Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Oh how much I love Christmas. I love the traditions that my parents keep up, I love the food and family get-togethers, I love the music, I love the decorations, I love the anticipation, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't "like" the presents (both giving and receiving). Ultimately, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I think I look forward to it now the same as I did when I was little.

As the Ernstbergers get older and more spread apart, we find ourselves scrambling to find a date to hold our family Christmas. We had the Ernstberger Christmas on December 20th-21st, which was a little early, but it was the only time we could all be together in the same place (which is what Christmas is all about anyway, right?)!. I was photographing a wedding on the 20th, so I had to come really late that night, but I was there for the breakfast and gifts the next day. We enjoyed sharing our gift exchange gifts and seeing Gus get into his presents. Christmas truly is wonderful in the eyes of a child. Last year, he was such a little guy....and this year he was so into it!
 

I presented the family with the annual "highlight reel" video of pictures from family events over the past year. It's always fun to take a moment to remember all the wonderful things that happened over the last 12 months. 

A few days later was the real Christmas Eve/Christmas, and I was happy my brother could come home. My parents, Chris, Luke, and I really had a great time catching up, eating, and going to midnight mass together. My parents did WAYYYYYY too much (err...I mean Santa...) for us, and ended up getting us a Wii, Wii Fit, AND Guitar Hero. I was absolutely blown away! We had so much fun playing the Wii (my dad even bowled)! We are soooo thankful for all they do for us.
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve PJs (a tradition!)

Christmas night, Luke and I headed to New Albany to see his extended family and grandma. It was wild and chaotic like always, but we enjoyed the annual Nativity play with the little kids. Again, being around kids on Christmas is exciting in and of itself. They are definitely hyper and crazy, but they make you feel young again!

The sky on Christmas night!

Luke posing with Mr. Gus at Grandma's!

We traveled a lot of miles over the last week, but we truly enjoyed every minute of seeing all of our family members and making lots of memories. We are very blessed to have such great people in our lives!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Date (and an ice storm, too)

Luke and I decided to celebrate "our" Christmas together on the 23rd. We wanted to do some fun things together around the city, so we decided to take in a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium! It was a great, hour long tour that took us to the press box, locker room (only the visiting one...boo...), all the terraces, and even the field! The tour guide was LESS than impressive (I think I knew way more about the Colts than he did....), but we had a blast going places that most fans never get to go. It was a great $7 spent.

Us on the field!

My "victory dance"

Luke doing the "Dallas Clark" on the way out of the tunnel

We were hungry after the tour, so we stopped at White Castle. Why White Castle, you ask? Well, I had never had a "slider" before, so we decided I needed the experience. Why not? Gotta say...they were yummy! 

As we got back to our house, we realized there was a LOT of ice on the ground. Traffic was really backed up, and everything was slow moving. As it turns out, Luke's mom and sisters were in Indy having lunch, and it took them nearly 5 hours to get back (which it should have taken 1) because of the ice. 

We stayed close to home for dinner and just went to Ruby Tuesday's...where Luke was denied a beer because he didn't have his ID. What, he doesn't look 21? :-)

When we got back, a funny thing happened. We tried to go up the driveway, but the car couldn't get any traction on the ice! We would get so close to our garage and then start sliding backward. We were nervous we would hit the house, so we parked the car at the end of the driveway and walked up. Walking up the driveway was an adventure, too...documented with this video below. It was a fun, fun day full of laughter and love - a perfect Christmas date!

video

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ashley's First 5k!

Sometime in October (maybe after Luke's 1/2 marathon), I got the motivation to begin running. I have never, ever been a runner. In fact, prior to starting this program, the longest I had ever run was the mile in gym class. With my short legs and less-than-stellar aerobic endurance, I just never found it that enjoyable. In fact, I found it TORTUROUS! (what the heck is a runner's high, anyway?)

Well, I found online a plan called the "Couch to 5k" running plan. It is on the Cool Runnings website. Anyway, it takes you week by week, starting very slow and working your way up to a 5k. Luke promised he would do it with me and encourage me, so I decided to give it a try. The first week had me alternating 1 minute of running with 90 seconds of walking. I remember crying during this phase because I didn't think I could get through it. 

As the weeks went on, we continued the plan (even in the cold winter weather). We would bundle up and head out for a jog each night, and each night presented a new set of challenges. I would either cry, get mad at Luke, or nearly die of exhaustion. 

We registered for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Indy. I had done this 2 other times in college (walking of course) because arthritis is AOII's philanthropy. This time, I was going to RUN it! 

The longest run, prior to the 5k, that we had been able to do was about a 20 minute run. I knew that I hadn't actually run 3.1 miles yet in one session, but I decided to go through with the 5k anyway. 

I was so nervous on race day, but Luke calmed me down and promised to stay at my pace the whole time. I turned on my iPod and listened to Britney Spears as I told myself, "just get to the next corner...just get to the next sign...just get to the next stoplight..." I refused to stop running, even to tie my shoe or adjust my iPod arm band. I just wanted to keep moving. Luke would tell me every now and then, "Babe! You made it to the next mile marker! You're almost there!"

Rounding the corner toward the finish, which was on IUPUI's outdoor track, was an exhilarating feeling. When we got on the track and close to the finish, I had this energy that I didn't think I would have. It was an amazing feeling to FINISH and know that I did it all and never quit. My time was a little less than 37 minutes, which definitely won't qualify me for the Olympics :-), but I don't care. I am very proud of what I accomplished that day (and in the cold weather, no less)!

Putting my game face on before the race!

Don't mind how horrible I look....I was just happy to finish!
We finished the race, rested up, and prepared to host about 50 people at our house for our first Christmas party. People dressed up in Christmas attire (complete with Allison and Chris as Jesus & Mary with a plastic baby Jesus), we had Christmas music, food, beer, and games in the garage. My girlfriends and I did a gift exchange, and everyone had a great time. It is so fun to have people in your home, especially around the holidays. It was great to see how our high school friends, college friends, med school friends, and our "adult life" friends would mesh together. Everyone got along great, and the party finally closed down around 3 a.m.! The clean up process wasn't fun, but that is what you get when you throw a party!

Luke and some of his old roommates at the party!

Abel & Elizabeth

Elizabeth and myself dressed as Santa bags (we were soooo excited to get these at Bed Bath and Beyond for $5!)

The girls after our exchange

Luke's med school friends

Taylor, Clay, and Luke

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like ________________

Just some photos of the Christmas decorations in our house as well as the tree lighting in Indy! I LOVE Christmas!


Our  tree :-)


Stealing my mom's idea...hanging ornaments from the chandelier

Freezing, waiting for the tree lighting!

There it is!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Luke and I enjoyed a great Thanksgiving this year. We had a Muncie Thanksgiving on Wednesday night at Luke's parents' house. My parents joined us, which made it a lot easier on me (rather than have to be 2 places at once)! I have always loved that my parents and Luke's parents do a lot of things (like holiday events) together. It really makes for a fun family atmosphere. 

Luke and I spent Thanksgiving day in New Albany at his grandmother's house. It is always fun to see allllll the Ernstbergers and enjoy the good food.

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story! Christmas is coming soon.... :-)

Though they don't look that happy, I promise we had a great time at Eric & Lisa's

Lisa was teaching everyone how to make snowflakes. Mine is a Colts one!

We think Luke's turned out a little satanic

New Albany Thanksgiving

Our family just keeps getting bigger (Liz was at work)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Colts vs. Texans!

Luke and I have attended two other Colts games (both at the RCA Dome...both were losses!). We got the chance to go to the Colts vs. Texans game at the new Lucas Oil Stadium. What an immense place! We enjoyed watching a tough game that ended in a Colts victory! Finally! 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame!

For the third year in a row, my parents have generously treated Luke, my brother, and myself to a Notre Dame football game. It's really my mom and brother's "thing," but I really enjoy football as well as the campus. It is an absolutely beautiful place. I always get so jealous of the students whenever I visit. 

This past weekend had the BEST weather (compared to last year in the freezing rain), so we were able to truly enjoy it from start to finish (through all the overtimes AND a loss). We experienced a jet fly over, which literally raised the hair on my arms, and we also saw the sprinkler system go off on the field during the game! It was a memorable day, for sure!

My brother's girlfriend, Jana, came, too. Chris is trying to teach her all about football and she really seemed to enjoy it. 

I love taking pictures at Notre Dame. The beauty and majesty of the campus just never gets old, win or lose (we have yet to see them win).

My brother and me

My parents with my brother and me

I love this picture!

Luke doing his Touchdown Jesus impression

It took my dad 3 tries to get this...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

We spent Halloween this year at Abe & E's in their new house. We had a great time getting dressed up, and I think the boys won the award for best costumes (Batman and Joker). However, I do have to give credit to Sarah Keck for her "cholo" outfit. For those of you not "hip to slang," a cholo is a Mexican gangster. If you look close enough, Sarah definitely looks like a Mexican gangster!

I played the part of an Oscar statuette, gold leggings and body dust in all. E was Elphaba from our beloved Wicked play. Maggie was Angelina Jolie and all her babies. Abel was the Joker, Heath Ledger style. Luke was Batman (which he made the costume ALL by himself!). Sarah Ordo and Bev were the "Spirits of Halloween." It was truly a fun night in the cornfields of Greenfield!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Luke's 1/2 Marathon!

It was a beautiful October day...what better time to run a 1/2 marathon? Luke was originally training for his first full marathon (he has done a few 1/2 marathons before), but his studying to the best of him and he ran out of time. He decided to only go for 13.1 miles...what a wimp! (kidding!)

Luke's dad and sister, Clare, joined me in cheering him on at the finish. He was quite proud of his time, which was just over an hour and a half. I truly can't believe how amazingly athletic he is. Anything he sets his mind to, he can accomplish. 


Going to any kind of race event is really inspiring. I love seeing the people cross the finish line, usually with their fists in the air, amazed that they "did it." It truly is an emotional experience to persevere and keep going when you want to quit. I commend anyone who finishes any race, no matter the distance. 

After the race, we had to hurry up and get ready for Jenn & Justin's wedding in Muncie! I had the honor of doing a reading for the ceremony (1 Corinthians, which has special meaning to our sorority). Jenn's mom passed away in May from a long battle with cancer, so it was an emotional day, but a happy one. Her mom's spirit was with her all day, and it was truly a memorable experience to share. Congrats, Jenn & Justin!

Laura, Allison, Jenn, Nikki, Jess, Amanda, and I

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weeping Cherry Blossom


I have always loved cherry blossoms. I don't know why, really. I guess when I went to Washington, D.C. as a high school sophomore on a school trip, the infamous cherry blossoms were in bloom, and I noted how beautiful and sweet and innocent they looked. They only bloom during a very short time period, and they go away for the rest of the year. For some reason, when I was on my trip, the blossoms were out, and I felt lucky to see them. 

Fast forward about 8 years. I have tendency to go down the baby aisles when I am at Target. I have been doing this for a solid year or so. Somewhere within the past year, I spotted a cherry blossom nursery set at Target. I told myself that when I had a little girl, her nursery would be decorated in cherry blossoms...the ultimate symbol of beauty and sweetness (what every little girl should be). 

When I found out we were having a baby, I instantly felt like she was a girl. In fact, I think I was almost willing her to be a girl. Not that I wouldn't have loved my child if he were a boy, but I was really feeling a girl. Luke felt it, too. I had dreams in which I would see her sweet face. She would have dark hair like me. I was already making plans to have the nursery decorated in cherry blossoms. In fact, when we moved into this house in May, I bought a vase of silk cherry blossoms to decorate the office (which would have been the nursery). It's like every little dream of mine was coming true...

Until September 12, when our world came crashing down. There would be no little girl...there would be no cherry blossoms. The past two weeks have been hell...to put it lightly. I have fluctuated between being calm and sane to emotional and inconsolable. I have blamed myself, I have blamed others (which is silly because NO ONE can be blamed for what happened). I have questioned my faith, and at the same time, I have been reassured of my faith. I have been up and down an emotional roller coaster, and I have just been begging for something or someone to stop the ride so I can calmly get off. 

This past weekend, I reached a place of peace that I had not been able to reach. Seth & Abel decided to organize a little ceremony for our child...and they invited our families to come to our house today after church so they could all present us with a tree...a cherry blossom tree. In fact, we got a weeping cherry blossom tree. The symbolism with the "weeping" part of the tree is just perfect. What a perfect representation of our child, who we both felt was a girl. I cried, but not in an incontrollable way. I was happy. I was relieved. No longer would I have to worry that our child would be forgotten...by us or by our families. Our beautiful little tree, strategically placed outside the window of the office that would have been the nursery, will remind us every single day that we created a child. When our families and friends come over, they will see the tree and know that it is in remembrance of our baby we never got to meet. Even when we go on to have more children (which I am confident that we will), we will never, ever forget our first. We can explain to our children what the tree represents. The tree is a part of our family, as silly as that sounds. 

I feel better than I have in two weeks. I know that I am not "over this." I can never be  "over it." What an insensitive thing to expect. However, I have renewed hope that we will have beautiful children one day, and I know now, more than ever, that our first child will always be a part of our lives. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bittersweet Reflection

I just went back through and re-read several of my blogs from when I knew (or thought) I was pregnant. I use that terminology because right now I am feeling so betrayed by my pregnancy...by my own body. I can't believe that our child never made it past the fertilized egg stage...that she wasn't growing each day like we thought...that she wasn't even visible to the human eye the way we thought. It upsets me because when I read back through my posts, I was so excited...I was believing all the signs my body was giving me...the nausea, the cravings, the belly swelling. My body was tricking me. My body was telling me that I was responsible for the growth and development of a child, but in reality, I lost the child a long time prior to seeing that haunting blank ultrasound. Luke talked to my belly...he kissed it. And that was all it was...my belly. Not our baby. 

I met with Lisa and my mom last night. We had dinner, and we talked about how I was feeling about all of this. Lisa has first-hand experience with losing a child, even though she lost Luke #1 after 7 months of pregnancy. I can't even imagine...my heart can't even wrap around that kind of sorrow. I was a mere 2.5 months pregnant. Lisa had traveled the journey so much longer than me. 

I felt better after talking to my mom and Lisa. Pain shared is pain halved...so I am trying to just express my feelings to those who care about me so that they can shoulder some of the pain for me...I don't mean to ruin anyone's day or make anyone feel sorry for me...but I am currently accepting all the prayers and all the sympathy (even better, empathy) I can get. Each person I talk to about this has something new, insightful, and sincere to say. I am learning from the experiences of others, and I am looking, each minute I am awake and even while I am dreaming, to the day when I meet our children face to face. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Starting Over

I haven't written since a week ago. I thought I would never want to pull this website up again. However, as I sit here in my pajamas with my hospital band on my wrist, I have found the urge, and the need, to document what's been happening this week....what happened today....and what we hope will happen in the future.

Last Friday, the wind was knocked out of us. No one could see this coming. When I went to my first doctor's appointment, I had no idea I would come out with an appointment for a D & C the following Friday. I didn't even know what a D & C was. All I knew was that something horrible had happened, and I was supposed to just suck it up and deal with it. 

Saturday, instead of the "family cookout" we had planned to reveal the news of our baby to our family, Luke and I spent much of the day by ourselves. We were grief-stricken and lonely. We wanted to see people, but at the same time, we didn't. Luke's family still got together at Abel & Elizabeth's. This didn't bother me really...but it just reminded me that of course life will go on for others. I know they felt for us, and I know that they didn't know what to do to make it better, but it just definitely proved that this world does not stop turning, even when babies die.

Saturday evening, Abe & E and Seth & Liz (and Gus) came to see us. I was happy to see them, and I think Luke was even happier. For the first time, I saw him smile and laugh. To be honest, I think he temporarily forgot about our situation, as much as you can temporarily forget something like this. We played Taboo, ate pizza, talked, and things were quite normal. On two occasions, seeing my beautiful nephew was too much to bear, and I needed some time alone. I cried in the bathroom by myself, similar to the way I cried when I first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test. I kick myself now, telling myself that the next time, IF there is a next time, I will never cry or question God's timing...and I will jump for joy just for being given the slight chance of becoming a mother...even though now I know that it might not end up as planned. 

Sunday morning, I woke up early and went outside to my patio. In the still and quiet of the early morning hours, I was able to listen to the wind...the birds...my heart. I was alone with my thoughts until I heard little hands on the door, and a little voice talking about Aunt Ashley. My beautiful Gus was standing there, and Liz wasn't far behind. I've never met a more beautiful soul than Liz. Now, more than ever, I wish that I was more like her, especially given that beautiful baby bump she's got that I will never get (at least during this pregnancy). She sat next to me and cried for me, which is more than I could have ever asked for. Her empathy really wrapped itself around me, and she could understand things that others couldn't.

We went to church, which I know was a good thing, but it was very difficult to get through. The music, the message, the children in the pews...it was all too much. I found myself sobbing at one point, making eye contact with a young boy who probably thought I was crazy and scary. It's almost as if God was reaching inside of me, pulling out my pain, and the sobbing was part of the exit process. 

I had a shower for Jenn I needed to get to in Muncie, and it was difficult to drive an hour by myself. However, I did it, because I knew that my friends were counting on me to be there. I walked in, saw my dear friends, and pretended to be OK. I broke down a tiny bit, once I relived the nightmare of the blank ultrasound. We got through the shower, and I managed to leave without reliving it again. I knew they would understand.

I went to work Monday through Thursday (crying the whole way on Monday morning). I managed to not say a word to anyone, except to my principal to tell him why I was missing a Friday and a Monday, taking advance sick days. He probably wouldn't have questioned me anyway, but I felt the need to mention what had happened...so as to provide an excuse if he saw me more sad than usual, less talkative, or acting out of the ordinary. I didn't want to be caught in a weak moment by my boss, giving him the opportunity to ask the cliched, "What's wrong," and thus sending me into a tailspin. I wanted the control, so I told him. Which, as you could imagine, was awkward.

I had a meeting for Section 125 (benefits my teacher's union provides at additional cost) on Monday. How ironic, really. The plan the man was trying to sell me was short term disability, where if I were to go on maternity leave and not have enough days, I would start getting a partial paycheck 15 days after my sick days would run out. I would also get a reimbursement for labor/delivery. I don't know why, but I was sold on this plan at an additional $17 per pay. I thought, "Why not?" I had to answer three questions, and the third one was, "Are you currently pregnant?" I had to answer "no." I wasn't. This plan doesn't accept pre-existing conditions, so he told me that I couldn't get "diagnosed as pregnant" before December 1 of this year. Diagnosed? It was a funny way of putting it, I guess. Basically, I can't get pregnant before December 1 in order to reap these benefits. You can read more about getting pregnant again below.

Also, Monday, I was driving home from school, and I passed the Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville. I had this desire to stop in and spend money, so I did. I do suffer/benefit from retail therapy, and I just need to go into Bath & Body Works. It made me feel better, and, you know, for the first time...I will say that I deserved it. I had recently ordered $50 worth of maternity clothes from OldNavy.com, and I knew I would be immediately returning those things...so I might as well replace it with an equal amount of Bath & Body Works, right? 

Luke has had a difficult time this past week. I don't think that guys share this kind of personal information as openly as women do. We decided to send an e-mail to many of our friends, explaining what had happened, since none of them knew of our baby in the first place. We knew we were taking a chance that absolutely no one would write us back, and we would feel even more alone than we already did, but we really had nothing to lose. So, we sent the e-mail and, within hours, we got some BEAUTIFUL, amazing responses that brought tears to our eyes. Luke even received a phone call from a couple of male friends, and this helped him, I think. We got a couple of cards this week from family friends, and we also got some phone calls from family. We feel the grace we have been granted...and we feel the prayers. I also got some beautiful flowers from my friends at school. Everyone was very jealous :-)

Basically, to get to the point of this entry, I had the D & C today. I was scared, and even cried last night for one of the few times all week. It probably didn't help that I was watching Grey's Anatomy and watching people die in surgery. We went in at 7:30 today, and we were home by about 11:30 (including a trip to Meijer for groceries). The nurses and doctor were so amazingly nice. I was very impressed with the whole Community North experience. The operating room did look just like what you see on TV...and it was about 40 degrees in there (maybe not, but it was COLD). I remember talking about teaching, and then I was out. When I woke up, a nice lady was saying my name and taking care of me in recovery. Not long after, I saw my beautiful husband, and we were allowed to go home much quicker than we thought. Again, all the people we have worked with have been just wonderful. 

The doctor explained to Luke that everything went well...there was nothing to be worried about as far as anything long term. So now we are faced with the question, "Where do we go from here?" I have this urge to be pregnant again. However, I am scared to death....scared of this happening again. Everyone I have spoken to and everything I have read says that with only one miscarriage, your risk of having another one is the same as having one in the first place. Everyone says that it is common, and that we will go on to have many babies. I don't know when (or even if) that will happen for us, but I do know that I will be doing everything I can to make myself as healthy as possible the next time around. I want to give this child the best chance to possible to make it in this world. 

I wouldn't say that either one of us are healed, emotionally or physically. I know that it is a process, and we might ever be completely "over it." However, I am choosing to see the silver lining in these clouds, and I know that good days are to come. I also know that my friends and family are wonderfully amazing, and I couldn't have picked a better man to spend the rest of my life with. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Devastation

I can't believe I'm writing this, possibly to an audience that might never see it. However, I've documented the last two months of our child's life, and I can't just leave the book open and the page unturned.

"There's the amniotic sac,  but there's no baby."

Those words churn my dinner in my stomach and are keeping me awake at this hour of the night. There's no baby. There's no baby. There's no baby. 

For 10 weeks (5 of those weeks, I was aware of my pregnant status), I took care of myself the way any expectant mother would. I turned down the alcohol, switched from Diet Coke to water, exercised, ate vegetables, and took the prenatal vitamin every morning, in hopes that all these measures would give us the best chance possible for a healthy, happy baby. Little did we know that the baby was either never there, or gone long before I even knew I was pregnant. The little person Luke was speaking to and kissing each morning before school was not the "raisin" or "seahorse" we thought she was. She wasn't there. She wasn't an inch long like we thought she was. She didn't have the arm and leg buds with tiny fingers like we thought she did. She never had the tail that we jokingly feared would never fall off. We never made it that far into the pregnancy, but we didn't know until Friday, September 12, 2008. 

I felt my belly grow and my body change. I was ready to wear the maternity clothes. More than anything, I was ready to tell our family and friends the incredible news that God had chosen us to be parents. I was ready to tell school that my maternity leave would be beginning around April 13, 2009. I was ready to go to the doctor appointments and learn about our baby's latest developments. For as unready as I was on August 11th, I had sure made a drastic turn around and found myself in the "more than ready" category up until yesterday at 4:00.

Yesterday was to be the first day we met with the doctor. I was running a few minutes late for the appointment due to having to leave at 2:30 and be there by 3:30. However, Luke met me at the office and we walked in together. I was surprised and excited when the receptionist told me we would be having an ultrasound. An ultrasound! We would get to see and possibly hear our baby! We would have a picture to show our parents when we gave them the news. 

We were brought back to the exam room, made small talk with the nurse, and we waited for Dr. Ertel to come in. I was instantly calmed by Dr. Ertel's youth and easy-going personality. I was excited that she would be the one seeing us through this incredible journey. We talked about the Colts and med school. Everything was normal.

Dr. Ertel explained that my lab results were normal, that I seemed healthy, and that she had no concerns. She performed the exam and then turned on the ultrasound machine. This was the moment we had been waiting for. 

When the screen came on, she pointed out my uterus. It looked, to my untrained eye, empty, but I didn't want to say anything yet. Who can read those ultrasound things anyway? I knew any minute our little peanut would be on the screen, and all would be OK. 

She moved the instrument around and around, searching. It was silent in the room, and at this point, I became worried. I looked at Dr. Ertel's face, and it said it all. I could tell something was wrong. After a few heavy moments of silence, she stopped moving the instrument and brought the screen closer so we could see what there wasn't to see...

She pointed out the amniotic sac. More specifically, she identified the empty amniotic sac. I am not an expert in ultrasound technology, I but I knew that I should be seeing something by now. Dr. Ertel was genuine and sympathetic as she told us, "This isn't going to be a normal pregnancy for you. I'm not seeing a baby." 

I took a painful look at Luke, who was shocked and immediately asking questions as to why and how this could have happened. All I was thinking was that there was no way this was happening to us. The doctor termed this situation as a "missed abortion" miscarriage. Basically, it's a miscarriage that hasn't yet happened on its own. After looking it up on the Internet, I found that it is when the embryo has actually died, but the sac has remained and not been expelled by the body yet. She explained that this "expulsion process" could happen any day now, and she was surprised that my body had held onto the sac for 10 weeks since the embryo was gone a long time ago. 

She left the room so we could have some time to ourselves. At this point, Luke and I found ourselves holding onto and holding up each other. I didn't want to completely lose control of my emotions with the nursing staff waiting right around the corner, so I tried to hold at least some of myself together as I put my Colts socks back on and moved from the exam table to the bench Luke was sitting on. I was no longer a patient. I was no longer an expectant mother.

When Dr. Ertel came back in, she had two documents. One was the cliched brochure about how to "deal" with your early pregnancy loss. The other document was describing the D & C procedure that Dr. Ertel wanted me to have done within the next week. D & C stands for dilation and curetting, which basically means that instead of waiting on my body to just miscarry the tissue and amniotic sac on its own, which can be a physically painful and emotionally distressing thing, the doctor would rather the D & C surgically take care of removing "what's left." My first thought when she explained what would be happening was, "kind of like an abortion." I guess it would be similar, but remember, there's no baby. 

All the information was overwhelming, and I found myself just nodding and trying to smile and not make the doctor feel too horrible. I could tell she was feeling for us, but I also know that in her mind, she has seen this happen before, and she knows the science behind it all. We are not the first couple to experience this tragedy, and we won't be the last. All we can pray is that this will be our last. 

The D & C will be scheduled for Friday. We could do it sooner, but I don't feel comfortable taking a day off during ISTEP testing. So, next week, I will walk into my classroom, throw away the desk planner that has my due date written on it, and pretend that nothing ever happened. I will administer the ISTEP test, and then Friday, I will go and officially "end" the pregnancy that really, in all reality, never began in the first place. I will return the pregnancy exercise video I bought and never opened, and I will send back the Old Navy clearance maternity clothes I ordered online. We will put away the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book, and we won't be filling the prescription for prenatal vitamins. Maybe we will keep the Notre Dame onesie we bought for my parents to give the baby "next football season," and I would imagine that we will hang onto the crib we so hastily purchased one week after getting the positive result on the pregnancy test. At least we hadn't set it up yet, and it is safe in the attic. 

Luke and I knew we had a tough night ahead of us. After all, our families were going to be uniting at our home today (Saturday) for the big reveal, and we just couldn't bear the thought of going on as planned. So, we made a painful and silent drive to Muncie, where we stopped at his parents house to make them aware of the third grandchild that they would never meet. When we walked in the door, they knew something was wrong, and Luke was able to verbalize to them what had happened. Though it was uncomfortable to reveal such an intensely personal trauma, we were comforted by their words and even their own tears. 

I knew the more difficult visit would be to my own parents. I am not the most open with them about health issues, and I was nervous enough to tell them that I was pregnant in the first place. When we got to their house, my mom wasn't home yet, and my dad knew something was going on. The 10 minutes we waited for my mom were agonizing for all three of us. I knew my dad was expecting the worst. I also knew he would have never expected this. When my mom walked in, we shared with them the news. Again, their tears matched ours, and provided us with some emotional support. 

For 5 weeks, we hadn't said a word to our families about the pregnancy. Now, all of a sudden, we are forced to talk about it in a way that we never anticipated. We are talking about it in the past tense. 

I now find myself wide awake with an agonizing nausea that I know has nothing to do with pregnancy symptoms. Luke and I talked last night that we wished we could just unwind yesterday and start over. We expressed that we both felt empty...that we missed "her." We are both haunted by the images in our head of her. Throughout the last 5 weeks, Luke and I both had dreams that we were having a girl, and we claimed we had even seen her face. 

I'm confused. We believe so much that God was responsible for this pregnancy in the first place. We accepted it not on our timing or planning, but we knew we had been chosen for a reason. But now, knowing that it's all over, how do we still believe that God had His hand in this, too? It's a tough pill to swallow. 

Miscarriage to me was always something that happened to other people. It was the little chapter in the back of the pregnancy book. It was the brochure at the doctor's office that no one ever picked up. It happened to the moms who smoked or drank alcohol or did drugs during their pregnancies. It didn't happen to healthy, happy, cautious mothers who followed all the rules and "did everything right." 

Where do we stand? Where do we go from here? We don't know at this point. We both agreed not to think about the future, and that we deserved to grieve for our baby in the manner she (or he) deserves. We lost our first child. That's what this will always mean to us. Even though the baby never made it to fetus status, we still loved her or him with all our hearts. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dr. appointment moved back... :-(

I was really ready to go to the doc today. I wanted to meet her and find out that all is well...maybe even hear a heartbeat? No such luck. I got a call from the office saying that she had an emergency c-section today. :-( So, I am going to try tomorrow. Hopefully the same thing doesn't happen again! I guess we should get used to this...I'm sure this won't be the first appointment that gets rescheduled due to a baby needing delivered! 

I still have yet to take a prego pic, and I am now officially 9 weeks along. It's hard to believe we found out a month ago today and have managed not to tell our families about this huge event in our lives.

School was tiring today, and it made me all the more happy that my year will end sometime around Easter (I know I shouldn't think that way, but it's a true feeling)!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Blood drawn

I got my blood drawn today. Three vials worth. I hope it was worth it! :-) 

Today at school, we were talking about embryo's in science, and a girl saw a picture in our book and said, "That embryo looks like a seahorse!" Very ironic considering that we have nicknamed the baby "seahorse" for this stage since it does really look like one. Hahahaha. This tail thing kind of gives me nightmares.

I am so excited/nervous for Saturday. We are so ready to just share this news. My figure can't hide it much longer! :-) 

Baby's first Colts Game....

...and it was a bad one.

I am so disappointed in the Colts. Boo. Baby had to listen (does she have ears?) to the yelling last night as we watched the first half of the game at a friend's apartment, and the second half we watched in bed. 8:15 kick-offs will not be favorites of mine this season. I can't possibly stay up until midnight, and I'm glad I didn't last night. The Colts lost 29-13. Soooooo disappointing. 

My belly is becoming obvious....I need to be able to talk about this pregnancy soon, before people start talking about me!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Baby had her first bump...

Yesterday was a really bad day. The day began with us finding our beautiful pear tree and half of its branches laying across our driveway. A huge arm of the tree broke off (apparently in a wind or rain storm), and now we have TONS of branches and leaves to clean up. The tree looks half-naked now. I am hoping that the branches will fill in the hole eventually. So, that was a sad way to start the day.

Then, I get home from school, and we both are just desperate to do something young and fun. In many ways, I feel like a ticking time bomb...and my days of doing what I want are numbered. So, we looked into everything downtown, and nothing struck us. Finally, we got the idea to go to the Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville and eat dinner/shop. We made it down there, had a decent dinner at an Irish Pub, watched some of the BSU vs. Navy game on ESPN (BSU won...it made me miss college sooooo much), and then we shopped a little. 

We were leaving the complex, getting ready to turn right, and a man in an SUV hit us from behind. My head slammed against the headrest pretty hard. It was weird, because my first thought was the baby. Thank goodness Baby is only the size of a blueberry or something. I got out of the car and was very angry. I'm pretty sure I even yelled at the guy who hit us. Luke told me to wait in the car while he worked it out. I was really upset, because personally I am tired of dealing with repairing cars, trees, and anything else that is not working. I just want everything to go right all the time! 

Anyway, everything is OK....Luke will need a new back bumper for sure, but that can be replaced. The tree will get cleaned up. And most importantly, we are fine & together.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The urge to buy baby stuff...

I can't wait until I buy my first baby outfit or baby item....I am holding off because without knowing the gender and without telling people, I don't want to have too much baby stuff around. However, I am really itching to start walking those baby aisles. 

I'm over 8 weeks now...and I still haven't taken one of the typical belly pictures. Maybe because my belly looks more like my college beer belly, rather than a cute baby belly. Oh well, I need to start documenting at some point, right? Maybe I will do that tonight...

I go to the doctor a week from today! Which reminds me, I need to get my lab work done. Ew.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Almost 8 weeks!

With each passing day, it is becoming more and more real that we are going to have a little baby on April 13 (or around that time)! Luke's family is making plans for Kiawah in June, and we instantly thought of our 2 month old child, traveling 13 hours to South Carolina. I don't know if that is going to happen for us. I hope we are able to maintain some normalcy after the big event happens. 

Nikki's wedding was this weekend. I managed to stay on my feet all day, lifting a 6 pound lens up and down for 12 hours. I am totally exhausted, but it was worth it. I got some great pictures of the day. I hope Nikki is pleased. 

Luke and I figured out that April 13 is 32 school days short of the end of the school year. This means I will go approximately 10 days without pay due to my lack of days. :-( Oh well, what can you do? We are going to have to start making sacrifices now to prepare for the future. The life of an adult...

Anyway, on Wednesday, I will hit the 8 week mark! I am ready to be out of the first trimester, which will be somewhere near the beginning of October. I feel I have gotten off the hook with the morning sickness, which is awesome, so I really can't complain too much about anything thus far. I'm just ready for more changes, and I am ready to see this new love of my life!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Doc Appointment!

So, Wednesday was my first time at the Castleton OB/GYN center. I really liked it there, and I didn't have to wait at all, which was a change from any other doctor's office I have been to. Anyway, I didn't meet my doctor, but I met the nurse practitioner, and she basically took every ounce of my personal and family history. She also gave me a bag full of way-too-much-information about everything from vitamins to nutrition to exercise to prenatal testing to risks and what I can and cannot do for the next 9 months. She even started talking about delivery and all this stuff...I was a tad overwhelmed!

But, what she also told me was that I am 7 weeks along and due around April 13th. Tax Season baby?! She also informed me that I need to exercise for 30 minutes 6 times a week. Ahhhh! She also said that due to my height, I'm only allowed to gain 20 lbs with this pregnancy. This should be fun :-)

My next appointment is September 11th at 3:30, and we will meet the doctor for the first time and get a physical. I have to have blood drawn before then :-( 

This is in totally unrelated and non-baby news, but I miss Ball State so much tonight. Tonight is the first home game, and I just miss that college atmosphere. I feel like I could cry about it! I guess those are the hormones talking...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Doctor tomorrow!

Finally, I am going to see the doc tomorrow to answer a lot of questions and confirm that the raisin is truly there and growing. I am very excited about this, but nervous at the same time!

In the meantime, I have experienced an array of symptoms, none of which unbearable, but most of them uncomfortable. Also, staying away from Diet Coke has been grueling, especially since I am so tired when I get home. Luke keeps reminding me that I am not the only one who I have to care about now, and that just puts it all in perspective. 

In other news, my clothes fit but don't look nice. My belly is kind of poking out, probably 95% due to bloating, and 5% due to the raisin. I am not going to be able to keep this a secret for much longer....September 13th can't get her quick enough!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission: Bachelorette Party; Status: Accomplished

I survived the bachelorette party without anyone questioning what was in my cup. I had cranberry + orange juice minus the vodka that everyone else had. No one even noticed! Yay! I was worried I would be forced into telling the group before I was ready, but thankfuly, the secret is still safe.

We ended up not even going to the bars, which was nice. Everyone got very tired and just wanted to stay at the house. I hope Nikki wasn't disappointed, but she said that the party was exactly "her kind of party." 

I had a crazy craving for pizza rolls at 12:30 a.m., so Hopper and I went to Meijer to get some. They were awesome! :-) 

However, my stomach (or the raisin), hates me today....and I feel sooooo horrible. I have a hot pad on my stomach and I am moving very slowly. School is tomorrow and of course I have TONS of grading to do... :-(

Friday, August 22, 2008

BUSTED!

Abel & Elizabeth know about the baby. They came over tonight, and Luke didn't hide the pregnancy book like I had asked him to, so Elizabeth found it in the bathroom. I called her after they left and confessed. I have sworn her to secrecy for the next few weeks until we tell our families on September 13th. I have to say, it feels good to know that someone else knows. It felt weird to talk about it with someone aside from Luke.

We went to Babies R Us tonight and found a Notre Dame onesie that we are going to give my parents on the 13th with a note saying, "You might want to re-gift this to someone special next football season." I am sure they will get the point that they are having a grandchild. 

I am sooooo ready for Wednesday! The first doc appointment! I am praying it goes well!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The raisin has a bed!

Luke picked up the crib we got from Craigslist tonight! It was a steal at $100 for the crib and mattress together. It is a really nice light wood color and looks brand new! I am very excited and can't wait to tell people so we can assemble the crib and get a nursery decorated! :-) 

Today was the first morning when I thought for sure that my nausea would manifest itself into vomit. But, I prevailed and no puking occurred. 

Also, I have an appointment on August 27, next Wednesday, with an OB to make this thing official! 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mmmm....donut holes!

I stopped by Meijer to get some bread to go with dinner. I was in the bakery section. This was a bad idea. I saw donut holes. They looked so good. I had to have them. So, I carried them around the store while I got a couple of other goods. I contemplated opening the box and eating one or two while still in Meijer. I opted not to. 

I blamed the purchase of donut holes on a pregnancy craving. I don't really know if it is too early to have such cravings, but this is a great excuse! :-) 

I am soooo ready to get to a doc, make sure all is well, and then announce this bombshell! 

Also, we are picking up a crib/mattress via Craigslist on Wednesday. SURREAL!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Almost spilled the beans...

We are getting so anxious to tell people the good news. We hung out with Abe & E today and just wanted to go ahead and spill the beans. However, we didn't, figuring it was probably bad luck to say anything before an official report from the doc. So, we are waiting until hopefully no later than Sept. 13...which is a family cookout we are arranging for the event. We hope both sides of family can make it so we can reveal in style. 

I read in the book that I can gain 30 lbs during the pregnancy. Now that just can't happen! I also read about labor and all the horrible things that happen leading up to it...current biggest fear is pooping on the table. What an unpleasant thought....

We discussed today if we should make plans to deliver in Muncie or in Indy, given that I spend just about equal time in both cities. We decided on Indy, probably Community North off 82nd street...hopefully if I go into labor in Muncie, someone can drive me to Indy. We are thinking of a list of "reliable" people we can hire for the job... :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dodging bullets...

Last night, we went out to the bars to celebrate a friend's birthday. You can imagine my fear when I am handed a beer immediately upon entering their apartment. I had to politely decline, not drawing too much attention to the issue. As the time went on, the pressure became more intense, and it was getting harder and harder to think of excuses. This was peer pressure to the fullest! Finally, the issue dropped, and it was time to go to the bar.

Luke and I went to the bar and he ordered a beer, and I got a cranberry juice. Juuuuuust cranberry juice. But, no one else knew that! Luke told me just to "act crazy" and no one will notice I'm not drinking. Can you believe the cranberry juice is free? Good to know!

We are planning the "big reveal" to family/friends in mid-September. Eeeeek!

Friday, August 15, 2008

What to Expect When You're Expecting

We totally bought the above mentioned title today... :-) We also went to Target and looked out the baby gear as official soon-to-be parents. For once, I wasn't just the creepy lady stalking the newborn clothes and nursery sets. I actually had a purpose...

Tonight will be the first "outing" with friends since finding out the news. Our reunion was last weekend, and I had no idea there was even a possibility of someone growing inside of me, so I am ashamed to say I had a few drinks. BUT tonight, we are going out in celebration of a birthday, and I am going to have to play off the "no drinking" very casually. Next week is a Bachelorette Party, and that is going to be even MORE difficult...but I will do it, hopefully without giving away too many clues. 

Discussion over the dinner table lead to names, middle names, and Godparents. I can't believe all the things we have to think about. It is truly so exciting! Also, Luke's fortune tonight (we had Chinese) told him to "invest in family." :-) 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

6:05 a.m.

For three days straight, at 6:05 a.m., a wave of nausea hits me hard. It is so strange! I don't know if it is triggered by my breakfast that I eat around that same time each morning, or if it is just some kind of biological timer, but it is sooooo not fun. So, from here on out, I am definitely waiting until after the 6:05 wave to hit before I get in the car and drive to Muncie. 

Still on the hunt for a doc. Luke called one, and they can't really accommodate my teaching schedule. I mean, seriously... do people REALLY take time off work for each and ever appointment they have? I'm barely going to have a maternity leave the way it is. 

Oh well, there's got to be someone out there.... :-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Your Dream Will Come True."

I ate chinese food with my parents tonight in celebration of the first day of school. My fortune cookie said, "Your dream will come true." This made me smile, but I of course couldn't mention why.

Called my doctor today to make an appointment to verify that this "dream" was indeed a reality. Well, I was informed by a very crappy receptionist that my doctor no longer does OB, and if I was wanting to actually deliver the child, I would have to look elsewhere for healthcare. Seriously? IF I want to actually deliver? What kind of question is that?

So, I am on the hunt for another doctor. This receptionist started asking me where I was wanting to deliver and all this stuff...and I just wanted to say, "WHOA, reverse the baby train"...I literally have known I am pregnant for 2 days. All I want is the official word from the doc that all is well and a baby will be on its way in April. Until then, it all feels very strange to even be talking about it. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A first...

My first wave of Morning Sickness hit me like a bus right when I was getting ready to walk out the door for my 50 minute drive to work. I was grabbing my keys and saying goodbye to Luke when it hit me...and I thought I was going to toss my waffles. 

But, just as I went to the bathroom for safety, it went away. A piece of gum later and I was definitely feeling great. 

I seriously can't believe I am writing this...

"That's definitely a second line..."


((August 11, 2008)) In one second, life changed. 

We had dinner at Bravo to celebrate the first day of the school year. I was tired, but that was nothing new. I was sitting on the couch working on some school things, and a wave of grossness washed over me....something was definitely weird and different. 

I thought maybe I was just crumbling under the stress of the new year...or that maybe my Bravo was not sitting well in my stomach. However, for some reason, I felt compelled to just make sure...

This split-second decision led me to the bathroom...digging out a reserve prego test from somewhere in the depths of my cabinet. I had done this before, thinking for sure "I was," and seeing absolutely nothing in the little window....so that was what I was expecting.

Not this time. Almost instantly, two pink lines made an appearance, and I was in such shock I dropped the thing on the floor. Afraid that I "shook it up" like a piece of sand art, I picked it up quickly and checked to see if it was actually true. I was by myself (Luke was studying on the other end of the hall), and said, "What....WHAT?" 

I froze for a second, unable to process the information. Was this true? One line was fainter than the other...so maybe it wasn't real? In my mind, all these thoughts raced by, competing for attention. My most immediate one was that I needed to get Luke. I haven't done anything big in my life or had any moment worth speaking of without him by myself. With one quick jog to the end of the house, all my plans for a cute "baby reveal" like you see in movies went out the door. I didn't care...I needed him. I was, indeed, scared.

"Luke...you need to get out here..." He was enthralled in some med school blah blah blah and was hesitant to come out at first. His original thought was that a cat had done something strange. Behind my back, he knew what I was holding....and my face said it all. I showed him the stick of destiny as I clinched my eyes shut. When I opened them, his face was frozen in a half-scared, half-happy face. He was really confused, given that he had just seen me typing away on my computer not 5 minutes earlier...

We sat...and froze....for a while. We re-read the little thingy that came with the stick of destiny...and sure enough, it seemed as though the test was honest and true. Luke's idea was to get another one so we could make sure. So, we piled in to the car and went to our favorite store, Meijer. One more test later, and it was positive...literally.

The second test wasn't as scary as the first. We kind of knew what was coming. And according to calculations, something (or shall I say, someone) is coming around April 18...and right now (at 5 weeks), she's the size of a raisin. 

Hindsight is 20/20. Last night, we put lots of pieces together over the last month...all of them leading up to this fact that God had chosen us to be parents, and He has been preparing us, giving us subtle clues (that we were not picking up on quick enough) until he just had to drop a stick of destiny in our laps. 

For example, Luke and I just celebrated last weekend our 5 year class reunion. One of my friends, Candace, let it slip that she was pregnant. She just found out. I have another friend, Megan, who is pregnant. Liz is also pregnant....and Luke told me last night that for some reason, in the back of his mind, all the news of the other pregnancies planted some kind of idea in his head that I could be pregnant, too, and I would just have some prego friends to share the ride with. Liz is due January. Megan is due February. Candace is due March. I am due April. 

Next one...Luke traded in his sporty 2-door Monte Carlo for  a 4-door Malibu. We wanted a family car and deemed the Monte Carlo inoperable for a car seat...you know...for the future. 

With all the talk about Candace's baby, the convo definitely centered on us by the end of the reunion (shamefully at a bar...I took the raisin to a bar...but I didn't know!). One of our friends, Nick, told us that when we had kids, he would have to settle down and have kids, too, because he saw us as the example for grown-up life, and he would need to follow suit. Well, Nick, find yourself a nice girl....

Luke's good friend Joey left for the Marshall Islands a few weeks ago. We went out to a bar (ahhhh, another!) to wish him off, and he informed us he won't be back until June. We joked and said that we could have an entire pregnancy and baby and he wouldn't even know (because there is no communication to the Marshall Islands). I can't wait to see the look on his face!

Lastly, I never buy raisins. Ever. But last time I was at Meijer, I had a bag of little boxes of raisins in my cart. I put them back, but I thought about them. I also had a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. I put that back, too. Coincidence? I think not.

I hardly slept at all last night. There's a lot to think about...a lot to worry about....a lot to process...and that is why we will be taking our time in telling the world...I haven't been to the doctor yet (I haven't even had the time to call!), but once we know it's official and all is well...we will be shouting from the rooftops that we, Ashley & Luke Ernstberger, will be parents. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ernstberger Wedding #3

The third and final Ernstberger family wedding took place on July 19, 2008, pretty much one year to the weekend of our wedding! Abel & Elizabeth got married at St. Francis. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception, despite the not-so-beautiful weather. It stormed really hard right when they were going to make their exit from the church. 

The surprise of the night came when Abel & Lisa did a choreographed mother/son dance to a medley of music ranging from My Humps by Fergie to In the Name of Love by U2. It was crazy, and everyone (including E) was completely shocked. It can be found on YouTube under "Ernstberger Dancing." Check it out! 

I am happy to call Elizabeth my sister! (and I guess calling Abel my brother hasn't been soooo bad)

E showing us her dress for the first time!

Mr. and Mrs. Ernstberger!

With Luke (don't mind the HORRIBLE hair I have thanks to the rain!)


Thursday, July 17, 2008

CHICAGO!

For my 24th birthday, Luke surprised me with a trip to Chicago! Since our honeymoon a year ago, we haven't "gone away" together. I would have settled for a weekend in a hotel in Indy, but he took it a step further! We had a WONDERFUL time together. The weather was beautiful, and we got to do so many fun things. We went to Shedd Aquarium, we walked along Michigan Avenue, we went to the Museum of Science & Industry, we spent a long time at Navy Pier, went to the planetarium, and our favorite attraction was the architectural boat cruise. We took it about 5:00 p.m., and it lasted over an hour. We traveled down the Chicago river with a wonderful guide who pointed out all of the beautiful buildings and the history behind them. It was very fun to spend a summer night on the water. 

We stayed at the Hotel Congress, a beautiful historic hotel! Fast forward four months, and Barack Obama's acceptance speech and celebration was held in the park right in front of the hotel. We of course got our picture taken at "The Bean," and we enjoyed some Chicago food. Overall, it was a wonderful trip that provided a ton of memories for us!

Gorgeous view, gorgeous day!

On a Water Taxi ride to Navy Pier...Luke is wearing my sunglasses by the way. 

On the ferris wheel at Navy Pier

Buckingham Fountain at night
Our vintage, yet modern, room

Birthday donut!

The Bean (which is incredibly difficult to get a picture in front of)