Phases

There were a few things about being a mother that I knew would be, but I had no idea about how they would play out in a practical way in my daily life. Before mommy-hood, I used to look around at my friends and family who had babies and consider that I would not do this or absolutely do that. Immediately after Ella was born, any judgments I had toward any parent my age fell away. It was not as easy as it looked and all those ideas of what it would be like that I had arranged in my mind also shrank down to nothing. Something about just getting through each day with a newborn helped peal away those opinions from before. I considered myself successful if we were both fed, toileted, and somewhat clean at the end of each day. Never mind what the house looked like. No shame, it took me three months before I could do my own laundry and sit somewhat comfortably on a chair. I quickly learned to accept the fact that we would always do the best we knew how and be as loving as we could. I continue to struggle to forgive myself when I make mistakes and know that all is really going to be okay.

It took me a few months to grasp the concept of phases.

One day, when Ella was just weeks old, she decided that she would not sleep unless it was on top of someone. David and I took shifts day and night, letting her sleep. At one point I was in the guest bedroom with pillows on all sides of me propping me up to hold her while trying to be in a position where I might sleep too. Reminded me of when I was pregnant, the pillows packed in all around my huge belly so that I might get in a comfortable position to get some sleep. He would usually prop up on the couch downstairs, again with the pillows all around. There are many darling photos we have of our sweet beautiful daughter asleep on someone’s chest, even smiling as she dozed sometimes. Well after two weeks of practically no sleep for mommy and daddy we had to find a way out. sleepingYes, we went to google. You say, wow it took you two weeks to do a search. Yes we did. Sleep deprivation no doubt played a part but when you’re a new parent and you find something that works, you do it, until you can’t do it anymore. And yes, we did try things. That wonderful swing, she enjoyed it at playtime, and it was the perfect angle to help her poop, but she wouldn’t let it lull her to sleep. Swaddling hadn’t worked before, but everywhere we read, said to do it, even if the baby is fighting in every way she knows how, just pin her down and wrap her tight. Our wits were at an end. We could hardly think straight. So we did it, she was kicking and squirming every which way (something she continues to do now…she kicks her legs all of the time), but we used cousin Becca’s miracle swaddle blanket and got her all wrapped tight. Then I took my shirt, milk splotches, sweat and all, and placed it in her bed beside her. We stepped back. It was amazing. The darling little weight of seven pounds we had been carrying almost every moment, was now asleep, in her bed.

This phase was over, the new phase—whatever it might be, was already beginning.

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What I wish I could tell myself 5 months ago..

If you told me any of the below before Ella was born, I might have not believed it true because of the pregnancy haze I was in. While I was pregnant many people were giving me advice that I may have taken it all with a grain of salt.

Don’t be afraid to try things. We attended both childbirth and breastfeeding classes in the last months of the pregnancy. Learned a bit. Mainly it gave me time to practice breathing. The breastfeeding class was good, I think it really helped me know what to do right away. But… it also made me wait too long to give Ella a bottle. I wanted her to know how to breastfeed well first. I wanted her to know how to drink from a bottle so that if I wasn’t around and she was hungry, she could still get some nourishment, it would also give David an opportunity to spend that time with her. Unfortunately we waited too long because in the class they told us about “nipple confusion” and I didn’t want our baby to be confused. Therefore, when we finally offered a bottle it took a lot of work and tears to get her to take it. In addition, I know there’s mixed ideas about pacifiers. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that sucking is comforting to babies. We also waited too long to give her a pacifier so she only took it for a little while and only in certain situations and hardly could hold on to it.

Tell people what’s what. Often visitors won’t know proper etiquette because this is their first experience with a baby and new parents. Speak up in a loving way. Explain how things are and express gratitude to them at the same time. It seemed that people didn’t know what my body had just undergone and it’s current condition. It was difficult for me to sit and walk for a while it was just strange. Having a baby is a wonderful and joyous time, and so it’s not the easiest to communicate that your body is healing, and you are also undergoing the most emotional changes you have ever experienced. Even mothers often forget that time in the beginning, maybe because it was so long ago.

Sleep. Now, many many people told us to do this. I’m not the best sleeper. Often I’ll get a second wind in the evening and end up reorganizing a closet, baking a loaf of bread or writing a blog entry. This only intensified in the nesting phase. I didn’t understand how important sleep would be. It’s not that I wouldn’t sleep, it’s that my sleep would be interrupted, maybe forever. Perhaps when I do get a chance to get some really solid uninterrupted sleep, I will have a habit in place that will be very difficult to break. But who knows? We’re not there yet. Oh and in the first few weeks I didn’t really care about getting sleep, I just wanted to spend time with my baby. It was the new mommy hormones, I think. I remember dancing and singing with her no problem at three in the morning. It was after three months of sleep deprivation when I really needed to sleep.

Really, FOLLOW THOSE INSTINCTS. But don’t be too crazy with it. Now, more than one close friend did tell me to do this. But when you throw in social situations, sleep deprivation and first times of everything, the follow-through is not so great. There were times when I just got an uneasy feeling and I should have followed what I was feeling. The result was just a grumpy baby or an awkward exit. We always recovered.

Forgive yourself. Let go. Move forward. Easier said than done. Kids are resilient. It really will be okay.

There’s nothing like experience. It’ll be tough but you will learn as you go. Just like in anything you do.

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Birth Story: Part 2 (of 2)

When the water broke we both jumped into action, I was telling David, grab the hospital bag, a towel for the seat, the binder with the birth plan and a number of other things I’m failing to recall now. Of course that baby outfit was still in the dryer. So we wouldn’t be bringing that right then. He told me he’d get everything, I just needed to get to the car. This time when I called the doctor and left the message, I said, my water broke, I’ll see ya at the hospital. While we were in the car, he drove and I sent some text messages and made the phone calls to our parents and a few friends. After an accidental wrong turn we ended up at the hospital just before eleven o’clock. David swung the car to the front doors and as we left the car just sitting there, I told him to lock it..to which he replied that he’d get me checked in and then come back to park the car. Well, he never came back to park the car. But he did mention that he wanted to three times in the labor and delivery room.

So when we arrived at the hospital, another couple was there too. The pregnant women seemed to be just fine. By this time, I was in all sorts of pain and the contractions were coming more. She said that I should go ahead, well of course I should..! I checked in, and they already had my bracelet ready for me, said my doctor had already called. A nurse offered me a wheelchair, I couldn’t imagine sitting down right then, walking was more distracting. She walked us to an exam room, to which I was very confused. I told her my water had broken like 30 minutes ago. She said, “what, your water broke; okay you’re going to a different room.” Up we went to the labor and delivery room. A few more nurses were in there. I got ready and onto the bed. The nurse checked me and she said I was between 8 and 9 cm dilated. As she read my birth plan and asked all sorts of health questions, she joked that well I was getting a birth with no-pain medication as it was too late to administer any meds anyway. Another nurse who was working on getting me set up said a few times that the IV needed to be put in. She tried on one arm and it wasn’t working so she went to the other. By this time I was quite focused and even though I know the contractions were more intense, I was managing them much better and they seemed to be less painful. Well one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was pushing. I let out the loudest scream I had ever vocalized. I’m not the loudest person and I surprised myself and I think the other people in the room as well. My doctor looked straight at me and sternly told me never to do that again. She said that I needed to put all that energy into my push. I listened. David held my hand the whole time and told me that I was doing a great job.

Ella Marie was born at 12:48am on July 4, weighing 6 pounds and 11 ounces, and 18.5 inches long.

She was (then, and is still) perfect.

~

Read my husband’s perspective here.

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Birth Story, Part 1 (of 2)

At 38 weeks pregnant, getting around was uncomfortable. I did just fine, but had to take it easy and not do too much in a day or else I’d be completely pooped. Two weeks before my due date, July 3, I started the day with a plan to do a few things but made sure not to go crazy with activity. I had a few errands to run plus I wanted to put the newborn clothes in the laundry. My hospital bag was packed. The car seat was in place. The birthing ball was pumped up.

 

I did a few things around the house and left about 12:30 to meet a friend for lunch. After lunch, I went to my haircut appointment, which was at two o’clock. After that, the “abdominal pain” started. Now, being pregnant, and especially toward the end when I was so huge, my body was feeling all sorts of weird things so I didn’t think much about it—I thought it was just part of the late pregnancy. It wasn’t noticeable at first, and for a while, I completely ignored it.

 

I was planning to stop at Babies R Us to get a cradle mattress pad and head support for the car seat…but since I was so close to church I decided to stop by to say hello and get a few addresses that I needed. When I was leaving, I remember feeling the pain come and go. Away I went to Babies R Us and while I was there, I had to sit down a few times. By the time I left that store, it was about 4:30. I remember feeling the pain while I was driving and glancing at the fuel gauge I noticed that the gas was quite low so I decided to stop at Costco to fuel up. While I was there I thought that I was so close to the grocery store I should stop to pick up some things, —stocking up the kitchen and pantry was on my to do list. But now the pain was really bothering me and I thought I should get going. So I skipped the grocery store and headed back home. I remember wondering if what I was feeling might be the Braxton-Hicks contractions that I had heard about…practice for the real thing. I thought that if this pain didn’t stop I needed to call the doctor and see what was really happening. By the time I got home, it was 5:30. I knew that David had a meeting then so I figured I would just check in with him a bit later so he could finish his meeting.

 

In retrospect, at this point in the day I was in denial that labor had begun. It was two weeks before the due date and David was supposed to officiate a wedding the coming weekend. I wanted him to be able to do that and for the baby to come the next week. But she was ready, little did I know…

 

I called my friend Amy, I had been with her when she went into labor about two years ago and thought I would get some answers. I just wanted someone to tell me if I was in labor or not. Now, the thing is, no one can tell you that unless you go to the hospital and get hooked up to a machine. Since I was in denial that this was all happening, I was not about to run off to the hospital to see. Amy and I talked on the phone for about an hour. I knew that if it was difficult to talk, then this was labor and it would have been progressing well. The whole time I never had trouble talking when the “pain” came. The contractions never seemed to come with any sort of regularity either. During our conversation, I came to the realization that if I was really in labor, this baby would share her birthday with our country’s. I was really nervous about it. Amy reassured me that would be fantastic; her birthday is St. Patrick’s Day and everyone always remembers! So it was a good thing. This was encouraging and I felt better about it. I hung up the phone about 6:30 and still wasn’t sure what was going on with my body (denial). I had been sitting for an hour and the pain was still coming. I put the baby laundry in the washing machine and cleaned a bit around the house.

 

At about 7 o’clock I finally sent David a text asking when he’d be home, if he finished his meeting yet. He called me back and I still didn’t tell him. I know, probably still in denial… He mentioned he needed gas and asked if it was okay if he stopped on the way. In my mind, absolutely he needed to get gas because that car had the car seat, and if I was actually in labor, we were headed to the hospital sooner than later and in that car, so it definitely needed to be filled up! We chatted about what to do for dinner and then I started cooking. The pain was coming more now. I did my best to ignore it. I threw together a salad and boiled some water for pasta. As I was chopping some mushrooms, David arrived home and I cut my finger. He shooed me out of the kitchen and told me to sit down and that he’d finish up. Then I told him about my so-called abdominal pain…and I finally called the doctor. My doctor was the one on call! Awesome. I told her that I was feeling a good amount of abdominal pain, which had started around three o’clock. She asked about my day, and then told me the possibilities. First, she said I had been pretty active during the day and it was also a warm day out, so I should drink a ton of water. Then she said I could be experiencing the early signs of labor or it could be Braxton-Hicks. She told me to pay close attention to the contractions and if they ever became consistent, I should know that it was labor pains and then to call again. In addition, she asked if I could feel the baby move. I said yes. She told me if that baby stopped moving I should go straight to the hospital. The baby was fine as long as she was moving.

 

We sat down to watch some TV while we ate dinner. I only ate my salad and about two bites of pasta. I just couldn’t eat. The contractions got more intense and more frequent. But they were still inconsistent. At the birthing class and in all the books it says to go to the hospital when it’s 5-1-5-contractions are five minutes apart and one minute long. All of the stuff that was supposed to happen for labor wasn’t happening, just the pain. They also tell you not to rush in to the hospital because labor is a long process and often people get sent home. So I was in no hurry. I went to sit on the exercise ball. That was a nice change. But the pain was getting worse. And I was feeling really hot. I went back to the couch. David was tired from his long day at work and by this point was googling on his phone about labor. I was having a difficult time sitting at the couch, and when a contraction would come, I would lay my forehead on the armrest and close my eyes. My back started hurting too. He got a text from Amy asking about what was happening. He called her back, handed the phone to me, and ran upstairs for something. I talked to Amy for a minute saying that I still wasn’t sure what it was (denial) and then said goodnight, she was headed to bed. There I was alone in the room. This horrible feeling came over me. I could not be alone!! I started to cry. WHERE WAS my husband, and why had he left me alone in this state!? Well, when he came down he was surprised at my reaction to him being out of the room for about three minutes. I stood up and hung my arms around his neck, closed my eyes, and rested my forehead onto his shoulder. Letting another contraction pass.

 

It was getting later, sometime after 10 o’clock. Now my whole body was feeling freezing all of a sudden. I went from hot to cold. He was tired and said okay, either we go to the hospital or we go to bed. Well there was no way I could sleep like this. I went to change into pants and got a sweatshirt, I even put on my warm slippers because I was so cold. He decided to run me a bath thinking that might help. Upstairs he went. I followed a minute later. I stepped into the bathroom and my water broke. Relief rushed over me as the fluid drenched my pants and slippers. Clarity. Finally! This was really happening. Now. We were about to meet our baby girl.

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Nesting

Overnight I changed from feeling tired and wanting to nap to looking around the house to work on anything that I possibly could. I have this ongoing list in my head of things to do: prepare meals to freeze, specifically: mix a few batches of pizza dough to freeze, organize a phone-calling tree to share the good news, charge the camera batteries, get the baby monitor and set it up, clean some baby clothes and linens (but how many?!), organize the garage, stock up the fridge, make sure all the bills are paid, get a haircut, vacuum, dust, mop, etc. I’ve played out different scenarios in my head, like if I were to go into labor this evening, would we be running around the house doing last loads of laundry and throwing those last few things in the hospital bag? Or if my water broke when I’m at the grocery store, should I drive home or call D to pick me up, but then what about the car? Then I just have to practice my breathing, wait…have I practiced it enough?? Will I be able to relax my body like we practiced in birthing class? Maybe I should stop writing and just breath right now.

This phenomenon that occurs later in pregnancy where the mother has the urge to get life in order to prepare for the baby is called nesting. For me, it started a few weeks ago when I had an overwhelming feeling and all I could do was sit still and write down everything that was on my mind and which I felt needed to get done before baby arrives. The list was four pages long. The list will most likely not get completed based on the time we have left. Why, some things we’ve been working on for seven years and haven’t accomplished. Is anyone ever really ready? Knowing that no one ever is, is comforting.

Just around the nesting phase (which apparently can start at any point even in the end of the second trimester), my belly was huge and people often were asking me if I was ready or if I had gotten everything I needed for the baby. Of course, I also started hearing comments like “wow, it looks like she’s dropped” “do you have your bag packed for the hospital” or “do you just feel like you’re ready to have this baby?” When the questions started coming I knew that our baby girl’s lungs hadn’t fully developed (based on the books I had been reading and my weekly updates from a few apps on my phone), so I wasn’t too keen on the ideas I was hearing. Now that I’ve made it to week 37, I am breathing a bit easier as the same comments come my way. The 37-week mark means that I have come full term and the baby will be just fine if she decides to arrive any day now.

We can’t wait to meet her!

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Soap Box #1, part 2

A few years ago, before D and I went to Africa. Before we were called to this church in Orange County. While we were still living in San Diego, I was working as a teacher. This thing happened to me, I wanted to have children. Now I’ve heard that it happens to many people. And when I wrote the post below, this was happening to me. But it was not time yet. I know well that there are seasons. God has reminded me so many times that I am not in control, and the more I give my life to God, the less the worry surrounds me. God takes away that fear and anxiety and replaces it with trust and peace. Over and again I take my life back, thinking I should control it, and then I turn back and give it to God. We are in the middle, constantly having to return to God for grace. I have not arrived. But will be in a constant state of coming to God for grace. I wrote the post below when I was only seeing what was directly in front of me, my wants and desires were in the way once again. But it shows how delicate we are. Which means we should always be so careful in how we interact with the hearts around us.

~

One day (a few years ago), while out to dinner with some friends and some acquaintances, I was asked questions that made me feel very uncomfortable. Starting with, “are you going to have kids?” followed with, “how old are you?” I was half expecting the next comment to be, “well, you’re # years away from thirty-five, so if your kids are going to be more than a few years apart, you better get crackin!” or “you have # years of fertility left, just keep that in mind!” I felt like running into the girl’s bathroom to cry. I felt my heart pounding in my chest. I’m not the best at thinking on my feet. After reflection, I tend to have good comments or questions to share. However, in the moment, if I’m getting worked up, my responses are horrible. All I could say was, “when the time is right” and when asked my age I just said it. I wanted to escape before I was asked about my fertility strength…especially while sitting down for a meal. I took deep breaths, fighting back any facial expressions that would reveal my freaking out. I exhaled and calmed down the longing, only letting my eyes water a little. Thankful to be sitting in such a darkened restaurant. I wanted to say, “yes, we would love to have children!, but why do you ask? I mean, I’ve just met you! What makes you think it’s actually normal to ask me about my reproductive system!?” I would never ever say that second part, but I did think it.

While I was having a conversation with a very loved, respected and close friend of mine, she mentioned that she and her husband were planning to start “trying” to get pregnant, perhaps in the near future. When all I wanted to do was share joy with her, and as the words jumped out of my mouth that it was so exciting and wonderful to be in that place, my heart sank with a rush of sadness and at the same time my desire to have children too was evident. Before I could stop it, my throat tightened, the sides of my mouth were pulled downward to a frown, and tears spilled down my cheeks. My pain was quiet for a moment and then she asked me. I was so flabbergasted at my own reaction and it became so clear that all I wanted was to be a mother. To give my life up, to serve and nurture. Just knowing that, when I give up my life…I come alive. Knowing that when I am selfless and fully focused on loving others is when I distinguish slightly more the presence of God. God wants us to love. To tiptoe away from our humanity just a little. This selfish disposition that we hold. We clutch so tightly to stuff that makes us feel significant, always trying to be the most important, the better one in the room. Who has the coolest stuff, the nicest house, the kindest heart, the best creation. We’re always comparing. Even if in small ways. When I see other people and their joy. I want it.

It comes to this: I want to be a mother. There is a time. A season. If God chooses to bless me and humble me in that way, I will give thanks.

~

Now, the timing is here. Well, this baby is still in my belly, for another five weeks -give or take. I am needing to turn to God in trust and prayer. To know that she is healthy. That the labor and delivery will be okay. That God will carry us as we become parents. Now that the time is so close. I once again, need to turn to God and rest in the trust and peace that is offered.

What season are you in? Are you in a time where you are trying to control, do you need to give it up to God again?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

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On Turning Thirty.

The day kind of came and went like a cool refreshing breeze. The world around me built up this day as if it was something to conquer. To me it was just another birthday to enjoy and thank God. Thank God for life.

Growing up, my family had this tradition: you could do anything that you wanted on your birthday. It was your day. I remember getting out of school early and going to the toy store to pick something out. In middle school, once I left school early and went to a fancy restaurant for lunch with my mom. As I’ve gotten older I have just made sure I got to do something special, treat myself. One year I woke up early and before work and went out for a croissant and a latte. Last year we visited Malingunde where I got to see some monkeys and later our friends made a birthday dinner and even a cake! This year, D made me breakfast, I went on a morning walk and took some photos, next I went to work, then to a Farmer’s Market in the afternoon, ran a few errands, and after that went home to rest. D came home a little early to take me out to a fancy dinner. We went on a walk after dinner because it was still light out. I got to spend time with my best friend. It was good. I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

It’s not so much what I do on that day as it is how I choose to see it. Taking that day in through the lens of peace. Maybe it’s abandoning the piles of laundry, dirty dishes or dusting and getting an ice cream and taking a walk at the beach. Praising God that I’m alive and being grateful for the people God has placed in my life.

When my husband turned thirty last year, he wrote a blog post about what he wanted to accomplish in the next five years. I am not going to do that, only because to be completely honest, I’ve tried to set big goals to attain written on a list; I fail miserably. I am proud of him, that he can say to the world what he wants to do and then go after it. This Memorial Day weekend he went to the Indy’ 500, to a game at Wrigley Field and we’re expecting in July, so that’s a few down already.

This next decade holds a new season for us. We will become parents. My birthday next year will look much different than it ever has. As for being thirty, I’m feeling just fine.

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Words for a Mother-to-be

With the world telling us that whatever we do is just not enough, here’s a little love and encouragement from some friends… (the words just made me smile so big I had to share)

You are capable of being the perfect mother for this child. Trust your instincts and be confident in what you know is right for your family. Use your phone to communicate anytime you need or want help! You are loved and friends can’t wait to serve! Know that God blessed you with all the gifts you’ll need to be a great mommy! Have your husband get up with the baby after the last feeding at 6am or so and let you sleep for a couple more hours.                   Sleep whenever you can, wherever you can. Find good movies to watch on Netflix with your husband when you’re up at 1-4am. Ask for help. Snuggle, snuggle, snuggle! Have a well-stocked first aid kit! Always inspire her to dream big and reassure her that she can do anything. Just love your baby! Make bedtime special when she’s older. Read a lot (to her)! Sing a lot! Do what feels right. Forgive yourself. Enjoy seeing the world through new eyes. Never sit down to nurse without a glass of water. Pray a lot and have fun! Use friends to help baby-sit! Have your husband bring the baby to you during nighttime feedings. Having children is the greatest and hardest thing you will do in your life… Trust yourself, trust the Holy Spirit in you… He will be your guide. You know what to do!!! Skin to skin really works! It was my favorite moment. Trust your instincts.. Let people help you.. don’t try and do it all yourself.. Go to a mom’s group! Join a playgroup early, it’s really for the mommies! Let others help you when they offer, they WANT to help. Love your baby lots! Stay true to yourself and feel free to ignore the advice of all the moms… You are going to be an amazing mom! Just because you’re amazing!

Feel free to add more in the comments section below!

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Distractions

An aspect about life in Africa was the clear focus we were free to have on God. The media didn’t infiltrate every aspect of life. My days were filled with cooking, praying, reading scripture, being with people, teaching, and so forth. This was difficult because the culture from which I came is not one that is filled with those things, anymore.

We eat out much of the time, because people finish the day and are “too tired” to cook. Sometimes we even forget to eat breakfast, but instead we drink that cup of coffee to get us moving in the morning. Coffee is a delicacy, but here it is essential. In Malawi, often cooking means that we build fires, especially when the power is out. It means cooking ndiwo and then nsima in pots. It means the whole family gathers from their respective places, be it work or school. All eat and rest at the lunch hour. It is not rushed. The fastest cooked food is boiled in a pot for ten minutes.

Prayer is what people do on Sundays or Christmas or Easter, here in America, and because we are so comfortable most of the time, we only pray when life stops going along with us. In Malawi, people pray because God has called us to pray without ceasing. They pray at five o’clock in the morning each day, they wake up in the middle of the night to pray, they pray at every meal, before and after every car journey, at night after dinner they pray. They pray together. Community is how life is in Malawi.

In the hot season there is this time of day about two o’clock when it’s too hot to do anything. One must only sit and be. It is a forced break.

Here there are so many happenings that our eyes are on the doing this or that and I find myself at the end of the day without having prayed or read the bible. Not because I didn’t want to, but only because there were all those things keeping my attention and I went from one thing to the next without stopping in between to be. Praise God that He helps us remember and come back.

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There’s a baby in my belly…

So, I’m pregnant.

It is has been fun sharing it with our little world of family and friends and now I have a new inspiration to write about. Don’t worry… I won’t share too much information.

It has always been my dream to be a mom. It is the closest I will ever get (before I die) to understanding how God sees me. It is also the closest I will ever get at giving up my life. That is how I see becoming a mother. Life changes completely because, all of a sudden (well after about nine months), there is this little person depending on my husband and me for all her needs –physical, emotional, etc. I also know that becoming a parent will be the greatest challenge, ever.

A word about the cravings..

It hasn’t been much different than usual. I have really only craved a few things: gummy sour candy, fruit, and red meat. It seems that more often than craving a certain food, I’ve had moments of just being really hungry or thirsty. Recently, I just can’t get enough water.

The things people will say or do…“Wow, you are looking so big!”

For the first six years of marriage, there were always questions about when we were going to have kids or if I was pregnant or not. I even remember the first Sunday at church after we returned from our honeymoon someone asked if I was pregnant. Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t think on my feet so well because I would have said some things that wouldn’t have been too kind. Now that we are expecting, the comments have changed and are sometimes accompanied by awkward touching.

Would it be okay to touch someone’s belly if they were NOT with child? Nope. I can only assume that it happens because personal filters or boundaries are lacking. Perhaps they are just so excited and cannot control themselves. When my body hadn’t changed at all (that you could see) there were still people who, upon finding out I was pregnant, just felt compelled to reach out and touch me. Without asking, they just walked up behind me and reached around to put their hand on my stomach. I have had the chance to discuss this with a few friends, some have had complete strangers come up and just touch them. It’s just weird, and please if you’re reading this, do not touch people on their stomach when they are pregnant. If you’re curious, ask permission.

The kinds of comments and questions I love are from children. Soon after I started working with kindergarteners and they knew my name they were ready to bring up the fact that my tummy was protruding. It was cute. “Mrs. Rohde, is there a baby in your belly?” Then with a smile and a giggle they would go on to ask about names and offer suggestions. I’ve noticed that the names they chose were often a best friend’s name. Just yesterday at church, a little boy asked where my children were; I was happy to share that my child hadn’t been born yet, and was right here. The girls in the vicinity went on to discuss names. However, that boy wanted to know how that baby got in there. I just said that God had a big part in the matter and changed the subject.

Unsolicited Advice…

More often than not, when I interact with people who are older and “more experienced” than I am, there is unsolicited advice. I hope, when I reach their age, I can remember what I’m experiencing now. In Malawi, people older than me told me how to dress. Some of them were baffled that I didn’t have a child yet. Here, I was told that I should have worked for a few more years and then start thinking about having children. Just because you’re older, doesn’t mean you can give advice to anyone you just meet—especially when they don’t ask for it.

So far, the most amazing thing about being pregnant is when the baby moves. I felt it for the first time when I was on the airplane on my way to visit a friend. I was traveling alone and just when I was feeling like the air was thickening around me and felt a bit trapped because I needed to use the toilet but the fasten seatbelt sign was on, I felt her move. It was like God was taking that moment and reminding me that I wasn’t alone, not only was He there with me, there was a little person in my belly. My mindset changed right away and I knew we’d make it, together.

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