The truth about pregnancy…



I feel like I shouldn’t say this. It took me about 4 years to even get pregnant. Then I spent the next 5 years getting pregnant four times and miscarrying each one. Then I went through the long, arduous, expensive adoption process only to get approved and then have to remove myself because I was pregnant again. And then that pregnancy was way too short, and Hannah came so early and we spent almost 4 months in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. My journey to becoming a mother has been very long, tedious, tearful, confusing, scary, and (finally) joyful. I understand how it feels to be barren. I understand how it feels to lose pregnancy after pregnancy. I can still feel the hopelessness that would fill my body as my babies’ lives emptied. Almost like an aftershock from a tragic earthquake – I still feel the desperation and desire to be a mother. I remember the sour feeling in my stomach that I would swallow down as I dug deep to find joy as friend after friend welcomed their babies. I would hold those babies and love them and wish and wish with all my might that I would possibly one day have a little one to call my own. So I feel very guilty complaining about my pregnancy. I am thankful for Henry, but the process to get him here just plain sucks.

The truth is that pregnancy really doesn’t suck for everyone. There are so many people in my life who are really, really good at making babies. They don’t seem to have issues with weight gain, morning sickness, muscle soreness, bleeding, swelling, glucose levels, etc. And then on top of that, they carry those babies full-term, and end up delivering at home in a lavender-infused bath with 1 hour of easy labor and no drugs. “Only two pushes, and my 10 pound baby is here! And no tearing or episiotomy!” #eyeroll (I’m exaggerating, of course. I’m pretty sure it’s not hygienic to have lavender in the bath during a water birth.)

The truth for me is that pregnancy is really, REALLY hard. Perhaps it’s my “advanced maternal age,” but I seem to be exhausted all the time. I felt nauseous most of the first trimester. I get dizzy easily. My blood sugar has to be tended to. Because of my history, I have to go to the doctor every other week for ultrasounds. I get to have really painful shots in my butt every week to boost my progesterone levels. I got to have a surgery in my hoo-ha to stitch up my cervix in hopes it wouldn’t open early again. I’m under heavy-lifting restrictions, so I can’t even pick up my toddler. I’m starting to have trouble finding comfortable positions in which to sleep. My skin is completely wacko and zittier than normal. I get hot flashes, and sweat like crazy. On top of it all, I deal with the emotions of being pregnant after four miscarriages and one very-pre-term birth. “Will he stay in long enough? If he comes early, will he do as well as Hannah did? If I can just make it to (insert date here) I will feel better about his chances. What if we lose him? What if I get put back on hospitalized bedrest? OH! And I’m not getting paid for maternity leave this time (thanks job), so how are we going to handle that?”

I have spent over 11 years worrying about my reproductive system in one way or another, and I’m so over it.

I am so very thankful for Hannah, and very thankful for her little brother growing in my belly right now. But oh my goodness – I am looking forward to him being here (big and healthy, of course!). I am looking forward to moving past this stage in my life, and not thinking about my cervix or ovulation or periods or any of it! For me, pregnancy just sucks.



And then two years later…

…she blogged again. My last post was on my 34th birthday. I’m now 36. Much has changed since then. When I last wrote a post, we were anxiously awaiting a call from the adoption agency to let us know we had been matched with a birth mother. Today, we are parents to a beautiful, strong, delightful little 16-month-old girl. But her arrival didn’t quite work out as planned…

December 6, 2014 was a normal day in every other way, except for the fact that my period was a few days late. Rather than stress about it, I went to buy a pregnancy test to put my mind at ease. Shockingly it was positive. I took another one. Still positive. And then I proceeded to lose my freaking mind. Pregnancy tests that turn out positive are supposed to be exciting and happy occasions. Because of our history of infertility and then four miscarriages, I was instead filled with dread and sadness. I crumpled in Matt’s arms, and I sobbed for a long time. We told our immediate families, but didn’t tell anyone else. We were sure we would have another miscarriage, and I just couldn’t deal with everyone again. December 30th I went to the doctor for an emergency visit because of some really heavy bleeding. They did an ultrasound, and I fully expected to see a dead baby on the screen. Instead there was a tiny little dancing fetus – perfectly healthy; heart beating. My OB watched me carefully, because of my history of miscarriage. Somehow we eventually found ourselves in uncharted territory – the second trimester! Once we reached this stage, we had to let the adoption agency know. They don’t allow “artificial twinning,” so our pregnancy meant we had to make our adoption listing inactive.

Because of my history, my OB also referred me to the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors at our hospital. They also kept a close eye on me, and at my 20-week ultrasound at their office, we discovered that dancing baby was a little girl. We decided on her name: Hannah Jean. In the Old Testament, Hannah is a woman who is unable to have children. She prays and she prays for God to give her a child, and eventually she is blessed with her son Samuel. “For this child I prayed, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 27) Jean is my mother’s middle name. Both names Hannah and Jean mean “God is Gracious,” and indeed he is – doubly gracious; grace upon grace. We were so excited to meet Hannah on or around her due date of August 13th.

MFM requires a 24-week ultrasound to perform a fetal echocardiogram to make sure the baby’s heart is forming correctly. On April 22nd, 2015, we went to the hospital for this appointment. During the ultrasound, the technician was asking me questions they had never asked before. “Have you been having cramping? Contractions? Have you been having any bleeding or discharge?” I sensed that something was wrong. The tech asked me to change, and told me she wanted to do a transvaginal ultrasound to get a closer look. As soon as the image came on the screen, I could tell something was wrong. My cervix was wide open, where at my last screening it had seemed closed. The doctor quickly came in, looked at Matt, and said, “You are going to go home, pack her the things she will need.” He looked at me an continued, “You are being admitted to the hospital right now, and you will remain here until the baby is born.”

Thanks to something I now know is called Incompetent Cervix, I was 100% effaced and 2 cm dilated at 24 weeks. The nurses in Labor and Delivery helped me understand just how dire the situation was. The Neonatologist came down from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit to explain the statistics (not good) and likelihood of survival (also not good). So I buckled in, made friends with L&D nurses, and tried to prepare myself for what could possibly be 16 weeks of hospitalization. Family and friends came to visit and pray. They sent cards and flowers and goodies. I got tons of emails and text messages letting me know we were being prayed for (literally all over the world!). As scary as it was, we were making the best of it, and trying to remain positive.

Saturday evening, May 2nd, I felt something trickling down my leg. Then it wasn’t a trickle, but more like a flow. My nurse did a swab test, and let me know that my water had broken. Cue the panic. We had an ultrasound to show us the position of the baby. Miraculously she had turned head-down. They gave me drugs to try to keep my body from contracting, but eventually they wore off and those mother-effing contractions took over. All told I was in labor for 36 hours, and at 7:36 a.m. on Monday, May 4th, 2015, Hannah Jean Swisher was born. The contractions were murder, but the delivery was quite easy. She weighed just 1 lb 10 ounces, and was only 12.75 inches long. (She was born “en caul,” meaning she was still in her gestational sac. We have since learned that this is said to be an indication of greatness.) There was a large team of people assembled to assess her, clean her, intubate her, etc. They held her up for me to look at her, and I immediately noticed that she looked like my little brother! Certainly a Kermeen baby if there ever was one. She was stable enough that I was able to hold her for just a minute before they took her to the NICU. I looked down at my baby girl, and she looked up at me with these wide eyes. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her alive again. I wasn’t sure if she would make it. Certainly babies this small and this early don’t survive, right?


The first time I held Hannah, just moments after she was born. Our first family photo. 5/4/15


Hannah Jean at just 5 days old. It’s hard to imagine just how tiny she was, but our hands help give some perspective. 5/9/15

Somehow, whether by miracle, prayer, strength, tenacity, love, fantastic medical care, or some combination of the above, Hannah not only survived, but she THRIVED. She spent the first 117 days of her life in the NICU at Community North Hospital in Indianapolis being cared for by a superb medical team. Her doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, even the members of the custodial team were all loving and kind and encouraging and knowledgable and they will never ever fully understand just how grateful we are for them. Hannah came home on August 29th, 2015 with no monitors, no oxygen, no nothing. Just wide eyes and healthy lungs and chubby legs – and sunglasses. It was a bright day, and that girl had never seen the sun before!

Since then it has been months of playing and snuggling and feeding and crying and rocking and reading and bathing and falling in love with a precious, miraculous gift of a girl. We are so in love with our Rainbow Baby! Even her pediatrician calls her a miracle. You would never know she was born so early! She has been developmentally caught up to her actual age since she was around 9 months old. We are so proud of her, and really are in awe of just how awesome she is.


Hannah now – age 16 months. (Yes, her eyes are two different colors. Just another thing that makes her unique!) 9/28/16

So you would think that would be enough to keep us busy, but our family update doesn’t end there. We always wished for at least two children. I love my siblings, and I couldn’t imagine Hannah not getting to have at least one sibling of her own. We figured it would take a long time to get pregnant again, if I was even able to. Somehow we ended up getting pregnant just two days after Hannah’s first birthday. (Okay, yes I know how this happens. I am fully aware of the process! I just never in a million years imagined we would get pregnant again THAT quickly.) This time with the positive pregnancy test we were just shocked. Like, SHOCKED. We went to the doctor, saw a little heartbeat on the ultrasound, and buckled in for what was sure to be an interesting pregnancy.

We learned at 13 weeks that we are having a little boy, and we have named him Henry James. My beloved great-grandmother’s name was Henrietta, and Matt’s grandfather’s name was James. We have said for 6 years that if we ever had a boy that’s what his name would be. I’m really looking forward to getting his room ready. It will be  St. Louis Cardinals room – yay!

I am seeing at least one doctor every other week. I’m getting ultrasounds every visit. I got to have a cerclage placed surgically on July 25th. (McDonald stitch, for those who are interested.) A cerclage is a stitch that they place in my cervix to keep it from opening early. The doctor will remove it around the 36-week mark, and I could go into labor any time after that. The cerclage means I am on “pelvic rest” for the duration of my pregnancy (Google that. I just can’t say it.), so that’s REALLY fun (#not). Also because of my incompetent cervix, I get to have weekly progesterone shots in my butt, which hurt like hell, and make me a hormonal mess. (Hot flashes, even more zits than normal, moodiness, etc.) I’m also super-tired and wear out easily. AND I’m not allowed to do any heavy-lifting (including Hannah), so Matt has really been taking on the bulk of the housework and toddler-duty. It’s really been a lot of fun around the Swisher house the past few months! But so far, everything looks great! Henry is growing perfectly. My cervix is staying nice and long (last measured at over 5 cm – yay!) and CLOSED. Hopefully the combination of the progesterone shots and the cerclage will keep Henry cooking for quite a bit longer than Hannah did. I’m starting to feel Henry move a lot more lately too, which is fun. Hopefully Matt will be able to feel him soon. He was never able to feel Hannah move in my belly. She came too early!

Today I am at 23 weeks and 3 days. We are nearing the point in pregnancy when Hannah was born, and to say that I am a little nervous would be understating it a bit. Our NICU friends are encouraging us to just get to 30 weeks, and then they will feel better. I’m telling myself that if I can get through Thanksgiving, I will breathe a sigh of relief. Anything can happen, but I will just feel better. His due date is January 24, 2017. I would really like for him to come in 2015 though, for tax and insurance deductible reasons! 🙂

So that’s the major news around these parts. Other things have been happening with our families and friends, but I could never cover it all in this blog, nor should I really try to. Not my stories to tell, honestly. There have been moments of intense joy and intense grief in our families over the last couple years. Through it all, though, I remain confident that God is present during all of it. He celebrates with us. He grieves with us. He provides for us. He blesses us even when we don’t see it. He even keeps little blogs going when owners doing a piss-poor job of keeping them updated. May you experience God’s love a little bit today… ❤


40 by 40 – An Update

Happy Birthday to Me!



This morning, September 7, 2014, at 4:59 a.m. I turned 34 years old. THIRTY FOUR. 34. I’m trying to let that sink in…

Nope. I just can’t believe it. I may be larger and wiser and wrinklier and slower, but inside – deep down in my guts – I still feel about 18. But 34? It just can’t be. I realized a few weeks ago that I am closer in age to 50 than I am to high school. OUCH. Life moves so quickly!

Four years ago I wrote a post called 40 by 40 – a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40 years old. I figured 10 years is a good amount of time to get a list this size checked off. What better day than today to post an update on how this list is going? 


Katie’s 40 by 40
(not in any order)

1. Visit Disney World
2. Go on a culinary tour of Italy
3. Go on a culinary tour of Paris
4. Take a cruise vacation
5. Pay off all my debt – Getting there! So very close…
6. Be at a healthy weight – Working on it! 
7. Eat more whole, organic, locally-grown foods
8. Read 12 books per year OR 120 books by the time I’m 40 – It’s going well! 🙂 I can’t cross this one off yet though…
9. Be in the habit of working out at least 15 minutes daily
10. Find a hair cut that I love
11. Understand baseball – I’m getting better! Last week at a Cardinal game, I cheered. Matt looked at me and said, “Do you know why we’re cheering?” I looked at him for a minute and said, “Well, yeah. We have two players in scoring position, and a guy with a higher batting average is at the plate.” Duh. 🙂
12. Get a great camera and learn how to use it well
13. Learn to play piano
14. Learn to play guitar
15. Learn Spanish
16. Read the bible from start to finish
17. Improve my complexion
18. Start a great ministry
19. See everyone in my family come to know and love Christ
20. Stop cursing – If this ever happens it will be a damned miracle…
21. Be known for a dish that I makeIf I had a dollar for every time I was asked to make my green bean casserole, I’d have like twenty two dollars…
22. See these artists perform live (again or for the first time): Neil Young, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Metallica, Marc Broussard, (to be continued/added to)
23. Live in New York City – even if for just one year
24. Go to Las Vegas with my Grandma Alice at least one more time
25. Learn to bake like my mom
26. Learn to be rebellious like my dad (to a point!) – I’m as rebellious as I’m going to get! 🙂
27. Become a mother (either by birth or adoption or surrogacy) – SO CLOSE!!!
28. Find a beer that I enjoy drinking – No closer to this one, but I have discovered WINE. (cheers!)
29. Learn to bake bread
30. Create things that people love so much, they would pay money for them – People have purchased my photos. I can hardly believe it!
31. Decorate my home well – I feel like I will never accomplish this! I feel it’s so much better now than it used to be, but dang those interior design bloggers! They make me feel useless…
32. Have a great garden
33. Finish at least one more cross-stitch project
34. Catalog family photos with my dad
35. Enjoy one last good conversation with Grandma Jordan. – Sadly this one will never be crossed off. Grandma passed a few months after writing this list, and I didn’t get to see her again before she died. I will always ALWAYS have great guilt over that.
36. Worry less
37. Rent a beach house with my family for an awesome vacation
38. See the ruins in Greece
39. Go on a genealogy tour of Holland, Germany and the British Isles
40. Be on The Price is Right

There. If I can do those things, I’ll be at perfect peace and happiness, right? 🙂

Ten years is a long time to cross these things off my list. As I look at all of these items, I have to think of some things that will probably happen during the next decade:

  1. Tayla and Damon will graduate high school, and may even marry and/or have kids (Tayla graduated this year, and started at University of Dayton last month!)
  2. Kamryn and Clarissa will be in high school: dating, learning to drive, getting grounded and turning into women (OY VEY)
  3. Harrison will be here, and will be a tall, lanky 10 year old (He turned four last week! And he’s already tall and lanky!)
  4. Grandma Jordan will probably have passed away – one of the great saints of my life. (She’s 99 now, if she’s alive in 10 years, someone please call Willard Scott!) – She passed on December 23rd, 2010 – just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. I am blessed to have been loved by her.
  5. My parents will continue to age – hopefully well. – Very well! Older, yes, but still just as fun and loving as ever!
  6. My brother may marry a wonderful woman that fits right in to our crazy family – Not married, but he has definitely paired up with an awesome woman who fits right in!
  7. One or more of our pets will probably die. – We lost Lucille earlier this year. So hard…
  8. We may move once, twice, 5 times! Who knows? – Just once…so far!
  9. If I remain in my current job, I will have at least one change in bosses. – And yes, I have a new boss. Hopefully he sticks around for a while!

Some things will continue to be the same though:

  1. Tragedy will continue to strike. – yes
  2. Happiness will continue to prevail. – yes
  3. Matt and I will continue to love each other strongly and deeply. – Oh, yes.
  4. God will continue to be sovereign. – Yes, always.


Well that’s it for the update. Here’s to turning 34! Cheers!