Favorites from our pregnancy announcement beach shoot

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sharing my favorites from our beach shoot a few weeks ago! We wanted to have pictures taken while we were down at Edisto Beach, a beautiful and old-fashioned type of beach destination. It's a special place to Alex, as he grew up going there every summer with his grandparents, and it's become dear to me, too.

Five on Friday: Lilly Sale + more

Friday, August 21, 2015

Another week down! And what a doozie! The last two weeks at work have been absolutely nuts - just two of those weeks where all of your quarterly or every-other-month meetings seem to collide, you know? Suffice it to say that it's been hectic, but everything went well - now if only I could reward myself with a nice crisp glass of Chardonnay.

The Lilly sale! The Lilly sale! What did you get? I kind of freaked out when I refreshed the page promptly at 8am and was already 27,000+ in line, but it went smoother than in years past in my opinion. Once I finally got in, I felt like I actually could breath and take a little time before compulsively checking out (plus I didn't want to get sent to the end of the line again!). I bought a few things for myself and a few gifts, including two baby Lilly outfits...just in case Baby H is a girl. If not, I'll keep them to gift to a friend. I just couldn't help it!

The Land Before Time...yep, that low-budge dino movie from our youth. Hubs and I were in Target the other day, walked past the DVDs, and there is was on the front rack for $4.50. He held it up and gave me a look that said "This is now ours." We watched it a few days ago and it's just as sad as it ever was! Flashback to the late 80s!

Last weekend, I unpacked gobs of borrowed maternity clothes from two of my besties, and y'all: they hooked. me. up. No joke, I have literally 75+ pieces of maternity clothing now - which is a good thing, since I'm rapidly growing out of my normal clothes. Most of the clothes are pretty casual so I'll probably need a few things for work, but it is such a blessing to have all the staples!

Football season is near! The college season actually kicks off on my birthday, September 3: double the fun! Alex usually goes to all of the home games here with his recruits who are in town, but I'm thinking I'll stay home most Saturdays and watch from the comfort of my air-conditioned home. Saturdays in the South + pregnancy don't play nice. I think we're going to make it down to Gainesville to catch a few Gator games this year too, which of course makes me happy! The Swamp feels like home to me!

My mom has been sending intermittent care packages for me, A and the baby and her latest this week about brought me to tears. She sent a series of children's books and they were all labeled: "My First Gamecock Book," "My First Gator Book, "My First Palmetto State Book," "My First Sunshine State Book," and so on. I love how creative she is and that Baby H already has a little library!

Happy weekend!

Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

16 weeks

How far along: 16 weeks

Baby Size: the baby is the size of an avocado (4-5 inches)

Weight gain: up .5 pound from last week, down 2 pounds overall

Maternity clothes: I unpacked the loaner maternity clothes from 2 of my besties over the weekend...not quite fitting into most of them but they're ready to go when I do!

Stretch marks: not yet

Sleep: I got my Bump Nest over the weekend and although it took me a few nights to get used to sleeping in it, I think it's going to be great for the long haul

Best moment this week: unpacking about 75 pieces of loaned maternity clothes and realizing what a blessing it is to have sweet friends!

Looking forward to: knowing if Baby H is a boy or a girl! Still several weeks away.

What I miss: Gluten. But that's pretty typical for me every day.

Movement: nope

Food cravings: chips and salsa, salads, fruit, BBQ, red meat

Anything making you queasy or sick: Still not doing chicken breast or most veggies.

Gender: don't know yet!

Labor Signs: Not for a long time I hope!

Symptoms: still tired, hungry often, congestion at night and in the morning

Belly Button in or out? In

Wedding rings on or off? On

Mood: happy/content most often. Impatient at most other times ;)

Nursery: I've been Pinning away!

Prayer for Baby: This week, we pray for your continued development in every way, especially your muscles that are gaining strength including those in your tiny face that will one day allow you to smile at us! We can't wait to see that smile and we feel grateful for you every day. Amen.

Five Lessons Learned in the First Trimester

Friday, August 14, 2015

Praise the Lord, we made it out of the First Trimester! I am now 15 weeks 4 days and feeling great (although I was pretty lucky and didn't feel all that bad even at my roughest). I'm by no means an expert, but I learned a lot in the first trimester.

After 18 months of hoping and praying, seeing that plus sign was euphoric. But I was instantly suspicious. Is this real? Is this really happening? Is it going to "stick"?  For the first several days (maybe even the first few weeks) that I knew I was pregnant but didn't have any symptoms, it was hard to imagine that there was a tiny life inside me. But from what I've read, it's completely normal for it to take awhile for it to really set in that you're pregnant.
Five Weeks: when I was still in a state of disbelief. 

Once the symptoms set it around 6 weeks, I was no longer doubtful that there was a tiny thing in there. I instantly jumped to the next bra size, felt like I was constantly hungover, and was SO TIRED I didn't think I could make it through the work day. But the most frustrating thing was feeling like none of my clothes fit! My boobs had gotten bigger, and although I knew it was wayyy too soon to be showing, my pants were tighter. Apparently, pregnancy bloat is really common and it's to blame for a wardrobe that suddenly feels like it's for a much smaller person. For me, it went away for a few weeks and then was replaced by a little bump.

By Week 10, I had learned to live with the constant state of exhaustion, the ever-present feeling of queasiness and the extreme hunger that would strike out of nowhere. But around this time, I started to have days where I had no symptoms whatsoever, and it freaked me out. Apparently, this is also totally normal and I wish I would have embraced the days I felt great instead of stressing about my sudden burst of energy. 

Pregnancy food cravings are real. And so are aversions. That's all I'll say about that.

Seeing our baby (for us, at 9 weeks) and hearing the heartbeat (at 13 weeks) for the first time was incredible. I didn't cry - I laughed! Alex and I both were in a pure state of joy to see our baby bouncing around in there. It was suddenly so real that there was a tiny human in there - a person. Life is truly a miracle! By the time we had our first ultrasound at 9 weeks, I was certainly "feeling" pregnant, but seeing that tiny miracle was the moment it all changed I think. I felt like a mommy for the first time and the feeling was amazing.

What about you? How was your first trimester? If you're currently pregnant, let me know - I want to follow others' pregnancy progress as my belly gets bigger! :)


Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

15 weeks

I can't believe I'm doing a baby bumpdate! I'm going to do my best to keep up with this at least every 2 weeks because I know I'll want to read back over this later. And with things changing so fast, it's hard to remember what was happening one week to the next!

How far along: 15 weeks

Baby Size: the baby is the size of a navel orange (4.5 in. long)

Weight gain: down about 3 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight, though I'm not sure how

Maternity clothes: Getting close. I'm definitely not wearing most of my regular work bottoms these days. I have been embracing the elastic waist skirts in my closet, for sure!

Stretch marks: not yet

Sleep: eh - okay. At first I was waking up 3 or even 4 times a night to tinkle, which was quite disruptive! Now I'm only waking once, maybe twice, but having a hard time going back to sleep. But I ordered a Bump Nest and I am REALLY ridiculously excited to get that thing!

Best moment this week: Announcing our pregnancy on Facebook! It was a little scary to "go public" but so, so exciting.

Looking forward to: knowing if Baby H is a little boy or a little girl!

What I miss: My energy! Though it is slowly coming back. Also, pretty much anything with gluten, which is all I seem to want to eat...

Movement: they say it's too early for first time moms to feel anything, but I swear I felt something about a week ago when I was lying really still in bed. Maybe it was all in my head, but it still made me feel better!

Food cravings: At first, I wanted donuts - specifically, Munchkins from DD - which are definitely not Gluten Free. Then I moved on to wanting bread and butter, garlic bread, rolls - pretty much anything that was bread and delicious, and there's only so many decent GF options of that stuff. I've steadily wanted red meat, Mexican food and Italian and now this week, BBQ has been added to the list.

Anything making you queasy or sick: I can't do chicken breast or most cooked veggies, which I think is pretty normal. And I often feel my worst after eating dinner.

Gender: don't know yet!

Labor Signs: Not for a looooong time I hope!

Symptoms: still tired, hungry very often, congestion at night, and it's getting hard to sleep already

Belly Button in or out? In

Wedding rings on or off? On

Mood: happy most of the time - still can't believe this is real life! Not gonna lie though, I've had some moments of crazy...poor Hubs has taken the brunt of it.

Nursery: I have ideas and pretty much know how I want to do a boy's and a girl's nursery.

Prayer for Baby: Baby H, your daddy and I love you so, so, SO much already! You have been prayed for and wanted for a long time and you're our dream come true. We pray for your development - physically and spiritually - and pray you are born a healthy baby. We're in awe of the miracle you are. Amen.

How I got pregnant

Monday, August 10, 2015

...well, besides the obvious ;)

You may or may not know that this baby has been very much planned and wanted - this was no accident.

I put all my personal business out there in this post explaining our path to parenthood as of March 2015.  At that point, we'd be trying for over a year and had experienced one loss a few months prior. So let me pick up where that left off.

Once my doc OK'd us to start trying again, she prescribed Clomid in February (which was my 2nd overall time using it). I then took it again in March and April, bringing my all-time Clomid taking cycles to 4. Now, all doctors are different, but many agree that 6 times in a lifetime is the max to use Clomid because of its risks associated with ovarian cancer. 

At the end of April when I wasn't pregnant yet again, I was frustrated, angry and still very sad. I didn't understand why this was so difficult for us. And, to make things even more frustrating, Alex was about to leave for several weeks of travel for NCAA regionals and nationals with the team. I called the nurse at the doctor's office to tell her that I wasn't planning to take Clomid that month; with Alex gone nearly the entire month, why subject my body to its risks when there was almost no chance of conceiving? I also told her how upset and frustrated I was. She had me come in to chat.

When I met with the nurse practitioner the next day, she told me two things that were integral to us having a baby. First, I needed to consider taking a mild antidepressant. My frustration, anger and sadness were all very, very normal emotions to feel, but they were not going to help me get pregnant. When she said that, it clicked and all made sense for me. I needed to relax, and it's not in my nature to "just relax" (and if one more person told me to "just relax" there was a good chance I'd cut them). So I eagerly accepted the Rx for Zoloft and started taking it immediately.

Second, she said something that was hard to hear but I knew I was coming: we'd been trying for nearly 18 months, all our labs and bloodwork had come back normal, and Clomid was not working. It was time to see a fertility specialist. 

She referred me to a specialist down the road, and about 2 weeks later I had my first appointment which was a lengthy (1.5 hour) consultation. I'll spare the details, but I'll say that I left feeling confident that this doctor would help me become pregnant, one way or another. I had options to discuss with Alex; after some discussion, we decided we would try one IUI in June and then begin the IVF process in July if that didn't work (the doctor strongly suggested IVF for us early in the process because of my having Crohn's disease; she explained it would give us more control over timing of egg retrieval and embryo transfer around flare-ups, increasing our chances of a healthy pregnancy). 

Naturally, fertility treatments don't come cheap. We were a little apprehensive to jump into something so expensive and extreme, but also didn't want to waste time on other (cheaper) options that may never work. 

Our course of action was to call the fertility clinic the day I got my next period to begin the IUI process at the end of May. But we never had to do that: I got pregnant that month! 

This is what I attribute to getting pregnant naturally:
  1. Antidepressant: I'm not advocating for everyone to go out and get a script, but if you've tried to get pregnant for more than 6 months, you know what an emotional toll that takes. I had been taking Zoloft for about 2 weeks when I went to the fertility clinic for a consultation, but one of the first recommendations was that I start taking an antidepressant (check!). The counselor at the clinic told me it was "the single best thing you can you do for your fertility." My NP told me when she prescribed it that there was a very slight increased risk for miscarriage, so I'd have to discontinue use cold-turkey as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test. I took it for a total of about 4 weeks - barely enough time for it to even take effect! But I do think it took the edge off, so to speak.
  2. Having a plan with a fertility specialist: even though it was scary, expensive and felt like stepping up to the big leagues, I was happy to have a plan and a doctor whose sole occupation is getting people pregnant. My regular OB-GYN is awesome, but they care for patients in a variety of capacities. Having a plan of action that Alex and I both felt comfortable with made me relax and feel like it would happen after all. 
  3. Essential Oil: not even kidding. While all of the above was taking place, my blessed mom had sent me Progessence Plus by Young Living after reading a ton of testimonials about how it helped people get pregnant. You aren't supposed to use it with any other hormonal mediation or supplement, and because I'd been on Clomid (hormonal), I hadn't been able to use the oil up to that point. I figured, Why not? and started using it topically on my neck and lower abdomen twice a day that month and that month only. I don't know if it actually helped me conceive, but I will say that it made me have a normal cycle that month - practically textbook - that up to that point had only been achieved with Clomid. 
  4. Not trying: okay, here's the kicker. For all those people who told me "stop trying and it will happen!" (yep, many of the same people who said "just relax" - grrrrr), all I have to say it technically, if you stop trying, you will not get pregnant. End of story. However, I really didn't think it was possible to conceive the month that I did with Alex gone so much. But it really only took one time (TMI?) and the right timing. What helped is that I didn't think it was the right timing - this is where the essential oil comes in, making me ovulate at a normal and therefore unexpected time in my cycle and all - so therefore, in my mind, we weren't really "trying" that month. Does that make sense? Getting pregnant is 90% psychological. 
Things I stopped doing the month we conceived:
  1. Taking ovulation predictor tests: these are really important in diagnosing potential issues in your cycle, which I partly how I discovered I had a short luteal phase. But they also stress you out! Is today a fertile day? Is tomorrow? Why is it not saying I'm fertile? I should be fertile! Ughhh, it's exhausting. And peeing on a test trip or in a cup every single day is annoying. 
  2. Stopped compulsively taking my temp, though I didn't stop charting all together: charting/temping is another thing that is super important for diagnostics and proving to your doctor that you know what you're doing, but it's another source of stress. I would take my temp first thing in the AM, but instead of reading it right away, I'd go back to bed. Sometimes, I wouldn't even read and record the temp until before I went to bed that night. It seemed to help me stop focusing on it so much. I also didn't take it for the first several days of my cycle that month, which gave me a break.
  3. Stopped being so compulsive, period: remember, I didn't think we'd really have a chance at conceiving that month, so I'm sure that was part of it. But I stopped reading forums about early pregnancy signs, stopped obsessing over my chart that month, stopped entering all data into my chart except the bare essentials. I had more of my life back that month, for the first time in a year and a half. 
The bottom line is this: life is a miracle. I know that everything happens for a reason and within God's perfect plan. I see it all so clearly now how He was setting everything into place for this miracle to be conceived. I think back on all the cause and effects that led to every decision, and it's amazing! If one little thing had not happened, I don't know if we'd be having this baby. But that's how God rolls. You have to place your trust in Him because He's got this.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us this miracle and for your incredibly perfect timing and faithfulness! Amen.


We have big news...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Baby Hamilton is on the way! 

Our little one is due February 1, 2016 and we could not be more excited! Alex and I are bursting with love and joy, and humbled that God has given us this miracle. God's perfect plan and timing never cease to amaze me!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. - Proverbs 139:13-16

Friday, yay!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday is just the best day, isn't it? More than the fact that it's Friday, I'm happy August is here! Yes, I know we've still got some dog days of summer coming at us but the end of this cruel, cruel summer is near: I can't take many more 100+ degree days, y'all. I know Columbia is #FamouslyHot, but this is ridiculous!

In the spirit of continuing to make improvements to our home, we had our gutters replaced a few weeks ago on one side of our house, which happened to be the only place on our house that we had gutters, period. We decided to spring for LeafGuard, the kind you don't have to clean out, because we have a big scary tree over the gutter that drops all kinds of junk throughout the year and led to the previous gutter's demise. Well, when I got home the day they were installing the gutter, I was a little confused to see the sparkling new gutter...on the wrong side of the house. After a quick phone call, they told us they'd come and correct their mistake and they did within 2 days. Bonus for us? They left the mistaken gutter since it was already in place so we got Two for One gutters! I'll take that all day long! (Please excuse how excited I am over GUTTERS. I really am an adult.)

I have baby tomatoes in my garden! This is crazy, guys - I've NEVER grown actual fruit or veggies all by myself! It will be a small harvest but it's a start. (And clearly I have something eating the leaves - better check into that.)

We enjoyed a few days at Edisto Beach, SC last weekend. Alex has been traveling SO MUCH for work this summer that it was nice to have a few days to relax with him and just let time slow down. We had some pics taken on the beach with the pups while we were there and I can't wait to share!!

THIS. Pumpkin and fall scents are back at B&BW. Enough said.

Big announcement coming tomorrow so check back! Eeeeeek!  :)

Happy weekending!

Linking up with
 AprilChristinaNatasha and Darci

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