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Monday, December 29, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 22

How far along? 22 weeks

What's baby up to? Baby is about the size of a spaghetti squash.  Mmmm....I love spaghetti squash!!  She is just under 11 inches and weighs a little less that a pound. Her lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct.  

Total weight gain: Not exactly sure....I've been afraid to weigh myself.

Maternity clothes? Pants, yes.  Shirts, not necessarily. 

Symptoms: RLS

Sleep: Still waking up some during the night, but not nearly as bad.  

Food cravings: Not really!

Food aversions: None

Movement? Yup!  And Jacob felt her move for the first time on the morning of Christmas Eve.  We were at 
his parents house and she was getting crazy.  He put his hand on my stomach and she gave him quite the show!  I could not stop laughing because it was like she started kicking even harder when we put his hand up there.  It was definitely very exciting for him to finally be able to feel her squirming around in there.

Miss anything? Nope!

Best moment of the week: Jacob feeling baby girl kick for the first time.

Looking forward to: One last week of Christmas vacation.

Friday, December 19, 2014

An Early Christmas Gift

So we have now heard back from Brandy (the genetics nurse) at ECU as well as my midwife, Mandy.  When I saw the phone number from ECU my stomach instantly dropped.  All I could think of was the last call and the news I had gotten.  As soon as I had picked up the phone and learned who it was my response was, "Oh no...."

So Brandy wasted no time diving in to the test results.  "You are low risk for Trisomy 13.  You are low risk for Trisomy 18.  You are low risk for Trisomy 21," said Brandy.  "I'm sorry.....what??!", was my response to her.  "You're low risk across the board!", she reiterated.  And I think I just stood there.  I didn't cry.  I didn't scream in excitement.  I didn't really do anything....I just stood.  I'm not sure what I expected my reaction to be, but I don't think I would have guessed that in a million years.

"Candice, are you still there?", Brandy was asking.  "Oh yeah, I'm here!", I replied.  When I got my thoughts straight, I finally managed to ask her what exactly low risk meant.  Similar to the AFP testing, the results come back categorized into risk factors.  I fell into the lowest risk category across the board.  Less than 1 in 10,000.  Yes you read that correctly, and I didn't accidentally type an extra zero.

I'm not sure if it was because I was expecting bad results or if I had written the whole situation off and was expecting good results.  I'm not sure what exactly had subconsciously gone on in my mind, but I do know that God had worked on me.  I think now, that I had finally come to terms with our situation. I had finally come to realize that I could not control the outcome of this situation (something that I have always struggled with).  I had begun to rest in the knowledge that God would bring us through any situation, either situation.  And I had started thinking about the beautiful life that we could still have even if our sweet girl did have "designer genes".

 I didn't know what the outcome was going to be and that was okay. And to be honest, we still don't know what the outcome will be. But we do have a little better picture into what is going on inside of me.  When I talked to Mandy this evening, she was so upbeat and encouraging (as she always is).  I told her that the doctor at ECU had offered us an amnio and she said that she wouldn't do that in a million years with the cards that we now hold in our hands.  And we're on the same page with her.  Obviously, there will be a tiny part of us that wonders until the day our girl is born.  But that won't steal our joy, for our joy rests in the Lord and is not contingent on situations or circumstances.  And we are just as blessed now as we would have been with a different report.  And we will be just as blessed at the time of birth if our baby has Down Syndrome as we would be with a typically developed child.

So, we thank each and every one of you for all of your prayers.  We have had countless texts, emails, Facebook messages (public and private) sharing your thoughts, prayers, and stories with us. I have even gotten messages from complete strangers....literally!  People that neither of us know from Adam that have shared their story, how they are relentlessly praying for us, and given us scripture.  And we are so grateful.  So this Christmas, we received an early Christmas gift.  One that wasn't wrapped up in shiny paper tied with ribbon and placed under the tree.  This Christmas we are praising God for good news- on a multitude of levels.  The good news that we received this week as well as the Good News that He has given to the world. Merry Christmas {a little early} Y'all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 20

Halfway there!

How far along? 20 weeks

What's baby up to? Baby is swallowing more and has begun producing meconium. Supposedly the baby is about 10 inches long, head to heel, but I'm thinking she may be a little longer than that since she was already over 9 inches at our appointment in Greenville (which was in the 85th percentile). 

Total weight gain: 5 pounds- whoops!  Gained a little bit since I last caught you up.  I help on tight to 2 lbs. all the way up until 17 weeks then over doubled my weight gain in 2 weeks. :-)

Maternity clothes? Pants, yes.  Shirts, not necessarily. 

Symptoms: Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)- I've always struggled with this a little bit, but if I sit in one place for too long it is even worse these days.  Other than that, no real pregnancy symptoms.  I got a head cold about a week ago which then turned into a sinus infection and let's just say it is NO FUN being sick--especially when you are pregnant.  Fortunately, my GYN agreed to see me in their office after I begged them to not have to sit at Urgent Care with all of the flu/strep infested people.  Bonus=getting to hear the baby's heartbeat while there!

Sleep: About 8 hours at night (if I don't wake up from about 1-3:30 which is pretty typical).

Food cravings: Not really!

Food aversions: None

Movement?  Yes!!  I finally feel movement.  I think it took me a little longer than average, but I can finally definitely say I feel movement.  There were things that I thought were movement around 18-19 weeks but I could never pinpoint it.  And so since I wasn't 100% positive, I just discounted it.  But I am definitely feeling wiggles and occasional pokes.  I would describe it as a fish flopping when she is wiggling.  And while I wouldn't say she is kicking yet, I am definitely feeling some pokes.  Now, we wait for Jacob to be able to feel things.  We've tried a few times, but every time he touches my stomach she immediately stops moving. 

Miss anything? While I've never really been a "back sleeper", I do typically lay on my back and read before going to bed.  Gone are those days :-(

Best moment of the week: CHRISTMAS BREAK!  For.Two.Solid.Weeks. Thank you, Lord!

Looking forward to: Seeing all of our family for Christmas, Christmas Eve service with Jacob's parents and STEAMED OYSTERS (I love that tradition), Christmas evening with my family after all of the hustle and bustle the day has to offer, relaxing on my break, and a manicure on Tuesday!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fan, Alumna, Patient

During my time as a Morgan, I have gotten to know East Carolina University in many different ways. First, it started off as a slow fade to becoming a fan.  :-)  NC State had my heart for a while, but when we got married I converted over to a full fledged ECU fan.  About two years after we got married, I decided to pursue my master's degree in Special Education and applied to be a graduate student through ECU.  In December 2012, I graduated with my master's degree in Special Education from ECU and became an alumna.  Then in November 2014, I also added patient to my list of affiliations. No longer am I able to go to New Bern to see my beloved midwife.  I am now considered high risk. No woman wants to hear those words when she is pregnant....especially not one who is below 35 like me.  Clearly, that entails that something is wrong.

On the morning of our appointment, I was a mess.  I was barely holding back tears, my stomach was upset, but I was trying to put on a strong front.  When we entered into the hospital and I got registered, a peace came over me.  I was still scared to death, but I knew that God was right there with me.  I knew that he had already planned my days and chosen our baby specifically for us.  I knew that no matter what the outcome was, that my God was faithful and his providence would be made known through our situation. The lyrics resounding in my head were, a peace that passes understanding is my song.  Which, by the way, is very ironic because Aaron Shust has a son with DS. 

So, on December 5 at 9:10, we walked through the doors of the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine high risk clinic to go to genetic counseling and have a Level 2 ultrasound done.

In genetic counseling, Allison (our counselor's name) explained to us all about Down Syndrome.  She didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know, but she trudged forward for Jacob's benefit.  She then went in depth about our family histories asking questions about general conditions (HBP, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.).  But, more importantly she spent time drawing out our family tree asking about genetic disorders (by the way, Trisomy 21 isn't necessarily thought to be passed down through generations--though it can be-- it can also just be an anomaly) and intellectual standing of each person.  While we did tell her that there were definitely some branches of the tree that weren't all there.....just kidding!!  Allison ended the appointment with, to me, the craziest/most disgusting thing a mother will ever hear.  We explained to her that we wanted to do the Harmony test, wait for the results, then decide about an amnio.  To which she explained that we were pushed a deadline (wait 10 days for blood results, get back in for anmio appointment, wait 10 more days for results) and that would bring us dangerously close to 24 weeks (the legal deadline for abortion), so that if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy we wouldn't be able to.  I quickly shut her off and explained to her that we have complete trust and faith in the Lord.  And that he has a plan for us, and that we would never get in the way of that plan or even consider an abortion.  She was very understanding, told us that she had to inform us of all options, and didn't mention it again. Altogether, the genetic counseling took approximately 30 minutes and I walked away with a few pictures that I took, well...just for kicks and giggles.

My blood results and risk percentages
Our family tree
Then, we went back out to the waiting room to wait for the Level 2 ultrasound.  Let me take a second to just say that we have amazing families. My mom and dad came as well as Jacob's mom to wait with us in the waiting room.  They knew there was a chance that waiting in the waiting room was all they would be doing, and they still came to support us.  It was definitely comforting knowing that they were behind just a few walls should we need them.  Back to the ultrasound-- While the Level 2 ultrasound is not conclusive, it was going to give us more information to work with.  It only differs from a regular ultrasound in the fact that it has to capability to do a nuchal translucency test.  The ultrasound lasted at least 45 minutes if not a little longer. Our ultrasound tech, Michelle, was amazing!  She took her time and explained to us exactly what she was looking at.  She looked at the following things specifically (and I may be leaving some out) and was looking for the followings things: the heart (4 ventricles with no holes), the paired organs (2 present), the intestines (blood flow was sufficient), big toes (in line with the other toes), pinky fingers (3 joints), femur bones (correct length), head circumference, nose bone (that it was present and positioned correctly), nuchal fold on the back of the neck (that the thickness was within normal limits), eyes/nose positioning (that the eyes were an appropriate distance from the nose), lips (looking for no indicators of cleft).  I think that is about it.  And the whole time, our baby girl was very cooperative.  I learned my lesson from the last ultrasound and did not drink OJ prior to coming.  Of course, I didn't eat or drink anything, because my stomach was in knots.....diarrhea with a tendency toward throwing up (probably TMI!). When the ultrasound tech started looking at our baby's heart, I asked her if there were 4 chambers there because somehow I had gotten confused in New Bern when they were only looking for 2.  At that time, she opened up and really started explaining to us what was going on.  Though she probably wasn't supposed to, she went through each of the above listed soft markers and explained to us exactly what she saw.  I was so thankful because it meant I didn't have to lay there in complete panic and worry throughout the entire ultrasound.  During the last 15 minutes, the ultrasound tech had Jacob go get our parents and they were able to come in for the last part of the ultrasound.  I think she knew she had an audience because she started showing off for all of the grands!  We got to see her moving her arms around, putting them on her head and cheeks, yawning, crossing her legs, and more.  It was the first time that I had actually thought an ultrasound was cute.  Up to that point, ultrasounds had only been scary.

At the end of the ultrasound, we saw the doctor and he again confirmed that there was no evidence of any soft markers for DS.  He also told us that the ultrasound wasn't fail proof because it was still only a screening tool.  In fact, 50% of the time a child has Down Syndrome, there are no soft markers present on an ultrasound.  Very comforting, right?! Then, of course, the doctor offered us diagnostic testing-- aka, an amniocentesis.  We decided to do one more screening before pursuing something invasive.

So, I headed off to the lab for more blood work.  Mandy, my midwife, had recommended that I get the Harmony Prenatal test done while there because 1) it is not invasive and carries no risk, 2) insurance covers it at the high risk clinic, and 3) it is much more reliable than the AFP test.
 False Positive Rate*Detection Rate**
Harmony Prenatal TestLess than 1 in 1,000More than 99 in 100
Traditional Test1 in 2085 in 100
  The Harmony test screens for 4 different things as opposed to the less specific 4 the AFP test measures. It measure your AFP (alphafetoprotein), hCG, Inhibin A, and Estriol, then based on the levels of each determines your risk factor.  We are supposed to get those results in about 10 business days. From there, we will make a decision on whether or not to pursue an amniocentesis.

After my lab work, we headed back out to the lobby and were done!!  We decided to all go to lunch together at McAllister's Deli to celebrate the good report. Both Jacob and I got a bacon spud with a cup of chili and boy was it good!  I think it tasted even better because a little bit of stress had been lifted from our shoulders.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anatomy scan....with more implications

We went to our appointment in New Bern for our anatomy scan after some bumps in the road with scheduling.  Let's just say one of the receptionists assumed that since I was going to Greenville, she should cancel my appointment.  Needless to say I was hot to trot!  Mandy had specifically told me to keep the appointment since my high risk appointment was so far away and it may put our minds at ease a little bit.  So after getting it rescheduled for the same time, we headed off to East Carolina Women's Center on Monday, November 24 to find out what we were having if our baby had indicators of Down Syndrome.  Funny how perspective changes things.  In fact, I wasn't the least bit excited, knowing that we could leave broken.

We arrived about 15 minutes early because the office will cancel your ultrasound appointment if you aren't there on time.  And then, the tech was running about 20 minutes behind.  So that meant that we waited for an exorbitant amount of time and my nerves built up even more.  When we finally got called back for our ultrasound, my nerves were a mess and a student from Pitt Community College was helping out.  I laid down and we immediately saw our little one pinging around gleefully in my belly.  That may or may not have been because I drank 12 oz of orange juice about an hour before! :)  The tech kept saying, your baby is one of the wiggliest little ones-- haha, whoops! After about 25 minutes of ultrasounding, and very little conversation related to what was happening, I broke down.  I started crying (poor ultrasound student) and explained that I was a basket case.  So our tech, Currie, told me a little about what they were seeing.  She told me not to worry, that she was seeing some good things, but pretty much left it at that.  Afterwards, we met with Mandy who eased our fears significantly.  She told us that no soft markers had been found and that she was even less concerned than before (which wasn't much).

We left the doctors office with some ultrasound pictures and much more peace of mind than we had come in with.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot- and an envelope with a gender picture!  Jacob and I went home for a quiet dinner of leftovers and sat on the couch, processing, and watching TV together. About 2-3 hours after getting home, we finally decided to open the envelope and we found out that IT's A.....  Just kidding!  We haven't told our families :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Praising Him in the Storm: Getting the Call...Not the Letter

On Wednesday, November 12 I went to the doctor for a routine (or so I thought) blood draw.  Now I know, that I had the option to not have this blood work done and several of my close family and friends went that route.  But nonetheless, God had a purpose for me.

The labs were testing for Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), Edward's Syndrome (Trisomy 18), and Open Spina Bifida.  The appointment only took 5 minutes, and I talked and joked around with the lab techs about not drinking enough water that day so that my weight gain wouldn't be astronomical.  PS- I didn't even get weighed that day- haha!

When we got home all we did was cry and pray.  We called our families and they cried and prayed with us. Because a different doctor had ordered the testing, my midwife had not received the results and couldn't give me any more information than "You screened positive" and "It could be a false positive".  We immediately began reading up on the internet about what all of this meant and what this crazy blood test was that I had unknowingly agreed to!  We found some information that led to questions for my midwife to answer the following morning.

  1. What was my risk ratio?
  2. What was my maternal age ratio?
  3. What are the next steps?
My midwife, Mandy, called me first thing on Tuesday morning and went over everything with us.  We both went to work and got on a conference call when she called me.  My risk ratio was 1:107 and the cutoff was right in the middle.  My maternal age ratio was 1:716.  Mandy told us that we shouldn't be completely worried yet, that she really would be concerned if my ratio was 1:25.  But, of course, the encouragement was lost on me.  I began questioning everything that I done and how my life had developed.  Things that were literally laughable came to mind.

Results I later got from my midwife
I may or may not have gone out to dinner with two very good friends and wondered allowed if my incessant back popping had caused this.  Yes, utterly ridiculous.  But, it shows just how clouded my brain was and how closely I examined everything I had done. 

Our week was spent in constant prayer and I had daily instances (usually multiple times a day) of emotional breakdowns.  Throughout the week we got phone calls, texts, emails, and visits with friends that proved to us the power of the body of Christ and the comfort that He can provide through His people.  

After a sweet phone call from my Pappaw, I began to memorize Psalm 139, with a vow to have the entire Psalm memorized by the time baby Morgan arrives. I also found great comfort in one of the things I turn to most often,  music.  I listened to lyrics closer than ever before and poured out my heart to God.  

God, our desire is for our baby to be free of any chromosomal abnormalities.  We beg this of you.  But, as Jesus said on the cross....Father, if there is any other way, take this cup from me.  Yet, not my will, but yours. 

Hardest. Prayer. Ever. 

Broken Hallelujah, The Afters

Never Once, Matt Redman

Praise you in This Storm, Casting Crowns

You are For Me, Kari Jobe

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 14

Sorry, it's a little blurry!
How far along? 14 weeks, 6 days (I'm terrible at taking pictures at the beginning of the week)

What's baby up to? Baby is the size of a lemon.  She can now squint, frown, grimace, pee, and possibly suck his or her thumb! Kidneys are producing urine and he/she now measures about 3 1/2 inches long and weighs about 1.5 oz.

Total weight gain: Still just 1 pound

Maternity clothes? No, but regular clothes are getting tighter

Symptoms: Headaches- MAJOR headaches, tired but that is slowly but surely getting better, still some dizziness

Sleep: Pretty good

Food cravings: None

Food aversions: None

Miss anything? Caffeine!!  But, I'm hoping that after pregnancy I can stay away from the caffeine.  We'll see how that goes!

Best moment of the week: Nothing stood out as *fantastic*, but nothing was terrible either!  I'll take those kinds of weeks :-)

Looking forward to: Seeing my sweet friend Heather who moved to Washington State.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 13

How far along? 13 weeks, 5 days

What's baby up to? Fingerprints have formed on baby's tiny fingertips.  He/she is almost 3 inches long from head to rump and weights almost an ounce.

Total weight gain: 1 pound according to my scale

Maternity clothes? Not yet, but some pants are getting tight around the waist

Symptoms: Headaches, tired, dizziness- if I stand up too quickly or stay in the same position for too long, I start feeling lightheaded.

Sleep: All the time.

Food cravings: Still no real cravings except the amazing taste of Mexican food...specifically guacamole

Food aversions: None

Miss anything? Not really

Best moment of the week: A 3 day weekend

Looking forward to: Greeting the 2nd trimester on Monday and actually looking like I'm pregnant instead of widening.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pre-Parenting Counseling: Session 1

Most couples go through pre-marital counseling, right?  Well, maybe not....but, many churches do require couples to go through pre-marital counseling prior to getting married.  Since my Pappaw married us, I don't know that it was a "requirement".  But, we chose to go and really learned a lot through the experience.

For that reason, I decided that I wanted us to go to pre-parenting counseling. I figured it would be a proactive way to start this journey.  My goal was for us to "get on the same page" and talk through typical parenting dilemmas.  Who is going to change the baby?  What are our discipline philosophies? What things are non-negotiable and what things can be compromised on?  That kind of thing..... So I found a christian counselor in New Bern and made the contact!

Well, today was our first counseling session and I think we were both excited. The counselor started with basic questions: birthday, age, what we love about one another, how long we've known each other (9 years-- holy smokes, time flies), how long we've been married, etc.  From there, she started discovering things about each of us and eventually centered in on our biggest difference as parents at this point in time.  And I must say that she hit the nail on the head.....even if it isn't the direction that I wanted things to go in. So, therefore, we will now "get on the same page" in a much different way than I imagined.....but a very necessary way. After gleaning all kinds of information, she discerned that Jacob was the confident, "everything's going to be okay and work out" parent.  I, on the other hand, am the scared parent who lacks confidence in my abilities. Therefore, for the next however long it takes- we will be working on "getting me on the same page" as Jacob.  Is it what I originally wanted?  No.  Would I have originally gone if I had known this would be the outcome? Most likely not.  But, God has crazy ways of working and speaking through others. So, we're in it until......

Our assignment this week: come up with scenarios/"what ifs" and talk about how we each would handle the situation.  Our next meeting- next Saturday!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 12

How far along? 12 weeks, 5 days

What's baby up to? The biggest development this week: reflexes.  Fingers will begin to open and close, mouth will start making sucking movements, toes will curl, and eye muscles will clench! The baby's eyes have moved from the sides of the head to the front, and the ears are right where they should be.  Goodbye flounder baby :-)

Total weight gain: 0 pounds according to my scale

Maternity clothes? No

Symptoms: Headaches- MAJOR headaches, tired

Sleep: Going to bed around 7:45-8 has become pretty common around our house.

Food cravings: No real cravings, but Mexican is tasting better than ever!

Food aversions: None

Miss anything? Not really!

Best moment of the week: Our diaper bag came in-- hopefully this little one isn't a boy or we're going to be sporting a very feminine diaper bag for him! Hearing our baby's heartbeat was definitely exciting yet still very hard to believe.

Looking forward to: Our first pre-parenting counseling session and an upcoming 3 day weekend (Halloween)

Birth Plan thoughts

Music:  Most definitely.  Not sure what I want it to be yet, but I definitely want music playing when our little one is born.  It has been one of the most significant parts of my life.

Calming: I would definitely like some type of candles (if possible....don't know if the hospital would allow that) or lavender incense/smells going.  I will most likely need all of the sanity inducing items I can get.

Clothing: My mom is going to try to make me a cutsy hospital gown and I'm going to try to convince (probably won't take much) her to make a toboggan that baby M can wear instead of the hospital ones.

Favors: I would like to and plan on creating favors for the people who come to visit and for the team of doctors and nurses.  A small token of appreciation.
Printable tags are on this site too!
Celebrations: When all of the family/friends come in, I definitely want to have a toast.  A "chin-chin" the words of my FIL, Mr. Jack.  And obviously, monogrammed plastic cups are a must. That may be wishful thinking.....
My inspiration....from Kelle Hampton

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Another first

Wednesday, October 22 was the first time that we were able to hear the heartbeat.  Jacob came along- just in case- and I'm glad he did!  It ranged from about 165-174.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 10

How far along? 10 weeks, 3 days

What's baby up to? Baby has now completed the most critical portion of development.  The tissues and organs in baby's body are rapidly growing and maturing.  There are little nails forming on the fingers/toes and peach-fuzz hair growing on its skin.  Baby is swallowing fluid and kicking and most vital organs are in place and starting to function!

Total weight gain: -1 pounds according to my last appointment

Maternity clothes? Not yet, but my Mom, Dad, and Rebecca have me hooked up when that time comes!

Symptoms: Headaches- MAJOR headaches, some nausea but nothing like I expected, exhaustion- running on fumes.

Sleep: Depends on the night.  Some nights I sleep better than other while others I wake up around 2:30 and can't get back to sleep.  It doesn't help that I usually get up a 3 or more times a night to pee.

Food cravings: Funnel cake....fortunately that craving was finally satiated at the Bluegrass Festival

Food aversions: Coffee, baked chicken (I got a hold of some with a piece of fat and came within a hair's distance from puking)

Miss anything? really.  I miss being able to relieve my headaches relatively quickly.  Fortunately, the doctor did give me a prescription for Fioricet (a pregnancy safe migraine medicine). Margaritas- we would end up at a Mexican restaurant on margarita special night, haha!

Best moment of the week: I finally broke down and made our first baby related purchase.... a diaper bag!  It came in the mail and it is everything I thought it would be and more.

Looking forward to: Going to the State Fair and eating DEEP FRIED SNICKERS!!!  I may pick up a funnel cake too.  And some NC State ice cream.  And some maple syrup cotton candy.  Just sayin'...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Our First Ultrasound

On October 1, Jacob and I left for a very nerve-wracking (in my opinion) doctors appointment.  It was the appointment of our first ultrasound.  I was supposed to be almost 11 weeks along, but since I hadn't been overly symptomatic I was still hesitant to accept the "pregnant" label.  My appointment was at 2:15 and we arrived just in the knick of time!  After waiting for about 30 minutes (which felt like an eternity), they finally called me back.  The ultrasound was internal and as soon as the tech (named Currie) put the wand in, I immediately saw what I thought I would never see.

I think my exact words were something like, "Oh my gosh.  There is a baby in there."  And Currie's response, "What did you think would be in there?!"  I explained to her how apprehensive and nervous I was about everything and she was great.  The whole thing lasted about 15 minutes and she pointed out the arms, legs, heart (which you could see fluttering away), brain, and spine.  While we couldn't hear baby Morgan's heartbeat, Currie did clock it in at 178 bpm.  She also mentioned something about the baby wiggling around.  Well, apparently I wasn't paying very good attention because I was oblivious.  So she patiently held the wand still and waited for a few minutes for baby Morgan to show off again.  And sure enough, we got to see the little nubby arms and legs wiggle around!

There's nothing like seeing that.  I didn't know what I would feel.  I didn't know if tears would start spilling down my face.  I just didn't know.....  But what I do know, is that I became a little more at ease with everything after that appointment.  I saw and felt a glimmer of excitement.  And something about Jacob sitting behind me was also prophetical in a sense.  Because through it all, I know that my husband is my #1 supporter.  He'll always have my back.  And at the sight of our baby moving, my heart melted because a little, "awww" escaped from my man.

After the ultrasound, we met with Dr. Tinga who informed us that everything looked great.  But, he was also very proud of himself for being right.  He told me that he suspected all along that I wasn't quite as far as we had originally thought.  So all in all, they changed my due date from April 24 to May 4 which put me at 9 weeks, 2 days.  I mean, I'm going to be a cooperative participant here and not question them. But quite frankly, their calculations don't add up to my dates which I know to be correct!

When all was said and done we left with three little momentos tucked safely into my wallet.  Oh yeah.....and a bill for $1100 (but we won't talk about that- haha).  Then, we headed to a celebration dinner at El Tequila!  We had a buy one, get one free dinner coupon which landed our bill at a whopping $10.98 which included Jacob's drink.  And while a margarita sounded unbelievably amazing--- probably because I know I can't have it.....or maybe because they were on special for $3--- I decided to be a good role model and not "contribute to the delinquency of {the} minor" (as my FIL would say) growing inside of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Let the Appointments Begin

On Thursday, September 18 I had my first OB appointment (at 8 weeks pregnant).  It was definitely surreal and my stomach was in knots.  For some reason, the doctors office scheduled me for two appointments back to back.  The first was my meeting with the OB nurse, the second was my first OB physical.  This is important because the entire time I was there each person I saw questioned why I had two appointments in one day.  My response always went something like this, "Um....I don't know?! That's what the nurse on the phone did!"

I met with the OB nurse who gave me this bright pink bag that screams "I'm pregnant"!!!!  And for someone who isn't quite comfortable with that idea yet, the bag may have been a little much.  Then, I had my physical with Dr. Tinga who is crazy tall....6'8" to be exact.  All of his exams tables are lifted, and all of his doorways are custom height.

Funny story.  Maybe TMI, but you can decide.

So, you know how when you've been in a profession for a while you may forget to tell someone something because you assume it to be common knowledge.  Well the OB nurse that I first met with was older and slightly cantankerous.  As I was leaving, she handed me a urine sample cup and a wipe and told me to go pee in the cup.  No further instructions needed, right? So, I went into the bathroom and peed in the cup.  Thinking I must be Intellectually Gifted in my cup-peeing skills, I thought, "well, I didn't even need this wipe thingy because I got absolutely no pee on my cup."  Walking out head held a little higher, I passed my cup off to the lab lady.  Fast forward about 15 minutes to when they ran my urine sample and saw that I was "spilling over white blood cells".  Dr. Tinga and his nurse were in there when the report came in and he asked if I had been having any UTI like symptoms.  Nope, none!  Then the nurse chimed in, "Maybe you just didn't wipe well enough before peeing in the cup."  HAHA!!  I almost died laughing but instead held it together and said, "Yeah, I bet that's exactly what happened." WHOOPS-- so that is what the wipe was for!!

So the rest of the appointment can be summed up in- couldn't hear the heartbeat, talked to Dr. Tinga in his office, and headed on out.  And just like that I had survived my very first OB appointment :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

If I Ever Needed Grace It's Now

After talking to a dear friend (Cheryl) last night, she suggested that I listen to the song If I Ever Needed Grace. How had I never heard this song when I absolutely love Jimmy Needham?  This morning, Jacob left bright and early for a meeting which left me home alone and free to be loud and rambunctious :-)  So, I Googled the song and listened to it.... at least 4 times.  And I cried.  Surprise! It seems like that's all I do anymore!

Let me just tell you, that this song tapped into exactly how I have been feeling.  And God threw me a curve ball right at the end.  The lyrics say:
Nine short months till she arrived
Little hands and lions eyes
And I'm so scared I don't have what it takes
But I hear your voice Sunday morning
Father give me eyes to see
All I need's the power of your name

If I ever needed grace it's now
You are strong when I am week somehow
I am weak enough to see
I need you to cover me
If I ever needed grace, it's now.

I'm so thankful that God continues to give me signs and speak through my beautiful friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jacob's Family

Telling Jacob's family ranks at the top of my list in happy days of my life as well.  We decided, spur of the moment, to head up to Greenville to watch the ECU vs. VT game in the Murphy Center.  We arrived at Jacob's house, expecting his Dad to be rearing and ready to go, but he still needed to take a shower.  So, of course, I sat and anxiously waited until we could discreetly get both of his parents in the same place at the same time!  Finally, right before we left I showed them a onesie that I had made for our unbelievably adorable niece, Ava Kate.  
After ooing and gooing over the onesie, Mrs. Lydia finally decided to read it and then almost dropped her teeth!  She said out loud, "Big Cousin" and then immediately processed what was going on.  In the meantime, poor Mr. Jack was still clueless.  He kept saying, "Big Cousin?"  "What, are you her cousin or something?"  Mrs. Lydia was hugging me, and Mr. Jack was making his way over to Jacob still trying to figure out what the heck was going on.  Finally, Mrs. Lydia clued him in and yelled, "SHE'S PREGNANT!!"  After confirming that that was really the case, Mr. Jack couldn't believe it either.  There were tears everywhere-- the new theme of my life-- and we headed out to the game with a new little Pirate fan in tow.

{insert video of us telling them-- it's on Jacob's phone!}

We had planned to wait and tell Jacob's brothers a little later, but as we were sitting there watching the game Mrs. Lydia came up with the idea of inviting everyone over for a celebration dinner.  And how can you say no to that?!  So, we gladly went along with it.  Laura and Parker were unsure if they were going to be able to make it because they had other dinner plans, but fortunately they were able to pop in afterwards which we were very thankful for!  So, we gave Ava Kate her little onesie and I am 100% sure that Aunt Laura was more excited than both me and Jacob put together!!! 

After dinner, we were able to spend some sweet family time together and I got to snuggle that little angel face up above!!  

Highlights of the Day:
  • Telling Jacob's parents
  • ECU beating Virginia Tech
  • Telling Jacob's brothers and our sister-in-law
  • Getting to hold and love on Ava Kate
  • A very special phone call on the way home which may have made me cry {SURPRISE!}

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When Doubt Closes In...

Doubt. It is an ugly, ominous, black cloud that slowly creeps in and has suffocating qualities.  Doubt has planted unwanted, fearful thoughts in my mind that I can't seem to escape. And then I, again, question myself and begin feeling so unworthy.

Why did God choose me to become a mother?

What if I can't do the child, fail my husband, fail myself?

What if I don't love my child?

All of these questions and thoughts have crowded my mind. They poured in on me and saturated my mind relentlessly.  And so, again this morning, for the fourth Sunday in a row, God worked on my heart. Softening. Molding. Shaping. Loving. Dr. Patterson spoke of healing and while most pregnant women don't consider themselves broken, I know that I'm broken, depraved, and nothing without God. While all of the doubts crowded in on me, God whispered:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He reassures. He reconfirms. He teaches. And so like Matthew 11 suggests, I will continue to use this experience to learn from Him. When doubt closes in, I will take that opportunity to rest in Him.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Anniversary Present Like None Other

Mom and Dad's 34th anniversary was on Saturday, August 30 so Jacob and I had planned to go up to see them on Sunday, August 31.  Little did they know what was in store for them.  We had been busy at work during the week on a DIY that I was replicating from Etsy.  To tell them the news, we created a dark stained wooden sign that read: "The best parents get promoted to grandparents."

After it was complete, I wrapped it up in paper.  Might I mention that I didn't have any normal tape, so masking tape it was!  And I didn't have enough tissue paper of one variety, so I used about 10 different kinds of tissue paper.  Then, I put it in an unwrapped Morgan Meats box and taped it with masking tape.  To say the least, this package looked slightly unloved.

We brought the box in and my Dad immediately said, "What's that for?"  I told him that we had gotten them an anniversary gift and his response was something like, "Take it back. We don't need any gifts." Let's just say I think he quickly changed his mind on that statement!  So, Mom and Dad began opening the present and I tried to discreetly take a video under the guise of taking a picture.  So, I'll let the video do the rest of the talking....

Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck. My stomach was in knots before telling them and I was SO nervous. Jacob kept saying, "Candice, you're not a 16 year old girl who has shacked up and gotten knocked up." But, as the day transitioned on, my nervous and worries began shifting towards joy and excitement. My mom confirmed that my inner most feelings were completely normal and reassured me that they would begin changing and I was going to be a natural.

I must say, that August 31 is a day that tops the charts in my life. My parents are going to be unbelievably amazing grandparents.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All Signs Pointed to "Yes"

So there were an unbelievable number of signs that may have eluded to the fact that I was pregnant. I don't know if I chose to ignore them because I had convinced myself that I wasn't or what.  But, here is a rundown of the craziness that probably does not include everything.
  • Well you can always rest assured that if I try to be proactive, it will turn around on me.  Jacob and I decided to sign up for Disability Insurance under the premises that we could wait 4 years to have a baby and STILL come out equal to what we had paid in.  Then, if we decided not to have a child, we would still have come out cheaper than if we did have a child- haha!  You see how that worked out, right?  I literally BARELY made the cut-off for the whole pre-existing condition thing. And thank the Lord- literally, I'm so thankful- that this amazing company doesn't have a 9 month exclusion policy.
  • On a similar note- After my latest stint in the hospital we realized that a medical bridge policy would most likely be beneficial because you never know what's going to happen.  And it would have almost covered all of my hospital bills for only $10/mo.  Again, I literally just BARELY (like by 4 days) made it in for the pre-existing condition clause. 
  • The first thing that I noticed... sore boobs (Yeah.  You didn't want to hear that.  But, it's true.)
  • My friend Rebecca texted me one morning and told me that she had a dream that I was pregnant and that I was wearing a black shirt.  I sent her a text back, laughingly of course, of me wearing a black shirt.  
  • After going out to eat Mexican with some of my friends from Comfort, I began feeling yucky. I got pretty nauseous on the car ride back to school and by the time I got in I was feeling dizzy.  So, I ended up in the floor of the office with my feet propped up.  
  • Headaches galore.  I had terrible migraines in high school and the start of college but they gradually went away.  My headaches have been under control for the last 4-5 years. Then, all of a sudden, they weren't.  I began having awful, debilitating headaches.
  • Hot/cold spells. 
  • Having to constantly go to the bathroom.  Looking back on it, I'm not sure how I didn't find it unusual that I had to get up and go to the bathroom not one, but TWO times during Ava Kate's (my niece) baby dedication.
  • And finally, the most obvious- a missed period.  
Other than those things, I have not had any crazy symptoms.  Fortunately (knock on wood) I haven't really had any nausea or vomiting besides that one random time.  I have had quite a few dizzy spells, but I really am feeling great.  I think that is God's way of telling me that everything is going to be okay.  My first appointment to confirm everything is September 4.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Day We Found Out...

August 23, 2014

My period was 9 days late.  I had been having cramps.  I was sure it was coming anytime.

I had taken 3 pregnancy tests, all of which had come back negative.

I was positive that I wasn't pregnant...just adjusting to the stresses of a new job and the new hormones of the women that I was working with.  Well turns out, I was positive alright.....just not in the way I thought.

I had been talking and texting with one of my most dear friends, Rebecca, about what I needed to do. She was up to speed on everything, including the morning that I discovered that the pregnancy tests I had been using were almost expired (exp. Sept. 2014).  So I took her advice, and waited until the weekend to see if my period would ever come.  And when it didn't, she highly suggested that I go buy a "more reliable test".  {OK-- I admit, I had been using the Dollar GenTral ones.}

On my way home from the Oriental Farmers' Market, I swung by WalMart and picked up a pack of 2 Equate brand tests.  I figured that if I was pregnant, even the Equate brand should be able to pick it up since I was 9 days late. And of course, I double checked the expiration date- Sept. 2016.  I went on home, not thinking a thing in the world. I mean, 3 negative tests that weren't technically expired yet. And, we had not been trying to get pregnant.  After all, we had agreed that children weren't necessarily in our game plan for the future.

So, you can believe my utter shock and dismay when I took the pregnancy test, set a timer, went and ate half a piece of pizza, and came back to see this:

I stood there...staring. Surely this wasn't right.  The new life that I was about to embark on flooded over me at once.  And I broke down.  I mean, ugly cry.  I hadn't planned on this.  I wasn't prepared.  I wasn't good enough.  And so, I called Rebecca and everything came out.  My fears, my insecurities.  And as I walked up and down Spann Road, she just listened and offered advice when I stopped blubbering.  In fact, I'm surprised all of Trenton doesn't know by now.  She also texted me a picture of the "baby bible" which she let me borrow.

After calming down, I got off the phone with Rebecca and knew that I needed to find some way to tell Jacob.  Since he was on his way home from the Jacksonville Farmers' Market, I decided to make a sign that said "Welcome Home, Dad" and attach the pregnancy test to it.  I hung it on the door to the back bedroom thinking he would have to go back there when he got home.  Well, change of plans.  The closer he got, the more I knew that my plan would never work.  I would start crying when I saw him, and the surprise would go out the window.  So, after realizing that I still hadn't gotten my coolers out of the car, I decided to move the sign out to my car window.  I also added a disclaimer to the bottom.
Original Sign
New, Modified Sign

I also took a video, knowing that I would most likely want it one day in the future.

Throughout the day, I continued to process.  I broke out in random bouts of crying (even waking up multiple times during the night).  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Trent and Rebecca invited us over for dinner (y'all we are so blessed by their friendship).  Before going to dinner, Jacob and I went to Target (per Rebecca's advice) to get pre-natal vitamins.  And of course, while we were there we saw 3 families that I knew for a total of 10 people, and I looked like a hot mess.  The pharmacist helped me pick out the vitamins until I could get to the doctor for a prescription.  Then, we headed over to the Scott Farm.  Trent and Jacob ate a deer roast with vegetables that Mrs. Anita fixed, while Rebecca and I ate Chick-Fil-A.  And might I say that she even brought me a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.  The dinner, conversation, and laughter (there is ALWAYS laughter when the 4 of us get together) was much needed.  Right before we left, Claire gave us our first present-- a bear teething ring (Claire Bear!).

The night did not get any easier and all kinds of emotions bowled me over.  Jacob did his best to comfort me and tell me that everything was going to be more than okay.  And I just sat, listened, and continued to process.  I mean, was I really pregnant?

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Calling on My Life

I was going to resort to putting this post in a Facebook status, but knew that a simple two sentence blurb wouldn't do it justice.  So, I turned to my long-lost, forgotten blog to document the latest happening in my life.

About three weeks ago, I submitted my resume to Jones County Schools for an EC (Exceptional Children) position at the high school. Yes, I said "THE high school".  As in, the only one in the whole county!  A huge change from my urban beginnings in Wake County!  After not hearing anything for a week, I called Central Office to make sure that my application/resume hadn't fallen between the cracks.  As I had suspected, they had accidentally misplaced my resume and the position had been filled.  Of course, I was disappointed.  The secretary proceeded to tell me, though, that an elementary EC position had opened up in the meantime. Still, disappointment crowded in on me because my plan had gone awry.

Thankfully, God's plan always surpasses my own.

I very reluctantly took an interview for Monday, July 14 at 9:00 am.  Fast-forward to Monday and I had made no preparations for my interview.  I woke up early, got dressed, and decided that I, at the very least, needed to do a little research on the school.  So, I turned to my best friend- NC School Report Cards and my new favorite tool- the NC Teaching Conditions Survey (which I discovered has all survey results for every public school in NC posted online). After familiarizing myself with the community and school, I headed out to Comfort Elementary School- Home of the Bears.  With a REAL taxidermied bear in the front hallway. Only in the country, my friends!

I had a great interview, but was still so unsure of everything.  After all, it wasn't my beloved Bridgeton Elementary and it definitely wasn't the high school position that I had my sights set on. Around 4:30 that afternoon, I received a phone call from the assistant superintendent (yes, you read that correctly) offering me the job.   I was literally dumb-struck and asked for a few days to think things over.  Well, needless to say....he wanted an answer by the next day.

I cried.  I prayed.  I cried some more.  I called family and friends for advice.  I prayed.  I cried.

Tuesday morning I came to the decision that the job just wasn't for me.  I mean, if I was that undecided and had shed that many tears why in the world was I even contemplating it.  After all, if it was God's will for my life, it definitely wouldn't be hard.....or uncomfortable. Right?!  So at 10:00, my decision was made. I was going to go personally visit the assistant superintendent and principal to gracefully decline the offer and thank them for the opportunity. "I'm not taking the job.", I told my friends.  "I've made my decision!  I'm not taking the job!", I told my family.  But, I procrastinated. Praise the Lord for His Holy Spirit who works on people like me!

After much encouragement from Jacob, I decided to go back to the school for a tour as I hadn't seen anything except the front office.  I knew that the purpose of the tour was not only to see the building, but more importantly, to gain more [much needed] insight and information from the {newly hired} principal. On my way to the school I prayed. I sang. I offered thanks to God for his provision.  I mean, how many people struggle with the choice between TWO jobs? I prayed that God would make it abundantly clear to me when I stepped foot in the school.

After spending 2.5 hours with my future principal and school secretary, I knew.  Though it didn't make it any easier, I knew that God was calling me to a new chapter in my life.  And so that is why I accepted the offer to teach in Jones County Schools at Comfort Elementary, as the Exceptional Children's teacher.  I am sad to leave 5 years at Bridgeton Elementary.  I am sad to leave my friends. I am sad to leave all of the children that I have grown to love. I am sad.

But, I am full of joy.  I am {finally} starting to get excited and God has provided for me once again! As the old saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20", and the blessings that I am able to now see are unimaginable.

  • Since high school, I have wanted to work in Special Education. Fast forward 11 years....
  • 20 minutes to work versus 45 minutes to work.
  • Applied for a high school position, but ended up in my "comfort zone" of elementary. And, it just so happened that the elementary EC position opened up after the high school position had been closed.  
  • Small community with TONS of support.
  • 13 student caseload-- yes, you read that correctly!  I will be the envy of every EC teacher in the state of NC.
And the list goes on....

I struggle still, thinking about leaving my "work home".  The place that took me in, gave me friends, and loved me after moving from Raleigh. The people that supported me through highs and lows. The children who have laughed with me, learned from me, played with my hair, and greeted me with a hug every morning.  I am so blessed to have taught alongside of my friends for 5 years.

So, after 7 years of teaching-- 1 in ESL (English as a Second Language) and 6 in 3rd grade, I am
beginning a new chapter. I will officially be an Exceptional Children's teacher for students Pre-K through 6th grade!  I can't wait to soak it all in, to make a new set of friends, to get further involved in the community that I live in, and to immerse myself in God's plan for my life.  I am thankful that he works with and in hardheaded people like me, showing patience, and not letting me go too far astray.

My Dad sent me an article from Relevant Magazine, where Chandler Vannoy stated,"If God has given us a new heart that desires what He desires, our decisions are going to line up with His plan.......We are often so intent on looking for some hidden plan God has laid out for us that we forget to consult the passions and desires He's given us."  So, I am now pursuing my passion and, in turn, following the calling that God placed on my life so many years ago. I have faith and trust that God is not finished with me yet!

Some fun facts about Comfort Elementary:

  1. It is a Pre-K to 6th grade school.
  2. There are 140 students in the entire school.
  3. There is only 1 class per grade level except for 2nd grade where there are 2.
  4. The building is absolutely precious and I'm sure the people will be too!
  5. It is surrounded by farmland on all sides (currently planted in corn).  Need I say more?!