20 weeks

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A few weeks ago I found myself in a particularly desperate moment and wound up in Psalm 23. I was reminded what it means for God to shepherd me in both the daily mundane of my life and the times of painful crisis. What stuck out to me is where God shepherds me – He leads me beside waters of rest; He restores my soul. This means every step I take following Jesus is toward healing, because He leads me to Himself, into His love, where I can rest from my toil, once and for all.

Jesus led me into a place I didn’t expect and frankly didn’t want this week, but I see now how He graciously appointed this path for my healing and restoration– to give me a place to rest, and delight.

Tim and I are having a boy. At the risk of sounding completely selfish and unexcited for this baby, I want to share why seeing this beautiful boy baby on Tuesday night stung my flesh and also why I believe having him will purpose in healing my soul. (I’ll write more fun details next time, like the name we chose).

Since the moment I saw “pregnant” on the test in September I believed with every part of me this baby was a girl. I had chosen her name, envisioned our quiet, imaginative adventures, and bought her dainty polka-dotted rompers to wear this summer.  I read about old-wives tales over and over online and soothed myself as I reviewed my girl-symptoms: “I think I’m carrying high, right? I’m craving sweet and sour food, so maybe this is a girl after all? I’ve been breaking out like crazy, and I’ve heard girls steal your beauty. And my pillow faces the right cardinal direction and God knows I really want a girl and He just won’t withhold this blessing from me. Right??”

Convinced as I was, the night before the ultrasound I didn’t feel excitement – only knife-sharp anxiety that I wouldn’t see the baby I wanted to see. I cried and didn’t know how to verbalize to my husband the tension I felt. We talked: maybe it was the finality, like finding out I’m pregnant again. Maybe I’m scared something will be wrong with the baby. Maybe I’ve been idolizing this milestone of finding out the gender. I even thought about telling the ultrasound tech I didn’t want to know, just to guard my heart, or maybe mostly because I was afraid of dealing with the emotions that might come if I didn’t get exactly what I planned or wanted.

I’m so glad I saw him. I don’t usually react emotionally at first in stressful situations, but I was up all night meeting my bitterness face to face and asking very deep questions of it. My doubts rushed to the surface as I laid in bed thinking of this little boy we were chosen to have and raise. I calculated and processed. There must be a reason. This is God’s goodness to me.

We don’t always get the answers we need in pain. But God was gracious to take me on a little walk beside some still waters and show me a little of the healing path I had ahead of me.

I’ve shared that when I got pregnant, I felt jealous of this baby God was asking me to nurture because I wanted to be nurtured myself. I resented Him for prematurely ending my healing season and asking me to give all my time, love, and energy to a baby I didn’t even plan. In some good conversations and prayer I began to see maybe God wanted to continue or even prolong my journey of learning about His character and love through this little one. Maybe this baby would show me what it means to have God as Father and Mother, One who desperately loves and leads His kids. I was convinced after all that my months and years of self-focus were what truly drained me, and being a mom would make my heart and spirit more robust.

On Tuesday night I began to believe this was even more possible in the gift of a boy baby than I had imagined.

The questions and doubts I had about raising a boy pointed me to areas of my heart God might want to soothe and restore. I saw how deeply I wanted this baby’s childhood to be redemptive and new, and how mistaken I was to believe only a girl could satisfy that desire. This little girl was me.  I had pictured raising a “little me” to whom I could give better parents and a fuller, more loving life, one without fear or anxiety. I wanted this girl to be “mine” because I identified too closely with her. I thought she’d give me a way to more thoroughly redeem broken parts of my own history.

Instead, God gave me a different baby. One who I believe will be an agent of rest from my toil. One who I can simply delight in and discover. One who I’ll get to watch my husband lead in love toward manhood. God is protecting me from toil. He is giving me a gift. He gave me a boy.

How far along? 20 weeks, 6 days
Baby is the size of a: Mango, approaching canteloupe. My ultrasound tech called him a beanie baby at this phase, long and lean and soft. That resonates more with me culturally.
Total weight gain: 7 lbs last time I checked. I know, I know, I’m working on slamming the donuts.
Maternity clothes? Yes. I have two pairs of paints now, one with a full panel that couldn’t be more comfy. I’m limited to 2-3 other outfits that actually fit outside my maternity stuff. Short supply these days. Usually means I’m in pajamas immediately after work.
Sleep: A little tougher. Still love my maternity pillow (basically a huge body pillow) but I’m still awake 4-5 times a night to pee and I can’t sleep in too long without getting a headache from being hungry. God is probably preparing me for sleepless nights ahead.
Best moment this week: Seeing our sweet guy’s face!
Movement: All day long. Flipping, poking, turning.
Food cravings:  Chocolate donuts. Coca cola. All the good stuff. Don’t worry, I countered it last night with a huge kale salad.
Miss Anything? Probably being able to sleep more. And the holidays always mean parties where everyone’s sipping cocktails, which I wouldn’t mind. But it’s been good to find other ways to cope with stress and also discover adventurous NA drinks (a step up from a kiddy cocktail).
Symptoms: Hungry all the time and peeing all the time. And last week I had some gum issues that took me to the dentist. I guess preggo women are more prone to sensitive gums. And I had a bunch of popcorn kernels between my molars. No wonder.
Mood? Quiet and pensive this week. Super thankful for five days off!
Looking forward to: Absolutely time off work. We are heading to Wisconsin Monday morning to hang with my family and are both heading back to our jobs on Thursday. More days off the next week for New Years!

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18 weeks

“The road to faith passes through obedience to the call of Jesus.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“How fully should we be restored if we were perfect in obedience!” -Charles Spurgeon, The Obedience of Faith

Discipline and holiness sometimes get a bad wrap. I think that’s a little bit dangerous.

I get it: I certainly align myself with grace-centered theology. I am nothing without Jesus. But I know grace cost Him His life, and I don’t want to cheapen it with disobedience. I also don’t want to miss out on living out of my true identity and the folds of grace offered to me therein. I am a disciple! That’s what the word discipline comes from. To separate myself from discipline is to separate myself from who I am, who He paid for me to be: a sheep in His flock, following His lead as He ripens me toward glory.

Like a Shepherd, He does all the work in winning me to Himself, giving me eternal life, but it’s my choice if I will join with Him in discipline. How often I choose to go my own way in an easier current. I know He is living bread and water, but I choose to fill my mind instead with chatter that just doesn’t speak truth to me, totally missing out on an abundant feast. Even the most second-nature, tired choice is not neutral. Either I’m shaping my life to get a better view of Him or manipulating it to look more deeply into myself.

I love the “if, then” promises of Scripture where the causal relationship between simple obedience and rich grace is so motivatingly clear. Look what He offers when I engage with His rhythm–all the things I need so desperately. Peace. Refreshment. Strength. Enrichment. Streams of water. He abundantly provides when I “show up” in His presence, making my faith robust through the simplest acts of faithfulness:

“Oh, that you had paid attention to my commands! Then your peace would have been like a river.” -Isaiah 48:18

“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” -Romans 8:6

Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that times of refreshment may come from the presence of the Lord.” -Acts 3:19

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” -Isaiah 40:31

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched; he who waters will himself be watered.” -Proverbs 11:25

Our justification is by faith alone, but our choices in the mundane can shape our days. We stumble upon peace when we’re walking with Jesus. It’s a byproduct that can’t be avoided. He’s so kind to unlock these things for us in the Gospel!

How far along? 18 weeks
Baby is the size of a: My pregnancy app said dragonfruit. Let’s be real, none of us knows how big that is. I did a little reading and found sweet potato to fit better…and, it’s seasonal. Baby is just over 5″ long and almost 7 ounces! Working its way up to a whole pound soon.
Total weight gain: 2 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’ve gained a total of 7 lbs back after losing a bunch of weight from getting sick. I have no worries about getting bigger…which is why I’m eating every meal twice almost daily. :)
Maternity clothes? I still alternate between maternity jeans (I just have the one pair) and my normal jeans, unbuttoned and unzipped plus belly band. My preference is always sweatpants, though, or dresses with tights. I wish it was maxi dress season, because I’d be all over that. (Shoutout to Marley’s mama).
Sleep: Aside from my dog puking up socks two nights this week, pretty good. Seems like I want to go to bed earlier and earlier. If I hit the hay past 10, I’m super groggy and my eyes burn the next morning. That’s happened twice this week.
Best moment this week: I loved the long weekend and getting to spend time with lots of friends. I get another one next weekend, since I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off for our out-of-town visitors.
Movement: Haven’t felt much lately, but I read the baby is moving more than ever at this point.
Food cravings:  Nothing noteworthy. Still having a hard time with meat. Realized I haven’t had any red meat since I’ve been pregnant– I only like salty meats like ham and bacon and, sorry, corn dogs. Carbs are easier for me to eat than protein these days, though I am still loving cheese and yogurt.
Miss Anything? I really wanted a little hard cider on Thanksgiving, but, no can do. I also miss being able to sit in any posture I find most convenient, but my belly region feels a little crammed lately.
Symptoms: If I twist and turn the wrong way while sleeping, I wake up really sore. Time for a pregnancy pillow. I ordered one of those bad boys on Amazon this weekend, since I’m having a harder time sleeping on my side than I thought I would. It’s hard to give up sleeping on my belly!
Mood? Looking forward to one last Thanksgiving celebration with a big group of friends tonight. I guess that answers the next question, too…
Looking forward to: The next milestone – gender reveal in a two weeks.  Still definitely picturing a girl, but I could totally be wrong, and I’d be happy with either. We have names picked out for each sex, so I’m really excited to start calling the little bean by name. We haven’t decided if we’ll tell people, but knowing my general dislike for surprises, we probs will. 20% of readers probably already know our choices. :)