Wednesday, October 30, 2013

growing a girl

Shortly after we found out that Baby 'Berts is a she, Joel and I were sitting at the dinner table daydreaming... imagining who she'd be, what she'd look like. Joel made a comment about having to wrap his brain around me being a mom to a girl. He said he always pictured me raising rough and tumble boys. I agreed immediately. And ever since then, I've been trying to wrap my brain around it, too.

Raising a daughter is such a terrifying responsibility. Such a mind-boggling privilege.

I've always felt growing a girl would be so difficult. Her tender little heart. Her breakable body. Teaching her about modesty, about heartache, about being honest, about girl friendships, about fractions, about taking care of herself, about God's word, about writing good narratives. Modeling wisdom, kindness, loyalty, sacrifice- things I find myself failing at daily, but that are so incredibly crucial. 

But then I think about my own mom. And how she did a pretty amazing job raising me (along with my dad, of course!), which I'm sure was a very daunting and trying job at times. The way she prayed and prayed and listened and listened. The truth she spoke. The times she forgave me. The times she disciplined me and taught me what was right.

And I think about my friends who are growing little ladies now. Who patiently explain the same things over and over. Who paint those tiny toenails. Who dress up and pretend. Who pray and discipline and speak truth into little minds and hearts.

Then I get excited. I get so so so happy to consider painting little nails and brushing soft hairs and dressing skinny legs. I get a shiver of enthusiasm to think about telling my daughter how her daddy pursued me and won my heart and swept me off my feet. I get tears in my eyes imagining the times we'll read picture books and pray and sing bedtime hymns. So basically I'm scared and thrilled. All at the same time.

Rachael puts it well here... "I look forward to opening my heart up a bit wider to the idea that maybe, just maybe… I’m perfectly cut out to be a mom of girls after all."

image here

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Second trimester faves

Now that we are officially into the third trimester, I thought I would run through a list of things that made my second trimester pretty great. Granted, it's often called the golden trimester, so I'm sure none of these things are all that earth shattering. I think most people have a pleasant second trimester. But they are worth mentioning just the same.

1. Oatmeal for breakfast. When I visited my friend Ashley her husband made baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning. I copied the recipe and have been making it ever since. Joel's a total cereal for breakfast guy, so I make myself one batch on Sunday night. It lasts most of the following week if I add milk and reheat it one bowl at a time. I should share the recipe here.
2. Walking. This is good for my mental state and provides serious relief for my pregnancy aches and pains. Plus, it's fall! Amazing weather!!
3. Maternity jeans. I spent more than I would have liked on a comfy pair of Gap skinny jeans. At first I really doubted my decision, but after about a month, I can happily say they were a great purchase. I wear them all weekend most weekends. Plus some evenings after work.
4. Cheese sticks. Holy smokes I go through these things like candy. I have tried all different kinds and my favorite are the Giant brand of Colby jack sticks. Trader Joes makes good ones, too. They are an easy, delicious source of protein, which is super important in pregnancy.
5. Lime in my water bottle. Since my last midwife appointment I have been trying to drink even more water. I get bored, though, so adding lime makes it a bit easier to swallow. Literally.
6. My husband. He should really be number 1 on this list because he has made this second trimester, as well as the first, completely awesome. I'm so so so thankful to have him as my partner in crime in this whole baby-growing shindig. Joel has given me so many back rubs, washed so many dishes, listened to so many lame worries, taken so many evening walks, etc. etc. etc.

Here's to just about 13 more weeks until we meet our little dancing bean of a daughter!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm petrified!

I was trying to explain this to Joel before school this morning.

When we found out we were expecting, I was so so so excited. I was surprised, yes, and definitely relieved that nothing was wrong with me. But mostly I was just pumped. And I've continued to be really excited ever since.

Now? I'm mostly petrified.

I'm so nervous about how things will change. I'm so scared to mess up. I'm so preoccupied with balancing work and home and family and life in general.

How will a baby affect my marriage? Will I be able to maintain breastfeeding once I go back to work? How will I get my grading done? Will I lose friendships? Will the baby cry so loud she wakes up the neighbors? What if she gets really bad diaper rash? And how am I going to put these microscopic diapers around her little body? What if we pick the wrong pediatrician? What if she has fluid in her lungs when she's born? How do I know what humidifier to get? Will she sleep through the night ever? Will I be consumed by her at the cost of my other relationships? In my hormonal post-partum state will I try to make people wear full body armor to ensure she doesn't get their flu germs? Will I critique Joel and others on their care of the baby? Will I cry a lot? Will I have to get an episiotomy? How can I help my body heal and recover quickly? What if I can't sort out a good time to pump at work? What if my milk supply dwindles? Who can we get to watch the baby for the random in-between days/weeks? What if she gets sick and I'm at work? Whose insurance should she go on?

Okay, so in reality none of these things are earth shattering. And they actually don't even cover the fears related to my responsibility of raising a daughter. That's a whole post in itself!!

But somehow typing out my worries and concerns helps me feel a bit better about them. Some of my questions are irrational. Others can't be predicted. Others are solved by a little planning. They all need to be surrendered to a God who is sovereign and loving.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

pregnancy: week 26

Week 26 was a busy one! Joel spent all day Friday at the regional cross country meet, where two of his runners qualified for the state meet next weekend. Then we had a junior high lock-in, immediately followed by the fifth annual "Oktoberfest" fall part with our group of friends. All this after a full work week. Phew.

Now, all of a sudden, we're into the third trimester! People are making all sorts of comments about how I don't even look pregnant, but I definitely do. I'm getting "congratulations" from random strangers in the mall and ladies in the Target line asking when I'm due. There's a baby on board, folks. I think she's just tall and skinny. :)
Week 26
0 appointments available for my upcoming one-hour glucose screen. Guess I'll just show up and wait.
1 natural childbirth class registered for & deposit put down!!
7 hours of sleep in the church basement where I hogged two couches to make myself a semi-comfy bed at the lock-in
2 hours spent running around town looking for items on the scavenger hunt with middle school kids
1 performance for Grandparents' day which also equaled 1 half-day Friday for me!
2 sweet baby gifts received in the mail
1.5 hours spent eating Chick-fil-A and visiting with local friends
3 small bowls of chili sampled at Oktoberfest
2 tiny sips of Joel's fall beer (which, interestingly enough, didn't taste all that good to me.)
(And now for a realistic pregnancy photo. Sweatpants and my favorite T-shirt that's quickly becoming too short for the bump!)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

what we've been up to

As I mentioned in last week's stats, time has been flying lately! I can't believe this weekend will be the end of October. Didn't the month just start? And isn't our anniversary closely followed by Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years, then BABY TIME?! Holy smokes.

We're both busy with work, but there are a few other things in life keeping us occupied. Here's what we've been up to:
Growing. My belly is growing. The baby is wiggling. We're growing as a couple and as a family.
Cleaning. Sorting. Organizing. Nursery stuff, new guest room stuff, basement office stuff, etc.
Writing thank you notes. We've already been blown away by the generosity of our family and friends. Wow.
Celebrating my 29th birthday. Sometimes I wax poetic on my birthdays and write some sort of sentimental schmooze, but this one was spent relaxing with my favorite guy and feeling my daughter kick like an absolute maniac during a 3D movie in the theaters. That's about all, folks. :)
Planning. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the upcoming holidays and how they'll affect our little family. Not to mention figuring out childcare arrangements for the last part of the school year.
Registering. For childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, etc. etc.
Emailing. This seems to be one of my favorite hobbies. Though I like the convenience of email, it does get exhausting sometimes.
Talking. I love telling people about our baby. It's so exciting when they notice my bump and ask questions. Tonight as we left Chick-fil-A a random man held the door for us and said, "Congratulations," to Joel when he saw my belly. Cute!
Reading. I haven't been good at finishing many books this pregnancy... but I'm still making progress on "The Birth Book" and am learning lots of good information.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

nursery progress

Oh, what's that you say? This doesn't look like progress? Whatever do you mean?!

Last weekend Joel and our friend Ben moved the guest room furniture out of the nursery and brought Baby 'Berts her dresser from the basement. Joel put a few clothes away in the closet and made piles of the other baby stuff we've gotten.

When I came home I made completely new piles, including one for the thrift store. :) I also hung up the closet curtain (which still needs to be hemmed...) and set out the things I plan to put on the gallery wall. Then I made a big stack of tiny clothes that need to be washed before they fill up her drawers.

The crib will go where the dresser is now. It's the only spot where the baby won't be directly in front of the air conditioning unit that goes in that window. The brown curtains are coming down and being replaced by lace sheers that I got from IKEA. We'll install black-out blinds behind the curtains for darkness during nap times.

Our ERGO carrier and diaper bag backpack are hanging on the coat hooks behind the door. The new clock is from IKEA... I like how modern it is; a nice balance to a lot of old stuff we'll hang to give the room some history. Since these photos were taken we actually received our infant car seat and a little napper, plus we put together the IKEA play gym. So her room actually looks a tiny bit more lived-in, even though it's not yet. How exciting!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

pregnancy: week 25

Wait, wait, wait. How are we all of a sudden 25 weeks into this pregnancy?! My mind is really struggling to grasp reality here, folks. Time is flying and this week went by in the blink of an eye.
Week 25
45 minutes spent with an ultrasound tech who said my fluid levels AND our baby girl are perfect!!
1 new t-shirt I can sport to support Joel's favorite team
90 minutes spent vomiting my dinner into the toilet after a fluke episode of food poisoning last night. ick. 
3 baby gifts arriving via mail
2 hours spent digging and sorting through stuff in the nursery
9 fourth grade girls who are thrilled to know that Baby 'Berts is a little lady... "There's another girl in the class now! I know we can't see her, but she's here!"
1 leg cramp (mostly due to dehydration from sickness last night)
20 minutes spent with the midwife who was encouraging about everything but said I need to be drinking even more water, which feels impossible
2 weeks left in this trimester. Or is it just one....? zoiks!

Monday, October 14, 2013

pregnancy: week 24

Week 24

2 hours spent in the hospital, getting checked to make sure there was no amniotic fluid leaking: there wasn't!
380 miles driven to NY to visit Baby 'Berts' potential future boyfriend, Judah
6 new girly onesies purchased at a consignment store
3 days wearing gray over the growing bump that is our daughter
101 minutes walked to ease my aching joints & back
4 days of school (before a 4 day weekend!)
5+ pieces of furniture moved by daddy-to-be so the baby's room can be set up soon!
Sometimes I freak myself out that I'm not "big enough," which I know is absurd. But I get worried that the baby isn't growing the way she should, or that I'm not giving her enough nutrients.

These photos will be fun to look back on someday, but they're also helping keep me sane: my belly is definitely getting bigger. I need to relax. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Your love is strong

Last May I drove north through Pennsylvania and into New York, all the way to the Buffalo area. I spent the weekend with my college roommate as she mourned the loss of her sweet baby at 12ish weeks gestation. My heart was breaking and tears streamed down my face nearly the entire drive. 

One of the songs I had on my iPod that trip was Jon Foreman's "Your Love is Strong." I balled like a baby, prayed like a mad woman and struggled to understand the complexity and sorrow that is life on this earth. I somehow mustered enough energy to get out of the car and put on a happy face upon arriving in my friend's driveway.

Today, I drove to work in Philadelphia and put the Jon Foreman CD into my player to distract myself from the ever-present traffic jam. Once again, I balled like a baby and tears were falling as I was hit by the beautiful, awesome reality that is life on this earth. 

Two days from now I'll be making that same exact trip to upstate NY, this time to meet and snuggle my friend's new baby boy. And I'll be carrying my own little girl quietly inside. And we'll be plotting the ways we can set our kids up for prom their senior year ;) The Lord has done such miracles in our lives and I'm speechless when I try to grasp his goodness and grace.

The past week, with all its uncertainties and fears and concerns over our baby's health, does not in any way diminsh the fact that Christ's love is strong. If anything, the past week confirms 10 fold what I know and have seen to be true: "Two things you told me. That you are strong. And you love me. Yes, you love me."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

pregnancy: week 23

Week 23 was quite a doozy, what with finding out we have low amniotic fluid and the daddy-to-be leaving for a weekend wedding in Chicago. However, it was still a full, beautiful week with some growth and movement from little lady 'Berts. Plus, I wore my new favorite pants- maternity cords from Gap for the win!

Week 23
45 minutes laying on a comfy table watching our girl move around and wave at us
1 visit from Grandmom Nelson (who brought all sorts of cute girly clothes!)
3 days of hot, nasty, sticky, Indian summer weather
1/2 chimichanga from our new favorite Mexican restaurant consumed (I ate the rest for lunch 2 days later!)
0 cokes consumed
5+ times Joel called our little lady by name
1 huge, amazing, bright poster bought for baby's nursery

Monday, October 7, 2013

On being anti- yellow

Reason 995 I'm so happy we know our baby is a girl: I don't really like yellow all that much.

(Though I don't want a million pink things around my house either, thank you very much)


Sunday, October 6, 2013

a pink future!

It appears the Alberts family has a pink future ahead!

Joel has already started looking for the place to buy the biggest, most intimidating shotgun that he can clean in about 25 years when our baby girl starts bringing home guys to meet us. ;)
Before the ultrasound tech gave us the scary news about our low amniotic fluid, she told us (with just a tiny bit of hesitation) that she's fairly certain our baby is a daughter. We were both surprised and thrilled and just happily overwhelmed with love for this tiny lady!

I was a complete wreck over the idea of her suffering inside me with too little fluid, but Joel was kissing my belly and calling her by her name and asking how "his girls" were doing. It was such a helpful balance to my fears and insecurities. He immediately called his parents and texted his friends and started offering her as a prom date for multiple little boys we know ;)

It took me much longer to wrap my brain around the idea that I have a daughter. A tiny little girl in there. Once I settled down, I started talking to her, too. My mom arrived the following day, with all these sweet girly clothes. That helped a ton.

As we move into this new week and plan to call for a follow-up screen to get a better glimpse at the baby, I'm covered in peace and certainty that God formed this daughter of ours. That she's His daughter first, and he's given her to us for a sweet sweet purpose.
P.S. EEK! All this pink! So wonderful!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ultrasound update

I didn't mean to keep all you amazing, kind, wonderful readers in suspense about the big ultrasound this past Thursday night. Please forgive me for unintentionally leaving the Internet world hanging...

Our baby's heart looks perfect. We aren't really sure why the ultrasound was ordered, but it appears to be God's good provision. While at our appointment, we got a good view of all the baby's vital organs, heart rate, etc.

Sadly, we also found out that the amniotic fluid level is very low. This is quite alarming and upsetting and brought me quite a few tears of distress and guilt, in addition to a near sleepless night. It seems like the baby is still growing just fine, despite having little fluid to swim in. However, my midwife has ordered a follow up screen at the fetal diagnostic center to get a closer look and see if the reason for this low level can be determined and/or to see if the baby has been negatively affected by the lack of fluid. She also very calmly and kindly recommended a natural supplement I can take three times daily to help balance the fluid level.

I've been praying for a miraculous increase in fluid to occur at any moment. It feels awful to be out of control, but somehow it also feels kind of amazing to truly rest in the Lord's care. Because now I really have to live what I've been saying I believe all this time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

tomorrow's ultrasound

Tomorrow we'll get another glimpse at our little munchkin!!

Fortunately, now that my insurance with my new job has kicked in, we aren't limited in where/when ultrasounds can get done, so Joel made an appointment for us to go together in the evening, at a hospital nearby. Our appointment is at 6:45pm, and as I anticipate the time, I'm filled with all sorts of thoughts...  

What if something IS wrong with the heart? What if we can't find out the sex again? What if we do... will that change us somehow? Am I more likely to buy silly stuff if I know whether the baby is a boy or a girl? If we find out, are we ruining an amazing surprise come January? Is the ultrasound going to harm our babe-- this is now the third one we've had?! Why on earth didn't the tech tell us we'd need another ultrasound? Has the rest of our baby's body caught up with its skinny long legs? My goodness, what if something is really wrong with the baby's heart? 

The fears and worries can consume me.

But I'm busy at school and don't have a spare second to be afraid. Plus, I can feel so many movements throughout the day that I know at least Baby 'Berts is active and strong. So there's that. :) And there's the fact that nothing is in my control and I serve a good, powerful God.

Anyway, if we do find out whether this baby is a miss or mister, we'll be reporting quickly to our family and friends. We'll post here, too, because I can tell you readers are a curious bunch ;) 

P.S. Do you read YoungHouseLove? Well, they're pregnant, too! How fun!