Monday, February 6, 2017

Allyne Maren Jensen

Brandt, Jayce, and I are SO EXCITED to announce the arrival of our newest bundle of joy.

Allyne Maren Jensen was born on January 24th, 2017. She weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz. and was 19.5 inches long. Her name is Allyne, but we will be calling her Ally (everyone can feel free to do the same).

A lot of people have been asking how to pronounce her name. Allyne is my middle name, and it is pronounced Al-een. Ally is pronounced like, well, how it looks. Think "Aly Raisman" (the gymnast).

I haven't blogged since Jayce was 6 months old (YIKES) and I usually just keep everyone updated on Facebook and Instagram. However, since this is a birth story and destined to be a little longer, I thought what better way to update everyone than on my trusty blog. So here it goes! Ally's birth story.

Before I became pregnant, and we were thinking that maybe another baby was in our future, I was convinced that I wanted a VBAC. For those who don't know, a VBAC is a "vaginal birth after cesarean." It just sounded like something I wanted, and I would NOT even entertain the idea of another c-section. I remembered recovering from my first one and it was no walk in the park. I wanted to try a VBAC, end of story.

VBAC's are common, but you have to still find a hospital and a doctor who are insured to do them. Luckily, I did. His name was Dr. Babb and honest to goodness, he is the best doctor I have ever had. I will touch on that further in a little bit. It seemed like a perfect scenario. His offices were right across the street from the hospital. They were both located in Tulsa so it was close to Brandt's parents who could take care of Jayce for us. So, I scheduled a new patient checkup with him in May of last year. He got to know me and I got to know him a little bit and he seemed like a perfect fit. When I explained that for our next baby, I would like to try a VBAC, he was super supportive but said that he currently couldn't take any VBAC patients, but that could change in the near-ish future. This didn't really bother me as I "wasn't pregnant yet."

HAHA. Yeah, I was.

I was a couple of weeks pregnant at that appointment but wouldn't find out for a few weeks after that. So, needless to say, he was surprised when I came back in July and was pregnant already.

He spoke with me again about my delivery options. He said that if I did want to do a VBAC, that there were some awesome doctors there in his practice who were taking VBAC patients. Now that I was pregnant though, I was having some reservations about doing a VBAC. I'm not sure why, and still to this day I am not sure why. I kind of didn't feel the need to question why. I had decided pretty early on in the pregnancy that I wanted a repeat c-section. Once I had made the decision, I felt incredibly calm and excited to deliver. And, on the plus side, I got to keep Dr. Babb, which I was so happy about because he was literally my favorite!

Now that I gave a little bit of a background on HOW the baby was going to come, I will go into the actual story. My doctor scheduled me for January 24th, 2017 for his first c-section of the day at 7:00 AM. So, we had to get there at 5. Not super fun but I couldn't sleep the night before anyway. I was way too excited.

So we woke up EARLY, got our bags, and headed to the hospital. Shortly after arrival, they got me all hooked up and inserted my IV which is, and always has been, my least favorite part. I'm not sure what it is. I think it's because it stays in my arm and is just freaky. And they always do it like RIGHT when you get there and get in your hospital gown. Anyway, they inserted my IV and asked me about my father's mother's dog's medical history. Once all of this was done, We had some time to just sit in our room and wait. Brandt covered me with a blanket because all of the fluids they were pumping in me had me shivering like crazy. Then, my doctor came in and told me it was almost go time! Once he said that, I was like "Holy crap........it's time." Suddenly, I began to wonder where all the time had gone, because I could have sworn I had just found out I was pregnant. Since this was a scheduled c-section, I would be getting a spinal block. This is done in a sterile environment in the OR so Brandt had to wait outside. I HATED leaving him even for the 5 minutes it took to complete the procedure.

Once they wheeled me up to the OR doors, my doctor was right there to help me up. I had to stand up so I could get up onto the table. I was told beforehand that a nurse would stand in front of me and mentally help me through getting the spinal, but instead, my doctor did. When I told you he was one of the best doctors I've ever had, I meant it. I have never had a doctor care for me in such small ways as Dr. Babb did. Instead of standing off to the side and just waiting for everything to get started as is pretty normal, or walking in right before they start, he was there the whole time. I am so so so grateful for him. He is such an amazing doctor! Anything a nurse could have done in the operating room before the c-section started, he did. Down to rubbing my back while they stuck me with needles! I seriously recommend him to ANYONE in the Tulsa area. You won't be disappointed.

It was finally time to get started. Brandt walked in right as they were beginning. We talked the whole time. I kept asking him what he thought Jayce was doing. He kept having to tell me that it was still quite early and he was probably sleeping. I felt literally nothing (YAY DRUGS) but I was shaky, despite feeling quite warm and comfortable. It was overall just a WEIRD feeling. After about 10 or 15 minutes, my doctor said "Ok Liz, you will feel quite a lot of pressure now." His assistant then put his forearm on the very top of my belly and puuuuuushed. At that point, Dr. Babb asked them to take down the drape so I could see the baby being born. Wow! What an incredible moment. I couldn't see any blood or incisions anything, just Ally being lifted up Lion King style. Brandt was behind me, and standing, so I am really curious as to how much he saw. I asked him if he saw anything too gross and his response was "........I'm fine." LOL

Dr. Babb does what is called "family centered c-sections", which basically means they drop the drape to allow me to see the baby as she is being born, and then I get to hold her in the OR and even begin nursing if I wanted to. His goal is to make the c-section experience as pleasant as possible, and allow us the opportunity to witness as much of her birth as possible and keep her as close as possible afterwards. I didn't get to experience any of this with Jayce, so I was ecstatic over the fact that I got to keep my baby with me constantly. Just being able to experience the birth of my daughter in such a way really helped me cope with some of the struggles I have had with being knocked out for Jayce's birth, and not getting to experience his first few minutes of life. I feel very blessed.

They took Ally to wipe her off and everything while the doctors started closing me up. The whole time, they kept asking how I was doing, and if I could feel any pain or discomfort. I kept making them laugh with my responses because I was just so happy in that moment. I really couldn't feel anything, and to be quite honest, it was the most comfortable I had been in months. So I said "I feel awesome. Great job, everyone!" They all laughed. Pretty sure I was their favorite patient of the day.

I got a special procedure done in the OR before I was wheeled away. The anesthesiologists gave me some sort of block in my abdomen area that lasts for about 4 days. I attribute this to my basically awesome recovery. Again, YAY DRUGS.

Once we were all done, and baby Ally was on my chest, they wheeled me to the recovery room which had the warmth of a 16th century torture chamber. It's just the place they take patients to allow the anesthesia to wear off. It was there that I got to nurse Ally and bond with her and talk with Brandt. After about 45 minutes, I was able to move my legs slightly, so they wheeled me back to our room.

We stayed a total of two nights, even though I was cleared to go home the day after we had her. She had jaundice and needed to be observed overnight. Which, though we are grateful for their diligence, we knew that keeping her in the sun and going every day to her pediatrician to check her levels would do the trick. Which, it did. They never did lights or anything. Just kept her an extra night. I was going a bit stir crazy and just wanted to be home and shower in my own bathroom and sleep in my own bed.

I was told multiple times that I was such an easy patient. I really tried to be, but it wasn't too hard because I was feeling awesome! I am now about two weeks postpartum and have only had a few times where I have felt like "Wow, yeah, I just had major abdominal surgery." But other than that, I feel surprisingly normal. Having two kids, on the other hand, has been super interesting! Today is my first day flying solo. Wish us luck!

And now, for a TON of pictures! Enjoy!

The final moments before her big arrival

Comfy in bed before she got here

Selfie in the OR!

Just me and my girl

Her first few moments of life

Dad giving her a bath

Dad holding Ally back in the room

My mom holding Ally

Those little legs <3

Jayce meeting Ally!










Monday, October 6, 2014

SIX MONTHS!

Um, we have a six month old. What? I'm confused because I'm pretty sure last Saturday I was at the hospital having him. Saying "the time goes by so fast" is a huuuuuge understatement. The time doesn't just go by fast, but I seriously don't think it even existed. My mind is blown.

I wanted to update everyone on Jayce! He's doing fabulous and is seriously the happiest baby on the face of the earth. He hardly ever cries. When he does, it's just because he's either tired or hungry. He's always content to be "by himself" (on his play mat while I'm doing the dishes or something.) We really lucked out. I've never seen a happier kid.

Since day one, he has been alert and wide eyed, just taking everything in. That's only magnified as he's gotten older! He loves to watch everything. If I try to snuggle him while we're out somewhere, with things going on, he won't have it. He needs to be watching everything 24/7. So needless to say, the band competitions and football games have been heaven on earth. So many noises and shiny things.

(Hanging out at BAI)

He's doing great at rolling over and is starting to stick his butt in the air, so I know he's beginning to grasp the concept of crawling. I think he looks like an inch worm! He can also sit up fairly well, just over the last few days he has improved to where I usually just sit behind him in case he tips over, which is becoming less and less frequent. Yay! 

(Sitting and looking so big!)

We did the inevitable this past week and cut his luscious locks, which were actually becoming less luscious and more greasy. It needed to happen, but it was so tough. I didn't want to do it just because it would change him! But in hindsight I'm so glad I did. He needed it. 

(Before & after)

Jayce is also a pretty perfect sleeper. He goes down between 9-10, wakes up at 5 or so, goes back down at 5:30, ad wakes up for the day around 9 usually. The only problem is he is still using his handy dandy velcro swaddle, which is a blessing and a curse. I wish I could say he sleeps that well just laying in his crib but noooo. We've tried that and he will have none of it. He just likes being snug and warm (just like mom) when he sleeps. So we researched and purchased him a Zippedee-Zip. I'll do a product review when we get it for all of my swaddling mom friends, or even moms who just wish their kid would sleep better. I've heard fabulous things about it! 

Jayce likes:
- drums (meh.)
- some baby food, like pears and peas.
- music
- talking
- watching us eat
- standing up
- car rides...never fail to put him to sleep

Jayce dislikes: 
- loud noises (besides drums.)
- some baby food, like sweet potatoes
- being cold
- barking dogs (sorry Milo...we're trying!)
- strangers in his space, but he's getting better

He has his 6 month check up on Friday. He weighs just about 16 lbs even! Not sure about everything else. Yay Jaycer!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jayce Roy Jensen

(Note: Brandt's comments will appear in a green throughout the post... hopefully they are not too dumb..) 
Our lives have been turned upside down in just a matter of days, but in the best way possible. Our little boy has blessed our lives beyond measure. Though we are tired and nervous that we are possibly doing something wrong, we are so so happy and smitten with our little boy (like literally, he is smiting us while we hold him).

Since he is napping, I thought I would take some time to write his birth story. Don't worry, I will try to be as censored as possible. I will start at the arrival at the hospital.

It was 6 AM. We arrived at the hospital for my scheduled induction. I was incredibly nervous and anxious about what was going to happen. I think I can say the same for Brandt, too! They let me change and get into bed and inserted my IV. And, of course, as my luck would have it, she blew right through my vein, causing a lot of pain and a gnarly bruise. Another nurse tried the other side and got it in and I was happy. What a way to start our hospital stay, right? (Liz was actually starting to go into shock after the IV didn't work the first time - lots of shaking. At this point, I'm like, "Liz is doomed.") My doctor came in and asked "Are you sure you wanna do this?" and I said "Yep! No turning back now!" She checked me and I was dilated to a 2. Her and a nurse then broke my water (which is exactly as painful as it sounds) and started me on Pitocin, a drug used to start contractions (and it tasted delicious). And boy, did they start. They were about 2 minutes apart and, in my opinion, pretty intense. For a while, I just breathed through them while laying in bed. However, after a while, I switched to an exercise ball on the side of the bed. Brandt helped me with my breathing and was being a very good coach. He even learned how to read the monitor so he could tell me when they were going down and up and what to expect. Just one of the many things he was amazing at throughout the day.

One big thing I was anxious for was for my mom to arrive. I hadn't seen her since September! I was so happy she was able to come and I was able to see her. She was so helpful throughout the entire weekend. I don't know the precise time, but her and Brandt's mom eventually showed up. When I saw my mom, I just broke down into tears. They were happy tears, of course! It isn't until you don't have your mom with you that you realize just how much you really do need her sometimes.

After some time, my contractions were becoming unbearable. The nurse came in and said "Hm...we need to increase your Pitocin and get these contractions stronger!" I was like "What?! That isn't as strong as they go?" She checked me and I was probably around a 5. I knew then that it was time for my epidural. Best. Decision. Ever. After about an hour, the anesthesiologist came in and inserted it, which was not nearly as bad as I had imagined it. The worst part was the tiny little prick of numbing medicine they put on the sight before inserting the epidural. That was seriously it! And for how much relief it provided, I would get one over and over and over and over again. I was so happy after that.

Once my epidural was in, I was able to have some nice conversation with my mom, mother in law, and Brandt. (she was a little loopy) I think I eventually fell asleep, but not for long. I was checked again, and was still dilating! It was a miracle. I didn't feel a thing, so for them to tell me that I was progressing made for one happy Liz.

At this point, it was getting kind of late and my epidural seemed to be changing. I was feeling contractions again! Not good. I was still kind of numb but was just overall feeling some discomfort. The anesthesiologist came in and inserted something into my epidural that felt so weird. (I walked into the room to Liz getting a little weepy. I was extremely glad to have the anesthesiologist help her out.) I felt a tingly sensation all the way down my back and down one leg. So weird, but it helped and took some of the edge off.

It was getting close to midnight at this point. Both soon-to-be grandmas went home at about this time. [visiting hours ended at about 8:30pm, but the hospital staff didn't say anything so they stayed :) ] I was checked again and was nearly at a 9, but had slowed down and Jayce was still very high up there. He was having trouble descending. At this point, Brandt gave me a blessing. I was so calm and relaxed after that. I knew everything was going to be okay and that our boy would be okay. My doctor came in and said I was going to start pushing to try to get him to come down. My epidural was still working but pushing was extremely painful. I knew that wasn't right. But, I pushed anyways. And pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. For an hour and a half. Through a ton of pain. It was honestly awful. And to make matters worse, he was still not descending. At that point, I knew what was coming and my doctor confirmed it: c-section. Honestly, I felt very calm and okay with it. Brandt was also very relieved. Turns out, my body was just not meant to birth babies naturally. I am just way too small and he couldn't make it down.

This part sucked, because they obviously had to prep the c-section room, but since I wasn't supposed to be pushing anymore, I just had to breathe through contractions. It seriously sucked so much and since my epidural was wearing off, I could feel almost everything and I couldn't do anything about it. Brandt got into his super cool scrubs and he looked awesome! What a trooper. He was great through the whole process and I love him for that. He did great at keeping me calm.(They took Liz away and told me they would be back in 10 minutes. After about 25 minutes or more they finally brought me in)

Finally, they wheeled me in to the c-section room. I was getting extremely scared at this point. I have never had any type of surgery, so to go from so little to so much in one day was overwhelming to say the very least!

Now is where things get a little groggy. I will try to just explain from memory or from what I have been told by Brandt, who was there the whole time.

Only one side of me was numb by the time I got all prepped. So I could feel a LOT on my right side. Like, when I say a lot, I mean I could feel cutting. I spoke up quickly, and they got me taken care of...in that I just got gassed up REALLY well. I was really fighting the gas mask, but eventually it worked. I remember thinking "I am still alive. I am still alive. I am still alive." (Liz may not remember much here, but she was kinda conscious. I would squeeze her hand during the surgery and she would squeeze back. Luckily they had a barrier in front of me so I didn't see the surgery... I hate blood. Eventually, I heard a little baby scream! A nurse came back to me and asked me to come see him in the warmer as they cleaned him up. When I got over there, there were a couple of nurses cleaning him up. He was all blue and I didn't know if that was normal or not. I guess it wasn't because he was not making any noise and the nurses body language was not positive. I then made the mistake of looking back and seeing all of the blood while Liz was still being operated on. I now started to become a little emotionally unstable. I was scared for a second - there was blood all over my wife and my little baby was not breathing. A few tears welled up in my eyes as I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. Then another baby cry came out and it never sounded so good. Baby Jayce had some fluid that he inhaled and they were working on getting it out of him. He was OKAY! I tried not to look back at Liz because of the blood but I knew she was going to be okay. I will always cherish the moment when my son got to hold my finger as they got him all cleaned up.)  It was extremely scary, to be honest. But, soon, I was completely out and the next thing I remember, they were holding Jayce up to my head and he was just staring into my eyes. He would not break eye contact at all, and I didn't want him to. It was as if he was looking into my eyes and trying to say "I'm so sorry you had to go through so much pain, but I am so very happy to see you!" I just lost it, or at least I did on the inside. I like to think I kept my cool. ;) (When they brought Jayce to Liz, the anesthesiologist took the gas mask off her face and kept lightly slapping her to wake her up saying "Elizabeth, Elizabeth"....)

If there are such things as out of body experiences, this was definitely one for me. I remember a lot, but at the same time, I remember nothing. Time seemed to stand still and go a thousand miles a minute. I knew where I was, but I was so lost and confused. I was feeling everything all at once. Thinking about it now brings up so many emotions. I still feel scared, for some reason. But, I know that I am safe and Jayce is safe and that it is all over!

Brandt and him got to spend the first little bit of time of Jayce's life together, and that brings me so much happiness. I am just so happy Brandt was there to keep him safe. (I'm lucky. :) I got to spend a lot of baby-daddy time with Jayce in the nursery while Liz was getting all fixed up. It was a lot of fun spending time with him while the nurses helped him get all settled into life.)

Also, during my c-section, I lost about half of my blood and for the first few days, I was considered "critical" by the doctors and extremely anemic, but I was not experiencing any symptoms or problems that were a cause for concern. They didn't feel the need to give me any blood. I guess my body was just simply rebuilding my blood on its own just fine, but it made for moving around and doing much of anything pretty difficult. My first walk from the bed to the bathroom was brutal. I felt like I had no bones in my body!

Luckily, my recovery has been going smoothly so far. I have a ton more energy and all of the swelling in my legs has gone down and I can actually move around! I have had the best help though. Brandt has been the best at helping with me and the baby. I'm so glad we've been able to spend this first week together as a family! Even if we are tired all the time!

Needless to say, if I were to have had a strict "birth plan", this would not have been it. However, I am so grateful that things turned out the way they did and that our little man is healthy and strong! Seeing him and holding him seemed to wash away any pain or discomfort or sadness I had at the time. I was so frightened that day, especially when they started wheeling me in for my c-section, but when I saw Brandt and held his hand and then I saw Jayce, everything was better. I am so happy we are all okay and I love my little family.

And now, behold! A ton of pictures.

 The room when we got there.

 Brandt took a picture of me sleeping. Not sure when this was! (There was a previous picture where Liz was posing with a thumbs up. I wanted to get a more realistic picture of what life was like for her.)
 Dr. Dad all geared up for the c-section.

 I think this picture of them holding hands is precious. 2:43 AM. (Taken right after Jayce was born)

 It's so strange. Everything before and after this moment is a complete blur, but when they held him close to my head and he stared at me, I could remember everything. It was one of the most magical moments I had ever experienced!
 Jayce hangin' out in the nursery

 Daddy and Jayce. :)

 Our first (very tired) family photo. 

 All cheeks!

 Nana's first time holding Jayce.

 Grandma's first time holding Jayce.

 Kay's first time holding Jayce.

 Grandpa's first time holding Jayce.

 GOING HOME!!!!!

 Being adorable. Currently 7 lbs. 15 ounces. He was born 21 and a half inches long but has since not been measured yet. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Story!

Hi everyone! As promised, I wanted to write a little update about our lives. Specifically about this new adventure that we are (definitely both) going through: PREGNANCY! I know that the majority of people want to know how we found out and what happened and everything, so I figured I should do an update for everyone. Here goes nothing.

I remember the last thing I felt like eating before I was sick for 3 months. It was pizza. We had just moved in to our new home in Bartlesville (Here to fore known as "B-Ville" to save some time) and the staff from Brandt's school helped us. Afterwards, we were all invited to the head director's house for some pizza. I hadn't eaten all day and it sounded heavenly! That was the last thing that sounded good for 3 months or more.

The next day I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. We hadn't set up our bed yet, so we were sleeping on air mattresses. I blamed that for the cause of my awful state. But, no really, it was bad. Or, I at least remember it being that bad. It feels like forever ago!

I brushed off the feeling and tried to go about my normal routine...which was actually far from normal, considering all of our stuff was still in boxes and I was tasked to do all of the unpacking and decorating since Brandt was off getting ready for his first day of school! Luckily, I like going through stuff, even if it is my stuff, so I had some fun. After a few days, though, I was just feeling worse and worse. Constant sickness, achy body, headaches, cramps. The works. I tried to think of what could be wrong, and came to the very unlikely conclusion that the move and the stress of moving were the culprits. I had convinced myself that was it, and that I would be feeling better in no time. HA!

Fast forward about a month. Still feeling sick. And to answer your question, no. I did not take a pregnancy test. I will get to that later. School and marching band for Brandt was in full swing! I wasn't working yet, so I pretty much went to all of the activities and rehearsals so that I didn't go crazy in our house all by myself. It really did help take my mind off of how bad I was feeling. Although, bus rides and football games were not so helpful. SO MANY SMELLS. Ugh!

At this point in the story, I had finally started to consider the fact that "holy crap...I might be pregnant." However, that is about as far as I would go before I just brushed it off again as "stress" from my pretty much "not stressful" life.

In September, I flew to Arizona for my little sister's wedding. I was so excited! Brandt couldn't come, because of school. This bummed me out. I did NOT want to travel without him. But, I sucked it up and braved the airports all by myself. In the real world, I was about 12 weeks pregnant. In Liz's world, I just felt icky all the time and was in some serious denial. I said sooooo many prayers that I would not be the person to throw up into the air sickness bag. And, wouldn't you know it? I didn't! I was pretty proud of myself. There was a close call in the Houston airport during my connection, though. I won't go into the details, but I am just glad I followed my gut (pun intended) and stepped out of the checkout line momentarily before getting on the plane. Let's just stick with that.

My mommy and sister and another bridesmaid named Alicia picked me up from the airport and it was crazy from the start! Before we even went home, we had to look for shoes and jewelry and eat lunch and walk around the outdoor mall looking for other things for the wedding and look into getting my dress hemmed. All I could think about was how badly I wanted to take a nap. My mom said we were going to Chipotle for lunch. Which, if you know me, you know that is my absolute favorite place ever! However, at that moment, it just sounded awful. I braved it, though, and I am glad I did because it was BOMB. I had started noticing that food still sounded bad, but eating was wonderful. I was hopeful that this meant the end of my sickness spell and I would be all better!

During the course of my trip, I think I spent half of my time napping, for which I feel really bad about. I was just exhausted. Even the simplest task just took the life out of me. I didn't know it at the time, but this was putting up some red flags for my mother. I should have known! Luckily, she didn't say anything during the trip. I would have felt really foolish if she would have asked if I was pregnant and I just said "I don't know...I haven't taken a test." It was starting to sound really dumb, even to me.

I got home from my trip and life started back up again. I was actually starting to feel a little better, so one night I made dinner for Brandt. I made paninis. While I was slicing a tomato, I said "I'm gonna take a test, I think." He just said "Okay!" or something very chill like that. The funny thing is, we had basically come to the conclusion that I was, but had still not done anything to confirm it. Kinda silly. No matter how prepared I was for that little plus sign to show up, there is still NOTHING that can prepare you for that little plus sign to show up. All I heard was Brandt laughing at the TV (probably Family Guy) as I sat in the bathroom holding that stupid stick in my hand. Positive? But....what? I was confused. Though everything in the cosmos was pointing at the fact that I was pregnant, I still couldn't believe it. I shuffled to the top of the stairs and looked down at Brandt, who looked up at me, and I said "It says positive." His response was priceless.

"There's a baby in there???"

Yep, there was a baby in there. A pretty "big" one at that, too! I did the math faster than I had ever done math in my life. I was about 13 weeks. "Oh, crap." I realized that meant I was already out of my first trimester. That overwhelmed me. I could have been doing things to get ready for this child...but no! I was stuck in Denial Land.

(checked out of Denial Land)

Brandt and I hugged and were really excited, but you could tell we both had no clue what to do next. I was like "Um...do we tell anyone?" He said I should probably call a doctor. "Right...a doctor. I am going to need one of those." I was so lost. It was hysterical!

Flash forward to a few weeks later. I went to the doctor for my first ultrasound. What a trip! Seeing my baby doing flips and twists in my belly but not being able to feel anything was so strange. However, I immediately fell in love with our little guy. He was so precious!

(All his glory! I think he will look like Brandt because he was drinking some water and was holding it in his cheeks and the way he looked from the side looked exactly like this. Fun fact.)

Now was when we could start telling friends and everything, which was a hoot! I loved that part. Some of the reactions were priceless. I also didn't anticipate telling not one but TWO of my best friends only to find out that they, too, were expecting. Well, one was a boy and his wife was obviously the pregnant one. Lol. THAT was amazing and I had never been happier in my life!

Flash forward to now! I only have 12 weeks to go in my pregnancy and I couldn't be more excited to meet our son. He is going to be awesome, I can tell. I am also feeling anxious and nervous to not only give birth this this little guy, but just to be parents in general. I wish there was a manual I could read! Hopefully he will be understanding of his confused and flustered parents for a while. I am so grateful for Brandt and his understanding and love for me while I have probably been pretty difficult to live with. He's my rock and I love him. This kid is getting one hilarious and awesome daddy!

More updates as they happen, but to hold you over, here's another picture. :)

YAYYYY!!!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

27 weeks!

So, I realize it's been a very long time since I've updated my blog, but I promise I will start doing a bit better. I've not even written about my pregnancy journey yet! That will be my next entry.

For now, I will go ahead and update you all with this cute little questionnaire that I got from the lovely Amber Neeley, my bump twin. :)

How far along: 27 weeks tomorrow!
Total weight gain: I've gained about 8 pounds total.
Maternity clothes: I wish I could wear them for the rest of my life! 
Stretch marks: No, and I hope to keep it that way!
Sleep: Is becoming a bit harder. Every night is the same routine: fall asleep really easily and comfortably, wake up around 2 AM to use the bathroom, the movement wakes up the baby, who proceeds to not let me forget that I woke him up for about 2 hours. He moves a TON in the middle of the night. 
Best moment of this week:I was sitting on the couch eating cereal and the bowl was resting on my belly and he proceeded to kick so hard it made my milk splash up! Pretty cool.
Miss anything: Sleeping on my stomach! I was such a belly sleeper and I really miss it.
Movement: Um, yes. Holy cannoli. It seems to never stop. But I love it! Such a great reassurance that he is growing big and strong.
Food cravings: Actually, none really. After my sickness went away, I was craving bean burritos and ice water with like a whole lemon squeezed into it. But that has since gone away and I am back to my normal eating routine mostly. However, I could eat a whole bag of pizza rolls if you give me the chance!
Anything making you queasy or sick: Luckily NO! Not anymore.
Have you started to show yet: Uh huh. I look like I'm carrying a basketball under my shirt. I tend to shock women at work who see me head on and then I turn to the side. I'm pretty grateful I haven't ballooned all over (yet). :)
Gender: Boy!
Labor signs:Since this is my first, I really have no idea what a labor sign my feel like. I feel fine though. Just the normal achy back and feet and stuff. No weird pains anywhere.
Belly button in or out: For now, still in...but barely. It is holding on for dear life!
Wedding rings on or off: On! I don't think I will be doing much swelling, thank goodness.
Happy or moody most of the time: HAPPY!!! Like over the moon happy! I have been pleasantly surprised by how much of a good mood I am in during my pregnancy. I always thought I would be an emotional wreck. The only emotional break down I have had is when I watched Seven Pounds and then cried on the floor while eating Doritos. That was before I knew I was pregnant, though. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Weekend

When we decided to move to Oklahoma, and people asked if I was excited, I would say something like "Yes! Except for the tornadoes!" We would laugh and that would be it. At the time, I guess you could say I was kind of joking.

I am no longer joking.

Seriously.

This spring has been literally the most stressed I have ever been. I am constantly nervous when ever it starts storming.

We live in Owasso, and THANK FREAKING GOODNESS nothing hit us this spring at all. Some surrounding areas did (within 5-10 miles...which sounds bad...but really is not).

When the tornado hit Moore, I got a ton of phone calls and text messages from my friends and family asking if I was okay. I love them, but obviously someone needs a map of Oklahoma! We were about 2 hours away from the storm.

Immediately, I wanted to do something to help. But because of the magnitude of the storm, we were not allowed there until recently. On Sunday, Brandt and I volunteered with some ward members to go help. After the day was over, I knew I had to write a post about it. It was the most touching experience I have had in my life.

We left our building at 4:30 AM to make the sacrament meeting they were having for the volunteers at 7:00 AM in Moore at the stake/command center. As we were approaching the city, I would see a tree down here, a sign blown over there. It wasn't until we drove past the Warren Theater and the Moore Medical Center that my heart absolutely sunk. The medical center was completely destroyed. Like, this is a BIG building, simply in shambles. I looked at Brandt and said "I have never seen anything like this before." And it was at that moment that I just lost it. I started to cry and thought "Should I have even come?? If I am just going to be a big baby all day then what help am I going to be?" I was nervous to get to the church and get our assignment.

Once at the church, we sat down for sacrament meeting. We had a member of the 70 with us, Elder Rasband. He got up to speak to us. This was one of my favorite parts of the day. He told us that last week, he went to a birthday party for President Eyring. He turned 80! He got some cake, and waited until people had left President Monson alone for a moment. He waited for that split second when he was alone, and went to talk to him. He said "President Monson, I have received an assignment to go to Oklahoma City to help with the tornado relief. What would you like the people there to know?" President Monson said "Three things. One, tell them that I love them. Two, tell them that I am praying for them. And three, I want you to tell the people helping "Thank you" from me." At that time, I started crying again. What a precious moment. Elder Rasband then blessed us with safety, energy, and the power to get through the day. Trust me, I needed that. I was already exhausted and the day hadn't even started yet!

We got our assignments, and our cool yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" t-shirts. Our assignment was debris clean up (naturally), sheet rock and insulation removal, and putting tarps over the holes in the roofs of homes that were still standing and were going to be repaired. We loaded up our equipment, and headed to our first home. We turned into the neighborhood and my jaw dropped. It stayed dropped for probably 5 minutes. It looked like this:


Um, yeah. I did not know what to do or think or say or feel. At the moment, I was numb. The first thing I thought was "Wait. We are assigned to put tarps on roofs. There, like, aren't any." I was confused. We pulled in to a street and drove a little bit. We got to a home that was still intact. The windows were all blown out and there were holes in the roof, but other than that, it was in good shape. However, EVERYTHING inside their home had to be thrown out due to water damage. Even the sheet rock walls. We got to work right away. For the first hour or so, I felt like a huge loser. I was assigned to pick up debris and put it into a big pile. I would find myself just standing there, staring blankly at the scene in front of me. I am not kidding when I say it took at least a couple of hours to get used to what I was looking at. I had seen the news, and it was sad, but being there. Wow. There are no words.

The family who lived in the home was incredibly nice, and surprisingly happy and optimistic. Well, I would be too if I still at least HAD my home. They were very grateful for our help, and it definitely helped me recognize that they were beginning to heal. That made me happy.

The Red Cross came around and gave us some hot meals (amazing people, btw.) We finished the first home around noon, and I. WAS. EXHAUSTED. I felt bad when I realized how tired I was. It was one of those "Oh shut up, Liz" moments. But, I remembered what Elder Rasband told us...and I felt a literal burst of energy through my body. I was so happy! I knew I could do it because we had all been blessed to be able to. It was amazing.

The next few houses were a LOT easier. They were in a better part of town, that only had some small damages to their homes. The neighborhoods were still intact. I was grateful for that. Once we finished all of the assignment sheets, I called the Command Center to see what else we could do (it was about 3:00 at this time). Brother Ludlow, the guy in charge, told me to have our team come back, return our equipment, and we could go home. There weren't anymore assignments for the day. I told our team leader, Brother John, what I knew and he said "Well, what do you guys think? Should we call it a day?" We all agreed not to.

At this time, we went back to the first neighborhood we were at to see if any of their neighbors needed help. At first, we couldn't find anyone. So, again we assessed the situation and asked each other if we should call it a day. We still all said no. So we kept going.

We went to the next neighborhood over, which was equally as bad. We stopped and started walking around, talking to some people we saw. Our "home base" was a house on the corner that had burned down. I snapped a quick picture of it:


Brother John noticed a nice couple outside of their home, loading some things into a moving truck. I was the only girl in the group, so they had me talk to them (Brandt says it's because I am too nice, and no one can ever say no to me. lol). I said "Hey! We're from Mormon Helping Hands. Do you need help?" I could see the relief in her face when I asked that. She said "YES! Thank you! Our tarp blew away, so we need that fixed. And our daughters bed frame needs to come out." So we got to work. Brandt and I took the bed frame. The wife said "Watch out, though. The ceiling caved in." It wasn't until I got inside the room that I realized that she was not over exaggerating. The ceiling was all over the floor and on the bunk bed we were supposed to be removing. I looked up, and the only thing between us and the outside was some wooden boards. The insulation was soaking wet, as were the mattresses, stuffed animals, and blankets. It made it nearly impossible to stand or breathe (from the smell of mildew). Brandt and I were an awesome team, though, and knocked it out in about 45 minutes. The dad who lived in the home helped us. His name was Christian and he was so nice. He is our new friend! We're going to try taking him and his family out to dinner when they come down to Tulsa.

The guys were still tarping the roof at this point, so when we finished the bed frame, I decided to just pick up some debris. Now THIS was the best part of my day. As I was cleaning up, I saw a small little pile of wet insulation on the grass. I immediately noticed something shiny and gold, shimmering in the sun. I took my glove off and picked it up and noticed that it was a man's ring. Very "Lord Of The Rings"esque. I kept digging, and noticed another ring. It was a woman's this time, and it was gorgeous! I kept digging some more, and saw a 3rd ring. Smaller than the first two, but it still had a little diamond in it. I showed them to Brandt, who was amazed! We walked out back to the homeowner, Laura, and showed her our find. She gasped and said "Oh my! Our wedding rings! Thank you!"

I could not believe that I had just found someone's wedding rings in a pile of mush in the grass. I couldn't help but think that maybe this was the reason we felt so compelled to ignore our instructions and keep going on our own. I mean, they could have been replaced, and might have even been old weddings rings, but they still had value, and I couldn't ignore that. I was so grateful to have found this family. They were so kind and wonderful.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it was at the end of this day that I realized that I wanted to document my experience in writing here on my blog. As we were riding home, I just replayed the whole day in my head over and over. The things I saw, the people I met. But mainly, the way I felt. I was seriously changed by the whole experience. I have never seen any type of disaster before. Small ones, maybe. Like houses that had burned down or a car accident. But this. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, except maybe in the movies. There are so many things I took away from the experience.

My testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ has been strengthened because I know that he is comforting and healing these people who have lost so much, and I felt His presense as I interacted with them. I hope from the bottom of my heart that they felt the love of their Savior by meeting us. I felt it by meeting them. I also felt a little bit of a taste of what it feels like to be a missionary, which was awesome! Everyone I talked to, I said "We're from Mormon Helping Hands!" We wanted to make sure they knew exactly who we were and who we represented.

I have since been reading the scriptures, and stumbled upon this one in 2 Corinthians.

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all
comfort;
 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

I know our Savior lives, and He loves us and he knows our pain and our sufferings. I love Him, and I love Him for giving me the opportunity to be of some help, even though it was small in comparison to what was needed. I am so happy I live in Oklahoma! What a wonderful place full of wonderful, happy people.

Monday, April 8, 2013

General Conference April 2013

General Conference is my favorite time of the year! I can always look forward to being spiritually uplifted and just happier in general. I wanted to take some time to share a few things that I learned this weekend!

1.) Be obedient:
Both Elder Perry and President Monson gave talks about this, and they were back to back as well, so you knew it was important. Lately, we've been teaching a newly baptized family in our ward, and we're really focusing on this right now with them.

In one of our lessons, we drew a stick figure and said "This is us!" We then drew our little stick figure in a cage and said "The cage represents the commandments. What does it look like the cage is doing?" Some of the kids said that it looked like the cage was keeping us in, or taking away all of our joy and fun. We then drew a huge monster outside of the cage and asked what the cage was doing for us now. Of course, they replied by saying that the cage was protecting us from the monster (we likened it to Satan or sin). Lastly, we drew a key in our hand and told them that the key was agency, or the freedom to choose. We ALL have the ability to choose whether to keep God's commandments and always be protected. Or we could use the key to get "out of the cage", but we would be subject to whatever awaited us outside of the bounds the Lord has set.

It really struck me when Elder Perry said that Satan "wants us to be as miserable as he is." How true that is. How often do we feel that our beliefs and our convictions are the wrong thing to choose? How outnumbered do we feel? The adversary is growing day by day, and it will only become tougher and tougher. Luckily, like Elder Perry said, "THESE THINGS DO NOT CHANGE". The commandments are the same. They are there to protect us. We know the blessings that await us when we follow them. So, we must.

2.) Have Faith:
Elder Holland always blows me away with his conference addresses. This time around was no different. How uplifting his talk was to me! He simply spoke about having faith. I was so focused on watching and listening to him that my notes weren't up to par. All I can do is write down the 2 paragraph paraphrase that is on LDS.org.

"Now brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please do not hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work."

Perfect. Just perfect.

3.) The Light Of Christ:
President Uchtdorf spoke of the Light Of Christ, and it was (again) nothing short of amazing! His talk specifically spoke to me this conference. Not because I feel like I am in darkness a lot of the time, but simply because it reminded me of HOW I can remain in the Light Of Christ. He gave three points:

- Start where you are
   -No matter how far behind others we think we are, we still have our own divine path to follow. Do not be discouraged because others have what you may desire.
-Turn your heart towards the Lord
-Walk in the Light
   -The Gospel teaches us what to know, do, and be in order to walk in the Light Of Christ.

I have no words to express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for putting the knowledge of the Gospel in my life. Without it, I am lost. We have the FULLNESS of the Gospel here on the Earth, and it is TRUE! One day, I hope for everyone to hear of its message and be blessed by its teachings.