Pregnancy and Perseverance

It's a rainy, drizzly day here today which always makes me think it's a good day to sit and write a little bit.  Earlier this week I gave you the update on the big kids, but today it's all about baby Walker and his Mama!  Already this little guy is making a big impression in our world and more specifically, in mine.  I've been a little quieter on purpose this last month, not sure if and what I wanted to share about this pregnancy.  Not that I can keep it a secret, but doesn't everyone just prefer to hear all is well and everything is great??  

To be fair, all is well and everything is great with the baby.  He is measuring right on track, doing everything he should be doing and delighting us with each week of development and anticipation.  
HE is great and WE are getting more and more excited to meet him and have him with us! 
 I've slacked a little on the baby profile pics, but here is what this little guy was looking like at week 21, right after we found out HE was in fact a, HE!  
A round little pomegranate to love!  
Well now, a month later, here he is at 25 weeks!  In addition to the length of my hair growing, so has my tummy.  It's starting to feel a little firmer these days and definitely impacting my daily movements.  I'm at that stage now where I can't see something on the ground and therefore I end up stepping on it, kicking it or stubbing my toe!  I've knocked over Carter at least twice now by swinging around quickly and not realizing he was there, my belly at his eye level, bumping him right out of my way!  Poor guy!  I've also begun to put an apron on when I cook now because I keep splattering sauce or oil on my shirts when it dawns on me that my stomach is a lot closer to the stove than I think it is!  Ha ha!  
As of last Friday, Walker is apparently similar in size to a head of cauliflower, which for some reason doesn't sound as sweet as a pomegranate??  He's grown quite a bit in weight over this last month but I'm happy to say from my last appointment that I haven't grown in weight!  It's the little things these days...I'll take the victories where I can get them! 

The baby is great and as I stated earlier, we can't wait for life with Walker "on the outside."  
So then, what's the rest of the story??  

Well friends, no one likes a pregnant woman who is full of complaints, and I  don't want to be that woman.  But as grateful as we are for this third baby and as much as we anticipate his arrival, this pregnancy is about to kill me.  I wish I was exaggerating, but seriously, it's been a pretty rough experience and it's only getting harder for the foreseeable future.  I'm sharing a little more publicly now because it's really impacting my daily life and will only continue to do so.  I have a challenge before me called SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) or sometimes it's also called PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain).  I'll spare you any graphic details, but it's something I had with Ava and yet barely felt with Carter, but as is common in multiple pregnancies, it often comes back earlier and more severe each time.

Unfortunately for me, I began having symptoms back in January, which was very early but they were manageable and not interrupting my routine beyond some discomfort here and there.  Quickly it all began to progress in February and for a few weeks they monitored me closely to make sure I wasn't showing any signs of preterm labor.  Thankfully that concern was taken off the table and not something they felt was happening at this point.  However, the end of February and all of March have been nothing short of difficult, and sometimes excruciating.  The last two weeks in particular have been so hard, I've struggled through the days and barely survived the nights, with Walker getting bigger the pressure is getting more intense and making my comfort level decrease.  When I went in on Friday for my OB appt., my doctor confirmed that we were hoping to avoid is officially happening now.  

Again, I don't want to share more than you want to know, you can google it for your personal education :) One short explanation is that when you are pregnant, your body releases a hormone late in pregnancy called relaxin, that begins softening and helping your pelvis girdle (all the bones, ligaments, joints, etc.) stretch in preparation for labor.  But sometimes in some women that hormone releases too early and in a greater quantity, and as a result the ligaments are too stretchy leaving your entire pelvic area unstable.  That's the very unscientific and PG version :) As a result of that instability, there is a tendency for severe to moderate pain, but it really varies based on each person and depending on many other factors as well.  

For me, it's been a rough experience.  I am in pain when I sit, stand for long periods of time, walk, climb stairs, lay on my back or try to roll over in bed.  I can't really lift anything thats more than a few pounds, getting in and out of the car is difficult and even sitting to drive or ride is painful.  The instability that I am experiencing causes such severe pain when I move suddenly or if my pelvis is not supported, it takes my breath away and makes me cry sometimes.  It started with sciatic like symptoms and I started physical therapy to deal with that but now it's progressed into something more than just hip and leg pain.  The worst and hardest part of my day is at night.  Sleeping has become almost unrealistic as trying to lay down or being on a soft surface causes the instability to worsen. For a certain number of women who have severe pain, this often leads to being a wheelchair by the end of the pregnancy or it necessitates the use of crutches.  Bed rest is not exactly a solution as being in bed feels more like a form of torture, but slowing way down and moving little and less often is more common.  

Really encouraging to read, huh??  So why am I sharing??  This pregnancy has slowed me down from the beginning, it's been my hardest one by a country mile!  As I'm learning, baby #3 is often a really hard pregnancy for lots of Moms, I suddenly have people coming out of the woodwork telling me how hard their third pregnancy was and not at all like their first two.  There is some comfort in knowing this is common, even better to get a hug from someone who understands the struggle of 2 little ones at home while feeling like your body is falling apart before your eyes.  But of course pregnancy is relative, like many things.  Some people have great pregnancies no matter which number of baby they are carrying and cannot understand a difficult pregnancy because they were spared from that.  I share all of this because with the addition of SPD, what has been difficult, now feels insurmountable sometimes.  I am getting a sobering dose of empathy for people who live with chronic pain on a daily basis.  Nothing about that is easy, nor should it be dismissed.  The perseverance and endurance required to face another day is significant.  But what I'm learning is that it's also possible when tackled one day at a time and with the help of the Lord and the prayers of great friends!   
More than anything else, I really would appreciate your prayers for me.  For all of us.  

Really, we are doing just fine around here.  Right now I am just dropping many things and slowing down even more than I have for the last few months.  That's a gift and a benefit of being a stay at home Mom and I've never been more grateful! The kids are handling all of this so well, they are getting very used to spending time with me on the couch or just needing them to get things on their own when I need to rest.  It's not that I can't be up and around, in fact I am up doing as much as I can and trying to stay "active" but as I'm learning, the amount of rest I need to interject in between activities is great and if I overdo it at all, I pay so dearly for it at night with severe pain and little sleep.  So we're sticking to the basics, school and church, and then sticking very close to home.  I've given up grocery shopping by myself now after trying it these last two weeks and consequently taking days to recover.  We go to a Church that is in a huge building and I'm even beginning  to streamline how I get around there, reducing my steps as much as possible.  It feels so silly sometimes or that people will think I'm just being dramatic, but I'm getting over that and just being honest now.  It's hard to walk, hard to be on my feet and I can't afford to spend nights in agony which I've done many, many times.  There really is not anything my doctors can do about this, beyond some ideas to treat symptoms, but they are wonderful and have been very supportive and sympathetic.  It's not new to me, but it is much worse and much sooner than ever before.  It will likely go away after Walker is born, although I'll need to be diligent about rebuilding my core after three full term pregnancies now.  I am doing what I can to manage it and treat it with the very limited doses of ibuprofen I can still safely take for a few more weeks.  I can't let myself think about the road ahead, I still have a lot of pregnancy left and the odds of it getting better are slim.  Right now I'm taking it one day at a time and trusting the Lord to see me through.  
I certainly don't regret being pregnant!  Walker is worth all of this and then some, but that doesn't make it easy.  We are excited for the one more than me!  I am praying and asking the Lord to help me with the pain, but also to help me to CHOOSE JOY in the midst of this.  It's very easy to be negative and want to complain about every struggle of the day.  It's so crazy when even the most basic things like doing the laundry are hard or when grocery shopping for my family becomes too much.  But the Lord knows what I face and He is faithful to meet my needs each day.  I know He's giving me many graces that I don't even realize, things He is working out and ways He's providing.  
Lately I've been thanking Him for the following: 

-Our one-level living condo seems like a gracious gift right now.  Less to clean, easy for me to know what the kids are doing, no stairs to worry about, and fewer steps required to get around.  That's a gift! I'm embracing the simplicity of being here and I have a renewed joy about it.  

-I have a scheduled c-section ahead for Walker.  After Carter's emergency c-section, it was the best and wisest decision for both of us.  With all this pain and pelvic instability, I'm now so thankful that I don't have to deliver a baby on my own!  I can't imagine how hard it would be and what the recovery might be like afterwards.  This is provision I never could have imagined!    

-Travis.  He is and has been, amazing.  He's working double right now, putting in a full day at work and then coming home to a wife who needs lots of help and kids who are ready to play! He has taken on so many things to help me and make this as easy as possible for me.  I'm good until about dinner time and then I'm on the couch with ice for most of the night.  The poor guy has about a sliver of our bed to himself at night and he's put up with 9,000+ configurations of pillows and mattress hacks in an attempt for me to try and sleep.  He hears my moaning and groaning and occasional crying and helps me as much as he can.  The nights are just so hard and he is the one who endures them with me.  He's grocery shopping with all of us after work, or picking up dinner on the way home, or getting Ava from preschool so I can stay in the car and take her home.  It's a lot and he's been amazing, he's got the heart of a servant and such a gentle way of letting me feel free to get nothing done, even if it means the house is not in order or the laundry always caught up.  
I'm so grateful for him.

 We were with some friends in our small group, all of us with multiple little kids and many challenges, and we talked about the way these years deepen and strengthen marriage even when you feel like you're drowning with kids pulling you under!  Ha!  I know this will be a season we look back on, Lord willing, and marvel at how hard it was physically and yet we get to see the fruit of holding tight to Jesus and one another and laughing our way through the chaos!   Hard times draw you together or pull you apart and I'm praising the Lord that this season is giving us an opportunity to draw close and fight for the longterm gain of our marriage as we show grace to one another.  Lots and lots of grace! 

I've not done any shopping for Walker or even thought too much about what I need yet, it's not a lot since I have all of Carter's stuff.  However I did see this soft blankie at the store the other day and picked it up.  I'm a sucker for baby blankets and I use them a lot in that first year!  It's so sweet in person and made me excited for the day I'm holding him in it!  I just can't wait for that little face and that new baby smell and those tiny fingers and reward for sure!  

I'm so glad pregnancy is temporary and the reward at the end is oh so worth it.  I've got a bumpy road ahead of me and I'd covet your prayers.  Specifically for my attitude, some days it's hard to be very positive when everything feels painful and overwhelming.  My biggest request is for the Lord to help me CHOOSE JOY every day!  This is hard, but it will only get as hard as I allow it to be.  I can endure and persevere with joy because of the Gospel and what that means for me on a daily basis.  Everything about life on earth wasn't easy for Jesus and there was a real, physical, excruciating and undeserved cross He bore.  But when all seemed lost and the outcome was overwhelmingly bleak, He rose from the grave and overcame the pain, the darkness, sin and death!  The joy and the miracle of the resurrection reminds me that He's got the same resurrection power available for me too.  As his child, I get to access his power and his strength.  But that's not all that I have through Him, I also have Hope!  His ascension back to Heaven reminds me that this life is temporary and fleeting.  Our pain and our joys won't last forever here, but when we get to Heaven with Him, we have an Eternity waiting for us that far outweighs anything we experience here and is more than we could ask or imagine.  That is REAL to me and that is GOOD NEWS, even on painful days.  It gets me out of bed (or the couch) and helps me put one foot in front of the other, which is a big accomplishment these days.  It gives me a real Savior I can receive comfort from and draw strength from every hour of the day.  

That's what life is like right now, it's why I'm not doing a whole lot and why being at home is where I need to be most days.  And that's ok.  I'd love your prayers though!  We don't need anything else right now, and I've got a good handle on what's available to try for pain relief.  I will be dancing from the rooftops when Walker is here and my SPD is gone!  Until then, I'm kicking back with my little family and watching other people dance instead while a certain little boy dances inside me   :)  
Tomorrow I'll be 26 weeks, which means only 13 to go!!
One day at a time...

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