The Big Reveal

The Big Reveal is not very big – surprise wise – considering many of our family and close friends already know the ‘secret’. Also, depending on timing you probably saw something on Facebook before reading this post. But it is big in happiness, in excitement (and scariness)…and in blessings.

Andrei and I are expecting our first baby.

Due April 16. So, sometimes lenten birthday cakes – woohoo! At least I have good practice in that (my birthday is always during lent).

Most everyone’s first question (after the due date) is how I am feeling. Actually scratch that. Everyone asks if the baby will be born in Russia. That answer is no – I am leaving Moscow in a few weeks and will stay until the baby is born. After that, we will see.

Back to the other question though – I feel pretty good. Have not had any morning sickness. I’m mostly just tired and hungry (I think 2nd trimester energy is a myth). That’s about it. I also kind of feel like a bit of a poser. There are about a bazillion pregnant girls I know in my Russian community back home as well as some old college friends. In Moscow I’ve noticed the smoke more, the lack of being able to order a huge veggie salad, and my very strong desire to go home and start setting up our house already. I have been eating lots of pickles. But I do that normally so I don’t think it has anything to do with the baby.

Mostly I feel blessed. Cliche, I know. But here’s the thing:

In July (2012), I participated in a Russian Orthodox Youth Retreat/Conference in Moscow. My cousin’s husband was the organizer and I helped him a bit with coordination before and during the program. The conference was centered around the idea of Orthodox marriage and family. We started our conference by participating in Moscow’s For Life Conference (they call it a Festival – but it was more like a conference) which began on Russia’s Day of Family, Love and Loyalty/Faith. This national holiday coincides with the day the church celebrates Peter and Fevronia – patron saints of marriage.  So the theme was strong and prominent. The For Life program was essentially an anti-abortion conference discussing and presenting many social programs in Russia that help families. The goal is to reduce the number of abortions in Russia (which is astronomical). There were also focuses on other social programs, but for us that was the main interest. It was interesting that rather than having an ‘anti-abortion’ approach to the public, most of the participants of these social programs said they focus on  defending family values and duties. Our little group of ‘foreigners’ was inspired by their courage in standing up for these important principles, their successes, and their spiritual approach.  Although implementing these social programs in America would be much more challenging, perhaps someday their courage will rub off and there will be hope for us too.

After the For Life program we went to Ekaterinburg to visit the site of the murder and martyrdom of the Royal Family. We also met with local Orthodox youth to share our experiences in the church and different religious socializing groups. To me this place was especially important as my saint is Holy Royal Martyr Olga (the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II) who was killed with her family in Ekaterinburg. I can’t express how close I felt to her and the family in this place. A place that was so bittersweet. Where sadness, joy and peace are experienced in one emotion and one prayer. The local organizers told us they wanted us to feel like not only they were hosting us, but that the Royal Family had warmly embraced us as well. And that is exactly how I felt.

In Ekaterinburg we were presented again with the importance of the Orthodox family. The lessons of humility and unbreakable faith that we learn from the Royal Martyrs as well as Sts. Peter and Fevronia were resonant throughout the entire stay. Each day of the whole youth conference I felt the importance of my role in my marriage and of my marriage’s role in our church. I could feel my love for Andrei growing during each visit, each church service. And in each place, at every relic and every service, I prayed that we could start a family. That my children could see and appreciate and know all of this beauty and truth.

Our first little one is due 9 months after I returned from the trip.

There is never the ‘right and perfect’ time to have a baby. But this experience got me a little closer. And I don’t think it was a coincidence.

My Favorite Reactions/Responses to Our News

“You’re my first friend…who did this on purpose”

…AND…

Brother-in-Law: D. Andrei and T. Olya have some news!

Nephew: What kind of news?

BIL: The best kind of news…

N: They bought everyone an iPad?!?!?!

…AND…

“…those cold nights in Russia will do that to you”

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4 Responses to “The Big Reveal”

  1. So exciting … CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  2. Congratulations! Fr. Thomas Hopko’s story is that his mother was at a funeral of a priest and she really believed that there ought to be someone to replace him. She told her husband and nine months later little Thomas came along and he became a priest. As a seminary professor, he quoted his mother so often that the seminarians complained of being forced to learn the teachings of the Tomotokos.

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