Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Week 27!

27 Weeks!

Baby girl is on the move! No, I am not having contractions, but I can now see her moving just by looking at my stomach! You can see a little punch here and there, which makes Dan and I wonder what is going through her mind! That feeling of movement is just beyond what I ever imagined it to be - something so subtle, yet so full of life. I read she can now have the hiccups, which I supposedly will be able to feel, as she is now roughly 14 1/2 inches long and about 2 lbs.

And everyday, we fall in love with her more and more. Maybe it's the dreams. Maybe it's the reality that this we pray WILL be our reality (holding her). Maybe it's the years of waiting and praying that maybe one day, we would be able to experience this. Does it seem surreal? At times. Yet our dreams becoming more and more real as we are starting to set up the nursery.

I still feel amazing. I am not having any complications that I am aware of (outside of the label of "high-risk" pregnancy), but really, I am not having any issues. At 27 weeks, we are just continually thankful to God for my health and for the health of the baby. We shouldn't be surprised as it is purely God, but in our human minds, we are. We just had no idea how it would go, knowing the risks. We just continue to trust that God will lead us forward - forward to the day we meet her!

I am still sleeping well at night, just getting up only once or twice. I am starting to get a little warmer at night, but during the day, I am still pretty much cold all the time - things have not changed there! Things are starting to take a little more "grunting" to do, such as bending over, trying to pick up something off the floor, or even getting up out of a chair. Who would have thought? Getting off the floor I feel a little older, but when I think about the extra poundage, I am thankful I can still walk and live a normal life!

I still go on walks when I can and am still coaching basketball and loving it. Standing for long periods of time cause my knees to get a little sore, but I chalk that up to my basketball playing days. Cocoa butter is genius as it keeps my dry skin from being so itchy! Did I ever mention how much I love prenatal vitamins? Wow do those help the hair, the nails, and the skin!

And food? Still enjoying food, though I feel my appetite is getting a little less intense. I am not as hungry as I used to be and some foods just don't sound as a good as they used to. Ironically fruits and veggies sound really good and of course cereal! I am glad that potato chips aren't always high on the list, but sweets, well, those always taste good as long as they are in small amounts (otherwise I feel kind of sick afterwards).

Each day offers new experiences and new/stronger feelings of this baby girl. Some so strong that they almost make me double over, not in pain, but in "whoa, whatchya doing baby girl?" I just picture somersaults and a girl just having a party! Her most active times are definitely at 10:00pm, which is just in time for me to sit and feel her every move! How beautiful!

Can't wait for the next how many weeks!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Big Boy Legos

We have our first piece of furniture put together for the nursery!

Many have asked about what our nursery looks like so far and to be honest, we do not have it completely set up...yet...

Back in April, I decided to paint our spare room a light blue. Little did we know in May, that God would bless us with the ability to have our own children! I decided that since we do not own the house, that I will just keep it this light blue and work with that color. That is why we have chosen to do a navy and bright pink themed room, which allows for versatility, but also lets us keep the walls a light blue. We have registered at Target, so if you want to get an idea of what the room might look like color-wise, you can get a glimpse there!

 This past week we received our crib and decided to just get to it and set it up! We ordered it online from Wayfair, but you can also get it from Toys R Us and Walmart. It is a Dream On Me 4-in-1 convertible crib so that we do not have to buy a different bed later. That is when my simplifying self kicks in - buy once! 

We were looking forward to doing this TOGETHER as this is something we only dreamed of doing! We had a lot fun doing it, while Dan offered MANY laughs as always! I kept telling him that he is so good at building things and his comment was "playing with legos as a kid, paid off!" Hey, whatever it takes, right? And as he often says, "work smarter, not harder"!
 I tried my hand with a few pieces...really it was simple to put together as it took us maybe a half hour. Plus, we love it! It is an espresso color, so a darker wood. Can't wait to put our baby girl in there!
 Boy, by the looks of that belly, I realize it looks like she could be in there soon! She might take up the length of that whole bed the day she is born :)

 The masterpiece!
Where our baby girl is going to be spending countless hours, sleeping the night away!
We have also ordered a dresser so that is the next item to come in! We have our stroller as well, which once we get that set up, I will try to remember to take some pics of it.

We also have a few clothing items hanging in our closet, which just gets us all the more excited to dress her! Our spare room is now named "the nursery" - what joy that brings to be able to call it that!

Only a couple more months!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pregnancy From A Child's Point Of View

One of the joys this past Thanksgiving was being able to share this pregnancy journey with our nieces and nephews. I know they have been waiting and praying for a cousin, so for them to "see" their baby cousin, was something I couldn't wait for! I have to say, it was one of the most memorable moments of this pregnancy thus far. They helped me realize even more so, how intricate a pregnancy really is. How through a child's eye, a baby is just like any other human - their value, as equal as ours. An embryo just as important as a grandma. They asked questions that I would have never even thought of! Questions that sure made me chuckle, but questions and smiles that I will take with me forever. So please sit back and enjoy hearing about a pregnancy from a child's point of view:

Of course Auntie Kristin looks a little different - her basketball tummy only demands the comment "you have a baby in a there" as snickers and giggles, with ear to ear smiles cross their faces. Fire helmets shoved up shirts to mimic my tummy. The realization that their new baby cousin is in there, but the eagerness being shown as they tell me that they "wish she was here right NOW". But quite possibly the most reassuring statement about her growth? As he pats my stomach, my nephew says "you have a big fat tummy" and with a big smile again says "you have a tiny baby in there!" Really, that is amazing at the size of the stomach versus the child, but even more so, that there IS a baby - a HUMAN in there! Best comment I have received thus far! As a child, can you imagine what their minds must be thinking?

Then in continuing conversations with my nieces, we sat for a good while, talking about their new baby cousin. Of course they "want to know the name" - but a secret it is! So being as smart as they are, they start trying to guess what letter it starts with - do you ever remember doing that? Pretty slick thinking, I think! As they huddled around and sat on my lap, I told them that she is a mover, so what do they do to try and get her to move? Put their faces right up against my stomach say "wake up baby!" And when she doesn't, a confused look. Now as a child, if someone put their face up by yours, wouldn't you wake up? Brilliant idea, right? 

Now when you are young, some of the most important things to remember are "snacks and taking baths". They wondered how she ate because I told them that what I eat, the baby eats. That made sense, but then the innocent thought of "swallowing soap to wash the baby when it gets dirty in there" is almost one of those "duh" moments as a child - why wouldn't I do that? I explained to them that when she's inside of me, that she doesn't need a bath, but will need one when she comes out. But then "why would she need one when she comes out versus when she is inside of me?" The best answer I could come up with was they wanted her nice and clean for when we could hold her, so that she had a fresh start. 

But if she needed a bath, "would her clothes be dirty when she came out?" I explained that it was so warm inside my tummy that she didn't need clothes, but would get some when she came out so that she wasn't cold. Just like dolls, why wouldn't you dress them? "Why would they come out with no clothes on?" A legit question, wouldn't you say?

And then the question came up - "how does the baby come out? Like where on your body does it come out?" Stumped. As I looked over at my sister, she gently explained that God creates a special place for the baby to come out, but only out of girls. I am glad she was there as I sat dumbfounded, wondering how I was going to get myself out of that one!

And finally, they realized that they wouldn't be able to see their baby cousin for a little while because "she would have to go to the hospital" meaning that I have to spend a few days in the hospital, but in their minds, it's the baby. Is that not adorable?

Out of the mouth of babes - innocent questions from children that make a pregnancy even MORE miraculous. Questions that a child, out of faith, asks, knowing that they are fed, bathed, and clothed when they need to be, so how does a baby inside a tummy get the same treatment? These questions I hold so near and dear to my heart, as they were conversations I will always remember. Pregnancy. Really, what a miracle it is, as these questions only solidify the beauty of how God and grows a little one inside.

Oh how I can't wait for them all to meet their baby cousin! What a day it'll be!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Much To Be Thankful For!

What a year to be thankful.

Thinking about Thanksgivings of the past, I remember intentionally trying to be thankful for the journey - to find joy. To bring and GIVE all of our circumstances back to God. Reflecting back on those seasons of life, I can't help but BE thankful for them. God taught us what it meant to be thankful in ALL circumstances, even when those words were uttered through tears. Giving ourselves to God in surrender through admitting that we had nothing left, but to entrust our lives to Him, who knew exactly why He allowed what He did. 

And this year's Thanksgiving, our words uttered through tears of joy. This season of life so drastically different from our past, but filled with so much hope - that same hope that we had amidst our struggles. We have learned that our hope hasn't changed - our circumstances have, but our hope is still rooted in the Same - the One and Only Sovereign God. 

That is why this Thanksgiving is so different, yet the same. We pray unceasingly that this little girl will one day be put into our arms alive and well. We have so much to be thankful for as we see this little life, so FULL of life! So full of innocence and so full of movement. Every time she moves, my distracted mind thinks about her, that special moment - that moment we prayed for for so long. I wish I could say I can multi-task, but with this girl, I have a one track mind. When she moves, I move too - my hand gently finds her little foot, hand, head, whatever it may be, and I just soak in all that she is doing inside of me. My mind often wondering what she is thinking and doing in there as she can get pretty wild, but those wild tendencies just remind of God's grace in our lives. 

Baby: This week she is around 13 1/2 inches long and 1 lb. 8 oz. We know that she is probably bigger than this as she was 1 lb. 2 oz. 4 weeks ago, but this is what the "average" is. I can feel her more and more, with those movements more defined and centralized. I was just telling Dan that back in October, I remember wondering if she was moving, where now, there is no question! I can now see her move on the outside, which is so much fun, and instead of her shying away from other people "touching" her, she now is active for them as well. What I would call her "awake" times are after I eat, after I exercise, and right before I go to bed. I think all of these reflect the fact that she enjoys me moving. After I am done exercising, I am sure she wonders where the consistent movement of me went, as I "rock" her to sleep, and of course food, well, if she is anything like her mother, she will love food.

My Body: I am realizing more and more, that this baby girl has potential to take after her parents in size and height. I have been told by many that I am carrying a basketball, which isn't "the look" typically until a little later. But I am proud to be carrying a "basketball" as Dan often says she will be our basketball player (if she wants to). I would say I am carrying most of the weight in my stomach as my "normal" pants still fit, but obviously buttoning them is a different story! I am thankful that I do not have any back problems thus far and am still sleeping pretty well at night. Some nights I am a little sore, but nothing that I good night's rest can't take care of! I am realizing that taking time to take a 15 minute nap does wonders as constant activity can cause the yawns and sleepy eyes, but being able to do and participate in the activities I normally would, I am so thankful!

Food: I still haven't craved many foods, but definitely enjoy anything with cheese. Sweets always taste good (pregnant or not pregnant), but I still do not have CRAVINGS. And I am okay with that!

Exercise: Still try to exercise when I can...walking/running on the elliptical and going on walks are my fav. I also coach JV basketball right now, so moving around and staying active in that sense, is great! I always have to preface that I COACH and do not PLAY basketball - though I am sure our baby girl would just love getting boxed out :). It's been so much fun to share this whole pregnancy with the basketball girls! 

Emotions: Yup, still can't wipe the smiles off our faces, as this is just becoming more real! Especially as we feel her move and are able to talk to her, knowing she hears us. I am starting to think about the labor and delivery, but I know it's in God's hands so anytime I have an inkling of worry, I just verbally say "God, she's yours!" That has done wonders and I know that staying active, eating well, and getting rest, is the best I can do. God will take care of the rest!

So, here's to week 25! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Beautiful Heart

We are falling in love more and more...

Our hearts, falling in love with her heart. And not just her physical heart.

As we watched her little heart today at the fetal ECHO just flicker away, all the little intricacies of her heart, so detailed, and functioning just so, we couldn't help but just smile and our love for her, increase all the more.

Sitting and watching in awe as the technician moved the probe from side to side, Dan gently says "how can someone say that is not a life?" Our baby girl moving from side to side, putting her hands up by her head, packing a full punch on the probe, kicking as if to say "get this thing off of me", a girl so full of life!

Our hearts, so full of love for her! Being able to watch her little body and heart move just so, and her little heart working just so, so that the rest of her body can grow, I can't come up with words. And her heart is functioning at a completely normal level! The doctor sees no congenital heart issues at this point, and a heart that is as healthy as can be! Her coronary arteries are too small to see if she has the issue I had, but her heart function says that everything is perfectly fine. What a blessing and we are just so thankful to God, as HE is the One who is behind the handiwork of her heart. To think that God is making her heart beat at 158 beats per minute, so that everything else functions the way it should, is just absolutely mind-boggling.

For 1 1/2 hours, we were able to watch our daughter just live life. For 1 1/2 hours we were able to share with the technician the journey God has taken us on. We literally could not believe all that we saw today - and yes, we were so thankful that we had this appointment! It was well worth the drive and well worth the time it took - the time flew by, as we just watched her and our hearts growing fonder and fonder!

We also were able to see that yes, she IS a girl :). I told the technician that I just wanted to be reassured again! Oh how I just can't WAIT to hold her, love on her, kiss her, and tell her how beautiful she is! I am sure she is getting used to our voices as we talk to her a LOT, but little does she know how ready these arms are for her! Though like I said before, of course, we'd love for her to stay in there for awhile yet.

My heart, at ease, knowing that thus far, I haven't passed on anything to her. Granted my heart doctors do not feel my heart condition was a genetic issue, but I just feel better knowing that our baby girl doesn't have the issues I did. We are so thankful too, for technology! As we were talking with our technician, she mentioned that because of tests like this, it has significantly lowered the number of blue babies having to be flown to children's hospitals because the issues are caught early on. That means they can get the care they need as soon as they are born because they were born in the right hospital. That is why we are so willing to do what the doctors feel is best for both myself and our baby. Whatever it takes to ensure health for the both of us, we are willing to accept! And of course, anytime we get a chance to see our baby girl, we are going to jump on it!

So, please praise God with us as we are just one step closer to having a healthy child. We see this journey as steps and we are just taking it one step at a time, hoping that the last step is us holding a healthy baby girl in our arms. We try to not take any moment for granted because we know each step is such a miracle!

A baby girl filled with so much life!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Journey That Has Taken Us So Far

As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun, right?

Well, that can also be said to be true when moving to another state! We have lived in Minnesota for 1 1/2 years already, though at times it feels like longer and at other times, it feels shorter. Sometimes I still don't know where certain things are in the great metropolis over here and do not know who people are, but then other times, I feel like yup, we've been here for 10 years!

When we think back to who we were when we first moved here, we can't help but think back to the journey that brought us here.

That journey had only just begun, when God brought us to Minnesota.

If God would have told us that He was going to move us to Minnesota 3 years ago, I would've said "to WHERE?" If God would've told us that He was going to heal my heart I would've said "Wait, WHAT?" If God would've told us that He was going to give us the gift of a child, I would've been like Sarah and laughed. I truly don't know how I would've responded. I would love to say that I would've just said "okay God, lets go for it!" But I don't think my faith would've truly believed it. Honestly.

And now Dan and I sit, only 4 months away from meeting our baby girl (we pray). We never even DREAMED of this happening - let alone for God to bring us out to Minnesota, for SO MANY reasons.

And one of the things that honestly has been hard, is that when we lost our first 2, we had our families physically there to love and support us, when we had lost so much already. Now to experience pregnancy in such a different way, being away from them, has added some emotions.  I have shed some tears over needing to make the phone call instead of telling our families face to face. I have cried over not being able to share some of this experience (like a growing belly) with them - something our families have prayed for, for YEARS and YEARS. I have shed tears over knowing that we are far enough away, that we have to just cling to God's will for our lives.

And that is what I believe in. That is what I have faith in. That God brought us to Minnesota for healing. For newness. For newness of life. For refreshment. For new relationships. For love. For ways that we do not even fully know yet. God's will is PERFECT and though it is not always easy, God does make it easy to follow Him when you know He has yet to be unfaithful and knowing He never will be unfaithful. He has shown us time and time again, that His ways are perfect, even when we don't fully understand them.

Coming home from youth group tonight and being able to share this whole experience with our youth group kids, has been such a pleasure and joy! The joking, the dreams, and the belly rubbing, bring more joy than words can express (yes, I am one of those people who ENJOYS people touching my stomach). God knew what He was doing! God knew it to be perfect, that He would heal my heart and have us become pregnant. God knew it to be perfect that even through the struggles of not being able to share this directly with our families in the physical sense, that it's our love for each other, that goes beyond any physical distance.

We are so humbled by the love we have felt. We are so humbled that God would choose Minnesota, as a place to grow us, stretch us, and heal us. We are so humbled that God would care enough to give us the true desires of our hearts.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

23 Weeks!

23 weeks and counting...

Still in awe. Still hasn't fully sunk in. And I have decided I do not want it to ever fully sink in - when it sinks in, that means I wish for time to just pass. I do not want a minute of this all to pass by without taking time to think and be thankful for the journey God has us on, to create a little Sterk family.

Each week marks one week closer than we have ever been. Each week marks a week stepped in faith, that this child, has been given as a gift, and we have the privilege of caring for her.

My body: Each move she makes, I try to quickly put my hand on my stomach, as these movements were something I only ever dreamed of feeling. Every move is a reminder of God's grace. Every move stops my mind and turns it towards what is happening inside. Every move, I just cherish! I still feel incredible, which I do not take for granted! And of course, as she continues to grow, so does my stomach, and it's a beautiful thing!

Exercise: I still try to exercise as often as I can! With winter officially here a month early, I have detoured my routine to inside on the elliptical. Dan and I still take walks at night when we can, but exercising for 30ish minutes 4-5 times a week is still ideal for me (per doctor's orders as well). I do have to take a few more breaks, but I think our little girl loves it when I do exercise because afterwards she is just a moving like crazy!

Food: Maybe I am not a typical pregnant person, but I do not CRAVE foods like most pregnant people do. Yes, I still really enjoy eating cereal, macaroni and cheese, and really anything with cheese, but I can go a day without them if I have to. This farmer's daughter isn't a diehard for meats right now (which is REALLY strange), though I got chicken wings at a restaurant recently and they were not too bad! That is the first chicken I have had in a LONG time (I think since July). Really though, I will eat anything, but do not feel I need to eat 10 pounds of it!

Planning: We have registered! We decided to just register at Target since we do not have many store options close to us, and we found most of what we needed from there anyways! It was rather fun (felt like a little kid as Dan would pick up an item and say "here, scan this...")! Who knew there were so many options out there when it comes to baby items, but who knew having a child would require so much? At first maybe we were a tad overwhelmed, but now we are just PUMPED! Excited to live life with this baby girl in our life! She has no idea how excited we are and how much love is built up for her, but hopefully she is figuring that out already :).

Baby: At probably a foot long now, I am sure she is well over a pound now, seeing how almost 2 weeks ago she weighed 1 lb. 2 oz.! She is a mover in the morning when I eat breakfast, also at about 10pm she gets a 2nd, 3rd or 5th wind in her and just has a party in there! Often when I lay down to go to sleep, she likes to remind her mommy that she is alive and well and I LOVE. EVERY. MINUTE. OF. IT. As I lay there falling asleep, Dan has a chance then too, to feel her healthy body just a kicking and we can just lay there and dream about our life with our little girl. We were told by our doctor that she is like a contortionist because at one point, she had her foot WAY up by her head, so I am not surprised to feel her moving often :).

Little does she know, how much joy she has already brought to our life! Little does she know how much our thoughts revolve around her. Little does she know how much hope God has given us through her. Little does she know that her life was planned out from the beginning of time! Little does she know that our arms are wide open and ready for her (though hopefully she stays in the oven until March!)

If you could say a little prayer for her this Friday... I have to have a fetal ECHO done on her in another city. Everything is okay, but the doctors just want to make sure that she does not have any congenital heart disease issues that are noticeable at this point. If so, they will have me deliver in Minneapolis. Of course we pray her little heart is as healthy as can be, but we know this is just one more step towards God bringing her into this world, in the way He chooses. Not nervous, but it is an hour long test (or more) so just praying that her little heart is still just fluttering away!