March 18, 2016

[savor] - my 2016 word

Hello poor blog. Sorry (not sorry sorry) for the hiatus. I would like to say it's intentional but in many ways it's not. They say newborns don't keep; man are they right. My once 5lb squishy newborn is now over 10lbs. That once sleepy snuggler, spends more time each day playing and talking. Her laughs and smiles light up a room. I wish I could bottle her up forever, remember each smell, each noise.

My word for 2016 is Savor. In so many ways, it is my last resort to soak in the moment because I don't want to miss anything. Honestly, my first inclination is not to savor, it is to plan our next adventure or to quickly grab the camera, I don't want to miss this. Pictures often last longer than memories but they help to rekindle those memories. Memories can go so easily. I learned the hard way this week as my journal of her short life so far was quickly lost to the computer. Too many photos taking up my hard drive. Instantly, I panicked. It felt as if all the memories of her newborn weeks were gone, but honestly if I think about it, if I rely on written memories I am not truly soaking it all in. Am I? 

Each day is a struggle to soak in every moment but I am trying the best I can. I soak in precious time with God between 10 min naps the baby is fighting. It comes in rocking her 5 minutes more because newborn froggy snuggles can't be taken back. It means Marc and I staying up 15 extra minutes to whisper in the dark to keep from waking her back up. Those moments, all of them, they are life giving. 

I lay here in the rocker; its 12am. My two month old, still newborn in my mind, asleep on my chest making smiles in her sleep, her hand tightly holds onto my hair. So many blog ideas run through my head. Like the best writing ideas, they come late at night. And, as I wish to write all there is to write about her life, about motherhood, a part of me struggles with it all. How much to share, what to share, what boundaries to set to protect my sweet daughter, what limits to set so I can be more present. You see, writing takes time. Writing means right now as I formulate the post on my phone notepad, my heart and mind are focused elsewhere. I miss that groggy baby smile. I miss those soft breaths on my neck. I miss her soft baby hair against my chin. 

Savor, it means stepping back and intentionally stepping into the moment. Putting aside the story for the moment, that perfect picture that is post worthy, the need to always know what everyone else is doing. It means just living your story, in the moment. Living, truly living in what God has given you at that moment. Whether it be mommyhood or infertility, school or retirement, step back from the expectations and step into just living how you know best and learning each step of the way. Making mental notes rather than well curated social media posts. Remembering those moments because you lived them to the fullest not because you captured them perfectly in pictures or writing. When my daughter looks back on her childhood, I want to be a mommy that was present, available, living inside her world, not a mommy always in front of her camera or computer or phone. So while my heart longs to write the story, it will be her story to tell someday not mine. I can keep memories for my own, but that is what this year is. Soaking those moments in, living in this dream of motherhood and making it my new reality. 

Her milk breath and sleep talking coos beacon me back to her and so I snap back and put down my phone. Babies don't keep, moments can last forever if we truly savor them. I choose to be all in, all present. For my daughter, for myself. 

January 27, 2016

It's a........Girl!!!!

Eva: Living 
Grace: God’s unconditional merit and favor 
Eva Grace, where do I begin? Your little life has been nothing short of a miracle. From the day we found out I was pregnant with you, through the 9 months I carried you - your life has had so much purpose, grace and provision straight from the hand of God. Little girl, you were hoped for and prayed for so many years. Our journey to hold you in our arms was not easy, but through the years of waiting, God proved that His grace is sufficient to carry us along through every hardship, every joy (2 Cor. 12:9). He is our portion and He is always more than enough. He has now provided us with you, our living reminder of His grace and love. 
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” - 2 Cor 12:9
A few weeks prior to your birth, the doctors started monitoring me closely for pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure). They were worried as high blood pressure can often lead to harm of the placenta and preeclampsia, which can be toxic to my body and yours. At 36 weeks, the doctors told me that if my blood pressure did not improve, they would want to deliver you early at 37 weeks to ensure both of us were safe and healthy. They began running non-stress tests on you a couple times a week to ensure that you were still growing well and weren’t effected by my pressures. Each time, you checked out so wonderfully and healthy; however, mommy’s blood press continued to be high. On January 15, 2016, the doctors scheduled for mommy to be induced at 7:30 AM on Saturday, January 23, 2016 (37 weeks, 2 days).

Your mommy and daddy are planners, my girl. If you don’t know that now, you will know it soon enough. Mommy’s plan for delivering you included a very natural progression - no drugs, no assistance, you come when you come. However, learning that we were going to be induced quickly changed my plans. I quickly changed from how I wanted this delivery to happen to a mentality of doing what we needed to ensure safety for you and me, knowing that God knows ultimately what would be best for both of us. The doctor’s provided some hope that my body may naturally go into labor on its own since on the 15th, I was already 3 cm dilated, 50% effaced and my cervix looked “perfect and soft.” We actually were glad to know what day we could expect to go into the hospital and meet you. We knew it might take 24 hours or so to deliver, but we knew that by the end of the weekend, we would get to finally hold our little miracle in our arms. 

We checked into the hospital bright and early at 7:30 AM after enjoying our last breakfast as a couple and watching the gorgeous red and orange sunrise over the horizon. We felt so much peace about the whole day. I was so excited but also knew that we had a long road ahead until we got to see you. It was also so hard to imagine what life with you would look like, hard to mentally prepare for this next phase in life. I had only felt you inside of me, but had no idea what you would look like, feel like, smell like on the outside. 

After checking into our labor and delivery room #14, we got settled and hooked up to quite a few machines. They started my IV drip and ordered for the doctor to come meet with us before starting the induction. We had the nicest, funniest nurse Wanda that kept checking on us and making us laugh. Since we were being induced, they say that labor can take significantly longer than usual since my body wasn’t prepared or going into labor on its own. Wanda and even the doctor that met with us, apologized that they would only be with us through part of the day and most likely we would get another team of professionals for the actual delivery. The doctor arrived around 9:25 AM to start the Pitocin, the medicine used to start contractions and labor. Mommy was still 3 cm dilated at this time. The doctor spent a good 30 minutes with us explaining the benefits and risks of induction and delivering early - from possible need for c-section if things don’t progress, to you having to spend time in the nursery since 37 weekers still struggle with temperature regulation, jaundice, etc. At this point, I still knew that these risks were not as bad as if my body went into toxemia; however, it makes you start wondering what the delivery will actually look like. We left with him assuring us it would be a very long day, possibly 24 hours until we got to meet you. 

With the Pitocin IV drip going, I started to “feel” more contractions, but they were so minor. They felt like my stomach was balling up, really tight and hard; however, I didn’t have any of the labor cramping pains that everyone kept expecting me to have. I have never really been in pain or forced myself into situations to cause physical pain, so it was difficult to know if this was just that I have a high pain threshold or if it truly wasn’t effective labor at this point. Daddy and I were able to watch a movie, talk, listen to music all without any feelings of impending labor. Overall, I was just feeling such a peace about everything that was to come. At 12:25 PM, I still wasn’t dilating (maybe only at a 4 now) and they had turned the medicine up pretty high. The doctor decided it was time to break my water to try to kick labor into high gear. 

Immediately after they broke my water, contractions started at full strength. Daddy did such a good job helping hold my hand and rubbing my arm through each contraction. He just kept encouraging me to breath through it and to stay strong, to relax my body and not tense up. He said I was doing so good, but I felt the contractions coming harder and harder. I felt so weak as I tried to relax through each one, I still felt like I was fighting them. I could feel through each of their rhythms - they would start and get stronger and stronger, then they would peak and taper back off. Daddy could tell on the monitor when I was in a stronger contraction or not, and he was surprisingly accurate. The nurse kept coming in to check you out during contractions as your heart rate would drop to around 80 with each, but not low enough to worry. After about an hour of heavy contractions, daddy and the nurse could tell I was in pain. I was wiggling around in the bed, uncomfortable. Although daddy says I was so quite with each one, he could see it in my face. He graciously asked if I wanted and epidural and I happily accepted the offer. 

At 2:00 PM, the anesthesiologist arrived and put in the epidural. To my surprise, the epidural didn’t hurt at all. My IV site hurt much worse and the sitting up through the contractions while they put in the epidural were so much worse than the little tiny bee sting sensation I felt in my back. Pretty immediately, my left side went numb. Marc also later told me that my left thigh became red and swollen right afterwards. They turned me over once to try to balance the epidural and get my right side numb. The nurse left saying she would be back in about 10 minutes to put in my urinary catheter since I could no longer stand up or move around given the epidural numbing. At this point, I could still feel the contractions, but they weren’t as painful.

Around 2:25, the nurse returned to put in my catheter. I immediately felt an urgent need to go to the bathroom. It felt like I needed to pass a very painful, large stool. The whole time she was putting in my catheter, I kept telling her that I needed to poop. As she was inserting the catheter, she also checked my cervix and to everyone’s surprise, I was already at a full 10 cm. The epidural gave me just enough relief to relax my body and quickly kick us into the final phase of labor. The nurse started preparing the delivery space, getting all the equipment ready and called the doctor. 

At 2:45, only 45 minutes after I got my epidural, they allowed me to start pushing. With each contraction, they had me breathe in, breathe out and then do 2-3 rounds of holding in my breath while pulling back on my legs and pushing with all my strength. After a quick breath in, we did another set of pushing. Marc and Wanda each supported a leg. After only the first contraction, daddy was already telling me how much hair you had on your little head. He could see your little skull squishing and wanting to pop out. I was actually able to see some of what was going on through the reflection of the lights overhead. We continued pushing through about 4 contractions, when they told me we were ready for the final pushes. You were here and ready to enter the world. 

At 3:13 PM on Saturday, January 23, 2015, after only 28 minutes of pushing, 5 contractions, your tiny little body entered into this world. You came out with a head full of hair and your left fist curled up near your ear. We heard a couple little wimpery cries and with tears coming down his cheeks daddy called out, “It’s a girl!”. We were in complete shock as we had no clue what your gender would be; however, most signs pointed to boy. A little girl, a precious, beautiful little girl. As they pulled you up to my chest, you instantly became quite. You were wide eyed and alert, so attentive and interested in this world. You made the cutest little noises, but no more cries. Your precious black little eyes were amazingly aware and soaking in everything, looking too and fro. You were 5 lbs 13 oz, 19 inches long, head 13.5 inches; just a tiny little peanut. 

The nurses and doctors left us alone after finishing cleaning mommy up. They were all in shock how quickly you came and kept commenting on how well you and I did. After many congratulations, they let us have almost 3 hours of bonding time with you, skin on skin with mommy. They came in to quickly show us how to breastfeed so we could start whenever you showed interest. I had been waiting for that moment my whole pregnancy, feeling the connection between you and I. You did so good baby girl. 

You never really cried, but you made so many little squeaks, squawks and whimpers. The noise was just music to our ears as we soaked in and learned every little bit about you. Every little bit of you was so perfect, no birth marks, completely proportional, perfectly formed by God himself. Your eyes were open so wide for hours. I just remember thinking how beautiful those eyes are - black almonds against your fair perfect baby skin. Your little button nose, your tiny lips. Then daddy noticed it, you have his exact ears. Your tiny ears that have a little fold over at the tops, more so on the left side. They are his, you are his. I just remember those moments seeing a side of your daddy I have never seen, a side where he cared so passionately and deeply for you, his daughter. He would do anything for you. His tears, his never ending smile, the way he would call out your name. You are so loved my baby girl. We couldn’t get enough of how beautiful you are, there are no words to explain that feeling. 

Your expressions were so fun to watch. You had this little worried look where so furrowed your brow and would whimper quietly. Your alarmed reflex, where your arm and legs would flail out, your hands and face getting this funny “why me?” look. Your excited little look, where your lips and tongue would purse up, while your forehead got all crinkled. You instantly had a love for your hands, from the moment you came out. You love folding them together and holding them near your face. You already knew how to suck on them for comfort. Oh how I wish I could bottle it all up forever.

Afterwards, they took us up to our room #3207. All the grandparents joined us quickly after to begin soaking in the beauty and grace that you embody. You are loved, so loved more than you will ever understand. Your daddy was beaming as he showed you off to everyone. All night, he was checking on each little noise you made, making sure you were happy and cared for. We didn’t sleep much as they had regular tests to run on you throughout the night, daddy going along with you each point of the night. After more visits from each of your grandmas throughout the next morning, you had your final 24 hour tests, hearing screens, heart screens and genetic tests. You passed with flying colors, just like in birth - you are a little overachiever first born, just like your momma and daddy. You got your first bath and hated it, you really don't like being naked. I love your modesty princess. We realized quickly as we dressed you to go home just how tiny you really are. You are absolutely swimming in the smallest of newborn clothes. You have many inches worth of room around the leg holes and your arms hardly come up the sleeves. You are our little peanut, so petite and precious. 

We left for home about 30 hours after we arrived at the hospital, ready to start this new life of raising you and learning to be parents. You loved the carseat and slept through the entire car ride home. It is so surreal carrying your baby into your home for the first time. Life had changed, had become so sweet and wonderful. We were now a family, ready to take on this world the three of us. Ready to learn what it means to be parents, learn how to raise our daughter, learn new levels of patience and love. What an exciting journey we have entered on my daughter. The story of your life is just beginning and we cannot wait to see all God has in store for you. 

The first few nights

It has now been a couple days since we brought you home. You have warmed up to our house and life so well and are now finally adapting better to a routine of eating and sleeping. Roxy and you are going to be best friends. She is so alert and worried whenever she hears noise from you. She comes running over to make sure you are okay. 

You officially found your voice that first night home. After about 4 hours of constant cry-eat-burp-sleep 2 min and repeat cycles, you hit 12:00 midnight and would not stop crying. It was so loud, but frail. Your little mouth so wide, your tongue violently shaking. Your skin bright red, your body quivering. You were not happy, but yet you were so beautiful. Every expression showing a little more of your personality. You have spent the 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM hours most nights having these little fits. At first, nothing seemed to calm you, not even feeding. When you are upset, you get like a ravenous little piranha and try to eat my breast, chest, arm, your hand by shaking your head, biting down and squeaking/screaming. You just don’t know that all you need to do is bite down to make it all end.  

However, daddy has become the baby whisperer, he has the magic touch. He found out very quickly how to best soothe you. Daddy found out you like to be bounced, not rocked back and forth. Up-down movement will soothe you instantly, but it has to be a slow bounce. When you are upset with momma, a simple touch on your head or face from dad and hearing him call out “Eva," can usually settle you right down. You love to have your head rubbed, it will put you to sleep pretty quickly. You get that one from daddy also, it is his favorite touch. 

We are quickly learning that your hands tell the whole store. They will fold daintily together when you are happy or contentedly sleeping. When you are about to get fussy, at least one fist flails out open wide in shock and then begins to shake violently. If you just want comfort, you will suck on your hands. When you are relaxed or nursing, you will grab onto my fingers and hold them so tight. You also will grab onto my finger when you seem scared or alarmed. You have little Houdini arms. No matter how swaddled I get them, or no matter how big the long sleeves are, you always find a way for your hands to reach your face - usually by going through the neck holes of your shirt. You came out with your hands up by your face and we cannot seem to get them away from you. 

Precious girl, these first few days at home have been amazing. You have fit so perfectly into our lives and we couldn’t imagine them without you. You are getting more alert and sleeping better with each day. I have to keep reminding myself, you are still a few weeks out from when normal babies are delivered, so you still have a lot of learning and growing to do. Eva, being your momma is the greatest gift I could imagine. It is such a joy for me to care for you, to calm your fears and frustration, to nourish your tiny body. You are so beautiful and we cannot get over you. There are now words to explain how we feel right now. God is so good. 

January 21, 2016

Week 37 - It's Baby Time!!!!

Week 37

Week 37, this is our last. On January 15, 2016 the doctor informed me that they would induce me at 37 weeks if my blood pressure does not improve. My blood pressure has been increasing for the past month or so, but is now regularly in the 150s. Currently, I don’t have any symptoms or lab work of preeclampsia; however they are worried that it can progress to that. High blood pressure is a risk to me as toxins could fill my body if it gets to bad, affecting my liver and kidneys. It also can restrict blood flow to the baby and start killing the placenta. Hence, they don’t want to let me go too long in this state. I have biweekly Non-Stress Tests (NST) to ensure baby isn’t under distress. I went in at exactly 37 weeks to actually schedule when we will arrive at the hospital to deliver this baby - January 23, 2016 at 7:30 AM they will start inducing me. I am praying that I go into labor on my own without having to have all those drugs in me. The doctor said I am contracting every 3-4 minutes so it could happen on its own. I don’t feel the contractions, I actually feel really great. The doctor said my cervix is perfect - soft, 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced already. She said she was even able to touch baby’s head since baby is so low down in my pelvis. I have officially gained around 40-43 pounds this pregnancy and my belly measures 41.25 inches at the largest space. 

I am still in shock since the doctor told me that we would be meeting this little one in less than a week! Things seemed to come up so quickly, not at all what I was expecting. I don’t feel miserable pregnant like I thought I would at this point. I can still wear some larger healed boots and I don’t waddle around (I don’t think). I feel pretty nimble and overall don’t have too many aches and pains. I don’t feel ready to have a baby yet, but I am so ready to meet this baby. 

This last weekend of us being just a couple was filled with lots of preparation. We finalized all nursery items, washed all the clothes and blankets, sewed our final projects and finished packing our hospital bags. I gave my final official notice of last day of work and finished out. We are officially ready to meet this baby. 


January 14, 2016

Starting to wind down - Month 9

Weeks 33-34

We are rounding out the end of 2015 and entering 2016! Twenty-sixteen is the year we get to meet our baby and become a family! Christmas time is absolutely magical, but when you add growing a baby into the mix, it feels so special. Every song about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus has me crying like a baby, just imagining what they felt like. The biggest cry song for me this season (beyond my typical “Christmas Shoes”) is “Mary did you know?”. The line “when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God” gets me every time.

Baby got the chance to meet his aunt and all her uncles during the holiday season. Aunt Mindy and Chris were in town from Missouri and Uncle Greg came in from California. Baby’s stocking was overflowing with tons of cute onesies and baby supplies. Mom and dad even had baby items in their stockings.  

At my 32 week appointment (closer to 33 weeks), reality set in. My OB started reviewing when to come to the hospital, signs of labor, etc and then told me that in 9 short days (January 1, 34 weeks) that if I went into labor, they wouldn’t stop me. They would just let this baby come. Wow! Things are getting real. I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed with how to care for a newborn (and keep them alive and happy). I mean I have babysat and nannied, but you always gave the baby back at the end of the day. What will it be like to care for a baby 24-7, how do you know you are doing it right? I am not that worried, but it feels a little intimidating right about now.  

Symptoms this week continue to primarily be my arms going numb. They aren’t just at night now, but pretty much around the clock (mainly my left, writing arm on my finger tips). I dropped and broke another water bottle (3rd in about 1 month). I also am starting to develop “cankles” by the end of the day. It isn’t all the time, but somedays when I get home from work, my feet and ankles are pretty swollen and I have little sausage toes. Marc thinks it is pretty funny. My doctor has me coming in for appointments every 2 weeks now as I might be developing high blood pressure. Right now, I am about 10 points below what they consider high, but she still wants to keep an eye on it. 

Weeks 35-36

I have continued to be sick through week 34 into week 35. This time either with the same cold that has now settled into bronchitis or with a new virus that is resulting in bronchitis symptoms. Having a persistent, deep cough is really hard when you are pregnant and have zero abdominal  muscles and lungs that are squished to minimum capacity. I may have developed an abdominal hernia on my right side where baby likes to poke out. It feelt so stretched and achy, although it seems to have healed as the coughing lessened. It has been pretty rough to sleep given the constant urge to cough and the fact that I am 35 weeks pregnant. Rolling over and getting comfortable at night is rough! Regardless, I spent most of the past week on the couch doing absolutely nothing trying to heal my lungs. 

I haven’t wanted to get near the nursery since I don’t want to contaminate the house too much, especially those places that baby will be. I have been list making instead to prepare for when I have energy and can breathe again - hospital packing lists, hospital birth plan, doggy care plan, things I still need to make or buy. There is still so much to do! I really hope baby keeps doing well inside and growing in there for longer because momma needs more time. It is crazy that we are 1 month out, ready or not baby will make its arrival whenever it decides. 

Week 36 has been a busy one, one of the last weekends of “busy”ness after the holidays complete with 2 baby showers, maternity pictures and Marc’s 31st birthday. Marc’s mom, aunt Linda and my mom hosted an adorable travel inspired shower for the ladies of the family. It was such a special time to spend with those closest to us. How long these ladies have prayed for this child, how diligently they have lifted us up every step of the way. What a special heritage this baby will follow in. We got so many special gifts, rounding out many of the final things we need to get off the registries. Baby got two gorgeous quilts handmade by its Great Grandma and Great Aunt. We had people “bring a book instead of a card” so we could hopefully start to build our baby’s bookshelf. We ended up overflowing with books, classics and new. This baby will be well read. My nurses at work also hosted a surprise baby shower for me this week. They completely surprised me and even got my boss who lives in California in on making me think I was really just late for another meeting.

After our maternity pictures on Sunday, I started feeling a little crampy and sore. It hurt to even take my pants off, but I just figured it was from all the running around and posing from the shoot. The next morning at work, I started feeling like my period had started, with more intense cramps coming in waves. They lasted for about 2 hours before stopping, happening about 4 times and hour. Then that night, it happened again while sleeping. We are officially in contraction mode here! It makes it all the more real and a lot a bit scary. What I am feeling right now are period cramps on steroids. I can only imagine what real labor contractions will feel like. 

December 17, 2015

Month 8 Recap - Thanksgiving and Shower

Weeks 28-29

Holidays, snow and nursery preparations… things are starting to feel real! These past two weeks have been full of fun work on the nursery from paint to pictures to a crib (what?!). I am officially in nesting mode. Marc spent his off Friday painting the nursery while I slept over at my parents to stay away from the fumes. When I woke up the next morning at my parents, I had a text message from Marc with a gorgeous grey/white stripe wall and a crib. My first thought was, “how did Marc get on my Pinterest board?” until I realized that was MY baby’s room! I had no clue that the crib had arrived, it wasn’t supposed to come in for another week. I have been busy getting artwork framed and hung, along with starting to make crib sheets and the crib skirt. I love how it is all coming together just how I had imagined. The nursery is now our favorite family hangout. We have setup fold up camping chairs and spend many nights in there just hanging out and dreaming. It is such a relaxing space. It is amazing how a room that used to be a catch all for spare storage (dog cage, bikes, extra bed, Christmas decorations) is now such a special place. Now we just need to get the dog used to all the baby gear. She is way too curious and keeps stealing baby blankets and laying them out throughout the house. 

We had our first Thanksgiving with a growing family! It is crazy to think how next year at this time, we will have a little baby to bring to all the festivities. It was a winter wonderland and we got to spend it with family outside of town, so peaceful and magical. I know these next few weeks through the Christmas season are going to be so full and busy. The rest of this pregnancy is going to fly by! I am trying to enjoy each moment of this special time with my babe inside of me. 

Weeks 30-32

This week, things have officially started to feel more real. I may have just said that last recap, but seriously. The nursery is practically done, we just need to make a few final pieces (like growth chart) and hang the mobile. But that feels so minor. My mother-in-law bought us our glider so it now so comfortable to rock the night away in our nursery. It even makes baby move a lot, including what I think were the first hiccups. It is the best! 

We completed our hospital tour and just need to finish pre-registering. Marc and I took an official walking tour of the labor and delivery ward, recovery rooms and nursery at the hospital we are planning to deliver. Working in hospitals often, I thought I knew what to expect, but this hospital was absolutely like a palace! Marc was even feeling comfortable at the hospital by the end of the tour. We cannot wait to meet our little Mr. or little Miss there in a few short months. I feel very comfortable knowing their policies and setup. We are also debating if we should take a formal childbirth class. I want to try to do this all as natural as possible, so I know some classes would probably help, but our hospital charges $100 per class, and there are about 5 classes total to take. It just seems a little overkill. So we started with a free online course this week. It was actually pretty hilarious and Marc kept laughing at the lady teaching it. I honestly am not that concerned about labor. It find it all so intriguing and love watching labor and delivery videos online. I honestly cannot wait until I get to experience it first hand. 

My childhood and lifelong friends, Danae and Kathryn, threw me a shower this week that was absolute magic. The theme was “Baby it’s cold outside” and what would you know? It actually snowed! The shower had the cutest hot chocolate bar, s’mores dip and snowflake cookies. They went over the top. It is surreal having my own showers now. For so many years, showers made me want to curl up and cry, but now we were there celebrating my little one, the baby we have prayed so long for. We were blessed with so many beautiful things for this baby. Baby now can take a bath and be diapered, along with plenty of snuggly blankets and pacifiers. It was amazing to spend this time celebrating with close girlfriends. 

For the past few weeks, baby has been making large movements in my belly. Baby definitely prefers sticking out on the right hand upper side of my belly (I think that is a little bootie) and then to the left of my belly button in a little silver-dollar sized area (maybe a shoulder or an elbow). It is the neatest thing to feel the baby, honestly to almost be able to grab and wrap your hands around what feels like its entire little precious body. Even Marc can feel the distinct body shapes. These acrobatics are definitely making my belly lopsided at times which is pretty funny to see. I also still feel more and more like this child has his daddy’s personality. She is really shy or at least that is what I equate it to. Baby can be moving around a ton, but the second someone else tries to feel it moving in my belly, the baby stops and sucks back in to hide. It is seriously the funniest thing, although I think some people are getting annoyed they haven’t felt the baby move. What can I say? This baby does not like being the center of attention like her mommy does. I also am able to sometimes push gently on the “elbow” and can feel it move away and then back. It is so amazing that there is a little body in there, that feels so distinct and real now. Baby is almost 18 inches and just needs to pack on some pounds.

Overall, I am feeling pretty good apart from Marc and I both having a head cold for the past week(s). I feel like my back and feet are getting more sore by the end of the day. My biggest and really only complaint is sleep. For the past month, my arms have gone completely numb at night, which then causes them to tingle and ache all throughout the morning hours. My doctor says it is simply because all my joints are loosening up, so things might be getting pinched where they may not have previously. Baby and I have a lot of late night hangouts while I try to find an acceptable position. I may just need to start sleeping in my nursery glider to see if that helps…or the crib. Can those things support adult weight? Joking, but really, I miss sleeping. 

November 14, 2015

End of 2nd Trimester - Less than 100 Days to Go!

Weeks 25-26

Do you remember being back in High School and counting down the days until you graduated? I vividly remember the day we hit the 100 day mark. It seemed so monumental and exciting, this was going to be here before we knew it. Well, we are officially at the less than 100 days until this little baby arrives! Fall is quickly coming to a close and the leaves are making their way to the ground. Winter is almost here and while I hate to see fall disappearing before our eyes, my heart gets so happy knowing that when the coldest months of winter hit, it will bring a new little bundle to our lives to snuggle and enjoy.

At 25-26 weeks, our baby continues to grow rapidly. Baby is putting on about 1 pound every 2 weeks which means baby is about 2 pounds now and around 13-14 inches long head to toe. Baby's kicks are also getting a lot stronger and I can feel baby making large movements around my belly. Somedays it looks pretty lopsided. I have found that baby gets really active around 1-2 AM especially if I get up to eat a midnight snack. Baby gets especially crazy when I have a glass of milk late at night. I don't know if baby can feel the cold, or just likes when we are laying down, but his kicks are strongest at that time. I don't even mind the insomnia because it usually means I get to feel this little one moving all around. I absolutely love it.

I have officially passed my glucose screen and am showing good iron levels. I am also starting to get pretty clumsy and feel like I am dropping everything which makes it a little difficult since bending over is hard considering my uterus is now bigger than a soccer ball! I have dropped a hot casserole dish on the floor, a complete cake from the fridge and caught a hot iron with my thigh. What can I say, pregnancy brain and clumsiness is a real thing!

Week 27

Week Twenty Seven...How are we already moving out of the 2nd trimester? Only 3 more months to go! This week has been full of a lot of bittersweet. This week, I went on my last official business trip. My coworkers hosted a surprise shower for me and completely blessed us with so many wonderful gifts for this little baby. Jenna even got a little globe to have everyone sign because she knew that I was wanting to do that for my other showers. During the same trip, I announced I would not be coming back after the baby was born. While so many people were happy for us, it is so hard to tell some of your daily friends that you won't be coming back. They were so sad. It was much easier telling my boss, but telling friends is rough.

I also got my invitations for the shower that my best friends Danae and Kathryn will be hosting for us in early December. They are so adorable and I cannot wait for our friend shower in a couple weeks. This baby is so blessed with people who are celebrating what a miracle he/she is. We are just so thankful.

In other news, I have had pretty bad heartburn about 50% of the time lately. Hopefully baby is getting tons of hair. My belly button is still an innie, but I think it wants to make its way to an outie here soon. When I lay back or laugh, my belly gets really pointy, kind of like a mountain peak or a tepee. It is really funny and makes Marc and I laugh hysterically (making it point out more). Baby has been moving every hour pretty regularly now and likes to stick body parts out as it rolls around. I haven't seen any distinct body parts, but you can feel a little hard spot when baby is pushing out. I think its a little booty and head most of the time. Move baby move!
2nd Trimester Recap
Primary Symptoms: Stretching, anxiety, insomnia, minor contractions (week 23-24), light heartburn
Weight gain: 18 lbs (24 lbs total), Baby has gained about 2 lbs! 
Cravings: No real cravings. Loving smoothies every morning and spicy foods (although my stomach doesn't love the spicy foods). Baby and momma both started loving a large glass of cold milk (makes baby kick a ton!) and cream cheese. 
Total Ultrasounds/MD Appointments: 5 appointments, 2 Ultrasounds (anatomy scan, vaginal ultrasound to check contractions)
Heartbeat: 129-133 BPM (boy?)
Crazy Dreams: None, daddy has started having dreams about you too! 
Total Work Trips: No out of state, local manager meeting 
Commons questions: How are you feeling? Do you know what you are having? Are you pregnant? Are you tired? When are you due?
Funniest Moment: Marc jokingly saying we should call our little boy (and girl) Harold and laughing for hours. Marc telling me to announce at work because my belly hangs out past boobs. Showing Marc how long an 18-20 inch full-term baby will be and seeing his eyes as my torso isn't even that long! Trying to bend over to put on socks or shoes. My tepee belly when I try to lay back or laugh. 

Oh, my sweet child. I am so excited to be your mommy. The past 3 months have been rough at times, but overall have left my heart so happy. From hardly looking pregnant to now having everyone comment about my bump, you have made some huge progress in growth during this time. I find my mind wondering what you will be like. Will you look like daddy? Will you have my eyes? Will you be a calm baby or a fussy one, cuddler or independent? Sometimes you are feisty and don't like being touched, other times you seem to like when I massage my belly. Just when I think I can predict you, you change your schedule keeping us constantly on our feet. Raising you and growing you inside of me is such an amazing responsibility and I pray every day that I am caring properly for you. I cannot wait to meet you and to see you grow up. You are such a blessing, an answer to prayer. Stay in here for a few more months, but then we cannot wait to hold you, to smell your sweet baby scent, to nurse you, to see you. I love you my little N or E. All my love, mommy 

November 6, 2015

On simplification

A few months back, Marc approached me with a proposal....a proposal that like most, would take commitment and sacrifice, but would ultimately allow us to have the possibility of the life we have desired to raise our children. At many times, the proposal has sounded daunting, ridiculous and so "outside of the norm", but I am starting to slowly (and stubbornly) learn that is really what life is all about. We always must give up something, to pursue another. We must be willing to put in the hard work in order to get what we want. In both the physical life and the spiritual. We know that God has called us to be not of this world, to live set apart and different. And in many ways, this proposal is teaching me the importance of what this might mean lived out in a very real daily life, a new daily life that will soon also include a new little life that we have no clue how to raise! Luckily, I know God's is sufficient and it will continue to carry us through whatever seasons God brings us through.

I have always dreamed of being a stay at home mommy and for many years we planned and prepared for that dream. We saved and we saved some more. We sold things, we paid off debt. In many ways, we couldn't have done any of that apart from God's help in providing every step of the way. But in a more tangible way, looking back, I know we were trying everything in our own powers to best prepare for children and for me to stay at home. And then......the children didn't come, we lost Peyton and we continued in the waiting cycle. All our planning, it felt in vain. But God, He knew our desire for kids and He has now provided in this little babe inside my belly.

This time, things have looked a lot different. We now have a huge mortgage on our land. We are looking to build, but again, that requires more money. For months of this pregnancy, we have operated under the assumption that I would continue to work, be a working mommy. We have run numbers, we have budgeted and many times it doesn't feel possible. Yet, my amazing husband wants this to be a reality, he wants me home to raise our children. And I want that to.

So, we have started to make what most will call drastic changes to our life. We are simplifying, removing the distractions, removing the unnecessary things from our day to day. We don't really know what it will look like, but it started with completely disconnecting the TV, and now the internet.  It will include pay-by-the-minute cell phones, coupon cutting, home cooked meals and trust, lots of trust in God. In our own power, this simplification may seem stupid or unwise, but we know that God has called us to more. We know these distractions not only are costly, but more importantly they take away from family time, from connecting deeper with God, from focus on raising up our children in the Word. When technology and this world are forefront in our hearts and our minds, how do we expect our kids to learn any less? We want more and so we venture into seeking that. Gaining more from less, simplifying for a more abundant life.

If you miss me, you will know why. Hey, you may just get an old fashioned letter via snail mail one of these days. Which reminds me, I probably need to make an actual address book and memorize phone numbers like "back in the day." 

November 1, 2015

Starting to really look pregnant - Month 6 Recap

Weeks 21 thru 22

The weeks seem to just be flying by now and honestly, I have no clue how old baby actually is these days. Ever since the tech told us our EDD is a week and a half earlier (still awaiting confirmation from my doctor) I have been struggling to know how to calculate these. We just cannot wait until February comes and we get to meet this little sweetie. 

The biggest changes over Month 6, besides the massive belly growth, have been our baby’s movements. In those first few weeks of feeling baby move, it was a little tiny bubble feeling, mostly in my lower left abdomen. It wasn’t that frequent through the day, in fact some days went without feeling baby. Baby then developed a pretty regular pattern of kicking me around 8-10 at night every night (a little night owl like his daddy). I have now started to feel baby moving all over my belly, not just on my lower left, although that is still baby’s preferred place to kick me. I have felt what I am assuming is baby doing somersaults inside my belly, moving around not in sporadic movements anymore, but very methodical and frequent (every couple hours). Baby even has started to respond to touch from the outside. At night, if I roll over side to side, baby will kick on the side where the mattress touches my belly as if she is feeling out her surroundings. Baby also loves to kick at the seatbelt in the car. I can also press on my belly and when I release the baby will kick in that general area. It is so neat to be able to almost predict and interact with this little sweetie. 

My only real symptom the past few weeks has been some slight insomnia. I feel wide awake a couple times a night (11 pm or 3 am), mainly if I get hot, need to use the restroom, etc. I also notice that those times are when baby gets really active. I find myself wondering if these will be those moments that baby will be wanting to get up to feed and if this is just my body’s way of preparing me for these precious late night moments. 

My belly continues to grow daily! Honestly, somewhere between week 21 and 22 the belly went through some massive growth spurt. Even my flowing shirts don’t fit over the bump anymore. It is also getting harder and harder to bend over or move from side to side at night. I think back to a few weeks ago when I felt like it was so obvious that I was pregnant and how huge I felt, now that seems utterly silly and I know it will only continue to get bigger as the weeks progress. 

Honestly, growing this life inside of me is the most magical and strangest experience of my life. It is so interesting how things progress and change, how one day might be completely different than the next. I can’t believe our baby is almost 1 pound and starting to grow hair and nails. The ultrasound at 21 weeks was absolutely amazing to see our baby moving around, kicking and having a little personality. Pure beauty. 

Week 23

Week 23 and I have really started to feel pregnant. It is really hard to bend over now and my belly aches on the sides and the underneath. If I move to quickly, it feels like I am ripping my obliques. I am also generally sore by the end of the day or after standing on my feet for too long. But it is worth it, it is so worth it. This week, I started to feel the baby moving from the outside and then a day or two later actually could see those kicks! Marc has been working a ton of overtime lately so he sadly hasn’t had the opportunity to feel the baby move yet. He gets home during one of baby’s sleeping stretches and goes to bed before the 9 PM dance show begins. I cannot wait for the chance for him to feel his little child moving inside of me. It is so special. He kisses me goodbye each morning and also pats or kisses the baby. It’s too cute! 

My mom and I went and registered over the weekend. We spent 4 hours in the baby store, man it was overwhelming but fun. We even walked away with finding “the” carseat that I wanted and getting it for $100 off! It feels so surreal having a carseat in my house, knowing that it is for my baby. I have been trying to keep it away from the dog’s licks, she will have plenty of time to slobber up this baby. I hid it in the guest shower and then found her in there the other day climbing into the tub to sniff it. She is so curious about all the baby things that are starting to make their way into our home. 

We have also finally settled on a GIRL name! I absolutely love the name and am getting more and more excited if this little babe is a girl. I have actually had girl dreams recently, although Marc and I still feel like it’s a boy. We have absolutely no clue, but I guess that makes it all the more fun. My best girlfriends are starting to prepare for my baby shower already! I cannot believe how quickly this all is starting to come up. I guess we really need to get down to business with finishing the dresser and painting the bedroom, maybe order a crib? It is crazy that October is almost over and baby will be here only a month after the holidays! I cannot wait for this upcoming season of life, it already feels so sweet and special. Thank you Lord for this continued opportunity to carry your sweet child. 

Week 24

Week 24 has been a whole new experience and I have felt very burdened with anxiety. I am by nature a worrier, I hate that about me, but it is something I have to work through each and every moment with the Lord. It started when I had been feeling less frequent movement from the baby. I had also had some random cramps the week before which I thought were just growing pains, but then I had a little spotting only once. I called my doctor's office and they immediately had me come in for a Non-Stress Test, Vaginal Ultrasound and MD appointment. They hooked me up to the monitor and right away knew that baby was kicking up a storm in there and had a great heartbeat. The US also showed my cervix was normal length. They did, however, find that I was having minor contractions, mainly right at the start of the NST. I had about 3 small ones within the first 10 min, but I couldn’t feel them at all.

While that appointment said all looked good, it left me with more questions than not. What aches and pains are normal vs worrisome? What should a contraction really feel like if I am supposed to be monitoring their frequency? How often should baby really be kicking me at this point and are the lessened impact of those kicks something to worry about? They told me to wait until my follow up appointment on Friday and see if anything had changed. My doctor checked me on Friday, could feel the baby moving and heartbeat was all good. Since I hadn’t had major cramps, spotting, etc they weren’t worried. Having another opinion from the appointment was comforting. The doctor said that babies can sometimes change their activity patterns. Where my baby was starting to become very predictable, it is possible that baby had switched up night vs day patterns, or maybe flipped around so it is kicking in a different location which I am not used to recognizing yet.

After almost a week of feeling worried, baby's activities started picking up again. Marc was even able to feel baby one of the nights while we were falling asleep. He was amazed at how much movement this little bean has. It was such a special moment for him to get to experience that. I am so thankful to have made it through week 24 with an active little baby still inside of me. I keep committing each worry of this pregnancy over to the Giver of Life, knowing that each moment with this child comes direct from Him.

October 3, 2015

Anatomy Scan - 21 (or 22 weeks)

Yesterday was our big anatomy scan! It has been about 14 weeks since our last ultrasound when little babe was just a little gummy bear. I had no idea what to expect, what our child would look like or what we may see. I did come prepared with some questions for the ultrasound tech, or more speculations. From what I have felt are kicks, I was curious to see if baby's little feet were down, kicking me lower.

What I didn't expect was how miraculous this exam would be. It is so incredible to see your child inside you, moving around and kicking so strong. We were able to make out beautiful little legs and arms moving around. It was amazing to see little bones and muscles making quick jabs. We had a quick frontal view of the most precious little lips and nose that just melt my heart and make me so excited to meet him/her. The tech confirmed in fact that our baby is breech, meaning feet down kicking right on my cervix and bladder just like I had suspected. She mentioned that my placenta is fundal anterior, which means high and in front. It isn't concerning, but it does mean that I may not feel as much movement. Luckily, those little feet are kicking me below my placenta right now so I can feel tons of movement.

Our little one has already started showing a little personality. Our first born may be a little stubborn like his parents. Babe had it's back towards us most of the time, so it was very difficult to get a good shot of the face or profile. Every time the tech almost had the shot she needed, baby would move to another position. Baby was moving around a ton during the exam, but then slept most of the afternoon, what a tiring show this little one was putting on.

The tech estimates that I am actually further along than we originally thought. While our first ultrasound gave EDD of 02/11/16, they are now thinking closer to 02/01/16 given the head measurements from the exam; however, baby's belly measurements are still showing more in the 21 week range. We either have a child with a massive head or a little skinny mini. I am thinking with Marc and my body types, that maybe we are closer to 22 weeks 4 days as the ultrasound revealed. With my cycles, we have absolutely no clue when we conceived so it is all speculation.

We stayed strong and did not find out the gender. Many times the tech had us turn away as she confirmed the gender. Marc and I still feel like it's a boy, especially now that the heartbeat this week was 129 at the ultrasound. I took a silly little gender quiz this week that asked me about 16 questions - from my facial skin, hair, belly and body changes, heart rates, cravings, etc. Overall, the quiz came back 50% chance boy, 50% girl (helpful!), although it did say based on the combinations I answered it would give me a little more preference towards boy. I guess we will see in early February (or late January now!).

Honestly, this exam has left me so excited to meet this little one. I can't stop thinking about the precious little one we saw on that screen. It is still hard to connect the fact that what was on the screen is actually the same little one inside my belly. It will be so special to actually get to see our baby face to face, to kiss those little lips and snuggle that little body. Keep growing my precious little one, we cannot wait to meet you!

September 30, 2015

Halfway! - Month 5 Pregnancy Update

Seventeen thru Eighteen Weeks

Eighteen weeks and I think I just felt the baby moving! It was so strange and amazing. Marc and I were sitting on the couch enjoying our Sunday afternoon (09/13/15) and I felt this little ripple under my belly, just a couple inches to the left of my belly button. I sat for another moment and it happened again. It was a feeling I can't even describe! I sure hope that was the first of many kicks to come. I love my little peanut and getting to feel the movement. Such a special moment.

In other news these weeks, I am slowly getting used to my body changing rapidly before my eyes. Each and every day, it feels like I look so different. It is strange to look down and not see the button on my pants, or to watch my once "coin slot" belly button now be wide open. I can see the inside of my belly button and even see it's indent through all my clothes. I am amazed how God has prepared our bodies to handle pregnancy to slowly morph and grow to accommodate a whole other human inside of us. It is amazing. I even had my first "stranger" at work ask if I was pregnant this week. I must definitely be showing at this point. Baby is officially the size of a bell pepper and bones are starting to harden. I have been having general discomfort the past 2 weeks as I have started having sciatic nerve pain on my left side. It only goes down to my bottom, but by the end of the work day it hurts to drive home. I also still continue to feel that my bladder is the size of a pea, but other than those two pieces, I am overall feeling great and loving the 2nd trimester.

I started working and sewing the baby mobile for over the crib. I am in love with how it is turning out. I saw the idea on Etsy for $300+....for a mobile! So far, I have about $10 into the mobile and I just need to finish a couple pieces that my mom already has the material for. Take that Etsy! I can save money and make one that I love even more, completely customized for my baby, made with love for my little one. I cannot wait to start making more baby stuff like crib skirts, burp clothes, blankets. The materials in the store right now are all perfect for our color scheme. Someone needs to hold me back!

Nineteen thru Twenty Weeks

Week 19 started off a little scary. It has been a really rough few weeks at work, looming deadlines and tough manager responsibilities (budget, performance reviews, performance correction, you name it). I had been putting in 11-12 hour days most days without much of a break and I am slowly and stubbornly learning that my body just cannot do that anymore. After 3 long days, my back started cramping and I started feeling other minor cramps. It was enough to freak me out. I ended up going to the doctor and everything checked out fine. It took the nurse what felt like forever to find the heartbeat. She said it was because our little one is so active and kept moving around. Despite my stress and anxiety, baby's heartbeat was in the 140s and showing no sign of distress. I know from before how my stress can get the best of me, so I continue to turn each worry over to God knowing that His grace is sufficient for me. He died on that cross for my sins, including my never-ending propensity to worry and be anxious.

Week 20 has gone much smoother. I can feel baby kicking more and more frequently, or so I think that is kicking. It now feels more like little drips from a faucet. They come back to back sometimes and are just little bubbles. Then they stop for awhile. It brings such joy to my heart to feel my little babe moving around in there. I wonder if he/she feels cozy. I wonder when baby is sleeping or awake. I sometimes gently push my belly around wanting to wake the baby up just so I can feel some little flutters.

I have started hitting my belly on doors or railing this week. I am just not used to having something stick out in front of me. People at work have also started commenting on how my belly sticks out more and more each day. I am still a little weirded out by people's comments about my body. Sometimes people even try to touch my belly. It creeps me out. Seriously, you don't touch your boss' belly, you just don't. The only person I feel comfortable touching the belly is Marc and that's because it is his child in there. I guess I just didn't expect people to start doing that until a lot later on.

As this week rounds to a close, we will be preparing for our anatomy scan on 10/02/15. Although we both don't want to know the gender, it will be amazing to finally see this little babe on the screen again. At our last ultrasound, baby was only a tiny gummy bear, but now baby will look like a miniature human. I cannot wait to see our baby's profile and little hands and feet. I am interested to see how the baby is laying in my belly. I seem to feel the movement mainly in my lower left side, so I am thinking the head is up and near my right ribcage. The Lord has formed each and every part of this little one and we cannot wait to get a glimpse into that wonderful beauty. I cannot believe 20 weeks ago, God started knitting this little life together inside my womb and in 20 more weeks (give or take) we will get to finally meet this little miracle. We are halfway there!