Pregnancy Journey with Beckett James

January 17, 2018, was the day that every part of me and my world changed. After a few weeks of anxious waiting, and a negative home pregnancy test just two days before, I found out I was going to be a mommy. After wondering all my life how I would react when this day came, I never imagined that I’d be battling a gastrointestinal bug in-between squeals! Ha! I remember telling myself as I hugged the toilet, “Welcome to motherhood. You have arrived.” 🙂

Jimmy and I call myself the “family archivist,” because I’m always photographing, writing, creating photobooks, etc. for us to remember our lives. Maybe it’d be more accurate to say, that I attempt to archive our lives, ha! (It doesn’t always get done, as evidenced by being three years behind on our yearly photobooks. :)) Throughout my pregnancy though, I’ve worked hard to create a photobook celebrating our journey. It’s precious, and I’m dying to print it, but there’s content that just won’t fit in it.

I’ve been writing this post in my head for months and on paper for weeks and just haven’t been able to complete it. How do I write about my healthy pregnancy when I’m close to many women who will never experience pregnancy, have been faced with devastating news, or were traumatized by pregnancy? How do I take nine months of stories, learnings, and blessings and write about it on just a few pages? Even just the highlights demand a novel.

If you are one of those women, please know I see you. I feel for you. I wish I could change your story. I also know that you want me to experience joy and to deeply appreciate the story that’s been written for me. So, I’m allowing myself to realize that done is better than perfect sometimes, and there are parts of my pregnancy journey with Beckett that deserve reflection and to never be taken for granted. Here they are:

  • Pregnancy is a miracle.
  • Pregnancy is a privilege.
  • Pregnancy is a rollercoaster of the mind and body, but it’s temporary.
  • Pregnancy has reminded me of the good in the world.
  • Pregnancy has further affirmed Jimmy’s selfless love for me.

Pregnancy is a miracle.

I’ve always been fascinated by the medical world, but nothing captured my attention as a kid as much as conception and fetal development. I remember laying on my stomach on the floor with my chin resting in my hands watching the PBS documentary from 1982, “The Miracle of Life” on TV. Why my parents let me watch this before I was even in Kindergarten? Beats me. All I know, is that they were brave souls, because I had lots of questions, ha!

Fast forward to 2018, I’m working in a Neonatal ICU, pregnant, and ending my days watching Youtube videos about conception and fetal development. I’ve even re-watched “The Miracle of Life” just for kicks, only this time instead of my Go-Gurt lying next to me, I’m lying next to my handsome husband, who also happens to be fascinated with all things medical (thank goodness!). 🙂

No matter how many times I hear the science, or am reminded that there a billions of people in the world, I can’t help but believe that conception and pregnancy is a miracle. There are SO many conditions have to be right in order to conceive, and the “fertile window” each month is SHORT. Then, without conscious instruction from the mind, a woman’s body creates a human being from the fusion of a sperm cell that’s .0002 inches from head to tail and an egg cell that’s 0.1 millimeter in diameter!!! In just nine months!!! Unreal. Everyone was meant to be here. Everyone has a purpose!

We praise God for this miracle that’s happened in our lives. We praise Him for continuing to protect our miracle and my health. We pray that we honor Him for the rest of our lives by the ways we care for this miracle, because we know it’s a privilege.

Pregnancy and a healthy baby is a privilege.

If science hadn’t already convinced me that pregnancy and having a healthy baby is a privilege, working in the Neonatal ICU was going to do the job. Because of this this job, I’ve had the honor to meet some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. People whose lives have been forever changed by distressing infertility, devastating perinatal loss, and/or horrid neonatal illnesses and complications. Their resiliency and unwavering faith in God has humbled me and has forever changed my perspectives on the value of a life, God’s goodness, and appreciation for health.

Throughout my pregnancy, I often found myself wanting to complain. (If you haven’t heard, it’s hard being pregnant!) But then I’d recall stories that I’ve been a part of, and I’d quickly find a healthier perspective. The minor, temporary inconveniences I wanted to groan about were things that some women would do anything to experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve allowed myself to be human too, but the stories of the NICU have changed me. I’m truly grateful for that.

Pregnancy is a humbling rollercoaster of the mind and body, but it’s temporary.

Did I already mention that pregnancy is hard? If I did, I’m just making sure you understand how much, ha! The changes that a woman’s body and mind go through is unreal. You hear and see memes about pregnancy cravings, mood swings, stretch marks, and the waddle, but there. Is. So. Much. More. Anyone else out there feel me on this?!

No one seems to talk about the other symptoms. I’m telling you there are some really WEIRD, common ones out there! That’s been frustrating for me, because I’ve felt mentally unprepared for the physical changes and reactions my body has gone through. So, I joke that I’m making it my life’s mission to make sure all of my loved ones are informed and prepared once they become pregnant. I’m not going to make a business out of it, but really….You wanna know the real deal about how your body is probably going to change and react to a little alien growing inside of you? Come on over, girl, I’ll make us some tea!

Pregnancy isn’t just hard physically, it’s an exhausting mental rollercoaster too. I have no shame admitting that for the first several months, I struggled with bonding and feeling excited about being pregnant for several different reasons. Some days my body was such a wreck that there were times I would ask Jimmy, “Why on earth did we do this???” I felt horrible about this. I truly thought something was wrong with me. I knew I loved the little growing human in my belly, but my mind just wouldn’t get on board most days. It was too occupied with all the negative symptoms I was experiencing to feel remotely thrilled. I couldn’t carry the guilt anymore, so I reached out to some friends. As if I was opening a door for them, nearly every friend shared they went through a similar phase and found relief that they weren’t the only ones! I’m so glad me and my friends found freedom from those conversations and could go through the “phase” shoulder to shoulder.

Though working the NICU has changed some of my perspectives for the better, like most things, there’s a flipside. Because of what I know and have been a part of, I also had a very difficult time bonding until I began feeling consistent movement. To give you some idea of where I’m coming from, I’ve held and cared for more dying and deceased babies than healthy ones (that makes my heart sink—moving on…). I didn’t take tags off any nursery furniture, décor, etc. until I was 35 weeks. I’m so grateful for my colleagues and friends who could relate to my experience, let me be raw with them, then gently remind me that we see a very small percentage of neonates, and that there was nothing in my medical chart to validate my fears. Bless them!

On top of dealing with all those other mental ups-and-downs, my entire way of thinking has changed. Even though Jimmy and I began planning for the baby about a year before we tried to conceive, my mind hadn’t shifted quite the way it did once I found out I was pregnant. I barely feel old enough to have a job, own a house, and be married. Now, I’m going to be 100% responsible for another human being and every decision I make will effect TWO people?! How is that allowed?!

To say pregnancy has been physically and mentally exhausting is an understatement, but during these last few days, a quiet stillness has come over me (something I did NOT expect as I anxiously await Beckett’s arrival!). God gave me extra strength and energy when I needed it, even on days I was too tired to ask for it. He also blessed me with the most gracious experienced mommies who I’ve been leaning on since Day One. God is so, so good.

Pregnancy has reminded me of the good in the world.

They say raising children takes a village. I dare say being pregnant does too! I’m so thankful that God began building a solid support system for us long before we were pregnant. We already knew some of our “village” before we conceived, but God grew it even more so that the challenging journey we’ve been on has still been enjoyable and thrilling!

We’ve been blown away at the generosity of others! Our “village” has showered us with blessings of prayers, gifts, wisdom, and time when I’ve needed someone to lean on. Even people who we don’t know have stepped in to help us! Other mommy friends have given hundreds of dollars of maternity and baby items without any strings attached! What love this is!

I’m not a crier. Even with pregnancy hormones, I’m still not, ha! But, the generosity of others throughout this journey has filled my eyes with tears more than once. Because of them we’re going into parenthood with ease. How could I ever say thank you enough…(going to get a tissue now.) I can’t wait to pay it forward.

Pregnancy has further affirmed Jimmy’s selfless love for me.

To all the single pregnant mamas out there, you deserve all the chocolate roses in the world! I wouldn’t have made it through pregnancy without Jimmy. Really. I think I would’ve died. You’re truly amazing.

Jimmy’s been actively involved in every part of this journey, eagerly taking initiative to learn and be included in each decision along the way. He’s taken better care of me than I’ve taken care of myself. From force feeding me when I had NO appetite to taking over all the household duties, he’s kept me and the dogs alive and thriving, ha! I wish I could document every story and example of this. He deserves the recognition.

Not once has he complained or affirmed my belief that I was a burden or a wimp. In fact, it seemed like he was excited to take care of me, even after working four, 12 plus-hour shifts each week taking care of acutely ill patients. I remember asking for a back massage one night as we were going to bed. He had gotten home late from work and was already tucked and comfortable in bed, but he turned over without hesitation to oblige me. A few minutes later, he said his hand was sore and apologized that he couldn’t keep massaging. Selfishly, I was irked. He continued to share with me that the reason he came home late that day was because he was coding and doing chest compressions on a patient who did not end up surviving. BLESS HIM (cue tears)!!!

I never want to take the blessing of having Jimmy as my husband for granted. He is one of my most precious gifts from God. I pray that I’m attentive to seasons in Jimmy’s life that give me the opportunity to step up and selflessly care for him the way he’s cared for me. I pray I honor him and build him up in front of our children, and that our children want to grow up just like their Daddy. 🙂

Today, we have 2 weeks and 3 days until due date. Beckett and I are still well. Praise God! My body’s already progressing towards labor, and after lots of prayer, our birth plan’s in place. I’m truly in disbelief that this journey is ending. It feels bittersweet. Parts of me want to cling on to this chapter where it’s just Jimmy and me. While other parts are SO ready to experience the joy of parenthood together. I look forward to all that parenthood is going to teach me about God, myself, and others. Because if it’s anything like pregnancy…it’s going to be a wild ride! 🙂

Photos by Caressa Rogers Photography

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  1. Erwin Velbis says:

    Oh Alyssa… I am so proud of you and your wonderful husband. I am moved to love and excitement by your skilled writing. It is so fanascinating to witness this wondrous event. Though it is a start reminder of my own mortality it reminds me of God’s incredible love and desire for us. I am filled with a growing gratitude that pervades every part of my life. I am thankful to be fully alive to experience Beckett’s arrival. I will be praying daily for your family.