(Note: I've tried to make this post flow straight for you, but my pregnant head isn't lining things up very well... thanks for flexing/flowing with me here!)
First, here's the big thing: God's provision for our birth plan.
We have been praying for months for the Lord's leading and provision for where to have this sweet baby that's growing in me. We knew He wouldn't leave us hanging, but time isn't long now and we have three big kids (if almost 5yo and under count as big!) to plan for along with the zillions of other very weighty medical, cultural, financial, logistic, timing factors to consider.
I am a passionate believer that the birth of a baby should be beautiful. It should be. I know it isn't always but I believe we're wired to hope deeply for life, to hope urgently and desperately for beauty in life from the start. It makes the grief of when a birth isn't beautiful all the worse, but we persist to hope still. For my longing for a peaceful, beautiful birth, it just won't work to go to a local hospital.
The plan that the Lord has provided for the birth of our wildly loved K4 is both beautiful and humblingly, trust-demanding.
My best friends in town have all told me that our city rates as "not very modern" among China's cities (still, we've got 7 million people!) and I think it shows the clearest in its hospitals. I've visited four in the past few months and none of them has left be smiling. Smoky waiting rooms, disgusting bathrooms, more people than I thought would fit, no men (fathers) allowed in the communal delivery rooms, very poor facilities, very high c-section rates and even higher infection rates with it, and medical practices that I simply have a very hard time accepting, submitting to (that honestly seem downright wrong a lot of times.)
I love China and I want to live here long, serve here humbly and joyfully. And to aid toward this end, we decided to try all we could to find housing in the capital to be able to deliver at the private hospital there where May and John were born. But only a few doors looked open, and eventually all of them have closed completely.
The past month or two we've prayed more and more that the Lord would make us open, possibly to something new, something we hadn't been looking for. We were imagining going to some strange city where we didn't know anyone.... or, we didn't know what to imagine.
But then came the unexpected message back from a friend, the wonderful midwife who delivered Marian: "I have a friend who is interested in coming." I cried when I blubbered to Matt on the phone, "Even if this ends up being another closed door, I'm so encouraged to know that this is even a possibility for us."
And the possibility is becoming reality. This sweet midwife has purchased tickets to fly around the world mid March to deliver our baby here. She had the perfect gap in clients at her midwifery practice in the states and she'll be staying with us for about a month and assisting with another birth of an ex-pat friend who is due 3 days before me.
I tremble every time I think of it: that the Lord would answer our prayers so generously as to provide this graciously! That she would fly this far, stay this long, for us, for this precious little one (and one more)! And every time I pray for this, I cannot help but pray that this birth would somehow bring more life along with it.... salvation life for friends near us here. I'm asking the Lord for grace that somehow they would hear and see God work in this birth, see Him set Himself before their eyes as True Life, Giver, Lord that He is... We pray it will be so.
I know there will be some of you who, out of love and concern for us, will disagree with our decision to have a homebirth here. It's true, local backup care is enormously undesirable and we hope not to need it, but if we do, we will trust the Lord to lead us through that too. (Babies are born here all the time. It can be done!) We are grateful for your love and we have peace to go with what the Lord has miraculously made possible for us and what we believe he has provided for us for good purpose.
There is no other circumstance in my life where I have felt that there is More. Trust. Needed. I'm glad for that. We So Need God.
We are awed, humbled, desperate, delighted, grateful beyond words, and eager as can be to meet this precious little baby! Thank you for your hopeful anticipation too and for your prayers with us and for us!
Here are a few more random pregnancy tidbits:
Last week I bought something for our littlest one- the very first, the only thing yet: a pack of itsy-bitsy newborn diapers. It's so exciting to think that this little one will be arriving soon! Less than 7 weeks now... (actually, I'm mostly counting the days till Kara's arrival (Mar 12) - anytime after that is good!)
I had high hopes for this, my last pregnancy, that we would get a picture each week, but it hasn't happened.... at all. I think we have to get some shots here before long so we can take them into the embassy along with baby's passport application, to prove that this little one really came out of me!
Supposedly varicose veins are common on ankles during pregnancy but I'm quite sure my ankle could win awards... "The Most Discolored Ankle" I've ever seen anywhere, on anyone. Truly. I've had a few days that the veins have lightened considerably so I'm choosing to be optimistic that they won't remain quite this dark/ severe post-birth. Yikes!
Calories feel hard to come by here. Either for my idea of wanting to eat somewhat healthily (local snacks don't work) or for tiredness to bake another batch/loaf of... I'm very often, very hungry. (This mama just can't quite fill my tank with fruit and raisins.) I think I've gained about half as much weight as I did when I was pregnant with Isaiah in the states. This little one feels like a wiggly brick tucked into the front of me. Solid.
And oh.... we are so grateful, so excited to meet this wiggler!!