that if my husband can’t spend hours with me shopping for baby items that he doesn’t care about our daughter. This is a fat lie that if not identified could create a big root of bitterness later.  As I allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten my heart, my heart and my relationship are freed from discontent and unnecessary resentment and allows reasonable expectations to become the focus.
2. Communicating our expectations to one another is the most important thing.
Once I determine what my expectation is and pray through it, it is important for me to communicate my struggle with the expectation with my husband. This allows Chad to shed truth on a situation and know my heart. So often the expectation I have can be completely mitigated as soon as I invite him into the struggle. For example, he is able to remind me that being a good parent is not rooted in material possessions or time spent in a baby store. In this season, loving our daughter looks like preparing for our future in school. The hours he takes to thoughtfully code is his way of loving her. He wants to provide the very best for his girls. He also can gently remind me if I haven’t already navigated the root of the expectation, where it possibly originated. Most of all, it cultivates intimacy. The beautiful thing about having a conversation about expectation is that occasionally it is a reasonable expectation that the other person now knows about. He can meet the need if he knows. So sometimes Chad says to me, I want to meet this expectation because I can tell it really matters to you and I love you. He couldn’t do that if I never vocalized it. This takes humility and trust with one another and an enormous measure of grace to gently approach an expectation together. I cannot expect that just because Chad knows about my expectation that he will run to meet it. It could be the furthest thing from reasonable or even possible. But getting it out on the table avoids the root of resentment from springing up and makes it possible to work through.
3. Flexibility and allowing unreasonable expectations to die is a necessity.
Finally, I have to have a flexible malleable heart that the Holy Spirit can root out expectations. I have to be willing to lay down expectations that are not helpful for my heart or marriage. It is never helpful if I set my heart on an expectation and am then unwilling to compromise or evaluate it’s validity. I do not want to hold expectations over Chad’s head and imprison him. This is manipulative. Not only does this harm him, it harms me. My heart hardens as I set my hope on the expectation and ultimately Chad instead of Jesus and the hope I have in Him. By being flexible, I allow the space for necessary pruning of expectations so that I can be free in Christ. This also frees my heart to enjoy my marriage and the ways my husband is loving me. So often unmet expectations block our ability to see the blessings in our relationship. If I am so fixated on an area where something is unmet, I am not able to see and be thankful for the ways that my husband is loving me. I’d much rather be flexible and willing to allow things that cause death in relationship to die so that I can truly enjoy the gift God gave me in a husband.
This is a huge work in progress for me. It’s a weekly battle as I am constantly bombarded by new unrealized expectations rooted in my heart around becoming a mother. This week it’s around birth classes. Chad and I are going to take a class this weekend! But I am constantly battling the tension of expecting to be really prepared through these classes and the reality that if she comes early I have no clue what I am doing. This particular expectation is one I have with myself. I have to remind myself that I am not a bad mother, nor will my daughter’s birth be a disaster because I didn’t make it to a birthing class. Many women do this every day around the world with minimal resources comparatively. And so I remind myself to be gracious and gentle and do a little expectation management.

When God Surprises You

Early on in my pregnancy, I was grieving over not having a traditional nursery for our daughter to come home to. My parents basement is a huge blessing, but doesn’t have a second bedroom to turn into a nursery. She will be sleeping in our room in some sort of bed for the duration that we live with them. Even though I know she won’t know the difference, I was struggling with this cultural expectation as desire that was going to be unmet. This was directly connected to being in a season where things were not going according to plan and that I had always dreamed that we would have a place of our own when we would reach the milestone of adding to our family. Somewhere along the way I had adapted the cultural idea that the correct progression of life stages went along the lines of graduating college, going to graduate school, getting married, having an awesome career, buying a house and then starting a family. Let’s just say that this “model” of living was shattered and I came face to face with the reality that life is a lot more complex. Life actually doesn’t look like Pinterest, and doesn’t have to in order to be beautiful. Also, God doesn’t really work in models. He is creative and committed to cultivating character in us that often comes through enduring seasons that are far from our expectation.
I allowed myself to grieve this, however, because I knew that without stepping into the reality that things were not what I wanted or expected, bitterness could grow towards my Heavenly Father who knows best.
For a while, my grieving looked like avoiding stores where baby bedding, cribs and adorable nursery decor was sold. I didn’t participate in pregnancy forums where they were discussing how their nursery was coming together. Instead I researched pack n’ plays and looked into alternative bed options.
One day in one of my therapeutic mall wanderings (where I go to the mall alone and just look at things and enjoy a simple cup of coffee and check out the latest fashion and things but buy nothing), I ventured into Pottery Barn Kids. The expensive mecca of children’s nursery goods was filled with the latest things to beautify a space and I just let myself dream. I found this adorable set that I let myself love for a moment, and pondered what it would look like in a space my husband and I created. I decided that when we had our own place I would come back and pick cute things out for her, no matter how old she was. I would give her a nursery in his timing. Even if it was a year after she was born or longer. My heart whispered to God, I love this, but it’s not important for me to have for her arrival or even ever. But I do love it. I told him and then walked out before the tears started to flow. I cried on my way home letting the grief flow out that I couldn’t give her a room, but I could give her arms that would hold her and promised to love her no matter how many things we had.
I never told anyone about this set. Not even my husband. It seemed frivolous and inconsequential given our circumstances. Truthfully, I let it go and set about preparing for her to come in other ways. The occasional times I found myself in the mall again I would venture in and look at it and dream and then walk out and let it go again.
One day, my sister texted me a craigslist find. I call her the craigslist queen because the girl can find a deal like no one else. I am not particularly good at bargain hunting, something I could really learn from her. I haven’t cultivated the patience of combing through pages of used things that people are selling to find a treasure. My sister had been looking for a pack n’ play for me but recently had planted the idea of putting a crib in our room. She found a $75 crib on craigslist that was adorable. It needed to be refinished but really was in fairly good condition. I hadn’t pulled the trigger because I couldn’t wrap my brain around buying bedding for it. I opened the link she had sent me and discovered it was the very set that I had fallen in love with at Pottery Barn Kids. The entire set (normally around $300) for $40. It looked like it was in good condition, and had everything except for a bed skirt. I couldn’t believe it. I told her to see if it was still available and when she said it was, I cried.
We could afford it and it was my hearts desire and no one knew expect God. He had made it happen unbeknownst to the person selling it, and my sister finding it and picking it up. She picked up the crib for us as well and in a matter of three days we had a complete bed set with the bedding my heart had longed for.He surprised me with something that I had deemed impossible because he knew it would delight me.
Recently, my mom refinished the crib and helped me set it up in our room. We have an alcove that was meant to be a closet and the crib fits perfectly inside. I am delighted. I look at it still marveling at his provision. We turned half of our room into a nursery space, while the other half remains ours.
Baby Girl's Crib
I am completely in awe of how God took something that seemed impossible and honestly unnecessary and made it happen. It’s just a testimony of his goodness, his kindness and his love. He sees us. Even the desires we think are worth overlooking.
He really is the God Who Sees.
I’d love to hear your story of how God has surprised you recently.