Sunday, December 19, 2010
This weekend we went to see the Christmas show at our church, Twin Lakes Church. It was phenomenal! They did 10 productions of the show and from what I understnad, each one was packed out! (You should check out some clips of the show over the last couple of years on youtube...it is that good!) Anyhow, during the show, there was a rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and while listening to the song, one line of the lyrics struck me. It's a part that you would probably recognize..."O tidings of comfort and joy...comfort and joy...O tidings of comfort and joy."
I was struck by the words because if there were ever a year that I needed to hear "tidings of comfort and joy," it was this year. but I hadn't made any particular connection between our pain from losing Hope and the comfort and joy (which we so desperately needed) given in the birth of Jesus. Clearly, we have looked to God as our comfort, but I hadn't really thought of Christmas as a specific reminder of that. (Yes, it seems obvious, but somehow that's how these things work. )
This reminder was particularly needed, as Christmas is also the time of year that Hope was due to be born. So we've been reminded often of the loss of her life and our pain surrouding her loss, since, had we not lost her, we would have been having a new baby this Christmas.
So, just what were the tidings of comfort and joy? According to the lyrics, the tidings were: "Remember, Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day, to save us all from Satan's power when were were gone astray."
I'm glad these words were brought to my attention and I've had some time to think them through. For years to come, when I hear this song, I'll be reminded of this Christmas, of grieving Hope's loss during the Christmas of 2010, and of the reminder of tidings of comfort and joy.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
While we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Olivia is talking like crazy these days! She is saying so many funny things that I decided to start recording some of them just so I don't forget them. Here are some of our favorites...
- "Cutie pie" (referring to herself, of course!)
- "Come on" (while holding your hand and taking you where she wants you to go)
- "Oh my goodness!"
- "Oh boy."
- "One more time..." (with her index finger int he air)
- "I want more olives." (We're pretty sure this was her first four word sentence just a few days ago.)
- "Hey babe!" (This one came from a version of "She'll be coming 'round the mountain" from a Bert and Ernie record Olivia listens to at Miss Lorna's house. Yes, you read that right...they listen to records! Isn't that great!?)
- "Maybe so."
- "Happy Birthday-giving" (This was her version of "Happy Thanksgiving.")
Here are a few others I can't really put in a list format, but they're definitely worth recording:
1. We have good friends who live near us, the Bootz'. We drive by their house every day on the way to and from our house and often we talk about all of the people in their family. Olivia can say all their names...first and last: Amy Bootz, Josh Bootz, Eli Bootz, and Baby Brenden Bootz. Pretty cool.
2. About 3 weeks ago, Olivia was washing her hands and slipped and fell, causing her face to hit the faucet and giving her a pretty good cut just below her eye. It must have made quite the impression her as she is still talking about that boo-boo. It goes something like this: "Washing hands...boom!...waahh...boo-boo." It's truly story-telling at its finest.
3. Today we were driving to a get-together with some friends, and on the way, Juan and I were chatting away. Out of the blue, Olivia said, "Mommy, Daddy...no talking." What?!?
We love this little girl and she is surprising us every day with the things she does...and now even more, the things she says!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
When thinking about those words, I really resonated with their meaning, and I couldn't stop thinking about our experience of losing Baby Hope this year. I kept thinking of all the friends and family who have traveled this road with us, listening to us when we needed to "verbally process," supporting us during the hard times, bringing us meals, and just asking how we were even when you didn't know what to say. It was in all these ways and so many others that you shared our sorrow. And by sharing our sorrow, you have carried some of our burden. I don't know how we could have done this without you. Our gratefulness goes beyond our words, as I don't think our words could adequately express what you have meant to us on this journey.
Thank you for sharing our sorrow. Your kindness will always be remembered.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
She has also fallen completely head over heels in love...with 2 stuffed animals! She loves the book "Brown Bear" (I highly recommend the book, too!) and has named a large teddy bear that Juan gave me for a birthday years ago "Brown Bear." After reading the book about 1,000 times, she learned to say "Brown Bear" and in fact, the other day we were in Costco and they had giant stuffed bears. Like about 5 feet tall stuffed bears. Olivia saw them across the way and yelled out (in her tiny 18-month old yelling voice), "Brown Bear!!!" It was so stinkin' sweet.
The other stuffed animal she's fallen in love with is a stuffed Elmo, and she actually fell in love with Elmo (the character) before she even got the stuffed animal. About a week ago, Juan taught her to say Elmo, and it just stuck. Some days, it seems like every other word out of her mouth is "Elmo." Today, our friends brought by a stuffed Elmo and she was giddy with excitement. In fact, as I'm writing this, she's asleep in her crib...with Elmo by her side.
We continue to cherish every day we have with Olivia. She brings us such joy.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Today we buried your body at the Felton Cemetery. Only a small group of very close friends and family were there, as we had planned, and we shared a beautiful time together. Your Nini and Tu, Mommy's parents, sent the most beautiful flowers for your grave...they were pink and white and so fitting for a newborn baby girl. Ita and "Toto," Daddy's parents, brought three pink balloons and a beautiful pink rose bush. "Miss Lorna," Olivia's special friend and a dear friend to your mommy and daddy, brought a bouquet of white flowers. Gary Williams from church gave a very short talk, encouraging us in the comfort that God provides, and then Daddy and Toto lowered your casket into the ground. You were buried in the most beautiful baby casket I've ever seen...it was painted all white and it was just the right size for you. Even now as I'm writing this letter to you, tears are streaming down my face thinking about the day. It was so painful, but still beautiful, just like you were beautiful.
What I want you to know, Baby Hope, is that even though your life was very, very short, we loved you from the moment we knew about you. When we knew that you would most likely not live until your birth, and almost certainly not beyond pregnancy, we began to accept that all the love we would give to you would be through me carrying you in my tummy and through the words we could say to you before you were born. It seems like so little, but we gave you all the love we could.
I also want you to know that your Daddy and I are so glad that we had the opportunity to love you. Learning that you would not be born as a healthy baby was the most difficult thing we have ever experienced, and our hearts are still hurting. But we believe that we will see you again someday, and we know that it will not always hurt like it hurts now.
Yes, Baby Hope, today was a difficult day, much like the day you were born, only two short weeks ago, but on both of these days, God gave your Dad and me so much peace. On the day you were born, all day we awaited your arrival and I prayed all day that God would guide me and give us strength for what we were about to go through. And when you arrived, it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful experiences we have ever had. And in a strange way, today was beautiful and peaceful, as well.
We love you baby Hope,
Mommy and Daddy
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Juan and I have had time this week to just be together as a couple and begin to process what we've been through these last 2 months. We know it could be a long road, but we are not alone on the journey.
It's hard to think about entering back into "normal life," but we're just taking it one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. We have been constantly reminded of God's goodness in the midst of our heartache, and can only believe that He will continue to provide what we need in the days ahead.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
It has been an incredibly painful day, but we are thankful for the love and support of so many family and friends.
Please continue to pray for me, Juan and Olivia as we continue this journey. Pray that the "father of mercies and the God of all comfort" will comfort us in this time.
"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O God, even as we put our hope in You." Psalm 33:22
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Alas, here are the details: last Thursday we got a call from the Genetic Counselor and they had received the results from the amniocentesis performed two weeks earlier. I was surprised they gave them to us over the phone, but nonetheless, Juan was at work, I was in my car parked at Mount Hermon, and we talked to Stephanie on a three-way call. She shared with us that they did find a chromosomal abnormality. It's called Trisomy 18, and it means that our baby has 3 copies of Chromosome 18, rather than the normal 2. It's a condition the doctors consider "not compatible with life." 98% of babies with Trisomy 18 do not survive pregnancy. Of the small number that are born, their lifespan is typically only seconds, minutes or hours.
We had an appointment on Friday, where we did an ultrasound and saw that the baby's heart was still beating. Dr. Taslimi also pointed out that the swelling has extended even more into her arms and legs. He appeared very sad as he let us know that our baby's swelling is so profound that medically, the doctors only expect her to live in utero for only a few more weeks at most.
Unbelievably, we spent most of our appointment with the genetic counselor talking about the whys and hows of gaining "closure" in a situation like ours. I was surprised yet grateful that the medical establishment placed so much emphasis on this. We have lots of ideas and some potential plans, but most of all, we now know the importance for our emotional health long-term of processing our grief for our baby.
So...that's the factual update, and here's the emotional one: we are so very saddened and also emotionally exhausted at this point in the journey. We have another appointment tomorrow with my regular obstetrician, and we'll probably start having weekly ultrasounds with her, but at this point the purpose of the ultrasounds is to look for signs of life. And unless science, medicine, and statistics are proven wrong in our case, one of these next few weeks, the doctor will look at us and say, "I'm so sorry."
It's safe to say we're "preparing for the worst" and in doing so, the waiting is really difficult. However, I've said it before and I'll say it again, but both Juan and I deeply believe that despite all the pain that we've experienced up to this point, and despite the pain that we know could be in our future, we believe that God can and will bring healing to our broken hearts. It won't be easy or pain-free by any means, but we do believe in healing.
One closing note: we just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have been so supportive and loving towards us in this process. We can't imagine going through this journey alone, and our hearts will forever be grateful for the love we have received from people like you. Thank you.
Friday, July 23, 2010
After the ultrasound tech spent what seemed like forever looking at the heart from about 20 different angles, the cardiologist came in and told us that the baby's heart is quite normal. She can't find any problems with the heart. We were relieved to hear this.
I don't remember exactly how she made the transition, but somehow the doctor transitioned the conversation from "your baby has a normal heart" to the subject of "fetal hydrops," which is the medical term for the swelling that has moved into the baby's body cavity. Although Dr. Taslimi had not actually used the term hydrops with us last week, I was suspicious that what he called "swelling" is also known as hydrops. I have read about hydrops but since I wasn't sure that our baby has hydrops, I didn't want to jump to conclusions and cause unnecessary stress for any of us.
So when this doctor mentioned hydrops, and in fact, said that our baby has "profound hydrops," it was overwhelming for us. For Juan this was new information and for me this confirmed my suspicions, but for both of us it was heartbreaking. After mentioning the hydrops, the doctor wanted to make it clear that we understood that babies just don't survive hydrops. It could be caused by many things (infections, anemia, chromosomal abnormalities, etc.), but generally it's not survived.
Our hearts are breaking, and the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing are difficult. All the doctors say, "We could see a miracle," but you can see sadness behind their eyes. I wonder what it must be like to be in their shoes, to have seen people in this situation over and over again, and to have to talk to us when we are going through it for the very first time. We would love to have a miracle baby, but it just seems like the odds are against us at this point. And while we do believe that God could heal our baby, we also know that He doesn't have to.
And even though our hearts our breaking, we still have hope. We know that our hope lies beyond our current circumstances. We still believe that God has allowed us to be on this journey, and we believe that He will take care of us no matter where this road takes us.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Dr. Taslimi came in a few minutes later and told us that the swelling is still there and, in fact, it has now also gone into the body cavity, which means that there is swelling in and around the baby's organs. He did not come out and say anything too blatant, but everything he said indicated to both of us that this is pretty serious and not a good sign at all. He did say, "we can still hope for a miracle." I thought that was an interesting choice of words coming from a medical doctor, but I also inferred from the statement that a miracle is what it would take for the baby to do well (or maybe even survive?) under these circumstances. At this point, I had started crying, but Juan was there holding my hand and the doctor, ultrasound tech, and genetic counselor (who were all in the room with us) were very kind and supportive.
Next we transitioned to the conversation about the amniocentesis procedure. The doctor said that the inner sac still has not expanded to fuse with the outer sac, so the procedure is still a bit more complicated than normal, but he also did not see any benefit in waiting to do the procedure. They left Juan and me alone for a few minutes to discuss this, and we decided to go for it. We had discussed the benefits of the procedure at length during the previous week and believed that the results could provide information that will help us in the pregnancy, delivery/birth, and early days of life for this baby, so we thought it would be best to go forward with the test.
The procedure went fine - it only lasted about a minute, and it did involve a little bit of pain, but mostly it was a very unusual sensation. I know that Dr. Taslimi is a very experienced doctor and I felt very comfortable with him performing the procedure. We won't get the results for 2 more weeks (as long as everything goes well with the cells growing more cells), and we already have an appointment scheduled on July 30 for another ultrasound and checkup and to discuss the results of the amniocentesis. (We also have an appointment on July 23 for a fetal echocardiogram.)
This was easily the most difficult appointment we have had in this process. It seems like hope is rapidly decreasing. Statistically, there is very little chance that the swelling will go down at this point, and there is also a very good chance that the baby won't survive the pregnancy.
We have had a pretty good weekend since the appointment. I am supposed to lay low for 2 days following the amnio procedure, so Juan has been taking good care of me AND Olivia. I've got lots of rest and a few "sitting down" things done around the house. Friday was a tough day emotionally, but slowly we are starting to feel a sense of peace again as we once again are reminded that God will take care of us and provide what we need, no matter what happens with this baby.
Oh...one more thing! I forgot to mention that we did ask Dr. Taslimi if he could tell the gender of the baby, and he said (close your eyes if you don't want to know...) it's a girl! It's exciting to know that it's a girl, and soon we are going to choose a name. We'll definitely post the name on the blog when we decide. Any suggestions???
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
And speaking of fun, our family has been having LOTS of fun lately. It's summer at Mount Hermon which means lots of things: Juan BBQs at the Family Camp BBQ most Sunday nights (for about 600 people!), Olivia and I go to "parent and baby" swimming lessons 2-3 dyas a week, and we have a "Family Group" of summer staff who we get to hang out with once a week. Generally there are just people just about everywhere we go, and we are definitely staying busy and having lots of fun!
Here are some recent photos of Olivia having fun at home this morning:
Thursday, July 1, 2010
So...we wait again. While I'm confident that this is a good decision, I am a bit frustrated that it came about in this way. But I trust that there must be a reason. I'm trusting that God is in control, and whatever the outcome, He will provide what we need to continue on.
Thanks for your support and prayers. Our new amnio date is July 16, and in the meantime we have an appointment with Dr. Lawson, our ob/gyn. Pray for peace for us and for healing for the baby.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We are a bit nervous about the procedure, but also excited about finding out more about what is happening with our baby. One of the interesting things about amniocentesis is that we will be able to find out the gender of the baby - and it's 100% accurate (as opposed to an ultrasound...where there is always a small element of human error possible)! It's funny because with our last pregnancy we weren't even sure if we wanted to find out the gender, but this time around we can't wait to find out! Of course the circumstances are a bit different, and we want to know as much as we can about this baby.
If you'd like to pray for us, you can pray for Dr. Taslimi as he performs the procedure and for us as we learn more about what is happening with our baby. We won't receive any results for about 2 weeks, so the next few weeks will be a time of simply waiting.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
After experiencing the escalation from receptionist to medical assistant to nurse to doctor to "come in right now," I was a wreck. I called our family friend Sonya, who came over in 5 minutes to care for Olivia, and by the time she showed up at the door I was sobbing.
Juan met me at Dr. Lawson's office and was very stable and reassuring to me. We waited for about 15 minutes or so in the lobby, went back into a room where we waited a bit more, and finally went into the ultrasound room and waited some more. Finally Dr. Lawson arrived and promptly did the ultrasound. The baby is growing and moving and the heart is beating!
The swelling is still present, but the growth, movement and heartbeat were good news! Dr. Lawson was very assuring and helpful, offering to see me at any time if I just felt nervous or had questions. She was also very careful to, in a very kind way, remind us of the seriousness of the diagnosis and some of the possible outcomes. She is a wonderful doctor.
At this point, our next step is the Amniocentesis scheduled on July 1. My mom is flying out to be with me and to help care for Olivia as I am supposed to take it easy for a couple of days afterward. We won't get the results from the Amnio for another 2 weeks as the procedure involves growing cells to be tested! It will be an interesting 2 weeks while we wait for the results.
That's our "little bitty" update on our "little bitty" baby. Thanks again for all the love and support! I'll try to keep posting on here as we get more news and information.
Monday, June 14, 2010
At this point, we are simply waiting. We have a test planned for July 1, but nothing scheduled-not even a routine appointment-until then. So we're just waiting...on a daily basis. We are not in the thick of doctor's visits like we were two weeks ago, so life feels pretty normal, but we also know things could change at any time.
We'd appreciate your prayers, and we'll continue to keep you posted if there's anything to update.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Our due date is December 20, 2010 (talk about a fun Christmas, huh?), and Juan and I are both ecstatic about the news. Olivia is excited, too. In honor of the occasion, she learned how to say the word "baby" (or her own version thereof). Now I won't go so far as to say that she gets the concept of a baby being in Mommy's tummy, but when she sees a baby, whether in person, in a photo, or one of her baby dolls, she says, "Ba-bay" or "Ba-bo" (depending on the day).
So why do we need your prayers? Last Wednesday, I had a routine appointment with my ob/gyn. Everything seemed to be going fine, and the doctor pulled out the doppler machine to listen for the baby's heartbeat. We didn't hear it right away, and she said, "You know, it's like searching for a needle in a haystack. Why don't we do a quick ultrasound?" So we made our way into the ultrasound room, and as soon as the picture of the baby went up on the monitor, I saw the heartbeat. Whew. Dr. Lawson then said, "This is a very cute stage." And she was right...you could clearly see the shape of the baby's body and head, and little arms that wiggled around. She was quiet for a while, taking measurements and such, which was no surprise to me, but then she turned off the machine and very calmly said to me, "Shelly, I see something that is of concern to me and I'd like to refer you to a specialist for him to give us his opinion. I noticed some swelling around the body of the baby, and I think it could be what is called a cystic hygroma."
The next day we went to see the specialist and he confirmed that the baby does indeed have a cycstic hygroma, which is a fluid-filled cyst located behind the neck. A person can develop a cystic hygroma at any point in her life, but when it is diagnosed prenatally, it is a serious threat to the baby's well-being. While it is possible that the hygroma could resolve itself on its own and we could deliver a completely healthy baby, it's also possible that there could be a chromosomal abnormality or that the baby might not survive.
As you can imagine, this has been a very tough few days for us. We've felt a broad range of emotions, but we've also felt very loved and supported by our family as well our friends, many in our community at Mount Hermon.
In just this short time, we've come to believe that no matter what the outcome is, God has allowed these things to happen in our lives for a reason. We also believe that God will give us whatever it is we need in any situation...be it support, healing, wisdom, comfort, etc...
We'd certainly appreciate your prayers. We're simultaneously praying for the baby's healing AND to learn and grow from this experience, no matter what the ending.
I'll close with a passage from the Psalms that I remembered tonight. I read it to Juan, and we were both very touched by it. It represents what we believe about our baby, no matter how this story ends.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Sunday, May 30, 2010
At 15 months, Olivia...
...says "mama" and "dada" and clearly associates them with Mom and Dad.
...runs (and runs fast!) when she is excited. In fact, she has very little fear.
...climbs on just about anything.
...says lots of words that start with B..."buh" for dog (?), ball, bow, bye...
...loves to sit in her rocking chair.
...says "uh-oh" over and over again.
...points to her bellybutton, her nose, her ears, her eyes, her mouth, her hands and her feet.
...smiles on command (with a completely goofy smile).
...has 6 teeth - 4 on top and 2 on the bottom. They came in late (13 months) but they are big!
...loves to drink from a "real" cup.
...goes to bed around 7:30-8:00 every night and gets up around 7:00 am.
...gives hugs and kisses.
...likes to hug other kids.
...says "bay-bayh" when we point to her baby pictures.
...loves shoes and socks. She loves to put hers on loves to bring ours to us and to help us put ours on.
...loves computers, cell phones and any other gadgets. She'll be able to fully operate the cell phone any day now!
...knows what to do when Dad says, "Knuckle me!" (makes a fist and bumps fists with Dad)