37 Weeks and Pregnant-er than Ever

Warning: I've been writing this post for the better part of the last 24 hours, but apparently, my pregnant brain is incapable of focusing for more than ... what was I saying? I apologize in advance for the randomness you're about to read.

Last night, as is my custom, I sat on the floor next to Teyla's bed and surfed the Internet while I waited for my two-year-old to fall asleep and give me back my arm. (I am her security blanket. Lately, her favorite coping mechanism is to stroke my upper arm. "Arm, Mommy! Arm!" she cries if I dare to take my arm away to type a new web address. So I sit and click on links and type one-handed and we get along just fine.)

Lacking anything better to do, I Googled "signs labor is imminent" just for kicks.

I compiled the following list:
1. Spurt of energy / nesting
2. Loss of mucus plug / bloody show
3. Over-active intestinal system
4. Rupture of membranes
5. Cervix dilation and effacement

(Did I lose all my male readers around mucus plug? Most likely. Carry on.)

I'll spare you graphic details, but let me say this: I have four of the five symptoms down pat. (And the last? My water never breaks until the doctor reaches for the knitting needle. My Mom believes we have the Teflon bag gene. So I don't think that one will ever get crossed off my list.)

To be clear, I am aware -- very, very aware -- that these signs mean I might go into labor tonight, or I might wait two more weeks until my induction date. They should be labeled "Signs of Imminent Labor. Or Not."

That said, I did end up spending some quality time in a mumu Monday morning during a surprise trip to Labor and Delivery. The whole story is over at 5 Minutes for Parenting today. And I am a bundle of contractions lately. I have an OB appointment in the morning. I will be very interested to see if I'm still dilating progressively. Given that I was at 2 centimeters last Friday and 3 centimeters on Monday, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm at 4 tomorrow. Or 5. Or even a 3. Heck, this childbirth stuff isn't an exact science.

No wonder I'm so distractable.

Oh! And I took some pictures tonight to show y'all the watermelon I'm sporting these days, and I seriously couldn't keep a straight face. I mean, LOOK AT ME.

That's ridiculous. And crazy. And bizarre.

I keep reminding myself that I am enlarged in the waiting. For a single guy, Paul sure knew what he was talking about. Amen and amen.

Thursday afternoon update: Still at 3 centimeters, 50% effaced. No significant change from Monday morning. I'm a little surprised, but then again, I'm not. If I've learned anything this week, it's that the last weeks of pregnancy are unpredictable.

Phoenix 1994

I hated Phoenix.

I hated everything about it with the fiery white intensity of a thousand suns – which, not so coincidentally, felt like exact temperature of my car steering wheel after it baked in the 120-degree July heat for eight hours while I typed in a cubicle. (I had to wear oven mitts to drive home.)

I hated the cactus-and-rock yards. I hated the miles of pink stucco houses with red tile roofs. I hated the flatness of the terrain. I hated the way the sun glinted off the cars in the midday sun. I hated that the thermometer rarely dipped below 95, even at night.

Most of all, I hated the dry barrenness of the desert. I grew up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. My favorite t-shirt proclaimed, “Water is life.” And I lived it. I spent every free minute of the summer swimming and water-skiing and diving and boating in the cool, clean lakes around my home. I loved taking a nap on the floating raft on Lake Johanna and waking up to the sound of boat motors and cottonwood leaves dancing on the breeze. My world was blue and green.

Until my new husband and I accepted a job relocation to Arizona. Then my world was orange and red and brown. No green. No blue.

Just a smear of ugly.

Friends who grew up in Phoenix tried to convince me of the dessert’s beauty. They took me to Sedona. “Isn’t it beautiful?” they would sigh as we drove past grotesque mounds of exposed rock.

No. To me, it looked dead and hellish and like God threw the leftovers of sin here and let them rot.

They took me to Pleasant Lake, a man-made reservoir north of Phoenix, hoping to assuage my desperate thirst for water. I found a muddy brown puddle set in the middle of more cactus and scrub bushes, with dead trees on the shores. It was neither a lake nor pleasant.

To be fair, this was my first real time moving away from home. I wasn’t just dealing with a new climate. I was trying to cope with a new marriage and a new job and a new life, even as I mourned the loss of family and friends and familiarity. And water.

I didn’t see how I would ever find comfort in the desolation. How could this be home? How could I relate to people who planted saguaro in their front yard on purpose? How could I cope with being inside all summer due to the blistering heat, with the thought that I would be wearing flip-flops and tank tops and still sweating in October, with the blisters on my thighs from those sneaky sizzling seatbelt buckles?

And then we moved. Eight months after we moved to Phoenix, Corey’s company offered him another job relocation – this time, to (blessed, green, temperate, seaside) San Diego.

I wish I had known Phoenix was only a season. Maybe I wouldn’t have complained so much. Maybe I would have enjoyed the adventure. Maybe I would have looked for God in the desert instead of always and only looking at me.


Pregnancy Notes: 36 Weeks

Are y'all tired of me talking about the pregnancy yet?

It will all be over in three weeks, I promise. My OB has amicably agreed to induce me at 39 weeks -- which was three weeks from yesterday, not that anyone's counting. But of course, there's a good chance this baby boy will come before that, seeing as I dilated early with both Connor and Teyla. We'll find out more at my doctor's appointment tomorrow morning. (I go every week from now on. Which details do you not want to know?)

My post at 5 Minutes for Parenting yesterday details the one question that makes me twitchy at this point in the pregnancy. People can comment on my growing belly without me batting an eyelash. But ask me this? And I get all crazy inside.

I will say this, though: I think I feel better now, at 36 weeks, than I did two months ago. Physical therapy has all but healed my falling apart disease, and thanks to the cleaners, I rarely bend over these days, which saves my back. Plus, it's GOR-GEE-OUS here. It's been sunny and in the low 70s all week. (Just a reality check: Normal high for now is about 52.) I'm realizing, once again, how deeply my outlook is affected by sunlight.

That Commercial Made My Daughter Cry

When I came downstairs from my nap-with-Teyla yesterday (a regular afternoon happening lately, for which this 36-week-preggo is thankful), I found my two older kids quietly playing with Legos and watching an episode of "America's Funniest Videos" we had DVR'd.

Two minutes later, as I was putzing in the kitchen, I heard Natalie start to wail. As in sackcloth-and-ashes Middle Eastern-type wail. I turned around and saw my sweet eight-year-old with bright red eyes and tears streaming down her cheeks.

"That commercial made me cry," she sobbed and threw her head into a pillow.

Want to guess which commercial it was?



First, I'd like to say if it was me crying at a commercial, I would be crying at one of those super-creepy Burger King king commercials. Seriously. Those are a horror move in the making.

But Natalie's not me. And Misti guessed it. Natalie was crying at the Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial, which is Exhibit A in manipulative fundraising.

I'm going to resist a rant here, but appeals like that steam me. They are designed to make people feel guilty and sad and pathetic that they haven't fed their fish today. I have no problem with nonprofits raising money and awareness; that's the whole point of Corey's job, to facilitate that kind of transaction. But there is a respectful way to do it and an oh-so-wrong-way to do it. Nonprofits that feel the need to resort to pictures of abused, caged animals or children with horrible birth defects do not deserve money or attention. They are exploitative.

And yes, as Mocha with Linda pointed out, Natalie does have a tender heart, especially when it comes to animals. Last night, when she overheard me telling Corey about The Incident, she put her hands over her ears, teared up and said, "Mom! Please don't talk about it!"


Maybe Sarah McLachlan can make a commercial about the kids the SPCA has traumatized under the guise of awareness.

When Clean Gets Messy

Yesterday morning, I woke up 15 minutes earlier than normal. I saw this as a good sign, seeing as the morning school routine can go from smooth to crazy in a matter of nanoseconds.

I showered, got dressed, made the beds. The kids woke up in high spirits and got themselves ready in record time. I was feeling good.

"This is going so great," I thought to myself. "I should even have a few extra minutes to pick up the remaining toys for the cleaners coming today."

(Famous last words, no?)

I rounded the corner to the kids' bathroom -- and I saw Teyla squatting next to a vast puddle of slime on the carpet. Six bottles of kids' shampoo and body wash were next to her, in various states of dismemberment. Two were empty.

Upside? Everything smelled like coconut.

"Oh. Teyla. No." I moaned.

I gathered up the empty bottles and threw them in the trash. I gathered up the remorseful toddler (who had a stinky diaper, to add insult to injury) and deposited her firmly in the bathtub. I gathered up the half-full bottles, coated with strawberry and banana and coconut ooze, and tossed them under running water in the sink, where bubbles immediately began to foam into a miniature volcano of suds. I gathered what was left of my sanity and decided it was highly over-rated anyway.

I managed to scrape the top layer of goop off the carpet and then, at a total loss, I threw an extra beach towel over the crime scene and left (now a few minutes late) for school and MOPS.

This morning, a sweet young man from the carpet cleaners came and wiped Teyla's sins away. And lo, the carpet is clean and the pink stains are gone and the aroma of coconut still lingers in the air.

I wish all my mistakes smelled like sunscreen.

35 Weeks

I can no longer turn on my garbage disposal.

My belly is so big, it doesn't allow me to reach all the way back to the wall behind the sink to flip the switch.
(I have managed to compensate. If I stand on my tip-toes, I can get my belly ABOVE the counter and flick the switch quickly before I fall backwards and start to breath again.)

Corey looked at me last weekend and started to laugh and said, "You are just the weirdest shape right now!"

And then he took this picture, which made us both laugh for about 20 minutes.
Because, let's face it -- I am the weirdest shape. There are some things about pregnancy that are just plain bizarre.

I wrote about a few random pregnancy happenings over at 5 Minutes for Parenting today; one of them is my favorite Teyla story of the week. As for me, I'm thinking I could make up for the lack of a second ultrasound by doing a belly cast and painting it like a watermelon. Now that would be unique.


Spring is the strongest season, for it must break the stranglehold of winter.

How do you defeat death?

With new life.

Promises kept safe through the bitterness unfurl a banner.
Tender green shoots reclaim the earth.

Delicate buds extend the sun's reach.

Even tree bark shines a reflection of hope.

And so, He makes all things new.


What is that?

I forget.

Written as a tribute to the breath-taking spring of 2010, which arrived gloriously early and is treating us to a unexpected helping of grace. Our last measurable snowfall was February 23 this year, the earliest end to the snowfall season ever recorded. We've been reveling in sunshine and temperatures 15-20 degrees above normal. The ice is out on all the lake, two to three weeks ahead of schedule. And last weekend, I put away the snow gear. The world around me is a picture of the truth that the hopelessness I felt yesterday is not the end. In God's reality, spring always wins.


I haven't really mentioned it here, preferring instead the brevity of Twitter, but about three weeks ago, we got an offer on our old house.

It was the best offer we've gotten to date -- but still about $100K less than our asking price. (And that pretty much explains the last 3.5 years in a nutshell.) The days immediately following the offer were miserable for me. I stressed and worried and whined at God. I hounded Corey to come up with a counter-offer. I stewed in my own pot of yuck and tried my best to keep the bile of fear at bay.

It didn't work.

Eventually, I crawled out from under the shadows thanks to a healthy amount of prayer, a hard bit of introspection and a long talk with Corey (which naturally took place at 11:00 PM; sorry babe). I realized the whole issue is easy to ignore for me on a day-to-day basis, because we don't live anywhere near our old home anymore, and I can chose to not look at the realities of our situation. But when it looms large in front of me, it triggers all kinds of fear -- fear of the unknown, fear of constant conflict with Corey, fear of not being in control.

During our late-night conversation, I threw the whole burden on Corey and said, "Here. I will not fret about this anymore. I will not nag you about this anymore. Do what seems right to you. I will back you up. I trust you to handle it. I trust God to handle it. There is nothing I can control about the situation anyway, so I am stepping out of the equation."

Eventually, Corey got around to figuring out our financial situation (read: figuring out just how much money we can afford to lose) and wrote a counter-offer.

Today, we heard back from the potential buyers. They are "choosing not to counter at this time."


I am frustrated with the whole thing. I just want it to be over. I am tired of paying a mortgage on a house that isn't worth what we owe. I am annoyed that those same dollars could be going to feed families in Kenya or going to support families trying to raise money to adopt. It seems like such a waste to pour dollars into an empty house.

Why the wait, God? I don't get it. It seems pointless to me.

But then I am reminded of the truth I leaned in my Esther Bible study last week. Beth Moore said something revolutionary in relation to Isaiah 40:31. Maybe you know the verse? (If you attended a Christian school, I can guarantee you know the verse, because 97% of Christian schools name their sports teams the Eagles after this passage.)
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength;
they will mount up with wings as eagles,
they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.
I believe the truth of that verse, theoretically. But bless my heart, I rarely live it.

Waiting doesn't renew my strength; it exhausts me. I grow more weary and more defeated with each passing day. I am tempted to say with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord? How long?"

But Beth's revelation was this: We are not told to wait on an event or a thing. That is when we become weary. Instead, we are told to wait on the Lord. He has a purpose in the wait. He is meeting us day-by-day to refine our spirits, show us His glory, reveal His love.

Don't wait on the thing, beloved. Wait on God.

Mind you, I don't feel this truth right now. I feel weary to the point of breaking. I feel thin and stretched and bent.

But I have lived long enough to know the difference between the heart's fickle emotions and the soul's rock-solid truth.

I will wait for the house to sell. Of this, I have no choice.

But I will choose in the waiting to wait on my God. I wait expectantly for his fresh wind to fill my wings.

House or not, I'm ready to soar.


I love a clean house.

I don’t necessarily love cleaning my house. It’s a lot of work and it can feel overwhelming when you have young kids underfoot who undo your hours of effort in 10 minutes.

But I do love shining floors and grease-free counters and sinks without toothpaste globs and – best of all – carpets with vacuum lines.

So I clean. For the past several years, my routine is to clean the house on Mondays. I don’t schedule any outside-of-the-home activities that day, which is a Sabbath in itself, and I focus on putting the house back in order. It makes my chart-loving, list-making melancholic heart sigh with satisfaction when I know that I have one day each week when my house will truly sparkle. (Having a scheduled day also helps keep that same melancholic in check, because I don’t allow myself to freak out when I see crumbs under the table and spots on the bathroom mirrors. “Oh well, I’ll get to it Monday,” is the mantra I use to keep a good habit from becoming an addiction.)

As you might imagine, this schedule works well until one morphs into a Heffalump. Then, vacuuming gets hard. Heck, walking across the kitchen gets hard. My husband, bless his heart, sensed my frustration. Last month, he started vacuuming for me on the weekends and generally attending to whatever tasks I knew I couldn’t complete in my current handicapped state.

But he’s already got a job – one that pays and everything. And he travels for work. I know he’d rather spend his precious free time playing with the kids or going for a run in the sunshine instead of vacuuming dog hair off the countless stairs of our home.

Enter stage right: the cleaning service. A few weeks ago, Corey and I discussed the idea of me hiring a cleaning service to deal with the house for the remainder of the pregnancy – and maybe for the first few weeks after the baby is born. Corey was fine with the cost. It’s a splurge, but our intent is that this will be a short-term luxury. Thus, I began the search. And last Thursday, a cleaning crew made its first appearance in our humble abode.

Here’s where you'd probably expect me to insert a thousand hallelujahs in a big, bright, bouncing font. And I’m thankful. Truly, I am.

But here’s the deal: They didn’t clean the house like me. They didn’t do as good of a job as I would have done. And so, I was disappointed.

I knew it was unrealistic to expect strangers to know they should empty the diaper genie and refill the Q-tip containers in the bathrooms and top off the flour and sugar canisters in the kitchen so they would look purty for a few hours.

But I couldn’t help it. I was disappointed and frustrated that I’d paid money for a job that was only half done, according to my standards.

I voiced my frustrations to Corey on the phone that night. (He was out of town, naturally.) And somewhere in the midst of my complaining about the half-filled Q-tip containers, I heard a voice in my head. It said: Control freak.

“CONTROL FREAK?!? Excuse me? I just want a clean home,” I argued with the voice. “Why should I pay money for someone to come into my house and make a few swipes with a dust cloth? I mean, if they aren’t going to do the job right, fine. I’ll just do it myself.”

At that point, Corey patiently interjected. (Poor man. Imagine having to interrupt a conversation between your wife and your wife.) “They might not do a perfect job, Kelly, but the whole point of hiring them is you can't vacuum or mop or dust or wipe down the fridge AT ALL right now, much less perfectly. Isn’t having some help better than no help at all?”

Humph. Maybe. Yes. No. I don’t know.

It’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a control freak to admit she might have control issues.

“It’s not ME! It’s EVERYONE ELSE!”

I took Corey’s wise words and my mental anguish to bed that night. And I thought. And pondered. And even prayed.

And I think that voice in my head – the one that called me a control freak – might have been the Holy Spirit calling me out. He knows better than anyone that I hate, despise, abhor asking for help. I’m happy to give it. I don’t know how to receive it.

Today, the cleaning crew returned. They’ll show up every Thursday until the Lord returns or this baby arrives, whichever comes first. This week, I had them use my vacuum – a Dyson Animal – so the carpet sported vacuum lines. I made sure I emptied the diaper genie into the garbage before they arrived. And later this afternoon, I’ll go back through the house and return the pillows to the correct side of the couch and rearrange the knick-knacks to their rightful place and – yes – refill the Q-tip containers.

And I will do it with a humble heart. A grateful heart.

It’s healthy for a control freak to hand over the reigns every once in a while. It’s a good reminder that the world won’t come to an end if I’m not in charge. I am not God.

My house is clean enough. And that's enough for me.

(Also? I just noticed the end of the toilet paper is folded into those cute little triangles. That makes up for the Q-tips.)

Can 34 Weeks be Full-Term?

I'm battling Braxton-Hicks contractions all the time lately, those so-called fake contractions that either inch you toward real labor or do nothing but make you uncomfortable, depending on whom you believe. My post at 5 Minutes for Parenting is about one such battle, which occurred yesterday at Target.

I don't remember enduring Braxton-Hicks of this ferocity with previous pregnancies. (Maybe I've just forgotten?) They don't hurt, exactly, but it feels like someone is suddenly pulling the strings to a metal girdle that runs from my chest to my hips. I can be walking across the room, and out of the blue, I can barely breath, much less move.

And honestly? I'm nervous about it. This baby feels so strong and these contractions are ruling my life, it makes me to wonder -- can 34 weeks be full term? I wouldn't mind so much, except Corey is supposed to be out of town the majority of the next two weeks. So not only will I be alone for most of Weeks 35 and 36, but I'll be the sole adult in charge of kids ages 8, 6 and 2, responsible for feeding, clothing, bathing, breaking up fights and everything else in-between with no back-up. And if you remember Connor's birth story, the last time I went into labor by myself I barely made it to the hospital to deliver. Teyla is pretty precocious for a two-year-old, but I'm not sure she's up to being a midwife just yet.

I have a doctor's appointment on Friday, and you better believe I'll be discussing all this with my wonderful OB. Reassure me, fellow Moms. This is all in my head, right?


Just to clarify: I'm not trying to get my doctor to induce me this week or anything drastic like that. I'm more just hoping she can reassure me that there's no early dilating going on. If I'm not dilating yet, I will rest easy that I can make it another two weeks, minimum, without having a baby in my living room.

I Found Jesus

I wore jeans and a t-shirt that Easter.

But what I remember most was the thick, dark cape I wore over them.

It was soft and warm and it had a hood that hid my face. I needed that hood because I was portraying the woman caught in adultery at all five Easter services at our church.

I needed that hood to hide my shame and despair.

To this day, it remains one of my most memorable, intimate Easters. I didn't have to worry about dressing up; our wonderful wardrobe department took care of that. I didn't fuss in the kitchen; Corey and I planned to attend our Sunday school's class potluck after church. And since this was before kids, I didn't mess with any of the cultural Easter trappings. There were no Easter baskets, dyed eggs or chocolate bunnies. (Although I'm sure there were Peeps. Marshmallow bunnies, five days stale, have long been my favorite springtime treat.)

It was just me and the cape and the exposed nerves of my soul.

Dramatic dialogues were scattered throughout the service. In personal vignettes, they worked their way toward the cross on Good Friday and ultimately the empty tomb on Easter Sunday.

My part was the darkest, for my story came on Saturday, after Jesus had died. After hope had died. I told of Jesus' rescue of me from my accusers, his mind-boggling forgiveness and admonition to "Go and sin no more." I told of my heart restored, of my life changed, of my faltering discipleship.

And then came the cross. I was thrown into despair. Angry. Bitter. How? Why?

DO YOU SEE MY LORD? He is DEAD! He is DEAD! They have KILLED HIM as they would have killed me! I have NOTHING now! I HAVE NO ONE. THEY KILLED JESUS!

I sobbed. My heart was rent by the living of the grief and confusion and emptiness.

Jesus. My living hope.


And so, weeping, I left the stage and let Peter eventually tell the happy ending to the story. Despair is not the end! What seemed like the greatest evil, God turned on its head and used as the greatest victory and grace.

The services hinged around the theme "I've Found Jesus" that year, and a small, passionate Gospel-choir sang the Delirious song by the same title. (It's since become one of the anthems of Easter to me.)

Sitting in the shadows against the concrete wall at the back of the church, I would pull the hood over my face and weep again -- but this time with joy. The song resonated in my soul. I would end up throwing the hood off my streaked face and lifting my hands to the heavens and singing and dancing with every cell in my body.
I hear they're singing in the streets, 'cause Jesus is alive!
And all creation shouts aloud that Jesus is alive!

And I will live for all my days
To raise a banner of truth and love.
To sing about my savior's love.
The best thing that happened?
It was the day I met you.

I've found Jesus!
Easter was rich with context for me that year. I've since come to believe it's not possible to celebrate Jesus' resurrection without tasting the bitterness of his loss.

There is nothing like finding Jesus where you knew only death. There is nothing like being found by the One who knows every naked part of your soul and loves you completely anyway. There is nothing like knowing God's redemption and restoration.

My rejoicing wore the same hue as my suffering.

I found Jesus. And he found me.