Monday, July 22, 2013

And Baby Makes Three

Has it really been almost an entire year since I wrote a blog? Holy smokes! I guess we have a lot of catching up to do!

In my last post, I told you that we had made the heartbreaking, yet totally clear, decision to place the adoption process on hold. At the time, we had no clue how God was going to bring us a child, but we both had an almost overwhelming feeling that He would. Eventually. So we waited. We prayed, and waited. I began to feel that God was going to bless us with a biological child. I can't explain the peace I had about it, but I just knew it was going to happen.

In December, we visited our Reproductive Endocrinologist again and began a new round of oral treatments and injections. Actually, only 1 injection. We went through all of the infertility monitoring just as we did before...ultrasounds, lots of blood tests, and plenty of medications.

April 12, 2013, we got confirmation from the Doctor that we were indeed PREGNANT! Before that phone call from the doctor, I took no less than 15 home pregnancy tests, and I had convinced myself that every one of them must be broken. The day itself is still very clear in my mind, yet a blur at the same time. I took the day off for my emotional well being (I was an utter wreck to say the least) as I went in for my blood test and then tried to occupy myself while I waited very nervously for the phone to ring. I broke down on the phone with the nurse. Bless her heart, I'm sure she thought I was nuts.

The first trimester was difficult, but pretty smooth. I worried constantly that I would miscarry. I tried to prepare myself for that. However, God had other plans. I turned 18 weeks pregnant today, and we couldn't have asked for a much better pregnancy thus far. No major complications, very little morning sickness (only nausea and very small appetite), no bleeding or anything else to cause concern. The worst part has been the extreme fatigue. The first trimester I was miserably exhausted and could barely function. It has been much better in the second trimester, but I still get tired pretty easily. We've had several ultrasounds and so far our baby BOY is doing just fine!

The doctor does have me monitoring my blood sugars since I have PCOS and Insulin Resistance (those 2 go hand-in-hand and are the main reason we had such trouble conceiving). She just wants me to avoid becoming a full fledged Gestational Diabetic.  They also make me have a growth ultrasound every 4 weeks to be sure baby doesn't get too big, as is very common with Gestational Diabetics, but I don't mind seeing him more often ;). We will have another ultrasound this Thursday to measure his growth. I always look forward to seeing that sweet face!

I wish I had started blogging about my pregnancy from the beginning, but I definitely want to keep a record of lil' dude's first years. Of course, I keep a journal of letters that I have written to him since the day we found out, and I am a scrapbooker so I will have plenty of documentation, but blogging seems like a fun way to keep family and friends updated on his life, and our life as we enter an entirely new journey of parenthood!

I cannot even begin to put into words how excited we are, and how incredibly thankful we are to God for this most amazing and precious gift! HE IS FAITHFUL! I can't say I always felt like He was faithful, and I can't say I never doubted that we would be parents, but I've always known that God had his reasons. We may never ever know what those reasons are. We may never know why He led us through the adoption process only to have us stop it, other than the fact that we worked through some pretty major issues during the last 3.5 years that we otherwise wouldn't have. But He is good, and He is true, and He does have it all under control!

John 15:7 "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hold It

Well, it’s been quite a while since I wrote. I took a sabbatical from Blogger for a bit. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say…how much, how little, and how to put it. I wasn’t sure how public I wanted to make it. But, I decided since I’ve been getting questions about it recently, I’d just put it out there so you all know what’s up.

About a month ago, we made the incredibly hard decision to put the adoption on hold. This decision did not come easily, for obvious reasons, but we felt that it was the best decision at the time. That being said, I have absolutely no idea where our adoption journey will go from here….whether it is dead in the water, or whether God will lead us to pick it up at a later date. Not a clue. What I do know is that for the first time in a VERY long time, we are putting God in complete control. We are learning big lessons about real faith. Hard lessons. Heartbreaking lessons.

I’m sure you’re wondering why we made the decision. Truth is, there are several. True to myself, I’ll share some of them in list form.

A) We’ve had some ongoing issues with our agency. Since being placed on the list 2 years ago for Birthmothers to view, the only time we have received personal contact from our agency to check on us was last August when it was time for us to do our annual update. Never one phone call or email. In the last 2 years, we’ve had 3 different social workers, and the office staff has changed multiple times. Also, our annual update was initially supposed to cost $250 paid to the agency. At the time we went through our homestudy, we were told we would only have to do physicals, pet vaccinations, etc each year…only those things you do annually anyway. However, once we were approved the agency changed its policies. We now have to do fingerprints, background checks, and a home visit every year. We miss 1-2 days of work to do all of this, and what was supposed to cost $250 cost us $500 last year. In addition to THAT, when we were first approved, the amount we would have to pay at placement was $7,000. Keep in mind we have received a $5,000 grant from Show Hope, so all we had left to save was $2,000 plus attorney fees. At last years update, our placement fee was increased to $9,100 and would be increased again this year. I say this not to make the agency look bad or to sway anyone’s opinion of them, this is just our experience.

B) The federal government has done away with the adoption tax credit in which we were depending. Previously, the year you finalize an adoption, you could claim a $13,000 tax credit, and if that is an overage, you would get it back as a return. Most families take out a loan to pay for the adoption, and then use that money to pay it off and it GREATLY reduces your out of pocket costs. As it stands right now, you get a $13,000 credit, but it will only make your balance owed $0.00, you do not receive any overages as a return. Next year, it is going down to around $6,000. This leaves us with $10,000 in debt, and if we continue with the adoption, we will be left with more than $20,000 that we will receive no help to pay off. Yes, I realize some people think it’s nuts to go into debt for an adoption, and that’s fine…but I respectfully ask that you keep that thought to yourself. It does not help our situation and doesn’t help my heart. (Yes, people do voice their “opinions” about adoption and it gets quite disheartening). I don’t know very many people who can walk in and write a $20,000 check for an adoption. We certainly couldn’t.

C) Since starting to lose weight (I’ll do an update post on that later), well, let’s just say I’ve had some “signs” that my body is changing. Without getting too personal, we’ll say my body is doing some things it has never done on it’s own. I’ve been seeking medical treatment, and for the time being I am on birth control for a short term. Don’t get excited…I’m not sure what it means, or if anything will happen. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. But it’s hard.

Now, all of that being said, we both had a very clear instruction from God to put this on hold. We still aren’t totally sure why, but my hope is that He is planning to bless us. Don’t know when, don’t know how. But His word tells me to come to Him expectantly. This is where we are learning to fully trust him and him alone. I don’t “know” that God is going to give us a child, and I certainly don’t know HOW he will, but I trust that He will…in HIS time. Some days that is harder to accept than others. Some days are incredibly difficult. Others, my heart is full of hope and peace.

I read a book called Waiting On God by Cherie Hill. Excellent read about how God uses these times…the quiet times…to draw us nearer to Him. Even when it feels like He has left us high and dry, He is right by our side, waiting for His perfect moment. I take comfort in that.

Prayers are much appreciated as we continue on this journey. We are so grateful for all the support of so many.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I don't know about the rest of you, but I really struggle with joy. I get so caught up in my ever-lengthening to-do list, work related frustrations, and just wishing for "something better" that I tend to miss so many blessings right in front of me. I have real trouble with envy. I always want a bigger, nicer house on a bigger piece of land, a better job (or a job that I actually enjoy), money to decorate my house with, money to redo my craft room, money for new furniture, clothes...the list goes on and on.  Point is, there are always so many things that I want, that I fail to be thankful for the things I have.

I wake up in the morning dreading going to work. Then, I spend an hour driving to work, 8 hours waiting for work to be over, another hour+ driving home, then I spend the rest of the evening either being tired or being frustrated with all the things I need to get done in the measly 3-4 hours I get at home. THEN, I go to bed, anxious to get to sleep so I can do it all over again the next day.

I'm not sure why this is such a struggle for me. I wasn't raised "with money." And I certainly wasn't taught that money or things were important. I suppose it's just part of our culture.  Our worth in America is determined by how nice our house, cars, and clothes are, or by how many degrees we have, and how much income is listed on our Tax Returns. While I know this is absolutely wrong and ludicrous, I still fall prey to that mentality.

That being said, I've come up with a new goal for myself. That goal is simple: to find the joy in my journey. I want to be that person who is completely content and happy, no matter what my circumstances. I want to be a woman who is perfectly satisfied, no matter how "simple" my life is. I'm only 27, but I am so incredibly tired of feeling like I need a certain car or house, or that I need to look a certain way in order to fit in. The Bible actually tells us NOT to fit in!

No, I'm not planning to go live in an Amish community with no electricity where I use an outhouse. I just mean that I don't want to live my entire life waiting for something better. I want to WANT what I have. I want to simply be thankful and happy with all of the things that make me smile.  I don't want to allow traffic, rude people, the bad-mood-boss, or that lazy coworker to steal my joy! So, it's time for me to take hold of my own happiness and stop letting society tell me what I need to be happy. I'm not really sure what that entails yet, but I know it's a lifelong journey.

I have a perfect example of Joy. I have a little girl in my class on Wednesday nights at church. Lily. Now, if you've ever met Lily, you'll know what I am talking about. If not, it's hard to put her into words. Lily is a very active, happy, excited, and joyful 2-year-old. It doesn't take much to make her happy. She rarely throws a fit. She's just....HAPPY! She's happy to see you. She's happy when she says "I love your hair!" She will tell a random stranger "I like you!" She sees a baby and exclaims "Aw! How sweet! What a cute baby!" She sees a flower and gets really excited about it. She makes a joke and cracks herself up, bursting out in laughter. She's just plain happy.

I'm not sure when we move from that childlike joy to the adult-like stress and disappointment, but I want to be more like Lily. I want to find my joy in Christ, and find happiness in the simple things.

So, what makes you happy? :-)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break

This weekend was so wonderful. Brandon took Sunday off and I took Monday off so we could have a few days to spend together....sort of a Spring Break. On Saturday, I drove to Cookeville with April to pick up her dogs from her mother's house. It was a last minute trip, but I had a lot of fun. I hadn't seen her since New Years' so it was good to catch up.

Sunday we had an amazing day. My daddy preached at his church Sunday morning while their preacher was away. This was the first time I have ever heard him preach because I was just a baby when he left the ministry. He did such an amazing job, and I will say that he definitely doesn't sugarcoat anything! :-) There were a few times it took all my strength to choak back the tears. It was a day I won't forget.

Brandon and I gave ourselves a cheat day Sunday. We have been 95% ON since we started this over a month ago so we decided to relax and enjoy our day together. We went to Cracker Barrel before church for breakfast. I assumed I would get my old usual...Uncle Herschel's Favorite, complete with biscuits and gravy and hashbrown casserole. However, I ended up with multigrain pancakes, a glass of water, and 1 slice of bacon. Funny how the healthy stuff starts to become the most appealing options. For lunch we went to Firehouse Subs. I had half a cup of sweet tea (the 2nd time I've had even a sip of sweet tea). After lunch, we went out to the Avenue to do a little shopping. I actually splurged on some Redken shampoo at the Ulta store. It was my first time going in that store, and let me tell ya, it is dangerous!

After we finished shopping, we went home to relax for a bit. I read a little more of the Hunger Games and fell asleep for a little bit. Then that evening we went to the Cheesecake Factory. If we were going to cheat, we were going to make it worth our while! I had the four cheese pasta (my FAVE), and Brandon had a burger and fries, which he has been craving for a couple of weeks now. We each ate one little bite of bread and left the rest alone, and we drank water. It is just insane to me that we both used to be so incredibly opposed to drinking water with our food, but now that is all we ever drink. I ate probably 1/3 of my pasta and sent the rest back. I didn't even take the leftovers home. I have to learn that it is OK not to eat it all.

For dessert, we split a slice of the red velvet cheesecake. Oh. My. Gosh. Totally worth it :-)

What feels really good to me is that after an entire day of crappy food, I was totally ready for my new normal again. Usually one cheat leads to another, which inevitibly creates a chain reaction. But yesterday I was 100% on track and loving it. I did feel really tired yesterday. But I still say the cheesecake was worth it!

As of Friday, I was down 15.5 pounds (20 pounds since my highest weight) and my jeans officially are too big! They were literally falling down all day Saturday. Time to retire them! Brandon has now lost 19 pounds and bought a pair of pants 2 sizes smaller and has moved into his smaller belt, retiring his "fat belt" as he calls it. It feels AMAZING to feel the results, and even more amazing that we are SEEING the results! I can actually tell when I look in the mirror now! WOOHOO!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rise and Shine

A while back, I bought a CD collection of children's songs to sing with my Sunday School kiddos. One of the CD's has all of the old kids' Sunday School songs that we sang as kids. (Who remembers Father Abraham???) On Wednesday, I took the CD's out of the Sunday School room because I'm no longer teaching on Sundays and Wednesday nights will be ending soon for the Summer, and I didn't want to lose them. So, they've been sitting in my car. It was only natural that on the way to work this morning, I stick that CD in and start jamming to preschool worship songs. I'm not to good to be that crazy woman driving down the interstate, windows down, with no kids in the car, singing "This Little Light of Mine" with much enthusiasm.

One of my all time favorite songs, Rise And Shine (Arky Arky) came on. As I was jamming along with it, I was reminded of something. The song tells the story of Noah and the Ark. In a strange way, it reminded me of our journey waiting for a birth family to choose us. Noah was told there would be a big flood and that he needed to build an ark to prepare. At that time, there had never been one drop of rain in the world, so Noah had no clue what a flood was, and he surely didn't know what to expect. But he knew what he needed to do to prepare, and he obeyed. Then, once on the Ark, the rains came. They were stuck on that Ark for 40 days. No TV, no iPod, no Youtube, no Wii or Xbox...just a staff and a whole lot of smelly animals. Sitting. For 40 days. Can you imagine?

Noah was patient, and he had faith. He believed that God would protect them, and that one day the waters would subside and they would be able to begin life as normal again.

I've never related to Noah like that before. Brandon and I have absolutely no clue what to expect. We don't know what our adoption story will look like, because no 2 are the same. But, we know that there are things we must do to prepare for a child because we have faith, and we believe that God will bless us with a child. We don't know when. We don't even know how. But we know that God is good, and that He is faithful. I believe that God has his reasons for allowing us to wait, and I believe one of those reasons is to prepare us to be parents. But for now, we are stuck waiting, and some days it feels really yucky, much like sitting around a bunch of stinky just plain stinks! But God has reasons for all things, and I believe whole heartedly that even when I am sad, depressed, lonely and even angry, God is holding my hand, and that one day we will no longer have to wait. One day, we will hold that baby in our arms and all will be right in our world. I need to remind myself of the meaning of the Rainbow...that there is calm after the storm, and that God never ever breaks his promises!

Just like the song says: "Rise and shine, and give God the glory glory, Children of the Lord." So, that's what we will continue to do. We will give Him all the glory and trust in Him completely...even when it isn't easy. One day, we'll be singing "The sun came out and dried up the landy landy, look! There's the sun! It dried up the landy landy! Everything is fine and dandy dandy, children of the Lord!"

Cheesy much? I think so :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 25= New Habits

We did it! We made it through our 24 Day Challenge! I really truly feel that we have made some dramatic, positive changes that are becoming new habits. These are some of our new habits!

The Old Habits:
1. Lots of sweet tea, cokes (diet and otherwise) and sugary drinks
2. HAD to have some form of sweets daily...cake, cookies, ice cream....anything.
3. TONS of bread
4. No water. No, really. I hated water and rarely drank any.
5. Skipped breakfast or ate something like cereal or a tall glass of chocolate milk
6. Lots of potatoes, white rice, and pastas
7. Two words: red meat.
8. Visited the grocery store hungry and without much of a list
9. Never really planned ahead
10. Ate out 3-4 times a WEEK! That doesn't include buying lunches (usually fast food 2-4x per week)
11. No exercise. At all.
12. Portion control? What's that?
13. Milk and cheese daily. Actually, at every meal pretty much.

The New Habits:
1. We have had nothing but water, spark, and 2 glasses of UNsweet tea in 24 days, and I am ok with that. I now crave water and will turn down the tea for water, and the thought of a carbonated beverage makes my stomach hurt.

2. We have pretty much cut out refined sugar. With the exception of the sugars in sauces (which we now ALWAYS opt for a lower sugar or no sugar added version now), we haven't had any sweets, and neither of us have missed them.

3. We now ONLY eat whole grain bread, and only in moderation. Bread isn't daily for us anymore.

4. I drink 80-100 ounces of water daily.

5. I always have breakfast. Currently we are using the Advocare Meal Replacement shakes which are fabulous.

6. Baked potato 1x per week or less, with NO BUTTER. We've switched to brown rice and whole grain pasta, and we've only had pasta once in 24 days.

7. Very little red meat, and when we do have it, we use really lean beef. We've started using ground turkey in a lot of recipes.

8. My weekly meal plan and grocery list is a must now.

9. The biggest key for me has been planning ahead. From creating a weekly meal plan, to putting my blender bottle of water in the fridge at night for my breakfast shake the next morning, to putting my lunch together for the next day while I'm cooking dinner, and planning ahead for going out or nights that we won't be home.

10. We've eaten out 3x in 24 days. We now are getting to where we prefer homecooked, real food. Restaurant food just doesn't satisfy like it used to.

11. I am adding exercise daily. Some days I take a walk on my lunch, some days I go up and down the stairs at work, and yesterday I did yard work. I am striving to add some form of exercise each day.

12. Portion control is a must. I don't measure our food, but I fix a healthy plate with smaller portions of lean protein and brown rice, and larger portions of veggies and fruit.

13. I eat very little cheese, and haven't purchased milk since we started.

All in all, we have made major changes to our diet. We've even started getting creative and finding substitutes for things, like 0 calorie butter spray instead of a heaping spoonful of butter, and blue agave nectar or Splenda instead of sugar. We feel so much healthier, and I can tell it not only in pounds, but in our energy, the way our clothes fit, and my hair and skin. I even sleep better at night.

Although it sounds like way too many changes to make all at once, the funniest part is that most of these changes just came naturally. We don't WANT the sugary things. We don't WANT potatoes. Our bodies are craving fruits and veggies. It's amazing how when you give your body the complete nutrition it needs, it operates the way it's supposed to.

I can say, for the first time ever, that after 24 days, I am not feeling the desire to quit. I am more motivated and determined than ever!! Taking it 10 pounds at a time, I know I can do it! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 20...Closing In!

We are in the home stretch of our challenge. I must say, this has been the best decision we have ever made. The changes we are making are tremendous. Just 21 days ago, we ordered pizza because we knew we wouldn't have it for a long time, and now the thought of pizza or burgers literally makes me nauseous. During the first 10 days, we cleaned our bodies out, and now we are pumping ourselves full of great nutrition that our bodies weren't getting before, and it is amazing how when your body has all the nutrients it needs, it doesn't crave things to make up for the missing pieces.

I am currently sitting at a 10 lb loss and overall 8 inches. We'll get the final results on Monday, but I don't expect that to change much. But I am pretty happy with that! I definitely have a long way to go (about another 130-140 lbs....I haven't decided), and I surely have things I need to work on, like my exercising. BUT, I am on the right track, and in a MUCH better place than I was 21 days ago! For the first time, I'm not itching to "be done" with it so I can pig out. I'm not itching to go out for Mexican food, burgers, wings, or pizza. I'm actually craving good things and enjoying food in a whole new way. My body LIKES water!! Who knew, right? ;)

One thing I am really, really pumped about is that when we do get our referral for a baby, we will be much healthier, happier, and better equipped to handle a little one. We will have the energy and health to be able to get through those sleepless nights, and we will be able to enjoy playing with them and teaching them to be active. We will be able to lead them by example to a healthy lifestyle, instead of having the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude.

"If something is important to you, you will find a way. If it isn't, you will find an excuse"- this speaks volumes to me.