I Wanted a Girl

One year ago today I found out I was having a little boy. I was disappointed. I had wanted a girl—deeply, almost desperately wanted a girl. It’s not that I don’t like boys just as much, but there’s just so many of them in my life. Five brothers. Loads of nephews. I love every man and boy in my life and wouldn’t trade any of them for a girl, but still…I wanted a daughter. I wanted some girl time. I wanted flowery dresses and mommy/daughter fun.

So when the ultrasound tech said with all kinds of enthusiasm, “It’s a boy!” I faked a smile and fought back tears. I pretended to be happy. I called my family and faked excitement as I gave them the news. And when all the calls and pretending were done, I sat in the car and cried. I felt horrible, selfish, and ungrateful. I had a perfectly healthy little boy growing away and all I could do was cry about not getting what I wanted. But it was more than that.

I felt like God had let me down.

This desire for a daughter was so deeply rooted in my heart that I honestly didn’t think God would deny me. And when he did, I felt like I was being taunted. Why had I wanted a girl so much if I was just going to be told no? Why couldn’t I will myself to want a son just as much as a daughter?

That night we went to dinner with Darren’s family to celebrate. We opened gifts of blue and cowboys and I felt a million miles away. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to celebrate. When we left the restaurant the whole sky was robed in pink with the sunset; and I thought again that God was making fun of me with the world dressed in pink. Darren and I went to the mall after that to buy the first outfit for our baby boy—blue jeans, blue shirt, blue, blue, blue.

When we finally got home, I lay in bed and cried. Was I spoiled and wallowing in my own disappointment at not getting what I wanted? Probably. I have friends who want children but have instead faced infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Though my heart hurts for them, I can’t pretend to understand what they’ve been through. And I’m sure I, with my perfectly healthy baby, must sound incredibly stupid and selfish complaining about something as simple as the specific gender of a child. I knew it then and I know it now and yet I couldn’t will myself to feel differently at the time.

But I have learned something since this day last year. I have learned from experience that sometimes what I want is not nearly as wonderful as what God wants to give me. Sometimes my plan isn’t best. Sometimes God withholds one thing to fill my heart and arms with something I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. God is, in fact, smarter than me.

The other night I sat on Roman’s nursery floor holding my sleeping boy in my arms. He was done eating, I could have put him to bed and gone to bed myself but I just couldn’t put him down. I wanted to hold and snuggle him because already he’s growing and changing so fast—it makes my heart hurt realizing I won’t always be able to snuggle him close in my arms. Once I had put him down and gone to bed, I lay there thinking about how I had once been disappointed over him, how I had thought I wanted something else. And I cried again, not out of disappointment, but out of disbelief that I had ever thought he wasn’t enough, wasn’t what I wanted. And I was thankful that God knew better and gave a gift I cannot deserve.

When I hold this child, this child who I once cried hot tears of disappointment over, I am thankful that God loves me enough to not always give me what I think I want. Somehow I think learned love is even better than love that comes naturally. When you have fought and worked for something, it means more to you than things simply given. I didn’t know if I would love my son as much as I would have loved a daughter, that’s the truth. But I can tell you, now that he’s here, I wouldn’t trade him for a dozen daughters and I can’t imagine loving any child more.

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Motherhood is Good

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There are two things you hear a lot when people find out you’re pregnant: “Kids are so much fun!” and “Your life is about to change” (dunn, dunn, dunnnnn). Both are true but the second probably doesn’t need to be said. I haven’t met anyone yet expecting a child who doesn’t already know–deeply, profoundly–that their life is about to change.

I remember standing in the bathroom early that Saturday morning waiting for the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” to look back at me from that life altering little stick. I bought the fancy pants test just to be sure and it estimated how many weeks I had been pregnant too…3+ it said…so not only was I pregnant, I had been pregnant for nearly a month without realizing it at all. No one needed to knock on the bathroom door at that early weekend hour and tell me life was about to change, maybe remind me how to breathe, tell me it’s going to be ok, but the rest I already knew.

I snuck back in our bedroom all cool and casual-like, no big deal just a baby on board. Darren was still asleep so I sat the test on my nightstand and slipped back under the covers. When Darren got up I moved the test to his pillow and waited for him to come back. His face, his words, I’ll never forget. We were both happy. We wanted this. We spent the rest of the morning talking fast and excited about this amazing thing happening right before us.

Even with our joy and desire for this baby, there was still an almost suffocating sense of, “are we really doing this?” The feeling of no going back and the absolute permanence of change in our lives was undeniable. Even if we lost the baby, just having been pregnant and falling in love with a baby we wanted would leave us changed. There was simply no way to go back to who we were before that moment. And thankfully, no such loss happened. On a hot, sticky, middle of the summer day our long-anticipated baby boy was born. And certainly, after meeting him and holding him in our arms, a new level of change occurred and we knew again that no matter what happened from there, we would never be the people we were before that moment.

I used to be scared of this change; sometimes I still am. I am finding with each step into motherhood that the ominous warnings remain. Just wait, they say…

Until he teeths

Crawls

Walks

And a million other stepping-stones along the way.

And though I’m sure they don’t really mean it this way, I sometimes hear in each warning…

It gets harder

It gets worse

You’ll never be good enough

But though I am only a little over six months into this parenting journey and certainly realize how very much I have yet to learn, I want to say something:

Motherhood is good.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, it’s exhausting.

Yes, sometimes I lose my temper, get frustrated, overwhelmed, sometimes I cry, feel lonely.

But there are so many other times when my heart is full to overflowing. Truly, I have never been so happy or at peace in my whole life. I love being a mom. And I love being a mom even when it’s hard. A week ago I was up all night with a crying baby. I held him, paced his nursery floor, cried, prayed…nothing changed. I took him to the doctor the next morning and found out he had an ear infection. That was a hard night followed by a hard day but somehow it was also incredibly fulfilling. Do I like staying up all night with a crying baby? No. But I do love being a mother who can hold and comfort her child when he’s hurting.

I didn’t realize before I become a mother that somehow all those hard times would actually be some of the most beautiful opportunities to enter in to loving another person and growing as a person myself. I didn’t know how satisfying it would be. I was afraid of the warnings and the change because I didn’t have the knowledge of just how oddly good those hard times can be. I’m learning not to be afraid of the “just wait” and the “it gets harder.” I’m learning that even though motherhood is hard, the hard parts are also some of the best parts and there’s nothing to dread. I wouldn’t exchange that night of pacing his nursery floor for anything; not because I’m a martyr but because I got hold to him and love him and be his mother.

Sometimes I think people (probably unintentionally) make motherhood sound too hard, almost daunting. Yes, of course it’s hard, but I wish we heard more about how wonderful it is. I mean, truly wonderful. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Beautiful. Joyful. Magical. Heart so full of love its going to explode.

You might be surprised by just how easy motherhood is in so many ways :]

Waiting.

39-40 Weeks collage

Today I did something I never do: I finished a cup of coffee. I make myself a cup every day and always get a sip or two but the rest ends up being poured down the sink at the end of the day after I’ve been too busy or distracted to drink it.

But today is different. Today is quiet.

Today is a day in between the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Our baby was due on Wednesday but decided not to come. So we wait. Wednesday was also my last day at work. I say “at” work purposely because I do realize it was not my last day “of” work—I have plenty of mommy friends who might feel the need to correct me should I not clarify :]

On Wednesday I hurried around the office tying up the loose ends of my work, moving through the stacks of paperwork and filing I had not yet done. The day ended in a flurry with blue ink smeared all over my left hand from filling out form after form. I still feel like there’s so much I didn’t get done but my time there is up and there really is nothing left to do but move on.

Yesterday I was busy at home, again rushing through projects and a mile long to-do list of things I want finished before bringing home baby. I didn’t feel good and thought for sure the baby was going to come so I hurried trying to beat his arrival with a clean house.

Well, today the house is clean and my crazy list is done but our baby is quite opinionated already and still hasn’t decided to come.

So, for the first time in a long time, I find myself with a quiet day and nothing to do. There is no work schedule or to-do list. Everything is done and today I simply sit and wait. This may very well be the last day I have nothing to do for oh, the next 25ish years so I’m trying to savor it and do what I love—tap out words and sip strong coffee for starters.

I have lots of sister-in-laws and most of them have reminded me lately to enjoy these last days before the baby comes because nothing will ever be the same after he does. I’m sure they’re right and yet it’s a strange thing trying to sit calmly and quietly while you wait for your whole life to change.

Today is a quiet day.

Perhaps I’ll have another cup of coffee, tap out a few more words. Certainly I’ll take a nap.

Soon this baby, this stubborn baby who right now is kicking and jabbing me and making my belly bounce around in the morning sun, he will be in my arms. He will need me constantly—to feed him, to hold him, to change his diapers and clothes, and to comfort him as he wakes up in this strange new world. I will be busy, tired, and probably overwhelmed.

So today I am quiet. Today I am waiting—standing between the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Savoring life as it is; looking forward to life as it will be.

See you on the other side.

—Kari

 

The Perfect Date

Here we are, about to make the leap from two to three—from you and me to mom and dad. We’re soaking up the time we have left together before life is forever changed. Last night I asked you what your idea of a perfect date would be—you talked about the ocean and the water, about the beach and boats—and if you could really truly do anything…a few days away in the Caribbean. You asked me the same—what the perfect date would be. I talked about camping under the stars, sitting by the fire at night, biking, hiking, and tubing—that would be the perfect date for me.

We can’t go far from home right now—not with this baby ready to come whenever he pleases. So there will be no Caribbean vacations or nights in a tent under the stars—not right now at least.

But today we found a way to spend time together—outside, on the water…combining what bits and pieces we could of our ideal date ideas. We rented a canoe and took off together down the river—soaking up the sun and the breeze and the stillness of the water—and more than anything, the time together away from everything else.

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Water Panorama

Baby Belly Crop

Food Collage

Ice cream and lemonade from the corner store. Burgers and fries from our favorite burger stand. And homemade strawberry limeades when we were sunburnt and ready to call it a day—I would call it a perfect day, a perfect date, and a perfect day with you.

Kiss Monkey B&WIn a few days we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary—just two days before our baby is due. Thank you darling, for the best six years of my life. It won’t always be just me and you but you—you will always be my favorite.

Us Monkey B&W

 

You Can Grow Here

grow instaYou can grow from the rock, you can grow anywhere.

We own a duplex and live in one half while we rent out the other half. It’s small and cozy and the place we’ve called home for the last four years. I always wanted to move before having a baby because it seemed pretty ambitious to fit even one more thing in such a small space—especially a baby and all the crazy equipment babies come with these days.

I thought my plan was going to work out beautifully. We bought our fixer-upper over a year ago and even when I found out I was pregnant last fall, I still thought for sure we would be all moved and settled before the baby arrived. I was wrong. First we said it would be ready in the spring. Then we said it would be ready by the end of the summer. Now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping we make it in by the end of the year.

And so sometime in the next few weeks we will bring our little baby home to the house I always said was too small for such things. It’s amazing how you can adapt and change as life and circumstances require you to do so. Somehow we have managed to make room for our little guy—a bassinette tucked in the corner by our bed, a small dresser for all his things against the last bare wall in our room, the living room rearranged to accommodate a rocker, swing, and bouncer all three, the stroller folded up against the door we don’t use, and cabinets emptied and rearranged for bottles and bibs and all his tiny foreign things. It’s tighter and more crowded than ever before and yet somehow, a little to my own amazement still, we have found a way to make it all work. As this little guy takes up more and more room in our hearts, so we have found a way to make room for him in our little home too.

It’s funny how this lesson has had to repeat itself so many times over in my life. Perhaps I’m a slow learner. I always think things have to be just so or they simply can’t be at all. But I have seen again and again that life is fluid and we must be flexible if we’re to survive the ebb and flow of things beyond our control. If you had told me nine months ago that we would be bringing our baby home to this crowded little house, I would have been frustrated and certain it couldn’t work. And yet here we are—hospital bags packed, tiny clothes washed and tucked away, ready to bring this baby back to the only place we can really call home right now.

And you know what? It will be fine. We’ll be fine. The baby will be fine. Nothing will be ruined even if things have worked out so differently from how I had planned. It’s just another step in this journey that will continue to unfold with or without our permission.

I’m sure being a new mother and learning how to care for a child will be much the same way—not at all how I think it will be or should be and yet we will grow and change and learn along the way how to do what’s before us—however imperfect it may sometimes seem.

Learning to Fly

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A momma bird decided to build her nest and raise her flock of five fuzzy birds in the rafters of our new house. We check in on them each time we’re at the house and have watched them progress from eggs, to little fuzz balls curled up asleep, to little fuzz balls peaking curiously over the nest and showing off their big yellow beaks. I about die from the cuteness and hope our own baby bird has a fuzzy head of hair like theirs.

Darren is holding off siding that part of the house until the baby birds have left the nest because he doesn’t want to hurt them. His heart is as deep and wide as the sea and I love the glimpses I get of the father he will be in the thoughtfulness he has for all living things.

darrenWhen Darren isn’t melting my heart caring for baby birds, he is terrifying me doing guy stuff like this—wiring the house by standing on a chair…on two planks…over the stairway…after he ripped two fingers open doing other such nonsense. He is excellent training for a man child.

card{Darren’s first Father’s Day card—it perfectly describes everything I love about him}

Speaking of baby birds, ours is almost here–we’re three weeks out from game day, or so we hope.

35 weeks

This is my belly; it’s gigantic. I don’t know how many weeks along I was in this picture and I don’t think it really matters anymore. The other day an old man in the grocery store commented on my belly and wanted to know when I’m due. I told him next month and he said, “Oh, you’re not big enough to have a baby next month.” Well done old man, well done; there’s a reason you’ve lived so long ;]

Babys corner 2

This is baby’s spot in our room until we move and have a nursery. I have a little canopied area set up by our bed with his bassinette—I call it his “baby throne” because that’s what it looks like to me with the canopy and lights and fanfare :]

What a bunch of rambling this post is; sorry. I leave you with some favorite lines from Victor Hugo:

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”

As I think about having this baby in the next few weeks, I often recount these lines and think I know how the birds feel when they must leap from the nest and find their wings. I hope I can fly.

Room to Grow

me down

us

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We are working on our 8th month of baby building with 7ish more weeks to go until his expected arrival.

For now our little family looks like this—a couple of cute sleepy heads who just wouldn’t get up this morning :]

Darren is wearing himself out working on the house remodel…and the cat, well the cat’s just lazy…and he’s in my spot :]

I love them though—actually, they’re my favorites and sometimes it’s hard to believe there will be any room left in my heart to love anything else. But I’m guessing I’ll find room to love this baby. Just like my body amazes me with the way it stretches and grows to make room so my heart will stretch and grow too. Love is like that—it builds and stretches and grows and there is always room for the possibility of more if we‘re willing to be stretched and changed a little {or a lot} along the way.

Bump.

PicMonkey CollageBack when I thought I had a bump at 18 weeks and couldn’t wait to document it…and my actual bump at 31 weeks :]

The baby gave me a fright today. I always feel him moving, all the time, every day. Then this morning after I had gotten ready for work and was ready to leave I noticed I hadn’t felt him at all since I got up. I rubbed my belly trying to rouse and wake him and told myself not to worry.

Darren came over and told me how beautiful he thinks my bump is and I told him I couldn’t feel the baby moving. Of course it’s nothing, we agreed; he’d start bouncing around as soon as I ate breakfast I said. So I ate and I sat in the car riding to work with my hands resting on my belly waiting for those reassuring little kicks and flutters. Nothing.

It’s such a small thing, all those little movements, I hardly even think about it sometimes. But it feels like I can’t move or breathe when he is still and I can’t feel his life inside of me. Darren and I sat silently in the car the whole way to work and I fought back tears when Darren asked me again if I could feel him yet and the answer was still no. I asked God to watch over our baby and begged that I could please feel him move, that I could know he’s still okay.

And then there was a little flutter. A little push here and a strong kick there. Our lazy little guy woke up and his movement set our hearts at peace again.

Today I’m celebrating my bump and the bundle of life that moves and grows within. So many people I love have lost babies, babies they dearly loved and wanted. Being pregnant is both one of the most exciting and most terrifying things I have ever done and I don’t ever want to take for granted a single flutter or kick of our little son; sometimes that’s all you get, sometimes that’s all the life you ever get to know. I can’t wait to hold him on the outside but for now I’m holding him close on the inside–cherishing his life and movement and the incredible peace and joy he brings with every one of his little ninja moves.

He is worth it, you know. Giving life is always worth it.