Let me tell you about my God. On Tuesday morning Ben and I went to an appointment at the high risk doctor in hopes of figuring out why my belly was measuring further along than it should have been. We had already had three healthy scans of our sweet babe so we believed it was just one of those weird fluke things but that we should meet with the high risk doctor to be safe.
At that appointment we had an ultrasound where it was discovered that while the normal amount of amniotic fluid is around 15-18 units and above 25 is considered dangerously high, I was carrying over 55 units of fluid. Having never been pregnant before, I thought that the pain and intense discomfort I was feeling at carrying all this fluid was just part of the process of late pregnancy. We had no idea how dangerously close we had come to having my water break early because of all that fluid build-up.
After the ultrasound the high risk doctor and a genetic counselor sat down with us to tell us their findings. As I’m sure you can imagine, Ben and I were terrified. We had never received anything but healthy reports on every aspect of our girl’s health and suddenly finding ourselves in a room with a genetic counselor and high risk doctor was one of the most shocking and scary moments of our lives.
The doctor explained to us that baby girl very likely has a Duodenal Atresia, which essentially means that a part of her intestine is disconnected from her stomach and though she has been able to process small amounts of fluid normally, she can’t process it all and that is likely what lead to the build-up. Luckily God gave surgeons incredible wisdom and skill to perform the corrective surgery she will need as soon as she is born and while this will very likely include a stay in the NICU, she has a very high chance of a relatively quick recovery and a totally normal life. Praise Jesus.
Then the news that rocked our world even more. When a Duodenal Atresia is found, one third of those babies also have Downs Syndrome. For a minute it felt like the floor fell out from under us. But Jesus was there and stayed with us through every other thing that flew at us in the next 48 hours.
Once we understood the problems, we began an amnio-reduction. This procedure removes excess amniotic fluid both for genetic testing purposes, letting us know if baby girl had DS, and to relieve the symptoms, like back pain and shortness of breath, from all the extra fluid in my body. They removed 2 liters of fluid while we watched the ultrasound and while it certainly wasn’t easy, it has been such a relief to be out of pain since the reduction.
However, with my belly dramatically reducing in size so quickly, my body went immediately into preterm labor. At 32 and a half weeks and with a surgery for baby girl on the way, this was very scary for everyone, including the doctors. They rushed us upstairs to labor and delivery where they admitted me to the hospital, gave me tons of shots and steroids, placed me on several kinds of monitors and waited to see if my contractions would stop. At one point my contractions were lasting over a minute and were less than two minutes apart.
It was a terrifying experience in every way but Ben was right by my side advocating for my care, keeping me updated on what was happening, and most importantly speaking prayer and words of life and encouragement in my ear every minute he could. We were only allowed one guest but I wanted my Mama there badly and in Jesus’ abundant kindness he moved a nurse’s heart to have Ben erased from the ledger and open a spot for my mom to come join us. Then, miraculously, my contractions started to slow.
I was moved from the emergency department to a room in labor in delivery where baby girl and I were monitored for the night. Ben stayed awake at my side all night long and he and my Mom spent almost every moment praying with me, reminding me of Jesus’ faithfulness, making me comfortable, and reading words of encouragement and prayer from our incredible community of prayer warriors.
In the morning we spoke with the OB team and NICU team and made a plan for the rest of our care, which includes twice weekly appointments and very close monitoring until she is born. I’m about 33 weeks pregnant today and they hope to get me to 37 weeks before inducing and bringing her into the world.
After they sent us home on Wednesday afternoon we had about a 24-hour wait to hear the results of the genetic testing that would tell us if our girl was going to have DS. And can I tell you something about that? My Emily brain - my crazy and busy and worried brain, in any other circumstance would have been spiraling out of control with worry and fear over what the future can bring. There was no way that I, in my own power, could have kept myself from feeling panic and dwelling on every worst case scenario. But God.
I have never in my whole life felt such a sense of unexplained confidence and hope. I felt myself, Ben, baby girl, and our families being placed right in the palm of Jesus’ hand and the power of the many prayers that surrounded us was palpable. If you’ve ever wondered whether Jesus is really real and whether he really changes hearts and circumstances, hear me tell you that he is and he does.
The genetic counselor called on Thursday afternoon to tell us that preliminary results have come in and our baby girl DOES NOT have Down Syndrome. I grabbed Ben and my mom and we all cried out in PRAISE to the Lord. I have never felt such joy and gratitude and love for my good good Father in all my life. HE ANSWERS PRAYER and he answered ours.
Let me tell you this about my God. Even if she has to undergo surgery the very same day she is born - he is still good and still in control and still closer than my very skin. Even if future tests show scarier results - his will is still bigger and better than mine. I believe that with every fiber of my being.
But for right now, her duodenal atresia seems to be a completely isolated finding and we are claiming healing over her in prayer from now until we hold her in our arms. If you want to know how to pray, please pray that her atresia would heal miraculously in the womb and his name would be glorified in a miraculous healing of her tiny body. Pray that the fluid that had accumulated to the point of needing a reduction would not accumulate again but would stay low enough to get us 4 more weeks of her inside my body. Pray that future test results would continue to blow us and the doctors away and pray that Ben and I would NEVER miss an opportunity to give glory and honor to the name of Jesus for all he has done for us. I want to shout from the very rooftops that he is GOOD and he is STILL working miracles right now. There is truly nothing to fear.
If you have already been praying, please know how grateful we are. Your prayers were felt, and they made a difference, and we needed them. Please please please keep showering our girl in prayer. We cannot wait for you all to meet her and we are honored to get to tell this story about the goodness, faithfulness, and power of our God. Amen.
“Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I fly on the wings of the dawn and settle down on the western horizon,
Even there your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”
Even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
Darkness and light are alike to you.
For it was you who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you because I have been remarkable and wonderfully made.
Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret,
When I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
All my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.
God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is!
If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand;
When I wake up, I am still with you.”
What I've Been Up To:
1. ALL the shopping for baby girl. And this collab between Love Your Melon and Disney is just too precious for words.
2. I'm also starting to ease into the nesting phase of pregnancy and this Freezer Meal Prep Guide is my biggest inspiration for all things baby prep.
3. Also SPEEDING through this fabulous summer read. If you're looking for your beach read, this is it.
4. I baked these shortcakes for Father's Day and my dad is still talking about them. Also, not terribly bad for you as far as these things go!
Can't Miss Reading:
1. This guide is super helpful if you're trying to navigate how to start up your social life again in the wake of the virus but also keeps it lighthearted enough to not be a bummer.
2. Most of us are probably working on diversifying our reading and this list gave me the perfect place to start.
Summer Bucket List:
1. I've been working on putting together a bucket for Ben and my final summer just us and this list from EveryGirl is a perfect jumping off point!
2. Ben and I are working on cutting out too many carbs from our diet but also not having to eat boring meals! I found SO much inspiration from this list of healthy but delicious looking recipes.
3. I love this list of SCREEN FREE hobbies you can take up this summer!
4. I am TRULY obsessed with the site Half Baked Harvest. This round-up of all her favorite things will spark creativity in anyone. So good.
Hope you're all having a fabulous week and get the chance to truly relax! See you next time!
1. What I've Been Up To:
2. Essential June Playlists:
3. Cheer You Up Content:
That’s it for this week guys! Have an incredible start to your summer and soak up all the happy during these crazy times. Until next time!
Well if we can't have Starbucks and our local coffeeshop favorites, I don't know about you, but going without is just not really an option. Ben and I have kind of become obsessed with perfecting our coffee game over the quarantine, so read on to learn all about our essential tools and recipes that bring the coffee shop to your kitchen!
At-Home Coffee Essentials
1. Nespresso Machine: Ben and I consider this one of the most essential items in our kitchen no joke. Before I was pregnant, we started every single morning with a double shot of espresso. Now, I tend to save mine for the afternoon. Ben takes his espresso straight up with a tiny bit of cream or over ice with heavy cream and a little simple syrup. I typically whip up an iced or steamed latte with a double shot of espresso, a pump or two of syrup, more on that in a sec, and steamed or foamy milk.
2. Nespresso Milk Frother: The link here, is to the Nespresso bundle, with both the milk frother and espresso machine and I really do think both are essential. The one thing that sets a coffee shop drink apart from an at-home drink is the way the milk is prepared. This milk frother is MAGIC. You can froth up the heaviest creams for iced drinks or steam non-dairy milks like oat milk or almond milk for lattes with the push of one button. We've had ours for two years and it has held up beautifully. It's a godsend for the quarantine life, I'll tell ya.
3. Moka Pot: If you want to try out brewing espresso at home but don't want to commit to the machine yet, you've got to grab this VERY inexpensive moka pot to brew espresso on the stovetop. Ben loves this little device and also uses it to occasionally brew a very strong cup of coffee for himself when he doesn't want a whole pot.
4. French Press: Another great way to dip your toe into making coffeeshop quality drinks without the big price tag, a french press is a great way to brew up a cold brew concentrate perfect for summer or a strong and unbelievably-better-than-drip bit of coffee for two.
5. Sweeteners and Syrups: Whether you make your own, more on that in a minute, or purchase them, syrups are perfect way to add variety to your coffee experience. Whether a teaspoon of caramel syrup in your latte or a shot of Bailey's in your evening espresso (Ben's favorite), you can't miss a touch of sweetener.
1. Sweet Vanilla Cold Foam Cold Brew: Pour a glass of your favorite cold brew over ice. (you can make your own in a french press at home or buy it from the grocery) Use your milk frother to froth together 1/4 cup of heavy cream, a bit of vanilla extract, and a bit of maple syrup. Pour your cold foam over the cold brew and enjoy! If you like it a little sweeter, feel free to add a teaspoon or two of caramel or vanilla syrup.
2. Whipped Coffee: If you haven't seen this on the internet yet, you might be living under a rock haha! But honestly, it really is pretty delicious! Start by pouring a glass of cold milk over ice. Then add 2 tbs of instant coffee, 2 tbs of sugar, and 2 tbs of boiling water to your mixer and mix until you have stiff peaks. Use a cookie scoop to dollap your whipped coffee over the milk, top with a dusting of powdered sugar and enjoy!
3. Whipped Chocolate or Strawberry Milk: This whipped milk is the PERFECT afternoon treat for your kids, or dessert for you! Start with a glass of milk poured over ice. Then add 2 tbs strawberry or chocolate Nesquik and 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream to your mixer. Mix until you have stiff peaks and serve over ice cold milk. Fan favorite over here at my parents' this week.
4. London Fog: This is a recent discovery for me that has quickly become my go to bedtime drink. You'll need vanilla syrup for this, which you can easily whip up by combining 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, or just use a store bought one. For the drink, you'll bring water to a boil, add two earl grey tea bags to a mug, and let the tea bags steep about 2-5 minutes. Meanwhile, steam a cup of milk and a tablespoon of vanilla syrup together. When the tea is finished steaming, pour in the steamed vanilla milk and enjoy!
5. Lavender Vanilla Latte: Speaking of new favorites, I have been cooking and baking with lavender like it's my job over the quarantine and I have to the say that this is one of the best lattes I've ever had, in or out of a coffeeshop. To make it, start with making a lavender simple syrup by simmering one cup of sugar with one cup of water and two tablespoons of dried lavender buds (you can buy my favorite here from Amazon). Simmer until the sugar is dissolved and then strain into a mason jar to keep in the fridge. When you're ready to make your latte, measure one teaspoon of vanilla syrup and one teaspoon of lavender syrup into your mugs and pull two shots of espresso. Mix the hot espresso and syrups together until well combined and top with steamed milk or cream. This can easily be made into an iced drink by pulling the espresso into a glass filled with ice and topping with cold foamed milk or cream.
I hope this recipes give you some inspiration to bring the coffee shop to you this week. Have fun being your own barista and if you have an at-home coffee essential I didn't list, share in the comments!
Welcome! I'm a wife, mama-to-be, foster mom, fourth year music teacher, and Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I explore the calling God has for my family's story.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."