on slowing down

I knew it would be like this, I knew the moment when Eric and I found out whether or not our sweet baby was a boy or a girl would be game changer.

I have definitely struggled with this pregnancy, mentally more than anything else. Typing that outright sounds kind of terrible. Let me explain.

I wanted to be pregnant.
I still want to be pregnant.
I am overjoyed to be pregnant.

However, coming from the world of infertility and loss has been more difficult than I ever imagined.

I don't immediately identify with my other pregnant friends. I am joyful, but my joy comes from the Lord, not from the fact that I am pregnant. I am also thankful, same reasoning. You cannot just erase almost four years from your life like they never happened. God has grown and stretched me in ways I could have never imagined. I can look back and see times where God was molding me to look more like his Son. Painful times, but so very productive.

So yes, I have struggled to come to terms with many things during this pregnancy. It doesn't mean I am ungrateful at all, but in my humanness, my mind wanders.

Why now God? Why this timing?
I love this baby, but I loved my first baby too. I wouldn't be carrying this little girl if my first one wasn't sitting with you today.

Can you understand why this pregnancy has been such a mind battle for me? There are a lot of things that add to that battle as the pregnancy progresses; milestones that I did or did not reach with Ellis. The biggest one so far? Gender.

Which brings us back to the game changer. We found out our little one is indeed female, to which I was supremely surprised and Eric was ridiculously overjoyed! To say he was hoping for a girl is an understatement. Love that man of mine! But after our initial elation, reality set in. More than reality, pressure.

I don't like pressure. But there it was like a big black rain cloud hovering over our parade. No one had to put it there, it just appeared on it's own. Pressure to name. Pressure to tell the name. Pressure to decorate the nursery. Pressure to register for all things pink. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

Eric and I have decided not to give in to pressure. This may be the only full-term (God willing) pregnancy we ever get to experience. In an effort to fully realize the blessing we have been given, there are things we must do in order to protect our hearts and minds. A few of these things will make other people mad, I am aware of that. I also don't feel like I have to defend our decisions to anyone. We don't plan on announcing our baby girl's name to the general public. I don't plan on registering for a million and one things, nor do I plan to register any time soon.

Right now I am happy to just sit and enjoy the kicks that I know I'll miss feeling soon. (I'm 20 weeks!!!)
I am even ok with going maternity shopping...mostly because I love shopping and it's getting to be a necessity!
I've started a tiny bit of nursery dreaming, mostly to appease my very excited mom who is generously making the bedding for her first granddaughter. 
I am just not sold on the over-hyped commercialization of pregnancy (or babies and children for that matter, kids just aren't as burdening or expensive as the world makes them out to be).

I think most women want pregnancy to go fast so they can get straight to mothering. I'm just not of that same mindset. And that isn't stemming from me having a superawesomeIcouldbepregnantfortherestofmylife pregnancy, it's just the realization that it is so easy to take gifts from God for granted...even gifts we have wanted begged for for years.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10

what a year can bring

I am stealing this idea from my friend Gaby and giving her credit because I told her I would! :)

2011 in Review
January marked the one year anniversary of starting the adoption process. We were discouraged, and yet had so much hope for that route. God had different things in my mind, we just didn't know it yet.

February is the month that took me to Honduras, Eric to Costa Rica, and renewed my passion for mission work. I wrote about it a lot. It's also the month we conceived for the first time in our 4.5 year marriage.

March is the month I came home from Honduras. It's the month that we learned of our conception and felt God's presence in our lives in a new and different way. God also taught me a lot about anxiety this month.

April was a slow month in blog land for me, but not in my personal life. I did post a little about infertility.

May was a big month. I turned 26 and was incredibly depressed. I had to say goodbye to my first child. God taught me a very important lesson on the body of Christ.

June was the month my sweet husband turned 28. God blessed me immensely and unexpectedly with another mission trip to Costa Rica, a balm to my broken and confused heart.

July brought our FIVE year anniversary! It also brought our decision to stop pursuing foster-to-adopt.

August was the month that God taught me a lot about identity. We conceived our second child, unbeknownst to us. I also got this spiffy new blog ;)

In September I guest posted on Held, and we learned of the sweet baby growing inside me. 

In October I had a lot of blog problems and switched back to blogger! Love blogger. We also announced our pregnancy to you and the world ;) I also had to say good-bye to my grandmother.

November came with highs and lows. I told you the name we chose for our first baby on her estimated due date. I also entered into my second trimester with the baby girl I now carry.

December brought the excitement and anticipation of finding out the sex of our sweet baby. We celebrated the best birthday in the world, JESUS'!

What did 2011 have for you? I have to say, this year was a roller coaster of emotions that surpasses the others by a landslide. But we have SEEN God work, we have tasted his goodness and experienced pieces of His magnificent plan. We wouldn't trade 2011 - heartaches and joys - for anything.

merry christmas

"All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him." - Psalm 72:11

it's a...

There were a total of 53 votes on my little poll for boy or girl! 30 of you said girl, while the other 23 believed a baby boy was in our future! Believe me when I say there were some STRONG opinions on both sides :) You all made this a lot of fun for us! But more importantly, we so appreciate the prayers on behalf of our little one.

We are beyond blessed to announce that...

Majority wins! Now for names, nursery, and all that jazz!!!

hangin' there

A few weeks ago I shared with you all that the day after we saw our precious baby's heartbeat for the first time, my grandmother went home to be with the Lord. I don't think I can ever explain the mix of emotions felt during that week.

Today I just want to talk about Tata. Tata means grandmother in Arabic. It's pronounced "Ta" (like tablet) "tah." Most of this post won't mean anything to you all, that's ok, I just feel the need to put down memories of her somewhere. I've always said this blog is my outlet, where I hope to encourage others and glorify God all at the same time.

Tata is one of my first memories. When my parents divorced and we moved away, we visited my dad every summer. We always stayed at Tata's house. She lived about a quarter mile from the ocean in Massachusetts. Her house is one of my favorite places in the entire world. We moved a lot growing up, so I can't say "my childhood home" and mean one place in particular. Tata's house has always been my constant. It is a very small white cottage made up of two bedrooms, one tiny bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. That's it. I love every square inch of that place. My most favorite space in that house is actually not in the house, it's outside. You see Tata was born and raised in Lebanon. She is hands down the best cook I've ever known...more on that later. Anyway, a traditional Arabic dish is yubra - stuffed grape leaves. When Tata moved into her house in the 60s the first thing she did was plant her grape vine. Over 50 years later, it's beautiful and full and producing the most awful tasting grapes! That doesn't matter though, all she needed was the leaves.

She had two sheds out back stuffed to the gills with everything you can imagine. She had two freezers in one, completely packed with food and Lebanese bread! In the event of a snow storm, she wouldn't have to go anywhere for weeks.

A few years ago I thought it would be very important to learn to cook some of her Arabic dishes. She measured nothing! I carefully watched and wrote down ingredients, steps, and eyeballed measurements to ensure I could at least make the simple things that I grew up eating. I thank God for those sweet hours I got to spend with her, talking about how she learned to cook and where she grew up. I learned that she married at 13 years old! She had my dad at age 16 and my uncle at 20. She didn't have any more children after him and I could see in her face that it pained her. She never spoke of being unable to conceive, but at the time Eric and I were going through the same thing and my heart broke over our unspoken infertility bonds.

I learned to make hummus, sfiha (spinach/meat pies), yubra (stuffed grape leaves), mujadara (lentils and rice), tabouleh (parsley salad) and many more dishes. I hope one day they turn out as good as hers.

While Dad was working, Tata did her best to fill our days. We went to the beach and collected snails. She loved to put her feet in the water. We walked on the sea wall. We visited family. Most of all, we shopped! Tata loved to shop. She would shop and buy and the next day she'd return everything! She loved to grocery shop too. She went nearly every day. It was amazing to see her cart filled with $100 worth of groceries, and she'd spend $7.62. I am not kidding, the woman was the original Extreme Couponer.

Dad took us to Disney World one time, and Tata came too! At almost 70 years old, she rode Space Mountain!!! Coolest grandmother ever. When she passed away and I went to MA to help dad go through some of her things, I found a very important envelope. It contained the original deed to her house, her marriage certificate, Dad's birth certificate, and all of our tickets from Disney World. Of course, I lost it. She kept everything important to her in that envelope.

Though she lived in the States for over 50 years, she still liked English as her second language. The sounds of Arabenglish permeated her house as she spoke fast and fluent with her sisters and brother. I will never forget certain phrases that rang out loud when she was excited, or angry!

When she saw us for the first time - "Ya budna!!!"
When she was angry with dad - "Haram."
When she called me on the phone - "Hi Nino!" (Nino was a nickname, no one knows how it got started but she is the only one to ever give me one that actually stuck.)
When asked how she was doing - "Hangin' there!" (She meant "hanging in there.")

I know my Tata loved the Lord. I know she is with with Jesus and she feels no more pain. I'm thankful that when God decided it was time it was fairly quick and relatively painless. There is so much more I could type, so much more I could say about her. I could write a novel on the many hilarious experiences we had, the funny conversations on the phone...

The last voicemail she left me was during Hurricane Irene: Hi Nino! How are you Tata? Be careful from the hurricane Tata. Stay with your sister and brother. I'll talk to you later einey, bye. I love you. Bye.

She could never say bye just one time.

Bye Tata, I love you too. Bye.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

sometimes it's ok to pick sides

Well friends there is some intense debate among family/friends/blog friends as to whether Baby Evans is sugar and spice or snips and snails. So I am setting up a poll (see right side of blog) for you all to cast your vote!

To help you along, here is how I compare to some old wives tales about gender:

I crave sour/salty.
My hair is full and thick.
I had morning sickness (but it was at night and now it's gone)
Chinese gender predictor said boy.
I would say my "bump" is more low than high.
The heart rate is consistently in the 155-165 range.

My intuition says boy but Eric says girl! Honestly, we really don't care either way. Healthy is way more important. My doctor did agree to do the gender scan on December 20th, I'll be almost 19 weeks then. We will get the technician to put the results in a card for us to open on Christmas morning! (Or evening, I am notoriously impatient!)

Mostly I am just excited to see our sweet little one via ultrasound for the second time. It will be almost 11 weeks since we saw him/her the first time. I, for one, am very glad God has blessed us with the knowledge of this technology.

I'll let you guys all know the results shortly after Christmas!!! Now go vote ;)