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Happy Thanksgiving! 

When certain holidays come around, I struggle with teaching my students about them in a way that honors those who experienced great pain while not trashing those who were victorious in their efforts to conquer. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but I can’t help but think of all the people who’ve been pushed aside and displaced as a result of the appearance of colonists. 

In my classroom, I spent a lot of time this month teaching my kids about various Native American tribes. We looked at maps of tribal territories, read stories from the Lakota and Blackfoot tribes, talked about (and built) various types of tipis, played “memory,” with home made Native American symbol cards, talked about foods that Native Americans ate (and sorted them into food groups), and learned a few words from different tribes. I wanted to honor Native Americans for who they are as people, outside of and apart from their relations with colonists. I wanted my students to learn about Native American cultures without making the native Americans into some sort of cliche art project. 

My friend Shannon at The After Crafter enjoys crafting with her toddler, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving and honoring all things Native American, I asked if she could share her totem pole crafts here on Whole Heart. I really love that she researched both the meaning of totem poles and the symbolism of the various animals used in her totem pole as part of creating her project. Here is some of what she learned:

“I️ have always had a fascination with totem poles. They look so mystic, like they are patiently waiting to reveal a library of stories to anyone willing to listen. When my friend spoke to me about doing a craft commemorating Native Americans, I knew immediately this is what I would make. Here are some neat things I found out:

🍗Totem poles are sculptures carved into large trees by only SIX tribes of indigenous peoples of the Northwest coast of North America.

🍖The poles are carved and painted with figures or animals that represent families or clans, and are believed to have spiritual significance as a guardian or helper.

🥐 Every color used on the poles have meanings, as do the figures carved on the poles. The Symbols for every animal or spirit carved on the pole also have meaning and when combined on the pole, in sequence, constitute a story, legend or myth.

While planning my pole I decided to let my daughter choose the four animals we would make. Just for fun I looked up the meaning of each animal totem to see what our story would be.

🐇: Pour your energy into creative pursuits

Those with a rabbit totem are spontaneous and unpredictable. They have fast reflexes, and good coordination. They are gentle and nurturing yet also clever and quick witted.

🦉: Listen to your inner voice and watch for signs that will guide you forward. Use wisdom.

🐻: It’s only when you can say a clear no that you can say a clear yes. Both are just as important in defining what your boundaries are. Those with a bear totem have great confidence and are seen as an authority figure.

🐘: You already have all the tools you need to accomplish what you desire, just go for it. Elephant totems are highly intelligent. Family and loyalty are important.

Making our totem pole was really fun and a great learning experience. Make sure to comment below and tell us your totem experiences!”

Check her out! https://m.facebook.com/thehealthycrafter/

As a teacher, I love learning and teaching about various cultures and finding ways to honor them without voiding the authenticity and meaning behind the art form. I am grateful for the various Native cultures and I hope to continue learning about them, not just during the Thanksgiving season! 

Have a happy and safe holiday! 

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Hobbies and goals

Publishing a Book!

In 2010, I took a class on curriculum development and instruction for the young child. As part of the course, I wrote a cute little rhyme to help teach children lunch time manners in a classroom setting. At the time, my professor suggested that I get the story published, but I sort of eye-rolled at the thought of ever doing anything with it.

I’ve always been a writer. Aside from blogging, I have journals full of stories, poems, con-languages, con-worlds, and random thoughts about life and spirituality. I’ve found that, when it comes to my writing, I’m often too much of a perfectionist to think about getting published. I once wrote a 27 chapter novel and deleted the entire thing simply because I didn’t like a few details (I regret that, by the way, and won’t ever do that again)! So, when my professor suggested I get something published, I pushed the idea out of my mind and barely gave it another thought.

Fast forward seven years, and “Lunchtime,” the story I wrote for class, is scheduled to be released on December 5th! I’ve been working with Mascot Books, and they have been really helpful in walking me through the publishing process.

Since I announced the publishing of this story, a lot of people have told me that they have always wanted to publish something. Often, what holds them back is finding the time to complete a manuscript. And then, I imagine, the cost of publishing might be a bit of an obstacle.

In regards to completing a manuscript, I know that can be difficult. There are so many things I want to write, but finding the time is incredibly hard. I am still learning to manage my time appropriately, because there are so many things that I want to do in life that I “don’t have time” for. The thing is, though, we all get the same 24 hours in a day. And any accomplishment you achieve in life will not come without sacrifice.

In regards to the costs of publishing, for our family it wasn’t cheap. My husband has been amazing in supporting me through this without complaining about the cost. One night, I apologized to him about what I was spending for this book, and he simply responded with – “But what will it cost us if you don’t publish?”

If you have something valuable to give to the world, what does it cost you to keep it to yourself? And, perhaps more importantly, what will it cost the world?

I love seeing people reach their goals, and it is exciting to be able to cross one of my goals off the list. I want to encourage you, whatever it is you’re wanting to achieve, to buckle down and follow through with it!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in a copy of “Lunchtime,” let me know via email at wholeheartblog@gmail.com or on Facebook at Whole Heart Blog. While you’re at it, let me know what your goals are, and how I can support and be praying for you!

Thanks for reading!

Diet and Nutrition, Physical Fitness

On Becoming a Vegetarian

My husband and I recently decided to become vegetarians. For years, I’d been considering this change, but felt gun-shy because I didn’t think it was a choice that I would be able to actually follow through with. It’s only been a month since we made this decision, and it hasn’t been without its challenges, but it’s been a lot easier to follow through with than I thought it’d be! I wanted to share the reasons I made this choice, some of the challenges it brings, and some of the things I am learning as a result of doing this.

I’ve always found it interesting that, at least according to the Biblical account of creation, God originally only gave humans and animals permission to eat things that grow out of the ground (Genesis 1:29-30). We weren’t permitted by God to consume animals until after the flood (perhaps all the vegetation had been drowned out?). The fact that, in God’s original design of the human body, we only needed fruit and vegetables for sustenance speaks volumes to me about why we are not currently thriving in terms of the state of our collective health. Disease is rampant, and yet often times preventable simply through diet. I know we can’t control most of the things that happen to us in life, but if I can do my best to take care of this body that God gave me, to be around longer and to be healthy enough to do whatever it is that God might have me to do, I’d like to get on board with that!

Another concept that I’ve felt personally convicted of over the years is the concept of Ahimsa – or non-injury – to all sentient beings. This concept is adhered to in the Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. The basic idea is that we (humans, animals, and insects/bugs) are all in this together. These traditions go beyond showing love to your fellow man, but also showing love and care to anything that lives. I love the compassion in that, and I think it echoes what God intended when he told us that we were to be stewards over the earth (Genesis 1:28). Full disclosure, I am still working on letting bugs live when I find them in my house or my classroom– but I’m getting there!

Finally, it just isn’t healthy to eat the meat that is mass produced here in the United States. Our animals aren’t raised humanely, are fed products that are inconsistent with what’s healthiest for them, and then killed in (often times) tortuous fashion, and brought right to our dinner tables. I often wonder what is happening to our bodies when we are eating sick, traumatized, and depressed animals?

The challenge for us, in being vegetarians, is that it can be hard to plan and execute good meals. I work full time, we are both involved in activities outside of work, and we have a lot of things currently happening in the life of our family. In the past, when we were too tired to cook or plan dinner – we’d just go out and grab something quick and easy. That’s a lot harder to do when you are a vegetarian! Though I haven’t craved meat, I do suspect that abstaining from seafood will be a bit of a challenge for me. I love my lobster and crab legs in the summer! But I’ll just take it one day at a time and cross that bridge when I get there.

One of the things I am learning is how to cook differently, making vegetables as the main portion of the meal as opposed to them being a side dish. I am also learning to detach from food. A friend of mine who went paleo mentioned that she was learning this, too. And I have a better understanding of what she meant now, than I did when she first said it. Not that it’s bad to enjoy the food we eat, but I am learning that food is primarily for sustenance. In the past, the enjoyment of food (for me) took precedence over whether or not a particular food item was beneficial for my body. This realization surprised me, because I am not a foodie by any strtch of the imagination! But, by refocusing my purpose for eating (sustenance and not enjoyment), I am finding that I am not as attached to food as I previously had been. Which, I think, is a good thing!

A final thing that I am learning has to do with the difference between saying, “I’m a vegetarian,” and actually eating a plant based diet. Just because a person is a vegetarian doesn’t mean they are eating healthily! There was one day where all I ate was cheese pizza, popcorn, fruit snacks, and a Dr. Pepper. Those things are all technically “vegetarian” in the sense that I didn’t have any meat – but none of it is plant based! (And, I felt horrible at the end of that day).

Ultimately, I think being a vegetarian is the healthiest dietary choice for my body, and I want to do whatever will allow me to experience my body to its fullest potential!

Have you ever significantly changed your diet? And if you’re a vegetarian, send me your recipes!

Thanks for reading!

Arts and Crafts/Creativity

Designing My Classroom Door


For a preschool teacher, I  consider myself to be pretty terrible at art. I tend to shy away from wanting to design doors and big wall spaces, because I just don’t feel that I have the gift of visual creativity. This past week, however, I spent some time designing our classroom door for the Winter season and I was pretty impressed with myself and wanted to share!
One of our parents is an elementary school teacher and always brings in leftover things from her classroom that she thinks we can use. I am so grateful that her son is in our class because she has brought in so many useful toys, books, and craft materials. A few weeks ago, she brought in some perfectly cut snowflakes and I knew when I saw them that I would want to use them on our classroom door – I just wasn’t quite sure what type of design I would want, or how I would go about creating it.

As I was browsing Pinterest, I saw a really cute classroom door featuring owls, snow, and the words “Whoo baby, it’s cold outside !” I knew this idea would be perfect for our class, because we are the Owls.

I went around my school, looking for enough brown paper (to make the tree branches), and black paper to make it look like night-time.

We didn’t have any black board paper so I used a soft lilac color instead. I lined the door with purple paper, crinkled up the brown paper to make the tree look more realistic, and scattered the snowflakes and cotton balls around the door. We have about a million owl cut outs in our room, so I chose three to place in the tree branches.

One of the differences between our door and the pinterest door is that our door window is a lot wider. Instead of using letter stencils to write “Whoo baby, it’s cold outside,” I simply wrote it on our door with a glass marker.

Many times people joke about how their version of a pinterest creation pales drastically in comparison to the original, but I am  happy to be able to say that our door is just as good as the original on which it was modeled!

Here is a picture of the original that I found on Pinterest:


I don’t brag often, but this artistically challenged preschool teacher feels pretty good about our classroom door and all the compliments it has gotten!

Education, Teacher Fitness

School Days!

A few months ago, I started working in a new school – about ten minutes away from where we live – teaching a new age group! It’s definitely been an adjustment on several levels, but I am enjoying my new job and having a lot of fun there.

First, I don’t think I can overstate how hard it is to be a working mom! Kudos to all of the single moms out there, because I don’t think I could run a household, take care of a baby, and work a full time job without a supportive partner. And, on top of the nonstop list of things to get done in both the home and professional arenas, there is quite a bit of sadness that surrounds dropping your child off to be with someone else all day, and there is a constant tinge of guilt for missing out on your child’s day to day development and interactions. I am so thankful that our son loves his teachers and his classmates – I definitely would not have been able to keep this job if I felt that my son was unhappy there – since he is there for eleven hours a day! I’m also grateful that I am able to take him to work with me every day. His class is in a different building, but I still get the chance to go and visit him, which is important. Finally, I’m grateful for the one day off that I have in the middle of the week. It’s been such a blessing to find a job that allows me to have schedule like this – it’s great to be a fake stay at home mom once a week!

Another huge adjustment that I am getting used to is the ratio of class sizes in my new state. In my old state, ratios for preschool children were much lower. The class sizes here are huge! Sometimes I feel that the ratios here have affected my teaching ability. With so many children running around, it is hard to get the one on one time with each of my students. I am often unsure of whether or not I am doing an effective job, because I don’t always get the chance to have quality time with each of them – though I try! One thing that has really helped with this is splitting our class into small groups for learning activities, which really gives me a better chance to focus on each individual child.

I wanted to share some of the activities we’ve been doing over the past month! My co-teacher and I switch off in terms of who is planning all of the lessons and activities. For two weeks, she will run the show by planning all of the lessons and preparing all of the materials, and I will support her by keeping the classroom clean and organized and keeping the kids busy when she is setting up activities. After her two weeks ends, it’s my turn to plan and execute all of the lessons for two weeks – and she helps me out by keeping up with all of the essential “background” tasks that help keep a classroom running. It’s a good system and I think it works really well for us.

I haven’t been there very long, but so far I have been in charge of the “Fall on the Farm” theme and the “Travel and Transportation” theme.

I painted a barn and tried to turn our dramatic play area into a farm. By the end of the two weeks, we’d filled it with crafts of corn, pumpkins, and various animals. We planted pinto beans in cotton balls and watched them sprout, we took our toy farm animals outside and traced their shadows, we painted and made prints with vegetables, weighed pumpkin seeds and corn kernels, and much more. It was fun to see the kids get excited about the fall season.

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In the middle of all this, our school held its pumpkin patch event and the kids got to go out and pick pumpkins. We spent some time dissecting a pumpkin and learning more about what was inside of a pumpkin and what types of things could be done with pumpkin seeds.

For our Travel and Transportation week, I attempted to turn our dramatic play area into an airport. I didn’t do as great of a job with that as I had hoped to do, but the kids still loved it and played in it. I even got some compliments on my airplane (which, if you ask me, wasn’t all that great). We made paper airplanes and flew them around our school gym, we inspected globes, maps, license plates, and fighter pilot attire that one of our parents brought in, we talked about boats and predicted which items in our classroom would sink or float, and we enjoyed creating a school-bus from a huge box that all of the kids could get inside of and play in. I really believe in the power of learning through play and I hope that I’ve given my kids some fun and engaging activities to help enhance their abilities in each of the domains of early childhood development.

Family, Parenthood

Why We Bed-Share – And How to do it Safely

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As an early childhood professional, I was always taught that the only correct way for an infant to sleep is on his or her back, and in his or her crib, with only a fitted sheet. If a blanket is used, it should be made of a light material, tucked in, and come up no father than the child’s chest/nipples. And certainly no toys, pillows, bumpers, or any other item that could potentially hinder an infant’s ability to breathe should be in the crib.

From a professional and/or liability standpoint, I stand by what I was taught. We were flooded with so many stories of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and of children who were suffocated to death because of improper sleeping conditions while with a caretaker. I cannot imagine ever doing anything – intentionally or unintentionally – to harm someone’s child. Not only would the legal ramifications be serious, but the pain, guilt, and sadness of knowing that a child I love and am trusted with was hurt because of my decision-making would be overwhelming.

In my new role as a mother, however, I have found (to my surprise!) that bed-sharing works for our family.

From the night he was born, our son refused to sleep in his bassinet. When the nurses brought him into my recovery room to sleep, they swaddled him and placed him in the bassinet next to us. He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. My husband and I tried everything to keep him happy in that little see-through box, but he wasn’t having it.

He was instantly comforted by being taken out and cuddled. So, for the remainder of our time in the hospital, I allowed him to sleep on my chest and I slept at a semi-upright angle in the hospital bed. This same pattern continued at home. Although we tried placing him in a much more comfortable bassinet that we had previously set up next to our bed, our baby would not sleep there.

It scared me to allow our baby to sleep in my bed. On top of the fear, I felt like a hypocrite, since I have always been an advocate of the “back to sleep” in a crib method. But when in his bassinet, our baby woke up crying every ten minutes. And not only were my husband and I not getting any sleep, but I had to keep getting up (aggravating my C-section incision) to comfort or feed our boy. When I ended up with a blood clot in my lung two weeks after our son’s birth, not only was it painful getting up at night because of my C-section, but now I also had chest pain to deal with. This was not working.

I began to clear a space in our (king-sized) bed for baby to sleep next to me. A bed-sharing advocate friend of mine reminded me that, for thousands of years of human history, mothers have shared sleeping spaces with their children. My mother reminded me that I slept in bed with her until I was 5!

At first baby slept on my chest, and as he got bigger he slept on the mattress next to me with my arm wrapped around him. Now, I barely wrap my arm around him anymore, but he stays close to me and his head is always turned toward me. We often sleep face to face, unless I am feeding him. No matter how deeply asleep I think I am, I always notice and wake up for any of my son’s overnight needs.

I later learned that the scent of my breast milk acts as a something of a “homing beacon” for baby. It keeps him close to me so that he will not toss, turn, or roll into pillows and blankets.

I also learned that baby’s breathing can be regulated by being so close to me, and that he can sync his breathing to mine, in a way.

I learned that there are social, emotional, and mental health benefits for babies who share sleeping spaces with their parents – both immediate and long term.

I learned that (although I am already a light sleeper), mothers who sleep with their babies naturally sleep lighter in order to pick up on any breathing changes, sounds, or movements that their babies might make.

Despite God’s way of designing mother-baby sleep to be such that mothers and babies are in tune with one another overnight, I have also taken extra precautions to make sure baby is safe in bed. These include:

-Never taking any medication that alters my natural sleeping patterns or makes me sleepy (for example, Nyquil or Benadryl).

-Not bringing my covers up past my hips.

-Baby sleeps on his back (or on his side, if he is eating) facing me, when on the mattress.

-Keeping his space clear of pillows and blankets.

-I try not to put baby between my husband and I. When he is between us, I make sure my husband knows it and I extend my arm and legs as a barrier. If hubby rolls over, he will roll onto me first.

-I wake up naturally at intervals to check on our son. I don’t do this on purpose, but it just happens. I open my eyes, check him, go back to sleep.

-We have a nightlight and we keep our blinds open so that the extra light allows us to see our son easily in the middle of the night.

Unless baby is particularly fussy, I get much better sleep each night and baby does too! He generally goes to bed between 830pm and 930pm and wakes up between 7 and 8 each morning. I have come to really enjoy our nights together, as my husband and I generally watch a movie or funny show in bed while baby goes to sleep.

I know he can’t sleep in our bed forever, but for now it’s really nice. Anyone else out there have any bedsharing experiences?

Family, Infertility, Pregnancy

Baby is Here!

November is normally a busy month for my husband and me, since we celebrate our anniversary and (for the past three years) host Thanksgiving at our place. The month is usually the start of a busy season in which we do the most traveling and the most celebrating – from our anniversary in mid-November all the way through to the New Year. This November, we added another special occasion to the list when our baby boy was born!

But, I’ll start with our anniversary.

I was at the end of 38 weeks pregnant during our anniversary this year, and although we couldn’t do a whole lot, we enjoyed our day together! My husband took off from work so that we could go to a church that we recently discovered around our way. After church, we went to Panera for a light lunch, and then it was off to the movies. My husband has always been a fan of the James Bond series, so we saw Spectre. I was pretty wiped out by the time the movie ended, and we spent the rest of the day at home relaxing and working on getting some last minute baby stuff together.

Two days later, I was at what would turn out to be my last pre-natal doctor appointment. At the appointment my doctor informed me that, because of our baby’s suspected large size, she did not want me to remain pregnant past forty weeks. She said that if I did not deliver the baby before my due date, she thought it best that I come into her office to be induced. She didn’t want baby to become too big for me to safely deliver vaginally. My husband and I ran errands the rest of the day and ended the night with a quick, impromptu date to Olive Garden. That would be our last date before the arrival of little Chocobo!

The following evening, I experienced a series of Braxton-Hicks contractions (which I had already been used to having) and one real contraction (which I had not had up until this point). It was around 6 in the evening and I wondered if I was beginning to go into labor. However, I didn’t have any other labor contractions afterward and felt a little disappointed by the anti-climactic nature of my one contraction.

Three hours later, I began experiencing more contractions. They were only slightly painful at first, but as the night went on the pain increased. I’d heard all these stories of women who’d thought they were in labor and rushed to the hospital, only to be sent home. I didn’t want to be one of those women, so I decided not to tell my husband about it right away. I didn’t sleep all night because of the pain, and at four in the morning I finally decided to call my doctor and ask for advice.

My doctor advised me to begin timing the contractions, and I downloaded an app on my phone that allowed me to time them. I eventually woke my husband up around seven in the morning, and by ten we were calling the doctor again – my contraction patterns were consistent with true labor and I was instructed to get to the hospital right away!

This sent us on a little bit of a rush to grab everything we would need for our hospital stay. We were quite certain that we wouldn’t be back home for a while and although I had packed a few items into our hospital bag – the bag was far from complete. We got to the hospital around eleven on Thursday morning and I spent the rest of the day in labor at the hospital.

By five in the afternoon, I had already been in labor for about 20 hours. Although I originally wanted to try and make it through childbirth without any medication, I gave in and requested an epidural. I had to wait for the anesthesiologist to arrive and I had about ten contractions as he was administering the epidural! This was difficult because I needed to be completely still in order for him to do his job – but I also needed to move around to try and alleviate the pain of the contractions. The nurse had to hold me down so that I would not jerk or twitch in response to my pain. Shortly after receiving the epidural, I fell asleep. When I woke up, there were a swarm of doctors and nurses in the delivery room with me – rushing around and talking amongst one another. I looked for my husband who was standing up and trying to listen in to what everyone was saying. My heart rate was dropping, as was Chocobo’s. Each time I had a contraction, Chocobo’s heart rate dropped to lower levels than was safe. In addition, he’d swallowed some meconium. At this point, I was only 7cm dilated and the doctors didn’t want to risk waiting until I was fully dilated to deliver.

They’d decided that I was going to need a C-section.

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Although I was too drugged up to be nervous, the need for a C-section has probably been one of my biggest fears since childhood. I’ve mentioned before that when I was six or seven, I used to pray each night for a natural, vaginal delivery because I had witnessed my mother go through two C-sections and the recovery process did not look like fun. It looks like God’s answer to that prayer was “No!”

The doctors and nurses moved so quickly that I barely had time to process what was happening. I remember my husband grabbing my hand before they rolled me away from him, telling him that they would come back to get him. I remember the lights on the ceiling on the way to the operating room, and I remember feeling exceptionally drowsy and being unable to swallow.

I kept telling the doctors, “I don’t want to be asleep when he is born. Why do I feel so sleepy?” and “I can’t swallow. Why can’t I swallow?” I’m sure I sounded like a delusional crazy person but hey, I was drugged so I get a pass. The rest is sort of a blur as I struggled to fight sleep. It was all I could do to keep my eyes from closing. I can remember bits and pieces of things – such as someone saying “Your husband is here!” and the feeling of him grabbing my hand (although I couldn’t see him because my eyes were closed). I remember one of the nurses saying, “Okay – she doesn’t feel anything let’s get started!” I remember the bright lights of the operating room, obstructing my ability to see clearly each time I did manage to get my eyes open, and I remember someone saying “Your baby is here!” and the feeling of them placing him on my chest.

I couldn’t see or feel anything, but I remember asking if I could kiss my son and one of the doctors chuckled and said, “He’s your baby! Do whatever you want!” Someone put him close to me so that I could give him a kiss, I tried to open my eyes and I remember kissing him on the forehead. Before I knew it my eyes were shut again and I was throwing up!

After this, I probably fell asleep for quite a bit of time. Baby Chocobo was born at 7:53pm and I didn’t get to see him again until 9:20pm! I don’t remember anything that happened between the time he was born and the time that I was able to see him again.

My husband went with the doctors and nurses to wherever they took our baby and he was able to spend that first hour and a half bonding with our son until I was coherent enough to do the same.

We stayed in the hospital from Thursday until Sunday, where I received a lot of care and instruction on how to recover from a C-section. I don’t know what it’s like to recover from a vaginal birth, but recovery from a C-section is horrible! I am so grateful to have gone through this process in a hospital that really did a great job of taking care of me after our son’s birth.

My father came to stay with us once we were at home, and he helped out a lot by making food and running to the store for us each day. A few days later, my mother, my husband’s mother, and my two sisters came to be with us and we were all able to celebrate Thanksgiving together with little Chocobo!

My husband and I are so grateful for our little baby, for whom we have (not always so patiently) waited and prayed over the last five years. Our wish for parenthood has finally come true, and so far we are loving it!

Family, Pregnancy

The Third Trimester

*Trigger Warning* As titled, this is a post about the third trimester of my pregnancy. Please be kind to yourself if you are struggling with infertility and are not in a place to read this! Love and prayers always!

In the TTC (trying to conceive) and IF (infertility) communities, there is something called the TWW (Two Week Wait), in which a woman must wait the approximate two weeks between ovulation and her ability to test for pregnancy. It is a rather stressful time, in which every twitch and tingle is (over) analyzed and scrutinized in the hopes that her body will provide her with a sign that she is – finally – pregnant. In the TTC community, this time period (though stressful) can be rather exciting. Most women find that after a few months of TTC, a baby is indeed on the way. For the IF community, however, this is usually a time of anxiety, depression, fear, and hopelessness. Each month, for years on end, the TWW of an infertile ends in crushed hopes as her tests show up negative and her monthly cycle returns.

During my time as an infertile, I grew so tired of the TWW that I stopped testing. It was harder for me to see a negative pregnancy test than it was for me to see the return of “Aunt Flo” each month.

Now, as a pregnant woman, I am experiencing a different kind of TWW. This time, I am waiting through the approximate two weeks I have left before my due date (and if we want to be precise, I have exactly one week and four days left to go)! I thought now would be a great time to overview the third trimester and talk about some of the things I am doing to help me get through this new type of TWW!

Getting a Job

I was crazy enough to get a job at the start of the third trimester! I am a PreK teacher at heart (and probably always will be), so naturally I found a job in a pre-school teaching two year olds. There were some advantages and disadvantages to this decision. The advantages included having a little extra money to help with our finances, having something to do each day that helped pass the time and made me feel productive, meeting new people and making some new friends, and of course getting to wake up and do what I love (caring for and interacting with young children) each day was always a highlight! Two is an incredible age where anything can happen and no day is the same. Each day I had stories about something cute or funny that one of my kiddos had done. It was quite an enjoyable experience.

On the downside – I was so tired and in so much pain. The constant movement was too much for me and I got to a point at times where I could barely walk! Cleaning my classroom after nap time (picking up all those cots!) and at the end of the day (organizing toys, arranging furniture, vacuuming, taking out the trash) were the worst parts of each day. I got sick from kiddie germs after my first week at work and it was difficult to recover. It was also hard to get a bathroom break, and I was expending so much energy that I needed to eat almost constantly. Our weekly grocery bill went up by almost another $100 just trying to keep me fed while at work!

Still, I enjoyed having a job and I thought it was great how baby Chocobo responded with kicks and flips to the voices of other children playing, singing, and talking to me.

Childbirth Classes

We started taking childbirth classes at the hospital where I am set to deliver. It was a five week course in which we went once a week for two hours at a time. Our teacher was really sweet and the class was very informative. Despite having worked with children for most of my teen and adult life, I knew very little about childbirth – and even less about natural childbirth and non-medicinal pain management options. We saw some very graphic videos that gave us a bit of an idea of how much pain I am headed for! I also learned a lot about the recovery process that I feel will help to prepare me for what to expect post-partum.

3D Ultrasound

During my time as an infertile, one of the things that I always said I would do if I ever got pregnant was to have a 3D ultrasound. Although I have read a bit on the potential dangers of having too many ultrasounds, I decided in the end that this was something I really wanted and I waited until my 35th week to have one done! I was hesitant at first, but I am so happy that we went in and now have a clear picture of what our baby looks like – even before his big debut!

Baby Shower and Visiting Friends

The weekend after the 3D ultrasound, my husband and I went home for the baby shower! My mom and sisters organized it, and it was a lot of fun! There was good food, fun games, and lots of people that I hadn’t seen in a long time! It was great to catch up with everyone.

We also got a chance to make our yearly trip to visit our friends – who recently had their second baby. We always enjoy visiting them each year and didn’t want to miss out on our 2015 visit! My husband got a chance to practice feeding a baby on their infant and it was cute to watch. Hopefully, when we visit next year, Chocobo and their little boy will be able to interact with one another!

Cat Fleas and Last Minute Things

Unfortunately, my cat contracted fleas somehow, and man has that kept me busy around the house! I hate that he got fleas so close to my due date! In addition to trying to organize and get everything ready for baby’s arrival – I also had to deal with keeping the house disinfected and keeping my cat clean! I’m not sure whether or not his medicine made him sick or whether he ingested something from the fleas, but he’d been throwing up a lot and we were quite worried about his lethargic behavior! Thankfully, I think the problem is finally starting to clear up.

We also went on our hospital tour and let me just say – don’t wait until your 38th week of pregnancy to tour a hospital! All of the walking and standing was excruciating for me! The tour was great and the tour guide was very thorough and answered questions well, but it was hard for me to pay attention at times because I was hot, exhausted, and in pain.

My doctors told me that baby is approximately 8 pounds and 11 ounces right now, and that I could go into labor at any time! When she said that, it hit me that I really needed to have certain basics set up so that just in case I begin labor sooner than I think I will – we’ll be ready.

We are planning to have him sleep in our bedroom in a bassinet at first, so we set up his bassinet. The following day, we installed the car seat with the help of a fire and road safety technician, and now I am working on packing a hospital bag! Everyone says that I should be getting the “nesting” urge but honestly I feel just as tired lately (if not more tired) than I did in the first trimester! When it comes to all the cleaning and organizing I need to get done – “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!”

Final Thoughts

Toward the middle of my pregnancy, people began asking me “Has it hit you yet?” and “Does it feel real yet?” And while the aches, hunger, fatigue, insomnia, and Braxton-Hicks contractions definitely feel real – the fact that I will be bringing home my very own baby still doesn’t feel real to me! I don’t think it will hit me until they lay that baby on my chest and I get to see him face to face for the first time! This has been a completely surreal experience all the way through.

As I face this new type of TWW, I am trying to keep focused on things like my NanoWrimo project, getting the hospital bag packed and getting baby’s room organized, our upcoming 7thwedding anniversary(!!), and on enjoying what little sleep pregnancy insomnia hasn’t stolen from me!

God-willing, the next time I write about our son – it will be to announce that he has made it safely to the outside world!

Two weeks ago, at 36 weeks!
Two weeks ago, at 36 weeks!
Family, Pregnancy

The Second Trimester

*Trigger Warning: As indicated in the title, this is an entry about my pregnancy and there are pictures included. For my friends/followers still in the throes of infertility, be kind to yourself! Guard your heart and please don’t read if you aren’t able. You have my love and prayers, always!*

From the time that I began telling people about this pregnancy, everyone told me how much fun the second trimester would be. And they were right! The second trimester has been full of excitement. I cannot believe that I am two weeks away from its end, and I hope to recap some of the fun of this trimester in this overview.

Weeks 13-16: The Beginning of the Middle

The second trimester started off with extreme, insatiable hunger and an ongoing craving for anything cold, fruity, or juicy (and best if all three). I couldn’t (still can’t) eat anything without following it up with freezing cold fruits, juices, or fruity sorbets/smoothies. If you read my first trimester overview, you’ll remember that I began bleeding in week 11 – and this continued on until the end of week 15! It made me nervous and honestly a little depressed every time I saw any blood, but my doctor’s office was nice enough to let me come in (unscheduled) just to hear our baby’s heartbeat for reassurance. Every time I went in, I was told that some spotting can be normal and that our baby was doing perfectly. I was so happy when the bleeding finally stopped. Another thing that made me happy was starting our registry. I hate shopping, but I actually had a good time going around picking out baby things. My mother in law was sweet enough to purchase our baby furniture for us, and when it arrived I just absolutely could not believe that these types of items were in my home. As an infant/toddler/pre-school teacher, I am used to seeing items that belong to babies and children all of the time, but I am only used to seeing those things at work or in the homes of families that I have worked for. Having these things in my own house still feels completely surreal.

Gideonsroom

Weeks 17-20: Movement, Furniture, and Glucose Testing

I started to feel our baby move at 2:30am on a weekday during the 17th week! It probably wasn’t the first time that I felt Chocobo moving, but it was definitely the first time that I felt confident that what I was feeling was the baby. Feeling our baby move was probably the highlight of this trimester, for me, because the movement is a great way for me to know that baby is doing okay in there. During the first trimester, especially with all the bleeding, I had no way to really know that everything was going as it should unless I was at the doctor’s office. The movements became stronger and more definitive as the weeks passed, and they are definitely a reassurance for me that our baby is – at the very least – still alive in there! My husband and I embarked on our first DIY furniture project by repainting an old dresser to match the color scheme of baby’s room (grey, teal, and white). It didn’t turn out perfectly but for first timers – I’d say we did a great job! We went in for the anatomy scan during the 20th week, and discovered that Chocobo was bigger than an average baby at the same stage of pregnancy. I was instructed to take the glucose test earlier than it is normally taken in order to screen for gestational diabetes. I passed the test, but they want me to take it again in September. At the anatomy scan, our sonographer slipped up and accidentally revealed our baby’s gender before our gender reveal party, which was scheduled for later on in the week! So, although we weren’t sure about whether or not Chocobo would be a girl or a boy, we had a hunch. Still, we tried not to over-analyze it and waited patiently to find out for sure at the gender reveal party.

Weeks 21-24: We’re having a … !!

The gender reveal party was so much fun! We enjoyed seeing friends and family that we hadn’t seen in a long time, and of course we enjoyed finding out that our baby is a boy! My husband was so excited to find out that he is having a son! I don’t think either of us would have been disappointed either way, to be honest, but pre-infertility I always wanted to have a boy as a first-born as well! After going through infertility, I did not care what gender my baby was – I just wanted a baby. But it’s nice that my pre-infertility wish came true. Boys are a lot of fun, and I look forward to rough-housing and fart jokes and lots of dirt. I hope he’s into that sort of thing. I also hope he will love the beach. My husband and I are beach people. In the twenty-second week, I really started needing new clothes! I realized that nothing was fitting me anymore, and I really underestimated how big my mid-section would become! We also started looking at daycares in the area, in case I end up returning to work after he is born. As an early childhood educator, I found myself being really picky about the places we were looking into. I guess that was to be expected. We haven’t found anything yet, but we’ll keep looking! Finally, we signed up for some classes at the hospital and registered for our hospital tour.

Final Thoughts…

I woke up a few weeks ago with a scripture in my head. I kept hearing the words of the scripture over and over and over again in the background of my thoughts, but I was not really paying attention to it until I had cleared my “to-do” list and sat down to relax and watch Netflix. When I finally did pay attention, I kind of giggled to myself – and I guess to God as well. It felt like He had put that scripture on my mind as a playful nudge, but it reminded me of how grateful I am to be carrying this child.

“And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” – Luke 1:36, NASB

I’m not really in my “old age” yet, but everything else is sort of true. My middle name is Elizabeth. I have conceived a son. I was once called “barren,” and at the time that I woke up with this scripture on my mind, it was the beginning of my sixth month.

No matter what happens, I will never take this pregnancy – or this sweet baby boy – for granted. Ever.

Family, Infertility, Uncategorized

The First Trimester

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This post is, as titled, about the first trimester of my pregnancy. There are pictures and lots of details. If you’re struggling with IF and not in a good place – please do yourself a favor and skip this post!

***

Each day, I wonder about whether or not it will be easy to conceive a second time. It was such a struggle to pinpoint our reproductive issues and to conceive our first child, it startles me to think that this may be the only pregnancy that I get to experience in my lifetime! It would be wonderful to be able to successfully deliver this child and then have three or four more children, but life does not always work out the way we hope. I don’t want to take any of this experience for granted, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to cherish what I’ve been given in the present moment. To that end, at the risk of becoming one of those blogs, I thought I would do a little update at the end of each trimester as a way to keep a brief record of the different experiences of this pregnancy.

Week 4: How We Found Out

Regular readers already know that I had been prescribed 200mg of progesterone to be taken every other day post ovulation, in the form of an intramuscular shot. Although I had stopped using the sympto-thermal method (aka tracking my basal body temperature each morning), I decided to pick that back up again while on the progesterone. I knew beforehand that progesterone can mimic pregnancy, so when I began to feel certain pregnancy symptoms (shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, breast tenderness, etc) I chalked it up to the progesterone. My chart looked better than it had in years, and still, I refused to get my hopes up. I have known people to take progesterone supplements for many cycles before getting pregnant, why would mine work on the first try?

I remember emailing a picture of my chart to my mother, and telling her that if I were not on progesterone, I would strongly suspect pregnancy. I explained the chart to her and we were both excited that – at the very least – the chart was improving my cycles. The following day, I woke up feeling different. I’m not sure how to explain it, but something was off. My period had not started yet, my temperatures were still high, and I was tired of having to convince myself that I was not pregnant. I woke my husband and told him that I wanted to test, and as soon as the sun came up we went out to purchase the HPT. On the way home, I made a joke that if it was positive I would look a pinterest all day, and if it was negative, I would just do laundry and watch Netflix to bury my sorrows. He chuckled as we returned home and I went into the bathroom to take the test.

Suddenly a sense of hesitation washed over me. ‘This is stupid,’ I thought. ‘You won’t be pregnant and you’ll probably get your period in a few hours. You’re wasting your time and your money.’ I believed my negativity, and after taking the test I chickened out – not wanting to read it – and left it in the bathroom as I went to cook breakfast. After eating, I told my husband that I couldn’t go in and look at it. He had to do it. So he got up and went to look at the test, while I went to hide. When he found me, he held out the test and said,

“I guess you’ll be looking at pinterest all day.”

I’m not even going to try to describe what that moment felt like. We decided to nickname the baby Chocobo. My mother hates that nickname, but I got it from the Final Fantasy game series. There is an animal in the games called a ‘Chocobo’ that I always thought was so cute. In times past, I would say to friends, “Let’s go, Chocobo!” as a term of endearment. My husband liked the nickname as well, and we have even given nicknames to the nickname – chocobaby, chocs, chococo, chocoberry – we make them up as we go. I can understand why people think the name is not “cute,” but we like it and until we know the gender – it’s what we are sticking with!

Weeks 5-10: Medicine, Moving, and Morning Sickness

I was prescribed 200mg of Prometrium daily – a progesterone suppository that would keep me from miscarrying due to progesterone related issues in the first trimester. I was told to take the suppository every night until week 13. Let me tell you, suppositories are gross. They leak. They smell. And they keep babies alive. So I was happy to do whatever was necessary.

At the same time, my husband’s job promoted and relocated him to a different state. We lived in hotels for two weeks, which was pretty stressful for me. Living in a hotel in a different state where you don’t know anyone or anything about the area got lonely at times, and also meant no home-cooked food! All of the restaurant food I ate during those two weeks was getting to me. I was feeling lethargic and heavy. Between living in a hotel and taking these suppositories every day – I felt crowded, lethargic, and icky all the time. Thankfully, we found a place to live. I was able to start cooking again, and we were able to get all of our stuff out of our old home and into our new one.

I started experiencing more consistent pregnancy symptoms around week 7 or 8. I threw up quite a bit, got most of my nausea and “morning” sickness in the evenings, became intolerant of all dairy products, experienced extreme all-day exhaustion, and had trouble walking around or doing small household chores without getting out of breath or feeling faint/weak. Sleeping started to become a problem for me as well. I normally sleep on my stomach, and after week 6 or so that was no longer comfortable. I began sleeping on my back around week 7, but by week 9 – I had to start sleeping on my sides. I have never been comfortable sleeping on my side, and it has been tough to get a good night’s sleep. My shoulders, knees, and hips are often either very sore or completely numb as a result of how I have been sleeping. Still, I think that my symptoms are pretty mild compared to some of the things that I have heard others go through. I have made it a practice to express gratefulness and pray for an infertile friend every time I feel sick or uncomfortable, because I know that there are still so many women waiting to have these experiences. And, because I know what it feels like to be the woman reading about pregnancy discomforts and wishing for them.

During these weeks, I had my first two ultrasounds. One at week 7 and the other at week 9. At the week 9 ultrasound, the tech told us that we have a very active baby. I didn’t know babies began moving around so early, but apparently Chocobo was moving like crazy. We were actually able to record the movement on my phone, which was pretty neat. I can’t wait until I can actually feel the movements! I think seeing Chocobo on the screen and in these pictures really helped me to start getting it into my head that this is not some kind of amazing dream – this is actually happening! I feel so humbled and undeserving, other women have waited longer than I. Yet, I am so grateful for this gift.

Chocobo @ week 7
Chocobo @ week 7
Chocobo @ week 9
Chocobo @ week 9

Weeks 11-13: ER Visit, Mother’s Day, and Stopping Progesterone

Everything went smoothly until week 11, when I went to the bathroom and saw that I was bleeding – a lot! To be honest, it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of blood, but it was bright red and way more blood than I felt comfortable with. I called my OB, whose office was closing, and was instructed that I could go to the ER. We sat in the ER for hours before finally being seen. On one hand I feared the worst, but on the other hand, I felt very calm and at peace. Whatever the outcome, I know that God is always sovereign, always faithful, and always in control. One of my favorite verses in the Bible says that “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” I thought about this verse while in the ER, and reminded myself that our child is God’s creation and God’s child – only loaned to us. Nothing would happen to Chocobo, except what God allowed, and I resolved to trust God’s sovereignty, even if our night ended in tragedy.

Thankfully though, everything was fine. Chocobo was moving around so much that the tech had trouble getting the heart rate. Choco finally sat still, with the exception of one of his/her arms moving back and forth across the screen. The tech joked that Chocobo was giving us a little wave. This was the second time that a tech told us we had a very active child on our hands. After seeing the tech, we met with a doctor who said that mine was the first perfect ultrasound he’d seen in the ER in three years!

I continued to bleed and spot on and off for the next few weeks, which still makes me nervous, but at my most recent appointment I was told that everything looks absolutely perfect, and that some women spot frequently during their pregnancies with no explanation and with nothing actually wrong. So, I am trying to take comfort in that.

We went home to celebrate Mother’s Day with our moms, and it was kind of surreal to realize that I am a mother, too. I started showing around week 10, and during the Mother’s Day weekend, I got a few comments about how I have “popped.”

By the time week 13 rolled around, we were headed back to another doctor’s appointment where I was told to stop the progesterone! As much as I hated those suppositories and was happy to ditch them, it definitely made me feel uneasy to not take the medicine! Especially as I have continued to have on and off brown spotting since week 11, I felt that stopping the progesterone might be a mistake. However, since I was told by 3 separate doctors to stop taking it,  we stopped. I am hoping that the placenta will take over the way it is supposed to and produce enough progesterone for Chocobo to survive through the rest of this pregnancy!

Final Thoughts

One interesting fact about my pregnancy is that it has really given me more of a heart for adoption than I already had! I am so grateful and humbled to have gotten pregnant, and I wish that every child could be as loved – from the point of conception – as my child is. Since my own childhood I have wanted to adopt a child, but being pregnant has really deepened that desire. I want to give other children the chance to be cared for and celebrated the way Choco is blessed to be. I am trusting that God will allow us the safe delivery of this child, but regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy, I am so grateful that Chocobo is so loved, wanted, and cherished even now –  before his or her arrival into the world.

If only all children in the world could be so fortunate.