Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Never talk about politics, religion, or...pregnancy decisions??? - a rant

Okay, okay, so not really because of course we talk about faith, how that impacts our world view, including politics, etc.  However, I had no idea how staunchly opinionated people can be about pregnancy and the choices you make regarding your own.

I'm kinda fed up with it, to be honest.

I feel like I have to justify the choices that we are making regarding our baby.  I get questioned about whether we want to find out the sex or not, hospital birth or home birth, to breastfeed or use formula, cloth diapering versus disposables, natural birth or epidural/other drugs.  Then, when I answer, I am oftentimes met with sarcasm or a laundry list of reasons why my choice is just "not realistic" or in some way makes me less of a parent.  I mean, come on!  How will finding out whether my baby is a boy or a girl going to make me less of a parent?

Just so that you're clear, I want to find out the sex of my baby for a few reasons.  Not that I have to justify this, but because some people have had no problem telling expectant couples that the "best" parents are willing to wait (which I find condescending...especially when it comes from people who have not become parents yet or have no desire to ever have children) and that they must not love their child as much.  One reason we'd like to know: I am my mom's only child and the suspense is killing her.  She has waited for the past (almost) ten years of my married life to become a grandmother and I know that she is chomping at the bit to buy gender specific things for her first grandbaby.  Plus, her health is not the best.  Reason #2: our last surviving grandparent (Seth's grandma) is 90 and would love to pray more specifically over this baby.  We want to bless her and allow her the chance to be praying for little girl or boy G-O. Another reason: because the bare truth of the matter is that we have no guarantee that this pregnancy will have a happy ending.  I know that sounds macabre, but based on family history and from the experience of friends, late miscarriage and stillbirth happen.  If it should be in God's plan for us to experience this, we would like to dignify our child with a name rather than always wondering.  Goodness, just this last month one of my friends told me her mom miscarried in her 6th month.  Considering it's taken us so long to become pregnant in the first place and our doctors told us that women with PCOS have a 50% risk of miscarriage throughout pregnancy, we are thankful for each and every day God gives us with this precious baby.  We don't expect a sad story, but we know this is God's child and He has a plan for it.  So, please, before you think we're just not patient or loving enough to wait until the birth of our child to find out, know that we both deeply love this child already regardless of whether it's a boy or a girl, and we will be surprised either during an ultrasound sooner or a couple months later--so what's the difference?  Besides being able to begin talking to our child by name before it's here, that is.

Now, we are still researching and deciding if we want to birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home.  What we do know is that we want a natural, drug-free birth.  Of course, we know there may be complications that take that decision from our hands, but in our ideal situation we want a natural childbirth.  What upsets me with this is when other women and men literally laugh in my face when I tell them that and then try to talk me out of it.  I was once told, "well, okay--if you want to feel what it's like to shove a bowling ball out of your butt, feel free!"

Wow.  Really?

My mom was able to birth me without pain medication.  Several of my friends have done it.  And I have a high pain tolerance.  Heck, I was still playing pick-up basketball games at a local park with the guys when my appendix was ruptured.  I've had doctors compliment me on my pain tolerance.  I've even had a deep tissue massage therapist compliment me on my tolerance of pain by telling me that most of her clients cry early in the appointment, but she was able to use all her strength on me.  So, no, this is not a flippant decision that just sounds nice to me.  I genuinely want to try to have a natural birth and trust that my body can do what God created it to be able to do.  And you know what else?  I don't think any less of any woman who chooses to get an epidural or other pain treatment for her labor.  I trust that each woman knows her body well enough to make the best decision for herself and her baby.  So, please respect my decision as well.

Since I'm sharing our ideal choices already, I hope to breastfeed and we plan to use cloth diapers and make our own baby food.  Again, these are our ideal choices.  I didn't eat jarred baby food and I'd love for my baby to have that same experience.  We'll be eating healthy, so I'll just puree what we're eating.  And I hope to be able to breastfeed.  Of course, if my baby is allergic, we'll have to switch to a formula.  We plan to use disposables for the first month or so while we settle in to a routine with our baby and try to get any sleep we can, but once our baby is around 10 lbs, we want to use cloth diapers because it's gentler on a baby's skin and helps them to potty train earlier.  Plus, they're reusable, eco-friendly, and more cost effective over time.

It all boils down to this: why do people automatically assume that pregnant women are incapable of making informed decisions about their own bodies and about their babies?  Why is there this societal divide between working moms and stay-at-home moms, medicine-supported births and natural births, and a host of other options?  Why is there so much pride involved with this life process and wanting to be "right"?  Is one woman better than another for having a specific birth?  Is one parent better than another for waiting until birth to learn the sex of the baby versus one who finds out a couple months earlier?  Why aren't we instead celebrating the miracle of life?  Why not focus on God's craftsmanship instead of the various journeys that still result in a baby or babies?

Okay, so that's my rant.  Take it or leave it.  I just hope it starts a discussion or at least inspires some thought.  Maybe a little softening of the heart.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.~ Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Okay, so I'm 15 weeks pregnant as of today and both of us keep getting asked if I've had any crazy cravings yet.  Honestly, I don't think so.  Talking with some of my friends, they've craved things like lemonade, snickers, red meat, ice cream, pickles, etc.

Me???  Nothing special.

This is where my hubby and I differ.  What he calls a craving has so far been for me a once-in-a-while, this-food-sounds-least-likely-to-be-thrown-up-while-still-providing-the-baby-with-some-nutrients-it-needs food.  It's not that I really have a taste for something.  It just sounds like I might stand a chance of keeping it down.

For example, so far this baby detests fruit.  Every fruit I've eaten (apples, melons, berries...) has come up within 30 minutes.  Still, I know this baby needs fruit.  So, last week, with it finally feeling more like autumn and the holiday season, I figured, "Well, maybe a piece of fruit pie will stick."  My husband considers this a craving.  I requested that he pick up a razzleberry pie from Marie Callendar's since all pies are on sale this month, but I also gave him the freedom to get pumpkin, apple, blueberry, etc.  So he proceeds to tell other guys that I had a "craving" for a specific pie.  Not really.  I love this or just about any fruit pie whether or not I'm pregnant and I haven't desired to have it regularly.  Heck, it's been days and we still haven't finished the pie yet.  I just figured it was worth giving a shot to see if I can somehow get some fruit to the baby.  And guess what?  It hasn't come back up yet.  AND I haven't been possessive over the pie.  We each have a piece together.  Just like we used to.

Now, in the early weeks of pregnancy, I couldn't stomach anything.  The only things I could hold down with any success were blueberry or banana nut muffins or things made with potatoes (mashed, hash browns, etc).  Now, this too I do not consider a craving.  THIS I considered desperation.  These were the only things that remained in my stomach reliably so I ate them just about all day, each day.  Again, I figured at least there were some bits of fresh fruit and nuts or root veggies in them...tons of sugar, but I think you get my drift.  They were starchy...and starches have a better chance of staying in a whirly-whirl tummy.

This has been hard.


If you know me, you know that I LOVE FOOD.

For the last several weeks...I DETEST FOOD.  No fun.

I feel like I'm finally getting to a place where I can eat somewhat regularly again.  So don't fret, even though it has been a struggle I have been eating my veggies and meats and dairies throughout.  I'm simply saying that despite my best efforts most of them never stayed down.  I kept at it regardless.

Now, back to my definition of cravings versus my husband's.  Last week, my precious hubby was lamenting over how long it's been since we've had Mexican food.  Believe you me, it's been a long time.  It's normally a staple in our home.  He begged me to return to our little taco shop as soon as I was able to handle it.

Flash to this last Sunday.

We were sitting in church when I became pretty nauseous because it had been several hours since I had eaten breakfast and baby was yelling for food.  I actually felt pretty brave, so I leaned over and asked if we could get burritos at said taco shop after church.  He said yes.
He may call this a craving, too.  I call it pleasing the hubster while also trying to get some decent grub to our little bun in the oven.  I managed to eat and KEEP DOWN a fish burrito made with grilled white fish, lettuce, tomato, avocado, fresh salsa, beans, and rice.  Hallelujah!  Oh, Mexican food, how I've missed thee.  That burrito tasted sooooo gooooood!  It has been over three and a half months since this mouth savored any fresh salsa because it was just plain too risky to attempt.  I felt pretty proud of myself.  It helped that this was a healthy and light burrito--not one dripping with fat or grease.
So, now, I might call this a craving.  Maybe.  Only maybe.  This was one of the first meals that made me feel somewhat normal again and I can't wait to have another one because of it.  It made me feel human again--not possessed by some alien trying to take over my body.  Plus, it was jam-packed with things that are great for baby, healthy for mommy, and pleasing to daddy.  It didn't hurt that it actually tasted great.  It had flavor by-golly!  After months of bland and boring food, this was a triumph!

Is this really a craving?  I dunno.  From the moms I've talked to, this doesn't seem like it.  Maybe my body isn't lacking any nutrients.  I mean, I'd been taking prenatal vitamins for MONTHS before getting preggers and I always ate a diversity of proteins, dairies, grains, vegetables, and fruits.

From what I can tell, cravings are distinct and consistent...something you want often and with regularity.  I haven't had that yet.  I may want something on a whim, but again it's usually because we're out, I see it, and it sounds like it has a great chance of actually being fully digested.

So, chime in.  Am I having cravings?  Or am I simply surviving and trying to get this little one to thrive?  Did you or your wife have any cravings?  What were they?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby's first travels

We had the great pleasure of traveling up north to visit with family this last weekend.  It was my first trip out of the area since being pregnant and it was a quick trip.  We drove up on Thursday morning and headed back home on Saturday.  Things went pretty well on the first half of the trip, but the drive back home was not.  We made it home just in time for me to be sick.  Yuck.

Anyhow, we were able to travel up because some dear friends of ours gifted us with two tickets to the first National League Division Series game between the Atlanta Braves and our San Francisco Giants.  We could NOT pass that up.  Neither of us had ever been to a playoff game before and it was a great game to take my little bitty belly for baby's first trip to AT & T Park.  Our Giants played a fantastic game!  Tim Lincecum pitched a complete game shutout and our boys won by a score of 1-0.
You can't tell in the picture, but our little sign says, "Baby's first game is a postseason game!  Go Giants!  10-7-10."

The next day, we had a chance to reminisce.  Ten years ago this month, Seth proposed to me in Half Moon Bay.  Growing up, my family and I used to go to Pastorino's Farms when it was set up as a pumpkin patch.  The day Seth proposed we started at that pumpkin patch.  We then went horseback riding on the beach and he proposed later that afternoon on the beach.  Since we were already in the area, we decided to visit those memorable places again.

That's about how big our little baby is right now.  So it's appropriate to call it our "little pumpkin."

Here's the beach where Seth proposed.

We visited with family in the evening.  My mom was so happy to finally see "the bump" in person!  I wish I would have captured that in pictures, but I just enjoyed the moment with her.

Alas, it was time to head back home because we were both scheduled to teach at church on Sunday morning.  On the way back we had the chance to visit with some friends of ours in Morgan Hill.  We had a lovely time catching up and our little baby even received it's first gifts!

Thank you to the entire Richter family for these precious treasures!  We can't wait until our baby arrives and gets to play with this book and we are already writing away in our new journal.

We have to admit, it was bittersweet to head back down to LA.  We love, Love, LOVE the Bay Area.  Perhaps someday we'll get back there.  Until then, we definitely made some precious memories during this whirlwind visit.

"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." (Romans 1:11-12)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

LIFE CHANGING NEWS--To GOD be the glory!

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
       “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
      Before you were born I sanctified you;
(Jeremiah 1:4-5a, NKJV)

Some of you know and some of you are finding out for the first time that Seth and I have been trying to start a family for quite some time.  We have been married for over nine years and have not conceived.  I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) in November of 2009.  Apparently, I have had this condition all of my life, but no doctor ever gave me a proper diagnosis.  Basically, I don't ovulate on a regular basis.  In fact, my cycles have always wildly varied, being completely unpredictable.  I might have a regular cycle for a couple months then not have one for eight or nine months, have two in one month, then skip four months, etc.  Basically there's no discernable pattern for my fertility and ovulation.

Beginning in January of 2010, we started fertility treatments.  Each cycle, the treatments became more intense and much more invasive.  I had to have daily intramuscular injections (with a 2 inch needle) in addition to a variety of meds.  It didn't work.  At times our doctor would tell us that there was no hope for us without treatment.  Then he told us that they would only do six rounds of treatment before they figured there must be something else wrong with me that they cannot help and that I would be on my own.

My last round of treatment was in May 2010.  It, too, was unsuccessful.  However, because of the strength of the medication, my ovaries became greatly enlarged and I began showing symptoms of ovarian torsion.  My secondary doctor was gravely concerned that I might lose one or both ovaries and if they ruptured, it could result in death.  Thankfully, I did not lose either ovary.  I had a lot of pain, but praise God...I'm still here.

Throughout this journey it has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least.  We've had highs and we've had the deepest of lows.  I learned that the most comforting thing anyone can say to someone going through this is, "I don't know what to say, but I'm praying for you."  The truth is that sometimes God does not give you the desires of your heart--sometimes He changes your desires.  God is hope, but sometimes what we desire is not what He desires.

We never lost hope.  We clung to God above all and searched Him deeply because we wanted His will.  And if it was His will for us not to have children, we would be okay with that.  If He wanted us to adopt, wonderful!  We just wanted to know what His will was and to be obedient to it.  We've been through enough with Him to know that His will really is perfect and better than ours.


He definitely revealed His will in a most surprising way.

We are now pregnant.

Without any medical assistance.

God has blessed us beyond our expectations.  We have a single pregnancy with an estimated due date of April 13, 2011.  As of today, we are 12 weeks, 6 days along and the baby is perfectly healthy, growing on target, and has a strong heartbeat.

We always knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we became pregnant with or without medical assistance that it was only because of God.

People have told us that God blessed us with this child when we stopped medication so that we'd know it was Him.  But, we always knew that it would have to be Him.  Medicine can fertilize an egg, but can't make it stick.  They can't force something that God has not ordained.

Clearly, this was God's timing.

We have prayed all along that God would be glorified through this.  He is the one who brings the increase.  God alone knows each of us better than we know ourselves and knew each of us before we were even in our mothers' wombs.  And He knows this precious blessing.

This is His child.

We are humbled and honored to be considered worthy to be his or her parents--stewards here on earth.

I admit--this pregnancy has been rough, really rough. My immunity is at an all time low.  I've had migraines, days-long headaches, vomiting, dry heaves, food poisoning, a major case of gastroenteritis which landed me in the ER hooked up to an IV, and have had severe food and smell aversions.  I've had a difficult time sleeping, resorting to sleeping on the couch and floor to avoid any movements that could send me running to the bathroom.

STILL, it is all worth it and I count it a blessing.  Thank you O God my Father!

Now, for the pictures.

This is our first ultrasound scan, done on August 20th.

Here is our second scan from September 8th.

And here is today's scan.  It's hard to make out in the picture, but the baby is curled up in the fetal position and looks like a regular baby.  It's about the size of a small peach right now.

O Lord, we stand in utter awe of You.  We are totally humbled and surrendered to You.  We do not deserve this blessing, but we are ever thankful that You esteemed us enough to entrust this child to us.  We commit this child to You and continue to ask for Your wisdom and discernment as we enter this new chapter in our lives.  Bless You, Father.  Thank you Jesus.  We pray in Jesus' glorious name.  Amen.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just so you know...

We haven't forgotten about this blog.  In fact, an awful lot has been going on in our lives (involving family and ministry) that we'd love to update you on, but the timing hasn't been right.

We're working on that.

And we hope to have a better update to explain it all this week.