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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

     From what I can gather, there comes a time in every woman's pregnancy where she is simply done with being pregnant. I mean, over it. That time when all she wants to do is hold her new baby, get her body back to a somewhat normal existence, and finally stop feeling sick. Sadly, I may have reached that mark prematurely, because now this ticking time bomb flipping and flopping inside of me has me living on pins and needles, fearful that he won't come out at an opportune time or, worse, that he simply won't come out at all! I have vivid dreams that my water has broken, only to wake up and realize that I was just sweating.... really badly. And, when asked the daily question "Wait, you're STILL pregnant??" I joke that I'll be taking this kid to college in utero, only to seconds later well up with tears because maybe I wasn't really joking. And since pregnant women are known for their highly rational thoughts and emotions (gulp), it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that I bounce and rock back and forth on my yoga ball so much during each day that I induce motion sickness and nausea instead of labor.... and since this method obviously doesn't work, I continue to do it again later that day.... and that evening.... and right before bed.
     I had one ray of hope on Monday when I went for my weekly check-up and the doctor gave me my "show".... ladies, for the men's sake, I won't discuss what kind of show it was, but let's just say that I was mortified and thoroughly grateful that this happened at the doctor's office and NOT in my bathroom at home, or I would've thought I was dying for sure. It looked like Edward Scissorhands himself had performed the pelvic exam. My doctor followed this ray of hope up with the usual comments about 0 cm dilated (blah blah blah) and still only the same amount of cervical softness as last week (blah blah blah). So, in true pregnancy form, I decided to celebrate my feelings of overwhelming disappointment with a blizzard from Dairy Queen.... size? Large. But, Shivonne, you may ask, won't that upset your lactose-sensitive stomach??? And in reply, I would laugh heartily in your face, because this stomach of mine refuses to keep ANYTHING inside, lactose or not, for more than an hour anyways.... one more "symptom" that labor is surely on it's way (which I'll believe when I see it, because this has been going on for WEEKS and still, no labor!).
     The "show" is yet another sign that labor is 24-48 hours away, or so I'm told. Although, like weathermen, the writers at What To Expect are simply misguided fools getting paid to raise one's hopes, only to dash them away again with a clause that says "But every body is different" or "There's a 50% chance of rain, hail, and sunshine". Because it's been 49.5 hours and I am still not contracting, laboring, or doing anything else that would make me feel hopeful that my baby will ever come out. And D-Day is tomorrow! A mere 9 hours away!! What is he waiting for!?!? Does he not want to meet me as much as I want to meet him? Is he just as scared as I am that he's too big to fit through an impossible opening?? (Because I could at least get on board with that line of reasoning.) Or maybe he just really likes a good game of Hide and Seek.... whatever his thoughts, I hope he changes his mind soon, because I want to see him (and my feet) in the worst way. Please come out, Baby Boy. Mama wants to hold you, kiss you, and finally be able to sleep on her stomach again. PS, I love you.

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A Baby Story

     It has been such an eventful week! From the exhilarating T-DAP vaccine (accompanied by a lengthy and painful reaction for this Mama) to my parents coming into town over the weekend for my first baby shower, life has been a whirlwind! It seems that overnight by stomach has grown at the same rate as the Grinch's heart when he finally learned to love Christmas. It feels as if Baby Boy is ready to bust on out of his current home with each punch and roll he makes, and by the end of each day, I feel thoroughly and utterly worn out. But I have to say, family time was just what I needed. My husband and dad stepped up and watched all the ragamuffins that attended the shower so that the mommies were free to enjoy some grown-up time and delicious food. It was so wonderful to feel such a large amount of love that day from family, friends, co-workers, and church members. My lovely friend who hosted the shower had everyone fill out a sheet that let each guest write down their wishes for Baby Boy Costa. And as I read through them later that night, I was filled with such happiness (along with many tears and outright belly laughs) knowing that this baby isn't even here yet and he is loved by so many.
     On Sunday I had to say good-bye to my family, which always leaves me feeling a bit empty inside for a few days. Luckily, I have to work such long shifts now, that I don't have time to think about such things as emptiness, sadness, hunger, or the constant need to urinate. I just go-go-go until my body falls into bed minutes after walking through the door at the end of the night. Thankfully, I had today off of work... which literally just means that I spent the entire day doing work at home that I wasn't able to do over the weekend or on the days I work long shifts, so, naturally, I pushed myself too hard and ended up on the couch this evening, elevating swollen ankles, resting my aching back, and warding off nausea. The kids' homework was done, dinner was cleaned up, and the little ones were actually playing together nicely upstairs for a change. Therefore, I felt justified to take a few moments to catch up on past episodes of A Baby Story that I had recorded earlier.
     Now, let me just say this. I find this show equal parts terrifying and gratifying, and I'm not exactly positive that it's a healthy thing for me to watch, since it causes my worrying mind to go into overdrive. But something about it is just like that car accident that you stop and stare at as you drive by super-slowly.... you wanna look away but it seems impossible to do so all at the same time. Tonight, I was halfway through the second episode when Taylor came downstairs and stopped, just in time to see the mother on t.v. begin her series of pushes. I watched her face, her little eyes as wide as saucers and mouth hanging open. "Oh. My. Goodness," she whispered to herself. I couldn't help but giggle as she watched the mother scream in pain, nurses hustling and bustling every which way. And then as she pushed the baby out and the doctor lifted the little boy onto his Mama's chest, Taylor's face burst into a huge smile. "Oh, wow! It's really a baby!" she said, still glued to the television. She was literally transfixed until the commercial break.... and that's when the questions began.
     "What was all that stuff on the baby? Where is the hole that the baby came out of? I didn't see a hole on the mommy's tummy... will her belly stay that big forever? When is our baby coming???"
     "Ok, ok, ok. First of all, that stuff on the baby was inside the mommy too, and it was keeping the baby nice and warm while he was in there. And there's no hole in the mommy's tummy because the baby came out of her privates. That's why girls have the privates they have, so that babies can come out."
     "Oh... that's just a little bit gross, I think. So, you will be naked when you have our baby?"
     "I won't be able to have pants on, that's right."
     "Oh my goodness.... so dad's gonna see your vagina???" (The shock was priceless.)
     "Uh, yeah. And the doctors."
     "But it's ok for doctors to see us naked, but NOT BOYS, MOM!!!!"
     "It's ok for daddy's to see mommy's naked."
     "Well, if the baby's gonna be naked, then everyone else can be naked too, I guess!"
     "No, not everyone, just me and the baby."
     "So, when's the baby gonna get here? How many more years?"
     "Not years... just about 2 more months. Remember, it's winter now, and the baby will come in the spring. You'll still be in Kindergarten."
     "I'm gonna be in Kindergarten for that many more years?!?!?"
     "No, Taylor, it's winter now. Then in spring I will have the baby. Then in the summer, you will be done with Kindergarten. It's only 2 more months, not years."
     "Are you gonna be old when you have the baby?"
     "No, I'll be 32 in two weeks and that's how old I will be when the baby is born."
     "Yep,  you're still gonna be old..."
     Thankfully, the commercial break ended and the show has fast-forwarded one month, showing the baby at home. I noticed right away that the parents of this particular episode named their little boy the same name that my husband and I have been contemplating. We haven't told the kids this name yet, because of their struggle with fixating on things and not liking change too much, so we've held out until we're certain. However, Taylor looks me square in the eye and tells me, "I like that name. I think we should name our baby that, too!" (And I have to say, I quite agree with her!)
     We decided to watch one more episode just as Cameron comes into the room. He takes one look at the woman on the screen and says, "Hey Mom, she's not even as fat as you and her baby is already coming??" Awesome. Thanks, Cam!! He quickly became just as transfixed as Taylor had, eyes glued to the screen, but with a much more confused look on his face than Taylor had shown.... and then the questions started all over again.
     "She's making weird noises... why is she making those sounds? It gross!"
     "Cam, she's just in pain. Labor hurts, Bud."
     "So she gets to eat ice cubes and drink juice?"
     "Yep, this Mama gets to. She needs it to help her get through the delivery."
     (Enter the tub for the water birth...)
     "You get to go swimming when you have a baby???" Taylor asks excitedly.
     "No, it's not a swimming pool, it's a tub, and some women have their babies in the water."
     "No fair! She gets to eat ice, drink juice, AND take a bath..." Cameron is actually pouting over the "fairness" of labor.
     "Cam, it's not like she's having a party, man, she's in pain, remember??"
     "Cameron, I'm not even going to TELL you why she doesn't have a hole in her tummy!" exclaims Taylor.
     And just then, with the final few pushes, the baby emerges into the water.
     "Hey, where did the baby even come from?" Cam asks, confused.
     "Mom!" Taylor whispers loudly. "Don't tell him the baby came out of the V-A.... Mom, how do you spell vagina?"
     "Taylor, you're so gross! Babies don't come out of there!" Cameron looked at his sister like she was utterly ridiculous.
     "Actually, Cam, they do. That's why mommies have the parts they have. God made us that way."
     He stares at me for a few seconds as if processing the information he's just learned.
     "Well, at least you get to have some juice." That was his final statement before leaving the room, probably to go hunt down some juice. However, at tuck-in tonight, he did ask me if he would be allowed to tie that cord into a bow and make the belly button. He was rather sad when I informed him that doctors went to school for 8 years to learn how to tie that special kind of bow, and that he wouldn't be allowed to do that part. So, as of now, Taylor loves the idea of labor (yikes) and Cameron finds it basically disappointing and unfair. What more could a Mama hope for, really?

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A Woman Who Found Her Hat

     So, apparently pregnancy makes blogging hard. (Actually, it's probably more like pregnancy, mothering 3 kiddos, working full time, and being a worship leader makes blogging hard... oh, the hats we mothers wear!) As I approach month 6 of this whole child-bearing process, I find myself feeling much more normal than I did the first 4 months (thank GOD!!!). So normal, in fact, that we were able to get Isaac and Baby Bean's new nursery set up (and thus, Taylor's new bedroom, complete with a big girl bed and all!) with the help of my parents, AND I even managed to register for my first baby shower! So what if both events were exhausting and took much longer than anticipated? At least they're done and I can happily say that I survived :)
     Which gets me to my topic.... surviving. I find it necessary to mention that my kids have shown some improvements in the last week (gasp, I know, but it's true). After nearly 7 months of living as if each breath could be my last in Family Land, I am very proud to report that there are small glimmers that make me think that we actually may survive this world afterall. There's still fighting (obviously) and misbehavior (uh, no kidding), and llloooottttsss of crying (to be expected). But there's also less lying (less....), admittance to bad behavior instead of elaborate cover-ups (praise Jesus), and even, dare I say, affection (can I get a Hallelujah??). And to make matters even better, no one has broken ANYTHING of mine (well, at least on purpose) in about a month! Yes, friends, I do believe I see the faint glimmer of survival on the horizon.
     Tonight I witnessed a difference in Cameron when he told me he wanted to "give soccer another try". (Ugh, really? Because crying while standing in the middle of the field was sooo much fun the first season that we have to take another stab at it??) When I reminded him that baseball was a wonderful option to try instead, he said this to me.
     "Weeellll, my friend at school today told me that I was being a real big jerk last year in soccer, and that I could do better if I stopped being a baby. So, I think I'll try it again and do better this time."
     Well. Who can argue with that kind of logic, really? And who would discourage their kid from acting like a non-jerk-baby on a soccer field? I would like to find this friend and thank him for his well-deserved peer pressure and eloquently spoken advice. Had I called Cameron a jerk, he would have sobbed for hours, but a teammate does it and it sparks motivational change.... so yes, we WILL be playing soccer again this spring.
     Despite the efforts being made to survive family life in our home, recently I have found myself feeling insignificant and very much in the shadow of grandparents. My kids are always happy to see them, and they always ask to talk to them or visit them, and they always cry when a grandparent leaves. You wanna know who is always happy to see me, visit me, and cries when I leave? MY DOG. But my children? Eh... I can be taken or left in a heartbeat, and there are days when there are more tears shed at my arrival than at my departure. And in the light of my insignificance, I had a hard time not becoming bitter, frustrated, and just plain sad.
     But I'll fast forward to last night. I came home from work with some rather difficult news regarding changes to my work schedule that are just unavoidable. And we're not talking about a little bit of overtime or switching weekends around. We are looking at a complete and utter upheaval of our daily working hours for me and my fellow co-workers... schedules that will make it impossible for attending all of the evening events I have in my life (which are basically every evening), hours that will drastically limit my time spent with Pat especially (due to our now conflicting work hours), and a schedule that will cause me to have to rely daily on the health and sanity of my mother-in-law, who will now basically live at our home to care for my kids while Pat and I juggle outrageously long shifts. Already feeling overshadowed as it is, I prepared myself for cheers from the little ones at the idea of spending even more time with their beloved elders. But one thing I didn't expect... was the tears.
     Sure, there were initial bouts of happiness about hearing that they would sleep over at grandma and grandpa's house some nights of the week, and of course, over the realization that they will be able to get away with a heck of a lot more than they would if I were home with them every evening like they're used to! But I was able to watch the looks on their faces as the realization set in that there would be many days that they simply wouldn't see me at all, even for several days in a row. Cameron's chin quivered as he told me that he only understands his math when I explain it to him, and that he got the A+ on his spelling test because I helped him learn a song to remember how to spell the tough words. And Taylor burst into tears when she realized that I will miss all of her gymnastics classes and I'll never see her learn to do her bridge kick-over. And now, Cameron's soccer practices will be cheered on by grandparents, and weekends that I have to work, I'll miss most of my time for the entire week with little Isaac... thoughts that turn my stomach and make me cry right along with the kids.
     But even as things in life ebb and flow, I was very grateful for one simple fact: if I wasn't here, my kids would miss me. I may be the source of many spankings, groundings, and the cause of many tears and angry words. But I am also the cheerleader at events and the one who makes homework suck just a little bit less. Are they glamorous hats to wear? Not really. I'd much rather be the "fun one" or the "cuddly one" and I'd even settle for just being the "nice one". Yet, I found myself feeling much more settled knowing that I had any hat to wear at all in the lives of my kids. For so many months I felt hat-less, and now, my head is warm... and I think my heart just may be catching up, too.

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It's A _______!!!

     I'm pregnant!!! (Wait.... wrong announcement.) We're having a BOY!!!! (Ah, ok, there we go!) Although many of you already knew what we were having, I felt the need to make it official. Most of you know that I have trouble keeping big news inside, so it may come as a shock to you that we were able to fool our families into thinking that Baby Bean Costa had his/her legs crossed during the ultrasound, making it impossible to get a clear gender reading. Little did we know, Baby Boy Bean almost pranked us with this as well! After an hour and a half of unnerving picture-taking suspense, the little fella FINALLY uncrossed his legs just long enough to get a rump-and-weiner shot... and there was really no doubt about it... this baby is pure boy.

     Was I disappointed? No. Was I shocked? TOTALLY! I spent the prior 5 months convinced that I was carrying a little princess bean, only to find out that I was going to have to drop the double 's' at the end. So, no, I wasn't disappointed... but it was a concept that took some getting used to.

Another boy.... Wowza!!

To help me adjust to the idea, I made myself find the silver linings to the news: 1) I will never pass on my cracked-out-uterus problems to a boy. He will never feel a cyst on his ovary rupture, know the awfulness of menstruation, nor have to have any surgeries to laser grossness off of his innards. 2) Boys tend to be closer to their Mamas whereas girls tend to love on their Daddys... and I want this baby to be a full-fledged Mama's boy! (Well, at least until it causes him to get beat up... and then I want him to just snuggle with me secretly and kiss me a block away from the school yard, like any other closeted Mama's boy.) 3) We have so much baby boy stuff already that this will make my baby showers so much simpler! (And yes, I get to have a baby shower for the first time in 4 kids!!)

     Ok, back to the secret we kept from our families. For a full week, we knew the gender of our little nugget, but we painfully fibbed to our parents, telling them the leg-crossed story, leaving out the whole bit about him finally revealing his boyhood to us, of course. Afterall, I wasn't able to tell my family in person that we were having a baby because of our geographical distance... so I wanted to make sure I could tell them this news in person and in a special way. To do this, I wrapped up the ultrasound pictures in blue tissue paper and homemade confetti, complete with an announcement that we were having a baby boy. I then wrapped the gifts in regular Christmas paper and planned to have my family open their gifts simultaneously at our Christmas party, and then to have Pat's parents open their gift at our Costa family party. I also wrapped two little boy gifts for both Taylor and Cameron to unwrap and be able to keep and give to the baby.

     Awww, sounds sweet, doesn't it? WELL, there seemed to be a bit of confusion at the Grand Revealing. I watched my parents faces as they opened their gift. My brother and sister-in-law caught on right away, but my mother stared at the gift in wonderment, almost as if she were thinking, "Huh... what an odd gift of a random ultrasound picture that reads 'It's A Boy!'... Hmmmm...." I waited and waited for what seemed like minutes, but in reality it was probably no more than 5 seconds before my mom yelled out in realization as to what the gift meant for her as a grandmother! All were shocked, but happy.... all except for one small family member named Taylor. My almost 6-year-old looked at me with a frown and told me that she no longer wanted a new little baby in the family if it was going to be a boy. Immediately following her disdain, Cameron let out a whoop of enthusiasm that he was going to have another boy "on his side". However, his excitement was promptly followed by a look of confusion as he asked, "Hey, is the new baby going to be black, too?" My husband chimed in with a resounding, "He better NOT be!" as I decided against having a birds and bees talk with Cameron in the middle of our family Christmas party. So, we informed Cameron that this baby will be white, and Taylor that this baby will be a boy, and that if anyone doesn't like it, they're free to file a complaint with God, but that all negativity was banned from spoiling the moment!

     Our reveal to Pat's family was much simpler (probably because it had no choice to appear simple amidst the utter chaos of how this side of the family opens gifts!! Dear Lord, it was a wonder we all made it out alive!) His father was excited to have yet another Italian male in the family, his mother suggested we start a family basketball team, and his grandmother turned up her hearing aid so that she could understand what was happening (although I couldn't blame the woman for turning it down in the first place.... did I mention the CHAOS??) Needless to say, all were happy for us (even if it was an eventual happiness.... although I'm pretty sure my grandma is still miffed that she bought the baby little pink socks for Christmas, which she had no problems informing me of.... right after she reported to me and the rest of the room how absolutely LARGE I had gotten. Classy, grandma, classy.)

     So, for those of you that need to see it for yourself, meet Baby Boy/Bean Costa!!

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MotherLand

     Yes, I realize I'm a bad blogger. What has it been, 3 or 4 weeks since my last post? Well, it was either be a bad blogger or continue to be a bad mother. So, I chose to take a break from blogging and focus my attentions not on figuring out how to spin my frustrated life into a comedy or a tragedy, but simply on letting my life run it's course.... no poetic labels, no silver-lining-writing, no audience.... just letting life be. And that's what I did.
     In the meantime, some new life events took place. For one, Pat got a new job! We were all very excited... that is, until we realized that I was going to be home... alone... with the little people that have spent the last 5 months terrorizing me. Since my husband had been doing the majority of the child care while I took a maternal hiatus (aka hid in my room taking long naps and crying a lot in avoidance of yet another family crisis), there were 3 terrified faces as Hubby/Daddy went off to work that first morning. I didn't know who was more frightened, them or me! Thankfully, my in-laws have been there to fill in the gaps when I've been too frazzled after work to deal with the woes of pregnancy on top of  the likes of my other two kiddos. Together, we were able to ease me back in to MotherLand.... It's a Land of Chutes and Ladders. One minute we're at the top of the board, and in the next minute we've spiraled to the bottom, left in that heap of broken dishes, covered in scrapes and bruises. But those little people and I had a talk. Plainly and simply, we agreed that none of us would kill each other that day. Wrong actions would have consequences, good actions would have rewards, and I wasn't going to care too much which one they chose to do, because my sanity is more important than their behavior. And when the kids "cleaned the toilet" using a roll and a half of toilet paper and hand soap (which all got flushed and severely clogged the toilet), no one got flogged or beheaded. And when I spent more than 30 seconds in the bathroom, no one went out, got the ax from the wood pile, and chopped open cans of paint in the living room. So all in all, I'm feeling mildly successful in MotherLand.
     Another new and exciting event is that, after nearly 5 months, my pregnancy symptoms appear to be tapering off and I am able to join the real world again (with naps and medication, of course, but still....). After passing out on the floor of a public bathroom while with a client, I decided it was time to go to the Emergency Room. I cried to my Mommy by phone the entire way there and it became clear that either my baby was going to kill me or I was going to get a doctor to help me in some way. The beautiful nurse and the very wise doctor at our local hospital confidently ordered me new anti-nausea and anti-constipation medications.... both of which worked after the first dose (which showed me that I needed to be veerrrryy careful when I took that second med!). Were there some side effects at first? Sure! I woke up in the middle of the night hallucinating that all my teeth had fallen out and were somewhere in my sheets. And was I able to stop running to the bathroom? Not a chance! And was I too disoriented to stand (let alone drive)? Absolutely! But ever since my system got used to the medications, life has been sooo much more manageable! In fact, since I haven't been tortured by so much gastrointestinal distress the last two weeks, I've actually been able to start enjoying my pregnancy.... and I felt that Little Bean kick for the first time this morning:) It's amazing how much more manageable life can be when you're not in constant pain. Not only have I been able to get a glimpse of my old life again, but this morning I was able to experience a precious moment from the new life inside of me.
     Looking at the next few weeks, I see a trip to Michigan, Christmas parties galore, Taylor's birthday party, cupcakes for school, invitations to be filled out, and that whole laundry list of things called "Daily Life".... so will I be a bad blogger again? I'm gonna guess YES! But I will be back, complete with war stories and glories, I'm sure. But if I don't blog before the holiday, have a very Merry Christmas to each of you and your families. I am so grateful for you and the love that you share each and every day to me and mine. Xoxo

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