Slight Improvement!

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement over the past few days. Today’s ultrasound was better than Monday’s and baby boy’s MoM levels were slightly lower than they were on Monday! Today they were around 1.22 and the previous levels were around 1.3

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He looked really healthy and wasn’t showing any signs of anemia on the ultrasound. Dr. Moise and Dr. Trevett still want me to redo my three rounds of plasmapheresis and have back to back IVIG infusions afterwards to try to keep baby safe from my antibodies a little bit longer. Unfortunately my nephrologist (the specialist in charge of my plasmapheresis) refused to order the treatments unless I have a permacath so they will be surgically placing the permacath (again) tomorrow morning in Atlanta. Then I will come home and have IVIG all day Monday before driving back to Atlanta for my plasmapheresis treatments that will happen on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I will have IVIG infusions again on Saturday and Sunday then hopefully I can let my body rest for a few days. I am trying hard not to be overwhelmed by all of this and the best way to do that is to be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for. My baby is healthy and alive at this moment. I have amazing friends and family who will drop everything to watch my kids, bring us a meal, take my kids to school, etc. and we couldn’t do any of this without them (thank you Emily and Mark, Amy and David, Shelly, Jessica and Shoney!) I also know what a great privilege it is to be given the chance to suffer in the place of my child. All of the treatments and procedures I will go through in the next week are being done to keep my son safe and to keep him from suffering like Lucy did. Not many parents are given the opportunity to experience physical pain in the place of their child, and I do not take this gift for granted. Please pray that these treatments work in keeping our boy healthy.

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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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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.

 

 

She’s Arriving Early!

So, despite our long scheduled plan to induce tomorrow, it looks like our little Nora will be arriving earlier than we thought! I came in to have some blood work done so that the blood bank could prepare the blood for Nora (in case she needs a transfusion) ahead of time. While I was here they hooked me up to the monitor and noticed that Nora had a couple of heart decelerations when I was contracting. The doctors decided to admit me and monitor Nora just to be cautious. They didn’t want to risk sending me home if she was possibly in distress.

The blood bank called after a couple of hours and said the blood was prepared and ready for Nora so the doctor decided to go ahead and start my induction around 4:00. I was already dilated 4 centimeters before they started the pitocin so that is a great start! Right now I’ve been in labor for about two or three hours and just got the epidural. It’s SO wonderful 😊 Such sweet relief and I can relax and enjoy my alone time with Josh and of course, update my blog right in the middle of labor. Josh and I are marveling at the fact that our daughter has a heartbeat and that we get to meet her in the next few hours. We are also in tears feeling all the emotions that we felt the last time we did this with Lucy. That day was so horrible, so cold and rainy and dark. Today as the sun is setting it is slanted directly through the window onto my hospital bed. We are so happy to be here. I can’t believe we made it from that day to this day. Thank you, Lord, for sustaining us. 

Please continue to pray for our Nora and for a safe delivery. Pray that she doesn’t get stressed out by the contractions and that we can avoid a c-section. Also pray that she isn’t severely anemic and that the NICU team can keep her jaundice under control. We will try to update everybody after she arrives!