Monday, May 30, 2011

20 Weeks 5 Days: God's Baby Shower Present

 Yep. That's us in front of God's baby shower present--a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport valued at $25,000!!!

Skyler and I were sitting in church yesterday morning when he kept getting phone calls from a guy he knows.

"I need to go check my voicemail," he says. I figured if he was getting up in the middle of the church service to check his voicemail, he must have been concerned. Just moments after he left the sanctuary, the pastor asked the congregation, "What does God love to do more than anything? He loves to give us gifts."

About five minutes later, my husband comes up behind me and whispers in my ear, "You need to come out here and find out what's going on." My heart sank. What has happened now? I thought. It's only ever bad news.

I go out and meet my husband in the foyer. I find him with tears in his eyes but with a look on his face that I recognize. Those are happy tears.

"You're not going to believe this!" he tells me, choked up. He proceeds to tell me about the phone call he just had with the deacon of St. Theresa's Catholic Parish in Evansville, IN. Unbeknownst to me, he recently purchased three raffle tickets to support their church. Out of over 5,000 tickets, Skyler's name was drawn out. The prize was a 2011 Jeep Wrangler from Audubon Chrysler in Henderson, KY.

The vehicle is really, really nice. BUT . . . it's a 2-door soft top convertible. Woulda been fun 10 years ago, but I'm not puttin' my baby in that thing! So, after spending six hours at the dealership (seriously, it's not like we had time to plan out what we wanted to do), we traded the brand new Jeep and our 2004 Chevy Impala (aka ticking time bomb with almost 140,000 miles on it) for two SUVs. We got a 2002 Silver Ford Expedition and a 2002 Gold Chevy Trailblazer.

Me in my Ford Expedition
Skyler in his Chevy Trailblazer

It might seem strange that we would trade a brand new vehicle for two used vehicles, especially ones that do have some miles on them. But, we really feel like we made the right decision for us. I'm not going to get into it, but we really, really, really, desperately needed a new vehicle, especially before Baby Girl gets here. Our car more than likely had some very serious problems, on top of the fact that it wasn't paid off yet. If we'd have kept the Jeep, we would have had to pay sales tax, plus a $199 dock fee for doing the paper work.

We started our day yesterday with a car payment on one car that was worth nothing but at any moment threatened to take us out with car repair payments. We ended our day with two really nice vehicles that are in great condition, no car payments at all, and we didn't pay a dime. Plus, they both have new tires, full tanks of gas, and each come with six free oil changes. PLUS, we're taking them back tomorrow to get free 2-inch balls put on the hitches.

There is no doubt--this is from God. It is a miracle. It is so good to know God has our back and will make sure we can take care of our little girl. It's also good to know that He just loves us so much that he would just give us a great big fabulous surprise.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

20 Weeks 1 Day: 17P

or 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate

I told you about this in "A Big Decision to Make," and in "It's a Girl!" I told you that, if I was indeed carrying a girl, I would know what I had to do.  

Still, my mommy instincts wouldn't allow me to just take the doctor's word for it. Even though I trust her, I don't really trust anybody anymore. I told her my fears about blood clots. I knew she was going to come back with the argument that I'm already on heparin, which would be the treatment if those blood clots showed up. My thinking was, irrational or not, I would hate for the blood thinner to start saving my life instead of my baby's! She said she didn't think the medication would counteract the heparin's benefits for the baby. However, she has not prescribed 17P for very many patients and admitted that she wasn't sure what the right thing to do really was. So, she agreed to consult my fertility doctor and the maternal fetal medicine specialist that I saw with Gabriel. She planned to call me with her findings so I could make a decision about taking the medication.

Here's the funny and totally something I would do part: I waited an entire week for her phone call, but never received it. I told my husband I was going to call her, but he insisted that I shouldn't, that he knew she would call me when she got the info. I waited over the weekend and decided to leave her a voicemail on Monday. THEN, I check my voicemails. She left me two voicemails that week, and I never returned her calls! She told me she was going out of town so I wouldn't be able to reach her for a few days. So, I called her when she was back in the office, but she was in surgery so I had to speak with the nurse. All I got was a message from the doctor saying I should take the drug. At that point, I was turning 18 weeks and I needed to get the injections started. So, I left her a another voicemail asking her to just go ahead and call in the prescription and to please call me that afternoon to tell me about her conversations with the other doctors. I promised I would answer the phone. I didn't. The phone was in my hand when she called, but it said RESTRICTED so I didn't answer it. Aaaahhhh! I went ahead and took them based solely on her word for it after all. I knew, though. I knew when I found out it was a girl that God had told me to take this medication. I already told you about that dream.

Tonight is actually my third injection of 17P. It's a big needle and it goes in the butt. I totally planned to just give this to myself because I have given myself injections there before and because my husband just can't be serious about pointing a needle at my behind without making jokes. But when I opened the package and saw the needle, I thought I was going to cry! I am a self-injection champion (260 so far during this pregnancy), but this was the point when I'd had enough. I just couldn't do it. I had to let my husband stick a needle in my butt. I was nervous. He was nervous. Mostly, I was afraid he would chicken out at the last minute and end up hurting me. He did a good job, though. Of course, he was begging for praise afterward, never mind that I'm the one who had to endure the pain! That's a man for ya.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

19 Weeks 3 Days: FEAR

When I write, I compose the words I want to say in my head in the days or hours before. Then, when I'm ready, my fingers hit the keys and the composition in my mind basically just oozes out of my fingers onto the screen. Little Girl's anatomy scan was three days ago, three days in which I didn't have the time or energy to sit and write this blog post, three days in which I wrote and rewrote it in my mind, titled and retitled it. I thought about calling it:

19 Weeks 3 Days: Isn't It Ironic?

19 Weeks 3 Days: You've Got to be Frickin' Joking Me!

19 Weeks 3 Days: Why Am I So Afraid?

But, as the days went on and I really thought about it and heard myself tell the story to a few people (and over and over again to myself), I realized that the best title is to just call it what it is: FEAR.

I know you remember my "Mommy Meltdown" post a few weeks ago. I'm sure you were all thinking, Poor Bonnie. She just can't help herself. I thought my baby had a strawberry-shaped head and was going to die, just like my other babies. I went in and made them take another look. Her head was carefully examined (like it had already been several times before), and I was assured her head shape was completely normal.

Isn't it ironic, then, that as soon as Baby Girl's brain came on the screen a few days ago, the sonographer typed "CP" on the screen? She typed those letters quietly, straight-faced, just like they all do. But, this is me we're talking about, and I knew what those letters meant.

"You just typed CP on the screen," I said, letting her know she couldn't just slip that by me.

"Yeah, I did," she said, with her "I'm so sorry" look I've seen too many times.

"She has them?" I asked, knowing the answer because I know too much.

"Yes, she has choroid plexus cysts. BUT, I see it all the time, and it doesn't mean anything."

But she knows it means something to me. She knows Gaby Baby had them. She feels the thick irony of the fact that I was scared out of my mind two weeks ago that her head was misshapen and now we really do see a well-known marker for Trisomy 18. She knows this is me we're talking about and it does mean something.

She went straight to the next well known marker for Trisomy 18--clenched fists. If you saw her little thumb-sucking, face-touching video on Facebook a few weeks ago, you know she doesn't have clenched fists. She loves her hands and her face. Next, she looked at her feet to make sure they weren't clubbed or rocker-bottom (rounded instead of flat). Her feet are perfect. Then, to check her face. Babies with this anomaly often have cleft lips and no chin. My baby's face is perfect and beautiful. She also has a perfectly straight midline between the two perfectly forming hemispheres in her brain, a well-formed stomach, kidneys, and bladder, has normal bone length, and is in the 50th percentile on her weight--not too big or too small. And, oh my, you should have seen her heart. It is an absolute miracle.

"She's fine. I'm not worried," were the words from both the doctor and the sonographer.

"I know," I kept saying but not really meaning it.

The doctor reported seeing choroid plexus cysts on babies about once a month and that she has never had one be born with any problems. My baby has isolated choroid plexus cysts, meaning she is perfect in every other way and they are almost certain to go away in a couple of months and leave me with the perfect baby of my dreams. My doctor did ask me if I wanted to be referred to a high risk OB and possibly have an amnio. She knows I already know it's the only way to know for sure. Of course, I told her I would not have one of those. I almost lost Gabriel when I did that before. I won't risk this baby's life. She agreed. She wouldn't risk it either because she believes I have about a 99% chance of delivering a healthy baby.

So, I've been down in the dumps about this the last few days even though I know the truth about these cysts: some babies get them, but they rarely mean anything. I've been telling people at work and calling my family and reporting the one tiny little thing that might be wrong instead of focusing on every other little spec of her that is completely perfect. The more I tell it, the more I can hear how pathetic I sound.

And then it really dawned on me: I'm not making Gabriel proud. The way I am handling this pregnancy is how I am still handling his death, how I promised him I wouldn't--scared and sad and crying all the time and just wanting to give up. Then, I realized what else I am doing--not giving his little sister the same faith and courage that I gave him. I rarely reported on Gabriel's flaws, only his triumphs and perfections. I didn't want my baby boy to hear me talking bad about him. I wanted him to believe in himself, so I knew he had to hear that Mommy believed in him. Why, then, can't I give my real, true, living, heart beating, healthy, this is really gonna happen baby girl the same courtesy?

Well, from now on, I am.

  Adorable feet. Can you count my five toes?

 My leg is kicked up on the left, and I'm trying to hide my pretty face with my hand.

 My profile. My hand is up by my face and you can see my cute little nose and cheekbones.

 The 3D pictures of me will be better when I start to put on some weight, but you can see my face.

 Mommy loves this picture. Just look at my adorable chin. Don't ya just wanna kiss it?

And, yes, you all know I can't keep my thumb out of my mouth. 

Psalm 27:14 (KJV)14Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

 Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” 


Here is a link to some information about choroid plexus cysts. It explains it way better than I can.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Six Years

Friday the 13th. She would have had a good chuckle over that one. It’s hard to believe it has actually been so long that the anniversary falls once again on the same day of the week—Friday the 13th.

Friday, May 13, 2005 is when she left us. Actually, she and I said goodbye the day before, on May 12th. I had a hard time with that at first, but I know she didn’t want me to be there for it. Not her baby, her Bonnie. As I type this blog the day before I send it out to you, I realize that it has been six years since I last kissed my mom and told her I loved her. It has been six years since she spoke her last words on this earth, “I love you, too, Bon.”

I was there when she got the call the summer before. The vague but oh so obvious, “We need to see you to review the results of your pap smear. Can you be here at one o’clock?” Everyone knows they don’t call when the results are negative. They just mail you a note.

She was frantic. I remember hearing her hysterically scream for me from across the house. I was 25 years old and desperately trying to comfort my mom and tell her that it probably wasn’t as bad as she assumed it was. My mom, 65 years old at the time, had always been incredibly healthy. This devastating news just came out of nowhere, so unexpected. “This isn’t supposed to happen to me,” she just kept saying over and over.

We found out that afternoon that she had endometrial (uterine) cancer. “Surgery may be a cure for you,” the doctor told us. It was a shred of hope. But, when my dad, sister, and I saw the surgeon walking toward us after the surgery, his face told the sad story of what lie ahead for us.

“The cancer has spread through the uterine wall. Once she has recovered from the surgery, we will proceed with chemotherapy.” I was a child then (in comparison to the experiences I have since lived), and I know I didn’t fully understand the scope of his words. What child, at any age, can understand that a big scary monster is trying to steal her mommy?

My brother, sister, and I took turns taking her to chemotherapy treatments in St. Louis, MO. This is funny to say, but she became a different person during that time. I mean, a more joyful person, more loving, more appreciative of life, and love, and God’s gifts. Maybe it was the humbling circumstances; maybe it was the Zoloft (she’d say that might be it!), but we enjoyed ourselves. We enjoyed each other and the time we had. We did things we never made time for before, like visiting the Arch, the zoo, Union Station. We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We never did that before.

She got better, but then she got worse. Much worse. It spread to her lungs and her liver. Being a mama’s girl, the baby, I had a very hard time accepting what everyone else knew was happening. I wasn’t about to admit for one second that God might not answer my prayers and heal her. I tried really hard to believe hard enough for everyone else who I thought was just refusing to have faith. That wasn’t it, though. It’s just what was really and truly happening. Bad stuff happens, and people die. It was my first taste of that nasty lesson.

Thursday, May 12, 2005, after I told her I loved her and she told it to me, she slipped into a coma just moments before I walked out the door. I didn’t realize that’s what it was, or I guess I wouldn’t have gone. But I had to go. I had to go take care of something important for her, something she needed me to do. I came back the next day, May 13th, my bags packed with the clothes I would wear to her funeral. I planned not to leave her side another minute until she had to go.

When I walked through the living room door, the sight of the empty hospital bed in the middle of the room slapped me in the face. I immediately turned my head to scan the house and thought, Why did they move her to the bedroom? I knew she was must too frail to lie in a flat bed. Then, I looked over at where my dad always sat and saw a visitor kneeling at his side and heard her offering condolences. She quickly got up and came to hug me and tell me how sorry she was. For what? What’s going on?

I dropped my bags in realization that the time had come and gone and I’d missed it. She died just hours before, and the funeral home was called to quickly come and get her before I got there. No one called to tell me because they knew I’d be driving and didn’t want me to be upset. I wanted to drop to the ground. I wanted to sob and hyperventilate and throw a fit. I wanted to disappear. I wanted her back, but I knew she shouldn’t come back. She shouldn’t come back to the pain she endured. She should celebrate her new body with her Savior.

If you have followed this blog and my baby blues (and triumphs!), you know I’ve needed my mom desperately the last few years. For a lot of reasons, however, I have needed her exactly where she is. For one thing, her funeral was my very first. Her death was the first real loss in my life. While I really, really needed and wanted my mom to help me through life’s toughest battles, I believe that losing her was part of the way God prepared me for losing my newborn son. Let’s face it, you don’t train for a marathon by jogging around the block, and you can’t prepare for losing your child by burying the family pet. My experience with her illness and death taught me a lot about having faith in God, not getting mad at Him when things don’t go how I planned, and picking up the pieces so I can keep living my life and being a testimony for His love and faithfulness.

For another thing, I know she holds my babies--in the grave and in the Heavenlies. Gabriel is buried right on top of her (and my dad). It’s one thing I’ve never had to worry about. One thing I’ve never spent my time thinking about. I don’t know if that would be true if he was somewhere else, all alone. I love knowing they are together, my mom and my sweet babies. I love knowing that they know, they know what has happened to me, but they know without hurting, without crying, without being afraid.

They know more than me. They know better than me. They understand deeper than I, even my little ones. Someday, I will understand it all, too. And I can’t wait . . . but I will.

I Corinthians 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

My beautiful Mom and me, June 1983. I was 3 1/2 years old.

I don't have many pictures of my mom. I think she was always behind the camera. This is her driver's license picture. It looks exactly like her, though. It's the best driver's license picture I've ever seen. I think she's beautiful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

17 Weeks 4 Days: My First HAPPY Mother's Day

No, today isn't my first Mother's Day. I was a mother last year at this time--just a mother with no child. I didn't handle myself all that gracefully I'm sorry to say, but I did all I could. Last Mother's Day was less than four months after Gabriel's birth. We got up, got ready for church, and I sat in the car waiting on my husband to leave. Then, something unexpected happened: I began to cry. I was afraid of walking into church and having people bombard me with cheerful happy Mother's Day wishes. When my husband got in the car and saw me crying, he was a little baffled.

"What is the matter?" he asked gently, though I'm sure he knew. He was used to me going from smiling to crying with virtually no warning.

"I don't want anyone to tell me Happy Mother's Day!" I sobbed.

"I don't understand," he said. "I thought you wanted everyone to remember Gabriel and that you are his mommy."

"I do. And I'm fine! Let's just go."

But we didn't. We didn't make it to church that day. I couldn't bear it. We sat at the Ohio Riverfront instead. We prayed. We dreamed about what the next Mother's Day would be like. We dreamed about the newborn baby that we just knew would be in our arms.

Of course, it didn't turn out that way. I can't complain, though. God is so good to me.

Today, after going to church and not shedding a tear because I was too busy smiling and showing off our new ultrasound pictures, we went back to that same bench overlooking the Ohio River. We dreamed about our baby again, but this time she really is on her way to us. God's promises are real.

Psalm 113:9 (NIV) "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord."

Posing for my photographer

Just kidding! My belly's not really that big yet.

Me and my baby girl

Monday, May 2, 2011

16 Weeks 5 Days: She's a Keeper!

In my mind, it was already a done deal. Friday was the meltdown with the realization of what was to be--again. Over the weekend I moped and cried some more. And today, I tried to start making peace with it, readying myself for what I would hear today, making plans for what I hoped would work out the same and what I would like to do differently this time.

Instead, I show the sonographer the picture of Miracle Whip's brain compared to the internet picture of the strawberry shaped head of a Trisomy 18 baby. I think she's going to look at it and realize that I've discovered something--something she didn't want to discover.

"No," she says. "This looks like a perfectly acceptable head shape to me. It is not the same as this other picture."

I'm still skeptical. "They look exactly the same."

"No, they don't. This picture is looking at Trisomy 18 markers that your baby doesn't have," she insists. "There are all different head shapes. What I see is a perfectly normal developing skull and brain."

Then, she looks carefully at Miracle Whip's brain on the ultrasound. She says she is very happy with her head shape. I can tell she means it. I can also tell that she understands why I can't wrap my mind around the fact that I have a perfect baby on the way. She was, afterall, the one who discovered both Gabriel's and Tater Tot's wings.

Princess Miracle Whip made her mommy very happy today. We had peanut M&Ms on the way over to give Little Girl a sugar rush. It worked. She put on a great show. It was so adorable watching her try to suck her thumb (just like big brother Gabe!), but she kept hitting her nose instead. That does take a lot of coordination getting a thumb into your mouth.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, God! Thank you, again . . . and again . . . and again . . . for my miracle girl.