Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our Chubby-cheeked Snuggler

Well, we had a 4-D ultrasound done a couple of weeks ago, hoping to get some good images of our growing baby girl. We had our reservations about doing the 4-D anyway because I didn't know what else that's floating around in there would be picked up on the scan and sometimes the images they get are a little scary looking, but we didn't want to look back and regret not doing it, so we went for it. At 30 weeks, it should have been a good time for it, but our little girl kept with her stubborn picture-taking nature and did NOT want to give us a good shot. She was snuggled up against the placenta and moving constantly. The poor tech was trying so hard to get her in a good position, but she just wouldn't cooperate. The shots we did get though revealed that our precious girl has the Flatt trademark of some seriously chubby cheeks. And she would smile for us (or wince - it was hard to tell, but we're going with that she was smiling!) It makes me happy to know she's a "snuggler" and perfectly content hanging out where she is right now, but I sure can't wait to get my hands on those sweet cheeks!

(Don't ask me why this precious picture is sideways. Just turn your head.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Non-Parenting Class

The stress of knowing you're going to be a parent for the rest of your life is pretty daunting. I feel like I should be reading book after book and taking classes on how to raise a child instead of just reviewing stuff I see on Facebook, but that's probably not going to happen. In fact, we're already off to a great start for "Parents of the Year" since we missed the sign-up to take childbirth and newborn classes. Whoops. But as far as parenting goes, luckily, a couple of things have fallen in my lap that may prove to be quite helpful.
An article title "Don't Carpe Diem" circulated the internet for quite awhile this winter, and I just loved it. Written by a self-proclaimed type-A persona, I immediately related even if I don’t yet have a toddler who is pulling the hair of the lady behind us in the grocery line. It’s a wonderful (albeit a bit long) story of resisting the guilt so many mothers experience on a daily basis. I need to learn some of these lessons now. Go here to read this great insight into motherhood. 

I also follow Lysa TerKeurst on her Proverbs 31 site. Her story is incredible – if you’ve never heard of her, heard her story, etc., you should totally take the time to check it out. She's honest and funny and gives a very down-to-earth approach for women to follow. Awhile back, she posted on her website a blog titled, “I don’t want to raise a good child.” Okay, now this is something I’m sure all mothers of young children can relate to at some point – being humbled beyond belief at something your child did. My time’s coming and I’m sure it will tip the scales of humiliation. But nonetheless, it grips my soul to remember that all of that humility is God building a better mama to parent a child that is going to single-handedly CHOOSE to follow God and His leading of their life. Isn’t that the whole purpose? (I can only imagine those of you who will come out of the woodwork to remind of these words when my child is streaking naked through a mall fountain...) Hopefully, when this does happen, (after an appropriate amount of disciplining, of course) that I do think back and remember that it is God that is going to write my story as a mama, not me. And because of that, I’m throwing conventional parent training to the wind and just using prayer as my guide for preparing to parent. I hope to have more “successes” than “failures” but not in the world’s eyes – in God’s eyes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

32 Weeks

So much for keeping up with monthly appointments - looks like I'm going to have two update posts. So it goes.

How far along: 32 weeks. And counting.

Size of baby: Our chubby cheeked beauty weighed 3 1/2 lbs at the 4D ultrasound two weeks ago, so by now she's probably well over 4 lbs.

Total weight gain/loss: I said before that I wasn't even going to include this section, but I have to mention that one morning, in a total moment of stupidity, I got on my scales at home. And then cried all the way to work. That's all that needs to be said about that.

Maternity clothes: Praise God for maxi dresses. I can wear a larger size of just regular dresses and be oh so comfortable. However, most of the maxi dresses I have are made out of floral prints, which effectively make me look like a walking bedspread. Thankfully, mom found me some other dresses that are solids and geometric prints that are a little better. Either way, when it's 400 degrees outside and I have to look decent at work, this is definitely the way to go. Everything else is mainly maternity pants and tops, for comfort. I'm just not one of these people that can pull off still wearing my regular clothes, especially not during the hot summer.

Yes, and I look just this cute.
 Gender: We joked with my doctor that we were having the 4D done to confirm it was in fact still a girl. It is, and we're thrilled waiting for our baby Ellyson Rose!

Movement: I'm fairly sure we will need to install gym equipment and tumble mats by the time she is 2 years old based on the gymnastic techniques she is perfecting in utero. I'm also convinced she thinks my bladder is that springboard thing that you hit when vaulting. It's a daily test of urinary strength. She also seems fond of doing calisthenics at 3 am - I'm totally worn out by the time I get up in the morning thanks to this tumbling and exercise routine that takes place when we should be sleeping. I certainly don't hope this timing translates to when she's awake after she's born. We're in trouble if that's the case. The times that she's still are the most intriguing to me - I started playing the piano for her and listening to classical music 6-8 weeks ago and I swear she's listening because she becomes so still. Even in church, she can be flipping about and then the music starts and she instantly is so still, as if she's trying to hear it better. I hope this means she will be soothed by music when she's born.

Sleep: I had a good run where I was sleeping pretty well from about week 22-26, but other than that, sleep is hit or miss. The worst things now are that laying flat makes me feel like I'm suffocating or when I get up to pee for the 400th time, I can't go back to sleep and stress until my alarm goes off, which makes for a really long day.

What I miss: I still miss my dear Advil pretty much on a daily basis, especially when my back or head hurt. I try not to think about the things I miss since I don't want to complain or feel sorry for myself for being pregnant, but there are a few things that I will be glad to get back to some semblance of 'normal' after she's born. I miss shopping for regular clothes and shoes. Especially shoes. So many cute sandals this year, and I can't shove my fat feet into anything but comfy flip flops. Yet thanks to Yellow Box and J Crew, I'm quite enjoying my flip-flop-wearing season. I also miss being able to do more than just one or two things on my list. I get exhausted just folding laundry or cleaning up the kitchen, and then I lose all motivation to keep going. I have to really talk myself into finishing whatever I'm working on. I hope my gumption to get stuff done comes back!

Cravings: Still nothing really definitive, but snow cones and any ice cream or frozen yogurt are pretty much my favorite right now! I still crave tomato-based things like anything Italian or vegetable-based. I eat a lot of chicken and rice, too. Anything citrus is top of my list too.
Symptoms: I've never been symptom-free, but symptoms were pretty mild during the weeks in the 20's. Now that baby girl is bigger and growing, and since it's hot outside, symptoms are really starting to pop up. I have pretty frequent back pain, Braxton Hicks contractions quite regularly, and the fatigue is getting worse by the day. But by far, the freakiest and most disturbing thing I'm dealing with is SWELLING. Y'all, EVERYTHING is bigger - even my jewelry fits on my neck and wrists differently, but the worst is my feet and ankles. They're pitiful. I feel like a sponge - forget the whole idea that drinking more water will help you retain less because some days it just blows me up like a tick.

Best moments: There have been a lot of moments that I have really enjoyed the blessing of carrying a baby, despite some of the less-than-fun things that come with being pregnant. One thing in particular I remember as being really cool was the day Michael could actually see her move. He had a pretty difficult time being patient enough to feel her move, but one night I had pulled my top tight around my belly and she gave us a little show, punching and kicking enough to see it. He was totally amazed and so happy to finally see evidence of her growing in me.

Other news: My appointment Thursday wasn't one of my best - everything still looks good with the baby, so that's good, but I had a horrendous day that day where NOTHING was right - traffic was a nightmare on my way into work, work has overwhelmed me to the point that ended up sitting at my desk and crying for two hours, the stuff to be done at home keeps piling up around us and Michael's work schedule is just not conducive for baby-gear marathons or home improvement projects that need to be done - it was all just a little much and on top of not sleeping, I had reached a breaking point. So I left the appointment with a note from my doctor to my boss, like a child being sent home from Kindergarten with a note to their parents, stating that if I didn't cool-it at work, I would be forced to go on leave. I was both relieved and terrified - I know I desperately need to calm down and begin slowing down during these last weeks, but terrified of how it's going to be received at work that I'm not at full tilt. It takes everything in my overachieving self not to just keep committing to projects and then do everything to pull them off, etc, so this is kind of like admitting defeat. (I know it's not and that I actually have to consider baby girl's health as well as my own, but it's still hard. I had no idea I cared this much.) But either way, armed with my note and a new prescription to help me sleep, I felt a little better about facing July head-on, whereas before the appointment I was ready to throw in the towel. I can't say it enough, thank God for the blessing of my doctor. I'm fairly sure she thinks I'm crazy and far too naive for my own good, but I'll take it as long as she'll put up with me.

And finally, dealing with this weather is also pushing my buttons, and I fear know that the worst is yet to come. I was so thrilled to see that next week a cool down in the forecast for a few days (Hallelujah!), but then all of a sudden the high jumps to 98. 98 degrees. What kind of cruel joke is that? I guess I should just be thankful I don't live in Texas!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Migraine Monologues

I’m pretty sure this pregnancy began with a migraine. Once we knew we were expecting and started looking back to figure dates and so forth, I realized that one particular weekend I had a massive migraine – one that could easily have been caused by a severe hormonal shift. That said, I was fearful of what the rest of the pregnancy would hold in terms of consequential migraines, knowing that such ‘hormonal shifts’ were going to be my norm for the next 35 weeks. I’ve been blessed, though – what I have experienced has been mild for the most part, but I haven’t made it through unscathed. I “journaled” about the first migraine I had after knowing I was pregnant:

Friday January 20, week 10 - I guess my poor system had just had enough. I was scheduled to pick up a coworker on my way into work that morning. Obviously, I knew I would have to leave early in order to get us both to work on time, so I tried to prepare accordingly. (It probably goes without saying that arriving at work on time is kind-of a rarity for me, pregnant or not. Pregnancy and related morning sickness issues made the problem even worse.) After changing clothes 4 times, I rushed out of the house and desperately attempted to freeze time so I could get across town to pick up my friend, I realized I did not feel well. I chalked it up to lack of sleep or hunger or just a regular bout with nausea, but I just did not feel well at all. I finally made it to get my coworker and we trucked in - a good ten minutes late.
I can’t tell you how we arrived – I don’t remember much, if any of the trip. I remember him talking a lot about work and wishing he would stop and then deciding that the silence would be worse, so I just let him talk. While I was focusing on not barfing all over the car, I was also internally beating myself up for making him late. I mean, BERATING myself for being so irresponsible. Once I made it to my desk, I just sat and cried for at least ten minutes. I thought it would help, but I was starting to feel even worse. I decided I needed some breakfast and that eating would possibly help me feel better.

I went to the kitchen to fix my chicken biscuit, and I remember thinking how it seemed so bright…should have been my first clue...but I just fixed my biscuit and went back to my desk to attempt to eat. Still upset about the events of the morning and not wanting to be at work, I tried to calm down and “enjoy” my breakfast. I checked my email and quickly realized I couldn’t see the whole screen. And then I knew: I was getting a migraine, and not a slight one, based on the size and scope of this now very noticeable aura. I immediately burst into hysterical crying and actually sat in the floor behind my desk so no one would see this ridiculous outburst of emotion until I could get it under control. I got so emotional because I had previously convinced myself that since probably 60-70% of my migraines are primarily caused by hormones, I just knew this meant the worst –that my hormones were ‘bottoming-out’ and that the pregnancy was in danger. Even if that worst-case scenario didn’t happen to pan out, I was still panicked because I had no idea HOW I was going to deal with the impending pain and anxiety that always accompanies these lovely headaches. If ever I had been a wreck, today took the cake.

Knowing that there was absolutely no way I could continue working in this condition, I made the rounds to tell necessary people that I needed to leave (still a wreck) and then made my way back to my office to call my mom to come get me because by this time, I had no ability to focus or even make-out full objects – I was virtually blind. Still crying, I gathered my stuff and headed out to wait for my mom, like a kid going home sick from school. I was so embarrassed, but I had no choice – I couldn’t fathom driving (and am not supposed to anyway). When she arrived, I loaded in and kept crying. She tried to console me and remind me that SURGES in hormones can also cause the migraines, not necessarily drops in hormones. Now with my mom (who doesn’t want their mom when they’re scared and sick?), I started to calm down a little and getting to their house (a comforting environment) certainly helped a lot. I laid down and mom took my blood pressure, just to be sure the migraine didn’t have any bearing on that which would cause concern and a needed call to my OB. It checked out fine, so I tried to get comfortable as she “mama’ed” me and gave dad instructions to take care of me before she went back to work.

As a side note, lying down with a migraine is unsettling for me. I don’t know if it’s the drop in pressure on/in my head or the partial release of some tension or what, but I always feel like I’m falling out of my skin – like I’m sinking. It’s very unsettling and hard for me to rest when I feel like that. Sometimes it’s almost like I can’t breathe – like my chest collapses with that same sinking feeling. Today was no exception, and with all of the anxiety of the pregnancy, it was everything I could do not to get upset all over again because of such uneasiness.

As the vision aura subsided and the pain started, I realized my trusty concoction of muscle-relaxers and heavy-duty pain meds would have to be abandoned. I took the only things I knew I could, Tylenol and Zofran, and said a prayer that the pain wouldn’t kill me. My prayers must have been answered because I was able to go to sleep, and slept for a few hours, waking up to what I was surprised to equate to moderate pain. Thank the Lord.

Getting home that night wasn’t easy and ended up being the result of a “critical” decision to use the good ‘ole stand-by migraine remedy of caffeine to help me wake-up enough to drive. (Deciding to drink a Coke was like making a life or death decision as it was discussed and researched for a good 30 minutes before I took my first sip. Funny the things that seem so dire when you’re in early pregnancy.)

Then, on Friday April 20, (what’s up with the Friday-the-20th???) I developed what I thought was the onset of a regular migraine with a vision aura. It was different from a regular migraine, but I figured it just appeared different because of the pregnancy hormones, etc. I took Tylenol in anticipation of the pain and just went to bed hoping to sleep it off. However, the aura (which was a blind spot in my left eye) was not gone Saturday morning. I had developed a good bit of swelling (had never swelled before) and while I didn't feel great, I did not feel like I had a migraine. That started a whirlwind of doctor visits trying to rule out certain issues, both pregnancy and non-pregnancy related. By Monday afternoon, I felt like my eyeball had been ripped from it's socket so prodding in my brain could take place, and then the worked-over eyeball was replaced and I was sent home with a half-baked diagnosis of "We're not real sure what's going on here. Take care." My blood pressure is great, my swelling has subsided with A LOT of rest and water, and baby girl is moving like a champ, so my OB is happy. Nothing showed up on tests and scans of my eye, blood vessels from my brain, etc., so my eye doctor and subsequent specialists are stumped, but satisfied that I'm not experiencing an emergency. All of those things are good, but I'm left with a giant check-mark-shaped bright blind spot in my left eye causing me headaches and an endless amount of anxiety and frustration. Essentially, with nothing to blame.
I'll admit it - I lost it that weekend. I couldn't fathom living with this anomaly for very long, especially with no explanation or reassurance of when/how it will go away. I was to my breaking point for sure. For some reason, it's depressing. I don't know why, but it is - the frustration alone is enough to drag you down, but trying to carry on as if this blind spot not there is exhausting, especially when the headache accompanying it is nauseating. Jam a pen in your eye and bang your head against a wall for 20 minutes and that should be close to how I feel 90% of the time. FRUSTRATING.
Sure, the thought that it's pregnancy-related due to the enormous amount of blood a pregnant woman hauls around makes it a little more bearable because 1, it's worth it for me to be miserable as long as baby girl is happily oblivious to my dealings and 2, that means it's most likely temporary - that after her birth, this should go away. But no one can assure me of that. And that's just not cool. In the meantime, we're trying alternative therapies such as chiropractic and massage to try to ease the tension in my neck and shoulders, which could be the main cause of this whole ordeal. (Shocking - who would have thought I was tense?!) So far, it is helping, but the spot still lingers.
It could be worse and I'm well aware of that. I promised myself that if God ever gave us the gift of a pregnancy, that I would take the good with the bad and be thankful every moment I have with this life He's creating in me. I wish I could say I have honored every word of that, but I am human and some days are just hard. In spite of those hard days though, I have found a way to come to terms with everything that we DO have to be thankful for and I try my best to focus on those as much as possible. And one thing is for sure, only having one identified migraine in this pregnancy (so far) is a blessing in itself.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spring Things

Since I was on an accidental blogging hiatus during most of April and May, this is just a mild recap of our busy spring!

We celebrated the lovely spring holiday of EASTER!

The Easter Bunny even brought Ellyson Rose some goodies!

And the Easter Bunny couldn't forget Payne and Graycen.

I'll be honest, the day before Easter, everyone was talking about their excitement of celebrating our Risen Lord and their sentiments of gratitude for everything Easter represents, and I  don't know if it was hormones or what, but I just out of it and not fully dedicated to celebrating such a precious holiday. It was quite disturbing to me because as a Christian, I should be overjoyed to celebrate and I was worried I was going to sit through church the next day like a lump. Thankfully, I was able to worship and celebrate and was moved by the music and message, just I should have been. Baby Ellyson got in on the celebrating too - as the choir ended the service with the Hallelujah Chorus, she flipped and kicked like I had never felt before! Pure joy.

On April 9th, my precious husband turned 32! His birthday is usually jammed in with Easter or overlooked because we have so much going on at the turn of spring, and sadly this year it wasn't much different. We celebrated small with a dinner out and a few gifts at home. Regardless of big celebrations or not, I hope Michael knows how much I love and respect him on his birthday and every day!
A UK-theme is always welcome with this guy, but especially this year since they're national champions!

On April 12, we headed to Pigeon Forge for the boys to attend a car show and so we could get in some spring shopping!
But I almost thought I wasn't going to go. Our resident dog-sitter had a lot going on and couldn't keep the dogs so we had to board them at the vet. They both needed checkups and Dozer needed a dental cleaning and had an ear infection to tend to, so that worked out, but leaving them to be boarded for the first time proved to almost be too much for this emotional pregnant gal. I cried for 20 minutes after I dropped them off. The techs took their collars off for safety reasons and for some reason, that sent me over the edge because it looked like they were being left at the pound. It completely broke my heart. But we all survived, and the dogs seemed to have been okay and had a good time because they were absolutely exhausted when we got home. However, when I took Dozer to have some blood drawn for routine tests the other day, it was clear there was some lingering trauma as he clung to me like a leech. This act in dog parenting doesn't bode well for the days when I have to leave my baby!
But we still managed to have a great time, doing all kinds of fun stuff:

We did a little swimming at the hotel water park...
and did a lot of shopping!

We ate at our favorite places...
and went to Dixie Stampede for Michael's birthday!

The guys played golf...

and the girls slept in.

It was a super trip and we couldn't have ordered better weather! Since Michael and I chose not to "babymoon," this was the perfect alternative.

Then on April 20, we completed one of the last huge home renovation tasks by having all of the upstairs carpet replaced! It's amazing what a difference just having fresh, new carpet makes. And as an added bonus, I got to rid our garage of an eye-sore as the installers also hauled off our old, non-working lawn mower! We had set it at the road a couple of times with a "Make Offer" sign on it, hoping someone would at least want to haul it off for scraps, but no luck. So it had been taking up space and collecting dust in our garage for about a year. As the guys were passing through the garage to store the remnant carpet pieces, one of the guys asked how much we wanted for the mower. I told him if he hauled it off, he could have it. What happened next is something I wish I had gotten on video to post on YouTube. Like most carpet installers do, these guys had arrived in an oversized van. When I opened the proposition of taking the mower off our hands, they quickly got busy rearranging and adjusting the contents of the van so they could put the mower in the van with them. I was convinced there was no way it was going to happen, but sure enough they made enough space for the mower to fit and then hoisted the mower into the van and they were on their way, as if it were just a regular thing to do such a thing. It was hilarious. And the best part, I have about 20 more square feet in the garage! Probably enough room for a stroller and Power Wheels Barbie Mustang.
With the carpet done, we started painting the nursery, which led to a whole fiasco between me and the guys at the Porter Paint store. Now only Michael can tend to our paint needs thanks to that, but nonetheless, it got finished and the crib has been moved in since. Hopefully the next couple of weeks will lead to a complete room ready for our baby girl!

Michael did such a good job and I absolutely love the yellow. The room is so cheery and peaceful.

And finally, my mom has been perfecting her hobby of taking pictures after taking some classes this winter on using her camera, getting good shots, finding good lighting, etc. She's really gotten good and I have to share some of the great pics she took of my niece and nephew! I'm so excited she decided to do this before we had children - I will never have enough pictures!

Hope you all had a happy spring - (officially) bring on summer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Come Thou Fount

*Updates - with pictures - are coming soon I promise, (4D ultrasound on Friday!) but right now, my cup runneth over.

I cried happy tears tonight.

Life just doesn't get any sweeter than sitting on our deck listening to the Michael Buble Pandora radio station, feeling my growing baby kick and flip, enjoying insanely beautiful weather that I wish I could bottle up to save for the miserable days of summer ahead, keeping company to a husband who is home at a reasonable hour grilling all kinds of delicious meats and vegetables for dinner - the relaxation and contentment of the evening was almost too much for this high-strung, emotional gal to handle. I couldn't have been more thankful. Until I started thinking about how much our lives have changed in the last few years and then how much they're getting ready to change in just a couple of months. I offered up a prayer thanking God for that very moment admitting that I didn't know how to thank Him enough. As if on cue, the hymn "Come Thou Fount" (a lifetime favorite and our wedding postlude) came on the radio and I couldn't contain the emotions anymore. Even in spite of the doors behind me that need to painted, the growing collection of baby items invading our house that need storing, the laundry to be put away, and the other 400 things that seem to clutter a never-ending list of "to-do's" that I constantly have running through my head, for one moment soaking in every breath of simple blessings was my only purpose. It was a true taste of heaven.

Truly, come thou fount.
And thank you, Lord.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; 

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,

Mount of Thy redeeming love.

The End

My incessant need for closure has led me to post a final farewell to this blog. Blogging was a whole new concept for me when I logged on l...