Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baby Ball: Week 33

Today was my last of the "regular" visits... our upcoming appointments will tell us if we're getting anywhere remotely close to having a baby! (I mean, I guess the calendar can tell us that, too!?) Today's appointment was super quick - I've learned that 9 am is the first appointment for the doctors, so I was in and out in under an hour today!

Weight Gained: +0 pounds... yeah that part kinda made me mad considering I have been trying to eat as much as I can!

Belly Measurement: 32 cm

Maleah's Heart Rate: 141

Other things going on over the last two weeks:

Movement: Apparently I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions and wasn't really aware that's what they were. They aren't painful, but over the past week they've become stronger - so much so that it can be uncomfortable to walk when it's happening.

Symptoms: I've really lost my appetite, for the most part. I get hungry, but I just don't want to eat. I do anyway, of course, but it's become a chore rather than somethign I look forward to. We've been eating out a lot more simply because it's depressing to cook something that you don't even want to eat! I've been taking Tylenol PM more regularly at night to help me sleep and it makes a huge difference. I hate taking something like that regularly, but I need sleep!

Cravings: Ice! It makes me wonder if my iron may be a little low because I know I have craved ice before when I've had anemia, but I think it is just fun to eat. Since nothing really tastes great, I know that ice will give me the crunch I'm looking for without having any flavor. Milk is also high on my list... although I'm not sure if I'm craving it or if I just know it will add calories and substance!

Aversions:  Everything? Okay, not really! The only thing I really can't stomach is still Italian food.

Prepping for Baby: We had another shower over the weekend and received some really awesome gifts!! It was fun to go home and sort through everything and put some of her clothes away. I'll probably go ahead and wash her newborn size and some 0-3 month size clothes over Christmas break. Haven't made any real progress in her nursery, although I did finally buy a picture frame to put this really cute art in:

I'm learning that what everyone says is true - the last weeks of pregnancy are as hard as the first. At first, every little symptom or tinge of pain or strange feeling make you wonder if the baby is still okay. There's discomfort because your body is rapidly changing and, of course, there's the excitement of it all! Now every little thing makes me wonder if I'm going into labor or if I've somehow hurt the baby or if she's turned the "right" way. The discomfort is back and more intense. And there's the excitement of an impending arrival, but you try hard to not wish the time away!! It's a funny cycle and I'm so glad to know this phase of pregnancy ends with a tiny little girl in my arms. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Life Lately

We're about 7 1/2 weeks away (maximum!) from holding our little girl and I can already tell that life between now and then is going to be very, very different. I'm to the stage in pregnancy where I feel really pregnant and can see why women begin maternity leave a few weeks before their baby is due. Pregnancy is not a disease or an illness, but you have to come to terms that your body is changing and you have to treat it differently than usual. Almost everything is a challenge - sleeping, eating, grocery shopping, bending over to get laundry out of the dryer, remembering all the little details of things that must get done... I'm worn out just thinking about it all! The good news is that I have a fantastic husband who has picked up the slack!!

Poor Arnold is also struggling through my pregnancy. Since I didn't work through the summer, I was home all the time, plus we had Elaine. We had to give Elaine away towards the end of the summer to make room for Maleah and then I also went back to work in mid-August. Arnold has been having a hard time ever since. He started peeing in the house while we were away sometime around late September and it's only gotten worse. He is ridiculously anxious and antsy when we get home (to the point that he is shaking) and he can't seem to tolerate loud noises or even the slightest discipline. We have tried everything under the sun to help him cope with the changes, but nothing has fully relieved him of his anxiety.

So, we finally took him to the vet and were told Arnold has separation anxiety (exactly what we thought) and given a perscription for an anti-depressant commonly used for dogs with such issues. The vet also said we could use a small dose of Benadryl from time to time to help calm him down if he seems particularly anxious. We'll try the medicine on Saturday while we are home so we can watch and make sure he doesn't have any adverse reactions to it.

I'm also feeling a little anxiety as Maleah's due date draws near. I was making a lot of progress in her nursery, and it seems to have stalled!! I can't for the life of me get motivated to finish up in there! But I don't have much left to do and I know it will get done before she arrives. The last things on my to-do list are to get the artwork finished and hung, finish her mobile and hang it, get her rocking chair (it's being reupholstered and it's almost done!!), reorganize the other half of her closet (that's Daddy's job since it's full of boxes of books), and then the other stuff - washing her clothes, packing our bags, making sure we have the necessities so we aren't making a thousand trips to Target after she's born (although I'm sure that will still happen no matter how prepared we are!), and - oh yeah - going to the doctor A LOT! M

Most importantly, I'm trying to stay relaxed, rested, and prayerful about these last several weeks. I don't want the preciousness of these final weeks to be lost on the busy-ness of Christmas and preparing for her arrival, although those things are keeping the time from dragging by! These are the last weeks Blake and I will be alone, the last weeks we can go and do as we please, the last weeks we have to sleep through the night (for a while, at least!), and the last weeks Arnold gets to be our only baby!

It's going to be a fun few weeks as we wait and wait and wait for Maleah to get here... but I know on the flip side, I'll be saying "I can't believe how quickly these first few weeks with her have gone by!" I'll be wishing the time to slow down instead of speed up. Hopefully I can just try to enjoy each moment... no matter how long or short they seem to be!

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's [Never] Too Late to Apologize...

Blake and I started pre-marital counseling about six weeks after we started dating. That's right - pre-marital counseling six weeks after we started dating! We knew right away that we wanted to head towards marriage, so we enlisted pastor and friend, Jonathan Cook to talk with us and help us navigate through our emotions and to make a prayerful decision about marriage. I had already spent nearly a year in counseling with Jonathan, so transitioning to pre-marital counseling with him was easy for me. He wasn't the type of counselor who just touched on the surface-level issues - this was deep stuff. Core-of-your-heart kind of deep. To Blake, it was scary! But it was so worth it!
We met with Jonathan up until a few months before our wedding. It was the best investment in our marriage we could have made. We walked away feeling confident in our decision to get married, with level heads on our shoulders, and with an aresenal of relationship-defending tools.

But the most valuable lesson we learned through our counseling was about forgiveness and apologizing. In our wedding ceremony, Jonathan joked that we were the only couple he's ever had to actually come to counseling in the middle of a fight. Honestly, it was really embarrassing to be so angry at Blake in front of someone else - but it was the best session we had! Through it, Jonathan taught us how to listen to each other, how to forgive each other, but most importantly - how to seek forgiveness.

The advice we were given goes beyond marriage - it's essential for all of our relationships. The church spends a great deal of time talking about how to forgive. But we don't often learn how to ask for forgiveness. A simple "I'm sorry" is just a band-aid... truly asking for forgiveness is putting yourself in a true state of vulnerability. It is scary, but it is worth it.

So, I wanted to share some of the things we learned with you in hopes that you'll strengthen your relationships the way we have. Here are the high points:

1. Learn to recognize when you have wronged someone, whether intentionally or not: Picture this scenario - two kids are playing on a swingset. One is swinging and one is running around. The second kid walks in front of the swinging kid and gets knocked down. The kid is hurt, crying, and scared. The swinging kid continues to swing away, oblivious and/or uncaring about what has just happened. Many times we say or do things that unintentionally hurt others, but we are completely unaware of how hurt they are or we simply do not care. We think, I didn't mean to sound so harsh or I wasn't trying to be offensive and so we assume the other person is overreacting. Maybe they are overreacting, but you've wronged them nonetheless. Just like the swinging kid scenario above - the kid who gets knocked down is hurt. The swinging kid wasn't purposefully trying to injure anyone, but it happened anyway. We have to learn to recognize when we've hurt someone and be quick to apologize.

2. "I'm just blunt." or "I'm just telling the truth.": These are two excuses I have heard dozens of times after someone says something harsh and is trying to cover up their rudeness with an "it's-just-my-personality" kind of thing. Speaking in truth to someone should be done with a lot of grace. Just saying what you think with disregard to another's feelings is blatant disrespect, not "speaking the truth". If there is something we need to say to someone that is going to hurt a little, we need to do it with respect, understanding, and with a positive goal in mind: to come to a better understanding with the other person. "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." - Luke 6:45 ~ What comes out of your mouth is an indication of what is in your heart.

3. Be Proactive: One great way to master the art of apologizing is to not have to apologize in the first place! James 1:19 tells us, "...Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." When our tempers arise and we are tempted to say things we will later regret, it's best to... can you guess?.... not say them at all! It's hard, I know. Blake and I have had some pretty ugly arguments where our tempers got the best of us. But we have learned how to argue productively and we try to keep level heads when we really just want to be at each others' throats! :)

4. "I'm sorry if...": If your apology includes the words "if," or "but," then it's not a true apology. Wording your apology to make it seem as though the other person is at fault doesn't work, either. Here are some examples:
     - Bad: "I'm sorry if I made you mad earlier."
     - Good: "I'm sorry I made you mad earlier."

     - Bad: "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, but I was just really upset in the moment."
     - Good: "I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I let my anger get the best of me."

     - Bad: "I'm sorry you're upset."
     - Good: "I'm sorry I've upset you."

     - Bad: "I'm sorry you were offended with what I said."
     - Good: "I'm sorry I offended you."

Are you getting the jist of it? For a true apology, you've got to get to the heart of the matter - like I said in #1, whether you've done wrong intentionally or not, you've got to acknowledge the other person's feelings. Maybe they are being overly sensitive or maybe they are overreacting - but they've been hurt and you've got to own up to it and learn from your mistake so it doesn't happen again. Maybe you've picked at them just out of fun, but it deeply hurts them - well, now you know they don't like to be picked on. Pay attention to the situtation, truly apologize, and keep it from happening again.

5. "Will you forgive me?": By far, this was the best advice we got from marriage counseling. When there is deep hurt, there needs to be a deep apology. Asking this question puts you in an exteremely vulnerable situation - the other person completely has the right to say "no". But asking this question shows how genuine you are about seeking forgiveness and it usually leads to a greater level of intimacy with the other person. The times we've whipped out this question, Blake and I have had this overwhelming sense of comfort and peace. You really put yourself out there with this question and when forgiveness is granted, you can feel the physical effect of grace. Try it sometime, I dare you!

These are just a few of the tools Jonathan gave us to keep from killing each other during those heated moments of frustration. :) I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to us - and not just in a romantic relationship. I've used these tips with friends and family and find they work just the same! God wants us to be gracious to one another and when we aren't, we need to own up to it. And once we get used to genuinely apologizing, it doesn't become such a big deal. We begin to lose our pride and realize that we're human and we're going to mess up and once we make it right, we can move on and learn from the experience.

Oh, and about that fight Blake and I had during our counseling session... it was all over a disagreement about what we were going to teach in our small group lesson. We agreed on the topic (Jonah), but during a trip to the library to get some books, we realized we didn't like each others' ideas about how to teach it... which turned into an argument at the library, an argument on the ride to the church, and arguing in front of Jonathan. It was a pretty stupid fight (they usually are), but look what it did for us!! I think we ended up apologizing during the counseling session and eventually came to a resolution that we were both comfortable with. And our small group lesson was awesome!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Baby Ball: Week 32

Friday was my most recent appointment and I forgot to do my little update, so... here we go:

Weight Gained: +4 pounds (16 total) - I gained FOUR POUNDS in TWO WEEKS! I rock. I have to mention here that I'm finally to the point where most of my non-maternity clothes no longer fit (including t-shirts that were formerly baggy!) and I've even grown out of some of my maternity clothes. Last night I was pouting because I am sick of not being able to fit into anything and with only 8 1/2 weeks to go, I refuse to buy anything else!! But, I'm glad I made it this far with what I have... just prepare to see the same outfits over and over for the next two months!

Belly Measurement: 30 cm

Maleah's Heart Rate: 139

Other things going on over the last four weeks:

Movement: I can finally detect specific body parts, although I'm not always 100% sure I'm right. She's been pushing and poking and kicking a lot the past few days. The other day, I pretty much had her mapped out - head down, back to my left side, feet/legs kicking my upper right side. It's what they call LOA - Left Occiput Anterior - known as the ideal position for delivery. Today, I have no clue exactly how she's positioned. A couple of nights ago, her body was literally stretched across my stomach (transverse) - head to the left, legs/feet to the right. It was the most uncomfortable feeling! I'm hoping she'll eventually stay in that head-down position.

Symptoms: Oh, this is the part where I really don't want to complain. Pregnancy is an incredible experience and I am thankful for every bit of it... every ache and pain, every poke and jab, and every sleepless night. It is a beautiful time and it is exciting, but it is taxing on the body - moreso than I ever imagined. My back and hips are what are giving me the most trouble. I've been taking Tylenol regularly, but I can only take so much so it's been tough. I know I won't feel this way forever so I'm just trying to take it easy and relax a bit! Some other weird symptoms: feeling either extremely full or extremely hungry (I guess it depends on whether or not little miss is pushing on my stomach!?), forgetfulness (thanks to restless nights), BEING RIDICULOUSLY HOT (thank God it's not July!!!), and finally... SWELLING. It's not bad, just enough to have to take off my rings and put my feet up at night.

Cravings: So my sweet tooth decided to come back over the past few weeks... I have been consuming a ridiculous amount of cookies and dark chocolate! Woo hoo!

Aversions:  Italian food... the past couple of times I have eaten it, it has not been friendly with my stomach. So, no more spaghetti for a while!

Prepping for Baby: We bought some clothes on the cheap during the Black Friday sales, although trying to buy for a baby who isn't born yet stresses me out. I don't know how much we need of what sizes, so I just got a little of everything when the price was right. I scored a few outfits for around $2/each! We also have three showers coming up, so I'm sure she'll get some more clothes in the near future! We haven't worked in her room for a while, but I'll get back to that next week. I'd like to have her nursery finished during Christmas break (I'm off Dec. 22 - Jan. 2)!

Funny/Pathetic Story: Warning - this story involves puke. Last week, I experienced my most pathetic pregnant moment. I woke up around 3am unable to fall back asleep thanks to my hurting hips. I tossed and turned for half an hour and finally decided to go take a Benadryl. Soon after I took the Benadryl, I started feeling sick to my stomach. I wrote it off and just tried to fall asleep. I tried to wake Blake up a few times, but he was in a deep sleep (lucky him). The next thing I knew, he was asking me what was wrong and I bolted out of bed and ran/waddled quickly to the bathroom. Up came my dinner (spaghetti; see above)... all of it. Blake got up and I could hear him getting me a wet washcloth (I don't know, I just always want one...). I closed the toilet lid, laid my head down on the lid and just started to cry. It was awful!! I remembered thinking, I am NEVER getting pregnant ever again! I went back to sleep pretty quickly after throwing up and had a better night's sleep the following night. I'm so thankful to have a supportive husband who is there for me even in the grossest moments!!

That's about all... now that we're getting closer to the end (8 1/2 weeks or less!) I'm not sure how regularly I'll be doing these updates - I guess just whenever I feel like it! It's my blog and I'll blog if I want to. :)