Insert your own relevant title for this post...

Apparently, when you're winding down to the end of a 40 week "marathon" (if you will), time passes at both the speed of light (like when you realize you haven't posted on your blog for an entire week) and slower than, say, a slug dipped in cough syrup (like when every second passes that you haven't gone into labor yet).   It's an interesting paradox.

I'm also realizing that it's impossible to comfortably use a laptop or gracefully rise from a sofa.  It's pretty sad when you are having more trouble doing either of those things than your sixty-something parents who are currently running circles around you.  That's only temporary until I download this kid - who I pray weighs 25lbs to help justify my weight gain, but has a tiny head and long slender body.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

As things stand, I'm still pregnant and I'm not holding my breath that this status will change until forced. 

In the meantime, I can hope for a Leap Day baby.  Or a March 2nd baby who will share a birthday with one of the most brilliant minds in literature, Dr. Seuss.  Or a due date baby whose birthdate doubles sequentially (3.6.12).

I was a little bummed labor didn't happen on the night that Sam and I thought someone was breaking into our home, only to find Grandpop standing in the hallway holding a door after dismantling it by the hinges because, for some reason, Abby decided to lock them inside her bedroom.  These are the things that make birth stories fun.

Before I put my tired-from-walking-4.2 miles-in-an-attempt-to-induce-labor feet to bed, I just wanted to comment on the difference between this pregnancy and the last three.

This time, I feel peace.  I'm no longer scared that I won't love my new baby as much or that I'll love my "existing" children less.  I've learned that my love is not transferable.  It's reproducible.  It's shareable.  It grows.

I'm not worried about being outnumbered by my kids.  I've spent the last 2.5 years outnumbered and I have survived.  More than that - I think I've got it figured out better than ever.  (Either that or my standards have lowered...and I'm not sure that's always a bad thing.)

I'm not scared that my parents will be on a plane to or in Scotland, unavailable to answer a phone to hear the news of their new grandbaby.  Long story short, my parents are here.  Waiting ("patiently") with me.

I'm not afraid this baby will be different from the others.  I'm excited that they will be.  I know they will be.  And I will love them even more for bringing their own unique flavor to our family.  Maybe they'll be red-headed, short, docile and easy-going - those would be different.  We're ready.  Just come as you are and we'll love you for it!

I'm not afraid that his/her siblings won't love him/her.  Even after all the rifts and tiffs we have throughout the day - these brothers and sisters adore each other.  And I pray that lasts -

(That's Ben & Abby sharing a bottom bunk - just for kicks - after bickering all day like an old married couple.)

Tonight, I'm feeling a little grumpy because I'm still pregnant, but more than that and more importantly, I'm feeling grateful.  To be pregnant.  To have been chosen by God to parent these four awesome children.  To have the opportunity to experience the kind of love God feels for His children.   To have a husband who comes home from a 14 hour work day to walk the neighborhood with me.  To have parents who drove 800 miles to spend an indefinite amount of time waiting and helping out while we wait for this fourth bundle's arrival.  And the list goes on...

Here's to the toe in my ribs, the unfailing urge to have to pee, and my swollen tootsies - soon enough I'll miss them, right?


I suffer from HIC syndrome

And in case you were wondering what "HIC syndrome" is, I just totally made that up

It's hormone-induced craziness.  I was going to call it PIC (pregnancy), but it lasts longer than the pregnancy does...well into the post-partum period.

So, for the past week while I haven't been blogging, I've been keeping busy doing other things - like not delivering a baby, running to and from the kids' school for various functions, cleaning for my parents' arrival (today) while they stay and wait for Shep#4 to make his/her appearance, and finishing a 1,000 piece puzzle instead of installing an infant carseat in my van, packing my hospital bag, and finalizing names for our precious, almost-here fourth child.

Oh - and I've been having some seriously ridiculous hormone-induced crazy episodes.

Poor Sam.

Two days ago, I burst into tears because I spilled salsa on my shirt and pants.  That's really the extent of it and therefore fully explains the craziness, but it felt like a much bigger deal at the time.  We had spent the day in the garage staining the bunk beds Sam built for our girls to share once Shep#4 arrives - well, Sam stained and I swept up sawdust and tried to look busy enough to not feel guilty about him working circles around me.  I deliberately didn't wear my favorite red pants to work in so I would have their comfort to look forward to when I went back inside.  When we decided it was quitting time, we went inside, fixed some dinner, I showered and changed into one of my only maternity tops that is long enough to cover my belly at this point and my awesome, beloved red yoga pants.  I went into the kitchen, opened the fridge to look for a ginger ale, and a container of salsa spilled out.  I'd worn both articles of clothing for about 3 minutes.  Cue the waterworks.

This morning I burst into tears because Sam stripped our bed to wash the sheets.  Why did this make me cry, you wonder?  Good question.  It seemed "perfectly logical" to me at the time, but in retrospect (it's amazing what a couple of hours can do for your mental status), I realize it was a complete and total overreaction.  I cried because I felt that by him washing the sheets, he was somehow suggesting that I do not pull my household weight around here well enough for him.  I cried tears of guilt, anger, and shame.  He stood and looked at me confusedly and asked if he should put the sheets back on the bed.  I assured him no.  Because even in the midst of the craziness, I could still tell I was being crazy.  I was just powerless to stop it.

And these are just two small examples of 9+ months of total insanity.  I'm sorry, Sam.  I guess this is just all part of the package.

Perhaps one of my more memorable "historic" meltdowns came the day I got home from delivering sweet lil' Abby five and a half years ago.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  My parents and mother-in-law prepared a meal for us to come home to.  I think it was Chicken Parmesan.  I sat down at the table, took one look at the bread, and had to get up and go to the other room to sob.  My mother-in-law had made garlic toast out of the fresh Italian bread.  Apparently, I really did not want toast, but soft, fresh Italian bread with butter.  Somehow, I expected her to know this, and the loss of that fresh bread was too much for me to bear.  See?  Ridiculous.

How about you?  Got any crazy stories like this?  I promise this is not my typical personality.  But we all have our moments.  Some of the moments just last a wee bit longer and come a wee bit more often than others.

By the by, if anyone is keeping tabs on this pregnancy, my due date is March 6th putting me ~37.5 weeks right now.  If you think it would be great fun to enter a guess in my baby pool - go here.  I'm not going to say there will be a prize because that would probably make me cry for some reason (ha!), but there will be bragging rights galore.  And a personal shout-out on the blog?  (Whatever that is worth!)

Hope you all are well - and I'm so sorry for my absence both from this blog of my own and the so many blogs I love to visit, read, and comment on.  Someday I'll be a better blog friend!!!


Mom Things with the 3 who aren't currently a literal pain in my back

I listened to Sarah playing with an alligator and rooster bath toy as she simulated a very heated argument between the two over which one likes Tinkerbell.  Apparently Tinkerbell can not be liked by more than one bath toy at a time.  There was yelling involved.  That alligator and rooster were serious about it.

While putting lotion on my feet, Abby asked, "Do you wish I could do this yesterday too?  I could do it every day."  The answer is a decided "yes."  Abby, you can do that any day and any time you feel so inclined.

After discussing with Ben that one of his classmate's grandmothers is in my small group for Bible study, I made the comment that it's a "small world."  Abby chimed in, "You know what the biggest world is? (dramatic pause)  NEW YORK."  (How does she know that?)

Ben took third place in the Pinewood Derby Race for the 1-3 grade category.  The best part?  His elated, "overly demonstrative" reaction to the major award.

On any given night, bedtime looks the same all around our house...

A quarter of a mile from school, Abby realized she didn't put clean underwear on when she got dressed.  She told me it would be okay because she'd change them when she got home.  After all, she and Sarah change their underwear when they play dress up.  I commented back, "Yeah, I know.  Then you leave it all over your closet floor, and I don't know what's clean and what's dirty."  To which she cocked her head, smiled, and sweetly said, "Mommy, you're very smart.  I think you can figure it out."

Abby: Can I brush my teeth now?
Me: You never have to ask permission to brush your teeth, Abby. You can brush them anytime you want.
Ben: (seeing an opportunity) Can I brush mine tomorrow?
No, Ben. No.

Sarah can spend 2.5 hours in someone else's care including outside time on the dangerous playground without sustaining injury, but after spending 3 minutes in a sub shop with me, she leaves with a bloody, gashed eyebrow.

Of course, it didn't stop her band-aided self from jumping off the coffee table repeatedly and with gusto that very same evening.  (And soon she got her otherwise innocent big sister involved.)

You watched the sweet sisters enjoy a snack of mini-tootsie roll pops, but only after they clinked them together and boisterously proclaimed, "Cheers!"

Sarah handed a masterpiece to Sam and said, "Here Daddy.  I made this for you.  It's a roller coaster."  Scariest roller coaster EVER.


Carriage Before Marriage?

It seems like the day I conceive, my mailbox starts flooding with baby and parenting magazines and free infant formula.  I don't exactly know how this happens, but it does.  Just for kicks because I'm trying to keep my feet up a little more these days (to prevent those darn cankles), I sat down with the most recent "American Baby" edition and thumbed through.

The last article was entitled, "first comes baby..." (including the lack of capitalization - annoying...but I digress).  I have to admit, it was one of the most interesting articles I've read in a baby magazine probably ever.

Turns out, the Millennial generation (of which I am a part) has a lot of kids out of wedlock.  Over 50% of births to people between the ages of 18 and 29 are to singles (that is, unwed parents).  Just ten years ago when the Gen Xer's were "our" age, a "mere" 39% of babies were born outside the bonds of marriage.  The article contends that this doesn't mean unwed Millennial parents object to marriage.  After all, some of them eventually get married...years later.  Some of them even to the same significant other that parented their first (and second and third) child.  But wait, then it kind of back-pedals and says that Millennials might have a jaded view of marriage because our Boomer parents have a 50% divorce rate.  Morley Winograd, a "Millennial expert" if you will, is quoted as saying, "Marriage may be fleeting, but children are forever."

Hmmm.  See what I mean?  That's interesting.

And here I was under this silly impression that marriage is supposed to be forever.

In case it wasn't obvious by the divorce rate and the shift of emphasis from healthy parental relationships to child-centric families in our culture, when polled, 52% of Millennials said that good parenting "is one of the most important things in life" while only 30% say the same thing about marriage.  Less than 25% of Millennials are married right now.  It's simply not a priority.  One couple that was interviewed said the financial benefits were the only reason they did marry.
If we could have gotten Mike on my health insurance without being spouses, we probably never would have gotten married.  To us it's just a piece of paper legalizing what we already know we have - a loving, committed relationship.
Maybe that's where I differ from a lot of Millennials.  Marriage is a lot more than that to me.  It's not a piece of paper that I can opt to render null and void if things get ugly or difficult.  It's not a legally binding contract.  It's a promise.  It's a vow before God that I will stand by my man, so to speak.  (Thanks, Tammy Wynette.)  It's a vow we both take to stand by each other.  A marriage represents oneness between husband and wife, which symbolizes the oneness between Christ and the Church.  It's not fickle.  It's not "tradition."  It's not something people just do to get health insurance.  It shouldn't be thrown away lightly.

I'm not on here to condemn my friends who've been through a divorce.  I'm not on here to condemn my friends who are single-parents.  I'm simply disappointed in the way the family has been degraded by my generation and the one or two generations before us.  We've learned to embrace unconventionality at the cost of our families.
While having a baby first may have caused a rift in previous generations, "these parents [the Boomers] are apt to have acceptance, love for both their own child and their new grandchild, and a desire to help out financially, spiritually, and with child care." 
They call that emerging adulthood.  It's where children stay at home with their parents longer and marry later.  And they rely on their parents financially, spiritually, and for child care...for an unspecified amount of their post-emergent adulthood.


Maybe this isn't about marriage at all.  Maybe it's about owning our choices.  Maybe it's about acting like adults when we become one, not ten years later because society says we can.
And that's all I have to say about that.  ~Forrest Gump

Flashback Friday: My Pregnancy "Diet"

Just for fun, I was thinking back to that first pregnancy with Ben today.  No doubt about it, life was C-H-A-O-S for Sam and me at that point, and I think that affected how I coped with pregnancy.  It was rough, that first one.  The second two were less rough, but equally challenging in their own ways.  And this, time I just feel old.  While each and every one of my four pregnancies have been different from each other, the most notable variation comes down to - you guessed it - food.

With sweet, chunky baby boy, Benjamin, I spent the first trimester abstaining from meat because I just couldn't stand the smell of it.  This included Sam's favorite, Zaxby's chicken, and my former favorite, Sonny's BBQ.  Luckily (?), we were back in both of these places before long because the aversion to meat passed, but I assure you that was earth-shattering for this near-carnivore.  I subsisted on Cheez-It's, a daily can of Cherry Coke, and a more-than-frequent Twix bar.  Almost as surprising to me as the aversion to meat, was my sudden desire for anything and everything sweet.  I ate cupcakes, cookies, candy, even Reeses Peanut Butter cups (which I used to despise).  All of my life, up to that point, I had been almost an exclusively savory snack kind of person.  Unfortunately, that pregnancy changed me to an equal opportunity snacker.  And I've been that way every since.  (I suspect that explains my "new" body type.)  I gained over 40lbs with Ben.  Reading this now, that's not at all shocking.  The only two specific cravings I remember were for sourdough bread and rice pudding, both of which I satisfied by walking to the grocery store down the street from our apartment one afternoon.  Easy enough.

With tiny hiney, Abby, I was determined not to gain as much weight.  First of all, I didn't enjoy getting chastised by my OB every time I had a weight check.  Secondly, I was terrified of my subsequent children being larger than 8lbs 13.7oz, which the doctors assured me was a very real possibility as kids tend to trend upwards in weight.  Thirdly, I just didn't feel awesome the first go round and I was determined to take better care of myself.  I drank a lot more water, exercised more regularly, opted for baked potatoes instead of fries whenever possible, and ate way more salads.  I did feel better.  I gained 26lbs.  Not too shabby.  Abby weighed 8lbs 8oz, which was still not small but likely would have been easier to deliver than Ben had she not been face-up instead of face-down.  My cravings with her were chocolate milk and a new sudden desire to eat black olives whenever possible.  Preferably the kind in the Greek Salad at Atlanta Bread Company.  So random.  What's interesting about my pregnancy preferences is that they last for the rest of my life.

With my "unknown" #3, I would say I averaged my lifestyle between Ben and Abby's pregnancies.  I certainly ate better than I did with Ben, but didn't exercise as much as I did with Abby.  I ended up gaining slightly over 30lbs.  Because we didn't know the gender of the baby, and because I had such dramatically different pregnancies between Ben & Abby, we used to have fun trying to guess the gender of the baby based on my cravings and feelings.  Right off the bat, I craved steak and pizza.  That was new.  My friends guessed that meant it was a boy.  After all, those are boy foods.  (Unless your name is Jennie.)  The only really weird thing with #3 was that I developed a taste for onions.  The raw kind - in salads.  Suddenly I couldn't get enough of them.  I drank a good bit of chocolate milk again.  She was a beautiful 8lb baby girl.  What in the world would life be like without lil' Sarah?  I'm trying to figure out how onions played into her personality...

Here we are with #4.  35 weeks and 2 days into another completely unique pregnancy.  Right around 7 weeks gestation, for about two months, I completely and totally lost my taste for coffee.  COFFEE.  If you don't know, I'm a little bit of an addict.  I switch to decaf during pregnancy and while nursing, but I couldn't even stand the smell of the stuff for a solid two months.  Strangest experience of my life (okay, maybe not the single strangest, but it ranks right up there).  My cravings have included deviled eggs, chicken salad (Sam's recipe - because he's the bomb), and nuts - walnuts, pecans, cashews - I devour them by the handful.  It's a regular protein-fest around here.  I also have found that I am so very thirsty at night and I find myself chugging water just before bedtime.  You know what this means (hello - incessant nighttime bathroom breaks).  So is it a boy or a girl?  We'll find out in four or five weeks (I hope!).

This go round I've felt...old.  I wake up in the mornings feeling refreshed and renewed, and by the time the afternoon rolls around, I'm ready for a nap.  If I don't succumb, my back makes me pay for it the rest of the night (and in turn, my attitude and patience-level suffer too).  That said, today, I will nap.  Especially since I spent the morning moving a wood pile in my backyard.  Why did I do that?  Because a) I was tired of seeing it out my kitchen windows for the past year, b) it was perfect weather for an outdoor project, c) I figure if my back is going to hurt either way, I might as well do some work to earn the aches and pains.

The end.  I apologize to you, blog readers, for this drivel.  Sometimes I forget this isn't necessarily my personal diary, and you may not care about all of these details.  But just in case you do - did you have any unusual pregnancy cravings and/or aversions?  Tell me about them!

And I'll leave you with this - me, at 35 weeks with our #4 (can't wait to meet him/her!)...

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