Monday, December 30, 2013

Old Friends

A few days after Christmas, we got to meet up with our dear friends the Rusts and the Strubles.  The Rusts live in Seattle, and the Strubles are in Maryland, so it had been two years since the six of us got together.  Er, the 13 of us.
Four Blakeys, six Rusts, and three Strubles.

L to R: Adam, Kay, Noah and Marae Rust, Elaina and Chloë Blakey, and Audrey Struble.

A lot has changed in few years.  Alex, Luke and Bryan were roommates in 2004.  I met Katie, and then we met The Guys, and then Lynnessa joined The Gang, as we referred to ourselves.
By 2006, we were all married and in each other's weddings.  And now we're living happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merrry Christmas


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Tree

We managed to avoid the coldest night of the year when we went looking for our Christmas tree.  That was a nice change from years past.  We didn't get this one, but the girls thought it was awfully cute.

After we brought the tree home, the girls helped Bryan get the it ready for the tree stand.

Since I've been morning sick, it was slow going getting the tree decorated, but we did it.  It only took five days.

We've been trying to read a few Bible verses every night for Advent. 

Christmas is almost here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bacon Chocolate

A few weeks ago, I was browsing Pinterest, and saw a nice little article with some fun suggestions for stocking stuffers for the man in your life.  Some good ideas.  Some things I've gone before.  Then a link to buy Bacon Chocolate bars.

For 12 bucks a piece.

Noooo thanks.  For half that price, I figured I could make a whole tray of bacon bars.  So I did.

I baked up some bacon, and then cut it into tiny pieces.

Then I spread a layer of chocolate chips on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

I popped the tray in the warm oven for a few minutes until the chocolate chips were melty, and then I spread it all together, and sprinkled my bacon on top of it.

When it was aaaaalmost cool, I scored it into bars, and then let it finish cooling.

Then I cut up a bunch of aluminum foil, and wrapped up a whole pile of my very own bacon chocolate bars.

All ready for stockings on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Weeks

Saturday night was a really hard night.  Bryan and I had just returned from a wonderful and joyous wedding, when my body decided to start freaking out a little.  Things were happening that suggested my pregnancy might be in trouble.  Like, maybe the pregnancy was over.  This was something my body had never done before, and I was shocked.  And really scared.  I laid in bed and let the tears soak my pillow.  I could feel the adrenaline of fear coursing through my veins. Bryan came to bed after putting the girls to sleep, and we talked a little.  His face was so worried.  After talking about what was going on and how I was doing, I asked him how he was doing.  His lips tightened a little, and he said "I'm a little scared, too."  We held each other and cried.  We prayed that God would spare our child's life, and keep him or her safe in my womb for many more months.

All Saturday night I kept tossing and turning, having sad dreams, and excepting to have to go to the ER.  I even called my brother who lives next door to make sure he could come be with the girls if we had to leave in the middle of the night.  

I didn't get out of bed on Sunday except to use the bathroom.  The warning signs of a miscarriage had ceased, but I was afraid to move.  Bryan and I talked and prayed and cried some more.  It's funny just how much you can love someone you've never even met.  What if our baby was gone?  We didn't know. 

I did know that the way things were going was a good sign, considering.  But I was still so nervous. And scared.  And yet I was comforted thinking about God's goodness, and his plan for our lives, and for the life of our baby.  I'm the type of woman that likes to make a plan and take action and get things done, and I knew there wasn't a thing in the world that I could or couldn't do that would change whatever was happening in my womb.  I knew everything could be completely fine.  Women's bodies do strange things for no good reason, and I know that.  But I also knew that everything could be terribly wrong. 

This morning I called Dr. Minudri's office minutes after they opened.  Two very long hours later, I got a call from Dr. Campbell's nurse, and we talked.  She called back after she'd discussed things with Dr. Campbell, and he wanted me to have an ultrasound, some blood work, and a Rhogam shot.

Bryan took the girls to Betsy's, and met me at the hospital.  Time moves slowly in waiting rooms.  We finally went back to the room with the ultrasound machine, and I could feel my heart pounding.  The ultrasound monitor's screen was angled so that I couldn't see much.  Bryan watched the screen, and I strained my neck to see as much as I could.  "There's your baby," the technician said, and angled the screen my direction for about a second.  "And he's moving?" I asked.  "Oh, yeah, definitely moving."  Bryan squeezed my hand and gave me a little smile.  "Oh and there's the heart beating."  I took a really deep breath, since apparently I hadn't been breathing much.  She checked everything that there is to check, and said everything looked good.  My body was fine.  The baby was fine.  Everything was just as it should be.

We didn't get any prints to bring home, but I got to see my baby kicking around with even more enthusiasm than last time.  The tech let me look at the monitor long enough to see my beautiful baby's arms and legs and feet. I felt strangely calm.  Even after all that worrying.

I got some blood work done, and went back later this evening to get a Rhogam shot (those things hurt like heck, by the way).  I sat in the Labor and Delivery room, waiting for the nurse to come in with the huge needle to plunge into my flesh, and I looked around.  It was quiet.  I'd been in that room many times and seen many babies take their first breath.  It was weird imagining myself there in another six months.  I looked at the tiny baby blanket and hat, all ready to go for the next baby to be born in that room.  I smiled.  I get to meet my baby in just a few more months.  Only a few more months.

Oh my way out, I thanked the nurses, and asked them what they liked for treats.  "When I'm back here in six months to have my baby, what should I bring for you ladies?"  They laughed.  "Chocolate!" they said in agreement.  "Anything chocolate."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

EMSI Dinner

My morning sickness eased up just enough for me to go to the annual EMSI Christmas Dinner last night.  I was so glad that I was able to to go, even if my appetite was a little lacking.
It was nice to get dressed up and go out with my handsome man.

Panorama of our table:

Panorama of the room:

We had a great time.  I even won one of the door prizes!  You can't go wrong with an gift card!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Good Ultrasound

I sat on the little exam table, holding Bryan's hand, discussing different aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery with Dr. Minudri.  He was great.  I'd seen him deliver a few babies in nursing school and at friend's births, and was always impressed with his approach and attitude. Since our wonderful midwife moved across the country last summer, we were forced to make some new decisions.  I absolutely loved our home births.  But I've never been under the impression that hospitals are crazy or evil.  In fact, I think our local hospital and some of our local doctors are particularly wonderful.

So when we found out we were pregnant, Bryan and I began discussing our options.  Choose a new midwife, or choose a doctor and try a hospital birth?  We analyzed the pros and cons.  I made an appointment with Dr. Minudri, and we decided we'd see how we felt after our appointment.

I've been pretty sick with morning sickness during the last month.  There have been days where I have either been in bed or on the couch for 23 hours a day.  I had to force myself to eat a few crackers and a bowl of cheerios.  Any smell (or sometimes even the thought of food) was enough to make me throw up.  I started taking Unisom and B6 every night, and that eased the nausea a little. But I was still pretty sick.

Then last week I started feeling a tiny bit better.  The day before Thanksgiving, I was actually on my feet and in my kitchen for the first time in weeks.  I made green bean casserole and berry pies.  Granted, the bacon grease for the green beans made me throw up, but I could tell I was having a good day.  "I'll feel horrible tomorrow," I thought.  But I didn't.  And the next day I even felt a tiny bit better than that.  I ate a whole plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. I've been feeling a tiny bit better every day.  I've been eating a little bit of normal food.  And keeping it down.

So I started to worry.  Something must be wrong with the baby.  I don't start feeling better until the second trimester.  So something has to be wrong.  I shouldn't be feeling better and eating real food yet.  Something's wrong.  The baby probably died, and my hCG levels are dropping, which is why I'm feeling better, and I'm going to have a miscarriage any day.  After all, almost a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  I've had two healthy pregnancies, so I'm due for a miscarriage.  I have so many friends with heartbreaking stories of miscarriages, it has to be my turn.  Plus, I've just been thinking about miscarriage a lot lately, so God is probably trying to prepare my heart for such a hard thing. 

So this morning I sat on the exam table, really comfortable with Dr. Minudri's answers to my questions.  But I couldn't shake the feeling that our conversation might be pointless.  Maybe my pregnancy is already over and we just don't know it yet. 

I finally laid back, and he squirted the cold ultrasound jelly on my belly.  I held Bryan's hand, and we watched the ultrasound monitor screen.  And suddenly, there was a tiny little baby on the screen.  "Oh hi, Baby," I whispered, as my eyes welled up.  I squeezed Bryan's hand.  The baby kicked and squirmed around a little. 

Our baby.  Our baby was alive.  And kicking and squirming.

The little heart was flickering away.  Dr. Minudri pushed a couple of buttons on the ultrasound machine, and suddenly we heard a beautiful little heartbeat.

Our baby.  Our baby's heart was beating.  158, I think he said.  Silent little tears kept sliding down my face.

Beautiful.  Perfect, as far as we could tell.  Our baby was alive, kicking, and beautiful. 

We finished up our appointment, and I kissed Bryan goodbye so he could head to work.  I got in my car, and sat there for a minute.  My baby wasn't dead.  I realized that was really what I had been expecting.  But I had been so wrong.  Never have I ever been so glad that I was wrong.  Tears started falling again.  I started sobbing.  God, why is my baby so alive, when so many are not?  Thank you, thank you thank you. 

Last week I had been thinking about how we should bless the name of the Lord, in good times and in hard times.  I was thinking I was going to learn what it really means to bless the name of the Lord while walking through the wilderness.  But God didn't give me that lesson today. 

Today my heart is overflowing with joy, amazement, and gratitude.  Blessed be Your name, in the land that is plentiful, where your streams of abundance flow.  Blessed be Your name.  I cried some more, and then pulled myself together.  Silly pregnancy hormones.

Yay for pregnancy hormones.