Birthday Shoes and Pizza

When Dan and I first started getting to know each other, we sent emails about once a week while I was away at college. Once I came home for the summer, he kept wanting to get together but nothing just spontaneously worked out, so finally he had to call my house and ask me.

At the time of the phone call I was just about to eat some lunch, a bowl of leftover spaghetti. I answered the phone and was just lifting the first forkful to my mouth when Dan asked, “Have you eaten any lunch yet?” and I (after putting the fork down) honestly answered, “No”.

An hour later we were chatting over sandwiches at Quiznos, finally getting a chance to just sit and talk for the first time only a day before Dan would leave on a ten-day mission trip to Guyana. It wasn’t officially a date. We didn’t start dating for another year and a half. But it was the first date none-the-less. Now I have the joy of eating with Dan every single night, and seeing him every single morning and evening, and I love it.

I share this story because, 1) It’s a good story, and 2) Tuesday was Dan’s birthday, the day we celebrate all things Dan. We love him.

There may have been pizza involved.

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I may have tried to take a picture with just salad on the plate to keep the pizza a little family secret. The secret is out. There was pizza. Lydia went bazurk and Dan didn’t feel all that well afterward. Lesson learned.

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I guarded the cards and gifts zealously for days leading up to this celebration, but finally the time came when Abby…er…Dan got to open presents.

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But, slow down. Cards first. Always.

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Then presents.

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Dan got some much-needed new shoes (barefoot shoes, see how they bend?), weightlifting shoes, and his old jump rope. The girls loved the jump rope but were unimpressed with the shoes. Dan loved the shoes but took the jump rope from the girls because it was getting a little dangerous.

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Dan thanks everyone for their kind birthday thoughts, words, and prayers. Apart from the post-pizza-unwellness, I think he had a nice day. We certainly enjoyed it as we enjoy him every day. And, we were all happy that Baby did not join us for the celebration.

10 Things I’m Looking Forward to When Baby Comes

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Yesterday Baby reached the 28-week milestone we weren’t sure we would get to celebrate. Because I think it’s interesting, I’ve included the picture of me when Abby was 28 weeks (on the left) and the picture of me at 28 weeks with Baby 3 (on the right). We are still:

3 days from when Abby was born
19 days from when Lydia was born
27 days from our goal

A little while ago I shared some of the reasons I love being pregnant, but I’m also excited for when Baby is born, whenever that may be. So today I’m sharing some of the things I am most looking forward to (in no particular order). But, we’d be happy to wait another month before enjoying these!

1. Meeting Baby

I am so excited watch the story of Baby’s birth unfold, to find out his/her length and weight. Will s/he have hair? Will it be curly? Will Baby look like me or Dan (or neither)? When will Baby come? So many questions will finally be answered when we get to meet our little bundle.

2. Being able to breath again

I always have trouble breathing from pretty early on in my pregnancies. Maybe it’s Baby’s position or maybe I have little lungs, but without doing any physical activity I’ll struggle to breath. During church I’m constantly changing positions, leaning forward, backward, to the side, getting up to go the the bathroom, anything to get a little more air. After Baby is born, it is always nice to breath freely again.

3. Doing my job again

Dan has been doing a fantastic job with the housework and taking care of the girls, but I’m ready to have my job back. I’m partly afraid I’m going to get so used to his doing everything that it becomes a habit I have to break. Someday I’ll be the one to wash the dishes, give the kiddos baths, and change the sheets again. And while I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed with work when that time comes, at least I’ll be able to give Dan back some freedom in the evenings!

4. Choosing a name

We have two boy names and two girl names and we probably won’t narrow it down any more than that until we actually get to meet him/her. I used to think it was strange if people didn’t have the name picked out earlier in the pregnancy, but when Lydia surprised us and we hadn’t finalized our name, my perspective changed. Now it feels strange to pick out a name before seeing Baby.

5. Exercise

As much as I like taking it easy, I’m eager to move again. I love going for walks. After Baby is born, Dan usually becomes my coach and helps me figure out what sort of exercising I can do to get some strength back and feel fit again. As a nice perk, I will fit in to more than two pairs of my pants.

6. Bringing Baby home

Whether Baby stays in the hospital for months, weeks, or days (I vote for the latter), bringing Baby home is always super exciting and super special.

7. The first time holding him/her

Oh how I hope this will be the same day s/he is born, but even if it’s not, it’s always special that first time we get to hold him/her.

8. Meals from church!

I have to be honest here. When Lydia came home from the hospital, we got two weeks of delicious dinners delivered right to our home by families from our church. When the meals were over, I thought to myself, “I can’t wait until the next baby comes home!”. We eat better during those two weeks than any other time.

9. Having Dan around

My favorite part of being married is that I get to see Dan every day. Most of our relationship before we were married was long-distance, or we were both too swamped with heavy college work loads to see each other. I’ve never fully recovered, so anytime Dan is around is a happy time for me. Dan also has a gift of being the most amazing support person during labor and delivery, and in the days that follow. He just knows how to be sweet and helpful, and what to do and say to make me feel loved. I’m not sure what kind of time Dan will take off when Baby is born or when Baby comes home, but I’m looking forward to having him around on those days.

10. Finding out if it’s a boy or girl

This is the first time we’re going to be surprised, and I’m pretty excited for the moment labor ends and I get to hear our doctor announce if it’s a boy or girl.

Our Much-Loved Routine

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I’ve tried a lot of different routines over the past few years. They keep me productive, help the day pass more quickly, and add a happy and welcome structure to each day. Often, I have stumbled through my routines getting stuck on the fun activities and putting off the boring ones until I was rushing around trying to finish everything at the end of the day. However, the girls and I figured out a routine that was working just beautifully for us until last Friday when we rearranged things so I could be off my feet more. We’ve adapted our routine, and it isn’t as ideal now, but I wanted to document this favorite routine of ours while the memories were still fresh.

A Day In Our Lives

7:30 Quiet Time

At 7:30 my alarm goes off. I usually take a while to wake up, then sit up in bed and turn on my handy lamp, pull out my Bible, journal and pen, and start my quiet time. I like to start with about 10 minutes of memorizing or reviewing memorized verses (I’m working through Psalm 37 right now), then have 10 minutes of Bible reading (I’m reading through the Bible now, at least a chapter a day, and recording observations about the characteristics of godly women in the Bible), and end with 10 minutes of prayer (praying through a regular list of needs and people along with whatever else is going on in our lives that day or week).

Usually during this time Lydia comes pitter-pattering into my room to snuggle with me under the covers. She especially likes to hold my Bible case and journal, suck her thumb, and hold my hair. If she doesn’t wake up on her own, I wake her up before I pray, because she’ll be sorely disappointed if she misses out on our Bible time together.

8:00 Morning Routine

Throw laundry in the washing machine, empty the dishwasher, and prepare breakfast. Then get Abby up and get both girls dressed for the day. Say goodbye and send Dan off to work.

8:30 Breakfast and Bible Time, switch laundry to dryer

After breakfast, I read to Abby out of a little Bible story book and to Lydia out of a bigger story Bible. We’re currently reading through this book, which I recommend for little girls. We also pray for something specific (currently for Baby to “not be born today” and for Dan to get into a phd program), and sing a Bible memory song (reviewing Romans 3:23-24 this week).

9:15 Shower, play with Abby, do gymnastics with Lydia

9:45 Cleaning Chore

Monday: Tidy up, put things in their proper places
Tuesday: Change sheets
Wednesday: give baths and clean bathrooms
Thursday: Clean floors
Friday: Do something extra (clean fridge, floors upstairs, dust etc.)

10:15 Read to girls, Put Abby down for a nap

10:45 Computer chores

Write blog posts, update budget, pay bills, plan meals and make grocery lists, put pictures on Facebook.

11:15 School with Lydia

We’re working through this book. It’s just a little every day and we really enjoy it.

11:30 Get Abby up, Correspondance

This is when I try to stay on top of things as far as emailing, writing, and calling family and friends.

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Fold and put away laundry

I used to have the hardest time with laundry. I could get it washed and dried easily enough, but I waited to fold it until the end of the day and then, more often than not, I never got to it. But when I changed things around and started folding laundry after lunch, suddenly it got done every day.

1:30 Rest, read, and naps

This used to be straight up nap time, but the girls would play and giggle for so long that they didn’t fall asleep for at least half an hour (sometimes an hour and a half!). So I started bringing up some tea and spent that first half hour reading with my cup of tea while the girls played in their room. As the half hour ended, the girls would quiet down and when all was quiet I would nap too.

3:30 Project

I don’t feel too bad admitting that I take an hour and a half nap because I’m supposed to be taking it easy. (Right?) I’ve read that you should either nap for 15-20 minutes or for a full hour and a half to wake up energized and not groggy. So I take the whole hour and a half, but it is usually interrupted by Lydia needing to go potty. Ah well. After my nap the girls are often still asleep so I take half an hour to work on a project around the house.

4:00 Snacks and Adventures in Odyssey

The girls need a snack after their nap and then Lydia is usually still sleepy enough to want to snuggle. So we snuggle and listen to the day’s episode of Adventure in Odyssey online.

4:30 Make Dinner

6-ish Dinner and Bible Time as a Family

The schedule kind of falls apart from here on. Dan’s not as big into routines as I am, so I let the evening go with his leading. Sometimes we read a book together after dinner. Sometimes the girls need baths. Sometimes we just play.

8ish Bedtime for the girls

You know, the usual bedtime routine, brush teeth, change diaper(s), put on pajamas, wrap up in warm blankets and tell stories and sing songs. Most nights Lydia asks for a “Billy story” (stories that Dan makes up about a fictional boy named Billy who is obsessed with playing baseball) or a “Melissa story” (stories that I tell about a fictional girl named Melissa, but the stories are actually 95% straight out of my own life). On good nights she’ll get both. Then she asks me to sing a certain song (“The Bunny Song” is a favorite but lately she has also enjoyed “Away in a Manger” even though Christmas has passed). While I sing, she insists I lay down with her so she can hold my hair. Afterward she asks me to “Stay and rest for a while”. Then we turn on a music cd, turn off the lights, and head downstairs.

Sadly, now that I’m avoiding the stairs as much as possible, I no longer get to take part in the bedtime routine. Only for a season…

The Rest of the Night

The rest of the night is just for Dan and I. Sometimes we play the game: Go, or read a book together. Sometimes he works on projects and I read.

And so our happy day comes to a close. I miss our routine already, but know it’s for a season and will be worth it if Baby waits longer to be born. I also know this routine won’t be back for a long time. First there will likely be a season in the NICU. Then we’ll have a newborn at home with the usual sleepless nights, fussy times, and adjusting to having another little one. I’m sure there will be other seasons with happy routines, and someday I’ll probably look back on this and laugh at how easy we had it while the kids were so little and our lives so simple!

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Changes: 27 Week Pregnancy Update

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Anyone like me enjoys seeing the numbers, so here are the latest countdowns.

6 days until I reach the 28 week milestone.
10 days until I reach the gestation when Abby was born.
26 days until I reach the gestation when Lydia was born.
34 days until I reach my 32 week goal.

Every day counts.

Friday I had another prenatal appointment, and it was the one we have been expecting and sort of dreading.

First of all, the resident who started my appointment measured my belly at 32 centimeters, which would put me at 32 weeks. As much as I would love to be at 32 weeks, I was only 26 and 4, so she decided to let our doctor remeasure me and she went on with the ultrasound.

While I lay on my back for the ultrasound I started to feel sick, really sick and really fast. I tried to just wait it out, but the resident was having trouble finding what she needed and I eventually had to ask to sit up for fear that I might faint if I waited any longer. (This is a normal part of pregnancy and occurs in about 20% of pregnant women. This is also why pregnant women are told to sleep on their sides, not their backs)

A few minutes later our doctor came in and remeasured the belly, but still measured me at 31 cm. It must have been the way Baby was positioned so he decided to double check with the ultrasound machine and measure Baby’s belly. This time he propped me up on a pillow on my side, which helped a little. He worked quickly and took a rough measurement of Baby’s belly measuring at a whopping 28 weeks. So it looks like Baby is bigger than Lydia and Abigail were (they were both very average). Some more ultrasound images showed that my body is indeed preparing for labor. We observed the same changes with Abigail and she was born five days later. This time, we’ve taken extra precautions, so we just have to wait and see if Baby 3 follows in Abby’s footsteps or gives us a little more time.

Since the appointment, I have been trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. No one really knows if this will make any difference, but it’s all we can do at this point. Dan has taken over washing dishes, putting away laundry, giving baths, cleaning, getting the girls up in the morning and ready for bed at night, and cooking on weekends. He’s considering asking to work from home more so he can help when it’s time to carry Abby upstairs or cook dinner. In fact, we’ve optimized our routine to such an extent that I’m only walking up the stairs once or twice a day.

Every night I go to bed half expecting to wake up at midnight in labor. Every little ache and pain puts us on the alert, paying careful attention to decide, could this be it? Baby could come today. Baby could come in a month. All we can do is wait and pray.

A lot of people have been asking the question: Is it safe yet? My honest answer to that question is this: 37 weeks is considered full term. Even a term baby is born with risks, but anything earlier than 37 weeks is indeed preterm and that’s just not great. Of course, we aren’t expecting to get that far, so maybe these numbers are more helpful: about 90% of babies born at 27 weeks survive the first year. Twenty eight weeks is a significant milestone when babies do remarkably better, spend less time in the NICU, and have a decreased risk for preemie-related problems. About every two weeks mark another similar milestone.

We’d love to make it another week. We’d love to make it past Abigail’s gestation or Lydia’s. And I would be thrilled to make it to 32 weeks. Right now we are just doing the best we can with the knowledge we have, hoping, praying, and trusting that God’s plan and timing are best.

My 10 Favorite Things About Being Pregnant

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I realize not everyone gets to experience the miracle of pregnancy. And for those of us that do, it’s far too easy to list all of the hardships that come along with these months of waiting. Since I don’t know how long I’ll get to enjoy having Baby safe inside of me, I wanted to list a few of my favorite things about being pregnant.

1. Baby is safe.

I know bad things can still happen before or after Baby is born, but I am enjoying this time when Baby is where s/he should be. Every morning I wake up and thank God for another day before Baby is born. Every time I have trouble sleeping because Baby is kicking, my joints hurt, or I just can’t catch my breath, I remember how much better this is than watching Baby hooked up to all sorts of tubes and wires in the hospital. Stay in there Baby!

2. Snacks. All the time.

Right now I eat sort of like a cow and no one really gives me a hard time about it. Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, snack before naps, snack after naps, dinner, bedtime snack. And, if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, sometimes I get a snack then too.

3. Sleeping through the night.

My kids have a pretty bad track record as far as sleeping through the night. Although, God really answered my desperate prayers when we found out we were pregnant, and Abby was still getting up twice a night. She was weaned and sleeping through the night by the time I hit 17 weeks. Lydia, on the other hand, didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost two, so I am savoring these sleep-filled nights before Baby comes.

4. Quiet.

Our kids aren’t really quiet, but there are certainly moments of quiet throughout the day and during the night. I’m fully aware that our babies usually come with a nice long fussy time in the evenings, something we don’t have to deal with right now. Our girls enjoy eating dinner and playing before bedtime, then go down pretty easy so Dan and I get some time to ourselves. As much as I’m looking forward to having Baby here and even hearing that little cry, I’m enjoying the quiet for now.

5. High hopes.

As long as Baby is in my belly I can imagine anything I want for his/her birth. Maybe I’ll make it to 32…34…36 weeks. Maybe I’ll get to have an all-natural delivery where we don’t have to rush to the hospital in a state of emergency because my water broke at 28 weeks. Maybe we will, but for now I get to hope for the best.

6. Our routine.

We’ve settled into such a lovely routine around here. I look forward to starting each new day, the moments with the girls, moments to myself, everything running more or less like clockwork. I know once baby comes that routine is going to be out the window, NICU or not, and my main focus will be keeping everyone alive and getting enough sleep.

7. Always having something to talk about.

I don’t get out much. Sundays are church and Wednesdays are Hope Group. Since I’m supposed to be “taking it easy” I try to stay off my feet in the minutes or hours following the service/study, and during that time different people usually stop by to chat. Small talk isn’t always easy for me but with Baby on the way I always have plenty to talk about. 🙂

8. Taking it easy.

Lately I’ve been taking a long nap almost every day. In the afternoons I sometimes take a moment to decide what to do next. Then I remind myself that I’m supposed to be “taking it easy” so I’ll curl up and read to the girls or listen to Adventures in Odyssey with them. No guilt. I’m taking care of baby. And I’m fully aware that when Baby comes, especially if s/he comes early, I won’t be nearly as able to take it easy.

9. Time with our girls

When Abby was born, Dan and I were suddenly torn away from Lydia for long periods every day. Even when we were with her we were busy with NICU things, necessary chores, and napping. Mentally we were distracted and stressed and it affected her too. So I am enjoying this season to enjoy my girls, snuggle them, love on them, and give them my time while I have time to spare.

10. The anticipation.

It hit me just the other week that we’re going to have another little person in our family! It may seem strange, but with all the focus on prenatal visits, extra ultrasounds, steroid shots, and preparing for a potential NICU stay, there hasn’t been a lot of time left to think about actually having another baby. So the other day I pulled out the Newborn clothes and separated everything that was gender neutral. Soon we’ll have a little one to snuggle, feed, and play with. Soon the girls will get to enjoy another little baby in the house and Abby will get to be a big sister for the very first time. And soon we’ll have to actually decide on a name! (We’re pretty much down to four names, two girl and two boy.) We’re enjoying these moments of quiet and routine, lying low and hoping for the best, but we’re also excited to meet our new little family member, whenever the time comes for him/her to arrive.

Abby Update: 16 Months Old

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Abby is 16 months old now and she’s learning new moves! During the past month Abby started pulling herself up on things and now she loves to stand every moment she gets. The race is on to see if Abby will beat Lydia in learning to walk. Lydia didn’t walk until 21 months, but Abby looks like she might just beat her. Only time will tell.

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Abby still army crawls using her one armed, one legged method of getting around, I guess because she knows it works. However, she can now push herself up on all fours back into a sitting up position. I’ve also caught her trying out crawling on all fours, but that hasn’t taken off just yet.

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Abby has also located the nose. If we ask her, “Abby, where’s my nose?”, she’ll happily point it out for us. She has yet to find her own nose though.

She still love to eat. It’s probably her favorite activity. She likes to eat as soon as she wakes up in the morning or after any naps, and if you put her in her high chair with food on the table, she will not tolerate waiting any length of time for her meal.

Abby still keeps us smiling and laughing. She is far less cautious than her older sister and may even be more independent than Lydia, if that’s possible. She’s happy to play by herself for any length of time as long as she isn’t hungry or tired. She’s as smiley as ever and is always adding joy to our days.

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Treading Dangerous Waters: 25 Week Pregnancy Update

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I am now in the phase of this pregnancy my doctor recently referred to as “dangerous waters”: 20-28 weeks. As far as preemies go, 28 weeks is a huge milestone we really want to reach (and pass). So far, so good. Baby is staying put and there have been no signs of coming labor. Good job, Baby!

Three main things have happened since the last update.

First of all, Baby has been breech in every ultrasound from 10 weeks up to my last update, at 22 weeks. Happily for me, Baby flipped shortly after the last update and has been head-down during both of our most recent prenatal visits.

Abigail had to be delivered via c-section because she was breech. While it’s sometimes possible to deliver term babies in a breech presentation, this would be especially dangerous for a preemie. According to my doctor, I have a 50% chance of having a breech baby, so this was a concern of mine over the past several weeks. Somewhere between some baby-flipping exercises, Baby’s own desire to be upside-down, and (most importantly) lots of prayer, our Baby has flipped and will hopefully stay that way. (And for a nice long time too!)

Second, I have packed a hospital bag. I don’t know if this is a big step for most people or not, but for us it is. I’ve never made it far enough along in a pregnancy to do any nesting or preparing for birth. With both of our girls, my water broke and Dan had to scramble around gathering some items before we rushed to the hospital. This time, I planned far ahead and put together as much of my hospital bag as possible, along with a list of some last-minute items for Dan to throw in if we have another surprise labor.

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Along with the hospital bag, we’ve also lined up babysitters for the girls for whenever I do go into labor. This is a huge burden off my back; I feel like I can really just relax and be ready for Baby to come whenever s/he is ready.

Finally, we got our betamethasone shots! For those who are unfamiliar, this is a shot that comes in two doses, given 24 hours apart, that helps prepare Baby’s lungs in case Baby does come early. Baby’s lungs are one of the last things to develop in utero, so breathing is the first and biggest obstacle most preemies have to face. Getting this set of steroid shots gives Baby an easier time learning to breath early. I got the first dose of the shot with both Lydia and Abigail while I was in labor, but it was too late to do any good. This Baby has his/her full dose and will be set for the next 6 weeks.

Baby is moving around a lot, more than I remember with Lydia or Abby. Baby also feels big. I was concerned about this over Christmas and kept telling Dan, “I just feel like Baby is running out of room.” After a couple nights of this, Dan pointed out to me that all pregnant women probably feel like they’re running out of room. That doesn’t mean Baby is coming tonight, this week, or even this month. We certainly hope not.

In our ultrasounds, Baby is measuring about 4 days big for his/her age, and everything looks normal. No signs of labor. No signs of complications. And there is plenty of amniotic fluid.

Here’s Baby’s latest picture. It’s a little hard to see, but Baby’s head is sideways and the left side is in shadow. You can see Baby’s chin (on the left), nose, and his/her right eye (near the top of the picture), which looks shut. Baby just might have been sleeping when this picture was taken. 🙂

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