Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another ultrasound

I guess the upside with appointments this pregnancy is that instead of looking forward to just hearing baby's heartbeat, like I always have in the past, I get to look forward to seeing my baby.

Yesterday was the next round of measurements. The first official follow up to the original meet with Maternal Fetal Medicine and Perinatologists. Seems strange considering how many appointments I've had in the past month!

The important stuff:
The raw numbers are bigger, Samuel's vents have increased in size. They are now measuring at 19.7mm and 22.3mm. His head is now measuring 25 weeks, so three weeks ahead as opposed to the 2 weeks ahead he was measuring last time.
Over all, the basic ratio of amount of fluid to head size really hasn't changed too much. This is good.
Optimally, the vents would have remained the same size as last time making the ratio of fluid to head size less and decreasing the pressure that is still compressing his brain against the side and top of his skull. But truthfully, we didn't expect that, so while yesterday wasn't exceptionally great news, it wasn't terrible news either.
Just more of the same, we'll keep watching and see what happens.

The dr we saw yesterday.....well, that's a different story.

The other appointments at MFM have consisted of having the u/s and the measurements done by the sonographer, and then having a Perinatologist and the genetic counselor join us for some additional looking around and reviewing of baby via u/s, then the sonographer leaves while we discuss, ask questions, make plans for the next visit.

So yesterday we had the u/s (with a wonderful sonographer!), and then she hopped up after going over measurements with us and said "I'll go get the dr." Just what we'd experienced before, and what we were expecting.

About 10 minutes passed (a loooong time!) and a dr that we've not seen or met before came in. She introduced herself, sat down and proceeded to explain that she was very familiar with our case as she was working as the head of the genetics department and they don't see hydrocephalus very often. Ok, fine. Good, you're familiar with our pics and measurements. That's great!
She then said, " are you guys doing?"
Uh, ok. Didn't seem like a genuine "how are you dealing with all of this? are you coping ok?" kind of thing, more like a 'let's throw something out there before we get a lull in conversation' kind of "how are ya?"
So I cut the crap and Aaron and I asked the two or three small questions we had.

Almost everything that came out of her mouth contradicted everything we have discussed with other drs over the past 7 weeks. Not to mention all the research we've done on our own.

She told us yesterday that this isn't necessarily "bad", we'd have to wait and see. Hello? have you seen the pictures? His brain is compressed into a thin layer. The fluid is building. This certainly isn't "good".

She told us that an MRI before birth was just a pointless expensive test and shouldn't be considered until after baby was born. Directly opposite of what the perinatologists had told us. Not to mention completely opposite of everything that leading national researchers have found over the past 10 years. Hmmm....neurosurgeon specializing in hydro research vs your opinion....which one do you think I'm going to trust? Exactly.

She then launched into telling us that there is no point in transferring my care to the peris here, that I should just keep seeing my midwife. But that at 30wks they want me doing a non stress test weekly and they will monitor my bp and weight and urine also to make sure it's done accurately. Uh, double work? double payments? I'm sure the insurance will go for that thanks.

Oh, also she said we needed to be consulting with a pediatric cardiologist, and having fetal echos done to monitor baby's heart. His heart is FINE. That is one thing they stressed repeatedly every time we've seen him. We have seen every single millimeter of his heart and it is perfect. We pointed this out and she replied "oh, well, there could be genetics issues that will cause heart problems." When Aaron questioned what the point of doing amnio was to rule those out if they aren't even taking into consideration that the amnio came back perfect she said "Well, there are a huge number of things not detected in amniocentesis. Just because it came back fine doesn't mean things aren't wrong." Silly us.

When Aaron asked about increasing head size necessitating early induction she jumped ALL over us. He said-and I remember it distinctly-"If we get through 7, 7 1/2 months and we start approaching 8-8 1/2 months and the baby's head is getting too big for a vaginal delivery, will we be able to induce at that point to avoid a c-section?"
Her reply is what cemented in my mind that it was pointless to even try discussing anything with her. That I'd just sit and let her go on and discuss it at our next appt with a different dr.
She said "ABSOLUTELY NOT! We do NOT induce early. We DO NOT induce before 39 weeks, it doesn't happen. I mean, if baby's life is in danger and things are getting bad, we could talk about MAYBE 38 or very rarely 37 weeks, but that would only be after you've had steroids for baby and an amnio to check for lung maturity. Otherwise, you may as well just terminate your baby. Inducing early is essentially terminating your baby. This isn't about YOU. This isn't about not having a surgery just because you don't want one. This is about the baby's outcome. We will not take the baby out early to avoid surgery. No one will. You will not find a dr or hospital who will induce you before 39 weeks. No one will do it. This is about the best possible outcome for baby, not about you. And you should be delivering at the U of U. Then you are right next to the Childrens Hospital. You don't want to be stuck here recovering from surgery while they take your baby up there away from you and you don't even get to see him. Besides, it's not a big deal. It's not like having a cesarean now will make it so you can't have more kids."

I wanted to smack her. This isn't about me? Are you freaking kidding me? You don't think this also affects my well being and health? Better to have me put my own health and life at more risk for a few more days of baby in utero and just deal with the repercussions for my other 7 children? WHO ARE YOU?! Have you not read a single medical journal in your entire life that plainly spells out the added risks of a major surgery instead of a vaginal birth for both mom and baby? Are you not aware that the vast majority of Obstetricians will not take efforts to halt labor after 35 or 36 weeks? Are you not aware that "full term" babies are 37 weeks? I desperately wanted to point out that I have had an elective induction at 38 weeks! I have given birth to half of my children at 38 weeks! That does not equal non-viable babies! Should I be arrested for attempted termination for my 38wk induction? Oh. my. word. You have got to be kidding me. And I may be way out in left field here, but in my opinion, inducing for a vaginal birth at 37 weeks to avoid major surgery sure seems like a medical justification vs a personal "elective" choice.
Oh, but wait. Now let's pull the standards on hydrocephalus babies into it. The average delivery is 36 weeks-a pretty much full term baby. In utero long enough to develop well, but out soon enough to get a shunt in to relieve some of that pressure. Hmm. Some dr's will even deliver at 34 to give baby's brain more of a chance for development on a normal level without that excess pressure from fluid. And that's just scratching the surface.

I am still reeling from the fact that she told me that inducing my baby early is "essentially terminating your baby. You can't do that. You have no say in that."

I find myself needing to take deep breaths. And I am a fairly calm and level-headed person.

Having heard more than enough of her opinion on delivery, I asked if there were any modifications I needed to make to my life and activity level for baby's sake. Can I keep running? Should I be toning things down? "I don't see why you should change things. You should be fine. You won't be able to do anything in a few months, you should live it up now."

Wow. Killer wording! again!

At that point I was really sitting at the very edge of my patience. I attempt to be as respectful as possible to those around me. Especially to those involved in my medical care-I feel that most of them have earned that. But I had had enough of her opinions.

And then before she left, she talked about how sometimes babies with fluid issues produce too much amniotic fluid. I point out that I've been measuring quite a bit ahead since 16 wks. She told me that some women have extra fluid, so at the end we'll start measuring amniotic fluid in these ultrasounds as well. Some women get big with the fluid. I again point out that I have been measuring 4 to 6 weeks ahead since 16 weeks. "Is this a problem now?" I asked her. "No. Some women get big because of too much fluid and that's a problem." She then motioned toward my belly and said "pff-you're not BIG. It's not a problem." "But I am still consistently measuring large," I say. Yet again. "Yes, but you don't look big," she replies. *sigh* just because my uterus sits further back that average and doesn't try to jump out the front of my body the second I pee on a stick doesn't mean squat. The fact that my uterus is measuring ahead is a much more reliable indicator of what is going on than the fact that I don't "look big" to her.

Honestly-I cannot recall a time when I was more frustrated by a medical professional than yesterday.
Actually, I take that back. There was a nurse when I was in labor with my 4th child. After she sat in the room with me while my dr hooked me up to antibiotics due to my being group b strep positive, and hearing him say to me "you're not going anywhere-you're having this baby!", she tried to convince me to go home. why? Because I was 38 weeks pregnant. She gave birth at 42wks and her baby ended up in NICU so she was convinced that I should just go home and not have this baby. She lectured us for probably 20 minutes on this. Uh, what? My dr caught wind of it, and she was through with her shift. right then. (and then faced disciplinary action because of her actions)
But that's the only other time I can think of someone being so inappropriate to the situation.

Funny thing though-I thought to myself the entire hour long drive home "there is no way she could be a perinatologist with everything she just said. I wonder if she is even an OB?"
So when I got home I looked her up online.
Any guesses as to her position?
She is indeed head of the genetics department there. As well as at another facility. And rightly so, as she is a CLINICAL GENETICIST.
While it was slightly infuriating that someone who is a geneticist, not an OB felt the need to dictate just what would and would not happen with my care and delivery, it was also morbidly hilarious. Sure, she works with high risk OBs. I have no doubt that she picks up a lot. She's probably a brilliant scientist. But she needs to stick with the reports and numbers and clinical reports, and not with assuming the role of an obstetric care provider. Some people just don't come with bedside manner. She was not an awful person, in fact I'm sure she's a very nice person. She just has no right to be dictating my care. Or my baby's.

I made my next appointment on a day when I know for sure that the perinatologist that I would like to speak with again will be there. As well as the genetic counselor we've been working with.
I am the type of person who goes in with just a couple of questions, if that, when I have appointments. I'll then ask anything that comes to mind as we discuss things.
So for me to actually jot down a question or two or more is a huge thing.

Within minutes of my appointment yesterday I had a page and a half of questions and concerns.
I spent a good hour talking with Aaron last night trying to explain all the fallacies of what was handed us yesterday, citing research that I've read, and even basic obstetrical facts to help explain why so much of what she said yesterday was just not worth losing sleep over right now.

I am anxious to meet with an actual perinatologist again in a few weeks. I am more anxious to discuss with her my concerns with everything that was thrown at us yesterday. I am slightly wary of what will happen, and hoping that I don't end up searching for a new facility and specialists to take over my care. But in my gut, I feel like the Dr that we met with at our first visit to MFM will be consistent with the things we discussed weeks ago when we first met. It was a relief in the beginning to feel comfortable with a specialist and not feel like she was looking down on the lowly patient who knows nothing, and I anticipate that this will continue with that first dr that we met with.
At least I very very much hope so.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Face Lift

It's been bugging me for the past few weeks so I finally decided to change the blog up. What started out as kind of a random smattering of the oddities of pregnancy, has obviously turned into something else, so the whole name and "about me" section just didn't seem to fit anymore.

So the following:

Behind the 8 ball

I tried to tell him with a Magic 8 ball. He didn't catch on. Maybe I should have gone with Crazy Eights?

No, we don't really feel like this baby has us "behind the 8 ball", but you try coming up with something revolving around the number 8 or an 8th child that doesn't make you think of Octomom! Besides, in attempt to share the blessed news with my husband, I bought him a Magic 8 Ball thinking he'd catch on.....not so much. Oh well.

Follow the journey through pregnancy to baby #8. But do realize up front that after doing pregnancy and birth this many times, I'm willing to tell it like it is. And hey, even if the pregnancy is boring, you know with this many kidlets running around, something exciting is bound to happen eventually!

will no longer be what you see when you pull up the blog. I did want it saved in this post though to remind me that pregnancy can be fun and silly, and hopefully that is all it will be next time around. If there is a next time around I guess.

Anyway, a few changes to things to make it feel a bit more appropriate.

The name of the blog is a quote that instantly struck both my husband and I the first time we heard it. "Keep moving forward...." taken from a quote by Walt Disney. (the full quote is: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”) There are a myriad of reasons why it meant so much at the time, and so many more why it means so much now.

The quote in the subtitle is the entirety of a quote that I saw part of the morning that I went in for the first official confirmation appointment. I was reading the blog of someone who had previously lost twins at 20wks, and was just days away from having a baby-her third child, her first after her loss. She was sharing pictures of the nursery, and her friend had done a canvas for the wall that included the words "Fly with outstretched wings, without hesitation trusting that you will not fall." I knew in my heart that morning that I was going to get bad news at that appointment. Though I had been blessed with amazing peace that day, those words really touched me. They seemed so very appropriate for what we would begin to face that afternoon.

Life moves on, and just as here, we make adjustments.

Amnio Results

On Friday I finally heard back about the amnio. My curiosity got the best of me and I ended up calling someone on Thursday afternoon hoping for some information.

All I got was voice mail.

So by early Friday afternoon I took to calling both of the other genetic counselors on the list (the one we had worked with was still out of town).

I'm sure they appreciated my messages.

Don't worry, I was very very nice. I promise.

Thankfully the results were as we assumed and hoped. Everything else is clear!

This is great news, as many of the chromosomal disorders that are tested for during an amnio have the potential to cause greater problems with and difficulties for a baby. Thankfully there was nothing else that turned up, so it looks like the hydrocephalus is isolated.
One more reason for hope.

Though I do have to add a bit from my conversation with the genetic counselor who returned me call-it was amusing.

She called back apologizing for taking so long to get us the results, and after apologizing she said, "well, it's good news! Everything came back clear, so everything is good-nothing to worry about! And it's still a boy."
I told her I hoped it was still a boy since we'd seen very plainly that it was a boy.
And I couldn't help but think while she was saying this, "'re not looking at our whole file, just the amnio results. I wonder if you were looking at what is going on if you would have phrased things 'everything is good-nothing to worry about!' a little differently....."
It made me laugh.

It's good to get good news-refreshing after everything else seems to have brought only more concern.
I'll take any good we can get!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some days are better than others

Today is not one of those days.

I am tired.
I am irritable.
I am anxious.
I am emotional.

Which is ironic considering how well I was doing yesterday.

Today I woke up in a panic from an awful dream. About the amnio results. Which is annoying because I have had no doubt that they will come back fine. Until this morning. And that frustrates me.

It's just gone downhill from there.

It's exhausting to go from feeling optimistic enough to buy a little shirt for your baby in hopes that he could wear it even with cords and wires and medical devices all over his little body. If he gets that far.

And having to contemplate what happens if he doesn't get that far is even worse. Or thinking about how long he might last. I hate thinking about that. I hate it. I hate that I have read through a brochure designed by a mother who also got terrible news halfway through her pregnancy, lost her baby a few hours after birth, and now helps others facing that possibility to know what to do. I am so grateful that those people are out there, that those helps exist. But to be brutally honest, it doesn't make it any easier to face that possibility.

It's nice to have found a community online filled with others in my position, others who understand. Sometimes I feel so removed from normal life right now. Things will be plodding along as normal....daily chores, sending the kids off to school, cooking dinner, grocery shopping.....and then I see something that reminds me of where I am right now.
Waiting and wondering.

And so I try not to drown myself in my worries and my fears. I try to focus on the good things. I try to be grateful that I have a belly now-in case I don't for as long as I'd like to. I pull out the ultrasound pictures and gaze at his little face. I plead with my baby boy to move so I can feel him and know that right this second he is alive and well.

And when all that fails, I remind myself that it's ok to have hard days, to work through them when they come, and know that there are good days too-more good than bad. And then I try to at least not cry in front of my kids.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cautiously optimistic

I guess that's what I've been feeling over the past week.

I finally bought that minky that I loved so I can make a blanket for Sam. I am happy to have done so, and love it even more in person than from the pictures online. I can't wait to start it.

I bought him a couple of little shirts and an outfit-with the reasoning that if he makes it here and gets to wear something, it will be more convenient to have it be a kimono style so that it won't have to go over his head and could accommodate wires and tubes.

Knowing in the back of my head that it might be hard to have those things here should he not have need for them.

But hoping, with everything in me, that just maybe he will.

21 weeks

21 weeks

Or is it 23? or 25?

Samuel has been consistently measuring two weeks ahead for a while. So the midwife suggested upping my due date two weeks.
Then there is that fact that I am measuring so far ahead. My body is acting and looking more like I'm 25 or 26.

But then I'm stubborn and a-type and I know exactly when this whole thing started.
Which puts me at 21 weeks.

I never thought I'd resist knocking two weeks off a pregnancy. It's odd to feel like you're grasping for more time to be pregnant.

But hey, with measuring so far ahead, at least we all now know what I'd look like if I were having more than one.

The one fun thing about that whole amnio experience...

On Sunday we went to dinner at my parent's house. My older brother was there, along with my sister, her husband and daughter.

I've talked more in depth about some things with some people than with others. There were a lot of questions and a lot a discussion about everything going on.

Specifically I spent a good amount of time explaining amniocentesis and describing my experience to my brother and brother-in-law.

No holds barred.

It was entertaining. It's always fun to watch a grown man when he gets squeamish.


5, 14, 6.2, 4, 12, 15, 18, 17, 7.....

No, this is not some random commentary spinning from LOST.

These are the numbers that have filled my head for the last week.

5 in 14.
5 appointments in 14 days. Actually 5 in 10 when you consider that they don't do appointments on Saturday and Sunday.
That's a lot of appointments.

How far I ran on Saturday.
I desperately needed some therapy-a fix for my antsy emotional energy. I wondered if I had it in me to still actually run more than 5 miles, as I haven't done that for months. Looks like I did, and a little more. It felt amazing. Incredible. Heavenly. Hoping to sneak in a short run today and looking forward to another long (hopefully longer) run on Saturday.

How far I'm measuring ahead of myself right now. At least I'm not measuring 6 ahead anymore. I'm not used to having a belly this early in the game. I'm not used to showing this much until I'm in my third trimester. It's an adjustment. I'm trying to appreciate it...some days I do better than others. But hey, if you ever wondered what I'd look like if I were carrying twins, I guess now you know!

It's been 12 days since the amnio. I was told I'd most likely get results back on Monday. I told them I'd plan for Friday. They were optimistic and said, "Well, it should be Monday. If not, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday." In my head I thought "I'll stick with the long estimate of 14 days-and be pleasantly surprised if they come back before then." Good call on my part.

And then there are the unknown numbers. The ones that thus far have gone from 15 to 18.3, and back to 17...... From 20 to 19 to who knows what now.
7 Days until my next appointment and ultrasound. Until we get the next round of measurements, the next step in this game. I am hopeful and fearful. I am comforted to know that it's in God's hands, but sometimes upset that I have no control. It is hard not knowing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Today I am

140 days down, hopefully as close to 140 more to go as possible!

Gosh, who ever thought I'd wish for a pregnancy to go long.....

Up 8lbs, measuring in at just a hair past 8 1/2 square of toilet paper. I love measuring my belly with toilet paper.
I also measured in inches this morning because I knew I had an actual measurement from my last pregnancy at 20wks. I'm a full inch (and maybe a tad bit more) bigger than last time!
I am amazed at how my belly seems to grow every single day-I have a feeling I'm going to get big!

The halfway belly shot:

And in honor of my favorite "how big is baby" method posted over there on the side of the blog, my little guy is roughly the size of a cantaloupe!

(I so wish I would have take the fruit picture every week of this pregnancy! Maybe there will be a next time still....)

Growing, stretching, and loving every second of feeling and watching my little man wiggle around in there!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A good picture of what's going on

Like I mentioned in my last post we got some great profile shots of Samuel at our amnio.

I guess one of the upsides of all these appointments is that we get to see him often! And while we've been used to one or maybe two (if we're lucky) ultrasound(s) in our regular pregnancies, with 4 or 5 pictures of baby, I have to say that Maternal Fetal Medicine sonographers are more than generous with the photos! Bless them for that. It is much appreciated.

It wasn't until we were on our way home from the amnio that we realized that those beautiful profile shots we got gave great illustration of what and where the problem inside his head is.

Look at this picture:

Awwww....told you he's beautiful!
And now look closely inside his head.
Do you see that most of it is black? That there is a rim of gray along the top of his head?
That's the problem.

Here's another shot where you can clearly see the fluid pocket:
Normally all that fluid (the black), should occupy a much much smaller space and be kind of in the middle of the head as you see it here. Imagine if you could put your fist right into the center of your brain. Rough example, but you get the idea. It should be a little pocket in the middle. It shouldn't be taking up most of the room inside his head the way it is.

The gray along the top of his head-that's where his brain is. The lower parts of his brain (cerebellum, thalamus, etc) are all in perfect form and right where they should be for now. But the gray matter, what we typically think of when we hear the word brain-the big round spongy wrinkly part-is being compressed against the top and sides of his little skull. With this view you can see how it is pushed up on the top, and with a view from the top of his head looking down, you can see how it is pushed against the sides.

As you can imagine, this isn't a good thing.

We did ask the sonographer to measure his head circumference and ventricles before we left, knowing before we even asked that over a period of 4 days since the last ultrasound and measurements, there may not have been any change. We also knew that even if there was no change over those days that it didn't mean that there would be no further change over the next two weeks, and vice versa-that if there was a huge change over those days, it didn't necessarily mean that it wouldn't continue to increase at that same rate over the next two weeks.

That's one of the hardest things. We watch and wait, putting each little piece of the puzzle together days and weeks at a time. And we have to keep in mind that though we may get a number of pieces put together and think we know what the picture in that puzzle is, once we add a few more pieces we may realize that it's a totally different picture than what we had thought. Not to mention that this puzzle has no defined edges; it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and there is no telling just how many pieces there are in this whole thing.

Anyway, his head circumference has not changed at all over the 8 days between our original u/s and the u/s at the amnio appointment. It was actually measuring just a slight bit smaller, though with the angle he was sitting it has hard to get a perfect measurement of the circumference. This is both good and bad. Good because if his head continues to measure at a "normal" size, this means less possible complications for me, and a more likely chance of a relatively uncomplicated delivery. Bad because if it were growing very quickly, it might allow more room for his brain to develop, and possibly mean a little less damage. At this point it seems that with the good there is always bad. We try to focus on the good.

There has been some change in his ventricle size. A normal measurement is less than 10mm or 1cm, with most babies measuring around 7mm (0.7cm). The sonographer showed us what normal size is in relation to his. It was sobering to see just how enlarged his are. Last Monday he was measuring roughly 1.5cms on one side, and 1.83 on the other. On Friday he was measuring 1.7 on both sides. While it's not good that the one side has increased, the fact that the other side has decreased means the general size of the ventricles combined hasn't changed much. Hopefully this means that the pressure inside his head hasn't really increased.

It will be interesting to see in 2 weeks and 2 days how much more things have changed. While we are anxious to see how things develop, it is nice that life is distracting enough that it isn't the only thing to think about all day every day. It is nice to feel at peace with all of this, knowing that while we selfishly crave a healthy perfectly functioning little baby boy, this is all in God's hands. If He should choose to heal our little Samuel and make him whole again for his life on this earth, it will happen. But also knowing that if this is not His will, we will be carried through the difficult days ahead, and that this little boy will be a blessing and a miracle in every moment that we have with him.

He already has been a blessing and a miracle in so very very many ways.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The one with the amnio

I figured with as many appointments as I'm going to have in the coming weeks and months, I may as well start labeling them. I'm going with the method used to label Friends episodes. (It all comes back to Friends again. funny.)

Thus today's appointment, the 4th in 8 days, will be known as "the one with the amnio".

I find myself in an odd spot lately.
Suddenly I'm doing all sorts of things I thought I'd never do, and facing decisions I thought I'd never face.

Interesting place to be....

Latest on this list of things-amniocentesis.

I am not a needle person. Like in a big big way. I don't do epidurals because I hate needles. I had an epidural with my first child. Learned my lesson. Yes, I'd rather do all the pain of labor and delivery, induced with pitocin, posterior babies, all that jazz-all instead of having that needle in my back again.

So you can imagine a needle in my belly has really never been tops on my list.

Not to mention that I don't do the blood screening tests offered during pregnancy that are used to determine your odds of a chromosomal abnormality, the results of which are often the reason the people do amnio during the first half of pregnancy. Thus I reasoned that amnio would never be in my future.

I'm being proved wrong about all sorts of things lately it seems!

Upon the confirmation of our little baby's problems last Monday, the option of amnio was presented to rule out anything else that we might be dealing with. Both the perinatologist and genetic counselor mentioned that the odds there being anything else wrong with our little boy were extremely low (based on u/s), and that they didn't expect an amnio would show anything else, but if we'd like to go that route to rule out an other possible problems that we could let them know anytime and they'd get us in ASAP.

To be honest, I felt the same way; everything else looks perfect, and the odds of having a chromosomal disorder show up on amnio results is next to zero. But Aaron felt very strongly that we should go the amnio route just to safely rule anything else out, considering if something did actually show up, it would be good to be prepared for any additional challenges and preparation that we (and our drs) might need to take into consideration for care of our little guy upon his arrival.

And so I made the dreaded phone call to tell them, "let's go ahead with the amnio".


After getting reassurance from a friend who also has needle issues but has been through amnio more than once, I felt a little better. She said the same thing that the drs had-it's quick and easy, over in about 10 minutes, not comfortable but not the end of the world.

Ok. I can do that.

And Friday rolled around quickly.

One upside to measuring so far ahead is that there was a very nice sized pocket of fluid available for the procedure. Samuel was very cooperative in sitting quite low to make sure there was no danger of nicking him with the needle. Thank goodness! I was expecting a numbing shot before the big needle, as that is what most people that have talked about amnio have mentioned, but I'm thinking they skipped that on me. (Yep-just asked Aaron about that since I wasn't watching-there was no numbing shot) They cleaned me up, did the betadine rub down, marked the spot and said "here we go-poke and a pinch....and we're in".

The pinch wasn't bad, the poke hurt, but good grief-when a need that big starts going through your abdominal muscles your body fights back! It just keeps pushing and pushing on through which is not a comfortable thing!

It's good to know my ab muscles are still in fighting shape, but I have to wonder if that made it hurt a little more. I could tell that it took a little effort to push it through.

As I'm laying there trying to to think about what's happening I glanced up at the big screen on the wall where you get to watch the ultrasounds, thinking that watching my little guy would be a good distraction.
Watching that screen also meant watching the needle going in. No good!

I quickly looked away.

I tried to let my mind wander when I hear my sweet husband ask, "Is it hard to get out? It looks like you are pulling really really hard!"
Uh, what?
"Well, it's kind of like pulling a thick milkshake through a really small straw since we try and use a small needle."

Hello? I'm right here!

That was pleasant to hear.

Thankfully it was over very soon after that-a much quicker process than I expected, taking only about 3 minutes for the actual procedure. It was a long three minutes while it was happening, but I did think "wow, that's it?" when it was done, so that's a good sign.

There were three doctors in there for the draw, and as it was finished up one of them commented, "Well, that's about as good as that ever goes!" Thank goodness.

I had to verify my name and birthdate on the tubes of fluid, and it took me a second. I was so distracted by the fact that there were two big tubes of fluid just inches from my face. Fluid that had literally just seconds earlier been floating around inside me with my baby. It was kind of surreal. I thought it would be clear, but it was kind of a peachy color almost. I was fascinated by it. I am still fascinated by the fact that they can take that fluid out, not disturb the baby or the pregnancy (with rare exception), and that from that fluid they can tell all sorts of intricate things about your baby.
It's amazing.

The sonographer was very generous in letting us just hang out and look at our little Sam before we got up to leave, spending as long as we wanted just looking at him....his little feet (is there anything cuter than tiny feet?), his hands, his perfectly beating heart, and his sweet little face.

She gave us some amazing profile pictures of our little guy, and to be honest, he's adorable.

A Name

Most of our kids have had names as soon as (or shortly after) we learned what their gender was. A few kids ago that seemed to change.

Lincoln had his name minutes after the ultrasound when we learned he was a boy. But it wasn't Lincoln. The name Lincoln came just days before his arrival. Good thing we didn't monogram anything.

Charlotte's name was a long time coming, decided just a few weeks before she arrived.

This time around I figured we'd do the same as we did with Charlotte, no pressure, we'll figure out the name before August. Plenty of time. I had some names I liked, a list approaching about 30 at last count. (Aaron holds a powerful veto card-I was leaving my options open!)

Since last week I've felt a much stronger desire to find this little boy's name. Quickly.

Walking out of Maternal Fetal Medicine on Monday, I needed his name. I needed for him to have an identity.

Suddenly many of the names on my list just weren't right. As I crossed of name after name, I wondered in desperation if I could find the right one. A name is so much more important than just a label of what to call someone. Especially in this case, it couldn't just be a "good" name, it needed to be the right name.

I feared that it would still take weeks to decide what his name should be. I'm so glad that was not the case.

Though Tuesday was a better day than Monday, Tuesday night brought some difficult conversations about choices that we will be facing and decisions that will need to be made. More than ever that night I needed this child's name. Thankfully it came in those hours late Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning as I lay fighting for sleep in the midst of tears. And thankfully when I mentioned it to Aaron, he too felt it was right.

This little boy is Samuel James.

Not an unusual name, one of the more common in fact. But a strong name, a name with history. A name picked not for how it sounds or looks, but for what it means and who it represents.

This little boy needed a strong name, he is a strong child.

As I lay on my bed yesterday afternoon feeling him roll around inside me, then actually being able to watch him move back and forth, already able to see his little body, his little arms and legs already jump around inside of me (I told you he was strong!!), I was struck with two very deep emotions. Absolute joy to know more of who this child is, joy for his strength and his life, but a deep sense of grief at the fact that this is now even more personal and more intimate. It was suddenly, in many ways, more heartbreaking to know that his time with us will be limited.
As I awoke today, I found myself grateful that as time passes, intensity of emotions seems to settle. After a very difficult day yesterday, today has been peaceful. Today I find nothing but joy in feeling my little Sam jumping around. Joy in this belly of mine that seems to be growing exponentially faster than it ever has in the past. Joy in the hope I have for this little boy. Joy in knowing that even though he is not in my arms, I will hold him for every second of this day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


A few months ago we were redoing some of our flooring. This of course meant moving everything out of the room for a bit. In the living room I have a handful of Willow Tree figurines, and since the living room was one of the rooms getting a mild makeover, they were relocated to some bookshelves in the basement.

In the course of their days as downstairs occupants, one of them became victim to a rogue bouncy ball and came out slightly worse for the wear. It went from one piece to seven. Aaron wondered why I held on to all the pieces. I told him I'd fix it. He pointed out that it would be obvious that it had been broken and that it would make more sense to just replace it.

He was right. You can tell it's been broken, and it would probably make more sense to just replace it.

Until yesterday.

As I finished gluing it back together yesterday I realized just how fitting it is for me now.
A mother holding her son. Broken, and a little worse for the wear, but still held together.
Maybe even a little stronger in those places that were weak.

Comfort sometimes comes in the most unexpected packages.

on my doorstep today

For a couple of days I've had a hard time facing people, so opening the door is a gamble.

This morning the door bell rang and I gathered myself up to go see who I would be facing.

It was a box.

This box

sat there outside my door.

The last few things I needed for the kids' Easter outfits. A couple of sweater vests, church socks for the boys (can you believe with all those pairs of socks in this house, it is always a scramble to find church socks?), little sweaters to go over the girls' dresses.

And one more thing.

When I placed this order last Tuesday, I couldn't pass up this little bright yellow polo for my new baby boy. There's just something about yellow.

Did you see the color? Sunbeam. A little extra sunshine is good right now.

So nice that this tiny bright yellow shirt made me smile this morning instead of making me sad. Yes I know he may never wear it, but even if he doesn't, it will stay tucked away with my things, a little bit of sunshine to hold on to.