Foster Parenting!

Well, sometimes things just come together. And what I’ve learned over the years is that with my personality type I really rely on that happening. And thankfully, it often does!

Several weeks back I had an appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss baby things – mainly what this new genetic issue means for me and how I am going to prepare for future pregnancies and what I will do if a pregnancy occurs. I just wanted to feel as informed and prepared as possible. Anyway, toward the end of the appointment I mentioned that we were open to adoption as well and my doctor informs me that he and his wife were beginning the adoption process and he then tells me about an informational meeting at the DHS the following week.

So Leo and I went to this meeting with adoption in mind, but when we left we had already started the process to become foster parents! Leo and I saw a great need in the community and we both felt that this was the direction we were intended to go. We left excited about this future step. I never wanted to consider fostering before because the idea sounded so horrible – taking care of a child and then having him/her taken away. But after learning about it, I realize that the goal is to reunite the child with his parents and to provide a loving, stable environment in the meantime. Even if we don’t adopt out of fostering, we are helping children in need. And that’s amazing!

The initial paperwork is underway. We have to take a parenting class this spring and get a few other things taken care of and then we will open up our home to a child. We are starting slowly – only one child between 0 and 4 years old. We can’t wait for things to get rolling! We have been blessed and we want to use those blessings to bless others.




Since my last post about the loss of our baby I have received some news. After the lab work, my doctor informed me that I have the MTHFR gene mutation (and no, that does not stand for motherf****er…it actually stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase if you really wanted to know). My mutation is compound heterozygous (C677T and A1298C mutations are both present), the second most serious type. That basically means I inherited one mutated gene from my mother and a different mutated gene from my father.

What does this mean? Well, I’m definitely no expert, but basically this genetic mutation may inhibit my body from absorbing folate (folic acid, B9, B6, B12 vitamins, which are, of course, essential to a growing fetus). This site has a quick description of MTHFR related to pregnancy, if you’d like more information: http://www.pregnancy-info.net/mthfr.html

How did I have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby with Henry? That’s the main unanswered question now. No one can seem to explain to me why some pregnancies are just fine and why others cannot progress. It’s all very new science and I still have my doubts as to whether this definitely is the cause of my miscarriage, but the gene mutation is definitely there, so that’s all I have to go on now.

My ob/gyn told me to immediately begin taking 4 milligrams of folic acid per day (5 times what’s in the usual prenatal vitamin) and I’ve also added B vitamins to my daily vitamin regime.

What does this mean for us? Not much has changed. It was nice to possibly have some kind of answer and to have some way to take action to prevent future pregnancy loss. Other women with MTHFR I’ve talked with on forums have mixed results after taking the loads of folic acid and getting pregnant again. It just seems very uncertain and I guess that worries me. If I get pregnant again I know I will be on edge until the baby is born.

We’ve looked into adoption quite a bit. It’s discouraging. It’s so expensive and the wait is so long. We’re not sure if that’s the direction we should be going right now or not. All I know is Henry needs a sibling! And quick! 😉 And Leo needs more babies. He deserves more babies. Perhaps that’s not meant to be. Our life is a happy one and we try to focus on that and thank God for that.

Christmas Projects

I did manage to make a few homemade gifts this Christmas. Nothing spectacular, but fun, simple projects. I made two homemade ornaments from an idea from Pinterest. I took a friend’s wedding invitation, cut it into strips and curled them inside a clear ornament. Very simple and very elegant. For one of them I also put some cuttings from my Christmas tree inside to help fill the space. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph them. :/ Court/Lena, if you have a picture of yours, send it my way! Courtney posted some photos of hers:

Rice Heating Pads with Poem



Another project: Bath salts and Heating pads. With the use of some essential oils, I made some fabulous smelling gifts! I found some cute colored glass bottles with cork stoppers at Hobby Lobby for the bath salts and I compiled some recipes from the internet and came up with these:

Soothing Lavender Oatmeal Bath Salts
1 cup of EPSOM SALT
½ cup of SEA SALT
¾ cup of finely pulverized OATMEAL
Muscle Soothing Bath Salts
2 cups of EPSOM SALT
Energizing Bath Salts
1 cup of EPSOM SALT
½ cup of SEA SALT
10 drops MINT OIL

A friend also told me about an easy-to-make infinity scarf and t-shirt flower pin. I made one for my sister and sister-in-laws. I made three turquoise and two reddish/pink. You just dye a men’s 2x tshirt and cut/stretch it! I’ll include the link with instructions. http://rebekahgough.blogspot.com/2011/08/make-something-monday-ombre-infinity.html

Here are a couple of my final creations:

Probably my favorite thing to do this Christmas was making my own wrapping paper! I know it seems silly…to spend so much time and energy on something that will get ripped up and thrown away, but it really was fun! And I made some cute linoleum stamps that I will be able to use forever. I carved out two simple images, one of an elephant and one of a bird. I had a huge role of newsprint paper that Henry uses to draw with and my mom and I both had boxes of printmaking ink and rollers. I used red and green for the elephants and blue and white for the birds. Henry helped me roll out the ink in between stamping. It was actually a break-through moment for us because his “helping” actually helped! So it was a fun project. 

Baby June

It has now been nearly two months since we lost our baby. Although the tears still come at times, the grieving has subsided and I am able to talk about our loss a bit more. The basic story is this: I was 18 weeks pregnant when we were visiting family in Washington, Missouri. I had some light spotting on Monday night, and woke up on Tuesday with some mild cramping and backache. We went to the emergency room where we discovered that our baby had no heartbeat. I was induced and gave birth to our daughter, June, at 1:15AM on Wednesday, August 24th.

That is a stiff, non-emotional rendition of the most difficult and exhausting event of my life. I can’t explain in words the heartbreak Leo and I felt when we were first given the news. Or the rage and sadness I felt when I walked into the labor and delivery room and was faced with the reality that we were never going to bring our baby home. The empty space on the whiteboard next to the “baby’s doctor” bubble letters sent me over the edge. I couldn’t even look at the side of the room with the rocking chair and baby bed. On that bed in a few hours, our nurse would carefully wrap our baby girl before handing her to us to hold for the first and last time.

I was surprised at the intensity of labor. Up until the point of pushing, it was very similar with Henry’s labor. I know I could have taken drugs, but I also knew that I could handle the pain and that I didn’t want to be at all foggy when our baby arrived. I wanted to remember clearly the short moments we had with our child.

We had an amazing nurse named Beth who helped us through every aspect of our situation – from bringing me ice chips and hot pads to grief counseling. She sent us home with a memory box containing June’s receiving blankets and a copy of her tiny footprints. We brought June’s ashes home to Arkansas with us. We placed them under a cherry tree we planted in our garden. I plan on making a sign that reads “For June – our little bird who flew away.”

A few days after the ordeal, Leo wrote this beautiful note. It captures the emotion of the situation so perfectly for me. He designed an image with a dandelion and the words artistically place on the page. It was such a perfect way for Leo to deal with his grief and I appreciated it more than anything. I am glad I have it because as time goes by, the memory of what I was feeling at the time tends to go as well. This note reminds me of what we felt during that time and I never want to forget that feeling because I never want to forget June. So here it is:

8/26/11 – Your little heart began to beat and brought your mama and me unspeakable joy. We were so excited to announce your presence to your family. Your brother Henry would point to you and say “baby!” as you grew inside of his favorite person. Much of your bouncing around inside was due to his antics. Your Babo says your brother is the smartest boy – we knew you’d be very special too. We were excited to learn if you were a girl or boy in a week. You were growing and we were preparing for your birth in January. We had discussed the who, what, and where of your birth and would never have dreamt we had the “when” wrong. Your mama didn’t feel well so we went to the doctor. After the first ultrasound was inconclusive, we prayed to God for a miracle. We weren’t ready to say goodbye – we hadn’t even said hello. After more tests, everyone kept saying they were sorry. I hugged your mama and we cried. We were forced to think about things that hurt our hearts in a way we’d never known. I wished I could take your place. Early the next morning your mama, hungry and tired, labored for a few hours. When it was time for her to push, she hesitated because she didn’t want to let you go. They wrapped your tiny body in a blanket and brought you to us. I held your mama, and your mama held you. We saw your little outstretched arm, five fingers, eyes. I was hesitant at first, but I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything. It was a helpless moment. Nothing could be done, but grieve the loss of our baby girl.  Our future had been abruptly altered. I envisioned holding you and hearing your first cry, your mama dressing you up, your brother teaching you how to play…. you would have loved Nana’s toy pile. We have to believe you’re in God’s hands and hope to see you again someday. We’re taking you back home with us – in our hearts and in a tiny box. We’ll plant a tree with your ashes and always remember our little baby June.


Now, two months later, I feel like we are healing and moving ahead with our lives. We still envision a large family and we are open to how that will happen. I am working with my OB/GYN and trying to find some possible reason why we might have lost our baby this late in the pregnancy. I am tired of hearing “these things just happen”. At first I WANTED to believe that it was just a random thing. It gave me comfort to think that I can get pregnant again and have a healthy baby no problem. But after researching, I’ve discovered that the possibility of it being a “simply” explained chromosomal abnormality is less than 5% (because of my age -under 30- and the late stage of the pregnancy). They are testing my blood right now and looking for the possibility of a blood clotting disorder (which seems like one of the more likely culprits). So we shall see. Leo and I are also exploring the idea of adoption. We’ve considered it for a couple years now and we are finally seriously looking into it. If anyone has any insight, feel free to share! If it comes down to spending thousands of dollars on tests or fertility treatments, we will definitely put that money toward adoption instead.

So, that’s where we are right now. That’s our story, our situation. Leo has been quite busy with work and I have been quite busy with our two-year-old fiddler, so we are thankful for distractions and for the other blessings in our life. Henry is amazing and this has made me appreciate him more than ever.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and supported us during this experience.

A new adventure

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well, I’ve done this whole pregnancy thing before, but second time around it is completely different! I reacted differently when I learned about my pregnancy this time. The first time I was literally shaking with excitement and fear! This time, I’m happy, but calm. I was never sick when I was pregnant with Henry (aside from car sickness and not having room for food toward the end). Lesson learned this morning: Don’t drink orange juice and take vitamins on an empty stomach. I realized this as I was hunched over the commode while Henry was in his highchair demanding his malt-o-meal (one of his few words that is quite discernible). I also remember not being able to think about anything else but the fact that I was pregnant for at least the first several weeks. This time, I go days in a row completely forgetting I’m pregnant. I suppose having Henry to “entertain” me is probably the reason. Not to mention, we are packing up all our belongings because we’re moving into our own house in a week or two!

So, here it goes! A new adventure for the Kempf family.

Natural Birth

Just came across this paragraph in Ina May’s new book. This is a nice summary of why I choose natural birth. Basically one medical intervention often leads to another which leads to another, etc.

“…so the epidural began to be used routinely in most hospitals. The epidural, especially when given early in labor, tends to increase the length of labor. For this reason, it became common to augment the strength and pace of contractions with intravenous synthetic oxytocin (such as Pitocin). The synthetic oxytocin causes severe contractions that can sometimes reduce blood flow to the baby for longer than natural contractions would. The problem introduced by this practice produced, once again, an increase in the number of cases of fetal distress leading to a C-section.”

-From “Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta” By Ina May Gaskin

The Belt

So, I am laughing at myself as I write this because I haven’t written in so long and now I’m writing about something completely stupid, but I’m so excited about it!

I’ve discovered that one simple tan belt (that was given to me by my husband’s grandmother when my pants were falling down over a year ago) has revolutionized my entire wardrobe! I just pulled out piles of old shirts I haven’t worn in ages because I felt they were unflattering/out of style, but once I put that magical belt on over them with some long, skinny shorts, voila! So, that’s it. I’m just excited and I know Leo would just laugh at me if I explained my discovery to him (not to say you’re not laughing at me too, but at least I don’t know about it).