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And so it begins (again)…

It’s been a while since I showed my face here (so to speak), I know. I’m just not sure this is the right place for me anymore. Most of my blogging buddies of 2012-13 have moved on, thankfully every last one of them with a baby in their arms (I think). I miss them, but am over-the-moon that they are not stuck in this space of infertility and loss and grief and desperation forever. That’s not to say everyone makes it out of this space, of course. But I’m thankful most do, however hard the journey may be.

All of that to say, my corner of the online world is not the same without them, and not the same now that I have a handful of kids instead of just one. It’s weird to be an infertile blogger and trying to have a baby, all the while there are three children screaming “Mom! Mom! Mom!” from the next room as I write. I recently searched for blogs with a writer who was in a similar situation — trying to have a third or fourth or fifth baby. Do you know how many I found? NONE. Not a single one. And maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but clearly they are few and far between.

And so I don’t know if I’ll continue coming here. Maybe I will, as a journal, meant for me and no one else. Maybe I’ll pop in for an update once in a purple moon. But I imagine there will be a lot of silence from here on out.

And yet, there are a few of you out there, some frequent commenters and other shadow-lurkers, who have read and followed this blog faithfully. First, I say thank you. And as a sign of my gratitude and devotion, I’ll leave you with this:

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Let me just say that it’s still early. I’m not yet 5 weeks. And I’m scared. But just as a blogging friend-turned-in-real-life-friend warned me against earlier this week, I’m trying very, very hard not to let my fear steal my joy away. Today, I’m pregnant. And today, I’m utterly thankful, so happy, and hoping with all I’ve got that, in 8-9 months, there will be a healthy baby in my arms and, finally, our family will be complete.

What a day that will be.

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Reflections at 1 Month

Today, my Skittle is one month old. It was one month ago that I screamed for an epidural that came too late. One month ago that I pushed a beautiful, 8-pound squishy ball of baby from my womb and into this world. One month ago that another dream came true. How is that even possible? As a mother, I am always reminded how quickly time does indeed pass. How fleeting every moment is.

I have spent much of the last month reflecting upon our journey to get here. I have not taken any of what I have for granted, have not wished for anything else but exactly what I have. I have cherished and treasured every gassy smile, every midnight cuddle, every dreamy giggle, every tiny baby sneeze, every time Skittle rests her soft head of hair against my chest and drifts off into a sleep full of whimpers and sighs.

And yet, it can be so bittersweet.

I’m lucky in that pregnancy usually doesn’t take much of a physical toll on me. But emotionally? It’s hard. I know you all understand when I say that I live in constant fear for nine-plus months.  Every day of every month of my pregnancy is spent white-knuckling it, gritting my teeth, just trying to make it safely to the end. And yet, in many ways, I love it. The excitement, the wonder, the joy, the preparations. The baby kicks, the ultrasounds, the growth of my belly. The new ways I find to love and respect my body. The hopes, the dreams, all the photographs of our future that unfold in my head and heart. I love that. All of it. And now, I miss it.

There is a saying I stumbled upon not long ago:

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.” (Erma Bombeck)

And while I did not spend one moment of my pregnancy wishing it away, I do understand what is being said here. Pregnancy, and every little baby, is a miracle. I feel something magical happening inside of me when I’m expecting. Every moment of those nine months feels miraculous.

And of course, every day with Skittle alive and well and smiling at me in my arms is a miracle of its own…but it’s a different kind of miracle. And I become very melancholy when I realize that, every morning, Skittle and Cupcake wake up one day older. They are getting bigger and, with each second that passes, I am drifting farther and farther away from the tiny, miraculous way their lives began.

There is still pregnancy paraphernalia dotted around our house: Two boxes of maternity clothes awaiting their transfer to storage. A body pillow in the corner of our bedroom. My pregnancy scrapbook, four pages away from completion. Maternity photos that I’ve displayed like artwork around our house. The protein bars and shakes that I stocked up on to combat preeclampsia. As I look at it all, I feel pensive. I let out a little sigh. I try to shake the sadness. Sad because those pregnancy days are hard, but they’re beautiful too. And now they’re over. And as an infertile, there is no guarantee that I will ever experience them again. With each pregnancy, I have to wonder if it’s the last. I’m not ready to be done. There are more siblings I want for my daughters. More babies I want to birth. We will try again, in a year or so. But a part of me always has to be prepared to accept that I am allowed only a limited number of miracles and perhaps this pregnancy was my last one. It makes the end harder.

And there’s something else.

I have learned that grief is a windy road with lots of pit stops, u-turns, and dead ends and, unexpectedly, our Teddy Graham has been on my mind more over these last four weeks than he has since the early days of my pregnancy. I have cried for him a handful of times. I can’t say for sure why that is. Maybe it’s the hormones. But having Skittle here in flesh and blood has reminded me of all that I missed out on with Teddy. I get to hold Skittle and watch her grow and change and learn and explore. But Teddy never got that chance. A whole life of possibilities was lost in my miscarriage. This is not something new I’ve learned just recently, but the thought has become vividly raw since Skittle’s birth.

Of course, I would never wish for things to have happened differently now that I have my precious Skittle. As I conceived Skittle just one month (almost to the day) after my unfulfilled Teddy Graham due date, it technically would have been possible for Teddy and Skittle to coexist…but the likelihood of it is next to none. Not only because of irregular (i.e. nonexistent) menstrual cycles being my norm, but because the chances of my letting Honey put his dingdong into my hoo ha only a month after the theoretical delivery of TG would be less than zero. Less. Than. Zero. And yet, if things could be different — if, somehow, I could be holding both Teddy and Skittle today — that’s what I would choose.

I miss Teddy now more than (almost) ever.

But I am not sorry that I ever conceived him, or carried him, or loved him. In fact, it is because of him that I am able to love Skittle so thoroughly. Surely, I would have loved her with all that I had regardless of who or what came before her. But I know and understand and have more now than I would have without infertility and loss. The depths of my love, the intensity of my relief, the strength of my gratitude and joy, is all because of the journey I took to get here, and more specifically, all because of what I lost along the way.

Maybe I’m romanticizing my experience. And again, I could blame it on the hormones. But truly, I think it’s my way of coping. I need there to be a reason for all of the pain I endured. I need to believe that our Teddy was only ever meant to be with us a short time and that, in the end, everything worked out in the most beautiful, perfect way for all of us. Because to think that there woulda/coulda/shoulda been another beautiful, whole, perfect little soul here with us… To think that someone is missing from our lives and forever will be… To think that my child died… That, if things had gone a different way, Skittle would never have come to be… It is almost too much to bear. So I hate that Teddy Graham had to be a sacrificial lamb. I wish there could have been a different, and yet similar, ending. But I am thankful for the sacrifice nevertheless. I have to be…for how else do I make sense of it all?

So yeah…I’ve done a lot of thinking these last few weeks. Thinking and reflecting and crying and sighing. And I’m not sorry for what I’ve gone through. I can say that now that I’ve made it to the other side (a year ago, I would have sung a different tune). In fact, there’s been beauty in the sadness of it. And there’s a certain sense of loss and grief in knowing it has come to an end. I have finished one journey. I am starting another.

So I am now able to appreciate all of the ups and downs of trying to build a family. I have perspective. I can see that the greatness of my struggle has made me a better mother and, hopefully, a better person. And yet, as I look ahead, I am so afraid of going through all of this again. I think I’ve made it very clear to all of you: I am ever so grateful for my two healthy, beautiful girls. But I know our family is not complete. We are not done trying. It’s not over yet. And who knows what we will encounter on the next journey? This one was harder than the last. Will the next one only be harder than this? It is frightening to think of all the horrible possibilities that could lie in wait for us. I am thankful for what my infertility and miscarriage has given me, but good God, I’d rather not go through it a third time.

But I guess that’s another post for another day for another blog for another year.

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Three Weeks, Revisited

** You can read my first ever blog post, the sad version of this one, the one that inspired this post’s title, here. And please be warned…today’s post will be full of baby photos.**

Do you know what can happen in the span of three weeks? Let me tell you…

In three weeks’ time, you can wrap up all the baby preparations that you have spent nearly nine months toiling away at. Review the maternity photos you had taken and marvel at how beautiful they are. Watch the rise and fall of your blood pressure as though it is an Olympic sport that you have bet your life savings upon.  You can endure non-stress tests and blood tests and ultrasounds. You can worry about hypertension and preeclampsia and big babies and breech babies. You can relax during a prenatal massage and stock  your freezer with waffles and casseroles and homemade bread that one day you will hopefully enjoy while holding your newborn in your arms. You can celebrate making it to full term and yet know that even that milestone is no guarantee. Your baby could still leave at any time, with no warning. It only takes a second for a dream to end. You learned that a long time ago, but this time, in this three weeks, you have reason to hope for a different ending.

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." -- 1 Samuel 1:27

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him.” — 1 Samuel 1:27

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My two beautiful girls, each a miracle in their own right

Or…

In the span of three weeks, you can hope that any day now will be The Day. The day your water breaks. The day labor starts. The day your baby comes. You can start doing nipple massage and acupressure and drinking red raspberry leaf tea three times each day to get things going. You can hope each Braxton Hicks is the start of the real thing. You can see your doctor twice a week and suffer through more non-stress tests and feel the sting of disappointment each time you are told your cervix is not making much progress. You can worry your baby is not moving enough and have a panic attack one morning when she doesn’t move at all. You can see your baby on ultrasound multiple times and be told she is getting very big and that she’s head-down each time…until one time, four days after your due date, she is not. She is breech. And you can panic and you can cry and then you prepare for a c-section. And four hours before they cut you open, you can discover your baby has flipped once again and prepare for an induction instead. And then, finally, after hours of intense labor, after a call for an epidural that comes too late, you can push your baby into this world, hear her first cry, and hold her against you. You can feel her flesh and warmth, know she is finally real, and say these words over and over: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Thank you. It is the only prayer you can — or will — say for days and days. And you can weep just at the sight of your baby, so thankful are you for her existence and her health and her perfection.

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one of Daddy’s little girls

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

Or…

In just three short weeks, your child can be born in the middle of the night before the doctor arrives and into the hands of your nurses and you can once again be reminded that there is such a thing as love at first sight. Your husband can cry on your shoulder and you can sob in relief and gratitude. You can introduce your baby to her big sister who keeps saying, “Baby come out of mommy’s tummy!” and then introduce her to friends, her grandparents, your sister, and the world. You can leave the hospital in your new minivan and sit in the backseat so you can watch your baby breathing. You can spend the first two nights at home holding your child because she won’t sleep in the bassinet. You can watch your older daughter blossom as a big sister, exhibiting gentleness, understanding, and tenderness that you never knew she had. You can have your newborn baptized and take her to the park and the mall and Halloween celebrations and out to eat just so everyone can see how beautiful she is. You can get weepy at the thought of SIDS and still be so thankful for all the time she spends sleeping. You can take over a thousand photos in those three little weeks and, every day, you can just feel the total power and weight of your blessing. And you can promise her, over and over, that you will love her and protect her forevermore.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Call me creepy...but I love to watch her sleep. :)

Call me creepy…but I love to watch her sleep. 🙂

It was on this day, three weeks ago, that one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received was placed into my arms. Even though my husband’s new job is turning out not to be all that we hoped for, it’s possible that these have still been the best three weeks of my life. In some ways, it is hard to fathom that it’s only been three measly weeks because it feels as if Skittle has been making her way to us for much longer. That she has been a part of this family, a part of my life, since the beginning of time. And in other ways…it still feels unreal. It is so hard to believe when I wake up in the middle of the night that I need not pause to wait for a kick within my womb. That I only must roll over and reach into the bassinet to know my baby is breathing, that she is alive and well.

Every day, even on the ones when I am so sleep deprived that I can’t form a coherent sentence and I call my baby by the wrong name, I am just so thankful for what I have. Two daughters. I am humbled by it. I don’t know why I get to have them and so many other deserving women don’t. I think of you who are in the trenches every day. And I will never take for granted the miracles that my babies truly are.

And one last photo, just because today is Halloween…

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

Lucky

I am so lucky. Lucky because:

  • My husband goes out of his way to make me feel special and beautiful and valued. For my birthday, he made me a necklace that must have taken forever to create.
  • Cupcake is more than I ever even dared to hope for. She makes me laugh every day, often every hour. This week, she’s been marching around the living room, repeating “Plus sign, Minus sign” over and over — for no reason at all. And today, she asked, “Where’s Burger King?” The only thing is, we have no idea where she came up with that because we never go to BK. Like, never ever.
  • Skittle has been kicking away for days, giving me very little reason to worry about her well-being.
  • Right now, I have a precious puppy dog licking my swollen feet and it feels like an at-home pedicure.
  • When I took a spill on the sidewalk over the weekend, I landed on my hands and knees and not any other precious body parts. The worst that happened was a skinned and bruised knee. Skittle immediately did a few somersaults to let me know that she was okay.
  • My mom just made an appointment for a prenatal massage for me. Her treat.
  • I have some really good friends, one (Leigh) of whom is willing to act as my doula at Skittle’s birth and another (Lillian) whom is my back-up sitter for Cupcake if my sis doesn’t arrive in time when I’m in labor. Us three girls have one last weekend getaway planned for this weekend!
  • So many of my worries end up being unfounded. Worries about Cupcake. About Skittle. About never again conceiving. About our financial security. About my husband’s job security. About my health. I now only pray that my worries about a breech baby, Honey being successful in Sales, and changes that I’ve seen in a mole on my neck (dermatology appointment tomorrow) all prove to be in vain as well.
  • I know God. When I have nothing else, at least I have my faith.
  • My husband was able to find a minivan in great condition at a really good price, and I suddenly have stopped caring that I’m going to be one of those moms. You know…the kind who drives a minivan.
  • My mama is amazing. She has spent the last eleven days with us and, in that time, she cleaned my house, made every meal every day, bathed Cupcake multiple times, let my husband and I have a date night, did five loads of laundry, put away all the groceries I bought, and stocked our freezer with four loaves of bread and countless homemade muffins, cookies, snack bars, and pancakes to enjoy for after Skittle arrives. We also did a number of fun activities together, like the zoo and an amazing little farm and a day trip to a city on the sea, and she paid for it all. I was sad to drop her off at the airport this evening, but am excited for her return in two months or so. It is crazy to think that, the next time I see her, Skittle’s birth will be imminent. As in, I will be nearing my due date, in labor, or our second baby girl will already have arrived. Wow!
  • We have a home that somehow always seems to expand to accommodate new family members and new toys, clothes, and other baby paraphernalia.
  • There always seems to be just enough money to buy what we need to and often even what we want to. Can we be sure money doesn’t grow on trees?

If I was so inclined, I could also tell you all the ways in which I am unlucky. Because many times, in many ways, I feel exactly that. Unlucky. But not today. Not now. Not lately. These days, I am just constantly overcome with a sense of gratitude for my blessings and good fortune. It leaves me feeling very emotional, very unworthy, and very fearful for what might be around the corner. I mean, things can’t stay this good forever, right? But right now, I will just thank my lucky stars and enjoy these days and these gifts and rest assured in knowing that life is full of ups and downs. And even if we do crash and burn, we will rise again.

And if you’re interested, a new bump photo has been posted here.

On Having Another Baby Girl

Aw, thanks so much to all of you for your kind and congratulatory comments on my last post. I had wondered if the style of it might be too silly or too much, but I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy it. You guys know how to make a girl feel good. 🙂 And it will be something so nice to return to in the years ahead, when I long to remember the joy and magic in that day. I’m glad I was able to successfully capture it and share it with every one of you.

And I’m not even sure I can adequately express what it means to me to learn that we have another little girl on the way. I am completely over-the-moon.I am ashamed to admit that I had hoped Skittle is a girl, ashamed because I know so many of you would give anything to have any child, regardless of gender (just as I would have). And ashamed because I feel that after trying so hard, I don’t have the right to hope for Skittle to be anything than exactly what God meant for this baby to be. And I do want Skittle to be exactly who she is, even if that person is someone who is more boy than any boy I might one day have.

But alas, I guess I am only human. Regardless of my infertile ovaries, I have plans for the future still, dreams of what shape our family will take. And while I do truly know that any shape will be beautiful, I have always wanted a house full of little girls. A house full of princess paraphernalia, pink party dresses, stuffed animals and baby dolls. A house full of giggles and laughter, of pigtails and headbands, of hugs and kisses for my husband from Daddy’s Little Girls. I want a sister for Cupcake, someone whom she can grow up with and bond with and understand.  I hope they can share all the moments that I missed out on as a child because I had no siblings and I hope that they can be there for each other as sisters and best friends after Honey and I are both gone (a long, long time from now). Being Cupcake’s mommy, too, has inspired me to want more girls because I have so loved mothering this beautiful child. Over the weeks and months, there has been some grief in seeing my little girl grow up and wondering if I will ever get the joy of raising another girl from infancy, and now I know that I will. I’m such a girly girl myself and feel so comfortable being the mommy of girls, this just felt like the safer choice. And speaking strictly in practical terms, I am glad that I won’t have to fork over a lot of money for another baby wardrobe. We have nearly every one of Cupcake’s outfits that she has ever worn and, while I certainly will not be able to resist buying a few special items for Skittle, it is nice to know that we have all our bases covered and need only buy what we want to and what we can afford.

In a nutshell, that is why I wanted another girl — and why I am beside myself with joy after learning that Skittle is indeed a she. My husband, too, was hoping for this (he was even on Team Pink!), but his glee over our news has been a bit more subdued. The day after our party, we traveled three hours to attend my niece’s baptism and I was still on a high after seeing that pink cake less than 24 hours before. On the drive, I could not stop myself from bouncing in my seat and giggling and saying to him, “We’re going to have another girl.”  He would always give me a small, quiet smile when I said that and one time, I asked him, “Why aren’t you more excited?!” His response: “Well, having a little girl doesn’t change my level of excitement for the pregnancy.” I loved him for saying that, but it got me thinking… Was I more excited because Skittle is a girl and not a boy? Would I have been disappointed if our cake was blue? I started to feel some guilt over that, some sort of worry that maybe my love for this baby is purely conditional. Sometimes, I still feel that way, even though I have since decided that it’s truly a non-issue.  I know that, had our Big Reveal gone the other way and the inside of that cake was blue instead of pink, I would have been just as thrilled, but in a different way. Raising a little boy is different than raising a girl — everyone tells me so — and so are the emotions that are tied to that. And that’s okay.

And I do still hope that, one day, we will have a boy in this family. A sweet, rambunctious, bouncing baby boy that his sisters can dote on. I have always thought I’d have a son — and I have a small collection of baby boy clothes that I have purchased over the years (including while I was in London last October) to prove it. But for now, I am so, so happy that Skittle is a girl. I will admit to this, though: I feel an even bigger sense of responsibility now that I know that she is. I am a fan of Dr. Phil and he always says that the same sex parent is a child’s biggest influence. For my two little girls, that parent is me. And while I do believe that I am a good and decent human being who is always respectful to others, and works hard, and never forgets to send a thank you note, and gives so much of herself to those she loves, and is generous and independent, I think there is still a lot of work I have to do. I’m shy. I’m timid. I don’t often stand up for myself or speak my mind. I have a pathetic body image. I am so insecure. And I do not want my daughters to learn any of that from me. I want them to be strong. I want them to have the confidence and self-worth that I never have. I guess this is why parents always say that their children have made them into better people, because we are all trying to be the parents that we think our kids deserve to have.

In the end, I believe it will all work out in the best possible way. Our family will take the exact shape that it should. I, as a mother, will do the very best that I can, which will have to be enough. And our daughters, and any other children God decides to give to us, will become exactly who they are meant to be, and they will each be incredible in their own beautiful and special ways. Maybe this is too Polyanna optimistic, but such a belief system has not led me astray yet, and so I will hold onto it.

I do also want to add this: I still think of all of you. Whether you are still in the trenches, hoping and praying for a(nother) BFP, or somewhere in the middle of a pregnancy or the parenting of your first child, I think of you. I know I am incredibly lucky to be expecting a second child. That is, in fact, the feeling that has been overwhelming me over the last week: gratitude for my blessings. To have a second baby girl on the way feels as though I have won the lottery and it never escapes me that so many of you are still hoping for your first. And even if you’re holding that first child in your arms right now as you read this, I expect it is never far from your thoughts that this may be your one and only chance. You may not get another. I remember what that is like, and how and scary and sad and lonely it can be, the sort of sorrow it can evoke. You are not forgotten. And I can only hope and pray that, one day, each of you will see your family take the very shape that you hope for, too. xo

A Virtual Gender Reveal Party

** Please note: If you want the experience of a real gender reveal party, take your time reading this. And don’t scroll down! The surprise is towards the bottom. 🙂

On Saturday, we celebrated Skittle by throwing a Gender Reveal Party. And what a party it was! I have been so lucky to have experienced many wonderful, beautiful moments in my life (as well as many sad and difficult ones), but May 18, 2013 is definitely in the Top 10. It was an absolutely perfect day. I have imagined and dreamed of this party for months, long before Skittle was ever conceived. On those days when we were TTC and I felt hopeful, I allowed  myself to picture this day when we would be surrounded by people we loved and we’d cut into a pretty cake and get the sweetest surprise of all. And much to my wonder, that’s exactly how our party went. Nothing went wrong. Everyone was a perfect addition to the party dynamic. Cupcake didn’t have any meltdowns or scream at the people she didn’t know well. There was no lull in the conversation. It could not have gone any better, not even by one bit, and that makes me so extraordinarily happy.

And do you remember this post, when I was planning my daughter’s birthday party and was disappointed to learn that so many people wouldn’t be coming? I was so hurt and I felt rejected and unloved. Well, this weekend, I am happy to report that there was not even a smidgen of that. Of the thirteen individuals/families, we invited, only three did not come. We had a house full of fifteen adults, one toddler, two newborns, and two dogs (only one of which was ours, thanks to my in-laws who insisted on bringing their gigantic pooch along, too). Included in our guests were my dear friends Lillian and Leigh, my mom and her two best friends (whom I have known since I was a toddler), my in-laws, one of my aunts, one of my cousins and her family, Honey’s best bud (who was the only one to bring a gift — and it was amazing!), and my sister and her mom. So many people were there to celebrate with us, and that meant more to me than anything else possibly could have. I felt so loved, so valued, and I think Skittle did too for all the kicking s/he did!

And so today, friends, I invite you to a Virtual Gender Reveal Party in our own little corner of the ALI blogosphere… Won’t you join us? No RSVP needed!

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Come in, come in! A white board by the front door is adorned with one of Skittle’s recent ultrasound photos and the sign reads: Almost time to see, which will it be? A bouncing baby he or a pretty little she? We’re so excited you’ll be here as we learn the Big News! If you’re in a hurry, feel free to rush through the party and see the big revealing NOW…but we do hope you’ll take your time, sit for a while, and celebrate all the joys that a party like this can bring. Please leave your shoes at the door.

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Your hosts are wearing:

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The dress was an Easter gift from my mom and you may remember the necklace from this post. I can’t wait to add an October (or September?) birthstone this fall! I also wore a pregnancy loss remembrance bracelet, in memory of our Teddy Graham. He has not been forgotten. And in the spirit of the cute owls that helped to inspire our party theme, Cupcake is wearing this for our party:

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Isn’t she cute? And no detail has been forgotten, friends, right down to the matching Mama & Daughter toenail polish:

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Would you like something to eat? To drink? There’s plenty and I don’t want you going hungry! Perhaps you’d like some pita chips to eat with our delicious feta dip? Or some crackers, cheese, and nitrate-free deli meat? Or do you care for the Trader Joe’s chocolates, which are my personal favorite? And we have punch and spa water to quench your thirst! Please help yourself and make yourselves at home. Our home is crowded, but there are plenty of places to sit. Get comfortable! All the fun will begin soon.

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In case you haven’t noticed, we have gone with a pink and blue color theme for this party. It may not be original, but it sure was easy. When you’re pregnant and have a toddler at home, you have to simplify somewhere! But there are other decorations you may want to notice, too. Photos from our six ultrasounds are hung on the wall. And this posterboard, too:

There are thirteen Old Wives' Tales listed here...7 point to GIRL, and 6 point to BOY. Not much help, are they?

There are thirteen Old Wives’ Tales listed here…7 point to GIRL, and 6 point to BOY. Not much help, are they?

My husband also bought some flowers from a market in the city. He thought he was buying pink and blue flowers, but when he arrived home, I informed him they are pink and purple. Oh, well. Aren’t they beautiful? I especially love the calla lily.

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And of course, there’s the cake table (the crowning glory of our party), setting here to build the anticipation and intrigue. Or perhaps is it here to anticipate us all? I may not have been the one to bake and decorate the cake (we went to a professional) or even the one to design it (I have Pinterest to thank for that!), but it’s still my pride and joy because it was exactly what I wanted. I am completely tickled with how perfect it is! What do all of you think?

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If you have a moment in between bites and sips of our refreshments, we hope you’ll take some time to participate in the activities we’ve planned:

Please offer your best name AND worst name suggestions! We'll read them aloud and have some fun.

Please offer your best name AND worst name suggestions! We’ll read them aloud and have some fun.

And here's a silly little game...give us your best guess for how many pink candies in the jar and how many blue. Prizes for the two winners!

And here’s a silly little game…give us your best guess for how many pink candies are in the jar and how many blue. Prizes for the two winners!

There’s also a voting board! Please cast your vote and wear your sticker with pride, though don’t be surprised if Cupcake tries to steal it from you…

A little peek at our REAL names. Can you guess who's who?

A little peek at our REAL names. Can you guess who’s who?

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There’s still a little time before the cake cutting, so let’s play! Last call to add names to the suggestion basket… (And if any of you really do have names you’d like to contribute, please leave them in the comments. We’re still open to any and all ideas!) A few of the best BOY names that are given: Jarrett, Hayden, Ryan, Nicholas. And a few of the worst: Horace, Bubba, Fred, Billy Bob, Saddam, Gunther (even though that one makes me think of Friends!), Oscar, Aiden, Elmer, Hugo. And a few of the best GIRL names: Isabella, Olivia, Madison, Hope, Quinn, Charlotte, Roxy. And a few of the worst ones: Beulah, Henrietta, Macaroon, Rhino, Hermione, Olive, Seven, Sapphire, Griselda. I’m so thankful for all of these suggestions…they’ve given me a lot to think about!

And on to the candy count…we have two winners! There are 318 pink candies and 283 blue candies in that jar and we are proud to announce that the winners are my friend Leigh and my mama respectively, even though neither of them were really that close. A $10 Starbucks gift card as a prize for each!

Our house is crowded, our living room is full, the food is half-eaten and dirty plates litter our counter….but there is laughter in this room. Warmth. Smiles. Loud conversation. My mom is holding my cousin’s little guy, just six weeks old. My 10-week old niece is asleep in her carseat in the corner. I can hear our little dog scratching in the back of the house, because we’ve locked her into the bathroom for a couple hours and she can smell the food. My sister and cousin are discussing their recent adventures in new mommyhood. Honey’s buddy is giving my mom a hard time about hating the name Oscar.  Lillian is giving me all the details about her recent trip to the coast and Leigh is reading a story to Cupcake, who has finally decided that all the people here are her new best friends. I do ask that you please ignore the constant chatter of my mother-in-law, who has a way of interrupting every conversation. And if my father-in-law starts to tickle Cupcake into a frenzy of shrieking laughter, I have earplugs I can hand out.  But can you tell that everyone is having a great time? I almost hate to interrupt all the fun, but there is a little business to get to…

Please, won’t you all gather ’round the table? It’s the moment we have all waited for! The anticipation is killing me. I can’t stop myself from clapping my hands and bouncing on my tippy-toes as I wait for everyone to drop what they’re doing and join us in the kitchen…  But alas, it is time to cut the cake!

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Can you feel the suspense? With Honey and Cupcake beside me, I saw (literally) through the tough fondant and feel my heart clench as I catch a glimpse of the color. There are cheers when I bring up the cake cutter to make a second cut and colored crumbs come into sight.

And it’s a….

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…..drumroll please….

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GIRL!!!!!!!!

A girl, you guys. Skittle is a she! (I’ve posted the proof on our Skittle page.) I have a post planned to explain all the ins and outs of how I feel about this, but suffice it to say, I am on Cloud 9. Truly! I could not be happier and, in that magical moment when we learn a little bit more about our newest family member, the emotion in the room is palpable. There were tears in my eyes as I hug Honey.

The photo may be blurry, but I think it says it all.

The photo may be blurry, but I think it says it all.

I am over-the-moon with our news and can think nothing more than of the little baby girl kicking away in my womb, but before all of you leave and this party comes to an end, there are a few more things to get out of the way…

Team Blue (a.k.a. The Losing Team), would you please put your names in one basket? And Team Pink (The Winning Team!), would you please put yours in the other? A name will be drawn from both and there are prizes involved!

First, Team Blue (of which there are eight players, plus Cupcake and myself, who don’t really count)…

One of my mom's closest friends wins the jar of delicious artificially-flavored candies!

One of my mom’s closest friends wins the jar of delicious artificially-flavored candies!

It was my husband's idea to use a Prego jar for this!

It was my husband’s idea to use a Prego jar for this!

And for Team Pink (just five players, plus Honey)…

My lovely Lillian is the one to win this fantastic prize -- a basket of tons of goodies, including chocolate, organic hand lotion, a picture frame, a bottle of Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target!

My lovely Lillian is the one to win this fantastic prize — a basket of goodies, including chocolate, organic hand lotion, some of my favorite teas, a picture frame, a bottle of Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target!

I hate for parties to end, and this one was so fun! Thank you all for coming, for celebrating with us, for sharing in our joy. Forever and ever, you all will have been part of one of the sweetest moments in my life.

I feel a little sorrow now that the day is over and the party has passed, now that this long-anticipated event has come and gone. I can’t help but be filled with melancholy, knowing that unlike with Christmas (which also makes me a little desperately sad afterwards), things like this don’t come once a year. Really, I don’t suspect that I will ever have another party like this in my lifetime. That’s a little hard to think about.

And yet, there are other things to look forward to. Other good memories that will follow. So much awaits us right now!

In fact, I believe the best is yet to come.

Second Trimester

I woke up this morning feeling essentially the same as I always do. Tired. Overwhelmed by my to do list. Hopeful and happy and still a little scared. Anxious to weigh myself and once again search for Skittle’s heartbeat. Nothing has changed…and yet in some ways, everything has because, today I am 13 weeks pregnant.

I am in my second trimester.

My belly is getting bigger. I have made the transition to maternity clothes. We finally told the news to my husband’s parents yesterday, on his father’s birthday, which was very special. I have already started planning our gender reveal party and searching for a maternity and newborn photographer — those things that seem so abstract because this baby is still so small, and yet need to be done because time is ticking whether this whole dream of a pregnancy continues to feel surreal or not.

I know things can still go wrong — trust me, I know — and I remain vigilant and guarded. I often turn to Honey or my mom and ask, “Do you really think the baby is okay?,” even though I have no reason to believe s/he is not. And I mostly still think in terms of “if” and not “when” Skittle will come. But that has not stopped my hope and heart from soaring. And it has not stopped me from taking great leaps forward in preparing for the addition to our family. Six months seems like so long to go, and yet not enough time to prepare.

But somehow I know we will make it through. The days may drag, but looking back, it will all be a blur. I will say, “it went by so fast.” I know this because I’ve been here before. And because I can say exactly this about the last three months. And because I have watched my daughter grow and cannot believe how 28 months have just disappeared and, in the blink of an eye, she has morphed from a teeny tiny being to a sassy little thing that says “No like lady” about every female stranger we meet.

This time will fly indeed. That is the only thing I can be sure of right now. But I intend to embrace it and enjoy it with all that my heart allows.