Saturday, September 27, 2008

Babies Really are Miracles from Above

Last night, my friend, Amanda, called to check in.  Amanda and I met during our first semester of college.  We joined a dance company together, became floor-mates in a dorm, "brothers" in a co-ed Honors Fraternity, and also lived in the same house for two years.  We've known each other now for 14, that went fast!  

Unfortunately, she moved many states away from me five years ago.  I try not to make her feel too guilty about it when we you, Amanda!  Yes, the truth is I would rather her live close by, but I know she is doing great things at the Mayo Clinic and I am proud of her accomplishments.  Below is a picture of my college roommates at Amanda's wedding from a few years back (It was in a frame on my desk...I just grabbed the closest picture to scan in):  so, there's me, Gail, Amanda, and Joy. 

 Anyway, at the end of our conversation, Amanda hesitated and said, "I have something to tell you".  Through her tears, I could feel her empathy as she went on to say, "We're expecting and I didn't want to tell you...".  She is due in February, so she has been holding this in for awhile.  I was touched by her sensitivity and overjoyed for her!  I could picture her belly close in size to mine and immediately felt a unity, not a division.

One of my first questions was, "Have you had any ultrasounds?  Do you know if you are having a boy or a girl?".  But, honestly, I realize what I was really searching for was whether or not they knew if the baby looked healthy.  (I just realized that while she told me the sex of the baby, she may not be ready to share that information with everyone.)  But, I will tell you that everything seemed to look good and healthy.  (I can let out a sigh of relief...thank you, Lord)  Congratulations Amanda, Brian, and Big Brother Samuel!  

As I explained to her, and now to you....having two boys already--I know the joy and understand the miracle.  Through God's grace, I have no bitterness in seeing other women pregnant or seeing newborns.  In fact, to me, it's reassurance that pregnancies can go well and babies can be born healthy.  

See, I don't think I will ever look at a pregnancy with the same innocence I had before this diagnosis.  For now I know of 1001 reasons pregnancies can go all wrong and have heard too many stories of babies (whether in the womb or newly born) dying.  So now, I look at newborns in complete awe and realize what a miracle it is for them to be here.

Of course, I still have a deep sadness about our pregnancy.  It's easy to start thinking about what I will be missing in the process of mothering Lily.  I am heart broken when I think about picking out sweet little outfits, the early coos and smiles I will never see or hear, or watching her grow and play just as my two boys do (well, not exactly, I see dolls and coloring vs cars and constant wrestling : ) )  Yes, those are the thoughts that can easily turn on the waterworks.  

But, I have choice.  I can dwell on what I will be missing with her here.  Or, I can set my eyes on Heaven.  As you can imagine, that's easier said than done.  But, when those sad thoughts start flooding in, I force myself to remember there is nothing here on earth that can compare with the glory and riches in Heaven.  There is no safer or sweeter place for her to be.  There are no tears in Heaven, because there is no hurt or pain.  Lions will lay down with lambs.  And, our time here is but a grain of sand in comparison to all of eternity.

I also like to listen to the song written for Audrey Caroline:  I Will Carry You
Here are some of the words:    

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I'm brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finding Dr. Z

So, there's an analogy I remember that goes something like this:

Once upon a time (well, maybe not exactly like this) there were three men stranded in the middle of the ocean.  All they had to care for them was a life-raft and their great faith.  The three men fervently prayed and knew God would rescue them and bring them to shore safely.  

Within a day, a cruise ship spotted them!  The first man said, "Thank you, God", and willingly allowed himself to be rescued by the cruise ship staff.  But, the other two men did not want to limit God's power and continued to pray and wait for God's caring hand to bring them to shore.

Several days passed when a rescue helicopter spotted the two men drifting in the waves.  The second man said, "Thank you, Lord" and willingly allowed himself to be rescued by the helicopter.  But, again, the third man insisted His God was more powerful than that and would surely come to his rescue.  

Do you know what happened to that third man?...................He drowned!  And, when he got to heaven, he said to God, "I had faith in you and yet you didn't rescue me".  God answered, "I sent a cruise ship and a helicopter...what else did you want from me?".

I've often felt like the third guy over the past couple of months.  Particularly, when it came to selecting a doctor and a hospital for Lily's delivery.  I wanted a doctor with compassion and skill who would support us throughout the remainder of this pregnancy.  But, I also wanted a NICU with experienced and compassionate doctors/nurses caring for Lily.  It took patience, continued research, and talking with friends, but we have received a few names of pro-life doctors with very good recommendations associated with top delivery hospitals.  I was so focused on choosing just the right one...the very one God wanted to place us with.  Finally, the day we met with the MFM, I came to this conclusion....perhaps it doesn't matter which of these doctors we choose...aka whether it's the cruise ship or the helicopter.  The point is, they are coming from Him.

Side note:  On a particularly disappointing day, when it seemed like quite an obstacle to find a compassionate and skilled ob/gyn at a hospital with a strong NICU, I called the Cornerstone Crisis Pregnancy Center.  I wouldn't have thought of it on my own, but a friend said our situation would certainly qualify as a crisis pregnancy and thought the pregnancy center would surely have a doctor recommendation for us.  What a blessing!!!  The woman I spoke with was so empathetic.  She told me to sit back and relax, and she would find the doctor for us.  She explained how the pregnancy center had many pro-life contacts--nurses and doctors--at surrounding hospitals.  She called later that day, after speaking with their own Director of Doctors.  He agreed to personally take us on.  In addition to the doctor recommendation, the center sent me several reading materials (The Power of Powerless, I'll Hold You in Heaven, and Continuing a Pregnancy After an Adverse Diagnosis).  How awesome and reassuring! 

We haven't yet met with the doctor recommended from the Crisis Pregnancy Center, and I don't think we will need to...but, I wanted to tell you this because I wish I had known to call the local crisis pregnancy center.  I wish our doctor had recommended it with the initial diagnosis...I think it should be standard protocol!  And, so I tell you, so that you will be able to share it, in case someone you know of ever needs this special kind resource.     

Anyways...Shortly after speaking with the Crisis Pregnancy Center, we had the apt with the MFM (the one we absolutely loved).  During which time, we also learned about Dr. Z through two friends and he just so happens to occasionally work with our MFM.  We met with Dr. Z today and were immediately met with compassion.  He had heard about our situation through a friend and he knew we were looking into the possibility of organ donation.  I think what impressed me most was that he had taken time before our appointment to call the NICU at the hospital where we will be delivering and talked to them about an anencephalic diagnosis, including organ donation.  He was just as shocked as we were to hear about the Supreme Court ruling against it, but had information on tissue donation.  He had planned to call to get more information on that possibility, and we'll be able to talk about it at the next apt.  

So, it looks like we have a chosen a doctor and a hospital....and I will choose not to be the third guy stranded at sea, but rather say, "Thank you, God".

Our next steps will be to meet with the neonatalogists to develop a birth plan.  Craig will also start the process for meeting with funeral homes and looking at cemetaries or other funeral arrangements.  So, please pray for wisdom and strength in these upcoming decisions.        

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Pre-K

Justin started Pre-K today, so here are a couple of pictures.  Justin was ready and excited to go and so was Evan!  I was so proud of him for being so confident.  He walked 10 steps ahead of me all the way into the classroom.  He emptied his bag and just asked me to wait long enough to kiss me goodbye.  At that point, Evan saw all the kids playing with toys and started saying, "I wanna stay, I wanna stay"....louder and louder and louder.   : )