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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 37), Parenting in the Pandemic, and an update on Champ


37 weeks!! I know it probably sounds cliche but it’s true: I honestly can’t believe I’m full-term!!

Highlights

I got to have another ultrasound and baby again scored 8 out of 8 and everything looks great. We also ran labs again to check on my hemoglobin and it’s stayed stable — which is huge, amazing praise considering how much I’ve struggled with this in previous pregnancies.

I’m finally starting to feel really pregnant and I’m moving much slower and wanting to rest a lot more. That said, except for some evenings, I’m still not at the “get this baby out ASAP” stage, but I’m finally feeling like I am okay with having this baby soon.

(Up until a few days ago, I felt like there was too much else that needed to be in place before I was ready, so I couldn’t even think about the possibility of having a baby. I’ve started to feel much more ready the past two days. However, I usually go late, so I don’t ever expect that I’ll go early. I learned my lesson the hard way with my first pregnancy!!)

Notable

I’m having a bit of swelling in my legs/ankles. Up until this point, I hadn’t had almost any swelling, unless I was on my feet for at least 3-5 hours.

My doctor said since my blood pressure and other things look great, that she’s not worried about it. I am just trying to make sure to keep my feet up as much as I can, continue walking for 30 mins/day, and drinking lots of water. That seems to make a big difference!

I think baby has dropped quite a bit (even though you can’t really tell from this pic) because I’m having a lot less pain in my ribs/underneath my ribs, which has been so nice! And I still can’t believe that I’ve not had the horrible extreme heartburn I usually have. But I am very much looking forward to being able to eat a much more normal diet after baby gets here! 😉

Usually, the last 4-5 weeks of pregnancy drag on and on for me, but so far, it feels like time is pretty much flying by. I think having a little newborn to care for has definitely helped my days go by quickly! And it’s certainly meant that I’m not struggling to sleep… because when my head hits the pillow, I’m out!

Speaking of Champ (the sweet newborn we’re fostering), he gained 8 oz. in 9 days and is almost 6 pounds!!!! I am guessing he’s likely still smaller than this baby but I’m hoping he’ll catch up soon!

Since little Champ is still pretty much needing round-the-clock care/watching, we all take shifts. I typically go to bed early and then take the middle of the night shift and then go back to bed at 6:30 a.m. and sleep for a few hours.

Pretty much every morning when I wake up, I come out to the living room to see these two boys sitting like this. Silas loves caring for Champ and does such a good job with him!

A lot of you have asked for my thoughts on how we’re dealing with the Pandemic as parents. Every child is different and you know your kids best, so I’m only sharing how we are approaching things at our house…

Don’t dismiss your kids’ feelings. Feelings are not right or wrong and no one can tell you how you feel or don’t feel. It’s what you choose to do with those feelings that matters most. Give them space to talk about whatever it is they are feeling — anger, sadness, loneliness, grief, frustration, boredom.

Don’t preach sermons. I know it’s easy to want to use this as a way to teach valuable life lessons… but probably way more than sermons, your kids just need a listening ear and empathy. And trust me, your kids ARE going to learn many valuable lessons from this, but a listening ear goes a long way to help them feel seen, heard, and loved.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to get it all right. There is no manual on how to parent well through COVID-19. We’re all just doing the best we can do! When you feel overwhelmed or unsure how to handle a situation, it’s okay to acknowledge this and give yourself some grace. If you are a Christian, this is an amazing opportunity to cry out to the Lord for wisdom and direction for how to respond and love your kids well.

Do remember that you set the tone for your home. If you are extremely stressed and irritable, it’s going to trickle down to your kids and make them feel stressed and on edge. Make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin so that you are completely zapped and exhausted.

Do relax some of your usual rules/standards. We are allowing a lot more sleeping in, PJ-wearing, screen time, and junk food eating than usual. Yes, I probably just lost some followers over admitting that, but I feel like a lot has been taken away from our kids right now and as long you’re doing your chores and school, I’m pretty chill about a lot of other things in this season.

Do look for the humor in everything. We’ve laughed so hard as a family in the last few weeks — over so many ridiculous things. Laughter has been such good medicine for us and we’ve sought to find the funny in the ordinary.

I’ve fallen in love more with my husband with the birth of each of our kids, but I never knew how much I’d fall in love with him watching him love on our little Champ.

Y’all, this man has loved this precious boy 100% as his own. He has spent hours holding him, talking to him, loving on him. And my heart has been in a puddle getting to observe it.

The best part? Getting to watch Champ cooing back at him, “talking” to him, and soaking up the love and nurture.

I don’t know what Champ’s future holds long term, but I do know that all of our lives will forever be richer because of the opportunity to get to love on him. He has expanded each of our hearts in the most profound and beautiful ways.

(Note: I know many of you aren’t in a season or place where you could become foster parents. I totally, totally get that. If that’s you, can I just encourage you to instead ask yourselves, “What can we do?” There are so many needs all around us, especially in the foster care system. Could you donate time, money, or resources? Could you offer to buy diapers or dinner for a family who is fostering? Or maybe to just send a text to say, “How are you really doing today?” The more I talk to other foster parents, the more I realize how the support of others — even through a simple text of support — can mean the world!)

Real talk: I’ve had many moments in the last few weeks when I’ve wondered if I have what it takes to mother five kids well — a teenager, an almost teenager, a pre-teen, a medically fragile newborn, and another newborn who is due in the next few weeks.

I know lots of moms have more kids and more complex situations, but I’m not other moms, I’m me. And I know my own limitations and struggles.

But over and over again, I keep hearing God’s quiet reassurances to me: “Have I not carried you in the past? Have I not been faithful to you in the past? I have called you to this and I will be faithful and carry you in this. I am trustworthy and you are in the center of my will. I can’t promise it will be easy; but I can promise that I am WITH you.”

When we look at our circumstances and surroundings, we can feel overwhelmed. But when we looked to Jesus, we have courage to be overcomers… because we don’t have to do this life on our own, in our own strength.

I don’t know what battles or mountains you’re facing today. I don’t know the burdens you’re bearing. I don’t know the heaviness weighing on you today.

But I do know this: you don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to walk this by yourself. You can place your trust, your confidence, and your confidence in the One Who “will never, ever leave you or forsake you” and the One Who “goes with you to fight for you… and give you the victory.”

Thanks to @sincerelybykara and @hertrueworth for this timely graphic.

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28 Comments

  • Diana says:

    Thank you for sharing! Your last paragraph reminded me of one of my favorite verses– Deuteronomy 31:8. “The Lord himself goes ahead of you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” I love the picture of God being ahead of me–He’s already in the place I’m afraid of going to. Thanks for all the honest thoughts and Scripture truth to answer them.

  • Becky Roberts says:

    I have followed your blog for many many years, but I am so loving how God has directed you towards foster care. I look forward to your Monday updates. As the mom of a 19-year-old, who was adopted from foster care, I often wonder where we would be if he hadn’t had 5 placements before I got him at 17 months with his head drooping to one side from being left in a swing all the time. Your family is making Champ’s brain develop so much better in the frontal lobe. I think The Message version of Acts, “Put all of your trust in Master Jesus, then you will live as you were meant to live.” Safe travels in the next leg of your journey.

    • Thank you so much! Our kids are always celebrating his development milestones and asking for ideas on how they can help him reach the next one! I love their heart to pour into him and help him thrive! And it’s so fun to see him interacting with them!

    • Kimberly says:

      I so agree! Our daughter, adopted at 5 months old, is 10 now, and continues to have major frontal-lobe deficits from being chained in a bouncy seat 24/7 before she was removed to foster care.

      Developmental Pediatrician said she received far more damage from that Severe Neglect than from all the drugs and alcohol in utero!

      You all are giving Champ the VERY BEST start in life!!! I’ll continue to pray for all six of you!!! 😃

      • Kimberly says:

        Oops–my math was wrong! Im sorry!!

        I was thinking of both babies….so meant to say: All seven of you!!!
        🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

      • Thank you so very much for your encouragement! And my heart breaks for your daughter and so many other little ones who have experienced/are experiencing neglect. 🙁

  • Bobbie says:

    Amen Crystal!!!! Parenting 5 will just give you more opportunities to seek His help and grow your faith as you see Him helping 🙂 I think Mom’s get 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (pray without ceasing) more than anyone…..how desperately we need His help! And how faithful He is to give it. (Isaiah 40:11)

  • Claire says:

    I can’t believe you’ve lost readers just because you’ve relaxed your rules on junk food and screen times. I don’t understand people sometimes. I’m sure your kids aren’t eating Twinkies for every meal or spending 12 hours/day playing video games, so what’s the big deal?

    On another note, regarding what people can do to make a difference when they’re not able to foster: I’m not a foster mother, but I am an adoptive mother of a child who has an invisible disability (without going into much detail, for privacy reasons). My son is a bright and sweet child, but his social skills aren’t the greatest. It would be so helpful if other parents encouraged their kids to invite him to a birthday party on occasion, or a playdate. That is something people can do that would really make a difference, without having to make a huge commitment like foster parenting.

  • rose says:

    So I assumed when you talked of your “taking shifts” that that meant being the one near enough to hear his cry and also keep the feeding on schedule. Do you actually have to stay awake and keep an eye on him? I am a mom to a preemie who came home weighing under 5 lbs, but he was fine sleeping near me without me having to stay awake all night!
    I’m sure you can’t disclose the baby’s needs, but I’m just curious if you really have to be literally watching him 24/7?
    Either way, I think you are amazing! I find it SO hard to function when I don’t get sleep, I don’t know how people like you actually have a productive life on less sleep. A healthier body maybe? More prayer? Perhaps both… : )

    • If he gets into deep sleep, we can doze off… but he struggles to get into deep sleep a lot of the time because of some various health issues so mostly someone is awake with him round the clock because he’s needing to be held or closely watched/monitored.

      It should be getting better soon and we’ve seen some real progress in the last few days! I’m so thankful for the doctors/medical team who are walking with us and helping us in this. He’s so, so sweet and it’s worth every bit of lost sleep to get to pour into him and love on him.

      And God has been so faithful to help me to be able to function well on less sleep than I was getting and I see it as great practice for the upcoming few months when I’ll have two newborns! Plus, I’m so thankful for Kathrynne who willingly takes the 11-2 shift every night so Jesse and I can get a good block of sleep and then Jesse takes the 6:30-10 shift every morning so I can get another good block of sleep!

      • Beth says:

        Crystal,

        This speaks volumes about your family and how you’ve raised your children. I’ve always believed in letting what go that doesn’t fit as it will open up new a spot for someone new who needs to hear your message ( meaning those drill Sargent parents who are upset life is a bit more relaxed during this difficult time). Reading about your journey with a Champ and how your family is loving on him reminds me of our little Claribel. My mom did respite care for her when I was 7, she was born with half a brain but was just the most precious gift ever. I still to this day remember finding little things to make her smile ( mostly noises or touch-as she was blind) was the highlight of my day. This launched my mom’s 10 years as being a foster parent and is my goal to become one too.

        Watching my mom love on these children (who always needed extra care or attention) while never neglecting my sister and I. I truly admired her for that and know your children will feel the same.

        God Bless you and your family

        • That is so beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing! We are all learning and growing so much as a result of this and I think it is going to forever change our lives and hearts in beautiful ways!

  • Kandra Hawkins says:

    Thank you for the update Crystal! So excited to see the newest family member soon…but not too soon. I found a quote in my devotional that really struck me about of faithfulness of God. I have always heard that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” but it’s actually “God won’t give you more than HE can handle”…so many times during this I have thought “I can’t handle all the uncertainty” but I know I can with His help. And with my girls…I am so much more concerned with their mental health during this than any of their schoolwork, how much they are sleeping etc. That being said…they are doing amazing! House is cleaner than when they were going to school, both are cooking for the family, they are working out in our home gym and more. I know they miss their friends but I think this is a blessing in all of this craziness for our family!

  • Carrie K says:

    Thank you so much for loving Champ as your own and fostering him! It truly does take an incredibly special family to open their hearts and their homes.
    I love reading your Monday updates and look forward to them each week. Not only to hear how your pregnancy is, how Champ is doing but the reassuring words of God’s love for all of us. You remind me to believe in him and have helped to strengthen my own faith through yours. During the last month with the pandemic occurring, it has been stressful. I’m a mom of 2, a 13 year old and 9 year old. I teach first grade for a living. We went on Spring break the first full week of March and never returned. My heart has been so heavy over missing my littles (my students), worrying about their emotional and mental state through all this and worrying about how their family is doing. It has been a heavy weight on my shoulders. The last few weeks after reading your updates, I’ve felt lighter and closer to God. Being reminded of his love has helped ease that heaviness and has brought a peace to my soul. I pray everyday for my students and my own family and having that weekly check in from you helps keep me focused.
    I am also volunteer for CASA. I am currently an advocate for a an infant that is less than 2 months old. You mentioned in your post about if people are not in a place to foster ways to support those who are. I just want to add that, if you don’t feel like you can foster, look into being a CASA volunteer. Look in your area for local CASA organization. I have been doing it for a few years and it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Knowing I have been able to help make a difference in the life of a child has been profound. Consider becoming a volunteer yourself or even donating to your local CASA.
    I wish you all the best these last few weeks, you will all be in our prayers.
    Blessings~

  • Rebecca says:

    Wow. Perfect timing for this post. I used to check your site regularly back before 2013. Our family was raising support to move to Brazil (Amazon area) and traveling the country in a 200 sq ft RV. We moved to Brazil in December 2012 and then returned January 2019. We knew we had to find jobs to supplement our meager $1000/month we were able to live on in Brazil. We have been working at a non-profit organization called King’s Home in Alabama since March 2019. It’s a foster care facility and my husband and I are the garden directors. We have sessions with the youth that teaches them gardening and cooking skills, and sometimes helps them deal with their life situations.

    It made my heart so happy to see y’all being foster parents!!!! And congratulations on your pregnancy. Praying all goes well. I will need to visit your site more often again. 😄

  • Patti Smith says:

    Seeing all the wonderful baby pictures of Champ just warms my heart. You look absolutely radiant…wishing you and your family the very best.

  • Marcia Chesser says:

    Your pictures of the family w/ Champ are precious!!

  • diane says:

    I’m praying for your babies and your delivery and peace there. The Lord prompted me to pray for you last night before bed. I know how we are avoiding going out and I know it would be hard for me to not be anxious about delivering a newborn right now.

    • Thank you so much for your prayers! I’m so grateful that God continues to give me peace. We’re praying for health for both Jesse and I so that he can be at the birth! (If he has a fever/sickness of any kind, they won’t likely allow him to be at the birth.)

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