Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The First Trimester

Now that I am firmly in my second trimester, I thought I would write out some reflections on my first trimester. I am so thankful to have made it thus far. My thought every day is that no matter what the outcome, this baby has already been such a joy and a blessing. I am so grateful for every moment of this process.

Things started out surprisingly easy, despite the travel. Things seemed to be going really smoothly. I was one of the lucky few who never got any morning sickness. In fact, the few symptoms that I had were very mild: dizziness, frequent urination, a growing bosom, and fatigue. The fatigue was a doozy, but it still could not damper the joy of telling family and friends. Even still, I had a strange sense that something was wrong. I tried to just ignore it and write it off as paranoia.

When I was about 8 weeks pregnant, things took a bad turn. I started showing early signs of a miscarriage. Since there is a history of them in my family, I grew increasingly more anxious and almost went to the ER one day. Instead, I called a friend's father who is a doctor. He seemed to believe that the prognosis was not great. Our hearts sunk. Jon and I braced for the worst and tried to hold on to hope.

Two couple days later, I went to my first scheduled OB appointment. Thankfully, I was able to have an ultrasound to check on things. The baby was alive and well with a strong heartbeat. Jon and I both cried the happiest of tears when we saw the tiny little blob of a baby wiggling around on the screen. Below is our first picture of Tiny Tobin!

However, my OB still had concerns about my situation. I was put on pelvic/light bed rest for the rest of the first trimester. That meant no more running, no more lifting anything over 5 pounds, just lots of time off my feet. It was a real bummer and I got pretty antsy, especially when the Fall weather was so beautiful and I could not go out for a run. Thankfully, working at home made it much easier to stay off my feet.

When I hit the second trimester, there was much rejoicing and we finally announced to the world that Tiny Tobin was on the way! Being in the second trimester now does not just mean that I am able to exercise again, but also means that my risk level for losing the pregnancy become much, much smaller. It's a massive hurdle to have crossed and one I feel so relieved to have behind me. Even better, I've started to feel the baby move around 12 weeks. It feels so good to know that the little one is really there.

Just about all of my mild symptoms from the first trimester have faded. Now I'm just working on getting nice and round. I've even had a couple people ask an unsolicited "are you pregnant?" which was kind of exciting. I'm starting to look less like I pounded a couple burritos for breakfast and more like I'm expecting.

For those of you that keep asking, here are all the photos. I started taking "bump" photos at 6 weeks.

The start of the second trimester is somewhere around 14 weeks. I've started to get a decent bump now, and apparently baby was the size of a lemon. A LEMON! So crazy that Tiny Tobin is getting so big now.

At 15 weeks, I really started growing more noticeably. Baby is the size of a navel orange now. I am surprised that I am this big and I'm not even half way yet. But maybe it's just in my head, because I can't imagine how I will make it to 40 weeks without bursting.

We happen to be friends with an amazing photographer and stylist duo here called Well Worn Co. and had the opportunity to take some lovely photos with them for our public announcement. They did such a wonderful job and I would highly recommend them in you are in the Memphis area. More photos are coming soon as we also took a few shots for a Christmas card.

And of course, don't forget Mac. Jon decided that if we were dressing up, Mac deserved a little style treatment himself and donned a scarf for the occasion. I just love these photos of the four of us.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Overdue Update, Part 4: Mom and Marathon

In case you missed them, click to read update 1update 2, and update 3.

Remember the whole car accident and needing to buy a new one story? Well Jon had to figure that out while I was gone. We had hoped it would come in after I was home, but it came in early. A couple days before Jon's mom and I arrived in Richmond, Jon drove the rental car the 4 hours to Birmingham late at night, bought our new car, dropped off the rental car there, and drove the new car back home. He called me when it hit 100 miles in celebration.

Arriving back in Memphis and seeing Jon again was such a sweet, sweet reunion. After going to D.C./Boston/Richmond and all of the emotions those trips elicited, I just wanted to be near Jon and never leave again. Thankfully, he was about to begin Fall Break, so other than 2 days of work, he was free for the next week. We had a new motorcycle, a new car, Mom in town, a tiny Tobin growing inside, and we were together again. We seemed to be drowning in results of many answered prayers. It was humbling. Hallelujah and amen.

Initially I had been nervous about Jon's mom coming to stay with us. I was not sure we would have any energy left and would not be able to fully enjoy time with her. Instead, it turned out to be such a blessing for us. The time together forced us to slow down, really enjoy meals, and savor the time together. Cooking meals together or introducing Mom to some of our favorite restaurants here was definitely a highlight. So. Much. Good. Food.

While Jon was working, Mom and I went on a visit to St. Jude Children's Research Center for a tour of their facilities. They are such a huge part of Memphis and do so much good for children who are very sick and their families. It brought tears to both of our eyes to see how strong those kids are, how dedicated the workers seem to be, and how fun the whole atmosphere was. It was not at all like a normal hospital.

Another fun activity that week was going to a corn maze and pumpkin patch. Pumpkin picking is one of my most favorite Fall activities, so I was thrilled to be able to find a place here to do just that. We donned our boots and took a long trek through the corn maze. Or rather, Mom and I followed Jon, the master navigator, while munching on snacks and cheating by cutting through the corn.

After we had survived the corn, we went pumpkin picking, complete with a couple photos of a baby pumpkin. We could not help ourselves.

After the short week ended and we had to say goodbye to Jon's mom, we immediately started our long drive in the new car to Chicago. Jon drove most of the way up because I slept through nearly all of it. I was so desperately tired. When we arrived, we put our things in our awesome apartment that we rented through airb&n and then went out for a late dinner. This would not have been very memorable if it were not for the fact that Jon ordered a side truffle fries. I learned that night that I apparently have a strong pregnancy aversion to french fries. It was not so much that they made me feel nauseated as it was that they smelled as offensive as limburger cheese or a skunk in the room. I made Jon put them at the far end of the table and swear off ever eating french fries again.

But ah, Chicago. We loved strolling the streets and holding each others hands. It was like a nice long date. It was chilly, we enjoyed some of our favorite coffee, and ate some amazing food. If you ever need suggestions for where to eat in Chicago, we've got a list for you. We Tobins love food.

When we travel, Jon and I love finding things that the locals do, rather than seeing all the big tourist sights. We did take a stroll of the Navy Pier and visited the Art Institute of Chicago, but otherwise mostly stuck to exploring neighborhoods. Jon even looked up local events and saw that they were showing Ghostbusters outside at the zoo one night! We packed blankets, got some popcorn, and picked out a good spot. Best idea ever.

Now for the main event: the Chicago Marathon. After Jon ran it last year and hit a personal record, he decided to try and beat it this year. His training over the summer gave him a good chance for a better time, maybe even a Boston qualifying time. To qualify to be able to run the Boston Marathon, he would need to run a race faster than 3:05:00.

The marathon was on Sunday at the end of our trip. As usual, he felt calm the night before. I got the pre-race jitters for him. Morning came very early but the weather was perfect for a race. He made his way to the start and I made my way to first of the viewing locations.

The Chicago Marathon is one of the biggest marathons in the world, so naturally it draws quite a crowd. There was an electric feeling in the air as the sea of sign-waving fans cheered for the runners racing by. At each of the four viewing points, I was so afraid I would miss him in the crowd. Somehow, I was able to catch him each time with a huge grin on his face. He crossed the finish line at 3:02:08! SO PROUD!!

We celebrated with a huge burger afterwards at Au Cheval... which I unfortunately threw up later. It was the one and only time I have been sick since getting pregnant. (As consequence, I no longer can stand the smell of beef. So no burgers and fries for me for a while!) Jon's burger suited him very well. He seemed to reminisce about the burger for days after, perhaps even more than the marathon itself. Like I said, we Tobins love food. From there, the long drive home was before us. This time, I did all the driving while the champion got some well-deserved rest on the way home. Finally, home.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

An Overdue Update, Part 3: Family

In case you missed them, click to read update 1 and update 2.

I had an impressive and non-stop agenda ahead of me:
- 2 days in DC
- Drive to Boston for 3 days, see family and say goodbye to my Grandma
- Drive to Richmond for a business trip and visit with family for 9 days
- Drive to DC and fly back to Memphis with Jon's mom; she would stay with us for a week
- Drive to Chicago for 5 days and Jon runs the marathon
- Drive back to Memphis

Thankfully, I was going to some of my favorite cities with many of my favorite people in the world.

I was greeted at the Dulles airport by Jon's aunt Ronnie. We went out to a wonderful dinner and spent the evening catching up. I could not contain myself and ended up sharing the wonderful news of my pregnancy with her. It felt so good to share and say it out loud. We enjoyed lunch together the next day as well, but as always, time together was too short. That evening, I met up with my dear friend Regas and his wife at this delicious place called Pupatella. I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in the DC/Northern VA area.

The next morning, I met up with my dad and sister and we began our long drive north to Boston. My mother was not able to join us, but I called her, put her on speaker phone, and shared the great news of the baby. My dad seemed surprised, my sister excited, and my mom's response was "I was thinking about this today and just had a feeling... I knew it! ...and you're having a boy, I'm convinced."

Half way there, we got word that Grandma's energy was waning significantly. I began getting more and more nervous that we may not get to spend much time with her... or worse, see her at all. I really wanted to see her one more time and share the news of the first great-grandchild that was on the way. The weight of everything, along with pregnancy fatigue, had begun to set in. Between deep reflection and napping, I spent much time in prayer.

Once we arrived in Boston, everything felt like a blur. We spent time with family friends on Friday night after we arrived and made plans to spend all day Saturday with family. My sister and I had grown up so far away from family that it always felt like a special treat when we got to see them. This time, it felt strange. We were no longer the little children in the midst of adults during a joyous reunion. Now the whole mood was different. It is a cliché to say it, but it really was bitter-sweet.

When we arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's home, we were greeted by more family, including Grandma's two sisters who travelled in to see her. Grandma was resting in her room, but welcomed me back to go and see her. In the years that I had known her, she was always so full of life. I had never won in a game of tennis against her, she had great patience when trying to teach me to play the piano as a child, and she had seemingly endless energy while swimming in the lake at our family reunions. Seeing her now so frail took away my words.

My grandparent's wedding day, and two family photos. (My dad in in the bottom photo on the left in front of Grandpa).

I took her hand and made sure she was comfortable. She asked how Jon and I were doing. Then I shared with her that she was going to be a great-grandmother. She seemed to immediately brighten at this news and became more alert. It was wonderful to see that familiar eager look in her eye, curious to know about my life in the duration of time that had passed since we last sat face-to-face. I could write for pages and pages of the memories we shared and how much she means to me, but I am glad that they are my special memories. For a shared moment that day, we were able to really appreciate them like never before.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a great home-cooked meal as a family. My father is one of 6 children, and most all of them are married with children. Almost everyone was in attendance, including some extended relatives that I had not seen since I was a child. The room was filled to capacity with so many faces I had known for so long. Grandma came out to join us for about 3 hours. She seemed to have more energy and was rarely without a smile. After countless toasts to her and the family, we all ate and caught up on life together.

I had not initially planned on telling everyone that I was pregnant yet. I was still so early and it felt inappropriate. But at one point in the evening my aunt Mary, the youngest of the siblings and proclaimed "favorite aunt" (I love them all equally, but shhh) began announcing each of her nieces and nephews by name as her favorite. "Matthew is my favorite and Patrick is my favorite and Lauren and Nicholas are my favorite..." The moment was just too perfect to not speak. I realized that the chance to tell the family in person was a wonderful gift. When she had finished listing all of our names, I announced that she had forgotten someone. Everyone looked around slightly confused and wondering who had been missed. After a pause, I announced that there was one she had not yet met but was coming in May because I am pregnant.

Everyone seemed so elated with this great news, including Grandma. She had wanted to speak about it with the family and now was able to do so freely. It was like a little fresh air had been let in the room. There was a poetic nature to it all as we knowingly said our farewells to Grandma and a new life was being made. Tears welled in my eyes knowing that this little baby, although so tiny, had already brought about such great joy. Just like my Grandmother, who had spread a lifetime of great joy to us all.

Some of the family, my dad talking with Grandma, and the special time of Grandma talking with her grandchildren.

This long trip without Jon that had started off as a seemingly ill-timed venture was now blessedly well-timed and I was thankful that I was able to go to Boston. After the long drive back to Richmond, I spent a couple evenings with my mom. After all the traveling, it felt very good to just sit all snuggled up with her and relax. We had much to talk about. Then I attended a work conference for a week. Every time I had a spare moment, I tried to spend some alone time wandering the streets of the city. The Fall in Richmond is my favorite time of year. I walked under the silver tarnish sky with watercolor leaves at my feet. It was just what I needed.

I decided to spend a fair portion of my trip staying with my dear friends, the Agabas and the Robinsons. They live in a large house together with their children. It is a beautiful, wonderful chaos of life and laughter and food. The hard part about going home is that I am always reminded anew how much I love that city and the friends there. As the theme seems to be, time was too short but I was grateful for every second of it all.

Some highlights from this portion were rejoining my morning prayer group girls for breakfast before work, Thad's 3rd birthday party at Maymont, Simone proclaiming that she thought she could see my baby in my belly button, and the wonderful conversation that happened fire-side with some of my closest girl friends.

When it came time to leave, I met up with Jon's mom and we made the super early morning drive to DC to catch our flight. I started to really feel unsure if I would have the energy to make it through the week of her staying with us and then go to Chicago. All I wanted to do was sleep and hold Jon's hand. The world was whirring like a hummingbird around me and I was watching it all happen. Yet despite everything, I felt an uncharacteristic calm fall over me.

When we arrived in Memphis, Jon was at school and his mom took a nap. I was sitting on the front porch just watching the wind blow through the trees and attempting to absorb it all. Then the phone rang. My grandmother had passed.

To be continued in update 4...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An Overdue Update, Part 2: Finding Out

In case you missed it, here is Update 1.

I woke before my alarm up snuggled in Jon's arms with the chilly morning air drifting in through the window. It seems that Fall had arrived in the past 5 days or so, with the heat of August giving way to the refreshing September cool. There is simply nothing like being snuggled up with Jon for warmth under a fluffy pile of freshly washed sheets and blankets. My alarm was going to beep in 2 minutes, so I just laid there half asleep and breathing deeply the glory of that time.

I reached over to take my basal temperature, as I have done nearly every morning for about 4 and a half years. It beeped and I checked the screen. Immediately, my eyes grew wide. It read at the highest temperature I had ever recorded, and I knew that my temperature was somewhat high the day previous as well. My mind started to race, thinking of the possibilities, of being pregnant, of... leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks. While lying in bed, I made the decision to use my last remaining pregnancy test that morning rather than the next when I left. I figured at best, I could have more time to celebrate with Jon in person. I was still 4 days early, so I wasn't hopeful for any good results.

When Jon got up to go shower, I snuck in behind him, grabbed the test out of the bathroom, and hurried to the guest bathroom. A quick second guess was dismissed as I ripped open the package. Too late now. As I washed my hands, I kept glancing back at the little blinking hour glass on the screen. Wait. Wait. Wait. I sat down and waited some more. It seemed to be taking longer than previous tests to display something. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Deep breath. Exhale. I shook my hands frantically and paced back and forth a little. OK OK OK.

I stared at it some more, just to make sure it was real, then put it back in its package. What do I do now? I make coffee and Jon's lunch, of course. Ok. Do I tell him yet? No, not yet. He won't be able to focus at school if I do. Make myself coffee. Wait, can I even have coffee? No? Just wait for now. OHMYGOSH.

For the next few minutes, I fumble with the food in the kitchen. Jon walked in, handsome as always. I wanted to tell him, but I knew that it was not the right time yet. Wait. Wait. Wait. I felt crazy. He notices I am a bit frazzled and asks if I am ok. I said "I feel kind of crazy this morning... do you feel crazy? I feel crazy". He responds with a funny look and says "Nope... bye!"

Once he is down the driveway, I let out a loud combination of a huff and a squeal and even jumped about a little bit because I didn't know what to do with myself. I decided to wash some dishes to try to calm down. I told myself "there is nothing to do about it right now, no action point at 6:45am. Just relax." Yeah, right.

Jon has always worn Vans shoes since he was a little boy. When we first started dating, his family insisted I get a pair and bought me some for Christmas. Jon and his groomsmen even wore Vans in our wedding. Ever since, I have joked with Jon that if I ever got pregnant, I would buy a pair of baby Vans and leave them somewhere for him to find as means of breaking the news.

I make mental plans to go and buy a pair of baby vans at the mall. Freak out. Shake. Breathe. Pray.

I finally settled down enough to go and do my morning devotional. It was so pointed and perfect for that morning. The Word of God is precious. We are gifted what is Christ's. He knows us and our inner workings. He knows me. He knows my baby. That is a powerful thought. Praise God, for he has worked a miracle. Praise God, for he knows the day and hour. Praise God, for he could calm my ridiculously-crazy-freaking-out brain right then and replace it with peace.

I borrowed a friend's car, drove to the mall, and bought the shoes. Then I even found a cheesy yet adorable shirt at Target for our dog Mac that read: "World's #1 Bro". Perfect. At this point, it became nearly impossible to focus on work with a pair of tiny shoes in my house. I tried to focus my energy on packing for my trip. Then the phone rang.

My dad called. He informed me that my grandmother had taken a turn for the worse, and the whole family was reuniting in Boston that weekend to say our farewells. I had known that she was ill, but she had seemed to be doing better. This hit me like a sucker-punch in the gut.

Since my impending travel plans had me flying into DC and taking a train down to Richmond, we decided that it made more sense for my Dad to drive up to DC and pick me up on his way to Boston, then drive to Richmond on Monday for my work conference. All this new information competed in my brain for attention. I fell onto my bed and prayed. I was so thankful when it neared time for Jon to come home from school.

Mac loves Jon. Really, really loves him. Without fail, Mac barks and bounds up to him every time he comes home. With a wagging tail and endless prancing, he displays his affection in the most perfect and loyal way of which only a dog is capable. For this reason, I decided to break the precious news to Jon with Mac. I put him in the new shirt and tied the baby shoes around his collar. We never put clothes on him, but I think he could sense my excitement because he didn't seem to mind.

When Jon walked in the door after school, he was greeted with this:

Jon just stared for a second, then a grin slowly spread across his face and turned into an ear-to-ear beaming smile. He started jumping up and down and hugged me so tight, then pulled back and with teary-eyes asked so sweetly "so... you mean I'm going to be a daddy?!"

We spent the evening celebrating together, told a couple of our closest friends, and fixed a big fancy dinner together. We savored every moment of it, because the next morning, I left for 2 weeks. Saying goodbye was so much harder after such a wonderful evening.

The next morning, I hopped on a plane for Washington, DC. The time alone on the plane gave me time to really reflect on the fact that this first leg of my trip was already cut short and for such a grave and sobering reason. I began to wonder if I would even make it to Boston in time to say goodbye to my grandmother before she passed. Time felt so short.

To be continued in update #3...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An Overdue Update, Part 1: Big Decisions

Up until now, I have not had the time, words, or motivation to update since our beach trip in July. Shortly after that post, school began for Jon and our roommate Corey, work picked up in intensity for me, and I was traveling all over the place. For the sake of length, I'll break this up into smaller posts as a LOT has happened in the past 4 months.

While at the beach and finally relaxing, Jon and I got back from our runs and had the conversation. The big one: are we ready to start trying for a child? The answer for both of us was yes. Teary-eyed, we hugged and laughed and enjoyed the rest of our relaxing beach trip. Yet in the back of my mind, I was preparing for a long haul before being able to get pregnant.

Since I first started going to the doctor, I've been told that it may be very difficult for me to conceive; that I should expect a grueling process with a possibility of intervention. For the sake of keeping this personal and PG-rated, I'll just say that I knew that there were issues beyond my control. I was hopeful, but not overly optimistic. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened for a while.

In the meantime, life moved on at neck-breaking speed. It seemed that our first big decision precipitated many more big decisions shortly after. Everything seemed to be happening at the same time, ready or not.

After some debate about how to proceed, Jon started the year at yet another new school. After budget cuts cost him his job last year, he began teaching 9th grade English at a brand new charter school called MLK Prep. They were taken over by the state and given to a charter, so the stakes are high and the pressure is on. He has been working between 70-80 hours a week. He is at school for 9 hours and then comes home to do all the grading, lesson planning, copying, creating worksheets and tests, as well as all the other administrative tasks. Those hours add up quickly. I know many people think teachers have it easy with the long breaks, but they usually work throughout the breaks. It's a grueling job, but Jon still loves teaching.

In other exciting news, we bought a motorcycle! My dad has always had a love of motors from when he was a little boy. I grew up with him always either tinkering in the garage on his motorcycles or out in the garden. This fascination is apparently contagious, because Jon caught it over time. When my dad mentioned that he was working on fixing up an old '78 Honda, Jon became very interested.

We now are the owners of a beautiful 1978 Honda CB550.

After we made the purchase, we joked around saying "wouldn't it be terrible if the car died now". We only had one car and opted for a motorcycle instead of a second car. It seemed the most economical choice and allowed me the opportunity to have a car during the day while Jon rode the motorcycle to school. But, as Murphy's Law would have it, Jon got into a car accident.

A young girl made a left in front of Jon without yielding at a very dangerous intersection. Jon slammed right into her. Our car was totaled, but thankfully, no one was hurt.

To make things more complicated, I was about to leave on a trip back home for 2 weeks without Jon.
The need to find a car was pressing, so the new car search began right away. After many days and miles of searching, we found the exact car we wanted at an unbeatable deal: a new 2014 Ford Focus hatchback with all the right accessories for the price of a used car. It just happened to still be in the factory in Michigan being constructed and was being shipped to Birmingham, Alabama. That's about 4 hours away from Memphis. It would not be ready for pick-up until after I had left town. Eek!

As I packed for my trip home, I became increasingly aware of the fact that Jon and I have never spent this much time apart. I knew I was going home for a work conference, but also to see family and friends that I so rarely get to see anymore. It only dawned on me two days before I left that I might just be pregnant this time, but would not be reliably able to test until I left. I began to get anxious.

Continued in update 2...
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