Wednesday, August 17, 2016

40 Realities of a Surprise Pregnancy

(20 weeks)

      For anyone wondering what it's like to have a surprise pregnancy, an unexpected fourth baby, here's a little story for you.  It goes something like this...   

1.  Your period is a few days late, but you think, “Eh, no big deal. I’m NOT pregnant, but hey, I’ve got this old pregnancy test here in a drawer.  I’ll do this just to make sure.”  Your husband is gone.  You don’t even tell him what you’re doing because it’s no big deal.

2.     You glance down at the test, 100% expecting the “Not Pregnant” line to appear, and it does, but then… “WHAT?  There’s no way.  Nope, I’m imagining things.  That can’t possibly be a second line appearing??!“  Your heart starts pounding.  “There’s no way.  There’s no way. There’s no way” you repeat under your breath. 

3.     You put it down, walk away.  Because there’s no way.  Two seconds later, you’re picking it up again.  The second line is darker than before.  You can’t breathe.   

4.     You pace back and forth, the oddest mixture of dread and excitement pulsing through you.  You hear the garage door.  Husband’s home to pick up his computer before heading off to the office.  You wait, perched on the bathtub.  He comes in, and with wide eyes you silently point to the counter.  He looks down with confusion, sees the test, looks back at you with more confusion, and then takes a closer look to see what the test actually says. 

5.     “What??” You stare at each other in disbelief.  He leaves immediately to go get more pregnancy tests… tests that are not expired. 

6.     He comes back.  Two more tests confirm.  This is actually happening. 

7.     You lie on your bed, head on his chest, both of you in shock. 


Yes.  This is exactly what it feels like. 

9.    You were just coming out of the haze of eight beautiful, but fully draining years of pregnancies, nursing, night wakings, and toddler tantrums.  Seven and a half straight years of diapers.  You were just enjoying being stroller-free. You’ve just run three back-to-back marathons and somehow you are now staring at the starting line again.

10.   You begin telling family and closest friends.  You look like a deer in the headlights every time. 

11.   Your heart breaks in two when you have to tell dear ones who are trying, longing for a little one of their own.  You wish your fertility was something you could have gifted to them. 

12. You don’t want the world knowing this pregnancy was such a shock, because you fear your baby will grow up feeling like their life was unwanted.  But you don’t own a poker face.  There’s no concealing the shock.

13. You have never in your entire life been this EXHAUSTED before.  You have a newfound compassion for people with chronic fatigue. 

14. You stop all your other reading, because your brain just wants comfort. So you read the entire series of Anne of Green Gables, because Anne Shirley is laughter and a warm blanket for the soul.

15. You cry when Anne says goodbye to Marilla and Matthew before going off to college.  Then you sob when Matthew goes out to the barn and says, “She's been a blessing to us, and there never was a luckier mistake than what Mrs. Spencer made--if it WAS luck.  I don't believe it was any such thing.  It was Providence, because the Almighty saw we needed her, I reckon."  

16. You know one day you will feel exactly this about your child.          

17.   You plan to keep it a secret from the kids until 14 weeks, but by 12 weeks, your worn-out mama abs are hiding it no longer.  You wear yoga pants and a tank top around the house, and your six-year-old looks at you quizzically and says, “It kinda looks like there’s a baby in there.”  Your eight-year-old rolls her eyes, and says, “Mom and Dad are done having babies.”   

18.   You tell them the news a few days later.  They are equal parts surprised and excited.  Then they end the announcement video with, “Mom, there’s a bug on your foot.” 

19.   You wonder why the first trimester never ends. 

20. You approach the gender ultrasound feeling more nervous than any ultrasound before.  You feel like this child is meant to be a girl.  If you’re honest, in the recesses of your heart, you always wanted another girl, a fourth child, two boys, two girls, but you were never willing to take the plunge.  So the plunge was made for you. 

21. But what if you’re wrong?  Of course you’ll love a boy, but there will be that undeniable sense of loss for the daughter you thought would be. 

22. And the longer you’ve been a mom, the more friends you’ve journeyed with. You know now that pregnancy is wrought with far more complications and risks than you ever feared as a young first-time mom.  Would this ultrasound bring news that could affect the rest of your life?       

23. You lie back, holding your husband’s hand in the dark, big screen glowing above you.  Warm jelly oozes on your belly.  The wand rolls up and down.  Images appear.  There’s your child.  Click, click.  The heart of your child measured in numbers.

24. The image flashes between the legs.  You hold your breath, eyes squinting.  And then it appears on the screen: “GIRL.” 

25. “Really??” you choke out, barely a squeal.

26.  Tears.  Instant tears.    

27. You see her face, in 3-D her beautiful, delicate (albeit alien-like) face.  And you think your heart will burst.  A few more clicks confirm, a healthy little girl is indeed surprising her way into this world.     

 8. You float out of the office and go buy pink confetti poppers to tell the kids. 

29. When the first popper blows, big sister jumps up and down, her dream come true, her prayer for a sister answered.    

30. But the youngest, he has a royal meltdown.  Apparently, he really wanted a boy. When he finally calms down, he realizes the downer he’s been on this special family moment.  He grabs an unpopped popper, and says, “Does this say ‘re-do’?”  Yes, yes it does.

31. So you do the poppers all over again, and now the new big brother won’t stop planting kisses on your belly.


32. He’s nicknamed the baby “Pickles,” which may or may not be related to the ridiculous amount of pickles you’ve consumed this pregnancy.  The nickname sticks. 

33. You pack up your home and move and road trip for two weeks, and think you literally won’t make it through a day if you don’t get your survival nap in.

34. You wonder why it already feels and looks like there’s a bowling ball in your pelvis when the baby only weighs one pound.  You want to see your chiropractor daily.

35. You have to say “no” to multiple make-your-heart-flutter kind of opportunities for travel and ministry, because… baby is due. 

36. You don’t know how you are going to keep up with leading a growing ministry, while doing big kids and life and home and… a baby.

37. When you think about the sleepless nights ahead, of feeding every two hours, of diaper blowouts and constant toddler surveillance, and potty training, you want to cry because you have to do it all. over. again.

38. You’re too old for this.  This is the worst timing with all the uncertainty that's going on in your life right now.  You were done having babies.  You should have made 100% sure of that.      

39. But then… then you think of a warm, wet baby placed on your chest, of her baby soft skin and rolly polly thighs, of tiny dresses and first steps, of sibling snuggles and baby giggles and diaper dances, and you’re crying because you get to do the wonder of this all over again. 

40. You know you will be the mother bawling at high school graduation because, my word, it went so quickly. Just look!  Look at who my baby girl has become.  As she walks across the stage, you’ll be back in that moment in the bathroom all those years ago… when you got the very best surprise of your life.                

Monday, August 15, 2016

Announcing Our Change of Plans

“So when are you guys leaving? It’s mid-August… Shouldn’t you be gone by now?”

Yeah, about that… Let me try to put into words the crazy journey we’ve been on these last few months. 

You may remember that our plan was to move to Thailand this summer.  Notice the word “was.”  

We were so sure, so confident that this was God’s leading for us.  It felt “meant to be.”  All of the pieces just fit.  That is, until they didn’t.  Until one by one all of the pieces began unraveling.  

Family and close friends journeyed with us through weeks of confusion.  They prayed with us while we wondered, “God, what in the world is happening?”

When you feel so sure of something, when you’ve dreamed about it, and done hours of paperwork for it, when you’ve told literally everyone you know that this is what you’re doing, it’s a painful process when that plan starts coming apart.    

I remember the moment I knew.  The moment I realized this dream of ours was probably not going to happen.  I went to my room alone, and closed the door.  In an all-out honest moment with God, I prayed through tears and said, “I feel like I’m losing this dream!  This dream that YOU gave us.” 

There are very few times in my life where I feel like God has given me a specific “word” from him.  But in that moment, that Holy Spirit sense gave me this question:  

Will you let me prune your dreams?             


Will you let me prune your dreams?    

To prune – to cut away at good branches so that more life, more fruit will come?  

But God, the cutting away, it hurts!      

Do you trust me?

Do I?  Do I know him to be anything other than a Good Gardener?  Do I truly trust that he will be that for me?  For my family?

That was my moment of surrender.  That was the beginning of letting go of our Thailand dream, (for this year anyway).

It’s funny.  All during this unraveling time, there were amazing doors opening.  Again and again we were shown the needs and the opportunity that were right in front of us.  Both Aaron and I felt incredibly blessed in our ministries this past year.  Aaron continued our work in Asia by serving and training teachers in his director position for our organization, and he taught at the local Bible college.  I continued to lead Velvet Ashes, which is flourishing in large part due to connections God has provided here in the States.  

Our kids are thriving here.  Our whole family feels a sense of belonging and community here thanks to precious friends who have said, “We don’t care how long you’re here, we’re going to do life with you.”  I get a big thankful lump in my throat when I think about it.  

Aaron and I both love pouring into the college students here, and when those students first started asking us if there was anyway we’d stay, we said, “Sorry, we’ve got this PLAN.”  

But when that plan didn’t come together, when we surrendered it to Him and stopped trying to force it to happen, we realized we were already exactly where we needed to be for right now.


Then came the big shocker.  A positive pregnancy test.  WHAAAAT???  

As our daughter said when we told her the news, "But I thought you were done having babies!"  Yeah, so did we.  But apparently we’re not done yet.  Clearly, God wants to gift us with another child.  The fourth little Wheeler will be arriving in December.  (You can read more about that whole story over here).  

Suddenly it became even more clear we need to stay put for the coming year.  So that is the plan.  In ways we never expected, God is pruning our dreams, bringing new life and fruit through it all.


Wait a minute, that’s a nice story and all, but what about the practical side?  Family of five with a baby on the way… We kind of need a place to live.  We had to move out of the campus house we were in.  But then what?  Rent?  But we don’t own any furniture. We have a $12 lamp. That’s it. We quickly learned that furnished rentals are not a thing in this area.

I’ll spare you the details of all the twists and turns, and just say that after weeks of one housing possibility after another not working out, God connected us to a family who is going overseas for a year and needs someone to housesit their house for them. 

Yeah, pretty amazing.

I haven’t been able to articulate these last few months until now.  I wanted to share, to take you along on this ride, but so much of it has been complex and deeply personal.  And I needed to be more concerned with living the story than with sharing it.  But I believe more than ever in the power of sharing your story, and I have a sense that I’ll be writing out the layers of this season for a long time.  

There are still questions about what comes after this next year.  We’ll let you know when we know.   Honestly, there are days when it's really hard, when we want plans and permanence, but it's pretty clear that's not our story right now.  Instead God is simply asking for daily steps of surrender, trusting in the hands and purposes of the Good Gardener.        

Thanks for all your love and prayers along the way.             

What have been your "Do you trust me?" moments?