Sunday, March 31, 2013

week 32 : maternity pictures, appointments, and baby showers!

   What an exciting week this has been! It makes the time go by quickly and slowly at the same time - if that is even possible? We had two doctors appointments this week, our maternity pictures, and our first baby shower! It is definitely nice to stay busy and keep my mind off of things. I will start with the two doctors appointments.

Dr. Pohl
   Our appointment with Dr. Pohl was on Tuesday and consisted of our first NST (non-stress test). Basically I sat in a recliner and they strapped a monitor to my belly to monitor the baby's heartbeat - the same thing they use while you are in labor to monitor contractions. Typically, you keep the monitor on for about 20 minutes so they can get some good readings and see the changes in the heartbeat over time. About 5 minutes in to the monitoring Baby Murphy thought it would be a great idea to start KICKING the monitor... so they had to readjust it, and then yet another time after that! Eventually they were satisfied with the readings and I was able to head to one of the exam rooms to wait on Dr. Pohl. The baby did great for the NST and they said everything looked great. I am also STILL measuring at 38 weeks which means my fundal height hasnt increased at all. He checked my cervix and everything looks good there as well. His comment was "Well, you made it another week!" And that I have! So we will see him next Tuesday for another one of the same appointments.

Maternal-Fetal Specialists
   Our appointment with MFS was Friday and I was really hoping we would be able to see Dr. Read. There are several doctors in the practice but he is really my favorite. We met with the ultrasound tech and she did the BPP (Bio-Physical Profile) and also measured baby Murphy. He passed the BPP with flying colors - same as last week! My amniotic fluid levels have stayed the same (still over the normal range, but they are okay with that since it isn't really going up or down). When she measured baby Murphy he was measuring at a whopping 5 pounds 9 ounces - HOLY MOLY! This is still about 4 weeks ahead so his growth definitely hasn't slowed down at all. She left the room and told us we would be meeting with Dr. Read - thank goodness! He actually spends time with us and answers any questions and explains things really well and he did the same this appointment. He explained that they would just keep doing the weekly BPP and we would go from there each week but as of right not they aren't concerned about having to induce earlier or anything. Although, we all know this could change at any point in time! We were able to get some cute 3D pictures of little Peanut too :)

even got a little smile :)

   Now, on to the fun part! Maternity pictures were a blast! We had two photographers and this was our 'first' session in Sims Lake Park in Buford and we will have our 'second' session in downtown Lawrenceville next weekend! Here is a sneak peek :) (Photo credit to Shannon Ritchie Photography)

Thankful my mom made this onsie for Peanut :)

   We also had our first baby shower thrown by our wonderful church family! Special shout out to Brenda, Chris, Mallorie, Cindy and Denise for the wonderful planning, food, and decorations - It was wonderful! It was also nice to see a few people that I don't get to see on a regular basis anymore. We were beyond blessed with the gifts and love that were shown today and I couldn't be thankful for a more wonderful group of friends.There are a few little things that I was able to do at this shower for baby Murphy - and I can't wait to share those with everyone BUT I still want to do these things at my others showers, so it is on the DL for now! 

Sorry for such a delay in getting this posted but it has been quite the busy week as you can tell. We have two more appointments this week and our one year anniversary next weekend! Not sure what we are doing yet but I am excited to be spending all weekend with my wonderful husband enjoying one of our last weekends without a baby. We also are taking the second session of our maternity photos in downtown Lawrenceville! God has been so good to us throughout this time of trial and we are so thankful for all of your love, support, and prayers. We are definitely excited for this next journey of our lives but equally just as nervous. Thank you for following our journey and continuing to pray for us! Only about five more weeks until we meet our baby boy :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

new found friendships

   From the very beginning of this journey of the unknown (starting around January 3), I had never felt more alone in my life. I literally felt that the only person who could even relate to me was Josh and other than that I didn't know how we were going to make it through. That was a low point and I knew I had to put my faith in Christ that He would carry us through when it really felt like no one understood, and that was because no one really did understand. We definitely felt the outpouring of love and support from our family and friends, but no one could relate to what we were feeling because no one had ever been there. I prayed that God would open our hearts to see why in the world we were facing this trial and to somehow let us know we weren't alone. When you pray big prayers, you get big answers - I know this because God has brought several new friendships in to my life with other moms who are/have experienced having a child with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). 
   Shortly after posting my blog I received a Facebook message from a lady that used to attend church with my family when I was younger. She said that another young couple at their church were also pregnant and also had been given an in utero diagnosis of a heart defect for their baby boy. I gave her my information and told her it would be great if the mom could reach out to me if she was open to the idea, little did I know what a BLESSING this connection was and one that only comes from the Lord. Since me and the other 'heart' mom have connected via email and then texting, we have not stopped talking. We actually have all of the same doctors and live in the same area. Her son was born at the end of January with HLHS (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome) and had is first surgery relatively soon after birth. We have been in contact throughout everything and she has been a great source of support and someone I feel very connected to because we can relate on so many levels. While the diagnosis aren't the same, the surgeries will be different, and every situation is different there is still a lot that we were able to relate to each other on. She understood the fear of the "unknown" and helped me not feel crazy for not really even knowing how to feel through all of this. Since we connected at the beginning of January and her son was born before the end of January, we didn't get a chance to meet until yesterday, but I felt as if I had known her for a million years! It was so nice to meet in person, enjoy lunch, and discuss life and how it is changing/has changed for both of us. I am so thankful that the Lord connected us and, whether she realizes it or not, that she has been a great source of comfort over these past few weeks. She was also sweet enough to make me a binder to keep all of our medical papers/questions/etc organized throughout baby Murphy's first few months of life! The front has his name, the verse Joshua 1:9, and a giraffe :) She had made one for her son as well and said that it really has been a life saver to have everything in the same place.

You all didn't really think I was going to post his name did you?! She gave me some stickers to put on there AFTER he is born and we have announced it to the world :)
You all didn't really think I was going to post his name did you?! She gave me some stickers to put on there AFTER he is born and we have announced it to the world :)
   Another blessing from the Lord came this morning. We live VERY close to downtown Lawrenceville and will often walk to the shops on the square. One of our, well really mine, favorite shops was a little antique store, Magnolia's. The owner is the pastor of Annistown Road Baptist Church and both he and his wife are two of the nicest people we have ever met. Unfortunately they had to close the shop this past New Years but we kept in touch with them and were able to have breakfast this morning. They had shared our story with their church and one of the members is an author of some books who wanted to share one with us. The name of the book? "Hope for Families of Children with Congenital Heart Defects" by Lynda T. Young. I just couldn't believe it and was again so thankful for the Lord's blessings through those around us. These are just a few of the connections I have made and I have been blessed by them all!

   We had another doctor's appointment with Maternal-Fetal Specialists yesterday. They did a BPP (bio-physical profile) to see how baby Murphy was doing. This is just an ultrasound that gives the baby a score in a few different areas. They measure amniotic fluid (making sure it hasn't jumped a lot because it is already slightly over the 'regular' limit), check the heartbeat, make sure the baby is practicing breathing, and also the movement of the baby. Baby Murphy passed with a 100! He was being a little stinker though because we were trying to get some cute 3D pictures and he kept putting his hand up in front of his face! No idea where he gets his stubbornness from :P I text Josh to let him know how everything went and he replied "well he has to be a smart kid because he already got a 100 on his first test!" LOL. Thankful for another calm appointment. As we left I went ahead and scheduled all of the remainder BPP's until the day they are inducing me. Definitely makes it real that we are SO close to meeting our baby boy - only 6 1/2 weeks! 

   Unfortunately, due to all the rain, we had to reschedule our maternity pictures, but hopefully we will be able to do them in the next week! The next 6 weeks are anything but calm, starting with my first baby shower next weekend through my wonderful church. SO EXCITED! The weekend after that is Josh and I's one year anniversary, which seems so unreal to me. This past year has been quite the adventure for us - and one we never really expected. I am hoping to do a blog post on our story, especially for those who don't really know too much about us. Also, the nursery is ALMOST done. It is so cute, I might just have to dedicate a whole blog post to it for you all!

   Thank you all again for your continued prayers and support. A lot can change over the next 6 weeks and our goal is to make it to May 7 - but as I have said before, they are closely monitoring him to make sure he is staying 'safe' in there and they will make the decision if he needs to come sooner. 

Love to you all, 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

31 weeks!

   Today was the 30 week check up with Dr. Pohl. He was out of the office last week so we are a week behind (I am 31 weeks today, which means 7weeks to go!). As you all know, I am, and have been, measuring ahead for quite some time now. My last appointment I was 29 weeks, but measuring 36, and this appointment I was 31 weeks measuring 38 weeks. Thankfully I haven't had any more jumps in measurements and it is increasing at a weekly rate. Since it has not really evened out (as in gotten closer to what week I am actually on) I am sure my appointment with Maternal-Fetal will show that baby Murphy (peanut) is measuring 4 weeks ahead (fingers crossed not too much more!). Dr. Pohl checked my cervix again and did another FFN. He said my cervix looks great and we will get the FFN results tomorrow - no news is good news so I am hoping for no phone calls from them tomorrow! The FFN is the test that can predict pre-term labor probability in the next two weeks. I go back to Dr. Pohl next week to start the NST (non-stress tests). Those will be on Tuesdays, and I will see Maternal-Fetal every Friday for a BPP (bio-physical profile). Not sure what either of these entail, but I will post a blog update to let you know what to pray for specifically. There are certain things they look for and if anything looks off or wrong they may choose to deliver even earlier than May 7 OR put me on bedrest.
   After the appointment my mom and I went to lunch and then she took me to get my hair done for my birthday! My birthday isn't until the end of April, but I have maternity pictures (they are this weekend, and I can't wait to share them with you all!) and all of my baby showers before then so we decided to go ahead and get it done. Yay for better looking hair! On our way home we made a pit stop - insert funny store here:

   Sometimes I think people don't really know what to say to a pregnant woman, and rather than say nothing at all they get a pretty bad case of word vomit! I posted on my personal Facebook page last week about someone asking me if I was sure I was not having twins... Yep, pretty positive there is just one! Something similar happened again today, and as always I was taken by surprise and wasn't quite sure what to say back. We stopped by the Meat Man (a local butcher shop near where I live) to get some meat for dinners over the next few weeks. The man behind the counter proceeds to say "You look like you're about to pop!", to which I replied, "Nope still got another two months left." We got a good chuckle out of it after we left the store but I am still questioning why people think it is okay to make these comments to pregnant women?! Regardless of how others tell you that you look, you still feel as big as a house and it doesn't help when others point that out. Word to the wise: just tell a pregnant woman how great she looks, or don't say anything at all - she will much appreciate it! 

   I am very thankful that almost everything has been calm and Josh and I have been able to start getting things ready for the baby and not feel too overwhelmed and/or stressed out. I also posted on my personal page about having to put my kitten, Rascal, to sleep last week because he had a disease that was killing him and he was very sick. With all that has been going on it was pretty heartbreaking, but glad he was such a sweet cat while he lived at our house! Being able to stay busy around the house has really kept my mind off of thinking about the delivery and all of the fears I have tied to that. 7 weeks seems entirely too close and I have so much to do! I am hoping the nursery will be done soon so I can post pictures because I LOVE IT! I cannot wait until everything is done and it all comes together! My friend, Claire, had a great idea of making a paper chain to use as a countdown until the baby gets here ... I plan on starting that tonight! I loved the idea especially since delivery is UNDER 50 DAYS AWAY!! Josh and I are beyond thrilled for this next chapter in our lives to begin, and feel beyond blessed to have everyone supporting and praying for us. Baby Murphy is going to be quite a fighter and I know he has a big support team pulling for him. 
   My next appointment is with Maternal-Fetal on Friday. It is just a normal check-in with them and the next week is when the BPP testing will start. Please be in prayer that over the next 7 weeks everything continues to stay the same and he can continue 'baking' until 38 weeks. We really want him to be as developed and big as possible in the event he made need surgery sooner than later. Please also pray for discernment for the doctors and that if baby Murphy is showing signs of distress and/or heart failure they will know the right time for me to deliver. Thank you all again for your continued prayers!

Love to you all,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

pediatric cardiologist check-in!

Sometimes I wonder if I should just move in to the hospital because we have so many appointments there! Today our appointment was with the pediatric cardiologist, Dr. V! I enjoy these appointments because the office staff is so friendly as well as Dr. V. We haven't seen them in over 6 weeks since our last appointment so I was really hoping that nothing had changed. In Cincinnati they did an echo cardiogram but even that was 4 weeks ago (CRAZY how time flies by yet feels so slow at the same time). The ultrasound technician is Michelle and she has to be one of the sweetest people. She even told us that she is about 13 weeks along with her second child - exciting! She did the echo and took lots of pictures and for the first time at these appointments baby Murphy actually stayed still for the whole entire echo! She left and said she would be right back, and about 2 minutes later came back with Dr. V and they reviewed the images. THANKFULLY Dr. V said that everything looks the same and he can't see any major changes!! I wish this meant we were in the clear, but we still won't really know how it affects him until he is born - so now we wait. He does want us to come back in 4 weeks for another "check-in" but it really is all dependent on how he looks when he makes his arrival and they can take a better look at his heart then. Unfortunately the defect is still pretty rare and severe so as time gets closer I get more and more nervous.

As many of you know, we are keeping baby Murphy's name a secret until he is born. This has been quite a challenge because I would love to share it BUT Josh and I have decided to keep it a secret and it is the only "thing" that he and I know. I have also wondered how I was going to tell people his name and make the announcement once he is here and I just could not come up with an idea... UNTIL NOW! Everyone has been giving him the nickname of 'Peanut' and it has stuck, so we are going to write his name on peanuts and have them in little brown bags. Once Josh and/or someone else makes the announcement that he has arrived we will let the family members that are at the hospital open the bags for the name reveal! EEK!! I am seriously so excited for this - and of course pictures will be posted to Facebook/the blog for those that will be praying for us at home and anxiously awaiting his arrival :)

These last few months have felt like years at some points and minutes at others. I desperately wish I could change all of this for my baby and make everything okay. I wish I didn't live in fear for what's to come, and that is was easier to trust in the Lord and His plan. Some days it is, but some days it isn't and I won't pretend that it is. I know in the end God's plan will be carried out and he will be faithful to Josh and I. "For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love." Psalm 33:4-5. The Lord WILL be faithful and that is what my prayers have been, especially recently. That Josh and I will see His faithfulness through all of this. Josh and are a part of a small group and after our meeting this past Tuesday I felt encouraged to see God's faithfulness throughout these appointments and the weeks leading up to the birth. I can't really picture anything for what it will look like after Peanut gets here because I have never been through ANYTHING like this, but I can thank God for all of His faithfulness and blessings so far and that is what I am trying to focus on until his arrival. I will be honest, I am scared out of my mind for the delivery and the fact that I really just don't know what to expect at all and the closer it gets, the more the feelings of anxiety intensify. I am so thankful, though, for all of the close friends and family and prayer warriors that God has placed in our lives. Without all of you I would feel lost, but I feel so encouraged to know so many are praying for us. I can't help but feel 'alone' in this (with the exception of Josh) but I know there are so many others standing by our side, and for that I do truly thank you all. I am also so thankful that God brought Josh in to my life and he is the one I am spending my life with forever. We haven't even been married a year (April 7 is our one year anniversary!) but it feels like we have faced more in the short amount of time than I thought I ever would in a lifetime.

My next appointment is with Dr. Pohl for my '30 week' appointment on Tuesday. I will technically be 31 weeks but he was out of town this week. It will be my last regular appointment with him because I start the non-stress testing (NST) the next week. The countdown is getting shorter and shorter until we meet our little Peanut and while nervous, I am also very excited for this time!

Thank you again to all of our Prayer Warriors!

Love to you all,

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5&6

Saturday, March 9, 2013

another good appointment!

Yesterday was just an overall really good day! My morning was spent at the hopsital waiting for my little cousin Luke to be delivered and make his entrance to the world! I also had my follow up appointment with Dr. Pohl to check my cervix, measure my fundal height, and also do another FFN (fetal fibro-nectin test). Here is a sweet picture of baby Luke :)

such a little cutie!

In the midst of waiting on/meeting baby Luke I had my appointment with Dr. Pohl. Not sure if I have mentioned this before but I lucked out and ALL of my doctors offices/appointments are at the hospital and in the same building. They are also just a walk-way away from labor and delivery! So, my mom went with me to this appointment and we just headed over from the family waiting room where we had been most of the morning. 

Dr. Pohl measured my fundal height and said it was right around 36 cm. This is one week up from last time, but I am also a week further along in the pregnancy (29 weeks, 4 days) so there wasn't really a sudden jump or change like there was at the last two appointments. He also checked my cervix and said everything looked great - no signs of it shortening which would indicate pre-term labor! He did another FFN but didn't seem concerned that it would be positive but did tell me they would call on Monday with the results. I asked him if there was still a chance of me going in to labor earlier than the already planned 38 week induction and he said there was because I am still measuring 7 weeks ahead. After 35 weeks they won't stop labor at the hospital and especially not in our case because the medicine used to stop labor can be harmful to the baby and his already existing heart condition. At this point I am still praying that I make it to 38 weeks, but I also am praying that if he shows signs of distress before, then the doctors will know we need to induce labor earlier. They will start the weekly non-stress tests in about 2-3 weeks so they will be able to keep a better eye on how baby Murphy is doing in there. Always thankful for eyes on our baby twice a week, that is one thing I know for sure! 

Another blessing from yesterday - Josh and I were blessed with a prayer quilt from Hamilton Mill United Methodist's "Piecemakers" Quilt Ministry. A prayer quilt is a quilt with loose strands of strings in different sections all over the quilt. These strings are left so that you can tie knots every time you pray for, in our case, baby Murphy. The ladies that made the quilt also prayed over it and started tying knots. Here is a picture of the quilt! You can see some of the loose strands at the top.
of course the giraffes are just perfect :)

Josh and I have been truly blessed through the past two months. When we received the diagnosis in January I felt like our lives had been turned upside down and I really wasn't sure how I was going to handle everything. Through the continuation of doctor's appointments and the "wild ride" we have been on so far, I really do think this has made us stronger as individuals, in our marriage, and in our faith. God has chosen us to be baby Murphy's parents for a reason. I may question this at times because of the overwhelming fear I have but regardless I know that God will walk with us through every part of the journey. I have started to feel more 'normal' and able to talk about things with people, but as the time approaches for him to make his big arrival I am getting more and more nervous. Before all of this I had started reading the book "What to Expect When You're Expecting"... and it is quite a long book. I haven't really read anymore of it because I feel like it should have one page that reads - "Don't expect anything." I have no idea what his arrival will bring, but I just pray that I feel as prepared as I can be through it all.

We don't have another doctor's appointment until next Thursday with Dr. V - the pediatric cardiologist. Please be in prayer that everything with his heart is looking the same and that nothing has changed in the negative direction. Thank  you again from the bottom of my heart to all of the people surrounding us in prayer and to those that have blessed us in other ways as well. We greatly appreciate it and know that baby Murphy is loved by so many already! I can't wait to be able to post his first pictures here and also reveal his name to everyone!

Love to you all,

Monday, March 4, 2013

measuring ahead .... (update!)

   Today was quite a strange appointment, and not like many others I have had so I walked out feeling "underwhelmed". My last post indicated that my fundal height measurements have increased significantly in a week and that Dr. Pohl showed some concerns of it sending me in to pre-term labor (not the greatest concern considering everything that is going on!). Since I already had the appointment with Maternal-Fetal (the high risk doctors) today, he scheduled me for a follow-up with him on Friday to check my cervix and do the fetal fibro-nectin test for signs of early labor. I want to explain the different measurements that are done at the different appointments before I explain what they told us at this appointment and so there is not any confusion. 
   When I have an appointment with Dr. Pohl he does not do an ultrasound. He just checks my fundal height (measurement from the top of my uterus, across (vertically) my stomach, to my pelvic bone) and the baby's heartbeat. The fundal height is MY measurement, so at the last appointment, I was measuring quite far ahead at 35 weeks, rather than the 28 weeks it should have been. When I have an appointment with the Maternal-Fetal Specialists they do an ultrasound of the baby and take several measurements of him (his head, stomach, bones, etc) and they see if he is measuring on track. Both of these measurements are never considered fully accurate so they can be off by a week or so, usually it raises a flag when they are 3 or more weeks off.
   Our appointment was at 2:45 and we were scheduled to meet with Dr. Eller (he was the first doctor we ever met with here and we actually haven't had an appointment with him since that first meeting WAY back when). The tech took us back and started the ultrasound. I made sure to pay attention to the AFI (amniotic fluid index) because if it was increased a lot from last time it could explain why my fundal height has increased so much. It was actually about the same from last time so that rules out increased amniotic fluid. I still have hydramnios but it has not gotten worse and isn't too high over the 'normal range' but it is high enough to classify it as hydramnios. This is something they will continue to monitor. Now for the real shocker - baby Murphy is measuring 4 WEEKS AHEAD! This puts him at measuring 33 weeks, not to be confused with my 35 week measurement (two different things), and a whopping FOUR POUNDS already. We did get some cute 3D pictures :)
No matter how much he moves throughout the day - he is ALWAYS snuggled up during the ultrasound :)

   Once she was done with the ultrasound we waited for Dr. Eller to come in the room. I was racking my brain for new questions because I thought I had them all ready for when they told me I had quite a substantial amount more amniotic fluid from the last time. The one thing I wanted to be sure and ask about was the risk of pre-term labor. If he is measuring ahead it is still making my fundal height increase - but I still didn't really get a clear answer on that. Dr. Eller came in and stayed for about 2 minutes tops. He asked if I had passed the gestational diabetes test and what my number was for that. I told him I had passed the one-hour test and they didn't give me the number but he could call Dr. Pohl's office to get the number. I guess he wasn't too concerned about that (normally gestational diabetes can cause babies to grow at a quicker rate) because he kind of dismissed it and told me he would see me back in two weeks. I said earlier that this was a strange appointment and that is because of how quickly it went by in comparison to the others. Don't get me wrong - I am glad they didn't feel the need to put me on bed rest, but I guess when every appointment you have been to gives some sort of news or that something has drastically changed, you almost expect they all will be like that. I am relieved and thankful I am not on bed rest! Now let's just hope this isn't a 12-pound baby ;).
   I have to say I am glad I do not have more to report! We will have our next appointment with Dr. Pohl on Friday and see how things are looking then, but otherwise, life goes on! Too bad we can't receive this kind of news about his heart, but it is a very good thing that he will be a big baby. This will mean that he will be nice and strong in the event he has to have surgery right away. One more thing - these ultrasounds are not always accurate on the weight estimate. You hear stories all the time about how the doctors predict a baby will weigh 9 lbs and the baby only weighs 7 lbs. I do feel that baby Murphy is probably a little larger than a normal 29-weeker, especially since I had such a quick gap in fundal height difference. We did ask that people pray he is born a good weight, I guess I should have been more specific!

Thankful for all of our prayer warriors and those following our journey. The hardest part in this journey has yet to come, and I find myself worrying a little more as time gets closer. Clinging to God's promises and knowing He will be by our sides forever, but especially through these next few months.

Love to you all,