Monday, February 17, 2014

And then there were FOUR

I’ve said from the very beginning, I think the ‘infertility’ & ‘infertile’ labels are very unfair. I believe that people who have absolutely no chance of having children should be called infertile, not someone who has been trying to have a baby for more than 6 months. The ‘infertility’ label is a hard pill to swallow and the stigma that goes with that is even harder to shake. You walk into every doctor appointment feeling like you have a gigantic sign across your uterus that says ‘I’m still not pregnant. I am not woman enough to get pregnant on my own with my husband’ The thought of never conceiving after being poked & prodded so much each appointment, not to mention the very expensive cost, almost made the journey too much to bear. The thoughts in your head alone can cause you to literally go crazy then add drugs to that mix, and you feel like you should be committed to the looney bin. But for me, it all changed after a break, that I didn’t feel like necessarily taking, and as people say ‘the rest is history’.

I started seeing a specialist in February 2013. As soon as I walked into her office, I knew I was in the right hands & felt at ease. However, we decided to actually take a break from all the drugs & appointments and let my body ‘flush’ out the ‘toxins’. We didn’t go back to the specialist until August. We were also planning the trip of our lives for the summer - Germany - and knew we would have to watch our money since each specialist appointment was $200. That break was just what we needed!

Long story short, here is how our IUI procedures went after going back in August:

IUI #1 - August 2013 - FAILED
IUI #2 - September 2013 - FAILED

The following month, October, my doctor increased my Femara dosage once again & I started to take other natural supplements. I went in for the usual sonograms on my eggs, and I had two eggs grow to be big enough to have IUI #3. However, I had already ovulated on my own so we could not do the procedure. I went home & we prayed like crazy in addition to our regular prayers. Two weeks later, we debated most of the night whether or not I should take a home pregnancy test since we didn’t hear back with our blood results. We were just so used to being let down that we didn’t want to face a ‘frowny face’ test. So after taking the home test, we finally got our answer: WE WERE PREGNANT! OUR FIRST POSITIVE PREGNANCY TEST EVER!

Our first BFP EVER!
Three weeks of weekly blood tests & all levels were wonderful! In fact, one of our levels was consistently on the higher end of normal. This could indicate multiples, but we just didn’t think we could get that lucky. We already felt super blessed just to be pregnant! Our first sonogram was on Dec 2. We were both so happy to ‘see’ our baby! She confirmed the pregnancy but we were SHOCKED when she told us we were expecting TWINS!  We were in tears of the wonderful news. I truly do not remember much of the appointment because I was crying so much (happy tears of course!) We just went through 1229 days of ‘trying’ and being labelled ‘infertile’ just to be told we were pregnant with TWO BABIES! Their heartbeats were the most wonderful sound to our ears!!!!!

The Twins' first true portraits around 10.5 weeks

This was now the HARDEST secret to keep. Only a handful of people even knew we were pregnant but we kept the twins thing a secret until Christmas Eve when we told our families. THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!!!  It was such a sweet & surreal surprise for everyone at Christmas - truly a Christmas miracle! I still do not believe that it has hit me that there are two babies in there even though I’ve seen them both & heard both of their little heartbeats!  Cannot seem to get the Christmas videos revealing the pregnancy to show up. Once I can figure that out, I will upload ASAP.

The official announcement!
Personally, I would have never made it through this journey with my husband, our families & friends, their prayers, and my faith in God. There were many time I felt angry at God, but I think that’s normal when you are going through the grieving process month after month of disappointments. I will forever defend my stance on how this process is part ‘grieving’. Thankfully, we did not grieve the literal loss of a baby through miscarriage, but we grieved at the thought of missing that chance of having a baby. It is a very real emotion & a feeling of true 'emptiness'. 

Although it was a tough journey, sometimes it even felt impossible, our wonderful news has helped us forget that feeling of desperation & grief and has given us hope for the future. We have 4.5 short months until our precious babies arrive, and we are taking it all in - good & bad. I’m thankful for the sickness, the heart burn, the awful headaches, the exhaustion, the increased trips to the bathroom, and the restless sleep. There were many nights I prayed to God and told him I will never complain once I get pregnant. I’m trying my best to keep it that way & see the positive!

I’ve met many friends who are going through similar fertility situations. I feel like it is my responsibility to help them and to let them know that this journey may feel lonely, but you are anything but alone. You have people that love you & want you to be happy & be a mommy! Although they may never truly ‘understand’ your journey, they understand the disappointment in their own way. They may never have the right words (example: quit trying so hard, it’ll happen when it happens, relax, etc), but they are trying to love you through a hard time. I pray for each of my fertility friends. I REFUSE to use that stupid i-word. I pray that God will grant you the desires of your heart in His time. His time is truly perfect and that is probably the BEST lesson I have learned through all of this. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My God is BIGGER!

If there is one thing I have learned through the ups & downs in my life, it is that my God is bigger than anything in this world:  He is bigger than my problems. He is bigger than our corrupt government. He is bigger than the stress at my job. He is bigger than any conflict. He is bigger than infertility.

My God is the almighty provider & healer! He is faithful to those that are faithful to Him. I praise Him because I am exactly who I am supposed to be. Although I may not be have the perfect body (physically & physiologically), I am fearfully & wonderfully made. I am carved in His image & will not apologize for being a called child to my God. 

Have you ever wondered how someone couldn't believe in God? It is still very confusing for me to think that someone looks at a sunset or a baby or nature & think that there isn't a God. I am not judging that person, I just couldn't imagine taking in God's creation & not thinking that He doesn't even exist. I pray for those that have fallen on such hard times that they think God has abandoned them. I pray that they hold on strongly to the Lord's promise of eternal life & unfailing love. I am not perfect (NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!), but my God is.

I've learned that unfair things in life happen. I've seen friends go through hard & difficult times whether it be loss of job, loss of babies, parents, or loved ones, divorce, abuse, etc, but I fully believe that God is the one that brings you through tough times. He never promised us a smooth path in life, He just promises us that He will NEVER leave us! 

I've come a long way in my journey of faith & I have a long way to go! But I know that it is only because of God that I am strong & willing to keep going through the tough times because I know better times are ahead. He promises us a better tomorrow & he will never forsake us! My God is BIGGER!!!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trip of a Lifetime... Germany & Czech Republic

Michael and I were able to take a trip of a lifetime a few weeks ago to Germany & the Czech Republic. As many of you know, Michael is absolutely obsessed with everything Germany. Since we both have roots in Germany, it was really a no-brainer as to where we would take a vacation this summer. We set out with Michael's best friend, Brent, as our trusty tour guide and headed to Europe at the beginning of June. We toured Germany & the Czech Republic for 10 days!!!

Boarding our flight from Newark, New Jersey to Frankfurt, Germany
We began our trip in Frankfurt and quickly found our way to our first stop, Dinkelsbuhl. It was such a picturesque Germany town. Everything was so clean and colorful. The food and beer were wonderful. We explored around the city walls, downtown, a church, and just took in all the sites of what you think is a typical German town.
Downtown Dinkelsbuhl 
At our Bed & Breakfast:  Goldenes Lamm
On our way to Munich, we stopped in a town, Harburg, to tour a castle. We could not go in because they were not doing tours at the time, but we were able to look around the place and the history is just mind blowing. We also stopped a Catholic Cathedral in Augsburg. Simply beautiful.

Castle in Harburg
Best Friends at Harburg Castle 
Catholic Cathedral in Augsburg 
Front of Cathedral
Munich, my favorite city in Germany that we visited, was so awesome! We stayed in a hostel right across from the Augustiner Brewery. The Brewery is older than the US! We enjoyed the food & drinks at the Augustiner two nights while we were in Munich.

Augustiner Brewery in Munich
The first day in Munich, we took a little drive to the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was the most surreal place I had ever been. You hate to say it was a 'highlight' but it was definitely one of the things I will never forget about our trip. To see the exact place where such atrocities were committed is just beyond words. If anyone has the opportunity, I highly suggest visiting a concentration camp simply to see where history happened and to keep history from repeating itself.

Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp
Barracks in Dachau 
Crematorium in Dachau 
We took a bike tour around Munich with fellow Americans & English speakers one day. It was definitely a highlight of my trip in Munich especially with my background in history. It was a four hour tour, in the rain (so much fun!!!), and we capped off the tour by visiting one of the best biergartens in the city and had a beer before we headed back to our hostel. 

Michael during Bike Tour 
Our tour guide, PJ 
Biergarten at the end of bike tour
Earlier that day, we took a little roadtrip south, towards the German Alps, to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. It was absolutely beautiful! We were not allowed to take pictures on the inside but I definitely took enough from the outside. The beauty of the castle made the 40 minute hike up the mountain well worth it.

Neuschwanstein Castle
Us on bridge above Neuschwanstein
On our last night in Munich, we went to the Hofbrau Haus. It was the largest biergarten attraction in Munich. The music was wonderful and the atmosphere was awesome. We enjoyed some beverages and some food with fellow tourists. On our way out, Michael & Brent went up the stairs to the next floor to see where Hitler & the Nazi Party would meet in and have rallies. Everything looked just like it did back then and hardly anything was touched.

Hofbrau Haus 

After Munich, we roadtripped to a smaller town, Passau, which is right on the Danube River. If you didn't know, Germany just had a flood of a lifetime. Water was everywhere in Southern Germany. We stayed in a hostel literally on the river and it was very swollen. We toured the city later in the evening and electricity still hadn't been restored to the places on the other side of the river. We met a German lady who was able to speak enough English to give us a mini tour. The destruction of the flood was devastating, but in true German fashion, she had full confidence that the Germans would recover and prosper once again. We talked to her about all of our German roots and she knew people with those same names -- Grelle (Brent), Kunkel (Michael), & Weiser (Me). 

The Danube River in Passau
The following day we set out for Prague and drove through Austria and finally got to Prague, Czech Republic later in the afternoon. Prague is just another world! There were tourists everywhere, but it had a little bit of everything to experience! We toured the square & the town. We hiked up some more steps to see out over the city and to head to the castle there. The intricate designs & architecture were simply amazing. 

The Square in Prague
Astronomical Clock on the square in Prague
Prague Castle 
In front of Prague Castle
Prague Square at night
Date Night in Prague
To wrap up our trip, we went back to Germany to Nuremberg & Mellrichstadt. Mellrichstadt is where part of my family is from. We checked out the address my Grannie gave us but it was not the actual homestead we were hoping it would be. It is ok though because we were just as happy to see where the family once was living.

Nuremberg, Germany
Mellrichstadt, Germany

We still cannot believe that we were able to take a trip of a lifetime to Germany. Even after all the traveling, the pictures, and experiences, it is still hard for us to put into words how amazing the trip truly was. We are so grateful for those that helped us and prayed for us while we were gone. I know the blog was long, but it is so hard to condense our trip into just a few words. Hope you enjoyed reading it and hope you enjoy the pictures!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Break... Finally!

It was just thinking today about Spring Break and how much the meaning of Spring Break has changed in just a few years:

  • In HS, we competed in two big grass identification contests as well as softball games. 
  • As I got into college, it was about partying and enjoying our college days. I even went to South Padre and that was such a crazy fun time! 
  • After college graduation, Spring Break has been about being an adult and 'catching' up on all the adult responsibilities I've been neglecting - cleaning, laundry, etc. as well as coaching. When you're a coach, there's no off season. 

As of 4:00 pm today, a portion of dinner is in the crockpot, two loads of laundry have been done, I've febreezed the whole house, did the dirty dishes, sorted/shredded mail, and I even squeezed a fast trip to the hospital to have my second progesterone check in a week and a half.

At the hospital, the clerk who registered me has also been trying to conceive for over two years. She was asking me all kids of questions (I didn't mind at all) and asking for advice. I never thought that this 'lonely' journey would turn out to actually be a road heavily traveled by many women around me. 

I've learned to reach out and help those around me. I've learned that I have to keep educating myself about (gasp) infertility. I've learned to live and not make plans around a pregnancy that doesn't even exist. I've learned to have fun again and enjoy my life. I've learned that knowledge is power. I've learned that God never promised there wouldn't be any storms in my life, but that He would be there through them with me. I've learned that God sent me an angel from Heaven when he put Michael in my life to love, encourage, help, and love me through my weaknesses. I've learned that I cannot stop living and smiling simply because there is something missing in my life. 

I have sooooo much to be thankful for and I'm going to give God thanks for the rest of my life for the life he has given me that I do not deserve. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tough People

Just wanted to put in a quick post to update everyone on our journey for Baby Kunkel.

We met with a specialist in Austin last Thursday. She is awesome! She did an exam and had me go to a lab and do some extra blood work. On my exam, she saw a decent egg that she thought may grow this week and that there is actually a chance for us to still conceive this cycle even though this is later than a normal cycle. If we don't get pregnant this month, she wants to do the provera/clomid for two more cycles but with a higher dosage and for a long period of time. If those two cycles prove to be inadequate, we will move on to IUI - intrauterine insemination.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization.  This fertility treatment does not involve the manipulation of a woman's eggs; therefore, it is not considered an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure. For more info:

Although we would love to become pregnant without IUI, we have faced the possibility that it may come down to that or even something more advanced like IVF. We have learned on this journey that knowledge is power and we will keep learning!

Speaking of infertility, have I told y'all how much I HATE that word?  I think it is an unfair label given to people. To me, infertile means you are not fertile as in NO eggs or NO sperm. Infertile in medical terms means you could not become pregnant within 6 months of not taking precautions.  Being told you are getting treated for infertility is a hard pill to swallow.  I never thought I'd have to go through this and it is very isolating. I hope that I can provide some sort of support for those in the same journey.

I'll leave this post with a quote I reference everyday - "Tough times don't last. Tough people do." We will face our challenge with courage and conviction.  Before long, we WILL have a Baby Kunkel!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just a perfectly, lazy Saturday night

I just wanted to share part of our lives on a Saturday night. Here is one of the recent pics we took together at a park here in town. It has to be one of my favorite pictures of us and it was cheapest being that a friend took it with my digital camera!

Michael and I love nights where we can stay at home, be lazy, and just enjoy each other's company. Tonight it one of those nights. We've rented four movies, made some pizzadillas (basically a quesadilla but with pizze stuff on the inside), and had some caramel delights with milk. I have also worked on some more nursery letters for some friends of ours. I love my Crafty Kraut Creations! Here is my latest work:

I purchased tickets for the New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, and BoyzIIMen concert in June tonight. I cannot wait to go! My cousin Kalynn and I saw NKOTB and Backstreet Boys two years ago in San Antonio and we had a fabulous time on the Riverwalk and at the concert. Cannot wait to go again this summer with my sister, Kalynn (cousin), Sarita (one of my best friends), and Heather (co-worker). It is going to be an awesome time! 

Michael and I also took the next step in taking a trip of a lifetime this summer to Germany. We have not officially decided to go, but we are taking giant steps towards it each day! 

On a personal note, we are waiting to hear back from the Fertility Specialist in Austin that we were referred to. We have been praying constantly for God to give us hope and strength as we figure out our next step together. This whole situation feels like a blessing and a curse. We see the love and support from our friends and family which shows us how blessed we truly are. But, I have also found that friends of mine are struggling with the same situation. I absolutely hate that ANYONE has to go through this struggling journey, but it is nice knowing there is someone out there that truly understands the struggle.

We have chosen to start being vocal about our journey because we need all the prayers we can get and we hope to help those that are going through the same thing. Our hope is that God hears all of our prayers and grants us the desires of our hearts. If you have any words of encouragement, please feel free to share them below. If you know of anyone struggling with infertility, please feel free to give them my contact information and we can help support one another.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turning over a new leaf...

I'm turning over a new leaf. I have not been quite the blogger I was hoping to be - I am changing that right now! My hope is that I will post daily or a least a few days a week. Here's a run down to get everyone caught up on the major events in the past year:

December 2011: We found out we were expecting a niece! Meghann and Brandon, Michael's sister and her husband, we expecting a baby girl in May!

January 2012: We got to ring in the new year with my parents, Michael's parents, and his Aunt Daina dancing in Rockdale listening to one of our favorite bands, Texas Unlimited Band.

February 2012: I started my first year coaching softball at BHS. Michael starts his track season.

May 2012: We finished our softball season on a disappointing loss to Kennedale 1-0 in extra innings. Michael coached Maci Schulte to a state championship in the 1 mile run. The very next day, Meg gave birth to Ally Kay McDonald on May 12. We also attended Michael's cousin, Randison's, graduation party after graduating from Tarleton. I officially lost 32 pounds since December after adjusting my diet and exercise routine.

Miss Ally Kay

June 2012:  We finally took our trip to the Dominican Republic! It was absolutely breathtaking. My only regret is that we didn't stay longer AND our awful trip getting home - storms in DFW and plane not having enough fuel to circle in air so we were diverted to Houston, delayed in Houston, finally got to DFW only for our shuttle to the hotel not to show up for an hour, rented a taxi (cost $30 just to go 2 miles!!), finally getting on the road just to break down outside of Bluffdale because of a busted water pump, getting a two to Stephenville, and then FINALLY making it to Comanche at 4:30 AM. At the time it was awful, but looking back on it, you can't help but laugh.

Enjoying the Dominican

July 2012: We celebrated 4 years of marriage!

August 2012:  I embarked on my first season as an interim varsity coach for volleyball. What an experience! Michael started his new job with Brownwood as a special education teacher at the MS. No more coaching! I started my 2 years as a coach at the HS. 

October 2012: We hosted our very Halloween party. A good time was had by all. We also went to Oktoberfest - I wish we could live in Fredericksburg. So pretty but so expensive! We started fertility treatments with a new doctor - Dr. Dan Stewart. He is amazing and I pray that God guides him and his decisions for us to have a baby.

December 2012: We got to spend lots of time during the holidays with families and friends. 

January 2013:  Texas A&M had a surprised 11-2 season in the SEC. I got to watch the Cotton Bowl, holed up on my couch because I was sick and enjoying the snow! Michael got a nice 10 pt buck. I tried to shoot my first doe - I clipped her but didn't kill her. We got a day off of school because of 3 inches of snow. Received news from Dr. Stewart that we will have to be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist because he is not getting the results he was hoping to get. Although disappointing, I'm thankful for everything he has done for us and we look forward to the next step in having a baby. I'm thankful that he is just as determined as us to make it happen.