This is a post that has been rumbling around in my heart since the middle of February.  I started writing my February pregnancy posts with the intention of leading up to this post, then the March Challenge took over my blog, and since then I've been too sick to type.  However, if you'll bear with me, hopefully I'll come up with a few words that adequately communicate what is in my heart.  We'll see.

It all started in early September when I thought I had the flu.  I didn't.  I just had the world's worst pregnancy.  (Why yes, I do tend to exaggerate.  Why do you ask?)  After five months of vomiting (seriously, how many times can I fit that word into my blog posts lately, I wonder?) and general nausea and passing out and extreme weakness, along with all the crazy emotions I described working through in my February posts, all I wanted was to be able to enjoy being pregnant. 

One Sunday in February, I forced myself to get ready for church, knowing that it probably wasn't the smartest move on my part.  I mean, no one enjoys sitting in church wondering if the person behind them is going to upchuck into their hair.  But lying around the house wishing you were dead gets old after a while, and I needed to see the outside world.  So I stumbled around, shakily getting dressed.  Of course, the moment we were all ready to walk out, I began throwing up.  Daddy and the girls rushed to the car to avoid all the lovely noises, and I stood in the bathroom vomiting into the sink while feeling hot urine trickle down my right leg.  TMI?

While I stood there experiencing heave after heave after heave and fresh bursts of warm liquid on my leg each time, I became very angry.  Not just a little annoyed.  Not just mad.  Big Hot Anger.  You know, I had spent the last several months surrendering and making peace with all the living and dying my babies had been doing around me, and I was finally ready to fully embrace being pregnant and enjoy it to its fullest extent.  And here I was, five months into it with still nothing enjoyable about it. 

I stood there in the aftermath, shaking, wiping my mouth, legs spread wide over the damp bathroom rug and crying loud angry tears.  "God!  I'm finally happy about this pregnancy.  So why can't I just enjoy this good thing You have done for me?!"  I would have yelled if I'd had the energy.

Jeremy came in from the car while I leaned unsteadily against the shower wall, steaming water mixing with my tears and washing my skin.  "Are you okay?" he asked carefully. 

"No," I barely uttered, my throat hoarse from choking sobs.  "You guys should go to church without me."  They were already going to be late.

He silently picked up the pretty clothes that I had been wearing fifteen minutes before which were now angrily discarded all over the bathroom floor.  He took them and the now soiled rug by the bathroom sink to the laundry room and started a fresh load of laundry.  Then he returned to the muggy bathroom and said, "We'll wait for you."

I didn't have the energy to respond.  I continued crying in the shower, pouring out my frustration to my God Who already knew, Who already felt it all, Who already held me in His arms and cried with me. 

By the time I was ready again and dressed in a new outfit, my family had completely missed the first hour of church which for us is Sunday School.  We'd be there in time for the main service, though.  I still felt shaky, and Jeremy tried to get me to eat something.  I'd learned my lesson though -- I wasn't about to reenact the bathroom scene from earlier that morning!  I dully got into the car, pasted a smile on my face for Liberty and Mercy's sake, and we all headed to church.

Our pastor, Clare, asked us to open our Bibles to Exodus chapters 32 and 33 where the Israelites chose to make and worship a calf made out of gold instead of God.  God, of course, was angry, and told them that He was still going to give them the promised land with all its wonderfulness and blessings, but He was sick of them and would no longer go with them to the wonderfulness.  They could still have all the good -- just without God.

Then Clare asked us to think of the one thing we wanted most in the whole world.  Well, at that moment, that was very easy for me -- I just wanted to enjoy this pregnancy.  No more sickness, no more emotional crazy, no more weakness.  Just fun, and happiness.  After all, I'd already worked through the emotional crazy, all I needed was for God to take away the physical pathetic-ness that I had no control over.  Next Clare asked, "Would you be willing to trade God's daily presence in your life for this thing that you desire?"  He paused while we thought that question over.  At least, I think he paused.  I know I didn't hear anything more that he said after that because my heart turned that question over and over and kept coming to the same conclusion:  Yes!  I would trade God's presence for some physical strength and joyfulness in this pregnancy.  I would let go of God, if He would just give me relief from this constant nausea, vomiting, passing out, weakness.  If He would just give me the energy to enjoy the gestation of this longed-for baby, I would part ways with Him. 

I don't know how long I pondered that, but eventually I started talking to God about it.  Would You? Please, God?  I just want to enjoy this pregnancy.  I really, really do.  I'm so happy about the baby now.  Finally!  I want to enjoy being pregnant like I did with Liberty and Mercy.  I'll let go of You if You'll do this for me.

What a bargaining tool, right?  Offering God something that would break His heart in exchange for a temporary happiness that would end up breaking my heart?  I suddenly realized how sad God would be to let me go.  Especially after He'd gone to such lengths to establish a relationship with me.  He left Heaven.  Lived life on earth as a lowly human.  Suffered rejection, humiliation, and torture.  Took my sins into His own absolutely perfect body.  Separated Himself from His own trinity and holy nature to pay for my sins with His death.  Fought Satan and the grave to rise again!  And now that I've chosen to trust Him to cover my sins, He's declared me clean and forgiven without me having anything to do with it!  And since I'm clean now, He in His holiness can hang out with me all the time.  He did all that, suffered all that, just to hang out with me because He likes me!

What a slap in the face, that I would be willing to write all that off as insignificant so that I can have a nausea-free pregnancy.

Then I started thinking about my end of that bargain.  I thought about how God had surrounded me in the shower that morning while I cried and prayed.  About how He had loved me and cried with me and just been there.  I thought about the emptiness I'd feel inside without Him in my life.  I thought about who in the world would I smile and joke with when no one else was around and who would I marvel with when I felt the baby kick in the middle of the night while everyone else was asleep?  Sure, I'd feel great, but I'd also be so alone.

Alone.

The barrenness of going through the rest of my life with wonderful people by my side -- Jeremy, Liberty, Mercy, my family and friends -- but without God in me and around me at all times, felt so empty and lonely.  How would that possibly be worth the trade?

Nevermind!  I told God while I sat there in the church service.  I changed my mind!  And He and I laughed together inside at my foolishness. 

But you know what?  Something amazing happened because of all that.  I never have gotten better physically -- I still vomit usually more than once a day and feel miserable the rest of the day.  I still pass out sporadically.  I still get frustrated when I have to change my clothes at the last minute because I've soiled my current outfit -- but my appreciation of God's presence has drastically increased.  A few weeks ago, I came back to consciousness on the cold tiles of my kitchen floor, and my first thought was a happy exclamation of our inside joke, But You're still with me!

On days when my energy level has dropped so low that I can barely speak above a whisper, and people ask me innocently, "How are you feeling today?"  Inside I'm laughing joyfully, God is WITH me!  Outside, I nod, try to smile, and figure out the shortest truth I can muster past my un-cooperating lips.  Which is usually a naming of the countdown day.  (Today I have 41 days left till the baby is born.)  But underneath it all, there is constant VICTORIOUS JOY! 

I've learned to enjoy this pregnancy whole-heartedly even while vomiting into the closest sink.  It's not really something I can adequately describe to you, but it is certainly concrete and amazing.  What a wonderful gift -- GOD IS WITH ME! 

And I once thought about bargaining Him away from me.  Silly me!
So.  We visited the hospital on Thursday.

That was not on my list of things to do in my spare time.

I started feeling strangely at work, and on my way home, I called my mommy and described the odd sensations in my uterus.  Cramping, contractions, a general feeling of desperately needing to have a bowel movement...and she said, "How far apart are the feelings?"

"Oh just off and on throughout the day.  More on than off recently, I guess."

"Uh-huh.  How far apart?"

So I started timing them.  "About six minutes."

"Call Jeremy and then call your doctor," she told me. 

But you know me.  I march to the beat of my own drum.  I called Jeremy and told him I may or may not be in labor.  "Don't rush home.  Just thought I'd let you know."

He told me to lie down once I got home.  Relax.  Breathe deeply.  Let the kids watch a movie or something.  He was going to finish things up at work and come home.

Two hours later, Jeremy still wasn't home.  The cramping/contractions were about three minutes apart.  And I'd been lying flat on my back the whole time.

I called Jeremy again.  He was driving home.  I called my friend Trina who told me to call my doctor.  My doctor's answering machine told me to go straight to the hospital if I thought I was in labor, and the hospital would let him know that I was there.  The trouble was, it didn't feel like labor.  At least, not like the labor I'd had with Liberty.  (Mercy was a scheduled C-section, so I never had labor with her.)  I wasn't sure what to do.  Trina called me back to see what was happening.  I filled her in, and she volunteered to watch Liberty and Mercy while I went to the hospital.  The only problem was, she was out of town for the next hour or longer.  I called my friend Michelle who lives two houses away.  She was also out of town, but would be back in about fifteen minutes which was perfect because the girls had time to pack their overnight bags, I had time to chat with them about the plan for the evening, and Jeremy had time to arrive home from work.

We told the girls that it MIGHT be time for the baby to be born, and we were going to go see the doctor so he could help.  If it was time, they would get to sleep over at Michelle's house, but if it wasn't time, the doctor would tell us to go back home, and they would come back home to sleep here.  Either way, it was a win for them because they would get to spend the evening playing with their friend Stephen who is Michelle's son.  They were so excited, and they rushed off to pack their overnight bags.

*Note to self: I need to get a special bag prepared for them in case this happens unexpectedly again.

Jeremy arrived.  Michelle arrived.  The kids left, and Jeremy, the baby and I got into the car.

It took several hours, but the nurse and doctor at the hospital determined that I was not in actual labor.  I was dehydrated to the point that my body was mimicking labor -- with real contractions and everything.  These were not Braxton Hicks.  They were the real thing.  The only difference was the labor hormone was not being secreted, so I was not dilating. 

So, my mission -- and I choose to accept it -- is not to vomit any more.  Thus ensuring that I do not dehydrate that badly again.  I'm on a strong prescription that seems to be helping.  And I'm drowning this poor baby in water. 

Seriously, if I never have to drink another glass of water again, I will be so happy.
You guys.  I have so many, many things to tell you about and posts writing themselves in my head, and I can't keep track of them all.  I've been so very sick that I haven't even been able to sit at the computer and think in a straight line.  Only seven weeks left!  And if I'm still sick after this baby girl is born...well, sometimes it feels like that might be possible.  Like the vomiting will never end.

Oh well.

On to more fun and interesting things.  What to tell you first?

Well, first, I HAVE to brag on my two girls.  Liberty and Mercy have been amazing little kids these past nine months.  I mentioned in this post about how they are on alert all the time for ways to serve me.  They've figured out that when my body suddenly goes very still and I have a certain look on my face they'd better run for a bucket.  I don't have to say a word.  One girl tells the other girl, "Hurry!  Mommy needs a bucket!"  And they both take off running.  Whoever gets to the cabinet first grabs the bucket and runs back with it.  Whoever is second grabs a cup and fills it with water and runs it back to me.  Then they both get out of the room so they can't hear the sound effects, and the whole time they're running, they're praying out loud, "God, please help Mommy not throw up!  Please help her tummy to feel better!" 

A few mornings ago we were getting ready for school and work.  We were almost late, not quite, but I decided we'd better eat in the car.  So I dropped three bread slices into the toaster, and grabbed the egg carton out of the fridge.  In a cereal bowl, I scrambled one egg, microwaved it for 50 seconds, dumped the cooked egg onto a piece of toast and called it breakfast.  I scrambled a second egg into the bowl and pulled on the microwave door.  The door swung wide, knocking the glass cereal bowl out of my hand.  The bowl bounced off my belly, ricocheted into the stove top, flipped end over end until it shattered into tiny pieces on the stone tile floor.  I stood there in my work clothes staring dumbly down at the dripping, glassy mess on me and surrounding me and couldn't figure out what to do. 

At this point, two little girls came running into the kitchen to see what all the noise was about.  Four-year-old Mercy surveyed the damage and looked up at me with great compassion.  She reached one hand out to touch my arm and comfortingly said, "It's okay, Mommy.  Sometimes, things like this happen at my school, too."

"Yes," six-year-old Liberty agreed.  "Mommy, we'll clean this up.  You're not supposed to bend down.  Okay, here's what we'll do.  Mercy, you pick up the glass, and I'll wipe up the eggs."

"I don't want to pick up the glass," Mercy calmly stated.

"Okay, I'll pick up the glass and you wipe up the eggs."

"I don't want to wipe up the eggs."

"Here's the deal, Mercy," Liberty actually used those words, and if I hadn't been about to cry at that moment I would have had trouble keeping my laughter to myself, "someone HAS to pick up the glass, and someone HAS to wipe up the eggs.  Now which one are you going to do?"

Mercy decided to pick up the glass, but she would only touch pieces that were not completely slimy with egg.  While the girls worked on the floor, I worked on cleaning myself and my clothing.  After a few minutes, I realized this huge job would not be finished for quite a while, and so I told the girls that we would have to leave the mess to get to school and work on time.  "But Mom," Liberty said incredulously, "the germs!"

"I know, honey, but there's nothing we can do right now.  We'll work on it when we get home this afternoon."

"Okay, but first let me cover it with a towel in case Daddy gets home first so he won't accidently walk on it."

I had no energy to respond, and covering it all with a towel seemed like a reasonable idea.  Liberty sped off to the linen closet and came back with about 45 tiny towels.  She then proceeded to cover the entire floor with itty bitty towels like a patchwork quilt.  I thought about stopping her, but she was being so helpful and so independent.  What's another load of laundry, anyway?  A small price to pay for the happiness serving brought to my daughter.

We drove to school with two girls discussing the pros and cons of various cleaning ideas to employ in the afternoon.

That afternoon, they picked up their conversation just where they'd left off in the morning, and when we pulled to a stop inside the garage, they both jumped out and headed to the kitchen without me.  Liberty found that the towels stuck to the floor but by pulling hard she could pry up the dried egg and the glass too.

I had them place all the towels into a large bowl for Daddy to inspect and decide on when he got home from work because I just wanted to throw them all away but didn't want to trust my own judgment at the moment.  Then we swept all the remaining dried egg and glass shards into the dust pan and emptied them into the garbage.  When Daddy got home, he made the executive decision to toss the towels into the garbage.  Thankfully, Liberty had chosen all of our "spill towels" to clean this mess -- we keep a collection of towels that have all but disintegrated into rags to be used whenever something spills.  Then Daddy mopped the floor with steaming hot soapy water, and everything was back to normal.

Everything, that is, except for my respect for my daughters which had increased considerably (as you can plainly see by the photo below).

So March is officially over, and I got to about 21 out of 31 possible posts in the month.  I am extremely proud of that record considering I only posted 13 times during the entire year of 2012.  Go me!  Besides, I decided years ago that if blogging were ever to stress me out, then I was doing it wrong.  When deciding to participate in the March Challenge, I determined ahead of time that I wouldn't stress over meeting the posting deadlines and instead enjoy the fun (and sometimes dreadful) topics listed.  I've had so much fun that now that March is over, I'm going to continue on with the topics as though it were still March.  Days 22 and 23 ask "What do you do when you're home alone?" and "Do you have a hobby?"

Well, I'm combining those topics because what I do when I'm home alone is usually also my hobby.  SLEEP!

No, not really.

Yes, really.  I do sleep frequently when I'm home alone, but that's just been these last seven and half months.  (ONLY 65 DAYS LEFT, YOU GUYS!!!)  Sleeping, however, is not my hobby.  (Although what a glorious hobby to have.  Yes?)

Cleaning is also not a hobby but still is something I usually do when I'm home alone.  How sad is that?

I used to read.  You know, back when my brain would stay awake and actually process the letters on the page into meaningful sentences.

However, (get to the point, Missy -- I can hear you saying it right now, Marcela!) my hobby is writing.  I haven't written any fiction recently (see crippled brain), but I have been blogging, and that revelation, ladies and gentlemen, is the information you wasted five minutes of your life reading this post for. 

Wasn't it worth it?