I figured it was due time to write you your first "letter." I've been thinking about doing it for a long time, and have decided that the time has finally come. Your daddy is out playing basketball, so I'm enjoying a quiet night, resting with my feet up, and enjoying some time alone with you.
It's a truly amazing feeling to carry you in my womb. With each new day, I feel more and more of your kicks, punches and rolls... it is such an awesome sensation - sometimes it makes me giggle, at times I just saw "whoa!" and occasionally it brings a tear or two to my eyes. I can't wait to meet you, but at the same time I love knowing (and feeling) that you're safely inside of me. I certainly don't want to rush this process, but I'm sure we'll be ready to warmly welcome you anytime after April 20th (when I turn 37 weeks). My belly continues to grow, and each week it seems to "pop" a little more. I find it interesting, however, that most of my patients tell me how small my belly looks when they find out how far along I am. Just in case you were wondering, I'm measuring right on, and when I had my last ultrasound, your growth was perfect.This is a picture of my belly today, when I'm 23 weeks and 1 day!
Your papa and I have decided to take one last vacation before you join us and change our world forever. We're going to one of the more special places I've ever visited. We'll be in Nicaragua for 9 days in a just a little over a month. Your daddy has never been to Nicaragua, and I'm very excited to take him there and share the people, history, food (gallo pinto, of course!), culture, language, beauty, geography, and so much more with him. During our time there, we plan to rest up in expectation of your arrival, but we also want to do some sightseeing with some mountains, beach and volcano time. We're also planning to spend a few days working with some missionary friends doing some volunteer work. My prayer for you is that you develop a similar heart for missions and a passion for culture, travel and language, like both your father and I have had for many years.
People have often joked that my mom (one of your grandmothers) must have been pregnant with me when she first went to Nicaragua in the early 1980s. This actually is impossible, because her first trip was when I was already in elementary school. But nonetheless, I have learned to love Nicaragua (and many other countries in Latin America and around the world), and I hope to share that with you as you grow up and are nurtured in our home, similar to the way it was modeled for me growing up with Grandma and Grandpa Johnsen.
One thing that your papa and I are thinking and praying about right now is whether or not to take malaria prophylaxis while we travel. We have consulted my doctor as well as many other doctor friends, and are confident that we'll be led to make the right decision. We still don't have our definite itinerary planned, and that may affect our decision, but we desire more than anything to do the best to keep you (and your mama) healthy and happy. Dear friends and family, we welcome you to partner in prayer regarding this matter!
The one thing I lament in preparation for this trip to Nicaragua is visiting coffee plantations and not having the opportunity to drink and taste some of the best coffee in the world, like I have done in the past. I have been caffeine-free for several months - even before I became pregnant with you - in anticipation of your conception. I guess I'll have to live vicariously through your daddy, who will have ample opportunity to enjoy the delicious nectar!
We were very excited to finally welcome your new cousin, Ryan, to the world on Sunday afternoon. Your aunt waited a l-o-n-g time to have him, and he came over two weeks late! But he's a beautiful, healthy boy, and we're sure you'll love playing with him. You'll only be four months apart, so we hope you'll grow up together and be great friends. He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces - he is a big boy! We only hope that you won't be as big, for your mama's sake! :) I keep rubbing my belly and telling you "6 pounds, 6 pounds, 6 pounds!" We'll see how well my tactics work - if you could at least stay under 7 pounds, I'll be eternally grateful!
Last night we took a tour of Babies"R"Us. We were given a parent's checklist. Eek! Mostly we just wanted to walk through out of curiosity - if I'm honest, it was me who wanted to do such a thing, not your papa. We've been working on a registry of sorts (our Wishpot), picking out things that we think will be helpful to have around when you arrive, but we're trying very hard to not get sucked in to the overwhelming baby craze culture that's out there. Your dad put it well when he said that just because it's on the checklist, doesn't mean we need to have it. Amen! We want your needs to be met (and our needs for caring for you), but we don't want things to get out of hand. We also are very interested in having items that are not harmful for you or for our environment. And we also would rather have fewer things that are of better quality with less of a carbon footprint than lots of "stuff" taking up space. We're thankful for those who have gone before us, who can help to guide us through this process. Thanks, Rachel and others, for the items you're sharing with us. We certainly appreciate it.
We are excited to prepare for your arrival, and are thankful for how fortunate we are to be able to gather things to raise you comfortably. Both of us have seen poverty and have lived among and worked with other children who are significantly much less fortunate than you will be. Our desire is to share with others some of the blessings that we have received. Your daddy came up with the idea of contributing a certain percentage of any money we spend on purchases for you to an organization that specifically works with children's ministries. We'd like other children to have a better chance at food, shelter, education, health, and daily necessities. We know there will always be much more that one can do, but we hope that we'll be able to make a small impact by sharing this gift with other children. We also pray that you will have a similar heart, and that we do our best as your parents to model giving and missions.
Just today, we received our first gift from our Wishpot! Audrey and Duane (cousins you'll adore) sent us a belly casting kit, so we can make a long-lasting impression of what you and I looked like together while you were growing inside of me! Thanks so much, Audrey & Duane - we're excited to tackle our belly project!
We have been thinking of several different options for names for you, and have a long list to narrow down and from which to choose. We have both girl names and boy names on the list, and hope that whichever name we choose will be one that you enjoy and that honors you (and that others can pronounce without too much struggle!). We'll welcome any suggestions - it would be fun to see if any of the suggestions are actually on our list (which we won't reveal at this time).
We want you to know how much we love you already, and that we can't wait to meet you. We're new at this parenting thing, so we ask for your patience and understanding in advance. :) We'll learn and grow together. What a gift from God you are and will continue to be! We're so thankful for you and for the opportunity to be your parents. Counting the days 'til your arrival!
Love, mommy (and daddy, too!)