Sometimes you just need to treasure the ponders of your heart...

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Year of Growth

We were reflecting earlier that two years ago this month we were counting down to our wedding....21 days. Now we are rocking our daughter to sleep, jockeying for smiles, and clocking feedings. Crazy what can happen in two years. What's even more crazy is what can happen in less than a year -- and by "what can happen" I mean "how one's body can change."  So, below I give you --- "A Year of Growth."

January 29, 2014
On January 28, 2014, I insisted that Landon accompany me to Walgreens.  There was no way I was going alone.  We picked up a box containing two First Response pregnancy tests.  Oh boy, was I nervous!  That night the first test had a faintly positive result.  I think I cried.  Shock, fear, insanity, the desire to be excited but not feeling it, nausea.  I decided it was incorrect and I would do it again in the morning -- they say the morning is the better time to do it anyway.  Of course that morning revealed another faintly positive result.  I determined to wait a few more days and do another....but I snapped a "before-I-look-pregnant" photo just in case those two tests were actually right.  It wasn't a very great photo -- mostly because I didn't believe it was actually happening.

This was the last of three pregnancy tests. I stared in disbelief, not knowing how I felt.  I crawled back into bed that Sunday morning, kissed Landon awake, and said, "Honey, I think we're having a baby!!"

February 12, 2014
I was right! After rather randomly selecting an OB/GYN (hey, we were still new to Denver!), she confirmed that we were indeed having a baby. My nausea and exhaustion were not in vain, however unpleasant. I wish I would have taken a picture of myself on that day, but I was on way too crazy of an emotional roller coaster to even think of that. I did joyfully cry a bit when I saw that tiny heartbeat. Crazy to think that Alia was that small and shapeless at one point.

March 21, 2014
 Sure enough -- it's a baby! And already so adorable.

March 30, 2014
14 weeks in and starting to show! I was desperately hoping that the advent of 14 weeks would mark the end of my morning/all day sickness, especially because tech week for Into the Woods was quickly approaching. Not so. As if it wasn't bad enough that Cinderella was pregnant, she had to be sick, too!

April 9, 2014
15.5 weeks. Tech week of Into the Woods and I was doing my best not to succumb to the nausea and exhaustion. I had looked at many different princess hairstyles and mocked one that was described as Elsa's from Frozen. It totally ended up being the one I went with.  Why?  It was amazingly simple, and I needed simple!!

April 23, 2014
Spring! 17.5 weeks. Loving the warm weather and still being able to wear pre-pregnancy clothes.

April 24, 2014
This was by far my most comfortable costume. Thankfully, it was also what I wore most of the show.  It hid my baby bump, too -- though my castmates teased that I subconsciously touched my belly onstage. I don't think I did, but I suppose that's the definition of subconscious! ;)

April 25, 2014
I swear it felt like I got bigger each day I was trying to hide it, and pregnant Cinderella certainly had something to hide!

April 30, 2014

18.5 weeks.  In the thick of the "to find out or not to find out" debate.  Moral of the story?  Do what you want to do because everyone will say different things.

May 15, 2014
20.5 weeks. If you look closely, you can see the elastic waist on these pants. Amazingly, I wore these all the way up to my last week of work at 39 weeks!

May 16, 2014
 It's a girl! I look at her now and see the exact same profile. :) What a fun birthday present for my dad to discover he was getting a granddaughter!

May 29, 2014
22.5 weeks. I tried to take a walk during my lunch break each day. Eventually it got too difficult, but initially it really helped cut down on the all-day sickness. But sometimes (like this day) I would just sit outside and enjoy the weather.

May 30, 2014
My mom sent me this Willow Tree figurine. We were almost the same size. :)

June 3, 2014

23.5 weeks.  Again, yay for having a pre-pregnancy wardrobe full of stretchable dresses, high-waisted shirts, and elastic skirts. For those non-elastic bottoms, the belly band was awesome. Highly recommend.

June 5, 2014
23.5 weeks. It was in this dress that some people at work first discovered I was pregnant. How they missed it for so long and what was so special about this dress, I'll never know.

June 19, 2014
25.5 weeks. I don't know why we tended to take photos half way through the week instead of on the first day of a new week, but I think it mostly had to do with being more sick on weekends than weekdays. I still can't believe I was going to get even bigger than this!

July 4, 2014
Almost 28 weeks. A quick, impromptu 4th of July picture.

July 26, 2014
Basically 31 weeks. My mom was visiting. We spent the day up in Boulder with my uncle and family. Again, if you're pregnant and don't want to spend much on pregnancy clothes, two words.  Belly. Band. It was the best $16 we spent all year!!

July 31, 2014
31.5 weeks. Another impromptu photo -- for my mom because she had just given me this shirt and I wanted her to see how it looked. ;)

August 5, 2014
32.5 weeks. Started to feel huge. Still had 8+ weeks to go...  We also started our childbirth classes that week. Realized I wasn't huge compared to some others...felt bad about feeling huge...

August 20, 2014
33.5 weeks. My brother Tim texted me, "How big are you now?" I sent him this picture in response. "Dang!!" is what I received a minute later. Little brothers. ;)

August 29, 2014
Almost 36 weeks. We spent a lovely weekend in Eagle, CO, with the Coopers. Jackie took some incredible photos to memorialize this pregnancy. Oh, I am so grateful for these! She is such a phenomenal photographer and such a sweet friend.

September 14, 2014
38 weeks. Notice how far apart my feet now naturally stand. ;)

September 21, 2014
39 weeks and SO READY to be done!!

September 27, 2014
One day shy of 40 weeks...and even MORE ready to be done.

October 6, 2014

41 weeks. 22 hours away from being done!  My last baby bump. Though is it really a bump at this point?? I just can't believe how big I actually ended up!!

October 12, 2014
And we're back! Well, almost. ;)

To quickly review -- in 10 months, this is what happened --

There and back again....

So that is what a year of growth can do to your body. Now, here's hoping that next time I sit down to blog I am emotionally and physically rested enough to talk about what a year of growth (and pregnancy and new motherhood) can do to you spiritually. :)

Just one more photo.....because I love her sooooo much..... :D

October 30, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Labor Story

I can count the last two weeks in increments of two hours, rubbing my eyes to stay awake long enough to do so, careful to turn on many lights preventing my drifting off to sleep in the middle of my story.

I. Am. Tired.

Tired is insanely wonderful and horrifically lovely. Tired means I am spending sweet moments gazing at my daughter's face while she is nourished.  Tired suggests euphoria...when those heavy little eyes close and her tiny lungs calm down.

I wouldn't trade her for a good night's sleep.

Oct. 19, 2014 - We had Chinese for dinner and were given 3 fortune cookies. This one was legitimately Alia's. 
"A small gift can bring joy to the whole family." She is our gift!
Alia is two weeks and five days old. When I was a kid, I used to count in years, sometimes half years (I'm not 9!!  I am 9 and-a-half, thank you very much!). High school and college made me count in semesters (sometimes I still do that!). After grad school, I started counting in months, or at least planning life out a month in advance. Pregnancy forced me to count in weeks.  Late pregnancy had me counting in days. I suppose now I'm back to an odd mixture of weeks and days, which will soon spread out into months (no, I probably won't be saying "36 weeks" when she's 9 months...but I'm not making any promises). All that to say -- Alia is two weeks and five days old!

I had every intention of posting the labor story on her 2 week birthday, but have I mentioned I'm tired?? I have new-found appreciation for Frozen: the wisest thing I can do in motherhood so far is "let it go" (you're welcome for that song in your head for the next week). Let the preconceived plans of picture-perfect motherhood go (i.e. taking an adorable photo every day, dressing her in a new, cute outfit every day, etc) and choose not to be disappointed in yourself. Hey, sometimes diapers and receiving blankets are best! I'm happy to say I have very few illusions of grandeur when it comes to being the "perfect mom" or the "photo worthy mom". (Side note: this is why I stay off of Pinterest.  Have you ever heard of someone battling their "photo-worthiness"?  Oh, it exists.) I guess my goal in motherhood is to love well and raise a kid who loves Jesus and people so much she could burst. Hmm...another blogpost, another time. SO! The need/desire to post the labor story exactly two weeks after it happened?  I (cue music) let it go...let it goooo!

So without further ado, in all its gory detail, but lack of horror stories:

Alia Grace: A Labor Story


Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014

Lots of crying.  At exactly one week late, I was more and more nervous about the clock ticking down to my scheduled induction on Tuesday morning.  After a week and a half of raspberry leaf tea, miles of walking, hours of bouncing on the medicine ball, spending time with my husband, neck/ankle/foot massages, and commanding my child to come out, I was distraught.  I had been having contractions on and off since my OB had stripped the membranes on Friday.  They were more intense than the false alarm labor the week before, but very irregular and not really painful at all.

By Sunday, I felt a tad failure-ish.  It did NOT help that at least 4 friends had had babies that week.  When was it my turn??  Could I please, God, go naturally and not be induced??

So I cried.  A lot.

Landon's parents got in to town that evening.  My mom, if you remember, had already been here for nearly a week and a half by then.  Though I felt rude, I excused myself for a nap.  Something in me told me I was going to need it.  After a few hours, I felt much better.

And then the contractions started.  I was thrilled.

They increased in frequency and intensity until about 12:30am when I decided it was time to start tracking them.

Monday, Oct. 6, 2014

By 1:30am, the tracking paid off.  It had been a solid hour of 2-4 minute apart contractions.  It was time to call the doctor.  Of course, I knew that I would most likely not see my actual doctor.  She had been on call that weekend and always has Mondays off.  Sure enough, a different doctor, Dr. R called us back and said she'd notify the hospital that we were on our way.

We snapped a few "last baby bump" pictures, dropped my mom off at the parking garage where my car was, and were on our way!

Oct. 6, 2014 - Last Baby Bump
We were shown to a labor and delivery room and met our nurse around 2am.  I was at 4cm, half a centimeter more than I had been on Friday.  Nurse C called the doctor to give her an update and returned later with an IV and a bag of fluid.  "This means you're staying!" she cheerfully chirped.  I had mixed feelings -- Yay! We're staying!  No!  That means I get an IV!  I did my best.  I firmly clenched Landon's hand and kept my eyes fixed on his.  And then I threw up twice.  Charming, I know.  I just don't do well with needles.  I was very, very intentional about moving my IV'ed arm and using my hand, though it took me a while to do much with it.  I was so incredibly aware that it was there.  I could feel it.  I hated it.

I was on the monitors on and off for a few hours, so we took the opportunity to try and nap here and there.  Unfortunately, Nurse C came back to tell me that my contractions had slowed down to 6-8 minutes apart.  We got out of the room and walked the halls for awhile (unknowingly going past our boundary.  Oops!).  The contractions kicked back in at 2-4 minutes apart again.  Still manageable, but painful enough that I didn't want to talk through them.

We returned to our room in time for the shift change.  We sadly said goodbye to Nurse C -- she had been so wonderful.  Very patient, compassionate, and understanding.  She also told us that Dr. R was no longer on call and Dr. W would be in soon to make his assessment of the situation.

Meanwhile Nurse E came in and introduced herself.  She then proceeded to do the worst cervix check ever.  Nazi fingers, I tell ya.  In fact, she was having such a hard time actually finding my cervix that I begged for a break and re-do.  It was not pleasant!!  I was still at 4cm.  Disappointing.

We got up and walked some more.  Contractions continued about 2-4 minutes apart.  Dr. W never came in.  Nurse E came back awhile later and told us that now Dr. G would be looking after us, and she was suggesting pitocin and/or breaking my water.  I told her I was not in a rush and we would like to try to continue naturally.  She rather skeptically respected that and said she'd be back later.

We had been up all night, so again we tried the nap thing.  Again, contractions slowed down.  Again, we tried walking.  Again, they sped up.  But they were not increasing in intensity.  Around noon, Nurse E came back and strongly recommended pitocin again.  Dr. G had suggested that we go home and wait out early labor in the comfort of our own space.  That was NOT an option I was willing to consider.  We were not leaving the hospital without a baby in our arms!!  Nurse E left to allow us to discuss our options.

Basically, as much as I did not want to be induced, if things didn't pick up naturally, it was inevitably going to happen the next morning.  I honestly didn't want to go through the trauma of removing the IV only to have another one placed the following morning.  No way.  Plus, the nurse had made a good point - if we waited much longer to move things along, I would be exhausted when it came time for me to really act.  I was already tired from being up nearly all night.  So after weighing our options, we opted for pitocin.  We staunchly held off on breaking my water except as a last resort.

Nurse E almost gleefully agreed with us, saying that she would start things off slowly, only increasing the pitocin by 1ml per hour and continuously re-evaluate.  If my body took over, then she would decrease the pitocin or discontinue it altogether.  That appealed to me.  She said she would go take her half hour lunch and be back to start it.

She came back over 2 hours later.  Ugh.  Not my favorite nurse we encountered.

It was a little after 3pm when she started the pitocin drip.  I was now chained to the IV bag and had to work past my phobia of actually using the IV.  As soon as it started, my hand and arm became very cold.  I could feel it coursing through my veins.  I hated it.

I decided that since all of my own efforts in moving labor along had failed, I would take the time to actually nap until the pitocin kicked in. It would do its thing without any help from me and I could use the rest. I got a good 2ish hours of much needed sleep.

About 5:30, Nurse E came to tell us that her other patient was about to start pushing and she was handing us off to someone else.  I honestly don't remember who this other nurse was.  I don't remember her name or what she looked like because I think we only saw her twice and I was in and out of sleep.  The big change that came with her was also a doctor change and a difference of opinion in pitocin.  We hadn't actually seen a doctor all day, and we were handed off to Dr. R again - the original one we had spoken with during the initial phone call.  She wanted pitocin increased by 1ml every half hour -- double the rate we had been going.

6:30pm -- The pitocin kicked in hard.  I had been feeling an increase in frequency and pressure, but now they hurt and they hurt a lot.  Now I started needing breathing techniques to get through them.

Dr. R actually came in to see us around 7ish - right in the middle of a contraction.  It was kind of comical how people would pause their conversation until contractions would finish.  I was reminded of jet noise in Virginia Beach, except that jet noise never hurt your insides.  She introduced herself between contractions and spoke to us about our plan for progressing labor.  She asked how far I was dilated.  I told her that I had been 4cm at 7:30am.  "You haven't been checked since then??" she asked incredulously.  Nope, I hadn't.  She checked and - yay! - I was 6cm and 90% effaced.  Awesome.  Progress had been happening!  She wanted to move things along and said someone would come in soon to break my water.  We had been apprehensive of this because it puts you on an 18 hour clock and increases the risk of infection.  However, I did not exactly want to be in labor for the next 18 hours either!  So we agreed.

The shift change happened again at 7:30ish and Nurse C was back!  I was thrilled to see her again.  She was looking much more refreshed than she had at 3am (small wonder!) and was ready to help me have this baby!  A resident came in and broke my water.  I had been told by others that it really hurt when that happened, but honestly, it didn't hurt a bit.  There was actually a bit of relief that spread through me as warm liquid flooded out of me.  It also felt like progress.  I was clinging to anything that felt like progress.  Granted, now I was a mess, but who said labor was tidy??

Early in the day I had heard the woman laboring in the room next to me.  She wasn't all that quiet, and I smiled a bit thinking, "Well, that's the way she is reacting, I wonder how I will react??"  Nurse E had told us she was going unmedicated, too.  I will tell you how I reacted.

It wasn't pretty.

My throat was sore for a few days.

We had gone through the unmedicated childbirth class and learned breathing techniques and positions to alleviate pain, etc.  I felt very prepared.

I wasn't.

We never got past 7ml of pitocin an hour, and I am SO glad.  That was plenty.  I'm curious what natural active labor contractions are like because I know that pitocin creates stronger, longer contractions.  Yeah. They hurt.  I breathed.  I vocalized.  I yelled.  I screamed.  At one point, my throat was sore and dry and I actually choked a bit on a scream that wouldn't come out, but I absolutely needed to make some sort of sound.  I consciously thought, "Put it up in a singing range." So I did.  I mentioned it to Landon later and he said, "Yes!  I noticed that! I actually thought to myself - is she singing right now??"  Obviously, he didn't point it out in the moment (smart man), but it certainly helped. When we had told my OB months and months ago that I was going to try going unmedicated, she supported us but also let us know that going that route can get rather "primal".  She was right.  I am not ashamed. ;)

I know it was hard on Landon because here I was ignoring his breathing coaching.  He had to watch as his wife was mercilessly attacked by her own body.  He was fantastic through it all - applying counter pressure, letting me rest into him, holding my hand, wetting my face and neck with a cold washcloth, giving me water, and encouraging me the entire time.  He was absolutely amazing.

At this point, my concept of time gets fuzzy.  I think it was around 8:30/9 that I moved from the chair that I had been straddling (an excellent place to endure contractions and help them along, I might add!) to the bed for a little relief.  Landon was in bed behind me, holding me, and helping me relax. Finally, I asked a little pitifully, "Is it time to push yet??"  "Do you feel like you need to?" Nurse C responded.  "Yes," I answered, praying I was right.  Nope.  8cm.  She told me absolutely not to push because if I did too soon, it could cause the cervix to swell and we'd be moving backwards.  Awhile later, I asked again.  Nope.  Still 8 cm.  Some time later, again.  "Not yet, you still have some cervix left."  She stopped using numbers -- because I was still at 8cm.

She suggested I get in the tub, I think to slow things down a little bit and give me a chance to rest.  Very, very sadly, I was not able to use the jets because I was on the portable monitors necessary with pitocin and they would just pick up the jets and not the baby's heartbeat.  That was probably the most disappointing part of it all -- I had been looking forward to the jacuzzi tub!!  She insisted though that I resist every urge to push and that if suddenly the only thing in the world I could possibly do was push we must pull the nurse call cord.

The bath helped a little bit.  I was actually able to breath through a few contractions instead of yell through them.  Then suddenly, the only thing in the world I could possibly do was push.  I screamed to Landon to pull the cord.  Three nurses ran in and Nurse C shouted, "Out!  Get out NOW!"  They supported me back to the bed where we again heard, "I'm so sorry, you still have some cervix left."  She offered me the medicine ball to sit on which had been wonderful for early labor but was terrible for transition.  I got caught trying to sit on it as a contraction started. I was stuck - I couldn't sit and I couldn't stand up either. I was sort of bent-kneed and freaking out, feeling like I was splitting in two.

The contraction finally passed and I sat down with new resolution. "Alright, what are my options for pain management??" I desperately asked.  Nurse C offered, "I can give you fentanyl.  It will take the edge off and wear away in 20 minutes."  "Let's do it!" I didn't even care that I was aiming for unmedicated anymore.  Pitocin-induced contractions are no joke and I was exhausted.

She put the drugs in my IV and warned me that if I felt dizzy to let her know, that it might cause me to take a little nap. "Sure thing," I said. "I'm feeling okay....okay, I'm dizzy."  Suddenly I was very dizzy.  She helped me into the bed and I was incredibly out of it.  Not completely unconscious or asleep, but definitely in a weird trance-like state.  The following is very fuzzy for me.

I was freezing, and my dress was wet from falling in the bathtub at the last second.  Nurse C worked quickly to disconnect the IV, pull the dress off, and reconnect the IV -- and it didn't bother me at all -- proof of how out of it I was.  I remember just lying there, barely able to keep my eyes open, completely oblivious to time, hearing voices very distantly.  The contractions still hurt, but the edge was taken off enough that I could breathe forcefully through them.

At some point, Landon and I were left alone.  I was covered in two blankets to try to calm the shivering.  Suddenly, several monitors started beeping.  No one came in to check on them, so Landon went out and grabbed a nurse (whom we had never seen before) and voiced his concerns.  She checked the monitors and incorrectly assumed that the blood pressure monitor on my finger had fallen off.  Nurse C came in quickly, told the other nurse that she had given me fentanyl, called over to me - "Give me some deep breaths.  I need you to breathe deeply!" - and grabbed an oxygen bag and put it on my face.  I vaguely heard her, but started to take deep breaths.  Landon kept coaching me through them, but I was still in and out of consciousness.

After a while, I started to snap out of the stupor and it dawned on me -- the fentanyl was going to wear off soon.  I couldn't fathom going back to the crazy hard contractions again so I asked for another dose, a request that was refused because it can't be administered within an hour of delivery due to causing breathing problems for the baby.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  I think I may have actually whimpered at that point.  So, very resolutely, I said, "Alright, it's time for the epidural.  We still have time, right??"  Nurse C assured me that yes, there was still time for it, but decided to check my progress again first.

"Hon," she said, "you're at 9.5cm.  These next few contractions are going to open you right up.  You've come this far -- you can do it without the epidural!!"  She was very encouraging, and I'm glad she was.  I had indeed come that far without it and my baby would have most likely been delivered before it even kicked in.  A few wretched contractions later, I said, "I've been resisting the urge the push -- please say it's time!"  She checked and a smile spread across her face.  "You're at 10!  It's time!  Let's try a practice push during your next contraction."

Oh my word.  It felt so good to push.  I felt like I was controlling the contraction instead of the contraction controlling me.  After pushing through the first one, she said, "Alright!  It's time.  I'm going to go call the doctor."  THAT was agony.  I had to resist pushing through two contractions while she was gone.  The doctor was ten minutes away, so a resident came in to assist just in case she was needed.  In fact, quite a few people were coming in and out and getting things set up and ready -- and I couldn't have cared less.  All I knew was that it felt so good to push.  Coming off a contraction did not feel great, but knowing that I was actually in the home stretch was amazing.

The doctor came in (again, not my doctor, but the one who was on call), got herself settled, demanded goggles, and barely interacted with me for awhile. Again, I am so thankful for such an amazing nurse! She was SO encouraging and empowering.  She held one of my legs while Landon held the other and coached me through.  Landon was able to see the whole thing --- sidenote, they didn't have him wear a gown or gloves or anything.  Is that the new norm?

A little bit into it, Dr. R had me hold off on pushing. "You're about to tear," she said. "The thing is, you're going to tear up.  I can cut down so you don't tear up. You have a ridiculously long perineum so it will be fine.  But I don't think you want to tear up."  Well, she was right.  I also didn't want an episiotomy, but given the risk involved, I agreed.  She quickly administered lidocaine, which felt like insulting little pinches where no one should be pinching, made the cut and told me I could push again.

Nurse C had mentioned, "Now, you're going to feel the Ring of Fire.  Push through it.  You'll want to pull back, but don't do it.  Take another breath and get right back there."  However, since the lidocaine was involved, it was like half a ring of fire, not nearly as bad I had expected.

They had offered me a mirror to see it all and I very strongly refused.  No thank you!  I did not need to see all that.  Maybe the next kid.  But from the angle I was at, I saw exactly what I needed to see.  First, a dark, cone-shaped, very goopy head.  Then - the most beautiful little purple face in profile.  I gasped when I saw her.  My heart stood a little still.  "Another push!  Don't stop!"  Her chin, her nose, her shoulders, then all of her!  45 minutes of pushing and Dr. R pulled her right out. She was born at 11:53pm.  I exclaimed, "Landon is going to cut the cord!!!" I was afraid she was just going to do it, not being "my" doctor.  He cut the cord and they put her on my belly.  

"Oh my goodness!  She's a little human!" is what I'm pretty sure I said.  I didn't cry, wasn't flooded with love, but oh I was full of adoration, wonder, awe.  She was whimpering and squirming.  A nurse was rubbing her down with a towel, putting a hat on her head, making her cry.  Landon was by my side, but behind her head.  He was welcoming Little One to the world.  She heard his familiar voice, her eyes flew open, she was turning her head to find the source of his voice.  Her hand was above her head, he touched it with his finger, she clamped on to his finger and held it tightly.  Oh, it all happened so fast!

"Does she have a name?" someone asked.  We looked at each other.  "Sort of..." I said.  "What do you think?" he said.  "I think I like what we talked about," I said.  "Let's do it," he said.  "Alia Grace," I told the nurse. "Alia Grace Tucker."

I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  This little girl was born through great pain, placed in my arms, welcomed to the world, and named -- given a place in the world.  My little girl.  Our little girl.  Our precious, beautiful little girl.

Immediately after giving birth.  Just kidding.  The next day after sleep, hairbrush, and makeup. ;) 
But I DID wear the pearls during delivery.  I had to have some touch of pretty. ;)

The next few minutes weren't incredibly fun as I was told to keep pushing to birth the placenta, then endured the tugging of the stitches, then cried out as they pushed on my uterus to keep it contracting. It was not pleasant.  You'd think that after all that trauma you'd be done.  Nope.

Soon it was time to eat.  From the moment she was born, Alia was playing with tongue and rooting around.  At our first feeding attempt, she latched right on with a perfect latch.  It was a beautiful moment.  She's been an amazing eater/latcher ever since!

The rest is a crazy blur.  Parents came in to meet her and take a million photos, nurses came in to measure her and give her first shots, Nurse C came in to help me to the bathroom (terrifying!), and we moved to post-partum where we had amazing nurses and wonderful care.  All I really knew was I was exhausted and no longer pregnant.  My baby was here.

I have slices of memories that I can't place in the timeline that are special to me.  Landon playing his mom sending me songs that she listened to during her labor with me...a bag of animal crackers on the bed in front of the chair I straddled so I could reward myself after each contraction...Landon rewrapping my IV cover tenderly so I would be less aware of it...the last time I remember feeling Alia move inside...the look on my mom's face when I handed her Alia for the first time...  It's really crazy to think through it all.  The entire experience was completely surreal.

Would I do again without the epidural?'s way too soon to think about another child right now.  Stop that.  I would prefer not to be induced again, that's for sure.

So that's the labor story!  All in all, it went well.  It wasn't exactly the way I had envisioned it, but who can really know until you experience it?  I was grateful that I had absolutely no back labor, that I hadn't torn, that the cut was easily repaired, that although I was willing to give in to the epidural it didn't happen, and that I had an amazing husband to help me through it all.  Bottom line??  I am SO GLAD I am not pregnant anymore. Whew! 

And of course...I am so in love with my daughter, Alia Grace Tucker.

Oct. 7, 2014 - Less than an hour old
Oct. 7, 2014 - 16ish hours old
Oct. 8, 2014 - 1 1/2 days old

Monday, October 13, 2014

We Have a Baby!!

Happy One Week to my precious little Alia Grace Tucker!

(For the curious, Alia is pronounced "uh-LEE-uh" -- like you are counting one Leah..."Once, I met a Leah who was a very sweet girl."  Make sense?)

My baby girl was born last Monday, just before Tuesday, at 11:53pm.  What an absolute whirlwind the last week has been!

I know you're anxious to hear the birth story, but today I want to write about motherhood and what this last week has meant to me.  I promise I'll get into all the gory details later. ;)

To get us started, look at this sweet, sweet face.

Oct. 8, 2014 - 2 Days Old

I'm a mother.  Call me Mom, Mommy, Mama -- I am now a mother.

I'm still wrapping my head around it.

This first week has birthed many emotions, many experiences, many feelings.  Full of pain, healing, sweetness, surprise, exhaustion, joy, has been an overwhelming week to be sure!  The most prominent feeling?


An inexplicable sense of wonder floods me when I see her perfectly beautiful little face.  Her tiny fingers wraps around mine and my heart nearly stops.  She stretches out her long legs and flexes the toes I gave her and nothing could take the smile from my face.

Absolute awe.

She sleeps in my arms and I gaze at closed eyelids covering blue eyes like her father's, and my heartbeat sings a praise song to my Father. 

I've never really thought much about my breathing.  There have been a few days of focused gratitude where I force the consciousness of each breath and wonder at the amazing way my lungs just work.  But with  Each breath is full of miracle.  I watch her chest rise and fall, holding my own breath, in absolute awe that each time she inhales is a miraculous gift.  Like every new mother, I tense myself in the night, straining to hear that faint puff that lets me know she's alive.  I relax when she stirs, assuring me that the miracle has occurred yet again.

It's a momentary miracle, but it's a moment by moment miracle that somehow strengthens my faith in the Sovereign Creator who formed her lungs and breathed life into my child.

My child.

My daughter.

We created her...Landon and I...our love for each other and yet, not just that.  I remain convinced that Alia is here specifically because God wants her here -- she certainly wasn't something we planned!  I love my role as a joint-creator with the Creator.  He formed her "inward parts and knitted [her] together in [her] mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13, ESV) and that womb was mine.

We've had a few people tell us that we "did good," commenting on her beautiful little face, and it's funny to think about because really what did I/we do except contribute DNA?  I did very much hope that she would have Landon's nose and eyes and my lips (and so far, she does!), but beyond hoping, what could I actually do?

Someone far greater than I had His hand in forming her, His fingers molding her into her tiny little self.  While anxiously awaiting her arrival (and lamenting her lateness), a dear friend told me she imagined that He was putting the final touches on His masterpiece.  I like that image a lot.  I imagine Him smiling as He gave her lips that pucker and decorated her head with soft, brown hair.

And I like that I'm thinking about these things with such warmth filling my heart....but that's a post for another day.

I didn't have a "flooded with love" moment when they handed her to me -- I was definitely flooded with awe and wonder.  "She's a little human!" is what I'm pretty sure I said.  I adored her from the start and I'm learning to love her.  I love her dearly, but like in any relationship, I'm learning who she is and how to love her.

The love grows.

I feel no shame in not having that "moment" right off.  Two days ago, I was holding her, looking at her perfect face, and my heart was full...flooded...overflowing.

I say all this currently covered in spit up and smelling of milk and loving it.  I have been surprised by motherhood and surprised at how much I don't feel like it has robbed my life --- which is how I felt during the entirety of my pregnancy.  I can't imagine her not being here...hardly remember what it was like without her...and I look forward to how being a mother shapes me, shapes my art, and shapes my heart.

My little Alia Grace -- one who bears lights to the unmerited favor of God.  Already she lives up to that in the softening of my own heart, in the grace that has swept over me in my new role, in the light that has brightened my days this week.

I'm so glad she's here.  I delight in being her mother.  I can't believe this is all happening...but I'm very glad it is.

Too many thoughts for just one post.  More to come later!

Oct. 6, 2014 - 41 weeks, 1 day - Last Baby Bump

Oct. 12, 2014 - 42 weeks...
...but no more baby!
Oct. 12, 2014 - 6 Days Old --There's the baby!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Come Down, Baby!

September 28, 2014 has dawned cool and beautiful.  Clear blue sky, golden leaves, and the faintest of breezes -- it is the perfect fall day.  Wouldn't it be a great day to have a baby??

It's September 28, 2014 and it feels historic because Little One is officially full term. 

It's my due date, y'all!

Somehow we made it to forty full weeks of pregnancy.  I'm sitting in my rocking chair near the open window covered in vines and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  Forty weeks is a long time.  My entire 2014 has been "pregnancy" and goodness gracious, I am just ready to hold my baby.

I'm actually just a tad disappointed that I'm not already.  Why?  Storytime!

Rewind to Tuesday, September 24.  I wake up feeling sick.  This isn't abnormal; morning sickness decided the final month would be a good time to kick in with a vengeance again.  Why did it feel like my first trimester again?!  I went to work because I was trying to hold out until next week to take my maternity leave.  Lunch rolls around and I just want to take a nap, so I find an unoccupied office, turn off the lights and shut the door, and sit in the chair with my feet up on the desk.  This worked beautifully the day before resulting in more energy and a fresh outlook on life (just kidding, but it was refreshing!).  However, on Tuesday, no dice.  With my eyes closed and nothing moving, I suddenly feel seasick and have to force my eyes open to re-orient myself.  I feel miserable.  My lunch break isn't even over when I go into my boss' office and tell her I'm going home for the day -- BUT I'll be back tomorrow!!!  She gives me a knowing look (no, you won't!), and tells me to go get some rest.  Thankfully, Landon was downtown for a gig, so I just chilled in the car while waiting for him to pack up and we went home.  Easy.

Fast forward a few hours.  Contractions!  What??  I thought I just wasn't feeling good!  But contractions they were, and getting closer together.  Landon downloaded an app to track them, and would run to hit "start" whenever I started waving my hand at him. Only 15-30 minutes apart, we decided I should just try to go to sleep between them because I would need my rest.  Maybe tomorrow would be the big day! 

I woke up on time to go to work, wondering if I should.  The contractions had slowed down while I was sleeping, only waking me up once or twice.  We sat in bed and debated and eventually decided, it's time to start my leave.  It was a little disappointing that I was starting it a week early -- I'll be going back to work a week before Christmas now -- but we knew the wise thing was to be rested going into labor and delivery.  I texted my boss (you gotta love modern communication) and informed her I was done.  She was excited, to say the least, and understanding and told me to stop thinking about work (I kept texting her little things that I remembered, but my temp was/is fully prepared to take over, so it was unnecessary in reality but necessary to my over-working brain).

So we faced Wednesday with a wide open schedule.  How lovely to be at home in the middle of the day!  The contractions were occasional.  Nothing major.  It made me wonder if I had made the right choice to stay home.  But late in the afternoon the contractions picked up.  They hit 8-16 minutes apart and my mom started to find an early morning flight.  We excitedly put the hospital bag near the front door and went to bed around 2am, again looking to charge up as much as we could.

I woke up on Thursday around 7 and nothing.  No contractions.  I realized I had slept through most of the night without feeling anything either.  What was this??  I was pretty stressed, actually, and more than a little mad.  Irrationally maybe, but don't argue with pregnant emotions.  ;)  My mom was on flight already, traveling across the country on her birthday with the anticipation that it might be her granddaughter's birthday, too.  But I was just plain grumpy.  "I'm just so ready to have this baby!!!!" I'm sure I said at least 68 times that morning.  Landon talked me off the cliff and took me to Babies 'R' Us while we waited for my mom to arrive.  I had a gift card, a $5 rewards coupon, and an incredibly coupon for 20% an item that came in the mail that day, and I felt like some retail therapy.  Granted, we bought nothing exciting, but a protective, waterproof Boppy cover seemed necessary and I was happy to buy it finally.

And while walking around the store -- contraction!  It was oddly encouraging because after all, who really wants to start labor only to have it stop a million times??  I just want my baby!!

It took a few more hours for another contraction to hit, but it did and then they started to pick up.  Mom was here, so Little One was welcome to come.  We went about our daily lives, threw the last few items in the hospital bag, and made sure everything was in order for us to go.  They were getting close, long, and more intense.  Surely, this was it!  We played Mario Kart for while, each race ending with a contraction (odd how perfectly timed they were!), and hit that longed-for 5 minutes apart for at least an hour mark.  They had been over 2 minutes long at this point, too, and I was ready.  I called the doctor's answering service around 11:20 and received a call back from the on-call doctor within minutes.  She said she'd let the hospital know I was on my way!

We took a few "last pregnant" pictures and got in the car, my mom following in another car so she'd have transportation later.  We were excited and raring to go.  We parked and walked over -- I was feeling energized and wanted to help this baby along any way possible.  The ER staff was incredibly friendly and a little shocked: "You're like the 6th one tonight!!"  We got settled in a room and waited to meet our nurse.

Lulu was her name and she was just lovely.  Her full name was something Native American for "Happy" and she lived up to it.  "Lulu is just easier to remember when you're delivering."  Agreed.  I still can't remember her full name!  She strapped the monitor on and you would have thought Little One was a Rockette -- she kicked against that monitor so much!!  You could barely hear her strong heart beat for all the static and movement sounds that overpowered it.  We chatted for a few minutes about what I had been experiencing and how she was going to check my dilation and then what our options would be based on what that was.  So she checked -- and it was the most uncomfortable, painful thing I've ever experienced so far.  I knew it would be uncomfortable, but painful?  Yep.  Because 1) my cervix was still pointed backwards, so she had to move it forward, 2) it was still pretty high and hadn't lowered yet, 3) Little One was kicking against her making it hard to find the opening, and 4) I was only halfway effaced and not a bit dilated.  She gave us two options: walk around for an hour to try to jumpstart it and then check again, or just go home and rest where I'd be more comfortable.  She left so we could discuss and I burst into tears.  Not just a little trickle, either.  Full on weeping as if I was grieving.  And I was to a certain extent.  I was expecting to meet my little girl and here I was being told that that wasn't about to happen anytime soon.

Let me just say I have an amazing husband.  I cried for a long time.  I don't know how I would have handled someone's stormy grief, but he was amazing. 

The nurse came back in, saw my tear-stained, reddened face and very kindly talked through our options again with us.  She mentioned that this was totally normal for first-time moms, that my body was just getting in some good practice, and that it wasn't that "nothing" was happening -- it just wasn't time to go yet.  I hadn't had a single contraction since we arrived.  We signed our discharge papers before we were even processed through admission.

They needed to get a good 15 minute heart beat script for the baby before we could go.  They could clearly see and hear that she was strong and healthy, but she was moving so much that it wasn't registering well and they needed to "prove" to the doctor that she was fine.  After two different nurses adjusted the monitor, held it in place, and gave up, they brought in a resident with an ultrasound.  So we did get to see our little girl, even if we didn't get to hold her.  But true to form, she wouldn't show us her face, though we did get a very detailed look at her little fingers which was so precious.  The ultrasound confirmed that she was strong and healthy, so we grabbed our stuff and left, still quite tearful and heavy hearted, not to mentioned extremely exhausted now that the adrenaline rush was over.  It was 2am.

Meanwhile, during all the drama, we had texted family and close friends that we were headed to the hospital and it was baby time.  About the same time we were getting the news that we should just go home, Landon's parents were texting that they were in the car and on their way to Denver.  They hadn't gotten too far from Wichita when we told them to just go back because nothing was happening.

We got home and fell into bed, exhausted, weary, and disappointed, after shooting out another, "So sorry it's so late, but...false alarm." text.  I woke up to lots of sympathy and encouragement, which was helpful, as I pretty much started crying again as soon as I woke up.  Landon and I talked for a long time.  There's something so helpful about just realizing that you're both feeling similarly.  He was disappointed, too, and I don't think I was expecting that.  He affirmed my grief over the "death of the moment" and reminded me that she is coming, one way or another.  Again, there's something very helpful about feelings, however dramatic, being affirmed and comforted.

About an hour later it was time for my weekly doctor's appointment.  As I checked in, I was told my doctor was at the hospital -- she had just delivered one baby and had FIVE more to deliver.  They actually thought that I was one of them.  I ended up just seeing the other doctor in the practice because there was no real chance of her coming back for a checkup and why reschedule for Tuesday when I needed to schedule an actual appointment on Tuesday anyway??  He was super nice and very quick.  We talked through us going to the hospital the night before and how his bet was that anything I had already experienced would actually end up being doubled in pain amounts.  He even quoted a 1930's supreme court justice: "I don't know how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it." which was his way of telling me I would know when I was actually in labor.  Ha!

This weekend has been pretty uneventful, labor-wise.  Very few contractions, which I tend to discount because they are so mild.  Yesterday we went up to Boulder, met up with my uncle and cousin, wandered the farmer's market and Pearl Street, went to the tea tour at Celestial Seasonings, drove up to NCAR and saw amazing views, and finished up at a Chinese restaurant.  It was so fun and relaxing.  I loved being able to take a drive, see the changing colors, and be so close to the mountains.  Today we plan on walking around the lake at Denver City Park and going to the free day at the Natural History and Science Museum.  I figure any walking, bumpy car rides, spicy food, raspberry leaf tea, and, um, any other typical "get labor going" things can't hurt, right?? ;)

So, here I am on my due date, with a squirmy baby still inside, though much lower than she's ever been, hoping that my water will just break so that I will know without a doubt that I am for real in labor.  More than anything I just don't want to be induced, and while I have 7-9 days before that's a reality, I'm trying not to just feel the clock ticking down.  One thing IS certain -- I will meet my baby very soon.  I would very much like that to be today.  I keep thinking about the song from Shrek: The Musical - "I Know It's Today".....which she sang everyday for years.  Haha.  At least I DO have an "expiration date", so to speak.  "Day number....two hundred and eighty...."

I'm ready.  Have I mentioned that??  I'm hoping this little girl is just very punctual.  Come today, baby!!  We were joking that she has one grandmother who is always early, one who is always late, and a mother who is always right on time....and a wildcard father. ;)  But who can predict when she will actually come?  I think that's what drives me crazy.  The doctor on Friday mentioned how it was like being a kid waiting for Christmas.  I countered with, "Yeah, but in this case, you don't know when Christmas is!!"  It's way more like waiting for a proposal you know is coming but don't know when!  :)

While in our childbirth class, our instructor told us, "Every time you have a contraction, think or speak - "Come down, baby!  Come down, baby!""  It cracked me up.  Still does.  But I find myself saying it, because that's what I want.

It's September 28th.  COME DOWN, BABY!!!!!

Oh, and, just to drive you crazy...I think we have settled on a name.  But you'll have to wait till her birth to find it out!! :D

September 27, 2014 - Just about 40 weeks

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When is Opening Night?

Photo Credit: Jackie Cooper Photography

The stage is set.  The costumes are ready to go.  The cast and crew are assembled and know what to do.  Everything - props, music, lighting, promo photos even - everything has been thought of and attended to.  Everyone nervously, but excitedly, is filled with anticipation as opening night approaches.  Even the audience is excited!  But there's just one teeny, tiny problem.

No one knows when opening night is!

It could be any night (or even day!) during a specific window of time, but no one really knows for sure when it will actually be.  So the actors continue doing warm ups and breathing exercises, making sure their costumes are fresh and ready, checking that their props are in order, walking the set, and going over the script -- which is mostly improv anyway.  They've prepared for months and are ready to go as soon as the director says, "It's time!"

A most unnerving way to produce theatre.

Can you even imagine that??  In theory it does sound a little intriguing.  Anticipation is usually 90% of the fun.  It would certainly be an experiment in actor/tech preparedness and professionalism.  A sort of "theatre of surprise."  Maybe I'll try it some day. ;)

Oh wait...  I already am.

Nearly 38 weeks of preparing, studying, rehearsing, creating a set, arranging props, accumulating costumes, and getting the actors in order -- all in preparation for a certain leading lady's big debut.

So....when is opening night??

It could be tonight!  Or tomorrow morning.  Or a week from now.  Or two.  Or three and a half.  Maybe she has stage fright and we'll have to coax her out a bit.  Maybe she's a line-stepper/cue-jumper and will surprise when least expected.  Perhaps she is a drama queen and will demand a long, lengthy, improvised monologue that keeps everyone longing for her long-windedness to end.  It's possible that she's fantastically on time and sticks to the script.  What a good little performer.

Whatever the case, opening night is soon.  So soon.  We're so close.

Our beautiful little star will be born very soon.

I have a feeling there won't be a dry eye in the audience...

Photo Credit: Jackie Cooper Photography

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pray with us?


You heard me -- thirty-six crazy weeks in and who knows how many to go.

I cannot believe it.  It's September 2, folks.  This is potentially my daughter's birth month!  When counting down to the due date, we're in the 20's.  It's going so lightning fast and so agonizingly slow.

This weekend we took a mini-babymoon up in the mountains.  Friends of ours in Eagle, CO, graciously opened their home to us to relax and recharge surrounded by mountains.  The loveliness of "getting away" was only exceeded by the loveliness of our constant lovely view.  See?

Last week was a whirlwind of delightful baby showers.  

On Sunday, August 24th, my theatre friends poured out lots of love and balloons and blessed our socks off!  The best part?  They sent me home with three trays of brownies.  Yum!

On Thursday, August 28th, my company threw me an amazingly fun shower with monkeys and frogs everywhere!  If you don't remember, I'm OBSESSED with monkeys and frogs right now.  It all blew me away -- the sheer generosity of my coworkers, the adorableness of all the monkeys and frogs, but mostly the sheer generosity of my coworkers.  I am continually blessed to work for Bonanza Creek with such an amazing boss, surrounded by people I truly enjoy working with.  Little One, Landon, and I were blessed for sure.  Most of the photos involve me making some kind of crazy "Awwww!" face -- just like the one below.

 Upon our return from our babymoon, we trekked down to Littleton for a third baby shower with friends from church.  We had a great time!  It was so relaxing to barbeque, chat, and be entertained by the 1 year old stealing the show. :)  Our future danced before us.  Of course, the highlight of the night was the little game we played.  I discovered something about my husband that night -- he is really good at "Pin the ____ on the____" games.  And this one was no different...


That's a winner, folks!  It's a girl!  All of us ladies decided it was a game that only the men needed to play.  Makes sense, right?  It's the most adult I've ever felt at a party. ;)

So, after a week of showering Little One, our place is bursting with baby stuff.

That particular pile 'o' blessing is my goal for this week.  Little One could come today and she'd survive quite well -- but there still a few things that would make her survival a little more comfortable.  Since I've had quite a few people ask what we still need, below is a list.  All of it can be found on our registry at, but I'm also not afraid of second-hand, passed around items.  

In no particular order:
  • Changing pad liners
  • 4moms Mamaroo Infant Insert
  • Burp cloths
  • Mamas and Papas Baby Snug Floor Seat
  • Nursing cover
  • JJ Cole Agility Stretch Wrap Carrier
  • Evenflo Active Carrier
  • Temporal Artery Thermometer
  • Baby Bathtub
  • Video Monitor
  • Play yard waterproof pad
  • Play yard sheets
  • 2 Baby gates
  • Bobby Pillow Protector
  • Diaper Cream
  • Diapers & Wipes!!!
  • Diaper pail inserts
We are extremely blessed and humbled by all the generosity that has supplied our "big" items, tons of clothes, storybooks, toys, and blankets.   Thank you all!!!

Now, to the title topic.  More than anything, I would ask you to pray with us.  We are in the homiest part of the home stretch, with each day bringing the question, "Will it be today??"  There are a few things that we are specifically praying about and I'd like to invite you to join with us.

Of course, "healthy mom and baby" are the top priority, but within that, here are some ways you can specifically pray with us.

  1. One Week Late: Call me crazy, but I'm praying that she will be one week late AND that I will be able to work through that week.  If I'm unable to work (bed rest, etc), then she might as well come already, but if she is a week late and I can work, then my maternity leave will take me through Christmas, which means we may actually be able to see family this year!!
  2. Going into Labor:   I'm praying that I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in labor.  I'm a watcher, so I'm constantly thinking, "Is this it?  Is that it?  What if it's today??" so for the sake of my sanity, I am determined to discontinue that line of thinking and just live normally and hopefully.  I've also heard too many stories of people not knowing they are in labor, and while that's nice and all, I like to know what's going on. ;)
  3. Natural Labor and Delivery:  I am hoping and praying to go as unmedicated, non-intervention, naturally as possible (terrible grammar, but you get the idea!).  We are finishing our "Unmedicated Childbirth" class this week and I'm feeling empowered and well-informed.  I am not "against" epidurals, etc, but I have a greater desire to be an active participant in my daughter's birth, come what may pain-wise.  I'm leaving the door open, but I am very much hoping to stick it out.  I have two friends who have given birth in the last 6 weeks completely naturally and they have each encouraged me greatly that I can do it, too.  So much better than the usual skepticism of others who tell me I'll be begging for that epidural.  Not helpful.
  4. No Tearing:  I am fully aware that most first time moms tear during their delivery -- but again, I know plenty of women who didn't, and I am praying that I am one of them. 
  5. Needle Fear:  This is a big one.  We've decided to utilize the hospital and stay with my OB/GYN.  I like her a lot, and I'd prefer to be in a setting where they can immediately help if something goes wrong.  As many of you probably know, they automatically prep you with an IV when you arrive to deliver.  I have to majorly work through this.  My doctor won't even discuss other options -- and honestly, I don't blame her.  My fear has gone down, but it's not gone.  Will you pray with me that by the time I get there, my fear of the IV, the blood draws, and anything else needle-wise will be gone?  People say it will be the furthest thing from my mind, but as I stand now, it won't be.  It will be what I hyper-focus on and I will lose the empowerment of being actively involved.  No, it won't be hooked up to anything; yes, they are going to wrap it so I "won't even know it's there" (right).  It will be in my forearm and not my hand or inside of my elbow -- which is helpful, btw.  There's not much anyone can say that will relieve this phobia.  It seriously must be supernaturally removed.  So please pray.
  6. Nurses/Medical Staff:  We're praying about the people involved in the labor and delivery room.  It's quite wonderful that it IS the same room and we won't be moving in between.  I've never really done well in medical settings, but having the right medical team makes all the difference.  Please pray with us for very skilled, compassionate nurses who ease tension and don't add to it, who can advocate for us, who are encouraging and supportive in the "natural" track, who are patient to explain and discuss what's going on, who do not rush me or make me feel weak/stupid/petty/silly, who aren't too frazzled by the laboring women next door, who bring peace with them, who are practical and down to earth, and who just in general are helpful and not pushy.  (Do I have preconceived notions about all this???  Noooo.....)
  7. My Doctor: Again with the preconceived notions....I'm very much praying that my doctor will be patient and very, very slow to jump to any interventions (read: episiotomy, forceps, vacuum, C-section, etc), that she won't be pushy when it comes to those interventions unless there truly is an emergency situation, that we will actually get our doctor and not someone on-call that we don't know, that she will continue to support natural/unmedicated delivery, and that she will have all the support she needs.
  8. Peace in the Room:  My greatest prayer in all of this is that there would be such a peace in our room, that people would walk in and palpably feel the peace, that I wouldn't be an anxious, demanding, crazy, unhinged mess, but able to breathe, relax even, and rest in the knowledge that I'm not alone through any of this.  "Loves endures all things" is still my mantra of sorts.  I'll be breathing that in throughout it all. 
So, will you join us in praying over this labor and delivery whenever it happens?  Feel free to share any verses that helped you through your childbirth process or that just help you in hard/scary/painful times in general.

We appreciate you being involved in our expanding family!  Let's see what the next 4-5 weeks bring!!