Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 30th, 2013

On December 30th, 2012, R shocked me by agreeing to try a single DS cycle. On December 30th, 2013, I returned home from Christmas vacation just 66 days away from our baby's due date.

Although our path wasn't as straight as we imagined it would be, we saw the Lord do amazing things in 2013. Not just in blessing our family with this pregnancy but in growing our family spiritually and relationally.

We saw the Lord provide for us in very specific ways: with my being laid off and then finding a work from home job so quickly, with provision of finances to cover my maternity leave and Aaron's birth, and providing a better insurance plan through R's employer.

R and I have continued to grow closer to the Lord and, in turn, closer to each other. Little K is loving Awanas and is retaining scripture. Little K and R have continued to grow in their father-daughter relationship and I love seeing how they interact. I have begun mentoring a wonderful girl I met five years ago and am seeing the Lord work in both of our lives with this time together.

The coming year holds so much excitement. Obviously, we have Aaron's birth to look forward to in less than ten weeks. In April, I'll begin working toward getting back in shape for the rest of the year. Little K will be finishing up this tough year in second grade and we are praying for her third grade teacher already. We are also completing an application for a wonderful charter school near us and are praying for the Lord's will in the outcome.

I have big dreams for our family's study of scripture this year. My mom gave Little K a copy of the children's Jesus Calling for Christmas last year and I picked up the adult copy two weeks ago. My goal is to read Jesus Calling each morning and to do the children's book with Little K at least three times per week. I also have a meal-time devotions book that I would like to do at the dinner table with R and Little K three times per week. I will be finishing up the BSF study of Matthew in May and would like to complete the Esther study my mother gave me during the summer break. The women's small group I attend will be studying the book Stronger: Finding Hope in Fragile Places January-May of this year, too.

I also have Redeeming Childbirth to finish reading and all of my HypnoBabies materials to complete, both in the next nine weeks. No pressure!

We are excited to see how the Lord will shape and mold our family in 2014. And we can't wait to meet Aaron and make Little K a big sister!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christsmas Music Monday: Family

I'm here in Texas with my parents, sister, BIL, and niece for Christmas. John Denver and The Muppets' album "A Christmas Together" was our favorite Christmas soundtrack growing up and remains to this day. Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Etsy Day: Rustic

It may surprise you all to know we have a very rustic Christmas theme. When I married R, he was obsessed with a certain handmade style of ornament that was carried at places like Cracker Barrel. Although very different than my previous glittery holiday feel, I have come to love our rustic Christmas decor.

For Unto us a child is born

Garland of Felt


JOY to the world Blocks

A Savior is Born

burlap Christmas stocking

Holly Jolly Chalkboard

Let It Snow

Friday, December 20, 2013

Preggo Update: 29 Weeks

As always, this is a post about pregnancy. If you're not in a good place, please feel free to pass. Take care of you!

WHOA. I can't believe we're only eleven weeks away from D-day! And, considering Little K was a week early, maybe only ten weeks! Eek!

As you may have noticed from Wednesday's pictures, a theme for Aaron's nursery has developed. Originally it was going to be owls but it looks like we're going woodland up in here! I just love all of the fabrics and accents coming into his room. I've even found a woodland rug for him! I'm still looking for a piece of artwork for above the dresser though. If you find a woodsy-ish 24" square print or painting, please let me know!

This little man has been getting HUGE. I seriously don't remember being this big so early with Little K. He was doing some incredible gymnastics last Friday night, to the point where one side of my stomach would collapse because he was all bunched up on the other side. Crazy kid! He also got the hiccups for the first time this past Monday night. Aww! R and I spend time each night feeling my belly and trying to figure out which body part is which. Elbows and his tush are making a big appearance these days.

My appetite has finally gotten back to normal. After Thanksgiving, I just wasn't hungry for several days. I'm feeling pretty good about my diet and weight, though. I have a Greek yogurt first thing in the morning, possibly a bowl of cereal after our walk. Lunch is around 11am and consists of two eggs, two pieces of whole grain toast, and three clementines. I have an apple and string cheese and some Christmas cookies for a snack. Dinner is chicken, a small serving of whole grains, and some veggies. I try to have a bowl of cereal rather than a regular dessert most nights. Lots of water all day. I can feel Aaron move around all the time, so he's obviously getting what he needs. I'm trying to really listen to my body, eat when I'm hungry, and make good choices.

Sleep is going okay. My hips are SO SORE these days, so I wake up with plenty of aches and pains. But I'm only waking once per night to urinate, so that's a huge blessing. My body pillow is an absolute must. My insomnia has pretty much disappeared, thank goodness.

Speaking of things that have disappeared, my belly button is MIA. I have the teeniest little dent where my belly button used to be. The rest of my abdomen is on notice because I absolutely refuse to get stretchmarks. We are talking TONS of CeraVe lotion over here.

My tush still gets super sore if I sit for too long or on a surface that is too firm. The top of my belly pulls and aches by the end of the day. I get out of breath when I bend over to put on shoes; I've given up heeled shoes completely. My feet ache if I stand for too long without shoes on. My nose bleeds every morning. I can't see my bikini area to shave for the pool. I've peed myself twice this past week. But I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

Thank you, Lord, for a wonderfully uneventful pregnancy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Little K's Birthday Party!

Making Christmas Cookies

Aaron's Quilt and Crib Skirt Fabric

Owl Art and Fleece Blanket

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HypnoBabies Review, Week 2

This is my review of the HypnoBabies Home Study Course from a Christian perspective. These are my personal thoughts and experiences only, not directed or encouraged by any outside person, group, or organization.

Week 1 Review

Note: HypnoBabies is written to be spiritually neutral, allowing participants to bring in any practices that they find helpful. When I read the HypnoBabies webpage about Christianity and Hypnosis, it was clear that I would be incorporating scripture and Biblical imagery in my use of the program.

HypnoBabies, Week 2
I've been struggling with writing this HypnoBabies Week 2 Review, simply because the materials this week were SO GOOD! There's not a much needed at all to make this week's lesson more Christian-friendly or comfortable. Let's just get right into it.
  • Workbook Class #2
  • Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations (Disc 5)
  • Learning Self-Hypnosis (Disc 3)
  • Deepening (Disc 2)
The workbook this week was wonderful! The first section describes the information you will learn and reinforce in this week's tracks. I enjoy these brief descriptions of the listening materials and feel that this helps me better understand the reason behind certain words or phrases I will hear later.

Two main techniques learned this week are the Finger-Drop Technique and the Lightswitch.

The Finger-Drop Technique is a method of entering self-hypnosis. The idea is to be able to put yourself into hypnosis without needing one of the CD tracks to help you. I found this technique very easy to learn and extremely relaxing. Although the phrase you repeat internally to help yourself stay in hypnosis is supposed to be "Deeper and deeper with every breath I exhale," I alternated this with my version of John 14:27 "Peace I give you, My peace I leave with you."

Included with the Finger-Drop Technique is the Lightswitch. The visualization is of a light switch located at the base of your skull on you neck. During your regular waking hours, this switch is "On" and allows you to move around, read blogs interact with people, etc. However, when you enter hypnosis with the Finger-Drop Technique, this switch is turned "Off." Being in the off position, your muscles (and nerves, if I am understanding the concept correctly) are turned off. You are not to move or feel during this time. This is one of the first steps in creating hypno-anesthesia for childbirth. You can choose to move at any point during this time but must first turn your light switch back "On" first.

While I am really enjoying learning hypnosis with this program, I am finding the additional scientific/educational material invaluable! This week focused on health and nutrition is is just wonderful.

The nutrition section is 12 pages long and so helpful! HypnoBabies supports the pregnancy diet developed by Dr. Tom Brewer and is very focused on protein consumption. Which is not to say that it neglects fruits and vegetables. The materials clearly breakdown each type of food you should be eating, how much, and which vitamins and minerals it provides. It also lists how much protein is found in each food and provides a great checklist for your daily food intake. Interestingly, these materials recommend at least two eggs per day to strengthen the amniotic sac. I just happen to LOVE eggs and am very happy to comply!

The next section deal with toxic substances and how to avoid them during pregnancy. Included are household cleaning products, aerosol, artificial anything, medications, and certain foods. I found this information thorough and helpful. Following this are nine pages dedicated to comfort in pregnancy and prenatal exercises. Again, very good information! I need to be more proactive in doing the exercises in the book, which focus on flexibility and strengthening your muscles for your birthing time.

The final few pages are about your birthing time. They briefly walk you through early first stage, mid to late first stage, transformation (transition), and second stage of birth. Complete with diagrams! Also discussed is the time immediately following birth and certain routine procedures. I will discuss these in more detail in the next review as we begin preparing our birth preferences.

Learning Self-Hypnosis
I would like to start out by saying that I haven't found the need to edits the listening materials beyond the edits discussed in the Week 1 Review. I have begun listening to these tracks while sitting on my birth/yoga ball, as well as when I'm lying down in bed.

Learning Self-Hypnosis focuses on teaching you the Lightswitch concept. This is a very easy track to listen to and learn. I enjoy the count-in to hypnosis as it is very different from previous tracks. Rather than talking you into hypnosis, you are asked to countdown from 100 out loud with the words "deeper and deeper" between each number. It reminds me very much of counting down before egg retrieval or surgery. I'm usually in light hypnosis already before the countdown begins and have to exert a fair amount of mental energy in order to say the first few numbers. It is very easy to enter full hypnosis by 95 and enjoy the rest of the track.

This is a wonderfully relaxing track and one I listened to the most over the past two weeks. You enter hypnosis early in the track with your Finger-Drop Technique. Once you enter hypnosis with the Finger-Drop, you take yourself to your special safe place as created in Week 1. The track then talks you through a deepening of hypnosis, taking you from a surface hypnosis into two deeper levels. It is while in these deeper levels that you are able to disconnect with your muscles (and nerves) even more, which works to create hypno-anesthesia. This track is used in Week 3, as well.

At the end of the track, the speaker states that, if this is your regular bedtime or naptime, you are given the suggestion to disregard the count-up out of hypnosis and simply fall into a deep, restful sleep. With that phrase in place, I have chosen to usually listen to this track at bedtime and enjoy a very good night's sleep.

Week 2 Impressions
I am enjoying the HypnoBabies program very much and am finding more value in it every week! The tracks are extremely relaxing and the workbook materials are very educational.

As stated above, I haven't found the need to edit the listening materials beyond the edits discussed in the Week 1 Review. While scripture continues to be a big part of my preparation for birth, I do not feel the need to find new verses to support each track or make me more comfortable.

Scriptures to Date

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Creme de la Creme Reminder

Here we are, just three days away from the deadline for submitting your 2013 Creme de la Creme List! I hope you have taken the time to submit a post for this wonderful list. It is always a powerful experience to see everyone's "Best Post" of the year. You can check out previous years' lists on the sidebar here.

The list closes on December 15th this year. Here's a link to the submission form. I can't wait to read everyone's submissions starting on January 1st!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Christmas Party!
Our Stroller Arrived! And both Little K and Sora are confused about who it's for...

Anniversary Flowers, Making fudge with Little K

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Confession: Jealousy

Note: This post is not directed at anyone. If you are carrying twins, I am excited for you, rejoicing with you, and praying for healthy full-term babies! Praise God for your pregnancy and the life carried inside you!

I've been struggling for a while with jealousy. It feels ungrateful to desire something more than what I have right now. I mean, we prayed for YEARS about expanding our family, left the result in the Lord's hand with a one-time shot, and here I am. Pregnant. After only a 20% chance of conception and using frozen rather than fresh sperm.

I'm pregnant.

Not only pregnant, but experiencing an uneventful pregnancy. No serious complications or bleeding. Nothing to be terribly concerned about. Just going through life and enjoying this pregnancy.

But there are times when I get bummed. When I get jealous. When I struggle with how the Lord has planned for our family to look, to be.

I expected to be pregnant with twins.

Even when I'm bouncing with joy for the (recently, many) ALI twin pregnancy announcements, there's a tug on my heart that wonders "why wasn't it me?" I mean, not only did we use Clomid. Not only is my father a twin. Not only did I have four mature follicles for our IUI... I also really thought that the Lord had given my friend a prophetic vision of our family. Twins, one boy and one girl.

But that wasn't God's plan for us.

I know, both on paper and through all of the loss here in our community, that two heartbeats doesn't guarantee two babies. I know that twin pregnancies really are high risk and should not be taken lightly. I know that, with a few exceptions, you're looking at preterm birth at the least and pregnancy loss at the worst. I know all of these things.

But I really expected that we would have two baby A's in there, not one.

R is always quick to point out to me that I need to be thankful for the one, healthy baby we have growing. I remind myself that we left ALL of this in the Lord's hands and so I can trust that this one child is exactly who our family needs to be complete. I think about R's age, Little K's personality, our finances, and how a singleton really does make more sense for our lives.

Sometimes, though, I get down. I get a flare of jealousy when another ALI mom posts an ultrasound of two white smudges. I worry that I sinned myself out of Aaron's twin. I worry that he will grow up lonely with a sister that is eight years older than him...

I'm not proud of my reaction but I'm not afraid to admit it, either. Continuing to trust in the Lord and turn my heart and thoughts over to Him every day.

I'm learning that infertility is a pain that doesn't end with pregnancy. No matter the severity of your diagnosis, no matter the length of your journey.

The burden that built up takes more than a positive pregnancy test to shed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Music Monday: Hymn

Easily my favorite Christmas hymn which, sadly, has fallen out of favor in recent years.

Friday, December 6, 2013

HypnoBabies Delayed: Updated

I know I owe you the review of HypnoBabies: Week 2. I know. But I have a midwife appt this morning and the gestational diabetes test, which apparently has taken up all of my brain space the past couple of days. I will update with the results from this morning when I get back and will work on HB over the weekend, deal?

Stay tuned for updates!


I'm so happy to say that this morning's appointment went well! I didn't realize just how upset I've been about the focus on weight with this practice until I stepped on the scale and saw that it had barely increased from last time. Today was the first time in my care that I haven't received a little talk about weight gain. YAY!

That being said, we did talk about nutrition. I brought my HypnoBabies workbook to today's appointment, opened up to the nutrition section. I was ready to defend my weight gain and tell these women to step off. Instead, we had the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the program in the HB book (Dr. Brewers). It ended up being a good discussion and felt heard and encouraged.

Now, even though the scale barely moved (only up 1.6 pounds, 20 pounds total) doesn't mean Aaron hasn't grown. My last appointment was at 23 weeks, at which my uterus measured 22. Today marks 27 weeks and my uterus measured 30!! I was initially concerned about this, but the midwife pointed out that there's a big growth spurt at the beginning of the third trimester plus his position will effect measurements. She said that she will get concerned if I measure consistently behind or above.

So, I know that this is all supposed to be about today's blood work. The lemon-lime glucose drink went down fine and the blood draw was pretty painless. Results come in 24-48 hours so, with the weekend, I will hear on Monday. Given my weight gain, I'm not terribly concerned. But measuring ahead can be a marker, so we'll just see.

The phlebotomist checked my hemoglobin level while I was there, which came back normal. Yay, no need for iron supplements!

I guess the short version is that everything was fine. I'll get a call on Monday with the GD results, although I will probably only hear from them if the results are abnormal. I got celebratory Sonic on my way home and ate without guilt. Rock on.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Photo dump!

 Little K's Oreo Pie

 Thanksgiving Table

 Advent Crafting

 Annual Gingerbread House

 Decorating for Christmas with my Daddy
Aaron helping me with the mantel

 Yes, I let my daughter go up the ladder. Also: Christmas Kitty

Going to see Santa and the Lights

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

(Not a) Wordless Wednesday: Five Years

Five years ago today, R and I were finding our way through the freezing streets of downtown Raleigh in search of the Register of Deeds to apply for our marriage license. An hour after that, we were standing in the fellowship hall of R's church to get married by his pastor with two of his staff as witnesses. Thirty minutes later, we sat down for a latte and blueberry muffin at Starbucks.

I got married in jeans and a beautiful sweater from White House Black Market. R wore his favorite button down shirt. I played "When You Say Nothing At All" by Alison Krauss on the upright piano as we waited for the pastor to come in. We said our vows in front of an unlit fireplace.

It wasn't fancy. It wasn't planned out. There weren't any flowers or pretty white dresses. Our kids and parents weren't there. It wasn't a wedding ceremony that either of us had experienced before. But it was perfect because it was us.

Last year, I had big plans for our fifth wedding anniversary. I was going to wear the pretty cocktail dress I had planned on getting married in before there was a chance of snow that day. We were going to have a fancy dinner with Little K and my parents there. We talked about maybe having flowers and a mini wedding cake.

Instead, we celebrated our anniversary quietly on Sunday night with dinner at a little Japanese restaurant and frozen yogurt. Aaron kicked me throughout our date while my parents watched Little K at home. We talked about how different and better life is now than we ever expected five years ago. And the whole night was perfect because it was us.

 I love you, Roger. God has been so good to us.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

26.5 Weeks

This is a pregnancy post. If you're not in a good place, please feel free to pass. Take care of you!

Wow! It feels like it's been a while since I've done one of these posts. I guess the good news is that nothing dramatic or news worthy has been going on. Let's see what's been up over here...

Baby: Aaron is such a little mover! He is rolling, kicking, and punching all day and night. My folks were in town last week and my mom had the opportunity to feel Aaron moving again. We think we were able to locate his little bottom on my right side while he was kicking. Two mornings in a row, R and I were cuddling and R could feel Aaron's kicks while my belly was pressed against his side.

Belly: Speaking of the belly - oh my goodness, the belly is HUGE! I'm seriously wondering how much longer my size Medium maternity shirts will fit. Eek! My belly button is even more shallow and isn't quite round anymore. I was able to avoid it popping with Little K but I think it will be a different story this time. Praying that I escape without stretchmarks again...

Boobs: This one is pretty cool. Beside the fact that my breasts are ENORMOUS now, I started leaking colostrum! I am SO excited about this and am feeling super optimistic about breastfeeding. My biggest struggle with Little K was how long it took my milk to come in. I think we won't have that problem this time! WOOO!

Bottom: My poor, poor tailbone. I actually had to leave BSF early last week because I just couldn't sit down anymore. I purchased a yoga ball/birth ball on Tuesday and have begun sitting on that as much as possible. So glad to say it's helping! My tailbone has been fine the past three days so I'm hoping we found the fix. I don't want to have to bring an inflatable donut to BSF!

Birth: I am in the second week of Week 2 in Hypnobabies. I really slacked the week of Thanksgiving and have a lot of practice to put in before I move on to Week 3 on Sunday. I'm very thankful that Week 2 is mostly about nutrition and prenatal exercises, which leads very well into the next bullet. I will review Week 2 in full this Friday.

Blah: My weight. I mean, whatever right? You're bound to gain weight in pregnancy. I've been totally slacking on making salads or anything. However, based on my Hypnobabies reading, I have made some changes that I feel are very positive. I'm back to having a Greek yogurt early in the morning for a nice protein punch. I'm eating two eggs, cooked in EVOO spray rather than in butter, every day for more protein and to strengthen my amniotic sack. I'm having three clementines and one apple each day for snacks. I made a point of serving myself small portions on Thanksgiving and throughout the week. Whatever. I have a midwife appointment on Friday morning and refuse to feel bad about enjoying food during my pregnancy. So there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Music Monday: Fun!

A special Music Monday series for December. Maybe it's the show coir geek in me but my Christmas has never been the same since I was introduced to this little number by Straight No Chaser. Enjoy!