Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Birthdays, Expectations, Mirrors and Other Things...

At this time a year ago, I think Dr. Shonekan and I were talking over Matthew's survivability. We both agreed that there would probably be some issues due to his blood loss and associated loss of oxygen. Probably not too much later, the amazing pediatrician on-call, Dr. Hickey, and I were also discussing his survivability...what had happened, how he was such a he'd rallied.

No one...

No one...

NO ONE expected he'd die.

And if they did, they were gracious enough and sweet enough and compassionate enough to keep that from me.

Because I had NO DOUBT that baby boy was going to live. He was going to prove to be even more of a miracle than I already knew he was. He was going to be the reason I had been a teacher...and one with a special affinity for special needs children....because it was God preparing me for how life with him might be.

We'd be grateful, grateful, grateful.

And then Dr. Hickey was called away...and she didn't come back. I know now she was called away because she was receiving information from Georgetown.

Information she didn't want to have to give. Information no one wanted to believe.

He was not going to live.

I don't remember much, admittedly. What I remember is random and based on what medicine I'd been given for the emergency surgery, iffy perhaps for accuracy.

What I remember the most is that God let me down. He betrayed me. He betrayed my trust. He betrayed my faith. He did not intervene and He broke His promise of a little boy with spaghetti all over his face for me to love and raise.

I was numb and I was shocked and I was in denial. And while even then I didn't believe that God had broken my heart, I sure as heck didn't care...because at that time, whether he allowed my heart to be broken or broke it didn't really matter. The bottom line was that it was broken. And has remained so for 365 days.

Will remain so for the rest of my life.

Today John and I marveled at how fast a year has gone. We talked about how much faster it would have gone if he was here, because I think we all know that children grow at astronomical speeds.

Well, the living ones do.

I did pretty well in church, all things considered. I prayed last night and before church to just make it through without crying. I was almost successful...right as I was leaving the dam broke, and thankfully, for just a bit in the car. We took flowers to his grave and shivered as we realized how it seemed like it was yesterday and a million years ago at the same our life doesn't seem so different than it did a year ago and how it has been changed in the most dramatic way forever. Someone had left a sweet ornament at his marker and I was immediately touched by the remembrance that had been shown.

We got home and I crashed. I was tired and just tried to nap. I was somewhat successful.

We did not do anything big for his birthday. In fact, we didn't do anything.

I planned to make cupcakes for the hospital. I planned to bring them and some hats I've made today after church. I planned to send out blankets and hats and stuffed animals to Georgetown's NICU. John says that it was so clinical and could use some warmth. I planned to have already bought the rocker for our local hospital nursery. We've been planning to get the granite bench for his marker for months and months, but never have the right car when we go by the statuary. I planned to have some tradition set so that Luke will know that even before he was born, Matthew's place in our family was worthy and meritorious of tradition, whether he was here or not. I planned to have his remembrance cards out in the mail already. I planned to eat chocolate cake.

So when thinking about what I've 'learned' this year, I realize that plans are worthless.

They don't always happen the way you want them to and that's just the way it is. Whether it's because of something you did or didn't do...some basic things still remain.

Matthew is dead. He's not coming back. Nothing I do or don't do changes that and anything I do or don't do is really and truly for me and for John.

And we are ok with getting the things I'd planned to do done as we feel we can. (Which, the over-anxious Lori inside of me is screaming, better be SOON!)

I've also learned a lot about expectations...and how they really just have too much power in our lives. We've been sorely disappointed in our expectations of some and unbelievably and overwhelmingly surprised and grateful for things said and done by those that if we are honest, really did not expect much of. We've learned that we are happiest when we expect nothing and are just blessed beyond belief with whatever people are capable of being and doing.

I really and truly believe that people do the best they can, just as we have, and though it's easy for us to say what we'd do in certain situations, we often don't know until push comes to shove.

Push certainly came to shove this year...and we are ok with the roles that the people in our lives play...while sometimes we may wish it different, we also understand that just as we don't have any rule book for how to grieve a child, there's not really a rule book for how to deal with people who are grieving a child. So we try to be graceful and understanding and share our hurts with only one another so that we can behave the way we hope God wants us to behave.

I looked in the mirror today. I saw a face I haven't seen in long time. I'm grateful that it has been a long time since I've seen it, but I admit, seeing it again just sort of instantly transported me to every hellish moment I've had this year.

It was my eyes. They were tired and sad and just defeated. I was sort of surprised that I saw that look...I really did and still sort of feel like Matthew's birthday was going to be a hard day more because people are so thoughtful and caring and recognized and remembered it...and in doing so, sort of forced me to have to think about it with every hug and kind word or email. Of course, that's necessary, but hard nonetheless....and I guess I was just surprised when I looked in the mirror and realized the toll that had been taken.

The mirror doesn't lie, does it? It's been a hard year and my face shows it.

The thing I remember most from the day Matthew was born and died was how I felt about God...and how I felt God felt about me. And John.

And now, a year later, I can say that I don't feel betrayed anymore. I don't feel like my faith was shattered. Mostly, I don't feel that He broke His promise to me.

I feel like I'm able to more understand what His promises are. He gave me a beautiful, beautiful baby boy. He made me a mother. He surrounded and still surrounds me with people who comfort me and care for me and support me in a way that I often can hardly believe. He promised He'd never leave me or forsake me...and the fact that I continue to breathe is proof that He does. He promised He'd supply me with all my needs. I've not even known what they were...and yet they've been so abundantly met this year. He promised victory over death, and though I have to say that Matthew's death most certainly stings stings because I ache for him...not because I don't believe that it's been conquered. I sometimes feel like taking a big victorious breath when I think about how amazing that is.

He promised His grace would be sufficient. It absolutely has been.

He promised eternal life...far longer than the life on this earth...and through sacrifice none of us can imagine.

He is faithful and His promises can be believed and trusted.

So, of all things planned and wanted, one thing we've decided to do is put our Christmas tree up on Matthew's birthday.

I was not keen on Matthew's birthday being lumped together with Thanksgiving or any other holiday/day for that matter. Again, the best laid plans...

In any event, we will put up the Christmas tree every year on Matthew's birthday. I want Luke to know that it is because of the miracle sent to us in a tiny baby boy we will one day see our precious boy again. When he thinks of putting up the Christmas tree, I want him to always remember we did it on Matthew's birthday...and we did so because we remember, celebrate and honor the sacrifice God made to ensure we will one day be reunited.

And we'll eat chocolate cake.

Missing my sweet boy....grateful for his birth and his life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


...don't really mean too much. They do, but they don't. I've said that before.

John, bless his sweet heart, asked if I wanted him to be around on Monday. I asked him why he thought I'd want that. He said, "It's the day Matthew died." Well, I of course knew that, but wondered why he felt that day would be worse than any other. Honestly, if I *had* to pick a day that would be worst, I guess it would be his birthday. And truly, the days I prepare for are WAY easier than some days I don't.

Like today. When the word 'exsanguination' pretty much had me

Poor Dr. Sweeney--he got an earful today. As always, he was just amazing in listening, reassuring and just sympathizing with us.

So, if we're mentioning dates....a year ago was my due date with Matthew. I just knew, knew, KNEW he'd be on time...just like his mama.

Yep, so not right about that.

Anyway...we had our weekly appointment for Luke today. We measure every two weeks, which is still probably a little close...sort of like watching brownies...there's way more way to tell accurately how much more cooked they are if you aren't watching them every 30 seconds. In any event, today was a growth scan and Luke was weighing in 4 lbs., 8 oz. He's already bigger than I was when I was born and he's 32 weeks while I was full-term. The measurements taken today gave his gestational age as 32w1d...which is exactly what I am. His head circumference was a bit smaller--31w6d, but that's his daddy for you. Some other measurements were right on, give or take, but the femur length was 2 weeks bigger! Looks like this mommy just grows long babies. Overall, he was in the 65th%tile!!!! Even the sono tech was sort of surprised and asked, "You passed your glucose test, right?"

Hmmmm....yes....yes, I did....but that was 6 weeks ago and gestational diabetes can come on at any time...especially toward the end of the pregnancy. So, we'll ask Dr. Shonekan about whether or not she thinks I might want to do another one just to be sure. Odds are, things are fine...but for him to continue to GROW in the percentile charts, while I STILL have only gained 17 pounds...well, like I said, she implied that it wouldn't hurt to see what my OB says and double check the glucose.

Dr. Sweeney said not to worry about the hiccups too much. He said it seemed like Luke was drinking up in there (knew he was a party animal) because his little tummy was full of amniotic fluid. But bless that man's heart...when I said, "I know, I'm just getting more anxious, I guess..." he said, "Well of course you are. How could you not?" When I asked how often we'd need to see him in the last two weeks or so before we delivered, he said, "Well, I guess we'll just have to get some beds here in the office for you guys, won't we?"

He gets it. He gets it because he sort of lived it too. Matthew dying shocked him as much as it shocked us...maybe even more because I ALWAYS feel like there's a small chance of something going horribly wrong and he, as a doctor with far more knowledge and experience, had NO DOUBT that things were fine with us.

So he gets that I'm getting more nervous because is everyone else. And as he said, rightly so.

No pictures...he's cramped and his little hands (both of them) were right up there, as usual. I figured we would be coming close to the end of good pictures because of him being cramped and I guess we've moved into that territory. Not too much longer, and odds are he will be spine up to boot.

He looked beautiful, though....and I was thankful, thankful, thankful.

Here's what my little chubster is doing this week:

(For the record, Luke, daddy called you a cuckoo bird...apparently mama cuckoo birds will lay eggs in the nest of a smaller bird...the baby cuckoo bird will hatch, and grows REALLY fast...pushing the smaller mama bird's other babies our and making the smaller mama bird work hard to keep the big old cuckoo bird fed...I guess I should be glad he didn't liken me to the mama cuckoo bird who apparently prefers 'the system' take care of her babies...oh, your daddy is a funny, funny boy....)

Week Thirty Two: Reproductive development continues

You are 32 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 30 weeks)
  • The baby is 17 inches (43cm) long and weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms).
  • The diameter of the head is almost 4 inches (10cm).
  • Under the skin the fat layer is getting thicker.
  • The toenails and fingernails are completely formed.
  • In boys, the testicles will be descending from the groin down into his scrotum.
32 weeksDuring this time the baby sleeps most of the day. The uterus is getting to be a small space for the baby to move about, so you may have noticed a decrease in your baby's movements. The baby is still trying to move frequently but it just does not have enough room. The baby will turn its head from side to side and move its hands.

As space in your uterus becomes more cramped, your baby's kicks and other movements may seem less forceful. You may want to check on your baby's movements from time to time and do a kick count.

If your baby is a boy, his testicles are moving from their location near the kidneys through the groin on their way into the scrotum. If your baby is a girl, her clitoris is now relatively prominent.

The baby will now weigh about 4 pounds (1.8 kg). Half of your weight gain now will go directly to baby. If you are carrying twins or more, their weight increase will be slower than singletons because of the lack of room in the uterus.

Are you waddling? This is because the ligaments in your pelvis have softened, allowing your hips to spread in preparation for birth. If you find that the increased weight of your breasts is uncomfortable when sleeping try wearing a soft but supportive bra to bed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Much Going On....

Again, I have eight million and four things that I'd *like* to write about, and about half of those, I feel like I *need* to write about because I don't want my lack of motivation to go through the tears of writing to prohibit me from documenting things for Luke. I feel like in the last few weeks, that's been happening more and more. So, Luke, sorry. Mommy's doing her best to keep it all together. I'll bullet so I don't forget what I want to write about and then hope in the next few weeks, before you are born, I'll get to them.
  • Luke's shower was amazing. He is a very loved little boy and John and I were once again reminded of how blessed we are. Also want to write about the precious surprise shower given by my sweet Bible study ladies.
  • Luke is 32 weeks today. Unbelievable.
  • Haven't forgotten about Women of Faith.
  • Haven't forgotten about the many, many sweet gifts that have been sent for Luke (and Matthew).
  • Decided to post about Matthew's room. Just have to get the pictures together.
  • Have more 'thank-yous' running around in my head than I can even begin to number, and just want to make sure they are known.
  • Grace is sufficient. Even when you don't believe it. Or feel it. Or know how it's possible. It is. I swear.
  • Things I've not felt the need to do...
That last one is really a big one running through my head. This is the week of "One year ago...." and yet, it's not. Technically, of course, a year ago, I was two days away from my due date (and BEGGING him to come and be on time!!!!). Tomorrow is an ultrasound for Luke (usually Mondays, but shaking things up with the holidays) and a year ago tomorrow, I saw my precious Matthew wiggling around inside of me for the last time. He was an itty bitty peanut, according to the ultrasound, but it was a wonderful ultrasound. We laughed and joked about how hopefully I'd not come back the following week because he'd be born...which he was. I brought pumpkin spice cake. The best pictures were of his sweet feet because he was so cramped...but those sweet feet were so present on screen and in my side, I could almost kiss them RIGHT THERE!

In two days, one year ago, I saw Dr. Shonekan and we scheduled Matthew's induction. It was set for November 30, and I'd be 41 weeks. This year, in two days, I again have an appointment to see her...for a NST for Luke.

In three days, I sat at the table with Mom and John and Andi and had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Still no Matthew, but a phone call asking if I wanted to come in the next day and be induced. I shook with fear. John was giddy with anticipation. This year, we'll probably put up the Christmas tree and plan on *Thanksgiving* dinner the next day with all of the sweet family we have coming in.

And then, of course, in just a few days, a year ago, Matthew was born. And died. And my heart was broken.

But here's the thing....though these are 'markers' and milestones, I don't feel compelled to do big things. These days will probably present a bit more emotionally for me, but honestly....I miss Matthew with the same intensity every single day. Whether it's a holiday or a milestone/marker day or just a random Thursday...I miss him and think about what would have and should have been every single day. I know it may sound weird...but I think these next few days will sort of be like any other day for me...another day where I try to remember to breathe and take in the blessings of everything I've been given and cling to promises.

Basically, more desperate days where I go to sleep at night not having a clue of how I made it through, yet knowing that not only did I, but I was able to laugh some, even if I cried a good bit too, and able to exist with my heart in a million little pieces but each sliver sprinkled with such joy and anticipation for Luke, I can't get over it.

And that's how I know His grace is sufficient.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Countdown Continues...

So, we're like 7 weeks out. If that.

38 weeks will be January 3, so more than likely, we'll be scheduled for the 4th or 5th of January.

Which is NOT. THAT. FAR.

I've had a million things going on in my many that I can't even get them out and that just adds to my t0-do list. I constantly walk around with a list (which I am forever losing, thus forcing the need to make a new list and endure the anxiety of trying to remember what was on the original list...oy!) of things and while I am grateful for the things on the list because they keep me busy, busy, busy-----I'm tired! Not physically; I actually have quite a bit of energy...just mentally.

So I just have been trying to lay low lately. I've had several people tell me that they worry when I don't write or update FB for a few days. I'm so blessed to have people even pay that much attention to me, much less know that may mean that I've got stuff going on internally, so to speak. I guess they are sort of right--not so much in the need to worry, but that it typically means I am processing *stuff* and just needing the time/space/energy to do that.

There's a lot to process these days. Heather wrote about how she has a million posts she'd like to write but then they end up internalized and I SO get that!!! And those 'internal' posts just add to the jumble that's already there!

Luke's appointment Monday was great. No measurements since we just did that last week, but he's doing lovely. He was moving all over the place (and I PURPOSELY ate/drank NOTHING with sugar to keep him more calm. Nope. Nothing doing!) and as usual, Dr. Sweeney did a fabulous job of getting some side profile shots of him. He's got some sweet chubby cheeks like his brother, and huge feet and long legs...again, like his brother. If nothing else, apparently, John and I are consistent. His little lips and pout are his mommy's, along with that chin, and I'm even starting to see some of his Granddad's eyebrow shape like I saw with Matthew. I am so grateful for all these pictures...

I'm also grateful for the care we get from that office. It's like we're rockstars or something! They ask us what we think about the new decorations, feel comfortable enough to make baking requests (FINALLY!!!!!! I'm so happy!!!!! Black-velvet cupcakes were recently requested--and with my homemade icing, not the cream cheese! I couldn't make the cream cheese icing last time because I couldn't tolerate the smell, so I made my own and they LIKED it enough to ask for it again!!!!) and just generally treat us like we are old friends. Dr. Sweeney sent us over to L&D to see 'his buddy' (as he casually says!) who just so happens to be the head of L & D and as Dr. Morris was giving us a tour ALL OVER the place, people were looking at us like we must be very, very important for HIM to be doing that with us! He even took me back to the operating area (though he said he was sneaking us back there because we really weren't supposed to be there!) because "he didn't want anything to scare me or surprise me."

SERIOUSLY???? We are so blessed.

It was emotional, I admit, for both John and me...even though the WHOLE place is different, was just so, so emotional. John said the NICU was so very different from Georgetown's...and though Georgetown was wonderful, it was very clinical compared to the warmth and colors of AAMC. I reminded him that private hospitals have different money sources than schools! He knows that, but I just got the impression from John that if it wasn't for the amazing compassion of the Georgetown doctors and nurses who worked with Matthew, he would have even more of a cold and hardened memory.

So, we are all ok. I've been freaking out about the hiccups lately--Luke seems to have them often, and though Dr. Polko said that was a good thing, I also know that sometimes, fetal hiccups can be indicative of distress...especially cord I feel better when they are gone and he's back to the wiggly little acrobat he usually is!

The closer we get...the more worried I am. The more real it is, the more disappointment I feel I am getting closer to.

Every time I visit Matthew's grave...I just don't believe it will be any different.

My heart breaks. Missing Matthew and sadly, missing Luke.

I know that statement may not make sense, and is probably eliciting lots of, "She needs to think positive...she shouldn't feel like that...that's not healthy....yada yada yada."

All I have to say is that I doubt that would come from anyone who's lost a child. To us, it makes perfect sense.

There was NO, NO, NO reason to think that there would be ANY complications with being in the same boat with Luke is not really any comfort to me. And that's just reality.

I just keep begging God for His mercy and remembering, "This one, she will keep."

Soooo....those feelings and many others are why I have just preferred to internalize. Less judgement. Well-meaning, I know...but judgement nonetheless.

Luke's shower is this Saturday and I'm very, very excited! I'm attaching his sweet little invite and again hope that anyone who is nearby and sees it and would like to come, does. I can't say enough how grateful for the support we've received we are.

Luke, Mommy loves you...I love you, love you, love you and can't wait for the next 7 weeks!

Look at those SWEET cheeks!

Those lips and pout are SO mine!
More pouting and sweet cheeks...always with a little hand to his face!

That elbow is CONSTANTLY jabbing me! I love it!

Here's Luke's update for this week:

I'm still about 17 pounds or so of weight gain...NO SWELLING, Hallelujah!!!! I was about 10 pounds heavier with Matthew, but a lot of that was fluid. I could stand to gain a bit more, but Luke's actually a hair heavier than average, so he's doing just fine! As I said, I actually have a good deal of energy, though it's spent by about 3 in the afternoon! Of course, not sleeping much and getting up at 6:15 every day with John adds to that! Luke loves hearing the sunshine toy and he likes daddy's voice when he reads too!

Exercise? No. Hips and back just can't take it. I'm very active, though, and not overweight...nor need to worry about rough laboring, so, I'm ok with no exercise right now! (Or any day, really!)

Week Thirty One: Baby detects light

You are 31 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 29 weeks)
  • Baby weighs 3.5 pounds and measures 16.5 inches from the head to heel.
  • Baby's weight is about 1.6 kg and length around 42cm.
  • The eyes have now completely opened and are responding to light and darkness.
  • A loud noise near you may cause your little one to jump.
31 weeksYour baby continues to grow. Baby's lungs and digestive tract are very near to being mature. Now that almost all of the major organs are functioning, growth will focus on maturing those organs and growing muscle mass and fat stores. Baby's weight gain will exceed its growth in length from now on. He or she should more than double their weight again between now and birth. It weighs about 3.5 pounds (1.6kg), and crown to rump length is 11 inches (28cm). Its total length is 16.5 inches (42cm).

A loud noise near you may cause your little one to jump. Baby may move to the rhythm of music. Studies with heart rates show that they may also prefer some types of music to others at this stage. The eyes can now completely open and the irises are now responsive to light, dilating and contracting as needed.

You will probably find that though you have been feeling pretty energetic throughout your second trimester, you are beginning to slow down now. Pay attention to your body's signals and rest when you need to. Exercise is still an important activity for you, even though it gets harder as you get larger and heavier. Try swimming, stretching and walking all excellent options for pregnant women.

Your total pregnancy weight gain by this time should be between 21 and 28 pounds (9.5 and 12.5kg).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Special Blessings....

So, yes, I cringe when I think back to some statements made when I was pregnant with Matthew...

"Why on earth does he want pictures of my ginormous stomach?"

"Who wants to see me? It's all about the baby and lots of that'll come AFTER he's born!"

"Not sure how I'll feel about a baby moving all around inside of me...kind of alien-like, if you ask me."

Oh boy, isn't hindsight 20-20?

Of course, I said I didn't know how I'd feel about the baby moving BEFORE I actually felt the miracle of a teeny little hand or foot jabbing mommy to let me know he was safe and sound. There are truly few things I love less than the feeling of baby movement. Thank goodness Luke moves a ton as well...I'd worry if after Matthew the Monkey, Luke was more docile. Well, I'd worry more.

So, as for pictures...I've always been a picture person--I'm always the one with the camera, telling everyone to get together for a picture to remember the moment. I've said that pictures are priceless to I don't really know why I wasn't into more pictures of us while I was pregnant with Matthew.

I guess it's just because I felt I had a lifetime of photo opportunities.

Well. I've not made that mistake with Luke. We take and have tons of pictures. Of me, of my stomach, of us, of Luke via ultrasound...These are days we will not forget if for only because of the sheer documentation.

And we were blessed a few weeks ago to meet up with a sorority sister (Tri Delta, I think someone asked me that and I never answered...) for some maternity pictures.

Not just a sorority sister. An amazingly talented and adorable sorority sister with the sweetest heart. Talented enough to make us look like we don't do too bad of a job of cleaning up!

Talented enough to make us laugh and laugh and laugh all afternoon. Just amazing.

If you are in the Charlottesville area, I promise you, you will not find anyone more precious to take pictures and give you memories that you will hold dear and priceless for the rest of your life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Krissy!!!! You are such a blessing to us!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekly Visits Rock!

Last week, I told John that with things going as well as they were, I sort of felt guilty about moving to the weekly ultrasound visits because really, they were just more for my peace of mind. Of course, I then got over that guilt pretty quickly, because my peace of mind is priceless (and rare) these days.

So, I was VERY glad that I already had an appointment scheduled for this week. Though Dr. Sweeney just told us to come in whenever we could yesterday (I know his office staff must cringe when patients walk in and go, "Dr. Sweeney said to come whenever....") because our appointment was actually supposed to be Monday, I called to get a time frame and hopefully help their scheduling out some. Luke moved around all day, so I wasn't too worried, but was curious about the kidney issue and his growth.

He looks great. Still refuses to take that little hand away from his face, but other than that, a couple of sweet pictures--especially of him smiling and his sweet (big!) feet! The sono tech at the hospital measured and found him to be 2 lbs., 14 oz (which put him in the 12th% for growth and about 5/6 days behind gestational age) but John said that she wasn't quite as accurate as our friends (who do that all day long) and he'd guess it was closer to 3 lbs., 4 oz., because those measurements could be as much as 200 grams off. Only John would be able to do that conversion all right there.

Suzanne measured him at 3 lbs., 6 oz., which would TOTALLY confirm he was probably 3 lbs., 4 oz. on Sunday because they tend to gain about an ounce or so a day....he was in the 54th%tile, same as last week, and just perfect. Yawning, moving all over, just very content and happy. Dr. Sweeney looked at his kidney and his left one is enlarged some, but is considered mild pelviectasis and he's not a bit worried. My worry is that Luke has a UTI and we wouldn't really know until he was born and they could do a test, but he doesn't think that's it at all...more reflux if anything, and it is very common in boys. So, Matthew's was hiding and Luke's is bulging a bit. My boys.

As I said, though, no one's worried. Dr. Sweeney had noted that one was larger than the other, but always within common/normal limits and now we'll just keep a good eye on it for the next several weeks until he's born. If it gets bigger, or doesn't change, after he's born, we'll take him to a pediatric urologist. Funny...I had researched those for Matthew. We'll be fine.

I have remained pretty steady with weight-- 116-117ish. No swelling, which makes such a difference. Sleeping in 1-2 hour chunks, so getting up with Luke should be par for the course by the time he gets here. I've had a pretty icky sore throat for a few days, and originally thought it was from the ball and just talking too loud over the insanely loud music they were playing. Nope, it's still here. Still sore. Really sore. And strep is going around. I have not found a primary care doctor since I switched to Tricare Standard, so I'll probably end up having to go to Urgent Care today. Hooray.

Nothing else, really....see Dr. Shonekan tomorrow (now that Dr. Sweeney is weekly, every other week I'll have two doctors in one week. As much as a pain as my insurance can be, what would I do without it?!) and then Luke's shower is in a week and a half. I'm very excited to see people and for people to 'see' Luke. I'm going to post the sweet little invite and if you can read it and are in the area, would love to see you. We have been very, very blessed with such wonderful support and compassion in the last year and just want to be able to celebrate God's amazing grace.

Here are some pics of we get closer, we're losing room in there, so not as many as great pictures, but I love the sweet feet and him smiling!!!

Soooooo tired of all these pictures.....wonder what they'll be doing when I'm BORN!

Profile...lots of mom and dad and big brother!

He has a BLAST using those sweet feet to kick my right side!

Dr. Sweeney's SO good at getting smile shots!

Here are some Luke stats for Week 30:

Week Thirty: Baby puts on pounds

You are 30 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 28 weeks)
  • Baby measurements are 16 inches and weighs about 3 pounds.
  • Length is 40cm and your baby's weight is 1.4 kilograms.
  • The head is almost 3.5 inches (8cm) in diameter.
  • The feet are nearly 2.5 inches (6cm) long.
  • The wrinkled skin is becoming smoother now.
  • In boys, the testicles have moved down to the groin.
  • The baby controls its own body temperature.
30 weeksFor several months, the umbilical cord has been the baby's lifeline to the mother. Nourishment is transferred from the mothers blood, through the placenta, and into the umbilical cord to the fetus. Their bone marrow is now responsible for red cell production. These red blood cells will continue to service your child's body by transporting oxygen and removing the wastes. Your baby begins storing iron, calcium and phosphorus.

The fetus now weighs about 3 pounds (1.4kg). He or she will gain about half a pound a week until week 38. Baby is getting fatter and beginning to control its own body temperature. Baby continues to put on fat stores and the major weight gains will occur in the coming weeks. Eyebrows and eyelashes are fully developed, and hair on the head is getting thicker. Head and body are now proportioned like a newborn.

Hands are now fully formed and fingernails are growing. Can be seen on ultrasound scans grasping their other hand or feet, this is helping with nerve development. Eyelids are opening and closing, and will often make rapid eye movements - a sign they could be dreaming.

You may be starting to experience some swelling of your ankles and legs. If you have not experienced any swelling yet, it is highly probable that you will, as approximately 40 to 75 percent of women experience mild swelling related to pregnancy.

Your uterus is now about 4 inches (10cm) above your bellybutton. It may feel like you are running out of room as your uterus grows up under your ribs. However, your fetus, placenta and uterus will continue to get larger, you still have 10 weeks to go. The average weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds (11.5 to 16kg). About half of this weight is concentrated in the growth of the uterus, the placenta, the baby and in the volume of amniotic fluid. At this point, you should be gaining about a pound (500 grams) a week.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a Weekend!



What a weekend.

We went out to Mom's since the Marine Corps Birthday Ball was in Alexandria on Saturday and the drive back and forth is much easier from Mom's than from our house!

I feel sort of bad that I called it Mandatory Fun (though it is) because mandatory or not, it still was fun. I am always humbled to be in a room of men and women who willingly sacrifice their time and their very lives for my rights and my freedoms. Very proud to be part of such an honored tradition as 235 years of dedication and service from so many amazing people. No offense to ground Marines, but also thought it very cool that the Commandant's Message this year was delivered by an aviator! That's a first!

Anyway, I did have a nice time, though I admit I was stiff and sore for much of the night. Goes with the territory of being awake (or asleep, really) these days. It was more deja vu, of course. Just a year ago, I was in the very same room, also very pregnant, waiting for a much loved baby boy. This year was funny in that many comments (and of course, I know they were SO sweetly spoken and meant to be very complimentary...they were, they just made me laugh a little in my head!) were similar to this, "Wow--you look great!!! So different from last year!"

And, in defense of that statement, anyone who said it was right! Very different from last year. Last year, I looked like a swollen dog tick. Literally.

So, Sunday morning, as we were just about to eat breakfast with Mom, I discovered I was bleeding. I didn't worry (too much at first) because it wasn't much and I wasn't sure of what was going on. I told John (and he began to worry for both of us) and ate breakfast, figuring that if I was still bleeding and it seemed like more, I'd go to L&D and call my doctors.

And that's what happened. Here I was, a day shy of 30 weeks, and blood. In the last 85 weeks, I've been pregnant for 71 of them...and NO BLOOD! I know that many, many, many women have bleeding throughout the pregnancies and babies are just FINE, but....not me. I called Dr. Shonekan and she told me not to worry, just go see what was going on. I also called Dr. Sweeney, who essentially said the same things. Neither seemed concerned that it was something really bad, but BOTH were very interested to hear back. I know I say it all the time, but we just could NOT have better people taking care of us.

Considering that I have had the cell numbers of both of them for ages and JUST THEN used it, I felt pretty proud of myself for not being *too* bothersome to them--but I think we all agreed that fresh, bright red blood at 30 weeks was a cause for a call.

The hospital was great. We went straight to L&D (Fair Oaks has a NICU, so if worst came to worst, we'd at least be at a NICU) and they were not busy. Our nurse was lovely; we explained to her what was going on and where we have been in the last year and she was very understanding of why we were worried and so nerve-wracked. She constantly told us that it was going to be fine, Luke was moving around like nuts (yeah, I know!) and that we lucked out because the doctor on call was the one they all loved and called for consults. (John and I laughed, thanking God we didn't get the one that they DIDN'T love or call for consults! "Umm, yeah...sorry to tell you, the doctor on call today is the drunk none of us like very much....")

She was right, though, because the doctor was very kind and just as understanding of why we were panicked. They did an exam, and thankfully, couldn't find anything wrong with my cervix or Luke. Without getting graphic, essentially their theory was that I had some blood vessels external to my cervix rupture and that's where the blood was coming from. That could have happened from anything--me moving/stretching, Luke moving around...just about anything. Seeing as Luke kept moving (kept popping off the fetal monitor because he was SO wiggly!) and his heartrate was great and the exam showed no concerns with my cervix, after we ruled out any placental bleeding with a sonogram, I figured that theory was very plausible.

The wait for the ultrasound took over 3 hours. Finally we were called down, and I understood why. The girl (who was maybe 12, but still very thorough and kind) had been slammed with emergent situations. She spent an hour and 15 minutes with us (as I said, VERY thorough!) and if she did that with 2 patients before us, well...that's why it took so long. Poor thing, the patient right before us was a woman who was there for pain in early pregnancy and that little sono tech had to tell her that the pregnancy was ectopic and she needed to go straight to the OR. That's just not the kind of stuff that you do the ultrasound, see, tell and then say, "Next patient, please." Seeing as that was the problem with one of the patients before me, I was glad that our girl was as sweet and compassionate as she was. That poor woman needed it, I know.

Luke was fine. Wiggly, kicking me (we saw his legs all stretched out and foot flexed right up against my side and it was adorable) and no bleeding from anything. She said I had "Mega-cervix," which made me laugh, but fit right in line with Ft. Knox, and an hour and a half later, we were good to go. Not given bedrest completely--just taking it easy until we saw Dr. Sweeney (who I am sure will tell me to just take it easy and not push my limits) and coming back if we have contractions or anything else happens.

They DID find an enlarged left kidney on Luke, according to the impressions from the ultrasound, but in talking to Dr. Sweeney, he said he's not one bit concerned and he'll take a look for himself tomorrow. Though the tech was super sweet, and super thorough, John (and I) trust 'our' gals at Dr. Sweeney's quite a bit more, so we'll see the real scoop with them. The bottom line is that with Matthew's kidney situation, we are very well aware that one lives with only one functioning kidney ALL THE TIME, so even if there IS some situation with his kidney, we aren't worried. Fluid looked good and has, and Dr. Sweeney's office has been keeping up with every body part this little boy displays for the last 22 weeks. Luke is fine.

I am fine.

We are both fine.

Thank God.

Here are some pictures from the ball. Big difference from last year, agreed. But....I wouldn't trade my sweet Matthew hearing "From the halls of Montezuma..." on those big brass instruments for anything. He LOVED the music last year. Loved it. So did I.

Mommy and Daddy before we left...

"Belly" shot at 29w5d

This was AFTER John made a "funny" joke about how I sounded like a screechy wife. Yeah, really funny. Good thing I love him anyway.

John would NOT stop telling me to "Look" at him!

This picture reminds me of another picture we took last July...dressed up, pregnant and happy. Dressed up again. Pregnant again. Forever changed...but able to say happy as well. A different happy, but grateful for happy nonetheless.

One of my sweethearts....I just love, love, love this sweet little girl. She was on a 'date' with her daddy for the Ball!!!!
I just have to say this about that picture....when I was pregnant with Matthew, my kids were amazing. Each class...the one at the beginning of the pregnancy and the one at the end as well...this little sweetheart above would come up behind me, wrap her arms around me and pat my stomach and say, "Hello, baby!! We love you!!! We love you Matthew!!!" every day. Every day. Over the summer, we went to see a movie and HAD to stop at Cheesecake Factory since Matthew LOVED the Blackout cake. When Calie came over the other night to say hi to me, they had just served desert (which was a pretty yummy triple layer chocolate cake that was awfully reminiscent of the Blackout cake) and I dropped my fork down to give her a big hug. We talked a few minutes and I asked what she thought of the cake. She said it was yummy, and then she melted my heart as she said, "I bet you loved it because I know your babies LOVE cake!"

Yes, my babies love cake....and I love that she knows that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

29 Weeks!

Well....halfway through 29 weeks and I'm posting. It's been busy! Mondays are my appointments, and then straight from my appointment, I go to my photography class, so I don't have time to post. Yesterday was a busy day running errands (I got 3 boxes of Puff's w/Lotion, a bottle of Febreeze and two bottles of Dawn dish detergent for $1.32!!!!! LOVE coupons!!!) and I am praying I'm just reacting to all the dust in the house from John finishing the basement versus getting a cold. I just didn't feel super yesterday. A little better today.


Luke is THREE pounds!!! He's moved from the 51st%tile to 52nd%tile to now 54th%tile!!! That's certainly not like his brother, who just went down in the percentile charts as he grew. Of course, I've said it before, he was a perfectly respectable and healthy weight (and CERTAINLY length!) at birth, and just a week before, had been measured in the 12th%tile, so I'm not banking too much on those numbers other than Luke's doing well and measuring ahead a bit makes me feel good about delivering at 38 weeks. Which is less than 9 weeks from now!!!! Dr. Sweeney said depending on how we're doing, we may look at 38 1/2 to make Drs. Polko and Shonekan feel a bit better, but honestly, as long as he keeps growing as he is, and breathing and such as he is, I like 38. We'll start seeing Dr. Sweeney every week now, and while I feel this may be a tad bit overkill, I'm not willing to give up the peace and assurance I get from knowing he's breathing, hiccuping, cord's not endangering him, surprises won't (hopefully) pop up and that he's doing ok. I think my favorite part of this last visit was Luke's eyes open!!!!!! John's was probably the focus on all his boy equipment (which looks fine, I guess!) but I loved knowing that he's in there checking stuff out. Sort of. He was VERY busy--to the point that Dr. Sweeney said we needed to get him out of some crazy inverted-U shape position he'd put himself in to see him better and I had to turn from side to side every 30 seconds for about 5 minutes. Luke does not like going side to side, so that was good to get him in better position! He was CRAZY busy, though, and I loved it!

I am playing the You Are My Sunshine plush for Luke every morning and every night. It's hard for me, but he seems to like it and I'm going to look for another one or two things I can play repetitively (he hears lots of talking and singing, but varied...I want two or three of the same little tunes) for him to see what he thinks of them after he's born.

I've picked up a few pounds, I guess--between 114 and 116 this week, so maybe about 14-16 total gain so far. No swelling yet, thank God, and I'm really keeping focused on the fluids in hopes that I don't swell this time. Rings still go over knuckles, so that's good! Sleeping is still hit and miss, though my allergies were bothering me the other night and I took a Zyrtec and slept STRAIGHT from 1:30 am to 5:55 am!!! That's the most sleep in one block I've gotten in probably a good 18 months!!!!!! I took one again last night, and no such luck, so maybe it's just that my body was so run-down. The third trimester fatigue is really setting in, so just taking sleep where I get it! I had no doubt I'd pass my glucose test (saw Dr. Polko last Thursday) but didn't think I'd still be anemic. Still. Even though I eat tons of iron-rich stuff AND take an iron supplement. She said add another one. I must grow vampires. Actually, anemia (and hard-core anemia at that) runs in my family...probably more genetic than anything.

The Marine Corps Ball is this weekend. Super fun. Super mandatory fun, that is. I'm wearing the dress I bought after Matthew died to wear to John's award ceremony because the front is REALLY floofy (which is why it was PERFECT for after a c-section and a good 25 extra pounds!) and I just do not want to look like a big Macy's Day Balloon again this year. I looked like a black velvet hot air balloon last year with Matthew (16 days from my due date and swollen like a tick!) and hope for no repeat this year!

I also cleaned out Matthew's nursery this weekend to get it ready for Luke. I wrote about it and haven't decided whether I'll post it. I want Luke to know where my head was, but frankly, don't need the judgement for my feelings, and I'm pretty sure I'll get it, even if it's never spoken aloud to me.

Then again, I've gotten pretty good about not caring. I've yet to come across "How to act/think/feel/behave/do/believe after your baby son shockingly dies" on Google, so unless anyone else has and can share with me, I'm pretty much over people feeling like they have 'the right' things for me to do and feel. I listen, I nod my head (or not), I bite my tongue and I wait until they are done.

And then I do and feel and believe what I want. I'm good with that.

Here are some pics of the Lukester:

Yes, Daddy...still a boy!

That's not a paci, but sure looks like one!

Starting to open eyes!

Little bit more open! (Affectionately known as The Stink Eye in our family!)

I SEE YOU!!!!!

Here's how he's developing:

Week Twenty Nine: Movement is more forceful

You are 29 weeks pregnant. (fetal age 27 weeks)
  • Your baby now weighs about 2 and a half pounds (1150gm)
  • and is about 15 inches (38.5cm) long from head to heel.
  • Brain is busy developing billions of neurons.
  • Baby's muscles and lungs are continuing to mature.
  • The fetus can taste and respond to pain.
  • The milk teeth have developed under the gums.
29 weeks kickingThe baby's head is growing bigger to accommodate the brain, which is busy developing billions of neurons. The eyes can move in their sockets. They may be able to follow a blinking light. As well as your baby's increasing sensitivity to changes in light, they may also be able to taste. Various studies show that your baby may indicate preferences or dislike for particular tastes at this stage.

Baby is also moving from side to side, but probably still is head up. In the next few weeks, they will move to the head down birthing position. At times you may feel as if baby is performing somersaults for an olympic gold medal. Baby may be performing fewer movements because living conditions in the womb are becoming more cramped. The baby is still doing a lot of kicking and stretching. Some of your baby's kicks and punches may even take your breath away.

Baby hears things better from the vibrations all around, and can now distinguish real sounds and voices. Do not forget to continue to 'teach' your baby in the womb by exposing them to music, literature, and simply talking to them. At this stage baby eyes are almost always blue and can distinguish bright sunlight or artificial light through the uterine wall.

At week twenty nine, your baby measures about 11 inches (28 cm) from crown to rump, or a total length of about 15 inches (38cm) from head to heel, and weighs about 2.5 pounds (1150gm).