Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dallys Jean *A Birth Story*

I knew that I wanted to write this out, but I wasn't sure I wanted to share because it was so special to me. I love reading and hearing my friends' birth stories, though, so I finally decided I could share some of my experience...

So, earlier on in our pregnancy, we were given multiple 'due dates'. The doctors seemed to be going back and forth between November 28th and December 3rd... (my OBGYN has a 'round-robin' type of practice so you can meet all of the docs before you deliver because you'll get whoever is on call that day). A few weeks ago, we actually asked what the actual date was they were going for because we had been told differently so often. They said we'd go with the later date because they were pretty close together anyway. I was happy because babies tend to run late in our families and I really didn't want to medically induce labor if I happened to go late.

About a two weeks before Thanksgiving week, I started having real contractions. They weren't very close together, though. I went to my weekly appointments and I was dilated to 1 cm. The contractions continued, but didn't change and I was gaining 1 cm at each weekly check-up. 

I had a weekly on November 25th, and on the 23rd, I downloaded an app on my phone so I could start timing them. I was too impatient and distracted to try to do it myself, plus I didn't think I was ready yet. They were still too far apart.  The next night, they were coming regularly, about 8 minutes apart and lasting for about 20 seconds each. I called the hospital and asked them if they thought I should come in. Their response was that if I can talk through them, and they're not taking my breath away, I probably wasn't ready to go in yet. I sent my mom a text message, though, with a screen-shot of my times to ask her opinion, too. We decided to stay home and keep timing so I tried to get as much sleep as I could.

On Wednesday morning, Andrew and I got up and were sitting at the table eating breakfast when there was a knock at the door. To our surprise, my mother was standing there upon our opening of the door. We were shocked and just laughed... Andrew's first words out of his mouth were, "What are you doing here?"! (She lives about 7-8 hours away, so she had been driving all night through a crazy snow-storm to get there). 

We had a few errands to run so we headed into Kalispell with Mom. I was doing well, but I had a weekly check-up and when we got there, I was dilated to a 4.5 and the NP stripped my membranes. She said she thought we'd have the baby by the end of the weekend with how I was handling things while in her office. (The contractions were still coming about 7-8 minutes apart, so very little change). We went to Costco after the doc visit and I noticed that it was getting harder to walk through my contractions. Slowly, I noticed that they were beginning to come closer together. We finished our errands and headed home. When we got there, it was about 4:30 PM and Andrew started to build a fire, but I told him we probably wouldn't be needing one that night. 

I bounced around on the exercise ball for a while and walked around our apartment... by 5:30, they were coming about 4-5 minutes apart and getting stronger, but I could still talk through them and I really didn't want to be turned away if we went to the hospital. 

We finally decided to go in and pulled into the parking lot right at 7 PM. Thankfully, they admitted me right away. I wasn't sure what they would do because I felt that I was handling things pretty well, and I still hadn't hit that 'out of breath' state, but I just knew that it wouldn't be long.

In L&D, I stayed standing up because it was super uncomfortable for me to sit or lay down. When we got checked out upon arrival, I had dilated to 6 cm (super awesome after going 1 cm/week up to that point... almost 2 cm in just a few hours). 

Andrew and I had started reading Patrick McManus' book, "A FINE AND PLEASANT MISERY" a few days earlier and I thought it would be nice to take my mind off things so I pulled it out and started reading. If you're not familiar with Pat, he's an author who grew up in the Idaho Rockies. He writes about his experiences as a boy and his stories will make you laugh out loud. It worked for us, and within five minutes of me pulling the book out, we were laughing, when suddenly, I felt and heard this 'pop'. I stopped laughing, looked up and said, "I think my water just broke!"

Sure enough, it had... I'm not sure, but think it must have been about 9 PM at this time and the nurses came in and told me I was doing awesome, but that the contractions would probably be a lot more painful at this point. They asked if I'd like an epidural. I wasn't against getting one, but the pain was still tolerable and my plan was that I would take it as it comes... if I felt that I couldn't go further without it, I'd get one. At this point, I was still doing great with things and so I told them I'd keep going how we were.

I hopped up on the bed on all fours to stretch my back out because that's where most of my pain was at this time. For a while, I just rocked back and forth on the peanut ball on the bed until they asked if I'd like to get into the bath. Bath-time is one of my FAVORITE past-times and go-to relaxers at home, so I thought this sounded like a grand idea. This is where things changed...

I'm not exactly sure what happened, but as soon as I hit the water, my body kind of started to go into shock. I began shaking/trembling out of control and I couldn't seem to get my bearings back. My breathing, up to this point, had been deep and in-control, but with the shaking, it suddenly became shallow and out of rhythm. To add to it, I was starting to have the urge to push, but I still wasn't fully dilated, so the nurses asked me to try to get my breathing back under control so I wouldn't try to push too soon. They wanted me to get back on the bed, but I couldn't get out of the tub for the shaking...

It seems that time was speeding by at this point and everything became a blur... I remember the nurses talking to me about gathering my bearings and just making a run for the bed between contractions, but I couldn't even lift myself up I was shaking so bad. I remember looking at Andrew and telling him I didn't know if I could do what I needed to do in that moment. I also asked the nurses if we could get the epidural when I could figure out a way to get into the bed. That gave me a reason to figure out a way out of the bathtub. 

Somehow, I finally lifted myself into a semi-standing position and Andrew basically carried me to the bed. I was shaking so much, I couldn't even bear myself up on my own feet.

I rolled to my side and went through a few contractions when the anesthesiologist arrived. At this point, though, I could feel Dallys moving down and I really didn't know if I was going to be able to sit still long enough for him to get the needle in. I was finally starting to slow with the shaking, and my IV pole was next to the bed, so I reached up and clutched it for dear life as he worked on my back. I remember saying that I didn't think we had time because that urge to push was coming even stronger and I was still laying on my side. 

Somehow, I managed to hold still long enough for everything to work and I was so grateful for the medicine. I had been freezing since getting out of the tub and the first sensation I noticed was a warming which took the edge off and allowed me to relax.

About 15 minutes after I got the epidural, it was time to start pushing. It was sometime around 11 PM. I pushed for just over 40 minutes and she was here! I couldn't believe that in less than 5 hours from our arrival at the hospital we already had her in our arms! It was an amazing experience.

I was surprised at how quickly I healed and how good I felt just after. I am so grateful for the experience. I wouldn't call it 'easy' but it was strangely enjoyable and definitely nothing like what I thought it would be like.

And that's the story... but the real story is just beginning!

Friday, November 6, 2015

My reaction to the Church's "New" Policy.

L. Tom Perry said, "Family is the center of life; it is the key to eternal happiness."

Last night, as I read article after article about church policy, I was stirred. 

First, because it seems the way these articles were headlined were sensationalized to grab people's attention. It was working... people were definitely paying attention. 

Second, because the 'policy' that was being reported was not news to me, nor, do I think it should have been news to any active member of my faith. There was no change in doctrine and The Church has stood it's ground on the topic at hand.

Thirdly, I was brought back to memories of my own childhood and my journey to finding the place where I knew I belonged. It was thinking through my own experiences where I came to a peaceful understanding of what was happening, and I'd like to share a little of my story...

I was raised in a loving home, but religion was not part of our lives. We did not speak of God or things of that nature in our house. We rarely attended church services of any sort, and although I still don't fully understand why, my dad had always seemed to have animosity for one church in particular; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Imagine how surprised he must have been the day that I came to him asking for his permission for me to be baptized and join ranking with 'those Mormons'. 

To add a little more detail, this was not a decision I made on a whim. Throughout my childhood, I had visited many church congregations of multiple denominations. This usually happened when I would sleep over with friends or extended family on the weekend and fall into their routine. I was always fascinated with the idea of something bigger than myself and even though I didn't really understand it, I had always felt that there was something missing from my life. 

When I was about 14, my parents divorced and for the first time in my life, my dad started actively studying The Gospel of Jesus Christ. He began attending a foursquare church and I attended with him. I loved the people there and it was great to finally have a little light in my life that had been missing for so long, but there were times that I felt uncomfortable and confused by some of the doctrine that was being taught. I continued studying other churches and eventually, I began meeting with Mormon missionaries. 

I love the promise of The Gospel and the Plan of Happiness. I identify with the doctrine that we have Heavenly parents who wish for our progress and happiness. I love the feeling of familiarity that has always been with me when I have studied the Gospel. The peace that it has brought to my life, in even the most trying of times. I love the Priesthood and the order that exists in The Church. To me, it just made sense.

I began building a testimony of what I was learning at a time when other stability I had in life had been taken away from me. Life as I had known it had been turned completely upside-down. I was living in a joint-custody relationship with my parents. Spending half the week with my mother, then switching and spending the next half with my father's family. I felt that there was no place for me to feel at home. The houses where I laid my head were just houses. I had lost a sense of who I was, and a major depression had begun to set into my life. Under the pressure, my father and I began to drift apart. It was hard for me at the time. 

The Gospel provided the relief and sense of purpose that I needed. I didn't know how big of a role it would play in my life, but I knew without a doubt in my heart that there was something there that I needed. I made the decision to be baptized, which was actually a rather simple decision for me to make, it was what came with that decision that I wasn't prepared for.

Because I was a minor, I needed permission from both of my parents. My mother was not partial either-way and consented quickly. By this time, however, I was no longer living with my father part-time. The stress had become too much for me and I had requested full custody from my mother a few months prior to arriving at this decision. I knew that getting my dad's permission wasn't going to be easy.

He tried to talk me out of it. He told me he didn't support it. He made multiple arguments against it, but eventually, he understood that I had already made the decision for myself and he consented. I will be forever grateful to him for this, because he could have just as easily said no.

I was sixteen at this time, so I would have only had to wait two years until I didn't need permission anyway, but I was ready then and I went ahead with my convictions. It was the hardest best thing I have ever done for myself.

So, that is a little of my story and how I arrived here, today, minus a few details. The reason that I write, however, is actually to tell about my experience after I was baptized. 

You see, by making that decision, I had taken on a challenge I didn't even know existed. When you are convicted to something in one area of your life that conflicts with what is happening in your home, life can become very confusing and trying.

I love my family, and it wasn't like they were going out and doing anything particularly sinful or of bad nature. They were just people living their lives. However, our values didn't match. Things that were important to me were twisted and turned against me. When I would visit with my dad, or step-siblings (both my mother's and my father's children), our views didn't always match up. Often, conversations would take place with them questioning why I did things the way I did, or trying to disprove things to me. I felt judged often. It often felt that I was walking between a line of proving myself to them and coming across as snobbish and full of myself. I feel there were expectations placed on me that were unfair and contrite.

Now, whether these feelings were justified, or merely my perception, I don't know. I do, however, know that it brought on unwelcome stress and anxiety in my last two years of high school. I remember meeting with my bishop for counseling and telling him I just couldn't wait until I turned 18 so I could be out on my own and be free to make my own choices rather than having to explain and justify everything I did.

This brings me back to the policy that was so prevalent in social media. The idea that a child must wait until he or she is 18 to become a member of The Church if there is obvious conflict in the home that he or she resides.

Here is my testimony of what a mercy this is from God.

God is no respecter of persons. You don't have to be a member of the 'right Church' in order to hold a relationship with Him. He WILL NOT revoke blessings from those who seek for better things in life. However, God is a god of order. He does have a plan that has been set here for our better good. His plan makes sense. He has accounted for every circumstance that may befall upon His children, and no person who requests His blessings will be denied. His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He will place stepping stones in our path to guide us to His goodness. I know that oftentimes, those stepping stones first appear as stumbling blocks. This policy does not come from a place of hate in the Church. Rather, it is a blessing and a tender mercy that children will not have to deal with the confusion that comes from conflicted teachings in the home and in the Church. It is not meant to be a punishment, but a trial of faith. I know that we will not be punished for the sins of our fathers. God looketh on the heart, and not the outward appearance. He, and only He truly knows and understands the desires of our hearts. He has provided a savior to come in our stead to vouch for us so that we might not be judged for our shortcomings and imperfections. His plan is perfect, and every wrong will be righted and everything that is taken from us will be returned a hundredfold in the world to come. The Church creating a policy that slows the process of someone making a very, very important choice is not a policy of hatred. It does not deny a person God's blessings. It does not mean that someone who's life has taken them on a different journey is seen as better or more pure in God's eyes. Remember, God is no respecter of persons. I don't claim to know why there seems to be so much contention brought up from this policy (which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the doctrine of the Church). I do, however, know that to God, there are two very important principles that we often don't understand how important they are to Him. The first, is that the family is the single most important unit on this Earth. It is central to the Creator's plan for the Eternal destiny of His children. It was the first commandment He gave to Adam and Eve when He brought them to the Garden of Eden. He will do everything in His power to keep family units together (even though there are laws that He is bound to follow). Secondly, the principle of gifting us with our own moral agency. Our agency is so important to Heavenly Father, that He will allow us to make decisions that trump His will. That is hugely important to understand. He loves us so much, that our own will and choice is what we live by. However, we are not free from the consequences that come with that freedom, whether they be good or bad. I believe that is something that we often forget in the scheme of things.

The last thing that I'd like to say is that God is a god of Love. He knows you and the trials of your heart. Please, don't turn from Him because your are distracted by the shortcomings of people around you. He is perfect, and His love for you is perfect. I don't know, but I think we're all going to be quite surprised when the time comes that all truth is revealed to us and we see how foolish we were to put such stock and creedence into what are really very trivial things here on Earth. I really believe that it is much more simple than we like to make it. Man is that He might have joy. Don't bog yourself so much in trivial things that you forget to enjoy your life and miss the beauty that is all around you. Life really is a blessed and beautiful thing. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Filling the Freezer... My Food Prep for Baby Experience

I don't consider myself to be much of the homemaker type, but I found this experience to be quite pleasant and I was so excited about the end result, I can definitely see myself doing it again and even incorporating something similar into a more regular schedule. I have had a few friends asking me HOW I did it...

About two weeks ago, I started thinking about how I will prepare our meals once little Dally arrives. I'll admit... the whole idea of cooking with a new-born baby terrifies me. Not to mention, we live pretty far from family and I have no idea how much time we will have to fend for ourselves before family can stop in and help out. I also have a firm belief in self-reliance, but I realize that there are times in life when we must humble ourselves and ask for help. To put my pride at bay, I thought it'd be a great idea to make up a few meals now that I could throw in the freezer for quick and easy meals later.

It's actually kind-of funny how this whole project started... Andrew and I were shopping a few weeks ago and we walked down an aisle that I am totally unfamiliar with... the freezer section. Andrew mentioned how strange it was that we never buy anything from that aisle, but he knows people who live off of those types of foods. We joked about it for a few minutes, and then I thought it actually wouldn't be such a bad idea to have that option if we were in a jam. 

So... that's how it started and here's what I did about.

First, I went home and thought about the foods that we love. I started making a list of foods that would freeze well and that we love eating. You know... those 'healthier' comfort foods that I think we'll enjoy in the winter and with a new little one in the home.

The list looked like this:
Stir Fry
Roast w/veggies
Taco Soup
White Chili
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
New Orleans Gumbo
Clam Chowder

It was that simple... I realized that these meals use a lot of the same basic ingredients... example... ground meat, shredded chicken, chopped veggies, etc.

I started making my list of ingredients by taking a look in my pantry. After I knew what I already had on hand, I wrote down everything I'd need from the store. I took about 3 hours to shop. I first went to Costco and got bulk of the items that could be used for multiple dishes, then I ran to Super One (our local super-market) for the remaining ingredients that I didn't want to bulk up on (like 1/2&1/2 for soup base etc.) I spent about $200, but I also purchased some items that weren't used for the freezer meals and would be used for our regular menu. 

When I got home, I put everything in the refrigerator and just left it there for two days. I didn't want to overwhelm myself by trying to do everything at once.

To start the process, I made sure my kitchen was clean. No dishes in the sink and all of my counter spaces clean and free so I could have the space I needed. This was probably one of the best decisions because I felt in-control and I could see only what I was working on.

I started by grabbing a stock pot and filling it with seasoned water. I brought it to a boil and added a whole Costco-sized bag of chicken tenders and a chopped onion. I popped a lid on and let it boil and cook on the stove-top while I turned my attention to the ground-meat.

I had purchased a huge portion of ground-meat and from one package, I made 2 meatloaves, 2 lasagnas, and 2 batches of taco soup (from about 5.5 lbs of meat). To do this, I shredded 1-2 large carrots/pound of meat mixture to bulk it up a bit. The carrots are great because you get a serving of veggies unexpectedly, and they lower your cost by bulking up your meat. You can't tell they are there once they are cooked. I just used the fine-grate on my cheese grater, but a food processor would cut your time down significantly if you're wanting to do this.

First, I formed the meatloaves, then stuck them in the freezer. Next, I grabbed a skillet and made my taco meat. I threw that into a bowl to cool a bit, rinsed my pan and made the meat mixture for my lasagna. I left that in the pan to cool, turned around and grabbed my taco meat and threw it into some labeled baggies then put those in the freezer. All I have to do for soup is add beans, corn and tomatoes in the crockpot!

Once that was done, I turned around, took the chicken out of the stock that I had created and put it into the rinsed bowl that I had used earlier for the taco meat. Threw that in the fridge to cool down and turned my attention back to the lasagna mixture. 

I bought two throw-away lasagna pans, so I just started layering the meat, noodles and cheese like I normally make the pasta. The recipe that I use does not require you to pre-cook the noodles, so this was super quick and efficient. I covered them with foil, labeled them and placed them in the freezer.

Next, I grabbed my chicken (I had set the stock aside and would use that later in two of my recipes! Yay for no waste... the only thing I had thrown out so far were onion tips). In the bowl that I was cooling the chicken in, I grabbed my hand mixer, put the dough hooks on, and started mixing my chicken at the lowest setting. A few moments later, I had plenty of shredded chicken!

I used that chicken for a few things. I split some up into quart-sized baggies with some watered down BBQ sauce that we'll use to make sandwiches later. I got about 3 baggies worth. I also used it for our chili and the gumbo. Those and the clam chowder were probably the most time-consuming.

I put beans aside to soak for the chili and started on the gumbo. (If you've ever made it, you know how long the rue can take). I stirred the rue and used some of the stock that I had created from my shredded chicken.

This is when I started chopping veggies... Clam chowder, gumbo, stir-fry, roast and fajitas have the same basic veggies. So, while the gumbo was cooking, I chopped onions, green peppers, carrots, potatoes and celery and split them into their respective recipes. I added the veggies to the gumbo and started the clam-chowder veggie stock base then let those simmer while I turned my attention to a roast that had been waiting in the fridge.

I grabbed 4 gallon sized bags and cut the roast four ways (if you've ever bought a roast at Costco, you'll understand why I got 4 portions). I put potatoes, carrots, meat and some of the chicken stock that I still had. Labeled the bags and threw them into the freezer.

By this time, the gumbo was done and set aside to cool. I made the rue for the clam chowder and let it cook a bit longer while I split the gumbo into baggies and froze them (I'll have to cook rice when we eat the gumbo, but that's simple enough). 

I took my soaking beans and put them into a stock-pot to boil with all of the herbs,veggies and seasonings we use for our chili, plus the remaining portion of my chicken stock.

I pushed the clam chowder aside to cool and turned back to my veggies. I had a few steaks that I put into baggies with marinade for stir-fry and fajitas. I then divided up the veggies into some baggies and put those in a larger bag with the meat, labeled and stuck in the freezer. When we're ready for those, we'll defrost them in the fridge overnight (double whammy because they'll marinate as they defrost), then just sear the veggies and meat and slice it up to serve.

I came back to my clam chowder, divided it into labeled baggies... and... I think you know the drill!

Lastly, I added the chicken to my chili and set it aside to cool while I cleaned up the dishes (which were few because I had rinsed and reused throughout the entire process). When I was done with that, I split up the chili into baggies and... you guessed it!

Then I just had a few odds and ends to clean up. 

If you're still reading this, you're awesome and I would love to answer any questions that you may have gathered, but it's pretty self-explanatory. The whole process was WAY more simple than I thought it would be and it took me about 4.5 hours from start to finish (not including shopping time).

I will definitely be doing this more in the future!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Journey, Part VI (6) - Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town

The next morning, we all headed to church. In our church, we have on Sunday each month that is set aside as "Fast and Testimony Meeting". Instead of the Bishopric choosing the speakers and topic to be taught during our Sacrament meeting (much like communion), the members of the congregation fast for two meals, and the meeting is left open to anyone who would like to stand and bear their own, personal testimony of the principles of the Gospel, and to bear personal witness of their relationship with Christ. The meeting is open to everyone, even small children.

My niece, "J", hopped up and offered a beautiful testimony on her feelings. I honestly don't remember what she said, but I remember the feeling that I had while she was speaking. I really appreciated what she had to say... until she got to the end... it seemed like she was done speaking, but for some reason, instead of ending, she spoke back up and said,

"...and, I'm so happy for my aunt because she is going to have a baby soon."

And I felt the floor drop out from under me. 

I began to see everything in a shade of pink, and I'm sure that anyone looking at me might have been concerned about the crimson red shade that must have suddenly replaced my usually peachy complexion. I suddenly found the very simple act of breathing was becoming something that I had to consciously tell myself to do, and I became aware that my body was doing some type of crazy convulsion, which, I'm sure, was it's way of saying, "Keep it together girl" as I was fighting off this other natural instinct to either run away and hide, or stand up and tear apart everything around me. I think it's referred to as 'the fight or flight response'. I also became increasingly aware that my emotions were very confused as well, and, to this day, I am still not sure whether what happened on the church bench that day was me sobbing inconsolably or laughing hysterically, but I knew that whatever was happening was completely out of my control, so I sat helplessly as tears streamed down my cheeks and soft broken sputtering sounds escaped from my clenched lips.

AND, not to mention the fact that, were there not already enough attention drawn to me at this point, a dear elderly sister of the congregation whom I have known for years was next in line after, J, and she walked up to the pulpit and said, "Well, looks like the cat's out of the bag whether it was intended to be or not!" While she demonstrated a very impressive wink and point at me, before proceeding into her own testimony. I'm just glad we were sitting fairly close to the front, so there were very few opportunities for me to steal a glance from those who had actually turned around in their seats to crack a huge grin, or a thumbs up and my husband and me.

Still, it didn't help from the searing I felt as I knew that there were people sitting behind me watching my weird convulsion episode taking place.

I have no idea what was going on in Andrew's mind. All I remember is him burying his face into his hands and practicing what looked like the commonly recognized coping mechanism for someone going into shock, or hyper-ventilation... You know, where you bend over as far as you can and breath between your knees... Yup... I'm pretty sure that's what he was doing, but I can't be positive... it was all a blur. 

Luckily, the meeting got a move on and proceeded quite well. We had the chance to recoup, and then, it ended... and we had to deal with all the "congrats" and questions, and jeers from those who actually had the courage to approach us after the meeting. 

Sometime shortly after we calmed down a bit, it occurred to me that Andrew's sister is expecting, and is due a month before we are. I instantly passed news down the bench that if anyone were to ask, the family would respond that it was Sarah whom "J" was so excited for, and not me... maybe we could hold this out a little longer.

This just happened to confuse a bunch of people and I don't think that most of them believed us anyway. 

I guess that's what comes with the territory of living in a tight-knit community. It seems like everyone knows what you're doing before you even really know what you're doing. We always joked in high school that if we were going to do something we shouldn't, our parents would find out before we even made it home. News just kinda seems to travel like wildfire, but no wonder when people are making announcements like that in public meetings!

Looking back, now, it's something we laugh about. I'm sure that there really wasn't even that much attention drawn to us. Most people are only half-awake through meetings like that, anyway, aren't they? I'll always have something to smile about in the future when I think about that story, but I'm also glad for the lesson I learned on just how careful I need to be with the information I feed to my little ones. Out of the mouths of babes, right?

The Journey, Part V (5) - Things Get Funny

Once we found out we were pregnant, things started getting really funny for multiple reasons...

First off, at a funeral a few days earlier, I had walked into the kitchen where my mother-in-law was working. As soon as I opened the door, she asked me if I had been feeling better at all that morning. I replied that I had eaten and apple and a couple of pickles and felt OK, but still not normal. (Pickles are a staple food for me... I wasn't eating pickles because of cravings).

Without missing a beat, a family friend turned and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" This was the only time pregnancy had come up before that morning revelation had happened to me. We shrugged it off and told her that I was having problems digesting protein. (I now wish I had dwelt a little longer on her question)!

The next thing that happened was the decision to tell our parents about it. The thing was, Andrew had told his buddy, Brian, about an hour after we found out. I was concerned because Brian told his family and I didn't want them saying anything to our folks if they happened to see each other. (We grew up in a REALLY small town). Also, Andrew's brother made a last minute decision to come visit while we were there, and we never really talked about if we were going to wait to tell siblings or others... I think Jonathon and his family had been there for about 4 hours by the time they figured out what was going on. So, we found out on Thursday morning, and by Friday, the news was spreading quickly through our family. This was definitely NOT how I planned on things going. We still weren't even sure if that's what was going on... I know it's hard to deny a positive test (or four), but I had hoped that we would at least see a doctor before we told our parents, and now all of our siblings and a few close friends new within 24 hours!

That weekend, I did a lot of sleeping and praying to the porcelain gods. It was crazy... we had, at any given time, between nine and 16 people in a one bathroom house. My nieces and nephew started noticing that I was not being very fun, and on Saturday morning, one of my nieces came up to me and said, "Aunt Cheltzey, you're having a baby?" when I replied with an affirmation to her question, she proceeded with, "Is that why you're so lazy?"!!! I got the biggest laugh out of that one... but it was nothing to prepare me for what would come out her mouth at church the next day...!

The Journey, Part IIII... I Get My Husband Back!

Finally, Andrew came down, and we decided to take a little trip to Utah to visit some friends and family. We went to the Provo and Salt Lake Temples and it was a really fun little get-away. The first night we were there, I ordered a dry baked potato from the restaurant we ate and but felt so sick, I couldn't finish it. I was concerned, because we had plans to meet up with some friends at Tucanos the next night. I had no idea how I was supposed to get through and evening of all you can eat meat being passed to me, but, surprisingly, I felt amazing during our dinner. I didn't get sick at all, and ate meat for the first time in about 2 weeks.

This is when I started thinking that maybe what we had initially thought was going on wasn't right. I figured that the excitement and fun of seeing our friends had caused enough of a distraction for me that I wasn't experiencing that plaguing sick feeling. We drove back to my mom's that night, and I woke up sicker than a dog the next morning, though. 

"What is going on with me?" I was thinking that maybe the idea to wait to see a doctor in Kalispell was a bad idea. I crawled out of bed and began brushing my teeth, and it was like this light bulb went off in my head. I knew that I needed to take a pregnancy test. The whole idea of pregnancy had NEVER crossed anyone's mind. We had pushed it so far out of the picture... it was an odd feeling. Andrew and I headed out again to visit his folks, and I had him stop at the grocery store in Blackfoot. I told him I needed crackers and a soda to calm my stomach. He stayed in the car and I ran in and grabbed the cheapest test I could find and went straight to the bathroom after making my purchase. I have never been more nervous to pee on a stick before. I've taken tests before, but this time felt so different. I gathered up my barrings and did what I had to do... and this THICK, DARK line suddenly appeared next to the control line. It happened so quickly, I thought maybe I had misused the test. (They are so adamant about the wait period while it rests on a flat surface)!

I went out the car and waited until Andrew was headed down the road. I had always planned on waiting to tell him, and our family, but this was just so crazy... I needed him to know what was going on, so I grabbed it out of the bag and said, "Hey, can you check something out for me?" I handed it to him and watched him process everything. After a few seconds he looked at me with a huge grin on his face and said, "Oh, great!... Is this serious?!?!?"

He didn't believe me and pulled off of the interstate in Idaho Falls so I could buy a more expensive test. Looking back now, we laugh about it. It was the weirdest drive I have ever taken from Blackfoot to Monteview and it felt like a dream... like an out of body experience almost. We took three more tests, though, and they all did the same thing with the bold, dark line.

After that happened though, we didn't know what to do...

The Journey, Part III

So, January and February came, and things started looking up. Andrew and I began looking at our future with new eyes... practicing the idea of planning with a different family dynamic than we had originally dreamed up. It was just figuring out how I could either cope with, or kick the depression to the curb. I was reading scriptures and all sorts of books in an attempt to lift my spirits, but nothing seemed to be working. Life was interesting... each day would come and go, but I don't really remember living it... we had some good moments, but it seemed like life was moving on, and I was just there. Floating. I had no idea who I was and I felt like I couldn't identify myself. This was hard for a 24 year old kid... it seems like my generation is ALL about labeling and uniqueness... about pointing out what we share, and what sets us apart from others... and I just felt like a nobody. That was hard. 

Finally, in March, my mom came up to visit with my brother and his wife and daughter. About two days before they arrived, I got this crazy feeling that I should go home with them. Then, Andrew would come pick me up a few weeks later. My mom was getting married and it was a perfect excuse for me... I could go home and help her pack her things and move her to her new home. It scared the daylights out of me, too, though, because Andrew and I had never been apart for more than a couple of nights and this would be a 2.5 week separation for us. I cried when we left Bigfork and Andrew and Ruger stayed behind, but I felt wholeheartedly that this was the right thing for me to do.

I spent my time in Idaho going through old memories with my mom's belongings. We got rid of some things, and relived some good times. It was very therapeutic for me. I also spent time in the temple, and worked on some personal energy work. The week that my mom had come to visit, I had passed a kidney stone, which I thought was odd because it had been almost two years since the last time that had happened. Then I passed three more my first couple of weeks in Idaho. I also began experiencing what I thought were gallbladder attacks. I was frustrated and felt like I had taken about 10 steps backwards with my health. The 'gallbladder attacks' started getting worse though. I knew that something just wasn't right and I needed some outside opinions. I was 400+ miles away from my doctor, though. What ended up happening was we weren't really sure how to explain my symptoms, and there was concern that I was having a reaction to protein... In essence, my body was going into toxicity from an over abundance of protein, and this can cause major problems to the liver, gallbladder and kidneys. I didn't get tested, though, and made the decision to change my diet for a few days to see if that helped at all. I learned about how our blood type can determine what type of foods work best for our body systems, and basically cut out breads and meats, dairy and eggs for a while. I felt WAY better, but there was still unexplainable queasiness/nausea that I couldn't seem to get to go away....