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!!