The Nightingale: Kristin Hannah

16 Jan

Last night, I finished reading The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a good novel. Admittedly, I haven’t read nearly as much since Jack was born as I did in the past.

The Nightingale takes place in France during WWII. It opens just before the German invasion with the two main characters, Vianne and Isabelle, two estranged sisters whose mother died when they were young and whose father abandoned them shortly after her death. Vianne, the elder sister by 10 years, is married with one child and she lives in the country. Isabelle, age 19, goes to a boarding school and is expelled for poor behavior. The sisters are portrayed as very different–Vianne the cautious country dweller who is content with marriage and family life. Isabelle, the fiery, bold young woman who hates to conform to societal norms and wants to make a “difference” in the world.

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As the war begins and Vianne’s husband leaves to fight, both of these young women experience the stark reality of occupied France. One thing that I love about reading historical fiction is that I actually often learn something about history. I never realized (sadly) how quickly France surrendered after the German invasion and how naive the French people were about what an occupied France would really be like. Hannah does a superb job of portraying the slow but harsh changes that take place as the Nazis infiltrate France and begin implementing their “Final Solution.”

If I had to distill this novel down to a “what is the story about?” I would say that at its core it’s about two women who learn to find both themselves and each other through the harsh realities of war. In the process, they are both broken in different ways and brought back together through enormous suffering.

On a side note, if you’ve ever read any of Kristin Hannah’s work, you know she often writes very dramatic, emotional works. While this piece has elements of her “chick lit” genre interwoven throughout, I found it to be a much more serious novel than other books I’ve read by her (Firefly Lane, Fly Away, Night Road, and True Colors). While I’d say that I enjoyed her other books, they were simpler reads with more cliched premises or characters. This was definitely my favorite work by Hannah to date!

 

When they say each pregnancy is different…

14 Jan

Over the years I have heard people say how every pregnancy is different, and it’s not that I didn’t believe them, I just had no life experience to confirm whether that was a true statement or not. Now that I am 32 weeks along with baby boy #2, I can definitely confirm the truth of this statement, at least for me. I’m interested to know if labor and delivery will also be different. Jack’s birth was fast and furious and they say the 2nd comes faster…I can hardly imagine that being the case, but we shall see in about 8 weeks.

So how have my 2 pregnancies been different? Let’s start from the beginning.

1. Finding out I was pregnant. When I got pregnant with Jack, Ben was out of town (not for the conception of course), so he asked me to wait till he got back from his out of town job before I took a pregnancy test. It was the first month we tried to get pregnant, so I had no great expectations given how many of my friends have had fertility issues over the years. But I was late. 4 days late. And it was KILLING me to have to wait to take a test. Ben got home on the 5th day I was late and I finally got to take the test. It was a big fat positive, clear as day! When we got pregnant with baby boy #2 (still has yet to be named), we weren’t actively trying yet. We just weren’t preventing since we planned on trying in a few months. Well, we were on vacation and there were ample opportunities for me to have a drink–a wedding, 4th of July gatherings, family get togethers, etc. Since there was a small (I thought) chance I was pregnant, we bought a test. I wanted to know if I could have a few drinks when we went out of town with Ben’s family, so we tested early (truthfully, I had only had 2 periods since giving birth to Jack, so I wasn’t even sure what was early or late anymore, but I was pretty sure I was testing early). We got what I thought was a really faint positive when we got home from the supermarket. So we weren’t sure. 2 days later I tested again, and what do you know. Pretty clear positive. I was surprised. Apparently, Ben just has to look at me and I get pregnant.

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2. Morning Sickness. With Jack, I literally had NO morning sickness. I threw up once and I don’t even think it was morning sickness. It was when I was 13 weeks pregnant, and I also had bled that day, so the doctor thought I was going through a big hormone shift at the start of the 2nd trimester. With this little guy, I began getting morning sickness at the end of the 5th week and it lasted until about 13-14 weeks. I threw up anywhere from 3-8 times a day and felt perpetually nauseous. It was truly the most exhausting summer of my life. Since I was entering the 2nd trimester right when I went back to work in the fall, I have to admit, it was the first year, I wasn’t sad to see summer over.

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3. Gestational diabetes. When I was pregnant with Jack, I did fail the one hour glucose test but I passed the 3 hour just fine. This time around I wasn’t so lucky. I have gestational diabetes. Found out at 26 weeks, and am now testing my blood sugar 4x a day to make sure I regulate myself properly. So far, I have been able to keep my numbers in check simply by changing my diet a bit. It hasn’t been horrible, but it definitely sucks not being able to eat what I want while pregnant. I thought that was supposed to be one of the perks? 😉

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4. Back and hip pain at night. With Jack, I did have some of this but it wasn’t too bad. This time around it has been horrible. I literally have nights where I might get 2 hours of sleep. Today I had my first prenatal massage (never had one with Jack), and let’s just say, I booked 3 more appointments between now and my due date on March 11th. I’m hoping it helps…at the very least it was quite enjoyable in the moment!

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5. Effect of hormones. During my first pregnancy I got the “linea nigra” line (the dark line that forms on some pregnant women’s bellies) and I also got something called “melasma” which is a darkening of the skin. For me it showed up under my eyes and in one patch on my forehead. My linea nigra faded within a few weeks of delivery, but I STILL have the melasma brown patches from my first pregnancy. I was really worried that this would get worse with this pregnancy, but I haven’t gotten the linea nigra or any more melasma. Talk about weird, huh? It’s like I’m two different people this pregnancy. Well, I guess I kind of am…or at least these babies are two very different people. I wonder if this is a sign that they will be very different all around?!

6. Ability to rest. Well, this one is obvious and true of anyone having their second or third or fourth child. Once you had a child, you can’t just come home after work (while pregnant) and lay down. When I was pregnant with Jack, I’d come home, eat dinner, have a leisurely shower, and crawl into bed at 7pm and work or read or watch a show. It was glorious. I still get into bed pretty early, but it’s after working, playing with Jack, and putting him to bed. Let’s just say I’m a lot more tired this go around.

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Mama’s adorable little stinker! Baby Boy #1!

The biggest difference? This pregnancy has humbled me. I have a hard time doing much more than going to work and coming home and putting Jack to bed. Ben has to take care of almost everything around the house because I get out of breath even bending over. This pregnancy has made me question how my friends with 4, 5, or 6+ kids have done this so many times. I wonder if they have easier pregnancies or if they are just tougher than I am. I suspect it might be a bit of both. My hope is to have 3 kids…but I will definitely say that this pregnancy has made me nervous for the next go around. I’ve been told my GD may be harder to manage since I’ll be older, and my back and hip pain will probably be worse too. My massage therapist is also a physical therapist (the one I went to see today) and she told me I should go to a PT after I deliver because I am so out of wack that I need to get my ligaments and muscles surrounding my hips and pelvis back into shape before I conceive a 3rd time. I guess this pregnancy has taught me that I have to take care of myself and guess what? I’m not 22. I’m 32. And there’s a difference.

For all you pregnant ladies out there or ladies who hope to be pregnant soon, may God bless you on your journey! It’s not always easy, but since I have already seen the fruits of my labor once, I can tell you…it is SOOO worth it.

Book Review: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly

3 Jan

Over my winter break, I read the book, Resisting Happiness, by Matthew Kelly, a Catholic writer. It’s a simple book with really great practical advice. My father-in-law gave it to me and Ben when my in-laws visited several weeks ago. Relating back to my last post, it really reminded me of the importance of having good habits. Kelly explains why so many of us struggle to keep good habits in our lives and he gives it a name: “resistance.” Resistance is really the name he gives for that part of us that resists doing the very things that we know will give us joy. For instance, I know that reading brings a level of peace to my mind and soul, but over the past two years (really 19 months), I haven’t read as much as I used to because I’m “tired.” I’m a full time teacher, wife, and mom to a 19 month old boy, and I’m also 30 weeks pregnant with baby boy #2. I’ve used my “tiredness” as an excuse to not spend time reading, writing, exercising, or socializing. Instead, resistance prompts to me go on Facebook or watch an episode on Netflix, and all the while, I say to myself, “I’m so tired.” rh_book

Kelly describes some very way practical ways to build good habits. It has to do with starting small and being consistent while realizing that sometimes resistance will win and that’s okay. But if you acknowledge that resistance is there, it makes it easier to name and to defeat. That pull to go on Facebook instead of to open a book–that’s resistance.

There is a lot of great practical wisdom in this book regardless of your faith, but I will say that it is written for a Catholic audience, so you may not identify with it as well if you’re not Catholic. If you are struggling to make commitments to the habits you know that will make you happier, I recommend reading this book!

Reflections on 2016

31 Dec

Well, it’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Over a year actually. Becoming a mom kind of took up a lot of my time, but truthfully, I have had time, I just got out of the habit of blogging. Habits. Habits are something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as 2016 comes to a close. If there is one thing I’ve learned recently about parenthood is that it’s easy to lose a bit of one’s identity when one becomes a parent. At least it has for me. I love being a mom and Jack has changed me in profound ways, but I also lost a few good habits I had built over the years before I became a mother. What habits you  might ask? Being a consistent reader and blogger for one and taking time to exercise for the other. A lot of this is not because of Jack actually; it’s because I spent half of 2016 pregnant with our second child and this pregnancy has been much more challenging than my first. How so you might ask?

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Well, to start, I had terrible morning sickness until about 13 weeks (right around the time I went back to work in the fall). As grateful as I was that I didn’t have to work during the throws of morning sickness, it was really hard for me last summer because aside from the first two weeks of break when I didn’t know I was pregnant yet (and had not yet gotten morning sickness), I literally did nothing all summer except heave my guts out over a toilet or lay on my living room couch while my son played on the floor. I not only felt awful physically but I felt guilty. All my plans for taking Jack to the park and the library and going on amazing hikes with Ben went out the window. All I wanted to do was sleep and attempt not to gag. So needless to say, when I went back to work in the fall, I felt neither rested nor content. I was frustrated too by the fact that I had gotten out of the habit of doing things that were good for me that refreshed my soul–like reading, writing, and exercising. But I had neither the energy nor motivation to really start back up again, so in the little time I had in the evenings to myself when Jack was asleep, I watched Netflix and lounged about or did some lesson planning for work to get ready for the fall.

As the year comes to a close, I am now 30 weeks pregnant. 10 weeks from now I will be a mother to TWO beautiful boys. Let me say this pregnancy has also been different because with Jack, he was the only baby I had to think about. This time around, I have a toddler (who is currently taking a short nap…I say short because he’s down to one 45 minute nap a day now), and I don’t spend nearly as much time daydreaming about baby #2 as I did when I was pregnant with him. Part of me feels guilty about this and the other part recognizes its normal.

At 26 weeks pregnant, I learned I have Gestational Diabetes this go around. I was close to having it last time but passed the 3 hour exam with Jack. I wasn’t so lucky this go around. So for the last 4 weeks and the rest of my pregnancy, I have to be on a GD diet, test my blood sugar 4x a day, and keep a food log. That actually hasn’t been so terrible and it certainly has helped me to keep myself from gaining too much weight the last few weeks with the holidays! What’s been super hard is that I’m barely sleeping. My back and hips hurt so bad at night that there are some nights I am awake every 20 minutes, having to change positions. Two nights ago, I literally slept maybe 2 hours total. At the moment, it’s livable because I’m on winter break, but I go back to work on Tuesday, and I’m not looking forward to 10 more weeks of teaching while I’m barely sleeping due to back and hip pain.

Anyways, enough complaining. Point I’m trying to make? I do have actual reasons why I’ve gotten out of some good habits. But this break, I have really reflected on this, especially after reading the book Resisting Happiness, by Matthew Kelly. Kelly talks about how even when we know there are things that are good for us, that bring us joy, resistance often takes over. It tells us to surf the web, go on Facebook, or watch an episode on Netflix instead of doing that which feeds the soul. For me, I know that when I am most content I am reading, writing, exercising, and making time to socialize with friends. I have neglected all 4 of these areas of my life in 2016, and while I do have some legitimate excuses, those excuses aren’t making me any happier.

So what are my resolutions as I move into the new year? They basically revolve around re-establishing some of the good habits I used to have before becoming a mother. AND at the same time, working on being a more devoted, selfless mother and wife to my 3 boys (Ben included!). Ben has really had to do a lot for me these last 6 months with pregnancy and work taking it out of me, and I know I haven’t always been easy to live with (moaning about pregnancy woes has got to be his least favorite topic of discussion now!).

Here are my resolutions:

  1. Read more! At least one book a month (I used to read 2-3 a month, so I’m trying to set realistic goals here).
  2. Blog once a week.
  3. After baby, get into a better exercise routine. Make time go on hikes with my boys and at least do 3 work out videos at home per week.
  4. Make time for friends and date nights. I am a much happier person when I get not only a little time to myself but with other adults too. I am hoping to start doing a once a month book club with some girlfriends that will be kid-free and once baby is a few months old, I’d love to try to get in one date night a month with Ben. Since Jack’s been born, we’ve gone on maybe 2-3 dates total, and we really need some alone time where we can go out by ourselves and do something fun for us.
  5. Work on becoming more generous. This is a new one for me. I’ve never been good about this. I am exposing one of my biggest weaknesses right here. I am not a very generous person. But admittedly, I’m not generous with myself either. Case in point. I have had the same pajama pants for about 12 years (I know, I know…). When Ben’s parents were visiting us for the holidays, their luggage got lost and we had to go buy a pair of pants for his mom to sleep in. We are about the same size, so I figured it was a good excuse to get myself a pair of PJ pants that I could use since she only needed them for one night. I didn’t think much of it, but Ben just told me he showed his mom the pants I’d been wearing to sleep. Dear Lord. I almost died of embarrassment hearing him say this. They are so worn out, so thin, and they basically make me look homeless…lol. I just honestly didn’t think much of it, but looking at the situation from an outsider’s perspective, I realize how bad that made me look. It was one of those moments where you see yourself from someone else’s point of view and it’s not pretty. Not only am I not generous with myself, but I often don’t even notice it. So it’s no wonder I struggle to be generous with others when I rarely do anything for myself either. For some reason, I’ve always been fearful about money, and I know this will continue to be a struggle for me, but I want to find ways to grow in generosity–not necessarily just with my money but with my time. I hope that this will also help me become a more selfless person, as I know that I struggle with this as well.

Well, I think 4 resolutions will be enough to keep me busy for the year. Oh yeah, and I’ll have a newborn in just 10 weeks, so I’m sure he and Jack will keep me pretty busy too 😉

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Here’s a picture of our 2nd boy (still to be named!)

Becoming Mommy

23 Jul

My baby boy is 2 months old as of yesterday. I can’t begin to describe the level of joy he has brought to our lives. Sure, the nights can be a little tough and his bouts of crying confusing for a first time mama (Is he hungry? Dirty diaper? Tired? Gassy?), but I am learning to read his cues and figure out his cries. Right now I think he’s going through his “8 week leap” because he doesn’t want to be away from me for more than a second. I am actually wearing him as I type this…he’s all cozy in his Ergo.

Me and my little guy just after his bath. :)

Me and my little guy just after his bath. 🙂

What has becoming a mother meant to me? It’s a type of love I’ve never experienced before–completely unconditional. This must be how the heavenly father feels about us…or at least the closest thing to it. I cry tears of joy almost every day when I see my little guy smile…partly because he’s just so beautiful and partly because I can’t bear the thought of being away from him when I go back to work. I remember a few years ago when one of my co-workers came to work for the first time after having a baby (she had just dropped him off to his first full day at daycare) and she was crying. I felt sympathy for her but I really didn’t know what she was going through. Now I completely understand how hard that morning must have been for her…you just want your little one to be completely happy, healthy, safe, and loved, and who better to ensure those things than you and your husband. But alas, it’s not always possible for that to be the case. And I guess I should feel beyond blessed that we’ll only need to have Jack with a nanny (our friend) for 2.5 weeks and then Ben will take over daddy duty. I’m so glad that he’ll be with his dad even though I wish it were me.

Being a mother has made me better understand how much my own parents must love me. I love them so much, but it’s a different kind of love than the love you have for your child. I feel badly now for every time I treated them disrespectfully, but even more than that…I feel bad for the years in high school and college that I suffered from depression because the thought of Jack ever facing what I did just breaks my heart. I want him to be joy filled and I want him to feel a sense of worthiness and love all the days of his life. I know he will struggle and I know his life won’t be perfect, but at the very least, I want him to always feel he is worthy of love. I had to battle for that sense of worthiness for quite a few years before I really truly believed it, and it makes me sad that my parents had to bear that burden of knowing how unhappy their daughter was.

Happy boy!

Happy boy!

Being a mother means my sense of time has changed completely. These last two months have positively flown by. Jack has already changed so much in two months. It’s hard to imagine just how different he’ll be two months from now. All the milestones he’ll reach. It makes me wish I could spend every second with him, but I have to trust that God has put us in just the right set of circumstances so that our family will be happy and healthy.

Being a mother means that family is more important to me than ever. It’s even harder for me being away from my family than it was this past year. I want Jack to grow up knowing his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. And while I know he will, it’s not the same when they live so far away. Fortunately, we may have a few family members coming our way! It means more to me than anything in the world!

Being a mother means I will

…probably never have 8 consecutive hours of sleep again (at least for many years to come)

…always be worried about my child

…not care so much about money as long as my child’s needs are met

…do anything to ensure his happiness, health, and safety

…always have a heart full of love…it often feels as if my heart will burst. It’s just so full.

To all the mommies in the world…especially my own. Thank you.

My birth story

26 Jun

Well, it’s been over a month since I gave birth to my baby boy, Jack. The month has passed so quickly and while it hasn’t been easy, I wouldn’t trade a single moment. He’s such a sweet, kissable little guy. I thought I’d share my birth story for those who are interested. I know when I was pregnant, I loved reading about other women’s experiences even though I knew that every baby and birth story was different. I think when you’re a first time mom you just enjoy preparing yourself mentally for what is to come…I watched a bunch of videos about fetal development, labor, delivery, and taking care of baby. Mostly I read and watched stuff to do with pregnancy, and in retrospect, it probably would have been more helpful to read up on baby care, but I think we’ve done pretty well. Anyway, I’ll have other posts about Jack’s development…here’s the birth story!

On Friday, May 22nd, I woke up at 1am and felt some mild contractions. I’d been having a few on and off for a couple weeks as well as Braxton Hicks, but what kept me up was the regularity of the contractions. I pulled out my phone from the plug in the wall and began timing them. They were about 10 minutes a part. Friday the 22nd was supposed to be my last day of work, but I figured, why chance it and be in labor in front of a bunch of high schoolers, so I called in sick for the day.

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The contractions began to get closer together…at one point they were about 7-8 minutes a part in the morning. But around 9am, they slowed and began getting farther a part. I was so bummed and part of me wondered if I should have gone into work to get that one last day of pay, but I didn’t let it worry me. I was pretty proud of myself for making it to week 39, especially since as a teacher I was on my feet all day.

I suggested to Ben that we go on a walk to see if I could get the contractions to pick up again. I wasn’t super hopeful since my due date was nearly a week away and most people say that first time moms come late anyway. But I thought it wouldn’t hurt given the fact that I took the day off. We decided to walk the Deschutes River Trail which is about 3.5 miles. From our starting point it was more like 4 since we had to park far away. Amazingly, I had plenty of energy and the hike was surprisingly not too difficult for me. After our walk, I suggested getting some spicy food. It may be an old wives tale that spicy food can induce labor, but I figured it was worth a try. Well, by 2pm, the contractions began picking up again! I was so excited and hopeful that maybe it was the real thing. By 5:30pm, they had been 5 minutes a part for an hour, so we called the doctor and he said to go into the hospital. We got there around 6pm.

At that point, my contractions were like intense period cramps but really not that bad. I’ve only had a few bad period cramps my entire life, so I knew that’s what it felt like but it really didn’t hurt that bad. I could walk and talk through them. I only had 2 that I would classify as semi-painful. So when we went in I was fully prepared for them to turn me away and say that I wasn’t really in labor.

While Ben and I got me checked into the hospital, I can only imagine that the secretaries thought I was being a baby because as I sat there, I had some contractions but they didn’t really hurt. I actually said, “Oh I’m having one right now.” They were nice enough not to give me a face and sent me down to the triage room where a nurse met me about 10 minutes later. She got me up on the table and began strapping a monitor on my belly to see my contractions before checking to see if I was dilated at all. While she was getting the equipment ready, I felt a gush of fluid between my legs. I think I said something like, “Either my water just broke or I’ve peed myself for the first time this pregnancy.” She swabbed the liquid and left the room to test it, and when she came back, she said, “Well, you’re not going anywhere because your water just broke.” At that point I already knew it must have because the contractions were getting more intense even though it had only been a few minutes.

Well, after the water broke, everything came so fast it’s all a blur now, but this is what happened. My contractions became very intense within about 10-15 minutes of my water breaking. Those mild period-like cramps I was having earlier were like eating chocolate cake compared to these! I began moaning and screaming like, well, like a woman in labor, and I was still in the triage room…they hadn’t even checked me yet! When the nurse finally did check me, I was already 7.5 cm dilated, 90% effaced and Jack’s head was at a +3 station. Basically, he was ready to come out! At this point it was probably about 6:40pm, and Jack was born at 8:53. I think I pushed about 6 times and he was out. I got a 3rd degree tear but otherwise I was fine and Jack came out perfect with no issues. He weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces and was 20 inches long. It’s amazing how tiny he was when he first came into the world.

Today Jack is 5 weeks old and weights 9 pounds 9 ounces. He’s no longer the teeny tiny baby I gave birth to…he’s becoming a chunky little guy. It’s great to see him gain weight and be so healthy, but I also miss my tiny little baby. I’m so glad our friend took pictures of him on his first day of life because I’m not sure I would have remembered just how little he was if I didn’t have these great photos.

With regards to my recovery…To date I have lost 25 of the 30 pounds I put on during pregnancy. I’ve held on to these last 5 pounds for the past 2 weeks though, so I’m not sure they’ll go away very quickly. I think my tear is healing well since I’m no longer in pain, but I have a drs appointment in a week to find out for sure.

Enjoy a few fun pics of Jack on his first day of life! 🙂 I can’t believe how little he was!

Beauty from a different point of view

13 May

Tonight as I was getting ready to get in the shower, I looked at my body in the mirror and the thought, “Wow, I look beautiful” just came to me. It’s not something that normally comes to me when I look at my naked body, and if you told me 9 months ago that I would have that spontaneous thought while 38 weeks pregnant, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I might have even laughed.

It got me thinking…why was I so shocked to have that thought?

Well, let’s review the facts:

1. My entire adult life I’ve weighed between 126-133 which is pretty slender for someone who is 5”7.

2. I’ve always been a relatively athletic person prior to this pregnancy.

3. I struggled with terrible acne for years (age 12-23ish) that made me feel gross and ugly, and even after the acne cleared, I was always pretty critical of my appearance.

4. I always associated gaining weight with a certain amount of shame–mostly because I saw my fitness level as a sign of my self-control and will power.

37 weeks pregnant :)

37 weeks pregnant 🙂

So, here I am at 38 weeks pregnant, and 160 pounds–30 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight and at least 24 pounds heavier than the heaviest I had ever been prior to being pregnant. And yet, it’s one of the first times I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Wow, I look beautiful.” What did I see? I saw my face. My complexion has never been so good. My skin has been amazing (for the most part) during this pregnancy. I probably just look normal to most people, but for someone who battled cystic acne for years, I couldn’t ask for better skin right now. I saw silky full hair. I have struggled with thinning hair for years, but I have a thick, full head of soft hair right now. I realize it probably won’t last forever, so I’m grateful to have it now. I saw my round, full belly–so much bigger than its ever been before, but not “fat”…just big. I’ve been blessed not to get any stretch marks so far. Thankfully, the mirror hid my cankles, swollen feet, and trunk like calves, but even if it hadn’t, I don’t think that would have stopped me from having the thought that I look beautiful.

Perhaps the reason I feel beautiful is because when I looked at myself in the mirror, I wasn’t just looking at me. I was looking at me and my son. I was seeing my body as a vessel–an amazing vessel that has nurtured and brought a human being to life for the last 38 weeks, a vessel that will in a few weeks endure some pretty horrible pain in order to bring life into the world. If that’s not beautiful and powerful and amazing, then I don’t know what is.

I contemplated not writing this down because it felt like such a personal, private moment with myself. But then I went to the Pregnancy Posting website that I visit for a few minutes each day…and I came across a woman’s post that was all about how “gross” and “disgusting” she feels, and I felt compelled to share, because for once in my life, I wasn’t hard on myself. I wasn’t unkind and I wasn’t a perfectionist. I saw the beauty that God created both in me and through me. And I felt like that should be shared.