Well, we made it to 19 weeks in this pregnancy so far, and I am celebrating with a sick day at home… I’ve started learning a lot over the last five-ish months, including the fact that pregnancy lowers your body’s immunity to germs. I know God planned it that way so that our bodies would accept and nurture this new being growing inside, but it doesn’t necessarily bode well for an elementary school teacher in the winter and spring. On top of morning sickness (which is better now but can still cause me to toss my cookies sometimes, or toss my oatmeal in the shower, as was the case yesterday morning. FYI – it doesn’t drain as well as one would hope.), I have had two really hard colds, one miserable sinus infection, and most recently strep throat. I’m just amazed and thankful that I never got the stomach virus that Peter endured all alone a few months ago. I basically abandoned him for a couple of days so I would be minimally exposed to it.
On the bright side, we have three weeks and two days left until summer break, and I am incredibly hopeful that I will stay healthy when I am not constantly working closely with germy children. (Fingers crossed!)
In other news, in case anyone missed the Facebook announcement…
We are having a girl!!!
We found out a few weeks early because I had probably been exposed to a virus that is common in children but could be very dangerous for the baby if I got it while pregnant. (See? Running theme… Teaching = germs.) At first, I stayed really calm and relaxed about it all. I read online that there was only a small risk, and I felt pretty confident that we were taking the overly-cautious-but-it’s-probably-fine route by going through the testing. I had lab work done on a Wednesday afternoon, and we waited to find out if I had the virus at the time or if it indicated I had it in the past, in which case I would be immune to it now. Obviously, that was our prayer, but I had never heard of it before and didn’t feel confident that it would be the case.
I waited pretty calmly for results on the first day, but as the second day crept by and I kept checking my phone and email for alerts, my anxiety level began to creep up. I made the HORRIBLE decision to try to research it a bit more online, and I found a forum where lots of mothers shared their stories about losing their babies because of exposure to this virus. Then I struggled with feeling bitter toward the child for putting my baby in danger, even though he didn’t know and couldn’t help it. I felt angry that I could lose my child and endure such terrible suffering all because I was doing my job well. I knew that during his likely contagious period, I had sat closely to him, passed materials back and forth, hugged him, and held his hand while walking around the playground. I just kept thinking that it wasn’t fair…
Well, God’s timing is pretty specific. The nurse had told me on the phone that we would receive the results in the next day or two, and as the first day passed, I was struggling. I know that it is no coincidence that I spent the second day flying to meet my mom in Indiana to visit family. God knew I needed her. In fact, within the first hour of being together after she picked me up, we talked openly about it and I cried. I admitted that it had all happened so quickly that I didn’t have the ability to step back and see the big picture through faith. Instead, I went into more of a desperate panic mode. I needed my mom to speak truth and encourage me about God’s sovereignty and His goodness. She told me that this was just the beginning of surrendering control over this child and that even if everything turned out okay in this situation, I would not be able to perfectly shield and protect his or her life. Whether in the womb or outside of it, I cannot control everything that he or she is exposed to. I just have to TRUST God’s plans and release my own.
I felt so much better after that conversation, and it was now about 6:00 on a Friday evening, so I was prepared to wait until Monday for the results. Yet about an hour later, I received an email with the link to my chart, and I was able to celebrate with my mom that my blood work showed the antibodies that suggested I had the virus previously and should be immune to it now. The baby should be safe from this scare. Praise the Lord!!!
Fast forward one week, and we continued as planned for an extra ultrasound and a consultation with a high-risk pregnancy doctor. Peter was able to miss a few hours of work to come with me because although we had good reason to believe that everything would be fine, we also knew there was a possibility that we could learn the gender. The ultrasound tech moved quickly through a detailed look at the baby, stopping frequently to take pictures and measurements. She started at the head and moved down, and I had to catch my breath for a minute when we saw the little hands and fingers. I reached for Peter’s hand behind me, and we held hands through the rest of the time. When the time came to look for the gender, the tech seemed very confident. “There’s a leg. There’s a leg. And there in the middle are three lines. It’s a girl!”
Part of me thinks we would have been surprised either way because it made things seem a bit more real. However, there were also lots of people predicting it would be a boy, and we had already picked out a boy name!
I still can’t believe it… I have spent almost all of my thirty years of life thinking about being a mom. I was the child who was obsessed with baby dolls. (Even now, I see tutorials on Pinterest for how to swaddle a baby, and I think, “I already know how. My mom taught me to do that with my dolls!”) I just can’t believe that God has given us a daughter.
We think we have a name now, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet just in case we change our minds. The permanent commitment is a little daunting!
The ultrasound was moving along normally. (I always get flashbacks to Friends when Rachel is watching the ultrasound of Emma and she cries because she can’t see it… I’m getting a little better, but it can really be hard sometimes!) The next thing we knew, the tech hit a button and suddenly everything on the screen changed and came to life. She switched it to 4D! We were able to see our little girl’s face! Actually, at first we saw part of her face with her hand over it as if to say, “No… Don’t take my picture!” We were filled with wonder at her little personality! Will she be dramatic? opinionated? (With us as parents, this is HIGHLY LIKELY.) resistant? Even now, we sometimes make up funny comments of what she would say about us, as if we already embarrass her, and we cover our faces like she did. Peter wants to make t-shirts… She will never live this down. Haha…
The next thing we knew, the tech pushed on my stomach a bit with the probe and got her to move her hand. I swear she shook her head back and forth like she was saying, “No!” (Yikes… I’m starting to think we are really in for it!) Then we got a clearer view of her face, and although I didn’t notice it at the time, the printed pictures make it look like she may have even been sucking her thumb. (Like mother, like daughter!)
After the ultrasound tech finished, she left briefly and returned with the doctor. He had looked over the images in his office, and he always likes to come in and see the babies live as well. He confirmed that the blood work looked very positive, and the ultrasound looked healthy and fine. He also double-checked and agreed that she is a girl! One of our favorite parts of the whole morning was his ultrasound because he didn’t fly through different views like she did. Instead, he would find her with the probe and simply sit still with that view so that we had the time to watch her move. It was amazing. I still don’t know that I can feel her moving yet, and although I’m definitely growing, I don’t feel large enough to have a person inside of me. Being able to watch her like that was such a joy. I remember thinking, “Aww, okay. I’ll be sick for her. She’s worth it.”
Even though everything looks good, we will go back to him one more time for another detailed ultrasound in the first week of May to check on her again and try to get an even better look at her heart after it has had a few more weeks to develop. In some ways, I’m thankful for this because we get an even more thorough look at her through the eyes of a highly trained specialist. Every once in a while, fear returns and my mind slips into, “What if this is all for a reason? What if there really is a problem, and this is God’s way of helping us find it.” This whole trust, faith, and lack of control thing will definitely be a life-long journey for me. In some ways, my family has been through some significant trials, and it’s like I come to expect them more than blessings. I’m hopeful that God will restore my faith in the balance.
So today I’m just resting and waiting for the antibiotics to kick in so I shouldn’t be contagious anymore. My throat hurt the worst last weekend, so this feels like it’s a day late and a dollar short. I feel bad for missing work, but I guess I need to start adjusting to life using up my sick days. It really won’t be long, and there will be two of us to care for!