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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Three Months

My girl is three months old today!

Time has truly been flying these days. I can't believe how quickly Christmas is approaching, especially when I think back to this time last year and all that has happened since.

Last year, this day was CD1 (cycle day one) and it was the day that brought clear proof that our first IUI had not been successful. I wrote a post that day called Maybe Someday, and reading those words again brought back those emotions I felt when I wrote them a year ago. It was hard getting that news a few days before Christmas -- a holiday that we all know can be tough when you're without children of your own. The news had been difficult, but we had plans to try again with the new cycle. I remember that at least that part was encouraging. The end of my hopes for the previous cycle brought with it a fresh start and another chance at a pregnancy.

We'd been waiting three years. It had been that long since our last pregnancy. That was disappointing to me, but I welcomed the break from experiencing heartbreaking miscarriages. I wasn't sure how I might handle a seventh loss if that's what would happen, but I was finally putting my heart back on the line again. The IUI route was totally new to us, but it was a decision we'd put much thought and prayer into. By December 21, 2009, we had a clear plan for IUI #2. The only issue was that it would be tricky to do a timed cycle during the holiday season. With that in mind, though, we decided to go through with it and just do whatever we needed to do, which included a break in the middle of our time with family in Louisiana to drive back to Houston for a doctor visit and then all the way back to Louisiana.

It all seemed well worth it when we went to the doctor for the ultrasound and saw that I had a nice big 29mm follicle that was ready to go! I had the trigger shot to guarantee that I'd ovulate, and we would return in a couple of days for the insemination. My hopes came crashing down, however, when we found out a few hours later that the IUI was canceled because there would be no doctor in the office on the day after New Year's -- when we needed things to happen. I knew right then that our chance was gone. We'd had a plan and it was going beautifully, but I hadn't anticipated this. We returned home from our travels feeling lower than we'd felt in a long time. I remember telling my doctor over the phone that our chances weren't good at all. Because of the traveling, my husband and I hadn't been "together" in nearly a week and I was sure we'd missed our chance. He reassured me that we could try again next cycle.

As you already know, the cycle that began on December 21 last year, that 29mm follicle, that chance that I thought we'd surely lost, turned into my beautiful baby girl who turns three months old today. She's my reminder that God doesn't need my plans in order to make things happen. That day was the beginning of my "Maybe Someday," even though I wouldn't know it for about another month.

This Christmas finds me in such a different place when compared with last year... and the previous eight Christmases or so.

There is a new ornament on my tree.


There are three stockings on my fireplace.


And, finally, there's a miracle in my arms.


Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a year full of miracles in 2011!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ten Weeks

Ten weeks was an important goal in my pregnancy with Lily. While I had carried a baby until eleven weeks before, none had ever survived with that tiny, flickering heartbeat past nine weeks. I remember being so eager to make it past that point and get to ten weeks. Of course the next big milestone was to actually make it to the second trimester, which I had never done in six pregnancies.

Those were some truly scary times for me, as we waited in between ultrasounds to find out if our baby's heart was still beating. All I could do was hope and pray... and wait.

Today my girl is ten weeks old. It's amazing how slowly that time seemed to creep by during the pregnancy and how quickly it has passed since she was born. Ten very nervous and fearful weeks with her inside of my womb, and now ten wonderful weeks of looking at this sweet face.


I'm so overwhelmed, and so very, very thankful.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

This year it's easy for me to say that I'm thankful. I have an amazing baby girl who is healthy and happy and here to stay, and that's something that I wasn't sure could ever happen. That is certainly reason to give thanks to the Lord! My heart is full of joy for this holiday season.

For many years it was hard for me to say what I was thankful for. Don't get me wrong; it's not that I wasn't thankful or didn't appreciate my loving family and precious friends. I have a husband who loves and supports me no matter what, and I loved the life and the home that we'd made together. All of that was true, but at the same time my heart was hurting. I knew that, if asked at Thanksgiving what I was thankful for, I wouldn't be able to speak without breaking down. For a long time I allowed the wonderful things in my life to be overshadowed by my grief and heartache.

It was around the time that I began to blog and really open up about my feelings about recurrent pregnancy loss that my heart started to change. I felt like there might be some meaning in all of this and some way of reaching out by sharing my experience. I had no idea how large the community of IF bloggers was when I started, but finding it really helped to give me a sense of purpose through that trial. To know that there were others out there who understood was also a huge help for me. Before long I was once again able to feel thankfulness -- even though I was still in the midst of a painful struggle.

Soon I realized that I could be thankful not just in spite of what I'd been through, but because of it. Let me be clear about this, though. I'm NOT thankful for miscarriage. I wish I had never gone through that horror in the first place and I wish that no one else ever had to experience it either.

But I AM thankful for...

  • Learning to lean on my Heavenly Father, and knowing from experience that He will never leave my side, even when I'm full of fear, doubt, and anger.
  • Learning that with God, nothing is impossible.
  • Seeing firsthand that I was much stronger than I ever thought I could be.
  • Reassurance that I married the most caring and loving man who would stick by me through thick and thin.
  • Renewed faith in the love and support of family and friends who prayed for us so faithfully.
  • An entire online community of new friends who encouraged me along the way and helped me find some good in a bad situation.

I could really go on and on! All of this came out of some pretty dreadful years when I felt like I was struggling just to keep my head above water. Those are the reasons why I can look back on that time and be thankful for what came out of it. I can now be so grateful for where I am today, Thanksgiving 2010.

Thank you for contributing to that, for sharing in my joy now and for holding me up when I needed support then. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Girl

Today I just want to write about her. My little Lily.

When I was pregnant with this sweet baby and after I finally let it sink in that we might actually bring her home, I used to wonder about her personality. Sure, I often thought about what she might look like, but I was most curious about what would make her "her." What would she like or dislike? What would her unique personality traits be? Now, I know she's only two months old (nine weeks today, to be exact), but I love seeing that little personality come out! Today I want to tell you all about my girl.

Some of my favorite nicknames for her are: Sweet Pea, Lily-girl, Lily-poo (which her daddy has promised not to call her in front of her friends), Lily-pie, Pumpkin, Pumpkin pie, Peanut, and sometimes even Peanut Butter.

She is now 11 pounds and almost 23 inches long. Her hair is beginning to lighten a bit and she is getting that trademark baby bald spot on the back of her head. Her eyes are still a dark bluish-gray. Sometimes in the light I think that I detect some green, while other times I think I see some brown tones. I feel sure they will turn out either green like mine, or brown/green hazel like her daddy's.


Lily's temperament is pretty easy-going. She loves taking a bath and taking short walks outside, but those are her "serious" times. I know she really enjoys both activities, but those are not really the moments that make her smile. Instead, they are the times when we see her curious and contemplative side.


We know that her big smiles come when she is on her changing table or in her bouncy seat. It's pretty easy to get a smile out of her now. All we have to do is make eye contact and talk to her, and her sweet face lights up with a big smile. From the very first day she was born, Lily has enjoyed looking at people's faces and really studying them. People have always commented on how attentive she is. Now she smiles at every new person she meets. She especially loves to smile at her daddy. I'm not sure what it is about him that she finds so darn funny!


I guess you can't write too much about an infant without discussing sleeping and eating patterns. Here's how we spend the majority of our time:

Eating: My baby girl is a very good eater. She has a great appetite and has adjusted so well despite our nursing challenges in the early days. We've been exclusively breastfeeding for a month now and I'm so proud of her! I still pump twice a day if possible, right before I go to bed and right after her morning feeding. I'm happy to see a pretty good supply building up in my freezer. We have a routine going where her daddy feeds her a bottle of breast milk (usually about 4 ounces) before we put her down for the night. This has consistently earned us at least one good stretch of sleep for the first half of the night. She is much more fitful during the second half.

One of my favorite things about Lily is that she does the cutest things with her hands. When she is eating, she almost always has her fingers spread and straight out. It cracks me up! I love looking at her sweet hands.


My baby girl likes her pacifier. She doesn't want it all the time, but it does help during the day if she gets fussy and it helps her to fall asleep most of the time. She doesn't seem to need it during the night at this stage.

Sleeping: Lily will sleep for at least 4-5 hours before waking up to nurse usually just once per night. We have been pleasantly surprised a few times when she has skipped her middle of the night feeding and slept for 7 hours! When she does wake up during the night, she doesn't cry. She will grunt and whimper off and on until we recognize that she's ready to eat and not just making little noises in her sleep. Her daddy handles the night-time diaper changes, and most of the time lately I can hear her happily cooing at him in the middle of the night from all the way across the house! It's the sweetest thing.


Lily likes to nap a lot in the morning. She does her best napping when she is being held. This is how she would prefer to sleep all the time, although she will sometimes nap in her bouncy seat but only after I've rocked her to sleep first. She is getting old enough now that we want to start practicing letting her soothe herself. Just today I was able to put her down in her crib and she fell asleep on her own for a short nap. Although she loves playing in her crib, she has never slept in there, so I was pretty excited about that. I'm not used to her sleeping in a separate room, though, so I sat in the chair in her room and started this blog post while she napped so I could hear her breathing. I can't help but remain pretty obsessive about that, checking on her constantly when she's asleep.

And finally, Lily still likes to sleep swaddled. She occasionally gets her hands out through the little holes where the top meets the bottom of her swaddler, so we put mittens on her hands to keep them warm if it's a chilly night.


I noticed the other day that she kinda reminds me of something...


Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Transitioning

It's so hard to believe that baby Lily will be two months old in just a few days. On the other hand, it feels like she has been part of my life forever.

The transition has been an interesting one. Sure, caring for a new baby is pretty different from how I used to spend my days. It's hard to put into words what it felt like to go from losing multiple pregnancies to finally bringing home a baby. I guess part of that is the fact that nothing can bring back what was lost. With that being said, though, there has also been a lot of healing that has taken place in my heart over the past two months. I am so grateful for that, and I'm reminded of it every time I see her precious face!

For more than eight years I was a stay-at-home wife. Yeah, try explaining that to people when you first meet! It always opened the door to a barrage of questions about why we didn't have children and why I didn't have a job. It was difficult to explain over and over again that I had stopped working when we moved to a new state and started trying to have a baby. And then miscarriage entered my life, and before I knew it nearly a decade had passed. We had no idea how long that stage of our life was going to last. I certainly never could have predicted all that unfolded during those years.

Now I've become what I'd always wanted to be. I'm a stay-at-home mom. Bringing home baby Lily fulfilled that lifelong desire of my heart. She is my dream come true!

But dreams are funny things, you know. Sometimes mine manage to bring up some of those old fears. A few nights ago I had a dream that Lily wasn't really mine and my time with her was up. I had to return her to her real family. I seriously woke up with an empty feeling in my stomach and I gave her lots of extra snuggles that day.

Even though caring for a new baby is a full-time job and is at times very challenging, I love this place where I finally get to be. These two months have been full of some very happy times and some difficult ones too, but we're getting settled more and more each day. I'm finally feeling comfortable in my ability to read her baby cries and meet her needs every day. And although it was a bumpy road to get here, our nursing routine has finally worked out as well. Things began to improve after the second week and especially after the sixth week, and I'm so happy about that! I've heard that in terms of breastfeeding the three-month mark is another milestone, so I'm looking forward to making it that far. Lily Rae continues to amaze me. I know I'm biased, but even on her fussy days I remind myself that she truly is such a good, adaptable baby.

Our new favorite thing is her smile. This month she has really started responding to us when we talk to her. It is the most precious thing to see her little mouth transform into a big, gummy smile! Today I even caught her smiling at the ceiling fan a couple of times. :)

Here's a recent pic of her sweet smile. You can also see her little "angel kiss" between her eyes -- in the same spot where I had one as a baby. (Thanks to my blog friend Jo for the cute outfit!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

At Last



At last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Oh, yeah and you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
At last

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Month

So far I've found it pretty hard to find time to keep up with updates to the blog since Lily's arrival. Hopefully things will continue to settle down so I can get back to it. I miss blogging, and mostly I miss keeping in touch with you guys! I'm eager to get caught up with what's going on in your lives.

We are doing really well. I'm so glad to tell you that I've been feeling so much better. Thanks for your encouraging words and prayers for my recovery! Just feeling close to normal again has made such a huge difference. I'm thrilled that now I have much more time and energy to spend loving on this sweet baby girl.


Lily is five weeks old now and really growing and changing. She is sweet as can be! Over the past few days we've been enjoying watching her discover fun things during her awake time. Just this weekend she started spending about 20 minutes at a time on her play mat, punching and kicking the toys that hang from the bars.


She is much more active during the day lately and it's been fun to see. It has also brought about some slightly longer stretches of sleep at night, which is wonderful!

Lily's favorite spot in the entire house is definitely her changing table. We really aren't sure why she loves it so much, but she is always happy as a lark when she is there. She loves having her diaper changed, so I guess that's part of it!


She also really likes having a bath, so I'm thinking she must just like to be clean. :)

Today I was thinking about how I always felt that living with recurrent miscarriage was like living in a nightmare. I hoped that one day I would just wake up from it and it wouldn't have been real. Now I find myself fearing that maybe the past ten months have all been an amazing dream. I'm afraid I might wake up and it will be over. Sometimes I look at little Lily Rae and I can't believe that this entire year actually happened and that she is finally here with us.


She certainly is our wish and dream come true!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Two Weeks and Two Days

Hello dear friends!

Baby Lily is here and we are all at home and doing well. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments about her birth day. Those will be really fun to share with her one day!

So much has happened over the past two weeks and two days -- since Lily Rae's arrival. I will try to give you the short version rather than something that might take hours to read. First let me say that the baby is absolutely great. She is... amazing, wonderful, perfect! I truly am tempted to spend my days just staring at her. She has the deepest eyes, cutest button nose, perfect heart-shaped lips, and the longest little fingers I've ever seen on a baby. :)

We came home from the hospital on Friday night (September 24) after having to wait a few extra hours for her bilirubin results to come in. Lily had a little bit of jaundice in the hospital, but they let us go ahead and go home as long as we took her in to the clinic over the weekend to have it re-checked. The bilirubin got up to 16 and then started to decrease by Sunday, much to our relief. In addition, Lily's birth weight was 8 pounds 10 ounces, but it was down to 7 pounds 9 ounces when we were discharged. She has continued to gain weight since then, though, and this week she was back up to her exact birth weight at her two-week check up. Yay Lily!

I can't tell you how relieved I am that she has done so well, especially since the last two weeks have been quite difficult for me as far as recovery goes. I'm not really sure why, but things seemed to go haywire as soon as I left the hospital. During the first weekend at home I started having shortness of breath and chest pain, which made it almost impossible for me to get any rest. I would wake up gasping for air and terrified that I was going to stop breathing. My blood pressure shot up (which is very uncommon for me and never happened during my pregnancy) and my ankles and feet began to swell quite a bit. With all of that going on plus the recovery from my c-section, I felt absolutely horrible. There is no way I could have made it through that weekend if I hadn't had my mom and sister here to help with the baby.

After making a few calls to the doctor on call over the weekend and trying to avoid the ER, I went to see my OB first thing Monday morning. She immediately sent me over to the ER to make sure I didn't have a pulmonary embolism. I was pretty freaked out at that point, but the CT scan of my chest turned out clear. The ER doc has had me following up with a cardiologist as well, and so far my echocardiogram and blood tests have all looked good. Over the past couple of days my swelling and blood pressure have also decreased. It's frustrating to not know why everything went crazy, but I'm just beyond relieved that I actually am starting to feel normal again. For a while there I felt like it would never happen. Every day is getting better now and I'm able to enjoy this precious baby girl more and more.

My mom is still here, thankfully! She has helped me out so much for the past few weeks. I truly don't know how I would have been able to make it through the days and especially the nights without her help. She is an awesome Granny! I know Lily will miss her as much as I will when she goes back home this weekend.

Breastfeeding has been a struggle all its own for the past few weeks. Again, Lily Rae is fantastic. She is such a good baby and I've been amazed at how patient and adaptable she has been through all of my trials and errors. We started out pretty well with nursing in the hospital, but we had to supplement with formula for a few days after we came home to get her over the jaundice. Besides that, I had to dump my breast milk for 48 hours after having the iodine for the CT scan. We went through a very rough patch afterwards where I had to continue pumping and giving her the milk in a bottle while my breasts were on the mend. I'm happy to say that for the past three days we have gotten back into a good nursing routine! I'm so proud of this baby girl for sticking with it and not giving up while I struggled. Nursing continues to be a challenge but I am persevering.

I have to admit that, all things considered, this recovery time has been one of the toughest things I've ever been through. Of course it has a huge reward and it's worth every tear and every small setback. Simply looking at her sweet face and remembering all it took to get to this point are all I need to do to find the motivation to press on. I know it will be at least a few more weeks before I truly feel better. I really can't help but wonder what in the world people were talking about when they told me that c-sections were "no big deal"!

We are hanging in there and making progress every day, and that's a huge improvement as far as I'm concerned! Thanks for thinking of us and for praying for Lily's safe arrival. I still can't quite believe that this beautiful girl is here in our home and is ours to keep. Thank you, Lord!

Soon I will post some of our favorite pictures of our little bundle of joy from her first two weeks of life. She looks so different from those very first images in the operating room! Here is one of my favorites until then...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

She's Here!


Hey everybody, it's Chuck. Just wanted to let you know that Lily Rae is here! Mom and baby are doing well.

Lily Rae
Born September 21, 2010 at 12:27 PM
8 lbs 10.5 oz (3.9 kg)
19.5 inches (49.53 cm)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Different Path?

I love the way that pictures have a way of telling stories. They capture a moment in time and later are there to remind you of people and places and events.

Here are two pictures of my husband and me, taken two and a half years apart. When we had the more recent one taken, I couldn't help but remember the older one and where we were then. There are a lot of similarities between the two images. They were taken by the same person at the very same park. Of course, they both feature the same two people, walking hand-in-hand down a sidewalk.




But they are also very different. The people are the same, but the view is different. You can't really tell this from the pictures, but they're walking on a different path of the very same sidewalk. Perhaps the most obvious change, though, is the season.

It is winter in the first one. While the picture itself doesn't make me feel sad at all, the landscape is a bit dreary. The trees and grass don't look very vibrant. As the subjects, my husband and I seem far away, like we're walking down a quite a long path. There is as much sidewalk in front of us as there is behind us. Besides that, there's a curve and a tree up ahead and you can't quite see beyond that. You can't see our faces or expressions, but it's clear that we are looking at each other as we're walking along together.

This picture was taken as part of a photo shoot for our Christmas cards that year. It was December of 2007 and it was a fairly happy time for us, yet we were certainly still in the midst of a long trial. We were getting ready to take a trip to Florida and then return home and get ready for the holidays. It had been eleven months since my last miscarriage (number six), and the following month I would be having surgery with my new RE to look for scar tissue and any other new problems. It was the only thing we knew to do next but at least we had a plan. We had no idea what might be up ahead. We had covered a lot of ground on our infertility journey but we were still walking, still moving forward. Together.

The second picture is quite different. The first thing I notice are the colors. Everything is bright and green and alive. It was summertime, and take my word for it, it was hot outside. You can see our expressions in this picture and can tell that we are happy. We are still walking together even though the scenery and the seasons aren't the same. The path even looks much shorter...

Of course, that's a matter of perspective. As I mentioned before, it's the same park and the same sidewalk, just a different view and a different angle. That's the point I'm trying to make here. This pregnancy, this place where we are now, is not an entirely new path; it's just a different part of the same road we've been walking for many years. It is the sum of everything we went through to get here. Oh, I do wish sometimes that we could have been simply placed right here! If we could have just by-passed all the years of hurt and loss and taken a much easier way, surely it would have been so much better. But that's not the path we were meant to take, I guess. And frankly, if it had been, I know it would look and feel entirely different and not nearly as meaningful to us as it does now.

I want to say thank you. I'm so grateful for those of you who haven't written me off as just another pregnant woman. Thank you for considering our path -- the whole thing, every step -- to getting this far and for continuing to offer your support, prayers, and friendship. I realize that you could stumble upon this blog and see the pregnancy ticker at the top and decide that you're not interested in sticking around. But many of you do, and many of you send me messages and tell me that my story gives you hope. Thank you for encouraging me to keep writing about it, as I've learned that having a successful pregnancy doesn't erase everything else I've experienced. While it certainly brings joy and some sense of victory and healing, it doesn't entirely take away the pain of miscarriage. That will always be part of my story now. Just like any time you lose a loved one, you don't want to erase their existence! You keep their memory alive and are thankful that you had the time with them that you did, even though their absence leaves an ache. It will always be there when I look back, and really, that's okay. My babies are part of me and always will be in my heart. Fortunately there are and will be good memories as we continue on this path, especially as we finally bring our baby home.

Next week at this time, she'll be here. Finally, one of the tiny seeds of hope that was planted along this path will get to bloom.


I can't wait to share it with you. Thank you for your constant prayers for us and for baby Lily!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Counting Down

At Thursday's appointment we had the ultrasound first before seeing the doctor. I was surprised that on the short drive over, I felt some of those same nerves that I always associate with ultrasound visits. Even at this stage the familiar worries return. I think I'll always be that way when it comes to ultrasounds. I guess old habits do die hard.

Anyway, baby Lily looked so great! The tech took her time doing all of the necessary measurements, and we got good looks at her brain, heart, and kidneys. The amniotic fluid level was good, as well as the blood flow around the cord. It was interesting to see that she is in the position that I suspected - head down, body along the left side of my belly, and feet tucked just below my ribs on my right side. We were not expecting to leave with a few new snapshots of our girl, but we did get another profile shot (2D) and a pretty good pic of her face in 3D! I've added the two new images to the ultrasound photo link in the sidebar if you'd like to check them out. Maybe this sounds strange, but I still don't have a clear picture in my head of what she actually looks like. As many peeks as we've had, I guess nothing will compare to actually seeing her face to face.

So, you probably remember that the point of this ultrasound was to try to determine the baby's size. Based on the measurements, they think she weighs 7 pounds, 13 ounces! That was Thursday, so at that time she still had 12 days of growing to do before her scheduled delivery day. We are pretty certain that she'll be more than 8 pounds at birth. It was a huge relief simply to see that she is continuing to do well. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but it still boggles my mind that we could be this far along with a healthy pregnancy. I think after going through multiple losses you begin to train yourself to think that it could never happen inside your womb, but I believe that every day of her existence has been nothing short of a miracle. As of today we are 38 weeks pregnant and 14 days away from the official due date. Incredible!

Next we saw Dr. R for the weekly visit. She went over all of the ultrasound images, measurements, and charts, and said the baby is looking really good. She also determined that she did not think it was necessary to move the delivery to an earlier date. We are still shooting for September 21! The baby's chest circumference was in the 90th percentile and her other measurements were in the 80th. The doctor certainly acknowledged that Lily has grown fairly quickly in the last few weeks, but was confident that waiting until 39 weeks will be best for her. Lily could decide otherwise! After the exam, though, she said things are still firm and closed and the baby has not dropped, so nothing major has started happening. I do have contractions every day and sometimes quite a few in the evenings, but they have not been regular enough to cause us to make any phone calls to nurses or family members just yet!

We are using this weekend to relax at home and get caught up on laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. After this one, we have only one more weekend until her arrival! We are in awe every day and it doesn't take much for us to get teary-eyed when we think of all of it: the long, bumpy road behind us, our babies in heaven, God's faithfulness through hard times, and our overwhelming joy as we prepare to meet our sweet baby girl in just ten short days!

This is a little chalkboard sign that my dear husband made a few weeks ago for us to use as a countdown calendar. He drew the birdie on it and he updates it for me every morning! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Updates and Q&A

This week's OB visit was a bit more eventful than usual. Let me start by saying that everything is fine with baby and me! Things are still moving along very well. It was my 36-week visit, and week 37 is just around the corner.

I also wanted to take a minute to address a few questions that you've asked in the comments on the last couple of posts. I'll cover those in just a minute, but first here's how the appointment went:

I knew going into the visit that it was the week for my group B strep test and that the doctor would also begin checking my cervix this week. First, the nurse did the routine checks of my urine (still clear and free of protein), blood pressure (still nice and low at 122/60), and weight (+2 lbs). Dr R came in and we chatted about how close we are to the big event. I told her I was doing fine besides the lack of sleep and general third-trimester aches and pains!

Next, she measured my belly. Now, every other time that I've been to the OB, this measurement has been "right on target" with where it should be. This time, though, she commented about how the baby's size had really increased. This was not a surprise to me; I've noticed that in the last two weeks it suddenly looks like I'm (unsuccessfully) trying to hide a watermelon under my shirt. The doctor mentioned that we will have an ultrasound at our visit next week so we can check her size. We are excited about getting a peek at our girl again! That hasn't happened since week 22, so it will be really great to see her again at this stage.

During the exam the doctor found that my cervix is still pretty firm and is still closed, and the baby seems to be in a head-down position. After we talked about the apparent spike in her size, she asked me if the baby had been active that day. I explained that she had moved around for most of the night before, but on the day of the visit she had so far been pretty calm. I'd felt her move a little bit that morning but not too much since then (my appointment was late in the afternoon). She said we'd do a quick non-stress test just to be sure that everything was fine.

Surprisingly, I really wasn't terrified; I was just eager for some reassurance. Pretty soon I actually enjoyed being hooked up to the monitor and listening to Lily's heartbeat. (We do still have the doppler at home but we've never used it for that chunk of time before!) The great thing was that it didn't take very long for me to identify some activity from the baby about 6 different times. We could hear her heart rate increasing when this would happen, which is normal. It was also interesting to see the monitor tracking my contractions. I had at least half a dozen of them while I was hooked up, but they were not incredibly strong and not at all regular. The doctor said there were probably so many because she had just stirred things up by checking my cervix during the exam.

(As a side note: One of the nurses who was checking in on us while I was on the monitor was looking at my info, I guess to see if this was our first baby. She declared out loud that yes, this was our first "real baby." Because of my concern for Lily at the time, I resisted the urge to explain to her that ALL of the babies I've carried are REAL. They certainly weren't fake or imaginary!!!)

So, all of that is just to say that Lily is doing fine! Our "little" girl may not be very little anymore, but we will check on that when I go back Thursday of next week. The doctor hinted that there certainly is a possibility, though, that we may end up moving the C-section to an earlier date. She may arrive a bit sooner than we expected, folks!

Now for the Q&A part:
Jennie is new to my blog and recently asked if we conceived Lily on our own. I haven't talked about this in a while and thought now might be a good time to revisit it and give a brief explanation. I feel like it's misleading to answer either a simple yes or no to this question! What happened was that we did our first-ever timed cycle with fertility drugs in early December of last year. All six of our previous pregnancies were achieved on our own. Although we were under the care of doctors for the last four, we had not needed or used any methods of ART. Getting pregnant had not been our problem up until the three years after our last miscarriage in 2007. My cycles had become irregular and I had started missing periods altogether, so we decided on the new approach to guarantee ovulation. So in late November of 2009 I took a round of Clomid, had the follicle ultrasound and trigger shot, and we had our first IUI in December, which resulted in a negative.

We decided to try again with the very next cycle, except my doctor wanted to try Femara this time instead of Clomid. I started taking it the last week of December and we returned home from our holiday travels for the follicle scan. We had a great looking 29 mm follicle that seemed to be our best chance, so we had the Ovidrel (trigger shot) and were planning to return for our second IUI on January 2. Soon after that, we learned that there would be no doctor available on that day due to the holiday schedule, and our IUI was canceled. We were crushed! We felt like we had the perfect set-up and it was now going to be wasted just because it was the day after New Year's. To top it off, we were spending the week away from home and didn't have a whole lot of confidence in our opportunities to try on our own for a pregnancy. I remember how devastated and angry I felt about the whole thing, but a few weeks later I was reminded that the Lord doesn't need our planning or timing to be right for Him to take action! We discovered on January 20 that we had indeed gotten pregnant "on our own."

I hesitate to say it was completely on our own because we were doing a timed cycle with the help of Femara and Ovidrel, but Lily was technically conceived the old-fashioned way. Thanks for the question, Jennie, and thank you for reading the blog and offering your support. I'm sorry to hear of your own struggle with infertility and will be praying that you will find answers soon.

The second question was asked by both Birdie and Kathryn on my last post. They wondered why we are having Lily via a scheduled C-section. The reason we made this decision along with our doctor a few months back is because of the surgery I had on my uterus back in 2005 to remove a septum. Because the surgery was performed five years ago by a different doctor (and not even our current specialist), the OB had some concerns about the possibility of a rupture of the uterus if I went through regular labor. It's not that she was convinced that it would happen simply because I'd had a septum removed; it's more because there is really no way for her to know how thin the area might be or if the strength of my uterus was in any way compromised because of that surgery. This isn't something they can go back and look at via ultrasound, so we just decided that the safest way to go for both Lily and me was to do a scheduled C-section. After talking it over with our doctor on a few occasions, my husband and I were both completely at peace with and confident about this decision. We totally trust that this OB has our best interests in mind and wouldn't suggest major surgery unless she found it to be necessary or the safest plan for our specific situation.

So, as it stands now, we are scheduled for a C-section at noon on Tuesday, September 21. I may have new information next week after our next appointment and ultrasound to check the baby's size. If I do go into labor before our scheduled time, we will still have a C-section.

Thanks for the questions, guys! I wanted to address them in a post since I'm never sure if people will get my responses in the comments. I appreciate that you continue to follow my story on this blog. Thanks so much for your continued support and prayers as we get ready to bring this baby home in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September

There are countless difficult things about going through recurrent pregnancy loss. One of them, and one that I always struggled with the most, was simply not knowing.

I can't count how many sleepless nights I spent wrestling with that very thing. How many more times will I get a positive pregnancy test and yet not bring home a baby? How many more times will we have to helplessly turn those little lives over to the Lord and let them go when we aren't ready? Will we ever be able to figure out why my body can't grow a baby, and if so, will it be something we can overcome or will we finally hit that brick wall (whether emotionally or medically) that means The End?

I used to beg the Lord to just show me a glimpse; to just let me know if it would happen one day. Please, Lord, just give me a picture of the future so I will know and be able to deal with it! If we were going to be parents someday, I wanted to know so I could keep on going and working toward that day. If we weren't, I wanted to be able to seek healing and move ahead with that knowledge. But He never did see fit to reveal that to me, of course. That was something I had to accept. I had to learn to find peace and move forward without knowing. And that is so hard sometimes -- the Not Knowing.

Another thing that is so very difficult is the waiting. This experience is chock full of hours, days, weeks, months, and years of waiting. If I didn't learn anything else at all, I certainly had to learn to wait. I waited for appointments, for test results, for proof that my babies were still alive, for my body to heal after a miscarriage, for my heart to begin to heal as I grieved, for the right time to try again after a loss... and I could go on and on. Lots and lots and lots of waiting.

And now here we are. September 2010.

September is here and I'm nine months pregnant. This is the month we've been waiting for since January. And we didn't know it, but it's the month we've been waiting for since we boarded this roller coaster in 2001. We had no way of knowing it then, but it's the month we've hoped and prayed for since our first positive pregnancy test in May of 2002.

May of 2002 to September of 2010. That has been the full gestational period of this dream of ours. Finally the Not Knowing and the Waiting will be wrapped up in just three more weeks. I have no idea if it marks the end of our journey with infertility and miscarriage. There's still some uncertainty about the future of our fertility, of course. I still don't know what the future holds, but for now I'm trying not to look beyond 20 days from now when our baby girl will be here.

Knowing the date is surreal. My due date is September 25, but we will see her on or before September 21. That's the scheduled date of the C-section: noon on September 21, unless she surprises us by coming sooner. We are counting down the days and there are only 20 left at the most! I have a visit with the OB tomorrow and I will see her only two more times before the big day. We are in the home stretch! I wake up every day knowing that Lily could come at any time now.

As we enter the final few weeks I find myself becoming more and more emotional. For the last couple of days it doesn't take much for me to have to wipe away tears. I may very well cry for the next 20 days and for a few months after that! My husband and I both feel overwhelmed and overcome with these days that we are living in now and the event that is finally on the horizon. I hope he won't mind me mentioning it, but he told me last weekend after we toured the hospital where Lily will be born that he had been fighting back tears. I had been so focused on the tour and asking my questions that I hadn't even noticed. We are both so grateful and so ready to meet this little one face to face. I think we got so accustomed to handling the grief and loss that now we are trying to figure out how to equip ourselves to deal with happiness, as crazy as that sounds!

Even as I write this now I realize how each day is full of happy news and sad news, of so many ups and downs in this life that we all face. Just today I cried tears of joy as I read blogs and saw the wonderful news of positive pregnancy tests and good ultrasound visits. A few hours later I heard that one of my most precious real-life friends had a miscarriage over the weekend, and I cried tears of sorrow for her and for her baby. Please, please keep this dear friend of mine in your prayers during this time.

And please know that even as we get ready to welcome our miracle girl, we are praying for those of you who may still be struggling with those familiar feelings of waiting and not knowing.


"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." Psalm 126:5-6

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pictures

This is one of those posts that I wasn't sure would ever be.


I can remember back to the early days of this pregnancy, to the first trimester when we were so worried that this baby wouldn't make it. I remember how it took us a while to believe that this could be the one that survived and the one that we might bring home. I remember all of the kindness and the prayers as we learned to practice taking this pregnancy one day at a time and celebrating every single small victory. The third trimester seemed a lifetime away and I struggled to imagine what it would be like, look like, or feel like to be that close to welcoming a living, healthy baby.

A couple of weeks ago (at 34 weeks) we had a friend take some maternity pictures for us. These pictures capture some of those feelings for me. I hope they communicate at least a small portion of our joy and wonder over this little life. I hope you know that we haven't taken any moment or milestone for granted. We haven't forgotten the long and rocky path that brought us here and made us so very grateful to have arrived at this point.


For the photo shoot I wore a necklace that was given to me by a special blog friend. It is a heart-shaped locket with a clear window in the middle that displays three items: tiny blue baby feet, tiny pink baby feet, and a tiny pink heart that has the word "hope" on it. The sweet friend (Abby) who gave it to me has a set of precious twin boys in heaven. I wanted to wear it that day for her, for her boys, for my six little ones, and for all of you who have experienced loss and those who are still waiting with hope. When I look back on these pictures, I'll think of all of you.

Indeed, even our photographer friend (Crystal) who took these pictures for us has had her own infertility journey, so it also meant something to us that she would be the one to take them. She now has a beautiful little girl of her own, who I know is the apple of her eye!

This post includes just a few of my favorites from the day, but I know we will cherish every single one that was taken.
Thanks for walking along with us!







Just a couple of side notes:
If you'd like to see a lot more of our favorites from the photo shoot, you can follow this link: Maternity Pics. (FYI, the album does include a few real "belly" photos. Just wanted you to know before you click.)

And one last thing: I just noticed that my previous post was post number 200! :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Showers of Blessing

Since I last wrote a blog post we had our fourth and final baby shower, had some maternity pictures taken, and I'm now quickly approaching 35 weeks. Although the proof is all around us, I still find it completely amazing that I will soon be nine months pregnant.

Our baby girl has been growing quite a bit over these last couple of weeks. I've noticed a huge change in the size of my belly even though I gained only one pound in the two weeks between my last OB visits. At yesterday's appointment, the doctor said the baby is a good size and her heartbeat is still sounding great. My blood pressure remains in the normal range and I couldn't be more grateful that this pregnancy has gone so smoothly. I think even when I would let myself imagine what it would be like to finally carry a baby for this long, I never dreamed it would be possible for me to experience a largely stress-free (at least for the last two trimesters) pregnancy after all we'd been through up to this point. Thank you, Lord!

My next appointment will be in two weeks and from there I'll begin seeing the doctor every week. Believe it or not, that means only THREE more OB visits until baby time! Unbelievable.

I will share some of our favorites from the maternity pics in the next post, but today I have a few from the last baby shower. This one was our local shower with mostly church friends, a few family members, and a few Louisiana friends who now also live in Texas. My precious friend Meagan did a fantastic job putting all of it together! It was beautiful and it was another very special day of celebration for our little Lily girl that will be in my heart forever.
Here are some photos from the day, August 7. (I was 33 weeks.)

Sweet, sweet little birdie cake!

Food and decorations. (We got to keep all of the adorable outfits that were hanging all around the room!)

Me with shower hostess and wonderful friend, Meagan.

Chuck and me :)

With my dear friends/family from home. That's me in the middle and my sister next to me with the dark hair. The two friends on either end are two of my oldest and dearest friends all the way since grade school. The lovely lady in the multi-colored blouse is a teacher/friend from my high school. It was so sweet to have them all there!

Each and every baby shower we've had the honor of having has been so precious to me. I can hardly find the words to say how much they have all meant to us and were more than we could have hoped for. Thank you to our friends and family for celebrating this miracle with us and praying us through to this point. We love you!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Misconceptions

Some days it frustrates me to no end that the general population is still quite uneducated and uninformed about infertility and miscarriage. Now that most people I know have heard about my pregnancy and now that it's far more obvious when I go out in public, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get.

Most of the time a stranger will simply ask when I'm due or whether it's a boy or a girl. No problem; those questions are easy enough to just give a simple reply and move on. And it's not that I mind sharing my story anymore, but I am not going to launch into it during a passing encounter with just anybody. On occasion, though, the time seems right or the question is one where it seems appropriate to go into a more detailed response.

Just this week I had to have some lab work done to check my thyroid, which I've done once a trimester. Unfortunately my doctor's office can't draw it so I have to have the blood work done at a separate lab nearby. There, in one of the private rooms, the lady asked me about my pregnancy. I answered that yes, I am pregnant (surprised that she wasn't sure at 8 months, but I understand people don't want to guess at these things), and she asked if I was excited about the baby coming. Oh yes, I said. We've been waiting a very long time for this. She inquired further about my history and I told her about the miscarriages and the struggles. So far, the conversation had gone as I expected. But then came the part that I always dread: "Well, I guess you finally quit 'trying' and your body figured out what to do. You know, a lot of women adopt a baby and then get pregnant."

I guess I'm not offended by these statements, but it still just frustrates me that this is where we end up. I don't know why it has to be about having a magic solution that fixed the problem. No, in fact we hadn't "given up" or "quit trying" and we were not on the verge of adopting a baby. People just don't seem satisfied with the fact that I can't pinpoint exactly what worked for us or fixed my messed up reproductive system. And really I guess it's just a minor annoyance; I just wish that more people understood. It's interesting how these are almost the very same things that used to bug me when I was trying to get pregnant. It's just another form of "just relax" and "why don't you adopt?"

Other times when I share my story, I will have someone say that everything we went through was all worth it to get to this point. I have mixed feelings about that. Was it worth all the years we spent waiting and wondering, seeing doctors and having surgeries, and spending money? I'd say a resounding YES. Not that all of that was easy by any means. And I know that many endure so much more of that than I ever did, and it absolutely can reach a point where it becomes too much to handle. I've certainly learned that not all paths of IF treatment are the same. For me, though, in my own personal experience and because our fertility treatment phase wasn't really very invasive or complex in the long run, what I went through was totally worth it to achieve a successful pregnancy.

The part that I have a problem with, however, is the part of my story where our babies died. I'll just never be comfortable with saying that was "worth it." Don't get me wrong -- I would give up life and limb for this baby I'm carrying. She is worth every tear that I've cried and every hope and dream that I thought had died. And I would walk this same road again if I could know that she was waiting for me at the finish line. I'm just not okay with the terminology that losing six babies could ever feel worth it. Those lives were incredibly precious to me as well. As hard as the waiting part was, the beauty is that there came a point where that part was over and done. Or, I guess more accurately, that point will come next month when this baby is born. I know that she will definitely have been worth the wait! It's not that I'll never have to wait for anything again, but finally that 9-year struggle with never knowing if or when or how will be over in an instant. While there has been healing in my heart from losing my babies, though, I don't think that part will ever really be gone. I don't doubt in any way that the Lord can continue to heal that hurt for me. I pray that He does! But my heart will never forget those babies that I carried and wished for and prayed for.

I hate the misconception that seems to be out there (outside of the IF community, of course) that miscarriage is not a big deal. Anyone who has experienced it or had someone close to them experience it knows otherwise. Anyone who has wished and prayed for a baby and then hoped with everything inside of them that their baby would survive knows otherwise. Even after I had been through it multiple times, I still had people in my life who were confused about why I was so upset. It still boggles my mind that sometimes even the most passionate pro-lifers can be so casual about the loss of a baby. People told me that it was so common. It happens to a lot of people. I needed to forget it and move on with my life. I was still young. I could always have another baby. But I knew in my mind and in my heart that there was no guarantee of that. The odds were definitely stacking up against me. Besides that, the events of the past several years had taken their toll on my body and I sure didn't feel very young anymore. I needed time to grieve, while people outside of my immediate circle didn't seem to understand.

On a related note, I got an e-mail the other day from an acquaintance of mine who had heard we were expecting a baby. I don't know this person very well at all, and it was a very simple, brief message that I'm sure meant well. It was only about three sentences long, including a quick hello, followed by "I heard you were pregnant and I'm excited for you," and then the part that got under my skin: "Things always have a way of working themselves out." I still haven't responded to the message because I don't know what to say. I suppose that a simple thank-you will have to do. I guess it's just a matter of opinion, but I don't personally believe that things always work out the way we want them to. If things really did "work themselves out," wouldn't my body have gotten on board a long time ago and before I lost so many unborn babies? I frankly don't consider what I've lived through for the past decade things working themselves out.

Who would think so? Who would have wished for this? Oh, I wished for a healthy pregnancy. I wished for that when I was a young, innocent bride of 21. I wished for it the first time I got that positive test at the age of 24. Of course I kept wishing for it during our years of loss, but I didn't just sit around the house wishing! It took a great deal of courage and facing our fears to keep going. We had to find the strength to pick ourselves up and try again. We had to seek out the right medical help. We had to grow up very quickly and realize that this wasn't going to be easy. We had to get through some hard times in our marriage, teeter on the edge of depression, and battle anxiety and worry and grief. If I were going to covet or be jealous of something, it would be the easy road! I would have wished for that first baby to have lived, followed by subsequent healthy pregnancies back when we were young and naive! I wouldn't have wished for or been envious of this road we've had to walk.
(Maybe you think I'm being too hard on the sender of that e-mail, but take my word for it. If you knew this person you'd know that it was his way of telling me that I did all that worrying and wondering for nothing. It's pretty frustrating to be made to feel like you were silly for ever feeling that way.)

As the saying goes, though, hindsight is 20/20. I have reached a point where I can be thankful for the difficult times. I can appreciate how that experience grew and changed us even though (and because) it was so hard. I'm simply saying that it would have been my natural tendency, of course, to hope for the easier and less painful way. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I look back I don' think, "Wow, things really worked themselves out." No. Instead I think, "Thank the Lord that He brought us through." I know in my heart that there were times when I didn't think I would make it. That's when the lesson finally came through that His strength is perfect when mine is gone. I will always give God the glory for where we are now.

Remember those lessons in mercy that I wrote about last time? They are still being learned! I have to remind myself often to respond to people and comments with love and with mercy. And although most of the time, thankfully, it's not an issue, I'm learning to be prepared.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thankfulness and Mercy

I sure do find myself saying "thank you" a lot lately. I love that. Every day it seems there is someone to thank for something, whether it is a sweet gift for Lily, an encouraging word, or a reminder that someone is praying for us.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I always have the desire to thank YOU as well, those of you who still read these words that I write and who have shared in our joy as we prepare for this baby. I want you to know that I don't take this blogging community lightly. Once I've spent weeks, months, and years reading your blogs and praying my heart out for you in your specific situations and struggles, I no longer just think of you as acquaintances. Sure, it's different; there are some of you whose faces I've never even seen in pictures and whose real names I don't know. But I still feel a connection and a shared bond with many of you.

More than a year ago I started keeping a list. It's just a simple Word document on my computer that I began when the list of blogs that I follow kept growing. I've admitted to you before that I like lists. Okay, not only do I like them, but I'm a bit obsessed with them. They help me keep things in order, which is always a good thing! This list of names and blog titles served to help me remember who went with what blog and what the specific situation was. It also became a way of keeping up with my prayer requests for you. I was able to easily look it over and see who might be struggling with a loss, who was heartbroken over infertility, who was celebrating a pregnancy, who was waiting to adopt, and so on.

That list has grown to about 80 individual names and situations. I keep them updated with new information, or when a baby that I've been praying for is born or adopted, listing the baby's name (if given) and birth date in orange. I don't know why I picked orange, but that's what it is. Having the list brings me a lot of joy, partly because there is a lot more orange on it than there used to be! Each one is an answered prayer. Unfortunately, I know that not everyone's story will end with bringing home a baby. The purpose of the list is not to ultimately put down a baby's name by each one. Instead, it reminds me how many friends I've met along the way and how many different people's lives have in some way been connected with mine as we've shared our stories. I'm thankful for this list and each name that it represents. I'm thankful for the support and prayers we've received over the past couple of years from people who started out as strangers, as well as from my sweet real-life friends who follow along with my blog (I pray for you guys, too, of course!).

So, that's the long way of telling you how much I appreciate you for reading and responding to this little blog. It is sweet to be able to share some good experiences with you lately, after enduring what felt like a lifetime of disappointment and loss. I know that it's not always easy to follow someone when you are struggling. I'm always moved when I receive a comment from someone who I know is having a bad day (or year), and I'm very touched to get e-mails from new readers who are in the beginning or the middle of their own battles with infertility or recurrent miscarriage, who tell me that reading my story has given them hope. That alone is what keeps me writing about this experience I've been through. It wasn't easy, but with the Lord's help I've survived through multiple miscarriages and many years of heartbreak and despair. Thank you for finding hope in my story and encouraging me to keep sharing it!

There is a whole lot of thankfulness to go around! And now I've come to the part about mercy. I'm going to share with you very briefly but honestly that there have been some times that have stung in recent months. While I recognize the hurt and the struggle, it is still a sobering thought when you realize that your answered prayer, your miracle baby who finally survived in your womb, is the very thing that will cause some to stop following your story. That is the only thing I will say about it, and I don't plan on revisiting the subject in the future. I've felt some sadness over it and I've spent some time dwelling on it. Then I was at church this past Sunday and we had a guest speaker who talked about showing mercy, and the message went right to my core. I've made up my mind to let go of whatever hurt feelings I may have had and just continue to handle it with love and with mercy. I'll continue to follow and I'll continue to pray even if the sentiments are not returned.

I have for a long time resisted the tendency to lean towards an "us versus them" mentality, both when I was waiting to have a baby and especially now. A woman with a heart that aches over the sadness of infertility and the despair of pregnancy loss is not someone I used to be. It's someone I still am and will always be. A successful pregnancy hasn't caused me to "change sides." I'm the same woman... whose heart is also thankful to God for the grace and mercy that He has shown by giving us this child after we've entrusted six others to His eternal care. That wasn't a small sacrifice, but through it all we've learned to trust Him. This experience continues to teach me new things and grow me in ways that I never imagined. Sometimes the growing pains are not easy, but I'm grateful for the lessons learned.

Let me say again, thank you for walking with me and for sticking around for as long as you have, through the bad times and the good ones. It means so much to me!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nursery

We have been putting the final touches on the nursery for a few days and are finally to the point where we feel it is done! I'm sure we'll find some other things to organize and a few things may get moved around as more comes in, but we are very happy with the room's current state. Thanks for all of the interest you've shown in seeing pictures! I'm excited to share them with you today.

First I just want to take a minute to remember and to reflect on what having this room ready means to me. We were expecting our first baby when we bought this house over 8 years ago. The room was already set up as a nursery, but not even close to what I would choose as far as color and wallpaper borders go. We took down the border and painted that room and the guest room next door a nice shade of green that I loved, but we never had the chance to set it up as a nursery because I miscarried before we even finished moving in.

The room remained mostly empty for a while until we finally purchased a queen-sized bed and made it into a second guest room. And oh, how our guests have used that room! I'm thankful that we gave it another purpose over these past 8 years and that I didn't have the constant reminder of that empty room down the hall. The closet held some unused baby items for all those years, but the room ultimately brought us joy. It has been my mom's room and my in-laws' room for overnight stays, but mainly it was my nephews' room! They called it their room and we've watched them practically grow up in it. I think it was a slight shock to them when we started clearing it out to get ready for Lily. They rebounded quickly, though, on the promise that Uncle and I will always, always make room for them to come and visit, no matter what. :)

Needless to say, it does my heart good to see this room decorated and ready for our baby, with that same shade of green that I loved back then. I always knew it would go well with blue or pink, but all I could do was hope that one day we would actually see it come together. It has, and I'm so thankful. I can't tell you how often I go in there just to stand and take it all in. I love this room, and I can't wait for Lily Rae to come home to it.

Now, onto the pictures!


Crib and changing table dresser. I don't know if I ever mentioned the theme here on the blog, but we went with simple, sweet little birds. I absolutely love the bedding (although the crib doesn't display it very well) and especially the mobile! I believe you can click on the pictures to view them slightly larger.

Crib and dresser


The newborn outfit I plan to bring Lily home in. I've had this sweet outfit for many years.

Dresser and chair. By the way, if you are as in love with that precious name pillow as I am, check out my friend Mellanie's etsy shop! I have a link to it in the sidebar, or you can click here: Cat's Meow Boutique. She makes the most adorable things! You might see some more items she made for my Lily on the site (last time I checked it I saw the adorable wipe case she sent to me).

Decorations on and above dresser. The flash got in the way here, but that little pink framed decoration has an "L" on it. The 3 framed photos on the shelves are of Lily's 3 sweet cousins when they were babies.

Sweet little clothes in the dresser drawer

Changing area and window

Canvas hanging on the wall above the window

Small bookcase. Her closet has an entire shelf full of books as well. I love children's books and have been collecting them for quite some time. She will have lots of books to read for sure!

Decorations on bookcase. This little framed picture is of my mom and me when I was a baby. Oh, and besides scrapbooking I'm really not much of a crafter, but take note of the rick rack that we added to this old lamp shade last week. I think it turned out so cute, not to mention it cost us nothing (I already had the ribbon) and took about 15 minutes to complete! That made me pretty happy.

One of my favorite things about the room is that I can look on any wall in any direction and see things that were lovingly made for and given to this baby. There are so many sweet little treasures tucked into this space and each one holds a special meaning for us. We have been blessed tremendously by family and friends who share in our excitement in bringing Lily home! What a wonderful day it will be. Oh, I can't wait!


"I prayed for this child and the Lord granted what I asked of him." 1 Samuel 1:27
Some version of this verse appears 3 times in Lily's room. As far as I'm concerned, it could be there 100 times! I could never remember or repeat it enough.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Hello friends! Since I have so many different updates for this week, I thought I'd give them to you in bullet points so I can keep them all nice and orderly. Can you tell I like lists? :)
Here goes!

  • First, we had a great week with our oldest nephew, A, last week! At nine years old he is getting so big and far more independent. On his first night here he declared that he would be fine sleeping by himself in the guest room. His younger brother preferred to sleep in our bedroom in a sleeping bag the week before. I have to admit I was a little sad, but each night he did ask me to lie down with him until he was asleep! He is still my little cuddle-bug, thankfully. We are so happy that we were able to spend time with both of them individually this summer before we have a brand new baby in the house. It was a real treat for this aunt and uncle.


  • This week I've been working very hard to get caught up with writing thank-you notes. I'm completely caught up, which is such a good feeling! I'm guessing I've written over a hundred already. My goal was to get them done before we have our fourth and final shower coming up next weekend and then I'll start all over again. This one will be local with many of our friends from church and some family. I'm looking forward to it! We are so, so thankful for the generosity and support.


  • My mom is finally doing better after her back surgery two weeks ago. She did have some setbacks and had to stay in the hospital for much longer than expected. The surgery went well and her back is feeling great, but she continued to have severe pain in her leg. My mom is very, very tough, so we knew that it must be hurting her terribly. We were afraid she would have to have a second surgery, but they eventually diagnosed her with bursitis in her hip and continued to treat it with pain medication and cortizone injections. She was finally able to take walks up and down the hallway and practice building up some strength in her legs. She has been home from the hospital for two days now and is doing pretty well. She still has lots of healing and resting to do, which I know is a challenge for her since she stays so busy. She may still require another procedure in the future but for now we are just waiting. Thanks for the prayers for her! Please continue to pray for her recovery, and especially that she will be okay to come visit baby Lily in mid-September!


  • Over the past couple of weeks Chuck and I have been gradually working on the nursery and I'm so happy to say that it is almost finished! I hope to get some pictures posted here to share with you in the next week or so. Just a few days ago we worked on hanging things on the walls, and even now while I write this I have the washer and dryer going with loads of her 6-9 month clothes. I'd already cut tags off of and laundered most of her 0-6 month things and they are nestled sweetly in drawers in her room. Doing all of this brings me so much joy as I think about how much closer we are to finally bringing a baby home. Sometimes I go in her room and look around just to take it all in and thank the Lord for answering this prayer.


  • We have about 7 more weeks to go (just about 50 more days!) until Lily's arrival. We are still counting down to the goal of a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks. At my last OB appointment things were still going well. My blood pressure was nice and low and the baby seemed to be measuring on target. So far I've gained a little more than 30 pounds total with the pregnancy. I actually feel pretty good about that number and am not at all embarrassed to share it with you. Hopefully it will make some of you feel better if, like me, you grow tired of reading about people who gain all of 2 pounds in 40 weeks! :) I'm also covered in stretch marks and I don't mind one bit.


  • Besides getting Lily's clothes washed and her room ready, the times I've been enjoying most this week especially are late at night when she gets very active. I've been having trouble sleeping lately (not necessarily because she's active but because it's getting hard to get comfortable in the bed) and I'm realizing how much I thoroughly enjoy those quiet moments with my sweet little girl. Feeling her kick and watching her roll around in my belly are things that I will greatly miss about this stage of pregnancy. Not to sound pessimistic at all, but I have no idea whether this will be my only opportunity to experience this. I don't want to take a single moment for granted.

As I'm sure you can imagine, spending two weeks with our nephews, checking up on my mom, working on the nursery, and other regular chores around the house have kept us very busy this month! It has gone by so quickly and now the calendar is mostly empty while we wait for September. I have so much reading to do to get caught up with you and your blogs! I have browsed through my feedreader and kept up with most things, but I'm looking forward to really getting back in touch in the next few days. Hoping you are all doing well. I haven't forgotten to keep you in my prayers!
Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Days

First I want to thank you so very much for the precious and supportive comments on my last post. It means a great deal to me that so many of you care and continue to follow our journey and take the time to encourage me with your words. Thank you!

We have had another very busy and very full couple of weeks, but I'm grateful for every moment. Last weekend we had our third baby shower, near my hometown this time, hosted by my sister and held at her church. We celebrated sweet Lily with cake, food, and gifts galore!

(Me at 29 weeks, with the adorable cake)

(With my lovely sister and mother)

I was so touched to have so many wonderful people there with me. My husband attended this one and was our official photographer for the day. My sister and mom were there, of course, as well as members from both my mom and dad's side of the family. My dad and his wife came by for a little while before the shower began. It is always a bit tricky to have events like this when you come from divorced parents, but thank the Lord it went really well. Two of my older half-siblings also came with their families, along with my mom's sister, my dad's sister and my 92-year-old grandmother. Chuck's sister, grandmother, and aunt were also with us that day.

(My husband and me with our sweet grandmothers)

There were so many friends surrounding us and it meant so much to us! Four of my classmates from grade school were there and another dear school friend was there with her sweet daughter who is practically grown now. I could go on and on about how I felt seeing the joy on the faces of our family and friends over this miracle! As hard as it used to be to imagine attending my own baby showers, I have to say they have been such memorable days for me. Just as I hoped and imagined, I'm able to look around the room and thank the Lord for putting people in our lives who truly love us, care about us, and pray for us. It's hard to find words to express how that makes me feel.

I was touched to have several old friends there to share the day with, but I also had a very special guest whose presence made me cry tears of joy. There, at my baby shower, I was able to meet a precious blog friend face to face for the first time! This was my third time to be able to meet a fellow blogger in person and it is always an incredible experience. Crystal and I made the connection quite a while ago that we were from the same general area, and I was delighted that she came to share this day with us. You see, Crystal is also expecting her miracle baby, due just three months after my Lily! Oh how I've prayed for her throughout her struggle (just as I still do for so many of you) and it was such a huge blessing to be able to share hugs, tears, and smiles on that day.


Thank you so much, friend, for giving me this beautiful memory! I can't wait to tell my daughter about it someday. The gifts you brought were so precious and I know they were from the heart!

We once again returned home with a car-full of wonderful, generous gifts from dear friends and family. My sister, her friends, and my mom did a great job of making the day so special for us.

We've had our sweet nephew, N, here with us for the week and we have had such a great time spending one-on-one time with him! We made this plan several months back so we could spend some extra time with my sister's boys before the baby arrives. They usually come together, but this year they were both so excited about coming one at a time. So we've had a 7-year-old with us all week and we are sad to have to take him back home this weekend, but his older brother will be here with us next week! I know I don't have to tell you how much we love spending time with our boys. :)

Finally, can I just tell you what a remarkable uncle my dear husband is? He has come home from work every single day this week excited and ready to spend some fun time with N. They went bowling, played at the arcade, and spent an afternoon at a water park. The three of us also went to the movies, played games, and got in lots of cuddle time with movie nights at home. Even as I write this from the living room couch, they are curled up in our bed watching The Lion King together. (Actually, I just peeked in and they are both asleep!)
My husband loves it. And he will do it all over again when N's brother comes to stay with us next week! I love watching him with my sister's kids, and my heart overflows when I imagine how wonderful he will be with his daughter.

One of the last things they did together before we take N home tomorrow was put Lily's crib together. N loves to help build things, so it was the perfect project for them! We got the rest of the furniture in this week as well and her room is beginning to take shape. We don't yet have the crib mattress and the walls are not decorated, but I will post pics of the nursery in the coming weeks when it is done.

I can't believe that tonight I will go to sleep in my house while the room down the hall has a baby bed in it. Thank you, Lord. My heart is full!

One final word: please keep my sweet mom in your prayers. She had back surgery (which lasted a whopping seven hours) this week and is still recovering in the hospital. I know she would greatly appreciate your prayers right now! We will see her this weekend.