Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BABY C is a SHE!

"Pink or Blue, We love you!" This saying pretty much sums up our emotions going into the night of our big gender reveal party. It didn't matter what the gender was because no matter what we were going to love our child all the days of our lives. This sweet little miracle is already a precious gift from the Lord. What an exciting day this was! We had anxiously awaited this day to finally know if Baby C was a he or a she. It was almost as if finding out the gender of our child would make this baby seem more real. We are still on Cloud 9 if you can't tell.  Words cannot even describe how thrilled we were to find out the gender of our sweet little one! And not only that, we were so humbled by all the family and friends that were excited to celebrate alongside us. So, here are the details about our thoughts along the way, our prayers for this sweet child, God revealing himself in the process, and the gender reveal party.
And now, without further ado...

Adam and I are so excited to announce that we are having a little GIRL!


"For this child, I prayed, and the Lord granted me my petition that I made to him."         1 Samuel 1:27
A special thank you to our dear friend and photographer, Stephanie Adkins! She is so talented and took most of the pictures in this blog post. (Check out her amazing work at www.stephadkins.com.)

Why We Both Wore Pink
Why did y'all both wear pink? Do y'all want the baby to be a girl? Did you know what the gender was before the party? If so, doesn't that give it away before the big reveal? Everyone has been asking us these questions so let me start by answering all of them.

We both wore pink because we both thought our baby was a girl. (More details to come about why we thought Baby C was a girl.) So, we both decided to wear pink and either we would both be right or both be wrong. Only one person knew the gender of our child before the big reveal so what we wore didn't give anything away. When people asked us if we wanted a boy or a girl, we answered that we just wanted a healthy baby and that is the honest truth. We didn't care what gender our child was because in our eyes this our precious little miracle.  Whatever gender God decided to bless us with, we would treasure him/her. Whether Baby C was a he or a she, God already has big plans for his/her life. It blows my mind to think that God has planned out our child's lives so intricately that He already knows what their accomplishments and failures will be, who their best friend will be, when they will come to pursue a relationship with Him, what their passions will be, who they will marry, and their children's lives. The list can goes on and on. Needless to say, God has an amazing future for our little one, and we have total confidence that God knows exactly what He is doing.

"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." Psalm 139:13-16
We think Baby C is a She: 
In one of my previous blog posts, I told about a dream that I had before we knew if I was pregnant. In this dream, our baby was a little girl. Here is the story of the dream I had about a week or so before we saw that big, fat positive on the pregnancy test:

During the waiting time, I had an amazing dream one night. It was a dream that without a doubt was from the Lord. I knew it was a dream from the Lord because of how vividly I remembered it, and the feelings that were tied in with the dream were so real. I dreamt that I was driving my car and stopped at a stoplight. While stopped, I turned around to see our little girl in her carseat. She was grinning from ear to ear. I told her how much I loved her, and then the light turned green. I vaguely remember what she looked like. I'm pretty sure she had blonde hair like me. She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. As I drove home in my dream, I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude because the Lord had blessed us immensely. I kept thanking the Lord for this amazing gift. I was so anxious to get home to Adam, so we could just spend hours soaking up our sweet baby girl. It is almost hard to describe the emotions in this dream. It seemed completely real. I almost feel like I am doing this dream an injustice because I truly can't explain every detail. When I woke up, I told Adam about the dream and how real it was. (I never remember my dreams so this was a miracle in and of itself.) We talked about how cool it was but we also didn't want to put all our hope in a dream. It gave me a glimpse of hope that we might be pregnant. But at the same time, I didn't want to be disappointed again. I wanted to type/write this dream down so that one day if it was true, then I could tell our little girl.
After finding out we were pregnant, the Lord continued to show up in mighty ways and my dreams because of way for Him to speak to me. He used this time, of what could have been filled with much fear given our past with miscarriages, to instead, speak unexplainable peace over our lives in the weeks of the unknown. To me, this was such an incredible way of God continuing to show His faithfulness and He used it as a time where I could learn to trust Him no matter what happened.

You see, I NEVER remember my dreams. (Not unless it was in the midst of a nightmare.) Needless to say, this was already a work of the Lord. I was remembering dreams vividly (which is definitely a pregnancy symptom). But what made this more than just a pregnancy symptom, was the way the dreams were so real and vivid and emotional. I can't really explain what made them different other than the fact that they offered immense peace to us during the first few months of waiting to get to the "safe zone" in this pregnancy. Gosh, the Lord is just so good to know exactly what fears would creep in during this time and how to combat those with His truth and peace.

After the dream I had before we even found out that I was pregnant, I continued to have more vivid dreams. I probably had about 4 by the time we were having our gender reveal party. There were some nights where I would ask the Lord for a dream about our baby because I was feeling anxious about what might could happen. There was several times that he answered this prayer. Every time I had a dream about our child, Baby C was always a girl. In my dreams, she was of different ages which gave me peace knowing that this pregnancy was full term and that she seemed like a perfectly, healthy little girl. Needless to say, when you have a ton of dreams about your baby being a girl, then I think its safe to say that we were completely convinced.

Before the gender reveal, my Dad also had a dream about holding a little baby girl. Adam had a dream about a little girl that was a little older playing around in the old Chapin High School football stadium. (That's where Adam and I are both from.) Other people in our lives would say that overtime they went to text us about our baby, they always said "she" on accident.  They had a feeling that we were going to be having a girl and would comment about how sweet it would be to see my manly husband holding a little girl (that will soften him up real quick). Anyways, time after time, every one seem to think our baby was going to be a girl. Now let me just say, we would have been just as happy with a little boy running around. I think everyone would have been just completely shocked.

I say all this to say that this is why Adam and I both wore pink for the gender reveal. We were completely convinced she was a girl. If we would have been wrong, then oh well-it would have been really funny. We just both felt like the whole pregnancy that the Lord was preparing our hearts for little girl to be joining our family. During this time as I think back, it was so sweet of the Lord to speak to us through dreams and give us that peace and comfort that His Hand was over this baby and our little miracle. And what a blessing she is already and will continue to be.

The Planning Behind Our Gender Reveal Party: 
Adam and I went to a special ultrasound place in Mt. Pleasant called, "Bond with Baby." At this facility, she specializes in 3D and 4D ultrasounds. I scheduled our visit about a month out because I knew that we wouldn't have much time to go to this place before Adam left for his 2 week drill.

Prior to our appointment, I had planned out food, beverages, and decorations with some help from a few friends. We were going to be hosting this at our house so I wanted it to be fun for everyone else also. For the actual reveal, we decided to do Silly String after debating a few other ideas. We figured this was a great way for everyone to be involved and who doesn't love having fun with silly string?! I went to Party City, Dollar Tree, Target, Grocery Stores, etc. to gather most of the supplies and refreshments for the party. I pretty much wiped a couple of Dollar Tree's out by buying all of their blue and pink silly string. I bought about 35 bottles of pink and 35 bottles of blue silly string. (I just based this number loosely on the number of people that had RSVP(ed) about a week out.)

On Thursday, we had our appointment at 4 pm.  I was 15 weeks and a couple of days and they want you to be about 15 weeks before you come in to find out the gender.  (If you are in the Charleston area and want to find out the gender, Bond with Baby is great!) This was such a neat visit! At first, she showed us our baby on the screen. Baby C was moving around constantly and the ultrasound tech even said that this baby was going to be rough on me. Baby C gave us a wave, did some somersaults, and even pretended to faint. It was so entertaining to watch baby moving all around. Then, she showed us the head, feet, toes, hands, fingers, belly, etc. (She showed us everything minus the "private parts.") After quite a show, she turned off the screen and began taking pictures to reveal if Baby C was a he or a she. (We told her prior to that we wanted it to be a surprise tomorrow for our party.) So she collected her evidence via pictures and placed them in an envelope.

Usually, you find out if the baby is a boy or a girl in the room so she only had pink or blue envelopes. She asked me to choose one because whatever color I chose, she was going to use for the envelope and flash drive. We chose pink since we "thought" baby C was a girl. She stepped out of the room and put the stationary card that read "Boy" or "Girl" in the pink envelope along with the pictures with the evidence. She sealed this envelope nice and tight so we wouldn't be able to see inside. She gave us the pink flash drive with the pictures and videos but told us not to plug it in until after the party. She sent us on our way out with lots of fun pictures and memories to share. (She isn't our doctor so she is not allowed to tell you anything about the health of the baby.) We had such a fun time just getting to watch Baby C on the monitor and what a blessing it was for us to see baby moving so much!

I think Baby C might be a girl because she might be a drama queen if so...
Bottoms up-I think it's safe to say our little one is going to be hitting the dance floor often.

Baby C waving at us. "Hey Mommy and Daddy!"

After our appointment, we went about 5 minutes down the road to deliver the envelope to my sweet friend Lauren. Lauren has been one of my close friends ever since we bonded right away in college. She has such a beautiful heart for the Lord and her joy is contagious. I couldn't think of a better person to have asked to know the gender of our baby and prepare everything for us. Her friendship is such a blessing to our family and we can't wait for her to become Aunt LaLa. So...we chatted with Lauren for a little bi, dropped off the very important envelope and both colors of silly string. We left so she could get to work. Lauren's job was to take the lid off whatever color the gender was and wrap a label around the outside just for decoration. I designed a really easy little label that said, "He or She? Wait to spray and see!" (Whatever color wasn't used, was saved so I could later return it to the nearest Dollar Tree after the party.) Here is a picture of all of her hard work:

For the next 24+ hours, Adam and I had to wait to find out what the gender was of Baby C! I was seriously dying to know because the planner in me was ready to start planning details from the nursery to cute clothing. On Friday, I got busy prepping for our big party. I made 48 confetti cupcakes and the rest of the food was easy enough to just mix together in serving dishes. I decorated with help from friends, we iced cupcakes, made last minute errands, and got ready for everyone to arrive at 7. Adam even came home and cut the grass in the summer heat before all the guests arrived. (Good Job on your record grass cutting time babe!) The Refreshments that we served included: Confetti Cupcakes, Goldfish and M & M's,  Skinny Popcorn, Assorted Fruit Tray, and Strawberry Platter. The drinks we served were Baby Boy Punch (Pineapple Juice, Hawaiian Punch-Blue, and Sprite) and  Baby Girl Punch (Tickled Pink Lemonade Mix). 

It's Party Time!
Our guests started to arrive around 7 pm on Friday. In the invitation, we told everyone to wear pink or blue to cast their vote for whether they thought Baby C was a boy or a girl. As we greeted all our guests, we had them also cast their vote on the chalkboard under boy or girl.

The gender reveal was set to happen around 8 pm after all the guests had arrived. We started heading outside for some pictures before the actual reveal. We wanted to take a group picture of everyone who voted blue and everyone who voted pink at the party. It was really cool that night to see so many people that have been praying for us and loving us through this journey to come together to celebrate our baby. We decided to hop in both pictures since we are the parents to be. We have been really fortunate to have so many people walking through life with us through the ups and downs.  This is what godly community looks like. We have truly been blessed by it and we always encourage others to find community in their home church. Thank you to all the people below and all the others who couldn't make it that night. We couldn't thank you enough for your love, support, encouragement, and prayers. Here are the 2 different groups:

And now....It is gender reveal time!! The moment we were all waiting for! Adam and I stood in the middle of our back yard with our guests circled around us. Adam and I were going to spray each other while everyone else sprayed us. So, Lauren passed out all the Silly String to the guests and we got ready. Lauren counted and 1, 2, 3.....

Baby C is a GIRL! Lots and lots of PINK silly string went everywhere. We had a blast finding out via silly string what Baby C was especially with our family and friends! Thank you to everyone who came and made this night so special! Baby Girl is loved so much by so many people already and we are truly blessed. God surely has given us so much that we don't deserve. We pray so many things for our daughter but most of all we pray that she would have a purpose in life that is only God given. Stay tuned for the next post on prayers for our daughter and the meaning behind her name...

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness, with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." 2 Peter 1:3-7

Monday, June 20, 2016

Baby Curtis-Due Christmas Day!

Adam and I have some exciting news to share: Baby Curtis is due on December 25, 2016! We could not be more grateful and humbled to celebrate this sweet gift from the Lord. 
Our child is truly our little Christmas miracle. 

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Although we are thrilled to be pregnant, we would not be giving the Lord credit for this baby if we didn't share our whole story. We feel that by just sharing the good part of our story, then no one will truly be able to see how the Lord has worked in our lives. You see, our story is not an easy one. Our story might end with the upmost joy but it has been an incredibly, painful journey. This is our story of our two miscarriages, our months of infertility, and our current and healthy pregnancy. This post is not a post to make you feel sorry for us but a post to share God's faithfulness in our story and how we have been redeemed. This is our testimony of just how good and loving and beautiful our Heavenly Father truly is.

Our prayer is that by sharing our intimate struggles that more people will come to know Jesus and God will get the glory for this beautiful testimony He has written about our lives. Our other prayer is that women would know that, "You are not alone!" There are so many times during our story where we felt ashamed and that we needed to hide what was going on in our lives. This is a lie from Satan. He wants us to keep our struggles a secret BUT when we shed light on these dark areas, God brings forth redemption and healing and peace.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5 
Our last prayer is that the Lord would continue to use us in this lifetime to bring Him glory. Whether we are rejoicing or we are mourning, we will always Praise His Holy Name

Our First Pregnancy

On January 20, 2015 (My Birthday), Adam and I found out that we were expecting our first little baby! What a special day that was and there was nothing short of excitement and rejoicing from the 2 of us! 
I can't really explain the feelings you get when you find out you are going to be a Mommy. Suddenly your whole world turns upside down with anticipation over this new baby. You start calculating the baby's due date, thinking about names, what the nursery will look like, wondering if it will be a boy or a girl, dreaming about who your child will become, and all the amazing things your child will accomplish in this lifetime. Finding out that you are going to be parents is exciting, overwhelming, and nerve racking but it sure is stocked full of hopes and dreams for this sweet child to come into this world. I just remember thinking that suddenly my life had a whole new purpose and meaning that I couldn't even describe. 
Adam and I decided to keep it a secret for a little while until we could go to the doctor and think up a fun way to reveal it to both of our parents. So we scheduled a doctors appointment!  I wasn't sure what OB to go to because we had not been in Summerville very long so I just found the closest facility.

In February, Adam and I went to our first appointment to see our little one. We had a typical normal first appointment where you talk about being pregnant, all the things you can't eat, and what you can and cannot do while expecting. Then, they took my blood pressure, urine sample, and blood work. We met our new OB doctor and then to the exciting part which was the ultrasound. At this point, I was about 7 1/2 weeks along so we were able to see a pretty clear ultrasound of our baby and we got to hear the heartbeat which was measuring about 160 beats per minute. It was probably the coolest thing I have ever experienced! Gosh, we were just so excited and overwhelmed with happiness! We left the doctor feeling so blessed and humbled that He had chosen us to be parents and that our baby was healthy and growing right on track. Baby Curtis was due on September 26, 2015.

In about mid February, Adam and I closed on our first house in Summerville, SC! We were so thrilled to have more space, especially since we were expecting. So, we figured-what better way to announce it to our parents when they both would be in town to help us move. So we packed up our apartment into what seemed like hundreds of boxes! We set aside 2 specially packaged boxes for the future grandparents. (This is what happens when you are a house divided.) Here is a picture of my parents box (The Gamecock one of course) and Adam's parents box (The Clemson one):

What an exciting day this was to be able to announce to both our parents and see their faces when they found out they were going to be grandparents! Once we had moved all the boxes, furniture, etc. into our new home, I decided to ask our Mom's for some help unpacking. I gave them their special boxes to start unloading in the kitchen. The pictures above are what they saw when they opened the box. They were completely shocked, confused as to if this was a joke or not but ecstatic!! That is something we will never forget. It was such a fun time to celebrate our new home and the baby! After that, the cat was out of the bag. They called every family member you can possibly imagine.

When we did get the chance to tell friends and family, I just really realized how blessed we are to have such amazing family, friends and community pouring out their love and support to us. Little did we know, they would be what got us through the hardest times in our life in the weeks, months, and years to come. God Bless their souls because the people God has placed in our life are some of the greatest blessings we will ever know.

My second appointment was scheduled for March 10, 2015. At this appointment, I was 11 1/2 weeks. A date that is forever etched in my mind as a nightmare that unfolded before my eyes. (Please keep in mind that as I type this, I am having to relive every step of the way. I think there is something beautiful about the way the Lord is with me in this but it is still very hard for me to "relive and process" through this all over again.)

Adam was working later that day and had trouble getting off for work. So I told him not to worry about coming to my appointment this time. I was called back to get the usual urine sample, blood drawn and blood pressure. This time was different though. Something didn't seem right. The nurses kept asking me questions about if I was having any extreme cramping or spotting or bleeding. All to which I answered no. I was so confused-why were they asking me this. Was this normal questioning? I couldn't figure it out but something was just off.

I went in with my OB doctor and she tried to find the heartbeat by using a fetal doppler hand held monitor. She heard nothing which I proceeded to ask if this was normal. She said that sometimes they can't pick up on the baby's heartbeat until I'm further along. In the back of my mind, I am thinking, "last time there was no trouble finding any heartbeat on the ultrasound." Again, I had this overwhelming sense of uneasiness wash over me. Last, she decided to have the ultrasound tech try and find the heartbeat with an normal ultrasound. The next 10 minutes of my life was the worst pain I have ever experienced. I am not even sure I can put it into words. As I waited to see/hear the heartbeat during this ultrasound, there was nothing. No movement, no sound, no heartbeat. Not to mention the ultrasound tech would not tell me one word about what was going on. I was in full panic mode. She had me sit up and told me that the baby was only measuring 8 weeks of growth  when I was supposed to be 11 1/2 weeks along. Their was no heartbeat and no movement and this baby was no longer living. This was titled a "missed miscarriage" because my body had not expelled anything even though the baby was no longer living.

I was paralyzed and shocked and fearful and hurt. It felt like I had literally been stabbed and couldn't breathe. As she told me to meet my OB in the next room, I started sobbing and trying to get a hold of Adam at work. I was calling everyone he worked with trying to get him on the phone. I finally reached him and told him he needed to come here right away and it was not good. I am not really sure what all I said at that point because it all seems so blurry. I remember the OB talking with Adam and I about our options of how this baby was going to be miscarried. It was too much to process. I still hadn't come to the realization of what was going on, much less, was I able to think about next steps. Between sobbing, I just kept asking, "Why would this happen to us? Why God?  I was confused, sad, angry, and about a million other emotions all at once.

Our world had just come crashing down. I didn't know what to do. Thank you Lord for my sweet and gracious husband. He was my rockstar during all of this. I watched at his called and texted numerous friends and family of our horrific news. I had to watch him relive what happened every time he talked to someone else. I am beyond grateful for him being such a strong man because during this time I was hysterical and there was no way I could talk with anyone. I've never seen something crush him like this did. It was the first time in our lives (and we have been together for many years prior to marriage) where I watched my husband break down in front his own dad. I will never forget that moment because I knew that we were in this together and we were both hurting. Only the Lord could bring us out of this pit.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

On March 12, 2015, I went under for surgery for a D and C. After praying about what to do, this seemed like the best option. Our doctor said that although I hadn't miscarried naturally, it was only a mater of time before it happened. She recommended a D and C because we were so far along that any other option would be too painful. The day of my surgery, we had so many friends and family members pouring out prayers over us. I am so thankful for that because it was a long and hard day. Half of me was not wanting to have this surgery because they were removing a "piece of me" but the other half of me was ready for it to be over and done with and wondering what the future would hold. The surgery went fine, and we went home a couple of hours later. I was still in a good amount of pain and side effects (I will spare the details).

The next few days and even weeks were quite a blur. We would only allow our parents to come and visit. I didn't feel good or up to seeing any friends. I was just feeling very alone and secluded and needed time with just Adam for us to process through this and grieve. I was also a complete mess. I remember going out for the first time to Lowe's and to get lunch. I about lost it in the restaurant when I saw a Mom with a new baby. I couldn't handle it. It was everywhere around me. I shut myself off from the world, from social media, from friends, and even family. Usually, I take a million pictures, and trying to hang out with friends, but during those months I don't have hardly any pictures or see anyone. I couldn't stand to smile in a picture knowing that I wasn't being honest about the pain behind my fake smile. I woke up every night crying out in my sleep or having nightmares. I didn't want anyone to pity us and I've always loved doing things for others but, I was having a hard time letting people do things for me. The only thing I knew to ask for was prayer. There was nothing anyone could do to take the pain away or to heal me.

Thank goodness for people that were honest with me about experiencing a miscarriage and understanding exactly what that meant. They truly understood that I was in need of healing in many ways: spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. It was the first time where I felt like I could be myself because I was no longer alone. I'm so thankful for friends that sent us flowers, books, devotionals, thoughtful cards, and prints with verses on them. All of these things were such great reminders to turn to the Lord even when his plan didn't make sense in our eyes. His plan is always greater and better than our own. Our human minds can't seem to grasp or even comprehend the greatness of God and the plan he has for us. (Or at least I know mine can't.) One book that really helped Adam and I during this time is a John Piper book called, "A Sweet and Bitter Providence." It is a book that breaks down the book of the Bible, Ruth, by chapter.
This was the Lord's reminder that He is at work even in the worst of times. "The book of Ruth is one of the most graphic stories of how God hides his smiling face behind a frowning providence." Even during pain and sorrow and hard times, Ruth was able to see the Lord and trust that His purpose for these trials would benefit her whether she could see that or not. 

Months of healing physically seemed to creep by very slowly. We anxiously awaited for the doctors to say that all was well and that we could try again to get pregnant. As ready and excited as I was for this, I was also consumed by a lot of fear about what could happen again. Once you have experienced a miscarriage, pregnancy has a whole new meaning. It brings forth a lot of fear and anxiety until you are in the "safe zone."

We had a close friend share a story with us during this hard time that really offered some peace. She had a friend who we didn't know that had just had a miscarriage. Her friend was spending some time with the Lord and felt the Lord whisper this to her: "Don't you know that I have given your child the greatest gift imaginable... Your child got to see My Face first." Wow! Something in that really stuck with me. What a powerful truth. Our sweet child is dancing up in Heaven and praising Jesus every single second and our child's first face that she/he ever saw was the face of their Heavenly Father. That story gives me chills and just offers so much peace to such a broken and sinful world. 

Some friends of Adam and I comforted us with this verse that they memorized and recited anytime fear started to creep in:

"So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10