Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pregnancy Journey: Finding Out the Gender

When you're pregnant people always ask you, "Do you want a boy or a girl?"  This is a trick question, I tell you.  Because we all know the correct answer is, "I just want the baby to be healthy."  So if you have even just an itty bitty preference, you wind up feeling like a horrible person.  From the get-go I have kind of wanted a girl.  I tried not to care!  It's just that perusing through the baby aisles I couldn't help but be enchanted by the bows, tutus, and glitter.  Girl clothes are definitely more fun.  Plus, most of my strongest connections are with other females.  I felt that I could bond more with a baby girl.  Not to mention, I have liked our girl names better than our boy names.  So, hard as it was to admit, bad as I felt about it, I wanted a girl.

Despite my desires, all signs started to point to our baby being a boy.  My family all said they thought we were having a boy.  They said this because there are a lot of boys in our family.  One night, Philip and I both had dreams that we had a boy.  I tried to make myself okay with this idea.  Still, part of me was hopeful.

At about sixteen weeks I started getting crazy impatient about finding out the gender.  We had a big ultra sound appointment set up for a little after twenty weeks, but that seemed so far away.  You can't pick the name, design the nursery, buy any clothes, really, unless you know the gender.  It is sad that our world is so "gendered," but that's kind of the way it is.  Plus I was in one of the lulls of pregnancy.  Pregnancy can be a roller-coaster.  There are some really exciting points, like announcing it to your friends and getting the most Facebook likes of your life.  There are some really intense points, like when you can't stop puking and all you want to do is sleep.  Then there are some kind of boring parts.  Sixteen weeks was one of those for me.  

 My friends told me about this business in my hometown that just does Ultrasounds.  They can find out the gender for you as early as sixteen weeks.  I became obsessed with doing this.  Talk about instant gratification.  Instead of waiting another month, suddenly I could go and find out the gender--tomorrow!  Here's the catch:  it costs $75.  My very pragmatic husband couldn't see spending that kind of cash just to curb my impatience.  We had a doctor's appointment at eighteen weeks.  I thought, "If you can tell at sixteen weeks, maybe the doctor could just find out for us at our appointment."  At any rate, I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask.

So at the appointment I asked the doctor if she could do an ultra sound and maybe tell us the gender.  She agreed!  However, she prefaced it with this, "I am notoriously bad at this.  I have been wrong before.  I'll do my best, but don't buy anything or tell anyone."  She did the ultra sound and it was amazing.  The last ultra sound we had been to was like, "There's your baby!" *Doctor points to a small blob that resembles some sort of sea creature*  This time was completely different.  I could see fingers and toes.  Baby was moving around in there like crazy!  This was definitely a human, and it was definitely growing inside me.  Then, the doctor told us that she was 70% sure that our little one was a boy!  

I have to admit that I felt a mix of emotions in that moment.  I was so happy seeing the glowing silhouette of our child.  Honestly, though, I have to admit that when she said boy I was a little disappointed.  I was also scared.  I thought, "What do I do with a boy?"  I understand girls.  I know what it's like to be a girl.  I know what they need.  Boys are kind of a mystery to me.  A smelly, wild, hungry mystery.  I began to wonder if we would have a close relationship.  All of the people I'm closest to--with the exception of my husband and brothers--are girls. 

After these hormone-enhanced emotions faded, excitement began to set in.  I started dreaming about what our son would look like, what he would wear.  I started finding ideas for a woodsy boys' nursery.  I started narrowing down our names.  The beauty of knowing the gender was that I was able to begin to picture everything about my baby more clearly.

The day of the official ultra sound arrived--finally!  I was so eager and excited.  Thinking about it that morning, I actually hoped it was a boy.  It would have just been such a curve-ball at that point to find out the doctor had been wrong.  I had already planned a boy's nursery.  I had been pinning baby boy outfits.  We had told a few family members and friends that we were pretty sure we were going to have a son.  I was mentally prepared to hear the doctor say, "It's a boy."

Once we arrived at the hospital, we were kept in the waiting room for over half an hour, but it felt like days.  I checked my phone about every five minutes.  Then they called me in and the show started.  I got a full hour of screen time, just staring at my child.  For the first time in this pregnancy I felt such a strong connection to our baby.  Seeing the close-up profile of his little face, I could picture our baby so clearly.  I imagined holding him in my arms.  I didn't even realize I was emotional, but I had to keep wiping tears that were leaking down the side of my face.  About a third of the way through, we got a pretty clear shot of baby's junk, and the doctor informed us that we were indeed having a boy.  Surprisingly, I felt nothing but love in that moment.  

This transition into parenthood continues to be a journey.  I realize now that people are right when they say that the gender doesn't matter.  Sure, I'm going to have to learn a thing or two about raising a wild little man, but I have my husband, brothers, and fathers to help me.  Now, I guess I really am just hoping that our baby will be healthy.  One thing is for sure though, I will love him no matter what.  In fact, as strange as it is, since we've never formally met, I think I already do.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Pregnancy Journey: Finding Out I Was Pregnant

When I first found out that I was pregnant I didn't believe it. It was the day I was supposed to start my period, but decided to take the test anyway, "Just for fun," I told myself.

We had been trying to get pregnant for three months.  Each of those months, as I neared the day Aunt Flo typically paid me a visit, I managed to convince myself that I was pregnant.  That ache I felt in my back--had to mean I was preggo.  I felt tired that day--gotta be knocked up.  My stomach was a little upset--must be a baby!  And each of those months I faced disappointment when, yet again, my period came letting me know that we weren't expecting.

So, the day I got back a positive pregnancy test I didn't believe it was real.  I had an extra pregnancy test from a few months back when I'd taken one just for the experience.  I woke up to the pressure of a full bladder, and thought, "Why not?"  I knew that since it was the day I was supposed to start my period, even if I was pregnant it probably wouldn't come back positive.  I got up, peed on a stick, and waited.  While that little digital picture of a clock flashed, I got a phone call from our school secretary:  we were having a late start that day.  Little did I know, school wasn't the only thing that was going to be "late" that morning.

 I got off the phone and looked at the test.  It said, "Yes +."  I had to look twice to make sure that was right.  Remember, that day was a late start, a day Philip and I usually use to sleep in.  That clearly wasn't happening.  I ran into our bedroom and, despite it being 6 AM and a late start, I flicked on the lights.  "Philip, it says yes!  It says yes!"  He rubbed his eyes and grumbled, "That's awesome."  Though I had my doubts, Philip new it was true the moment I told him.  He never doubted that we were pregnant.

 I grabbed my ipad and started googling the likelihood of getting a false positive.  Of course, when you google you usually find more bad than good, and I became even less willing to accept our news as truth.  That weekend we were headed to a youth retreat.  So, we decided that if I didn't start my period over the weekend then I would take another test when we got back to confirm.  I'll tell you this much: I didn't pack any tampons.

A few things stuck out to me that weekend.  I wasn't puking.  I didn't have sore breasts.  It wasn't one of those cases where my body was telling me that I was obviously with child.  However, I was ravenous all weekend.  Thanks, progesterone.  Seriously, I am not a big meat-eater, but the camp served roast beef one night and I ate it like it was candy.  I served myself helping after helping and even passed up a brownie in favor of downing more meat.  On the road trip home, Philip stopped at a truck stop and asked if I wanted anything to snack on.  I got a whole Subway sandwich.  I ate that sub and was still hungry for dinner a couple of hours later.

The second I got home I took another test.  A faint plus sign immediately began to show up.  A few moments later the test revealed another positive.  This time, I knew it was true.  I was pregnant!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Beautifully Ordinary

"If you have a child, then you have an assignment from God. Whether by birth or adoption, whether you go to work in an office or the kitchen, regardless of your age or experience or natural talent for nurturing, God has called you to be a mom—and it’s an unrelenting, heart-wrenching, beautifully ordinary, holy job."

My favorite line from the book I am reading, "The Supermom Myth."  With mamahood just around the corner I wanted to read about my new life from someone who would give it to me straight.  From page one, she had me laughing.  I could tell she was going to keep it real and talk about being a mom and loving Jesus in the midst of it.  So I hid the book under "Water For Elephants" (my book-club's pick-of-the-month) and then shoved it into a bag so no one would see.  For some reason I felt embarrassed to be reading a Christian motherhood book.  I think in my head they have a stigma for being super cheesy!

A few chapters in, I have already gleaned so much from this book!  Many of the "villains of motherhood," which the book addresses, are things that I am facing even without a wee babe in my arms.  I think that line--especially the last part-- is still the best nugget of wisdom I have picked up.  I have within me a growing desire to live a beautifully ordinary life.

Let's flash back to Chelsea in college who would probably roll her eyes at this idea.  I wanted to do big things!  I wanted to change the world!  I wanted to be extreme!  I still want to change the world, it's just that I think that sometimes looks a lot more simple and a lot less glamorous than we often envision.

Philip and I had a dream of moving to the inner city.  There were a lot of good things behind that idea.  We wanted to be around diverse people--to be a part of cross-cultural communication.  We wanted to become more aware of the reality of poverty and to serve those who face it.  But let's be honest we also wanted shopping malls, hip restaurants, an exciting pace of life.  There is still so much appeal in it to me.  Additionally,we at least I, wanted to feel good about myself.  I loved the thought that I might be dodging bullets for the sake of the gospel.  Imagining the shock and disapproval people might feel at my dangerous, exciting choice only made the city option seem that much sexier.

Today, we live in Moses Lake, Washington.  We ended up here because plans A, B, and C all fell through.  When I found myself jobless, carless, homeless and without prospects I got a call from a Moses Lake Principal who wanted to hire me for a job I hadn't even applied for.  If that's not God dragging my butt out to small town America, then I don't know what is.

Now, I am still open to living in the city.  In fact, I still kind of want to.  I want to live a good story.  There's something that sounds so sweet to me about two small town kids moving to the big city.  Diversity and poverty are still two of our great passions.  I love skyscrapers, and malls, and indie eateries.  Maybe someday, I will live in the city.  The fact is, though, I am willing to give it up. I now acknowledge that at least some of my desire comes completely from how fun and exciting I think the city would be.

I am not saying that it's bad to have a dramatic life.  I am not even saying it's bad to do something just because it sounds fun and exciting.  Sure, sometimes God calls people to drop everything and move to an African village.  But sometimes God asks us to just live a normal life and be faithful in the mundane things.  I think that right now that's what he's asking of me.  So, I teach.  I hang out with my husband and my dog.  I invest in my teacher friends.  I live in a small rental.  I read books.  I do projects around the house.  I am plugged in and serving at an imperfect church.  I am growing a small human inside of me.  Doing these ordinary things in a beautiful way is holy.  Allowing Jesus to enter and infuse the gospel into my every day life is an act of worship.  No, it does not have the glamour of the life I once wanted.  But there is something profound about it.

This is my prayer.  (Maybe, if Jesus is nudging you, you will pray it alongside me):

Jesus I invite you into my ordinary life.  I ask you to take all the chaotic, messy, boring parts and make them beautiful.  I surrender my dreams in pursuit of you.  I believe that you want the absolute best for me.  I ask that you might use my beautifully ordinary life to draw others to yourself, and to compel them, also, to live their ordinary lives in your beautiful way.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Want a Loud Classroom

Dear students:
I want a loud classroom.  I know, adults are always shhhing you.  Sometimes I am, too.  True, sometimes you need to sit in quiet focus.  Sometimes, I am talking and your silence speaks respect.  But the other times, I want to hear your voices.  I want it to be loud with the sound of laughter when we play a vocabulary game. Loud with the sound of enthusiasm when we start a novel or you learn something new.  I am even okay with loud frustration or confusion:  the sound of questions echoing across the desks as you muddle your way through new information.  I want a loud classroom.  I want you talking about our content.  I want to teach you academic language and then listen to you play with it.  Some of you only speak Spanish at home.  Some of you only speak Spanish with your friends.  You need practice speaking English—as much as you can get.  Some of you go home without anyone to talk to.  Or with only younger siblings to talk to.  Or with parents too exhausted for much talk.  You need to practice speaking.  Because if you can speak well, you can write well.  Because communication is a key to success, relationships, and growth.  Students, even if you are shushed everywhere else, I want my classroom to be a place where you can be heard.  So, I will no longer pat myself on the back if an administrator happens through and my class is silent.  No, instead, I will embrace the chaos, the messiness, the noise of learning.
Your (learning as she goes) Teacher

Monday, November 23, 2015

Love Me at my Darkest


Do you ever wonder if the work you're doing is meaningful?  For me the question comes up all too often.  It is easy to get lost in the monotony of grading papers, sending emails, and reminding kids, to "please get on task," again, and to forget the purpose of it all.  So much work goes into what I do every day.  I am pouring my heart and soul into this.  But is it worthwhile? Teaching kids to find characters' different Points-of-View.  Helping them to memorize new words.  Making sure they are able to tell a good story.  Does any of it matter in the end?

A couple of weeks ago, I bought myself a bracelet that reads "I loved you at your darkest," as a reminder of how Jesus feels about me.

The typical response I get when I tell someone I teach Middle School is, "Oh.  I can't imagine doing that."  In some ways Middle Schoolers are delightful.  I enjoy them every day.  They are old enough to not need me to wipe their noses, but young enough that they get excited when I bring out a game or put on some Disney music.  But in many ways, my students are at their darkest.  Their little awkward bodies are changing.  Did you know that Middle School boys have 1000x more testosterone running through them than adult males?  The world around them is constantly shifting.  Their lives are controlled by teachers, parents, more dominant peers.  They are questioning who they are.  They are wondering if they are loved.  Sometimes the way that comes out is making jokes at each others' expense--talking someone else down in a desperate attempt to build themselves up.  That often means that they forget nearly everything.  They throw things.  They make messes.  This can be frustrating when you are the one who cleans up after them.  They have the immaturity of children, and the angst of teenagers.  Being patient, kind, and gentle with them is a choice I have to make over and over again throughout the day.

Looking at my bracelet I am reminded that I am doing important work.  I am doing the--sometimes exhausting--work of loving people at their darkest.

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