So These Are the Things Keeping. Me. Up. At. Night. (Read on for grammatical analysis of the title.)

I am pregnant.  This means that I am hormonal, sometimes easily bothered, and rather cranky at times.  This also means that I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep because God is preparing me for staying up at night with a newborn.  Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t that just incredible that He does that?  I am so thankful!  (That was dripping with sarcasm, even though it is actually amazing and incredible.)

I am combining these two traits of pregnancy–irritatedness (not a word, I know) and insomniaticalism (also not a word) to bring you this list of things that are under my skin at 1:29 A.M. and are somehow preventing me from going to sleep, even though my body desperately needs rest.

1.  All this talk about Jameis Winston.  (Disclaimer:  I am an Auburn fan but grew up a Seminole and they are still my #2 team.)  Yes, I realize I am adding to “all this talk” by bringing this up, but I am awake during the middle of the night.  Let’s not squabble over the details. Okay, first of all, I detest what the guy said.  I think it was a horrendous statement to shout from the top of a table to other college kids, especially considering the very serious dropped charges that are still under investigation by FSU.  When you are arguably the best quarterback in the country and you have won the Heisman, you need to step up and represent.  However, it’s time to shift the conversation to one of growth.  This guy is not the only football player who has said disgusting, disrespectful things about women.  Google it.  It’s pretty common.  And it is certainly not a problem only relegated to athletes.  The topic of conversation should not be a 20-year-old who yelled something he had heard on the internet but instead how these phrases become a part of people’s vocabularies to begin with.  I won’t apologize for being a feminist on this point: Women are not objects.  You expose your complete lack of class when you use the b-word or the p-word in a phrase that slips off your tongue as easily as phrases like “thank you” and “you’re welcome” do for those who possess a sense of dignity.  Let’s talk about the music, the movies, and the home lives that contribute to a culture of degradation for women.  Let’s mothers talk about living a life that causes your son to rise up and call you blessed.  I know I could be encouraged to do a better job at that.

2.  Moving away from football and ESPN-related topics (whew, so uncomfortable in that zone) and onto topics of much greater importance in my life, let’s discuss NPR correspondents who begin their sentences with the word “so.”  You are an NPR correspondent or a guest on a nationally-acclaimed news show.  Please, do not begin your sentence with a conjunction if you are not conjoining anything. I only took one journalism class and recognize that I am not an expert, but this seems so unprofessional.  Yes, I do sometimes succumb to this cultural phenomenon in my blog and in my conversation, but I am not being paid money to sound educated and informative.  So just stop it!  (Ha, did you catch that use of so?  I’ve done it twice in this post so far.)

3.  While we are on the topic of grammar, I will share that it also bothers me when people. overuse. the. concept. of. putting. a. period. after. every. word.  I think this began with the Best. Day. Ever. phrase.  It’s effective, kind of cool, a neat writing tool to use occasionally.  However, when overused it just makes me feel. like. I. am. tripping. over. words.  Please, do not use it in conversation or a term paper.  Just don’t.  (Yes, I used this irritating tactic in the title of this article. I am a hypocrite.)

4.  Let’s stay with grammar for one more item.  I had written “Reaganomics were” in my previous post.  This has bothered me immensely.  I had originally written “The Reagan years were” and then changed it to “Reaganomics” and didn’t catch that I needed to change the verb to was since I had changed my word choice from the plural years to the singular Reaganomics.  I noticed this as I was reading my post on my phone, but I can only edit the blog from the laptop, which I rarely use.  Several times over the past few weeks, while I have tried to will myself to sleep, this has popped in my mind and I have considered getting up, turning on the laptop, and editing my post.  Some people are kept awake thinking about how they need to go mop the floor, clean the toilet, or marinate the meat. (Hopefully not at the same time!  Yuck!)  I am kept awake thinking about how I need to clean up my writing or how I could have better word choice.  Finally, I succumbed. This edit is, essentially, what pulled me out of the bed tonight (or this morning?) and led to this rant about things that have been going through my mind.  It is now corrected.  Maybe this will cure the insomnia.  One can hope.

5. Wow, I am really stuck on grammar.  Every time I reread and edit what I write, I feel the presence of a college professor or two standing over my shoulder, shaking his and/or her heads (head?) at some of my sentences.  I dearly appreciate and value the structure of the English language.  I still have words that I misspell (the prior one is an example that sometimes trips me up), grammar issues that are sticky for me (meaning I know something is wrong but I can’t put my finger on it), infinitives that seem destined to be split, and I use downright Southern phrases which I’m not willing to altogether give up, especially in the presence of family (y’all, occasionally adding at behind a directional question, etc.). All in all, though, I respect the boundaries set before me when writing a scholarly paper or even a cover letter to a resume.  In my informal, conversational writing, however, I take liberties.  I end sentences with prepositions. (Really, sometimes “in which” inserted into the middle of the sentence just sounds wordy.)  I overuse parentheses (examples may be seen throughout this post).  I begin sentences with conjunctions (but I will not do so if ever asked to deliver the news on NPR).  I sometimes use run-on sentences or sentence fragments to make a point.  These are the things I do to honor the English language and to make my words my own.  I hope if you are nit-picky (as all English majors and editors are, myself included), you will relax just a bit and enjoy the unique ways writers bend our language, reshaping it at times, in an effort to express thoughts that just can’t always be best expressed inside of the grammar box.

6. I rented Mom’s Night Out two nights ago, and I haven’t even been able to find the time to watch a movie about a night out, much less have a night out.  Abby watched it and said it was funny.  Well, that’s something.  (Meanwhile, my redbox bill is now up to over four bucks and I’ve only seen snippets of the movie.)

7.  (If you are still reading, I’m impressed.  This post is nothing if not narcissistic.) Continuing on, it seems that if you have a list, there should be 10 items.  That probably comes from years of staying up too late and watching David Letterman as a teenager. (I was a teenager, not Letterman.)  Okay, number 7.  Hmm . . . I got nothing.  (See there?  I realize it should be I have nothing, but that just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?)

I am so sorry to those of you who are reading this to get an update on our sweet baby.  You had to, at least, skim all of that other stuff first.  Please forgive my verbose exercise in emptying the contents of my brain.  I do hope I can go to sleep now!

Here’s an update on our little one.  (It only seems fair, since you had to muddle through those above musings.)  I am 12 weeks, 6 days.  We saw our sweet, active baby kicking, punching, rubbing his or her face, and waving at us yesterday on an ultrasound.  The baby looks great, and I am doing my best to focus on the fact that our baby is healthy and whole at this juncture.  I’m pretty sure I felt him or her move tonight when I reached down to pick something up, thereby constricting its playground.  We will return to the high risk doctor again in a few weeks.  That’s our scary appointment.  We will either come away relieved or absolutely devastated.  I just can’t allow myself to go there in my brain tonight, though.  I’ve just emptied it.  It needs to stay empty so that I can get more sleep before the alarm goes off and I start a new day with the husband and two kids who bring me more joy than football, grammar, and top 10 lists combined!

We appreciate your prayers and we thank you for joining us on this journey!  Good night!  (Or Good Morning?)

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning. It’s a Very Good Place to Start.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

I have been blessed beyond measure. Guess who was raised in a loving home with two parents committed to each other, even when friendship didn’t come easily and finances were tight? (Reaganomics was awesome if you already had money, not so grand if you didn’t.) Guess whose Mama taught her about being a lady, getting her hands (a little) dirty, the joy of reading books and writing stories, the importance of family, and that there was no one anywhere who could stop her from doing anything she wanted to do? (Let’s just say self-esteem was never an issue.) Guess whose Daddy could give you chill bumps when he sang, could pick any instrument he was handed, visited the sick, worked hard, hard, hard, and never let his grass get above two inches? (Pretty sure I’ve let him down on the whole lawncare front.)

Guess who had an older brother who had a temper but used it to protect his sister and built her up as if she were something special, making her feel that she really was a little too good to just give away what the good Lord told her to keep? (All this occurred after the fightin’ years, of course.) Guess who had a baby brother who was easy to get along with, good natured, and kept us laughing with jokes he made up and quotes from Karate Kid? (He even designed mini-amusement parks in his room and only charged a small fee.)

Guess who had grandparents two miles north and four miles west, complete with open doors, great stories, and lots of yummy food? (Not to mention all the aunts, uncles, and cousins dotting the horizon in between and scattered a bit beyond.) Guess who always had a warm bed, plenty of food, and new back-to-school clothes and shoes each year? (And those clothes grew even more stylish when I added in summertime babysitting money to get the name brands. Remember Esprit? Guess? Bongo?)

Guess who was lucky enough to stay away from the troublemakers (Dear God, thank you, thank you, thank you) and wind up with a smart, godly young man who loved the woods, hard work, and a young lady in Berrydale who never thought she’d be so lucky? (Didn’t we have fun when there were no real obligations and life stretched out before us?) Guess who still has that man loving her almost 19 years later, still encouraging her to be the woman God has called her to be? (I’m hoping for at least 50 more.)

Guess who has two beautiful children who love each other, love God, and make her proud every day? (Even if there are sometimes helter-skelter fights that make my eyes cross and steam come out of my ears.) Guess who has a baby girl in heaven, reminding her that this life goes on and must do so but that when it ends, there is another life that is greater and better and even more worthy of our attention than the world we find ourselves in today? (Even if I miss her and long for her like a crazy woman sometimes.)

This girl. This daughter. This sister. This wife. This Mama. If everything in my entire life was negative from this moment on, I cannot see a way in which the balances of time would not solidly fall to the side of “Pretty Amazing and Blessed Life.”

So imagine my surprise when a month ago, I learned that we had yet another blessing already growing inside me. For those of you who don’t know, we are expecting again. We are ten weeks along, my belly is swelling, my nausea is ever-present, and we are praying without ceasing.

We have prayed for two years that God would bless us with another child, if it was His will. We have asked that He would not give us a child if it would mean we would have to live through losing one again. As thankful as I am that we had our Anna Grace, I do not want to repeat that experience.  I am asking if you are reading this post, please stop for just a moment and pray for our baby and for our pregnancy. It would mean so much to our family.

Joey and I had given up and were content with having two children. Adoption had been discussed at times. We were waiting and praying. We weren’t doing it all perfectly, but we had come to a point at which we were thankful and happy with life as it was. I was planning a trip to Disney World for my 9 and 6 year old, thinking how life had gotten downright easy. I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, with only two children, we might be able to afford to send the kids to Auburn one day. I was thinking that when the kids started school, I would have time do some freelance writing and maybe even work on that elusive book. Perhaps I would consider going back to teaching, a career I loved.

We let the dreams of our family go; we handed it over to the One who had it all along. I was convinced that God did not plan for us to have a child. And while we weren’t exactly okay with it, we accepted it and tried to see the positives.

Mama and every other living person who has carried children and has opinions had told us that when we stopped trying, it would happen. But what did these people know? I mean, there are basal thermometers and apps out there that scream otherwise! These silly, old-fashioned people. Well, I am now eating humble pie. And since I’m pregnant, I’ll have a second slice.

The month we gave up, He gave us the desire of our heart. One more.

Abby told me, just the other day, that she is afraid that something will be wrong with this baby.  I told her that I worried about that, too, but that if we miscarried or if the baby was not healthy, we would get through it together, just like we did last time.  God would help us and we would be okay. That seemed good enough for her. That and a big, long hug. Josiah is very protective, encouraging me to lie down and rest, eat a snack, be careful. He also talks to my belly already, telling his brother or sister how he loves him or her.

We are celebrating this tiny, kumquat-sized life inside of me today. We are praying the pregnancy goes well, that it lasts, that the baby grows strong with healthy kidneys and lungs.  We are praying for each organ, each sense, each finger and toe. We are praying these things, knowing we have prayed these things before and still lost a child. But we are praying, believing that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. And I am praying, knowing that whatever may come, I am still blessed.  My life is a beautiful one, and I am thankful for each day we all get to spend together.