Saturday, May 13, 2017

24 Week Pregnancy Update

Well hello there! I've been pretty MIA from this blog during this pregnancy so far. I've been wanting to hop on and document some things, but just haven't sat down to write it.  I wanted to note some things while they're still on my mind so I'll have these memories to look back on too. 

Where it began: Of course many of you know we experienced an unfortunate loss during our first pregnancy in October. Shortly after we found out we were expecting, we experienced a miscarriage. (I wrote about it on the blog a few posts back if you missed it). Those were long days and weeks for me not knowing what our future held in terms of having a baby. The enemy tries to get your mind to believing lies and negative thoughts, so we were't sure what to expect when we were ready to start trying again. I got the midwife's advice on when we could start trying again and carried on each day trying to trust the Lord's plan.

As December went on, I started to have suspicions we were pregnant again. I had nausea, bloating, waking up to pee during the night (which I didn't do before pregnancy), and other unmentionables, which were all the same early pregnancy symptoms I had with our first pregnancy. Nick had the idea to wait until Christmas Day to take a pregnancy test. Honestly it was hard to wait! I kept asking him if we could just take the test already but he thought it would be neat to wait. He was right - it was a really special day to get that news together. 

It was also hard not to tell my parents the good news when they came over Christmas morning to enjoy the day together, but we knew we wanted to wait until after our first doctor appointment to share the news with others. As January went by, it got so hard not to tell our families or co-workers! My parents ended up being sick for two weekends in a row around my birthday when we planned to tell them, so we finally got to break the news to our families when we were 10 weeks along. I put a sandwich bun in our oven and asked my mom to check the oven with my dad right there. It was a fun/funny way to tell them as they looked at us confused about why we had a piece of bread in the oven. I remember after I said to my mom, "It's a bun, right? In the oven?" Trying to trigger the thought in her mind then my dad asking "what does that mean?!" in the moment of shock trying to understand what we were telling them as my mom had her ah-ha moment. :)  With the rest of our family living away, we used FaceTime/phone calls to share the news. 

Here are some pictures we have of our baby girl at ultrasounds we've had. It's such a miracle to watch her and feel her grow. As she kicks in my belly as I write this post, I'm in awe of the Lord's creation and grateful for this sweet life. 

We've been taking bump pics every 2 weeks so here are our pics for the first half of this pregnancy. 

Here was one of my pre-pregnancy test pics when I was already seeing some bloat from the pregnancy hormones. 

We chose to do prenatal bloodwork to help know if the baby was looking healthy and on track. Honestly after experiencing our miscarriage, I was so nervous about anything happening. Plus, I found out at 6 weeks pregnant that I have 2 mutations of the MTHFR gene which can lead to increased frequency of miscarriages, infertility issues (as well as fibromyalgia, heart disease, etc.). Many doctors aren't very well versed about MTHFR (luckily my chiropractor is and helped me understand what steps to take), but for some women it means blood can clot between the mom and baby causing the baby to not get nutrients they need though the umbilical cord. So I wanted any piece of mind that we could get if things were looking okay with the baby.

One perk of that additional bloodwork, is it can tell you earlier if you're having a boy or girl. So we were excited to find out just shy of 15 weeks that our baby is a girl. We shared the news with our families living away from us using hershey bars where we colored the SHE of "hershey" with a red marker so they'd open this wrapper to see the baby is a SHE! We had them open the candy bars at the same time so everyone (in IA/CA/NE) would find out at the same time. 

I made rice krispy treats and added pink candy coated chocolates and pink sprinkles and took them over to my mom's for our gender reveal with them that same night. I caught their reaction to learning they're having a granddaughter :)  I had extra treats from the batch I made so I took them to work to have a reveal for my co-workers which was fun too. 

It's been such a blessing to walk through this pregnancy with my friend Hannah who is ahead of me in her pregnancy. We sadly went through our miscarriages a few months apart last fall and she was such a great support system for me and gifted me a book (Angie Smith's I will Carry You) to work through my emotions those months. It was a joy to have her and our friends here a few weeks ago and celebrate these babies together. 

Here's my latest bump pic at 23 weeks and 4 days. 

Some notes about this pregnancy:
  • First craving: Milky Way candy bars. I had Nick stop by the store to get me a bag of snack size milky ways. I don't usually buy candies like that so it felt like such a creamy treat! Plus, up until that point I was still avoiding milk in products (which has gone out the window during this pregnancy by the way!:)). 
  • Nausea: I felt pretty crummy during the first trimester, until about 12-13 weeks. I never actually got sick, but multiple times a day I felt like I was about to. So I would snack often thanks to advice from friends, eat ginger chews, drink ginger ale a few times, and use my oils to help. 
  • Fatigue: I've been absolutely exhausted throughout this entire pregnancy so far. There have been lots of days I get home from work and get in bed to nap before dinner. So tired.
  • Discomforts: In the past few weeks now, I've had increasing hip discomforts. And my low back has been pretty pain fun this last week especially. Even the top and bottom of my belly has been hurting with the pressures and growth. I'm hoping it's a growth spurt she's going through and that I'll feel better for a while again. 
  • Food aversions: I'm usually an easy to please eater. I'm not too picky and whatever others want to eat sounds find to me. But now, I'm super picky about what sounds good. If something doesn't sound good, I can't eat it. 
  • Foods I'm loving: a toasted bagel (gluten free) with cream cheese. It's my favorite thing lately. Also chocolate milk, fruit juices, fresh juicy fruits (watermelon, mango), anything with carbs and cheese really. There were weeks in my first trimester where all that sounded good were cheese enchiladas or mac & cheese. Thankfully for me and the baby, my tastes have opened up more opportunities since then ;) 
  • Baby prep: We put together our baby registries last weekend in preparation for our baby shower in June, and that was overwhelming yet fun. There's a lot to learn in the baby world for us first timers! A bouncer vs. exersaucer, all different kinds of cloth diapers. Not to mention carseats & strollers which still confuse me. Haha! We're learning a lot. It's fun to pick out things this baby girl will use. 
  • Baby observations: This baby girl likes to lay low :) she's usually in or just above my pelvis (which might be causing more of my hip and back pains). She is very active at night. I wake up a few time a night to use the bathroom and most of the time, she's awake and moving around then. I feel her during the day too, but the movements are usually more subtle and she seems to be more restful then. She moves & kicks more when we're playing music or sometimes when I'm talking to her while I drive or get ready in the mornings. This week, I felt her move a few times on the left side and right sides of my belly at the same time. She must have been doing some stretches. :) It was fun to feel how big she really is getting in there. 
Our next midwife appointment is next Friday and we have a follow up ultrasound too because during our 19-week anatomy scan, they didn't get a good picture of the umbilical cord's connection into the placenta. It'll be a nice sneak peak to see her again this week! 

Thanks to all of our friends and family for love and support - we love and appreciate you all!

This pic is from our pregnancy/gender announcement photo session taken at 19 weeks by my friend Amy Polley. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

We're Having a Baby Girl!

It’s with great anticipation that we announce that we have a baby girl set to join our family in early September! We’re 20 weeks along in this pregnancy and are so grateful for this little babe. She already brings so much joy as I feel her kicks, in awe of the creation of life.

After losing our first baby last fall, this pregnancy has had its share of anxieties, but we cling to the Lord’s plan and love this little girl so much. 

As I share our joy, I also pray for anyone going through infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, or other complications as I can't help but think about all of you during this time too. 

I'm excited to share more as I get a chance in the coming weeks too. I hope to note things about the first half of our pregnancy on the blog and post some more photos coming up too. Thanks for all of your love and support! 

-Nick & Marissa 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fall Travels to Chicago & Lake Tahoe

First, I want to thank all of you for your support after posting the last blog post about our miscarriage. You all have filled our hearts with love and encouragement, and it means so much. Many of you shared your own story with me, which I know isn't always easy either. All of your stories continue to help me know we aren't alone in this, and be more confident that everything will be okay. Thank you all for that. I tried to thank as many of you as I could, but if I missed you, please know your love and prayers have been appreciated.

I hadn't blogged in a while, and wanted to share some photos of our other journeys in the fall to Chicago while the Cubs were in the World Series, and our trip the next weekend to Lake Tahoe.

First up - Chicago! This trip was the week after the miscarriage. I was worried I'd be a downer and sad the whole trip, but thankfully my spirits were lifted and being part of the history of seeing the Cubs in the World Series was the perfect distraction. 

Nick and I ended up snagging tickets to game 5 the night before the game. We were already in Chicago with his family to enjoy the festivities when the Cubs lost the first two games at home, so prices dropped. I'm so glad it worked that way so we could get into the game! 

Before the game, we all went to walk around Wrigleyville together. It was such a great atmosphere! You could feel the largeness of this game and fans were so excited. 

Once we parted ways with Nick's family, Nick and I went into the stadium to see what all was going on. Here was a Sports Nation newscast. Bob Costas was down there meeting fans and we allllllllmost got that chance. 

We stood there for a while just to take it all in. We knew anyone in this stadium paid a lot of money to be there and it meant a lot to them. There was something special in the air the whole night. It was honestly a magical dreamy feeling to be there, and I was in awe through the whole night. 

Nick enjoyed a wrigley dog. :) I ate nachos and popcorn. Not a typical dinner, but gluten free can be tough at a ballpark! When you're on cloud 9, at the World Series, any food you enjoy there is pretty amazing. 

I was excited about our seats too - we were up higher but could see all of the action! 

 Enjoying my rum chata coffee and good company :) 

After the game (the only Series game the Cubs won at home!) - excited crowds to see a W in the World Series in the game we needed to win to continue on. 

Here was the Fox Sports broadcast after the game too. Fun to see them in person after watching them on TV so much! 

There's A-Rod in the middle on the stage :) 

I have tons more photos on my phone, but that's all I'll post for now. It was one of the most amazing experiences. I'll never forget that night! To watch the Cubs go on to WIN the series we got to be part of was incredible, and I'm so grateful we could enjoy it and be part of history. 

Next up is Lake Tahoe! We went the following weekend. It was such a beautiful, great trip. 

We took a trip one afternoon to Donner State Park. Do you know about the Donner Party? Pretty sad and eery to think of all that transpired in this area so many years ago. 

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset boat ride on Lake Tahoe. 

This was our dress up night. We didn't get many photos that night, so a selfie will do!

Here's from the top of the mountains at Donner State Park. So beautiful! It was a gorgeous view. And was very chilly up there! 

It was quite cold and windy at the peak! Very beautiful though. 

Relaxing with a bonfire and Lake Tahoe. Such a perfect pause in time. 

This was the resort we stayed at. There's beauty everywhere you look in Lake Tahoe. 

Back from our trips, here was our Thanksgiving meal. This was our first time for Nick and I cooking a turkey and it was fun "hosting" my dad and preparing all the food. Isn't it cute how we all matched without planning it?! Haha Nick and my dad's sweaters were matching perfectly.  

Christmas with my parents was wonderful as usual too.  

 First Christmas in our new house! Such a blessing. 

Today's Pinspiration:
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Experiencing an Early Pregnancy Loss

Hey my dears. It's been a while since I've typed on this blog. In the months since I last posted, we've continued to settle into our house and making it our home, enjoy college football Saturdays, and have been over the moon with our Cubbies winning the World Series. We traveled the past two weekends to Chicago to see the Cubs in the World Series (and ended up snagging tickets to the great turn-around game 5!) and a great trip to Lake Tahoe, which have been good distractions from the heartbreak I'm sharing with you today.

It's been a few weeks now since I typed the words below and I'm at a place ready to share them. My purpose for sharing this is to help other mamas know they aren't alone. 

 - - - 

The words I'm typing today are sad and being the midst of it, I may not have the best way of sharing where my heart is at. But I will try. And please know, this is just my story - every woman feels different going through this, and that is okay! I do feel it's important to talk about and will help me process this season too. And, I pray it might somehow help others who have had a similar experience or may encounter it someday to know they aren't alone. 

So here it goes - I was pregnant, then very early on in the pregnancy, I experienced a miscarriage. It was confusing, scary and heartbreaking along with other emotions I'm still processing. Our emotions went from excitement from finding out we were expecting our first little babe, to a few days later becoming concerned when I experienced more bleeding and cramping than I felt was "normal". After monitoring my bloodwork a few times this past week, a midwife was able to confirm the news I was preparing myself to hear - that I did experience a miscarriage. 

Here's the story from the beginning: I had known I was pregnant before getting the positive pregnancy test because of my symptoms. I had the dizziness (I felt like I was sea sick), cravings, nausea, food aversions, had to pee every hour, bad headaches, sore breasts (I didn't expect that!) and all that. A pregnancy test confirmed for us after over a week of those symptoms that I was indeed pregnant. In that moment, the first time experiencing a positive pregnancy test, my mind jumped to thinking how our lives were about to change. Picturing a nursery in our home, calculating which times of year I'd be most pregnant, and yes, baby names started rolling through my mind as I daydreamed about what the next 9 months had in store. A few short days later though, I had a little spotting (which can be normal I read) but a few more days later, I had more bleeding with worsening cramping.  After I had been bleeding and cramping consistently for a day though friends, I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and my pregnancy symptoms were gone. It hit me right then, I told Nick as I crawled back into bed that I didn't feel pregnant anymore, and in my heart, I knew I was losing the pregnancy. A few short days later, a midwife's blood testing confirmed the news.  

I've shed tears as I came to understand that the would-be due date on June 14th will no longer bring us a baby, though I also know in my heart that my grief would likely be so much deeper had I been farther along in the pregnancy when it happened. I was just 6 weeks along, and we "knew" about the pregnancy for less than two weeks. The miscarriage was confirmed just one week to the day after we had the positive pregnancy test. 

I've talked with some of my best friends this week who have unfortunately experienced the same loss. Some were at 8 weeks and 12 weeks when they experienced their loss. To be honest, I believe in my heart that if I had spent 6 more weeks preparing and planning for this baby, my heart would be even more broken as it is today. And this is just me. It helps me to be honest with myself. Everyone in this position grieves differently, and the thing I've learned, is you have to allow yourself to feel sad when you feel sad - that's okay and healthy. I also know the husband and wife may grieve their loss differently too, and communication between us has been important to understand each other. 

I have also been so blessed by my friends this week. One friend talked to me for over an hour on Wednesday when I came home from work feeling scared with bleeding and cramping. We shared our stories, and she gave me advice. She also just listened and let me process it out loud. Oh how that was good for my heart. I'm a communicator and I need to talk things through to process them. Other sweet friends have been checking on me, messaging with me and helping me know it's okay to feel sad and grieve this loss. One sweet co-worker brought me this beautiful rose plant I plan to plant in our garden. I love that it's a perennial and would be so neat if I can help it keep growing. People coming alongside me in this have made me know all will be okay, and have helped the healing process so much. 

Telling my parents was a really hard thing. Let's be honest, as their only child, I had always dreamed of the joy of telling my parents they were going to be grandparents. I had even started looking online for the best ideas to share the good news with them. It broke my heart to fill them in on the sad news about our first pregnancy, but I knew they would want to know.  As much as I wanted to hold any news for the big day we had great news to share, this was part of our story now and I knew they would want to walk through it with us. Plus, I needed them as part of my support system too. God paints beautiful stories and I have learned through ups and downs in my life, that He is faithful, loving, and cares for me every minute of every day. I trust Him with our future and know He is good. 

I won't go into all of the details about the range of emotions at doctor appointments this week (because it was stressful and made this week even worse), however I will say that the first health provider I saw wasn't helpful or considerate, and I was so grateful for wise advice to seek another opinion to get answers. The first nurse practitioner didn't believe I was even pregnant which was very hurtful in the midst of my body telling me I was experiencing a miscarriage. 

I found a midwife at a different practice that was so loving, compassionate, and patient. My heart needed someone who was an expert in this area, to walk me through this and help me understand what my body had going on. After running blood tests to see how my hCG level was changing, she was able to confirm for me that I was pregnant and did experience a miscarriage a few short weeks after the fertilization happened. She had a patient sweet way about her, sweeping me under her wing to say she's on my side and help me know how to move forward. She also reassured me that it happens in 10-20% of pregnancies and that it doesn't increase the chances if it happening again. She also helped me get some closure about what happened so we could begin to move forward. 

This is one of the few photos of me while I was actually pregnant and it is a sweet reminder if the teeny tiny life that existed for a few weeks. Of course, I wasn't showing a baby bump of any kind that early, but knowing he or she was there in this photo is a neat thing. 

- - -

Now that a few more weeks have passed since I wrote the words above, I will be honest to say there are tough moments of seeing families with lots of kids, and thinking of so many mamas where each pregnancy has seemed to lead to a healthy baby. I am truly happy for others sharing their pregnancy announcements for example, yet also in my heart, I feel the tinge of sadness, knowing that would have been my announcement soon if I were still carrying the baby. Thinking "why couldn't my first pregnancy have been successful", and praying to not let worries about not being able to carry a pregnancy successfully take hold in my mind. I know the enemy wants to take any joys in the future about this season of life away, and we will combat it with God.  

I remembered a few years ago when I learned about the Bates family, that Erin Paine had troubles with miscarriages. I looked into her story again recently, and found comfort in how she walked through that season of life. Soon after getting married, she experienced 3 heartbreaking miscarriages. Then, they realized she had a blood clotting disorder and treated her before and during her next pregnancies, and she has two healthy babies now. Also learning about miscarriages in my birth mother's family somehow brought comfort for me to not worry, knowing they had healthy babies after their losses. So all of these things have brought me reassurance to not worry. I'm so grateful to others who have bravely shared their stories. They have been healing words to my heart, truly. 

Lastly, I also reflect back to the Sunday night a few weeks ago when I laid in bed in tears, feeling so sad about the loss of our first pregnancy, wishing the little baby was still growing inside me. One week later to the minute, we sat inside of Wrigley stadium, and cheered on our Cubbies as they won their first World Series game at Wrigley since 1945. It was the game they turned around the series and went on to win the first WS since 1908 (as I'm sure you've heard ;)). In those moments, even though it might sound silly, I was truly reminded that the Lord knows the desires of our hearts and has the best plans for us. I'm grateful I could feel His presence telling me everything is going to be okay. 

Hugs and love to you mamas who have walked this path before. It's many more of you than I would have thought, and I thank you for sharing your hearts and how you walked through it too. I am SO grateful for you all and pray over each of you who read these words. 

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