"Carry You, Momma"

Dominic’s language progression is about as normal as my other kids.  Some things have come a little fast, others not as fast, but overall, he’s learned to communicate with us rather well at this point (he is just about 30 months old).
One of the cutest things he says is, “Wah-nah Cay-wee You, Mom-ma!”  (I want to carry you, Momma.)
This is what he says when he wants me to pick him up and hold him.  I thought perhaps this little “-ism” of his had gone by the wayside because I couldn’t recall hearing it all that often lately.  But tonight as he was laying in bed, trying not to go to sleep, crying for me, I went in there and he said, “Cay-wee you.  Cay-wee you.”
So, I picked him up and held him and swayed with him.  Moments like that kind of get to me.  Especially with another baby on the way.  Pretty soon, Dominic won’t be the baby.  I mean, he’ll always be MY baby, and all that stuff.  But his world is about to be rocked as someone new and smaller joins this family and starts taking the lion’s share of my attention (in his eyes).  
It also made me think of what he was saying.  Even though he wants ME to hold/carry HIM, his language skills don’t convey that message and he says that HE wants to hold/carry ME.
It kind of made me think of how my prayer life goes at times.  Sometimes, when I’m praying to God about my struggles and my worries, I feel like I’m trying to place them at the Lord’s feet…but my words are all about me and how I can help myself…what I need to do, what I want to happen.  Sure, I often tack on, “oh, but THY WILL BE DONE, oh Lord!”  But do I really mean that?  In reality, am I still trying to do everything myself and solve all my own problems and get my way in everything?  Am I trying to convey, “Carry me, Lord” but incapable, due to my human state…so instead, I’m saying, “I’ll carry you, Lord” when that’s so incredibly impossible?  I mean, how often am I communicating with the Lord as though I am a simple 2-year-old who can’t quite comprehend and definitely can’t communicate what she wants?
I had to go back into Dominic’s room a second time tonight, which is rare.  Usually, I don’t have to go in and hold him at all…he usually lays right down and falls asleep quickly.  But, I went back in as he called for me, “Mommy.  Mommy.”  I laid my head on his pillow.  I reminded him where he was going tomorrow and that he’d be able to play with his friends.  
And then I asked him…”Do you love me?” and of course he responded, “Yes.”  And I told him I loved him and good night.  I didn’t hear any more from him after that.  I don’t typically ask my children that question.  Sometimes they offer up an “I love you” or they say it in response to my declaration for them.  I really don’t know what prompted me to ask it of my 2-year-old tonight, but for some reason, the words came out.

And even that exchange reminded me of my relationship with God, at times.  Sometimes I wonder if He feels like He must ask me, “Do you love me?” 

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7 Quick Takes (6)

Jennifer had her baby this week!  A big thank you to Hallie at Betty Beguiles for hosting this week’s 7 Quick Takes.

And now…7 Ponderings of Late Pregnancy

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My hips ache.  Sleeping is the biggest culprit because I will sleep for several hours at night on one side.  Whichever side that I sleep on typically has a sore hip the next morning and I limp around in the midst of my waddles.  I’m quite a sight to see.

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I had two summer babies first.  Then I had two winter babies.  I have to say that a summer pregnancy/baby – even with the heat and overall discomfort – suits my mental state much better!  With Helen and Dominic, I was depressed for the entire third trimester.  Of course, I didn’t recognize it really until I was going through it (again!!) with Dominic, but looking back, I was horrendous to live with and I moped a lot.  I’m not saying I am a peach these days, but compared to this stage of pregnancy with Helen and Dominic, I really am a dream.  🙂

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Is it?  Or isn’t it?  Labor that is.  I’ve never gone into labor completely on my own.  With Sarah – no hint of a contraction!  With Dani, either.  Helen just gave lots of opportunity for stretching and a few braxton-hicks contractions here and there.  With Dominic, it was mostly Braxton-Hicks contractions and never consistent or enough to make me wonder if I was in “real” labor.

This week, however, I have felt “crampy” (for lack of better descriptive word) basically all week.  Monday was during the day.  Then Tuesday and Wednesday nights, until I went to sleep I had these “crampy” feelings and then Thursday morning, they started really early, but fizzled after my mid-day doctor appointment.  Needless to say, I really have no clue what the start of true labor feels like and I continue to believe there’s no way I’m having this baby before his due date naturally.

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Believe it or not, but I am actually looking forward to a diet a couple of weeks after I have this baby.  I am such a goal-oriented person…and having a goal of losing my baby weight is just one of those things that gets me focused like nothing else.  Now…I wish that I were a good pregnant woman and was able to simply gain only the weight necessary for my healthy baby…but unfortunately, my metabolism doesn’t cooperate with my wishes and I really just don’t have any willpower when I’m pregnant.

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Something else I’m looking forward to?  My first three mile run about 8 weeks after I have this baby.  And I’m also looking forward to my first hour long swim workout.  oh, to move….really MOVE again!!!

I really do enjoy pregnancy for the most part.  Sure, my hips hurt, my back aches and I get swollen.  However, I do enjoy feeling the baby move, caressing my baby bump, and wearing tennis shoes to work.  But my body is not my own.  I don’t begrudge it, but it is so nice when I get it back and I can really move again.

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I will miss pregnancy when it’s gone.  I’ll miss the kicking.  I’ll miss playing with the little guy in my tummy.  We have this game where I push on (what I think is) his bum and a little to the right, he will kick me with his foot.  I will miss being able to tell the doctor where he will find the little guy’s heart beat.  He always puts the doppler on my left side of my tummy and I always say after a second…”over on this side, doc…you always hear his heart over here.”  And he moves it and sure enough, there’s that heart beat.  I will miss having him all to myself and only sharing when I feel like it.

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What I can’t wait for the most is laying this baby on my chest and cuddling him next to me for hours at a time.  I can’t wait to put my forefinger in his little hand and feel him cling to it.  I can’t wait to watch him turn to me as he hears my voice…recognizing me immediately and wanting me to snuggle and hold him.  I can’t wait to give him a bath and massage his little legs and put a diaper on him.  I can’t wait to see his Daddy holding him and see him cuddle his Daddy.  I can’t wait to see how the older kids bond with him, play with him and love on him. 

It will all happen so soon and it will pass far too quickly.  But it will be wonderful.

Go visit Betty Beguiles to check out more Quick Takes entries today!

Have a terrific Friday!!

Open Letter to Baby #5 (again)

To my dear, sweet baby boy,
In just a matter of days, I will see your face and hear your voice for the first time.  The excitement builds with each passing moment.  For a three hour period yesterday, I thought perhaps it would be last night as I had some mild contractions every 15 minutes for about 3 hours.  But then things returned to their calm state.
It humbles me, this anticipation.  Even though you are my fifth child, this is the most relaxed I have faced an upcoming birth.  In the past, I’ve been worried and scared.  How much pain?  How long would I labor?  Would labor begin on its own, naturally?  Or would I have yet another induced labor?  Will we be able to adjust?  Will the kids adjust?  What if you’re sick?  What if I get sick?  So many questions that could never be answered and the worry is irrelevant anyway.
Today, I think of the contractions and the pushing and I know a certain peace.  My due date remains 2 weeks away and yet, I have a sense of calm understanding (as I feel my second cramp of the hour) that tonight may very well be the night.  I know how my body does this.  I know your dad will be there with me helping me through it all.  I trust the doctor completely to do his part in all of this (and because he’s so great a doc – he knows his part is fairly limited). 
Your siblings get more excited every day.  They continue to pray that you are healthy.  Helen asked me tonight if you could hear her voice.  Then she gave me that breath-taking smile and sighed in wonder and amazement as I informed her that, barring any hearing problems, yes, you would be able to identify her voice and you can hear her playing and singing and talking to you…even now. 
Daddy and I have decided on a name.  We’ve done this with each child.  We’ve known the name before we’ve seen the face of our precious baby.  And you know what?  The names have always been perfect.  I know your name is perfect, too.
Many ladies at church have approached me to tell me they are praying for us.  And they are praying that you decide to come early.  I simply smile.  I say, “that would be nice.”  And I know the likelihood of that (based on history) is small.  But I’m grateful for the prayers.
We went through boxes of baby clothes this past weekend and washed, dried, folded and put away your things.  I know you’re going to be a big boy, so we loaded up the outfits that said “NB (5-8 lbs) into  a box for another baby, perhaps your cousin who will be born in three months.  We set up your crib and hung curtains in the room you will share with your big brother.  I even bought a package of size 1 diapers.  And I packed my bag for the hospital.  I think we are ready, should you decide to be ready.
You are such a special boy.  Did you know that, like you, your daddy is the youngest of five children?  And his daddy was, too?  I think that gives you a special rank and privilege…somewhere.
When I think about the fact that God planned you from the beginning of time for this place, here in our family, my heart swells.  I almost feel like I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.  That sounds so silly, doesn’t it?  I mean, I have your older sisters and your older brother…but there’s just something different about the way I feel this time, the way I feel about you.  
And I can’t wait to meet you, to hold you, to kiss your soft head and see your beautiful eyes and know what color your hair is.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the supreme honor of being your mother.  
I am reminded of the song that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer sing in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music that 
“…somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth” 
and 
“somewhere in my youth…or childhood, I must have done something good.”
So, little baby boy, maybe you’ll come tonight, maybe next week or maybe another week still.  

Either way, I peacefully await your arrival. 

7 Quick Takes (5)

A huge thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting this each Friday! 

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Dominic is a sweet boy.  I know he gets it from his dad.  A couple of weeks ago, Helen got dolled up in a sundress (brown and white checkerboard pattern with pink ribbon belt), her sandals and did her hair before coming down for breakfast.  Dom was sitting in his chair eating his Pop Tart and when he saw her, he said, “Awww, Cute He-wen!”  Then, Helen started attending the same babysitter with Dominic two days a week and on her first day, she was a little unsure about the whole thing.  My sweet boy walked over to her, grabbed her hand saying, “Come on, He-wen!” and led her up to the door.  Of course, she’s been happy to go since.  But it was sweet to see him taking care of his sister.  This morning, they were waiting for me to get ready to go to the daycare and he just went up to Helen and gave her a big hug.  He’s going to be such a great big brother!

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My doc DID tell me he wanted to schedule an ultrasound at my 37-week check-up yesterday.  I told him I would schedule it for the following week.  It’s kind of funny, then, we’ll have it 2 days before I am 39 weeks…so, at least it won’t be the cause of me being induced too early.  He also asked if I wanted him to do a cervical check.  I said, “Ummm, no.”  LOL  One thing that is really awesome about going through this the 5th time is that I know I don’t need an ultrasound to tell me my baby is big and I know I don’t need a cervical check to tell me I’m all closed up and not at all effaced. 

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Dani has been taking swimming lessons the last two weeks every day.  I think she’s done great, but she was a little upset that she didn’t pass her level.  I was ecstatic about everything she COULD do.  She was upset about everything she COULDN’T do.  Funny how that works.  I told her that it was okay, she would be in the same level next two weeks and maybe work really hard on the things she had trouble with and she can pass that level in two weeks!

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Sarah will be taking swimming lessons next week at the same time…one level up.  I hope that goes well.  Sarah really needs help on stroke development.  So, I hope that works out for her.

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My job is no more enjoyable than it was a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned it.  Guess what I’m planning to do for the last 10 weeks of my maternity leave?  Anyone reading this who has ideas of jobs I could apply for where the hours are flexible, the work is challenging, the people are cool…please pass along that info.

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My grandmother has been in the hospital.  Any prayers you could spare for her would be greatly appreciated.  I sent some flowers that should arrive today.  I feel bad that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t written to her or called her in a long time.  I have pictures of Dominic that I haven’t sent out to anyone either.  We’ve just been so busy!

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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including my own!  What are you doing for Father’s Day?  Craig will have to work and that means he’ll have to sleep most of the day.  I think we’ll go purchase our iPad2 on Sunday (or maybe on Saturday so it’ll be available to play with on Sunday).  Originally, this purchase was supposed to be for me…but I think it’s more of a family gift and Craig will enjoy it immensely, too.  If I weren’t 9 months pregnant, I’d mow the lawn for him.  Sarah’s not quite big/strong enough to handle the lawn mower yet.  So, poor Craig will most likely have to do that this weekend. 

For the record, my husband is the absolute best father for my children.  They are so blessed to have such an involved, caring, loving man for their dad.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

The Night Craig Proposed

The lovely Betty Beguiles is hosting a link-up for all of us to tell the world our story of becoming engaged.  I’ve never put it to words, so I was eager to participate!
Craig and I had been seeing each other exclusively for about a year when I started getting a little worried about whether our relationship was going to progress to the next level.  At this point in life, I had already spent about four years of my young adulthood waiting on another guy to figure out what a catch I was and pop the question, and when that didn’t materialize, I finally cut off the relationship.  What that meant, unfortunately, for Craig was that I wasn’t about to wait around on anyone for four years ever again.

While I wouldn’t have phrased it this way then, I knew God had called me to marriage and I wasn’t crazy about dating someone who wasn’t called to marriage.  And, if they knew they were called to marriage, I wasn’t too interested in waiting all that long to find out I wasn’t “the one”.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t interested in rushing into anything either…dragging feet, though, wasn’t going to go anywhere with me.

So, I started asking the questions that I  had waited 3 years to ask the other guy.  “Where do you see this going, Craig?”  “Are you interested in marriage at all?”  And actually, Craig had good answers (meaning, he answered in the positive that we would move forward at some point) but he was good about not actually committing before he was ready.
While we were Cradle Catholics, we were both lapsed in one way or another at the time.  And the idea of children, or really anything about what a Catholic marriage would look like wasn’t necessarily on our minds.

Looking back, it seems like we were stuck in that place where we needed to know we were each other’s one and only; Nothing more…but definitely something permanent…with a ring and a piece of paper to prove it was true.  

So – with that introduction, here’s the story:
It was Craig’s birthday, I think he was turning 27.  I had been to a German festival the week before with Craig’s mother and his sister and her kids where I had bought him this cool handmade, wooden beer mug for his birthday.  I remember fussing over the fact that it wasn’t wrapped (it was an odd shape).  
My sister and I shared a downtown apartment and she was home that night.  
Craig arrived and came into the apartment where we all exchanged pleasantries and I was able to give him the gift I had for him.

The rest of it happened so fast.

Almost as soon as I gave him his gift, he seemed to be fumbling around by his shoe.  While he was fumbling with his sock/shoe, he was talking and saying something about how he had something for me, too.  I remember thinking, “Why would he have something for me on HIS birthday?” and simultaneously thinking, “Oh goodness, I think he has SOMETHING for me!”

He was able to fish the black box out of his sock and open it and blurt out, “Michelle, will you marry me?”

I saw my sister over by the TV, trying really hard not to pay attention.

And I saw my precious husband-to-be, looking up at me with his awesome grin and big brown eyes – how could I say no, right?

The rest is…as they say, history.  We set an October date which turned into a July date (July 24, 1999) and we’ve lived happily ever after.

Go check out some of the other links shared at Betty Beguiles and read about some other proposals…that’s where I’m headin’!  🙂

Not-So-Hidden Blessings

A couple of months ago, I was making a salad at the salad bar in the cafeteria at work when an outgoing woman began a conversation with me by acknowledging my pregnant state.  The conversation started casually enough in that she mentioned that I must be “ready” to have the baby.  Now, of course, I was still about three months away from my due date and mentioned that.  And she went on to tell me that her baby was 14 weeks old and how much fun it was, along with the work.  I acknowledged with a nod, smile and limited words that I could empathize.  
Then she asked:  “So, is it your first?”
How many times have I been asked that question?  It’s a great question.  It’s a natural question when you don’t know the person to whom you’re speaking.  And especially for someone who just had her first, it was an opening question.  It was a question to find out if we have this quality in common.  She asked it, possibly wondering if she might find a kindred spirit in her same workplace about to embark on the journey she had just begun.  I definitely don’t begrudge her the question.
And then…I answered, “Oh, no.  Not my first.”  And I added a little chuckle.  I didn’t answer that way to be a smarty-pants, but to  answer her without necessarily divulging all, in case she wasn’t interested in all that.  Something I’ve learned over the years is that coming right out and claiming my 5th (or 4th when that was the case, or 3rd…) often invited a reaction that I haven’t always been ready to receive.
But she continued.  “Oh, so your second then.”  She was hopeful…perhaps she could find someone who was going to a place she would someday be:  A professional mom, with two kids – maybe a boy and a girl – “having it all” and such.
Well, I thought, this could continue longer than anticipated…I will just be up frontAfter all, perhaps she’s from a large family herself and would enjoy knowing people still do that sort of thing
And I answered her.  “Well, actually this is my 5th.”  I looked her in the eye, I smiled my most friendly, welcoming and happy smile.
The reaction, while predictable, was still…well, it still disappointed me.  Her face dropped completely – from her raised, inquisitive eyebrows and welcoming cheekbones with her upturned smile — to concerned eyes, with a furrowed brow and an “O” of a mouth that belied her shock.  Her speech faltered.  She was caught off guard and clearly didn’t know what to say.  To her credit, the word “crazy” didn’t come out her of mouth and she thought enough before she spoke again that her next comment was easy on my stomach.
She simply said, “Well, we think one is plenty enough for us!”  It wasn’t a sarcastic or slight comment.  I could tell that it came from that deep, worrisome place in a new mom.  It came from that place that remembers all to keenly what a struggle the last 14 weeks have been with the enormous struggle of caring for a newborn for the first time.  It came from a place that most likely was still experiencing nights of interrupted sleep.  It came from that place that felt bedraggled inside but was put together on the outside to be presentable for work.
I just smiled and said, “You know, after our first, we felt that way for quite a while, too.”
That was the end of the conversation, as my salad was complete and it was time to check out and go with my friend for lunch.  But I thought about that conversation a lot in the following days.  I’m glad I had the experience.  
I think it’s good for me to remember that opening our lives–our family–to another blessing in the form of a baby has never been something I was ready to do on a whim.  
I think it’s good for me to remember that in the weeks following the terrorist attacks in September 2001, I couldn’t imagine bringing another soul into this terrible, frightening, cold world.
I think it’s good for me to remember those first three weeks after Sarah was born – the tears, the helplessness, the overwhelming feeling that I would never be a good mom – I couldn’t even breastfeed my baby!
Even better…it’s good for me to remember that as I came out of the newborn/post-partum fog of Sarah’s life, I realized that we COULD do it again.  It’s good for me to remember how much I grew to love my husband, how I began to realize what true self-sacrifice meant, how I experienced true joy in the everyday rituals of raising my daughter. 
I haven’t stopped there, though.  
In the weeks since that conversation, I’ve been able to reflect on the aftermath of the additions to our family and how the struggles have all been different.  Where Sarah’s life marked the end of the era of couplehood, it ushered in this new understanding of what our marriage was and where it could go and what it was for.  
When Danielle joined the family, it ended our ability to dote endlessly on our one and only daughter, and taught us how to make room for a new blessed little soul.  Having two daughters brought about the understanding that the same two parents could help to bring about two entirely different beings with completely different personalities but who love each other so tenderly.  
When Helen came along, sharing took on a new meaning:  No longer could I take one kid and Craig take one kid.  A parent was going to be shared among more than one child and with our opposite work schedules, it often worked out that a parent was shared among all three.  
With Dominic, I suffered true post-partum depression for the first time.  But yet, our experience made the transition to a larger family so smooth.  Even though we had the regular adjustments with all the kids, it was quite possibly the easiest transition ever.

I am happy that God blessed me with the opportunity to empathize with the reaction from the lady at work.  

How can I truly appreciate where I am now without a glimpse of the past to remind me where I’ve been?

The Promised Belly Shot (36 weeks)

I’m really not one that enjoys having my picture taken when I am pregnant.  I have never liked it and I’ve been told by some well-meaning folks that I’ll regret not having any.  But I have to say…whenever I look back at photos I allowed to be taken of me when pregnant with Sarah, I am glad I haven’t allowed that many with the subsequent babies.  I think most women are absolutely adorable pregnant, but unfortunately, I don’t think God gave ME that particular gift.
But, I did allow Craig to take a belly photo of me tonight with strict instructions to crop as much of me out of it as possible.  And being the wonderful husband he is, he followed directions.  🙂
So, here’s my belly as I embark upon the 36-week mark of pregnancy #5:
I’m really excited tonight because the first of the pregnant ladies at church had her baby today!  There’s another one due very soon, and then I am next!  🙂  The lady who had her baby today had a boy, the lady who is due knows her baby is a boy and I know I have a boy!  So we will have three boys at church/school all born within a month of each other.  I think that is very cool.  🙂
Funny update from my doctor appointment yesterday:  He wants to schedule an ultrasound to check the size of the baby.  Really?!?!  Okay, I love my doctor.  He’s a great NFP-only, cautious, pro-life, all about taking care of the mother and the baby kind of doctor.  He’s terrific.  But again…Really?!?!?  What is paying for another ultrasound going to gain us with this pregnancy?
Here are the sizes of the babies I have delivered:
Sarah – 9 pounds, 9 ounces; 21 inches (8 days past due date)
Dani – 8 pounds, 10 ounces; 19 inches (10 days before due date)
Helen – 9 pounds, 8 ounces; 21 inches (3 days before due date) 
Dominic – 9 pounds 2.75 ounces; 21 inches (2 days after due date)
Newsflash Doc:  I HAVE BIG BABIES
He said we’d discuss next week, I still think I’ll see about declining that.  I just don’t see the point.  Now if he had something ELSE he wanted to check (other than baby’s size), maybe I’d do it…but I don’t need to pay another $150 to have someone tell me what I already know…that I have a big baby in this here womb.

I do have a few posts that are just sitting in my drafts.  I just don’t have the energy to write much right now, but I think that’s okay.  I really don’t have the energy to do very much of anything.  I just waddle around the house, waddle around work, waddle on the bus, waddle home from the bus stop…you get the picture.