Mothering Through Miscarriage

When we first moved to northern New Jersey last October, I worked really hard to network and make new friends for the boys and I. Like, no kidding, I got on The Facebook and searched things like, “Mommy Groups in [my town],” or “[My town] Moms.” My least favorite thing about parenting has always been other parents, because other parents — mothers especially — can be so judgmental. I strive to be the type of mom friend that, instead of saying, “This is the right way to do it…” says “This is how we do it.” We, as in my husband and I. Not implying that there is a right and wrong way, because I really don’t believe there is. Just sharing what works for us. Finding other parents with this mindset has been surprisingly scarce, but thanks to all those late night Facebook-surfing mommy group investigations, I was able to find an incredible group of 6 other mamas that have truly become my closest friends here in NJ.

My #momtribe, as I call them, has been incredible. We ask each other questions without being judged; we look out for each other’s kiddos when we’re out together; we plan preschool classes and field trips and fun events for our 2 and 3 year olds to do together. We celebrate each other’s joys, empathize during each other’s difficult parenting moments, offer suggestions about anything needed, and in recent weeks… mourn each other’s losses. When I found out I was pregnant, I told my #momtribe early. Earlier than I would announce it publicly or even share it with my long-time friends, because these are the mamas I see every week and the ones to ask about the best OB, what hospitals to deliver at, etc. They know my boys and they know my lifestyle. I also told them as soon as I found out I lost our baby. Within the day, they were quick to tell me that they were cooking our meals for the rest of the week and offered love, support, and wonderful food.

Truth: All I wanted to do was shut down when I found out about our loss. And for 24 hours, I pretty much did. Josh took care of our boys while I stayed in bed. My mama friends took care of our meals. The day Josh went back to work, I sat on the floor with Preston and Troy and just cried and cried while Preston came up to hug me and say in his sweet, little voice, “Hi Mommy. Hi. Mommy? Hi Mommy.” I canceled all of our commitments, classes and appointments for the entire week and just stayed home with the boys, working through everything as best I could.

But when you’re a mama, and you have two little humans who completely depend on you while daddy is at work, you have to keep going.

It’s like Dory says, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do we do? We swim, swim swim.”

The day it happened was the day before Preston’s third surgery to have tubes put in his ears again. The week it happened was the same week Troy got his first ear infection, ever. Talk about timing, right?

Each day, it became a little easier. The bleeding was nonstop for 2 weeks, but emotionally, I became more accepting and at peace, little by little. Of course it’s all blown to smithereens when I hear a song like “Concrete Angel” with lyrics like “fly to a place where she’s loved” and bawl my eyes out, hoping our angel baby knew he/she was loved. The hormones during this process? Out of control. Like, hella crazy. Like, my emotions have been from zero to sixty within 60 freaking seconds, at least for 2 weeks straight. I think that’s all normal, though? I think it’s part of the process?

I’ve been doing a lot better as the weeks have gone on. With everything going on in our lives right now, it’s almost impossible to slow down and grieve. I start to feel guilty for even needing to grieve when others in our country have suffered so much recently between natural disasters and mass shootings. I am blessed with two beautiful and healthy boys, a hardworking husband, and the ability to be home for all 3 of them. But still, it’s okay to grieve and it’s okay to move forward. This mess has become my message. Me, mine. This may not be the “right” way to do it, but it’s the way I’m doing it.

I Will Carry You

“I will carry you
while your heart beats here”
-Selah

I can count on one hand the three worst experiences of my life. The first, when I was in my early 20s and my parents separated. The second, when I was 25 and Joshua was deployed to Afghanistan; I received the phone call from one of my closest friends that her fiancé’s humvee hit an IED. The third, just two weeks ago, when I lost our baby at 9 weeks pregnant. 

We didn’t plan to have them this close together. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant. Shocked, terrified, scared, and then excited. Before announcing it to anyone other than a few close family members, we got right back into planning. We had the sleeping arrangements worked out for our two-bedroom townhouse; we had the minivan chosen that we would trade our RAV4 in for. (Yes– minivan! Who would have thought…) We had baby names– two for a girl, two for a boy. I made a small list of the simple baby items we would need. We had our announcement video idea set, and the day to film it was marked on the calendar.  I was feeling all the pregnancy symptoms earlier than with my first two. We were preparing. We were getting ready. 

I knew something wasn’t right when the spotting I’d been experiencing since my 6-week ultrasound didn’t stop. At that 6-week appointment, I saw and heard our sweet baby’s heartbeat. It was a tiny flicker on the screen, a beat of 145 bpm. I measured 6 weeks and 3 days at that appointment. 

But by the end of my 8th week of pregnancy, the spotting had turned bright red. I went in to see my OB at 9 weeks pregnant, and still, she said it could be normal. She sent me for an ultrasound. 

When I went in for the appointment, the ultrasound tech asked if I wanted to see the screen. I told her yes, mentally preparing myself for the worst but still hoping for the best. It sucked being there alone, but Josh was home with the boys and I’m glad they weren’t with us. 

I watched as she marked her measurements, then zoomed in on our baby. I didn’t see the flicker. I saw the shapes of the baby’s eyes and hands, but no heartbeat. Then she turned on the sound and heart rate monitor. It was a flat line. It was silent. 

Up until that point, I’d still been cautiously hopeful, not knowing how I would react if this were the outcome. But then as I stared at that flat line on the monitor, I felt my own heart just ache. And then a slow, stinging sadness took over.

This loss is unlike any I have experienced. It’s such a personal, private loss. It’s the loss of the life inside me. It’s the loss of a future. It’s the loss of a heartbeat. 

I held it together until I was able to get back to my car. I called my doctor before I called Josh because, like me, he likes to have a plan in place and I wanted to know what to tell him. I knew logically what I would have to do if I had lost the baby, that somehow I would have to pass it, but my OB gave me 3 options: 1. Let it pass naturally, 2. Take a pill to make it pass, or 3. Have a D&C surgery to take it out.

Hating every option, I chose the second. I hated that pill. I hated that I had to take it twice because it didn’t “work” the first time. I hated knowing what it was supposed to be doing. I hated the word “tissue” and the phrase “when you pass tissue” even more. But more than that, I hated the idea of surgery and I hated the thought of it being weeks before the “tissue” passed on its own.

I feel guilty for thinking I might feel relieved when it happened, but all I feel is sadness. I feel heartbroken. I feel devastated. 

I’m trying to remind myself that this must be part of God’s plan. There must be a reason that such an unexpected blessing was given to us, and then taken away. I need constant reminding. I still may need a D&C, but I couldn’t make it to my follow-up appointment this week because Troy is sick, so there might be more to come. Hopefully not. 

My heart aches for the mothers I know who have lost their babies before they got to meet them, who I couldn’t be there for because I didn’t understand. 

I understand now. If you’ve been through this or you go through this in the future, I’m here for you. Whether I know you personally or not. Whether we talked yesterday or haven’t talked in years. Whether you want to cry to someone, or just say it out loud to someone. 

I’m so incredibly sad, sorry, and heartbroken. 💔

“I will carry you
all my life”

Our 2nd Pregnancy Announcement & Gender Reveal!

I’m here to share some exciting news, with much more to come! A month or so ago, we shared this little video we made for our friends and family on Facebook. Our little Preston is the cutest superhero I ever did see. And what does every superhero need?

A sidekick, of course! You may remember that we also created a video to announce our pregnancy with Preston in the spring of 2014. Well, here we are in the spring of 2016 with a new announcement and a gender reveal! We knew that we wanted to film a second video and I wanted to use the same happy song from our first. Coming up with the ideas for our superhero was the fun part! It took us a bit longer than anticipated to film, but I like to think it was worth the wait!

Finding Out We Were Expecting

I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2 on January 6th, 2016. We had just returned home from spending New Year’s in Florida visiting family, and out of nowhere (the day before), Joshua asked me if we had something sweet to eat. Mind you, he never eats sweets let alone asks for something sweet, and I believe his exact words were, “This is going to sound crazy, but do we have anything sweet to eat?” Bam! “I must be pregnant!” I told him. The last time he asked for something sweet was when I was pregnant with Preston, and it just hit me that this might be it! He of course told me not to be ridiculous. We had been trying for 4 months but we had decided to stop for awhile.

The month we stopped trying was the month we conceived!

All the signs were there, too. On December 30th, I got sick while we were on vacation. I had a head cold, sore throat, a cough, and an eye infection all at once. Ironically, I was sick for a couple of weeks with a terrible sinus infection right before I found out I was pregnant with Preston. Another tip off? The whole time we were in Florida, I was able to eat gluten without side effects. I have a gluten intolerance and I follow a gluten free diet, but when I’m pregnant it magically goes away until delivery day. When I’m not pregnant, I cheat every now and again and have yummy gluten-filled foods, like while on vacation… So I kept waiting for the side effects to show up and none did! Lastly, I had two glasses of wine on Monday, January 4th. Normal to most people, but I don’t really drink. It was the Bachelor season premiere with my friends and I indulged. Meanwhile I hadn’t had a sip in months. The weekend before I found out I was pregnant with Preston, I was out partying and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. So all of these little things on top of Josh asking for a sweet, and I just knew it—I had to be pregnant.

While Josh was at work, I went to CVS to pick up a pregnancy test. I was expecting my period in two days, but it immediately showed up with that happy blue “plus” sign. Positive! I wanted to share it with Joshua in a somewhat creative way, so I placed the positive pregnancy test in a Christmas box with a bow and set it in the kitchen.

That evening when he got home from work, I casually said, “Oh, by the way, we got a late Christmas gift today. It’s right over there for you to open.”

Yup, he was pretty much shocked and not expecting to find what he did! He said something along the lines of OMG-AreYouSerious-ICan’tBelieveIt-ThisIsAwesome. It was hilarious.

The Gender Reveal

From day one, I really thought I was having a girl. My pregnancy symptoms were so opposite of those I had with Preston. Instead of craving fruits, I was craving chocolate. I had terrible nausea the entire first trimester, and none with Preston. I was just exhausted every night and in bed by 8pm (normally I’m a night owl and up past 1am). I broke out all over my chin and neck (yuck!), so of course I was convinced… She has to be a girl!

Then, it’s hard to explain, but Joshua, Preston and I were at a party and I was talking to another mama of two boys who told me that her pregnancy symptoms were opposite just like mine were. For whatever reason, as soon as she said that, my entire mindset and attitude changed and it was like I just knew he was a boy. Intuition? I don’t know? Josh was still convinced we were having a girl.

Being the planners that we are, we scheduled an early gender reveal at 13 weeks. It was St. Patrick’s Day and the three of us went to a local 3D ultrasound place down in Wilmington to find out the news together! Lo and behold…

I shocked myself with how I was feeling when the ultrasound tech told us the news. Instantly, I felt relieved. It’s a boy! I love my boy! I know what to do and what to expect. We have all the right baby clothes, toys, everything! It’s a boy!

So that’s where we are. Ecstatic, relieved, anxious, excited! Preston is going to be a big brother, and his little brother and BFF will be 22 months behind him. We’re so happy!

(Just making sure he’s okay in there. Hehe.)

An Adirondack Nursery

The PK Posse |Preston's Adirondack Nursery

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been dreaming up themes for my babies nurseries. When I became pregnant with Preston, it was finally time to put some of those ideas into action! When I first approached Joshua with the idea of doing an Adirondack themed nursery, he loved it and I was thrilled! I grew up in the ADKs and Josh has been going up there with me since we first met, and we were married right on the gorgeous Lake George – surrounded by our favorite mountains. Since we now live in North Carolina, it was important to both of us to bring “a piece of home” into Preston’s life. Everything here is coastal, beachy, and southern, so we wanted somewhat of the opposite for his nursery.

Another idea both Joshua and I agreed on was that we weren’t really into “baby themes.” We wanted a more masculine theme that Preston could grow up with. We plan for Preston’s room to keep this theme the whole time he lives in our home. Even the crib is a convertible crib, so the back of the crib will become the future headboard of his future full size bed! All in, baby.

The wooden accent wall was something I loved, but Joshua took upon himself to create for Preston. He built the entire wall out of wooden pallets! It was the first piece to go into the nursery and it set up the whole feel for the room. It was a real labor of love! Overall, we’re so pleased with how it all turned out. From the curtains, to the rug, to the paint color, to the bedding, to the wall art, to the furniture, we hand picked every item in this room for our sweet baby boy. Our close friend Shana made the awesome sign hanging over his crib with his name.

Josh and I thrive on a good project we can work on together, and creating this special place for our little darling was such a fun, engaging, creative, heartwarming experience. We couldn’t wait to bring him home into a room we made together, just for him!

Adirondack Nursery Crib, Bedding, Chifferobe Adirondack Nursery | Glider, Double Dresser, Lamps, Mountain Art Adirondack Nursery | Double Dresser, ADK Decor, Mountain Art, Bear Lamp Adirondack Nursery | Chifferobe, CurtainsAdirondack Nursery | ADK DecorAdirondack Nursery | Tree Decor, Bookends, Deer and BearsAdirondack Nursery | Stuffed Animal Mounted Wall Hooks Adirondack Nursery | Rocker Glider, ADK PillowAdirondack Nursery | ADK Bears, Chipmunk

Hope you enjoy and that this inspires anyone else who may be considering an Adirondack, mountain, wilderness, or all around masculine theme for their little one!

Crib, Chifforobe, and Double Dresser | Baby Cache
Glider Rocker and Nursing Ottoman | Shermag (similar)
Moose Rug | Hautman Brothers
Curtains | Alton Print Grommet Window Panels
Adirondack Bedding | Donna Sharp
Wall Hooks, Bear Lamps, Placemats | Lake George, NY and Bolton Landing, NY village shops
Bookends | White Branch
Mountain Art | Etsy
Cabin Light Switch | Rivers Edge

Lastly, since I love a good before and after… Here is what this room looked like before it became Preston’s nursery. What a transformation!

The PK Posse | Former Guest Room

Our Birth Story

PKP-BirthStory1-20August2015

I absolutely love sharing our stories here on our family blog! This might be the best one so far. It’s the day we became parents! This is a continuation from My Pregnancy Story.

On Monday, November 10th, 2014 — The Marine Corps Birthday — I went in for my regular non-stress test (NST) at 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant. At this point, I was at the doctor’s office two days a week. One day for the NST with my OB, the other day at the high risk doctors for an ultrasound. They actually got a good reading and I didn’t have to go to another office for an ultrasound this morning! But… My blood pressure. The doctor said that it was high enough to put both Preston and I in danger, and today was the day I would be induced! “Head on over to the hospital and let’s deliver that baby!” she said. “Can I go home first to get my hospital bag?” I asked. (And get my husband? And bring Lady to the neighbors? And clean my kitchen? And finish up my work emails? And put a little makeup on?) “Nope, you have to go straight to the hospital.” Fortunately, I had already been prepared to be induced at 38 weeks per the doctor’s orders, so my bag was packed and my nesting had kicked in a few weeks prior, so most of the house was already squeaky clean. I even had a last minute list prepared to text Joshua in case of this very scenario.

Thank the Lord that Joshua answered my phone call right away, left work and went home to take care of Lady and get my bag, and met me at the hospital just as I was admitted to a room around noon. The nurses hooked me up to an IV and I pulled up my laptop to wrap up those work emails before my maternity leave started!

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This is where I tell you that I planned to have a natural birth, minus the pitocin. Everyone will tell you that contractions are much worse with pitocin, and that if you’re going to be induced you probably won’t be able to deliver naturally because it’ll hurt too damn bad. Everyone will also tell you that even though you’re induced now, it could take up to 48 hours to actually deliver. The sweet nurses I had told us that I could sit back and relax, because I wouldn’t be having our baby until the next day.

Everyone isn’t always right.

Everyone’s bodies are different.

They started the pitocin around 1:30pm that afternoon, when I was already about 3cm dilated before arriving to the hospital. The contractions started about an hour later, and to be honest, I didn’t even know I was having them. The nurses saw them on the monitor I was hooked up to. Joshua and I had been preparing for our natural birth plan by having a big balance ball in the truck for me to bounce on during contractions, and by planning to walk the hospital hallways to help get through it. But because of my blood pressure, I was not allowed to do either of these things. In fact, I was told I had to stay in the bed. Period. I could only get up to pee.

I had this terrible fear of pooping during labor. I know, it probably sounds silly, but — I absolutely did not want to poop! I knew I’d be able to control my body if I didn’t get an epidural, and that was really important to me. I didn’t want to give Preston unnecessary drugs when I’d already been taking two medications throughout my pregnancy. But the plan to have a natural birth was slowly being taken away after learning that I couldn’t leave the bed.

I was so lucky to have an amazing nurse that had also had natural births, so she was very supportive and encouraging during my entire labor. I knew her shift ended at 7pm, so I wasn’t planning for her to be there for the actual delivery, which I was really hoping for. She had a nursing intern from the local college shadowing her the whole day, too. That was a little awkward, but I thought of all my nursing friends and how good of an experience it would be for them as students, so I gave the okay for her to be in the room with my main nurse.

Then at around 4:30pm, my water broke! It was the oddest feeling ever. It was like a really bad cramp and then suddenly, warm water trickling down my legs. It wasn’t gross, it was just uncomfortable. The nurses checked me and I was 4-5cm dilated. They said, “Wow, you’re progressing sooner than expected! It looks like you’ll be having this baby tonight, probably between 10pm and midnight! Hang in there!” Somehow or other, I convinced Josh to take a nap so he could be well rested for the real work to begin. He reluctantly agreed!

PKP-BirthStory3-rev-20August2015

The contractions started to get stronger and stronger. Each one was worse than the previous one. Finally, I couldn’t take anymore. At 6pm, I begged for an epidural. “Josh, I can’t do this. Josh, I need the epidural. Josh, I can’t. I just can’t. It hurts too bad. I need it. I need it now. Get the nurse. Get the nurse now!” Joshua was so calm, so sweet, and so encouraging. He was really pulling for me to have Preston naturally, and kept trying to talk me out of the epidural. Of course, in my pregnant rage, I just kept getting more and more adamant that I absolutely positively NEEDED it. “I can NOT do this for another 6 hours. I can’t do this until midnight. Get the nurse! Now!”

The nurse came in and said it would take a half hour before the anesthesiologist could come up to the room to administer the epidural. “I feel like I have to push,” I told her. “No sweetie, don’t push, it’s too soon.”

“No, I have to push. Either I have to push or I have to poop, but either way… I HAVE TO PUSH.” So she checked me again, and…

“Honey, you’re 10cm dilated! Let’s bring the doctor in! You don’t have time for the epidural, your baby is coming NOW! You’ve got this! You can do this!”

The doctor arrived, and literally – two pushes later – Preston Kade entered the world at 6:47pm, a mere 5 hours after being induced. Cue the happy tears! I could do it, and I did do it. I felt everything. Everything. It was painful, but it was so worth it.

Joshua cut the umbilical cord and before I could hold him, he was whisked over to the NICU table for a look-over because he was so tiny. 5 lbs 8 oz, 17 3/4 inches long. I yelled across the room to the doctors and Joshua, who was over at the NICU table with him, “His back, how is his back?! His foot, what about his foot?” and Josh yelled back, “He’s perfect! His back and his foot are perfect!”

After they cleaned him and wrapped him up, they finally brought him over to me. As Josh reached out to hand him to me, I saw just how tiny he was and became paralyzed with fear. “Wait, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to hold him. I don’t know what to do! What do I do?!”

Joshua placed him on my chest, and I immediately felt calm. I felt peace. I felt full of love. Joshua and I were both crying as we kissed each other and kissed his sweet, tiny face. It was the most precious moment of my entire life. It was the day we became a family of three.

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I did not develop gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. They labeled me as PIH for “why” they induced me — pregnancy-induced hypertension. Not the same thing as preeclampsia. Preston did not have a club foot or spina bifida. He was born 2 1/2 weeks early and quite tiny for his gestational age, but perfectly healthy. I loved being pregnant and I can’t wait to be pregnant again, but I made a promise to both myself and to Joshua that I would not bring another child into this world until my weight was at a “normal” BMI and my blood pressure was at a “normal” level. I’m so proud to say that I’ve been working very hard at this and nine months later, I’m down 60 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m off all medications and my blood pressure and thyroid are all normal! I have my health back and can’t wait to grow our family after I reach my weight loss goal.

We weren’t trying to conceive when we found out we were expecting, but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe in God and that he has a plan for everyone. Preston was the plan for Joshua and I. He was given to us when we needed him the most, and he’s made our family strong and full of more love than we know what to do with. He’s turned our lives upside down, and made us better people and better partners to one another. He’s the best thing that’s happened to us, hands down. We are so very blessed!

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Other posts in “The Pregnancy Files” series:

Our Pregnancy Announcement
Gender Reveal: #TeamPink or #TeamBlue?
The Pregnancy Questionnaire
My Pregnancy Story
Our Birth Story

Coming soon:

My Baby Bump
Baby Shower Love
An Adirondack Nursery
Holiday Birth Announcements
Favorite Pregnancy Books
Ultrasound Photo Albums
What’s in my Hospital Bag?
Plus Size & Pregnant: Style and Tips
Pregnancy Essentials