I’m doing it wrong.

Edit: This is not about something that I posted on social media, just some general posts that I’ve seen and responses to them. I am fine, doing great with my two kids. I love a snow day with my girls. This is just addressing the issue of those who don’t love snow days and maybe some reasons we should stop judging them. Many people don’t know what I’ve struggled with and how it has changed my family. How hard it was. How if I had posted something about being stuck with Ali the first year of my daughter’s life when daycare was cancelled how I would have been so hurt if someone said I should be happy to be with my little girl all day and how absurd it was that I was her parent and didn’t want to spend more time with her. (This didn’t happen. She didn’t go to daycare.) I agree with the ideals that many Americans have are not very family-centered, at least not in comparison to many countries, but this isn’t really about that. It’s about being quick to judge.

To the mom that’s judging me,

STOP.

Tomorrow is a snow day where I live and some people are bummed that they are “stuck” at home with their kids. Some say this and don’t mean a damn thing by it except that they probably won’t be able to leave the house and they will probably be with people under four feet tall. Others would rather be working or doing something else that doesn’t involve their mini-me hanging on their legs, getting sticky goo all over them, and accompanying them on every bathroom trip they take. Some people get on their soap boxes in response to this, because if you don’t want to spend all day shut in your house with your minions—I mean kids, you shouldn’t be a parent. I mean, you are obviously doing it wrong.

I’m just going to say it.

I’m doing it wrong.

Sometimes I need a break from my kids.

And they are wonderful kids.

I’m so grateful that I get to spend my days with my girls, but Aliana (my 3 year old) only goes to school one “full” day and one half day each week and that’s my only “break” and I still have Breysi (my 10 month old). There are times when she can’t go to school for whatever reason and it’s a little bit disheartening, not because I don’t love her and want to spend time with her, but because sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I need a “me moment”. Sometimes that’s what helps me keep it together. Sometimes I get to sit by myself, or with my baby, and pray. Sometimes I get to read. Sometimes I get to think. Some days, I even get to have adult conversation with another *gasp* adult. I need my time to “myself” (by that I mean with only one child attached to me).

Some people overshare their issues and air all of their dirty laundry on social media, and maybe they shouldn’t, but we may never know the reasons behind their feelings about being “stuck” at home. Maybe it was just a pour choice of words and they just meant they wouldn’t be leaving the house. Maybe they need a day off. Maybe they had a rough weekend and work seems like cake compared to taking on the two year old. I have no idea, but I won’t be judging.

The whole first year after I had Aliana I felt “stuck” at home with her. I had severe postpartum depression, probably borderline postpartum psychosis. I lost my job when I got diagnosed with preeclampsia and put on bedrest, ya know, to possibly save my life. After I had her I was just “stuck” with her constantly. Aliana & Mommy. Mommy & Aliana. Everywhere I went, especially when I was at church, people asked me about how amazing the love that poured out of me for her was and wasn’t it the best thing in the world that I could ever experience..

and I wanted to scream…

SCREAM…

Because what would they think if I told them that I didn’t feel any of that and I didn’t understand what they were talking about?

I would just kind of nod unenthusiastically because I didn’t feel it. I felt terrible. And people telling me about all the things I was supposed to feel just made it worse. I felt so guilty. I loved my daughter like a duty, giving her all that I had, but I didn’t feel any emotional connection to her until she was about one year old, maybe a little bit older. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. I felt so stuck. She felt like a burden. She was my first and only child. She was beautiful. She was perfect. I was emotionally distant just trying to make it through each day. There were days I didn’t think I would make it. Days I yearned for someone to take her away from me. Days I was strong. Days i was weak. Days that I cried. Days I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. Days that I didn’t want to try.

I didn’t understand the outpouring of love and the emotional connection that you could have to your child until Breysi was born and I felt it immediately. It was different. So special. So amazing. Life altering. No wonder people talk about it so much, but how absolutely horrible that I didn’t feel it before. How terrifying. How sad for those that have never felt that instant connection, and there are many. I’m not alone in this.

I say all that to say this, sometimes you have no idea what people are going through or the reasons why they don’t want to be “stuck” with their kids. Sometimes they just need a break. Maybe venting on social media isn’t the best way to go about it, but maybe someone’s world is crumbling because they just needed a day and now you are calling them out on their parenting.. Why do you do this? To make yourself feel like a better parent than they are? Let me tell you, I’m a great mom, but I’m not a perfect mom.

I make mistake after mistake. I need God’s grace & I need it CONSTANTLY. Ultimately, I need Him. Do you know why I consider myself a great mom? Because I look to Him. Because I know I need Him. Because it’s not my strength, it’s His.

Please, think about what you are saying. I will do my best to do the same. People say things without thinking all of the time. They make exaggerated statements about their kids because they are tired and just need to breathe. They just need a moment of peace. Or maybe they are terrible parents, but I doubt your generalizations about them will make them into better parents. So shut up. Back off. Stop preaching at “bad parents”. Just breathe. Offer to help them with their children. Ask if they need a coffee to get them through their work done during the evening since they may have had something important to do the next day at work and they will now have to spend all night doing it because of the snow day and then face their kids all day after an all nighter. Ask them how you can help.

And then help them.

And remember that we all struggle with different things. Being a parent doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It’s hard. It’s so hard.

Sometimes I have to put on my oxygen mask first and then offer assistance… because if I don’t, I won’t be around to offer assistance.

I almost forgot

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This is what a typical shower looks like in Nicaragua.

I find myself in Central America once again with my husband visiting family and friends. Right now we are in Nicaragua and I love this place more and more each time I come. When we walk down the street to his grandmother’s house and see familiar spots, it feels like home. I remember the first time that he brought me home to his family. I’m certain everyone was shocked that he brought home a gringuita. They were all (mostly) on their best behavior. They gave me pan and offered me gaseosa. They like to pretend I am the same, but we all know that I am not.

I almost forgot what it’s like to be different. I almost forgot what it’s like to try to do your business with a cockroach (or five) staring at you. I almost forgot what it’s like to be the only one who uses toilet paper instead of regular paper from a notebook. I almost forgot what it’s like to be the gringuita. My mind romanticized it the more time that I spent away from this beautiful place.

They forget that I have lived like they do. They forget that I eat what they eat. They forget that I love like they love.

Sometimes it’s hard being the gringuita. For those of you that don’t know, “gringa” is not a negative term in the countries in Central America where I have lived. It means someone from the United States of America. It’s not derogatory in any way, but it’s hard to hear, because I grew up thinking it was, or rather knowing it was in some places. It’s a term I have embraced, especially with the “ita” on the end, because that’s who I am here. I’m defined as that. I’ve had no choice but to embrace it.

I find people staring at me everywhere I go. I dress according to the customs. I speak Spanish and even use the local terms. You can still spot me a mile away because my skin is white. It seems to glow. Especially when I’m in a small town like this one, everyone wonders what the gringuita could possibly be doing here. This is not a tourist lugar. It’s a community ofhard-working families striving to make it through another day.

I almost forgot that my husband suffers for it too. I’m sure in some ways he’s forgotten what it’s like to be married to the gringuita in a country like this. His union with me automatically sets him apart. People assume he’s different, but I assure you he’s not. He knows where he came from and could easily go back if he needed to.

Most of the things that I almost forgot were feelings. I didn’t forget the way of life. I didn’t forget the facts. I didn’t forget Nicaragua.

I have a dream…

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on racism in America, but it has been difficult to find the words. Yes, I am a blond haired, blue eyed, white American woman. I’m also a member of the Choctaw tribe. I lived in Central America for a few years. I’m married to a hispanic man from Nicaragua. My two girls are biracial. And I have a dream. So before you write me off based on my ethnicity, hear me out.

A week ago I was watching tv with my husband and a commercial for the movie 12 Years a Slave came on and I started crying. I think my husband’s first question was, “Are you pregnant?!” That was a negative by the way. Not pregnant, just an emotional wife. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Do you know what I think of when I hear those words from his famous speech? I think of my two beautiful girls. I hope to God that they aren’t treated unfairly because they are “brown” or “mixed”. I know racism isn’t dead. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve been hurt by it. I have wounds caused by it too.

I’ve never been judged personally because I am Choctaw. I don’t look Choctaw. Some of my family looks it a little more than I do, but not enough that you would assume it. I didn’t grow up around the tribe and their traditions, but it is my heritage and their hurt is my hurt. I hear people say things about the indians all the time. We are called lazy. Drunk. Jobless. Lifeless. A dead people. We have an unfair advantage. We are mean. We take advantage. We have much more than we could ever earn. We are poor. We are crazy. We are stupid. We are brutal. We live in teepees. We aren’t civilized. I hear it. I hurt for my people.

You tell me that racism doesn’t exist anymore, and I’ll tell you about one of my husband’s first experiences in this country that we call home. This was before my husband spoke much English. He didn’t even have a job yet since he was waiting on his work visa. We had a friend that owns a Jersey Mike’s give us some free sandwich coupons. We used to go into a local store and get sandwiches often until one day one of the employees looked at him and accused him of stealing them from behind the counter somehow while they weren’t looking. They were always all standing there when we walked in every day. There was never an opportunity for this to even happen. I told him that was crazy that we would never steal something like that, and he said, “I know YOU wouldn’t, but he did it. He’s sketchy.” Really? I stood up for my husband and the employee changed his story. “Well, maybe he didn’t steal from our store, but there’s one in Edmond. He stole them from the Edmond store. He used to work there and he stole all the coupons when he left.” I explained that he didn’t even have his work visa, hadn’t been working anywhere—least of all there, didn’t speak any English and had just arrived in the country. He told me that was a lie. He was fluent in English. He worked at Jersey Mike’s in Edmond (my friend’s store that gave us the coupons by the way) and that he was a thief. He told us he wouldn’t serve us because my husband stole from them and from other Jersey Mikes. He looked at him with disgust, but somehow I was okay. I was white. I was white and he was not. Racism is alive and well. It’s not just some old people. It’s everywhere. By the way, I haven’t been back to that Jersey Mikes.

People say, “It’s imagined.” “It’s not real.” “Only some people’s grandparents are like that.” “You assume the worst.” Let me tell you something, I often assume the worst. I admit it. That’s true. But when you’ve been in situations where people call you out because you are married to someone of a different color, where people make comments directed at your kids because they are biracial, when people say hurtful things “whispered” loud enough that you can hear them, you start assuming the worst. Every person that points, sneers, or gives you a disgusted look becomes connected to racism. It could be that I left my house with curlers in my hair and in my bath robe (okay, so that has NEVER happened) and I might associate it with racism. The reason I do this is not because I’m necessarily looking for racism every day, but because I’ve had so many bad experiences in such a short time that I ASSUME (just as you ASSUME that racism is dead) that someone is giving me a dirty look because I’m part of a biracial couple. I have good reason for assuming, and I’ve only been married for five years. We dated in Central America, where we didn’t have any problems, and I never dreamed we would have them here. I was unprepared for the looks and the hurtful words. I. didn’t. know. I couldn’t have. I grew up where differences, especially in color, were not pointed out to me. I didn’t see it. I didn’t see black people, white people, or brown people. I just saw people. I expected the same. I was so unprepared. So naive.

My baby girl broke my heart the other night. She has a Figaro cat that she got at Disney World and she loved him. He’s from the movie Pinocchio. When we asked her if she wanted to sleep with him she kind of sneered at him and said, “No. He’s black. He’s different.” (She obviously failed to notice that he’s white too.) I just wanted to cry. It’s happening. It’s started. It’s at school. It’s real now. We had a long talk about it and someone at her school had told a black kid in her class that he was different so they didn’t want to play with him. My heart broke for this kid in her class. For the kids that were mean to him, because they are young and impressionable and this is what their parents are teaching them, whether they mean to or not. It rubbed off on my daughter. One day it will hurt my daughter. She hasn’t even realized that my husband and I are not the same color. She hasn’t seen or understood the implications of her having darker skin. She knows that we are different because we speak Spanish. She knows that she is different because she has “crazy curly hair”, but she hadn’t begun to understand that people may judge her because of the color of her skin. We had a long talk, but I still dread the day that someone says something to her because of her heritage… Worst still, the day that she will understand it when it’s said…

And it all comes back to this, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I have this same dream. Sometimes it keeps me up at night thinking about it. The white people (note: me five years ago before I married a hispanic man) who have never experienced racism are ignorant to the hurt it causes. They aren’t usually trying to ignore it or pretend it’s not real. They. just. don’t. see. it. It’s a hard thing to grasp when you haven’t experienced it first hand. I’m still the white girl, but I’ve now experienced it too many times through my family. I think that we have come so far since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made that famous speech, but I don’t think we are there yet.

Cyber Monday Sales!

My shop Torrey’s Touches is on the list 🙂 Check out my handmade wooden signs http://www.etsy.com/shop/torreystouches and the other amazing handmade stuff!

The Promo Junkies of Etsy

Just like Black Friday, we’ve got some special Cyber Monday sales going on too! Check out the shops below and use the coupon code CYBERMONDAY2014 to get a Promo Junkies special discount! Let us know down in the comments which shop is your favorite and what items are on your wishlist! We want to know!

15ForFinn : $5 off : Ruffle scarves and vintage Hummel for sale
ABBGDesigns: 30% off – Jewelry

aCamilleCreation: 25% off  + free gift : handmade jewelry using gemstones, Swarovski elements, Czech glass, and paracord.

AddSomeStitches – 20% off – Crochet Hats, accessories, fiber art, Blankets and home decor

Adorableadoornments : 20% off  : handmade wreaths!

adornedwithlovexo: 20% off : bohemian inspired jewelry – necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings & body jewelry – hand chains, head chains, and body chains

AgapeKnits – 25% off all items : hand-knit accessories such as scarves, headbands, baby hats & booties, cozies…

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20 Things No One Told You About Moving Overseas

I think about all of these apply.. but here’s some specifics #1 Pizza Hut also I know it’s not a restaurant but peanut butter!!! #10 Not only did I get stared at, but I got my hair pulled because people didn’t believe my blonde hair was real. I also got asked to take my color contacts out for immigration so they could take an airport photo? Hello, my blue grey eyes are real #11 I may not fully grasp the culture, but I learned a lot. At first I was offended when people talked about me when I was standing there, but didn’t talk directly to me. I thought it was rude and that they did it because they thought I couldn’t understand them. After living in Honduras for three years I realized that it was a cultural thing and they do it to everyone. #13 I was in Honduras when the president got ousted and headed to the capitol. My friends called me and told me the electricity had been cut all over Tegus and to turn around because it wasn’t safe. #15 I’ve been in several houses both big and small that were completely taken over by ants. It reminded me of Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. #19 My best friends are still in Honduras. I learned to point with my lips. Apparently I can’t unlearn that. My mom says I look ridiculous and gets on to me every time I do it. I feel like there should be an article about moving back to the US and the culture shock you deal with for years even though no one understands. People don’t think about that. Everything that was once normal becomes foreign. Everything and everyone seem wasteful. No one understands what it’s like to live in a little adobe room with a dirt floor or take a shower in something built with sticks and tarp… and they would never understand if you told them that you miss it.

Beware the Comfort Zone!

One of the more popular comments we get from people about living overseas is “You are so lucky! You are living my dream! What an incredible way to live!”. They’re right, it’s pretty darn amazing. When we made the decision to move to the Philippines, we knew there would be issues, inconveniences, and life would be far from perfect, but all that was glazed over by the (mostly self-imposed) promise of adventure and life-altering experiences in store. At about six months, the rose colored glasses began to come off, and reality set in. While venting with a fellow foreigner who has been here for several years on a rough day, we asked, “why didn’t you warn us about this?”, and his reply was, “I knew if I told you, you probably wouldn’t come!”. Awesome. Now I know that people probably don’t intentionally withhold information, a lot of it can be…

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Breysi Jayde is Here!

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Breysi (rhymes with Gracie) Jayde is here and she is four weeks old today. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the time goes by. It seems like only yesterday I was in the doctor’s office getting my first ultrasound… The ultrasound that showed that my baby was dead… No heartbeat… No baby… Just a fluid sac… Baby didn’t grow past one week… Gone… I felt like time stopped when she told me this. I had loved and cherished my surprise little blessing for the past several weeks. I had known almost immediately I was pregnant, before even the pregnancy test showed a positive result. I just knew. I could feel it and I started praying for my little blessing. My world came crashing down that day, however common miscarriage may be, it still hurts. It still  broke my heart. It still made me cry. I was confused. I mourned my baby every day while I did the final tests to confirm that she was no longer with me. I convinced my body that the miscarriage was happening. I felt contractions that did not exist. I prayed that God’s will would be done in our lives and that we could use whatever was happening for His glory. I wanted to tell my miscarriage story since it’s not often talked about. But most of all, I wanted it to be over. I wanted life to go back to normal. I wanted to stop throwing up. I wanted the reminders of my pregnancy gone. I wanted to stop hurting.

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I still remember going back in to see my doctor. I wasn’t asked to undress. I still remember the nurse saying, “You don’t need to sit up there. You should sit in the regular chair.” To me, that said everything. Baby was gone… It’s official… Now I just have to wait for my doctor to confirm it… I wanted to miscarry naturally, but I also knew with my husband out of the country, my grandmother on her death bed, and me, just barely functioning, while the wait was driving me insane, that if she recommended taking the pill to get things moving I would have said yes. When the doctor came in she said, “Why don’t you go ahead and get undressed. I would really like to check one more time just to make sure. Things change. Miracles happen. I fully expect to see the exact same thing that we saw last time. I don’t expect anything to be different, but your body is still producing HCG and that can be explained by the placenta continuing to grow, but I’d like to check anyway. Someone else’s patient came to me once for a second opinion. She had been told she was going to miscarry, but since it didn’t happen she wanted me to check. I checked. There was a baby. So I’d like to check again just to be sure. Please don’t get your hopes up. It’s never happened to one of my patients.” I agreed. I remember looking at the ultrasound screen. Everything looked different. Instead of just a sac of fluid it actually looked like a baby. There was a flicker on the screen. I remember reminiscing about Aliana’s first ultrasound. It reminded me of her heartbeat. She looked and looked. She didn’t say anything for a long time, but finally she looked at me and said, “Does that look like a heartbeat to you? I just don’t know. It’s not usually this hard to tell. It looks like a heartbeat, but it’s not as clear as it should be. It’s not clear.” I remember having hope and being afraid to hope at the same time. I remember she told me I would need to have an appointment with radiology to confirm. I remember waiting another two weeks without knowing what was going on. I remember praying. I remember trusting that one way or another everything would be okay. I remember believing that God would carry me through it.

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I remember the ultrasound with radiology. I remember the ultrasound tech not being very optimistic. I remember thinking it must be sad to see someone’s dead baby. She wasn’t expecting a heartbeat. She said they rarely see those. It was basically an ultrasound to confirm that my baby was dead. Except she wasn’t. She had a heartbeat. She was alive.

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I am so thankful for God’s protection over us. Breysi Jayde is my miracle. She was dead and now she’s alive.  Was it a mistake? Maybe. We will never know. But my doctor checked again. She was the right person placed in our path to take care of us. Even the nurse’s were surprised that she wanted to check again. But I’m grateful. I always will be.

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I had a rough pregnancy in different ways than with Aliana (my almost three year old). Emotionally it was so hard. I just had to be thankful each day that I carried Breysi, that I got to be her mom for just one more day. I didn’t know if she would be taken from me again and that scared me. I had a high risk pregnancy that went better than expected. I had to be induced, which was terrifying. My first induction was a nightmare. Thankfully, my second went much better. Less complications. Less time. Less pain. Breysi Jayde made her appearance on April 21, 2014 at 11:51pm and she was perfect. I won’t forget holding her for the first time. My miracle was finally here.

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Today she is four weeks old and I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened. I can see how much not only Breysi has grown these four weeks (and before that in my womb), but how much we have all grown. In some ways I feel like we’ve been through a crucible melting away our impurities and forcing us to grow stronger in order to become the people that God wants us to be. These last four weeks have been very challenging for us in very different ways than with our first child. But Breysi is here with us, and for that we are grateful. I try to hold on to that thought every time I am so exhausted and overwhelmed that I burst into tears. I have my baby girl. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. We are so thankful for the children that our Heavenly Father has given to us. We are truly blessed. We give the Lord God all of the honor and glory for everything He has done in our lives, in our hearts, and in the lives of our children.

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I cannot wait to see what the next four weeks have in store and the next four after that.. and so on.. I pray that we continue to grow stronger as a family as we adjust to being a family of four. Thanks for reading and for keeping us in your prayers. Everyone who has taken the time to pray for me, for Breysi, for our family is part of our story as well. Thank you.

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If you didn’t read our story here are the links to our posts about it as it was happening:

My Crazy Pregnancy/Missed Miscarriage/Survival Story

My Crazy Pregnancy Story Update

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

We’ve had so many people ask about the name we picked for our daughter, so I thought I would explain here. It’s Breysi Jayde. The questions are all about Breysi. First of all, it’s pronounced just like it sounds in Spanish. In English it rhymes with Gracie and Macy. I have yet to find a real meaning for the name Breysi in neither English nor Spanish. Here is what it means to us:

Imagine being in a third world country where poverty is the norm and the middle class is a myth of a faraway land. Imagine having a child and not being able to care for her, being so desperate that you threw her out. Maybe you couldn’t stand to listen to her cries because she was hungry. Maybe you had mental health problems and weren’t able to afford proper care and just couldn’t think clearly enough to care for your child. Maybe you were so desperate you didn’t want to go on living any longer either. I don’t know the story of Breysi’s mother, but I do know her story. I met her at Casa Cielo Orphanage in Honduras (where I volunteered for a year) when she was three. She had  been abandoned as a baby, cast off like a piece of trash, and when she was found she was being eaten alive by ants. I’ve heard stories like this on the news, but I’d never met the victim of one. It was hard to see the sweet little toddler and understand why anyone would ever abandon her, especially not to a painful death. But then again, I don’t know her mother’s story. I imagine it must have been an ugly one tainted by enormous trials so great that I can’t even fathom them in order to leave her baby girl to die. Breysi survived and blossomed into a wonderful, beautiful, loving girl. She’s a survivor. She always knew how to bring a smile to my face. To me, the name Breysi means strength, perseverance, and hope. I think of redemption and salvation. She reminds me of the love my Heavenly Father has for me. This sweet little girl had a dark beginning, and her life has only gotten better from there. I am so thankful that she survived and that she got to be part of my life.

Breysi & me

Breysi wasn’t my favorite (I’m not sure you can say that I had one) at the orphanage. She was just the one with the coolest name (in my opinion). All of the children had rough beginnings taken from awful situations of neglect. Almost all were malnourished. They all have had to be such strong kids. They are all survivors of some tragic past. I could have just as easily picked any of their names. The name Breysi is a sort of tribute to all the kids of Casa Cielo Orphanage, the year I spent there, the hardships the kids endured as babies, the trials that came while I was there, the hope that they have for a brighter future and my heart that was forever changed.

My husband went with my daughter and me to the orphanage in 2012 to meet the kids that had had such a great impact on my life. He also saw a similarity in their stories and my pregnancy story and thought Breysi was a fitting name for our child. Baby Breysi Jayde had a rough beginning. You can read about it here if you haven’t already. Just when it was beginning the doctor told me it was ending. I didn’t think that my baby would make it past 10 weeks much less until January. I’m so thankful for where we are at and praying for a healthy baby come April. She’s my miracle and I don’t think I could have picked a more appropriate name for her. She’s strong and we have persevered. We thank Jesus for that.

So, maybe Breysi is a strange name, but we love it.