Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pregnancy: This Time Around

Wow. Today I’m 29 weeks pregnant--in my final trimester--with less than three months to go until our baby girl arrives in July. I’m absolutely thrilled, but still somewhat in disbelief. With Caleb, we’d waited so long to become parents, it was almost as if we’d been “expecting” him for years.

But this was a complete surprise. I never could’ve imagined or expected such a miracle. It’s almost too good to be true--I even feel guilty, because I know so many people still waiting for their miracle. Isn’t it their turn?

I don’t know why this second miracle pregnancy happened so quickly, but this little girl must be meant for our family right now, and so many things have fallen into place--my health, great doctors, our financial situation (thanks also to Ben graduating and years of working and saving)--to make it possible. It’s all through the hand of God, and we’re in absolute awe.

I know well enough that not all pregnancies end with healthy babies. I’ve lost three. But just like I did with Caleb, I’ve tried not to fear what I can’t control and instead trust in God’s plan. Every day and week and month that this baby continues to grow inside of me is a miracle and a gift.

Now that I’m in my last trimester, it’s all becoming real, even if it still feels too good to be true, and it’s time to get ready for this little girl. It’s as terrifying as it is exciting.

One thing I feel like I need to “check off my list” is to share some memories from this pregnancy to look back on later. I’m so glad I did this with my pregnancy with Caleb; I’ve loved going back and reading about all those new, exciting, and scary first-time feelings. You can read about my pregnancy with Caleb here.

Finding Out We Were Expecting Again

Funny, NO ONE kept calm.
The moment we found out we were expecting another baby was that magical moment I dreamed about so many times, after tossing so many negative pregnancy tests in the trash over those first 5 years of our marriage. With Caleb, I found out by myself in a doctor’s office, and I thought it meant I was having another miscarriage, so it wasn’t the happiest moment.

All those years I’d imagined getting that positive test at home, running and shouting for Ben, then hugging and crying and laughing with excitement. And that’s just how it happened this time, except Caleb was in the middle of all the hugging and laughing and crying. It was completely unexpected and absolutely beautiful.

It’s Different This Time Around

Not surprisingly, this pregnancy has been very different from my pregnancy with Caleb. Mainly, it’s not as relaxing or enjoyable, even as exciting as it is. I’m putting so much energy every day into chasing and playing with and taking care of my little boy, it’s hard to feel like I’m taking care of my little girl and myself the way I was able to with Caleb. I know this is only a glimpse of what it will be like once she arrives, so it’s good to start learning that balance, but it’s definitely more stressful than my pregnancy with Caleb.

The upside is that I was much less nauseous with this pregnancy. I threw up only a few times the entire first trimester, while with Caleb I was throwing up a few times a day. It was miserable and I could barely function, but this time around I could keep most food down, and we only ran out of clean underwear a couple times. It wasn’t too bad, but I was definitely glad when it was over.

Our sweet little babe at 12 weeks

My little bump at 14 weeks

It’s A Girl!

Again, I know every pregnancy is different, but there were some early signs that this one might be a girl: I was emotional and moody, breaking out like in high school, and craving sugar cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I don’t even like sugar cookies, or sweets for that matter, except chocolate). With Caleb, I was on an emotional high, had the clearest skin of my life, and craved hot dogs and ham sandwiches.

Even high-def 3D ultrasound couldn't show the gender...
Those legs were locked down (at 15 weeks)
I expected to have my suspicions confirmed during one of our early ultrasounds--after all, we found out Caleb was a boy at 13 weeks. Just to give some background, I have ultrasounds every 2-4 weeks during the first trimester, since I’m considered “high-risk” due to my 3 previous miscarriages. We went in for ultrasound after ultrasound, but time after time I was disappointed--this baby was too modest! I guess you could say that was another sign she was a girl (everyone said so, anyway).

And sure enough, during our 20 week ultrasound, which is the standard hour-long ultrasound for all pregnancies, the technician had to try 3 separate times and spent several minutes coaxing our baby into position to see the gender. But once she was into position, it became clear--it’s a girl!

Girly Stuff

And yes, we have a name picked out: Lydia. And we already call her “Lydia,” too. I always thought it was a little strange when people named their babies before they born, but I get it now; it just feels natural this time. But who knows? Maybe we’ll change our minds when she gets here. With Caleb, we didn’t decide on his name until a few hours after he was born, and even then it took a few weeks to feel like it really fit. So we’ll see.

I’m not too worried about the name, though. Mainly I worry about girl stuff: doing hair (um, I have no idea...I’ve worn my hair pretty much the same way every day for 20 years), drama (I don’t do drama), boys (let’s not even go there), and other uncharted territory: princesses, Barbies, coordinating outfits (boys are so easy...throw on some jeans and a shirt and go!). I guess it’s silly, but the idea of taking care of two kids is already a little overwhelming without worrying about how I’m going to make that mother-daughter connection. Maybe she’ll be more of a tomboy like me. My dad always said I was the best kind of girl: one who liked to be clean and pretty, but didn’t mind getting dirty.

She's got my nose, at least...

Also, I was worried about where I was going to find girl clothes, since we have dozens of nephews and collected so many hand-me-downs for Caleb that we didn’t have to buy any clothes for his whole first year. It was great! But oh my goodness, I think I already have about twice as many hand-me-downs for Lydia, and more to come. I have so many generous friends who have cleared out their garages and closets for me, and I’m so grateful!

I even have an adorable bedding set from my sister-in-law’s sweet friend, so I can dress up the nursery to be a little more “girly.” We’re going to paint the room a pale yellow and change out the drapes for something more feminine, too. (To see what the nursery, which is still Caleb’s room, looks like now, click here then scroll to the bottom.)

Other Details I Want to Remember

Overall, she seems much more laid-back than Caleb so far. She moves more like a wave or a little fish swimming around, while Caleb bounced and kicked and punched all day long. That’s the other thing: he moved mostly during the day, and she moves more at night. For Caleb, that pattern continued after he was born--he’s always been very active, but a pretty good sleeper at night--so we’ll what that means for this little girl.

I guess the last thing worth mentioning--but I’m not sure if it’s worth remembering--is how I’ve been feeling really on edge with this pregnancy. Throughout my pregnancy with Caleb, I had a strong reassurance from God that he would be born healthy, which helped calm my anxiety, and I didn’t worry at all how I was going to handle nights with no sleep and days with no shower. I was ready for that.

I don’t feel that same reassurance with this one, so I can’t help worrying that something is going to happen to her. I just want her to be okay, but then I have no idea how I’m going to handle having two little ones once she gets here. I’m worried I’ll be a total failure and everything will crumble into utter chaos, and then everyone will be unhappy. I just feel on edge sometimes, like I’m in for something I can’t handle, whatever it is.

Now, as her due date gets closer, I’m actually feeling less on edge and more excited and confident. I know it’s going to be crazy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be just as wonderful as when Caleb joined our family. As our friend Luke put it, “It’s more crazy, but it’s more awesome.” And as far as we know, she’s healthy, so like I said at the beginning, I’m trying to trust God rather than worry about what I can’t control.

So again, it's terrifying, but exciting. Either way, she's an absolute miracle, and we are so grateful for her. We'll see what the next few months bring!

At 22 weeks

That big round thing is my placenta; it's right in front,
which means I can't feel her moving as well sometimes.

She's resting on the placenta like a pillow,
with her hands tucked under her cheek.

With her little tush in the air (water?), at 20 weeks

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year (Plus, Exciting News!)

Dear Family & Friends,

Happy New Year! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Consider this our electronic New Year's Greeting.

So much has happened in our family over the last year or so! After Ben graduated from pharmacy school in May 2013, we moved to Boise, where we’ve been very happy since.

The following November, Caleb Benjamin joined our family. 

Caleb is now almost 14 months old, and he’s constantly walking, talking, running, climbing, exploring, laughing, learning, and all together making life both fun and exhausting. We call him “The Amazing Caleb,” and he’s truly the most amazing part of our life.

This past August, we bought our first home. It’s been blissful, in spite of the piles of boxes we’ve yet to unpack. But we love the extra space--especially Caleb--and, above all, we love the homey, cozy, peaceful feeling here. We’d love to have you visit!

And this July, we’ll become a family of four! Our second miracle baby is due July 12, 2015, exactly 20 months apart from Caleb. It still feels too good to be true. But everything is going smoothly, and our doctor is exceptional--he loves watching this little one grow almost as much as we do.

So, our family is certainly growing! We love you and hope to see many of you in the coming year. God bless!


Ben, Jenny, Caleb (1) & Baby (Coming July 2015)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Home Sweet Home

When I moved to Idaho nearly ten years ago for college, I never would’ve thought then that I’d find my dream home here. I came here for an adventure, and what an adventure it’s been!

And although it wasn’t the adventure I imagined--marrying an Idaho boy and leaving behind my home and family to make a life here--I know it’s exactly what God had in mind. My life here so far has tested me and brought me times of both pain and unimaginable joy. There were also times I wasn’t sure if it was worth it, but I see now that what I’ve gained is much greater than what I’ve given up. That’s always God’s way.

So here we are, and we’re here to stay...and we’re very happy! We feel extremely blessed to have a home of our own. Things have fallen into place over the last year in a way that’s nothing short of miraculous.

Update on Caleb

As you already know, we welcomed our miracle baby, Caleb, into our family last November--almost a year ago. He’s the healthiest, handsomest, smartest, most amazing little boy anyone could dream of (that’s the absolute truth, no bias here)! He’s a constant source of joy to us, and we love watching him grow. If you’ve been following the blog over the last year, you’ve been watching him grow, too!

Update on Ben

Also, Ben is now working in a job that he loves, where he helps manage medications for patients in assisting living or nursing homes. This opportunity practically fell into our laps after Ben had looked everywhere from Alaska to South Carolina for a better start in his pharmacy career.

He’d been working a hectic schedule as a floating (fill-in) pharmacist at a grocery chain here in Boise for about a year. And even though we were very grateful for that job, especially when so many of his classmates had struggled to find work anywhere, much less in Idaho where they were licensed, it wasn’t what Ben wanted to be doing long-term.

His current job is exactly what he’d had in mind all through pharmacy school--his “dream job.” I know we don’t always receive such direct answers to prayers, but this one absolutely was.

We’d been feeling like we were supposed to stay in Boise, but after months of searching, we weren’t finding any real job opportunities here (or anywhere in the state, for that matter). Ben even put in hours of studying to retake his exams, then traveled across the country to interview and earn his license in two additional states. We figured if we knocked on as many doors as we could, God would open the right ones. And, of course, He did!

After Ben met a fellow alum of his pharmacy school at an alumni event--only through Providence, as we were halfway out the door with a cranky, tired baby--Ben kept in touch with him. One day Ben stopped in to visit him at the private pharmacy he owned, and the man offered him a job a couple weeks later, saying he knew from the start that Ben was the kind of person he wanted to have working for him. Smart man! And, like I said, it was a direct answer to prayer. 

Update on Me

I’ve got my “dream job,” too, and the truth is, life is better right now than I ever imagined it could be. But I know there will still be hard times and struggles--maybe even worse than I can imagine. Life has its good times and bad times, and so right now I’m just trying to soak up every moment of bliss.

About the House

And this is where life gets really fun. After Ben started his new job in June, we knew we’d be staying in Boise for at least a few years, and since we’d been saving for a house for quite a while already, we started house hunting. We didn’t think we’d find a house so soon, but as soon as we walked into this place (in fact, even before then, when I saw it online), I felt a distinct warmth and immediately felt like "home."

In spite of this, we ruled it out at first, because it was more than what we were looking for. But we couldn’t stop thinking about it, so after a few sleepless nights and many prayers, we decided to make an offer. Negotiating came with a surprising amount of stress and uncertainty. Once they accepted our offer, though, everything fell into place. It wasn’t effortless--the process was a lot of work--but we found an exceptional lender (thanks, Lisa!), who gave us an unmatched rate on a 15-year mortgage because of our good credit, plus they were able to close within 30 days and saved us several thousand dollars in closing costs. Amazing!

So, miraculously, we ended up with about the same mortgage and closing costs that we’d planned on, only we ended up with more “house” for our money. We can’t take any credit for that--we owe it all to God! He must’ve meant for us to be in this house, in this place, in this neighborhood at this time.

The house is a little over 20 years old, but it’s in almost perfect condition, thanks to the original owners, which is what really appealed to Ben. This is the man who, at age 30, has kept all of his Lego sets perfectly preserved from the very first time he built them as a kid (“Lord Business,” as he likes to refer to himself now, has never taken them apart and never plans to...if that name doesn’t make sense to you, go watch The Lego Movie). But yes, Ben can be particular, and he appreciates when things are kept nice, so this was the first house that Ben was actually impressed and not disappointed with in some way.

I was impressed, too, of course, although there’s nothing about this house that’s designed solely to be impressive. There’s nothing showy about it--no crown molding or granite or stainless steel or trendy tiling--and I wasn’t interested in any of that, anyway. It’s just comfortable. It’s just what a home should be--a safe haven for my family, a place that’s welcoming to others, and just roomy enough to accommodate visitors. And since we’re on the other side of the country from our furthest loved ones, and still several hours from our nearest ones (with the exception of Christie & Co.), that’s very important to us.

Solid wood, hand-carved door...I wish I knew the story behind it.

The porch (taken before we bought the house)

We have our own white wooden swing here now, as well as matching rockers on the porch. One day we'll sit here and watch Caleb play basketball or ride his bike in the cul-de-sac.

A lot of empty space right now...2100 square feet of it...4 bedrooms, 2 that have nothing in them yet, and 2 1/2 baths
We used camping chairs and a folding table as furniture for a few weeks. The laundry/mud room is off the kitchen where the fridge is (leading to the garage), and the family room is behind whoever took the picture. Also, the half-bath is off a little hallway to the left, and the pantry is across from the island. The cabinets are in good shape, but the finish is getting worn in places, so eventually we'll refinish these in a more neutral tone.
Here are the stairs. And Ben's backside. Ow-ow.
The master bath (taken before we bought the house)
The deck off the master bedroom
There's a road behind that fence, so that's the downside. We don't love the sound of cars and the occasional siren going by, but it still feels private, thanks to the trees and fence.

The other half of the backyard...and Ben looking hot on that work call

More of Ben's backside, I mean, the backyard...

Room to play!

Our own piece of heaven

Caleb approves!

Just because I love this photo

So while we were originally looking for more of a 5-year starter home, we ended up in our 10-15 year raise-a-family home...maybe even our stay-forever home, although our next dream is to own a little property in the country somewhere. Anyway, I guess since we’ve been living in apartments for most of our 6 years together, we kind of skipped the “5-year starter home.”

It’s what my dad would refer to as an “embarrassment of riches” other words, I feel so blessed, I’m a little embarrassed about it. Ok, so that’s actually a phrase used to mock opulence, but I like the way my dad uses it. I know some people see marriage, a house and a family as a package deal that comes with life, and if that’s all you look to get out of life, you’ve somehow settled. But there are no guarantees in life, and how many people live without love, without family, without a real home, and without even basic things like safety and freedom? I thank God for everything that I have, and I try to never take it for granted.

I’ve seen again and again that God has a plan for every one of His children. He is constantly blessing us in ways to help us fulfill His purposes for us. Sometimes those blessings bring happiness and sometimes they bring sorrow, but they always lead to gratitude and joy when we recognize God’s Hand in all of it and see how much He truly loves us. And whether we get out of life what we hope to or not--while some dreams will come true and others will be shattered--when we live with Him again, it will be as if we've only just begun to live out our truest joys and sweetest dreams. It will truly be Home Sweet Home.