Monday, November 17, 2014

36 weeks - Nursery is officially finished!

Here I am, 3 days into 36 weeks.  Woa!  I can say that this weekend we were able to get officially ready for baby to arrive!  Mentally?  Not so sure!  I am super excited, but I am scared as well.  It will be here before we know it!

Friday night and Saturday afternoon was spent finishing up the shopping for baby's remaining items that were needed as well as last minute household items that we may need so that we are all stocked up.  I did mention to Ryan that after a day of being home from the hospital, I am sure there will be a few things that we still need!  We closed out our registries at Babies R Us and Target and were able to get some great deals on things. 

We spent Sunday putting together any of baby's gear that still needed to be put together, dusting and vacuuming the house, putting away baby's goodies, and getting the car seat put in my car.  Our bags are packed, freezer meals are made, sheets are washed, baby's room is complete, and our Christmas tree is even up!  We did that yesterday too.  We are officially ready for baby girl to arrive, but we would like her to stay in there and keep cooking until at least December 10 or so!  :)  We'll see if she listens.  I have had some talks with her.  :) 

Here are the much awaited photos of her room. 

Ryan was so patient and put all of the frames and wall hangings on the wall.  I can't thank him enough for all the help and work he did to get ready for baby.  He is going to be a wonderful daddy.  The wall hanging with nothing in it will have her birth stats on it with a photo of her inside.  And obviously the frames will have photos of her and us in them!  That beautiful quilt was made by my mom.  I love it.  

Ryan did such a wonderful job making her closet functional.  It used to be just one shelf and a bar and he made it into that!  Her closet and dresser is already full!  And you can't see it, but the entire right corner of the closet is FULL of diapers!  The wall hangings on the right side were made by my Aunt Peggy and has the "I'll Love You Forever" quote on one of them.  The rocking chair was mine as a child from my grandpa and grandma Niemeier.  The "You are My Sunshine" sign special to me because my mom always used to sing it to me and over the past 3 weeks, I have been singing it to Baby Girl a few times on the way to work everyday.  

Again, thanks to Ryan for putting everything on the walls!  I am totally taking credit for putting the diaper genie together though!! Pretty proud of myself. :)  The musical bear on the very top shelf was mine as a baby and it shows it too!  This room has the electrical box in it and our friend Brandon made us that very nice cupboard door to hide it.  We even put up a radiant heater to give her room a little more temperature control.  

Thanks to my wonderful friend Andrea for the pink sign that has the Bible verse, "For this child we have prayed and God has granted what we asked of him."  I teared up when I opened it and it really means a lot to me.  I made the other two.  The one on the right has the quote "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue.  And the dreams you dare to dream, really do come true."  She is our rainbow baby and I can't wait to meet her.  

So here I am at 36 weeks.  I am still feeling really good.  I am feeling lots of soreness in my upper thighs and just a "full" feeling.  My appointment last week went great.  No swelling.  Blood pressure is great.  Baby is head down and sounds good.  No dilation or effacement yet.  

Please continue to pray for my mom and pray that baby girl doesn't make her appearance until into December.  I am determined to make it to Rochester for mom's surgery next week.  I am beyond bummed that I won't be able to stay with my mother and take care of her after her surgery and I know that she feels the same way about not being able to stay with us and the baby right away.  I am so thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives who have volunteered to stay with her and take care of her after this very extensive surgery.  We will never be able to thank you enough.  Again, I can't wait to see Baby Girl in her Nana's arms.  Love you so much mom!  

 And I'll leave you with a photo of our spoiled cat.  He knows something is up and he is not too sure about it.  :) 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

35 weeks!

When we first found out we were pregnant, it seemed that it would take forever to get to 35 weeks!!  Here we are!  The time has gone by so fast. 

I have still been feeling very good this week!  On Monday I picked up some jobst stockings at work, dorky I know.  My feet aren't swelling (yet), but at the end of the day at work my feet would start to ache a little bit.  They have definitely been helping! 

On Tuesday, Ryan and I ventured out into the beautiful sunshine and wind and took our maternity photos.  We are looking forward to seeing them!  It was kind of ironic.  The day we took our engagement photos it was very windy, our wedding day was slightly windy, and the day we took our maternity photos was very windy too!  Oh well, I know they will turn out great.  :) 

I spent Saturday morning for a couple hours making freezer meals.  I was able to get 3 meals completed and into the fridge!  I am planning on doing another 3-4 meals today as well. 

I am also finishing up getting baby girl's room all in order so that I can post some photos.  Last weekend we finished putting a couple more things up on the walls and I had another shower yesterday, so I am working on putting all that stuff away.  As well as packing baby girl's diaper bag for the hospital.  I also found a really cute wood crate thing at Michaels and Ryan is spray painting it for me.  I am going to put her name on it using my Silhouette Cameo and I am going to use it to hold all the rest of baby girl's books that do not fit under her night stand.  She has a ton and I am loving it!  She is going to love books! :)

35 weeks!!! 

On Saturday my sister threw me a wonderful shower with my great friends.  It was a lot of fun to just sit and visit with my friends.  We each brought a snack that we craved during pregnancy or that time of the month.  I brought pickles!  :)  It was such a fun time and I am so thankful for such wonderful friends.  Thanks to all of you!  

Aren't they a great group!  Love them!  

The Andreas ... Tall One and Short One! :) 

And my beautiful sister! I Love you so much! 

Things have been going so wonderful with this pregnancy.  We are so blessed.  Baby Girl is moving around all the time and we are getting closer and closer each day to meeting her.  We are getting very excited for her arrival, but before that time comes, our family is preparing baby girl's Nana for a major surgery.  This week we found out that my mom will undergo brain surgery to remove a benign tumor that is partially wrapped around her left optic nerve.  The surgery will take place at Mayo on Wednesday, November 26 - the day before Thanksgiving.  If I could ask for anything, it is prayers.  Please send your prayers for my mom and our family.  I have faith that God will take care of her and this Thanksgiving we will have SO SO much to be thankful for.  I'm looking forward to the day I get to see Baby Girl in Nana's arms.  

Stay tuned for an update next week!!  This week I start weekly OB appointments and on Thursday, exactly one month from Baby Girl's due date, Ryan and I are going to the Garth Brooks concert!  I've heard it is a good time.  :)  Thanks for your prayers!   

Sunday, November 2, 2014

34 weeks and feeling great!

Well, here we are at 34 weeks already!! Where the time has gone, I am not sure.  What I do know is that Baby Kuenzel's due date is 6 weeks away.  Wow!  It is so hard to believe.  It is exciting and scary all in one! 

The past two weeks have been busy as usual.  We finished up prenatal classes last week which feels really good.  We have been doing them the past 5 Tuesdays and the past 3 Tuesdays they have taken place in St. Paul.  It will be very nice not to make that trek anymore!  Needless to say, we learned a lot and it was very eye opening.  It was good to get us thinking about everything and what we specifically want in our labor and postpartum experience. 

About a month ago I woke up freaking out with the thought, "What if the baby isn't a girl?!"  It was really bothering me.  Yes, I know I could never *really* know for sure until she comes, but I just had to have some more reassurance.  So I put matters into my own hands.  The first thing I did was go online and compare my photo of her gender to other girl ultrasound photos.  Yep, looked alike!  Definitely a hamburger sign present.  Second, I took my ultrasound picture to my physician to get her opinion.  She also concurred that it looked like a girl and not parts that of a boy.  Then she suggested having another ultrasound done for free by the students at Argosy University in Eagan.  Not only could they confirm the gender, but I was told I would be able to have a 3d ultrasound as well. 

33 weeks!

On October 21 Ryan and I went to Argosy to have the ultrasound.  We were both expecting to be in a room with a student and an instructor.  Nope!  We walked into a classroom with a bunch of students!  I laid on the table and the instructor started first and checked everything over and then each student took about 5 minutes practicing.  It was kind of neat and I totally understood what they were going through.  They need to practice too!  I was not able to have a 3d ultrasound because of my anterior placenta.  Baby's face is right up in it and you wouldn't be able to see anything.  It all makes sense.  I often wonder why our ultrasound pictures don't look as clear as others - it is because I have an anterior placenta.  I asked if they could tell me about how big she was.  Nope, that is diagnostic.  What we did find out besides of course being able to see her?  She is a big mover!  I feel her all the time, but if I didn't have an anterior placenta, I can't imagine what I would feel.  She is very active.  We got to watch her breathing and her heart working perfectly.  We got to see some hair on her head and we CONFIRMED she is in fact, a girl.  If she comes out differently, I will be surprised.  It was fun to do. 

On October 25 my mom threw me an amazing shower!  It was just perfect and we received so many wonderful gifts.  We are so thankful for all of you and your support.  We appreciate it very much.  Here are some photos!

Such a cute summer outfit from Nana!

Absolutely beautiful quilt made by Nana!  Love you! 

Super soft and adorable baby blanket made by cousin Danni!

Fabulous quilt made by Auntie Peggy!  Matches baby's room perfectly.

Love this onesie from Auntie Shannie!

Table centerpieces made by Auntie Peggy!  Great job! 

And my family picture - because I love them! :)  

On Sunday after the shower while Ryan went to help in the field I put away all of baby's new goodies and washed and folder her clothes.  It is overwhelming, but it is so exciting too! 

Instead of baby stats this week, I am going to do something different and answer 
Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  How are you feeling?  I am feeling great!!  Seriously.  I often wonder if this is weird and I shouldn't be feeling this well.  I know I am getting larger, getting out of bed is becoming a struggle, bending over is a lot of work, I run out of breath easily, I am dealing with acid reflux and a little heartburn, but seriously.. none of this is worth complaining about.  I feel really good and I hope that it continues.  I am thankful.  

2.  Are you ready to be done?  Of course not.  God has blessed me with this baby and I want to keep her in there as long as she sees fit.  Am I excited to meet her?  Yes!  But after what happened, I can't even begin to complain about being pregnant or wanting to "be done."  I know it helps that I feel so good.  I know that it won't be long and I will start to become uncomfortable and I will long even more to meet her, but I don't ever want to phrase it as "being done."  Honestly, this is my most disliked question and it is the one I hear the most... and I am only 34 weeks. 

3.  Are you sure it is a girl?  Am I sure?  Well, you tell me.  Last I knew there was no way anyone could be 100% sure.  This is kind of like "Are you sure there is only one in there?"  ha. 

4.  Do you have a name picked out?  Yep!  Honestly, we had a boy and a girl name picked out since our last pregnancy.  Both names were the same names that we chose for this baby as well and since we know it is a girl, well, it is STILL the same name.  So technically we have had her name picked out for about a year and a half!  We really like it (obviously) and we pretty much made it permanent a little over a month ago when I ordered something with her name on it.  :)  

5.  Do you realize how much your life is going to change?  Did you just ask a pregnant woman that?  Of course!  Do you know how much I've thought about that?  A lot.  I think about it all the time.  Those who have asked me that often say it like it is a bad thing.  It bums me out.  Is everything going to be roses and sunshine?  No, but we are going to have a child, a child of our own, that we get to love for the rest of our lives.  What a blessing and a WONDERFUL change to our lives.  

6.  What is the baby's name?  Sorry, we aren't even telling our mothers this one!  

7.  Are you getting an epidural?  Yes, I am a fan of western medicine.  They made it and I am using it! 

8.  What is the theme of the nursery?  Theme?  Uhhh.. baby?  Right?  I wasn't about to put monkeys or other characters all over her walls and then have to change it in a year.  It works for other people, but not for us.  It is my practical side. 

9.  Are you going back to work?  Of course I am.  

10.  Are you going to breastfeed?  I am planning on breastfeeding and I am praying all the time it works for us.  We understand the commitment that it requires and we are willing to do it. 

11.  Is this your first baby?  This question is always so hard for me, but I always say yes.  I know no one wants to hear my story, but sometimes I feel guilty saying yes.  We do have an angel in heaven and we will never forget about that baby.  

12.  What has been your favorite gifts?  Handmade blankets and gifts.  I will cherish them forever.  

If you have been pregnant before, I am sure you were asked many of these and others as well.  Most I don't mind, others baffle me.  The ones that baffle me the most, I didn't share. 

We have another busy week ahead of us and on Saturday my sister is throwing me a shower!  I am very excited.  I even started packing my hospital bag this week.  I have been scared to do it in fears that she will show up early.  We are pretty excited and it just blows my mind that our due date is only 6 weeks away!  Crazy!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

32 weeks!

32 weeks and doing great!  I am constantly praying that it continues to go that way!  The last two weeks have gone great, although I am having some new symptoms!

We are continuing to go to our prenatal classes on Tuesday evenings.  We had our breastfeeding class during week 31 and it went well.  We learned a lot and continue to hope and pray that breastfeeding will go well for us.  Week 32 brought the first of our 3 childbirth classes.  We had originally had it scheduled for one full day, but had to change it.  We are making the long trek to St. Joseph's hospital in St. Paul, but it is totally worth it.  We are learning a lot and each class makes it more real!  We are going to be going through labor -- this baby has to come out!  Ryan giggled when he pointed out a spot in the book that was geared towards the partner that said, "Don't take anything personally."  Seriously.  :) 

I had another prenatal appointment last week and it went great again.  My blood pressure is still great and I still haven't gone over 10 pounds in weight gain, which is good for me.  I got my Tdap vaccination and my 32 week packet with lots of information as well as information on pre-registering at the hospital.  It is so hard to believe that it will be here soon. 

This week we went to Wisconsin Dells with Sam, Rachelle, and the kids and stayed at the Wilderness.  We had a fun time, but baby sure made it easy for me to take it easy!  On the very few water slides that I was willing to ride, the trek up the steps sure was a lot of work.  I can tell that baby is really starting to grow and take up space inside of me -- and take my breath away!  I tired very easily and took lots of breaks.  

Here are baby stats this week: 

Size of baby: According to the Internet - a large jicama.  Seriously? Who comes up with that stuff?  And what in the heck is that?  Apparently she is around 3 3/4 pounds - 4 pounds and about 16-17 inches long.  She still has lots of growing to do!

Movement: She is a very busy girl and I am loving it!  I feel her movements all of the time.  I feel a lot of her movements up by my left rib cage, but feel them all over as well.  I love watching her move in my tummy too!  What a miracle!

Sleep: I am still not going to complain about sleep!  I am getting it and that is all that matters!  The last 4 nights I have woke up every 2 hours to pee, but I fall back to sleep right away!  Every morning before I get out of bed I wait for a kick or punch from baby girl.  :) 

What I miss:  Not sure. 

Cravings: Pizza.  It is so good.

Symptoms: Week 31 brought a new symptom for me -- Heartburn.  I have never had heartburn in my life.  Ugh -- gross!  I will fall asleep for a little while and then wake up, sitting up fast with a feeling like I am going to puke and nasty taste in my mouth, throat, and chest.  Yuck.  Tums have been my friend.  I also had one night where I woke up with what I am sure was a Braxton Hick contraction.  And of course, the peeing and the charlie horses.  I am still battling a bad cold.  This will be the third week.  That can go away anytime soon!

Maternity Clothes: Nothing has changed here.  Yes, maternity clothes are necessary.  My normal t-shirts are getting tighter by the day. 

Best moment this week: My heart melts when Ryan feels or sees the baby move.  He gets so excited and it just melts my heart.  I get to feel her all day long and the little bit he gets to feel her is just so exciting.  I love it.  

 Happy Fall!

Week 32!  Not sure if she is as big as that pumpkin yet-- but I feel that way! 

This week will be a fun week.  On Tuesday night we have our second to last childbirth class.  On Tuesday afternoon we are doing something very neat that we will share after we do it!  This weekend my mom is throwing me a baby shower in Grogan.  I am very excited!! It is hard to believe it is getting to be the end of October!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 30! 10 weeks to go!

Yesterday we made it into week 30 which means there are potentially only 10 weeks to go!  It is so hard to believe!  Next weekend marks exactly two months until our due date.  To some that may seem like a long time away, but when you are expecting a new life to come into the world that is your responsibility for the rest of your life... two months isn't long! 

The past two weeks have been great and we have been making quite a bit of progress in the baby world again.  It is going to be non-stop from here out! 

On Sunday I had my first baby shower in Norwood Young America thrown by Rose, Julie, and Ryan's aunts.  It was an awesome shower.  I still can't even believe all of the wonderful gifts that we received and the great support that we have.  It is incredible.  When I got home that evening I took each thing out and showed it to Ryan telling him who it was from, etc.  I felt like it was never ending! 

Here is a photo of all the goodies after I took them out of their bags to show Ryan.  Thank you SO much for the wonderful gifts, cards, good wishes, and just being there for us.  It really does mean so much to us!  We are very thankful. 

The adorable cake made by Rose! Thank you!

My wonderful mother and mother-in-law! 

My great sister-in-law Rachelle! 

On Tuesday night we had our first prenatal class at Amma Parenting in Edina.  It was titled Newborns 101.  The class was good, but I knew a lot of the information from nursing school and taking care of my niece Alaina and Ryan knew a lot from living with his niece and nephew for 8 years as they grew up.  It was kind of comical when we had to go around and introduce ourselves and explain how much interaction we have had with newborns and babies.  All of the men said that they have either A) held a baby once B) never changed a diaper or C) never touched a baby.  Ryan wasn't afraid to mention that he lived with and took care of his niece and nephew from birth to at least 6 years of age, not to mention his own siblings or cousins.  He definitely had the most experience and I wasn't afraid to mention that he has a lot more experience than me!  

Overall, it was a good class and mostly a refresher, but there was a lot of good things pertaining to safety that you can never hear too many times.  Our next class is on Tuesday and it is all about breastfeeding.  Again, I learned all about breastfeeding in nursing school and helped teach mothers how to breastfeed, but when it comes to myself.. well, I don't really know anything and I need the help!  Breastfeeding is going to be challenging and I pray that it will work out for us.  This class will be very helpful for me and even Ryan so that he can help troubleshoot and understand the entire process.  I am very thankful I have a husband (daddy to be) that is so willing to learn and wants to be a part of every step of this.  Thank you Ryan.  

I started putting away all of baby girl's new goodies this week.  Her room is really starting to look like a baby's room with all of the new goodies!  I am in the process of washing everything and putting it away.  This process makes me pretty excited for her arrival.  I even sat down on Friday afternoon and read some of her new books to Baby Girl.  Apparently you're even supposed to be reading to your baby in the womb -- so that is what I was doing! :)  Of course, I couldn't get through "I'll Love You Forever" without crying.  I don't know how my mom read it to us so many times without bawling through the entire thing!  I may have to learn how to control my emotions or maybe it won't be as bad since I won't be pregnant anymore!  :)

As a I was putting stuff away the other night, Buttons wasn't being so helpful.  He knocked over a stack of Baby Girl's new books and decided to sit on them, but he looked oh so cute.  Of course the only thing that I could do was take a picture! :)

 On Thursday of this past week I had my first biweekly prenatal appointment.  I have biweekly prenatal appointments until about 36 weeks and then I will go weekly.  The appointment went great.  Baby sounded great and I explained how much I am loving all of her movements.  I can tell when she is doing a full movement in my belly and when she is just giving me kicks or punches.  She has recently starting using my bladder as a trampoline.  It is kind of annoying, but I'll take it! :)  My blood pressure was right on target at 125/71 and heart rate was great at 81.  Best of all, I have only gained 10 pounds.  The doctor congratulated me and said that they are okay with moms gaining 10 pounds at the halfway point.  Well, I am quite a bit past that and I am doing great.  The pounds will start creeping up over the next few weeks that I get to meet our baby girl. 

I got Rhogam this week since I have A- blood and if Baby Girl has + blood, my antibodies could attack her.  I also received it after my miscarriage and will receive it again after birth to protect any future births.  Ya know what else I got this week?  My flu shot!!  I would encourage you to get yours as well if you haven't yet!  I am urging any family members of ours to receive their flu shots and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) since Baby Girl will be born in the thick of flu and pertussis season.  We want to do what we can to keep her safe.  Ryan is getting his flu shot tomorrow and we will set up an appointment for him to get his Tdap when I get mine in two weeks.  It is very important. 

Week 30 Baby Stats:

Size of baby: According to the internet she is the size of a large cabbage.  That simile is hard for me.  In normal terms, she is about 17 inches long and over 3 pounds.  She has almost reached her birth length, but she has a long way to go in the developing department.  But really, she is getting big!  She is going to start growing exponentially and my photo above shows it.  I don't want to know what I am going to look like at 39 weeks.  Uffda!  

Movement: Since I really started feeling her big movements, I have began to feel the difference in them.  I know when she is just giving me kicks and punches and I know when she is moving and squirming around in there!   It is fun to SEE her move as well!  Sometimes she kicks right at my bladder and it makes me nervous about what could happen in the future if she keeps that up!  Yesterday I rolled onto my side and she was like a drum in there.  It amazes me every single time!  Sometimes she catches me so off guard with a big kick that it still startles me!  All I have to say -- stay in there baby! 

Sleep: For the most part sleep is still pretty good.  I have been using that body pillow since about 20 weeks and it really is necessary.  I've noticed that sometimes I wake up on my back and I can feel that my heart is racing and I have trouble breathing.  Back to my side I go!  The past week I have also started having to use the bathroom multiple times throughout the night.  That obviously has something to do with her using my bladder as a trampoline! 

What I miss:  Bending over normally?  Seriously, I look like a dip when I bend over.  You can't just bend straight over with a big belly in the way.  Oh, and I still miss sandwiches.  First meal after birth please?  Thank you. 

Cravings:  Cereal.   I always want cereal as a snack. 

Symptoms: Peeing.  I have to pee.  Funny though, I have to pee much more during the night than during the day.  I am starting to get tired easier.  I haven't really started swelling yet (a little in my ankles), but I am nervous each day that I put my wedding ring on.  As soon as I get a hint of swelling that thing is coming off!  I am not about to get that beautiful ring cut off my finger (I had a friend who did)! 

Maternity Clothes: Totally necessary!  And they are comfy.  I have been wearing some of my normal t-shirts, but I definitely stretch them out when I wear them. 

Best moment this week: I have a couple!  Like I mentioned above, my shower was just great.  I am very thankful for everything that we received and all the wonderful people in our lives supporting us.  The next one?  Putting away and "playing" with all these baby goodies.  It is sure getting me excited to finally meet our little one.  It is hard to believe that it won't be long and she will be in our arms, not in my belly.  And finally, hearing her heartbeat at my 29 week, 5 day appointment.  Why it was so neat this time?  It was the first time during my entire pregnancy that I wasn't afraid to go to my appointment or hear (or not hear) her heartbeat.  Will I still be afraid the rest of my pregnancy that something could happen?  Yes, but feeling her move around inside me so much during the day is so reassuring.  

Well, I am off to finish washing and folding Baby Girl's clothes.  They are much more fun to wash and fold than our clothes!   :)  Thanks for your support! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome to the THIRD Trimester!

You read that right!  We have now officially entered the THIRD trimester and as always, time is flying by!  I am just so happy and thankful that everything has been going so well and I have really been able to enjoy this pregnancy.  Apparently Baby Kuenzel's due date is about 80 days away which seems like a lot.. but it really isn't!  We have SO much going on between now and then that it is going to fly by! 
26 weeks and feeling great! 

At 25 weeks I had another OB appointment - my last appointment before I move to every 2 week appointments!  I was able to hear baby's strong heartbeat again and I talked to my OB about fetal movement.  I was kind of worried because I didn't feel her that much and I didn't know if that was normal or not.  She informed me that I had an anterior placenta (my placenta is in front of the baby) and could be absorbing some of baby's movements.  I also had to do the dreaded one hour glucose test to begin screening for gestational diabetes.  Well, to say the least, I failed.  My sister said it must be a Niemeier thing because she failed too.  Apparently 1/3 of women fail that test.  

So after failing the one hour glucose test you have to take the even more dreaded 3 hour glucose tolerance test.  Ugh.  They make you (a pregnant woman) fast for 12 hours and show up at the lab.  They draw your fasting blood and then make you drink a very sugary drink (100grams of sugar in 100mL).  To make a comparison, I was looking at a bottle of Sunkist yesterday and it had 72grams of sugar in 521mL.  Big difference.  Then they make you sit there for three hours and they check your blood glucose levels at the end of every hour for three hours.  Uff da.  I was pretty antsy and had a hard time just sitting there (I mean, when do I ever sit still?), but I made it through.  The news... I passed!  I do not have gestational diabetes!  As soon as I got into my car I ripped into my peanut butter sandwich I had saved for myself.  Ahhh. :)  

Week 27

27 weeks brought some excitement!  On Friday, the 12th we were at the BP football game and I was getting kicks and punches like I had never felt before!   On Monday night I was laying in bed holding my belly as I had been feeling some more of those strong movements and sure enough, I felt her kick me from the outside!  I couldn't believe it.  I got up and ran out to the living room to tell Ryan and headed back into bed to feel it some more.  Sure enough, she kept it up!  Since then I have been getting lots of kicks, jabs, and punches and I am absolutely loving it.  I can't even begin to explain how amazing this feeling is.  Sometimes she does it so hard and catches me so off guard that it completely startles me!  Ryan makes fun of me because it makes me jump.  I have even been able to SEE her move from the outside.  How cool is that?  A miracle, that's for sure.  As for Ryan, he has yet to feel Baby Girl.  She is playing hide and seek with him at this point.  Ryan and my brother-in-law John have a theory that it is because when they (John would try with his daughter Lainey) would put their hand on the belly it would have such a calming effect that she wouldn't kick and when they take away their hand (the calming effect), the baby gets upset and kicks.  Sure boys, keep your theory. :)  I'll take all the kicking I can get! :)

On Wednesday we had our Family Birth Center tour at Methodist Hospital.  Absolutely incredible!  They just opened their new family birth center last year and it is beautiful.  I have seen labor and delivery units before and this place takes the cake.  From the labor rooms to the recovery rooms, the waiting areas, the equipment, the available options, the security, the proximity of the operating unit on the same floor, as well as the NICU if it is needed.  Not to mention the knowledgeable nurses and staff.  I left that place in awe.  I am so thankful I have been provided the opportunity to give birth to our baby at such a wonderful facility. Ryan was pretty impressed that they have a snack area that he can dig into whenever he wants.  He is going to need it!

We've had a few people wonder why we are giving birth at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.  Lots of "isn't that too far away?"  No.  It is not.  First of all, it is a no-brainer.  I have wonderful insurance through Park Nicollet and will pay $250 for my delivery.  I refuse to go to a different hospital and have to pay more.  Second, the likelihood that I will go into labor during rush hour is lower than other times of the day and I drive to and from work during rush hour every day of the week and it take me tops 45 minutes.  What if it is snowing?  We will cross that bridge when we come to it.  And what if it happens during the 9.5 hours of the day, 5 days of the week that I am at work?  Well, then I just need to drive down Excelsior Blvd and I will be at Methodist Hospital in 5 minutes! :)  Honestly, this is what Ryan is hoping for!  I am a little nervous that my water will break during a surgery or something.  Oh well, we will cross that bridge when we come to it and through some way and some how.. I will get somewhere to give birth! :) 

28 weeks- third trimester!!  Don't worry, that blanket and pillows in the crib will not stay there.  They are just for show right now and will move to the rocker recliner soon enough.  

So that brings us to today!  Today we are 28 weeks, 1 day and tomorrow is our 2nd wedding anniversary!!  Ryan left about an hour ago to spend the week up in Thief River Falls at Arctic Cat school.  It will be a lonely week without him, but I got my little baby kicking me all the time to keep me company (not to mention Buttons).  I am going to stay busy with work, finish up cleaning the house, getting up to date on my pregnancy scrapbook, and working on a wedding scrapbook for my best friend.  

These next 80 days are going to FLY by!  We are going to the Wild game on Saturday night with Russell and Meghan and my mother-in-law and Ryan's aunts are throwing me my first baby shower on Sunday.  The following two Tuesday evenings we have two prenatal classes and will learn all about breastfeeding and newborn care.  On Oct. 12 we have an all day prenatal class learning about childbirth, over MEA we are going with Sam and Rachelle and the kids to the Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells, and the last Saturday in October my mom is throwing me another baby shower.  Not to mention we've got to fit in going to the apple orchard with our niece Alaina sometime in there! :)  November will bring another baby shower, hunting for Ryan, Thanksgiving, and lots of getting ready for baby!  

I am so excited, but I am getting very nervous too!  I had a little freakout moment with Ryan the other night and I just kept telling him, "somehow, someway, this baby has to come out of me!"  But for now, please stay in there and keep cooking! :)  I just keep praying it all continues to go well.  We sure have a lot to be thankful for! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections one year later...

Disclaimer:  This post is about my [our] journey and reflections after the loss of our baby on September 3, 2013.  This is MY story and I am doing this for me.  I've been thinking about it for a year and I want to get my words and feelings in writing.  I want you to know that I understand that there are people and specifically family and friends of my own who have gone through much worse than Ryan and I went through.  I have family and friends who struggled immensely to get pregnant and some who may never be able to become pregnant.  I have family and friends who also suffered through miscarriages and even multiple miscarriages.  I have both family and friends who carried their babies much longer than I only to have their beautiful child's life end in stillbirth or pass away shortly thereafter.  I have family and friends who struggled with cancer at a young age [or any age] and still others who have beautiful children that have to live with a medical condition their entire lives.  I do not in any way want my story to lessen what they are going through.  If anything, I have hope that I can connect with them on a deeper level and maybe understand a tiny bit what they are going through.

Where do I begin?  At the beginning of course.  Ryan and I found out we were pregnant with our first child on July 17, 2013.  We were so excited.  Who wouldn't be?  If you have ever been pregnant [or had a significant other who was] you understand that as soon as you become pregnant, you start planning your life with that little one in it.  You dream about your baby.  Will it be a boy or girl?  Who will it look more like?  What will they be like?  How will your family change?  You dream about your baby in your future.  It may sound crazy, but even though you can't see that you're pregnant yet or feel your baby inside of you... you do have a feeling that you have a baby inside of you.

Alaina was very excited to help us announce!  Her onesie says "Only grandchild" [crossed out], Big Cousin."

The doctor was unsure of how far along we were so we had an ultrasound at 7 weeks, 5 days.  We were both able to see the baby's heart beating and we got a due date of March 26, 2014.  It was so neat to see.  

During the time that I was pregnant (11 weeks), miscarriage and stillbirth only crossed my mind a couple times.  I read a little bit about it and knew it was a possibility, but to be completely honest, I was naive.  It is not that I didn't think it would happen to me, I just didn't really think about it happening at all.  Should have I?  I don't know.  There was no reason to live my pregnancy in fear and I already worry about everything the way it is.  And if I did think about it as a possibility, there is no way that you can be prepared for that.

Ryan and I spent Labor Day weekend with family up in Duluth.  I love Duluth and it was a beautiful weekend.  On Friday evening after we had just announced to Sam, Rachelle, Colton, and Bailey that we were pregnant, I went to the bathroom to find that I was very lightly brown spotting.  I tried not to get too panicked, but I did anyways.  Luckily,  my sister-in-law who was with me is an OB nurse and I chatted with her right away.  We decided that we would just wait and see what happened.  I wasn't having any cramping and it wasn't frank red bleeding.  Many women spot throughout their entire pregnancy.

We waited it out and I tried to have a good weekend, but the thoughts running through my head were devastating.  Throughout the weekend I continued to have brown spotting, most of the time passing small clots.  Ryan did everything he could to make me feel better and keep my spirits up.  I know he was nervous and scared too, but he had to be strong for me.  I'll never forget laying in bed in the camper on Sunday night with tears streaming down my face.  I knew it.  I knew our baby was gone.  Monday we had plans to go to the MN State Fair and go to the Tim McGraw concert.  The brown clotting was increasing and I was starting to get some light cramping and pain in my lower back, but I didn't want to forgo the fair or the concert.  We tried to have a good time.

On Tuesday I made an appointment with my doctor after work.  If I could go back and change anything about that it would be to have had Ryan at that appointment.  I guess it didn't even cross my mind that he should be there.  I told my doctor the story and he checked and found that my cervix was still intact.  He then used the doppler to hear the heartbeat.  He couldn't find it, but reminded me that it can be hard to find anyways at 11 weeks.

He sent me down for an ultrasound.  It was absolutely horrible.  I was already crying before the tech even began.  I knew.  She did the ultrasound and as soon as it came up on the screen I knew right there that the baby's heart wasn't beating.  I started bawling.  I couldn't move.  I'll never forget how rude the ultrasound tech was.  I went back up to the exam room to talk to my doctor.  He was so caring and compassionate.  I don't think I could have made it past that moment if he hadn't been, especially since the ultrasound tech was so rude.

Next came my options.  Option #1: I could wait.  How long?  He said it could possibly be a month before I could pass the baby on my own especially since my cervix was still completely intact.  It could be quite painful too.  Option #2:  He could give me a vaginal cream that could help dilate my cervix and pass the baby sooner.  Also a waiting game and painful.  Option #3:  D&C or dilation and curettage.  This is a surgery in which they would put me under and remove the baby from my uterus.  I couldn't bear to wait, nor did I have the courage or the strength to pass it on my own.  It sounds horrible, but I had to have the baby out of me.  We scheduled the surgery for two days later, Thursday, September 5.

The drive home from the clinic was absolutely horrible.  I bawled and I didn't know how I was going to tell Ryan.  How do you tell your husband that his baby is gone?  I felt so guilty.  Ryan was sitting on the couch and I remember just collapsing on him and crying my eyes out.  I just kept telling him I was so sorry.  I couldn't help but think it was my fault.  I was the one carrying the baby.  What did I do wrong?  Still to this day I think back and wonder about different little silly things and it is useless.

The surgery went very well.  I cried that morning all the way to the hospital and when I returned that afternoon I was welcomed home by my mom and beautiful flowers from my grandmother who knew just what I was feeling.  She not only suffered one, but four miscarriages.  My mom stayed overnight with us and Ryan's work so graciously let him off for a few days to be with me.

When the pathology report came back, nothing came back as "abnormal."  It was just a spontaneous miscarriage.  The pathology report stated that the growth of the baby stopped at about 8 weeks, 5 days.  This means that it wasn't long after Ryan and I had saw our baby's heart beating on the ultrasound that our baby went to heaven.  It also means that my body went a long time before it decided to even begin to tell me that something was wrong.

The pain didn't stop after I had the surgery.  I think it only got worse.  I had a lot of dreams about the baby and I had an extreme fear about getting pregnant again.  I would cry everyday before and/or after work.  Every day when Ryan would get off work he would find me in bed.  I was having pretty bad separation anxiety until about December.  I hated being away from Ryan.  I was scared that I was going to lose him too.  Leaving him for work every morning was so hard and I would do everything I could with him when we weren't at work. 

I'll never begin to be able to thank Ryan enough for the strength and comfort he provided me with throughout the entire process.  Our love for each other and our relationship grew so much because of this.  He may not have been carrying the baby and had the same connection with it that I did, but he was still that baby's daddy.  It still hurt him. 

We are so thankful for the wonderful people in our lives who comforted us during that hard time [and still now throughout this pregnancy].  It is a situation in which the words in which to say are not always easy to come up with.  Sometimes the best thing was just a hug and letting us know that you cared.  I received a lot of messages and stories from others who suffered miscarriages and/or stillbirths.  Some women telling me that they didn't have anyone else to talk to because no one really understands what they are going through.  I received messages and cards from others just letting me know they cared and that they are there for us.  It meant the world to us.  When a miscarriage happens, society makes it feel like it should be pushed under the table when in actuality, 1 and 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.  That is a huge number that I wasn't aware of until I had my own. 

Although people tried so hard to make us feel better, there are just some things that hurt more than anything.  Many of those things begin with "at least."  At least it happened early.  At least you never got to hold your baby.  At least you didn't know if it was a boy or a girl.  At least you can always get pregnant again.  Others included: It was God's will and everything happens for a reason.  We were also extremely offended by someone who told us that our baby was a misfortune.  We even had a friend ask us when we were going to get pregnant, wondering if Ryan had slow swimmers.  My eyes teared up and I did not hesitate telling him that we had just suffered a miscarriage.  The best you can do is think about what you say before you say it.  If you aren't sure, just be there, listen, and acknowledge it as a loss of a child. 

We want to thank everyone for the kind words, sweet cards, and gifts that we received.  I will cherish them forever and I have made a box specifically for this baby and all of its keepsakes.

Flowers from my Grandma Evie

 These two photos were from my mother-in-law Rose.  Right after it happened she went to the cemetery to see her parents.  She had never really noticed it much before, but when you first entered the cemetery was the first photo, which is so fitting.  Then when she went to her parent's headstone she couldn't help but notice the tiny little flower growing all by itself off to the left of their headstone.  When she texted me these photos she wrote "I drive by there a lot, but for some reason needed to stop and talk to mom.  When entering I noticed the sign and then the flower, not a weed.  It was almost like mom was saying the baby is with us."  It was perfect. 

I received this stone from Rose that sits in our landscaping out front.  I see it every time I look out our picture window.  My mother gave me the most heartfelt card with a poem that anyone would expect from their own mother.  I love you both so much!

At Thanksgiving I received this charm from Ryan's aunt Jean.  It is perfect.

For Christmas my mother-in-law Rose gave me this beautiful sun-catcher.  It hangs in our big picture window and I look at it all of the time.  The three birth stone colors are the birthstones for the month of conception (June), miscarriage (September), and the baby's due date (March).  It is beautiful.

When our due date came (March 26), little did we know we were pregnant with the wonderful blessing of a baby that I am currently over 25 weeks pregnant with.  I received the beautiful flowers from my Grandma Evie and the angel from Rose.  The angel sits right at our front door and it is always a reminder of our sweet baby in heaven. 

I also received a wonderful card from my mother and a poem from Ryan's aunt Jean.  It is not a coincidence that the poem I received from Ryan's aunt Jean is the same poem that my mother gave us back in September when we lost the baby.  We love you both very much!  Below is the poem. 

What Makes A Mother
I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today
I asked, "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard him say
A Mother has a baby
This we know is true
But, God, can you be a mother
When your baby's not with you?
Yes, you can he replied
With confidence in his voice
I give many women babies
When they leave it is not their choice
Some I send for a lifetime
And others for the day
And some I send to feel your womb
But there's no need to stay.
I just don't understand this God
I want my baby here
He took a breath
and cleared his throat
And then I saw a tear
I wish I could show you
What your child is doing Here
If you could see your child smile
With other children and say
"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear,
but My mommy loved me so much
I got to come straight here!"
I feel so lucky to have a Mom who
had so much love for me
I learned my lessons very quickly
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day
When she goes to sleep
On her pillow is where I lay
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear
"Mommy, Please don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I am here"
So you see my dear sweet one
Your children are okay
Your babies are here in My home
And this is where they'll stay
They'll wait for you with Me
Until your lessons there are through
And on the day that you come home
they'll be at the gates waiting for you
So now you see
What makes a Mother
It's the feeling in your heart
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start
~Author Unknown

A Father's Grief
It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief,
Since "men don't cry"
and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.
It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.
They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, but how are you?"
He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But "stays strong" for her sake.
It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.
Author Unknown

I was so scared to get pregnant again, but yet I longed for a baby.  It was hard to watch everyone else get pregnant and have babies and somehow try and be okay with the fact that you had to give your baby back.  It took awhile, but I eventually became at peace with it.  People kept asking when we would get pregnant and I just flat out told them that I was scared and we would when the time was right.  The doctor suggested waiting at least two cycles.  We waited over six months before we began trying to have a baby again. I don't know that I was ever really ready to become pregnant.  It had to just happen.  I've tried so hard not to live this pregnancy and fear and paranoia and I think I have done well. 

I can say that I've learned so much throughout this journey about life, love, and myself.  But what I have learned the most?  Pregnancy and having a baby is a privilege.  Having children is a privilege.  I can no longer stand to hear women complaining about being pregnant or complaining about their children.  Cherish it!  There are women and families who would give anything to be in your shoes!  Having a baby is not a given.  It is a privilege.  A privilege that I wake up every day thanking God for.  Am I scared right now to be carrying this child?  More than ever!  How do I know that my dreams aren't going to be shattered tomorrow?  I don't, but I have faith in God that this baby is for us to keep.  Each time I feel that little baby girl move in my tummy, I breathe a sigh of relief.  When I think about the day that I get to hold this rainbow baby girl in my arms and see my husband hold her, I start crying.  It is going to be a miracle that I will never forget.  I am so lucky to be 25 weeks, 3 days pregnant today.  God is great.

So that is my story.  I'm sorry it was long, but it took a lot of courage to share my feelings.  Did I make it through this without crying?  Of course not.  We are blessed.  We wouldn't be expecting the blessing that we are today if we wouldn't have lost our first baby, but we will also never, ever forget about our first baby.  He or she will always be a part of us.  Ryan and I joke around sometimes and say that he/she is up in heaven playing with Ryan's cousin Jordon and taking turns sitting on the laps of Grandpa Howard, Grandpa David, Grandpa John and Grandma Della, and Grandpa Carrol and Grandma Betty.  What a lucky baby!

Thank you SO much for the love and support you have given us throughout this journey and the prayers you've provided.  None of it has gone unnoticed.  We thank God everyday for where our lives have brought us.

"A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart."  
"I carried you every second of your life and I will love you every second of my life."