Slightly Anemic

I’m now 25 weeks and 3 days pregnant and the baby is still doing well (poor little guy still doesn’t have a name though!) We are so very grateful to have made it this far without needing an IUT. My next appointment is on Monday when I’m 26 weeks and 2 days. At 26 weeks Nora was having her second intrauterine blood transfusion. Here are baby boy’s MCA scan numbers over the past few weeks:

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You can see that his numbers have gradually increased over the weeks but he is still staying well under the 1.5 cutoff. Right now he is probably slightly anemic but there are no other signs of trouble on his ultrasounds. His heart looks beautiful. Actually, all of his organs look beautiful (such a blessing) and there is no extra fluid anywhere. He is measuring about two weeks ahead and weighs almost 2 pounds. We are thrilled to see our boy do so well and we give God all the praise for this miracle.

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In the past couple of weeks we have finally started explaining to Nora that there is a baby brother in Mommy’s belly and that one day he will come home to stay. This is a huge leap of faith for me because we don’t actually know if he will come home or go to heaven, but lately we’ve been feeling more hopeful than ever that he will survive, so we let the secret out. I’m also HUGE and Nora was starting to wonder what was going on with Mommy’s weird body. I just remember so vividly trying to explain to 2 year old Asher that baby Lucy wasn’t going to come home like we had said and that she had gone to heaven instead. It was terrible and it was so hard for him to wrap his little mind around the concept. I wanted to protect Nora from feeling that loss if her baby brother died so I waited much longer to tell her about the pregnancy than the boys (they knew as soon as I came home with a permacath sticking out of my chest at 10 weeks.) Nora is SO excited about her baby brother and talks about all the things she wants to do with him. In fact, we sat on my bed two nights ago, just Nora and me, having a real heart to heart conversation for the first time. We talked all about the baby and the fun things she would get to do with him once he gets here. It was so special because I felt this sweet connection to my daughter, like we were friends, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out that I would have a daughter I could keep. Anyway, Nora told me she was going to rock her baby brother, sing to him (she sang me the song she made up for him), put his socks and hat on him, give him milk, give him a bath and when he falls asleep she will shout, “Wake up beebee!” so he can be awake with her (we’ll have to work on that last part.) She also said we should name him “Beebee Callum.” Goodness, she has a lot of ideas and plans for a baby she hasn’t even met yet. With each adorable proclamation of hers my heart trembled and I prayed, “Oh Lord, let it be. Let her hold him and sing her special song to him and even wake him up when hes’ napping, I don’t mind. Please let us experience life with our boy.”

Please continue to pray for our son, that God would strengthen him in this fight for life and protect him from harm. Please pray that Nora will get to be a big sister and meet her baby brother alive one day this fall. I will try to do a better job of updating the blog more frequently. Usually, no news is good news, though!

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Ultrasound #13

Yesterday I had my 13th ultrasound and it wasn’t as great as the previous 12 have been, unfortunately. I was 18 weeks and 2 days yesterday and it looks like my antibodies are starting to affect baby. His MoM levels were around 1.3 yesterday and all of his previous scans have been less than 1.1 so there definitely was a jump this past week. Dr. Trevett also noticed that baby’s bowels looked slightly echogenic on the ultrasound. This means the bowels/intestines looked brighter on ultrasound than usual which can be normal or can be a sign of fetal anemia. Dr. Trevett felt uneasy with the jump in baby’s numbers and the possible echogenic bowels so he wanted me to go be seen by Dr. Moise in Houston this Thursday. We were kind of scrambling at that point to get the appointment set up and trying to get things set up at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston as fast as possible (we can’t afford to stay in a hotel but it takes a while to get in at the RMH.) I wasn’t TOO nervous because the baby really did look great otherwise on the ultrasound. He was very active and there were no signs of hydrops. His heart looked perfect and heart function was good. My amniotic fluid levels are still normal as well. Nora’s MoM at 18 weeks was 1.48 so I still feel pretty good that this baby is at 1.3. It WAS a pretty big jump in just a week so I do feel more nervous now.

Anyway, as we were making all of the arrangements to go to Houston and I was trying to wrap my mind around the situation, Dr. Moise called me and asked how baby looked on ultrasound and I told him about the echogenic bowels, the MoM levels, etc. and he thought that I probably didn’t need to come all the way to Houston yet. He said he has never seen a baby with (accurate) MoMs less than 1.5 who was actually anemic. He also discussed everything with Dr. Trevett and the new plan is to have another ultrasound with Dr. Trevett this Thursday in Atlanta and if the baby is worse, I will go to Houston. Dr. Moise also reminded me that it is normal for MoMs to go up one week and down the next week. The thing that is concerning is when there is a consistent upward trend, but even then baby is safe until the MoM reaches 1.5. Dr. Moise does want me to redo the three rounds of plasmapheresis (treatments I had earlier in the pregnancy to remove antibodies from my blood) and then have two back to back rounds of IVIG. Since the plasmapheresis got my titer from 512 down to 64 last time he is hoping it will work well again to lower my titer and buy baby some more time before he needs a blood transfusion in utero. At the moment my titer is 512.

I am on board with this plan but I am really hoping that I don’t have to have the permacath surgically placed again. The specialist is wanting to place another permacath in order to do the plasmapheresis treatments but I’m trying to see if we can do them using my port and an IV instead (they have to have two lines of access during plasmapheresis.) The permacath is this big thing they sew into my chest that runs through my jugular right down to the opening of my heart.

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The doctors have to use x-ray guidance during the procedure to insert the permacath which could expose the baby to x-ray radiation. It’s also painful, uncomfortable and I can’t take a shower or swim with it in. It increases my risk for infection and blood clots also. I would hate to have the permacath placed just for three rounds of plasmapheresis. This is the port I have in now. It’s under the skin and much more comfortable and I can get it wet.

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Please pray that I can avoid the permacath somehow and that the ultrasound this Thursday shows a healthy baby and no signs of anemia. My side effects from the weekly IVIG infusions have finally started easing up a little so thank you to everyone who has prayed for us regarding that. It is so wonderful not to deal with daily migraines and the nausea is even starting to lessen which is a HUGE blessing. I’ll update as soon as I can after the ultrasound on Thursday!

Baby Update- 17 Weeks

Another good update, thank you Lord! Our baby’s weekly scans are still looking perfect and he is thriving so far. We thought we would be moving MCA scans from once a week to twice per week, but he keeps looking so good on ultrasound, and his numbers are showing no anemia, so we are still able to scan only once per week. I am amazed at how well baby boy is doing! He is even doing better than Nora was at this gestation, which is a miracle. Here is a side by side look at all of my kell babies’ MCA numbers. Remember, once the number gets over 1.5 the doctors know baby is anemic and baby either needs an intrauterine blood transfusion or delivery.

14 Weeks:  Lucy—  Nora—  Baby Boy 1.03

15 Weeks: Lucy—  Nora 1.3-1.48  Baby Boy 1.06

16 Weeks: Lucy—  Nora 1.16-1.34 Baby Boy 1.07

17 Weeks: Lucy 2.5 Nora 1.2-1.3  Baby Boy 1.03

18 Weeks: Lucy 2.7 Nora 1.48  Baby Boy–1.3

Every week that passes means baby’s survival rate goes up just a little bit. Only a few more weeks to viability and I can breathe a little bit easier. Last week at 16 weeks baby was measured for the first time and he weighed about 6 ounces, which is a good size for a baby at that gestation. I had my titer checked last week to see if my antibody level had gone back up. It started at 512 (8 and above is considered critical) and after my last plasmapheresis treatment it was all the way down to 64! But yesterday I found out that it is back up to 512, which was kind of discouraging but not surprising. The same thing happened during my pregnancy with Nora, although it never got nearly as low as 64 after the plasmapheresis. Thankfully, even though my titer bounced back up to 1,024 with Nora, the weekly IVIG infusions still worked and kept Nora safe from my antibodies until about 24 weeks. So, even though my titer is high again, it doesn’t mean the IVIG isn’t working. It is obviously working because our baby isn’t anemic yet. He is always very active on ultrasound. I was really concerned when I didn’t feel him moving at 15 weeks like I did with my other four. We discovered that I have an anterior placenta which means the placenta is covering the front of my uterus and is acting like a cushion when baby kicks. They told me that I probably won’t feel him move for a long time. Thankfully, as I type this I can feel him kicking and squirming so that is comforting and exciting. Because I have an anterior placenta, the doctor will have to go through my placenta with the needle when we do IUTs.

Feeling the baby move and seeing him on ultrasound are proving to be very important bonding moments for me. After a woman loses a baby and is pregnant again, she usually struggles to be hopeful and expectant like most pregnant women are. I am often shocked when I see women announcing their pregnancies with wording such as “New baby arriving October 2017” because they just expect that their pregnancy will end with a living baby. Such confidence and hope! I couldn’t conjure it up, no matter how hard I tried. There is an innate sense of “self-protection” that kicks in after losing a baby. It’s primal and impossible to ignore, just like the love we have for our children. Yes, I will first pack this baby’s diaper bag for a stillbirth with blankets and tiny hats. I somehow feel safer if I prepare for every possible scenario in some small way. Then I will hopefully repack it with micro preemie clothes and items for a long NICU stay. Then, hopefully assuming we get past that point, I will finally pack his diaper bag in preparation for a living, full term baby with diapers and pacifiers and cute outfits, just like I did for Nora.

If a baby loss mom also has a high risk pregnancy, that only adds to the fear and anxiety. With Nora and this baby, when I saw the two pink lines on my pregnancy test I didn’t think, “OH, I’m having a baby!” I was filled with fear and awe and adrenaline, wondering whether this would end in another life altering tragedy or a breathing, living baby in my arms. I wasn’t REALLY able to savor my pregnancy with Nora or celebrate my second daughter until she was in my arms, alive, and then it all rushed on me at once, flooding me with the most delicious feeling of relief I’ve ever felt. Nine months of restrained hope suddenly released and poured out until my heart overflowed. And to this day it still overflows with awe and thankfulness and relief that she is here. Now I am in that waiting period yet again, wondering whether our family is heading toward some terrible precipice that will tear us and mangle us permanently, or if we are headed toward another of God’s miracles waiting for us like the best present under the tree in December. The waxing and waning of fear, peace, anxiety and hope are part of our everyday lives. But when I feel his little nudges and kicks and when I see him on the ultrasound rubbing his eyes with his tiny fists, practicing his breathing in and out, crossing his legs, waving and yawning, I feel that love and adoration wash over me. The pure strength of a mother’s love pushes all of that fear into the background. I feel connected to him and dedicated to him and HOPEFUL about meeting him here on earth. Thank you for praying for our boy. Hopefully he will continue to fight and conquer these antibodies week after week until he is safely in my arms.

Here are a few ultrasound pictures from his 17 week ultrasound yesterday:

Definitely a boy!

A Bit of Good News

I’m now a couple days shy of 13 weeks and the fear is starting to set in. This is the most dangerous time of the pregnancy for the baby. My antibodies can now attack the baby since (s)he is making red blood cells, but if the baby gets anemic there is nothing the doctors can do at this point to help. The earliest the doctors can perform an intrauterine blood transfusion is 15/16 weeks.

So far, the baby looks great and I can now find baby’s heartbeat on my home doppler, so that is always comforting to hear. My first week of intensive treatments in Atlanta went really well. I have been so incredibly impressed with the medical treatment I have received at Northside Hospital. A couple of weeks ago I met with my MFM, Dr. Trevett (who reminds me so much of Dr. Moise) and my OB, Dr. Howard, and received treatment from my other two specialists Dr. Murphy and Dr. Franco. Dr. Murphy was in charge of my plasmapheresis treatments and Dr. Franco is in charge of my IVIG treatments. My insurance once again denied coverage of the plasmapheresis and IVIG treatments but Dr. Franco and his nurse, Val, worked so hard to get the treatments covered. They never asked me to do anything, they just handled it themselves and now the treatments are covered! Dr. Trevett’s nurse, Tami, has also been phenomenal, coordinating all of my treatments and appointments with various specialists and at different locations. I’m so thankful for this team of people who are working so hard to give my baby the best chance at life. I also have Dr. Moise following from afar and he is ready for us if baby gets in trouble early. This is such a different experience from my pregnancy with Lucy and the first half of my pregnancy with Nora. No fighting and challenging the doctors, no begging for the right treatment. I don’t have to print off medical studies to show the doctors how to take care of my baby, I don’t have to convince them that my baby is worth saving. I don’t have to doubt the care I am receiving. I trust my doctors and I have confidence in them. They respect me enough to listen when I tell them something and they collaborate with me for the best treatment possible. This is how healthcare should work. This is how a doctor-patient relationship should look. It is so worth the drive to have such amazing medical care and to have peace of mind. I wish I had known all of this when I was pregnant with Lucy. She would probably be alive today if I had only known in 2013 what I know now.

We had the genetic blood test done at 10 weeks to check baby for genetic conditions (trisomies) and got the results back at 11 weeks. We are so thankful to have a genetically normal, healthy baby! What a blessing! We also learned what the baby’s gender is but we won’t be telling anyone until after we find out the baby’s blood type. We feel like the blood type is more important than the gender so we will reveal the gender after we tell everyone whether baby is kell positive or kell negative. We should know those results in about 2-3 weeks. Thankfully this time I don’t have to do an amniocentesis like we did with Nora. I will be trying a new, non-invasive maternal blood test at 14 weeks to find out whether baby is kell positive or kell negative. Please pray that this baby is kell negative!

Some other good news we received came in the form of my antibody titer. I had three rounds of plasmapheresis (when they remove the plasma from my blood.) The plasma is where the antibodies are contained so the plasmapheresis treatments are used to try to lower the antibody titer (level) in my blood. When I had these treatments done with Nora my titer barely dipped at all and shot right back up to where it started (1,024.) I was expecting the same thing to happen with this pregnancy but we just found out that my titer after the third round of plasmapheresis was 64! What in the world?! My titer has never, ever been that low before so we are very happy about these results. We aren’t sure exactly why my titer went down so much this time…Could the baby be kell negative? Could the plasmapheresis treatments in Atlanta be better than the ones I had in Alabama? Maybe they removed more plasma this time? Could my body just be responding better to the treatments this time around? We don’t know, but we are thankful that the treatments seem to be working well so far. Often, in subsequent pregnancies, a woman’s titer goes up and the antibodies become more aggressive. It is rare for the antibodies to become less aggressive or for titers to go down in subsequent sensitized pregnancies. The fact that my titer got so low doesn’t mean that my baby will be less affected than Nora. It just means that the treatments are working and we can assume that my antibodies have not become more aggressive, which is very good news.

Please continue to pray for our baby. My next ultrasound is on April 24th when I am 14 weeks pregnant. I will update you after that appointment and then hopefully soon after that we will do a blood type/gender reveal! Thank you for following along and being so supportive. Our baby is blessed to have such an army of encouragers rooting him/her on!

Here is my last ultrasound of baby at around 10 weeks. Super active with a good, strong heartbeat.

 

Pregnant!

Well, that happened a lot faster than we expected but here I am, nine weeks and four days pregnant. Baby is due on our anniversary and my mother in law’s birthday, October 21st. Since it took at least 13 months to conceive Nora and I just turned 36 we thought it would take us a long time to get pregnant. I read online that it takes a year and a half for the average 36 year old to conceive. We were shocked to see two pink lines so quickly. It felt unreal, like something that happens to other people, not me. We are so thankful for this baby’s life.

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The first night after I got a positive test I was overcome with anxiety. I didn’t tell Josh, just wanted to sit with the news by myself for a bit before telling anyone. The whole night it felt like I was wrestling with demons of fear, anxiety and doubt. I absolutely could not sleep. My mind went through all of the terrible things that happened to Lucy, all of the intense treatments and procedures I would have to go through, the worry I would have to live with day after day while this baby is in danger in my womb, the fact that some people will think we are ridiculous for wanting another baby, the cost of the medical treatments, all the times I will have to ignore my boys and my Nora to focus on taking care of this baby. SO MUCH FEAR. And then suddenly, words of hope came to me and I shouted them into the darkness in my mind, “And my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.” And the voices of fear and anxiety and doubt immediately were silenced. Peace washed over me and I have been filled with an incredible peace about this baby ever since. I actually had to google the words the next morning to see if it was a real verse and it is from:

2 Samuel 22:29-37  For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God- His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.

Josh and I have been praying specifically that this baby would be kell negative and that God would fill us with peace throughout the pregnancy. We have also been praying that God would not only give me courage to get through the pregnancy, but would allow me to actually enjoy the pregnancy since it will be my last. Just a couple of weeks after we found out we were pregnant our church had a “healing service” which wasn’t anything weird…they just called people who needed healing to come to the front for prayer if they wanted to. I felt compelled to go to the front even though no one knew about my pregnancy yet. Josh and I went to the front and I was prayed over by a few people. The main one who prayed for me was a woman who had lost a baby to full term stillbirth. She prayed over me for a couple minutes and then said, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that you will be filled with peace throughout this pregnancy and He wants you to ENJOY the pregnancy.” What a sweet word from God and confirmation that He has been hearing our pleas.

I want to write more but I’m out of time. Tomorrow I will have surgery in Atlanta to have a chest port placed and a neck catheter placed. The neck catheter will be for my upcoming plasmapheresis treatments and my port will be for my IVIG treatments. Please pray for peace and courage for me. During my last pregnancy the worst, most painful part of the entire pregnancy was the surgery to insert my permacath. The doctors changed their minds at the last minute and decided they didn’t want to give me any pain meds during the procedure. It was an excruciating, panic filled procedure. Please pray that they will give me appropriate pain medication this time and the baby will tolerate the procedure. I’ll try to update after the surgery and write a blog post with more details about my treatment plan.

Thank you so much for joining us yet again on another crazy pregnancy journey. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do.

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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.

Lately

I have been so bad at regularly updating the blog these past few months! I have several posts written in my head that I really want to type out but I just cannot find the time to do it. Part of me feels guilty about this since I used to be so consistent with my blogging, but part of me also feels relieved that there have been no big tragedies in my life lately to blog about. I am busy with life, regular life with my three earth babies, and it is wonderful. I still feel like I’m trying to reintegrate back into “normal” life, except that it is a new normal. I still struggle with the fact that I will never be the person I was before anti-kell antibodies and before my daughter died. This adjustment to my new life feels very similar to when I move to a new country. It’s disorienting at first trying to understand a new culture, learn a new language, figure out a new transportation system, make new friends, find your way around a new city, etc. I’ve realized that it takes me at least a whole year in a new country to start feeling like I’m not just a visitor anymore, like I belong. I still feel like I don’t quite belong here even though she died three and a half years ago.

For the rest of my time here on earth my life will be divided into two parts…no, not even two parts, two completely different lives. There was my life before Lucy and there is my life after Lucy. It feels like I am just now figuring out how to make this new life work. I am feeling more confident finding my way around this new country. The culture shock is not as terrible now, but it still jolts me some days. Often, the cloud of sadness settles on me and overtakes everything. I can’t believe I’m missing her whole life. I can’t believe I have to actually go through the rest of my life not knowing my daughter, not interacting with her on a daily basis. Most of the time, though, I just feel thankful. I’m thankful for all that God has done for me. I’m thankful for the many ways He continually fulfills His promise to me that He made on the day Lucy died. He said He would redeem her death and my pain, and He is slowly doing that, day by day (this is one of the blog posts I need to write!)

I started working part time again teaching English to German families and I love it. It is so rewarding and fulfilling for me and the extra income is desperately needed. We finished paying off all of Nora’s medical bills, but we still have our credit card bill to pay off. Normally we don’t use our credit card at all unless there is an emergency but after we lost all of our savings on the “adoption” and I moved to Houston last year we had to use it on a regular basis. Hopefully we can now pay it off over the next year.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the fact that if I didn’t have anti-kell antibodies, we would have already been trying again for our next baby. We would have to get pregnant this month or next month if we wanted Nora to have a sibling two years younger than her. It hurts me to see Liam and Asher play and wrestle while Nora sits all alone on the sidelines, smiling sweetly at her brothers. She should have a three year old sister. I wish I could be pregnant right now with her little brother or sister. I don’t want her to be all alone without a sibling friend close in age. It is another loss that hurts me every day. We are not trying to conceive, by the way. Here is Nora playing with her stuffed animal friends on her little couch that she got for her birthday.

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Nora is now 14 months old and is still such a content, joyful baby. I love having a little girl in the house. She is so different from her brothers. She loves shoes, clothes and jewelry and tries to dress herself already. She is very maternal like I was when I was little. Her baby dolls and stuffed animals have all been rocked to sleep, bottle fed, kissed, patted, dressed, undressed, dressed again and even sung to. Nora loves talking and singing. Her favorite sentences are “I love you.” and “I like this.” I ask her, “Nora, who is your hero?” and she says, “Doc Mo” which is her version of Dr. Moise. Last night she was playing with her Daddy before bed and she pointed to her belly and said, “Tickle this.” She is finally walking all over the place and trying to keep up with her brothers. They are still obsessed with her. They think she’s hilarious and adorable and they can’t believe how soft her skin is. I often hear one of them say something like, “Mommy, Nora is so cute she’s making my eyes cry.” They are gentle around her and very protective of her. If one of them accidentally knocks her down or hurts her somehow, I always end up comforting the big brother more than I have to comfort Nora. She might cry for a minute but her brother will cry for half an hour and then feel guilty all day about how he knocked her over and hurt her. In these moments I feel extra thankful that she didn’t die in my womb. Her brothers would have been absolutely devastated. I’m so glad they didn’t have to go through that heartache again. Liam asks often about Scarlet and Lucy and he says on a regular basis, “What if we had been able to keep Lucy, Scarlet AND Nora? I would have loved that.” He just said it again this morning. Our lives are interwoven with grief and joy and “what might have beens” but they are anchored in the steadiness of God’s love and goodness. Our joy and our stability are found in Him and we are so thankful that He is unchanging. Here are a few pictures of Nora lately and a video from her first birthday that I forgot to post earlier.

 

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Nora and five year old Asher

When big brother “helps” Nora get a sip and almost drowns her instead. Ha!

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That time Nora loved the little chick so much she almost squeezed it to death.

Mommy and Nora

Nora feeds a baby goat at the barnyard.

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Feeding ducks with Liam.

That tiny ponytail!

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This morning she tried out the sandbox for the very first time and scooped shovels of sand onto her head.