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Birth Story: Josephine

08/22/2016

On Tuesday July 12, I headed to my OB’s office for my 39 week check up. My body showed no signs of progress from the previous week; still just 1 cm dilated and 40% effaced. I was thankful for a healthy baby and me and everything going well. Jason was scheduled to go out of town for a few days, leaving Wednesday night. He wouldn’t be more than a few hours away so we figured it would be fine for him to go. After all, I was in labor for 24 hours with Isaiah.

After my appointment I went to my parents house for lunch and to meet back up with Ali and Zay since my mom had been babysitting during my appointment. My friend Lisa who visiting from California joined us for an early afternoon swim. While in the pool I noticed I was having quite a few contractions. I had been having contractions around every 20-30 minutes since the beginning of June so it wasn’t too alarming but they did seem more frequent. After the kids’ afternoon naps, my mom, Ali and I went to the hospital for a tour of the labor and delivery area. I had just been there a year before, of course, but my mom had not so I wanted her to see where to go when she would come with Ali and Zay to meet JoJo. My mom drove and I timed my contractions. They were hovering around 10 minutes apart. All throughout the hour-long tour I continued timing contractions. Afterward we met Jason, Zay and our friend Matt for dinner at Calypso as I continued recording my contractions. I thoroughly enjoyed my black bean nachos, aware that it might be my last meal for a while.

As soon as we got home I finished packing Ali and Zay’s overnight bags and then we put them to bed as usual, still not confident that the contractions wouldn’t slow down and taper off when I went to bed like they had many other days prior. I took a shower and then meandered around the house packing the last things in my hospital bag. I started using an app to time my contractions. I bounced around on my exercise ball, doing my PT exercises, while I looked through the beautiful new baby book that had arrived in the mail that day from my sister. At 11:00 I decided we better let my parents know that we’d be going to the hospital at some point that night. My dad came over and got comfortable on our couch for the night. We left for the hospital around midnight, shortly after my app said this:

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We arrived somewhere around 12:15 am and were back in triage around 1:00 am for me to be evaluated. I was 3 cm dilated at that point. I let the nurse know that I was planning on getting an epidural…soon. She left to call my doctor. Half an hour passed and my contractions were getting more intense. I needed to use the bathroom so Jason went out to the hall to find a nurse. My doctor had asked the nurse to check me again in an hour. For some reason she hadn’t come back to tell us that. When she checked me again at 2:00 am I was 4 cm. My contractions were getting painful. I was mentally prepared for an epidural and I was not enjoying the contractions at all. I focused on a cross on the wall above the doorway with a little metal Jesus with His arms raised up to Heaven, whispering for Jesus to help me and give me strength as I breathed through the contractions.

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By the time we got back to the labor and delivery room it was close to 3:00 am. Jason went to get the rest of our bags from the van while the nurse connected my IV and got some things set up. The anesthesia team came around 3:45 and by 4:00 I finally had some relief! I thoroughly enjoyed watching my contractions on the monitor without having the intense pain with each one. They were 1-2 minutes apart, compared to my labor with Isaiah where they were never less than 5 minutes apart. When the nurse checked me again at 4:45, I was 8 cm dilated. She left to call my doctor who was on call but still at home. Less than 10 minutes later I heard a “Pop! Pop!” over Josephine’s heart rate monitor and felt a warm gush of water. I paged the nurse to let her know my water had broken. She came back quickly and check me again. “You’re complete!” she said. Complete? What?! 10 cm already. I couldn’t believe how much faster it was going this time. And my doctor was still at home…

“Try not to push,” the nurse told me when I confirmed that I was feeling a lot of pressure. “Let me know if you feel even more pressure and feel like you need to push.” As the nurse rushed to get the delivery equipment set up I started wondering if Josephine was going to slide right out onto the hospital bed. It felt like her feet were pushing against my ribs as her head was getting ready to emerge. My doctor came rushing in at 5:30 am. As she was putting on her gloves she told me to scoot down to the end of the bed. I told her I wasn’t scooting until her hands were ready to catch the baby! After a couple of test pushes, with the first contraction and one push her head came out. A second push and she was out! Josephine came out crying. (Isaiah never cried when he was born but I cried as soon as I held him.) I laughed! I could not believe how quickly and easily labor had gone this time. The cord had been around her neck twice and the doctor needed to clamp it off and cut it in order to get her loose. Jason still had an opportunity to cut the cord as well. The nurse put Josephine right on my chest as she wiped her off. Immediately Jo was trying to nurse. She was so ready to come out and get this party started. I let the nurse take her aside for a few minutes to finish cleaning her up and get her height and weight while my doctor finished stitching me up.

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We ended up missing an entire night of sleep, just like with Isaiah’s birth, but thankfully the labor was so much faster. By late morning we were in our postpartum room ready to receive our first visitors: Grandma, Ali and Zay.

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Jason’s parents, Nana and Papa, came next

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My sister and her kids had planned a trip to visit during the week of my due date and ended up flying in from Philadelphia late the day Jo was born. It was so special to have her here! Aunt Jessica and cousin Iris came to visit on Thursday.

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Uncle Dan (Jason’s brother), Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza came to visit too.

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We also had a handful of friends come by to meet her at the hospital. I love hospital visitors! Early Friday morning July 15 (on Josephine’s due date) we headed home.

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Josephine Louise – 34 Week Update

06/06/2016

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It’s been 10 weeks since my last update on my pregnancy with little Josie Lou or Baby JoJo or whatever nickname I’m trying out at any given time. We’ve both grown a lot. I hope she’s not hurting the way I am. I was reading the other day about what happens to your abdominal muscles when you’re pregnant, which is pretty fascinating. But also that it takes time (duh) and certain exercises (oops…) to regain your core strength after having a baby. After Isaiah was born my lower back was still hurting for much longer than I expected and I certainly hadn’t regained my ab strength. Then I got pregnant again. No wonder 1. my baby bump popped out so quickly, 2. I look like I’m 4 weeks further ahead than my last pregnancy despite my fundal height measuring right on track, and 3. my lower back is very unhappy with me. Project regain core strength is set to begin 6-8 weeks after Jo is born. In the meantime, I’ve been waddling around trying to make the best of it and enjoy my pregnancy.

When barefoot and pregnant goes wrong…

Last week while I was bringing in the outdoor cushions in our courtyard before a storm—yes, barefoot and pregnant—when I accidentally stubbed my middle toe on my right foot really hard on the corner of the concrete step. Ouch! I’ve never had a stubbed toe hurt so bad. In fact, I’ve broken toes once or twice and it didn’t hurt that bad. Two days later my foot look like this and I still couldn’t walk on it.

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Time for an X-ray. The NP confirmed it is broken (the third bone in, the proximal phalanx) and set me up with buddy taping and a splint (lovingly known as “the boot” around here). She says it’ll be healed up in about 6 weeks…which comes out to a week before my due date. I went from waddling to hobbling. It’s been…ROUGH. I’m really trying hard to keep a positive attitude but some nights I just sit in the shower and cry from the pain and exhaustion. And the pregnancy hormones, obviously…

A little recap of my weekly #martinababybump updates on Instagram, weeks 8-32:

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Last week at 33 weeks:

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I’m now 34 weeks.

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I’ve been doing a lot of this lately…attempting to rest while also giving my kids supervision and opportunity to play. I had been going for walks every day but now swimming and hobbling are my only forms of exercise. The latter is surprisingly exhausting.

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My fingers have been swelling, especially out in the summer heat and humidity, so I’ve removed my rings from now until whenever I can get them back on. After Isaiah’s birth, I couldn’t get all my rings back on for at least 8 weeks.

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I’ve been nesting as much as I can manage. I took advantage of some sales and a coupon and got a big delivery of diapers the other day, two boxes for Zay and four for JoJo.

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With the $15 in gift cards I got with my order, I got a new changing pad cover from the Oh Joy for Target collection. I love the colors.

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An outtake of my weekly picture from 30 weeks. Ali wanted to be in it with me.

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Other than the aches and pains I’ve already grumbled about, my pregnancy is really going well. I have much to be thankful for: Every check up Josephine is measuring on track, strong heartbeat, moving around lots. My blood pressure and pulse are always fine. My blood tests and urine tests have been good. My weight gain is good for where I started (technically underweight). I’ve gained almost 30 lbs. so far. I’ve been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. The other night I had so many I was inspired to start getting some things together to pack my hospital bags. I’ll also need to pack bags for the kids to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a few nights so I don’t want to leave too much running around for the last minute, in case things go quickly. My labor with Isaiah was 24 hours so I’m praying for much faster this time. Also, how about 5 days early instead of 5 days late. Is that too much to ask?

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Josephine Louise – 24 Week Update

03/25/2016

I’m long overdue for a blog update on my second pregnancy. Back at my 20-week ultrasound we found out we’re expecting another little lady in July. She’s growing along perfectly, praise the Lord!

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We let big sister Ali be the first to find out the news by opening up a gift bag with new t-shirts for her and Isaiah and a little baby girl dress. She was/is so excited! She kept saying all along that she hoped and thought it was a girl. She happily exclaimed, “I win!” since the girls now outnumber the boys in our family.

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Shortly after finding out the news I started searching through my storage tubs of baby clothes to see what little girl things I kept from Ali. Not a lot. Plus she was a pretty big 2-month-old when she joined our family so I never really had any newborn girl clothes. But I did find these adorable shoes that were given to us by my sister-in-law but Ali’s feet were already too big at the time. I’ve been holding onto them for 4 years hoping someday I’d have another little girl who could wear them.

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I also got a big bag of hand-me-down clothes from my nieces. A few items here were originally Ali’s, then passed to two of my nieces and now they’re back for our youngest daughter to wear. Fun!

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A little recap of my weekly #martinababybump updates on Instagram:

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I’m now 24 weeks.

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We’ve decided on a name! Josephine Louise.

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I sent Jason a list of 6 names I liked, what they meant and why I liked him. This is the only one that he loved from my list. Joseph is my favorite character in the Bible (the old Testament one). It means “Jehovah increases” which is perfectly fitting for her and for this season in our family. It’s not just a physical reality as our family has quickly grown, it’s a promise for the future. Louise is my middle name and it means “renown in battle.” Josephine is a not-too-common, sophisticated, old-fashioned name with tons of cute nickname potential. Jo, JoJo, Josie, Joey, Josie Lou, JoJo Louise. We’ve been calling her Baby JoJo so far. I pulled out this pretty fabric that I bought back when I was expecting Isaiah, before I knew he was a he, and I’m excited to make something for Josephine out of it.

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Nutter Butter – 1st Trimester

01/08/2016

I haven’t blogged much about my second pregnancy (or anything else lately for that matter…) so I thought I’d do a recap of my first trimester as I’m now 13 weeks along. I found out I was pregnant with our little Nutter Butter baby on November 6. It was a Friday afternoon and Jason was out of town. I texted him a picture of a positive pregnancy test and he called me right away. Surprise! Later I went to the store and bought another 2-pack of tests. Just to be sure…

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My first ultrasound was at about 6.5 weeks. We could see the baby’s heart beating but he or she was a little too small to measure accurately so they had us come back 2 weeks later. Also, at this point the ultrasound tech saw “a flicker of something else” that our doctor said could be an identical twin. Or could be just an ultrasound blip. Because it was so small it was hard to tell for sure.

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After a really long 2 weeks while we tried not to think too much about the possibility of identical twins, we saw a healthy 8.5 week old singleton on the ultrasound. Phew! Twins would have been fun but…we are already looking at having two little ones pretty close in age.

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This is how I announced our new addition to social media:

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8 weeks. My belly popped out really quickly, probably because my abdominal muscles were still stretched out from having a baby in April.

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I was super tired early on in my pregnancy, which I think had a lot to do with breastfeeding and sleep regression from Isaiah as my milk supply waned, combined with normal early pregnancy tireness. I’m now completely done nursing Zay and he’s been sleeping much better the past several weeks as we transitioned him to formula. I had some nausea earlier on too, just in the evenings and when I was hungry. Now that all of that has passed, I’m feeling quite good. This pregnancy has seemed easier than the first one and I think there are several factors: I’m more distracted with my other two so I’m not thinking about my body and my baby quite as much, my body has done this before so it’s not all new (my journal from 13w last pregnancy was complaining about my belly skin stretching and feeling so tight…not at all this time!), and in general I just know what to expect so I’m not obsessed with learning new information or tempted to worry about every little symptom this time. Life is moving forward quickly and I’m thankful that all is going well. At my 12w OB check up this week they did a full work-up of tests and everything came back normal, thank God. I also got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. In just a few more weeks (March 1 to be exact) we have the 20w anatomy ultrasound, which is when we’ll find out whether we’re expecting another girl or another boy. I’m so excited for that!


Birth Story: Isaiah Jason

05/18/2015

Saturday April 25 was a restful family day. We had a big breakfast together, followed by a dance party in an attempt to shake the baby out. (Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” are our go-to dance songs.) Ali and I played together, had a picnic lunch outside and then went to the playground while Jason visited with a friend. Then we all went shopping and out for an afternoon treat at Chick Fil A. (Frozen lemonade and waffle fries with ranch for me—hello pregnancy craving!)  When we got back home we visited with some neighbors for a little while.

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That evening we went for a long walk in Shelby Park as we had done several times that week—the week of my due date. I was having some contractions while we walked but I wasn’t timing them because they often happen while I’m walking. When we got in the car I had a pretty long one and we decided we should start making a note of the time and intervals. It was 8:05 pm. We went to pick up a pizza and came home to eat it, all the while timing contractions that were coming predictably and getting closer together. We put Ali to bed but then decided we should have Jason’s parents come get her. They arrived around 10 or 10:30 pm. We finished packing up our things for the hospital and I took a shower and did my make-up.

We left for the hospital around 1:00 am but when the nurse checked me I was still just 1 cm dilated. She gave us the option to get admitted, wait/walk until I was 3 cm or go back home to rest and come back when the contractions got more intense. We went back home to try to sleep since it was getting so late. We got home at 2:30 am. Jason was able to sleep a little bit (maybe 45 min?) before I woke him up and said it was time to go back. We got back around 4:00 am and I was not quite 2 cm. They don’t like to admit before 3 cm generally. So we walked laps around the hall for about an hour, stopping every 5 min or so to get through a contraction. We were admitted around 5:00 am. I got settled into my labor and delivery room and the first thing I did was get in the gigantic tub for a hot bath and put on some relaxing music from my iPod. The water helped so much! Jason brought in the rest of our things from the van and rested on the sofa bed.

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The on-call doctor arrived around 9:00 am and offered to break my water to get things going faster, and we agreed. We had one scary moment about an hour later when Isaiah’s heart rate dropped and the nurses came rushing in as the alarm on the monitor went off. In a matter of seconds, they rolled me onto my side, plugged in my IV and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. It’s amazing how much more a contraction hurt when I was scared! Thankfully, it was no big deal—just by changing my position his heart rate returned to normal. They said the umbilical cord sometimes gets pinched by his/my position and just moving is enough to fix it. By noon I was 6 cm dilated. (10 cm is the goal – that’s when you can push.) But I got stuck at 6 cm. The contractions were getting so intense and painful that I was having trouble not pushing, which is not helpful because it made my cervix swell at the top instead of dilate. Even with the help of nitrous oxide to relax and Jason’s coaching to breathe and relax through the contractions, I was in a lot of pain and getting exhausted. After being stuck at 6 cm for 4 hours I asked for an epidural.

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I like to say I did 2/3 natural childbirth and 1/3 with an epidural. The epidural was amazing! Instant relief and ability to rest. My sister is an OB/gyn and my brother is an anesthesiologist so I asked Jason to send them the above picture. It was wonderful to go back to looking forward to seeing and holding our son, rather than just thinking about making it through the next contraction. I could watch the contractions on the monitor but I didn’t have any pain. I went from 6 cm to 10 cm and ready to push in 2 hours. Then, I ended up pushing for another 2 hours. It’s an interesting thing to push when you can’t feel your whole bottom half. At right about the 2 hour mark, which the doctor warned was about the max he would let me push without looking into other intervention (like foreceps or suction), I used every last bit of strength in my body and pushed that boy out. Jason was instantly in tears, just totally in awe with our son, with what I was capable of doing, with the whole process of childbirth. (It looks like he’s crying in the picture below but he never actually cried the whole time we were at the hospital, just little squeaks when he was upset.)

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The nurses took Isaiah to the corner to check him out. Typically they hand the baby straight to the mother to do immediate skin-to-skin but he had passed a little meconium during pushing and they just wanted to make sure he hadn’t ingested any. Jason watched as they checked him out, weighed him, cleaned him off and wrapped him up. Meanwhile I got stitched up. (I had a little tearing and an episiotomy.)

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When they put him against my chest a couple minutes later, I was overcome with tears of joy, finally getting to see his precious face and hold him in my arms. I cry every time I look at this photo. It was such a sacred moment. Isaiah was born almost exactly 24 hours after my contractions started. We missed an entire night of sleep so we were exhausted and starving. As soon as things were stable Jason ran out to get some carry out dinner from Five Guys because they were minutes from closing and the hospital cafeteria was already closed. The sweet server saw his hospital band and gave him one meal free. He was back before it was time to move up to our postpartum room.

We got settled up in our postpartum recovery room around 1:00 am. I can’t remember all the details of the first night since I was so tired but I know we did get several good chunks of sleep that first night. At one point I think I had asked the nurse a breastfeeding question (we were having a hard time getting him to go to sleep) and she offered to take him to the nursery for a little bit so we could rest. She said he fell right to sleep once he got down there. She brought him back as soon as he woke up. The nurses at St. Thomas Midtown were absolutely amazing! So kind and helpful, with humble, servant hearts. They took really good care of the three of us. I am so glad we decided to deliver there and would definitely recommend it.

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40 Week Froggie Update

04/23/2015

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40 weeks. I was hoping I wouldn’t make it to this last photo in the series before Isaiah made his appearance but alas, here we are. On my due date I was a little bummed, despite words of encouragement and funny quips from many friends. (My favorite is the friend who said, “The over ripe ones are the sweetest!”) We ended my due date with amazing Indian food for dinner, hoping I could heat him out. Didn’t work but it sure was delicious. I woke up today and did my usual morning ritual. I read my Bible and Jesus Calling while I ate breakfast. Then I prayed blessings over Zay and his delivery while I drank my tea.

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On my drive to work I had a realization that it was absurd for me to be disappointed that he wasn’t born when I expected. What about this entire process—from his conception to today—has been within the grasp of my control? I had some more thoughts about this as I was taking a walk on my lunch break and I shared them on my Instagram (@mrsallbright) with the photo below:

I’m taking a walk today because it’s gorgeous outside and I get tired of sitting on my butt in a cubicle all day, not because I’m trying to induce labor. Yesterday I was feeling a bit disappointed that my due date came and went and I didn’t get what I expected. Today I asked God to forgive me for wanting to control something that’s so far beyond my human ability. I should have learned this lesson already. Nothing about becoming a parent went as I originally planned or expected and it has turned out so much better this way. God waited until a point when I was completely content in my motherhood to our precious Alianna and as a foster mama to five other beautiful babies, and was truly content to not ever experience pregnancy to surprise us with this sweet little blessing growing in my belly. Jason and I always knew it was possible and we purposefully decided we’d stop preventing it OR pursuing it and just leave it up to the Creator. Surprises are way more fun! There is so much peace when we can fully let go in trust and go on with life.

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I had my 40 week check-up yesterday. Everything looked great, as usual, except that my belly was measuring smaller than the previous week’s appointment. My doctor requested that I get an ultrasound just to make sure fluid levels were still good. So Jason, Ali and I got to go to an unexpected ultrasound. It was hard to get a good look at him because he’s so tight in there and he moves a lot. We did get a quick glimpse of half of his face. Everything is measuring just fine with Zay, my amniotic fluid, etc. Thank you, God! He’s average size and in position to come out without any problems. We are ready and we are content. As another friend joked, “They always seem to come on their birthdays.” He’ll be here soon!

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39 Weeks

04/15/2015

I’m quite sure it’s God’s design that by the end of 9 months we are mentally and physically done with pregnancy. It’s been fun but I’m ready for the next chapter. Jason is too. And Isaiah is too, whether he realizes it or not. He’s been so squirmy lately and I sense that he’s feeling cramped. We’re outgrowing this present state and we’re all getting a little fidgety wondering when it’s going to end. Zay has dropped lower into my pelvic bones, which is where most of my discomfort is coming from…and perhaps his, too. Rather than complain about it, I’m trying hard to keep my perspective in check. So this is my pep talk to myself:

I’m blessed. I am blessed to be pregnant. I am blessed to be adding another child to our family—a FOREVER child. A son. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loving, handsome husband. I am blessed to have a beautiful, spunky, sweet daughter. I am thankful she will grow up with a sibling and they will always have each other. I am blessed to have a good, steady, flexible job. I am blessed to have a husband who is living his dream with his career. I am blessed to be in good health and to have a perfect, textbook pregnancy and a healthy baby in my belly. I am blessed to have a good doctor and a good hospital that’s accommodating to moms who want a natural birth experience. I am blessed to have a God who is strong when I am weak.

Jason’s done a bit of traveling in the past week and thankfully we made it through all of that without incident, including when he was 12oo miles away in Pharr, Texas. (Ironic name, huh?) He got home from his latest trip early this morning and he won’t be doing any more traveling until after Isaiah is born. God’s timing is perfect, isn’t it! So far Jason hasn’t had to miss any work and it’s quite possible he won’t have to miss any at all.

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My fingers have swelled from time to time but the other day I realized I almost could not get my rings off, even with cold water and soap. I’m now going without any rings for the first time in 13 years and my hands feel so naked!

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Enjoying a little bed rest while Jason was in Texas and a friend generously offered to keep Ali for an evening.

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The unflattering reality… Ali saw me in these pajamas and said, “Mommy! I don’t want to see your belly sticking out!”

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Can you tell he’s dropped? My doctor confirmed again this week that his head is down and he’s sitting really low. If I make it to next week still pregnant I’ll have one more official belly comparison photo.

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