Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Zoo

The dino exhibit at the MN Zoo is the coolest! I saw an advertisement that said "we're 95% sure they are fake."  They are HUGE and they even move and make dinosaur noises.

The dino exhibit was by far my favorite, but I'm pretty sure the boys liked the farm exhibit the best. Yes. The cows, goats, pigs, and tractors. Go figure! A trip to Grandpa Denny's farm would have been cheaper!

As you can see from the pictures, the boys have started dressing themselves - and even choosing different outfits. 

It took a long time for them to get this close to the T-Rex. They were so real!
Thanks to P, we knew exactly where we were going.

Mason brushing the goats
Johnny Popper

After the dinos and the farm animals this bear was about as exciting to the boys as  a crow in our backyard. Sorry, bear.
Erika, M and P at the Bird Show

On the tractor headed to the farm. See what I mean about the excitement!?
The milking demonstration. I think the boys were just plain confused.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brothers of the Sun

There's nothing better than an outdoor concert. It felt so good to hang out with some of my favorite people, enjoy the gorgeous Minnesota July weather, and listen to some great music. Ben's first music choice may not be country, but he definitely had a good time. (Perhaps it was the $9.50 beers?) Oh, and the cheese balls for dinner were a tribute to the headliner of the Brothers of the Sun tour, "Kenny Cheeseball" as Ben calls him....better known as Kenny Chesney.

Cara: as promised, the much anticipated collage.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Brainerd Vacation

And now (big sigh), on to happier posts.

We recently spent a week up north in the Brainerd Lakes area. Gull Lake.

This was a trip that we had planned months ago.  After everything that happened the timing was good in the sense that was nice to be able to get away. Sad in the sense that it felt like something was missing...

Despite some sad moments, we had a complete blast. The boys soaked up every ounce of attention that they were given (which was a lot!) and they had so much fun. It's so much fun to see them so happy - and to see them experience cabin living for the first time!

boat rides...smores...games of yatzee...drinks and pizza at zorbaz...the boys' first time fishing...gorgeous sunsets...storms over the lake...mosquitos...cabin life...feet in the sand...ice cream dessert...naps on the boat...no naps...late bedtimes...mini golf...water slides...sand castles...tubing behind the boat...visits from family...no work...no schedule...

A few of my favorites...






Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Frank

June 7, 2012. A day that changed our lives forrrrrever.

Stepping back a few months to February 6, 2012. This was one of the best days of my life. My two perfect boys turned 3. I was sharing the day with them and on top of that, I found out I was pregnant.

And by "found out", I had my first blood draw after IVF #5 (IVF #8 if you count the three we did with the boys). The beta level was high and we couldn't have been more excited.

Several weeks later we got our first glimpse at baby #3...and baby #4. There were two strong heartbeats. At the 6 week and the 8 week mark we were ecstatic to see both babies measuring on track. After all of the infertility bull-shit, this was a true miracle and we could not have been happier. I remember Ben saying that he would have been very happy with "just one", but we both trusted that God had a plan. We knew how to raise twins and we were more than ready to do it again.

Around 12 weeks we had another growth ultrasound. It was devastating. One of the twins had stopped growing and no longer had a heartbeat. Having seen the heartbeat two other times it was shocking. How could this happen? Why did this happen? I was comforted by my boys. I remember them telling me: "It's ok momma....don't be sad." Even though I was devastated and extremely angry and confused, I knew I needed to be strong for Baby B as well as my two little munchkins.

After years of infertility, a total of 8 rounds of IVF, 3 early miscarriages, 2 other late first trimester miscarriages, thousands of dollars, and thousands of shots, pills, doctor appointments, and all of the emotional stress that goes along with it, we felt like it was our turn.

Now that we had a singleton pregnancy, the frequency of the ultrasounds decreased dramatically. That alone made me nervous. With the identical twins we never went more than 2 weeks without checking in via ultrasound. 6.5 more weeks until the next ultrasound!? (12 week mark until the 18.5 week mark.) 

Before miscarrying one of the twins, I had all of these fun ideas about how to announce the pregnancy to family, friends, and even on the blog. So many fun ideas... But after losing one of the twins I just couldn't do it. I didn't tell anyone unless I had to and I felt reservations even when I told family and friends. Did I know something was wrong or was it simply because of all of the loss I had been through?

Shortly after the miscarriage of one of the twins we traveled back to Dedham, IA for Easter. We announced the pregnancy to family with these t-shirts. Little did I know that the next time we would be back in Dedham would be to bury the baby that I was so excited to announce...

The boys started calling the baby "Baby Frank". I'm not sure where it came from, but it stuck.

By 18 weeks I was feeling Baby Frank move. This feeling is one of the most special feelings in this entire world. We were very excited to see the little guy and confirm the sex at the 18 week mark. The doctor had guessed it was a boy at the 12 week mark but we wouldn't know for sure until this u/s. Both Ben and I were praying for a healthy baby. But if (if) we could have chosen we would have chosen a baby boy. 

The 18.5 week u/s revealed that everything looked good...except two minor things. The amniotic fluid level was on the low end of normal. The kidneys were on the large side of normal. Both in the NORMAL range. The perinatologist said he almost didn't even mention these findings as he was convinced it was nothing. He suggested a follow up u/s in 3 weeks. This was a very emotional and scary day. 

I couldn't do anything about the kidney size, but if my fluid intake had even the slightest correlation to the amniotic fluid level, then I was certainly going to drink as much fluid as humanly possible over the next three weeks. And that I did.

The next three weeks were unbelievably long and tense. I was terrified. We prayed. The thought of something being wrong was always at the back (or probably the front) of my mind. There were numerous times that I took this stress out on other people as I impatiently waited for the follow up u/s. We didn't share this potential concern with many people. It was probably nothing. Maybe I just wasn't drinking enough? 

June 7: I was so anxious for the follow up u/s until the day actually arrived. I remember having an empty feeling in my stomach that morning and sending a text message to Ben an hour or so before the 11:00 appointment. It said: "I'm so dreading this."

A mother's intuition....

The ultrasound tech confirmed that the kidneys still looked large. How large? We didn't know until the doctor read the u/s. She wasn't able to see any fluid in the bladder during the entire u/s. The fluid level looked low. Both Ben and I could visibly see that. I started crying. But there was some fluid. The u/s tech left the room. A nurse appeared. She said the doctor would be in shortly to discuss our "options". Options? I looked at Ben. Absolutely terrified. I'm not a doctor, but I know that when you hear the word "options" in a medical setting it's not good.

The doctor came in and stated that Baby Frank's kidneys were not functioning. Because of this, there was essentially no amniotic fluid and therefore no lung development. The doctor used the words "not compatible with life." I felt like she had punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. And then reached in and ripped out my heart. 

There are a million details between then and now, but Baby Brother was born on Saturday June 9th, 2012 at Fairview Riverside at 7:03 pm at 22 weeks gestation. Baby Frank weighed just over a pound and was 11 inches long. Ben and I had talked several times about naming the baby but had not been able to agree on a name, so we let his big brothers name him. While delivering him was easily the scariest experience of my life, he was surrounded by more love than I thought possible. He lived for a short time. We got to hold and cuddle Baby Frank. We will be forever grateful for the unbelievably short time we did get to spend with him. 

On June 14th we buried Franklin in Dedham, IA surrounded by beautiful rolling farm fields. 

Words can't describe the last month. While I trust God's plan, it is difficult to understand the good in this. And while I'm beyond thankful for the good in our lives, I am still very sad for this loss. 

We talk about Baby Frank often and I know that one day we will get to hold him again.

Thank you to all of our amazing family and friends. I know that it is difficult to know what to say or do in times like these, but know that all of your thoughts, prayers, and kind gestures are very much appreciated. We love you all.

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