Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're Scheduled!

So the decision has finally been made to just go ahead and deliver without Dr. Atkinson. Dr. Killeen will be there and there will be another doctor assisting in Dr. Atkinson's place who everyone on this floor raves about, so I guess I feel good about that. The delivery should be a pretty routine thing....I'm not too concerned about it. And then Dr. Robinson will be here to check Harper out as soon as she's born and stable.

We're scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. Can we please take a moment to focus on the fact that I will be 38 weeks and 4 days along at that point in time. In addition to that, Harper should be well over 5 lbs. and her lungs are completely mature already. I just couldn't ask for a better situation. We have been so blessed!

The bad news is...that's really early! I guess when you wait to schedule until a week before, all the mid-morning time slots are unavailable. The good news is...I'll have less time to engage in all kinds of hysteria and anxiety and I won't be in pain all morning from not being able to eat. I realize that come Tuesday morning, the last thing I'll be thinking about is how hungry I am, but as it turns out...eating is all I think about these days.

And speaking of...I just discovered the huge stash of Blue Bell ice cream cups, popsicles, and frozen treats in the patient snack area. Now six days doesn't seem quite as long!

Dustin and his mom are bringing the boys up to see me this evening and I can't wait! I get to leave and have dinner with them, so my main concern today is deciding on the best possible place to eat tonight.  Life is rough, huh?

Happy middle of the week to you!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Harper Update - March 28

Updated 03/29: After talking with Dr. Atkinson this morning, it is looking like we will deliver early next week (Monday or Tuesday). We're having trouble getting scheduled at a time when all three doctors can be there, which is why we haven't nailed down a day and time yet. I don't want her delivered on Friday because it's April Fool's Day. We're certainly not going to get all three of them up here on the weekend. Dr. Atkinson will be gone Monday and Tuesday. Dr. Robinson will be gone Wednesday. So that brings us to next Thursday, which Dr. Atkinson feels is waiting too long. So, it's looking like Monday or Tuesday will be the day and the other high-risk doctor will have to take Dr. Atkinson's place. I really want Dr. Atkinson there, but it's more important to do it when the cardiologist can be there, so that's what we'll do.

All of that to say: we don't know for sure. But hopefully soon we will.

I was waiting to post until we got a chance to talk to Dr. Atkinson, but he still hasn't come by, so I'll just let you know what we know right now.

I had the amnio this morning to check Harper's lungs. Dustin and I went and ate lunch before checking into the hospital. We got here this afternoon, got her results back, and it looks like her lungs are fully mature now. They also measured her this morning and she weighs 4 lbs, 13 oz. She is almost to the 5 lb. mark and we are so glad! We haven't seen Dr. Atkinson since we got the results back, so we haven't been able to discuss what this means as far as delivery goes. I'll update here after we talk to him (which should be very soon). Thanks for checking in on us...things are looking really great!

In the can scroll down and see pictures of my adorable boys in the wedding they were in this past weekend :)

The Wedding

Eli and Landon made their debut appearance as ring bearers in a wedding Saturday afternoon. They almost did great. They were so close to the end. I couldn't believe it...they held hands, the held their pillows, they walked instead of ran, and they were just almost to the end of the long aisle when it all fell apart. A few highlights of the video are:

* First and foremost, please take a moment to appreciate how great they do for the first 17 seconds.
* I love the exact second (0:27) that Eli sees the candy at the end of the aisle.
* I love how Landon didn't even phase the flower girls. They were in the zone.
* I love how the one little flower girl doesn't look up the whole time and sweet little Ava leads her the whole way.
* I love the flower girl dresses! Cheree made them just by looking at a picture...she's amazing!

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. I wish I had pictures of the reception and all of the beautiful details, but I was too busy trying to contain my two very active boys.

Here are some pictures of Eli and Landon from the rest of the weekend.

Don't I look cooperative?

Rolling around on the ground during the rehearsal. Needless to say...the boys did not stand at the front during the wedding, but sat on the front row with me and Dustin.

So...I didn't get a very good picture of the two of them in their suits, but you get the idea. They were SO handsome!

You can dress them up...

I managed to get a couple smiles amid all of the crying.

Ava and Joshua...I just love these two!

Dustin kept the boys entertained while we waited to take pictures.

The kids with the happy couple. Does Heather look beautiful or what?

Eli "napping" on his pillow right before the wedding

I completely gave up trying to keep the boys clean after the wedding was over. Their little suits were filthy about 3 minutes into the reception. Somehow they managed to find the dirtiest dog ever to play with.

And then they moved on to the murky standing water. Their suit jackets were soaking wet. Eli actually stuck his face in this water and took a drink. He probably has worms now.

We attempted a family picture, but it was quite unsuccessful. Eli and Landon were SO done by this point in time.

Can anyone spot two tired boys in the next two pictures?

We loved being a part of Heather and Phil's wedding day and feel so honored that they asked us. It was a little stressful, but it was a lot of fun! Congratulations Heather and Phil!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harper Update

I went to Dr. Atkinson today to check on little Harper. I'm always a little anxious before my appointments...especially on days that she gets measured. I always take a bag with me because I just never know what's going to happen or if I'll get to come home. I'm so thankful for how far we've made it (I'm 36 weeks and 4 days today) and I'm feeling much more at ease about the prospect of her coming anytime now.

At my last measuring appointment, Harper weighed 3 lbs, 11 oz. She had only gained 5 oz. in two whole weeks and I was pretty discouraged about that. So I went in today not expecting much, but just hoping and praying that she had grown even a little bit so that she could stay in a little longer for her lungs. Two different people took a total of four sets of measurements to be as accurate as possible and guess how much Harper weighs...

Drum roll please....

4 pounds, 8 ounces!!

Four and a half pounds!

I am just thrilled.

Dr. Atkinson was very pleasantly surprised.

Everything else looks great, so they sent me home for another week.

Dr. Atkinson talked with Dr. Robinson (the cardiologist) a few days ago and Dr. Robinson really stressed how critical her size is for heart surgery, so we're going to try and make it as long as possible. I have an appointment on Monday morning for a repeat amnio to check her lungs again and see how they are developing. I was told to have my bags packed and be ready to just stay until we deliver...which will be sometime on or before April 5th. Living in the hospital isn't ideal, but I know he is torn between leaving her in too long with a lousy placenta vs. letting her grow and develop as much as possible. Being able to monitor her several times a day will allow us to go as long as possible before delivery, which I feel really good about.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers! Prayer works...that's just all there is to it. We thank God for more good news today.

I am excited that we are so close to welcoming this little girl and I'm thankful that so many worries have been lifted these past couple of weeks.

I'm also excited that I get to see the two cutest boys ever be ring bearers in a wedding of a sweet friend this weekend. You KNOW I'll have lots of pictures of that to share next week. Let's just hope we don't turn her beautiful ceremony into a three-ring circus! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous about's a really long aisle they have to make it down!

Here are a couple of pictures of me and Harper from the last couple of weeks:

34 weeks

35 weeks

36 weeks

Monday, March 21, 2011

Harper's Bedding

Several weeks ago, I made a quick trip to Dallas (by myself...thanks Dustin and Nemo!!) to pick out fabric for Harper's bedding. My mom made all of Eli and Landon's crib bedding and it was SO special to me, so when she offered to make Harper's, I was ecstatic.

We searched for days for the perfect fabrics for Eli and Landon's room. We only had one day this time, but I was confident that after already going through the process once before, I could do it much more quickly this time around. I was mistaken! We spent a total of 6 hours in Jo Ann's fabric agonizing (at least I was) over the perfect fabric combination. We had 5 coordinating fabrics picked out, but I just couldn't commit to it. So, we hid the five bolts of fabric deep in a bin in the back and we left the store to clear our heads and get some food. To make a long story short...we went back later and pulled those fabrics out and I knew it was all wrong. I still think it would make adorable baby bedding, but something was was just too bold....too harsh...and there wasn't a bit of pink in it. I have lived with three boys for 2.5 years and I want some pink around here for crying out loud!

But that left us back at square one. After finding a little inspiration at a baby store next door, we went back in and quickly (as in it only took us 1.5 hours this time) put together the fabrics that we ended up with. They're calm. They're very feminine. They're classy. I couldn't wait to see the finished product. Mom brought me the finished bedding this weekend and it's even more beautiful than I imagined it! I am so excited about how it turned out. I wish I had just a portion of the talent that she does.

Here are (way too many) pictures of Harper's bed:

I wish I could show it to you in a finished baby room, but we're not quite there yet (or even started for that matter), so that must wait. At least she has a bed to sleep in!

This was certainly a labor of love and I appreciate so much all of the work that went into it.

Thank you, Mom!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Checking out of Covenant Lakeside #324

Another sleepless night last night left me even more anxious and exhausted than I was yesterday. When the sun finally started coming up, I didn't know if I was ready to face whatever today held, but so ready to get it over with at the same time. We were told it would be this afternoon before we heard anything about Harper's test results, so we got showers, had breakfast, and laid around for a couple of hours.

And as has been my struggle through every step of this journey so far, I tried my hardest to hope and pray and expect the best, but at the same time, prepare myself for any news we may get. It seemed so likely to me that something could be wrong with Harper. Something bigger. Something lifelong. Something unfixable. I mean...there has to be a reason that everything looks normal, but yet she's not growing.

I've been praying about this for a long time. I beg and plead with God to let our baby girl be as healthy as let her be as normal as let her have as full of a life as possible. But I always end up feeling guilty for my whatever God has in store for us isn't "good enough" for I won't appreciate the blessings of this child no matter how she comes to I'm selfish for wanting her to be "normal."

I know the truth. I know we will love and adore and cherish her no matter what. I know she will be a blessing in our lives no matter what. And I know that God knows our hearts and our minds and for me to worry about being "misunderstood" by Him is such a silly thing.

The results were back this morning and everything looks normal on the preliminary report. There will be a full report available early next week, but all indications are that Harper is totally and completely normal as far as her chromosomes are concerned.

We found out in the middle of a sonogram and I tried to hold myself together until we could get back to our room. And then I cried. Tears of relief. Tears of thanksgiving. Tears of happiness that Harper won’t have to face any more struggles than she is already up against. We are so, so relieved.

We still have a lot to get through. We have to make it a couple more weeks. We have to get her here. We have to see how her heart functions on its own. We have to see if her Tricuspid valve has grown. We have to see if the hole in her heart hasn’t grown. We have to get through her first minutes, hours, and days. And we have to make it through a heart surgery. But I feel so much more ready for these days ahead with a little uncertainty out of the way…with a little reassurance that whatever problems she may have right now are fixable.

So after the test results, a sonogram, a non-stress test, full blood work, and meeting with each of my doctors, we were discharged from the hospital around 2:00. Now that we have ruled out a chromosome abnormality as the cause of the growth problems, it pretty much leaves one culprit…a lousy placenta. Dr. Killeen explained it like this: because she’s not growing, she’s obviously under some “stress.” But because all of the monitoring that we’ve been doing looks so good, she’s not in “distress.” The problem is that stress leads to distress and we need to be extra vigilant to watch for signs of that. He actually wasn’t a fan of sending me home from the hospital. They have me coming back this Saturday for a non-stress test and another sonogram and as long as things continue to look good for Harper, we are planning on delivering end of March/first of April.

In the meantime, I am going to take it really easy and try to give Harper a calm and stress-free couple of weeks to grow as much as possible. I will be so thrilled if we can make it to April (although I’m terribly anxious to meet this girl).

Thank you for your prayers. It is an indescribable feeling to know so many people love us so much that they have been in constant prayer for our family. It brings a comfort that nothing else possibly could.

We praise God for our good news today!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where We're At

Dr. Atkinson came by a little bit ago. We discussed Harper's lungs and he didn't seem surprised at all at her levels. He explained that while the numbers came back low, those results aren't necessarily an exact indicator of how a baby's lungs will perform once delivered. But since we know she's not ready, we will wait on delivering for another two weeks.

I asked him if he felt like she was in any danger where she is now. He said that if he wasn't concerned, he wouldn't have me here, but that he feels very comfortable waiting another two weeks. Her growth hasn't completely plateaued, which is a good thing.

Since we were already having the amnio done for the lung maturity tests, we went ahead and sent some amniotic fluid off for chromosome testing. It is a real possibility that Harper's growth issues are being caused by a chromosomal abnormality. We have known that because of her heart defect, she is at an increased risk for this and growth problems are just one more indicator that something bigger could be wrong.

I can't decide which is scarier: knowing or not knowing.

Those results take several days to process, so we won't have them back until Tuesday at the earliest. Dr. Atkinson is monitoring Harper three times a day and wants to continue doing that for a couple of days until we find out about the chromosome results.

So I'll be a resident here for at least a couple more days. The good news is that he gave me a pass to come and go from the hospital so I can at least have a little break from this room. I have to have someone who is "responsible" for me while I'm out, but I have a good feeling Dustin will do that for me. So I have big plans for dinner and a little shopping tonight.

It'll be a long two days as we sit here with not much to do and wait for results that could be life-changing. Dustin has been releasing a little nervous energy with some retail therapy today. He went to church this morning and since then, he's been to Home Depot twice, been to Harbor Freight Tools, and he's currently at Lowe's. The only consolation I have is that I have the car so loaded down with everything I own that he can't possibly buy too much. For some reason shopping for tools is more appealing to him than the Sister Wives marathon on TLC today.

If you would, please just keep us in your prayers while we wait to find out more information on this sweet girl and for peace and understanding with whatever information we receive.  You can't imagine the peace and comfort it brings us to know that we have so many praying for us and surrounding us with love and support during this time of uncertainty. We are so blessed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Just Checking In...

I didn't sleep much last night. How do you even prepare to be gone from your house for an unknown period of time (at the changing of the seasons at that...I mean, seriously, what is a girl supposed to pack?) as well as the possibility of the arrival of a sweet baby and subsequent surgeries?

Dustin can officially tell you. You pack everything you own into your huge car because you are pregnant and irrational. Have I ever mentioned what a patient man he is?

We were supposed to be at the hospital at 10:00, but it was kind of hard to say goodbye to Eli and Landon, so it was more like 11:00 before we got here. Leaving those boys was definitely the part of the day that I was dreading the most. They have such tender hearts. And they know that things aren't normal...they've been extra clingy and extra needy and extra "mama's boys"... (and extra bad, but we won't go into that). They were very happily going with Nemo to her house for the rest of the weekend, which made things a little easier. I have a lot of confidence that they will be very spoiled well taken care of!

Speaking of Eli and Landon...
We are in the antepartum floor of the hospital, where I was admitted the day before they were born as well. While looking around, Dustin noticed that their picture is being proudly displayed on one of the bulletin boards here. I don't even know where they got this picture!

They quickly got me admitted and we were off to the amniocentesis by 11:40. I don't do well with needles. Dustin really doesn't do well with needles. He tried to leave the room and I had to inform him that being a coward was not a luxury that he could be afforded today and he needed to get his rear by my side to hold my hand. He reluctantly agreed and neither one of us opened our eyes until the whole thing was completely over and all of the evidence was gone. It was relatively easy and painless and the whole thing took just a few minutes.

We didn't get results until about 2:30. Basically, there are two tests that measure lung development. The numbers that indicate lung maturity are 50-55 on the first test and 50,000 on the second test. Harper's levels were 22 and 17,000... a far cry from being mature. They are giving me another round of steroid shots and now we wait a little longer. Dr. Atkinson was already gone for the day, so we didn't get to discuss the results with him. I am anxious to see what he says tomorrow when he comes by.

I didn't expect her lungs to be mature, but I was a little surprised by just how low her numbers are. I don't know enough about the situation to even know how to feel, but my first reaction was relief. I'm relieved that they won't be delivering in the next few days and I hope and pray that she decides to grow a little with this extra time she has. Her extremely slow growth definitely indicates a problem somewhere, but because everything else looks so good (fluid, blood flow, heart, structure)...I feel like she's not in any immediate danger. This is, of course, my own supposition with absolutely no confirmation from anyone in the medical field, so maybe I should just wait until tomorrow before I "feel" one way or another.

In any case, I've had a lot of people ask me how I'm doing and I must say that I'm actually surprised by how calm and at peace I am about everything. Don't get me wrong...I'm scared. I'm worried. I'm anxious. I'm sad to be away from my boys. But more than that, I'm hopeful. I'm prayerful. I'm excited. And I know that God can and will take care of us.

Plus...I get to spend two whole days with my good friend, Dustin. It's kind of like a little get-away :) They are keeping me until at least Monday to monitor Harper several times a day and then hopefully they'll allow me to go home to wait it out there.

Dustin took a three hour nap today (nothing like quality time with your husband...I shared a narrow hospital bed with his 6'4" snoring self while I watched an NCIS marathon) so I'm assuming he'll be up all night watching whatever war show he's currently found. I, however, am going to try and get some sleep.

Thank you so much for all of the encouraging texts and for your continued prayers. Hopefully I'll have a better handle on the situation tomorrow afternoon when we've had a chance to visit with Dr. Atkinson.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

I might have considered myself an optimist at one point in time...and to a certain extent I guess I still am.

Somewhere along the way though, I realized that pessimists seem to suffer less disappointment. When you always expect the worst, there isn't much room for disappointment.

But that's really not who I want to be.

So I guess I would put myself somewhere in the middle now. I want to be optimistic, but because I have to fight those pessimistic thoughts, I end up somewhere in between....possibly realistic. Sometimes I fear that my lack of optimism really translates into a lack of faith and it scares me that I have to try to much harder now to hope for the best. It's becoming all to common to just expect the worst.  

In any case...I was prepared for today.

Harper has grown, but only marginally. She is below the 5th percentile and they no longer can even pinpoint just how low on the growth curve she really is. It's hard to want something so badly and have absolutely no control over attaining it. I want my body to give Harper everything she needs, but other than eating well and taking vitamins, it's really out of my control. And for whatever reason...I'm just no good at growing babies.

The problem is that we really need Harper's lungs to be mature before she's born. Immature lungs combined with a heart problem is a recipe for disaster. So Dr. Atkinson allowed me to come home today, but Covenant Lakeside will be expecting my arrival at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and I'll be admitted for an undetermined amount of time. I will have an amniocentesis on Saturday to measure just how developed Harper's lungs are. Based on these results, Dr. Atkinson will know exactly where her lungs are right now and exactly how much more time she needs inside for them to be fully mature. Once we have that information, my team of doctors will decide whether to go ahead and deliver Harper so she can start growing outside of me or whether to let her develop a little longer inside of me.

If her lungs still need quite a bit more time, they may allow me to come home until we know she's ready for delivery. We'll know more of a plan on Saturday.

So I came home to my sweet, little boys and I'm so thankful I have a little time to hold them tight before our lives get a little crazy. So if you need me the next 24 hours or so, I'll be right here soaking up all of the hugs, kisses, and laughter I can with two of the funniest, most handsome, and sweetest little boys there ever were.

As always, we appreciate your love, concern, and prayers for our family. I have faith that no matter what the next few days and weeks hold for our family, God is already there and in control. He will certainly see us through.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quick Update

Just wanted to let you all know how my appointment went yesterday. It was pretty uneventful...Dr. Atkinson looked over my monitoring strip and at all of her blood flow and said she looked great and that he would see me next week. I am really thankful for another week home with my babies and another week for Harper to grow! A lot is riding on next week's appointment because they will measure again. I think that as long as she is growing at least some, we'll still try to make it to 37/38 weeks. I'm feeling a lot more at peace and calm about the situation now. Knowing that we'll make it to at least 35 weeks is reassuring.

I'm contemplating having a last minute garage sale tomorrow... as in throw all my junk (and we have a LOT) on tables and let people pay whatever they want for it. It gets it out of my storage building, is not a lot of work, and we might even get a few dollars. We'll see what Dustin thinks of this idea when he gets home from work. It's every man's dream to have a garage sale with their very pregnant wife and two toddlers, right?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sorry for the lack of updates last week. Eli's week started off rough when Landon "helped" him off the porch and he skinned his face.

That same night, I was at the hospital having a non-stress test done and I get a text from Dustin that says, "I'm pretty sure Landon just broke Eli's nose." Dustin had cleaned most of the blood up before I got home, but there were still drops of blood all over my kitchen floor. Poor little Eli. His nose never swelled or bruised, so I don't think it was broken after all. Then... Dustin, Eli, and Landon all had some sort of stomach bug, but thankfully I managed to avoid it somehow. I went to Lubbock Thursday for my weekly appointment and Friday we spent the day in Abilene shopping, eating, going to the doctor, and visiting the zoo. We needed some fun after that long week. We haven't been to the zoo in a really long time and it was fun to see Eli and Landon soak it all up and get excited about all of the animals they recognized.

My appointment Thursday was okay. Harper still isn't growing as quickly as we'd like. She is 3 lbs, 6 oz. and in the 6th percentile now. Dr. Atkinson said that while her growth isn't what it should be, if we look at the big picture, she really looks great. All of the monitoring I've been doing (twice a week) looks great. Her fluid looks good, her blood flow looks good, she's very active, and her heart rate is always very consistent. Overall...she looks good. She's just really small. I was SO relieved that he didn't put me in the hospital to watch her any closer than we already are.

(33 weeks)

Yesterday marked the exact day in my pregnancy (by gestational age) that Eli and Landon were born. 33 weeks and 3 days. Eli was born at 3 lbs, 4 oz., so Harper is already bigger than he was at this time. Hopefully we can make it another four weeks!

Here are a few pictures of Eli and Landon:

Eli (successfully) dressed himself this day.

This has always been Eli and Landon's favorite spot in the yard. There's a little hole in the fence and they LOVE to stick things through there and terrorize the neighbor's dog. It's really quite annoying as that dumb dog barks like crazy at them. They laugh and think it's hilarious.

Sweet Landon

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