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faith

Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Grace in Our Weakness

October 23, 2014

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For a while I got into a really good rhythm of writing authentically, saying what I was really thinking and feeling and processing. And then, a handful a months ago, I fell out of that rhythm for one reason or another. It’s not that I’m intentionally keeping anything from this site or not saying what I mean to say, but the truth is that this pregnancy has been all-consuming. The rocky beginning that shook us to the core, the desperate pleas for prayer and more prayer, the waiting between weekly appointments, the awe of the miracle God performed, holding our breath not knowing what the next week held, week after week, in all of its uncertainty.

I told myself for weeks that once we got out of the first trimester I would breath deeply and relish in the beauty of pregnancy, but anyone who’s been fearful of something can tell you there isn’t a magic point when the fear subsides. Instead, that fear is replaced with another fear, another fixation, another date on the calendar. I’ve been doing it, too. After the first trimester ended there was the next appointment, and then the 19 week ultrasound, followed by the appointment with the specialist. I told myself I would feel more peace and breath a sigh of relief after each milestone I placed on the calendar. But the truth is, I replaced once fear for another, one milestone for the next.

As I look at my thoughts and my behaviors I’m embarrassed. God has been so faithful to us and done such a miracle in this pregnancy! He’s led us through tough times in our marriage and our careers and through times of uncertainty, and yet I sit back at where I started, filled with doubt and uncertainty, wringing my hands and feeling fearful of what comes next. Even to me, when I look at it logically, it seems silly and petty and immature.

It’s times like these that I’m thankful for a God who offers forgiveness and grace in my weakness and doesn’t give up on me, time and time again. No matter how many times I have to learn and re-learn the same dang lesson, we worship a God that’s faithful and patient enough to overlook those weaknesses and give us another go at it. So if today, you find yourself stumbling over the same lesson you learned a thousand times before, don’t be discouraged. Take heart that we can come to God time and time again, no matter how many times we’ve done so before.

Madison

Uncategorized

On Turning 27

October 6, 2014

Christmas Card Photo 4 (B&W)
Yesterday I turned 27. I’ll admit that for the first 10 minutes of my birthday I totally forgot how old I was. I looked into the mirror in the bathroom and thought to myself, “I think I’m really going to like 28″ only to realize a few minutes later that I was actually 27. I guess it takes the sting off getting older when you’re prematurely aging yourself!

I’ve always taken the opportunity on my birthday to look back on the previous year and reflect, and 26 certainly gave me plenty to reflect upon. It was a year that started in my favorite place on earth, Gainesville watching my beloved Gators play with my dad and Joe,which is pretty much the best start I could imagine. I was in a strange place at the start on my 26th year, having just miscarried our first baby, I was filled with questions about our family’s future. Did we want to start trying to have a baby? What would the future hold and what would the road ahead look like?

When I look back at the past year, I feel pleased with how it was lived. There were plenty of tears but also lots of sweet memories, too. And when I look back, I’m glad that we chose to look beyond the harder moments and embrace both the good and bad of the past 12 months, because we certainly had our share of joys along the way as well.

Today, I’m kicking off my first full day of being 27 by going to our 19/20 week ultrasound. This afternoon we’ll find out if our little one is a boy or a girl (!!) and we’ll get to see him/her for the first time since our 12 week ultrasound, which feels like such a long time ago.  It seems so appropriate to start the year focusing on our baby, since 27 is (God willing) going to be the year that we welcome our first little baby into our family here on earth.

I’m filled with SO many questions as I start my 27th year. Will I be a good mother? How will Joe and I adjust to being (sleep-deprived) parents? I wonder what it will look like to welcome my 28th year and how different it will look from this most recent birthday. The last few weeks have, for a variety of reasons, reaffirmed to me how uncertain the future really is and what little control we have over many of the major events that shape our lives.

If you’ve followed the news, then chances are you’ve heard that those at my company (myself included) are facing a lot of job uncertainty. There is the threat of Ebola and Isis and worries about whether or not our baby will be healthy. Every day, if I seek it out, I can find more than my share of reasons to be fearful about the future. But I’m promising myself that 27 is going to be a year of walking out in faith, trusting that God has our future in His hands, believing that His plans really are best.

Madison

Infertility and Miscarriage, Uncategorized

Getting and Staying Pregnant: What We Did Differently

October 2, 2014

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I realize that I’ve posted quite a bit about pregnancy-related topics lately. Hang with me if pregnancy posts drive you crazy, because I have some great recipes coming to the site later this month! Since opening up about our difficult journey to baby, my inbox has been flooded with questions about doctors and medicines and acupuncture. I’m always happy to answer each question individually via e-mail, but I wanted to put it all into a single post as another resource for women traveling the same journey.

Before I launch into what we did differently this time around, I want to say that I was a bit torn about sharing this post. First, despite the fact that we’re now past 16 weeks, I have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be of this pregnancy. Second, I strongly believe that the baby I’m carrying is a miracle and a result of so many heartfelt and sincere prayers. I don’t ever want to steal away from the miraculous nature of this pregnancy in favor of condensing it down to a science. We truly have no idea what “did the trick” but believe that God worked through some of the many medical resources available to us.

1. A Daily Baby Aspirin
After our second miscarriage, one of the first things our doctor suggested was for me to start a daily baby aspirin regimen. Aspirin isn’t typically recommended for pregnant women, but in some cases it has shown to have benefits for women who have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Although my blood tests came back negative for any clotting disorders (a common cause of recurrent miscarriage) my doctor said sometimes a small dose of aspirin can prevent small clotting issues that may go under the radar undetected.

2. Acupuncture (a lot of it!)
The week after our second miscarriage, I started going to weekly acupuncture treatments at a practice specializing in pregnancy and fertility at the recommendation of a family friend. Thankfully the treatments were 80% covered by insurance (!!) so it was affordable and extremely enjoyable. I went every week for two months leading up to getting pregnant and every week through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Now I’m going once every month until the end of my pregnancy, when I will resume weekly treatments.

I can honestly say that the acupuncture helped tremendously with recovery after miscarriage compared to my previous experience and helped my body get back on track right away. It also helped my stress levels and most of the time I found myself falling asleep during the treatments. Additionally, my acupuncturist prescribed me several herbal supplements that I took throughout my cycle and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

3. Lifestyle Modifications
My acupuncturist also suggested several lifestyle modifications that I followed during the first trimester, which included eating organic, grass-fed red meat to help build my blood supply and focusing on exercises that were “nourishing” rather than depleting to my body. That means lots of walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates and avoiding running, high impact cardio and other intense workouts that would deplete my body.

4. Changing My Vitamins 
Almost everything in my blood panel came back normal except for the fact that my doctor informed me I tested positive for MTHFR, a common (but rarely tested for) genetic mutation that inhibits my body from properly processing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and B-vitamins, which are key nutrients in pregnancy. My doctor didn’t think it was a big deal or cause for concern, but after doing more research on my own, I talked with her about prescribing me Metanx, a prescription-grade form of natural, active B-vitamins. She agreed there would be no harm to me taking them and wrote me a script. I also switched to a MTHFR-friendly prenatal that would work well for people with and without MTHFR.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MTHFR, I would highly recommend you doing a little research of your own. I started with this website, and this one, too. Or, you can always e-mail me. I’m happy to chat!

5. Added Progesterone
Although I never tested low for progesterone in my second pregnancy (we didn’t test with the first) my doctor and I decided to err on the safe side and supplement the pregnancy with progesterone during the first trimester. She prescribed twice daily progesterone suppositories that were a total pain to take, but worth the peace of mind knowing I was doing everything I could to help this baby grow strong and healthy. I stopped taking the progesterone at 12 weeks, which made me nervous, but my doctor assured me that it was perfectly safe.

I have had this post written in my “drafts” folder for a long time, but I got another e-mail this morning from a friend with questions about getting pregnant, and it gave me the push I needed to hit “publish.” If you have any questions or I can be of any other help, I’m happy to chat!

Madison

*I am not a doctor or medical professional. This is simply what worked for us, but as always, please consult your medical professionals about any lifestyle modifications and medications when trying to get pregnant. 

Uncategorized

Influence Conference 2014

September 30, 2014

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Last weekend I attended the 2014 Influence Conference in Indianapolis. The driving idea behind Influence is to make your online life more meaningful and intentional through the sharing of your faith, the words you use and the mindset behind what you share on things like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.I’m still unpacking my thoughts and re-reading my notes from the two days I spent at Influence. I’m sure that a lot of what I learned at the conference will continue to impact my writing for months to come, but I wanted to share some immediate take-aways while the conference was still fresh in my mind.

1. There is value in doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable.
I’ve said it before, but I’m a closet introvert. I enjoy giving presentations at work and love making television appearances, but I find large conferences and group interactions entirely overwhelming. It’s hard for me to go, go, go without taking some down time for myself to decompress and process, and I find it difficult to constantly put myself out there and meet dozens of new people.

My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid conferences all together and avoid feeling uncomfortable, but in the days following Influence I’ve realized there is much value in being out of your comfort zone now and again. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sign up for dozens of conferences a year, but Influence made me realize that carefully-chosen, intentional opportunities are important for my own growth.

2. Time spent online doesn’t have to be wasted time. 
Sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online. There’s time spent on the computer at work (unavoidable) and the time I spend blogging. Add the time I spend scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest to the list and it really adds up. Influence got me thinking about being more intentional with my time online, thinking twice about the negative Tweet I’m tempted to send out or what type of affirmation I’m seeking from a photo I share on Instagram. I’m not saying everything I share needs to be happy and rosy, but there’s a fine line between being real and being just plain negative.

3. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they’re dealing with. 
When I arrived at check-in for Influence, I immediately noticed the shiny, well-dressed and put-together nature of all the attendees. But as the weekend went on and I heard the women in attendance share their stories, I was reminded, yet again, that no one has it all together. I know this. You know this. How is it so easy to forget? It was a reminder to me not to be too quick to judge or assume someone has it all together just because they’re wearing a cute outfit and have fresh highlights.

4. God wants me to be me, not someone else. 
As I watched the extroverted, bold women lip synching and dancing on stage at the opening black and white party, I started to get down on myself for being on the quiet, introverted side. Extroverts put themselves out there and boldly share God’s word! They’re the life of the party, the people everyone wants to be around, the first to jump in with something to say. I am not that person. I’m 27 years old and sometimes I still forget that God created me with a specific purpose, and that includes my quiet spirit. Instead of trying to be something I think I should be, I’m working on focusing on being more of who I truly am.

I left so incredibly inspired (and exhausted!) after attending Influence! It was such a blessing to meet so many wonderful, creative and inspiring women. I’m already looking forward to attending next year with a baby in tow! If you’re interested in signing up for Influence, tickets are already on sale here.

Madison

Uncategorized

September Goals

September 11, 2014

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Over the last couple months I’ve really let my monthly goal-setting fall to the wayside, haven’t I? First trimester took everything out of me and goal setting was last on my list of things to do, behind basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, going to work and washing my hair more than once a week! Now that I’m staying awake past 8 pm and functioning like a normal human being again, I’m feeling inspired to start back up with goal setting as we welcome in my favorite season.

FITNESS
Do the Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project 3 to 4 times /week + Continue to Walk 5 to 6 times/week
These videos have been such a blessing to me! I’m only wishing I would have discovered them sooner. I’ve struggled a lot with knowing how much to push myself in pregnancy when it comes to fitness, especially given my history of miscarriage. Although I know many women can safely run throughout their pregnancies, pushing myself to that degree just hasn’t felt right to me, so I’ve been looking for other ways to stay fit. I was fearful that Tracy was going to be a drill sergeant in her videos (just a notion I had about her) but she is incredibly affirming in her approach to prenatal fitness and pregnancy in general.

FINANCES
Stick to Our Budget
Two months ago, Joe and I decided to switch to a cash envelope system for discretionary purchases (aka everything other than mortgage and our auto bill pays) because I was having a tough time sticking to the budget we created in Mint. It seemed I was always looking back on the month’s spending, rather than proactively monitoring our expenditures.

Since I’m a very tactile person, having to deal with cash has been super helpful in curbing any impulse purchases. Plus, it’s fun to see the end of the month roll around when all our envelopes still have a little cash left in them. We’re already putting money away into our 401k’s and into savings each month, but with a baby on the way, it’s nice to save a little extra.

PERSONAL
Spend Less Time on Technology
Gah. Does anyone else find themselves mindlessly scrolling on their phones as they wait in line, sit on the couch and wait for the elevator? I’m finding myself guilty of mindless consumption of technology more and more, and I hate that I always feel glued to my phone. The other night Joe and I were sitting on the couch watching something on TV and I noticed that we were both mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Instagram, Facebook and the like, but when it takes away from face-to-face conversations, it becomes a problem. I’m making it a goal to leave my phone at home more often and give more attention to friends and family when I’m with them.

Make Time to Rest
This seems like a cheater goal, doesn’t it? Our fall is already looking super busy and very scheduled. I’m flying once in September and Joe and I are flying once in October and November, plus we have a lot of other social commitments on the calendar. Although all of the things we’re doing are fun, I’m making it a goal to be more mindful of creating restful times during the week and saying “no” when I can so that we don’t end up sick and exhausted by the time the holiday season arrives.

What about you? Do you have any specific goals for September or this fall in general? I had a friend at church say how they felt September was the new January and I loved that idea! Here’s to making September all about fresh starts!

Madison

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