I promise to sacrifice my comforts for your safety.
I promise to protect you.
I promise to cover you with prayers and love.
I promise to do whatever I can to assure you that the love I have for you is real. That may not always be comfortable for either of us, because the honesty inherent in true love demands some payment in pain, but…
I promise to create an atmosphere of acceptance in our home that makes the ugly truths easier to hear.
I promise not to be perfect. It would be a lie to admit anything else, and I love you too much to lie to you. Since I know I can’t be perfect…
I promise to be humble before you and God, so when those inevitable failings disrupt our relationship, or if I should break any of these promises I’m making, I will never be too proud to admit to you that you were right, that I am sorry.
I promise to say I am sorry.
I promise to let you find your wings, to explore, to question and even rebel if you need to, so that when the day comes and you leave my protection to walk your path alone, you will understand who you are and why God gave you life.
I promise that no matter where your path takes you, there will always be a home for you in my arms.
Welcome to our family, my little darling.
Eliana Grace Svendsen, born at 2:25 pm on August 8, 2017.
7 lbs 10 oz, 19 3/4 inches
On the whole, I’m still not in love with this pregnancy thing. I have fatigue issues, mood swings, and a weird stress induced on and off again appetite. Though oddly enough, I have this wacky feeling I had all of those issues BEFORE I got pregnant. *tilts head and squints thoughtfully*
On the positive side, she’s a healthy little monster, if her constant kicks and squiggles are any indicator. Timothy and I call her Squirmy Wormy. I love her so much it makes my whole heart ache.
After losing Little Baby number one, it was initially difficult to let myself love her the way I wanted to. At times I just would try not to think about her. I was afraid to hope that she’d stay. I was afraid to repeat what happened before, that my still childless arms would just forever dream of holding my baby. I would choke up with every attempt to sing her a lullaby, scared that I’d mar another song in my memory, so that every time it plays all I can think of is the little angel forever out of my reach.
This lessened after our 9 week ultrasound. After I saw Little Baby dancing on the screen, I let my heart go, but slowly, like a kite testing the currents in the wind. Once it caught the updraft, I began to soar and tears became part of the flight, along with a daily prayer of God please let me keep this one.
“I love her so much,” I say to Tim.
“I know you do. I do too.”
“Do you ever feel like there’s no more room? Like, I’m afraid when I see her, that I’ll just shatter.”
“You won’t,” he says. “You’ll just get bigger.”
On the days when the fear is bigger than the hope, I’ll hold onto Tim and cry.
“You really believe we’ll meet her,” I ask.
“Yes, I do.”
“How can you be sure though? Weren’t you sure with our first one? God took him anyway.”
He said, “I don’t doubt the sun will rise every morning. It’s the natural order of things. It’s the natural order for her to come out and meet us. That’s what I believe will happen.”
So I sing to her. Every day, at least one song. I try to wait until I feel her moving, hoping that she’s awake to hear. Sometimes she rolls to the sound, like she’s dancing along. Other times, she goes still, and I’ll wonder if she’s asleep. But as soon as I stop she’ll give me a few good thumps. Applause? Or maybe she’s learned that the music starts up again once she moves.
I like to think she likes listening to me sing. I like to think she’ll remember the sound in August when they finally lay her against my skin and I sing to her softly. I like to think she’ll stop crying, that she’ll know the sound of my heartbeat, and in that moment she’ll understand what I mean when I say, “I love you, Peanut.”
While my pregnancy was a planned pregnancy, it was still a shock to me. I just figured it wouldn’t happen when it did, and while it’s still overwhelming at times, it’s become just another one of those times in my life where I can see how perfect God’s plans are when we submit to his will.
First: My Crazy First Trimester
I mean, I was sick for my first pregnancy, but all these people kept saying to me that what I was feeling “wasn’t normal.” Since they never specified what part of it was so abnormal, I guess I just assumed that a heathy baby would be less horrible to carry. As wrong as I was, the miracle of it all was the impeccable timing of my bedridden stage. My morning sickness began the week of finals, but most of my finals were papers I’d already drafted and merely needed to hand in. After that I had the entirety of winter break to do nothing but rest and vomit.
Second: Returning to school
The oncoming spring semester was looming in the background like the malevolent flaming eye of Sauron. Every day that I spent laying in bed, incapable of anything more than watching Shawn the Sheep, the soft voice of anxiety whispered, “And how do you think you’re going to manage that?”
My early religious education emphasized the idea that once you’re a wife or mother the Bible allows for you to be nothing else. I’ve come to believe this as not accurate Biblical teaching, but I wrestled with what I was supposed to do next. Was God trying to tell me through illness that being a wife and mother was all he wanted from me?
No longer wishing to blindly follow the teaching from my youth, I prayed that God would make it clear what he wanted from me: finish my degree or quit for the baby. Maybe he’d let me finish my degree later, who knew? Only Him, and I just needed to know clearly what step to take next, one semester at a time.
There were so many times when I was leaning over the toilet bowl with Tim rubbing my back when I’d gasp out the words, “I think I should drop all my classes.” Tim, ever patient, ever wise, always said, “Just wait and see. There’s still time. Just wait.”
I waited. I saw. God provided me just the right amount of miraculous strength I needed to get to every class. Even the week before my first day I was too sick to go, but despite the fact I was still throwing up to and from school, and napping on a foam mattress between my classes, I have remained on my 15 credit class schedule.
And Tim? Well, who could expect him to be anything but my guardian angel. He walked me to all my classes, carried my books, and for several weeks sat right outside the door to my class in case I needed any help, even though it made his butt fall asleep. Speaking of blessings from God, let’s not forget the man I wake up next to every morning. Him. Always. ❤
Third: The Due Date
The baby is due August 18, 2017. Even if I go late, I will still give birth this summer, before classes can start for next semester.
Fourth: Online Classes
One night, just out of curiosity, I looked over my degree evaluation at WPU to see what else I needed to graduate on time. The idea of returning to school with a two week old infant in tow is daunting, even if your husband doesn’t mind looking after him while you’re in class. I worried if it would even be healthy for the little one.
As I looked through what I needed to graduate, I saw a lot of online courses being offered. I grabbed a notepad and began to jot down courses. Soon, I had over 7 online course options I could take in the fall, all of which were perfect for keeping me on track to graduate Spring of 2018. I now fully believe that God will allow me to take most if not all of my courses online for my first semester after giving birth. My heart nearly burst with thanksgiving for this.
Fifth: Our Living Situation
I’ve never really been in close contact to infants before, except for bits of exposure during my time working the nursery at church. Basically, I’m terrified, and given my penchant for panic attacks and overreacting due to my struggle with anxiety disorder, I know that I’ll be as neurotic as any three new mothers locked in a dark tight space for 48 hours.
First on the emergency contact list will (of course) be my dear husband, eldest of 7 and widely recognized “baby hog.” His relatives know that when they bring their little one into the room, my husband will make puppy eyes at whomever is holding the baby until somebody lets him settle down with the little one so he can snuggle and play with it.
But if even he should fail to calm me and the infant (both of us probably screaming), we will still be living with his mother, grandmother of my child and veteran parent of 7 children. Honestly, watching my husband’s parents raise the two little ones at home (6yrs and 10yrs) has grown me tremendously. Their grace and patience is something I pray I’ll have in my parenting, and it is truly a privilege to watch. If I could be half the mother Mrs. Svendsen is, my children will never suffer for love and acceptance, the two things I found most lacking in my own childhood.
I will have one full year under her roof, blessed by her wisdom and tutelage before my husband and I pack up and move across the country for him to complete his seminary training.
There is too much perfection in all the timing of this baby for me not to step back, look up and say, “Thank you Lord. Thank you so much.” ❤
Some people get cranky when they’re tired. Some when they’re stressed. Some when they’re hungry or sick or when they’ve been cooped up inside from a snowstorm.
Me? I get cranky for all of the above reasons, but this particular night was the second day in a row that I was cranky from studying for my French quiz. Jon saw me come in favoring my tender, twisted ankle after a literal run in with the six year old.
“Aww,” he said. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
I snarled a groan at him and waved him away, “Just leave it, okay?” And that was just the beginning. I took everything else he said completely out of context and chewed him up to the best of my ability before throwing myself on my bed and sobbing into my blankets like a Disney princess with PMS.
I felt like…well, a jerk I guess. I’d like to use stronger language, but I try to keep it clean around here as best I can. I fell asleep hating myself, thinking about how, even if he had meant his words the way I’d taken them, I was still being unfair. He’s tired too and working so hard. I should at least be giving him as much grace as I’d want for myself.
First thing I woke up, I sent him a text: “I’m sorry I’m a jerk sometimes.”
I saw him around the house but couldn’t make eye contact with him. I was too afraid that he’d still be upset at me for being so horrible the night before. On my way out the door, he called my name and came up to me with his arms wide open.
“I got your text,” he said, as his arms closed around me.
“I love you Jonny.”
“I love you too.” He pulled back a little and looked at me with his head cocked slightly to the side. “But seriously, I don’t remember you being a jerk.”
Every. Single. Time.
This bizarre treatment isn’t just specific to my brother-in-law. No. It started with my husband. Even when I know he knows I’ve done something to hurt him, even at the times I’ve brought tears to his eyes, he just says, “It’s okay. I forgive you,” and it’s done. It never comes up again. There’s no wall, no hate, no slamming doors or days of silent treatment and shunning.
His parents are the same. I can openly disagree with them. I can do something they don’t like. I can be a snarky, nasty, easily annoyed female dog for days and they still just…
This version of love is new to me. When I first found it in my husband, I just assumed it was so wild and beautiful because this was the way true romantic love was when you’ve finally found THE ONE. I never dreamed that I would find it in others. Yet here I am, living in a home where everyone just loves me. Not the nice me that nobody would have trouble loving, but the real me, the one with all the dirty broken bits.
It’s beyond my understanding, this concept of a love that does not have to be earned; that’s reaffirmed daily by action and word. Growing up, love was something I had to fight to gain. When I didn’t keep my behavior, thoughts, and attitudes properly in order, I was tossed aside until I got it right. I spent so much time groveling, hoping that if I just said enough right things or did enough right things or buried enough of the parts of me people didn’t like or understand, that I would finally receive the love I wanted so desperately.
Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that people who put that many conditions on love, are not worth the time spent in trying to gain their affections. So, I stopped trying. I thought this decision would mean the end of family for me, that I’d only have one again when Timothy and I had children and a home of our own.
But here are these people, these beautiful people, that I have no blood relationship to, that have no reason to want me around, who live with me day after day after day and see what a hot mess I am and yet CHOOSE to love me. It’s as though they made a decision to love me the first time their son brought me through the door. They didn’t even know me then, and they loved me. They know me now and love me just as much. And they give and give and give and want nothing back. And I’m just wrecked by it, in a good way, because I can’t wrap my head around the idea that the love I’ve always wanted, my whole entire life, the love I begged and wept for my whole childhood, the home I need now more than ever, was waiting for me in the arms of a family that I didn’t even know existed until eight years ago.
I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever understand it. I know I’ll never deserve it. But please, you guys, please don’t ever stop. ❤
There we are! Aren’t we cute. I’m the grey one by the way. The one looking morbidly at the dirt I’m sitting in. The bright orange fellow mid bounce would be my husband.
We have a perfect marriage. We’re alike in all the things and dissimilar in everything else. It’s a crazy balancing act that must have originated in heaven, because it’s effortless. We almost never argue, often laugh, and always adore each other. It’s been that way for as long as we’ve known one another, so don’t rain on my parade with all that “honeymoon stage” bologna. It’s been eight years. I think it’s safe to say “for keeps” at this juncture.
But still, sometimes how crazily different we are makes me snort derisively.
I’m a determined pessimist. My husband is a dedicated optimist. I think my way is better. I tried to explain it to him. I said, “Look, if I always expect the worst, I’m more likely to be pleasantly surprised.” He doesn’t seem to see my logic so instead he bounces around me, laughing while he showers me with rose petals and glitter.
Sometimes he annoys me when he pounces me from behind with all his talk of sunshine and butterflies. I worry that he’s not being realistic, because there COULD be an earthquake, and thusly a little preparation is in order. But really, life would get pretty gloomy without his constant rays of sunshine. He brings laughter to my gloomy spot, and encourages me when I feel like there’s no point in moving forward.
The Essence of romance is Uncertainty.” ~ Oscar Wilde
We were driving on the highway to Ikea. It snowed during the night, just enough to dust the brown landscape of winter with a layer of pure white. Timothy and I oooed and ahhed over it all the way to the store. While we shopped, I kept gazing out the windows to the trees below and moaning with delight.
“I wish it didn’t cost so much to park in the city,” I said. “Because I bet Central Park is beautiful.”
Tim nodded. “Yeah, it’s a shame.”
Before we checked out, we grabbed lunch at the Ikea cafeteria. I was nibbling at my chicken fingers (No, I didn’t get the meatballs. Yes, I know that’s sacrilege.) when I noticed my husband was playing on his phone. It irks me when we’re out together and he piddles our alone time on twitter. I cleared my throat. “Buppy?” He looked up. “Whacha doin’?”
He smiled. “I found us parking in the city for only $9.”
Thus with a narrowly avoided scolding, my husband bequeathed me a $9 date which is now climbing the hit chart of Svendsen date history. We left Ikea and parked in the city a little after noon. The morning was overcast with thick clouds, but the sun chased behind us. We stepped into Central Park just in time for the snow to still be sleeping lazily on the branches. As we walked, clods of ice plopped from the branches and beaned us on the head. We laughed at each other as the water dripped down our faces into our eyes. We held hands, took pictures, and loved on New York City.
He’s adorable, my husband, but not very spontaneous. Neither of us are really, but every now and again he’ll turn flip the switch and do something I absolutely don’t expect. It was a perfect date. The high point of which was when we reached a pond, where I grabbed onto the railing to look out over the sunlight reflecting in the water and the buildings beyond it reaching into the blue sky. I felt him behind me, slowly shuffling round to the front. When I turned and saw him taking pictures of me I made a face at him.
“What?” he said. “You see beautiful things and you take pictures. I see beautiful things and I take pictures.”
My husband and I had very different ideas about what song we would use for our first dance. We both had songs that made us think of each other, but none of them were the same. We went back and forth for a while, until I struck a new idea.
We met at Raritan Valley Community College where we were both studying music. In those days, I was an aspiring singer who hated publicly performing. So as much as I wanted to sing to my husband on our wedding day, I didn’t want to sing to him on our wedding day. Each performance I did was already a near death experience, but on my wedding day I knew I would be a sobbing mess of blubbering panic attacks. It was also likely they would record this disaster, making the idea that much more abhorrent.
So I asked Timothy if we could record a duet together and use that song as our first dance. He loved the idea. We chose, “I See the Light,” from Disney’s Tangled. We rehearsed it with my vocal coach, and recorded it in a small studio in town. I wanted to make a slideshow to go with it, hoping that people would look at it instead of us dancing, but planning the wedding was too overwhelming so I dropped the idea.
Today, we will be married 3 years. I made my slideshow.