Another Baby?

 

I have started this blog post and then erased it several times. It’s a sensitive subject, growing your family, adding a baby, especially when you already have three and your pregnancies are extremely high risk. After losing a baby it can feel even more delicate and precarious to discuss pregnancy, child birth, number of children, sibling ages, age gaps and growing your family. Unfortunately many people feel compelled to share their opinions about whether other families should add another baby or stop having babies, especially when it comes to high risk pregnancies or large families. I erased and rewrote this blog post so many times because it is hard to find the right words and to express what is on my heart. We want another baby. We know God wants us to try again. Yes, the next baby could be in a lot of danger in my womb. Yes, we are afraid, but also confident that this is what God wants us to do. I don’t want this post to sound like I’m apologizing for my decision to add another baby to our family. I don’t feel like I have to defend my choice to try again. I don’t owe an explanation to anyone regarding my private decisions about family planning and trying to conceive. BUT, on the other hand, I like being open about this journey. I like sharing my story with all of you and my hope is to be the encouragement that another parent needs when they are struggling with their own family planning decisions. I want others to be inspired not to give up on their dreams of a living child, or a big family or a rainbow baby. I also need your prayers and your support and so I invite you to come on this journey with us to hopefully bring our final baby home.

2016 was the first time I’ve gone an entire year without being pregnant once since 2007. After months and months of prayer we have decided that 2017 is the year that we try for earth baby number four, our last baby. We always wanted at least five children but after developing anti-kell antibodies and losing Lucy we thought that dream was shattered. We mourned the loss of our ability to have more babies as deeply as the loss of our daughter. It was such a sad, hopeless time in our lives. But when Nora was born healthy we realized that we had found the right doctor and the right treatments that worked for us. Even though we can never get our Lucy back on this earth, it was an amazing feeling to realize that our dead dreams of growing our family had been resurrected and maybe, just maybe, we COULD have the big family we always wanted. God has reshaped our hearts and changed our dream of five kids to a dream of four kids. We desperately want Nora to have a sibling friend close in age. We want four kids around the table at Thanksgiving dinner when they are all grown up. We would love for Nora to have a sister on earth, but we know that is up to God. We also know that if we don’t try for this one last baby, we will regret it for the rest of our lives. I knew even while I was pregnant with Nora that I would want one more after her if she survived. I knew God was planting a seed in my heart and growing it for a purpose.

Are we afraid? Of course we are scared, but we trust God wholeheartedly and we trust His proddings and nudgings. We trust in His plan for our lives. Does this mean God will give us a healthy, living baby next? I have no idea. It is completely possible for God to call me to try again and then for me to step out in faith, get pregnant and lose the baby. God is God and I am not. I don’t always understand His decisions. But now, more than ever in my life, I trust Him and I feel excited about what He has waiting for me in my future. And who am I to limit God to a certain number of miracles in my life? If He calls me out upon the water, I will follow just like always. And I know the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end and neither do His miracles.

Job 5:8-11 As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

Yes, Lord, lift us to safety. Bring us this one last baby you have placed in our hearts, and place him in our arms. Continue to do unsearchable, marvelous things in our lives.

So, the logistics… we know in some ways it will be harder to go through such a high risk pregnancy again because we now have three children to take care of during all the treatments, appointments, procedures and sickness. We asked the boys a few months ago if they were willing to go through all of that again for another baby in the family…our last little brother or sister. We reminded them that Mommy would be very sick and would be gone to appointments a lot. We reminded them that the baby could die just like Lucy or the baby could live just like Nora, but we don’t know which it will be yet. We told them that Mommy might have to move to Houston for a few months and we would miss each other so much. If they had not been on board with the idea we would have reconsidered because they will have to make sacrifices for this next baby to get here safely, and they will take the risk of having their little hearts shattered again. Josh and I were surprised at how quickly both boys jumped up and down and shouted “Yes!” and “Please have another baby Mommy!” and they were on board with all of it. Asher even begged for me to have two or three more babies and I told him is wasn’t happening, but maybe we could try for one more. Our families are supportive and willing to help us through the pregnancy again, which we are so incredibly thankful for. We couldn’t have made it through our last pregnancy without them. My mom even said she would be willing to move to Houston again if we had to. We have an amazing, supportive church family and sweet friends who are encouraging and helpful too, so we feel as ready as we ever will be.

We met with a new MFM in Atlanta who was actually trained by Dr. Moise. His name is Dr. Thomas Trevett and he is experienced with isoimmunization/alloimmunization. He even won an award for the work he did developing the use of phenobarbital at the end of the pregnancy to help babies with HDN avoid blood transfusions and high bilirubin after birth. I took phenobarbital the last ten days of my pregnancy with Nora and I truly believe it is one of the reasons why she didn’t struggle with bilirubin after she was born and didn’t have to stay in the NICU. Josh and I met with Dr. Trevett at the beginning of January for a preconception appointment to discuss a future pregnancy and to see if he was even willing to take me on. My case is risky and the treatments will be pretty extreme so I would totally understand if an MFM was hesitant to accept me as a patient. He was so great. He understood everything about anti-kell antibodies and he follows Dr Moise’s protocols already. His course of treatment for me was the same one I had decided on already and very similar to what we did to save Nora. Dr. Trevett and I decided to start the treatments a little earlier than we did with Nora. During my pregnancy with Nora we had to struggle with the insurance company for a while to get them to cover the plasmapheresis and IVIG so the treatments were started a week or two later than I would have liked. I started plasmapheresis at 11 weeks and IVIG at 12 weeks in my last pregnancy and Dr Trevett will start them a week or two earlier with my next pregnancy, just to be extra proactive. Dr. Moise and Dr. Trevett have agreed to collaborate together for my care, which I appreciate so much. If the baby needs an early IUT before 20 weeks I will go to Houston to be treated by Dr. Moise, who has more experience doing early IUTs. If the baby doesn’t need an IUT until later in the pregnancy Dr Trevett will do the IUTs. The main reason we are using both doctors is because Atlanta is about a four hour drive from us and Houston is about an eleven hour drive. It would be much easier for me to take care of my three kids if I didn’t have to relocate to Houston for the whole pregnancy. We are still praying that God would give us a kell negative baby so that the baby could be safe from my antibodies. Supposedly, each baby of ours has a 50% chance of being kell positive or kell negative. BUT we know for sure that Asher, Lucy and Nora are all kell positive and Liam might be, so for some reason Josh’s genes seem to dominate. Maybe this will finally be our kell negative baby?

Please join us in praying for our future baby, that (s)he would be kell negative and would be born healthy. Please pray that Nora would get to be a big sister and have a sibling close in age. She would LOVE to have a real baby to take care of and boss around!

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Treasuring Up All These Things

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

This verse in Luke is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Mary had just given birth to her first child and a little while later a group of shepherds came running in, telling her about angels that had just visited them in the fields. The angels were praising Jesus, the same Jesus Mary had just given birth to. What must have been going through her head at that moment?

As 2016 draws to a close I realize that this year has been a year of treasuring up and pondering; like Mary did in her heart when the shepherds came rushing in after Jesus was born. I can only imagine how overwhelmed Mary was after going through labor and delivery, then facing these visitors and their message from God. Sometimes the weight of a moment is too much to take in right then. Sometimes God reveals things to us that we can’t possibly fathom. Sometimes the beauty and wonder of the moment deserves more than the time it’s given. Life is so fleeting. I often wish I could pause time to fully take in the wonder before me, chubby arms and legs, toddler sized proportions in nothing but a diaper, the sweet five year old love ballads to Mommy, the gentle kiss from biggest brother to tiniest sister. Since I can’t stop time I treasure up the moment and soak it in, ponder it in my heart, store it up to take out later and admire. My year has been full of these moments that I want to keep forever. Moments that point back to God and His goodness.

The moment when Mary stopped to treasure up all the things that were happening around her, to ponder the message God was sending her about her child, often reminds me of a day when I did the same but in very different circumstances. February 8th, 2013, the worst day of my life, when my daughter’s heart stopped and my body became a tomb, God made His radical promise to me, “I WILL REDEEM THIS.” I had no energy or clarity of mind to even attempt to grasp what the words meant, so I stored it up for later. Like Mary, who probably could not believe what was happening to her or how the path of her life had suddenly gone a completely different direction than expected, I struggled to take it all in. I was in shock. But God spoke over and over again, an audible voice in my head, “I WILL REDEEM IT.” And each time He spoke I took His promise like a treasure and stored it away to ponder later. Since that day, almost four years ago, I have contemplated the promise many times, turning it over in my mind. God promised to redeem my daughter Lucy’s death and all the loss and pain that came with it. But did He realize how much was lost on that day and all the days since then? That promise of redemption feels too large. It feels impossible. The first year or two after Lucy’s death I reached in and took that promise out in anger, wielding it like a weapon towards God, “You promised me! But you let more tragedy strike instead! Why would you make a promise you could never fulfill?” How could He possibly repay me for my daughter’s death? Over the years God has patiently and carefully crafted my story, moment by moment, using all the loss for good, mending broken places and making the barren wasteland fruitful. And yes, even redeeming parts of my Lucy loss that I thought would never be redeemed on earth.

This year especially I have seen the redemption He promised emerge more than ever. There have been countless moments of glory, beauty and joy that I never thought I would experience again on earth, too many to list here. Many of these moments involved my miracle baby Nora and many of these moments involved other women with high risk pregnancies who were looking for support. I treasure all these things up and praise God for them (especially my baby Nora!)

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There have been other moments this past year that felt surreal, heavy and empty at the same time because Lucy wasn’t in them:

The play date where all the babies have their preschool siblings along too but three year old Lucy is missing. I’m supposed to choke down my chicken nuggets and smile like everything is normal. I’m the only one who sees the empty space where she should be.

Folding up and putting away her empty stocking on Christmas Eve after the other three have been filled with toys and chocolate.

Telling her brothers that I am sorry, I don’t know what she would look like today and watching their hot tears stream down.

Suddenly realizing in the middle of an English lesson that the little girl I’m teaching is the exact age that Lucy would be today. Her big brown eyes staring up at me, her little laugh. Would Lucy look like that? I don’t even know what her laugh sounds like. I weep for my baby girl the entire drive home.

Over the course of this year God has been teaching me to pause right then and ponder the painful moment, gather it up and give it to God to be redeemed later. I’m learning to trust that He WILL redeem even that terrible moment. Every tear shed, every time the weight of grief feels too heavy to bear, every single thing I miss with Lucy will be redeemed, repaid and restored. God can redeem the deepest loss, even your loss. He can bring beauty from ashes, He can even heal parts of your heart that you thought were broken forever. Some things can never be mended until we get to heaven, but these things that He does redeem on earth are our foreshadowing of the glory and restoration to come.

If you are reading this I have prayed for you. I’ve prayed for your 2017, that God would bring about the most beautiful redemption in your life. I’ve prayed for your healing and for your joy, that God would give you the desires of your heart and would grant you the request of your lips. Be bold and ask Him for the thing you so desperately want. Gather up all of your hurts and hand them over to Him to be redeemed. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

Psalm 126  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Ripples

“Mommy, do you want to die in an explosion so you can go to heaven and see Lucy?” Five year old Asher caught me completely off guard with his question. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry but his face was earnest and he really wanted to know. I told him I didn’t want to die in an explosion but I was excited about being with Lucy one day when I do eventually get to heaven.

Lucy’s death had such an immediate, violent impact on my life but the rippling effects are really hitting the boys now. Liam and Asher are suddenly old enough to comprehend that their little sister is dead and it is heartbreaking to watch them work it out in their minds. The boys are so obsessed with Nora and they love having their baby sister with them. I think they are just now understanding all of the beauty and wonder and love that they are missing without Lucy here. I found this drawing at the bottom of Liam’s backpack the other day.

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I asked him about it and he said it was a bad guy freezing the whole world and all the people died but Lucy (who is the tiny dot in the upper left hand corner) survived. Lucy survived. Our ultimate fantasy scenario. Liam also told me yesterday, “Mommy, I’m sad about a daydream I had where all the babies are trying to be alive, like all the babies in their mom’s bellies, and the ones who don’t win die but only the winner gets to be alive.” The boys have asked us about having another baby and we told them that if I had another baby in my belly we don’t know if that baby would live like Nora or die and go to heaven like Lucy. Asher asked me today how old Lucy is and I told him she is about 2, almost 3 years old. I hesitated, though, because I honestly don’t know how aging works in heaven. Would Lucy grow up, year by year like she would here? Or is she still a newborn waiting for me to get there so I can watch her grow up? Or is she an adult? If she were here on earth she would be turning 3 years old this summer. She would be exactly two years older than Nora, just like Liam is two years older than Asher. The boys always have a combination birthday party in February/March and I know Lucy and Nora would have had a combination birthday party every July. I hate that Nora doesn’t have her big sister here with her. Such a huge loss. The boys are so sad that Lucy isn’t here with them. Asher asked what she looks like now and I had to tell him I wasn’t sure. He looked so sad and asked if she looked just like Nora but had a different name and I told him I didn’t know. He said he wanted to be in an explosion so that he could go see what Lucy looks like. I know some of these thoughts seem morbid, but they are just a peek into five year old and seven year old minds trying to understand death. I hate that death is such a big part of our family and part of the boys’ childhoods.

Asher always includes Lucy in our family. He was very wounded this past Christmas when I didn’t hang a stocking up for Lucy. I promised him that next year we will hang a stocking up for both of his sisters. This is his latest family drawing:

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He is holding Nora and up in the sky is Lucy in her mansion in heaven. She is looking out of the window at us. He insisted that I hang the picture up on the wall above Nora’s crib because he drew it for her. Oh how my heart hurts when I think about telling Nora one day that she has a sister that she will never get to meet until she gets to heaven. Watching the boys deal with Lucy’s death now, three years later, is a reminder that this terrible tragedy that happened to us in 2013 isn’t just over, even though we are continuing to heal. The harsh reality is that the tragedy continues and the ripples continue to bruise us, to cut into our hearts, to reopen old wounds. There are facets of our loss, our life without Lucy, that have yet to impact us. One day when Nora gets older she will wish she had someone to play My Little Ponies with; a sister to tell secrets to and do each others hair and share clothes with.

It is hard to go through life without such a vital part of our family. It is hard for siblings to comprehend their sister being dead. Their sister will never be a part of our family here in the flesh. But goodness, she makes heaven so much sweeter and more tangible. When Asher builds things with Legos he often constructs a scenario here on earth and then one in heaven too. “Mommy, these guys are in their house having a meeting and this guy is in heaven.” Thanks to Lucy, heaven is a very real place to us. She has gifted us with an eternal perspective on life and a joyful anticipation of heaven. I used to dread the end of my life on earth. I feared death. It made me feel anxious and panicky. Now, I look forward to it; not in a suicidal way, but in a very sweet, excited way. I feel peace about dying and I can’t wait to get to heaven. The boys are excited about heaven too and they look forward to meeting their little sister and seeing the mansion that she lives in.

The rippling effect of our loss and heartache will continue to hit us throughout our lives. I know one day when all the 2013 babies start kindergarten I will have an intense ache in my heart…and when they graduate and when I know she should be in college and when I see a beautiful bride her age walk down the aisle and when I meet my grandchildren but none of them are Lucy’s…I will continue to be wounded again and again and so will her Daddy. As her brothers grow and understand more and more about this great gaping hole in our family, they will continue to be bruised as well. BUT these destructive ripples are confined to this earth. They will not follow us to heaven. They are harmless in light of eternity, and that is why I look forward to heaven so much. I just can’t wait to see my first girl and to see all of my children under one roof.

Asher’s Christmas Play

Today, like most days, was a mixture of deep gratitude and grief. I think those who have suffered great loss have also been given a new perspective on life and a deeper sense of gratitude.

My four year old, Asher, had his preschool Christmas play today. He was such a cute little wise man…yawning, playing with his crown and desperately searching the crowd for my face.

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The four year olds sang their songs last since they were the oldest kids in the preschool. I had to leave the room when the two year olds went on stage to sing. I sat on a couch in the lobby crying for Lucy while Nora babbled and smiled in my lap. I thought back on the three previous Christmas programs I had attended there. Liam’s first one when I was pregnant with Lucy…I tried not to throw up during his performance, I was so nauseated and anxious about my baby. The next year I almost couldn’t sit through the performance because I was so crushed with grief. The place seemed to be crawling with little babies and pregnant women. I had lost three babies that year and had no hope of bringing home my own living baby ever again. I thought I was going to have a panic attack and it took me days to recover emotionally. Last year I sat watching three year old Asher in his first Christmas play. I was pregnant with Nora…so nauseated and so terrified that I would lose the baby. And then today, there I was crying on the couch for my two year old Lucy and smiling at my miracle baby in my arms. Such a strange mixture of joy, gratitude, grief and loss. I know that I was probably a trigger today for some other hurting woman who had lost a baby and I hate that I made her pain worse. Nora sat perfectly in my arms the whole time, smiling sweetly at everyone. She is medicine to my soul.

When the two year olds were finished, I went back into the sanctuary and watched Asher file onto the stage and my heart overflowed with love. I thought about what a blessing he is to me and I reminded myself that somewhere out there a mommy was missing her four year old just like I was missing Lucy. Asher could have died like Lucy did. He has kell positive blood just like his daddy and sisters, but because I only developed the antibodies after I gave birth to him, he was safe. If I had developed the antibodies before I got pregnant with him, he would have been stillborn. Oh how happy I am that I got to see my four year old perform in his Christmas play today! I love having Asher here on earth with me and I love that I know what color his eyes are and what his voice sounds like. Today was a gift, even though I had to live it without Lucy. I love my life and the BEST part is that it ends with heaven.

 

 

DONE

Well, Nora is officially DONE with transfusions and blood checks and has been released from her hematologist! A couple weeks ago she had her blood drawn for the last time at Children’s Hospital and I was so excited that it was the last time I would have to drive all the way to Birmingham and watch them stick her with a needle. Nora wasn’t that excited about it.

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The next day, when I called to find out her numbers, the nurse told me they had only checked her iron and not her hemoglobin, hematocrit or retic. Her iron level is completely irrelevant and has nothing to do with this type of anemia. I was surprised at the rush of emotion when I found out we weren’t really done and that Nora would have to have another blood draw. I broke down in tears, frustrated with the hospital for running the wrong test and frustrated with myself for not making sure they were ordering the right blood tests. I was sad that Nora would not be cleared by Halloween like I was hoping.

This Halloween was the very first holiday that I wasn’t dreading since losing Lucy. It’s a huge milestone in my grief journey. I never thought I could enjoy a holiday again, but this year I was ok with it, even looking forward to it a little. Nora was going to be a ghost and the boys were ninjas.

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On Halloween Nora woke up feeling very irritable and she wouldn’t nurse. She started screaming and WOULD NOT STOP. She sounded like she had a little congestion and a cough but soon started having a little trouble breathing. She was grunting and occasionally gasping for air. Since I didn’t have her latest blood work results I wasn’t sure if she was anemic or not (although I suspected that she wasn’t since she was still pink.) We had to take her to the emergency room. Difficulty breathing can be a sign of severe anemia and we didn’t want to take any chances. The saddest part was when the nurses couldn’t get Nora’s vein because she was so tiny and slightly dehydrated. They tried four times before they finally were able to draw enough blood for the tests. We were so relieved when her counts came back normal. Her hematocrit was 42 and her hemoglobin was 14! She did have bronchiolitis and an ear infection which were causing her all the discomfort, and it was kind of a let down to spend Nora’s first Halloween in the hospital, but it was so exciting to see her numbers looking so good! And she did end up getting cleared for good by Halloween like I had hoped 🙂

We feel so incredibly relieved that all of the medical dangers caused by these horrible antibodies are now behind us. Nora is a “normal” baby now and is producing her own red blood cells with nothing in her blood to destroy them. Not only is Nora done, but we are done trying for our rainbow baby and that desperate desire for a third living child has been satiated (thank you, Jesus!) Our family can relax and we are now trying to focus on recuperating from the past three years. We have had one tragedy after the next and even though it ended in the best way imaginable, this high risk pregnancy with Nora and her birth were so exhausting. We are depleted, financially and emotionally. We are slowly trying to pay off our medical bills and climb out of debt that we fell into during the “adoption.” How I wish there was a way to get all of that money back from Kailee and Peter. We are also trying to give Liam and Asher a lot of attention since they have had to endure so much in their little lives. Lucy, Scarlet and Nora have been our main focus since 2012 and now we are finally able to pour ourselves into our sons. It is so fun. I just finally “set up” their bedroom since I never had time to after we moved in last fall. I made their names out of fun letters and put them on the wall, rearranged the furniture, got rid of Asher’s toddler bed and I’m still working on some really cute bookshelves to go on the wall. Asher was so excited when he saw the small changes I had made that he said, “This is my favorite room I ever had!” It is so nice to be able to just be in my home with my children, with no pressing emergency or giant obstacle to overcome.

Josh and I are finally able to focus on our marriage and work on just enjoying being with each other again. Losing a baby puts so much strain on a marriage, not to mention an adoption gone wrong and a very high risk pregnancy. We love being able to just enjoy normal little things together again (things that seemed frivolous and meaningless in the midst of grief.) We watch Netflix and go for walks and plant vegetables and herbs in our fall/winter garden. We go to church together and are able to plan fun things like camping trips and what to cook for Thanksgiving. Even though we still have a lot of healing to do and our Lucy wound still gapes, I feel like we are finally able to slow down and enjoy life again.

As I go about my day, a phrase often comes to mind, “He brought me out into a broad place.” It comes from Psalm 18:

Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

Thank you, Lord, for rescuing me and for rescuing Nora. I know we will probably face more adversity, pain and loss in the future, like everyone does, but I love this place you have brought me into right now. I praise you for the miraculous things you have done in my life and for this time of respite and restoration.

Second Post Birth Transfusion

So, last week Nora was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion and the doctor wanted to wait eight days before checking her again.  We ended up calling the hematologist and telling him our concerns about waiting so long. He wasn’t defensive or condescending like some doctors in the past have been when questioned. He answered our questions and when he didn’t know the answer he simply told us he wasn’t sure. We appreciated his honesty and humility so much. He took our concerns seriously and told us we could bring her in any time for a blood check if we felt nervous. This put us more at ease.

The doctor ended up being right, Nora was ok waiting the eight days until her next check up. On Wednesday I took her in for her weekly blood work. Her hemoglobin was eight and her hematocrit was 23, both transfusion level. Her retic was up over two, which was great since she hasn’t had much of a retic at all. The retic shows whether she is making her own red blood cells or not. Since it went up from 0.11 to over two we know that her body is starting to to make blood again. Unfortunately, her bilirubin went up too, which shows us that there is red blood cell destruction happening. Apparently, my antibodies are still circulating in Nora’s blood and killing any kell positive blood that she makes, which is why she needed another transfusion. The doctor decided to just do the transfusion that day so it was a LONG day, but we were relieved that Nora was getting the blood that she needed.

The nurse had to put the IV in her head again since her veins are so tiny and difficult to access. She was such a brave girl and didn’t fuss much at all. Besides when she got her IV, she was a very cheerful baby and all the nurses wanted to hold her and cuddle her. Here she is right after they put her IV in.

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The transfusion went well and Nora seemed perky and pink afterwards. She will continue to be checked weekly by the hematologist. My goal is to have her completely over the antibodies by Christmas. Right now that seems like a long way away but in the grand scheme of things it’s not long at all…a very small price to pay in order to have our baby girl here with us. This past week was exhausting. All of the school year activities have started back and I feel like we are constantly on the go. We took Nora to church for the first time last Sunday and she did great! She was quite overstimulated by the loud music and flashing lights and people all around, but it was so fun to have her there with us.

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Here are a couple more cute pictures from this week. Thank you for all of your prayers and continued support. I’ll try my best to keep you updated!

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Asher collected some toys and stuffed animals and told me he wanted to have “play time” with Nora in her crib.

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“Say owl, baby Nowa, say owl!”

 

 

 

 

We Have a Date!

This week I am 36 weeks pregnant and on Monday we scheduled my induction.

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It’s so exciting to finally have a date to look forward to! I am scheduled to be induced on the morning of Monday, July 20th when I am 38 weeks exactly. Of course, if there are no beds available and they are too full, my induction will be postponed so I’m trying not to put all of my hopes on that specific day. There is a small chance that Nora will decide to come sooner than that, but I highly doubt it. At my 36 week appointment I found out I’m dilated to 3 cm already and my contractions continue throughout each day. There have also been a few other signs of preterm labor but for now we are just waiting it out at the Ronald McDonald House. It is a bit stressful because my parents plan to come a couple days before the induction to watch the boys for us, but we don’t really know what to do if I go into labor before then. It’s about an eleven hour drive so chances are I would have the baby before they even got here if I actually did go into labor (Liam’s labor and delivery was 12 hours start to finish and Asher’s was 6.) My parents are packed and ready in case they need to come with little notice, but I would hate for them to drive all the way here if I never really went into labor. We do have a friend of my mom’s on standby to help with the boys in case of an emergency, which is very kind of her.

Yesterday I started taking a drug called phenobarbital three times a day. Dr. Moise wants me to take it for ten days prior to delivery. It’s commonly used as an anti-seizure medication but when taken during pregnancy it helps develop the baby’s liver. Nora’s liver will play a big part in how well she deals with the anemia and jaundice after she is born. Technically, she will have HDN or “Hemolytic disease of the newborn” which is why she will be in the NICU, even if she is full term with no preemie issues. If I am able to get in ten full days of phenobarbital before she arrives, her NICU stay will be shorter. Emotionally, I am all over the place. I’m torn between desperately wanting Nora OUT of my dangerous womb and wanting her to stay in to get the phenobarbital that she needs. To make matters worse, I have an excess amount of fluid (mild polyhydramnios) which makes it harder for me to feel Nora’s movements. She has been sluggish and lethargic lately and it scares me. I think of all the babies (in “normal” pregnancies) who have been stillborn during the last weeks and days of pregnancy. I know her heart could stop at any moment. The boys kiss my belly CONSTANTLY and tell me how much they love “their baby.” It is the sweetest and most terrifying thing. I can’t imagine how heartbroken they would be if we lost her. All of these fears seem to be culminating right at the end of my pregnancy, which is, ironically, the safest part of my pregnancy probably. Dr. Moise told me today not to worry and that I WILL be driving home to Alabama with Nora ALIVE. I read this simple verse the other day and it was just what I needed.

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Somehow, after all these years, it is still not my first reaction (usually) to trust God when I am afraid. I don’t know why that is…maybe my sin nature or my stubbornness or pride. I am making a conscious effort today and over the next couple of weeks to put my trust in God when I am afraid. I don’t need to put my trust in my ability to count her kicks or in the doctor’s ability to get her here safely (although both of those things are very important.) Ultimately, her life is in God’s hands and I will choose to trust Him. That is what brings me peace and quiets my heart.

I know I have shared this letter before, but I want to share it again. On this day, three years ago I wrote a letter to my daughter. I had such a strong sense that she was coming and I would have a daughter next. We had our two boys and were just beginning to talk about maybe having a third baby. I felt compelled to write this letter to my girl. I’ll share it again because it brings me comfort and I feel like it applies to Lucy as well as Nora.

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                                                                              07-08-12

To My Daughter,

I feel your creation on the horizon. Like the smell of a rainstorm coming- a beautiful rainstorm that’s been prayed for. I see your Maker readying Himself to make you. I can’t wait to meet you. I know you’re coming. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do. You are wanted so very much. You are coming and I am hopefully waiting with open arms; my sweet, beautiful daughter to be.

Love, Mommy

Psalm 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

I love knowing that all of Nora’s days have already been written down in God’s book and the number of them is completely out of my control. I can’t wait to meet her.

We still need your prayers and are so thankful that you have stuck with us throughout this long pregnancy. Please pray that Nora continues to flourish in my womb and arrives ALIVE and healthy. Please pray that we have childcare whenever my labor starts so that Josh can be there for his daughter’s birth. Our next appointment is on Monday, July 13th. I will keep everybody updated!