Where do I even begin?
I never thought I would get a chance to share my pregnancy journey but here we are!
I have heard this phrase by Soren Kierkegaard once, which applies to what I want to share with you! Life is lived forward but understood backwards.
Isn’t that true? Some unexpected life events throw us off or disappoint right away, but as time goes by and we look back we can always see the benefit and fruit they were able to produce. Our interpretation of things changes as they move from present to the past and the clarity of our vision intensifies.
Some days you wish you could go back in time and correct something, take some of your words back or not make that same mistake again, but God is not letting us do that. His mercies are new every morning, and we receive another chance every time we wake up, and it’s always moving us forward; it’s about the present and the future.
Some of you know I am an only child, born to parents who grew up similarly, without siblings. I think partially it’s this European trend to have fewer children, which is unfortunate.
I have learned, that it is a rather unusual phenomenon in the Midwest, where all my friends have 3+ siblings. So, needless to say, growing up, my exposure to babies was minimal, if not absent at all.
Right after college, I taught high school and subbed in middle school, ran camps for young adults, and tutored kids of different age groups, and yet, it never crossed my mind that I would ever consider having children of my own. Instead, I always wanted to travel, live in the city and be independent, and I successfully did that… for a while!
I had friends who started having kids right after college or going into grad school, and all I could see were the limitations and difficulties that came with that life stage for them: always looking for a babysitter, being unable to make plans or studying for tests while nursing. And I was loving my high heels and red lipstick and trying to hold on to those.
I wasn’t wrong per se, but the beauties and joys of having a family were not visible to my naked eye at the time. I didn’t realize that with difficulties came the luxury and privilege of being able to shepherd, love and teach little humans.
My friends were getting molded through the process, and were slowly becoming better people. God uses people close to us to shape us and make us more like Him; and children are instrumental on that journey.
By the time God was about to bless me, or shall I say, when the time finally came, and I was ready to step into a beautiful relationship called marriage, I was not 22.
I am not going to lie; I was grateful and almost relieved that my husband had a 10-year-old daughter at the time, and we were set as a family… to a certain extent. We have a little girl we could love on, teach, guide, and make sure she is ready for all the things this life offers.
I did get to marry the man of my dreams, so it came without surprise when I started thinking that having biological children with him wouldn’t be a bad idea, but was it even possible? I kept hearing him say that he would love some children with me as well and it felt both endearing and terrifying.
Can I get pregnant or is it unrealistic?
We talked and prayed about it, and I got pregnant in winter! It happened so fast! Our very first wedding anniversary is coming up on October 30th!
Guess what Giselle‘s due date is? Exactly!
I started getting suspicious that something had changed about me when coffee and perfume stopped smelling good to me. I grew up wearing perfume, which every woman in my family did.
As far back as I can remember, my father would give me perfume for Women’s Day.
(Women’s Day is a public holiday we celebrate in Ukraine, we just pause and celebrate women! Doesn’t it sound wonderful? It’s because it is, and it’s on March 8th.)
Noah and I have not even made it to 1 year of marriage, and we have been navigating parenting, pregnancy, moving, my green card process, the war in Ukraine, and other things that, undoubtfully, many families go through as well.
You feel ill-equipped and unprepared, but you face it and tackle it!
Not all of those are easy, but God takes care of us, gives us a favor, and we love each other!
Let me tell you; it’s vulnerable! And in the mind of a driven type-A, who is an activator and has been successful in driving her career and single life, suddenly being responsible for the lives of others becomes utterly terrifying.
My community, friends, and family in Minnesota and Ukraine, who had walked this road before me, have been very generous with their time, advice, and care, gradually teaching and getting me ready. For that, I will always be grateful!
However, I’m quickly finding out there is no tangible way to prepare for pregnancy, delivery, or parenting. Books and people around you are telling you multiple stories and scenarios, and you are obtaining all the knowledge, but life surprises us all EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I have been trying to stay active and maintain my swimming routine throughout this pregnancy. They tell you to eat well, but many of my go-to food items stopped sounding good early on.
Your sensitivity to smells and looks of foods puts you in some unusual situations! It was a learning curve to eat tasteless rice, potatoes, or crackers with absolutely nothing, but as I got further along, things seemed to get back to normal, and I was so happy.
God truly loves us. So many of my family and friends threw my baby showers; it was wonderful to get together with people I love and look up to, hear their advice, and celebrate our Giselle Rheya!
Several hostesses encouraged all the guests to bring baby books ( used or new ) instead of cards! I have never heard of that brilliant idea!
Many of you know how much I love books (it might be a consequence of my grad school ), so I was very grateful. Moreover, since I didn’t grow up in the Midwest, I have yet to learn what classic baby books are here, so now I have a chance to learn.
I want to share with you some advice women gave me at baby showers.
Several women said to:
- Remember that days are long and years are very short, when it comes to babies!
- Give yourself grace, you have never done this before.
- Celebrate! It came as a surprise to me because this advice followed some complex birthing stories. They said to celebrate because things change so rapidly as babies grow that you need to focus and see the good and simply celebrate it.
- Remember that everything is just a season, and it won’t last forever.
- Take time for your husband.
- Establish great traditions: breakfast in bed on kids’ birthdays, baking cookies when they come from school, so the house smells cozy, taking the time to make bedtime special, whether it is reading or praying, or listening about their anxieties and days.
- Ask for help, and make sure to be catching up on sleep.
- Apologize to your kids.
One of my dear friends shared a devotional at the shower and said that sometimes as a mom, you feel like if you have to pick up one more thing off this floor, you will die. It gets old, but remember that God picks up after us daily.
We mess things up, and God goes and cleans after us and doesn’t complain. That’s what love is. Kiddos teach us to die for ourselves, prioritize someone else’s needs, and willingly meet them. It was very humbling and brought tears to my eyes.
Now that I am 37 weeks pregnant, still wearing my heels but our focus is on assembling furniture, buying car seats and baby loungers, and washing and folding baby clothes. Everything is getting real.
The other day, I told my hubby that I remember praying that God would bless me with twins several years ago, so I wouldn’t have to be pregnant more than once. Now I’m sitting here with one baby in my belly, pressing against my rib cage, and I realize how insane of a prayer that was.