Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baby Number Two: 24 Weeks

Oh hi!

I always had this idea that being a SAHM and blogging full time would be THE.LIFE., but it turns out that toddlers are go, go, go 24/7. And when they're not going, neither am I. I consider Kensington's scheduled nap time, a nap time for myself too. The perks of growing a baby while raising a toddler. For the record though, my doctor has me on a modified bed rest. So there's that... I'm basically granted a free nap each day, without judgement from anyone.

A few housekeeping things first.

These days, e-mail is essentially nonexistent to me. My apologies. There's this weird thing where I barely have enough time to online shop and blog, and let's just say replying to emails is lower on the list than those two, so I just don't do it anymore. One of these days.

That being said, though, I do read every single comment! Your comments, encouragements, and questions are always something I look forward to. If you're the type that likes a reply, I suggest commenting on here still if you feel so inclined, because I love those, but also visiting my Instagram account and leaving some love on there. I check Insta often (@MrsSouthernMama)!

Now onto today's blog post, because that's why we're all here.

We are totally thanking Jesus for getting us to 24 weeks with Baby #2. Here are a few stats and pictures. Enjoy!

How far along: 24 weeks & 2 days.

Baby Size: Two pounds.

Gender: Your guess is as good as mine. We're waiting until baby's debut in December. My gut is telling me that we're having a girl though. I would bet money. Daddy thinks it's a boy. I would ask Kensie Grace what she thinks, but I'm pretty sure her response will simply be, "baby." That's her favorite word.

Movement: Yep, I've been feeling baby for QUITE some time. I hear with second (and so forth) pregnancies, you can feel things much quicker, and that was definitely the case for me.

Best moment this week: We had an ultrasound yesterday and it was so great seeing our little Mr. or Miss. again. Best moment from that appointment was hearing that my amniotic fluid is at a normal range. When I was pregnant with Kensington, I did struggle a little bit with my eating habits to ensure I didn't develop polyhydramnios - which luckily, I never did. I always had a "normal, but high" level wth her. A few weeks ago, at Baby #2's anatomy scan, they said I did officially have polyhydramnios, but that it has already improved into the normal range with my improved eating as of yesterday. 

Looking forward to: December, baby's birth month! "Technically", baby is due at the very beginning of January, but since we'll likely have a scheduled c-section, they're going to do it at 39 weeks. Plus, um, hello... tax deduction for 2016 if this kid comes before January 1.

What I miss: Not feeling so bloated. Oh gracious, I forgot how hard that part of pregnancy is. But I'm not complaining, because pregnancy is MY JAM.

Feeling/Symptoms: Gaining more weight with this pregnancy than I had planned or expected, but I'm not allowed to exercise, so I guess that's to be expected. I'm feeling like a ball of lard. So far, (praise God) no swollen ankles! I got swollen pretty early in my pregnancy with Kens.

Nursery: So whoops, we're not having a nursery for baby #2. Logic: we co-sleep and love having baby close by, so they will be with us for at least the 1st year. Sometime down the line, we'll worry about a big kid room. In a perfect world, all my kids would sleep in the same room with us for the first few years. Welcome to the thought process of a mom who spent years trying to get pregnant. Not taking it for granted one bit.

Wedding rings on or off? Still on, but! Confession: after I realized I didn't lose baby weight from Kensington as quickly as I had wanted, I went ahead and had my rings sized up. 

Daddy-isms: Daddy felt baby #2 kick pretty early on and talks about how crazy his life is going to be if we have a girl, instead of his guess of a boy. It's so fun to envision how our life will look with two kids come December.

Prayer: Jesus, my healer, thank you so much for this sweet baby. Thank you for this pregnancy and every day that you allow me to grow this little miracle further. Please remind me daily that you are close to me when I'm fearful or nervous about the future. I pray for a full term pregnancy and a healthy delivery for both baby #2 and I. Lord, I pray that you would shine through this new life for years and years to come. Jesus, I pray that this child will change the world in big ways in your name. Amen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thoughts on C-Sections

This right here.
I'll explain.

A perfect stranger said something to me well over a month ago, and it's been sitting in my brain drawer filed under, "annoying." (Side note: I've always envisioned that inside my brain, I have little file drawers and sometimes when I'm trying to recall something, I have to mentally look through each drawer just to find what I'm thinking of. It's actually kind of weird, I know). The gal meant no harm, and in fact probably had the most encouraging of intentions. But I couldn't help but feel annoyed by her comment - albeit, I could just be hormonal. I'm sure you're wondering what she said:

"God wouldn't do that to you."

We were talking about our kids (what mom's on the playground do) and she asked when I was due with #2. As uncomplicated of a question as this is, I always have a lengthy explanation for "December" because it's all dependent on 1) if we have a c-section, 2) if I go into labor on my own before the scheduled c/s, and 3) how big the baby is. Oh yea. That last one. That's where this whole conversation got wonky.

Us moms like to hear birth stories (at least I do). I love hearing how has a unique entrance into the world. Call me silly, but it's one of my favorite things (next to looking at wedding pictures - again... one of my favorite things!). So anyways, I gave her my way-too-lengthy of an answer of when baby #2 is supposed to be coming into the world and we started talking about our birth stories.

She proceeded to ask why I had a c-section and my answer didn't sit well with her. My answer is actually very straight forward: "I pushed for two hours until the doctor realized that my baby was too big for my pelvic bone." And for the record, I believed my doctor 100%. I don't think he was leading me on, or pressuring me into surgery. I knew good & well that Kensington was bound to be a larger baby (I can thank my 9lb 15oz born husband) so the possibility that she was too big was not out of reach. After explaining this to the mom on the playground (so cliché lolz), without hesitation she said that God wouldn't do that to me. As in, apparently God wouldn't make a baby too big for my pelvic bone - according to her.

Quite frankly, God knew much sooner before I did how much I would come to appreciate my scar. SEE: I did not appreciate the recovery from the c-section but I sincerely and honestly am so proud of my scar. God designed me and I'm pretty sure he didn't "accidentally" give me a baby that was too big for my pelvic bone. God knew exactly what he was doing on June 5, 2015 when I was in labor.

Back when I planned the details of becoming a mother - when I'd have children and how they'd come into this world, the plan that I created in my head ended up looking a lot different than my actual reality. But what I didn't know during my "planning" phase as 23 years old is that God actually had much more in store for me. More than I could've wished for, prayed for, or even imagined. I would absolutely not want anything different for my life - not WHEN I'd have kids, nor HOW they'd come into this world.

Which is the whole reason I have such a peace over baby #2's eventual delivery. I literally have no plan. It'll either be c-section or VBAC and I am 100% content with how God decides this baby will be born.

The mom on the playground knew nothing of my story; how we got pregnant twice now, and my faith in Jesus. I totally don't hold the comment against her, but I do think she was naive to say what she did. I forgot to mention that she herself had a c-section too, but I didn't bother to analyze why she had one. The whole point of this blog post (I think) is to say that there's nothing wrong with having a c-section, and you may in fact come to realize the goodness that can come from seeing the very visible scar which your baby was born out of.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Indefinite Change

Sometimes I feel misunderstood. Or maybe it's just that I am really different from some people, but they assume that I'm just like them. I'm not really sure. Either way, during year one of motherhood, I heard two common phrases that quite frankly began to annoy me. These two phrases came from the moms who may be just a hair different than I am (but maybe they thought that I would relate to these phrases).

-"Motherhood can be so lonely..."
-"I'm sure you enjoy your alone time at work"

I know this is going to be uncomfortable for some people to read, but I can NOT relate to either of these things. (Honestly, don't even get me started on the first point).

You see, I was extremely (!!!) blessed to earn a little income AND also stay home full time with the baby for the first year. For those who don't know, I quit my full time job when Kensington was born and started working evenings part time (Monday thru Thursday from 5-10pm). I even opted out of my maternity leave because I didn't want to pass up the job opportunity! Me working part time was our compromise. I saw myself doing that for quite a while, because it provided me the balance that I wanted: my own contribution to the family income + raising our kid. 

Now, a year later, the time has come for us to close one chapter of that book and take on a new adventure. I am positively thrilled to say that tomorrow is my last day of working part time, and I will be staying home full time with Kensington. What a strange concept to not work AT ALL for an indefinite amount of time. One year? Five years? I have no idea. But I feel like I'm just following in the footsteps that God has outlined, plus Ross & I have talked EXTENSIVELY about me not working - so this is not a new subject in the Skinner household.

Me, being a legit, not-working-an-ounce, person allows a few things: 1) it lets me excel where I feel most confident and useful (at least in this season of my life), 2) it will hopefully allow for a more active pregnancy #2 since during my pregnancy with Kensie I had a 8-5 desk job which lead to a lot of swelling issues, and 3) it will give us more quality family time. 

As my work schedule was (see above), I really only got to spend time with Ross late at night and on weekends. I am so thrilled that we're going to have more family time. Plus, we can join another small group together. When I took my part time job, we had to leave the small group at church that we were apart of and I ended up joining a separate morning time small group.

The reason I mentioned those two phrases at the beginning of this post is because I literally feel the opposite about them than some other people may - which is fine - and it completely relates to this subject about being a stay-at-home-mom. Here's why I feel the way I do: 1) By having a child, I actually never feel alone. I know that what I do (mom-ing) matters and I take great pride and joy in doing it daily. I feel like I have a real purpose, and that includes staying home with her to teach her and experience all of the first's. 2) I HATE being away from my family. Even on the stressful, hard, exhausting days. I simply don't enjoy my alone time; I want to be with Kensie Grace and Ross. (Disclaimer: That's just how I am. That's how God programmed Allison Skinner. If you can't really relate to where I'm coming from, there's nothing wrong with you - or me - we're just wired differently!)

There won't be a huge change in mine and Kensington's daily routine since I already stay home with her full time during the day, but I am confident that having my evenings spent at home (all together, just the four of us - hi baby #2) will allow our fam the balance that we want.

I am so thankful for God's provision and giving me the opportunity to spend even more time with my little girl and my hubby. I think it's really special that God has such a unique plan for each and every family (there's no right or wrong; good or bad plan) and this blog post is simply to share how God has orchestrated little details in our lives. He cares about the details in each person's life and this change in our situation is just another reflection of that. (Seriously from the day Kens was born, God has really shown his presence in our family life. For example: he gave Ross a pretty nice promotion the same week Kensington was born! That's not just a coincidence.)

I feel so much excitement in knowing that I get to spend more time with my family, but I'm also super sad. For one: I get attached to people very easily. I really really like being around my colleagues. Saying, "good-bye" is awkwardly hard for me. I cried earlier just thinking about my departure (oh and I also cried earlier reading an Instagram post, so I think it's pretty apparent that I'm an emotional basket case). Second: the uncertainty of me not bringing any income to the family is a strange feeling too.

I am confident this is the right decision for us but I've always struggled with change.

To end this post, I am just going to say that being a stay-at-home-mom is not always easy. I feel like I'm having to get creative constantly to entertain the baby and still get stuff done around the house. BUT, it has been the biggest blessing that comes along with having a child, and I find that it's full of so much joy and happiness. I really love spending each waking moment with her. One of my favorite (unfortunately unproductive) things to do is to watch Kensie Grace nap. I mean...
p.s. homegirl loves fleece blankies.
p.p.s. seeing these pictures made me hungry to eat her thighs. BRB.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Baby #2 Was Made

I have gotten several (to put it mildly) text messages and Facebook messages of people inquiring as to if we used IVF to get pregnant this time, and ... well ... spoiler alert: God created baby #2.

I'm sure you want more details, you inquisitive people, so read on because we are ridiculously proud to share our story! I may just cry because I am so excited about this journey!

Backstory: When Kensington was born, I had an internal struggle that I never told anyone about. Essentially, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby, but I also really, really... really... wanted my period back immediately. (Hear me out). Your period CAN come back quickly even if you breastfeed, but it's likely to be delayed. My thought process was this: I want my period back more than I want to breastfeed because there's nothing wrong with formula feeding my baby. 

I was producing good, quality milk for a couple weeks, but eventually the diuretic I was on (to decrease the my swelling) made my production decrease, and I knew that was my "sign" to go with formula. I literally have had no shame in formula feeding, unlike what I read on blogs/Facebook groups about other moms feeling guilty. No guilt here! My baby is extremely healthy (a serious chunker) and smart as all get out.

Long story short: my period did come back almost immediately (happy dance) and we went on with life. I would not say that we were officially trying to conceive. Not to mention, it's highly recommended to have 18 months between deliveries, especially with a c-section. That being said, we also were not preventing a potential pregnancy from happening. I was proudly on zero birth control.

Fast forward eight months and my period was late. I took a few pregnancy tests even though I didn't feel pregnant. I just wanted to rule it out. They were negative. I was not discouraged, even though I kept thinking how nice it would be to conceive naturally. 

I decided to check in with my RE (reproductive endocrinologist) to see if he could figure out why my period was late, yet I had negative tests. Of course, the day of my appointment, February 24, my period came. Go figure. (I just need to point out that God orchestrated all of these things so that I would go to the doctor on that specific day. How cool!)

But, hey, since we were in the presence of the man who helped us get pregnant the first time, we inquired about how much a FET (frozen embryo transfer) would cost. As Ross likes to say, "He is a good sales man." We were not intending to start this process until a couple months later (hi, God!!!), but the timing felt right. A few hours later, I started hormones (that's how determined we were once we made the decision). We knew we wanted to have our kids close in age, God willing, and this was the right step for us.

Because I'm an open book, this is what the price looks like for a FET. Mind you, it's dramatically cheaper than doing IVF because the embryos have already been formed.
  • FET cost (includes appointments, ultrasounds, dethawing embryos, transferring embryos, etc): $2,200
  • Initial medications (birth control, estrace, lupron, progesterone): $564.72
  • Refill of medications; $574.32 to date; however we're expected to need more before weening off the meds. We'll probably have to spend at least $300 more.
  • TOTAL: $3,339.04 (to date) + future refills = A lot of money
Honestly, the only reason that I'm bothering to write those numbers out is because (if I'm being honest), there's a little "earthly" piece of me that gets mad that I cannot just do the FUN and FREE thing that happens between a husband and a wife to conceive a baby. Instead, we drag ourselves into debt before we even toy around with the idea of getting pregnant. *BUT* I know that I was meant for much more than simplicity. God is using me, and I am thankful for that!

I also wanted to put the numbers out there to say: when you want something bad enough, you find a way to make it work. Ross and I are by no means loaded. We have a lot of student debt because we both have our master's degrees and I used financial aid for 99.9% of it. But if there's one thing in this world that is worth millions of dollars, it's becoming a mama. 

Also, I put those numbers out there because I want my girlfriends struggling with fertility to know that although I'm on the "other side", I still feel the hurt and pain from it like you do and I KNOW how it feels. I don't want to be spending money that could be better suited elsewhere to do what should come simply. But ultimately, I know that God is the only healer for the saddness, the financial stress, and the hurt. The good news is that there will be a day when you no longer hurt over this season and on top of that, if "fertility struggles" (the phrase I use instead of infertility) is your path, God will provide a way for you. God provided us money to have these babies. We owe Him everything!

Numbers aside, we knew we were doing this thing and we were crazy excited. We decided to keep it very confidential (only because we wanted to experience the joy that every "normal" couple gets when announcing a pregnancy). I told three girlfriends from church and 1 fellow IVF friend. Here's a little look at our timeline:
  • February 24: Began birth control (this is required of any patient that ever does IVF, just for your information)
  • March 21: Began injections
  • April 19: Transfer date
  • April 24: BFP (big fat positive on 5 days past our 5 day transfer)
  • May 3: Beta test confirmed pregnancy
  • May 24: First ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat (yes, when you're a fertility patient at my hospital, you get to experience the joys of waiting 3 flipping weeks for an ultrasound after they've confirmed your pregnancy. It's torture!)
When we announced our pregnancy on May 24, we wanted to put everything aside (due date, IVF or natural, etc) just to give God the glory that He deserves. He is the very reason we're pregnant. YES, we used IVF but how would IVF even be possible without God leading the doctors?
Oh hi, beautiful 8 week sono :)

Being on the "other side" for a second time (Kensie Grace + baby #2), I think to myself, "it doesn't even bother me that we used IVF to get pregnant." When I go anywhere with my baby and preggo self, people aren't wondering, "how do you think she got pregnant?" Absolutely not. In fact, people probably assume we've been "busy" since my daughter isn't even a year old yet, and I'm preggers. I am so joyful and nothing can take that away. We are just rejoicing to be pregnant again, all thanks to God!

Good golly, y'all! Hearing the baby's heartbeat was music to my ears. I was crying, of course! The day before the ultrasound, I really let the devil get me down. I was so nervous. BUT, the power of prayer is real. I asked my parents and a handful of people to pray, and I felt an ease. I also learned this new technique that all preggos can use when they worry about their baby: instead of thinking about what could go wrong, just start thanking God for what he's given you and you will LITERALLY not have any time to conjure up scary thoughts that the devil is known for implanting. Try it, because it really does work!

And now for the boat load of pictures that I've been hiding for months! Enjoy :) Oh and because I'm sure you're all wondering, as I write this, I am 8 weeks, 1 day which would put my due date in January 2017, however my doctor is scheduling my c-section for December 28, 2016. I would not be surprised if baby wanted to make their way a day or two early. When I was preg with Kens, I was progressing beautifully at 39 weeks, but of course I was induced at 39w3d since I started to develop preeclampsia. I am praying for another full term baby!

Praise God For Baby #2!

I announced yesterday on my Insta that we are expecting baby number 2, but figured I should make it blog-official and announce on here too. I can't wait to share more details soon!
Photo credit: Sarah Schiffman

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Job In Another Life

Closing on our house looks promising for May 31st as planned. We have movers and the security company scheduled, so hopefully we won't be pushing closing back. That being said, we are going to be sticklers about the walk through. This is our second time to build a home, so we know we need to inspect it thoroughly before signing the dotted lines. Question: where's your favorite online stores to buy furniture/decor from? In another life, I would be an Interior Decorator, but unfortunately that is not a knack that I own.
I am wishing I was attending Radiant Conference in person at our church, but alas, our weekend is jam packed with events so I couldn't buy a ticket. I am likely going to purchase an online viewing ticket and tune in when I can though. Hashtag winning.

"The baby" as I like to call Kensington cut her second tooth a few nights ago (5/8/16) and she is taking it like a pro. I can't actually believe how much joy I get from mamahood. I'm so serious.
More house talk: other than the playroom being one of my favorite rooms in the new house, I'm also obsessed with our laundry room. It's not only spacious, but one of my favorite chores to do is laundry... so I envision spending a lot of time in there. Actually this is a good time to point out that I truly LOVE being a Homemaker. It's absolutely the career for me. I get so much happiness from keeping up with the house. And yes, I treat it like my job. But going back to the laundry room talk, I am Pinteresting my little heart away with ideas and I'm pretty sure this is ideal. I need to find a way to copy this!
This meme is extremely inappropriate and I wish it had more acceptable language, but I still laughed at it.

There are two types of people in this world: those who do like pickles on their chicken sandwiches, and those who do not. I lean towards the give-me-all-the-pickles side. The Chick Fil A just down the road from us has been closed for renos for the past month-ish, so I haven't had my abundant fix lately. However, they reopen tomorrow and I'm sure you can guess how excited I am.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kensington Grace: Eleven Months

Weight: 19lb, 10oz.

Height: 28 inches.

Hair: Light brown.

Eyes: Brown.

Clothes: 18-24 month.

Diapers: Size 4.

Sleeping: Sleeps all.night.long in the Pack N Play in our bedroom. When we move into our house (beginning of June), we are putting her in her own bedroom. BUT! We bought a twin bed so that I could sleep in there a few nights a week until I'm comfortable leaving her side. (Hashtag is that even possible? Hashtag obsessed mom).

Eating: Eats anything her heart desires but she's holding tight to Butternut Squash being her most favie food ever. Oddly: she doesn't love a lot of texture, so we're only slowly converting her to textured foods (i.e. cherrios, yogurt drops). 

Kensie's favorite things: Now that she has figured out how to use her walker, you cannot stop the girl. She wants to be upright constantly! 

Mommy's favorite things: When she's around strangers, she is SUPER cuddly with me. Also, right when she wakes up from a nap, she wants to be held and she lays her head on my chest. It is the most darling thing ever. I love it so much.

Daddy's favorite things: Mimicking her baby talk. Tickling her.

Mommy's nicknames for Kensie: Baby, The Baby, Kens, Little One.

Daddy's nicknames for Kensie: Princess.

New with Kensie: She waves on demand when you ask her to tell someone 'bye'. It's precious. She says 'bye' in the most southern way. She hasn't quire figured out that 'hi' and 'bye' are the same motion of waving though! 

And now, for some Kensington Spam: