Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2nd Pregnancy: Week 25

I have had so many of the days I am about to describe. Days when I cannot get a handle on my emotions. With several days of not being able to get out of my house due to a ridiculous amount of snow in the parking lot and on the streets of my neighborhood and lack of it all being plowed up, I got in at least one nap a day. I should not have spoiled myself so heavily, because the first full day back at work, I nearly had to tape my eyes open driving back home from work.

I was nearly in tears as I dragged through the door of the house and greeted my energetic 16 month old. It was around 5pm, and I begged Josh to let me have a 30 minute nap as I could feel my eye balls burning. "Begged" really does not fully describe how pathetically I asked him. I had a hint of rage in my voice, but you could hear more of a whimper come out. Begrudgingly, Josh agreed to watch Shepherd to let me nap for half an hour. He was just as exhausted as I was being shut inside for another day in a small house with an energizer-bunny-type toddler.

15 minutes in to my nap I hear footsteps head upstairs and in to Shep's room. My eyes snapped open as I hear Shep scream bloody murder as Josh was changing his poopy diaper. First of all, Shepherd hates getting his diaper changed. Secondly, he had a diaper rash making the entire experience intolerable. After about 5 minutes, Shep's screaming and crying dissipates, but I start to hear drawers opening and closing (slamming) in the bathroom next door. Finally, I sit up right as Josh opens the bedroom door.

Bless Josh's heart. At this point whatever self-composure I was holding in was completely gushing out all over the place spattering Josh right in the face. Just as an 8-year-old would, I stormed out of the bedroom in an oversized t-shirt and underwear with hair in disarray and a slight drool stain on the side of my face. I started yelling about how "I never get to sleep. EVER!" I rambled off 10 other child-like bursts of anger as I stomped down the stairs flailing my arms in the air and in to the kitchen to cook dinner.

Josh was only coming in the bedroom to sweetly wake me up from my nap and could not understand why I was being such a b...   badly mannered wife. He came downstairs with Shep completely confused. I was shoveling different pans around on the stove, throwing onions on the cutting board, and slapping raw chicken on the counter. Josh ended up cooking dinner to let me settle down. I played with Shep for half an hour until dinner was ready. I was so "hangry" at this point, we ate in silence as I practically inhaled two fajita burritos.

Shepherd didn't get his afternoon nap so he was ready for bed directly after dinner. We read a few books before he laid himself down in his bed. I started singing his song, "Jesus Loves Me," and about 4 other songs later, I had lulled Shep to sleep with my shaky out-of-tune voice. The whole picture of my son finding my voice soothing and sweetly falling asleep to worship songs and hymns sent me into another wave of emotions. I walked downstairs and burst in to tears. Again, Josh was completely confused. I shared with him the sweet moment I just spent with Shep, and how much I loved our little family, how good God is, and how beautiful I think Shepherd is. Then I started apologizing for my earlier rage and now uncontrollable crying. I ended the night with a large bowl of ice cream covered in chocolate syrup with zero guilty conscience of the calorie-filled comfort food. I got the late-night-giggles and could not stop after eating the ice cream. I am sure all Josh could think was, "Lord, help me."

These are the days when I cannot balance my feelings. The slightest shift in my emotions don't play out softly, they come out blaring in the ugliest form of exhaustion, tears, rage or even abundant joy. These are so not the pretty parts of hormonal changes of pregnancy, and I have often found that this entire description correlates closely with those "time of the month" days ladies so often experience. A coworker of mine confirmed my connection of these crazy-lady-days with pregnancy days and PMS days. I am glad I am not the only one who is like this. Shew.

In conclusion, thank God for ice cream and chocolate.

How far along? 25 weeks
Baby is the size of an: acorn squash
Total weight gain: 22 pounds
Waist Measurement: 38 inches
Maternity clothes? Yes, but honestly even scrub bottoms are getting uncomfortable. 
Stretch marks? None yet. For some reason I feel way bigger than I was in my first pregnancy, but I know it is all in my head. I wouldn't mind getting a little bigger with a few stretch marks, if I could guarantee a shorter labor!
Sleep: Sleep has been normal pregnancy sleep. Meaning, I get up every 3-4 hours to pee, but I would get more sleep if I actually went to bed at a decent time. I can't stop reading at night!
Best moment this week: This is so not anyone's business, but my best moment every day has been when I am able to take off all of my ridiculously uncomfortable clothes and crawl in between my covers with my cumbersome Snoogle pillow. I realize how absurd I have become, but my girth does not like anything squeezing it to death whether it is a Jessica Simpson stretchy band, sweats, or scrub bottoms that are increasingly becoming too tight. 
Movement: So. Much. Movement. Movement has been all over, but mainly still lower in the uterus.
Food cravings: Meat, I guess. Josh was in charge of cooking dinner one night, and quickly after he told me he was making a vegetarian meal with bowtie pasta, sauteed peppers, and olive oil sauce, I suggested I would pick up some Polish sausage to go nicely with his dish. I have been wanting heartier meals, and meat has been my go to.
Gender: We have stuck to our decision to not find out baby 2.0's gender!
Symptoms: Nothing other than peeing as if my esophagus is attaching directly to the toilet and being unreasonably uncomfortable at 25 weeks.
Belly Button in or out? Out - same as last week. It is just barely out.

Wedding rings on or off? On
Mood?: I think we already covered this - outrageous.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2nd Pregnancy: Week 24

Last week went by with chaotic happenings shadowing all my everyday routines. I barely remembered I was pregnant or even thought about how much more chaos will be added to it all when this baby comes. After the lice mayhem, we packed up and left for North Carolina for a ski trip with the youth group at our church. 

After about 2 hours in the bus, we all noticed how astronomically hot we were all getting. I thought it was just me with my ridiculous hormones, but, no, I wasn't just crazy pregnant Elise. The air conditioner was not working and the heat could not be turned off. After about an hour of mind boggling heat steaming up the windows in a bus, we pulled over in a vacant parking lot to fix the problem and let everyone cool off. We all stumbled out of the bus to catch a breath of fresh air. It did not take more than 2 minutes before I was freezing and wanted back on. After 30-40 minutes of unresolved phone calls to the Volvo company and maintenance crew and flicking every knob that could be turned, we loaded back on to the bus and just dealt with the heat by opening up the overhead emergency exits to let in the icy air. 

I was actually worried about this five and half hour bus ride, because Shepherd would not be in a car seat and could make this trip either very enjoyable or intolerable. Surprisingly, he did AWESOME! He played and played with everyone who would look his direction. He had one 5 minute crying stint. At this point it was 2 hours past his usual bedtime, and he was so exhausted he did not know how to let himself fall asleep. I held him and sang "Jesus Loves Me" so many times I lost count while Josh scratched his back. Finally he fell asleep on a pillow all sprawled out taking up two seats. Josh and I took turns watching him as he would roll around in his sleep. He almost completely rolled off before I could catch him, but I kept a better eye on him after that. 

Shepherd was not the problem at all though. Having an enormous belly was actually the problem and the most uncomfortable thing when sitting on a bus for 8 hours - yes, that is how long it took us total with stopping for food and our AC breakdown. (This is without mention of how hot I was) Anytime I tried to reach for my bag under my seat or grab Shep's ball that fell on the floor over and over I would need to bend at the abs to reach down between my seat and the seat in front of me.  

That. Is. Not. Possible. For. This. Lady. 

I could not simply "bend at the abs." I would have to roll on my side on the seat and scrap blindly for the object or somehow squeeze these baby-making-hips in the aisle between the seats to get on all fours and crawl around. Finally towards the end of that bus ride I just said, "screw it," and anything that was out of my reach was declared forever "all gone" as I would sign to Shep. This was unless the young-blooded  high schoolers with six packs decided to pick up whatever Shepherd decided to throw on the ground that time. E.g. chapstick, his ball, my pen, his milk, etc...

I still hadn't had any pregnancy sick symptoms in over a week, but of course I had to break my record on a bus ride such as this. Let's just say I shouldn't have eaten lasagna for lunch before I jumped on that bus, and bus toilets are not meant to be thrown up in. I said a prayer for the students sitting at the back of the bus to have decreased sense of smell for the next however many hours until we got off the bus. God bless their souls. I did not make eye contact with any of them as I made my way back towards the front of the bus. 

Next time, I will probably pull the mom card and caravan in my own car with babies in the back playing the Frozen soundtrack while Josh goes ahead and participates in the party bus. Lesson learned. 

24 weeks and 4 days

How far along? 24 weeks
Baby is as long as an: ear of corn
Total weight gain: Moved up to 21 pounds. Yeesh. I blame it on the free food.
Waist Measurement: 38 inches
Maternity clothes? Maternity Jessica Simpson jeans! I haven't worn any other maternity clothing this week though. I've worn sweats and more sweats. 
Stretch marks? None that I have noticed, but I am starting to have a harder time even seeing anything other than a giant belly. 
Sleep: Sleep has been great since I got back home. I didn't pack my Snoogle pillow for the ski trip. WHAT WAS I THINKING? That is all I could think about as I got ready for bed each night in the cabin. 
Best moment this week: I really liked getting to know some of the youth better and see their hearts for the Lord. Youth ministry is one of the most overlooked jobs there is, but it is a job that makes grandiose impacts on lives for decades. 
Movement: I loved this jittery baby! Movement is consistent, but not big movements just yet. 
Food cravings: Still toasted pb&j's, sour patch kids, and friggin' fast food (I decided to give up fast food for Lent so we'll see how that goes - baby gets what baby wants). 
Gender: We will find out in 16 weeks!
Symptoms: Just a few throwing up episodes....
Belly Button in or out? It is out, but just barely.

Wedding rings on or off? On
Mood?: Thankful to be home and not snowed in somewhere other than here! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2nd Pregnancy: Week 23

The weekend before last I went to IF Local, which is a women's Christian conference streamed in from the live IF Gathering in Austin. The concept starts off by asking the question, "if God is real, then what?" It builds from there with each speaker equipping women to step in to what God is calling them in to next. The last question presented at the end of the conference asked women to take a rock, something solid that will last, and write down what the next step is that God is calling us towards. I prayed for about half an hour turning the stone in my hand and pulling the sharpie lid off and on. I kept asking, "what is my next step?"

I kept hearing "stay at home mom, stay at home mom, stay at home mom (SAHM)" over and over. This was confusing to me, because Josh and I had already decided I was going to stay home with this baby and Shepherd after I give birth. Finally, it clicked. I wasn't staying home to be a SAHM for just financial reasons or because it just makes sense with Josh having a year left in seminary. I am called to be SAHM by God for this time in my life. Staying at home all day with a baby and a toddler can be just plain hard work. I think it could be harder than going to work every day. Many times SAHMs can look back on their day sometimes and think they accomplished nothing, "failed" because they didn't stick to their structured routine or didn't pick up the 1000 cheerios all over the floor, because there just isn't enough energy to do one more thing. The bigger picture of a child's upbringing looks like a mosaic of each day or moment of their childhood from the person wiping their nose, endlessly changing their diaper, giving them baths, playing peak a boo, reading them a story, finding the right food that they will actually eat, and holding them when they bump their head and want that one person that watches them day after day to hold them. There is no "mommy, I understand how tired you are. Why don't you take a nap?" No. This is a freaking calling! It takes absolute selfless service to care for tiny human beings that have zero ability to be self-efficient. This is where I get in to my 40 hour stint of what it would look like on a bad as a SAHM. 

Let's just talk about what every American stereotypes as the dirtiest thing a family could experience and shudders at the thought of knowing anyone in their inner circle of having it. Lice.

We were warned the Friday afternoon before all of this went down that my cousin and her daughter had lice. We spent the previous weekend with them as we were in Texas for my step-grandma's funeral, but we weren't too worried about it. I went ahead and checked Shepherd's and Josh's head just in case, and Josh checked my head for any indication of lice. We didn't see any on our heads, so I assumed we were in the clear. Ha! The next day I spent 9 hours at the conference I referenced earlier. As soon as I stepped in my home around 6:30pm, I played with Shepherd for about 30 minutes before taking him upstairs for his bath to get ready for bed. After playing endlessly in the water, I finally got him in pajamas and almost ready for bed. We went back to the bathroom to brush his hair, and I saw tiny specks of what looked like dirt...for a second. I wasn't panicking yet as Josh and Shepherd had taken a hike earlier and it could have been dirt that I just didn't get out during his bath. I yelled at Josh to "come upstairs right now!" He held him so that I could get a closer look, and sure enough, there was friggin' lice all up in that beautiful head of blonde hair. I immediately sprayed hair spray all over my head to avoid any transfer of lice. 

It just so happens we had 2 guests in our house at the time. They had been hiking and hanging out with Josh and Shep all day, but they left within 5 minutes of the not-so-American-friendly news. I don't blame them. I probably would have done the same thing. I rushed off to Kroger in the mean time to get whatever it is you get for lice control. I promptly burst in to tears in the Kroger parking lot when receiving advice that shaving Shepherd's head was the quickest way to get rid of the lice. This may be because I am partial to his feathery board-straight sunshine hair and I have so many emotions right now that they tend to spill out everywhere if I get too happy, sad, or freaked out. The thought of cutting off all of his hair was like me ridding him or his baby-hood officially. 

Back at home Josh sat on the tiled bathroom floor as I shaved a strip of his hair before shaving a strip of Shep's. We went back and forth like this, and as Shep kept spinning around, the strips weren't beside each other. He honestly looked like a patient going through chemo and radiation. I was bawling like a cartoon squeezing lemon sized tears out my eyeballs while happily exclaiming, "yay!!!! Sheppy! You are doing so good! Weeeeee! Isn't this fun?!" so Shepherd wouldn't be scared. Josh just laughed at me and held Shep so I could put the finishing touches on his very short buzz cut. Then the drill happened very orderly after that. I proceeded to pick out the lice individually, re-bathe Shep, spray melaleuca on his head, take all things fabric out of every room Shep previously touched, put Shep to bed, etc...

The next day we quarantined ourselves inside our house to make sure everything was contained. Josh did have to leave for several hours to go in town for ultimate frisbee practice, but other than that it was an inside day for us. We began the day with our usual breakfast routine followed by bath time. Then we played for 40 minutes in Shep's room reading books and playing with legos. Then I put Shepherd down for a nap. I was beginning to think, "pshh this mom thing is such a breeze." But then he wakes up from that nap and there are still 9 more hours in the day before he goes down at night! 9 MORE HOURS! It was only 11:30am. I was already starting to lose my mind. I mean.. how many times can we put the ball in the goal? How many times can I put the puzzle back together for him to tear it apart? What the heck do you do all day long if you can't go outside and you would like to keep TV to a minimum? Around 2pm, I started to laugh thinking about the day before when I had written on my rock to "become a SAHM." 

I am positive that being a stay at home mom is not natural for everyone. I believe for me it has to be a direct calling from God in order for me to stay sane once I transition out of my working job and in to staying at home. I will ask for patience, creativity, and grace on a daily basis. I commend those mamas out there that think it is a breeze to take on this gig, but I have a feeling that most, if not all, moms agree that raising babies is no easy task. I still have around 17 more weeks for God to prepare me for this new role as I am obviously absolutely terrified. 

23 weeks and 3 days

You can see his or her hand up by the mouth

How far along? 23 weeks
Baby weighs the same as: 5 small peaches
Total weight gain: 18 pounds!!! I gained 4 in one
Waist Measurement: 37 inches
Maternity clothes? yes, but this week has been full of wearing scrubs and sweatpants.
Stretch marks? None yet.
Sleep: Sleep has been wonderful.
Best moment this week: Seeing baby 2.0 at our anatomy check-up ultrasound. There were zero complications, and the subchorionic hematomas weren't even mentioned! I was very tempted to just cave and let the tech tell us the gender, but instead we turned away when she scanned over that area. She told us she knows the gender, but we just laughed and didn't inquire any further. My guess is that this babe is a boy even though my symptoms were completely different from Shep in the beginning. Now the pregnancy is going exactly like the first minus the cravings. 
Movement: Movement is regular! Josh feels the baby all the time. I do exercises regularly to get the baby off of my bladder, but he or she just keeps moving on down there. 
Food cravings: Definitely sweets and junk food this week. A good calorie filled chicken sandwich from Chic-fil-a or Wendy's sounds amazing. Also, I cannot get enough sour patch straws. No I didn't say sour skittles or sour patch kids. This is a very specific craving. Lord...I am not surprised I have gained so much weight. 
Gender: Despite our temptations at the ultrasound, we don't know the gender, BUT our ultrasound tech does!

Symptoms: I haven't had ANY symptoms this week with the exception of junky cravings. 
Belly Button in or out? OUTIE! 
Wedding rings on or off? On
Mood?: Great!

Monday, February 2, 2015

2nd Pregnancy: Week 22

This week has been a lot of reflection on the blessing life actually brings us. My step-grandma, my step dad's mom, passed away this past week.  With losing my grandpa last month and now my Freda, my family has had several reunions. This has given me a lot of quality time with my cousin, Deidra, and lots of conversations of the end of life and the start of new life.

We have very different journeys when it comes to starting a new family. Deidra babysat her entire youth, studied child development in college, and chose childcare as a career to really foster healthy development with little ones from a young age. She knew she wanted to start a family soon after marrying my cousin, Cliff, in June of 2000. She went off of birth control that following October. After years of infertility, they decided to enter in to the world of foster care. Their intentions going in were foster to adopt, and the first little boy placed in to their home was 7 months old.  They ended up adopting that little boy, Zackary Wayne, to start their family in February of 2006. Six years later! A little over three years later and a series of unfortunate events with Deidra's father, left Dee and her family with enough funds to start IVF treatments in April of 2010. So ten years and 6 months later, Deidra was able to carry and deliver TWO babies of her own, and she had Madison Elizabeth (Ellie) and Madelynne Mae (Maddie) December of 2010. This past June after another round of IVF, the family of 5 became a family of 6, with Zoey Paulette.

This condensed version of Cliff and Deidra's journey to becoming parents doesn't include the grief, tears, and broken hearts from years of infertility, the work it took to become Zack's legal parents, the incredulous amount of money it took to get her eggs to become fertile embryos, and the actual pain Deidra endured with daily injections and medications (check out the picture below). Not to mention, she had a c-section with the twins, and her petite little hips wouldn't allow her to progress with a vbac with Zoey. Thus, a second c-section was inevitable.  
This is a picture of Deidra's first shipment of medications and injections she had to take

I feel sheepish comparing my journey. I learned about natural family planning while I was amongst crunchy granola midwives in the Philippines learning about birth and all-things-natural. I made Josh buy the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility before I got back in the country. My intention was to read the book to prevent having babies without the pill. Too bad a month later, I hadn't even cracked open the book and took an at-home pregnancy test that tested positive. As I am not discrete about much in my life, I will keep the details only takes one time to get pregnant! 6 months after Shep was born, I decided to go with a safer contraceptive with a still hormone-free IUD. The odds were absolutely in my favor to NOT have a baby until I got the IUD removed and was ready for baby 2.0. A 99.4% odd to NOT get pregnant. As God laughed at my planning methods and baby fever waves that you can read about here, of course I get pregnant when I am being responsible and using "fool-proof" contraceptive methods.

I am SO incredibly thankful for Shepherd and now this baby bean. I have never regretted or even felt bitterness towards being pregnant, the first time or now, since both have been unplanned. But how unfair is it that I get pregnant TWICE without trying, and Deidra endures so much to get the beautiful 4 kids she has today?  I am learning that God's blessing doesn't always prove itself through perfect, happy endings that we hope for and sometimes expect. Rather, God's blessing in our life is the reality that He is walking beside us as we experience life. God's blessing often comes in the sudden or unexpected moments of life.  And God's blessing comes in the midst of trials, unexpected outcomes, and unmet expectations of life.  He walked beside our mothers and fathers for us to enter in to the world, and He is walking beside us as we welcome our little ones in to the world whether it is with ease or much burden. I see it the same as we leave the world. God isn't punishing people by letting them pass away, no matter their age or the way they passed. But He is there during, before, and after the end of life.

Life is so precious. I normally cannot stand clich├ęs, but it really is. Baby 2.0's life is already so precious, and I am thankful to welcome him or her to this world come May or June!

22 weeks 3 days

How far along? 22 weeks
Baby is the length of a: Papaya
Total weight gain: 14 lbs still
Waist Measurement: 36 1/4 inches..same as last week
Maternity clothes? I wear them at all times, and even then, I am sometimes uncomfortable. I will be honest here, bras are my nemesis right now. I loath them, and they come off as soon as I am in my house. 
Stretch marks? None so far.
Sleep: I sleep good and hard, and I only wake up about once a night to use the restroom. Being in Texas has been rough as Shep has stayed on Eastern time, which means he has been waking up at 5:45am. 
Best moment this week: Watching Shepherd interact with his 7 month old baby cousin, Zoey. It gives me an idea of how Shep will treat a baby, which was intentionally sitting on her, kissing her, biting her, slapping her, and licking her. What a journey I am in for!
Movement: Movement has been regular and in the same spot, about 4 inches directly below my belly button. 
Food cravings: Still grilled pbj's, but right during the Superbowl, I had to have a root-beer float. That float was divine, and, to make it better, I made it back from the store and made the float seconds before Katy Perry came on for the half time show. 
Miss Anything? Nothing... I am pretty happy being pregnant this week!
Gender: Nobody knowwwwss!
Symptoms: Ha... It wouldn't be a complete blog entry without an epic vomiting story, right? The day after my step-grandma, Freda, passed away our flight was to leave at 6:30am. My alarm went off at 4:10am, and I begrudgingly rolled around and scrolled through my Facebook feed to try and wake up. Finally at 4:15am, I stood up and immediately make a bee line for the toilet. I ended up throwing up my entire dinner, which was weird to me. You would think I would have digested it by then being 10 hours later.  Any who, 40 minutes after that, I vomited again anything else I possibly had in my stomach. There was no time to eat breakfast (but of course there was enough time to make a French press), so we headed to the airport without anything in our stomach. I was only able to drink about 1/4 of my cup of coffee before we made it to the airport. This was in large part because my throat hurt so bad from "getting sick" that morning. As we were waiting in line at the security check, I felt it all coming on again. I barely got Shep out of the baby carrier before I lunged for the nearest trash can about 12 feet away. From there, I knew the restroom was way out the way and around this big corner. I felt like a ball in a pin-ball machine as I ended up throwing up in every single trash can on the way to the restroom. Conveniently, the trash cans were located on opposite sides of the wide hallway spread evenly apart. By the time I made it to the toilet, I was pretty much finished as I only had a tiny bit of coffee and water in my stomach. Josh grabbed us some breakfast from Dunkin' Donuts, and I only ate the hash browns. I STILL threw up two different times on the plane. One of those times, I was in mid sentence with the lady sitting across the aisle from me, and I politely put up a finger, covered my mouth, and frantically search for the puke bag in the pocket in front of me. As daintily as it could be done (which it can't), I again threw my guts and hash browns up in the bag. The two different times I took my baggy to the flight attendant, she just kept repeating, "Bless your soul! Bless - your - souuuul!!" All I kept thinking was 'no, bless my stomach and my throat, for the love!' After that I did have a little nausea on my 2nd flight, but I was over it. I still don't know if this was purely a pregnancy symptom, but I am thankful the severity of the "morning sickness" hasn't repeated itself again....yet.
Belly Button in or out? I took a little poll amongst some of my friends, and my belly button is indeed an outie now.  
Wedding rings on or off? On
Mood?: Fine surprisingly. We have all been celebrating Freda's death as she is two-stepping with Jesus and having a big reunion with all of her brothers and sisters in heaven.