10 Weeks!

Baby size? kumquat!

Weight Gain? None yet

Stretch marks?
Only fadey ones from past babies

Belly button in or out? in

Sleep? waking up some at night, but i’ve been pretty tired so I sleep when I can. sometimes I accidently fall asleep while watching the children. I woke up once last week with z. holding a flashlight to her eye saying “is this awesome mommy? Is this awesome?”. luckily b. is of work this month so he has picked up my slack!

Foods I am loving? Seafood and mushrooms. Cherry greek yogurt. Mashed potatoes with gravy.

Foods I am hating?
No aversions so far! I’ve been a lot less sick this pregnancy (yay!)

Best moment this week?
Z. asked if she could sing the baby in my belly a baby-song, so she sang “jesus loves me” then kept asking “did the baby hear that? did the baby like it?”. it was very sweet!

Movement? Not that I can feel yet, but the baby was wiggling like crazy at our last ultrasound

Symptoms? Very very tired. I’m so thankful that the last month of the first trimester falls during a time that b. and I have a lot of family time and time off—its allowed me to actually take naps. Other symptoms—I’m already showing a little (3rd baby!), I often feel nauseous if I don’t snack, and I can’t eat too many sweets without getting sick.

What I miss? My pre-pregnant energy mostly

What I’m looking forward to? The 12 week ultrasound—I can’t wait to see how baby 3 has grown!

Emotions: seeing the first ultrasound, reality started to dawn on me—that little squigglyworm is going to be a real-live baby before I can blink. if I think too much about the future and how we’ll manage a newborn, two year old and four year old (plus both working full time jobs), I get a little scared, so I mostly don’t think about that part. Closer to time, I’ll prepare—but for now, I’m just going to enjoy my sweet girls and husband and the new little life growing inside me.

joyful, joyful

when b. came into the living room that morning, i was reading our youngest this book:index

and b. said “maybe someday!” and i said “sooner than you think. like this july. or technically right now, actually”


baby #3 is on the way! i’m 9 weeks pregnant today.

i had an ultrasound at 5 weeks, because the doctor thought i was 8 weeks, and we couldn’t see the baby or heartbeat or anything. i cried and cried, thinking that i’d miscarried or was miscarrying. the doctor told me that likely we were just too early, but when i started bleeding a few days later, i felt sick with worry. we were in boston when that happened, the first day there, b. and i on our first trip without the kids since we’ve had kids. i cried for a while and prayed about it and felt like i needed to stop filling in the blanks of what i did not know with death, death, death, and celebrate instead the possibility of life.

so we had a good rest of our trip and on the way back i began getting my normal pregnancy symptoms, sick-oh-so-sick and tired as i could be. i felt a peace then, so when i went in for my actual 8 week ultrasound and dr. m gave me that “is renee going to cry again” look, i told her i was ok, really ok, and i knew the baby was ok too.

and the baby was! there he (or she!) was wiggling like a little gummy bear. a perfectly beating heart, perfect little body. what a miracle. its amazing to see that little couple-inch long baby knowing that next year i’ll be holding that baby in my arms. the best blessing and gift i could receive this year.

the everyday artist

A lot of people come into this Fancy Expensive Make-Up Store to play with the make-up—its expected—but these two thirteen year old girls were different–one was in a wheelchair, breathing apparatus strapped to her. Though Karen was working as shift manager at the time, not make-up artist, she went over to the girls, gave them make-overs—a sweep of eyeshadow over eyelids, a touch of lipstick, the right colors for their skintones.

That’s when the girl in the wheelchair told her how they’d come in that day because she’d had a test with not-so-good results. And she’d just wanted to feel like a normal girl for once—and Karen had helped her feel that way.

A couple years ago, Karen had someone in her life tell her that what she loved to do—to style, make-up, decorate, arrange–wasn’t important, didn’t make a difference, wasn’t “ministry.” She believed him. So she changed her major in college, changed her life. Now she’s back doing what she would do even if she wasn’t getting paid for it—lending an artistic touch to the everyday.

It is an art—arranging the perfect picture collage wall in a home, choosing the right color dress, styling hair just so—it is just an everyday art, an art we live in, so some don’t value it.

But to that little girl, trapped in her wheelchair, Karen practicing her art that day made all the difference.

Singers need to sing and painters need to paint. God may not have created you to be a preacher or a biblical counselor, but He will use you in whatever he has called you to do, whether you are recognized for it by the world or not.

I’m proud of my little sister, Karen, for practicing her art, what makes her heart sing, to the benefit of others.

Stuck (and unstuck)

I struggled with writing this fall; and not because I was busy (though I was) or distracted (though I was), but I kept gravitating toward what I did not want to write about. There was an issue in my extended family that I was angry about and I couldn’t stop writing about it.

Every time I sat down to write, a torrent of anger and hurt and accusations poured out of me. Not confessional—accusatory. It left me feeling drained, trapped in a cycle of writing about what I would never want read. Some writers like to write about those things but I find that I do not; no matter how hurtful a loved one has been, I don’t feel its right to make it public.

So I stopped writing poetry for a while. Bryan and I worked on a lovely book together—about creativity and worship—and we got quite a bit written on it within a couple months. Bryan wanted a break to work on more songwriting, so, to keep avoiding poetry, I plunged into research.

Then we went to Boston. And we walked the Boston streets, and were just the two of us, a couple, again. I sat in famous Room 222 and listened to poets talk poetry. Poets I admire encouraged me that my poetry was still worth pursuing after-all.

But most of all, I stood in an ornate castle of a room, chock full of people who loved poetry and thought it was important, and I read my work. It made such a difference to actually be around people who cared a little about what I did, and to eat and talk and walk with people who cared just as much about poetry as I did.

When we came back, I went back to poetry knowing what I wanted to write about. Its made such a difference—I’m excited to write, writing whenever I can, excited to see where this next book goes.

Reading with Sharon Olds

Each year a Boston University MFA alumni is invited to introduce the main speaker at the Robert Lowell Memorial Reading Series. The year I was in the program, Peter Campion introduced Seamus Heaney—I never dreamed that I would be back, five years later, as the alumni introducing another poetry legend, Sharon Olds!

I had always admired the confessional quality of Sharon Olds poems—the way she uses imagery, veering from the sometimes violent or even grotesque to ethereal beauty. The raw emotion of her poetry demands a reader’s attention—and, discovering her as a young poet, I couldn’t help but gravitate to the power of her writing.100_8509

I’m not sure exactly what I expected when meeting Sharon—maybe a tough feminist, maybe someone who spoke little but judged a lot. Whatever I expected, I was surprised. Sharon Olds was more like talking to the hippy mom of a friend, with her straight gleaming silver hair. She was kind, humble, and encouraging—and, more than anything, she radiated with a love for poetry.

As part of the reading series, Sharon gave a Q & A time with the current MFA students. I was able to sit in, and there she shared that she still gets rejections (is that even possible?!), that she tries to write useful poems, and that she feels everyone should be able to write about what they desire to write about.

The reading was in BU’s castle—a gorgeous, ornate building. The room was small, but packed, and after being introduced by Robert Pinsky, I read a selection from Keeping Me Still. I had nervously practiced earlier that day, and I’m glad I did—after the first couple of poems, I felt comfortable enough to actually enjoy reading in front of an entire crowd of people.100_8508

Sharon Olds read from several of her books, and hearing her read her poetry gave it a different quality than what you read on the page—it really brought forth the humor in her writing. My favorite poems of her reading were her new Odes—wry, funny, richly playing with language.

We signed books afterward (her far more than me!) and chatted with the audience. This reading is by far my favorite that I have ever been a part of—having the encouragement and support of an accomplished poet that I admired made the evening one to remember.

I Could Not Tell by Sharon Olds

I Could Not Tell

I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.

I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.

I have never done it
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.

from Satan Says.