Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer lovin'... happened so fast

Usually when I sit down to write I already have strings of formed sentences running races around my mind, begging to fly out of my fingertips.  Today, I'm drawing a blank.  I don't know if I'm lacking inspiration still, or if my Pinterest addiction is taking up all of my mind space (seriously, my collection of pictures has spilled over into a second Facebook album).  Maybe it's the hellish heat outside (it's 108 today) that is melting my brain cells.  Maybe it's just the fact that it's summertime and our minds have been programmed to stop thinking for three months, our bodies programmed to mutate into some sort of swimming pool/couch dwelling animal.
As a kid, summertime was the ultimate freedom.  No schoolwork, no alarm clocks, no responsibilities.  Hot days filled with swimming, ice cream cones, and spending time with my favorite friends.  As an adolescent, summertime was always the opportunity to change and grow and (if you watched Grease a hundred times like me) the perfect time for a new and perfect romance to form.  I was always imagining dramatic love stories, and I just knew that every summer I was going to meet the man of my dreams at the county fair, Tropical Sno, or the swimming pool -- just in case you are curious, I did not meet my husband (aka: the man of my dreams) at the swimming pool, Tropical Sno, or the county fair.
As I got older, I began to really hate summer.  I don't like to sweat outside of the gym, and living in Kansas in the summertime is like holding a blow dryer up to your face for the entire duration of June, July, August, and early September.  There is something about the sticky, heavy, dense air that makes you feel like you are swimming in your clothes in a too-warm hot tub.  Refreshing swimming pools become like stale bathwater and every step becomes like a chore.  I realized that the longer I was outside, the worse my hair would look and the more my makeup would melt (and believe me, it's no small feat to make my hair and face look presentable), thus turning me into an unattractive version of Tammy Faye Baker.

This is also around the time that I had a giant epiphany.  I finally realized why my mom, who has a quite regular length neck, would turn into a giraffe every time we went swimming.  I could never understand why she didn't want to get her hair or face wet.  'Go under, Mom!'  I would yell, 'The water feels great!'  She didn't want to ruin the magic that she had created under the fluorescent lights in her bathroom.  As a kid who's only worry was what was for lunch, I never understood.  Now, I totally get it, and I'm thankful that the giraffe-neck-metamorphosis gene is one in which I have inherited.

I'm learning, slowly, to like summer a little better.  For one, I really don't care anymore how terrible I look in a swimming suit.  If we're all being honest, I don't think anyone actually feels amazing being in public in what is sometimes less than a normal bra and underwear (or, if your me, granny underwear and a modest tank top).  I don't style my hair and put on makeup everyday anymore (I know, I know, shame on me) since I don't work outside the home (aside from teaching Yoga, but I don't style my hair or put on makeup for that either), so I don't have to worry about melting.  Also, I'm noticing that the more I exchange my body fat for muscle, the less I sweat.  I don't feel like I'm going to pass out and die when I go outside (drinking more water would improve this further).
Most of all, I'm learning to love summertime because my son LOVES being outside -- no matter what the weather.  He loves to explore the grass and rocks.  He love listening to the array sounds he makes when he marches and dances on various surfaces.  He loves going for wagon rides and for short walks, and to wave at the girls who live across the street.  He stands at the door begging to go out with a pitiful 'Out-shi-ee?' (turning the word into three very sad syllables).  We drive past the park and he asks sweetly 'Wheee?' -- this actually means he wants to go down the slide but we say 'wheee' quite loudly when he slides down.  He begs to swim and wants his 'shoe shoes' (swim shoes) on so that he can go splash in our shallow pool.  Even when we have much to do, it's hard to turn down his sad eyes that are exactly the color of the blue-est sky you've ever seen.
So, now I'm the giraffe-neck mom at the swimming pool (after all, chlorine will ruin your hair, you know), and I'm proud of that.  I'm learning to love summer more, because I remember loving the carefree feeling of running aimlessly outdoors in the hot sun when I was young.  And I want to recreate that for my little guy.  I want him to roll in the grass, to smell the flowers, to run through the sprinkler, to be covered in juice from a Popsicle and not care that he's going to be a sticky mess.  I want him to only care about needing to splash in the pool, kick around his new ball, giggle when the wind tickles his neck just so.  I want him to want to go on wagon rides, to want to walk to Tropical Sno, to not care about grass stains when he falls to the ground in a fit of glorious laughter.  I want him to play so hard that he looks like he's wearing a dirt necklace when it's time to have a bath.  I want summertime to mean something to him.  And, for that, I will love summertime for him and with him.
Go outside and play.  Sweat a little.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Friends and sisters always be, together forever...

"I would like to sing a song, if you care to sing along.  If it could but stay among, our hearts, forever. Then I'd sing of you and me, in our dear sorority.  Friends and sisters, always be together forever, singing: 'We are many sisters, come and take our hands. We will share the spirit of our clan. We are many sisters, and all our avid fans, members and sister of dear old Alpha Gam.'  All the love she's given me, all the times she's proved to be, all the friend I'll ever need, or care for, or dare for.  Like a rose so sweet and fair, like a blossom growing there, in our hearts without a care, she'll take you and make you: One of our many sisters come and take our hands, we will share the spirit of our clan.  We are many sisters and all our avid fans, members and sisters of dear old Alpha Gam."
The lyrics above are those of a song called "The Margaret Song".  It isn't one you will ever hear on the radio, or see performed at a concert.  But, to a very special group of women, these lyrics are embedded in our hearts and in our minds.  The lyrics were originally written to honor a member of Alpha Gamma Delta who was killed in a car accident.  The song has been passed down from generation to generation of sisters, and is sung at special events, weddings, celebrations, and, most recently, a funeral.  At happy events, the last line is shouted over the sounds of stomping high heeled shoes.  Most recently, the lyrics struggled to leave our mouths over the lumps in our throats and the tears in our eyes.  We gathered as family, joined together under the name of Alpha Gamma Delta, to honor our dear sister who had lost a battle she had been fighting for so long.
I didn't know Amanda growing up.  I didn't know her as a 15 year old when she was diagnosed with Leukemia after a car accident.  The date she was diagnosed with Leukemia was June 13th.  I didn't know her when she first came down with a long and lasting case of Bell's Palsy.  I didn't know her as a cheerleader, or a runner.  I didn't know her as a girl who wanted to make every animal a pet.  I wish I would have known her then.  I didn't get the privilege of meeting Amanda until she came to Pittsburg State University, and went through formal recruitment to join a sorority.  She chose us, and we chose her.  I instantly liked her, we all did, she was quiet and shy.  She was smart, feisty, and kind, a perfect combination.  She probably would have made a fantastic competitive eater (as long as the competitions included greasy french fries), but instead chose to achieve her degree in graphic design.  Amanda cherished memories so much that she kept everything.  Her family referred to her as an 'organized hoarder'.  All of the young women in our sorority loved and cherished Amanda, and felt an incredible need to nurture and protect her.  We were all sisters, some biological, most not, but we were sisters, in every other sense of the word, nonetheless.
Amanda touched the heart of everyone she met.  She loved fully and laughed hard.  She didn't just live... she was alive.  She was a fighter, she had more strength in her tiny little frail body than anyone I have ever met.  People were drawn to her spirit, to her smile, to the kindness that shone through her eyes.  I think there are a lot of people who would have been deflated and defeated after going through such a hard battle, but Amanda stayed positive and strong, only breaking down occasionally to those who were closest to her.  She told me once that it didn't bother her too much that her hair never grew back after the chemotherapy made her lose it, she thought it was fun being able to change hair colors and styles so often with her wigs.  She was amazing.
Amanda became quite ill with what the doctors first thought was severe asthma, but soon they learned that her lungs were covered in polyps.  Her lungs had been destroyed by the chemotherapy treatments she had received.  She became a candidate for a double lung transplant, which she received in January of 2010.  She was finally able to go back home on June 13th, welcomed home with a party in her honor.  She was on oxygen, pulling around a tank that was as big as she was.  She chose to be cautious, wearing a mask even after the doctors gave her permission not to.  By October, her ability to breathe on her own became less and less.  She was suffering from the chronic rejection of her new lungs.  She was admitted into the hospital, where she was put on a ventilator.  Eventually she was placed on a feeding tube, and her ventilator was administered through a tracheotomy.  She lost her ability to speak and eat, only able to mouth words to those who had learned to read her lips.  She remained in the hospital for 8 months, until her passing.
It seems so unfair that her body seemingly failed her at every turn, while so many others can make it through life without so much as a common cold.  But Amanda's story is not just about illness.  To only remember that part of her life would be doing a disservice to her.  Although it is important to know what she went through, so that you can really appreciate her smile, her positive attitude, her love for her friends and family. 
Amanda went home to be with the Lord on June 13th, 2011 (have you noticed this date as a theme in her life?).  When I heard the news I was sick to my stomach, saddened that I hadn't taken the chance to see her one last time, to hug her and to tell her that I loved her.  I wept for her family, for her friends, for everyone who knew her.  I wept loudly for her parents, as no parent should ever have to bury a child.  I know that all who had the honor of knowing her were deeply affected by this loss.  I believe we were all cut to the core with feelings of anger and sadness.
As strange as this may seem, Amanda's passing also brought somewhat of a sense of peace to those who knew her.  Amanda was a believer, and there is no doubt that she is now in the presence of our Lord.  We know, the moment she took her last breath on earth was the very first breath she took in heaven.  And that first breath of sweet heaven's air was the first breath in hundreds of thousands that came with ease; that came without strain, or the use of a ventilator.  We knew, that for the first time in many years, she was running her hands through her own hair, that she was finally in a body that would fail her no longer.  Everyone who knew her, knew, immediately, that she would suffer no more, and that she was at peace.
Many friends and family members came to bid Amanda a final farewell.  At her service, the paul-bearers wore flip-flops (her favorite) and brightly colored t-shirts that said "Team Amanda".  All who came were there to celebrate a wonderful woman, and to mourn a life lost too soon.  At her request, our sisterhood of women encircled her casket at the burial service to sing 'The Margaret Song'.  I am honored and proud to be part of a sisterhood so special and binding, and to have been able to call Amanda my friend and sister.  I know that the members of Alpha Gamma Delta who were lucky enough to become close to her, will feel her absence for a long time to come.
You will always be loved and missed, dear Amanda.... until we meet again.






Below is Amanda's obituary, as posted by Ferry Funeral Home.

Amanda Kathryn Smith
Amanda Kathryn Smith, 27, Nevada, MO, passed away on Monday, June 13, 2011, at Kindred Hospital in Kansas City, MO. Amanda was born on October 30, 1983, in Nevada, MO, to Ernest Leon and Kathryn Elaine Gordon Smith.
Amanda attended Walker Elementary School from Kindergarten through 6th grade. She enjoyed baseball, track and field days and was in many spelling bees. She then attended Nevada School from 7th through 12th grades graduating from Nevada High School in 2002. She participated in cheerleading, choir and track. Amanda obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design in 2006 from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS. She was part of the sisterhood sorority at Alpha Gamma Delta. Amanda enjoyed spoiling her nephews, reading all the books she could get hold of, and her cats Toby and Midget. Any stray animal that came through, she made a pet out of it. She would even help her dad take care of the little pigs. Amanda enjoyed TV shows such as The Young and the Restless, HGTV, and cooking shows.
Survivors include her parents Leon and Kathy Gordon Smith, Nevada, MO; one sister, Darya Kalleck, Butler, MO; one brother, Eric and Bouaphanh “Boo” Smith, Kansas City, KS; grandparents, Carolyn and Jack Gordon, Nevada, MO, and Grace Smith and her late husband, Thomas Smith, Butler, MO; nephews, Blade and Ty Kalleck, and Evan and “soon to be” Ethan Smith, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, 2011, at Ferry Funeral Home, Nevada, MO, with Pastor Mark Mitchell officiating. Interment will follow in Newton Burial Park, Nevada, MO. Friends may call now and until the hour of service and the family receives friends 6-8:00 p.m. on Friday evening, June 17, 2011, at the funeral home.
Those who wish may contribute in her memory, to Barnes Jewish Hospital Transplant Program, Lymphoma and Leukemia Society, or to the Vernon County People for Pets c/o Ferry Funeral Home, 301 S. Washington, Nevada, MO 64772.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kelsey Lately...

I was informed yesterday that it had been 13 days since I last blogged.  I was asked if I was just busy or lacking inspiration.  Busy is my first response, but maybe lack of inspiration is partially to blame.  Our lives have been so crazy topsy turvey swirly lately that I haven't had a chance to sit down to catch my breath.  Or, when I do sit down to catch my breath I have been zoning out into a mindless coma while staring at all of the wonderful randomness at Pinterest.com.  I've even dedicated a Facebook album to the pretty things I've found... which has been keeping me awake until the wee hours of the morning.
All this dreaming and drooling over pretty craft and redecorating ideas has made me a little anxious with anticipation about what project I will start first.  My husband has informed me, in case you were curious, that painting the piano is not an option.  My first response is 'well, poo'.  My second response is 'we'll just see about that'.
Anyway, in addition to adding to the wideness of my rear by wasting countless hours staring at my computer screen, I've been running nonstop.  Summer has proved to be lacking in lackadaisical afternoons, and overwhelmed with errands, obligations, and road trips.  I have totally lost my motivation to work out.  Well not totally.  Every evening I get mentally amped up, ready to hit the gym the next day... so I set my alarm with the best of intentions to hit the weights and elliptical, but every morning, my bed is just too comfortable.  I'll be honest with you... I've been teaching my Yoga classes (but that's about it for my working out), drinking too much diet soda and hitting the chocolate a little too hard.  Yikes.  Double yikes.  I'll try to be better about that and have started taking some supplements from GNC to help my energy levels.  Next week will be better.  It has to be.
So amidst all of the chaos of landscaping, barbecues, Bible studies, swimming, play dates, family gatherings, a final farewell to a fallen friend, birthday parties, and golf tournaments, we managed to paint the exterior of the house (with only a few minor arguments), thanks to my parents who kept our munchkin for the weekend.  While we were kid-less we indulged in a dinner out and a movie.  It was so wonderful to be able to go on a date with my husband.  We are going to make a point to do that more often.  Lately, nearly every weekend has been spent out of town visiting friends and family or attending some sort of event, and every week is spent playing catch-up on laundry, sleep, and getting Little K back into a normal routine.  We have enjoyed the time we have spent with our families, and I think Little K has been truly enjoying the weekend-long spoil sessions from both sets of Grandparents and getting to love on my parents' dogs Sophie and Gilbey (whom he calls Fophie and Bobby).  But we are exhausted.  EXHAUSTED.
So that's the skinny of it.... I've been burning my candle at both ends, neglecting housework, and struggling to stay caught up on my soap opera.  I don't forsee life slowing down anytime soon, however I intend to try to be better about blogging, making it to the gym, to cut down on the diet soda, to make myself go to bed at a decent hour (this means before midnight), and to get up when my alarm goes off the first time.  I even put it on the bookshelf across the room so I have to actually get up to hit snooze, but my bed draws me back like a too-strong magnet.  Aaaaah.... self improvement is never-ending.
Love yourself.  Stay motivated.  And remember... you're In Good company.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Want To Dance

I want to dance.  Not the kind of dancing where I just sway side-to-side, hoping no one is watching my lack of ability and grace.  Not the kind of dancing where I play the air guitar and do other silly things, looking like an idiot on purpose (horribly embarrassing my husband) -- although fun.  And not the kind where my husband twirls me around and then holds me close and I lay my head on his broad shoulder, although this kind is my favorite.  What I mean is that I want to really dance.
I took dance lessons as a very little girl and then again in Junior High when it was the cool thing to do.  Technique I could get down.  Fluidity, grace, and feeling the moves, I could not.  My mom said I danced like Frankenstein.  At the time my feelings were hurt (but honestly, everything hurt my feelings at that age), but I realize now that she was right.  I 'danced' with the rigidity of a rusty robot.  I can strike a pose with the best of them (hence my love for Yoga), but I cannot shimmy, sway, or spin with that organic, silky, grace that is just hardwired into some people.  But I wish I could.  I mean, I really wish I could.
I sit and drool over So You Think You Can Dance on Fox, wishing I could make my body move in such a beautiful manner.  Dancers with true talent can make you feel and see the music as you are watching them.  What amazes me, too, is they make it all look so simple and effortless.  Dancing is such an incredible form of self-expression.  A form of self-expression that I don't have.  I can play the piano, I used to be able to sing (and still subject my shower walls to listening to the screeching of old high school choir songs), and I write, oh how I love to write -- but my two left feet and the quite un-frail body in which I live don't exactly give me the elegance needed for dancing ballet, jitterbug, cha-cha or jive.  I have always loved the stage -- and being on it -- but there is something so moving about a solo dancer, performing his or her heart out.  There is also something, almost miracle-like, about seeing a group of dancers who have practiced painstakingly long hours to make every move just perfect and in sync with the others around them, all moving together as if belonging to one single body.  My body aches to be able to move that way, my heart wishes to be able to perform.
I suppose some would say it is a waste of time to dream about things that will never be accomplished.  But honestly, I choose to believe that life without dreaming is a waste of time.  If we don't aspire to be more than we are today, will we ever become anything more than we are now?  Maybe someday I will pull together enough courage to take a local dance class.  Maybe not.  But until that is decided for sure, I will continue to admire (and secretly envy) the lucky ones who are possessors of this incredible talent and to dance in my living room to the tunes of The Backyardigans on NickJR with my favorite little guy.

Live like there is no tomorrow.  Dream like you will live forever.  Dance like no one is watching.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Marriage and Motherhood: Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. 

Our families were banished to the waiting room and it was time to push.  I felt like a marathon runner must feel (I suppose I really wouldn't know... I've never been a runner), focused, in the zone, eyes on the finish line.  I'll spare you the gory details, but after only 5 pushes he was here.  At 8:55 p.m. our Little K came into the world weighing only 5 lbs 2.8 oz and was 18 1/2 inches long.  He wasn't breathing.  Immediately the nurses and doctors (who were all heroes that day) started breathing for him.  My husband tried to block the view to shield me from what was happening.  I yelled at him to get out of my way, I needed to see my baby.  They allowed my husband to carry him as he was quickly rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  Had I any feeling in my body below the waist, I would have been close behind.  Our families (The Worry Crew) were terrified, they had a plain view of the delivery room door, as well as the door to the NICU, but no one could give them any information (thank you, HIPPA).
The Worry Crew
It was several hours before the epidural wore off and I was able to see my baby.  It's a very strange feeling to suddenly no longer be pregnant but not be able to hold your child in your arms either.  When I was finally strong enough to walk (although still incredibly shaky), we were allowed to go in and see Little K.  Those who know us were curious where we came up with his name, which actually is German.  We chose it for a few reasons.  One, it was unique but not weird; two, I had previously cut the hair of a precious little boy with the same name and fell in love with both the child and the name; three, we wanted to represent both of our names (which begin with K & A) in his initials.  We have gotten lots of questions and comments regarding our name choice (some snotty, some just curious), but we love it, and, more importantly, we love him.
A few of our wonderful nurses.
As I mentioned before, we prayed before delivery.  I am so thankful for those prayers.  I believe that because of our prayers, God was able to blind us from from seeing all of the machines, his sunken chest, his transparent skin.  God blinded us, too, from fear.  We were only able to see our tiny little blessing, whom we felt was the most beautiful thing either of us had ever seen (even though his face was hiding behind an oxygen mask).  In our eyes, he was perfect.  We finally understood love at first sight.  With tears streaming, we touched his little hands and spoke gently.  We let him know that he was going to be just fine and how much he was loved.  Looking back at the pictures now, I am not blinded anymore to how scary the situation could possibly have been.
Sleeping that night was difficult, I couldn't shake the feeling of emptiness in my womb.  I hadn't been prepared for the intense love I would feel and the longing to be near him always.  Three days passed before he was strong enough to breathe on his own.  Three days before we could hold our precious gift.  We spent nine very long days in the hospital before the doctor finally gave us permission to go home.  Just 3 days before Christmas, we could finally take our son home. He was only 4 lbs 11 oz then and looked so tiny in his infant carrier. 
One of the proudest moments of our lives.
Ready for his first car ride.
I made sure to give him a tour of our home, before allowing him to rest in his bassinet, letting him know that we did not actually live in the hospital.  Daisy was thrilled to see us, and even more excited to meet her new brother.  She had already been gifted a blanket with his scent on it, so she wasn't overly nosey with him.  An instant love and friendship was formed between my two babies and all my worries dissolved.  I was happier than ever before.  Motherhood is amazing.  People forget to tell you, though, that parenting isn't all rainbows and butterflies.  It can be incredibly lonely and scary at first.  Life at home with a premature newborn was stressful.  I hadn't been able to produce my own milk, so he was eating bottles of formula every two hours.  Because of his acid reflux, we were required to hold him upright for an hour after feeding.  This meant thirty minutes of sleep before the next feeding began.  Also, he was blessed with Colic.  On top of this, we were advised to keep the lighting and noise at a minimum so to not overstimulate him.  Being continually exhausted and frustrated in a dark quiet house isn't exactly good for the soul.  I struggled with a mild case Post-Partum Depression.  My husband could not have been more amazing and helpful.  And we are both incredibly thankful for the immense amount of support we received from friends, family, and doctors.
Slowly the colic subsided, he grew into and then out of his preemie clothes, feedings became further and further apart, and I was finally able to sleep.  Aaaaaaah, sleep.  I cannot say enough about how much a few hours of sleep can do for the soul (if you are a new mother, order a pizza and forget about the housework --  if your baby is sleeping, you should be too).








Now my baby is not a baby anymore.  He will soon be 18 months old and is constantly on the go.  You would never know that he was premature (although he is still smaller than other kids his age).  He throws food, gives high fives, laughs with a vigor I've never heard, and has the orneriest little smile you have ever seen.  Daisy lets him poke and prod her as long as he continues to feed her when we're not looking.  I am always amazed at how quickly he learns and how he has his own sense of humor.  He loves music and dances in such an organic manner that makes me smile down to my soul.  He wants to read a million books a day and stands at the door begging to play outside.  His fits are unprecedentedly fit-ty and his sad face makes my heart break.  He is in love with his duck, Billingsworth, whom he calls 'Bee Wee', squeals with delight when he hears a train, and loves wearing mixing-bowl-hats.




Because of Little K, my faith was restored in miracles, in prayer, in hope.  I see in his eyes a determination that will take him far, and an orneriness that may make him stumble (and certainly will make us grey).  His presence has completed our little family and has made us thankful for all of the blessings, big and small, that God has given us.  He teaches me, every day, to laugh and to not worry about the small things (like the one big juice stain my carpet is becoming).  I can't imagine not being a mother to this precious little boy, and I know that the season of infertility struggles make me appreciate him even more.  I can't wait to see what he will learn tomorrow and the next day, and what our next big adventure will be.

Laugh loud, love vigorously.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

Marriage and Motherhood: Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

I knew I was pregnant.  I knew it down to my bones, mostly because I was exhausted down to my bones and I was peeing every 4 seconds.  We decided that I would refrain from taking anymore at home pregnancy tests for at least another week for two reasons: one, we had already spent a fair chunk of change on the 100 negative pregnancy tests over the last year, and two, we thought maybe if we waited a little longer, we  would get a more accurate result.  Our week of waiting lasted only until 36 hours.  It was.... positive.  God is faithful.  I didn't know what to do.  I was in disbelief.  I couldn't cry -- all my tears had already been wasted on sorrow -- all I could do was scream.  My husband thought I had fallen off the toilet.
We didn't know what else to do, so we drove to the hospital to buy an "I'm a Big Sister" shirt for Daisy.  We let her be the one to tell our friends and family, by wearing the big announcement on her back.  I'm not sure if she understood the changes coming her way, but she was pleased to momentarily be the center of attention.  I do believe, though, that she knew instantly, even before I did, that I was expecting (many articles support this idea).  She became quite protective of me, would no longer lay atop of me -- only right next to me, and had a much gentler demeanor about her.  I, like any expectant mother, read and researched and read some more about pregnancy and childbirth.  I quickly learned, that if you follow every piece of advice you hear and read, you won't be eating anything but carrots, will be terrified of absolutely everything, and will soon be diagnosing yourself with crazy diseases just because you, gasp, ate potato salad.  I learned to calm myself down, check with my doctor for advice, and chose to ignore the ridiculous tales of terror and treachery that everyone thought appropriate to tell me -- seriously, for a few days I was terrified that I would give birth to a hermaphrodite.  Someone please explain to me why everyone wants to tell pregnant women about every miscarriage and labor-gone-wrong story they have ever heard.
11 weeks
My pregnancy was pretty normal.  I struggled with heartburn and all-day-long-sickness -- I refuse to call it morning sickness because that is just a bold faced lie.  But, in the grand scheme of things, that was all minor.  By the time I reached 19 weeks, I felt amazing.  Truly amazing.  It was as if my hormones were finally doing what they were supposed to be doing.  I felt so fantastic that we planned a vacation to North Carolina during my 29th week.  I learned later that this trend is called 'Taking a Babymoon'.  Whatever it was called, it was wonderful.
29 1/2 weeks
Pregnancy changes you.  Not for the obvious figure-that-resembles-a-basketball-smuggler reason.  It changes you from the inside out.  You suddenly become protective and curious and motherly to everything around you.  You long to hold this baby you are growing, but at the same time wish to never let it out of your protective womb into the cruel world in which we live.  Pregnancy changes the way people see you.  I was suddenly in a new club.  The "Mommy-To-Be Club" was much more enjoyable than the "Infertility Club".  Strangers constantly smiled at me (and occasionally told me how miserable I looked... gee thanks).  My husband became so overly protective (even banishing my feet from high-heeled shoes) that he may have just chosen to carry me everywhere, had I been blessed with a petite frame.  Being incredibly independent made it quite hard to adjust to my new limitations, but I would have gone to any length to protect this little blessing.
Nursery In Progress
As you can imagine, I am not a wait and see kind of person.  I couldn't understand why my doctor was so mean to make us wait until 20 weeks to learn the sex of our precious little one.  Even though I just knew we were going to have a girl (mostly because I had fallen in love with a tiny red tu-tu in the window of a downtown boutique), the sonogram proved that we were going to have a very not shy boy -- I mean he was more than happy to show off his manhood.  I don't think my husband could have been more excited.  With tears in his eye, he smiled and said 'I told you so'.  Aah, romance.  We were each so excited to share the news that we argued over who got to take the sonogram photos into work first.  My argument of 'I'm carrying this child so I get to' finally won.
34 weeks
On a snowy Monday evening, we decided to drive to a nearby to town to purchase the remaining necessary items for our little one's arrival.  I was 34 weeks along and nesting like crazy, so the prospect of washing and putting away tiny clothing, opening hundreds of packages and finding the perfect place for each item sounded like my own little slice of heaven.  I am so thankful for foresight.  Friday morning at work I began having contractions.  I called my sister (who, along with my friend Ashley, had been a wonderful source of information and support during my pregnancy) to make sure that I was, in fact, having contractions, and she said it seemed like yes, in fact, I was.  I was certain this was a false alarm, ater all I still had 5 weeks until my due date, and that I would be back to work on Monday.  I couldn't be in labor, I hadn't yet finished my Christmas shopping.
My husband met me at home and drove us 30 minutes to the hospital where I was monitored for several hours in the Obstetrics Observation room.  An infection was diagnosed, antibiotics were given, we were sent home.  We stopped for dinner, happy that our little guy wasn't quite ready to come into this world, noting that he needed to bake for several more weeks.  I also mentioned how glad I was that I wouldn't have to miss my hair appointment the following day.  All the while my contractions were getting stronger, but I was sure the antibiotics would kick in soon and things would slow down.  They didn't.  My husband began grouting our newly laid tile in our kitchen as I began cursing through each heightening contraction.  At 2 a.m. we sped back to the hospital (in between contractions I left a message cancelling my hair appointment... after all it's rude to just not show up).
Labor was not progressing quickly, and I opted to use pain medication to help me rest between contractions.  I had been in labor for more than 33 hours.  The doctor on call (who was not my OB, but was the specialist who helped us become pregnant -- isn't life poetry sometimes?) ordered an epidural and my water to be broken.  Soon it was time to push.  Before our families, also known as The Worry Crew, left the room (at our request), they gathered around as my husband and I both prayed aloud.
The last picture before two became three.
Being administered oxygen.

Stay tuned for the last installment of this series -- Marriage and Motherhood: Part 4.  And remember... you're In Good Company.