Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Benjamin is here!

Benjamin Craig Knipe

October 7, 2016 8:03 AM
7 pounds, 10 ounces

Oh my goodness. I don't even know where to begin. It's been a week and a half since Ben arrived, and I am still in awe of this sweet boy! Everything with the c-section went well; we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM and by 8:03, Benjamin was here and healthy. All of the little details were so reviewed by God. Seriously. My nurses were friends, my surgeon endearing... just so many little things that made the process smooth and made me feel at ease.

I remember saying to Chris (about thirty times just that day alone): "I am so relieved. Thank you God. I am so, so relieved that he's here and he's okay."

The c-section and the recovery has been much easier this time compared to Gabe's. Also different is the fact that so far, we have a CHILL BABY. As long as his basic needs are met, Ben is one cool cat. He is just so calm. And he sleeps. Just typing those words freaks me out because I don't want to jinx this experience, this sweet newborn experience. I feel stronger and more rested at a week and a half out than I did with Gabe one month post delivery. 

Right now, we are soaking up these days. I want them to just last and last... new baby smell and snuggling, and sweet Gabe comments about all-things baby and big-brotherhood... Oh, I wish it would last forever. I am thankful and praising God for this experience and this miracle. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Conflicting Emotions

Knowing with certainty that the events of tomorrow will be life-changing has made this day one filled with emotion. I'm so anxious to see this baby. I want him/her to be healthy and I want to see the physical manifestation and validation that yes, there was a baby growing in my stomach these last months. At the same time, I wish tomorrow would wait a bit longer to arrive; time can slow down a bit.

I just put Gabe down for his nap and sobbed through story time and singing. The whole time, he kept asking, "You okay, Mom? You crying, Mom?" He'd pause, nuzzling in closer to me. "It okay, Mom."

I wish I could just freeze moments like that. Moments where I'm so present in my life as a mom.

Why the heck am I bawling my eyes out?! Good question. It's one I've asked myself a few times today already. Answer: It's because today is the last day with just Gabe. It's the most bizarre experience really, to feel so sad today, especially considering the effort, prayers, and angst we've been through these past two years just to get to this place of almost-delivery again.

I have no doubt that we will embrace this baby with open arms, arms eager for this next phase as a family. I'm so curious to know what this baby will act like, who he or she will grow into... Who are you in there?! 

I know that down the road I'll read this post and roll my eyes. I'll think: How could I ever have been SAD over the arrival of ___________ into our family?! Still, I'm pausing today to write so I can remember this odd feeling of both sadness and joy.  If it is possible to feel like I'm mourning something while also eagerly anticipating what's coming next, that's about where I am today. And that's okay.

Monday, September 26, 2016

37 Weeks

I realize the picture above more closely shows our toothbrushes than my belly... Sorry. I was trying to snap a quick picture before heading out the door to church. Still, here's my belly at 37 weeks. Documenting for posterity's stake! 

Next Friday, the baby will be here. I can't believe it. We have reached 37 weeks today and I am once again in that place of being super excited to be so close to delivery while also wanting time to crawl so that I can experience the feelings of pregnancy a bit longer.

I've tried to steer away from thoughts like This could be the last time I'm pregnant. to Okay. Enjoy this. Be present in this gift.

Gabe has been practicing pregnancy too... Either that or he's mocking me. Regardless, he's getting closer to being a big brother!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

33.5 Weeks

Wow. We are at 33.5 weeks! Praise God!

Life has been a bit hairy lately; a good kind of craziness, but craziness nonetheless.

I started twice-weekly non-stress tests two weeks ago. So far nothing of concern has been noted. The baby is healthy and active. We had another ultrasound last week to check for growth and everything looked good on that front too.

We met with our doctor would recommends a C-section for me before my due date. I had wanted to avoid another C-section, but he was concerned that the scar tissue and trauma my uterus has faced so far may cause some barriers to a successful traditional birth.

At this point, we want a baby; however that baby gets out is in God's hands. C-section it is! We will head back to set a date for the section in two weeks. Our doctor would prefer I deliver before my due date so as to not have any complications from the two-vessel umbilical cord. He wants to ensure there isn't any deterioration or problems that could arise from a large baby and an "old" cord.

Honestly, we are just going with the flow at this point. We are grateful to be at 33.5 weeks with a baby still in my stomach!

In case you were wondering, the baby in Gabe's belly is also growing. He tells me that his baby is going to come out soon, so that should be interesting...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

27 Weeks

First bump pic of this pregnancy; the baby is still in there! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Single Umbilical Artery Update

Yesterday we had our appointment with the specialist to take a look at the baby in a more in depth way. The 45-minute drive to Geisinger consisted of Chris and I making small talk about our upcoming beach trip, the weather, Gabe's funny quirks... essentially anything to get the time to pass more quickly as we approached the hospital.

Unknowns make me nervous. I try not to pass that nervous energy on to Chris. Instead, I attempt to integrate humor and sarcasm at any opportunity. Chris knows me well and know this is my go-to course of action when I'm freaked out. He continued to drive, mostly silent except for a few smiles directed at my attempts to make him laugh.

I know he's worked up. I know he Googled. I know he knows so much about genetic and developmental disorders in children; these kiddos are his patients every day. I know he's worried about the news we might receive.

We pulled into the parking lot and prayed. Please be with us today. Help us trust you. 

After 30 minutes, we were finally called back to the ultrasound room. Our tech was warm and she began the ultrasound. She was so thorough! The entire ultrasound look 45 minutes; she explored every inch of the baby! She counted fingers and toes and heart chambers--- everything. We looked away at her instruction, every time the baby's gender might be viewable. We still want that surprise!

I continued make jokes and laugh through it, even though I was sweating and feeling quite nervous. There are few moments in life where you actually have the chance to really pause and consider that your life, with new news, could really, really change. Often we're not privy to such changes ahead of time. Instead, I was all too well aware that the news we might receive could be significant.

When the ultrasound was finished, the tech directed us to a room where we would wait to meet with the doctors. As we waited, I tried to talk about the baby's features; his/her nose and profile look just like Gabe's. Even in the midst of the stress, I will never tire of seeing the baby in utero! So neat!

With a knock on the door, the doctors came in to give us the findings. They introduced themselves as High Risk Specialists (that did not make me feel calm). They then told us that the baby looked great; he/she is measuring perfectly and there are no fetal abnormalities beyond the single umbilical artery issue that would warrant further genetic testing. The excess kidney/renal fluid has diminished as well and it is within a normal range.

An audible sigh of relief came from Chris. My shoulders fell, and I could feel relief wash over me.

The single umbilical artery, occurring in less than 1% of pregnancies, is still the greatest cause for concern moving forward. While the baby is growing and appears completely fine right now, we will need to monitor the baby weekly to ensure that his/her growth continues and that he/she is not stressed in utero. I will have more ultrasounds and twice weekly non-stress tests to make sure everything is still okay.

The doctors told me to pay close attention to the baby's movement-- If I don't feel the baby move for a signifiant chunk of time, I should get to the hospital to ensure nothing has happened. The umbilical cord is the baby's lifeline until birth, so we need to be sure it remains in tact. While the SUA issue makes me squirm a bit, I am just so relieved to know that is the only component upon which we need to focus right now.

Today, I continue to praise God, my Strong Tower for walking with me through this week!

And in two days, it's off to the beach! We can't wait!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

21 Weeks and Counting

I can't believe it's been over a month since I've posted. Summer is in full swing here and between swimming, church events, baseball games, camping, and family gatherings, we've been pretty busy! Once I turned the 16-week corner, I really have been feeling fantastic; I'm hungry again and my energy is back. I love being pregnant and I am continually reminded of just how special carrying a baby can be.

I've been able to feel the baby move a lot more recently; Chris even got to feel him/her kick a few times too. We had our 20 week ultrasound last week and it was really sweet to be able to see the baby on the screen moving and grooving around.

We did get some unsettling news at our ultrasound, however. The tech found that I have a two vessel umbilical cord, as opposed to the traditional three-vessel cord. We're told that 1% of all pregnancies occur where a two-vessel exists. Many of the babies are born without any complications at all, while in others, complications can occur.

We also found out that the baby currently has "excess renal fluid" which can be directly correlated to the two-vessel cord. Traditionally in a three-vessel cord, one of the vessels brings the baby nutrients, while the other two are used to eliminate waste. Because there is only one vessel eliminating waste in the baby's case, some additional fluid is present.

Because we were flagged as "abnormal" after the ultrasound, the doctor recommended we go see a specialist and have a more involved ultrasound to really get a detailed look at what's going on. The doctor also suggested we think about genetic testing as both the two-vessel cord and the excess renal fluid issue have been tied to syndrome diagnoses in SOME babies.

After we got home from the appointment, I Googled for about five minutes and then promptly shut my laptop. Google is not my friend right now and in fact, it only adds to my anxiety.

We are waiting for a call this week to head to our specialist appointment. Right now, the baby is not in danger and everything is okay. The doctor just wants us to be armed with additional knowledge and insight about the potential complications and impacts of this news. I totally get that. Right now though, I am just reminding myself that this baby is a a GIFT, a gift directly from God to us. I don't want to loose sight of that, ever.

We don't know anything else at this point, so we are working very hard (and staying very busy) so as to not fixate on the what-ifs of weeks down the road.

Today, I choose to trust that God knows exactly what's up, and we're not alone in it at all. Praise God for the peace I feel; it's only from Him!

Monday, May 2, 2016

One year ago...

Today is May 2nd. Last year on this day, Chris's grandfather unexpectedly collapsed in front of us and then passed away after we were unable to revive him. The day was tragic in so many ways. 

I will never forget sitting in the grass while the hearse came for Chris's grandfather's body. It was then when my phone rang. A fertility clinic nurse was calling to tell me that another IVF round had failed. I wasn't pregnant. 

I so vividly remember hanging up and folding my face in my hands and crying harder. Sobbing, heart-wrenching cries to God. 

Where are you?

How can this be happening?

Do you hear me God?!

I'm sure you've had moments like that. Moments where you can't see or feel God. Moments where you feel isolated and misunderstood. You want to be comforted, yet there's no one who "gets it." God feels a million miles away.

Man... If we could only see the future we would know that we would come through those valleys stronger. If we could see the path ahead we would understand that God's plan is the right one, the one that is absolutely perfect for our lives. Easier said than done, I know... Sometimes life completely blinds us to the truths of who God is, who He's proven to be throughout our lives. 

I'm so thankful that those blind spots don't last forever. I'm grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit as my companion to guide me out of those bleak days.

Chris and I weren't healed from that painful day overnight. It's been a journey for us; we've talked and cried and prayed for understanding. We just wanted to understand WHY. 

Then our prayers changed. We simply started praying that God would give us peaceful hearts, even without any understanding of His ways. 

Sitting here, one year since that agonizing day, I CAN see God's hand at work in my life even though I CAN'T  see all of the reasoning behind each painful experience I've faced. Still, He's been good enough to give me some insight and the time to connect a few of the dots. He's creating a masterpiece. A messy, inconceivable-at-this-moment masterpiece called my life. He's using the dark times and the wonderful times. He's using them. Nothing is wasted. 

Wherever you are today, it is my earnest prayer that you be able to catch of glimpse of your Masterpiece Maker. Only a glimpse into His character and loving spirit can be just enough to pull us toward Him and toward the truth of who He is. 

Our lives aren't perfect. Our futures are unknown. So cling to what is known, the truths of who God is even when our lives look messy and hectic. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

A SWEET thank-you

We have reached the 12 week mark today! 

How do you thank your doctor and nurses at your fertility clinic? Sweet treats, of course! My friend Lisa (https://www.facebook.com/springorinda.baked/?fref=ts) made these cookies for the Shady Grove staff. Aren't they awesome? I mean, there's a cookie that's an embryo! 

Monday, March 14, 2016


On Friday, we went to our 8 week check-up at Shady Grove, our final appointment with Dr. Sasson. After a quick ultrasound to see the baby, Dr. Sasson asked us to meet him in the hallway where he presented us with a handwritten note and an ultrasound photo. What made the moment even more sweet was the fact that Gabe was with us. We had never brought Gabe back to meet Dr. Sasson or the nurses at Shady Grove so it was a precious, emotional moment as we introduced him to the nurses who helped us through our first IVF three years ago.

As we headed out the office doors to the car, I blinked back tears, just thinking about the amazing gifts we have in Gabe and this next baby. Of course I'm thankful for Dr. Sasson and Shady Grove, but most of all, I'm thankful that God directed our steps to such a wonderful place.

At this point, we are in the 5% miscarriage rate category. We hope to hold out for a few more weeks before telling the masses about our news.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Early heartbeat!

We got to listen to the baby's heart beating... 117 beats per minute. Dr. Sasson said the baby's heart just started to beat a few days ago. So surreal and amazing!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Waiting for a heartbeat

On Friday (2/26) Chris and I head to Shady Grove for the first ultrasound. I have a complete mix of emotions. I am thrilled at the thought that the ultrasound will show that there's actually something  IN my uterus, instead of the dark, fuzzy, empty screen I see every other visit. I am thrilled that we will be able to hear a heartbeat on Friday.

I am scared that something could be wrong. What if we don't hear anything, no heartbeat on Friday?

I think both emotions are normal.

I keep coming back to what I know to be true about God, His character qualities, who He is.... And that's where I have to rest until Friday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

There's a baby in there!

On Friday, after many hours of waiting, Dr. Sasson's office called to tell me my HCG number was 1447--- Which means there is a baby in there!

I went back to the lab yesterday to do a repeat of the blood work. We were hoping for the 1447 number to at least double. Today, I found out my HCG number was at 4400. Good stuff!  A baby is in there and it's growing!

Friday, February 12, 2016

More waiting. Why not?!

(9:52 AM) I went to the lab at 7 AM this morning to have my blood drawn. The lab tech told me they would "try" to get the results sent to Shady Grove by the end of the day today.

Shockingly, I have not taken a HPT in two days. My compulsive pee-on-a-stick nature subsided for two whole days. Now though, I am eagerly/anxiously awaiting the REAL DEAL results from the lab. Please be real. Please be still in there, baby Knipe!

So, yeah. More waiting today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

10 Days Post Transfer

I can't lie. I can't hide it. I peed on a stick. Like, many sticks. And they all indicate that there IS a baby in there! Of course I want to shout this truth to everyone and anyone, yet we need to wait until Friday's blood work confirms it. Even after Friday, we will be waiting many weeks before making this news public.

And yet, I'm broadcasting it here. Why? To offer hope to you who are still journeying. To speak of the goodness of God.

And because I just can't contain this news. You would think that five positive home pregnancy tests would accelerate my belief that there IS a baby in there. I just can't believe it!

Monday, February 1, 2016

2 Days Post Transfer

Our transfer was Saturday morning. It went smoothly; we were the only transfer patients at the office that morning and it was nice to feel some undivided attention from Dr. Sasson before our transfer. Dr. Sasson was really "in the zone" and reviewed his notes about the transfer with the staff before we started. The whole process felt less rushed than the other transfers I've experienced.

We watched on the monitor as the embryo was placed in my uterus. It is such a surreal experience. One second there is no life in there and the next, there is this spot, this tiny mass of living cells that could grow into a Knipe.

My bloodwork for the pregnancy test is not until 2/12. That's 11 days from now.

In some ways, I want these days to FLY by. In other ways, I want to stay in this period of unknown because it's safer than a negative result. The unknown is better than a negative known. The logic there is not super strong, but hey, it's how I see it right now.

Last week, two of my good friends told me that they were expecting. I am happy for both ladies because each couple will truly be fantastic parents. Still, jealousy creeps up, like a punch in the stomach.

What if this doesn't work? What then?

Evey time I raise that question, I can practically hear God calling me back.

"Rachel! I'm here! I'm here. I know you don't get it but I do. Trust me."

Chris and I prayed last night and he said, "God please give us peace. Help us to trust you." That's really all we can pray right now.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Debbie just called with our transfer time for Saturday: 10 AM.

A wave of nerves just smacked against me. Good nerves, like the kind you feel before you step on stage, or the kind you get right before you hear the starting gun explode before a race.

Nerves nonetheless.

Every time the hope of pregnancy creeps up inside me, I try to squash it down so I don't set myself up for even more pain. Truth is though, that disappointment is disappointment, whether now or later.

Please God. Please let this be the time it works.

Even as I type those words, I fear, I pray, I hope.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Feelings...Leading up to FET # 3

I have no clue how it happened, but we've somehow arrived at the end of January. I've just returned from a whirlwind work trip to Memphis; I successfully navigated the Blizzard of 2016 in the NorthEast and made it back safely to Williamsport late last night. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out!

Preparing for and traveling to/from the work trip was a great diversion from this current FET cycle. I did have to bring some meds with me on the trip (my shots passed through security but I did have a doctor's note just in case).

And now I'm here, the Monday before the Saturday when we transfer a little Knipe embryo. In in five days we will be catapulted back into the dreaded two-week-wait.

I do it every cycle: I somehow manage to detach from the process for the most part. I am able to chug through my busy/sweet/exhausting/exhilarating/mundane days with Chris and Gabe until... SMACK. The realization occurs that soon, a six-day-old life will placed in my uterus. I can't detach from that. 

And that means I have to feel. Feeling is scary. Feeling underscores that I am a human, someone who can be elated or crushed. Happy or sad. Brave or scared. Feeling is scary.

But some feelings can be good. 

I feel at peace with the decision we made that this FET will be our last for a few years. We had to draw a line somewhere. God helped us see this line. This is where we part ways from fertility-land either way, if we're pregnant or if we're not.

I feel united with Chris. We are a team. Whatever happens, we will be together in it and come out together too.

I feel the desire to cling to what I know to be true about who God is and what His promises are for me.

I feel many emotions today... And in fifteen minutes, I might feel something completely different. For now, I am hopeful yet guarded, if that combination can be understood.

I know God gets me. He understands right where I am. He's with me. I feel it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Not only ONE WAY

I have a Day 3 baseline ultrasound and bloodwork appointment in Harrisburg tomorrow.... I have to admit that a month away from the fertility circus was so wonderful. I actually went DAYS without thinking about my uterus. Really. I did. And it was glorious.

To recap, we have two frozen embryos remaining from our October IVF cycle. We have done one frozen embryo transfer (in Nov) and that did not work. We plan to do another frozen embryo transfer this month (Jan 28th). If that doesn't work, we are pulling away from fertility land and heading to adoption.

Yes, we will still have one frozen embryo remaining. That little potential life will be something we pursue a few years from now, after we adopt (if that's what God's planning for us?!). Chris came up with this "plan" of sorts, and I feel peaceful about it.

Will it be difficult if this January embryo doesn't want to stick around with us? YES. Will we move forward as a family? YES.

I was reminded of something my therapist said to me a few months back. We (as humans) usually have ONE WAY in mind for how we want something to go. We have ONE WAY that we think will work. We have ONE WAY we'd prefer.

Sometimes though, God teaches us, shows us, that THERE CAN BE MORE THAN ONE WAY.

Those words are heavy and hard to take in all at once, especially for control freaks like me who think they know it all. Slowly though, I am beginning to accept this idea; God's way is the best way and He loves me enough to plan the BEST way for me, even when it doesn't match up with my version of MY best way.