Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Three's the number

I remember fondly, pressing on the right side of my belly just below my ribs. Annoyed at the invasion of her space, Aubree would kick back. I felt bad for annoying her, but loved the assurance that she was still with us. If she could just hold on for three more weeks she maybe had a chance at life in this world. Sadly, a chance that only would have come from another family experiencing profound loss and choosing organ donation, one Aubree would have needed to have been compatible with.

Three years ago today was the last time I left those kicks. The next day I would push on her foot, and she wouldn't kick back. Desperately searching for her heartbeat with a stethoscope would only reveal my own beating faster and faster as the reality of what was happening hit me.

Three weeks ago I felt a familiar rush of panic and excitement as that second pink line showed up. Three days later...it was over; before it really had a chance to begin.

This week I will turn 33. Aubree would be 3. And I wonder about the 3 little ones I never got the chance to know.

They say things come in 3's. Maybe that means someday soon we can get a third little one to join us here on earth. Aly has asked when we can have another baby. She told me since I call her "Pumpkin" and call J "Potato", she wants another sister that we can nickname "Peanut" :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Call?

It started years ago. When I was young, I would devour stories of foreign missionaries. One of my favorites was Amy Carmichael. I used to dream of one day rescuing kiddos and adopting them as my own.

Then I grew up. Career, married, kids. The foreign thing isn't happening, and the more I learn about it the less I want to adopt from another country. But I hold out hope for fostering someday. It's always been a part of my life plan. I just need to convince DH to get on board 😉

Last Saturday, I was just hanging out at home with DH. The thoughts and noise in my head reached a crescendo and broke.


And then, a still, small voice. "What if you fostered LGBT kids, specifically? What if you sought them out - on purpose - to show them unconditional love?"

I brushed it off. This definitely wasn't the time to bring it up to DH. We were exhausted from the crazy week, and both went to sleep shortly after.

But the thought never left my mind. It's stayed there, nagging at me. If I really want LGBT equality in society and in the church, why NOT step up to the plate, so to speak.

And then tonight, on my way home from work, I heard this. And I cried all the way home.

Where we go from here, I am not sure. But what I do know is this - I cannot ignore where my heart is leading.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Birthday!

Jaydon Thomas was born early yesterday afternoon. 6lbs 4oz and 18" long. He's a tiny little peanut like his sister was :)

We got to the hospital at 6am for our induction appointment. They got us checked into a delivery room and started the pitocin around 7:15am. We settled in thinking this would take awhile. I was really concerned an induction would take longer than my previous labors, especially since we were booting Jaydon out a couple weeks early, and I wanted to do everything I could to avoid that.

I already knew I would get a epidural at some point, so I signed the consent forms and the nurse said to let her know when I was ready for it. Knowing I could "tap out" whenever I needed to, I tried to work with the medicine and contractions as much as possible to help labor progress. Since I wasn't allowed to walk due to the monitoring for Jaydon, I stood by the side of the bed or used a yoga ball to help keep myself as upright as possible through the contractions. As the contractions became stronger, I started to focus more and breathe through them. No moaning or crying - no noises at all. I was zeroed in on the task at hand and seriously focused. At about 11 I had enough and asked for the epi so I could rest for awhile.

I could still feel the pressure of the contractions, but the epi took away the pain. I laid back and tried to rest for awhile. I watched the heart rate monitor as my contractions came and went and quickly figured that Jaydon had the cord around his neck. His heart rate got lower and lower as the contractions got stronger. The nurse also noticed his heart rate from the monitors, and she came in and rolled me to my side to help relieve the pressure on him. The movement was enough to move him into position, though, and I told the her that he was ready. After checking to confirm, she called the doctor and we were ready to go!

While they were all getting ready, I started to panic and cry. This was it. This was the finish line. Would he come out crying? Was he OK? Flashbacks of Aubree's completely silent birth crashed over me as I sobbed. But I quickly willed myself into composure and focused even more than I had before. I don't really remember much of the commotion around me. The nurse told me I could do a couple of practice pushes and I think my body just took over. I didn't make a sound - just breathed through the pressure and focused on strong, even, controlled pushes. The doctor joked that she was having a hard time knowing what I was doing because I wasn't talking or making any indication that I was in pain. In the last two pushes the heart rate monitor on Jaydon went completely silent. And then he was out at 12:53 - just over five and a half hours from the time we started!

He had the cord around his neck once and was very purple - and not crying. The doctor started to clean him off and he began to fuss a bit. No strong cries, but he was making sounds!! They laid him on me and continued to clean him up. As soon as I started talking to him he was quiet again :) I think I got my wish for a cuddly baby. He's very content as long as he's being held, and he prefers to have momma holding him.

Jaydon means "God has heard." Every tear along the way. Every fear - rational or not. Every time I dared to hope that things would be OK this time. And every time I cried from guilt because I knew Jaydon wouldn't be here if Aubree still was. We reached the finish line of the longest trial we've endured so far. Nine months of dancing between grief, joy, fear, and loss of innocence.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reaching the finish line!

So much has happened since my last post! Poor Jaydon - he's obviously the third child ;)

May confirmed for us that we had a heart-healthy little boy on the way. We've named him Jaydon Thomas. Jaydon means "God has heard" and Thomas means "twin." His middle name is after DH, but I realized that Jaydon and Aubree are technically "Irish twins" as their due dates are the same week, just a year apart.

The third week of May DH and I sat down with a mortgage broker to see if it would be possible to rent out our house and purchase another that would give our growing family some more room. By Memorial day we had a budget in place and a list of houses to see. The first week of June we had a pending contract on a new place and renters lined up for our old one! Everything lined up perfectly and we were able to move to a house in a very family-friendly neighborhood where DD can play outside and there are great schools just across the street.

As July progressed I began to get itchy on my hands and feet again. This happened with Aubree in the last week of my pregnancy. The doctors said it was cholestasis of pregnancy, or ICP, but they thought it was nothing to be concerned about. I've since learned it can be very dangerous to a baby if left untreated and the recurrence rate is very high. Itching all over without a rash is one big sign, so when it started up I went to the doc to request tests and treatment. So now we are doing weekly scans to check on Jaydon and will induce at 37 weeks as the chance of stillbirth afterwards goes up and its just not worth that risk.

So we have just a few weeks left until our little guy comes home with us. I've started to allow myself to believe that it will really happen. We got a crib for him tonight and his room is just about ready to go. Clothes are washed and settled in the dresser. Car seat is cleaned up and bases ready to install in the cars. We are about as ready as we can be. I just can't wait to hold him in my arms and bring him home!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A year ago today

One year ago today I went for a routine prenatal exam. DH had been coming along to all of my appointments, but for some reason he couldn't make this one. I assured him it wasn't a big deal - no ultrasounds, nothing special. Just pee in a cup, check my blood pressure, and get a quick listen to baby's heart beat.

However, at my appointment, the doctor couldn't find Aubree's heart beat. A quick ultrasound showed that something was very, very wrong. Over the next couple of days we learned that our little girl's heart was very broken and we were told she would not survive to birth. I spent the next 15 weeks researching Heterotaxy and all of Aubree's complex heart issues, consulting with doctors across the country, and praying for a miracle. But Aubree decided to write her own ending and left when she was ready. I carried her for 31 weeks and gave birth to her in a silent delivery room. We spent eight hours with her before we said goodbye and left the hospital empty handed.


Today I sat in that same office for a routine prenatal exam. We found out at the beginning of February that Baby #3 was coming in mid-October - nearly the exact same due date one year later. Today's appointment went well. Baby's heart beat was hard to find, but only because the little one kept moving away from the doppler. Apparently his or her sisters have stretched things out enough that there's plenty of room to run around in there ;) We did get to hear a normal heart rate for just a few seconds in between kicks and flips. We've already had two ultrasounds and have a few more scheduled to keep a very close eye on things as baby grows. So far, everything is measuring perfectly and baby is doing great. And just like his or her big sisters, baby is a thumb-sucker :)

I wish I could say that I was excited. I am not unhappy by any means, but pregnancy after a loss is unimaginably difficult. Gone is the innocence of getting a positive pregnancy test and blissfully day dreaming about nursery colors. Through this journey I have met some wonderful mommas who have lost babies for various reasons. Now I feel like I know all too well just how terribly wrong things can go. Just because we have no indication of heart defects doesn't mean I won't have a freak placental abruption during labor, or have a cord accident at 39 weeks. Sure, the odds of that happening are very very small. But so were the odds of Aubree getting Heterotaxy. We had better chances of winning the Powerball Jackpot than of her getting Heterotaxy and all of her complex heart issues on top of it (and yes, I did buy a few lotto tickets to see if that bad luck could extend the other way - but sadly it didn't). I am extremely glad this baby is developing normally. But until I hold a screaming baby in my arms and get to take that baby home with me, I am not letting myself get too excited.

In three more weeks we will have a very detailed scan to check every part of baby's anatomy. We will hopefully also get to learn what flavor of human is currently incubating :) Although I am anxious to have a name and to start preparing for a baby, I am really torn on finding out the sex. A girl would be great because I had my heart set on a sister for DD. But a girl will never replace Aubree. A boy would be nice because we have two girls. But a boy will also mean that DD won't have a little sister (at least not right now). It's going to be such a bittersweet moment. No matter what the sex is, it's going to be a very painful reminder of who we are missing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Joy

In spite of all her drama and whining at times, I am so in love with this little girl.
She is so smart.
She is fiercely independent.
She has a caring spirit and loves to take care of her friends.
She loves to entertain. She will sing and dance in front of 1 person or 200.
She has her own sense of style. We often have to take an extra peek into the dressup box before leaving the house so she can find that perfect "ti-wawa" or "neck-a-lice" to complement her outfit.
She is learning to stall at bedtime. Requests for snuggles, drinks, snacks, ointment for her "tapped" lips, feed the fish, find another blanket, and a million times asking us "What's that noise??!?"

I love the little person she is becoming. It is so fun to watch her grow and change, to watch her likes and preferences form. She keeps us on our toes, for sure!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Checking In

It has been 5 and a half months since we held our baby and said hello and goodbye in the same breath. Sometimes it feels like seconds ago, and other times it feels like another lifetime.

For the most part life has gone on. I have been back at work since September, Aly is growing and changing by leaps and bounds, and life at home tends to fall back into the same regular routine. We are working on potty training with Aly, which is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. Of course. I really need to learn to stop making plans for these kinds of things ;)

But part of my heart is still so empty, still very broken. And for the last two weeks it seems like relentless hits just keep on coming. The dozen random notes to let me know people are thinking of my precious baby and still saying prayers for me bring me to my knees. I am so grateful that people still remember. But it brings things back to the surface all over again (yet still worth it to know that others know Aubree and miss her too).

And then there are the very painful triggers. This past week I was caught off-guard at work in a meeting with people I had not seen in several months, if not years. "Oh, Sarah, how's the baby?" Such an innocent question to ask. Yet, it left me sitting there completely befuddled. Baby? What baby? I don't have a baby? Oh, Aly? She's 2 now, going on 15, and full of little-girl drama. Definitely not a baby anymore!

"No, the baby. How's the baby?" And that's when it hit me. Crap. What do I say? Oh my goodness, everyone is looking at me. Seconds felt like hours...my heart was racing and my stomach felt sick. Why was everyone staring at me? How long was I sitting there with my mouth open and my eyes fixed on the wall in the background? What do I say to someone I barely know, let alone a room full of strangers? "Um, she passed away," was all I could mutter, while looking at the ground and wishing I could run away.

But the questions didn't stop there. "How did she pass?" Ok, normal question. This one I could answer. Her little heart was broken and couldn't make it. "So, are you trying again?" When I stalled on answering again the question was asked repeated. Several times. WOW. Searing pain coursed through my body as I began to panic. First of all, from co-workers I barely know, how is a question like that appropriate? Secondly, that is a really painful topic for me right now. The truth is that it's been left up to God's timing since we got the clearance from my doctor in September. And each month that passes with negative tests followed by a period brings me to tears. I feel like something is wrong with me, even though they say there isn't. I feel like God is punishing me, even though I know in my head this isn't true. Honestly I don't even remember how I managed to answer this question or the several minutes following.

And then, to top it all off, was the seemingly "funny" comment made by an acquaintance. We were talking about kiddos and how they all have very different personalities. Aly is our independent child, and I had stated that I knew Aubree would have been our clingy, needy baby. "Oh, well, guess you dodged a bullet there, huh?" WHAT THE HELL?!?! Yes, we sure did. I am so glad that we aren't being inconvenienced by a healthy, living child. You are right, a dead baby is absolutely preferable to a colicky one. I wish I could have said those things. Instead I just stared blankly for a second and tried to change the subject.

For the most part there are still way more good days than bad. And when the bad times come I am able to re-direct my thoughts and actions most of the time. But there are days when I just can't seem to function. It's always annoying to find a new trigger since I really don't know what it is going to be. The other day I was eating a grapefruit and had to throw it away because it reminded me too much of Aubree. A freaking grapefruit! *sigh*