Dearest Evan Michael,
You have a name! (Insert happy dance here!!!!!) It feels nice to be calling you something other than "baby." We're so excited to meet you, and now we're in the final stretch. Less than a month until your due date. And Mama is sooooooooooo glad.
The belly is reaching gargantuan proportions. The button has completely popped. You are "done" baking and ready to join our family. At your last checkup, your heart and size were measuring perfectly. Somehow, in the miracle that is pregnancy, you've been spared and protected from the range of maladies that have plagued my poor body since July.
It's been a rough pregnancy, to say the least. From six to fifteen weeks, my colitis was awful. I was losing weight, losing blood, and growing sicker with each day. A scope early in my second trimester showed moderate to severe disease and so we had to make some tough decisions. I went right on steroids and soon after started remicade. Within several weeks, my colitis was under control, thank goodness. I started to put on pregnancy weight (no problem after that 1st trimester, LOL), and you continued to grow.
The steroids had the pleasant secondary effect of keeping all my pregnancy symptoms at bay. For 8 weeks I didn't have any joint aches or morning sickness. But when the prednisone stopped, the nausea and pain returned.
And then cold and flu season hit. In the last two months, I've had: a cold, the stomach flu, the flu, a sinus infection, a raging case of molluscum contagiosum, a full-body rash, and cysts. ALL ON TOP of pregnancy nausea and barfing plus the pelvic pain. Let's just say that Mama is MORE than ready for this season to end.
In the midst of all this sickness, my heart has suffered some. I wonder why such pain and sickness is necessary to produce a little baby. I wonder why God chose our family to have another baby. Yet even in the questioning, my faith has grown. I am in awe of the miracle of growing yet another little Joyce baby, and the ability of my body to sustain life while struggling so with sickness. I wonder at God's plans for you, little gift, as though you were unplanned in our eyes, all your days were written in God's book before one of them yet has come to be. If He is able to create and sustain life amidst all the outside struggle, it makes me ponder deep in my heart the life he has for you out here.
One of our prayer partners likened this pregnancy to growing our little church plant. It couldn't be a more accurate metaphor...a very difficult path with twists and turns, sickness and hurt, wonder and awe, hoping for new life at the end of the road. As my belly swells with your growing body, our hearts swell for our church. Each difficulty is balanced out with a blessing or grace. Just when things start to get really hard, something makes us stop and smile and give thanks.
Some days I don't know how I've gotten to this point. I'm grateful God has given me patience with myself as we sit and wait for you to come. I'm grateful for your big sister, who every day surprises me with joy and humor and love. She did a lovely portrait of us (above) on my valentine, a very accurate portrayal of just how big we are these days.
I'm thankful for your little brother, who despite his many three year-old tendencies, always has gentle snuggles and loves for me at the end of the day. He reminds me that I have yet another snuggler on the way, a little body to hold and cuddle and love each day.
I'm thankful for your Daddy, who works hard, plays hard, and has such big loves for our family. I'm so glad you will have an example of what it means to be a man of integrity, of love, of passion, and of pure, life-filling joy.
Yes, Evan, when it comes down to it, my new $3 clearance shirt from Target perfectly sums up how we feel about our 3rd baby: love, love, love. Can't wait to hold you in our arms!