Motherhood, Grief, and my friend Chuck

Let me tell you about my friend, Chuck Ball.

I met Chuck when I was 17 years old and preparing to go on my first overseas missions trip to the country of Albania. He was 63 years old and, having been to Albania numerous times before, was one of the team leaders.

Chuck has a bit of a gruff exterior, and when I first got to know him I was more than a little intimidated by him. As it turns out, that gruffness was all show; you’d be hard pressed to find a more generous, encouraging, kind, and even funny man.

On that high school missions trip, thanks in large part to Chuck’s leadership, my love for Albania began. Fast-forward to today and I have been to Albania five times; three of these trips were with Chuck. He was a true friend and mentor, and in this moment it feels impossible to overstate the impact he has had on my life.

Two weeks ago I received news that Chuck had a heart attack and was at the hospital. The updates I heard throughout the day didn’t sound great, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this was the end. As I assured one friend, “I’m sure he’ll be fine, you know Chuck. We’ll see him at Christmas and give him a hard time about how he’s not allowed to get old and he’ll roll his eyes at us. It’s going to be fine, it has to be.”

Unfortunately a phone call from this same friend later than night confirmed our worst fears. Chuck had passed away. He was home in the arms of his Savior after a life so faithfully and well led.

I put the phone down and immediately burst into tears. But then something happened I wasn’t expecting, although I should have been. It’s something mundane, something that happens all the time. My ten month old reached up for me from her playpen, a big smile on her face. I had been getting her dinner when the news came, and she was hungry.

I dried my tears, picked her up, and went to get her mashed sweet potatoes off the stove. I spent the rest of the evening thinking about Chuck, but not really able to grieve the way I wanted. I couldn’t. There was dinner to eat and clean up, evening playtime to be had, bedtime stories to read… you get the picture. Mom life keeps on going, even when we want to stop.

Over the past couple of weeks since that day, I’ve realized that I have absolutely no idea how to grieve as a mom.

I’m an introvert by nature. I process sad news and major life changes best with a lot of alone time, introspection, and often times tears. Unfortunately alone time is a rare commodity these days, and while I could try to schedule a good cry in during one of Ellie’s naps, tears don’t really work that way.

I guess I’m adjusting to a new normal in more ways than one. How do I make processing my grief a priority while still maintaining the level of selflessness motherhood requires of me? What is the balance here?

I’m starting to suspect there’s no magic formula, but like all things on this motherhood journey I just need to keep prayerfully putting one foot in front of the other until I figure it out.

Grief is hard, but grief also gives us something to be thankful for. I had 13 years of learning from an incredible man, and while his loss hurts now, I would not trade his influence over those years for anything.

If you need me, I’ll be here simultaneously missing my friend and loving my family. And I’ll be sure to let you know if I discover that magic formula.

 

Dressing my Postpartum Body, AKA Learning to Laugh at Myself

My daughter was born three months ago, and while my figure is still miles away from where I’d like it to be, it generally doesn’t bother me too much. My body’s most important purpose right now is nourishing her, and if that means some parts are softer and other parts are *ahem* bigger than I would otherwise like them to be, that is just fine.

But accepting my new body and dressing it are two entirely different things.

We are going out of town this week, my first time traveling since Ellie was born. It dawned on me the other day that a vacation means I am going to be out and about and interacting with other people for a solid week and a half. Not to mention, this trip revolves around two very important family events: a graduation and a wedding. The take away? My daily uniform of yoga pants and David’s shirts isn’t going to cut it.

I surveyed my current wardrobe and discovered I had approximately three shirts and one pair of pants that actually fit me. So, birthday money in hand, David, Ellie and I hit the mall!

I was pleasantly surprised by my jean size and not too upset by the new size large shirts I had to purchase to replace my smalls and mediums.

The real adventure came when I went bra shopping.

We got off the elevator on the third floor of Nordstrom where a young, slim sales associate greeted me. She was absolutely adorable and could not have been more than 20 years old. I told her I was looking for a nursing bra but had no idea of my size. She took me back to get measured.

*jaw drop*

You guys. Not cool.

I’m not going to divulge the details, but let’s just say it’s an embarrassingly large size.

The sales associate left the room and returned with two bras for me to try on.

“These are the only nursing bras we had in *insert ungodly size here*.”

I turned around and came face to face with two of the largest, matronly looking bras I have ever seen. Whatever. If they fit and get the job done, I guess I can’t complain.

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried one on. It may have been ugly as sin, but it was definitely comfortable.

Young, skinny sales associate came back in to check the fit, and the following conversation ensued:

Sales Associate: “Well, it looks like it fits pretty well. But… is your right side your smaller side? That cup isn’t fitting as well.”

Me: “It’s currently my smaller side because it’s the side my daughter just nursed on.”

Cue uncomfortable silence and an absolutely horrified look from the sales associate.

“… oh…”

Awesome.

I was tempted to menacingly whisper “this is your future” but decided against it.

Then, to add insult to injury, my body decided to revolt.

That’s right, I leaked all over my yet to be purchased new bra as I was trying it on.

That’s right.

All over.

As I was still trying it on.

Once again, awesome.

Ironically, before leaving for this shopping trip I thought to myself how great it was that I had yet to experience one of those embarrassing leaky boobs in public scenarios.

Serves me right for being cocky.

Maternity Pictures!

Over Thanksgiving weekend David and I took maternity pictures and I am so thrilled with how they turned out, I just have to share. We took them in my parent’s beautiful backyard; it was a fun, special time to focus on our baby girl and her upcoming arrival.

Our amazing photographer, Stephen Cavecche, just happens to be my younger brother, but we would hire him again and again for our photography needs even if he wasn’t family ;). If you like what you see, check out his website at http://www.stephencphoto.com/.


baby-k-berg-maternity-session-01baby-k-berg-maternity-session-02baby-k-berg-maternity-session-05baby-k-berg-maternity-session-10baby-k-berg-maternity-session-16baby-k-berg-maternity-session-19baby-k-berg-maternity-session-20baby-k-berg-maternity-session-22baby-k-berg-maternity-session-28baby-k-berg-maternity-session-29baby-k-berg-maternity-session-31baby-k-berg-maternity-session-33baby-k-berg-maternity-session-35baby-k-berg-maternity-session-36baby-k-berg-maternity-session-42baby-k-berg-maternity-session-46


Photographer: Stephen Cavecche Photography
Location: Private Residence
Dress: Pink Blush Maternity

Advice about questioning plans to have kids, from someone who has been there

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to accuse or call out any of my specific friends or family members in any way, but rather to provide general advice to anyone interested in hearing it from my unique perspective.

Thanksgiving is a few short days away, and before we know it Christmas will be here! This season is truly my favorite time of year. I love all the celebrations, decorations, traditions, good food, and, most importantly, quality time with friends and family, some of whom I often don’t see the rest of the year. However, the holidays can also be hard for a number of different reasons.

If you are married without kids, you are probably asked on a somewhat regular basis by friends, family members, co-workers, creepy dudes in the grocery store and other complete strangers when you are planning on starting your family. I know I probably got asked that question from one person or another at least once a month. The holiday season, with all its extended family time, is often filled with these kinds of proverbial land mines.

This time last year, David and I had been trying to conceive for about two months and even though we were still early in the process we already had an inkling something was wrong. Very few people knew we were trying, and I had told hardly anyone that my body just wasn’t working right after stopping birth control.

In years past, handling questions about our family plans wasn’t hard. However, there is something about trying to conceive, even if you have only been trying a short time, that makes those questions incredibly painful and intrusive.

The purpose of this post is not to speak to the women who may be struggling to get pregnant this holiday season. You are brave and strong, and I know you have your own ways of dealing with this very personal issue. Every woman copes in her own way.

Instead, I would like to take a moment to address well-meaning family members who plan on asking their niece/sister/cousin/aunt/daughter/relation of any sort when they plan on having a baby: With all due love and respect, please don’t.

“You guys have been married for what, three years now? Are kids in your future anytime soon?”

“I heard about your husband’s new job, so excited for you! I guess now you guys can get started on popping out some kids! Just kidding. Sort of. When can we expect some babies?”

“I was surprised to hear your cousin was expecting, I thought for sure you would be the next one in the family making a pregnancy announcement.”

“You look great holding that baby, I think it’s time for some kids of your own!”

I know these statements and questions are well meaning and said with the best of intentions. But, the truth is, they are practically impossible to answer if you are trying to conceive and only serve as a reminder of what you want more than anything, but for some reason aren’t capable of at the moment.

While David and I were trying, I voluntarily reached out to those I was comfortable telling. When those individuals asked me how things were going in that department, I felt loved and was happy to answer their questions honestly. When individuals who were not in the know made statements like the above in front of a large Thanksgiving crowd, I laughed nervously at the time and cried to David later.

So, a word of unsolicited advice this holiday season from my humble point of view: if you don’t already know the status of someone’s family plans, it is best to not ask or comment, especially in a public setting. You never know what kind of battles someone else is fighting.

For Such a Time as This: Thoughts on our Baby Girl

“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

It has been nearly eight weeks since David and I found out our January baby is a sweet little girl, and I am way overdue to get my thoughts down about this big news!

Both of Baby Kberg’s grandmas came up for the big reveal and were in the ultrasound room when the tech said “three little lines… it’s a GIRL!!” Tears and very loud squeals ensued; and I spent the next several days looking and David and saying “I can’t believe we’re having a girl” over and over. Thrilled didn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling; it still doesn’t.

its-a-girlIt’s a girl! Back when my bump was tiny.

Confession time: I didn’t tell anyone, but I was convinced Baby Kberg was a boy. I don’t know why, I just had a feeling. I was looking forward to being a “boy mom” and everything that comes with raising a son, but when I heard “girl” my heart instantly melted. I know she is exactly who is supposed to join our family at this time.

This season of pregnancy has been very bittersweet, characterized by both extreme excitement and significant loss. Over the summer, two women very dear to me passed away within two months of each other. Sharon Runner and Judy Ball were incredible women of God who each mentored me in multiple ways, encouraging me in my faith, marriage, missions, career and womanhood. They loved so much bigger than themselves, and through a lifetime of service to others left a lasting impression on so many people.

About a week before we found out Baby Kberg’s gender, I tearfully confessed to David that part of me hoped we had a girl coming. Losing Sharon and Judy back to back was a significant blow. The world desperately needs good women and two of its best are now in heaven. I told David I loved the idea of raising a little girl to be a strong, faithful woman who could help carry on the legacy these women left behind.

The Lord knew what the events of this summer would be before we were even pregnant with Baby Kberg. He knew exactly what our lives would look like, and exactly who would fit into these circumstances. Our sweet baby girl is the answer to so many prayers, someone truly designed “for such a time as this.” I can’t wait to meet her!

This is Pregnancy

This post is dedicated to all the amazing women who were real with me about what I was getting myself into. You are my heroes. Seriously.

Now that our pregnancy is public, the number one question I am (understandably) asked is “How are you feeling?” And honestly, now that I’m in my second trimester, I’m feeling pretty good! But the first trimester… that was an entirely different story.

I made a promise to myself during fertility treatments that I when I became pregnant I would not complain about my symptoms, no matter how bad they were. I know all too well that many women would sacrifice just about anything for the blessing of being able to carry a child. In honor of them, and my own journey, I have been determined to ride out the difficult parts of pregnancy with positivity and grace.

However, in some situations, there is nothing wrong with telling it like it is. So ladies (or gentlemen who happen to be reading this), in the spirit of encouragement and camaraderie let me tell you, pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows.

Lest you be fooled by what I like to call the “perfect preggo” whose pictures we often see floating around Instagram, let me give you a small glimpse of what my first three months were like.

Parks and Rec

My workout routine was the first thing to go, followed closely by my ability to eat anything that remotely resembled healthy food. I didn’t do my hair or wear make-up. Ever. Attempting to shower on a somewhat regular basis and put on clean, matching clothes became a monumental task; as did driving, walking, running errands, doing housework, talking to people, and showing up for work on time. If I was fully clothed, smelling alright, and not throwing up it was a good day.

Insane nausea and fatigue ruled all. Pre-pregnancy Kendra harshly judged pregnant Kendra on a daily basis, but sick and tired pregnant Kendra could have cared less.

There is one incident in particular that I think perfectly captures the “glamour” of this stage. SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t like reading stories that involve throw up, stop now. You have been warned.

One morning smack dab in the middle of my first trimester, David was getting ready for work and therefore occupying our only bathroom. I was in the middle of my own morning routine: lying in bed taking deep breaths while waiting for my anti-nausea medicine to take effect. (Can I get an “amen” for Zofran?) Delaney, our unsuspecting bulldog, was sleeping on her bed in our room.

All of a sudden, a swift and fierce wave of nausea hit; unfortunately this was going to be a day where Zofran did mercifully little to control my symptoms. I jumped out of bed and sprinted towards the closed door of our bathroom. Delaney, thinking this was a signal to play, ran ahead of me and jumped up on the front of my legs. The epic nausea, closed bathroom door, and bulldog delay were the perfect storm. I lost it. EVERYWHERE. Right there in my hallway.

Delaney fled to safety and poor David opened the door a second later to find me kneeling in a gigantic mess, still very much in the middle of getting sick. He gently ushered me into the bathroom and began cleaning up. A couple minutes later, while I was still huddled over the toilet, I heard him say “Aw, bulldog, she got you too.”

You guys, I threw up on my dog. This is pregnancy.

Granted, I have had a harder introduction to pregnancy than a lot of women. I know my “morning” (read: all day) sickness was on the severe end of the scale. I even ended up in the hospital for fluids after an extremely bad bought of nausea left me dangerously dehydrated.

So, if you are reading this and have not experienced pregnancy for yourself, don’t let me scare you. I just want to provide a little levity and encouragement so you don’t feel bad if you don’t live up to the myth of the woman with an easy breezy pregnancy. One day you can say to yourself, “at least I didn’t throw up on my dog like that one chick.”

And if you happen to be one of those aforementioned “perfect preggos” then more power to you! Please, share your secrets with the rest of us.

Blown Away

To say I am blown away by the response to my first venture into the blogging world is an understatement.

It has been such a blessing to read everyone’s responses, and I have especially enjoyed the conversations it has spurred with other women who have either beat infertility themselves, or are in the middle of their journey. I’ve also heard from many men and women who didn’t realize infertility was such a common issue but were intrigued by our story. Thank you for taking the time to read what I had to say. The hope of having these conversations is exactly why I decided to open up. I am humbled, and honestly could not ask for anything more.

I’m still not 100% sure what I am going to use this little blog for. I started it because, due to some current and upcoming life changes, I know I will need a new outlet for my writing. I also hope to use it as a way to keep loved ones who live far away updated on our life and family in a more in-depth way than Facebook and Instagram. However, I am also open to using it for a lot more, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

I am by no means an expert on fertility issues, and there are many aspects of infertility my husband and I did not have to face. But, I found the conversations that came out of my initial post so encouraging that I am considering writing a few posts that delve into the specifics of what we experienced.

So, if anyone out there is interested in the type of testing we went through, hearing more about things like the dreaded HSG, or even laughing at awkward moments in our treatment, please let me know!

There were many times throughout our process that I turned to Google and the blogs of women I sometimes didn’t even know for information, and they brought me a lot of comfort and real-world knowledge. I would love the opportunity to provide that reassurance to others.