Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Sibling Class

Today, the kids participated in a sibling class offered by my delivering hospital. I looked into the class months ago, I even told the kids about it, but I didn't make reservations because I honestly anticipated the worst case scenario long before now. That scenario might have been strict bedrest, a NICU baby, or another loss -- I had no idea. I never imagined being stable and upright at 33 1/2 weeks pregnant and sitting in a classroom while my kids watched silly videos and learned how to change diapers and wrap a swaddling blanket.

I never dreamed we'd have a day like today -- but we did, and it was great!

Both kids received activity books to help them learn about their new sibling, then a nurse told them all about what to expect when the baby arrives. She introduced them to all sorts of baby gear and showed them pictures of what the baby would look like when first born.

Next, each child chose a baby doll on which to practice their sibling skills: holding, swaddling, feeding, burping, and diaper changing.

Bub was surprisingly serious about his role as the big brother and took excellent care of his "baby." In fact, while the other little boys were goofing off, he continued to practice the things he learned. I knew he would enjoy the class, I just had no idea he would stay so focused.

After honing their care-taking skills, the kids had a snack and watched a silly video about becoming a sibling. Then, we all took a hospital tour. We looked at some babies through the nursery window, walked through the antepartum wing, and triage area and the doors to the OR where I'll be taken for delivery. (Because of the TAC, I'll have a C-Section.)

We visited a delivery room where the other touring moms will labor and deliver. There, Gracie weighed her practice baby...

... and Bub gazed at an empty baby warmer. (It was at this point that I became choked up and had to discreetly step out of the room.)

After the tour, the kids returned to the classroom and made stuffed animals (outfitted with little hospital t-shirts) to commemorate the day.

Gracie chose a chocolate lad, declared her a girl, and named her "Kisses."

Bub made a black cat called "Shadow" and stuffed a wishing star inside.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Big, Big Baby: 32 Week Sonogram Update

The doctor did have a sonogram ordered for my appointment at 32 weeks and 2 days gestation, which was a lovely surprise. The OB, in an effort to make this pregnancy as "normal" as possible, has been pretty stingy with them lately, so I wasn't sure we'd get to have a look at the baby until I see the MFM next week. Since we've seen the baby so many times and since we haven't had any issues of late, these scans are are done more to keep up with growth and to stay on top of fluid levels and uterine condition. The medical portion of the scan is very brief, leaving us with time to just gaze at the baby. That's always such a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

As for the baby, she appears to weigh 5 pound 9 ounces and measured in the range of a baby at 35 weeks gestation. She's in the 97th percentile with regards to growth, which is how she has been measuring for some time now -- she's progressing at the same rate along the growth curve. And while I still haven't officially gained any pregnancy weight (still weighing three pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight), my uterus is measuring 35 weeks.

What was most surprising to me at this appointment was how surprised the OB seemed to be about my uterine size and the baby's size. He kept looking at my chart and scan images and just seemed so shocked. That shocked me since we've had more than one conversation about the baby's growth rate and how that will affect my delivery range, and while he's not willing to change my official due date (which I didn't ask him to do) and he's not planning to change my previously scheduled c-section date, he is finally acknowledging that the baby's projected size very likely will play a part in what happens in the end (meaning I could go into labor earlier than 40 weeks or begin to experience that lower-uterine pain the specialist talked about several weeks ago).

Because of the baby's size, the OB wanted to repeat the test for gestational diabetes -- though the one hour test I just took was within range and the results were fine with him, with my specialist, and with my endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in blood sugar issues). Since taking that one-hour scan, I also had my A1C tested, and that particular blood test reflects a three-month average of blood sugar levels. Though that too was within range and my endocrinologist was happy about my numbers, the OB still wanted the test done. Having yet another test done wasn't too bad -- just inconvenient. I had to have a fasting blood sugar level drawn, then a repeat draw two hours after a meal (meaning I didn't have to drink that "delicious" orange drink again). After two blood sugar tests coming in fine when read by three doctors and after raising another biological child who always measures in the 97th percentile in height, I'm not too concerned.

All in all, both the baby and I are doing so well. The miracle of this pregnancy has been such a remarkable blessing. Thank you, God.

Image Credit: Mark Parisi,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Being Still and Waiting on God

I'm at 32 weeks now in this pregnancy. Though I'm at a big milestone for any high-risk pregnancy, I still want this baby to stay in and cook for a while longer. If I were to go full-term, I'd have about eight more weeks to go before delivery. I'm hoping to go six more weeks (reaching 38 weeks gestation), though it's not unreasonable that I'll deliver as early as 4-5 weeks from now (at 36-37 weeks).

I'm still taking the 17P Hydroxyprogesterone injections to prevent preterm labor, and while they're considered to be effective, I'm beginning to break through with what I hope are non-productive Braxton Hicks contractions. A couple of times, I've experienced contractions more painful or coming more frequently than they should be, but those contractions were resolved -- fortunately! -- with Gatorade and rest at home. Still, I personally think once those injections come to an end, I won't have long before natural labor kicks in, or is allowed to take over -- whatever the case may be.

This is me we're talking about, though -- the woman who spent 15 weeks on bedrest to keep one baby in, only to end that pregnancy with an induction and an aggressive approach to delivery assistance. I wouldn't be surprised if I end this pregnancy the very same way. If I make do somehow it to 38 weeks without significant signs of labor, this big baby and I will likely walk the zoo in the July Texas heat -- without water. Dehydration does the trick!

As for baby, I don't have a recent update. I see the OB again on Thursday, but he's gotten all willy-nilly with the sonograms, so I don't know if I'll have a baby update then either. I was rear-ended two weeks ago (at 30 weeks). Post accident, I saw the MFM for a check on the baby and my cerclage, and at that time, she weighed about 4 pounds 4 ounces and measured in at 32 weeks 4 days. Two weeks have passed since that visit, and based on how big she feels now, both on the inside and from the outside, I think she's topped five pounds. Regardless of how much she weighs, I'm quite certain she's sixteen feet long and is trying to break out of my uterus by way of my right hip socket.

Other than a big baby occasionally trying to make a break for it, I still feel really good. Several friends of mine either currently are or just were pregnant, and I think out of the whole bunch of us, I may have the fewest physical complaints. One friend dealt with back issues that put her completely out of commission more than once, and another friend sometimes needs a walking stick just to survive her sciatica. Though I sometimes move slower or tire a bit more quickly than I'm accustomed, many days I don't actually feel pregnant at all. Restless sleep and frequent trips to the bathroom do remind me of my present delicate state, so though I feel pretty good much of the time, I'm certain not to forget -- and not to grow lax on my list of pre-baby chores.

While I still feel pretty fantastic physically, I often do have a difficult time dealing with this pregnancy emotionally. I thought moving into this safer stage would make me feel better and cause me to embrace the pregnancy more, but it hasn't. I am thankful for every single moment I have this living, kicking baby tucked safely away inside, but it's often very difficult to reconcile how I feel about this pregnancy as a whole. I'm excited, but afraid. I'm apprehensive, but appreciative. I've been preparing and counting down the days while realizing my hopes could be dashed at any moment. I still do the juice trick and kick counts and use the doppler from time to time, and occasionally I'm genuinely surprised to find my little one still living.

On one hand, I need every day I can get to prepare for our baby girl to arrive, but on the other hand, the remaining weeks can't pass by quickly enough. I know that God has done and continues to do miraculous things in and because of this pregnancy, still small, weak, little ol' selfish me would like to know the outcome. This being still and waiting on God thing is almost too much to bear.

"Be still, and know that I am God..."
Psalm 46:10a

"The humble will see their God at work
and be glad.
Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged."
Psalm 69:32 NLT

"Since He Himself [meaning Christ]
has gone through suffering and testing,
He is able to help us when we are being tested."
Hebrews 2:18 NLT

Big Baby Blocking My View

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Swim Lesson: June 2009

The kids began swim lessons at a nearby community pool this morning. They're in the uppermost level this year, so for five days a week for two weeks, we'll be spending our mornings learning new skills, practicing strokes, and diving for rings. Well, that's how they'll be spending their mornings. My mornings will be spent baking poolside. Ah, summer.

These swim lessons are arranged by a local recreation center -- a really nice, fairly new rec center in a small town close by. Because the town is smaller and there's less of a demand, the cost of class is quite reasonable -- in fact, the lessons are very inexpensive. The student/teacher ratio is also really fantastic: 5 kids to two instructors. The kids are already getting lots of personal attention, which is a wonderful bonus. An even bigger bonus: two other families from our church are taking lessons at the same pool, so four out of the five kids in their level are in the same class at church. They already know one another! Moreover, the other moms and I can spend our time chatting with one another instead of just gazing longingly into the cool water. I couldn't have coordinated a better plan!

Because we like to do a variety of things and because I prefer to leave plenty of time for unstructured play, I'm normally not a fan of summer activities scheduled for every day of the week (with the exception of VBS), particularly not when the five-pound human housed in my pelvis is most comfortable with her big head shoved into my hip socket, but the value and experience of these swim lessons cannot be passed upon. Now, let's just hope my energy level keeps up with their class schedule!

Gracie (age 7) and Bub (age 8 1/2)

Girl Cooties are Gross

(Click here for the blog post about last year's swim lessons.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


For weeks now, I've been following a blog about a baby named April Rose. The blog was written from the perspective of a single mom carrying a baby with Trisomy 13 -- a baby considered terminal (predicted to die in utero), but who, miraculously, was born alive and continued to live after birth.

As a mother who has experienced loss, I intimately understood some of the pain April's mom Beccah expressed, the fear in her anticipation. Though I've never carried a terminal baby, though I've never carried a baby with an actual threat of death looming, I knew the pain and grief that could (and likely would) come in the end. And I prayed. I prayed for April Rose. I prayed for her mother and the weight of her burden. I prayed for her father who didn't know the Lord and who was seeing first hand the miracles God is capable of. I prayed their experience would be one to turn him to God instead of driving him away.

I subscribed to the blog and read it religiously. I followed the tweets. I cried when little April's descending heart rate took a miraculous turn and settled in at an unexpectedly safe pace. I even made James sit and listen to the audio online. I shook my head with understanding as April's mom publicly defended herself to her critics, and I defended her decision to switch from an intervention-happy doctor to a mommy-supporting midwife. I pleaded with God as Beccah labored -- I prayed that little April Rose would be born alive since Zachary's fleeting final moments meant so much to me. I praised God when April Rose was not only born alive, but continued to live.

When I last read blog updates, family and friends defended Beccah and April Rose and did their best to protect them against the cruelty that often comes from people who have never walked in shoes like theirs -- people who lash out most hatefully because they can do so anonymously. I struggled to understand the insensitivity of the human race, particularly in dealing with someone who'd just given birth after a heart-wrenching pregnancy and who was likely to soon become a card-carrying member of the Dead Baby Club.

It's been a little while since I've checked in on the blog as I'm currently working to wind down my own emotionally-exhausting pregnancy, however, when I noticed a new post in my Google Reader today, I popped by, hoping to find an update. But all that's left of the blog is an apology. As it turns out, it was all a lie, everyone else was right, and I have been duped.

(To realize the drama of the story, read the cached pages of the Little April Rose blog here.)

I thought I was more savvy than I evidently am, and I'm embarrassed.

I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach.

I hope the uncovering of her made-up story won't drive her hurting readers away from the "deep faith" from which she wrote. I hope they realize that while she is a liar, the God she wrote about clinging to is as real as ever.

And while blog author Beccah Beushausen absolutely deserves to be held accountable for her actions (particularly for any material benefits she received as the author of her blog), as she moves forward in her life, I pray her body remains fertile, her future pregnancies are successful, she may never experience the torturous pain of carrying a terminal child, and the children of her future live. No matter what sort of wicked decisions they've made, no one -- no one -- deserves the burden of dead baby pain.

Little April Rose is a Fake

Down With Trolls
(see April Rose posts)

Blogger's Baby Was a Hoax ::

Blogger's Fake Baby Fooled Thousands

Blogger Admits Story of Terminally Ill Baby Is a Lie ::

April Rose: Another Internet Hoax :: Cao's Blog

An Update on April Rose ::

Blogger Baby Hoax Writer Not a Professional Social Worker

Friday, June 5, 2009

Everyday Moments: Growing a Human

Laying Around, Growing a Human
Not an everyday occurrence for me normally, but certainly everyday lately.
Photo taken a few days ago at 29 weeks gestation.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Steals and Deals: Free Float Night at Sonic (06/03/09)

Visit your local Sonic Drive-In on Wednesday, June 3rd from 8:00 P.M. until Midnight and enjoy a free 10oz. Root Beer Float (no purchase necessary, while supplies last).

photo and tip credit: Bargain Briana

Everyday Moments: Friends

Gracie and Rebecca Playing in the Car
(while waiting in a parking lot, not while driving)

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