Saturday, October 30, 2010

3 Day Reprieve!

I have a huge, huge praise!

I haven't been sick since WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!! Wednesday (or maybe it was Tuesday) was a really bad day. Thursday, I was tired, but nothing more. Friday, I actually felt NORMAL. I can't believe it! I worked in the morning and then ran some errands and then came home to take a nap so that I could go to a wedding last night. But I wasn't even tired enough to sleep. And then I went to the wedding, where I just hoped to be able to make it through the ceremony. I made it through the entire thing! And I ate, and talked, and danced, and I didn't once have to run flying for the bathroom! It was a WONDERFUL night. And it was so refreshing for my spirit-I got to spend time with friends, I hung out with Krista and the kids and DH, I ate REAL food (even chicken-something that's been off limits for almost the entire pregnancy!) and we left when we wanted to! instead of when my tummy said I had to! It was so nice! It's the longest I've been away from the house in weeks, and the most amount of social interaction I've had, either. It was so wonderful!

And then today, I expected to feel like garbage as payment for the exertion yesterday. I was exhausted and napped a good long while, and I was a tiny bit queasy, but a Zofran and a Zantac took care of everything and I was able to enjoy the day with DH!

I have to pace myself and keep reminding myself that the REASON I feel so good is probably because I've been sleeping so much, so that's not license to return to "normal" life. If I take away the naptimes, I'll probably add back in the sickness, but it's been SUCH a treat to feel so NORMAL!

Third trimester decided to show up a little early with this kick-your-butt fatigue. In my first trimester, I was physically tired from vomiting and low nutrition, but not the "I'm growing another person inside of me" sort of exhaustion I'd always heard about. MAN! This is like a special kind of tired! But I actually don't mind it. I love the extra rest, the extra fatigue seems to help me sleep harder, the extra rest helps my NVP, and it's nice to have a "normal" pregnancy symptom, too! It's sort of funny to be THIS tired.

I honestly don't know or remember if I've had this many good days in a row through the entire pregnancy! I don't know how long this will last but I'm praying that it's a long time, and I'm praising God for it in the mean time! THANK YOU for praying with us! This break has given me much restoration!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Big decision

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your input on my last post.

After seriously thinking about a lot of the things several of you said, DH and I are at least considering finding a new doctor. But some things other people said are also making me be careful that I don't ditch my doctor in haste.

Those of you who know me in real life will be shocked to hear me say this, but I mean it in earnest: I am a big, fat chicken. I hate interpersonal conflict. I can debate you until the cows come home on an issue but interpersonally, I RUN from conflict. It gives me knots in the pit of my stomach. So the thought of "breaking up" with my doctor stresses me out because I worry about offending him. I've not been more assertive with him because I haven't wanted to argue with him. These are all really dumb things, I know. But as a people-pleaser, they are part of my personality. I've been giving myself this pep-talk over the last few days: "He's not your friend, he's your doctor. He's not your friend, he's your doctor." Lame that I have to actively tell myself that, isn't it.

So I found a couple of recommendations and I have an appointment set up to meet with one next week, and another doctor the week after that. I want to see how those meetings go and see if I click with someone, before I make the decision. If one goes well, THEN I'll transfer. But if they're similar to my current doctor, I'll stay put.

I know some of you must think I'm a terrible mom for even thinking of staying with this doctor, but he's really not terrible. I've been his patient since the month after he opened his practice. As a gynecologist, he was WONDERFUL. He diagnosed my PCOS right away after another doctor couldn't in a year and a half of care. He discovered my cyst that had been paining me for years, and 3 months after I first walked in his doors, he had performed surgery to remove it. He really is the most gentle, mild-mannered doctor on the PLANET. He always was SO careful and patient and delicate during all of my exams. He's also very pro-life, so I always knew that anything he would recommend would be consistent with my values and I never had to second guess.

At the time of my first miscarriage, I'd been experiencing problems leading up to it. I had called the doctor several times, and he pretty much blew me off. A lot of doctors do, especially in early pregnancy. The truth of the matter is that there usually ISN'T a lot that can be done. We've since discovered in my case that an adjustment of my own medications may have helped, but even if it couldn't, no one wants to feel blown off.

In contrast, my current doctor has ALWAYS treated Baby Matthew like a human being. He was never a "product of conception." There was never an attitude of "I won't start caring about him until the second trimester" or anything like that. When I was bleeding, he had me in for an ultrasound, that same day, multiple times. I always felt like even if it was just for my own peace of mind, he treated both me and the baby with dignity. That is so, so important to me. Early pregnancy was so scary for me, and I really felt like I could have as much care as I needed/wanted with this doctor.

I really do like and trust him. And for me, that's really important in a doctor. I feel like if the fundamentals are right, usually the rest falls into place. That's not proving to be the case here, but that's why I've stayed so long because I knew at the core, we were on the same page.

I LOVE the rest of his staff. Seriously LOVE them. Like I want his nurse at my delivery. Considering a LOT of care is actually provided by the office staff, this is a big factor for me, too. I ALWAYS get to talk to my nurse the same day if I need to. In early pregnancy, there were times I called EVERY day. They're compassionate and knowledgeable and again, treated me and Matthew with dignity.

So there's all of that to consider. In a lot of ways he HAS been a WONDERFUL doctor.

But on the other hand, the frustrations I've experienced are maddening. And I've always said that I don't care what religion a person is--I want the best care/service. So I can't place too much emphasis on our common ground if I'm getting substandard care in trade. I just can't decide if I think it's substandard, or if a lot would be solved with a meeting of the minds discussion about communication.

We have a lot to pray about. I want to do what's best for Matthew, and I see a lot of pros and cons on both sides. (Remember what I said about making decisions? I stink at it!)

In other news, we had received a hand-me-down rocker. It broke the other night so we went this week and bought one. It was so COOL to go and sit in all the chairs, and just picture sitting there, rocking Matthew. It was such a quintessential pregnancy experience. I just am so excited for him to get here!

AND, while I was typing all of this, my doctor's office called..............

I PASSED MY GLUCOSE TEST! I DON'T HAVE GESTATIONAL DIABETES!!!!!!!!!! She said all my bloodwork was "normal" so it wasn't even an "passed by the skin of my teeth" result! This really, truly is a miracle, and I almost cried when she told me. I'm almost crying now, just thinking about it. I am so, so, SO grateful for this news, and I thank you for joining me in my petition before, and in my thanksgiving now!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Small Update

Well, the update is that I don't really have one. I won't get my blood test results until Friday.

I still measured big so the doctor wants to do a growth scan, but is still very evasive when I ask him what he's looking for or concerned about. I asked him and he just said "Don't worry about it." I think it was a double--"really, don't worry" and a "stop asking so many questions." It's just odd. The way this doctor communicates is so weird-I don't have him nailed down yet. The only thing we've decided is that we will probably find a new practitioner next time around because we just can't seem to get on the same page with him. It bums me out because I really do LIKE him, and we know we're on the same page fundamentally. And I LOVE his nurse. LOVE her. But I just think this arrangement is frustrating for everyone involved.

Anyway, the ultrasound will be on Monday, when I am 27 weeks. The good news is that I was less big yesterday than I was at the last appointment so the disparity between Matthew's gestational age and my measurements is closing. I can only assume that's good news?

I did get clearance to continue with the various "experiments" I've been doing with the OTC meds I mentioned a couple posts back in dealing with NVP. I hadn't called him for permission when I started them (I did check with the FDA though and the drugs are safe for pregnancy) and he agreed that my plan was good, and that I could continue even more aggressively than I have been. He did say "those things should really help you" and I was only wishing he had thought to suggest them, many months ago! But thank you, bloggyland friends for all your help!!

We met with a doula yesterday. We're evaluating if we think it would be a good fit and help for us. She's still in training so her services would be free--a win win for both of us. She gets practice, and we get her help.

Ok, I have a question for those of you who have undergone EA, or even "just" IVF (I'll explain the "just" in a minute). My doctor is a very conservative Catholic. He objects to IVF, and is on the fence about EA. I do know that I am his first/only EA patient, and am possibly his first/only FET patient because he doesn't recommend/refer ARTs. With increasing frequency, he is cautioning me of things and/or explaining away some of my problems with either how the baby came to exist in me (FET), and/or the fact that the baby is not genetically related to me. Some of the problems are "just" FET, and other things he seems to think are a double whammy because I had FET AND the baby is not related to me. So far he's told me that I'm at greater risk for Gestational Diabetes, Preclampsia, Preterm Labor and a C-Section, all due to one or both of those reasons. He's also labeled me "high risk" for the same reasons. I had both of the Level 2 Ultrasounds because he said the risk that something would be wrong with the baby was higher because of the FET/EA, too. At the beginning, he said my risk for miscarriage was higher as a result.

Have any of you ever been told any of those things? I know that some of the things are true, like the miscarriage risk. And my risks for some of those things is elevated for other reasons (like GD because of my weight and PCOS), but I just can't believe that I'm the ticking time bomb that he's starting to make me feel like I am. I just wonder how much is his personal bias against the procedures to begin with, how much is his own unfamiliarity/inexperience with a pregnancy that came about in this way, and how much is actual medical fact. Please understand, I don't suspect him of willful dishonesty at all. Despite our frustrations with him, the reason we have stayed with him so long is because he is of utmost integrity and commitment to the sanctity of life. But I just wonder if maybe some of the things he is saying come from a moral/religious standpoint, rather than a medical one, perhaps even without him realizing it. We've had that challenge with him in the past, too.

So anyway, do any of you out there who were pregnant through FET (whether with your own DNA or not) have any insight?

I'll post more when I have updates but in the meantime, thanks for your prayers. Tummy is pretty unhappy, so the pup and I are off back to bed!

Monday, October 25, 2010

26 Weeks!

We're nearing the finish line of the second trimester. I can hardly believe it!

Thank you all for your continued prayers. The things I wrote about last week seem to really be helping. In the past 8 or 9 days, I think I've had 4 really bad days. I've been sick almost every other day, too, but in much more manageable amounts that still allow me some normalcy the rest of the day. The biggest help seems to be just changing my pace. If I am up and moving for more than 2-4 hours, I come home and go to sleep before doing more. That seems to help, so much. And when I don't, 100% of the time, I have a bad day later that day or the next day. So as long as I can be disciplined to limit my activity, I seem to do ok. Ah well, at least doing things in short little spurts is preparing me to work around nap times and feedings. I had to laugh though because usually the dog comes and naps with me, but a couple of times recently, he's either woken me up early wanting to play, or flat out refused to join me. You know it's bad when even the dog is bored with nap time! :D So anyway, I'm praising God for the reprieve, however long it lasts!

I have two prayer requests, if you wouldn't mind joining me?

The first is that at my last appointment, my uterus measured large, but my weight was low and baby's weight was average. The doctor said he was concerned by the disparity between the three and that he'd be re-checking this tomorrow. So, I'm praying that all is normal.

The other issue is one that's been freaking me out for weeks. My 1 hour glucose test is tomorrow. If I fail it, it means I have gestational diabetes. I am overweight. I have PCOS with insulin resistance. I have a couple of other indicators and have been officially labeled "pre-diabetic" in my non-pregnant state. Diabetes runs RAMPANT in my family. And Sheila had GD with her pregnancies. So, I have almost every risk factor you can have, except that my glucose levels have always been normal (praise God!). But anyway, all that to say, it would be an absolute miracle if I don't have it.

The thing of it is, what I eat these days is pretty limited. I eat fruit and *very* simple carbs that can be easily broken down--I'm talking Wonder Bread here. I can tolerate some protein, but not much. Anything complex like complex carbs, vegetables, dairy, and most proteins assuredly makes me sick. My body just can't seem to process it. The thing is, if you're diabetic, you really have to stay away from fruit and simple carbs.

Honestly, eating stresses me out enough as it is. I hate to do it because it's a constant waiting game. Finding a small list of things that are usually ok has helped a lot. The thought of adding another food related problem to the mix, and that problem being severe restrictions on what I can eat, really overwhelms me. I've received such little support from my doctor in this area that I don't know how I could really navigate two problems with such opposite solutions, simultaneously, by myself.

So anyway, I know would bring me through it if it is what He has for me, and I want to be prepared to accept it, but I would still really, really, REALLY love to be protected from it instead, so that's what I'm specifically asking for. Would you join me in praying to this end? From what I understand from other friends, this is something I should know the answer to tomorrow.

Hmm, on to fun things. DH worked his cute little tail off last week to get the baby's room ready. We got word that the furniture was coming in 3 weeks sooner than expected. We really had no place to put it yet, and couldn't leave it at the store forever. But I also didn't want to move it more than once, especially because I can't help DH, so that means either we have to arrange for someone to come help, or he in his stubbornness does it himself. So, last weekend we sold all of the furniture that used to be in the room on Craigslist. I don't have a "before" picture of this wall, but it had stained carpet, flat white paint, mismatched furniture, and no fan.

We wanted to hang a ceiling fan in the room, and knew it would be easiest with all the furniture out. We have a flat roof with no crawl space or attic, and the room was not already wired for a fan. So he had to do all the wiring and creatively fish the wire through the smallest holes he could manage, so as not to do too much damage to the dry wall. Then he had to patch over the holes he made and retexture. Then he steam cleaned the carpet and washed the baseboards. Then he painted the ceiling, hung the fan, and painted the two colors on the walls. Last night and this morning he hung the wall border. This morning, he and his dad went and picked up the furniture. Then when we discovered one piece was broken, he took it back to the store. He did this all in 1 week, and still managed to work full time. I did almost nothing. We chose the fan, theme, and colors together, but even those things, he was heavily involved in. I held up the end of the border while he hung it on the wall but even that we had to do in two sittings because I got too tired. He did everything else, and aside from help moving the furniture, he did it all himself. He even came up with the way we'll lay out the furniture in the room. He worked so hard and tirelessly, and the end result is just beautiful, don't you think? I just have two pictures now because the crib isn't put together yet and we had to take back the dresser, but I was too excited to not post anything. So this is the changing table that becomes a nightstand. I'll post more pictures in a few weeks when everything is done.

A little better shot of the furniture:

2 of my 3 boys. Lewis made sure to help by keeping all of the burglars away. Any time DH was in there, Lewis wanted to be in there too. DH was sweet and brought the ottoman in so Lewis could see out the window (his favorite thing to do).

And lastly, my 26 week shots. I'm glad we snapped these before church because about an hour later, I got really sick and stayed sick until lunch time. But at least we got a cute one before hand.

In this one, DH told me to "be creative." I'm pretty sure that part of my brain is broken right now, so I couldn't come up with anything. At least this ones a little different though. And in this one, I can see the difference in the shape of my belly.

Overall, I still don't see much of a change in my appearance, but I'm definitely starting to feel it! I notice I don't bend so well in the middle anymore. DH is having to help me out of low chairs or positions. I've started walking really slow (which is crazy for me because I walk faster than anyone I know), I notice my belly getting in the way of things, the muscles that hold it up are starting to get a little tired, and last week, I even started "the waddle" which until now, I thought was completely intentional and exaggerated on the part of pregnant women--nope, not so much! Right now this stuff is still minor enough that we're finding it to be kind of cute.

And I really should take this opportunity to recognize and thank God for the fact that aside from the NVP, the rest of me is still pretty comfortable. I don't have bad mood swings. I haven't gone crazy on DH. My back and hips don't hurt. For the most part I'm not swollen. I still sleep pretty soundly, albeit with a few potty breaks in the middle. I don't have a ton of round ligament pain, nor do I yet have braxton hicks discomfort. He isn't kicking me in the ribs or diaphragm, or making it tough to breath or move. God has been very merciful in those ways and I really am grateful for it. I know that all of that could change and some people would say "just you wait" but as long as I'm given these gifts, I want to enjoy them and be thankful for them. I need to be more mindful of remembering those things.

In closing, here's what's going on at week 26:
At long last, your little swimmer can see the womb! Your miracle’s little eyelids have finally separated (they were fused closed previously) and they’re probably having their first moments of sight as you read this (or maybe it already happened while you were brushing your teeth or watching Oprah or something). In addition to seeing their little studio in your belly, they’ve recently acquired the ability to say “yes” and “no” in rudimentary sign language as they can now move their head back and forth. This is also the time where your little super star’s head hair is starting to grow! A cute little cowlick or two may be springing into position right now, getting ready for years of cute-but-stubborn bed-head. Also, their toenails have grown in and you little raisin continues to slowly pile up fat beneath their still-loose skin. Most importantly, brain tissue and neurons are all developing at a rapid pace, increasing their (genius-level?) brain activity and will continue to function at accelerated levels for the first seven to eight years of childhood!

And this *just* dawned on me when I saw my ticker. Here it is in more obvious form:

Do you see it? We're into DOUBLE DIGITS now!! I can't hardly believe it!!!

Love to you all...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My very limited HG tips and some pictures

I don't have much of an update. Still sick, though not as bad as last week. Diana posted on her blog last week on my behalf, asking for some other suggestions of things for me to try. There were a couple of things that I've tried that seem to be helping. I've also discovered a few things on my own. I thought I'd post them here in case anyone else can benefit from them. So, if you don't care about HG helps, stop reading now.

Diana suggested drinking Boost (like the Old Person shakes). It's really pretty much sugar and water, but it is fortified with protein and some small portions of vitamins and minerals. Some days, it's the only protein I can keep down, and one little bottle has 15grams, so it's worth it. It doesn't taste too badly, either.

Today the Pharmacist suggested gummy vitamins. I don't know why I didn't think of that. They're certainly better than nothing, and I can space them out. My prenatal vitamins were too hard on me and I continually threw them up, but so far, the gummies seem to be working. The pharmacist suggested that the sugar in them might be part of what's helping. If these don't work, I'll try the little kid ones, which are even less potent.

Diana's blog buddy suggested Zantac 75 to suppress stomach acid. It's a Class B drug so I felt comfortable taking it. I've found that it works much better than Tums. I still take Tums at bedtime for the calcium--some googling I did said that Zantac and Tums can cancel each other out if you take them simultaneously, so watch for that. I've found that the Zantac has made the single biggest difference so far. She also suggested Prilosec, but it's a Class C and I wasn't comfortable with risks. Check with your doctor or midwife before taking anything.

The other big suggestion was basically just easing the work load on my whole system. So what I've been experimenting with the last few days is taking 2 Colace every day (not just when I feel I need it because that's usually too late), the Zantac, and my Zofran. I also try to drink a lot of water because it suppresses the acid production (my Chiro told me that).

I've also taken to skipping lunch and drinking either a fruit smoothie or a Boost or something. I found that when I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, by dessert time, I was miserable. I also found that when things...ahem...backed up intestinally, my vomiting would increase, hence the Colace. My body just seems to not be able to process food that quickly. I'm too hungry to skip lunch altogether but consuming it in liquid form seems to tax my system less. I also try to eat REALLY slowly, and chew my food excessively. I also stick to really simple foods--fruit, simple carbs, and other things that are very easy to break down.

Baby sits transversely, right on my tummy and intestines. In most pregnancies, baby would have moved north by now, but he still seems to LOVE hanging out way down there. So I'm purely hypothesizing, but I think the fact that he's still sitting on those organs is why I continue to have such a hard time this late in pregnancy. He's sitting on a system that's already working slowly because of his very existence. Then he hinders it farther, so the food just gives up and comes back up. My chiropractor thought there could be some validity to this. On the flipside, I don't have the difficulty breathing and the kicks to the ribs, which is just fine with me.

I've noticed two huge non-diet factors that affect me: heat and fatigue. If I do more than about 2 hours of activity--any activity, even light things like walking, by the end of that day, I'm really bad. So I just need to be really disciplined about not overdoing it, especially when I feel "good" and want to make up for lost time. And if I'm behind on sleep, I have to make it a priority to sleep or nap immediately. The more tired I am, the worse I vomit. I nap at length, every single day. The dog loves it! :D

Heat is like kryptonite. I don't know why, but the second I get overheated, I'm done. I just have to pay super close attention to my environment and sit near fans or air conditioners, move slowly, etc.

So I've been trying to concentrate on these things this week. I'm still sick every day, but less frequently and less forcefully. Today was a pretty bad day, but Monday and Tuesday were bearable.

So anyway, those are just some things I've been playing around with and that you may try if you're having a rough time--or you may have already tried them. I'm reading a few books, too, which will hopefully give me some other ideas.

I had to run a couple of errands yesterday and since I was too sick on Sunday to get up and out, we didn't take a picture. So yesterday I put some makeup on and dressed a little more nicely and took a picture, not knowing again this week when I'd feel up to it! (A shower, clean, matching clothes, and makeup all happening on the same day is a rarity these days :D )

So here's 25 weeks. I feel like my belly changed overnight. I'm definitely feeling it in the way I move and walk now.

And lastly, our first "baby." This is Lewis. He HATES the camera. HATES it. He absolutely refuses to look at you when you have it out. He'll turn his back, walk away, hide his head, whatever he can do. DH was trying to take his picture and Lewis wouldn't look at him. I went behind DH and called Lewis and he looked up. We thought we'd fooled him, until we saw the picture. This makes me giggle every time I look at it. Hope it makes you smile.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happily Ever After

This post is epic, as all good love-stories are.

The most wonderful man on the planet is snoozing next to me right now. It's all I can do to not wake him up just to tell him how much I love him.

Meet my DH. He's not grumpy here. His own caption for this is "I always get my happy faces mixed up. This is my "I'm smiling on the inside" face. Can't you tell?" I just love this picture. It captures just the tiniest bit of his sassyness.

As I mentioned, last week, we passed 10 years since our first date.

This was a photo of that evening. We didn't realize it was a "date" at the time, but it sort of ended up that way.

But, let's back up.

DH and I were both part of a small honors program at the University we attended. At the time, the program was small enough, that it was pretty easy for everyone to know everyone else, or at least know OF them. In addition, I personally was pretty visible because I was involved in a lot of different activities and it was a small school.

Our first year, one of the professors held a Halloween party. We both attended. I had taken an interest in DH's roommate, and he had taken an interest in some other girl, and we were both there hoping for some social interaction with the objects of our affection. I saw DH walk in with his roommate, and just sort of took notice of him as "So and so's tall roommate." For most of the next year, that's who DH was to me.

Fast forward to the end of the year. The program was putting together a welcoming program for the next year's first year students. I and a friend coordinated the part of the program that would pair a returning student with a new student and I hosted an informational meeting. DH attended and signed up to be a mentor. By this time I'd long lost interest in the first boy. Something DH said or did that night put him on my radar, but not strongly so. But enough that even now I remember where he was sitting and I remember interacting with him, even if I don't remember about what.

We all went home for the summer and came back a week early to welcome the new students. Well, we were allowed in the dorms, but the cafeteria wasn't open. The dorms had kitchens but they weren't stocked with anything, and no cooking (not even toasters or microwaves) was allowed in the rooms, so most people didn't have pots, pans, cooking utensils, etc. Plus, a lot didn't have cars so we quickly we figured out that dinner was going to be a challenge. I volunteered to cook for everyone in our dorm kitchen.

Somehow I got delayed so I put a sign on the kitchen door that told folks I'd be a little late and off I went to the store. I came back with the groceries and discovered that my sign had been hidden and everyone was waiting--patient, but hungry. I felt like a terrible hostess and quickly set to flying around the kitchen. DH came up to me and told me to slow down, chill out, and then he said, "You do so much, you make other people tired!" I thought to myself, "What a jerk! But what an observant jerk!" Something inside me said "has this guy been paying attention to me? I'm flattered and offended at the same time." His honesty and skills of observation were honestly the first two things that impressed me about him, not to mention the fact that he signed up to be a mentor in the first place. Dinner otherwise went off without a hitch.

About that time, his roommate (same one) developed an interest in my roommate. The culture at our small Christian College was definitely one of group activities at the beginning of a relationship, rather than jumping right into dating. So we received lots of invitations from the boys for bonfires, volleyball games, movies, etc. DH's path and mine often had occasion to cross. I discovered that DH was funny, and sweet, and intelligent, and gentle. I wanted to know more!

I began devising ways to "accidentally" bump into DH. Our dorms were at separate ends of the campus, but if I walked the REALLY long way to class, I might pass him. One morning a week we had classes in the same building and I'd happen to "accidentally" walk near his, even though it wasn't at all in my path. We began attending the same church (this part really WAS unintentional on both our parts) but once I discovered that, on Sunday mornings I'd always sit in his eyeline--not conspicuously so, but just close enough that I knew he could see me. At the cafeteria, if I happened to see him, I'd do the same--sit a few tables away, but where he'd have to pass me by to leave. I planned "group" events, and while other people showing up was nice, it was his attendance I was interested in. DH likes to joke that I stalked him. I say, "Hey, it worked, didn't it?" We also ended up together on a team that was going on a missions trip. This one was also unintentional on both our parts--it was with an organization I'd worked with for 5 years already, and his high school buddy was coordinating the trip. But in all the meetings, we also had a lot of time to see each other.

As I said, we attended the same church. He and I were some of the only two with cars, so we often coordinated with each other to shuttle the other students back and forth. As such we ended up back on campus around the same time, and usually the whole gang of us ended up going to lunch together in the cafeteria.

Sunday dinners in the cafeteria were AWFUL. They made this TERRIBLE pizza that no one ate. The next day, it was out as leftovers. The second day, they'd cut it up into pizza breadsticks. Then it would finally show up either in soup or as croutons. Seriously, the stuff was BAD. Anyway, we're sitting around lunch one Sunday afternoon and I mention to my roommates that I can't stomach one more pizza night, and would they like to cook dinner that night? I definitely had an ulterior motive. I wanted Todd to come have dinner. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the guys nudging each other with a "hey, maybe we can get in on this." Perfect. My plan was working. I coyly asked "do any of you want to come." Their hands shot up in the air. DH came, along with two other guys, and joined my 2 roommates and me.

The next week, we were doing the lunch thing again, and DH said something like "hey, do you think we could do that dinner thing again tonight?" SURE! Then he asked if he could bring some more guys. Sure! The more, the merrier. I think we had 5 guys that night.

The same thing continued, week after week. Soon, we were up to almost all of his roommates (9 total) and their girlfriends. Cooking for 20ish sounds like torture to most, but I LOVED it. Sunday dinners were the highlight of my week. They went on for more than a year, and they're still one of my favorite college memories.

This is part of the gang--DH and I were a couple by this point.

So by this point, I have tons of interest in DH. So I planned another one of my "group" events. The honors program was having a Convocation. I shot out an email to a bunch of people, inviting them to go out for dessert afterward. We started out with several committed. But the convocation went long. And then the restaurant I planned it for either didn't exist or was closed or something. And then the second restaurant didn't have room for us all or something. For whatever reason, we moved locations several times, and each time, the group dwindled. We finally ended up at Denny's, and there were just 5 of us left (see photo above). We had a nice dessert. Eventually, DH and I ended up alone together talking. It was October 5th, 2000.

I left within the week to go visit family out of state. I remember taking that picture with me and telling my relatives that I thought I'd found "the one."

A couple of weeks later, DH called and asked me if I'd like to go see "Remember the Titans" with him and some friends. I missed the call but he left me a message on my machine. I checked it and was so bummed that I'd missed it, but called him back to see if it was still an option. It was. So, he picked me up in his little Honda Civic. Crammed in the backseat were 3 of his roommates. I found out later that none of them wanted to go--he basically told them they had to because he wanted to take me out, but didn't want it to look too date-ish. They lived in a quad. I joked that you didn't actually date one of the guys, you dated the quad. It's amazing that I remember anything about the movie at all--I was just so tickled pink that I was sitting next to this sweet man in a movie theatre.

We did a lot more of these group activities throughout the fall. We didn't call it dating yet, but it was pretty obvious to the entire rest of the planet that we only had eyes for each other.

Our Missions Trip was over Christmas break. We had borrowed a truck from a friend, and we rented a van. We also weren't leaving until a day or two after the dorms closed, so my mom said we could all stay with them. We had an extra car, and we couldn't leave it on campus over the break, so DH and I made a plan to drive it up the night before we left and drop it off, then ride back down together so that we could bring another car the next day with the rest of the team. Secretly, this was also my plan to get to introduce DH to my family.

He walks in, and I'm literally IN THE PROCESS of introducing him to my mom, when my childhood dog has a heart attack and dies. Talk about the worst timing ever. My mom and I were both distraught so my mom basically apologized for making such a request of a stranger, but would DH be so kind as to pick up the dog and go with her to the vet? I later learned that both DH and I thought it was all over--he thought we'd blame him for killing the dog (or at least forever associate him with the dog's death), and I thought he'd think my mom was crazy for making him pick the dog up. I was sitting in the waiting room. He put his arm around me, I put my head on his shoulder, and 10 seconds later we both pulled back with the "uh, is this allowed?" awkwardness. We went back to school that night, left a few days later for our missions trip. The trip was fruitful and productive, and there were also definitely a lot of sparks flying. We came home and then each went our respective ways for the remaining 5 weeks of vacation. We corresponded a little bit over email during our break but this was 2000 and email wasn't as big of a deal back then.

I came back to campus and a couple of his roommates were already back and invited me to come watch a movie with them. I thought it sounded like fun, so I did. I actually had no idea DH was back yet because he wasn't due for a couple of more days. I remember walking into his dorm lobby and hearing someone call my name from upstairs. I looked up and there he was. It literally took my breath away to see him and dawned on me how much I'd missed him. I was gone, hook, line, and sinker.

But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why DH wouldn't make things "official." We'd never had a DTR to this point. We were dating--we just weren't calling it that. No one else could have possibly pursued either one of us if they'd wanted to. I later found out that DH told one or two of his roommates to back off when they developed an interest in me. But still we lived in ambiguity.

I remember lying on a couch one night with my head in my best friend's lap just sobbing about DH. I couldn't figure out what was going on with him, and if he really cared for me or not and what his intentions were. I remember saying "I'm probably all worked up over a situation that doesn't exist!" My friend consoled me, but I later found out, was secretly laughing at me. I was really the only one who was unclear about DH's affections for me.

DH's parents came to town and he invited me to go out to lunch with them. I thought it would be them and him and all his friends, but it was just me. I guess either his mom invited them, or they wanted to come or something, and he uninvited them all. Then I was REALLY confused. A "double date" with the parents? Apparently, he wanted me to meet them before making anything "official." The meeting went well and they went back to Arizona.

By that time, I was frustrated and tired of waiting so I decided that I was done waiting and I was moving on. It was now almost February, we'd been doing this "in between thing" since October, and nothing was changing. Apparently, other people decided it was taking too long, too. Some gals in his group from the honors program gave him an earful, and a guy I barely even knew pulled him aside and told him to make a decision and commit, or move on because the in between-ness wasn't fair.

I guess DH decided it was time for action. He invited me to do a puzzle with him--something we'd done before. I agreed, but was only moderately interested in attending at that point--I had mentally begun to divest myself of the situation. We met in the Student Union Building. My office was in the same building and I had a staff meeting that night. We started on the puzzle, worked a while, and I excused myself for my meeting. When I came back, I was surprised at how much of the puzzle he'd completed in my absence. As we were doing the puzzle, I had noticed that the pieces had writing on the back. My dad was an avid puzzle doer when I was growing up and had many double-sided puzzles. I figured this was one of those and didn't think anything of it. We got down to the last piece and DH insisted that I put it in. Then he casually asked, "Do you want to see what's on the back?" Not thinking anything of it, I said something elegant like, "Um, sure. Whatever."

In one swift motion he literally whips the completed puzzle off the table, flips it over and slaps it back down, without any of the pieces falling apart. I later learned that he had done the puzzle several times in his room and practiced this move. He'd also had his roommates come help him finish the puzzle while I was in my meeting so that he could speed the process along.

On the back of the puzzle was a poem, written in french. It's this sweet poem where the author asks his lady friend if she wants to continue down the journey of life hand in hand and see where God will take them. I speak french, but DH doesn't. So, I *honestly* thought that this poem was just something pre-printed on to the puzzle, as maybe a declaration of love from the puzzle's artist to his love or something. And again, by this time I'd already given up hope of DH actually moving our relationship forward. So I read the poem, translate it for DH and then just sort of sit there. I notice that he's looking at me with this really expectant look on his face that says, "Well??" Then the light-bulb goes off. The poem is for me, from DH. I read it again, and I meekly nod my head "yes" to DH.

I said "hold on, I want to write this down." I jumped up from the table and ran back to my office for pen and paper. Little did I know, the roommates are out in the bushes outside, videotaping all of this. Since all they could do was see and not hear, to them it looked like I had read the poem, jumped up, and ran away! They came in upset, ready to tell DH was a jerk I was to trounce his heart like that. He quickly told them all was not how it looked and shooed them back outside. (I've never seen the video and they accidentally recorded over it later).

DH walked me back through campus. I kept running in to people I know, wanting to tell them what had just happened. They all knew! Apparently, his plan took the help of several people (translating the poem was a big one), and additionally, his roommates had essentially barred people from coming into the Student Union, and explained to people what was happening. And again, I was the only one truly clueless as to what DH's intentions were. Most people responded with "I know" or "duh," or "It's about time!" It was February 5, 2001, 4 months to the day exactly after our first "date."

I think this is the first photo I have of us as a couple. This was in March or April sometime, on a group date with the guys from his floor (a University tradition called Get Your Roommate a Date). Not surprisingly, his floor went with a Godfather/Mafia theme. Like I said-you get one, you get them all.

We courted for another year and a half, and he proposed on August 2, 2002. We were married on June 28, 2003. I definitely put myself in his line of sight at the beginning, but left it up to him to actually pursue a relationship. The joke in our family is that I chased him until he caught me.

I thought I loved him then. And I did. But never could I have imagined where our life would be 10 years later.

He is all the things a good man ought to be: godly, loving, kind, generous, gentle, sweet, patient, faithful, humble, honest, protective, and hard working. He walks with the Lord and is upright and of integrity. He's also exceptionally intelligent, industrious, resourceful, insightful, and intuitive. He's gifted with wisdom and his instincts are often correct. And he is the silliest man I know, which I just love. He gives me more deep belly laughs than just about anyone I know. Sometimes it's a clever, witty sort of silly, and other times it's a shamelessly dancing some dance he just made up in the middle of the floor at his best friend's wedding sort of silly. I can't wait for he and Matthew to be silly together.

One of my favorite things about him is how humble he is and how pays attention to the little things in life. It's that same quiet observation that drew me to him in the first place. He's NOT a detail-oriented person, but yet he does the little things, faithfully and quietly. He's always done the "guy" jobs like taking out the trash, maintaining the cars, etc. But these days, he does all the jobs. I can't remember the last time I pumped my own gas. My car "magically," never runs out. He changes the sheets on the bed. He does the laundry. He goes to the grocery store. He mows the grass. He does the dishes. He goes to the bank. He feeds the dog. He cleans the house. All while suggesting to me that I go lie down, and asking if he can bring me anything or do anything for me, and all after working a hard day in a manual-labor job in his own business, in the Arizona sunshine. He's one of only two deacons at our church and the only deacon who can well-attend to the physical aspects of the job. He's also the church treasurer. And until recently when I asked him to step down because he was getting overwhelmed, was an Awana leader. He gives and gives and gives, and then gives some more.

He's all the other things a girl wants too--loving and sappy and romantic and loyal, in addition to possessing of all of the other fruits and character qualities I already mentioned. Lots of guys get the big picture right. But DH gets the little things, too. He just loves well. I love him for who he is as a man in general, and who he is as my husband specifically. You take me out of the equation, and he's still the most lovable person I know. I never want to just love him because of how he loves me. He's perfectly and wholly lovable, completely in his own right.

He is quite literally, the most wonderful man I know. I love you, Hunny! Thank you for being the man you are. Thank you for choosing me.

And thanks to all the rest of you for reading our story and indulging me while I brag all over my DH. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Counting My Blessings

My friend Jess shared an HG blog with me in which the author said something to the effect of "I'm prone to counting my vomiting sessions, not my blessings." Those of you who have hung in there with me through my endless posts about bathroom functions would probably say, "We know someone like that!" You all have been so patient while HG/NVP has been such a constant topic here. Thank you!

So tonight, I want to focus on counting my blessings. I talked to someone else tonight, who asked me essentially, "what else is going on in your life?" I told her that when you live your life in 2 hour increments, there's not much time for much else. And to a large degree that's true. But even still, God's faithfulness abounds. When I'm in the midst of heaving, it's really hard to remember that. So I guess think of this post as my Ebenezer stone--a reminder to myself of God's goodness.

My God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His Son died on the cross for me, has forgiven me of all my sins, and His Spirit is my constant companion and wisdom. The Lord be ever praised!

I have the most wonderful, faithful, loving, patient, generous, servant-hearted, tender, compassionate, sweet, funny, long-suffering, wise, humble husband on the planet. We just celebrated 10 years since our first date--what an amazing gift this man is to me. I thought I knew it then, but God shows me more each day.

My sweet Matthew continues to grow inside me. He's been kicking up a STORM today. Through all my worrying, his carefree movements are such a sweet blessing of reassurance to me. It's as if he's saying, "It's ok, Momma! I'm just hangin out!"

DH got to feel Matthew for the first time today. His kicks were really strong. DH thought he felt him yesterday, but today it was really definite and DH felt him multiple times. I've been waiting so much for this!

I have so many wonderful friends and family who reach out to me, even when I'm in my funk and don't want to be reached out, and when I'm too sick to keep up my end of the relationship.

God continues to bless us so generously through our friends and family and even strangers with tangible resources and provisions for Baby Matthew.

I had one 30 hour period this weekend of no sickness. It was wonderful! My muscles got a chance to relax a little bit and the pain subsided some, I was able to eat some substantial food, I stopped feeling hungry, I was able to sleep long and hard, and I even got some quality time in with my parents and with DH. When the sickness came back, it was not as forceful or frequent, and I felt better prepared physically and mentally to handle it.

As I shared already, I have a wonderful, wise pastor who challenges and encourages me.

I am now 25 weeks along! Baby Matthew has graduated from a papaya to an eggplant! Funny how fruits and vegetables suddenly become cute!

So to close, here's what's going on with Matthew this week. He's been lying transversely and lowly, which I must say, while it puts a cramp in my digestive style, I haven't had the trouble breathing and the rib poking that a lot of my friends whose babies have been sitting higher have had. I guess he might start rotating soon. I certainly don't want him to start the birth process breach, but so far, it's been nice to have him hang out low. Guess he's going to start migrating any day though now...

Your little grower’s physical proportions are evening out at this point and most of their remaining development will largely be weight gain and lots and lots of nervous system development. The good news is: if your child is born premature now they’ll be more likely to survive without too much trauma as their lungs began to produce “surfactant” last week, which means their tiny respiratory system is getting stronger with each passing day. Yes, now’s a good time for a minor sigh of relief and a quick pat on the back. All that hard work and conscientious living is really getting your child prepared for a healthy delivery. Keep up the fabulous work mama! This week they’ll be scootching slowly out of the old breech position and start rotating (already!) into a better position for exit during their birth. Their head and feet are slowly rotating so that the head is pointed down towards the birth canal. Time is short (or really long, depending on who you ask)—just (still!) 14 weeks left before you can go back to being a single-resident human.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank you

Thank you, friends.

Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for not telling me to try lemons, or ginger, or Unisom. Thank you for not minimizing my frustration or telling me to get over it. And thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement. I really appreciate it.

I'm still feeling pretty sick, but mentally I'm a little better.

We go to a little church that only has about 100 people. One of the things I LOVE about a little church is that you can really know your Pastor. A Pastor's job as shepherd is far more important to me than his job as preacher. And my pastor is one of the most gifted shepherds I know. I was there yesterday and poked my head in his office. He asked how I was and the tears just started coming. He immediately had me sit down and we talked. I love that I don't have to make an appointment, or go through 3 secretaries to be able to talk to him.

I'm going to share what he told me so I can re-read it when I need it, but also so that other women who are going through this can take to heart what he said and consider them in terms of their own pregnancies. These things really encouraged me and challenged me. I thought they were constructive and insightful. In retrospect, they're all pretty obvious things, but I really needed to hear them yesterday. I was just so deep in frustration and pain that I couldn't really think clearly.

1. I am Matthew's only mommy. Everyone else can help with the dishes, my job, the chores, whatever, but I am the only one who can be his mommy, and carry him at this point. If that's the ONLY job I can do right now, that's enough. This was particularly helpful for me as I struggle with feeling pretty useless right now.

2. God knew all of this would happen, and He still chose me to be mom to Matthew. So while I think there could be a better situation out there for Matthew with a mommy who is not so sick and can give better care to him in-utero, there isn't. God knew this is exactly what both I and Matthew would get, and put us together anyway.

3. I have the luxury of worrying about the kind of food I'm eating. Many other people don't. Additionally, many other babies are born to moms with addiction problems, eating disorders, other health problems, etc. So while my situation is not "ideal" for him, it's far better than the situation afforded to many other children.

4. Matthew already has what matters: parents who love the Lord, who love each other, and who love him, and a multitude of friends and family who already love him. Everything else is secondary. On the flipside, there are babies whose mommies have 100% healthy pregnancies, but who don't have those things. Matthew is already blessed with the things that matter.

5. Just as I can't go back and change the past, I can't focus on the future, either. A few of you also pointed out that I can't really be thinking about the future babies while I'm so exhausted and hormonal and sick. God gives me enough grace to get through today. Tomorrow will have its own measure of grace and when it comes time to make those decisions, He will provide what we need.

6. Most of the things I was sharing are rooted in either guilt or fear, the two things that most frequently and strongly take hold in my heart. So I already struggle with those things, even when I'm feeling well. So I need to recognize that propensity and how much stronger it is when I'm feeling weak. Additionally, those two things both have strong physiological effects, so struggling with them could very likely be contributing to the severity of how I'm feeling. Undoubtedly a lot of it is purely physical, but the psychological element can't be helping. He encouraged me to pray specifically about fear, rather than about the physical illness.

So anyway, those, in addition to the things you all shared with me, are what I'm noodling on. I really appreciate how gentle and constructive you each were. You've really blessed me, and continue to do so with your prayers.

Love to you all...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Middle of the Night Whining

Warning: This post is very Debbie-downer. I have to get these thoughts out of my head. It contains my frustrations with pregnancy, which I know may be hard for some of you who are dreaming of being pregnant. Please feel free to stop reading now. I don't want this to hurt or offend anyone.

It's 1:30 am and I've just finished vomiting, again. I've been sick all evening. I was sick most of yesterday too. Sunday was awful. So was last Thursday. And most of the days for the last 2 weeks. For whatever reason, my NVP is increasing in frequency again. Most days, I lose count of how many times I vomit. And once it starts, it doesn't stop until my stomach is completely empty and I am throwing up bile or dry heaving.

I know I complain about this often and you all are probably sick (get it??) of hearing about it, but I'm just overwhelmed with this. I physically ache from vomiting so often. My throat hurts, my esophagus hurts, my abs hurt, my mouth hurts, my gums and teeth are bothering me (from all the stomach acid). I finish an episode and I literally just lie there panting and exhausted. I physically feel hungry all the time.

My house is in absolute shambles. Today I couldn't even finish folding a couple of loads of laundry before I had to lie down again. I'm in this constant state of eat, throw-up, sleep, over and over again. It's maddening. I can't keep up with my life, so I end up feeling pathetic and useless. Any exertion costs me for days in recuperation. I can't exercise or eat properly, and my sleep schedule is really messed up from all the napping, so while I sleep all the time, it's in weird increments and combined with the physical exertion of vomiting, I'm still tired all the time.

Extreme NVP, or Hyperemisis Gravidarum, or whatever it is I have is so frustrating, because everybody thinks they know what it's like. I don't know how to politely say this: this isn't your mother's morning sickness. It's probably not even your morning sickness. Honestly, I've only known 1 woman who has been THIS sick. But because everyone thinks it's "just" morning sickness, I've received endless suggestions and comments about how if I just try ginger, or peppermint, or sea bands, or saltines, it will all be better. Or if I just wait til X amount of weeks, it will magically go away. I've tried all that. I have. And it doesn't work. Neither do the 4 prescriptions I've been on. This isn't just a little case of pregnancy tummy upset.

There are the people who try to commiserate with me by sharing about that one time they almost got sick, or those 3-4 weeks they vomited every other day, or how for their first trimester, they were nauseated several hours a day, but honestly, it usually just makes me feel jealous. It reminds me that this could be easier, and for many it is, but in this case, it just isn't.

Then the people who think it's "just" morning sickness think that I'm overreacting and complaining about something every woman has to go through. Honestly, if every pregnant woman had to go through this, I think the human race would become extinct. I happened to be speaking to someone yesterday just after one of my episodes, and they could hear how exhausted I was. Though this person has known I've been sick, they truly sounded surprised at the extremeness. I wondered what she thought I'd been talking about these last 6 months.

There are the people who try to say things like "well, in a way I'm glad you're sick because it's a reminder that you're still pregnant." Or, "just be grateful for the reason you're sick." Of COURSE I'm grateful for Matthew and I thank God for every day he's with me, but that doesn't mean I can't just be really really tired of the physical toll this is taking on me.

And I just want to scream! Believe me. I have heard it all. I have tried everything. I guess I don't want another old wives tale or trick or an admonishment to get over it. I don't want anyone else to try and fix me. If God won't and neither my doctor or I CAN, I'm pretty sure no one else can either. I just want to feel better and I feel utterly helpless to make that happen.

Then there are the darker thoughts that I really don't know what to do with.

There's the guilt I feel for uttering one word of complaint after trying and praying for this for 6 years. After other people are still waiting. After others have buried their children and would kill to be sick if it meant they got to have their babies back.

I worry so much about Matthew. I worry about the fact that I can only get *maybe* a half a cup or a cup of fruits and vegetables down per week. I worry that one of the things that actually helps me on occasion is a Coca Cola, which is full of caffeine and sugar. I worry about the fact that I'm not exercising, both for what it means for me and Matthew, and what it means for an increase in difficulty in labor. I worry about the fact that I lost another 2 pounds this week, putting me back at a net 0 weight change. I should have gained 8-12 pounds by now. I worry that I'm setting him up to be deficient in some thing--or many things. I worry about the 4 medications I've tried and the fact that I continue to take one of them very regularly. It's assumed to be safe, but no dedicated studies have been done because frankly, no pregnant woman wants to be a guinea pig. So I just have to hope and pray that it really is safe, and that between the medication or not eating at all, the medication is the "safer" bet. But I could be wrong. I know no amount of worrying will change what is already ordained from him but I can't escape this overwhelming guilt.

And harder than that are the thoughts I have about my 6 babies still frozen. I love them with my whole heart. I've believed from the beginning that they are ours, were always ours--that God chose them for us and us for them. I love them as much as I do my 5 already in Heaven and their brother on the way. But honestly, I don't know how I can do this again. And that scares me. I don't know how to face this again, but I don't know how to face any other decision, either. I'm ashamed to say that some days I think about whether or not we'll have to allow someone else to adopt them. What kind of mother am I that I would even consider such a thing over something as small as vomiting? I HATE that my thoughts even go there, but some days, they can't not.

Between DH and I, the only reproductive organ that works right is my uterus, which is the only one you need for EA. I've always taken that, and many other things, as sure direction from God that EA was what He had for us. I HATE that EA is treated like a fertility treatment. I believe that it is a calling to save little lives and I believe that He gave that calling to us. It's so maddening to have that conviction, but to have your body fail you. I wonder-did we get it wrong? Did we misunderstand? And if we were right, why is this particular roadblock not being removed? I resent that I can't look back on this time with pleasure and fondness.

I don't know what to do with all these thoughts. I don't know how to get out from under the physical exhaustion. I don't know how to admit and recognize the thoughts and then leave them at the foot of the cross. I don't know how to stop feeling guilt or worry, even though I know both are sins. I pray for relief from this, but honestly, it's half-hearted at times because I just expect it to continue.

So I don't know. I guess I hoped by actually writing all of this down, I could get it out of my head and abandon some of it. I desperately covet your prayers either for physical relief, or grace to deal with these thoughts and emotions. Thanks for reading. I'm sorry I'm so whiney. I hope you can be patient with me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

24 weeks!

24 weeks. 6 months. The point at which a baby becomes viable outside the womb. As long as I've been pregnant, I've been waiting for now. Now Baby Matthew, listen carefully. I don't WANT you to come now. You still have a lot of growing to do. So this is NOT an invitation. But I did breath a little easier knowing now that with each passing day, there is a greater chance that they could do something to help him if God forbid, something went wrong. It means that if we went to a hospital for help, they'd treat him like a person, not a "product of conception." Before now, if something went wrong, they'd tell me to go home and hope for the best. Now, they would/could actually do something.

I guess that probably all sounds a little morbid, but with a history of loss, you just tend to think about things like that. I praise God for each day that Baby Matthew stays put in his secret spot. He's growing so cozily in there and while pregnancy is tough, there's a part of me that could keep him in there forever because I know he's safe. So, thank you God, for 24 weeks. And in faith we're claiming 16ish more. Thank you for those, too.

We've had a nice week. My NVP was back with a *vengeance* this week which put a damper on things, but we were given much for which to be thankful.

It's finally starting to cool down here. We had one of the worst storms on record in Phoenix history this week-it was crazy. We had hail the size of quarters, and friends on the other side of town had hail the size of golf balls. Though it wreaked havoc on the landscaping around town, damage to life and property was minimal so God really protected our desert that is completely ill-equipped for any rain, much less a downpour.

DH's parents took us to lunch and gave us a sweet gift. Isn't this little monkey cute? He's a monkey on top and blanket on the bottom and he folds up into the perfect size for a diaper bag or stroller. He's super soft and I had to remind DH that he belongs to Matthew. They gave us a sweet little book, too. It's still so surreal to actually be receiving baby gifts. Every time, it's another realization that he really is coming. Somebody pinch me.

We think we made up our mind-ish on paint. Forgive me lousy photoshop skills but this is the mockup I made. This was our compromise--not quite pastel, but not earth tone or bright, either. We'll see how it actually looks. Unfortunately the fabric samples I ordered arrived and are pretty much useless, so I think we'll just go buy the valance or something small and then truck on over to Home De.pot from there. I'm terrible about actually converting the idea in my head to an actual paint color (do me a favor and don't ever ask my DH about the painting our kitchen incident!) Unfortunately the color that's perfect in my head never actually exists on a paint chip, so then we venture into the land of tweaking something existing, and I'm only successful part of the time. We'll see how I do! But anyway, here's the concept. We went with blue on top because we intend to hang the blanket, and it's got a green border around it so we thought it would pop better off the blue wall.

My Aunt and Uncle mailed us a card with a generous contribution toward Matthew's bedroom furniture. I just can't believe how generous people have been already, and he's not even here yet! Aunt and Uncle, if you're reading, thank you! We love you. Your gift was so completely unexpected and we are so grateful! It blesses me so much to know that Matthew already has so many people waiting in the wings to bless us and bless him. What more could a mama want?

We had a fun day yesterday. There's another couple in our church who is just 6 days behind us in pregnancy-that will be fun for our kids. We don't know them well, so we went to breakfast yesterday, which was nice. The youngest adult member of the WWF is getting married shortly, so we had her bridal shower yesterday afternoon. And last night we enjoyed dinner and goofy-golfing with the couples who got married earlier this year. I just love spending time with people we love. I haven't been able to do it much this pregnancy and I'm grateful I was able to do it yesterday. I'm sort of paying for it all today, but it was worth it.

God used a friend (friends?) of ours to bless our socks off yesterday. And we have no idea who He used. I was gone at the shower, and DH was out in the backyard with all the dogs (we have ours and my mom's 3 this week). Somehow during that tiny little window when I wasn't home and the dogs and DH weren't inside to hear, someone dropped off 3 gigantic boxes on our sidewalk. On the outside was a note.

Here's what was inside the boxes:

28 packages of 7th Generation Diapers: 4 packages of newborn diapers, and 8 packages each of sizes 1-3. We're just flabbergasted. Each package has at least 40 diapers in it, so there are over 1000 diapers here. By everything we can guess from reading, that's 3-6 months worth of diapers, depending on how big he is at birth, how fast he grows, and how quickly he goes through them.

We don't have *any* idea who our Diaper Fairy is. All we know is that he or she lives in Arizona, or knows someone who does, because the boxes were hand-delivered. There are no shipping, courier, or address labels on any of the boxes and no packing slips or anything inside. The other thing we can guess is that he or she reads either my facebook page or my blog. I had a discussion about cloth or disposable diapers on my facebook page and later announced there our ultimate decision to use this particular brand (they lack the chemical that concerned us about other disposables). Or, they read on this blog the name of the two stores we're registered at and looked at a registry and saw our brand preference. But those two things narrows the list down to oh, 150 people or so? We have no idea who it is beyond that.

So whoever you are, if you're reading, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We are overwhelmed by your generosity. You've blessed us immensely. I teared up when I opened the boxes. After we opened 1, we thought "surely, the other two can't be diapers, too!" But they were. Your generosity overflowed. We were literally both speechless. We couldn't believe that someone would do that for us, and we are humbled. We know the person deliberately chose to be anonymous so we are intentionally trying not to "investigate" and find out who it is, so please accept our gratitude this way. Thank you for being an instrument of God's grace and provision and abundance for us. Whoever you are, we thank God for you and we love you.

I guess I'll close with what Matthew will be up to this week:
This is another big week for your magical growing baby! Just take a look at the checklist for this week: 1) ears: done; 2) fingernails: done; 3) (if you have a boy) testicles: taking their 3-4 day trip from the abdominal wall to the scrotum; and 4) lungs walls: secreting “surfactant”. What’s that? Well, surfactant is sort of what it sounds like: a surface-activated fat whose main purpose is to assist the your baby's little lungs during inflation (as in, filling with air, not getting more expensive). Just in case you’re curious, your submerged baby is still breathing in amniotic fluid, preparing and rehearsing the lungs an oxygen-filled life outside the womb. By the end of this week, your child will be weighing around 2 lbs and 14 inches long. Your cutie-patootie may even be a little more plump, but isn't anywhere near their full baby-fatted cute-self. Most of the “filling out” is coming up in that long awaited (and slightly dreaded?) third trimester. Woo-hoo! Get ready!

And here we are! I can't really see a change from week to week yet, but I'm really looking forward to scrapbooking them all together to see a progression.

Thanks for checking in! Have a wonderful week, all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A fun poll

I've had NVP again this morning so I'm home when I should be at Bible Study, so I have some time to kill.

We're going to try to paint baby's room soon. We'd like to do it before his furniture arrives and it's set to come in November. My folks are going to be here next weekend so we might take the plunge and just do it then. The funny thing is that it's currently our guest room, which has a black toile comforter with pink sheets. We're going to paint the walls some sort of green and/or blue, and then temporarily stick our guest room stuff back in there. I don't think I'll be able to go in there without twitching ;)

This is the bedding set we chose. We would like to eventually buy most all the pieces-the wall art, the rug, the valance, the border, etc.

So we're trying to decide what to do about paint. BRU has online reviews where people can post pictures of the products in their home so we've taken some ideas from them.

Here's one person-for some reason, I can't make their picture blow up. But you kind of get the idea.

Here are some other things people have done:

DH wants to know if we can have the flat-screen-in-the-nursery version :P

And I TOTALLY want to do this with his name! Isn't it cute?

Other people did options with the brown, tan, and even in one case, the brick color, but we didn't care for those. The chocolate was too dark, the tan was too drab, and the brick just isn't "us."

So I think we've decided on some sort of blue/green combo. I do like the one with the green on top and cream on the bottom, too. We'll also be putting the border up somewhere.

But we can't decide on the actual execution. DH likes the pastel colors, and I like the bright ones. I think we both like the half/half split horizontally around the room thing, but blue on top? Green on top? Which blue and green? I also like the pea soup green that's in the one picture that just shows a wall hanging, and the faint faint hint of green that's in the flat-screen picture.

I ordered samples of these two colors, thinking an earth-tone version of the colors would be a good compromise:

But I'm really NOT an interior decorator or skilled in this, so please throw any suggestions you have at me!

This is our furniture choice (in this color)

So anyway--ideas! Let me have 'em!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

23 Week Checkin

So, I lied. I didn't come back yesterday to post. The NVP started up at about 4:30 and lasted almost til 8:00pm and then by then I was too exhausted to get up and write. I am really trying to keep a right heart about this, but last night, I just lay there whimpering. I always knew labor would be hard. I just didn't expect the whole 9 months to be hard. Call me naive but this has just caught me a by surprise. And yet, I also realize how easy I have it compared to some, so I struggle with that, too. I'm sick, but my baby is healthy, and after the news so many got this week to the contrary, I really want to focus on rejoicing in that.

It's a hard thing--to pray so long for a child, and then to hate being pregnant. There, I said it. I've struggled with admitting that, but there are times I'm just overwhelmed with how difficult this is. I've really been praying that God would help me manage that and I am able to at least enjoy some of it now. I know it's all worth it in the end, but it's a little hard to remember that when you're crouched over the porcelain throne for the umpteenth time.

I'm super emotional these days. Fortunately for DH, my raging hormones haven't converted themselves to a psychotic rage, but I am a blubbering mess a lot of the time. I cry at EVERYTHING. I cry almost daily now, for no reason at all. And while in my sane moments I can laugh at the absurdity of it, I also really hate being enslaved to my hormones. I have the sweetest DH on the planet though, who just nods his head and hugs me and bears it all in stride, even if he's rolling his eyes on the inside. There are so many things about pregnancy that I used to think were myths or exaggerations--the crazy dreams, the tear fests, the pregnancy brain, the frequent trips to the bathroom. I'm here to tell you that they're all real. DH would probably agree with you secretly, but might be afraid to admit it lest I burst into tears again ;)

I've been struggling at church, too. I'm the secretary there and these days, Sunday mornings feels more like another day at the office than a time of worship. I leave church feeling exhausted, rather than refreshed. I do have friends there who love me and care about me, but so many people fail to forget that I'm a person too, not just the secretary. They don't start the day with "Hi Jen, how are you?" Instead, they jump straight to what they need or want. It's not malicious or intentional and I go to church with some really amazing, wonderful people. And I know if I wasn't so hormonal already, it probably wouldn't bother me. And everyone thinks that their one question or comment isn't a big deal. But every Sunday I field 5 or 10 of those "one little things" and so it adds up. And in that way, I'm like a guy. I can only be in one box at a time. For example two weeks ago I walked in and two people started in with questions and concerns about the church directory. I spent the first 2 worship songs thinking about the directory instead of about worship. Then I spent the next song worrying if I'd offended them when I asked them to bring it up with me during the week instead. It's so hard for me to get back to a place of worship and rest once my "work" switch has been switched on. I've tried every way I know how to ask people to stop putting me in my work box on Sunday mornings, but I've not been very successful. It just feels lonely and tiring. I don't feel like I can go to church and just be "Jen" anymore. I've tried finding some solutions but they involve either leaving the church to at least worship somewhere else, quitting my job, or stepping down from the ministry roles we're in, and frankly, none of those solutions really fit. So it just perpetuates, instead. And again, I know it's compounded by my hormones, so dealing with it is hard because I know there's a certain amount of absurdity inherent in it. And I DO know I have friends who do focus on me as a person, so I'm trying to remember that in the midst of feeling a little invisible.

I miss Mike a lot. I still cry regularly and am not really dealing well with his death. I just can't wrap my head around it still.

I really miss my best friend, too. She moved across the country two years ago. We've maintained our friendship through frequent phone calls and a few visits, but it's just not the same. I want to be able to go hang out, or go shopping together, to be in Bible study together, to just rest in each other's company. I want her to go to my ultrasounds with me and be at my baby shower and to come visit us in the hospital when he's born. I just miss her a lot.

So I guess between the emotional hormonal thing, the physical weariness, the spiritual weariness, and my loneliness, I guess I'm still (or again) in some kind of a funk.

The other thing that's become readily apparent is how much of an invitation to fear parenting really is. Up til now, aside from the medical decisions we made about storage, thawing, transfer, etc, most of our decisions have been "fun." What will his name be? What color will we paint his room? What carseat do we like. But we're quickly moving into the more important decisions. And you just make one and another one comes. And it's striking me that it will be like that for the rest of my life.

I don't like to make decisions. When I must, I need like 20 pages of research, 5 different opinions, and days of thinking and praying time for each of my options. The upside to this is that once I DO make a decision, I'm comfortable with it, but it takes me forever to get there. Well, when the decisions are coming every second, you don't have that kind of time. As a person predisposed to fear, I can recognize that that would really be a trap for me. I can become paralyzed by fear of making the wrong decision. By God's grace, I haven't yet. But I've felt the Devil's invitation to give my heart over to it and I am trying to be watchful and am praying for the Lord's protection from that temptation.

So that's where I'm at. Not bad or sad really...just broody I guess? And it's good. I see God continuing to turn over the rocks in my heart and let the bugs of insecurity, loneliness, people pleasing, worry, and fear crawl out so He can squish them. But it is a tiny bit tiring ;) I am glad He's doing it now though...I feel like it puts me a couple steps farther ahead on the journey to becoming the kind of woman I want to be for God, for Todd, and especially for Matthew. Learning to parent will be hard enough--so if we can get some of these things out of the way now, all the better!

So I guess that's the story, morning glory.

Here's my weekly update!

At this point you’ve pretty much adjusted to the fact you’ve got a moving little gymnast inside of you, but now they’re going to kick up the party a notch because they can hear and react to sounds from the outside world. Sounds from your alarm clock, a thunder roll, or that darned car honking at you across the intersection can actually jar their little ears enough to elicit a kick or violent bout of squirming. Of course this also means that their little ears are picking up the sounds of your voice and those near you. So go ahead, sing a lullaby to your little angel—if they start kicking, it’s likely they just want you to stop… or maybe it was a kick of approval? You decide. Your baby's tiny taste buds are still growing and their bones are continuing to ossify (harden), their tiny veins are visible through their translucent yet wrinkly skin. (Think of it this way: they’ve been swimming in the equivalent of a long hot bath for the past 23 weeks, so you can’t blame them for being a little prune-like.)

And here's our 23 week picture. At my last doctor's appointment, my weight change was at net 0 from the day of transfer. Baby weighed exactly middle of the range. The doc was pleased with both of those. But my belly measured big. The doctor said if I measure big again, he'll do an ultrasound--not sure what he's looking for. If I'm fine and baby's fine, I'm not sure what kind of problem that leaves. But, we'll see. But it did vindicate me a little bit of why my belly is looking so big despite the lack of weight change. I was beginning to feel a little nuts because my scale wasn't budging, but my clothes weren't fitting! Guess we'll see what the measuring tape says next time! (And if anyone can clue me in as to what he might be looking for, that'd be great!)

Hugs to you all!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Continued Prayer

Hi friends,

My heart is both burdened and elated today as I bring you some updates on the petitions I asked you to join me in laying before the Lord.

1. Sweet Baby Ewan has gone home to the arms of Jesus at 16 days of age. He developed an infection and his little body couldn't fight anymore. Please pray for his parents as they celebrate his life and mourn their loss.

2. Ashley and Jennifer have been asked by God to say goodbye to their precious little Snowflakes, who were all born straight to Heaven. Please pray too for them as they grieve. This particular kind of grief is so hard because it's so invisible to the rest of the world and there are no tangible things to hold on, but they are, regardless, parents who have lost their babies. Sweet sisters, know that because of your sacrifice, your babies are out of frozen limbo and in the arms of Jesus. You gave them such a precious gift.

3. Lisa and Em both received the wonderful news that their little snowflakes are burrowing deep inside. Please pray that God would continue to grow these little babies and allow their moms and dads to meet them in 9 months.

4. Lacie's snowflakes will be thawed tomorrow in preparation for her transfer on Wednesday. Please pray that the babies survive the thaw, and for the embryologist as she cares for them.

5. Shannon would love your continued prayers that their path would be made clear and smooth so that they can proceed with bringing their snowflakes home soon.

I have more to post, and will try to do so tonight so I'd love it if you'd check back later, if you have time!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Placing Parents

Hi bloggy friends,

You all are so sweet and I really love you all!

Some of you may recall that we and the Genetic Parents have decided to temporarily stop communication between our two families while they deal with their grief from placement. This was their request, but one we agreed to because we were also struggling with feeling free to celebrate this baby without hurting them. We agreed not to email or call and to refrain from reading each other's blogs. I keep the adoption agency updated and if and when Beau and Sheila feel like they can handle an update, they call the agency to get one. Until now, all they've really known is that I am pregnant.

Sheila emailed me last night to let me know that one of our mutual blog buddies reached out to her and inadvertently told her that the baby is a boy and gave her baby Matthew's name. She was not upset with the person, and she knows that they were very sweet and well-intended, but this was not how or when she wanted to find things out. I realize the person probably did not know they were giving Sheila new information, which is why I'm posting a clarification here.

Please hear me very loud and clear: I keep no secrets from Sheila. There is nothing on my blog that I DON'T want her to know. So I am not violating any relationship with her by sharing things here. However, there are things that she has chosen not to know for now.

Bloggy buddies-you are SO sweet to pray for her and reach out for her as she and her hubby struggle. But please, please, PLEASE, do not mention anything about my pregnancy or baby Matthew to her. Please allow her the freedom and space to grieve, and to retrieve the information she wants, in a time line she feels she can handle. I really think that all information about this pregnancy needs to come from the agency or from me and only at her initiation. As we've not been in contact, it's safe to assume that she doesn't know anything except that I'm still pregnant, so please don't mention anything else more specific. I really want to be careful with her heart and allow her to control the pace at which she finds out information.

Thank you all for your understanding. I really hope this doesn't come across as a hand-slap. It warms my heart to know that some of you reach out to her, too! Please continue to pray for their family.