Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pregnancy Update: Week 34

Baby is the size of: A cantaloupe (22 inches, 5.5 lbs)
Symptoms: Same old. Same old. Everything has pretty much stayed the same except for the fact that I am beyond exhausted. I can really only be out and about for a couple of hours before I need to crash. I have also had the joy of experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. Yikes! On the plane coming home the other night my stomach was rock hard and Jonathan and I were convinced I would be delivering on the plane. Turns out is was just the air pressure. But it was crazy, having my stomach contract every 3 minutes. It gave me just a little taste of the real thing. 
Sleep: I am getting about 4 hours every night. I am starting to get very hungry in the middle of the nights. Jonathan finds it quite amusing when he wakes up to me chomping on pretzels or some other fun snack. Other than that I just lay in bed staring and doing a lot of thinking. 
Fun moment this past week: Being home was such a blessing to us. My Mom and my sister had the opportunity to go to one of my Doctors appointments with me and see Dalton. That was really special for us. He even winked at us! I have never seen him blink, so that was really cool. One thing in particular that we really enjoyed was our traditional game of Catch Phrase. Playing that game with my family has got to be the most amusing thing in this world. My belly hurt from laughing so much! Daddy just does not seem to grasp the concept that you need to speak quickly to beat the timer, though he loves to really think about what clues he is going to give. Then Kyle found a harmonica and started singing "the blues", making up songs about everyone at the table. It was quite the Christmas night!
Movement: The shifts in my stomach are beyond alien like at this point! You can see my stomach ripple and wave all at once. It's not just at a certain time of day either, it is ALL DAY long! He is such a little fighter. My Mom had her hand on my belly while we were home and he kicked it off, she told me that none of us kids EVER kicked her that hard. He sure is his Daddy's son with his soccer legs. 
What I am looking forward to this week: Our goal for this weekend is to get Dalton's room done. We started painting, but realized our Picasso skills were not where they should be so we have employed the handy dandy Brooke to help cut the edges. I think having that done will be a big weight off of our shoulders. Also, New Years Eve is already here! Last year we went out and partied like it was 2011, this year will be a little bit different. We have dinner reservations at a neat  restaurant for just the two of us. Nice and low key, just what we need. 
Reflections over this past week: Reading back on all of these pregnancy updates just goes to show me how up and down my emotions have truly been. Last week I was feeling good, this past week, not so much. I think that the fear is slowly starting to creep up on me. I think every pregnant woman experiences some type of anxiety but I just feel mine is so heightened. I know that it is just God's way of testing me to place all my faith in him or to waiver in any way possible. I am choosing not to waiver. Seeing people who are not as comfortable talking about our situation is kind of hard. I don't want people not to acknowledge what is going on. That just makes it harder for Jonathan and I, because it is our new reality. The reality is, my pregnancy is not normal, and our baby will have complications. Pretending like nothing is wrong is not helpful, nor does it make the situation just disappear. I guess I need to just realize that people deal with heavy situations in all different types of ways. I totally understand that some people just don't know what to say, but a simple "I'm praying for you" or "You're in our thoughts", is all I am asking for. Sorry for my little rant- it is just something that has been on my heart, especially this past week. 
Prayer requests: This week I ask for continued prayers for Dalton and that he may come out defying the odds working against him. I ask for the prayers that the fear that is starting to mount in my mind to be comforted by the fact that God is fully in control of our situation. I also ask for prayers that our anxiousness does not overcome us and that we are able to enjoy these last few weeks alone. Please also pray for Katie and Chris as they continue to grieve the loss of Hallie, their sweet angel girl. I know she and McKinley Grace are having a super fun playdate in heaven. 

 My beautiful sister and handsome brother.
 33 Weeks
 My 3 favorite men.
 Mommy and Daddy-LOVE
 Not too happy with this gift, thanks Mom!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Different Kind of Christmas

Ask anyone. I am obsessed with Christmas! This all began as a child, because I was born on Christmas Eve (Thanks Mom!). I usually start listening to holly, jolly music mid October. And my countdown begins well into the 100’s, regarding how many days left. This year was different. My “Christmas spirit” was missing. I guess it is just difficult to get into the mood with so many bigger, important things going on. I didn’t even want to decorate our new house or put out my 50+ Santa Clause collection. Jonathan was definitely concerned. He knew he married a Christmas nut, but this year I kind of just wanted the fun fluffy stuff that went with Christmas to just disappear.  I shopped because I had to, silently wishing gift cards were appropriate enough for immediate family members. I just did not feel like celebrating. With so much emotion mixed fueled by anxiety going on, how could I celebrate?  In the days leading up to my Birthday I am usually jumping out of my skin with excitement, but this year it wasn’t about me.

Coming home was probably the most therapeutic thing I could have done, but like I said it was different than before. I spent a lot of time sitting and just reflecting on our past months and how much it has changed me.  This year has been so pivotal in developing me as an adult, especially as a Christian adult. Actually stopping to think about the Christmas story has been very helpful for me as well. Knowing that God gave his only son to be sent to this Earth to save us from our sins was such a selfless act. It has gotten me thinking that God knows what it feels like to lose a child, and his Son was given to us with a purpose, just like all the little angels that have passed on before their parents.

Christmas Eve was particularly rough for me. I got the message that my friend Katie’s little girl, Hallie, had passed away early Christmas Eve and I completely fell apart, along with the rest of my family. My heart was broken and I was absolutely sick to my stomach. I cried as I asked my Mom, why God lets this happen, why he would bless someone as good as Katie with a child, and then allow her to be taken away. She explained that sometimes we never know why these things happen even though we may spend an eternity trying to figure it out. But she also reminded me of the picture that the book “Heaven is For Real” painted for us, all the children are seated closest to God and his angels are cradling the tiniest ones.  The whole situation just made the fear for what could happen to Dalton so real for my family. Yes, we are hopeful for our situation but as expected the fear is still there, and will be until we actually know the extent of his health conditions.

That night in church, I was just not able to get it together. Just feeling the power of God’s love throughout the church was way too overwhelming for me. The pastor spoke of why God chooses circumstances for certain people, even though they may not be the ones we would have chosen for ourselves.  Because he can. Talk about hitting a little too close to home! And of course the grand finale at every Christmas Eve service is always the candlelight singing of “Silent Night”.  Listening to the last line “Sleep in heavenly peace” was what I was praying for Hallie in that exact moment.  Overcome with emotion, Jonathan and I just fell into each others arms, sobbing as we were surrounded by our family and prayed over for our little boys healing.  Needless to say, my Birthday had definitely changed focus this year. 

Christmas morning was spent lounging and opening gifts. In the past Jonathan and I have spoiled each other with the latest trends and fashions. Not this year. He got me a beautiful small cross necklace to wear with my “D” charm and I got him an engraved leather Bible. Such small gestures, but ones that moved us both to tears knowing that this year our hearts have been changed.

Reflecting back on Christmas Day, it was exactly what it should have been. Family and friends remembering what the meaning of Christmas is. I no longer felt bad for not having our house look like Rockefeller Center, or shopping last minute for small gifts for our families. I got the Christmas blessing I wanted. All I desired was to be with my family and to be able to collectively glorify God through our time together. 

Mission accomplished. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pregnancy Update: Week 33

Baby is the size of: A pineapple (19 to 22 in. 4.9 lbs)
Symptoms: I feel like Dalton is starting his descent! He has definitely been pressing down on my pelvis a lot more which has caused some odd walking habits. My lower back may be the worse it has been this whole time this week. Honestly, I wouldn't give up being pregnant for anything. I feel that even with all the aches and pains it has been such a blessing for me to be able to experience this.
Sleep: Non existent with the backache and 9 bathroom trips in the middle of the night. Yes, you heard me, 9.
Fun moment this past week: We had a lot this week! It started off with a cookie exchange party at Brooke and Will's house. It was so beautifully decorated and it was nice to have an evening out where I could dress up. Then on Friday, Mary Riddick and Brooke surprised me with a pre-natal massage for my Birthday. It was heaven! I left saying I felt like I could carry Dalton for 9 more months, thats how relaxed I was. Of course that statement was promptly revoked the next day. On Monday, we had dinner with our new friends, Kalee and her husband Matt,  their friendship is one of the many blessings we have gained from this whole experience. You can read Kalee's blog here . I also got to come home yesterday! It is such a joy to be back in paradise. For now, while I anxiously await Jonathan's arrival on Friday, I am just trying to finish (and start) Christmas shopping, and spend as much time as possible with my family and Kristyn. 
*Side note- My sister, Brianna and I found THE outfit to bring Dalton home from the hospital in. It is absolutely beautiful and we both cried when we laid eyes on it. We knew it was "the one". Praying and hopeful he gets to wear it. 
Movement: Still quite active. I wait in bed every morning until I feel him start moving. It just brings me so much comfort to feel him start rolling around in there everyday. He likes to give what we call "shows", where he actually makes my belly shift from side to side really quickly. Dalton also has been loving on some chocolate milk. Whenever I drink it, he goes nuts! 
What I am looking forward to this week: Having Christmas with my family and the time we will get to spend with one another. I feel that this Christmas has a brand new meaning to us as a whole. Being surrounded by my family has already shown me that our situation has taught everyone something they did not know before. I think the true reason for Christmas will be glorified through our actions towards one another and conversations we have to glorify God even further. We know that he has his hands in all of this and that we were all picked to be a part of Dalton's story regardless of the outcome. 
Reflections over this past week: This was a much better week for me emotionally than last week. I have decided that where I am in this journey is exactly where I need to be. Everyone deals with situations differently and the fact that I am choosing to be as hopeful as I am is just right, for me. Science is not the tell all end all. We had proof of that this week. Hallie was born on Monday with Trisomy 13  and is already defying the odds. She came out with a strong heartbeat and breathing on her own. Then they tried to give her a bottle to drink from and she was able to! A baby with a cleft palette should not be able to drink from a bottle, but Hallie did. If that doesn't give everyone hope, I don't know what will. Continuing to keep up with Hallie's story is building my faith in our journey day by day. Catch up on her Mom, Katie's blog here.
Prayer requests: This week I ask for continued prayers for Dalton and that he may come out defying the odds working against him. His heart is still having problems growing, so specific prayers for the left side of his heart to catch up to the right side. Also, the ventricles in his brain are still enlarged , so prayers for them to not get any bigger in the coming weeks. We would also like to pray for comfort for Jonathan and I as our due date nears, that our anxiety does not get any higher but our faith continues to lift us up. Finally, I ask for prayers for Hallie as she continues her fight, and that she feels the love and support surrounding her. 
 Brooke and Will's festive luminares. Can you tell where Will works?
 Yummy...for those who could partake.

 Dalton was one happy boy that night. 

 Yah. No big deal. This is what Christmas vacation SHOULD look like.
 Brie by the beach.
 I took this in the car, while driving. But I had to show off my favorite part of Jupiter. 
 So happy to see my puppies! Latte is such a model.
 This is her pensive look.
Last but not least, the most gorgeous tree ever. My Mom never ceases to amaze me. The Macy's tree as Jonathan calls it. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pregnancy Update: Week 32

Baby is the size of: A honeydew (19 inches, 4.5lbs)
Symptoms: I am so uncomfortable! I just can't seem to get comfy no matter what I do. But that's okay. I know that my body is just adjusting to Dalton growing and I am okay with that. My back pains are just getting to be a little old, could definitely use a massage (hint hint Jonathan!).
Sleep: We have been so busy that I have actually been sleeping through the night. Though Jonathan tells me I am in fact waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom at around 3:30 every night. I must just be getting used to it and sleepwalking may be a new hobby of mine.
Fun moment this past week: Scott's antique market was a very fun little day for us. Our good friends, Brooke and Will came with us for buyers support. Will even found a treasure- a blue troll doll! Also, is it sad that I am about to say a trip to Costco? Yup, definitely in Mommy mode. I have gotten to the point where at the end of the day, the thought of cooking just seems so exhausting to me. So we went a little crazy in the frozen food section just stocking up on some easy meals. Also, at my Doctors appointment on Monday it was a no news appointment! My favorite kind. No bad news- so leaving with no news always seems exciting. 
Movement: It was funny because at the Doctor on Monday the u/s tech was moving the wand across my belly and Dalton kicked  completely on the other side and she said "Oh my gosh!Was that him? He is so strong!". That's one thing that continues to give us hope, he is literally fighting inside of me. It makes me so happy to feel those rolls, shifts, and feet digging into my ribs. 
What I am looking forward to this week: WE ARE GOING HOME!! I am scheduled to leave next Tuesday and Jonathan will join me on Friday. So now all I have to do is continue my Christmas shopping and start to pack. It is going to be so wonderful to be with family and friends over Christmas. Also, being in Jupiter has become like a fun vacation for us. It is just so relaxing, definitely a much needed trip. 
Reflections over this past week: I had the opportunity to meet with other Trisomy moms on Monday night which was a real eye opener. I feel like the experience was something great, because meeting so many supportive women was wonderful. But, I was also very quickly whipped back into reality. And I don't know if I was ready to be. That emotion from Monday night has been lingering through out this week. I had a breakdown in the grocery store over a gallon of milk yesterday, the Kroger employees must think I am a nut job. I think all of these emotions come not only with pregnancy but also with our situation, things are definitely heightened. I started to read the book I Will Carry You.  It is a mothers journey of carrying her daughter to term after being given the "incompatible with life" diagnosis. It is a true journey of faith. The scripture woven throughout the story has been very inspirational and great for points of reference. Everything she writes just seems to be exactly what I want to say, just much more eloquently done. My friend told me that I would only be able to take in a little bit at a time. I was expecting to be able to sit down and read for long periods of time (which is something very common for me). Unfortunately,  I can already tell it might take me a while to make it through. It's just so much truth and it gets to be a little much all at once. 
Prayer requests: This week I ask for prayers for my emotional healing. It just gets hard sometimes being hopeful at all times with the fears of reality staring me down. I pray that I can be in touch with the reality of our situation without losing the faith in miracles.Yes, science may be telling us one thing, but God is much greater than science. Something in the book I am reading reminded me not to go to God with a laundry list of things to heal but to let him know your problem and he will figure out the solution, according to his will. Continue your prayers for baby Dalton and that he continue to feel Gods love. Also, Hallie is due on December 19th, so I pray for a safe delivery of her into this world and that God gives the Doctors the knowledge to best aid her once she arrives.

Dalton's ultrasound from Monday- 32 weeks

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Dalton- A letter for my son

Dear Dalton,
I know you can hear my voice every single day and I absolutely love knowing that. But I wanted to write you a letter telling you some things that I may not say aloud as often as I should.
First off, I want you to know that more than anything in this world, I want you to know God. He is your creator, the one who has kept you fighting for so long when all odds are against you. He knit you within my womb, without Mommy even knowing it, and he continues to cradle you now. You are the greatest surprise blessing Daddy and I have ever had.
You have already taught Mommy and Daddy so much about ourselves and you have not even come into this world yet. You have taught us to fight for what we hope for, to not take "no, there is nothing we can do" for an answer, to love each other unconditionally, that not everything goes as expected, and most importantly you have taught us that with God all things are possible.
In your life you may encounter some people who may not put all of their faith in the Lord, and when you do, you need to pray for them. Understand that they may not have been put in a situation yet in their lives that has put their backs so far up against a wall that a decision needed to be made, trust in the Lord with all you have or fall apart into the deepest pit of sadness.  In our family, we choose to trust in the Lord. Though some of his decisions may not be the ones you were hoping for, they are in the plan and knowing that one day we will all be granted eternal life, should be comfort enough.
Just as you have been such a fighter this whole time, Mommy and Daddy are going to fight like crazy once you get here. We are going to fight the odds and with hope in our faith, we will win. It's not going to be easy when you do come into this world, for this we are sure. But when you do, we want you to keep that warrior spirit that we know you have within.
No matter what sweet boy, please don't give up. If you promise not to, we promise not to. We will never give up on you, no matter how long you are here. Whether we are fighting for your rights at the hospital,  at a school, or even with your future siblings you may tiff with, we will never give up on you. We made that decision when the Doctors recommended termination and we said "No!". From that point forward we have made it known to all that we will fight for you, our son, for as long as we live.
You are the love of our lives and you complete us.
I pray that we get the most time possible with you and we cannot wait to meet you!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pregnancy Update: Week 31

Baby is the size of: A larger head of lettuce (19 inches)
Symptoms: I feel like I need to start doing the hormone dance. I am beyond emotional right now. Maybe its the move, or the stress of the holidays but I am freaking out a lot easier nowadays. Also, my body is aching! I have taken on a pretty distinct waddle. I don't know how he can get any bigger without me tipping forward. 
Sleep:Adjusting to all of the new sounds in a new house is exciting yet anxiety ridden for a scaredy cat like me. I am just getting used to it. Luckily, I have been so exhausted from the moving and painting that I have been falling asleep fairly quickly. It is the staying asleep that is presenting the most problems. 
Fun moment this past week: The move! Okay, it hasn't been fun but it is exciting to come home to a place that is ours. Painting with all of our friends last Friday night was a good time to just relax and laugh (maybe it was all the paint fumes?). Also, my friend Mary Riddick bought Dalton and I the cutest story ever. It is called My Secret Angel and Me. The Secret Angel is a guardian angel that God sends down to watch over the children and report back to God about the behavior of the children. It's like Elf on the Shelf but it actually teaches about the meaning of Christmas. In the package they even include a little angel that you move every night around the house. I have always loved Elf on the Shelf but this has a lot of meaning and I can't wait to start it with Dalton. 
Movement: He is so active! The kicks and jabs have definitely subsided but I think it is because he is getting bigger (a great thing!). He rolls and I have a lot more shifts this far along. It is still so exciting every time I feel him. We have our quiet time in the morning when it is just the two of us and I just pray over his active little body as we lay in bed preparing for our day. I look forward to it everyday!
What I am looking forward to this week: This week we are getting settled into the house which of course includes, furniture shopping! Scott's Antique Market is this weekend in Atlanta and I do not think Jonathan knows what he is getting into. WE are so excited to go and spend ALL day on Saturday looking for pieces for our house. WE may even be the first ones to arrive!
Reflections over this past week: This has been such an interesting week. With the move my emotions have been very high. I go between being very excited about the future in our new home, to very anxious because now we are in the house, which means the next BIG thing for us is Dalton's arrival. We knew the time was going to come, he can't stay in my belly forever! But the fear of it all is setting in. Last night at small group we talked about hope. Not realizing hope and optimism were two totally different things. Optimism is thinking things are going to be okay based on past circumstances and what you already know. Hope is having faith that everything will be okay because you have put it all in the Lord's hands. With all the research I have been doing, I think the optimism has gone completely out of the window, where my hope can sometimes falter- something I really need help focusing on. I can say I have all the hope in the world until I turn blue in the face, but do I really feel it in my heart?
Prayer requests:This week I ask for prayers for our hope, that it be strengthened during this difficult time. We ask for our hope to grow as the days go forward and our anxiety only seems to get higher. We ask for prayers for all of your hopes to grow in our situation. Not to look at what is happening to us as something depressing but to look at it as a time to learn and grow in your own faith. I also ask for prayers for baby Hallie, as her due date nears. Last but not least I ask for prayers that the true meaning of Christmas is not lost in all the craziness that is inevitable with the holiday season. 

Oddly enough, I received my daily devotional yesterday and this was the verse that accompanied it. I think it just goes to prove that God truly does know what is in our hearts and what we need at certain times. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 15:13

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movin' on Up

We survived! Barely. What a crazy experience moving has been. Let alone at 31 weeks pregnant. We finally closed on Friday, after our closing date was cancelled two times prior. Jonathan was a little stress ball and all I could think about was how much work that needed to get done in a span of a 48 hour weekend. I know, I know it doesn't all have to be done at once, but it's just my personality.
Luckily, we had already packed most of the townhouse up. Which was pretty bittersweet for me. I love that townhouse so much. It was our first home together, and it was perfect. I'll never forget hosting our first Christmas party there. I'll never forget where we were standing when I came out of the bathroom holding two pregnancy tests and said "Uhhhh, we gotta talk". I'll never forget the night we learned of Dalton's diagnosis, sitting on the big couch holding each other, praying in the dark. I'll never forget the fire Jonathan started with papertowels over our gas stove, not realizing that it was, in fact, real flame coming out from the burner. So many memories, most happy and wonderful, yet some shocking and pivotal in our relationship together.
Getting the keys to our new house was so exciting. Jonathan was like a little kid in a candy store, beaming from ear to ear. He may or may not have done a happy dance.
We drove to the new house and immediately got to work!
Crazy 'ole me wanted the entire inside of the house repainted. Forgive me for not being gung- ho about canary yellow, electric blue, and lime green on our walls. We have been so blessed with such wonderful people in our lives that the painting didn't all fall on Jonathan. My brother came from Tallahassee to help us. Also, our friends Brooke, Will, Jennifer, and Matt came to assist in the "painting party". I find if you add the word "party" to the end of anything, people will come.  The pizza and beer were the seller for the boys. I left at about 10:30 pm to go back to the townhouse to get some rest but our sweet little worker bees stayed until 1:00 am. to get a lot of the painting done. Thank you all so much!
The actual heavy lifting started on Saturday morning. Jonathan and the boys got to work early and were pretty much done getting everything in by 4:00 pm. The painting, unpacking of boxes continued through Sunday night and we are exhausted. Jonathan's parents came into town yesterday to help expand our closet and remove some of Dalton's closet so we can have more room in the master closet. Sorry, Mommy gets first dibs on the biggest closet buddy.
There is absolutely no way that we could have done all of this without all of the help from family and friends. We are so blessed! Jonathan and I are very excited to start this new chapter in our lives and to prepare our home for Dalton.

We promise a housewarming party will happen...after the baby comes of course.

The packing begins.

Our lives all boxed up.

The boys ready to get to work.

We are home!

Walking into our new home for the very first time as homeowners.

This was what he had to run to the store for first thing.

Kyle is so happy to be helping.

Will was an expert taper once he figured out that tape goes on the trim, not on the wall.

Matt and Jennifer will always be a part of our master bedroom.

Brooke loves to cut corners.

Will taking a break, after 10 minutes.

He was SO happy we decided to repaint everything.

I got to take the first hit to expand the closet.

I liked it.

Koetter men doing what they do best.