24 Weeks: Rounding Third and Headed Home!

Weeks: 24 -- I'm officially 6 months pregnant!! We are so close! I should mention that there are schools of thought that say this week is the start of the third trimester. Makes sense, really: Nine months divided by three means the second trimester is at the 12-week or 3 month mark, and the third trimester is at the 24-week or 6 month mark. While I would like to try to follow this belief, I don't want to be over-confident {I'm sure you understand my anxiety in this} and just wait until the other third trimester mark, which is at 28 weeks, especially when this is when a baby's viability rate goes up from 50-80% to 80-90%. I'd rather be safe than sorry, so four more weeks until the third trimester, it is!
Weight Gain: Checked my weight this morning and I lost another pound! Now at +4 lbs. from pre-preggo weight
This Week's Cravings: I have had a chocolate croissant 5 out of 7 days for breakfast this past week. I can't seem to kick that and my cranberry grape juice love affair {not that I'm trying to get rid of either one!}. Also, earlier this week, I was finally able to satisfy the Oreo pie crust craving -- we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert one night and I ordered an Oreo cheesecake. I was in HEAVEN! Even better, I ordered a double decaf espresso and dipped a spoonful of whipped cream into it {kinda like my own little version of vanilla affogato} and BOOM! Another constant craving was created. I have since had decaf espresso and whipped cream after lunch the next day, as part of breakfast the following day, and as dessert last night. Odds are, I'll be doing the same tonight.
New Maternity / Baby Purchases: Baby's monogram came in VERY quickly. I ordered it from A Hint of Chic Boutique on Etsy on Monday and it was at our doorstep by Thursday morning. J put it up that same morning and we are one step closer to finishing the nursery. 
Moment of the Week: My mom and brother came to visit for a couple of days this week. It's always a treat to have them around, but this time was even better because Baby B really put on a show for them, letting them feel her kicks and somersaults. Anyone who knows my relationship with my brother knows that if there is anyone in this world I am weak for, it's him -- and having him feel Camden's kicks and movement is such an awesome moment for me. I think, too, that my mom especially enjoyed the visit because she enjoyed being part of the cravings and whim-based food runs that I had. {It helps a lot that I haven't really gained too much weight during this pregnancy because it's a lot less guilt for all of us to go for, say, Oreo cheesecake and vanilla affogato.}

This Week's Pregnancy Cheat: Yes, I had some sushi this week. No, I do not regret it. SO THERE.
Things to Look Forward To: This week we have another doctor's appointment. We plan on asking the doctor two specific things: (1) What is the game plan for removing the cerclage stitch? We know that it gets removed on week 36, but we are curious as to whether it will be another surgical procedure or if it is something that can just be done in the doctor's office. (2) We just want to double check if this little weight gain is safe for pregnancy. I've read in several places that even if a person is overweight or obese, weight gain is absolutely necessary for pregnancy. I have just never heard of anyone only gaining 4 to 5 lbs. at 24 weeks. We just want to make sure we are on track.
Sleep Pattern: Sleep has been good this week. I had stayed up late one night hanging out with my mom and brother and J, but otherwise, I've avoided naps and have been sleeping a good 9 to 10 hours a night. 
Things I'm Really Missing: I want iced tea so incredibly bad. Although there are others on the list like wine and tuna sushi, iced tea seems to be at the top of the list. 

Hope

Whether in daydreams or during night's sleep, I can often close my eyes {or even just stare off into space} and remember even the smallest details of that day. The room was cold, but I felt so hot, rustling my feet under the thin sheets provided to me. I can still feel the tightening and loosening of the leg pumps velcroed to me to prevent blood clots and assist in circulation. I had been in that bed, in the same tilted position for over 18 hours. To my right, past the IV drips hooked up to my arm, I see J in his gray hoodie, jeans, and black tennis shoes alternating between watching TV and looking at the monitors strapped onto what seemed like every open bit of skin I had. The sun was visible from time to time beyond the room's partially open blinds and the thick patches of clouds outside. It still felt bleak. To my left there are several monitors, all hooked up to various cords on my chest and stomach, their screens with bouncing dots and lines showing my heartbeat and those of the girls. Inside my belly, I can feel my daughters moving, and with each kick and turn and somersault, my heart both raced in so much love for the lives inside me and dropped from the knowledge that it wouldn't be long now until those movements ceased, and I would be left alone with an empty belly and staring into what would be flat lines on the monitor screens.

The only thing worse than the dread of what was to come was the actual time when it all happened. I never knew so much heartache and love could pour out of one person and do so simultaneously as when I held my girls and when I saw J whispering his goodbyes to them. Like I said before, it was the best and worst moments of our lives, all rolled up into these quiet and somber minutes inside this cold room, on this bleak day. 

Exactly a year ago today was the moment when everything and nothing made sense. There was no past or future and I could have sworn this could be the moment that was the most definitive one of my life. This moment could summarize my purpose, my story, and my future.

But such was not so. In moments like that, it is easy to forget that there is someone else who has a plan for us. One year later, I realized that that moment was not a culmination of my life; it was merely one that would be the biggest testimony I would have when my time comes. One year later, while it remains the most cathartic moment, it most certainly is not the sole definition of who I am as a person.

If anything, it strengthened both my relationship with J and our relationship with God. And if there's anything that is the most striking evidence for our faith, it's this: Today, I have another life growing inside me and we are looking forward to her introduction to this world this summer. 

J and I discussed that more than the nursery tour post {coming soon, as soon as the nursery is done}, this post would be the best way to reveal Baby B #3's name. 
We chose Hope for many obvious reasons. Her sisters' middle names are Faith and Grace, and especially after losing them, there was nothing that gave us a better outlook than telling each other that "Hope is on the way". For some reason, despite our tragedy, we always knew that Hope was just around the corner. We keep Faith and Grace in our hearts and God will bring us Hope. This was the cornerstone of our reinforced relationship with Him and He knows that it is what has kept us going.

Camden was a choice that we came across during our search for a name. We had discussed many names, but we wanted something unique, something that could hold a candle to her sisters' names, and something that we would be equally as proud of as we are of Aubrey and Finley. I came across Camden one day and suggested it to J. It took a while for the name to really grow on him, and I gave him the time and space to think about it. It was only right before he decided and approved that I looked up the meaning of the name. Camden is of English origin and it means "from the winding valley". It really sealed the deal with us because her name really reflects our journey: From the winding valley, there is HOPE. 

To commemorate Aubrey and Finley's birthday today, we put one of the final touches to Camden's room, one that brings her, her sisters, and us, their parents, together as a whole family. {I found it online a few months after losing Aubrey and Finley. It could not be any more perfect and I hung on to it knowing that it would be in the next baby's room.}
Whenever a big catastrophe in the world happens {i.e. the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, the damage of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana}, you can almost always count on a "One Year Later" documentary or two. While incomparable to the mass destruction of those tragedies, this was our own personal catastrophe -- it rocked our world and reshaped our lives and outlooks. And now, one year later, we have slowly picked up the pieces of our shattered hearts and glued them together in preparation for Camden Hope to come.

Many people say that the culmination of their journey as humans is embodied in their children. I think it could be safe to speak for both J and me and say that Camden Hope is the culmination of our journey as a family. She is not the beginning, but is the road that leads from Faith and Grace and is the source of Hope. It really doesn't get any better than that, and I know that no matter what happens, I can close my eyes {or stare off into space} and those dark and bleak days I see will break into new and sunnier days.

23 Weeks: Milestones Every Week

Weeks: 23 . . . one more week until we're 6 months along!
Weight Gain: Still +5 lbs. from pre-baby weight
This Week's Cravings: Still stuck on croissants. Today, I actually didn't get a croissant and boy, have I been thrown off all day! Also, towards the end of last week, I dreamt one night of an Oreo cream pie. Seriously. I had a DREAM about it. I dreamt it in so much detail that I woke up salivating for it. I ignored it the whole entire next day, but the craving got the best of me, and I found myself at CVS at 11:40 p.m. buying Oreos. It wasn't necessarily just Oreos that I was craving; it was something with Oreo crust. I wanted cold and creamy and the Oreo crust. For now, Oreos and vanilla ice cream are holding me over, but I have to be honest, I don't know how much longer it will. I may actually have to go out and get or make an Oreo cream pie.
New Maternity / Baby Purchases: As expected, the pesky delivery service I mentioned in last week's post did a similar mishap with Baby B's bookshelf. This time, they didn't update their website correctly, and from what I saw {and the phone calls I made}, the bookshelf arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, but was not actually delivered until this afternoon {Monday}. For people who are very much on top of the boudoir building, you can imagine how irritating this is to us. Still, I am happy to report that it is now standing proudly in Baby's room. We also bought a side table the other day, and today, we ordered her monogram, which should arrive in a week or so. Also, last week, Baby Gap released their exclusive line designed by Diane von Furstenburg and needless to say, I was there on the first day to make sure that my daughter got her first taste of DVF.
On top of that, her Daddy couldn't help himself and bought ANOTHER pair of TOMS for her. This baby is starting off with more shoes than she has clothes! {Well, that's not entirely true. She has a lot of clothes already}
On top of all that, on Saturday, I received a text message from my dear friend Kacey of Lowdown on the Lowreys, letting me know that Toys R Us / Babies R Us was having a big sale on Pampers diapers that day. If you buy two boxes, you get $25 off the purchase {so you come out with two boxes for the price of one}. Needless to say, J and I rushed off to Babies R Us and purchased some newborn and Size 1 diapers. Of course, that trip was not without grabbing a few clothing items for her {and I swear, I wasn't the only one grabbing clothes off the racks!}.
Moment of the Week: On Monday evening, J and I were laying on the couch together watching The Voice {LOVE that show. Like her mommy, this little one seems to also be taking a big liking to Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. She goes crazy whenever Blake Shelton's songs come on my iTunes playlists}. J had his hand on my belly when Baby B let out a big KICK!! We just looked at each other and giggled! Then, as if to make sure we knew it was her kicking, a few moments later, she did BIG follow up KICK! It was the first time her Daddy felt her kick. {All this time, only I could feel her movements} Since then, we'd made it a point for J to talk to the belly closer and wait for movements every night, and sure enough, Baby never disappoints. She is a Daddy's girl already.
This Week's Pregnancy Cheat: I wasn't going to say anything, but last Monday evening {a couple of hours prior to the kick event}, J's cousin, Ashley, came over for dinner {I made pan seared chicken, broccoli, and homemade macaroni and cheese, if you were wondering...} and I had a sip of wine. I gotta say, as much as it was my favorite white wine {a Pinot Gris from Paso Robles called Two Birds and a Sheep} and it really was so delicious, I had a hard time even enjoying the sips. I was so paranoid of hurting the baby that I flushed it down with lots of water and cran-grape juice.
Things to Look Forward To: I have my Pre-Term Birth Prevention class this week, and I'm really looking forward to having my mom and brother come for a couple of days. They haven't seen the nursery in person yet {just via FaceTime}. Another event this week, although it's not necessarily a point of real excitement, is Aubrey & Finley's birthday on Thursday. Can you believe it's been a year since we had and lost our little girls? We can't. We are still trying to figure out how to commemorate that day. Do we celebrate? Are we somber? All I know is that we will be laying low that day and thinking of our missed little angels.
Sleep Pattern: I was really thrown off on Friday evening when I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. and woke up at 10:00 p.m. with really horrible heartburn and indigestion. I was awake until about 12:40 a.m. when I finally woke J up and asked him to come with me to CVS to get some Tums {which we checked about 6 times if it was pregnancy safe or not}. All weekend since, my sleep has been thrown off and I'd been sleeping in until past 10:00 a.m. everyday. Eck.
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23 weeks! Where has the time gone?! Each time I look at my What To Expect iPhone App and see that there are now less weeks to wait versus weeks that have passed, I still can't believe it. We are so close! It's hard not to be scared and anxious, and I think my next sigh of relief will be until at least 28 weeks when viability even with preterm labor goes up to 90%. Other than that, we hold our breaths and our hands will continue to be locked in prayer and in hopes that our little one will arrive safely come July.


22 Weeks and I Have Nothing To Compare It To


Weeks: 22 -- that's 5 1/2 months!
Weight Gain: now +5 lbs. from pre-baby weight
This Week's Cravings: Looks like I've nixed the chai teas and have returned to Pregnancy #1's staple: croissants and decaf coffee. Although it's decaf, I'm still limiting my intake, but when I do? Man, oh man, is it ever satisfying! My croissant intake has been the opposite. I've found myself having a whole turkey or ham and cheese croissant PLUS a half of a chocolate croissant in the mornings. My source has been my favorite donut place down the street, Wendi's Donuts, complete with ever-so-friendly Asians who always seem so happy to see another fellow slant-eye walking in. Love them. J is pretty happy with these cravings because I'm actually eating breakfast. Ever since childhood, I've never been a breakfast person, and pregnancy has not made it better. It frustrates J {he thinks I'm starving his child}, but he is oh-so-satisfied that he has won the battle of breakfast, at least for this week. 
New Maternity / Baby Purchases: If there's one thing about J that reminds me of my dad {a trait that I absolutely ADORE and find extremely essential in a man}, it's the fact that he is so handy. Apart from arranging for the painters and electrician to work on Baby B's nursery, my husband has done most everything. After dealing with a pesky delivery service fiasco this week, Baby B's crib finally arrived on Thursday, and was assembled so efficiently by Daddy B by Thursday evening. Friday evening brought Baby's mattress and we are almost complete! We have also ordered her bookshelf, which is scheduled to arrive sometime in the next week or so, I presume. {We bought the crib and bookshelf from two different stores, but it seems both stores use the same pesky delivery company. It is NOT promising.}
This Week's Pregnancy Cheat: I hope you're sitting down, because I have not cheated at all this week. Not-a-once. 
Things to Look Forward To: I received a phone call from a Kaiser nurse earlier this week {after my latest appointment with Dr. Moore}, who informed me that although everything seems to be going well, she has been assigned to be my "case worker" to keep track of me on the weeks when I don't have an appointment to see Dr. Moore. She has scheduled me to attend a preterm birth prevention class on the 20th. Although I'm reassured that the pregnancy this time is going smoothly thus far, I am still anxious to attend this class. At this point, I don't know if I can really be blamed if I am, at least to some degree, a little neurotic, a little over-careful, a little over-informed, or {d} all of the above. Part of my general psyche has always told me that the more information I'm armed with, the more secure I could potentially be.
Tired / Sick / Sleepy?: This week, I've felt my energy level up, and I have not been so tired. I've been going to bed at about 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 midnight and have been happily waking up between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Due to this, not only have I felt my energy level more easily managed, but I feel like my sleep pattern has been properly calibrated. {I understand that with pregnancy, there is no such thing as a properly calibrated sleep pattern, but I still feel pretty good about not "wasting" my day waking up late.}
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We did our 4D ultrasound earlier this week and got a few great pictures of Baby B. While there was a part of us that wished we had done it later on to get better quality pictures -- obviously, the more developed baby is, the better your pictures would be. Still, we were glad to have done it now because we both needed the reassurance that Baby B is, in fact, a girl. Sure enough, we both breathed sighs of relief when the radiologist showed us the "three lines" that they look for to determine a female gender. 
Here she is with her hand to her mouth. Someone is an avid thumbsucker. {Yikes. Her mommy was an avid thumbsucker until the age of NINE!}
Here she is again with her hand to her face. My mom, adorably enough, was in deep concern as it looks like she has a hole on her head. Not so. That's the shadow of the ultrasound bulb. You can sigh in relief too.
Baby in what we now call her "boxer" position. She looks like she's either boxing or praying.
We are also happy to report that her heart rate was strong and she was uncooperative as ever, stubborn like her parents. Our sweet little cupcake has quite the personality!
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Just so everyone knows, I am waiting for all the nursery furniture and decor to come in and be installed before I put up a nursery tour post; however, here's another teaser pic.

That's all for now!!! 


P.S.
By the way, J gave me the green light -- we will reveal Baby B's name when we post the nursery tour!

21 Weeks: I Don't Know What To Do At This Point


Weeks: 21
Weight Gain: still +4 lbs. from pre-baby weight
This Week's Cravings: Seems that my palate has been progressing. Not only have I now digressed to soy iced chai from Starbucks {I'm no longer stuck on just Coffee Bean}, I've also moved from only Costco cheese pizza to Costco pepperoni pizza. I know the pepperoni could be counted as a deli meat, so I'm only having it in moderation. I've also noticed that she moves a LOT with grape juice, so it's been fun to drink that and feel her throw an in-utero party.
New Maternity / Baby Purchases: This week has been a whirlwind, not necessarily with purchases, but with setting up the nursery. I think that we were really anticipating the gender reveal date, and as soon as that was done, we started preparing more actively. Last week, J started clearing out the room which would be the nursery and last Friday, he hired professional painters to paint the room. Once the paint dried, he and our friend Will moved the changing table and the rocking chair in. Yesterday, we hired an electrician to install the chandelier, which J had originally ordered custom made for Aubrey & Finley. I don't think I can quite relay the emotions we felt when we finally saw the chandelier installed. J also installed the curtains yesterday. Tomorrow {Wednesday], we are expecting the crib to be delivered, and I'm expecting that we will be purchasing the mattress shortly. Other than that and finding a bookcase and a lamp, we essentially would have the nursery done. All we need are the little touches {her monogram, picture frames, etc.} after that. Outside of these preparations, we are stopping until we get a 4D ultrasound, or at least until our next checkup. More on this below. All I know is that if this is the nesting stage, it's very clear that I am not alone in it. 
Yes, there will be a post about this later on, but here is a preview picture.
This Week's Pregnancy Cheat: On Saturday night, we met up with J's uncle, aunt, and cousins who were visiting from NorCal at one of our favorite restaurants, The Crab Pot in Long Beach. J's cousin, Jared, ordered oysters on the halfshell, and sitting next to him, what was I supposed to do?!?! I had one. ;-)
Things to Look Forward To: Especially with what happened with the previous pregnancy, I now have OB appointments about every other week. I really look forward to these appointments, as I feel really relieved every time we hear her heartbeat and am reassured that everything is moving along smoothly. So tomorrow, we have another checkup. Our goal for tomorrow is to not only check on her progress, but to double check for . . . ahem . . . certain body parts {more on this later}.
Tired / Sick / Sleepy?: I've given up on fighting the sleepiness. This is largely because I realized the other day that my fear of my nighttime sleep being thrown off {which I absolutely abhor} is now null and void. On Friday, I napped for a whopping three {yes, THREE!} hours. I woke up fearing that I'd be up all night. To my surprise, I went to bed by 11:30 p.m. Additionally, on Sunday, I napped at 5:00 p.m. {very late on my napping clock} for an hour and a half. With that length of a nap at that late of an hour, I expected myself to not go to bed until about 2:00 a.m. I was out by midnight.
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So . . . about the body part check. Remember the story on the gender reveal post of how we found out Baby B's gender? She had her legs crossed and the radiologist ruled out the baby being a boy because she didn't see testicles. Baby B was so adamant about keeping her legs crossed that day {hopefully, a good sign for the future!}. Tomorrow, we will be asking Dr. Moore if we can just double check that, um, area just to ensure that our little girl is, in fact, a girl. If Baby B still refuses to cooperate, we will be scheduling our 4D ultrasound a little earlier than planned, just so we can be reassured that the color schemes we have picked for both her wardrobe and her room are the correct ones. If, for example, our little she turns out to be a HE, we obviously will be taking down our pink chandelier, pink curtains, linens, and all other items pink and saving them for the next Baby B. We will need to order a more masculine light fixture and install a more gender appropriate color for our curtains. Thank goodness we remain safe with gray paint and white furniture so far. 
Outside of these preparations, I have to admit I feel a little lost and anxious. My last pregnancy only went to 20 weeks before I went through preterm labor and lost the girls. Up until this point, I had something to compare my experience to. Although it is exciting to experience everything new, I guess the slight feeling of fear and anxiety comes in every so often. After all, at this point the last time, the pregnancy didn't even exist for us anymore. Both J and I try not to let those feelings come in and take too much out of our happiness, but sometimes it really is inevitable. I have often wondered, even during the last pregnancy, if this is what it's really like to be a parent: to constantly worry about your child. Right now, I just want to see her take her first breath, and from that point, I know I will be in constant worry for her to get to the next. I'm starting to learn that part of parenting is worrying that your child will make it alright to the next milestone -- if she will make it alright to her birth, then her first birthday, her third, fifth, and so on. 
Our biggest saving grace has really been our faith. When these fears come, I find myself praying and asking God for safety, health, and protection from harm. When I was little, my mom used to tell me everytime I got scared to say Jesus's name out loud three times and even the sound of His name scares the devil. This has stuck with me into adulthood and I do it each time fear strikes {even if I'm just walking through the hallway in the dark}, and somehow, it goes away. Call it a psychological thing or what you will, but thus far in my life, His name has saved me in more ways than I can ever say. 
J reminds me all the time that we are in the best position we could ever be, especially considering what we have been through in the past year. We lost our daughters, but now we are looking forward to another. How much more blessed can we get?!?! At this point, how can we ever even question the existence and greatness of God? 
The answer is simple: We can't, and for this, we are even more thankful.