Thursday, September 18, 2014

Continuing the Tradition of Michigan Football Games

It had been 3 years. Three years too long, since I had been at the big house. Living in Minnesota especially, I wasn't sure when the next time I would make it back to the Big House, but when Dan told me he really wanted to get back for his annual fishing trip with friends, I right away headed to over to the Michigan football schedule to see if they were in town that weekend.

I about jumped out of my chair, when I saw that they were. I facebooked the person we got our tickets from in the past and lo and behold, they were still available! This girl is so into Michigan football (I can't even really explain why), but it has been a passion of mine for a long time. I think I appreciate the competitiveness of college football, the sheer striving for only the best, without getting paid millions to just show up. And of course, the atmosphere is unlike any other. To sit in a stadium filled with over 100,000 people, all cheering for the same team. We always have to chuckle at the faithful few who travel and are sitting amongst all of the maize 'n blue. Not chuckle at them, but realize their bravery!

So, my sister and I continued our tradition of our love for Michigan football! I am so thankful I have someone to share it with - who enjoys it just as much as I do. We may be odd - two girls loving Michigan football so much, but that's just who we are. Sports fanatics.

We are known to go to odd games - the last game I was at, was rainy and cold, the game before that, it was delayed during the 3rd quarter because of a severe thunderstorm warning and on the drive home, there was a tornado warning, where a tornado did eventually hit, but thankfully we were fine and didn't see it. We were also at the Appalachian State game, where they lost, and also 2 games later that season, when they beat Notre Dame (which was a HUGE surprise). We were at another one where Michigan lost on a last second field goal against Minnesota (go figure). And there are more crazy games. So we knew with going to the Miami of Ohio game, who knew what could happen!

Thankfully Michigan won the game 34-10, but at one point, it was tied 10-10. Yikes.
It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day for a football game and what a memorable day it was!


Sista Love
Watching them warm up, right by the field. One of our most favorite parts.

Special teams


When the band comes out, setting up for the players to then come out, there is nothing like it! If you've been there, you know exactly what I'm talking about! That drum beat...

Throughout the game, they celebrated the 200th anniversary of the national anthem.
Even with a fly over! It was so amazing. They even had a bald eagle fly from who knows where and land in the middle of the field
And another one of the amazing parts of the day, is seeing my friend Dick! Dick is the man who always feeds into our love for Michigan football - the man we get our tickets from. There was a 3rd ticket next to us, but it was just my sister and I, so we wondered who would have that 3rd ticket. When we found our seats, I saw Dick sitting there and I was so excited! We share the same love for Michigan football and what a fun time it was catching up!

They did a few fly overs

Whew...they won!

It was definitely worth the trip to Ann Arbor that day. To continue the tradition of our love for Michigan football!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Memories That Are Forever

The memories of 2 years ago, so fresh in our minds.

It is hard to believe that it has been that long since we said goodbye to our little hooties, but that is also why it makes today, our life circumstances in these moments, so special.
We wouldn't understand the depth and love we can have for a child, if we didn't know what it meant to lose and say goodbye to two. We wouldn't understand the power of an ultrasound where we can see a beating heart, if we hadn't seen a blank screen. We wouldn't understand the intricacies of what God does in knitting together a child, if it wasn't for the IVF process. To follow a pregnancy that close, with our beloved carrier, we wouldn't be able to fathom the miracle (though I am certain at times we still can't fathom what it means). If it wasn't for God's gift of those two little babies, our hearts wouldn't be as full as they are today. I truly believe.

I struggled seeing past the grief and raw emotions that came with losing those 2. It took me weeks. Months. Even years. And in some ways, it is still hard. It took time. And even before we found out about my heart healing, I can honestly say that God has given us the gift of time, to heal. He has given us new life in many ways. In new surroundings, in new opportunities, in new passions, in new jobs, and most recently, in new life.

We never imagined that God would bless us with the gift of new life - inside of ME. Those ideas were only fleeting. Maybe dreams that we thought about for 5 seconds, but never let ourselves go there because that was not the road God has us on. We tried and tried to live in contentment with the fact that I couldn't carry. I believe we got there.

And then God said "hold on a second, I have something even BETTER in store for you." That week this past May, I can't even explain the feelings. We celebrated our 8 year anniversary, we had my heart doctor's appointment where we found out the leaking in my heart has greatly decreased, and we were reminded on May 17, the day our babies were due, that maybe, just MAYBE, our first 2 would have a sibling. And before we knew it, July 5 would confirm that yes, God created life within.

To think that our two children in heaven and our heavenly Father are rejoicing with us daily, over the life within, makes me excited and eager for the day when we will be one again - one family unit together, in heaven. I know those two little hooties are cheering their brother or sister on. I know that they are living it up in heaven and that in and of itself, has made all of the tears, pain, and grief, worth it. God has created a longing in us for heaven that we never felt before, but also a peace on this earth, that he is not done with us yet.

And He reminds us of that daily as we see our newest little one grow.

This little baby has given us new hope. This little baby has reminded us of where we've been. This little baby is a reminder that God's promises hold true. And if it wasn't for our lil hooties, we wouldn't understand and be where we are today.

For those two children we prayed, and for this child, we continue to pray.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What 14 Weeks Looks Like

This past weekend, Dan and I headed back to Michigan for a few days, to catch up with family and friends (another post to come). This trip I was particularly looking forward to because I have not seen my family since I found out I was pregnant. To be able to celebrate all over again, God's goodness, and have my family share in the excitement with us, just means so much. They have been through so much with me, so sharing this moment with them, meant the world. Of course the phone calls and emails are irreplaceable, but so are the physical hugs and excitement. Baby talk, I couldn't wait for! We are blessed. 

Dan was gone on a fishing trip with friends, while in Michigan. He was gone for 3 days, and he says that the babester has definitely grown since the last time he had seen me. I would tend to agree. I feel since I have hit the end of my first trimester, this lil babe is just growing and growing!

I can feel things starting to move around a tad, as in my innards finding a new home as they are not in the same place they used to be. Most amazing feeling ever. And I know even more so, the feeling I will have when I feel the baby moving for the first time! 

14 weeks feels absolutely incredible. To make it to this point. To have this opportunity. And I feel so good. Exercise is what I need - if I don't, I feel odd and sluggish. Food tastes good, except certain foods (like chicken...still). I have had a craving for Spaghettios, I am still loving cereal (hello honey nut Cheerios), I eat a lot of crackers and watermelon, though I am enjoying more foods. I am sleeping so good. I wake up 2-3 times a night to go to the bathroom, and every time I get up, I am just in awe of what is happening in my body.

This whole idea and reality of being pregnant has not worn off one bit. Just tonight, Dan and I were looking at my growing tummy and we just giggled. Literally giggled, as we can't believe this is happening! I have a human growing inside of me! My stomach is growing! My stomach is hard, with a baby! What a gift God has given us. We are in continued awe of this miracle.

14 weeks means another appointment this week - just a regular checkup. I can't WAIT! Any chance I have to get a glimpse into this pregnancy, is just a reminder of what God is doing inside.

14 weeks. 14 weeks of surreal emotions and excitement.

And we pray, many more to go!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Step Closer

Today was a day filled with anticipation, yet so much peace.

As we were on our drive to the cities, I found myself moving my legs around in the car, just trying to get comfortable. I looked at the clock what seemed like 20 times, yet my heart was completely calm. My nails maybe slightly shorter.

All in anticipation for my first heart appointment being pregnant.

My heart truly was at peace. Of all things in my body, right? This week I have really tried to keep my focus on the fact that God has brought us to this place in our lives for a reason. Still feeling so undeserving, yet feeling so strongly that this is God's will - it only creates that sense of peace, knowing we can't do this apart from God.

After we finally found the place (I have now been to 3 different clinics in the cities), we realized we walked into yet another children's office. I had to chuckle as I saw the play telephone, kitchen set, and mini picnic table, as this is an all too familiar scene. Imagine a 30 year old walking into a children's office with my husband and no child. How would you react? We get weird looks to say the least. Yet the staff I think welcomes adult conversation, so we always have a good time. I step into a room to get my vitals taken and there is a mobile hanging from the ceiling - I almost asked the nurse if I could play with it, but with her not knowing who I am, I didn't want her to think I was crazy. So why a children's office? Because my heart condition is deemed congenital, even though there are no genetic ties to my issue. That is just what it will forever be classified as. So, to the children's offices I go - and yes, I am starting to get the hint that maybe I fit in them better than the adult ones anyways!

This appointment was really just a follow up. The last time I had seen this doctor, was the day we found out we could try and conceive. A day that brought so much joy and tears. That is why today, my heart was at peace - it was my mind, reminding me only of past years. Years filled with reports of more leaking. Although, I don't feel any different. My heart still beats the same (I think), my body is telling me that everything is okay.

Yet my mind just needed the confirmation.

As I laid on the table for my echo (basically an ultrasound of the heart), God overwhelmed me with His presence. I wish I could explain to you in words, that feeling. As the technician heard our story, she obviously found out I was pregnant and right away chimed in and said "do you want to see the baby?" I about jumped off the table - the thought had occurred to me, but never would ask. She asked if "dad" was here and I said "oh yeah!" So after my heart ultrasound, she prepped for the baby ultrasound and...

Our hearts were filled to overflowing again. There was a small piece of me that wondered what we would see, as I am only 12 weeks along. But...

It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about what we saw today.

As she found the baby with her little probe (it's smaller than a normal probe), the baby was INCREDIBLY active! So active that she had a hard time keeping it on the baby. The baby would curl up in a ball and then all of a sudden BURST, stretching, swinging arms and legs out, as we saw the mouth open wide, almost as if to say "I'M IN HERE!"

We saw the spine and the rib cage, clear as day, the facial features (though blurry), and the arms, elbows, legs, and knees - parts of the body we couldn't decipher before. All inside this body of mine.

Then the heartbeat. She had no idea that we hadn't heard the heartbeat yet because the baby was too small before, but she turned on the sound and we both realized that our baby's heart was music to our ears and even more so, to OUR hearts. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. To me it was perfect. My heart a little physically broken, but our baby's, in perfect rhythm.

Again, just one step closer. I wish we had pictures to show, but it's the images in our minds and now our hearts, that continue building the confidence in God's plan for our life.

And, as for my heart. My oxygen, blood pressure, and heart look amazing. All glory to God, as He sustains every part of my heart. Yes, I still have some leakage, but it is not increasing. I am not swelling so far, my blood pressure is low, and I feel great. We have my doctor's blessing until next February, when I have to see her again. What relief. Not that we anticipated anything different, but this is a high-risk pregnancy, so any confirmation of my body adjusting to the million changes inside, yet my heart staying the same, is confirmation that this is still God's will for our life. We walked out of that office with a little extra pep in our step - reminded yet again, that we serve a miraculous God. That miracle has not diminished in our eyes - God only increases the beauty of it, as we see our growing baby - a pure gift from God.

The only things I have to watch out for is swelling, ensuring my blood pressure doesn't go over 140/90, any shortness of breath, my heart racing, or anything that doesn't seem "right". Otherwise, I can continue to exercise and continue to live the life I live. What a blessing. I went from almost needing another open heart surgery to being pregnant and everything going well so far. Humbled.

My heart was so filled with peace and excitement, that when they asked me about my next appointment, I told them I might have a basketball game. Both nurses paused, looked at me, and said "you're playing basketball? At 30 weeks?" I quickly corrected them and said "COACHING basketball." We all started laughing and then joked about what it would look like to watch an over 30 year old pregnant woman playing basketball and taking charges. Again, an office that is used to children - after today I may be classified as one too, but that's okay with me.

Today, we just know that God has carried us one step closer. One step closer to our heart's desire to have our own child. One step closer to meeting our miracle. One step that God has carried us under His wing in our faith journey.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A First For Everything

I have decided to share a pregnancy picture, first of all, being that we do not live by our families, they do not get to see how their little cousin, niece/nephew, or grandbaby is growing! And with tomorrow being the start of my 12th week, I am just getting more and more excited to share what this prego belly is doing!

Dan and I often look at my belly and just literally laugh with giddiness. We giggle, we dream. How can it be growing THIS much already? To us, it's a gift from God. It's a confirmation that a child is growing inside and we cannot WAIT to meet this lil baby. To think that I am almost done with my 1st trimester is crazy, yet I don't feel like it has gone by too fast. I feel we have been able to enjoy every moment and maybe too, it's because we are taking every moment in. 

My clothes? Well, I am thankful for the hair twistie idea. I bought some new pants for work and 1 week later, I am using the twistie. But thankfully most everything fits yet, it's just that the pooch is a little more pronounced. I did take advantage of Old Navy's sale online, and purchased a few cheapo maternity shirts! The time is coming faster than what I thought, in needing maternity clothes! I feel GREAT - I am eating more, yet just lots of the same things - like cereal, chips and cheese, crackers, and watermelon. I am not a picky eater by all means, but if I need to eat, those will be the first items I grab.

I am sleeping like a baby (and I know that will eventually change, so I am so thankful for it right now)! I exercise by walking, jogging, or biking everyday. Some days I am more tired than others, and that's when a good walk feels good. But my doctor said to keep doing what I can (since I was exercising prior to), so I am going to enjoy the nice weather while I can. In Minnesota, the winters are hard to exercise outside in. I had great intentions last year, but the -50 weather halted those thoughts real fast!

I have a heart check-up this week in the cities, so we are eager to hear how the ole ticker is doing, with me being pregnant. I personally think it's doing okay, outside of just being more tired, but that is a normal pregnancy symptom. 

And of course, we are just so thankful for this day. For this moment in our life. For this chapter. There will be no hiding of this baby, even though it's at the awkward "may have eaten too much steak and potatoes" stage. If anyone asks, I can tell them that it's more than overeating!

Thank you all for the prayers and care. We truly believe God hears every single one of them!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Moments of Miracles and Speechlessness

I first want to say thank you for understanding what I was trying to say in my last post. I was honestly nervous to post it because it was those deep, deep pieces of my heart, that I knew I wanted to share, but wasn't certain how they would be taken. Sharing the depths of our feelings, we know we don't "need" to, but this part of our story is just as important as the others.

That is why we want to share. In the joys and the struggles.

Another reason I have been a little sheepish in sharing lots of pregnancy updates, is because of my cautious heart. I would be lying if there wasn't a small portion of me that was a little nervous after week 7, after the miscarriage scare, that maybe this too, wouldn't end in the way we had hoped and prayed for.

But that experience taught us something. Over and over again, Dan and I said to each other during that time, that we weren't sure we could go through another miscarriage. But what we caught ourselves saying is that WE couldn't do it - we weren't focusing on what GOD could do.

And that is the hope we hold on to. No matter what happens, God is STILL in control and is STILL sovereign. It has taken time to learn to let go of this child. To give this child over to God. A lesson I am learning early on, but a lesson that I have learned to live by, back in 2012 with our little Hooties.

Giving to God what He has given to us. Learning to give our two little children back to God in a physical way, was very difficult. But now we have the privilege of giving this child back to God in a parental surrendering, way (so far). Everyday I wake up, I think "this is a child of God". Created by God. Cared for by God. Designed by God. I am humbled that He has given me the privilege of caring for this child in my womb. What a gift. An unexplainable gift. God saw fit in our lives, that at this time, this is what He wanted - a child to grow within.

Every. Day. We. Are. Speechless. To carry with me, a child who is so uniquely fabricated, by the fingers of God, who is growing at an insane rate, yet is sustained inside my body, is a miracle that is just as shocking to experience since the first day we found out I was pregnant.

What is that thing in your life, that has left YOU speechless? What is that one thing right now, that is causing you to run back to God in thanksgiving or maybe in a tearful surrender? God knows. He knows the beginning and the end of what the situation may be. Don't let those miraculous moments slip by - those moments that lay the landmarks for our future.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Words That I Have Struggled To Find

I know I haven't blogged as much as I used to, but sometimes I am not sure what to say.

Odd, coming from a girl who can talk your ear off!

But since finding out that we are going to have a baby, I have a hard time knowing how to say what I want to say.

The reason being: we know the pain of not being able to carry.

We know what it feels like to hear the words "congratulations," directed at someone who just found out they were expecting. We know the feeling of hearing talk about trying to conceive, the joys, the laughter, and the excitement. We know the feeling of listening to others talk about dreams of parenting, buying baby clothes, celebrating birthdays, and creating a family. All when we were not able to do the same. It was far from easy, and yet, we now find ourselves in those "other's" shoes.

This experience has taught my heart so much. My heart is overflowing. I wish I knew then, what I know now. I wish I knew back in 2010, after hearing about not being able to have our own children, that God would heal my heart. I wish I knew back in 2001, when I had open heart surgery, that God would give me the gift of becoming a mother in 2012. I wish I knew, how to better deal with the pain of grief and loss, so that it doesn't take away from those who celebrate. That line, right there, is why I wish I had more faith.

I found myself in such a deep dark place, when we went through so much loss. Is it hard to not be self-focused while working through all the emotions of grief? Of course. But as a Christian, there is more to this life than myself. There are others who celebrate the gift of new life. The joys of having a new child. Easy for me to say, as I sit here pregnant. I get that. But I want those who are still grieving, who are still struggling, who are still waiting: that we still understand. Changes in circumstances don't take away the path of the past. It was still traveled upon - the memories etched forever in our story. The scenery and emotions of that path still implanted deeply.

But I also say all of this because I want those to know who are still on the road of infertility or not being able to have your own children, that it is worth your faith, to keep hope. I tell you this after 8 years of being married and thinking children would never happen. I tell you this after hearing in 2001 (13 years ago), that my heart problem would compromise my ability to have children. I tell you this because I want you to have hope. We were told again and again, years ago, to have hope. I laughed. I shrugged it off. But God offered hope through the gestational carrier process. God offered hope after healing my heart. God restored our hope when we found out that we would be parents once again - in a very personal way.

To this day, I still wake up every morning, in awe of what God has done. It still has not fully sunk in, as we are still overwhelmed with joy. Almost 3 months later. I want those, no matter situation you are in, to hang on to hope. Not necessarily a circumstantial hope, but a hope knowing that God knows what He is doing. We knew God wasn't done with us, even in our deepest of grieving moments. We knew there was more. But our hearts didn't always believe it.

I want you to believe it. I want you to have hope.

That is why I feel I want to start posting more about this pregnancy. Not for my own personal benefit, but because it is God's story. I just don't want to keep silent what God is doing in our life. I chose to not keep silent during the struggles and pains, and so therefore, I do not want to keep silent during some of the greatest joys in our life.

I hope you take these words for what they are. They are words that I have struggled to say, words that I have struggled to formulate in my head. They are words that I pray, give you HOPE.