my thoughts on the gender

Today we are most definitely 40 weeks! After an appointment yesterday, my doctor wanted us to come in for an ultrasound to make sure baby had enough fluids. It was a great appointment, and everything checked out healthy and baby is doing fine.

As a bonus of the late ultrasound, we got to see our fully formed baby one last time in black and white before this baby comes out and is placed in our arms.

When I look at the picture above I want to weep. I love this child so much I could burst open. I cannot wait to hold it in my arms. I cannot wait to meet this life that God has chosen for our family.

Rory and I have chosen not to find out the gender of any of our kids until they are born. Rory was encouraged by his brother Troy to not find out and let that moment of birth hold the big surprise. My reasoning has more to do with stories I've picked up along the way with mom's finding out the gender at their 20 week ultrasound and then feeling some sort of disappointment. I had a friend tell me she was at a gender reveal party and when the "wrong" gender was revealed the mom ran to the bathroom and cried.

My problem with finding out the gender before the actual birth of the child is that every mom and dad has an opinion. Whether we admit it or not I believe we are gunning for one gender over the other. The even-steven part of me thinks another son would be great to round out the family: two boys and two girls. A brother would be so fun for Ivar. Another boy would give me the chance to get out Ivar's darling baby outfits.

But then I think about another daughter: three sisters in our family! A bff for Hattie. But most of all, that this would be the designed life that God has chosen for our family.

After I had Ivar I told everyone, "after surviving labor and delivery they could have announced, "it's a monkey!" and I would have been overjoyed because that monkey was mine. I carried that monkey for 9 months and was ready to love whoever they put on my chest." And it's so true! The gender is the very last thing you are thinking about when the baby finally arrives. Joy, elation, overwhelming love, big fat tears rolling down your cheeks...those things overwhelm your heart and mind when they lay that life on your chest. I just don't believe there is room to feel anything but gratitude in that moment.

And that's how I felt today, looking at the baby moving around inside of me. I want that baby. Boy or Girl. Even Monkey. I want that one. The one that I have been carrying for 40 weeks. And man, I want it so badly. Rory and I are so ready. Twiddling our thumbs, we are. And I just can't wait to meet the little one. Who are you, baby? It doesn't even matter. I adore you so, so much and love you already with my whole entire heart.

Tuesday is the due date!

...or Wednesday, like my doctor just told me at my last appointment. Which is seriously confusing because for nine months I've been telling people June 20th. And now it's June 21st. And I know it's just a date. And I know it's really just a rough estimate. And I know babies come late. I was just down this road 20 months ago with Hattie, 10 days late.

But let me tell you, that does not stop a woman from hoping the baby might come on Father's Day. It seemed so perfect. And we do have a streak of barn animals being born on holidays, so a human birth seemed possible. Plus my hips are complete jello, ready to do this thing. And I've put up with 8 weeks of "due any day now!" so that it felt like maybe it could come a wee bit early.

But no. Ivar was one day early. I think Elsie was two days past her due date. And Hattie a whopping 10 days past hers. The plus side is that I clearly have a very cozy and comfy womb that my kids enjoy for the full 40 weeks. And that is a gift. But I am ready now.

Rory has been working like crazy lately and told me Friday that he was hopeful to have a few nights of good rest and days of rest before the baby came. The next morning he said he'd like to move the cat back from the barn into the garage which I took to mean, "let's clean the garage all day." Which is my love language. So I did. I hit that garage like a woman in her 39th week of pregnancy, loading up the car with loads and loads to take to giveaway. But Rory was confused as to how I jumped from "let's move the cat back into the garage" to "please move this, and that, and lift that and that for me..." We had a nice talk that night where he explained People over Projects. And I tried to argue that sometimes Pregnancy trumps People, but he didn't buy it. We worked through it, got a good night's sleep and I'm still pleased with my clean garage. ;)

Today (Monday) I took the kids to the library to get started on the summer reading program, to the river, to a few favorite shops including the cupcake shop (where we each split a cupcake, and Hattie discovered she LOVES cupcakes and Elsie dropped her cupcake flat on it's frosting on the floor...) and then to our favorite thrift shop and to a taco stand for a cheap lunch. The goal was to exhaust myself, and we did. We came home, ate our tacos and then I decided to tackle the kid's room. Again, anything to get this party started.

Emotions are right on the edge again. On Friday we went to play with Elsie's best friends but before we left she asked me to get into my bed so we could snuggle a bit before we got in the car. She has asked for a lot of snuggles lately. It reminds me a lot cupcakes and combines. Sort of that high alert, something huge is about to happen, but we don't know when mood... I was trying to explain what a mind game this whole thing is to Rory. I said it would be like knowing you are going to have to run a marathon, but not ever knowing when the gun is going to go off.

So we'll wait. I have a feeling it will all happen soon. But I felt that way with Hattie, so what do I know? Honestly, you'd think I'd have a better sense of how this labor and delivery thing begins, but I really don't. I read through the stages of labor last night and thought, "yeah right. As if I have ever known when I was in "transition." All I remember is that I was in "pain." Ha!

And even knowing the pain that is to come, I am still ready to do this thing. I cannot wait to meet this little baby who is swooshing around. I cannot find out if we have a little sister or a little brother in there. I cannot wait to hold it and introduce myself. I cannot wait for my kids to meet this little baby and to have everyone get to know each other.

But until then, I guess I can wait. Because I have to wait! Patience, they say.

two great reads...

It's Friday night, and we just finished family movie night with the kids. Tonight was Rory's pick: a documentary called Chicken People. It was hilarious. Sort of a Best in Show documentary all about chickens. We fast forwarded some parts but all in all, a pretty funny super quirky, entertaining movie. 

Rory is putting the kids to bed now and I just wanted to pass along two excellent articles that were shared with me this week. 

This article felt so affirming, and strangely original. The part that impacted me the most was her second tip: Self Congratulation is key to mental health. I loved that paragraph. The article is not just for moms of large families. It definitely is for all mothers. And full of wisdom, I thought.

My friend Dorothy sent this article to me today and I LOVED IT. I wish I had written it. Tonight at dinner I told Rory about the whole article and I got a little choked up. It's all true: there is work and there is reward. I love the whole piece. 

So take a moment to click through or print these two out. I'm going to print both out and put them somewhere so I can return to them often. I hope you enjoy!

And now it's the weekend! Rory has a movie chosen for the two of us to watch next and then our plan is to rest this weekend. We have been packing a lot in lately, and it is time to rest before this labor train takes off! Have a great night. :)

staged to sell

I've been in a stage of nesting and purging for months now. And it means my house is looking quite tidy these days. And then I went an convinced Rory to let me have house cleaners come for 90 minutes to hit my kitchen and bathrooms. Which is my other great motivator: someone coming to clean? I will have the place nearly empty so you can clean as thoroughly as possible. And I will do the messy tasks before they come...like clean out the toaster oven, change the tin foil on the stove tops, clean out the coat closet and dirty shoes. Anything that has the potential to mess up their hard work. This is my fifth time having cleaners out here in five years. An annual clean is a total gift. And I am so, so grateful.
All this to say, my house looks ready to be put on the market. But I promise we're not going anywhere. I spent a few days cleaning the nursery after Hattie made the switch to the big kids room. By the way, that transition is going remarkably well. Ivar sings worship songs to her at bedtime and it is the sweetest thing I can think of. We are strangely thankful that our kids have to share a room. I think really good things will come of it.

Plus, it's fun to have the nursery rid of toys and toddler clutter and back to being for babies (except for the thomas reading chair and board books, that Hattie still frequents daily.)
The bags on the bed are ready to be packed when it feels like labor is beginning. It's hard to pack kids weeks in advance...we need those clothes! But there is a system and a list and a plan all in place, worked out with the grandma's and I think I'm as organized as I possibly can be. Even if we have to take off suddenly...
And here's our bitty room, all tidy and cute. The sign below is right next to my head when I wake up int he morning. When I went to Seattle this winter I left notes around the house for my kids to find. One of them said, "my happiest job is getting to be your mom." And when I came home Ivar had hung this note next to my bed. It's a personal favorite forever.
Of course there is more house to show, but I never got a picture of the kids room...I will work on that because I do want to document the crib set up. And, as always with full disclosure, I feel like I can post these lovely pictures because the truth is, my house looks way more like the pictures below than the pictures above. But it is fun to have lovely shots of your house when it's clean. (Remember these pics of our Minneapolis house? I still love looking at them.) So I'll post these pictures above and look at them for motivation in the future!

having big kids...

Elsie has taken to baby dolls in the last few weeks. She carries one around and shows me how she will hold the new baby so that I can chase Hattie around. I have voiced a few times around here that Hattie is going to need some serious attention once the baby arrives. The adjustment ahead is certain to rock her world more than anyone else. 

And so that is comforting, knowing that Elsie is ready to hold the newborn. ;) But more comforting is that Ivar and Hattie are good, good friends. He is so patient with her. And even though I hear a whole lot of, "no! Hattie! no!" around here, I also see a whole lot of this stuff: wagon rides and play. Today I said I was going to put Hattie down for her nap and he protested, "I'm not done playing with her yet!" So she got to stay up a little later than usual.

And do you know what is more impressive than a six-year-old successfully setting up Mouse Trap? A six-year-old with the help of a one-year-old setting up Mouse Trap. I'm actually looking forward to adding another kid to this mix. I love them each so much.