Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sweet Baby Sam: 37-38 Weeks

 I almost didn't post an update this week. Mostly because I'm so anxious and exhausted the only thing I can think is "When is this baby coming OUT?!" Also because of the lack of new pregnancy photos. I don't look much different, so this one will have to do as a place holder. As of my doctor's appointment Monday I am between 2 and 3 centimeters dilated. I've had tons of almost symptoms and contractions but nothing consistent. My next appointment is this coming Monday and if Baby Sam hasn't made his way out yet, our doctor has allowed us to go ahead and schedule an induction if we want. It mainly just depends on what she says and how far dilated I am at that point. We shall see! I'm secretly hoping this is my last pregnancy update!
Weight Gained: 30 pounds, I think! Maybe 31? I can't remember.
Symptoms: Contractions, hip pain, lacking appetite (but I still have cravings and I'm still hungry!). I also had about 30 minutes of severe back pain yesterday that led me to believe I was in labor. Again, not consistent enough and it went away after about 45 minutes! 

Movement: A ton as usual. While he is still head down and ready to go, he has rolled over at some point. His knees were on my left side last week, but are now rolling on my right side and kicking my kidney. They are super obvious and I've even seen a foot come across my belly at this point. Crazy!
Food Aversions: Same as always. Sausage and plain chicken breasts.

Food Cravings: Dark chocolate, Mon Amie Blueberry Pancakes, Cereal. Yeah, nothing healthy. I cannot wait to have my love for healthy back! 

Sleep: I've actually had a few decent nights up until last night. I slept for 3.5 hours straight a few nights ago and it was glorious!

Maternity Clothes?: At this point, I'm good in this department and so over maternity clothes! (Same as last week!)

Stretch Marks?: Still just the few around my belly button but I have a feeling a few more may pop up after this baby gets here!
Miss Anything?: Exercise! Other than that I can't really complain right now!

Baby Items Purchased: Not a thing! I think we are all set! 

Looking Forward To: Holding this sweet baby in my arms! And an update at the doctor's office Monday if he hasn't made his debut.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My first (fur) Baby and my Hopes for him as a big brother

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{Photos from our 2014 Anniversary Shoot! Photography by Candace & Josh Spencer - Lotus Creative Studios}
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 {His favorite spot in the nursery! Also: Excuse the wrinkled crib skirt. My sweet husband put it on before I could iron it! It's on my to do list. }

For the past few days, Cruise has been acting a little differently. He's a Mama's boy and is usually following me everywhere or snuggled up beside me. He's even been more clingy since I became pregnant. But not lately. He'll constantly stare at me, but he won't come to me when I call him, he's mopey, and he won't even sleep in our bed. (Seriously, the kid loves to sleep in the bed!) Matt has joked with me that once Sam was born he would get his dog back (years ago, he was a Daddy's boy) so he's been loving that all of the lack of cuddles I've been getting, are going straight to him!

My biggest fear with having a baby has been how Cruise will take it. The last thing I want is for him to feel sad or left out. It would seriously break my heart! He turns eight years old next week, but to us he is our baby. He has no idea he isn't human, and he's always been the only "child". He's completely spoiled (with so much love!) and I just don't want him to be hurt. We've prepared him in every way we know how and we don't restrict him from anything regarding Sam or his nursery, except chewing his stuffed animals. Although I know there will be a time when they are sharing everything and I honestly cannot wait! I just pray it's enough.

My hope and prayer is that he always remembers that he was our first baby, and that we love him unconditionally no matter what. We will honestly make our best efforts to give him the most love and attention we possibly can. I pray that he will love his baby brother and protect him the way he does his Mama and Daddy. I have this vision of play time and sweet cuddles for these two, and even a vision of bruises and ear pulling, and my heart can only hope and pray that these visions come to life through brotherly love.

At the doctor on Monday, we found out that I am one centimeter dilated with a very thin cervix. (Yay!) Is that TMI? Whoops, hope not. Anyway, we are thinking (and I'm hoping) that he is just sensing the changes about to happen and that's what's causing the change in his attitude. He truly is the sweetest baby boy and deep down we are only hoping he'll be just as sweet to his little brother as things start to change. Does anyone have any advice as we make the adjustment? Any tips to make this a little easier on him (and us) would be greatly appreciated! 

P.S. For more Cruise photos, make sure you're following me on Instagram (@amanda_sumner_)! I'm kind of obsessed with him, obviously.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sweet Baby Sam: 35-36 Weeks


 Crocheted Cut-In Cami Maxi Dress: Express {Not Maternity!} | Tory Burch Miller Flip Flop: Nordstrom

You know you're pregnant when you go on a date night with your husband and A.) are willing to pay for valet parking so you don't have to walk too far. B.) Your husband has made the reservation and when you walk in the hostess says "a table near the restroom, correct?" C.) You cry in the middle of dinner because of the song playing in the restaurant. and D.) You leave Chocolate Moose with three cupcakes because you just couldn't choose and you know this will be the only time people don't judge. Not even a little shame.

Also, pregnancy brain is a real thing. These photos were supposed to be taken with our DSLR but I forgot the memory card. So, iPhone had to do because I refused to go back home. It was a miracle my hair and makeup was done, so I wanted to get a few regardless!

Weight Gained: 27 Pounds and I'm feelin it.
Symptoms: I'm officially in the uncomfortable state of pregnancy. I'm in "pre labor" (not to be confused with pre term labor) meaning I have symptoms of impending labor. It could be a week or four, but these contractions aren't playin! Basically every time I stand or walk at all, I'm having a contraction. Luckily, they still slow down/stop when I rest, so no need to worry yet! Also, kidney pain, swollen hands and feet, exhaustion, hangry, and super intense hip pain at night.

Movement: My body is sweet Sam's punching bag at this point. I've heard people say movement slowed down or they felt it less at this point, but not with this boy! I also feel his head twisting and getting into position which is a tad uncomfortable and definitely feels a bit strange! I'm trying my best to soak in all the sweet movements I can!
Food Aversions: Same as always. Sausage and plain chicken breasts.

Food Cravings: Ben and Jerry's "The Tonight Dough". I should be ashamed at the amount of pints I've demolished in the past week but I'm just not. It's seriously all I've wanted to eat! And bagels with honey nut cream cheese!

Sleep: I wish I could give y'all the same look I give me husband when he wakes up and asks "How'd you sleep?" Yeah.... I didn't.

Maternity Clothes?: At this point, I'm good in this department and so over maternity clothes!

Stretch Marks?: A few teeny tiny ones have popped up around my belly button. I'm not a fan, but it is what it is.
Miss Anything?: The ability to walk and not waddle, haha. Contraction free days and a good nights sleep!

Baby Items Purchased: Basically everything in Carter's that we didn't already own and liked, bath products from Tubby Todd, and some Young Living Gentle Baby essential oil. We also had a diaper party over the weekend and are so grateful for all of the diapers our sweet friends brought us!

Looking Forward To: Having my cervix checked for dilation Monday. Or at least the answer from it, haha!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Finding the Beauty in God's Timing through Infertility: Our Journey to Sweet Baby Sam

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"Infertility" is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth. {source.}

 We are one in eight. Our journey to conception with our sweet Baby Sam was a long one, and so is this post, but it's also one that I wouldn't change for anything. It's also not something I have ever kept secret. I encourage you, if you are experiencing any sort of infertility, to share your story. Talk about it with your peers or anyone you feel like may need to hear it. Understanding that I was never alone was a fact that kept me strong on my weakest days.

Matt and I got married on November 16, 2013. We knew before our wedding, that children were something we wanted immediately. We've always known that we were meant to be parents, and were never the type of couple that needed to "live life" before children. Four days after our wedding, on our way home from our honeymoon, I started to experience a sharp pain in my lower abdomen (at this point, I can't even remember what side!) so I decided to make a doctor's appointment. After just one visit and one ultrasound, we found out that one of my ovaries was covered in cysts and the pain was probably from one erupting. I should also mention at this point, I hadn't had a period in over 3 months but the doctors seemed to think this was normal since I had quit birth control in September. This was my only diagnosis. Cysts were common, and probably something I shouldn't worry about. So for the next few weeks, I continued to live a normal newlywed life.

By the end of December I had finally gotten a period, along with a random phone call from my doctor on his cell phone. He called to tell me that after reviewing my ultrasounds again, he wanted me to start taking at home ovulation tests. He didn't think I was ovulating. Strangely enough, I got a super late positive ovulation (like day 30 in my cycle) and a period just 5 days later. This was also the shortest cycle I've had in the past three years. After learning so much about normal cycles and ovulation, I now know this was completely abnormal. With that, I let my doctor know I received a positive ovulation and we were given the go ahead to try to get pregnant on our own.

Now here is why I consider myself one of the luckier ones. We found out fairly soon that conceiving on our own may be difficult. We knew that no matter what the doctors said, there could still be a problem, but we chose to try on our on anyway. No more tests or peeing on a strip. We simply wanted to enjoy our first year of marriage, while trying to get pregnant without any stress.

Unfortunately by April-June (ish) my periods were still crazy abnormal and I was still experiencing a lot of regular ovarian pain. I would go 70+ days without having a period and spent a lot of time with a heating pad, so my doctor finally referred us to an OB/GYN. In June of 2014, after more tests and ultrasounds, I finally started going in for regular monthly blood tests for ovulation, all of which came back negative through October. At this point, we finally decided to turn to fertility drugs to start my period and encourage ovulation.

After a negative ovulation test our first month on Clomid, we decided to forgo a second treatment and try acupuncture. I wasn't a fan of how the drugs made me feel, and will always choose a more natural way if it's an option. After a positive home ovulation test in December, we found out we were finally pregnant in January of 2015! We were thrilled and in complete shock, but we were also horrified. Call it a woman's intuition, or sheer paranoia, but I knew from the beginning something wasn't right. Matt did his best to encourage me, but something in the pit of my stomach wouldn't allow me to relax. We went for our 8 week ultrasound to discover there was no baby. The term for this is called a "blighted ovum". Although they couldn't "confirm" the diagnoses because our "conception dates could be off" we knew they weren't. There was no possibility for different conception dates, and we left that day knowing in our hearts that we would soon miscarry. 

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 {8 week ultrasound of our first pregnancy}

Sure enough about a week later, I started spotting. It took 4 days, but eventually I ended up having a complete miscarriage at home. While this was probably one of the worst things I have ever experienced, it was also a relief. At that moment, the tiny bit of hopeful anxiety I had left was gone, and we officially knew we had lost the pregnancy.

We decided we would hold off on trying another round of fertility drugs and just stop "trying" all together. The loss of our pregnancy was so difficult, we knew it would take a while to heal. But 7 months later and after 2 more rounds of Clomid, on September 29, 2015, I woke up at 6am to take a pregnancy test. 5 minutes later, I woke my husband up with the darkest positive stick I had ever seen and the biggest smile. We had a second chance, and I had more hope in my heart than I could put into words. We were 6 weeks pregnant with our little miracle, and completely sure that no matter what, God was completely faithful. We chose to put our complete trust in Him, and have been so unbelievably grateful ever since.

God's timing is perfect, and His stories are the most beautifully written. There was a moment after we found out we were pregnant with Sam where I was standing in church worshiping while the band was performing "Every Line" that I heard these words and knew He was writing my story in the most beautiful way that I could never even begin to fathom. "I close my eyes cause faith is seeing for me. I'm out of breath, but you are breathing for me. I lift my hands, to Jesus be the glory. My fight is gone, but you are fighting for me. The battle won I'm standing on your victory. I lift my hands, to Jesus be the glory." I held my belly as tears streamed down my face. My fight was gone, no matter the outcome, because He was always fighting for me. Then and now, my heart is full of so much love and gratitude for our Sweet Baby Sam. I have the comfort in our Savior, in His goodness, and in knowing that no matter what, He is good.

Matt and I now have the ability to look back and see just how perfect His timing is. Every "no" we ever received was only to prepare us for something better. Our journey to conception was difficult and at times heart crushing, but I truly believe we wouldn't appreciate our baby Sam as much as we do, had we not gone through everything we have. It has made us stronger in every way, and we have become so much closer to Jesus through needing Him more than ever. How crazy and beautiful is it to look at our children and know that we have a Father who loves us infinitely more than the way we love them? Having a Father who loves me the way Jesus does saves me over and over every single day. My heart is so full of gratitude that Sam will know how much he was wanted and prayed for, and that he will also grow up with a Daddy who loves him more than Matt and I could ever imagine.
 *I have never been diagnosed with PCOS. While I did have multiple ovarian cysts, and unexplained anovulation, I never met the criteria for an official diagnoses. I've never been given the reason "why" for any of our struggles with conceiving. In my heart I believe that the "why" is simply timing. It was simply God's way of saying "Not yet, my child" and I'm so grateful for His "but, now" in our story.

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24-April 30. You can find more information here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"The Meaning of Marriage" Chapter One Thoughts {Husband's first Guest Post!}

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Initially, I had planned on writing this post with my sweet husband, Matt.  But after reading his thoughts alone, I've decided to just completely hand this one to him. Let me preface this by saying, I did not force him to write any of this and all of the goodness you see shine through, is completely genuine. My marriage is not perfect (thankfully!), but it is my very favorite part about life. If you know me, you know I truly enjoy being Matt's wife and I think after reading this, you'll get the smallest glimpse as to why. 
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{Matt and I about to sign our marriage license}
Let me begin by saying that I have been sitting in agonizing anticipation of the day my bride would ask me to share my thoughts on her blog; and I could not be happier that it is about the Tim Keller book, The Meaning of Marriage.  Amanda pretty much gave me free reign to express my thoughts however I wanted (she usually knows better than that), so I thought I would give some highlights of the first chapter and how I see myself applying them in our marriage.  

Before I do that, let me say first that it does not matter if you are newlyweds, celebrating your 40th anniversary, engaged, or single - this book is for EVERYONE.  It can certainly change how married couples love each other, but I can't help but be amazed in wondering the impact this book would have on a single person in preparing their heart for their future spouse.  

Chapter 1 - The Secret of Marriage

Tim starts by giving a fascinating history of marriage and how it has evolved over thousands of years.  Let's be honest, my generation is the worst generation.  We are completely self-absorbed and horribly obsessed with freedoms and rights that we are in no way entitled to.  A common argument against marriage has risen in many young people today that marriage restricts their freedom.  That submitting to another in marriage goes completely against their nature.  Their needs won't be met, they will become unhappy, and the marriage will be doomed. 

What I loved most was how Tim shatters this objection and paints it as the idea of the sinful, selfish people we are.  Marriage is about putting someone else's needs above your own.  While my peers may argue that submitting to someone else in that way restricts their freedom, Tim argues that this is the ultimate way to live in freedom.  By putting someone else first, you are learning to master your own feelings.  Choosing to live a single life because you can't stand the idea of being "tied-down" by another, only means that you are living a life "tied-down" by your own feelings and desires.  

Now let me explain how this history lesson and definition of marriage is so useful for me.  
Tim talks about how Sara Lipton, a New York Times contributor, wrote a piece once on a bunch of scumbag politicians that couldn't keep it in their pants.  She wrote that the defenses being argued for these "men" we're that truly masculine men just don't work well in a traditional marriage.  They have so much testosterone pumping through them that their desire to be the alpha-male just won't let them repress their instinctive desires and feelings.  Well let me explain something bud, those desires and feelings to sleep with anything that will let you, is not millions of years of instincts, it's called sin - and it will kill you.  Sara goes on to explain how true masculinity has traditionally been defined as self-mastery.  You are truly a man once you have learned to be the master of your own feelings and instincts.  For most of history a man who could not rule his own self, could not be trusted to rule a household.  Wow.  As a husband and soon-to-be father, that is a powerful statement.  Being a worthy leader for my family is something that I know will be a constant battle, but something worth fighting for.  

Let me close with this -  how can we know that this idea of marriage can be successful? Because Jesus modeled it for us.  Paul commands us to love our wives as Christ loved the church.  Christ's love for his church (all of us) was so great that he came to Earth, lived a perfect life, and chose to die for us.  His sacrifice makes it possible for us to be reunited with Him in eternity, when we in no way could ever be deserving of that.  Jesus became a servant and put our needs above his own.  And that, according to Tim, is the secret of marriage - that the gospel explains marriage.  

If you have made it this far, my sincerest thanks for sticking with me.  I hope you enjoyed and will seriously consider picking up a copy of this book.  I also want to thank all of you that have been following Amanda on this journey with girl(ish).  Thank you for giving my bride the voice she had for so long tried to find. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sweet Baby Sam: 33-34 Weeks

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Morning, friends! I don't want to jinx myself, but pregnancy, all around, has been pretty awesome lately. Other than the kidney pain (which I've just learned to handle), I feel pretty awesome. Awesome enough for a few short workouts and walks, and awesome enough to run lots of errands and have some good date nights! And although I did end up hiring a cleaning lady (because let's be real, I don't have that much energy), I've even been able to keep the house looking pretty normal lately. I'll definitely enjoy that while I can!

Weight Gained: 24 Pounds. I'd be willing to guess a few of those are from the extra snackage lately. Oops.
Symptoms: Kidney pain from hydronephrosis, serious hanger, slightly swollen feet and hands (I had to take my wedding rings off for the first time since we were married and I'm still crying about it!)

Movement: I've got knees and feet in my right rib and right side constantly, but I really do enjoy it. I'll honestly be a little sad when this sweet baby isn't snuggled safe in my belly anymore. Luckily, he's still super low and head down, which I'm hoping will work to my advantage during labor. We shall see.
Food Aversions: Still sausage and now plain chicken breasts. I just can't.

Food Cravings: Plain Cap'n Crunch! I've eaten 7 bowls in the past 72 hours and I'm not even a little ashamed. Also plain greek yogurt with honey, fruit, and granola, chocolate peanut butter Muddie Buddies, Little River decaf coffee, and Pirate's Booty.

Sleep: Still not happening. I bet I was up 10 times last night, no exaggeration. I have officially forgotten what deep sleep actually feels like!

Maternity Clothes?: Do nursing bras and tanks count? I bought this bra and tank from Target, and this bra from Amazon.

Stretch Marks?: Still mostly just a ton of veins on my belly. I am starting to get a few minor stretch marks on my lower back/upper butt area, but luckily they are still coverable with a bathing suit bottom.
Miss Anything?: Red wine and sushi. Same as always! And I'm really starting to miss hardcore workouts! I used to be pretty strong, and at this point I just feel like jello. EVERYWHERE. I watched Matt do a P90x workout a few days and wanted to cry because I couldn't join him. Working out together was always one of my favorite things, and I'm praying I'll have the chance to start again once Sam is born!

Baby Items Purchased: Baby clothes, diaper bag, swaddle blankets, receiving blankets, fluffy blankets, post delivery self care stuff, travel items for my hospital bag, play gym, drapes for his nursery, and a few other small things. Matt and I took a big trip to Buy Buy Baby this past Friday and it was SO MUCH FUN! 

Looking Forward To: Still semi normal clothes! And at this point I'm really just looking forward to meeting our precious baby. Only 6 more weeks! Eeek!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Currently {Bible} Studying

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Good Morning, friends! Today I want to share a little faith based glimpse into my weekly life. I am constantly trying to learn more, and better myself as a wife, friend, and daughter of Christ, and I want to share with y'all what I've been studying recently. Now, I will admit, that some days are better and easier than others, and I tend to have a little more time than most since I don't have an 8-5 job. I am, in no way, trying to tell you this is what you should be studying or how much, I just want to share what has recently been working for me. Also, these are just brief snapshots. If you would like for me to discuss something a little more in depth, please feel free to ask!

Marriage: "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy and Kathy Keller

Matt and I just started this book and I'm so excited to dive deeper into it. In "The Meaning of Marriage", Timothy and his wife, Kathy, dissect Ephesians 5:18-33 chapter by chapter. Below is a brief synopsis via Amazon:

 Modern culture would have you believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. But these modern-day assumptions are wrong. Timothy Keller, with insights from Kathy, his wife of thirty-seven years, shows marriage to be a glorious relationship that is also misunderstood and mysterious. The Meaning of Marriage offers instruction on how to have a successful marriage, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.

There is a study guide and DVD that you can purchase separately, but Matt and I have decided to study it without them. We each read a chapter in the mornings, highlight in different colors what we loved about it, take some notes, and then discuss it in the evenings. We're only an introduction and chapter in, and I already know that it is going to do wonderful things for our marriage. Because we just began, I'll be sure to give y'all updates on our notes and thoughts.

Small Group: "Life Is ___." by Judah Smith

I fell in love with Judah Smith's teachings when I read his book "Jesus Is ___." for his Bible study Katey was sharing on her blog, so I was super excited when our small group agreed to start his study for "Life Is ___." Judah's teachings are youthful and engaging, while still being knowledgeable of Jesus' teachings and being able to share them in a way that is coherent. 

We did purchase the DVD and study guide for this book, which I highly recommend if you want it to be a true group study. I consider myself very lucky to be a part of a group of married couples who love Jesus so much and want to grow in their relationship with Him the same way we do, and that we also consider family. We have our second group meeting on the book tonight, and as always, I'm super excited to meet and discuss!

Personal: The Book of Job 
For a while,  I wasn't doing much on the personal end except for my devotionals. I realized to truly become closer to God, I needed to spend intentional time in His word on a more regular basis. Reading the Bible is something I struggle with because I feel like I have to read one sentence twenty times to understand it, but it's something I long to improve at. I was on the hunt for something to make it easier for me to comprehend when I came across The Moody Bible Commentary. The Commentary is written by 30 professors and theologians who explain, in depth, each book, chapter, and sentence in the Bible. When I say this book has completely change the way I understand the Bible, I mean it. I read a chapter in the Bible, followed by the notes on it in The Moody Commentary. I've learned so much more than I ever would have with the Bible alone, and I cannot recommend it enough!

If you would ever like to compare notes, or chat about The Book of Job, or any of the studies I'm partaking in, please feel free. I love to hear other peoples opinions and perceptions, especially when reading The Bible. 

Daily Devotion: She Reads Truth and/or "Life Is ___." 

I try to do a devotion every day, but with the other studies, it sometimes doesn't happen. When I do have the extra time, I always turn to She Reads Truth. Luckily, you're able to subscribe to daily emails and have them delivered to your inbox every morning! 

Because we are currently studying "Life Is ___." I've been doing the devotions to go along with the study each day. They are short and to the point, and go along with what we've learned in the week's study. I also have a few in my cart on Amazon that I would love to start when I'm not doing so much else!

I truly love sitting down with a cup of {preferably Little River} coffee and spending time with Jesus each morning. I know it's harder for some than others, but I believe that just ten minutes a day can change your entire day in the best way. I love sharing my faith, and I would love to hear more about yours! Are there any studies you recommend for the future? Please share!

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