Scary things.

I finally heard back from my doctor yesterday, and it wasn't the great news of anemia I was hoping for. Not to worry, Internet, I'm not dying, and my baby isn't either, but I was diagnosed with mild dysplasia, which fortunately typically clears up on its own. "Nothing to get in a panic about," said the doctor.  So naturally, this translated in my head to, "YOU HAVE CERVICAL CANCER AND YOU ARE GOING TO DIE," which incited panic, which brought on the daily hormonal breakdown, which caused my dear parents to worry sick about my state of mind. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I'm gonna be OK! However, mild dysplasia is scary for two reasons: first, pregnancy suppresses your immune system; and second, moderate and severe cases of dysplasia commonly lead to cervical cancer. AWESOME.

I haven't had a girl exam in many, many years, but every time I had one they always came back normal. I've always been healthy, tests always came back normal, and if there was ever anything wrong, it was never something that a simple change in diet or the like couldn't fix. As much as Cody and I struggle with the task of parenthood that lay ahead of us, and as much as it excites us (we are an emotional roller coaster, no?), we see God's hand at work in more ways than we even thought possible. If I didn't get pregnant, I never would have gone to the doctor for a checkup, because CLEARLY I'm perfectly healthy… and if I started to feel otherwise, maybe I would have gone. And that's a big maybe. And if I hadn't gone to the doctor, who knows whether the dysplasia would have ever reached a more advanced stage and resulted in a devastating diagnosis, when it was too late, when I finally got my stubborn behind to the doctor. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, and although we will never know it… my baby may have saved my life.

On that note, the only thing I have to do as a result of this diagnosis is a procedure called a colposcopy when I am about five months along, where the doctor will somehow look at my cervix through a microscope, the mental images of which are just not OK. I'm having flashbacks to my seventh grade biology class, where we had tables lined up with microscopes… Ew. 

Babysitting and photo fun

For those who know Cody and me, it is safe to say that when it comes to babies, we have absolutely no clue what we are doing. Although I have a brother and a sister and a nephew who is more like a brother than a nephew, I grew up an only child, and Cody grew up the oldest of three. I remember when I was eight years old I begged my mom for a little brother or sister because my friend who lived down the street just got a new baby sister, and she was so cute, I wanted one too. Needless to say I never got my wish, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I liked my life growing up as an only child- it’s not as lonely as people who grew up with siblings will try to make you believe, I promise. And while we all have our issues, I would like to think I’m not a total screw-up as a result.

Yesterday, Cody and I spent the afternoon with our friend’s little 7-month-old, Cruz, while his parents Jason and Jessica Williams were out doing a photo shoot for their new business, Session 9 Photography. Jay and Jess are two of the best people we have ever had the privilege of calling friend, and their little boy is so adorable you could just eat him up. So it was a no-brainer to embark on our first babysitting adventure as a couple with Cruz at the helm. 

What a day! We had fun rolling around on the floor with him, keeping him entertained with his toys and various ridiculous faces, watching Finding Nemo, taking him for a ride in his stroller through their neighborhood, marveling at the sheer volume of spit-up that a single child can produce, and learning that baby wipes aren’t meant to be thrown by themselves into a Diaper Genie (definitely something I will NEVER FORGET AGAIN). Cruz is such a happy baby that even when he’s fussy he’s still a joy to be around. And I am so happy that we have this particular family alongside us through this totally unpredictable journey we find ourselves on, because their own experiences and uncertainties parallel ours in so many ways, and things have turned out more than fine for them. It’s such an encouragement to both of us.

On another note, Cody and I are going to start taking belly pictures in the very near future. I’m not showing yet, but it will be fun to document the progress over the next several months. If I were funnier and more creative and also 25 weeks further into my pregnancy, I would have thought of this first, but I digress.

We have our first photo shoot with Session 9 next weekend and we are SO EXCITED. I say first shoot because they will be doing our maternity and hospital shots as well! The only experience I have had as a “model” was at our wedding- and funny story, I was so barfy at our wedding that I spent half the time that would have been spent taking pictures in the bathroom, and now I’m in my first trimester and am feeling barfy all the time… so I’m 0 for 2 at the moment. Good news is that I haven’t actually “finished the job,” if you know what I mean; I just constantly feel on the brink of it. It will be fun to get all decked out for this shoot since these days my favorite thing to do is not wear makeup so I don’t have to make the effort to take it off at night, because that is A LOT OF EFFORT. I am anxiously awaiting my blood test results from the doctor so they can tell me that yes, I am indeed anemic, and then they will give me a magical pill that will take the edge off the simply unreal fatigue that is brought on by this building-a-human-being business, and I can finally wake up from this haze I have been living in for the past month and start to feel normal again.

And yes, I am fully aware that “normal” as I once knew it has ceased to exist. This “new normal” will be quite a ride.

About

Alley 6
I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona
before it became the $40,000 millionaire capital of the world. The
Scottsdale I remember is quaint, western, and scenic, and up until I
graduated high school the outskirts of town were not yet connected to the
town of Carefree, which is halfway to Flagstaff.

I will admit that in my early twenties, after graduating college, I
fell prey to a lifestyle that led to a lot of stupid choices along the
way that did a lot more damage than I could have known at the time. But
it was those mistakes and getting sick of the lame wannabes that
surrounded me that led to a curiosity that there is indeed something
bigger and better out there… and that something is Jesus. He grabbed
hold of me in 2003 and has never let go, never let me down, and never
ever left my side.

I met my husband when I was working as an academic advisor at Grand
Canyon University in Phoenix. He claims that he knew I would be someone
very special to him from the moment we met… well, the line worked. Haha! We got married in November 2007 at the University
Club in downtown Phoenix. It was a fairy tale wedding, except for the
fact that I couldn’t stop vomiting the entire time. Other than that, it was great. I wouldn’t change the
outcome of that day for the world- I love my husband more than words can say.

DSC_0056-1b
Our marriage has been a fantastic adventure ever since. We have
lofty goals and dreams of wild travels that may have to wait a while,
but we’re working on fulfilling our dreams in other ways in the
meantime.

We have two dogs, THOR! and Hanalei, both of which are Cavachons, or
Furry White Bolts of Chewing and Pooping Thunder. I lovingly refer to
them as my “fur-kids,” and I their “fur-mom,” but Cody isn’t having any
of that crap. They are our “dogs,” and we are “dog owners.” Bah
freaking humbug.

My husband and I weren’t planning on having a baby any time soon, but TA DA! God had other plans. My own little surprise is
the inspiration for this site, where I plan to document all the ups,
downs, hormone-induced breakdowns, and inevitable joys that are sure to
accompany my husband and I on our journey toward parenthood and beyond.
They say that taking baby steps is the best way to accomplish a
daunting, overwhelming, and totally worthwhile goal… hence the name
“Baby Steps to Mom.”

IMG_6659-2
Our daughter, Linnea Joelle, was born in the middle of the night on my husband’s 30th birthday. You can find our birth pictures with a link to her birth story here. She is simply the most amazing gift either of us has ever received. 

Alley-Delivery-107 

Linnea-Alley-66-950x633
In 2009 I started my own business called No Strings Virtual Solutions, helping creative entrepreneurs with the administrative tasks of running their companies. I work from my home office, giving me the opportunity to not only bring in some bacon but also be here to care for Linnea.  It’s a blessing to be able to contribute to our income and enjoy watching our daughter grow up. I wouldn’t want to miss a second of her life if I could help it.

I love NesQuik, hot fudge sundaes, and sewing- preferably all at the same time. I also dig thrift shopping and Chuck Taylors. And my favorite color in the whole wide world is pink.

IMG_7146-2-950x633 

Welcome to my blog.

Babysitting and photo fun

For those who know Cody and me, it is safe to say that when it comes to babies, we have absolutely no clue what we are doing. Although I have a brother and a sister and a nephew who is more like a brother than a nephew, I grew up an only child, and Cody grew up the oldest of three. I remember when I was eight years old I begged my mom for a little brother or sister because my friend who lived down the street just got a new baby sister, and she was so cute, I wanted one too. Needless to say I never got my wish, but I wouldn't change a thing. I liked my life growing up as an only child- it's not as lonely as people who grew up with siblings will try to make you believe, I promise. And while we all have our issues, I would like to think I'm not a total screw-up as a result. 

Yesterday, Cody and I spent the afternoon with our friend's little 7-month-old, Cruz, while his parents Jason and Jessica Williams were out doing a photo shoot for their new business, Session 9 Photography. Jay and Jess are two of the best people we have ever had the privilege of calling friend, and their little boy is so adorable you could just eat him up. So it was a no-brainer to embark on our first babysitting adventure as a couple with Cruz at the helm. 
What a day! We had fun rolling around on the floor with him, keeping him entertained with his toys and various ridiculous faces, watching Finding Nemo, taking him for a ride in his stroller through their neighborhood, marveling at the sheer volume of spit-up that a single child can produce, and learning that baby wipes aren't meant to be thrown by themselves into a Diaper Genie (definitely something I will NEVER FORGET AGAIN). Cruz is such a happy baby that even when he's fussy he's still a joy to be around. And I am so happy that we have this particular family alongside us through this totally unpredictable journey we find ourselves on, because their own experiences and uncertainties parallel ours in so many ways, and things have turned out more than fine for them. It's such an encouragement to both of us. 

On another note, Cody and I are going to start taking belly pictures in the very near future. I'm not showing yet, but it will be fun to document the progress over the next several months. If I were funnier and more creative and also 25 weeks further into my pregnancy, I would have thought of this first, but I digress. 

We have our first photo shoot with Session 9 next weekend and we are SO EXCITED. I say first shoot because they will be doing our maternity and hospital shots as well! The only experience I have had as a "model" was at our wedding- and funny story, I was so barfy at our wedding that I spent half the time that would have been spent taking pictures in the bathroom, and now I'm in my first trimester and am feeling barfy all the time… so I'm 0 for 2 at the moment. Good news is that I haven't actually "finished the job," if you know what I mean; I just constantly feel on the brink of it. It will be fun to get all decked out for this shoot since these days my favorite thing to do is not wear makeup so I don't have to make the effort to take it off at night, because that is A LOT OF EFFORT. I am anxiously awaiting my blood test results from the doctor so they can tell me that yes, I am indeed anemic, and then they will give me a magical pill that will take the edge off the simply unreal fatigue that is brought on by this building-a-human-being business, and I can finally wake up from this haze I have been living in for the past month and start to feel normal again. 

And yes, I am fully aware that "normal" as I once knew it has ceased to exist. This "new normal" will be quite a ride.

Grilled cheese with bacon and denial.

Finding out that I was pregnant was one of the more surreal days of my life. And that state of mind has not stopped since. I literally walk around in a daze that resembles a drunken stupor, one that should not permit me to do things like handle other people’s money or partake in civilized conversation that makes sense, two things that I am required to do at my job on a daily basis. Never mind the fact that I was given the-option-without-actually-being-given-the-option to step down from my leadership position there (lots of people would have drawn the DISCRIMINATION card without a second thought), I will be the first to admit that me in my first trimester does not a stellar employee make. While I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t review the pregnancy protection laws a little more closely before I went into those conversations, I have come to the conclusion that I am thankful that I made the decision that I made and I don’t have to think too hard about my work while I’m there, or at any other time for that matter. Come January 10, it won’t matter anymore. I’ll have a new leadership role to tackle.

But back to the initial reaction/shock/disbelief/out-of-my-mind fear. It was Tuesday, May 12 when I first knew that something wasn’t quite right. I was at work trying to decide what to eat for lunch, and NOTHING sounded good. And I mean nothing. Which is ridiculous because I LOVE the food I get to eat at work. I would think about putting any given item in my mouth and I wanted to hurl, save one thing, and one thing only: a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and potato chips on the side. My first thought was, “Why is it that I want to toss my cookies at the mere thought of eating pretty much anything right now, but the one thing I do want is CHEESE, BACON AND POTATO CHIPS?” If that isn’t a surefire sign that something is wrong, I don’t know what is. A couple of my co-workers immediately assumed that I was prego, and I just waved my hand at them and laughed it off. What a LUDICROUS IDEA. Who are these crazies, suggesting that I’m pregnant? THE GALL.

The next day, however, I was more than a little concerned. When I realized that my last period was at the end of March, that my PMS-style symptoms had been dragging on for nearly two weeks at that point, and suddenly I was enjoying wave after awesome wave of nausea, the possibility that my co-workers weren’t evil, conniving baby-pushers but perhaps had a point hit me right up side the head like a wrecking ball. I drove straight to Walgreens, where I was accosted by the cosmetics clerk after  she noticed the pregnancy test I was trying so hard to carry discreetly to the register (when you’re not trying to get pregnant, it feels strangely similar to buying tampons when you’re thirteen, or buying hemorrhoid cream at pretty much any point in life). I found myself standing there listening to her talk about her 28-year-old sister’s current pregnancy, and how kids are such a blessing, and she never had any of her own but really wanted some, and how she is in her 50s, and how everything will be wonderful if I am pregnant, and all of that was totally weird because I am 28, and my siblings are also in their 50s, and gee, I might be pregnant too. I walked out of there and went back home, where I took the test and awaited the results, pretty nonchalantly because these stupid tests always come out negative anyway, and I have to get to work soon, no need to panic. The first pink line showed up like it always does, and then seconds later, a second line. A SECOND LINE. Or is that just the fibers lining up in a perfectly straight, pinkish pattern? A fluke? There’s no way this is happening. The line is so faint anyway, maybe it’s wrong. Sure… that’s all it is. Because I had no idea what a faint line even means, and it didn’t mean a whole lot to me because I WAS 100% IN DENIAL. 

I left for work and called Cody. I didn’t really know what to tell him so I just came out with it. He tried so hard not to sound concerned but I knew him better than that and he was terrified out of his mind at the possibility that yes, we might be with child. Funny thing is, not even a week earlier, we had a whole discussion about how we wondered if we would ever be ready for kids, that, in fact, we were so NOT ready for kids that maybe we would just be OK if we didn’t have any, but we probably will someday, in the distant future, like after we were 30 and bona-fide grown-ups. Because God knows we are both on the threshold of 30, and we don’t feel any older than, say, 20. My nephew just turned 20, and it feels like I was just there too, celebrating my own 20th birthday. Then I feel so old saying that my 20s just flew by, but I digress. Point is, whether we feel ready or not, we apparently are completely ready. 

When I got to work, strange things started happening. This couple came in and grabbed a couple of menus, and sat down for a few minutes before jumping back up, practically throwing the menus at me, and apologized for having to run, but their daughter just went into labor and they had to get to the hospital. I almost wanted to say, “Let me guess, she’s 28?” but they seemed to be in a bit of a rush. Five minutes later, this lady came up and ordered some food, and started talking about how she is a doula and my boss was there and she started talking about how her friend is a doula and just delivered a baby in Chile or something. And of course I’m such a novice at this baby thing that I had no idea what a doula even was. Then my dear friend came in with her family, including her daughter, who was unplanned at the time, and one of the scariest prospects of her life, but the single best thing that has ever happened to her, and one of the most precious and sweet 8-year-olds I have ever known. So glad that seeing them was how my work shift ended that day.

I went home and took the other test in the package I bought, this time with Cody there to face reality with me. Two tests with a 99.9% accuracy rate later, the second line was loud and clear: I was indeed pregnant. We went to bed in shock that night, May 13 marking the day that changed our lives forever, and the day I entered the perma-stupor that plagues my existence in this first trimester of the life of our child.

The one thing that has kept me going through all the uncertainty that lies ahead of us is that God did this- He wants it, He orchestrated it; God has a plan and a purpose for this little life growing inside of me right now, and we fully respect that. We didn’t plan this, nor were we ready, but we know that if God is going to give us this child, He is also going to provide for it, and we must be much more ready than we thought. We find joy in the fact that we don’t know this little person at all, but this person is who he or she simply is because God is knitting this person together and knows everything that he or she is supposed to be for Him. Psalm 139 has such profound meaning to me now that I am experiencing a pregnancy for the first time. For every person on this planet there was a pregnancy, and each and every one was a miracle, and each and every person made for a purpose. As much as I float through life these days feeling like I’m in a dream, I know this much is true: I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the little life He has entrusted to us. And I don’t doubt for one single second that we will love this child more than we ever imagined possible.

Grilled cheese with bacon and denial.

Finding out that I was pregnant was one of the more surreal days of my life. And that state of mind has not stopped since. I literally walk around in a daze that resembles a drunken stupor, one that should not permit me to do things like handle other people's money or partake in civilized conversation that makes sense, two things that I am required to do at my job on a daily basis. Never mind the fact that I was given the-option-without-actually-being-given-the-option to step down from my leadership position there (lots of people would have drawn the DISCRIMINATION card without a second thought), I will be the first to admit that me in my first trimester does not a stellar employee make. While I am annoyed with myself that I didn't review the pregnancy protection laws a little more closely before I went into those conversations, I have come to the conclusion that I am thankful that I made the decision that I made and I don't have to think too hard about my work while I'm there, or at any other time for that matter. Come January 10, it won't matter anymore. I'll have a new leadership role to tackle. 

But back to the initial reaction/shock/disbelief/out-of-my-mind fear. It was Tuesday, May 12 when I first knew that something wasn't quite right. I was at work trying to decide what to eat for lunch, and NOTHING sounded good. And I mean nothing. Which is ridiculous because I LOVE the food I get to eat at work. I would think about putting any given item in my mouth and I wanted to hurl, save one thing, and one thing only: a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and potato chips on the side. My first thought was, "Why is it that I want to toss my cookies at the mere thought of eating pretty much anything right now, but the one thing I do want is CHEESE, BACON AND POTATO CHIPS?" If that isn't a surefire sign that something is wrong, I don't know what is. A couple of my co-workers immediately assumed that I was prego, and I just waved my hand at them and laughed it off. What a LUDICROUS IDEA. Who are these crazies, suggesting that I'm pregnant? THE GALL. 

The next day, however, I was more than a little concerned. When I realized that my last period was at the end of March, that my PMS-style symptoms had been dragging on for nearly two weeks at that point, and suddenly I was enjoying wave after awesome wave of nausea, the possibility that my co-workers weren't evil, conniving baby-pushers but perhaps had a point hit me right up side the head like a wrecking ball. I drove straight to Walgreens, where I was accosted by the cosmetics clerk after  she noticed the pregnancy test I was trying so hard to carry discreetly to the register (when you're not trying to get pregnant, it feels strangely similar to buying tampons when you're thirteen, or buying hemorrhoid cream at pretty much any point in life). I found myself standing there listening to her talk about her 28-year-old sister's current pregnancy, and how kids are such a blessing, and she never had any of her own but really wanted some, and how she is in her 50s, and how everything will be wonderful if I am pregnant, and all of that was totally weird because I am 28, and my siblings are also in their 50s, and gee, I might be pregnant too. I walked out of there and went back home, where I took the test and awaited the results, pretty nonchalantly because these stupid tests always come out negative anyway, and I have to get to work soon, no need to panic. The first pink line showed up like it always does, and then seconds later, a second line. A SECOND LINE. Or is that just the fibers lining up in a perfectly straight, pinkish pattern? A fluke? There's no way this is happening. The line is so faint anyway, maybe it's wrong. Sure… that's all it is. Because I had no idea what a faint line even means, and it didn't mean a whole lot to me because I WAS 100% IN DENIAL.  

I left for work and called Cody. I didn't really know what to tell him so I just came out with it. He tried so hard not to sound concerned but I knew him better than that and he was terrified out of his mind at the possibility that yes, we might be with child. Funny thing is, not even a week earlier, we had a whole discussion about how we wondered if we would ever be ready for kids, that, in fact, we were so NOT ready for kids that maybe we would just be OK if we didn't have any, but we probably will someday, in the distant future, like after we were 30 and bona-fide grown-ups. Because God knows we are both on the threshold of 30, and we don't feel any older than, say, 20. My nephew just turned 20, and it feels like I was just there too, celebrating my own 20th birthday. Then I feel so old saying that my 20s just flew by, but I digress. Point is, whether we feel ready or not, we apparently are completely ready.  

When I got to work, strange things started happening. This couple came in and grabbed a couple of menus, and sat down for a few minutes before jumping back up, practically throwing the menus at me, and apologized for having to run, but their daughter just went into labor and they had to get to the hospital. I almost wanted to say, "Let me guess, she's 28?" but they seemed to be in a bit of a rush. Five minutes later, this lady came up and ordered some food, and started talking about how she is a doula and my boss was there and she started talking about how her friend is a doula and just delivered a baby in Chile or something. And of course I'm such a novice at this baby thing that I had no idea what a doula even was. Then my dear friend came in with her family, including her daughter, who was unplanned at the time, and one of the scariest prospects of her life, but the single best thing that has ever happened to her, and one of the most precious and sweet 8-year-olds I have ever known. So glad that seeing them was how my work shift ended that day. 

I went home and took the other test in the package I bought, this time with Cody there to face reality with me. Two tests with a 99.9% accuracy rate later, the second line was loud and clear: I was indeed pregnant. We went to bed in shock that night, May 13 marking the day that changed our lives forever, and the day I entered the perma-stupor that plagues my existence in this first trimester of the life of our child. 

The one thing that has kept me going through all the uncertainty that lies ahead of us is that God did this- He wants it, He orchestrated it; God has a plan and a purpose for this little life growing inside of me right now, and we fully respect that. We didn't plan this, nor were we ready, but we know that if God is going to give us this child, He is also going to provide for it, and we must be much more ready than we thought. We find joy in the fact that we don't know this little person at all, but this person is who he or she simply is because God is knitting this person together and knows everything that he or she is supposed to be for Him. Psalm 139 has such profound meaning to me now that I am experiencing a pregnancy for the first time. For every person on this planet there was a pregnancy, and each and every one was a miracle, and each and every person made for a purpose. As much as I float through life these days feeling like I'm in a dream, I know this much is true: I can't wait to see what God has in store for the little life He has entrusted to us. And I don't doubt for one single second that we will love this child more than we ever imagined possible.

Hello world!

Hello world, indeed. I didn’t even bother changing the title of this post because it already automatically evokes thoughts of babies, and also because it’s an extra step I’m just too stinking tired to think about right now. Thank you, WordPress geeks, for taking care of the daunting task of naming this post for me. Names aside- and that is a topic for a future post- please don’t take this brief post as an indication of those that are yet to come. As a newly pregnant first-timer, after a long day of one single errand and lunch, Coffee Bean and dinner at the soon-to-be grandparents, I am absolutely done in for the night. I am also trying hard not to hurl all over my husband’s beloved laptop that he so graciously shares with me (most likely to avoid a hormone-induced fit by yours truly), and that is becoming increasingly hard for two reasons: first, I can feel my dinner at the base of my throat, and second, I am watching that newlyweds show that is on after the Bachelorette, and their current challenge involves running into a kitchen completely infested with BIG GIANT BUGS, which they have to catch with their BARE HANDS and throw in a jar outside the door. If I weren’t already barfy to begin with, that sure would seal the deal under normal circumstances. 

If you’d excuse me for now, I have to go make some room in my esophagus for cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream. Let the fun begin!