Monday, May 30, 2016

..........And Bless Baby Braylen

Throughout our journey from Faith to Fertility we knew undoubtedly people were praying for us. We knew that people were calling the names of Jarrett and Deronda in their prayers and on days when we were too weak to pray, we felt the prayers of the righteous and we saw them avail and manifest into something greater. 

Sunday after Sunday the altar at our church, Hopewell AME Church in Hemingway, SC, becomes full with parishioners desiring prayer, interceding for others and simply coming to lay their burdens down. This particular Sunday was no different except the wonderful experience took place before the the altar was open for prayer. In fact it happened during the Children's Sermon. As usual our Children's Sermon Messenger gave an inspiring message to about 20 youth standing at the altar with her. I love how every Sunday she ties in a treat with her sermon and offers the most amount of treats to the youth that closes the sermon with their own prayer. I believe the incentive for this sermon was an entire bag of Dum Dum lollipops.  The hands of all of the children began waving in the air when she asked who wanted to pray. And here is when my soul got happy. After selecting the young girl to pray and her requesting us to bow our heads I heard one of the most sincerest prayers. This sweet child prayed for her family, her sisters, her church family and then I heard this, "Father bless our Pastor Washington, First Lady Washington, and bless Baby Braylen and cover them in your blood and keep them safe! Amen!"  I was literally moved to tears because out of the mouths of babes this young girl prayed for our sweet baby who she had not met yet.

I wasn't surprised at her prayer because this is the same sweet girl who hugs me every Sunday and waves at my belly saying "Hey Braylen!" From this Sunday forward I noticed that the children of our church prayed and called Baby Braylen by name in their prayers. I laugh because sometimes they forget about pastor, me or their families but they never forget about Baby Braylen. For that, I am extremely grateful.

Ironically, either a few Sundays before or after we discussed having Childlike Faith in our Church School lesson. During our journey I asked God for that child-like faith. Children are almost always specific when they pray. They believe! It is that simple. So Jarrett and I never stopped believing! We have daily discussions of what we desire Baby Braylen to be and we ask God in our prayers to let it be so. 

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood many people have lost the art of asking. Perhaps it seems presumptuous, selfish or a waste of time. Whatever the reason, God is not offended when we ask in childlike faith. Some of the most sincerest prayers I've heard comes out of the mouths of babes. I once heard a child pray, "Dear God, it must be super hard to love all the people in the world, especially my sister. I don't know how You do it."  Talk about laughter. Some were serious like, "Dear God, mommy says my granny has Old Timers (Alzheimer's) disease and she may not remember me or certain things soon. God I love my grandmother but will you always help her to remember how much I love her?"

Whether the prayers of children have greater impact or not, they have a direct line with the Father, and they ask without qualifying their petitions. We need to pay attention. We too often allow our doubts to seep into our prayers. Not kids.

I am forever grateful for everyone especially the children who have added "..............and bless Baby Braylen"  to their prayers.



Song: Mississippi Children's Choir: I'm Blessed 
https://youtu.be/bCSE9XKBXIk

Saturday, May 21, 2016

This Guy Is Gonna Be A Daddy

I've never seen him change a diaper. I've never seen him feed a baby. I've never even seen him rock a baby to sleep but I know my husband is going to be an amazing dad. From the time I told him I was expecting our first child until now, I've seen my husband morph into a totally different person. After I told him I was pregnant one of the first words he uttered was, "I am going to be a daddy!"  The sound of those words made me bite my bottom lip to keep from crying. I instantly corrected him and said, "You are going to be an amazing dad!"

During the course of our journey I've seen lots of ups and downs but the blessings of the ups outweighed the downs. I was ever so happy that he never missed any of my doctor appointments whether it be in person or through FaceTime. The joy on his face with every ultrasound or hearing of her heartbeat is indescribable.

On the evening of February 18, 2016, the day our niece was born I saw a totally different side of my husband. When we got the news our niece made her grand entrance into the world, my husband jumped up as if he was a fireman hearing a siren and started yelling, "Let's go!! My niece is here!!! I'm an uncle!!! My brother and sister made me an uncle!!! Yes God!!!! Deronda let's go!!!!!!"  He drove to the hospital I'm sure not obeying the speed limits to visit our new family. When his brother came out to talk to us and tell us about the birthing experience my husband listened intently and with so much excitement.  It was reassuring watching their interactions. He began dreaming and declaring how he wanted our daughters to grow up as bestfriends and cousins and how much fun he and his brother would have raising their children together.  A few months later I saw the excitement he had in planning a small 3rd birthday party for our our Godson CJ. He left no stone unturned and got so much satisfaction when all went well.

One of his many prayers throughout our fertility journey was that we would be able to raise our children to be close in age with family and friends. Boy did God hear him and answer those prayers. He blessed us with a niece on February 18, 2016, a nephew through our bestfriends on March 30, 2016, Baby Braylen is slated to arrive July 2016 and another of his childhood friend's wife is due in November! I can't wait to capture a picture of all of them with their children.

I never knew what type of dad my husband was going to be until I saw the love and energy he put into preparing for our baby girl's arrival. Dressed in his "This Guy Is Gonna Be a Daddy" tee and up early on his 'day off', I fell in love all over again with a man who loved his unborn daughter so much. My husband was never a handy man. In fact, he'd rather pay someone to to do the repairs and handy work around the house. (I don't blame him lol) However, this man got so much joy in putting her crib together with his bestfriend and he single-handedly assembled her dressers and chest of drawers, changed her air vent covers and just worked hard to ensure all of her needs were met. During his "Bob the Builder" escapades I could hear him mumble, "Braylen, daddy isn't taking any shortcuts putting these together. This has to be put together right!"

For years my husband has been a father to many in his congregations attending their basketball games, awards ceremonies, graduations, soccer games and even court hearings but this time it's different. "This Guy is Going to be a Daddy" to a little girl who he prayed for and waited for. I'm 100% sure she is already loves him too because she leaps in my belly every time she hears his boisterous voice preach or talk to her. I love how everyone also sees how much of an amazing dad he is going to be.

Jarrett Britton Washington, is going to be a daddy...An Amazing Daddy! I never knew how much I loved Braylen's father until I saw how much he already loves her!


Jarrett building her chest of drawers


Jarrett and Clinton putting her crib together




Scripture: Psalm 127 3-5
Song: Daddy by Beyonce: Click here to Listen

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May I Add You To My Prayer Wall?



"May I add you to my prayer wall?"  Those are words that I've spoken a lot in the last 6 months. These words were said to women who were desirous of children and were having difficulty expanding their families. Some were hoping and praying for natural conceptions, while others were praying their fertility treatments worked. There were a few that desired their foster parent status changed to full adoptive parent status. There were also a few praying for God to bless them to start the direct adoption process. Whatever their desire, I wanted to add them to my prayer wall. 

If you recall this is the same prayer wall in our prayer room that my husband and I went to during various parts of our day either together or separately to sit, kneel or lay prostrate and simply speak to God. This room was also designated as the room of our unborn child.  This was the same prayer room that housed the prayer wall we went to every time we had a failed fertility treatment or received bad news from the doctor, yet still this was the same room we praised and thank God in for our unborn child. My husband and I are both convinced that this room was where God met us and our miracle was created. 

To this day we aren't sure of how many people prayed for us during the time we were desiring a child but we are appreciative those prayers sent up to Him were answered. For this and so many other reasons we continue to pray for those who are on their journey from Faith to Fertility.  Why do I specifically pray for those who are still on the journey?  I feel it is my responsibility to intercede on their behalf because I remember the times I was so broken that I could not pray so I know someone had to have been praying for my husband and me. Even after we conceived, we were in constant prayer that all would be well. We prayed against Down's Syndrome, heart abnormalities, and all other things associated with an "After Age 35" pregnancy.

I don't care whether it's morning, noon or night, I get so happy when someone whom I've been praying for calls, texts, emails or posts on social media that the prayers that I've been praying is answered. I love posting on social media the status, "Another Prayer Answered!! #faithToFertility". 

We were riding home from church one Sunday afternoon and I showed my husband a Facebook status that one of the angels on our prayer wall received her blessing. She and her husband were blessed with a beautiful baby girl through adoption. He looked at me and said, "Wow, your prayers are really being answered for your fertility friends! Praise God!"  I sat quietly in the car almost brought to tears by simply thanking God for their blessings. Then I thought about the prayers I prayed for others even when I was feeling empty and barren and God still heard my liquid prayers (tears) that went up. I remember crying out to God saying, "God if you just do it for them I know you can do it for me!"  At that instant I realized I started saying, "God you did it for me!! Now can you do it for __________________?!? (inserting the names of those on my wall)  I prayed for their husbands as I know what it was like to see my husband go through this process with me! 

Eight simple words.................. "May I add you to my prayer wall?"  My post today is not to boast in the power of my prayer life. It is simply a testimony of the fact that God is answering prayers of those who I've prayed for.  It is also to give hope to those who are still waiting on God to answer their prayers. 

"May I add you to my prayer wall?"





Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:27

Song:  I'm Praying For You by William Murphy  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1laNuIF_AGY



Friday, May 13, 2016

"Specialing" My Doctor



I'm blessed with the most amazing OBGYN ever. It's not because we are both members of the same sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. nor is it because we have mutual ties in the Charleston community. Dr. Kenosha Gleaton became my doctor in 2012 shortly after my primary care physician, Dr. Betty Obong passed away. It was almost as if God led me directly to her. I was in need of a new doctor and my friend gave a glowing reference for her and that's all I needed to hear.

Dr. Gleaton has been a major part of our Faith to Fertility journey. She always encouraged me reminding me that we were citizens of a different kingdom. As a doctor she had to give me all of the medical information I needed, however she would often tell me that spiritually God could  and would do supernatural things. She encouraged me to read the book, "You Shall Not Be Barren" and to declare that my husband and I would one day be parents. There is just something about having a doctor who believes in Christ and His promises. It's even more awesome knowing your doctor prays with and for you. This definitely was a great start to our "Christ-Centered Covenant" pregnancy. 

When we found out we were pregnant, Dr. Gleaton was over the moon with excitement. I believe she was elated because God had truly answered her prayers for Jarrett and me. The first appointment with Dr. Gleaton was amazing. The staff was awesome. It was everything I wanted and more. With every appointment brought tears of joy, excitement and just an overall sense of being grateful. Dr. Gleaton was always smiling and cheerful and just an all around earth angel. 

After speaking with friends who have had babies, they explained to me that during delivery unless your doctor is working or on call you may have another physician delivery your baby. I honestly didn't know how I felt about this. Is there a chance "Dr. G" wouldn't be there for one of my most important days ever?  I mentioned it to her nurse and she reassured me that Dr. Gleaton wouldn't miss out on this event. She said she may even come too. lol. She explained how doctors "special" their patients and no matter what happens they will be there.  In my research on the internet, I read on a mommy board how patients give their doctors gifts in advance if the baby is due during the Holidays to ensure they will be there for delivery as well as to say thank you.

I had the genius idea that I should SPECIAL my doctor and ensure she's there for Baby Braylen's delivery. I purchased her a SuperWoman shirt and thanked her for being so SPECIALSWEET, SUPERB, SPIRITUAL and SCHOLASTIC when it came to my health care. She was so shocked when she opened her gift. She immediately told me that her son had a matching onesie and she would be sure to take a picture of the two of them in their matching Superhero shirts.  She also reassured me that she would be there for the delivery, God's will. 

I'm forever grateful for Dr. Gleaton for being such an amazing doctor and a sweet friend. I am so excited to have Dr. Gleaton in our life as well as knowing that our baby is in good hands as she comes into this world. 


Dr. Gleaton pictured with her son.

Resources:

Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Address: 2145 Henry Tecklenburg Dr #270, Charleston, SC 29414
Phone:(843) 789-1800

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yoga and My Fertility Journey


I've briefly discussed several times in my blog about how yoga played a part in my fertility journey. Almost a year ago I joined classes at Yoga Den and Core Studio with my now dear friend Jaclyn Vanderhoof.  Originally I joined to help with my lower back pain issues but I soon realized these classes were far more helpful in my journey of faith to fertility.

Besides being able to become more flexible and gain more lower back strength I began to focus on my meditation, my prayers to God in a quiet place and gain focus on the important things in life. Through guided meditations and practices I was able allow my body to become more focused on what it needed without distractions, clouded thoughts or focusing on why we weren't pregnant yet.

I remember after the first few practices I didn't feel like I was doing anything right. My tree poses were looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and it was so hard for me to fully relax during savasana. My yoga practices needed to become intentional.  I heard Jaclyn always say, "Set your intentions for the class" but I realized I was never really setting intentions. I was focusing on the poses and how long my eyes could stay fixated on the small dot on the wall I created to focus. During my 6 am Vinyasa class I was focusing on making sure my chaturangas and my cobras were in form I had no intentions.

Then it hit me. I was losing focus not only in Yoga practice but along this journey. I was praying. I was seeking God. However, I was not getting into a quiet place to really hear everything He was saying to me. I began to refocus my energy and thoughts on being in tune with God and hearing His voice. Oh My When I did!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yoga tears! I could hear God speaking to me in each practice.

It was then I realized that I needed to meditate more and not just simply pray. It had to be an intentional incorporation of both in my life.  Some saints will say "Did she stop praying?" No I didn't stop praying, however I used my yoga time and other times to commune with God on another level.

Prayer, in its specific meaning, means to ask or beseech God for something or another. A slightly broader understanding would include any sort of "talking" with God. Most people who pray at all are most familiar with prayer. Table grace, bedtime prayers, crisis pleas, and so on all fall under this definition of the word. Certainly prayer is the best known form of communication with God.

The practice of meditation includes the intent concentration on an object worthy of consideration. Most often, in the church, this would be a particular passage of scripture. (Joshua 1.8 we read, "The book of law shall not depart from your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night.")

I had never meditated before. I was simply thinking that I can go in and clear my mind and start posing. It doesn't happen that way. Meditation involves clearing your mind of all things that needed to be gone and making room for the thoughts that are suppose to stay there.

One day during our guided meditation I felt a peace that overcame me. I was so relaxed and so in a zone that no thoughts were there EXCEPT a spirit of gratitude. I remember crying and thinking how exceptional God was because He kept me and my husband through the entire process. I remember one day my husband telling me how peaceful I was after meditation and yoga. I kept thinking I found a way to "carry everything to God in prayer and meditation."

Yoga may or not be for you but after reading this post my prayer is that you find a way to commune with your higher power on a level.  Find your inner place you are able to retreat with Him or Her where there is no interference, no distractions and nothing hindering you from perfect peace and meditation.


"The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste!"



Resources: 
The Holy Bible

Yoga Den and Core Studio
8600 Dorchester Road, Suite 205
North Charleston, SC 29420
843- 207-YOGA

A Video of me telling my Yoga Instructor Sister/Friend I'm pregnant!
video

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Simple Thoughts on Mother's Day

Every Mother's Day I was elated to celebrate all of the mothers in my life including my own two mothers. Even when it was difficult because God had not yet answered my prayers, I still found joy in celebrating and showering others with love.

Last Mother's Day, only 23 days after we received results of our 2nd failed IUI, I woke up to a cheerful husband who had laid out gifts for me. It was difficult to even open because I knew what it was and it was a reminder that I still was not a mommy. I opened the gift with teary eyes and read the card and the last sentenced made me cry harder but with joy in my heart. The last words prophetically said... "This is yet another Faith Gift on our journey.....you will be a mom next year.. Let's believe together!" Inside the gift box were a gift for our unborn child and a quirky book about parenting that made me laugh and smile.

This Mother's Day I celebrate all mothers still on the journey. 
I celebrate mothers whose arms are still empty. 
I celebrate mothers who didn't complete the journey to being called mom but they answer to auntie, Godmother or friend. 
I celebrate those who are first time moms this holiday.
I celebrate those who like me never gave up and are carrying their child this Mother's Day.

It's amazing how a holiday that used to make me feel so empty now has me full! I am forever humbled that God thought enough of me to go through this journey. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Preparing for Baby Part 2-- Nursery, Registries, and Decor, Oh My!

Preparing for Baby Braylen's arrival has been interesting. We prayed for this day for so long. Now that it's here we are soaking in every moment. It gave me great joy seeing my husband test out strollers to see which one would be perfect for his princess. I mean this guy checked agility, tires, ease of handling, breakdown and set up ease and so many other things that I wasn't aware of as if he was on a car lot making a new purchase.  I must say picking out a stroller for the registry was the easiest thing to do. How do two people who have never had a baby go about starting a registry?

I'm grateful to Pinterest and amazing friends who guided me through the registry process and also told me about the things that shouldn't be on the list. Truly after walking around Babies R Us and Target for a few minutes, I realized this selecting registry stuff wasn't for me. lol.  All the bottles began to look alike and they all did the same thing per the labels. I also wasn't sure whether Pampers or Huggies were best.  Who knew that babies didn't have a full crib set?  I was even more confused that top sheets for cribs didn't exist.  I was grateful when the customer service representatives told me I could do it online and gave me sweet parting gifts.

When it came to decor and picking out paint for her room there was no doubt of what I dreamed her nursery would look like. (Thanks Pinterest!) I'm blessed with an amazing mom that enjoys painting and making sure things get done. She's my real life Martha Stewart. She was so awesome ensuring Braylen's room was painted and ready for us to decorate. She came over early on a Saturday morning with her crew and ready to convert her granddaughter's room into something magical. She gave me the side eye when she realized the color of the nursery wouldn't be a soft girly pink but instead a buttercup yellow with accents of grey and white. Everyone was clearly expecting the nursery to be salmon pink and apple green in honor of my sorority colors but I'm not a fan of girly colors so yellow and grey it is!! We are not fans of cartoons nor characters so we decided her room will be all about her with monograms and special things that discreetly symbolize our journey from Faith to Fertility.

I love how everything is slowly coming together. I believe I'm officially in the nesting stage of my pregnancy and can't seem to stay out of her room. I think I go in there at least twice a day. I am excited for the day I can peak in her room and she's actually sleeping or standing in her crib waiting on her dad and I to start our day with her.  Oh My! Oh Baby!!! Braylen we are so excited to see you!





Preparing for Baby Part I--Childbirth Class & Our Birthing Decision



In preparation for the arrival of our sweet baby girl, one of the things we decided was imperative was taking a childbirth class.  As new parents we wanted to be prepared for what we should expect during delivery. I was so happy that many of the techniques we were taught during the short "active labor" session I already knew from my yoga classes. (Thanks Yoga Den!!!)  

The ALL day session was pretty informative and shed light on what hubby and I need to be prepared for as well as preparing our family and visitors who may want to be a part of the post delivery experience. Many people have asked questions about my pregnancy, delivery decisions, who will be in the room with us during delivery, etc. since we made our fertility story very transparent and somewhat public.  Though we are sharing our story with others to give them hope as well as share our journey, there are some things that will remain generic and private to ensure that there are just some things that remain intimate between my husband and I.

So about this Childbirth Preparation Class------ Enroll in the class if you are expectant parents. We chose to enroll in an all day Saturday class from 9am-4pm because our schedules wouldn't allow us to take classes during the week nights.  The class was very informative and we learned so much about the entire experience. I don't need any shockers the day of delivery and this class clearly gave both of us a lot to think about. I love that the class engaged the husbands and explained their role and how important they are in the overall process.  We took a tour of the hospital, birthing suites and the nursery where they went over all of the security measures they take with newborns. All in all the class was well worth the time spent.

For some unknown reason many people have begun to ask how we will deliver our baby. Natural, Epidural, or C-section?  We have honestly chosen not to tell anyone what we have decided as it relates to what we've prayed for will work for us. We've been on this journey to a place called Here and I honestly need to focus on the prayers and petitions that we added on our prayer wall as well as the ones we sent up to Him in our prayers.  We have prayed specifically to God about our childbirth and we know He will answer.  Why wouldn't He? If we've prayed specific prayers to God before and He answered why can't we do it with childbirth and it come to fruition? As a believer, I had to totally change my way of thinking and renewing my mind with the Word of God on the subject of having babies, the same way I renewed my mind that He was able to change a 5% chance of ever conceiving to a 100% blessing. I can no longer think the way the world thinks if I want to have the results, promises, and blessings that have already been given to me. For this reason, I cannot entertain catastrophic tales of how they screamed bloody murder during childbirth, words of discouragement or even how I should deliver our baby.  We are in a covenant relationship with Him and we know He's got us. "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us" (1 John 5:14) 

I'm convinced that there exist people who often fight for the right to suffer. They complain about every ache, every discomfort, and about being pregnant.  I'm grateful I have experienced what I call covenant, Christ-Centered pregnancy thus far. No nausea, morning sickness, no pain, moodiness and without fear. Even when I experience a little discomfort, I smile knowing how long I waited for this opportunity. As I enter my 3rd trimester, I am still in awe with several others of how amazing this pregnancy has been so far. I am so excited that my light is shining and He is getting the glory in this entire process. 

I've learned on this journey and received confirmation through this childbirth class to do what is right for me. I often reiterate those feelings with my husband so we are both on one accord.

Below are a few pics from our childbirth class! Enjoy.

Jarrett checking out the forceps! arghh

Trying out different birthing positions

Someone can't stay awake! 

When we came home I caught our furbaby checking out our book! lol