Monday, August 27, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Us - August 26, 2012

Today is our one year wedding anniversary - and tomorrow, we go to the hospital to have our first baby! What a difference a year makes...at this time last year, I was counting down the hours until I could walk down the aisle to the man that had promised to spend every day trying to find ways to make me happy. Today, I am counting down the hours until "we" become a "three".
Us - August 27, 2011

To my dear husband: Quite simply, thank you for making all of my dreams come true. You have erased all of the tears and heartaches on the very bumpy road that brought us together. God was truly showing off when He made you - and you have set the bar extraordinarily high by the example you set of how a man should love a woman. Thank you for choosing me, for sweeping me off of my feet, and for loving me more than I ever thought it was possible to be loved. Thank you for following through on your promise to find ways to make me happy every day - and thank you for letting me love you in my clumsy, over-the-top, fumbling way, for bearing with me while I adjusted to life as a married...and then, pregnant woman..., and for accepting me, just as I am. Thank you for taking care of me, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I love you to the moon and back....TTBFE, Jeannine Michele

Our friend Kristi came over yesterday and took these photos of us, so we would have evidence of how things were "before baby".

video

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I need YOUR help supporting Komen's Race for the Cure this year

I am a proud Board member for the North Central Alabama chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Why do I support Komen? For one reason: I do it in memory of my late mother.
(Mom's last Christmas - December 1999)

My mother, Diane Jenkins Jersey, was the best woman I have ever had the honor of knowing, and it would mean more than anything to have her alive today. I am preparing to become a mother for the first time myself, and her presence is the single thing I want more than anything. Unfortunately, she passed away from breast cancer 12 years ago, at the age of 50.

If you had known my mom, you would know that she wanted nothing more than to raise her children and see them become parents…and then, spoil her grandchildren completely rotten. I hate the fact that she missed on the chance to live long enough to experience that joy, especially now that the arrival of this little one is imminent.
(Mom and me - April 1976)

My mom was first diagnosed when I was a senior in high school, and battled bravely and valiantly while my brother, a junior named Kevin, and my sister, a middle schooler named Jessica, went about trying to live our lives as normally as possible. She tried to keep the true extent of her illness from us, wanting us to be shielded from the side effects of the chemotherapy she was taking, and if we ever expressed concern for her, she valiantly deflected it or assured us that she was in good hands, that my dad was taking good care of her, that the doctors and nurses were providing excellent care, that her friends were supporting her, and that God was comforting her.

Just in time for my high school graduation, my mom finished her treatments, and at my graduation party, she bravely debuted her new shorter haircut, going without her wig for the first time, in public. I had never been more proud or more impressed by her strength.
(Mom and me - circa Summer 1995 or 1996)

She was in remission for about 6 years after that. My brother and I both graduated high school,
and went off to different colleges. My sister began her high school journey, and with each passing year, we settled into a more confident security of Mom’s future health. Mom and Dad started planning for retirement, and even bought a home down at the beach so that they could start making the transition. Mom had a renewed spirit, and spent the next years active in her church, volunteering and having adventures (she even went parasailing!).

Around the time of my college graduation in December of ’99, Mom started to make comments about shoulder pains and not feeling 100%. She thought it was just the effects of turning 50 that month, and assured us that she would tell her doctors about it if it got worse. She continued to be active in her church and with various support groups, and even helped to organize fundraising events – all the while, her cancer was back…and we didn’t know yet.
(Mom and me at college graduation - December 1999)

One of the things that haunts me is that I vividly remember my mom saying when she was diagnosed in 1993 was that all she ever really wanted was to see her kids graduate from high school, that anything over that would be a bonus. My sister graduated from high school at the end of May of 2000, and within three weeks, on Father’s Day, my mother was so jaundiced that she had to be hospitalized. She never came home, and our family has never been the same.

Diane Jenkins Jersey passed away on July 11, 2000 from cancer that had metastasized basically everywhere: her liver, pancreas, brain, and bones. By the time she was hospitalized, it was too late to treat her any further, and we had to say goodbye to the best woman I have ever known.
Even 12 years later, I miss my mother with a fierceness that I never thought possible. I literally
feel like a part of me is missing. Especially now, as I am preparing to make the journey of motherhood myself, there are times each day that I reach for the phone to call her and ask her a question or share a fun update with her. Heaven may have gained an angel that day, but the world is worse off without her here.

Quite simply, through the money raised by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, more moms, sisters, daughters, friends, wives, co-workers, neighbors, and aunts will get to live to see another day. Every woman deserves that chance.

So, why do I support Komen? So that no other son or daughter has to lose their mother. So that no other husband has to watch his high school sweetheart slip away. So that no other sister has to say goodbye to her favorite sibling. So that no other friend has to be deprived of the companionship of an incredible woman. So that no other grandchild has to grow up hearing stories of how Grandma was when she was alive, but instead gets to know the loving embrace of her arms.
This year, I will not be able to walk or run in the actual Race for the Cure here in Birmingham, but I will be participating in fundraising. Please consider making a donation at: http://ncalabama.info-komen.org/site/TR/RacefortheCure/BHM_NorthCentralAlabamaAffiliate?px=10731303&pg=personal&fr_id=2660
Every dollar counts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

And so, we wait...


On Tuesday morning, while I was at work, I started having some serious contractions - nothing regularly, but enough to get my attention (and that of my coworkers that witnessed them). I called S to tell him that instead of meeting him at our scheduled doctor's appointment that afternoon, that it might be better for him to pick me up and drive me. The last thing I wanted was to be cruising down 31, and crash into the car next to me when I had another contraction!

At the doctor's office, we had our last ultrasound done - and it was determined that this baby was already measuring at 41+ weeks...at least 8 pounds, 15 ounces. That's not too surprising since we are both kind of big people ourselves, but as the person responsible for actually birthing the child, it did get my attention.

Next, we had a "non stress test" done. (I sincerely don't know why they call it that, because I find it kind of stressful, actually.) We get to watch the baby's heartrate, and see how my contractions measured, and if the baby is affected by them. The heartrate looked good - as it turns out, this baby isn't stressed out at ALL by my contractions, probably because he or she knew that they weren't actually going to acheive his or her arrival any time soon!

Finally, we met with Dr. Brown, and after a pretty uncomfortable physical exam (which I won't detail, in case you are squeamish), she snapped off her glove, sat down and said, "Well, I don't normally do this, but I am going to recommend we schedule a c-section for next week. You'll be 39 weeks pregnant by then, which is a good benchmark for the baby's development, and I think it would be better to go in and get him or her, then to let him or her try to arrive naturally."

After a moment of letting that settle in, she started to explain why. As it turns out, the baby's head is sitting right on top of my pubic bone, and the space between that bone and my sacrum isn't big enough for the head to safely fit through. Doctor Brown said we could try to see if it would work out - but that we would risk brain damage or permanent nerve damage to the baby's shoulders, and damage to me, as well. For most people, this would probably have been shocking to hear, but as it turns out, my mother had the exact same issue...only she found it out after hours of laboring with me! They had to do an emergency c-section to get me out safely. I had informed the doctor of that on our first visit - and she had kept an eye for it all along. We were hoping that because I am significantly taller than my mom, that I would be able to do it the "regular" way, but it turns out that I am more like my mom than I realized!

So, we set on a date - next Tuesday - for the big arrival of this precious baby. Doctor Brown wanted to go Monday, but that's our first wedding anniversary, so we wanted to have seperate days, if we could. (Start laughing now, because you know what they say about the best laid plans....)

And now, we wait...

I am laying low, for the most part, which is REALLY hard for me. I have had more than one friend tell me that I am a human doing, not a human being. I like being busy, but this week, the best plan of "action" is for me to sit down or even better, lay down, and rest. Any movement brings on a contraction, and we want this baby to be fully cooked by next Tuesday. I have had many offers of help and support and prayers and love from S's fantastic family and all of our friends, which I am immensely grateful for, and this week has been spent getting our proverbial ducks in a row, as much as I can from a prone position.

Unfortunately, my side of the family is all far away, and because of a serious health issue with my dad this week while he was up in Maryland, he and my stepmom Carole will be up there when baby finally arrives. Of course, I would love for them to be here on the big day, but really, all I care about for my father is that he get better! Baby will be here waiting when Dad is finally capable of traveling. After spending most of his week in the ICU, the doctors felt confident enough to send him home yesterday with strict orders of taking it easy, and lots of follow up appointments scheduled. Carole is an excellent caretaker - and my sister has been helping to keep an eye on him, too...so, he is in great hands.

So, we are waiting on BOTH fronts...for baby to arrive, and for Dad to heal up! We will spread the news when we have news to spread - until then, we are just waiting...and waiting...and waiting....

Monday, August 20, 2012

As a point of reference...

Today, I went to the hospital to visit a friend - and ran into a woman pushing a stroller with twin boys in it. One look at me and she exclaimed, "Woooo! When are your twins due?"

Sigh....shouldn't she (of all people) honor the rules about not commenting on the size of a pregnant woman's stomach?

To be fair, things are getting a little out of control in the belly area. As a point of reference, this is S's head next to my ever expanding belly. He has a normal size head.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

All day on the couch....

These days, I am feeling more like a beached whale than some maternal vessel. I have literally spent all day laying on the couch - which is exactly what the doctor ordered (or at least, would have, had I consulted her about exactly how I am really feeling). I am too exhausted to even sit up for too long. After a long week at work (partner on vacation, extra duties to cover since my boss got a promotion, and preparation for our radiothon this coming week), I was so wiped last night that I couldn't even muster the energy to go to have pizza at a friend's house.

Everyone keeps telling me to rest while I can, but I feel pretty guilty when I do. This week, my beloved husband has been doing some serious projects around the house: powerwashing the driveway, siding and back porch; painting all of our shudders and doors; fixing the toilet in the guest room; cleaning out the garage; installing a ceiling fan, hanging the window treatment, picking up our rocker recliner and rearranging the baby's room; and most importantly, cooking for me every time I am home. He's the one doing the nesting...I am doing the resting!

As he keeps reminding me, "eye on the prize". I know our little one is going to be here very soon (please dear GOD, let it be sooner than later), and that everything is going to be a whirlwind once that happens. In the meantime, I am hanging out, on the couch, in this holding pattern.

So, to make myself snap out of feeling guilty, I am resorting to old reliable...the gratitude list. Here goes:

Today, I am grateful for:
- The fact that I am even pregnant, with a husband that loves me. For many years, I wasn't sure this was ever going to happen.
- My incredible husband and all of his hard work to make me feel better and to make the house look so fantastic.
- Technology - my cell phone, Kindle, DirecTV, etc. I would be nuts without the distractions.
- A comfortable couch and bed - since I am spending so much time there these days, it's nice that they are comfortable.
- Friends that understand when I cancel plans because I am wiped out.
- A weekend to relax before having to go back to work next week.

Dear God, thank you for the many blessings in my life. I know that I am a very lucky woman. Please help me to remember that millions of women have gone through this before me, and that it's going to be all worth it in the end. Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

All you have to do is look at me to know that!

I have a fun app on my phone that tells me how things are progressing with our baby - and usually, they compare his or her size to produce of some kind. Well, this week, all you have to do is look at me to know this comparison! Can't wait to see what they come up with next week!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two secrets for the best chocolate chip cookies you have ever had


Anyone that ever knew my mother knew that she was a world class baker - especially well known for her delicious and soft chocolate chip cookies! When she would send me care packages at college, the girls on my dorm floor would come find me on campus to tell me of its arrival, just so they could be there when I opened up the part of the package that contained the cookies. At Mom's memorial service, and in the weeks after, her cookies were mentioned in more than one of the condolences cards or in the sweet comments people made in person.

As luck would have it, she did share with me and my siblings the two secrets to making these incredible cookies. Now, I want to share these two secrets with YOU! I should warn you - these aren't "health" cookies...but they are SO good, you won't care!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of butter flavored Crisco (<--Secret #1 - makes the cookies fluffier)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here are the instructions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat Crisco, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Taste test the batter to make sure it's awesome (alright, I added that part...) Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 minutes or so. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; then, place on brown paper bags that you have laid out on the counter (it'll absorb a little of the excess grease).

EAT warm with a really cold glass of milk. If you don't eat all of them, STORE them in an airtight container or cookie jar. ADD one piece of loaf bread to the container or cookie jar. (<--Secret #2! This will make the cookies soft to eat later! The bread will become hard as a rock because by some science or magic, all the moisture from the bread will go into the cookies! Genius!)

ENJOY the fame you will reap from serving these to your friends and family.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another brilliant moment...


Sometimes, I wonder if I am ready to be someone's parent - especially when I pull the brilliant moments like I did last night!

Right before bed, I sat down to check my email one last time, and panicked when I saw BLOOD all over my left hand. My brain started to swirl! When the heck had I cut myself? How had I not noticed until right now? Did I get blood all over the house while I unknowingly was apparently bleeding to death?

In order to stop the bleeding, I immediately put my index finger and thumb in my mouth. They appeared to be the most affected, and I was hoping that would keep the damage to a minimum.

Weird. Why does my blood taste so sweet?

Oh, right. Because it's not blood. It's residue from the RED VELVET CUPCAKE I had eaten about an hour before.

Sigh....

Friday, August 3, 2012

Long overdue gratitude list

When I started this blog, it began as a place to put my daily gratitude lists. I realized yesterday that it has been a LONG time since I posted one of them (even though I am still doing them in my head pretty much daily), and I have so very much to be grateful for that it is long overdue to pause and publicly take stock of the many, many blessings in my life.

Today, I am grateful for:

- S. He really is the perfect partner for me. He is strong in all of my weak places, and has literally made all of my dreams come true.

- a healthy baby. Every time we go to the doctor, we get a good report. Nothing makes me happier.

- the amount of love and support we have gotten during this entire pregnancy. I am constantly amazed at how many people offer support, advice, gifts and prayers to us and our little one.

- medical insurance. Last night, we sat down and calculated how much it would cost to have this little one without insurance, and while we are still going to have to come out of pocket thousands of dollars, it's not nearly what it would be if we didn't have insurance.

- my mom. Despite the fact that she has been gone for 12 years now, she has found numerous ways to "check in" lately, whether it's through a pregnancy journal I found at the most opportune time, or a blanket I didn't know she had made for my cousin's kids, or through a plant she gave me blooming at the perfect moment, my mother's presence is alive and well. She was an incredible mother, and continues to mother me from beyond.

- technology. With friends and family spread out all over the country and with varying schedules/availability, it is nice to be able to send a text/email/make a call/post a blog/update a status/etc., and spread the word about how life is going or to check in and see how their lives are going, too!

- baby showers! Good gracious, I can't get over how generous everyone has been to us. Last night, when I sat in the nursery, gratitude washed over me when I realized how many people had contributed to the precious room and all of the fun clothes, books, toys and other baby things that we will be using very, very soon!

That's not everything I am grateful for...but I am starting to feel like I am bragging!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An open letter to all door to door sales people

Dear Door to Door Salesman Guy - while I appreciate that you have a job to do, it is probably not your best move to knock on the door for three minutes, and then, resort to ringing the doorbell. When I hang up on the rare phone call that I was able to have with my friend of over 15 years that I only get to talk to every few months, exert myself greatly to lift my ever expanding girth off of the couch, waddle to the door, fight past the two frantically barking dogs and crack the door to find out who was there (thinking it was someone that was in distress...the only excuse for the persistent knocking and ringing), it is NOT a good time to launch into your sales pitch...most specifically, to start with a sales pitch that asks if I am happy today. Nope. I WAS...I was very happy sitting on my couch, in the first comfortable position I had found all day, talking to my friend with my sleeping and content dogs at my feet...but now?? Not even freaking close.

Sincerely,
A disgruntled non-customer