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."