Home stretch.

Today was the second in my weekly checkups before baby L.J. arrives, and all seems to be right in the world. Aside from testing positive for Group B Strep, which fortunately is common and simply requires that I be on antibiotics during labor and delivery, everything else is progressing as expected. I've started experiencing pre-labor, which is nothing to get your underpants in a bunch over as it's not the same thing as the first stage of labor, but still it's a good sign that we're on track for an early January arrival. Basically, the baby's head is in position for delivery, I get up to pee about five times every night as a result, I get crampiness and backache very similar to the ones I got when Aunt Flo stopped by, I've started having painless contractions, and according to the doctor, I'm dilated to 1 cm (out of 10). Baby girl weighs in at a little more than six pounds right now, and the doctor says that if I don't deliver in the next ten days (which is an unlikely scenario anyway), she'll be around 7.5 pounds at birth. The doctor guessed we're in for another two or three weeks, which puts us right at her due date- and although I have just had this "feeling" that she would be early, I have no complaints about her being on time because overall I feel pretty darn good.

That, and we still have some things to take care of in order to be ready for her to actually be here.

The nursery, however, is nearly finished. Cody has been working tirelessly to get our old dresser sanded and painted and ready to be filled with all sorts of baby clothing goodness. Man, is this kid gonna be dressed well. I've been sewing up some goodies and still have some projects on deck that I'm hoping to tackle sometime in the midst of the holidays, my husband's 30th birthday, the new year, and the birth of our child… deep breath. It's not like we have anything going on…

My baby shower was last weekend and I couldn't have imagined it more perfectly than it turned out to be. At some point I decided that I was going with a vintage bird theme in the nursery, and that theme was carried through in my shower, complete with carefully decorated birdhouses, bird nest cupcakes, a scrapbook full of notes, advice and encouragement from attendees, and a photo collage of some of our maternity photos from our shoot with Session Nine. Everything was set up so beautifully and in such an incredibly thoughtful way that I had to hold back tears when I walked in, I couldn't believe the effort and care that was put into everything. My BFF Amber, who flew out from Laguna Beach to throw the shower along with my dear friend Kelly, went above and beyond to make little Elska's shower absolutely perfect. My mom and grandma made the delicious food, Jessica was there taking pictures, and Renae was there helping set everything up as well. All I can say is that I have the absolute best friends a girl could ask for- and baby L.J. is going to have a whole slew of Aunties doting on her when she makes her debut in the very near future!

I didn't take any pictures at the shower because Jess had that part covered, so once I get those from her I'll be sure to post them for your enjoyment. Also, stay tuned for maternity pictures- those turned out beautifully as well. My blog is so boring because I never have any exciting pictures to post! Ha! Rest assured, that will be changing soon- after all, we'll have a precious new photography subject in our household.

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Dream land.

I've been feeling relatively normal for being as pregnant as I am-
almost eight months now- that it almost feels like one day, I'll be
going about my business as usual, then I'll go into labor and we'll
suddenly have a kid. Almost like we'll be going from our normal life
with just the two of us and our dogs to the huge transition of life
with a child. OK, so yes, of course that is obvious… but most
pregnant women I have known have been miserably anxious to get the kid
out already, and for some reason I've been fortunate enough to not have
experienced the majority of common pregnancy side effects. While I count my blessings for that, I feel like
I've lacked the transition phase that comes with the typical pregnancy.
I'm not sure that makes sense to anyone but me, and of course we have
spent the past several months adjusting to and preparing for and
embracing this forthcoming change, but it still feels like a huge leap because I feel way more normal than I think I should.

With less than six weeks to go until her due date, my head is spinning
with to-do lists and ideas and anxiety and eagerness to meet this
precious little girl. My shower is coming up and I couldn't be more
excited. And in spite of the reality of it all, I completely feel like
I'm living in a dream. The fact that we are thisclose to the arrival of our baby is surreal to me… still. We have been working diligently on the nursery for the past couple of weekends and when I stand next to the newly-built crib or sit in the glider I still can't fathom the idea of there actually being a baby in that crib, or in my arms as I rock back and forth. I still wake up wondering how this is my life. Not in a bad way- not in
the sense that I don't want this life. I wouldn't trade any part of
what and who I have in my life, not even for a day. I suppose I'm simply
in sheer awe of it all.

Perhaps on a chilly day in January, when I look into the eyes of our daughter, I will wake
up from this dream. I don't think anything will make my life more real,
more complete, more purposeful than moving forward in this journey
alongside my dear husband. We have had a very difficult first two years of marriage, but not the type of difficulty that has torn us apart- although it almost did. Almost. But, amazingly, in the end we only became closer and our love and appreciation deepened for one another, which fills us with hope for the future and confidence to take on what lies ahead. In spite of everything we have been through,
all we have lost, and the uncertainty ahead of us, all of those things
pale in comparison to our new life, one that is of
more worth than I'm sure I can even comprehend right now. Maybe I will understand it someday, but right now I'm in a whirlwind. God is moving
in our lives every day and we are so thankful for that. What can
possibly be more exciting?

Anniversary.

I'm a bit overdue for an anniversary post- well, any post, for that matter- but I wanted to share some pictures from our trip up to Happy Jack. I had never heard of this particular Arizona destination until our good friend Alex put us in touch with friends of hers who built a cabin there- a cabin they graciously open up to people like us who need a relaxing getaway free from distractions, but with all the comforts of home. We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our destination- the pictures explain it all:

The front room, complete with a TV, a Wii (Cody's favorite), and a fireplace.

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It was raining and windy that day- so nice with the skylights above the fireplace 🙂

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The room we stayed in (there were three to choose from).

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A pool table! SCORE!

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The awesomest bathtub ever…

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LOVED this kitchen. We were set to go and didn't have to worry about eating out- it was fantastic.

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Mornings were restful 🙂

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Played some Jenga in true nerd fashion.

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Hanalei showing off.

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Probably my favorite picture ever taken… so sweet 🙂

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Working on nursery ideas at Macy's, home of The Best Hot Chocolate I've Ever Had.

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In Flagstaff.

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On the way back from Flag… welcome to our life 🙂

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The sky was like whoa that day.

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The outside of the cabin.

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Happy Anniversary to us!

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Chocolate cake for dessert… and breakfast… and snacks…

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It snowed on our way back to Phoenix… then rained… then the clouds
cleared and the sun was blazing and we had to turn on the A/C when we
arrived back in the desert. Only in Arizona.

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We had such a fantastic time. It was the perfect trip to celebrate this last time with just the two of us before we being the adventure known as parenthood. Many thanks to the Bodes for creating such a wonderful place and sharing it with us and many others.