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Sweet little Sadie celebrated her birthday at Mimi and Grampie’s house since we were still in the hospital with her new baby sister.  She mentioned she loved getting to sleep in Mimi’s room on her little sofa…..


She woke up at the morning and opened presents from Mimi and Grampie, ate Hootenanny pancakes, and worked on crafts.


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Around lunchtime they visited us in the hospital.

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Then they picked up her birthday cake from Publix which they had chosen the day before. It was an Ariel cake and Sadie loved it so much!

We were lucky enough to get the news we’d be discharged around 5pm.  So, the original plan was to have her birthday party at the hospital but we were able to do it at the Homestead instead.

Ben left the hospital late afternoon to pick up her wrapped presents from our house and decorate so it would be festive when we arrived home that evening.  That child loves decorations!

We arrived to the Homestead that evening for the party.  My parents were great to throw this together last minute!  The food was the kids’ favorites – Chick Fil A and pizza.

It was a bit of an odd birthday, but Sadie, selfless child that she is, didn’t mind sharing the spotlight one bit!



A few interesting things about Sadie at 9…

She loves mermaids, princesses, Legos, Shopkins, Barbies, swimming, and dolls.

She’s very maternal and loves babies and toddlers – especially girls!

She has become quite social, friendly, and talkative.  Quite the change from when she was younger.  Lately she strikes up a conversation wherever we go – in the check out line, with a waitress, friends of parents, etc.  Everyone at school knows and loves her – kids of all ages, genders, ethnicity, and personalities.  She’s gets along with everyone and never discriminates.

There’s not an angry bone in her body.  Usually she’ll ignore something if it bothers her and if it really bothers her she’ll break down crying. She never gets angry.

She’s a girly girl but gets along great with boys, too.

She has a high tolerance for pain and rarely complains.  I’ve watched her endure some rough things – illnesses, orthodontic procedures that I knew were hurting her, injuries – but she bears all things in quiet patience.  I’m always amazed by her strength.  Unfortunately, the one thing she can’t handle is having her hair brushed?!?!

She has the sweetest little singing voice.  She sounds like a sweet little angel from heaven.

She’s selfless, patient, and forgiving.  I’m in awe of her goodness and kindness.

She’s so brave!  The boys often tell her that, too.  “Wow, you’re so brave Sadie!”

She’s very confident in who she is and doesn’t compare herself to others.  I’m so thankful and I sure hope that continues into the teen years and beyond.  I don’t think she understand jealousy.  She’s blissfully unaware of a lot of negative things like that.

We know she’s so special and we feel so blessed that God gave us such a sweet, adorable little girl!!!

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  • March 28, 2017 - 7:32 pm

    Shannon Johnson - Sadie is darling. I love these pictures of her. She and Derek have the same brace face smile. He just got braces on this top teeth a couple weeks ago.ReplyCancel

A few random life updates….

1. Today is the last day of Ben’s busy season. I’m so excited to have a husband during normal non-business hours instead of just between 11PM and 8AM!

2. My baby is colicky. BUT, if I wear her all day and avoid dairy, soy, chocolate and spicy food she’s sometimes happy :) We love and adore her despite her fussiness. Interestingly, despite my restricted diet I’ve GAINED 3 lbs since last week. I’m choosing not to care or do anything about it until I’m 6 weeks postpartum.

3. Jax has lost his two front teeth in the last two weeks. I’m sill adjusting to his new cheesy grin!

4. I’ve been working hard on creating family yearbooks. So far I have 2015 and 2016 done. Lots of work but I love them.

5. I photographed 3 weddings last week and loved every moment. Andi did amazing while I was gone! Such a relief. Come to find out, “Aunt Jenny”, from my wedding on Saturday, happens to have the maiden name of Steinbrenner and owns the Yankees. I genuinely liked her so much I just may start to cheer for them as long as they aren’t playing against the Rays.

6. 4 kids is a lot more than 3 kids. Just in case anyone was wondering.

7. Kids start baseball/softball tomorrow and they’re thrilled!

8. We’ve been visiting a lot of parks lately and our favorite has been the new Baybride Park in the Westchase community. We met Morgan Clune and Chrissy there on Monday.  We also enjoyed the Safety Park North City park and met Shelby there last Monday.  The fresh air and exercise is good for all of us.

9. I signed up for a grocery deliver service and it is amazing! I realized tonight at 7PM that we were almost out of milk. Within 5 minutes (and while nursing) I had a full shopping list ordered and on it’s way. It was delivered 45 minutes later. Fantastic!

10. The big kids have been late to school 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Opps. Please re-read #1, #2, and #6 from above and you’ll understand why.

And, a few random photos from the last week to go with this random post….


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I’ve heard people say that after you have three kids it all feels the same when you add more.

They were lying!

I could go on and on about how adorable and perfect our baby is (I’ll get to that and here’s a little teaser of what’s to come….)

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…..but I also wanted to record the difficulties.  One day I’m going to forget how exhausting the first month is with a newborn and I don’t want to forget. I want to always remember so I’ll have compassion for friends and family going through it and a desire to help them!

The older three are really independent, rather obedient, and mostly self-sufficient so it’s been a big adjustment to have a wee little one that needs constant care and attention.  Truthfully, I’m not a huge lover of the newborn phase.  I thought I was a baby person but we actually enjoy our kids more and more the older they get.  Newborns are difficult to comfort, exhausting, and their delicate health makes me anxious. Love ‘em but that’s the truth!

So a few of the life adjustments….

Lack of sleep is probably one of the hardest parts of the newborn phase.  Andi does better than our other newborns.  Most nights she eats every three hours and goes back to sleep.  Last night she was up for 3 hours straight, though.  I find the unpredictability the most difficult. It’s hard to think and hope you’re going to get to go back to sleep only to find out that she has other plans.  Also, all this lack of sleep happens in the midst of recovering from some pretty traumatic physical wounds/changes so it’s not like one is at the peek of their physical strength and endurance.  Quite the opposite.  It’s tiring in so many ways.

The hardest thing for me is actually not the lack of sleep but sacrifice of personal freedoms.  I sit on the sofa and nurse all day.  I’m so grateful she’s an amazing nurser, but I feel tethered to that sofa and nursing sessions. Everything must wait and be strategically planned – showers, meals, and bathroom breaks.  My time is not my own.  I can’t make decisions about what I get to do in a day and when.  Also, the first week or two of adjusting to nursing – ouch! Ouch. Ouch.

Simple outings are not so simple.  I tried to return some clothes to a store yesterday.  I had Andi perfectly prepped, fed, and asleep when I left. However, she woke up shortly after arriving at the store.  So I nursed her in their bathroom and rocked her back to sleep.  Five minutes later she was awake again and fussy.  So I held her and she calmed down.  However, people stared and wanted to have some friendly chat, “Oh how old is she?” “Are you sleeping at night?” “Is she your first?”  Haha.  “Oh you have your hands full!” – nice enough but the fear that they’re going to touch her makes me nervous and I could feel the clock ticking and just wanted to get my errands done.  What was usually a simple, enjoyable errand became stressful and exhausting.

This newborn phase has been more difficult, because I’m bound by the pick up and drop off schedule of the older kids.  It feels like just when I get Andi down for a good nap I’m forced to move her to her car seat to go pick up someone from school.  She’s not a big fan of the car so she often cries and that’s heartbreaking.  When we get home I usually nurse her again to calm her down because that’s all that works, rock her, and hope she goes back into a deep sleep.  Doesn’t always happen, though.  We’ll get on a regular schedule eventually but things are still so unpredictable in the newborn period.

Lastly, I hate the stretched-out-nothing-fits-will-I-ever-look-normal-again, yucky postpartum body!  I think I feel better about my image 9 months pregnant than I do one week post-partum.  I’m tired and stretched out and sore and leaking and….yuck!  I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin and I’m so eager to start exercising and getting back to normal but restricted by rules, exhaustion, and lack of time.  No fun.

But there have been so many blessings which I should also acknowledge!

First, we feel blessed that I had a normal delivery and therefore a faster recovery.  We prayed long and hard for that blessing!  I had zero “baby blues” this time around – so nice not to feel emotionally out of control.  Also, Ben was home for over a week and did pick up and drop offs, cooked, cleaned, did HW with the kids…everything!  I forgot just how helpful that man could be.  He was amazing!

My parents cancelled their scheduled trip to Utah so they could take care of our kids while we were in the hospital.  They are so attentive to their needs, and we had so much peace of mind knowing they were in good hands.

Also, a good friend of mine, Caroline, has been helping me with housework for the past 8-ish months.  She usually comes once a week and does laundry, cleaning, organizing, or whatever else needs to be done.  During this postpartum period she’s been coming twice a week.  It’s a game changer!  I’m able to mostly give up the burden of housework and just focus on the kids and their well-being.  She has made such a difference!

We’ve also felt the love, support, and prayers from friends and family.  It’s so nice to know we’re thought of and prayed for.

So those are the challenges and blessings.

Now let’s talk about the great rewards!

I get to cuddle this cute little face all day….


It’s intoxicating.  Her little face is a constant source of entertainment and wonder for me.  I stare at her all day.  It’s heaven.


Her favorite place is close to me.  I’m her favorite thing in the whole world.  Instant and unconditional love for each other. That depth of love is amazing and such a gift.



I feel like our family is double the size.  Which maybe sounds like a bad thing but I love it. I don’t love the noise, work, and arguments, but it’s nice to feel substantial and complete. I know one little newborn isn’t that big of an addition, but goodness, things feel so much fuller and it’s a wonderful feeling.


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One of my favorite things this time around is watching the three big kids fall in love with Andi.  They are so smitten! They beg to hold her all day.  They love her so much already and I wasn’t expecting them to feel such an instant connection with her. “Mommy you made the best baby ever!”  Long after Ben and I are gone there will be 4 of them to support, love, and help each other.  It gives me so much peace of mind.

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We all love her so much!!!

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My last “bump” picture – 4 days before I was induced.


Here’s the short story….

Induced at 42 weeks.  16 hours of labor.  Pitocin.  Epidural.

Not quite how I had pictured things unfolding.  In the end, we had a happy, healthy baby so I’m choosing to be happy.

Here’s the long story….

Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church, Evelyn, the midwife, called and explained that at midnight of that day they were legally obligated to transfer me out of their care.  She explained we needed to get the baby born that day or I would be needed to be induced at the hospital in the morning.  I had been anxiously trying to start labor – acupuncture, walks, herbal supplements, 3 membrane strippings, 2 rounds of castor oil, foot massage, long baths to “relax”, etc.  She suggested me to come into the office and she could strip my membranes again then I could go for a walk, bounce on the birthing ball, and use the breast pump for an hour. Then she would break my water and hope to get labor started.

So we went to Sacrament meeting, and then returned home to gather/pack things for ourselves and the kids.  Picture on the stairs after church…..


1PM – We arrived at the birthing center.  Evelyn examined me and said I was 3cm, 50% effaced and baby was still high.  I was pretty disappointed that after all that efforts and struggles to go into labor it didn’t create any more change in my cervix.  She stripped my membranes again….so fun.  We discussed options for a while.  She felt, and Ben and I agreed, that breaking my water wasn’t a good idea since things weren’t further along.  She suggested we could walk, bounce, and pump for a few hours and see if labor started.

My parents and Joseph arrived and we chatted for a little while.  My parents took the kids back to their house.

Ben and I set off on a walk.  I love to walk.  It was nice to have time to be together and discuss our options.  I was pretty positive that labor wasn’t going to start on it’s own, and I was tired of torturing myself trying to get labor started.  So, we decided to go to the hospital to get induced.  We could have waited until the morning to get induced but we hoped we could get her born that day and hoped that would allow us to get home in time for Sadie’s birthday on Tuesday, the 24th.

3:00PM – We stopped to eat at Christino’s Coal Oven Pizza for pasta and gelato.  So happy we did!  It gave us time to process what was happening.  Also, we didn’t know this at that time, but they wouldn’t let me eat at the hospital because they were worried I’d need a c-section. So I went nearly 24 hours from this lunch before I could eat again.  I eat a lot and often, so that was hard for me.

3:45PM – We checked in at hospital.

4:00PM – Nurse Patti checked us in and hooked me up to the monitors and IVs.  I was pretty disappointed to be in that hideous hospital robe, stuck in an uncomfortable bed, hooked up to machines.  I’m really not an admirer of hospitals.


5:20PM – Doctor Richard Jameson checked me and reported I was 3cm, 30% effaced, -2 station.  We discussed induction options – pitocin, cervadil, and cytotec.  We/he decided to start with cytotec.  It seemed like the compassionate and benevolent option so we were happy to go down that path.

6:00PM – Nurse Natalie took over and she was fantastic!  So attentive and helpful all night long.  A good nurse like her makes a drastic difference!


6:15PM – First cytotec treatment placed in the cervix.  Contractions started up within an hour.  They weren’t very strong but they were very regular within an hour.


8:00PM – The baby’s heart rate dropped for a good minute or two.  Natalie took action quickly and had me flip from side to side 4 to 6 times and massaged my belly until it came back up.  We had been through this before during Jax’s delivery so I pretty much understood what was going on and knew it was a bad news.  Every twenty to thirty minutes for the next 8 hours her heart rate would drop and our room would get flooded with nurses flipping me and rubbing the baby.  Once we found a good position I would be stuck in that spot until the next deceleration.  They also pumped me full of fluids which made me need to go to the bathroom.  They wouldn’t let me off the monitors so I was using a bedpan every 45 minutes all night long.  A very humbling, unenjoyable experience.  My back and hips ached so badly from being stuck in positions not of my choosing.  I think I had a pinched nerve in my back and I kept being forced into positions that put terrible pressure on that spot.  Ben asked me how I was a few times and I told him, “Death would be a welcomed relief.”  The contractions weren’t terribly uncomfortable but they were strong enough that I couldn’t sleep through them.  The back, hips, and desperate need to go to the bathroom were the bigger discomforts.  We were also concerned for the baby and the c-section word was thrown around a few times. I’m so scared of c-sections so that was an added stress.


2:10AM – Dr. Jameson check me and I was 4cm, 50% eff, -1 station.  Since my previous labors were 4, 3, and 2 hours we expected this was to be fast, too.  We were surprised the baby hadn’t been born yet and even more surprised to hear I wasn’t much further along after hours of contractions.


5:00AM – Nurse Gladett took over.  She was a nice Jamaican woman.  We liked her but she was a little less attentive than Natalie.


5:45AM – 6:45AM – My contractions really started to pick up.  They were strong and frequent and I thought I was in transition.  I felt nauseous and eventually got sick.


7AM – Shift change.  Dr. Keltner and Nurse Mariza took over.  Mariza was even less attentive than Gladett, but she was likable enough.  Dr. Keltner was fantastic – level headed, gentle, understanding.  When they entered the room at 7AM I had just been sick and contractions were lightening a little.  I expected to feel pressure to push because I thought I was in transition.  So, I was confused why contractions were becoming a little gentler.  Dr. Keltner checked and I was, “4 cm. Still high and not effaced.”  Devastating.  After 12 long hours of pain and zero sleep I was no further along.  How was that possible?!?!

By this point the baby’s heart rate had been stable for 2 – 3 hours so Dr. Keltner suggested we start with a very small amount of pitocin.  Only 1 unit increased by 1 every 30 minutes.  He asked if I planned on getting any pain management.  I told him, “No”.  They left the room to get the pitocin and then I re-evaluated….I wanted an epidural.  I was emotional and physically exhausted, in so much pain, and figured labor was still 3 – 4 hours off at least.  I wasn’t sure my back could survive another 3 – 4 hours in that position and I knew I wasn’t relaxed because I was in so much pain.  Also, I was getting squirmier and couldn’t stay in one position for very long anymore.  I figured the epidural would allow me to stay in positions that would help the baby.  Good for her; good for me.  I told Ben I was considering an epidural and he was super encouraging. I told him my biggest concerns were just a sense of wimping out.  He told me that was ridiculous.  So I ordered an epidural.


8:10AM – The epidural was placed.  Ben can’t handle the needle in the back so he stepped out.  The nurses and anesthesiologist said it was the fastest, easiest placement they’d ever seen/done.  I was grateful that something went smoothly.  Within minutes I felt deliriously happy and relaxed.  I know pitocin doesn’t affect mood, but that epidural had a lightening effect on my emotional state of mind.  I felt drunkenly happy. I felt like I’d had a long massage.  I felt better than I’d felt in 9 months.  No back pain, no hip pain, no stomach pain….so much happiness! Ben returned and the sun was rising and he spotted a rainbow and I felt so much tranquility.  I knew things were going to work out and we’d be holding our baby soon enough.


8:40AM – Started the pitocin.  This was a pretty calm time.  The baby’s heart rate continued to do well.  So thankful!  The only problem was my blood pressure.  It dropped to 70s over 40s and I was freezing and trembling.  They eventually brought the anesthesiologist back who gave me some medicine which helped the blood pressure to go back up.


10:10AM – I could feel the baby coming down more. Mariza checked and said I was a 7 cm and my water was still not broken but bulging.


10:45AM – I started to feel pressure so Mariza got Dr. Kiltner.  He said I was fully dilated but still had a tiny lip of cervix.  He offered to break my water or we could wait for a few more contractions.  I was still nervous about the baby’s cord compression so I suggested we just wait.  He waited 5 minutes, suited up and then suggested I give a little push.  With the next contraction I gave that little push and my water broke and went everywhere!  It was pretty dramatic.  Poor doctor and floor.  Good thing he had suited up.  He encouraged me to push really slowly and gently hoping it would prevent tearing so I did that on the next contraction…..

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11:01AM – Andi Katherine was born!  Instantly all the pain, difficulty, and waiting was forgotten and felt like such a small price to pay for such an amazing blessing!!!  She was a little purple at first but perked up quickly.  We kept locked gazes for a while.  It was so amusing to inspect all her tiny features and hold her miniature body.

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I cut her cord….



I held her for a long time.  Eventually everyone came back to examine her.  Several people remarked, “Oh, wow, a little one.” I guessed her weight to be at 7’6″ and Ben guessed 7’3″.  She was 6’9″.  She was considered small for gestational age.  She looks plump in pictures but she’s actually itty-bitty.

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The kids surprised us and arrived at our door maybe an hour or two after she was born.  Jax was the most eager and first to hold her. McKay kept his distance for a while but eventually did hold her hand.  They were most fascinated by her umbilical cord!  It was so fun to see their reactions!

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So that’s the extended version the birth of our sweet babe!  We’re so grateful she’s here and healthy and ours!  God is good!


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  • February 8, 2017 - 3:55 am

    Shannon - She’s a doll Alicia! You deserve an award for being as patient as you were for Andi to arrive. You beat my record by four days! I’ve noticed after looking at pictures of Sadie and Andi together that Marissa and Katelyn are the same age difference. It’s amazing how quickly all the kids have aged in just a few years. Enjoy your sweet baby! Love you all!ReplyCancel

A looonnngggg time ago I wrote this post: when I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant with McKay.

As I sit here tonight, 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant again, these words rang true for how I’m feeling:

I go to bed every night and think, “Please let this be the night.” And, wake up every morning and think, “Ugh, still here!  Heavenly Father pleasssse help me through this day!”…..I feel like everyone is tired and struggling and the sooner we have this baby the sooner things will start to get back to normal.  Well, the new normal.  It will probably get harder before it gets easier, but right now I just feel stagnant and I’m ready to move forward.

McKay was born about 3 hours after I wrote that post.  Maybe history will repeat itself and I’ll go into labor tonight.  That could happen.  I’m not sure it will.  But I hope it will!

Ben and I have guessed that January 16th, tomorrow, would be her birthday since early on in the pregnancy.  Of course, I’ve also said that about other dates hoping it would happen sooner, but realistically I expected it to be January 16th.  I hadn’t prepared for the fact it could be past the 16th!!!  I’m trying to wrap my mind around that today.  The anticipation is becoming painful.

Thankfully I have been able to get a lot done the last few weeks.  All photoshoots are edited and delivered, baby stuff is all bought, and the house is really organized.  My motivation for to-do list items dried up this week, though.  My brain only thinks about one thing – baby.  I can’t focus on much else.

On Wednesday of this past week I hit the “I’m done!” day.  It was a physically draining day full of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and Charlie’s fun birthday party.  We got home from the birthday party around bedtime and I was exhausted and achy.  Ben had YMs and was heading out the door.  I begged him to stay and told him I just didn’t have another hour of stamina left in me but I don’t think he realized I meant it.  Bedtime was hard with the boys and I ended up crying and they ended up crying and it was awful.  I went to sleep angry with Ben, frustrated with the boys, disappointed with myself, and physically and emotionally exhausted.  One of the most exhausted moments of my life perhaps.  Can’t recall a time I’ve ever felt more drained.  That was my “I’m done!” Day.  I had been patient up until that point but since then I’m so anxious to get this baby out and move into our new routine.

The kids are normally very content, happy, and obedient but the boys haven’t been their normal selves the past week.  They’re coming in bed with us at night, not wanting to do their chores, and fighting going to bed. Their stress and anxiety levels are high!  Jax is especially struggling – he’s cried about going to school for the last 6 days and cries much of the morning when he’s there.  He says he just wants to be home with me.  It’s so sad.  I’m ready for this baby to be born so things will settle back down eventually, not just for me, but for the kids!

So, on to actual baby related events from the week….

On Tuesday I had my follow up doctor’s appointment with the hematologist.  My numbers still weren’t great so they kept me so I could do another IV Iron Infusion.  I brought the kids with me and my half hour appointment turned into two hours!  We went straight to piano and singers company after than and arrived home to meet the missionaries at 6:30 for a lesson and then hurried to bed. Long day.  Lots of time in the car that day, too, which was hard on my back and the kids.  They did great, though!

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On Thursday I had my routine OB appointment and since I was over 40 weeks it’s their standard to do a non-stress test.  The baby did phenomenal until after a half hour her her rate dropped to 70 – 80 bpm for about 10 seconds.  That made them nervous and they were also nervous because of my small measurements so they sent me to Morton Plant Hospital for further testing.  I was hooked up to the monitor for another 5ish hours, did some blood work, and had an ultrasound.  They were considering inducing but everything checked out beautifully – good placenta, healthy/active baby, she was in perfect position, cord was not around the neck, and I had tons of fluid (95th percentile).  She had a perfect score, an 8/8 on the test.  Usually if the heart rate drops it’s because of low fluid or cord is wrapped.  Since that definitely wasn’t a problem in my case they eventually sent me home.  They told me if I hadn’t had the baby by Sunday (today) that I needed to come back for an induction Sunday night.



However, the next morning I talked to my midwife and since everything looked great I decided to declined the induction at Morton Plant.  Being at the hospital reminded me of how much I dislike that place and made me more excited than ever to have the baby at the birthing center. This birthing group is really informed and thorough.  I am more and more impressed with them with each interaction we have. I trust them and I’m really looking forward to having the baby through them.
At the hospital they checked my cervix and I was discouraged to hear I was only 1cm dilated, 40% effaced and still a -2 station.  At this point in McKay’s pregnancy I was 4cm dilated.  Makes me wonder if things are still a ways off?  I usually dilate early.  They did sweep my membranes but I haven’t been having any contractions.  I had been having a lot the last few months but things stopped last Saturday. They’re slowly picking up but nothing too strong or frequent.
I hate to sound like a broken record but I’m really ready for this pregnancy to come to an end!!!  It’s like waiting for Christmas morning to arrive when you’re a little kid.  So much excitement, nervousness, and anticipation.  In fact, I’ve had the thought several times this week that I wonder if I’ll ever feel this much anticipation for an event ever again in life.  I don’t think I will.  All I think about is holding this baby.  Hopefully I’ll be doing so in the next day or two!  That would be so wonderful!
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  • January 17, 2017 - 4:13 am

    Shannon - It’s so hard to wait once you’ve gotten past your due date. She’s almost here. You can do it :) You are in our prayers.ReplyCancel