Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Because Sometimes The Small Things ARE the Big Things

By Kelly

There are days, as a SAHM, when I’m tempted to be less than thankful.

I look around at the mess in the living room and the spilled pasta in the kitchen and the bad attitudes on the sofa (also known as my children), and I feel itchy and grouchy. My jeans chafe on my growing belly, and my heart chafes at the shrinking of my world.

I want to run away, as in physically get in my car and retreat to a quiet coffee shop where adults talk in quiet voices and jazz plays in the background and I can hear myself think. (“Hello? Anyone in there?”) But since I believe Big Bad Government frowns on grown-ups leaving three children alone, I do the next best thing: I grab my laptop and go online.

And it’s here, as I read through my Google Reader and peruse Twitter, that I remember how blessed I am. Because of the this fabulous fellowship we call the blog world, I am not alone. And you people – you remind me of good things. You encourage me – literally, you infuse me with courage.

Because of the wonder of the Internet, I can read about how an American living in Africa is reminded of our everyday richness. I can nod my head in affirmation at the thought that “in excess, there is emptiness.” (What an awesome reminder two days before Black Friday.) I can cry at the realization that in the Divine Paradox, the pendulum swing between immeasurable joy and unspeakable grief can be quick and, ultimately, safe. I can even laugh my head off at the companionship we parents share when our children refuse to sleep.

In the grand scheme this virtual camaraderie, is a small thing. I realize that. I am blessed because I have a God who loves me, who encircles me with His presence. I am blessed because I have three children and one on the way. I am blessed because God restored my marriage.

But I am also blessed because of you. So thank you. Thank you for being part of my Internet world, for offering me your friendship and your time and your thoughts.

I am awash in riches.

What blessing, big or small, are you most thankful for this year?

Kelly also blogs at Love Well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: The Spinach Can Wait

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

I remember my first pregnancy so vividly.

I remember being snarly and sick and wanting to die, TO DIE, during the first trimester. (Note: Some things don’t change.)

(Another note, and yes, I realize this is my second, but I’m pregnant so I think I’m entitled: During that first pregnancy, I was teaching a high school media class – which means I taught teenagers to shoot and edit video and we watched “The Matrix” a lot and I was still one of the worst teachers in the history of teaching – and I shared an office with a 22-year-old male teacher who was absolutely sweet and adorable in an Eddie Haskell kind of way. One day, when I was particularly grouchy and whiny and I was laying my head down on my desk every 10 seconds and groaning, he gently asked, “Are you OK?” At which point I got up, walked straight to our office door, slammed it, whirled to face him and snapped, “I’m pregnant!” Poor boy. Up to that point, I had never seen that kind of fear in another human.)

So where was I? Oh yes. First pregnancy. Memories.

I remember being so overjoyed once I hit the second trimester to realize that I got my life back, I tried to do everything right for that little one inside of me. I followed all the standard advice. I exercised. I took prenatal vitamins. I stayed away from sushi. I tried to eat a balanced diet. And for the first time in my life, I ate an inordinate amount of vegetables.

My habit was to eat one cup of raw spinach (which is a lot of raw spinach if you pack it in) each day, whether I liked it or not. I considered it my afternoon snack. It didn’t taste all that great, without dressing or icing or chocolate. But every afternoon, you would find me at my desk, dutifully munching along like a cow with her cud, until my plastic baggie was empty of greens. And I did it all for my baby.

By the time I was pregnant with my second, I was less diligent with diet. I didn’t even pretend to exercise. (I figured it was enough I was chasing a toddler all day.) I ate lunch meat and even the occasional hot dog.

And these days, now that I’m pregnant with number four? Well. Let’s just say I might consider a balanced diet one that doesn’t shift on my McDonald’s tray as I carry it from the counter to the ketchup bar. And vegetables? I haven’t had a naked vegetable since September. They make me gag.

I know it will get better. I’m just now entering the second trimester, which means I have lots of time to regain my sense of self, my sense of propriety, my sense of healthy living.

But right now? I’m so happy to be nausea-free, I think I’ll have some ice cream. I think the baby will be just fine with mint chocolate chip.

The spinach can wait.

Kelly blogs about her family, her faith and her love affair with food at her blog, Love Well. She would also like to point out that her oldest child is very, very smart, which she credits to the spinach.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: Milestone

By Kelly

I’m 13 weeks pregnant today.

Depending on which pregnancy book you read, I’m either at the tail end of the first trimester or on the cusp of the blessed second.

It doesn’t matter greatly to me. More important is that I’ve passed the 12-week mark, because that’s how far along I was in 2007 when I miscarried.

I don’t think it’s unusual for anyone who’s gone through pregnancy loss – be it an early miscarriage, a late-term death or even a stillbirth – to breathe a sigh of relief when they pass that date where everything changed. (See the touching 19-2 post at I Should Be Folding Laundry for proof.)

It’s a strange thing, but for some reason, our minds and hearts attach great significance to making it beyond that milestone. Intellectually, we know it doesn’t mean things couldn’t still go wrong. We also know the date of the last loss doesn’t necessarily have value. Statistics tell us 20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage these days. (In that sense, I’m right in line with the numbers, since I’ve been pregnant five times and one ended in a miscarriage.) So it doesn't matter, really, when we miscarried. It rarely means all our pregnancies will have the same sad end.

But cold statistics don’t ease the pain. A baby lost is a baby loved, a baby missed. Our mother hearts grieve that we’ll never get to know that little one this side of heaven.

Maybe that’s why we attach significance to the passing of this anniversary. Not only is it a way for us to move on and secure more hope for the baby we are currently expecting, it’s a way for us to remember the ones we miss.

And that's a milestone worth marking.

You can read more about my miscarriage here. But if you’re dealing with pregnancy loss, I also recommend you read this post by Molly Piper, who’s little girl was stillborn at 40 weeks. It’s also helpful for anyone who’s walking down the path of grief with a friend.

Kelly blogs at Love Well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pregnancy Journal: The Heartbeat

By Kelly

I still remember the first time I heard my baby’s heartbeat.

It was January 5, 2001. I was sick and miserable. I had never been sure I even wanted children. Now, deep in the throes of first trimester yuck, I was even less sure.

My husband accompanied me to my first OB appointment. We had no idea what to expect. I went through the usual pre-visit routine – urine sample, weight check, blood pressure, please enjoy this lovely paper gown and wait for the doctor.

When the OB came in, she asked a few questions then informed us she wanted to check for the baby’s heartbeat. We had no idea how far along I was – long story – so we were both surprised and intrigued. She squirted the goo on my stomach, plugged in what looked like a toy microphone and pressed it into my abdomen.

It took a minute, but then we heard it – the tell-tale sound of a baby’s heartbeat in utero.

And my life changed forever.

I wrote in my journal later that day:
I’m not exactly a pregnancy novice. I mean, almost all of my close friends have been through this process before me. So I knew that people talk about hearing the heartbeat in terms normally reserved for the Second Coming. I really didn’t think that I would be that extreme.

But it was really an amazing experience.

Maybe it was extra-special because we weren’t expecting to hear it. But when [the doctor] moved the sonar microphone over to my right side and we heard that distinctive “woom-woom-woom” … well, it blew me out of the water.

Then, to make things even more otherworldly, the baby moved – and of course, I didn’t feel a thing! It was so weird to lay there and think that I have whole other human being living inside of me – and I can’t really tell.

Wow. I’m still thrilled.

Shock and awe. I’ve never gotten over it.

This past Friday, at my 12-week OB check, I got to hear this baby’s heartbeat. It took a while to find, but all of a sudden, there it was. Loud. Fast. Strong. “Woom-woom-woom-woom.”

My OB grinned. I grinned back.

And my own heart began to beat in time with that little one.

I hope I never get over it.

Kelly is currently expecting her fourth and final child. She blogs about her life, faith and family at Love Well.