Monday, December 30, 2013

A year to remember!

I think the holidays (especially New Years) tend to be a time for family, and food, and.... reflection. I know I can't capture in words what we've experienced this past year. Going through IVF, having Gabe, and living through the past almost five months with an infant has been some of the hardest, best times of my life and of our marriage.

Some days are completely sweet, with a smiling, plump, happy baby (and consequently, a happy momma and wife). Other days are exhausting, when Gabe won't sleep and when he seems so needy I can't even find time to go to the bathroom alone (No joke-- yesterday, I had Gabe in the bouncy seat IN the bathroom with me. I literally was singing to Gabe while attempting to go to the bathroom. TMI but true, my friends!) Being a mother is a role for which I've been gearing up my whole life, yet nothing could have completely prepared me for the role in its entirety.

Being a wife AND a mother is another new combo that I am still working at---I want Chris to remain my number one priority, best friend, and partner. It is hard when work, a baby, and the demands of life jumble together and make Chris's ranking as numero uno fluctuate. I want to keep him as my main man, my main squeeze and helper extraordinare; to do so, I have to remind myself that WE as a couple deserve maintenance time and energy too (which is hard when Gabe/work/life sometimes sucks out my energy before 6 PM when Chris gets home).

Every New Year, people make resolutions and try to "fix" what they perceive as broken or less-than in their lives, their work, their families, their bodies, their marriages... the list goes on and on.

I'm not making any specific resolutions. I am just going to keep on keeping on. God calls us to love each other, and I think we often only ascribe the loving one another-ness to strangers or friends or neighbors. What about our husbands? Our kids? I know that am I loving Chris and loving Gabe the best I can. It might look totally different from the way you love YOUR spouse, or YOUR kids, but I am really loving and living only the way Rachel Knipe can love and live, the way God wired me to love and live. It might not be exhilarating in comparison to others, but diaper changes, eating take-out Chinese, and watching football together on TV are all ways I've loved in 2013.

I have really tried to be PRESENT in whatever situation I find myself. Each new milestone of Gabe's is such a gift, something I don't want to overlook. Each night I spend on the couch with Chris is time to cherish. Here's to maintaining that mentality in 2014 and beyond.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Card 2013 and a throwback to 2012

As you may have picked up, SLEEP  (or lack thereof) has been a common theme in our lives to date. As such, our Christmas card is particularly fitting: 


Here is a photo from last year's card, with commentary:)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Daytime Napping! (shhh!)

I don't want to make the statement that Gabe takes daytime naps now. I'm afraid that if I write it, he'll stop.

For the first four months of his life, the kid never slept during the day for longer than thirty minutes at a clip. King of the cat naps, we called him.

Starting last week, I decided I would swaddle the crap out of him, place him in a dark nursery, and turn the white noise machine as loud as it could go. As soon as I see one eye rub, I take him upstairs to his crib.


He's not consistently napping; no routine or anything, but there have been a handful of one-plus hour naps since I started the magical combination stated above.

Probably because I just stated that he is starting to nap now, he will choose not to do so tomorrow. Alas. It was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Facebook: Blessing and Curse

In our ever-present digital age, it has become even more evident that the keeping up the the Jones' mentality lives on. I'm not necessarily speaking of material items (new homes, cars, jewelry etc), but more about life milestones. One could argue that never before has society so visibly "lived" their lives for the world to see.

Here are a few highlights from my Facebook Feed today:

- Someone is pregnant. Again.
- Someone just got married.
- Someone got an "A" in a masters course.
- Someone's significant other broke up with her.
- Someone posted pictures of a stunning Christmas tree, mantel, and light display from their home.
- Someone posted about her child making the Honor Roll, again. Wait. The Distinguished Honor Roll.
- Someone's baby slept through the night and then proceeded to roll over for the first time.
- Someone just bought a puppy.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I think Facebook can be fun, and a really great way to connect. However, we also can fall into the trap of reading about other's lives and then comparing them (both good and bad) against our own.

Compared to so-and-so, my life is great! OR Compared to them, we are slackers with nothing to show for our lives!

I think we need to really LIVE a little bit more, as opposed to framing and constraining our lives to how it will appear on a Facebook Feed.

Life is so much more than that!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It's crazy that, with a three month old, I am already thinking about getting pregnant again. Many people have asked: Do you think you'll do IVF again? I think the real question is: Do we think we will have to do IVF again?

Of course I want to get pregnant naturally. Any person who has struggled with infertility still considers that the ultimate success--- pregnancy without any medical intervention! Of course, if medical intervention is needed, we will most certainly be doing IVF again.

Timeline, you ask?

In a weird way, 3 months post delivery, I miss being pregnant. WHAT!? you say? I miss the excitement of a baby on the way-- I miss the feeling of a baby moving around in there:)

Then, I have moments (at 2 AM or at 2 PM-- when Gabe should be sleeping at night or napping in the day but IS NOT) that I think: Are you crazy!? Could you imagine doing this with a toddler running around? While I have no doubt it will be crazy, we are planning to get pregnant again as soon as I am healed enough from the C-section, and as soon as we have paid off the fertility loan we needed in order to do IVF round one.

My local doctor said that women whom have had C-sections should wait at least one year before getting pregnant again, as the uterus must heal completely before it has to handle carrying another baby.

You know me--- Miss Plan-My-Life-Out. Nothing has really changed there--- I still like to have a plan, even if I know that it will change.

The real question here is: Do I trust God with the outcome, whatever it is? Will we get pregnant on our own? Will IVF work a second time? Will Gabe be our only child?

I know. I know: Focus on the here and now. Focus on Gabe. Don't be greedy--- love up that chunker, even when he isn't sleeping and is a crankaponomous. Love him now. Appreciate NOW.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Overnight Madness

On Friday afternoon, Gabe and I set the GPS for Lancaster and started off for my annual weekend away with my old college roommates. I thought about leaving him home with Chris, but at three months old, I just couldn't think of leaving him overnight yet. The "roommate extravaganza" this year was a bit different with a baby in tow; packing for a baby is crazy! Sound machine, binks, diapers, wipes, monitor etc. Insane. Who knew a little baby would have so much baggage?! :)

The car ride was uneventful--- Gabe blissfully slept the whole drive. After hugging each other for a solid five minutes, my roommates and I unpacked and set up "Babyville".  Gabe was not the only baby along for the weekend, so I didn't feel too badly about invading my friend Emily's house with everything baby.

My main concern was how Gabe was going to sleep in a Pack N' Play. He'd never done it before and as nighttime approached, I started to feel that slow, nervous, panic feeling creep in. I had a feeling the night might not be too much fun for me.

I was right.

After initially putting Gabe down around 8:30, I headed downstairs to join my friends, bottle of wine in hand. Heaven.

My momentary bliss was short lived. Gabe began crying at around 9:30 and proceeded to wake up every hour on the hour throughout the night. Not cool.

Having never slept in his Pack n' Play, he was not used to the sound that it made as he moved around---even with the sound machine, he still kept waking himself up.

Needless to say, it was a rough night. Gabe ended up joining the ladies downstairs as we caught up and chatted late into the night.

The next morning at about 5 AM (after literally the LONGEST night since Gabe was born), I carried Gabe downstairs to find my friend Katie with her daughter (7 months old) already up. At least I wasn't alone with a baby up and ready to face the day at 5 AM.

Regardless of my complete night without sleep, it was an awesome time of catching up and laughing deliriously together, complete with numerous cups of the strongest coffee I've ever tasted in my life. No joke---I think I might have chest hair now.

Next year, I am vowing to leave Gabe at home with Chris:)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sweet, sweet time

Baby powder, fresh coffee, and a cinnamon and spice candle create an aroma that just might be my happy smell. It's the smell of my mornings this week. I'm finding my favorite time of day is in the morning, after Gabe's first feeding, when he's smiling and warm, and still in his pjs; if society were able to hold a baby in soft pjs each morning and feel the squishy sweetness of chubby baby cheeks, they just might be a lot happier. I know I am.

Even Stu Dog agrees: Gabe smells good in the morning.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This time last year...

I walked down our street yesterday seeing the stunning colors of autumn.... I started thinking back to last fall, when Chris and I made our first trip to Shady Grove Fertility Center. It was last September when we had our initial consult and last October when we started preparing for IVF.

I remember hiking with Chris last October; we trekked up the mountain weighing our fertility options, feeling both terrified and hopeful, a strange combination of emotions that we had not felt to that extreme before.

This past year has been the most intense of my life and of our marriage, but extreme in both good and bad ways.

What a difference a year makes---- that's so cliche but has never been more true for us.

Recently I've started to help other women struggling with infertility by answering their questions; Shady Grove's present or perspective patients ask their fertility questions, and I am part of a panel who can respond. Clearly I'm not giving medical advice, but emotional advice from someone who can understand (at least in some ways) how these women are feeling.

I was answering a patient's question this morning and was jolted back to the dreaded two-week-waiting period after our first embryo transfer. Re-reading my entries from those weeks was actually physically painful! I didn't have an answer for this patient or a quick list of tips and tricks to help her get through the waiting period before she can find out if her IVF was successful, but I did try to convey that she wasn't alone in her inability to be patient!

Even now, I struggle with patience. I think: Oh, I can't wait until Gabe can sleep through the night! Oh, I can't wait for X, Y, or Z to happen.

The truth is, I still need to ask God to help me even more thankfully experience each day in the present. The grass isn't always greener a few months down the road. I need to focus on the precious, small wonders Gabe has brought into my life each day. It's good to look to the future, but also good to experience the present.

No joke: He just pooped up his back. Gotta run! Thankful I have a baby whose diaper needs changed:)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nap Boycotts

I'm discovering that the biggest myth surrounding newborns is that they sleep all the time. False. This is not true. Gabe does not sleep all the time. In fact, I think he is boycotting sleep.

Okay. That is all.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Chris and I have been playing tag-team caregiver for Gabe for the past 8 weeks... and LOVING it! Yes, there have been some stressful, trying times (especially when sleep deprivation has crept into the picture). However, we've really been trying to soak up this time with him.

That being said, I started noticing that I missed Chris. Yes, I saw him each night when he came home from work, and I saw him on the weekends. We were spending time together, with Gabe, as often as we were able. However, I found myself missing time just with Chris. Just the two of us.

Friday night we decided to have a date; not one where we actually left the house, but one where we shut off the TV, silenced our phones and just spend the night talking and just being with each other. Gabe fell asleep around 9. We then had a late dinner and just spent time on the deck, talking, connecting, sans the baby.

Of course our family of three is super important; time is so cherished that we spend, the three of us, together. However, I really do believe that families must be held together by the glue of two parents, connected with each other. 

I am so savoring every minute with Gabe, and the time Gabe and I get to spend with Chris too. However, the highest priority to us, even over Gabe, is our marriage...That might sound harsh, especially considering Chris and I spent so long trying to finally have him! However, our family unit depends on a close relationship and bond between the us, the parents.

Even though our Friday night "date" wasn't extravagant, it was so needed. Stepping away from babyland was a needed retreat for us. We greeted Saturday morning refreshed and reconnected. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Good Baby/Bad Baby

"So... Is he a good baby?"

I get this question often. What do people expect me to say? 

Good is such a relative term. Bad is too. 

Gabe is many things: He's great. He's challenging. He's unpredictable. He's sweet. 

.... not sure how to answer the original question. All I know is that he's ours.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

They call them "Mommy Wars"...

Even before I had a baby, people were so inquisitive about what my life was like working from home. To be honest, before I started to work remotely, I too didn't quite see the reality of what working comprised.

Are you picturing pajamas and coffee, TV remote in hand? I did too. Before.

I work for The Network of International Christian Schools, specifically NorthStar Academy. I teach several courses to middle and high school students in the content areas of Social Studies and English. Writing courses, grading papers/assessments, and communicating with students via email and Skype comprises about 50% of my job.

The other 50% is spent on administrative tasks; I wear multiple hats in this category, so even writing down specific work tasks would take some time.

The bottom line is that I DO work. I DO have a job to do. I just do it at HOME. 

(FYI: I do get to work in sweats and PJs, however, from the top up, I must look presentable; I never know when I will have to Skype with my bosses, parents, students etc.)

Sometimes I LOVE the fact that my workplace is my couch, or my office upstairs, or my family room floor. It is great to be able to touch base with students, parents, and co-workers anywhere, anytime. Further, the invention of the smart phone has meant that I can literally work in a bathroom stall at Target, if I needed to (not saying this has happened...).

That same blessing (working anytime, anywhere) is also the greatest curse. I find it really hard to SHUT OFF work. I don't leave a physical building and return the next day. I feel a constant pressure to keep up with emails; I know they will just keep accumulating if I don't get to them as they come in! I don't want to make fellow teachers, parents, or students wait for my replies. Further, I have to figure out issues of time zones--- I speak to parents/students and interview teachers from all over the globe! It IS really cool, but also can be stressful trying to fit in and figure out how to connect to those who need my time.

Oh yeah... and I JUST HAD A BABY.

Throw Gabe into the above mix, and working from home becomes a full fledged circus!

Diaper changes, breastfeeding, and all things baby care are scattered throughout the day. Last week I went from feeding Gabe to interviewing a teacher candidate in Belgium (all the while PRAYING that Gabe would stay asleep through the conclusion of the interview). Grading student essays, speaking on the phone with a parents, and conference calls are daily occurances too.  Such calls are hard to schedule right now because the baby is on his own schedule; so far, I have had three meetings scheduled and have had to secretly breastfeed him and pray his burps and slurps were not audible to the people with whom I spoke...  Yes! Working from home is a breeze!

HOWEVER, I am totally blessed to have the job I have; I do love it! I am so lucky to be able to stay home and be with Gabe all day and not leave him with anyone else. I am trying to soak up these early days of motherhood all the while trying to stay on top of things with work. I am so lucky to be able to keep a foot in the world of education, challenging myself to keep up with all of the latest technology, continually getting the opportunity to teach kids all over the world.

But here's the thing: What is my label?

There are two, apparently rigid and opinionated MOTHERING CAMPS I am now straddling: Stay-at-home moms vs. Working moms. Which one am I? 

I want to be good at my job. I want to do it well. At the same time, I want to soak up every minute with Gabe that I can. I do affirm that parenting is my number one calling right now. Regardless, it is difficult to balance both worlds.

I can see how both "sides" feel; stay at home moms don't feel validated and working moms feel judged. BOTH camps are doing really great things and are, in their own ways, remarkable.

It's sad; instead of being a united front of MOMS, we are divided into camps. This motherhood thing is tough enough without the labels and division. Seriously. Take a step back and breathe, relish that MOTHERHOOD is the unifying factor here. I waited a long time to be in the motherhood camp at all, so let's stop and smell the roses (or diapers) here for a bit, okay?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God and Breastfeeding... What?!?

I never thought I would be relying on God so much with regard to my ability to breastfeed Gabe. Even as I type the words "breastfeed" and "God" in the same sentence, I am feeling funny! This post might seem a bit strange, but like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of my breast-filled life!

Gabe is over a month old and has been eating like a champ; very minimal issues in the food department. So minimal in fact, that we introduced a pacifier and were giving him a bottle (to give me a break) once daily.

It's funny--- I get so excited when he demonstrates any kind of a pattern or routine. Oh, how I crave routine! Until last night, we were cruising right along in the breastfeeding department. I recall thinking, Seriously! This is no big deal. It is time consuming, but pretty effortless.

And then, last night happened.

Let me set the stage: I went to a friend's house yesterday afternoon. Instead of whipping out my chest to feed Gabe, I had pumped prior and had a bottle to give him while she and I visited. We came home and Chris's parents stopped by to see Gabe. Right as they walked in, he started crying because he was hungry (I think they have a radar and know when is the most inopportune time to "pop" in). Instead of strangely sitting and trying to entertain them whilst breastfeeding, I ran upstairs, pumped quickly, and gave Chris's mom the chance to bottle feed Gabe (which she loved). For those of you who are counting, that is two bottle feedings in a row.

Two hours later, the kid is hungry again. Chris's family is still here (shocker). Chris's sister wants to feed the baby. So, I pump and give her the bottle. (#3).

Finally, around 9:30, they leave. I take Gabe up to feed him before bed and he totally REJECTS me. He refuses to eat, starts freaking out, turning red, and proceeds to scream at the top of his lungs. It was like he forgot how to latch on to my breast.

After about thirty minutes of this, I decide I am going to put him in his crib so I can Google the problem. (Thank heaven for Google!)

Apparently, some babies start to prefer the bottle because the milk comes out faster and it is easier for them to eat. So Gabe= a lazy chunker who likes his meals easy-style!

I kept thinking, he has to remember how to breastfeed. Seriously. He has been doing it for the past six weeks! Does he not know that if he simply latched on, he would be able to eat. Duh.

The most frustrating part was there was NOTHING I could do to get him to eat. I wanted so badly just to give him a bottle and be done with it. I knew he would take a bottle. However, I just didn't think I was ready (or Gabe for that matter) to give up on breastfeeding so soon.

When you have not slept in what seems like days, you begin to talk out loud to anyone, anyone who, at 2 AM can hear you. In my case, it was Gabe and God.

Please God. Help him. Help me. I can't do this. Why is this so hard!?

Who knew I'd be shooting up prayers for breastfeeding help! But, alas, He tells us to cast our cares upon Him; feeding my new baby was on the top of my "care list".

So, 48 hours and many frustrated feedings later, we are back on track. No bottles for us for a while!

I'm thankful for a Father who doesn't abandon me (or Gabe ) in our hour(s) of need--- even if breastfeeding is the need atop our list.

Switching Gears

Since having the baby, I've still been thinking and praying for many friends who are still riding the infertility train. I am in this weird, in-between place right now: I'm off the train, but I've been permanently changed by the ride. So much so, that it affects where I'm going.

I am thrilled with the birth of Gabe, but my heart still remembers and aches for those struggling to establish a family. So, it begs the question, where is this blog going? Is it still a blog/resource for infertile couples? Is it still a dialogue about marriage and faith? Yes. It is all of those things, as well as now, a discourse on parenting and all things baby.

It's a hodgepodge of topics related to how I'm growing and learning in my life now. If I can be helpful, that's great. If not, I am sure I can make you laugh now and then:)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

3 Weeks Out

It's hard to believe that Gabe is three weeks old--- in some ways, it feels like he has just always been here. In other ways, he is still so new and we are still adjusting. The biggest adjustment for me is the complete lack of a schedule. I am a schedule person; I like to know what is going to happen and when. Right now, Gabe's not really in a sleep pattern or routine; the only thing that is predictable is that he likes to eat and is happy when he's eating.

Chris and I are learning to help each other and work as a team (not always flawlessly). Before Gabe, I knew we were Team Knipe. We were good at dividing and conquering. However, dividing and conquering is easy to do when each member of the team is well rested. When team members lack sleep, it's much more difficult to communicate needs and be sweet to each other. (We're working on it!)

Post-Gabe, Team Knipe does different tasks, tasks that we've never done together before: diapering, rocking, singing, soothing, burping... Further, these tasks occur at all times of day and night--- and I think that is another adjustment. I don't think we've ever valued sleep so much! A 15 minute power nap to us is equivalent to winning the lottery these days.

Also golden, is time out of the house:This week, Chris's Jeep took a dive. For a few days, he took my car, leaving me at home with Gabe. Gabe was not the problem for me. The problem was being stuck in the house, with Gabe practically attached to my chest, day and night. I didn't realize that I was loosing my mind until it was almost too late. Yesterday, we drove out to my parents' house and I sat in the sun and talked to my mom for about an hour. After, I felt like a new person! Lesson learned: anticipate the cabin-fever feeling and prevent it by communicating to your spouse that you need out! You need sunshine and interaction with other humans---It's amazing what some sun and adult conversation can do; even though the conversation focused on Gabe, it was still refreshing.

My incision/stomach is still sore, but it is healing. Give me another three weeks, and I hope to be able to walk more than a few blocks!

All in all, Team Knipe, all three of us, are doing well!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

He's Here! (...and here's my attempt to recap it all)

(Sorry this post is delayed and somewhat jumbled! It's been a crazy, but awesome past week!)

Chris and I planned to begin induction on Thursday night (8/8/13) at 5 PM. They told us to call prior to arriving just to make sure there was a bed available for us. Apparently, many people were having babies on Thursday! After pushing back our arrival time a few hours, Chris and I walked onto the labor and delivery floor at around 7: 30 PM.

Our midwife Janice hooked me up to the monitors and then started Cytotec, a cervical ripening medication that also was supposed to begin contractions. I had to be on my left side for two hours; basically, Chris and I just hung out and chatted while we waited. We slowly started to see contractions on the monitor, and then, I started to feel them. They were pretty spaced apart, at about every 8 minutes or so, and they were not that painful.

Janice came back to check me at around 10:30 PM. I was only dilated to 1cm and the contractions were not close enough apart to keep me for the night. She sent us home to sleep with the instructions to call in the morning around 5 AM and to plan to come back for Pitocin to really get labor started. She advised us to call sooner if my contractions became five minutes apart.

We arrived home around 10:45. I got into pjs and wanted to try to get as much sleep as possible because I knew the next day was going to be a long one (but one I wanted to arrive ASAP!). My contractions really started to pick up in intensity and frequency after 11 PM; we had only been home for 15 minutes! The contractions were so bad that I actually could not find a comfortable position. They were 2-3 minutes apart--- it seemed like out of nowhere, I was in full fledged labor!

Me: What is going on?!? This is insane! We have to go back to the hospital. Seriously. I can't even catch my breath!

Chris: Let me call Janice and see what she says we should do.

Me: Holy crap. I think my water just broke. (I walk two feet). Yep. It did. Oh, and I think I am going to throw up now. Grab me a bowl! Seriously. (And I throw up).

The above events happened within 15 minutes of arriving home from the hospital; as we know, Chris is not one to do well with super fast change. He was running around trying to grab everything that we had just unpacked from the car while trying to make sure I wasn't going to leak all over the house, while trying to get ahold of Janice on the phone.

Chris: I left a message and Janice will call us back. They are paging her.

Me: We have to go now! I am going outside. Get the car!

As we waited for the phone call back from the midwife, the only "comfortable" position for me was being on all -fours. I must have looked like a total lunatic--- on all-fours on our back deck waiting to get into the car upon Janice's return phone call.

Once we got the green light to come back to the hospital, I climbed into the car, hanging backward over the front seat (as sitting actually made the contractions WAY worse). All I could think of was how I would get to the labor and delivery floor from the car between contractions. I knew I had two minutes, but I knew that wouldn't be enough time.

We walked quickly into the hospital and at about the lobby, I had to go down--- on all-fours that is! It was a good thing it was so late at night because I would have looked even more ridiculous in the middle of the day! Janice, met us in the lobby with a wheelchair, which she promptly directed me to sit in. I told her I didn't want to sit. She said I had to (seriously--- she was so direct, which was what I needed at that point---I sat down and she and Chris sped me up to a room).

Once I got into the labor and delivery room, I noticed that my nurse was one of my old high school friends, Emily. It was comforting to know her, and I had NO problem stripping down and asking for help!

My contractions continued every two minutes, with me on all-fours during each. After getting an IV started, and getting checked, I was frustrated to hear that I was only 2 cm dilated. Only 2?!? It was going to be a long night....

After two hours, I was given an epidural--- Holy amazingness! I could still feel pressure and slight pain, but I felt like a million bucks after getting the epidural. My fear level and anxiety level lessened once I was able to get a grip on the pain and really start focusing on the fact that I WOULD be having a baby soon (or so I thought).

At 7 AM, my good family friend Kathy was scheduled to be my nurse after Emily. God knew I needed comforting people around me--- the fact that Emily and Kathy were my nurses during labor was so comforting--- I am so thankful for God's provision in them for me.

Janice's shift was over at 7AM (Friday) also and Cathy (sorry-- a Cathy and a Kathy= confusing), another midwife, took her place. Cathy checked me periodically throughout the morning, noting that I really wasn't progressing. She suggested I begin Pitocin to hopefully open my cervix more. Every twenty minutes, the Pitocin level increased and the baby was monitored to make sure everything was okay. At around 1 PM, Cathy mentioned that we could keep trying for a few more hours, but that we might want to start thinking about a C-section, should I not dilate any further. I kept hoping that something would break free and that I would be able to dilate further.

At around 4 PM, Cathy (midwife) and Kathy (nurse) came in and checked me one more time. I was between 3 and 4 CM dilated, but my cervix was beginning to swell and actually reverse some of the progress. Even though the baby's head was super low, my cervix just was not cooperating! It was the weirdest thing, to be able to feel something like a softball between my legs (the baby's head!) yet know that I was not dilated enough to get the baby out.

Once it was decided that the C-section was the safest and most effective way to get him out, Chris and I came to grips with the plan. We were told the anesthesia team would be ready for us at 5PM.

At around that time, Kathy (nurse) was ending her shift. She offered to stay with me through the C-section, but I felt bad making her stay. She introduced me to Laura, the nurse who would be accompanying me into the C-section and staying with me afterward. Laura had such a sweet, comforting demeanor. I felt like Kathy left me in really good hands!

The anesthesia team came in and got me prepped for the O.R. Chris had to wait outside until I was completely prepped. This was about 20 minutes, where I felt very nervous--- I began to shake and just feel alone without Chris next to me. Laura stepped up to my side and held my hand, filling me in on each step of the procedure. It was comforting to have her next to me until Chris was able to come in. Finally, Chris came in and took a seat right next to my face. It was scary, being strapped down and only being able to move my head. However, Chris knew exactly how to make me feel better--- he stared directly into my eyes and began telling me a story, trying to make me laugh, while rubbing my head. He knew I needed to be distracted for a bit until the baby was ready to come out.

Chris told the doctors and nurses that we did not know the baby's gender, and asked if he could be the one to announce it when the baby was out. Finally, the doctor announced that Chris should stand up and look over the divider. I watched Chris peer over the divider, proclaiming excitedly:


At that point, I heard the baby cry and of course, I began to cry. So did Chris. It was so unreal. They handed the baby to Chris and then he held him up for me to see. It was a really short view, because they needed to check out the baby on the warming table. I instructed Chris to go and be with the baby while they finished closing up my stomach.

It was the most surreal feeling--- watching Chris stare down and talk to the baby on the warming table. I couldn't see the baby because there were so many people standing around him. But, I could see Chris's face. He was beaming--- through the mask, I could see his high cheek bones raised with a permanent smile. Chris's eyes were huge and tears were streaming out of them as he talked to the baby. Finally, once the baby was given a thorough once-over, they gave him back to Chris to bring over to me. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and tried to just look at him. This was hard to do because I couldn't lift my head up. However, seeing him, and seeing Chris with him, was enough satisfaction for me!

The baby was officially born at 5:33 PM, weighing 8 lbs. 13 oz. and was 22 and 1/4 inches long.

Chris went with the baby to the nursery while I was getting stitched up and taken to recovery. This was somewhat of a blur, but I do remember just shaking uncontrollably from surgery, the excitement, the news. They gave me tons of warming blankets to help me relax and reduce the shaking.

In the recovery room, I got sick to my stomach from the anesthesia, but Laura was with me the whole time. Finally, Chris brought the baby into the recovery room. I was super groggy--- I was so happy to see both of them, but I was SO out of it! They asked if I wanted to nurse him, which I did, however, my body was so numb I struggled to be able to lift my hands to hold him. Chris helped hold him to my chest and we tried our best to make a go at nursing. We must have been a sight--- Chris holding the baby (who still had no name) to my chest, while I struggled to stay awake!

We were taken back to a hospital room where Chris and I made a few phone calls-- again, this is blurry to me because I was so drugged up! I do remember my parents and Chris's parents coming to the hospital around 10 PM to see the baby briefly.

After sleeping off some of the drugs, I think I was finally lucid at around 3 AM, when Chris and I were both up to feed the baby. It was finally in that moment that I realized I was a mom, that I had had the baby, and that it was REAL. As I held him, I was finally able to see each part of him, examine him, and take in that sweet baby smell. 

We went through a list of boy names, before both equally agreeing that Gabriel (Gabe) was the perfect name for him. I can't believe how easy it was! Months of negotiating and discussing name possibilities, and it came down to a sweet moment, at 3 AM, between Chris and I. It was priceless. 

When Chris and I finally left the hospital, with Gabe in the car, I began to cry. I just couldn't believe that it was real; he was coming home with us. Call it hormones. Call it whatever you wish. I call it a miracle; we have a son, a precious gift from God who is part of our family, who is legitimately ours to love up and to cherish from this point on. 

And so, nine days later, here we are. I can't believe so much time has gone by. It's strange; in some ways I feel like Gabe has been with us forever. In other ways, I feel like he is super new. We are adjusting to less sleep, but more smiles than I thought imaginable. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Here's the "plan" Stan

Warning: This post might be TMI for some (however, I promised I would outline everything in the IVF/pregnancy/delivery process, so here are some more vivid, kind of gross details of the process):

I had an appointment yesterday where they checked to see if I had progressed any further. Not really, they said. The baby's heart rate was still in the low 140s and he/she appears to be really liking life in my uterus! All of my vitals are still good and within normal, so they did  not feel pressed to induce me on the spot.

The midwife we had yesterday got us scheduled for "cervical ripening" and induction for later this week. Joy!

While I am not thrilled at the prospect of having to have my labor started in a somewhat unnatural manner, I am happy to know that SOMETHING will be happening! We will go to the hospital Thursday afternoon for a few hours for Cervidil and maybe the Foley balloon. If nothing happens, they will send us home for the night, and then we would come back in at 6AM Friday for Pitocin and hopefully, a baby!

My midwife yesterday stripped my membranes with the hope of getting the ball rolling. Almost 24 hours later, I can report that I've had cramping but nothing more.

So today is Tuesday, 8/6/13. Maybe by 8/9/13, we will have a baby. I hope so!

I was encouraged by the fact that the doctor's office did not want me to schedule another check-up appointment--- hopefully that is their sign of confidence that a baby will be born soon!

Friday, August 2, 2013

And one more thing...

I must remember for next time:

Lie about my due date.
Tell everyone it is two or three weeks later than it really is.
Then, Baby Watch won't even have to happen.

And here is the 40 Week Pic:

Patience, patience...

Chris, two nights ago at dinner: "Dear God. Thank you for this food and for all of the blessings you have given us. Thank you for this baby and for the joy he/she has given us already. Please help us to be patient while we wait for the baby to arrive. Amen"

Me, kind of jokingly: "What are you doing!? Praying for patience!? Don't you know that God will make us wait LONGER to so we really LEARN to be patient!?"

Even typing the word patience makes me annoyed.

Yesterday was not a great day. As I indicated in an earlier post, it's like Baby Watch 2013 around here. I do appreciate the phone calls, emails, and texts from inquisitive minds, wanting to know how we're doing. However, it is hard to know how we are doing, and even how to respond to certain questions sometimes (especially ones that deal with my female region and its preparedness for labor. Not cool folks. Not cool).

I know it is all in my head; when my anxiety kicks in, everything is bigger in my head. I feel like I am living under a microscope and people are just sitting around, in their lawn chairs, waiting for me to go into labor. The drive-bys, the drop-ins of family and friends "just checking" to see if we are in labor are unnerving. I know everyone is excited, but for me, I just feel overwhelmed and on edge. I guess these feelings are normal? I don't know?

Chris came home last night, and I met him at the door crying. I don't think I've done that since the hormonal IVF days this past fall.

"I'm done! I just need the baby to come. My nerves are killing me!"

"You're okay. You're fine. It will be soon!

"No I won't. It is never coming out. Everyone wants updates and I have nothing to tell them, nor do I even want to speak/see anyone! I just want to be left alone!"

After my "tantrum", Chris suggested we go chat on the couch, which meant me continuing to complain/sniffle/snot all over his shirt. After about ten minutes of that, I feel asleep.

I think anxiety makes me tired. Yep, I'm sure of it. I woke up 45 minutes later feeling better.

At around 10 PM last night, we went for a walk. Chris dawned his infamous headlamp, you know, the one that makes him look SUPER cool. We must have looked like quite a pair-- headlamp man and waddling woman. Oh well. At least it was dark and no one could really know who we were.

Chris is being supportive and funny, just what I need him to be.

Today is Friday. We have an appointment in the morning on Monday. If I have not progressed at all, we will schedule an induction at that time.

It's not that I am physically uncomfortable being pregnant; I am just emotionally tired of the waiting. We waited for years before this, through countless procedures and appointments. Clearly I can wait a few more days (but please God let it be sooner).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Nothing yet.

I know everyone is excited to hear when the baby is born. Heck, I'm excited too! So far, we've had numerous "check-ins" from family and friends. Chris's mom and dad have actually started doing drive-bys to check to see if our cars are at the house. Baby stalking. Seriously. That's what it is. 

I'm thinking I might want to come up with a voicemail/answering machine/text/email auto-reply message:

Hi. You've reached Chris and Rachel. 
The baby is still in Rachel's stomach.
You will know when it is no longer in there.
Have a great day! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week 39 Photo

Yep. I think I'm ready for the baby to come out now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Due Date Week

This is due date week. While I don't want to fixate on the date, I am. After all, it's been almost nine months of looking toward this week as the final culmination of an awesome act of God!

As a result of last week's labor fake-out, our hospital bag is packed and we are, I think, ready.

Right now though, prepare to read some due-date-week stream of consciousness writing. I have had so many jumbled thoughts of anticipation, worry, excitement, confusion that I don't even know if I can get them all down. But for the sake of treasuring my jumbled brain, I think I'll write a bit today, without a final destination in mind....

In some ways this pregnancy has felt like nineteen months instead of nine, but other ways, it feels like just yesterday when we found out actually were pregnant. I find myself having mixed feelings about actually having the baby, about actually delivering a baby that will no longer be physically attached to me. Am I weird? 

I have enjoyed "hanging out" with my hanging-out stomach, feeling the baby move around, and anticipating motherhood for the past nine months. There is a selfish, control-freak part of me that wants to keep the baby in my stomach, where nothing can harm him/her, and where I know I am always literally a heartbeat away.

Of course this is not reality, and of course I do want to HOLD and SEE this precious baby. It hasn't been until recently that I have even entertained thoughts of the baby's gender. I think I was so mesmerized by the realization that a BABY was inside of me, let alone a BOY or a GIRL baby. That wasn't important to me. What was important was knowing that he/she was continuing to grow and was safe and was someday going to be ours. 

Ironically, today Princess Kate is in labor in England, and the world is awaiting the news of the Royal Baby. She's been in hiding for the past month so as not to be super-stalked through her last moments as an expectant mother.  I know I've become slightly annoyed with the "Wow, you're still pregnant!" "That baby's not here yet?" "Poor girl. Still plugging alone, huh?" comments from people at church or the grocery store. However, getting some perspective, I bet Princess Kate would have begged for that kind of normalcy right now.

In all of my anticipation for this baby's birth, I do feel sad in a way that Chris and I are no longer going to be Team Knipe, party of two. Instead, it will be Team Knipe, party of three. I know that the third addition to our unit will be so fulfilling, in more ways than we can know. At the same time, I have cherished our time together as a couple, just us. 

When we were trying to conceive for so long, all I wanted was to add a third member to our family. I couldn't even go a few hours without thinking about it, yearning for it. 

I pray that our marriage, our bond as the ORIGINAL Team Knipe, party of two will withstand all that this new baby and this changing world will throw at us--- times of blessing, times of despair, times of joy, times of mundane diaper changing and dishwashing. 

The past two days I spent on the couch. I had a lyme disease flare-up, which basically left me feeling 113 years old (aching joints, fever, headache). With an additional 30ish pounds pulling on my joints and a baby who likes to dance in utero, I was not feeling too hot. I couldn't get comfortable. I was hot. I was cold. I couldn't sleep. I was fearful that in this time of exhaustion and pain, I would go into labor, feeling already like I had been hit by a MAC truck. 

But through it all, Team Knipe, party of one, took care of me. I didn't even need to tell him what I needed. Chris just knew. As I reflect back at this weekend, where I was a jumbled, crying, mess of a very pregnant lady, I saw Chris being exactly who I needed, divinely appointed to love me up! 

I know that life isn't perfect. I know there will be days and nights when Chris and I are not on the same page. I know the baby will add a new element to our Team, but the reality is, we've got a really good Coach. The best one in fact. We have an all-knowing Coach, who knows what's coming next, who sees just how we all need to know love and peace. As long as we keep the Coach front and center, we're going to be fine.... all three of us.

For now, we wait. The waiting is made just a little bit easier because we know the Coach has been waiting to give us this gift for a long time too. His timing is perfect; He knows the best day and time for baby Knipe to show up. So, we wait with Him, for him/her. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Practice Round One... Check!

Note: I began writing this post LAST Sunday, but the day and then the rest of this week totally got away from me! Anyhow, here's a "fun" story from seven days ago:

Today, Chris and I went to church and then had two picnics scheduled on the calendar for the afternoon. Both places included the option to go swimming--- an option that was very appealing to me at nine months pregnant in the 95 degree heat! However, I didn't even get the chance to plop in the water because we spent the majority of the afternoon on the Labor and Delivery floor at the hospital. That's right: labor fake-out number one led us to the hospital today. Here's the now-comical, rundown of events:

We got to the picnic and I took a seat on a three-person swing in the shade. I sat for an hour or so and when I stood up, I realized the back of my dress was completely soaked. Weird, I thought. I know I didn't pee my pants.... Did I sit on something wet? Were the cushions wet on the swing?

I nonchalantly tried to see if the other two spots on the swing were wet. They were not. But the middle seat, where I had been sitting, was wet. Was it wet from me? Was it wet previously? I would have felt that when I first sat down, right? And then... as if out of nowhere...a revelation: Holy cow! Maybe my water broke!

I tried to stealthily grab Chris to come to the bathroom with me so I could have another opinion weigh in on the wet dress situation.

Chris: Rachel, the bathroom is inside to the left. Do you really need me to come with you?

Me: YES. (accompanied by the Rachel-Knipe-look-of death)

We got into the bathroom and I show him the back of my dress.

Me: I think my water broke. 

Chris: What? No. Wait. What?

Me: Seriously. I think my water broke. I checked the cushions on the seat and the only one that was wet was the one that I was just sitting on. I don't know whether it was wet because of me, or if it was already wet, although I would have felt that when I first sat down? I don't know.

Chris: Okay. What do we do? 

Me: Call the doctor to see if I need to come in.

And so I called the hospital and was told I needed to come in to be checked. And so began a comical series of events that Chris and I now refer to as: Practice Round One.

We jumped in the car, leaving the picnic quickly (attempting to NOT be seen by the masses so before we actually knew what was going on).

We drove home (without the radio on because Chris said he needed to concentrate. I was laughing), threw some essentials into a bag, and headed to the hospital. The hospital is five minutes from our house. We have been there, over a dozen times in the last few months alone, so surely Chris would know where to park, right? False.

We pulled into a spot and Chris says: Are you okay?!

My reply: Are YOU okay? Calm down. I'm fine. And we are not in the right parking lot so we need to drive around to the other side of the hospital.

Chris: Right. Duh.

Upon arrival to the Labor and Delivery floor, we were asked to show ID and insurance info.... At that moment, I realized that I had left my purse at the picnic and that Chris's wallet was IN that purse (located about a half an hour away).

So there we were, two educated, usually competent adults without photo ID or insurance information. Classic.

The admitting nurse was sweet and said we could get all hooked up the monitors and get in a room without such credentials, but should we really be in labor, we would need someone to drop them off soon!

We got back into one of the labor and delivery suites. I got into a gown. Got an arm bracelet--- it felt like a legitimate scenario!

After some time on the monitor and a few "fun" tests, the midwife determined that my water had not broken and that it didn't appear that I was in labor.

I felt like a total idiot. I didn't pee my pants. Honestly, I didn't. Perhaps I was the lucky one who got a seat cushion at the picnic that had some moisture in it that slowly soaked through my dress to my underwear? Who the heck knows. All in all, I felt like a total looser, but a looser who now has one practice round under her belt! And in reality, I think it was more beneficial for Chris than for me. After all, that kid needs to learn to calm down!

Here's to hoping that the next time we step onto the Labor and Delivery floor it will be the real deal!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poison ivy, a crying cat, and bee stings

We've had a crazy couple of days in the Knipe household of late. Sometimes I think we live in a zoo, and we don't even have kids yet! 

This past weekend, Chris and I continued our attack on our jungle, I mean, our yard. Our one acre property continues to grow and thrive (thanks to tons of rain and humidity) with all sorts of jungle-like vines, trees, and shrubs. We have cleared much of it away, yet somehow, it keeps coming back! 

One of our core projects was our front hedge row. I once again trimmed them (proof that a 9 month pregnant woman can indeed handle a hedge trimmer) as Chris worked to pull out the random other plants growing in the hedges. On his hands and knees, he worked for over three hours thinning out and pruning the base of the hedges. They look great..... Chris's arms and legs, however look awful---- poison ivy strikes the guy again!

Chris is super allergic to poison ivy, so he tried to take the proper precautions: He wore long sleeves and gloves, came in immediately and showered with the turbo anti-poison soap, yet within two hours, he had red rashes break out all over him! Poor guy!

We no sooner came in from hedge trimming to realize that our super fat cat Lewis had vomited all over the first floor. Further, poor cat couldn't even make it to the litter box to...well, you know. Needless to say, it was a mess. 

A few days of this routine and Lew Cat started looking pretty ill. Yesterday, I drug him to the vet, his least favorite place! I had to crawl under the bed to drag him out, literally kicking and screaming.

 Picture this: Me, 9 months pregnant, carrying a 20 pound cat, hissing and crying loudly, into the vet's office. It was NOT awesome.

After leaving Lew at the vet for some further testing, Chris and I headed outside to do more yard work--- death! I was working near the back deck and out of the corner of my eye, I see Chris running like a madman toward me, arms flailing. 

Chris: "Get them off! Get them off!"

Me; "Who? What? Use your words!"

Chris: "Bees! Bees! Stinging me! Help!"

First of all, who runs, with bees trailing him, toward the pregnant woman? I mean, really?! Second, who is concerned about modesty when one has stirred up a hornet's nest? Apparently Chris. It is imperative to strip off all clothing or the person will just keep getting stung repeatedly; as I am trying to verbalize this to Chris, he refuses to take his clothes off outside and thinks it's a great idea to run INSIDE the house with 30 bees on his tail. Not smart.

Needless to say, it was quite a night. 

Chris looks like a train wreck -- poison ivy on his arms and legs intermixed with bee sting marks. He is one hot, soon-to-be-dad. 

Here's to hoping we can get ourselves together before D-Day. But then, why should we? Our future child will see we're nuts soon enough. Why hide it?

Monday, July 8, 2013

37 Weeks

At 37 weeks, Chris and I still have not solidified a baby name for either gender nor have we packed our hospital bags.... The way I figure it, we will need something to do when I'm in early labor at home:) 

The "plan" (and I use that term loosely) is to stick it out for as long as we can at home (preferably watching Father of the Bride Part II---- my all-time favorite movie) until we need to head to the hospital. I am all about distraction from pain, so I'm thinking Steve Martin should help out in that department. 

I was reading one of my pregnancy books today and it said that at 37 weeks, the baby is officially full-term. While I am glad to read the baby is pretty much "baked" I think Baby Knipe needs a few more weeks to develop some extra squeezable cheeks:) 

Documenting for Posterity's Sake

Below are pictures of the neutral nursery--- I don't think it will be this pristine in a few weeks; I'm imagining baby spit up, stained clothes, dirty diapers, etc. For now though, it's almost finished, and I love walking into this space! Quite a dramatic change from a year ago when I refused to enter this room, depressed at the thought that it wouldn't ever be used for a nursery! What a difference a year makes...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Precious Gifts

The baby showers have come and gone--- all five of them! I wrote in a post a few weeks back about my discomfort with baby showers and any situation where I feel indebted to someone else (see Pride and Pregnancy). I think God wanted to stretch me a bit to work on this area.

Not only were the showers super thoughtful, where others went way above and beyond with food, decor, gifts etc., but they were attended by so many people whom have been a part of our lives over the past twenty-nine years.

Added to the showers, have been the incredibly thoughtful gestures of friends and family. Yesterday I received a call from David, a former teaching friend from Philadelphia. He said he plans to drive up to Williamsport this week to drop off a gift for me. I told him he should just ship it, that he didn't need to make the trek to central PA. He said he wanted to give it to me personally, that it was too big, too important to ship traditionally.

What the heck could it be?

He went on to tell me the story of he and his wife's infertility journey, how they finally became pregnant with a baby but lost it just a few weeks after giving birth (Side note: sharing stories like that to a very pregnant woman, emotions and hormones in all, will lead to sobbing over the phone).

David's father had made them a one-of-a-kind wooden cradle for their baby. David and his wife have had the cradle for years, not really knowing what to do with it, but not really feeling comfortable giving it away either. That is, until now. He wants us to have the cradle.

How can we even receive such a precious gift? I thought.

And that got me thinking some more. We all know John 3:16. We know God gave His only son to die for us. Yet, do we really grasp that gift? Can we really comprehend that sacrifice, that love?

My friend David is giving us a cherished gift, one that, even with my pride issues, crumbles me and humbles me. Even more so should I value the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I love how God knows exactly how to teach me and mold me. He knows what I need--- I need visuals. I need analogies. I need direct stories of comparison for illustration purposes.

The cradle that we will receive from David symbolizes so much more to me now, and I can only imagine how I'll feel when it's holding my son or daughter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Childhood Best Pals

Baby Bumps: Emily 30 wks, Rachel 36 wks

Emily and I were two peas in a pod growing up. We had personalities that meshed perfectly--- I was the direct, outgoing one, and Em was the reserved, sweet one. I do believe she was my first Christian friend; what an awesome opportunity to catch up with her after years of being apart. We've shared many milestones together throughout the years... never did I think we'd be sharing this one together too! God is good!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pride and Pregnancy

I've been feeling convicted of late... I've been struggling with pride issues. Over the course of the past few weeks, Chris and I have been "showered" with three baby showers (two surprises, one I knew about in advance). Added to those three are the two that are coming up in the next two weekends (Knipe Family and Meckbach Family). What is the problem, you ask? You must have gotten tons of gifts! 

I am the problem. I have always had issues with showers. When I got married, I didn't even have a bridal shower. I didn't want one and refused to allow friends or family to throw them for me. The idea of sitting in a chair while the masses watched me open presents one by one, seemed exhausting, appeared to be no fun, and made me feel uncomfortable.

My real issue here is that I don't like the idea of asking or needing people to buy me things. It makes me feel indebted, like I can't obtain stuff on my own. Even as I write that, I  realize I sound snotty and unappreciative. I really don't intend to come across that way, but I know sometimes I do.

I believe I get it honestly: My father has always hated his birthdays or Christmases because of the gift thing. He lavishes others with financial gifts frequently, yet does not like to open the smallest of gifts given to him. I remember, as a kid, being so excited to give him something, only to see him quickly open it, say thanks, and change the subject. I recall other instances where family members or friends attempted to pay for his dinner at a restaurant and my dad subsequently throwing a fit about it. Conversely, my dad is guilty of paying for entire tables and walking out without them knowing. He likes to give. He is generous. He just hates being on the receiving end. He is a wonderful, generous man. But somewhere inside, there is an issue of pride.

I acknowledge I have a pride issue. I want others to feel that I do not need any help and that I can do things on my own, or buy things on my own... I don't want to feel indebted to anyone. 

I have a healthy amount of pride in what Chris and I have worked hard for--- our marriage, our home, our jobs, our degrees. Pride is not always bad-- it is good to feel proud of hard work and accomplishment. However, when I'm too proud to graciously accept help or gifts from people who want to give to me, that is a problem.

Yesterday I had a conversation with my cousin, who is also currently pregnant. Whether she realized it or not, she gave me some perspective. She and her husband live in Florida, away from family and friends. Her husband's extended family consists of two people: his mother and his brother. My cousin knows she will have one shower given by our family and that will be it. She said, "When I heard you were having so many showers, I was jealous at first. You and Chris are so lucky to have so many people who want to support you and give you stuff to prepare for the baby. I threw myself a pity party after hearing about your showers when I knew I would only be having one. I know that's messed up, but I was jealous that you guys would be given so much and have so much support and I would be in Florida, away from all of that."

My pride is so large that it often obstructs my view of the sweet things others want to do for me. God is not calling me to LOVE bridal and baby showers, but he is calling me, commanding me to be humble and to be gracious, to have a soft heart for the people who want to support us, to let them support us.

This is not an easy lesson for me to learn. I am working on it. I just have to remember all of the times I have gotten excited to give a gift to my dad, yet have felt apprehensive because I knew he didn't like receiving gifts. I don't want to steal that excitement from someone who wants to give me something. It's not fair to them and honestly, it's not how God calls me to react.

Family shower #1 is this weekend. I'll report on my "humility-training" next week.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breastfeeding Class

God has a sense of humor. Last week, Chris and I waltzed into the Breastfeeding 101 class at the hospital; it was a 90 minute crash course in breastfeeding. Chris wasn't originally going to come along. I didn't think he needed to as clearly, I am the one with the integral anatomy required for the task. But, Chris wanted to come, saying he needed to be in the loop too: "We're in this together, right?"

I fully expected to see no other testosterone represented at the class. I was completely wrong! There were about ten other couples there, both husbands and wives,  ready to learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Oh the joy!

What I noticed next upon stepping into the room, was a blast from my past---- my first kiss! There he to his very pregnant wife. (I told you God has a sense of humor!)

He immediately jumped up out of his seat and walked over to give me a hug.

"Bob": "Imagine seeing you here!"

Me: "Yes, wow. I didn't know you and your wife were expecting. Congratulations!"

"Bob": "Yes. We are expecting a little girl in a few weeks. We have read so much and taken four classes. I even took the Father Boot Camp course last week. We are excited for this breastfeeding class so we can be even more ready for the baby! "

Ready for their future daughter... now that was an understatement coming from Type-A First-Kiss Boy. You'll see why:

Some background---- I've known "Bob" since birth. Our families attended the same church for the first 20 plus years of my life. During that time, "Bob" and I were in Sunday School and youth group together. What stood out most about him, as I thought back, was his fierce competitive nature.

From bible sword drills to other games, he was always the most competitive guy participating. He broke a girl's collarbone playing ultimate frisbee, only weeks before her wedding. I mean, come on! It's church fun, but not kill-or-be-killed! ( I do know he felt really bad about it though!)

Let's just say that nothing has really changed with regard to "Bob's" competitiveness.  Chris and I sat in the back of the breastfeeding class and watched as his hand was ALWAYS the first to shoot up to answer a question or to correct the breastfeeding instructor. Seriously?!? She is the licensed lactation consultant!

I know that I am competitive too. I am not denying that. In fact, as we walked out to the parking lot after class, Chris says:

"Can you imagine if you'd married "Bob"! Your kid would annihilate everyone in every game or activity. He or she would have no friends because they would be too intense. Seriously. It is good you married a low-key, pleasant-natured person like me."

Ha. Ha. Yes, Chris Knipe. You're right.

All in all, it was a comical night. From watching videos about nipple confusion and engorged breasts, to seeing my first kiss, I am once again reminded that God does indeed have a sense of humor....How can you not laugh at that? Chris actually  reprimanded me several times for laughing too hard at a "formal class" that couples paid to attend. Formal? If I learned anything it is that there is nothing formal about breastfeeding!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pillows, pillows, everywhere!

My stomach is getting bigger. No shock there. As a result, I really can only sleep on my sides. My FAVORITE* sleeping position is sleeping on my stomach, but clearly that is out of the question at this point. So, each night, I put a pillow between my legs (to help relieve the pressure on my knees) and a pillow under my stomach on whichever side I am sleeping. Then, of course, there are the two pillows that my head rests upon. So four pillows total-- not too shabby.

This pillow process has been going on for about the last month. I am used to it; apparently, Chris is not.

Two nights ago, I woke up to go to the bathroom (I'm usually averaging about three trips per night). I got back into bed, did the meticulous pillow placement, and started to drift off when, all of the the sudden, Chris jolts, sitting straight up in bed. He grabs one of my four pillows and says, "Seriously! I can't handle this! I am being attacked by these pillows! Everywhere! Pillows!"

I can't even utter a word in retort before he lays down and falls completely back to sleep! 

The next morning, I approached him about the outburst. He had no recollection of this incident. Apparently, subconsciously, he hates the excess pillows in our bed.

*Sidenote: A few weeks ago, Chris and I went to the beach for a few days. By far the most romantic things he did for me was dig a hole in the sand for me so I could take a nap ON MY STOMACH. Bliss. Pure bliss.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Down to single digits

Nine weeks and counting; that is how long we have until the baby comes. That is how long Chris and I have as a married couple with no childcare responsibilities. That is how long we have not to worry about anyone but ourselves. Our lives are going to change. I acknowledge that. And while I am thrilled and eager for the change, I am a bit scared. (I think this is normal though).

The realization that Chris and my worlds are going to change, pretty much forever, is a bit daunting. I shock myself even as I type those words because, as you know, we've wanted to share our worlds with a child for so long. The realization that we are going to have a baby in our house, in our cars, in our cart at the grocery store, in our row at church, in our day to day lives is finally hitting me.

All the while, I am eager to see how God will pave the parenting journey. I think I have this vision of what it will be like, but at the same time, I know that realistically, nothing ever goes according to plan.

My anxiety level lessens a bit when I think about God's providence on our journey so far. He walks before us, knowing every step we take. And perhaps even more important, he walks WITH us as we take each step.

So, even though I've been having weird dreams and have ongoing parenting scenarios playing in my head more frequently of late, I have to remind myself of the One who is along for this ride too.

I'm okay. We're okay.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hedge Trimming and Pregnancy

I love to be outside working in our yard, and that's a good thing considering we have much work to be done! When we moved into our house last summer, the property had many jungle-like qualities. Since that time, we have mowed, weed-wacked, cut down trees, dug up stumps... the list goes on and on.

We have a hedge row that borders the front of our property. Yesterday, while giving the hedges a late spring trim, a man walks by me and says, "Wow. A pregnant woman using a hedge-trimmer. Now that is scary!"

I wanted to say, "Not as scary as it will become in .2 seconds if you don't stop staring at me!"

That's right. Keep walking. Nothing here to see.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

20 Paths to Positive

Take a look at Shady Grove's first e-book, 20 Paths to Positive, filled with inspirational, authentic stories from couples that have experienced all aspects of infertility. This e-book was written by patients, for patients; it's an honest view into the lives of couples on their journeys to parenthood.

Monday, May 13, 2013

29 Weeks

Note to self for future reference: At 29 weeks, you felt good; no major aches or pains. You didn't feel ginormous. You didn't feel little either. Just pregnant and looking forward to weeks 30 and beyond. You're really starting to understand that you will in fact have a baby in your house in 75ish days.

(Continuing the monthly photo chronicling. Note: This maternity shirt is comfy but slightly resembles a tent. I don't think I am as big as this photo depicts... At least in my mind's eye, I'm not! )

Mother's Day Mixed Feelings

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and while the day was clearly easier for me than in years past, I spent the day experiencing mixed emotions. Yes, there is a baby in my stomach and yes, that means I am going to be a mom in July. I should be elated, right? Don't get me wrong. I am elated; it's just that my elation has a memory--- a memory of times past when motherhood was this distant, seemingly unattainable, club that I was refused admittance.

I love that people see me (and my belly) and tell me how cute I look. I adore that women and men alike smile at the sight of my belly and the visual reminder of a future tiny life. I would by lying if I said I didn't enjoy the extra attention and focus at church and family gatherings.

All the while though, I am torn because I remember how I felt BEFORE this pregnancy experience. Before, it just felt like was I not interesting enough or normal enough for family and friends to treat me like someone "in the club." Clearly I was not purposely excluded from discussions. I have an amazing group of friends and family who love me dearly! At the same time though, there is only so much talk of breastfeeding, potty training, temper tantrums, pregnancy cravings, and labor and delivery stories that one can take! And even the discussions that were not about babies and children somehow felt like they were, to me, a sensitive gal trying to begin a family. 

So as another Mother's Day passes, I pledge to remember how it feels to be standing on the outside of the imaginary "baby" bubble looking in. I promise to seek out and authentically desire to know about the lives of women and couples who don't have children. After all  we MUST have more in common than our abilities to reproduce, right? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sugar, Sugar

Last week, I went for my scheduled glucose screening test. I am not a medical professional, but I am told by one that most generally, women go for glucose testing between weeks 24-28 of their pregnancies to check for the possibility of developing the high blood sugar condition known as gestational diabetes.

I was not worried about this test; compared to the IVF process, I assumed drinking a "glucose cocktail" and then getting blood drawn would be no biggie. I fasted overnight and went in the morning to drink the glucose drink and then have my blood drawn. The drink was pretty gross, but not intolerable. It tasted like flat Sprite and had a syrupy consistency. I had to drink it in under five minutes and then wait in the waiting room to have my blood drawn 60 minutes later. Not a big deal.

Two days later, my doctor called to tell me I failed the glucose test. Apparently normal tests reveal sugar levels under 130 milligrams. My level was 155 milligrams. My doctor told me I would have to go back and do a three hour glucose tolerance test.

I have heard of a few women who failed the initial screening test, but I really didn't think I would fail it; I am, for the most part, a healthy eater, within normal weight range (well, pregnancy changes that a bit, but I am still within normal) and I have no history of dibetes in my family. Further, I am not a member of a high risk ethnic group (Hispanic, African American, Native American, or Asian).

So what causes gestational diabetes? Thanks to WebMD, here it is in a nutshell:

Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance as a result of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. That means that their blood sugar may be higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. During the later part of pregnancy (the third trimester), these hormonal changes place pregnant woman at risk for gestational diabetes.
During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones made in the placenta (the organ that connects the baby by the umbilical cord to the uterus) help shift nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. Other hormones are produced by the placenta to help prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar. They work by resisting the actions of insulin.
Over the course of the pregnancy, these hormones lead to progressive impaired glucose intolerance (higher blood sugar levels). To try to decrease blood sugar levels, the body makes more insulin to get glucose into cells to be used for energy.
Usually the mother's pancreas is able to produce more insulin (about three times the normal amount) to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones on blood sugar levels. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the effect of the increased hormones during pregnancy, blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.

This morning, I went back to the lab for the longer test. The test started with fasting and a baseline blood sample. Then, an hour later, I drank the glucose cocktail (gross, again) and then every hour for three hours, I had blood drawn. This way, it could be seen how my body processes glucose over time.

Should my results indicate I do have gestational diabetes, this is not a huge deal. Yes, I will need to monitor my sugar levels more closely, and perhaps it means I can't reach for the extra cookie.

Complications that can arrise from gestational diabetes can lead to over-nutrition and excess growth of the baby. This may not sound bad, but over time, a women with GD can end up with some pretty big babies, which, come delivery day, may not be fun at all!

I have yet to hear back from the doctor's office about my results. For a while, Chris and I were joking that I was growing a monster in my stomach because of how hungry I was during the second trimester. Who knows... maybe I am growing one. A BIG one!

5/7/13 Update: The nurse called and said I "passed" the second screening! I think I hear the ice cream sandwiches in the fridge calling my name... Just kidding! This sugar test certainly has me more aware of my sugar intake. I am not going to 'diet' or exclude sugar, but I will be more mindful of not reaching for a second ice cream sandwich:)