Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baby Bumpin' {16 weeks}

Three posts in less than one week!?  Holy cow....what has gotten into me?  I suppose that's what happens when you "conceal" your pregnancy for 17 weeks.  I'm left with lots of catching up to do.  I know that many of you were expecting the "next" post to reveal the gender of our little bubs, but you will just have to sit in suspense a little bit longer!

When I was pregnant with Charlotte we snapped the first "official" belly picture when I hit the 16 week point.  Well...I have since surpassed the 16 week mark with Baby #2, but thought I would share the picture that we took that day!  

16 weeks with little Miss Charlotte - I remember thinking "wow, I am finally starting to LOOK pregnant."  HA!  It just looks like I ate a big dinner!

 16 weeks with Baby Ritchie #2 - Yup, there is definitely a baby in there, but I'm proud to say that at 16 weeks I am still rockin' my skinny jeans (we'll see how long that lasts!).  I feel like I'm a little "rounder" this time  Yes?  No? 

There are a few (obvious) differences between the two pictures above that I should point out:

-Location, location, location!  Matt and I have been in our rental house for 5 months now.  I figured that the owners of our old place wouldn't like me showing up to take monthly pictures in front of that door, so we were forced to pick a new spot.  What a better place than at the end of a hallway with a picture of my 1st little miracle right over my shoulder.  There ended up being a glare on the glass in this shot, but I know that she's there...and that's all that really matters.

-I've switched directions!  After looking through all of my "Baby Bump" pictures from Charlotte, I realized that I my LEFT side is my BETTER side.  I'm crediting it to more hair covering my giant Bogler forehead.  

-I have a head this time around!  Not sure why we opted for JUST the belly in the first 16 weeks.  Weird.  Maybe I looked like I had just rolled out of bed and didn't think it would make for an attractive picture.  Who knows! 

-I'm wearing glasses (FYI, I wasn't wearing glasses in the headless picture).  I won't go there.  This is supposed to be a happy post and glasses definitely do not equal happy for this girl.  GGGRRRRRRRR.

So there you have it - Me and our little 16 week avocado-sized baby.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baby Bumpin' Round 2 {The 1st Trimester}

Because I'm all about "documenting" memories, I’ve been keeping a list of things that I wanted to remember about my pregnancy with Baby Ritchie #2. Now that the cat is officially out of the bag, I can finally share the big highlights that were top secret during the good old first trimester.

10/23: The positive pregnancy test. Matt was in the living room watching Monday Night Football as I sat in the bathroom with a case of shy bladder! Don’t get me wrong…I really had to go…but my nerves were setting in and I knew that within a few minutes we would have a Yes/No answer to whether Charlotte would be a big sister. When I saw the word “pregnant” appear on the pregnancy test, my heart stopped momentarily. All of a sudden I was hit with a wave of crazy emotions. I was ecstatic and terrified all at the same time.  In a daze I walked out to Matt on the couch and held the test up for him to see (not a big exciting reveal, I admit!). Then, I crumbled across his lap as tears started to run down my face. We are so blessed.

Week 6: BLAH. I was never sick with Charlotte and I felt like I was getting my butt kicked. I had lots of nausea, but luckily no vomiting. A week or so later…TADA! All better!

11/24 (Thanksgiving): Matt and I originally wanted to wait to tell our families about baby #2 until we heard a little heartbeat, but after some discussion decided to share the news at Thanksgiving. After all, we figured that we could use some EXTRA BIG prayers early on. Here’s how it all went down.

We had lunch that day at my aunt and uncle's house (Matt’s mom included). I had been racking my brain for weeks trying to think of a fun way to tell them and ended up sneaking this beauty into the Kohl’s Black Friday shopping ad! Perfect!  

It took a little while for everyone to catch on (especially stubborn Grandma Debbie who didn't want to look at ads and Grammy Vicki who...well...had a bit of a delayed reaction.)

That night we had dinner at Matt’s dad’s house. This time I left the cleverness up to Matt. I wasn’t 100% sure what he was going to come up with. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw out Australian Shepherd Stella walking around with a bright green Post-It note stuck to her collar. She just walked around like it was no big deal…and it took quite a while for someone to actually LOOK at the note to see what was going on.  On the note were the words “Proud New Puppy Sister.” Haha! Welcome to our weird family little one!

Needless to say, everyone was excited. It was a good day. We are so blessed.

12/2: One week later I had by first OB appointment. Yes, I was a bit of a wreck. I have a new doctor this time around and really like her. She asked me about Charlotte…she let me cry…she was reassuring and wonderful. Then I got to see the teeny tiniest little black and white flicker on the ultrasound monitor…a strong, beating heart. More tears. It’s so different this time around. I’m not na├»ve to the things I was early in my pregnancy with Charlotte. I know that that little heart was in its final stages of development and I know that it could be holding a secret that’s still too early to detect. But at the same time I am filled with hope and faith that it will be a healthy heart, in a healthy baby.

12/8: I was expecting that my belly might make an appearance a little sooner this time around—first off because its baby #2 and that just seems to be what happens, and secondly because I’m in nowhere NEAR the shape I was in before I got pregnant with Charlotte (can you say stress eater?). Well, at 10 weeks pregnant I officially found a button imprint on my belly at the end of the day. Lovely. Gotta love that “I’m pregnant but just look chubby phase!” Or not.

12/25:  Merry Christmas, Little One and welcome to the last week of our first trimester!  Crazy that I've been writing this all "behind the scenes" and that by the time others lay their eyes on it, I will be rockin' the 2nd trimester and probably back into big girl maternity pants!

12/28:  This time around I opted (with some encouragement from my OB) to complete a first trimester screening.  Basically, they draw blood and do an ultrasound...and from that are able to determine the probablility of little Baby Ritchie having Downs or other chromosomal defects.  There is also some correlation to a risk of heart defects...hence the recommendation that I have it.  I was somewhat hesitant...these tests have a high false positive rate, and even if there was a defect of some sort, it wouldn't matter.  Our baby is our baby...and is perfect to us no matter what.  I worried that results would cause more anxiety and worry than anything else.  BUT on the other hand...an ultrasound means a sneak peak at the little love that I otherwise wouldn't get until 20 weeks!  SIGN ME UP!  The test results ended up being great with a risk for Downs, Trisomy 13 and 18 significantly less than average for my age.  WOOHOO!  Baby's heart was still pretty tiny looking, but I'm pretty sure I could count 4 little chambers pumping away in there.  AND, because Matt and I are a little on the impatient side (we exchanged Christmas gifts on 12/10 just for the heck of it!)...I asked the much anticipated question "How soon can you tell if its a boy or a girl??"  Well, well, well...we THINK we know what it is!  


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Secret, Secret...I've Got a Secret.

Over the past two years this blog has evolved into a very public "journal" for me.  While not always easy, I have put myself out there for public viewing and scrutiny in an effort to capture as many memories as I can.   Through my posts you have witnessed the ups and downs of our journey as heart parents, and stood by our sides as we have transitioned into a very different type of role...parents to a perfect angel.

This blog (and all of you who read it) has become a HUGE part of my life...
but by no means is it my whole life.

There are obviously parts of our lives that I choose to keep private...I don't write about every bad day, every tear I shed, every angry conversation I have with God.  And the same holds true for the positives in our lives.  We smile, we laugh, we continue to live each day trying our best to take steps forward.  Each day marks progress in its own unique way.  I don't share each and every detail, but rather try to document the "big picture" things along the way - not only hoping that it will help ME heal, but also hoping that maybe, just maybe, another grieving parent will come across our story and realize that they are not alone.

There are lots of exciting things going on in our lives right now, and I feel like I'm keeping more "secrets" than I normally do.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm a great secret keeper when it comes to OTHER PEOPLE'S secrets, but when it comes to my own??  Well, I just get antsy!  I know that there will be a "right" time to share all of these things with you all--but for now I just need to be patient.

Soooo with that long lead in, I will let you know that I got an official "sign" today letting me know that the time has come to share Secret #1....

This morning I pulled a shirt out of my closet and quickly threw it on in an attempt to get out the door for work on time.  Halfway through fastening all of the buttons, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately broke out in hysterical laughter.

I hadn't worn this particular shirt in quite some time.
Yes, that is skin that you see peeking out between the buttons.
No, I didn't accidentally shrink my shirt in the laundry.
Yes, I found something a little less "ill-fitting" to wear to work.
Yes, it is officially time to share secret #1.

Little Miss is going to be a BIG SIS!
Matt and I are THRILLED to announce that Baby Ritchie #2 is due to arrive July 2nd, 2012!  

Yes, I am 17 weeks pregnant!  With Charlotte I could hardly make it to the 13 week point without spilling the beans, but this time things have just felt different.  We told our families and close friends, but aside from that I have kept fairly quiet.  I can't even begin to tell you how blessed and excited we feel, but at the same time there is something so terribly bittersweet about it.  I have so much hope for our future and am beyond grateful for this chance at a new beginning yet at the same time my heart continues to ache for my baby who was called to be with Jesus.

Please keep our growing family in your prayers.  I hate that all of our excitement has to be tainted with even the slightest bit of fear of the unknown, but the reality of our past makes us that much less naive this time around.  We have put our trust in God and can't help but believe that He will bless us with a healthy little baby with a strong, healthy heart!  I can't wait to meet you little one!!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just One of Those Days

Missing my baby girl today.  Looking at pictures.  Watching some videos.  I'm not sure if it helps or just makes it hurt more.

Every day is hard...some are just harder than others.

I love you Charley Bear. 

I love you.
I love you.
I love you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gloomy Day Photo Shoot

Matt and I have spent a lot of time looking at this picture lately...
...and we both agree that Charlotte looks pretty stinkin' beautiful it in.  We have it set as the background on our computer and I catch myself just sitting and staring at it.  Staring and missing.

It was a gloomy day outside that day, but the lighting was absolutely perfect for some pictures.  One of us would go outside of the sliding doors off of our dining room and dance in the drizzling rain so that we could direct her attention toward the light.  The other would stay inside with the camera in hopes of catching some good grins.  Little Miss was pretty entertained by the whole deal!

Here are some more pictures from that day...

Baby girl...Sometimes I sit down at the computer to write you these "Happy Birthday" wishes and find myself at a complete loss for words.  Maybe its not a "loss" but rather that there are so many things that I want to say to you, that I don't even know where to start.  Today you would have been 20 months old.  20 months, can you believe it?!  That's proving to be a tough number for me...creeping oh so closely to what would have been your 2 year birthday.  Talk about a lump in my throat.

We love you so much Miss Charlotte, and nothing in this world could ever change that.  You may not be here for us to snuggle and cuddle, but there is not one second of one day that you aren't at the forefront of my mind.  I daydream about what you would be like at 20 months old and am positive that you would be such a silly and vibrant little girl...with a big heart and I'm guessing an ornery streak as well! 

Happy birthday baby girl...sending hugs, kisses, love and smiles your direction all day long (as always!)

P.S.  It's NamNam's birthday today!  If you take a break from all of your celebrations in Heaven, maybe you could blow her a few kisses.  I'm sure that she would LOVE that!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Word {Discover}

I write about a lot of different things on this blog...mostly stories of our heart journey with Charlotte, the extreme love and joy that she brought to our lives and our continuing battle with grief and broken hearts. Todays post will be a little different...it's a post about ME.

I've never been good with New Year's resolutions. I have the very best of intentions, but always seem to lose steam along the way. This year, however, a concept from another blog that I follow caught my eye and I'm actually pretty excited about this brilliant twist on a traditional "resolution."  Nothing fancy...just one simple word to help guide me through 2012.  Click HERE to see the post that inspired me.

For the past 2 weeks I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with the perfect word for ME...it needed to be a word that would represent something realistic and attainable...something to serve as motivation for me to face each day with my chin up. When it finally came to me, I knew that it was right...

Discover: verb
1. To obtain sight or knowledge for the first time
2. To become aware of
3. To find unexpectedly or in the course of a search

For two years I have been consumed by all things Charlotte and I wouldn't have had it ANY other way. Becoming a parent changes you, but becoming a parent to a child with a life-threatening heart defect takes that change to a whole new level. Losing a child? Even more change. My life has been in a continual state of evolution and even I am a little caught off guard when I stop and think of all of the hats I have worn--Wife, mama-to-be, mommy, heart mom, "nurse", advocate, grieving angel mom....

I know that I am not the person I was 2 years ago.
I am that person and so much more.
I have loved more than I knew possible and hurt all the same.

I often find myself a little unsure of WHO I am these days.

I have a new perspective on life.
I am passionate about different things.
I have refocused my priorities.

In 2012 I want to discover. I want to take the time to re-focus my attention and really become aware of the person that I have become. I want to discover ways to take all of the pieces of the "new" me and integrate them into my life so that I don't lose the things I loved about the "old" me. I need to discover things that can make me feel happy again and to continue to search out ways to stay connected with the heart community and to honor our little girl. It all sounds simple enough, but I know that this discovery process won't always be easy. I will be pushed to challenge myself and to face parts of the new Kristen that I don't necessarily like...and I expect to hit my share of stumbling blocks.  

Our unique life experiences make us into who we are...but sometimes life passes so quickly around us that its easy to lose touch.  Its only when things slow back down that we really realize how lost we feel.

2012 will not be easy, but I'm going to do my best to embrace what it has to offer.  Here's to 2012...and here is to discovering ME.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello 2012

Wanted to post quick to wish you all a Happy New Year.  I'm pleased to say that I made it to 12:09 last night (which is more than I can say for my lovely hubby--but I guess he did have to be up at 5 this morning).  We had a perfectly lazy day yesterday, staying in our PJs until we went to dinner, then putting them right back on again when we got home.  We snuggled ourselves up on the couch, each took a little nap, watched some movies and the Creighton basketball game.  Sounds exciting, right?  I wouldn't have had it any other way!

So, here we are....still standing at the start of another year.  I thought that 2010 was going to be one of the craziest of our lives with the addition of our first baby, learning of her sick little heart, multiple surgeries and a new job to top it all off, but it really paled in comparison to the insanity of 2011.  A part of me is inclined to say GOOD RIDDANCE 2011...after all, it has been the hardest of my 29 years.  But, there were good things about the year too, and those are the things that I have to try to hold on to.  We had a full 5 months in 2011 with our Charlotte and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I ended my New Years post last year by saying "I have high hopes and ultimate faith that 2011 holds big things for the Ritchie family."  Little did I know at the time that those "Big things" would include saying good-bye and learning to navigate day-to-day life without our daughter.  Despite my hesitations, I'm going to end things the same way this time around--knowing that God has a plan for us that that there ARE good things in store for us.  

I have HIGH HOPES and ULTIMATE FAITH that 2012 holds BIG things for the Ritchie family...

I welcome them whole-heartedly.