Speaking With Your Partner About Prenatal DNA Testing

When planning a pregnancy, there will be a number of appointments to schedule and attend, a new diet to adapt to, and of course, a body that will be changing. In addition to these lifestyle changes, there will also be decisions that must be made during your first visit to the obstetrician.

Every woman is now being offered prenatal screening tests to determine the risk her baby has of developing a birth defect or a chromosomal disorder. If the screening shows a high risk of developing a birth defect, your physician will present you with the option of performing a prenatal DNA diagnostic test.

This process may be very intense for the soon-to-be mother, however, it can also be emotional for her partner. Involving your partner in the discussion about prenatal DNA testing will help them feel more connected to the process and will allow them to help make the decision that is best for you and your family.

Here are some talking points to discuss with your partner regarding prenatal DNA Testing:

Why are these tests performed?
Prenatal DNA tests are performed to detect the likelihood or presence of a chromosomal abnormality or birth defect. Couples may decide to have these tests performed in order to know how to care for their baby. By understanding what their child may need in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life with a disability, preparations can be made before the birth of the child. Another reason for performing the test is to prepare for the delivery day of the child. If the child will need immediate care, you can choose a hospital that has the best facility for its needs and you can also arrange for a specialist to be present at the time of birth.

What kinds of tests are available?
●  Non-invasive prenatal testing can be performed as early as week 10 and comes without the risks of prenatal invasive procedures.

●  Chorionic villus sampling, or CVS, is performed between weeks 10 to 12.

●  Amniocentesis is performed between weeks 15 to 20.

●  Cordocentesis or Percutaneous Umbilical Cord Blood Sampling (PUBS) is performed after week 17.

Is there a risk of your baby developing a birth defect?
If the mother is of advanced maternal age of 35 years or older, there is an increased risk that the baby may develop a chromosomal disorder, such as Down syndrome. It is a good idea for you and your partner to discuss if there is a family history of a disease or a chromosomal disorder.

Make an appointment with a genetic counselor
A genetic counselor will provide a supportive environment where you will be able to learn about your testing options. Your genetic counselor will also discuss any risks that are associated with advanced maternal age, family history, being a carrier of a specific genetic disorder, or family history of disease or genetic disorders. This will be a safe place for you to ask all pending questions and receive well-informed answers.

Ask for support during the actual procedure
Some prenatal DNA tests are invasive and may present anxiety on the day of the procedure. Ask your partner to accompany you to the appointment for support. Seeing the procedure of the test that has been chosen by both of you will keep both of you involved in the process.

It is always best to discuss testing options with your physician or your genetic counselor before coming to a conclusion. Working alongside your partner while planning a safe pregnancy will give you both a better understanding of the process and help you make the best decision.

References:
http://www.ndss.org/Resources/New-Expectant-Parents/Understanding-a-Diagnosis-of-Down-Syndrome/

http://www.babble.com/pregnancy/birth-defects-risks/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-testing/art-20045177?pg=2

http://www.livescience.com/45949-prenatal-genetic-testing.html

What Sets a Maternity Photographer Apart?

A professional maternity photographer is a truly skilled artist who is able to create a lasting image of a pregnant woman, allowing the beauty to shine through. Pregnancy is a truly unique and incredibly special time, and this means it is perfect for portraits to be created as well. However, before you book yourself in, there are a few things you need to think about.

maternity photographs

How to Find a Good Maternity Photographer

While some women want to have their picture taken as soon as they are pregnant, the best time to actually do this is when you are around seven and a half month pregnant. The exception is if you want to create a timeline, showing how your baby has grown over the months.

Next, you need to actually find your maternity photographer. Most will offer free consultations, and you should use this if you can. This is an opportunity for you to find out whether you will be comfortable with the photographer, what their plans are to photograph you, what their prices are, their methods of working and more. It is also an opportunity to look through their portfolio.

36weeks

There are a few questions in particular that you may want to ask. These include:

  • Do the photographs have to be taken in a studio, or can they come to your home?
  • Do you need any props?
  • What sort of clothes should you wear?
  • How much of your skin will show?
  • Can other family members of pets be included in the photographs?
  • Will you be in a private facility?
  • Will you be given proofs of the photographs, or a CD with the proofs?
  • Are the photographs copyrighted or can you reprint them?
  • Will anyone else see the photographs?
  • Can you include any special effects?

Once you have spoken to a few photographers, you should choose the one that you seem to have gelled with the most. This must related to personality, but also to the end project goals and your budget unfortunately. Make sure you have a good rapport with your photographer, as this will translate into a stunning image.

How to Take Maternity Photographs

The shape of the body of a pregnant woman can be captured in various ways. A lot of women prefer to wear as few clothes as possible, as it accentuates their shape. Thanks to studio lighting, however, the focus can be on your full profile, your belly or any other part of your body. You must discuss what you want to achieve with your photographer.

A maternity picture is a beautiful work of art. Too many women feel they look awful when they are at the height of their pregnancy, but they don’t. They radiate beauty and show what nature is all about. That is something to be celebrated. Finding a good maternity photographer will help you to achieve this, and will allow you to have a permanent momentum of one of the most special times in your life.

Prayers Appreciated!

ourchildren

Early tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading into our local hospital to be induced. Soon, our family will be complete and baby #8 will be welcomed with open arms.

If you can spare a prayer for a quick, easy delivery with no complications, I would sincerely appreciate it.

Things may be quiet for a few days around here while I adjust to becoming a mom of 8 and snuggle my sweet little newborn as much as humanly possible the first few days.

Thanks for being loyal readers of the blog. I promise to be back soon and things will be better than ever!

Cute Gender Reveal Photo Idea

This weekend, my daughter had quite a surprise up her sleeve for me.

I had gone out to coffee with one of the girls from our youth. (Who also happens to be my niece.) After coffee, I was also treated to the new Fro-Yo place in town. While we were out, my phone rang. It was my oldest daughter who had been spending the night with her cousins.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Ashley: “Mom? I’m at the church fellowship hall helping Aunt Sabrina with VBS stuff, but I really don’t feel well. Can you come get me? I just want to go home.”

Me (panic stricken, because Ash *never* gets sick) : “I’ll come right now. Do you need anything? Ginger ale? A bucket?”

Ashley: “No, just take me home so I can lie down.”

Me: “I’m on my way.”

I sped all the way to our church. When I got there, the parking lot was empty, and Ash came out to meet me. “Mom,” she said, “Sabrina needs to ask you a question. She’s right inside.”

I told Ash I’d be right back and walked into the fellowship hall.

I about died right then and there when I heard “SURPRISE!” from quite a few of my favorite people. The entire fellowship hall was decorated in pink and blue, (with elephants everywhere!), and so many of my friends and loved ones were in attendance.

Apparently, Ashley had told everyone that she knew 20 weeks was really early in a pregnancy to have a shower, but I had been under so much stress with Gage that she wanted to do something to bring a smile to my face and help me forget about everything – even if it was just for a little while. That, and she KNEW I would never make it to the birth without knowing if the baby is a boy or a girl. 🙂 And she also knew it was driving me batty to have to drive to Atlanta with Gage so much, (where there are actual STORES!), and not be able to buy something for the baby to be.

What a sweet, sweet girl I have.

Before I get to the gender reveal part, I do want to show you a couple of my favorite pictures from the shower.

First, the adorable cake:

gender reveal cake

Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?! My sweet friend Jodi did the most amazing job. And because Ashley didn’t want to reveal the gender with the cake, (because apparently *everybody* does that), the cake was chocolate – which  made it taste as amazing as it looked!

Next, we have the sign in “sheet” – a framed picture of the ultrasound photos where attendees were asked to choose Team Pink or Team Blue and sign in with the appropriate color marker. This is something I will treasure forever, and I smile every time I look at it:

Gender reveal sign in

I also need to explain this one. You see, quite some time ago, I had mentioned to Ashley that a friend of mine had said she wanted to “Surround her baby with Scripture” at the birth and afterward. I thought that was the most wonderful idea, and I said that I was going to steal the idea and do it for our baby as well. Ash beat me to it, though, and several weeks before the shower, she asked friends and family to send over their favorite verses. Then, she made these cute little cards with each of the verses and hung them on the wall at the shower. I am so excited that I already have all these verses and can start reading them out loud to Baby before he/she is even born!

Surround baby with Scripture

I am pleased to tell you the party went off without a hitch, and she revealed the gender by having me pop a black balloon…. full of BLUE glitter. 🙂 Yep, I was actually right this time! IT’S A BOY!!

Because I have so many friends and loved ones that weren’t able to attend the shower, I wanted to announce the gender on Facebook in a cute way.

Here’s what we came up with:

It's A Boy!

(See it as my profile picture on Facebook.)

I love the way it turned out, and I loved that I could get hubby involved with the reveal. 🙂

And, p.s. I am SO glad I know for sure that’s it’s a boy now and I can finally do some shopping. Yaaaay!!

**Edited to add: Shortly after announcing the gender of our baby to be, we decided to change his name. I already had issues with calling each of the kids by each others’ names. Carter and Carly were just waaaaay too close. I’d never get him and her straight. So, we changed his name to Sawyer Michael, even though people in the South don’t say “Sawyer” properly.

What cute ways have YOU revealed the gender to family and friends?

Well, That Wasn’t The Reaction I Expected!

Another One is On the Way!
Early in January, hubby and I found out that another blessing is on the way. We had been trying for several months, so it wasn’t that big of a shock. However, my husband is the type of guy that prefers we don’t tell anyone about the baby until I’ve been to the doctor and we know things are all right. While I am terrible at keeping secrets, I’ve kept this secret enough over the years that it doesn’t bother me to wait to share our news with the world.

We found out we were pregnant on a Monday. That Saturday, I was at our church with my 9 year old son, Jace, setting up for a baby shower. My preacher walked in and said, “I heard the good news!” Not having a clue what he was talking about, (because, again, we had told NO ONE the news), I asked, “What good news?” He responded, “That you’re having another baby.” At this point, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. And so did Jace. We hadn’t even told the kids! Jace turns to me and asks, “Are you really, Mama?!” Oh my gosh. I wanted to die. I smiled and told Jace, “Yes, honey.” Then, I quickly turned to Preacher and asked him who had told him. He wouldn’t tell  me. All he would say was that several people had told him over the past few weeks. Few weeks? We just found out 5 days before!

Terrified that word would spread like wildfire, I called Gene in a panic. I told him he needed to sit the other kids down and tell them, and then he needed to call his parents before someone else said something to them. So much for a surprise. I had had big plans of doing a cute pregnancy announcement, but that went right out the window. I was heartbroken and frankly, I was angry. That was OUR news to tell in OUR time. It wasn’t anyone else’s business.

Once word started to spread through the church, our friends, and our family, we got the usual responses, although this time they had a twist. “Eight is enough, right?” “You always wanted 8, so you can stop now, right?” “Another one? Are you crazy?” “Better you than me!” And so on. It hurts so badly when your own family and those you count as your dearest friends can’t just smile and celebrate your joyous news with you.

So, for that very reason, I held off saying anything on Facebook. I just didn’t want to deal with more snarky comments or “Don’t you know what causes that” comments. (Well, that, and hubby still hadn’t been able to get a hold of his dad. We didn’t want to post anything online until we had told him personally.)

I had an ultrasound yesterday, and after seeing that sweet little heartbeat fluttering away, I couldn’t contain my excitement – or keep my secret – any longer. I called Gene and made sure he was all right with my sharing the news on Facebook. After all, he’d have to read the snarky comments too.

I posted a picture from the ultrasound on my personal Facebook page and said, “September is always our busiest month with our anniversary and Jace and Lucy’s birthdays. But this September, things will get even busier. This little peanut is due to arrive sometime around September 16th. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted 8 children. God has seen fit to bless me thus far, and we couldn’t be more excited. God is good!”

I prayed as I clicked the “Post” button, “Please, Lord, give me the strength to handle the comments with grace and dignity.”

I expected the worst. What I got sent me into shock. Instead of snarky, unkind, or just plain rude comments, I received nothing but love, support, and lots and lots of congratulations. I couldn’t believe it. When Gene got home from work last night, we talked about the reaction the post had gotten, and I cried… only they were tears of relief, not tears of hurt this time.

When it felt like everyone else had nothing kind to say, my Facebook friends – a mesh of the most amazing people I’ve known both offline and online for years – made me smile and made me feel loved. It feels great!

I know lots of moms of many that put off telling people they are pregnant again, simply because they’re afraid of the reaction. There is something wrong with that! What is our society coming to when we can celebrate the birth of baby #1 or #2, but let’s not even talk about #5 or #6? Every baby deserves to be loved and celebrated, whether they are an only child or come from a family of 14.

The Bible is very clear on how God sees children:

Psalm 127: 3 -5 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Psalm 139: 13-14 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

Mark 10:14 – “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Moms (and Dads!) of many, it’s time for us to do as Psalm 127:5 says and not be ashamed. God has blessed us, abundantly, and every new life that is born into HIS army should be celebrated. And if you are not a mom or dad of many, but encounter one in your daily business, please be kind. They don’t need to hear your thoughts or opinions, unless they are kind. Keep the rude comments to yourself. It’ll just be better for everyone.

And with that being said, I can’t wait for September to get here. 🙂

How to Keep Post-Pregnancy Skin Stretchmark-Free #Sponsored #GuestPost

Sponsored Post

Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored post, and I have been compensated for my time in publishing this post.

Pregnancy: a time to bask in a supernaturally healthy glow; a time for impossibly glossy hair; a time to experience the profound natural gorgeousness that only pure joy can give you. More realistically, all that bubbling joy and rosy-cheeked wholesomeness is Mother Nature’s way of trying to make up for all effort you’re making and your  sleepless nights. Pregnancy also comes with an increased need to care for your body and mind and you’ll have  to know where to look for to find the right responses.

Striae gravidarum, the medical name for stretch marks, belies the simplicity of the science behind them. Simply put, they are epidermal scars that result from tissue tears. When skin is not elastic enough to tolerate weight gain, your skin will let you know by forming silvery lines. Several ways to remove them have been discussed, but the best solution remains prevention.

Preventative care is a fun way to cram your bathroom shelf with enticing luxuries, and you needn’t break the bank while you do it. Some of the most effective ways to help the skin to reinvent its youthful texture date all the way back to the disco era—Mums to be in the bell bottom epoch simply swathed themselves in bare-bones oils and emulsifiers. In comparison, today’s solutions are positively futuristic, with ingredients such as dimethylaminoethano and pantothenic Acid leaving women feeling as baffled as they do intimidated. When shopping for effective and safe mum to be beauty gifts, however, your list needn’t be packed full of words you can’t pronounce.

As we said, oil based products have revealed to be pretty effective in preventing stretch marks and they should contain ingredients you would normally also use in your healthy skin daily routine such as sweet almond or coconut oil. They should tempt you with a nice, light fragrance but also be reliable.

It’s always worth researching on ingredients that may harm skin or that are not suggested during pregnancy times such as parabens or dioxane and make sure to follow a simple but effective beauty routine. This should also involve some light exercise to keep the whole body stretchy and healthy.

In few simple steps and with some extra care, pregnancy will leave just nice memories on your mind!

Day 28: 30 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 28: Today, I am giving thanks for my OB.

30 Days of Giving ThanksOver the years, I have used many different OB/GYN doctors for my pregnancies. I have experienced wonderful doctors, and not-so-wonderful doctors. When we first moved down here, I had an absolutely awful OB for my pregnancy with Parker. When I got pregnant with Gage, I knew I needed to find a new doctor, but I had no idea where to start looking. A friend of mine recommended Dr. Davis, and after one visit, I knew he was going to be a great doctor! He is kind, caring, and actually listens to his patients. He is also willing to go the extra mile to ensure the safety of those precious unborn babies.

Yesterday, I had my 29 week appointment visit. My blood pressure was high, my uterus is measuring small, and Carly just doesn’t move as much as the doctor would like. Rather than brushing it off and saying “let’s see what’s happening at your next appointment,” he sent me over to the hospital for a non-stress test. I’ll now have these weekly until Carly makes her arrival, just to be sure she’s doing all right.

I’m so thankful to have an OB that would rather play it safe and keep an eye on the baby than to just play the wait-and-see game.

What are you thankful for today?

If you are participating in 30 Days of Giving Thanks, please leave your link below. I hope you’ll also grab a button from the sidebar and share it on your blog as well. I’d love to stop by and read your posts on Giving Thanks.

MedImmune RSV & Preemie Awareness #protectpreemies #rsv

I am so blessed to have gone through 7 pregnancies and have 6 healthy children, with another one on the way. But, getting them to a safe delivery date wasn’t always easy. I have had my share of preterm labor, bedrest, and other difficult pregnancy experiences. I remember several times as I was lying in a hospital bed while doctors tried everything in their power to keep labor from progressing anymore before my baby was strong enough to be born. And that’s why this campaign is so important to me. I believe every mom-to-be should be aware of  the dangers associated with babies born before 37 weeks.

It’s easy to get to the third trimester and joke that you are ready to be done pregnant. But, all joking aside, preemies are prone to infections from viruses like the common cold, the flu, and RSV, and the longer you can keep that baby inside you, the better it will be for him or her.

When I worked in day care, I had the joy of working in the infant room. I adored each of those babies, and because I spent so much time with them, we developed a real bond. And then one day, Jack didn’t come in to the center. And then another day passed, and still no Jack. On day 3, his mom finally called and told us that Jack was in the hospital in critical condition with something called RSV. You see, Jack was a preemie, and the disease was just too strong for his little body to fight.

At the time, I had no idea what RSV was, or how harmful it could be to infants. I now know that RSV (or Respiratory Syncytial Virus) typically shows up as minor symptoms in babies, but in high-risk infants, it can quickly develop into a serious infection that can be very hard for them to fight.

Jack ended up spending nearly 3 weeks in the hospital, just trying to survive having RSV. When he was finally released from the hospital, it took several months before he was declared “healthy” again. It broke my heart watching him struggle every day, and I was so thankful when he finally got past it. Ever since that experience with Jack, I have tried to be very aware of symptoms in my own children.

November 17th was World Prematurity Day. The day is set aside to raise awareness about prematurity and all of the risks associated with pre-term birth. I want to take a moment and share some facts about RSV with you:

RSV Quick Facts

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, and severe RSV disease causes up to 10 times as many infant deaths each year as the flu.
  • RSV is most prevalent during the winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • In addition to prematurity, common risk factors include low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, a family history of asthma and frequent contact with other children.

Prevention is Key
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no treatment for RSV, parents should take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:

  • Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
  • Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Know the Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Severe coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  •  High fever and extreme fatigue

Because I have a baby due in February, you can bet I will be taking extra precautions to ensure her safety during the remainder of RSV season. I hope that those of you who have recently had babies – or are expecting soon – will also take a few minutes to educate yourself about RSV and the potential risks associated with pre-term birth.

To learn more about RSV, visit www.rsvprotection.com and for more about the specialized health needs of preterm infants, visit www.preemievoices.com.

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Will it be Carter or Carly? (Take a Poll!)

With everything going on with Gage, I really haven’t posted much about the pregnancy. Honestly, I haven’t had much to update. This has been a wonderful pregnancy so far. No morning sickness. No pain. No issues. I’m tired, and I want to eat all the time, but eating and sleeping are my two favorite things, so I’m not complaining. 🙂 I’m certain that God is giving me an easy pregnancy because He knew I was going to need it… there’s just been so many other issues and problems that I couldn’t take a difficult pregnancy on top of it.

The pregnancy seems to be sllllooooooowwwwwllllly dragging on. Today I am finally 17 weeks. Almost half way there! My next doctor’s appointment is scheduled for this Thursday, September 6th. They do an ultrasound at each visit, and the doctor said we’d check to see the gender at our next appointment. So, I’m putting up a fun poll to see how many of my readers can guess the gender.

Hubby and I have already picked out a name for a boy and one for a girl. If it’s a boy, his name will be Carter Timothy. Gene has wanted a Carter since we were pregnant with our first son. I figure he’s waited long enough and I should give in. 🙂 Timothy is after a very dear friend of ours. If it’s a girl, her name will be Carly Grace. No rhyme or reason, we just really love the name. This is, however, the FIRST time that we have picked a name so early on in the pregnancy. Typically, we argue and argue for months, and push it until weeks before the baby is even due. Not this time. And since we came up with 2 great names that go well together, I’m still hoping there’s a “hidden” twin and I get to use both names. 🙂

Before we get to the poll, let’s go over some baby gender prediction methods and see what they say….

  • Hairline method – Predicts a BOY. (This method failed for me last time.)
  • Chinese Gender Chart – Predicts a GIRL. (This method is sometimes right, sometimes wrong for me.)
  • Old Wives Tale – Predicts a GIRL.
  • Baby’s Heart Rate – Predicts a GIRL.
  • Family Pattern – Here are my kids so far: GIRL, BOY, BOY, GIRL, BOY, BOY, ???
  • Dreams – I dream ALL.THE.TIME that I’m having a girl. (Actually, I dream that we have 8 kids, and the last 2 are girls.)

Now, before I get my hopes up for another little girl, when I was pregnant with Gage, every sign pointed to us having another little girl. I went into our 16 week ultrasound certain that we were having a girl. I just knew he was going to show us a girl on the screen. Then, there it was: the “package.” Definitely not a girl. As sad as I was that Gage wasn’t a girl, I wouldn’t trade him in for 10 girls. He is my sunshine, and I am so thankful God gave me exactly what I needed. After all that, though, I am 100% convinced that this baby will be another boy. Hubby and I tend to make more of those, and “they” say that if you have more of one gender, you are more likely to continue having that same gender. So, I hold no truth to any of the methods listed above, especially since so many of them point to us having a girl.

But, it’s still fun to guess… and I know so many of my readers have their own opinions. I thought it would be fun to hear what you all think!

So tell me….. will it be a BOY or a GIRL? And will we get to use the name Carter or Carly? Vote now!

Another Update Concerning My Health Issues

Recently I posted an update about why things have been so quiet around here. Since that post, so many more things have happened – and actually getting online to post about those things has been next to impossible.

Several weeks ago, I found a lump in my left breast. When I put up the last update post, the specialist had requested that I go that week to have a Mammogram done and see where we would go from there.

The day before I was scheduled to go in for the Mammogram, I got a phone call. Our local hospital’s head radiation doctor would not do a Mammogram on me because I am in my first trimester. The specialist I had seen that week then gave me two choices: 1. Wait until I’m in the second trimester and start the testing then, or 2. Get a second opinion. I spoke with my PCP, and she thought it was best not to wait. But, because she’s not the main doctor on my insurance cards, I had to wait until I saw my OBGYN and have him get the referral to another specialist.

More of that “waiting game” that I’m just not good at.

This past Monday morning, I met with the OBGYN. Things with the pregnancy are progressing well. The baby is growing right on track. But, the doctor was very concerned with how large the lump in my breast is, and he had his nurse call around to find a specialist that would take me in and do more testing, even with me being in the first trimester.

Interjecting to share a picture of my sweet little peanut that’s on the way:

I am so thankful that with all my health problems, this little jelly bean is doing just fine.

Back to the update – the nurse was able to find a specialist about 2 hours away from home that would get me in and do further testing. They scheduled the appointment for this past Thursday.

Luckily, hubby is on vacation this week, so he was able to go to the specialist with me again. We got down there and met with another doctor. It was a woman this time, and she was very kind and very concerned.

She did another ultrasound, and she actually SAW something this time!

She said that the lump shows every sign of being a clogged milk duct that was probably brought on by the pregnancy. She thinks that it will resolve itself and we won’t need to do anything else.

Of course, she gave me the speech that it “could still be cancerous” so she was willing to do a biopsy if I was really concerned. But, she personally didn’t think a biopsy was necessary, and after talking it over with her and with my husband, we decided not to do the biopsy.

I have a follow up appointment set for October – 3 months from now. The doctor is confident that it will resolve itself before then, but if not, we can figure out how to “help” it along or see if it might be something else.

So, at least there are answers. And at least I can rest easy. I’m just really hoping this doesn’t cause me to have trouble breastfeeding the new baby. I had to stop nursing Gage sooner than I wanted to because I stopped producing milk. (With every other child, I’ve always produced an abundance of milk.) I guess I’ll just pray that there won’t be any trouble this time around.

Hopefully this will start getting things back on track here on the blog. I appreciate your patience and support through all of this. I really do have the best readers. 🙂

Now that I’ve caught you up on me, what’s going on with YOU?

An Announcement, an Update, and an Apology

This is going to be one loaded post!

You may have noticed that things have slowed WAY down here on Blessed Beyond Words… and there’s a reason for that.

Several weeks ago, we found out that baby #7 is on the way. It was absolutely not expected, but I’m so excited and so thankful. Next Monday – July 9th – I will go for my first ultrasound to determine my due date and check on the baby. I can’t wait. I’m pretty sure the baby will be due sometime in February, just a few weeks before Gage’s 2nd birthday. It still seems like forever away, but I’m sure it will be here before I can even blink.

As you can imagine, summertime with 6 kids is pretty chaotic. Add to that a pregnancy and a job, and I am feeling like I can’t even catch my breath. So, my blog is suffering – sitting on the sidelines and I can’t seem to post nearly as often as I’d like. I have a pile of reviews just sitting here waiting on me, and I promise to get to them soon. I hate leaving my readers hanging.

I was hoping to catch up after the kids got back from camp, but early last week, I discovered a lump in my left breast. I called the doctor that I work for and asked her if she would check it out to make sure I wasn’t just being paranoid. She agreed that there is a lump and called my OB. Because I’m pregnant, my OB decided that I needed to go straight to a breast specialist. At first I was told that it would be the 18th of July before I could get in with the specialist. The doctor I work for called me later that day, and when I mentioned I would have to wait until the 18th, she made some calls and got me in much sooner.

The specialist wanted me to have an ultrasound of the area done before I came into see him. So, Friday morning, I went in and had that done. (I took last week off to just spend time with family. I don’t do well when it comes to the “waiting game,” so I figured it was best to distract myself with them.)

Yesterday morning, I met with the specialist. What an amazing doctor. My poor husband has been a mess for the past week. Normally he is the calm, level-headed one, but apparently that’s not true when the problem is with me. After meeting with the specialist yesterday, hubby is doing much better. The doctor really put his mind at ease that we are going to figure out what is going on – and how to fix it – all without hurting the baby.

The ultrasound didn’t really reveal anything… which is good. It’s not a cyst, because that would have shown up clearly on the ultrasound. But, there is definitely a lump there, and the doctor just isn’t 100% sure what it is. The next step he wants to take is with a mammogram. So, Thursday afternoon, I’ll head to the hospital again and they’ll do the mammogram then. He’ll call me with the results, and they will either do a biopsy at my next appointment (if something shows up on the mammogram), or he’ll check it again to see if it has grown or changed in any way (if the mammogram appears clear).

So, more of the waiting game. But, I’m going to try to keep myself busy and I’m going to do my very, very best to get caught back up with everything! I sure miss talking to my readers.

I hope that you’ll stick around and keep checking back in. I’ve got lots of great products to share with you, and I don’t want you to miss a thing!

Thanks for being such loyal friends and readers. I can’t tell you what you mean to me!

Introducing Our Newest Blessing

Baby GageGage

Born: 10:06am
7 pounds, 11 ounces
20 3/4 inches

Yes, it’s true! Gage finally made his appearance! There’s quite a story behind this little guy’s arrival, so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read on.

We had originally thought our induction was scheduled for Thursday. Signals got crossed, messages missed, and it ended up being moved to Friday. It ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I got one last day of rest before becoming a mom of 6. With everything that’s happened since his birth, all I can tell you is that I really needed a day of rest beforehand!

We arrived at the hospital at 4:55am on Friday. They processed everything through right away, and by 5:20am, I was hooked up to the pitocin. The contractions came fairly often, but there was nothing strong or regular about them.

At 7:20am, my OBGYN came in and broke my water. The contractions picked up, and since I was almost at a 4, they decided to go ahead and insert the epidural without actually turning it on. Because I have scoliosis so badly, inserting the epidural isn’t an easy task. In fact, with my first 5 births, only 2 other epidurals ever took because it’s just so difficult to get them in right. Luckily, I had a very kind, very patient anesthesiologist, and he took his time putting it in. It hurt, but I knew it would be well worth it in the end.

Right after he got the epidural in place, it was about 9:15am, and the nurse checked me. I was at a 6. Fabulous! Things were moving right along, so we went ahead and turned on the epidural. Ahhhh…. heaven! (They really should give these to you at about week 36. Would make the last few weeks of pregnancy so much more bearable!)

About half an hour later, I had the strongest urge to push. The nurse checked me, and I was at a 9! They quickly called the doctor, and we all prayed he make it in time to deliver the baby.

He did. Thank heavens.

He got there, and it was a minute or two after 10am. He said I still had a ring of cervix left, but I could probably push right through it.

I did.

With 4 big pushes, Gage made his appearance in the world at 10:06am.

New Baby

I have to confess – I did not do so well during those few minutes of pushing. One would think that having been through the labor and delivery process 5 times prior to this, that I would be cool, calm, and completely under control.

HA!

I completely lost my “supermom” status for those few moments. I screamed like I had never screamed before. (Thank goodness I wasn’t feeling well and had no voice!) I cried and carried on and even told my husband at one point, “I can’t do it!” He gently rubbed my head and said, “Honey, you don’t have a choice. You have to do it.” My voice of reason when I had lost all self-control.

Immediately after Gage was born, I felt like the world’s biggest idiot. How could I freak out like that? Where on earth did that come from? We may never know, but I’m SO glad I only had to push for a few minutes. I can’t imagine how stupid I would have felt if I had carried on like that for hours! (blush!)

Overall, the labor and delivery was amazing. I had a very good friend that ended up as my labor and delivery nurse that day, and while our friendship has now been taken to a whole new level, she was the best nurse I’ve ever had. Truth be told, the entire nursing staff that I ended up with all weekend was amazing.

Gene went and picked up the kids shortly after Gage was born. They all just adore him. Everyone wants to hold him all the time, and they just love and kiss all over Baby Gage. It’s so sweet. I just hope Gage can put up with it! 🙂

The doctor let me go home on Sunday, after requesting I stay an extra day to get some rest.

It was so nice to be home on Sunday evening. A friend brought us dinner, and we got to chat for awhile.

On Monday morning, what had started as a little cough on Thursday of last week had turned into coughing up blood. Gene and I decided I needed to go back to the ER to figure out what was going on. I had no other symptoms, just the nasty cough.

Now, if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, you know how crazy things got yesterday during that ER visit.

I went in for a cough, and when the chest x-ray came back clear of pneumonia, they started talking about blood clots. Things went from bad to worse, and the doctors had me scared out of my mind – literally. I couldn’t stop crying, afraid that I had just given birth to my 6th baby and was going to die of a blood clot. I posted on facebook begging for prayers from anyone that happened to log on during that time. My husband held me, and we cried and prayed, letting God take control of the entire situation.

The radiologist came in to take me to the CT Scan, and I really think he was sent straight from heaven. Before the procedure, he talked to me about what was going on, the side effects, why I needed to not breastfeed Gage for 24 hours or so, and what would happen if the scan revealed a clot. I started the talk with him in absolute hysterics, and by the time the entire procedure was over, I had a peace like I’d never felt before. I knew I had so many people praying, and I knew that God was in control, that I just couldn’t worry any more.

A few minutes after the CT Scan, the doctor came back in the room and announced, “It’s pneumonia! The x-ray missed it.” Now, never in my life have I ever muttered the words, “Praise the Lord, it’s just pneumonia!” but I did yesterday. No clot meant no treatment for a clot. Once the contrast dye made it through my system, I could resume nursing again, and everything would be right with the world. God is so good!

So, as you can see, things have been a little bit crazy around here. Today has been a much better day, and now that it’s been over 24 hours, and I can resume breastfeeding Gage again, things are even better.

The ladies at church are spoiling me rotten with dinners each night, and it has been such a huge help. I am so thankful for the family and friends that I have that care so much.

Thank you to each one of you that prayed for me, thought about me, left a comment on another post, or even just took the time to read this. Know that you are loved and appreciated.

Now, I’m off to go rest up some more. Maybe I can keep the excitement level down for awhile.

I gotta tell you one last thing, though, being a mom of 6 is absolutely amazing. I am so blessed!

Mom of 6(Ignore how exhausted I look in that picture. I did just have a baby.) 🙂

So Much for “The Big Day!”

I spent all day yesterday preparing for my induction. Packed all the bags, made arrangements for the kids, took care of absolutely everything. We went to Revival last night, and it was amazing. I have to admit, I was a little bummed, (for selfish reasons, of course), that they decided to extend the revival 2 more days. That meant I was going to miss Thursday night at least, because of the induction. Hubby and I decided that if they let me go home on Friday, and I was feeling well, we would all go back to the revival together Friday night.

We dropped the kids at my MIL’s house after the revival, kissed them all, and told them that the next time they saw Mommy, she’d have a baby in her arms and not in her belly. Everyone was so excited.

Hubby and I got home, and started to get ready for bed. To avoid TMI being posted and losing a million readers, I noticed a pretty gross discharge and hubby talked me into calling labor and delivery and just asking them if it was normal, and if we needed to come in early. I called over to the hospital, and a labor and delivery nurse answered the phone. I told her that I was on the schedule for an induction the following morning at 5am. She looked at the schedule and informed me that I was *not* on the schedule for Thursday, but that I had been moved to Friday.

I was NOT happy. I had not been notified of any change in the schedule. I’d already made arrangements for my kids. Gene had already taken off work. I know it’s just one day, but that one day can throw everything for a loop. I talked to the nurse for awhile about what was going on, and she called my doctor to let him know that I had not been informed of the change in the schedule. (By the way, it was not my doctor’s fault. It was a staffing issue at the hospital. I still love my doctor, I’m just hoping the nurses at the hospital are a little more on the ball when I actually have this baby.)

After I got off the phone with her, I double (and triple) checked my voicemail and checked the caller id on our land line. No phone calls, no messages from anyone informing me of the change.

I must say that I’m quite glad I didn’t get up at 3:00 this morning and show up there at 5am today. I probably would have lost my testimony all over that hospital. Thank goodness hubby made me call labor and delivery and we at least found out we’d be able to sleep in this morning. Actually, it’s kind of nice to have hubby home to myself all day.

Another thing that I can’t get off my mind is our revival. Tonight, the youth choir will be singing. When they sang on Tuesday night, the Holy Spirit took over the room in a way that I have never seen before. There was singing, shouting, men marching the aisles, and so many tears of repentance. I was blown away. All I can think is that maybe God allowed all of this to happen so that I could be at the Revival one more night. Maybe He plans to do something with one of my kids. Maybe He plans to do something big with me. Either way, I will be there tonight – baby in belly – and ready to hear what God has to say to me.

Then, tomorrow morning, I’ll get up bright and early and head in to the hospital and have a baby.

So, stay tuned. Looks like it’s going to be one more day before I have any news to announce.

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

I am so excited, I can hardly stand it…. BUT, I still have so much to do to get ready for Gage’s appearance! I have searched through our boxes, and I cannot find any 0-3 month clothes. No sleepers, no gowns, no outfits – nothing. The joy of moving 2 weeks before the baby is born, I guess. So, I’ve got to head out and get at least a couple of outfits for this baby to wear so that he doesn’t have to go naked the first 3 months of his life. 🙂 I need to pack the hospital bag. (No, I still haven’t done that.) I need to fold and put away all the baby blankets, bibs, and burp cloths that I washed. I need to sterilize pacifiers and bottles.

But most of all, I need to relax. And that seems to be what I’m struggling with most. I don’t know if it’s nerves about labor and delivery, since my last experience was so bad, or if it’s the fact that tomorrow, I will be a mom of SIX. Either way, I am a bundle of nerves.

I have to be at the hospital at 5am tomorrow. I doubt that I’ll get any sleep tonight at all, yet my husband will lie in bed next to me, snoring soundly. (How is it HE can relax right now?)

Hubby set up all the baby stuff yesterday – the swing, the cradle, the pack ‘n play, the car seat. Our house looks ready for a baby, so at least we have that much.

I will update you all just as soon as I can!

Enjoy the rest of your week. And stay tuned for lots (and LOTS!) of pictures!

38 Week Checkup and Exciting News!

I had my 38 week checkup this morning. The doctor was late getting there, because he was delivering a baby. They hooked me up for a Non-Stress Test, and watched the baby for awhile. It wasn’t until the nurse came in and started pushing on my belly before I started contracting. I asked her if she’d come home with me, since she seemed to have the magic touch, but she politely declined.

A little while later, the doc came in and checked my cervix. We talked about my breakdown last Wednesday, and he asked how I was doing. (I never told you all, but I went into his office, convinced I was in labor, only to find out I wasn’t even contracting.) Last week was a very emotional week, and I was a total mess all week.

He checked my cervix and was pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve dilated almost to a 3! That’s HUGE news for me, because I’ve never made it past a 2 on my own before. We talked about letting me go on my own, but because my blood pressure has been spiking a little too high, he felt it was better to just go ahead and schedule my induction.

Sooooooo………. Gage Walker will make his appearance sometime this Thursday, March 10th. I’m so excited. I’ve been praying that I wouldn’t miss our revival at church this week, and since it runs tonight through Wednesday, this is perfect!

If I disappear for a bit, you’ll know why, but I’m going to try my darndest to catch up (and get ahead!) before I go off and have this baby.

Thanks for all your prayers and concerns, thoughts and emails. I really do have the best readers on the net!

38 Weeks Pregnant – Time to Pack the Hospital Bag?

38 weeks pregnant

38 Weeks Pregnant

Because I’ve never gone into labor on my own, I’ve never packed the hospital bag ahead of time and had it sitting there ready for weeks. Because so many have been scheduled inductions, I’ve packed the bag the night before, and had everything ready to go. The only one that was a complete surprise was Parker. I developed pre-eclampsia, and because everything happened so quickly, I had no time to pack a bag or get everything ready. That’s one birth I’d like to never repeat again.

Now, here I am at 38 weeks, still perfectly plump and very pregnant. I can’t go anywhere without people asking if I’m ever going to have this baby, and I refuse to answer the phone because the first question always asked is, “Oh, you’re still there? No baby yet?” SIGH. I’m 38 weeks. Talk to me after 40 weeks. Although then you might not like the consequences of asking such a dumb question.

My next appointment is on Monday, and since I haven’t been contracting at all, (which is extremely rare for me!), I know he’s going to tell me to hold on one more week. While I’d give anything to have this baby here, if the doc still thinks he needs more time to cook, then I don’t have a problem with that. I know this baby will not come without pitocin – none of my other ones ever have, so I’m not expecting this pregnancy to be any different.

But, do I pack the hospital bag? I’ve already got my hospital bag check list printed off and ready to go. I have everything I need, I just don’t have it all in one place yet.

Part of me feels like if I do pack the hospital bag, I’ll be jinxing myself. If I’m ready to go, I’ll never go into labor on my own. But, if I don’t pack it, maybe something will happen and I’ll go into labor on my own.

Now, that’s never worked before, so maybe I should try packing and being ready to go. Maybe that’s all this baby is waiting on.

So, as you can tell, my brain is running a million different directions, and I can’t make up my mind. So, where else can I go but to my readers?

Tell me: How early did you pack your hospital bag?

Inducing Labor – Does Anything Work?

37 week belly pictureThis morning I had my 37 week doctor visit. My blood pressure has been elevated the past few days, but I can always get it back down by lying down on my left side. I was anxious to talk to my doctor about that today.

The appointment went pretty well. Gained a pound. I’m up to 9 pounds gained for this pregnancy. I am SO happy about that! Blood pressure was  a little high, but not too bad. It was 140/85. It tends to get worse as the day goes on, so I wasn’t surprised that it was ok.

Went back to the exam room, and he came in a few minutes later. We talked about my blood pressure, and he told me that he’s not too concerned since I can get it to go back down, but if there ever comes a time that I can’t get it to go back down, I need to go to the hospital immediately.

He then checked my cervix. Still really high, (not surprising!), but he could feel the baby’s head, and I’ve dilated to a whole ONE. It’s better than nothing, though, right? He stripped my membranes and told me that because I’ve done so well this pregnancy, he really, really wants me to see if I can go into labor on my own. Fabulous. <insert eye roll emoticon>

Since I’m past 37 weeks, he told me to start doing anything I can think of to put myself into labor. Since I’ve never gone into labor on my own, I really have NO idea what will work!

So, I got home and started googling “ways to induce labor”. Oh. My. Word. Everyone and their mother has an opinion on this.

Now, so you know, I will NOT drink castor oil or Kaopectate or do anything that’s not natural or safe. While I want this baby to come naturally, I do NOT want to do anything that could cause him any harm.

What are the ways to induce labor that you have used that have actually worked? Are there any that really will work?

So far, the most common ways to induce labor that I’ve found are the following:

  • Sex
  • Acupressure
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Eggplant
  • Chinese Food
  • Nipple Stimulation
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Walking

I am also planning on trying the Break Your Water Cookies that I posted recently, and see if those do anything at all.

I know that this post will cause people to comment and tell me that I need to let the baby come naturally and on his own. I already know that nothing will bring on a baby that’s not ready to come. And since I have never, (in all 5 previous pregnancies), gone into labor on my own, I figure that if I start doing these things now, maybe by the time my due date rolls around, he’ll be ready to come. So, please, no lectures. I’m not going to do anything that could hurt my baby, and since my doctor is the one recommending that I do these things, who am I to question his advice? 🙂

I am curious to know, though: Is there a method to induce labor that has worked for you?

36 Week Belly Picture

Can’t believe we’ve made it to 36 weeks with no real complications! Praise the Lord!!

36 week belly picture

36 Week Ultrasound

This morning, I had my 36 week ultrasound. I am so glad hubby had the morning off, because he would have hated to have missed this.

The entire visit was so much fun. Really! We had a ball.

Our ultrasound technician was fabulous. And she must have had a Pepsi for breakfast or something, because she was just as giddy as could be. She took all the measurements, and showed me that there’s no sign of any knot in his cord. (A *huge* fear of mine, since that’s how we almost lost Jace.) After she got all the measurements she needed, she started poking at the baby to get him to turn his head for a face shot. I warned her that Gage does *not* like when people poke at my belly. She kept poking. All of a sudden, we see THIS flash on the screen:

Flipping the Bird

We all about died laughing. I told her that I warned her, but she didn’t listen!

She got a few good face shots, and you can see that he’s already got chubby little cheeks. She also estimated that he’s weighing between 7 and 7 1/2 pounds already. I don’t know how true that is, since they told me Parker was going to weigh between 6 – 7 pounds, and he only weighed 5 pounds, 6 ounces at birth. So, one just never knows how accurate they really are. You could see a good layer of fat and some chub rolls on the baby, so he will be plump.

Baby Gage

Baby Gage

On our way out, we ran into my OB. He asked why we didn’t invite him to the party in the ultrasound room, because it sounded like we were having way too much fun. Hubby showed him the “bird” picture, and he got a kick out of that.

I go back on Monday to meet with the doctor and talk about the results of the ultrasound. I’m *really* hoping that he schedules an induction date for me, but I’m not getting my hopes up yet.

Have you ever had an ultrasound experience that was really pleasant? Do you believe that the u/s tech can totally make or break the mood in the u/s room?

My Love/Hate Relationship With the Third Trimester

In all my pregnancies, the first trimester has always been typical. The second trimester is what I like to call the “pregnancy moon” phase, where things just kind of putt along with minimal excitement. (Most of the time.) And then there’s the third trimester. Never have a I experienced a “normal” third trimester. I have never gone into labor on my own, never went to a doctor’s appointment and heard, “You’re 3 centimeters dilated!” Nothing. While I have dilated to 2 centimeters on my own, I stall out there, and cannot go any farther. (I stayed at 2cm for 9 weeks with Jace. They finally induced me at 39 weeks. Same exact thing happened with Lucy.)

So, I can’t put up a post and tell you the truth about the third trimester, because I really have no idea what it’s like for most women. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

There are things that I just love about the third trimester: The baby is bigger now, so when he moves, my whole belly moves with him. If I poke at him, I get a reaction from him. I feel like it’s the start of the special bond he and I will share when he finally makes his appearance outside the womb. There’s nothing sweeter than that.

And, hubby can now interact with him, too. He starts talking to my belly, and it shows me that I know he’s going to be a great father all over again.

Then, there’s the fact that the pregnancy is almost over. In a matter of weeks, I will be holding my sweet baby boy. Those are all my favorite parts of the third trimester.

But, as I said, this is very much a love/hate relationship that I have going with the third trimester.

The contractions get a whole lot stronger and much more intense. I’ve always worried about actually going into labor on my own, and not knowing what it’s supposed to feel like. Delivering a baby at home doesn’t sound like much fun to me, so I’d like to avoid that at all costs.

It is impossible to get comfortable. I can no longer sit on my couch, because it feels like my pelvic bone is going to snap in half every time I do. Thank heavens I have my glider from Hayneedle.com. I spend most nights in it, and as much time as I can sneak in during the day.

Because this pregnancy has been so different from my previous pregnancies, I am terrified that I may actually go into labor on my own and not even know it. In fact, the other night, I was having severe contractions. They were coming every 3 minutes, and I had back pain unlike anything I had ever experienced. From midnight until 4 am, I tried everything I could think of to ease the pain. Hubby spent several hours rubbing my back. I’d walk, sit in the glider, lie on my left side. Nothing helped. My husband joked that if the baby’s head started showing, he’d figure out how to get me to the hospital, since my truck was parked at the top of our driveway. I laughed between the tears.

Finally, a little after 4am, I fell asleep. The alarm went off at 6, and I got up with the kids. At that point, the contractions weren’t nearly as severe, and the back pain wasn’t nearly as severe. Another false alarm? I really have no idea. All I knew was that I wasn’t trekking all the way up my driveway to get to the hospital and be told that it was nothing.

A crazy, unpredictable 3rd trimester is nothing new to me. If I knew what to expect, maybe I could write a book a become famous. But I’ve learned that I need to expect the unexpected.

I have an ultrasound on Thursday, and my next doctor’s appointment is Monday the 21st. Provided my blood pressure is still ok, and there’s no change in my cervix, we’ll keep holding out as long as we can.

Now, you tell me: What has your third trimester experience been like? If you’ve had several pregnancies, have they been different each time? I’d love to hear how the third trimester goes for the rest of you! 🙂