the one about hope

I am sad to say that I had to take a week off of my Project 365. Unforeseen circumstances caused me to not be near my camera for a few days, and I didn't have the energy to lift it for the remainder of the week.

Last Monday, following a routine appointment with my doctor, I found myself admitted to the hospital for preterm labor. My little guy decided to scare us all with contractions that wouldn't stop, so we had to take action. Two steroid injections for his lung development, a few liters of IV fluids, 48 hours on a magnesium drip (which forced me to be in the bed the entire time), lots of antibiotics, and an additional 12 hours for observation later....and I was released to go home (and still pregnant, thank God). I was so thankful to have not given birth at 32 weeks pregnant. That felt like a very real outcome on Monday night, so I feel like I got a second chance to grow this baby.

Since coming home, I have had a difficult time with my energy level. As it turns out, being in a hospital bed for nearly 3 days and eating very little food will make you very weak, tired, lethargic, and exhausted by any little thing. I have really been trying to lay down as much as possible while still attempting to get up every now and then so I don't continue to lose stamina...but both situations have proved to be challenging. Laying down with small children to care for is not very realistic, and getting up and moving when my body wants to just be at rest has been burdensome. It is not like me to "lay low." I don't enjoy it and love being productive, but I am determined to keep this baby in for another few weeks (37 is the magic number). I will do whatever it takes.

While I was in the hospital, I had a lot of time to think. This is a luxury I do not typically have. Many days, it is not until the girls go to bed that I can be alone with my thoughts, and by that time, my brain might as well be mush anyway. As I was listening to the little one on the fetal monitor for hours on end, I actually asked myself, "Why do we as women put ourselves through such misery to have babies?" You can tell what my mindset was at that time. I may have been feeling just a little sorry for myself.

I got caught up in thinking about the fact that we had some scares with Shiloh's pregnancy, and maybe I was a fool to take this on again. Maybe I should have known that we would have similar complications and that I could potentially risk the life of my unborn baby. This pregnancy, though I was hopeful would be different, has had all the bells and whistles that Shiloh's did and then some. We have done cervical length ultrasounds for months now. We have done progesterone injections weekly. We have done daily medications for contractions. I am now insulin-dependent with my gestational diabetes. With the recent hospital stay, I don't even want to think about how high the medical bills are going to be...and that's before the baby actually arrives.

Why? Why did we take this on?

We have three beautiful, smart, fun, healthy, wild, strong, and energetic girls. Could have stopped there, but we didn't. We wanted this baby. We wanted this challenge. We wanted this journey. But the fear and the worry and the uncertainty of last Monday night caused me to question everything.

In prayer and in solitude, I kept asking this question and the answer hit me hard today. The answer, to me, is hope. We took on the responsibility of bringing another child into the world, regardless of how difficult and arduous the journey, because of hope.

Hope for the future. Hope for change. Hope for more goodness. Hope for this world.

Each day, we see such terrible headlines in the news. It has become painful to watch and read. If I think too much about it, I get scared. I become leery. I tell myself that this world is evil, and that I just don't understand the point anymore.

But when I think about this baby...the very one that is kicking and punching me and hiccuping all the time inside of my body...I have hope. I have hope that he will be good. I have hope that he will be kind. I have hope that he will be strong enough to shoulder the burdens and temptations and challenges that he will undoubtedly face as he goes through life.

This little boy may be the change we wish to see in the world, and for that, I have hope.

This is why children are so incredible. Their lives have only just begun. Their stories are in the early chapters, and we have no idea how their books will end. My children, all children, give me hope...and that is reason enough to go through a physically and emotionally challenging pregnancy punctuated by expensive treatments and care.

I have had a different boy's name picked out for each pregnancy. With our first, we waited to be surprised at birth so if Noelle would have been a boy, her name would have been Max. I have never gone back to Max for any other pregnancy. For me, it felt like that name belonged to that pregnancy and I couldn't "use it" again. For the first half or so of this pregnancy, I thought we were going to name him one name -- until it hit me one day a few months ago that this baby's name was Leo.

I couldn't explain it. I didn't know why. There wasn't any rhyme or reason to it. I just liked it. It's not a family name. It's not short for anything. I hadn't even really heard it anywhere else. It just felt right. I tried to continue calling him the name we had originally planned, but he just seemed like a Leo.

And now, after what we went through last week and what we still have yet to face, it feels like Leo, which is Latin for lion, is the perfect name. I don't know if he is the fierce one or if I am inspired to be fierce for him, but knowing his name has such a brave and powerful connotation gives me great peace.

Brave, fierce, strong, and tenacious might be how I describe a lion, but the name Leo also seems soft, warm, and gentle. It is a common name for popes, saints, and priests, and this little guy has done nothing but fortify my faith by the day.

I think my favorite thing about the name Leo is that he and I are forever connected in the stars. My zodiac sign is Cancer, and the one right next to Cancer is Leo. I love the symbolism that he is right there next to me even in the biggest, darkest, most uncertain sky.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Kira, met me at our new property to take some maternity photos...just by myself. I wanted to be able to remember the bright spots of this pregnancy and not the times when I felt like I couldn't take one more pill or go in for one more ultrasound or check my blood sugar one more time or stand one more needle in my body. I wanted to just be alone with Leo and thank him for the opportunity to be his mama. She captured what I wanted perfectly, and I am so thankful that I have these to remind me of the miracle of life and the true power of hope.

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