Anchors Aweigh : January 2017


Hospital Bag Checklist

With the impending arrival of our little guy, Parker has been begging/pleading/ordering me to pack my hospital bag for the past 2 weeks. He asks me about 749 times per day if I packed the darn thing, to which the answer is always "nope!". I have a list on my phone of the necessities and figured packing would be quick, so I put it off. 

Well, this weekend I finally stopped being so darn stubborn and packed the silly thing. Since I am officially 9 months pregnant, it was time, right? I wanted to be careful not to bring everything but the kitchen sink. Whatever I pack, I have to unpack when I get home with a newborn, so I went the minimalist route. My twin sister is also a postpartum nurse and just had my nephew in September, so she gave me the rundown of what I absolutely needed and what the hospital provided. 

So, here's what made the list (or bag, in this case)!


Going home outfit- my son will be going home in the same outfit his 5 month old cousin went home in. It's a sweet little footie outfit that says "Welcome to the world".
Mittens- something to protect his face from those razor sharp fingernails!
Baby book- for his little foot and handprint. Writing in it will also give me something to do if labor takes a sweet forever!


Phone and charger
Laptop and charger
Vaseline- I use this every night to prevent chapped lips
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Face wash/body wash/shampoo- I think it will be nice to have my own stuff
Comfy shorts
Comfy t-shirts
Nursing bras/socks/underwear
Nursing tank top


Baby blankets- I hear the hospital's blankets are just fine, so that's what we will use while at the hospital.
Baby clothes- Other than an outfit to go home in, he can just wear the little hospital t-shirts while we are there. He will be swaddled 99% of the time anyway, so no use dragging his entire wardrobe to the hospital. 
Breast pump- I highly doubt I will have to pump in the hospital, but if I end up staying that long or needing to for another reason, someone can run home and grab it for me. 

Mama friends, I would love to hear any suggestions you have for packing the hospital bag! Did I forget anything big? Unfortunately the hospital said I can't pack Jenny... that was a bummer! ;)

Things I Want To Remember: Week 35

Week 35 has been another good week! As I sit here writing this, I am trying not to throw up from the indigestion while simultaneously really craving a cookie. It's not always glamorous over here, but pregnancy is still going well!

I forgot to mention this last week, but nausea is back. I haven't been nauseous in weeks, so that was unexpected! I just get nauseous when I need to eat, and it's so much more manageable than first trimester nausea. It's just strange that it's back. 

I had another ultrasound this week, and our guy is still looking good! He's grown even more since last week, now measuring 7 pounds 6 ounces and in the 97th percentile overall for his gestational age. His head and abdomen are measuring greater than the 99th percentile! He's perfectly healthy, just big! The ultrasound tech actually caught him smiling on the screen- it is the sweetest sight! We are obsessed. :)

My amniotic fluid levels increased since last week as well, so I will be doing twice weekly non-stress tests to measure reactivity until I deliver. So far, he has done well at each test. They also told me to monitor movement closely and call if he doesn't move five times in an hour. He's always been a mover, but it definitely brings out a little paranoia having to count kicks and movements. So far, he's moved plenty and hasn't given me any cause for concern. 

The biggest surprise was that I am actually 2 cm dilated. The doctor said this isn't too uncommon considering my amniotic fluid levels are high, but 35 weeks is early to be 2 cm dilated. They will check me again next week. If I am any more dilated, they want to give me a steroid to slow things down. Even though he is big, the doctor would still like to see me make it to 38 weeks for respiratory development. Basically, it's a waiting game at this point. 

I gained 3 pounds since last week, bringing my total weight gain this pregnancy to 26 pounds.

Most of my shirts (even maternity shirts) are belly shirts now. It's just hard to find something to fit this big old belly, so I rotate between the same couple of shirts every day. Parker came home the other day, looked at my outfit, and said "so are you going to wear that shirt every day?". Yes, yes I am. 

God Is Redemptive

Lately in our house, the talk has been all about our son. Specifically, when he will come, how he will enter this world, what that day will look like, etc. We found out last week that our perfectly healthy little guy is not so little. At just 34 weeks, he is already 6 lb 8 oz and in the 92nd percentile! His head and abdomen are both measuring 3 full weeks ahead too! We aren't really expecting to make it to my due date, and if by chance I do, he will likely be so big that a c-section will be our only option. As long as he arrives safely and healthy, I am happy with whatever the doctors decide. God has a plan, and we are confident he will deliver our big guy safely. 

Like I said, we talk a lot about how big he is. We are very proud of this fact! We've been on the other end of the spectrum, and it's heartbreaking. I remember like it was yesterday going in for an ultrasound at 16 weeks with Taylor Grace and being told how small she is. Her head was in the 20th percentile, her abdomen was in the 5th percentile, and her femur was in the 3rd percentile. She was measuring a full 2 weeks behind and so, so small. We loved her so much, but all I wanted in those weeks was for her to grow and to miraculously be healed. If you've been around this blog, you know that she didn't grow and wasn't healed on earth but instead in Heaven. 

I laid in bed the other day thinking about just how redemptive our God is. Our journey to become parents began in 2014 with our precious, tiny daughter. Almost 3 years later, we are getting ready to meet our big, healthy son. God took the grief we had with Taylor and used it to show us how truly blessed we are to be having such a big baby. 

Technically, our son is considered a "rainbow baby": a baby born after miscarriage or infant loss. You won't really hear me using this term because there is a part of it that just doesn't sit right with me. A rainbow baby is the hope and joy that follows a storm. While our son is that hope and joy, I can't really bring myself to think of our journey with Taylor as a storm because I am so, so thankful she was created. I loved her so much and am still so grateful God let me be her mom. What I see when I look at our journey to parenthood- from losing Taylor in 2014 to preparing to meet our son in 2017- is God's faithfulness. He redeemed what was broken and turned our mourning into dancing. Today, I am simply thankful. I'm thankful for the journey. I'm so thankful for both of my children. I'm thankful for a God who is redemptive. 

Things I Want To Remember: Week 34

This week of pregnancy has been so much fun and one of my favorites yet! I am still huge, exhausted at the thought of climbing stairs, etc. etc., but so many exciting things happened this week and I've loved every minute of it.

I had an ultrasound this week to check on how our little guy is measuring and positioned, and Parker got to be there too! This was his first ultrasound with our son, so it was extra special for us. Let's just say, our little guy is not so little! His head and abdomen are measuring at 37 weeks (a full 3 weeks ahead!), he is estimated to already be 6 lb 8 oz, and he is in the 92nd percentile for his gestational age. We love our big guy!

They turned on the 3D/4D machine, and I teared up seeing his sweet little features. He's just so perfect already.

The ultrasound tech could also tell that he has a head full of hair (it's so amazing what they can tell on those screens!), which explains the horrible indigestion I've had the last 8-10 weeks.

I actually lost 1.5 pounds since my appointment last week, which makes my total pregnancy gain +23 pounds. It's crazy to think that over 6 of those pounds are our chunky little babe!

My amniotic fluid levels came back borderline on the scale of being too high. My nurse sister had prepped me for this possibility since my belly has been so big the last few weeks. We are doing NSTs (non-stress tests) twice a week now to check baby's reactivity, and then I will have an ultrasound in a week to check the fluid levels again. The first NST went great, and they said he was textbook perfect. The doctors aren't concerned and we aren't either, but it is something they are going to closely monitor, which I appreciate.

At this point, we are just going to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks. He is measuring very big, so the doctor was very realistic about the possibility of a c-section if he continues to grow. She also said the amniotic fluid levels could result in a c-section if they become more excessive. Everything is so unknown right now in terms of delivery, so a lot will depend on if my body goes into labor early or not and what happens with the fluid levels. He is head down and expected to stay that way, so both types of delivery are still a possibility at this point. I know God has the perfect birth plan already orchestrated for our son, so I am trusting him and just going with the flow. 

We had the nursery painted this week and are slowly getting it all set up! I will post pictures when we are finished. :) I'm absolutely loving it so far... it has quickly become my favorite room in the house.

Adjusting To Life After Deployment

Just like deployment is a huge adjustment, so is reuniting. It sounds silly that you have to adjust to being married again, but deployment lasts a long time. You both develop routines, new habits, and get used to the single life. As excited as you are to be back together, you almost have to relearn how to be married to one another.

Our experience overall has been really good, but I thought it might be helpful to blog about the specifics for anyone about to welcome a spouse home or who recently finished deployment. Plus, I always love to look back and remember this stuff. :)

I'll preface this by saying this is all just my experience with adjusting to post-deployment life. Everyone is different because every couple is different. Parker was also deployed on land vice on a ship, meaning we were able to Facetime almost every day. We know how lucky we were to have this luxury, and I am sure the fact that we got to "see" each other throughout deployment made the adjustment that much easier. Lastly, we don't have any kids at home, which I fully believe would add a whole new element to the adjustment process. 

1. Homecoming

The first thing we did that was helpful (especially for me) was to not have anyone else there for the homecoming. I had friends advise against inviting anyone, and I went with their advice. As much as I adore our families, it would have made things a little harder having them around while Parker and I were getting reacquainted. We also lucked out that we are having a baby 2 months after Parker got home, so our families will come visit then. At first I thought maybe it was selfish not to invite anyone else to come for the homecoming, but deployment is harder on the spouse (and kids if there are kids) than anyone else. You're the one most effected by a long shot, so I think it's an okay time to be a little selfish. 

2. Sleep

Sleeping together again was a small adjustment for the sheer fact that, since I'm so pregnant, I roll over approximately 3852 times per night, which wakes Parker up. He used to sleep a little more soundly... my bad! I also knew he had grown accustomed to sleeping with blackout curtains, which we didn't have, so I purchased new blackout curtains and hung them up before he got home. He really appreciated this!

3. TV Shows

This one sounds silly, but I had been watching girly shows for the past 7 months, and Parker had been watching man TV that I had absolutely no interest in. Instead of forcing the other to watch our shows, we both found new shows to watch together that we would both enjoy. We usually watch an episode of something each night, so finding a show we both like saved arguing about what to watch. Again, it sounds silly, but we had both just spent 7 months getting to be totally selfish and watch whatever we wanted.

4. Time Together, Time Apart, and Time With Others

When your husband comes home, there is this stigma that you need to spend every waking moment together. We love spending time together and are together as much as we can, but setting an unrealistic expectation of being together 24/7 is unreasonable and setting yourself up for failure. We took the first day back completely to ourselves and didn't Facetime any family or see any friends. The next day, friends invited us to dinner and we went. We were still together, but we had a fun night out with friends. Parker has also wanted to do little projects around the house like fix his computer that don't involve me, and that's fine. Just knowing he is in the next room makes me happy. The point is, getting back to normal life is good.

Overall, just having grace for each other throughout this post-deployment adjustment has made all the difference. Parker is so patient with me and so good to me and my ever-growing bump. I'm less independent than I was before he left, a whole lot bigger, and need way more sleep and downtime than I used to, and he has never once made me feel like I am lazy or unproductive.

Even though it's an adjustment, post-deployment life is so, so good. Seriously... so good. We have a deeper appreciation for our marriage and feel so blessed to just get to do life together again. If we could give anyone advice for life after deployment, it would be to just go with the flow. There may be a few bumps along the way, but isn't that true of life in general?

Life Lately

Happy Friday, yall! I wanted to do a little life lately post because life lately has just been so darn good. Deployment is not fun, and I am the first to admit that, but man is it wonderful when they come home! It's just been pure bliss ever since. Every day is so much fun having Parker home. 

We are pretty much back to our normal routine, but that's exactly what we both wanted. Normalcy. Even though life is pretty much back to normal, the days are sweeter and the time is just that much more joyful. Deployment is a lot of things, but it does give you a deeper appreciation for each other and for the gift of marriage. So here's life lately...

Parker's first night back, we celebrated with a dinner in our favorite part of the city at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. So yummy! 

We celebrated our Christmas together the morning after Parker came home. I made our favorite cinnamon rolls (call us crazy, but we don't think anything beats Pillsbury in a can), played Christmas music, and we opened our stockings and presents. It was so fun getting to celebrate Christmas together!

The next day, we went to visit the ship Parker was deployed on (USS Eisenhower) to retrieve some things he had left on the ship. Since he flies the C-2, he is one of the few pilots that is land based and does not live on the ship. He spent the night on the ship every so often though. 

We had a nice little New Year's Eve celebration with some of our close friends. We had a lot to celebrate, mainly the fact that all three of our husbands were home to ring in 2017! Parker and I really thought this deployment was going to go until February, so getting to ring in the new year together was such a gift. 

Our husbands weren't the only ones getting kisses at midnight. Lots of kisses for baby too!

Pretty quickly after Parker got back, he started building a changing table for the baby. The project took him longer than he wanted it to, although I think 5 days seems pretty fast to me! He did such a good job. It's exactly what I wanted, and I love that he built it for his son. I helped provide entertainment during the building process and occasionally clamped something/drilled something/used the drill press/etc, but it was really all him, per usual. I love the finished product! We found one on Pottery Barn that we both liked, so Parker modeled the design after that. 

Snowmaggedon hit Virginia that weekend, so we were happily snowed in to binge watch Breaking Bad (we are behind the times), drink hot chocolate, and hang out with our favorite brown dog. She was pretty unimpressed with the snow, but what else is new? Something funny I want to remember: Parker is very protective of the bump and insisted I only be out in the snow for 5-10 minutes so the baby didn't get cold. I told him I was pretty sure the baby is very well insulated in there, but it made me laugh and fall in love with my husband that much more.

We have been doing date nights like they are going out of style (we are about to have a baby... for all intensive purposes, they are going out of style!), and we finally made it back to our favorite sushi restaurant. It's a fun little local place where they know us, so we always love going. We ordered all cooked rolls for me, but it was still so nice to have sushi again! We've decided it will be our first date night post-baby too!

Other than that, we've watched countless episodes of West World and Breaking Bad and seen three movies since he returned: Rogue One (neither of us really liked it, which was disappointing for my Star Wars loving husband), La La Land (we both really liked it), and Passengers (loved it). Tis the season for hot chocolate and TV shows!

That's life lately!

Things I Want To Remember: Week 33

I feel like week 33 has been really eventful in a good way, thankfully! So many emotions/things happening, so here's what week 33 of pregnancy has looked like with our sweet growing boy...

I had a doctor's appointment last week at 32w5d, and Parker got to come with me! It was his first appointment for baby boy, so we both loved that he got to attend. It was quick, but he did get to hear the heartbeat. He loved it! I was measuring right on track at 32 weeks, and the heartbeat was in the 140s.

I gained 4 more pounds, bringing my total weight gain to 25 pounds. I'm pretty sure I will be past 30 when all is said and done, but honestly, that's fine. I have been pretty consistently gaining about a pound a week, so I was surprised when I gained 4 pounds in 2 weeks. I'm healthy and baby is healthy, so that's all that matters!

The past couple of weeks, I have noticed our little guy getting the hiccups a lot more. It's so fun to feel the rhythmic hiccups. They are either very low (making me think he is head down) or on my right side (making me think he is doing flips in there). 

He still moves all the time, and Parker gets to feel him daily. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have Parker home for this last stage of pregnancy. He is so sweet and protective of me and the bump. I just love it. 

One of my best friends, Ali, was pregnant with twins and due on the same day as me. It has been so fun getting to go through every stage of pregnancy together. Her sweet twins were born at 33w4d healthy, praise God! I knew they would probably come earlier than our son since they are twins, but it was a reminder that our guy could really come any time. I'm definitely getting more anxious for delivery now that it is so close, but I know God has the perfect birth plan laid out for us. We are praying for a safe and healthy delivery for both me and our son and would love for you to pray this along with us!

Parker built the baby's changing table this week, so we can finally start assembling the nursery! He did the best job! I will post pictures when we have it all put together!

I have reached the point where any and all strangers ask when I am due or comment on how big I am. I don't mind one bit... I am pretty big! A lot of these people also tell me they don't think I will make it to my due date. We will see if they are right. Who knows?!

At this point, I feel every bit of 33 weeks. Indigestion is at an all time high, and pelvic/hip/groin pain has been pretty bad. I'll take it though. I have 7 weeks or less to go, and our baby is doing great. The hard symptoms are temporary and worth every minute. 

A Trip Around The World

I tried to be really careful about posting where Parker was or what he was doing on deployment. OPSEC and blogging aren't necessarily besties, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't divulging any information that could be considered confidential. 

Now that deployment is over, I can share some of the details I was holding back. I actually flew halfway around the world in late July to spend a week with Parker, and I want to share that experience before the details become hazy! By halfway around the world, I mean Bahrain. Never heard of Bahrain? I hadn't either! If you look on a map, it is right next to Saudi Arabia. 

A few fun facts about Bahrain...

1. It's hot. Really hot. The temps were usually about 110 degrees with a heat index of 140. I've never experienced heat like that in my life! It didn't help that I came in the heat of the summer. Their winters are usually in the 80s. 

2. The primary religion is Islam. You will see some people dressed head to toe in long robes/tunics and others dressed like us. 

3. If you are female, you will get stared at. Despite the scorching temps, I kept my legs covered the entire time with maxi dresses or jeans. I might as well have been in shorts, because if you are an American woman, you are going to get some stares. 

4. The local currency is the Bahrain Dinar, or BD. The conversion rate is 1 BD = $2.65. So, things are a little more expensive over there. 

I was 10 weeks pregnant when I made the trip, so while I wasn't feeling too hot, I happily sucked it up for the chance to see my husband. The flight was long and pretty brutal being sick, but the minute I saw Parker, it was all worth it!

I stayed with him in his hotel, and we had the best 6 days together! Here's what our trip looked like, according to our phones...

My trip over there was a great mix of relaxation and exploration. We explored the Souq, which is a huge market in an old part of the city where people try to peddle their wears. If you want to buy a suit or jewelry, it's a great place to go. Fun fact: Google Maps does not know how to navigate the Souq. I got us quite lost that night. 

Parker had to work for a few hours during each day, so I stayed back at the hotel and slept. I was 10 weeks pregnant, so the extra sleep was welcome! The downside to me sleeping several hours during the day was that I never fully adjusted to the time difference (they are 8 hours ahead of the east coast), so I would stay awake at night and sleep during the day. The only positive was adjusting back to Virginia time was a breeze. Parker usually came home from work and found me like this:

Thanks to all the rest I got during the day, I was ready to go for our afternoon and evening activities. Almost every day, our afternoon consisted of laying by the pool. What better way to beat the Bahrain heat? This was a highlight for us every day... we loved our time by the pool!

One of my favorite evenings was visiting Shawarma Alley. Shawarma is kind of like a middle eastern gyro. They have meat, some sort of lettuce or cabbage, and a white sauce that is almost a little sour all inside a pita. I probably prefer the traditional gyro, but the Shawarma was good and such a cool experience! It was one of the cheapest meals we had, though you do have to pay for water over there. There was also a sink randomly in the dining room. 

While walking down Shawarma Alley, we found a movie store that was selling movies for 1 BD (Bahrain Dinar, the local currency). They are most definitely illegally made, but we purchased Me Before You, which was still in some theaters back in America at the time. We watched it back at the hotel and really liked it!

Another favorite night was date night... aka Chilis and a movie! We saw Bourne on base and loved it! Chilis is one of our favorite restaurants, but it doesn't taste quite the same in Bahrain. We didn't love it as much. Actually, I had trouble eating it while still in the first trimester and actually haven't wanted it since. Still a great night though! Chilis and a movie made us feel like we were back home together. 

I wanted to cook for Parker one night since I had really missed doing so, but we didn't have much to work with in the way of ingredients or utensils, so taco night it was! It was fun just to eat dinner in and feel like a normal married couple. We bought the ingredients at the grocery store on base. I also bought some sausages that we intended to cook but ran out of time, so he put them in the freezer to be eaten later. When he left Bahrain in November, the sausages were still in the freezer. ;)

On the nights we ate in, we hit the pool after. It was such a relaxing place to talk and just hang out, and we were usually the only ones there. It felt like our own little private resort!

My six days in Bahrain came and went all too quickly, but we are both so thankful we got the opportunity to spend that time together. It helped break up the deployment and make it more bearable, and we got to create memories in the hotel where Parker stayed the majority of the deployment. He said knowing I had been there ended up being his favorite part of Bahrain and made him enjoy where he lived. We had planned for me to come out there again in October, but we both decided I was a little too pregnant for the trip and it was best for me to stay back. Since we cancelled the October trip, I am soooo grateful we took the opportunity in July to see each other. That time together was so special!

The Very Best Day

If you know me, you know I am a big documenter and love to have pictures of everything. So when it came time to start thinking about Parker's homecoming, I knew I wanted to have a dedicated photographer to capture our first moments back together. My friend Karly found us both photographers via Welcome Them Home, a website where photographers offer their services pro bono for military homecomings. I could not have loved our photographer more! Not only did she take the perfect pictures, but she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. 

All pictures below are courtesy of Kimber Wassenberg with Photography for Jesus. Thank you Kimber for everything!!

And now for our homecoming story...

Parker was due to land in Norfolk around 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 29th. It was forecasted to rain all morning and was around 50 degrees that day, so conditions could have been better, but rain or shine, he was coming home! I woke up at 4:45 AM to get ready, met my friend Karly and our photographers at 6:30 AM, and drove to base. Everything went perfectly, and we didn't encounter any traffic or bumps along the road. Overall, I was feeling really good. I was anxious and a little jittery, but my husband was coming home from deployment... that was to be expected. ;) 

We waited in the squadron for a while before getting word that one of the two planes had taken off the ship and was on its way to us. The second of the two planes, however, had maintenance issues and was stuck on the ship. At that point, we had no idea who was on which plane. We were assured that both planes would still be coming in that day, but instead of coming in together like they were supposed to, one would come in on time and the other would be delayed. 

We were all anxious hearing this, and of course everyone wanted their husband on the first plane. About 30 minutes before the first plane touched down, we got word of who was on which plane. Parker was on the first plane and was in the air (yay!), but all of my friends' husbands were on the second plane. It was bittersweet. I was excited to see Parker, but I hated that they were going to have to wait. 

Seeing the plane touch down and the engine switch off is such a surreal moment. I knew my husband was just a few feet away from me, but more importantly, I knew that he had officially returned home from deployment safely. There are just no words for how wonderfully freeing that felt. 

I ran right to him (okay walked quickly... I was 31 weeks pregnant, after all), and I will let the pictures tell the rest. :)

The local news usually makes an appearance at homecomings, and they asked if they could interview us when they saw how pregnant I was. Our interview actually aired that day at noon! I will try to share it next week... it's always fun to be on TV. ;)

December 29, 2016 was my favorite day of the year and easily one of the best days of our lives. I am so thankful that Parker is home safely. Now the real fun begins... it's time to have a baby!

Baby Shower #2

I had my second and final baby shower just before Christmas on December 18th! It was thrown by my sweet Virginia friends, and I was so excited! I really appreciated them throwing it before Parker got back, and it ended up being the most beautiful 65-and-sunny day. My friends kept joking that it was the perfect day to throw me a party because they know how much I love weather where you can wear shorts. They know me so well! 

The amount of effort they put into every little detail touched my heart and made me realize how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful support system on the East coast. I love our city and I love our squadron for giving me these sweet friends. 

Baby Phelps was so spoiled and loved on! He received so many cute little outfits, books that I can't wait to read him, and lots of necessities for those first few months of life. I so want to show all of the adorable decorations, but they have his name written all over them. Since we aren't ready to share that yet, I'll stick to the pictures I can post! ;)

Here's a group shot! So many bare legs on December 18th... best weather! Of course, it was freezing the next day. 

The food spread was on point! Baby and I ate our little hearts out and didn't regret it one bit. 

This girl makes the best Italian Wedding Cake. She also happens to have a heart of gold and be one of my absolute favorite people. Love her!

This was one of my first friends in Virginia and also one of my favorite people! She is the other mama of the group, and I've loved watching her babies grow up. We are excited for playdates when my little guy arrives!

Time for gifts! Baby Phelps is going to be the smartest little man with all of his books. I can't wait to read them to him! The rocking chair is set up and the books are on the shelf... all we need is him!

I'm so thankful for friends that have become family. I felt so blessed getting showered with love for our little guy. He is one lucky little boy to have people who love him both near and far. 


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