Monday, April 29, 2013

How we're doing...

When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your life is about to change in a dramatic way.  And during those nine months, you begin to grasp that reality in a very basic way.  But until you're actually holding your very own little person in your arms, you can't really comprehend how different your life has actually become.

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So much of it is the best kind of change you can imagine.  From the sound of Grace's first cry, I was overwhelmed with a love I've never known.  I had worried that I wouldn't feel bonded or connected to her immediately, but something instinctual took over my heart in that moment.  And in the days that followed, it only grew.  I'd just look at her and cry, overcome with adoration for every tiny part of her.  I'd thank the Lord over and over for such a blessing.  And I marveled at the fact that she was ours and that we made her

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My love for Micah grew as well.  During the pregnancy, he was so incredible and adorable, and I kept thinking that there was no way I'd ever be able to love him more than I did then.  Ha.  Holding his hand during the labor and delivery, watching him hold our little girl, laughing as he changed the first diaper... I've honestly never been more thankful for him.  We bonded in a way that I couldn't have imagined, and I feel like our marriage has never been stronger.

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But they weren't lying when they said that life with a newborn is trying. 

The hormones coursing through my body after I had Grace (and probably even now) were/are no joke.  Tears came ridiculously easy, good and bad, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion most of the time during those first few days.

And I'll likely write a whole post on this at some point, but nursing hasn't been the easiest thing in the world for us.  Grace dropped from 9 pounds to 7 pounds 10 ounces by the fifth day, and I was stressed to the max.  Nursing was incredibly painful, the colostrum didn't seem to be there, and my milk took forever to come in.  Because of the weight loss, we've ended up having to supplement nursing with formula bottles, and Grace started to prefer the bottles and wouldn't latch for almost a full day.  Thankfully, we switched to Tommy Tippee bottles, and she's been able to go back and forth much more easily, but it's still tough.  Micah has been amazingly helpful, but nursing means that I'm the only one who can feed her.  With feedings happening every three hours around the clock, I've started to feel like a milk cow, and the inflexibility of it is kind of frustrating.   

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And although Grace is mostly an incredibly easy and content baby, she has had trouble with her days and nights.  She sleeps like a rock during the day but has very interrupted and sometimes fussy sleep at night.  And while I've been shocked at God's provision of energy and strength, you can't help but be exhausted when you've gone almost two weeks without getting more than five (interrupted) hours of sleep a night.  I live in pajama pants, and I feel like I smell like spit up most of the time.

Plus, it's just a whole new world for us.  Neither Micah nor I have really had that much experience with kids, let alone newborns.  Learning how to change diapers, swaddle, and even change her clothes without suffocating her has taken time (and some tears). 

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But we're figuring it out.  We're learning that love covers a multitude of shortcomings, and a little snuggling dries a lot of tears.  And I know that although the struggles will grow and change, so will the blessings.  And that all we can give her is our best. 

So here's to hopefully a little less spit up and a little more sleep. :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

All-American girl...

Since the day they got married
He'd been praying for a little baby boy
Someone he could take fishing
Throw the football, be his pride and joy
He could already see him holding that trophy
Taking his team to state
But when the nurse came in with a little pink blanket
All those big dreams changed
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(me, 1985)
And now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All American girl
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(me and Daddy, 1985)
Sixteen short years later
She was falling for the senior junior football star
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(Micah, 2002)

Before you knew it he was dropping passes
Skipping practice just to spend more time with her
The coach said, "hey son what's your problem
Tell me have you lost your mind"
Daddy said, "you'll lose your free ride to college
Boy, you better tell her goodbye"

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(me and Micah, 2002)
But now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All American girl
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(me and Micah, 2008)
And when they got married and decided to have one of their own
She said, "be honest, tell me what you want"
And he said, "honey you outta know..."
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(me and Micah, 2013)
"A sweet, little, beautiful one just like you
I want a beautiful, wonderful, perfect All American girl"
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(Grace, 2013)
Now, he's wrapped around her finger
She's the center of his whole world
And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect
All American girl

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(Micah and Grace, 2013)

Lyrics:  All-American Girl by Carrie Underwood

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're home!

I was fortunate enough to have my talented best friend/photographer in the delivery and operating rooms, so I want to wait to post Grace's full birth story until I have those pictures (which I know I'll cherish forever!).  I promise I'll get it up as soon as possible!

Whew!  The last five days have been such a whirlwind!  After three great days in the hospital, we left for home on Saturday afternoon with our little Gracie in tow.  I followed the advice of many moms and sent her to the nursery between feedings at night, so I left feeling tired but not completely worn out.  And both she and I left with a clean bill of health. Praise Him!

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My mom stayed with us the first night, and Micah's mom stayed the second night.  I can't even explain how wonderful it was to have them with us.  And Miss Priss has been doing pretty great.  We're breastfeeding, and she's doing pretty darned good, although she's a bit of a sleepy eater.  But she's lost a lot of weight since birth and my milk still isn't in yet, so our pediatrician suggested that we supplement with some formula until she gets back up to her birth weight.  I won't lie... the weight loss has me pretty stressed out, but I know it's very common and that she'll start growing like a weed soon enough. :) 

The c-section hasn't been as much of a drag as I thought it would be.  I'm more mobile than I expected, and I'm getting better every day (but thank heaven for pain medication!).  I won't be cleared to drive or pick up anything heavier than Grace for another week and a half, but Micah has been incredible in making sure I'm comfortable and happy.  I can't even think about how wonderful he's been, to me and to Grace, without crying (although I cry tears of joy at just about anything these days... these emotions are insane).   

And our friends and family have been equally wonderful.  We've been so fortunate to have wonderful vistors at the hospital and people bringing us meals.  I'll probably write an entire post about what a blessing the people we love have been to us already... 

I'll check in again soon, I promise.  For now, I'm just fighting the urge to go wake her up from her nap for cuddles. But I know we've got plenty of time for that. :)

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Friday, April 19, 2013

She's here!

Miss Grace Riley made her debut on Wednesday at 11:35 pm. We went through over fourteen hours of labor and two hours of pushing before we ended up deciding on a c-section. But our little blue-eyed brunette finally arrived safe and sound, measuring 19.5 inches and nine pounds!

I'll definitely post her full birth story soon, but I just wanted let you all know that she's here and she's perfect, and we're just smitten.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today's the day...

We have to be at the hospital in a little less than three hours, and my alarm isn't set to go off for another hour. But I'm up (and have been for awhile) because I can't get over the fact that we're finally about to meet our girl.

There are really no words that could adequately describe how I'm feeling right now.  I''m definitely a jumble of emotions, and to say that I'm anxious would be an incredible understatement.  But I'm mostly just ready to meet this little princess that has stolen our hearts. 
Hopefully I'll get the chance to check in again once we get settled in.  Otherwise, you can stay updated via Instagram (@MrsHargrave) or Twitter (@Mrs_Hargrave), and I'll obviously get a post up once she makes her debut! :) 
Thanks again, y'all, for your sweet words of encouragement and for keeping me sane over the last nine months.  I have a feeling, though, that the real craziness is only just beginning...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Two more days...

I feel the need to pop in and say hello, but I have to be honest.  All I keep thinking is...


Still no labor or contractions, so we're still scheduled to induce on Wednesday. 

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(us at 39 weeks... I'd say we're both ready! :))

I am going to do my very, very best to keep you guys updated via Instagram (and possibly here on the blog if I can).  So if you want to go ahead and follow so you don't miss anything, you can find me on Instagram at @mrshargrave (and I usually publish all of my Instagram updates to Twitter, so you can find me there at @Mrs_Hargrave as well).

Until then, we're just trying to stay busy.  We celebrated our last child-free weekend with a little Cheesecake Factory and a trip to the iPic theater to see Oz: The Great and Powerful on Saturday.  Was it just me, or was the movie only okay?  As a devoted Wizard of Oz and Wicked fan, maybe I just wasn't in love with this take on the back story of Oz?  Even so, we loved the theater.
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The chairs were so comfy, and the dessert we ordered was delicious.
On Sunday, we took it easy and ended up grilling a delicious dinner:  Italian chicken, chopped BBQ salad, and these campfire potatoes.  (The potatoes were phenomenal.  I'd add a bit more butter next time to keep them from getting dry, but altogether fabulous.)
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I also made these cake batter Rice Krispy treats

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It was a different recipe than the one I've used in the past (and courtesy of my girl, Kristin), and so much better.  The frosting sent the whole thing over the edge (I used regular vanilla buttercream frosting rather than cream cheese), and I'm not ashamed to tell you that we've already devoured the entire pan.  Judge away, y'all.  They're delicious.

Today, Micah has worked from home, and we've just been tying up some loose ends around the house.  I got new tires (Micah insisted that we get that done before Grace arrived) and did the last load of Grace's laundry (mostly towels and burp cloths).  We also got a fun surprise in the mail.

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Grace's baby book came in!  I ordered it on Etsy from here, and I love it.  It's really well-made, and I like the pages and layout.

Alright, friends.  I'm just waiting for Micah to get home from his last softball game of the season (poor guy had to go alone because I get so uncomfortable sitting on hard surfaces for long periods of time these days).  And then I'm going to try and get some sleep (if I can get my mind to shut down long enough to rest). 

XOXO, loves.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 13, 2013

My darling Grace,
It's unfathomable to me that you're already almost here.  It seems like just yesterday that your daddy and I were staring at that pregnancy test in shock, happier than you will ever know at the news that you were on your way.
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Over the past nine months, God has used this time to fill my heart with more love than I could have ever imagined.  We heard your heartbeat for the first time, and I cried at the sound of you.  I had one of the worst moments of my life when I thought we might be losing you and one of the best moments when I saw that you were safe and sound.  I felt you move and marveled at the miracle of it.  We got the best surprise ever when we found out that you were a girl.  We took you to Paris and decided on your name.  Daddy felt you move for the first time and fell even more in love with you.  We spent many hours decorating your sweet room.  We celebrated your upcoming arrival with family, friends, and co-workers. 

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And now here we are, days away from meeting you, and the anticipation is almost too much.  Because although there is a part of me that is sad to give up this precious time you and I have had together over the past nine months, I know the best is yet to come.  I know that we are about to embark upon the most exciting/wonderful/terrifying/humbling/amazing/exhausting journey of our lives, and we couldn't be more ready. 

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We are honored to be your parents, sweet girl.  I know we are going to mess up about a billion times, and there will be moments when you won't like us very much.  But I promise to do everything in my power to equip you to face the world.  I promise to give you every piece of my heart.  And I promise to be the best mom I can possibly be, even when that means doing the difficult thing.   

Just a few more days, love. 

Until then,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thankful for...

Cue the cliche, I'm-a-horrible-blogger speech.  I know I've been slow to get my Thankful Thursdays posts up lately, and I've all but stopped my weekly pregnancy updates.  But the weekly updates seem unnecessary since we've been getting news more frequently than that, and I don't like to have to wait to share things with you guys! 
I suppose that I'll be even more unpredictable once Miss Priss gets here, but I promise to do my best to keep you all in the loop.  I feel like you guys have been such a BIG part of this journey, and I can't even tell you how encouraging it has been to be able to share every little milestone with you.  (And I'm currently trying to figure out how I can get labor updates to you all on Wednesday.  I'll let you know what I come up with.)
So today's post will be easy.
{I'm thankful} for YOU.  My friends who have kept me going throughout these past nine months.  From the nausea to the carpal tunnel to the bed rest, you've been there. And I'm so thankful for you.
What are YOU thankful for this week? Link up and tell us!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's been up...

First - Baby News
We had our 38 week appointment yesterday.  And although I don't technically have preeclampsia based upon the bloodwork they ran last week, I'm on the bubble based on the amount of protein in my urine (but my blood pressure is still normal, thankfully). 
So because of that and the fact that Miss Priss is measuring plenty big already, we're going to induce next Wednesday if she hasn't made an appearance by then.  It's only a day before my due date, so I feel good about it.  (Plus, if we continue to wait, there's a chance that she might decide to come on 04/20, and that's just unaccaptable. :))  I'm really happy to have a date certain by which we'll get to meet her.
Second - Stella Jo
Thankfully, I got a baby fix this weekend to tide me over until then.  While Micah and my brother were hosting a skeet shootout and Bible study for a group of teenage guys on Sunday, my sister-in-law, niece, and I headed over to my mom's house for some girl time.  I can't even express how big and smart Stella is right now.  It makes me so happy and so sad at the same time - she's growing up too quickly!  (Go get a full Stella update at my sister-in-law's blog here.)
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Third - Mad Men

Since I've been working from home, I've been able to get caught up on Mad Men.  I finally finished Season 5 yesterday and caught the Season 6 premier last night (around 2 am, since I haven't really been sleeping lately).  Did anyone else see it?  Thoughts??

Fourth - Life

Until Grace decides to arrive, Micah and I are trying to enjoy these last few days of being a childless couple.  We are so, so, so excited to meet our little girl, but I have to admit that it's a teensy bit bittersweet to say goodbye to this phase in our lives.  I'm so happy that we decided to wait a few years before having kids because I feel like this time has given us a strong, solid foundation on which to build our future.  And now we're ready to welcome Grace into our lives and watch our hearts expand in the most amazing way.

In the spirit of celebration, I talked Micah into taking me on a last date to the iPic movie theater (which features fully reclining seats with pillows and blankets - heck yes!) and The Cheesecake Factory (my FAVORITE restaurant) on Saturday.  We're going out with a bang, y'all!

Hope you guys are having a fabulous week!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Some candid thoughts on pregnancy...

These last nine months have been a trip, y'all. Mostly, they have been filled with moments of awe and wonder and love, and I will never get over how incredible it is to assist God in creating a life.
But, let's just be completely honest. There have been a billion times in the last thirty-eight weeks where I've had a "What the...?" moment.  My body has done things that I never expected, and it hasn't all been pretty. 
So for those of you who haven't yet experienced all of the "joys" of pregnancy, I feel like it's my duty to tell you what you're in for.  Here's a candid list of questions you may end up asking yourself when the time comes.  I share because I care. :)
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Would anyone notice if I took a little nap at my desk right now?
That first trimester brings with it exhaustion like you've never ever known.  I made it through four years of difficult biochemistry courses and three years of law school without feeling as tired as I felt those first few months.  Just sleep when you can and look forward to the awesomeness that is the second trimester.  (And do be sure and enjoy that burst of energy when it comes because the third trimester is just as exhuasting as the first.)
Do I look pregnant or just fat?
Sorry, friend, but you won't look pregnant to anyone but you for awhile.  You'll see that bump start to emerge almost immediately, but most people will be too scared to assume it's a baby or ask you about it until it's really obvious.  And can you really blame them?  No one wants to be the person who makes that mistake...   
Will I ever be able to go #2 without struggling again?
You will.  The constipation doesn't last forever, I promise.
What does heartburn feel like?
If you, like me, hadn't experienced heartburn and/or indigestion before you got pregnant, you'll hear about how bad it can be during pregnancy and wonder what it feels like.   Unfortunately, it's just as terrible as you've heard, and as time goes on, those Tums will be about as effective at keeping it at bay as swallowing a bottle of Tabasco.  Get yourself some Zantac and avoid Mexican food like the plague. 
What the heck is happening to my nipples? 
They're getting darker and bigger and just generally more funky-looking every day.  But apparently I haven't seen anything yet -- nursing will supposedly bring even more fun nipple surprises my way.  Goody.
Is it possible to get stretch marks on my feet?
I know not everyone swells the way I have swelled, but if you're one of the unfortunate ones who will end up with feet and ankles as thick as they are wide, you'll check your feet make your husband check your feet every day for signs of stretch marks.  Thankfully, we've avoided those so far.
Is my face really as fat as it looks in pictures?
I hate to tell you, but it probably is.
Is it socially acceptable to flick people in the nose after they comment on how huge I am?
Everyone loves a pregnant lady.  Most of the time it's fabulous, but sometimes people just can't resist telling you how humongous you are.  (I had someone tell me at seven months that I looked like I was ready to pop.)  Or how you, like them, aren't one of the lucky ones who look like they stuck a basketball in their shirts.  I appreciate the commiseration.  I really do.  And I own a mirror, so I'm under no delusions about what I look like.  But, as women, I think we should all make a pact right this second to promise to never tell another woman that she's "so huge" or "enormous" or anything even remotely close to those sentiments.  I say a little white lie in this situation won't do anyone any harm...

Why does my bladder hate me?

I pee approximately every 30 minutes to an hour during the day, and I get up at least three times a night to pee.  (A couple of weeks ago, I literally got up every hour on the hour for six hours straight.)  As far as I can tell, there's no stopping the daytime trips to the bathroom (I do have to stay hydrated, after all), but limiting my fluids after 7:30 p.m. seems to help at night.  Well, that and the thought that this, too, shall pass.  (Pun totally intended.)
Will my... ahem... lady parts resume their normal size and shape after childbirth?
We're in this one together, y'all.  I sure hope the answer to this question is yes.
What were we thinking??  I have no idea how to keep a little person alive!
Again, I obviously haven't yet been able to test this one out, but I'll tell you what I tell myself when I start wondering whether I'm going to be a good mom:  there are thousands of women way dumber than I am who manage to raise perfectly healthy and well-adjusted children to adulthood.  If they can do it, then surely I can too.

I hope it goes without saying that every ache/pain/pimple I've experienced in the last nine months have been absolutely worth it.  I'd do it all again (and probably will do it all again in a few years) to bring a baby into the world.  And I don't take a single second for granted. 

Even so... we owe it to ourselves to be honest enough to laugh at all the crazy things our bodies do for the sake of and in preparation for childbirth.  In the grand scheme of things, nine months really isn't very long, and I hear that we'll be longing for this time again someday.  (Although I feel sure we won't miss the clown feet.  Can I get an amen?)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thankful for...

Loved and Lovely

There is much to be thankful for today, friends!

{I'm thankful} that I am pre-eclampsia free!  Of course, I won't lie and tell you that the chance of meeting Grace a couple of weeks early wasn't appealing (even though the circumstances obviously weren't optimal), but I know it's best for her to come when she's ready.  And I'm obviously happy that I don't have any health risks to worry about.

{I'm thankful} that my sweet Mamaw is stable.  She was admitted to the ICU yesterday for incredibly low blood pressure, and apparently she's got some sort of blood infection.  It's still very serious, but they're running lots of tests, and her blood pressure is relatively normal again, so that's definitely praiseworthy!

And speaking of grandmas, {I'm thankful} that my other grandmother, Mimi, starts her radiation therapy next week.  I'm ready for her to kick this lung cancer to the curb, y'all!

{I'm thankful} that my work has generously agreed to let me work from home until Grace gets here.  Just another reason that I love my job and will be happy to return once my maternity leave is over (even though I'm already dreading having to leave Grace). 

Last, but definitely not least, {I'm thankful} for Micah.

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(us, circa 2003)

This guy.  Oh, this guy.

He makes me better in every way, and I couldn't have dreamed up a more wonderful husband and father for our children.  How in the world did I get so lucky?

What are you guys thankful for this week?  Link up and tell us!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Good news...

... no preeclampsia! Which means no more bed rest and we're back to waiting for Miss Priss to arrive whenever she is ready.

I'll write more tomorrow - just wanted to let you guys know that we're good!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bed rest...

At our 37-week appointment today, the doctor found a little protein in my urine (TMI, I know...).  So because of that, in combination with my out-of-control swelling, she's putting me on bedrest for a few days while we wait on labs to see if I have pre-eclampsia, even though my blood pressure is normal.

I also have to pee in a jug for 24 hours so she can get a more accurate protein reading.  Ick.

Thankfully I'm far enough along that if they had to induce immediately, we're still full-term and she'll be ready for the world, but I'd obviously rather do without the pre-eclampsia. :) 

So, if you guys have a minute, would you mind saying a little prayer for me and our little princess? 

I'll keep you guys updated.  In the meantime, I'm obviously going to need some entertainment.  Any books/movies/TV series I absolutely must try?

{No} April Fool's...

I thought about titling this post "Baby's here!" and playing a fun April Fool's Day joke on you guys, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  It's so not in my nature to play pranks - I just end up feeling too bad about it. :)

So instead, you'll just get a little bit of an update.  The end of last week was sort of crazy.  We have a trial going on at work (not one I'm involved in, but my friends are and I'm pulling for them), and my whole floor is moving down to another floor, so I've been in moving mode (which definitely isn't fun when you're nine months pregnant).  My office currently looks like this, and I'm ready to get everything put away and settled.

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(What you can't see are the five large bins stacked to the side containing all the notebooks and books that need to be put up on shelves...)

But look at what we did get all put in its place this past week?

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Whoop whoop! 

With the carseat installed and the hospital bags (mostly) packed, I think Grace is welcome to make her arrival any day.  I'm getting more uncomfortable by the minute and sleeping very little, so at this point I'll be more than happy for her to come whenever she's ready.  I'm just trying to ignore the part where I actually have to push her out... :)

This weekend, we (almost) finished getting all of her stuff put together and put away.  We pondered the practical./functional difference between the swing and bouncer (you veteran moms are going to have to educate me - is one better suited for certain situations than others, or are they both just alternatives for somewhere to put the baby when your arms need a rest? :)).  We sanitized bottles.  We washed a few blankets and some PJs.  We bought groceries and stocked up on the essentials.

And then when we finally slowed down long enough to sit down and reflect on the fact that we were about to be parents, we freaked out a little. Ha.  I've got both sentimental and silly pregnancy posts swirling around in my head, but for now I'll just say that this whole thing has been a trip.  An amazing, beautiful, exhausting trip.
Yesterday we celebrated our last baby-free Easter. 

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When I walked into my family's celebration after having eaten some (delicious) food with Micah's family, the general consensus was (1) that I look like I'm ready to pop and (2) my swollen feet/ankles are out of control.  I tend to agree (and will spare you guys any pictures of the aforementioned swelling.  That kind of thing surely falls into one of these categories, and we all now know how I feel about that). 

When we got home, we watched last week's and this week's The Bible episodes.  Did you guys watch them?  Micah and I have both been believers for a long time, so we knew all the stories, but there is still something about watching them come to life on the screen.  If you missed them, I feel sure The History Channel will be replaying it and/or selling the dvds.  Go check it out!

Alrighty, friends.  I'm going to try and focus long enough to get some work done.  I've got my 37-week appointment this afternoon, and I'll give you an update afterward on how things are progressing!  So exciting! :)
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