He Has Made Everything Beautiful

everything beautiful

Looking back over the last year, I don’t think I could be in any more awe over God’s grace and provision than I am at this moment. I’m sitting here, 38 weeks pregnant, waiting on the arrival of our daughter who just a year ago was considered by the medical community to be impossible. But God makes the impossible possible in His own time.

Here are just a few highlights from the last few months:

*Carolina is a growing little bean. At our 32 week ultrasound she weighed 3lbs. 12oz. and they say is in the 39th percentile. She is head down and the placenta moved! The ultrasound tech felt so bad for all of the appointments we have had that she gave us some 4D images of her.

Carolina 4D

We cannot wait to see this precious little face in person!

*Daniel and I were blessed with a whopping five baby showers!  Yep, you read that right. Dear friends hosted showers in Birmingham and Auburn, we had a wonderful shower in Grove Hill at Daniel’s family church, a sweet shower in Greenville hosted by my Godmother, and a surprise shower at work that I never expected. To say this is one spoiled/blessed little girl is an understatement. We could not be any more grateful for all of the sweet gifts!

Auburn Shower

My sweet friends (Deanna, Olivia, and Sydney) who hosted my shower in Auburn.

Grove Hill Shower

My sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law at my shower in Grove Hill.

*I gained a sister (in-law) in early July when my older brother Preston got married. I was so touched to get to be a part of such a special day in their lives. I could not be any happier for them!

Agnew Wedding

My new sister-in-law Catherine who cannot wait to meet her new niece!

*We have steadily been working on Carolina’s nursery and are almost done, which is good since she’ll be here any day. I promise to share pictures once it is complete! Daniel has done a great job of putting everything together and putting up with my very particular taste, haha!

*I am still working and plan to up until I go into labor. It is hard, there is no doubt about it, but I want every day of my maternity leave I can get to spend with her after she is born. My ankles have officially turned into swollen hoofs, but I keep reminding Daniel that he married me for better or for worse. He has been so sweet and helpful and tried his best to make me feel as loved and beautiful as possible. I married a winner!

*As of last Friday everything is looking good for a healthy baby that could be born any day now. I am 2cm dilated and 75% effaced. It is such an amazing/crazy feeling to know that it’s just a matter of time before we meet our daughter in person!

38 week bump

And the obligatory 38 week bump shot.

So it’s prediction time. Carolina’s due date is August 5th, but when do you think she will make her arrival? Feel free to leave your guess of due date and birth weight as a comment below or on Facebook. It will be fun to see who gets the closest.

The Joy That’s Coming…

The pain you have been feeling cant compare to the joy that is coming. Romans 8:18:

I know it has been a while since I have updated and I do apologize.  March and April have been such busy months, but filled with a lot of fun and excitement.

First things first, we found out we are expecting a girl…Carolina Charlotte Clarke! We could not be any more excited than we are and cannot wait to meet our little miracle. Charlotte is my 93-year-old grandmother’s name, whom I am very close to. She was overjoyed to hear we were using her name as Carolina’s middle name and she cannot wait to become a great-grandmother. She claims she’ll be the best great-grandmother out there, and I don’t doubt that for a minute.

Cha and I

Charlotte (or Cha as we call her) and I on my wedding day. This may be one of my favorite pictures!

ultrasound

Carolina at our 23 week ultrasound.

However, at that same ultrasound we found out that I have marginal placenta previa. They played it off like it was no big deal and that we would go back a few weeks later to confirm it had moved. Well, we went back five weeks later only to find out that my placenta hadn’t move one bit. It was disappointing, I’m not going to lie, but I’m over that now and we are standing in faith that everything will work out. Regardless, she is healthy and that is all that matters. I will go back for another ultrasound in six weeks to see if it has moved. I am no longer praying for a specific outcome, but instead for God’s will in the situation and a happy healthy baby in the end no matter what. Oh and little miss was still breach too. I told her she needs to get it together in there, haha!

I am 26 weeks along now and feel her kick/punch/twirl around a lot. Daniel has been able to feel her as well. I feel pretty good these days and the only real pregnancy issue I’ve had up to this point is that my ankles and feet have been swelling pretty bad. The swelling goes down during the weekends when I am able to rest a bit, but Monday-Thursday while I’m working they go from slightly swollen to my 600 lb. feet. Oh well!

26 weeks 2

Many of you have asked, so here is my growing bump at 26 weeks along.

In none pregnancy related news, here are our highlights from March and April.

*Daniel and I attended two concerts in April and had a blast!

mumford and sons

At Mumford & Sons. We went with our good friends J.P and Kristin and had so much fun!

kenny chesney

This is at Auburn University’s football stadium where we saw Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney perform. It was a charity concert called Music & Miracles Superfest that I hear will be an annual event with different performers.

*We celebrated my 31st birthday at the end of March with good friends and great food!

*We also had visits from several friends over the last two months which has been a lot of fun. It was great seeing Blair & Charles as they get ready to get married themselves. I met up with my sweet college friend Amanda (Hotmanda!) one day in Pine Mountain, GA. My good friend Erin Weissman stopped in for a surprise visit (so much fun!). And our dear friend Lucy O’Kelley (who is also Erin’s roommate) came into town for a short visit. We are so beyond blessed to have the amazing friends that we do.

blair and charles

From left to right, C.J. & Lauren, Charles & Blair, Daniel & I, and of course Abe! The guys cooked us ladies dinner. So yummy!

*Our sweet friends Ben & Deanna dedicated their son Henry. It was such a precious moment and we were blessed to get to be a part of such a special time.

henry dedication

Henry and Carolina will be 10 months apart. We cannot wait to see them grow up together!

There are tons of other fun moments over the last two months, but I’d be here all day if I listed them all. Instead, I will end on this note. Since starting my new job I have had two co-workers open up and share their hearts regarding their fertility battles. Both are going through IVF and neither has had success yet. One even experienced an ectopic pregnancy as a result of her latest attempt. My heart breaks for them in one moment and fills with joy for them for what is to come in the future the next moment. I am believing for both of these women that God will answer their prayers and I ask you to do the same for them! I am so grateful that the Lord has put me in these ladies lives at this specific moment in time to be a living breathing symbol of hope for them! Because…”The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming,” – Romans 8:18

 

Blessed is she who has believed…

First, I would like to apologize for not updating sooner. The last few months have felt like we have been on a real life version of the game of Life. Needless to say, this will be a long post. So, grab a bag of popcorn and nestle in for the latest chapter of A Clarke Family Journey.

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her." ~Luke 1:45 | Second time God has reminded me of this today.:

The biggest news…we are expecting! Baby Clarke is due August 5th and we feel overwhelming blessed by this miracle God has given us!

After so many months we assumed my remaining fallopian tube was blocked due to the last ectopic pregnancy. So when I tested positive the last week of November I was shocked. We knew there was a high chance it was another ectopic pregnancy, but this time there was no fear or worry. God’s peace is so good!

After blood work to confirm my levels we went in for an ultrasound. The tech, who is familiar with our journey, immediately began looking for an ectopic pregnancy. After not finding any evidence after 15 minutes or so, she “just in case” checked my uterus and said “well, there is a little black dot in there”. Little black dot? Little black dot! She confirmed that she thought it was an early stage uterine pregnancy, but we would need to come back for further ultrasounds to confirm. I should know by now that those moments in life that I expect to play out a certain way, never do. I have decided that God has a really good sense of humor!

IMG_5443

Over the next few weeks, we returned for two more ultrasounds to confirm that we were in fact pregnant with our miracle uterine baby! We even heard the heartbeat…so magical! After the journey we’ve gone through to get here it all seemed so surreal. The world’s odds were against us, but God had different plans for us.

It was such a special moment to get to share the big news with our families for Christmas! We were with Daniel’s family in person when we presented them with the picture frame of the ultrasound. Daniel’s dad had the best reaction when the first words out of his month were, “Judy (Daniels’s mom), I told you last week when I was feeling nauseated that I thought Brandon or Christy (Daniel’s sister) must be pregnant. I told you!” They could not be any more excited than they are. We were unable to be with my family in person but mailed the same picture frame to my mom and an image to my Aunt and Uncle. This will be the first grandchild on either side. Daniel’s parents have already picked out names for themselves and the baby planning has begun!

So that brings us to today. I am 17 weeks along. I had morning sickness early on, but that has since passed and I am feeling pretty good these days. And the baby bump has started to grow. We go back to the doctor the afternoon of March 7th to find out if Baby Clarke is a he or she. Woohoo!

Also, we sold our house in Birmingham! As many of you know, when Daniel and I moved to Auburn we quickly rented our house to a young couple we trusted. They planned to rent for two years, but the husband got a job offer in South Carolina in the fall and they asked to be released from the lease early. It was not the right time of the year for us to try and sell, but having been in a similar situation ourselves we completely understood. When I was laid off a few weeks later we were a bit stressed about having to cover both mortgages, but God had it all figured out. We listed it for sale by owner at the beginning of January, showed the house a week later, and had two offers by the end of the week. A week later we closed on the house with an all cash no inspection needed offer!

In additional news, I got a new job! Last month I started my new job as a manager at a big box retailers distribution center. The hours are long and odd, but I’m adjusting. Plus, it’s a Monday-Thursday job so I am enjoying my three day weekends! We are beyond grateful for my new position. We actually found out I was pregnant in the middle of the hiring process. Not ideal timing, but everything worked out. My employer has been overwhelming understanding and are working with me on time off for appointments and maternity leave.

Lastly, I will sum things up with a list of additional highlights over the last few months.

*My mother had a health scare back in November, but seems to be doing better now.

*We have had some amazing friends, Adam & Olivia Ficken, live with us for the last few months. Adam got a job down here and they are closing on their new house in Auburn today! They are also expecting their first child this May. We could not be any happier for them and can’t wait to raise our little ones together! Abe may be devastated when they leave though. He has grown so attached. I see a lot of hang outs in our future!

IMG_0984

*My older brother, Preston, got engaged to a wonderful girl named Catherine! They are getting married July 3rd. We are very excited for them! I will be a 9 month pregnant bridesmaid, so be on the look out for those humorous pictures.

*My sweet 93-year old grandmother, Cha, fell in her home recently. She is sore, but thank goodness didn’t break anything. After spending a few days in the hospital she has been transferred to a rehab facility. I am so grateful she is alright and I cannot wait for her to meet her first great-grandchild. She can’t either!

*Daniel and I attended the Ignite Marriage Conference at our church last weekend and it was wonderful. Investing in our marriage is so important. I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing husband in Daniel!

Daniel and I are beyond thankful for all of the prayers and kind words over the last year. Your love and support makes sharing our good news all the more sweeter.

Without Fear Of The Future

Bible Quote Decals - Wall Decal - Wall Vinyl - Vinyl Decal - Wall Decor - Wall Art - Vinyl Quote - Decals - Bible Quotes - 2 Timothy Connie Johnston, Origami Owl Independent Designer Order online: http://www.myowlstory.origamiowl.com Facebook Http://www.facebook.com/origamiowlbymyowlstory Twitter Myowlstory Email: myowlstory@yahoo.com

Future is a big word; full of hope, possibility, fear, worry, the unknown. If I spend too much time thinking about our future it can consume me, so instead I have to choose daily to focus on the here and now.

Daniel and I went for my follow-up last Thursday and it went about how we expected it would.

The good: My doctor felt confidant that my HCG level will finish going back to normal on its own and released me. So for now, we can get back to normal (or at least our new normal). I will go back next Monday for blood work that will hopefully confirm my HCG level is at zero. She referred us to a fertility specialist Dr. Bates in Birmingham at UAB and we have our first appointment scheduled for June 24th.

The bad: She prepared us for our visit with the specialist and explained what we should expect going forward – IVF.

We were in no way surprised by this news, but that doesn’t make it any less abrasive.  No one expects to go from “let’s make a baby” to “IVF” in six months. We fully plan to discuss all options with the doctor at the end of June and there’s still a chance that he will allow us to try one more time naturally. However, we have full peace and confidence that things will work out the way they are supposed to. We know that He has placed a desire for children in our hearts for a reason. Our future may take a path we did not expect, but we will not let the fear of the unknown stand in the way of the promise that He has given us!

Patience is a virtue, and I don’t have it.

.

Patience is something I struggle with, daily.  I want to see where I am heading, know how I’m getting there, and take the quickest path there. However, I am constantly reminded that my timing may not be God’s timing. So I wait.

The last week has been calm and wonderful.  After the great news that I didn’t need a third Methotrexate shot last week we slowly got back into our normal routine. Most notable was that I could finally enjoy a meal that consisted of more than bagels and rice. Woohoo! While I am still on some restrictions (no alcohol, exercise, etc.) we are basically back to normal.

So we headed to Birmingham for the long weekend and spent some long needed time with friends. Let me tell you how nice it was to just relax and enjoy ourselves after the last few weeks. It was also a great reminder of the amazing friends God has surrounded us with who are continuing to pray and support us through this process.

And PROCESS is the key word. Yesterday’s blood work results came back and while they showed progress they weren’t at the ZERO that I wanted to see. They went from 69 last week to 8 today. I know, it’s so close and I should be ecstatic about that, but all I could think about was how it wasn’t at zero and I had prayed so hard for it to be zero. Then I stopped and reminded myself once again that my timing is not HIS timing. And so I wait. Patience.

Thursday Daniel and I will go to a follow-up with my doctor and hopefully get a clearer picture about what the coming weeks will look like. I will then go back next Monday for more blood work to confirm that hopefully my HCG level is finally at a zero.

Patience.

Wonderful Joy Ahead!

Yesterdays blood work came back and the last round of Methotrexate shots seems to be working!  My levels haven’t gone back to normal (0) quit yet, but they are definitely on their way.  We are so thankful for this, since the shots gave me some pretty bad side effects.  The only foods I was really able to tolerate were bagels and rice. Yum. Yum.

I will go back for more blood work next Monday and then a follow up appointment with my doctor next week.

God is good!

Wonderful Things

Peace In The Storm (Ectopic Pregnancy Saga, Part 1)

First off, let me say thank you for all of the amazing support everyone has shown us over the last few days. We are beyond grateful for your kind words and prayers. Before next week, when we find out if this current round of shots is working, I thought it would be good to catch everyone up on how we got to this point. So, grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy part 1 of the our “ectopic pregnancy saga”.

We all create mental images of how certain events will play out in our lives; proposals, weddings, finding out you’re expecting. This is natural and expected. One day I’ll share our proposal story with everyone (probably on a day when we all need a good laugh). Since deciding to start trying for our family, I’ve thought a lot about that moment of finding out we’re pregnant. How will I tell Daniel, will I already “know” I’m pregnant before taking the test, how and when will we tell others. So needless to say, that moment did not play out the way I expected it to when in January I find myself on my back in the ER being told “So, did you know you’re pregnant?”.

Let’s back up a little.

It’s December 2014, Daniel and I were getting ready to go visit my family in South Carolina for the holiday.  I had no indications that I was indeed pregnant (no morning sickness, fatigue, anything), but knowing that there would be alcohol involved in our visit I thought it was best to take a pregnancy test anyways.  It was a day before my expected period, but I decided to test anyways instead of doing so after getting up there.  It was negative.  Now I know what some of you are thinking, it could have been a faint line that I didn’t notice.  Trust me, when you want to be pregnant you analyze that little piece of plastic with a magnifying glass.  There was not even a hint of a positive line and the next day my period started on time. Oh well I thought, it can take a few months to conceive.  This was something I was mentally prepared for. So off we go to South Carolina where I enjoy my mimosa over Christmas breakfast.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve.

I’m sitting in a recliner relaxing when our dog Abe decides to jump into the chair with me. Keep in mind he is a 70lb Goldendoodle (see picture) and I am (not disclosing my weight) a petite 4’11” chick.  All this to say, it hurt. He nailed me right in the gut with his back paws on my upper thighs. Later that evening I get what felt like really bad menstrual cramps. I pop an Advil and don’t think too much about it, until I wake up in the morning with even worse cramps and a radiating pain down my right leg. Again, I take some medicine and go back to sleep.  When I wake up again I’m feeling better and am just glad that is over with. I figure Abe got me good..

Daniel & Abe

My amazing husband, Daniel, and our Goldendoodle, Abe.

Fast forward to Monday.

Our church starts our bi-annual 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting. Daniel and I decided to do a Daniel Fast (this is a real fast not a fast of foods that my Daniel wants to eat, haha!). We started eliminating caffeine and sugar over the weekend and head off to early morning prayer with juice/water in hand. Toward the end of the prayer time I start to feel icky like my stomach is upset, so I excuse myself to the bathroom. But nothing happens except that the cramping gets worse, I start to feel nauseous, and as I’m walking back to find Daniel I felt like I was going to pass out. We head home, I call in sick to work, pop some more medicine and head back to bed. I wake up feeling exhausted, but better for the most part. I decide the caffeine/sugar withdrawal hit me  harder than expected and maybe I was coming down with something, so I drink lots of water, break my fast and eat a can of soup, and take it easy the rest of the day.

Fast forward to Saturday (January 10th)

Daniel’s parents came into town to deliver furniture that his sister and brother-in-law no longer wanted and we gladly took off their hands. During breakfast I once again begin to feel bad and excuse myself to the bathroom. Once again, nothing except that the pain got worse. His mom jokes that maybe I’m pregnant and I assure her I’m not. They are so ready to be grandparents so I didn’t want her to have any false hopes. I pop more medicine, jump under a heating pad and figure it too will pass. They head back home and Daniel heads off to go hunting. Now please know that Daniel asked several times if I wanted him to stay home and I assured him that I was fine. Throughout the day the pain got better and then worse again. Daniel called to say he was on his way back (an hour + drive) and during that time the pain got exceedingly worse. The radiating pain in my leg was back and I was beyond uncomfortable. I called a good friend of mine who’s a pharmacist and he says it’s possibly my appendix and that if it gets worse I should go to the hospital.

By the time Daniel got home I knew something bad was wrong and we decided to go to an urgent care facility that was directly across from the hospital in hopes that we could get in and out quicker than the ER. They too ask if I’m pregnant and I tell them all the reasons why I don’t think I am and they too think it may be my appendix, give me a shot of pain medicine (to keep me comfortable), and send us off to the ER. Let me just say that the shot in the rear I received to “make me comfortable” didn’t do a thing and the pain just got worse as we waited. Finally we made it back to a room to be seen by a doctor and I can almost for certain tell you that when I got up on the gurney that is the exact moment that the rupture occurred. I have never been in that much pain in my life. I sent Daniel to go track down a doctor/nurse/heck anyone at that point to help. A nurse came rushing in, saw me in pain, and rushed out again. Thankfully she returned quickly and hooked up an IV of anti-nausea medicine followed by morphine and then we waited for the medicine to take effect. Three rounds of IV pain meds later I finally, while not pain-free, was comfortable enough to answer questions and be touched.

And then there comes the doctor, “Well the good news is that I don’t think it’s your appendix. So, did you know you’re pregnant.”

That moment I had envisioned of seeing the pregnancy test turn positive and then gleefully telling Daniel he is going to be daddy was gone. Instead, I am drugged up on pain meds and Daniel looks like he’s seen a ghost and there was no joy, no excitement, no yay it happened! Instead, you could almost feel the sadness, the fear, the this can’t be happening to us. But it was. They quickly explained that they thought I was experiencing a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and prepared me for surgery.

But let me tell you, God was there with us.  Amidst the pain and sadness we felt Him working in ways it’s hard to explain. Our nurse had also experienced an ectopic pregnancy and was beyond empathetic and encouraging. The on-call OB-GYN was the doctor I had heard great things about, but was booked up patient wise and I hadn’t been able to get her as a doctor. She was as great as i had been told. I had just switched on to Daniel’s health insurance plan at the beginning of the year and we quickly realized the difference in payment everything was on his plan compared to my old plan with my employer. We would still be paying everything off if the rupture occurred New Year’s Eve. We were beyond grateful that we didn’t know we were pregnant and hadn’t gotten attached to the idea yet. It was little things, but those little things gave us peace in the storm and we were so thankful!

Storm Quote

The beginning of our journey…

Wedding Forehead Kiss_n

I am a planner.  I like to know where I’m going, when, who I’m going with, what I’m doing, etc.  I am not a fan of unexpected change.  Not at all!  So when Daniel and I discussed starting a family, it was well thought out.  We knew when we would start trying and I had done my research about what to expect.  I wanted to know what road lay ahead of us.  We prayed for an easy journey ahead, but I also prepared myself for all of the possibilities that could happen.  Or so I thought.

We are now six months into our journey and are currently in the middle of battling our second ectopic pregnancy.  I do not use the word battle lightly.  Daniel and I have been amazingly blessed.  Our marriage has been easy, amazing, everything we had held out hope for.  We love our life together and do not take it for granted.  So this interruption to our plans is our battle, but we plan to one day hold up the banner of victory!

There was nothing that could have prepared us for the last six months.  While I will save the details for later, our journey so far has gone like this; emergency surgery in January 2015 for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube, conceived again in April 2015 with another ectopic, two rounds of Methotrexate later we are hoping to avoid surgery on my remaining fallopian tube.

Daniel and I have a strong faith and we know that God has a greater plan than we can even imagine, but I will not lie and say this has not been a difficult experience.  There have been a lot of tears shed so far and I’m sure many more to come, but there’s also been an amazing amount of love and support and hope.

The journey awaits us and we are ready for the road ahead. Family, here we come!