first trimester

phoebe’s victory

It was one of the scariest moments of my life, and also one of the most beautiful.

In January, as our Christmas gift to each other, Noah and I went to Florida to attend Overland’s annual conference. I was excited to learn more about the organization (Noah went with them to Zambia last summer), but the trip was primarily so we could see our friends Adam and Kelly before they moved to Cambodia.

During the opening night of the conference, I was suddenly overcome with an immobilizing pain in my groin. Not wanting to be distracted from the speaker’s message, I tried to ignore it. As the meeting came to a close, I realized I had some discharge, enough to leave a huge wet area that covered more than half my chair. Embarrassed, I whispered to Kelly what happened and quickly tied my sweatshirt around my waist to escape to the bathroom.

I was 11 weeks pregnant. The first trimester is the most vulnerable and the most crucial part of pregnancy. It’s when the baby develops all his or her organs. It is when the risk of miscarriage is greatest.

Once in the bathroom, I discovered it wasn’t discharge — it was all blood. I was shocked by the amount. The only time I ever bled this much was when I gave birth to Atlas. I immediately burst into tears.

But God was taking care of me, providing more than what I could have ever asked for in comfort, encouragement, and protection.

If this had happened here in Colorado, where we had few friends in the area, I would have felt utterly lost and alone. At the time, we were living in the basement of another family’s house, where I never truly felt at home.

It was messy and inconvenient to bleed through a chair in public, but I am thankful it occurred while sitting next to my best friend, in a room that felt safe, full of people who unhesitatingly rushed to my side when I needed it most.

I stood in the bathroom stall, soaked in blood from the waist down, weeping uncontrollably, but I was only alone for a moment. I was instantly surrounded by a group of powerful women to whom I was a stranger, but also a sister. There was Jessi, the speaker’s wife, earnestly praying over me. Richelle, who bled throughout her entire first pregnancy and now has a healthy 4-year-old son, proclaiming her testimony over me. Julie, a midwife who witnessed firsthand countless miracles on the mission field, and would continue to send me messages and check up on me in the weeks to come, as if she, herself, were my midwife.

Unbeknownst to me, there were more who covered me with support. Guarding the door, Joe announced the bathroom was closed and instructed everyone to use the one upstairs. In the main room, God revealed to the couple in the row behind me what was going on, and they interceded for me the entire time. Without anyone telling her, our friend Rachel also knew I was pregnant and something was wrong. She and her husband dropped what they were doing and decisively announced they were accompanying us to the ER.

Pregnancy is a holistic experience, and this felt like a spiritual attack on my family — more than just a physical emergency. But fear didn’t have a place while I was shielded by so much love. From the women in the bathroom, to Adam and Kelly taking care of Atlas at our shared Airbnb, to Rachel and Dalton hopping in our car and staying in the ER with us for hours. Driving to Cape Canaveral hospital, we sang worship songs and declared words of life and health. We stood on the truth that God is creator, healer, savior, and life-sustainer. We felt full of hope and courage. We believed everything would be fine.

As we waited for tests to come back, I posed for silly photos. As the bleeding slowed, we shared jokes and laughter. I had my first gurney ride to get to the ultrasound room and it was reminiscent of an amusement park ride. Noah and I watched with anticipation as the technician displayed various images on the screen: my ovaries, uterine lining — and then, just as we had believed — there was our tiny baby: kicking, moving, with a healthy heartbeat.

We were overjoyed to see our little girl was okay. Every test came back normal, but I was put on pelvic rest until the bleeding stopped. This seemed like another spiritual attack, on marital intimacy, but in spite of this, Noah and I felt even more affectionate, unified, and emotionally connected.

We had one more week in Florida, and while some might view it as a vacation ruined, it was a huge blessing. Bed rest is practically impossible with a toddler. If we had been home, Noah would have kept going to school, leaving me home alone with Atlas. But since we were already together, Noah could help me and I could rest. If a crisis were ever welcome, now was the most convenient time.

Five weeks later, shortly after moving into our new home, I stopped bleeding completely. Five is a symbolic number for “grace,” and Noah and I truly felt showered with kindness and strength during that month. Looking back, it represents the end of our most discouraging season and the beginning of a new season, one that is full of peace and the promise of what is to come.

 

second is not best: on why i love my third trimester most of all

Being eight months pregnant is the best thing ever.

My first trimester was pretty exciting. I resigned from teaching, secured a new job, disposed of most of my earthly possessions, and said goodbye to my wonderful life of the past three years. I went to Colombia on an amazing missions trip, drove over 5200 miles on a road trip from Florida to Colorado via Massachusetts, and played with my sister in Greece and Turkey. I declared: “No morning sickness in Jesus’ name!” and it worked. I was exhausted, but besides some constipation and sensitivity to cold, I felt great.

My second trimester was difficult and filled with a lot of emotions. I returned to America and to everyday life. I started my new job, settled into a new church, and publicly announced my pregnancy. Growing a baby felt more real: I bought maternity clothes, read pregnancy books, chose a midwife, settled on a baby name, and got my first and only ultrasound. But I felt lonely in many ways, frustrated and stressed from work, and overall sad about this season.

I ended up quitting my job and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. I am healthier, happier, and loving these last two months before baby comes. I resumed my yoga practice and feel refreshed and rested. I see my husband more often because I am not working late nights, weekends, or out of town for days at a time. I feel like I am finally experiencing the famous second semester joys, e.g. renewed energy and great sex. But even though the second trimester is popular for being the pregnant woman’s favorite, I am convinced that the third trimester is even better. Here’s why:

  • I AM OBVIOUSLY PREGNANT.

It was noticeable to me at 10 weeks when I couldn’t fit into any of my pants, but now the world has no doubt that my 30 lb weight gain is not solely the result of burgers and beer. I would rather have an extra cookie than the chair someone offers me, and now sometimes I can get both; but neither would have been an option during my first or second trimesters when people had no idea or were too polite to assume I was pregnant. In general, there is just more grace for me when it comes to snacking. I can show up to a potluck with a piece already cut from the cake I made, and although no one believes me when I say I genuinely was checking to make sure it was okay, they are understanding.

  • MY SELF-ESTEEM IS SOARING.

I am a hot mess going grocery shopping with my dirty hair in a bun and my belly busting out of one of those free T-shirts no one wants unless it is free, and I am stopped and told how cute I look. I go hiking with friends from out of town, and while they are struggling with the high altitude, I am beating them to the top of a small mountain. I post Instagrams where I am JUST STANDING THERE and get lots of likes and comments of how stunning it is that I am just standing there. And on days when I am kind of lazy, I remind myself that I clipped my toenails and it was really hard and I also am growing a human, and I feel much more productive.

  • GIFTS ARE MY LOVE LANGUAGE. LOTS OF GIFTS = LOTS OF LOVE.

My birthday was sad this year (I planned a party and cancelled it after I realized no one would come because I did not have any friends), so baby showers are a magical redo birthday. I never had a bridal or engagement shower or bachelorette party, so celebrating my baby’s soon arrival is extra special in light of milestone festivities I missed. I freak out over every Amazon prime box that is left at my door and it’s Christmas all over again. I spent a lot of time and research on our registry, so Noah does not have the same emotional attachment and excitement for our gifts, though I don’t blame him for not getting pumped up about nipple cream like I do. And I’ve decided that these weeks of nesting and preparing for birth day are way better than my birthday anyway.

I CAN’T WAIT. Except I can. Because I LOVE my third trimester.

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Photo credit: http://reagandeninephotography.com