Thursday, April 6, 2017

Confessions and Faith

I have a confession to make.

It's been 20 weeks in the making.

Y'all, I think I've been ashamed of this pregnancy.   I mean, almost, like being an unwed momma and finding out your having a baby, wear baggy clothes and don't tell anyone, and just let them think you're gaining weight in your mid-section ashamed.  It's really been eye-opening.  And, in the same breath, embarrassing.  And by no means, something I'm proud of.  It's been hard to put into words what I'm trying to convey, so if this sounds confusing, I apologize, but blogging for me lately, has been very therapeutic to really see.

I am usually the one who posts a million prego pictures and lists all the developments going on with the baby in utero, from the moment of conception until the day this little peanut is born (little is a figurative word, considering my first seven babies were all over 8 pounds, five of them being nearly 9 pounds....).

It started with being afraid to tell family.  Then it escalated to the general public.  Now it's just a full fledged fear that I've allowed to take over my world.

My family and friends took it fine.  I'm sure snarky comments are made.  Honestly, who wouldn't make a snarky comment about a family of 9 becoming a family of 10 in today's world where the average number of children is 2.4 (how that is possible, eye roll inserted...). I mean, I would probably do the same if I was the same person I was 21 years ago.  Truly.

But as my belly grew (and believe me, day one it grew....) and grew, I became more markedly aware of the fact that I might appear to be a freak of nature for people, and perhaps, would lead them to make very uncharitable comments, or comments I was frankly not in the mood to deflect....

I was dressing with big clothing.  Wearing large sweatshirts.  Praying it would stay cooler so that a jacket might always be needed until impending birth......(NO, THIS WINTER IS NOT MY FAULT!)

But y'all, I was doing it completely subconsciously.  I had no idea I was actually ashamed, and perhaps ashamed or embarrassed are not the correct words, perhaps just wanting to blend in would be a better description....either way, this morning, when I woke at 5am and could not for the life of me, fall back asleep, it truly dawned on me what I was doing.... and I was ashamed by that realization.

Nothing like really walking the walk, right?  I was clearly talking the talk about being open to life, but when the going got pregnant, the pregnant went incognito!

A whole assortment of concerns plagued me:

I'm old (44 when baby comes)

People already think we are a tad nuts

Despite how I laugh, people's bizarre comments do hurt my feelings

I don't feel very equipped to handle another child

I really struggle with people's comments to me (like, terribly struggle, in case you didn't catch that)

It's so hard trying to explain how NFP works when people are looking at your large brood

When on earth DOES MENOPAUSE START!!!!!!!!!!!  

(ok, last one is just teasin....I do understand biology and actually find our bodies quite fascinating and the entire reproduction process completely fascinating and find it difficult for people not to believe in a higher power when you really delve into the entire process.....)

But besides the concerns were the reactions of our family and friends.  How would families where we live react.  How people at my children's schools would react.  I mean, seriously, if pride was ever a concern of mine, it clearly reared it's ugly head out FULL FORCE this time.

But last night, as fear began to creep into my heart because today I was having an ultrasound, I began to see what was going on with my heart.  My fear exposed the truth of my shame front and center.  I was embarrassed as the door of that shame opened up and the floodgates of all I had avoided were put in front of me.  Picking up my kids at school and making my children go in and get someone, avoiding going places during the day for fear of running into someone, and basically hiding out in my home.....all front and center as I faced my fear of this ultrasound.  My fear was semi-unfounded, but because of all the stigma about all the things that can "go wrong" when your actually 9 years over the AMA starting point (age 35), fear can sometimes just creep in, despite our best attempts to stop it.

Not to mention, the paper the nurse was filling out my history on stated very largely at the top, "ANOMALY SCREENING."

Anomaly screening?  That means problems....then the genetic questions started.  My blood pressure which is generally 100/60, was actually 134/66 as the screening was occurring.  My heart was racing.  First question, "so you DIDN'T have genetic testing for Downs Syndrome?"
The verbal answer no sounded like a tiny, barely audible, person....the tougher, more fiery red headed voice inside me yelled, "WHAT WOULD IT CHANGE IF I DID??"

Then as if I wasn't worried enough, a whole gamete of genetic questions about anomalies I didn't even THINK about were tossed at me one at a time. I was getting hot....

When she got to the mental issues, I almost paused and asked, "in what regard, and does there have to be an actual medical diagnoses???," but thankfully, my tiny voice was still in charge and once again, barely whispered, 'no.'

When I returned to my awesome super hero hubs, who was waiting on me, I filled him in on all the "basic" questions and even joked that yes, I was asked, "are they all with the same dad?"  We always have a good chuckle over that one, because most of the time, it's people at the grocery store asking if it's some unwritten code to ask such things of women pregnant for the umpteenth time.... :)

I was so nervous.  Some of those genetic anomalies I had never even imagined, or worried about, but now because of the power of words, I was suddenly dreading this ultrasound worse than I had been just a few hours prior.

All I could do was pray.  So in my heart, I took it to my Father....

"Lord, you make all things.  ALL things.  All life is precious and made in your image, no matter how society might view it.  This baby is already loved by SO MANY people, remind my heart of that love and how love will move mountains and build strength.  Lord, Jesus, I love you.  Help my untrust.  Which feels huge and sadly not of you....."  

The longer I sat there, the more He unfolded for me my shame of this pregnancy.  How it was rooted in fear, my terrible issues with pride, and my total need for control-which even now, I struggle with.
He showed me those moments where I avoided people.  Dressed to cover my swollen belly, and even refused to do things just to stay hidden from public view.  He was peeling away the layers of this world that had taken hold of me and really, to describe it using crazycatholicmomma terms-


The ultrasound tech soon called us back and she could not have been more delightful.  I don't know if my chart really has red flags all over it as we joke about, but at that moment, she didn't give the impression that we were "those crazy people with lots o' children."

I had the most thorough ultrasound I've ever had in the history of pregnancies (which is a 17 year span)and each time she pointed out a body part, or even what the baby was doing, she did it with delight.  Almost joy!  It was refreshing!

She gave us a few pictures and said the doctor would be in shortly.  The doctor came in and once again, was another beautiful gift from Above.  She looked at each picture on the screen, commenting each time how perfectly formed each part was, and when she took a peek herself with the ultrasound machine, she was still so complimentary of Baby #8.  She finished the ultrasound and asked if we had any questions.  I of course, hemmed and hawed but finally found the words I wanted to ask.

"So, I know I'm 'old' in obstetric world, but you find the baby to be ok as far as you can tell from ultrasound?"

(I'm no dummy when it comes to genetics. I do understand that some genetic issues can NOT be detected on ultrasound, but we have come so far with these (non-evasive FYI) ultrasounds that so much of the brain and heart, spinal column development, organ development, and measurements of the distance between the eyes and shape of feet/hands can and do help determine many genetic issues.)

She was amazing.  She said every part looked amazing.  All were measuring/working exactly as they should and I really wasn't 'old' (she's too sweet-she knows who's paying for this....HA) and she's actually seen more women my age have healthy pregnancies than not.

Call her my grace moment for the day.   God literally took these two beautiful people, and allowed those two to be the ones to see me this morning.  I felt blessed, and sorry in the same breath.  I was sorry for being so ashamed of this amazing gift of life.  I made a vow then and there to stand tall and be proud of this gift.  So, so sooooooooo many women I know struggle with fertility and would give anything to be in my shoes....I need to recognize this gift and not hide it under a sweatshirt....

We had our appointment with my OB after and while we waited I spoke to my superhero hubs about my realization of how I'd been acting.  Sometimes, it's easier for him to smile and nod at me, and for that I am grateful.  I can tend to be a hot mess and he knows that.  I am blessed by his love.  It's completely unconditional and most days, undeserving because I am sometimes a royal pain!

I am home now.  Staring at the adorable picture of baby and wondering if it's a boy or girl.   Totally assuming since the last 5 were girls that this one for sure is and wondering what name I will EVER agree to......But also, sitting here in awe of my sheer lack of faith, but reminding myself how Jesus said we needed just the faith of a mustard seed.  In Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us if we just had faith the size of a mustard seed we could tell a mountain to move and a mulberry tree to move. I am pretty sure, I don't even have the faith of a mustard seed.....yet......but I am working on it.  As I always say, I'm like clay in the Potter's Hands.  A piece of work that is allowing God to mold me (albeit some days I feel like unbendable steel) into the person He created me to be.

Alien baby staring at me!
Sweet profile-can see TEETH!