Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sharing in God's Joy

I woke early this morning, which isn't really that unusual, considering I have to go to the bathroom quite frequently these days. But for some reason, about a half an hour before my alarm went off, I awoke, one of those satisfied, awake wakenings. I don't think either Jason or Adria (en utero) were awake yet, so it was still and quiet and comfortable, with no distractions, and I just began to pray. I awoke so thankful this morning, and in my mind's eye saw myself with my arms lifted, spinning before the Lord. I remember how much fun it was to spin in my childhood, and so for me this little visual imagery was such a very joyous and free action before the Lord, and full of adoration and praise. And the words I settled on with God were "Lord, share your joy with me today!" The Joy of the Lord! How incredible a thought that he would lavish and share that with us! How precious a commodity, and how generous to share it! But already in my mind's eye there I was, sharing in it. And for those rare, short moments, I just wallowed in enjoying God and his joy before the day even started. I wonder what the rest of the day will look like, what it might look like for God to share his joy with me. (I even thought with a laugh, well, it might mean that Adria comes today--what greater joy could there be for a parent than to enjoy her child like that--and God IS our Father!)

So often I miss out on joy. I don't look for it, don't expect it, and certainly don't ask for it! I also miss out on enjoying God's presence, whether too tired, or distracted, or embarassed to just let my guard down and go before him, just as I am.

But today I asked. So I wonder what this day will hold for my heart. :)

And here's a nice encouraging verse to go along with these thoughts: "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Monday, September 27, 2010

Signs the baby is coming soon...

1. Your belly button sticks out--where do you think those Thanksgiving Turkey companies got that idea?

2. You've officially run out of room in your abdomen to eat. Miraculously you still pee all the time, but no room for food.

3. The baby starts trying to claw or kick herself out the side of your stomach. Down, baby! Go down!

4. Inexplicably, even though you can hardly roll over in bed, silly things in the house just have to be cleaned--for me it was the toilets and sweeping the kitchen floor. Okay, so maybe it's not actual nesting yet...

5. You start referring to Braxton Hicks by his first name, as if you were old friends.

6. Laughing too hard or activities that require twisting like driving on a winding road or backing up a car make you feel as if you've just had a work out.

Any others??

Friday, September 24, 2010

37 weeks

Today marks 37 weeks, which means our little baby bundle is officially full term! So basically whenever she comes is when she comes, no stopping her, and her lungs will likely have no problems. Yippie for my full term little girl!

I had a doctor's appointment this morning, and got 2 pieces of what I thought were good news. What I thought were very good news. #1 is that I do not carry the Strep B bacteria strain (which about a third of women do), which is just treated by antibiotics in an IV during labor and delivery. That way the antibiotics get to the baby while you're delivering, and if she's exposed to the bacteria, no biggie. But for me, I don't have to worry about it, and that just means one less thing I'll be hooked up to while in the hospital. It would have been fine to have to have the IV drip--and anything for my baby--but I think it'll just make things easier all along the way to stay away from machines and medication as much as we can. Plus, if I want to walk or move around or go to the ladies room, I won't be hooked into something. I think this is a very positive encouragement towards our hopes of going au naturel.

And the second piece of good news is that (here's fair warning that a little bit of TMI is on it's way) we're still not dialated at all--the door is shut, and baby girl is staying put for the time being! So, even though she's considered full term, she's still got some slow cooking to finish up, and she seems to be doing quite well. Just a happy little update for my happy little baby!

Totally cheesy, I know, but doesn't she look happy?? Jason just laughs and shakes his head any time I do this! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I know I can... Be what I wanna be... If I work hard at it... I'll be where I wanna be...

A little inspirational rap anyone? I've had the lyrics to that little chorus by rapper NAS in my head the last few days, and with all the pondering I've been doing lately, part of what I'm pondering about is whether those lyrics are still true for me. I still feel like I'm figuring out what I want to be "when I grow up", and like there's still time for me! But so much of the challenge for me has come down to--well what DO I want to be? Where should I put my efforts? Time? Energy? MONEY?

I have a great amount of loyalty to the company I work for presently. I worked here right out of college, and they treated me well. After pursuing some other options, they supported me while I was on mission in Sarajevo. They supported Jason, too! And when I returned, they took me back on! I've now been promoted to what I'd say is middle-management, and they continue to be one of the most supportive environments I've worked for. However, I just don't care a thing about being a Probation Officer. There isn't really anywhere to go from here, and if I'm still in this same office and at this same desk with these same clients in 10 years, I know I'm not going to be happy about it. Heck, if I'm here in 5 years, it won't hold any meaning for me. It'll be a good job, for a good company. But that's where it ends. So what is it for me?

Growing up I was just sure that I wanted to be a Psychologist... maybe along the lines of a Christian counselor. I watched shows like Frasier, who was a shrink. I worked a summer with my Psychologist uncle in his clinic in Chicago helping with filing and billing. I majored in Psychology at Mercer University, and loved my classes. I've applied for graduate studies twice--with rejection letters right out of school, an acceptance to North Georgia, but I wasn't able to afford to start classes at the time. But now that I'm out here in the workforce already a little, I'm having second thoughts. I primarily work with the "delinquent" population presently--the alcoholics, drug addicts, and wife beaters. And I know the biggest need for mental health workers comes in the form of group therapy for those demographics, or of serious mental illnesses, the type that require corrective medication, hospitalization, etc. And to be honest--that's not what I'm interested in. I wanted to help people like ME, to deal with their issues and hang ups, to experience freedom, and to see change happen in their lives. I just don't think there's a big market for clients like me, and am not entirely sure where that path would take me.

I also spend a lot of time now in the courthouse or courtroom, preparing for, watching, or participating in court proceedings. I was especially involved when I was with the Public Defender's Office, working as an investigator. Basically I was digging up facts, witnesses, and interviews, to find out "the rest of the story", and helping build court cases for trial. Or to plead out, when it turned out the facts were pretty clearly against our clients! And I really loved that job! I loved that environment. I loved the challenge, and the excitement of trial--seeing how things played out. But if I were to go back there, I'd be just as stuck as I am at my present job--mid level, no advancement opportunities, doing the same thing for the next 20 years. In order to really get into the action, I'd need to go to law school and become a practicing attorney, as opposed to someone behind the scenes putting things together for someone else to use. And as much as I like that environment and the excitement, I don't really want to be an attorney. I see it as a bit unstable: you win or you lose. You recruit clients and cases or you don't. You're out there on your own trying to win cases, with seeming little support. I wouldn't mind being a Judge! :) But although I've thought about it, I don't think I'm actually interested in being an attorney, or in the path it would take to get me there.

So that path is eliminated. And I wonder what's left for me. Where would I really like to go to work each day? What environment would I really feel free in, and what population would I really like to invest myself in? And one option that has risen to the top now is to become a Spanish teacher. Perhaps in high school, but perhaps even one day at a college or university! I majored in Psychology, but I also majored in Spanish. I studied for a few months in Spain, and I speak Spanish with my clients on a daily basis at my job here. I'm not sure I'm good enough to be an interpreter, like at the courthouse. But you know what they say--those who can't do, teach. And I think it would be a HOOT to be a Spanish teacher! I most certainly would be kooky and make class fun and easy to be successful at, and hopefully I'd be able to inspire some students for a love of the language, culture and people the way it's been instilled in me. Because I really do have a love of those things and those people. Besides--could you beat the schedule and benefits?

I don't exactly know what it would take for me to get from here to there. I have a degree, but not in education. I know I'll have to take the GACE certification test, but even something as simple as taking a test to open a door is scary and intimidating to me right now. What if I don't pass!? (The obvious answer is, well, then you don't pass. Nothing lost!) But still, intimidated.

I just sometimes feel like I have a hunger inside me for something more. For passion, for achievement, for life! I don't want to settle. But as a still young person choosing what path I want my life to follow, I know there's time, but it still feels so big and scary to actually pick a dream or a goal and really go for it.

I know I can be what I wanna be. If I work hard at it, I'll be where I wanna be. Those words could still be true for me. I could choose a dramatic change, I could really go for it and pursue it. And pursue it, and pursue it, until I was able to make it happen. In fact, I'd think it was a dream come true to be a Spanish professor in a college somewhere. But what do I have to do to get from here to there? #1 is not be too scared to do anything. #2 is to identify what small achievable steps I can take in the short run. And then I think #3 is to go for it!

There's a proverb that goes something like "the plans of a man are in his heart, but his steps belong to the Lord." God has put me exactly where I am right now, with closed doors along the way, and perhaps an open door yet in front of me. Lord, I want to go for it! I admit that I'm scared! But help me to live the fullness of life that I potentially have in front of me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Long anticipated maternity photos!!!

A few of my favorite things...

I have enjoyed this pregnancy so much, and as we're wrapping it up (finishing strong!), it's fun to think back over the last few months about some of my favorite experiences and things we've done so far:

like Jason's rocking 30th birthday party! I don't know if I've ever thrown a party that rocking! (That was the same day we found out about Baby A!)

and getting to see her first sonogram, and hear that heartbeat for the first time! Aaaamazing! That's when it became real! Absolutely a once in a lifetime experience to see life happening before your eyes like that for the first time!

or our 2 camping trips, once just Jason and myself, and once for our annual Memorial Day camping trip, along with several other fishing trips--anything to get us outdoors and into the woods! (And I have to say how PROUD I am of that HUGE fish I caught--the biggest one of the whole Memorial Day weekend!)

finding out about our baby GIRL, Jason's fabulous reaction, and the slow sweeping realization that I'm going to have a daughter of my very own! My own girl, and dare I be so bold--hopefully my own little mini-me!

EVERY time I hear her heartbeat.

or our numerous trips to the park and the lake with Max--I get such a kick out of watching him jump, chase and swim for that stinkin' ball he loves so much! In fact, Max has generally been more affectionate and mindful the last few months. I wonder if he knows he's getting a little sister?! I can't wait to see them together!

and of course hanging out at the little beach/lake park off Clarks Bridge Road... Pregnant or not, I LOVE being in the water! I loved packing up a lunch, and books, and sunscreen, and literally just soaking in those moments.

or going kayaking for the first time in the cove at Thompson Bridge Park. I can't believe we got to do that at 7-8 months pregnant (I can't remember when it was exactly), but like I said, I just want to be in the water! And they were REALLY easy going boats. And for the record, I didn't flip even once, but Jason did! Hee hee!

and even going out on little adventures--to hang out in Dahlonega with Jason, walking the square, eating ice cream, hanging out on the drill field. Or to Alpharetta with Lacey--girls night out! Exploring in Savannah on our way back from the family beach trip, and a surprise expedition to Athens!

so many little baby kicks!

of course the deeper and ever-increasing strong and affectionate love Jason and I are growing, right along with this growing baby belly.

and just being showered with so much love, and so many gifts! I have KNOWN God's love and provision during these months, and am so looking forward to knowing what it's like to love, and give yourself for, and train, and forgive, and teach a child, to maybe understand a little more what He's really like towards us.

So many sweet moments! So many simple things! Ah, but these are a few of my favorite things!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And the countdown begins...

Well, the countdown officially begins tomorrow! I think. Or maybe yesterday. I'm not entirely sure. See, yesterday was September 15, and we're due October 15, so that makes us officially a month out! But we're not officially 36 weeks until tomorrow... and all things in baby-world are counted in weeks, only normal life things are counted in months... so I'm not sure what happens with the countdown. All I know is that we're due in less than a month! (But are still technically 35 weeks, ha!)

The baby's head is still down... quite far down, if you ask the sonogram tech we saw this morning! And she's facing inward, which I hear is the right direction. People look at me and think she's going to be small, but I'm not so sure about that. Call it mother's intuition (what the heck? Can I really claim that already??), but I think she's bigger than people think. Well, when we went to the 3D/4D place she was measuring bigger than people expected by looking at me, and it seemed the same today. The sonogram tech (who are notoriously unreliable about making this kind of estimation), measured her at about 6 lbs 2 oz. Which, at ALMOST 36 weeks, seems big to me! (And was bigger than the doc had guessed.) But, whether I've lost my senses or not, I kind of want a big baby... a robust, healthy baby, I suppose. I do understand she still has to get out somehow... and there's really only one direction... and that we have been talking about going natural... so yes, it does seem as though I've lost my senses. :) But when it has to do with her, isn't that a little normal, too?

In any event, things are still going swimmingly. She's kicking up a storm, and lately she's been kneeing me often as well. Which doesn't seem like it'd be that enjoyable, really, but it thrills me when I see my stomach bulging out and her little KNEE moving around. Jason has gotten a hold of her whole foot before, so it really does seem like she's growing, growing, growing (and running out of room)! We had a great chatty time with the doc this morning, lots of questions, lots of answers, and best of all, lots of support.

Not to share too much information, but, nothing is really... changing... just yet, so I think Baby Adria is pretty comfy right where she's at, so I'm still just working, trying to get everything in order, and enjoying our last bit of couple time as much as possible!

Still... the countdown has begun! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

A classic surprise from a classic friend in the classic city

So at 8 months pregnant, I've definitely slowed down, but I recognize how precious these last few weeks where it's just Jason and myself are. So when he asked me sometime during the week if I wanted to go to Athens on Saturday and hang out with a friend of his who recently moved down there from Gainesville for school, I thought "heck yes I do!" I kept asking about the plan, because I wanted to dress appropriately and I didn't want to slow the boys down, and did his friend really invite him down, and want ME to come too? Things were a little vague, but they sometimes are with boy-plans, and I was just so happy to be going! We printed out directions to the Mellow Mushroom where we were meeting for lunch, and I navigated through town (neither of us ever having spent any significant time in Athens), and there was the perfect parking spot, right when we pulled up. We were just paying the meter and getting out when there was an exuberant "hey!" coming from a few cars over--only it didn't sound like Jason's friend at all... I looked over, and there stood one of my most treasured childhood/current friends, one of my "golden girls"--none other than Deana Leigh Keathley!

I have to admit, I was so confused. And to be honest, my first thoughts were "what in the world is she doing here, and what an incredible coincidence to run into her in ATHENS!!! And wait a minute, it's not like she hangs out here anymore, this is a long way from North Carolina. And wait a minute, if she's here just hanging out, then where are her husband and baby?" Like I said, confused! And so I looked to Jason, who didn't seem confused or surprised at all, and after a few minutes, I finally became convinced that we weren't meeting Jason's friend at all, this had all been conspired for ME to get to see my dear friend DEANA!

I'm sure I walked around a bit dazed for a few minutes before I recovered my senses, but I sure hope they both knew it was genuine surprise!!! We DID still eat at Mellow Mushroom (yum!!), and had a WONDERFUL time being GIRLIE and catching up and enjoying each other, and wouldn't you know it, Jason just joined in with Deana and I the way I'd been anticipating joining in with he and his friend, and just let us sit and visit for as long as we wanted! What a great husband! The UGA game started about halfway through our lunch, and the restaurant turned into a bar with hollering fans, but we lingered over our table just long enough to lavish in the fact that we had a table but the football fans didn't, when we decided to walk around Athens a bit before Deana DID have to get back to her dear husband and sweet baby. So, we gave the table to the fans after a small stalemate. :)

It wasn't nearly long enough of a visit, but it was such a special thing for Deana and Jason to arrange, and a one-time-shot for Deana, since she just happened to be visiting her parents in Augusta, and had one window of time she was able to get away, and it just felt wonderful to be spent upon that way. They both spent of their time and effort and love to create such a fabulous treat for me!

When Deana and I first met, we were each members of the "I hate Beth Club", and the "I hate Deana club" respectively, but after one weekend at a youth group retreat, our forever friendship was forged, and she has remained such a source of joy and acceptance and fun in my life. What a fabulous surprise from none other than 2 of my favorite people in the world!

So here are a few pics--me with Jason's beer glass being silly, and puttering around town after we scarfed down our fabulous TACO pizza! (Sigh--how many of my favorite things can you fit into one afternoon??)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Baby #2

My dearest "Baby #2",

You may not believe this, but I'm already thinking and dreaming about you! We're coming up on the end of your big sister's pregnancy; she should be with us in around a month or so, plus or minus. Which means you're still quite a long way off from your beginning! But even in the midst of all our excitement over our first pregnancy and the birth of our first child, your dad and I are thinking about and dreaming about you, too.

You're in no way second in our hearts and minds--that'll just be your place in our family. We are so excited about welcoming your sister when she arrives, but just know that our family will not be complete without you.

We love you already. I wonder what the road will look like that brings you to us--who you'll be, when you'll join us, how everything will go. But just know, blessed child, that your place in our family is already secure, and in time, we look forward to welcoming you too.

Lots of love,
Your Mama

Friday, September 10, 2010

35 weeks--oh the feelings I'm feeling!

I suppose I never really understood or gave credit to those pregnant ladies who came before me. Swollen extremities? Pshaw. Excessive weariness? Napping like a champ but being unable to sleep at night? Dropping things? Really going to the bathroom every hour on the hour? Forgetting how to do simple math like 4+8? (The answer is 12!!) Seriously?

Alas... I don't really think it was all just made up, anymore! I'm a believer! (I told Jason I thought my fingers were swollen the other day, then looked down to see if my toes were. I had to stick my foot out to see them. Not yet. Then I just took a moment to admire my recently pedicured watermelon colored toes. He just laughed at me--I don't think he's necessarily a believer yet! Oh well, we've got 5 weeks still to convince him!)

So I'll just be honest--body image and weight gain have been a semi-constant presence in my mind for the last however many weeks. In the beginning it was all about nutrition, controlling weight, getting the right things to my baby, etc. I almost felt more tied in to diet and nutrition than before I was pregnant. But I like to count things (cars, windows on houses, calories, etc.), so it worked out alright for me. Now, in these latter weeks, it feels like the pressure has only intensified. I know I'm not supposed to weigh myself every day to see where I'm at, but I've always done it, always been conscious of what the scales said, so how could this time be any different? Let me tell you, I thought it would be a big deal to hit the big "one-five-oh", but it seems God has graciously gotten me through it... I never even saw it! We skipped DIRECTLY past 150 and started upwards! So much for my "pound a week" goal! I am getting to where I want to eat all the time, but where I feel like unchecked weight gain will have the biggest consequences, like stretch marks, intensified backaches, and difficulty dropping the weight after baby comes, so it's a terrible internal struggle! (And if you can believe it, I've almost completely stopped counting things! Yikes! It seems the lure of the chocolate cupcake is stronger than my urge to count.)

I do still feel pretty darned good about myself, and my pregnant figure. But there are SO MANY new feelings and changes that are foreign to me now that I'm processing through, like getting out of breath way more easily, high heels making my feet ache, and having my chest actually fold over and touch my stomach now. (Even at that, it only happens occasionally! Ha!) So I'm just experiencing an awareness of all these changes, probably just warming me up for, as people sooo like to remind pregnant couples, "having children changes everything!" (No, you think??) And I think the only thing one can really control is your weight, so that's why it's become a sticking point. Kind of. ;)

But I think it comes down to this: there still ARE 5 weeks to go--probably, round about--and I want to finish strong, the same way I've been proud of this whole pregnancy. But... like I mentioned at the beginning--it truly is harder than it seems! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

8th letter to my child

My dearest daughter,

Your Gamma came up to visit with me yesterday and today, and we ended up having such a special time together. Mother-daughter relationships are unique and special things, and I enjoy the time spent with my own mother so much. We had a great time getting pedicures and sitting in a coffee shop, shopping around in Target and going to dinner, but I want to tell you about a very special time we had together yesterday.

My mom, your Gamma, came with me to my 34 week doctor's check-up! Gamma didn't get to go to doctor's check-ups and things like that with your older cousin Brayden, so even though she already has a grandson, she hasn't been to a baby doctor's appointment in 28 years (since she had me 28 years ago).

We had been having a grand old time, and Gamma just sat in the exam room listening while I chatted with the doctor about specific little questions, but when it came time to check your heartbeat, the doctor put the little dopplar device on my belly, and as soon as I heard that beautiful, familiar thump, thump, thump, my eyes flashed over to your Gamma, so I could see her reaction. Her eyes got as wide as saucers, and then they filled up with happy tears! Well, when MY mama cries, I cry too (somehow it's an unspoken agreement we have), so I started to tear up too, and we laughed and I joked with her that I'd TOLD her there was a baby in there!

The doctor looked back and forth between your Gamma and I and laughed a little too--"You'll have to tell me how long to leave this thing on here," he joked, "because now I'd feel like a heel if I took it off! You two are going to have me crying here, too!"

It was a wonderful and beautiful and silly moment for the three of us to share (and the doctor too), and once again I'm just reminded of how well loved you're going to be--and already are!

We can't wait to meet you!
Your mama

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Golden Girls

That wonderfully popular '80s TV show "The Golden Girls" featuring Blanche, Sophia, Rose and Dorothy seems to have made a resurgence in recent days! In fact, I personally am a "fan" of Rose's Betty White on Facebook! (Everyone remember that AWESOME Superbowl commercial she was in?? So what is it that has lasted so well about that old TV show? It's this unshakable longing for and fulfillment that only comes through "heart friends".

I guess I've been somewhat sentimental, or insecure, or sensitive, or let's just say it--hormonal--these last few days, because something I've had on my mind and in my heart is this question: "Am I really ok?" I can't really explain the question any better than that, but it has something to do with at my core, is Who I Am really ok, or normal, or good enough, or acceptable? Of course my mom says I am, and thankfully, unwaveringly, so does my husband. But somehow for us women, there is acceptance or "okay-ness" that can only be expressed or nurtured in us through other women.

And I am pleased to say that in the blustering winds of all this insecurity, I have been blessed with at least 4 friends who come immediately to mind who have known me for years, who know me in and out--through the good times and the very very bad times, and who have stuck with me anyway, and the thought of your friendships, ladies, has helped me to remember during these shaky times, that I am okay. I know that I am ok because you've said so through your faithful love and friendship! Why else would you have stuck with me?

Sometimes even as a grown up it's hard and scary to make new friends, to let people in and risk that once they know you they won't really like you. And I've had some grown up relationships like that too--I just haven't clicked with everyone and made amazing new friendships with some of the women I've come across--even though they're amazing in their own rights! But you know what? I have come across a few "heart friends" in recent days too!

So between those golden friendships, girls, you're helping to sustain me, and you're helping to keep me opening up and to stretch and grow. I LOVE you girls, and I'm so grateful for what your friendships have meant for me and done in and for me in recent years.