Sunday, December 20, 2009

as strong as a moose!

20 weeks

23 weeks

i realized i hadn't posted any belly shots recently so here's a couple for you.

a little story for your laughing pleasure...

beginning at 20 weeks, i now see my doctor every 2 weeks. i get an ultrasound as well as a physical examination. this is to check my cervix to make sure it's not thinning or shortening, which are both signs of premature labor.

so at 20 weeks i went to my first one of these appointments. i was laying down on the table while my doctor was doing the physical exam. all of the sudden he said to me "your cervix is as strong as a moose!" i laid there thinking, what did he just say?? i thought he said, "your cervix is a little loose." so i said to my doctor, "what????" he then asked, "do you know what a moose is?" i realized what he said and told him yes. he then proceeded to tell me all about moose. how they are strong creatures and that wolf packs won't even approach them and blah, blah, blah. he went on for what seemed like 15 mintues about these moose! all the meanwhile i'm still on the table, exposed, and well, you know, my feet were still in the stirrups, people!!!! i politely entertained his story with obligatory "oh really's" and "wow's," but all i really wanted to do was to take my legs out of the stirrips, sit up, and put my clothes on!

i like my doctor a lot, but he IS a little quirky. i've heard from a few people that he tells wacky stories but as often as i've seen him, i haven't really been on the receiving end of one of these until now. i told my friend who delivered 2 children with him and she just kept saying, "oh my gosh. you must have wanted to die!"
yep, pretty much.

so, my cervix is as strong as a moose. good to know.
ken didn't go with me to with this appointment (oh how i wish he did so he could have been witness to this story!), so when i left the doctor's office, i made sure to call him right away.
i got his voicemail and left a message. "hi honey. everything went great. my cervix is as strong as a moose. call me when you get a chance. love you."

seriously though, i've had appointments now at 20 and 22 weeks and everything is going very well. actually this week he said my cervix looked better than average. so all good news here. my next appointment will be in my 25th week. my doctor wants to see me the day before we're supposed to fly to austin for matthew's birthday so he can give me the all clear to travel.

thank you to everyone who checks my blog for updates. i'll try to write more often! and thank you very much for keeping me and baby schwalbe in your prayers. please keep praying for us. i have a lot of anxiety as i approach 28 weeks, which is when i delivered matthew.
one last's a picture outside of our house where we're standing in the 2 feet of snow we got yesterday! we're still digging out! love to you all...merry christmas!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

an empty stocking

a couple of people have brought to my attention i have not posted anything for awhile. i've had many mixed emotions this holiday season. this christmas was supposed to be the first with our precious son, yet an empty stocking hangs on the mantle. while i'm out shopping for christmas gifts, i realize there is no need for me to head down the aisle that has toys for a 1-year-old. i walk by the display of "baby's first christmas" onesies and my heart breaks in a million pieces before i run out of the store. so maybe my blog silence has been part me sparing you from sad thoughts during christmas and part me not wanting to put my feelings out in the blogosphere.

i have been doing a lot of writing though, private journal writing to go along with a bible study i started with 2 other women who have lost infants. we are going through the book/study "grieving the child i never knew" by kathe wunnenberg. so far it has been really insightful and i enjoy diving into the questions at the end of each section. if you have lost a child through infant death, stillborn or miscarriage, i highly recommend it. each week contains 5 lessons that take between 15-30 minutes to do. i heard about this study through my counselor and after my study at church concluded i decided to dive right in so i could complete the 8-week study well in advance of our baby arriving. while many parents spend time preparing a nursery for the arrival of their child, i am focusing on God's word to help me further process the death of our son, so that i can be as prepared as i can be for this new sweet baby we will bring home.

speaking of a new baby, i wanted to address something here on this blog that has been on my mind since i got pregnant. a few months after losing matthew, someone at work told me the only thing that was going to make me "better" was to get pregnant again. in case anyone was thinking this same thing or wondering if it is true, i can 100% tell you that it is not. having 6 more babies isn't going to get me "better" or over losing our son. the fact is that we lost our first-born, precious son and no child will ever replace matthew phillip.

being pregnant will never make the ache and longing for matthew go away. i can still remember what it felt like to hold him for the first time ever at the funeral home. i remember his tiny lifeless body and wishing so much he would open his eyes and look at me. i can remember the tears we shed saying goodbye to him for the last time. the heartache you feel for a child you have buried will never go away.

please do not get my wrong, i am so thankful for this miracle baby that grows inside of me and cannot wait to meet our 'lil bug. i feel incredibly blessed that everything is going so smoothly during this pregnancy. and i can guarantee you we will love this child as much as we loved matthew phillip. but we're not looking for this child to replace matthew, nor did we ever think that being pregnant again would make us "better." what being pregnant has done, however, is to remind me that the Lord has not abandoned us in our desire to have more children. after we lost matthew, ken never really had doubts that we would have more children. however, i sometimes felt like God had decided that we would not be blessed with children and that in this category of life, i would just have heartbreak. i can't tell you that i am at 100% in believing that God will give us more children. i just pray for this desire every day. i probably won't fully believe this until i am holding that sweet baby in my arms.
there's no getting over the death of your child. there's nothing that will make it "better", not even other children. there is acceptance and moving forward, and that's what we're working towards.
ken and i have decided to stay in maryland for the holidays. we just weren't up for a big holiday celebration with family and wanted to stay close by my doctor. both of our families live in rural areas and we were not exactly comfortable with the medical care available if anything happened. assuming all continues to go well with my pregnancy, we will be traveling to austin on jan. 5 for matthew's first birthday celebration on jan. 6. i will do a separate post on this later to tell you all about it.
in case i don't get on here and write another post before christmas, we wish you all a very blessed christmas. hug those you love a little tighter this year. may you experience christ's birth in a new and refreshing way this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

please pray for baby henninger

hello prayer warriors:

please pray for baby henninger. kimberly is a woman i have "met" through the blog network of women who have lost children. her first son, hudson was born sleeping at 30 weeks. she is now 10 weeks pregnant with her second child and her doctor has recommended an appointment with a perinatal specialist that will take place today at 2PM for something he saw on the ultrasound. click on the link below to read the full story. and please get down on your knees and pray for this sweet little baby.

Monday, November 30, 2009

matthew phillip's angel wings

this amazing woman named leanna who lives in canada creates angel wings for bereaved parents. i just found her site and requested them for matthew phillip. i think it is a beautiful thing what she is doing to honor her angel son, nicholas and to help grieving families. when you don't have a baby to cradle in your arms, having tangible things to look at and hold onto helps a little.

check out her website and if you feel so inclined, you can make a donation so that she can keep her angel wings memorial boutique going.

Monday, November 23, 2009

baby Schwalbe's debut

thought you would enjoy some pictures of our lil' bug!! today was our 20 week ultrasound (even though i'm 19 weeks) and everything looks perfect!! thanks for your continued prayers for our baby.

Monday, November 16, 2009

18 weeks; 21 to go

17 weeks

18 weeks

just thought i would post a couple of recent baby bump pictures and ask for your continued prayers that things go well. we have our 20 week appointment (a little early) this friday. after this week i will be seeing the doctor every 2 weeks and eventually every week when he decides it's time to do that. next monday will be our comprehensive 20 week ultrasound. please pray for a healthy baby. and in case you were wondering if we have changed our minds...we're still sticking to our guns and not finding out!

quick prayer:
cort + healthy baby = carry to 39 weeks - april 12

love you guys! thanks for being so faithful to pray for us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

happy veteran's day

just taking a moment today to say thank you to my husband and all the veterans, active and retired, for all they sacrifice to serve our country. we thank you so much for all that you do and want you to know we will always support you. may God bless you and protect you when you are in harm's way.

a special honor to those veterans who gave their lives as an ultimate sacrifice, so that we as Americans can enjoy the incredible freedoms of living in this wonderful country. our heart and prayers are with you and your families always.

Monday, November 2, 2009


this past week i found myself more emotional than i have been in a few months. when trying to identify the reason i went through the possibilities:

  • i'm pregnant. sometimes i'm just emotional for no reason.
  • we had to pack up our apartment and move out...a home that's been a serene, peaceful place for us to live since returning from greece this summer.
  • the only bathroom in our new house didn't have a toilet the first day we moved in because hubby was still tiling the floor and i had to drive to different stores to pee. pregnant + no toilet = disaster, physically and emotionally. (don't worry, it's working now!)
  • realizing the soft, subtle green paint i picked out for the nursery turned out to be really bright and limey.
no...i know what it is...

  • i am longing for our son matthew phillip in fresh new ways.
when the movers came on thursday they brought each box to the front door and i told them what room to put it in. then there were a few boxes i didn't realize had this label: "baby's room". the movers could see i was pregnant so they probably thought they were moving the stuff for the baby in my belly.

they had no idea that the stuff in those boxes belonged to our first-born son. our son who we welcomed into this world 10 months ago and had to give back to jesus 5 days later. our son who was not playing and learning to walk in our new house. our son who would not meet his younger brother or sister in 5 months.

when the movers left i laid down next to my husband on the bed. we had them unpack some of the boxes and in my line of sight i saw the stroller in the baby's room. the brand new stroller that should have 10 months of baby wear and tear on it. i nestled my head into ken's arm and wept.

i was at bible study this week and it came time to share prayer requests. when it was my turn i started crying as i shared that i was missing matthew in new fresh ways this week. there was not a dry eye in the group as i spoke and i was comforted by the compassion of these women.

afterwards my friend and i were talking and i was sharing with her how i felt bulldozed by the sadness and emotions of losing matthew all over again. even though i miss him every day, i had not been this sad in a little while. she assured me all the changes we had going on with the move were certainly contributing factors. then i had a revelation.

did i think that my measurement of getting better and not being as sad was going to continue on an upward curve with no valleys? that eventually the sting would wear off, the hurt would go away and i would forget? no, of course not! i know that feeling the valleys means that i am still feeling.

and the valleys are surrounded by the mountains. the Lord will walk us through the valleys because he promises not to leave us. then we will acsend to mountaintops together so we can see His splendor and experience His blessings.

there will be times i will miss our matthew so much it feels like january 11, 2009 all over again. there will be times i can't carry the burden and i give it to Jesus for Him to carry. but God promises "plans to prosper us and not to harm us. plans to give us hope and a future." jeremiah 29:11.

there will be times when the sadness isn't as hard to bear and we can focus on fresh beginnings and new blessings. like the blessing of a baby that grows inside me right now.

but more children, fresh beginnings, and new blessings will never change the longing we feel for our son. we miss him so much. as the holidays approach and the 1 year anniversary of losing matthew phillip is just over 2 months away, we have to trust the God of comfort to hold our hearts in His hands.

as we start a new beginning in a new house without our only child, we have to remember that matthew phillip is in a perfect place. he is in Heaven with the God of the universe experiencing perfect peace. this place is so perfect that our human minds cannot understand it. in heaven, matthew phillip feels no pain or sadness, only complete fulfillment and joy.

this thought turns my tears into a smile.

it makes my earthly longing turn to heavenly longing. it makes my focus not on this world but on Jesus.

"let us fix our eyes on Jesus..." hebrews 12:2

Thursday, October 22, 2009

new house pictures

we are homeowners squared!! instead of buying our second home in the hamptons (ha ha!) we purchased one in annapolis! it was built in 1958 and to steal the words of our appraiser, "it's in pristine condition...just like dick van dyke still lives there!" we have a lot of updating to do.

the house is in a wonderful location across from the navy football stadium in a neighborhood called admiral heights. when we went to closing, i received 2 gifts. flowers from the sellers (how sweet is that??), and a nice bottle of wine from the title company. we left the closing and ken and i drove over to the house. and yes, my sweet husband carried me into our new house...thankfully for his back, i'm only 4 months pregnant and have only gained 2 pounds! i was telling ken how sweet the housewarming gifts were. then, playfully, i asked him what he got me for a housewarming gift. he paused for a moment and with a big smile he said, "a house!"

uhhhhhhhh right....good point! :)

the front of the house (the green awnings will be gone soon!)
ken standing between our current dining room (which will be expanded) and the formal sitting/living area

check out these vintage appliances!! the current kitchen will be converted into a full bathroom.

more of the current kitchen

our one and only pepto bismol and gray bathroom. it will be reglazed to white next week.

the master bedroom. aren't the original hardwood floors gorgeous?

this side of the room will be a small sitting/TV area

this side of the room will be the new kitchen

the formal sitting/living room area. under the shag carpet are the original hardwood floors.

i'm going to redo the fireplace by painting and getting different stone for the landing

the detached 2 car garage...our boat's new home

the long back yard

the site of my new organic garden behind the garage

Monday, October 19, 2009

pregnancy pictures

i've been asked by a few people to post some pregnancy pictures so without further ado...(by the way, it is TRUE that you show much faster with the second!)

10 weeks
12 weeks

14 weeks

i'm feeling really good with a lot more energy now that i'm in my second trimester. i didn't get sick with this pregnancy like i did with matthew thanks to the wonder drug zophran. my doctor didn't want me to lose weight in my first trimester like i did with matthew (i lost close to 10 lbs) so he put me on it. since about 12 weeks i've only taken it twice so i think the morning sickness is just about over. i'll try to remember to post a preggo picture every few weeks or so...i know we're not all the way over in greece anymore, but we're still pretty far from family and close friends in north dakota, arkansas, and texas and we want to share this experience with you.

i'll let you in on a little secret. even though we're not finding out, i have a strong feeling this baby is a girl. i feel completely different that i did with matthew. maybe because i'm in a better shape. i don't know. what i do know is that i didn't really crave much with matthew, if anything it was salty and fried. with this one, i crave everything sweet. thank goodness it's gotten pretty cold outside because i was eating ice cream like it was going out of style! i have purchased 5 girl outfits and ken said i couldn't buy anymore until the baby arrives. i was also calling the baby "she" but ken doesn't want "she" to have a complex in case "she" is a "he." so i've renamed the baby " 'lil bug."

we've had a lot of questions as to why we're not finding out since we did with matthew. the answer is that we were surprised by this blessing from the Lord and we do not care what we're having. a healthy child that we can have on earth with us is all that we want. this is one of the true surprises in life and we're looking forward to experiencing it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

bun in the oven

that's right, we're pregnant again! we have a bun in the oven that has been cooking for 14 weeks and it will be done on april 12, 2010!!

this pregnancy comes as a bit of a surprise but we know it's God's miracle to us. back at the beginning of august, i went to the doctor because i was having some pain on my left side. it turned out to be scar tissue from my c-section which was irritated by all the running i was doing to train for the 1/2 marathon. i saw the doctor who was on call, who shall remain nameless, and when i started asking questions about getting pregnant again, he told me we had a 10% chance of getting pregnant without getting a hCg injection. i had one with matthew and basically this is an ovulation stimulation shot (not a fertility drug) that makes you ovulate within 48 hours so your chances of getting pregnant are greater.

if he had done a pregnancy test that day, it would have been positive! needless to say, i'm no longer seeing that doctor!

5 days after that appointment, i was running and had a very sad little run because i was so tired. i had to walk most of the 2 miles back. then the next day, i had no energy and the nasea feeling came upon me. hmmmm...i thought. this feeling is familiar. the next morning on sunday, aug 9 i went to the drug store and picked up a pregnancy test. i came home and was too scared to take it at first. after taking a shower, i got up the nerve and took it. i saw the + sign start developing and yelled out to ken, "i'm pregnant!" he came running in, embraced me and we both wept tears of joy for awhile. we thanked God and praised his name.

i feel very blessed to be seeing a civilian doctor who is one of the top high risks specialists in maryland. dr. haddock is wonderful and has really put ken and i at ease with this pregnancy. i had 2 major complications with matthew; a small placenta tear at 10 weeks and bleeding at 13 weeks so it feels good to be past these weeks with our new baby.

we ask for your fervent prayers for our baby's health and for me to be able to carry to full term. my doctor has a c-section planned at 39 weeks on april 12, 2010.

because we were not planning this pregnancy it took awhile to get excited about it and trust that everything would be ok. after all, i was still feeling very sad and angry about losing matthew. but with the help of my counselor and close friends and family, i feel like i can start experiencing this new baby as truly the miracle he or she is.

celebrate God's miracles and his love for us...and please pray for baby Schwalbe!

by the way, we will let you know what we're having as soon as we know...on april 12, 2010! we're not finding out!

p.s. i've attached a few pictures from our vacation to martha's vineyard and nyc. you can visit the following link if you want to see all of them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day ~ Oct. 15th

today is the annual day when all mothers, fathers, sibilings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends remember all the babies who have gone on to heaven.

tonight at 7pm in your time zone you can light a candle to remember all of these babies in heaven and all the parents who are left behind bearing the loss of their children.

dear matthew phillip,
today we remember you in a special way. we remember your life and how blessed we were to become your parents. you have touched so many lives in your 5 short days of life on earth and in the last 10 months that you have been in heaven. we know that your life will continue to impact people in such an incredible way. most of all, people will continue to come to Jesus through your sweet life. we miss you so much and wish we could hold you again. but in the mean time, it gives us great comfort to know you are with the Eternal Father. we love you so much precious son.
love, mommy and daddy

Sunday, October 4, 2009

navy v. air force game

yesterday, navy played an exciting game against air force, where they won in OT! here are a few pictures from the day. bill and joni drove up and went to the game with us.

great weather, great game, great friends! Go NAVY!! (and Tech won too, so it WAS a GREAT weekend!)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

makeshift panchos

last weekend i didn't check the weather before we went to the navy game. rain, rain, rain. so we put these trash bags on at the tailgater thinking we could buy panchos inside.

wrong. sold out.

people would smile, laugh, say we looked "cute", etc.

i think what they meant was wow, you guys look ridiculous. but at least we were dry from the neck to our waist. could have definitnely gone for 30 gallon bags!!!

navy won the game so it was all worth it! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

pennsylvania peeps

last weekend we drove about 2 hours north to visit our friends the bowsers in pennisylvania. they are really good friends of ours and such an awesome christian family. we were stationed with them in port hueneme, CA from 2003-2005. it's been 4 long years since we have seen them. their first-born, sarah was only 2 mos old when she came to our wedding and we left when she was 5 mos old. since then, they've had two more children, benjamin and rebekah who we met on this trip.

we had a great time hanging around their house, going out for ice cream, visiting their church and eating all the yummy food laura made for us. we can't wait to go back and visit!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

stay at home ___?___

you meet someone new and they say, "what do you do?"

obviously you don't have kids hanging off of you saying, "mommy, mommy, i want to go. can we please go and get ice cream?" so of course you have a career or a job or something, right?

i stay at home. we just moved here because my husband is in the navy.

"do you have children?"

well yes, but our son matthew phillip is in heaven now.

"oh gosh, i'm so sorry."

an awkward silence ensues and you have never seen someone so uncomfortable in their life.

my experience has not been this way for most people i have met here but there have been a few. thankfully the people at church and in the navy have been very supportive.

but these few encounters have had me thinking a lot lately...

the thing is that i'm not doing anything, because i should be doing something else.

i should be being a mommy.

i should be waking up very early because i can't wait to see my son again. i missed him while i slept. then it's time to feed and play, and eventually a little nap. we might go out and explore new places around town or just cuddle at home. after an afternoon nap, we would play some more and then start making dinner for when daddy gets home. as a family we would cuddle, kiss, hug, and play until matthew needed to go to sleep. then tomorrow, i should be waking up and doing it all over again. what a life! what a blessing!!

don't get me wrong. i do not sit around feeling sorry for myself all day doing nothing. i run errands, spend time with friends, go to bible study, shop and get lost at a book store. but there are some days, i would give anything to be doing all the mommy things.

have you ever had a time in your life where you were doing something but you felt like you really should be doing something else? like you were born to do something but instead you were sitting in an office crunching numbers and hating it.

every day i wish i could do what i was meant to do. there is not a day that goes by that i don't wake up and wish my job for the day was to be matthew's mommy. and maybe that causes me to snooze 4 times instead of 2, but eventually i always wake up and get out of bed. i grab my bible and ask the Lord to help me be brave enough to face the day, productive enough to accomplish something worthwhile, and gracious to those mommies i may encounter who i desperately want to be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

happy birthday big Matthew

today would have been the 34th birthday of our son's namesake, Matthew Seth Shubzda. since 2003, every time the calendar rolls around to september 17th, ken and i get very sad because matt's not here anymore for us to wish him a happy birthday and help him celebrate. we miss our dear friend so much. when we found out our first-born would be a boy, we called matt's parents and asked if we could name him after big matt. we wanted to honor our friend in this way.

for some of my new friends out there; i should really explain how big matt fits into both of our lives. matt and i were best friends who grew up together. when i first moved to texas in the fourth grade he was one of my first friends. he was the kind of friend every girl would want. through all the trials of elementary, middle and high school, matt was a consistent, loving, and inspiring friend anyone would be lucky to have in their life. i was always grateful to have a friend who encouraged me and stood by me. i went off to texas tech and matt went off to the naval academy so he could pursue his dream of flying jets.

matt's roommate and eventually one of his best friends at the naval academy was ken. whenever i would talk to matt i would hear about how wonderful ken was and matt endorsed him as a "good catch." i told matt that was nice but i was nowhere near interested in dating someone who would have a military career ahead of him.

fast forward to june 29, 2002 for matt and kim's wedding in dallas. i was in the process of moving from chicago to new york city but i made sure i was there. i did meet ken and matt was right. he was adorable, kind, and gentle. i could tell after only meeting him a few hours before, he was some kind of wonderful. he was living in south carolina but would be moving to california in october. we exchanged numbers at the end of the night because i thought i might go down and visit my friend angie who had just moved to south carolina.

ken called me in early august and i told him i wouldn't be able to come down to south carolina to see my friend. i didn't have a job in nyc yet and i thought it would be irresponsible of me to spend money to go. he sounded a little disappointed and we didn't talk much longer. i would later find out that ken thought i was kind of being short with him so he ended the conversation. i expected that he might call again but he didn't.

i left matt a message on his birthday, sept 17, 2002 and even told him that i had a nice conversation with ken but he hadn't called again. i said this in my message thinking maybe matt might knudge ken a little. :) a few weeks later, ken made plans to stay with matt and kim for a couple of nights in california on his way down to port hueneme.

our worlds were turned upside down on october 18, 2002, not even 4 months after matt's wedding.

ken was taking his boat out for the last time in south carolina when he got a call from one of our high school friends. matt's superhornet F/A-18 was involved in a mid-air collision with another F/A-18 in a training exercise off the coast of california. the coast guard was searching but there was no sign of the four missing pilots.

that evening i got a call from my mom and i knew immediately something was wrong. i was standing outside my apartment waiting for my friend to pick me up in the cab for a concert. when my mom told me, i broke down. i had never lost anyone so suddenly. those family members who had passed were older and sick, and it was expected. this was my best friend growing up. and now he was suddenly gone.

ken and i both made it to dallas a few days before the funeral. afterwards at the shubzda's house we started talking and we recognized how painful this was going to be for both of us. we decided we would need to be there for one another to get through this, so we made plans to keep in touch. we started talking on the phone from nyc to california 3-4 nights a week at first which quickly became almost every night. even though i thought ken was wonderful i didn't think anything but friendship would develop. we had so many things working against us: the military, the long distance, my dream job.

eventually a relationship started blossoming and we had our first date weekend december 6-8 when ken came to nyc and took me to the army-navy game at giants stadium. this was just the beginning. from that point on, we racked up the frequent flyer miles seeing each other almost every other weekend. in august of 2003, the distance got to be too much and i moved to california. 13 months later we got married.

so that's the story of our friend matt and how he introduced us. of course he never knew about our relationship on this earth, but as we were reminded by his parents, we have the most special guardian angel friend looking over us. and when our son joined him in heaven, we know he was immediately cradled, kissed, and hugged by matt. matt himself loved children and didn't have a chance to be a father before he went to be with Jesus.

i borrowed this picture from our friend john's facebook. john is standing with the threesome on the left. matt is standing on the far right. (ken is sitting down next to matt.)

happy birthday dear friend. we miss you very much. our lives were forever changed because you were such a caring, loyal, and supportive friend to both of us. we couldn't think of a better way to honor you than to name our first-born son after you. we are comforted by the fact that matthew phillip has matthew seth to love and watch over him in heaven.

love, ken-dog and bo