Thirty-seven weeks

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In some ways it feels like the pregnancy has flown by. Well, at least to me. Betsy might give you a different answer. When we found out Betsy was pregnant it was hot and humid. In the last month, Lucas has missed eight days of school due to snow, ice, and polar vortexes (vortices?). I guess the change in weather is as good as any indicator to show how far we’ve come.  This past Wednesday, Betsy reached week thirty-seven of the pregnancy. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point. Betsy recently went back on IV antibiotics. Her breathing wasn’t quite where it should have been and in an effort to make sure she is in the best possible place heading towards labor and delivery her doctors decided it was the best course of action. Betsy also came down with a stomach virus (which she got from Lucas, which he might have gotten from me) which has been pretty draining. Still, she’s made it to thirty-seven weeks and that feels like a pretty big deal!

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The day we found out Betsy was pregnant (miss you summer)!

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Thirty-seven weeks!

It’s particularly significant because Lucas was born at thirty-six weeks! The story goes something like this: unsuspecting couple is having a quiet night in; they decide to watch a movie; pregnant wife suggests some ice cream; dutiful husband goes to fetch ice cream; husband returns with ice cream only to find his wife’s water has broken; frantic couple rushes to the hospital; baby is born twenty-seven hours later. Just like in the movies! We were caught off guard, to say the least. Betsy was bound and determined that this time around there would be zero chance that we weren’t ready for the arrival of our little one. The baby’s room has been ready for close to two months. All of the baby clothes have been washed and put away. Hospital bag has been packed since about November. 🙂 The infant car seat was installed a couple weeks ago. We have the name picked out (true story, Lucas was born so early we hadn’t even decided on his middle name yet!). We feel ready!

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We’ve got a name, even if all my suggestions were rejected! 😉

Of course, we have no idea just how big a change we are in for. It’s been seven and a half years just the three of us. And in the last few, in particular, we’ve found a certain equilibrium. That familiar, family dynamic is bound to be disrupted with the introduction of another human being. Last weekend we had one last “Lucas gets to make all of the choices” day. After church and a quick lunch we headed off to a park nearby to check out some great horned owls who nested and had babies. Then it was off to an arcade for a couple of hours of fun and games. We finished the day seeing The Lego Movie 2 and snagging some of his favorite chicken quesadillas from Qdoba for dinner. Of course we are all thrilled for the arrival of our baby girl but we have also loved every minute of being a family of three!

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Betsy and Lucas tearing it up at the skee-ball lanes!

So, yes, all is well! We feel blessed. We feel ready. We have no idea what weeks 38-40 will bring! And we are looking forward to introducing our little girl the next time we post. 🙂

P.S. As it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I would take a moment to pay tribute to all of the extraordinary women in my life. First and foremost, my wife Betsy, who has done what seemed impossible and soon will be the mother of two all while educating children and finding all of my stuff! To my mother Debbie and my mother-in-law Mary who raised 10 children between them without even one iPad (how, I’m not entirely sure!) and who are now a huge support to Betsy, Lucas, and me. To my sisters Tina and Ede and my sisters-in-law Carolina, Kristi, Julie, Laurie, and Carrie who are all raising families and pursuing meaningful work. I salute you all!

Dreaming Still?

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Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid that you thought it was real? The kind of dream where you are almost surprised to find out it was a figment of your imagination? I haven’t! I almost never wake up even remembering my dreams.  I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for that. Betsy thinks it’s weird. It probably is.

Lately though I’ve felt like I have kind of been stumbling around in a dream. A vivid dream that feels real but hardly seems possible. Back in July we found out that Betsy was pregnant. Pregnant. We are overjoyed! It is a blessing that we did not imagine ourselves experiencing again. We had always wanted a second child and a sibling for Lucas but time and circumstances seemed to suggest that it was not a part of God’s plan for us. And, after a period of sadness and disappointment, we found true peace and were truly in love with our family of three. For the last seven years we have developed a rhythm and equilibrium and so much love among the three of us. And now we are going to be four? It hardly seems real.

But of course, it is real.

I am reminded daily by Lucas’s musings about his soon-to-be little sister. His excitement is palpable.

“Dad, do you think Lightbulb (we are keeping the real name a secret for now) will like animals?”

“Dad, how big is Lightbulb this week?” (Asparagus? Celery? Squash? I always forget!)

“Dad, I can’t wait to show Lightbulb her new room!”

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Lucas getting some practice holding his new cousin Elías.

There are other, daily, reminders that there is actually a baby on the way. Betsy is getting bigger and bigger. We can all feel the baby kicking regularly. Betsy has nearly eclipsed the 31 week mark. Generally speaking this pregnancy has been significantly tougher on Betsy.  She was really sick during the first trimester and there were some really rough days. Even some days when she thought she might not make it to 31 weeks. Still, she bore it all with a smile. Betsy’s lung function has held steady throughout the pregnancy and for that we are grateful. She completed a round of antibiotics over the holidays which actually gave her a much needed boost.

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There’s either a baby in there or an alien!

Still feeling the positive after the effects of the medications, Betsy has moved on to a serious nesting phase of late. Betsy has been busy washing up all of the baby clothes and setting up the baby’s room. Lucas was born four weeks early and honestly we could not have been less prepared. Betsy is determined not be caught off guard this time around even our little girl decides to make her entrance to the world before the due date.

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More pink this time around!

In spite of all the circumstantial evidence, sometimes I’ll still look over at Betsy and say, “WAIT. You’re having a baby?????” Most days I really do have to stop and pinch myself to be sure I’m not still dreaming. I’m pretty sure I’m not. 🙂

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Can’t wait to meet you sweet girl. ❤

 

 

Inadequate Words

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Today! Today is the day I’m finally going to write and publish this post. I’ve sat down to compose it several times and I just haven’t been able to find adequate words to describe what’s been happening in our lives the last four and a half months. I’m not sure there are words, but I’m going to give it a go.

We found out this summer that we are expecting another baby. Another baby! It still seems so unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting to share news of my 40th birthday and news of a new baby in the space of a few months. (Just for the record, this pregnancy has made me feel older than the hills. Welcome to 40, I guess!)

We have always wished for more children, but a few years after Lucas was born, it looked to us as though Lucas would be our only. I even wrote about it in a post called An Inheritance of One. We went ahead and grieved the loss of a bigger family and found contentment and peace. However, sometime after I wrote that post, we felt God calling us to consider that He may have another child for us. My first reaction was the plug my ears and hum. We had already done the hard work of letting go of that dream and I really didn’t want to take it up again. I knew opening my heart to this would lead to pain and struggle, and it did. However, we still had the desire and felt a strong leading from God.  We told God we would follow, although it was not without apprehension.  Right after this decision came a health crisis and years of fighting to try to regain health and lung function. It was confusing. It was heartbreaking. There were many very difficult periods during those years, and times where I simply couldn’t reconcile what was happening to me physically with the leading we had received from God. I wasn’t regaining all of the health I’d lost and I certainly wasn’t getting any younger. Every bump in the road, every downturn, every breathing test and doctors appointment was affected by this tension within me.

Yet this summer, after experiencing a stretch of improved stability, God gave us this gift of a new baby! His timing and plans don’t always match ours, and sometimes they don’t make a lot of sense to us. There’s a sort of a glorious absurdity to the fact that I’m pregnant now…at 40 years old with my lung function in the 30s, seven years after my first pregnancy. It’s not exactly what I would have imagined or planned. Yet it’s beautiful, perfect timing.

We are amazed at God’s goodness and are so grateful for this gift. It has not. been. easy. Almost immediately after I found out about the baby I began dealing with significant nausea and food aversions. I spend the first 17 weeks of the pregnancy hating almost every bite of food I forced into my mouth. Then there was the vomit (CF=coughing. Pregnancy=nausea. Coughing + nausea…I think you know where this is going…), and pervasive exhaustion. I’ve had a hard time sleeping, breathing, moving faster than a snail, leaving the house, and in general handling the normal demands of my life. But, yet, it has been so good. So good to fight for this, good to struggle for what we felt called to do. Ignoring God’s call or at least to giving it up when things were heading south would have been far easier and no one would have blamed us. But I’m so glad we didn’t. It has been a difficult journey but she is so worth it.

She. Did I say that yet? It’s a girl.

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Sweet baby girl.

One thing I’ve learned from having cystic fibrosis is that you cannot stop fighting for what is important to you, and you cannot stop fighting to live your life. Sometimes I fight for big things, sometimes for smaller things.  I know that if I don’t swim against the tide, this disease will sweep me away. There have been plenty of losses along the way. Loss is a reality for everyone with a disease like cystic fibrosis, and there is definitely strength and wisdom in sensing when it’s time to let go of certain things. Some battles are long and hard and I am disappointed in the end. Others, like this one, are long and hard with a great reward. It’s easy to say “Praise God!” when things turn out the way we want them, but I praise God for the disappointments, too. I know he has used them for my good, and my life is made fuller when I work and strive for good, even if I don’t get the result I want. The joy and pain, victories and defeats are all linked together to form the fabric of our lives. None of it is outside of God’s redemptive power. I’m reminded of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

In the end, we felt God reassuring us that if he gave us the gift, he would also give me the strength. This new baby is not likely to make my health better or my life easier. If this pregnancy is any indication, the next few years will be a challenge! But they will also be wonderful. Jaime and I keep looking at each other in disbelief. We cannot believe this is happening. We are so, so thankful. She has already enriched our lives so much.

I visited my CF specialist this week and we are grateful that in spite of feeling short of breath, congested and asthmatic, my lung function is the same as it was pre-pregnancy. My oxygen levels were still at 99%, my blood pressure, temperature and heart rate were normal, and I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight. It was such a relief to see these positive indicators. The bottom line is that although I feel worse than usual, my body is actually managing quite well.

Lucas has been beside himself with excitement since we told him about the baby. He regularly reads up on her development on my pregnancy tracker app. He has been counting weeks and keeps track of the baby’s size as compared to a fruit or vegetable. If you ask him he can recite, by memory, her relative size now (banana) and what she will be each week up to 40 weeks. He asks about the baby first thing each morning and when he gets home after school. He gives her (my abdomen) the sweetest most gentle snuggles and whispers words of love to his tiny sibling. He came with us to the ultrasound last week and heard first hand that the baby was a girl which was what he was hoping for! He was able to recognize her face, her feet and hands, and to see her tiny heart beating. There have been so many sweet moments.

He’s been very protective and loving towards me as well. Here are a few recent Lucas quotes that made me smile:

“Hey Mom, I’ll race you to the car! WAIT! No! Mom, don’t run. I’ll just race Dad until the baby comes, okay?”

“Mom, I’m sorry your life is so hard right now. Dad, aren’t you glad only girls can have babies?!”

“Hi Baby! It’s your big brother. I can’t wait to meet you!”

“It’s okay Mom, you don’t have to come to my practice tonight. You can just rest.”

“Whoa, Mom, I think your stomach is EVEN BIGGER than last time I saw you!” (As in five minutes ago when you got home from school?)

I had (mistakenly) told him I’d feel better after the first trimester was over so he planned and threw a party for me on the first day of the second trimester. He bought me flowers and wrote me a card. He felt I needed some new clothes for the pregnancy so Jaime took him to pick out some maternity shirts. He also wanted to buy gifts for the baby and chose some toys and clothes. It was so much fun! He was temporarily frustrated when I continued with the vomiting etc. into the second trimester but he didn’t make me return the gifts 🙂

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Blurry but sweet!

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Some toys for the baby.

He, of course, has no idea how much this baby will change his charmed only-child existence, but regardless, I think he’s going to take it in stride and make a fantastic older brother. He can’t wait.

So there you have it. My words, inadequate though they may be, to share our joy with you all. Hopefully this will be just the first of many posts about our daughter. Stay tuned.

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My very unprofessional bathroom-mirror selfie, in case you wanted a glimpse of my growing belly. 🙂