Archive | August, 2012

a great day

27 Aug

Today, my hope was renewed.  I praise God because even though I have struggled with my fears and worries, He has still been faithful to show me that He is alive and working in Angel’s life.  He has shown me that no matter how bleak the situation may seem, He can turn it all around and change the outcome.  What an awesome God we serve.

We met with the cardiologist right away this morning.  One of his techs took about 45 minutes taking pictures of Angel’s heart.  I could see from the screen that she was having just as much difficulty getting the pictures they wanted as they did last time.  I could also tell that she was working as hard as she could to get the pictures the Doctor would need to see.   It was a long 45 minutes.  I started thinking back to that first day in the specialists office when he told my mom and I that Angel’s condition was fatal.  I remembered exactly how panicked and heartbroken I felt on that day and I had trouble maintaining my composure.  Then, the tech asked me if I had other babies at home.  I told her no and then I couldn’t take it anymore.  A few rogue tears spilled out from my eyes.  I have no babies at home.  I only have one baby in heaven and this baby in my tummy now.  Towards the end of the echogram, the cardiologist came in and watched her take pictures.  He asked a few questions of the tech and had her take a few specific pictures.  A few minutes after she finished taking all her pictures, the Doctor met with us.  He told us that it was still very hard to get the pictures they needed, which I had already assumed.  With the pictures they had taken, he was still unable to tell us what was conclusively wrong with Angel’s heart, but he said that he is able to rule out any major life-threatening problems with Angel’s heart!  I was so shocked!  Last time, he had said that Angel had very low heart function.  Not today!  Today, he said that Angel’s heart function looked good and that if there was a problem it would not be fatal.  He said that it looked like there was a small hole between the two bottom chambers, but with the size of the hole, it might not even need to be operated on.  Wow!  He said that if Angel had no other health problems, we would not need to worry over this small hole in baby’s heart.  He said he didn’t think there was anything else he could tell us while Angel was in the womb and that unless our Doctor wanted us to meet with him again, there was no reason for him to take anymore pictures of Angel’s heart until after delivery.  I asked him about the c-section on October 4th.  I wanted to know if he thought Angel’s heart would make it until then.  He said there was no reason why Angel’s heart wouldn’t still be beating on that day.

We then went over to have our ultrasound with our specialist.  The tech showed us that Angel’s tummy was rising and falling.  She said that Angel was taking “practice breaths.”  I was stunned.  Angel is breathing?  She showed it to us several times and I know that my eyes were not deceiving me.  Angel is breathing!  I asked if this meant that Angel’s lungs were indeed forming and she said that these breaths that baby is taking are part of what helps to develop the lungs, so it is a very good sign to see Angel taking these breaths.  Again, I am amazed.  Everytime before we go into an ultrasound, I look up how much baby is supposed to be weighing.  At 32 weeks, Angel should weigh around 3 lbs 7 oz.  Today, at 32 weeks 3 days, Angel weighs 3 lbs 4 oz.  Oh wow.  This baby will not give up.  She showed us Angel was moving its tiny lips and we saw baby’s eyes blinking.  So sweet.  Angel’s hands were up by its face and looked snug as a bug and cuddled up.  We still couldn’t tell if Angel is a girl or a boy, but I no longer feel quite as panicked about this.  When the Doctor came in, he said something he has NEVER said before.  He said that there will be a neonatologist in the delivery room to examine Angel as soon as baby is born because he cannot say 100% that Angel’s condition will be as he has diagnosed.  He said that he is pretty sure, but not 100% and so the neonatologist will do an exam and if he is able to determine that Angel is going to be okay, then we will be able to make a decision at that time about whether or not we want to do anything to help Angel live.  EVERYTIME we have met with this Doctor, he is very kind, but he basically tells us there is no hope, your  baby will die.  Today, he told us that his diagnosis may not be 100% correct!  I was overjoyed.  Angel is still breech and so things will continue as planned.  We will meet with the specialist once more in four weeks and then we will see him again for a c-section on October 4th.

I pray that I will continue to carry with me how I feel today.  I know that there will still be times that I am afraid of what October 4th will bring, but I pray that I will continue to praise Him through it all.  I thank God that He has not forgotten Angel and He never will.

What a great day.

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two scenarios

24 Aug

As of right now, Angel is going to be born on October 4th.  I imagine this day going one of two ways.

I first imagine that Angel will surprise everyone.  All these months, while the Doctors have all been telling us that Angel will die shortly after birth, I have been holding out hope for a different scenario.  My greatest hope is that Angel will prove them all wrong.  I imagine that shortly after Angel is born, a whole team of Doctors and nurses will begin a short examination of Angel, so that they can put Angel in my arms for the small amount of time they expect us to have.  But, instead of them finding things to be exactly as they thought, they will not be able to find anything wrong with Angel.  Angel will be a crying, healthy baby.  The crying alone will shock them since they are not expecting Angel’s lungs to develop.  Upon closer examination, they will not be able to find anything wrong with our baby.  They will be whispering amongst themselves, while I will be anxiously awaiting them to tell me what is wrong.  Their whispers will make me wonder if things are worse than what they originally thought.  After a few minutes, that will seem like hours, one of the Doctors will turn to me and tell me that Angel is completely healthy and they do not know how to explain it.  A nurse will come put Angel in my arms as I tell them all that I can explain it.  God healed Angel.  Angel is a miracle.  It will turn what potentially would have been the worst day of my life into the happiest day of my life.  I will spend the next couple hours holding Angel, kissing Angel, singing to Angel, introducing Angel to grandparents and maybe even letting someone besides me hold Angel.  Well, they might have to pry the baby from me, but I will try to share.  I am sure Arturo will be the first one to win that battle, followed closely by my mom.  But, I will also be anxious for the next few hours, wondering if I can fully trust this miracle, wondering if there truly is nothing wrong.  I will probably spend many years wondering if Angel will really be okay and forget to completely trust in Jesus to take care of Angel.   I will have to fight these feelings of uneasiness probably for the rest of my life.

I have known all this time that Angel is a fighter.  The Doctor told me I probably wouldn’t feel Angel move.  I am constantly feeling Angel move.  Sometimes, Angel’s movements are rhythmic, like baby is dancing in there or something fun.  This makes me think that Angel is filled with a joy that I cannot completely comprehend.

Now let me be completely real about how I expect to handle scenario number two.  I imagine that all my worst fears will be realized on October 4th.  I fear that Angel will not even make it out of the womb alive and that when I am finally able to hold my baby, Angel will already be dead.  I also worry that if Angel is still alive, I will only get a few moments and that Angel will die in my arms.  I am not sure which situation would be worse, but I imagine my reaction to either situation to be about the same.  I expect to be a complete hysterical wreck.  I imagine myself to lose all the composure that I have held onto during these months of carrying Angel in my womb.  For the past few months, while I have managed to smile and laugh and still enjoy life, I cannot figure out how I will ever be able to do any of these things again.  All the strength that people see in me now will be gone forever.  If I lose Angel, I will most likely lose my mind.  I cannot imagine how I can survive this.  I imagine all areas of my life to completely fall apart.  I expect to be angry, bitter.  I will have to constantly fight feelings of being completely alone.  I imagine that I will revert to my old self in many ways and I will push away everyone who loves me.

I wish my brain didn’t work like this.  I wish I didn’t expect to go crazy.  I guess I just don’t have very much faith in myself to be able to handle a tragedy of this magnitude.  Right now, people see strength in me and I guess that is because I still have hope.  I have been able to continue to function because Angel is still alive.  Sure, I have times where I feel lost, confused, and angry, but it doesn’t last for too long because I remember there is nothing to be sad about.  So, for now, I continue to hold out hope that October 4th will be the happiest day of my life.  But, if it’s not…well…of that I am terrified.

Arturo

15 Aug

My husband is such an inspiration to me.  His attitude and outlook on life are so encouraging and I wish to be more like him in this area.

My husband was an orphan.  His earliest memories are of living in the streets of Guatemala City and surviving on food that he found in trash cans.  He does not know how he got there or what happened to his family.  He was a toddler, 2 or 3 years old probably, when a man named Armando found him and brought him to the orphanage that he lived in until his American family adopted him.  The family he has had since coming to America in 2000 is the only family he has ever known and it is as though he was born into their family.

If this was my story, I would tell you that every day it haunts me to not know where I came from or what happened to my biological parents.  I would go crazy wondering if they died, if they abandoned me, if I got kidnapped, if they were still alive somewhere.  I would want to know if I had biological siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents.  Having no way of finding any of this information out would be enough to send me over the edge.

Not Arturo.  Recently, he and my aunt were having a conversation about his childhood and she brought up some of these same questions that I would have.  He said that he doesn’t wonder or worry about any of this.  He said that if his biological parents were still alive and he got the chance to sit down and visit with them, he wouldn’t ask them any questions about why or what happened.  He would just enjoy the time that he was able to spend with them.  He said this is because he is grateful for the life he has had and for his family, the only family he has ever had.

This is how he deals with all life’s situations.  He doesn’t worry or wonder what might happen, or what could have happened, or why something is happening as it is.  He just lives in the moment and cherishes all that he has.

Last night, I was crying and he told me, “Everything’s going to be okay.”  I know that he believes that and for him, it is probably true.  If things turn out as the Doctors expect, he will grieve our baby, but he will be okay.  While in my brain, all I can think is that things will never be okay again.  How can I survive this?  How will I not have a complete mental breakdown?

So, today I sent him a text asking these questions and he responded like this.

He said it will be okay because the baby is not ours, the baby is God’s.  And when God thinks it’s our time to have a baby, then it shall be.  He said he thinks God is trying to prepare us for something, and we will know what it is when the time is right.

Like I have said before, he is a man of few words and when he speaks, it is important.  I love him and I pray to be more like him in my attitudes, thoughts, words, actions.

more about faith

10 Aug

Healing takes faith.  I know I keep writing about faith, but I cannot think of a more important thing for me to be focused on than increasing my faith.  I praise God that He continues to speak to me about my faith.

I want to talk about another woman from the Bible, a woman whose faith amazes me.  Her story is told in more than one of the Gospels, but I am going to tell it as is told in the Gospel of Mark 5:25-34.

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians.  She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”  Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”  But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

Due to the Jewish law of the time, her affliction made life very difficult and lonely.  She was considered to be ceremonially and socially unclean.   She was divorced from her husband, could not live in her home, must not come into contact with another human being, and was not allowed to enter the synagogue for any worship services.  This had gone on for TWELVE YEARS.  I cannot imagine what this must have done to her mentally.   She had no one.  She was an outcast.  During the most difficult time in her life, she was shut out from all of society.  How did she keep her sanity?  How did she keep her faith?

She went to various Doctors and nothing helped.  She spent all her money on Doctors and never got any better.  In fact, it says that her condition grew worse.

Through all this, she had faith that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, she would be healed.  She knew that she was not even supposed to be in the crowd, yet alone touch another human being, so she tried to do this in secret.  She had enough faith that she knew that she didn’t even have to ask Jesus to heal her; she just simply had to reach out and touch Him in order to be healed.

Now, I shouldn’t say that ALL she had to do was touch Him.  I am sure that in a crowd of people, there were several people who touched Jesus that day and weren’t healed of whatever affliction they may have faced.  The difference with her is that she touched Him in faith.  She touched him believing for a miracle.  Many times, I “touch” Jesus.  I go to church on Sundays, I sing worship songs in my car, I read my Bible and I pray…but do I “touch” Him in faith?  Do I reach out to Him believing for a healing for a miracle?

Due to her faith, she was healed immediately upon touching Jesus’ robe.  According to the law, her touching Him would have been enough to consider Him to be unclean also.  But, because of the power of God, Jesus wasn’t made unclean, the woman was made whole.  The same is true for us.  When we lay our sins at Jesus’ feet, it doesn’t make Him a sinner, but it makes us clean.  Wow.  I think oftentimes, there is a misconception that we have to “clean up” to come to Jesus.  I know that at times in my life, I have felt this way.  Jesus knows all our sins, all our weaknesses.  We don’t have to try and hide them.  We only have to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet.

Why did Jesus acknowledge that someone had touched Him?  He could have continued walking and never mention what had happened.  Why did He ask who touched His clothes?   He knew who had touched His clothes.  Was it to embarrass the woman?  I don’t think so.  Have you ever had something miraculous happen in your life?  At the time, you are completely in awe of God’s power, but later, able to explain it away as something other than a miracle.  I think Jesus wanted her to know that she was healed miraculously because of her faith.  I think He wanted everyone in the crowd to know of the miracle and of this woman’s faith.  I think Jesus did it so that she would know WHY she was healed.  “Daughter, your faith has made you well,” this speaks not only of her touching Him, but of her reaching out in faith.

Yesterday, I met with my ob here in town.  My mom came with me and I was very glad because the Doctor kept us waiting for more than an hour.  I was getting very anxious and worried as I let my mind wander, wondering about Angel’s heart. When she put the Doppler on my stomach, I was expecting things to go the same as the last time.  I was expecting her to have difficulty finding Angel’s beating heart.  Instead, it was only a matter of seconds before we could hear Angel’s heart.  Angel’s heart was beating at 152 beats per minute.  What a beautiful sound.  What relief that sound brings.

Why should I go to the Doctor expecting things to go badly?  Instead, I should have faith that Angel will be healed.  Why should I be surprised when things go well?  I should have faith that they will always go well.  Instead, I let doubt and worry creep in and take over my mind.

Again I pray

Lord, increase my faith.  Help me to continue to reach out to You when situations seem impossible.  Help me to not just touch You, but to touch You in faith.

Sarah & Hagar

1 Aug

The story of Hagar is told in Genesis beginning at Chapter 16.  I would encourage you to read it and not just take my paraphrasing as Gospel.  She was the maidservant to Sarah, wife of Abraham.  Sarah is unable to bear children, so she gives Hagar to Abraham to mother his children.  As soon as Sarah finds out that Hagar is pregnant, it seems that she immediately regrets her decision and begins to treat Hagar harshly.  Hagar plans to flee, but an angel visits her and tells her to go back to Sarah and submit to her.  She listens to the angel and goes back to live with Abraham and Sarah.  Hagar gives birth to a son, Ishmael.  Years later, an angel visits Abraham and promises to make him the father of another son, through Sarah this time.  Sarah laughs at this because she is past child-bearing years and she doesn’t think it would be possible.  Sarah does indeed give birth to a son and she grows even more contemptuous towards Hagar and Ishmael.  She commands Abraham to send them away from the tribe.  Abraham sends them away into the desert with a small amount of bread and water.  The food and water doesn’t last them very long and Hagar begins to be concerned that she will have to watch her son die.  She hides him in a bush and they both begin to cry out to God.  An angel visits Hagar again and tells her not to be afraid.  In Genesis 21:19 it says, “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”

These are my thoughts on this story.

I think Sarah is a planner.  She knows what she wants to happen and she has a hard time waiting on God to deliver.  She loves God and serves Him, but has difficulty believing in Him for the impossible.  She makes decisions and doesn’t always consider how it will affect her emotionally.  She just wants to get things done in the fastest way possible.  Then, even when God sends an angel to promise her the impossible, she laughs and thinks that this is nonsense.  I see myself in Sarah in all these things and I pray daily for God to grow my faith.  I want to believe that God is the God of the impossible.  I want to learn to wait on God instead of taking matters into my own hands.  I want to ask Him to be submitted to His will and trust that in all things He has my best interest at heart.

What I see in Hagar that is particularly interesting to me is what happens to her in the desert.  She is so convinced that Ishmael is going to die.  She becomes panicked and believes that God has forsaken them.  Then, as she is about to give up hope, an angel visits her and tells her to have no fear.  The verse I mentioned before, Genesis 21:19 is the neatest part of the story to me.  It doesn’t say that God placed a well of water miraculously; it says that He opened her eyes to see a well of water!  Hagar was mourning her son instead of opening her eyes to what God had provided for them! When I become panicked and full of fear, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the amazing things right in front of me that God has provided.  When faced with difficulties, I let my mind go to the worst possible scenarios and cannot see anything besides that.  God has heard my cries.  There is a well nearby and I just have to open my eyes to see it!  He has not forgotten me and He never will!

We had another set of appointments this Monday.  It was another roller coaster day.

The morning started with an ultrasound.  Nothing had changed for better or for worse, but I was super encouraged when Angel’s heart was 151 beats per minute!  I thought for sure that my ob must have been mistaken that Angel’s heart was struggling!  Angel weighed 1 lb. 13 oz.  This is a little underweight for 28 weeks, but nothing too drastic.  The specialist came in after the ultrasound and he didn’t have any unexpected news for us, so I was very happy.  He told me that he knew that I might have tough days, days in which I blamed myself or questioned why this happened, but he said he wanted to remind me that there was nothing I did to cause this or could have done to prevent it.  I took much comfort in his words.  We scheduled a c-section for October 4th and we left his office.

We then met with a pediatric cardiologist.  They took over 100 pictures of Angel’s heart.  They were having much difficulty getting the pictures that they needed due to the lack of fluid in the womb, but I did note that Angel’s heart was only at 82 beats per minute.  Two different techs worked very vigorously to try and get good pictures for the Doctors to read.  When we met with the cardiologist, he did not have good news.  He was having a hard time making a conclusive diagnosis due to the lack of fluid.  He said that in some pictures he could see a particular problem, such as a hole or parallel arteries, and then in others he couldn’t see that same problem.  What he was certain of is that Angel has very low heart function.  I told him about our plan for a c-section on October 4th and he was unable to tell us if Angel’s heart would continue to beat until then or not.  I started crying.  I told him I wanted to hold my baby alive.  He said that he wanted to see us again in four weeks when we go back to see the specialist and he will maybe be able to tell us more conclusively what the problem is or he may tell us that we will need to do the c-section sooner.  He too was a very kind, compassionate man.  He got me tissue when I was crying and asked if there was anything else he could do for us.

We then went over to labor and delivery and met with another member of the palliative care team, a nurse who works on the ob floor.  She basically just wanted to give us a tour of the floor and explain to us what would happen when we came in for the c-section.  She showed us the wing we would be on; it is dedicated to high risk pregnancies.  She said that I will not have to move to the post-partum floor.  I can stay on ob the whole time that I am there.  There will be babies everywhere on the post-partum floor and that may be difficult.  She was very caring and took time to reassure us that everyone we would come in contact with would be very supportive and gentle.  She said that many of the nurses on the floor ask to be assigned to a case like ours because they feel they can make a true difference in someone’s life.  She showed us some tiny outfits that women from all over the country make and donate to them, so that we don’t have to buy anything.  The only thing about our visit with her that left me a little unsettled was the fridge she showed us.  She said that we could keep Angel with us for several hours after the baby has died.  She said that if we decided we wanted them to take Angel for awhile so we could sleep or something like that, they would put Angel in a fridge to keep the body temperature at the right level, and then bring Angel back to us wrapped in blankets when we were ready to see Angel again.  Then, she showed us the fridge and all I could wonder was whether or not there was a baby in there now.  It was very morbid and I have not been able to stop thinking about that fridge.  The nurse we had met with the last time came over to see us also.  She has been communicating with me by e-mail and I am starting to feel like she is a friend.  She asked what number grandchild this would be and I cried as I said it was the first for my parents and third for Arturo’s parents.  She hugged me and let me cry.  She told me that we are good parents.

As we left the clinic and hospital that day, I realized that I have another thing to be grateful for.  I have never been a person who cares whether or not my Doctor has good bedside manner.  I want a smart Doctor and if they are rude, I figure at least they got the job done as best as it could be done.  Well, every person we have come in contact with from Doctors down to receptionists has been so compassionate and made me feel as though they really care about us and the situation we are going through.  Now, I can’t imagine this would be an easy thing.  I can completely understand how medical personnel have to harden their hearts and now let a situation like this become personal for them.  So, to be surrounded by such a caring, supportive staff of people is really a blessing.

Right now, I am praying to have faith to believe God can do the impossible.  I do not want to simply believe that Angel will not live because that is what all the tests say.  I want to believe that God can do more than what the Doctors believe is possible.  I am praying that God will open my eyes to see the well that has been there all along!  I am praying that no matter what happens through this ordeal, that God would be glorified and that He would grant me a peace that passes all understanding.  Some days I feel these things more than others.

 

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