Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Family Tree

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it is with a grateful heart that I am able to announce that our family tree is expanding.

Flegal baby # 4 is due May 25!

* This is a great place to stop reading if my personality ever 
makes you want to vomit.

I hesitate to broadcast the happy emotions attached to our announcement as we are keenly aware that this news is (and has been) hard for some of our dear friends and family to receive. Andrew and I know of couples who, at this moment, are longing, aching and praying for their families to grow. In no way am I saying that anyone wishes misfortune upon us; but rather that their pleas to heaven were being met in a more timely manner or with a greater level of ease. Perhaps I have no business to be blogging about something so personal and so difficult when I myself haven't tasted of that particular heartache. For those who've shared their struggles and frustrations, I literally cry with you. When I look at the divine qualities these women, some of whom are Mothers already, possess, I have to ask why on earth these blessings are delayed. It feels unbelievably unfair.

It's possible that I have followed the bloggers code to closely as I have a tendency to portray a life of perfected bliss via this blog. The truth is, we have our challenges. With time, I expect that we will face, "assorted soul-stretching challenges and adversities." I don't say this because I'm a pessimist, but because there aren't exemptions from trial and difficulty.

This past weekend we had a close call on the freeway. After Andrew slammed on the breaks, Lottie instantly began to bawl. Assuming she'd been startled, I look back to console her. To my horror I see that her car seat is tilted forward, resting on the back of the driver's seat.

We'd been to a movie with family that afternoon. Having the room to fit all the adults in our van, we carpooled the group while Lottie and the other kids stayed at Bubba's house to play. Her car seat, which had been removed to accommodate the group, was eventually put back in the car, but not buckled back in.  

Jumping back to be with her, I quickly fastened her seat in properly. A mixture of relief, intense gratitude and a terrible sickness for what could have happened fell over Andrew and me. The kids, with the exception of Eliza who was worried out of her mind that a police man would see me out of my seat belt and arrest me on the spot, settled quickly while Andrew and I were left reeling. It was an ugly reminder that in a matter of seconds, what you hold and value as more precious than anything (as trite as that sounds) can be taken away from you. 

With all that being said, Heavenly Father didn't intend us to live life in a state of fear or depression. Peace and hope, I believe, can be found in the ugliest of circumstances. I can't give overwhelming testimony of this with an earth shattering example from my own life, but I've seen it in other people's lives and on a smaller and more simple scale in my own. Quoting from the same LDS conference talk that I shared from earlier, Sister Linda Burton said,

"All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." I have faith that if we follow Christ's teachings and make him both our sail and anchor, we'll be able to progress safely through life and have a secure foundation for when life's storms come. The Atonement, we're taught, isn't there to only cleanse the sinner, but to also lift and repair the brokenhearted. There's a lovely little quote floating around Pinterest that struck a chord with me. It says:

"Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ."

I apologize for letting my feelings (which have been unintentionally designed to look like a sermon) have exploded in such a manner. I just hope that I can share the upcoming months of preparation and excitement in a sensitive way. 

And finally, a note to our precious fourth,

Dear baby,

Your story has begun! The fourth spot in our family is special, you should know. Both your Daddy and I hold that same place in the families we grew up in so without question you'll be favored at all times! ;)  With it comes the blessing of older siblings who clapped and shouted for joy when we shared with them the news. On a lazy Sunday morning, your sisters and brother decided to climb into bed with us. It was a most welcomed invasion. Singing the family favorite, "Here we are together," I added the lines:

"...And another new baby growing in Mommy's tummy." Eliza's mouth dropped open, Henry beamed a happy smile, Lottie demanded the attention be returned to her (just kidding)...  Then we celebrated.

Those same siblings, who remain pure, innocent (well that's debatable... hee hee hee) and full of faith, pray each day for your safety and health. To be fair, it remains to be seen how the sister that is about to be dethroned from the prime spot of 'family baby' will react; but with time I have every confidence in the world that she'll promote you to the coveted spot of 'personal favorite.' 

Another benefit of being the fourth is that much of the concern we have regarding the exhausting exercises that accompany having a newborn have been diminished as we see how incredibly fast those months pass. Those early, heaven filled, new baby phases are gone in a blink. And with each exciting new development, the exhaustion softens and a new normal is discovered. 

The morning I found out you were coming, your Daddy was away on business. I did not have the patience to wait for him to return as I believed that a positive result could be possible that day. The thrill of seeing those two pink lines felt as new as it did the first time. The shock was significantly less compared to when I found out about Eliza, but time and experience demanded a higher level of gratitude as I made my way onto my knees to thank our Father in Heaven.

That same day, I found myself at the Brigham City Temple open house with Eliza, Henry and Lottie. As we walked through the celestial room, I was reminded how close heaven and earth can be. I am thankful that this experience, God willing, can bring me to that sacred moment in time, when Mother and child meet once more.

Daddy came home to a "Welcome Home" sign that Eliza had lovingly decorated. Moments before his late night return home, I added the 'exclamation point' to the sign; which in fact, was one of my positive pregnancy tests (by that point, I had a fair few). 

"Did you notice Eliza's sign?" I questioned as I sat sleepily on the couch. The sign that was displayed on the mantel was quite prominent. 

"Yes." His voice was nonchalant. Assuming he was saving his 'reaction' for the child who had colored it so well, I continued. 

"Look at it closely." Heeding my instruction, his solid, consistently stable demeanor momentarily faltered. A certain smile (that I love, love, love) reserved for occasions such as this broke through. 

"Really?!" And then his confidence returned. He smugly added, "I already knew it!"  And then we made out. Say what, Mama?!? (I'm just checking to see if Andrew is still paying attention.)

You are loved and wanted more than you know. We pray for you daily and your Mom thinks about you around the clock. 

All my love,
That folks, is more muffin top than baby. But still, there's a baby. After Thanksgiving, I'll look 35 + weeks pregnant... can't wait! ;)


rachel garber said...

few things here:

1. my family has a few pictures much like that one of you guys circa 2008 & 2011. love it.

2. love love love that you are having another baby! like some crazy person I was thinking about you the other day and wondering if you were going to have a number four. SO EXCITED FOR YOU!

3. love how you told andrew.

4. next time I make it to Utah, maybe we should finally meet??

Karen said...

Hooray for babies! Hooray, Hooray! Do you know Scripture Scouts? It's the Family Proclamation one and they have a cute song where they sing, "Hooray for babies". I loved all of your thoughts. It is such a blessing to be able to add to our families and that you are being so kind and sensitive to those that it is so difficult for is beautiful. You are a beautiful mother and I'm so excited to hear about your fun adventures with inviting #4. YAY for #4!! I'm also a 4th in the family. You write so beautifully and when you said that the "exhaustion softens" it gave me hope! I think I'm already feeling the exhaustion and I'm only 32 1/2 weeks...I know that's late in pregnancy, I just mean I haven't had the baby yet! May I remember your wise words in a couple months. SO happy for you!

The Black Family said...

Sooooo exciting! Wish we could have seen you guys today. I hope all is well. Congratulations!

Ali said...

I love you all. Thank you for excitement and support!!

Kelsi {John, Jake, Georgia, Naomi, Alice} said...

So excited for you & baby #4! Can't wait to hear all about your pregnancy adventures and life with 4. Congratulations! <3

Allison and Josh said...

Beautiful post, Ali! I am so happy for you! I can definitely relate to some of your feelings. Getting pregnant wasn't super easy for us and took much longer than expected. When I did get pregnant, it was so hard sharing the news with some cute friends that are struggling to conceive. Most of them have been great and supportive, but one friend won't even acknowledge me or my pregnancy and I feel awful about it. I wish so bad that all of these friends could be pregnant as well. That is part of the reason why I have blogged so little. I've wanted to share my feelings and excitement, but have been so worried about my friends. I have just recently come to terms with the fact that it's okay for me to share my joy and excitement because I am about to become a mother and that is dang exciting. :) Everything is in the Lord's hands, and it's okay for me to be excited for my baby. I don't want to forget any of these feelings and I am going to start sharing them more often. Anyway, sorry for the long rant, but I am thrilled for you. You are such a great mama!

CarrieAnne said...

You are beautiful! Loved the post and the make out comment! :)

Jessica said...

Congratulations! So happy for you guys. That's so great. You are so good with words, I know if we decide to have a 4th I will be tempted to come to your blog and copy and paste your words. Weird, I know. But it's true! I love your comments about finding peace, it's hard to find in the world today. Thanks!

Carrie said...

So happy for you and #4. I can't help but be happy for the person who helped us find our little boy (and I feely admit that I am jealous, but jealous and happy for you!)

Jen Bowen said...

Congratulations Ali! I'm so excited for you! You're due just 2 months after me :). Good luck with all the fun and not so fun that comes with being pregnant.

Karina said...

hooray! i'm so excited for you. i love that you're so good at blogging. your kids are going to be so grateful. you make me want to be better.