For a little over 2 weeks now, I’ve been keeping my pregnancy a secret from most people. It’s funny how close friends and family will respond with comments like, “Wow! 5?! WHY?!” I suppose five seems like a whole lot of kids these days, but for a homeschooling family it’s kind of average. Well, maybe not for older generations. Five would be on the smaller family side. Pioneering homeschool families had like 7 to 10 children! Anyway, five doesn’t seem like too much to handle…yet. But, I know it’s going to change some of the dynamics in our family.
It’s already having a major effect on my homeschooling. I’m like a narcoleptic. Friday morning, I read a couple of pages out of Elijah’s Mystery of History book and then I said, “Okay, you take over. I’m going to take a quick nap.” I closed my eyes for a bit. But my two younger children started poking me. “Mom!” Tiana kept saying, “Look at this!” Titus was less gentle and actually half slapped me on the arm or some body part I can’t even remember to get my attention. “Can I play with the iPad?” Nice one, Titus. He knew when to ask me. I was so lethargic, I said, “Okay.” He was going to play a geography game so that was acceptable. After a few minutes, I had to wake up to read Edan’s astronomy book. We got through a couple of pages about Mars and then I felt a wave of fatigue again. So I lay back down and closed my eyes while giving everyone another break. In a few minutes, we had a visitor, so I really had to wake up. I transferred the kids’ books to the dining table where the kids did their remaining work for the morning.
Sleepiness is one of the most obvious pregnancy symptoms for me. Thankfully, I don’t really get morning sickness. The key has been eating when I start to feel that unpleasant sensation in my stomach, taking my pre-natal vitamins at night, and exercise. Somehow exercise has helped me to stay in control of my body. This probably sounds like hocus-pocus. But these small things have worked for me. Of course, every pregnancy is different. Not all women experience the same symptoms. I have one friend who is super fit but every time she is pregnant, she throws up everyday for 9 months. She only gains between 12 and 15 pounds, too! All baby.
For the last six months, Edric and I have gone back and forth discussing when or if we should get pregnant again. It felt weird to be “un-pregnant” for such a long stretch. My body has gotten used to a cycle of getting pregnant, breastfeeding, fighting hard to lose the pregnancy weight, and then getting pregnant again after I lose the weight. For a while, I was just losing weight and no bun in the oven. Friends around me were getting pregnant and having their babies and I actually felt a longing inside of me to re-enter that crazy phase when you don’t get any sleep and when you feel like a cow. I would see their little babies all swaddled or dressed in their tiny clothes and I would think, I need to have another one of those. I miss that stage!
The funny thing is, after I took the pregnancy test and realized that I WAS pregnant, I was like, Am I really ready for this? Did we think through this decision well?” Where were we when we made this baby? Oh, I know, we were in Europe!
We were hypnotized by our romantic surroundings and we said to each other, “Let’s get pregnant…Let’s get pregnant…It’s time to get pregnant…Why don’t we get pregnant? We should have another baby. Tiana should have a sister.” And boom. Baby 5.
Usually, I discover that I’m pregnant 6 to 8 weeks after conception. But this time around I had a strong sense that I already was pregnant so I went ahead and got the “pee test.” The second line was faint at first so my doctor, Dr. Regina Capistrano, who has birthed all my kids (I praise God for her), advised me to take a blood test. The blood test confirmed that I was about 4 weeks. I couldn’t take the ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat until December 17th because it was too early in the pregnancy.
December 17th was yesterday. Like my previous pregnancies, seeing the flickering heartbeat on the screen made me feel excited and vulnerable at the same time. It was like wow! This is real! And oh my, I’ve got 9 months of fetal development to get through. If I could fast forward to the baby-in-my-arms part, that would be awesome. After four children, I still get nervous about giving birth. People don’t believe me when I say this because I keep having babies! But I have not done anything as physically grueling as giving birth. I’m a semi-masochist. I opt to do everything without anesthesia. My reasons for doing Lamaze and Bradley are…1. I don’t want anything injected into my spine. 2. I don’t want to risk the possibility that my baby can be affected by the anesthesia. 3. I prefer to feel the extreme pain so I can feel the extreme relief that immediately follows. 4. Labor is not a bad pain, it is positive pain. Unlike getting your arm cut off, labor pain is your body and the baby working to get him or her out into the world. I don’t impose this perspective on other women. Doctors wouldn’t give epidurals if they weren’t “safe.” So every pregnant mommy should do their own research about the pros and cons and take child birth classes. I took mine with Chiqui Brosas-Hahn.
Well, there is a lot to be excited about…I’m excited about having another Mendoza added to our bunch. I’m excited about the children’s excitement. They are thrilled about the pregnancy. I’m excited about the possibility that this baby could be a girl. I’m excited to go shopping for baby stuff! Babies have the strangest, cutest bodies. They have the proportion of a frog’s body with a bigger head. I just love it. And I love it when their thighs get really chubby and mushy. So nice to bite and squeeze! I’m excited to see the unfolding of another personality type. What kind of a Mendoza does God have in store for us this time? What are his plans for this child?
It’s really so early in the pregnancy to be thinking about all these things, so I’m letting myself be distracted by the Christmas and New Year’s festivities. I’ve got a loooong way to go.
As I end this entry, I want to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of life and how amazing it is to be a woman — a wife, a mom. I embrace being these things. When people ask me is it hard to homeschool? Is it difficult to raise four children? How come it looks easy for you? Okay, I want to answer these questions. Is it hard to homeschool? Yes. Is it difficult to raise four children? Yes. How come it looks easy for you? It’s NOT EASY. But ask me this…”Do I enjoy being a mom? Do I enjoy the challenge of homeschooling and raising four children? Heck, yeah! I was born for this when God created me female!
God designed women to be able to bear up under the unique difficulties that come with motherhood (and homeschooling). How do I know this? Let’s take one very obvious example. We give birth! We can make it through intense, excruciating pain and push out a baby! Some of us actually get cut open several times for several babies. Just a few hours after giving birth, we get up, walk around, cradle our babies in our arms, and sing sweet lullabies to hush them to sleep. We do not hate these little people who caused us so much suffering. We instantly love them and develop all the instincts to care for them. And what about the sleepless nights and breastfeeding? For those of us who choose to breastfeed, we know how impossible it is to get any decent sort of rest for the first year.
When I gave birth to my first child, Edric coached me through the labor. He witnessed the agony I was in, as well as the physical effort, mental fortitude, and spiritual centeredness that child-bearing required of me. Afterwards, he something like, “Hon, my respect for you and all the women of the world went through the roof.” Well, when I gave birth the first time, my respect for women (especially my mom) went through the roof, too!
Before I became a mom I had no clue what motherhood was all about. God gave women such a special, honored place in all of creation. Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20 NASB) We are the vessels through which glorious life enters into this world. We should never, ever think that we are any less for choosing to be mothers, for following that God-given desire to nurture our children and be present and available to them. It’s hard-wired into us to find deep fulfilment and joy from surviving and thriving through the challenges of motherhood.
Whatever stage of womanhood God allows us to be in, let us celebrate whom he created us to be and choose to be a blessing!