Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twenty Four Weeks: 5.25 - 5.31

The last week of school for teachers is bitter-SWEET.  It is bitter because you are saying goodbye to a group of kids whom you have grown very close to.  You've watched them grow, learn and mature.  And, for 7th grade teachers you welcomed them into your classroom as children and you are watching them leave as  little adults.  It is SWEET (and, do notice that I capitalized sweet because it is more sweet than bitter) because for most educators you get the next 75 days of your life free from the stresses of teaching, free from waking up to an alarm, and free from any and all after school planning, grading, etc!  (Unfortunately, for me this won't become a reality until July 9th when sumer school is over). This year, like all other years, I became anxious.  I always feel a loss saying goodbye to my kids.  My intrinsic self questions such as whether or not I cheated my kids out of something they needed: better instruction, more one-on-one time, a closer relationship?  Then the last day of school, I read my year book which was filled with "You are the best SS teacher EVER!"  and "I will NEVER forget you!" and "You're class made me think about my choices." and "Good luck with your son!" And, I was relieved knowing that even though I could have done better-- as we always can -- I DID make a difference in my students' lives.  Mike and I plan on sending Eli to public schools.  I believe in public education.  My hope and prayer for Eli is that his teachers care more about him than they do their curriculum.  Teachers who genuinely care about their students are the best teachers. 

Week 24 ended with Memorial Day.  Mike and I would like to say thank you to all of our family members, friends, and everyone else who has served and is serving our country.  We understand that our freedom rests on your shoulders and are so grateful for your sacrifice.  Sunday we celebrated with my family at my sister and her husband's house in Grain Valley.  They made us a tasty taco supper and we enjoyed playing Wii bowling after dinner.  I won!  I think Eli must be a good luck charm for me!  Aunt Libby surprised us once again with more gifts for baby boy -- lots of cute onsies and even a couple pairs of shoes!  Then, on Monday morning Mike and I put together Eli's crib, dresser, and changing table.  The nursery makes this whole experience even more real.  :)  Later that day we went to my parents house for a cook out and then we took the dogs to Lone Jack lake for a little swim and boy-oh-boy did Sammie have the time of her life.  Can't wait to see Eli in his little life jacket!  But, I'm sure he's having fun wading around in his amniotic fluid for the time being!

I love the water! 

Thank God for life jackets!

Baby Milestones this Week: Eli's skin is becoming more opaque as the fat starts to pack on. And, thanks to the formation of small capillaries, his newly thick skin is taking on a fresh pink glow.

Best Moment of the Week: Well, after much anticipation, Mike finally felt little Eli kick!  It wasn't a huge kick but a kick it was!  Mike loves to talk to baby Eli and give him tummy kisses at night.  :)

But wait, what else could make the "best moment of the week," segment of my blog?  Mike's parents, who will be Opa and Oma to Eli, sent him LOTS of good stuff that arrived this week! (See all the goodies below!)  Wow!  Mike and I are floored by the generosity of his parents.  They are loving Eli so much already!  He's a lucky little guy!  We so wish we all lived closer.  Thank you Lord for the Stephens Family!


Thank you Oma and Opa, Love Eli  :)

Obsessions this Week: Wearing Mike's T's!  They may not be the most flattering but, oh my, are Mike's T-shirts so much more comfortable than my own right now!  I've even got a favorite that I've been wearing all week to bed -- which I'm wearing in this weeks belly pics!.  Glad he's okay with me stealing his clothes.  I just hope that I won't get to the point of borrowing his jeans or, God forbid, shoes!  Ha!

Symptoms this Week: Continued sacrum pain, leg cramps, and perhaps, the biggest symptom: a slightly uncontrollable appetite. :o)

Epiphany this Week:  Eli's got so many people who love him.  God is so good.

What I'm looking forward to most next week: Our check up ultrasound on Wednesday.  I guess I have mixed emotions about our appointment because I'm so excited to get to see him wiggle around in my belly again but I know the reason we have to go is because his little kidney could need some extra TLC after he is born.  Don't get me wrong, I've surprised myself on how positive I have been able to be the last 3 weeks.  I know God is in control and I know He has a perfect plan for Elijah, which by the way means 'God is Lord'.  Our hope is that we go in to our appointment and the doctor says, "His kidney is back to normal!" but I also am trying to be realistic that he could very well still have pyelectasis and it could possibly be worse.  Either way, we're deciding to trust in the awesome God we so love.

Week 24 Belly Pics:


Friday, May 27, 2011

Twenty Three Weeks 5.18 - 5.24

A very eventful week at the Stephens' household!  The most exciting news is.....drum roll please......Baby Stephens is officially Baby Eli!  Well, 99% official.  But, official enough to make this announcement.  We will be welcoming Elijah Michael Stephens sometime in mid September!  We plan on calling him Eli the majority of the time.  How cute right?  Can't wait to meet him!

So..what did Eli get to do this week?  He played his first round of golf with Daddy, went on his first bike ride, and bowled a 136 at Aunt Libby's birthday party!  He also helped daddy paint the garage.  All while in the warmth and comfort of mommy's tummy of course!  :)



Other exciting news:  Mike and I booked tickets to New Orleans on July 20th (my 27th birthday).  It will be a pre-wedding celebration, best friends reunion, and baby moon wrapped up in one trip!  We will be meeting my best friend, Carrie and her hubby, Tyler  in N.O. and then traveling to Baton Rouge to my other best friend's, Katrina and her fiance, Rufus' house.  I can't wait!!!  I will be 32 weeks (beginning of my 8th month) pregnant.  Hopefully I will be feeling as a good as I do now! 

Baby Milestones this Week: Eli's little face is fully formed...minus the baby fat, of course. The next task at hand for Eli: sprouting two teeny-tiny nipples! 

Best Moment of the Week: On Monday night Mike and I drove out to my parents' house to pick up a bike Mike wanted to get from my dad.  While we were visiting, my mom got to feel baby Eli kick!  And it was a big kick too!  The three of us (Mom, baby and me) very much enjoyed the experience!  Now, when is this baby going to kick when Mike's hands are on my tummy???  Soon I hope!

Obsessions this Week: Watermelon!  I've eaten 3 watermelons this week!  Yes, by myself.  I've always loved the fruit but right now I'm crazy for it!

Symptoms this Week:  Sacrum pain!  I had some pretty horrible pains near my tailbone on the right side.  At times, I could barely sit down or get up (stabbing - type pains).  All I can say is thank God for Chiropractors!  A couple of visits and I feel much better!  And, I think it is safe to say I'm to the point of the  'weekly' massage.  :)

Epiphany this Week:  It takes a strong woman to mother and teach!  I have no idea how I am going to juggle being a mother and teaching.  This past week has been so busy, as the end of the school year always is.  (Hence, why this blog post is so late!) I've barely been able to keep my house clean.  It has made me a little nervous for next year.  Mike encouraged me to resign from Student Council but I've already resigned from cheerleading and I'm not sure how much more money we can afford to cut out of my paycheck -- especially considering we aren't getting a raise for the 3rd year in a row and I won't be getting the $4,000.00 I was expecting for my masters. So, I think I will continue to sponsor StuCo.  I have a new found respect for my mother who taught while raising my sister and I.  She was also able to keep our house clean and make dinner every night.  How did you do it mom?  I hope I can be a supermom like you! 

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  SUMMER VACATION! :)  Minus the 6 weeks of summer school I'll be teaching -- I will survive, right?

Week 23 Belly Pics:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Twenty Two Weeks 5.11 - 5.17

Mike and I have had a lot of fun saying lots of "he's" this week!  He is moving.  He is going to be so handsome.  He is so loved!  The fact that we are really having a he has sunk in -- and we're loving it!  Now, the only question is: will he have red or blonde hair?  I'm thinking blonde.  A cute little blondie boy.  However, red would be perfect too!  I always wanted a red head baby but Mike has told me he didn't like growing up with red hair.  He experienced a little bit of name calling -- which is never fun when you are a young child/adolescent.  So, it has made me rethink the whole red head thing but in my heart of hearts I still want one.  :)  I LOVE Mike's red hair and I will LOVE my son's hair color no matter what it is.

Besides the bliss of knowing about our son this week has been a busy, but really good week especially if you were to compare it to last week.  Last week was, perhaps, the worst week of my life.  I felt very sad at the possibility of our son having a condition that would negatively effect his health.  I became a little obsessive and felt completely alone.  Everyone, including Mike, kept saying, "I'm sure he'll be perfectly fine."  Yet, I wondered how are they so sure?  No one really knows what the outcome of his pyelectasis will be!  I am his mother and I have a right to worry about him!  Finally, the weekend came and I was so busy that I didn't have much time to think about much of anything!  Then, I heard a story on KLOVE (a Christian radio  network) about a mother who gave birth in her twenty-something-th week to a 1 lb 3 oz baby girl.  Her first words to a friend were, "This is part of God's perfect plan."  Broke my heart.  Shortly after the birth, her story continued by finding out she was very sick and that it was a blessing that the baby came so early in order for the doctors to begin treatment on her.  Today, mom and baby are both fine.  After hearing about this mother's faith in our awesome God I decided that if my son has pyelectasis then it is part of God's perfect plan for his life.  God is completely in control and loves my son more than I can even imagine.  Ever since, I have had a wonderful peace enter my soul.  Thanks for the prayers everyone!!

The week ended with my older sister turning the big 3-0!  I hosted a party for her and her besties and I have to say it was a success!  We all had such a great time ringing in Lib's 4th decade on this earth!  :)  The highlight of the party was definitely dancing at Funky Town.  Funky Town is a night club in Raytown, MO and is known for playing music from the 60's, 70's, and 80's.  We had blast getting "funky" to the music on the dance floor.  Yes, me and my big belly were out shaking it on the dance floor!  The May 17th post shows a picture book I put together to remember the celebration -- check it out!



I feel like I finally look pregnant!  Yay!

Baby Milestones this Week: He is settling into sleep cycles, snoozing about 12 to 14 hours a day.  I can definitely tell when he is awake and when he is asleep. 



Best Moment of the Week:   Last Tuesday my wonderful team mates threw me an incredible baby shower at my school!  It was so much fun and so cute!  I am still amazed by the generosity of my co-workers!  We got so many great gifts!  I can't wait until my little cutie gets to use them all! 

As guests entered they had the choice of picking up a pink teddy bear cut out or a blue teddy bear cut out to guess the gender of our little one.  Then, they put their name on the teddy bear -- if they guessed right they got a jeans pass (which, if you teach, you know how great those are!).  Then my teamies each cut into the cutest and tastiest cakes (from Pat-A-Cake Bakery in LS) to reveal the blue frosting!  Those that choose a blue teddy bear were happy! 

The guests then played a fun unscramble the baby words game and Mike and I began to open presents -- and, boy were there a lot of them!  We enjoyed every moment of it!  See all the fun pictures by clicking the link below:

https://picasaweb.google.com/111091684879386554756/BabyShower?authkey=Gv1sRgCKKF5oTurqCbkwE#

Team 7 Blue!

Obsessions this Week:  Showing off my baby bump!  Now that I look pregnant, why not show off my growing belly!  No one is going to mistake this bump for a muffin top!  In fact I had my first stranger ask when I was due.  I have to say it is kind of nice not to have to suck in while wearing tight clothing!  I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Symptoms this Week:  About every other week or so I get a bout of nausea in the morning.  I guess this was the week  -- it always happens after I get out of the shower and then I throw up whatever liquid is still left in my stomach for about 2-3 minutes.  I guess you could call this lingering morning sickness and hey, if this is all I have to deal with than I consider myself lucky. 

Epiphany this Week:  This baby boy has got some dance moves!  While I was getting down on the dance floor on Saturday night so was he!  It was so fun to feel his little kicks -- made the whole experience that much more enjoyable!  Now -- in reality -- if he gets my "rhythm" genes he will have no moves at all and will just have to get over it like I have and let loose in order to have fun dancing! 

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Can I just say that I only have 7 more school days left until summer break???  Yay!  However, I can't be as excited as other teachers because I will still have 6 weeks of summer school.  :(  At least, we are out by noon.  My game plan is to bring NO school work home and spend the rest of the day preparing for baby boy while hanging out with my Sammie girl.

Week 22 Belly Pics:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Twenty One Weeks 5.3 - 5.10

IT'S A BOY!!!  Mike and I are incredibly overjoyed now that we know we are going to have a son!  A son!  A little boy who is going to grow up to be just like his daddy -- handsome, strong, intelligent, respectful and, most importantly, Godly.  Speaking of God -- He is so good.  Can I get an "Amen!"?  In the process of becoming a mother I've grown closer to God, perhaps selfishly.  I want God to bless my pregnancy and the health of my child and I have no doubt in His ability to do this.  He has proven Himself to be faithful time and again in our journey to pregnancy as well as the last 21 weeks.  And so, God has allowed my desire to have a happy, healthy child to grow into a deeper faith in Him. 

Our mid-term sonogram experience was very joyful.  After arriving a bit late to my doctors office, we were in the sonogram room within a couple of minutes.  I know what you are thinking -- when does that every happen?  Right?  We were both so anxious.  Were we having a girl or a boy???  The suspense was killing us!  The ultrasound technician asked as right away if we wanted to know the gender and of course, we said yes.  The gel went on the belly and Mike and I were in utter bliss for 15 minutes.  Almost right away she was able to get a good picture of his genitals and said, "This is the scrotum and this is the penis."  Mike and I were smiling from ear to ear.  I asked, "How sure are you?"  She said, "100 percent."  And, it was pretty obvious to Mike and I as well.  :)  Alas, we are having a baby boy!  Our technician then continued to take lots of measurements, most of which we couldn't even tell what she was looking at but we didn't mind -- we were too happy to care.  A really neat one was of his little heart.  You could see the blood pumping in and out of it!  His heartbeat was 141.  After a few more minutes of measurements, she informed us that our baby had a little extra fluid in his right kidney (a condition called mild unilateral pyelectasis).  She said it was nothing to worry about and that we would schedule another sonogram to monitor it.  At first, I was excited that I wouldn't have to wait 20 more weeks to see my son again -- this did not last for long.  The u/s tech then gave us some really cute profile shots and Mike and I fell in love.  Our son is so cute!  Mike thinks he has my nose.  :o)  Before the sonogram was over, I asked about the position of my placenta and found out that I do have placenta previa which means that a portion of my placenta is covering my cervix.  Most likely scenario is that it will grow up away from my cervix as my uterus gets bigger.  Worst case scenario is that I will have to have a C-section.  Obviously, the prior is what I am hoping for but you got to do what you got do!  And, thank the Lord for modern medicine.

Some pics of from the ultrasound - I didn't scan them, just took a picture of them with our camera so they aren't as clear but enjoy!





After the sonogram was over we got to chat with my doctor for a few minutes.  I've gained a total of 6 lbs, and, our little boy makes up 15 ounces of that!  My blood pressure has always been good and my doctor seemed to have no concerns with the extra fluid in his kidney and told us that they would perform another sonogram to monitor it in four weeks.  If you know me or if you have been following my posts, you know I am a worrier.  However, I think some amount of worrying just comes with being a mother.  I asked the doctor if I should be concerned about his kidney and she said absolutely not.  Mike and I left the doctors office on cloud nine!  We were having a son!  We immediately went to buy a couple of baby boy outfits.  Mike picked out one that read, "Daddy's Little Champ" and I got one that said, "Mommy's Mr. Fix it."  :)  That night I chaperoned my middle school's dance and I couldn't help but smile at all the boys who had gelled their hair and dressed in collared shirts (that they had sprayed a little too much cologne on!) all to impress their crushes-- thinking I'm going to have one of these in thirteen years!


BUT. Did I take my doctor's advice?  No!  I did what I always do and researched until I had worried myself into a frenzy.  During my research I tried to stick to medical journals instead of reading threads written by mothers-to-be who were also worried for their little ones.  In my research I found that many cases of mild pyelectasis resolve before birth or during the child's first year.  However, some of my findings were very concerning such as the need for neonatal surgical intervention, renal failure after birth and the presence of pyelectasis being a soft indicator of down syndrome.  These scenarios are not likely but still are very hard to swallow.  I decided to call my doctor on Monday to ask some more questions about the diagnosis.  I asked if our son had any other indicators of DS and she said no -- so right now our odds are 1 in 600 (as opposed to 1 in 1200 for most women my age).  She informed us that his kidney was dilated to 5.4mm (anything over 4mm is considered mild pyelectasis).  She then reiterated that I should not be worrying and that his level was actually in the high range of what they consider normal.  I felt a lot better after speaking to her.   But this didn't last for long either.  I continued and still continue to worry.  It is hard for me to sleep at night.  It is hard for me to not think about all the possible negative outcomes.  I feel like I've shifted from pregnancy bliss to a roller coaster of pregnancy worries.  I keep telling myself that all this worrying isn't doing anything positive for my son, myself or my husband -- who has to deal with my daily break downs.  Which God bless him for staying very positive and constantly reminding me that God is in charge of this situation and worrying won't change anything.  Mike is trusting in the Lord and I am thankful for that.  Like I said earlier God has been faithful to us.  I worried when we weren't getting pregnant -- we prayed -- I got pregnant.  I worried when I got bit by a tick -- we prayed -- the infection went away.  I am worrying now -- we are praying now -- our baby will be healthy.  I know this.  I also know that God gives us trials to increase our faith and reliance on Him.  I know that God wants me to run to Him instead of the Internet.  This is especially hard for me but I am looking forward to the blessing will come from this.  God will once again show his awesome faithfulness to us and whatever the outcome we will glorify Him.  For more information on pyelectasis you can visit these sites:


http://www.childrensmemorial.org/depts/fetalhealth/pyelectasis.aspx - overview


http://www.fetalultrasound.com/online/text/9-048.HTM - medical studies


http://www.babycrowd.com/forums/special_needs/Fetal_Pyelectasis/ - mommy chat room - lots of positive outcomes


On a more positive note:


This week was Mother's Day and even though technically I am not quite a mother yet, I felt like a mom.  I mean, I do have a 1lb baby boy doing somersaults in my tummy!  My family must have thought so too because my parents, sister and Mike all got gifts for the mommy-to-be: me!  On Saturday, we all got together for dinner to celebrate my wonderful mother.  We had a good time together -- and it was wonderful to actually be with my mom on Mother's Day -- the first time in 8 years!  I'm glad we were able to make her feel loved because this was the first Mother's Day with out her mom, my grandma.  I can't begin to explain how wonderful my grandmother was.  She was the nicest, kindest, most loving, most thoughtful grandma on the face of the earth.  I know my son will have two grandma's like this and it makes me feel so blessed. 










Baby Milestones this Week: Baby boy's digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion, and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth.






Best Moment of the Week: Team Blue!  Finding out we are having a son was almost as good as finding out we were pregnant.  :)  The next question is, "Do you have any names picked out?"  Well, Mike and I are definitely leaning towards one but will wait to announce until we know for sure.  It is cute - promise!


Obsessions this Week: Researching pyelectasis. 


Symptoms this Week:  Nocturnal leg cramps.  Ouch!  These come on in the middle of night when I stretch my legs and man, do they hurt!  It feels like someone is stabbing my calves!  I've learned to try to stretch my feet slowly the other way and it helps to relieve the pain.  My doc says to start drinking more water -- so gulp, gulp here I come!


Epiphany of the Week:  Boys clothes just aren't as cute but boys are just as cute!  I've loved seeing baby boys when I'm out and about.  One even had red hair.  Melt!  They are so precious and so cute -- just as cute as girls.  I've also been looking at a picture of Mike when he was about a year old this week.  He was such a cute baby boy!  I'm going to have a little Mike in 19 weeks! 




What I'm most looking forward to next week:  Blogging about the awesome baby shower my team threw for me.  I have the most generous staff and can't wait to upload shower pictures to the blog!  I am so thankful for my wonderful team mates and to work at the BEST middle school in MO!


Week 21 Belly pics:







I'm getting big!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Twenty Weeks 4.27 - 5.2

It is finally here -- the half way point!  Yay!  Today I have been pregnant for 140 days and I have 140 days until my due date!  Unbelievable.  I am thrilled to reach this milestone in pregnancy -- but 140 days seems like an eternity to wait in order to meet our precious baby!  Oh, I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  When Mike and I found out that we were pregnant I was so thrilled but I was also very glad that we had another eight months just the two of us.  That being said, the further I get into my pregnancy the more anxious I am for the arrival of our little bundle of joy!  You'll be glad to know that I am still enjoying Mike and I's "just the two of us" time; it is just hard to hold back the excitement!

It has been a cloudy, cool week here in KC -- hopefully May will bring some sun and warmer weather to us Missourians.  Besides the weepy weather, I had another reason to pout this week .  No cell phone.  Thank goodness I was born in the 20th century because I'm not sure I could go longer than a week with out my iphone.  It is my connection to the my husband, family, friends, email, news, FB, and more.  This is not the first time I've lost my cell phone; about a year ago I misplaced my Sprint Centro which actually turned out to be a blessing because I got to jump on my in-laws family plan and receive my beloved iphone and unlimited data package.  This time is different though -- I can't even blame it on pregnancy.  Mike and I are sure that my phone is in our home -- somewhere.  We both saw it (and, I used it) Sunday morning before we left for church and we know I didn't take it with us because the first thing I did on the way to church was grab for my phone in my purse and it wasn't there, so I figured I left it at home and we would find it when we got back.  Boy, was I wrong!  After 20 hours of searching (home, car, purse) Mike and I gave up and resigned to the fact that I was just going to have to get a new one.  A very depressing day.  So, I'll be sending a FB message out asking for your phone numbers soon!  I hope the baby gets Mike's keen organizational skills and not my absentmindedness.  :)

Baby Milestones This Week: Baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid every day, both for nutrition and to practice swallowing and digesting. And, these days, those taste buds actually work! Studies show that after birth, babies respond best to tastes they've already had via amniotic fluid.





Best Moment of the Week:  Mike and I have a check list of home improvement to-do's we'd like to get accomplished before baby.  We got to check two items off our list on Saturday.  #1 - the installation of an over the tank vanity in the bathroom.  #2 - new smoke alarm and paint touch up.  Yay for us!

Obsessions this Week:  Getting organized.  In my search for my cell phone I started to clean and organize (which if I'm in the right mood is actually quite fun for me).  The more I cleaned the more I organized and it spurred a whole week of cleaning and organizing.  I know it is too early to be "nesting" but I do desire to make an orderly home for my husband and children.  Hopefully I can keep this up when the baby arrives.  One website I love to use is flylady.com.  She has some really good tips about how to get started and stay organized!  Thank you flylady!

Symptoms this Week:  Waxing and Waning belly.  One day I feel huge and the next day I swear I wake up with a flat belly.  Today at school you would have had no clue that I'm nearly five and a half month pregnant.  Tomorrow will be a different story.  I'm sure it all has to do with how much I've eaten and so forth. 

Epiphany this Week:  Baby items are expensive!  Mike and I registered at Target for a baby shower my team is throwing me at school on May 10th (so sweet of them!).  Wo!  So much to choose from and so pricey as well!  I'm just going to throw this out there -- hand-me-downs are welcomed in the Stephens household!  :)  A baby may be expensive but so, so worth it! 

What I am looking forward most for next week:  I'm sure you can all guess this one!  It is find out the baby's gender week -- Friday at 4:30 to be precise!  Soooo exciting! Pink or blue?  Our poll shows that 43% of you think it will be a boy, 48% a girl, and 7% are undecided.  Next week, you'll get to see if you were right! 

Either way, Mike and I will be thrilled!  And, then on to nursery colors and baby clothes shopping!  :)

Belly pics:


And, one with Sammie and her little brother or sister!