We’ve begun to read more about what goes into actually carrying 2 instead of 1 and the information, reality, and struggles have become more real with every passing minute.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:8-9
This morning we went to have our first ultrasound for Baby Dykstra #2. We were so excited to find out if we were going to have a girl or a boy. My mind set going into this ultrasound was much different than the last one with Maebyn. When we found out we were having a girl last year I think I almost cried, and not from excitement. It’s embarrassing… but it’s the truth. I wanted a boy so bad and I was somewhat heartbroken that Maebyn was a girl when the technician let the cat out of the bag. I’m not proud of my response but like I said, that’s where I was and it took me a while to get over it. I don’t think I truly got over it until she was born. The day I met Maebyn I realized it didn’t matter if she was a boy or a girl, but that she was mine. I was in love and that love has only increased each and every day. Me and MaK say all the time that we can’t even imagine having a boy first – we’re thankful God knew what He was doing in our family and it was better than what we wanted to “plan” ourselves.
So this morning we went to the same ultra sound place, sat in the same room and looked at the same screen. I was determined to be excited no matter if it was a boy or a girl. Deep down inside though, I knew I still wanted a boy. But, in all honesty, I was OK with a girl because then Maebyn would have an almost twin sister. I put Maebyn on my lap as we eagerly awaited the big screen to light up and show us our new family member. The technician rubbed the warm jelly over Mak’s over inflated belly (I could tell Maeby was excited because she was bouncing up and down on my legs) – the tension was mounting! I was trying my best not to drop her because I was shaking so bad with all the nerves that were racing through my body.
As the ultrasound started, the technician paused, looked at us and said “Is this your first ultra sound?” We said yes and then she asked, “And how far along are you?”. MaK looked a bit nervous but calmly replied “17 weeks”. The technician moved the device to get a better look, then stuttered through the next phrase, “Well… there are two babies in here, guys…” Say what!? Can you count again, please? Trust the Lord, give Him control of how many children we will have, trust that He will provide. These are all things I posted in my blog when we announced we were pregnant and today these statements have started to be truly tested. The technician continued, “And, guess what… these two little ones are sharing a placenta and appear to be identical… yep, identical twin girls!”
I don’t know how to accurately describe my emotions. I’m mostly excited, somewhat nervous, and just in awe of what is going on. Needless to say, I was so in shock from the news that the sex of the babies really seemed unimportant (still can’t believe I just typed “babies“). It hit me a couple minutes later that I would be the father of 3 baby girls. Not to mention, because MaK will probably deliver earlier with the twins – three baby girls under one years old. I’m proud of my reaction this time. I was disappointed we aren’t having a boy, but this time I am elated at the opportunity just to be blessed with another child, and then another one again.
We’ve always wanted twins but I’m not sure we would have picked to have three under one. If the goal for our family was to live comfortably and have kids but still have time for ourselves this would be a difficult situation to undertake. This season will be difficult, exhausting, scary, and filled with unknowns. However, if increasing our families faith is the ultimate goal, this situation will be one that will force our faith to grow as we watch where the Lord leads. There are many unknowns right now. We’ll need a new car to fit three car seats, we’ll need more strollers and whatever else you need for babies times three and most importantly… we’ll need renewed faith each day that God has us in this season for a purpose. God is on the move and we can feel it in a deep, deep way today. Our hope is that as the unknowns continue to grow so will our faith. We have no idea what we are about to enter into but there is an intense excitement that is welling up in MaKenzie and I both as we get the opportunity to trust in the Lord on a deeper level.
Praise the Lord for 2 for the price of 1.
The Dykstra Family
When I thought about being a stay at home dad, one of the most alluring advantages that first popped into my mind was MARCH MADNESS. Having the time to sit and watch all the basketball in March… I mean, come on, that’s just too good to be true. As I’m typing I’m already thinking about tomorrow and it’s slightly embarrassing how giddy I am. I can’t stop smiling. Thursday and Friday are already mapped out in my head, I’m in for a really good end of the week. I almost feel bad because I am going to have so much fun and MaKenzie will be at work. Undoubtedly, my sheer joy for Thursday and Friday will be coupled with a twinge of guilt as I wish MaK could share in the excitement. Although Kentucky is out already, so she might not be the best companion to have around the house during game time.
So… here I am, a stay at home dad. My responsibilities are great but Maebyn has been an easy baby. It’s made my transition into full-time parenting pretty seamless but that is all about to change. Coming September 6 (MaK & my bother Ryan’s birthday) – or before, if it’s like last time – we are adding another member to the family. Yes, MaKenzie is pregnant. Yes, we know they will only be about 12 months apart. Yes, we were trying to have another baby (what do you think we do all day when MaK works from home?). There has been a lot of different responses to our announcement and even more opinions about this “Irish Twin”… as for us, we couldn’t be more excited that God has blessed our family with another member.
Why have kids so close together? Well, we battled with this question after Maebyn was born. Go back on birth control, don’t go back on birth control, that was the question. We began to wrestle with what it looked like to trust God with the amount of children He wanted us to have. We both have a great desire to have a big family but we still had/ have doubts, issues and just a plain lack of faith in what really trusting God in this area looks like. I mean come on, most of us carefully plan, prepare, and make sure the situation is right before we consider having children, right? We were no different. We waited to try and have Maebyn until the time felt “right” – money, job situations, and enough time to have fun just the two of us. To us, the careful planning felt like a lack of trust, so after Maebyn was born we decided that we would surrender control and stay off of birth control (Please read that as a conviction for our family – not a blanket statement we believe everyone should live by. MaK and I both believe families are called in many different directions, if there’s anyone who embraces the “not normal” to what our culture suggests, it’s us). A little more than 3 months later, MaK was pregnant again. Uh oh, I want the control back. Like, now…. It seemed like a good idea at the time but two babies only a year apart? Yeah, I didn’t know if I was ready for that.
Now you know where all these stories about MaK being sick stem from. The first nearly four months have been rough on her, to say the least. She’s been sick, working, and parenting all the while carrying another baby. Trusting the Lord is a nice thing to talk about but it’s difficult to walk through when you seem to be in over your head. Most of this has fallen on the shoulders of MaKenzie and I am proud of the faith that she has lived out each day through this time of life. It would be easy to abandon our vision for a big family and say this is too much right now. She didn’t. And I’m so proud of her.
So, why have a big family and why subject ourselves to the stress of having children so close together? These are questions we have been wrestling with for the last couple months. Our resolution has been this… our culture tends to view children as a burden. They drain our time, energy, and finances. In fact, I remember talking with some co-workers at Lowes when MaK was pregnant with Maebyn when one suggested (in all seriousness) to go ahead and name our first born “Financial Burden”, since at the end of the day “that’s exactly what kids are”. We are trying to believe that a child is the greatest asset that our family could be blessed with. We are not in control of the womb (yes, we are aware of what causes a baby to be made) but pregnancy is not guaranteed. Each and every conception, whether it turns into a “take home” baby or not, is a blessing beyond measure. The gift of new life, entrusted to us from God. So why do we try and prevent something the Lord is trying to bless us with? Are we nervous about our time, energy, and finances… Umm… is the new Pope Catholic? In a word, YES, but if The Lord will bless us with children, will He not also make a way to provide? Our hope says yes but as we walk through this season of life everyday is a challenge to believe that this is true.
As we continue to walk through this adventure of life MaKenzie and I are trying to strengthen our families faith. Walking in obedience to what The Lord has placed on our hearts whether or not it coincides with what we feel in our day to day life. Our hope is that through this one area of surrender we will have compelling examples, not of our own strength, but how The Lord was faithful and that He can be trusted. It’s with this hope we pray that He will also begin to take control of the other areas in our life we are still scared to surrender. This could be the last biological child we have, or just the second of many more to come. All we know is the Lord is telling a story in and through our family and our goal is to trust He knows how to tell the story much better than we do.
While still working at Nationwide, MaKenzie and I started rehabbing the house we bought. It was a lot of work but I learned a lot through the process. When I quit Nationwide I started the search for a new job. When nothing turned up I decided to work at Lowes while I continued to look for a new career. I thought I’d at least be able to get some discounts on supplies as we worked to finish our house. Needless to say, I was still a long ways off from where I’d thought I’d be after graduating from college. It was 4 years down the road and I was making less than what I did during the summers in college. MaKenzie and I spent many a nights talking about my dissatisfaction with where life seemed to be taking me. What was I doing? Why couldn’t I find a job? With a kid on the way I decided to take a crack at flipping a house in hopes of turning it into a business. We started the house while I was still working at Lowes and sold it shortly after Maebyn was born. It was a blessing and something we hope to continue to do but, for right now, it’s not something that I could turn into a career.
After all this, I somewhat begrudgingly accepted my responsibility to stay home with our daughter. I wanted my daughter to have a parent around at all times I just didn’t want it to be me. I was thankful that our daughter did not have to go to daycare, I just didn’t want to be the one staying home. I wanted to be the provider, I wanted the satisfaction of providing, and I was jealous of all the success MaKenzie has had in her career. Why the hell were our roles so reversed?
Through this whole process God has deeply humbled my heart. I spent the vast majority of our first 4 years of marriage complaining, whining, and being ungrateful for what was going on in our lives. When I look back now, I think to myself, Wow, what a waste of precious time! I did not believe that God was working for my good. I thought, He is screwing me and I don’t deserve this. Does He not see how hurt I am? I’ve been good, tried to live a good life, I deserve a good job. Thankfully, in His time, He has humbled me, crushed what I deemed as important, and had enough grace to reveal to me what He deems as important. My identity is found in being His son, and He is teaching me everyday through being a husband and a father more and more about life.
I still want to work and I still want to provide for our family but I am now thankful for my previous failures because it has opened my eyes to God’s grace and understanding of what it actually means to be a father. These are all insecurities that are still alive and well inside of me, but my hope rests not in my failures but in the provision of The Lord. There’s freedom in releasing yourself from the constraints of what our culture/society deem the norm. It can be scary to be different than what you’ve always thought you’d be, or find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be in but the center of God’s will is the place I pray I always find myself and my family in, no matter how different or non-conventional it might look to the world. He is guiding my heart and aligning it with His so that I can be the leader our family needs. I’m seven months in and I can not believe how in love I am with being a dad.
A new responsibility that I have assumed as a stay at home dad is making the babies food. This task is usually reserved for Mondays. Maebyn and I go to Kroger, I talk to her in The Grocery Voice, a fan-favorite that sounds something like Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Count Dracula. I’m not sure how it got started but the grocery voice is a ritual that neither of us are willing to give up (I’m sure she’ll feel the same way when she’s twelve). We peruse the aisles together, she smiles at me and tells me what kinds of food she wants – I mainly buy fruit because that’s my personal favorite. We actually got in a fight today cuz she was hell-bent on sushi but it just wasn’t happening, Kroger’s supply was less than impressive. I’m trying to incorporate vegetables but it’s hard, because I HATE vegetables and for some reason it makes me think she does too. MaKenzie laughs at me because I truly feel guilty feeding her veggies, just the other day I tried to throw out some asparagus I made because the guilt was almost unbearable. As for Maebyn, her favorite foods (to-date) are avocado, mangos, apples, pears, bananas, and basically anything sweet. She gets this from her mothers insane obsession with candy I think.
When I first started making food for Maebyn it was fun. Now it’s more of a necessary task than fun. I like feeding her food, it just takes so much time and to be honest I’m excited for the day I can set food down and she can feed herself. I have a tough enough time eating balanced meals for myself, and feeding her a nice balanced nutritious meal can be overwhelming. She’s not a fussy eater and eats everything I’ve given her so far so I really have no complaints. The only problem is – man is the girl needy. I have to scoop every bite of food into her mouth, clean her face after every bite, and repeat the process until she’s full. I mean come on, learn to do some things on your own, Maebyn, you’re seven months old for cryin’ out loud.
Today, we made mangos, mixed with apples and carrots. I thought the concoction tasted quite good and so did she. She polished off about a jar and a half of the stuff and didn’t spit out any of it. This is an accomplishment too because she recently discovered that she can spit the food all over her face and that it’s quite fun to make messes. She’s also discovered that the dog is standing by at all times, willing and ready to take any food off her hands (or face, toes, neck…).
Maebyn is seven months old today and seeing her growth and development over the past couple months has been our joy. Simple things like learning to eat has been fun to witness. She changes everyday and the only thing I keep thinking is, time is going by too fast.
I’m in the market for new recipes so if you have a favorite, leave a comment below and let me know about it. I’m always down for trying new things and I think my baby-food-creativity has hit a wall.
Last week Friday, I had the pleasure of having one of the funnest (not a word… still using it) days I’ve had in a long time (I should clarify…. with friends. MaK, every day with you, I have fun). Myself, Brent Kruithof, the genius behind Fly Up Fitness and a great friend of mine and another good friend, Jordan Stone went to the Arnold Classic and Fitness Expo in Columbus, OH. To give a little background on the event, there are just as many competitors in The Arnold that compete in the Olympics (18,000)… crazy, huh? Body building, weightlifting, gymnastic, table tennis, and a host of other events are put on at the event and it is quite a spectacle. Also, every fitness company known to man is there promoting their products and thus the reason we were so intrigued with attending. Lets just say the Arnold did not disappoint.
Actually, not disappointing is an understatement. The Arnold brought tears of joy and laughter in many unexpected ways. I’ve never seen THAT amount of fake tan on one person (times a million), decorative work-out thong apparel and muscle-clad men who could barely walk their thighs were so huge. It was like endless entertainment everywhere we looked.
Besides the awesome people watching, I was first and foremost there to help my friend Brent who is in the middle of trying to market, produce, and sell a fitness product that he has designed. Check out the Fly Up here. We thought The Arnold would help give some insight, possible encouragement and a feel for the industry. I will admit though, as soon as we entered the expo I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So many supplements for free!!! It was like ultimate trick-or-treating for weight lifters. I found myself wanting to bag as much free stuff as I could and actually a little embarrassed about how giddy I was each time I acquired a new supplement for free. They probably could have given me a bag of rocks and I would have been just as thrilled putting it into my newly acquired (also free), something-fitness-branded, cheap drawstring bag. I didn’t even care what they were handing out, I wanted them all.
After a couple hours of pillaging the expo I started to think about the cost that each company assumes to give all of this stuff away in the hopes that the consumer will pick their product over another. This type of marketing has worked on me. I use supplements that have been given to me for free, I’ve tried them out, liked them, and continued using them because they worked and I was satisfied with the results. I still couldn’t help but be overwhelmed though with the amount of money these companies were spending to give things away in hopes of acquiring new customers. Someone was shelling out a lot of money to put this free stuff in my bag but I didn’t care as long as I got my free supplements.
This experience stuck with me over the weekend and into Sunday. Our Bible study on Sunday focused around the cost or debt for our salvation. Yes, we are forgiven and yes we have been saved from our sin but the cost for the debt to be paid was high. So often I view the forgiveness for my sins as something that was free. It is freely given by God but the cost of my sins bore a heavy price. I don’t usually take into consideration the payment for my forgiveness, I just freely except that I am forgiven. For one reason or another, being at the Arnold reminded me that someone is bearing the cost for me to receive these free supplements. The Lord has taken my punishment of sin onto himself and even though I am forgiven it came at an ultimate cost. I like the thought of being freely forgiven but when I look at what it cost my Lord it gives me a new sense of purpose and wanting to worship.
“Jesus paid it all, so all to him I owe.”