Small Yet Mighty

Settle in loves, this is a long one.  Lots on my heart today…

Some of you know that I am a dreamer.  Not the visionary kind, but the deep sleep kind of dreamer that has real, memorable dreams almost every night.  Sometimes they shake me to my very core with vividness and my emotion after the fact is as real as life itself.

My most recent dream was a strange one.  I was with Chris and we were at the home I grew up in – I dream often of that house.  No one else was there, not even Cooper and I did not have a baby girl in my belly or my arms.  It was day time but pitch black outside.  All of a sudden, in true Oklahoma fashion of late, the house shook a bit.  Not too much, just enough for us to notice we had a small earthquake.  But then, only about a minute later, it happened again – it shook with more force.  Still, we didn’t panic.  That is, until it happened a third, fourth and fifth time and with each one came more force and fury.  Sound like contractions?  Keep reading… 

After about 20 quakes and shakes, a gush of water rushed into the house…ah, there it is.  Really?  Did the Earth’s water break after the series of contractions?

The ground beneath us continued to shiver and with each one, the water level rose higher and higher.  It wasn’t long before we were swimming and sailed right out the front door into what seemed like an empty abyss.  If you have seen the Hunger Games, this next part could probably take place in the dreaded arena.

As we swim to stay afloat in the “Quake Sea”, a giant…no ginormous square building drops down right in front of us.  A door, similar to a garage door, opens and we all but pour into the building.  Amazingly, no water entered.  Once inside, we were directed to a lifeboat that would literally give us life, or so we were told.  

I get fuzzy after that, I recall Cooper being with us in the boat at some point.  I also remember we prayed together that if the world was coming to an end, that Cooper would not suffer in any way.

Then I woke up.  Apparently I have all things birth and labor on my mind.  In a legit sweat, I woke Chris to share.  Sorry love, for better or worse, my dreams are your dreams – even at 3am!

I wanted to share a few special things with you.  In this situation, we don’t have a lot of “stuff” for Audrey but we have some important items that I thought you might like to see.  This curation, if you will, of Audrey’s collection started with one book.  It is appropriately named, Audrey Bunny.  It was a gift from my friend Annie early on when we had just learned about Audrey’s health.  Little did Annie know that this book would become a light in my world.  Written by a mom and blogger, Angie Smith, it tells the story of a soft, cozy stuffed bunny who had an imperfection over her heart.  She knew she might never be chosen by a child, but one day a girl picked her up and knew she had to have her…imperfectly perfect.  Angie Smith wrote this book based on her own daughter, Audrey.  They learned at 20 weeks that their daughter would not live outside of the womb due to polycystic kidneys and an enlarged heart.  Her blog has been such an inspiration to me during this time.  The similarities in our two pregnancies – emotional and physical alike – are uncanny.  And the fact that her baby’s name was AUDREY?  Wow.  I plan to take the book to the hospital, hoping it can be like a keepsake book where family and friends can jot a note down to Audrey.

We have the book, but now we also have an actual Audrey bunny.  She is an absolute treat to hold. Incredibly soft and oh-so-huggable.  My parents got her for Audrey.  Cooper loves…LOVES Audrey bunny.  Sometimes he asks if Audrey bunny can be his “cozy” at bedtime.  Of course we let him.  My mom did the most amazing thing and got a big brother Cooper bunny.  It is the same bunny except a little bigger and a bit different color.  He now sleeps with him every night.

No matter how big or small, no matter how long she lives – we want to memorize her little body.  We purchased two of these Pear Tree tins that allow you to easily, with no mess, make a putty to get lasting impressions of baby’s hands and feet.  She’ll likely be small enough to do both feet in one and both hands in the other.  What a treasure!

The blanket is a muslin Aiden + Anais one.  Fellow mamas, can I get an AMEN?  These are the best blankets and we’ll want something special to wrap our girl in.

And finally, a gown fit for an angel.  This is the most perfect pink I think I have ever seen.  And I’m not much of a pink kind of girl.  This Kickee Pants gown is made from bamboo material that is wonderfully soft.  It is preemie sized and so tiny.  My friend, Krystal, graciously embroidered her initials on the chest, her full name is Audrey Claire Leslie.  I love the subtlety of the off-white thread and the details of the beautiful font.  This gown will be treasured forever.  Oh, and of course any daughter of mine would have a little matching bow.

This is her collection…



Between all the normal moments in life, I experience deep, thoughtful and emotional moments about life.  This is true for most people, I presume.  I think a little differently than I used to.  I feel a little differently.  With intention.  There are some families we know that are in the middle of their own hard time, harder than I can begin to comprehend.  I ache for these families and empathize in the best way I know how.

I’m eternally grateful for the full and blessed life I have lived.  Each of you play a role in that.  Including you, baby Audrey.  I don’t think I truly, fully…deeply appreciated how good my life has been until the day I learned that our daughter might not have the opportunity to live a similar one.  She has taught Chris and I so much about ourselves, about each other and about life.  For that, I am grateful.  She may be small, teeny in fact, but her presence is mighty.  She was created for a purpose and I believe the Lord has put her in all of our lives to change us in some way.  For each of us, it will be different, but I believe it will matter and isn’t an accident.

I also know some families who are in the middle of an incredibly wonderful time in their lives.  Awaiting healthy babies, excelling at work, witnessing the miracle of medicine and its healing powers, meeting personal goals, buying new homes and so much more.  What a joy it is to celebrate these beautiful moments in life.  Sure, life can be hard sometimes…but we can all agree that it can be really, REALLY good.

If I have been slow to respond or failed to completely over the past week, I ask for your forgiveness.  I haven’t quite felt like myself.  I’ve been dealing with some significant pain that was initially treated as a bladder infection, but ultimately it seems the stents in my ureters are the culprit.  Yesterday and today I have taken it easy and have been doing better, much more tolerable but really ready to get them removed!

Audrey is 33 weeks and 2 days old today.  I had my appointment this morning.  It started out with a Non-Stress Test, this basically monitors the baby’s heart rate and picks up any contractions.  The findings were normal and she did not appear to be in distress, thankfully.  I had an ultrasound with the sonographer to measure Audrey, but she also took a look at my kidneys and found that I do have fluid still on my right side.  The ureters are designed to drain the kidneys, but Dr. Stanley said perhaps even with the stent, the ureter is still blocked a just bit to slow the drain of fluid.  Ouch!

Audrey gained 3oz. since last week.  I thought for sure she surpassed the 3lb. mark, but not quite…2lbs. 14oz., close baby girl!  For reference, average babies weigh about 4lbs. 4 oz. by now.  From what she saw, Audrey’s abdominal circumference (the measurement as if she had a belt around her waist) is still not growing, but no answers on why.  But we know that this asymmetrical growth restriction is more concerning.

Dr. Stanley reviewed her biophysical profile with a visiting OB resident.  Bless her heart, I watched and listened to him explain Audrey’s conditions to her and as much as she tried, her face couldn’t hide her sadness.  I see it as a learning opportunity for this young doctor.  A chance to see a situation that is rare and grow from it.  Audrey is still breech, and her head is right under my right ribs, so it was easy to get clear images of her brain.  Dr. Stanley feels that the malformation in the cerebellum (Dandy Walker) is larger since last week.  Argh…but they still do not believe she has hydrocephalus at this point in time. 

The date of delivery is still not official, at the latest we will know tomorrow afternoon – I will keep you posted.  We’ll also have our meeting with the neonatologist set by then.

My next appointment is next Tuesday at 9:00am. 

Love and hugs to each of you.


8 thoughts on “Small Yet Mighty

  1. Thanks for sharing your very personal but beautiful thoughts dear one!! This experience as seen through your eyes helps us grow too! Bless you all and please continue to keep us informed!

  2. Your words are incredible, Rachel. Your ability to express so many feelings and moments with such grace and eloquence is inspiring. We are holding you close in thoughts and prayers. May you feel lifted up, knowing that God hears each and every thought and prayer. Love and big hugs to you all. xo

  3. Rachel, precious one. I think of you and pray for you, Chris, Cooper, Audrey and your entire family every day. You are a courageous, wise, inspirational woman.

    I know the book of which you wrote today, but it’s been a while since I have read it. I am going to get it and treasure it along with you.

    Blessings. Cathy

  4. Dearest Rachel & Chris,

    If only I could somehow take this burden from you, carry it for you, or release you from it, I would gladly bear it for you in the blink of an eye. Our precious Audrey of course is not the “burden” I speak of, but the emotional pain that exists because of her very serious problems.
    If only we could pray hard enough for a miracle to heal her….If only we could fix what is broken…. If only we could heal her with love…. If only we could give everything we have to bring healing…..If only we knew God’s plan & purpose……He has a plan & a purpose……we wait, not so patiently to see what & how He reveals more of Himself to you, to all of us, who love you SO much, & trust Him to hold you up & be your source of strength.

    You both have shown great courage, which I so admire. I’ve watched you choose to be brave, & have witnessed growth & maturity in yourselves, your relationship with one another, & most importantly with our Heavenly Father, His Son, & Holy Spirit.

    May His Spirit continue to be comfort, to bring peace, to settle your spirit when you most need it. I know He sees every tear you shed, & the depth of pain in you heart….I know He has His angels watching over both of you, over Cooper & Audrey…..

    Ephesians 3:20-21
    From my heart to yours, I’ll love you all,
    Always & Forever,
    Mom, Renee, Nay-Nay

    • As gifted as you are in your graphic design, it is evident to all who are following your blog that your literary gift may by your greatest talent. I am captured by the power of your message and awed by your ability to communicate things felt so deeply. Perhaps others who have gone through, are going through, or will go through serious pregnancy complications will somehow find their way to your words. We connect deepest through our pain.

      Sometimes….like last night, I feel like Lieutenant Dan in the crow’s nest of a fishing boat in a hurricane arguing with God , other times I seem to, as Forrest put it: “I think he made his peace with God”.

      We are anxious to meet the newest member of the family and remain amazed at her strength to have made it this far against tough odds. She IS a fighter to be sure. Hang on tiny dancer! PawPaw and NayNay are waiting to meet you! We love you.

  5. Mark and Renee, I appreciate your loving messages and agree that, Rachel, your writing is phenomenal. Your words capture the experiences and the heartfelt emotions. As your dad said, many beloved ones will be inspired by your words. I am.
    With love, Cathy

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