Though I still need to write a post about my trips to NYC and Boston, I wanted to write a quick update on my pregnancy so far (since this blog also functions as my personal memory bank!). Since I last posted, we’ve had two ultrasounds, one before my trips and one after:
Ultrasound & Pregnancy Updates
At the first ultrasound, Baby Shack was standing upright and bouncing up and down, which was quite amusing to watch. Since John played basketball, my father-in-law joked that Baby Shack was practicing shooting hoops. …Someone later told me that this is foreshadowing for an active baby; I guess we’ll see! Unfortunately, he was in a bad position to see all of the necessary things that they check on (vital organs, the brain, etc.), though they did confirm that the blood test was accurate and he is indeed a boy. So they scheduled another ultrasound for a couple weeks later.
In between my first and second ultrasound, I began to feel Baby Shack move and kick – so exciting! And as I later found out, my placenta is posterior (meaning that it’s closer to my spine than my stomach– I’m sure there’s a more scientific definition, but that’s how I understood it) which contributed to John being able to feel him kick already too!
Last Thursday, John and I went in for the second ultrasound. This time Baby Shack was all curled up so they still couldn’t check on everything. (What they could see all looks good so far, but I’ll need to go in for another ultrasound in a couple weeks …at least I’ll get more photos!)
Although at the last ultrasound having a baby started to feel more “real,” this time was an even more memorable experience. We saw Baby Shack’s little foot in the air and watched him grab a hold of it with his tiny hand. There was something about that moment where everything seemed to feel more real. My heart definitely started to melt, and though I’ve loved our baby boy from the beginning, it reached a whole new level as I watched him already begin to explore and learn inside the womb. (I can’t even imagine what this is going to be like once he’s born.)
Personal Growth & Identity Questions
Prior to my second ultrasound, I was feeling very stressed with schoolwork as I have a lot of papers and projects to finish in the next two weeks. Then I was making myself more stressed because I knew stress wasn’t good for the baby.
However, after seeing our baby at the ultrasound, I began changing my perspective. I asked myself what I would tell my coaching clients in this situation (cheesy, but true), and I realized that I needed to reframe the situation. Although sitting for hours on end writing papers is not ideal, I know I’ll get the work done. And while I focus so hard on this work for the next couple of weeks, instead of being stressed, I’m being disciplined and diligent — which are good traits that I’d be happy to pass down to Baby Shack.
I say all that to explain that pregnancy sure does a number on your identity (as I’ve written about earlier). However, in all of this, I’ve started to experience freedom. Ironically, my major paper right now is about workplace identity, so I can’t help but apply this research to my own identity. Though my work (and school) are certainly large influences on my identity, they are not my entire identity. I have the freedom to scale back work a bit in the Fall (though I will still be taking classes, in case you’re wondering) and to take a semester off of school after our baby is born. John has been so supportive in this process and helping me realize that a few months is not very long in the scheme of life.
My research on workplace identity also shows that those who are willing to try on clumsy, different versions of themselves – which can actually feel inauthentic in the process (as I’m sure motherhood will feel at first) – develop more mature, secure identities. Conversely, those that are more focused on staying “true to themselves” and what always feels consistent and authentic actually stunt their personal growth. Sometimes this meant that those who tried on “clumsy” versions of themselves returned back to their original decision (in the case of this research, their original job). Otherwise, they discovered “new” versions of their workplace identity.
Regardless, it pushed them beyond their comfort zones to continually revisit their personal narrative. The emphasis here is on the continually — getting into the habit of asking, “What story am I living? And, is this the story that I want to be living?” (As a side note, this is why I’m so excited for Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong to come out!)
I recently listened to a podcast interview with Jennie Allen, and she put it this way: When everything falls away, there’s freedom. Life often confronts us in areas where we are most vulnerable and that are most difficult for us to navigate. However, when we can identity what that thing is that we most fear losing, we can be set free to lay this down and know that whether what we want most in life happens or not, we have a secure love.
From a spiritual perspective, we can hold loosely that which we most treasure when we believe that we are God’s greatest treasure. Through this understanding comes freedom to then live more fully into who we are and who we’ve been created to be — which may mean staying put in where we are in life or it may mean making changes. The point is that there’s freedom in the decision.
I’m very grateful for the joy I’m experiencing as we anticipate meeting our baby boy this December. I know there’ll be more “identity questions” to come, but I am also assured that it is for freedom that I’ve been set free.