How Pregnancies Wrecked My Body

I put the boys down for a nap, opened the mail, and excitedly found my Fitbit had arrived! I promptly put it on my wrist, grabbed the little instruction booklet, and laid on the couch. 

In my defense, this was the treasured “nap time” when one child sleeps and the other stays in his room for at least 3 minutes before I have to entertain/threaten/bribe him to give me 10 more minutes of alone time. Second, we spent the morning running around a kid play place where I crawled through tunnels, down slides, pushed Parker in a tractor, and all sorts of activity since the 572 friends we asked to join us couldn’t come, and I promised a fun day for Jack (he earned it with a rewards system I implemented… Maybe another post).

So I laid on the couch, Fitbit on my wrist, reading the manual. Then Fitbit was like “A little less conversation, a little more action please.” Turns out the thing only counts steps when you take the steps. I know, crazy.

I bought the Fitbit with birthday gift money, hoping it would give me some motivation to get back in shape. Over the last six years my body has been through a lot. 

  • 4 pregnancies: 20 weeks, 41 weeks, 6 weeks, and 38 weeks. That’s a total of 105 weeks – more than 2 years!
  • Delivered 3 babies, only got to bring 2 home.
  • Gained 15 pounds, lost 15 pounds. Gained 50, lost 50. Gained 40, lost 20.
  • 16 weeks on bed rest, flat on my back.
  • 2 surgeries to keep babies inside me
  • 9 months of inactivity: no running, no chasing a toddler around, no lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk.
  • Not to mention all the emotions that accompany these challenging pregnancies.

Six years ago I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. These days my body hurts from normal mom life: carrying a baby and chasing an energetic 4 year old. Instead of running laps on a track, I’m often driving laps in my car where the boys seem to most enjoy sleeping.
After bed rest and delivering Jack, it took my body about 15 months before I felt normal again. It’s been 11 months since Parker was born, but I feel stuck. Tired after long, but good days at home with the boys, I don’t want to work out at night. But I look at the energy of my husband and children and think I want to be there. I want to do that. And I don’t want to struggle through it.

Instead of finding temporary comfort in an evening catching up on Netflix, I’m hoping Fitbit can help me pursue long-term comfort as I get my body back. I know the road might be long, but I like the clothes in my closet and I want them to fit again. And I want to climb some mountains.

Why I Announce Pregnancies Early

If you missed my Facebook announcement, I’m pregnant! For a few weeks we’ve been sharing the news with family and friends as we see them. And some of them have been sharing it with others. And that is great because this little life deserves to be celebrated!

I’m only 9.5 weeks, but feeling nauseous frequently, which isn’t fun but is a good pregnancy sign. Some people wait until 12 weeks when the first trimester is over to announce their pregnancy. They wait until they’re out of the “danger zone” of when miscarriage is most possible. But why? To avoid some kind of embarrassment of announcing, miscarrying, and then having to explain it? While I don’t think that would be embarrassing because miscarriage isn’t anyone’s fault and usually has no reason. But it isn’t easy to explain the situation. It’s uncomfortable if you run into a friend at the store who heard the first announcement, but not about the miscarriage, and starts to ask about the pregnancy.

But I can’t think like that. I choose to cling to hope and trust God’s plan with this life. I’ve missed the chance to celebrate two precious lives while they were still with me. When I was first pregnant with Caleb we were going to wait until I went to the doctor at 10 weeks. But just before that happened I ended up in the hospital, learning I was almost 20 weeks pregnant, and that I would deliver the baby that day but he wouldn’t survive. That was the tearful phone call our families received. Even though we are thankful for Caleb’s life and celebrate him now, we didn’t have the chance to celebrate him while he was alive.

We announced being pregnant with Jack around 8 weeks at a family party. We certainly benefitted from having so many people love, support, and pray for us and Jack throughout that pregnancy. But most of all we loved celebrating that little life growing inside me. We loved being excited with everyone about what would come. We cherished every day we had with him safely in my womb.

When I had a miscarriage at Christmas we were about to make the announcement when I started bleeding. While we hoped things would be ok, we decided to wait until we knew before sharing the news. Unfortunately we lost that baby at just 6 weeks and missed another chance to celebrate that life while he was with us.

So, fourth time around now, almost as soon as we knew I was pregnant we told our families. We celebrated. We prayed. We already love this little one. We are thanking God for another precious miracle and trusting Him to keep this baby safe and healthy inside me until His perfect timing to deliver.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job 1:21


Joy and Sorrow

On Christmas Day Jack was supposed to walk into our parents’ houses for gift opening and share a special announcement on his tshirt: Big Brother. But he never got the chance. A few days earlier I started having some problems. Doctor appointment, blood work, and several days of waiting, revealed that I was having a miscarriage. In the days of waiting, however, I waited in silence. Only Jeff and I knew that I was pregnant. I was still hoping that everything would be ok and that we could joyfully, happily announce this new baby.

Through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, while everyone around me celebrated the birth of a Baby King, I wondered if the baby, who was only 6 weeks in the womb, was still alive. The season of advent is all about anticipation of a Savior, when I was waiting for results and answers. Would Christmas Day, a day of great celebration, turn into a day of mourning for me? Does it have to be one or the other?

Because of the birth of a Baby in Bethlehem – Jesus, the One who saves, because He is Immanuel, God with us, I can have comfort even in sorrow. I can find joy even when mourning because the God who is with me is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Even though I was only 6 weeks pregnant, I had hopes and dreams for this new baby. I was excited for Jack to have a sibling, for us to have a new little baby to hold and love. Things could go on without anyone knowing about this 6 week old life that was inside me, but I think it’s important to share. Every life has value and should be celebrated. At least 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but it’s often not talked about. Then if it happens to you, you might feel alone or ashamed, as if it’s your fault. But it’s not your fault. Usually there aren’t answers as to why miscarriages happen.

I share my story with you to celebrate the baby. I’ve thanked God for this baby and for the blessing of being pregnant three times – a blessing many women don’t get. It’s a strange thing to have more children in heaven than in my arms (read about Caleb here), but it makes me look forward to heaven even more.

No matter what challenging, sorrowful, or questioning time you are facing, it doesn’t have to be separated from hope, joy, and peace. The Baby in the manger came to save you, to be with you, to bring you peace even in chaos, joy even in sorrow, and hope even when you despair.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praying In Faith

This is the true story I shared at Bended Knee Ministries’ Women’s Retreat

One day I had some special news to share with my husband, Jeff. I was trying to think of a creative way to tell him, so I made a special dinner. Jeff came home and I began to tell him the menu for dinner.

“Tonight we’re having BABY back ribs, with Sweet BABY Ray’s BBQ sauce, and BABY carrots.”

“Sounds good,” Jeff said.

“Umm… did you notice a theme,” I asked.

“Yeah they all have ‘baby’ in them… OH! Are you pregnant??”

As we ate dinner, the excitement of the new life inside me began to grow. We wondered if it was a boy or girl? Will it look like me or you? We were very excited and knew our families would be excited too.

Unfortunately the excitement turned to sadness. At 19 weeks pregnant, we had some complications and found ourselves in the hospital. I had gone into labor prematurely. I would have to deliver the baby that day. But he wouldn’t survive.

A few hours later, on February 24, 2011, I delivered a precious little baby boy who we named Caleb. In the Bible, Caleb was one of the men Moses sent in to spy on the promised land. Ten of the men came back saying the land is great, but there are giants who live there and we could never beat them. But Joshua and Caleb disagreed. Yes the land is great, it’s all that God promised, but the giants aren’t too much for us. God has given us the land. Let’s go and take possession of it. But the people were afraid and didn’t trust God to give them the land. Because of their disobedience, God said the entire generation would pass away and not see the promised land – except Joshua and Caleb.

Caleb was described as “whole-heartedly following the Lord.” Jeff and I chose to name the baby Caleb to remind ourselves to whole-heartedly follow the Lord. We knew there would be “giants” in front of us – fears that would be easy to succumb to. But instead of fearing or running from God, we needed to trust Him.

Instead of picking out baby furniture for the nursery, we were picking out cemetary plots and planning a funeral. As we mourned our son we mourned our dreams. Would we ever have a baby to watch grow? What would it even be like to be pregnant again? How would I be pregnant and not be afraid about something going wrong?

Over the next few months we felt God’s peace and strength as He was healing our broken hearts. About six months after Caleb died we found out I was pregnant again. Instead of the fear I anticipated, I truly felt joyful. I had new doctors. I would be seeing a specialist. I would have ultrasounds every two weeks and shots that were supposed to prevent premature labor. But on top of that, I really felt a confidence from God that everything was going to be fine.

And everything was going really well until a routine ultrasound appointment at 21 weeks showed that my cervix has shortened. A normal cervix in pregnancy is at least 2.5 centimeters. Every ultrasound I had, my cervix measured 3.5 centimeters, which is really good! But at that appointment, as soon as the image came on the screen, I knew something was wrong. Instead of 3.5cm, my cervix measured only 0.4cm. In order to prevent labor, I would need an emergency cerclage, which is a stitch to keep the cervix closed. I underwent the surgery that afternoon.

Even with the cerclage, the risk of going into labor prematurely was high. I would have to be on strict bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy which was 3 ½ months.

In the beginning when I had that confidence that everything was going to be fine, I thought everything was going to be fine. I wasn’t expecting emergency surgery, or that the life of the baby depended on my ability to stay laying down for three months. My confidence was a little shaken. So just like after Caleb died, I turned to the Bible. As I was reading I found this verse in Mark where Jesus is talking to the disciples about faith. Jesus is telling them if they have faith they can move mountains. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I thought ok… whatever I ask for, believe I have received it, and God will give it to me. So I prayed, “Lord please give me a full-term healthy baby. I believe you’re going to do it and I trust You.”

I had prayed for a full-term baby, I believed God was going to give him to me, so I needed to act on my belief. I would go to doctors appointments and they would tell me my goal was to get to 28 weeks. I said, no, we’re going full-term. We’d make it to 28 and they would say, now the goal is 30 or 32. And I would tell them, I’ve prayed for a full-term baby and I believe that is what God is going to give us. My goal is full-term.

Bed rest meant laying down. I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and i could drive myself to doctors appointments every week. After going to the doctors appointments I figured a quick stop through the Starbucks drive thru would be ok. I became very familiar with all my drive thru options on bed rest. But bed rest also meant not going to church and not going to bible study. I knew I needed to be intentional about having spiritual lessons in my life. I would watch sermons on video, do video bible studies. One Sunday morning a friend even came over in her sweat pants and laid in bed with me so we could watch church together. At times it was hard not having spiritual fellowship with others. So I started a blog to write about my faith and what was happening in the pregnancy.

Through the blog and email and facebook, I asked friends and family to pray with us for a full-term baby and believe that God will answer our prayers. There were hundreds of people praying with us. Many of you in this room were praying for us.

Acting in faith for my prayer wasn’t always easy. My sisters wanted to throw me a baby shower, which was very nice. I was hesitant as we started to make plans. I knew I would need to register for baby things, which I could do online while on bed rest, but I was nervous. What if I get all these baby clothes and toys and furniture, but end up not having a baby to bring home? I would catch myself thinking like this, and be reminded – I’ve prayed for a full-term baby, I believe God is going to answer my prayer, I need to live like there’s going to be a baby at the end of this pregnancy. I finally started to register for baby things and as soon as I did I felt more confident. The more I acted in faith on my prayer, the more my faith grew.

When you have a story like mine, you get connected with other people who have similar stories. A friend of a friend mentioned they know a girl in Idaho who was also on bed rest and the doctors thought the baby was going to be born prematurely. So I found her on facebook and wrote her a message. I didn’t know if she was a Christian or Buddist or Atheist or anything. But I wanted to share with her my verse. I wanted her to know that whatever she asks for in prayer, if she believes that she will receive it, then it will be hers. As I started to write it though I was scared again. What if God doesn’t answer her prayer? What if it doesn’t work for her? But I realized I don’t have to defend God. This is what He says in the Bible. If I believe it to be true for me, then it would be true for her or for anyone else who prays in faith. I shared the verse with her and she began praying for a full-term baby also.

Well the weeks of bed rest went on and I was receiving mostly positive reports from my doctors. My cervix had increased back to 3.5cm which was really good. One week, though, the measurement decreased to 2cm. This wasn’t surprising to my doctors. But it surprised me. It was easy to keep believing that a full-term baby was going to happen as long as everything was going well. But when I had not-so-positive reports at the doctor I was forced to re-examine my faith and trust in God. It also gave me great opportunities to share my faith with the doctors. When I went for my next appointment my cervix measured 3.5cm again! My doctor said she had no medical reason for how that happened. I told her God was teaching me to trust Him and choose faith instead of fear. I never was able to get into much detail about my faith with the doctors, but I would tell them every week that a lot of people were praying for us and God was responsible for how well things were going.

Babies are actually considered full-term at 37 weeks, so at 37 weeks the cerclage was removed. Some women go into labor immediately and some it takes a few days. I figured at this point my prayer had been answered – I had made it to the full-term mark, so the baby could come anytime. But it crossed my mind that the baby might come late – proof that it wasn’t the shots, or the cerclage, or the bed rest, or the doctors that kept the baby inside me. But that God was the One responsible!

At 40 weeks and 5 days, I was INDUCED! It is rare for anyone with an emergency cerclage to even make it to their due date let alone be induced. 4 weeks past the latest the doctors thought I’d make it. 4 weeks without a cerclage. 4 weeks not on bed rest, but sitting up and walking around! 4 weeks that showed God is in control!

On June 1, 2012 I gave birth to a beautiful little boy, Jackson Archer Chun. Jack was Full-term and healthy. All of our prayers had been answered. The doctors were amazed that I went full-term and that labor had to be induced. I told them, you’ve done a great job and I’m very thankful for all your medical expertise, but God gets all the glory for this one. He has heard our prayers and He has answered.

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

A Day is Like A Thousand Years

The Bible says a day is like a thousand years to God, or a thousand years is like a day. I was reminded of that this morning at my Moms group. A physical therapist came to talk about exercises and stretches moms can do to help their bodies get back to normal. So I asked what to expect after being on bed rest.

She said, “One day of bed rest requires one week of recovery.” She might as well have told me it’ll take a thousand years!

I am playing soccer in 4 days. I told my team to have low expectations. And then lower them some more. Little by little I’ll get back to normal. Hopefully it won’t take a thousand years (or even 115 weeks like the physical therapist’s schedule).

It’s the little part I don’t like. Two years ago I was at the top of Kilimanjaro. A feat that took 9 months of training. Throughout this blog, we’ve compared bed rest to Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro has always been harder. Not any more.

Unfortunately, I’m not a delayed gratification kind-of-person. I want to see results now, or even yesterday. I suppose most of our society is like that which is why magazines and tv commercials are filled with “10 easy steps,” “3 ways to a better…,” etc.

But I’m reminded that the things we work hardest for in life tend to be the most meaningful. No pain, no gain. What’s the point of winning the victory if you didn’t fight a hard battle.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8


Birth Pains

Does anyone else, especially pregnant women, dislike reading all the Bible verses about women being in pain during childbirth? We all know labor is painful… does it have to be repeated so much?

As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain… Isaiah 26:17

She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Revelation 12:2

She went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 1 Samuel 4:19

I think what might be worse than these labor-pain verses is the fact that God didn’t originally design childbirth to be painful. It’s actually the punishment for the first sin – Adam and Eve eating from the tree that God told them not to eat.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done? … Because you have done this… I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Genesis 3:13-16

Adam was punished too, along with the serpent who deceived them. Don’t you wish Eve had some foresight to see how her choices might affect the rest of us? I’m not having “labor pains” right now but I am having severe sciatic nerve pain. It comes and goes, but came on strong yesterday and hasn’t really left. I was just sitting on the couch and leaned forward to put a coaster away when this sharp pain shot through my backside. The kind of pain where you think you might die, even though you know you’re overreacting a little.

It eased a bit as I made my way to the car since it was time for my doctor’s appointment. But as I try to get in the car I realize I can’t lift my right foot off the ground without that pain shooting through me. Why is it that my first reaction to pain is the “F word?” There’s my confession for the day. I’m not proud of it. I usually mutter it under my breath or in my head, which seems better than shouting it out, especially when you’re standing in the garage and neighbors and school children are walking by. I’m working on eliminating this from my instinct-driven vocabulary so that Baby’s first word isn’t… you know.

At some point this blog post seemed to turn into complaining but in an effort to be real and honest, I won’t edit it. I don’t really edit any of these except for spelling and obvious grammar errors…

In case you lost track, I’m officially 40 weeks and 3 days. The doctors and nurses were surprised to see me yesterday (they’ve been surprised to see me the last 3 weeks!). As I’ve said before, I’m very grateful for medical science and wonderful doctors and nurses that helped me get this far. But the real credit belongs to God. No one thought I’d make it past my due date. This really shows His power and He is in control. Thank You Lord!

As for the pains…. I know it’ll all be worth it. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21


Immeasurably More

Moses parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites across on dry ground.
Joshua marched an army around Jericho and the walls crumbled.
Jonah spent three days living in the belly of a whale.
I’ve carried this baby, who was expected prematurely, for 40 weeks and 2 days.

Is it because of Moses, or Joshua, or Jonah, or me? No. It’s because God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21


The Competition Has Changed

Our good friends were also expecting, but due two weeks after me. It seemed obvious that Baby Chun would arrive first. But guess who had their baby a few days ago… Not me. While we are very happy for our friends and their new baby girl, it’s like we lost. Baby Chun clearly hasn’t inherited Mommy & Daddy’s competitive drive. Although in fairness, Jeff pointed out that Baby Chun did try to leave the womb a long time and we said no. At least he’s already learned to obey.

When we visited our friends at the hospital I held the new baby girl. We took pictures because we thought it’d be fun to confuse everyone, but I haven’t transferred them to my iPad yet. The whole time I held the baby, Baby Chun was kicking her! It was pretty funny, especially since Baby Girl could have cared less. She was perfectly calm and sleeping while Baby Chun seemed to be jealous that I was holding her. Kicking is only allowed in the womb, Baby Chun. You’ll have to stop that when you come out. We had a few contractions that night and thought perhaps he had figured out what he’s supposed to do… But they passed.

Tomorrow is the due date. Can you believe we made it this far?! The doctors continue to be surprised. Now I’d really like to make it until after tomorrow just to say I made it past the due date. I don’t think anyone with an emergency cerclage has made it past their due date. That’s my new goal. I think it just proves that God is in control. He has been with us from the beginning and protecting the precious life inside me.


Maybe I Should Clarify…

Dear God,

Maybe I should have been more specific. Back in January when I needed the cerclage, and there was concern about the baby coming prematurely, I prayed for a full-term baby. And I have whole-heartedly believed You heard me and would answer. But when I said “full-term” I meant the baby could come anytime after the cerclage was removed. Babies are actually considered full-term at 37 weeks and now I’m 39 weeks and 1 day … I suppose since You created him You know what You’re doing. But I’m worried if he gets much bigger inside me that he won’t fit into some of his cute newborn clothes… So thanks for answering my prayer from January and help me to be patient for Your timing.


Anxiety in Anticipation

Are you ever anxious or worried about an upcoming day, but the day ends up being fine? My friends who have lost children have agreed that usually anticipating the holidays or anniversaries is worse than the actual day itself. Mothers Day was like that for me.

The season of Mothers Day is challenging, as I wrote about last. I don’t even like picking out cards because inevitably I’ll start crying thinking of what could’ve been with Caleb. I’m not a stranger to crying in public… It’s still kind of normal for me even though it doesn’t happen often.

I went to Jewel on Saturday before Mothers Day. I hadn’t been grocery shopping in months, but I only needed to pick up a few things. However I forgot what a bad decision it is to go to the grocery store before holidays. I’m used to people moving out of my way since I’m pregnant, but people at Jewel could have cared less if they were in my way. One nice lady who works at Jewel said “happy Mothers Day” to me and another woman. I was on the phone and barely acknowledged her, mainly because I thought I’d start crying again. So to the woman at Jewel, thank you. Your simple words meant a lot.

At church they asked all the moms to stand but I didn’t stand. We had just been standing to sing, then sat down, and then they asked moms to stand… it was more movement than I was interested in. But I felt like I was not standing intentionally, in support of all the “moms” whose children aren’t by their side. On the way out they handed roses to some women. I didn’t try to get one, but another woman saw me and handed me her rose. “You need this more than I do,” she said. “Happy Mothers Day,” she added. I don’t know if she saw the tears in my eyes. I didn’t say much to her, though I wonder if she had a story. She looked like she was in her 40s and walked out of church with her husband, but no kids. I think I mumbled “thank you” but I wish I had taken a moment to tell her how much that meant to be recognized as a mom.

On Mothers Day, we had lunch with my family, then dinner with Jeff’s family, and then Jeff and I watched the season finale of Survivor. It was a good day. I don’t know why anticipating the day is always worse than the day itself. Maybe it’s good to have time beforehand to think, appreciate what I have, understand the stories of others.

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23