10 Ways Pregnancy Crushed Melissa’s Dignity: Part 6 – Crazy Hormones

If you haven’t yet read the intro to this series, you should do so before reading on for some context.

Just in case you forgot that I (Sean) was somehow involved in the whole baby-making process, Melissa and I thought it would be interesting for me to weigh in on her pregnancy from my perspective.

I think we can all agree that hormones are a potent and terrifying force in the human body. Just think back to that horribly awkward phase in middle school when your acne was so substantial that your pimples were producing prolific sub-pimple populations of their own. Poor Melissa, when she became pregnant it was like hitting puberty for the second time. Just a couple weeks into the pregnancy and BOOM, her entire body looked like a pepperoni pizza. Actually, I think it was even worse than puberty…I mean, she was getting zits in places I didn’t even know you could get zits. Sadly, Melissa was so sick during her pregnancy I think the only thing that ever “glowed” were her pimples. Typically Melissa doesn’t get many pimples (previously she had only had like 3 non-face zits in her whole life), so you can imagine why it was a shock to her system and a little dignity crushing.

Moreover, Melissa has a young-looking face and oftentimes gets mistaken for a teenager. Aside from the fact that pimples are just irritating, they further indicated to strangers walking by that she was, in fact, 16-years-old. We kept wondering why we were getting so many condescending “raised eyebrow” stares at the mall one day, when we finally realized that Melissa’s already young-looking face coupled with the army of pimples made us look like the “impregnated teen by creepy older man” scenario.

The specific hormone associated with pregnancy is called “hCG,” and in the first 10 weeks after becoming pregnant, the amount of hCG in a woman’s body will double every two days. In other words, there was over 10 BILLION times more hCG in Melissa’s body after just ten weeks of pregnancy. In my mind that was a perfectly good excuse for any and all irrational behavior exhibited by my wife…and there was a lot to choose from.

Under normal circumstances, I cry much more often than Melissa. In fact, I think know I cried at the end of Terminator 2 when Ah-nold destroyed himself in molten iron and sacrificed his own life to save humans from the threat of an evil robot takeover in the future. So you can imagine my surprise when Melissa began crying more often than myself…and the sources of her tears much less meaningful (if this is possible), than a robot laying down his life for his friends.

Have you seen all those “first response” pregnancy test advertisements? I could have saved the 20 bucks because I knew she was pregnant three days before she peed on that “first response” stick. What gave it away? She was sobbing in the shower with absolutely no explanation as to why she was crying. I’ve heard girls sometimes cry for no reason, but this was a first in our relationship. A few weeks later, I walked into our bedroom to find Melissa lying face down on the bed, her tears soaking the bedspread as she sobbed. Concerned, I rushed over and exclaimed “what is wrong!?” Her reply was something to the effect of: “when I was walking to the grocery store, my legs got itchy…and now I’m really tired and sad.” Now Melissa prides herself on the fact that she is not typically subject to mood swings, irritability, and emotional overreaction, so there was certainly a loss of dignity when she felt her emotions were spiraling out of control.

While “irrational emotionalism” is a well-known side effect of hormonal changes, I would like to point out a much less documented, yet no less mind-boggling effect which I have labeled “obsessive indecisiveness.” If a decision relating to the baby needed to be made, regardless of how small or inconsequential, there was suddenly a minimum of 20 hours that would be devoted to research, deliberation, and agonizing comparisons before a conclusion could be made. That ended phase 1. Phase 2 commenced with changing our minds, then compiling 100 hours worth of additional data to justify the change. I think phase 3 was crying, accompanied by an argument about why the decision was taking so long. Finally, in phase 4, we would re-change our minds back to the original decision to go with the jungle-themed jumper, rather than the forest-themed jumper. Oh, and when I say change “our” minds…I really mean that one mind was changing, and the other mind was shooting itself in the face.

This pattern was manifest most notably in the process of registering for gifts. We registered on Amazon.com, which is a wonderful site. The only problem is that the vast wealth of product information and incredible variety of choices can create a hormone-induced feeding frenzy for the obsessive-indecisive mind. For most products on amazon, I am impressed if there are more than 100 customer reviews, but there is actually a baby toy on amazon with over 1,700 opinions. It is a rubber giraffe that squeaks. That’s it. This is how I know that obsessive-indecisive disorder is real, and it affects millions of pregnant women every year. Your loved ones may be suffering from this condition if they make comments like: “I think the extra $2500 is worth it for the organic crib sheets. After all, the cotton was grown in the Himalayan mountains with classical music playing in the background. And it is SIDS-resistant. And it is so much softer. And it will smell better. And it will make our child smarter. And ultimately, without it, our baby will surely die…”

Melissa said in another post that her pregnancy was a very long 9 months…it was a very long 9 months indeed. Who do you think was her 24-7 therapist and personal janitor for all those messes she’s been writing about?

The other 9 ways pregnancy crushed my dignity:

Part 1 – Constipation
Parts 2 & 3 – Appetite and Weight Gain
Part 4 – Mourning Sickness
Part 5 – Incontinence
Parts 7, 8, & 9 – Pain, Pain, Pain
Part 10, the Pinnacle – Diarrhomit

Also, read about Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Birth Story: Rated PG-13 for Language, Nudity, and Drugs 🙂

And here’s the adventures we had after Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Hospital (Part 1)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Neighbs (Part 2)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Breastfeeding Blues (Part 3)

Caleb’s Afterbirth – Body Slammed (Part 4)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Am I an Incompetent Parent (Part 5)

Who’s askin’ whom?

I have to laugh at how backwards we often get things. Jesus was constantly dealing with how mixed-up many of our common assumptions are. Most people in His day thought that if you were rich, then God must favor you (and many people still believe this). So when He said that it was difficult for a rich man to enter heaven…His disciples pretty much freaked out. They were still following the “rich = favored by God” formula and thought, “Wow, if it is hard for the rich (God-favored) people to get into heaven, it is going to be impossible for us.” But Jesus said, “Nope, you have things backward…many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Think of all the times Jesus had to correct people’s backward thinking! We think it makes sense to strive after safety, but He said, “if you try and save your life, you will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There are tons of examples: Loving your enemies? Having joy during trials and difficulty? Not worrying when it looks like all hope is lost? Jesus just turns our perspectives upside down.

Lately if feels like I am finding more and more of these areas where Christian’s perspectives are clouded, and there is one in particular that cuts right to the heart of our faith. Most people who have been around churches or Christians for very long have probably heard about the concept of “asking Jesus into your heart.” It might surprise you (as it surprised me), that the phrase never shows up anywhere in the Bible. I am not saying that the concept is some kind of sacrilegious theology, but I do think it might (if we are not careful), perpetuate one of those backward perspectives. Again, I am not discounting each individual’s need to make an intentional decision to follow Christ, I am only questioning how we view ourselves in light of God.

If I ask Jesus into MY heart…then it is all about me. That is not how the Bible talks about those who are saved. Again, it is backward. It is not about us asking Jesus into our heart, it is more like Jesus asking us into His heart. If you remember the story where He compares the Kingdom of heaven to a banquet, you will recall that God was the One throwing the banquet, not us. We are not inviting Jesus to our banquets because our banquets are LAME compared to His. This is the reason I felt like writing about the “asking Jesus into our hearts” concept. I think we unintentionally fall into a trap when we talk that way. We can begin to think, “God is probably really excited about me right now. I have a sweet thing going on and I totally remembered to invite Him to be a part of it.” That is wrong.

God will never be content to be a PART of our lives. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Well, I have to take care of work, family, my faith in Jesus, etc. ” Even if we put Him at the top of our list, it is just not the way we are supposed to think about His invitation. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and THE LIFE. It is HIS Kingdom we become a part of, HIS Glory we need to be concerned with, and HIS Power through which we operate. There are a few places in Scripture that talk about Christ being in us, but the vast majority emphasize a different perspective:

  • Romans 6:11 – In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
  • 2 Cor 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  • Gal 3:27 – for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

It is easy to notice that the pattern of Scripture points toward the fact that we are in Jesus and it is all about Him. It is frightening how many times I have read over those verses and still thought my life is about me. I am going to try and stop inviting Jesus to my banquet – a small dirty table with a few scraps of rotten food, and begin accepting His invitation to the real feast.

Salva Vida

Salva Vida means “lifesaver” in Spanish. It also happens to be the name of the most common beer in Honduras. It was interesting, because everywhere I traveled in Honduras…Salva Vida was available, however in all those places, if I had tried to drink the tap water I would have become sick. It seems like they should have called their bottled water Salva Vida, but I guess clean beer made it to Honduras before clean water.

A couple weeks ago I returned from Honduras where a small team of volunteers helped a hospital in Olanchito install a filtration system so that they could have access to clean water. They have a maternity ward there, and I just kept thinking how scared I would be if Melissa was going to have a baby AND she might get sick from the water while at the hospital. Maybe that is why the infant mortality rates in Honduras are over 5 times greater than here in the US. By the time we left, the hospital could use and drink the water without the fear of sickness/death, and that was a pretty cool feeling.

One thing that surprised me about the job was that it was not at all complicated or difficult. It makes sense though once I think about it. A very basic need should have a relatively basic solution. When I think of the world “water crisis” it seems like an insurmountable problem (which is actually not far from the truth), but for a very different reason than I had initially assumed. I guess I was thinking that facing a big problem like the clean water crisis meant it was going to be technically challenging, but that is really not the case here. We know how to make clean water, it will just cost us something to get it where it needs to go. The main challenge lies in getting the people who know how to do it to pay attention to people who don’t, and then commit the resources to get it done. We have the ability and the resources, all we lack currently is the will. It’s crazy to think about all the simple necessities we take for granted and how quickly we are able to forget about those who don’t have them. I am really glad I was privileged to be a part of addressing this issue (even in a small way), and I really hope that God is not done using me in this capacity!

Below are a couple pictures I took on the trip. The top one is from the day we arrived. It was 106 degrees and humid, and that was in March! The bottom one is a picture of the wiring job for the existing pump system. There was no “safety code” so they just cut some wires, twisted them together, and wrapped it up in a bunch of tape. Those red wires just hanging out at the top are 480 volts…enough to throw you across a room and kill you fyi. I also have a cool video I want to share but I’m still searching for it so I’ll put that up once I find it.

Flying to Honduras Tonight!

Water from Cornerstone Church on Vimeo.

Water is life, and because we have no water, life is miserable.
-a voice from Kenya

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school. Additionally, collecting water puts them at greater risk of sexual harassment and assault. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water. Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old. Some other interesting statistics I found include:

-At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
-Children in poor environments often carry approximately 1,000 parasitic worms in their little bodies at any given time. Some of these worms can grow up to 3 ft. in length and once full grown will burrow out a person’s skin causing crippling pain and infections.
-An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
-Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.

These statistics are incredibly heartbreaking and the clean water crisis that the developing world continues to endure has been weighing heavily on my heart for awhile now. So you can imagine my excitement when the opportunity to actually go do something about it crossed my path! The opportunity came up through an organization called Assist International (run by my old pastor, Tim Reynolds). Assist International is a humanitarian organization that provides assistance and relief supplies to the poor and needy in developing nations. One of the many projects they take on is setting up systems to provide clean water. Since graduating in 2006 with a degree in mechanical engineering, it has been a dream of mine to use my skills to meet tangible needs in this world. When it turned out that the two years of experience I gained in the petrolium industry (before we joined staff with Campus Crusade) was directly applicable to this project, and Assist needed someone with engineering experience to help, AND I had the time and freedom to do so… I knew that God was at work and I jumped at the chance. A bonus on top of everything is that because this trip is sponsored byGeneral Electric, I will be receiving a large stipend for my work to put towards our financial goal for Campus Crusade!

So tonight my journey to Honduras begins. Tomorrow I will be in a city called Olanchito, working at a hospital that currently uses dirty water. Specifically we will be installing a water filtration system (in layman’s terms…it filters all the bad stuff out of the water) – check that bad boy out below! I’ll be in Honduras for 5 days and by next week, if all goes as planned, they will have access to filtered and purified water for their patients. I am so privileged and excited to be a part of this amazing work to bring the gospel to many in Olanchito in a tangible way. It’s so exciting to imagine all the lives that will literally be saved and changed just through this one system! “For…I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” -Jesus

Please pray for safe travels and safety within the country as well (Honduras is a country with much political unrest). Check back in a couple weeks for pictures and thoughts on the whole experience!

Kingdom of Couches

I like this video because it got me thinking about how we spend our time. I started researching and I found something that boggled my mind so bad I just had to write about it. In 2009 the Nielsen rating system found that the average American was watching almost 5 hours of television per day. Um ok wait a second. When they say that is the average, that means about half of us are watching MORE that that! I was trying to wrap my mind around what that actually means, so as usual (since I am an engineer at heart) I started doing some calculations. Think of this scenario: Let’s say we moved all of our TV watching to the end of the year. If you assume that we had to sleep 8 hours each night it would mean that for the last 112 days of every year we would do nothing but watch TV and sleep. Even more disturbing is that by the end of an 80 year life span, it would accumulate to more than 24 years of doing nothing but watching TV and sleeping! I mean DAAAANNNNGGGG. How is this even possible? It is like choosing to get a lobotomy for a third of your waking life. Can you even imagine what could be done with that much time?

Wasting time is something that has come up for me and Melissa more than once and it is something we have to be intentional about keeping in check. Sometimes we just feel tired and it seems like a great way to relax at the end of the day. Or sometimes there are particular shows that are so entertaining we don’t want to miss any of them. I am not saying that we should never watch TV, but when we are wasting such a huge chunk of our lives watching TV instead of spending time with *real* people and actually investing in relationships…it is heartbreaking to God. What it says is that being entertained, or “relaxing” after work is more important than living and loving as Christ did. Because it can be a struggle for us to choose the better option and because we have felt so convicted in this area, we have decided to take action by choosing not to get TV service so that the temptation is removed. Although we have taken action to address the area of time management in our lives, we certainly by no means use all our time perfectly/wisely but we are truly trying to get better at it.

We are living in a culture where isolation is the norm, and I think TV is one of isolation’s greatest allies. It is dangerous because it makes us feel like we are connected, but there is no real interaction of any kind. It is like eating Styrofoam that is flavored like a thanksgiving dinner. You feel full and satisfied up until the moment you die. In fact, I bet a lot of people know more about the characters on their favorite TV shows than they do about their own family or “friends.” We need to genuinely live life together as God called us to! Read through the Bible and see for yourself that it is NONSENSE unless we have some genuine relationships and community as a context. I am afraid that entertainment like TV, video games, facebook, etc. is an enormous hindrance to the kind of connected fellowship that God longs for his people to have with Him and with one another. 

What if we replaced those 5 hours of TV watching a day with getting to really know a neighbor or coworker? Or volunteering our time to those who desperately need help or companionship…like volunteering at the local homeless shelter, visiting sick patients in the hospital, or writing politicians to encourage them to create legislation to fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. Or what if we actually got to know our own family members and asked how they’re really doing and what they’ve been struggling with lately. Or most importantly, spending time with and intimately getting to know the Creator of the universe who longs to know us personally and spend more than 5 minutes with us each day. The truth is that we really could make a difference in this world and truly change lives with our time like the video says, but we’re choosing not to because we’d rather zone out and be entertained than put in the effort it requires to love people tangibly. And ironically, even though the latter takes far more work and sacrifice, when you truly experience it…you realize it is FAR better than the former.

Not only are we missing out on experiencing the blessings of intimacy with one another/God and the joy that comes with loving and serving others, we are all going to stand before God one day and give an account of how we used what He gave us. Remember the story of the “talents”? You can read it in Matthew 25, but I will just say that God was rightfully angry with the guy who did nothing with what was given to him. If I have to tell God that I used 24 of the years he gave me to veg, well it is going to be more than a little embarrassing. It would be devastating. Because maybe God will go on to show me all that He had planned and hoped I would accomplish and the lives I would have affected if I had chosen to invest my time in eternal things rather than squandering it. Because the truth is…there are only two things that will last forever – God and people.

Half-Conscious and Hilarious

The other day I woke up early (well earlier than normal) to answer a phone call. Melissa is, well, lets just say a heavy sleeper but I was pretty loud. (You know, if you talk a little louder it sounds like you have been awake for more than 35 seconds.) During the conversation she kept rolling over making frustrated huffs and snorts… shooting me an occasional dirty look.

So when I climbed back into bed she glared right at me and said, “I am so mad at you right now!”

“Oh really?” I asked, knowing that she was talking in her sleep and hoping I could keep the conversation going.

“Yeah, the purple and green dinosaur won’t even sing for you anymore!”, she replied.

At that point I started laughing for about a half of a minute, until she continued with, “And neither will the men in sweaters!”

To be fair to her, I have to explain that it turns out not to be as crazy as it sounded. The day before, Melissa was reading a book that was talking about children’s TV shows like Barney and Mr. Rogers. What’s more, Melissa talks in her sleep all the time. Somehow she can go into a half-conscious state where her eyes are open and she can even walk around but is totally asleep and doesn’t remember what she said or did the next morning. I love it when that happens… it’s never a dull moment! Check back in the future for more sleep talking stories!