Sometimes you just need to treasure the ponders of your heart...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What You SHOULD Say to a Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy is beautiful, yes?

It's also universal.  No one can say they haven't encountered it in some way ( were born.  End of discussion).  There's just something about this beautiful universality, though, that misleads people into thinking that it is a public event and the pregnant woman is a side-show attraction where all thoughts, opinions, and words of "wisdom" are allowed and even desired.

Unfortunately, most of what they say falls into the category of "what you should NEVER say to a pregnant woman," you know, at the risk of dying a very painful death in the blazing glare of her hormone-spiked eyes.

I have heard my fair share of words that should never have been spoken in my presence, let alone directed at my super-sensitive ears.  I have smiled sweetly and died a bit inside, hot flashing with embarrassment and rage for the next fifteen minutes and every time the memory pops up.

Something must be done to stop this.

However, rather than perpetuate the negativity, here are some things you absolutely SHOULD say to a pregnant woman.  After all, perhaps people just don't know what words are helpful so they end up reverting to words they know are wrong as they're unable to think of anything else.

On behalf of pregnant women everywhere, I'm here to help.

Next time you encounter a pregnant woman, whether she is showing or just telling, refer to this list and save yourself some shame and protect her pregnant heart.

Things you absolutely should say to a pregnant woman:


 "You are so beautiful!"

Tell her she's beautiful.  Absolutely.  Don't tell her she's beautiful "for a pregnant woman" -- that twists into a backhanded compliment before it hits her ears.  Tell her she's gorgeous, glowing, radiant, sparkling even.  "Adorable" and "cute" work, too, but they don't speak quite as directly to her feminine heart as "beautiful" does.  It's her essence you need to address, not her baby bump (making "You look great!" fall short, too).  She needs to hear that her thoughts about feeling huge, bloated, ugly, awkward, and hippo-like are not confirmed in your eyes.  Sure, she might be a little on the big side, but what she needs to hear is her beauty is not diminished one speck, mostly because it hasn't been!  Conversely, don't tell her she's tiny, either -- that plays into her fears that she isn't gaining enough to support her baby while simultaneously discrediting (in a bad way!) her feeling bigger than ever.  Don't be her distorted mirror (reject the urge to tell her she's so big or about to pop!) -- and don't be a shallow flatterer, either.  Be honest and tell her she's beautiful.

"I'm available if you ever need a sounding board."

Tell her you're willing to listen.  Oh boy, does she need someone to just listen.  With a plethora of unsought and unwanted advice pouring in from all sectors (yup, even the 60+ year old man at work who thinks the tales of his wife's labor and delivery choices are just what she wants to hear!), her ears are getting full and she's ready to explode on the next well-meaning advice-giver -- but she'll probably hold it in anyway.  This especially goes for other moms.  She needs your advice, you bet she does, but she wants to ask for the specific advice needed in that moment, not the waterfall of everything and anything that drowns out the real nuggets.  Tell her that you know she must be overwhelmed with all the voices and all the decisions and all the things that go into baby making/raising and that you are available to listen and give any advice/opinions about anything she might want to ask --- and then leave it at that.  Let her come to you.  You just made yourself an open, non-threatening avenue to seek help without the worry of being overwhelmed.  She'll seek it.  I promise. 

"I'm bringing you dinner.  What do you want?"

Most people think to bring dinner over after the baby is born, but truthfully, a pregnant couple needs a cooking break just as much.  With changing cravings, killer heartburn, and general exhaustion, it can be hard to plan meals in advance, leading to the daily trauma of deciding what to get for dinner.  Making a human is no small task; making dinner is -- but it feels bigger than ever.  So tell her you're bringing dinner by.  Don't ask if you can: tell her you're doing it.  She'll be relieved that she doesn't have to politely decline because it's uncomfortable to receive help (while desperately wanting to say yes), and if she truly has other plans, she'll let you know and offer up another night (probably tomorrow!) that she doesn't have dinner plans yet.  Bonus: her husband will be also be super grateful!!

"I have every confidence that you can do this."

She might deny it. She might roll her eyes.  She probably won't know how to respond.  BUT she will start to believe you a little bit.  In the deluge of "How are you feeling? Are you excited??  Are you scared???", hearing that you have confidence that she has what it takes to carry a baby, deliver a baby, and then care for a baby (did I mention that it's a BABY???) is reassuring, if not empowering.  Asking her about specific emotions causes her to hyper-focus on those emotions and feels restrictive, as if they are the only emotions she's allowed to/could possibly feel.  The general question, "How are you feeling?" is a super loaded question and how much time do you really have/how much do you truly care??  Go ahead and assume that she's excited, scared, and feeling, well, pregnant.  And then tell her that you have every confidence that she can do this -- that she can carry a baby, deliver a baby, and raise a baby.  If needed, cite some examples of her strength, level-headedness, wisdom, or general ability to meet challenges.  Follow up with a solid, "You're already doing a great job."  Again, it may generate more eye rolls, but she'll cling to the sound of your voice saying those words the next time she is feeling discouraged.  Slowly, her insecurities and fears about, well, ALL of it will start to chip away.

"Let's go -- we're getting ice cream!"

No, really.  It's like the best thing you can say.  And then, while getting the ice cream, tell her she needs an extra scoop or two just because she does (NOT because she's "eating for two").  And when I say "needs," I truly, sincerely mean it.

                                           *        *       *        *       *        *      

The list for what to say is shorter than the list of what not to say (like these and these -- though I actually like to hear #35!), but fewer words are so much sweeter than all the noise that people seem to make during this time.  When in doubt, a simple, heartfelt "Congratulations!!" goes a long way.  It's easy to respond to.  Besides, celebrating is much more encouraging than commiserating. 

The mind of a pregnant woman goes nonstop and people's words have everything to do with how well she processes the relentless thoughts, worries, concerns, and even joys.  I am blessed with a husband who instinctively knows exactly what to say to ease my mind and hormone-heightened emotions-- and cursed challenged with a job that interacts with a ton of people who say the wrong thing every day.  It certainly IS a challenge.

Maybe I should send this post around as a memo....?

If I have learned anything during this pregnancy, it's that the #1 item to have in your pregnancy-survival toolkit is a sense of humor.  So, help the prego ladies out and don't dampen their attempts at staying sane with careless words, inane questions, horror stories, or unsought advice.  Encourage her!  And if all else fails, make her laugh (but not at herself, her pregnancy, or pregnancy in general...about something totally unrelated!).  Her stress-levels will be grateful for the release.

On another note, want to see some craziness??

Jan. 30, 2014 - 5 Weeks
Aug. 20, 2014 - 34.5 Weeks

I figured one poor bathroom/mirror selfie shot deserved another. ;)  It will be interesting to see what 40+ weeks looks like!

Now, who's taking me for ice cream????

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy birthday, Landon!

Today is a great day.  Today is the day that our daughter will celebrate in future years with drawings and clay handprints and sweet songs.  Today is her daddy's birthday.

As this is the baby blog, my birthday tribute looks a little futuristic.

Did you know that I have an amazing husband?  I do.  He's going to be an amazing father.  Of this I am absolutely confident.

This husband who is so kind to his pregnant wife will be a patient father.

This husband who thinks of his wife's comfort will be a tender father.

This husband who leans not on his own understanding will be a wise father.

This husband who makes his wife laugh till she cries will be a fun father.

This husband who dances with his wife every day will be a delightful father.

This husband who makes beautiful music will be a creative father.

This husband who gives from his heart will be a serving father.

This husband who leads by example will be a teaching father.

This husband who loves the Lord with everything in him will be a humble father.

Of this I am certain.

This man whom I have called Friend, Boyfriend, Fiancé, Husband, and Lover is going to add Father to the list very soon and I am so excited to see him flourish in that role.

To the man who teaches me to listen hard for the bass line, to look deeper at the light in a painting, to walk freely in Truth and Freedom, to give and accept grace without shame...

To the man who supplies endless refills on my water glass, who slows his walk to a snail's pace as I waddle along as fast as I can, who makes me take a nap on his birthday so I can be rested...

To the man who talks to our daughter, tells her she's beautiful, makes her dance, and plays tapping games with her and she's not even here yet....

Happy birthday, my sweet, dear, wonderful Landon.  I am so blessed to have you as my husband, my friend, and my love, and our daughter will be so blessed to know you, love you, and look up to you.

I love you s'much!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Watermelon Before Bed is Bad

My goodness, where to begin?

We are 32.5 weeks and counting.  (What??)

I'm getting bigger everyday, and oddly loving it.  (Yes, really!)

32.5 Weeks - August 5, 2014

Oh, and did I mention that we're THIRTY-TWO POINT FIVE WEEKS???

Let's just call 2014 "The Year of the Pregnancy".  Maybe "Year of Expectation" sounds better, but that's a little too existential, don't you think?  Truly, though, I've been marking the year with trimesters and trips to the bathroom (TMI?) and suddenly the realization that it's August is hitting hard.  Next month is the "Month of Birth" (NEXT month!), though I suppose if she is a little late, then that title goes to October.

I'd be okay with an October baby.  People look at me like I'm crazy when I say I'd like her to be a week late.  "I'll ask you again in 8 weeks...." But here's the thing -- if I can work up until my due date, my maternity leave takes me up until the week before Christmas.  If I can work a week past my due date, then I go back to work the week AFTER Christmas.  Now doesn't that just sound nicer??  Of course, none of this is in my control....story of this year. ;)

In crazy news, she is already head-down and ready to go.  At my last appointment, my doctor explained what my water breaking will be like and I froze a bit -- it's already time to be aware of that???  Whoa.  There is every possibility (but no indication) that she could come early, but surely -- it's too early to talk about it, right??  Apparently not.

Each day, I get more and more excited to meet Little One.  At work the other day I thought, "One day, I will be eagerly looking forward to going home to see my husband AND my baby girl!"  The forethought that makes me a good theatre producer is taking a turn for the baby as little things pop into my brain with a definite "mommy" tint.  Eventually the first feeding of the day will have to be at 6am so I can get to work by 7:30.  Um...she's not even here yet...and I haven't even gone on leave yet....why am I already thinking about when I go back to work??  It's just the way my brain works, I guess.  Gotta love it. :)

Speaking of thinking like a mom, the other day we were getting in the car and I started laughing.  Landon said, "What is it?" I laughed, "Oh boy, I just had the distinct feeling --- we forgot to bring the baby!!!"  The look on his face was priceless.  Thankfully, she was right where she needs to be -- in my belly! :D

We start our childbirth classes tomorrow night.  Four Thursdays that will teach me how to do the craziest, hardest thing I've ever done in my life and hopefully, all without medication.  I'm giving myself grace in case I change my mind (I know plenty of people who say I will), but for now, I don't relish the idea of needles, catheters, not feeling most of my body (it freaks me out!), and the potential harmful effects on the baby.  No judgement -- just no love of needles is really what it comes down to.  Naive?  Maybe.  But I'm gonna try!  I have a strong desire to be an active participant in her delivery and the stubbornness to hold onto my "Love endures all things" mantra.  But like I said, I'm giving myself grace and keeping the door open should the drugs be just what I need.

The last two weeks have been busy with house guests and grandparents.  My mom was here for almost a week, and then Landon's parents for an extended weekend.  Babies 'R' Us was visited twice and Little One blessed with grandparent gifts.  Lots of belly-touching and feeling the first granddaughter as she danced for her grandparents.  And the best part -- we didn't have to do the dishes for about 2 weeks. ;)  It was a very, very special time.  When they all come back (this time with my dad, too!), they'll be passing around a know, if they actually share with each other. ;)  I'm greatly looking forward to that!

Last Sunday, dear friends in Virginia Beach surprised me with a virtual baby shower via Face Time.  Fun!  We couldn't be more blessed with their outpourings of love.  Between them and grandparents, we have 3 of my top 4 baby items checked off the list.  Such a burden lifted!  My boss at work is planning a big shindig for me in a few weeks.  A theatre friend is hosting a shower for my theatre friends here, and a church friend is planning a joint shower for me and another gal.  I'd say Little One is already loved and cherished, indeed!

Get ready to say, "Awwww!!!"  Landon put together the pack'n'play the other night and I just melted.  We're not doing a crib or nursery in our small apartment.  Instead, she'll sleep in a bassinet next to my side of the bed, and then move into the pack'n'play when she outgrows the bassinet.  But I tell ya -- my heart was a puddle watching my handsome husband set up the future sleeping/play place of our daughter.  I will treasure that sight forever.  "Awwww!!!"

It's ready for her!

When it comes down to it, I'm more excited than miserable (finally) -- though the misery has changed.  Haha.  I think I've said goodbye to good sleep forever (or at least the next few years) as restless leg syndrome only increases with pregnancy, heartburn rages in the darkness, and frequent bathroom trips become even more frequent.  Little One herself has even woken me up a few times with her long limbs in my stretching midsection.  Last night I discovered that the watermelon that cools my heartburn is a really, really bad idea before bed.  All that water and juice!  Three trips to the bathroom in 30 minutes is just too much.

The most difficult thing I'm dealing with right now are my heightened emotions.  Seriously, these hormones do a number on you!  Every time I see my baby bump in the mirror, I tear up.  The "Share a Coke with..." pregnancy announcement caused me to burst into work.  It's not a trip to the grocery store unless I have an emotional breakdown somewhere around the freezer aisle.  I am SO quick to irritation -- for no reason as well as justified causes -- but it's harder to shake and easy to apply to everything in general.  I find myself saying things I don't mean and regretting it sorely.  In general, I just feel like I work SO hard to control my emotions and then I get exhausted and fail miserably.  I was thinking about just that when I was reading a book and came across this passage:

"Do you say it is impossible always to govern one's feelings?  There is one method, a never-failing one -- prayer.  It consoles and strengthens the wounded heart, and tranquillizes the most stormy passions.  You will say, perhaps, that you have no leisure to pray every time your temper is provoked, or your heart is grieved.  It requires no time -- the inward ejaculation of 'Lord, help me to overcome this temptation,' may be made in any place and amid any employments; and if uttered in humble sincerity, the voice that said to the raging waters, 'Peace! Be still!' will restore quiet to your troubled soul."

Encouraged!  And a little convicted, but mostly encouraged.  And so grateful for a patient, understanding husband who keeps me from feeling too crazy.

That quote was from a book written in 1831 called, "The Mother's Book" by (ironically) Mrs. Child.  It is definitely dated and incredibly fun to read.  It's basically like Jane Austen's guide to motherhood.  I have literally laughed out loud a few times at her advice and reasoning.  Here's a few snippets -- because they are just too good.

"They come to us from heaven, with their little souls full of innocence and peace; and, as far as possible, a mother’s influence should not interfere with the influence of angels.”   
"Does not the little cherub in this way guide you to heaven, marking the pathway by the flowers he scatters as he goes?” 

“Evil enters into his soul, as the imperceptible atmosphere [of anger] he breathes enters into his lungs; and the beautiful little image of God is removed farther and farther from his home in heaven.”     

"The care of children requires a great many sacrifices, and a great deal of self-denial; but the woman who is not willing to sacrifice a good deal in such a cause, does not deserve to be a mother.”  

“You will find that a smart, notable housewife is always an ‘observing woman.’  What constitutes the difference between a neat, faithful domestic, and a heedless, sluttish one?  One pays attention to what she is about, and the other does not.  The slut’s hands may be very dirty, but she does not observe it; every time she takes hold of the door, she may leave it covered with black prints, but she does not observe it.  One educated to attend to things about her, would immediately see these defects and remedy them.”  

Hilarious, right?  Apparently, she was quite the authority on all things womanly, having had a great success with her other book, "The Frugal Housewife."  I'm thoroughly entertained.

Alright - last thing for this unbearably long post!  Someone asked what my favorite baby item has been so far.  Unquestionably -- Mister Frog.  Not "Mr.", but "Mister Frog."  (He's a Southern gentleman)  I had registered for him online, but he was always out of stock when we went to Babies 'R' Us.  Well, this last time we were there, so was he!  I grabbed him off the shelf and couldn't let go while we were wandering around.  "I'm not suggesting we buy him right now...I just need to hold him!"  Well, Grandma T. bought him. ;)  He's really quite wonderful.  If I haven't mentioned it already...I'm quite obsessed with frogs and monkeys right now.  Little One is going to have a thorough knowledge of all things frog and monkey (at least the cute, cartoony, toy-like ones!).

Mister Frog!

32.5 weeks...If you were me, what would you be thinking right now?  Let me know in the comments!!

32.5. Weeks - Gettin' bigger, right??