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Simple Wedding

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FC: mommy and me

3: Here We Goooooo! Starting this is not easy for me and quite frankly I don't want to. However, I feel strongly led to write about this life changing event. Scott and I are expecting our first child. Even as I write I tear up. My emotions are everywhere! Let's start at week four just for kicks and giggles. Years ago I learned to be very in tune to my body and right as I realized that I might be ummm...pregnant(still not 100% comfortable with the word "pregnant") I went into a slight state of denial for about 5 days. These were the main symptoms that tipped me off. -Crocodile tears would come to my eyes while watching a commercial, yelling at my dear sweet husband came without remorse, and a slight imbalance came over my body. Something just wasn't right. Here's some background about Scott and me. My childhood dreams did not consist of growing up and having babies. I never thought that way...ask my mom. I told her to never expect a grandchild from me and if it did happen they would be from a different ethnicity and country. Scott didn't even think he would get married...HA! On our second date there was a child looking over a booth at us in a restaurant. We both rolled our eyes in annoyance. Right then I knew Scott was the man for me. How romantic. When I grabbed the stick that determined our future I tried to be super nonchalant about it. Even Scott wasn't aware that I was ready to urinate on a stick to rid myself of these "symptoms" that I made up in my head. Initially I was prepared to just walk away and wait the three minutes then my life would go back to normal. In desperate curiosity I waited only 10 seconds and before I had time to blink it came up POSITIVE. There was absolutely no time to process anything. I screamed "Scott!!!! I'm pregnant!!!!" An instant later he was in the bathroom grasping for some words. All I really saw was his smile in the midst of my freak out. I was hyperventilating and he was trying to rejoice. My life flashed before my eyes, my future, my body, our relationship. This was all going to change forever. I knew God had this plan for us and for the first time in my life I was scared to death of His plan. After I began to breath again Scott took my breath away again. He said, "Right after you told me you were pregnant I loved you even more. It's hard to explain but my love grew for you." It was solidified that he was going to be the best partner, parent,and support in this crazy journey of bringing another life into our world. Even after 22 years of knowing that God's plan is better than my own I lacked faith and trust. It sucked! I couldn't believe that something like this could rock my world in such a negative way. So many rejoice and wait years for news like this and I was ready to jump ship. I felt guilty for that but couldn't help the way I felt. A deep sadness took over. It may be a combination of hormones and whatever else. All I knew was that I couldn't pray hard enough for peace of mind. I had a good friend of mine pray for me. It was humbling to ask for help, especially in this area because so many people desire to be parents and we have so many friend that are parents. It made me feel so selfish. I truly wanted to have a better state of mind and not take this for granted. She prayed for me only desiring God's will. As she prayed I still had thoughts of negativity, sadness, and I was still grasping for control. Nearing the end of the prayer I felt no change. About one sentence before the prayer ended I felt relaxation. It was all up and down my body. Suddenly, I felt okay. Not amazing, not full of joy but okay. That was surely enough for me!!! I didn't need a revelation or a charismatic jolt of Holy Spirit. God gave me enough and I didn't feel jipped. The next day I woke up to this super strange dream. Our child looked similar to Nemo and was swimming in and out of plants in my uterus. What? That's weird. Somehow it gave me comfort as we drove to our ultrasound. The ultrasound tech immediately picked up a heartbeat and put our baby up on the monitor. It was surreal and surprising to say the least. Our lives forever changed by that "thump thump thump thump." I cried, this time, tears of joy. Scott gulped back his tears and his face lit up while holding my hand. The tech handed us a picture of a blob, I mean a baby, and we walked out grasping hands tighter than ever. This was just the beginning...

5: First Tri Don't let the title of this post deceive you. We were not "trying" to get knocked up. Without going into too much detail, if we were "trying" it would've taken two years. That's how long we had been leaving it up to God. I'm thankful for those two years because we had great vacations, a missions trip to Taiwan, and we opened our dream salon and spa. The timing is perfect but neither Scott nor I would ever say we were ready for a baby. We were absolutely content with our lives. Contentment oozed more into routine comfort. Easy, busy, controlled, and our biggest concern was where we were going to vacation next. About week six is when I fell ill and tired. Nausea had set in morning, noon, and night. As someone who claims to be healthy, I suddenly felt like I had been running a marathon on a full stomach through the night. I woke up tired and immediately nauseous. Eating was a task. Drinking water disgusted me. I worked through the nausea one client at a time. Some of them instinctively questioned me. I'm guessing it was my bloated, green face that gave it away. Dramatically, I told Scott that I was sure I was going to die. I told him that he must take care of me! That involved taking off my shoes, providing me bread to gnaw on, and taking on all household chores until further notice. God bless this man and his generosity! This undesirable insanity gave me some comfort because it was a sign that baby was still growing. God gave me some grace and it eased up around week 10. It hit me here and there but I no longer felt like vomiting on my clients and that was so relieving. What if that really happened? Oh my gosh, that would be horrible! If you are a client of mine you should be thanking God that I didn't. Week 10 I jumped back into working out and I felt like a million bucks! I was eating a ton of protein and staying off the junk food. I suggest that to anyone who has the yucks in the first tri. Nausea was replaced with hormonal outbursts of weeping for no dang reason. This was annoying and didn't make being pregnant any more desirable. As I started to tell people I would get this response, "Congratulations!!!! Are you guys excited?" Hmmm...that response haunted me day and night. I couldn't come up with an answer that deemed itself worthy without explaining my whole life story and what led up to this surprise party in my uterus. I'm a horrible liar and answering yes made my eyes dart side to side. I dare not answer no. That would leave me the worst human procreator ever! To some I gave an in depth explaination as to why I hesitated to jump on the happy baby ship. To others I mildly averted the question or answered yes with a contorted face and my perfected "uncomfortable laugh". The verb excite "is to arouse or stir up emotions or feelings." Excitement, for most, I think translates to "elated." Elated means "very happy or proud, jubilant; high in spirits." Sorry for the english lesson but this is how I process things. Either way, I felt like I couldn't put this life changing event into one single word. Still, I had moments of uncertainity and more often than not I wondered how I could control this situation. That's probably what bothered me most. NO CONTROL!?!? What does that look like? In my current situation, it looks like a fetus. An adorable, naked fetus that is composed of a little Scott, a little me, and a heartbeat created by God. Slowly, I am excepting this beautiful plan that God has for us and it's truly, uncontrollably beautiful. Beauty is "the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations, a meaningful design or pattern, or something else." Ask me if I'm excited...My answer is "it's a beautiful."

6: Keep the change? Our romance began in the good ol' North Grand Mall in Ames, Ia. I was managing a hair salon and Scott managed a shoe store. With both of us working 50+ hours per week and only two store away from each other we were bound to meet. Scott would walk by daily and I would look at him with curiosity. It wasn't a love at first site thing, it was more like "why hasn't this guy talked to me?" I didn't think that way because I thought I was amazing. I thought that way because I was a mall "lifer" and I knew everyone from the store managers to the janitors. He didn't know my name so he nicknamed me "Regis", as in the salon that I managed. Couldn't he come up with a better name than that? Seriously. Finally, Scott strutted into my salon. He asked for a haircut and I purposely put him on my books because I wanted to know what this boy was all about. It may have had something to do with his piercing blue eyes and sharp jaw line. He sat down in my chair and showed me a picture of Mark from the punk band Blink182. How adorable. A man after my own heart. (Smile and sigh) He had no clue that my Blink182 obsession dated back to junior high. I rocked that haircut with ease. After the mall discount the total for the cut came up to something like $23.96. Scott carried $24 and some change in his baggy shorts pocket. Keep the change? As he left the salon I thought, "unbelievable, this guy just gave me a 40 cent tip!" Less than impressive...hmmmph. A week went by and a few hello's were exchanged. About 8pm Scott walks by Regis, gave me a confident stare and stopped dead in front of me. "Uhh...I should probably get your number so we can hang out sometime." Really? That's how you are asking me out? I loved it. No fake charm, no messing around. This kid got right to the point and really didn't even ask a question, it was more of a demand. So, with a gun pointed at me, I handed over my digits. Neither one of us really knew what happened. Scott tells me he felt incredibly stupid and I felt like I had the Jedi mind trick played on me. Two weeks went by before Scott had the nerve to dial me up. Even then, it came in the form of a text. "Come down to Journey's." As I walked down the mall I heard cheers coming from within some stores. Obviously, Scott had worked up some nerve to ask me out and told everyone about it. Here we go again...Scott-"Uhh...do you want to hang out sometime?" I reply equally unenthusiastically, "Sure, when?" This was so awkward. "Tonight?" "Sure. What do you want to do?" "Do you want to see a movie?" "Sure. What movie?" "Do you want to see Amityville Horror?" I had already seen this movie but I love scary movies and Ryan Reynolds, it was a win win for me. There it was, the date was set up in the least romantic way possible and there were hearts floating out of my eyes. The start of this date was ridiculous. First of all, I still held a grudge for the lame tip he gave me 3 weeks prior and now he was taking me to a dollar movie in the mall that we basically lived at. I anxiously waited outside and he waited inside. We both thought we were being stood up. Finally, he let me know via text message that he had been waiting inside for a while. I thought, "good, make him wait for me." He paid a hefty $1 for my movie ticket. My senses were heightened and I took out my checklist of necessary physical features that I desired and wanted to avoid. I could smell cologne...check, I looked at his shoes for style...check, then I scanned for weird deformities on his hands. I observed that is pinky fingers were abnormally small compared to the rest of his fingers. I made a note of that. Other than that, his breath didn't smell and he decently styled the haircut I gave him. As the movie got rolling I suddenly discovered something about Scott that I thought would've been a deal breaker. It was how he breathed. This was not a specific thing on my list that I looked for but I definitely made note of it. At that point I was unaware that he had a deviated septum (a nose issue). He breathed through his nose loudly, like really loud. I wondered if it would ever stop! It continued the whole movie and didn't ease up. I put that on the "comments" part of my checklist. "Breathes loudly"

7: After the movie I gave him a chance to redeem himself and take me to a fancy restaurant...Perkins. We talked about bands, where we grew up, and shared some stories. Typical date stuff but something was different with him. He had no charm and no big red flags stood out to me as instant deal breakers. At that point in my life I had some major baggage and it took little to no effort to dispose of a man that made me the least bit uneasy. If I didn't see a future after two dates it was "sorry Charley." Scott kept a steady head about him and gave me space but also made a strong point of how much he enjoyed spending time with me. He stayed cool, collected, and came to my rescue in quite a few damsel in distress situations. For instance, he drove all the way to Omaha to pick me up from the airport when a friend forgot me. He got me cold medicine and watched me sport all the side affects from the meds. I was unaware that Scott already told everyone that I was the girl of his dreams and he was ready for the pursuit. He loved me and I knew it. It wasn't long before we talked about spending our lives together. This is a brief overview of our courtship but the point is when you know, you know. God placed this man in my path and we both knew that our journey was meant to be fused together. Exactly one year after we met that fated day in Regis Salon we married. I'm not perfect and he is not perfect but we are perfect for each other. I say "Scott is my entertainment for life." Scott still says that I'm the girl of his dreams. It seems only natural that we carry this love onto another generation.

8: Pull yourself together! There are some of you who will relate to this when I identify myself as an undercover perfectionist. I hide most of those tendencies and learned how years ago. I am not a people pleaser perfectionist, I am a Krista pleaser perfectionist. It's not that I am super hard on others or have grand expectations of my surroundings, it's just me. When elementary school began I was inside at recess perfecting my times tables and division. I wasn't naturally gifted at these things but I worked hard to do well. When the report card came home I hesitated to hand my A's and B's to mom and dad. They always praised my grades but inside I thought I could do better. Why didn't I try harder? My parents basically told me I was good at everything but it never gave me a big head because I didn't necessarily believe it. Later in life I learned to tell myself I didn't care about things that I didn't naturally excel at. Every few months would come a big breakdown. I didn't know how to truly hand these expectations and burdens over to the Lord. When the breakdown would come it was really just a huge build up of all these disappointments in myself that had snowballed and I couldn't carry it anymore. Through my twenties God has been able to unravel my tightly knitted protective layers I put on. Little by little He has shown me things in GOOD and PERFECT timing. All this has helped me identify certain behavior a sooner so I can ask him to take my burdens instead of insisting that I can control my life. I cling to this verse: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Being pregnant has yet shown me another tightly knitted layer I wear around me. This layer of perfectionism is called my body image. I have learned how to enjoy running, I have learned the art of healthy eating, I have learned how to get myself into swimsuit season but I have not learned how except change in my body. Every winter I give myself "grace" to gain a few seasonal pounds to enjoy some comfort food. Now that spring and summer are approaching I examine every inch of myself. I'm ready for the rebound! I'm ready to step into my shorts and let the light hit my legs! The reality is I will not fit into my shorts this summer, I will not look the same as I have since 9th grade. My husband says I must have blinders on because I look great. When someone is comfortable with something for so long it is hard, I mean HARD to let go. I never realized how my body image has controlled me for so long. I always thought because I had a good handle on my self-esteem that it wasn't an issue. Boy, was I wrong and I am wide awake to these issues. Dealing with them is a daily battle at this point. People tell me it's okay, I am suppose to be gaining weight because I am pregnant. Tell me all you want but it's not soaking in. Some women go into pregnancy with arms wide open and ready for this amazing change to happen in their body. They realize they are the vessel God has chosen to carry their baby in. I am resisting this change for some odd reason. I have a sensible head about me, I really do. I understand that this is a blessing and in moments I feel blessed and proud to carry our baby inside of me. Most of the time though, all I see is that my pride and joy (my body image) is slowly expanding and morphing right before my eyes. It is a slap in the face to come to grips that all these years I have thought what a healthy person I am and then come to realize I carried some self-righteous pride with that. This is quite honestly one of the most humbling times in my life. Women are the worst at picking out their flaws. I talk to women everyday about taking care of themselves and seeing themselves for who they really are. I see beautiful women sit in my chair and I think "why don't you really see how wonderful and beautiful you are?" Now, here I am, haunted by my negative thoughts. This is truly the work of the devil. It's just like him to sit here and tell beautiful women lies lies lies! This is a bunch of crap and I am not going to stand for it! I believe God made us in his image.

9: This is a song that touches my soul You are bigger than the battle has You Fail Us Not: Failure doesn’t phase You, worry doesn’t win, Loss doesn’t leave You afraid to start again, Our sin doesn’t shock You, Our shame doesn’t shame You at all Mistakes do not move You, terror doesn’t tame, Death doesn’t doom You to life in the grave, Our suffering doesn’t scare You, Our secrets won’t surprise You at all There is nothing above You, There is nothing beyond You, There is nothing that You can’t do There is no one beside You, There is no one that’s like You, There is nothing that You can’t do Whatever will come, we’ll rise above, You fail us not, You fail us not, No matter the war, our hope is secure, You fail us not, You fail us not, You fail us not Hatred doesn’t hide You, evil doesn’t ail, Despair can’t disguise You and tell You that You’ve failed, Our doubt doesn’t daunt You, Our darkness won’t defeat You at all You’re bigger than the battle, You are bigger than the battle You are bigger than the battle has ever been | In the words Jesus, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Matthew 16:23 Our world is polluted with sexuality and looking a certain way but God has created us to be different. Individuals sharing their gifts and talents and love. Love, Love, Love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Loving others and loving yourself is what will shine a light in this dim world. Writing this today has given me freedom I didn't expect, tears I didn't know I needed to shed, and layers of prideful disappointment scraped away. I pray that the women who read this believe that God is bigger than the battle.

12: The weed of fear I recently went to a women's conference in St. Louis. It was a fantastic experience. I left with so much joy and excitement. I also left realizing women live with a lot of fear. The fear speaks to us in subtle tones, quietly at first. It usually starts with something that happened that caused us pain. The pain went deep and started to root itself without permission. Pain and fear act like weeds in a pure organic garden. It was not suppose to be there but it is. So, the weeds get rooted and spread through our nourishment and life source. Someone might say spray Round Up on it and call it good. Just annihilate it, it's a quick fix. You spray something toxic on top of something toxic. It's like using alcohol or drugs to "forget" your troubles. It's like trying to throw up a pound of junk food to make up for your binging. It's like eating because you feel fat. It's like shopping to avoid your horrific home life, eventually you have to take those bags back to your house. It's a vicious cycle and after so many years you don't even know where it began. You spray the weeds with Round up and kill all the good in the garden over time. It's all contaminated now. It's no longer organic, pure, fresh, and it's probably close to dead. The pain that started so long ago is topped with a few more pains. Then, just for kicks, let's add a few more pains. The next step we take to get rid of weeds is to build a wall. It's small wall at first. That should stop the weeds from creeping right? The wall is built, it feels good, it feels safe. *Big sigh of relief...ahhh... The weeds are now creeping vines that scale the wall. You resolve to make the wall bigger. You cross your arms and take a look at that towering wall. It's super safe now right? Wrong. Now you can't get around to the garden to water it, take care of it and watch it grow. You are missing out! Why is this not working out? Why are my attempts to kill these weeds not working? God, why?!?!!!! The weeds come in the form of thorns now and it hurts the garden everywhere. At this point our weeds have taken over the fresh, young garden that we had so many hopes for. Our Round Up bottle is empty and has made our garden lose it's vibrancy. Our walls have closed us off from seeing the beauty of our garden and there's certainly no way for others to see in. After all the attempts to make it better we are now full of questions. It's time to let someone take a look inside. You can't let just anyone in to fix this problem. This requires an expert. We have to break down the walls to let someone see this mess of a garden. Possible fear driven thoughts: "What if the expert thinks it's unrepairable? What if the expert judges my poor attempts to fix the garden? What if the expert doesn't think I can handle all the responsibility? What if the expert laughs at me? I feel so stupid! I'm so afraid of being a failure. I've tried so many times and nothing seems to work. Someone told me that it will always be like this. This is my problem, I will fix it. It's too late for my garden to grow. There's no turning back. I can't forgive myself. I can't forgive the person who planted the weeds in my garden." The fears are feeding the thorny weeds. The fear is harmful and injurious just like the weeds to our garden. The weeds have taken over and the roots are deep. You must let the expert gardener come in. He comes in and promises to take care of your garden. He doesn't promise the weeds won't come back but he promises that He will tend to the garden regularly. There were some bad seeds that rooted a long time ago. The expert makes you understand what your responsibility is in all this. He tells you to not fear because he is with you on this journey. He says, "even if you don't see me I am still watching over the garden." He tells you that when the weeds start coming in you need to pull them up by the root immediately. He tells you to start planting good seeds and water them daily. He tells you to call him if you need anything at all. He promises the work will be worth it. He gives you a plan and hope.

13: After all his instruction you can either choose to trust him or trust your own path. By trusting in someone like him you are taking the road less traveled. You have to know that there will be weeds that come in from time to time. (There will be pain) You won't always remember to water and you may even forget a few weeds but he will come in and take care of those. He also says that this is a life long process and journey. The expert promises that you can always ask him questions without fear. After following his instruction you will begin to see the vibrancy come back to the garden. It will begin to radiate and thrive even when there are a few thorns still left to pull. There's nothing that says we are entitled to a pain free life but there is something that says there is hope. Everyone is going through something and it's worth sharing. After only writing four blogs I have had a plethora of messages from women telling me that I'm not alone in my pregnancy journey. How empowering to know that we are not alone here? We need to stop asking "why me" and start asking "who else?" Even if we are in the midst of a struggle we should to ask how can I be apart of a solution and who's with me? *With fists up in the air-"WHO'S WITH ME!?!?" Come on ladies! I'm going to quote a good friend of mine and say, "we don't have time to be fake." Who's going to talk about the weeds in their garden with me? Who's going to share their story with another person who just needs to hear "I'm not okay either." Who's going to kick down their walls with me? Who's going help me pull up these painful roots? You don't have to be healed to help, you don't have to be whole to share, your book doesn't have to be complete for others to read. WE ARE NOT ALONE! WE ARE ALL LIVING THIS LIFE AND THERE IS FREEDOM TO BE HAD! Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Isaiah 43:18-19 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them

14: Craving, aching, and whining Today was a tough day. Some days I feel fantastic and think that I can handle being prego for another 4 1/2 months or so. Today, not so much. I really should stop working 10 hours a day. I should really trade in my cute heels for something with cushion and velcro straps. I really should not have had Wendy's chicken nuggets. Seriously, don't tell anyone that I had a craving for honey mustard and chicken nuggets. Those poor hormone injected chickens that are stuck in a cage with 20 others until the day they are slaughtered. I told my mom and she about had an asthma attack right then. She is aware of my long time protest against fast food and tonight it got the best of me. I downed five golden nuggets dipped in honey mustard like it was a hot dog eating contest. I'm laying here now wondering if they are going to ever digest. The more I think about it, the more I feel them working back up my throat as a way of my body protesting all that I have stood against for so many years. I have been so proud to say I haven't had an unusual cravings. What's next? HUH?!? A bloody steak and pork chops? After all the women I talk to about pregnancy and their cravings I really thought it surely CAN'T be uncontrollable. It's all true though! I am sorry that I doubted you who ate a Big Mac everyday or eggs with m&m's (you know who you are). Every night I come home and crash like a meteorite onto my couch. Scott has taken the role of caretaker because I act like I am about 97 years old. I ache all over and lift my legs up on three pillows. Whine, whine, whine... During the day I feel our baby move around and I think to myself, "how could you not know you were pregnant?" I don't understand that show "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant." I mean a small part of me believes that some women are fairly symptom free but I would feel like a lunatic telling someone all my symptoms if I truly didn't think I was pregnant. Anyways...back to the movement thing. Some days I look in the mirror and have a mini panic attack because I forget I have this growing belly. Then comes the baby moving and grooving. Initially I think, "that's not a normal gas bubble." I have to remind myself it's the heirloom sized tomato baby trying to get comfortable in my womb. I do love that feeling though. Come to think of it, if I am uncomfortable then what must baby in the womb think? That can't be very comfortable AT ALL! Poor kid. That's why I believe we should have pouches like kangaroos instead of wombs. Just a personal thought though, I'm sure most would not agree. I know that God created this process for our bodies but I will always be filled with wonder and amazement at it all. It's another beautiful mystery of our God. I'm glad I can partake even if it means strange cravings, achy bones, and uncontrollable emotions. It's going to be worth it.

17: Scott Wrage...husband, berry farmer, salon owner, and soon to be dad People tell Scott and I that we will be great parents and that is so great. It's very encouraging. I obviously watch my husband's behavior in a different way now that I'm pregnant and I have no doubt or fear in his ability to be a father. He's a fantastic caretaker of humans and animals. Even the fish that I have neglected to acknowledge for two years get entertained by Scott. He pets them! I can thank his "animal whispering" mom for that. It's genetics that they can speak any animal language. Scott can clean up any animal feces and urine without a second thought. Vomit doesn't phase him and he can bare-hand a dried dog turd. NO KIDDING...I've seen it. That may be too much information for some of you but I'm proving a point here. He's no wuss. He was the youngest kid so he didn't spend much time with babies but he has a great babysitting story. He and his sister were babysitting some kids ages 8 months on up. They were playing tag with the older kids but it was suddenly put to a halt when Scott tripped over the baby on the floor and cut open it's forehead with a toenail. Can you imagine growing up with a scar on your forehead and having to tell everyone it was because you got sliced open by your baby sitter's toenail? GROSS! He told me a few weeks ago that his biggest fear so far was swaddling. HAHAHA!! Feel free to die laughing. I'm thinking about pushing a human through my crotch and he is worried about wrapping it up in a blanket. I'm not going to burst his bubble though. He works better under pressure. On a more serious note about Scott...kids love him. They run to him, remember his name, climb on him, smile at him, and reach for him. He's a natural. I look at him with curiosity wondering how that happens. I have never felt that natural with kids. I remember how awesome he was teaching English to first graders in Taiwan. I had a mental breakdown and he connected with them so easily. I love watching his face when we go to our doctors appointments. At our second appointment the doctor forgot to listen for the heartbeat but Scott reminded her promptly. At the third appointment he was just as eager to hear the thump thump thump. In a week and a half we have another ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. We are pumped! I will be watching his reaction because that's half the fun of it. He's a man that's not afraid to laugh, love, get his hands in poop, work hard, baby talk animals, wash the dishes, worship, volunteer his time even if he doesn't have any, admit his faults, share his heart, watch HGTV, get eight hours of tattoo work at once, sing to our dogs, be a nerd on the computer, embarrass himself to entertain others, and he never misses a chance to tell me he loves me. I can't wait to see him in action as a dad!

18: Doors This weekend Scott and I took most of our staff to Chicago. It's our third year of doing this and each year is a great experience. This year I went to a business forum with a co-worker while the other girls attended classes on long hair design and new trends. The business forum that I attended was refreshing. I am the type of person that needs to soak it all in and process it a few times over. It was a five hour class that left me with quite a bit to digest. One of the speakers said that you can only have five major roles in your life. It made total sense but as I wrote down what I consider the most important roles I realized that these will soon be rearranged. I looked at my list, counted on my fingers, thought about it some more and yep, those were my roles. Wife, Salon Owner, Stylist, Fitness/health lover, and Educator. I feel God has blessed me with a deep love of taking responsibility for these roles. My roles are something I am proud to have. The learning process and growth over the years has deepened my faith and my relationships. Since Scott and I took a leap of faith and opened our salon in 2008 we have been blessed beyond belief. We started out with two stylists and now we are a beautiful family of 16. Our staff is gifted and full of personality. It's not a coincidence that they were hired here though. It's purely because they were meant to be here. Even the employee that stole from us was suppose to be there at that moment. It was a learning experience for us and made us more aware of how to take care of the security in our business. Our staff has brought our dreams into reality and we have been able to make their dreams a reality as well. What a tremendous blessing!

19: "A door opened and I went through it." -Temple Grandin | Now, I am reflecting on my roles that I have taken so seriously since I was 20. I never would've predicted that a role would be "mother." I know that it's going to be amazing but I think it would be unnatural if I didn't say that a part of me will mourn a role that needs to be minimized. Some of you might say that this is not necessary but I have not taken my roles lightly. I am serious and dedicated to being a wife, salon owner, stylist, health/fitness lover and educator. These have been a strong source of blessing, strength, and growth. I know that I need to make some adjustments but I have great peace about it all. My role as wife will remain. The role of "mother" will soon be next up on the list. I am praying about these other roles and what they will look like in the future. I don't think I want to try to predict it in detail but I know that it will all work out. Studio7 is thriving and our staff is hard working and responsible. My clients are understanding and supportive of my life changing. Personal fitness and health is what makes my body function and my mind refresh but it may look different in the future. Educating will hopefully still be a part of my life somewhere but we will just see where. Life is suppose to change. It is suppose to move forward and once it's moved on you don't look back with regrets. You live and learn and keep on the journey. People always tell Scott and I that it was a daring move to open our own business but I don't know any other way of living. I am told that once our baby is born that I will not remember any other way of living. God opens doors and calls us to come inside. It's another door to walk through and great things await.

20: what's growing in my womb? Tomorrow we will hopefully get to see what the genitalia looks like on our baby. I am soooo pumped! Scott has a feeling it's a boy. I really don't have a feeling about it. All I know is that I will be excited no matter what. Our plan is to have the ultrasound tech write it down and put it in an envelope so that way we can open it somewhere special to us. I will make an announcement right away so wait for the news on Facebook or via call/text if I have your number. It's so weird how everything happens in weekly increments. Now, at 20 weeks, my bladder is getting a beating from my growing womb. Every liquid goes straight through me no matter how much or how little I drink. I was walking for quite some time the other day and about three blocks from home I suddenly felt as if I had been holding my pee in for days! I was convinced that I was going to have an accident. If I hadn't been walking in a neighborhood then I would've "dropped trou" (dropped my trousers) and popped a squat (squatted down) right then and there. I couldn't even do a potty dance! I picked up the pace and chanted "don't pee, don't pee, don't pee, only three blocks left, two blocks left, four houses away..." I got to the steps of my porch, fumbled with the door knob (because that's always what happens when you really have to go to the bathroom), waddled through my living room towards the bathroom, then, sweet victory...three seconds of trickling pee. I might as well have peed my pants three blocks ago! Nobody would've even noticed. How disappointing yet so relieving. So, this is my life now. Everywhere I go I have to scout out the closest ladies room.

21: it's not about me Fun things that people may say while you are pregnant. "Your face is filling out" "Have you been eating a lot?" "You'll love the second trimester but then it gets awful after that" "Being pregnant is so great because you can eat whatever you want" -anonymous man "Now, you try to stay real thin, don't gain too much weight" "Don't run, it causes miscarriage" "You will always carry that extra 5-10lbs after pregnancy" "Next thing you know you will be old and have wrinkles, time flies after kids" Not said to me personally, "wow, you're only 24 weeks? you are huge!" "wow! you are really showing already" "when you have grand kids, it's the best because you can send them back to their parents"-I have a few years ahead of me before grand kids, right? Feel free to add to this list :) It's all with good intentions that these things are said but now I am more aware of what I say to people about personal things such as pregnancy. There are no cookie cutter pregnancies and that's what I love and hate about the process. If women all had the same experience it could be comforting to know that everyone gets sick or everyone gains this much weight. God made us all so different. Our bodies and minds react different to the change of growing a human inside of us. I may never hit the stage of "loving" pregnancy but I'm okay with that. I am also okay with women that love being pregnant. Pregnancy is a unique, individual experience that whether you like it, love it, or despise it, should be cherished because it's really not about you. As much as I try to make it about me, I know, it's about an awesome gift of a child. This is about remembering the beginning of a life. Some day my child is going to ask me about when she was a baby in my tummy and in that moment I won't want to remember the negatives, I will remember seeing her in our first ultrasound and feeling her first little movements and remember how excited her dad was when I screamed "I'm pregnant!" I look forward to that day.

22: Baby girl you've been on my mind Last Monday we stepped into the ultrasound room. Our tech's name was Jan and she remembered when I was there last October before I was pregnant. Right before I found out I was pregant I was sent to get an ultrasound to checked for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Jan educated me more in that 30 minutes then one year of sex ed class. She has a very nurturing way about her. She told me that I didn't have PCOS and everything looked good. Needless to say, she was very excited to see us in here this time because she was right, everything was good. She poured the warm goo onto my ever growing baby belly and turned the monitor on. There was our baby, surprisingly way more human looking than 13 | weeks prior. Jan showed us every inch of our baby. We got to watch it move and groove for almost 40 minutes. It had five phalanges on each hand and foot, a well developing heart, proper brain structure, lips, eyes, a nose, and all that we could ever dream of. We wanted Jan to keep the sex of the baby a secret at that moment but write it down and put it in an envelope. At the end of the ultrasound we were both sad to say goodbye. Scott and I headed over to Perkins to open up the envelope. We asked our server to document our moment. His eyes lit up and he immediately high fived us then grabbed the camera to take pictures. Together, we tore open the envelope and looked at the picture. The picture just showed the baby's profile but then we grabbed the paper the results were written on and it said GIRL. I was so over joyed knowing that our "baby" was a "she-baby" now. Our joy was contagious as we shared with our family and friends. The rest of the day I missed watching our baby. Later that night Scott said, "I want to hold our baby" and made a sad face. We watched the four second video of her moving around over a dozen times that night. We fell asleep with smiles on our faces. The next day we felt a little further away from her just because we had so much to think about that pertained to our busy lives. Then, I felt a little thump in my stomach. I identified it as familiar baby movement and looked down. I could see my stomach bopping around for the first time. Scott put his hand where the bopping was and smiled. We knew it was her saying good morning and to not forget our joy. She's in there for now but one day soon I will get to see her pretty face every morning.

23: Vacation for three Scott and I went on vacation for about 16 days. We drove to our destinations putting 4,000 miles on my car. I had my three page checklist all checked and my trip itinerary in hand. The plan was to take two days to get to Montana but instead we drove 22 hours straight through. We arrived a whole day early un-showered and poorly fed. Our friends welcomed us with open arms. I was at home in the mountains and with my best friend, that's all I needed. Some family threw me an impromptu baby shower which was so fun. It was then that it hit me...I'm having a baby! I held up these little clothes that I would eventually put on my child and I had a mix of emotions. Excitement, denial, and confusion. It was the next step in the reality of what is to come. Sure, this growing belly is suppose to give a good clue as to what's to come but it was hard not imagine trying to put these adorable clothes on our baby. I can imagine Scott and I staring at her little face after she makes her way into this world. The image of that is so foreign to me that it would only last a few seconds then be whooshed away by the present tense. The rest of our vacation was a whirlwind of driving to our next destination. My itinerary was loosely followed. We detoured to Las Vegas so I could soak up some sun and that I did. Scott hates being in the sun for too long so I laid out by the pool in my bikini all by myself. It was heaven. Laying there I was reminded of the summer before when I was in my bikini with a flat stomach and now I had this bump of baby in my view. I couldn't help but take a picture of it. It's fascinating! After Vegas we detoured into Zion National Park. It was beyond beautiful. We hiked 4 miles up and around canyons and switchbacks. It was refreshing and fed my soul. I thanked God for who He is and how perfect His design is. The next stop, Moab, was on my itinerary. We rented a jeep and went 4x ing through some crazy fun terrain. The more adventures we had, the more we wished our daughter was able to see all the fun we were having. It suddenly felt like we were missing someone. My intentions for this vacation was to have a last chance getaway with just the two of us but with each day that passed we "missed" our daughter even more. It was like when you have a group outing but someone wasn't able to make it and you think, "so and so" would love this! Each time we took a picture of the scenery, I thought, "I can't wait to show her where we went and what we did." At our last stop we stayed with some friends in Colorado. It made us even more anxious to meet our baby because they have a 1 1/2 year old boy. True, he doesn't allow for as much freedom as they use to have but life was full of something else. Life with a child gave them a whole new purpose with a new found joy. I can feel our hearts are being prepared for that. I recommend a "baby moon" to anyone having a baby whether it be your 1st, or 4th! It was an amazing time of fun and reflection for us. We laughed a ton with our loved ones, and just ourselves. We hummed country songs to each other on our long drive in the night and made up ridiculous stories about how we invented string cheese and rap music. I hope we never give that up. If you can't remember the last time you laughed out loud really hard then you need a vacation. Don't wait until you are too tired or out of money. Go explore God's world, seek out beauty, see the upside of things, and if there's no one to make you laugh, make yourself laugh.

24: The crying game Here are a few of the ridiculous things that have made me cry while pregnant, not just a few tears but a full on sob-fest of snot and tears... Garlic Pizza... Scott has been a dear through this whole hormone circus called pregnancy. One morning he was cleaning out the fridge while I was getting ready. I asked him to make me a sandwich for work. I walked out of the bedroom on a very "gaggy" morning and immediately was doing everything I could to hold my stomach down. I searched for the culprit furiously. Spotted...2 day old garlic pizza on the counter! He took it out of the fridge to throw away but he didn't do it soon enough. The strong smell overwhelmed my senses and sent me to the front door for fresh air. I gagged, cried, and yelled all at the same time, "Why did you take that out of the fridge? It freaking reeks!" While gasping for fresh air I suddenly noticed he had not yet started the car. Through the gagging I managed to yell, "why haven't you started the car?!?!" He probably thought I was possessed by a demon by how quickly my personality changed. He replied with forceful confusion in his voice, "I was making your sandwich!" My anger turned into remorse for using such a disrespectful tone with Scott. It was my first acknowledgement of how unstable I was as a newly pregnant woman. I tried not to cry my fresh makeup off while I explained my behavior like this, "I know that you think I'm crazy but I think I am 100 times crazier than you could ever imagine." The look of confusion never left his face as he walked outside to start the car. I picked my neatly packed lunch up off the kitchen counter and cried all the way to work. Duty calls! Want to do something?... This particular Saturday night I had great intentions of doing something fun. I was resting on the couch and Scott was trying to get me pumped up for a night of excitement. He had all sorts of ideas for us and people we could hang out with. As much as my mind was there, my body screamed something different. It screamed, "if you take these sweatpants off of my swollen calves there will be hell to pay!" When my body and mind don't sink up I lose all stability. The tears started to well up, the big lump in my throat arrived and I was doing everything I could to fight what was coming. Madness took over. Our Saturday night was not full of fun but full of salty, makeup removing, snot provoking alligator tears. Scott listened to me cry off and on for two hours. He handed me a large amount of tissues and carefully sat on the other couch afraid that my sadness may turn into abusive anger because I blamed him for knocking me up. The next morning I acted like nothing happened and had a fresh smile on my face. Meanwhile, he was still walking on egg shells scared to look me in the eye. I hope the emotional drama and abuse he has endured throughout this pregnancy is like what women say about giving birth, "after it's all over you forget about the pain and would do it again."

25: That's my pregnancy food... I haven't used the term "baby wants..." yet but this occasion was pretty close. We went on a two hour hike and I felt fantastic. My mind and body were alive and working together. I was so pumped up and our next stop was some much deserved food. Suddenly I couldn't wait. I grabbed a palm full of dried edamame to hold me over and Scott put his hand out for me to share with him. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! I snapped, "this is my pregnancy food!" He snapped back, "just give me a few!" Quickly I said in a mean baby voice "No, this is my my mine, I'm soooo hun...so hungr...so hun" I couldn't finish my sentence. My age went from 27 years old to 2 years old. We've all seen a toddler snatch a toy from another toddler. I became the toyless toddler that stuck out my quivering lower lip and let out a wail of a cry while pointing to the guilty kid next to me. In that moment I couldn't believe how he could do a selfish thing such as ask for me to share our food. I wanted to sit in the car and cry until he was really sorry for the pain he caused me. My tears prompted Scott to tuck away any selfish desire to tell me what a lunatic I was. Gently, he coaxed me out of the the car and into the restaurant for some nourishment. The drama was laughable within five minutes. I hope these stories have given you something to laugh about. I know I laugh about them after all is said and done. Scott will laugh about them someday after he goes to counseling for post traumatic stress disorder.

26: Boxes I started my career in cosmetology at age 17. I graduated a year early from high school because I knew exactly what my goals were in life. I wanted to be a cosmetologist, a beauty operator, beautician, hair stylist, hair technician, hair lady, cosmetologist, whatever you want to call it. I'm never offended by people giving me an outdated title or asking if I went to school for hair as I'm doing their hair. It seems like a completely foreign world to some people but for me it was a future. The summer before I went to cosmo school I worked at a hospital cafeteria. A doctor came through and he asked me what college I decided to go to. I proudly told him I was going to school for cosmetology in the fall. He didn't hesitate for a single second before he replied, "so you aren't going to real college?" He was a jerk. Did it phase my decision? Absolutely not. I felt a calling so strong that no one could detour my future plans. Immediately out of school I got a job. I made mistakes here and there that seemed devastating at the time. Once, after I botched a color on a guy he told my boss that he couldn't believe she would hire someone like me and asked if I even had my license. I was tempted to drop everything right there and head for a new goal in life. It's great bosses like the one I had back then that inspire others to live through their mistakes and learn. She had grace for me and it made me a better stylist. Ten years into my career and I still don't know all the tricks of the trade. I learn from my clients and my peers on a daily basis. I think about my daughter's future a lot. I also think about my past. My mom and dad encouraged me to live out my dreams because those were dreams that God gave me and they said He would pave the way. It's a shame when I see parents force their own expectations of what their child's image should look like or what career path they choose in life. There have been too many times that I've seen parents make their children go to fours years of college because it's the proper thing to do. After all that time and investment their now, adult child, is still unhappy because they thought they would for sure find something to make them happy in what I like to call America's favorite pastime, college. I'm not dissing those who have gone to "real" college by any means. I am saying it's not a necessary life path like we are made to believe it is by the time we hit kindergarten. We go from happy, free children to serious students put in boxes by a system that leaves little room for children to grow into adults that love themselves just as they are. Scott has attended college three times trying to find a proper title that he thought would define his future. He has worked in retail management, been in a band, been a phlebotomist, made websites, built a business that supports my dreams, currently a berry farmer, and possibly a stay at home dad in the future! We have found joy in all his job opportunities and when one ended another one came forth. He has taught me that a degree won't necessarily bring you joy and a salary doesn't mean stability. Our gifts and talents are easily stifled by putting ourselves in a box of titles. We live in America, land of the free! So why are so many people living for the weekend? Work shouldn't define us it should inspire us. This one's dedicated to my parents who never put me in a box. Cheers to my husband who rocks a bunch of tattoos while talking with Ames professionals. Cheers to those who have tried to put a label on me because you have pushed me to see who I really am and my faith is deeper because of that.

28: I'm in a glass case of emotion Our baby girl is getting bigger. She finds it nice and cozy up in my rib area. I'm only 5 foot tall so her womb suite is more like a cot in a janitor's closet. Movements from her are no longer petite little kicks, they are large human stretches and rolls. I feel for her, I really do but I have gone 27 years without another human living inside of me so to say the least, this does not feel natural. I know that it would be so much sweeter if I was all sappy about this but coming from a realist, if you ask me how I am these days I will tell you exactly how I am. Lately, I'm back to the beginning where people assume that I am excited. Must be that "prego glow" that I have all around me. Yes, I am absolutely thrilled to meet this itty bitty human Scott and I already love to pieces. When I answer the question "how much longer do you have?" I always hear the following, "that's exciting right?" My mind doesn't just jump to this adorable tiny human on the outside of me, my thoughts take me step by step and month by month straight to delivery. It stops right there with the thought of dilating, contractions, breathing, epidural or no epidural, who should be there, and how long will it take, will I be calm, will I freak out, will I video tape some of it, will Scott be freaked out? I know I can't prepare for everything but it doesn't stop me from thinking about it. My position right now on childbirth is...drum roll please...I'm nervous. Yup, that's about it. It's a whole other world that many of my friends have experienced in different ways but the end result is all the same. I have been researching natural childbirth. I don't idolize women that have done natural childbirth and my opinion of woman that have used drugs during childbirth doesn't make me think any less of them. Either way, we, moms, will somehow get a human living inside of us to the outside world. The options to see my baby are really vast as well as somewhat unpredictable. We (myself, Scott, and baby) have endured 7 1/2 months of a lot of physical and mental distress equally mixed with overwhelming joy and growth. That's just apart of life. So, back to the beginning..."exciting right?" I have a really hard time giving a simple response to a question that I feel is fully loaded with emotions and thoughts. I would love to just give you a sweet smile, cock my head to the side, give my tummy a rub, and say simply "yes" but as of right now, this is not the case. I think way to much about things to skip all the laboring part of life and jump right to the good stuff. If I say that I am excited about all this it's probably because I chose the epidural :)

29: breast pumps and such I'm a minimalist at heart. I hate clutter. I love simple spaces with a streamline look. It's overwhelming all the crap you can get your kid. Really, I could care less about about toys, it's about the car seat, the diapers, the BREAST PUMP, eww, the breast pump. I realize my baby can't go everywhere with me so you have to put that milk somewhere but it's just sooo unnatural to have some machine sucking fluid out of my boobs. I have friends that have used them and I hear the sucking/pumping noise and I think, "there's my future" followed by a cringe. I too will be in search of the nearest place of privacy to alleviate the pressure off of my rock-hard, fluid filled jugs. I am going to push a human out of a place that I don't ever push things out of, then it will followed by feeding another human with things that I have never thought of as a source of food. I look at pics of my baby and see her amazing face and it's all so unreal to me. Some women, like my mom and Scott's mom never once questioned how things were going to work out. My mom knew from the beginning that she wanted to be a mom. Scott's mom was elated when she found out she was pregnant. They didn't even really get to see ultrasounds like we do now. I've seen our baby three times now and it's still not enough to prepare me for what's to come. Back then there weren't 70 different brands to choose from for car seats, diapers or breast pumps. Did they even have breast pumps? I'll have to ask :) I had a 70 year old client give me some advice about breast pumps. FOR REAL! She told me how handy they were and I could freeze the milk and whatever milk I didn't give my baby I could give to the premature babies. I replied, "so, what do you want to do with your hair today?" God bless her sweet heart for sharing with me about the fascinating world of breast pumps. Oh and how do I find the happy medium of baby time, Scott time, me time, and all- three-of-us-together time with all this sharing of my body parts? That's a whole other blog right there :) Ready or not here comes my baby and I know that it will all be okay but again, these are the things that I think about.

30: Stay classy Sandiego- not possible in a hospital gown Little girls are raised much differently than little boys. From the time we are itty bitty in sweet little sun dresses and swim suits we are instructed to "act like a lady." I wore a modest one piece swim suit and was careful to keep my legs crossed when in a dress. I have no regrets about this but as I read up on the stages of labor it has come to my attention that modesty is not an option. This may be one of the biggest obstacles for me as the "big event" approaches. Labor undoubtedly involves pain but immodesty I am not prepared for. I have been a fairly modest person my entire life and programmed to realize the importance and sanctity of my body as a temple and modesty honoring that temple and let's just say it...I ain't no hoochie mama. Some of you won't believe this but for the first 20 years of my life I was a long haired, no makeup wearing, corduroy pants, hemp necklace making, skateboarding, granola mountain girl. I didn't think about looking sexy or trendy until I met my sweet friend Matt who worked at the Buckle and he took it upon himself to take a somewhat homely girl and show her a few tricks to amp up the style. Even with all that help of getting a better wardrobe, I still wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to bed like I have since I was a kid. Scott thinks it's super sexy ;) With the idea of natural childbirth in mind, I will prep for labor with relaxation techniques and envision getting through the transitions of each stage. I can't not, however, envision getting into that hideous hospital gown and then having to bare it all. I have worked too hard to look cute this entire pregnancy to just throw it all out the window by putting on a sheet they call a "gown." Can't I just go in my favorite summer dress with my hair in soft curls and push this baby out without a single moan/groan or awkward facial expression? In a society where image seems to be everything and celebrities look fabulous pre and post baby I just don't know where I fit into the mix. I know that somewhere in between pre and post there is some unflattering, unavoidable immodesty going on. Occasionally, I get the "privilege" of watching a birth on TLC or in my birthing class and I think, "these are all the private parts that we are told to cover up our entire lives and then BAM!!! here they are, wide open for the world to see." It's way too dramatic for me. Where's the middle ground? Is this why so many fathers have a hard time at first with having a little girl and changing their diapers? I know as a girl I was told about having babies and all that jazz but are little boys educated on this as well? Are they prepped for child birth too? Scott's role is going to be huge in the delivery room and as level headed as he can be, I know that it's going to freak him out seeing me with all my parts out in a VERY non-sexual way and suffering in pain. As far as looking back post birth, I know a few things for sure. I will have my toes painted pretty, I will have a spray tan, I will have my makeup kit with me and I will be camera ready :) It's not vanity, it's sanity!

32: 33 1/2 weeks Baby Wrage is doing great! She moves all the time and has moved a little farther south. I can feel my hips stretching out and I have picked up the inevitable waddle. I knew that it was uncomfortable but someone sweetly made notice of how I walk. Dang! I was trying so hard to hide it but I have become a penguin, hips wide and short legs. Scott and I have attended two birthing classes so far and we enjoy them. Labor and postpartum is something I think about on a daily basis. I research relaxation techniques, cloth diapering, and so much more. That's how I was designed, I like to try to be prepared as much as possible without actually going through it. When I take walks I practice breathing and then I do yoga. This is the first time in my pregnancy that I feel great! Praise God! For real, my mind is clear and I love this shapely body. We got maternity pics last week and for the first time in years I wasn't thinking about how fat I was. This body has given me an appreciation for what I use to have and completely took for granted. I strutted around in my underwear while the photographers wrapped me in sheets of beautiful fabric. I didn't think I would ever want maternity photos but they could have put me in a potato sack and I would have felt gorgeous. Early on in my pregnancy I struggled so much with my body image and now I'm free! Obviously, the biggest blessing out of this will be our baby girl but it has taught me a lot about myself and the growth is amazing for both Scott and me. My selfishness has shown it's ugly head in explosive ways but that also showed me how accepting and loving my husband can be. My emotions have peaked higher on the scale than most mental patients but that gave me a reason to rejoice when I feel normal. I have had a lot of fear about the whole thing from the beginning but God has shown me who loves and supports me. The blessings are numerous and if I feel this grateful now, I CAN NOT imagine the moment I meet her. We are less than seven weeks away and I'm just now getting use to this :)

33: I know there are several other things that I have not mentioned but this pretty much covers most of it. I'm so thankful for God's plan, it's perfect, just perfect.retching out and I have picked up the inevitable waddle. I knew that it was uncomfortable but someone sweetly made notice of how I walk. Dang! I was trying so hard to hide it but I have become a penguin, hips wide and short legs. Scott and I have attended two birthing classes so far and we enjoy them. Labor and postpartum is something I think about on a daily basis. I research relaxation techniques, cloth diapering, and so much more. That's how I was designed, I like to try to be prepared as much as possible without actually going through it. When I take walks I practice breathing and then I do yoga. This is the first time in my pregnancy that I feel great! Praise God! For real, my mind is clear and I love this shapely body. We got maternity pics last week and for the first time in years I wasn't thinking about how fat I was. This body has given me an appreciation for what I use to have and completely took for granted. I strutted around in my underwear while the photographers wrapped me in sheets of beautiful fabric. I didn't think I would ever want maternity photos but they could have put me in a potato sack and I would have felt gorgeous. Early on in my pregnancy I struggled so much with my body image and now I'm free! Obviously, the biggest blessing out of this will be our baby girl but it has taught me a lot about myself and the growth is amazing for both Scott and me. My selfishness has shown it's ugly head in explosive ways but that also showed me how accepting and loving my husband can be. My emotions have peaked higher on the scale than most mental patients but that gave me a reason to rejoice when I feel normal. I have had a lot of fear about the whole thing from the beginning but God has shown me who loves and supports me. The blessings are numerous and if I feel this grateful now, I CAN NOT imagine the moment I meet her. We are less than seven weeks away and I'm just now getting use to this :) | If it were my plan... I would not have been able to rely on my God in such a deep, humble way I would not have appreciated such deep sacrificial love from my husband I would not be able to relate to others who experience depression I would not been able to see how much I can handle I would not have felt true joy in the miracle of a growing baby I would not believe that God's plan truly is better than mine I would not believe that ALL babies are miracles I would not have seen how selfish I was I would not have experienced such unique support from family and friends I would not be able to laugh at myself I would not be able to feel so comfortable in such different skin I would not be able to slow my roll to see life in a week by week perspective I would not be able to use my stomach as a table I would not have cried until my eyes had no more tears I would not be able to feel completely out of control I would not been able to appreciate a simple walk with my mom or dad I would not have seen how much people care about someone they don't even know yet I would not have been able to appreciate riding a bike I would not have been able to see the sacrifices made by my parents I would not have prayed so hard I would not have shared my struggles I would not have been able to see how strong mothers are I would not be able to feel growing life inside of me I would have taken for granted the ability to bend over with ease I would have taken for granted the ability to run for miles and miles I would have taken for granted the hours I could spend on my feet without aching I would have taken for granted being able to hold my bladder for longer than 1 minute I would not have seen how much love Scott has for our baby I would not have seen how well Scott takes care of me

34: Family

36: This 4th of July I didn't Facebook announce what I did for the 4th of July but I thought I should document this. I may be vocal about my aches and pains but I also have a weird way of denying that this baby is actually going to come out. I know that they say that she will but really, I have no clue what that looks like or feels like. It's all hearsay in my opinion. I keep saying that I can't wait to meet her but who meets like this? Hey there! You just put my pain scale on a level 76, deformed my body for 9 months, tore through my vagina, and then screamed bloody murder after you took your first real breaths of oxygen in a polluted world. There's no shaking hands or even a cordial introduction. We will meet in a way that I have never met anyone before. Her poor little body, being forced through such a little tunnel and then exposed to lights, action, camera. It's all so beautiful and gruesome at the same time. Last Saturday, I was walking around with my mom and I had the ol' Braxton Hicks (such a lame way to describe your uterus contracting). Along with it, I had some cramping so I briefly complained and then moved on. At 2am I woke up with stronger contractions and cramping. They were frequent so I did what anyone would do when presented with concerning pre-term labor symptoms, I googled it. Google told me to call the 1st nurse, so I woke Scott up and told him what was going on. He told me to call 1st nurse. I ignored both of them and tried to go back to sleep. At 7am the symptoms of pre-term labor woke me up again. I guzzled some water, convinced Scott to walk with me for a little while, then rested on my left side. They didn't go away so I asked Scott for the number to 1st nurse. She told me to rest for a couple of hours and call back if it continued. I rested, went to church, then took a nap, and ignored my symptoms and my husband's concerns. Finally, at 7pm Scott handed me the phone and it rang to the 1st nurse. I was forced to tell her what was going on. She advised me to time the contractions for an hour then call back. Scott started the timer. "Okay, I'm having one." One minute later, "Okay, it stopped." Four to five minutes later, "Okay, I'm having one." One minute later, "Okay, it stopped." We continued that for an hour and I called 1st nurse back. Apparently, it was a busy night because I was on hold for 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes I was suddenly in pain, not a little but a lot. There wasn't a warning of pain, it just appeared and I was hunched over walking around the house trying to get ready to go to the hospital. Scott was a maniac who was much less in denial than I was. He was writing lists of things we needed to take to the hospital, packing a bag, telling me that this could be for real and I needed to take it more seriously. We didn't have a car seat yet so I joked we could just walk her home since we live so close. He didn't think it was funny and soberly told me that he would pick one up while I was in the hospital. I hobbled to the car and wondered what the neighbors were thinking. I'm sure with Scott running around throwing things in the car, then me coming out of the house saying I wanted an epidural gave it away. For the first time in my life I went to the ER for my own issues. I have been there several times with friends and family but never for myself and I took pride in that. It's a silly thing to take pride in but I guess I also felt blessed that I've never been an unhealthy person or had an accident that put me in there. They offered me a wheel chair to ride in to labor and delivery but I refused. I slowly walked the hall then tripped on my flip flop which scared Scott and the nurse but I recovered with a laugh and some joke about needing a wheel chair.

37: They put us in the observation room, of course told me to put that stupid gown on so they could examine my insides and hook me up to a monitor and IV. Within a second of putting the monitor on, we saw the heart beat and contractions. Contractions were every 2-2 1/2 minutes. Within 15 minutes a midwife came in and examined me. I wasn't dilated so she told the nurse to give me the shot to stop contractions. I have never been hooked up with an IV and it made me nervous. Then, they told me that the meds to stop contractions could make my heart race and that made me nervous too. I never take more than Tylenol for anything so I told the nurse I was nervous about all the side affects. She said, "yeah, I would be too but those are just symptoms that might happen." Thanks????? Not very comforting to say the least. It didn't make me feel any better that she was an employee at the cookie place just a year prior and now she was sticking me with an IV. I would rather take a cookie from her. The first dose didn't work for more than an hour before the contractions were back to every 2 minutes. I was praying they would stop and Scott was praying that we would get to meet her soon. I asked him if he wanted to meet the healthy version of her that we could take home or have to leave her in the hospital for a while to help her lungs develop more. He agreed that it was a good idea to be able to take her home. They gave me a second dose of meds that sure enough, made me jittery and my heart race. It stopped the contractions though. I really dislike being in the hospital. I couldn't eat, I couldn't get up without disconnecting the monitor cords, and taking my IV with me to the restroom while flashing Scott with my gaping gown. We were there for nearly 12 hours and then the midwife told me we could leave. After being disconnected and given discharge papers I told Scott to hand me my cloths and I was out of that place like a bat out of hell (I've never used that saying before but I feel it was a necessary for drama). After that experience, I lengthened the list of things I need to bring to the hospital and added a few things to the "birth plan" that I have written up to make myself feel like I have control over how this is all going to go down. We both felt a little disappointed because it wasn't time yet but now I am cherishing the alone time with Scott as a couple until we become a three person family. Happy Independence Day! I still have another human growing inside of me!

39: Maternity Pics We have a video of some of our pics that we took. Our whole goal behind these pics was to show all sides of us as a couple. We took some pics that were silly and just for kicks. We called this the "white trash" photo shoot. For the record, I don't smoke and the bottle of stuff that Scott was hold was an unknown liquid. We really just wanted to be as silly as possible because we love to laugh at ourselves. In 20 years, our daughter will be like, "you guys are weird!" Our goal is to be just as weird and giggly in 20 years and raise our daughter to not judge others and love all as they are. I feel like some of the pics declare proudly, "I got my woman knocked up!" and "I love my man just as he is." If you know Scott and I we try to be as real as we can and we share our hearts and lives with anyone that cares to hear. The other part of our shoot was a bit more serious because there is a side of us that loves deeply and is completely passionate about each other and life. We want her to live her dreams out and have goals. Life gets serious sometimes and that's when we love hard and hold onto each other. God gives us relationships and grows our faith through them. If it weren't for Him planning our daughter's life, I wouldn't have learned so much about myself and my husband. We are grateful. There are pictures of just me in there that show a side of me that I NEVER show. If you have followed my blog than you know how much a struggled with body image. It still makes me cry to think back to that time where my heart, mind, and body were all over the map trying to grasp all that I could control. God has done a remarkable job at speaking truth into my life. These pictures are to show my daughter that our bodies are beautiful and God's creation is perfect. I'm heavier than I ever have been (yes, I know I am pregnant) but I have conquered that stupid scale thing, I have exposed myself as a baby belly baring mama. Before I was pregnant, I would have looked at these pics and gasped if I saw a roll of fat or if my thighs touched. Now, I cry because God's makeover is more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Jacquelyn's photography team did a wonderful job at capturing us. Thank you.

40: another part of the process I can't believe the end is so near! The nursery is done and I think we have most everything we need for this little bundle of joy. Thinking back to the day that I found out I was pregnant does not seem like a distant memory. I can still feel the shock and fear but the process has been a tremendous blessing that I don't regret. In the past weeks fear came back into the picture. It was paralyzing my joy so I sought answers. I picked up my bible. I found all sorts of verses about fear and peace so I wrote them all down on a piece of paper to take with me to the hospital. I also stumbled across a website called Birthingnaturally.net. There was a part about fear that really spoke loud to me. "Fear is also a powerful tool for Satan to use during pregnancy, labor and birth. Think about the fears that Satan has tried to teach you to live by. Satan tells us to be afraid because labor is so painful, and dangerous. Satan tells us to be afraid to eat because our bodies will remain fat forever. Satan tells us to be afraid to get more rest because others will think we are weak because we are pregnant women. Satan tells us to be afraid to give birth because the baby will have so many needs that we will always be exhausted. Fear that God is not in control. Fear that our bodies are defective. Fear that we are not adequate to the tasks at hand. You see, once you begin to believe some of these fears, you lose your faith in God. You can not believe that God created you adequate for the tasks he set before you and also believe that your body is defective. You can not believe that labor is so painful that no women can handle it and also believe that God is in control of labor. These fears are in direct opposition to the Bible and rather than build your faith, they will destroy it. Rather than encourage you to turn to God, they will encourage you to feel hopeless. So you must decide now how you will live your life. Will you live your life in response to fear, or will you live your life based on faith in God. Will you be ruled by your worries or your Lord. Will you worry, or will you trust God. Will you live in fear or faith?" These findings gave me a breakthrough in the fear, then came a third confirmation. After church this past Sunday a woman told me she believed that God wanted me to know that I have what it takes to be a great mother. Instantly, I burst into tears because I knew it was true. I was made for this! What is there to fear if this is what He made me for? He designed me to carry her inside for this long. He designed me to go through labor. He designed me to raise her. Trust in Him alone. Of course I'm not saying that I'm alone in raising her, Scott will be an amazing dad, no doubt. It's just that Satan got his sketchy lies into my mind to distract me and suck the joy out of me. We have at most, a couple of weeks left. In the mean time, we are cherishing every moment that is just "us", cherishing the fun of her growing in me, and cherishing the unknown future.

41: In da club Go shawty, it's your birthday We gonna party like it's your birthday! -Famous words of "50 Cent" Pretty soon I will join a club. It's the mamma's club. Before I was pregnant I knew there was a secret language these women spoke. I cared about their children and their lives but there was a disconnection between me really understanding what they were talking about. I played it off like it was no big deal but my thoughts were either, "I don't get it or I don't care." I wasn't trying to be shallow but the club talk was beyond me. Since I was 15 I was legally employed and paying taxes. That's what I understood, that's what brought me joy. Being apart of the club didn't interest me at all. It may have struck my curiosity from time to time though. After finding out I was pregnant I realized that my business oriented mind would have to switch a bit. Now that I have successfully been allowed to carry our baby this long I have had time to bond with other moms who carried their children. My favorite part is how every woman I talk to, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN, remembers their pregnancy and birth no matter how old they are. I have listened to dozens of birth stories. All of the stories intrigue me. All of them remember what time their labor started, when it ended and all the in between. They remember the smallest details. I find it absolutely fascinating, all of it. There's no formula to it. Some had morning sickness, some didn't. Some cried, some rejoiced. Some were scared and some just felt at ease. Some loved it, some wouldn't ever do it again. Some were miserable, some felt better than ever. Some were in labor 30 hours and others 4 hours. I feel apart of something that is unique to everyone. It's like a bunch of puzzle pieces. Everyone is there for the same purpose but no one is alike. I have found an incredible amount of support in the club. I cry when I get responses from my blogs from women who have been in my shoes and had the same feelings. It's like God wants me to write for the ones who have been there and the ones behind me. What would be the purpose of claiming I live my life for Jesus if I just shut my mouth and closed my heart. To me, it's utterly impossible to think about not writing or sharing about this experience, this gift. Every single emotion is poured out since I started writing. Every day I am inspired by moms, Scott's mom and my own mom. When she is born I suppose I will be amidst the ones that say, "It's a lot of work but it's worth every second." Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I love to work anyway :) There's such an intriguing smile behind the ones who say that. My favorite part of being pregnant is going for a walk and seeing elderly women look at my HUGE belly and I can see beyond their smiling faces. They are remembering their personal story of how they became apart of the mamma's club. It was when maternity clothes were tents and 3-d ultrasounds weren't even thought of. They didn't know anything except a baby was growing and so was their love for it. From biblical times stretched forever into the future there will always be a beautiful story about giving life.

42: It's Nice To Finally Meet You Thursday, August 4th, I started feeling crampy and sick. My stomach was contracting but that was nothing new. Scott told everyone that I would probably go the next day. That was my dad's prediction as well. In the weeks previous, I was practicing all the things I learned about getting ready for delivering a baby. I ate well, walked, and relaxed as much as I could. I took deep breaths and visualized her moving on down. God made our bodies and we, for the most part, have control in how they function on a day to day basis. I had great family and friends praying that my delivery was easy and that we would both be healthy. I know you can't predict it but I'm never opposed to prayer and support. My focus the week of my due date was to relax and also have fun with Scott. Prior to my due date we ran through sprinklers, watched movies, and cherished our time together as "kids." I tried my best to not look too much into it but when we went for a walk on Thursday evening and I began walking like a 90 year old with a bad hip. I had to stop and breath and couldn't even move my legs at some points on the walk. Scott was trying to walk our baby out of me and I believed it was working. I slept well that night, so well that I was sure my labor symptoms went away. We woke up at 6:30am Friday, August 5th and it was a perfect morning for a walk. It was my due date and my stomach was very tight but I felt really energetic, not like I was going to deliver a baby later that day. Our walk was purposeful, meaning, it was about trying to induce labor, even though we tried to keep the conversation light. At 7:30 I ate a bowl of cereal and then set my bowl down. It was within minutes of eating that I heard a "pop." I prayed earlier that day that if I was in labor that God would break my water because Scott had a meeting out of town and I didn't want him to leave if this really was labor. After hearing and feeling that pop I was 99% sure it was my water breaking. Within seconds came a gush of amniotic fluid! Scott immediately installed the car seat and I got ready for the hospital. This wasn't a rehearsal, this was the real deal. I called my mom and got weepy when I told her what happened because there was no turning back. All that we had prepared for, all that God had brought us through was about to come to fruition. It was going to be an intense journey and soon we would meet our daughter. Our lives would change forever. | Rhylan Jo Wrage 10 1/2 hours of labor 300 contractions One hour of pushing 7lb 11oz 20 inches

43: Our bags were packed, our car seat was installed, and the contractions with cramps were getting fierce. We went right up to labor and delivery where they checked me internally. I was 2 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced. In between contractions, which felt like my worst period cramps, they wheeled me down to my room. I was still leaking amniotic fluid and it grossed me out. So far that was the part that bothered me most because the cramps were something I was familiar with. Leaking a ton of fluid was not something that I could work with. When we got settled into my room I was working through some intense contractions. They were nothing compared to what was to come but I took one at a time and didn't dare look at a clock. My mom was there to relieve Scott when he needed a break and then when they both needed a break Scott's mom took over. At times they were all holding a hand or rubbing my back or legs. The room was always quiet and I barely opened my eyes. I managed to send a text out to my best friend who was two days over her due date saying, "dude, this hurts." We share everything even though we are 1500 miles away from each other. Looking back I probably should've said, "dude, this is easy!" I had a lot of encouragement along the way from everyone in the room. Scott only made one mistake and that was eating spaghetti in the room and then telling me very closely, to breathe. EWWWW! My hand went up and I shooed him away letting him know that it was NOT okay to breath marinara sauce in my face. Needless to say, he came back with a fresh stick of gum in his mouth. As 1pm approached the contractions stepped it up a notch and were one right after another. I remembered what someone had told me about the whirlpool refreshing them. Scott started the whirlpool and as soon as I got in I told the nurse that I think I needed something to take the pain away. She told us our options and said she would come back. I really didn't know how I was going to get through the pain. When she came back Scott asked her questions that I already knew the answer to. He knew if I heard the reasons that I didn't want drugs in the first place again it would give me strength to get through. Praying for comfort and strength I worked into a new pain level. After getting out of the whirlpool I knew that I had to meditate on something. I recited some Bible verses briefly and then for whatever reason, I started to count down from seven in my mind. Over and over and over, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1. I imagined her moving down and out, down and out. At 3pm I was 5cm dilated and all I heard my midwife say was that it usually goes about one centimeter per hour and then one to three for pushing so we were looking at 5 to ten more hours. My thought was "I don't think so." I prayed and got into a whole different state of mind. I relaxed completely after each contraction and praised God for the strength to get through it. Within two hours I felt the urge to push. My cheerleaders were still there telling me how great I was doing. They checked me again and according to the average I should've been around 7cm but instead I was closer to 10 and she was very low. The nurses coached me through the pushing. It sucked. If you read through my blog "Stay classy: not possible in a hospital gown" then you knew that I had an issue with how immodest labor was. I lost all modesty, there was no turning back, I had to push her out. They corrected me several times on my pushing because I would give up and I seriously just wanted to cross my legs and call it quits. FYI...NOT AN OPTION. Suddenly, it was like a football stadium in there. Shouts of joy meant there was some real progress going on. It motivated me to move this kid out. Scott kept saying, "Oh my gosh babe, she's almost out! I see her head!" I couldn't believe it when the nurse told me to reach down and pull my baby out. As I looked down, I saw her little head and shoulders. With my last bit of strength I pulled the rest of her body out and put her on my chest. Exhaustion was on both of our faces. We looked straight into each other's eyes. She knew me and I knew her, more intimately then anyone ever before. I remember saying "hi, we did it, I love you." She was mine and I was hers.

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