Pregnancy

Rowan's Birth Story

So in love with this perfect little baby boy.

So in love with this perfect little baby boy.

Hi, friends! In honor of Rowan's 1 month birthday, I wanted to share his birth story with you all. If you had been following along during my pregnancy, you might remember that I had some pretty specific ideas about how the day he was born would go. The first thing I'll say is that it was nothing like I imagined. His birth was perfect. I didn't have the "perfect" natural birth I had been planning for, but it exceeded my expectations in every way. Fair warning: this is not the sugar coated version so proceed with that in mind! 

On Friday, June 14th I woke up around 8:30 with no contractions. Nothing happening. I had my membrane stripped on Wednesday and was really hoping that would set off my labor but it didn't look like this was going to be the day. I had an induction scheduled for the next Monday as I was already a week overdue at this point. I went back to bed, frustrated and discouraged. About an hour later I woke up with three very intense contractions. Thinking that they would probably fade, I went to get a glass of water and swirl on my labor ball. 

During the next contraction, the pain was so intense that I believed I had become incontinent. I was thinking, "am I in labor? did I just pee? what is happening?!". Looking back, it's so obvious I was in labor. Silly me. I had Isaiah time the contractions just to make sure they were coming closer together. I had 3 or 4 within 10 minutes. It was time! 

We packed up the car, all while I paced around the house trying to make it to the car between contractions. We drove the 20 minutes to Munson Medical Center on bumpy roads. It was a sunny and gorgeous summer day. It was Isaiah's grandpa's birthday. I thought about what was happening... it was time to meet our son! Even through the intense pain I was so excited. The car ride was excruciating. We got up to the Women's Clinic for me to be checked. I was already dilated to 5 cm and my water came gushing as she checked me. (I warned you about the real details). They wheeled me to the maternity area and got me immediately into a room. I was super happy my favorite nurse was there to help. 

Even before this point I had decided that I didn't want to deal with the pain of contractions. I opted to get the epidural, which was a huge change of heart. Isaiah was a great supporter, saying, "I'm just reminding you that you really didn't want the epidural. Of course it's up to you!". There was no hesitation, I asked the nurse almost immediately once we were in the room. My contractions were coming closer together, starting low in my abdomen and radiating to the top of my uterus. The nurses had to make sure I was hydrated and monitor baby's heart rate for 20 minutes before they could order the epidural. It felt like an eternity with blood pressure cuffs, needles, two monitors, no underwear, an ugly hospital gown.. I remember thinking "Okay, just get the medicine and you'll be able to catch your breath and adjust everything." With every contraction I leaned forward and let my belly hang low between my legs. I could feel my cervix opening up. It was time to meet our baby.

Around noon the anesthesiologist came to the room. Nobody let us see an needles (not that we asked). It took her about a half an hour to do what she had to do. It was painful dealing with the needle on top of the contractions but I felt very calm inside. I knew that the pain would dissipate soon and our son would be born. I remember thinking, this is the way he should come. I don't want to be in pain. I could do it, I just don't want to have to. I want to be calm and peaceful today. As soon as the epidural set in I couldn't even feel my contractions, what a relief. I even fell asleep for about 20 minutes.  

It was around 1 in the afternoon when the midwife checked me. I was making steady progress. It took another 2 and a half hours for my to finish dilating. That time went by so quickly. Isaiah and I talked about how crazy it all was. I was glad that he was there to support me in that way. It was just right. When I was fully dilated I still didn't feel the "urge to push". The doctor also told me that he was lying posterior and we needed to flip him. I went on my hands and knees but that didn't work. They dialed back my epidural by half so I could feel more sensation.  

Eventually I was able to feel pressure in my bottom, and a true urge to push. Ladies, it really does feel like you have to poop. So I just went with it and figured that the poop has to come out before the baby so I better just get on with it. It's not as bad as you think. I was pushing on my left side. The nurse coached me through pushing but only when I felt the urge. Apparently I was a really good pusher. :) 

His heart rate started dropping significantly while I was pushing so we decided it would be best for me to push with every other contraction. They gave me an oxygen mask to wear during recovery and they needed to monitor him internally. This didn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. Because my pain medication was dialed back to much, I could definitely feel what was going on. It wasn't too painful, more like an intense workout. I gripped my right knee and used my left to hold the mask. It was intense. I felt powerful. Isaiah was right there cheering me on. My number one guy. 

When the doctor came back to check on me, she declared that she would be staying. She couldn't believe how much progress I had made! It had been about 2 hours. I remember her asking me if I wanted to keep my socks. Ha! I said, "I don't know, okay, sure" . That's when I knew for sure that he was close. I pushed and pushed, through the ring of fire until his body was born. (A truly unique sensation). In what seemed like a millisecond he was on my chest. He let out the sweetest little cry and Isaiah and I were overcome with emotion. There is nothing like meeting your baby for the first time. He looked into my eyes and I lost it. He was perfect. I held his hands and rubbed his back and marveled at just how amazing he was. His hair, his fingers and toes. Our baby was here. Little Rowan, you are perfection. 

Just after he was born. I can't believe how much he's changed!

Just after he was born. I can't believe how much he's changed!

So that is the somewhat abbreviated version of Rowan's birth. If you have questions about what happens next, or anything about my experience I would be happy to share!  

Love,

Rowan's Mama

Dear Baby,

It's June 10th. You were "supposed" to be born on Friday, and now it's Monday. Your dad and I are getting a little bit impatient, it's only because we can't wait to meet you and count all your fingers and toes. We can't wait to hold you for the first time and look into your eyes and watch you take in the big world for the very first time. I can't wait for your sweet baby smell and to feel you wrap your hand around my fingers, or to see Isaiah hold you for the first time. It makes me cry happy tears just thinking about that moment. You're lucky to have such a good daddy. He is kind, generous, smart, and interesting. You two will get along great, I can already tell. 

Yesterday we were talking about what qualities we hope you'll develop as you grow. I said that I hope you are generous in a way that allows you to foresee needs of others, and that you feel called to action. I also hope you're curious in a way that makes you naturally smarter and more inclined to try new things. On a more practical note, I hope that you are self-motivated so you can make the right things happen and be a leader.  

Daddy says he hopes you are kind in the specific way that you will be helpful to people when they need it. He also hopes that you are independent- and that you do the things you're interested in (not just what other people tell you to be interested in), and that you're sensitive. Sensitive in the way that lets you see beyond the surface of things, and gives you perspective of the things that matter. 

I'm praying today that as we start this journey into parenthood that we can model those qualities for you. We love you so much already, an indescribable amount. I know that when you are born that love will only multiply. 

Can't wait to meet you, little one. 

Love, 

Your mama

 

Two More Days & a Big Handful of Change.

Two more days. Well two and a half. Two and a half more days until Friday afternoon, May 31st, the day that marks a serious change in my day to day life. This baby boy is coming, my career is shifting gears dramatically, 3 months of uninterrupted family snuggle time, summer weather, family vacation... I simply cannot wait. My last day of work is on Friday, in two and a half days. I've been counting down the minutes for months and I can't believe it's finally here.

It's been a struggle maintaining composure these past few weeks. First of all I'm extremely pregnant and that comes with it's own set of physical limitations and annoyances. But psychologically it's been hard to stay on the bus and get through these last couple weeks of work. My concentration is dwindling, I'm at my wits end emotionally and to be honest I just want to be alone or with my husband almost 100% of the time. I've been in and out of early labor, with contractions speeding up and slowing down in direct relation to my stress level. Too many ups and downs. But the end is in sight and soon I will get to hold my baby boy. 

How fun are these colors for spring? I feel an inspiration board coming on. :)

How fun are these colors for spring? I feel an inspiration board coming on. :)

This weekend was really nice. Isaiah and I had some friends up from Ann Arbor and his brother visited too, a funky mix but we all had so much fun. I'm helping design and plan the wedding for a couple of my favorite people (Nicole & Tyler). Their wedding is going to be so amazing you guys. Nicole and I met in college when she moved in across the hall from me and the rest is history. We bonded over boys and our connection to the Midwest. That summer after I met my now-husband, I visited her in Michigan and she was the first person to meet Isaiah (she drove me to his parents house). We both graduated from Seattle Pacific University a year a part, and are both now living in Michigan. She is marrying the most wonderful guy, Tyler. Seriously, this couple is the cutest. They got engaged last month and are getting married in July. Yea you read that right, less than 3 months to plan and design a wedding for some of my favorite people and also I need to birth a child within that time frame... But I will say that it's entirely worth it and such a blessing to be a part of their journey to marriage. 

Okay, that was clearly a tangent but very applicable to where I was headed next! For three days this weekend when we had visitors I hardly thought about being pregnant. I know! At 39 weeks, I honestly went hours not even thinking about the baby or his movements. Once I realized that he was going without any attention I felt awful, like I was ignoring him or something. But later on I felt happy and refreshed. For a couple days I didn't have people constantly commenting on my physical state, asking me how I am feeling, saying "Oh my GOSH are you ready to pop or what!?". It was a good break and probably what I needed to make it through this week. 

So yea, I am ready. Ready for this stage of life to be over so I can fully embrace what's coming. I'm ready to design better weddings for my clients. To infuse more of my heart into the things I do every day. I'm ready to meet my baby boy, to see Isaiah become a father, to hug my parents, to have time alone with my new little family. I'm ready to stop working at a bank. I'm ready to start designing more amazing floral arrangements and I'm ready to make the right things happen. Two days. Two days. Two and a half days. On Saturday I'm going to enjoy my celebratory spa day and then it's time to induce labor like crazy! Bring on the spicy food and bumpy railroad tracks. Little baby Moger, I am so ready to be your mama it's insane.

I have quite the line-up of posts scheduled for June. I'll be sharing our love story in honor of our first wedding anniversary on June 30th, plus some good baby stuff coming your way. 

Love,

Rachel

Pregnancy, The Third Trimester Part 3

Hi Friends! At just about 39 weeks, I'm hoping this will be my very last pregnancy post. The last time you heard from me I was 34 weeks along and feeling pretty wiped out and intimidated with the upcoming weeks. As of today, I am in "pre-labor". On Tuesday night I was feeling very off- something just wasn't right. I ended up in triage where they had me on the monitors for 4 hours. I had started to dilate and my contractions were mild but coming consistently every 4-6 minutes. Baby looks great, a strong heartbeat and moving like champ. The doctor sent me home, saying that my labor could pick up at anytime or it could go on like this for weeks. What? I'm experiencing constant, dull pain in my lower back and cramping in my lower abdomen. I can hardly feel the contractions at this point. 

I'm still working at my day job, taking it literally hour by hour. I won't get into all the details, but I'm really struggling with when my last day of work should be. My original plan was to work through May 31st, for lots of reasons. But now I'm feeling that I might be better off at home. There's a pretty big financial incentive to keep working through next week but I might have a baby before then anyway! So as of right now I'm taking it easy and trying to keep myself busy.

This weekend we're having some visitors come to the house for the long weekend which I am SO looking forward to. My brother in law is coming up for a couple days and so are my friends Nicole and Tyler who I haven't seen in far too long. As long as I don't give birth this weekend we're planning to grill, go to the beach, nap, who knows what. I'm also helping Nicole plan her wedding so we'll have our fair share of fun planning time. :) 

As far as the baby list goes, we are set. There are still a couple things I could do but in reality they aren't important and could easily not get done before baby gets here. This includes filling out Munson's "5 wishes" form, filing paperwork for Sincerely, Ginger, sending out a couple thank you notes, hanging his mobile, organizing my closet and making frozen burritos and more date chunks. Nothing too pressing. :) The bags are packed, car seat is installed and baby clothes are clean and organized. We've got diapers, wipes, blankets and toys. 

Wish me luck!

Postpartum Meal Planning

A huge part of my pregnancy has focused on guilt surrounding food & exercise. It's a little tough to admit, but I haven't been the best eater throughout my pregnancy. It's been a struggle to get enough calories throughout the day, and somehow I'm still gaining plenty of weight. It's been hard not to feel guilty about this but I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just doing what I need to do in order to have a healthy baby at the end of this pregnancy. Sometimes that means green smoothies and 2 mile walks, but most of the time it hasn't. I've had extreme fatigue that makes cooking hard and exercise near impossible. Before I was pregnant these were habits I was fairly proud of! So now that I'm preparing for life with a baby, I am ready for the challenge of getting my body back and upping my fitness level. 

What we decided will work best for us is to create a six week postpartum meal plan and to exercise when and how it feels right. It's important for me to have a balance and not feel like every meal and workout is a planned experience, it would be like setting myself up for failure. A little structure allowed for serious planning and now I feel so prepared in regards to food after baby! While nursing, it's important to eat enough calories and obviously to be getting nutrients from lots of natural sources. 

You can downloads the meal plan here. Keep in mind that I created this for personal use, so it's not the absolute prettiest. Feel free to share and edit as you see fit!

The meal plan I created is virtually the same week to week, with minor adjustments. I divided the plan into three sections: Meals, Snacks and a grocery list. I wanted it to be very simple for my husband. We plan to post it on the fridge so if it's Wednesday and I'm ready for lunch, he can go to the chart and know exactly what to put together for me. We are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) here in Traverse City, where we get the bulk of our produce during the peak season. We can usually expect onions, greens, berries, carrots, radishes, kale, tomatoes, and lots other fun extras like ramps and pumpkins! It's really fun and a great way to get our organic produce. If you're curious about what a CSA is or how they work, check out this link. 

I designed the meals so that some aspect of each was easy-peasy. If you look at the plan, the italisized words are frozen, underlined are in the pantry, and the standard text is what we will eat fresh. My mother in law and I spent a week cooking meals and partial meals to round out the plan, including taco meat, beef burgers and lots of frozen dinner like enchiladas, pasta with chicken, eggplant parmesan, and more. We baked "lactation cookies", muffins, and whole wheat pizza dough. We also went to Sam's Club and bought KIND bars, smoothie supplies, nuts & seeds, dried fruit and other snacky stuff I might want to have around the house. The idea is that everything nonperishable will already be purchased and prepared. We will use the CSA box we receive each week and the small grocery list to round out the meals with fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy. 

Understandably, we won't eat every meal right on track the way the plan is laid out. But this way we know that there will always be something easy to prepare, right on hand. Feel free to download the meal plan and use it! We're thinking that we might just use a plan similar to this even after 6 weeks, since we tend to throw away way more food that is necessary. Enjoy! 

A Beautiful Baby Shower

flowers by

Sincerely, Ginger Weddings & Events

On Sunday I was given a beautiful baby shower for Little Mo by my dear friend Renee. I had the pleasure of planning her and Seth's wedding in September, how time flies! I am so thankful for the friendships that develop with my clients. She is so wonderful and it was such a perfect day to celebrate this sweet baby. Because Renee knows me so well, she let me do much of the designing and all of the floral design. Unfortunately I didn't get many photos of the whole day, but I did snap this photo of one of the centerpieces I made for the table. I love the combination of pink tulips, alstro, eucalyptus and wild greens. Sorry baby boy, mama loves pink!

Pregnancy, The Third Trimester: Part 2

It's been almost a month since I gave a proper update on how things are progressing with Baby Mo, and it's been hard for me to feel inspired in blogging lately. I think I may have hit my first "blogger's block". On Friday I sat down to write, and after I read it I had a honest moment of "oh my gosh, that is SO depressing! Do I really want to put that on the Internet?" I decided not to. But the long and the short of it is that pregnancy is HARD. Comparing yourself and measuring yourself against others is HARD. Feeling stuck and uninspired is HARD. I'm trying to remind myself that I'm doing my own thing, and my own thing is fun/great/perfect. I'm trusting that the passing of time will  make things more clear.

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So anyway, instead of writing about all of these feelings I'm going to write about the baby, because it's easier. I am 34 weeks along, which means that there are only six weeks until my due date! How is that possible?! Since my last update I've had 2 doctors appointments. The first was an ultrasound appointment. My doctor wanted to check the size of the baby. He was being really shy with his hands rubbing his eyes, but we got great news! At that point he was almost 17 inches and weighed over 4 pounds. A good size, but not so big that they needed to change my due date. Thank goodness! She showed me the sweet little hair on top of his head, and snapped a few photos of his abnormally long feet. I had to laugh, 6 and a half centimeters! Those are going to be some big baby feet. No wonder some of these kicks have been so startling! They also measured the health of the placenta and how much oxygen he was receiving. We are both healthy and I am so grateful for that.

Warning: Possible TMI in this paragraph.

On Thursday I started feeling really icky. The baby's movements had slowed down a lot and there weren't very many strong kicks and punches. I know he's getting crammed in there so I tried not to worry. But after lunch I started feeling feverish and had sudden extreme pain in my back and abdomen. I was lightheaded and feeling very off. I could tell that I wasn't going into labor because the pain was constant and didn't come in waves like a contraction. But nevertheless I decided to go to the doctor just in case. I was able to drive myself to the clinic but was in a lot of pain. Luckily they were able to get me into see a midwife right away and I didn't have to wait in the lobby. I was put on the non stress test for 20 minutes. The NST is just a simple Doppler that monitors the baby's heart rate continuously. He showed a good amount of oxygen and a steady heart rate even though I hadn't been feeling strong kicks. It was a huge relief. They also did standard check-ups and a cervical check so ensure I wasn't in early labor. Another huge relief, no labor for this girl. It turns out that my urinalysis came back that I had a UTI. Super bummer, but it explains my fever and back pain. They put me on antibiotics that I need up keep up for 7 days. Luckily I caught the infection, my midwife said that if I hadn't come in the UTI could've caused pre-term labor!

The baby list is slowly but surely coming along. The nursery is almost completely finished and we've checked a lot off of our big baby list.

I've been reading a lot! I finished reading Happiest Baby on the Block, which I really enjoyed. You can understand the basic principles fairly easily, but I enjoyed going more in depth on the techniques he suggests. I'm also about halfway through Natural Hospital Birth, at the recommendation of my childbirth educator. Love this one so far. It has practical advice for advocating for yourself during labor in a hospital setting and teaches techniques for avoiding unnecessary intervention. Isaiah is reading The Birth Partner. He just started but it seems like he really likes the information.

I'm through 4 of the 6 classes in our natural childbirth education series. I've said it before, but this has been the most useful thing I've done for myself during pregnancy. The instructor is so knowledgeable, down to earth, and the small conversational style class really jives with me. I'm thinking I'll post a re-cap of the most beneficial things I've learned, but if you're in the Traverse City area I definitely encourage you to take Jonelle's class!

The nursery is really coming along, it's practically done! We got the rocker and ottoman shipped last week and Isaiah surprised me and had it all set up when I got home. It's perfect! The changing table has a pad, the diaper genie is in place, the car seat is installed, the co-sleeper attached. I still need to hang some artwork and decorate the shelves but it's very close to being done.

I also figured out what I'll be wearing during labor (this in white) and ordered my robe! I have my diaper bag too, which I'm obviously very excited to pack. :) I'm looking forward to our next appointments and classes. The last 6 weeks will be jam packed with preparations. Tonight I have pre-natal yoga, childbirth education class Tuesday, Wednesday we have a routine check-up, Saturday is our day long Childbirth Education class at the hospital. At 36 weeks we have our hospital tour and another appointment, and from there we'll have weekly checkups and a breastfeeding education class in May! Pretty crazy but I like being busy while I'm waiting.

Things to do:

Safety: Check smoke alarms & install CO2 monitor, replace fire extinguisher & plug outlets, etc.

Hem drapes

Wash clothes & sheets

Order diapers & wipes

Pack hospital bag

Pick up supplies for postpartum care

Clean out the car & install baby mirror, shade & car kit

Fill out Munson's "5 Wishes" Form

Test the car seat in the middle seat

Interview daycare options

Put together newborn first aid kit

Create "he's here" template e-mail with contacts

Write the birth plan copy to give to hospital staff

Organize post-partum meal plan

Learn infant CPR

Choose a "going home" outfit for baby

Pick up un-purchased registry items

Okay, longest baby post ever! But it's helpful for me to write it all out. I'm still hoping to get everything ready by 36 weeks, which gives me two weeks to knock out that list. We can do it!

Choosing Peace.

Stepping into your fears and choosing action is hard. It's scary. At least for me. But it's even harder to let go of action, when it's necessary, and trust that life will work itself out. When I don't think logically about why I'm acting a certain way or doing something "productive", I end up feeling out of control and throw myself into mindless tasks to distract myself from the real fears. I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit, but stick with me.

Transition has never been easy for me, but I always do it, I always choose action. I made the move to Seattle from Minnesota when I was 18. I took a chance and moved again to the East Coast, where I happened to meet my husband. We decided to move to the same city after falling in love, we got married and moved again to "settle down" in Traverse City, Michigan. We aren't afraid to take chances, make changes and sacrifice comfort in order to live our best life. I do my best to look at long term goals, which is why I'm so passionate about budgeting, having patience with my business and sticking it out through the "junk". When life throws a curveball, I don't handle it too well. When the offer for my dream job was taken back unexpectedly, I was devastated and cried in bed for 3 days (that's a story for another day).

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This fall, we were thrown another curveball when we found out we were expecting a baby. It's time for another transition, a big step into parenthood. I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared. When we found out we were pregnant (like most people I assume) we were shocked, excited, nervous, and a million other things. I didn't even cry (which is unusual). Immediately (as in 20 minutes after I took a pregnancy test) we adjusted- changed our mindset and focus and started loving this baby like crazy. I remember asking Isaiah to just "take a deep breath and stop thinking about the details". Meanwhile, I was mentally re-working our budget, figuring out which room would be the nursery, wondering when I could ever quit my job, worried about never being able to plan weddings full time, questioning if we were too young or too newly married to have a baby, if I was strong enough to be a mom... worry, fear and doubt. I was saying one thing and acting a completely different way.

The next morning I went out and bought a bunch of books and started reading about pregnancy. I made an appointment with the doctor. I drank a green smoothie, I went to the gym and I bought pre-natal vitamins. I budgeted and figured out what it cost to have a baby, I called my insurance company, I bought 5 more pregnancy tests. Essentially- I entered complete spaz out mode. I was 5 weeks pregnant. My body still felt like mine. I was scared to death. Scared of what would happen to our new marriage, scared of loosing the baby, worried about money. I can't even tell you how fast my mind was spinning & swirling. This was a territory that was completely foreign. What I didn't do was stop and breathe, and pray for our son. I didn't pray for our marriage, or for peace. I worried.

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One thing I can say for sure is that I am so thankful that a baby takes 9 months to grow. I've needed these months to adjust and prepare my heart, house & mind for raising a child. As you know if you've been following my blog for a while, I've been focusing on preparing for a baby. I've been reading the books, buying the stuff, trying to keep my body healthy, going to the doctor, budgeting, being as responsible and over-prepared as I can be so that when he makes his debut I can focus on loving him with all of my energy. Meanwhile I've been so scared of what motherhood will be like. Will I be a good mom? Can I handle a marriage and a baby? What about work? Is there going to be enough money? Will my business take off? Am I ever going to have any friends? What if he gets sick, or I have postpartum depression, or I can't breastfeed, or this, or that, or whatever? I've been hanging onto my fears while doing all of the "actions" that should be calming and comforting, but they aren't. Something isn't working, something has to change.

Today I'm making the choice to let go, and choose peace. I'm deciding to trust that everything will work out perfectly, because it already has. There isn't enough room in this blog for me to list all of the blessings and love we've been the recipients of lately, specifically in the time we've been married. We are so lucky, with so much ahead of us, and I am choosing to be peaceful. I'm still going to struggle with worrying, but I'm hoping and praying that peace will be an overwhelming presence in my life so I can love my family better. I had a pretty major freak out the other day and wildly explained  to Isaiah that if I didn't "worry about and plan for all the scary things, then they would happen". Always the voice of reason, he explained that I could plan and prepare all I wanted, but worrying wasn't necessary. We will be good parents, we love our son. He is healthy, nothing will go wrong. I'm so thankful for a supportive husband and family. Happy weekend, friends! If you read this, thank you. It was good to let it out.

Pregnancy: The Third Trimester Part 1

Good morning, world! This morning after I sat down with my coffee, it just felt right to blog. It's been a little while since I updated you all on how things are going with the pregnancy, so how about an update? As of this morning, I am 30 weeks pregnant, within the third trimester. Baby Moger is growing fast and his brain is making all sorts of connections. His size is likened to that of a cabbage, about 3 pounds and the length of a laptop? (16 in.) It seems like every day he is capable of something new. It's comforting to know that if he was born today, his chance of survival is great because his lungs are able to function outside of the uterus. If you're interested, this is what I look like. Here are my previous pregnancy posts.

Since my last update I've had two doctors appointments and taken two classes. The appointment following my "big ultrasound" was at 24 weeks. They had me take the glucose tolerance test... easily my least fun appointment. I had to drink a bottle of this orange liquid that was honestly so thick and sweeter than syrup. It was disgusting and made me feel awful. Especially because I'll be the first to admit I've had more than my fair share of sweets this pregnancy. I was freaking out that I would test positive for gestational diabetes. They make you wait an hour before drawing your blood and of course you can't eat or drink anything. Afterwards we went and got some eggs for breakfast but I felt bad all day, surely I had failed. Luckily I called for the results and my blood sugar & protein levels measured perfectly in the middle of the road. What!?! I never want to do that again.

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My most recent appointment was on Monday. We're in the process of meeting with the other doctors in the office because their on-call rotation dictates who delivers the baby and they want us to have a comfort level with each. The woman we saw at my last appointment was my favorite. She was easy to talk to, asked the right questions and scheduled us another ultrasound for my next appointment. YES! Usually the 20 week ultrasound is your last one unless something is wrong. But nothing is wrong (that we know of). Basically my uterus is measuring long, which could mean that he's going to be a big baby. Considering that low birth weight is a negative thing, a high birth weight has to be good, right? Right. They may have to re-calculate my due date, but even that is unlikely. His heartbeat was in the 150's, perfectly healthy and normal.

All of that makes a lot of sense considering how I've been feeling. He is getting so strong! The kicks and jabs I feel are honestly frightening sometimes. :) I started experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions a few weeks ago too. They don't hurt, but I notice when they happen. It just feels like everything is so tight and I become increasingly aware of my heart rate. I've been getting these "practice" contractions about twice an hour, but irregularly.

At the end of my second trimester I had a burst of energy. I wanted to get everything done. I cleaned, organized, wrote lists, worked on my weddings a ton and would stay out until 11:30 working on projects at Brew. I was tired, but it felt good to be productive. Now I'm sort of settling down into more realistic version of pregnant me. Other symptoms include heartburn, lower back pain, and hunger. Yep, I'm hungry all. the. time. Oh, and then there was that time I lost my lunch all over the front of my shirt, like a first class infant. Yep, because I love you all so much I'm willing to share that on the Internet. I was in my car (luckily) and then it just all came up. Disgusting. Gosh this blog is glamorous. ;)

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I've been spending lots of time with my labor ball and big pillows. Slowly chugging along at the baby list. Reading books. Organizing the nursery. Preparing our home and hearts. 10 weeks and counting. Baby boy, I cannot wait to hold you in my arms. Thinking about that moment makes all of this SO worth it.

If there is any interest, I'll post a re-cap of the baby care essentials class I took, and the natural childbirth education classes I'm in the middle of soon. They have been so amazing! Thankful for teachers and mentors every where I turn.

Sincerely,

Rachel

Preparing for Baby... an Update!

So it's Friday afternoon, and after a long week I sat down to look at my to-do list. I'm 28 weeks along now! My belly is looking more like a soccer ball with every passing day. Apparently baby Mo is 2.5 lbs, and I can definitely feel him kicking and squirming like crazy sometimes. Woah, baby!
 
We're slowing checking things off the list, but just adding more things to do as time passes. Here's where we were last time I updated. The new updates are in italics!
 
 
 
Find an OB we're comfortable with: This is done! We feel great about our doctor and the clinic in general. For those of you who are TC locals, we're seeing Dr. Danz at the Grand Traverse Women's Clinic. Now we're starting to rotate around the other doctors, because she may not be on call the day baby decides to make his debut. Everyone is really nice and helpful so far!


Research and Hire a Doula: Okay this is strange because all of the Doulas in Traverse City are also PREGNANT and not accepting clients. One of the downfalls to living in the middle of nowhere... So needless to say we most likely won't be having a doula. Decided finally not to hire a doula, because of this issue. However, I am going to take a natural childbirth class with Jonelle, the doula in town! It's six weeks long, starting next week. The only bummer thing is that Isaiah won't be able to attend, because he works on Tuesday evenings. We're going to cover so much material! I'm excited.


Read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: We checked this out from the library and are reading it together most nights before bed. I love reading this one slowing and thoroughly- she has great advice and information. Highly recommend. Finished!


Read A Nursing Mother's Companion: Have heard rave reviews from moms about the importance of this book to prepare you for nursing. I hope to breastfeed and pump for 1 year so this is important to me! Waiting for a copy to come to the library.


Read Bringing up Bebe: Another one with stellar reviews. Should be fun, too!


Read Happiest Baby on the Block: So excited about this! My aunt Cristin had a baby in September and highly recommended. She's going to send that one in the mail this week.


Choose a stroller: We did it! It's not purchased yet, but we decided on the Bumbleride Indie in the color ocean. It has an infant car seat adapter for the car seat we want and should last through toddler hood. The stroller arrived! It's perfect and I can't wait to use it. We ordered it through Sweet Pea downtown TC.


Choose a car seat: Also done! We chose a Chicco brand for it's safety ratings and compatibility with the Bumble. It's also small enough to fit in our little Toyota Corolla, but still holds baby up to 30 pounds. We still need to purchase this too. Carseat came in too! We got a navy color to match the stroller.


Research Baby Carriers: This was really fun for me. I stopped into Sweet Pea (a local baby store) and the nice lady there helped me try a few carriers and choose the best ones for me. We decided on the Moby Wrap for infancy and the Ergo Organic as he grows. Still need to purchase the Ergo.


Choose & Attend a birthing class: The local hospital where I'll be delivering has childbirth classes that I'm sure we'll take as labor gets closer. I also want to take a more specialized class that focuses on natural labor and childbirth but the options locally are very limited. Registered! I'm actually taking an embarrassing amount of classes. My first is a baby care essentials class at Munson. Then I'm taking that 6 week natural childbirth class through the local doula starting next week. Isaiah and I are also taking the childbirth class at the hospital where we're delivering, and finally a breastfeeding education class at the hospital. Whew! Also looking to take an infant CPR class.


Choose a theme and colors for the nursery: Done! We're going with a white/cream/tan/brown theme with pops of forest green for a "Swedish cabin" feel. I know I sound extremely dorky here but this means we can shop at ikea and purchase lots of sheepskin rugs.


Purchase nursery furniture: Getting there! We were gifted a beautiful white crib and have already cleaned out the room and set that up. Still need to get a dresser/changing table, a rocking chair and closet organization elements. Rugs too! :) It's coming along! We rearranged some furniture so now the crib is in place and we have a big shelving unit in there. My in-laws are gifting us a rocker and bringing it up in a few weeks. yay!


Build a registry: Need to get on this. However, I don't know what exactly I want yet! There's a lot to decide on- what pack n' play, highchair, and even bottles and sheets. We don't want a lot of unnecessary stuff so we're trying to be intentional in this area. We are so thankful for our family and friends who want to bless us with gifts! I did it! We registered at Target and Sweet Pea, and it wasn't nearly as tough as I imagined. :)


Attend pre-natal yoga: Crossing this off because I've signed up for a 13 week session and I'm headed into my third class this Monday. Hoping to make friends with some of the other girls in class. Yoga has been so great for me. I've missed a few classes because it's been a busy month, but I'm looking forward to my class in the future. It makes Monday's bearable! Margaret has been so vital in making sure I'm comfortable, and even just helping me breath. Sounds crazy, but I feel my air supply is so limited.


Arrange to get my placenta encapsulated: Don't judge me- if you've never heard of the benefits I encourage you to research it! I know who will be doing this but haven't made my down-payment. Just sent another e-mail today to get this process in motion. I talked to my doctor and she said it won't be a problem to have my placenta released. I'm glad I'll have Jonelle there to do it for me!


Schedule a time for maternity photos: Not sure who I will have take these. I definitely want some photos because we are so lazy about taking our own at home. I'm sure my mother in law who is a photographer will want to take some but I'll hire someone else too. :) Taking photos at the end of April! I'm sure I'll be monstrous by then, but we're going to do them the same day as my shower. Can't wait!


Decided if I want my birth experience to be photographed: Up in the air on this! I don't want Isaiah to have the pressure of taking photos during everything, but I'm not sure if I'll feel comfortable having another person around. Need to think about this. Here's what I've decided. I don't want a photographer there for the whole thing, but I am going to have my friend and photographer come to the hospital right after he's born, to do some photos of my first time nursing and hospital photos. I think this was a good compromise!


Write a will: Freaked out by this, but also I'm feeling like we don't need to do it because we have no real assets. I'm sure we will anyway though. Isaiah found a guide at Munson that we will follow. We're going to be pretty casual about this and not hire anyone to help.


Figure out what to do about a life insurance policy: So lost on this. We both have life insurance separately, mine through work and Isaiah's through his grandparents. Need to mesh these and add baby somehow. Oh man. No progress whatsoever.


Diapering... so many options!: I've decided to go with the Honest Company, for their stellar products, decent pricing and convenience factor. Read more about the company here! Still feeling good about this! I'm leaning towards cloth diapering once he's a little older.


Research Cord Blood Donation: I'm a big advocate of donating blood and we know that we aren't going to pay to have his own cord blood banked. We figured this would be a good way to go! We know we will use Michigan Blood but haven't set the process in motion. Done! Sent in my paperwork and just waiting for the final supplies to come in the mail.


Childcare: This is the big one. I know I'll have three months leave from work, but I haven't decided what to do after, what Isaiah's schedule will look like, how I will work part-time and what that will mean for childcare. Prayers, please! Yikes! This needs to start now. Now that I know what my work will look like (praises!) I can be more decisive about what type of care will work. Planning to start interviewing next month.


Find a Pediatrician: Planning to ask our OB for suggestions. We asked our OB and she basically had no suggestions. We might search for a family doctor instead, because Isaiah and I don't have primary doctors either.


Write our Birth Plan: We already know the basics of what we want, just need to write it down and go over it with our OB. We have lots of questions to ask her! Hoping to do this as part of our natural childbirth class!


Plan a Babymoon!: This will be something real simple because of our budget, but I'm hoping we can make it to Chicago this spring for a quick weekend away. We'll see!


Learn More about stuff: Will baby stay with us in the room at all times? Can I nurse and have skin to skin contact immediately during cleaning/ APGAR? When and who will go over our birth plan with us? Research what to expect and prepare for right before, during, and after labor (the icky stuff), Emergency cesarean, episiotomy, what if? What do all of the shots and vaccines do to baby? What happens if I panic and want an epidural? What can I expect? Lots to learn still!


Write out a hospital bag packing list: Okay I know I'm a person who has it on a list to make another list. DEAL WITH IT!


Prepare a freezer full of "body healing" meals: This won't happen for quite some time but if you have suggestions I'm all ears! :)


Create a Postpartum Exercise Plan: I am hugely prepared for a big break for about six weeks. Once I'm feeling up to it I want to exercise again, and do it with purpose! :)


Figure out what we can control in the Labor Room: I hate florescent lights with a passion. Just ask my husband. I get panicky and I just hate them. I would love to be able to control the lighting in our room and have music that soothes and calms me. I also wish to bring some flowers and maybe another element that will remind me of home, even in a hospital setting. Aromatherapy is also super important to me. I hate that hospital smell! I'll be sure to pack my own lotions and products.

Choose a Diaper Bag: Clueless on this one! Since I don't know how big I'll want it or any features that are really necessary, I'm planning on going on recommendations and style. I always like the look of Kate Spade's designs but they are pretty darn pricey! I really love this one! But I still have to purchase it.
Pick a Name: Oh boy... this is HARD. We're not even to the point where we're narrowing it down. We just don't like anything for our own son! Hopefully this will come soon. Even when we figure it out, we won't be sharing until he is born. ;) We have one! Or rather, we each have one. Once he's born the final choice will be determined... and all I'm saying is that Isaiah isn't going to be the one going through hours of labor & delivery. ;)
 
 
Okay, so we're doing pretty well! Here are a few more things I want to add to the list.
 
Choose a baby monitor: I'm pretty sure I want to go with the Angel Sounds Video monitor, but it's so pricey! We'll see what happens. I'm really attracted to the movement sensor because I'm a freak about things like that.
 
Attend my baby showers: I'll have two in April and I'm so looking forward to them. What a fun excuse to spend time with my co-workers and friends. I'm also helping plan these so that'll be a big part of the rest of this month.
 
Find & Attend an infant CPR Class: This one should go without explanation. I get scared just thinking about it, but if there were an emergency I want to be prepared!
 
Think about labor details: Who should I contact? What snacks do we want to have? (obviously the important stuff ;))
 
Buy a robe for after delivery: I've heard that a delivery gown is sort of unnecessary because of, you know, the blood and stuff. So I'm instead choosing to spoil myself with this Plum Pretty Sugar robe that I've been wanting. It'll be great for photos in the hospital and comfortable for nursing. Yay!
 
Figure out how to be a swaddling master: There are so many types of swaddles out there, I don't know where to begin!
 
Get everything done by 36 weeks!: This is an ambitious goal, but it's necessary. May is going to be an unbelievable busy month with weddings and flowers like woah. I would love if the nursery was finished, the bags packed and the carseat in the car by May 10th I'd be so happy!
 
There's a lot to do when you're expecting a new person to join your family. I can't wait to meet you, little Mo!
 

Pregnancy, The Second Trimester Pt. 3

Hello week 24! I can't believe I'm over halfway there. I wanted to share a little update on how things have been progressing. I've been feeling pretty good overall. My energy boost has been sustained throughout the past few weeks which I am so thankful for. I don't need daily naps anymore, but I find that if I have a few later nights I need a big nap to catch up.

At 20 Weeks we had our big ultrasound! It was so much fun to see our little one's face. He's a little angel baby. We loved getting these 3D images to share. He was rubbing his eyes and even sucking his thumb! Be still my heart.

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The purpose of the ultrasound was to check for any abnormalities in his anatomy. The technology was crazy- they checked the parts of the brain, the heart, all of his bones and made sure he was still a boy. Isaiah and I are so thankful for such a healthy baby!

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One new symptom that's come up is some major back pain. Not good! I've been seeing a chiropractor for some help, but the truth is that it's just pregnancy doing it's thing. It's been better but my ligaments will only get looser. The chiro has also been helping with my headaches and they've gotten better do to her help, more water and more rest. Hallelujah!

At around 19 weeks I started feeling regular movement. Turns out I had been feeling flutters for a few weeks but couldn't verify that is was in fact the little guy. Now at 24 weeks I'm feeling full on kicks and punches! Isaiah could probably feel them but is too scared it'll remind him of a mouse (???).

We're getting closer to a name, though it's still really tough. I think we'll most likely keep a list of 3-5 names that we like and bring it to the hospital with us. :)

Other than that it's been smooth sailing! We're slowing checking things off of our baby list and even bought a car seat! I'm looking forward to our shower and praying that he stays healthy for the next few months. I'm getting so anxious for this next stage of life!

On Dreaming Big... & Seeing Results!

As I was saying, miracles started happening. :)

Isaiah got a promotion at the hospital that will raise our income significantly, not enough that I don't have to work but it will at least give me some more freedom in what I'm looking for part time as far as pay. This new job, along with being a boost to our finances is something that he really wants to do long term. It will be easier for him to go back to work after we have the baby. Wow,

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. He worked hard and I am so proud of him. He starts his new position on April 1st, about two months before baby mo is born.

A week ago today a friend came and saw me at the bank and shared an opportunity for a part-time job that I might be interested in. I am endlessly thankful for the people in my life and how they look after me. Stacy, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The position was for a part-time floral designer at a local shop here in Traverse City that specializes in weddings and special events. Clearly I called immediately! I went through a series of interviews and eventually landed the job.

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It's the perfect position for me. I mean perfect in ways that I can't even describe all of the ways. I had prayed for a job that would pay enough for me to work part time so I could spend more time with my son and wedding clients. That's it.

Instead, I was blessed with an opportunity that's better than anything I could have imagined myself. Not only is it logistically perfect (enough pay, flexible scheduling, downtown TC), but the women themselves are amazing. I can't wait to start working with them. They understand that a job is important to support your life, and not the other way around. They appreciate my skills and love the fact that I plan weddings so the connection will truly be mutually beneficial. But even crazier is that I'm pregnant, and due right at the beginning of wedding season. They are working with my schedule until I'm available because we are a good fit. Can you believe that? A true miracle.

In this new season of motherhood I am also going to be able to grow my business with this new found freedom and connection in the wedding industry. I'll be able to offer my floral design services through the shop here in town and connect with so many new faces in the industry. The position will strengthen and refine my floral design skills and allow me to work around my clients schedules. The owners know how important it is to stay home with a sick baby and be there for the things that matter. Meanwhile the "work" will be pure bliss for me. Have you ever noticed that I post photos of pink roses in 85% of my posts? Yep, I do. It's because I love them unapologetically. Arranging flowers all day will be the biggest dream come true ever.

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You know the craziest thing? I'm not a professional floral designer. I'm self taught, but they were really impressed with my work. For my interview I was asked to through together an arrangement and apparently I did a spectacular job. I am so proud of myself and thankful for those wedding clients that helped my pursue my dreams and led me to this reality. Without their confidence I wouldn't be where I'm headed.

I am amazed at the work God is doing in our lives. He hears our prayers and I am humbled to receive such an enormous blessing. I'm ready for this next phase of life, to work and love even harder.

Preparing For Baby

Now that I'm 20 weeks along and my belly is growing at a considerably fast rate, I thought it would be a good time to make a to-do before baby list! I'm going to make this as thorough as possible and plan on adding items more towards the end as I update. There are some things I'll put on the list that just aren't necessary until much later but still fun to think about and plan for!

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Find an OB we're comfortable withThis is done! We feel great about our doctor and the clinic in general. For those of you who are TC locals, we're seeing Dr. Danz at the Grand Traverse Women's Clinic.

Research and Hire a DoulaOkay this is strange because all of the Doulas in Traverse City are also PREGNANT and not accepting clients. One of the downfalls to living in the middle of nowhere... So needless to say we most likely won't be having a doula

Read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: We checked this out from the library and are reading it together most nights before bed. I love reading this one slowing and thoroughly- she has great advice and information. Highly recommend.

Read A Nursing Mother's Companion: Have heard rave reviews from moms about the importance of this book to prepare you for nursing. I hope to breastfeed and pump for 1 year so this is important to me! Waiting for a copy to come to the library.

Read Bringing up Bebe: Another one with stellar reviews. Should be fun, too!

Choose a strollerWe did it! It's not purchased yet, but we decided on the Bumbleride Indie in the color ocean. It has an infant car seat adapter for the car seat we want and should last through toddler hood.

Choose a car seat: Also done! We chose a Chicco brand for it's safety ratings and compatibility with the Bumble. It's also small enough to fit in our little Toyota Corolla, but still holds baby up to 30 pounds. We still need to purchase this too.

Research Baby Carriers: This was really fun for me. I stopped into Sweet Pea (a local baby store) and the nice lady there helped me try a few carriers and choose the best ones for me. We decided on the Moby Wrap for infancy and the Ergo Organic as he grows. Still need to purchase the Ergo.

Choose & Attend a birthing class: The local hospital where I'll be delivering has childbirth classes that I'm sure we'll take as labor gets closer. I also want to take a more specialized class that focuses on natural labor and childbirth but the options locally are very limited.

Choose a theme and colors for the nursery: Done! We're going with a white/cream/tan/brown theme with pops of forest green for a "Swedish cabin" feel. I know I sound extremely dorky here but this means we can shop at ikea and purchase lots of sheepskin rugs.

Purchase nursery furniture: Getting there! We were gifted a beautiful white crib and have already cleaned out the room and set that up. Still need to get a dresser/changing table, a rocking chair and closet organization elements. Rugs too! :)

Build a registry: Need to get on this. However, I don't know what exactly I want yet! There's a lot to decide on- what pack n' play, highchair, and even bottles and sheets. We don't want a lot of unnecessary stuff so we're trying to be intentional in this area. We are so thankful for our family and friends who want to bless us with gifts!

Attend pre-natal yoga: Crossing this off because I've signed up for a 13 week session and I'm headed into my third class this Monday. Hoping to make friends with some of the other girls in class.

Arrange to get my placenta encapsulated: Don't judge me- if you've never heard of the benefits I encourage you to research it! I know who will be doing this but haven't made my down-payment.

Schedule a time for maternity photos: Not sure who I will have take these. I definitely want some photos because we are so lazy about taking our own at home. I'm sure my mother in law who is a photographer will want to take some but I'll hire someone else too. :)

Decided if I want my birth experience to be photographed: Up in the air on this! I don't want Isaiah to have the pressure of taking photos during everything, but I'm not sure if I'll feel comfortable having another person around. Need to think about this.

Write a will: Freaked out by this, but also I'm feeling like we don't need to do it because we have no real assets. I'm sure we will anyway though.

Figure out what to do about a life insurance policy: So lost on this. We both have life insurance separately, mine through work and Isaiah's through his grandparents. Need to mesh these and add baby somehow.

Diapering... so many options!: I've decided to go with the Honest Company, for their stellar products, decent pricing and convenience factor. Read more about the company here!

Research Cord Blood Donation: I'm a big advocate of donating blood and we know that we aren't going to pay to have his own cord blood banked. We figured this would be a good way to go! We know we will use Michigan Blood but haven't set the process in motion.

Childcare: This is the big one. I know I'll have three months leave from work, but I haven't decided what to do after, what Isaiah's schedule will look like, how I will work part-time and what that will mean for childcare. Prayers, please!

Find a Pediatrician: Planning to ask our OB for suggestions.

Write our Birth Plan: We already know the basics of what we want, just need to write it down and go over it with our OB. We have lots of questions to ask her!

Plan a Babymoon!: This will be something real simple because of our budget, but I'm hoping we can make it to Chicago this spring for a quick weekend away. We'll see!

Learn More about stuff: Will baby stay with us in the room at all times? Can I nurse and have skin to skin contact immediately during cleaning/ APGAR? When and who will go over our birth plan with us? Research what to expect and prepare for right before, during, and after labor (the icky stuff), Emergency cesarean, episiotomy, what if? What do all of the shots and vaccines do to baby? What happens if I panic and want an epidural? What can I expect? Lots to learn still!

Write out a hospital bag packing list: Okay I know I'm a person who has it on a list to make another list. DEAL WITH IT!

Prepare a freezer full of "body healing" meals: This won't happen for quite some time but if you have suggestions I'm all ears! :)

Create a Postpartum Exercise Plan: I am hugely prepared for a big break for about six weeks. Once I'm feeling up to it I want to exercise again, and do it with purpose! :)

Figure out what we can control in the Labor Room: I hate florescent lights with a passion. Just ask my husband. I get panicky and I just hate them. I would love to be able to control the lighting in our room and have music that soothes and calms me. I also wish to bring some flowers and maybe another element that will remind me of home, even in a hospital setting. Aromatherapy is also super important to me. I hate that hospital smell! I'll be sure to pack my own lotions and products.

Choose a Diaper Bag: Clueless on this one! Since I don't know how big I'll want it or any features that are really necessary, I'm planning on going on reccomendations and style. I always like the look of Kate Spade's designs but they are pretty darn pricey!

Pick a Name: Oh boy... this is HARD. We're not even to the point where we're narrowing it down. We just don't like anything for our own son! Hopefully this will come soon. Even when we figure it out, we won't be sharing until he is born. ;)

Well even if this was the most boring post of ALL TIME it was good for me to write that out. I'm sure I'll need to add more to it later as we get more specific on some things but this is a good start! If you read all that you are way too interested in my life. Unless you're pregnant, then it's okay. :)

Sincerely,

Rachel

 In case you missed them... Here are some of my other pregnancy posts!

Pregnancy: The Second Trimester Pt. 2

So the big news is... it's a BOY! I'm sure you already knew because I wasn't really keeping it a secret. We would have been ecstatic for either gender, but this feels so right. Isaiah is going to be such a great dad to our little man, I can't wait to see that relationship develop.

It's pretty well known around my "circle" that I've been wanting to know the gender since basically conception. I thought it would help me feel more connected to the baby, so we could pick out a name and start decorating the nursery. I even claimed that it was my Christmas wish. :)

My last appointment was on December 16th, I was 15 weeks and 5 days pregnant. A few days before the appointment I called to schedule an "elective ultrasound". Note: If you're pregnant and curious about this, talk to your doctor. I don't think it's common to elect for an ultrasound. I simply asked, and luckily they had an appointment with the ultrasound tech available.

currently nesting

When we entered the room we were greeted with such a friendly face. I can't remember her name but she was exceptionally nice. Once I got all settled with the goo on my belly, I let her know that we were hoping to know the gender, and if she had a good guess we'd like to know. She said it would be too early to tell and she didn't like to guess wrong and have us "go painting the baby's room". I said that was fine, though I was a little disappointed. After all, it was my Christmas wish!

We got such a stellar look at the little guy. He was moving all around and really looked like a baby. They transferred some images to 3D and printed them out for us. He's a stud, let me tell you. Next they did a trans-vaginal ultrasound for a closer look. Before she even said anything I knew it was a boy. He was positioned so well to show off for his mama! Baby knew it was my Christmas wish. Once the image popped up she immediately started typing "boy baby!!!!!!" on the ultrasound monitor. Literally just like that with all of the exclamation.

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Isaiah gave his usual shocked and excited face and was just smiling and smiling. It melted my heart. I was in shock. I would have been either way. Surprisingly, I didn't shed a tear. :) Afterwards, we determined we should so something manly and go out for burgers and beers. Isaiah picked out North Peak Brewery which was a perfect choice. We called my parents and our siblings to share the news and it was so much fun! It truly did make it seem more real to me. A son. Our son. A baby boy. How amazing. I love him so much already.

Pregnancy: The Second Trimester, Pt. 1

Where I I leave off? Oh yea, here. Isaiah and I were in Mexico and we had just broke the news to all of our family and friends. It was amazing to share the news with everyone. Parents, grandparents, friends, and family were all there to support us, just like they've always been. Ever since our wedding I have a new appreciation for the people in my life who have always been there. That sort of love is unique and beautiful.

After we returned from vacation I was only a few weeks away from my second trimester. With each passing day I felt more energized. Still not enough to exercise or cook a healthy dinner, but we made it through.

At 13w5d, I was almost into my second tri and there was a noticeable difference in my symptoms (i.e. enough to scare me). I went to the doctor right before they closed and talked to a nurse about my severe headaches and cramping/bleeding. She was very nice, but insisted that I be seen in the ER. As a matter of fact, my husband works in the ER so this wasn't exactly the "date night" he had in mind. The good thing was that we got in right away for the necessary testing.

Obviously everything was fine, otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it so casually. They did the usual testing (blood pressure, weight, etc), and then put me in a room to wait for the nurse. My symptoms had subsided quite a bit, but they insisted on giving me an IV with fluids and some type of anti-nausea meds (even though I wasn't nauseous?). Then they took me in for an ultrasound. It was so wonderful to see our little babe if only for a few minutes. He was so much bigger than 10w5d, Isaiah joked that he looked like a little Mexican skull doll. Cute, am I right? ;) They found the heartbeat with no problem and he was squirming around like crazy.

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living in anticipation of this.

This emergency trip was really scary but I left feeling peaceful and calm. I knew we had another appointment only two weeks away and our little man felt safe deep inside of me. He was so small then! Even now, he's only the size of a sweet potato at 17 weeks.

In the next post, gender reveal! Even though you already know, this appointment was so cool. Hopefully after that we'll be caught up in real time. :)

Happy day!

Rachel

Letter to my Future Self

As I mentioned in his post, I know only how to write 100% authentically. I got this idea from Jess Lively's blog, to write a letter to my future self as a way of writing your intentions for the next year. It's really helped me clarify what the core of my heart looks like and if all the small things fall short, what I want life to look like. This is not all easy stuff. It's the real issues and struggles that I deal with everyday. Throughout the year I'm planning to write monthly goals to support all of these larger intentions. I would love if any of you would check in with me every once in a while and see how I'm doing. If you're a goal-setter, I am passionate about doing the same! Without further ado, here it is!

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Dear Rachel,

It is January 1st, 2014. Life is more wonderful than I could have imagined. I thought that 2012 was a blessed year, with a new husband, financial freedom and the conception of a perfect baby boy, but 2013 exceeded my expectations. Absolutely astounding. I was able to focus on what matters, and forget the rest.

Relationships, God, Creating, Health.

We brought our beautiful son into the world in June who Isaiah and I cherish and love above almost all else. We make bonding and family time a top priority. We were able to visit my parents and grandfather, and took time in the summer to visit family in Connecticut.

After I gave the natural, med-free birth that I trained and prepared for, I never returned to the bank full time. We are wise with our money and as a team developed a budget and found a way to support our family the most efficiently.

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Each month we review out budget and statements. We do not use our credit cards and are working on diminishing our debt. I feel comfortable and secure financially and Isaiah and I are constantly on the same page.

We established a workspace for Occasion that is the perfect place to build my business. It is clean and allows me to think and create freely, without clutter (mental or physical). I feel peaceful in my office.

My blog is picking up with regular posting and gaining meaningful readership each month. I write about my business, family, inspirations and intentions as I approach and experience motherhood.

I have found a way to generate income while working from home in some capacity. This could be through calligraphy, floral design, or another extension of Occasions. Working creatively with my hands has been rewarding and helped me define where I want my business to go in the future. I've developed a business plan and am so satisfied with where I'm at. I went above and beyond the expectations of my clients and this only deepened my sense of gratitude for amazing clients. This was an intentionally "slow" year for me, but I was still able to produce a photo shoot that I'm proud of and grow Occasions behind the scenes. I am ready for 2014!

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During pregnancy, I made the best use of my time. I gained a "normal" amount of weight and ate healthily and exercised throughout. We eat a balanced diet and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. After I gave birth I continued to focus on my health and wellness as I easily achieved my pre-pregnancy weight.

I designed baby's nursery on a budget and we love the way it looks! It is organized and simple, perfect for nursing, changing, and letting baby sleep. We took tons of photos this year! We printed them out and even framed some.

During my maternity leave, I learned to maintain the house and clean regularly. We have "systems" and organization in each area of our home. It makes cleaning and finding things a breeze! Isaiah and I feel like our responsibilities are divided equitably and fairly.

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I strengthened my relationships with Brittany, Callie, Natalie and Bk this year. I made an effort to remember birthdays and call more often. Friendship took a new role in my life. I was able to balance relationships with my oldest, greatest friends with some new ones too. I'm working on building up "my team" of supporters, and in turn I am more fully present with others.

This year I read more and watched less television. It was a good example for baby and great for my brain. I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction that included baby books, business development and cookbooks- some fiction too. We also read to our little babe almost every night.

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I felt beautiful this year. Pregnancy was healthy and I took care of myself. During pregnancy I practiced yoga and walked outside regularly. Afterwards I hit the gym harder and got back into running at a comfortable pace. Even through early motherhood, I made myself feel great by taking relaxing baths, and made "getting ready" in the morning a priority.

We were very picky about how we spent our time. When given the chance to travel, we focused on visiting family and friends. During that time it was relaxing and stress-free. Lots of time outdoors, at the beach, eating together. It was lovely.

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Above all, I showed Isaiah how much I love him, and I put family first. Together we lead a household with a foundation of love. Our marriage serves to show our son what's really important, because we focus on living out those intentions daily. We supported each others goals wholeheartedly and went after what we wanted fiercely. We are learning to dream bigger.

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Best wishes for your amazing 2013,

Rachel

Pregnancy: The First Trimester Pt. 2

After our first appointment with the baby doctor, I was in the zone. I was feeling better every day. All I could think about (still true actually), was about the new life forming inside of me. I started to research diapers, strollers, birth plans, doulas, budgets, nursery ideas, registry items... You name it, it had been googled. No joke, I was a search engine machine for about a week there.

When I wasn't passing time on Amazon, I was sleeping. Tiredness set in like nothing I had seen before. It could have been my body preparing for the crazy week of traveling we had before us, but either way I was lounging like I have never lounged before. Each day after work I'd come home and nap for at least an hour, usually two. It wasn't so bad, except I couldn't finish a movie to save my life.

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Another thing that was great about having that appointment behind us was that we were finally free to share the big news with our family and friends (and anyone that would listen). My doctor put our risk of miscarriage at less than 1%, and seemed very confidant in the health of the baby. Telling my parents was so much fun. They were surprised, of course, but I could tell by their voices how happy they were. My dad kept saying, "I'm too young (read: hip) to be a grandpa!". It was an indescribable feeling to have their support.

Since we were flying to Mexico just 5 days after our appointment, we decided to wait and tell my husband's parents in person, and I am so glad we did! Let me paint a picture for you... We had just gotten had a full day and half of traveling. We drove to Detroit, stayed the night at Isaiah's cousin's house, went to the airport at 6:00 a.m., flew to Ft. Lauderdale, transferred to a plane to Cancun, took a shuttle to the Port of Juarez, and then got on a ferry boat to Isla Mujeres. Whew! To say this pregnant lady was tired is an understatement.

My energy only rose when we saw my mother in law, (who happens to be one of my favorite people on the planet) waving her arms in excitement. We walked two blocks to George's favorite restaurant on the Island (sand-bottom, you have to believe I loved it.) and ordered drinks. Of course the first thing I'm offered is a Margarita... I claimed dehydration. After about 45 seconds of small talk I motioned Isaiah to get to it and spill the beans! I have this "thing" about me- I can't lie. But it's even deeper than that- I can't even withhold the truth when it's a big deal.

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After he said the words, "We're having a baby", jaws were on the ground, eyes were wide, and then immediately there was jumping and hugging. They were shocked but SO happy. The best reaction we could hope for. As soon as we recapped everything that had been happening for the past 12 weeks, we told them that we wanted a relaxing vacation, one that wasn't

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baby-centered. However it was pretty hard not to talk about the pregnancy with Diane, because she's the most understanding and thoughtful conversationalist I've ever met. We chatted a little bit about my hopes to have a natural birth, hire a doula, and how this new development alters the course of my business and intentions. She really helps me think.

Coming up... the first part of the second trimester! If you missed it, here' the first pregnancy post.

Pregnancy, The First Trimester Pt. 1

I've been wanting to post about my experience with pregnancy since the first week I found out we had conceived, but as you probably know it's better to wait a while. So, here is a little re-cap of how things have been going! Warning, I only know how to write honestly and openly, so there might be more information here than you care to know. :)

First of all, Isaiah and I have always known we wanted children. We didn't have a plan as to when we would start trying, and frankly we never got to that conversation. One day in the middle of September, I had the usual symptoms that would spell pregnant, but I honestly think I knew from the moment of conception. It was a feeling deep down, I felt different, I just knew. I had heard other mothers talk about this before but it shocked my how intuitive I felt. We took a test and it was definitely positive, so were the next seven. ;) It was shocking and wonderful. The next day I went out and immediately purchased three baby books and started studying up!

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(obviously I don't look this pregnant yet. ;)

Weeks 5 and 6 were a blur of excitement and shock. So much new information to take in, but I felt great. I went to the gym lots and continued eating healthy. We purchased pre-natal vitamins right away and I thought, "yea, pregnancy rocks!". So not the case for the next 3 weeks. I started to develop food aversions to all vegetables, most meat, and anything that smelled like anything. Tomatoes were especially strange- sour and foreign to my taste buds.

When I booked my first appointment I was informed that I wouldn't be seen until I was between 10 and 12 weeks. It seemed like forever to wait. We set our date for 10w5d, but around week 8 I got scared. My symptoms totally dropped off, to the point that I was worried. I read horrible stories online of miscarrying without the usual symptoms, and that the baby "just stopped growing". If you know anything about me, you know that I'm a worrier to begin with. Luckily, I went in for a few blood tests to confirm that my HCG levels were still on the rise. I was so relieved, and couldn't believe how attached I was to this little being already.

At our first appointment in November, we went through a few hours of blood draws, nurse visits, questioning, a visit with the doctor, and finally an ultrasound! Hearing our little babe's heartbeat was life changing. Strong and steady at 172 BPM. He was moving so much, almost like a little gummy bear! It was incredible. I was so happy that Isaiah and I got to experience that together. He's going to be the best dad.

To be continued...

Moving Forward

I'm not going to apologize for my lack of blogging over the past month. There has been so much going on! In this post, I want to do a little recap of where I've been and what I've been up to for the last month, but I also want to set some personal and professional goals for the next year, and line up what my intentions are for this blog for 2013. This may or may not take up a few posts.

I left off mentioning that we were about to embark on a vacation (not a trip!) to Isla Mujeres to visit my in-laws. Let me just say that the trip was magical. We spent hours strolling through the downtown streets, eating popsicles and laying around on the beach. The weather was iconic and it was great to just spend time with my husband, his brother and my in-laws. Together we celebrated my 24th birthday, Thanksgiving, and a some big news.... Isaiah and I are having a baby!

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Yep, you read that right. At the time of our visit, We were just about 12 weeks along and were able to tell our family in person, which was so important to me. Unfortunately my parents heard the news over the phone, but were obviously still thrilled. I want to write more about our trip and share some of the photos too.

As of today, I am 16 weeks along and feeling fabulous! For a while I was pretty sick and very tired, so I'm glad to be in this new stage of pregnancy. We also had our third ultrasound on Wednesday and found out that we are having a sweet baby boy! Honestly we could not be more thrilled. I am enamoured with him already.

Because of this huge news, my life is taking a drastic turn in the next year! I think about all the ground work I've done in building my event planning business: the hours I've put in at a job that is (almost) the furthest thing from fulfilling, working weddings for free, pulling all-nighters painting watercolors for clients, rising before dawn to finish floral arrangements so they are the freshest as can be. I know in my heart of hearts that event planning and floral design is where I am called to be. Do I know when I'll be able to pursue that full-time? No. But I do know that I have the most loving family and support system. I am blessed beyond measure with a husband that not only supports my dreams of running my business and being a mom to our kids, but a man who is level headed about money and who wants a secure, happy life for us all.

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For now, our "plan" is to have faith that everything will fall into place in it's right time. This summer I was planning on working 8 weddings (that was my goal), and now I've had to turn away clients. This doesn't upset me because I know that these actions support my greater intention of being a loving wife and mother. I can't wait to share more of this journey with you and move forward with this blog. Thanks for reading, it's going to be a crazy year!

For now, a little to-post list. :)

-Isla Mujeres recap

-Baby Progress so far

-Personal Intentions 2013

-Professional goals 2013