The Beauty of Beaufort Book Deput

 

Written for Eat, Sleep, Play Beaufort

Beaufort Inn’s Tabby Place was filled with fans, photographers and members of Friends of Hunting Island Thursday evening for the anticipated book debut and author signing of The Beauty of Beaufort. A year in the making, the book features over 175 image from 28 local contributors. Throughout the night, guests mingled, snacked on hors d’oeuvres, sipped wine and one lucky raffle winner even walked away with a free book.

Author, Ryan Copeland & wife

Publisher Lydia Inglett approached the Photography Club of Beaufort’s President Joan Eckhardt about getting its members involved. Inglett visualized a book full of breathtaking images that captured the Lowcountry with historically written descriptions by Author, Ryan Copeland. Several categories were given such as shrimping, Port Royal wetlands, Hunting Island, etc. Hundreds of images were submitted and Inglett with her team, selected the ones that would be featured on the pages. As a thank you to the Photography Club of Beaufort, all net proceeds from now until May 31st will benefit the Friends of Hunting Island. After this date, proceeds can benefit the nonprofit organization if purchased directly from a Photography Club or Friends of Hunting Island member.

Members from Friends of Hunting Island, as well as the Photography Club of Beaufort gather for the book deput.

The Photography Club of Beaufort was very selective in choosing which organization to direct the donations, but the Friends of Hunting Island was the obvious choice. This nonprofit greatly depends on contributions to help acquire items such as planting sea oats, ADA beach accessible wheelchairs, sand fencing, and a nature center. This year’s plan is to even create a replica lighthouse playground for those not quite tall enough to climb the real one. “The books’ proceeds will really help purchase a lot of items that are not state funded,” stated Friends of Hunting Island President, Denise Parsick.

Publisher, Lydia Inglett (second from right) along with other staff members gather in preparation for the event.

If interested in purchasing The Beauty of Beaufort, contact the Photography Club of Beaufort, Friends of Hunting Island, or visit www.31stStarbooks.com to grab your copy today.

Author, Ryan Copeland autographs his first copy.

 

 

MCAS Air Show pleases crowd of thousands


Written for Eat, Sleep, Play, Beaufort

The bi-annual MCAS Beaufort Air Show officially kicked off on Saturday and by the time it’s over it will bring nearly 100,000 spectators to get a closer look at the myriad of historic military aircraft, modern jets, and of course the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.


The much-anticipated event was free to the public with gates opening at 9am and the fun began the moment the public began to flood the entrance. Families could stroll along the tarmac to learn about various helicopters, planes, and even cars. Many, such as the WWII-era C-54/R4D, could even be toured. Others could still be viewed up close. Pilots were more than willing to provide history of the aircraft and answer questions and there was even an opportunity to take a helicopter ride in a UH-1H Huey and an AH-1F Cobra.

 

 

 

 

Off to the side of the static displays was a designated children’s area. Kids were found jumping on one of the more than 20 bounce houses, or creating colorful masterpieces on a 20 X 6 mural. Older kids weren’t left out either. As long as they were height eligible, they could enjoy the two inflatable obstacle courses and large slides. Also available are items that could be purchased such as clothing apparel, souvenirs, or model planes, and of course food.

The Parris Island Marine Band led the opening ceremonies and was immediately followed by the USMC Legacy pass, which featured the F-35B, F/A-18, AV-8B, and the MARSOC Parachute Jump. The show continued with various gravity-defying stunts by Rob Holland in his Extra 300 and Gary Ward and his MX2 before shifting gears to the heart-pounding jet noise of the F-16 Viper Demonstration flown by Major Waters. At 2:25, Major Peppers demonstrated the capabilities of the F-35B by conducting a vertical climb on takeoff, a series of high-speed passes, an impressive hover sequence, and a slow landing. Afterward, the onlookers enjoyed the GEICO Skytypers before the highly anticipated U.S. Navy Blue Angels took flight. Their incredible maneuvers, often only 18 inches from each other, had the audience captivated as they roared over top of the crowd.

By opening the gates to the public, it allows MCAS to continue to educate the Lowcountry on the mission of the Air Station, along with showcasing all branches of the military service. With a full day of fun for the entire family, the Beaufort Air Show, once again, did not disappoint.


If you couldn’t make the air show on Saturday, you still have an opportunity to come out on Sunday! With the predicted low cloud bases, not only will the temperature be comfortable, the show is guaranteed to be packed with multiple low-altitude, high-speed maneuvers.

Don’t forget your sunscreen, a chair… and some hearing protection.
– See more at: http://eatsleepplaybeaufort.com/mcas-beaufort-air-show-pleases-crowd-of-thousands/#sthash.xT2zsyKb.dpuf

Local Organization “Takes Back The Night” in Downtown Rally

Written for Eat, Sleep, Play, Beaufort

Local non-profit, Hopeful Horizons (formerly known as CODA and Hope Haven) held their annual Take Back the Night awareness event to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault and child abuse.   Held in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park pavilion Friday evening, survivors and volunteers spoke to over 100 people discussing awareness, prevention, and treatment. Surrounding the pavilion were 1,495 purple and green flags – one for every survivor of sexual, domestic, or child abuse that they assisted last year.

CEO of Hopeful Horizons, Shauw Chin Capps, spoke on the purpose of Take Back the Night.  The message was simple: Make hope happen, end abuse, and change lives. Capps has a staff of 44 working in various areas helping the non-profit organization succeed. The organization offers counseling, treatment, and even a 24/7 crisis hotline for those that just need to talk.  Hopeful Horizons will also provide immediate shelter for women and children needing to escape an abusive relationship.
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Sexual assault outreach specialist, CJ Atkins began the evening by introducing sexual assault survivor, Jane Carson-Sanders. Retired Colonel Carson-Sanders told of her terrifying encounter almost 40 years ago with the East Area Rapist and serial killer (who has never been caught). Sanders has been featured on the shows Dark Minds, 48 Hours, Crime Watch, CNN and People Magazine telling her story, but she wanted to state that she wasn’t there to tell the details of her attack. She referred to herself as first a victim, then a survivor, and now a thriver. Speaking with others and discussing her story of survival as well as finding her purpose in life led her to write the book, Frozen in Fear.
Carson-Sanders was followed by another powerful survivor, Tina Bagneski. Twenty years ago, Bagneski was stabbed by a still unknown assailant 17 times with a pair of sewing scissors. She woke up months later from a coma, paralyzed and remembering very little.  The investigation of her attack led Bagneski to not only tell her story, but to teach others of deterrents, things to look for to lower a chance of an attack.  
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Sexual Assault Survivors Ret. Col. Jane Carson-Sanders & Tina Bagneski

Other speakers included Mayor of Beaufort Billy Keyserling, State Representative Shannon Erickson, Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy, and City Councilwoman Nan Sutton.

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Mayor Billy Keyserling and state Representative Shannon Erickson speak on the strength of the survivors of abuse.
Chief Clancy wanted to take his speech a bit further, not only helping give survivors a voice, but talking about how we can work together to stop abuse. “Treat everyone with respect and dignity…that’s how you break this cycle.” Violence Prevention Specialist, Aldriene Parker, also spoke on the prevention of abuse. As the leader of the MOST Club (Men of Strength), he works with middle and high schoolers throughout Beaufort and Jasper County to help young men become leaders in preventing violence against women and others.  The final speaker of the night was Mr. Clean from B.A.C.A (Bikers Against Child Abuse). This group of strong (slightly intimidating) men take a firm stand against all forms of child abuse. They work directly with children empowering them and being a constant presence in their lives.
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Chief Clancy along with members of B.A.C.A.
The event ended with an open mic opportunity. Those who have been victims of sexual assault or abuse were given the opportunity to come up and tell their story.  After a couple of minutes, the first survivor bravely walked to the stand with an outpouring of applause and support. Others followed. Several mentioned it was the first time they had ever spoken of their abuse.  
April is Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention Month. Hopeful Horizons is dedicated to helping both current victims and survivors. If you or someone you know need to escape a dangerous situation, or simply talk about a past occurrence, don’t hesitate to call their 24/7 crisis hotline at 1800-868-2632 or visit their website hopefulhorizons.org for more information. 

 

– See more at: http://eatsleepplaybeaufort.com/local-organization-takes-back-the-night-in-downtown-rally/#sthash.v5057KSu.dpuf

 

The Strength of a Military Spouse

On a recent Friday, I had a hometown friend tell me that her husband was leaving the next day for a work conference, and she would not see him again until the following Tuesday. I gave her a moment to vent a little, and I could hear a bit of sadness in her voice, but the truth was, I was annoyed. What I would give to have my husband leave for only three nights. When my husband leaves for a work related event, I will be lucky if I see him in six months. I am a military spouse.

The strength of a “milspouse” is second-to-none, and the military lifestyle is truly not for everyone. The women I have met are strong, independent, and adaptive to change. We all handle this lifestyle differently: the deployments, the detachments, the moves, and the ever-changing work hours. Some spouses find distractions such as throwing themselves into their own careers, while others are stay-at-home moms. However, there is one thing that stands firm – our comfort in each other. There is a reason that milspouses become so close. Unless someone has physically lived this lifestyle, most civilians will never truly understand, and because of this, we milspouses have a core connection to each other and where words often are not necessary.

The ladies of 115

We naturally bond in countless ways. Our husbands’ careers may have brought us together, but it is our love for each other that keeps us close. We compare the number of times each person has moved, and all the personal items that have been destroyed by movers. We talk about cities where we have lived and what we have loved (and loathed) about each one. We find that we know many of the same people, because even though the military can seem immense to outsiders, in our community, it is quite small. We make fun of our husbands’ jargon and how they gesticulate when telling stories. We also have to share with each other the birth names of our husbands, since they only use call signs. Quite honestly, I do not always know who “Twinkie”, “Omaha”, and “Broke” are! We even make sure to tell each other where our military discounts can be used! But none of this is not what sets military spouses apart from others. It is the connection we have with each other when the unexpected happens. Without asking what to do, or being nervous about what to say, a military spouse will step in to help another during the worst of times.

Secret Sister Reveal

On December 8th at 6:40 pm, F-18 fighter pilot, Jake “Red Stripe” Frederick, who was stationed in Beaufort, was killed while performing a routine mission off the coast of Japan. The last words the crew heard over the radio were, “I am ejecting.” His body was found 20 hours later. He left behind his eight months pregnant wife, Kiley, and his three-year-old son. Within a few short hours after Kiley was notified, her squadron’s wives started pouring into her home. For the next several days, they stayed right by her side, bringing food, helping pack up her house, praying and comforting her in any way she needed – even if she did not say anything specifically.

News of Jake’s death spread quickly through our military community, and within a couple of days hundreds of Facebook profile pictures had been changed across our nation with the VMFA-115 logo (Jake’s squadron), a Go-Fund Me page had been created by one of Kiley’s closest friends in the squadron, and pages with updates of different suggestions for helping Jake’s family were being shared thousands of times.

It was no secret that Jake and Kiley were Christians, and her faith carried her through these dark days. On the Sunday after Jake’s death, Kiley and Jake’s families gathered in her home, along with dozens of spouses to hold a small service. Songs were sung, stories were told, and prayers were lifted. Several days later, Jake was laid to rest in his home state of Texas. Kiley made a specific request: she wanted her military spouse sisters to sit with the family at the funeral.

Photo Credit: Paul Nurnberg Photography

This is the strength of a spouse. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, and when your husband is a United States’ Marine, there is an extra concern for his safety, but you will rarely hear complaints. In a way, we chose this life. We knew this life would not be easy; we could have walked away, chosen a different path, but we stayed. We became military spouses, through the good times and bad. We know we have each other to lean on, and we make each other strong.

In Memory of Jake “Red Stripe” Frederick

 

 

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”

Why I’m Pro-Life

Maddox just turned 4 months old.  Every night, I say the same prayer for him: to be protected, healthy, kept safe, and to one day accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  I am a Christian, and I try my best to put God at the center of my life-every decision.  Sometimes, I fail, but for this election, I held true to my values.

When I look at Maddox, I realize how truly pro-life I am.  The moment I heard his heart beat at just a few weeks in utero, I would have done anything for him. I cannot support a politician who doesn’t flinch if a woman wants an abortion for unrelated health purposes.  I have been told, “There needs to be separation of church and state.” I disagree. The more we push Jesus out, the worse, I believe, our country is getting. “What a woman chooses to do with her body is her right.” What about the baby’s rights? Women have options if they do not want to raise a child, but as a Christian, I view abortions as murder.

When I was about 20 weeks pregnant, I was given the option to test for disorders such as Down Sydrome.  I asked around to a few of my friends on whether they got the test or not, as well as their reasons for it.  I heard a few mixed answers.  One that struck me uncomfortably was, “Yes.  I recommend it. That way, you can decide if you want to keep the baby or not.”  I was totally left speechless, and then I asked one more person. My friend Brittney.  Brittney has been one of my closest friends since childhood, and she is the epitome of a Christian woman.  Her response spoke volumes to me: “No, I wasn’t tested. It didn’t matter.  If God wanted to give us a child with Down Syndrome, then He obviously thinks we can handle it.”  That was all I needed to hear. I spoke with Jesse, and he agreed. There would be no test for me, but abortion would not be an option.

After Maddox’s birth, my 0pinion on the subject was even stronger. I look at him and thank God for this wonderful blessing. I have friends who have adopted and love their children just as much as I love mine.  These parents are also thankful to their children’s biological mother for choosing life.  That choice not only saved the lives of the babies, but brought a new love to a family.

I’ve often wondered why God allows some women to get pregnant so easily knowing they do not want to have a child, while others pray relentlessly for one-only to never have the chance.  I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m not supposed to.  Jesse and I became pregnant with Maddox very quickly, and four days after his birth, we knew we wanted more children. The same may not happen again for me as quickly, or at all, but that is out of my hands.

My mom and I have talked about abortion often. She knows my stance, and she sometimes reminds me that I did not feel this way as a teenager or college student. I was fine with abortion, but I also feel people change.  I didn’t know then what I know now.  I had never heard a heartbeat or had seen a sonogram.  I hope one day abortions become illegal again.  I know that is  a controversial statement, but that is the beauty of being American. I have the right to    say what I want to say, just as those who oppose me can do the same.

I believe every life is a blessing from God, and I believe every baby is created in the image of Him. To destroy that breaks my heart, especially knowing there are so many families out there who would love to raise a child.

Ecclesiastes 11:5

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Hello, President Trump

gop

I’m waking up this morning to the news that Donald Trump will be our new president.  Although our country is completed divided on this announcement, I am actually relieved to hear this.  I voted for Donald Trump.

The truth is I was never sold on Trump as a person. I still have my own personal reservations with him; however, I decided to vote for the candidate who was most aligned with my values and ultimately against the Clinton Administration.

I’ve heard many times that we should separate church and state.  As a Christian, I disagree. I will always put Him first in all my decisions including who to vote for as my Commander in Chief. When I was 18, I went with my Government class to the local voting precinct to register.  Our teacher had spent months teaching us of the various stances of each party that would prepare us to make a decision on which party to affiliate ourselves.  The Republican Party resonated with me most.  I was and still am pro-life, a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, a believer in a strong military, a proponent of small business, etc. I could go in detail about why I feel the way I feel about each of these stances, but that is not why I’m writing this.  What is needed to know is these are my values and beliefs, and they line up perfectly with conservatism.  So, that day in my government class, I registered as a Republican and never looked back.

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Maddox’s 2016 Halloween Costume
“Third Party Candidate Nominee”
He was endorsed quite a bit that night.

I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 nor 2012.  I didn’t think he was a bad guy (still don’t). I just didn’t vote at all in 2008, and in 2012, I liked Romney better, but these last eight years, I’ve seen our country go down-economically and morally. Being a military spouse, I started to fear ISIS more than just an average American.  We would hear about attacks on Americans or a possible threats on the military base where my husband worked.  We were told families of military were getting targeted and to change our social media names, don’t post any pictures military related, and even possibly take down our American flags that hung outside our homes so that we didn’t bring attention to ourselves.

Aside from possible terrorism attacks, I would speak to my father about the rising cost of Obamacare that he didn’t even want, but was forced to have.  I watched our country start getting more racially divided.  There was an increase in mass shootings, while trustworthy Americans were being threatened that their 2nd Amendment right was going to be taken away. The influx of illegal immigrants was beginning to get out of hand. I believe that with a Clinton Administration, these things would only not get better, they would actually get worse.

I need to be able to trust my President, and I do not trust Hillary Clinton.  I do not need nor desire to get into the various reasons I find her untrustworthy. I honestly feel it is a bit of a rhetorical statement, since much of America feels the same way I do. I do not like her plans for our country.  Those who work hard should reap the benefits and not be forced to pay for those who chose a different path. Looking at how I feel about her character, and then following my own personal values, I knew I was going to stick with the Republican nominee.

I’m nervous about Trump. He runs at the mouth, is arrogant, and a bit of a loose canon, but I’m still willing to take my chances with him knowing what I would get with Clinton. I like that he’s not a politician.  I am very impressed with Governor Pence, along with some the advisors Trump has. If this is any inkling of the type of decisions he will make while in the White House, I will feel great about my decision to cast my vote for him. I  truly hope Trump does his best to keep his promises.

And…I really like Ivanka!

 

Just Stop!

32 weeks pregnant with Maddox
             32 weeks pregnant with Maddox

“Make sure to do squats.”

“Definitely don’t do squats.”

“Don’t go hungry. Eat plenty.”

“Don’t eat too much. Stay under 35 pounds.”

“Don’t jump too much.”

“Jumping will help that baby come out.”

“Riding a bike is a great cardio workout while pregnant.”

“Riding a bike is the absolute worst thing you can possibly do while pregnant.”

“Everything you can have in moderation, except alcohol. Do not touch it.”

“You can have a glass of wine here and there. It’s fine.”

“Stay out of the sun. You’ll burn easier.”

“Make sure to get some sun. You need that Vitamin D.”

 

Everyone of these statements were said to me throughout my pregnancy by loved ones.  They all meant well in their advice, but to be honest, it got old!  I have no doubt that others have experienced similar statements, probably even more bizarre.

When I first became pregnant, I didn’t want to take any chances with my unborn baby, so I tried to listen to everyone! About halfway through my 2nd trimester, I snapped.  At first, I thought it was one of my crazy hormonal breakdowns.  I had just come home from spending an evening with some girlfriends and began to unwind for the night.  I slipped on my pjs and realized they were now too tight.  I’m not sure if it was the realization that I could no longer fit into even my baggy clothes, or that the pregnancy was quickly nearing the end, and I still had no clue what I was doing, but I just fell to the floor. I cried and cried and cried.  I truly believe that everyone has their breaking point, and this was mine.

My husband was home, and he happened to come into our closet to find me in a fetal position just staring at my too small clothes. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Why was I acting this way?  Like any caring husband (who has no clue why his 7 month pregnant wife is on the floor crying), he sat with me and just listened.  I told him my fears, my concerns, and everything that was on my mind; however, even after talking it out, I couldn’t figure out why I was still so down, and then I simply said, “I’m so sick of listening to everybody.”

My husband said the simplest, yet profound words that changed my entire outlook on the remainder of the pregnancy: Then stop.

And at that moment, I did just that-I stopped. I stopped listening to everyone who wasn’t my doctor, and I began listening to my body.  As long as my Obstetrician gave me the go-ahead, I kept doing what I wanted.

Riding my bike at 34 weeks pregnant.
Riding my bike at 34 weeks pregnant.

I did my best to watch my weight while still eating, for the most part, what I wanted. I went to Zumba several days a week, rode my bike miles (even on a busy highway-gasp), took long walks, and didn’t touch alcohol.

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Enjoying the day at the beach.

And guess what-I never felt better.  I was happy and still smiled when I got the occasional advice, but I just didn’t care anymore.  Every pregnancy is different, and each should be treated as such.  For every article or statistic stating what a woman should do, there is another one rebutting the same “facts.”

So now, the only advice I ever offer is simply this-Listen to your doctor and your body, and enjoy this time in your life.

Mimosas and a Baby Shower

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My milspouse girlfriends celebrating Maddox.

Maybe it was how I was raised. Maybe it is just my personality (maybe both?), but I have never been a huge fan of wedding or baby showers.  I’ve been told countless times, “Micah, it’s not about you. It’s about ______.” Yes, I understand that, and I am completely ecstatic to celebrate in a friend’s happiness, but those couple of hours of celebration are so long…

I’m not sure if it is any one thing specifically, but the mere detail that most showers are very traditional.  Wherever the location (a house, restaurant, etc.), there is usually limited “fancy” food.  Often the items are little bit sized, something or others I can’t pronounce, and if a giant veggie tray takes center stage on the food table, I’m already starting off depressed.  The guests then tend to sit around and socialize with one another.  I don’t mind this part, depending on how close I am with the other guests.  The beautiful bride or mommy-to-be then opens her presents.  Ok, this one is up for debate.  If we can chit chat while she opens her gifts, I’m completely fine watching her and oohing and ahhing when appropriate.  If we end up being silent, while she painstakingly opens each gift and reads each card, then I will slowly start to die inside, but my least favorite part of all…

The games! I despise them. Fill in the missing nursery rhyme. Match the celebrities to their babies. How well do you know the bride? Who can guess closest to the size of her belly?  For a long time, I thought I was the only one who dreaded this part.  Everyone else seemed so into it, but the more I talk about it, the more I find that others don’t care for them as well. I’m sure some still love them, and great for those fortunate ones! Honestly, I wish I was more like you. I’m just not.  So for me, I knew my baby shower couldn’t be completely traditional.

When I got married, I didn’t even want a shower, fearful of it falling into the traditional category, but my husband insisted.  We ended up having a couples’ shower during the Florida vs. Florida State football game. The shower was football/tailgate themed. Guests wore their team colors, and the food was phenomenal.  We opened gifts in a very casual way.  Our 40 guests moved about and chatted with one another, and the only game we had was the one on TV! Also, there were drinks-lots of drinks! It was perfect for me!

However, a baby shower is a bit different.  It would be just the girls, but I am very fortunate to have close friends who offered to throw it and are not exactly traditional either.  It ended up being wonderful!

It took place at one of my hostess’ beach house in Fripp Island-a tightly gated community.  It was brunch styled and the food suited that well-no veggie tray!  The brunch started off with lots of mimosas (8 Champagne bottles worth), and just as I suspected, they were completely gone within 2 hours.  A friend of mine who lives in another state said to me, “I don’t think I would want drinking at my baby shower. I wouldn’t be able to drink, so I don’t want others drinking.” My response, “Why!?!” I want people to have a good time, and seeing others happy and socializing is wonderful! I didn’t have a desire to drink.

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Socializing and enjoying one another.

The music was blasting through the house, and people were moving about meeting others and catching up with friends.  When I opened presents, the music remained loud, the guests continued talking, and drinks continued pouring. There was nothing awkward about it.

The best part? No games!  In addition, two guests mentioned they would usually skip showers, but they had heard that I didn’t want games, so they decided to come!

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The shower lasted about 3 hours and a few of the girls    stayed to hang out by the pool afterward.   I had several guests tell me it, as well as the hostesses, that it was the best baby shower they had ever attended. I could not have asked for a better baby shower.

Again, I am not trying to criticize those that love tradition. Quite honestly, I feel I am in the minority, but to simply acknowledge that not everyone is the same.  I love things that are different and fun. My style may not be the same as yours, but take my advice, Mimosas help!

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Results of Mimosas. Lots of Mimosas.

Handle It

A few snapshots from our ultrasound at MUSC.
A few snapshots from our ultrasound at MUSC.

Yesterday, my alarm was set for 5:45.  I don’t know why I even bothered setting it because I wasn’t going to be able to rest fully through the night. I began waking at 4:00 am and finally got up at 5:30 as my husband continued sleeping peacefully for another 15 minutes.  Once we were both up and moving, we quickly got ready, and we hit the road headed to Charleston for our 8:30 appointment.

I thought I may be a basket of nerves, but honestly, I was at a peace.  I was trusting God to heal this baby, and there was nothing more I could do. We signed in and were called back within a few minutes.  The ultrasound technician came in-a cute, little blonde with a massive smile. She looked like she had just come out of technical school, but there was something about her that was very comforting.  She began the ultrasound, and we were able to see this little guy up close and personal.

The first priority was to check out this heart.  The arrhythmia was still there, but his heart valves, fluid, development, etc all looked perfectly healthy. We learned this baby of ours was in the 75th percentile for weight, growing 2.5 weeks ahead of scheduled and weighing in at 3.10 oz. I’m growing a linebacker!

We then shifted to a 4D ultrasound. Something that I had not experienced before since the average pregnancy usually doesn’t get this added step.  It was pretty awe-inspiring, and we even saw him yawn. I guess he takes after his daddy, getting bored when he’s by himself.  An hour later, the ultrasound ended, and she gave us a printout of a handful of the better pictures. She left the room to deliver the test results to the doctor, and we waited.

Jesse and I chatted and snapped pictures to pass the time, and about 20 minutes later, the doctor and a young, medical student came in to give us our results.  They both put on hand sanitize, and the doctor sat down, while the young student stood right behind him. He clearly took the part of shadowing literally.  The doctor looked at me and stated,  “It is a fetal arrhythmia.” We knew that. Give me more.  He went on to say, for the most part, doctors consider it a “benign” symptom and most likely to go away on its own, possibly 1-2 days after birth.  The biggest concern is to monitor his heart rate with my own doctor and make sure that the heart rate doesn’t drop too low or go too high.  If that happens, I would have to head back over to MUSC for further care and medication.

I did, however, have to do my due diligence. I had to cut caffeine completely out.  Since my last doctor’s appointment, Jesse had already done some research and noticed that caffeine could be linked to arrhythmias, so I hadn’t consumed coffee or tea for almost a week. I told the doctor this information with confidence, and then he countered me, “What about chocolate?”

Yep! Got me. I eat chocolate. Everyday. Every.Single.Day.  Not only did I need to cut it out, but I especially needed to stay away from dark chocolate-my favorite!  Ok, I can do this.  No coffee, tea, or chocolate. Check!

“Do you use cocoa butter lotion for prevention of stretch marks?”

I paused for a minute, hoping I was dreaming. “Yes, everyday since the moment I found out I was pregnant.”

“Toss it out. Find an alternative.”

It would have never crossed my mind that my cocoa butter lotion, with an image of a pregnant woman on the label, would have caffeine.  Here I am rubbing it all over myself. “Ok,” was my only response.

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Maddox Vann experiencing his first 4D ultrasound.

In addition to cutting out these vices of mine that I loved so, I would need to continue seeing my doctor every week until the arrhythmia was either gone, or until it was time to deliver.  Although, not a perfectly ideal situation, I can handle it. We’ve been very blessed so far with a smooth pregnancy, and if I’m being honest with myself, cutting out coffee, tea, and chocolate is probably a good thing. Hey, my teeth should even get whiter!

As I sit here typing this, Maddox is moving all over the place, and I can see my stomach bulging out in various locations. I know that I’m not doing this for me. It’s not a diet, a cleanse, or vanity related. I am doing this to benefit the health of my unborn son, and for him, I can handle it!

Letting Go

Maddox Vann
                                 Maddox Vann

There is quite a bit going on in my life at the moment, and instead of trying to tell my husband every little detail, or going crazy keeping it cooped up in my head, I decided to put my thoughts in words.

To begin, I am 29 weeks pregnant with my first child-a boy. Everything has gone really well: weight in check, baby’s growth on track, measurements perfect, etc.  A perfectly smooth pregnancy up until last week.  I was scheduled for just a random check up. My husband, Jesse, goes to most of the appointments with me, but on this particular day, I told him to just go to work. There was nothing eventful scheduled. It ended up the appointment that changed the meaning of “don’t take things for granted.”

The doctor listened to the baby’s heart rate. I expected the same cute, little rapid beats that I’ve become accustomed to hearing, but this time, it was different. At first, the beats sounded normal, then a louder beat, quick silence, and back to the beats.  My doctor, bless her heart, does not have a poker face, and her scrunched nose, wrinkled forehead, side mouth, and head tilt gave away that this was not normal. “What was that?” I quickly asked.  Tears already beginning to fill my eyes.  She didn’t answer me at first. Just listened. I heard that loud beat again. Silence.

“It sounds like your baby has an arrhythmia.”

I didn’t even know what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.  “We are going to get you over to ultrasound right now for a better look.” I couldn’t hold back the tears now. They were streaming down my face as she handed me the tissues.  We quickly exited the room, and she escorted me down the back hallway into the ultrasound room. In that room, which originally I cried tears of joy from confirmation I was going to be a mommy, I now cried tears of sadness to hear that something was wrong.

The technician told me that Maddox’s heart would beat 15-20 times and then “drop.” After a few more tears and quick pep talk from the technician, I was sent back to the exam room to see my doctor.  After several text message exchanges with my mom, and a dozen or so tissues soaked, the doctor came back in and confirmed that the baby did have a fetal arrhythmia.  “I’m sending you to MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) in Charleston. They will do a fetal echo and take some better looks at his heart.”

She tried to reassure me that many times, arrhythmias heal on their own. She then said those words that doctors have to say, “Try your best not to worry.”

It was with those words that I left the doctor’s office and headed to meet my husband to tell him the news.  Of all the doctor’s appointments I told him to not come to…

So now, we wait until we go to MUSC.  I am a woman of God, and I have faith that everything will be fine. I prayed, Jesse prayed, my mom and dad prayed, and now I just wait.  I am not worrying anymore.  I truly believe in “Let go, and let God.” So as far as my worrying, I’m letting go.