Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Drumroll, Please!!!!!

We had our doctor's appointment and ultrasound today. The little man is beautiful and looking great, and according to the ultrasound, he's currently weighing in at..............................

8 lbs., 9 oz.!

Er, that's pretty big. Just as a point of reference, average babies at 37 1/2 weeks gestation will be about 6 1/2 pounds. Many babies are BORN weighing less than 8 1/2 pounds. But my (big!) little man is weighing in at this with still almost 3 weeks to go before his due date.

*As another qualifying reference, though, the doctor told us that there is a 10% margin of error with the estimated weight on an ultrasound. So, really Eli currently weighs anywhere between 7 lbs, 11 oz and 9 lbs, 7 oz. Yeah, that's helpful.

Here are a couple pictures from today.This one is basically his whole body in profile - head on the right, back going along the bottom of the picture, and leg/knee on the left. The ultrasound tech showed us a close-up of his little belly because you can see his little fat rolls on his belly from being squished up in there! Soooooooo cute!!!
And this is just a closer profile of his head and chest. He had his hand in his mouth for most of the ultrasound, so in case it looks a little wonky, he may be sucking on some fingers!

The good news, besides the fact that he is healthy and beautiful, is that the doctor is not YET concerned about how much he weighs. She wants me to come back in 10 days for another ultrasound to see how much he has grown. She said they're not going to get really concerned until he starts pushing 10 pounds. (As you know, I'm not even going to be concerned then, but that's when they're going to start really pushing me to at least induce, if not just schedule a c-section.) This is something he may do if he actually reaches his due date. So, the doctor agreed with us in just hoping he comes early and we don't have to worry about it! So we'd appreciate any prayers anybody would like to offer up that he decides to make his appearance early.

And if anybody has any old wives' tales about how to make a baby come, I'd love to hear them... We're definitely going out for eggplant parmesan this week, which supposedly sends many women into labor. Any other ideas? :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jesus is Enough

We visited a new church yesterday, Basswood Church in Knoxville. It was small, but I loved it. However, the purpose of this post is not to talk about the church, it's to talk about the sermon. I tell you what, this was the perfect sermon for me and my situation, and so I want to share a little bit of it with you.

The basic theme of the sermon was "Jesus is enough." Besides several Scriptures from the Gospel of John, another thing the pastor used to sum up the concept well was the first question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Growing up Southern Baptist, I'm not incredibly familiar with catechisms, but I believe they can be really valuable in understanding and expressing doctrine. This particular question and answer just blows me away. Really the most significant part of it to me at the moment is the fourth word of the question: ONLY. What is your ONLY comfort in life and in death? And the short answer to that question is Jesus.

As many of you know, we have suffered a series of heartbreaking and unexplainable disappointments in Justin's search for a job and a place for us to get settled. We never imagined we would be home from Moldova for more than 4 months and still not know where we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing. We still cling to faith that God knows what He has for us, and it will be revealed in His time, but that is HARD and some days are worse than others for us. We had one especially shattering disappointment last week that sent us both reeling - there is absolutely no reason on earth why this place wouldn't have hired Justin. But they didn't, and it's easy to get discouraged and even start to despair.

But God used the sermon this week to really call my attention to the fact that when I allow news about a job to shake me so much, that shows me that I am not allowing my only hope and comfort in life to be in Christ alone. This is something that I confess and want to do better about. But the truth is that the story doesn't end there - I failed, repent, and will try to do better - but that's not what I'm trying to say with this post. The real message that I'm trying to get across here is not my own short-sightedness, but Christ's all-surpassing sufficiency.

The reality is that JESUS IS ENOUGH. A job for Justin, a home of our own, even a healthy baby - all of these are good things but they are not worthy of my hope. They cannot provide me comfort in life and in death. That amazing list in the catechism answer of all that Christ has done and continues to do for me, THAT is what is worthy of my hope and what is my ONLY valid comfort in life. When I allow Christ to be my only comfort and joy, the other things just aren't as important, and He opens my eyes to see how BLESSED we are even without them. Although our circumstances aren't what we would choose, we lack for nothing because God has richly provided all our needs for us, and I believe that there are parts about this time in our life that we will miss once we move on to the next thing.

I do believe that the things we long for will come to us - God promises in His Word that He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for our prosperity, welfare, and hope (Jer. 29:11). But in the meantime I am content to wait for His perfect will to be revealed for us, because I already have everything I need both in this life and for all eternity: Christ Himself.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

37 Weeks!

Not only is reaching 37 weeks today exciting because it means we only have 3 weeks left until the due date. It's also exciting because it means that Elias is officially FULL TERM, and all we have left to do is wait for him to come! I plan to start taking pictures every week now, since we don't know if I'll make it to May 11 in order to take my "9 Months" photo. So here's what Eli and I look like now:You'll also notice that I've already gotten my "mommy haircut." Most women don't get their mommy cut until after the baby is born, but when I went to get my final trim before the baby comes, she cut it shorter than I had imagined. So, oh well. Now I'm already ahead of the ballgame! :) So come on anytime, sweet Eli!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Appointment Today

I had another doctor's appointment today, and I'm still healthy as can be! So that's good news! They're actually surprised at how well I'm doing with my weight and my blood pressure, so praise God for both of those things!

I met another one of the obstetricians who may be delivering Elias, and he was a lot more easygoing about my birth plan, so that was encouraging. What was not encouraging, though, was that he was also talking about how concerned he was about Eli's size and wanting me to consider an elective c-section. I'm not going to post any more on how I feel about this - I think all of my readers know where I stand. :) However, Justin has posted an excellent post on his blog with data and statistics about big babies and c-sections, so check that out. Based on his concern, however, the doctor requested that we get an ultrasound next week to try to estimate how big Eli is now. Although I don't believe the ultrasound could be accurate enough to convince me that I should schedule a c-section, I am looking forward to getting to see Eli's sweet face again! I ask you to pray, though, that the ultrasound doesn't show that he's ridiculously huge, that we'll be able to reason with the doctors about why we don't want to elect a c-section (especially this early in the game), and that we continue to trust God for my health and Eli's. Next week we'll be meeting with the third and final obstetrician who may be delivering Eli, so maybe she'll be very cooperative and understanding about what we want to do and why.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Just to Clarify...

I don't think I did a good job of expressing the intention of my previous post, "Choosing to Trust," and so I wanted to write a little bit more about it. What I was trying to do is share with my friends and family the way I feel like God is telling me I can best glorify Him at this stage in my pregnancy, and ask for their support and prayers. What I was NOT trying to do is express any kind of judgment on what anybody else should do in their own lives. I was in no way trying to say that anybody who chooses to induce, have a c-section, or use other interventions is in any way unspiritual, and I don't know if I made that clear before. I have neither the right nor the desire to judge anybody else for deciding to do what they feel is best for their child and family. We have some good friends who are godly and faithful people, and they recently chose a c-section for the birth of their baby. I support them 100% in their choice, and their child is now beautiful and healthy.

I think that there are very few, if any, absolutes in today's world of birthing and parenting. There is no one right way to do anything, but it is up to each believer to seek the Lord about how to best glorify Him with each decision. I have some pretty strong convictions about the way I want to birth and parent my own child, but God may change my circumstances and reveal other truth to me as time progresses. I need to be humble enough to confess that God knows everything, but I don't.

As Paul expressed in Romans 14, what may be right for me may be wrong for someone else and vice versa. He says clearly, though, that it would definitely be wrong for me to judge another believer for having different convictions than mine, as long as neither of ours goes expressly against Scripture.
"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." - verse 4
Instead, we are to love, support, and encourage one another in our pursuit of God.
"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." - verse 19
So I just wanted to make it clear that the opinions expressed on this blog are just my own personal convictions, and not meant as any kind of lecture or judgment on anybody else. As the Body of Christ in this unbelieving world, it is much more important to me that we pray for each other and encourage each other to seek to glorify God in all of our decisions, even when we don't necessarily agree about each particular decision.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wiggle Worm

So I've come to the conclusion that Elias must really like going to church! For the past 3 Sundays, at different churches in different cities, he has been REALLY ACTIVE all through church! Maybe he likes the music, or maybe he's just highly spiritually sensitive even in the womb. Either way, it's fun for me to worship with him as he dances and leaps for joy before the Lord. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Choosing to Trust

When I had my doctor's appointment last week, the doctor confirmed what we've already known - that Elias is running big for his gestation, and if he goes all the way to his due date or beyond, he could be REALLY big. So the doctor was pretty pushy about wanting me to be open to the idea of inducing or even considering an elective c-section if the baby gets too big. This goes completely against what I want to do - I've always believed that the baby would come when he is ready and I'm not going to make him come before that. But the doctor said some pretty scary things that could happen if the baby is too big and doesn't fit through my pelvic bone, and he got me kind of upset and worried about it. So after spending a few days pondering and praying about the situation, here's how I feel about it:

God is in control, and I trust Him completely.

God is the one who put this baby in my womb. He formed all his little parts and breathed life into him. God knew his name before I did, and He has numbered all the days of his life. God loves Elias even more than I do, and He wants what is best for him.

Not only this, but God made me. He created my body to be the exact size that it is, and He placed in my body the ability to carry a pregnancy and give birth to a child. He loves me completely and wants what is best for me.

As amazing as the science of obstetrics is in our world today, we still just don't have the technology to be able to accurately predict exactly when a baby's "due date" is, how big he is in the womb at each stage of development, how big he will be when he is born, or whether or not he will fit through his mother's body in the birthing process. We have enough technology to make guesses, but they're very rarely completely accurate.

However, there is Someone who knows exactly what Elias' birth day will be, how big he is now, how big he will be when he is born, and whether or not he will fit. In fact, this Someone not only knows all these things, but He is the one who decided them in the first place. Since I believe that God is a good and loving God who created both me and Elias and wants what is best for us, I believe He will make our process of birthing to be the best it can possibly be for us. If He does allow some kind of complication to occur, I trust Him with that. I will still do all I can to take care of myself and Elias in order to control what I can about the process, but I know that the outcome is completely in God's hands, and I wouldn't want them anywhere else. So as we wait to learn what Elias' birth day will be and how big he will be, I choose not to worry about any complications. God is good and will give us the grace to have exactly the birthing that He wants us to have.

I'd appreciate your prayers that I can continue to trust God and resist the temptation to worry! (And if you want to offer up any prayers that Eli comes early or doesn't grow too big, you're welcome to do that too!) :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Group B Strep

I had a doctor's appointment today, and they told me that I've tested positive for Group B Strep. I mentioned in last week's post that I had had the test done, but I had never really done any research about it because I just assumed I wouldn't have it. So, after learning today that I DO, I decided I needed to know more about it. First of all, it's fairly common (about 25% of all pregnant women test positive), and NOT a big deal. All it means is that I carry this specific bacteria, and so I'll need to be treated with antibiotics during labor in order to prevent passing it on to Eli. This bacteria is not very dangerous for me - it could result in bladder/womb infections, but the antibiotic treatment should prevent that. However, it could be very dangerous for the baby, so that's why it's so important to be tested and treated. With the antibiotics during labor, there's only a 1 in 4,000 chance that Eli will still be infected. That seems pretty low to me - even without treatment it's only 1 or 2 in 200. So when I go into labor or when my water breaks, I'll need to go to the hospital and they'll put me on IV antibiotics. It's best if I can have the antibiotics for at least 4 hours before the baby is born just to allow for complete saturation. Then, they'll want to keep us in the hospital at least 48 hours after he's born just to observe him closely and make sure he didn't get it. But that's all! No big deal and nothing to worry about. Really the only thing I'm disappointed about is having to have the IV during labor - I HATE NEEDLES and really wanted to avoid this if at all possible. But now I know and I have time to get used to the fact that this is just how it has to be. Really, I'm very thankful to have caught it so I can be treated and help keep Eli as healthy as he can be!

You can read more about Group B Strep here if you're interested.

Besides that, everything else is looking fine. Weight gain, blood pressure, belly measurements, etc. are all right on track for the big baby we're expecting. His heartbeat was great. My appointment today was actually with one of the OB's who could be on call to deliver Eli. He was very nice although not incredibly supportive of my natural childbirth desires. But from what I understand about the childbirth process in a hospital, the OB is only actually there to catch the baby at the very end and he doesn't have much if anything to do with the laboring process. Sooooo, I hate to dismiss the things a trained medical professional says, but I already know that the nursing staff in the hospital will be much more supportive of my desires, and they're the ones who will actually be there at the time. And we can just pray that the other OB's will be more supportive and that this particular one won't be on call the day Eli is born!! :)

Monday, April 14, 2008


So now that we're getting close to D-Day and I'm getting huge, I've started getting people asking me, "So, are you ready?" Some even put it more as a statement like "Wow, I bet you sure are ready for him to be born!" I guess the norm is that a woman as pregnant as I am is uncomfortable enough to want the baby to come on outta there. However, that is just not the case for me. I am completely loving being pregnant, and I'm almost reluctant for it to end. I'll miss feeling him kick and feeling him get the hiccups. I'll miss being able to just sit and watch my belly jump and twitch when the little man is active. I'll miss the way people always have an extra smile for me in public, and the way complete strangers seem to just want to be nicer to me.

I know, I know. Being a mother is going to be an immensely rewarding blessing, and I AM looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to seeing his face and looking into his eyes. I'm looking forward to cuddling and breastfeeding and rocking and singing. I'm looking forward to being trusted and needed the way only a mother can be. I think what I'm most looking forward to is seeing Justin as a daddy. I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about that.

But at the same time, I'm pretty scared about it all. It's going to be a BIG change and a BIG responsibility. How could a person ever actually think they're "ready" to become a parent for the first time?! I guess I just feel like I LIKE being pregnant, and I know how to handle the unpleasant things about it. And now just when I'm liking it and getting used to it all, it has to end and I have to learn another whole set of skills! I guess I'm not really worried that it will be too hard or that I won't be able to do it - it's just the change, the unknown that has me scared. I have no idea what it's going to be like. But I do believe that God has already put in me the mothering instinct that will tell me how to care for my baby, and I believe that He will enable both Justin and I to have the grace and strength and patience to endure the adjustment period. I also know that I have lots of good resources in my family and friends to help whenever we need it!

So although I KNOW everything is going to be fine, I'm still a long way from being able to say I'm "ready" for the change. No matter whether I'm ready or not, he's going to come when he comes and that'll be it! Not really any choice on whether or not I can just stay pregnant indefinitely... And who knows? Maybe in another couple of weeks, I WILL be more uncomfortable and "ready" for him to come out no matter what!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

8 Months!!

Besides the fact that I cannot believe it's already time for my 8-month bump photo, I also cannot believe how gigantic my bump is! I'm huge! And still another month to go! :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Consignment Sale

This evening in Knoxville, we were able to go to a HUGE consignment sale that was just stuff for kids/babies. The sale doesn't actually start until tomorrow, but first-time moms were able to register to come in early and get the good stuff. So Justin and I spent 2 hours there tonight looking through all of the stuff, and we found some majorly good deals! We got:

- an umbrella stroller
- an infant sleep positioner
- a baby monitor
- a microwave steam sterilizer
- a terrycloth changing pad cover
- 4 hooded bath towels
- 2 sleep gowns
- a pair of baby jeans
- 3 newborn-sized onesies with a matching pair of pants
- a striped romper

I looked on walmart.com to see how much it would've cost us to buy all this new: $115.44, plus tax.

How much did we pay for it all? $28. Thank you, consignment!!! :)

Edited to add: This sale was absolutely gigantic. We arrived there 10 minutes before the doors opened, and there were already at least 100 people in line ahead of us to get in. By the time the doors opened, there were at least 100 more behind us. Then after we had been shopping for about an hour, we noticed that the checkout line was getting long - in fact, wrapping all the way around the store back to the entrance! So Justin got in line and waited with the stuff while I kept shopping and just bringing him things. He ended up waiting in line for a whole hour before we made it to the front. But I found some good bargains while he was waiting in line, and I'm VERY thankful he was there. If I had been doing that myself, I would've been a disaster trying to tote everything around and shop and THEN wait in line for hours. It was really hot in there (NOT a good idea with all the pregnant women!), so we were all sweating. Justin said that he saw several people just abandoning the stuff they had been planning on buying because they couldn't stand waiting in that line. Thank you for your help, sweetheart!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Appointment Today!

I just wanted to get on here and write a quick note about my doctor's appointment today. Everything's looking great and we're doing fine! They did the test for Group B Strep today, so I should get the results for that at my next appointment. (If it turns out positive, that means I'll need to have antibiotics during the delivery to avoid infecting the baby, but it's not a big deal either way.) I also had my first cervical exam today - OUCH! No dilation at all yet, but she said my cervix is definitely getting softer. She was also able to clearly tell that Eli is in the head-down position, so there was no need for an ultrasound. I'm a little disappointed just because I wanted to be able to see him again, but I'm glad he's so clearly in position! From now until Eli comes I'll be going in every week! For the next 3 weeks I'll see a different doctor each time so that I'll actually have met all of the people who may be delivering my baby. It could be any of the 3 of them, depending on who is on call that day. So it'll be nice to at least be able to have MET the doctor before he/she is down there catching Eli! :) So praise God for a good visit - things are going great!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Second Baby Shower!

On Saturday, we had our second baby shower at my parents' house in Cincinnati! I was very blessed that my grandmother and aunt drove in from Chicago, as well as several other family members who live in the Cincinnati area. And what was really nice was that my mom's whole small group from church came, so it ended up being a pretty big party!
This is me with my sister and mom, the hostesses of the shower. You can see in the background of this photo that there is a line of pictures taped to the mantel. These were the results of the first party game we played at the shower. Jessica, my sister, had taken several photos of me and Justin, and she asked each person to cut and paste different features from our faces to assemble what they thought Eli would look like. The results were hilarious and slightly scary. One of them looked just like a guy I did summer missions with once. Hopefully Eli will get all our best qualities and combine them all to look mostly human!
Another fun game we played was where everyone had to guess how many times a Big Roll of Charmin toilet paper would go around my big ol' belly. Then the guests took turns wrapping the roll around my belly until it was out. The above picture is my grandma TP-ing me... She's the one who ended up winning this game. She guessed it right on the nose: 15 times!
We also ate delicious snacks, cake, and punch, and then opened presents! I'm SO thankful for all of the wonderful stuff people gave us! Since most of our registry items could only be bought online, many people ended up just getting us baby clothes, which is GREAT because we didn't have much before! So now Eli is outfitted in style! You can click on the picture of all the gifts below to enlarge it and see them better.The other gifts of note are the things my mom embroidered for Eli. You can see a stack of burp cloths that she personalized for him on the right side of the table. She also embroidered a blanket for him that you can see the corner of hanging off in the front. The best thing, though, is the onesie she embroidered for him that's sitting right overtop of the "John" on the blanket. It says "Eli's comin', hide your (heart) girl!" Now that is CUTE!!!

Many, many thanks to all who have come to showers for us and given us gifts! We appreciate it so much! It's starting to feel like we may actually be ready for him to arrive soon! This is a good thing since we're quickly approaching just a MONTH till Due-day!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Baby Shower!

I am very blessed to have a caring and generous family who wants to throw me baby showers! The first shower was last Saturday in Madisonville, KY with Justin's family. Justin's mom and sister planned the event, his Aunt Linda hosted it and provided the food, and his cousin Donna made the cake. We had a great time together, and we were able to see some family that we hadn't seen in over 2 years! Eli is so blessed to be born into such a loving family.
This is the food table that Aunt Linda set up. It was quite a delicious spread, and the cake was sweet that said "Welcome Baby Eli." Linda even pulled out the glass dishes and linen napkins for this event! Very fun and fancy!
My mother- and sister-in-law did a great job decorating and planning games. You can see in the above picture that they bought some baby boy clothes and strung them up on a clothesline as decorations, then they gave them to Eli! They also bought the lamp that matches our nursery bedding, and that was part of the decor too. You can see it on the table next to me. And Nicole, my sister-in-law, does stamping, and she made the adorable candle holders you can see around the lamp for prizes for the games. It was so much fun and really cute!
And they gave us so much stuff! We received almost everything for the nursery decor, including the bedding set, sheets, blankets, mobile, and lamp. Another special gift you can see on the left side of the table underneath the gifts. It is a white baby afghan that was crocheted by Justin's Memaw (his mother's mother). Memaw passed away before I was a part of Justin's life, but she left behind several baby blankets for future babies in the family, so we're thankful to be able to have that little part of Memaw in Eli's life. And there are so many other wonderful and thoughtful gifts. Thank you to all of Justin's family who gave us so many great things!

Now we're in Ohio with my family, and they're going to throw me a shower this Saturday. My aunt and grandmother are even driving down from Chicago to come! So I'm looking forward to being able to see more family and have more baby shower fun!