It's still a bit surreal, sitting down to write out the story of how we found out we were expecting our fifth baby! I never thought about having five kids until the last couple years, and even then I was mostly working on convincing my heart that we were done at four. As I sit here typing, I'm just feeling so grateful that the Lord has better plans than our own.
I guess this story sort of starts when I was pregnant with Clarice. I didn't write about it much, because I ended up being wrong, but when I first got pregnant with Clarice, I was convinced it was twins. Her pregnancy and all my symptoms were so different than any of my other pregnancies, it seemed to make sense. Of course I found out that there was indeed only one baby in there, but for that brief period of time I had five kids on the brain. After I found out it would only be four, five would never quite let go.
A few months after Clarice was born, I remember sitting there, looking at my beautiful family, my four beautiful kids, and feeling a sense of contentment...but at the same time, I had this niggling little feeling somewhere inside. It kept whispering that maybe someone was still missing.
The feeling persisted, and I mostly tried to dismiss it, because four had always been our number. Five really hadn't been on the radar. When I told Derek how I felt, we prayed about it for a few months, and went on with daily life. I had heard from other moms that even after their last baby they never felt "done", so I tried to convince myself that this was all part of the normal adjustment after you pass your child-bearing phase.
I cleaned out some of our baby items, and dropped them off at the pregnancy center and the thrift store. When we gave away the activity "city" that we got when Wyatt was a baby, Derek turned to me and told me that it all made him a little sad. He was feeling good about four, but seeing our baby things sitting on the pavement made him sad that it appeared to be all over. I was a little sad too, but tried not to think about it, because the thought of being done was always sad. And that was normal, right?
I had a couple months after I got my cycles back when I almost convinced myself I was pregnant, because my premenstrual symptoms were so different after Clarice - every month they were more like early pregnancy symptoms than PMS. After a couple months of torturing myself, I decided to stop charting the second part of my cycle, and stop paying attention to my "symptoms" that kept turning out to not be pregnancy symptoms at all. My thought was that if I wasn't having to record my temperature every morning during the second part of my cycle, I wouldn't be thinking about our methods and the probability of us getting a surprise, and I wouldn't have time to talk myself into the idea of being pregnant.
So in February I charted until I knew we were safe, marked when my next cycle would start on the calendar, and didn't think about it.
Technically, I knew I could start on Friday, but it could also be Saturday, so I packed a few feminine things in my purse on Saturday March 4th, and I went off on my antique store shopping trip with my mom and sister. I got home later, helped Derek with the kids, and read a book the rest of the afternoon. That evening I remembered that I hadn't started, and decided to take a test the next morning. Just to rule it out. Then I could take that information and predict my ovulation a little more accurately the next cycle. It wouldn't be the first time I ovulated a day or two later than I thought.
So the next morning, when I pulled out that test, I wasn't particularly careful while taking it. I didn't count to exactly five seconds. I didn't really think it would be positive.
I popped in my contacts, and went back to look at the test sitting on the side of the tub. One solid line, so I looked to the next window, and with a bit of a start, realized there was a very faint second line forming. My heart picked up a little, and I sat there with my chin in my hand, completely bewildered as the line got darker and darker.
I figured out later that if I had taken a little more care to study the test before I took it, I would have known that I was squinting that whole time at the control line. The test line was the dark line that I could see clearly before I even got the contact solution out of my eyes.
I was pregnant!
Looking back, I should have been a little suspicious. I had been exhausted for an entire week, I was waking up twice every night to use the bathroom, and I had cried one night merely because Derek hadn't emptied the dishwasher. But my PMS had been so weird for months, I really didn't suspect anything! I never thought I would ever be truly surprised to be pregnant because I am usually so in tune with my body, but this one really did surprise me.
I called Derek downstairs and told him immediately. He laughed, shook his head, and then I think we were both a bit in shock for the rest of the day. It didn't even feel real until the next morning. We were having a fifth baby!
We started to get more and more excited, and now I am honestly thrilled and super protective of my sweet baby bean!
That first day I think we were most nervous by what people would say. I read an article last year, "Honest Thoughts On Having A Fifth Baby", and I re-read it after we found out we were pregnant. I feel like I could have written much of it. Five babies are not common in our society today, and people can be so rude. I had already received rude reactions when I couldn't 100% confirm over the previous year that we were done having babies, and I was worried because I so wanted this baby to be celebrated and welcomed as all my other kids have been. I highly encourage you to go read that article, so you know the proper (and improper) response if you ever have a friend who has or wants an unusual number of kids.
Thankfully though, all of my people must have gotten the memo, because the reactions to our fifth little blessing have been mostly positive! Our friends and family are all excited for us. And if we get any negative reactions, I think our attitude is - who cares? If someone is going to give us grief for joyfully accepting this God-ordained blessing, they don't count, and their opinion is the thing that is not welcome here. We are celebrating and excited to welcome this precious new life!
In retrospect, I think that the niggling feeling that our family was missing someone wasn't just "normal", it was the Holy Spirit telling us to just hang on and wait a little longer because God wasn't done growing our family yet. I wrote last year about how I was feeling convicted about the typical view of family size, as if this is the one area that we should control ourselves. But God should have a say. Neither Derek nor I was feeling complete peace about closing that door, and now we know why! I am so thankful for God nudging us to wait, because that little niggly hole in my heart is filled up by this sweet baby. I can't wait to hold him or her in November!
I'm six and a half weeks now (update coming soon), but here is my four week picture in the meantime!
I'm six and a half weeks now (update coming soon), but here is my four week picture in the meantime!
If there is one thing I have learned about motherhood, it's that we all transition into it differently. Some sail into motherhood on a cloud. Everything comes easily, and they enjoy every minute of it. Others crash into motherhood with a rude awakening, and it looks nothing like they thought it would.
But every mom I know would say how much she loves being a mom, and one look into those precious little faces just puts everything into perspective, no matter the entrance into this mothering journey.
Still, I can guarantee there will come a time when you need some encouragement as a mom. Maybe it's right away when you just need to make it through one more sleepless night, or maybe it will be a couple years down the road when you have a rough day and worry you are messing your kids up. Sometimes you just need that extra boost to remind you that the work you are doing has significance. Every ounce of energy you put into you kids matters, more than you think. It matters to your kids, and it matters to God.
So to help remind you, I wanted to share some Bible verses that I find encouraging on those days when mothering is hard. If you are in a rough patch, I hope these will bring you some hope! And if you are feeling like you have this mom thing down, just tuck this post away for a time when it doesn't feel so easy.
I have broken these down into times of day - I know I need different reminders in the morning than I do in the evening. Memorize these verses so you can bring them to mind when you need them (you can even teach them to your kids while you are at it)!
For The Morning
"The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
I love this verse for rough days, because it reminds me that no matter how badly I mess up, the Lord loves me and tomorrow is a fresh day.
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
The best wake-up verse you could ask for!
"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are." 1 John 3:1
When you look at the cute little faces of your children, remember that the Lord loves you even more than you love them!
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24
Motivation to keep going strong - because when we are serving our families, we are really serving Jesus!
For The Evening
"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Philippians 2:14-15
When you are starting to feel "the witching hour" (i.e. the hour before dad gets home when everyone goes crazy), remember this verse. I don't know about you, but I want to be a light in the world, and be an example to my kids by not grumbling when I feel like it. Still working on this one.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoicing usually comes more naturally in the morning when I am refreshed and energetic! I typically need the reminders to rejoice and give thanks more in the evening, when I am tired.
For The Middle Of The Night
"When you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4
This verse is about giving to the poor, but the concept of being seen by God when we give sacrificially without drawing attention to ourselves is also encouraging to me as a mom.
"May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge." Ruth 2:12
My prayer for you, friends! Seek refuge in Him, be faithful in this work of loving and training your children, and may the Lord reward your work!
And as a little pre-Valentine's day gift to my newsletter subscribers, I am giving you these verses as free printables! Somehow I find it easier to remember a verse if it is printed on a pretty card. I hope you enjoy these cards and find the verses an encouragement like I do!
If you are already a subscriber to my blog newsletter, these should be sitting in your inbox - if you are not a subscriber, sign up below, and I'll send them to you within a week! These cards also stack well with my printable verses for labor.
I am so grateful for all of you who take time to read my musings! Enjoy!
Please note: These printable are for personal use only. Do not redistribute or sell in any way. Giving them in printed form as a gift is fine, but please redirect people to this post for the digital files. Thanks guys!
“So are you done?”
I was a bit taken aback, not by her question, but by the tone. We have been asked many times since having Clarice if we think we will have any more. I know people are curious, because it is unusual to have four kids these days (even though really, it’s not that many, people!). But this seemed more in-your-face than the normal questioning.
I gave my standard answer. “Yeah, probably.”
I knew as soon as I uttered that second word that it was a mistake this time.
Yes. Derek and I are very happy with four kids, and that’s all we ever really talked about having. We are done.
I guess when you already have four kids people expect you to know 100% whether you are having any more. But lately, every time I am asked, I can’t quite make myself drop the “probably” from my answer.
We are in uncharted territory this week! I have never even made it to 39 weeks with any of the other kids, much less gone overdue!
I am feeling good - baby dropped a few weeks ago, and now that she is not up in my ribs all the time I am pretty comfortable. No false labor. I had cramps for a couple days between 38-39 weeks, but nothing for the last week. Occasional Braxton Hicks, but barely worth mentioning. Baby seems to be very happy staying in there as long as she can get away with.
She scared me by barely moving one day a couple weeks ago, so I went in for a non-stress test and biological profile. They estimated her to be about 7 lbs, 6 oz. I'm curious to see how big she really is when she comes! I do know that she is big enough that her sudden movements are actually painful, which only happened rarely, if ever, in previous pregnancies. There is just not much room left in there!
This might be my last pregnancy update (fingers crossed)! I am 38 weeks pregnant, and I have never made it past 39 weeks, so the next baby update could be a birth announcement!
The week before last week was the most uncomfortable week that I have ever spent pregnant. Maybe it is because this is my fourth baby, but my body is taking this pregnancy a lot harder than my last three.
The good news is that Baby has dropped! She was so high for a while there that it hurt to bend over at all, but I am finally able to tie my own shoes again with only reasonable effort. I think this may be part of why this pregnancy has been harder - my other three all started out low. Since she dropped last week, I have been feeling a lot more comfortable and energetic.
You know what I find annoying? The way they, whoever "they" are, decided to move back the marker for reaching "term" in a pregnancy. It used to be 36 weeks back when I was pregnant with Wyatt, and 37 weeks was full term. Now I think 37 weeks is term, and 38 weeks is full term? I don't know, I just know I have reached 36 weeks, which would mean I have reached term if this were four years ago!
It had been a fairly good day, and I was almost to the end of it. The kids were eating their macaroni in the kitchen, and I went into their rooms to find their pajamas. That’s when I saw that at some point during the day the kids had bunched the covers all up on Wyatt’s bed.
I sighed, because it was just one more piece of work to do, and I climbed onto his bed as I tugged and pulled the covers into submission. Before I knew it, a wave of that pregnancy fatigue crashed over me (it has just been intense this time around), and I collapsed onto the half-made bed - literally too exhausted to move.
I just laid there for a few minutes, and without even consciously letting my mind go there, the words “I can’t do this anymore” flitted across my brain.
Another two weeks have gone by already! I took an un-intentional blog break over the last week and a half, and it was a good break - allowed me time to get things under control before this little girl arrives!
I am now 34 weeks in this pregnancy, and Baby Girl definitely seems to be growing. Her kicks and movements are much stronger. As far as I can tell, she has stayed head-down, and her movements are so much more fun now there her feet are higher! I can feel little limbs and her bum through my belly, and she seems to have gotten a little braver and is interacting with my poking and prodding a little more.
This week I am 32 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby! Only two months (or less) to go.
I am feeling good this week, except for heartburn that is ramping up a little bit. Hopefully this means Baby Girl is growing some hair, but we will see! I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions here and there. I feel like our little girl is doing somersaults in there, because ever since my last doctor's appointment her kicks have been all over the place.
We are into the thirties now! I am thirty weeks today.
We had a doctor's appointment a week or so ago, and I had another ultrasound since they couldn't see everything they needed to last time. The tech was really sweet, and she kind of went over all the anatomy again. It was fun to have practically another whole anatomy scan and spend all that time looking at our girl!
We got a few adorable shots of our little girl's face, and she was so grumpy! She had this little frown on her face the whole time. At one point she scrunched up her face, like she would have let out a loud cry if she was on the outside. It was pretty cute! Apparently she is not a big fan of ultrasounds.
I am 26 weeks pregnant now! The last couple weeks Baby Girl has been developing hearing (she should be able to hear Derek talking now, as well as me), and she is probably starting to practice breathing movements!
We are finally back from vacation, and I was able to sort through all my pictures! We took the 24 week belly pictures the day we left for vacation, so this update is really late - I'm really 25.5 weeks now.
Of course the big news is that we finally revealed the gender to everyone . . . and it's a GIRL! We are so excited to be expecting another little lady! I think it will be good for Gwen to have a little sister to play with.
Honestly, I was a bit surprised! I try not to get my head set on one gender too much either way, but for a couple weeks there I was pretty sure it was going to be a boy. I tell you, my pregnancy symptoms have been so weird this time around. This is my fourth baby, so I figured I could make a pretty educated gender guess, but I have had boy and girl symptoms throughout most of the pregnancy! When my dad was joking at our ice cream social gender reveal party that it was twins, I told him he shouldn't mess with my head, because my symptoms were making me wonder for a while there!
I am so happy it's a girl though, and Derek and I have a good idea of what her name will be. It may change, because I am not 100% sure, and I like to keep my options open, but it's pretty likely.
Now that I know it's a girl, I am anxious to go shopping and get started on her baby quilt! I have an idea in my head for the color scheme, but it all depends on whether I can find the right fabric for what I have in mind. I did see some cute decorations for the "baby corner" at Hobby Lobby though, so I will probably pick those up soon. You can check out my baby Pinterest board for some of the quilt patterns I'm looking at!
Baby Girl is now officially "viable" (even though babies can survive as early as 22 weeks!), so that is kind of exciting! Lungs and taste buds are developing more this week. I can tell the lungs are developing, because I have already felt some hiccups from our little girl here and there!
This little girl is not a big mover, but I can tell she is getting bigger, because when she does move it is more pronounced. I can tell by the movements that she is still sitting really low down (which I think is weird, since I am carrying higher). For a while I think her days and nights were mixed up, but now I am feeling more movement during the day - now if she can just keep her schedule straightened out until she comes!
I have been feeling great, with just some back pain when I am on my feet too long. Most of the other unpleasant symptoms have subsided, so I think I have entered the easy part of pregnancy! I should get moving on all my baby projects while I still have the energy!
Maternity Outfit Details:
Jean Jacket - Target (similar)
White Patterned Shirt (which is actually supposed to be a dress) - Forever21
Pilazzo Pants - Target (similar)
Shoes - JustFab
(I made these ice cream cone pins so guests could wear their guess - blue for boy, red for girl.)
It started with the fact that we decided to try doing this party at a park - I thought, "Self, won't that be so much easier on me, not having to clean the house for a party?" Ha! It was a lot more complicated trying to figure out a park location than I thought. We finally picked one that was first-come-first-serve, with plans to get there several hours early to claim our spot.
Then we got there and our park was taken!
Enter 15 minutes of internal panic for me as we drove around to find another location. We finally settled on a park shelter that we thought was our only option. It honestly didn't look to impressive from the road, but when we walked over there we realized it was actually a perfect (and quiet!) location!
(Our color scheme ended up being aqua and red, since those seemed like good ice cream social type colors - and the black was just a necessary evil because of how we wanted to do the reveal, but in the end I felt like it worked.)
Derek and I got the park set up, and I figured since we started about 3.5 hours early we would be sitting around bored for a couple hours - I was wrong! We took that entire time just to set up and eat lunch. It's a good thing we thought we had to get there so early to claim a shelter!
(We provided basic vanilla ice cream and toppings.)
(Ice cream floats, of course.)
Guests started arriving, and we had them pin on their guesses! Initially when we were planning our party we didn't know how many people would be there, or if everyone would know each other, so we prepared some games. We almost always have a couple games at our parties, because it breaks things up if some of the guests don't know anyone, and it keeps things from lagging - but we honestly didn't end up using any of them, because it was a smaller group and everyone ended up knowing each other! The visiting was going so smoothly that we didn't think we needed to interrupt it with games. But I'll include our ideas anyway, just in case you want to use them.
Gender Reveal Party Game Idea 1: Sticking with the ice cream theme, we were going to give everyone slips of paper with an ice cream flavor on it (some common, some obscure). Everyone would be allowed to ask each other yes/no questions to try to figure out each person's ice cream flavor. They could write their guesses down on a piece of paper, so be entered into a drawing for a prize (in our case, $5 Cold Stone gift cards).
(Prizes for the people who guessed the gender correctly. And I didn't get around to coloring them all because my pink Sharpie was a nightmare, and I didn't have time.)
(I sewed up this bunting one day, since I had fabric on hand that matched our color scheme! I thought we would use the bunting as a "finish line", but we didn't end up needing it for that, so it was just a cute decoration.)
The park ended up being perfect, because there was hardly anyone there except us. The kids ran around and played on the playground, and the adults visited, and we all ate ice cream. My dad kept saying he thought it was really twins, and he even pointed out one of the ultrasound pictures that kind of looked like it - I kept telling him that they told me there was only one!
Gender Reveal Game Idea 2: Since this was an ice cream social/picnic type thing, we thought we would do traditional picnic races! We would divide the guests into Team Boy or Team Girl (according to their guess), and have them pick representatives from each team for the races. We were thinking of doing a sack race, a three-legged race, and possibly an egg-and-spoon race. We would keep score, and give prizes to whichever team won the most races.
Gender Reveal Game Idea 3: One of our contests did actually work out - on our invitations we told guests they could bring ice cream to share if they wanted, and the most interesting flavor would win a prize ($5 Cold Stone gift cards)! Since we had an extra prize, I picked two winners - my friend Brianne brought a custom ice cream flavor based on my favorites, and my friend Ashley brought Marionberry Pie ice cream!
(All the big siblings.)
(Derek and me at the party.)
I don't have any pictures of the confetti because I realized during the race that my friend's child was sitting under THE balloon, and I hurried over there to move him so he wouldn't get confetti in his eyes.
Then the confetti balloon popped . . . and all the confetti just kind of fell to the ground. When we tested it out at home the confetti flew everywhere, so that wasn't quite what we thought would happen.
Then some of the glitter confetti we used kind of looked blue in the sunlight, and it mixed in with the red confetti. After all the twin talk, everyone just kind of looked at me and Derek since the colors were a little confusing...
So we called out "It's a GIRL!"
Yeah, not exactly how we planned it, but it turned out okay!
We are so excited to be welcoming a sweet little girl into our family! It'll be so fun to have another baby girl to dress up, and I'm already scheming on how to buy all the headbands I want (because it just seems like she should have some brand-new ones)!
Overall, I am really happy with the way the party turned out - it was fun, and even though I was more stressed during the planning phase of this party, the party itself was one of the most enjoyable for me! It ended up being the perfect group of people, and we had a great time.
I have to mention though, that Wyatt was really disappointed that he didn't get to take a turn racing, so we might have to invite some of his little friends over soon and remedy that.
(Note: I also picked a winner for my Starbucks giveaway for guessing the gender correctly - and Kristy H. won! Thanks to all of you who played along - I had so much fun reading all your reasons for your guesses!)