Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Storm Happenin's

What wonderful winter storm this turned out to be. Not nearly as bad as the ice storm of 2007. We didn't lose power, our trees made it unscathed, and we scored some time off to relax and enjoy the beauty of a peaceful winter storm.

Check out these stalactites clinging to our eaves. We have one on the back that measured over four feet long.

Cora and Yeti must have cabin fever; here they are burning off some energy inside.

And finally, Rob "sledding" down the OU parking garage in a wheel barrow. Classy. We also went sledding with some neighborhood folks yesterday. Rob and I have never been sledding together before and had a blast.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ice Storm 2007....the Remix?

Ice Storm 2007…the remix?
We’ve been under a winter storm watch since Monday and were upgraded to a winter storm warning today.  What?  It is B-E-A-UTIFUL outside today.  It feels like one of those days on the cusp of spring.  Everything is still brown and dormant, but you know any moment fresh life will peek its pretty head up from below.  But, alas, this is not so.  It is just another unusually nice January day that tricks you into thinking you will be digging out your shorts and tank tops next week.
The meteorologists have been on a tirade all week telling people to get prepared.  I could feel the pre-winter storm buzz in the air during a quick trip to the grocery store.  Luckily, I work a few miles north of the National Weather Center (the place that magically generates weather reports for much of the country with their fancy algorithms and predictive models) and have some meteorologist friends who have given me some insider information.  They predict it will not be as bad as the 2007 Ice Storm in Norman.  Let’s hope!

Looking back, that was such a weird, scary, awesome, powerful, memorable, pain in the rear thing to be a part of.  I remember it clearly.  We were supposed to take our youth group out caroling that night, but the freaky thunder-sleet dumping from the sky suggested we change our plans.  Yes, I said thunder-sleet.  Instead we gathered at the church to sing our joyous carols for a tiny crowd of oh, about three, at our evening service.  Most people were smart enough not to venture out, but we wanted to SING!  And SING we did, although it was practically just for ourselves.  On the way home, trees were already starting to buckle under the tremendous weight of ice accumulations foreshadowing what was to come.
That evening Rob and I sunk into our sheets up to our necks and drifted to sleep only to be awakened by CRACK, SNAP, CREEEEEEAAAAAAAAK, BANG, BZZZZZZZT, and the occasional brilliant light show caused by exploding transformers.  We lie there in our sheets still up to our necks wondering if our tall pines in the back would crush our house.  All night long the war-like noises continued accompanied by the hypnotic rhythm of falling ice.  In the silence we contemplated what it must be like to live in a warzone where the noises echoing in the cold night mean something far heavier. 
The next morning we awoke to a world transformed by amazing accumulations of ice.  Nature encapsulated in inches of ice is really something to behold.  And the silence…the glorious, terrible silence of a world with NO POWER anywhere.  No buzzing lines overhead, no humming fans in the house, no cars, no television, no radio, no noise…except the avalanche like sound of huge branches crushing to the ground.
The next few days and weeks were a time for family, friends, and community to come together in the warmth of spaces that did have power.  We went without for over a week and were grateful for the many fun sleepovers and hot showers of kind friends and neighbors.  I’ll never forget those times spent with friends and how much fun we had.
Is this going to happen tomorrow?  Probably not…hopefully not…but it is wonderful to know we will be surrounded by the warmth of our friends if it does.   

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Impromptu Photo Session

Who knew a La Quinta Inn could provide such a great backdrop for infant photography?  Here are a few pics captured during an overnight stay in Arkansas.  We still haven't had a professional photographer take any pictures, but seem to be making due with what we take and our lovely friend photoshop. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Daddy organizes...

So I think I need to start a series of posts called "When Daddy...".  It's not that daddies do things wrong, just differently than a mama would.  I'm finding that they often have great ideas.  Cora's drawers and closet were getting a little out of control so Rob volunteered to do some reorganizing.  Here's his solution for the sock drawer. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

When daddy puts baby down for a nap.

A few weekends ago Rob was putting Cora down for a nap.  I thought it sounded awfully quiet in the back of the house and this is what I found.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh no...we're in for it!

Meet Yeti.  Cora's new little brother.  He is only 13 weeks old and already weighs 10 pounds more than she does.  Sometimes, I wish I could put diapers on him too.  He already knows how to fetch and is pretty good with sit.  He doesn't just follow us around the house, he sticks to us like glue.  He'll even jump in the shower with you if you're not careful.  We already to love hime to pieces...but I think we're in for it.  He is a total mess. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

She's already come so far.

What a difference a few months makes. Listen carefully and you'll probably have a laugh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby's First Christmas

Has our child's first Christmas already come and gone? Sometimes the days seem so slow, but the years are way too fast. I find that I am already clinging to Cora's baby stage because it will be gone before I know it. Sigh.

Our first Christmas with Cora was amazing. We loved having an extra stocking on the fireplace mingling with ours. Cora was intrigued by the lights on the tree and wanted to touch all of the ornaments. The delicate way in which she investigates objects with her hands is amazing to me. She is into different textures and you can see the wheels turning as her tiny fingers explore.

We drove to Alabama for a week long vacation at my Momo and Popo's house. Cora met her great-grandparent's for the first time and we were joined by my parents and my brother's family. Cora didn't mind the 12 hour drive or a completely new environment a bit. While we were away, we missed the epic Oklahoma blizzard but were able to live vicariously through the news, the weather channel, and updates from our friends. I think there are still some piles of snow hanging on. Cora also cut her first two teeth on the trip, her bottom middles. They look like two little pearls.

I'm fairly certain that both Momo and Popo were smitten with Cora. I know that my grandparents loved me dearly when I was a tiny baby and it was amazing to see them now love my baby. For years I've made the journey to Alabama to spend time with family; the trip never gets old. There are always the same familiar things to return to even though there is also change.

Babies must be born with an instinct for opening presents because Cora dove right in to tearing the paper off packages. She received some fun and beautiful gifts! The handmade "bed bug" that Grammy gave her is now her "lovey" at night time. She loves to bang on the piano that Uncle Wes and Aunt Shannon gave her, and her new wooden toys from Great Momo and Popo are tops.
We couldn't have had a better time with family. On the drive home, Rob and I spent a lot of time talking about our desires for our own family life and family traditions we would like to start. We were so engrossed in our deep conversation that we may have veered off the correct path home a little, but I wouldn't trade that time of sharing ideas for the lost time on the road.

All in all, a magical and amazing Christmas.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MONTH TWO.....and a few months after.

By month two I was finally getting a little more sleep (it is amazing what that can do for you!) and settling into being a mama. My body was continuing to heal and each day I felt stronger. We got out for early morning walks before the heat moved in. Cora's personality remained calm and a schedule was naturally falling into place. Babies have this amazing rhythm about them that never ceases to amaze me.

I loved those early summer mornings with Cora. Our rocking chair is right next to an east facing window and the morning sun streaming in is beautiful.

We took our first road trip to my parents house in Texas. What would normally be a three and a half hour drive took about five, but we enjoyed taking our time and traveling with the babe. I remember the weather was unseasonably cool for that time in Texas, and we had a wonderful time lounging around in my parent's backyard under the cover of the towering trees. It was a perfect afternoon and Cora didn't seem to mind it a bit! For the matter, neither did Daddy. On the way back to Oklahoma we stopped for a wonderful picnic lunch next to the Route 66 Museum in Clinton. Looking back she seems so tiny in my arms. We finally had all the new babies and moms over for lunch one afternoon and spent some time snapping pics of them lined up in chronological order from youngest to oldest. Can you believe all these sweeties were born within seven weeks of each other and all on the same block? The middle three were all within one week. It is going to be fun having so many playmates on the street.
In late August we took advantage of the Oklahoma heat and our dear friends' pool to see how Cora would take to the water. One of our former youth group kiddos gave this hilarious baby bikini to us as a gift. It is now in her time capsule. The water was a wee bit chilly, but once she settled in she didn't mind it.

Towards the end of the second month, Cora started smiling for real. Not just the little sweet smiles in her sleep, but real, live I'm looking at you kid smiles. Oh, it melts your heart, and that's just the beginning. She also rolled over for the first time when she was two months old, but then decided to wait several weeks before doing it again.

One thing I'm learning is that each day with a child is better than the last and each day brings new discoveries. It seems as if your heart might run out of room for the growing love you experience, but it doesn't, it just keeps on stretching until you think it might explode. One day they reach out for a toy, and it makes you so proud. Then they start to reach out for your face when you are rocking them and it is such a precious moment. They struggle during tummy time and then they start to get the hang of lifting their head up. Things change so fast.

In October, we drove to Austin to ride in the Livestrong Challenge with my brother and dad. Cora got bored and decided she wanted to drive.

We rented a little cottage on a river and really enjoyed each other's company. I want to give a shout out to my father who raised over $2,500 for the Livestrong Foundation, and also to my brother for encouraging us all to participate and organizing it. It was a wonderful time with family. Here we are enjoying the back porch on a beautiful day.
After returning from Livestrong, Halloween was right around the corner. We had put a little thought into dressing up, but weren't really sure what we should do. Since Cora's birth, we have taken to calling hier Cora Bird, or just Bird, or Birdie, or any varieation of bird, because of her many bird-like faces and sounds. So naturally, we decided she should be a bird and us bird watchers. More specifically, Cora was a bald eagle and here she is in all her feathered glory.
Here she is with her friends -- a bee, an olive, a bear, and a bat.

And finally, all decked out with mom and dad, and our good friends.
November was a bit of a tough month for us. We had to put our dog down, and the whole month was sort of swirled with grief. For Thanksgiving we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves and really didn't want to go anywhere, so we stayed home and celebrated thankfully with a motley crew of neighbors, friends and strangers.

At then end of November we started Cora on solid foods. She is an ambitious eater and likes almost everything she's tried, which to date includes, peas, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini and squash, green beans, blueberries, pears and prunes. She is definitely getting the hang of eating off a spoon and is already wanting to feed herself! Independence here we come.
Are we caught up to the present yet? Just about. I think I'll save December and baby's first Christmas for the next episode.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Month One

After staying in the hospital long enough to get my staples out and make sure that my body was eliminating fluid, Rob and I brought our new sweet bundle home to begin our new life. The car ride home was kind of surreal. We knew our lives were already changed forever, but bringing that change home makes it all the more real. Of course I rode in the backseat with Cora (she was completely crashed out), and WOW, are Norman streets bumpy! Nothing like your new empty, slack abdomen bouncing around with a fresh six inch incision in it.

I wish I could say that when we returned home everything fell perfectly into place and I was the perfect little mommy and everything was just peachy, but it was a little (not too much, just a little) rough in the beginning. Your whole world is turned upside down in addition to having your days and nights all swirled together. Luckily, I had the complete support of my wonderful husband, and my mom and dad too while I was trying to figure out how to be a mother.

You see, I had a small misconception about babies. They cry like the dickens when they are hungry, right? Not ours. I don't think we really heard her cry until she got her first shot at two weeks. I spent the first couple of weeks in a sleep deprived haze of "is it time to feed the baby? now? ok, is it time now? what about now?" Feeding a baby is not a no-brainer! Isn't it supposed to be the most natural thing in the world?

A few days after being home from the hospital, we had a small scare that required a trip to the ER. Nothing, NOTHING would wake Cora. It had been a few hours since she had eaten and was in the deepest, DEEPEST of baby sleep. After talking with a nurse at Children's Hospital, they advised us to head to the ER. We checked in, were sent to triage, and Cora promptly woke up, filled her diaper, and was ready to eat. Whew! We should have been taking nudey newborn pictures during that precious deep sleep instead of worrying, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

After about two weeks, we were finally starting to find a rhythm and get a little sleep. Rob went back to work, my parents were gone, and it was just me and this precious, tiny baby spending each day together. Oh, and my old feet decided they would finally return. Whew!

The first month with a new baby goes a lot like this: change diaper, feed, burp, play, change diaper, rock, sleep, and repeat. You become so captivated by a new baby's alert times because it seems like they are so fleeting you want to capture every little moment. Check out the delicious wrinkles on those wrists! At one month to the day, Cora's umbilical stump fell off. Isn't that a little longer than normal? We were afraid she might take it to kindergarten. Anyhow, we were thrilled to finally give her a real bath. Daddy got in the tub with her it was just the sweetest thing.

At one month we also did a little living room photo shoot. This shot perfectly captures Cora's sweetness.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"She's a pistol!"

Rob and I hoped more than anything to have a natural childbirth. We spent a lot of time preparing for the process, but sometimes life just doesn’t always go as planned. At the end of pregnancy, I was just waiting to hear the words, “you have to go on bed rest”. I was swollen beyond all belief, my blood pressure kept inching up, and generally speaking, I just wasn’t feeling great. But each week passed and I got the green light to carry on as usual.

At my 39 week appointment, my doctor was very concerned about the swelling in my face (as if the epic proportions of swelling everywhere else weren’t enough). She sent us to have some lab work done and the results showed very low blood platelets which indicates potential problems for the mother. She wanted to induce me before my situation deteriorated. I did NOT want to be induced for fear of a c-section or other complications, but I also didn’t want to end up sick and most importantly, wanted to deliver a healthy baby.

The doctor left the decision up to us, but there were a lot of grey areas and what-ifs to consider. Ultimately we conceded, and that afternoon we packed our bags to check into the hospital at midnight. The upside to this is that we called our families, and they were able to make preparations to be present for the birth. I was definitely ready to have the baby and was very excited that I would get to meet him/her soon. I sat down in the rocker to prop up my legs...errrr....tree trunks up and realized that we were making a good decision to induce. I was tired, I was swollen, and frankly, I was CRANKY!
That evening, my parents arrived; I was a little scared about being induced and they helped calm me down. Rob and I finished getting everything together, and left for the hospital right at midnight. The drive was much different than I anticipated our drive to the hospital would be. There was no rushing around, no deep breathing through contractions, and no sense of panic; it was peaceful. We drove to the hospital quite slowly with the streets all to ourselves, and pondered the enormity of what was about to happen. We would become parents.

When we arrived we settled into our room and I got hooked up to all the stuff someone hoping for a natural childbirth is supposed to avoid. The nurse administered a drug to make sure my cervix was ripe enough for delivery. That kicked in some gentle contractions that were about five minutes apart. After four hours, she administered the second dose, and that’s where things started to go downhill. My uterus contracted and stayed contracted for the next few hours. The nurse told me this was called irritability and I thought to myself, it certainly is making me irritable!

That morning, the doctor came in and told me she wanted to break my water. I really wanted my water to remain intact for as long as possible, so she gave me a very low dose of pitocin instead which brought my contractions much closer together, about a minute apart. I wouldn’t say they were a piece of cake, but with water still intact, they were definitely manageable.

I asked the nurse to hook me up to a wireless monitor that would allow me to walk around. That’s what people in labor do, right? Walk around, squat down, bounce on ball, etc. After about a minute of standing, the baby’s heart rate dropped and I was immediately put back in bed. Eventually, her heart rate stabilized, and we all calmed down, but I was told that I would have to remain in bed for a while.

My contractions were getting closer together and gaining in intensity, but I wasn’t dilating. The doctor said my contractions actually needed to be farther apart to allow the baby to come down into the birth canal, so she took me off the pitocin drip, and broke my water. It is amazing how much easier contractions are with a pressurized bag inside your uterus. When that was gone, things definitely got a bit more painful. My contractions stayed very close together with no actual progression, and along the way, the baby (I keep referring to her as the baby at this point because we didn’t know it was a girl) kept going into distress.

I was DESPARATE to go to the bathroom to relieve some of the pressure in my abdomen, but they insisted that I not get up in an effort to try and keep the baby’s heart rate stable (my hard and heavy contractions were a little too stressful). Queue Rob, bedpan, and complete loss of dignity. In the span of about 30 minutes, I think I used the bedpan about FIFTY times, and each time was usually in the middle of a contraction because they weren’t far enough apart to get the job done in between. Rob was a trooper though, and without him, I think my bladder would have exploded (seems to be a common theme throughout pregnancy).

Due to the intensity of my contractions, they decided to put a pressure monitor inside of me to see exactly how hard they were. Because the baby’s heart rate kept dropping, they also wanted to screw a monitor into her head, but I protested and promised to lie completely still. At this point, I was still only dilated to a two, and the baby wasn’t dropping into position. Also, the daggers stabbing my lower back indicated the baby was facing away from my spine.

After about another couple of hours of close and hard contractions, still nothing was happening. The doctor brought in a birthing ball and wanted me to sit on it for a while to see if that would help the baby come down. Hmmm, this was going to be interesting considering all the stuff I was hooked up to, but eventually we got situated. Think Blue Whale balancing on a beach ball. The back labor was crazy intense, but Rob was keeping me as relaxed as he could. More time passed….nothing. More time passed….nothing except more baby distress.

At that point, they heaved me back into bed, and I was starting to get frustrated. Nothing, NOTHING was going as planned. I had a long way (8 centimeters to be exact) to go, and the baby was having trouble. The doctor came in and said at this point it looks like you are going to have a c-section. On top of everything else my blood pressure was still on the rise as was my swelling. Also, my blood platelets were so low that it was iffy if I could have an epidural, and I did not want to be completely out if I had to have a c-section.

The doctor agreed to give me an epidural and let me labor for a little longer to see if I might progress. I lay in bed while Rob and the nurses flipped me back and forth to see if that would help the baby come down. Time passed….nothing. More time…..nothing. It was time to make a decision. The doctor didn’t think it was likely that I would be able to deliver vaginally. So, it was off to the OR.

In no time flat, they upped my epidural, scrubbed and prepped, and slid me onto the operating table. Rob was up by my head providing reassurance and sharing in the excitement that we would soon meet our baby! I felt some jiggling and some pressure, but no pain. When the doctor cut open my uterus, the baby was face up and looking right at her. When she pulled the baby out Rob peeked over the curtain to see that we had delivered a beautiful, healthy baby GIRL! Cora Mae was welcomed to the world at 4:29 p.m. on 7/8/09 measuring 19.5 inches and 8 lbs 5 ounces.

After a few quiet moments, she let out some pretty magnificent wails. One of the nurses said, "She's a pistol!". Which is ironic, because even though she came into this world showing off her well developed lungs, she has been the most laid back easy going baby ever (Mama is the pistol).

These were our first moments together as a family and I will never forget the warmth radiating from her little body onto my face. Incredible!

While they put me back together, Rob and the nurses were tending to Cora. She scored a 9 on the APGAR, and had ten little fingers and ten little toes (although there was some doubt about the toes initially). After they stamped her foot, from across the room I heard something about “four toes” and I was all what (see below)? And then they were like, just kidding. One was just hiding.

They wheeled me back to a recovery room while Cora got her first bath and was checked over by the pediatrician. Then, they brought her to me, and THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE FINALLY GETTING TO HOLD HER. I will never forget how warm, soft and delicate she felt, and I was so happy to have my family surrounding us with their love. That tiny, pink face peering out from blankets and a sweet knit hat was enough to completely melt me.

It wasn’t until late that night, or I guess early the next morning (all of that starts to run together really quickly) that everything truly hit me. It was around 2 a.m., the room was quiet, dimly lit, and I was feeding Cora. Rob was sleeping softly at our side. I was a Mom, Rob was a Dad, and we had a precious baby girl. We were a family. She was so beautiful with her little wrinkly fingers and toes and she was ours.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Long Overdue

So, I’ve been meaning to start this blog for a very long time. How long you ask? Oh, since about October 31, 2008! So what’s special about that date besides the fact that it was Halloween of 2008? It’s the date the digital pregnancy test gave us a solid confirmation that an extra set of feet would soon be pitter-pattering around the house.

I deeply regret not keeping track of all the details of our pregnancy, birth, and oh, the FIRST SIX MONTHS of our daughter’s life in some written form, so in an effort of preservation, I will attempt to consolidate the details of the last 15 plus months into a few posts. Ready? Here we go! Let’s talk pregnancy.

October 15ish – 30th…Pregnant and didn’t know, although I had a gut feeling, or was that just nausea?

The above pictures are of a youth group hayride and a fall break camping trip to the Wichita’s. On our camping trip, I just kept thinking, “Why am I so tired? I thought I was in better shape than this?” I guess it takes a LOT of energy to preheat the oven to bake a new little bun.

October 31…firm confirmation after the previous day’s faint positive line….almost invisible, really. Nothing like rolling out of bed at 5 a.m. for this!

What’s this look? I’d say a combination of excitement, anxiety, and that feeling you get before a roller coaster takes its first drop.

Every pregnancy comes with some obligatory belly shots, right? Of course we had great intentions of taking a picture every week, but I think we were lucky if we took one once a month. Here was the first. Rob has a theory that the bigger the belly gets, the smaller the smile gets....hmm….I think he’s on to something there.

Fortunately, I was pregnant right alongside one of my best friends, Michelle, and several other women on my street. A lot of folks around our neighborhood were pretty suspicious about what was in the water. Michelle was about two and a half weeks ahead of me, and there were three other neighbors due all within a few weeks for a grand total of five new babies.

Thanksgiving of 2008 brought a trip to the beach to see my parents and grandparents. We figured it would be a wonderful time to share the news since we would all be together; it was so hard to wait to tell my parents! As soon as we pulled up to the beach house, Rob ran around to the ocean side and wrote the due date, 7/10/09, huge in the sand, then we had our family go out on the deck to see the surprise. That trip was wonderfully relaxing…many walks and runs on the beach, a few chilly dips in the ocean, bike riding adventures, much ladder ball, GREAT food…not so great food the second time around if you know what I mean, and falling asleep at 8 p.m. in the recliner every evening. Warning to the pregnant, however, long, leisurely walks on the beach should only be attempted when you know you can get to a bathroom quickly.

Conveniently, my pregnancy nausea lasted from about Thanksgiving until just after Christmas, which is great, because there is never any good food around that time of year. Right? So why not celebrate pregnancy nausea with a feast like this? Michelle was especially struggling (poor gal was sick from conception to post-partum!).

I finally got to meet with the doctor in December. How anticlimactic is it when you call your doctor excited with positive pregnancy test in hand, they tamp down your spirits by telling you they don’t want to see you until you are 8 to 10 weeks. WHAT? It’s even more anticlimactic when you finally get to the office and your appointment is so short that you barely even have time to blink.

We had our first ultrasound in late December, and I will admit, even though the heartbeat looked like a mere blip on a radar screen, it was an incredible view of the precious cargo on board. Aside from the fact that I REALLY thought my bladder was going to explode all over the exam room, Rob and I treasured getting to see our tiny bean.

In February we had another ultrasound when I was around 19 weeks. During this ultrasound we could have seen the baby’s gender, but we decided to wait it out until the end (even though there was an intense moment of indecision). The ultrasound did reveal that all systems seemed to be developing just fine, which definitely put some of those “what if” anxieties at ease.

By this time I felt like I was really starting to show. Here is a picture of Rob and I dressed up for the OU’s Pink and Black Ball benefitting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Rob and I have ALWAYS loved the opportunity to go somewhere and dance, but that night we were feeling a little too old and out of place to enjoy ourselves among the mostly college crowd. I felt like my belly was this huge beacon out on the dance floor, but most people still couldn’t tell I was pregnant. We ended the night early feeling lame and tired, and I’m sure we went home and did our usual pass out on the couch, then move to the bed at 3 a.m. routine.

March was a big month for us. We started a Bradley Method childbirth class, and luckily, our good friends Michelle and Rob were taking it too so we enjoyed carpooling with them and snickering at the more awkward moments, like everyone getting down on the floor so husbands could practice keeping their wives relaxed during a contraction. Ah, many classic moments to recount from our classes, as well as mind blowing videos of an intensely graphic nature.

One classic moment was when were supposed to be practicing a car ride to the hospital during the middle of a contraction and Rob looks over at me and asks “What genre of music would you like right now?”. I don’t know, perhaps something that can block the nerves in my spine from the waist down?

We also took our Youth Group to Utah for a hiking and camping trip in March. At this time I was 25 weeks pregnant, but was REALLY excited for some time away out in abundant fresh air. The drive in the 15 passenger van with another suburban following was long, but the end result was worth it!

A week in southeast Utah while pregnant was an incredibly primal experience. Yes…it sounds hippy dippy, but it was so cool to just be able to think about the baby, and being connected to the earth, and providing for our basic needs. Plus, the extra hormones and body fat kept me warmer than I’ve ever been at night in a tent. Rob was freezing next to me in 30 degree temps and I was roasty toasty.

The kids in our youth group swore that my belly grew each day on the trip (which is probably accurate considering I gained 8 pounds during March!). Also, Cora was getting more and more active and I loved lying in the tent just feeling her move. One particularly memorable moment was hiking up to Delicate Arch for the sunset and then hiking out in the dark. I hope to take Cora on this hike someday.

After returning home from this refreshing trip, work seemed to kick into HIGH GEAR! I was working a lot after hours and on the weekends, and it was really starting to take a toll on me. At this point I noticed that my feet were starting to swell slightly, which was just a precursor to the epic edema to come. Here is a belly pic from March.

Rob and I celebrated our birthdays in April. I turned 27 and Rob hit the big 3-0! We had low key celebrations with friends, family, and homemade cakes. Rob and my dad churned out a pretty fabulous red velvet cake for my birthday.

Right after my birthday, I decided that I was going to make all of the bedding for the nursery. Rob and I had been on the hunt for a gender neutral set up for sometime and could not find anything we liked. I dusted off my mother-in-law's 1970's Singer and went to town. After picking up some patterns and fun fabrics, it all started to come together. Here a few pictures of the unfinished nursery below. I think I will do a post solely dedicated to the complete nursery later.

By May, I was really getting ready to meet the baby and the due date just seemed so far away. We tried to stay busy to make the time pass quickly. When we first married, we put ourselves on the five year plan to have a baby, and I guess that worked out pretty well. Our date that evening was a delicious dinner on a pleasant patio. A kind table of ladies next to us had their bread sent to me because they said it looked like I needed it more them then. Gee....sure made my evening! How THOUGHTFUL of them!!

On Memorial Day weekend we braved the lake with some friends to beat the heat, plus I thought spending some time floating in the water might help me feel a little “lighter”, which is pretty impossible when you’re 35 weeks pregnant. That weekend, I did something I SWORE I would never do -- wear a bikini while pregnant. Luckily, I didn’t have to go it alone. Michelle decided to bare her baby bump too. I would spare you the pick, but the story just wouldn’t be the same without seeing the pregnant lady on the inner tube. At the time of writing, I did not have Michelle’s permission to post her pregnant belly bikini pic, but perhaps I can update later. Because the only thing better than one big ole pregnant lady on an inner tube at the lake is two!

June rolled around and with it came more heat, more swelling, and more misery as well as excitement. I was pretty much relegated to only one pair of shoes at that point due to swelling. Once I was full term, I started to have these “any day now” thoughts, and kicked in to nesting mode. Rob and I would get the house in tip top shape every weekend in case it happened that week, but we just kept waiting.

The end of pregnancy brings on an interesting phenomenon with strangers; they all want to talk to you and tell you about their births or pregnancies, or whatever. Each day when I would walk to my office I would get comments like, “Any day now, huh?”. And, “Oh, I bet you’re miserable right now!”, and “Man, my labor and delivery was TERRIBLE!” Thanks for the support folks. One checker at target told me about how he was born at the beach in California. I guess huge bellies open the door for all kinds of unsolicited conversation. It certainly was nice, though, to have people running to get the door for me and helping me carry things.

Michelle’s baby, Liam, arrived in June. When she called me to tell me she was in labor, I got so excited that I thought I might go in labor. It was so special being pregnant alongside her and experiencing everything together (both good and bad). I hope I am lucky enough to be pregnant with a friend for future children. After Michelle delivered, there were four more pregnant ladies walking waddling around our block looking like ticking time bombs, and I was set to explode next. Below you will see four out of five of "the club", and Rob practicing his rocking skills with precious Liam.

The last few weeks were pretty tough; I’m not going to lie. I tried to keep a positive attitude, but the more swollen I got, and the higher my blood pressure went, I started to get a little down. Rob was my rock during this time and kept me going each day. It was a wonderful 39 ½ weeks, but I was ready for it to end!

Stay tuned for the next episode, THE BIRTH...