Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Gifts for a Four-Month Old

I just got done wrapping Anna's gifts. With her sitting next to me for most of it. It all seems a little futile - wrapping gifts I bought so I can unwrap them later. But it also felt wrong to not have gifts for her (me) to open tonight when we do our family Christmas. So I spent the last 20 minutes wrapping gifts that I will spend 20 minutes unwrapping in a few hours. At least I got to write "From: Mommy and Daddy" on them, which was fun. And actually I wrote "From: Momny and Daddy". Still not quite in the flow with all those bumpy letters. I kept coming up one bump short on the second "m".

Jamie and I discussed how we would do gifts for Anna several weeks ago. It's important to us to raise kids who understand material possessions are not so important and that Christmas is not just a fancy name for Give-Me-Stuff Day. It seemed a little hypocritical to say, "Christmas is about Jesus. Now here's your ridiculously huge pile of presents, most of which you don't need and will only play with for a day or two." So we decided we'd do three gifts: something she could play with, something we wanted her to have and an outfit. We're also giving her a Christmas book and hope in the future to make a new Christmas book or movie a shared gift between the many members of our clan of mini-Hotalens.

Of course, a few days after we came up with this plan all on our own, I read on someone else's blog this little ditty: "Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read." I've now seen that on approximately 39,000 different websites. Blogs, articles, Facebook posts. It's everywhere. Not only are we completely unoriginal with our gift giving plan, but we didn't even make it rhyme. I feel so dull and uncreative.

Maybe when she's older and figures out we're not the only ones who follow that gift giving recipe, I can convince Anna I started it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Anna

As I've previously stated on many, many occasions, please don't grow up too fast. If at all possible, stay a sweet little peanut of a baby forever.

But please, please for the love of God and all that is good and holy in this world please let your mama get some ding danged sleep!

If you could grow up to the point of sleeping 8 hours a night and then stop right there, that would be perfect. Please and thank you.

All My Love,

On a completely unrelated note, parenthood and insomnia do not mix.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Little Rebel

I'm afraid we're gonna have our hands full with this one. She's already blatantly disobeying me. Every day I tell her, "Don't grow up too fast. Stay a baby as long as possible." Clearly, she's not listening.

I think I'm gonna have to ground her.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Da Nile

I would be writing a post about how Anna is 4 months old today, but since she was just born yesterday that can't be so.

So here's a picture of my newborn who is never going to grow up and leave me.

Confession: I was straightening up the living room and decided to move her infant bouncy seat out of the way because she's getting too big for it. I set it in the dining room (where we keep all the baby stuff because we don't actually want or need a dining room) next to the cradle she slept in until she got too big for it. Then I looked at them sitting there next to each other and wondered how in the world she got too big for both of them already. Then I cried.

Confession #2: I got all choked up again typing that. I'm totally gonna be one of those moms whose 5-year-old skips happily into kindergarten without a second glance back at mom while I lose it ugly-style outside the classroom.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"They" Are Crazy

"They" (whoever that may be) say no screen time until 2. No TV, no computer, no iPhone/iPad/iPod, etc.

"They" say it shortens attention spans.

"They" say it impedes intellectual development.

"They" have clearly never seen how hypnotic my cranky 3-month-old becomes when watching this.

The question is, who will tire of it first, me or Anna? I have to say I'm a little concerned that she starts fussing again during Statler and Waldorf's (the two grumpy old men; yes, I did just google that) scene. Because I'm not sure I can have a child who doesn't appreciate how hilarious they are.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I'm thankful...

...that the weather in Orlando was aboslutely GORGEOUS this week! Anna got to wear all the cute sundresses she has that were still too big when the cold weather came at home. And she looked pretty darn cute if I do say so myself. And if tradition holds, it'll be 40 and raining tomorrow so I have to soak in the sun when I can!

...that my former college roommate and one of my BFFs, Britt, lives at the ranch and that every trip to the in-laws has a visit with her beautiful family as an added perk.

...that my in-laws are the most welcoming, easy-to-get-along-with people EVER. Sorry women who whine about how awful their in-laws are - mine rock. It's always so easy and enjoyable staying here. It's almost as relaxing as going home. Almost.

...that against my best judgement I went to the outlets with my husband on Black Friday and scored some new Banana Republic jeans (my favorite) for more than 60% off.

...that my husband's family - parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles - all love on Anna and are so sweet to her. She's one very loved baby!

...that tomorrow while a part of me wishes we were still in Florida, I'll be able to start decorating for Christmas and planning our trip to New Jersey! I love the holiday season.

...that nearly every morning this week I was able to get up, feed the baby, pass her off to a relative and TAKE A SHOWER! Not just a quick one, either. We're talking long, luxurious showers where I got to do things like shave my legs and blow-dry my hair. It was bliss. And I am one happy, clean lady :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Creepy Book

I've always loved reading and so I'm pretty determined to cultivate the same passion in Anna. So we read together throughout the day and she's already learning to enjoy a good story. Problem is she only has half a dozen books. One is a recordable storybook from Hallmark that her cousins made for her. It's so incredibly adorable that I can't let her look at it too often for fear the battery will die and the cuteness will be lost.

Anyway, I hate to just buy any one of the millions of children's books out there, so I've been researching a little looking for lists of the best kid's book. If I'm gonna purchase some books, they should be quality books. Most of them are pretty standard - Dr. Seuss classics, The Hungry Caterpillar, Guess How Much I Love You - but there's one that inevitably shows up on every list of great children's books that I just can't understand. Ironically it's by one of my favorite children's authors, Robert Munsch.

I love Munsch's books because of his quirky humor. In Alligator Baby a couple expecting a new baby gets lost on the way to the hospital and winds up at the zoo. Each time they return home it's with a different baby animal and they are sent back to the zoo by their older daughter to find the right baby. In Paper Bag Princess, a princess loses her castle and all her pretty clothes to a dragon who burns them up and kidnaps her fiance prince. She fashions an outfit out of a paper bag and outwits the dragon to save her prince. Then promptly breaks off their engagement when he tells her she doesn't look much like a princess in her paper bag dress.

They're cute and funny (and while I'm certainly not a feminist I appreciate the little dose of girl power in the Paper Bag Princess).

And then there's his quirkiest and by far his most famous book Love You Forever. You've probably read the story. A mom sings a lullaby to her little boy, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be." It's a sweet sentiment. No matter how old he gets, he'll still be her baby. Any woman who's rocked her sleeping infant gets it. That feeling that you will always look at this little person as your precious baby, no matter how big they may get.

But somewhere along the way, the book crosses the line from awwww to eww!! She rocks him as an infant, as a toddler, even when she's rocking him as a 9-year-old it's still acceptable, although toeing the "ew" line. But when she creeps into his room as a teenager, you start to feel a little funny inside.

Then it crosses the "ew" line and keeps right on going until the line is nothing but a tiny speck in the distance. The son is now a grown man. And the mom is driving across town with a LADDER ON HER ROOF to sneak into his room and rock him.

Uhhhhh what??

First all, speaking strictly practically, this is impossible. When my grown man of a husband falls asleep a little too close to my side of the bed, it takes all my strength to push his full-grown self two inches out of my personal space. What kind of steroids is the woman taking? She's taking her full-grown, sleeping son out of bed and onto her lap in a rocking chair? That's amazing!

Aside from being physically impossible, this action suggests a definite psychosis in this woman. I mean really lady cut the cord! Can imagine if you were her daughter-in-law? Waking up to find your mother-in-law rocking your sleeping husband and singing lullabies? That's disturbing! You'd definitely win any "Listen to how crazy my mother-in-law is" contests among your friends.

What kind of therapy is this man going to require?

I can't help but think that Mr. Munsch is sitting in his home somewhere wondering what the heck happened. He writes quirky, funny, goofy stories. He probably wrote that one thinking "Oh this'll get a laugh" and now he collects his royalty checks as sentimental mommies read this book, go awwwww and buy a dozen copies. He's going "Wait, that was supposed to be bizarre and funny. A woman breaks into her son's home to rock him. As an adult! That's insane! Get it? No? Alright whatever just keep the checks coming."

Please moms, I beg you, cherish every moment of your child's babyhood. Look at them as adults and see your precious little baby like the dad in "Father of the Bride." But for God's sake, don't cross that line from sentimental to criminal and insane!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Handle Tornado Warnings

Step one: Go on weather.com, look up the satellite map for your area; watch the scary red part get closer and closer to you. Begin to panic.

Step two: Walk frantically around your house looking out each and every door and window hoping that perhaps the tornado will have a neon sign pointing it out for you.

Step three: Get all the pillows and blankets out of your spare rooms and pile them in your interior windowless bathroom. Repeat step two.

Step four: Check the satellite map again. Continue panicking.

Step five: Gather a book, a flashlight, your laptop (still displaying the weather map, of course) and a water bottle. Sit in the rocker next to your sleeping baby's crib ready to swoop her up along with your gear and run to the bathroom if necessary.

Step six: Freak out at every sound assuming it's the approaching tornado. Repeat step two.

Step seven: Watch the storm pass harmlessly over you on the satellite map. Start to feel silly.

Step eight: Read the update on weather.com that the tornado warning is cancelled. Feel even sillier.

Step nine: Clean up the big mess you made in the bathroom with all the pillows and blankets. Remake all the beds. Continue to feel even sillier.

Step ten: Move back to Jersey.

Friday, November 11, 2011


When I look at this:

And then at this:

I'm afraid the level of cuteness at the Minter/Hotalen/DeVol Christmas celebration this year will be too much to bear.

And then when I think about this...

I'm certain next year we'll all just die of cuteness overload.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Months

Our baby girl is three months old already! She's becoming a real little person and is so fun to be around. Except when she's not :)

Mom, I'm like totally not in the mood for this today. Seriously.

This month she's...

  • Smiling a whole lot and even laughed once!

  • Becoming very chatty! She loves to talk with me and her daddy and has a large repertoire of adorable baby sounds.

  • Wearing cloth diapers! We made the switch November 1st and so far, so good. We have a few different types we're trying out and we'll be ordering more soon to complete our stash. We'll see if things continue to go well.

  • Showing some definite personality! She gets pretty mad at me sometimes, and I can't help but think it's funny!

  • Starting to recognize and prefer us over strangers. I know that will get frustrating in a few months when she's refusing to be held by anyone but me, but right now it's really sweet.

  • Travelling like a champ! We took her to our homecoming at Toccoa which was less than successful (cranky baby = cranky mommy; cranky baby + cranky mommy = cranky daddy), but last weekend we made the 5-hour drive to Tallahassee to see her Uncle Aron and Aunt Julie and she did great!

  • Sleeping! Yay for long stretches at night! She typically goes to bed very easily around 9:30 and wakes up once during the night to eat.

  • Loving her hands! She hasn't started watching them as I'm told some babies do, but she's definitely aware that she can grab things. She really enjoys her play gym now and will grab onto the toys hanging above her. She also loves to hang onto my hair and our shirts when we're holding her. She still likes her paci but in a pinch her fist will do.

  • She gets cuter every single day and we are having so much fun watching her grow!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Falling in Love

    I'll be completely honest: I didn't bond with Anna instantly. That overwhelming feeling of love some moms experience the instant that new infant is laid on their chest? Yeah, I didn't get that. I felt relieved that the delivery was over. I felt exhausted. And I felt like I wasn't quite sure who this baby they were laying on my chest was.

    I have couple theories about why. Maybe because I was more than a little concerned that the midwife was hurriedly trying to stop my bleeding. Maybe because I was so out-of-it from the drugs. Maybe - and this may make me the weirdest person alive but... - maybe because in my mind this new little person didn't look like the ultrasound pictures. Of course, it's a very good thing she was not black and white, 2d and see-through. But still I had bonded with that little girl in the pictures, and this little person didn't look like her.

    This might make you think I'm a horrible person. And honestly I probably would've felt pretty horrible about it if I hadn't read an article just before her birth about some new moms taking time to bond with their babies. The moral was give it time and it'll happen.

    And you know what? It's true. At least it was for me.

    For the first several weeks after Anna was born I kept worrying something might be wrong with me. Everyone else seemed enthralled by my baby girl. My mom and sisters couldn't get enough of her. The constant crying and lack of sleep didn't seem to be affecting Jamie like it was me. Everyone seemed to find this little person irresistable. And all I wanted was some sleep.

    But slowly that started to change. Each day I felt more and more connected to her. And when she smiled at me for the first time? Fuhgedaboutit. I was a goner. In fact, that morning was a very frustrating one. Jamie was getting ready for work and I was sitting on the couch with her wondering if we'd survive another day home alone together. And then she smiled at me. And the angels sang.

    There are definitely still moments I feel like I'm going insane. She's screaming, I've tried everything I can think of and she won't stop. I feel like walking out the front door and not looking back. But those moments are rarer now. Because now I'm really falling for this little person. I told Jamie it's just like falling in love. I can't get enough of her. I want to spend time with her. I miss her when she's asleep. I find every little thing about her fascinating. And I live to make her smile.

    It took a little while to get there, and I feel like our bond is still growing day by day. But there's no doubt about it now. I'm head over heels.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Hello Bloggy World

    Just wanted to drop by and say...

    Today is my 2-Month Birthday!

    Can you believe how big I'm getting?

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Last Stop - Mother Baby

    Finally by Thursday evening I'd gotten two units of blood, my catheter was out (thank goodness!), I was unplugged from most of my machines and IVs and we were allowed to go to the Mother/Baby wing and act like normal new parents.

    The rest of our stay was much more enjoyable than the first 3 days had been. They were still watching my blood pressure, but I was allowed to get out of bed, shower (yay!) and take care of Anna. On Friday afternoon, someone from the pediatric unit came in to discharge Anna. She was ready to go home, but was stuck hanging out in my room until they let me go.

    My dad, Shannon and Rebecca arrived late on Friday night and it was so fun having them there! Friday night my doctor wanted me to get a full nights sleep, so they gave me an Ambien at bedtime. That meant someone else had to be there to care for Anna, so Aunt Shannon stayed overnight with us. I think that policy should be instituted at all hospitals. The night before they're sent home, all new moms are given a sleep aid and made to sleep at least 7 straight hours. I enjoyed one last special night with my old friend Sleep, and finally on Saturday morning my doctor was happy enough with my healing to send us home!

    Of course, our fun wasn't quite done yet. The following Friday I took my mom, my sister and my 9-day old baby to a doctor's appointment with me where they said my blood pressure was still too high and put me on medication. Medication which caused my blood pressure to go way too low making me feel absolutely exhausted and making me almost pass out twice (once in Target; it was a little humiliating to hang out on an armchair that was part of a display in the furniture section while my mom went to get me something to drink. People were staring). But finally I got off that medication and things started going much better! And now, minus the sleep deprivation, I can finally say we're doing great!

    And there it is - the whole saga of how our little Anna made her debut and made it interesting!

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    The Antepartum Suite

    For those of you who are familiar with the term "antepartum" and are wondering what we were doing there after delivery, let me explain. The antepartum suites are right down the hall from labor and delivery and my doctors thought it would be best if I stayed close by for a little bit so they could keep an eye on me. At this point, Anna was doing great, but I was feeling pretty crummy. Most of that time is a little fuzzy in my memory, but here's what I DO remember:

    I could not focus my eyes no matter how hard I tried. Everyone I looked at had two sets of eyes, one above the other. I'm still not sure if the extra set I was seeing were the upper or lower ones. I also couldn't read the clock, which was right at the end of my bed or see the TV very well. Oddly, I don't remember this annoying me. I think I found it kind of amusing.

    Most of the rest of the day on Wednesday I just dozed on and off and enjoyed cuddling with Anna when I was awake. The lactation consultant came in and tried to get us breastfeeding, but that wasn't happening. Jamie wound up giving Anna bottles for the first 24 hours or so (happily, we kept at it and I can now say breastfeeding is going great!). Anna's nurse came in at one point to tell us she had accidentally been given two hepatitis vaccinations. How does that happen?? We were concerned, but were assured she was fine. Several different hospital staff members came in throughout the day to talk to us about it. At one point, her pediatrician came in to tell us they'd called the CDC to check with them, and they said everything would be fine. I think if I wasn't so out of it I might have freaked out. Seriously, how does that happen?

    Wednesday night, Arri and my mom left and Jamie stayed with me and Anna. And that's when the you-know-what hit the fan. The first not-so-great moment came when my nurse told me I'd have to have ANOTHER catheter. Remembering how uncomfortable catheters one and especially two had been, I sorta flipped. I remember sobbing and begging her not to do it. All through the day I'd been having bouts of violent shivering. I didn't feel cold (although warm blankets seemed to stop it), I was just shaking uncontrollably. The shakes came back right about then, so I was a pleading, crying, shaking mess. It was ugly. Thankfully, this catheter was not as uncomfortable as they earlier one had been.

    Late Wednesday night I apparently had some kind of reaction to the magnesium. The nurse later said my magnesium levels were too high. All I know is I started feeling AWFUL. I was dizzy, my ears were ringing, I was nauseous and I was sure I was either going to pass out or throw up. Maybe both. We called for the nurse and after a few minutes waiting for her, we called again and told her to hurry up! I can't remember if it was me or Jamie who hit the call button, but I do remember insisting she come quickly! Which is really not like me, so I must have been feeling really bad.

    Shortly after the nurse arrived, I did get sick. It was horrible. I remember around that time telling Jamie that I felt so bad I just wanted to throw myself out the window. But I felt too bad to get up and over to the window. Which is probably a good thing since we were only on the second floor and a fall from there would have just caused me more pain.

    Thankfully the doctor took me off the magnesium at that point. For the next 24 hours I got really nervous every time they checked my blood pressure. I REALLY did want to go back on that awful stuff!!

    They decided after doing some blood work that I wasn't bouncing back from the blood loss fast enough, and so they started a transfusion. Also around that time the nurses decided leaving Jamie with me and the baby was asking a little much of a new dad. So they took Anna to the nursery for the night ("nursery" being a loose term since they don't really have a real nursery at NEGA; she spent the night in her bassinet behind the nurses station). Jamie was pretty relieved! He was doing a great job and was already becoming a pro at diapering and swaddling, but taking care of both of us at once was a little overwhelming to say the least.

    At some point - the timeline's a little tough to remember - my IV infiltrated. I'd never heard that term used before, and I'm still not sure exactly what that means, medically speaking. As far as I could tell it means your arm swells like a balloon and gets really sore. I couldn't straighten it out completely for days.

    My veins had apparently shrunk down into nothingness, so putting in a new IV was pretty tough. The lab people were also coming every few hours to draw blood and each time they had to stick me several places to find a decent vein. I felt like a pin cushion.

    Between being off the magnesium and getting a little extra blood, by the time they brought Anna back to us at 9 on Thursday morning, I was feeling a little better. The nurses told me as soon as the blood transfusion was completed I could move on to our next stop, the mother-baby wing.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Delivery Day!

    Our second day in L&D started at 6:30am when my nurse came in to wake me up. She told me to take a shower and they would be back in at 7 to start the second induction drug, Pitocin.

    I tried to get myself psyched up while I showered. I told myself my delivery could still go the way I wanted, even with the induction. Here's what I wanted:
    - Hold off on the epidural as long as possible, maybe not have one at all.
    - Be very proactive in moving my labor along by walking the halls, rocking in the rocking chair, etc.
    - Not have a creepy dude deliver my precious daughter.

    Let me explain that last one a little. I go to a very large OB/GYN practice. I considered leaving when I found out we were expecting, but ultimately decided I like my doctor too much. I stayed and saw my regular OB for all but a couple visits. However, I knew whoever was on call the day I delivered would do the delivery. So I was a little nervous about who it might be.

    My first disappointment came early when I found out Jack was on call that day and would be delivering Anna. Jack the male midwife. Don't judge me, but a male midwife totally weirds me out. I mean WIFE is right there in the word.

    On the plus side, Jack is what they call very "granola" and anti-epidural, so I knew he'd support me in having a natural delivery.


    I had to be on Magnesium (aka Devil Juice) because of my blood pressure. And because of the magnesium, I had to have catheter #2 (this was about the worst thing ever; so so so uncomfortable!!) And because of the catheter, I had to stay in my bed. On my back. Just laying there enjoying the contractions. So walking, rocking, etc. were out of the question. We decided to go ahead with the epidural pretty quickly!

    So day two looked like this - shower at 6:30, start the Pitocin at 7:00. Contractions started pretty quickly and were very productive, especially considering I was not dilated at all when I came into the hospital. By 12:30(ish), my water had broken on its own, my epidural was in place and I was 10 centimeters and ready to push.

    At least my nurse said I was ready to push.

    I on the other hand, felt way too drugged up and tired (a side effect of the magnesium and a pain killer they had given me when I was trying to hold off on the epidural). I asked if I could wait and the nurse, seeming a little confused at that request, suggested we try pushing for a while just to see how it went.

    Here's how it went - I pushed for 2 stinkin' hours, couldn't feel what I was doing because of the epidural, and I don't think that baby moved one centimeter.

    We took a break and the nurses left saying they'd return in 30 minutes. It was more like 45, and during that time my epidural wore off. I could now feel the contractions and was really feeling like I needed to get that baby out!! When they (finally!) returned, I pushed for another hour and finally at 4:45 our beautiful girl made her appearance. I was so happy to finally see her! Lots of people have commented on my pushing for 3 hours, but honestly that was the best part of the delivery. It was hard, I was exhausted, but it was nice to be doing something instead of just laying there in pain. And once all the after-delivery fun started for me, pushing seemed like a walk in the park. They put her on my chest and let me hold her for a minute before taking her to be weighed and measured.

    Unfortunately, that's when things started to get ugly for me. I was hemorrhaging badly and the midwife was trying to quickly stop the bleeding. This mainly involved having the nurses press on my stomach with all their strength. Super painful! I also needed a ton of stitches and basically was not doing so hot. As far as the day was from my ideal, this was my biggest disappointment. My sweet baby girl was being cuddled, kissed and loved on by her daddy, Nana and Aunt Arri and I was unable to hold her. One of the things I loved about our hospital was their policy of giving mom and baby bonding time. Typically the baby is given a quick once-over to make sure they're healthy, wiped off and handed over to mom and they're given up to 2 hours to bond before the baby is taken for their bath and immunizations in the nursery. I was looking forward to that and was really bummed that I couldn't take advantage of it.

    But our girl was BEAUTIFUL and healthy and I was so happy to see her precious face. Once they got me all settled we were relocated to our next stop on the NE Georgia Medical Center tour, the antepartum suite.

    A Funny Little Story

    Yesterday I was singing to Anna. She usually LOVES when I sing to her (she'll get over that as soon as she learns what music is supposed to sound like I'm sure). She was watching me and listening, pleasant and content when I decided to try "You are My Sunshine". I guess it's not my best piece, because as soon as I started to sing her lower lip started making its way out. As I sang, her pout got bigger and bigger until she finally broke out in a loud wail. It was hilarious to watch! I have to try to get the pout on camera. She just started doing it and it's so cute!!

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Labor and Delivery - Day One

    Once I arrived at the hospital, I was taken into a labor and delivery room, told to change into a gown and then the fun began.

    Because they were worried about my blood pressure, the put a cuff on me and set it to take my pressure every 5 minutes. Then they gave me a lovely plastic wedge pillow and told me to lay on my left side. Apparently this helps your blood pressure. It also gets really uncomfortable after several hours. This was also when they gave me the first of what would end up being three catheters. I won't go into detail, but catheter + labor? Not fun at all!

    Jamie got there soon after I checked in and I was so happy to see him! (Actually according to his security nametag, the man who came to my hospital room was Jamison Ho Falen. But whatever, he looked like my husband).

    The afternoon was pretty stressful. Every time someone came in, they told me something different. One moment they were concerned about my blood pressure and lab work results and were in a hurry to deliver and weren't ruling out the possibility of a c-section. The next my pressure seemed to be stabilizing and they were going to wait and let me eat lunch and then start the induction that evening. The back and forth was really frustrating! But by late afternoon they had decided to let me eat something and rest for a few hours and start the induction that evening.

    Meanwhile, my mom had changed her flight and left right away, so by Tuesday evening she had arrived. Jamie's sister Arri was in Atlanta taking care of some official business for her teaching stint in Korea, so she was able to pick my mom up and be there with us, too.

    By Tuesday night I was settled in, still on my left side (which was now mostly numb), just hanging out with Jamie and my mom in my room. We decided Jamie would go home for one last good night of sleep in our bed before baby, and my mom would stay with me overnight.

    Before bed, they started the first induction medication, Cervidil, and it started working right away. I started having contractions and they decided to stop the Cervidil and let my body do its own thing overnight. It was a good sign that the Cervidil started working so quickly and an indication of things to come! Mom and I tried our hardest to get a little bit of sleep before the real fun started the next day...

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    The Doctor's Office **

    My plan for Tuesday August 2nd looked like this:
    Doctor at 10:30
    Target and Babies R Us to make some returns and buy some still-needed baby items
    Home to finish washing and putting away baby clothes

    Here's what actually happened...

    I got to the doctor a few minutes early for my 10:30 appointment and was still sitting in the waiting room at 11:30. I was pregnant, hormonal, irritable and TICKED OFF when they finally called me back. When the nurse told me my blood pressure was "a little high" I had to try really hard to keep myself from responding, "Ya think??" I wasn't too concerned. She told me to sit and relax for 10 minutes and she'd take it again and see what happened. Ten minutes later, it wasn't any lower and they decided to put me on the fetal monitors to make sure our baby girl was doing ok.

    After a few minutes of monitoring, the midwife came in and told me that the baby looked great, but that my protein levels were high in addition to my high blood pressure. High blood pressure + high protein levels = preeclampsia. I really didn't know much about preeclampsia, so I was concerned but not too freaked out. Until she said, "Once preeclampsia starts it will continue to get worse until the baby is delivered. So it's time to have a baby."

    Wait...what? Like today? Yep.

    I asked if I could go home and get my things together and she said, "No I'm going to register you here and you're going to go right over and get checked in."

    Then I started freaking out.

    But honestly I was pretty impressed with myself for not totally losing it. I answered all the registration questions ("Are you planning on getting an epidural?" "Umm...I don't know I wasn't planning on being induced a week early..." "Who is your pediatrician?" "Umm...I hadn't chosen one quite yet." I was very helpful.) On my way out of the doctor's office, I called Jamie. No answer. I tried again, no answer. I think I deserve some sort of award for not losing it at this point. I called his office and spoke to the receptionist who told me Jamie was at a client's. Dang it. I tried his cell phone two more times and still no answer. And I STILL didn't freak out, thank you very much. I decided to call his office back and get the number for the client and call him there. But when I called, the receptionist told me they'd already reached him.

    Here's how Jamie found out about the impending birth of his daughter. He was sitting in a meeting with a client at her office when her phone rang. She answered and this is what Jamie heard:
    "Yes he's here....his wife's in labor?....ok I'll tell him."
    He called me right away and I explained I was NOT in labor, but I was going to be soon! He of course left his meeting immediately and headed straight to the hospital.

    In the meantime, I called my mom who was supposed to be arriving at 3:00 the next day. She had planned to fly in a full week before my due date so we could get some stuff done before the baby came. Obviously Anna was not waiting for her Nana. The doctor had told me the induction could take a while and I'd most likely deliver late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, so I told Mom she could change her flight, but she didn't have to. She did.

    So with both Jamie and my mom on their way, I headed over the hospital to have this baby a whole lot earlier than I'd expected!

    **This is a long story and I didn't figure anyone wanted to read a novel so I broke it into pieces. I decided the easiest way to do that would be by location. Tune in next time for the delivery room :-)

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Pictures of Our Cutie

    Anna loves being outside, so we've been taking her out in the backyard in the evening to enjoy the cooler weather. How cute are they?

    Tummy time! Look how well she holds her head up. We're so proud :) And that expression cracks me up.

    And last, but not least - it's not a fabulous picture, but I caught a smile! I love that she's smiling now. It melts me every time. And look how chunky she's getting!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    The Other Half

    Anna got to meet most of the Hotalen side of the family this past weekend (minus her Grandpa). We had a fun weekend and Anna loves her family!

    Uncle Aron

    Uncle Shane

    Aunt Julie

    Grandma :)

    Next month we're hoping Jamie's parents can both come up again for TFC's homecoming and Anna will get to meet her Grandpa!

    Today we had her 2 month appointment with the pediatrician and she's almost 9 pounds! She's starting to get a little bit better about sleeping and has even given us a good 6 hour stretch a few nights. She's also started smiling at us, which is the sweetest thing EVER! And she will hold eye contact with us now too. It's so cute when she just stares at me or her daddy. I always wonder what it is she's thinking. We're slowly adjusting to being home all day just the two of us. Some days have been harder than others, but we're getting there. It's a big adjustment, but I'm thankful for the chance to be home with her full-time! How could I not be when she's so darn cute?

    Monday, August 29, 2011


    ** Update: I fixed it! The albums were set to private so only I could view them. They should be good to go now.
    I added 2 new albums to the Picasa list in the right sidebar. One has all the pictures from Anna's birth and first couple days home from everyone's cameras. I almost deleted all the scary ones of me but then I decided if I'm going to share her birth story (that post is in the works) you all will understand why I look like that. The other is pictures from her first month. Most of them are stolen from my mom's camera. Enjoy the pictures!

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    First Bath

    Getting undressed

    "I hate being naked!!"

    Me telling Jamie to put her in the tub, and Jamie saying he doesn't want to be the one to make her cry.

    Before she started screaming bloody murder

    All done!

    All snuggly in her hooded towel

    All better, warm and snuggly with Daddy

    Combing out her lovely locks

    All clean and pretty

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    The Living Definition...

    ...of a dream come true.

    Anna Marie Hotalen
    August 3rd, 2011 4:45 PM
    7lbs. 0oz., 20 1/2 inches

    I'll write out the whole birth story soon. Warning: if you were planning on having children any time soon you may not want to read this one...

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    The Best Laid Plans...

    Remember this quote from my last post "when she comes on the 4th you may all laugh at me. Well get ready to giggle...

    Tuesday morning I had a 9:45 appointment at my OB. After waiting almost an HOUR I finally got called back. The nurse said my blood pressure was a little high. I was thinking 'Yeah because for the SECOND week IN A ROW you left me waiting FOREVER to get back here. And I'm hormonal and irritable.' I figured I'd relax, get another reading and go home. Maybe with instructions to take it easy.


    Instead they took a urine sample, put me on the fetal monitors and had me lay down to hopefully bring down my pressure. But the urine sample tested positive for proteins and though baby looked fine, my pressure stayed high. So I got what no pregnant woman goes into an appointment anticipating: "Go straight to the hospital. You're having this baby now."


    I'm posting from my iPod and it's tough, so I'll quit now and finish the detailed story later. But big picture: I'm at the hospital now and baby girl should arrive in the next 24 hours or so. Wish us luck!!

    Monday, August 1, 2011


    It's officially August. The month our baby girl will be born, and the month we'll celebrate her birthday for the rest of time. I can't believe it!

    I said to Jamie last night that I figure she'll be born sometime in the next two weeks, give or take (I wouldn't be too surprised if it's closer to 2 1/2. My official guess for her birthday is August 16th. You may all laugh at me when she's born on the 4th). That's crazy! Of course, if she loves her daddy, she'll come either on or before her due date or after August 14th. He has tickets to go to the PGA championship on the 14th, and we're both really hoping he can make it! He came home from work last week and told me someone offered him tickets, but the dates were too close to my due date (actually, his exact words were, "It's the weekend you're pregnant." But I knew what he meant). I told him take them! What a cool opportunity! If she comes early and we're settled at home with Mom here to help, he's going. Or if she's not yet arrived, he's going. We worked out all the details to make sure he could get home quick if needed - a little bit tricky considering you can't have a cell phone on when you're at a PGA event. And since he has two tickets, he has a friend going with him and that friend has another friend on stand-by, just in case Jamie can't go. But like I said, we hope he can! We'll just have to wait and see if Baby Girl has the same goal.

    I also realized last night that we're actually ready for her. There are still things I'd like to get done around the house (for instance, pooch needs a haircut REALLY bad!), but as far as baby stuff goes, she could come right now and we'd be fine. The nursery is about 98% done (stay tuned for a picture tour once my mom arrives on Wednesday; I don't want to post any pictures until she sees it), the carseat is here and just needs to go in the car. We have strollers, diapers, baby clothes and pretty much everything else we could think of to buy or borrow. Physically, this place is just about ready for her!

    Emotionally, I'm not ready yet! I'm not ready for pregnancy to end, and I'm not ready to go through labor and delivery, although I did get all teary reading my books on labor and delivery and picturing Jamie and I holding her for the first time. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around the ENORMOUS change that's going to take place in our lives. And as much as I dislike waking up several times a night for potty trips, I'm not expecting the sleep thing to get much easier once she arrives!

    But ready or not, it's August and our little peanut is coming! I can't believe how fast this 9 months went!

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    So I didn't have the best day. Not the worst day either. I was just kind of cranky. And really tired. But when I got home from work, our stroller had been delivered and there's nothing like putting together new baby stuff to cheer a girl up. Especially when the directions read like this:

    "Let the front foot move forwards , till make the joint send out a "Ka" noise"(wait foot? This stroller has feet? )

    "Waming: Don ' t open the safety lock while the stroller is opened"

    "Put the back foot upwards" (feet again? I see no feet on this thing)

    "Dial the safety switch off according to the direction, turn the handle off according to the indication"

    Got it. Believe it or not, it's not the most expensive, top-of-the-line stroller. But I just wanted something super light and basic for now until we can invest a little more into a higher quality jogging stroller. And this one not only does the trick - once I figured out how to assemble it - but also gave me a laugh on an otherwise cranky day. So thank you, Chinese manufacturers for brightening my day a little.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Prepare to Hate Me

    If you've ever been pregnant, you have my permission to dislike me. Because I'm finding this whole experience SO enjoyable! I'm not miserably uncomfortable by a long shot. We only have 3 weeks left, and as excited as I am to meet this little princess in person, I'm so sad that it's almost over! I'm a little bit uncomfortable and miss getting a full night's sleep, but I doubt that's going to change after she's born. And in the meantime, I love feeling her move and feeling like we have this special connection. I'm sure there will be times after she's born when I'm BEGGING someone else to take her for a while and just let me be alone. But right now I love feeling like she's just mine. Jamie and my friends and family can enjoy feeling her kick sometimes, and I know they love her already, too, just like I do. But she's literally always with me. I recognize her little movements and I'm starting to feel like I know her. I'm going to miss this special time! I feel like it just flew by, and now even though I'm so, so eager to meet her I'm not quite ready for her debut. And not just because labor terrifies me :)

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Getting So Close!

    Look at my little stork up there. He's really getting close to the end of that line! I can't believe our baby girl will be here in only 8 weeks! Sometimes it feels like I've been pregnant for such a long time and other days I can't believe it's flying by so fast! I have, of course, been terrible about blogging, journaling and taking pictures to chronicle this journey despite the fact that I was determined to do a good job! Oh well...I am what I am. And that's just not a journaler. Here's the 32 week shot:

    I can't believe I'm going to keep growing for 8 more weeks! I'm feeling like I'll be totally immoblized by the end. Which is why my mommy is going to come take care of me...and clean my house for me. Right, Mommy?? I actually have had a bit of a nesting urge lately and feel like I MUST organize every closet, cabinet and drawer in the house. Unfortunately, I haven't felt an uncontrollable urge to vacuum. So if you come to my house, please look at my ultra-organized master closet before you judge my disgusting floors too harshly. And remember, these carpets are getting torn out soon anyway. Speaking of, I highly recommend painting your house right before you get the carpets replaced. It's so freeing to not lay a drop cloth down and drip paint on the floor. I felt so wild and crazy. We really live on the edge around here.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    A Much Needed Update

    I know it's been forever. And you're probably dying to know what I look like these days. A line from the Gaston song from Beauty and the Beast sums it up best...

    "I'm roughly the size of a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!"

    That's the belly these days - growing ever bigger. Baby girl is still right on track and doing great. I'm the most boring OB patient ever. Everything is always right where it should be measurements-wise and I never have any complaints or concerns. Which is exactly how we want it.

    So clearly Baby Girl is growing a whole lot. There's been some other big changes here as well. We've taken EVERY BLESSSED THING out of the nursery and created a home office space in our sunroom (which I'm not allowed to show you, because my adorable husband is really excited to have my mom see the house looking so different next time she comes down; he doesn't want me to ruin the surprise by posting pictures). We've primed the nursery and are going tonight to get some of those nifty little sample size paints to try out a couple of colors on the wall. The installer comes tomorrow to get official measurements for our new carpet which should be going in soon after. Jamie is apparently nesting, because in the last few weeks he's begun a major overhaul of our frontyard, a project that in my opinion could most definitely wait until after the baby's here. But I'm not going to stop him! If you come to visit this fall and see a very torn up lawn, you'll know it's because the little one arrived before his projects could be completed. We've also acquired a new pet. I call him Louie:

    Neither of us is too freaked out by snakes and this kind is rather harmless, so we let him live. Plus, we're hoping he'll keep mice away and maybe also deter mama birds and bunnies from building their homes in our lawn. I much prefer seeing a snake in my yard from time to time than constantly having to rescue baby animals from Kona.

    One last big news item: Baby Girl finally has a real name! I thought we might never decide, but we finally did! And now you just have to wait 10 more weeks to find out what it is :)

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011


    Why living with my husband is so much fun:

    On Saturday, I had a home study visit with a family in Buckhead, a neighborhood in north Atlanta. I dropped Jamie off at a nearby Starbucks so he could read while I met with my family and afterwards, the two of us headed down to Ikea to look for bookshelves. We needed bookshelves for two reasons: one, we have a ton of books and have kept them in boxes in what will soon be the nursery since moving here in '08; two, we (rather, I) would like to create a playroom in the main living area of our house to keep baby toys in. Now, in my recollections, Jamie and I had discussed the need for two different sets of bookshelves and our trip to Ikea for that purpose. Apparently, we had not.

    We get to Ikea and decide to eat lunch first. We spent $8 on two meatball plates and drank water - typical for a Hotalen "date". We shopped for a couple hours, debated over shelves, selected (or so I thought) the best shelves for our purposes, wrote down the important identifying info and headed to the merchandise pick-up area to get our shelves, pay and head home.

    But in typical fashion, once we got to the merchandiser pick-up area, Jamie, bless his frugal little heart, couldn't commit to any shelves. We hadn't shopped around enough. What if there were cheaper shelves at Wal-Mart or Target? Finally realizing his hormonal wife was going to lose her mind if we went home emptyhanded, he agreed to purchase the shelves for our home office area only, not for the toy room. Now both thoroughly cranky, we pay and head out to the car. Only to discover that our purchases do not fit in a Camry - no way, no how. So Jamie decides the only logical thing to do is return them and forget about it. And we head home emptyhanded. And, on my part anyway, pretty irritated.

    And that was Saturday.

    Sunday, Jamie decides we'll go ahead and do some comparison shopping and if we can't find any cheaper shelves, we'll return to Ikea. Guess where we wound up? Now Ikea runs a special from time to time where you can eat for free if you spend more than $100 on furniture. When you checkout, you present your cafe receipt and the price of your food is deducted from the price of your furniture. Jamie, never one to miss a deal, decides to take full advantage of this offer. Remember our $8 meatball and water meals from the day before? This time, we spent almost $30. On food. For just the two of us. Jamie was hilarious. He got a softdrink and an orange juice; a meal, a salad, a dessert. He insisted I load up as well. Anything I'd ever wanted to try at Ikea, go for it! After all, it's free! You have to have witnessed Jamie's tightfistedness firsthand to really understand how funny it was to watch him but trust me, the amount of food was obcene.

    We got the shelves for the office area, but not the playroom knowing we could never fit them all in the car. We'd brought the Saturn this time, hoping the station wagon would give us more room. It worked, but it wasn't easy! The boxes stretched all the way from the back windshield to between the front seats. My job all the way home was to keep them from falling on Jamie and making us crash when he turned left. We drove home laughing about how ridiculous this was. And once home had a fun time putting them together and getting them up in our new office.

    Two full days spent shopping at Ikea...oh, Jamie, you keep life interesting!

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    100 Days!

    We are officially 100 days away from our due date today! Not that I expect this little girl to come on her due date. In fact, I have a very strong feeling that she'll be significantly later than August 10th. But we'll see! I've been wrong before. And though I'm sure I'll get impatient - and probably uncomfortable - waiting for her, I'm also sure she'll be more than worth the wait!

    We're still mulling over the whole name thing. I'm hoping we'll settle on one in the next month or so and then I can start giving you all some clues and letting you guess what her name might be. Yes, we are going to be one of those couples who keep everyone in suspense until the baby's born. You'll just have to be patient!

    This weekend, my parents made an impromptu trip to Georgia to see us. And my mom and I made an unscheduled trip to the OB to see the baby. After a few weeks of feeling her doing all sorts of acrobatics I noticed a significant drop in her movements. I felt her kick only once on Thursday afternoon and evening and not at all on Friday. I started to get a little worried! But I was pretty proud of myself for not losing it. I ate a sugary, caffeinated breakfast Friday morning, and when that didn't get her going I called my OB. They had me come in and did an ultrasound. Everything was fine of course. I guess she was just not feeling like working too hard! I was a little worried, and so relieved to hear everything was fine. And it was nice to have an unscheduled peek at my little one! She's doing great and weighs 1lb. 11oz. now. Only 100 days (give or take :) ) until we meet her!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Celebrating Easter

    I've been thinking a lot lately about our traditions as a couple. We don't have too many, but we've tried to establish some, because I think they're important. Not just for us, but for our kids. Traditions make people feel like part of group and build a sense of connection and shared memories in a family. So I want our children to have traditions that are just ours. We've got some pretty good Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions and my little book that I wrote about here is chock full of other ideas once we have slightly older kids.

    But I have nothing for Easter.

    Easter at our house usually goes like this: It's the middle of tax season. Jamie is exhausted and working long days 6 days a week. For a week or so before Easter I try to come up with something meaningful to do. Usually a day or two before Jamie's grandparents ask if we have plans and if we'd like to do lunch with them. And then on Easter day we go to church, have a late lunch with the grandparents and call it a day.

    It's not a bad way to spend a Sunday, it just doesn't have anything meaningful really. I want our Easter celebrations to enforce to our kids that this day is important. I hope that we will do a good job of teaching them year-round about Christ and His sacrifice for us; how He defeated death and opened the doors to Heaven. But if we're going to teach them 364 days a year that Jesus' death and resurrection are the basis of everything we do then shouldn't that 365th day, the day all of Christianity sets aside to celebrate his resurrection, be something special?

    So for the next several months, until Easter comes around again I'll be making it a point to take notes of any great Easter/Holy Week ideas I hear. Any suggestions?

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Happy Easter from the Hotalens!

    The Big Ones...

    The Little One...

    And the Dumb One...

    Who decided to take himself for a walk to Kroger this morning. In case you were wondering, chasing the dog around the neighborhood is NOT a good start to Easter morning. If you were looking to add a new tradition to your Easter Sunday celebrations, I don't recommend it.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011


    "That baby's gonna be honkin'. Every time I look at you, you're huger."
    - My co-worker Dani who comes from Minnesota, where, apparently
    they use words like honkin' and huger.

    She's right, though.

    A couple weeks ago, just before my trip to Virginia, Baby Girl decided to make sure Nana, Big Daddy and Aunt Shannon could see her. My tummy started to pop just a little.

    And then, suddenly, there was no stopping it. Practically overnight I went from "Is that a baby bump or too much dessert?" to "Most definitely pregnant". And now, I look like this:

    And now like Dani said, every time I turn around I'm huger! I love it though :) I'm feeling good and enjoying the whole pregnancy physique. Although clothes are becoming an issue...
    (Look, even Kona's getting excited about the baby!)

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Right Now

    Eating: Cheese fries with bacon bits and ranch dressing. Healthy, right?

    Drinking: V8 Fusion Peach Mango juice. Does that counteract the cheese fries:

    Listening: to the washing machine and seriously looking forward to clean sheets tonight!

    Feeling: Energetic! It could be some second trimester energy flow. Or the 3 cups of coffee I had today.

    Missing: these shoeless girls -

    Wishing: I didn't have to wait until August to meet this baby face-to-face.

    Wanting: A pedicure. It's getting pretty ugly.

    Loving: the warm spring weather we had today.

    Hoping: Baby DeVol's referral comes soon!

    Wondering: If we'll ever be able to pick a name for Baby H.

    Anticipating: My mom's trip to GA this weekend. I can't wait to see her!!

    Thankful: For a new opportunity at work that might keep me employed AND home with the baby come this August.

    I'm grateful for life today :) Hope you are too!

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Delicious AND Healthy!

    I love the pregnancy diet - eat as much healthy, nutritious stuff as you can. Plain and simple. I love eating a big salad, feeling good about all the veggies I'm getting and not worrying about the fact that the cheese and dressing is totally killing any weight-loss attempts.

    However, I'm not a huge veggie lover and I was worrying about whether or not my little peanut was getting all her nutritional needs met. So I decided to start making fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast. And I'd like to officially declare my first attempt a smashing success. Here's what was in it:

    1 C. lowfat organic vanilla yogurt
    1/2 C. frozen mixed berries
    1/2 of a medium-sized banana
    10 baby carrots
    1/2 C. frozen chopped spinach

    I blended all of that together until it was really, really liquidy (I did NOT want to find a chunk of spinach in my smoothie). Then I poured the mixture into ice cube trays and froze. Once the smoothie cubes were solid, I popped them out of the tray into a freezer bag.

    This morning before work, I put half the cubes into my smoothie cup that attaches to my blender (brillant invention by the way), added 4 oz. of Mott's fruit and vegetable juice and blended until smooth.

    It tasted so good! Very sweet, and not at all like a spinach smoothie. Definitely a great way to add some fruits and veggies to my diet! And freezing the cubes beforehand meant I only spent a minute making breakfast this morning (because - let's be honest - I would not have woken up early enough this morning to chop produce). I highly recommend giving this a try.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Isn't She Lovely

    I'm so excited and distracted today I'm just blogging from work. No actual work was getting done anyway. Why am I so giddily unfocused? Because we found out today...

    We're having a baby girl!!!!!!

    Isn't she beautiful? I can't stop looking at her. And I can't stop smiling!

    *P.S. I published a new post today, but dated it 3/12/2011. It's a new picture and I wanted it to be posted on the day I took it. So make sure to go back and check it out.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Can You Hear See Me Now?

    The littlest Hotalen would like to know:

    "Can you see me now?"

    I certainly can! What do you think? Do you see a big difference from 3 weeks ago?

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Worth Sharing

    I do not know this family or their whole story. I do know that due to lack of space in the local childrens homes, their children were living in an adult prison in Uganda. This is their homecoming.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    7 Days

    7 days until our next ultrasound.

    7 days until we get to see this baby again.

    7 days until we find out if we have a son or daughter.

    7 days that cannot go by fast enough!

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    So Glad He Gets It

    Phone call with Jamie as he heads home from the gym:

    Jamie: What's wrong?
    Me: Nothing. I'm just in a really bad mood.
    Jamie: I'm sorry. Do you want me to pick you up anything from the store?
    Me: We have ice cream and cookies here from this weekend so I think I've got all my bad mood food covered.
    Jamie: Ok, well stuff yourself.
    Me: I'm almost done the first sleeve of Thin Mints.
    Jamie: Well, start on the second. Remember, you're eating for two bad moods now.

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Do You See It?

    I was told twice last week that I'm getting a belly. I don't really see it. Although, I have invested in and gotten good use out of a belly band. To be fair, I think it has a lot more to do with the gallon of water my doctor is insisting I drink daily than the itty bitty baby I'm growing.

    But still, I thought I better start documenting before I really start showing.

    So what do you think? Do you see anything?

    By the way, this picture requires a lot of explanation. I look like that because I was about to clean my house and decided I'd rather waste time playing with my camera than clean. I'm pasty and pale because it's winter and I'm fair. That's the breaks. I'm standing in the middle of an open room instead of in front of a wall or something that would give you some perspective because it was the only place I could find to set my camera up and do a decent timer shot. Jamie was at work so he couldn't help. This was in the afternoon - 2 meals, 2 snacks and 1/2 gallon of water into the day. So I admit, when I wake up in the morning the belly that might be there in this shot is not present.

    Maybe there's no actual baby bump yet, but when I post another picture in a few weeks, you'll be able to look back at this one and say, "NOW I see it!"

    And now I'm going to take my poor neglected puppy for a walk in this gorgeous 70 degree weather. That way when I start getting a for real bump, I'll know it's not just the extra ice cream I've been eating.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    A Very Valentine-y Post

    I volunteer as a small group leader for the 8th grade girls at our church. My girls are amazing. I love them. I will miss them a whole bunch when a new baby and their middle school graduation end our weekly meetings this August.

    This month of February, the month of Valentines when everyone is thinking and talking about L-O-V-E we're doing a series on sex which our pastor is calling simply, "Boys and Girls". I LOVE doing this series. We go through something similar each year at this time, and I always look forward to it. Because I have such a strong passion for teaching young, Christian girls about sex and intimacy the right way.

    Last year when we were in this series, I asked my girls to tell me what they would think sex is like if they knew only what they've learned in church and at home. They used words like "wrong", "dirty", and "sinful" to describe it. "What about if you knew only what you've learned from school and movies and songs?" Their words then changed to "fun" "free" "passionate".

    It broke my heart. For real. Because it's completely opposite of what they should be hearing!

    I read this post today and thought That's what I'm fighting against for my girls. This married lady talks about the shame and guilt she associated with sex even inside her own marriage.

    One of my lofty, dreamy, probably-ain't-ever-gonna-happen goals in life is to address this issue on a much larger scale. As an author, or a speaker at girls' retreats. Because I think, as a church, we're doing it all wrong.

    I thank God for my family, my amazing parents who somehow managed to raise me with three very basic principles in regards to sex:
    1. It's for marriage.
    2. It was God's idea
    3. And it rocks. (Although, I admit, I don't think my mom actually ever used that term exactly)

    That's what young kids should be hearing from the church. Why do we use lies and shame and fear to try to keep kids from having sex outside of marriage? Are we doing kids a favor by teaching them that sex is wrong and that the consequences will tear them up? I don't think so.

    Here's what I want my girls to know:
    Sex is great. It's worth waiting for. You will reap the blessings of waiting for the rest of your life.
    You were created for sex with your husband. There's nothing wrong or guilty or shameful in wanting to be physically intimate with someone. That means your body is working right! And if you practice a little self control now and avoid temptation as much as possible, you get to enjoy that all the more later!
    Fidelity is a habit. You do not instantly gain the ability to be faithful to your spouse the day you say "I do". When you practice saying no to going "too far" with a boyfriend now, you are building into your future marriage. You're practicing the faithfulness that will safeguard your marriage in the future.
    No one is born pure, so there's no "losing" your purity, a phrase the church is fond of. We're all born sinful. To desire sexual gratification outside of marriage is the way we're wired. We don't keep our purity by crossing our legs, we gain it by being in the Word, by drawing as close to Christ as we can, by seeking out Godly accountability, by being cautious about the messages we take in about sex through movies and music. And we learn about sex the way God created it and strive to keep it that way.
    And, yes, there are consequences to misusing sex. I don't want to sugarcoat that part. There are consequences, there are risks of disease and pregnancy. There is guilt and a loss of the perfect plan God had. And there is also grace to restore.

    What I long for, is for my girs to know that sex is good. That it adds a depth of intimacy to a relationship that is beautiful. And that it is worth waiting for. Not because of the shame and guilt and consequences you'll suffer if you don't wait, but because of the blessings you reap when you do. I don't want them to think that sex is wrong or dirty or sinful. I want them to know that it's great and when the time comes they're gonna love it :)

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    A Bad Case of the Jumpies

    I haven't had many pregnancy symptoms. Morning sickness has skipped over me along with food aversions and any strong food cravings (so far). Although, I've always hated trimming fat off of raw chicken and now it literally makes me gag so maybe that's an aversion.

    But one symptom has been very entertaining for Jamie and I: I'm so, SO jumpy! Last night I was putting away some cookies and Jamie decided he wanted one, so he said, "Wait!" Except I thought he was in the other room. I jumped a foot in the air and I think my heart literally stopped for a second. And that's just one of many instances. My boss scares me every time she walks into my office. My phone startles me every time it rings. It's getting a little ridiculous.

    I know that might not be a by-the-book pregnancy symptom, but I'm absolutely certain they're related.

    So if you see me out and want to say hi, please do so quietly. Or at least be understanding when your kind hello makes me jump a mile.

    And speaking of nervous...prayers for our next appointment on Monday will be appreciated! I'm so nervous about it!! We'll be 14 weeks by then, meaning our risk of miscarriage will have dropped significantly. To me, making it to this appointment safely means I can finally relax, and really start planning for the future. I'm really anxious. After a lot of disappointment, it's hard for me to believe this is really going to happen. I keep expecting something bad to happen. So this appointment has me really worked up. Please pray we get to hear that beautiful, strong heartbeat and our little peanut is growing and healthy!!

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    In the Now

    I've always been a grass-is-greener person. No matter where I am in life I feel like I'd be just a little happier somewhere else. When I was in high school, I was sure I'd be happier in college (actually I was so...), in college I was sure I'd be happier out in the "real world", when I was jobless I was sure I'd be happier working, and then when I was working I was sure I'd be happier at home! (and then when I was unemployed again, I wanted to be working....and then when I was working again I wanted to be home...)

    I am fighting SO HARD to not let that attitude creep into this pregnancy! I find myself thinking If we can just make it to second trimester, than I'll relax and enjoy my pregnancy. I want to rush ahead to registering and decorating the nursery and buying maternity clothes even though I'm not at that point yet. It's hard for me to not think I'll be happier when...

    But I am really making an effort to slow down, enjoy it, soak it all in. Because there's a big question that always remains in the back of my head - Will this pregnancy be my only pregnancy?

    The fact is an infertile couple doesn't cease to be an infertile couple just because they get pregnant. It's possible we may never have any trouble again! We hope we'll go on to have 2 or 3 or 6 more pregnancies without a glitch. It's also possible that this one pregnancy is our miracle, our one trip down the pregnancy road.

    And if that's the case, I want to soak in every.single.moment.

    It's said that every cloud has a silver lining and one of the blessings of infertility is the deepened appreciation it's given me for the gift of this pregnancy. Delayed gratification and all that. I wanted it SO much for so long and I realize I may never have it again, so I am determined to enjoy the heck out of it!

    So right now I'm tired and I have to get up to go to the bathroom 17 times a night and I can't seem to sleep and I bawled my eyes out over "Oliver and Company" and a news story about a lost seeing eye dog. But I won't complain about any of that! Because I know what it all means. It means a dream come true. And though I want to skip ahead - to my next doctor's appointment when we'll be safely out of the first trimester, to the day I finally start to "show", to the day we get to decorate our nursery - I will do my best to live in the right now and remember that each second of this pregnancy is a blessing.

    Update 2/11/2011 12:50 PM I just got home from Target. I bought a couple maternity shirts. I don't need them yet. I just wanted to. There I go, rushing ahead :)

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    The Nazi Officers Wife

    I'm not at all qualified to write a book review, but I want to share my layperson's thoughts on the book I'm reading right now.

    It's an autobiography - true stories are always my favorite - about a Jewish woman in Austria during World War II. I love biographies, love reading about the World War II era, so this already has a lot going for it.

    Here's the amazing part: unlike the Jewish men and women in "The Hiding Place" and Anne Frank, Edith Hahn spent a good portion of the Holacaust hiding right out in the open. As the wife of a German Nazi officer.

    After being sent to labor on a German farm and then a paper factory, Edith was sent back to Austria to travel with her family to the ghettos in Poland. However, her family was shipped out before she got home and she decided to take a huge risk - she took the star off her coat and didn't report as scheduled to go to Poland. Instead, she found a friend willing to lie to Nazi officials, telling them she lost her official papers declaring her an Aryan. She was issued a second set, which she gave to Edith. Because they had now both assumed the same identity, Edith could no longer live in the same town as her friend so she fled. To Germany, the thick of the Nazi regime.

    A German man falls in love with her and marries her even after she confesses that she is actually Jewish. And so for the remainder of the war, she lives in Nazi Germany as the wife of a German man who later becomes an officer in the Nazi army. Not only is she thought to be a good German citizen, but as a German housewife and mother, she is one of Germany's prized possessions!

    Obviously what she endured was not as horrific as the suffering those in labor camps were put through. But still to read about what she went through is fascinating! To be greeted by "Heil Hitler" and pictures of the man who was destroying her family and friends everywhere she went, to listen to conversations praising "our great Fuhrer" and say nothing, all the while not knowing if her family was dead or alive...it was so interesting! She was a highly educated, intelligent woman who assumed a character of a simple-minded Red Cross volunteer to survive.

    It's not the best book I've ever read about this era, but it's definitely a different look at how some Jewish people survived! I give my hightly sought after recommendation :-)

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011


    Friday night I had the pleasure of going to dinner with three of my 12Stone girlfriends. It was WONDERFUL! We spent 3 hours eating and talking and just catching up. While I still struggle a little bit with feeling that Buford is not quite "home", I have really made some great friends here.

    The best part of our evening was that all of us are in the mom phase of life. We all either had babies, are expecting babies or are planning to have babies soon! So, of course we talked about babies the WHOLE night.

    And for the first time in a while, I got to just enjoy it! I loved planning this dinner and not having to emotionally prepare myself for the baby talk. I loved joining in and adding my own experiences so far! I loved hearing the other girls who are farther along the mom path than I am share their stories, knowing that would definitely be me someday soon! Instead of wishing, hoping and hurting.

    It was wonderful and I felt so so blessed!! God is good :-)

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    Official Baby Pool!

    So I was going to wait a little while to do this, but I got excited :-)

    Here's the link so you can go on and enter your guesses!

    You can guess the baby's gender, birthday, weight and length. Winner gets the pleasure of knowing they're not a loser!

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Telling People - Pregnancy Edition

    As you can probably guess, telling people about our pregnancy has been about as much fun as a person can legally have. Friends and family have been so supportive and excited for us! It has really confirmed my decisions to be open about our infertility. Allowing people to be a part of our struggle has really allowed people to be a part of our joy, too.

    When I made our pregnancy "Facebook official" (because until it's on Facebook, it ain't real!), I got a ton of excited encouraging comments on the sonogram photo I posted. One friend-of-a-friend said, "It's about time! I was wondering what you guys did with all that alone time." Now, to be clear, I was NOT at all upset by that comment. But it did make me think. What if we hadn't told our friends and family what we were going through? Could I have handled it if I was getting those "It's about time!" comments from everyone? I'll be honest, I don't think I could have.

    I strongly believe that every child is a blessing, and I don't think our baby is more special than any other or will be more loved than any other. But spending some time in the darkness makes the sun seem a whole lot brighter! And I'm glad our friends and family were able to comfort and pray for us during our "darkness" and can join in the celebration now!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Our Little Miracle

    Most of you who read this already know, so this might not be a big surprise but...


    We're due in August and absolutely COULD NOT be happier!! We were shocked and ecstatic to find out we're expecting. Here's the story :)

    On November 1st, I had my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy. Before the surgery, I had to be on birth control (ah irony...) which I stopped the day before the surgery. Because of the birth control and other drugs and the surgery itself, I was told not to be concerned if my normal cycle didn't return right away. My doctor said to call for a prescription to "jumpstart" things if my cycle didn't return to normal.

    In December, I decided it had been long enough and I should call my doctor and ask for the prescription. Ironically, I put it off for a few days because I knew they'd want me to take a pregnancy test first, and I was tired of taking pregnancy tests and watching them turn negative. Too depressing. So I waited until just before Christmas and called the office. No one answered so I left a message leading to a week-long game of phone tag that I finally gave up on because we went to New Jersey for Christmas.

    When we got home I decided I needed to call and get that medicine. So when I woke up our first morning home I took a pregnancy test expecting it to be negative. My plan was to take the test and then call my doctor, explain that my normal cycle hadn't returned and I was not pregnant and ask for the drug. But much to my surprise....IT WAS POSITIVE!! I was completely shocked! I spent several seconds staring at the test and the instructions thinking, "I MUST be reading this wrong!" Jamie had already left for work so I had to wait all day to tell him. It was TORTURE!!

    When Jamie got home from work that night I had a gift for him. I had wrapped up a baby's first Christmas outfit and the test with the very positive result. I left it sitting in what I thought was a conspicuous place, but he didn't notice (testimony to how disorganized our house is). Finally I said, "Don't you want to open your present?" When he unwrapped it, he just stared at it trying to put it all together. I told him, "We're going to need that next year." He looked at it again and finally said, "Are you serious?" He was completely surprised and as excited as a person can possibly be! We were already 7 weeks along and neither one of us had suspected anything was up!

    We've had so much fun telling friends and family over the past few weeks and have gotten to see our little peanut twice on ultrasounds. Watching that little heartbeat pumping away was the BEST THING EVER. I'm 10 weeks along and so far feeling absolutely great. No morning sickness or anything. I'm so very happy and feeling so blessed and excited!!

    I'm looking forward to all the fun (and even the not so fun!) things pregnancy will bring in the next few months! And especially looking forward to meeting this little one in August.

    I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has encouraged and prayed for us over the past 18 months! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Our Winter Wonderland

    Enjoying the snow together. Notice the chocolate still on Jamie's face from our s'mores earlier :)

    Our house looking so pretty in the snow.

    The snow in front of our front door. We had to dig our way out.

    Me and Kona :)