Monday, August 31, 2009

Blogiversary and Almost 11 Months

Last Monday was my blogiversary - one year of blogging. I can hardly begin to sum up what blogging has done for me the past year. The most important part by far has been the friendships I've developed through blogging with other baby loss moms. Knowing I wasn't alone in my grief when Felicity died was what I needed most.

I think the initial feeling for most moms after they lose a child is the feeling that no one else knows what it feels like. And while my husband was a constant during my grief, my emotions differed greatly from his, in that I'm female, Felicity's mom, and she died inside of me. I needed to talk to other moms who understood what that felt like.

Sunday will mark 11 months since Felicity died. I know I've said this before, but in many ways it feels like an eternity since she was inside me. But as I feel Caleb moving around inside me even more each day, it seems like only yesterday that I was feeling Felicity. And then I think of Jeremiah and the fact that I never got to feel his movement. Had he lived, he'd be due to be born in about 5 weeks.

It's hard to really grasp how I feel some days. Some days feel completely normal again, but then when I think of it that way, grief pops its head back up and I miss my babies terribly. I'm finding great hope in anticipating Caleb's arrival and the thought of having MY warm, cuddly baby in my arms. I dreamt he was born last night and when I woke, I could hardly stand the thought of having to wait 5 months more. I have never dreamt about Felicity or Jeremiah, so I found great comfort in this dream.

I still find myself afraid to hope at times too. I told my mom the other day that I'm really trying to treasure this pregnancy, as hard as it is at time, because I don't know if I'll ever have another baby. With my other pregnancies, I just figured it was another uncomfortable time to get through and this time, I'm trying to memorize everything, because I don't know what the future holds.

I've been sick the last 4 days and finally starting to feel better, thank goodness. But being down physically hasn't helped my emotions. Not to mention Ethan's dad and stepmom are taking him this w/e (he hasn't seen them since Feb.) and we're hoping to have a garage sale on Saturday. Throw in my doctor's appointment on Friday afternoon and homeschool co-op starting Friday a.m. and I'm pretty stressed. And for me stress usually equates to crazy emotions so it should be an interesting week. (Pray for my husband!)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Elijah!

My baby is three today - where did the time go?

He was born in a wonderfully peaceful (other than the loud vocalization on my part) homebirth/waterbirth at Gramma and Papa's house (the house I grew up in). We didn't have room for the birth tub to be set up in our apartment for however long it took for labor to start.

He arrived 5 days early, which I predicted and my labor lasted a mere 4 hours and 19 minutes compared to the 21 hour back labor I had with Ethan in the hospital. Two of those four hours, I wasn't even sure I was in active labor. I was an amazing experience. My first natural birth. I could feel his big (9lbs., 3 oz.) body moving down with each contraction.
We were surrounded by people we loved and cared about. Paul was in the birth tub with me (at my insistence) and my mom was watching nearby. My dad was also home when Elijah entered the world. We were also supported by our midwife, her assistant, and our Bradley Childbirth instructor, whom we had invited to the event. Ethan was happily upstairs playing with Aunt Cathy, but came downstairs to inspect his new brother, whom he was convinced was going to be a sister. We'll never forget what he said after being told repeatedly that he had a brother, not a sister. "Well, I wanna see how big his penis is!"
When Elijah entered the world and was placed on my chest, Paul was the one to announce, "It's a boy!" Noth long after his birth, I was nestled in a comfortable bed, nursing my precious boy, while everyone else happily consumed pizza.
It was a day (evening) we will never forget.

An hour or two old!

5 days old

2.5 weeks old

4 months old

6 months old

8-9 months old

Happy birthday sweet boy! Thanks for all the laughs and cuddles - you will always be my baby!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick Update

This afternoon we had Caleb's first MCA scan (MCA stands for Middle Cerebral Artery). All looks good this week and they checked pretty much everything else too. Thanks for your prayers! Caleb's waving to all you faithful prayers warriors out there! I've got a miserable cold so I'm not much in the mood for blogging tonight. Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Firstborn

I finally found those pictures I scannned for Ethan's 7th bday and thought I'd post them.
6 days old

Almost 5 weeks old

4 months old

6 months old

1 year old

2 years old

2.5 years old, I think.

3 years old

5 years old (yes, I have pictures of his 4th year of life but somehow forgot to scan any.)

6 years old

7 years old

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good News

Thanks for all your kind words and prayers for Caleb and our family! I was so blessed reading your comments from my last post.

What a week so far! I don't know if it's pregnancy or stress, but I've been absolutely exhausted this week. Thankfully I'm sleeping soundly at night other than bizarre dreams (definitely pregnancy related!) and multiple trips to the bathroom.

After a few days of processing what may lie ahead for us, Paul heard back from the genetics counselor that Caleb's chromosomal study came back normal! Praise God!

Paul was able to talk to her and ask some questions we were hoping to have answered on the 28th. He found out that if Caleb does need a blood transfusion before birth, it would be scheduled within a week, rather than having to go to the hospital immediately. It would also only take about 2-3 hours, though the actual transfusion only last 15 minutes or so. That was a relief to hear!

My mom also found a group online of moms dealing with similar antibody issues that I was able to join. I learned a lot while reading their entries last night and sending messages to them. Most everything I learned was positive. Only one mom had lost a baby, but that was due to an undiagnosed antibody issue. Many of the moms had had multiple transfusions but never any major concerns. The biggest issue seemed to be care for baby after birth. The anemia can cause severe jaundice (which if not treated can go to baby's brain), so many of the babies were in NICUs or under bilirubin lights for multiple days.


On a lighter note, I have to share some funny sayings from my almost three year old (where has the time gone?!)

Ever since Elijah was a nursling, he has been very attached to a mole on my arm. He used to touch it while he was nursing and since he's been weaned, he's been even more attached to it. He always wants to sit on "da mole side" of me and throughout the day will come over to me to cuddle and touch the mole. It's weird, I know, but Ethan did it too! The other night I was in bed already (did I mentioned I've been exhausted?) while Paul was getting the boys ready for bed. Elijah came into the room and crawled up on the bed to say goodnight to me. He smiled at me and said, "Daddy likes to sleep right next to you, he can reach out and touch the mole!" (And for the record, Paul is not attached to the mole!)

Yesterday we went to a friend's house to play. She has two boys - a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old. Her littlest is sooo cute and just a "little peanut," which is what I kept calling him. Later when we were home and eating lunch, Elijah was talking about playing with the two boys. He said, "I know where dat (that) big boy's bed is, but I don't know where dat little peanut beeps (sleeps)."

Out of the mouth of babes!


Monday, August 17, 2009

THE Test Results!

I'm sitting here on the couch in a state of shock. I just got THE CALL! They were actually supposed to call Paul at work and tell him the results, but they called our home number instead.

The chromosomal study is NOT back yet, but the antigen test is.

Caleb has the little c antigen.

Even though I had thought out this possibility a million times already, it still didn't prepare me for the way I feel hearing that it's actually happening.

I called Paul immediately after I got the phone call and left a voicemail for him. So, he doesn't even know yet. (I won't be posting this until later, but I had to write it out now. It's that or become a crying mess though that seems a likely scenario regardless.)

So now I'm scheduled for weekly ultrasounds starting on Aug. 28th. I'll be 18 weeks then, which is when anemia can start affecting the baby. They scheduled me every Friday afternoon for about a month out and then she said after that they may want to see me more often.

I'll repeat what I've already said about these ultrasounds for those who may not be familiar with what's going on. They will be checking blood flow in an artery in Caleb's brain as well as in the umbilical cord to see how quickly the blood is flowing. A baby who develops anemia (which is the concern with having this antigen) will have to work much harder to pump blood to the brain.

We were told that if Caleb has the antigen he has a 65% chance of developing anemia. And the little c antigen can cause a more severe case of Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus or Newborn (HDFN) than other antigens.

If he develops anemia they will want to take blood from his umbilical cord (which involves sedating him) to test his hemoglobin (iron). If that's low then we're looking at blood transfusions (which requires hospitalization from my understanding). Both procedures have risks involved. There's also the chance we will have to induce early if he gets too sick. I'm very scared!

The boys and I picked out an outfit for Caleb the other day. I was excited to be able to do it because with my last two babies we didn't know until birth what we were having, so all purchases done ahead of time were in greens and yellows. This time we were able to pick out something distinctly for a boy. Hopefully we won't need to buy much for him due to all the hand-me-downs from the boys, but it will depend on how big (or little) he is since he'll be our first winter baby. While excited to pick an outfit out, I was also scared to buy something this early. But I been thinking a lot about what my friend Heidi told me about trusting God and "preparing for rain" and not just praying for it. (If you haven't seen "Facing the Giants" you need to!)

Scared yet hopeful, we will continue to pray and prepare for blessings! Please pray with us!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

All is Well

We haven't had internet access since Wednesday. I was busy pounding out a long post and finally realized that blogger kept trying to save it unsuccessfully.

We think (and by we, I mean Paul, because I totally don't understand the workings of computers) that the modem died. Fortunately we came down to the cities today and I'm happily typing away at my mom's after checking my email (73 messages!) and facebook.

It's been a trying few days without email.

I'm surviving though, I admit.

I have no plans to make this a long post. I still have all of your blogs to catch up on, but I wanted to tell you all is well with Caleb. No issues after the amnio other than cramping. We bought a doppler to use at home so when I start to worry I can check and hear his little heart beating away. If you haven't ever lost a baby, just realize that no pregnancy is the same after a baby dies inside of you. I'm hoping we'll hear the results of the chromosomal study on Monday or Tuesday.

Now it's time to eat some lunch.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blessed Beyond Measure

Seeing your baby on an ultrasound is amazing! There is nothing like it, other than holding that baby in your arms. Here's how yesterday went. We have to travel about 45 miles to get to the University of MN Hospital where I'm being seen by Maternal Fetal Medicine. Whenever we head to the cities, I usually try to get several things done while were there and yesterday was no different. Thankfully we headed down early because at about 10:45 (my appt. wasn't until 1:30), I got a phone call from the genetic counselor we were going to be meeting with.

She apologized for calling so last minute, but was wondering if we could come in by 12pm instead. They were hoping to test Paul's blood to see if his chromosomes carried 2 little c antigens or one little c and one big C (confusing, I know). Anyway, if they could determine that he has two little c antigens then we would know for sure that baby #5 has the antigen and the amniocentesis wouldn't be necessary. If though, he had one big C and one little c then the baby would have a 50% chance of having the little c antigen and we would still need to do the amnio.

Not having an amnio certainly appealed to me as I was (and am) very concerned about the risk of miscarriage, though it's a very small risk (less than 1%). But not having the amnio would also mean that this baby is at great risk for developing Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus or Newborn (HDFN) because of having the antigen. So Paul left work and picked me up and we rushed down to the hospital.

They took Paul's blood and then we met with Cherie, the genetic counselor. We had to go over about 4 generations of family members to determine any risks that this baby might face. (With the way our government and health care are going, it felt a little like genetic profiling.) After that was done and Cherie shared more details with us, we rushed off to grab a quick bite to eat.

When we returned the results for Paul's blood work were back. He has one little c antigen and one big C which means the baby and every baby in the future has a 50% of getting the little c antigen. Then we waited a long time to get in for the ultrasound. They do an u/s before (and during) an amnio to determine good pockets of fluid and to see how baby is doing. It was the most detailed u/s I've ever had with a pregnancy. And like I said earlier, it was amazing to see our baby!

After the ultrasound, the perinatologist came in to do "the procedure." They no longer do a local anesthetic, which was little frightening. The doctor told me I'd feel "a pinch and then cramping." I'd say that was a fairly accurate description of the way it felt, though the cramping was pretty intense. Not to mention I was tipped back so my feet were higher than my head, so my legs got all numb. The whole thing lasted (in my estimation) about 60-90 seconds. Afterwards they checked the baby's heart rate again on the u/s. Then I had to go down to the lab for a blood draw so they can confirm that the cells in the amniotic fluid are the baby's, not mine.

We opted to do the chromosomal study as well as the antigen test. That way if anything is detected in a later u/s during the pregnancy, they will have the chromosomal study to compare it to, rather than having to go through another amnio later on. The doctor did see something in the u/s that was slightly concerning and that was the measurement of the baby's arm and leg bones. She said that were a little shorter than normal and that could be an indication for Downs Syndrome.

It was a little scary hearing that. We would love a child who has Down's Syndrome like any other baby that God gives us, but our concern is how a baby who has Down's would be able to handle HDFN if he/she has the antigen. We will find out the results of the chromosomal study in 8-10 days. We will have to wait 2-3 weeks for the results of the antigen test. If baby has the antigen I will have to go down to the University Hospital every week starting at 18 weeks for weekly ultrasounds.

After 4 hours, we were finally done. It was a long afternoon, but Praise God it went well. I'm feeling pretty good today, some cramping but no spotting. They told me to take it easy for 24 hours.

Oh, and did I mention we found out whether baby #5 is a boy or girl? We did!

This is our son, Caleb! We are so blessed! Caleb was the name we had picked out for Felicity, had she been a boy. At first I wasn't so sure about using that name for this baby, but this baby most likely wouldn't be here if Felicity had lived, so they definitely have a connection to each other. The name Caleb means "faithful" or "brave." Both these adjectives are fitting for our son and our God!

Thank you so much for your prayers! You are a blessing to us and to Caleb!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Busy and Blessed

We've been busy the past week. The boys just returned yesterday from a long weekend at my parents. We're glad to have them back. Life is so different when they're not here. We did enjoy sleeping in though while they were gone. It's funny how sleeping in until 7:30 is such a luxury after you have kids.

While they were gone, we (okay, mostly Paul) stained the deck. This top picture was taken after Paul spent 3+ hours power washing it and it actually looks pretty good.

Here it is finished minus the rails and prior to lots of rain we received over the weekend. It looks way better than it did to begin with, though we both agree it's a job we don't want to do again for a LONG time.
We're blessed to be picking lots of veggies from the garden! If you've never eaten a carrot straight from the garden (after washing the dirt off of course), you have no idea what a carrot tastes like. They are unbelievable!

Finally one of my flowers bloomed. I opted this year to plant seed instead of spending money and buying flowers to plant. Thus it's taken a long time to see the first blossom. I specifically picked out a pink variety in honor of Felicity. And lastly, I'm blessed that the bread I left raising for OVER TWO HOURS while Ethan and I started school today, seems to have still turned out. Ethan volunteered to be the official tester in a few minutes.

ON A SIDE NOTE - tomorrow is the 10 month anniversary of Felicity's death. I can't believe so much time has passed. I've been wavering between handling it fine and wanting to fall to pieces. Busyness has kept me from doing the latter, so far. AND FINALLY, Friday is my amniocentesis at 1:30 CST. I am doing okay with it though I'm not thrilled about the whole needle in my stomach part. I know God is working in our lives, regardless of the results of the amnio, but would sure appreciate your prayers especially in regard to protecting the baby from infection or miscarriage afterwards.

LATER TODAY (after having a very emotional evening) I STARTED TO FEEL THE BABY MOVING! PRAISE GOD!