Monday, October 28, 2013

life things

Hi, friends.

I just wanted to give you a quick update about life things. I have officially been on the new job for a week and I am so happy there. I have already learned so much, I really enjoy the people I work with and for, and the flexibility slash 7-minute commute makes me do this each morning when I wake:
{image source}
Part of the flexibility includes going in later (much to my dismay) to keep us at part-time status at daycare. This has been a somewhat interesting transition for all of us because it means I get home right as Jon is getting Elden ready for bed. I don't like missing evenings with Elden and apparently neither does he--one night last week he heard the mail carrier outside, assumed it was me, and apparently collapsed on the floor in an unhappy ball for about five minutes (toddler eternity) when I didn't come through. Slay my heart with a wooden stake, whydontcha. We just keep telling ourselves it's temporary and trucking along.

Do you remember my short-lived quest to find a suitable PSL replacement? For my birthday, my big sissy got me this bad boy:
63 fluid ounces of liquid heaven
This has been a game changer. I think this beast is about $20 for 63 ounces. And you guys? No takebacks. I froze half of it to carry me well into 2014 and I think next year I'll just forego any store-bought PSLs for the big thang of syrup. I've been adding some to my coffee every day and HOLY JEEZ. Worth it.

This. Heart explosion.

As for miscarriage happenings, my hopefully last hCG draw is tomorrow. Please pray for the big fat zero. Other than that Jon and I are doing remarkably well. We have had so much support from family, friend and strangers alike that has just humbled us in a profound way. Thank you times infinity. When we found out it was going to end I told Jon I wanted to drink a bottle of some delicious champagne (not to celebrate, of course, but since I would be able to drink in general and more or less drown my sorrows... yes I know that is bad) when it was over. This is partly because I had nary a drink for my 25th birthday celebration (I faked-out my friends with mocktails that looked like cocktails... thanks barkeep for playing along!) and felt like I was owed some pleasure from such an overall awful situation. I had somewhat forgotten about it until Jon mentioned it on a grocery store run and I am so glad he did. I drank this whole bottle over a 4-day period. Solo. Because I'm a beast.
Okay, so maybe not handling it quite as well as I had previously thought. Don't worry, the next time a bottle graces our home will likely be 2015.

This. Heart explosion part deux.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

leaves

This morning we had some friends over for fall brunch. Leaf jumping was had & here are some of my favorite pictures:
We also too the kiddos to the JC Penney trick-or-treat. Elden promptly ate each piece of candy as he received it while simultaneously signing "more." Tonight is Akron's trick-or-treat and my dad is coming over to help me take Elden to a few houses followed by handing out candy at our own. Truthfully, today is Halloween in my mind so it will be weird when the actual day rolls around...

Friday, October 25, 2013

fashionable friday

Let's be honest. 'Danielle' is hardly synonymous with 'fashionable.' Fashion was never a huge interest of mine. If given the option for a shopping spree I would request to use it at a grocery store because food. That being said, I actually have to dress up at the new gig which was not required at the last gig. While totally casual was super easy on the wallet and lifestyle it bred laziness. I'd sometimes wear the shirt I slept in to work for pete's sake. Since I am expected to look professional now it's actually fostered creativity and excitement in my life and I'm really enjoying picking out my outfit each day. Since this excitement is destined to wear off I wanted to occasionally document my experiences while I'm still in it to win it:
  
Disclaimer: I pose awkwardly for photos of just me
sleepy eyes @ 6:15 am
tired eyes @ 3:45 pm
The cardigan was a second-hand salvage from a coworker, the shirt is from H&M circa 2011 (?), the skirt is from Burlington Coat Factory from forever ago, and the boots are from one of those cheapy shoe outlet type stores (twelve dolla). I am well aware that I have about forty-seven colors in this outfit but that's me. Pushing the envelope since '88!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

how we had planned on announcing it.

I'm sorry if I've been a total downer this past week. I promise I won't write about miscarriage forever. It's just the most relevant topic in my life right now as it is constantly on my mind. I had some bloodwork done yesterday to recheck my hCG and it had gone down dramatically to 61. I go back in one week for what is hopefully the final draw that will yield a big fat zero so I can finally put this chapter behind me. It sucks having the constant reminder of weekly appointments. I look like I've been abusing drugs with all of the bruises and marks I have on my arms and hands.

I digress.

Jon and I had brainstormed ways we were going to tell family, friends and the social media universe once the reality of the pregnancy set in. The most common 2nd/3rd/etc. child announcements seem to be sending the wee one out with a "big brother"/"big sister" shirt, doing the family picture of husband holding child + wife = 4, or taking a picture of the elder sibling crying their crib with the eviction notice effective [due date] sign hanging nearby. I'm guessing any of you on Pinterest have images of the three prior ideas flowing through your minds right now. It's not that there's anything wrong with those ideas, but Jon and I are hipsters and therefore we go against the grain. It's in our nature. I eventually stumbled across a picture that served as inspiration for Nikki except the original was announcing the couple's first pregnancy. I instantly fell in love with it. Simple yet slightly mysterious. This is what Nikki was able to capture for us when we took our family pictures:
I apologize for my almost crotch shot thanks to my angry toddler+dress. 
I wanted to share these because Jon and I talked about it and we didn't want to use them for any other pregnancy. I still really like the sentiment behind them and had things worked out it would have been nice to show our son or daughter one day to share how loved he or she was from day one. I'm not sure whether or how we'll announce future pregnancies thanks to my newly discovered angst regarding such announcements. At the same time, I see the value in sharing such a sentiment with a child as he or she grows. Perhaps we'll save a cutesy announcement for just our immediate family and do a very simple proclamation elsewhere out of respect for those around us who are experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility. I just don't know. It will be a while before we have to think about that. In any case, there it is.

Thank you so much, Nikki, for capturing these moments. Thank you for also keeping these images from us in the immediate aftermath of discovering the loss. It was exactly what our hearts needed at that time and your foresight was incredible.

Monday, October 21, 2013

life

Forgive me if this post rambles on or if there are obvious typos. It's late and I'm writing on my phone. I'm probably not going to proofread, either. It's just that I process my emotions best externally and writing things out helps me find clarity. Clarity is something I could use right now.

As a Christian, I've held the belief life begins at conception basically since forever merely because it's what I was taught. It wasn't until this miscarriage that I really started to explore that notion. As far as I'm aware, there was never a heartbeat in this pregnancy. I miscarried before the heart would have even developed. There was also no brain and the baby would not have been recognizable as such--not by a long shot. However, based on my definition of life I will have a child to meet in heaven one day that I knew not on this earth.

I can't wrap my mind around that. I just don't understand how or what that might look like. And if this was indeed a baby that had a soul, how do we move forward? If/when we try to get pregnant again one day would that be our third child? How do we do right by the second baby, the one we lost, moving forward? I've been contemplating sharing the picture we took that was going to be used as the big announcement for the impending arrival of our second child. It doesn't feel right to use it for any other pregnancy but it gives an honest glimpse of the anticipation we were feeling. And the picture itself will lend itself to the reason why I'm questioning how we refer to any subsequent children we have moving forward.

This miscarriage has also changed the way I view pregnancy announcements. I have already seen a few on blogs I read since I knew a miscarriage was imminent and it broke my heart. The longing I felt. And I'm able to get pregnant. I can't imagine the pain of women who are in the throes of infertility battles as they stumble upon such posts. Then there's the notion of "blessed with a child." I know I've said it before. That suggests anyone who can't have a child or experiences the loss of a pregnancy is not favored in the eyes of God or can't be entrusted with a little life. I just can't get on board with that concept. Smack me if I ever say that again.

I guess this is all just to say that reality has begun to settle in and I don't know where to begin processing everything that's happened. Our lives will never be the same. If I go on to get pregnant again eventually that entire pregnancy will be plagued with fear, grief and confusion. And I hate that I'm letting that be the legacy of my second child. But I don't know how to avoid it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

miscarriage: final chapter

Before I get into this, I just wanted to thank everyone for the comments, messages, texts, and phone calls. Your love during this time has meant the world to us. I wish so many of you didn't have similar stories to share with me, but your braveness and peace has given me immense hope.

--

The worst part about all of this was the waiting. The unknown. I've heard terrible stories about miscarriages and the physical pain associated with them. This doesn't even take into consideration the emotional toll. With the waiting, I didn't know whether this would indeed end prematurely. Then when I found out it would I didn't know how long I would have to wait. How long would it take my body to recognize the life within was no more? I dreaded every single trip to the bathroom for fear of what I would find.

Around 10:30 am on Thursday my fears were realized. Spotting. Dark brown. This was surely the beginning.

Then the cramping on my left side began. Not moderate, so I didn't freak out too much but I called my doctor nonetheless. They were fantastic and squeezed me in for an afternoon appointment instead of my previously-scheduled Friday one. An ultrasound seemed to indicate it was not ectopic but my OB wasn't 100% sure because my levels were so low. They re-drew my blood to look at both my progesterone levels and hCG again. The doctor more or less indicated he expected nature to take care of things on its own but since he couldn't be positive it wasn't ectopic he wanted me to keep coming in every week or so to re-check hCG until it reached 0. Failure to go down could indicate either ectopic or demonstrate that I would need a D&C. I left with strict instructions to call if cramping occurred or bleeding got worse. By that night the blood was red.

Friday morning was my first at the new job. When the results of my bloodwork from the day before came back (hCG was 403 and progesterone was less than 1) their office called to schedule an appointment for another draw on Monday morning since it was a bad sign the hCG had continued to increase. I happened to mention that I was both cramping and the bleeding was quite heavy at this point but that I wasn't alarmed by any of it. This is what a miscarriage is. Cramping wasn't localized to a specific side and it felt like normal menstrual cramps. The receptionist spoke with a nurse who spoke to my OB who instructed me I had to go to OB Triage.

Mortified doesn't begin to explain the conversation I had to have with my new (male) boss. Um, yeah. I was pregnant, unexpectedly, but now I'm not, or at least I don't appear to be. But they don't know if it's ectopic so I have to go to the ER. I'm so sorry. I will be back as soon as it's over. Luckily, he was incredibly understanding and my female coworker accompanied me the entire time. They checked my cervix (closed), redrew blood, and did an ultrasound. For a hot second the ultrasound seemed to show fluid in my right Fallopian tube which is bad news but upon further review they decided it was likely a "spontaneous miscarriage" and not a tubal pregnancy. My hCG did go down slightly to 375 which is what they would want to see to help rule out the ectopic. The final step was to get a Rhogam shot. It hadn't even occurred to me that I would need this since the pregnancy failed and there was no baby at risk, but I've since read up on it and understand that they gave it to me to protect future pregnancies. With that I was on my way back to work for the rest of the day.

The only thing worse than the waiting was the clots and tissue. It was way too early to make anything out of it but just seeing tissue that normally isn't present for a period was quite unsettling--another reminder of what we were losing. The bleeding has finally slowed. If nothing else, I am grateful that my physical discomfort during this has been pretty minimal. I still have to go in tomorrow morning for another hCG check and likely again later this week. I think I'm doing remarkably well with regard to handling this all, but it feels like maybe I'm faking myself out? I'm not quite ready to give myself a gold star for perseverance because I have this ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For now we are waiting for this process to be over and to be given a clean bill of health. Then we will sit down to figure out where our hearts are and how we look towards the future. In all, I just can't seem to get over the fact that I will have a little soul to greet one day that I know nothing about. I don't know what to make of that...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

in which i freaked the heck out

originally written 10/2/13:

Let's set the scene. It's 8 pm on October 2nd, the day I quit my job. My period is due on October 4th. I don't feel right. Jon accused me of being pregnant a few days prior because "this is the first time you haven't been complaining that your period feels like it's coming any day now." I say no way, but he's getting inside my head.

I take a Dollar Tree pregnancy test. I think you know where this is going.

Three minutes and lots of held breaths later, do I see an ever faint line? I call in Jon. "I think maybe." The faintest of faint it borders on invisible; we can't be sure.

I book it to the corner Walgreens.

You guys. I quit my job today. What if I'm pregnant? I won't qualify for FMLA at my new job in time to have a baby in nine months--will they fire me? No one will hire a pregnant woman. We're royally effed.

I walk out with a Clearblue 2-pack. I book it home.

I drink lots of orange juice and wait an hour and fifteen minutes.

I bust out the fancy digital pee stick because I am NOT doing this 'what if' game again.

The little blinking hourglass appears, taunting me. I cover the rest so I can't read the results. I'm not mentally prepared.

Three minutes pass; the hourglass is gone meaning the results are posted. Deep breath, Jon by my side, I remove the paper covering the rest of the test.
Well, there we have it. Kids, let this be a lesson to you: it literally DOES only take one time (for realsies, I can tell you the exact date this happened). Even if you don't think there's any chance in heck you could get pregnant. You can. And, if your husband has super swimmers, you will.

--

10/11/13: 

I went in for an hCG analysis on Monday. My levels were low--175. For reference, the same exact time in my pregnancy with Elden I was around 600. The doc wasn't too alarmed but naturally I am. I have to go back in on Monday for a repeat draw to see if my numbers are increasing as expected. I'll get those results Tuesday and will be a nervous wreck until then.

--

10/15/13:

Follow-up hCG was only 303. The OB wants me to come in at 2 to "discuss the plan." I'm a mess.

Friday, October 18, 2013

national pregnancy & infant loss remembrance day

originally written on October 15, 2013:

Today I joined a club I hoped not to.

Today I found out I am very likely to lose a pregnancy--the first time I will have lost a pregnancy. On National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The irony is not lost on me. I've always been a pretty literal person so it's fitting that stuff should hit the fan on its national day.

The tale is relatively brief, but I will be saving it for another day. In the meantime, I will post a blog that I had begun writing the day I found out I was expecting our second child. It gives you a pretty good idea of what happened because I added to it as things developed. I have jumbled and mixed emotions at the moment. Yet, in a twisted sense, I think God prepared my heart for this. The pregnancy was unexpected so I did not immediately attach to the prospect of a baby like I did with Elden. With the job change thrown in the mix I was actually pretty weary of how this pregnancy would impact our family. I somehow knew this pregnancy wasn't going to survive so that made it more tolerable when the word came that it is "likely abnormal" and "will probably end." I did my fair share of crying, though, especially when I told my mom everything; we had been waiting to tell our families because the first hCG test wasn't stellar. I'm glad we waited so they didn't have the crushing disappointment that follows such typically-joyous news.

We'll be okay. One huge blessing that I am grateful for in all of this is that we have Elden. That somehow lessens the blow for me, knowing I have a baby at home to love on fiercely. I have an appointment at the doctor in just over an hour to "discuss the plan." I'm not really sure what 'the plan' is or what this visit will entail. Thankfully, the time that they asked me to come in is a time that Jon is available so I don't have to go alone. I've been sitting here for five minutes trying to figure out how to neatly wrap up this post, but nothing is coming to me. How could I? We've lost a member of our family, our child. No matter how small. No matter how crazy this addition would make our lives. No matter how nervous I was about needing to divide my attention and wondering whether Elden would understand that we still loved him deeply. It's a loss. And it hurts.

--

At my appointment the doctor confirmed everything. Levels aren't increasing even close to what they should (hCG went from 175 to 303 in a full week). I may have an ectopic pregnancy although I have no risk factors for one. I have to go back first thing Friday morning for an ultrasound to rule an ectopic out, as well as bloodwork to recheck my hCG and progesterone levels. He said there's a slim chance this could go on to be a normal pregnancy and "as long as it's not ectopic I'm willing to ride it out and see what happens" but that the odds are not in our favor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the last.

Today is my last day at my current job--effective tomorrow, gone are the days of hour-long commutes that should take half that time. This has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for a variety of reasons that I will be getting into very soon, but for now I'm looking forward to beginning this new chapter with nervous anticipation.

Here are a few other things that have been going on in our parts lately:
1. For my birthday we had family dinner at P.F. Changs and my mom made fantastic chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert at our house after. My dad snapped this pic of our little man cruisin' around the house:
2. After family birthday celebration two dear girlfriends and I hit the town! First stop: Starbucks to refuel our energy. Second stop: creepy rando bar in Akron that had about 10 old people at that we quickly left. Final stop: other rando bar in Akron that was somewhat of a cross between a sports bar and a club that was actually really fun!
We stayed out til just after 1 (1:45 if you count a Swenson's run) which is essentially unheard of in my book. This is normally where I am come 9:
(bed)
3. Have you heard of Julia Nunes? She played a show at our house last night as part of her living room tour so about 30 strangers made their way over to enjoy it. It was actually really fun and she is crazy talented.
We don't have any concrete plans this weekend for which I am grateful. Given the ups and downs of the last 4-odd weeks I just want to rest. It doesn't help that Elden has not been himself yesterday or today and only wants to be held (for a hot second... then he wants down and when you oblige he cries) and is therefore extra attention-needy. Happy Thursday, ya'll.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

team flip 2013 family pictures

Over the weekend, our talented friend, Nikki of Nine Zero Three Photography, took our annual family pictures. We are absolutely thrilled with what she got! There were so many to choose from, but here are my absolute faves:
Nikki (& Jim!) - thank you so much for giving us such beautiful images to remember this stage in our lives by. We can't wait until next year :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

fall haps

I hope to hop back on the blogging wagon with regularity very soon. In preparation for the big job transition I've been running around like a crazy person trying to figure out things like schedules. Since I won't be working in Cleveland anymore I won't be able to bring Elden to Jon's mom or my mom once per week so our schedule required some reworking. We also have the whole slew of physicals, blood work, etc. necessary to switch insurance coverage. Translation: we're pretty busy but for all good things.

Elden is a lean mean walking machine. He's certainly getting braver each day. Just the other night he walked from his crib to his dresser to me back to the dresser, etc. If you hold his hand while walking he will often let go of it and take off on his own. Unfortunately for him, he's inherited his mama's grace so he still tumbles on the reg. Maybe eventually he'll learn how to thrive in the feet he's been born unto!

I also celebrated my 25th birthday on Wednesday. It was quite low-key; Jon and I ordered take-out from Aladdin's after Elden went to bed. We're celebrating with my family and Jon's parents tomorrow night at P.F. Chang's, though, followed by a girls night out.

Elden also had the great fortune of inheriting his mama's eczema. He has it pretty bad in his left arm crease (the inside of the elbow) as well as on the back of his right knee. We've been applying a strict regimen of generic skin cream and prescribed hydrocortisone cream and I think it's finally starting to clear it up.

We've been doing lots of this while we still have the chance:

Elden has also been doing lots of this:
Which a dear friend pointed out happens to look like this:
{Image Source}
Tomorrow morning my friend, Nikki from Nine Zero Three Photography, will be taking our annual family portraits. You may remember her fame from our maternity sesh, as well as our Christmas cards circa 2011. We have some grandiose plans and I'm just hoping the weather, baby, etc. cooperate and it all works out the way we're envisioning!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

14 months

At 14 months old, Elden is walking more frequently each day and has been pulling himself to standing in the middle of the floor without help and taking steps. With this territory also comes several bumps and bruises, but he's certainly persistent. Elden currently wears size 5 shoes and is in primarily 12 month clothing. The biggest battle for us is the pants--size 12M is too short but size 18M is too loose on his waist. Elden can now point out his nose, belly, leg, and belly button and will happily pull your shirt up to look at your button as well. His appetite amazes me; at dinner the other night he ate a whole turkey burger patty, grapes, apricots, a cheese stick, oyster crackers, and a pumpkin cookie. He kept signing 'more' and then when I'd go "MORE!??!" he would giggle knowingly. I think he's working himself down to one 2-hour nap per day because the 2nd nap has been MIA the last three or so days. Elden has slept from 6:30 pm - 7 am the last few days so it's been nice getting a little extra morning snooze. He also seems to make everything into a car--the other night he was pushing mixing bowls upside down along the floor as if they had wheels for about twenty minutes (or, a lifetime in toddler minutes). He's been mostly healthy with the exception of a rash that's been hanging out (and now spreading) for about a week and a half now, so we're going to go ahead and get that checked out. Love this little stinker beyond words!

Friday, October 4, 2013

birthday treats

With my birthday just around the corner I've begun getting all my promotional commercial offers. Most of the time it's the offer for your entree free in a restaurant, but since we'd have to buy for Jon and Elden I just delete those. Two of my faves came today, though: my free Starbucks drink or food item and a $10 World Market gift certificate.

I cashed in my World Market cert and got:
-birch candle, spiced apple apple cider & mortar and pestle

Once I redeemed the $10 cert, I owed $0.50. Not too shabby for being on a budget :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

new beginnings

As I alluded a few weeks ago, there have been some mighty decisions Jon and I had been weighing that were taking a serious toll on my emotional well-being as of late.

Well, everything sort of fell into place, and all appropriate parties have been notified, so I can finally share some of what has been going on in this little space:

I submitted my resignation letter to work this week.

This decision was not one we made lightly. I had been offered an amazing research job at a local hospital with higher pay and benefits that are overwhelmingly fantastic. Sick kiddo childcare (and my new employer pays 80% of the cost). Paid sick time I could take for Elden if I didn't want to take him to sick daycare. Short-term disability insurance. Vision. Dental. Covered maternity leave. A 100% flexible schedule. A little bit more money. 7-minute drive from home (compared to my 40-minute each way commute at my current [last?] job). Ample learning opportunities. My company was very small so I understand why we didn't have these perks. But at the end of the day, I need to take care of my family, so we decided to close that chapter in my life and open the next.

My last day at my current job will be Thursday, October 17. I'm going to miss these folks like crazy. One benefit to being in such a small company is the relationships you make with your coworkers: I intend on continuing my friendship with most of them, if they'll have me.

This change will certainly not be without its challenges: I have a lot to learn (including the layout of the surprisingly complex hospital system) and a lot of unknowns in the coming weeks. However, Jon and I both have peace that this was the right decision for our family