Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chromosome Test Results are in...

Received a call this morning from Dr Landers. A report came across her desk that she thought we'd like to know about. She already got the chromosome test back for Gabriel. As it turns out, he had an extra Y chromosome that caused his kidneys to never develope. There are different types of Potters Syndrome - Bilateral Renal Agenesis (no kidneys) is Classic Potters.

This means that it isn't a gene Derrick or I are carrying, it was just "Bad Luck" (the story of my life it seems - bad luck when I got suspended from high school, bad luck when I had my back surgery, bad luck when the teachers wouldn't give me all my homework and my grade point average dropped significantly, bad luck that we bought our house at a bad time, bad luck that we bought a "lemon" for a car... the list goes on). So, this result means that our risk of it happening again is much lower. Instead of being a 1 in 4 risk, we have about 4%...

The interesting thing about this abnormality is that there are kids out there living with this extra Y chromosome... Some are reported to grow faster, some have other developmental abnormalities, and some reports of Potter's Syndrome. So having this extra Y chromosome isn't always so serious or fatal, some people can live with it forever.

Dr Landers is sending us a copy of the report. I probably won't understand anything on it, but I do intend to try to see if I can find out more about this Y chromosome that Gabriel shouldn't have had. I know I can turn to the genetic councelor we met earlier if I still don't understand any of it. She was very smart about all the genetic and chromosome stuff.

Derrick went back to work this week. Its been tough being home all day without him here. I'm hurting more now than when he was here all day for support and to keep me busy. Yesterday was especially hard, I was busy babysitting my neice and nephew most of the afternoon, but couldn't keep my mind off Gabriel and his sweet face. But I got through another day and woke up this morning to some good news. Maybe that means today will be a better day...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Memorial Tattoos

2 weeks old...
Gabriel would be 2 weeks old today. We are still coping day by day, but I'm really starting to get nervous about him returning to work. He's been my main support, my rock and keeping me busy the last few weeks... what happens when he goes back to work and isn't here all day with me anymore? Luckily I have friends who are planning to stop by during the days next week so I won't be home alone with Evelyn all day. 

We talk about Gabriel at various points throughout the day. Sometimes the smallest thing on TV or in a store will start a conversation about him. He's on our minds all the time. Every night I say good night to him before I go to bed. I miss him so much and wish he were here with us all the time.

Tattooing our heartache away...
Last night, Derrick and I went down to our tattooist at Persona Studios to get our memorial tattoos. We'd designed them for the last few weeks and new what we wanted to get. I had hopes that the pain of getting the tattoo would relieve the pain in my heart for just a short time.

Derrick went first and his turned out beautiful. He did it to match the one he got for Evelyn about a year ago.

Mine has been being designed by me ever since we got the diagnosis. I knew what I wanted to include but just needed an artist to put all the elements together. I had a vision and he put it to life. And, what an amazing job he did too! It looks like his footprint was stamped right on my shoulder!

He kept the footprint the actual size, so my tattoo ended up being a bit bigger than I had originally planned, but I'm so glad he wanted to do it that way.  When Derrick drew his out he added the ribbons on either side, so when we were doing mine, we took the ribbon Derrick drew and enlarged it to fit my tattoo. So Derrick actually drew my ribbon :)

I'm so in love with my new tattoo, it is the biggest one I have gotten so far, and also the most painful one I have gotten. But it was all worth it so that my angel will walk with me forever.  (And by the way, it worked. For that hour and a half, I was so focused on the pain of the tattoo, that my heart wasn't hurting. But after I saw it in the mirror the heartache was different, I can't explain it, it was just different.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Being There

I'm currently reading "Chicken Soup for the Greiving Soul" and have found a few things I want to share. But this one felt especially fitting so I thought I'd post it in here first. This way, if someone who is reading or has followed our story knows someone who is going through a similar journey - maybe this can help.

"Being There

Do you know of someone
Whose precious child has died?
Perhaps she is a neighbor or friend
With whom you can confide.
You assume that she is suffering
A tragedy so deep,
That there is nothing you can do
Since all she does is weep.
You feel that if you see her
There is nothing you can say
That would make her precious child come back
Or make the pain go away.
And if by chance you meet her
And have to face her grief,
You'll do your very best
To make this meeting brief.
You'll talk about the weather
Or the lady down the lane,
But you'll never mention her child -
That would cause her too much pain!
And when the funeral's over,
And all is said and done,
You'll go home to your family
And she'll be all alone.
She'll go on, she'll be all right, time heals -
Or so it seems,
While she's left alone to pick up the pieces,
Of her shattered life and dreams.
You can open up your heart
And find that special place
Where compassion and true giving
Are awaiting your embrace.
"Today I'm thinking of you in a very special way,"
Or, how about "I love you!"
Are some loving things to say.
Sometimes a very simple task
Like picking up the phone,
Can help her feel no-so-quite
Desperately alone.
Whatever comes from a genuine heart
Cannot be said in vain
For the truth is, its these very things
That lessen her great pain.
And when you let her talk about
Her child who is now dead,
You'll know this is far greater
Than anything you've said.
So will you reach out with all your soul
And let her know you care?
For in the end there's no substitute
For simply BEING THERE!
- Debi L Pettigrew

Thank you so much to everyone, for "Being There"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 days since we met our sweet Gabriel Ray...

Took Some Time for Myself
On Friday, I decided to take some time to myself. I needed a change and to pamper myself a little. So I went over to the local Spalon Montage and got my hair cut. She cut off 6 inches and gave me a different style. When we were planning for after the birth I new I needed to plan some things to look forward to and this was one of them. It'd been 2 years since my last haircut/trim, so it was much needed.

The Before:

The After:

Picnic With Gabriel
Yesterday, we went to the cemetary with my mom and had a "picnic" with Gabriel. But, Minnesota winters are quite cold so we ate in the truck. I had been wanting to go out to the cemetary but wasn't up for it all week, so it felt good to go see him. It was sad though, that while we were there we noticed a few other "new" plots... How terrible to see how many other parents have to go through as much hurt and pain as we have. I can only hope that they too have found an incredible support system like we have.

On Checking the Mail
In the mail, we recieved the information regarding his birth certificate, but not his death certificate information. We have to send in money to get a copy of his birth certificate. Sadly, I know we'll also have to request a copy of his death certificate... something to file away and hopefully not need to pull out or look at again, or at least for a long time. There are just some things that are such a negative reminder, I feel like I need to weed out some of the reminders when I can.

We are still recieving loving and thoughtful cards from our friends and family (these are good reminders of the love and support we have!) Its so nice to open a card and know that someone is thinking of us and sending us their love.

How We're Doing
We are still taking things day by day. Derrick talks more about Gabriel now. I know he loves his little man and I think it hurt too much for him to really talk about it. But now he brings it up a few times a day, talking about what makes him sad, what it would have been like if he'd be here, and about his birthday. 

The hardest part for me right now is realizing that I have a son but I don't get to be his mommy, I don't get to do all those things that mommy's are supposed to do. Instead of carrying him in my arms, I only get to carry him in my heart. Instead of feeding him, I go out to the cemetary and have lunch/dinner with him. Instead of looking at his face, I look up at the sky and mentally run  through pictures of what he looked like and those few precious moments we got to spend with him.

There are other hard parts too. I constantly crave holding him, snuggling him, and rocking him. I want to feel his warmth and hear his cries.  But I know these are only things I can imagine now.  Hopefully someday we'll be able to experience the thrills of a new baby again.

Waiting on the Results
Waiting for the autopsy results to come back seems like forever. They said 6-10 weeks, and looking out at the future, that seems like a REALLY long time!  I want to know the autopsy results because Dr Buchbinder said that its possible the kidneys had formed and just weren't functional... Or perhaps they didn't form at all? Only the autopsy will tell us that forsure. I'm also hoping the autopsy will tell us his eye color. I never got to see his eyes and I am curious what they were. Its a small detail - I know - but something I'll always wonder about. 

They also did chromosome testing on him, they said this would tell us if its a gene one of us is carrying or if it was a sporatic occurance. They've all said it was probably sporatic, but I'm not getting my hopes up incase it was genetic.  If it is genetic our risk is 1 in 4 of this happening again, if it was sporatic then our risk is 4%.  So it'll make a big difference as far as deciding if we will try for more babies or not.  We both know that we want more, but if our risk is 25% then we will have to seriously reconsider if/when we will want to try to get pregnant again...

Looking into the future
I'm not looking forward to Derrick returning to work next week. He's been my rock, my main support through all of this. I'm planning to keep myself busy for awhile so that I'm not just sitting around at home.  Perhaps this is my chance to reconnect with people and get out of the house.

Each day gets easier and easier, although not by much. I still feel like its going to be a long trying road for us. I plan to start looking at support groups soon so I can meet other parents who have gone through this greiving process before us... But it may be awhile before I feel up to actually attending a support group. I guess we'll just have to see how I feel.

"Precious Little One, We had you in our lives such a very short time, but we’ll hold you in our hearts forever. It seemed like only a fleeting moment, but it was long enough to see you, touch you, hold you, love you. It was long enough to know that your life was indeed a gift- no matter how brief, no matter how fragile, Your life was indeed a gift, and we’ll hold you in our hearts forever."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One Week... A letter to Gabriel.

"Some people only dream of meeting an angel, we held one in our arms"

Sweet Gabriel, our little man

Today is one of the days I wasn't counting down to, I never wanted to say "its been a whole week...". I want to say that I love and miss you so much, every minute of every day I'm thinking about you. I wish you were here with us, I want to hold you and love you, I want to snuggle with you and feed you and do all those things mommy's are supposed to do.

You were wanted, loved, and prayed for from the start. You are perfect in every way.  You may not have had any kidneys, bladder, or enough lung development, but you were created perfect for the purpose you were designed for - to be our angel.

We'll never forget the moments we spent being your parents. Your presense in our lives has taught us to live life to its fullest, it has taught us about love, life and hope.  We will never be the same people as we were before you came into our lives. 

We will always love and remember the times you spent playing and kicking inside mommy's tummy. Seeing you on the ultrasound screen sucking your hands and wiggling your feet. The times I would inconveniently have to run to the bathroom because you thought my bladder made an excellent pillow. The nights you kept me awake by kicking and dancing - I was tired and frustrated - but loved feeling your life inside me.

We spent much time preparing for your birthday, but nothing could have prepared us for the love we felt as we got to meet you, kiss you, and tell you how much we love you. Especially for the surprise you gave us by hiding you boy parts during the ultrasounds. We could feel your warmth, feel your soft skin and hold you tight.  You left us, surrounded by the people who love you the most... Everyone was there for you, to love you and to say farewell to you.  Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I didn't want you to be gone, I didn't want to let you go... Nobody should have to say goodbye so soon after meeting someone so sweet. You gave us everything you had during those 35 minutes we spent with you. Although I never got to see your eyes and never got to see your smile, I know you were saving your strength to stay with us just a little longer.

We are so blessed to have been chosen as your parents, to have gotten this time to spend with you and cherish you. To be lucky enough to have such a beautiful angel watching over us. Thank you for everything you have taught us on this journey we traveled together. You're in our hearts forever and beyond.

- We will love you forever and always -
Your mommy and daddy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gabriel Ray - Rest In Peace.

The morning we met Gabriel came and went. That afternoon we were able to go home and be with Miss Evelyn. We relaxed, we cried, we held eachother close. That night I walked out to my car to get something, i noticed the moon was in the east sky - it was almost dark. Right next to the moon was a single star. It was shining extra bright and twinkling beautifully. For about 15 minutes I stood there crying and talking to Gabriel, it felt as though our little angel was shining a special star for us that night. We felt so loved, surrounded by his presence and the warm embrace of his tiny angel wings.

 Rest In Peace Gabriel Ray
On Monday, December 12th at 2pm, a small group of friends and family came out to the cemetary to lay our little man to rest. David from the funeral home offered to let us see Gabriel one last time before he put our last few items with him and sealed the cradle (infant casket). We had decided we wouldn't because we had said our goodbyes at the hospital. However, after asking him what to expect Gabriel to look like, I decided I had to see him one last time and give him one last kiss. Gabriel looked so comfy snuggled up in his blanket with his bear. He looked better than he did the day he was born - his color was normal, he looked so peaceful. Derrick and I both gave him a final kiss and said goodbye before he closed the cradle tight.

Derrick carried our angel over to his plot where he would lay to rest forever. I carried the 3 roses we brought him, one from me, one from Daddy, and one from Evelyn. The service was short (December in MN tends to be chilly). I was tough for me because it felt so final, it was over, he was gone... officially gone.

As we walked away my heart felt heavy. I didn't want to leave him there all alone...

Our family came back to our place where we had sandwiches served by Derrick's family. I was able to connect my computer to our TV so that we could play the slideshow photos of his short but precious life here with us.  Derrick put in a cd of soft piano music. It was wonderful to share Gabriel's birthday photos with our families.

That evening, after everyone left - we reminised on the last few months of our lives, the moments we spent with him, and the day he was born.

Morning Mourning
Mornings seem to be the hardest on me. I wake up crying as I realize I'm not pregnant anymore, I'm not carrying him with me... he isn't here. I struggle to get the courage to get out of bed, I could stay there all day.

Luckily, Evelyn always comes to find us. It never fails, she always manages to put a smile on my face encouraging me to get up and play. That's where I find most of my motivation to start each day.  I have moments throughout the day when my heart gets heavy and I might fall apart, but I also have moments when I just feel so blessed that he is watching over me.

A constant reminder...
Sunday morning, my milk supply came in. The constant throbbing pain reminds me every moment that I don't get to feed Gabriel, I don't get to hold him in my arms anymore. It seems as though my body is craving my baby as much as my heart is...  I don't know what hurts more, the physical throbbing pain or the emotional pain that follows.

Support System comes around
Since he was born, our friends and family have not left our side. They are checking on us, calling us, and reminding us that they are there if they need anything. Some people are bringing us dinners so we don't have to worry about that part of our day, some people are just coming by to show love and support to us.

Its been remarkable, the way people have really been there for us. Now that the burial is over though, it seems to be slowing down a bit. Which is ok because Derrick has been wanting time just to ourselves to mourn and grieve.

Our house looks and smells beautiful. We've recieved numerous bouquets of flowers. It really brightens a persons day - especially in the middle of MN winter - to see beautiful, colorful flowers all around you. My house looks like spring! My favorite!

We continue to take each day as it comes, each moment as it comes. Its a rough and rocky road, but its a journey...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recieved a surprise today!

My mom had been texting me the last couple days, she kept telling me they were up to something but wouldn't tell me what. I was actually a little nervous about having a surprise... wasn't feeling up to "surprises" given what we are currently working through. Little did I know this surprise was going to be beyond worth it.

Around 12:30 I was writing my message to be buried with Gabriel - already a semi emotional moment for me - when our doorbell rings. Derrick goes to answer it but went outside instead of letting them in, I was confused. Next thing I know, in walks my younger brother Patrick!

Background story:  My younger brother has been stationed out at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert California since August. It was upsetting to me that out of our entire family he wasn't able to be here, that he couldn't get away from the Army to come be with is family during this time...

Little did I know that my older brother had arranged for him to come home! What an emotional, but very pleasant surprise for me! My family gets to be all together, and he gets to be here for the burial on Monday!

He's in the Wolves jersey

Still can't believe he's here, that he was able to get away for a weekend to come home when I wanted him here the most...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gabriel's Birth Story...

Gabriel Ray's Birthday
4lbs 8.6oz - 17 inches long

This is the detailed birth story of our angel. Its the best as I can remember.  My disclaimer is that it is detailed. I chose to include as much detail as I could so that someone in our situation would be able to see what we went through and how our labor and delivery story is told.

Preparing for induction
On 12/7/11 we went in at noon to have the prostaglandin gel inserted. Then we went back at 6pm for round 2. When we got there they monitored my uterus for awhile and discovered that I was actually having  minor contractions every 3 minutes or so, this was a surprise as usually the gel doesn't have that result. So they sent us home to relax and get some sleep. The contractions continued all night, by 3:30 I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. My mind was racing a million miles per hour. I called the hospital a 6:30am to confirm that we were set to go for our induction and they told us to go ahead and come in at 7:30am. We arrived right on time and got settled into our room right away. It was nice because they put us at the end of the hall so we wouldn't be distracted by all the new babies and parents as this could be hard on us. They also had a sign on our door that said "Please check in at the  nurse station" and had a "Forget me not"  on it - obviously a notice of what we were about to be going through.

It took them a long time to find a vein for the IV. My veins were not cooperating for them and they had to call in the professionals. By 9 they had finally gotten the IV in and the Pitocin started. Our Doula was there and friends and family were coming and going to show their love and support. The contractions didn't really pick up at all and we were just sort of waiting... for a long time. By 1pm we still had little to no progress. They were uping the Pitocin by 2 every 1/2 hour or so. We were walking and walking and taking breaks in between. But nothing seemed to be working. They were saying that if we got to 30 (which would be about 7pm) that they would disconnect the Pitocin and do another round of cervical gel overnight and trying again in the morning. They were beginning to talk like this could go on into Thursday and Friday... I was so frustrated.

At that point I didn't think I could mentally handle dragging this on for days and days. I had an emotional meltdown. I understood that they wanted to take it slow to improve our chances of having some time with our angel baby, but I hoped it would go faster than this...  I had to let go of the control and let things happen as they were intended to. This time it wasn't up to me. Our doctors knew what they were doing, I'm so glad I decided to let it go and see what happened.

At about 6pm the contractions had picked up a lot. It was getting tougher to walk through them  but we kept on walking and using the birthing ball, eventually we decided to take a break. They checked me and I was finally at 1cm.

At 8:30 we decided we needed a break. They gave me some Fentanyl to try to get some rest. The first dose only seemed to make it worse, the contractions intensified and got closer together. So they gave me another bigger dose and that helped a bit, I was at least getting a small amount of relief from the contractions that now seemed to be right on top of eachother. 
They gave me another large dose shortly after that and I was really able to rest. I even slept for a short time. Derrick said it was only like 10 minutes, but to me it felt like an hour. They checked me again at 11pm and I was at a 3cm and 80% effaced! Finally feeling like we were making progress - what a relief.

I spent some time on the birthing ball, bouncing and working through contractions. By 1am they called Dr Landers because they knew we were getting close, she checked me again and I had reached 5cm. I spent about an hour soaking in the tub working through contractions with Derrick and our Doula by my side. Derrick contacted our families to let them know it was getting close to time. Eventually they realized I'd hit transition and should probably get out of the tub before I get the urge to push.

When I got out of the tub at about 2:10am, Dr Landers checked again and I had reached 9cm - almost time! They got Dr Buchbinder (who was apparently waiting in the room next door) and proceeded to prepare the room. By the time the room was ready we checked again and I had reached 10cm!

I had mixed emotions at this point. It was time to meet our angel, I didn't know if I had the strength to push him out... To add to the emotional struggle, he was coming breech. Now comes the moment of wondering if we would have trouble with our breech delivery as we had feared since we knew he was breech.

Pushing time. Delivery was much tougher than it was with Evelyn. It took longer and it was much more painful. I pushed for about 18 minutes, his head was stuck for about 5 of that.

After his butt came out I heard Derrick say "It's a boy!" Much to our surprise! Luckily we had prepared for a boy just in case and had clothes and things for both genders.

2:36am - After 18 hours of pitocin and 6 hours of active labor, Gabriel is born!
As he came out, they thought he had already passed... They handed him directly to me and he immediately tryed to take a breath -  but his lungs were just too underdeveloped. I had to get their attention so that they would realize he wasn't already gone.  I told him how much I loved him, how much I cherished him and that I would never forget the last 9 months we spent together. After Derrick had his time with his son, I got him back and wished him a happy birthday, told him I love him a million more times and snuggled him... The whole time the photographer was there, very respectfully taking photos without interferring with our time.

After about 10 minutes by ourselves, we invited our parents in, then the rest of our family that had arrived. Everyone got to see him alive! What a blessing! My dad even requested them to bring us holy water and was able to baptise him for us. We kept him in our arms, surrounded by all of those who loved him the most, he was completely surrounded by the love of our family and friends as he passed at 3:11am. We were so blessed to have 35 very precious moments with our beloved son, after which we gave our families the opportunity to hold and kiss him too.

We spent some time with him after everyone had left, we cuddled with him, held him and kissed him over and over again. Then our amazing nurse came in and measured him at 17 inches, weighed him at 4lbs 8.6oz. It was 5am and we were exhausted so we requested that they took him to the nursery for a few hours so we could get some sleep.

When we woke up at 8:30am we requested to see him again... Derrick spent some time with his baby boy and we both began saying our goodbyes. We knew we'd be going home that same afternoon so we wanted to make sure we had enough time with him. The nurses worked to gather the requested footprints, handprints, hair lockets and other things we'd requested (we requested a lot, we only had one chance and this was it, I wasn't going to miss a thing).

Leaving was tough. Neither one of us wanted to leave him there. I could have stayed there with him forever if they'd let me. But, we had a really cute little girl at home who was dying to see us, and we were dying to see her too. So we loaded up all the beautiful flowers and thoughtful gifts we'd recieved during our short hospital stay and headed for home. Missing our Gabriel every step of the way...

Here's some select pictures we recieved from our  NILMDTS photographer...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our NILMDTS Maternity photos.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a network of volunteer photographers who come in at a families request to photograph their tiny ones after their birth. But I also found out that they do maternity photos. So the day before Gabriel's birth we went to one of the photographers homes and had maternity photos done. She was an incredibly sweet and sensitive woman who really worked well with us and Evelyn.

Here are a few of the photos she took for us to always remember our final days spent with our tiny angel.


Will post a longer version soon - but I wanted everyone following our journey to hear our news.

We were surprised when our tiny angel was born with a little something between his legs. Gabriel Ray was born on 12/8/11 at 2:36am after 18 hours of Pitocin induced labor. We were blessed with 35 very precious moments with him before he passed at 3:11am. That was my final wish - that we would get a few moments with our tiny angel, those brief moments will carry me through the rest of this journey.

I'll update the longer story at a later time. Thank you for all your continued love and support as we travel this road.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Its almost time - induction process starts tomorrow...

Its hard to believe that tomorrow we start the induction process, starting with the gel.  This has come up really fast for us. Where did the last 2 weeks go? In fact, where did the last few months go?

Today we went to the funeral home to prepare the arrangements. Bradshaw Funeral Home does free preparations for infants and children which is why we chose to go with them. They usually do cremation, but we didn't feel this was the right choice for our little angel. So we purchased a 19 inch casket and prepared for burial. They said it was pretty safe to plan for a Monday at 2pm burial at Guardian Angels cemetary. If something changes (like she isn't born till Thursday) then we will change it and let everyone know.  We will be bringing the funeral home an outfit, bear (specially made by grandma T at Build A Bear), and a blanket to wrap her in (specially made by Grandma Lois) to bury with her.  But anything else they would need from us can be done by phone.

After the appointment at the funeral home (which was conveniently right next door to our clinic) we went to our last OB visit and Evelyn's 18 month wellness check. The OB visit was breif, mostly just disgussed our plans and answered any questions we had. Evelyn's appointment went well too. She's healthy as a horse and is above average in some areas!  Such a big girl at 18 months - 27.7lbs - 32 inches tall! She's right around the 80th percentile in all areas.

We've recieved many comments and messages on Facebook as well as some very nice phone calls and text messages from people showing their love and support. Its amazing all the prayers and love we've recieved from everyone.

Tomorrow we go to get the first round of gel put in around noon. Dr Landers said that I may feel very crampy afterwards (but should only be temporary) or I may not feel anything at all. After the gel is put in, we are going to the NILMDTS photographer's house to get maternity photos done in her studio. Hoping Evelyn cooperates for these as its sort of our only chance. Then at 6pm we go in for another round of gel.

My best friend Emily is coming up to be with us tomorrow night. She's going to help keep me company and keep us preoccupied and upbeat (as much as possible I suppose). She will be staying the night with us incase anything happens and will be going with us to the hospital while my mom sits and waits for Evelyn to wake up.  She is going to keep us company while we are waiting for the Pitocin to kick in, she is also going to be there for support and anything else we need while we are waiting for labor to start and our doula to arrive around 9.   She's been so supportive and helpful through this whole process, I guess there's a reason we've been best friends for 10 years.

Today we feel strong. We are confident that we are doing the right thing and that its the right time. In a weird way it almost feels like a relief to be so close to seeing our little angel. Its still so very hard, its incredibly frightening, and unbelievably emotional, but we are confident in the decisions we've made up to this point and including this one now. 

We are taking it moment by moment, one step at a time. So far that seems to be the best way we know how.

Derrick's fear is the labor and delivery. He's afraid of having me go through a labor and delivery and to have the end result so terrible. Plus the dangers of deliverying a breech baby and the possibilty of her getting stuck. My fear is the emotional road we will be taking after she is here. Labor and delivery isn't so scary to me right now.  But I will always have the love and support we've been shown and will continue to be shown to fall back on and keep me strong.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Last Week

Well, we're officially down to our last week with Ms Gabrielle. I suspect it will be a tough week ahead, but also know that the following weeks may be even tougher.

Had a couple appointments today. First we met with Dr Buchbinder for one last time before our induction. We got to see our little angel one last time before her birth. He confirmed that she is breech still and his best guess is that she weighs just over 3lbs. But that was just an estimate. Because there is no stomach that they can see it makes measuring a bit more difficult because they use that as a marker to estimate the weight. She still looks strong. We confirmed the plans for Tuesday and Wednesday. I go in Tuesday at noon and 6pm to get the gel put in, then we go back at 6am on Wednesday to start the Pitocin. 

I'm hoping and praying that labor goes relatively fast. They told us to plan for a Wednesday evening delivery but if for some reason its not progressing fast it could be Thursday too. But they seem to think that because my body has done this before, hopefully it'll respond to the Pitocin rather quickly.

After that appointment they set me up for an x-ray of my spine to determine where exacly the rods and fusions are located. As expected, the ultrasound techs were a bit nervous about doing an x-ray on a pregnant woman, but after a breif explanation they did it without question. The reason for the x-ray is incase a c-section is needed, we'd need to know whether a spinal is an option or not. Also, incase labor gets to emotionally tough, it'd be nice to know whether or not an epidural is a possible backup plan. I don't think we'll need a spinal or an epidural (my doula is amazing and got me through with Evelyn no problem).

I also made a call to the funeral home, we will meet with them on Monday to disguss arrangements. I also talked to my pastor and said he or our associate pastor will be able to attend the burial and do a quick "service" for us. I'm so glad they'll be able to take care of that part for us.

I also got in contact with a NILMDTS photographer. She is going to do maternity pictures for us on Tuesday and then will be there after she is delivered to do photos for us then. I'm glad we decided to do pictures. Even if we never look at them, at least we know we have them if we want. We only have one shot at this and I don't want to miss anything.

So it's been a very long and productive week. Things are starting to fall into place, as things work out in our favor it feels more and more right.  Its hard, its scary, and its so so sad, but we feel like we are doing the right thing.

Thank you for all your continued love, support, thoughts and prayers during our journey.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - induction scheduled.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I believe Thanksgiving is God's gift to the pregnant women!  This year we have so much to be thankful for. Eachother, our beautiful daughter Evelyn, amazing family and friends, a house, jobs, an extraordinary support system, a daughter we haven't yet met but has taught us so much about love and life, our amazing doula and doctors, and all the strength and support we recieve from everyone - including complete strangers... But our hearts are weighing a bit heavy today.

This may be the toughest blog to date for me. Last night we officially got on the schedule for our induction. We will go to the hospital the evening of Tuesday, December 6th to get the Prostaglandin gel put in, this is used to ripen the cervix and prepare it for dilation. On Wednesday, December 7th we will begin the Pitocin induction. We scheduled it this way so that it is easier for Dr Landers to be there too. Even though Dr Buchbinder will be delivering our baby, it was important to both us and Dr Landers that she be there and be part of it.

Hard to believe we are less than 2 weeks out from Gabrielle's big day. This part has been tougher than we imagined. Its now official, I can't believe we're already this far along that we are planning the induction. It seems like it wasn't so long ago that we got the diagnosis - even though it has been nearly 3 months ago already. I thought I was ready for this, it feels right... Yet the last 24 hours have been extremely emotionally draining for us.

Prayer Requests
We know there have been a ton of thoughts and prayers  coming our way through this entire journey. We have been so appreciative of all of it, it means the world to us to know how much love and support we have.  Now with her birthday set, we have some prayer requests.

For Us:
- For our strength, peace, and faith as we move into the next 2 weeks of our lives.
- That our labor and delivery go as planned with no complications.
- That we are blessed with some very precious time before Gabrielle passes on.
- That we remain strong during our greiving process for the coming weeks and months.
- That we always know how much love and support we have from everyone around us, and that we use our support system to help us get through this.

For Gabrielle:
- That she be given some time to meet the parents and family that love her so dearly.
- That she feel and know that she is loved so dearly by us and so many others.
- That she not suffer, and her passing be peaceful.

Thank you to everyone for your continued love and support during this extremely difficult time in our lives.  If you intend to be in the waiting room for the delivery and haven't already let us know, please do so that way we know how many people plan to be there. Thank you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Doctor Appointment Update.

Had our OB appointment today. Which proved to be quite productive, before we left they managed to give both Evelyn and Derrick a flu shot... sound familiar? Last time it was me getting stabbed with needles. Guess it was their turn!
We had a long talk about our options and it seems Dr Landers is also leaning away from a c-section. We talked mostly about our options for a breech delivery. She had talked to Dr Buchbinder on the phone and they disgussed our options prior to our appointment today. He did say that he would be willing to deliver our little girl for us regardless of when we decide to induce and that he would be willing to travel to Woodwinds to deliver for us. Exciting news for us! Dr Landers sounded as though she wanted to work with Dr Buchbinder for our delivery and that even though she wouldn't be the delivering doctor, she would be there. Maybe she'd be assisting, or just being there to make sure everything goes well and for support. I LOVE our doctor - she's a really special lady.

Our options for delivery are kinda tough too. If we induce soon that means that it'll probably take longer for the pitocin to kick in labor, it'll be a longer and harder process. However, the delivery would be quicker and easier because Gabrielle is small still. OR, do we wait it out till we are 38 or 40 weeks and either go into labor naturally or induce, this means that pitocin would probably work faster and better, but would make the delivery a bit tougher as the baby will be bigger at that point. So - do we want a longer harder labor or a tougher delivery? Decisions decisions... and tough ones at that.

Christmas approaching is a big part of our conversations about what we want to do.  If we wait till we are closer to 40 weeks, delivering a bigger baby but maybe without induction or hopefully the pitocin will kick in - we risk going into labor a couple days before Christmas, or maybe even Christmas day... However, if we deliver at the beginning of December we will have a couple weeks to grieve before Christmas approaches. We can focus on making Evelyn's Christmas special and hopefully that will provide a happy moment for us in our grieving process... 
If it seems that we are leaning towards an earlier delivery, its because we are... The idea of a longer tougher labor is scary, but with my doula and Derrick's help - I think I can make it through... and maybe a little help from a friend named Nubane (just to take the edge off). The idea of her being born on Christmas or a few days before saddens me. But also the idea of deliverying a bigger baby thats breech is scary too.
Hopefully we'll be making our final decision soon - maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, it just depends on how our next few conversations unfold. I'll be sure everyone is posted on our final decision as soon as we have one.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just a quick update.

Yesterday, I was able to get in touch with an anestesiologist who works for St Joes Hospital. He was so sweet and understanding of our situation and really took a lot of time to talk to me about our possibilities.

He started by saying that the only way to be awake during a c-section is to have a spinal. I knew this already, but was hoping for some uncommon, unheard of possibility.  However, he did say that he has colleagues who have done spinals for patients with Herrington Rods (YAY!) I about jumped out of my skin when he told me this, it was the first bit of possitive news we've recieved in a long time. There is a chance, if we have a c-section, that I could be awake! 

Then he started going into the risks and possible outcomes. Having any kind of implant in your body makes your risk of infection higher. Seeing as how the rods are on my spine, my risk of infection would be even higher than normal. This could mean any number of things. It could be as simple as getting antibiotics and being fine, or it could mean something has serious as having some of my hardware removed or possibly worse.

We also talked about a breech delivery and what medications would be good for our situation. He recommended Nubane because if we only use a small amount to take the edge off, there would be no amnesia side effects. The last thing I want is to opt for a breech delivery and end up not remembering those moments after her birth!

So now we are in a place of deciding on risks (hey, I thought 4 months ago they said there was no risk to me in carrying this baby to term!  Her being breech has seriously complicated things!)  Which risk is less risky to take? I have no idea. Delivering breech has some serious potential complications: Baby getting stuck, having a c-section anyways and other things. Having a c-section is surgery, invasive surgery, with the potential for infection and other things.

I have an appointment to see my OBGYN, Dr Landers, on Monday. I'm going to give her all the facts I've recieved this week and have her help weigh our risks. Whichever way seems less risky is the way we'll most likely be taking. Like my mom said, so far through this we've been following our hearts, following our parenting instincts and doing whatever we felt best for us and for our baby. Now,  because of the risks that are on our plate, its time to start following our brains. Its not worth risking my life for a baby that we already know isn't going to make it - although most of the time I don't feel that way, I look at Evelyn's face and realize: mom's right.

Regardless of whether we chose c-section or breech delivery, once again we are back to having to pick her birthdate (and here I thought we were out of those woods). Although now,  she's just about full term (33 weeks) it doesn't seem so tough to make that decision. We've given her all the time, all the love and everything we have in us to give her. It doesn't feel like we are terminating a pregnancy but instead we are picking what day we want her to be born.  At the same time, I feel like if I get given one more tough decision to make through this my brain is going to lose it. I just don't have it in me anymore to continue making these decisions.  It seems like everytime we see a doctor we have more tough decisions to make, more tough things to think about.  The decisions we've made so far have proven to not be the right ones since nothing seems to be working out.  So in a way, having her arrival come and go almost appears to be a relief in some ways. 

It seems that we are feeling the beginning of December for her arrival. After Thanksgiving, we'll have her and begin the greiving process. Then we'll have a small happy break for Christmas Day and can return to greiving the day after. It seeems like the best time, the most open window for us.

I will never regret the decision to carry her as long as we can.  It has been the longest, hardest road we've travelled. Its been emotional, heart breaking and stressful. But, we have learned so much from this little girl. Medically we've learned more than I could have imagined, but more importantly, we've learned so much about love and life, caring and happiness and everything in between. For that I will always be thankful. Gabrielle's imprint on our lives is so special, so permanent. Keeping her has given us time, time to love her, time to get to know her, time to have her with our family, and also time to say good bye. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

I just wish she wasn't breech so we could have gone about this as we had planned - a natural delivery by my doctor at our hospital, just like we wanted. But we're taking one day at a time, one fact at a time, one issue at a time and hoping everything will come together in the end.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dr. Buchbinder visit - Still breech.

Had a visit this morning with Dr Buchbinder of Perinatology Consultations LLC in St Paul. Not someone we'd met before but very nice. He threw me off at first, a man looking identical to Ben Stiller comes walking in the room and starts giving me my enitre medical history of Herrington Rods, previous birth and miscarraige etc. He'd apparently read my entire history before meeting us. He was very sweet, very sincere, and very caring.

He did a check via ultrasound. Still no fluid, still can't see any kidneys. He did say that he may have found a bladder but isn't sure. A bladder is no good to us without kidneys anyways. He said its getting harder and harder to see because we are now in 3rd trimester with no fluid so its very hard to see the baby on the ultrasound. The pictures are coming out less clear now too.

He said Gabrielle is still breech and at this point, he's pretty sure she won't be able to flip. With no fluid there really isn't any room for her to flip over. He did say that he's delivered many breech babies without problem and that, if we chose, he would be willing to also deliver ours (since our Dr isn't really comfortable delivering a breech baby). He doesn't recommend a c-section unless thats what we chose, but he sees it as unnecessary surgery in this case.

His recommendation:
He suggested we should consider inducing sooner rather than later and delivering a smaller breech  baby. There is still a lot of risk in delivering a breech baby, but the smaller the better. He wasn't pushing us to induce, but suggested that it may be the better option since she is breech. Being breech she could get stuck. Her body could come out and her head could get stuck which would cause a medical emergency, possible surgery, and could cause them to take extreme measures to get her out. Although he did seem semi confident that it wouldn't be too much of an issue if she's smaller. But that puts us back at deciding on a date to deliver. He was very sincere about making sure we didn't view it as a date to terminate, but a date to deliver and hopefully meet our little girl. Although it feels like a termination date...

He said we could try a version, to flip the baby manually, but that with no fluid its not likely to work. Although I heard its quite painful, I might have to at least let them try. We'll see what Dr Landers says about it.

He also suggested that we should consider delivering at St Johns instead of Woodwinds because St Johns has staff specifically for this type of situation, staff who deals with premature births and babies who may not make it. They also have a NICU incase something changes when she is born and the diagnosis was wrong. He said its fairly obvious what the diagnosis is, but they are only doctors not God.

I did learn something new however, he said that it is possible the kidneys had originally formed but did so incorrectly and ended up shriveling up and being disfunctional. I didn't know that. I thought it was simply that they didn't form at all. He recommended getting an autopsy (which we already planned to do) to confirm this. Not that it would necessarily change anything, but that it would give us answers.

He set me up with an anestesiologist to disguss medicine options for me. I want to find out what I can have that won't cause any sort of amnesia effect, but also if I have a c-section, do I have any options other than a spinal (which I can't have) and general anestesia.

Common Questions I've gotten:
There are 2 questions I seem to get quite frequently, and I finally remembered to get the official medical explanation for them today.

1) Where did the fluid go? At 15 weeks, we had a normal amount of fluid, at 20 weeks we had none. Where did all the fluid go? Well, Dr Buchbinder said that the baby probably swallowed it and breathed it for a short time and when it didn't go anywhere (no kidney's to go to) it essentially got absorbed by my body and the babies. Without kidneys the baby wasn't producing its own fluid (via urine) and so no fluid re-entered my uterus

2) How does a baby live in there with no fluid?  Dr Buchbinder said that the only thing the baby needs at this point to live is oxygen. Its getting its oxygen from me through the umbilical cord. Its not breathing in the fluid and so its lungs aren't developing which means it won't be able to breath upon birth - causing the condition to be fatal.

The hardest part:
The toughest part of all of this is the unknown. They can't tell us if the baby might flip, they can't tell us if the baby will make it another day without pinching off the umbilical cord causing it to die in utero, they can't tell us if the baby will make it through labor and delivery, they can't tell us how much time the baby has if it isn't still born. We have no idea what to plan for, how to prepare and what to do.

We basically have 2 options at this point. We induce soon and deliver a breech baby, which poses much risk and grusome possibilities. OR we plan for a c-section and I give up any time I might have with the baby if she comes out alive, since it takes time to wake up from general anestesia and time is what we don't have.  He said we could just keep doing what we are doing and make the decision at birth, but the baby would be bigger causing more risk for breech delivery, and a possible need for a c-section...

Neither of our options seem ideal, I woudn't chose either if I could. I wish I had someone to just say "your life is at risk, we're taking the baby out now!" so I wouldn't have any choices anymore. I feel like I can't continue making these choices, but have to. I don't know what to do, if baby was head down we could deliver as normal, but she's breech. Why not though right? That seems to be our luck. Everything I've wished for in this situation, hasn't worked out in our favor.

Thank you for the love and support. It means so much to us to have so many people following our story, reading about Gabrielle and sending us love and well wishes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Enlightened 4D Imaging and Photography (plus a SURPRISE)

Previous 4D ultrasound experience
When I was pregnant with Evelyn, I wanted a 4D ultrasound done. With a simple Google search I pulled up Enlightened 4D Imaging (they were based in our town then - they've since moved to Bloomington). They are a family owned/run business and I was pleased with what I'd seen on their website. We purchased a package that included two 4D Ultrasound sessions and a newborn photography session. We loved it and so did our family and friends, it was so cool to see what she looked like in there! Then when she was 1 week old we went and had the newborn photos done that turned out amazing. We were VERY pleased with our experience.

Evelyn at about 32 weeks

4D Ultrasound with Potter's Syndrome
When I met Melanie she mentioned to me that Enlightened Imaging does free ultrasounds for babies with terminal conditions. I'd been to them before 2 years ago so I knew exactly who she was talking about, and I was excited. However, having no fluid I knew this would be difficult and we'd be lucky if we got any pictures. I called Jon Titus (the owner/ultrasound tech) to inquire. He simply said "we won't know what we can get until we try." So we scheduled an appointment right away to go in (next day!).

I was hopeful we'd be able to see our little angel baby, but this proved to be difficult. Not only because there's no fluid, but also because the legs, arms and cord are all bundled up in front of the face making it nearly impossible to see anything. We did get to see a mumbled picture of the face, but couldn't make out much. 

He was able to see that baby is still breech, I explained my fear about this and he suggested we ask our doctor about doing an inversion - so I'm going to ask about this at my next OB appointment.

Right Hand (fist)

We explained that because of the lack of fluid (and baby's position), nobody has been able to tell us the gender. We said that we are carefully assuming its a boy because we've thought that all along, and also because the statistics we'd read suggested that there's a 80% male dominance with this condition.  He asked if we wanted him to tell us if he could see anything, and we said yes. By the end of the ultrasound he was 85% sure baby is a GIRL! SURPRISE!  So now, Gabriel Ray is Gabrielle Rae! We are going from saying "He" to "She"!

As you can see, its difficult to see the gender, but the mouse pointer shows the "hamburger" making us believe its a SHE!


I highly recommend Enlightened to all my pregnant friends who live in the twin cities. They are a wonderful family doing wonderful things for expecting parents. They have such warm hearts and care so much about their clients.

Here's their link:

So, although we couldn't get any good 4D pictures, we were able to get a better idea of the gender as well as another chance to see our precious angel. For us this was still a success!

Monday, November 7, 2011

OB Appointment today...

Finally got my butt in to see Dr Lander's and nurse Amber today.I haven't been seen since 18 weeks - I'm 31 weeks now!  They've definitely moved into a really nice clinic!  It was nice to finally catch up with them both about the situation and how we're doing. Dr Lander's and I had a nice chat about things that she'd come across, and concerns as well as my concerns.  We also talked about my emotional well-being and where I stand for delivery. I did tell her that my doula and I had met with someone about our birth plan and that I would do my best to get her a copy of that, she wants to go over it with me at one of my next appointments.

Unfortunetly I have missed so many appointments that we had some catching up to do, glucose test for gestational diabetes, flu shot etc. Fun stuff. 

She did an exam and my belly is only measuring 2 weeks behind at 29 weeks instead of 31. That means the little one must be growing plenty. I was surprised, without the fluid I would have expected to measure way behind, but apparently not.

His heartbeat was at 130 today, good and strong.

I also weighed in at 158lbs. This means I have gained 20lbs so far. This is the same amount I gained with Evelyn at this point. I was surprised by this too because I would have thought I would have gained less given there's no fluid. But Dr Landers said the baby only accounts for 15lbs of your weight gain at full term, so in reality it shouldn't be that much different than normal.

She did recommend I go in for another ultrasound sometime in the next week, so I will be scheduling that soon.  I am hoping this baby is no longer breech. If the baby is breech the concern is that it may be tough for the baby to flip since there's no fluid in there and its very tight quarters.  If the baby is breech this would call for an instant c-section upon delivery. This would be the worst case scenario for me. I can't have a spinal (previous back surgery and spine issues) so I would have to have general anestesia and be completly knocked out. This means that if Gabriel is born alive, I would most likely miss it entirely...  :(  Derrick and I have talked about the plan if this were to happen or if I would need an emergency c-section for any reason, but I don't like to think about that too much.

We are already at the point of seeing Dr Landers every 2 weeks (which only means we're getting that much closer to due) so I'll be going back soon.  Can't believe we only have 2 more months until we are due...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Received some much needed love and support...

Over the last couple months, we've received cards, emails, phone calls and various messages that are supportive, emotional, and SO appreciated. Sometimes on a bad day, its just nice to check the mail and get a special message from someone who loves and cares about us.

My co-workers are awesome!
This weekend, I was at work and a couple co-workers came up to me with a surprise. Meti (and Tiffany) had a card. This card was not only signed by my co-workers with their love, support and well-wishes, but also with cash. The amazing people I work with had donated money to help cover at least some of the costs and expenses we are about to endure. After Meti gave me the card, I managed to hold it together until I went into the locker room  and read the messages written inside... then I lost it. What a generous way to show their love and support. I'll never forget the thoughtfulness, the care, the love and support I felt from my fellow employees this weekend. <3

Derrick was thrilled, he was ESPECIALLY happy to see how much support I have at work (lord knows how he worries). But he was also very thankful for the financial assistance, every little bit will help us be able to provide the memorial we need for ourselves, and that little Gabriel deserves.

I only hope, someday they'll know how much I appreciated this gesture. Maybe someday I'll be able to return the favor or show them how much it meant to us. In fact, I hope someday everyone will know how much all the thoughts and well-wishes mean to us, it really helps us get through an emotional day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adventures of Evelyn/Gabriel Updates

Its been a little while...
My computer has been out of commission due to a really bad virus (like so many people these days) and its taken some time to get things back up and running correctly. My entire computer had to be wiped out and started from scratch. In the process, I backed up my 14,000 pictures on a backup drive but somehow still lost 7,000 of them :(  I'm still in the process of recovering the missing pictures and have found 1,250 of the 7,000. Because of all this I haven't been able to do a blog update for a little while, so this one is going to be a bit longer as we have lots of catching up to do!

Afton Apple Orchard!
A couple weekends ago, my grandma, cousin Elise (from Oklahoma) and I took Evelyn to Afton Apple Orchard for a couple hours. Evelyn picked out her pumpkin and we picked one out for Gabriel too. Evelyn  thoroughly enjoyed climbing through the pumpkin patch and Elise taught her how to "march" so her feet wouldn't get stuck in the vines.

We walked and walked and walked around the entire orchard looking for one specific kind of Apple. It was nice because it gave Elise and I a chance to talk and catch up on how things are going with Gabriel and life in general.  We haven't seen eachother in a few years so it was nice to get caught up on how things are going for each of us.  Evelyn enjoyed the fresh air and nice outdoors too.

Apples are one of Evelyn's favorite fruits. She was a little confused at first as to why the apples were hanging from a tree. But she knew right away what it was and was trying to get to them. Most were a bit out of her reach and required mom's help to get to them.

Boy was she thrilled when she finally got one off the branch. She couldn't wait to take a bite. She quickly realized that these apples are even better than the ones you buy at the store! She ate the entire thing before we even made it back to get our apples weighed!

 After a our long walk around the orchard, she enjoyed some time playing on the hay pile. She didn't want to get off for quite some time and eventually I had to peel her away. Guess she isn't allergic to hay...

"Sea Life" - Mall of America.

I was a bit disappointed to see that "Sea Life" raised their prices again. Although Evelyn was free, it cost Derrick and I a total of $40 to get in. But we knew Evelyn would love it, so it was worth it for us. We were right, she was in awe while we were there. She loved the shark/sting ray tank at the entrance, I think it surprised her when they could swim right up to her face because they were right at her level.

The Jellyfish exhibit was pretty cool. If you go, make sure you read the facts in the jelly fish exhibit as they are VERY interesting creatures. Evelyn couldn't figure out what they were. I swear she could have sat there for hours watching them swim around.  

Once we got inside the tunnels, Evelyn was moving her head around like an owl trying to see everything around her. Occasionally she would get a little weirded out that she was surrounded by water, but then a shark or fish would catch her attention and she'd be fine again. She was pointing and watching every fish that moved around her.

Pumpkin Carving!
The night before Halloween we sat down to carve Evelyn's pumpkin. At first she was bored with this process as there wasn't a whole lot she could actually do to help (assuming that giving a small child a carving knife isn't such a good idea). So we gave her the job of holding the bowl of seeds so daddy could put more in. She liked that she could help do something and was enjoying the process after that.
When she figured out that the top goes on the pumpkin, she wouldn't let it be off of it. The whole time we were carving she kept trying to put it back on. This made it tough to carve the pumpkin, but with a little patience we succeeded.

 Her pumpkin turned out so cute. She definitely liked it. (I'm still convinced that her favorite part is the lid though).

Gabriel's pumpkin is the one next to Evelyn's. His pumpkin was found by Elise still attached to the vine, half the pumpkin was still green and its shape isn't quite right. Seemed fitting to be Gabriel's pumpkin. We were going to carve a "G" in it for Gabriel, but we decided not to. We have decided to leave Gabriel alone and let nature do its work, so we decided to do the same with his pumpkin, leave it as nature intended.

Late afternoon on Halloween, I took Evelyn to a few of the grandparent's houses trick or treating. She was the cutest little pink leopard!  After a couple family and friend's houses we went to pick up Derrick from work and then hit a few more grandparent's houses.

By this time, she'd figured out this game. "If I give you my bucket you'll put candies in it!" She was proudly sporting her bucket and filling it with candy at each house we went to.  

Gabriel Update
Not a whole lot to update actually.  There hasn't been any changes and we are still just waiting to see what happens. We have officially decided to let nature take its course as it would have anyways. I plan to go into labor naturally (provided I don't go overdue - most Potter's babies come early if anything). 

My medical care has basically been forgotten. I am working on making an OB appointment with my doctor as a lot of regular checks have been missed. In fact, other than seeing the specialists a couple times, I haven't been seen at all...


We are now 31 weeks along, which leaves us a very short 9 weeks left to enjoy his little life with us. We still pray for a miracle, but realize that the reality is:  he probably won't survive and come home with us.  Realizing that this is barely 2 months away is a bit devastating. On one hand, I can't wait to (hopefully) get to finally meet him, on the otherhand I want him to stay put as long as he can where he is safe and warm, where I can continue to enjoy him.

Sometimes, when I'm having a bad day, I feel so blessed. I can just curl up on the couch, wrap my body and arms around my belly and give Gabriel all the love and hugs I have in me. I can sit and hold him and enjoy him moving and playing inside. Others don't have that opportunity, how lucky am I?

Our Plans for Gabriel's Birthday (the tough stuff)
My mom is now on call to take Evelyn when we go into the hospital. Everyone else has been put on a contact list to be texted/called when we go in (If you want to be notified, send me an email/call/text me and I'll add you - immediate family is already on the list). Not knowing what to expect is making planning a bit difficult. But we do know this:  Our doula is going to be keeping our friends/family in the waiting room updated after he is born. She will let everyone know whether or not he has made it through the birthing process and what our status is.

If he is stillborn we will take time for just us and Evelyn, then invite people to come in and see him if they want, but only after we have taken our time. 

If he is born alive, my mom will bring Evelyn in to us right away and we will be taking some family time with just Derrick, Evelyn, Gabriel and I. After that, our doula will invite in all the grandparents that are there in the waiting room to meet him. After the grandparents she will invite our siblings, and after our siblings we will invite anyone else in. We won't know how much time (if any) we will have with him still alive, so we won't know if everyone who is there will get to meet him while he is alive, but we are hoping for the best. Also, depending on how much time we have, we would prefer not to have kids there. This is going to be a very emotional time for us and having kids running the hospital/room is going to be hard.

If you are there, I cannot guarantee you will get to hold him while he is still with us. Derrick and I may not let him go during that time. You are welcome to touch him, kiss him, talk to him, and anything else you feel in your heart. After he has passed however, everyone will have the opportunity to hold him if they choose.

Either way, we are hoping to have "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" there taking photos for us, and of course we invite anyone to bring cameras and take photos. We want as many pictures as possible on his birthday - so feel free.

There may be more details coming out over time. This is what we have planned for people so far. We want everyone to know what is going on in advance so our doula's "job" will be that much easier.

We have also put much thought into the funeral. Although we don't know when this will be, we know that we just want to have a small service (maybe just at the cemetary). After which will serve a small lunch at our place, I will keep everyone updated on the plans as they are panned out.

During this time, we have truly appreciated all the people who have been there for us. I may be asking favors of some people for his birthday and the days following. If you can't do something for whatever reason (emotionally, physically, or otherwise), please let me know. If there is something that I may not have thought of that may help us get through this time, please share your ideas with us. I'm thinking of the extra things like: helping us with lunch after the memorial, taking care of our dogs while we are at the hospital, and other things that come up in the meantime.

Meeting a new friend (a more positive note)
A co-worker of mine (Tiffany) told me about a girl she knew from middle school who was going through a similar situation as me. She said her name was Melanie and we should talk. We were sending messages a little bit on Facebook for awhile. Her daughter has an Anencephaly and is also not expected to live. She is due 10 days before me on December 24th.  One day last week, she posted on Facebook that she had nobody to go with her to an ultrasound she had scheduled. So I saw the opportunity to finally meet someone in person who was walking in my very same shoes. I jumped on the phone and offered to go with her. As odd as it sounds, seeing her walk out of the elevator was such a comfort for me. I finally feel like I'm not walking this unbeaten path through a dark forest alone, now I have someone walking the same path with me... She is very sweet, very busy (she has 3 little boys too!), but very thoughtful, caring, and hopeful. It was too bad we didn't have time to sit and chat a bit after the appointment, but I'm hopeful that, even with her busy schedule, we'll find time to meet periodically and talk more.

Now that I have my computer back, I'll be sure to post again soon!
Just a random picture of Evelyn that I liked!!