This pregnancy has been relatively fast and easy and full. In between that positive test and today, we’ve traveled back to the states twice- for John’s Poppop’s funeral and for Christmas with our families. We moved and resettled in a new house in a new village. We made it to Bruges, the Black Forest, London, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Iceland. John has flown—everywhere. Even day to day life, the new “normal” of life with a toddler, is fuller and faster.
So here we are at the end again, nearing 40 weeks with our second baby, feeling simultaneously excited and overwhelmed and anxious and ready and still grateful that it takes nine months to grow a baby because WHERE DID THOSE MONTHS GO?
Still, here at the end, there’s the waiting.
Last time around, we were so busy, so preoccupied, that I didn’t have much time to feel the wait. Our final weeks before Daniel was born were filled with moving to Germany, buying a car, finding a house, moving into said house, and figuring out the million things that come up when you PCS overseas. I think we managed to make it to IKEA to buy the crib and dresser around 38 weeks or so and I packed my bag mostly on the way out the door to St. Johannes, the German hospital where Daniel was born. It was fine. It was even good. So many prayers were answered during that hectic season of transition.
This time around, as fast as these months have been, I’m much more aware of how slowly the final weeks of a pregnancy can pass. These last few weeks (er…months) have been rainy and grey and on the chilly side, which are wonderful for the end of pregnancy, I suppose, but also a little dreary and depressing. We’ve settled into a routine of dashing outside the moment the sun peaks through the clouds, even if only for five minutes.
These days have been filled with reorganizing baby supplies and a pseudo-shared space for our children. We anticipate the baby sleeping in our room for a little while at least, and are hopeful to eventually have them room together, so there’s no separate nursery. Still, there are so many things to think about- like the whole cloth diaper operation that’s currently based in Daniel’s room, or having access to clothing even if one child is napping. We installed both car seats in the only possible figuration that allows us to all fit (John is tall!) and wondered how it’s possible to practically need a minivan with 2 children. We assembled and test drove our second hand double stroller, which is a German-made beast. It’s well designed and should fit through doorways here, but man- it’s like the stroller equivalent of driving a bus, I think. We’ve taken quite a minimal approach to the accumulation of baby/kid things, but I still feel like our parenting footprint just quadrupled. I hear the same is about to happen with our laundry…
These days, my midwife Alexa comes to the house about once a week. Lord willing, we plan to welcome this baby at home, and are praying for a smooth, calm birth that ends with a peaceful recovery in our own bed with our own food and at our own pace. I had a good experience at the German hospital when Daniel was born, but the option to not go anywhere is even more appealing! Our midwife has come to the house for all of my appointments, too, which has been wonderful in that a) I don’t have to sort out childcare for Daniel or wait with him at the hospital and b) it’s so relaxed! Instead of ten minutes with the OB at the hospital, Alexa is typically here for an hour or so for prenatal care, answering questions, and talking about all things birth and otherwise.
These days, I’m not sleeping much. There have been a lot of 3 AM baths and epsom salts and lavender and herbal tea and mountains of pillows and fans and open windows, but alas, I’m beginning to accept that I’m just not going to rest well until after the baby is born….. oh, wait….
These days, I’m learning to balance productivity (read: distractions) during the day with the need to rest in hopes of not going into labor already exhausted. I’m trying to plan out things to do to avoid sitting at home thinking about being pregnant. We’ve gone strawberry picking. We’ve been frequenting a new coffee shop downtown Kaiserslautern for their excellent scones. We took one last trip into France to do some grocery shopping and pastry eating. John and I made it to Frankfurt twice- once for an overnight, many thanks to Cassi who stayed with Daniel, and again to meet up with the Christ Community Church South Africa team on their way to the field. We went to the zoo. We went to the pool. We’ve taken walks on the trails behind our house, collecting wildflowers and pointing out airplanes. I’ve tried to put a significant dent in Daniel’s baby book, but waiting for photos to arrive from the states (pictures are printed in different sizes here) means that it’s not going to be done before the baby arrives.
These days, I’m eating a lot of dates and drinking raspberry leaf tea and thinking about how this birth will compare to my first. Shorter at least, I hope.
These days, I’ve been filling our freezer, which doesn’t take much because we live in Germany where built in freezers are approximately the size of shoe boxes.
These days, I’m admiring the couple fresh sleepers I’ve gathered in creams and greys, but I’m also so, so ready to know whether we have another son or a daughter! Not knowing the sex is, in many ways, extra motivating. It was incredible to reach the end of a long, exhausting labor and to experience not only the sweet relief of holding our baby for the first time, but to discover “a son!” We’ve talked about names, but not too much, because we did most of that talking before Daniel was born and we’ll still wait to meet the baby before we make an absolute decision.
These days, I’m trying to soak up time with just Daniel, increasingly aware of how grown up he is now, and how big he will seem next to a newborn. We continue to ask him about the new brother or sister he’s about to get, and he’s still pretty adamant that this isn’t happening. He’s a tender, sweet little boy though (most of the time!), and I’m hopeful that the adjustment to big brotherhood will go well. At the very least, he won’t even remember what it was like to be the only child. We bought him a little doll to practice being gentle with and he carries it everywhere…sometimes by the head or a single limb, but always with great love.
These days, I’m tired and mostly uncomfortable and physically ready to not be pregnant, but also, if I’m honest, not quite ready for the emotional transition to two children. In so many ways, one child to two seems like a much greater transition to me than zero to one. After this, we should be able to handle anything, right?! It’s the simple things that seem most overwhelming- like picking up packages at the post office or a simple grocery run while pushing a stroller/wearing a baby/chasing a toddler. I only have so many hands. Two children feels like the next bracket of parenthood, one that is much more all-consuming. To lose yourself for a bit in the waves of newborn life is to be expected, I think, but this time I’m a little more concerned about the resurfacing.
These days, I’m humbled by the privilege of parenthood. To be entrusted with these children is such an incredible gift and responsibility, one that should shake us. We see parenthood as perhaps the most spiritually formative experience of our lives so far. We are being stretched and challenged and convicted and shaped– this is messy, holy work. Our confidence as we approach this new season comes not in our own ability or preparedness, but in knowing that God’s grace covers all of our insufficiencies. We’re not having children for our own sake, but for His glory.
In his book Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas explains, “Let’s accept that both marriage and parenting provide many good moments while also challenging us to the very root of our being. Let’s admit that family life tries us as perhaps nothing else does; but let’s also accept that, for most of us, this is God’s call and part of his plan to perfect us. Once we realize that we are sinners, that the children God has given us are sinners, and that together, as a family, we are to grow toward God, then family life takes on an entirely new purpose and context. It becomes a sacred enterprise when we finally understand that God can baptize dirty diapers, toddlers’ tantrums, and teenagers’ silence in order to transform us into people who more closely resemble Jesus Christ.”
May it be true of us!