Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bests and Worsts -- First Week

This (almost) first week of motherhood is coming to a close, and I find myself reflecting on the bests and worsts of life with Tracey Ann.

I'm going to start with the worsts because it's better to end on the good notes.


There are certainly parts of motherhood that I like less than others, but, even including labor and delivery, this week has only had one WORST moment as a mama.  The pediatrician is watching Tracey's bilirubin levels closely and so this week has included several trips to the pediatrician's office, and several blood tests for Tracey Ann.  Tracey is certainly not a fan of getting her blood drawn, but she is such a good baby, and a little trooper.  She only cries when something is wrong, and then she stops crying as soon as we fix it.  The same has been true with her blood tests... she'll squirm a little and let out a few cries when they're squeezing her heel, but she has been wonderful.

That was, until yesterday, when different nurses drew her blood and the ordeal lasted over ten minutes.  They had to prick her heel twice, they squeezed and squeezed and squeezed her little leg and heel and foot, and our poor little girl cried the entire time.  I have never heard this cry before -- her sweet little newborn cries have been almost little squawks, and as soon as the problem is solved, her cries are gone.  Yesterday, while they were drawing blood, she was crying so hard that she was screaming, and then coughing.  It was absolutely the WORST moment of motherhood, if not my life, thus far.  The pains of labor had nothing on the pain of my cradling my baby girl, knowing that I brought her to these people who were hurting her, knowing that she was telling me in the only way she knew how, how much this hurt... and I, her mama, wasn't stopping them.

I am so thankful Hubby was there with us, because I held it together (barely) while the nurses were in the room with us, and as soon as they left, and Tracey Ann's cries were down to a whimper, I burst into tears and cried on Hubby's shoulder, while Tracey Ann was crying on my shoulder.

This worst is made all the more so by the fact that the doctor wants another blood test done on Friday.  We will be praying for a very efficient nurse, and a heel that bleeds very easily.


There are SO MANY BESTS of this past week.  I cannot write about all of them, which I guess is why I'm supposed to just choose the "best" ones to share.

It is a best that Hubby has been home with Tracey and me all week.  We are still in awe of this amazing bundle of joy that we created and brought into the world.  We are experiencing new roles together -- those of parents -- and learning and growing together every day.  We are supporting each other and communicating about what is working and what is not working as we try to develop new routines and some semblance of a schedule.  We are a little family -- not just a couple with pets -- but an actual family, and my love for my Hubby has never been stronger.

A best is the labor and delivery and our parents being at the hospital (all of which I will go into in extensive detail when I write about Tracey Ann's birth story).  It might strike someone as strange that I would say labor and delivery was one of my bests of this week, but they really were.  Would I like to do that every day, absolutely not, but was it a best of this past week, yes, it was.

We had newborn photos taken this week, which was so much fun, and both Chris' and my parents were a part of it.  I am SO excited to see the pictures we got.

Finally, a best -- possibly "the best", if I were made to just choose one, of this week has been skin-to-skin time with Tracey Ann.  In preparing for birth, Hubby and I learned a lot about the importance of skin-to-skin between the mother and baby after delivery in order to regulate the baby's temperature, breathing, heart rate, and stimulate the mother's breast milk, but Hubby and I have also learned about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact after those initial moments as well.  Both Chris and I have spent some time this week with Tracey Ann laying on our bare chests.  She wears a diaper during this time, and Hubby or I are topless.  She lays on her stomach right on our chest, and it is the most magical time.

Same as after-delivery, we have read that it regulates her temperature, heart rate, and breathing.  Also, while she's on her daddy, it is supposed to be some of the soundest sleep of any she gets, and it is great for father-daughter bonding.  On mom, it helps stimulate milk production, and is a great bonding experience.  Hubby and I both have to be careful not to fall asleep while she's napping on us, because it is such a warm, cozy, comfortable position, but could be dangerous if we were to purposefully sleep that way.

Both Hubby and I agree that the skin-to-skin contact is so special to each of us... and special for us to see the other doing, that it is just the more peaceful, beautiful, amazing part of parenting thus far.

There you go, a few bests and worsts of our first 6 days with Tracey Ann.  Most of it has been the best.  :-D

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Absolutly Amazing

Some brief bullets about things I have found absolutely amazing during the first four days of Tracey Ann's life.  They may be discombobulated or incomplete, as she is due for a feeding in just a few minutes.

  • My daughter is perfect.  I work with students every day who have special needs because something went awry during pregnancy.  My daughter is absolutely perfect.
  • God was right when he promised Eve that childbirth would be difficult... childbirth was *ahem* difficult.  But God also designed a woman's body to recover from childbirth very quickly.  I gave birth to Tracey on Friday night, and Saturday I was tired and sore... but I could not believe the difference in how my body was feeling by Sunday.  On Sunday I felt like a new woman -- still sore, but 100% better than Saturday.  The way God designed the human body to heal itself is truly astounding.
  • I am this little girl's mother.  During the first four days of her life, there are things I know about her that her grandparents, and even her daddy doesn't know.  I am learning more and more about her every day, and our bond will continue to grow, but she is my daughter, and I am her mother, and it is a sensation and a phenomenon like none I have every experienced.
  • A newborn cry is the most adorable thing in the world.  I might have heard a newborn cry before, in passing, but I've never learned the difference between a cry and a newborn cry.  A newborn cry is the most precious thing, and she only cries when something is wrong.  I don't know if this is true of every newborn, or just our perfect little Tracey, but, if she is crying, something is wrong -- we just have to figure out what it is.
  • My husband and I are learning every day.  Our first night home was rough -- certainly a bonding experience for us -- our second night was better because we learned from the first night.  This, apparently, is parenting.
  • Nothing else matters.  I now have a child... my very own newborn baby girl.  Nothing else in the world matters.  She is now our world.
  • My husband is amazing.  My love for him grows every moment I see him with our beautiful baby.  Our love, and God's grace, created her, and our love, and  God's grace, is needed every day of her life to help us do what is best for her and our family.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Normal

I want to keep posting regularly... if not daily... but there is a new normal in town, so time will tell what attention, or lack-thereof the blog gets.

That being said, I may just be able to post a picture or two each day... I am okay with that.

We are home sweet home with Tracey and life is wonderful.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's A Girl!!!!

Welcome, Tracey Ann Miller!

The following is from an email that my wonderful husband sent out to family and friends announcing Tracey's arrival:

Brooke and I are so excited to announce the arrival of our healthy perfect daughter, Tracey Ann Miller.  She was born around 8:00 pm on January 24th weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces and 18 1/2 inches long.  

Brooke did the whole thing without pain medications.  She thought she might want the drugs through the really rough patches, but through the amazing coaching of her tearful husband, she pushed through and delivered Tracey without meds.

Tracey's name comes from Brooke's older sister, Tracey, and her middle name, Ann, is my sister and mom's middle name.  We have faith she will honor her namesakes.  

We are so overjoyed with God's perfect gift.  Thank you for all of your prayers in the days leading up to this (and please keep them coming now that we are parents).  :-)

Love To All,

Chris, Brooke, and Tracey

Our new little family, Mama, Daddy and Tracey Ann

The Proud Sanden Grandparents, Grammy and Papa

The Proud Miller Grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma

 Isaiah 12:5
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Verse

Clinging to this verse today...

Philippians 4:6-7

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our Animals

I feel ready for the baby... until I think about our animals.

We have the best two animals in the world, Lexie and Lloyd, and I'm not ready for how a baby might change our family, in terms of our critters.


Lexie is the most lovable, adorable kitty-cat.  In the first several years of my having her, I cannot count the amount of times I heard, "I don't really like cats... but I like Lexie."  She loves to cuddle, and she purrs so often that the vet started calling her "motorboat" because she couldn't listen to her lungs through all the purring. 

At almost 6 years of age, she still love to play whether she's jumping up to hang from my elbow, wrestling with Hubby, popping out from a box to scare Lloyd, or attacking our ankles from under the bed.  She talks to us when she needs something -- she will meow at a closed door, if she wants it opened.

She is 7 lbs... the perfect size of our little furry, kitten-baby.  She even loves to ride in the baby-slings we now have around the house, and she thinks the bassinet and baby swing are the perfect size for her.  Lexie has been my baby since before I met Chris, and she has been such a trooper through Chris joining the family, and then Lloyd joining the family... I just hope she will always know how loved she is, and how important she is in our family.


Lloyd is such a pack-animal, and is SOOO eager to please.  It breaks our heart to have to scold him because he takes it SO hard when we're unhappy with him.  He wants to be with us no matter what we are doing.  As long as he is along for the ride, or laying at our feet, or in the same room he is a happy dog.

He loves to wrestle, and lick, and play, and fetch... and while he wants to be protective of us (he has a ferocious bark), he has proven to be quite a scaredey-dog when strangers actually enter the house. 

My hope is that because Lloyd is such a pack animal, that when he realizes the baby is a part of the pack, he will embrace our little one with the same blind love and devotion he has for us. 

I need to pray how to carefully, and lovingly teach him what is and what is not okay to do with the baby so he doesn't get in trouble for doing something he never learned was wrong.

Our animals have added so much love and joy to our family, and we couldn't imagine our life without them.  People have told me that your love for your animals changes when you have a baby... I hope they are wrong.  A parent's love for older children doesn't change when they have a new baby, so why would our love for our animals change with the arrival of a new baby?

In these past years, I have cried more tears into these animals fur, and danced for joy with both of these animals as much, if not more than I have cried and danced with my husband.  They are the best animals in the world, and we are SO lucky that God chose our family to love and care for them.

I am ready for the baby... until I think about our animals.  Lord, please, let them be ready for the baby.  Teach us how to love a human baby, and our two animals babies.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Treasuring the Present: Ready

Today it is hard to treasure the present because Hubby and I are ready for the baby... so I am treasuring the fact that we feel ready for the baby.  That being said, I want to be really clear, in my 9th month of pregnancy, I am not miserable, I am not whining, I am not begging my doctor to induce my labor or take the baby via C-section, I'm not even that uncomfortable these days... its just, for the first time since we found out we were pregnant, we are ready for the baby whenever the Lord decides it is time for him or her to arrive.

Our house is beautiful, clean, organized, ready for the baby, and ready for company.  There are no half-finished piles of work anywhere, piles of clean baby clothes that need to be folded, or even piles of dirty dishes in the sink (they are in the dishwasher awaiting the next wash cycle).

Every day, I see students, and complete work for my job, but every day, I have more and more accomplished, that it will be easier and easier to hand the reigns over to my substitute when that time comes.

Hubby and I had our perfect little getaway weekend, and upon returning, we are both ready for the what comes next - parenthood.  I'm not sure if we both have a parental sense that the birth is coming, or if we are just overly anxious because its our first child, but both Hubby and I feel that every day could be the day I go into labor.  A few weeks ago, when I called him during the day, Hubby would answer the phone immediately after it started ringing and ask if I was in labor.  This week, he has started calling ME throughout the day to ask if I'm in labor.  :-D

Each night, we cuddle up in each others' arms, fall asleep early (we hear that sleep is the thing to treasure these days), and wonder if this will be our last night before our little one begins his or her arrival.

We might be feeling this way for another two or three weeks... but today, I am cherishing that we are ready.  We are not afraid, we are not behind-the-eight-ball on the things we want to accomplish, we are not miserable and trying to induce labor, we are simply ready.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Preggers I: 38 Weeks

How far along?  38 weeks

How I am feeling?  Really good.  I even think I have less aches and pains these days than I had a few weeks ago.  Hubby and I have accomplished everything we REALLY wanted to accomplish before the baby arrives, and so we're both feeling really good.

How big is baby?  The size of a small pumpkin...18.9-20.9 inches, and 6.2-9.2 pounds.

Sleep:  I sleep very well, and I am very grateful for it.

Boy/Girl Prediction:  I predict I will be very excited to find out if we have a son or daughter.

Baby Nicknames:  Baby, Nugget, or Little One.

Best moment this week:  Hubby and I took a "Baby Moon" -- a last romantic getaway before the baby comes.  Even if the baby doesn't arrive for a few weeks, our family begins arriving Thursday, and will stay until after the baby arrives, so this was our last hurrah as a two-some.  Our wonderful Baby Moon included a prenatal massage for me, a little shopping,  dinner out, husband-and-wife pedicures, and an amazing Bed and Breakfast complete with a canopy bed, jacuzzi bath tub, and chocolate-covered strawberries.  We had a wonderful time.

Food cravings:  Nothing really... and some days nothing really sounds good.  I'm hungry but nothing sounds good to eat.

Missing:  Nothing really... I'm really trying to cherish every pregnant moment because I feel like this is going to be over in no time.  These last days of baby movements, these last days of waddling, these last days of Lexie and Lloyd nosing my belly... I'm trying to not focus on what I'm missing, and instead, focus on what still is the case.
Movements:  Yes, but they have changed.  The baby is definitely run out of room, because the movements aren't so forceful anymore, they are subtle.

Labor Signs:  Yes, a few... I'm not going to go into details, but yes, my body has been preparing for labor.

General Attitude:  So excited that our house is ready for the baby AND for the company!  Check out these pictures of our beautiful guest room, living room, and basement.  All systems are GO.

Our guest room

Our living room...

... complete with our new glider/rocking chair

Our basement

Ready for over-flow guests if necessary

and even a new curtain to offer some privacy

if not overflow for company, it might be where the baby and I spend some nights when Chris needs to be well-rested and ready for work the next day.

 What I am looking forward to this week:  My parents arrive on Thursday, and I know they want to be here for the birth (or shortly thereafter).  It will be nice to have them here.
Milestones:  I'd say our Baby Moon, and the fact my body is preparing for labor are both pretty big milestones.  This really could happen any day... I can't help but wonder if this is my final Pregnancy Update post?
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

American Child

I am not always thrilled with my country.
I love America, but I don't always love Americans.
I would say, the past 5-6 years, I've been especially dissatisfied with the policy and direction of legislation in my country.

That being said... but a pin in that thought for a moment.
I have not been especially emotional throughout my pregnancy.  I think both my husband and I are surprised by this, because I am a very emotional person when I'm not pregnant.  Since becoming pregnant, some things still make me cry, but both Hubby and I agree, I cry less since I've been pregnant than I regularly cried before getting pregnant -- go figure.

That being said... one subject has brought me to emotional, joyful, overwhelming tears without fail throughout this pregnancy, and that is the thought of our child growing up in America.

I am not always thrilled with my country, but there is NO OTHER COUNTRY that has more opportunities for my child.  My child will be a citizen of the greatest country in the world.  My child will not be limited because of his or her culture, or religion, or income, or family history, or political opinion.  Our child can develop any interest, hobby, passion, career goal he or she can dream.

The fact that my husband and I are teachers does not determine what our child will be.  The fact that our child may fail kindergarten, or skip sixth grade doesn't determine his or her career path.  The fact that our child's grandparents were blue-collar workers, or white-collar workers, or congressmen, or jail birds does not determine our child's occupation.  Our child's drive, and intelligence, and hard work, and desire, and tenacity, and calling determines his or her occupation.  Our child will be born in a country without predetermined limits.  Our child will be born in the land of the free.

Our child will be an American child, and that knowledge fills me to with joy and goosebumps.  My husband and I may not be able to provide everything for our child that he or she wants or desires... but we can instill in him or her the value of hard work and the accomplishment and reward that comes from working hard in America.

Among others, these are two songs that have left me sobbing lately:

"American Child" by Phil Vassar

"Only in America" by Brooks & Dunn

God Bless America.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Letters: Baby Moon

  • Dear Life, You are about to change in a way I cannot even begin to fathom or imagine.  It's about to be the end of the world as I know it.
  • Dear Baby, I think you're running out of space in my belly.
  • Dear Work, Every day I'm able to do my job without pain or labor complications is a really good day.
  • Dear Hubby, This weekend is our last time just the two of us -- forever.  I'm excited for the little celebration we have planned with each other.  It's our very small, but special "Baby Moon."
  • Dear OBGYNs, The closer I get to going into the labor, the more I hope that one particular doctor is on call when the time comes for me to deliver.  I'm praying like crazy for one doctor in particular.  If you feel suddenly prompted to change your schedule, rest assured, it is just God (hopefully) answering my prayers to make sure that one specific doctor is on call when our time comes.
  • Dear Lexie and Lloyd, You are just the best animals in the world.  I pray you fall in love with the new member of our family without too much drama or sibling rivalry.
  • Dear Friends, Many of you have sent me emails, texts, or facebook messages out of the blue just to let me know that you're thinking of me, and keeping me in your prayers as I come close to delivery.  These messages are so special and comforting.  Thank you for keeping us in your prayers, and thank you for taking the time to tell me.
  • Dear Rental Car, I'm kind of in love with you.  I would be tempted to trade both my work and personal cars (which are getting repaired) for you for the rest of the year.  You even have an automatic car started AND a seat warmer.  HEAVEN for this mama-to-be who leaves the house in single-digit temperatures.
  • Dear Hubby, I love you so much.  So much is about to change for us, but my love for you will not change.  It will probably grow, develop, deepen, and expand... but the fact I love you will not change.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014


Something I have learned about myself in the past few years is that I have a hard time faking gratitude.  Some people are fond of saying, "Fake it til you make it," and I have tried to do that when I'm discouraged or overwhelmed.  I know that an attitude of gratitude can make all the difference, but, frankly, I am not great at faking.

That being said, when I can see a silver lining, when I can sincerely find something to be grateful about in a tough situation, I LOVE the attitude of gratitude.

As Hubby and I come to the end of this pregnancy, and closer to the MAJOR life change that parenthood will bring, I am finding that gratitude is easier to come by in tough situations.

These final days of pregnancy, for example.  I am sincerely grateful for these final days and weeks.  I will admit, I don't love every aspect of being pregnant... but I love carrying our child.  I am INCREDIBLY grateful for how our pregnancy has progressed without complication.  I am grateful that I am still able to work at 37 weeks along.  I am grateful for the little (and sometimes BIG) jabs in my ribs and stomach, because it means my baby is healthy and moving and growing.  I have no idea how many times in my life I will be pregnant, or when the next time will be -- once our baby arrives on earth, the pregnancy is over indefinitely, and so I truly am grateful for every day that remains.

Adding to this gratitude is the sobering reality that we have known three couples in the past month to give birth to their babies.  One couple had unforeseen complications that put their newborn in the NICU for 5 nights... and that's the happy ending.  Both of the other two couples, their babies died either before or shortly after birth.  In one of these cases, the death was not a shock... but that doesn't make it an easier situation, and in the other case, the death was completely sudden and unexpected.  PLEASE keep these couples in your prayers as they are coping with the unimaginable.

I am so grateful for my big, growing, kicking, healthy baby that is still inside me.

I am sincerely grateful that I am able to do my job.  Sometimes I have had to talk myself into gratitude for having a job... but in these last weeks of life before parenthood, and these last weeks before life on a salary cut due to maternity leave, I REALLY am SO grateful for my job and the chance to do what I love with wonderful students.

In the past month, Hubby and I have gone from three cars down to one.  Once upon a time, we each had a personal vehicle and I had a work car.  In December I was in a minor accident while driving in the canyon... it was minor, except there is nothing minor about sliding on ice into a guardrail several times when you are 7 months pregnant.  That being said, the accident could have been SOOOO much worse, and we are so grateful for how minor it was.

That took us down to two cars until my work vehicle is fixed.  Then yesterday the transmission started to go out on my personal vehicle (and when I say, "started to go out," I mean "the vehicle will no longer find Reverse or Park reliably").  I made it to the transmission shop and might have a working car again by the middle of next week.  Hubby and I are both mildly disappointed about the inconvenience of only having one vehicle, and the upcoming expense of transmission repairs... but we are both SOOO GRATEFUL for how smoothly the problem was solved.  At 9 months pregnant, my transmission could have blown up and stranded me along I-70... or better yet, the transmission could have begun acting up when I was in labor and we needed to get to the hospital.  Can you see us pulling up to the emergency drop-off, and my husband puts the car in park... and it keeps rolling?

We're also grateful that we had three cars to start with so that when we are down two, we still have a vehicle to meet our needs out here in the middle of nowhere, Colorado (its not like we can hail a cab or take the subway).

The attitude of gratitude really makes such a difference, and Hubby and I have SO much to be grateful for these days.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Preggers I: 37 Weeks

... A few days late due to my birthday...

How far along?  37 weeks

How I am feeling?  More and more prepared... Hubby and I spent a lot of time this weekend finalizing the main floor of our house and making sure we're not just ready for the baby, but we're ready for the company that will follow the baby.  Our main floor is officially ready... and this weekend we will make our basement ready... and then, we're officially good to go.  I also have periods of feeling nervous about what's to come, which means I've been spending more and more time in prayer each day.

How big is baby?  The size of a winter melon...18.9-20.9 inches, and 6.2-9.2 pounds.

Sleep:  I realized the other day that I have no idea how many times each night that I get up to use the restroom.  I think its a minimum of three and probably a maximum of six.  If I had to guess, I would say I average four times a night getting up.  I do sleep well though.

Boy/Girl Prediction:  I predict I will be very excited to find out if we have a son or daughter.

Baby Nicknames:  Baby, Nugget, or Little One.

Best moment this week:  Feeling as though we're more and more prepared for the baby's arrival.  The diapers, the clothes, the blankets, the hospital bag, the guest room, and more are ready.

Food cravings:  Nothing really... and some days nothing really sounds good.  I'm hungry but nothing sounds good to eat.

Missing:  Not having numb fingers.  I've started to get some pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel in my right hand, and sometimes the numbness is pretty intense.  My doctor says this is very normal and should subside in the weeks following delivery.
Movements:  Yes, the baby definitely moves these days, and its crazy how big the baby is... I will feel kicks up by my ribs, and then down by my hips at the same time.  That didn't happen when the baby was smaller.  Some of the kicks are a little uncomfortable at times.

Labor Signs:  I've have had some minor Braxton Hicks contractions when I've been on my feet for awhile, but nothing that's become active labor.

General Attitude:  Grateful for each day that I'm able to do what needs to be done -- whether its work, or homemaking, or cleaning, or cooking.  Also, Hubby and I are specifically praying for which doctor will be on call when I go into labor.  My doctor is in an OBGYN practice of four women, and whichever one is on call when the time comes for me to deliver will be my doctor.  We know that God knows exactly who will be there and when and what time the baby will arrive, and we are praying for His perfect timing and provision in everything.

What I am looking forward to this week:  This weekend is Hubby and my last weekend just the two of us before family descends for the next month.  My parents and brother and his family arrives January 23, and then Chris' family will be coming when the baby arrives, and my parents don't leave until the middle of February... so this weekend is our last hurrah just the two of us.

Milestones:  Much of my reading says that I am now "Full Term" -- although my doctor says I'm not full term until 39 weeks.  Either way, our understanding is that anytime the baby arrives, the baby will be (Lord Willing) ready for life outside the womb.
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