Friday, April 29, 2011

Praise Him Anyway

On the way to work today I heard Katie Giguere's version of country singer Martina McBride's song "Anyway" and boy did it make me cry! I could use the excuse that I am overly-emotional because I'm pregnant, but I won't because I really am just a big cry-baby :-) Songs - mainly Christian songs - make me cry all the time... as you can see from previous posts! I think this version, found on Katie's album "I Lift My Eyes Up", is more moving than Martina's version. It's so soft and humble sounding, yet so strong when she sings the "anyway" parts. She also slightly changed the lyrics and I like them better as well. Below the lyrics is a video of Katie singing this song. (Not the official music video, but it was the only one I could find.) I hope God blesses you in listening to it!

(Katie Giguere's version)

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not never come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great
But sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy
It’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ‘em anyway

God is great
But sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
Yea – I do it anyway

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yea – praise Him anyway

I sing
I dream
I love
Oh, anyway



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miracle of Conception and Weeks One to Three of Pregnancy

I never fully appreciated the beauty and awesomeness of the creation of a human being until now. I am just in awe learning about it all! God is just so amazing and beautiful and I love Him so much and I love my baby so much already too! I figured I would share some of the most fascinating things I've been learning week by week, but since I am already 7 weeks (today!), I will need to combine the first few weeks into a two or three posts so I can catch up!

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It's simply awe-inspiring how God sets the conditions of the body to be perfect for fertilization. It is like a puzzle that fits perfectly together - and if any piece is missing then a pregnancy will not occur.

Man's Role in Conception

The man's testes produce about 1,500 sperm per second and each sperm has a lifespan of about 72 days. The testes send their immature sperm to the epididymis, where they spend time maturing while they pass slowly along for many days The epididymis is a coiled tube that lies behind the testes. The sperm need to be mature enough before they are forcefully expelled in ejaculation. 

We'll revisit the man's role a little further on...

Photo Credit: Shands Health Care

Woman's Role in Conception

Week One

Week One with the first day of the woman's last menstrual period where she bleds for 5 to 7 days. You will will a little later on exactly what it is she is bled and why. However, this week is included as part of the pregnancy because it includes an important part of the cycle and sets the stage for ovulation and subsequently, fertilization, a.k.a. conception.

Week Two

When her menstrual period ends there is a hormone that is released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland, which lies behind her eyes in her brain. This hormone is called follicle stimulating hormone or FSH. We will come back to this hormone shortly.

Each ovary, which is housed at the end of the fallopian tubes, release only one egg (only occasionally more than one) in alternate menstrual cycles - so ovulation only takes place through one ovary at a time every month. There are around 20 eggs that are selected to mature within a fluid-filled bubble called a follicle. This is where FSH comes into play. The follicle stimulating hormone which was secreted from behind the woman's eyes, moves through the bloodstream and reach the fallopian tubes and begins acting on the eggs to enlarge them. One egg typically becomes the "dominant" follicle and matures fully and eventually ovulates, while the other follicles shrivel and the eggs within them die. 

Before full maturation, however, within the follicle the egg grows on one side and is surrounded by cells called granulosa cells, which produce estrogen and feed the egg nutrients. These cells also stimulate the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, as well as the breast tissues. When the level of the hormone estrogen rise in your bloodstream, it triggers a message in the hypothalamus, which is the "control center" of your brain and tells it that the follicle which contains the egg is mature and ready to ovulate. The hypothalamus then tells the pituitary gland (behind your eyes, remember?) to release a burst of a luteinizing hormone that triggers the release of the egg about 36 hours later. The follicle, which has at this point grown to about the size of a quarter, bursts and releases the egg. This is ovulation and typically occurs around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle (one week after your period). 

The egg carries chromosomes that carry genetic information and which are at the perfect stage for further development. Also, the egg is capable of of allowing only one sperm to enter it while blocking out all the others. When ready, the egg is swept into the fallopian tubes by "wandlike" projections called fimbria and is helped along into the uterus by hairlike strands called cilia. The remaining cells from the ruptured follicle form a swelling in the ovary called the corpus luteum and it begins to produce the hormone progesterone. Progesterone begins to make the cells receptive to pregnancy and produces nutrients needed to support a developing embryo and thickens the lining in the uterus. The lining becomes perfectly primed for new life and the granules of mucus are ready to provide nutrients for a newly fertilized egg. 

Now, if at 3 weeks or so the egg is not fertilized then this is where everything begins to wither away and the blood-filled lining begins to disintegrate and eventually becomes the woman's menstrual period around week 4 of the menstrual cycle.

Continuation of Man's Role in Conception

The statistical probability of the man's sperm meeting the woman's egg is minute. On average a man ejaculates around 100 to 300 million sperm, yet only 100,000 make their way through the cervix and only twenty sperm survive to make the journey up the fallopian tubes in order to fertilize the egg!

When the sperm are mature enough for ejaculation, they are forcefully sent up through the epididymis to the vas deferens, and these tubes then contract during orgasm and the sperm are sent out of the scrotum, past the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland, and finally into the urethra - which is the tube that travels from the bladder to the penis. During ejaculation, the opening to the bladder is shut off and the sperm are transported to the penis and ready for their journey into the vagina. And the journey for the sperm only begins here...

The sperm go through an amazing obstacle course to reach the egg that is ready to be fertilized. They navigate a considerable distance through the very hostile and acidic environment of the vagina, up through the narrow opening of the cervix and into the uterus - the fastest ones making it within about 5 to 10 minutes. Within the next 72 hours more cohorts of sperm continue to make their way from the cervix to the uterus. Only around 20 actually make their way up the fallopian tube with the help of muscular contractions from the uterus. 

Week Three: Conception!

The journey makes them hyperactive and they are fully charged to fertilize. When they get close to the egg, they shed their cap, called the acrosome, and the one chosen by God fuses with the egg and penetrates the oocycte, which is the inner most part of the egg, and begins fertilization. 

Within 24 hours of the sperm entering and fusing together with the egg, the newly formed single cell - now called a zygote - forms a thick wall around it to prevent other sperm from entering. It then begins to divide into further cells, called blastomeres, while it travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus - a journey that takes about 60 hours. Within this time the zygote is made up of about 50-60 cells and is now called a blastocyst.

There are two distinct cell types already: an outer layer made up of trophoblast cells that develop into the placenta, and an inner cell mass that eventually forms the fetus. Two or three days later (one week after fertilization, a.k.a. one week ACTUALLY pregnant!) the blastocyst embeds itself into the lining of the uterus (which remember is primed for new life with all the nutrients!!). It has now subdivided into about 100 cells and produces the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. This hormone then tells the corpus luteum to carry on producing progesterone, because if it fails to do so the lining of the uterus would wither away to become a period, or in this case, a miscarriage and you probably have never known you were ever pregnant.

How Your Body is Feeling

Some women are so in tune with their body that they actually know they are pregnant before their period is even due. Most however do not notice anything at all. I sure didn't have a clue! So, during week three there are no real outward signs of pregnancy that one would typically notice.

Week Three of Pregnancy. Photo Credit:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Children are a blessing from God

My life changed forever about one week ago: April 20, 2011

I woke from a dream last night. Or it might have been a nightmare – I don’t know because I only remember one part. There was a huge pink or red plus sign right in front of my face. In my dream I screamed “Aaah!!” because I knew what it meant – “You are pregnant.” It woke me only for a moment and I thought, “That was so weird…” and I fell back asleep.

In the morning, remembering the image of that big pink plus sign, I reminded myself that dreams are images and thoughts that happen because of things that happened the previous days or because of subconscious thoughts and emotions. I was planning on taking a pregnancy test the next morning so that had to be why. Though… a voice in the back of my head reminded me that God sometimes uses dreams to speak to His people… but I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

I checked the clock – 6:58 a.m. I quickly hopped out of bed and went downstairs into the bathroom to take the test. I sat and audibly counted out two minutes before I could read the results. Thoughts raced through my mind even though I tried to prevent them from getting my hopes up. We’d only been trying about three months (well, four counting this month!) and I know sometimes it takes years. Despite not wanted to disappoint myself, my thoughts went a little something like: “Who will I tell first? My mom, then Jon’s mom, definitely.” “Will I look pregnant at Amanda and Jeff’s wedding?” “Will it be a boy or a girl?” “So, when does that mean I have to leave work for maternity leave?” “When would I tell my boss and everyone else?”

Two minutes of thinking like that goes by quickly. I stood up and nervously leaned over to peek at the stick. My eyes might have been playing tricks on me, but I thought I saw two lines there. A closer look and, yes, one line in the spot where the instructions said there will always be a line, and another line in the spot where the instructions said it means I am pregnant. Somewhat not believing and somewhat in shock I walked quickly upstairs, thinking Jon was still sleeping, but he wasn’t in bed. So, I went back downstairs and went into the kitchen where I found him taking his medicine, his back turned toward me. I quietly asked, “Jon? When does Kulick’s open?” He turned around and said, “Umm, I don’t know… probably not this early… Why?” Taking the pregnancy test stick from behind my back, I said, “Well, cause I think I need to get another one of these….. to make sure..” The smirk on my face cleared up any confusion and Jon said, “Really?!” to which I replied, “Uh huh… but I don’t want to hug you yet, because I don’t want to get our hopes up!” A feeling of nervousness and a twinge of fear came over me for a moment. Though we were trying to get pregnant, I was a little scared to find out that I was in fact pregnant! I told Jon and he said he was too a little… but the feeling didn’t last very long for either of us.

Jon had the idea to go to Rite-Aid, so I went online to see when they open: 8 a.m. Had to wait a ½ hour and be very late to work, but it was worth it. We went to Rite-Aid to get another pregnancy test. I wanted the battery-powered ones that say “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant”. Clear and to-the-point! No confusion! Tell me straight! Same routine as before, but this time for the last 30 seconds I watched the stick as the hourglass blinked on and off. Then all of a sudden… “Pregnant.”

Wow! So, it was for real… I knew it was, but I was still in a bit of shock and disbelief – so there was no jumping up and down until much later in the day. I came out of the bathroom and showed Jon the results. 

We smiled, kissed and hugged each other tight. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Follow Him!

Today I am thankful for the below video!!

This video is so so sooo awesome!! 
What a way for God to reach today's social media entrenched world! 
"Real-time" Twitter updates from disciples, pharisees, and witnesses of Jesus... 
telling the Easter story is such a creative way! 

Check it out, it's #amazing ;-)

My Savior Lives!
God bless you!