Nine months of Advent

After Chris turned off the camera, I had to go get the pee stick (Deborah told me I needed to keep it for some mysterious reason, which was probably this moment). She truly did not believe us until she saw it; two lines can be more convincing that one might think.

[written in May, 2012:]

January looms out in front of us far away. Time has slowed down these past few days. And the idea that there might be time to get everything done, plays at the edges, deceitfully. This is our third child and I’m still not sure how one “prepares” for a new person. Everything that must get done, will. But in my own heart, I know that the space needed for these new moments is not something I can create by doing. Room is created by waiting (and pain is probably involved somewhere).

I’m thinking these things while riding the bicycle back from my son’s school after dropping him for the last time before summer break. We will tell him this afternoon that his request has been answered – that there is a baby coming. Who knows, he’s four, and may not care at all. Or he may have to ease into it like his big sister. We’ve all had varying responses, but mostly happiness (coupled with bits of anxiety, nervousness & fear).

I had a beautiful afternoon and evening with my parents yesterday. I felt needed, and also, I felt keenly how I need both of them close to me. We haven’t spent a lot of time together, lately.

People have said to me several times that, “these things happen for a reason.” And while I still have trouble buying into that completely, I am starting to come around. There are reasons. It is the joy, delight, and agony of life, searching and sometimes discovering the ways our needs are met.

Through 8 months:

So many things have happened since the end of May as we tried to wrap our heads around the idea of this new person. In June I passed out on our concrete bedroom floor and busted my chin open; diagnosis: pregnant. I felt like I had the flu and was in labor with weird contractions most of the summer into October; diagnosis: pregnant – and could not handle the heat (yeah, yeah, I got out of the kitchen). Texas weather is just a delight. My husband during this time did everything, while I laid on my butt, and ate every five minutes. (People thought I passed out because I wasn’t eating enough, but they never could prove it.) I almost passed out two more times, but when the second trimester was about half over, I became a productive member of society again, mostly.

The kids had a good summer thanks to mostly my mother-in-law, Becky. They swam in her pool and ate her snacks (not to mention how she kept me sane on more than one occasion). Chris and Ella auditioned and got into a local children’s theater production of Sarah Plain & Tall. This meant Jack and I were on our own in the evenings for two months, which was harder on him than on me (he developed a serious fear of the dark and of thieves when his daddy was gone, which I think was because he didn’t see a sick adult as a real adult, and I can’t blame him).

Ella was wonderful, and found a passion for the whole process of theater, and she loved playing a boy crazy neighbor, and getting some of the biggest laughs. (The real surprise, though, was Chris playing basically himself, a highly sarcastic character who also took some big laughs, and he enjoyed it so much!) But the kids did not have friends over the way one would hope during the summer, and their social lives in general have taken a pretty big beating.

The fall brought good things to them, though. Jack went back to Montessori school, and Elanor started soccer, and then got into a musical at the children’s theater. I felt so guilty knowing the work Chris needed to be doing instead of taking care of me, the kids, the house, etc. So when his comprehensive exams hit in November, I was very very worried (because I figured it would basically be my fault if he didn’t pass). We waited over a week for the results, but of course, he passed. Most of our friends and family responded with, “what else would you expect?” But for Chris and I, we knew the hours he had not been able to put in the whole year, and the focus, even that week, that had been drawn away from his studies by “family responsibilities” (meaning my fail).

So that brings us to the beginning of Advent. This was a first for me in two ways: I’ve never been pregnant during Advent before, and I’ve never been without a church family and a LOT of musical, etc, responsibilities. I love Advent – it may be my favorite season. This deep waiting and anticipation welling up from a recognition of our darkness and the darkness around us and our need for a savior in concert with a hope in Emmanuel, in the promises passed down. It’s actually a relaxing atmosphere to settle into, because striving gains nothing.

I have never truly entered into this. I have been so busy behind the scenes, trying to prepare all the special things, I have been distracted. So this year I spent the first half of Advent feeling extremely out of place, strange, unfulfilled. And then I relaxed, and realized that I had spent more time with my family than I ever had before; we were home almost every night (unheard of ) to light the candles, and read the stories, and “wait” with each other, and it was beautiful.

We went to a local Episcopal church a few times, and one Sunday they sang “Lo How A Rose” and I whispered the lines into Jack’s ear, and it was magical: “she bore to us a Savior when half spent was the night.”

This year has been so very strange for our family in so many ways, but now, at the end (12/31/2012), I realize that God has been with us. He has come to us over and over.

My husband is more himself than he has ever been before. Less cynical, more compassionate, I didn’t even realize how badly he was shut down with the situations we were in. He said 10 months ago that those around us really had no idea who he was, and I don’t think I did either. Because we left our social setting (since high school), it opened us up to press in with his colleagues and other friends that we had neglected. It’s been amazing to feel so much support and common ground with other Christians from different aspects of our lives.

It was hard for our kids at first, leaving the spiritual body we had been a part of, but it was also good for them. I found out my 4 year old is a leader, once he was not the youngest of the kids we had been hanging out with, and I was glad his heart was protected just at the moment it should have been. Elanor has connected with new friends all year, and she is such a different and more confident person.

All in all, the connection I have with my family is priceless and worth all the doubtings and pain that brought us here. And that, I think, is a very Advent / Christmas themed statement. We find that despite ourselves and our striving, God has come to us in His own way, in His own time. And of course we got things wrong, and didn’t prepare as we ought. And though the location is a stable, and it’s cold, we rely on His ability, not our own, to bring Himself to us.

In 2013 we have decided to be a part of the body of Christ in a more committed way again, but I feel we have a reserve as a family, that we’ve never had before.

Which brings me back to this baby, who has been a priority in the background (which doesn’t make sense, but really happens…). Our new baby boy will be here soon, and I cannot guarantee the time or the place. I have to wait it out along with everyone else. I have been on bed rest now for 8 days trying to not be in labor (story of this pregnancy). There is nothing seriously wrong with me, and nothing wrong with him, I just have had contractions (a medley of irritable uterus and BH).

So Christmas day was different, and ice and snow caused it to be even more different, but it was perfect. Our families are wonderful, and not only love us, but love and appreciate each other, so everything flowed smoothly. Actually because of the support of our families, I am super excited anticipating the birth of Moses Beren (yep, we’re nerds). If I can make it till Friday (37 weeks), we will be able to have a home birth with our midwife and doula and family.

History: Ella was born on our couch in San Antonio (not on purpose) with only my mom and husband (thank God my mom has a clue, and knew what to do); Jack was born in a bathtub at a birth center in Dallas (not on purpose) with a very freaked out midwife running down the stairs to get to me (and by the way, my mom was again the first person to lay eyes on her grandchild). We were safe each time, with no complications, but this time I don’t want to be in a car or something stupid like that, and I want a medical professional with me all the time, who will be calm, and not freaked out, and I do NOT want to be in a hospital at all, as they make me incredibly uncomfortable, and also, would insist on interventions to help things along – if I’m in labor for 3 days, that’s ok, I don’t want to rush it.

I say all of this knowing I don’t have control over what happens, only desires. So I think Advent has lasted a little longer for me, and I’m ok. I still think that we’re not ready yet, to receive a new person into our midst, and I believe that this waiting and longing, and pain and doubts all pull open the space for our baby to be born and be a part of us. This laboring. And thank God I do not do it alone. We wait together. And our hope is sure, the baby will be born, just as the hope of all men is sure: Emmanuel.

The last of these 9 months:

Well, we’ve made it to the end, sort of. Bear (that’s what we’ve been calling Moses for months) is due tomorrow, but looks like he will be late, after everything. I can feel people around me getting more ready for this to be over. I can’t blame them. Do we have everything ready? A little more every day, but no, the answer is no. I wonder exactly what he and I are waiting on, but I don’t worry. There is still plenty to do, and he’s moving all the time (ok, that’s painful, but…), and appears happy.

Despite all of the inconveniences and drama along the way, I’ve enjoyed being pregnant with him. I like to feel him with me all the time, and as crazy as it is, I think I have a better body image when I’m pregnant. I’m relaxed. Do I maybe have to lose that state of mind to be ready to give birth? I kind of hope not.

It would actually be really good if this happened in the next few days, because Chris is in a play at the local community theater that opens next weekend: The Three Musketeers. He’s had a lot of fun thus far, which makes it ok that he’s gone almost every night for rehearsals. Sword fighting. It’s a thing. He likes it.

The kids are super excited about it as well. Jack has been back at school for a few weeks, and loving it. Elanor has been such a huge help, and she’s been doing more independent work with her home school, which is encouraging.

I intellectually know this is the end (and beginning), but it’s hard for me to believe. I’ve had this belly for so long, what will I do without it?! Probably wear normal pants…

photo

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