Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Other Part of Katie's Name Story

I can't believe I forgot the best part of Katie's name story!!!

So when I was a little girl, my dad gave me a baby doll when my baby brother was born. I loooooved that doll. And her name was Katie.

Where the name Katie came from, I have no clue. There was a neighbor girl named Catherine, but we moved next door right about when I got the doll and as far as I know, Catherine was never called Katie and I never associated the two names until I got a lot older.

I do know that I was obsessed with the name for awhile. In fact, when my best friend got a little sister, I really wanted the sister to be named Katie, and I cried when she was named Abby instead. (Sorry, all bearers of the name Abby. I was 3. I also cried when I was given a doll wearing purple instead of pink. Nowadays, my current novel stars heroines named Kate AND Abbey...Obviously things have changed.)

About three years later we DID get neighbors that named their baby Katie, and this time around I was upset because that was MY special name. Oh, Elizabeth...

Anyhow, a few months ago I was digging through my keep-forever box and I found my Katie doll!!! I brought her up to the nursery, knowing that there was a really good chance I was about to finally get a real live baby Katie... and I DID!

My Katies

So, yes, I've loved the name Katie for a long time, even though I actually forgot about the doll for awhile!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Presenting Miss Katherine Hosanna

Katherine Hosanna
Born 4/28/19
8 lbs 6 oz
21 inches long

15 hour labor (after 4 weeks of prodromal labor)
Natural labor and delivery at birth center
Labor was rough, but there were no complications and I'm recovering well. I had excellent support from my husband, mother, doula, and team of midwives.

Katie had some trouble getting enough oxygen after she was born, so she was taken by ambulance (to receive continuous oxygen) to the NICU for observation and continued oxygen. It was nervewracking and stressful, but within two days everything was stabilized, and after four days we were cleared to take her home. 

Despite the disruptions of NICU living, we utilized the lactation help available there and established solid breastfeeding. We also jumped right into cloth diapering and elimination communication as soon as we got home. 

Although very tired, we are very thankful for our miracle. 

"They call me Katherine that do speak of me..." 
Very early on in our relationship, Nathan and I discussed how many kids we each wanted and shared some names we liked. Although we vetoed a LOT of each other's names, we discovered that "Katherine" was a top girl's name for us both. We liked the many nicknames available (Katie is what we are using right now, also Katie Anna, and maybe someday Kate. But not Kathy.) and I also liked the connections to English history, Jane Austen, X-Men, and just generally the awesomeness of heroines named "Kate." 

Hosanna came along much later in the game. We discussed a few geeky options, but we pretty overwhelmingly felt that we wanted her middle name to have a meaning relevant to our faith. God's plan for our lives and the existence of this little girl has been so clear to us, and we wanted her name to reflect our joy and thankfulness. Anna is also a family name, so we liked the nod to that within the larger context of Hosanna. How I actually hit upon the name Hosanna I can't quite remember, but Nathan and I both liked it quite a lot once it was in our minds. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Due Dates, Prodromal Labor, and Expectations

Where is baby? Her due date is tomorrow!

Still hiding out!

(I swear, I start mentally composing blog posts about non-baby topics, but never have the energy to actually type them up. So here's a baby update for the curious, and for the non-baby-interested crowd...thanks for your patience. Go check out the new Padme Amidala book "Queen's Shadow" by E.K. Johnston. Slow start, but awesome read for anyone who wants a story about Leia's mom without any Anakin in it. It's the novel I waited 20 years for, and worth the wait.)

We've been going through something called Prodromal labor, which seems to have a few different definitions depending on whom you talk to. Basically I've been having real contractions for the past three weeks, but they never get close enough together for long enough to turn into active labor. I'll have the daytime hours where I'm achey and crampy and sore with plenty of braxton hicks, but not really contracting , and then at night it'll get painful and intense and close to the real thing and I'll wonder "should I wake up Nathan and start timing them..."

...aaaaaand then they stop.

Yes, things like "spinning babies" and "red raspberry leaf tea" and "chiropractic adjustment" and "acupuncture/acupressure" have all been part of our common vocabulary and toolkit...but baby's not ready yet.

Every day things change a little bit and I can tell that we are getting a little closer to the real thing...but not there yet. (Midwife told me that baby was so low that most women have already gone into labor at this point. HAHA.)

Everyone keeps saying that maybe all this progress will make for a quicker labor, which is very possible, but I'm trying not to dwell too much on that because then I have visions of not making it to the birth center on time!!! (Not really a realistic fear, since this is my first baby, but I have a vivid imagination. That's part of being an author!)

The psychological drain is the most difficult. It's been a real lesson in patience (again!) and trust as I try to remain at peace with God's timing and accept that my body is going to keep doing this and I just have to work through it and believe that at some point this child WILL actually emerge.

(I mean, everyone is promising me that. They'd better be right.)

On the plus side, I FINALLY gained some decent weight. The first half of pregnancy was so difficult with the nausea that I only lost weight, and it was really hard to gain anything even after the nausea went away. Everyone would say "you look so cute!" and I'd just think "if I wasn't pregnant, I'd look like a starving woman, SERIOUSLY." Thankfully my nutritionist was very confident that baby was getting what she needed, and everything medically backed that up, so I was never too stressed about it, but honestly I was at a point where I almost cried from happiness when someone actually said "you are so BIG" because I needed that validation at that point!!!

Also, huzzah, Minnesota finally embraced spring. About four days ago we actually got green grass. I can go outside and not freeze!!! And on the days it rains I try to go shopping or something so I can keep moving. Baby's movements hurt me these days, but she doesn't move when I'm moving, so that's something!!!

Mateo has been on high alert since the prodromal labor started. Seriously, the days I'm the worst off he is the sweetest, and will just lay around watching me anxiously.

Nathan manages to maintain an extraordinary level of energy and cheerfulness, which is extra laudatory considering that he just saw the release of his first game as lead designer (FFG's "The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth") and is also seeing a period of high activity on the next project.

Tomorrow is my due date. I can't believe it. It seems like it's taken a lifetime to get here. Which I suppose it baby's lifetime! ;) I was SO SURE that this child was coming early that I don't know quite how to wrap my mind around her being late. She certainly could still come sometime before midnight tomorrow (pleasepleaseplease), but at this point I'm not predicting anything. I was sure she was going to be skinny too and now I feel her solid little limbs moving and realize I could have quite a chunky little lass and WOW. Now I should explain, all of my other predictions/suspicions about this baby have been correct during this pregnancy. So while it may sound so silly to be thrown by these two things not manifesting the way I imagined, I have had a perfect track record until now so I feel like I did have good evidence to back myself up! Although the coming early thing really COULD have just been wishful thinking. Most moms are more than ready to be done being pregnant by the time they hit their due date.

(I'm giving birth at a freestanding birth center with midwives, and can deliver there until 42 weeks. There won't be any induction at the center unless the increased monitoring indicates a medical need to move things along.)

Readers, I would apologize for the high number of ALL CAPS in this post, but, really, this is about capturing an emotional picture, not writing a scholarly article. Those of you who have had children may comiserate, and those who haven't may find it useful for future reference (either in life or art!).

PROBABLY, HOPEFULLY, my next post will be introducing baby. But alas, it could totally be another two weeks of waiting and maybe I'll get some energy/inspiration to write about something else...

Thursday, March 14, 2019

What's in a Name?

I've been thinking a lot about names lately. Big surprise, right? It's a common pastime for most parents-to-be. And now at the end of the third trimester (I'm due in 6 weeks!), we get two questions over and over again.

#1. Do you know if it's a boy or girl?
A: Girl!

#2. Do you have a name picked out?
A: We have some top contenders, but we are not deciding until we see the baby. We're keeping those options secret for now (although we did give each of the four grandparents a chance to tell us any names they would really hate their grandchild to have, which bright forth some hilarious results).

But it's more than the baby fever. Names are big business in the Hajek household. I'm a writer, he's a game designer. Picking the perfect name for our characters is a key component of our jobs. Not to mention all the characters we name on the fly in our RPG games... *

*Nathan likes to spell names weird.** It drives me crazy. I could never remember the weird names he picked out for our Star Wars RPG. And our team tended to care the most about the characters with the most familiar names. So I finally got to the point--after several years and dozens of NPCs--where I asked Nathan to just give the NPC's (non-player-characters) ordinary English names. "We'll KNOW they really have some weird space name. This is just what we call them so we can remember them." 

**I can say with about 98% certainty that our daughter's name will have a normal spelling.

Names are important. They convey a lot about a person/character. I work really hard to come up with the perfect name for each character in my book. I'm very happy with "Daphne" as the heroine of "The Mermaid and the Unicorn," and I love "Justin" and "Ruth" as the protagonists as the next book. These names all came pretty easily to me as well. On the flip side, however, I wrote the first half of a first draft of a novel last summer and I'm still not sure about the correct name for my heroine. Even though I'm taking a breather on that project for right now, it still bugs me that I don't know what her name actually is. Oh well. Another summer, another contemplation of names.

Anyhow. Nathan and I both have strong feelings about names. Unfortunately, we've both vetoed some of each other's longtime favorite names. Eeek. So while you'd think we'd be really good at naming this baby, the truth is we've been working on the name for six years and while we've got some good choices, I really am not sure at all what our daughter is going to end up getting titled. I wanted to start talking names the moment we got the positive test, but Nathan wouldn't seriously discuss anything until we had the 20-week-ultrasound with gender reveal, and he's been firm about deciding on a name ahead of time. Which, to be very honest, is something of a relief for me. Deep down, I don't want to even whisper a name to anyone but Nathan right now. I don't want to be at all locked in until I see her face.

I want to like my daughter's name. I want my husband to like it. I want it to fit her. And I want her to like it. I adore my own name and just hope we can do as well naming our little girl as my parents did naming me.

But I do believe the perfect name will come at the right time. We did, after all, pick a name for our dog that we still love to this day--and ended up having a perfect meaning that we didn't plan on. ("Mateo Raphael" means, roughly,  "God's Gift of Healing"). If God can lead us that well with our dog, I'm pretty sure it'll all work out well for our daughter too. Just a little more pressure!

Right now our nieces and our moms have come up with nicknames that combine into "Princess Raspberry Spitfire." I like that a lot as a pre-birth nickname. We called her Nisswa before we knew she was a girl, cuz we were in Nisswa, MN when we got the positive test. Nowadays I call her "Sweet Pea" a lot. Or, "YOU. Don't get any ideas!" ;)

(And yes, we do have some boy names in mind as back-up, even though we are 99.99% sure we will not need them).

While I can't give you any hints as to what we are thinking about, I CAN tell you this: when we officially name our daughter, I'll be sharing exactly why we picked the names. Because, as you can tell, names mean a lot to me, and I love hearing the stories behind them.

Monday, February 18, 2019

How I'm Surprised by Turning 30

I'm turning 30 this week and it is unexpectedly emotional.

Not that I consider "30" old. I don't like categorizing any age as "old." God created every stage of life with a purpose. Each new year brings new experiences of life, which should ideally bring maturity and a greater ability to live at ease with who one is.

Good mindset, right? Except I'm finding there are still a lot of emotions involved with a big benchmark year that I have to process. It's taken me by surprise because I've really achieved so much at this point in my life. I've told myself for years that I wasn't going to make a big deal about turning 30. I don't have 'regrets' about my 20's, but I do feel nostalgic. The 20's are the years I learned who I am, when I met some really big goals, when I made some really special friendships, when I found and married my husband, when I got my first house, when I started my costuming business, and when I published my first book.

My 20's were also incredibly hard. Heartbreak, health issues, financial strain, spiritual searching and growth, relationships changing, infertility, closing down my costume business, and losing some big dreams that not only didn't happen, but which I have come to accept are unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Turning 30. This is the year I get to see my daughter's face. I'm 30 weeks pregnant now. Just about two months to go. I'm so excited, and yet every day there is a new reminder that my 30's are going to look entirely different than my 20's. Motherhood is coming, and while I am beyond thrilled, excited, and at peace about it, it is still a big change and I struggle with change even while I love it. (Ah, the joys of being an ENFP with Aspergers!)

So then I think: turning 30 is emotional not because of the number, but because the number represents a milestone. A finish line to one part of life, a starting line to another. To some people these lines are less clear. To me, because it aligns so perfectly with this period of transition in my life, the lines are glaringly neon.

But with age comes loss, I can't sugarcoat or ignore that. As a Christian, I try to have the mindset that age is not about losing life here, but getting closer to the real life that is coming. That said, there is real, tangible loss that comes with age. Loved ones get older. You lose them. You come closer to losing them. Mentally. Physically. Loss is coming. Even if that loss is only temporary, and you look forward to eternity together, there are years approaching that are going to be harder because loved ones will not be there.

And too, there is the loss of health and mobility. We don't think about that so much at 30, but it's another real thing that some of us fear. I have the blessing of seeing many of my relatives healthier in their middle life than in their early life, so, with my own history, I don't fear that as much as is typical. But it's a truth I would be wrong to ignore.

30 is just a number. It's just a marker of a passage of time. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing I can do to put it off, or make it come faster.

But age has meaning, and age is represented by numbers. And it brings real apprehension, turmoil, and transition that need to be processed. I've been trying to pretend that I was unphased by switching from 29 to 30, but I was fooling myself. This exact number probably has more poignancy overall because of how standard American culture treats it, but whatever the cause, the effect is certainly there for myself.

I'm not entirely okay with this revelation. After all, last year I cried when I turned 29 and wasn't yet pregnant. This year, even though the actual number change is considered more significant, I am filled with the overwhelming blessing of feeling my daughter move every day. I thought I had nothing to mourn about this year. But I guess, even when not mourning, transitions still need to be acknowledged and processed. I hope that by sharing this post I may help someone else come to a new understanding of why a certain birthday is particularly upsetting and begin to work through those emotions (whether they are the same or different from mine).

Whether 30 or any other year, if you are a friend who I have not supported well in bridging a major birthday milestone, I apologize. The landmarks line up differently for everyone, and I have a new understanding and appreciation for the emotional transition. I'll count it as one of those experiences I praised in the second paragraph, and hope I can do a better job of providing sympathy the next time someone laments about an upcoming age change.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Corinna Turner and "The Siege of Reginald Hill"

Welcome to the final stop on the blog tour for Corinna Turner's "The Siege of Reginald Hill."  
If Turner's name sounds familiar, it is because she is the author of the gripping "I Am Margaret" series (my review here), the heart-wrenching "Someday" (my review here), the fantastical alternate history "Elfling," and the quirky "Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon." I love her works, even though she writes them faster than I can review them! 
For her sixth entry in the world of "I Am Margaret," Corinna once again delves into matters of faith and future, and what it means to truly battle for a soul. I was intrigued by the premise of the book (which I got to preread in beta) and was excited to get a chance to interview Corinna about the unique challenges of writing "Siege," formatting/tweaking for American audiences, and her favorite holiday traditions! 
Q: Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you first conceive of Margo and her world? What was it about that idea, of all the ones spinning in your head, that captured your literary imagination and demanded a book? Well, a series of books!

A: I had the core idea for ‘I Am Margaret’ in a dream whilst on retreat at a convent and the rest of the plot developed very quickly. It was definitely a ‘has to be written’ idea, and a lot of that was because of the faith element. I’d been writing books aimed at the mainstream market and was  increasingly frustrated at having to leave my faith out of them (faith doesn’t sell in the mainstream; at least it doesn’t in the UK). Faith was so integral to the ‘I Am Margaret’ plot that I decided to just write the book exactly as I would write a mainstream novel—but with the faith in.

Q: Out of all the secondary characters in the IAM books, how did you decide that Reginald (of all people!) was the next who needed his story told? How did you choose Kyle as protagonist?

A: Although Siege is a sequel to the whole series, I also see it very much as a sequel to ‘Brothers’ specifically. Kyle thinks a lot about his biggest fears in that novella, and in Siege he suddenly has to face them, and at a time when he no longer expects them. From that point of view, despite the long time gap between the chronology of the two books, it’s very much a continuation of ‘Brothers’. As for Reginald Hill, he’s been the main ‘bad guy’ of the series right from ‘I Am Margaret’. Although several ‘bad guys’ appear at the end of ‘I Am Margaret’, Hill was always (leaving aside Lucas Everington) the most well-developed and was the one who carried on through the series, making appearances now and then and threatening Margo and those she loves in various ways. And he really, really hates Margo (Full English Breakfast, Mr Hill?). So I didn’t consciously choose Hill, he was just the one who would do something like that, and the one who would be hardest for anyone to love.

Q: Any thoughts on what stories you might tell next in the IAM universe?

A: Next in the IAM universe I intend to publish a short story collection, but the main item in it is actually a novella called ‘A Saint in the Family’, which follows up on ‘The Siege of Reginald Hill’. I also have an idea for a novella or short novel about Luc Verrall, at the time of his eighteenth birthday, tentatively titled ‘Beyond the Wall’ but I can’t honestly say when I will be writing that. I really need to finish writing the ‘Yesterday & Tomorrow’ series!

Q: I find the surgery/torture scenes in the series really difficult to read. How do you write them? What do you hope your readers will take away from them?

A: I very deliberately avoid almost all graphic physical descriptions, and convey what is happening almost entirely through the reactions of characters or the dialogue. This leaves how ‘much’ the reader ‘sees’ largely up to the reader’s own imagination.  But I do get some readers with strong imaginations who seem to believe that there was a detailed, gory, graphic, blow-by-blow description, so it’s not a foolproof way of handling an unpleasant event.

They’re there for the dual purpose of putting the reader fully in the shoes of the main character and making sure they identify fully with what he/she faces throughout the book, and to highlight what many martyrs over the centuries have faced, what they (and maybe we) could face in the future, and what, indeed, in some form or other, many Christians are facing right now. I hope they will challenge readers in their faith, and make them think about what they would really endure for Christ. Is out faith more than skin deep?

Q: The SEIGE in the book is one of the Soul, and it makes for some powerful but very heavy reading. Was it tough to write? I felt the arc was very believable, which is immensely difficult to do with a storyline of this type, so kudos for that!

A: It was a harder book to write than usual, because I think I was writing very much from the deepest parts of me, and the book is very close to my heart as a result. The story really pulled me in and I lived inside it a lot of the time. However, it wasn’t as hard to write as ‘Three Last Things’, which I’m hoping to publish in the first part of 2019. That story ripped me to shreds inside—the Holy Spirit practically took my hands and forced me to write it. I love the resulting novella, but it was the most difficult two weeks of writing I’ve done in my life. Siege would be the second most difficult, and wasn’t anywhere near as bad.

Q: We’ve corresponded now about three novels and one short story of yours in which I’ve primarily focused on catching what we’ve termed “Britishisms.” It’s been pretty fun and enlightening to learn more about some of the cultural differences between our shared-language countries. Is there anything that has stuck out to you as particularly surprising or humorous? What has been the most difficult for you in managing clarity for two audiences like that?

A: The most difficult thing is actually when I pick up an American edition and see ‘Z’s’ and missing ‘U’s’. Still makes me wince, ha ha! It was a big surprise that I couldn’t find a completely equivalent word for ‘layby’. I had to pester my US test readers over that one, and ‘rest area’ or ‘shoulder’ was the closest we found. Then there were the ‘dry stone walls’ from ‘Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon’. Turned out they literally don’t exist in the States, and I had to go with ‘stone fence’. Sometimes when I make a word up translation is difficult, as well, and the US version ends up with something boring and official that’s in the dictionary instead.

Q: Speaking of Britishisms, can you tell us what the holiday season will look like for you over in the UK? What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions/songs/foods, etc?
A: In my family we like a real Christmas tree, never a fake, and a big one! We also tend to have goose, which is a more old-fashioned Christmas dinner. For most people the Christmas dinner of choice tends to be Turkey. Goose is juicer, though! We also have ‘pigs in blankets’ which are sausages wrapped around with bacon, and Brussel sprouts and satsumas are also synonymous with a British Christmas dinner. Perhaps we should re-name them ‘Brexit sprouts’ this year? Christmas crackers and party poppers and Amaretti Biscuits, which nobody likes, but if you roll the wrapper and set fire to it, it takes off and flies up into the air. Although, the other Christmas I confidently rolled and lit one to demonstrate to my brother’s in-laws, who had somehow reached the age they were without encountering this custom, only to have it burn down into a miserable puddle of ash on the plate. It turned out we’d bought a box made for the American market, instead of the Italian ones, and the wrappers had been changed. Health and safety gone mad, perhaps? Terrible disappointment, anyway! We actually considered taking them back for a refund!

An odd surge filled my heart as I looked at him, sitting there in that chair: so old; so evil; so broken; so... alone. A warmth. A caring. A... love. I loved him. Just another poor sinner who need my care...
Fr Kyle Verrall is living a quiet life as a parish priest in Africa when he’s snatched from his church one night by armed assailants. He’s in big trouble—his sister’s worst enemy is hell-bent on taking revenge on the famous Margaret Verrall by killing her brother, just as slowly and horribly as he can.
What could possibly save him? The humble young priest is defenceless—or so Reginald Hill believes.
But Kyle has a powerful weapon Hill knows nothing about. And he’s not afraid to use it.
Is Reginald Hill really the hunter?
Or is he the hunted?

Buy your copy here:
(Or request a purchase by your local library!)

Corinna Turner has been writing since she was fourteen and likes strong protagonists with plenty of integrity. She has an MA in English from Oxford University, but has foolishly gone on to work with both children and animals! Juggling work with the disabled and being a midwife to sheep, she spends as much time as she can in a little hut at the bottom of the garden, writing.

She is a Catholic Christian with roots in the Methodist and Anglican churches. A keen cinema-goer, she lives in the UK She used to have a Giant Snail called Peter with a 6½” long shell, but now makes do with a cactus and a campervan!

For reviews of "The Siege of Reginald Hill" and other behind the scenes goodies, check out the previous stops on the blog tour!

Dec 1 – Stop 1 - Corinna Turner – Author of the I Am Margaret series including new release The Siege of Reginald Hill
Dec 2 – SUNDAY
Dec 3 – Stop 2 - Steven R. McEvoy - Blogger and Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer Steven R. McEvoy on "Book Reviews & More" -
Dec 4 - Stop 3 - Erin McCole Cupp – Blogger, Contributor to Catholic Mom and Author (Jane E. Friendless Orphan series, etc.) -
Dec 5 – Stop 4 - Regina Doman – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Fairy Tale novels, The Angel in the Waters, etc.) -
Dec 6 - Stop 5 - Theresa Linden – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (Liberty series, West Brothers series, etc.) -
Dec 7 – Stop 6 - Sarah de Nordwall – The Catholic Bard! -
Dec 8 - Stop 7 - T.M. Gaouette - Writer, Blogger, and Author of Catholic Fiction (Faith and Kung Fu series) -
Dec 9 – SUNDAY
Dec 10 – Stop 8 - Carolyn Astfalk - Author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, etc. -
Dec 11 – Stop 9 - Leslea Wahl - Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Perfect Blindside, An Unexpected Role, etc.) -
Dec 12 – Stop 10 - Elizabeth Amy Hajek – Blogger and Author of The Mermaid and the Unicorn -

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It's All Good (Hajek Updates)

First off, if you're avoiding the subject of babies (which I understand, since six months ago even the word 'baby' might have me off in tears), tune back in next week for some posts on completely non-baby related stuff, like awesome TV shows, good books, an an interview with Corinna Turner, author of "I Am Margaret." It's going to rock! 

I wasn't sure whether to get the TV/book post up first, or the baby post, but considering that we have a lot of news on the baby front, I thought I'd get that out first and reassure everyone who hasn't heard from me in three months. Yikes!

But yes, the rest of this post is baby updates, including how mama's surviving, and whether we're expecting a boy or a girl...

Back at 18 weeks

My oh my, this autumn was difficult. Pregnancy nausea is like nothing else I've gone through. I could barely function at all until about week 17, and here at week 20 I'm still fighting major food aversions. 

I finally felt well enough to start smiling again!

The good news is that baby is growing very well! We had our 20 week scan on Tuesday and all the measurements showed baby still on the large side! Considering how hard it's been to eat anything, this is hugely encouraging for me! 

Baby is also tremendously active! I've been feeling kicks for a couple weeks now, but it was so cool for me and especially Nathan to see her in action. She didn't want to stay still for a moment, which meant we got some really great photos. 

And yes...I said 'she.' It's a girl! Presenting little Miss. Hajek...

Ultrasound technology is amazing these days. It was fascinating to see inside her brain, to see the chambers of her heart, to see her yawn...

...and to count her little toes!!!

So here we are, approximately halfway through, and looking forward eagerly to April. I've started writing a bit again, sewing a lot again, and even managing a little food prep. Nathan is finishing off our basement at long last, and his mother has been up with us quite a bit to help out -- I don't know how we would have survived without her.

The last 18 weeks have been tremendously difficult physically, so I am terribly thankful to finally have some relief so I can have the energy and headspace to enjoy this amazing blessing we've been given. I don't take a bit of it for granted and I am so immensely grateful to have this little girl in our life.