Post-op Appointment, NICU Tour and 3D Ultrasound Pictures

This morning I had my post-op check up to make sure Nora made it through the first 24 hours after the IUT safely. Thankfully, she looked wonderful on the ultrasound. She is head down and very low and I’m still having contractions everyday. If I didn’t know my body better I would think it was preparing for an early birth, but I have learned my lesson. With both of my boys I had regular contractions every day starting in the second trimester. I never was able to go into labor on my own, even after my due date, and was induced at 41 weeks. Even though Asher, especially, was over-ready to come out, my body did not go into labor. I doubt Nora will come until she is forced out, hopefully at 38 weeks.

After my appointment I had a quick tour of the NICU to become acquainted with it before I give birth. It was a surprisingly relaxing place to be and I’m excited about my Nora being there. I feel so blessed to be able to have a LIVE baby in the NICU!

Since Nora was being so still at her check up we were able to get some 3D ultrasound pictures of her. She has some chubby cheeks and a cleft chin like mine. I can’t wait to meet her face to face! As the ultrasound technician handed me the disc with all of Nora’s pictures on it, I had a flashback to another ultrasound technician handing me a different disc full of 3D ultrasound pictures. Except that baby girl was someone else’s, I just didn’t know it at the time. It was only nine months ago that I drove all the way down to Dothan, AL to pick up Kailee and then I drove her all the way to Florida to get 3D ultrasound pictures of “Scarlet.” (Kailee wanted to have them done in Florida, saying it was cheaper.) It was Liam’s first day of kindergarten, which I missed so that I could be there for Kailee and “Scarlet.” It was so strange to sit there and watch some other person have the wand roll over her belly, to hear the heartbeat and see the baby roll around on the screen but not feel any kicks or punches. It was the first time I had seen a baby on an ultrasound since Lucy died and it was extremely difficult for me (even though it was also wonderful at the same time.) It took me back to that day when her heart stopped and our world crashed. I tried to focus on the fact that the baby on the screen was my daughter, my rainbow baby. It felt strange, honestly. No one acknowledged me as the mother to be. The ultrasound technician probably just thought I was a friend of Kailee’s. I tried to love “Scarlet” as if she was mine, but I knew that she wasn’t mine YET and so I held back a special part of my heart. I kept it intact, but ready. I was ready to give her my whole heart as soon as she was mine. Now I know she never was mine. Today I had no problem looking at that screen and giving my whole heart to Nora. She IS mine already. I got to feel all the rolls, kicks and punches from the inside. What an unimaginable gift! Everyone acknowledges me as Nora’s Mommy already. Thank you, Lord, for this redemption and restoration that you have given me. Thank you for my rainbow baby who has my chin and the cutest mouth. I am blessed beyond belief.

BETHANY WEATHERSBY_1

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Three Down, Two to Go

Nora’s third IUT went very well today. Thank you all so much for praying for us!

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Right before they took me back to the operating room they did an ultrasound to check Nora’s position and where the umbilical cord was. The umbilical cord insertion (where it attaches to the placenta) was right under Nora’s cute little bottom. She’s definitely taking up more space in there now! They said it might be kind of hard to get to the cord with the needle if she was sitting on it, so that was kind of scary. I asked what they would do if they couldn’t get to it and they said (very casually) that they would just move her. I asked them how in the world they could move her and they said, “Oh, we have our ways.” I did not want to find out what those ways were. Thankfully she wasn’t in the way of the needle once they started the procedure and they were able to access the cord.

Nora’s starting hematocrit was 31, the highest it’s ever been (her starting hematocrit was around 24-25 for the first two transfusions.) They got it up to 45, which is really good! I asked why she wasn’t that anemic this time even though she went a whole three weeks between transfusions. Dr. Moise said that after the second transfusion most of the blood in her body was donor blood, which is kell negative. Since it was kell negative my body had nothing to attack besides the small amount of remaining kell positive blood in her system, hence the mild anemia. Nora’s body has completely stopped making it’s own red blood cells now and after today’s transfusion she is completely kell negative. All of the blood in her body is donor blood. How amazing (and slightly confusing) is that?! Now, we don’t have to worry about my antibodies making her anemic, we just have to give her more blood every three weeks to keep up with her growth (bigger baby = more blood needed.) Dr. Moise plans to do another blood transfusion at 32 weeks and then another one at 35 weeks. He will wait the normal three weeks after the last transfusion and then deliver her at 38 weeks. 38 WEEKS! I never thought I would make it to full term! What an exciting possibility. Nora will still need a NICU stay because she will be anemic and have jaundice and her body will need to start remaking it’s own red blood cells. She will need to be on the bilirubin lights for a while and possibly have a few blood transfusions and maybe some rounds of IVIG. Hopefully she will only be in the NICU for a week or two after birth. I will be having a NICU tour tomorrow afternoon to get acquainted with everything before my girl arrives.

Thank you again, to everyone who prayed for us today. Nora is moving well tonight and my contractions aren’t too frequent. The doctors will check her again tomorrow at 11:00 to make sure she still looks ok. The boys did a great job sitting in the hospital and not getting into TOO much trouble while they waited for me 🙂 We are glad today is over and we can relax a little until the next transfusion.

Ready for Transfusion #3

Today I had my 29 week check-up and pre-op appointment. It has been three whole weeks since Nora had an ultrasound, which is the longest she’s gone without being monitored since she was conceived. Thankfully she looked great and was extremely active. Nora now weighs three pounds four ounces, which is still very big for her gestation. I just got my 29 week update on my phone from Babycenter and it said, “Your baby should now weigh about two and a half pounds.” Josh laughed when I read that to him since Nora weighed two and a half pounds at 26 weeks. He affectionately calls her his “little lard.” On the ultrasound we could see that all of the extra blood Dr. Moise had put in her belly three weeks ago has been absorbed which is a good indication that it is time for another blood transfusion. There were no signs of hydrops or distress.

Nora’s third intrauterine blood transfusion will be tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 7:30. Please pray that everything goes smoothly and that Nora’s heart rate doesn’t plummet during the transfusion. I really hope she does not have to be delivered this early. I’m also a bit worried that I will have contractions while the needle is in (since I’m still having pretty regular contractions every day.) Please also pray for Josh who has to be at the hospital with me at 5:30am with BOTH boys in tow (there is no one else to watch them.) He has to take care of me and Liam and Asher all day tomorrow so pray that he has the energy and patience to get through the day.

As I mentioned before, I failed my one hour glucose test last week and had to do the three hour test on Friday to see if I have gestational diabetes. I found out today that I BARELY failed the three hour test. My OB wasn’t exactly sure what to do with me since my results were right on the threshold of being normal/abnormal. He decided to play it safe and treat me as if I have mild gestational diabetes. I will have to prick my finger and test my blood sugar levels four times a day and change my diet some. I will be meeting with a dietician next week to go over some meal plans and eating changes. Thankfully I won’t have to take any medication and should be able to control my sugar levels with diet alone. I was disappointed when I found out about the gestational diabetes, but compared to all of the other things I have been through with this pregnancy, this is not a very big deal. I’m trying to focus on how thankful I am just to be pregnant with my rainbow baby and not get bogged down by these discouraging test results. We are so incredibly blessed to be at 29 weeks and over three pounds! We are constantly in awe of our baby girl who is so strong and resilient and of our God who has “wondrously shown His steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.” (Psalm 31:21)

Here’s the 29 week bump with a flower that Asher picked for “baby Nowa.”

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Also, Nora’s brothers love giving her kisses and can’t wait to hold her.

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I will try to update the blog tomorrow night after I get back from the hospital. Thank you all for your prayers, kind words and constant support. We couldn’t do this without you!

28 Week Update

As I mentioned in the last post, we were able to go back to Alabama for about a week and a half between appointments. Our time home was busy and productive and so needed. Usually at the end of the second trimester and beginning of the third my nesting instinct really starts to kick in. It is hard to be nesting but not be at home in my nest to get it ready for my baby bird. When I get to go home for visits my nesting instinct goes crazy and I basically use every free moment I have to clean and organize the house. This past visit I started having regular contractions every day, some even getting as close as three minutes apart. I went to my local OBGYN in Tuscaloosa to make sure I wasn’t going into preterm labor and thankfully I wasn’t dilated at all. He also did a fetal fibronectin test which tells you if labor will start within the following two weeks. Mine came back negative, so that was reassuring. The contractions have continued, even though I have been making an effort to stay off my feet more and stay hydrated. We got back into Houston on Mother’s Day and the next day I had my 28 week check up. The doctor checked me again to make sure I wasn’t in preterm labor and I still wasn’t dilated or anything. He thinks my uterus is just irritated from the last IUT. Sticking lots of needles into a uterus is an effective way to cause irritation. I’m a bit worried about the next IUT. Since I’m still so irritated from the last one will this next procedure send me into full blown labor? I guess we will have to wait and see.

This week I also had my one hour glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. I failed the test, so I have to take the dreaded three hour test on Friday. I also failed the one hour test when I was pregnant with Asher but passed the three hour test easily. Hopefully the same will happen this time. I really don’t want to add even more risk to my extremely high risk pregnancy. I also don’t want more intervention and things to keep up with (like my blood sugar.) I will be so thankful when this pregnancy is over and I have my Nora girl in my arms. I have been feeling weary lately. I am always a bit stunned when returning to the Ronald McDonald House because I am reminded of all the suffering. There are up to 50 families living here who all have a child with a life threatening illness or disorder. Suffering is all around. There is something extra heart wrenching about a child suffering. There are kids here with cancer (some terminal), kids waiting for organ transplants, babies with severe heart defects, babies with spina bifida, children with rare, unknown disorders…the list goes on and on. The people here are some of the kindest I’ve ever met too, which makes it even harder for me to accept their suffering. It makes me feel weary deep in my bones sometimes. I am also tired of so much intervention and stress with this pregnancy. It’s like a roller coaster that I can’t get off of. After Nora is born she will probably need a lot of intervention as well. It is such a different pregnancy experience than I had with my boys (before I had anti-kell antibodies.) Those pregnancies progressed smoothy week by week and month by month as predicted…baby all safe and snug in the womb like he should be. How I wish Nora could be safe like her brothers were. How I wish she did not have to suffer or be in danger. Thankfully, it is hard to feel sorry for myself for very long while I am here at the Ronald McDonald House. There are so many others who are hurting even more than I am yet somehow they still smile and they strive forward through the pain. I wonder if my two healthy boys make some of the other families here feel sad and make them question God’s fairness. It’s not fair that one boy gets to be healthy and strong and the other boy has to face so much pain and anguish. Everyone has their own hard place, their desert of weariness. Thank goodness there is One who supplies unending strength and living water. Usually when I start feeling weary and the self pity comes to settle in my heart I realize that I haven’t been spending enough time with God and haven’t been reading His word enough. If I turn to Him for strength and comfort He will satisfy my desires, even when I am in a scorched place of suffering.

Isaiah 58:11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 40:27-29 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?” Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.

Third Trimester!

Sorry for the delayed blog post…we were able to come home to Alabama for a visit and I’ve been kind of overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done in a very short amount of time. I finally have a few minutes to sit down and complete a blog post.

I will say it again, even though you all are probably tired of hearing it…I can’t believe we have made it this far! I’m 27 and a half weeks pregnant which means I have made it to the third trimester. It feels wonderful and surreal. Nora’s kicks sometimes feel like tiny dynamite explosions, somehow hitting me way down in the crotch and high up in my ribs at the same time. Unless she’s feeling anemic, she is very active like her brother Liam (he moved so much in the womb I thought he was having seizures.) She’s very big like her brother Asher, who also was somehow lodged way down in my pelvis and high up in my ribs at the same time. On the 3D ultrasound pictures Nora’s mouth looks so much like Lucy’s, Beautiful. I can’t wait to meet her. It’s wonderful to have this hope shining in my heart every day…I might get to keep my daughter. I am able to go about my day to day life with a buoyancy that I haven’t felt in years. I told the boys this week that Nora will probably be able to come home with us and be our baby here on earth instead of going to heaven. They were thrilled. I remember way back in November when I got that shocking positive pregnancy test and I thought several times a day, “If we can just make it through April, this baby will probably live.” Here I am a week into the month of May and my KELL POSITIVE baby girl is doing dynamite explosion kicks inside my womb 🙂

I just wanted to thank all of you for celebrating our Nora with us on this journey. I know its hard to see ultrasound pictures and baby bumps for many of you. Sometimes it’s even hard for ME to see those pictures. I probably would not be putting as many of those pictures up if I knew Nora would live. Throughout this whole pregnancy we have not been able to predict how much time we might get with Nora so we decided at the beginning to celebrate every day with her that we do get. I wish I had celebrated Lucy more when I had her. Thank you so much for joining in our celebration so far, especially those of you who are not in a “rejoicing” stage in your life. I think one of the hardest things in life is celebrating with others while you are in a time of mourning or hurting in your own life.

We were able to travel back to Alabama for a week long visit and when I got here my sister had arranged a surprise shower/get together. It was so fun to celebrate my girl (and to see everyone in their Team Nora shirts!)

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It feels so foreign to be the one CELEBRATING something (although my heart always aches for my Lucy.) I know exactly how I would be feeling right now if Nora had been stillborn. The difference between this May and my May of 2013 is astounding. I read back through some of my journals and the grief was so heavy. Although we have moved out of the deep mourning we were in two years ago, we still grieve for Lucy all the time. When I came home from Texas (the first time) I was so thrilled to see Josh and Liam, it filled up two gaping holes in my heart. It was like heart balm to see Josh with his littlest son again.

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But soon after we were reunited I realized there was still an open wound aching for Lucy. She was not here waiting for me, my sweet one and half year old who should have been running into my arms. I will never see her with her Daddy. I wept for her and grieved deeply knowing that she will never run into my arms on this earth. That gaping hole will throb and hurt until the day I enter heaven. Our family will never be complete. It is a hard reality to come to terms with. It is strange to be in a state of such extreme celebration and deep sadness at the same time. Just as important as the ones celebrating, the ones who mourned with us when Lucy died are the people we appreciate so much. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all of you who grieved with us and did not push us to “heal” before we were ready. To the people who showed empathy and sadness weeks and months and years after Lucy died, thank you. It means more than you know. And to the ones who mourned with us even in a time of celebration in your own life, we are forever grateful for such a gift. Thank you to all of you. I hope I can learn to grieve with others when they are hurting and smile with those who are celebrating like many of you have done for us. đź’ś

I just realized that I never updated the blog after Nora’s post IUT appointment. They checked her the next morning and she looked great on the ultrasound and was very active. I told the doctor that she started moving a lot sooner after the procedure than the first time and he said, “She actually started moving DURING the procedure when we were putting blood into her belly!” I vaguely remember the doctors’ voices seeming surprised and slightly alarmed at some point during the IUT. Now I know what the problem was. The doctor said he thinks they gave her less sedation/paralyzing medication in proportion to her size which is why she started waking up too soon. I am thankful they were still able to finish the transfusion safely. Dr. Moise decided that he wanted to wait three weeks until the next transfusion instead of two this time. This means her next transfusion will be on May 19th when I am 29 weeks pregnant. I have a regular OB appointment next week and will have my gestational diabetes test then too. Thank you all for checking in on us regularly and praying for little Nora. Also, thank you to everyone who has bought a Team Nora shirt! I feel so astounded and humbled by the support we have been shown. My best friend’s mom is a sixth grade teacher at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa and her classes have been praying for Nora this whole semester. I went to visit them and there were so many kids wearing Team Nora shirts! In each class a student came up to the front and prayed for Nora and me. Most of these kids have never even met me before! So sweet. Here they are showing off their shirts:

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And here are Robin, Hunter and Noah, who all ran an inflatable 5K in support of The Ronald McDonald House and Nora, of course:

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More cute supporters:

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If you have a picture of you or your kids wearing your Team Nora shirt I would love to share it on my blog! Just email your picture to bethanysk55@yahoo.com and if you are still interested in buying a shirt you can find the information at the bottom of this blog post- Team Nora T-shirts!