Friday, September 30, 2011

22 weeks!

For starters, the few nights I actually put on "real" clothes, after coming home from work, were few and far between. And rushed. No time made for pictures. My "lounge around home" clothes, really don't exactly make me look pregnant, just pudgy and out of shape.:) However, I did snap these two crappy quality pictures for some family and friends who live out of town who wanted to see "how I was looking" these days. Excuse the complete mess behind me... working on that now!

Pregnancy Facts and Figures:

Size of baby: Elliott Faith is the size of spaghetti squash, and weighs about a pound.

Total Weight Gain: ~8 lbs . My scale at home says I lost weight, the scale at my new doctor's office (more on that later... probably) says I gained a little. So I am calling this week a wash weight wise:)

Clothes: Still wearing my regular pants, with a rubber band and/or bella band, and a few regular shirts. Jeans are definitely getting tighter in the hips. I found some unbelievably comfortable fit and flares at Motherhood Maternity this weekeend (WOO HOO) which will be great, once I get them hemmed. My Old Navy Maternity purchases   all fit, even the skinny jeans!:) I am pretty much set now for fall/winter. Hoodies and yoga/athletic pants will probably be my go-to clothes around the house. And fortunately, I wear scrubs at work. If I out grow scrubs, we all have need for concern!:) I did wear my first "full on maternity" outfit the other night. I swam in the shirt, and pants kept falling down, but it felt so good to be able to move and breathe freely!

Gender: It's a girl! Elliott Faith Ross. We will probably start out calling her either Ellie or Elle

Movement: In addition to being a gymnast, I am thinking soccer might be another sport she in which could excel! There has definitely been a marked increase in kicks and jabs this week! Some have been down right painful

Sleep: Still sleeping pretty well (sleep really is my #1, if only, talent!) PT left me pretty sore this week, so that has taken some getting used to. But nothing too bad.

Cravings: Nachos and grapes. Go figure!

Symptoms: My pain is different this week - more of  a healing pain, like I discussed earlier. Hopefully, the continued PT will help work some of that out. And I am sure being more regular with my work outs would help too. Don't judge.

Highlight: Getting to feel the little girl a lot more this week! And the "prescribed" nightly glute/hip massage by hubs my PT wrote for me!:)

Lowlight: in home PT exercises are taking up a lot of time - way more then I thought they would. Mainly because most are done on my back, and I am still really paranoid, and after every 10-15 reps, I roll over to my left side for a minute just to make sure I am not stressing the little girl out too much.

Fun Fact: We can actually hear Ellie's heart beat with my stethoscope, faintly! We can definitely hear her moving around - so fun!

Until 23 weeks...
hopefully I will better with the picture taking. This journey is flying by so quickly, I don't want to miss a minute, even photographically speaking!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh That Pregnancy Glow!

... why can't pregnant women (or at least this pregnant woman) see it for themselvs!?!?

Body image is not a big issue for me (or wasn't). Does my husband have to listen to my whine and complain about my not toned enough thighs, ba-donk-a-donk hind end, frizzy hair, etc... Yes, he does. I try not to complain, but I am a female, and as such I am not sure I will ever be completely satisfied without my outward appearance. However, when I complain about my butt and thighs I also know and acknowledge the fact that I haven't been hitting the work out's like I should either. Those issues are my own fault, and I own them. Now my hair, its not my fault, and though 75% of the population tells me what a gift it is, I am still learning to see it as such. I spent the first 17 years of my life with thick straight hair, only to have it go corkscrew in a few weeks time, my senior year of high school. My previous hair was easier... and cheaper!:) But there is nothing like working with adolescents losing their hair due to chemo, prior to prom, to give you a serious wake up call about how blessed you are to have a strand of hair on your head!

All that to say, I don't find my self-worth in my body, my appearance, in the way people see me. My parents did a great job instilling this concept in me, at an early age, and I  pray we can do the same for Ellie Faith and any other future children we are with which we are blessed. I love the phrase in The Help that Abilene recites over and over to poor, sweet, neglected Mae Mobly,"You is kind, you is smart, and you is important." Definitely boo-hooed in that part of the movie, right from the beginning. I definitely plan on doing this with our babies... maybe just with correct grammar.:)

I wish I could take some credit for this some-what lack of "normal female mindset," but I really can't. Part of it, I come from two parents with families with great metabolisms, and while mine is probably the slowest out of the family (due the lack of athletic ability/enjoyment) it is still pretty darn good. I have never been over 125 lbs, and if I have, it was water weight during that time of the month. In the past too, I could cut out a snack a day, and drop a pound or two by the end of the week. Of course, approaching 30, this is getting much harder to do. And then I got pregnant...

I think I actually lost weight in the beginning of the pregnancy, due the whole lack of not being able to eat anything deal. Plus, I had some fertility-med-pudge hanging around that quickly vanished upon conception. It took a while for me to actually gain weight. However, my body immediately began changing...rapidly!

I wondered if I would have a hard time, mentally, with the weight gain that must go on for a healthy pregnancy. I wasn't sure. I set a standard that I would only weigh myself on Monday mornings - no more  and no less. That worked great. I saw tinsy tiny increments of weight gain, but it was slow and steady - nothing freaky.

Working out was not an option for the first 11 weeks. One, due the fact my fertility specialist is very conservative on this front, and two, I was doing good to stay half awake at work. Once home, I was a zombie or in a coma.:) I have worked out sporadically since week 12. I am also on my feet all day, wrestling, chasing down, and restraining kids for shots, blood draws, procedures, etc...  I have beat myself up for not working out more then I am. I know habits I make now, will carry over when the baby comes. But honestly, there are so many nights I come home so dead tired it is all I can do to make myself dinner, let alone the hubs. I have really pushed myself to not beat myself up over this.

A lot of my friends were able to work out daily, their entire pregnancy. Just hearing this, I allow it to put pressure on me. Eventually, I take step back and realize - most of them weren't working, full time or at all, and if they were, they weren't so actively involved in extracurriculars (like college ministry) as we are. Its then I have a choice - am I really in the right place God would have me to be right now,  or am I overextending myself? Sometimes the answer is the first, and sometimes it is the second. Having to make choices for me and the baby, and miss out on some of the college ministry things has been really really hard, but I know it is the right and healthy choice. Exercise goal is set at 2-3 times a week. If I get it done great, if I do more, fabulous, if it doesn't happen and I nap/veg on the couch instead, its ok too.

Last week I saw something I had never seen before - the scale was over 130. Last week my jeans started getting significantly more uncomfortable. Last week my belly started peeping out under my regular shirts, but didn't fill out most maternity shirts I tried out. Last week I swear my thighs doubled in circumference. Panic, at times, has slowly tried to eek its way into my heart, mind, and body.

So I have a choice - the weight is coming, the body is changing, the clothes aren't going to fit for long/if ever again - what am I going to do? Am I going to quit eating proper nutrition, quit all my social experiences to work out after work, all the maintain a "tiny" pregnant body? NO!

I also have another choice - listen to the voices around me - really listen, not just brush them off as nice comments. At my brother's wedding last month, I saw lots of friends and family for the first time as obviously pregnant. Of course, I got the basic, "Oh look at you, you cute little mama," that you say to anyone, even when what you are really thinking is "Holy cow, you really are NOT supposed to be eating for two adults at 12 weeks into the pregnancy journey." Or am I the only horrible person who thinks like that? :-/ But I also got some of the sweetest comments, for the least "expected commenters."

"Pregnancy has never looked so good on someone."
"You look absolutely gorgeous, I mean really beautiful."
"You never looked as beautiful and happy as you do now."
"You are positively glowing!"
"Sweetest pregnant girl I have ever seen."

Now, I don't say these things to boast, brag, or elevate myself in your eyes at all. I have wanted to write this post for awhile now but didn't because I was so uncomfortable using those phrases, but knew I had to use them in order to make my point. Vulnerable!

I don't see the glow. I see rapidly paling skin, as summer's tan vanishes, and tanning beds are off limits. (I do however notice by far the least amount of blemishes on my face since I was 8, and for that I am very thankful!) I don't see the beauty - I see and awkwardly expanding abdomen - depending on what I am wearing could just be a really bad beer gut, or the front half of an awful muffin top. I see and feel hips as wide as Texas, and on a 5'3" frame, that isn't considered voluptuous, its straight up pear shaped. I don't see what my husband sees when he tells me daily I have," never looked prettier." 

And it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I never see it. It doesn't matter if what people say they see are just words to make me feel better. It doesn't matter if its all true today and gone tomorrow. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty evaporates, but a woman who has the fear of the LORD should be praised." Proverbs 31:30 The truth is, we have been given a gift - Elliott Faith Ross. Most of life's most precious gifts come at a price/cost. They aren't freely given. If they were, we wouldn't appreciate them. We have been given a gift so many couples are longing for - a baby of our own, growing, kicking, squirming inside my uterus. 

I don't care if pregnancy take away every ounce of sexiness I ever thought I possessed (and there was really very little there to begin with! Ha ). That is not what motherhood is about. Its about so much more. Its about a giving of yourself you never thought was possible (and I haven't even scratched the surface), it is about, like my friend Michelle's dad likes to say, "you will never sleep or pray the same ever again. Its about so much more than I have any idea about. But I know that  is what is important. I as scared as I am, I can not wait to learn all about it.  

And in the mean time.... I is kind, I is smart, and I is important.... and I choose joy! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pregnancy and Physical Therapy - a Public Service Announcement

I went back for my first pregnancy PT appointment last week. It was great getting to see Patti and Dawn (my two PT's from my previous six months of therapy, 2 years ago). I think know they were really excited to see me pregnant.

I was really hoping for just a "tune up"/do -this-and-that and come-see-us-in-a-month type appointment. I really should have known better. That "my tailbone is about to come through my skin at any moment" pain should have been my first clue.

Due to my previous therapy having to do mainly with my pelvic floor and interior hip muscles, must of the modalities of care took place internally. Hence the reason all those lovely "" ultrasounds with our fertility specialist weren't that big of a deal. As much as I love Dawn and Patti, that round of PT is, to date, the most violating experience I have ever been through! Ha ha I mean really, who enjoys having computer leads, probes, and other various equipment hooked up to/in your...ahem...lady business? Enough on the past miseries... onto the present.

Patti started throwing our words that I hadn't had to think much about in the time since I was discharged from PT -  psoas, ileo-scarcral this that and the other, rotated L3 and L4, and my forever nemesis - that stupid pirformis! Granted, pregnancy hormones can get the best of you when you least expect it, and most the time I go into new situations knowing water works could start at any unpredictable time. However, I was not expecting to cry again/ever at PT! Slowly, I could feel them coming on. Luckily, I think my PT could see them quickly coming on and assured it was not as bad as last time  and would not  entail the same types of corrective therapy. Praise the Lord, Thank you, Jesus!

I ended up being there over an hour and a half, getting my evaluation and treatment done. Part of the treatment included a long massage. And even if it was in my gluteal/hip region, it felt incredible! I definitely left in pain, but it was different pain then I went in experiencing. Good pain. Healing pain. I am pretty familiar with that type of pain now. And what I now realize, I was in pain I didn't even realize I was experiencing. It either crept on so slowly I didn't notice, or my body awareness is even worse then we all originally thought. I mean I did tackle a 3-4 year old boy in our office who walked "underneath" my 21+week preggo belly. And yes, I definitely mean tackle... with a touch of a drop kick. The good thing about being pregnant, people always leap to your aid/defense, and place very little blame  on you. Luckily the kid was physically fine. He is just even more scared of the pediatricians office now.:) 

The biggest, and most disheartening, surprise was the fact that I already am developing a Diastasis. I have been experiencing shooting umbilical pain since about week 4, and several of my doctors/NP's said it was just the early rapid growth of my abdomen. Not so much. More like my abdominal muscles splitting in half. Luckily, it wasn't very advanced, and should be easily correctable, even during my pregnancy. On the plus side, my lower abdominal muscles are stronger now, then the first time I was evaluated, not pregnant, two years ago! Thank you Turbo Fire/Turbo Jam!!!

I remember when I was first in PT, Patti telling me she thought I might need some PT if/when I got pregnant, and definitely rehab after delivery, in fact she thought all women could use some PT after child birth. One of my brothers is about to finish PT school himself, and I have heard him echo the same sentiments. Having been through all this PT and being a nurse, of course I have done my own research, and I could NOT agree with them more. AND, I highly urge any pregnant women out there not to just "take" the public and/or your doc's word on pregnancy=pain, live with it and deal with it... its only 9-10 months. Be proactive. Make sure you are taking the best care possible of your body, so that your recovery will go much smoother, and in a shorter period of time. After most traumatic medical events - sports injuries, accidents, surgeries - you get to go home, recoup, and be taken care of. Childbirth is the only medically traumatic even I can think of where you come home with a living, breathing, crying, sleepless, human being, that relies solely on your for their health and well-being. Not exactly the convalescence afforded during rehab/after surgery. Sure our bodies are made to nourish and deliver these little miracles of life, but that doesn't mean they do it perfectly.

Patti really helped reassure me with stretches, strengthening and toning exercises, etc... that won't hurt Ellie. I was using my TINS unit (if you don't have one of these and are a fairly active person, go out and buy one!) this past weekend, and Ellie started going crazy inside me. I freaked out and thought I was zapping her with electrical current. I became that patient that interrupted Patti's weekend at home with family, with a series of texts imploring assurance I wasn't electrocuting my baby. Of course, now on this side of that brief hormonal freak out, I realize how utterly absurd that notion was, but all the same, Patti was very reassuring that Ellie was fine.

So, if you are experiencing any type of hip, back, pelvic, tailbone, umbilical, etc... pain - be that that patient that says "You have a friend" who went to PT and it made all the difference in the world, and get yourself checked out. Do it for yourself, do it for your baby, and do it for you poor hubby who is already going to be in/on the biggest learning curve of his life.:)

Off to do my in-home therapy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

21 weeks!

I was really planning on doing weekly pregnancy updates. Obviously that hasn't happened. But no time like the present to start!

Here are Elliott Faith and I entering our 21 week relationship!

Pregnancy Highlights:

Size of baby: Ellie is the length of a carrot, and weights ~14 oz

Total Weight Gain: ~8 lbs

Clothes: This is one of the first times I have worn a maternity shirt. So far I have made do with my regular pants, thanks to the great rubber band trick and the a belly band. My regular shirt options are definitely dwindling rapidly! I have a newly received package of Old Navy Maternity clothes I can't wait to try on! Oh, and jeggings and cardigans are a pregnant girl's best friend!

Gender: It's a girl! Elliott Faith Ross. We will probably start out calling her either Ellie or Elle

Movement: I think she might be a gymnast like her momma

Sleep: It has taken a long time getting used to sleeping on my sides (I was a belly sleeper previously) but thanks to my body pillow on one side, and using my husband as a body pillow on the other side:), I am sleeping really well. Unless, Ellie decides to have a circus party in my uterus... her movements can keep me up, marveling at the little miracle growing inside me.

Cravings: I don't really have fun cravings, just food aversions. I can not get enough fruit!!! My midwives make fun of me for the amount of fruit I consume in a day. ha ha 

Symptoms: I have had lots of pelvic pain and pressure from 3 weeks on. Most of it, we think, is mainly round ligament pain, but I am also having a lot of pain from my previously broken tail bone, as well as in my hips. I am going back to physical therapy tomorrow to try to work on some of this. The nausea is much better. I haven't thrown up since the trip to the beach. I still get hit with waves of nausea, but I can handle that. Changing positions makes me really dizzy, even just turning my head!:) And I am exhausted. I haven't experienced that wonderful 2nd trimester energy everyone told me about. I was "hoping" I was anemic, but as luck would have it, my iron has been great. No easy fix there. ha ha

Here is a preview of her bedding:

We aren't using all these fabrics, and there are a few not shown here. The collection is by Ty Pennington. I love it! I found this collection the first time I started looking for nursery ideas, and I haven't found anything to even make me think about going another direction. I have some swatches on the way to me, and I am working with two different vendors on custom bedding estimates. I can't wait until we get it, and can start on her nursery!:)

In closing, here are some pictures of the future mommy and daddy of Ellie Faith:)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Beach of a Trip!

This post will for the most part be incredibly boring to most. However, this blog has become something like a journal for me, so I want to record this story to laugh over in years to come.

Overall, our trip to the beach last month was just what the doctor ordered! A week of doing nothing but laying on the beach, getting a tan, reading so many good books ( Mud Bound, Choosing to See, and A Life Stolen), soaking in the ocean, for as long has my nausea/motion sickness would allow, was a pure piece of heaven. However, the trip getting there, was a taste of... well... definitely not Heaven! And really, that is what this post will be about - the trip driving to the beach. The time at the beach was so blissfully uneventful, I won't bore you with the details.

Marriage brings two families, from completely different habits, traditions, thought patterns, and emotional structure together... trust me, this isn't a rabbit's trail - it really does relate to the story. Jared and I have been extremely blessed to be from two families whose core values are based on the same truths, morals, and beliefs. And while our families are completely different in day to day life, they are both HUGE blessings in our life, and we feel so fortunate that we can take the good things we learned from both family sets, and combine them to create our own family style. There are, however, definitely differences in our two families.
- My family is loud, boisterous, active.
- Jared's family is quiet and reserved
- With three brothers in the house (and a youngest sister who thought for the first 5 years of her life she was just like her brothers), and everyone( with the exception of myself) being competitive athletes, there are balls bouncing, games played, wrestling matches on going - constantly. And yes, most of that can take place inside, and at times all at the same time. :)
- In Jared's family, he is the only boy, followed by two sisters - rough housing is not a part of their home life.
- My family isn't big on traditions - competitive sports have a way of playing havoc with traditions, especially Holiday traditions.
- Jared's family celebrates traditions.
- Physical aggression (in fun/love) is a love language in our house. The Elliott siblings have never fought, physically, in anger. We have only done it out of fun and enjoyment of each other's company - as crazy as that may sound to most. :) Of course, there are 1 or 2 the siblings who didn't always handle this type of interaction as well as the rest of us, and tears were the eventual/occasional outcome.
- Physical aggression is not understood in Jared's. I remember the look of horror on my then future mother-in-laws face the first time she saw me playfully slap Jared, and kick his knees out from under him, after he made some snarky comment. Ha ha!:)
- my family plays every sport in the book, and has played competitive basketball on all levels.
- Jared's family enjoys watching some UT VO.L sports, but never were competitive athletes (Side note:Hubs will get mad at me if I don't clarify here. He loves to play sports, but poor buddy got all his height - 6'5" by the time he was 13, so you can imagine the awkwardness. His coordination didn't come until college, when, as he likes to tell it, he dominated intramurals! ha ha)
- My family gets upset at the losses of any team they participate in (as a coach or player), especially if their personal performance was subpar, but we get over it pretty quickly.
- Jared's family goes into mourning when the VO.Ls lose (as does ALL of Knoxville - ugh!) and the woes are rehashed daily, until the next loss, or victory.

- I have loved getting to be a setting where the female members out number the male members.
- Jared loves getting to be around my family, where he plays with the brothers he never had.

Despite those differences, we all get along very well. One other major difference in our families is our travel style.

My family is plagued with horrific motion sickness. We also aren't "the hike's the thing" type family. We are more about getting to the final destination. The faster you get there, the better everyone feels/will be.

Jared's family has a special needs sibling's needs to consider. The middle sister, Sara, has Down's Syndrome. And, they are very much "the hike's the thing" type family. They will get to the destination eventually.

During our previous trips to the beach with Jared's family, I just take a regular strength dram.amine, sleep the majority of the trip, and deal with moderate nausea and drowsiness (his family's frequent stops and my car sickness are not good combinations!) We take two cars, but still travel together. However, with this pregnancy, the drugs option was out. My doctors are all very conservative, and beg as I did, they wouldn't give me any p.henergan or z.ofran. :(

We left around 7 am. Our first stop came less then an hour and a half into the trip - a rest area where we always stop when we travel that direction. Preggo, was not happy with this stop, as I had just fallen asleep. But I went ahead and took advantage of the bathroom, as my biggest fear was my pregnant state/bladder causing us an additional stop somewhere on this trip.

We hit the road again, only to stop another 1.5 hour later. My attitude is greatly starting to take a nose dive at this point, so I stay in the car and try and think  about anything that doesn't involved food, vomit, or motion of any kind.

We stopped for lunch around 11 am, at Wendy's. I am not a big fast-food person, and meat and I have not gotten along so well during the pregnancy, so they were kind enough to chose a quick place to eat, where I could get a baked potato.  I was ridiculously nauseous at this point, and not ready to eat, but knew I would hungry within the hour, so I went ahead and picked at my potato. I felt slightly better after just being out of the car for 30-45 minutes. Back into the car we go, and I assume for a good long stretch. This is when it all goes down hill.

We stop less than an hour later for another bathroom stop, again right as I have fallen asleep. I am not proud of the way I acted as we pulled into another South Carolina rest area. I was so nauseous, drowsy and mad, I don't even remember any exact words. I only remember snapping at my husband, and he and my sister-in-law, who was riding with us, silently exiting the car as quickly as they could. I made the stupid decision to stay in the car, and stew... in the South Carolinian heat - genius move on my part!

I am not sure if it was my anger, the heat, or the prematurely eaten lunch that was the culprit... probably all of it. But, all of sudden I was hit with the all too familiar wave of nausea, that I knew was not  going to stay down. Had I controlled my thoughts and emotions better, I would have been smart and just hurled all over the ground in front of our car, but it was blazing hot and humid, and right on the side of the interstate. The rest area, in my obviously "sane" state seemed to be crawling with people. The thought of puking in front of them all was too much, especially because I always  freaking cry when I vomit. Throwing up and crying in public happen to be two of my least favorite pass times.

I bolted out of the car, slammed the car door with way more force then necessary, and about barrel over my father-in-law and husband, who could tell by the look of my face all was not well! When they asked where I was going/how I was, I, like a brat, shouted over my shoulder, "To throw up everywhere, where do you think!?!"

Things are a little blurry at this point. I remember getting inside the women's bathroom. I remember the stifling heat that smacked me in the face and feeling like I was going to suffocate. I vaguely remember seeing my MIL and SIL standing with some other women, and I am sure all of them were in line. I remember seeing the first stall in the line open up, and rushing by everyone into the stall and slamming the door behind me. I remember that place smelled straight up like butt and overflowing sanitary trashcans. What transpired in that stall is luckily blurred as well. I have no idea how long I was in there. It could have been 10-45 minutes for all I know. I lost everything in my stomach, and then some. I was shaking like a leaf. Boo-hooing like an irrational 5 year old. The shaking got so bad, at one point I was on my hands and knees hugging the toilet in a public restroom. Once the puking and dry heaves stopped, the intestinal cramps began. You beyond get the picture at this point.

I finally pulled myself somewhat back together, I exited the stall, splashed some water on my face, and tried to make myself look semi-human again. That was a mere impossibility at this point. My sister-in-law was sent in to check on, and make sure I hadn't passed out and hit my head. :)

The looks on my "in-lawed family's" faces when I finally exited the bathroom were something to behold. Sort a blend of pity, anxiety, fear, and definite uncertainty.

I have been told I have expressive eyes. However, I am usually pretty darn good at veiling true emotion or reactions.... when I am not about to spew my cookies in front of the world. I have no doubt if looks could kill, I would have left a trail a dead in-laws, and possibly a husband, in my wake on my trip to the bathroom. Oops! I guess its a good thing the first child/grandchild is housed, nourished, protected, and maintained in my uterus. That gave me a little bit of leniency. That, and thank goodness, they love me!

No one really said a word. I think they were too scared that the exorcist might reappear. I was shaking like a leaf, dizzy, and mortified. We all just piled into the cars and took off again....

.... and I am 90% sure that was our last stop before...

This Blissdom:)

And after writing all that, I am completely exhausted just reliving that moment... the rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. So instead of details, I will leave you with just a few pics.

 The Ross Siblings: Jared, Sara, and Brenna

 Brenna is sooo ready to be an aunt! Sara on the other hand, still isn't too sure about all this:)

Walks on the beach at night are my favs

The next two demonstrate the GROWTH spurt Ellie (and I) went through that week.

 Beach Day 2

End of the week (sans make-up, please excuse!)

Yes, I wore a sweat shirt several nights... at the beach... in South Carolina... at the end of August! Told ya the weather could not have been more perfect!:)

PS: I did take pictures of my mother and father-in-law... but the only ones on my camera were of them on the beach in the swim suits... and I am pretty sure my MIL would kill me if she ever found out I posted them on the web for the whole world to see:)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Baby Doesn't Change Everything

Added note: this post was also written during the very sick days. It is a tad embarrassing, but it is a very honest portrayal and intimate look inside my heart. And the human heart, is rarely a pretty place.

We have all heard the saying, "A baby changes everything." Faith Hill wrote a Christmas song with this title. Side note - I could barely bring myself to listen to the words this past Christmas. It was just too painful. When you get pregnant, everyone tells you your life is about to change forever, in every way. And yes, a baby, a pregnancy, even just desire for a baby does change so much. But not everything changes.

So many times in life, we are so focused on looking ahead at what we want in life, from others, from God, etc... We think that when we get to that certain "happy place" we have been dreaming of e.g. best friends, marriage, dream job, awesome vacation, fun car, dream home, perfect little family, we will finally realize all we were meant to be, feel, and experience.

I recently saw on twitter that one of the many "Real Housewives of someplace or other" said something to the effect of "The grass is not always greener on the other side. Water the grass you have." So incredibly, if surprisingly, true. A good, and probably much more Christ centered follow-up comes from Jackie Kendall, in her book Lady in Waiting, “If Jesus wants you married (or, as I have added, to be a parent, have the perfect job, car, home etc...), He will orchestrate the encounter. You have nothing to fear except getting in His way and trying to ‘write the script’ rather than following His.”  

I will admit that in the last months leading up to conceiving our little miracle, I struggled to find joy in my day to day life, circumstances, and encounters. I have an amazingly wonderful family, the most fun and supportive husband a girl could ask for, a house over my head, a comfy bed, plenty of food, a paid off car, a pay check that comes in every two weeks without fail, good insurance, enough clothes and accessories to feel cute most of the time, and last but certainly not least - my relationship with, and therefore salvation from my Heavenly Father. It was the thing I hated most about our infertility. Yes, even more then the fact that we couldn't conceive. I despised that I had to fight for joy, despite my abundance of blessings. I got to the point I didn't feel worthy of pregnancy! If I couldn't find joy in my blessed life, what right did I have to have baby - something that is surely to be one of the most stressing, taxing, and exhausting experiences in life. If I couldn't be faithful with what I had already been given, why should I be given more? I knew I was not where I needed to be in my heart. Where thanksgiving and joy should have been, bitterness, critical thoughts, and cynicism had taken up a home. 

Then I got pregnant. I think all I just described was a huge part of why I felt so emotionally stunted during those first few days: I didn't feel worthy. I emailed news of our pregnancy to one of my favorite bloggers, Amy, who has been trying to conceive for years. I didn't want her to find out randomly on some social media outlet. Her amazing attitude and utter dependence on Jesus in her struggle has been a constant source of encouragement, as well as a challenge. To make matters worse, she had just undergone what would prove to be an unsuccessful fertility treatment, at nearly the same time we conceived. I told Amy how guilty I felt for being given such a gift, when so many others seemed so much more ready, and in such better places spiritually and emotionally. Part of her response really helped give me the freedom to take yet another step into joy. "What a blessing - and don't you DARE not enjoy it or feel unworthy. We are all unworthy!" 

However, I am ashamed to admit even though I did finally give myself permission to feel joy and thanksgiving, I was still disgustingly jealous. Sure, I had a baby growing inside my womb, a quiet and constant reminder of my Heavenly Father's unfailing love for me, but it had come way later then I wanted. I wanted to have a nearly 1 year old learning to run around the house by this point. To be thinking about baby #2. Beginning our adoption plans/timeline. Making friends with other young moms. You get the picture. I would get jealous when I would hear young mom's make plans for play dates or day time get-togethers, or see them out in public doing things with their kids. Pictures on facebook of my friend's babies growing up were hard to watch some days. I was still really nervous something was going to happen to the baby, and we would have to pick up the broken pieces of our hopes and dreams, and start all over again... if I could.

I was disgusted with myself, to say the least. I have plenty of sinful faults in my life, however, I have never been a jealous person. It is horrible! This "jealousy journey" has been such a great lesson though - just like the infertility. I prayed earnestly for this jealousy to be taken out of my heart. Of course, it didn't happen overnight. It is definitely a process. I decided to choose joy. Every morning, before I get out of bed, I rub my abdomen, smile, and thank Jesus for our miracle gift, and ask that I be a good steward of the gift for that day. Every time I feel that awful little green monster (jealousy)creep back into my heart or mind, my hand goes to my rapidly expanding tummy, and I utter/breathe prayers of praise and thanksgiving. If these awful thoughts are ignited by someone I know or love (by no fault of their own), I choose to pray for them and their little ones - that the hand on God remain on them, guide them, and protect them.

Am I 100% cured of this "disease"? No. But I am submitting to the treatment, and the prognosis is very good.:) For, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And, I choose joy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Revelation Day Recap.

I was so excited ALL DAY Thursday, knowing we were going to see our little baby, and hopefully find out the gender. Interestingly, when I woke up Tuesday morning, our original appointment date, I just had this pit in my stomach that we wouldn't get to find out. I tried to shrug it off as just being nervous, like I always get right before an ultrasound (even though my little girl gave a solid kicking the night before!:) ). Or maybe it was just I was disappointed that my husband was having to leave to go out of town from the appointment. No fun celebratory dinner date, followed by the first of any baby shopping and/or registering. But that is all water under the bridge now - Thursday was the day we needed to find out!

Ellie was sleeping/not moving when the tech started the ultrasound, but I could see her little heart fluttering aways  - all four chambers (VERY important for this former pediatric cardiology nurse!) workinig in perfect harmony, so mommy was ok! The tech asked if we wanted to the gender, and we assured her we most definitely did. I had some handy-dandy caffeine ready and waiting to shock her little system into moving, if she ended inheriting my personality, and wouldn't move out of mere stubborness.:) The tech decided to do measurements first, while she was still, then wake her up for the recorded portion of the ultrasound, followed by the gender determination.

The femurs were some of the first anatomical features measured. I caught a quick glimpse between the legs, and was 90% sure, to my shock and amazement, that she was a girl. Side note - I have said boy for the majority of th pregnancy and Jared has insisted on Girl since day one. But I didn't say anything.

I couldn't believe how big she had gotten, and how much more of  "person" she was looking. We saw her wiggle her fingers, her toes, kick and punch, drink her amniotic fluid, turn and look at us, and then promptly turn her back to us (13-18 years of age ought to be real fun! ha ha). It was great confirmation that some of the smaller sensations I have been feeling were indeed her moving.

The Tech did a great job showing us everything, explaining what she was measuring and how it was measuring up. This was great especially for Jared, who tends to be extremely lost during ultrasounds.:) We got to listen to the best "version" of her heart rate to date. I swear, I could listen to that sound all day long... need to figure out how to make a recording of it off the dvd.

Finally, it was time to look between the legs. The tech zoomed in on the area our little exhibitionist was easily showing between her wide spread legs, and laughed  - every ultrasound she had done that day was the same gender. I was now 99% sure of the gender, but was too scared to say. Could my original dream of having a baby girl first really be coming true? (And for the record, I was totally beyond thankful/ecstatically excited/over the moon at the thought of having a baby boy too. But - I have been raised around BOYS my entire life. If I had a girl first, I was guaranteed my daughter, and the rest could be all boys!) I looked at Jared and asked him if he could tell. He looked shocked and bewildered, "Its a boy!" he said in disbelief! The tech and I looked at each other and laughed - what the heck was he looking at?? With the push of a button, GIRL, popped up on the screen. That last 1% assurance that I had indeed NOT seen a p.eni.s  was all it took for the water works to start. Actually, who am I fooling, the screen could have read BOY, and the tears would have still flowed, with me saying "Oh, hey my little man." Heck, they are flowing now just typing it, and thinking about the day we might see BOY on the screen. Happy tears, I promise!:)

Back to my husband's confusion.
Jared:"So what exactly are we looking at here?"the tech circled the tell-tale area, and again zoomed in.  "Oh, I see it now."
Me: Babe, what on earth were you looking at?"
He points to the appendage on the screen that he had thought was the genitalia. It was her femur! The tech and I died laughing!
Me: Thank goodness she is a girl... if we had been pregnant with a boy, you would have needed counseling to handle all your fears of horrible "inadequacies" your son was going to have/experience.:)

Afterwards, we went to a little Italian dive that we like, the same place we celebrated this years anniversary, the night before we found out we were pregnant. And of course, started making the phone calls to immediate families, and sending out texts to our friends and family, followed by the inevitable facebook announcement. Her name made it to facebook at amazing speeds! Luckily, once the name was attached to an actual baby, we got a lot less criticism on my rather unique name tastes. We wrapped up the night at bible study with the college kids.

A little back ground on her name. Elliott, is my maiden name. I have loved the idea of it being a girls name since I was  teenager. There are a few female Elliotts out there, but they are few and far between, which I love! Faith is another name I have loved forever, and the combination sounded like perfection to me. My conservative straight laced hubby was not a fan of the name initially, but it evidently grew on him. When he got back in town after the week we found out we were expecting, he gave me a hug and said," I think its a girl, and her name will be Elliott Faith, because I do like the name Elle, and even Ellie, and this has been, and will be, and journey of Faith for us." I love we have  story to share with her behind her name! After we knew she was a girl, Jared looked and me and asked," is that our Elliott Faith?" I told him it was up to him. "Its Elliott Faith."

Can you believe I still haven't bought anything for her??? I did do some window shopping last night, but nothing purchased yet. Have no worries, that will change soon! Her daddy has definitely taken another step into "Daddy-dom." Right after he was sure she was a girl, the first words out of his mouth were," Oh no, soon she will be dating, then its time for her to get married, and I have to give her away." Ha ha, Sweet hubby, we have many more years before we have to worry about that!

Speaking of marriage, my dear friend Michelle, has a little boy Noah, who will be six months old next week. Evidently, we are setting up a pre-arranged marriage for these two. Noah went and bought Ellie some gifts yesterday, and here is the smile he gave his mommy when he learned what they were doing.:)
How stinking CUTE is  my future son-in-law!?:)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And the Gender is....

Hello World! Meet our precious baby GIRL

Elliott (Ellie and/or Elle) Faith Ross

Psycho Preggo Part 2

This post was started back in July... I just recently edited it somewhat. Decided to keep some of the rawness for honesty sake.:)

When I wrote my first Psycho Preggo post, I thought it would be a one and done deal. Well, its looking like I should start a series.

I am NOT a crier - never have been, and probably never will be... except when I am pregnant. When we first found out I was pregnant, Jared went out of town for a week the next day. I was in too much shock to feel much of any type of emotion, other then anxiety. I was so worried something would happen while he was gone, and I would have to battle through it alone. After talking to one of my "surrogate moms," she encouraged me to just enjoy every day I was pregnant  - to find joy in any little thing.  And not worry about all the "What if's." As my mom says, "Don't future-trip."I had known this in my head, but my heart was having a hard time with the concept. Hearing her echo the thoughts in my head, were just what I needed to push me over the edge. The next morning, I went to the doctor for another set of blood work. When I got back in the car, our local christian radio station was on. I can't tell you what song was playing, but I started bawling uncontrollably. And continued to do so every morning for the next several weeks. I would get in the car, turn on the radio for a little praise and worship time, and cue the tears. I don't cry every morning now, but tears do still hit me at the most bizarre times - usually triggered by music praising my Heavenly Father.

Communion at church is another tear trigger. People at our church must think I have some serious sin bondage! HA! But it doesn't just have to be religious or Christ centered to make me cry. Um - commercials are killers! There have been several nights I have looked at Jared and said," I really could just sit and a cry a puddle I am so tired!" Like that would make the situation better. There have been times that the most basic acts that I never thought twice about doing or partaking in are so overwhelming all I want to do is cry. What the heck!?! Usually, I am able to realize the absolute outlandish ridiculousness of such a reaction, and end up laughing my way out of the crying-mood.

Enough on tears... onto some more fun/entertaining ridiculousness.

Earlier this week, as I was getting ready for bed, I had a mini freak out when I saw my protruding abdomen in the mirror. "Oh my gosh, Jared, LOOK, at my tummy! It is twice the size it was yesterday. At this rate you will have to roll me out to car when I go into labor." The next morning, I had a similar freak out in shower when I realized my abdomen was considerably smaller then it was the night before. I kept touching my abdomen throughout the day, checking the size. Finally, by 2 pm I was satisfied that it was back to its ridiculous large size, and by bed time I was having slight anxiety attacks about my ability to birth a child that takes after its father in size. Freaking cray-cray-crazy, ya'll!

As for food - people who tell you, "Just eat whatever sounds good, and you won't get as sick." are completely lying. I have pretty much decided that I could eat brussel sprouts or celery  (my least favorite foods) or Chili's South Western Egg Rolls (some of my favorite guilty indulgences)  and have the exact same reaction - vomititous! Speaking of celery, the last time I went grocery shopping, they were restocking the celery in the produce section right as I walked in. The smell sent me running to the bathroom, and dry heaving over the commode. Now vomiting at home is bad enough. Public restroom purgings are a thing all their own! In closing on the food subject, I have learned, if you don't eat - you get sick. If you do eat - you get sick. The only decision you really have is how you want to get sick.:)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All is well - Promise!:)

Hello dear friends and faithful readers!

All is well in my little world, I promise. I just can't seem to get into the blogging swing now that I am pregnant. I am finally feeling better, as in I am not throwing up anymore (fingers crossed!), but I am still exhausted. I am journaling in my Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy Journal, and even though the entries are short, its about all I am managing to write these days.

I have a few drafts waiting to be published that I thought were woefully incomplete, but after just reading over them, they really only need some editing, and they are ready for your reading enjoyment. They were written during the lowest moments of preggo-illness... things are looking up, I promise. My lowest moment came around 15.5 weeks, when I was getting more sick by the day, instead of getting better. I was in bed, getting ready to go to sleep for the night, and I looked at Jared, with tears filling my eyes."Babe, I do not want to complain, because I am so incredibly thankful for this baby, and my heart aches for all those I know who are dying for be able to experience the misery of pregnancy illness, but I really don't know how I can do this for another 6 months!?!?!?" Luckily, my husband had faith it really was going to  get better, and tried to help me focus on the future. And of course, he was right. I haven't thrown up since our trip to the beach. I won't tell that story just yet. Trust me, it deserves its own chapter in this history book.

So here is a brief life recap! The end of the summer found me still sleeping most evenings, or at least curled up on the couch. I have started trying to get a few work outs in a week. But as a pediatric nurse, I am on my feet all day, chasing kids (and their parents) around the office, so I am dead on my feet by the time I get home.

We made a trip back home for my (then) future-sister-in-law's wedding shower. I am about 15 weeks pregnant here.
Baby sis (yes, she is wearing heels, but so am I), mom, Nanny, me and Jenny (SIL)

Past, Present, and Future Elliott Women

Then we were off to the beach with my husband's family. A week of nothing but relaxing=just what the doctor ordered! More on this trip later, I promise! Here is a sneak peek! (16 weeks preggers)

Then it was back to K-town to help welcome back all our college students! In all honesty, I was pretty apprehensive about getting all involved in the ministry again this fall. I could not imagine my life without it, but I also was having a hard time envisioning my involvement with my current lack of energy or motivation. However, its been wonderful - of course!:) Intramurals are in full swing. Love these "kids!"

Then it was back middle TN for my brother Matthew's wedding.  Lots of amazing pictures to come. Here is a preview!:)
 Elliott Siblings. We took this same picture at my wedding rehearsal

 The Ross Family (two days shy of 19 weeks)

 The ever expanding Elliott Family

The only picture we managed to take on the wedding day

We were supposed to have our anatomy scan ultrasound, with the gender determination, along with our midwife appointment today. However, I got a call a few hours prior to the appointment stating they needed to reschedule! This appointment has been so anticipated by all our friends and family for 6 weeks now, and they call mere hours before the appointment requesting a reschedule!?!?! I might have gotten a tad emotional on the phone. Long story short, I finally convinced them that my husband and I had rescheduled our work schedules to allow this appointment, he was traveling back in from out of town and was leaving to go back out of town right after the appointment. And oh yeah - I am a first time mom, after a battle with infertility, who was used to seeing a doctor twice a week. I had to have some confirmation this baby was ok, after not seeing or hearing it for 6 weeks! I got the midwife appointment, but had to reschedule the ultrasound for Thursday. We did get to hear the world's most preciously amazing sound ever - our baby's heart beat!! All was right with the world at that moment!:) As disappointed as we are that we didn't get to see the baby, and know what pronouns to use when referring to our baby, we realize how much we have to be thankful for. We are pregnant, our baby is safe and growing, and I am having a healthy pregnancy! We can wait a few days without an ultrasound.

Until next time... hopefully it will only be a few days, instead of weeks!