A Plea for Help

Poverty is a difficult thing. The more I learn about it the more complex it is. My eyes have been opened in the last three or so years in a way that I never could have imagined. We judge poverty by our own experiences. If someone doesn’t have running water or indoor plumbing we consider that a hardship because we have it and couldn’t imagine doing with out. My husband grew up without it and sees it as a superflous thing that doesn’t mean much to him. He sees what Americans have given up in order to have such modern conveniences and to him it’s not necessarily a win.

Sometimes as Americans we are a bit smug even in our desires to help. People don’t need rescuing, they don’t need someone to push for them to have the same modern convenices that we consider essential. Most of the time they just need an opportunity.

When I was in Uganda, my budget was kind of tight. I had used everything I had to pay my way there and to pay for my expenses during the 5 months that I lived there. Yet I was surrounded on every side by people who had less than me. How could I not help?

On the other hand, how could I help? Every day I encountered handicapped people whose needs far exceeded anything that I could give to make a difference, I encountered children who lived on the streets and had no home to go to. I encountered single moms struggling and often failing to care for their children. I saw people who were sick, suffering and the need was overwhelming. I helped where I could and I consoled myself with the fact that I was there making a difference. I was volunteering for a non-profit that helps single moms become self sufficient. Musana was making a difference and I could feel good about how I was spending my time and the little money I had. IMG_1613

Then one day I was walking the streets of Kampala making arrangements for the new street sign we were putting up at Musana. A woman approached me, obviously hungry, she had a small child strapped to her back and she was clutching her obviously empty breasts and pleading for help. She didn’t speak english but her message was clear. She had nothing to feed her baby. The baby looked at me with large open eyes from his mothers back. I shrugged my shoulders indicating that I had nothing for her and moved on. It felt heartless but what could I do? I couldn’t help everyone.

Since then I have had my own children. I have sat in a cozy gliding rocker in a decorated nursery and nursed my babies. During those times that I have not had enough milk I have gone to the kitchen and quickly made a bottle to satisfy my chubby sweet baby. I have come home from church after several hours of not being able to eat and made myself something to eat to help with that cold empty shaking feeling in my stomach that nursing a hungry baby leaves if you don’t eat enough.

Every day since my son was born that woman has been in my mind and heart. I have wept tears over the help I didn’t offer. Needless to say I would do things differently if I could go back. Still I would be faced with the same dilemma of too much need for my capabilities to help; but this woman, this one woman, I could have helped to feed her child. She came to me I could have done something.

A friend of mine is preparing for her own humanitarian trip to Uganda in May. She s raising $25,000 to build an orphanage while she is there. She is asking that we and anyone who is willing participate in “7 days of nothing” now I cringe a little at the title because having seen people who have nothing and it hardly compares. But the idea is to do without something for 7 days and donate your savings to the cause. Perhaps you can eat simply for 7 days. Nothing but beans, rice and oatmeal (typical food for many  families all over the world) Perhaps you can forgo using your running water and carry whatever water you need from an outdoor faucet, to get a feel for the way the majority of the world lives. Maybe try walking or riding your bike to work or the grocery store if you can.581766_10151416836355658_826602642_n

And if that is too much for you maybe you can skip your daily latte, or a trip to the salon. or go on a sugar fast for a week. Save what you can and send it to my friend to help build an orphanage. For Joseph and I we have washed our own clothes by hand, carried our water, walked wherever we need to go, done without many things and we know how to do it. We will be joining my friend in her 7 days of nothing and perhaps that woman and her sickly child will not haunt me so much. For you I pray that you will find something that works for you someway that you can give and I think you will find that the bigger your sacrifice the more impact it will have on your life.

Birth of Vienna Joy

IMG_0237In spite of my best efforts to get a natural labor going before my induction date of July 13th. Monday the 13th dawned without even a hint of anything beyond the random surges and bh contractions that I had been experiencing for weeks. But let me back up…maybe its best to start with an explaination of the choices we had made that lead us to where we were.

After Preston’s birth I was a little shaken in my ideas and beliefs about childbirth. In all the hundreds of birth videos I had seen none had been anything like what I experienced. I watched women TALKING while in labor, swaying gently back and forth and smiling at their husbands behind the camera. It baffled me. The pain I had experienced had hit like a sledge hammer and not let up until Preston was here. I couldn’t see how what these women were doing was even possible.

I also felt betrayed by my body. And I wondered if I had done something to bring it on myself. Maybe the panic that I felt that Preston was getting too big and that he needed to come out now was nothing more than the natural mama’s urge to not want to wait any more. Maybe all the “natural Induction” technics that I insisted we try inspite of my midwife’s reluctance had actually added to the trauma of his birth. I swore next time would be different. I would let nature take its course.

But Preston had been awfully big, the 4th degree tear I had sustained still caused me pain. And I felt caught between a rock and a hard spot. If I was listening to what my body was telling me my gut feeling and a strong one at that said it was time and he needed to come now natural or not. So what was I to do?

When I found out I was pregnant again I called Richelle, I had loved having her as my midwife before and wanted her again. She however was unable to take me so the search began for another midwife. I called and spoke to 3 or 4 and felt teary and unsettled about each one. The decision seamed huge and overwhelming. IMG_0215

We went in for our ultra sound to find out how far along we were. We were 7 weeks. Dr. Chappell sat us down after doing the ultra sound and talked to us about his philosophies about birth. Everything he said peaked my intrest and increased confidence in him. I decided to throw something at him to see if I could shock him with something “crunchy.” I plan to eat my placenta, I told him. Would you be ok with saving it for me?

“Absolutely! I wish more women knew the incredible benefits of doing that. The placenta contains everything a woman needs to recover from a birth. Its amazing stuff” His response baffled me and I threw out every other crunchy natural birth belief that I had to see if I could get a reaction. Nothing phased him, there was nothing he was unfamiliar with. The only thing he didn’t agree with me on was when an induction would be required.

“I think that since 42 weeks in technically full term, the baby deserves that long if its what she wants” I said.

“41 and 3 is as long as I am comfortable with going” he told me. I laughed a little. What was he going to do come to my house and drag the baby out of me?

We left the office and as we walked to the car I felt as though the matter was settled. I wanted a home birth, I wanted a nice warm, motherly midwife. I did not want a cold sterile hospital, medical procedures and a handsome young doctor who looked more like he should be chatting it up with some pretty nurse from Grey’s Anatomy than coaching me through the most difficult beautiful and sacred experience of life. And yet I felt at peace and as though the decision had already been made.

“I think he should be our doctor” Joseph and I said the words at the same time.

We laughed and that was that. A few weeks later I found myself crying over the decision. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I vented to Joseph. “WHo knows how many times I will get to experience childbirth?” I told him. “i don’t want to waste a birth experience on a hospital birth. I want a home birth, I want a midwife and I want to feel comfortable about my choice!”

His answer was simple “well then lets get a midwife! I will support you in whatever you decide.”

Again I called 5 or 6 midwives and each time I got off the phone feeling confused, flustered and teary. I simply couldn’t choose one. Finally I prayed about it. And the answer was simple. I already had the answer. I just hadn’t accepted it yet. Dr. Chappell was the best option for our doctor.

Fast forward to July. We continued to go back and forth about 42 vs 41+3 as an induction date and we finally decided that since we had felt strongly about him being our Dr. we should be willing to take his advice so we scheduled an induction for the 13th. In the mean time I did a lot of walking, relaxing and talking to the baby about what her needs were and listening to my own body and mind about what might be holding her up. On the morning of the 12th I woke up and took Preston for a walk we walked about 1 mile including going up and down the long steep hill by our house 3 times. It was Joseph’s birthday and I really wanted him to get his wish of having her born on his birthday.

But Sunday came and went and Monday morning we got the call to go to the hospital. They started the pitocin at 10 AM and the count down began. Our nurse Marianne was incredible. She started by going over our birthplan in complete detail with us and even asked if there was any wording we wanted her to use to help us with our hypno birthing. Dr. Chappell had agreed to only use pitocin to kick-start the labor and that we would turn it down or off as my own body took over creating the surges. Instead of the usual procedure of increasing the pitocin every 30 min. Marianne would ask me how I was feeling and together we would decide to increase, decrease or leave it.

The surges were rolling right along at a regular two minutes a part. They were comfortable and even exciting at times. I loved having the chance to work with my body. I found that there were things that I could do to make them easier. I found ways to move deeper and deeper into relaxation during the surges and I honestly looked forward to them.

My doula Natalie was there and she was amazing. Supportive as a doula, comforting and knowledgable as to what would help but there just as a friend to hang out and keep me company otherwise. My mom was there and Joseph was there and we just had a nice long visit. We listened to music and Natalie introduced me to a couple of songs titled Vienna. I thought how fun it would be to tell VIenna that this is what we listened to while I was in labor with her.

Mother brought us some lunch and then around 4 pm Marianne told me that Dr. Chappell would be coming soon and that he would break my water. I was a little annoyed that she would talk about it as though it wasn’t my choice and my body. It wasn’t a question to her but a statement. I let her know that I didn’t want my water broke and she dismissed it with a quick well the doctor will talk with you about it.

When Dr. Chappell arrived sure enough he told me he thought it would be a good idea tao break my water. I told him I was uncomfortable with that and would like to look at other options. He suggested that we could just continue with the pitocin but turn it up to get things moving since I was only at a 7. So we turned up the pit and the surges suddenly became waves washing over me, and threatening to swallow me. I got in the tub and labored for the next few hours there. THings got a lot more intense at that point. Natalie was teaching me how to go deep and dive under each surge moaning low and quietly and just let it wash over me. IT was helping and I was just starting to get the hang of it when two new nurses came and replaced my wonderful Marianne.

THey wanted to check me and although it seemed impossible to me at this point since I literally had almost no breaks between surges I agreed against my better judgement. The nurse put on a long plastic glove and shoved her hand at me blindly poking around trying to find what she was looking for. It hurt and I screamed (and maybe even swore) at her to get out of there. A few minutes later we tried again and she informed me that I was at a 10 and needed to get out of the water and start pushing. I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel the urge to push but once again against my better judgement I went along with it. I assumed that maybe my hesitation was fear of reaching the pushing stage.

Pushing hurt and left me unable to focus clearly on relaxing through the surges. I thought maybe I was pushing wrong so I suggested we get a scarf and Dr. Chappell did some tug of war pulling with me. IT helped but we still were making no progress. I was beginning to panic. I needed this to be over. I didn’t feel like I could go on much longer but we still weren’t even seeing the babies head.

Finally after an hour of pushing Dr. Chappell checked me again. I was expecting him to tell me that the babies head was right there and that a few more pushes and we would be done. INstead he looked a bit flustered and even disappointed. Well, you are actually just at a 7 and 90% effaced. I was shocked and wanted to cry. When we had started pitocin that morning I was 90% and at a 5. It was now almost 11 pm and I had apparently only progressed by two cm!

I asked everyone to leave so that JosephIMG_0197 and I could talk. I told him that I know we wanted a natural birth but I needed an epidural. I couldn’t go back to laboring for hours. I had told him before hand to remind me of all the reasons I wanted a natural birth when I asked for an epidural but when he tried I wouldn’t listen. I felt like I truly was beyond the point of no return and I COULDN”T do this any more. Dr. Chappell had turned off the pitocin to let me have a minute and THe surges had pretty much stopped. I insisted that I needed the epidural and asked for Dr. Chappell. He agreed and sent for the anesthesiologist. He was there within a few minutes and after a quick jab in the back I was pain free. It was really nice. REALLY NICE!!!

Here's Joseph cutting the cord. Obviously this was a new experience for him!

Here’s Joseph cutting the cord. Obviously this was a new experience for him!

We thought I could take a quick nap but when Dr. Chappell checked just 30 minutes later the baby was there ready to come. She’s got hair he told me. A few quick controlled pushes and she was out. I reached for her even as her legs and feet were still sliding out and Dr. Chappell let me pull her up on my chest. She was perfect and healthy. They left me alone with her as I had requested and after more than an hour when I had bonded and cuddled and loved on her they came to cut the cord, and measure her. She was 20 inches long and8lbs 4.5 oz.

It was a good birth. I got to experience a lot of the elements of birth that had been missing with Preston’s birth. And as crazy as it sounds…I cant wait to do it again! IMG_0242

10 Ways you will know you have reached (or exceeded) your due date

1.) When siting, standing, walking, laying down, kneeling, squatting, standing on one foot etc. just hurts.

2.) When sleeping with 6 pillows is no longer enough

3.) When you find yourself looking longingly at a bottle of castor oil

4.) When you no longer care what people think enough that you will sit down in the middle of an isle, road, or room full of people because….well you have to sit!

5.) When you watch your babies bottle of milk spilling on the floor of your car and don’t even make an effort to pick it up because you know there is no way your making it down that low.

6.) When all it takes is someone making a helpful suggestion of something that you might do to make the baby come or to make the wait more comfortable and you feel as though your inner monster has been unleashed and you just might take their head off.

7.) When you cry because…well insert pretty much anything here and it works.

8.) When you find yourself doing the toilet dance (if you’ve been there you know what I mean) in an effort to make each visit more productive and possibly give you a full twenty minutes between visits.

9.) When remaining pregnant another day becomes worse than all possibilities, fears and outcomes of giving birth.

10.) When despite the fact that your brain knows it’s an impossibility you find yourself in tears over the VERY REAL possibility of you being the first woman to ever remain pregnant FOREVER.

You will know you have reached your day. And if the baby doesn’t come today, than maybe tomorrow, or the next day… or….or…..

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A Letter To My One Year Old

Dearest Preston,

I just finished rocking you to sleep, kissed your baby lips and put you in your crib. Every night as I rock you I whisper to you “Do you know how much joy you bring to me?” every night you smile back at me as though somehow you do. I never could have imagined how wonderful being a mother truly is. I am so glad you came to bless our family!11200872_10152831746185658_8445851444419131524_n

I want you to have my memories from your first year so here is a quick summary. When you started to speak you really started with several words all at the same time so I don’t recall which was actually your very first. But the one you used the most was probably “More” which just means food to you. You say it when you are hungry. Just today you took Aunt Hannah by the hand pulled her to the kitchen stood in front of the fridge and kept repeating more more until she gave you something to eat. Sometimes you drive us a little crazy with this one!

Another word you love to say is Daddy. The first time you said it you were about 7 or 8 months old. Joseph walked in the door from work and you looked up said Daddy and crawled straight to him. He had the biggest smile on his face I have ever seen. You have a special relationship with your Daddy and its obvious you think he can do just about anything. You sing his name over and over when he isn’t around and you almost always greet him enthusiastically when he comes home from work. Another word was Aunt Hannah, or as you say it “A nana.” IMG_0114

The first time you said Mama I was in the bathroom you crawled to the door and started scratching at the door and calling for me. That was the quickest shower I ever took as I was so excited to get out and hold you.

After that you said door, love you, thanks, Chloe, Esther, and Yeah. You say yeah all the time and you know what it means and use it accordingly. You also have said no a few times.

You love to laugh and will often laugh for no reason, you hold your hand over your mouth and bring your shoulders up and giggle, you love people and anyone who will give you attention and play with you. You love being outside and beg for me to take you out every day. You stand on your toes by the door and reach for the handle and plead with me until I have no choice but to take you. Your feet are always crossed. I don’t know why but ever since you were a baby your feet are always crossed, when you are sitting or laying down. It’s really cute. You have the most beautiful silver eyes and loads of soft curly hair. You have 4 teeth now and you like to use them to bite me. I haven’t been able to convince you that it’s not a good idea and that it hurts. You also like to pull my hair, although when you do I pull yours back a little to show you that it doesn’t feel good. You expression is always priceless! 11208649_10152831746290658_1848389675077023274_n

You are very sensitive to people’s moods and you try to make everyone around you smile and be happy. When you see someone sad you will go to them and try your best to make them smile by being silly or goofy. Everyone loves you and you are the light of my life. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel utterly overwhelmed with my love for you. YOu know your little sister is coming and you are clinging to me a little more than usual because of it, or maybe its me clinging to you, who really knows. But this time in your life has been so special to me. This time that you have spent together just you and I has been sweeter than words can express. 11168562_10152831745960658_6707997776141320493_n

I am so excited to see how another baby will change our lives and our relationship, because I know that she will. It may be hard to adjust to having another baby to care for, and it may be hard on you to grow up just a little faster as I do take care of her but one thing that you have taught me about babies is that the joy far out weighs the challenges. So, my sweet boy, as we head out on this new adventure know that your mommy has loved every moment of this year with you and is so looking forward to many more to come! I love you my Preston!

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Life is Hard; But Thats Not Why I’m Crying

I haven’t written in a while. I feel a little overwhelmed with my life at the moment. But there is so much that I want to say today that I just hope I can find the words to say it adequately.

When I was single I wrote more than one post about how hard it is to be single; how hard it is to feel like you have some how come to a dead end and don’t know what to do to change it. I wrote about feeling hopeless in my desire for children and family. I wrote about how lonely it feels to go to bed by myself every night, to go to church alone every Sunday. And it was hard, it was terribly hard and it was a burden I could never have carried on my own.

Last night as I put Preston down for the night I felt such relief to know that it would be hours before he would need me again. I closed his door so softly so that I wouldn’t wake him because  I didn’t feel like I could handle his squirming, crying, needyness one more minute. And then I sighed and went to bed. As I crawled in next to my husband too tired to even turn over and give him a proper goodnight, I pushed that body pillow between my legs to ease my aching hips and propped my ever growing pregnant belly on top so that it wouldn’t strain my back. I felt my husband’s warm body next to me and when he rubbed my feet with his and whispered goodnight, I just wanted to cry because I have so much and yet life is still hard.

I woke in the middle of the night because the pain in my throat and my ears was becoming too much to sleep through. Preston and I have both been sick with a bad cold, cough, fever and just feeling pretty plain miserable. I took a sip of water from the glass that Joseph always makes sure is on the nightstand next to my bed and I tried to sleep. It wasn’t long before Joseph started to stir. I didn’t feel like I could handle another day so soon. “We need to get going” he told me. we had a big day planned. “I know” I said although I couldn’t make it come out more than a whisper because my voice was so raspy. “I feel terrible” I com10417689_1577899402431029_5100755972080308831_nplained. Joseph leaned over and gently pushed the hair off my forehead. “Do you want to just rest this morning? I can go to work and come home early so that we can still get everything done that we have to do today” he told me. I gladly agreed and layed back down. He kissed me gently, not even worried about catching my germs and then left to go to one of his two jobs that he works so hard at to support us.

It was 9am when Preston woke up, I was glad he had let me sleep so long. We cuddled in bed and gazed in each others eyes for awhile before he insisted it was time for breakfast. I was preoccupied with something else and Preston was trying hard to get my attention. He was leaning forward in his highchair, a huge smile on his food covered face. He was giggling at nothing just to get me to look at him. I couldn’t help but smile back and that smile was followed by a flood of tears. Partially because I am pregnant and tears flow all too easily these days but also because I HAVE EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER WANTED. And life is still hard. Joseph and I have disagreements sometimes and I am here to tell you that the more you love someone the more mad you get at them. I am pregnant with another special blessing that I know will bring as much joy as Preston has. But between the intense morning sickness, and blinding headaches I haven’t really enjoyed this pregnancy much.

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Don’t worry those spots all over him are just lipstick kisses!

I don’t know wether this post is about complaining or about feeling blessed because I feel overwhelmed with both right now. All I know is that all morning I have felt like my old self, the one that ached after years and years of wondering if this time of life would ever come for me, has been looking over my shoulder smiling at all the things that I am enjoying and not enjoying so much about this time and she is pleased beyond words.

I am so lucky to have found someone that I love so deeply and intensely and who feels the same way about me. I am so lucky that two amazing spirits have chosen ME to be their mother! I get to be a stay at home mom. That doesn’t happen without a husband who is willing to work twice as hard and sacrifice to get by with less. I have laundry up to my eyeballs and dirty dishes enough to keep me occupied all day. And I have a silly giggling boy who inspite of being sick himself gently caresses my check and showers me with wet, (we hope its just slobbery) kisses.

Yes life is hard, incredibly so. But its so good that sometimes the only way to soak it all in is to just allow the tears to flow.

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I’m a Mom! Preston turned 6 weeks old yesterday and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am a mom. This isn’t just a temporary experience that will one day go away this is the real deal. The truth is that I have mixed emotions about that.

As I have seen so many others have babies i mostly saw just the good parts. The blissful mother sitting quietly rocking her sleeping baby wrapped sweetly in a blanket. My experience has been a bit different or at least there were things about being a mom that I never saw with other people.

I never saw…

how sometimes you don’t realize until the end of the day that you never combed your hair. And then when you do realize it you also realize that you really don’t care.

how many times I would find myself racing to the bathroom because since the birth I literally have seconds before its too late; and I never knew how many times I would have a nursing baby in my arms at the same time because he would scream if I tried to put him down.

those moments at 3 am when the baby hasn’t slept all night and just won’t stop screaming and you feel like challenging him to a match to see who can cry harder.

I never knew the “joy” of nursing a baby while milk from the other side drips down your belly and onto your baby.

But there was no way that anyone could have prepared me for the feeling that I would get when my finally satisfied baby looked up at me with milk dripping from his chin, opened one eye and grinned.

I couldn’t have foreseen how much joy I would get from hearing him finally poop after it has been a few days and I am worried.

And nothing compares with laying in the bath tub with my baby laying next to me, his arms and legs wrapped around me like a little monkey and his little face propped up so that I can see his wide open eyes, his fat chin and pink lips propped up on my chest looking as content and happy as I have ever seen him.10564793_10154365362515344_1384080184_n

I lay awake at night marveling at the tiny pink balls that are the undersides of his perfect little toes, the tiny dimples on his little manly hands and his funny elf shaped ears.

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His one little curl that WILL stand up in the center of his head and the little muscles of his arms make me just want to squeeze him.

He loves to cuddle and he sighs in contentment when I am close to him. Its so amazing to know that he loves me so completely and that I am the one he wants above all others. I never new I would sit and cry just because I don’t know what else to do with all the love I feel.

It scares me a little to love someone so much. Especially someone so vulnerable. Before I had a baby, I was never really afraid of much because the worst thing that could happen was that I would die… and that didn’t seem so horrible. Now there are dozens of worse things that could happen and all of them make my blood run cold with fear.

What if he gets sick and I don’t know how to make him feel better?

What if He gets hurt? I could get in a car accident, I could drop him, he could fall off the bed, he could choke, he could just stop breathing in the night for no reason, he could have any number of complications that would be outside of my control and the thought is horrifying. Nothing is worse than the thought of losing my baby or of seeing him suffer.

I have always heard stories of soldiers laying dying and calling for their mothers with their last breaths. Now I have a little son and suddenly that becomes the most heart breaking thing I have ever heard. I pray every day with all of my heart that the Lord keeps my little one safe. 10551783_10154365363500344_372717421_n

Grandma is worried about how empty the house is going to feel when this little one goes home.

And I am worried about what I am going to do without all the help taking care of him.

Being a mother is scary, difficult, exhausting, wonderful exhilarating, fulfilling and indescribable…

So I guess I better stop trying. Besides I think I hear him stirring…

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Yep! I’m A Mom. You Can Tell From The Stale Milk On My Shoulder

My Year of Miracles: A review of my tenth year as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

10 years! I remember it like it was yesterday; the day I got baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt so lost and out-of-place I wondered if I would make it through the week. I felt strongly that I had made the right decision…but boy was it going to mean big changes for me; many of which there was no way to be prepared for.

Since that day each year on the anniversary of that day I spend some time alone, thinking, pondering and reviewing my choice, my commitment, and the consequences of that choice, be they good or bad. Every year I look back filled with gratitude, sometimes sadness, but always in awe of what has transpired since that time and most especially in the most recent year.

This year more than any other year I see so clearly how that choice I made ten years ago continues to grow in its impact in my life. Almost every single decision I made this year…and I made some big ones, was in a large way influenced by my decision to join this church.

So here is a year in review:

May 2013

I arrived in Uganda just 1 day before my 9th anniversary as a member of the LDS church. That first week was hard. Really hard. It took some getting used to, it was fun, it was an adventure, it was eye-opening to see a way of life so different from my own. That month I learned to live without so many things. I ate strange foods and even insects (check out the video!)

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This was my bed.

I went way to long without showers because of a lack of water, met so many new friends, learned to sleep in spite of the lizards crawling on the walls, and the mice and rats fighting over food remnants in our kitchen. I used pit latrines, carried water in a jerry can, was smothered in love and dirty hand prints by dozens of children who all wanted to hold my hand and have a piece of my attention. I felt completely overwhelmed by all of it. Especially the stifling heat. Oh and I didn’t know it then but I met someone who would change my life forever. It was a good month!

After adding a few of my things and scrubbing vigorously!

After adding a few of my things and scrubbing vigorously!

June 2013

I agreed to go on a date with Joseph Ssempala. That date colored the rest of my month. I saw him or talked to him every day after that. When he told me he loved me after just a few weeks I responded by teaching him a new phraze…”take a chill pill.” fortunately he isn’t one to give up easily and while he did give me the little space that I needed, he continued to make me feel like the most amazing woman alive. He showed me so many things and we had some amazing adventures that month. I realized I was falling in love in a strange country with a strange and wonderful man who took my breath away. It was a great month!!

Joseph and I on our first date.

Joseph and I on our first date.

July 2013

After traveling to Rwanda and having some crazy adventures there. I accepted a proposal of marriage from the man of my dreams and after only dating just two days shy of a month. Joseph and I began planning our wedding. At first we planned for the wedding to take place in October. But it wasn’t long before we realized that, that plan wasn’t going to work and we moved the date up to the 27th of July. It gave us two crazy weeks to plan for the day I had waited my whole life for. It was nothing like I had imagined but all the important elements where there with the exception of the attendance of family and friends. I was head over heels in love with the man I was marrying, I wore a beautiful white dress, and the end result was that I found myself a married woman and so blissfully content that nothing else mattered. What can I say, it was a phenomenal month!!!DSCF1436

August 2013

As July turned to August I learned many new skills. Like how to shower outside with a bucket of cold water, how to cook on a charcoal stove, and how to have an argument and still stay friends with your new husband. I planted a garden, created a home, met some wonderful new neighbors and took a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive! What more can I say…My joy was complete and it was the month of my dreams.

September 2013

September came with its own challenges and joys. I learned that morning sickness is NOTHING like being car sick but just in the mornings like I used to think it would be. I ate less and threw up more than I would have dreamed was possible. I spent most of my day resting and trying to help my body create another human being! I started teaching piano lessons, getting more involved at church, and just tried to survive being really sick. I also got to travel to South Africa where my new husband and I went through a very special ceremony where we were sealed together for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord. One of the most sacred and special moments of my life was when this man who I love so much took my hand and led me through this process that would bind us together for eternity. Eternity wouldn’t be long enough for me. It was a legion…wait for it….dary month!  (a little How I Met Your Mother reference for those of you that love Neil Patrick Harris).

October 2013

With the blush of spring and the warmth of summer past, October saw me traveling home alone. I needed to eat and rest and get strong for the baby growing inside me. I needed my family and I needed to be back in America. I would come, work on getting Joseph a visa, finish up my last two semesters of school and prepare for our coming baby. It was a long and lonely month.

November 2013

I turned 32 this month and being married took the sting out of being another year older, the day passed and aside from having a wonderful Skype session with my husband I hardly noticed. I prayed for a mild winter, worked and waited and waited some more. I found an apartment for us to start our lives together in and my mother graciously helped me to furnish and make our little two bedroom apartment feel like a home.

December 2013

Began to realize that Joseph wouldn’t be coming as soon as we had imagined and tried to adjust to a new kind of loneliness. With Morning sickness easing up significantly and the second trimester under way I felt like a new woman and I couldn’t believe my growing body. We had an ultra sound and discovered that our baby was a boy. We agreed to name him Preston Joseph.

January 2014

Started my final semester of school!! A degree 8 years in the making finally looking like it was coming to an end. Began a new job at Cedar Fort planning events. Life began to settle into a routine.

February 2014

As I moved into the third trimester, things began to get a bit more difficult. Preston became heavier, my belly got tighter and I felt sure my skin was going to pop! The miracle that takes place in a pregnant woman’s body on a daily basis never ceases to amaze me! Our baby was moving and growing and I was experiencing sweet moments that I had only ever dreamed about. I never dreamed that I would feel them alone, and experience my first pregnancy in such a way but I learned some good lessons about love, communication, patience and not taking things for granted. I learned about disappointment as Joseph’s application for a visitors visa was denied and we continued to wait for his immigrant visa.

March 2014

After passing out at work, and showing significant signs of impending labor I went on bedrest to keep from having our baby prematurely. This month I learned about accepting help even when you want to do things yourself, about exchanging independence for kindness, about learning to let go of expectations and about trust as I had to realize that this baby was going to be born without Joseph being here. My entire pregnancy was going to come and go without Joseph getting to be a part of any of it. On the other hand my exhausted body was grateful for the rest and the time spent with family. It was a very long month.

And Finally April 2014

And now we have come full circle. With my baby 13 days over due I find myself sitting down to write this review of what might possibly be the most eventful year of my life so far. April was long and exhausting, Big changes in our family. Joseph still unsure of when he will be able to join me and the anticipation of the nearness of a new life have left me a bit of an emotional basket case. I cry almost daily for no good reason. I sit, I stand, I walk, and I lay down in an effort to find a position where something doesn’t hurt. Then I give up until 5 minutes later when I will try it all again.

I am eternally grateful for the child growing within me, for the husband that I trust, love, and adore with every part of my being, for a family who has carried me through this incredibly difficult time. But more than anything else I am grateful that I followed my heart, the direction that I felt from the spirit that day ten years ago. I am so grateful that because of what I know and love about the gospel of Jesus Christ, this year and everything I have experienced in it has been worth it. It has been so wonderful, hard and overwhelming. But I have grown and never once have I doubted that my Father has a plan for our little family, that he brought us together and he can keep us together if we draw close to him. I haven’t doubted that he loves us, that i am exactly where he wants me to be and that I can approach him in peace knowing that in spite of my imperfections he is proud of me and so willing to help me. I love my Lord, I love his church, I love my husband, my baby my family and my life. Every year so far has seen blessings and adventures. But this year, this year that marks a full decade in the church…This year was big…

this year was beyond description!!!