Friday, January 28, 2011

A little sweetness...

I promise I won't take pictures of every gift we receive and dedicate a blog post to it, but Nemo brought these yesterday and they are just too sweet not to share. In addition to that, they are Harper's first monogrammed item and that is certainly something notable :)

Harper Update

Dustin and I went to Lubbock yesterday for a day full of appointments. Most notably, we saw Harper's pediatric cardiologist for the last time before she is born.

At our first appointment with him, he had trouble even finding the tricuspid valve and said that if it was there, it was so small that he couldn't see it. At an appointment last week, Dr. Atkinson mentioned that he thought he saw that valve now, so I was anxious to hear what Dr. Robinson (the cardiologist) thought. Harper was in a very cooperative mood, which made things so much easier and Dr. Robinson was able to get a really good look at her heart.

The Tricuspid Valve is definitely there, but it's on the small side. It should be measuring about 9mm at this point, but it's somewhere between 4 and 5 mm. There is still time for it to grow though, and that's what we are praying for. If the tricuspid valve grows, then our biggest problem is the hole in her heart, which can be patched after she's born. It's only because of this hole that Harper's right ventricle (the lower right chamber of the heart) has grown and developed, but it will cause heart failure after she's born if it's not fixed. This hole is quite large as far as holes-in-the-heart go, but it's not too large at this point that it couldn't be patched. If the hole gets any bigger, it will be less likely that they will be able to patch the hole to make a two chamber heart.

So we're working with two variables here: the size of the hole and the size of the tricuspid valve. We need the tricuspid valve to grow and the hole in her heart to not grow (shrink would be even better, but I'm told that's not realistic...that won't stop me from praying for it though.)

These two variables will determine everything about our plan of action. Here are a couple scenarios that could play out:

1. If the tricuspid valve does NOT grow and/or the hole DOES grow, then we will most likely continue with our original plan to do the PA Band surgery the first week of life and then two other surgeries later on to make Harper's heart into a one-chamber heart. This will mean three surgeries her first two years.

2. If the tricuspid valve DOES grow and the hole does NOT grow, then we may or may not do the PA Band (depending on how her heart is functioning at birth) and she will undergo a surgery anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to separate the heart into a two-chamber heart by patching the hole in her heart. This will mean 2 surgeries (but possibly even just one). A good two-chamber heart is better than a one-chamber heart, but an excellent one-chamber heart is better than a bad two-chamber heart.

Scenario #2 would be a better situation for Harper because it would be 1-2 less surgeries and would leave her with a two-chamber heart, but either way, we are optimistic that her heart is fixable and she will be a healthy little girl after this is all said and done.

She still has a couple months to grow and even though we won't see the cardiologist again until she's born, Dr. Atkinson will be looking at her heart every week and making sure her growth remains normal. If everything continues to go well, we will probably deliver the first week in April and it's going to be quite the party with all of the doctors and nurses that will be there. Harper will certainly be making a grand entrance into this world. I'm anxious to meet this sweet thing that has caused us so much worry already!

We are so pleased with her growth and development and so thankful that God continues to move things in a direction that is more hopeful and positive for our family. Thank you again for your prayers and thank you for checking on us.

Here is a picture from last week:

(28 weeks pregnant)

And here are some pictures of the most precious boys I know. I think Harper is one lucky little girl to have Eli and Landon...although I'm a little concerned about her surviving them her first year or so :) 
I guess she'll be tough!

I'm looking forward to a nice, productive weekend at home with my three favorite people. We've been very busy with potty-training and I plan to report on that soon. It's nothing short of frustrating, gross, and hilarious. Most likely I'll be telling you what I've done as a "how NOT to" guide. Despite it all..we are making a little progress. Emphasis on "little"!

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Family Pictures

I hadn't had the boys' pictures taken since last August and I was feeling pretty awful about it. I originally just planned on getting their pictures taken and staying out of it...mostly because Dustin had already told me that yearly family pictures were a little excessive and he would not be participating this year. What a scrooge.

But then, we found out we were expecting and I played the whole, "our-family-will-never-look-like-this-again" card and the "can-we-please-do-this-now-before-I-get-big-and-fat-because-I-may-never-look-the-same-again" card and he's such a softie, so he totally agreed.

So, we scheduled with Heather Posey, a sweet friend that we go to church with. She's easy-going and has a lot of energy ( should see her sprinting around trying to get pictures of these boys). She's way patient and just keeps shooting away until she feels good about what she's got. And she always, always tries whatever ideas I have. We love Heather!

So here are a few of my favorites:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Harper Update

I went back to Dr. Atkinson yesterday to check on Harper and it was SUCH an encouraging appointment.

My prayers have really been focused on her growth lately. Our fears are that if there is an issue with the placenta that is causing the growth problems, there will come a point in time that the doctors will have to decide to go ahead and take her because she'll have a better chance of growing outside rather than inside. We've done the prematurity thing before and it's not something I want to experience again. Plus, a premature baby combined with a heart defect is not a good situation. At our last appointment, Harper's measurements put her weighing about 1 lb, 6 oz, in the 13th percentile, and about 10 days behind in growth. Even though she had grown and her growth curve was looking normal, there was still some concern that she was falling further behind.

When they measured Harper yesterday, she came out to 1 lb, 14 oz. and in the 18th percentile. She had completely normal growth and everyone was very happy with this. We're headed in the right direction and I am so, so thankful! Maybe it's all that peppermint ice cream I've been eating :)

Dr. Atkinson looked at her heart and was impressed that the right side of her heart is still continuing to grow. He even thinks he can see the Tricuspid valve now, so I'm really anxious to go back to the pediatric cardiologist next week and see what he has to say now that she's a little bigger. He also looked at all blood flow throughout her body and everything looked normal and good.

I'll see Dr. Atkinson every week from here on out. And I'll be monitored once a week here in Snyder on top of that. It seems just a little excessive to me, but I have to remember that without all of the constant monitoring, we might not have Eli and Landon today. We caught things at the exact time that they were quickly deteriorating with the boys and we delivered the next morning.

It's actually my hope and prayer that all of this excessive monitoring is just that: excessive and unneeded. Hopefully we won't have any problems and we can make it as close to 40 weeks as possible. We need Harper to be as big and strong as possible!

Thank you for checking on us. We praise God for a good report once again!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas #3

Last weekend, we traveled to McKinney for one last Christmas celebration. It was such a fun weekend! We ate a delicious meal and watched the Cotton Bowl Friday night (I know...not much fun watching them lose, but at least we made it!). Saturday, Dustin let me shop ALL day with my mom and Kristin. It was wonderful! Saturday night, the adults went out for steak to celebrate my birthday. And then Sunday, we worshipped that morning and almost got stuck in Dallas when the snow and ice hit. Thankfully, the worst of it was in McKinney, so once we got a little west, it was pretty clear.

I'm not a good passenger in inclement weather. Dustin will attest to that.

I'm really not that great of a passenger in sunny weather either. I can't help myself. I worry a little.

So..onto the pictures:

We opened up gifts during half-time of the Cotton Bowl

Eli and Landon really have the hang of this "present" thing by this point in time.

I didn't bother editing out the red eye...that's how lazy I am today.

The boys' biggest gift from Grammy and Grandpa was a train table. They were really excited about it...until they couldn't get it out of the box. So we FINALLY set it up last night and they have been playing with it all day today.

They were, of course, very helpful in the assembly process.

A jack-hammer is a required tool for all train table assemblies I'm quite certain.

With Eli and Landon's help, it only took five times longer than it should have, but we finally got it done.

What a very merry Christmas we had this year! Thank you mom and Mike...we had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harper Update

Yesterday's appointments went really well. The overall consensus is that Harper's heart is totally fixable and there is a real optimistic feeling held by all of our doctors.

That's the short story. The longer story is this:

I haven't even mentioned another issue we were having because I wanted to wait and see how this appointment went. Harper is pretty small and there were/are some concerns about her growth. She measured perfectly on with our dates at our very first appointment, but at the appointment with Dr. Atkinson back in November, she was measuring 6 days behind in growth. The growth issue combined with the heart defect raised some concern about a chromosomal abnormality (think Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18). We had to wait until this appointment to get one more set of numbers to plot Harper's growth and compare it to the average growth curve. Small is okay, as long as the shape of her growth curve matches the shape of the normal growth curve. I'm very relieved to say that while she is very small for her gestational age (measuring 10 days behind now), she is still growing along the normal growth curve. Any growth issues we have after this point would indicate more of a problem with the placenta rather than a chromosomal problem.

We would have to have an amniocentesis to be absolutely certain one way or another, but at this time, the risks of that procedure aren't worth the benefit of knowing to Dustin and myself. If things stay the way they are now, as far as Harper's heart and our plan for her immediately after delivery, the results of that test would be inconsequential anyway. So, we will wait and continue to pray that Harper be as healthy as possible.

The heart issue isn't as much of a concern right now (in utero), but the growth issue is something that they will be watching closely. I go back to Dr. Atkinson in two weeks and back to the cardiologist in three weeks. They will probably start weekly monitoring after that point.

So our plan remains the same for now: a planned delivery in Lubbock, the PA Band surgery her first week of life, a short NICU stay, and then waiting for Harper to get a little bigger so they can go in there and really fix the problems with her heart so that she can lead a healthy, active, normal life.

I like to have a plan and I'm feeling good about this one.

Thank you again for your calls and texts to check on me and for your prayers for Harper and myself. For the time being, it seems we're doing pretty well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Here we go...

This past weekend, Dustin and I met up with all of our college friends to ring in the new year. It was SO much fun! I laughed until I cried more times than I can count. I really, really love those people and I love how we can all just pick up right where we left off years ago. We are very blessed to have such good friends.

I'm happy to say that we are home now. I've spent the day recovering, doing laundry, unpacking, napping, and loving on my sweet boys who I missed like crazy.

And tomorrow, I head back to the doctors. I'm cautiously excited. I'm excited to see Harper again. I can't wait to see her and hear her heart beat and see how much she's grown, but I'm cautious because I'm so uncertain of what I'll hear. We've been constantly praying for our little girl, so what I do know is this: whatever tomorrow holds, God is already there. And that gives me peace.

So, if you think about it and have a moment, please say a prayer for us. It will most likely be a long day.

Here's a picture we took as we drove through the town of Harper yesterday.

(25 weeks pregnant)
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