Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Begins

It is a Sunday morning, the first Sunday in Advent, in fact, and I am allowing myself to lazily and slowly come to consciousness. My mind is not racing with all the services that need to be planned, the volunteers that need to be recruited, the youth group events that need to be coordinated... I'm just thinking about finding our home Advent wreath and getting it on the table, and having friends over tonight as my family always did on weekends in Advent, and making chex mix with my sister (another weekly Advent tradition in my childhood home). I'll go to one of two worship services today, the one that is likely to be more Adventish. And I'll do my best to rest and or prepare the home for the season...

... and the baby.

For the lack of parish madness is not the only difference this Advent season. For the last three Advents (or was it four?) I felt the grief of infertility more acutely than at any other time of the year. As I prepared to preach on improbable conceptions, hope, expectation... it was dreadful. And this couldn't have been sadder for me as Advent had previously been my favorite liturgical season. For the last several years it has been something to survive and that has been very sad indeed.

So, of course God would give this gift in Advent. Of course. To literally be in my own Advent as this liturgical season dawns, awaiting a holy birth... a gift finally given.

I don't know why I fretted about a possible early baby. There is no way this baby could have come before Advent. No way at all.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
         O Come, O Come sweet child of mine
And ransom captive Israel
         And bring to us your light divine.
That mourns in lonely exile here
         For we in darkness long did dwell
Until the Son of God appears
         Until the gift of you on us fell.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
         Rejoice! Rejoice!
         Sweet child of mine
shall come to thee, O Israel.
         shall come to bring light right on time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

5 days away (from the due date)

Though the baby could be a few weeks yet. I am not so uncomfortable that that thought scares me. Perhaps we could get a nursery together if we have a few weeks... But even if we don't we now have a co-sleeper ready by the bed (thanks mama v!), and appropriately sized diapers organized and hung in our bedroom, and clothes sorted by size into bins. And there is a sleep positioner ready to be picked up at the store at which we're registered which will make me feel better about having the baby in bed with us.

And today there was what sounds like it was a lovely shower in my hometown, in my parents' home, hosted by my mom (with help from friends). Towards the end of the shower a phone was passed around and I talked to just about everybody. My sister commented that it was like "This is your life" as we never knew who would pop up next and indeed there were folks there from all different parts of my life. A lovely book of blessings is heading my way as are many lovely gifts. I am so grateful that so many loved ones would assemble even in my absence. Thanks again, mom, for all your hard work on this.

Twas a VERY low key day today. Saw our guests off EARLY this morning. Then back to bed... slept in spurts... but slept in... spent much of the day lounging around. Think that's what I needed after so many days of doing so much. As tomorrow is sabbath I'll get another day of it tomorrow. I did sign-up for cable today... to ease the early months of breastfeeding. We haven't had cable since about a year into our marriage- 5 years! I'm a bit of an addict so it is like willfully bringing a drug into the house, but when our childbirth educator said, in one of our last classes, that in the first few weeks I'd be breastfeeding for up to 45 minutes every 2-3 hours... well... I turned to Kev and said "We're getting cable." And so we did. Even if the baby doesn't arrive on its due date, which will most likely be the case, the cable will arrive that day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

6 days to go- highlights

  • organized what baby stuff we have over the past few days, with the help of our marvelous houseguests, and we have A LOT more than I realized. And I thought we didn't have any onesies... we have LOTS of onesies.

  • actually got nine hours or so of sleep last night with only brief interruptions.

  • got lots of pictures hung on the walls in this house.

  • the guys picked up and put up a lovely Christmas tree today.

  • lost a knitting pattern at the mall tonight, went to the mall on black Friday to take a 4 year old to his first big screen movie experience, brought the knitting with in case the movie was tedious or boring, managed to leave it on the floor at the food court... sigh...

  • really, really tired.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

8 days away- the wisdom of a sister

So before crashing last night I strategized with my sister. What did we need to accomplish before our guests arrive? As the friend who is coming initially offered to help us with organizing the nursery I felt, therefore, that we should really have a nursery ready to be organized when she got here. But we don't. And that was stressing me a bit.

My sister asked, "Is organization of the nursery really your top priority this week? Are there other ways that your guest can be more helpful to you now?"

A flood of thoughts came to mind. I shared a few.

"Well, she wants to be helpful. And that's the help you need. And that's o.k.."

My sister pointed out that as she will be here until my mom gets here (over a month) and that as a nursery is not needed right away and that as she and my mom are willing and able to help with just about anything... it is o.k. to ask for the help I need.

It sounds so obvious, but thank God she is here because I'm not sure I would have arrived at this conclusion on my own.

So this morning we will continue basic house cleaning, will prepare space for our guests to comfortably sleep, maybe we'll get some more pictures on the wall, maybe. And we'll bake for the big meal tomorrow. I asked Kev if he wants me to plan a flow for the meal preparation and he said that was fine with him. The husbands are in charge of the meal, but I've been in charge of planning the meal, shopping for the meal, etc. So maybe I'll do one more step of planning. If time and energy allow...

While our friends are here I'll use her wise visual brain to help me figure out some puzzling decorating challenges for our general house decor, and will draw on her assistance to decorate for Christmas. I was thinking as I woke up this morning that perhaps organizing diapers and a changing area is a good idea. So maybe we'll do that too...

I am very blessed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

9 days away- cleaning

We haven't accomplished as much as I had hoped we would by tonight. But the kitchen is MUCH cleaner than it has been in a long time, and we've got nearly all the groceries we need for the week. And lots of laundry has been done. And our bedroom is closer to fit for birthing. We have guests arriving tomorrow who wish to help us continue to get ready for baby, but I'd like to be further along before they get here... it will be what it will be, right?

I began to tell my midwives in my check-up today that I was not getting any exercise and then I realized I had been on my feet cleaning or shopping most of the day and changed my report.

Monday, November 24, 2008

10 days away- naming

Frequently throughout this pregnancy we've been asked, "So do you have names picked out?"

I know some people keep quiet about their name selections.

I know some people can't quite decide, and wait until they see their babies face to face.

That's not us.

For much of this pregnancy my answer has been "3 and a half years ago we picked out names. Yeah, we know." And then we share-

If the baby is a girl- Caroline Grace- after my paternal grandmother and her mother (common middle name with me)

If the baby is a boy- Stephen Charles- after Kev's father, and his maternal grandfather (who died rather recently and was very dear to him. Charles is also a family name on my side.)

The girl name actually came to me in seminary. The first paper I ever wrote in seminary I was asked to write a letter to someone uncertain about Christian faith explaining to them why I am a Christian. I chose to write to my as of yet unborn child (this was nine years ago!) an explanation of why I would present her for baptism. The paper began "Dear Caroline Grace..."

I don't remember how the boy name came together or when, but it was a long long time ago.

I did waver on the girl name at some point in the last four years though, when my dear, dear friend Fran died. I trace my urgent need to conceive to the time I found out she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Something came over me then... how many people that are dear to me will die and never meet our child? It broke my heart that I wouldn't ever bring a bundle of joy up the many steps to Fran's porch where surely she, and likely Hank and Alan, would be waiting. Fran's hands would be clasped together at her chest in anxious excitement, and she would have swept that baby out of my arms and loved on him or her for hours. She would have loved that baby forever. As I've shared before, the last thing she ever said to me was "I love you and that's never going to change. Do you hear me? That is NEVER going to change." So I know she is loving this baby that she has never met.

Wow. I miss her.

Anyhow, when you are loved so unconditionally by one, so fiercely... and when you realize that your quest for a baby had some link to that person, it is hard to NOT choose to name your child after said person. But even though the two women named Frances whom I have known have been among the two most wonderful people I know, I just can't bring myself to like the name and bestow it to child. Especially when we're already blessing/burdening a child with a huge mouthful of a last name. And attaching Frances to that last name... it just doesn't work. And nick names for it aren't any better. So eventually, I went back to the family name and let it go. But I resolved myself to make sure my child knows about Fran, and, more importantly, knows about the unconditional love that Fran embodied for me.

I knew that it was time to post about names because we were at an open house on Saturday night that was FULL of little kids. We arrived pretty late (think I'll be writing about the reason for that on the other blog) and by the time we got there the wee ones had found the bowl of chocolates that the hostess had intentionally put up high thinking this would ensure parental control of chocolate intake. Well, not sure how they got to it, but they did, and they were gleefully stuffing their pockets with as many chocolate nuggets as possible (wrapped of course). I'm sure they were also stuffing their mouths. They were pretty wired. Anyhow, as I was in the kitchen/food area most of the night the kids kept circling by on their chocolate quests and I took the opportunity to meet them one by one. One five year old blonde girl tried to tell me her name and I just couldn't get it. She said something to which I replied, "Kayla?" Her friend (a five year old Sarah) said "NO!" And again, "Kayli?" Her friend said "NO!" She tried again and before I could slaughter it her friend, Sarah, said "Her name is CAR-O-LINE." The little girl smiled. I beamed and said "If I have a little girl her name will be Caroline Grace!" One of the moms in the kitchen said, "Wait a minute, I think HER name is Caroline Grace." She ran off... A little while later Caroline's mom came and told me that her daughter had told her I was having a girl baby and her name was Caroline Grace. I explained that I didn't know the gender of the baby, but that there was a 50/50 chance I'd have a Caroline Grace. The others in the kitchen, five year old Sarah was still there, asked for the boy's name, and when Sarah heard it she said "THAT'S MY DADDY'S NAME! HE'S A STEVE!" She was beside herself, her friend or her dad... we hit the jackpot, in Sarah's eyes, with our name choices.

But I did realize from this whole exchange that not only are we ensuring the literacy of our yet unborn child by assigning a VERY long name to him or her, but we're also demanding a lot from speech... Caroline isn't easy to say... and I'm not sure our last name is much easier. Stephen could be hard at certain points in speech development too.

Praying that the verbal skills of the parents rub off on the offspring...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

11 days away

I seem to be continuing my one great day, one bleh day pattern even now that the papers are done. I think the exhaustion of the last few weeks (of the semester, of the move, of the year???) is settling in as is the exhaustion of late pregnancy.

I have a post in mind about names. I thought I had shared the names we have picked and where they come from, but lots of people have been asking lately so maybe I haven't done so. Too tired to post it tonight though.

Just returned from a concert at a historic and lovely venue. Two good bands... a portion of one of the bands might be staying at our house tonight! Does that make us hip?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

keeping vigil

my sister was supposed to be here between 10 and 11.

but then a major road was closed, a detour necessitated, and now it is looking more like she'll be here at 1 a.m..

i'm keeping vigil, though i may fall asleep on the job. it has been a LONG (but glorious) day.

i'm realizing all sorts of things i've wanted to get done that i can finally get done... ah... but... probably not tonight. think i'll put in a d.v.d. and stretch out on the couch. maybe i'll sew some ends in though.

more mundane, but GOOD NEWS

  • Katherine, sister midwife, is in the same time zone now. Spent the night in Kansas and arrives TONIGHT!!!

  • Finally got the results of my Strep B test- NEGATIVE. Thanks be to God. I REALLY didn't want to have to make the decision about I.V. antibiotics (which can be administered at home-wow!) because antibiotics and me- we don't generally get along.

  • Midwife check-up on Thursday was luxuriously long. The apprentice, who will be at our birth, came. It is the first time I've met with her since our first appointment months ago. She is lovely. Just the energy balance to my primary midwife (who is also lovely, but different) that I need. She asked me lots of questions about my hopes for the birth. She asked specifically about what I anticipated from my husband... and I realized that I don't have specific anticipation except that he will be wonderful and attentive because... have you met Kevin? Then you know that no plan is needed for him to be on the spot with compassion. I got all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. They had left their stethoscope at the last birth they had attended so I don't know what my blood pressure was, but not too worried about it as it has been so consistently good. My fundus was measuring 39 (maybe this baby is really bulking up... or else it is all the cheese I've been eating...) My weight is up to 225. Baby's heart rate in the 140s. Baby still head down- good baby. We have a GREAT birthing team. Thanks be to God.

o.k., i will finish these papers... i will.

because... clearly... i don't REALLY want to finish these papers

... i'll blog a bit.

12 days.

I'm due in 12 days.

A year ago I thought I might never be pregnant, and now, in the holy length of 12 days I'm due.

Is this how Elizabeth felt as her womb grew heavier and heavier and tightened on and off, mostly imperceptibly?

Or Sarah? Or Rebekah? Or Rachel? Or Hannah?

Awe and wonder primarily.

There is a baby inside me. A BABY.

And like my foremothers in faith, I know not who this child is or will be.

Unlike my foremothers in faith, I've had no divine messengers or holy dreams.

Unless you count all the people who are CERTAIN they know the gender of this child.

And I haven't kept a poll, but... I think... they're split 50/50.

In my dreams, the few I've had about a baby since becoming pregnant, I've dreamed of a boy.

But my heart pulls a bit harder at the thought of a girl.

I just started reading about the earliest hours and days of a baby's life.

And I know that it. will. not. matter. at. all.

For a child will be born to us.

A son or daughter given to us.

And all shall be well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

she'll be on her way this morning!

My sister checked in several times yesterday as she packed for her huge road trip to come to be with us for the birth. Should she bring a backpack or a suitcase? We settled on suitcase. Do we have a copy of Penny Simkin's The Birth Partner? Yes. Was I at a computer, could I look up what size wiper blade she needs to buy for her car? At that moment, no.

I welcomed the many calls in my frustrating day of paper writing and I welcome the news that early this morning, Thursday, November 20th, she's hitting the road.

I've taken a couple of HUGE road trips in my day, the hugest of which I did almost entirely solo. She has a driving buddy for at least part of her journey, which is good. But a big chunk of it she'll be on her own. And though three months of alone time on the road was a little crazy making for me (o.k., it was a lot crazy making for me), the first few weeks were pretty glorious. And so I hope she enjoys these three days. Admittedly, I'm a bit jealous. I'd like to be on the open road about now, seeing different landscapes, listening to audiobooks and good music.

Oh wait, I'm 38 weeks pregnant today. I get painfully sore after sitting for longer than an hour. Guess I'm where I need to be right now.

In any case, I am SO grateful she's coming and SO excited she'll be here so soon.

She's planning to put in three at least 10 hour days of driving. I would guess that at least two of these she'll be on her own. I don't believe I've ever subjected myself to that much constant driving (I really paced myself on my gigundo road trips). So, friends, if you could please pray for her over these next few days I'd be much appreciative. I want her to arrive safe and sound! And I know she does too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dreaming of nesting...

... of ordering and cleaning the kitchen.

... of hanging pictures on the walls (finally!)

... of creating a nursery of some sort.

... of planning and prepping for thanksgiving dinner, maybe decorating a bit?

... of turning our bedroom into a suitable birthing room.

so much that normally might sound tedious to me sounds absolutely lovely to me.

but i have one more paper to write, then three to revise. hoping to be done by Friday! a day ahead of schedule! so the nesting can begin...

Monday, November 17, 2008

more shower pics

The mommy and daddy!

Some of the pretty leaves they gathered to put on the tables as decorations. IT FINALLY LOOKS LIKE FALL HERE!

Sarah with the fabulous hosts- Jenn and Tish!

My second mother, Debbie, and me. (My mom's best friend who lived with us for one year when I was in elementary school while she finished her doctoral course work. She is the first person who ever expressed confidently, when I was VERY young, that I would get a ph.d. someday. And she provided the houseboat for our honeymoon)

shower pics

Tish and Jonathan, half of the fab hosting team, with the very first cake they EVER made, with NO refined sugar, and it was yummy too!

The amazing spread and dear old friend, adrien!

The woman at the end of the table is named Melissa and she is a member of one of the two churches we've been attending, she and her lovely children represented the congregation marvelously. See that gorgeous homemade cake? She made it. And young Gabriel was in awe.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shower in 10 minutes!

Not sure who is going to be there.

Not sure what is going to happen.

But our houseguests will be there.

We'll be there.

Our hosts will be there.

And even that is enough.

Friday, November 14, 2008

a different tone for the start of this 37th week

I realize I was grumbly, anxious, moany yesterday... but... really... I had every reason to be jubilant, grateful, and full of praise of God.


This pregnancy has gone full term. Those anxious nights in the first trimester when I couldn't sleep and when I'd send positive vibes to the baby hoping it would dig in and stay tight... I couldn't believe then that this would actually come to pass, that we would really and truly have a babe in arms at the end of the year. I have been cautiously hopeful through this pregnancy, but I've also been self-protective- still not really relating to the baby as a person, for example, even now, not until I meet him or her will I feel able to do so (unless something amazing shifts in the next few weeks). But friends, the baby should be totally capable of surviving outside the womb now, even if I unfortunately go into labor before the last paper is written, it is o.k. now, truly. This is a major milestone. A milestone for which I give thanks, great thanks.

And the kind o.b. yesterday (HOORAY! A doctor with whom I'm comfortable should a doctor be needed!) said in more ways than one "There are no risk factors in your pregnancy. You have every reason to believe you will successfully birth this baby at home and will never see me again." He felt around on my belly and identified a head, a foot, a heel, a butt. Wow. There really is a person in there. And his confidence in the health of this pregnancy, his words of assurance- again, so much for which to give thanks, great thanks.

And so many at school are checking in with love and concern and admiration. One of my classmates called me "Shera" yesterday so in awe was she of the ways I'm keeping up with school in these last days of pregnancy. For this I give thanks, great thanks.

And two friends are joyfully preparing to host a shower for us on Sunday. I'm not sure who all will be there, but... we're so new here. To have close enough friends already to be able to have a shower, for this I give thanks, great thanks.

So... even though I'm still in crunch week, even though I didn't sleep much last night, even though I'm not quite sure how I'll get through today- I will because God is good. All the time.

And I give thanks, great thanks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

the midwives made it

bless their hearts- one on no sleep in 48 hours, one on 2.5 hours of sleep in the past 60 hours or so. but they were there.

and that helped the trust.

shaky trust

I'm diligently assembling an outline for one of the three papers I intend to write in the next 8 days (not counting Sunday); it is the longest of the three papers and it is the only one directly in my area so I want to do well on it. My goal for the day is to go through all my notes and assemble a very detailed outline so that tomorrow and Saturday I can write the heck out of this thing.

I shouldn't take a blogging break, but a phone call from my midwife has prompted me to do so. Today we enter week 37. As I understand it that means we are "term", our midwives are on-call for birth from today on. They are to be "at the ready". We were supposed to be meeting the midwives at the office of the back-up o.b. at 2:00 this afternoon for a consultation appointment. But I just got a call from the head of the practice saying that she has been up for the past 48 hours at a birth (and perhaps you don't remember, but she is due December 10th, just six days after me, so... I cannot even freakin' imagine functioning at this stage of pregnancy after 48 hours of no sleep) and her partner, our primary midwife as the head of the practice goes on maternity leave at Thanksgiving, has been up even longer because she worked a night shift at the hospital (she's a practicing R.N. as well as being a home birth midwife) BEFORE those 48 hours began. So... it looks like Kev and I may be on our own for the appointment. Which, I guess is no big deal. She told me what to expect and told me she would do her best to be there. I asked her not to endanger herself in so trying.

But here's the scary thing... the woman who gave birth this morning... had my due date. She had a urinary tract infection that prompted early labor (when my midwife shared this detail I gulped down as much water as I could handle immediately). And... they had to transfer to the hospital. Possibly because of the infection, possibly because the midwifery team was caught off guard- remember, for those of us due on December 4th, TODAY is when they consider themselves on call, not two days ago... not sure why entirely... but... sigh. It won't be the end of the world if I go into labor early or if I have to transfer to the hospital, but... can I be honest? The fact that only my primary midwife made it to the appointment on Sunday at which all three in the practice were supposed to make, the fact that they're likely not going to be there today (even though I totally understand), the fact that the woman who shared my due date just had lots go wrong, this is unsettling to me.

Baby... please hang on until my sister gets here. I like my midwives. And I trust them, for the most part, but not like I trust my sister... and this week's events just shake that trust a bit. I know that's not fair. But it is how I'm feeling and I wanted to get it out.

All shall be well.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

one month to go check-up/consultation

Both of our midwives and their apprentice were supposed to come over on Sunday afternoon for their one-month to go check-up/consultation home visit. Only our primary midwife made it, but that was fine. The head of the practice is due a week after me and likely won't be at our birth anyhow. I would like to see the apprentice at least once before the birth as we've only met once, at our first appointment. I need to let the midwives know that.

All was fine at the appointment. We have all our supplies in order (though we learned of a few more that our needed for the pool for the water birth). We did a test for strep B- apparently something a lot of women carry vaginally or rectally that can make a baby very sick. I REALLY hope the test is negative. Standard practice if it is positive is I.V. antibiotics during the birth. I am not interested in that- at all. My sister says that if it is positive she knows of natural things we can do to turn it around and that I should be able to feel very comfortable rejecting the antibiotics. My midwife is fine with me rejecting them; she just wants me to make an informed decision (at least the head of the practice feels this way and her partner seems even more laid back than she is).

My weight was up to 220. Wow. Highest I've EVER been... and I suspect that will keep going up. But my midwife thinks I'm still healthy and all is fine.

My fundus was measuring exactly 36- dead on for the 36th week.

My blood pressure was right around what it usually is. Healthy.

The baby's heart beat was hard to find at first, likely because of the way the baby is lying (still apparently head down and facing my back, very good baby... stay just like that!) but sliding around all the way to the side of my belly we could hear a nice loud heart beat. She never did say at what rate- or if she did, I don't recall.

I haven't dropped. The baby is still pretty high. This is FINE with me. I'm chipping away at my final paper preparation. I am very motivated to get done by the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but I've miles to go before I sleep on that front (not literally, friends... just took a nap this afternoon... sleeping through the night for the most part). I'll be please if there are no "labor is coming" signs (all of which we discussed at the appt Sunday) until the last paper is printed. I'd be very please if the baby would hang on until December. Yup. That would be fine with me.

Maybe I'll feel differently come December, but right now, the due date or later is FINE with me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


New sensation.

Not pleasant.

When I stand up after sitting for awhile- GREAT pelvic discomfort.

Apparently this is normal, the pubic bones and ligaments are spreading, getting ready.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Month From Due, Just After Celebrating the Election of President Barack Obama, BELLY PICS!

I got more compliments on my appearance tonight.... radiant... gorgeous... not sure why exactly. no makeup. didn't do my hair. not sure i was still gorgeous and radiant when kev took these pics at 12:30 a.m., but... we're way overdue for a pictorial update.
and given all the feedback it seemed like a good night to record!


BIG day

I've been chatting with friends as they wait in long lines to vote today or texting with friends who are so excited they could "pee their pants". I voted weeks ago thanks to the early voting that is possible in my new state, and the encouragement of one of the two congregations I've been worshipping with to do so.

Kev and I are heading to a classmate's apartment when he gets off work to ready fondue for an election night party there. I'm hoping to grab a nap this afternoon so I can stay up as late as possible. Heck, maybe I'll even indulge in some late in the day caffeine.

This is a HUGE day for our nation (maybe for our world).

But... it is a pretty big day in this pregnancy too- I am due exactly a month from today.

I was born at the tail end of Gerald Ford's pregnancy. My earliest years on earth Jimmy Carter was at the healm.

I will be THRILLED if a month before our baby enters this world, we receive word Barack Obama is heading to the White House, THRILLED if he begins to lead just a month after our baby enters this world. May it be so.

Monday, November 3, 2008

o.k. how about this one?

i think this template is better. do you?

i monkeyed with the fonts a bit...