Her Birth Day

The pit in my stomach is enormous.  The butterflies are many.  As our daughter’s birth day arrives, so does a new chapter in the story of our lives.

I describe the feeling as knowing the speech will take place, but no script has been written.  Or that the recital is in a matter of hours but we don’t know the steps to the dance.  Ready or not, her time has come.

This holiday weekend has been perfect.  Full of memories doing perfectly simple things that felt extraordinary.  We poured as much as we could into Cooper.  My goodness, how thankful we are for him and his health.  We’ve done just about everything we possibly can to help prepare this little boy, but it won’t be enough.  He’ll have to take it all in stride like the rest of us.

Audrey dances away with each word that I type.  I still feel her head under my ribcage, breech baby.

So many of you will be there, awaiting Audrey’s arrival.  Thank you in advance.  Whether or not we see you, we will feel your presence.  We will know your love.  It has been evident all along.

To Chris, you have been my rock.  Strong and steady.  Yet your heart is soft.  You, the father of my children, are an incredible man.  You give and give so much of yourself.  You love me wholly, you love Cooper and Audrey deeply.  Never do you waiver, your love is not conditional.  We, your little family, adore you.  Appreciate you.  Need you.  Love you.  Together, we can do this and we will.  I love you.

To Cooper, you are a big brother!  No matter what happens, Audrey will always be your little sister.  You have talked about her for months and your excitement about her, captured on video, is a memory we’ll cherish forever.  I had a different picture for you two and your future.  While I don’t know what it looks like, I know it isn’t quite what I had in mind.  But buddy, remember, we are not in control.  Remember to trust in the One who created us.  Know that this is an opportunity for each of us to grow and be better.  We love you with our whole hearts – you are ours.

To our parents, it isn’t possible to adequately describe just how deep our gratitude runs.  We could not have made it through these months without you.  You’ve given us time together by having Cooper on many occasions.  We are grateful he has four grandparents who care for him so much and with such intention.  Thank you for loving Audrey through her fight in my belly.  If your grand-daughter could say it herself, I know she would say she knows you and your voices already.  She knows your love.  Because all the words in the dictionary won’t come close to saying it well enough, I’ll simply say…thank you.  Thank you for walking alongside us, for trusting and being faithful with us.

To our families, as your niece, cousin, great-granddaughter, etc. makes her way into the world, we know that so many of you will be only footsteps away.  Even if you cannot be there in person, you will be in spirit.  Thank you.  We have amazing families.  What a blessing you are in our lives.  The family tree grows by one.  She has a piece of each of you that makes her the little angel she is.  We love you.

To our friends…you feel like family.  The meals, prayers, soccer games, driveway cookouts, coffee dates, watch parties and birthday celebrations that we have shared over these past few months only deepened the strong bond we already shared.  You’ve showed up with groceries, sent gift cards, dropped of a pick-me-up gift, sent cards and so much more.  You’ve gone above and beyond to be there for us.  Love to each of you.

We’ve committed to asking for and/or accepting help.  We have no idea what we will need this week, next week or next year, but thank you in advance.

I have asked Carrie Webber to help us keep you all informed.  She will graciously post a few updates here on the blog with any news we can get to her.  She is and will continue to be close to this and will be a wonderful resource.

There are so many things I want to say.  So many.  Why can’t I seem to grab them as they swirl around in my brain?  I’m overwhelmed.  May 27, 2014…a new journey begins.

Stay tuned for updates, and if I haven’t said so before, please do share this blog with anyone who you feel would be interested or would be willing to send up an extra prayer for our girl.

Love and hugs, R

Will She or Won’t She?

Hello loves,

I start this update to you as I watch Cooper and Chris play outside across the pond behind our home.  What a lucky girl I am to be blessed with these boys.  Cooper adores his daddy – he looks up to him in every way.  I love watching him watch Chris, soaking him in, copying him.

We had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Krause, the neonatologist, yesterday evening.  We’ve had a full day to digest the experience, to chew on and swallow the words she said.  While they may not go down easily, hearing what she had to say was important.

She is a lovely person.  Direct and informative, yet gentle and compassionate.  We are grateful for the time she spent with us when we know how utterly valuable her time is.  She truly cares for and provides medical treatment for the smallest humans, yet some of the strongest fighters.  She came across neither grim nor hopeful but…real.

First, she took a few moments to ensure we understood each area of concern with Audrey’s health.  An attempt to start with the basics.  While it was a bit redundant, as we have spent hours and hours researching, we appreciate her attention to detail.  She admitted she hasn’t seen Audrey’s chart or anything regarding her case, such as sonograms.  However, from a conversation with Dr. Stanley, she seemed to have a basic understanding of the possibilities as Audrey makes her debut.

She was not able to give us a prediction on a possible outcome, but gave us several scenarios to be aware of and prepared for.  She mostly spoke of situations in the case Audrey can be stabilized.  The delivery is scheduled for noon, however, she suspects it will be closer to 1pm.  We have now heard this from the OB himself, along with the NICU doc…I trust them.  The hope is that before the C-Section takes place, a urologist would remove my stents.  Then they can begin.  From what I understand it can and typically does happen quite fast.  All of a sudden, she’s out.  They cut that cord.  Disconnect us and evaluate her.  Dr. Krause hopes that they can give me a glimpse of her before she is whisked away with Chris and they all go quickly to the NICU.  She suspects that the first things to happen would be to place a breathing tube, as well as starting a central line.  Hers would be through her belly button.  Both of these must be done in a sterile area, so Chris won’t be able to actually see it take place.  Probably good, that would be hard to watch.  She let us know that as long as Audrey would need a central line, she cannot be picked up or held.  Oh sweet girl, wouldn’t she need to be held and comforted so she doesn’t’ feel alone?  While they do this, I will be stitched back together and wheeled to my room.  She told me to prepare for the fact that most likely that it would be at least 6, potentially 12 hours before I would have the opportunity to see Audrey.  A hard afternoon it will be on Tuesday.  I am so thankful that Chris would get to be with her so she knows she isn’t alone, but has her daddy.

She reminded us that there is a chance she could have to have an emergency surgery, which would have to take place at OU Children’s, thus she would be transported and I, of course, would not be able to go.  We have known this all along, but Dr. Stanley suggests that it just isn’t likely.  There is a strong chance that she would need to be placed on a drug called Prostaglandin E1 , this drug would prevent the ductus arteriosus from closing and reestablish ductal patency if closure has already occurred.  This allows her to be a candidate for heart surgery if and when she would grow and be healthy enough for it.  Sometimes the surgery is done around 3 months, other times as late as 6 months of age.  From what she told us, Audrey would have to be on the medication until surgery could take place.  Unfortunately, the medication can only be provided intravenously thus requiring her to stay in the hospital the entire time she needs it.

She said to prepare for being discharged on Friday.  How do you go home and sleep in your own bed with your teeny, sick baby alone 10 miles away?  Will she make it to Friday?  Will she not?  

Dr. Krause assured us that medical care and decisions for and about Audrey would be a continuous and fluid conversation.  She would be the one to coordinate which specialists may need to evaluate Audrey and when.  She said Audrey may not be a preemie, but due to her small size and condition, she may act like one, lethargic, cyanotic spells, etc.  The best thing for these small and ill babies is mother’s milk.  She highly recommended that I pump to provide whatever possible if and when she is ready for it.  It is good for mamas to feel needed and to have a sense of purpose in situations like these.  Of course I would take her advice should I have the opportunity.

I am certain there are other details I haven’t mentioned but these are the highlights.  She reiterated that until Audrey is actually out, Dr. Krause simply cannot know what they are up against or give us an idea of her outcome…her life.

By now, the sky is dark.  The house is quiet.  Cooper sleeps.  Audrey kicks.  Another day well spent.

Goodnight all, much love to each of you.  I’ll write again soon…

Words Are Not Enough

I’m not sure it is possible to express just how deep our gratitude runs for each of you.  How would we have made it through the last several months without your outpouring of unconditional love and support.

So many of you have called, written, brought food, helped with Cooper, celebrated birthdays, prayed, and loved us through this.  As we soak in the moments of this last week before Audrey is born, it is important for you to know what an incredible role you play in our lives.  We have been overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.  Chris and I pray that life brings you only joy and happiness, but we know the reality is we will all continue to have bumps in the road.  You show us compassion and grace while reminding us what is means to really care.  We have grown and will be better because of you.

Mostly I feel ready for next Tuesday.  Ready for what?  Not sure.  Just ready.  Will it be a beginning or an end?

I suppose, in some ways, both.  It will mark the end of this pregnancy, the end of Audrey’s life inside my belly and the beginning of whatever life will be for her on the outside…whatever life will be for us, for Cooper…and for you, our dear family and friends.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to undervalue what you have.  I look back to when I was about five and all I wanted to do was play house, dance and beg to have my ears pierced.  Then, around 13, when it wasn’t as socially acceptable to play house, I babysat for family and friends who graciously trusted me with their children.  Babysitting brought me such joy, I couldn’t wait to be a mama myself…like really couldn’t wait!  Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be older.  “I can’t wait until I can walk to school…I can’t wait until I’m an actual teenager…I can’t wait to drive…I can’t wait to graduate…I can’t wait to get married…I can’t wait to be THIRTY!”  Why did I do that?  Why did I seem to wish my life away when it was so wonderful at each stage?  If I could have one wish, I would go back and tell that girl to enjoy the moments…to enjoy the simplicity.

I read a quote this week by Frank A. Clark that read, “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”  We hire photographers for weddings but rarely do they photograph funerals.  We capture the smiles and the laughs yet the furrowed brows and teary eyes aren’t usually framed over the mantle.  But, sometimes, those hard and wildly painful experiences teach us more about life than the seemingly perfect ones.  It is easy to be thankful for the happy moments…how often do we feel grateful for the hard ones?  It takes effort, intention and lots of humility.

We’ve started asking Cooper at the end of the day, “Were you able to help anyone today?” and “What did someone do that was nice for you today?”  His responses are exactly what you would expect at 3 1/2…”I didn’t poop in my pants!  That was helpful!”  But the hope is that he’ll think about what we’ll ask him throughout the day and make an effort to be a helper and be compassionate.  Funny thing is…I don’t think I realized how much it would make me think about how I am living.  We all know that what we say doesn’t make near the difference to our kids than how we live…lead by example, right?  So when he then asks us what we did to help someone or how someone was nice to us today, we consider it a valuable learning opportunity for our little family unit as a whole.

My grandmother, Barbara, will welcome her first great-granddaughter to the world next Tuesday.  When she was in the hospital with my mother, she had a lovely lavender gown and robe which she wore.  She has passed this treasure along to me as a keepsake, and it is beautiful.  Not just to look at but to think of the memory which it holds.  Here is a photo my mom took this past weekend, I’ll treasure the gift forever.

Gown

The final appointment was today.  That’s it, we’re done.  Just like that.  This time next week I’ll no longer have a belly full of Audrey.  Everything looked normal on the Non-Stress Test, she moved a little less than normal so they want me to monitor her kicks and punches carefully.  Yet another new sonographer pushed a gel-covered wand over my belly today learning and measuring our girl, it is never a problem it just seems to mess with the accuracy of the measurements.  And did it ever!  She measured Audrey to have gained over a pound in the past seven days!  Can you imagine if that were true?  But the doc clarified that it wasn’t the case but he did think she has gained a few ounces and made it past the 3lb. mark…I guess we’ll know for sure very soon.

She is still breech, her head is tucked just under my right ribs, her bottom is down over my bladder with her feet tucked in tight.  Amniotic fluid was about the same and there were no other findings that were different than what we already know.

We are still waiting on answers on a few things, particularly when our meeting will be with the neonatologist.  This is an important meeting to Chris and I and we are eager to make it happen.

I think I have asked every question I can possibly think of about having a C-Section…I’ve talked to the doctor, my dad, Carrie, Debbie, Krystal…and many more.  Each one being a bit different than the other but glad to have even a small idea of what to expect with the delivery.  There I go again…plan, prepare, plan, prepare…que sera, sera, Rach!

As always, thanks for reading my musings on life.  I have found writing to be incredibly cathartic and even if it simply goes out to cyberspace, it helps.

I wish I could hug each of your necks right now, but instead I’ll simply bid adieu by wishing you a restless restFUL night’s sleep.

Love, R

 

A Dedication of Sorts…

Happiest of Fridays to you all!  It is one of the most beautiful days of the year so far in our neck of the woods.

Today I woke up with a song in my heart and playing in my head.  A song that is powerful and deeply meaningful to me and many of you, of this I am certain.  A song that cannot help but humble me to the ground in tears, yet can leave me feeling empowered and never alone.

This song has particular meaning for two very important people to Chris and I.  One being Chris’ dad’s mother, Mary and the other being my dad’s father, Derry.

When I met Mary Leslie, Parkinson’s Disease had much control over her body.  At first, I ached for her, and for her family.  Quickly, however, I realized that this woman did not allow this unforgiving disease control her spirit.  She asked me about myself and about my love for her grandson.  Her smile was intentional and incredibly beautiful.  As I got to know this woman who was so cherished by her family, I learned that she had a real love for the music of Josh Groban.  I watched her listen to him sing once and could almost feel her heart as his magical voice filled the room.  I have never since listened to a song of his and not thought of Mary Leslie.  We were honored that she was able to make it from Minneapolis to Stillwater for our wedding.  I had the privilege of attending a memorial service of Mary’s life a few years ago – the world lost an angel, but Heaven certainly gained one.

The particular song of Josh Groban’s that plays ever so loudly in my head today is, “You Raise Me Up.”  Have you ever really listened to the words?  Paid attention to what it speaks of?  If not, or you could use a reminder, here is a link to the lyrics.

The summer before Cooper turned one was rough for my grandfather, Derry.  His body was failing him.  One of the more emotional times in my young adult life was watching my dad and his siblings during this time.  I ached for them and knew there was nothing I could do to ease the pain.  I always knew Derry to be stubborn and a bit hard-headed, but with that I knew he was a strong man.  Near the end, it seemed as though he felt trapped in a weak body, one he didn’t recognize…one which he didn’t have much control over.  I will never forget one afternoon at Mike & Carol’s house that summer.  Several of us were sitting on the patio with grandpa in his reclining chair.  He was exhausted and his spirits were particularly low.  He gestured me to lean in close so he could use as little energy as possible, and he quietly said, “I’m so ready to go.  But it is so hard to die.”  It stopped me in my tracks.  I didn’t know what to say…so I didn’t.  Instead I leaned in and pecked his wrinkled and scruffy cheek.  He mustered up a slight grin and closed his eyes for a quick nap on a warm summer day surrounded by family.  Not too many weeks later, he let go.  As the family prepared his memorial service, we gathered what seemed like hundreds of photographs to compile as a slideshow…one of the songs chosen to play near the end was, “You Raise Me Up.”  To this day, I cannot and will not listen to the song without thinking of him and the day his family and friends gathered to remember him.

I’ve made a short video for Audrey, dedicated to Mary Leslie and Derry Ebert.  It is a small glimpse into her life inside my belly…

Only in reading through the lyrics once more am I reminded of one little line.  One line that before I didn’t think too much of…one line that sings, “…each restless heart beats so imperfectly.”

ARGH, It won’t let me upload the video here, so if you want me to send it to you, let me know.  I can email or text it quickly and easily…sorry for the inconvenience.

Love and hugs to you all.

 

Separated at Birth

Dear Baby Audrey,

May 13, 2014, today is your daddy’s 31st birthday!  You may not get to hear his heartbeat from the inside but I know you feel his heart.  He has a calming effect on you already.  Almost every time you are rolling around in my belly, he can put his hand over you and you calm down.  It’s amazing really.  Happy birthday, Daddy!

Today you are 34 weeks and 2 days old.  I wrote my first letter to you when you were 20 weeks and 2 days old.

So much has happened in the past 14 weeks – we’ve experienced high peaks and low valleys, but through it all you keep fighting, your heart keeps beating.  Ingrid Michaelson sings, “…all the broken hearts of the world still beat, let’s not make it harder than it has to be….I’ve got two hands one beating heart, and I’ll be alright…”  Isn’t that the truth?  Your heart may be broken, but for now it beats inside me.

Your big brother talks about you often these days.  One day recently, the morning sunshine was fiercely beaming through dark, low set clouds as we drove to school.  I pointed out the beautiful sky to Cooper and without pause he said, “That’s Audrey!”

What does that mean?  Where did that come from baby girl?  I wish I knew, but I will hold on to that moment forever.

Your time in my belly is coming to an end.  14 days from today, doctors will bring you into the world.  14 more mornings to wake up with you kicking and squirming right inside my belly.  14 more days I can feel each one your hiccups.  And 14 more days that we share a body.

I am sorry my body seems to have failed you, sweet baby.  Mostly I want to shield you from pain, from any ounce of suffering.  We’re unprepared for what will happen the moment the doctors cut the cord, when we are separated.  Yet, we continue to TRUST.  If you can do one thing for us when you are born, be clear.  Be clear in what you need or don’t need.  It is, after all, what your middle name stands for…clear.  Audrey stands for noble strength and Claire means clear.  We already know your strength, soon we will need clarity.

You already know this because you hear everything happening outside the womb by now, but today we had our weekly doctor’s appointment.  Sarah and Carrie came too!  They were there to support you and I and get a glimpse of your little body on the ultrasound.  A special memory to share.

CarrieAndSarah

May 13, 2014 | After Non-Stress Test

Oh teeny girl, it seems you’ve plateaued in your growth.  No increases in the past week.  Making it to 3lbs will be such an achievement, and I know it will happen by the time you are born.  The hope in the next 14 days is that your lungs would mature as much as possible.  We’ll go in for one last appointment next Tuesday afternoon and then delivery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27th.

Giving up control and choosing to trust continues to require daily patience and intention.  Sometimes I feel like you are holding on to help God teach me to let go.  Like you are a vessel for something bigger than any of us can understand right now.  I keep thinking that I have let go and am trusting fully, but am I really?  Does saying it out loud or thinking it enough actually make it true?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps there is still a lesson (or many) to learn, strength to obtain…opportunities to grow.  I keep hearing, “Be still…stop.  Just stop.”  My instinct is to answer with, “What will happen when I do?“…but, if I am honest with myself, the foundation of my simple question really is controlling and plan-driven.  Instead I need to answer with action…or a lack thereof.

The best thing about being still is the opportunity to feel you and to hear Him.  To experience and memorize the pattern of your little movements and to praise the moments I hear a voice louder than my own.

Baby girl, your daddy and I love you in a deep way.  You carry us with you…inside of you.  Your little body is made up of pieces of us – you are ours.

I’ll write to you again soon, Audrey girl…

All my love,

Mama

photo 2

 

 

 

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…

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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.

Growth

Never before has Spring seemed so lovely.  I feel keenly aware of the growth around me, the birth if you will, of green grass, budding flowers and colorful fresh produce.  In our area of the country, we know that Spring brings with it the threat of harsh and severe weather.  Spring feels a lot like my life right now.  My belly seems to swell and grow by the minute as Audrey wiggles and dances around.  It is truly a beautiful thing, sometimes I just stop what I am doing to watch her…to feel her…to memorize her.  Sometimes the storm of the situation casts an ugly shadow on these beautiful moments.  But, have you ever been through a storm only to witness a gorgeous sunset afterward?  I continue to trust that the other side of all of this will look like a stunning watercolor sky.

The past week has been full of perfectly normal moments that make up our wonderful life.  Work for Chris and I, school for Cooper, soccer games, meals with friends, grilling on the back patio, chores around the house, and many many more.  One day, I called my mom in a broken moment.  I remember when I was pregnant with Cooper, I had intense bursts of nesting energy.  Well, I’m there.  I have been feeling this “need” to nest…all thanks to pregnancy hormones I am certain.  At this point in pregnancy, most parents are busy putting together cribs, washing the tiniest of baby clothes and thinking about which car seat to install.  We aren’t doing those things, we are living simply, not making many plans and waiting.  Chris and I are both planners at heart and this feeling of being unprepared is quite a hurdle to overcome.

While today it feels less Spring-like outside, we decided to do some landscaping over the weekend when the weather was sunny and warm.  When I say we, I mean Chris planted wonderful begonias throughout our front beds and laid fresh cedar mulch.  Mmm, can’t you just smell the cedar?  Chris could be a landscape expert in another life.  Besides bringing him Gatorade and picking up trash along the way, my only contribution to our outdoor life is one pot.  A perfectly orange pot with a fun yellow tomato cage housing a single starter tomato plant.  Chris’ mom grows tomatoes each year and I can never get enough, neither can Cooper – a delightful burst of juicy flavor in each bite.  She has inspired me to give it a try.  I am starting small and we’ll see how it goes.  The reason I go in to all of this is because during our trip to TLC to purchase our plants, we had a memorable conversation with Cooper.

At one point when we were near the trees, and I didn’t think Cooper was listening, I said to Chris, “I’ve been thinking…if Audrey were to die, maybe we could plant a tree for her.”  Chris thought it sounded like a good idea but in the middle of saying so, a little voice perked up and said, “Did you say die?”

Yikes.  Neither of us said a word.  I jumped in, trying to avoid it and change the subject.

That didn’t work, again he asked “No, mama, did you say die?”

Let’s rewind a bit.  Since learning about Audrey’s health over 3 months ago, we have been honest and told Cooper that she is sick, we have prayed for Audrey with Cooper.  We just have never talked about the possibility of her “dying” specifically, never said that word.  I wasn’t thinking when I said it in front of him.  I immediately regretted it.  But Chris felt like it was an opportunity to talk about it, about the possibility.  I agreed and we did.  We had a simple conversation with him about the fact that she is still sick – her heart and her brain don’t work right, and she is very small and not growing enough.  He didn’t have any strong reaction one way or another.  He listened, soaked it all in.  He said, “If her brain doesn’t work, she can’t walk…” We said that was possible.  He went on to say, “Well, if she can’t walk then she will fall down and break her head.”  Simple words from a smart little guy.  Cooper…our first baby.  I’ve thought so much over the past few months how to help prepare him for what is to come, but that’s impossible.  We don’t know what is coming, we don’t know how to prepare ourselves…let alone our son.  We ended the conversation talking about how much we love her and that no matter what, he is her wonderful and only big brother.

Fast forward to today, I had my appointment with Dr. Stanley and Chris was able to be there with me thankfully.  Audrey is 32 weeks and 2 days big in my belly today.  Similar to last week, there are no changes with her brain or heart.  She didn’t grow much in the past week unfortunately, only up 2oz.  By now, most babies gain about 1/2 pound per week and weigh an average of 3lbs. 12oz., our little fighter weighs 2lbs. 11oz. today.

She has flipped to a frank breech position, which isn’t surprising because I have really seen some significant dance moves across my belly the past couple of days.  Also, my amniotic fluid measured quite high today, an 11…!  But, apparently due to her position, there was a good size pocket of fluid near the bottom of the uterus that may have skewed the measurement.

Dr. Stanley forgot to schedule the delivery with the hospital, so we’re not sure on the exact date but hope to know this week.  He said in the next few weeks we’ll be meeting with a neonatologist.  This is a physician who is specifically trained to handle newborn babies with complex and high-risk situations.  The point of the meeting will be to discuss what we do know about Audrey, possible situations or decisions that we may be faced with and overall to allow the doctor to become familiar with Audrey’s situation prior to delivery.

Dr. Stanley said he wishes so much he had a crystal ball and could tell us how to prepare and what to expect.  His best advice was simply to “think positive but be prepared for the worst.”

No picture of our gal today, she was just too curled up to get any images.

My next appointment is next Tuesday at 9:30am.  We’ll continue doing weekly biophysical profiles and he is adding a Non-Stress Test from now on to monitor the baby’s heart rate and movement.

Love and hugs to each of you.  As April comes to a close, I hope May flowers beautify the world that surrounds you.