280 days pregnant. The great 40 week finish line. However, no baby has arrived just yet. Some people say they wish doctors didn't bother with due dates because only 10% of women have their babies on the given date. I, however, am a faithful believer. I hope and pray and wish and dream and scheme to have this baby...well.. today, but we'll see. :) The last week I've gone to the chiropractor multiple times, made eggplant parmesan (yes, i cooked!), had countless acupuncture needles poke my skin, walked many staircases, and drank more cups of raspberry leaf tea than I can count! I know, I know... the baby comes when it wants to. But can't a girl do what she can to help speed up the process??
Being pregnant has been a roller coaster. I haven't blogged this entire pregnancy mainly because I didn't know what to say about it! Well, that's a lie... I did know what to say, but I knew my thoughts wouldn't necessarily be the most popular of thoughts. So, I hope I deliver this with grace and all who read will meet me halfway here. Anyway, being pregnant has been the worst. It has not been this magical experience people talk about, and I've had an incredibly easy pregnancy. I was never sick, and I danced up until I was 34 weeks... which was hilarious. Don't get me wrong, I love that I'm making a mini Tyler or a mini Connie (ahh, actually that's terrifying) but, this process has been hard. It's been even harder to try to explain to people where I'm at in it all without feeling shame. I've learned so much from the mamas who loved their pregnancy process, and I've laughed until I cried with the mamas who relate and tell me how much they hated being pregnant. I love my baby, I don't love being pregnant. I don't love having tissue expanders in my chest for 11 months. It is what it is. Here's a glimpse of what the past 280 days have looked like for us...
The first trimester flew by. I was nauseous for a week or two and was never really sick, thank you Jesus. I road tripped to take two of my best friends to California, I went to Scottsdale, AZ with our church and helped put on Wacky Week, I went to Florida for a freelance video job, baby bates went to their first JT concert, Tyler and I taught and performed back in Houston, and we celebrated Thanksgiving with the Bates side this year! The trip to Scottsdale exposed what I was going to struggle with throughout the whole pregnancy... not feeling like I could still do the things I loved while being pregnant. Before I was pregnant I could care less about dancing around on stage with Tyler or being silly in front of a bunch of 5th graders. All of a sudden I'm pregnant and I feel stupid dancing... I literally felt stupid doing everything that I loved. What the heck?! For some reason my brain was telling me that being pregnant aged me 25 years and took away my hand eye coordination. Stupid, I know. But this was really my struggle. I am still sifting through it. Remember when I wrote about how God opened up every door imaginable with dance things while I was recovering from a double mastectomy??? Yeah, God didn't stop opening those doors even after I was pregnant...
The second trimester snuck up on me. All of a sudden my clothes didn't fit and I'm realizing we have absolutely nothing prepared. I'm a planner, but I had no idea where to begin with planning to have a baby. Truly! I dove into the unhealthy world of googling... and I googled everything. Tyler is still convincing me that I can't believe everything I read online... but I just can't.stop.reading. Soon we started being responsible and formed our own informed decisions. we moved into an apartment with a little office that would serve as the nursery, baby necessities started arriving at our door daily, and the idea that I would be a mom was still something that felt really far away. People would ask me how I was doing, and I really just didn't know what to say. I was angry. I was in pain. I was confused. Our church has a monthly service called Habitation. We went one week and they asked all of the couples struggling to get pregnant to stand up. I remember feeling like I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I was stricken with so much shame. Why did I have this baby growing inside my belly, but these other couples who had been trying for years didn't? More shame. These thoughts I had didn't seem normal, babies are associated with joy... but I was struggling with fear and confusion. Those aren't popular things to say or to talk about when you're carrying a child.
Eventually, revelation came in the form of Rita Springer. She gave me a word that literally turned my life upside down. I can't even explain fully what she said... but when I told her that I was confused why God would have me have this baby before my reconstruction surgery was finished, she said she wasn't surprised at all. The term El Shadaii translates to "many breasted one" and it is associated with God's comforting and nurturing side. She reminded me that what was lost in the physical would be given in the spiritual. She challenged me by saying that although I no longer had the ability to do the one thing a woman is supposed to do in the physical (like nurse my baby), God would nurse and comfort my baby in the ways that I no longer could. I complained about the timing, that I felt like this baby was interupting an already hard season and wish it would've happened after all my surgeries were finished. Her word followed me and God continued to reveal more of what that meant. If you know me, my personality isn't very comforting.... or nurturing. So the idea that I was going to possibly receive this incredible understanding of comfort was terrifying to me. I was the daughter that cried when I had to give people hugs for goodness sake! I found comfort in a song by Jonathan & Melissa Helser, "Explode My Soul". It made me realize everything I struggled with, was a lie. Explaining to Tyler what the words of this song meant to me was the breakthrough I needed after months of just being shut down from him and most everyone else about it. The song talks about promises, and I thought all these other things were the promises God was giving me this year... but I have since realized that this baby is the seal on our promise. The promise of my healing and the promise of my hopes and dreams for dance in the church world. All of the things I thought this baby was interrupting, this baby was expediting.
Hello promise land. I've waited for so long. To see what I believe in. Just to sing this song. Explode my soul. Explode with praise. What He promised you, is what He gave.
The third trimester was full of dance. We danced at our church's young adult service and then we were asked to dance not once, but four times at the Generate Night of Worship in February. I was 25 weeks the first time and 30 weeks the second. I cried and told Tyler I didn't want to do it because of how I looked and felt doing it. But he encouraged me and afterwards I was so grateful that I did. We are now in the process of doing more with dance at our church, but it's all in the works :)
Tyler and I spent Christmas with his family and New Year's with mine. I continued to travel for some freelance gigs, went to Florida for a girl's trip with my best friend (yes, I walked around Disney World while 36 weeks pregnant), and then we moved (again!) to a bigger apartment in the same complex. Third trimester was long, and full of so many things. But it's the time I loved the most because it's when reality hit, and for once I felt like I could handle it. We had the most beautiful showers in Houston and Dallas, thrown by family and friends. We are so grateful for the community we have! I was dreading these showers back in August, I felt like we just had wedding showers... now these people have to celebrate us again?! I worried what people would think.... that we weren't ready? or "oh that was fast". Oh, how wrong I was. Our family and friends are the best and I found myself having to catch up to there level excitement most of the time. That's not a bad problem to have :)
Of course I have to mention where I'm at with my mastectomy process. In January I decided to call my plastic surgeon and schedule an appointment to get my tissue expanders filled back up. (When I found out I was pregnant I decreased the saline in my expanders to less than half of what they had in them to be more comfortable) I talked to someone on the phone who informed me that the possibility of the expanding not working was very high because of how long I had waited to call. WHAT?! Panic followed. This lady told me that my scar tissue my not stretch and that they had never had this happen before, there was also a chance they would have to go back in and start the whole process over. the.whole.process.over. We were devastated. A few days of chaos followed this conversation until I could see my doctor. He had a different way of delivering this news to me than the lady on the phone. He was optimistic my skin, muscle, and scar tissue would stretch just fine because of my young age. The lady on the phone didn't put it that way. It was the most frustrating thing. After 2 appointments we had filled my expanders back up to what they were in August, which was beyond painful. Normally after a filling I would only be sore for a few days... but this time it took weeks. It's hard to look someone in the face and smile and say you love being pregnant when you're not just dealing with your body's changes from pregnancy, but from your chest cavity being filled with 260 cc's of saline that day. It was a bit much to deal with, and a bit much to try to explain to others why I was having such a hard time. I am done expanding, and as soon as I have the time... I can schedule my reconstructive surgery. However, I can't lift anything for six weeks so we'll have to figure that out when the time comes. Thank you for your prayers regarding my surgeries, it has been the longest journey but I am so grateful for it!
I am pleased to say that I am so excited to have this baby, and be a mom! The last nine months were the hardest nine months of my life... and that's saying something because I chopped off my boobs. (sorry....) Being pregnant has not been the worst... it has been revealing. I realized how selfish I was about what God had promised me, and this baby taught me to let them go. I realized how much I cared about how I looked, and I learned that Tyler loves me for so much more than that. I realized how much I care about dancers having a community to dance in, and at 40 weeks pregnant I'm still planning away our summer events making sure I do my part. I realized that there are no accidents, surprises, or "uh-oh's" because God knows. I hope this finds you well, and not offended... :) Stay tuned for a baby announcement in the next day... or week... or two...