Monday, November 29, 2010

God of Miracles

As you all know, this pregnancy has been rough. Tougher than I ever expected, and admittedly, I've had a hard time appreciating it. But I was thinking today, and one of my favorite things about being pregnant has been to watch how God works in the life of my son to show His power and mercy and glory. God is doing miracles through baby Matthew's life.

The very way Matthew came to be our son is a miracle. The way God crossed our paths with Sheila and Beau was incredible (in a nutshell, she and I had both been in contact with Nightlight already and decided on EA for our families. We "met" on a Christian Infertility Support website and ultimately, they approached us about adopting their embryos. For both families, using Nightlight was a non-negotiable, which is pretty unusual in a self-matching situation.)

The fact that Matthew has been frozen for 6 years and is now (as in RIGHT NOW ;) ) kicking up a storm in me is a miracle.

The fact that July 4, I had some sort of unexplained hemorrhage that could have easily been fatal to him but wasn't is a miracle.

The fact that he's growing and thriving and perfectly healthy after 7 months of malnutrition and heavy medication is a miracle.

Embryo Adoption in itself is a miracle, and Matthew's life is a constant testament to that.

This weekend, we had another one. On Thursday, I started having some minor discomfort and contractions, which I assume(d) were Braxton Hicks (they still may well have been, I just don't know). I had some more on Saturday. They were mildly uncomfortable, but moving positions and stretching out seemed to help. On Sunday morning at church, I was buzzing around hanging Christmas decorations and I started to feel some. I wasn't terribly worried. But they started coming more frequently and lasting longer. I sat down during service, figuring they'd die down when I settled down. They didn't. They continued to increase in frequency and length.

After I'd had 15 or 20 over two hours, and I was getting light headed and crampy, I thought "hmmm, I think this is more than the max number the doctor said I should have without being worried." I wasn't uncomfortable or alarmed, but I figured I'd call him because he told me I should. I reached him and asked what the "concern" number was. He said "6 in an hour." I said, "Um, I've had several more than that." I gave him the quick details and he said "that's more than I'm comfortable with you having. I'd like you to go over to the hospital and be checked." My doctor is very conservative and non-interventive (as we know) and when I called him, I honestly expected him to say "no big deal!" So I was slightly concerned when he wanted me to go to the hospital but I still wasn't nuts. I really think this in and of-itself was a God-thing because I'm generally a freaker-outer. But I was just like "hey, let's go to the hospital! Hope I'm done in time for kickoff!" ;)

I had told a friend of mine I'd take her and her hubby's picture after church. So I wanted her to know I was leaving early. I slipped her a note and just asked her to pray. No big deal, just a "hey, this is what's up and I'm not flaking on you." We got in the car and went to the hospital. I had a couple of more in the car on the way.

We got to the hospital and they did an initial check in. They couldn't find Matthew's heartbeat at first but assured me that it was probably just due to positioning and that they'd probably find it easily in triage when I was lying down. I answered a lot of questions and realized that I was feeling 100% normal. I got back to triage and they strapped me to the monitors and found his heartbeat right away. I was on the monitor for almost an hour and a half, and during that time, I had....

0 contractions. Not only did I not FEEL any, the monitor didn't even detect little ones. Matthew's heart rate looked great, mine was fine, my blood pressure was great-absolutely no signs of anything amiss. She tried to do a cervical check to see if I was dilating or effacing and then she said "I can't even FIND your cervix. That's a good sign that it's high up and no where near getting ready for birth." They kept me on the monitor for a good long while (I think about an hour and a half?) and then checked me out and sent me home!

On the way home, I called Cindy (friend from church) just to update her. She told me that she had passed my note to another friend, who passed it to the Pastor. I guess that at the end of service, he gave everyone a quick update and asked people to break up into small groups and pray for us. Well I thought back over the morning's events, and the time they would have all been praying was exactly the time I had my last contraction. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!

I came home, rested the rest of the day, and have had absolutely zero contraction activity ever since. God continues to overwhelm us, to bless us, and to speak and work in unmistakably-HIM ways. Glory to God.

And can I just say how much I love, love, LOVE our church? Every time I get frustrated with the politics and the business of things, I remind myself that this group of people loves on each other better than any church or group of people I've ever been a part of. I just love that we were in need, and their immediate response was prayer and love. The body of Christ is just so COOL (sorry, I lack a more sophisticated way to describe it!)

So, that's our excitement for the weekend! God and Matthew make quite the pair in keeping us on our toes! But they always give us such wonderful stories of God's goodness to tell.

It's interesting to think about in the context of Advent. I've thought about Mary a lot in recent years, especially having experienced loss of children immediately before the last two Christmases. I've thought about what I imagine must have been her pain, her fear, her surrender, her unknown, her loss. But this year I think about what it must have been like to have a front-row seat to that kind of display of God's glory. To know that God gave her this precious Son, through which He'd change this world. How full her heart must have been! What a privilege it is to watch God working in and through the life of your child to demonstrate His own power and glory!!! I am so grateful God has already given me so much of that! My heart is full! I marvel at His goodness! It also makes me more keenly aware of the magnitude of His sacrifice.

So, lots to think on!

Here's what's going on with Matthew this week:

Your not-so-little-one is just a bit closer to their birth weight and height at around 4 pounds and 17 inches. With each added layer of baby fat, your baby's skin starts to look more and more like it will when they finally get to see the light of day. The heavy news: you can expect your miracle-gro muffin to gain about a half a pound of weight per week from now until about two weeks before birth. Great. That's just what you needed. Even more weight to carry around!

Your baby's still-developing immune system has gained substantial strength over the past few weeks getting them in full gear to face our disease-ridden world o’ wonders. Obviously, a large majority of your child’s immune strength will be derived from exposure to breast milk as well as the outside elements. Their cute little noggin’ (which could already be covered with luscious locks or just purty peach fuzz), is still soft because the skull bones have not yet fused together. As much as that sounds a little too vulnerable, their “skull softness” allows for a much smoother passage through the birth canal during labor—something both you and your little swimmer will appreciate when it’s finally time to “go!” Also, some babies will have that “soft spot” on their head for up to one year after birth.

And here we are yesterday before church. I can see now in looking at the picture that I was pretty puffy in the face yesterday morning, but I didn't realize it at the time and none of that swelling was present by the time I got to the hospital.

Had Bradley class tonight. I'm convinced that given our personalities, it was probably not a very good investment of our time and money. Content aside, there's so much in their methodology of research and instruction that I just don't respect or agree with. It makes it hard to filter through a lot of what we think are bogus research techniques and teaching methods and hear what is true fact. I'm still praying that despite our frustrations with it, the classes will prove to be useful in the end. They did do something tonight to give us a good laugh. They gave the husbands a list of things to say to their wives during childbirth. One was "Think of yourself as a leaf, floating on a stream." Corny, but I guess if you're into that visualization stuff, it might be peaceful for you. But the one they said that really made us all laugh was "Picture your cervix, opening like a flower." I told DH that while I've never been through labor, I'm pretty sure that in the interest of his own safety, he probably shouldn't say that to me. ;) They did have other things on the list like telling your wife she looks great, she's doing well, baby's almost here, etc, but that one really gave us a laugh! So, pregnant friends, here's to us and our lotuses! :D

We have our hospital tour tomorrow--eek! And our baby shower is on Saturday. My sweet friend hosting it for us told me today that she has 44 people coming!! And a girlfriend tonight told me she's coming but hasn't RSVPd yet, so it's 45! I am STUNNED! We are overwhelmed! One of my favorite parts of being Matthew's mommy is seeing how many people already love him. And these are just two more things in the "Oh my goodness, this is REALLY happening" category! DH is taking me...somewhere on Friday night, but his lips are sealed on where! Next week we have another doctor's appointment--we're in to biweekly appointments now! So much is changing so quickly! This is really happening! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

30 Weeks!

We've reached 30 weeks! There is approximately 1/4th left. In a couple of days, I'll be able to say "He'll probably be here next month!" Soon we'll be in the single-digit number of weeks countdown. Soon 2010 will be over--my last year with empty arms. It's just all too much! I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed!

Here's what's happening with Baby Matthew:
The light is visible at the end of the tunnel! Your oversized self and amazing growing baby have finally reached the single digits (in terms of weeks till birth)! The fine lanugo hair that has been growing all over their little monkey-like body is going to start falling off this week in preparation for the big day. But don’t be shocked if they’re hairier than you’d anticipated, some babies keep their lanugo until after birth. Still, it’s not any cause to be concerned as it will fall off eventually. No surprises here: your little porker is getting even cuter with increasingly pudgy arms and legs this week thanks to the ever-growing layers of subcutaneous fat. In terms of numbers, your baby should be weighing in at around 3 pounds 12 ounces (or more!) and be nearly 16 inches long.

We have our next doctor's appointment tonight, and then I think I switch to bi-weekly appointments!

Hmm...not much going on. We had a wonderful visit over the weekend with Todd's roommate from college and his bride-to-be. Their wedding is the same weekend as Matthew's due date, so we obviously won't be able to attend. So they flew down to spend time with us instead. It was wonderful.

I've been struggling a little with dizziness and light-headedness. I've read that this is normal. Trying to up my water intake, sleep, and exercise to see if that helps reduce the spells. If you have alternate suggestions, let me know.

Random note-don't do business with The carseat and stroller I ordered in September still has never shipped, and from what I have been reading online, this is par for the course for them. Sigh--I knew the deal was probably too good to be true. Back to the drawing board!

I'm off to the zoo with Diana and then to do some errands. I'm making some mixed nuts and candy to give as stocking stuffers and gifts for some of DH's work associates, so I'm going to try a dry run this week.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Free $3 Credit from for MP3 downloads

I'll update soon, but I wanted to post this deal going on now at Amazon. Simply go here and enter the code GET3MP3S for free $3 toward mp3 downloads. I just picked up Casting Crowns' Christmas album for $2

Happy downloading!

Also, The Blind Side is $3.99--a great stocking stuffer!

PS: Thank you to those of you who come here and click my link (on the right) to do your Amazon shopping. We receive a small percentage of your purchase price, and with baby coming, every extra little bit helps! Thank you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Respite and Contentment!

DH and I just returned from a wonderful weekend away in Flagstaff, AZ, which is a town about 160 miles north of here. We went up for our church Women's Retreat. Yes, you read that correctly. *We* went to the Women's Retreat...kind of.

Two of the ladies who coordinated it are dear friends of mine. They'd been encouraging me to go for a long time. I finally told them that I just didn't feel comfortable going and having a roommate, who I knew would have to hear me barf, be interrupted by my constant bathroom trips in the middle of the night, or be inconvenienced if I wanted to nap mid-day. I also said that I didn't feel comfortable making the long, remote drive alone, knowing that I'd potentially be pulling over to the side of the road frequently to be sick, but that I also really didn't want to carpool or ride in the church van and have anyone else have to put up with that. Our 5 hour drive to San Diego took us 8 with all my stops, so I knew a 3-4 hour drive could easily be much longer, and I didn't think that was fair to anyone else, especially for a *relaxing* weekend. So I politely declined and wished them a nice trip.

They came back to me and said that when they booked the hotel, they'd committed to having 20 women there, so they were paying for meals and rooms for 20, but didn't have that many signed up to come. Since they were going to pay anyway, they said I could have my own room. Then they said that if I was going to room alone, I might as well bring DH, and that would solve the driving issue, too. It was way out of my comfort zone to be going, but the way was paved so smoothly, that I decided to go!

I am so, so glad I did. I truly enjoyed respite.

We left Friday at lunch time and just took our time getting there. We stopped as often as I needed to, and DH drove while I lay down when I needed to. My father in law loaned us his SUV, which is much nicer and rides more smoothly than our vehicle. Climbing the altitude would have been sort of Fred-Flinstone-ish in our car, so I was grateful too for his generosity, because I think I did as well as I did on the long drive largely due to the vehicle.

We got to the hotel and took a little rest, and then went out for a date-night dinner before the retreat began. Flagstaff is just lovely-it's small and quaint, and surrounded by the natural beauty of forest and wildlife. After dinner, I ditched DH for prettier ;) company, and enjoyed the first session at the retreat while he had some nice alone time.

The next morning, I was really sick. I was able to make it through one morning session, but I missed the other, most of lunch, and all the free time. I was frustrated, but I found the timing to be testing, considering that the theme of the weekend was "contentment."

Meanwhile, DH had fun going out and scouting the town, touring Old Route 66, reading, resting. He does so little for his own rest and enjoyment that I was really grateful for him that he had that opportunity. And the ladies were so sweet. They had given each of us gals a goodie bag with snacks, fuzzy socks, and a journal for the retreat. They made a bag for him too-complete with a Nerf Gun and mini Nerf gun for him and baby Matthew, the book "Bringing Up Boys" by James Dobson, and his own manly comfy socks. The ladies really just went out of their way to bless DH and I both.

After sleeping much of Saturday, I was able to rejoin for Saturday evening's dinner, the evening teaching session, and games afterward.

This morning, I felt really pretty good and was able to participate in the worship session and the final teaching session, as well as the end sharing time.

DH was in and out--he drove another lady and I to and from our room when the walk got too long. He had meals with us, and he helped load the van this morning. People tell me what a sweetie he is--of course I know it already. I'm just glad I was smart enough to marry him!

After the retreat ended this morning, DH and I went for a walk in the woods around the hotel. I had been wanting to do it all weekend but hadn't felt well enough to. It was so peaceful and lovely. We took the opportunity to use my nifty little remote and take a picture of the 3 of us--something we hadn't done since our trip to San Diego when I was still in the first trimester.

DH did this after I had pushed "click" on the remote timer. Isn't he sweet?

Then we got in the car and drove to Sedona. I'd also never been there, though our state is famous for it.

Sedona is nice enough, but the canyon you have to drive through to get between the two towns is one of the most beautiful places I have *ever* seen. I've never seen anything like it. The mountains were unlike any I've ever seen--rocky and imposing, but still covered in trees. There was water in the canyon and the trees hadn't gone completely barren yet so there was still a lot of green, red and yellow just EVERYWHERE the eye could see. I tried to take a photo but I couldn't do it justice. But coming around the bend and just looking down into this gorgeous valley just takes your breath away. I literally gasped when we came around the corner, and not just because we were near the edge of a perilous cliff ;) Several times, I asked DH to either slow down or pull over, just so we could enjoy it. And we did! It was wonderful to just have the freedom to do that. I've way way WAY over-saturated these in photoshop just to try to give you an idea of how beautiful and rich the color is in real life. I wish I could have done this place justice--you'll just have to go see for yourself!

We eventually made it to Sedona, which was beautiful in its own right. Though I preferred the lushness of the canyon, Sedona's majestic red desert mountains are pretty incredible, too. We wandered the town for a little while and ate out on the patio at this darling little restaurant. We played "identify that mountain" along with a little map that told us all their different names, but all we determined is that we're really bad at that game.

Sedona actually kind of made me sad. The town is a virtual epicenter for all things spiritual and self-aware, but pretty anti-God. Everywhere you turn you can get a palm reading or a psychic consultation, or a moon crystal or some other man-made way to heighten your sense of spiritual or self-awareness. Many believe that there is some sort of power in the rocks and mountains. I couldn't help but feel sad that here these people are in what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on this earth, and they can't see past the creation to the Creator. It was hard for me to grasp how people could see a place so beautiful, and NOT wonder about Him whose handiwork it is.

We went up to Church of the Holy Cross, which was also sort of sad. It was originally a place of worship, but now is just a tourist trap. People go up to see this beautiful place designed to worship God, and on their way out, leave various remnants of their own spirituality in the form of lucky coins and charms, etc. I didn't even feel comfortable going inside the chapel, but the park around it did afford some beautiful vistas.

DH took these-didn't he do a nice job?

Then we decided to head home and said goodbye to the beautiful scenery. When I was at the chiropractor last week, I noticed a flyer for a WWII airplane display. DH and I had briefly talked about stopping there on our way home tonight, but we'd forgotten completely about it. Just as we were driving past the freeway exit for it, one of the planes on display flew right over our heads. So, we jumped off the freeway and headed to the airport. There were 3 on display-a B17 Bomber, a B25 Bomber and a B29 Bomber. We got to go inside the B17 (well I could only go in the rear because baby Matthew and I couldn't climb up to or fit into the front!), and see the B25 and B29 in flight--that was SO cool! I'm so grateful that we still have people willing to invest the time in preserving these planes and the legacy of the men who flew them.

Then we finally headed home, where we've just been relaxing all evening. We were just saying what a treat it was to have no agenda today--to just say "hey, let's do this!" and then actually do it. Usually one of two things derails us--busyness, or tiredness. Often when we get a free day, we want to spend it napping--but today was so much more restful than sleeping usually is! We both resolved we'll try to do this more often! And quality time with my sweet DH fills my love-cup faster than anything else a human being can do, so I always just drink that time up so deeply.

So anyway, it was truly just restful in every sense of the word. The hotel was just lovely. The surroundings were serene. The company was wonderful. The teaching was challenging. The pace was gentle. It was just lovely.

Back to the retreat. The theme was contentment. I really was challenged in a lot of areas. I'm honestly still processing, but I wanted to share some things that really struck a chord with me.

She cited this book from the 1600s, in which the author describes contentment as:
The inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God's disposal in every condition.

I really liked that definition. She went through and unpacked each word. Quiet was the hardest one for me to wrap my head around. It doesn't mean not feeling something, not bringing your complaint to God, or even not sharing it with your friends. But it is marked by an absence of grumbling, pining, vexing, etc. I really have been noodling on the difference between sincere lamentation and honesty with God, and just grumbling. I know I've been camping more in the grumbling department these last months, so I'm really trying to decide what/where the difference lies and how to make my heart and weakness known to God and to be authentic, but to not get sucked in by it.

She also dissected the "in every condition" to specify every type or kind of condition/affliction, every timing and duration of a condition/affliction, and every variety of or change in a condition/affliction. I really appreciated that because I think when I've considered that before, I've really only thought about the type/kind.

A lot of times over our journey of infertility, I thought about what I was missing out on, and what I'd lost or potentially lose. And I won't lie. That pain is real and deep and hard and I don't mean to minimize it at all. But she said something that I wish I'd better understood at that time:
God is the giver of goodness. The thing we desire is NOT what holds or gives the goodness associated with said goal. Therefore, He can also give that same goodness in the absence of whatever it is we desire, and specifically in coming to a place of being content in that absence.

She challenged us that it's not enough to have ____________. You must cling to the God of ___________. Put in whatever you want in that blank--health, life, riches, family, provision, security, etc.

I think I have learned a lot of that over the last 6 years, but I think I also forgot a lot of it over the last 7 months. This stupid sickness has allowed in more fear and worry and weakness and bitterness and whining than anything has in a long time. How quickly so many years of God's toiling in my heart have been undone. Don't get me wrong. It really stinks to be so sick. It's hard in every way. But I think for 7 months, I've just stopped at "this is hard!!" She even gave a list of excuses we use to wallow in our discontent. Of the 10, two really stuck out to me as a "hello, Jen! This is for you!"

"You just don't know how bad it is." Well, that's true. You probably don't. I have to ask myself, so what? That doesn't give me an excuse.

"But I worked so hard and now THIS!"
Ha! after 6 years of infertility, I definitely felt entitled for SOME part of this to go easily. But really--what am I basing that on? Some kind of "fairness?" If life was about what was fair, I'd be bound for or already burning in Hell.

Another thing Dora said this weekend was that God knows the best medicines for the specific diseases of our heart.

For whatever reason, physical affliction seems to be God's best medicine for me right now. And I've just refused to see this as an opportunity for spiritual growth. I've been so focused on survival, that I didn't really see that this could actually be for my nourishment. Honestly, I don't know that I could tell you right now what puking a kazillion times a day is designed to do for my spiritual health. But, by God's grace, I'm determined to find out. I really appreciated her challenge.

She left us with 6 questions that I'll share here because I think that they're appropriate for all of us, no matter where we are in our spiritual walk or what our bone of discontentment is:

She asked the question, "Are you satisfied with God?" And then specifically she said:

•Are you satisfied with Who He is?
•Are you satisfied with what He is like?
•Are you satisfied with how He does things, both globally and in your life specifically?
•Are you satisfied with where He is?
•Are you satisfied with when He does things?
•Are you satisfied with why He does things the way He does?

I think most of us could answer several of those questions in the affirmative. And I think we could even answer the general "are you satisfied with God?" question with a "yes." But when she really broke it down into those specifics, I was a little more hard pressed to say that I can say "yes" all the time.

So, I have a LOT to noodle on. A lot I've been convicted on. It was particularly funny as I was puking my guts out Saturday morning to think, "Ha! See how content you are with THIS!" Talk about application! There was a lot I've been challenged to just think more on. Even some things she said I didn't quite agree with, but they still challenged me to better define my own thoughts on the subject. In addition to the teaching, we had some wonderful worship and fellowship at all with such sweet ladies from my church. I really just love our church family so much and it was nice to be away and enjoy the fellowship after some of the struggles I've had recently with my roles at church. It was definitely where I needed to be this weekend, and God just made the way so smooth for me to be able to be there. I'm just so grateful.

I really need to go to bed but I really don't want this weekend to be over. I can't remember when I've had a weekend that was both so fruitful and so restful at the same time. I know I received a precious gift this weekend. Thank you God, and to you ladies He used to give it to us.

I guess I'll close with one last picture....29 weeks! Forgive the hair...Flagstaff made! :)

I'll catch up on all y'alls blogs early this week! Thanks for checking in on mine and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm here!

Breaking radio silence...

Well, it's been a gloriously normal week! I've had nothing to write about because I've been living a normal life! What a treat that was!

I had great days Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week. Sunday morning I was sick again, and then from Sunday afternoon all the way until this morning (1 whole week!!!), I was sickness-free!!! I had a couple of bouts of "almost" but they went away on their own.

It was wonderful! The first several days I really struggled with fatigue, so I pretty much did nothing but sleep, but by Thursday, I felt like myself. I ate chicken and salad twice a day, every day (I hadn't been able to keep down either in months), I exercised, I went to work, I socialized with friends, I made it through an entire worship service at church, I even made it through 3 days without napping! It was WONDERFUL!!! It was such a wonderful gift of rest from the Lord, and restoration to all parts of me-my mind, my heart, my body, my soul, my spirit. I really think that this was a precious, precious, GENEROUS gift from God.

Today I woke up and it was all back with a vengeance, but I even think that was God's timing. I asked DH to hang out with me a little this morning--we have this tradition on Monday mornings where start late. We wake up together (which only otherwise happens on the occasional Saturday) and we get up at a reasonable time but then we just lie in bed cuddling, talking about our week, digesting the weekend, eating breakfast together, etc. It just starts the week at a much slower pace and for both of us, it's one of our favorite parts of the week. It almost feels a little bit like it's stolen, because Mondays are "supposed" to be so harried and busy. We've noticed we both have a better outlook on the week when we make this time for each other. It's not much, and we always hate when it ends, but it's ours. We just take our time enjoying a last few quiet minutes together before the week starts. Well the sickness started as soon as I woke up this morning so that sort of ruined our routine this morning. DH is self employed so he sets his own agenda. I asked him if he could do his at-home part of his job first this morning so that if I got a wave of relief, we could still have a few minutes together. He said yes. I proceeded to be sick for a while, clean it all up and go sit back down.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed something smelly (my nose works in overdrive these days). Sweet DH set out to investigate and determined that ALL of the plumbing-showers, toilets, sinks, dishwasher, washing machine and even outdoor drains at the house had backed up and liquid was rising back up into everything. So he set out working on it. He tried our "green" remedies first with no success, so he ended up having to the orange big box store for something more heavy duty. He tried that a few times, too. He finally said "I give up" and set out to call a plumber. WHILE he was on the phone with them, I heard the "burp" that a drain makes when it suddenly starts draining and simultaneously, all the levels started going down immediately. We've since run the dishwasher, washing machine, both toilets, all the sinks, and both showers with no problems, so we think it's fixed. But isn't that cool? If I hadn't have been sick, DH would have surely been off and running this morning like normal. He wouldn't have been here to fix the plumbing. And if he had been here, he'd have been in the driveway painting a car (which when in process, can't be stopped in the middle) so he wouldn't have been able to drop everything to run to the store or to immediately deal with it. With my oversensitive nose and gag-reflex, I wouldn't have been able to do anything here by myself, and the levels of water probably would have just kept rising, making a gigantic mess. And more than that, if I HADN'T been sick, then I'd have been at work too, and we could have come home to a really big mess. Then when we were about to call a plumber, everything just "happened" to start working again. So, though it was weird, I'm actually grateful I was sick. It kept both me and DH home so that the problem could be dealt with right away. But, it was definitely a comedy of errors. I'm sick, I can't use the plumbing, and the smell of everything is making me MORE sick. Poor DH was so sweet and forbearing.

DH also learned to never put rice down the drain. He put some down the garbage disposal the other day--and today our system decided it didn't like it and it had a little NVP of its own. There was rice everywhere--in the sink he dumped it in, but also in the shower, in the bathtub, in the drain out back--it was actually kind of funny. The nice thing is that it does seem to be incident-specific to the rice, so hopefully, it doesn't mean our whole system is going to break on us. And I'm so grateful DH was able to fix it--it just took $15 of big box store plumbing solution and some elbow grease! He's so handy!

We had our first childbirth class tonight. We chose the Bradley method, not because I'm sold yet on unmedicated childbirth, but because from everything we learned, it gives the best education about what's happening to you during labor and birth. As I shared last week, I'm definitely a "knowledge is power" kind of person--I always do better with more information, not less. I figured if I at least knew what was happening, I'd feel more confident in whatever I did decide. I definitely know I don't want an induction or a C-Section. Beyond that, we're still learning and deciding. The thought of a giant needle in my back freaks me out, as does being strapped to a bed and monitors, but the pain of labor freaks me out, too :P So I figured that arming myself with information would be the best way to go so that whatever we decide, I'd at least feel like it was OUR decision, and not one made out of ignorance or fear.

The class was...interesting. It's definitely one sided. I know it's to be expected but it makes me nuts anyway. I almost feel like I have to take a "rah, rah, rah, hospital births are AWESOME and doctors always do the right thing" kind of class just to get the other extreme and maybe find the balance that's right for me in the middle. Does anyone have any recommendations on good, accurate information on a more clinical birth experience? I feel like in all cases my choices are either fear tactics-from each sides toward the other (unmedicated birth advocates seem to tell you that all doctors and hospitals are out to get you and if you listen to them you don't love your baby, and doctors and hospitals seem to tell you you and your baby will die without their care and how dare you consider leaving yourself in the care of some hippie), or you get the "our side is infallible, don't question us" stuff. And honestly? I hate that kind of information dissemination. I hate it in big things and little things. I feel like they either prey on your fear or your ignorance. And frankly, if what you have to sell is that awesome, then you shouldn't need to resort to those tactics.

The truth (talking little t truth here, not Absolute Truth) is almost always somewhere in the middle of both extremes. I wish there was some resource that just laid everything out--all the pros, cons, and neutralities of all your choices. No agenda, no bias, no exaggeration or understatement. Just the facts, ma'am. But, who would ever make money that way?? :D So anyway, if anyone DOES know of good NEUTRAL books, videos, or other resources, I'd love to have them.

It's also pretty....crunchy, shall we say? And let's just say that I'm not and leave it at that :D

I'm just going to have to really pray over this class. I feel like it could really be a trap for me for my two big pitfalls-fear, and guilt. Fear because I honestly think they try to scare you out of some hospital procedures. I hear stories of them passing epidural needles around the circle so you can see how big they are and promptly freak out. They quote c-section rates of hospitals and say how much better babies born their way are. Honestly, I feel backed into a corner in situations like this. I feel like I end up making a decision out of fear, rather than empowerment. And I wonder-what if I DO end up needing or wanting something outside the Bradley allowables? Will I feel disappointed in myself? Will I feel guilty? Will I feel I have the tools and courage I need at that time to deviate from my plan if need be?

Bradley is big on nutrition. As pregnant women should be. But I can't check off all the stupid little boxes on their chart. HG is just a different ballgame. You think in terms of what will stay down. You don't get the luxury of choosing the most nutritious thing or the thing that rounds out everything else you've eaten that day. The teacher and the book laid it on a little thick tonight about how bad it is for you and baby if you're not eating this and that every day and it looks like it's part of the curriculum every week. And Bradley is anti-medication in general, not just medication during labor. Well, the zillion pills I take a day to stay functioning kind of throw that out the window. So, I just have to keep telling myself that all of that is well and good for a normal pregnancy, but I am just responsible for MY pregnancy, and doing the best I can with it. God knows that, I know it, DH knows it, and hopefully one day baby Matthew will know it too. But the Jen-guilt-monster was really shouting from the back of my head during all this "See, look at all the bad stuff you're doing!!"

That all makes it sound like the class is awful, or awful for me. It's not. I think the teacher and the other students are really nice, and I do think I'll learn a lot and that in the end, I'll be better prepared for WHATEVER birth experience we have, even if it's 100% not-Bradley. I just think I need to really practice active filtering. I did learn some new things to try with stretching, relaxation, exercise, etc, and DH is so earnest in going along with whatever I need, whatever they suggest he try, etc. And I think I'll learn a lot about what actually happens physically and physiologically in labor, even if I ignore everything else they say.

I guess this is a good lesson in parenting. I'm sure we'll run into this same kind of stuff with vaccines ("vaccines will kill your baby!" v "without vaccines, you'll kill everyone else!"), with discipline ("spanked children grow up to hate their parents" v "children who aren't spanked grow up to be hellians!"), with education choices ("kids who go to public school end up corrupt!" v "homeschooled kids are sheltered and weird!"), etc, etc, etc. :D Honestly, I get so afraid of making sure I'm not making a fear-based decision, that I just run around in circles! I really think my head is screwy sometimes :P I wish I just knew everything about everything, and could write perfectly neutral books on all this stuff so that tightly wound people like me could have a resource! =D

So anyway, THAT was a tangent.

I've been sick again tonight, so I probably should go to bed before it gets any later-getting too tired is just asking for trouble.

I'll end with what's been happening with Matthew:

27 weeks:
Your not-so-tiny-anymore brilliant baby (about 2 pounds and 14.5 inches long!) is slowly rotating in preparation to “head out.” Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight, but when you start to feel an unfamiliar pressure on your cervix, you’ll know you’ve got a fully flipped baby locked and loaded for the countdown to their birthday! Even now, at the beginning of the third trimester, their little lungs are already capable of breathing air while the pulmonary vascular system can provide sufficient gas exchange and the central nervous system can generally regulate rhythmic breathing as well as their basal body temperature. For what it’s worth, at this point in a healthy pregnancy a premature child (with intensive care) could easily win on the show: “Survivor: The Early Years.”

And 28 weeks:
You know how you’ve been feeling a bit like a barn with legs? Well, that feeling won’t subside before… well, you know, when you finally give birth. For the time being, you’ve got yourself a baby in the business of collecting fat and lots of it! In spite of the dubious joys of being a human-barn, this baby fat business is very serious and you’ve got to put up with it because it’s going to keep your little porker warm and healthy after birth. Other good stuff from inside: their eyes are doing lots of blinking this week because they’re now able to respond to light and dark. Also, their industrious little bone marrow is now a major construction site for developing red blood cells, while their super-cute adrenal glands are actually producing androgen and estrogen—which will stimulate your hormones to begin milk production. Can you say, “Moo?”

And lastly, here's picture--28 weeks! The third trimester! I can't believe it! My weight still hasn't changed (still weigh the same I did the day of transfer) but when I look at the pictures side by side, I can finally start seeing a difference, and I think I'm graduating to full-panel maternity pants instead of half panels. And my goodness, I can FEEL a difference. This kid is killing my back and tummy muscles! That's one awesome thing about Bradley--they teach and instruct DH to massage me whenever I need it, and he's a sweet enough guy to do it! I see lots of massage in my future--how can I get that to continue after birth ;)

Hope you all are well!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I wrote in a candidate tonight, for the first time ever. This baby boy was the main reason. I could not bring myself to vote for a Senator who sees my son as a science experiment, rather than a person.

Unfortunately, though predictably, said Senator retained his seat, but I am proud to know I didn't help him keep it.

WE voted today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Update (again)

Best news first--the ultrasound was fine. My fluid level was normal. Matthew measured in the 75-90th percentile for size, but he said that's normal right now anyway. At 22 weeks, he measured in the 50th percentile. He said at this point, they grow at all different paces, so things could slow down again--it's too early for that to be a predictor and he's not worried. Baby Matthew-slow down! Don't be huge! Go easy on your mama!

We think the appointment went well. I essentially went in and said "I really like you as a doctor and I don't question your qualifications, but I don't think we communicate very well with each other and I leave my appointments feeling scared and under-informed." So we talked through some specifics. We learned some differences in our terminology-what he means by something and what I interpret. For example, when he says "higher" (as in "higher risk") I hear "high" but he said today that overall, my risk for all the various different things is low. It might be slightly higher than an average woman, but not "high." He said if I was truly high risk, he'd have passed me on to a specialist. In other cases, he's using precise, technical language, where we think he's using common vernacular. (Did you know there's a difference between "common" and "normal?" I didn't). That same preference for highly technical communication is also why he's vague on some things and he said he also tries to be vague to keep patients from worrying. He's highly technical in his language (and to be really technical sometimes he has to be vague) and I'm highly specific, and in some cases, those two just weren't crossing paths well.

So I explained to him that my personality does better with more information rather than less, and that if he's going to toss things out, I need a "so what" step. As in "you have an elevated risk for Gestational Diabetes, so I want you to be careful with your diet and exercise" or something like that. Not just "you have an elevated risk of ___________. Period." If it's a "wait and see" kind of thing, we're not really going to go down that road. I told him that I needed to know I had the freedom to press harder for information and know that he knows I don't mean it to be offensive, or undermining and he said he understood.

We also talked about the C-Section thing. He stated that he definitely doesn't WANT me to have one and doesn't even predict that I'll need one-he just wanted me to know it might be a possibility, but that his general practice is to let a woman try vaginally birthing for as long as she wants to (barring emergencies, of course). He said he supported our choice to take Bradley classes (which start next week--eek!) and to have a doula present.

His nurse was already talking to me about visiting me in the hospital and bringing me dinner after he's born. :) She came in during the ultrasound and said "can I watch too? I want to see my nephew!" I really do love that familiarity there. Even at the end, the doctor said "*I* really want to see this little guy be born!" That was cute to me, too. At the end of the day, this staff is committed to us, and that goes a really long way in my book.

As far as the FET/EA risks, this is what I learned from reading, from talking to Nightlight, and from talking to my RE. The risks of miscarriage ARE believed to be higher with embies that were frozen. I knew that part already. And in some ways, all fertility treatment rates for miscarriage are higher because frankly, we know the children exist sooner than people who conceive the "old fashioned way" so we know about it when they die. But we're well out of that window anyway. The other risks are NOT heightened by the FET procedure or the fact that the baby was frozen.

However, I learned from a couple studies linked for me by someone in one of my previous posts, and from Nightlight, that there is SLIGHTLY more risk for preclampsia when the baby is 100% unrelated to you. Preclampsia puts you at higher risk for things like preterm labor and C-Section. So he's not entirely off his rocker. That made me feel a lot better about the information I was receiving from him. Both he and Nightlight confirmed that it's *slightly* higher, but not *high.* I don't have high blood pressure now, so we just have to wait and see. Nightlight told me that the rate among their parents is not high at all and that most pregnancies are normal. And any elevated risks are still better for the babies than the 100% chance of death they have WITHOUT embryo adoption. I think my doctor gets that, too.

He did clarify that he didn't think I was "high risk" for anything. He just said the combination of the genetics and PCOS made him want to keep his "surveillance" level of me higher. So the net point is that a lot of this was just a misunderstanding and that there was a lot of fretting for nothing! At the very least, I now feel freer to be more assertive and not afraid that I'll offend him if I ask for more information or help. Thanks for encouraging me to get some backbone :P ;)

So anyway, all of that is probably more than you wanted to know, but the net point is that he was very receptive, we came up with some specific tools, keywords, and questions that we can both use to understand each other. Today he answered every medical question we had very specifically, so I think it COULD work. Time will tell. DH and I think that the right thing to do is to at least go to our next appointment and see if it worked. By that point, our first appointment with someone else would be at 32 weeks, which I think is too late in the game to switch, so we're going to stay with him. But I no longer feel uneasy or nervous about it. I was impressed today with how receptive he was and I think we got some very concrete devices to help. I just wish I'd done it sooner. Thank y'all for praying and for encouraging me to buck up and do it.

Oh, and I found out that my glucose test number was 112. Passing is 135, so it's not even like I passed by the skin of my teeth--we came through with flying colors so I shouldn't need to retest. Woohoo! Praise God again!

Please pray

I went in for my ultrasound this morning. (Don't worry, this post isn't about the baby-so far as I know, everything is fine, but we have to wait for results from the doctor).

While I was there, I pulled the nurse and the Office Manager aside and told them some of my concerns and that the main reason I continued to treat with him was because of THEM, not him, and did they have any suggestions for ways I could better communicate with him. They both encouraged me to just sit down and have a heart to heart with him about my concerns and tell him this isn't working and that I need him to communicate better. They encouraged me (gently) to try to fix the problem first, rather than just cutting and running. Well, you can imagine how my anti-confrontational self took THAT. But they were right. I have a longstanding relationship of care with this guy, he is a fellow believer, and I think that I owe it to myself, to the baby, and to the professional relationship, and to our mutual existence in the body of Christ to address the issue, regardless of whether or not it results in my staying his patient. Honestly, continuity of care IS my preference. At the end of the day, the fact that he's been my doctor for 5 years and Matthew's doctor for most of his little life still means something to me and my peace of mind, and I can't replicate that in 12 weeks with some other doctor.

The fact is that I don't have peace about staying and I don't have peace about leaving. I called a lot of OBs and I never found another who had exactly what I was looking for, so I do recognize that some of this just may be me needing to adjust my expectations.

So anyway, the meeting is in an hour. And my stomach is churning. Would you join me in praying for the meeting? Please pray that the meeting is productive, that I have the right words to voice my concerns, that I can do so objectively and without hormones and fatigue complicating things, and that we'd walk away with really strong direction on whether we should stay or go.

The ultrasound was performed by a tech, who couldn't tell us anything other than facts. He said the fluid level measured average, and that baby's size was 4 days ahead of my due date. He couldn't tell us if any of that was good or bad (I'm assuming it's normal?) or if he saw anything else concerning, but I'm hoping the doctor will be able to tell us that in this meeting, too.

Thanks, everyone!