Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Birth of Kamryn Marlee Rhoades - 11-11-11

First, please accept my apologies for taking so very long to update my blog. Many of you know by now that we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Kamryn Marlee Rhoades, on November 11, 2011. It confirmed how special we already knew she was when she came on such a unique day. She's an absolute miracle.

Kamryn was a month early and joined us on a full moon. According to my Mom, it was the same exact story with me when I was born. On Thursday, the 10th, I went in for my routine check up to monitor my contractions and baby's activity. For the preceding three days, I had been having pretty regular contractions. After the exam, my doctor determined that, although I hadn't really progressed, that my contractions were too regular to send me home. She decided to keep me in the hospital overnight just to monitor things. It was purely a precautionary measure due to my lack of feeling. Jacob was working on a job about an hour and a half away and wasn't able to get there until late, so my Mom accompanied me to the hospital.

As the night went on, the contractions got more intense and really consistent - often, only a couple minutes apart. As things intensified, so did my muscles spasms and dysreflexia. In other words, my body was creating a lot of physical stress in an attempt to warn me that something major was going on beneath my feeling line. As it turns out, these warning signs make me feel really, really crappy. My legs were in spasms like I've never seen before, I was sweating like crazy below my feeling line (which is a response from my nervous system), and I was extremely nauseous. And in all of it, I began to worry that in the midst of my body trying to warn of pain, that it would create too much stress on the baby.

When things were only slightly better in the morning, but I hadn't progressed in labor, my doctor decided it would be best for me to remain in the hospital until the baby came - even if that meant two or three more weeks. That was news I wasn't thrilled to hear, especially if I continued to feel that way. However, before I knew it, things took a sharp turn. The nurse walked in and while I was expecting her to suggest some sort of medicine I didn't really want to take to help with the pain and spasms, she said something completely unexpected. She explained that she had just spoken with my doctor, who had just consulted my high-risk physician, who had recommended that we go ahead with a c-section that day! The procedure was scheduled for only two hours away! I burst into tears. We were utterly stunned.

Our wish was to have Jacob in the room and me to be awake when they performed the c-section, but after they had trouble with the epidural, my doctor decided to just proceed with putting me under. The procedure was so quick! Baby and I were both healthy and back in the room with our family in less than an hour. I remember being wheeled back in and seeing Jacob holding Kamryn. It was a sight I always dreamed of and that I'll never forget. When he laid her in my arms, it was surreal. Time stood still. I don't have words to describe the emotions I felt.

We spent the next three days learning some baby basics, learning how to breast-feed and enjoying the most beautiful mountain view from our hospital room. The experience was wonderful. We soaked up every second of it. There was one particular moment on the second night that will be with me forever. Jacob, Kamryn and I were all laying together in the hospital bed, listening to a playlist I had made before hand and the perfect song was on. I remember just becoming completely overwhelmed with love on a level that I had never felt before. I'd been told that would happen, but experiencing it is something completely different.

With both of us recovering well, with no unexpected health issues, we came home on Monday. I think that was the shortest hospital stay I've ever had. Being home has been great. I was on bed rest for the first two weeks; just to be extra careful (again, due to the lack of feeling where the incision is). While it was a little slow getting back up in my chair after being down so long before and after the delivery, I'm pretty much back to my old self now. I have quite a bit of strength to get back, though, so I look forward to getting back to the gym.

I couldn't have done any of this without my sweet husband. Since we have been home, Jacob has been taking the best care of both of us. He is the most natural father and even better at all this than I imagined he'd be. Kamryn and I are so lucky to have him, it brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis. I am so thankful for our perfect little family. Also, my Mom and Dad have provided much-needed support when Daddy has had to work.

Kamryn's calling, so that's all the time I have for now! Look for my next posting as I take you along with me in this journey of motherhood on wheels. I have a lot to learn and am excited to share. Merry Christmas and a Happy, Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Home for the Final Stretch

This week, it really started to sink in that we will meet our baby girl very soon. Somehow, it's already almost time. After my contractions continued throughout the week, I went in for an early visit to the doc. Everything checked out great, but to try and prevent an early labor, my doctor asked that I stay home on bed-rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. While I hate leaving work early, I am proud I made it this far (only 3 1/2 weeks to go) - feeling great, with no complications. Plus, I'll be able to work a little bit from home. I've only been out a few days, and I have to admit that the lack of activity has helped. I'll be sure to appreciate this time I have to relax before it's time to be a mommy.

To ensure everything is on track, in the case that this baby does decide to come early, we went for our last ultrasound. All was perfect with her growth and she's even in the right position (for the time being)! And, we were surprised to learn that they estimate she is already 6 pounds, 1 ounce! Wow - what a healthy little girl! They did the 3D ultrasound, which was just so awesome. It was an amazing feeling staring at little Kamryn Marlee in my belly, squirming around, waiting to come into the world.

So, it's evident that there's not long now. Her clothes are washed, the car-seat is installed in my new car and our bags are just about packed for the hospital. We couldn't be happier. Any occasional discomfort I feel or trouble I have getting around seem so insignificant compared to the excitement I feel for the upcoming birth of our daughter. Plus, I'm so thankful for such a helpful, happy husband that is making this experience what it is.

Until next time, friends... Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We'll Meet Her This Month (& She Has a Name)!

Well, we have had a fast-paced, event-filled couple weeks! As I've mentioned before, things seems to be falling right into place, just at the right time. I'm over 34 weeks along and have just over 4 weeks until the scheduled delivery of our baby girl. We're so excited. One of the most exciting new developments is that we've decided on a name. On November 30th (or before), we can't wait to welcome Kamryn Marlee Rhoades into this world!

So, I'm absolutely thrilled to share the news of my new car! Those that know me personally know that I love cars and drove a red truck with flames on it (affectionately called my "Hotwheels" truck) for the last 10 years. It was all equipped with hand controls and a lift from Bruno Independent Living Aids, Inc., and it worked perfectly for me. Plus, it was paid off, which was nice. When the motor went out for the second time in February, I was pretty bummed. Not long after, I found out I was pregnant. Suddenly being faced with having to find a new vehicle that would be accessible for me, work with a new baby, accommodate my wheelchair and my companion dog and be affordable was challenging, to say the least. However, we were able to work with a fantastic local dealership, that also modifies vehicles, and just a few days ago, I drove home my new Mazda 5.  Zoom zoom.

My new "compact wagon" is really cool, although a big change from what I'm used to. The little lift (by Adapt Solutions) tucks my wheelchair snugly behind my driver's seat, leaving four seats open for passengers - one, of course, already reserved for a car seat. It drives great and fits me like a glove. I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the great people at Milton Martin Honda in Gainesville, Georgia, as well as all the others that helped make this happen! I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by this wonderful community and SO happy to be independent again!

In the last week and a half we've attended two awesome baby showers! The first, hosted by my Aunt and Uncle, was a beautiful dinner party - complete with our own chefs!  This past weekend, two of my closest friends hosted a perfect little afternoon get-together. We got so many adorable baby gifts and have had a blast checking each item out in great detail. But, the best part about both parties was spending time with the best people we know and seeing how much love they all already have for our baby girl. She is surrounded by love.

While I'm still feeling considerably well, over the past week, I've been experiencing some increased Braxton Hicks, or "practice contractions." Exams at the doctor have gone well, with me showing no signs of labor. However, over the past two days, increased activity or even a hint of dehydration will increase my contractions - which we don't want at this point. So, the doctor advised me to reduce activity, drink as much water as I can stand and pay close attention to my body. It's difficult to back off when there's so much to do, but I know it's what needs to happen right now. My most important job is to take care of this baby. So, I'll continue on this path and take the next few weeks one day at a time - and make sure to keep on smiling.

It's amazing that it's already November and that we'll meet little Kamryn Marlee this month. I'm looking forward to the holidays this year with a new and special excitement. Enjoy your week and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

6 Weeks To Go...

Things are getting so very exciting! I am nearing 33 weeks along and doing fantastic. I remember thinking at the very beginning of this pregnancy - I'm talking in the first few weeks - that it seemed like an eternity until our baby would be born. Since then, time has flown by and it's so evident that she'll be here before we know it.

We've been seeing my OBGYN twice a week and have had nothing but good news at each check-up. Also, she has picked a date that we'll have the baby (that's if she hasn't decided to join us before then). On November 30th, we'll go to the hospital and either induce or have a c-section, depending on what's best at the time for the baby and I. It's just astonishing that that's only 6 weeks from today.

Recently, we met with the anesthesiologist who will be present during our procedure. It was important to actually talk to him before hand so we could discuss certain complications that can occur related to my spinal cord injury, specifically called autonomic dysreflexia. Mom, Jacob and I all liked him a lot and were glad that he seemed very knowledgeable about my condition. He also did an X-ray to make sure he could do an epidural with the type of spinal fusion and hardware that I have in my back. All looked great.

Jacob and I had a really good time and learned a lot at our birthing class. Plus, it was at the hospital where I'll deliver and we got to see our beautiful rooms, with gorgeous views overlooking the North Georgia mountains. It all felt perfect. And, I must say that I was very proud when my sweet husband was the only Dad out of all there who was brave enough to get up and practice swaddling in front of the group. This little girl has no idea how lucky she is.

As we all expected, my mobility is getting more limited by the day. With determination and some help, though, I'm still maintaining my basic independence. I've started to cut out certain things that are becoming too difficult and have gotten extra creative with other daily living tasks. But these days, I'm finding more and more that even if I am able to do something - like get dressed, get out of the house, climb up into our SUV - I'm so exhausted by the time I'm finished that I have to lay back for a bit. Over the next weeks, I'll pay close attention to my body and my strength and reduce my schedule accordingly. For the time being, I'm hanging in there and being very thankful for those around me, as well as a sympathetic work environment.

Last week I had a little baby shower with some wonderful ladies I know and brought home a beautiful bassinet. I loved watching Jacob put it together. This weekend, we'll enjoy a co-ed baby shower with some family and friends. We can't wait to celebrate the coming arrival of our little girl!

I feel so fortunate that I'm experiencing this journey with the man of my dreams. I'm still in awe at how our love continues to grow each day and how comfortable and content we've felt during this entire process. I also continue to be amazed by the strength and potential of the human body. It's all an amazing miracle that I'm proud to share with you. Thanks for reading and have a happy week!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting Closer Everday...

It seems like all the pieces are coming together.  We've got two months left and the excitement is growing everyday. Last weekend, Jacob painted her room a beautiful "sun shower yellow." It's starting to feel like a nursery with the valence hung up, little hangers in the closet and a few of her things filling up some of the space. My talented husband also started construction on the accessible crib. He's doing such a great job and I can't wait to see the finished product.

We had our first "non-stress tests" (or NST) this week. In the last two weeks or so, I've had some tightening in my abdomen that we think could possibly be some minor contractions. My doctor assured me that "Braxton Hicks" are pretty common and harmless unless they started to occur more frequently. Just to be safe and keep a good eye on things, we'll start going in twice a week for these NST's, which monitor for contractions, as well as the baby's activity. When I go in, I lay on the table (with plenty of pillows) for about 40 minutes to an hour with a belt strapped to my belly. A print out provides the information the doctor is looking for. The first of these tests went great and I loved it when my doctor came in at the end, looked at the read-out, smiled and shook her head and said, "This is one beautiful baby. Everything is perfect, you can go on home."

This week, I had a great time speaking to the first-year Occupational Therapy students at Brenau University. This is the third time I've spoken to that class about mobility issues and being a wheelchair user, but the first time I've had the opportunity to share insights as to what my experiences are while pregnant. I've had many occupational therapists make a real positive impact on me over the years, so I am glad to offer any knowledge that might help these students. They were pretty impressed that at 7 1/2 months along, that I can still lift myself up into our Chevy Trail Blazer, on my own. We're in the process of getting a new accessible vehicle for me, and I look forward to that more than I can say!

I feel so fortunate to still be feeling so great this far along. Aside from some spells of exhaustion, some occasional cramped feelings (especially after I eat), shortness of breath here and there, and a recent slight increase in muscles spasms - I can't help but consider myself lucky. Also, despite some extra time and effort it takes for me to accomplish daily tasks, I'm still managing to take care of myself pretty much as usual, and I'm thankful for that as well.

As Jacob lit our first fire today, I had a noticeable awareness that we are nearing the season that our daughter will join us. She'll be here before we know it. Next weekend, we'll attend our child birth class. In three weeks, we'll have the first of our baby showers. I have a feeling we'll be pretty busy from here on out. And I'm looking forward to every moment of it.

Remember, if you or someone you know has some questions for me, feel free to send an email here, and you may also share this post. Thanks for following along and until next time, Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Motivating the Cadets at Riverside Military Academy

Today, I had the honor and privilege of speaking to the cadets at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia.  I was invited to speak as a part of their character development series, after a referral from my friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Lampton.  The experience was something I’ll never forget. 

My speech was entitled "It's All About the Attitude."  I shared my story and discussed the importance of a positive attitude and overcoming challenges.  This was the biggest audience I've had the opportunity to speak to, with over 350 cadets (grades 7-12), as well as staff members, faculty and some parents.  Also, Jacob, my parents, and few of my colleagues from Brenau University were in attendance as honorary guests.

And I must add, saying we were treated like honorary guests is an understatement.  From the moment we arrived, everyone was so kind and definitely among the most respectful group of people I've had the pleasure of spending time with.  After my speech, we were invited to stand next to the President, Dr. and Colonel Jim Benson, as the cadets performed an amazing Pass and Review.  I was so impressed by the young men and so honored to stand with my husband beside the Colonel.  

After the cadet's demonstration, we were all hosted for lunch in their beautiful dining hall.  My heart was warmed as person after person approached me and expressed that they enjoyed my presentation.  Having the opportunity to inspire those cadets to take advantage of their own potential was something I am truly grateful for.

President of Riverside Military Academy, Dr. Jim Benson, COL, and myself in the dining hall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two Down, One To Go...

Unbelievably, we are beginning the third trimester!  I'm seven months pregnant and lately, time seems to be flying by.  In less than 12 weeks, if we hit the due date, we'll be holding our baby girl.  While everything around me (and inside of me) confirms that this is reality, it all still feels like a dream.

I am very noticeably pregnant to everyone around me now, and I love it.  I feel very natural as an expectant Mom and I'm extremely proud to be carrying this baby in my belly.  Don't get me wrong - I have my moments of doubt in which I promise my husband I'll be back to my fit self that was pre-pregnancy, however, most of the time I feel healthy and beautiful.   The picture above was taken two weeks ago, already, so I'll post another picture this week to show how quickly I'm growing.

If you've been following my blog, you know that I've started making adjustments in my life to keep up with my changing mobility.  Well, remaining independent has gotten increasingly tougher in the recent weeks.  I'm having a lot of trouble getting dressed, although I can still manage.  Transferring into and out of my wheelchair is getting pretty shaky and I can tell that I'm just not as confident in my movements.  I'm still taking it one day at a time, though, and I'll seek extra help as I need it.

I'm still feeling really good, all things considered.  I am starting to get much more tired again, so I'm paying attention to sleep in a little when I can and give myself a break when needed.  I also did some research on pregnancy and spinal cord injuries and found that some of my exhaustion could sometimes be related to a lack of oxygen.  Many people with spinal cord injuries at my level and above often have weaker breathing than most people because of the lack of muscles supporting the diaphragm.  I read that this can be exaggerated for women who are pregnant, as there is extra pressure from underneath.  Plus, things are simply getting crowded since I am almost always in a seated position (my sources report that she is approximately 2 1/2 pounds and 15 inches long!).  So, when I notice I'm short of breath or extremely tired all of a sudden, I've been making a point to stretch myself out some and take some purposefully deep breaths.  It seems to be helping.

We haven't even had our baby showers yet and our home is starting to fill up with baby stuff.  It's so much fun going through it all and imagining the days to come.  And speaking of exciting, we absolutely love feeling our little girl move all the time!  She is so active, letting us know she's awake and healthy each and every day with all kinds of little movements.  If I'm having a moment of tension or getting a little frustrated about something, she always seems to move around a bit, to bring a smile to my face and remind me what a miracle this is.

Thanks again for reading, friends.  Please feel free to share this and know that you can always contact me privately for more questions.  I appreciate the opportunity to share this experience.  Have a great week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Under 15 Weeks To Go, And Counting!

Well, we're already over 25 weeks along, and getting close to the end of the second trimester.  While in one hand it feels like she'll never get here, time also seems to be flying by.  As you can see from the photo, my belly is growing at a rapid pace.  And I'm still feeling fantastic.

Just in the last week and a half or so, I've started feeling her movements inside of me.  If you read my last blog, I was only feeling her with my hand on the outside just a short time ago.  Now, however, I can totally feel her moving around in there all the time.  I've also seen my belly move with my own eyes from the outside.  She's an active baby and I'm loving these amazing sensations. 

I'll be seeing my doctor every two weeks until 30 weeks, then begin going weekly until the baby comes.  We're still unsure if I'll feel contractions when they happen, so they'll be monitoring things closely to be safe.  At last week's visit, we were both healthy and developing right on schedule.  If she's anything like her Mama, this little girl will take her time and come when she's good and ready.

Last week we received a package from our friends at Colours Wheelchair.  Jacob is getting concerned that I won't be as sturdy in the coming weeks and that I'll have a hard time catching myself if I lose my balance in a wheelie.  So, despite my protests, we now have some wheelie bars (that prevent me from flipping over backwards) that we can put on if that time comes.  I haven't worn wheelie bars since I was like 11 years old.  They're kind of like training wheels for someone who's a professional cyclist.  I'm going to feel like a total rookie with them on, but whatever keeps the baby safe is what I'm going to do.

Jacob and I are headed to the stores today to finish up our baby registries.  We've done a lot online, but there's some stuff that we just need to check out in person.  A baby sure comes with a lot of stuff!  It's all so exciting!

Thanks for reading.  Have a great week and as always, feel free to send me an email if you have any personal or more private questions I can answer!  I'm happy to share!

Friday, August 12, 2011

She's Dancing in There!

When I first got pregnant, my sister-in-law told me about a really cool website - and I've discovered the iPhone app - called  Every week, they send updates to my phone telling me what's happening with the baby, how she's developing and what changes are happening with my own body.  It's really interesting and we look forward to receiving the little notifications each week.  Today marked 23 weeks, and I was delighted by the first few sentences of our update this morning.  It read, "Turn on the radio and sway to the music.  With a sense of movement well developed by now, your baby can feel you dance."  Wow.  Now, that's what I'm talking about.

All my resources say that our baby is now probably almost a foot long and over a pound in weight.  And it's obvious she's getting bigger and becoming more active because over the past week, both Jacob and I have felt her move on several occasions.  While I'm not clearly feeling the movements inside of me (as I did the flutters early on), I do get a feeling which makes me instinctively place my hand on a particular spot on my belly and suddenly, I feel her dancing underneath the palm of my hand.  I love it and I can't wait to feel her more as she grows. 

We had a great visit at the doctor this week.  My OBGYN agreed that I don't need to continue seeing the high-risk doctor, as my pregnancy is going so smoothly and the baby seems totally healthy.  She shared some exciting news in that at 24 weeks - just a week away - the baby will be "viable."  In other words, she would survive if she came anytime after that point.  It amazes me that we've already come this far.  Also, knowing that she would live, even if she came early, gives me this wonderful sense of peace that I can't quite explain.  From here on out, I'll see the doctor much more regularly to monitor the progress.

Even with this belly that is getting quite big, I'm still managing to climb up into our Trail Blazer and my Mom's SUV without any assistance; however, I can tell that my days are numbered.  I can barely touch my fingertips to the floor when I bend over.  Hills are getting increasingly difficult to push up.  Even dressing is becoming a little more of a challenge.  But, all of this was to be expected.  I know that I've got a while to go, and I haven't seen the toughest part yet.  I'll continue to be creative and learn new ways to maneuver.  Plus, like it or not, I'll have to accept the help of the people around me.  I'm accustomed to doing things on my own and proving my independence, however, my sister-in-law recently gave me some more great advice.  She said, "You need to ask for help because your pregnant, not because you're in a wheelchair."  Thanks, sis.  That makes sense. 

Things are really getting exciting.  At 5 1/2 months, we're spending free time working on the nursery, planning guest lists for baby showers and registering for all the necessary baby supplies.  We're having so much fun and learning a lot.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to get in touch if you have any specific questions.  I'm really enjoying sharing our journey with others and educating people on the extraordinary potential of the human body.  Until next time...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Half-Way There!

This week I dreamed of our baby girl for the very first time.  I’m not sure if it was spending time with my little cousins over the past two weeks, or if it’s simply the fact that we’re half way through this pregnancy, but it was awesome.  I remember being surrounded by family and friends and looking down into sparkling baby blue eyes.  I woke up with the warmest feeling.

It’s hard to believe that I’m already 5 months – or 21 weeks – along. At last week’s appointment, the baby’s heartbeat was strong and steady, as were my vitals.  As we move forward – just growing the baby, as they put it – they’ll want to see me a little more frequently to make sure nothing's going on that I can't feel.  We got to meet the new midwife at my doctor’s office and we really liked her.  She’s positive, happy and excited to be a part of a pregnancy that’s pretty unique.  I love educating people, so I’m glad to have another person involved that’s eager to learn.

I continue to be amazed at how much more in love I am with Jacob as each day passes.  He’s such a good man and I can’t begin to imagine doing this without him.  With my growing belly, I’m finding moments where I’m less confident transferring into and out of my wheelchair or unable to reach something that I could manage before, and he’s always there to offer assistance – without  making me feel “unable.”  Plus, while my body’s changing and I’m experiencing random little side effects of being pregnant, he never stops making me feel beautiful.  I’ve got to be the luckiest girl in the world.

We’re having a blast preparing the baby’s room.  We’re still nailing down a theme – but knowing us, it will probably be something beachy.  It’s exciting just sitting in the room and dreaming of creative ways to make things as accessible as possible for me.  So many people are asking me questions that begin with “What are you going to do when…” or “How are you gonna…” and my answer is usually the same: We’re not sure, but we’re really excited to find out.

We’re loving every second of this and can’t wait for what’s to come.  I hope that my experience can inspire other women to do what some think is impossible.  Life is a miracle and the possibilities are endless with the right attitude.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Precious Baby Girl

Yesterday will go down in the books as one of my favorite days. We had a great appointment with the high-risk doctor and found out that we will be having a precious baby girl. The moment the nurse told us, it felt like my heart skipped a beat. It was surreal looking into my husband’s eyes and coming to the realization that we will soon have a daughter.

On top of the wonderful news of our baby girl, we also found out that both the baby and I are right on track and very healthy.  Every time the nurse took a measurement during the ultrasound – of the brain, the spine, the heart and various bones – she would say, “perfect.” It was music to my ears.  The high-risk doctor even indicated that he doesn’t feel like he needs to see me anymore.  He feels that the baby and I are so healthy, that we don’t really need to be considered high-risk.  That’s pretty amazing.

I’m still feeling really great, too.  Aside from a rapidly growing belly, a little more back pain than usual, and more acne than I ever had going through puberty – I pretty much feel like my old self.  I even got out to the lake this weekend and spent some time on the water and in the sunshine with some great people.  Jacob and I have been super motivated – keeping ourselves busy cleaning out, organizing and building things around the house to prepare for our sweet baby.

In the coming weeks, I’ll have to become more and more creative as I hang on tight to my independence and try not to fully rely on everyone around me to help with small tasks, such as picking stuff up off the floor.  Even transferring into and out of my wheelchair is beginning to become a bit more challenging.  I know I can handle it, though. Between my dogs (who are both a big help to me), the awesome people around me and my drive to overcome challenges, I know this will be just another fantastic learning experience that makes me appreciate the abilities that I do have.

As we count the days to bringing our little girl into this family, I continue to thank my lucky stars for the love and partnership Jacob and I share.  Furthermore, I am overwhelmed by and so grateful for the love and support we are receiving from our family and friends.  There couldn't be a better environment to bring a child into. 

Thanks so much for following our journey. If you know of anyone who would benefit from hearing our story, please feel free to pass this along - or you can email me here.  Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Today I'm celebrating what a great, hard-working Dad I have, and I'm also busy imagining what an amazing Dad my husband will be.  He's already so involved with the pregnancy and supportive and excited about all that's ahead of us, I have no doubt in my mind that he'll pour an equal amount of energy into being a Daddy.  Picturing him with our baby in his arms literally brings tears to my eyes.

I am now 15 weeks along and still feeling great.  My symptoms are few and definitely things I can handle.  I've had a few very dull headaches that seem to be a result of not getting enough fluids.  Since I was dehydrated at my first doctor's visit, making sure I take in sufficient liquids is something I really have to stay on top of.  I also notice that I get tired easier and prefer to go to bed earlier, but I'm happy to have much more energy than I did in the first trimester.  An occasional sleepless night is something that I'm sure I can attribute to changing hormones.  My occasional back pain and muscle spasms in my legs come and go, as normal, but don't seem to be any worse due to the pregnancy.  Also, I'm definitely experiencing the "swelling" that I've heard so much about, and since it occurs mostly in my feet and ankles - where I can't feel, I just make sure to pay attention.

It's interesting and exciting to observe the changes that are happening within me.  Some things are visible, including my growing belly, but others are more subtle.  For example, my taste buds are different.  I'm not quite craving anything out of the ordinary, but there are things that I used to love that just don't sound good anymore.  Once in a while, it's even challenging picking something that does appeal to my appetite.  Also, I can't help but laugh at how often I cry.  Anything that touches me emotionally brings tears to my eyes. 

I'm so happy and thankful to be spending the weekend with my husband.  He's been working almost non-stop for the past two and a half weeks, even spending some time out of town.  While I never like being without him, this time felt unusually tough.  He's my rock and when he's not around, I feel like part of me is missing, especially now.  When we were able to see each other, we'd steal some quite moments and lay on our backs and dream.  There's so much to imagine and it's so fun sharing what each other are thinking of. 

We can't wait for the next appointment with our perinatal doctor on July 6th, when there's a really good chance we will found out the sex of the baby.  It seems like baby names are constantly running through my head in all sorts of combinations, and it will be nice to be able to narrow them down a bit.  Also, I believe I've entered what people are calling the "nesting phase" because I'm so eager to start preparing the baby's room. 

We patiently await the arrival of our sweet little baby and continue to be appreciative of all the people that are sending love, blessings and happy thoughts.  Happy Father's Day to all the great Dads and Grandpas out there!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy and Healthy

I’m having the time of my life. I am nearing 14 weeks into my pregnancy; just beginning the second trimester. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t moments that are a little challenging or times that I don’t feel my best, but for the most part, I feel fantastic. Many of the symptoms I experienced in the first trimester are just about gone. I have much more energy, almost no morning sickness and a decent appetite. I’m also more in love with my husband than I’ve ever been. I really can’t complain.

One of the reasons I know I’m feeling great is that we have been doing a lot to improve our health and lifestyle over the past two years. I’ve been seeing a naturopath/dietician, a personal trainer, and an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner. Along with my OBGYN, these wonderful people make up my wellness team, and I’m so thankful for them. I’ve learned so much about the benefits of natural and holistic approaches to health and in turn, have been able to make better lifestyle and nutritional choices for Jacob and I, as well as our dogs. Everybody’s feeling good!

In the last week, several people have noticed and commented on my “baby bump”. I can definitely tell my belly is growing and actually, I’m surprised it took this long, with my lack of stomach muscles. While I don’t mind starting to show - in fact, I feel very natural - I am very aware that soon, I’ll start needing to change the way I do things to maintain my independence. Luckily, I’m pretty creative in figuring out how to get things accomplished because I’ve had a lifetime of practice. Plus, Jacob is excellent at thinking outside the box and taking the best care of me.

One of the coolest and most recent developments is the fact that I’m feeling some definite “flutters” inside me. I know it’s early, but after poking around on some of my favorite baby and pregnancy websites, I’ve found that I’m not alone in the sensations I’ve been having. Other women report feeling these tiny movements or little jolts of energy from within their belly - even this early. I’ve noticed this a few times over the past week when I’m lying very still. I wasn’t quite sure I’d feel movement, do to my lack of feeling in the abdomen. So, the fact that I can already feel something is awe-inspiring, and so very exciting.

I’m still elated after meeting with the high-risk doctor. It was such a relief hearing from a doctor that obviously knows about spinal cord injuries and is very comfortable talking about my specific situation. He was so optimistic - expecting no complications throughout the pregnancy. I was so excited to hear that he also believed that the possibility for a normal delivery was really good. He explained that my muscles are active and strong and while I don’t have control, contractions would happen regardless. The power and resilience of the human body never fails to amaze me.

Keep an eye out for more updates, as well as some video we've been shooting. Thanks for reading and please feel free to send me an email if you have any specific, or maybe more personal questions. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share this experience with others.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We're Expecting...

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that about six weeks ago, my husband, Jacob, and I found out that we are expecting our first baby. At this point in the pregnancy, I am just over 12 weeks along, and feeling really good.

For those of you who don't know, Jacob and I have known each other since we were ten years old, have been best friends for well over ten years, and are getting ready to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. He is the best friend and partner that I could ever imagine. We have the kind of love and relationship that I used to dream about. I am so lucky to have him in my life and I couldn't imagine embarking on this journey with anyone else in the world.

I always knew I wanted to have kids and as far as I can remember, the doctors always seemed to be optimistic about the possibility. And even with the unknowns, I really believed I could. At least, I believed in the potential. I have to admit, though, now that it's real and I've heard the rapid little heartbeat and seen an amazing little baby dancing in my womb... It's pretty unbelievable and astonishing. But, maybe every woman feels like this.

I realize now that I did have tiny doubts hidden deep within me - also probably very common for many women. Over the past year and half, I started to even get a little anxious about it. Was something wrong with me that I couldn't feel? In fact, at the last visit before I found out that I was pregnant, the doctor suggested I begin getting some tests done to make sure everything was okay. I remember coming home and deciding to let go. It would happen if and when it was supposed to happen. I was not going to count days anymore. I was not going to do those tests. At least, not now. Not saying that I never would... just that things never work very well when you force them. Especially for me. I'm a go with the flow kind of girl and I knew I needed to reconnect with that. It was about six weeks later I took a positive pregnancy test.

I don't think I've ever been so shocked in my life. I couldn't stop looking at the test. I happened to be home alone, so I had to call Jacob (I couldn't bare to wait a single moment). And I'm pretty sure I scared him half to death with my sobbing until I could manage to get the words out. Watching his joy, pride and excitement in this has been one of the most magical parts.

While there are women out there with spinal cord injuries that have had babies, it sure isn't common. My specific injury makes the situation a little more unique. I am paralyzed completely below T-5 - or a little bit below my sternum, down. This means that I can not voluntarily move, control or feel anything below that point.

I'm very excited to share this journey. While my doctors have little concerns and I'm in really good health, there will be unknowns. From unexpected surprises in the pregnancy, to learning how to live in a wheelchair with a pregnant belly, to figuring out when I'm in labor... this is going to be the most amazing and exciting experience of our lives. The most important thing is that we're surrounded by good doctors, wonderful alternative health practitioners, and the best family, friends and colleagues we could ask for.

Please stay tuned to follow our story of bringing Baby Rhoades into this world.