Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Twenty Seven Weeks: 6.15 - 6.21

Hello, third trimester!  :)  I can't believe that in only 3 shorts months Eli will be here!  And, the weeks just seem to get busier and go faster!  Dear Lord help us utilize this short amount of time wisely! 

What was on the Stephens' calendar this week?

Tues: My first Preggo Pedicure! 
Wed: Prenatal Massage -- and I was especially lucky this time to have two massage therapist work on me at one time.  Seriously!  I was in heaven.  How did I get this lucky?  My usual therapist had a cancellation and wanted to to join in our session to learn the other therapists' techniques.  Needless to say I was I happy camper.  :)  That night Mike and I had dessert with some friends in LS.  Yummy food and fun times!
Thurs:  My Principal's sending off party at Outback.  :(
Fri: I had lunch with a teacher friend, Alyssa, and her 3 month old baby boy.  I had a blast asking "what to expect" questions and seeing first hand what I get to look forward to 6 months from now!  Then I headed over to Longview to lay out with another teacher friend, Stephanie.  Gorgeous pool and good times!  That night we celebrated Father's Day for my dad and Mike too.  We grilled kabobs at our house and then went to a free 60's and 70's era concert in down town LS.  My mom and dad loved the music and Mike and I enjoyed the company!
My father and I, don't we look alike?

Mike, me and Eli!
Mike's "Daddy-to-Be" Father's Day gift :)

Father's Day gifts from Eli :)
Sat: Mike and I headed to NKC to visit friends of ours, Jyl and Connor, at their pool.  The weather was gorgeous and the company was even better!  The 100 proof sun screen I bought worked too - after 4 hrs in the sun I usually would be toasted but I didn't even get red! 
Sun: Mike played a full round of golf while I stayed home and did housework. This next weekend will be his 4th in a row of playing golf with friends.  Lucky him right?  I'm happy that he is able to play a sport he is so passionate about and still be able to walk the next week --Mike has a bum knee and can't play sports that require too much physical exertion because he'd be in so much pain afterwards.  He says he needs to get his golf  "fix" in this summer before Eli comes because he won't be able to play as much once we have kids...  We'll see about that!  :)
Mon: Nebraska Furniture Mart dropped of our old, but new couch.  Old because it is the same one we've had and new because it is new.  Our $80.00 warranty sure paid off.  After four years it was beginning to look and feel a little raggedy.  But, now it is back to its new state -- firm and pet stain free --  I'm happy we did this before Eli. 

Baby Milestones this Week: Eli's lungs are going through some major developments these days, which (combined with the opening of previously plugged nostrils) means he's now able to practice inhaling and exhaling. The lack of air in my womb means every "breath" is filled with amniotic fluid, but hey -- it's progress.

Best Moment of the Week: My first professional pedicure since October 2008.  Wow, was it great!  My pedicurist, Angela, works at the same salon that I go to get my hair done: Sei Bella in Lee's Summit.  She was amazing!  It was very relaxing and my toes look so good!  I scheduled another appointment for the day before we leave for Louisiana.  I figure I can pamper myself during my third trimester, right ladies? 

Obsessions this Week:  Making to-do lists.  I've decided I need a pre-baby bucket list.  On it will be the usuals: cleaning, organizing, take classes, etc. as well as some personal things I'd like to do with Mike before baby such as: take Sammie to the dog park at least once a week, go to a water park and ride the lazy river all afternoon, have a picnic just the two of us, play a full round of golf together, read scriptures each night before we head to bed, and have Mike plan one last romantic date night for us.  This is just a start... 

Symptoms this Week:  Braxton Hicks Contractions.  I had just gotten an email from stating that sometime in the next couple of weeks I would experience these.  And, sure enough, on Sunday while out to eat with Mike and my sister I noticed that my belly contracted and felt extremely hard.  I had both of them feel my rock-hard (literally) abs, oops, I mean bump!  Then a few minutes later my belly was back to normal.  According to, these contracts have nothing to do with labor (thank goodness!) and it is just my uterus practicing for the big day! 

Epiphany this Week:  Telling someone you believe in them is powerful.  This week I found out my amazing principal is leaving SLMS to take on a HS principal position in the district.  Not only was this a complete surprise but also very devastating to me.  I've worked under two principals in my short career and I can not even begin to explain how awesome it is to work under someone who is constantly lifting you up -- that is what my principal at SLMS did for me.  On Thursday, our staff met at Outback Steak House to send her off with well wishes.  It was a good time and, before I left, I was able to express to her how much she has meant to me the past three years.  But, when I got into my car to drive home I unexpectantly broke down and called Mike barely able to speak because I was so choked up.  All I could say was that she believed in me and I don't know if I'll ever work under another principal who will be able to encourage me the way she did.  Fortunately, Mike was able to calm me down so I could drive home safely.  :)  My principal believed in me and because of that I am a better, more confidant teacher.  This "epiphany" has made me realize how important it for me to believe in my students and even more important to believe in Eli.  I hope I can instill in him the confidence and courage to dream big and accomplish his goals. 

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  My parents bought a 4.5ft deep and 34ft round pool for our family to enjoy during the hot summers here in MO.  I can't remember a time in my life that my parents did not have a pool (except for the last couple of years) and growing up I had the best times swimming in them.  I could (and, still can) spend all day in the pool.  I hope little Eli loves the water as much as I do!  I can't wait to put him in his little trunks next summer and splash around in the pool with him.  But for now, me and my big belly will enjoy the water and sunshine.  Thanks mom and dad for the free (for us) entertainment!

Week 27 Belly Pics:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Twenty Six Weeks: 6.8 - 6.14

As I approach the end of my first trimester I am feeling more and more anxious (good and bad) about the arrival Eli Michael.  I know I've said this before but lately the feelings have intensified; a large part of me is so excited to finally meet my son.  To see his precious face, to give him lots of hugs and kisses, to cuddle and hold him, to breastfeed him, to nurture and to love him.  However, a smaller (and more selfish) portion of me is not wanting to give up my life as I know it.  The Friday nights spent on the couch with Mike, the shopping dates with Libby, the mid-afternoon visits to my parents house, the fact the Sammie sleeps next to me every night, the on-the-fly dinner with friends...  Don't get me wrong: I know that Eli will bring an amount of love to my life that I didn't even know I could have (he already has) and I'm so excited for his "birth" day.  I'm just hoping that the next three months are filled with all the things I mentioned above and that Mike and I never forget what it was like when it was just the two of us. 

Lots of stuff happening this week.

1.  On Saturday, Mike and I painted Eli's room the cutest sky blue.  I love it!  It compliments his bedding set quite well.  By the way, Mike and I compromised on Eli's bedding.  I wanted something bright with cute animals.  Mike was set on a sports theme and he leaned more towards neutral colors.  So we ended up with a bright, sports themed room.  We both adore it and the other day Mike said, "Did you shut Eli's door?"  It truly has become his room.

In progress.  Mike rolled and I trimmed -- we're a good team!

Finished product.  :) I will post more pictures of the nursery when it is complete.
2.  Over the weekend I signed us up for three classes given at our hospital:

a. Childbirth Preparation - consists of two consecutive Saturday session 4 hours each.  Mike and I are signed up to go Saturday, August 6th and 13th.  Hopefully we aren't pushing it to close to Eli's due date which is September 19th.  ???

b. Baby Basics 101 - consists of one 3 hour session.  We are signed up for the evening of Wednesday, August 10th.  I'm guessing this class will focus on diapering, burping, infant CPR, etc.

c. Breastfeeding - consists of one 2.5 hour class that we will be attending on Monday, August 22nd.  I'm very excited about this class.  Breastfeeding is something that I'm very much looking forward to.  I know it is a lot of hard work but I'm up for the challenge.  I've made a commitment to myself and Eli that I will do whatever it takes to breastfeed him for at least a year.  Mike is very supportive and I can't wait for the bond that will develop between Eli and myself.  Breast is BEST!

3.  On Sunday, Mike and I registered at Babies 'R Us.  We are so blessed to already have been given so much.  Before we went we felt like, what else could we possibly need?  Boy, were we wrong!  Babies 'R Us has a list of things you will need for your baby and man-o-man is it long!  This is why the baby industry makes billions of dollars a year.  Do we really need things like wiper warmers or 10 different types of rattles?  Probably not.  How did our grandparents survive with out all the neat gadgets we have for our babies today?  I try to remind myself that Eli doesn't have to have everything to be a happy, healthy baby but it is hard not to get caught up in a store like Babies 'R Us and want to buy everything in front of you. :)  Even though we were really overwhelmed we enjoyed ourselves and look forward to seeing what we might get at our future showers.

4. On Monday we received a package in the mail from Mike's Oma addressed to Eli Stephens.  This is his first official piece of mail!  Inside was the most adorable blanket that she made for Eli.  She wrote him the cutest little note telling him that she made it with much love and excitement and that she hopes it keeps him warm during his first winter.  Thank you so much Oma!  Eli is so blessed to have a great-grandma (and grandpa) who loves him so much.  I was blessed to have had my Great-Grandma Ockee until I was 18 and I have the warmest, fondest memories of her.  The love she gave me will resonate in my life forever and I know Eli will have similar thoughts of you!

How precious!

5. I had my Glucose Tolerance Test taken on Monday as well.  And, boy did it put me out!  Talk about a plunge in energy!  Sammie and I enjoyed a nice three hour nap afterwards.  Turns out I do NOT have gestational diabetes.  :)  However, my doctor forgot to have me test for anemia so I had to go back the next day.  Pricks in two different arms - boo!

Baby Milestones this Week: Eli's soaking up my antibodies, getting his immune system ready for life outside the womb. Eyes are forming, and he'll soon be practicing the blink...perfect for batting those freshly grown lashes.

Best Moment of the Week: Imagining Eli wrapped in the blanket his great-grandma AKA Oma "O" made for him!

Obsessions this Week:  Watching my stomach bounce around while Eli moves.  I may have said this before but, he can even move my laptop if I'm leaning it on my belly while working.  He is going to be a strong boy!

Symptoms this Week:  Heart burn!  I have never had heart burn before so I don't think I knew what I was experiencing the first couple of times I had it.  But, I've begun notice that after I eat (especially anything unhealthy) that I get this burning sensation in my upper chest and even towards my throat.  It isn't very pleasant.  However, I've heard the more heart burn you have the more hair the baby will have.  Not sure if this is true?  Anyone have a testimonial to share?

Epiphany this Week: Summertime and the livings easy.  Not!  I have been SO busy this summer!  I have not been able to check hardly anything off my summer to-do list.  My days seem to fill up so fast!  Hence the new blog song, Summertime Blues.

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Celebrating Mike's first Daddy-to-Be Father's Day!  Not quite sure what we are doing but I want to make it special for him. 

Week 26 Belly Pics:

*** Make sure to scroll down and view week 25 Belly pics because they have now been added!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hydronephrosis Update

Our level two ultrasound went very well yesterday.  Mike and I agreed that, besides hearing that the condition had cleared up, we got the best news we could have possibly gotten.  Eli's right kidney is still dialated to 10 mm (normal is less than 4mm).  However, everything else looked great.  The Perinatologist looked over everything very carefully - heart, brain, stomach, kidneys, bladder, facial features, ambilical cord, amniotic fluid, measurements of limbs, etc. and he said all was good!  He also said that the placenta was NOT covering my cervix; after I mentioned that the last two ultrasounds showed the placenta was covering my cervix he went ahead and did a vaginal ultrasound just to make sure and he was right -- no placenta previa!  I am very happy about this -- hoping for a healthy vaginal birth on or around September 19th!

He answered all of our questions:

It is concerning that Eli's kidney doubled in size in 4 weeks?  No.

How will the hydronephrosis effect my pregnancy?  Besides, monthly untrasounds -- not at all.

What tests will Eli need after he is born and how soon?  An ultrasound done by a pediatrition before we leave the hospital.  This is usually not considered an emergency condition so Eli will not be wisked away right after birth.  Rather he will stay with Mike and I and at some point before we leave he'll have and ultrasound of his kidneys.  They will probably monitor his kidneys via ultrasound each month to see if the condition is getting better, staying the same, or getting worse.  If the condition does not resolve than he will probably have to have surgery.  The surgery will correct an obstruction in his urethra preventing the flow of urine from his kidney to his bladder sometime during the first year of his life.  There is a 95% success rate in these surgeries.

Will Eli need an operation?  Too soon to tell.

Are there any signs I should watch for that Eli's hydronephrosis may be getting worse?  None that I will be aware of.  However, he wants to do monthly ultrasounds to make sure that there is a healthy amount amniotic fluid present.  Sometimes when a baby has hydronephrosis it can cause a low amount of amniotic fluid.  It is caused by the baby swallowing the fluid which is supposed to get released back into the amniotic sac via urination, however, because the urnine gets backed up in the kidneys it doesn't get released.  A low amount of amniotic fluid is not good for the baby.  In Eli's case, one if his kidneys works just fine so the Perinatologist doesn't forsee this being an issue but just in case we will be seeing him every four weeks.  Our next appointment is July 6th. 

Does Eli have any other Down Syndrome indicators?  No, however the Perinatologist informed us that 1/2 of DS babies have NO indicators at all.  He did say that because Eli had this in early pregnancy that his chance of having DS is increased.  However, only from 1 in 990 to 1 in 660.  I think that is pretty good odds Eli will be born with out DS, don't you?  Mike and I aren't worried at all about DS.  But, if Eli does have DS we will love him just the same -- as all parents would.  We will cherish him and do whatever it takes to ensure him a future of success and happiness in whatever capacity that might be. 

Does this mean I shouldn't travel to Louisiana at 32 weeks?  He doesn't recommend that anyone travel at 32 weeks but he said that Hydronephrosis doesn't cause mothers to go on bedrest or prevent them from traveling.  He said as long as you are okay getting stuck somewhere for the rest of your pregnancy than it is okay to go.  Hmmm....I think I am okay getting stuck in Baton Rouge if that were to happen, or at least I am willing to take my chances!

Would you categorize Eli's hydronephrosis as mild, moderate or severe?  Mild.

Mike and I felt really good after leaving the Perinatologist's office.  We want to thank all our friends and family who have called, texted, messaged, and prayed for us during this difficult time.  You have no idea how much it means to us to know we are in your thoughts and prayers.  I can feel God's peace surrounding us -- let this be a testimony to you that He is answering yours and our prayers.  We serve a gracious, merciful God who loves us more than we can imagine.  Praise Him!

P.S. Mike and I got the cutest picture of Eli yawning! (I will scan and post this later)  It was so cool!  I love him!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Twenty Five Weeks: 6.1 - 6.7

My 25th week of pregnancy has been one of ups and downs. 

Ups: Summer school started and I am surprisingly content after its first week.  Everyday from 7 - noon I get to enjoy the company of 12 teenagers who need to re-take American History.  Fortunately, I only have a couple of students who need an attitude check every now and then.  For the most part, my students are working hard and very respectful.  Thank you Lord! 

The temperature here in KC has been scorchingly HOT.  And, I like it.  Why?  Well, I've always been a fish in the summertime and lately, I've gotten some use out of my new maternity bathing suit.  I finally have some tan lines.  I hope the vitamin D surge is good for baby Eli!

Gifts, gifts and more gifts for baby Eli!  Find out more in the 'Best Moment of the Week' segment!

Downs: Our follow up sonogram showed that the fluid in Eli's right kidney had nearly doubled in amount.  At our last sonogram is read 5.4 mm so he has now graduated from mild unilateral pylectasis to unilateral hydronephrosis.  This means that we will be visiting a Perinatologist (high-risk pregnancy specialist) on Thursday for a level two ultrasound.  These ultrasounds show much more accurate and detailed images.  The Perinatologist should be able to answer our questions and tell us what we can expect from here.  As you can imagine, both Mike and I were very bummed when the tech told us that the conditioned had worsened so quickly.  I held it together at the doctor's office but broke down once I got to the car.  However, it has been one week since then and I am very proud of how well I've been able to keep it together and am again amazed by the peace that the Lord has given me. 

Informative sight on Hydronephrosis:

I haven't been as productive as I planned in my first week of summer.  I sure hope that I get some motivation soon!  I've got a lot to do before Eli comes!

Baby Milestones this Week:  That oh-so-handy sense of equilibrium is kicking in, and Eli's learning to distinguish right side up from upside down.

Best Moment of the Week:  Three way tie!  In chronological order...

A very sweet surprise from a friend I met through my master's cohort.  Her name is Stephanie and we became immediate friends because of our shared love of bulldogs!  She has two of the cutest bulldogs ever -- named Dozer and Lola.  Sammie has had a play date with them and she thought they were great!  Well, this past Friday, Stephanie stopped over to drop off a gift for Eli and Sammie.  Wow, was I surprised!  She made the cutest "Big Sis" collar for Sammie and bought the cutest bulldog outfits for Eli with sizes ranging from NB to 2T.  See below!  Thanks so much Stephanie!  Can't wait for our doggie date!  :)

Stephanie and Sammie!

Sammie's cute new 'Big Sis' Collar!

Lots of bulldog clothing starting with NB size and ending in 2T!  How cute!

My wonderful sister-in-law, Erica sent us the baby swing we registered for (pictured below) and attached was the sweetest note.  She is married to Mike's older brother, Jason, and they have two beautiful children, Taylor and Connor.  We so wish we lived closer to their family so we could watch Tay and Con grow up.  But, we treasure the phone calls when the kiddos say "Hi Auntie Ali" and "Love you Uncle Mike."  Eli has two great cousins to look forward to playing with and befriending as he grows older!  Love and miss you guys! XOXO

And, last but certainly not least, on Tuesday I received a BIG box from my best friend Marybeth who lives in WA.  She had told me that she was sending me a package but I couldn't have imagined how much she was sending.  It took three pictures to capture everything! She and her husband, Adam, have two wonderful sons and Eli gets the privilege to enjoy their hand-me-downs.  And, what great condition they are in!  Marybeth also sent me lots of goodies: bottles, nipples, pacifiers (and wipes), teethers, a dishwasher compartment for baby stuff, a diaper bag, mug and more!  She also sent my parents a grandparent gift!  I am so blessed to have MB in my life; she is my longest friend -- 2nd grade -- and I know our friendship will last a lifetime!  Thanks so much girl!  You don't know how much it means to me!

Obsessions this Week: Spending time with my Sammie girl.  Sammie plays favorites with Mike and I.  She favors whoever is spending more time with her.  So, as you can guess, during the summertime Sammie becomes a momma's girl.  I'll miss the times we lay together and take naps because I know when Eli comes he'll quickly become my number one cuddle partner.  I've also been talking to Sammie about Eli and I'll say you want to give Eli kisses?  And she'll lick my belly if I let her.  She loves her little brother. 

Symptoms this Week:  I've started to notice that I'm getting the linea nigra.  It is the dark line that runs down the center of your belly during pregnancy.  Eli's been moving, moving, moving and I love, love, love it!

Epiphany this Week:  My husband is a busy man.  I always notice this more in the summer when I'm not working as much. Lately, he has been working a lot of hours because he took on a new position at his work (Sr. Financial Analyst) and his previous position has gone unfilled for several weeks.  This means he has worked two jobs for a while now which equates to at least a 60-80 work week (and a lonely wife).  On top of that, he spoke at church the last two Sundays which pretty much consumed his whole weekend (preparation, etc).  I am very proud to be married to such a dedicated, hard worker.  And, trust me, our family has benefited from his perseverance.  However, I hope before September rolls around that his load lightens a little and we are able to spend some quality time together before Eli arrives. 

What I'm looking forward to most next week: Again, I don't necessarily look forward to tomorrow's Perinatal appointment because I'll be quite anxious.  Of course, we are still hoping to hear that somehow it has cleared up on its own but we also want to be realistic.  On the bright side, one more look at our precious, precious Eli.  I'll try to update blog readers soon after tomorrow's visit.

Week 25 Belly Pics: