Friday, December 16, 2016

The Journey

This journey of motherhood continues to open doors in my heart, plant seeds in my soul, wreak havoc on my selfishness, and drive me to my knees before the Lord.

My heart has never known such joy as seeing my son's eyes light up when I enter a room. It has never soared quite so high as when he reaches out for me or nuzzles his smooth cheek in my neck. Never before has it been so tugged by soulful cries in the middle of the night.

My soul is a new garden in which experience is planting seeds of wisdom for days to come:
  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence

I am facing my selfishness everyday and constantly battling against it:
  • Choosing to soothe my son over hiding under the covers
  • Washing hair is now a once or twice per week luxury
  • I cannot keep everything clean and tidy 
  • I can't always finish everything I start when there is someone more important who needs my attention
  • Adult conversation is often choppy and interrupted
  • Finishing a book is a monumental task
  • Eating warm food with utensils is a special treat for me

I come before the Lord as I struggle with anxieties:
  • His health (does <insert symptom> mean he is sick?)
  • Am I doing something wrong? Not doing something I should?
  • Do I know enough to teach him the right things at the right times?

I thank God for a loving, patient, FUN husband who is my partner in this journey. And we could not be more thankful for family who love our son passionately and help us so much with caring for him and making sure we take care of ourselves! We are so thankful!

May God continue His work on me in this motherhood journey.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What I've Learned in Four Months

Our little man is four months old! Here are a few things I've learned these past precious weeks:

  • God gives energy to the weak, tired mama
  • God's design for creating life from two of the smallest pieces of two people is simply incredible
  • I know more than I think I know and way less than I think I know
  • It is so sweet to be able to calm and soothe a crying baby
  • It is heart-wrenching not to be able to calm and soothe a crying baby
  • Feeling his hand wrap around my finger warms my heart
  • Every new mama learns the value of being ambidextrous 
  • Food that does not need to be heated, skinned, cut, or unwrapped is a must for a nursing mama
  • You can have a pile of clean burp cloths one minute and be down to the last one in the blink of an eye
  • Wait to put on your clothes for "going out in public" until immediately prior to leaving or you will just have to change again anyway
  • Don't wake a sleeping baby
  • It is possible for your heart to beat outside your body...and be held in your arms
  • Watching your husband become a dad is quite possibly one of the most endearing things you will ever see him do
  • A baby can only fill his diaper once...and as soon as you change it, he's probably ready to fill it again
  • ALWAYS carry extra diapers, wipes, and trash bags
  • Living life in two hour pockets between feedings brings value to a 2-min shower, a 5-min meal, and a 7-min grocery store trip
  • Wet laundry inevitably sits in the washer for 4 hours before you remember (or are able) to move it to the dryer 

Sweet Baby Boy, I love you so much. I selfishly pray for your health and safety but boldly pray for you to have the strength and courage to face the future with God as your guide.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Baby B's Birth Story (Part 3)

(...continued from Part 2)

6:40pm Christy performed another cervical check, and I was finally dilated to 7cm. She was about to go off shift but called my OB to discuss the next course of action. The proposal was to restart the Pitocin at 1 unit and gradually increase while monitoring. When Christy left the room, Jacob and I discussed what we thought was best and agreed that we would try 1 unit but really wanted to hold out and not bump up to 2 units without ample monitoring of how my body responded. We were in no rush! We talked about the peace of God which transcends all understanding (Phil 4:7). It was so helpful to recall Scripture and remind ourselves that God was in control regardless of the circumstances. I was so thankful to Jacob for bringing that verse to mind, as it was important for me to step out of the chaos mentally and remind myself of the Truth.

7:00pm Christy introduced me to our new nurse, Liz, who would be with us through the night.

7:30pm Liz restarted my Pitocin drip at 1 unit, and the contractions started back. Baby B responded favorably (for awhile).

9:00pm Liz explained that she had to reduce the Pitocin level to .5 units due to hospital protocol because the contractions were lasting too long again (around 90 seconds). We weren’t at the 3-4 minute duration that led to the previous scare, but the contractions were getting too long. She said we’d do another cervical exam at 9:30pm. We maintained the Pitocin at .5 units, and the contractions evened out. Liz could not believe the level was so low and still working!

9:30pm The cervical exam proved that I was 100% effaced, ~9cm dilated, and +1 station. Since we knew Baby B could not tolerate me lying on my right side or getting up to sit on the ball, we moved me to a position that had me sitting up a little straighter (albeit still on my left side) in hopes of helping him move further down the birth canal on his own. Liz left to update the OB but told me to tell her when I started feeling the urge to push or really strong downward pressure (how was I supposed to feel the urge to push when my whole torso and upper legs were numb?!). The OB advised Liz to perform another cervical exam around 11:15-30 or when Baby B’s stats ramped up to show he was ready to make his entrance, so we waited some more. Another popsicle (grape) and more ice chips...

11:15pm Liz came in and performed another cervical exam when she saw Baby B’s heart rate drop noticeably, the timing between contractions get shorter, and the intensity of contractions increase. Finally, I was 10cm dilated(!).

Time to *practice* push. Okay, *practice* pushing = real pushing in my book. We used three contractions in a row to practice pushing with three pushes per contraction. With the first one, I seriously felt like I was doing nothing even though I was trying. In fact, I felt like I was trying to try, I looked at Liz for some kind of reassurance that SOMETHING was happening. She coached me through the three contractions, and we got Baby B’s head to crown. Then....Liz told me to stop while she called the OB.

STOP?! While he was right there ready to come out?! Wow…I don’t know that I will ever be able to articulate what that felt like!

11:48pm The OB arrived and prepared for delivery, checking the table of tools a nurse had set up. There were a bunch of tools I hoped she wouldn't have to use (forceps, vacuum, etc.), and then there were the scissors. We had discussed beforehand that Jacob would cut the cord, so she handed him the scissors - so cool!

And then, we waited. And waited. Annnndddd waited. We had to wait for another contraction, and of course it took forever.


12:00am It was time! I used this next contraction to start pushing, Four pushes, and our son James came out at 12:02am on 5/4/16, weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. and measuring 19 1/2”. He was beautiful and perfect, covered in a thin layer of vernix and announcing himself with a cry that was music to my ears.

The rest of the events unfolded really fast. James was placed on my chest almost immediately after birth, and I was overcome with emotion. I was laughing and crying, and I just could not believe he was finally here! In my arms!

In the meantime, I had asked to see my placenta, so once it was delivered, the OB held it up for me. (I had to confirm with Jacob whether or not the doctor needed me to push another time, but he said she was able to just guide it out without any additional pushing.) What an incredible organ! Created specifically to provide nutrients for James. It was his lifeline! And it was HUGE! (Yes, we did get a picture, and no, I’m not going to post it out of respect for those of you with weak stomachs.)

The OB informed me that I had a second degree tear - completely normal and nothing to worry about. She stitched me up, and congratulated me on a smooth and quick delivery.

While I was being tended to, Jacob went over to the warming station with James for his Apgar test, footprinting, etc. James rocked a 9 on the Apgar!

Then, the nurse brought him back to me, and I tried nursing him for first time - what a foreign experience, and came naturally! I was able to get a little bit of colostrum in him before they wheeled him off to the nursery for a bit more cleaning up and testing.

Now it was time to get me unhooked from all the machines and take me down to the postpartum wing. Liz unhooked the catheter and epidural and asked me if I needed to use the restroom. I couldn’t tell, but she said I needed to try. She and Jacob led me to the toilet (with a measuring bowl in it - lovely) and turned on sink water to help. She said that if I didn’t use the restroom, I’d have to get another catheter (NOT what I wanted to hear). So, I determined that I would and took my precious time.

It took about 5 minutes, but I was able to go! When I stood up, I got really dizzy, so Liz tried to use my IV line to inject more fluids. Unfortunately, the line had rolled out of my vein, so the drip caused searing pain as it released into my arm. I cried out and she stopped the drip. Another nurse ran and brought back apple juice to help get me some electrolytes/sugar. I gulped the carton, got in the wheelchair, and we proceeded down the hall to the postpartum wing.

The next two days were full of joy and love, beeping monitors and feeding little James, pictures and lullabies, little sleep and taking care of my own recovery as well. But those are stories for another day!

Praise God for His gift of life and protection for little James! My heart is full.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Baby B's Birth Story (Part 2)

(...continued from Part 1...)

6:45am My first grape popsicle (YUM!). When in labor at a hospital, moma are not allowed to eat food or even drink water in order to avoid the risk of aspiration in the event that surgery is required. I paced myself on popsicles and ice chips throughout the day to "treat "myself and have something to look forward to. Who would've ever thought that popsicles and ice chips would be considered treats!?! When you aren't allowed to eat or drink anything else for 21 hours…

7:00am Shift change! My new L&D nurse named Christy came in and introduced herself. I liked her from the get-go, and she proved to be a calm voice of reason throughout the day.

At my 38-week appointment, I had been diagnosed as Group B Strep positive. This meant that it was very important for me to get antibiotics in my system prior to delivery. I received my first dose of Ampicillin at 7:00am and would receive additional doses every four hours.

7:05am I made my first trek to the bathroom. It was even more challenging to use the bathroom in the hospital because not only did I have the crutches, but I also had all of the cords and wires that I was hooked up to for monitoring.

When I returned from the restroom and the nurses tried to hook back up the monitors for the baby and my contractions, they had a difficult time finding Baby B's heartbeat and when they did, it was pretty low. Christy tried to seem matter-of-fact and calm, but I could tell the situation caused some concern. She said because of my movement, there was a chance that Baby B possibly moved onto and compressed the umbilical cord. She put me on oxygen and moved me around so Baby B would move too. His heart rate went back up, and Christy said this could happen several times during labor. As long as he responded, all would be well!

9:15am Christy came in and said she wanted to move me to a new room. I was technically still in a triage room, and she wanted to get me into a bigger L&D room. Once I got there, she asked me if I thought I could tolerate getting on my hands and knees on the bed for 20 min to help Baby B have room to move the umbilical cord if it was stuck around his neck. At that point, I wasn't really feeling much pain, so I tried it and ended up in that position for about 30 minutes.

10:05am After making my second bathroom visit, it was time to sit on a birthing ball for awhile. A few months ago, I purchased a medicine grade exercise ball due to my pre-existing hip and back condition, and it served wonderfully as a birthing ball as well. I rocked back-and-forth, bounced lightly up-and-down, and did some circular hip movements. We finally started to see some labor progress.

Warm towels were SO nice in the freezing hospital room!
11:15am <dun-dun-dun> Time for another cervical exam. This one was super painful for some reason, and I had a difficult time not crying. Christy told me that my cervix was pointing backwards, so she had to move around a lot to find it. When she finally did locate it, I was dilated to a 3. Seven and a half hours, and I was a 3...

Progress is progress, right?

11:35am Apparently, it was time to help things along a little bit. Christy explained that my OB wanted to start a Pitocin drip at 2 units to increase the regularity of contractions, which at this point were erratic and not very strong. Also, my OB requested the Group B Strep antibiotic (Ampicillin) be administered every 6 hrs instead of every 4 hrs, so the next dose would be at 1pm. The goal was to get two full doses in me prior to delivery.

12:30pm Still on the ball, I chatted with Jacob and saved (haha) popsicle number two: cherry. The Pitocin was increased to 4 units, which made the contractions much stronger and more frequent. My OB stopped by to check on me in person and said everything looked good. She did encourage me not to wait too long to request an epidural. I really wanted to wait it out until I was at least dilated to 4 cm because I didn't want the epidural to slow down the birthing process too much too soon. The contractions were definitely getting stronger but I thought I could handle it for a little longer…

1:15pm OK, OK. The contractions were really strong at this point. I looked over at Jacob between contractions and told him that I would not be able to handle the next contraction without crying. It was time to request the epidural.

2:00pm Oh. My. Gosh. The contractions hurt so bad! I definitely waited too long to request the epidural, and it was taking the anesthesiologist sooooo long to get there. Finally, she arrived to administer the epidural, and Christy turned off the Pitocin temporarily. I was in so much pain that I could not sit up and had to crawl onto the bed in the fetal position. The anesthesiologist said this position was not ideal for epidurals but that she would do her best (eek!). I was worried because I had heard of women having back issues after receiving a poorly administered epidural, and I wanted to be in the most optimal position possible, but I basically did not have a choice at this point because the contractions were so prolonged and intense. The difficulty of putting in the epidural caused some stress on Baby B, so additional monitoring was done before the Pitocin was restarted.

2:15pm Ahhh....relief. My body succumbed to the numbing agent, and I slowly relaxed. Christy had promised not to do another cervical exam (after the last painful one) until the epidural kicked in. The result: I was dilated to a 4, effaced 75-80%, Baby B’s head was at station -1, and the extreme pain was likely related to his movement down into my pelvis and some rotation during the process. Sitting on the birthing ball had indeed helped!

4:30pm With the Pitocin back on, we soon realized that it was causing me to have less than ideal contractions. At one point, I had a 3-4 min contraction (yes, you read that right) with no let up. This led to an immediate cascade of events that was truly alarming. Christy moved me to lay on my right side to see if we could get the contraction to stop, but Baby B’s heart rate dropped to ~60. I was moved as quickly as possible to the hands and knees position to hopefully relieve any pressure on the umbilical cord, followed by an unsuccessful attempt at an internal monitor. The room filled with additional nursing staff as well as an OR doctor. I was distraught and turned immediately to prayer for Baby B’s safety. Although I was barely aware of what was happening around me, I did hear the OR doctor and bits and pieces of a conversation about the level of tolerance for Baby B’s slowed heart rate and if/when we might need to head down to the OR for a caesarean. I had hoped to deliver vaginally but ultimately wanted whatever was best for our son.

The nursing staff administered Terbutaline to stop all contractions (NOTE: This drug made me super-shaky.) and stopped the Pitocin drip completely. Finally, we saw an increase in Baby B’s heart rate after a few minutes, and the level of activity in the room calmed down a notch. I proceeded to nap for hour or so, and the team monitored Baby B’s heart rate.

Time for some ice chips.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Baby B's Birth Story (Part 1)

This is the story of our firstborn son’s labor and delivery. We affectionately called him Baby B during the entire pregnancy.

At 39w2d, I had been experiencing contractions for two weeks. That’s right: two weeks! These were not the typical Braxton Hicks “practice” contractions but they also weren’t full-on, painful labor contractions. Over the phone, my OB’s nurse calmly (and perhaps with a little sarcasm) explained to me, the first-time mom, that the contractions fitting the infamous 5-1-1 bill (go to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for one minute each, and have been occurring at that rate for one hour) would be painful.

Okay, let’s get some perspective on the word “pain.” As a former athlete who has shattered her left wrist in seven places, dislocated her shoulder twice, broken both feet and her elbow in one graceful Olive Garden...on a date (a story for another time), and is currently experiencing chronic pain that began a year and a half ago, I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance. What if my pain threshold is different than the norm? What if I don’t know what they mean by “pain” and actually end up having Baby B at home because I don’t make it to the hospital in time?

When I went in for my 37-week appointment, the OB monitored my “contractions” and with a look of surprise came to me saying I really was having real contractions. Feeling somewhat justified, I waited for next steps...but the advice remained the same: wait until the contractions were painful. The alternative two signs of true labor would be bleeding or my water breaking.

I was disappointed, to say the least, and still worried I wouldn't be able to distinguish “painful” from not-painful contractions. So, I started fervently praying that my water would break so there would be no doubt when I needed to go to the hospital. It turns out only approximately 15% of women actually experience their bag of waters breaking on its own at the start of labor. For most, the doctor has to break the bag manually after labor begins (with either “painful” contractions or induction). It was a very specific prayer, but I prayed it regularly: at mealtime, before I went to bed, every hour in the middle of the night when I woke up to go to the bathroom because Baby B was apparently squeezing my bladder in utero, etc.

The OB also said that I was 90% effaced and 1 cm dilated (see here for definitions), so I felt like I was at a really good point and hoped to go into labor soon.

The last two weeks before Baby B arrived were the toughest. He was positioned well: head down, facing my spine, and deep in my pelvis. This last piece - being deep in my pelvis - led to heightened hip/back pain on top of my pre-existing pain and ultimately put me on crutches because I could no longer support my own weight on the left side of my body without excruciating pain. While it was ALL worth it, I simply could not wait to go into labor, and my prayers became even more intense.

When there was no visible progress made by my 38-week appointment, I was deeply discouraged. At this point, I was hardly able to hobble to the bathroom on the crutches and had my heart set on hearing the magic words “Go to the hospital - you’re in labor!” The OB had actually said on two occasions now that there was only a 50/50 chance I would even make it to see her at my next appointment but more likely at the labor. I held it together while the doctor was in the room but fell apart when she stepped out. I SO wanted to meet our little guy but I also wanted him to come on his own, in his own time, as naturally as possible. More waiting lay ahead.

The night before my 39-week appointment, my prayer was answered in the wee hours of the morning. I was awakened by the ever-present, hourly need to use the restroom and grabbed my robe when I got out of bed. As I put on the robe, reached for my crutches, and hobbled my first step, the robe swished against my left leg...and felt wet. I took another step with the same result. Surprised, I finished the 10-step hobble to the bathroom and (without going into too much detail) discovered a very obvious clear fluid water had broken! Praise the Lord!

Below is a time-stamped outline of the events that transpired.

3:45am My water broke - hallelujah! Since we are currently living with my parents while trying to sell our house after moving back to TX, I woke up my mom to get some initial confirmation on my water breaking (since her water broke with my sister and me). We were both fairly confident that is what had happened. Excited, I woke Jacob up, called the after hours line at the OB’s office to confirm I should go to the hospital, and we got things together to leave.

4:30am We arrived at the hospital. In my excited but definitely still preggo-minded state, I confirmed the L&D floor with the security guard downstairs (who can remember little details like that at a time like this?), and we headed to the second floor. When we got to the L&D registration desk, I received some sympathy glances from the nurses since I was hobbling in on crutches, but I also got the “Awww, it’s a first time mom who thinks her water has broken” response when I provided my information. A nurse took me back to a triage room, handed me a gown, and told me to get changed while she gathered a few items.

Once I was changed, another nurse came in and explained that she was going to test my fluid to ensure my water had truly broken. She pulled out a piece of green litmus-type paper and explained that when it came in contact with the fluid, the paper would change to a bright blue if it was amniotic fluid (the result of a broken bag of waters) or would not change color if my water hadn’t broken. She barely touched the paper to the fluid, and it turned bright blue - confirmation! I was relieved that we were in it for the long haul, knowing we wouldn’t leave the hospital until Baby B was born.

The next step was for the nurse to perform a cervical exam to confirm my current state of effacement and dilation. While trying to perform the exam, the nurse said she actually could not find my cervix… Which meant that she went to get another nurse to try.

Let's just say that having two cervical exams back to back is not fun.

Anyway, the second nurse was able to find it and determined that I was 1 to 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. This was not what I had expected because my OB had been telling me I was 90% effaced for two weeks. However, I have learned that because cervical exams are a little bit opinion-based, the results can be different from person-to-person. The nurse did say that the baby’s head was so low she didn't know how I was able to walk. I felt a little bit more justified in using the crutches for the past two weeks!

(As Paul Harvey always said, stayed tuned for “the REST of the story…”)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A good reminder

Have you ever just needed someone to snap you out of your current mindset or limited perspective? Sometimes we know it and fight it; other times, we don't even realize it!

Can I just say right now that there are SO many resources out there about pregnancy? So. Many. I went through a time period in the first trimester where I tried to absorb everything I could get my hands on. Then, I realized that I was reading too much. Thinking too much. *Worrying* too much. The plethora of information was overwhelming and causing some anxiety.

So, I stepped back for a bit. Shifted my focus. Got into a better mindset.

Later in the second trimester and during the third trimester, with a better mindset in tow, I tiptoed back into doing a little bit of research (because goodness knows this baby is coming!). My perspective was that knowledge could help prepare me not to be anxious - the opposite of how I'd approached knowledge previously. My goal was to learn a few things about labor and delivery so that *IF* one of those situations comes up in my own L&D, I wouldn't be as anxious in the moment because I would have heard of them before and seen how they could be addressed. Instead of having a pessimistic outlook (thinking "this is going to happen to me, I just know it"), my aim was to have a realistic/positive outlook (thinking "this might happen to me, and if it does, I'm going to take it in stride").

The approach has worked for the most part...up until last week. At my latest doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I was clearly progressing towards labor (ladies, just imagine some positive stats), and the doctor gave me a 50/50 chance of making to this Wednesday's appointment without going into labor beforehand. One of the positive stats was that she tracked fairly regular contractions. I had called in two days before the appointment about the contractions because they were occurring with some regularity and were pretty strong. When I called and spoke to the nurse, I got the impression that she thought "Awww...first time mom thinks she's having contractions at the 37-week point." I was told to call back if the contractions got painful, my water broke, etc., and otherwise they would see me on Wednesday. So, I felt a little justified when the monitor at the appointment confirmed the contractions. The doctor still said I should wait to officially track the contractions until they hurt and sent me on my way with the expectation that she might see me before this coming Wednesday.

Let's just say the contractions have lasted the whole week. Here's my concern: I'm an athlete. Or, at least I was in my school days, and I like to think I stay decently active. Anyways, I've dislocated a shoulder twice, hyper-extended a knee, shattered a wrist in 7 places, and broken both feet and an elbow in one fall (that one's a story for another day...). So I'm a little worried that I have a high pain tolerance and that when the doctor says I should start tracking contractions when they are painful...will I know when?

This week, I've been really looking into other mother's birth stories and progressions: Did their water break? Did they have the typical contractions that got to 5-1-1 before they went into the hospital? Well, it turns out, only around 15% of women's water breaks on its own - the rest have it broken at the hospital during labor. And I know a number of women who did not have the typical contraction situation (or didn't even go into labor and had to be induced). Ack!

Unfortunately, I've allowed these differences and questions to fog my mind and cause doubt and concern. Even last night, Jacob and I sat on the couch and counted the contractions for an hour, and they occurred with a 6-min frequency, lasting about 1-min each. BUT THEY DIDN'T *HURT*. What does that mean? I called the on-call physician, and she echoed my doctor: Until they hurt, I probably don't need to grab my hospital bag. She did say I could go to the hospital for monitoring or wait them out until morning. We decided to wait.

Back to the purpose of this post. This afternoon,a friend texted me to check in on how I am feeling. I relayed the latest update to her, and she told me that her water broke with all three of her pregnancies. Then, she said something simple and profound - exactly what I needed:

"Isn't it amazing how we all have different experiences in bringing life into this world?"

Before I really had time to think, I responded "Yes - I think it forces us to place our trust in God more. There is no one formula!"

And then I sat there and let the thought wash over me. My words made sense, but am I living them? Am I trusting God in the midst of the unknown? Maybe in some moments of the day, but there have definitely been moments of frustration and uncertainty where I should have turned to God first.

With a renewed perspective, I go into the night and this week casting my anxieties on my Father because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). We will see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How many life events can I pack into a year and a half?

So many emotions and thoughts fill my mind and heart as I consider the past year and a half. A few people have commented recently that there is no way we could squeeze more major life events into such a short amount of time. When I stop to think about it, we sure have lived a whirlwind since August of 2014. I decided to create a timeline of major events to help me put into perspective the things that have tugged at my emotions at times and made me feel more vulnerable than usual.

*My grandfather actually passed away while we were on our honeymoon, so add death in the family to the list.

I’ve found myself quicker to tear up and become anxious at times, and I get frustrated because that is not typical Allyson. BUT, when I think about all of the big changes we’ve been through, I’ve decided to give myself a little grace. My desire is to turn to the Lord when I feel overwhelmed (Phil 4:6-9), and it’s been so helpful for people I love remind me of His faithfulness when my perspective gets clouded.

As I review the timeline and consider all that has happened, I am reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness:

  • At 28 years old, my longest prayed prayer was finally answered through an unexpected meeting in Colorado Springs at a Focus on the Family conference that I attended by myself: I met my future husband. I have seen (and I’m sure will continue to see as the years go by) so many different small prayers about my husband answered in Jacob’s past and his character. We see how God prepared us for each other at times when we found ourselves wondering what the future held.
  • Moving to Kansas after our marriage and proposing a work-from-home situation to my boss gave me an opportunity to prove I could be just as productive remotely in a typically non-remote role, which paved the way for me to continue being able to work remotely as I struggle with constant, daily pain while we wait for an opportunity to address the issue once our son arrives. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to work remotely due to the pain if I had not already worked from home when we moved to Kansas.
  • Jacob passed the CFA and God paved the way for us to move to Texas right at the beginning of the pregnancy. The opportunity to experience this pregnancy with my family has been so special, and it’s been such a lifesaver with having regular physical therapy and other doctor’s appointments to have extra help.

I’ve also recognized the need to begin releasing our son to the Lord even before he joins us in person. I’ve caught myself thinking “As soon as he is born, I won’t have to worry anymore about each sharp pain or discomfort of pregnancy because I’ll be able to see him and know he’s alright.” But his birth will begin a new process of lifting him up to the Lord. I can only work to be a good steward of the opportunity God has given me to mother my son, but I cannot protect him from all harm or know where he is all the time (when he’s older), etc. What I can rely on is the fact that God knows my sweet little boy more intimately than I ever will.

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:13-16)

How incredible to read that God knows my son’s frame even as it is still being woven together inside of me. He knows exactly when he was conceived. He knows what organs formed and when. He knows when the eyelashes came in and when he started to be able to hear my voice. He knows the exact time and date of my son’s birth.

How can I not trust Him, the Creator?

And so my prayer is that I will turn to Him in the moments I feel overwhelmed and ask Him to “search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When is he/He coming?

A few days ago, a really intriguing analogy popped into my head, and I’ve been marinating in it like a good, juicy chicken dish. At 32 weeks pregnant, I know the best thing for Baby B is to keep cooking until 40 weeks; however, I’ve heard enough real-life stories recently to know a few things:

  • Babies don’t know there are American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) rules/standards/odds for when they should arrive
  • Babies don’t tell you when they are coming
  • The third trimester pretty much means anything goes

The third trimester also means I’ve got a heavy case of nesting going on. There are all sorts of preparations to make:

  • Assembling furniture
  • Organizing clothes
  • Stacking diapers
  • Figuring out “systems” for how to organize baby stuff (although I’m sure all these “systems” will be subject to change once our little man appears on the scene and teaches us a lesson or two!)

As I think about the fact that 1) I have no idea when he will arrive, and 2) we are busy making preparations so we will be ready, I am reminded of the second coming of Christ.

  • Only the Father knows when He will return (Matthew 24:36
  • We are advised to “keep watch” and “be alert” because we do not know when He will come (Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:32-33
  • We should devote ourselves to prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2)
  • We must prepare for His return, intentionally putting on faith and hope and encouraging each other (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

Am I preparing my heart for Christ’s return like I’m preparing for the arrival of Baby B? They are both imminent, although I *feel* more connected to Baby B since he is physically inside of me, moving around. And yet, isn’t the Holy Spirit inside of me, stirring me to action?

I’ve got more thinking to do about this analogy, but it’s captured my attention!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The symptoms and other random thoughts

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've done some* research on pregnancy over the past few months because I basically just knew generalities.

(*Okay, by "some," I mean too much. I've learned through this process that while it can be helpful to read/hear some challenges and setbacks so I'm not totally unnerved by certain symptoms or possible "events" during pregnancy, it can also be bad to think on the outliers/extremes too much because it causes anxiety. A little bit of research; a lot of leaving Baby B's health and mine in God's hands.)

Each woman has her own story of symptoms, events, and thoughts during her pregnancy. I thought I'd share a few of mine so far in this journey.
  • Napping is a REAL THING as an adult. I crave sleep in the middle of the day. Perhaps this is God's way of teaching my body to fill up on short-ish bits of sleep for when Baby B is here and I don't get a full night's sleep for awhile. Is there a way to bank all the hours of napping as a reserve for the future?
    NOTE: I've heard from numerous moms that the answer is NO.
  • They're not joking when they say you'll have to pee more often - especially at night. Seriously. At even 5 1/2 months into the pregnancy, I was up pretty consistently at night every two hours to use the restroom. There was a night early on where I was up seven times. SEVEN times. Perhaps this is God's way of preparing me to get up every few hours for feeding Baby B...
  • Yes, I'm more clumsy. And forgetful. Moreso than usual, anyways.
  • I've experienced more strange things in my abdomen than ever before. A little bit of cramping, round ligament pain (sometimes pretty sharp), and now I have the joy of feeling sweet Baby B dancing/kickboxing/punching inside of me. It's the most amazing thing. There is no question this precious life is inside of me when I feel the movement. Sometimes I think he is rock climbing or something, especially when I feel him moving on both sides of my stomach simultaneously.

  • Oh, my aching calves. I bet you thought I'd say something about sciatic or back pain. Well, I've already got that from before Baby B was formed, so I'm more in tune with additional pain. My calves started aching around 18 weeks, and my physical therapist said this is because of my growing belly and shifting center of gravity. I see lots of calf stretches for the duration of this pregnancy!
  • Eating well is so important for mama and baby! Jacob is the protein king, and I've been taking lessons from him. You can read tons of guidelines (and *mandates*) for what to eat during pregnancy (and of course what not to eat, like my favorite deli sandwiches and goat cheese :( ). I got overwhelmed with looking at infographics of what to eat. Seriously, if I lived each day by those infographics, I'd be at the grocery store and spend about 4-5 hours cooking or meal-prepping everyday.

    Here are some of my go-to's:

    • Eggs (scrambled, hard boiled, microwaved)
    • Roasted veggies (broccoli with Tony's and cheese is a great way to get greens, calcium, and a little kick!; zucchini with Tony's is delicious, too, although a bit more spicy)
    • Plain Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon (I know, it's got a bite to it, but the cinnamon helps, and I know the protein and calcium are good for me and Baby B.)
    • Wheat/fiber toast with nut butters (almond butter and natural peanut butter are my favorites)
    • Chicken in all forms and fashions (crockpot, soup, salad, etc.)
    • Apples (primarily Pink Ladies)
    • Oatmeal (cooked and dry)
    • Shelled pumpkin seeds (Sprouts is the place to be)
    • Salmon (in moderation; foil wrapped and baked with olive oil, salt, and pepper)
    • Banana smoothies with whey protein (Jacob buys the Gold Standard whey in Rocky Road, and it is so yummy with bananas and re-frozen to the consistency of ice cream)
    • Quest bars (high protein, low sugar, dense, yummy, convenient! Oh, and you can find them at Bed Bath & Beyond and get a box for 20% off!)

  • A little discomfort sleeping. Now that I'm in the third trimester, Little Mister is poking out enough to make even sleeping on my side uncomfortable at times, even with pillows. The weight of my bump sometimes pulls on my ribs on the side I'm not sleeping on, and it can be pretty achy. The heating pad is my friend.

Well, enough talk of symptoms and such. I take each one in stride because I know it is for a much greater purpose: Baby B! I would do anything for this child. I can't wait to see his precious little face in a few weeks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Coming Soon: Baby B(oan)!

Wow! It sure is hard to keep such good news to ourselves for so long! Jacob and I are proud to announce that we are going to be parents in May 2016.

Okay, so now I can share all the things that I've been catching myself before posting or commenting on for the past 5+ months.

I thought for sure it would take us awhile to get pregnant for a number of reasons, but praise God it happened the first month! We found out pretty early on because I was supposed to have an MRI Arthrogram on my back/hip and wanted to make sure we weren't pregnant before having the MRI since it would not be good for the baby. I took a home pregnancy test about 5 days before my appointment, and it was negative. Then, I took another one about 2 days before...

...and there was a VERY faint line. My heart jumped! I kept the news to myself until I could get a blood test done at the doctor's office. Thankfully, there was a 10:00am time slot available that morning, so I made it in. The nurse told me she would call me by the end of the day with the results.

And the hours dragged on...

Around 4:00pm, I called to check in on the status of the test, and the nurse apologized, telling me the bloodwork actually had to be sent off for testing and that she would call me in the morning. Ah! I kept the news to myself that evening, though it was REALLY hard. I just wanted to make certain I knew for sure before telling Jacob (and cancelling the MRI).

The next morning, I got the call at 8:20am. The nurse said, "I've got good news - you're pregnant!"

And I screamed in her ear.

I was so excited! It was impossible to focus at work the rest of the day, and I could hardly wait until Jacob got home. I finalized my plan to tell him the good news and waited as the hours dragged on until 5:00pm. When he got home, I asked him about his day, and we chatted for a little while. Then, I pulled out my iPad and told him I wanted to show him a picture project I'd been working on (this is not surprising to those of you who know how much I enjoy taking pictures). One by one, I showed him each of the three pictures in the vertical collage below, filling the screen with only that picture:

He looked at me...then at the third picture...then at me...silence...followed by a slow smile. He said, "I need a minute to process." And then we went out to celebrate! 

After things settled in a little bit, I started my research. I am one of those girls that didn't do much wedding planning in my mind before I got engaged (or was even in a relationship) because I didn't want to be disappointed if it didn't happen. Well, same thing with babies. I've seen stuff just because you can't avoid it on Pinterest or Facebook, but I didn't have a long list of registry items prepared or really much of an idea of the stages of development in the womb, etc.

I downloaded two apps on my phone: What to Expect and Baby Bump. Each of them have unique features such as showing you the size of the baby along the way (from poppyseed to appleseed to pea to blueberry to raspberry to olive to prune to lime to plume to peach - and that's just through the first trimester), tracking your measurements, providing tips for nausea and other pregnancy symptoms, etc.

"Morning" Sickness
I felt pretty certain I wouldn't have morning sickness. I literally have not thrown up since second grade. No joke. Well...I still haven't thrown up, but there have been times when I wish I could! I would say more than anything I went through a time of aversion to most foods. (Oh, and "morning" is a misnomer - it's all the time!) If you know me very well, you know I eat a banana/almond/cinnamon smoothie and oats every night. That didn't happen for the first 17 weeks! The aversions went away (mostly) by week 14, but it took awhile to work back into my old favorites. While it was not the most pleasant time, the aversions were manageable, and my sweet husband went out to get me crackers and Sprite. He's so good to me.

Yes, let's not forget dear Jacob. He took over major cleaning for the first trimester (since I can't breathe in cleaning products), finished painting our rental house to go up on the market (since I can't breathe in paint fumes), went on long walks with me, catered to my sometimes interesting cravings (in the first trimester, it was Indian food, banana pudding, and sweet potato and sea salt Triscuits), and has basically just been the best husband ever. Cheers for Jacob!

Doctor's Appointments
We decided not to get the genetic testing done which would also tell us gender much earlier than the normal 20-week ultrasound. This meant that at our 10 week appointment, there might be two options: 

1) My OB would use a Doppler to hear the baby's heartbeat, or 
2) If the heartbeat did not register on the Doppler, we would get our first ultrasound. 

Basically, insurance companies won't cover an ultrasound at 10 weeks unless you can't hear the heartbeat.

I went into the 10 week appointment with mixed feelings. I wanted to hear a heartbeat so I would know Baby B was okay for sure. But part of me wanted to not be able to hear the heartbeat so we could do the ultrasound. The OB brought in the Doppler and slid it around my abdomen for a few minutes, chatting and making light of the situation so I wouldn't be nervous. Then, she smiled kindly and said we had all the reason in the world to get the ultrasound. I was at a crossroads - both nervous and excited. What if something was wrong with Baby B and that is why we couldn't hear the heartbeat? 

We had to wait about 10 minutes for the ultrasound tech to get ready. When she called us into the room, I laid down on the chair, and Jacob stood by the screen. The tech prepped me and kept talking while she rubbed the cool jelly on my abdomen and started roaming around. 

THERE! I see Baby B! Oh my goodness - what a beautiful site! He/she was moving around, and we got to see the legs (those adorable, dangling legs) and lots of movement. In fact, at one moment, the tech was talking while we all watched, and then she became speechless: Baby B did a complete somersault in front of our eyes. How incredible!

She measured him/her to be 3.96 cm long with a heartbeat of 168, and she confirmed that the due date is sometime between May 7-11 2016. 

"For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-16
Now, of course, we know Baby B is a BOY! A lot happens between week 10 and week 23!

(Request: Due to the timing of the joyous news of our pregnancy, I was not able to get the MRI Arthrogram as scheduled. Please pray for healing from pain so that I can be the strong, courageous Mama I want to be for Baby B! Our plan right now is to continue with the official diagnosis after Baby B is born and pursue treatment.)