Wednesday, September 2, 2015

As the Scale Goes Up

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m fairly open about my journey with anorexia during my late teen years. While I was ecstatic to find out that Baby R was on the way, I was also a little nervous as to how I would mentally handle the physical changes that were to come.

Baby R - 24 weeks

And I would be lying if I said that I was having no problems with the weight gain that necessarily comes along with pregnancy. I’ve felt my stomach lurch when the scale has hit numbers I’ve never seen before, I’ve struggled comparing my size to other pregnant women at the same stage (am I too big? Too small?), and I’ve battled with trying to maintain a healthy diet while not obsessing about what I’m eating.

But there are a few things that have really helped along this journey:

1) Remembering that my body is not my own. God has granted me the gift of carrying a precious child, and that child’s need come first. Seeing my weight go up is a lot easier when I remember that it’s for the precious life growing inside of me.

2) Exercise regularly. Not only is regular exercise important for pregnancy, but I’ve found that it has significant mental and physical rewards. Even though I’m gaining weight, I know it’s the good kind.

3) Balanced eating. Like regular exercise, I’ve found that balanced eating helps me remember that the weight I’m gaining is good and healthy for my body and the baby. I’ve stuck to our family’s typical eating plan of primarily whole foods with lots of fruits and veggies – I just take extra servings and add in snacks! Numerous studies show that the saying “your eating for two” is a complete myth – considering one of you is the size of a blueberry for quite a bit of time. Instead, a pregnant woman needs only to increase her caloric intake by 300-500 calories a day depending on her starting weight and trimester. Of course I do have a regular dose of chocolate :) but it’s all about keeping things balanced.

4) Get some maternity clothes you are excited about! I thought it would be challenging to grow out of the majority of my clothes, but I’ve secretly loved it! Not only did it mean that there was finally some visible indication of the life growing inside of me, but I also had some super cute maternity clothes that I had been looking forward to growing into! You can find a lot of cute (yes even great inexpensive options) maternity clothes out there. It’s going to happen – so embrace it!

5) Be open and honest with your doctor. Let your obgyn or midwife know about your history and if any challenges or concerns arise. Personally, I find it helpful to check my weight once a week so I ensure I’m gaining enough, but for others it might be better just do do a weight check at the doctor’s office, and maybe only have the doctor know the actual number.

6) Be open and honest with your spouse. Brandon knows my challenges and I’m very honest when I’m having a hard day. He constantly affirms me and challenges me. He is my biggest prayer warrior and teammate.

7) Stay strong spiritually. My identity is not in my physical attributes, but in that I am a child of God who has given me the incredible, amazing gift of carrying a precious baby – and you can bet I’ll never take that for granted!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Little Mr. or Miss.?

A week ago Brandon and I headed to the doctor's office for our 19-week ultrasound. My parents had come out to Minnesota for a visit and we decided it would be perfect timing to find out if Baby R was a boy or a girl.

Now there was some heated debate about whether or not we would find out the baby's gender. Type A personality that I am, I wanted to know from the beginning. Brandon wasn't quite so sure. But once we started talking names and making plans he quickly changed his mind.

Our ultrasound was on a Monday afternoon. On Sunday we found ourselves agreeing on a girl name (you should gasp at this piece of news because it was quite an achievement!) Not only did we agree on a name, but Brandon decided that he loved this name so much that he desperately decided he wanted the baby to be a girl. (you should again gasp because my husband has been talking of nothing but little league and tonka trucks since we found out we were expecting) 

I had been convinced since day 1 that we were having a girl, so happy that my husband finally seemed more open about the idea, I headed into the doctor's office.

My parents came into the ultrasound room with us, but we asked them to look away when the tech showed us the gender so that we could share the news with both sets of parents later that evening. Let me say, the ultrasound was absolutely incredible! I am so thankful for the technology that allowed us to see our very active little one in utero - God's handy work is truly amazing, and getting a glimpse into what "knitting together in your mother's womb" looks like was a life changing moment.

And then came the moment the get a peek at whether we would be stocking the shelves with pink or blue. Mom and Dad looked away, buy my mom managed to snap this picture right when Brandon and I realized what we were expecting:

Needless to say, after hearing our gasps and seeing our massive smiles at the clarity of our baby's gender, they were pretty sure they had a grandson on the way!

And according to our ultrasound tech - she is 99.999% positive we will be welcoming a son this December!

Brandon and I were shocked....and ecstatic....and more shocked! 

Now the only question that remains is whether our little man will take after his chubby blond hair, blue eyed daddy....

or his lanky dark hair, brown eyed momma!

We can't wait to find out!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Slowly Growing

Post workout bump pic (excuse the sweat, they have the best mirrors there :))

I tend to  have this idealistic view at the beginning of summer - imagining lazy days, lots of books read, dinner outside, and extra time with family and friends. In reality, before I know it the days are packed, work makes lazy days not quite as possible, and there doesn't seem to be nearly enough time to see all the family and friends that we want to!

It doesn't help that Brandon and I kicked house hunting into full gear in May. We'd spent quite a bit of time up in the air questioning about whether on not we will stay in Minnesota long term. After some spring trips back to Michigan, it was evident how much we missed our family. But, God has made it SO clear that Minnesota is the place for us right now - this past year has been amazing and we have been so blessed by finding a church we love and building relationships with friends and Brandon's extended family. Renting just doesn't make sense long term, so the house hunting began!

Interestingly, after a day of looking at 9 split levels that I hated, we found a house we loved and put an offer down that night (the market is so hot right now here that if it's a good house, it's going within a day or two of being up for sale). But foundation issues made us wary and we backed out a few days later. After a couple of weeks break (I was getting a little overwhelmed), we found a house we loved even more than the first and managed to come in under budget! The inspection was just this week and we are in final negotiations with the sellers right now.

Our house to be! 

In the meantime, our days have been full of enjoying watching our little one slowly grow (more like watching my belly button go from being an inny to an outie) and planning for the events this fall and winter will bring! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Do We Have Anymore Watermelon?

I will freely admit it - before getting pregnant I was a total skeptic about pregnancy cravings and food aversions. Sure I knew morning sickness was real, but how could one thing sound amazing one day and horrible the next? I figured it was just an excuse to eat whatever you wanted.

And then our sweet Tuppy made its appearance (and yes, we currently refer to our baby-to-be as "Tuppy", thanks to our amazing friend's tradition of in-utero nicknames, and the brilliance of Jeeves and Wooster).

So far I can no longer stand to eat or smell peanuts, trail mix (which I used to eat almost every day), pretzels, saltines (theoretically because this was all I ate for a week), or sweets (which I also used to eat every day).

Alternatively, I cannot get enough watermelon, bagels, or frosted flakes. I've gone through a whole watermelon a week for the last 3 weeks by myself (thank goodness they've been on sale...).

I'm pretty sure I haven't bought sugared cereal since college. This week I came home with 3 boxes (granted one was Raisin Bran - that's kindof healthy right??).

The first week after we found out I was pregnant all I could stomach was chicken - now I'm dreaming of medium-rare hamburgers. Why is it you want but you cannot have?

So for all of you doubters out there, I'm telling you - the cravings are real!

And so the journey begins...

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Curse of Being a Voracious Reader

From as early on as I can remember I have devoured books like chocolate chip cookies. They are one of my favorite things and I simply can’t get enough! My parents used to tease me by saying that along with teaching me about life, they had to train me in “book manners.” It was common to hear them say “Julianne, put your book down and talk to the other people in the car!” Or, “No, you may not bring a book into the restaurant.”

Normally I’m extremely grateful for this gift and my love of books, but I’ve recently realized there are numerous downsides as well…

1. My favorite authors can’t keep up with me.

When I find an author I love I will obsessively read through every book they’ve ever written, and then anxiously stalk their website to determine when their next release is scheduled. This is particularly frustrating if the author is writing a consecutive series.

2. Going on vacation is a heavy burden.

It’s not vacation for me if I don’t have a few good books to read. And by few, I mean a lot. Growing up, I was the youngest of 3 and a lot of vacations in my middle/high school years were just my parents and me. We would head to the beach, up north, or a lake and they would plop me down by the water with a stack of books – I was happy for hours. Of course, this also meant trekking along enough books to keep me occupied. Thankfully, having a kindle has made my traveling load a little lighter.

3. Library fines.

Typically I am a fairly punctual person, but when it comes to using the library, I have an inability to return things on time. When it’s one or two books at a time it’s no big deal, but there was that time I had 30 books over 2 weeks late…

4.There aren’t enough good books in the world.

You may call me a cynic, or claim that I simply haven’t broadened my horizons enough, but for all the books that have been written, there are some pretty bad ones out there. I read through the goods ones so fast, that it seems like I spend the majority of my time scraping the bottom of the barrel. Last night I was asking my mom for suggestions, but I’d already read the 8 she came up with. The flip-side is that I love to re-read books. Brandon thinks this is incredibly strange, particularly since I rarely like to re-watch a movie that I’ve seen before, but I never mind spending time reconnecting with characters I’ve fallen in love with. Plus, I read so much that if I wait long enough, I generally forget the ending J

And for all of you who are wondering at this point, no I don’t just skim or speed read, I do retain what I actually read…in fact I always scored the highest on the reading comprehension parts of standardized tests.

But while there are downfalls, I’m grateful for my parents for instilling this love of reading in me from such an early age – and yes, I’m already scouring my childhood library, garage sales, and amazon to build up our little one’s library!

So - do you have any recommendations??

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Reason Behind the Silence

This  blog has been way to quiet for quite awhile now. Part of that reason is because I hate just posting fluffy posts - I'd rather have nothing than something I'm not happy with. But the bigger, more exciting reason is because a lot has been going on for our family recently...

Brandon and I are SO excited to share that God has chosen to bless us with a sweet little one this December!

I'm just at 12 weeks right now, and it feels great to be finishing up the first trimester, but it's been a tough few months! From the very beginning I've struggled with heavy nausea and exhaustion. With working full time it's about all I can handle to come home and cook dinner before I'm down for the night. Brandon has been an incredible blessing!

Our journey to this point is one worth sharing sometime, but the short of it is that after fully embracing handing our family planning over to God, we are excited for the adventures to come!

"For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart."
1 Samuel 1:27

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A World I Never Saw Before

For several years one of my biggest fears has been having and raising a child with a disability.

I grew up next door to a family whose youngest child had autism. She was barely able to communicate or care for herself and I saw the stress her parents were under as they attempted to create a "normal" environment for their other children, while meeting their daughter's physical and emotional needs. 

Growing up, I was taught the basic social rules for encountering someone with an obvious disability - don't stare, don't gawk, don't probe or ask impolite questions. While I'm sure my parents were well meaning, and I do believe that it's impolite to stare, the truth is that in practicing these "manners," I developed the mindset that there was something to fear or be embarrassed about for those classified as "disabled."

In my college years I knew several classmates majoring in special education. I always admired their drive and calling, but secretly thought "I could never do that."

Apparently God thought this wasn't a satisfactory answer, and in the last two years he has been transforming my heart and opening my eyes to a community I never stopped to see before.

First, came the birth of our sweet friend Addison. Born with down syndrome, Addison has shown me that God makes no mistakes, and that the labels and limitations the medical community and society may assign someone don't have to mean anything. In turn, Addison's parents and siblings have shown me that raising a child with a disability is nothing to be afraid of. I've seen the worry and stress that Addison's diagnosis has added to their lives, but I've also seen the joy and pride. They've set high expectations for their almost 2 year-old and do everything in their power to help him reach each milestone and ensure that he feels loved. 

Then I stumbled across a job description on a nonprofit website. I say stumble because that truly is a case. It was for a position I didn't think I was interested in, or had any knowledge in - working with young adults with autism and learning differences. But I felt called to applied and subsequently interview. At the end of my first interview I came home transformed. The passion of the staff and the energy and community of the students was incredible. 

The last few months have been amazing. While the organization I work for isn't Christian, everyday I see God at work. I see him in the teachers and advisors who tell their students that they can succeed and focus on their strengths. I see him in the students who accept one another's differences with true patience and understanding. And I see him in myself as I recognize the power of giving hope to a family who thought they'd reached the end of the line.

I could go on forever, but I think this video clip from our recent Gala explains things a lot better. Trevor is a junior (we are a 3 year life skills college) and gave an incredible speech this year (please note that our Gala theme this year was "A Night at the Movies " - thus Trevor's A Knight's Tale costume :)).

So what do I think now?

I think an illogical fear has kept me from getting to know some amazing people. More importantly, having and raising a child with disabilities isn't something I'm afraid of anymore. I know that each and every child God chooses to bless Brandon and I with will be a perfect gift. 

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."
1 John 4:18