Obligatory 'it's a new year' post

I wasn't ready for 2014. I didn't know I wasn't, but looking back now I realize there's really nothing I could have done to prepare myself for last year. 

It was a roller-coaster year. 

Many of you kept up with us through this blog, so you know how much our life has changed. The days and weeks and months I didn't write were due in large part to monotony and the complete inability to describe life as it was. Even without those posts though you probably know the gist of our year. 

Then came the culmination of our year-of-changing-all-things: finding out I was pregnant. 

When I first started feeling the symptoms in late October of what I later found out to be pregnancy, I mentally denied its probability. For three weeks after the first symptoms, I was in a state of anxious denial, as if willing the truth not to be. When I took the test and the two solid lines immediately appeared, my brain literally shut down for a few minutes. It was early morning and Kevin and I were preparing to go visit friends for a before-Thanksgiving feast. I walked out of the bathroom, test in hand, and set it in front of Kevin's bowl of cereal. 

Kevin had known that there was a possibility I was pregnant, but as neither of us really believed it was probable, we didn't think too hard about what we would do if it were a reality. When I set the test in front of him, his first response was 'I don't know what this means...' during which I was realizing that he probably had no idea what two lines instead of one actually meant. 'It's positive.' I said. He just looked at me for a moment and then burst out laughing. We then sat stunned for a few minutes, alternately laughing and looking at the test again, trying to wrap our brains around what we just discovered. We talked about how insane it was and how unreal it felt.

We told our friends over Thanksgiving dinner later that day. We had to share our news, even though I wasn't sure how to feel about it yet. I feel bad now about how I sprung it on Rebekah (so sorry about that!), but casually slipping it into conversation ('yea and I also found out this morning that i'm pregnant') elicited just as joyful a response as building the suspense. By the end of the day, however, we were both convinced that the test had been faulty (because we couldn't possibly be pregnant! we weren't prepared for that!) and Kevin decided to go get another the next morning. 

When the next test proved positive as well, it started to sink in. Kevin's response to our news: It's Christmas morning. I wish the baby could be here right away! My response to our news: panic. What would we do with a baby? Where would we put it? How in the world will I do this? I'm not ready to go through pregnancy and birth and have everything in my body change. This wasn't part of the plan at all. I don't think I can mentally readjust- it's just too much. I started spiraling pretty quickly.

We shall call mid November through mid December The Month We Do Not Speak Of. It was not a good month. Mentally I was extremely conflicted. Anxiety was at an all-time high and depression at an all-time low. The symptoms of pregnancy were mainly mild constant nausea and extreme exhaustion (and of course the sky-rocketting hormones of early pregnancy) . Those symptoms combined with complete lack of sun (and 4:15pm sunsets and 8:30am sunrises), very little community experience, zero spiritual life, hitting the sixth-month-gone-extreme-homesickness mark, and rarely leaving the apartment, created the perfect storm for depression and anxiety. 

God was really kind to me even in the midst of all my wallowing. He orchestrated trips and puppy deliveries for my parents so that they would be in Northeastern Pennsylvania during the same weekend that we would be arriving to spend Christmas with Kevin's family. Because they would be there and staying with Kevin's family as well, we decided to tell everyone about our news a couple weeks earlier than originally planned. Just being able to tell our families gave me such a sense of well-being and reassurance. The knowledge that, even thousands of miles away, I will be supported and cared and prayed for whole-heartedly was such a comfort. My Month We Do Not Speak Of quickly started coming to an end as we told more people and the response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. 

Today as I sit in our apartment in Badhoevedorp I've reached a place of contentment. God has been good. He's walked with me and given me people and tools to help me overcome panic-attack-level anxiety and helped me understand and find ways to work through and overcome my forms of depression. He's given me a sympathetic and understanding warrior-husband who, although he may not understand what I struggle with, chooses to ask deep questions, not freak out, and battle in prayer for me when I feel too weak to battle for myself. He's put us in a great community surrounded by people who are committed to serving God and each other. He's given me the opportunity to further my knowledge by taking classes at the seminary with Kevin. And He's given us a precious new life to care for and love and be involved with!

I know each day will be different with new revelations and new highs and lows. I know that anxiety and depression will creep in again and I'll need to fight them to prevent being overcome. But through this holiday season I've realized that this coming year, in 2015, I can count on God to lead me through the hard parts. I can count on him to bring the right people at the right time. To surround me when I feel like I'm in the depths. To be there even if I don't feel his presence. If I've learned one thing from 2014, it's that God Never Leaves. Even when there are days when all I can do is repeat that phrase, at least I can know it's true. He NEVER leaves. 

So I'm now looking forward to 2015. Life will change. In huge ways. But in a lot of ways life will stay the same. I'm looking forward to each new stage of life that pregnancy and birthing our child will bring. 

{Quick side note on the previous sentence: I personally know many women who can't get pregnant or have had multiple miscarriages, some late term. While I'm excited about the new life God has gifted us, I'm aware of the pain that our announcement inevitably brings to these women. While I can't and wouldn't (and they would never want me to) apologize for our news, I do empathize with them. I've seen the years of struggle and frustration and tears they have gone through. I only wish say this to them: Even during this time of celebration for us, we see your pain and weep with you. I can now more tangibly understand the pain a miscarriage must bring, and I can and will pray more directly for your comfort and healing. We haven't forgot about this pain in your life- our experience actually brings us closer to understanding how difficult this must be for you. We love you and will hope with you.}

2015, I'm ready. I'm hopeful. I'm peace-filled. I'm open to change. I'm excited to begin.