"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yes, Twice

I know you all stay confused when it comes to how I post.  For years I posted with extreme regularity, but since Alex & Emma died I have been less than predictable.  I go a week or two without a word and then I have days like today when I am writing my second post for the day.  I wrote the previous post because I was so thrilled to share with you the difference in research that Emma & Alex are making.  I'm writing this time for other reasons.  Multiple reasons.  It has been brought to my attention that I never posted about our helicopter tour over Oahu.  Oops! 
Magnum Helicopter Tour... doors off
I was wound up in the front seat, squished between Pilot Jim to my left and Drew to my right.  While I didn't have completely unobstructed views, I also felt like my chances of staying safely in the helicopter were much better! 
Me getting buckled in...
 Ready to go!
 Flying over Waikiki.  See the pink hotel on the beach?  There's a taller building just to the right (also a bit pink & still part of The Royal Hawaiian), just to the right of that is where we stayed all week... The Outrigger. 
 Diamond Head.  The highest peak on the right... that's what we climbed to on our last day there.  Drew is still less than impressed that we did that!  It was beautiful from the air, though. 
This is actually Gilligan's Island.  For real.  The island that is shown at the end of the opening credits... it's this island!  The white stuff all around it is coral.  
It was rainy & foggy when we flew over the area where Jurassic Park, The Hunger Games, Lost (and many more) were filmed, so we didn't get to fly all back in there, but just seeing it at all was impressive.  (Pilot Jim says that you never fly your helicopter where you can't see.  Good advice!) The mountains and vegetation were so amazing that I felt quite certain we were going to see a dinosaur at any moment! 
This is just an old air field on the North Shore, but you sort of see how big the waves break on the North side of the island.  
Pilot Jim was trying to show us a circle rainbow (since we were right on the edge of the rain storm) and we did see one, but I couldn't manage a photo.  I'm really just sharing this picture to make the point that this wasn't a ride for the faint of heart.  The helicopter was sideways at this point.  It was exciting and thrilling... and I was quite happy to have a big strong man sitting on each side of me! 
 The Dole Pineapple plantation. 
 The USS Arizona.  You can see the ship on the bottom of the harbor, the memorial that is built over it and even the trail of oil leaking out to the left. 
 The USS Missouri... the battleship that we had toured the day before. 
 And the final product... a VERY wind blown Mandy & Drew standing on solid ground after the flight! 
Okay, does that cover it?  I hope so.  The pictures don't even come close to touching on how completely awesome it was.  It was completely worth every penny we paid to do it and if you ever find yourself on Oahu then I highly recommend Magnum Helicopter Tours.  I feel completely bummed that I didn't get a good photo of Pilot Jim.  He was really playing the Magnum PI thing up, complete with the mustache, ball cap, Hawaiian shirt and aviator glasses.  It was almost like having Tom Selleck right there with me.  Lol. 

In other news... yesterday Drew & I went to the regular OB check up with Birth Mom.  Everything was looking great and Ellie's heart beat was strong and healthy.  Drew left early this morning for Nashville (his first official day with the new company and he is on his way to a BIG meeting!), but I will be going to the ultrasound this afternoon.  Ellie is officially at 29 weeks gestation, which means that we have 11 weeks until her due date!  It's been three weeks since the last ultrasound and I'm excited to see my baby on the screen again.  The last appointment went so well and I'm hoping for another great visit and that Ellie will show off for me just a bit!  Yesterday we were standing in the doctor's office hallway, making our next appointment, when Birth Mom said, "Oh!  She's moving!"  I swear to you that I had my hands on that poor girls belly before she even knew what was happening!  She has told me over and over that that is okay and that she wants me to feel the baby move, but I just about attacked her at the very thought of getting to feel Ellie move!  For the record, Birth Mom's face turned beet red at my excitement & invasion of her personal space and Ellie refused to move again.  Maybe today?  Surely in the weeks to come.  We are now to the point that Birth Mom will see the OB every two weeks until her 36th week and then every week until Ellie arrives! 
I had a dream about Ellie a few nights ago.  She had hair.  Lots of dark hair.  I told Drew all about it and he thinks she will be closer to bald!  In some ways, expecting Ellie is a bit like when we were expecting Emma.  When I was pregnant with Emma, I could not imagine how she would be any different than Alex.  My mind just wouldn't allow it.  Then that crazy Emma was born in a flash and I was holding this completely unique individual.  She wasn't her sister.  She wasn't like any other baby I had ever known.  She was her very own little person and I was awed.  In that way, expecting Ellie is the same.  What will she look like?  Will she have hair? Will it be dark and blonde?  Will she be chubby or skinny?  What will her personality be like?  Will she be chill and relaxed or wound up and making sure everyone knows she's here?  They are questions that we can't help but wonder.  At the same time, we are absolutely aware that she won't be exactly any of these things, because she will be 100% her own version of herself.  I don't know what that will be, but that's part of the excitement and anticipation.
We went to see Braeden's 1st grade performance last night (I'll share pictures of that later) and we ran into some friends from church.  They just happen to have a new baby boy and I got to hold him.  He is precious, but it was weird because of where my mind was going.  I had so much running through my mind as I held him and stared.  I wondered what it will be like to hold Ellie for the first time and if I will have that weird, "Who is this baby?" feeling or if something will click and I will know she is mine.  I worried about that for a few minutes and then I realized that I had similar feelings when we were expecting Alex.  Drew & I had really strange conversations as we wondered if she would be cute.  What if she wasn't cute?  Would we know or would we think she was cute anyway?  (Seriously, the worries of first time parents!)  Then Alex was born and we immediately knew that she was the most beautiful child ever born and all our worries had been moot!  Haha!  I also wondered if I would know Alex.  Really KNOW her.  If the nursery brought me the wrong baby, would I know?  If they did a baby line up and made me pick my baby, would I be able to?  I still don't know the answer to that!  I'd like to think that I knew her, but there's a decent chance that that isn't true.  At least not in the first moments after she was born.  That comforts me, actually.  It comforts me because, while Alex & Emma were born from my body, I didn't KNOW them until they were born.  They were in my heart, absolutely, but I didn't KNOW them.  Not yet.  I came to know them with every moment I watched them grow.  Each time I fed them, changed them, cared for them, played with them.  I came to know them as we lived that new life together as a family.  Why does that comfort me?  Because Ellie will not be born of my body, but she is absolutely already in my heart.  She's there.  Right now.  In my heart.  I can feel her.  I wouldn't be able to pick her out of a baby line up right now and we will never share the same blood, but she is in my heart and we will figure the rest out as we go.  Oh!  This is getting exciting! 

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