Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is it Straight? ...Because I Have Scoliosis

We had another appointment today, and things still look good.  I could see the baby moving around, but I couldn't see the heart.  I asked about the heart, and our doctor said that it was just the angle...but said that if the legs are kicking (which they were), then the heart must be as well (she eventually showed me the heart and listened to it as well).  She showed us some cool images where we could see the baby holding a little hand up to the face, and another where she pointed out a close up of the elbow, and another close up of the femur.

Of the three pictures, I thought this one was the coolest.  You can see the baby's spine so clearly--which led me to ask if it's straight...since I have scoliosis (and wore a back-brace for three years during Junior High and my Freshman year of High about some challenging and formative years):
The baby's back is facing us, with the head down to the right, and the little black spot towards the upper-left is the stomach (fluid shows up black on an ultrasound).  So that long white line along the top of the baby is the spine--how cool is that?  And don't worry if it looks like the baby "shrank" since the Ultrascreen pictures--that was just a different (higher quality) ultrasound machine.  But I'm not complaining one bit--I love that my doctor is willing to see me every two weeks.  I'll go back again on April 14th.

So I mentioned that the doctor pointed out to "us" the cool images...but my husband wasn't with me today.  Instead, I had lunch with my very-dear friend, and invited her along.  My very-dear friend is a doctor, and has worked with my doctor I asked if perhaps she would mind doing a second ultrasound for her--and she did!  My very-dear friend's husband happens to have a birthday tomorrow, so she'll wrap up the pictures as a gift for him. I am very grateful to have such a great friend and such an amazing doctor, and it was really cool to see my very-dear friend's baby.

In addition to another great appointment, today's blessing was the chance to speak with my college roommate.  After graduation (and before the advent of facebook), I lost touch with her.  Three years ago, I happened to find an old address book (remember those things?) that had her home phone number in it.  Her family has since moved, but I googled her mom, and found her contact information as part of an emailed her mom...then finally heard from my roommate.  This woman makes me smile and laugh every time we talk--and we always find a crazy fun story to share.  She's rooting for us and this baby from the other side of the country, and swears that I'll be a great mom.  I'm not only blessed to have been able to find her, but Im also blessed that she is so supportive of me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Uncharted Territory

Some say that the first trimester ends at 12 weeks.  Others says 13 weeks and 3 days, since that's one-third of a standard 40 week pregnancy.  Still others say that the second trimester starts at 14 weeks.

Either way you look at it, I'm now officially in the second trimester.  Today marks the start of 14 weeks.  At first, I told myself that I would pick the happy-medium and "celebrate" my transition into the second trimester at 13 weeks and 3 days.  But as I approached the date, I figured it wouldn't hurt to wait the four more days to get to 14 week mark and not get too far ahead of myself...just to be safe.  There's really no rush.  And as excited I am to make this transition, if you think about it, it's kind of an arbitrary milestone in the grand scheme of things.  But that's okay--I'm happy to join the club and this land of uncharted territory. 

I'm fully aware every single day that that I'm farther along than in previous pregnancies...and I'm loving every moment of it.  I admit that I still worry from time to time.  My next appointment is Wednesday afternoon, and I pray that it is as great as our previous appointments.  Please continue to pray for us as we move into our second trimester and beyond.

Today's blessing was the chance to chat with my sister-in-law, who I adore.  As the only girl, I always wanted a sister.  While I totally appreciate and enjoy my husband's sisters, they are at very different points in their lives.  On the other hand, I feel like my brother's wife and I are at very similar places.  She's the type of woman I would want to be my friend--even if she weren't married to my brother.  God blessed me with a great relationship with her, and now that she and my brother are ready to start trying again, I pray that He bless her with a child.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"You Look Like a Toothpick who Swallowed a Walnut"

Perhaps it's because I stopped doing the crunches the day I found out that I was pregnant...but I do believe I'm starting to develop a belly.  And other people are starting to notice as well...

When they were visiting, my mother-in-law proclaimed "You look like a toothpick who swallowed a walnut".  I had just thrown on my leggings after a long day at work, and apparently my shirt was more fitted than I had realized across the abdominal region.  My very-dear friend's husband also asked if I had a "baby bump", and then excitedly turned to his wife (the very-dear friend who happens to be two weeks behind us) and asked when she was going to get a bump. 

And then most recently, my supervisor (who knows about our pregnancy) mentioned that our big-boss lady (who does not yet know about our pregnancy) asked her if I had a baby bump.  Apparently the big-boss lady stuck her back back into my supervisor's office later that day and again repeated that she thinks I have a bump (and then crossed her fingers in hope).  My plan is to tell the big-boss lady later this week after our appointment on Wednesday, assuming that everything is continuing to go well. 

After that conversation with my supervisor, I tried to be just a little bit more selective with my wardrobe.  Luckily, I own a quite a few "flowy" types of tops.  On Friday, I wore a great baby-doll shirt...but I found that I kept trying to flatten out the front of the shirt...only to realize that it's actually belly underneath that is causing it to poof out a bit.  The same thing happened Friday evening when my husband and I went for a walk around the neighborhood.  I threw on a hoodie, and kept trying to smooth out the front, pleasantly surprising myself each time when I remembered that there is a legitimate belly growing underneath.

I have to admit--I like my belly.  It makes me feel really good to know that it is growing to make room for our child.  I realize that to many others out there, I may just look fat.  We went to a Cubs Spring Training while the in-laws were here, and upon returning from a trip to the restroom, I whispered to my husband that everyone probably just thinks I look a little fat around the middle instead of pregnant at this point.  I'm okay with that--I know the truth.  I'm not quite ready to take and post pictures yet, and I don't believe that we'll be taking them on a weekly basis (for me, I think that's a luxury that I lost somewhere in the difference between fourth and first).  But it brings me so much joy to rub it and admire it in the mirror and to know that it's "home" to my baby.

Today's blessing is the chance to have a relaxing-and-yet-productive day with my husband.  He leaves for two weeks on the East Coast early tomorrow morning, so I want to get my fill of him before he leaves.  I would definitely prefer to have him here with me, but I know that he enjoys these opportunities to travel.  And I also recognize that it's been a huge blessing to have him home for so long.  His last trip was back in October, so I guess that we're "due" for a trip.  The second week is always harder than the first--especially since he'll be gone for Easter this year.  But we'll get through it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Like Those Odds!

The genetic counselor called today with the results of our Ultrascreen from last week.  I missed her initial call, but she left a message sharing that our results are "within the normal range".  I sure like it when they give you the good news right away instead of saying "we have your results...please call us at your convenience".  I called her back to thank her, and to ask if there were any details which I should know about.

She shared that for a woman who will be giving birth at age 31, there is a 1:560 chance of the baby having Down's Syndrome.  Based on the measurements of the skin at the baby's neck, combined with the proteins from my blood sample, our baby's risk of Down's Syndrome drops to 1:7,427.  She went on to share that for a woman who will be giving birth at age 31, there is a 1:1,000 chance of the baby having Trisomy 13 or 18 genetic mutations.  Based on our measurements and blood sample, our baby's risk of these genetic mutations drops to 1:10,000. 

Wow!  I like those odds!  Of course, there are all kinds of other things that our baby could face...I have husband's father was born with a club foot.  And we would love a child with special needs just as much.  But these results are just another answered prayer in a long line or prayer requests.

I'm starting to feel a little bit of "tugging" or "pulling" in my lower abdomen...which I'm tempted to believe is round ligament stretching.  It's definitely different than "cramps", and it's not necessarily causing any "pain" or "discomfort" at this point...just something that I started noticing today.  I don't think (operative word being "think") that I'm feeling the baby moving yet...but I am totally looking forward to that sensation.

In addition to the positive results, I was blessed with the chance to meet two of my incoming first-year students today during their visit to campus.  They will be part of one of the student groups that I oversee and work with on a regular basis, and it's really cool to get to know them throughout the course of the year.  I typically teach a class for this group in the Fall semester...but since I'm hoping to be out from late-September through the Winter Break, I don't know what I'm going to do about the class.  I'm sure we'll figure out something.  But for now, I'm blessed to be re-energized by their excitement to start their college career.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Day of Conflicting Emotions

I shared just a few days ago that I was experiencing my own personal high, while the friend of a friend was going through a potentially-concerning low.  I don't have much of an update on Caitlin, the friend of my very-dear friend, but I have heard that her Progesterone levels continue to stay high.  Please continue to pray for Caitlin and James and their baby.

Today was another day with a high and a low--not so much for me, personally, but rather for two women who are important to me.  I knew that both women were going in for ultrasounds today, and I prayed continuously for both of them throughout the morning.  I read their blog posts today within minutes of each other, resulting in another day of conflicting emotions.  While one woman left her appointment with tears of joy, the other woman is now experiencing deep sorrow.

The tears of joy are for Wendy.  I was so so so happy to read that her baby is measuring exactly at 7 weeks with a beautiful heartbeat.  Like me, Wendy has survived three previous losses.  Her faith and positive outlook are so inspiring to me, and I pray that we both continue to experience the joys of our "fourth chance" pregnancies.  Please join me in praising God for Wendy's beautiful baby.

On the other hand, my heart breaks for my friend and former colleague who learned that she lost her baby today.  This woman--a kindergarten teacher--is one of the most vivacious people I have ever met.  She has an amazing love for life, and cares so genuinely and deeply for everyone around her--including our four-legged friends.  Her husband is equally great, and I was able to witness them fall deeply in love while I worked with her years ago.  Please pray for Katie and Jason--I know that they are in pain and I pray that they are able to feel God's comforting hand as they journey through this valley.

As for me, my blessing today was the chance to chat with my grandparents.  I've shared a couple of times that my grandma is simply an amazing woman.  My grandpa (or "Boppy") is a pretty cool guy as well, and my appreciation for him has really grown in recent years.  My grandma shared with me that I'm the first person that she prays for every night.  I can't wait to visit them at Christmas--and I pray that I have a three-month old great-grandchild to share with them as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Hi Baby"

In the last few days, something has changed in my husband.  We both admit to being very cautious in our approach to this pregnancy--especially in the early weeks.  But even when I started to feel a new sense of hope, I felt that he was still being hesitant.

On one of our recent lazy mornings while we were still waking up, my husband was cuddled up to me with his hand resting lightly on my rib cage.  I moved his hand down to my belly so that he could feel how it is growing, but he immediately moved it away.  When I asked why, he said that he was scared.  I had to ask if he was scared to hurt me or the baby...or if he was scared to get his hopes up.  He honestly shared that he didn't want to hurt the baby.  I had to hold back my surprise, and tried to sweetly explain that just lightly resting his hand on my belly wasn't going to do any harm at all.  But it made me just a little bit sad that he didn't want to "bond" with the baby and my growing belly.

Over the weekend, something changed.  After returning to the hotel from his day at the Army Reserve, I asked him to cuddle with me in bed and watch some basketball (even though our team didn't make it this year for the first time in forever).  Again, I took his hand and rested it lightly on my belly.  This time, he looked at his hand on my stomach and sweetly said "Hi Baby".  It was so simple, so genuine, and so touching.

I don't know if it was my prompting (and prodding), or if he's legitimately starting to feel a connection with the baby that's growing inside of me.  I realize that the experience has got to be so different for the men who support those of us women who suffer through and survive Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL).  But where would we be without them?  This is just as significant for my husband as it is for me, and I look forward to the days when he can feel the baby kick...and then hold his child...and then play catch in the yard (like he told me he wanted to do on our very first date).  I pray that while this child grows inside of me, that my husband's excitement and comfort continue to grow as well.

Today's blessing is the chance to get back to some normalcy.  We had a very nice visit with my in-laws, but a vacation for them does not necessarily equate to a vacation for us.  In addition to their visit, my husband also had Army Reserve drill over the weekend, so we didn't get home until late last night.  I'll need to do all of my typical Sunday chores (laundry, groceries) tonight, but I admit that it will be nice to have the house back to ourselves. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Conflicting Emotions

esterday was a day with a fabulous high and a sobering low, which leaves me with such conflicting emotions.

Before I go any further and cause any worry, let me start with the "high" and share that everything still looks great with our baby.  I had our 12 week appointment on Wednesday, followed by the "Ultrascreen" to test for risk of Down Syndrome on Friday.  I feel so blessedly spoiled to have the chance to see the baby twice in one week.  Our OB didn't do any measurements or anything on Wednesday--it simply was a "peace of mind" type of appointment (and I love her for it!).  But yesterday's appointment required multiple measurements, including at the base of the baby's neck to help determine various risks (combined with a blood test from me).  Since my husband had to work, I invited my mother-in-law along, which was a nice bonding opportunity for us.  Whereas the baby was bouncing all around on Wednesday, he/she was totally sound asleep at the start of the appointment yesterday.  I could still see the little heart beating away, and an occasional arm stretch from time to time, so I wasn't too worried.  The poor technician needed the baby to move so that she could get the correct measurements, but I sure didn't mind just staring at the baby for fifteen minutes (my husband is also notoriously hard to wake up, so he/she apparently takes after him).  The technician finally got the baby to wake up and move around and get the necessary measurements, which she say look "good and thin" (at the neck) so far (results will come next week).  My mother-in-law swore that she saw "boy parts"...until we pointed out it was actually the umbilical cord.  But the baby has a pretty big nose, which she attributes to their German heritage, and she says would look too big on a girl (yes, she's definitely hoping for a boy...I'm hoping for a healthy baby).  The baby is measuring at 12 weeks, 4 we somehow "gained" a day since the 8 week appointment.  I realize that babies grow every minute of every day...but I swear that the baby looks bigger and more developed just over the last two days:

So there is my "high" on to my "low".

I've never even met this woman, but a friend of my very-dear friend is afraid that she is losing her baby.  My very-dear friend sent me a text message yesterday to ask me to pray for her friend.  She had shared with me previously that her friend had been struggling to get pregnant for quite some time.  I don't know the whole story, I don't know her prognosis, I don't know what procedures or medications (if anything) that she is trying, but I know that she desperately wants to be a mother.  This friend conceived last cycle, but now her numbers aren't doubling or increasing.  I don't have any other details beyond that...other than that she needs prayers.  The "faith-ful" part of me clings to the certainty that our God is an awesome God of wonders and I pray that He work a miracle in the life of this woman and her child.  And yet, the "hope-less" part of me is also acutely aware of the fragility of life and the painful reality of loss.  My dear-friend truly is an amazingly dear-friend to me, and I trust that she is to her friend as well (they are scheduled to meet up to vacation together this weekend with their husbands).  But my dear-friend is 10 weeks pregnant and has never experienced loss.  She has the best intentions, but doesn't quite get what it's like to go through that sort of genuine heartbreak (and I truly pray that she never has to face it).  Through ongoing conversations with my very-dear friend, I think that she's starting to understand how incomprehensible loss (or even the fear or potential risk of loss) can be.  As I pray for her friend, I also pray that God open the ears and the heart of my very-dear friend so that she can offer the support and understanding and opportunity to share that her friend may (or may not) need.  Please lift up Caitlin, James, and their baby in your prayers.

Today's blessing was the chance to share the ultrasound experience with my mother-in-law.  I know that she was really touched to see her grandchild, and I think that the experience helps to strengthen our relationship.  I sure wish that my mom could have been there as well, but she graciously understands that this was a great opportunity for my mother-in-law.  And it was such a great blessing to have an extra-long ultrasound since the baby was content to sleep for the first fifteen minutes.  I could lie there all day long just looking at the beauty of my child.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No More Shots!

We had another appointment today, and everything still looks great!  Gosh, it feels amazing to say "looks good!" three appointments in a row!  We're treading on new territory here!

They put us in a room to wait for the doctor, and I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn't an ultrasound machine in the room.  I saw the doppler, and figured that perhaps that was all we would get today (if you remember, she had intended to see us in a month, then offered only a two-week wait when I shared my concern).  We ended up waiting a bit for the doctor, but when she arrived, she whisked us into a different room to see the baby. 

Wow!  He/She has grown!  My husband and I were both in awe (it's so fun to hear his exclamations!).  It was really fun to see him/her moving all around, waving at us, kicking, name it.  We could distinctly see fingers and toes and long legs.  And call me crazy, but I swear that the baby is totally grinning at us in this shot (the scanned version is a bit fuzzier, so the "smile" isn't quite as visible):

The doctor initially marked down that she'll see us in three weeks, but then realized that she'll be out that week so gave me the option of two or four weeks.  I chose the two weeks, even though my husband won't be here.  Sure, I wish that he could be here for every appointment, but I also recognize that I need to be brave.  And I also am just anxious to see the baby again.  It truly is amazing to track the growth and development...and to fall more deeply in love with each time I get to see him/her. 

Since things are looking good so far, our doctor shared that she had consulted with a perinatologist, who agrees that since all of my bloodwork has come back normal so far that I can stop the heparin injections.  I'll continue on the baby aspirin, but she feels confident that this should be enough.  I admit that the tiniest little part of me wants to continue them as a "just in case" precaution, but ultimately, I trust my doctors...and more importantly, I trust God.  The original test (in February 2008) was only slightly elevated, and the doctor at the the time waved it off as probably a fluke.  The second test (in September 2009) was easily in the normal range, so I really had thought at that time that I was good to go.  I was rather surprised at the start of this pregnancy when the RE suggested that I continue them "just in case" I really do feel mostly okay with going off of them now.  My husband, on the other hand, is beyond relieved.  He absolutely hated watching me give myself shots (or rather, he couldn't bear to watch me, and simply hated the thought of me doing them).  I finished up the Progesterone supplements earlier this week, so those are now done as well.  So I'll continue with the Metformin and baby aspirin, along with the pre-natal vitamins and folic acid.  I pray this is what this baby truly needs!

It was such an amazing blessing to see the baby again today!  I am overwhelmed at God's goodness!  But I was also blessed yesterday with an opportunity to be a good friend.  I'm sure that the assortment of ice cream that I brought along helped as well, but I really feel like God opened my ears to listen and gave me the words to say to bring comfort, hope, and encouragement.  I recognize that God has blessed me abundantly, and I pray that He continue to introduce me to opportunities to be a blessing to others.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Sense of Hope

A couple of months ago, I shared that I was feeling "hope-less" but "faith-ful".  These emotions were based on traditional definitions* of the words "hope" and "faith":

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
Faith:  confidence or trust in a person or thing or belief that is not based on proof

A lot has changed since I found those definitions.  Obviously, I'm currently pregnant with what appears to be a so-far-so-good pregnancy, so I recognize that simple fact alone changes everything.  Each of the previous ultrasounds helped to fortify that little glimmer of hope.  But more importantly, I feel that my faith--which I was already relying on when I shared that post--has also grown deeper and more genuine.  It's one thing to proclaim "I trust God"...but it's actually really pretty hard to do so day in and day out.  This pregnancy has helped me to more vividly "walk the walk".

I think that my tipping point for actually feeling hopeful came the other day while reading Isaiah 40:31.  Many of you may know this as the "eagle verse".  It's a popular verse, so I definitely recognize the words from from countless inspirational images of eagles and an old hymn.  I can distinctly remember humming the tune at church camp as a kid.  But the words that I remember were:

"They that wait upon the Lord
will renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run and not grow weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait."

As you can see, the word "hope" is actually nowhere in this version of the song.  At the time, the word "wait" stood out to me, in terms of how I should base my behavior and attitudes (which is also significant...since I'm not often a patient person).  But when I got to this verse in my daily bible study time, the words were familiar...but something was totally different in my NIV translation:

"But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

I love the idea of hoping in the Lord!  In all my years, I had never thought of the significance of "hope" in the verse because my mind always reverted back to the "wait" version of the song.  But as I reflect on that verse, and as I look forward to our 12-week appointment on Wednesday, I think I'm actually starting to feel "hope-ful".  Please pray that I continue to experience this new sense of hope throughout the remaining 28 weeks of this pregnancy.

Yesterday's blessing was a new vacuum cleaner...and more importantly, my wonderful husband who bought it for me.  His parents drove down to visit us (from Montana to Arizona), and of course my vacuum cleaner died about three hours before they were scheduled to arrive (blowing nasty black smoke into the house in the process...luckily the cheesecake was still in the oven at the time).  My husband had all kinds of projects that he wanted to work on before their arrival, but hopped in the car with the busted roller in one hand and a $15-off coupon in the other, vowing to either fix it or bring me a new one within the hour.  No complaints about his double-checking the budget...he saw what was needed and jumped into action.  So now I'm blessed with a new vacuum, a clean house, happy in-laws, and a hero husband.

* definitions according to

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tell Me That Wouldn't Happen

I had a horrible dream last night.  I'll spare the details--I don't want to relive them by typing them out, and I don't want you to be burdened by the image--but it involved another loss.  The fear was vivid enough to wake me up.

I immediately prayed that God would remove the images and the fear from my heart...then my mind started to try to rationalize the dream.  In the dream, I had walked barefoot into the public bathroom at work.  There is absolutely no way that I would walk barefoot into a public bathroom.  Sure, I use my bathroom at home barefoot all of the time...and I may even kick my shoes off in my own little office.  But I would never walk around our office hallways barefoot...let alone go into the bathroom sans shoes.

So I woke up my husband, at 4:30 a.m., to have him give me some reassurance and tell me that wouldn't happen.  He was totally asleep, but agreed that I would never go into the bathroom barefoot.  He sweetly cuddled me the rest of the night.

I'm really trying to move on from this dream and not give it too much credit.  From a biblical viewpoint, I know that God sometimes uses dreams to tell us something.  But from a psychological viewpoint, I also understand that dreams are often a manifestation of our subconcious.  I fully recognize that my subconcious is still full of all kinds of fears.  I trust that God is doing amazing things in my life, and I believe that He truly has a plan for me.  But I'm acutely aware of the fragility of life...and that legitimately scares me.

Please pray for my peace of mind--especially at night.  Pray that God protect and guard this baby, and that He protect and guard my heart and my dreams.

Today's blessing is simply that it's Friday.  After traveling for the conference last week, I feel like it took everything out of me to get caught up this week.  I worked late on Wednesday and Thursday...and I hope to be able to leave a little bit early today.  I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two Shall Become One

My husband and I celebrate our three-year anniversary today. In my card, I reflected on how our first year was full of adventure, our second year was marked by pain, the third year involved a ton of growth, and I pray that this fourth year is filled with joy.

As we celebrate, I am reminded of the words "the two shall become one", and I'm touched by the concept of two seperate individuals coming together to create one unique new being. If you think about it (and I know we all do), a baby is quite literally "two becoming one". This baby growing inside of me is a combination of both my husband and me, and is deeply loved by us both.

Today I'm blessed by this amazing man who stood up with me in front of our family and friends three years ago and pledged to be my husband. These three years have been filled with plenty of ups and downs, and yet his love for me has remained consistent--and has perhaps even grown. I love him so much, and I pray that God bless him with the title of "Daddy", in addition to "Husband".

Monday, March 8, 2010

That's Still a B!

We all know that the internet is full of all types of statistics.  Sometimes I fit the category, sometimes I don't.  I recently found an article ('s only an abstract) about the chances of a successful pregnancy after hearing a heartbeat and after surviving Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL).  The article (well, the abstract) explains that in a study of 300 women a history of RPL and 300 women with no history of RPL, that those with a history of RPL have an 82% chance of a healthy pregnancy after a heartbeat is detected, and those with no history of RPL have a 98% change of a healthy pregnancy after a heartbeat is detected.

Sure, if I could choose, I would definitely prefer to be in the 98% category.  But I recognize that I don't have a choice.

When I saw those numbers, I admit that I was fairly impressed.  When I shared these numbers with my extremely-caring friend, she promptly exclaimed "That's still a B!".  Sure, if I could choose, I would prefer to have an "A", but she's right.  There were so many times throughout my educational pursuits that I was stoked to get a "B".  And I think I felt the same when when I read that report.  Really, there's nothing wrong with a "B".  I can be happy with a "B".

And besides..."B" is for "baby".

Today's blessing was a really kind phlebotomist when I went in to get my new bloodwork done for the OB.  She shared that she had three losses, and now has three grown children.  In addition to the work that she does in the lab, she's also a double-major at my school in science-related fields so that she can pursue her passion for education and research.  She was so kind and understanding, and I'm blessed that God keeps bringing amazing people into my life in the most simple ways who offer me encouragement and hope on this journey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Natural Reaction

Flying back from my conference on Friday afternoon, I experienced something that hasn't happened for a while.  I was reclining in the seat at the airport, wishing that the hotel had granted me a late check-out so that I could have taken a nap.  I noticed a new mother pushing a stroller through the walkway beyond our row of chairs, and I sat up to try to get a glimpse of the baby. 

I admit that I haven't experienced that desire to look at a baby for quite a long time.  After my first loss, it was almost unbearable to see babies and pregnant bellies.  I admit that I was jealous.  I knew that I should be happy for those new mothers or mothers-to-be, but I was still so heartbroken for myself. 

I wasn't always that way.  I love babies!  Or, I should say, I used to love babies...and I think I'm starting to genuinely feel a sense of love for babies again.  That's why I thought that Friday's simple, and yet natural reaction was of enough significance to share here.  I want to get excited about babies...and yet, I realize that I'm still so cautious.  I have to admit that I don't know if I would have reacted the same way if I wasn't currently pregnant.  I'd like to think that I'm growing and maturing (my "Ahh!" reaction to my colleague's daughter's ultrasound pictures back in August was another episode of true delight), but I know that I still struggle.

I don't know if I really have a point to this post.  I guess what I'm trying to convey is my genuine desire to be free of the jealousy that I've experienced over the last two years or so.  I recognize the amazing wonder and awe of the creation of life, and I understand the fragility of life as well.  I want to continue to sit up and look over a row of airport chairs to see a baby passing by.  I want to be excited about all babies, not only this precious one growing inside of me.

Today's blessing was the chance to hang out with some friends who moved out of town over the summer, and were back for a quick visit.  They are such an amazing couple who balance each other out in the coolest way possible.  It was so great to spend a couple hours with them today just catching up.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Three Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, Please

I first met our RE on Friday, February 20th, 2009.  At that initial appointment, he told me to totally change my whole diet.  He told me to cut out all High Fructose Corn Syrup, potatoes, corn, any ingredient I couldn't pronounce, name it.  I figured that he's the I started following his directions pretty darn closely.  I "deviated" from time to time, but I quickly got really careful about what I ate.  And did I mention that he wanted me to do an hour of cardio and 200 crunches per day?  My cardio ended up being 20-30 minutes per day, but I did the crunches.

On February 20th, 2009, I weighed 175 pounds.  I'm 5'9", so I "distributed" the weight pretty well.  But it was definitely the heaviest I had ever been...and I was mostly okay with it.  I was happily married, and I was loving eating a home-cooked meal with my husband every night.

From day one of the dietary changes, my goal was always to get pregnant and maintain a healthy pregnancy.  The goal was never to lose weight.  Sure, it would be a nice perk, but I was never trying to lose weight.  But three or four months into "Operation:  Eat Healthy", the extra pounds started coming off.  For the most part, I avoided the scale--I was trying to provide a healthy environment for a future baby, not necessarily lose weight.

At my OB appointment, I was shocked that the scale (you know the old fashioned type with the sliding weights) was reading under 150.  I had my clothes and my boots on...but I swear it said 136.  That didn't seem right, so I assumed that I had misread it (adding up the multiple sliding weights has never been my specialty).  The next morning, out of curiosity, I got on our bathroom scale before getting in the shower.


I'm ten weeks pregnant and I weigh what I did in...8th grade?  I realize that the true weight gain hasn't quite started yet...but I'm pretty darn close to being considered "underweight".  I calculated that my Body Mass Index (BMI) is 19.2, which is barely in the normal range.  I figured that something had to change.

And so...I ate three chocolate-covered strawberries at the dessert buffet at my conference luncheon today.  I filled up on salad, soup, sandwich, rice, and steamed veggies as well.  But I gave myself permission to eat the chocolate-covered well as blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream (I need calcium at this stage, right?). 

I promise I'm not going to go overboard and switch back to the other extreme of gorging myself on sweets or other unhealthy items.  But it is a bit of a paradigm shift after being so careful about what I ate for the last year.  The way I see it, I could gain just over 40 pounds in this pregnancy and still be under the 175 mark that I was at around this time last year.  But just as I started to eat healthy for the sake of maintaining a pregnancy rather than losing weight, I need to continue to eat in a way that will maintain this pregnancy and not simply for the sake of gaining weight. 

Today, I recognize how much I am blessed to have a supervisor who supports my professional development.  While I'm at this conference, I'm reminded of just how blessed I am to have the emotional and financial support of our department in allowing me to participate in this sort of opportunity.  In this time of educational cutbacks, it really is a blessing to have the chance to present, learn, and network.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Difference Between Fourth and First

Perhaps this post would have been more effective while the Olympics were still on.  I admit that this concept dawned on my while the games were still on...but I had other things on my mind at the time. 

Anyway, while the Olympics were on, there was a little piece on how close some of the races were.  In multiple cases, the difference between first place and fourth place was less than a second.  It's crazy how the difference between a gold medal and going home empty-handed could be so slim.  That poor fourth place guy or gal worked just as hard...and yet only has memories to take home.  No one highlights a fourth place interviews, no newspaper headlines, no offers for "Dancing With The Stars".  But first place and a gold medal, and you're all over the place!  You become a household name and a "golden child".

I hate to admit it (and yet I'm okay with it), but I think I'm treating this fourth pregnancy as...well...a fourth pregnancy.  I realized the other day that I took pictures of the tests from my first, second, and third pregnancies, but neglected to do so with this fourth pregnancy.  I did cute things to show my husband with the first three...but simply woke him up this time.  With the first pregnancy, I had planned to wait a few weeks to tell my parents, brainstorming different ways that I could creatively announce it to them.  I ended up calling my mom during that first pregnancy to ask for prayers when the spotting started, and have yet to experience that big revelation moment with them.  I now share pretty much everything with my mom on nearly a daily basis--she knew the night before I took the test that I would be testing in the morning.  My announcement was "well...I'm calling first thing in the you know that that means...will you pray for me please?".  We told my father-in-law on his birthday about the first pregnancy, but then never got around to telling them about the second or third pregnancies until it was too late.  This time, we played it safe and told them after that first amazing ultrasound.  With the first three, I started to share the news with my good friends so that they could share in our joy.  Now, I'm much more cautious.  I've only told my church friends who can hold me up in prayer (and of course, this wonderful community).  I spoke with a good friend--one of my bridesmaids--on my birthday who asked point-blank if we were trying again.  I eluded her questions and just told her that I was trusting God's plan for our lives--which is the legitimate truth--but I'm just not ready to share this with her yet.

Perhaps later on down the road, I'll wish that I had the cute little momentos of pictures of pregnancy tests or memories of creative "We're Pregnant!" announcements.  But for now, I'm okay with just my own special moments with my fourth pregnancy.  I loved my first, second, and third babies, but I love my fourth baby just as much.  I don't care if there aren't any headlines or pictures or highlights--this pregnancy is still just as precious to me.  If anything, my experience with the first, second, and third have helped me to appreciate this fourth pregnancy even more.  I don't care if this child ever earns a medal--I love him or her just as much as if they were standing high on the podium.  Even if this is my fourth pregnancy, this child still has a special place in my heart.  The love, awe, and sense of wonder is still the same, no matter if it's my fourth or first.

My blessing today was pretty amazing!  This morning, I flew from Arizona to Colorado Springs for a conference, with a short layover in Denver.  My mom happened to be flying from Sacramento to Albuquerque, also with a short layover in Denver.  Our flights came in within five minutes of each other, two gates apart.  It was a quick visit, but it was still so absolutely wonderful to see my mom--even for just twenty minutes.  Since we spent the holidays with my husband's family in Montana, I haven't seen my parents since their visit in September.  And although it's still too early for me to show, this is the first time that my mom has ever seen me pregnant.  We may have looked silly to other travelers, but before boarding my plane (again, two gates apart), she put her hand on my belly and we prayed--thanking God for allowing our paths to cross and praying that He continue to care for, protect, and bless this next generation growing inside me.  And how cool is this--within minutes of finding each other (I should also mention that we realized our travel plans were coinciding last night when I talked to her), we discovered two pennies on the ground.  She took one, and I took the other.  It's amazing how God works in mysterious ways!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Still Looks Great!

Our first appointment with the OB went great today!  After the compulsory list of questions, the OB pulled out the ultrasound gel.  I didn't even have to beg for a chance to see the baby!  This was my first experience ever with an "outer" ultrasound...all of the others have always been "inner".  I didn't even have time to worry if it was too early to see anything this way--she found the baby right away.

It was absolutely beautiful to see the baby again.  It's only been two weeks since our last glimpse, but already we can notice the subtle changes.  I could still see the little heart beating away, and my husband picked up on it as well.  This time, we could also actually hear the heartbeat--which we weren't able to do with the RE's machine.  Since it was an "outer" ultrasound, the pictures aren't quite as sharp, but I still think they are beautiful.  As great as it was to see the baby, it was also amazing to see my husband's reaction.  He knew what to look for this time, and it is precious to see him get excited.  It was definitely worth it for him to find the way to take the day off of work.  In this picture, you can see the baby's left arm waving (head is to the left).

We asked the OB a ton of questions, and when we finally ran out, I mentioned our concern and apprehension, given our previous experience.  So rather than waiting a month, she offered me the chance to come back in two weeks.  Again, I didn't have to beg or haggle!  It's so great to have a doctor who gets me and wants to do what she can to help overcome these fears and concerns.  So I'll see her again on March 17th, at which point I should be at 12 weeks.

God is good!  It is a huge blessing to know that my baby is growing and developing as God designed!  I'm amazingly blessed!  But I'm also blessed with all of the women on here who support me and pray for me through big days like today.  I totally appreciate you and your prayers.