Christmas 2014 in Pictures

I have so many drafts of posts in process (including Emmy’s 11 months and 12 months posts) but I wanted to get this special post up. We have enjoyed Christmas 2014 so very much, and we are SO thankful for everything that has transpired this season and every day in 2014. It has been an incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding and wonderful year. So I wanted to do a quick “post in pictures” of all our happenings from December 9 through to the New Year!

December 9, 2014 – I completed and passed my final summative piece of PA school, confirming my ability to walk with my class during graduation and long white coat ceremonies, despite having one rotation left. THIS was a very big deal to me – I started with my class in August 2012, and I was determined to walk with them at graduation, even though I had to take some time off for maternity leave. And it worked out that way, Praise God! Before the official ceremonies, we celebrated as a class at Raleigh Brewing Co. complete with pizza and a slideshow!
1December 12-13, 2014 – Long White Coat Ceremony & PA Program Graduation
The long awaited day had finally arrived when I would receive my Long white coat.  I’ve come a long way since getting my Short white coat in August 2012!  I had no idea I would be graduating with a 14-month-old when I started this program but I am so thankful for HIS plans for me! :)

2December 14, 2014 – We played at Carter’s Playce for my nephew Dane’s 5th birthday party! Emmy insisted on sitting at the table with the big kids. She is so growny! The next day, we picked out a tree from the Country fruit stand and then had major toddler meltdowns with the strands of lights during the decorating process.  We also had some fun with them, too. :)

3December 18. 2014 – We had a family fun day! We started out the day in Bass Pro Shops to get our picture taken with Santa.  This was our third attempt at meeting/sitting with Santa, and it was the third time Emmy hated it!  Bless her heart. She loved the shopping though, and tried to pick up a little electric four wheeler all by herself. Tough Girl!


After Bass Pro shops, we headed to Marbles Kids Museum!  It was Emmy’s first trip to Marbles, and she loved it!  She especially loved the little mini corvette, the bassinets with the babies and blankets (she kept taking wrapping them up) and the painting area!

5Since this was my first time to marbles, I had no idea that Keith Norval painted the stools in the creative arts area! I LOVE him and even own one of his pieces!


The following days were filled with more shopping, taking home our sweet crafts from daycare, our first Christmas celebration at the Pearson Open House and mommy practicing some of her clinical skills on Emmy.

6December 21, 2014 – Emmy was an angel in the church Christmas play.  Last year she was Baby Jesus.  We were even more proud of this year’s performance!

IMG_0656December 24, 2014 – We celebrated Christmas Eve with Gigi, Aunt Lindsey, Scott, cousins Karis and Brannon, Aunt Joanna and Uncle Drake and then Christmas Eve night we celebrated with the Sullivan clan!  It was such a fun day/night and Emmy loved all the attention, food, and time with family.  I loved seeing Dustin’s face as he opened a new lens from his mom!  He got so excited and was completely surprised.  The best :)

7December 25, 2014 – Merry Christmas!  We celebrated with our little family by opening gifts and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, then we went to my parent’s for lunch and dinner.  Emmy had so much fun playing with her cousin Dane!

8December 26-28, 2014 – We went to the Valley Creek Lights show in Clayton and Emmy was mesmerized! We also spent the days after Christmas lounging, spending time with family, and celebrating cousin North’s baby dedication! We even got a chance to cook some of the ribeye steaks we won in Dirty Santa :)


We have loved these last few days together before going back to my FINAL rotation and back to work for Dustin.  I’ve had two additional job interviews during my time off so I’m praying for that situation as well!  We spent New Years Eve riding around on our new golf cart (so fun) and went to dinner at Kobe where Emmy devoured her hibachi chicken and shrimp.  She is a good little eater!  I also cherish the time we spent with friends over the holidays, including my dear friends Matt and Amy who live in Baltimore but were in town for the holidays, and my sweet friend Averi and her almost one-year-old Georgia Mac!

1011In many ways I am sad to see this year go.  I loved watching Emmy grow up from a baby to a little toddler over the last few months and I am going to miss these milestones, for sure.  But we also look forward to what 2015 will bring and pray for health, happiness and a peace that can only come from Jesus!




All In

I survived my first day of my very first clinical rotation.  Praise the Lord!  My preceptor, the physician of the practice, had no idea I am expecting but is (thankfully) incredibly understanding.  Actually, she had her first child during her fourth year of medical school and told me she remembers well being on a neurosurgery rotation when she began having contractions.  Talk about understanding what I am going through! I could not have been placed any better.  THAT was a God thing, I’m sure!

Mr. Bear modeling my first DIY tutu for our baby bee!
Mr. Bear modeling my first DIY tutu for our baby bee!

I am on a family medicine rotation and it is a small practice in a relatively small, rural town.  It has been the ideal environment to me. I have loved every person I’ve met so far and I look forward to going in each day, despite the fact that my feet have swollen to seemingly twice their size over the last two days. Yikes!  It is so good to finally be seeing patients and back in a clinical setting again. I miss seeing my classmates, but I am excited to finally be at this point. And every patient is so different. I am finding that I love the variety family medicine offers.

Headed to the White Coat Ceremony for our new PA students and to celebrate Baby Gurley at our first shower afterwards! :)
Headed to the White Coat Ceremony for our new PA students and to celebrate Baby Gurley at our first shower afterwards! :)

Last weekend was an exhausting, but oh-so-fun one.  We had our first baby showers. Friday evening, my PA classmates held a shower for us and it was a great final gathering before we all went our separate ways for rotations. I am still blown away by how much they gave us and how thoughtful they are for having a shower for our sweet girl. One of my classmates actually sewed her a blanket. A BLANKET!! My first thought was “You know you’re in PA school. right?!”  I cannot believe she found time to do something so sweet for our little girl. We are so blessed.

Love this program!


Some of the sweet things given to our little girl from my sweet PA friends!
Some of the sweet gifts given to our little girl from my amazing PA friends!

We then had our second shower, hosted by my mom, Dustin’s step mom, and several other sweet family and friends at the church where I grew up. It was so much fun. I got to pick out some of the decorations and linens, etc. and it all turned out so cute. It was a LOT of Pink, just like I wanted!! :)

Dustin said our practice doll is excited for a touchdown.  Yep. We took this very serious....
Dustin said our practice doll is excited for a touchdown. Yep. We took this very serious….

Two weeks ago we attended childbirth class at the hospital where we plan to deliver. It was an 8-hour session on a Saturday and was kind of exhausting.  It was an informative refresher (I just had an entire didactic unit on obstetrics back in June) and I was glad we attended.  However, Dustin and I could NOT get through the breathing technique practice without laughing. We were the youngest couple there (and we aren’t that young!) and I felt like we were the immature “kids” when everyone else managed to get through the “middle school dance” pose and multiple hee-hee-hee-hoo’s without even cracking a smile to their husbands/wives. It was ALL BUSINESS to everyone in the room — except us!  Oh well.  So much for seriously preparing for our child’s arrival…. ;)

Dustin putting together our changing table!!
Dustin putting together our changing table!!

Dustin has been hard at work to get the furniture together for baby girl. I am getting more excited by the day. We have a 32-week visit tomorrow.  TOMORROW!  So hard to believe.  We are really in the short rows with this pregnancy. Not only am I a full-fledged, on-rotation PA student, but I am also a full-fledged, third trimester preggo woman. We are all in now like never before!


And finally, our crib :)
And finally, our crib :)



PA School Magic

This is what having 20+ people watching your US looks like!

I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to know that being pregnant while being in PA school is a constant struggle.  Of course, we didn’t plan for it to happen this way – but the Lord certainly did.  And while life as a PA student/ pregnant lady is hard 99% of the time, there is that 1% of the time where absolute magic happens.   Fortunately for me, I got to experience that just two short weeks ago and it will be something I will always remember.

The back story: A few weeks ago I was approached by Professor Johnson, one of our faculty members, with a proposal for an opportunity to be an “OB OSCE” patient.  This would entail having all 39 of my classmates watch me receive a full anatomy scan ultrasound.  Mrs. Johnson insisted that I not make a decision without going home to talk to Dustin and really think everything through.  I guess she could tell I was very eager to say yes, and I so reluctantly agreed to sleep on it.

After speaking with Dustin, we discovered we did have some questions about the process and so I met with Prof. Johnson to discuss.  After allaying a few fears, I knew this would be an amazing opportunity that I did not want to miss.  I mean who gets to say they had 39 classmates (practically family members at this point) present to meet your baby in utero?  I could hardly wait!

Finally the day was here and everyone (me and members of faculty) had managed to keep everything a complete secret.  So all my classmates knew is that they would be observing an ultrasound of a “real” OB patient before practicing in the simulation lab.

After listening to a presentation on OB ultrasound, we headed for a bathroom break and I snuck into the exam room to get ready.  Dustin was there with my mom, which was a request I made at the beginning of our planning.  I figured it would be a more realistic scenario if family were present so Mrs. Johnson happily agreed.  We were all prepped and ready for the students to arrive.

When everyone walked in, the feeling of excitement was overwhelming for me. There were lots of “ohhhs” and “awws!” going around the room. When the instructor put the transducer on my belly and sweet baby Gurley made its debut, it was AWESOME.  Everyone’s faces just lit up and there were even a few tears!! I told the sonographer to not hold back any details about Baby Gurley, and so when it came time to obtain the view to determine sex, we let the students guess and we confirmed/announced what Baby Gurley will be!  It was AMAZING!!!  Everyone got excited and giddy and it was just such an incredible experience.

Still from the video of us checking in on Baby Gurley! Abby had just said “This is going to make me cry!” so sweet :)

We watched Baby Gurley yawn, flex fingers, and kick like crazy for almost 20 minutes!  Even the smallest movement would elicit the loudest “Aww” from the group.  I was so proud, so elated, so happy… really, there aren’t enough words to describe it.  It was truly beautiful.  Dustin recorded most of the ultrasound and took some great pictures, and I have loved watching the videos over and over.

Another video still of one of my favorites, Kat, and her excitement at seeing Baby G moving around on screen! Love that girl!

I spoke with Prof. Johnson later the next day and we both were just in awe at how much better the experience was than we were expecting.  I looked over at her a few times during the ultrasound and saw her wiping away tears and just thought about how much bigger this event really is than what I ever thought it could be.

The pregnant body is such a blessing from God.  I am learning every day just how amazing our God is simply by each continued breath I take – a breath which I am in turn giving to my growing baby.  My hope for this experience was that each of my classmates would grow to see a pregnant woman as TWO bodies in one; and to never take for granted that each decision for mom is a decision simultaneously made for the fetus.  I was so naive about pregnancy and obstetrics before I became pregnant myself (and I certainly don’t claim to know it all now.)  But I have learned to be so much more respectful of the pregnant body and the unfathomable miracle that it truly is.  Of course, I know my passion for OB/GYN is fueling much of my intensity regarding pregnancy (my own and in general).  But it is such an important population that we will all inevitably come across in practice at some point in time.  I hope Baby Gurley will leave a lasting, deeply memorable impression. I know our little one has already given that to me.

Ba-bee Gurley at 18 weeks 1 day!


15 Weeks, 5 Days

I cannot believe we are already only a few days away from being 16 weeks along with our sweet little Baby Bee.  Ever since we found out we were expecting, we’ve been calling Baby Gurley our little Baby Bee.  We buy lots of bee things around here because it reminds us of a special time in our life – when the Tar Heel was a SCAD Bee down in Savannah!  Now we can hardly wait to add one more very special Bee to our family this fall :)

We started a garden, the perfect spot for our baby Bee spinning flag!

And as of almost two weeks ago, we now know what our little Baby Bee will “bee”!  We are so excited.  When we went for my 12 week visit and ultrasound, we were presented with the option of doing some testing for chromosomal changes that may indicate serious disorders or syndromes.  I had really wrestled with this, and after speaking to a few friends, had pretty much decided we wouldn’t do any testing.  We figured no matter the outcome of the tests, we wouldn’t change anything.  One of the major perks of being pregnant in PA school is having access to some incredible medical resources.  One of my mentors at school happens to have practiced women’s health for 20+ years. When I mentioned to her we decided against testing, she kindly asked if I cared to know what she often told patients with regard to testing. Of course I was interested to find out. She told me that for many years she carried the same belief that I had – regardless of testing, it wouldn’t change the outcome (with regards to aborting). And that was ok for a while, until she began to see the many couples who opted not to test who ended up having a child with needs who could have benefited greatly from being born in a hospital with every resource available, a decision the parents could have made with the knowledge gained from prenatal testing.  And for those children, every prolonged second of care in transport can significantly impact their quality of life down the road.  I share all of this for anyone who may come across the blog who is trying to make the same decision we were.  Of course, this is not a blanket statement for everyone and each mother-to-be should have a very candid discussion with their partner and physician before making this decision.  But for us, the option to test made a lot of sense, so we went for it.

The test we chose to go with is called Panorama and is a simple blood test (not invasive). The test separates my DNA, the baby’s DNA, and Dustin’s DNA (by a cheek swab) in order to analyze for chromosomal abnormalities.  This test is over 99% accurate for detecting changes of chromosomes 13, 18, and 21.   As an added bonus, it also looks for the X and Y chromosomes which determine the baby’s sex. So, two weeks ago this Friday we got a great test report AND found out what our sweet Baby Bee will “bee”!!  Isn’t medicine amazing?

For now, what our little Baby Bee will “bee” is our little secret. We are keeping it a secret for another little secret we have :) Gosh, secrets are fun when you’re the one who knows them!!!!!!

Here’s some pregnancy stats so far:

Weeks of morning sickness:11.5 (thank goodness we got through that!)

Baby is the size of: Avocado!

Favorite food this week: Watermelon and Chocolate Milk

Babymoon: Ocracoke Island in April!

Maternity Clothes: Still sporting my dresses, tops, and some work pants. Just purchased first pair of maternity jeans!

Thing I miss the most from pre-pregnancy: My beloved Diet Pepsi

Thing I love most about pregnancy: Of course I look forward to seeing our little Bee on U/S, but there’s nothing like waking up each day remembering that our bundle of love is growing stronger each day inside my belly. I am still in awe at the whole process. More superficially, the thicker locks are nice. :)

So far this semester…

Semesters.  I think I measure my whole life in semesters.  I guess I like it so much because it’s easy;  I’ve been doing it non-stop for almost ten years. Yes, in 2014, the year I [finally] graduate, I will have been attending an institution of higher learning for ONE DECADE. That’s TEN YEARS (see I learned a thing or two in college). As an [not-so] interesting side note, I will also have been on Facebook for one decade.  Not sure how I even feel about that. Wait yes, I do know, I feel like I wasted every minute of that decade spent on the time-sucking Facebook. Seriously. Thankfully I have followed suit from many smarter and wiser folks in my life and closed “the book” (or as our Pastor Mike calls it, IMAGE MANAGEMENT – click this link and skip to 2:15 to hear his thoughts) to focus my energy on much more important things in my life, like Instagram ;). Haha, just kiddddding…. Mostly. But seriously, click the link, listen to the clip, then go check your own Facebook page and see if EVERYTHING HE SAID ISN’T TRUE. Talk about stepping on toes.  I love that Hope Community Church keeps it real.

Back to this semester.  Thankfully, this semester seems to be going more smoothly than my first.  I don’t think the quantity of material has gotten any easier to handle, but I am finding myself considerably less stressed, and creating (dare I say it) a new found balance of work and play.  IE: we have tried to see our families more, and one of the best ways has been by going to our niece’s gymnastics competitions.  I cannot even begin to put into words the pride and joy I had seeing her compete for the first time with her team in her pretty purple leotard, up on those uneven bars with beautiful lines and pointed toes.  She was AMAZING!! Taking a break from studying to hangout with her and the fam has been such a blessing to us.

I am also trying to put aside the books and pick up the running shoes again.  The Tar Heel and I are doing the Couch-2-5K training and should be ready for a 5K around mid-march.  Speaking of mid-march, we will also be celebrating two whole years of wedded bliss this March 19. Can you believe it?  I know I can’t.  We have had such a fun past two years together and the best part is knowing the best is yet to come!! :)

Clinical rotations are six months away.  That is CRAZY.  I am soooo excited/nervous.  We had meetings with our advisors last week about where we want to be most challenged and to review rotation preferences.  I found out I will most likely be taking an OB/GYN rotation in Smithfield because I requested a rotation where I can deliver as many babies as possible!! I also found out I will probably be doing a rotation in Ortho at the Durham VA because I want to scrub-in as little as possible. I am happy some thoughts on what type of medicine I’d like to practice are finally coming into view. So far my top three choices would be: 1) Women’s Health 2) Internal Medicine 3) Peds and my bottom three choices would be: 1) Ortho 2) Emergency medicine 3) Geriatrics.  We’ll see if this changes at all by August. I spoke to one of the second year students in our program and she said she has already delivered 25 babies on her OB/GYN rotation (!!!!!!!!), and that rotations have really made it harder for her to choose what she wants to do — eeek! Either way, I just can’t wait.  I am so ready to put what I’ve learned into practice and start real medicine.

 My first sutures, blood draw (on each other!!), and punch biopsy

A Riley burrito, at Karis’ first competition, Riley being my cuddle buddy on V-day while I (sorta) studied, and a RED cork from a bottle enjoyed during the Winter Storm of 2013 (aka a few snow flakes!)

My Valentine’s Day invitation designed by the Tar Heel with these words as the background, watching the planes take off and land from the RDU Observation park, my beautiful Valentine’s gift – a blue diamond necklace (already decided it will be our daughter’s “Something blue” on her wedding day!!), and pretty dessert following the best meal we’ve ever had at Four Square in Durham.