Grace Lee: Weeks 34-39

motherhood, Uncategorized

I was blessed to have a fairly uneventful pregnancy – aside from an ER visit early on at around 14 weeks due to severe stomach pain (which resulted in a doctor-recommendation of Colace… that’s a totally different and embarrassing story) – I went to my visits, dealt with the occasional swollen feet and back discomfort, but was overall very healthy… up until I reached the 34th week.

As I was sitting at my desk at work, I suddenly felt dizziness that wouldn’t subside. I couldn’t concentrate. I tried to ignore it and push through, assuming it was just an unpleasant new symptom of pregnancy. Later that evening, I felt an extreme exhaustion that was new. I just didn’t feel like it was normal. I stopped at the grocery store to take my blood pressure reading, mostly because I had drank tons of water and couldn’t think of any other reason for this feeling… 150s/90s. My normal reading had been 110/70 throughout pregnancy. Knowing that those grocery store measures could be inaccurate, I stopped at my mom’s on the way home and used her cuff… same readings. I called the after-hours line and was directed to call as soon as the office opened the next morning.

Bright and early, Corey and I made our way in for an appointment. When the nurse took my reading, my BP had reached 160/100… the doctor never even came into the room – instead, she sent me directly to triage for monitoring. There, I had an ultrasound – everything looked good, but the tech said she could not see Grace ‘practicing’ to breathe. Maternal Fetal Medicine would need to come in to do another ultrasound – thankfully, this ultrasound showed Grace breathing. The next few hours, I was hooked up to a stress test and my blood pressure reading was taken every 30 minutes. I received the first of 2 steroid shots to help mature Grace’s lungs, should I have to be induced. My BP came down with rest. I’d also need to do a 24-hour urine collection to test for preeclampsia. 10 hours later, I was discharged with instructions to lay on my left side through the weekend, and come back to the Heart the next morning for the second steroid shot.

The day after, we dropped off the urine hold, which Corey carried out to the car. Could this seemingly unimportant and semi-gross little tidbit be left untold in this story? Probably. But it also made me realize how helpless, vulnerable, and how any sense of pride or modesty that I had would need to be pushed aside. It also reminded me of my husbands selflessness, humility, and love for me.

When I followed up with my OB on the following Monday morning, after a weekend of rest, my blood pressure was again sky-high. The first thing our doctor said to me was, “You’re done working.” Immediately my heart began racing thinking of all of the loose ends I still wanted to tie up at the office… not to mention a presentation I was scheduled to give to the marketing team of a celebrity’s makeup line that week. Thankfully, my 24-hour hold came back clear and I did not have preeclampsia… BUT again, I was sent to the hospital for more monitoring. My blood pressure came down again with rest, but an ultrasound showed low amniotic fluid. Thus began a 2-3x per week appointment schedule between MFM and my OB – checking my BP, baby’s heart rate with countless stress tests, and amniotic fluid levels – which thankfully stayed on “the low side of normal” which was not ideal but was normal, nonetheless.

Throughout the following weeks, my blood pressure would range from 130/80 to 160/100. Because I was having average readings a few times per day, I was not put on any medications to lower it for fear that it would drop TOO low which would have been dangerous as well.

I’ve been asked so many times what I did during 4 full weeks of prescribed bed rest. When I was pregnant, I would daydream about naps. Like most pregnant ladies, I craved sleep… and a day of doing nothing. Let me tell you, bed rest was great for the very first day… and maybe half of the second day. After that, it was pure torture. So here is what I did:

  • I watched a lot of TV: Catfish, Teen Mom, Law & Order: SVU, This Is Us.
  • I read a book: Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn.
  • I pinned on my phone… but you’d be surprised how quickly that gets boring.
  • I read gossip magazines.
  • I packed our hospital bags VERY slowly. If you’re interested in what I packed, click here.
  • I put conditioning treatments in my hair.
  • I ordered stuff from Amazon that we did not need: a bluetooth speaker, the I Know What You Did Last Summer DVD collector set, motion sensor lights, and an eye pillow.
  • I scrapbooked – until my blood pressure went up from sitting upright… yes, it was that sensitive.
  • I ate… and I mean ate. I gained 18 pounds (on top of the 50 I had already gained…) during those 4 weeks.

But mostly, each day involved sleeping, praying, talking to Grace, and wondering what she would look like, and wondering if today would be the day.

I talk about it lightly now, but it was the scariest time of my life. I had no control of anything, and gosh I worried, and the more I worried, the higher my BP would rise. I reread the same two verses over and over again:

He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.

And God did help us. He was so faithful to us. I worried for Grace, and Corey put on a brave face but he would later tell me how scared he was for me.

Each week at the doctor’s office, there would be talk of inducing the following week, but we all were determined to keep Grace in my belly as long as possible. At my 38-week appointment, I was 1cm dilated and 70% effaced. The doctor said she saw no reason to keep me pregnant past 39 weeks, so we scheduled my induction for November 24th – Black Friday.


motherhood, Uncategorized

You rub your tired eyes and tug at your ears. Your mouth stretches to a yawn but before your lips close, you let out a big sigh… trying to hide the sleepiness because you’re too worried you’ll miss something if I lay you down.

You’re going to be a handful, we say. You’re a riot, we say. So silly, so smart. But you are so genuinely sweet. So analytical and thoughtful. I can tell you’re really going to captivate us. You already do.

I cradle you. Once upon a time, I could hold the length of you with one arm. But not anymore. Now, your legs overflow off of my lap. You cross your ankles and close your eyes. No more fighting the tiredness. You’ve found solace with me. I am your favorite place to be; your mama.

I’ve been rocking you a little longer these days. I’ve been making up more verses to “you are my sunshine” for us. I’ve been sure to hold your hand while you sleep. I’ve been running my fingers through your hair a few more times than I did before. Extra kisses on your nose before I lay you down. Endless whispers of goodnight.

Moments are fleeting, I’ve heard. The days are long, but the years are short, I’m told. For every first, there is a last, and I savor each one as I know this to be true.


motherhood, Uncategorized

I wake up to “ba-ba” sounds coming from across the hall. 6:50am. Grace slept in… yes! It’s still dark outside and it’s chilly in our house. I roll over. Corey whispers, “Happy birthday” and gives me a kiss. I smile and make my way out of bed. I open Grace’s door and even though the sun hasn’t risen and her room is still dark, I can see her sleepy eyes and two-toothed smile. She’s bouncing up and down in her crib without lifting her feet, anxiously waiting for me to come scoop her up. I do, and she starts whispering ma-ma’s as we make our way back into our bedroom. I lay her down in our bed and climb in myself. The three of us are cozy for a moment, until Grace crawls over us both like we’re a playground. My favorite 15 minutes of the day.

Corey and I throw on jeans, get the baby dressed, and the three of us are out the door. He drives us into the city to pick up coffee. The man behind us in line at the cafe is holding one of those small foil balloons that belong in a vase of flowers and Grace cannot stop staring at it. I fall in love with how new everything is to her. I make a mental note to pick one up for her next time we’re at the grocery store.

We stop to pick out donuts on the way home. I order one with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Corey tells the cashier I’ll also have the pumpkin streusel flavor. It is my birthday, after all. I make big eyes and act like that’s just crazy, but I eat both, happily. Corey has Grace sitting on his knee and I let her try some icing, but she is more concerned about her next banana puff. We finish and leave, a sugar haze around us.

Corey holds my hand the entire drive back in the car. Grace goes down for a nap when we get home and I collapse on the couch, closing my eyes in thankfulness. I open them and ask Corey to come sit next to me. We talk, look at home furnishing ideas for the investment property, and just exist next to each other. Never mind the dishes, the toys on the floor that we so often trip over, or the half-completed first birthday invitations and envelopes I have strewn across the ottoman. The mess can stay today.

Maybe this isn’t a birthday morning that some would call extraordinary. To me, it is magic. I want to soak in and remember every detail. When I turned 27, I was heartbroken. When I turned 28, I dreamt of this day.

How grateful am I that no matter how much I change year to year, God NEVER does. He is with me today just as much as he was in years past, and not any less than he will be in the future. 27 was a time to lose, a time to embrace. 28 was a time to heal, a time to plant. I don’t know what 29 will bring, but he does. Maybe it will be a great year by definition; maybe it will be the most heartbreaking yet. Regardless, I trust him and am thankful for this season of peace.

For everything there is a season, and a tie for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I remember you


I remember you
In worn out blue jeans and your old t-shirts – the kind with the pocket on the chest – working away on your latest project.
I remember you
Telling jokes so simple and obvious that they would make me laugh, and then you’d laugh, and soon enough we’d be in our own little fit, with others around the table smiling and wondering why it was so funny just to us.
I remember you
Taking calls in the office – alternating between Pennsylvania Dutch and English, calling everyone “Boova!”
I remember you
With your country Western music in the old truck, your special chair you sat in in the living room.
I remember you
Building us a life-size teepee in the backyard, a place of our own at your house so we could play,
Using your excavator to pile up all the snow you could manage into a hill that we could sled down in the driveway.
I remember you
Driving the mower around the backyard, us kids with our bare feet hanging off the edge of the wagon attached in the back.
Cutting watermelon in the summertime out by the barn, with juice running down all of our faces.
I remember you as Santa Claus
and how I argued with the kids in school that Santa was real – because I had seen him in the flesh, sneaking into my house to drop off presents.
I remember you in ‘The Shop’
A place where cheese and pretzels and ring bologna and beers and laughs never ran out.
All of the parties, the cookouts, the yard sales, the family reunions. I was so young, but I remember. You star in the fondest memories of so many. Especially mine.

When we’re young, we never know we will live a day without our grandparents. When we’re older, we know better, but we fight the thought with all we have because we can’t imagine the emptiness without them.

I will remember you with that smile. You’d look at me and shake your head and smile like you just couldn’t believe your eyes. You always made me feel so special.

I will remember you always this way, my grandpa: with your unruly white hair and your bright eyes and your big smile and your hugs. I will remember you always by the way you’d make me belly laugh and how I always felt safe in your presence. I will remember you with your strength and your zest and your talents and your endearing Dutch accent. I will always remember you with so much love.


motherhood, Uncategorized

Today is a birthday different from any other I’ve had before. 1 month ago today we found out I was pregnant. 1 week ago today I had a miscarriage.

Each year, I have planned dinners, cocktails, small get togethers… To celebrate the past 12 months and welcome in the next. I would use the day as a reason to get all of our friends together…I would buy a new dress. Eat a fancy dessert. Use the day as an excuse to be totally selfish.

I’ve been told that once you become a mother, it’s never all about you again. Your child will come first forever, and you’ll make sacrifices, and it won’t be comfortable at first, but you won’t trade it for anything tangible or not in the world. I won’t have a baby in my arms come May, but I can tell you I will be forever changed because of the 3 short weeks I grasped that I would become a mother.

When we found out, Corey wanted to share the news with everyone we knew. I didn’t think I could love him any deeper than I already did, but seeing the pride he had for our growing family made my heart explode. I knew it was hard for him to hold back the news. “If something happens though…” I would say. The thing is, “something” did happen, and I find myself wishing I would have told everyone with whom I crossed paths. What a gift we had been given. I celebrate the blessing of being able to become pregnant, and I mourn the loss at the same time.

This day isn’t the day I pictured, and I can’t help feeling like I’m missing someone as my 27th year begins, but I’m so thankful for God’s faithfulness and I pray that He works through me to connect with other women who have experienced this, and to talk about it…because sometimes the most comforting thing someone can say to you in a hard time is “me too.”

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18