The Birth of Knox

I am so excited to announce that Knox Marshall Berry made his grand entrance into this world on Friday, February 24th at 4:59 pm! He is the cutest, chunkiest little guy and everyone is doing well! ❤

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On February 23 I had gone in for my 40 week appointment and had high blood pressure so it was decided that we would induce the next day. I was very nervous about an induction as I knew that my body was not showing any signs of being ready for delivery. I was only dilated to a 1 and 50% effaced so I was afraid that the induction process would be long and difficult. We checked into the hospital Thursday evening and tried Cervadil to ripen my cervix overnight but saw no change from that so that was also discouraging! But thankfully when we started the official induction on Friday my body responded well to just a small amount of pitocin which dilated me to a 3 in just a few hours, my doctor broke my water and after that things progressed very quickly! It wasn’t long before it was time to push!

Doctors and nurses thought the pushing would be quick and easy with this being my third baby but Knox had other ideas. This little guy had a big head and broad shoulders and we also think he was posterier for most of the labor which made pushing him out a long, tiring process. Once his head finally came out one of his shoulders got stuck under my pubic bone which created a very scary scenario. He was only stuck for about 50 seconds but it seemed like forever! With the help of the vacuum, a nurse, and some intense pushing, I finally got him out! When he was born he was rushed off to the NICU due to the difficult delivery.

Thankfully Knox just spent one night in the NICU and was released to his mommy and daddy’s room the next day. He was a little champ and was doing great! I rested and recovered in my room and the hospital gave Ben and Kristen their own room nearby with Knox. It was perfect!

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First picture with Mommy and Daddy. ❤

The kids were able to come to the hospital to see Knox on Saturday and that was such a great experience for them. They LOVED seeing him and it really helped them to understand the situation when they saw him with his mom and dad.

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The whole crew minus Knox’s big brother Blake.
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We joked that we headed home from the hospital with three of the world’s biggest babies. Ha! =)
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Holding Knox for the first time. He’s such a doll baby!! Look at that perfect little face!
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Me and Kristen. ❤

Knox and I were both released from the hospital on Sunday and I got to go home to my sweet babies and the Berry’s traveled home to their home state with their sweet baby.

So far I have been doing really well emotionally processing the surrogacy. I did a really good job of separating myself emotionally from Knox during the pregnancy. The mind is a powerful thing and I really worked the whole pregnancy to remember this was not my baby and I would not be coming home with a baby! When I held Knox in the hospital I really felt like I had just gone to visit a friend’s baby. I didn’t feel any attachment at all. It was amazing really! The kids have been doing really well too; I think we did a good job of preparing them and talking things through with them. They haven’t seemed bothered by it at all – they are just glad to have mommy back to themselves.

I am pumping for Knox and sending the Berry’s my breast milk -which I am so happy about! Because of that, the only thing this whole process had made me miss so far is nursing. I really loved nursing my babies so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about that! =)

Being a surrogate has been an amazing and rewarding experience and I feel so much joy at having helped bring little Knox into this world. ❤

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My favorite picture of all! I love how surrogacy joined our two families together!

Curious About the Surrogacy Process and How it has Affected Me? Read on!

It’s baby month! Well, at least we hope it’s baby month! Hopefully Knox won’t make us wait until March to make his grand entrance. I am now 37 weeks and he’s welcome to come anytime in the next few weeks. =) I had Isaiah at exactly 37 weeks and Olive at almost 41 weeks so we’ll see what little Knox decides to do…maybe somewhere in the middle!?

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37 Weeks!!

I can’t believe that my journey as a surrogate has almost come to an end! It has been an amazing thing to experience and I’ve loved it all! As I near the end of this incredible journey I thought it might be helpful to put together a little FAQ about surrogacy to help you better understand the process and how it has affected me. So… here you go!

SURROGACY FAQ’S

Q. How did you get matched with your Intended Parents?

A. Sometimes a woman becomes a surrogate because a close friend or family member is unable to carry their own children and so she offers to do it for them. Though I had the desire to be a surrogate I personally did not know anyone who needed one so I applied to an agency to be matched. I feel so blessed to have been matched with the intended parents that I did! The agency that I am going through allows each surrogate to make the decision for themselves who they would like to be matched with. When applying, I filled out a form about what type of parents I would be willing to carry for as well as a profile with details about myself. The intended parents did this also. After reviewing each other’s profiles you can choose to meet (usually via skype since most matches are long distance) and see if you feel comfortable with each other and want to move forward or if it doesn’t seem like it would be a good match. My agency was very great during this process and didn’t pressure me at all to match with anyone I didn’t feel comfortable with. I almost matched with a different family before Ben and Kristen and I’m so glad it fell through! I got blessed with really great IP’s!

Q. What kind of relationship do you have with your intended parents?

A. Although we didn’t know Ben and Kristen at all before this process started we have now become friends and I am so thankful we have a close relationship. Surrogates and intended parents all desire different levels of communication and closeness during the process. Some develop amazingly close relationships and some treat the process more as a “business transaction.” I was definitely hoping for a close relationship with my IP’s! I was so grateful to be matched with a great Christian couple who we have a lot in common with! They live in a different state but are not too far away so it has made travel to and from Florida relatively easy. We talk regularly and they have been able to make it to many appointments. They will also, hopefully, be here for Knox’s birth! I love knowing that baby Knox is going to a great home with great parents!

Q. How can you carry a baby for 9 months and then give up “your” baby?

A. This is a pretty easy answer – Knox is not my baby! I’m not genetically related to him in any way and so he was never mine to begin with. Since the very beginning both Drew and I have been very cautious not to bond with this baby. It is a delicate balance because while I’m pregnant I, of course, need to protect and love on this life inside of me yet still remain distant. I think I have done a really good job of that! Honestly, I do not feel sad at all to think about giving Knox to his parents in just a few weeks – this has been the goal all along! I started this journey to help make the dreams of a couple come true by being able to carry a biological child for them when they were unable. I am so excited for Ben and Kristen and the joy that they are going to be experiencing very soon and that is what makes the journey worth it. Also, I do not want a newborn and all the work that comes with one right now so that is very helpful. I am very content in knowing that I am not the one bringing a baby home this time. 😉

Q. Wait, what do you mean it’s not “your” baby? How does another couple’s baby get inside you?

A. Most surrogates get pregnant using IVF. The process and procedures are generally the same for any woman undergoing IVF – weeks of meds, blood draws, injections, ultrasounds, etc – it’s just that when it comes time for the transfer the doctor transfers the intended parents’ embryos and not the surrogates. The embryo transfer itself is a quick and painless procedure in which the IVF doctor uses a small catheter to insert the embryo(s) into your uterus. Some doctors require a few days of moderate bed rest afterwards or some, like mine, actually tell you to get out and walk around to get the blood flowing and increase the chances of a successful transfer. Many women (surrogates or not) undergoing IVF experience many failed transfers and often transfer more than one in hopes of at least one sticking. We were blessed that we only went through one transfer and only transferred one embryo – and it was successful! Baby Knox is on the way!

Q. But won’t Knox think you are his mom?

A. It is true that babies born via a surrogate do not know at birth that the woman carrying them is not their mom, which may result in feelings and struggles similar to those of an adopted child. However, Knox (unlike many adopted children) has the advantage of growing up knowing that his parents went to such extents as using a surrogate to bring him into this world because he was SO wanted and SO loved. I doubt he will have any trouble knowing exactly who is mom is and how much she loves and wants him! ❤

Q. How do you explain surrogacy to your children?

A. Our children have done amazingly well with me being a surrogate. This is the way that we explain it to them in terms that they can understand: We tell them that Ms. Kristen’s tummy is broken and she can’t grow her baby in her own tummy so I offered to keep Mr. Ben and Ms. Kristen’s baby safe in my tummy until he is big enough to go home with his Mommy and Daddy. Of course that’s not quite accurate and is such a simplified version of what surrogacy is but it has made sense to them and they have not questioned it. We talk regularly about how Knox is not their brother and how we would never “give away” our own baby. We are planning on the kids coming to the hospital after Knox is born to see him with his parents to help them understand that he went to be with his loving Mommy and Daddy. We will see what questions arise afterwards but we have been very open and honest the whole time with them and think that the adjustment afterwards will go smoothly.

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask me about surrogacy? E-mail me via FaceBook or at drewamhutch @ gmail.com and I’d LOVE to share more info with you! =)

Surrogacy Bump Date: 35 Weeks!

Oh my! The final countdown has begun! Thirty-five weeks!! This week was extra special because Knox’s Mommy and Daddy and Big Brother got to come down to Florida! They came for my 35 week OB appointment and ultrasound. We got to see sweet little Knox on ultrasound again and everything is looking perfect! He has cute chubby cheeks and even has hair on his head already! He kept pursing his lips together as if he were blowing a little kiss to his Mommy! And, as usual, he was very shy and kept putting his hands up in front of his face. =) Won’t be long now until he’s here!!

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We had such a great visit with Ben, Kristen and Blake! Knox doesn’t know how lucky he is to have such a great family!

 

How far along: 35 weeks

Size of baby: Baby doesn’t have much room to maneuver now that he’s over 18 inches long and about 5 1/2 – 6 pounds. He’s about the size of a honeydew melon. Most of his basic physical development is now complete. He’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

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Stretch marks: None! (Well except for the little tiny one that I got right above my belly button right before Olive was born!)

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: Lots of movement, especially at night once I get the kids down and actually have a few minutes to sit down! That’s when he likes to wake up and play! Ben and Kristen bought me a pair of Belly Buds last month and Knox loves them! I just stick the speakers on my belly and connect them to my phone and Knox listens to messages and songs that his family has recorded for him. I LOVE that he is hearing their voices on a daily basis and hope that it will help him to recognize them when he is born.

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Knox listening to the Belly Buds!

Sleep: Not sleeping the best. Starting to get a little uncomfortable. I’ve started sleeping with a pillow underneath my belly and that seems to help. I have to go to the bathroom multiple times a night so I don’t get many consecutive hours of sleep.

Cravings: No cravings. Boring, I know, but I have never really had cravings in any of my pregnancies.

What I am looking forward to: This week my goal is to get my hospital bag packed and ready to go! Still have a couple of things I need to buy for the hospital and afterwards so working on getting those things checked off my list. Also we’re planning who will watch the kids while we’re in the hospital and working out all those fun details.

Symptoms: Starting to feel my energy drain as I get closer and closer to the finish line. Drew keeps reminding me to “rest not nest” and I really am trying to follow his advice. It’s hard because the nesting instinct comes on strong! Even though I am not preparing to bring a baby home I still have several things around the house that I’d like done before I have the baby. I’ve been able to get several things done but now I can feel my energy and motivation waning as I enter these final weeks.

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35 Weeks!!!

 

A Graduation, Christmas, and a Dog. Warning: This Post Contains Excessive Pictures! =)

Two thousand sixteen ended in a whirlwind and the beginning of 2017 has been just as crazy! Things are finally starting to slow down a bit around here and so I thought I’d update you on what the Hutcheson household has been up to these last few weeks!

Drew graduated from Jacksonville University on December 17 with his MBA! Over 2 years of hard work and perseverance finally paid off and he is DONE!!! Going to grad school with three small children and working full time is not for the faint of heart. It’s been hard but it’s been worth it! We have seen God’s hand of faithfulness to us throughout the journey and it has been an adventurous ride. Not only does Drew now have his Masters but, through a series of events only God could have orchestrated, he’s also already landed his dream job as an Equity Research Associate at Deutsche Bank. God is so good!!!

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Just in case you were wondering Olive is not a red head. She was a pumpkin for Halloween and we spray painted her hair orange and STILL cannot get it to all come out!!!!! =)
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So proud of this man and how hard he works!! ❤

 

The surrogacy is going great! On December 19 I had my 30 week doctor’s appointment and Ben and Kristen were able to come down for the ultrasound! Baby Knox is growing away and looking great! I’ll be 34 weeks this week and can’t believe we are getting so close to the finish line! I am so excited for Knox to join the Berry family!!

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I did tons of baking over the Christmas break. The messiest baking adventure was when the kids and I made Christmas cookies. The kids had a blast.

But cleaning up was not quite as fun. Whose idea was it anyways that making Christmas cookies should be an annual tradition? Dried frosting, cookie crumbles, and sprinkles everywhere. Whew…. I need a nap just thinking about all the cleanup involved.

A few days before Christmas my parents and two little sisters, Janae and Adelynn, came to spend the Holidays with us! They live in Indiana so we don’t get to see them much and it was a real treat. We LOVED spending time with them and had a blast. We packed a lot into their week and a half here and were so sad to see them go!

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These kids love their Meema and Papa!

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Christmas was great except that Livy got sick on Christmas day and threw up 3 times so that was no fun! But we were still able to have a great day and she was better by the next day, thankfully.

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I spy a present that we couldn’t wrap…. Yes, the dog is a Christmas present! (More on that below)
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Each year on Christmas Eve the kids get to open up two presents. One is new Christmas jammies and the other is a new book with their name on it!
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Our Christmas morning tradition is that, before we open up any presents, we read the Christmas story, light candles and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus! It helps the kids (and us) remember why we are celebrating!

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My favorite Christmas gift – a deep freezer!! My husband is an AWESOME gift giver. ❤

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Poor, sick girl couldn’t even make it through opening up all her presents before she needed a nap.

Speaking of presents, the kids got an exciting Christmas present this year. We got our first dog! Meet Cheza! Cheza is a two year old Double Doodle (mix of a Labradoodle and a Goldendoodle). “Cheza” is the Swahili word for “play” and he definitely lives up to his name. He is the perfect addition to our family and fits right in with our crazy kids. He is a very good and obedient dog and plays great with the kids. I have been putting off getting a dog for a long time because of the extra work involved… despite the pleas of my husband and children! But I finally gave in and am so grateful that Cheza is such a great fit for our family.

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Why yes this is Cheza dressed up in some of Drew’s clothes. Sorry, boy, you have joined a crazy family!

Well I think that about sums up our life these past few weeks! We saw the Lord’s hand of faithfulness throughout the ups and downs of 2016 and we look forward to watching Him at work in 2017. To HIM be the glory!!!

The Third Trimester and a 3 Hr Glucose Test – Surrogacy Bump Date: 28 Weeks!

Hello third trimester!! It feels so good to be here! The third trimester brings a lot of great things like…. the birth of baby Knox! However the third trimester also brings some not so great things like a bigger and bigger belly which causes more aches and pains, the return of the tiredness felt in the first trimester, and…. the dreaded 1 hour glucose test.

Some of you may remember that I passed my 1 hour glucose test with Isaiah but failed it with Olive and so had to take the 3 hour. It was a terrible experience which you can read more about here. I ended up passing my 3 hour test with Olive but I really did not want to repeat that experience again so was hoping to pass the 1 hour again this time. No such luck. I failed it again and had to take the 3 hour. Thankfully this time I had a much better experience! Although it wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, I didn’t get as shaky and nauseous as I did last time and I didn’t feel like throwing up or passing out. I was actually pretty comfortable (albeit hungry from fasting for 12 hours) …. which then led me to worry that I was going to fail the 3 hour this time because I didn’t feel as bad as I did last time! =) However, I did pass my 3 hour – with flying colors! You are allowed to fail one of the blood draws and still pass the overall test however I not only passed all 4 draws but passed them with levels on the low end of normal so not even a tiny bit of concern of gestational diabetes! Wahoo!!

How far along: 28 weeks

Size of baby: By this week, baby weighs about 2 1/4 pounds (about the size of a large eggplant) and measures about 14.8 inches from the top of his head to his heels.

 

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Stretch marks: None yet! I didn’t get any with my previous pregnancies so hoping it stays that way! =)

Morning Sickness: All gone! Feeling great now!!

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: ALL THE TIME. This little boy is seriously going to be some kind of athlete. Oh and by the way, he LOVED that sugary glucose drink I had to drink for my glucose test. He was kicking and punching away for the whole 4 hours!!

Sleep: Not getting much deep sleep as I’m either waking up to go to the bathroom or to try and get comfy. Having three children has taught me how to get by just fine on not the best night’s sleep so it’s all good. =)

Cravings: Pretty much anything sounds good as long as it’s in small portions! Knox is squishing and squeezing everything in there, leaving little room for my stomach to expand so I have to eat little meals at a time. 😉 Also big meals or meals late at night give me terrible indigestion so trying to avoid that too!

What I am looking forward to: Ben and Kristen are coming down for our next ultrasound in December! We are so excited!! We are looking forward to seeing the little guy again and also getting a hospital tour and making sure everything is all set to go for delivery!

Symptoms: Sciatic nerve pain has been a little better this week. I can feel myself wearing out more easily as I enter the third trimester though I can’t complain because I still have lots of energy and motivation so far! Thankfully still feeling good!

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28 Weeks!! Third Trimester!

Surrogacy Bump Date: 25 Weeks!

Twenty five weeks down!! Wahoo! Time flies when you’re having fun…can’t believe I am 25 weeks already! Time is about to fly even faster too with the holidays coming up. Before we know it, it will be January and we’ll be able to say next month is baby month!

I celebrated my 30th birthday on November 5th… can’t believe I am in the 30’s club now. Thirty used to sound so old but now I think it’s really quite young. 😉 I can’t think of anything I’d rather do in my first year of my 30’s than help bring little Knox into the world for the Berry family. Surrogacy has been an amazing journey and I have loved every step!

How far along: 25 weeks

Size of baby: Head to heels, baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches and weighs about 1 1/2 pounds.

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Stretch marks: None yet! I didn’t get any with my previous pregnancies so hoping it stays that way! =)

Morning Sickness: All gone! Feeling great now!!

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: Knox loves to move! He is most active in the morning right when I wake up and then in the evening when life starts to settle down around here again. He kicks/punches me on both the right and left sides of my belly at the same time so I was thinking he was still laying sideways but at our last ultrasound he was head down already. So the jabs I feel on either side must be his elbows or hands. We thought he was going to be a soccer player but maybe he’s going to be a boxer. 😉 Either way I love feeling him move and be so active in there!

Sleep: Have I ever mentioned how much I love master bathrooms?!?!? Golly gee, I have to frequent ours several times in the middle of the night these days and I am very glad it is attached to our bedroom. =) Other than waking several times a night to pee I am sleeping well!

Cravings: Not really any cravings… Lately I’ve been obsessed with cheese and crackers and apples and peanut butter but it’s not really a craving, just what has been sounding good for lunch. =)

Symptoms: Still feeling good with lots of energy. I am having some sciatic nerve pain in the lower left hand side of my back. With each pregnancy it seems to start up earlier and earlier. I’ve had it a few times already in this pregnancy but this week has been the worst so far. Stretching and rest help but I’ve found it’s just something I have to deal with in pregnancy! It will all be worth it. =)

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25 weeks!

Surrogacy Bumpdate: 21 Weeks!

As of yesterday I am 21 weeks! We are now officially closer to the end than the beginning! Wahoo! I love getting closer and closer to Baby Knox joining the Berry family – I’m just so excited for them!

How far along: 21 weeks

Size of baby: Baby Knox now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long – about the length of a carrot.

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Stretch marks: None yet!

Morning Sickness: All gone! Feeling great now!!

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: I feel more and more movement each day. You can now see and feel Baby Knox’s kicks from the outside which is fun! He’s a little soccer player!

Sleep: Not able to sleep in (not that my kids give me the option anyways!) and I wake up a couple times to go to the bathroom but can’t complain yet. Still sleeping well for now!

Cravings: No cravings really. I didn’t really crave much with my first two pregnancies either though so I’m not surprised. I did want more sweet things in the beginning with Olive and more salty/carby things with Isaiah and now Knox but after that first trimester passes and I start to feel better it’s usually just back to normal eating for me!

Symptoms: Just cruising along in the second trimester. No big belly yet to get in the way and I’ve got so much energy. Loving it!!

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21 Weeks!

Surrogacy Update: It’s a…!

I can’t believe I’m 20 weeks today! Half way there! Wahoo!

Last week Ben and Kristen came down for our 19 week ultrasound and we were able to find out the gender of Baby Berry!

Can you guess what it is?

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IT’S A BOY!!!!

 

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Ben and Kristen have named the baby Knox which I think is the most adorable name ever. I am so thrilled for Baby Knox to join Ben and Kristen’s family in February! He has the sweetest big brother waiting for him at home and all 4 of them are going to make the cutest family. Please pray with us for a healthy baby and a smooth rest of this pregnancy! February is going to be here before we know it! ❤

2016 Family Pictures

We had the privilege of working with sweet Madeline from Infinite Focus Photography to get our family pictures done this year! Madeline’s daughter was in Isaiah’s VPK class last year so we got to know her through that. She did a great job and had so much patience!

The kids did so well this year (read: last year they did NOT).  They were all in good moods, well behaved, and actually smiled! It was a miracle!! (It might have had something to do with the promise of milkshakes afterwards if they behaved….milkshakes can solve anything.)

We decided when we first had Isaiah to get family photos done each year. Sometimes it can be stressful and some years the kids aren’t in good moods and sometimes the photos just don’t turn out how I had hoped! But I try not to stress too much about everything being perfect… if they don’t turn out one year I know we’ll be getting more done the next. And no matter how the photos turn out I never regret it! Because you can’t ever go back and get those memories again! The kids are only getting older and changing so quickly! Sure I take lots of photos on my iPhone but there’s just something about professional photos. I love having them and looking back on them over the years! ❤

So, without further ado…. our 2016 family photos!

 

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Surrogacy Bump Date: 18 Weeks

Wahoo! We are cruising right along! 18 weeks today! Baby Berry is growing and growing and we are thankful for a healthy and uneventful pregnancy so far!

How far along: 18 weeks

Size of baby: Head to rump, baby is about 5 1/2 inches long, and weighs almost 7 ounces (about the size of a sweet potato).

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Stretch marks: None yet!

Morning Sickness: I stopped wearing my sea bands about a week ago and and am feeling pretty good without them! Still on Diclegis but am hoping to stop that soon too. It feels good to be feeling better and have more energy now!

Gender: We don’t know yet! =) Ben and Kristen are coming down for our 19 week ultrasound next week where we will (if baby cooperates) be able to find out if Baby Berry is a boy or a girl!

Movement: I am feeling lots of wiggles and kicks. I haven’t been able to feel them from the outside yet but probably will be able to soon!

Sleep: Sleeping pretty well for now! I usually struggle with mild insomnia when I’m pregnant but the Diclegis makes me sleepy so for now I am sleeping well. We’ll see how it goes when I go off of it!

Cravings: No notable cravings right now. Just feeling pretty normal and enjoying the fact that I can eat normally again and not feel nauseous all day!

What I am looking forward to: Ben and Kristen are coming down next week for our 19 week appointment where we will have the anatomy scan ultrasound. Hoping and praying all looks good with baby! I’m looking forward to seeing them and the ultrasound!!

Symptoms: My belly is starting to pop out more and more! I’m still wearing regular clothes and my belly is still hidden underneath most things that I wear. But it won’t be long before I have to pull out the maternity clothes I’m sure!

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18 Weeks!