a picture of happiness

The other day Tim snapped this photo of me while we watched the girls play ring-around-the-rosies over and over again at the small fair we attended. I generally shy away from pictures of myself during pregnancy because I'm not really sure what to do with them once I see them.

But when I saw this one, I noticed more than the growing belly and slouchy back. I saw the real me behind this temporary body. My smile lines were defined, along with the small crows feet dotting my eyes. My cheek bones were highlighted in the sun. My hair was in its natural, unbrushed state. And my body appeared relaxed and still. I could tell just by looking at me that I was really happy in that moment.

Pregnancy and its accompanying pains and hormones has a way of morphing a person into someone entirely different. Some women feel euphoric throughout the entire nine months, regardless of state of physical being or mental health. Others feel drained by the weight of the growing child. And still others feel a sense of sadness engulf them as they ride the waves of emotions and sickness. I can empathize with women in nearly every category.

My first pregnancy was my happiest. I experienced terrible morning sickness but felt rejuvenated and happy once I passed 17 weeks. Tim and I always talk about that pregnancy and how different it was from the others. And perhaps it had nothing to do with the actual pregnancy, rather it was more of an excitement to experience everything for the first time. I guess we'll never know. My subsequent pregnancies have been significantly more difficult. With Genevieve, I managed to ignore most of the sickness and hormones because I was working full-time and hardly had time to focus on my health. With Elle, the pain in my back and legs were excruciating after about 32 weeks. I hardly slept at night because every position reminded me of how much pain I was in. And with this pregnancy, I have experienced a wide variety of issues from constant nausea and vomiting (still....ugh...), extreme back pain, swelling, heart burn, anemia, and severe migraines. Everyday is different, and I can never predict how I may feel the next day.

However, in spite of all the problems, I have loved housing this baby inside of me. I have no idea what she will be like because she hasn't liked a single thing I've done during pregnancy, but I am positive she will come out with her own unique personality. One that will undoubtedly be strong and stubborn, just like her sisters and her mama. Last night, I sat on the couch and watched her push my skin every which way. I imagined her hand pushing against mine or her foot kicking me away. It never ceases to amaze me that there is a real person in there who is constantly growing and adapting to her dark surroundings. Sometimes I shine a flashlight on my belly just so she can see a bit of light in all the dark. I have no idea what it would be like to grow completely in the dark, but it must be odd. Although probably not as odd as she will feel once her sisters get their little fingers and lips all over her. I can't wait. ;) (Okay, I can. She just better make her exit before Thanksgiving because there is no way I'm letting heartburn ruin my most favorite eating day.)

I am so grateful to a husband who helps me everyday. He knows it has been hard so he constantly checks up on me and does what he can to make my life easier. I am grateful I chose him to be the one I created other lives with because he is a master creator. I mean...look at my other kids. They look just like him. Although he can't help house the baby during the nine months, I know he will help shape and mold her, just as he has done with our other three, to become someone amazing. We all wouldn't be the women we are in this house without him. He makes us better in every way.

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley