Month: March 2016

The Importance of Music

The Importance of Music

I love music! At work, I am almost always listening to one of my stations on Pandora or a playlist I have created on YouTube. soft music in the background while doing chores around the house is also very soothing. Growing up there was always music and that is what I want for my child.

When my sisters and I were little, my mom always had our house filled with music. We were always singing along to various children’s songs and, when we were a little older, to Psalty: The Big Blue Singing Songbook. My parents still have the gigantic yellow songbook filled with classic children’s songs my mom got from Reader’s Digest. Music was simply a part of who our family was, and I cherish those memories.

Bradley and I want to create a similar, loving and inviting environment in our home for our child. I want to have beautiful and uplifting beautiful playing softly in the background as we go about our chores, and I cannot wait to lie on the floor with our little daughter or son and teach them their first songs.

In the spirit of sharing, I am going to share a few music choices that I am already enjoying and will continue to play around the house after the baby is born.

Scripture Lullabies

A few years ago, I discovered Scripture Lullabies, and since then I have given the CDs away as baby shower gifts to friends. I, myself, own digital copies of the three albums: Volume I, II, and III. I sometimes listen to them myself while at work. These albums are perfect for infants and toddlers, but they are also wonderful for grown ups. Another thing I love about these songs is, just as the name implies, the lyrics for each song are taken from Scriptures, though some have been simplified a little.

For a sampling of the beautiful and peaceful music, check out this playlist on YouTube.

Psalty’s Kids Praise

When our child gets to be a little older, perhaps four or five, I will introduce Psalty’s Kids Praise, particularly albums 1-6 as this is what we had when I was a kid. The Kids Praise albums are more like a radio story featuring Psalty, the Big Blue Singing Songbook, and his friends. Each album has a story and a moral point, backed up by familiar Maranantha and praise songs as well as a few original songs. Some of these songs helped me memorize Bible verses as a kid, and often when I was facing challenges even in high school, I would sing these songs to myself. There are one or two songs based on doctrine that is not completely accurate, but that is something we as parents need to teach as the kids grow into understanding.

For a sampling of songs from the Kids Praise albums, check out this playlist on YouTube.

My YouTube Playlists

I also have a few YouTube playlists that I listen to frequently. One is Serenity, inspired by my Pandora station of the same name.

I’ve also just started a Lullabies playlist with lullabies that I intend to learn and sing to our child. This list is still a bit small, but it will be growing over the next few months.


And a house filled with music would not be complete without hymns (both instrumental and with singing) filling the air. I am so excited!

Choosing names

Choosing names

Bradley and I actually chose our favorite boys and girls names almost a year ago, long before we were ready for kids. So we have both a boy’s name and a girl’s name already chosen.

There are millions of names in the world, and if you live in a country like the United States that does not have restrictions on naming, you may find yourself wondering how you can choose the perfect name for a baby that will one day grow into his or her own person.

I have loved names since I was in middle school, probably because I love to write fictional stories and choosing the right names for characters was a fun challenge. One of the first books I ever bought at a Goodwill was a 25,000+ baby names when I was eleven, and I used that book so much that it literally fell to pieces! Though naming a fictional character and naming a real life human may have some similarities, it is also different.

Like many, I have slowly developed my own naming preferences over the years. Certain names, whether based on sound or meaning or spelling, rose higher on my favorite list and other names, perhaps due to a jump in popularity, sank lower.

There are many different methods for choosing baby names. Some couples decide on names long in advance, others take suggestions from family after announcing the genders, and some cannot decide until after the little bundle of joy has arrived. No one method is correct, and everyone will find a way to name a child that works for them.

Bradley and I choose our names long in advance. Less than a year into our marriage, Bradley and I decided to throw about names and come to a consensus on our style. I scoured the baby name sites, used generators to find similar names, looked up origins and meanings, and came up with a short list that I read aloud to Bradley. He either approved or rejected names and threw in some of his own.

Naming a human being can be a bit challenging. After all, this is a name that this little one will most likely carry with him or her from infancy throughout their life. You begin to wonder: Will s/he like the name when s/he is older? Is it good/cute for a little kid but would it also work for a professional applying for a job? Will it fit his/her personality?

Eventually, we whittled our preferences down and created a style that fit us. We actually decided on two boys names and three girls names, so we were ready whenever we would get pregnant. This gave us time to figure out what naming style we preferred without pressure, and when we did find out we were expecting, we already had names we loved!

No, I will not be sharing our specific name choices yet. (No spoilers!)

I will, however, say that Bradley and I discovered that we like classic names that are familiar but not overly popular. We also like slightly longer names that allow for multiple nickname options, so the child will be able to choose what he or she wants to be called as they grow older. This tip I took from my mom. She named my sisters and I all three syllable names with nickname options, and this has definitely been useful to my sisters who both had extremely popular names.

Anyway, we are both very satisfied with our boy and girl name choices, and we sometimes call the baby by both (m/f) to get used to hearing the names and nicknames. We will be finding out the gender in a few weeks.

Here are some fun name resources for the curious.

Swistle is fun because she gives out naming advice, and is especially good at providing options on naming siblings. Her advice is thoughtful and diverse, and she encourages her readers to share their naming tips, too. It is just fun to read.

Social Security Administration: Baby Names
The site shares the top most popular baby names in the United States by year. Also available is downloading a list, with the numbers, of every single name registered with Social Security. It is quite hefty to wade threw, but also interesting as you can see spelling variations and some truly bizarre names.

Baby Name Genie
A random name generator that comes up with some funny combinations. It is more good for a laugh. 🙂

And the usual sites that give names, origins, meanings, and sometimes popularity:

Baby Center

Behind the Name
One of my favorite naming sites. It seems more reliable than some of the others.

This site has some fun lists of names, like “Classic Boy Names” or “Spunky Girl Names”.

Finding a Doctor

Finding a Doctor

When we discovered I was pregnant, what cause me a great deal of anxiety was finding the right doctor.

I was one of those people that did not have a regular doctor. It is not that I dislike doctors, but I feel that if you are healthy and take care of yourself, there is no reason to routinely visit a doctor. Medical personnel are there when emergencies, injuries, illnesses, or other usual things happen. Now, let me just say, I completely respect all those in the medical field. My older sister and her husband are ER nurses, specializing in pediatrics, and I have numerous close friends who are nurses, dentists, or doctors.

I just do not go to the doctor if there is no reason to.

So when the home pregnancy test came back positive, I was far more anxious about finding the right doctor than any other aspect of being pregnant or bringing a new life into the world. I spent a few weeks carefully going through my insurance’s list of OB/GYN doctors in my network, comparing their office locations and investigating the hospitals they deliver at. It was a long list, but I finally found a doctor that seemed to meet my preferences.

Every woman is going to have her own list of preferences when selecting a doctor, especially an OB/GYN or mid-wife. For me, I had three preferences:

  • a female doctor
  • accepts my insurance
  • delivers at the hospital down the street

Call me a prude or ultra-conservative, especially since I know there are many excellent male OB/GYNs, but I was adamant from the beginning that I wanted a female doctor. I also desired a doctor who delivers at the hospital down the street, for two reasons: proximity and I know that hospital’s excellent reputation. My older sister actually works there (originally in the pediatric ER and now in the adult ER), and the hospital has one of the best NICUs in the area, should anything happen.

Fortunately, the doctor I found meet all three areas. I called the office and asked if she was accepting new patients, and praise the Lord, she was!

Bradley could not come to the very first appointment, and I admit to being a bit nervous. The nurse was friendly. She took my weight, check my blood pressure, chatted with me, and gave me a pregnancy care package with pre-natal samples, pamphlets, and a hospital package with a list of classes, tours, forms, etc. A few minutes later, I met the doctor. She was so nice and friendly. I immediately felt at ease with the doctor and felt comfortable asking those silly first-time pregnant questions… Well, the few I could remember at the time.

Since then, we have had two more appointments. Both times Bradley was able to go with me, and we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The first time, the doctor had just a little bit of trouble locating the heartbeat because the little one was hiding pretty low and deep. The second time, the heartbeat was easy to locate. It was so exciting lying there listening the strong and steady beating of our baby’s heart. Both times, I teared up.

My advice to women who either pregnant or plan to become pregnant, take the time to find a doctor/mid-wife that you are comfortable with. Whether you intend to deliver at a hospital, birthing center, or at home, take your time to investigate.

Week 16

Week 16

Today we’re 16 weeks!

Well, 16-ish weeks, we’re still guestimating until our ultrasound in a few weeks. We opted out of the early ultrasound, and I need to set up an appointment for the standard one in a few weeks. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to find out the baby’s gender at the time. So far we have three individuals who predicted a baby boy, including our doctor, but it is just based on old wives’ tales or opinions. Though we will be thrilled with either a boy or girl, I think both Bradley and I are kind of hoping for a girl. So we’ll know in a few weeks and then we are planning a gender reveal party for our families and closest friends before we announce it to the world. How exciting!

Tuesday afternoon was very hard for me. Sunday I went too long between meals, and I think that started the series of unfortunate events. Yesterday I intentionally ate a hearty breakfast and lunch, and I did not go long without a healthy snack. Unfortunately, my stomach did not feel right all afternoon. It was all nauseous and sick. Then minutes after getting home from work, it was a rush to the bathroom and I was throwing everything up. I threw up twice during the first trimester, but that was very minor (barely counts, in my opinion), but this time was BAD. It was the type of uncontrollable, must empty the entire stomach, can barely breathe vomiting. It even had Bradley worried.

Oddly enough, after it was over, my stomach was finally feeling better than it had in a long time. I rested a little while and then made a delicious dinner of stir-fry veggies and glass noodles made from sweet potato. It was amazingly delicious! And I was lucky enough to have some leftover for lunch today. 🙂

First Trimester Symptoms

First Trimester Symptoms

Family and friends who have already gone through pregnancy, pregnancy 411 books, and web sites and online communities can be very helpful in providing explanations on the weird and unexpected changes that happen during pregnancy. Some I was prepared for, but others were a surprise.

I will try to avoid going into any extremely personal details, but be warned that this post will contain details on natural bodily functions and changes that occur during the earlier stages of pregnancy. This post is intended to be informative for those who have not had children or, like me, are first-timers and often find ourselves thinking: “Is this normal?”

So to begin! I have a fairly regular cycle of 28 days and a period length of about 6 days. There have been a few times where my period came slightly late or heavier than usual, but for the most part over the last four years of charting my cycle carefully, it has been quite regular.

Side note: Ladies, I highly encourage – whether you are single or engaged or married, teen or young adult or mid-thirties – to get a calendar, chart or free app and start tracking your cycles. There are so many benefits to being familiar with your body and how it changes throughout your monthly cycle. Though some women only start tracking their cycles to either avoid or to improve the changes of conception, the greater benefit is knowing what is normal for your body and so staying on top of your health. Knowing your body can help you detect changes in your health early on that you may need to discuss with your doctor or health professional.

Because I track my cycle and know my body fairly well, the week my period was due I began noticing some changes. Very early pregnancy symptoms can sometimes be confused with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) signs, as many are nearly identical: sore or tender breasts, changes in eating habits or food cravings, cramps or abdominal discomfort, bloating, etc. The only PMS sign I typically get is bloating and some slight abdominal discomfort, so when my breasts began feeling unusually sore and tender, even somewhat heavy, and my stomach seemed a bit too queasy, I knew things were not normal.

Then my period was late. As I mentioned before, I have had the occasional late period so I had to force myself to patiently wait a few days before taking a home pregnancy test. The test was positive! Because it is difficult to determine the exact date of conception, the way modern medical science reckons the length of pregnancies is to go all the way to the beginning of your last period. So according to the charts, I was about five weeks!

During Weeks 5 and 6 there were noticeable changes to my body. I was not expecting my breasts to hurt as much as they did so early on. They grew half a cup size in just two weeks, and I had to buy larger bras to accommodate. Also, there is a significant increase in the blood flow to a woman’s uterus and lower abdomen as her body begins to build the placenta – the life-support system for the baby. I quickly discovered that this meant being highly uncomfortable “down there” due to swelling. It was not fun. Probably somewhat related to that, I was not quite prepared for the discharge, which continues sporadically even today (Week 16). The discharge is similar to what happens in the middle of a normal cycle, nothing heavy or abnormal, but uncomfortable when it happens without warning. I have started wearing panty-liners everyday, and you can pick up a small pack at the 99¢ Store.

I was prepared for morning sickness. I heard some terrifying horror stories about it, but my experience was actually quite mild. I had bouts of nausea that came and went throughout the day and then stomachaches in the evening that kept me from eating dinner a few nights a week. I also felt completely exhausted, and would just collapse on the couch after work.

The nausea gradually lessened and faded away towards the end of the first trimester (about Week 11 and 12), and Week 13 my energy began to return. I was beginning to feel “normal” again! What a relief. I finally had the energy to wash dishes or clean the bathrooms again.

I have to share how amazing my husband is. He does half of the chores anyway – vacuuming, laundry, etc. – but he was so helpful during the first trimester when I was not feeling well. There were many evenings when I could not muster enough energy to even microwave a quick meal, and he would make me whatever I wanted for dinner… even if it was just peanut butter on toast! He also makes the best cup of tea in the world, and peppermint tea is so soothing for upset tummies.

I am so very blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.

Sharing the News With Parents

Sharing the News With Parents

I could barely contain my excitement, but I wanted to share the news with our parents in a fun and memorable way.

As this is our very first child, and the first grandchild for Bradley’s parents, we wanted to share the news to our parents in a special way. Something a little more thoughtful and personal then just a basic: “Hey, Mom. Dad. Guess what? We’re having a baby.”

I searched the Internet – from Pinterest to Baby/Mommy forums – looking for ideas. Most, to be honest, were either too cheesy, too confusing, or too elaborate. Finally, I decided to just make a little keepsake myself. So Bradley and I made a quick stop to the Michael’s near our house, and I browsed the aisles looking for anything that could give me some ideas. I picked up two small square canvases, two different colored ribbon, and scrapbooking stickers.

Example of scrapbooking stickers. At home, I attempted to use glue to attach the ribbon to the canvas with little successful so I ended up just using tape. I try to be crafty, but it never seems to work out the way I plan. Oh, well! I covered each canvas with green ribbon and used a gold ribbon as an accent on the left side. Then I placed the stickers so each little keepsake read: “We’re expecting!” And there was little baby footprints and other baby-related items on the canvas.

Then I wrapped each keepsake up and placed them in two gift bags. We were seeing my parents first on a Sunday afternoon, and I thought long and hard about how to break the ice so that a gift in the middle of January would not seem odd and give it away too fast. We arrived and about five minutes into the visit, I grabbed the gift bag but kept it out of my parents’ sight. We were all congregation in the kitchen and taking about things.

That is when I said something along the lines: “So my co-worker was telling me about a book she recently read. It is by a Japanese lady named Marie Kondo, and she is really famous for her organizing methods. And my co-worker said that one thing she liked about Marie Kondo’s style was that she stresses that you should only keep the items that bring you joy.”

My parents nodded, interested. I pulled out the gift bag and handed it to my mom. “Bradley and I knew right away that this would bring you guys great joy.”

My mom took the bag and Dad joined her. As the dug through the tissue paper, they wondered aloud what the present would be. Then my mom pulled out the keepsake and they only took a second to read it.

“Congratulations!” they both said. There were hugs and lots of smiles. We spent the rest of the visit chatting about how I was feeling, how Bradley was feeling, and about the new little one.

Wednesday evening just a few days later, we picked up dinner to go from Chipotle and went over to visit Bradley’s parents. Unfortunately that day, Bradley was quite sick, but he did not want to wait to tell his parents any longer. Again, I kept the gift bag hidden from view while we ate dinner and chatted. After dinner, Bradley said a few things to his mom, and I added: “We got you something special that I think you will really like.”

I handed Bradley’s mom the gift bag, and she carefully removed the tissue paper until she was holding the keepsake. She stared at it for a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity, and happy tears swelled up in her eyes. She could not even speak, so I jumped up and gave her a big hug. Bradley’s dad, who was seated on the other side of the living room, had no idea what was going on. When his mom found her voice and shared: “They are having a baby!”, I think he was in shock and it took some time to register.

We stayed and talked for a little while longer, and then hurried home so Bradley could take some medicine and sleep. He ended up staying home from work the next day with what was most likely the flu, and the following week I was sick with a sore throat.

Having both of our parents close by is a huge blessing, and I am so happy we were able to share with them our big news in a personal and meaningful way. This is the first grandchild for Bradley’s parents, so they are extremely excited and also a little overwhelmed. My parents have six other grandkids, but they are just as excited about this new addition as each of the others.

It is so much fun talking about what things my mom and Bradley’s mom did when they had babies, what items they found useful, and getting their advice and opinions. There used to be a time when new parents gleaned parenting advice from those who went before them, but now it seems that many young parents tend to disregard the experiences of the older and wiser and prefer to get advice from strangers in parenting forums online. While advice online can be helpful at times, do not get me wrong, there is something natural and beautiful about talking with your mother or mother-in-law or sister or friend who already has children face-to-face and hearing what worked for them, what they would do differently, etc.

Finding Out We Were Expecting

Finding Out We Were Expecting

Bradley and I learned we were expecting our first child early in the morning on January 1, 2016. What a way to start the new year!

When we married on April 18, 2014, my husband Bradley and I agreed that we wanted to wait to have children for about two years. Before adding a new addition to our brand new family, we wanted to take the time to get to known each other first as husband and wife. During the dating and engagement phases of a relationship, you become familiar and learn a great deal, but it is not quite the same as that precious time after the marriage vows when you fall asleep and wake up beside one another every day.

You get to discover little things about the other person — and yourself! — that you had not known before. Transitioning from a single adult into a married couple is an exciting time, and we wanted to create a baseline of what will be our own normal in the years ahead before adding variables to it. We have seen each other overjoyed and upset, tired and energetic, serious and silly. We have truly become each other’s best friend.

Before we married, we looked into various forms of birth control and, for one reason or another, we decided against pills, patches, condoms and the like. Since I had already been tracking my monthly cycles carefully and was very familiar with the different phases of my cycle, we decided to try a natural family planning method. I would like to write an entirely separate post explaining this method of birth control, but suffice to say that this method does not harm the woman, the man, or any potential babies. It is not 100% affective, but what birth control is? If the Lord laughed at our little plans and decided to change things up on us by giving us a precious little one earlier than we planned, we would have been just as happy.

This may not be the ideal for every couple, but this is what we mutually agreed on before we married. It has worked very well for us.

Then last autumn, we decided that we were both ready to begin trying for a child. When using a natural family planning method, it is more like you stop actively avoiding conception and allow nature to happen in God’s time.

The last week of December 2015, I knew something was different with my body. When you are very familiar with your body and your monthly cycle, you can pick up on little changes. Though my cycle is fairly regular, every now and then something throws it slightly out of whack and I had two false alarms previously due to just a late period, so we waited a few days passed when my period was due before even taking a home pregnancy test.

Those few days were agonizingly long, but I forced myself to be patient and wait. The whole time, I suspected that this time was different. This was not just a late period. I dared to let myself hope that perhaps, just perhaps, this time was the real deal.

About 7am on New Years morning, the pregnancy test came back a strong positive. I got a little chalkboard and wrote a message to Bradley on it, taped the test to it, and placed it where I knew he would see it when he woke up. Then I climbed back into bed, but I had accidentally woken Bradley up. He casually asked: “So? Are you pregnant?” And I told him.

I think that day we were both extremely excited but also completely overwhelmed. We spent most of the day at my parents’ house with my side of the family, and we did not say anything because what if it was a false positive? It was so early on, what if the egg did not implant or something? So as much as I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, we did not say anything that day. We waited and prayed.

We did take a picture two days later to commemorate the news!

Baby Van Sant. January 03, 2016.

We’re Expecting!

We’re Expecting!

Baby Van Sant coming September 2016

Yesterday officially marked the beginning of the thirteenth week, and Bradley and I made the big announcement above to all our family and friends. We had shared the news with our families much earlier, but we were waiting for the second trimester to share with the majority of our friends. It is very exciting to be able to finally share the news with everyone, and to finally be able to blog about being pregnant.

Starting this week, I will begin a brand new pregnancy series to share my experiences and thoughts. I already have posts planned for nine different topics, and more on the way. A sneak peek of a few of the topics include: fining out we were expecting, picking baby names, first trimester symptoms, and the importance of music. I am very excited.

Back to our announcement yesterday. For quite a few weeks, I was eagerly looking forward to March 1st. As I said before, we had told a few people here and there, but I was itchy to get make the official announcement before I start showing and then have to field all of the “Are you or aren’t you” questions. Bradley and I made the special graphic above just for this occasion. Bradley was the mastermind before the words (I simply editted them now), and I used my Photoshop skills to create the graphic.

chalkart2-jacqueline-2016 chalkart-jacqueline-2016 I was originally leaning towards a cutsy: “First comes love, then comes marriage…” type announcement, but that did not feel like us. So I asked Bradley to come up with something in his narrator of an epic movie trailer voice. (Yes, Bradley does epic movie trailer narrator voice pretty well!) It was funny and felt more like us, so I scribbled it down and played with the wording just a little. Instead of cutsy graphics and animals, I felt myself drawn to the chalkboard style.

This was probably inspired by our friend, whose name is also Jacqueline. She did some AMAZING signs for our friends’ recent wedding in chalk on a double-sided folding chalkboard. It was beautiful!

So Bradley and I are going to have a little one. This is so exciting! We have not set our ultrasound appointment yet so we probably will not find out the gender until the end of March or sometime in April.