Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh the Frustration

**Warning** This post may have too much detail for men or women that think breastfeeding is not natural.

Breastfeeding seems like such a great idea when you're still pregnant. I was excited to do it. I know how hard everyone says that it is in the beginning but I was up for the challenge. I went into the hospital with a breastfeeding class under my belt and quite a bit of reading. About 25 minutes after Case was born we started breastfeeding. He took to the breast like a champ. It was great! I thought it was going to be easy because he was so good at it. Turns out he was a little TOO good at it. After the first day he became pretty frustrated with me. My milk hadn't come in yet and he was hungry. This colostrum wasn't cutting it for him. Frustration set in pretty quickly as I realized that I was starving my son. There is nothing more difficult than letting him suck and suck until your nipples are cracked and bleeding only to pull him off and hear him scream in hunger. I was an emotional wreck when it came to breastfeeding at this point. Talk about a roller coaster...I went from "this is easy!" to "why am I broken?" in about 12 hours.

I didn't want to quit and I didn't want to have to give him formula so we called in lactation. We met with Karla several times before I left the hospital. All of the meetings ended with an unhappy little boy and some VERY sore nipples. I didn't understand why this wasn't working out. Throughout my pregnancy my breasts would leak off and on and everyone confirmed that this was a very good sign that I would be able to breastfeed but days continued to go by and Case continued to be hungry. I tried to avoid even giving him a pacifier while there because I didn't want the whole "nipple confusion" thing to occur. The nurses that watched him the first night practically begged me to give him a pacifier. They said he is one of those babies that really needs to suck on something. I didn't give in until Marlena and Karla said it was ok (my apologies to the nurses he had the first night...I guess I should have backed down). Nothing seemed to interfere with his ability to latch on but he was still hungry. I was doing everything I could to get my supply to come in...eating oatmeal at every meal, pumping after every feeding, feeding constantly, and crying (oh wait that may not have helped anything). Nothing worked. My OB, the nurses, and Karla all told me that with the long labor and the C-Section my milk would be delayed. We were released from the hospital on a Tuesday and Karla was confident from seeing my breasts change over the course of my stay that my milk would be in by the weekend. I was worried because he had gone from 7 pounds 11 ounces to 6 pounds 15 ounces by the time we left the hospital. Karla sent us home with some soy formula "just in case".

The weekend came and went and my milk was still a no show. It didn't come in or maybe it did but there just wasn't much to come. I never felt that surge of milk or that tingling when it arrived. My breasts never felt firm or full. Case continued to be frustrated so we gave in and gave him formula a couple times each day. When we saw how much that relieved him we began giving him some at each feeding. I continued to breastfeed first and then chase it with a bottle of formula. He was a much happier little boy with that food. It's amazing what not starving your child will do for him. My breast just continued to get more sore and the milk just never came.

I went back to the hospital about a week after my release so that I could meet with another lactation consultant. She hooked me up with an evil contraption called a supplemental milk something or other. I guess if it works for you it's not evil but I found it to be a real pain in the but. It is basically an IV that runs to your breast so that the baby is getting breastmilk and formula at the same time. You hang the formula above your breast, hooked to your shirt or something, then a small tube runs from the formula to the nipple. When you latch your baby on they latch to your breast but the tube is in there as well so they get both your milk and the formula at the same time, therefore leaving them less frustrated. He nursed for about an hour and a half that day and left satisfied. I tried that contraption for a couple of days but it is just not easy to use and I had a really hard time getting him to latch with the tubing.

By this time we had our first pediatrician appointment and Case had already started to gain weight...thanks to the formula. He was up to 7 pounds 10 ounces, almost his birth weight. That was a good sign for him but a bad sign for my breastfeeding...it clearly wasn't working. We also found out at this appointment that the pediatrician preferred that we use Enfamil or Similac over soy formula. He said soy wasn't necessary and Enfamil Lipil and Similac are more like breastmilk than soy formula. We switched to Enfamily Lipil at that point and that's what we've been using ever since.

I still wasn't ready to give up on the breastfeeding completely though. Per my OB's advice I started taking Fenegreek (4 pills 3 times per day) and still ate oatmeal at least once per day. I was breastfeeding, then bottle feeding, then pumping at almost every feeding. It was very difficult emotionally and physically to keep this up since he was eating about every 2 to 3 hours. I felt like all I was doing was feeding him. I was still hopeful that maybe it would work and I will say that over time my milk supply did increase but it was never near enough to satisfy Case. I got to where I could pump about 2 ounces at a time and he was eating at least 3 but closer to 4 ounces usually. I went to a breastfeeding support group three times at the hospital. It is led by another lactation consultant so I figured maybe a third perspective would have another idea to help me out. At the first meeting I got there a little early. That was a good thing because I had a total meltdown when I explained my situation. I was glad no one else was there yet to see that. I was a mess. I put so much pressure on myself to make this work even though it clearly wasn't. This lactaction consultant had me breastfeed him as long as he would stay on. It is a 1.5 hour meeting and he was on the whole time. I asked her if she thought I would need to give him formula afterwards and she said no. He should get everything he needed from me. When he let go he immediately began screaming. She said to put him back on so I did. When he came off that time and was screaming still she told me to give him the formula. When the lactaction consultants are telling you to give them formula it's probably time to hang it up. I left there feeling like I had done everything I could and decided I knew I was never going to be able to satisfy him without the help of formula so I would just continue to breastfeed him some so that he got some of my nutrients but we really relyed on the formula for his necassary weight gain.

I immediately began to feel better emotionally. It had taken such a toll on me and I didn't even realize it until I let it go. Once I let go of the frustration I realized how much the pain bothered me. When I went back to the breastfeeding support group the second time I explained my symptoms. My nipples turn white after feeding him and while it does hurt while I'm feeding him the real pain doesn't set in until a few minutes later. It was bad enough I couldn't sleep through it. And when I got cold it was just as bad. They just throbbed and burned. I had looked this up and found these symptoms in line with a condition called Raynauds Disease. I was hoping it was something else but she looked it up and agreed that was most likely what it was. Her advice? "Don't let them get cold." She clearly forgets what winters in Indiana feel like. I have always found my nipples to be sensitive to cold weather but not like they were now. It was impossible to not let them get cold. I didn't have enough layers in my closet to keep them warm enough. So at this point, I knew my milk would never be enough and the pain was never going to go away.

I continued to breastfeed him or pump and bottle feed him the breastmilk until he was 7 weeks old. I also have some milk frozen that I had pumped so I plan to continue giving him some until it is gone. I pray that he got enough from me to stay healthy but I am sad that I didn't get to continue breastfeeding him longer. I don't miss the pain though and I can actual see him be completely satisfied when I bottle feed him now. It doesn't take and hour to feed him anymore and I don't have the tedious task of pumping afterwards. It is also nice because now Wayne can take some feedings and I don't even have to be here.

Letting go of breastfeeding was VERY difficult for me but in the end it was the best thing for Case and his health is what's important to me. It was definitely a blow to my pride. I thought breastfeeding would be something I was good at and I will try again if we have another child but I think I will go into it with a different attitude. For now Case is gaining weight really well. His doctor was so pleased with his weight gain at our last appointment. He was up to 9 pounds 9 ounces. I used the Wii to weigh him last week and it says he was up to 11 pounds 5 ounces. I can't believe how much he has filled out. He's actually growing into his hands and feet and getting some very cute baby fat rolls on his legs. We go back to the pediatrician next week so we'll see how much he has grown by then. At this point he is up to 5 ounces at each feeding. We are going through formula like crazy, an expense I was hoping not to have, but God continues to bless us with the means to provide this formula for him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going Home

The trip home from the hospital was an emotional one. It was so strange to me to leave the hospital actually with a baby in my arms. After one early miscarriage in February of 2007 and losing Joshua and Caleb in September of 2008, holding my living, breathing son somehow didn't feel like the norm. Since losing Joshua and Caleb I had a friend that lost her baby girl at about 24 weeks. I went to the hospital to see them and I held their beautiful little girl. That felt more normal to me than holding Case. I can't explain this feeling other than I must have just made Joshua and Caleb my norm in order to protect myself from further disappointment.

When we got home from the hospital we were very anxious to see how Tucker, our 11 year old basset hound that believes kids should be eaten and not heard, would do. We had sent some of Case's blankets home for him to smell like the dog whispers of the world tell you to do. I really don't think Tucker cared too much about Case. He was just glad we were home. Now his opinion is sure to change once Case gets to where he is mobile. We're hoping Tucker will know Case as part of our family by then and leave him alone. We'll see... he may be looking for a new home soon.

Tucker checking Case out, or trying to get Dad's attention

After the Tucker introductions, we took Case straight to the nursery. This is the nursery that belonged to our first baby, then to Joshua and Caleb, and now to Case, yet Case is the only one that ever made it to this room. It was such a blessing to hold our little boy in the nursery. We spent quite a bit of time snuggling with him in the chair. It just felt right for him to be there.

Wayne's first snuggle with Case in the nursery


My first snuggle with Case in the nursery

We again give all the glory to God for giving us the opportunity to bring one of His children home!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Case Benjamin Johnston's Birth Story

Case Benjamin Johnston
Born 10/31/09
7 pounds 11 ounces
21 inches long
Well life is significantly different from my last post on October 30, 2009. One difference...it has been over a month since I posted. I'm sorry it has taken so long to get the update on here but I never want to do just a little and finding time to do a lot is not easy right now.

Case is here and healthy. He was born on October 31, 2009. The birth didn't go quite as planned but in the end our goal was achieved. We brought a healthy little boy home so nothing else really matters.

The day I had to be admitted to the hospital was a very emotional one for me. There were a LOT of tears. It was just so bittersweet for me and I was still scared that something terrible could happen. Wayne and I headed to the hospital at 3:30 on 10/30/09 and I think I cried the entire way. When we got there the nurse was there to meet us. She knew just who we were. She showed us to our room and on the door was a sign welcoming us and the inside of the room had been decorated for us also. I lost it! We felt so incredibly special! Bobbi, the bereavement coordinator that gave Joshua and Caleb their first and only bath and someone who has been there for me throughout my grief journey, and my nurse Marlena had decorated the room. There was a balloon, streamers, ribbon, a quilt, a figurine, a card, and so much more. It was so neat!
The door to my room at the hospital



Wayne kept Facebook updated throughout the process. It made it so much fun because so many people followed our story and there were tons of comments...even at 2 in the morning. Everyone has been SO supportive! I loved getting the comment updates!!! The following is the transcript of our Facebook posts:
Beverly Johnston went to the doctor this morning. I'm dilated to almost 3 now. I will be admitted to the hospital at 4 this afternoon. They'll start the Cervidil and tomorrow, God willing, will end with a perfect little boy in my arms! I'm excited and nervous and I don't know what else at this point. Please continue praying for Case to get here safely. Thanks for ALL the love and support!!! We'll keep you all updated!
October 30 at 10:00am

Beverly Johnston In the hospital now. Bobbi and Marlena have decorated our room - it's SO cute. I love them! I'm hooked up to the monitors, and answering a million questions. The monitor says I'm having mild contractions every 2-3 minutes (barely feel 'em... must be early). And Case's heartbeat is strong and he's moving all about. God is GOOD!!
October 30 at 4:58pm

Beverly Johnston Doc just stopped in. Says I've got a good pattern with the contractions about 2-2.5 minutes apart and that Case could still come tonight. They'll check later to see if I need Cervidil, but it may not be necessary... more later.
October 30 at 6:13pm

Beverly Johnston Started Cervidil at about 7pm... everything still looks the same, same rate of contractions, same heartrate for Case... just laying back playing a game of Bid-Euchre with mom, dad, and Wayne.
October 30 at 8:24pm

Beverly Johnston Gonna try to get some sleep... g'night
October 30 at 10:12pm

Beverly Johnston Well, not too much to report... the contractions feel like they've gotten a little stronger and Case has stayed active. The bed is less than comfortable and the belts holding the monitors on are starting to feel tight. Ahhhhh... well, this is the 2am report. :)
October 31 at 2:02am

Beverly Johnston Good morning! Contractions are getting a little stronger. I got a little sleep, maybe an hour or so, and some little catnaps. Marlena should be here now, so I'm gonna go out and see if I can find her. :)
October 31 at 6:10am

Beverly Johnston Took a walk with Wayne, a few laps around the ward. Saw Mar and she's getting everything ready for me to start the Pitocin drip. Guess we're gonna get this show on the road!!
October 31 at 6:30am

Beverly Johnston Mar checked me and my cervix has softened so the Cervidil worked. I've dilated to an easy 2. Took a shower and now it's time to go to Pitocin Land. Praying I can handle the increased contractions. Thanks to everyone for following us through this!!!! Hopefully it won't be too long now (at least that's what I'm going to tell myself for now:-).
October 31 at 7:11am

Beverly Johnston The doc just broke my water. She said that it was clear and looked good. Yay!!
October 31 at 10:02am

Beverly Johnston Well I am in active labor two minutes apart and 8 out of 10 for pain. Each contraction is a step closer to our little boy.
October 31 at 11:42am

Beverly Johnston Just had an epidural. Feeling SOOOO much better now!! 75% effaced, dilated to a good 4, almost 5. Mar says he could be here sooner rather than later!! ("sooner" = 4 hours or so)
October 31 at 12:46pm

Beverly Johnston Kickin' up the Pitocin a bit as the epidural has a slight slowing effect. Watching her for the next couple hours to see the progress. Case seems to be cooperating just fine.
October 31 at 2:17pm

Beverly Johnston Haven't made any progress regarding dilation. Waiting a little while to see if anything starts happening. If 4pm comes along with no progress, we will have to do C-section. Prayers PLEASE!! Pray for God's will do be done in this!
October 31 at 3:33pm

Beverly Johnston I'm in scrubs, with the mask and cafeteria lady net on my head... we're going in. Gonna be a BABY here soon!!!
October 31 at 4:03pm

Beverly Johnston Case Benjamin Johnston... born @ 4:31pm. 21" long - 7 lbs. 11 oz. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!!! God is SOOO GOOD!!! Thank you, Lord! Thank you to all of you who kept up with us on here and ESPECIALLY for all of the prayers!
October 31 at 5:32pm

Beverly Johnston Today we meet with the "lactation specialist" and make sure that the car seat is fitted correctly to Case. We're scheduled to go home tomorrow. We're getting nervous about leaving the comfort and support we've found here at the hospital, yet very excited about getting all of us back into our home! Thanks to EVERYONE that visited - we love all of you and have been praising God everyday for all of our blessings.
November 2 at 9:57am

Beverly Johnston Starting to pack up the room. It was a little hard to say goodbye to Marlena this morning when she came by but I know that taking her or Bobbi home isn't an option. My doctor came in this morning and said I was good to go. We're waiting for the pediatrician to discharge Case and then one more visit with lactation and we're free to go. We still a little shocked that they are actually going to let us leave with him!
November 3 at 9:49am

Beverly Johnston is home with my amazing husband and my beautiful new son. We took him straight to the nursery. We've waited a long time to hold a baby in that nursery and I can't explain how right it feels! God has given me so much more than I deserve and I'm completely overwhelmed by His gifts!!
November 3 at 2:04pm
I labored for a long time and when it came down to it the doctor just didn't think it was worth putting Case or me at risk and that is when she recommended a C-Section. I really didn't want to go that route but I have complete trust in Dr. Fenoughty so I knew it was the best thing for me and for Case.

They typically only allow one person to be in the operating room with you but they made a special exception for my mom to join us. I was glad her and Wayne could both be there. Another great surprise was that Bobbi showed up just before I was to go into the OR. It was her birthday and she came to see me. I was very touched by this but even more special was that since she is an RN at the hospital they let her scrub in for the surgery too. I couldn't believe it. All the people that played such a huge role in the delivery of Joshua and Caleb were there with me when Case was born too. I had my doctor, Dr. Fenoughty, my nurse, Marlena, Bobbi, Wayne, and my mom. I can't explain the blessing that this was for me because I was really scared to go through it all alone. God certainly surrounded me with lots of support!

Mom and Wayne waiting outside the OR


Mom, Bobbi, and Wayne


Wayne and Marlena


I can't explain how scary it was to lay on that table with what must have been 15 people scurrying around preparing the room and me. My mom and Wayne had to wait in the hall until everything was prepped. I was glad to see them when they got in there. The C-Section went really quickly. It was about 15 minutes from the time they began to hearing Case's first cry. The feelings when I heard him for the first time are indescribable. Seeing him was even more special. I will NEVER forget the moment I first laid eyes on him. It was so surreal. I felt like I was watching all of this happen to someone else. He was so perfect and I couldn't believe he was here and he was mine. It was a just a very intense moment of relief and comfort. Wayne got to really see him for the first time and it was beautiful to watch Wayne bent over Case's warmer and they just starred at each other. Case was so wide-eyed and seemed to be thinking "hey I think I know you" as he looked at his daddy for the first time. They let Wayne bring him over to me once they were done checking him out and had him all bundled. Case and I just starred at each other. It was AMAZING!
Welcome to the world Case!


Headed to the warmer and for a check up



Daddy's first chance to hold Case


My first up close view of Case


Case and Dr. Fenoughty


Case's first kiss!

Wayne, Bobbi, and Case


Happy Birthday Bobbi and Case!!!


Case and his Marlena!


Our first snuggle!


My little pumpkin and me

I have so much more that I need to share, especially for all you moms out there that are embarking on your own pregnancy journey after a loss. My experience with Case has had its ups and downs, but the ups are so much higher than the downs. I love him more and more everyday. I'll post more details about life with Case later but let me just end with this... God is an amazing God and has given me more blessings than I can comprehend over the last 5 weeks!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Overwhelmed

I'm completely overwhelmed and I thought I needed to share it. This morning I found out that I will be admitted to the hospital at 4PM this afternoon to begin the induction so that we can bring Case into this world. I quickly posted on Facebook what the latest was and then I went to take a nap. When I woke up a couple hours later there were 17 comments on my post and 4 voicemails on my cell phone. I am totally overwhelmed by the love and support that God has surrounded us with. As I listened to the voicemails all I could do was fight the tears in my eyes. I am so blessed and I want the world to know it. God has given Wayne and I SO many gifts! I am just so grateful and completely unworthy! I don't know what else to say but thank you. Thank you for your love, suppport, encouragement, and especially your prayers! We are blessed beyond comprehension!

8:45 Appointment Update

This morning was little scary for me. I couldn't feel Case move right away this morning. It took A LOT of poking, proding, lectures from his father, juice drinking, and Pop-Tart eating, before he finally decided to wake up. It really scared me. We had an appointment at 8:45 this morning so I was anxious to make sure his heartbeat was normal since he was so slow to wake up. She checked and it was fine. I think we both just slept really well last night and he wasn't quite ready to stop.

She checked to see if I had dilated anymore and found that I was 3 on the outside of my cervix and 2 on the inside, or was it the other way around. I can't remember now. I had made some progress but not enough to wait until tomorrow to start the induction. She also saw some "bloody show" (forgive me if that is too much information but the ladies out there are going to know what I'm talking about). This was the first sign of that for me and since then I've had a little here and there.

She explained what will happen when I go in this afternoon. She said they will first watch the baby on the monitors for an hour to make sure he is strong enough for the induction. Then they will insert the cervidil tablets. This is the same way that I was induced when I had the boys but she said that was a much higher dose of cervidil. She said that it will most likely take a while for things to progress to active labor. She predicts Case will make his arrival around dinner time tomorrow. She told me she expected me not to go as quick as a second time mom but quicker than a first time mom. We'll find out exactly what that means as we see how everything plays out I guess.

More updates to come very soon :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

39 Week Update



Here we are. 39 weeks and 4 days. I can honestly say that I'm still in amazement that we've made it here. So many times I've worried that we would lose Case like we lost Joshua and Caleb. Once we got over the 21 week mark, I realized that we might actually get to bring Case home. The pregnancy has gone so much quicker since then. I have actually enjoyed being pregnant. In fact I LOVE it!

We are now seeing that the end of this pregnancy is near and have a date where our little Case will, God willing, be in our arms. This is the date when I will no longer have to remind myself that I'm a mom but I'll actually get to act the part as well. I've longed for this day. I long for this day to come for all the moms that are still struggling with being the mom to a baby they can't hold.

I saw the doctor on Monday. I apologize for just now getting the update out. She said I had dilated to "2ish" but not much else had happened. At this point she left everything up to us. She said we have made it far enough that she's comfortable inducing anytime. Wayne and I really would rather let things happen naturally but are also very aware of her advice to not go past our due date. I asked her if she would be willing to do an ultrasound and hook me up to the ETS (contraction machine) to just verify that everything is fine and at that point we would give Case until his due date to come out on his own. She, as she always is, was great about agreeing to do the ultrasound and ETS. He looked great on the ultrasound. Fluid was good and placenta looked to be in tact (this is where my biggest fear lies because it is what took Joshua and Caleb from us). Brandi, my ultrasound tech, also commented on Case's chubby cheeks and pudgy nose. This thrills me! I love chubby baby cheeks!!! Her weight estimate, which she said can go 6 to 8 ounces either way, was 7 pounds 13 ounces. It is hard for me to fathom that something that big is still living inside of me. The ETS showed Cases heartbeat to be great and didn't show any contractions. With all that good news we were comfortable giving Case a few more days to make his appearance on his own. Without an induction the labor should be easier and shorter. If he doesn't come on his own we are scheduled for October 31st. Yes, we know that is Halloween, but that has been Case's due date from the get go. That is when he reaches the milestone of completing his 40 week journey. That is when we aren't willing to wait anymore due to the risk of stillbirth increasing. We think this is the best decision for us and for Case and the doctor was totally on board with it.

Another great point to having him on Saturday is that Marlena, the nurse we had with Joshua and Caleb, will be working; however she already told us it didn't matter when he came, she would be there. I don't get the feeling that he is coming on his own so I'm thinking Saturday will be the day. I will go back to the doctor on Friday morning and she will see if she needs to start the prostaglandin. If I haven't progressed enough then I will be admitted to the hospital Friday night in preparation of Saturday's induction. I won't know until Friday morning if this is necessary though.

As we draw so close to the end of this pregnancy I ask that you would please continue to keep us in your prayers. Please pray for Case's safe arrival and that he will be perfectly healthy. We are so excited to meet this little blessing that has already brought so much joy to our lives. We will keep you posted on how things are going via Facebook and my blog.

Thank you again for ALL your love and support over the last year! I am so blessed to know that there are so many people out there that care about and love us!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

38 Week Update


I had my 38 week check up this afternoon. I haven't changed since last week. I'm still effaced 50% and dilated to 1 cm. The doctor said I have until Wednesday to have this baby and then the window for having him is closed until she returns from her trip on Sunday, Oct. 25th. She said she has already told the nurses at the hospital that if I come in while she is gone they're not to treat me :-) She said she'd be back by supper time on Sunday so anytime after that is fine. I think Wayne was a little disappointed that Case isn't coming this week (unless there are a lot of changes in the next couple of days).

Since I haven't dilated anymore she doesn't think inducing me is necessary. She thinks I'll make it until she gets back. I'm scheduled to see her again on Monday, Oct. 26 and she said at that appointment we'll need to schedule a date for an induction. She is on call next weekend and Marlena (MY nurse) works on the weekends so if I don't go on my own next week we may be looking at a Halloween induction. I would love to be surrounded by MY nurse and MY doctor when Case is born (I'm not sure they know that they belong to me but they do). She said she would only let me go past my due date if that is what I chose, at which point she would hook me up to the ETS (contraction machine) and do another ultrasound to check my fluid. She said she'd rather I not go past my due date though because the risk of stillbirth goes up after 40 weeks. I'm not looking to increase those odds so we're having this baby Halloween or before.

I felt a little wave of panic when I thought of carrying him for 2 more weeks. I don't want to risk losing him but I also want to make sure he is "done". I feel like at this point in the pregnancy there is a fine line and I'm not sure on which side of it I should be standing. I am just going to continue to pray that God will watch over Case and keep him growing healthy. My trust will continue to be in Him and although worry sometimes enters my mind, I will do my best to keep a "vertical" focus. I will continue to remind myself that my body, nor Case, nor my doctor are in control. Control belongs to God and I'm grateful it does.

With a Halloween due date I get a lot of comments. Some think it's fun that he's due on Halloween, others, usually those that don't celebrate Halloween, seem to cringe a bit and say something like "maybe he'll come before or after the 31st," to which I say, "I don't care when he is born as long as he is healthy." It is my opinion that Halloween is just another day on the calendar. So kids dress up and get candy...I'm not sure I understand the harm in that. Yes I know there are some that look at this as the "Devil's Holiday" but I think that is only if you chose to celebrate it that way. I can tell you that I've enjoyed Halloween since I was a child and never once have I found myself worshiping the devil on any of these occasions. I have found myself having lots of fun with friends and family and perhaps eaten WAY too much candy though. I think we have to keep things in perspective. It doesn't bother me that people don't celebrate Halloween. That is completely their choice and if something in their conscience tells them they shouldn't then its good that they follow that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

37 Week Update


Here's the 37 week scoop...
I saw the doctor again today to see if I had progressed any since last week (at that point I was just 25% effaced). I have made quite a bit of progress in one week. I have now effaced to 50% and I've dilated to 1. She said she could feel his head and she has very short hands so that means he has dropped. Now it still doesn't put a date on when Case will join us but I'm definitely getting closer. I asked her if I should be having contractions and she said I probably have had some to get dilated to 1 and if she hooked me up to the contraction machine again she'd probably see some but she didn't think it was weird that I hadn't felt them. She said I won't make it to 3 without knowing it though so I guess I will know whether anything else is happening based on whether I start feeling the contractions.

My fear at this point continues to be that all this could go down when my doctor is out of town (22nd-25th). I REALLY want her to be there!!! We talked about it again and she said that if I have dilated to 3 by Monday we would talk about inducing before she left because that would put me near that "Bishop" score of 7 or 8. The Bishop Score is figured based on effacement, dilation, and other scores. She said my dilating to a 3 could get me there. So there is a possibility Case will be here sooner than I thought. I was kind of thinking after the last appointment that we'd make it to the 31st. Now I'm not so sure. I'm ready whenever he is ready to come out healthy.

I did test positive for strep B, which means nothing more than I will have to have antibiotics when I go in to deliver. The concern without the antibiotic is that as babies pass through the birth canal they can develop meningitis if the mother is a carrier of the virus. 3 out of 5 women test positive for it and it's no big deal other than they'll be sure to give me the antibiotics at the hospital.

Mom was with me at this appointment again. I'm so glad she can go when Wayne can't! She thought to ask about the flu vaccine. The doctor said Wayne had to get both the seasonal and the H1N1 in order to protect Case. That's our only defense for him since he can't be vaccinated. Wayne has never had a flu shot, as he thinks he is invincible but for his baby Case he decided to comply. He went to Meijer first for his seasonal vaccine and then to CVS for the H1N1 mist. All in one day he's prepared...if you know Wayne this won't surprise you. He's like a boy scout! I haven't even gotten my H1N1 yet. I'll get mine on Monday because I can't get the mist since it is a live virus. I have to wait for the vaccination, which my doctor will have Friday. By Monday we should both be prepared!

Thank you for the continued prayers. We are definitely getting closer to bringing Case into this world but we know God is the One with the power. We will continue to trust in Him because only He knows what is best for Case and for us.

I'll see the doctor again on Monday so we'll see where we are at that point. More updates to come as I have news to share.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

He's My Son

I've mentioned it before but different music defines different points in my life. There are a lot of songs that define the loss of my twin boys Joshua and Caleb but I've recently come across another song. I don't think it was the first time I had heard it but I quickly had to catch my breath because it took me right back. It took me back to the time between when we found through ultrasound they had died but hadn't delivered them yet. I have to admit there was still that tiny spark of hope in the back of my mind that said, "what if they're wrong?" What if Joshua and Caleb are ok? God is a healer. He can raise the dead. All I wanted was to hear them cry when they were delivered the next day. I prayed. I prayed that they were wrong and this song takes me back to that night.

I went to search for a video to post that went with this song and I found it, but I found something else as well. It wasn't a YouTube video of just the song but it was a message. It was the song and how it pertained to Jesus. I was reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for me and for my sins. Someone put this song to a video from the eyes of Mary, watching her son die. I'm reminded of just how powerful our God is! I'm reminded of His love and how there is nothing He won't carry me through.

The song is He's My Son by Mark Shultz and here is the video:

Not in a Hurry

I can't figure it out. It seems like most people get to this point in a pregnancy and can't wait to have their baby. I'm still LOVING being pregnant. I still have my moments of worry but I know those aren't going to magically disappear after Case is born. I know there are just as many, if not many more, terrible things that can happen once he's here. On the outside, he isn't safe under my care at every second. Right now I still feel so good. I can only attribute that to God giving me the gift of an easy and comfortable pregnancy. Everyday I get to look down and see my belly, which oddly enough I love more today than when I'm not pregnant. I guess it's because there's a reason it's big right now and there's no excuse the other times. I get to feel Case move around inside of me. I can't even explain that feeling! It is quite possibly the most amazing thing I've ever felt. It has been fun to watch him change just in how he moves. Earlier in the pregnancy it felt different than it does now. Now it is almost like I can picture him moving inside me now. It is just such a fantastic feeling. I sometimes feel guilty that Wayne doesn't get to feel what I'm feeling, of course if you ask him he'd probably say he does because I constantly put his hand on my belly to feel him. Wayne's a good sport...he always plays along.

Tomorrow I will find out if I have made anymore progress. I'm anxious to see if my body is doing what it is supposed to do on its own. There are so many unknowns at this point. The controlling planner inside of me wants to have a date on the calendar that tells me what date Case will be born but my faith tells me I just need to trust God. I will be done working on Friday and I'm hoping there will be at least a few days to get the last minute things done before his arrival. Time will tell but I'm not in a hurry.

Monday, October 5, 2009

36 Week Update

As of tomorrow I will officially be 36 weeks pregnant. I had an appointment today and have lots of updates. The appointment started with being hooked up to the "contraction machine"(I can never remember if it is the ETS or EST machine so we'll go with "contraction machine"). Mom was with me at this appointment because Wayne couldn't be there. I haven't been hooked up to this machine since the day before we lost the boys and on the day I was hooked up to it they found Joshua's heartbeat briefly but never found Caleb's. They blamed it on them being so little and still moving around so much but little did we know at the time it was because Caleb had already died. So today I had an "almost meltdown" when they couldn't immediately find Case's heartbeat. It took her several tries before she located him. God was good though and she eventually found him. Of course I had to replace my heart into its correct cavity because it had crawled up into my throat at that point. He moved around a lot during this part. I'm not thinking he is a big fan of the invasion of his space. I wasn't have any contractions so everything looked great!

Next we had another ultrasound. She confirmed that he is in the head down position but he is still turning over onto his sides so he isn't facing my back permanently yet...he's just to busy to stay in one place still, which is fine with me because I LOVE feeling him move around. He was measuring 5lbs 11oz, which puts him right on track. She said my placenta looks great and that there are no spots where it was pulling away or anything. She showed me how it was connected all the way across. I was VERY happy to see that. She was unable to measure my cervix because his head was in the way but my fluid looked great. We could even see his diaphragm going up and down where he was "pracitcing" breathing. It was very cool!

The next appointment was with my doctor where she did the Strep B test. She explained that 2/3 of women are carriers of this and that it can cause menegitis in babies as they pass through the vagina during delivery. They tested to see if I am a carrier. If I am then I will have IV antibiotics during deilvery to protect Case. I won't know until my next apointment whether this will be necassary or not. She also did an exam to see if I have begun to progress at all. She said I'm about 25% effaced and that my cervix seems to have thinned out but that it is still closed. She said that's right where she expected me to be at this point. We most likely, looking at today's exam, won't have to be induced early. She thinks I might potentially make it to my due date. I hope Cases makes his enterance on his own because I think that is safer and she confirmed that. It will be a quicker delivery if she doesn't have to induce me. From now on I will see her every week and she will do an exam each time to see where I am. She agreed that stopping work on October 16th would be best because then I could take it easy that week to hopefully prevent active labor starting while she is out of town from the 19th to the 25th. I'm not wanting to do this without her being there so I'll do whatever it takes. I also got my flu shot while I was there today and will be getting the H1N1 as soon as they get it in, which should be in the next few weeks.

It was just another day full of God's blessings. I continue to be overwhelmed by His grace and love. I have enjoyed this pregnancy SO much and I know that can only be attributed to His comfort and peace surrounding me!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

99%

"Ninety-nine percent of babies born now survive without any major problems."

This is a quote from the week 35 description in the The Pregnancy Bible. While I did find this comforting, I still have that nagging feeling that they only survive if you find out something is wrong in time. With Joshua and Caleb we had no idea there was anything wrong until they had already died in utero. That is what scares me. I still find myself struggling with the fear that I could miss the signs or not realize I hadn't felt him move and it could be too late. Sure the statistics are good but if it's too late then it's too late. This is just one of those struggles that I will continue to pray about and I will turn to God for the comfort and peace that only He can give me. It's the comfort and peace that I'm not going to find in any book. I will continue to praise him even through my moments of worry because I have SO much to be grateful for!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Case Updates

So I've been a little off on the Case updates lately. We had an appointment today and another one two weeks ago. Two weeks ago we bombarded the doctor with questions because we knew Wayne probably wasn't going to be able to take anymore time off to go with me to the appointments. She was, as usual great! We found out that she will be out of town from October 22-25, with our due date being October 31st that made all of us a little nervous. She said she wouldn't miss this baby being born so she would induce me on the 19th or 20th. I was caught off guard by this and after thinking about it later had some questions about being induced. It scared me a little to mess with the natural process of things. At the same time though, I am not interested in having this baby without my doctor being there. She said she didn't want to miss this anymore than we wanted her to.

Everything looked great at that appointment and we even got to see our little guy in 3D. It was really cool to get an idea of what he will look like. My parents, my grandma, grandpa, and Poppy all went with us to see what technology has done to the baby industry. They were all amazed at what they saw. It was really neat to have them all there.

At that appointment he was still transverse, meaning his butt was under the left side of my rib cage, his head was under the right side of my rib cage and his feet were busy beating up on my bladder :-) He was measuring about a week ahead but his fluid and everything looked great.

Today I saw the doctor again. I had to go without Wayne and that made me a little nervous. I find comfort in him being there with me but understand that he has to be at work and appreciate the flexibility his boss has given him for all the other appointments (of which he let him go to a LOT). I shared my concerns about induction and she said she wouldn't induce me unless I had progressed some one my own. If I haven't then she thinks I'll be fine until she gets back. I guess we are in wait and see mode. She listened to his heartbeat and it sounded perfect. She thinks he has flipped so that he is no longer transverse but is now head down and facing my back with his little feet tucked in front of him. This explains some of the different movements I've been feeling but it also makes it much more difficult for us to pick up his heartbeat on our doppler. I told her there are some days where I worry because I haven't felt him much and other days where he moves quite a bit. She said that if he isn't moving enough to put my mind at ease then I need to come see her and she doesn't care if I'm in there every 5 minutes. I LOVE HER!!! She is very understanding of my fears.

I will go back to see her again in two weeks. At that appointment I will be hooked up to the ETS machine to watch for any contractions. She said she is just doing this to "pick on me" because everything has pointed to being perfect throughout this whole pregnancy. I said "pick away". She'll never have to explain being extra careful to me. I'll take it. She is also going to go ahead and have me do another ultrasound just to verify that Case is in fact head down but she thinks he feels like he is. After all that I will see her again and from then on starts the weekly appointments. I can't believe it! We are getting so close now!

I still feel the nerves creep up on me every now and then but God has given me a lot of comfort through all of this. I think it's most difficult to think of having showers or buying things for him because it all means that I believe he is going to be here safe and sound, which I pray that he is but know that so many things could still go wrong. Wayne and I actually bought him a couple of outfits last weekend. That was a big step for me! Wayne is so much better at keeping his trust in God and not letting his fears take away from the joy that God has given us. He is a great example for me to follow.

Here are some updated belly shots from the past few weeks...



Today we are 34 weeks. Only 6 weeks away from our lives being changed forever. Only 6 weeks away, God willing, from holding our baby boy in our arms, our living, breathing, crying, baby boy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bubby

Bubby is translated as Grandmother in Yiddish. I hardly think that my oldest cousin was thinking in terms of Yiddish when she lovingly named our grandmother "Bubby." Along with Bubby, my grandfather wasn't forgotten when my cousin handed the names out. He became known as "Poppy". I don't know if that translates to anything outside the world of botany or not but this was his "given" name nonetheless. Bubby and Poppy are my father's parents.

It is amazing to think that those two meeting is what brought about our family. God had a plan the day He crossed their paths. We've been blessed with a wonderful and close family. We don't all live close to one another but nothing more than a 4 hour drive at most separates us. My brother and I are the only grandkids that have been blessed to live fairly close to Bubby and Poppy all along.

We grew up with them playing an integral part in our childhood and as we became adults and we looked around to see so many of our friends without living grandparents we began to understand just how blessed we really were. It was easy to just expect them to be around but the older we got the more of a reality it became that eventually we would have to say goodbye.

Our goodbye to Bubby happened very quickly. In the past she battled breast cancer and beat it like a champ. We knew more recently that there was some other type of cancer but we weren't sure where or how much. She was 89 and really didn't care to know more because she knew it couldn't be treated. We just hoped for the slow growing kind and counted our blessings for each day we had her here with us. She started to feel a lot of pain around the beginning of August. Most of her pain was in her back but it was really bad. Hospice ended up coming in on August 13th to help her maintain the pain. They also gave her a hospital bed, which she loved! She said, "I may just not tell them when I start getting better so that I can keep this bed." She wasn't ready to give up. The next day the medication really took a toll on her but by evening she managed to play a round of bid euchre from bed. The family was called in because we didn't know how much time she had left but we knew it wasn't much.

I was blessed to spend quite a bit of time with her over that week and weekend. I will never forget the first time I really saw her break down when talking to the hospice nurse. She said, "I can't die yet. I have a brand new great grandson and another one on the way." This was hard to hear because at this point I knew the reality was that Case probably wasn't going to get to meet her. She was beginning to shut down. I went in to see her on Saturday morning and she told me she was looking forward to seeing her three great grandbabies in heaven. She said, "I'll take care of Joshua and Caleb!" I loved that she actually included the baby we lost before the boys to a miscarriage. Even I find myself sometimes forgetting that I will not only get to see my boys but there is a third baby that I will one day get to meet.

Bubby passed away peacefully after spending the weekend saying goodbye to each member of our family, on Monday August 17th. She was an amazing woman and I was blessed to have her in my life for 30 years. She gave us so many laughs, many times at her expense but she was always a good sport about it. She'd laugh right along with us. Sometimes we thought perhaps the filter between her brain and her mouth had deteriorated with age but again that just added to who she was and it was something even she laughed at. I think she was surprised at what came out of her own mouth on many occasions.

I will never forget Bubby or the influence she's had on my life. She was a strong woman that truly loved her family. She loved being surrounded by the family and was always at her happiest during the those times.

Poppy is doing really well. I'm very proud of him. He lost a big part of who he was when Bubby died. She was the woman that has slept by his side for 67 years. I can't imagine what it must feel like to lose the person you have spent the majority of your life with. He was a very caring husband and made a life out of taking care of Bubby, especially in the latter years of their marriage. He is enduring each day with a broken heart but he hasn't given up on life. I am amazed and encouraged by his strength!

Thank you, God, for all the time I had with Bubby and I pray that she is surrounded by your love and comfort now and that each day Poppy will find more comfort in knowing that he will one day see Bubby again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today I had to say hello and goodbye
The day was wrapped with many questions of "Why?"

One year ago today my boys were silently born
The silence was deafening as my heart became torn

One year ago today only their lifeless bodies remained
No one on earth could leave this tragedy explained

One year ago today my boys went home to be with our Lord
They sit at their birthday table today surrounded by His reward


Joshua and Caleb were born one year ago today. I haven't spent the last few days scurrying around finalizing the details on their first birthday party. I'm not spending the day surrounded by friends and family gathered to watch them eat their first birthday cake. I'm not sitting here wondering how on earth I will get that blue icing washed out of their hair. I don't get to do these things because they came silently into this world but left a great impact behind. Their short lives, although lived entirely within me, taught us so much! They taught us the value of family and taught us to love in a way we never knew. We miss them terribly but are so comforted in knowing that they have already begun their eternity with our Lord and Savior. We have the hope of seeing them again. The day will come when we will be forever reunited as a family in Heaven.


I'm not sure what has been harder. Has it been today or the few days leading up to this day? I will say the tears have come easily lately. It's a difficult position to be in. On one hand I want so badly to be surrounded by family at their first birthday party but if we were I wouldn't be carrying Case today. This is another reason I'm grateful to God's endless power. He made this decision for us because He knows what is best. Everything that has happened over the past year has drawn me SO much closer to God. Looking back I see so many blessings that Joshua and Caleb's short lives have brought. We'll never understand why things turned out the way they did but we will choose to recognize the wonderful friendships, support, appreciation of God's miracles, and the love that have come from Joshua and Caleb's lives.

Today we spent the afternoon at the barn (right next to the cemetery where the boys are buried). It was rainy most of the morning and we thought leaving in early afternoon might be our only opportunity for dry weather, however the rain pretty much stopped for the rest of the day once we got out there. Just another gift that God gave us. My mom and dad came out too. Part of me was dreading walking over to the cemetery even though I've been there so many times before. The sadness was pretty overwhelming this morning but once I got there God gave me comfort and peace. We took the gifts we received in memory of the boys' birthday and took lots of pictures. We decorated with new flowers and birthday balloons.

We received two deliveries this weekend. The first was from my brother and his wife. They sent us some beautiful fall colored flowers with a very touching card attached. They are very supportive and so good to us.


The second delivery was from Summer and Brandon. Summer is another mommy that I met online. We hit it off immediately and have been exchanging emails ever since she lost her little boy, also named Caleb. She clearly has good taste too... that must be one reason we get along so well. We've met in person a couple of times but talk through email and texting a lot. Theirs was an unexpected gift but so touching! I'm so blessed by Summers friendship. She always understands how I'm feeling and gives me so much encouragement through her own thoughts and reminders from scripture.


My mom and dad also brought some beautiful flowers to put on Joshua and Caleb's grave. They were perfect! I had wanted to find a bear to leave for each of them but the dollar store (my boys would expect nothing less from their extremely cheap mommy) didn't have any that I found acceptable so I didn't buy any. As usually though, mom and dad came through. The flowers were perfect and had two perfect little blue bears attached. My parents have been SO amazing throughout this past year. They do so many things to let us know that they remember and are always thinking about Joshua and Caleb. They are amazing grandparents and I can't wait for the days they actually get to watch their grandchildren grow. This year hasn't been easy for them either! They've watched us jump over many of these hurdles and been their to help us with each step, even when it seemed like we couldn't take another one.


After we decorated Joshua and Caleb's grave we had a small cookout and birthday cake. Again my parents didn't seem to think (or at least let on that they thought) any of it was weird.


I'll say that getting over the one year mark is definitely bittersweet. I know the world will remember Joshua and Caleb less and less but I will do all that I can to keep the memory of them alive by helping others. No matter how quickly the world moves on, Wayne and I will never forget these two precious lives that have left us forever changed. We'll never forget the blessings that our faithful Father has given us.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Locks of Love

A few years ago I decided my hair had gotten entirely too long. It was time to cut some off and I realized it could actually do some good for someone else if I cut a little more than I intended. I ended up cutting 10 inches off my hair that day and it was donated to Locks of Love (an organization that supplys wigs to those who have lost their hair). My little cousin, Bethany, managed to grow some VERY long VERY thick hair also. We made a pact. I told her I would grow my hair long again and we could donate it together. Well it turns out a 10 year old doesn't forget pacts like you think they might. After several swimming encounters where we thought we might have to cut out the tangles rather than brush them, we decided it was time to get hers cut. Mine wasn't quite as long as I wanted but a promise is a promise and again...she didn't forget.

You have to cut 10 inches in order for Locks of Love to be able to use it. So with a large crowd to watch, we chopped it off. Tina, the hair stylist I've gone to for years took GREAT care of us.






Here is what our hair looked like at the beginning of the day on Tuesday, June 30, 2009...
And at the end of the day...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Steps

“I might actually have this baby and get to bring him home.”

I don’t know if this feeling is common even to women who have not encountered a loss but this is what I find myself thinking more and more. It’s strange but I didn’t going into this pregnancy assuming the end would show me holding my baby. I guess I look at having a baby in three very distinct steps and I’ve never achieved all of them so I didn’t have any reason to assume I would this time. The first step is getting pregnant. I’ve jumped this hurdle three times, the most recent being the most difficult, yet I wouldn’t say we had trouble getting pregnant, it may have felt like we did but our troubles were certainly not in comparison to the struggles that many endure month after month. Getting pregnant in itself is sort of crazy when you think about how perfect the timing of so many things has to be. It becomes amazing that anyone can get pregnant to begin with when you think about that.

For me the second step is staying pregnant. There’s so much excitement that a positive pregnancy test invokes but that is just the beginning of what seems like a very long journey ahead. We lost our first baby near the 8 week mark. Early miscarriages are very common but still devastating because with each positive test comes so much hope. I think getting through that first trimester marks the end of the second step. I know people like to refer to it as getting to the “safe zone” but I’m convinced that zone doesn’t really exist. Maybe we should refer to it as the “SAFER zone” instead because yes statistically speaking your odds of losing your baby do go down quite a bit after that first trimester but that doesn’t mean the odds are nonexistent.

The third step for me, one we’ve yet to make it to, is the delivery of a healthy baby. Joshua and Caleb were stillborn at 20 weeks and 6 days gestation. The 20th week of this pregnancy scared me. Now we’ve past that point and it just feels like uncharted territory for me. I don’t know what to think at this point but that “We might actually have a healthy baby” feeling is becoming more and more prominent. Sometimes I will follow that feeling with the thought of all the other mommies I know that have lost babies farther into their pregnancies than I have and it kind of sucks the wind out of my sails if you will. Suddenly the pregnancy still seems very long and scary. Other times that feeling of confidence is followed by a discussion of the future, whether that includes purchasing a crib or having a baby shower and again my mind is flooded with all the sad endings that so many have had to survive much later in their pregnancies than me. I guess talk of the future just scares me. It scares me that people still assume pregnancy ends with healthy babies. It scares me that those people could be hit with a reality that feels impossible to get through (and would have been for me if I hadn’t had Jesus as my tour guide).

We had ordered two cribs the weekend before we lost the boys, we had registered at Babies “R” Us, and we had set a date for a shower about two weeks before. The thought of repeating these events for Dotson feel somewhat like triggers that take me back or remind me that there are no guarantees. I’m excited to do all these things and they still seem like fun to me but at the same time they scare me. I guess it’s similar to jumping out of a plane for the first time… it must sound like fun or you wouldn’t do it but there has to be a fear in the back of your head until the moment your feet safely hit the ground. I’ve pretty much avoided all these things this time around but it is becoming increasingly apparent that we are really going to have to start thinking about them soon. We’ve already gotten the shower question; however no one dares to ask me themselves, they go through mom (I do appreciate this because it doesn’t put me in a position to have to make a rushed decision). As for the crib, well when we ordered the boys’ it was going to take up to 4 months to get it. That calls for some major advanced planning. It makes me think that Target or Wal-mart might be the way to go this time around. Registering I still think can wait. I want to emphasize again though that I am VERY excited about doing all these things I just wish I could do them with the same innocence that I did the first time.

I hope this post doesn’t give you the impression that I live each moment in fear of how this pregnancy is going to end because by God’s grace I don’t. I am actually very comforted and at peace but there is also that very realistic voice in the back of my head that isn’t going to be quiet until “my feet safely hit the ground”. I have a better understanding of the possibilities than most but I know that this baby is not my own. Dotson is God’s creation and only God knows how this little boy is going to be used to achieve His plan. My trust is in Him and I will continue to pray for His grace and comfort to surround me, to give me the ability to enjoy and see the blessings, and to give Wayne and me a perfect little Dotson to love and snuggle in 4.5 more months. A Dotson that will bless our marriage and that we will sit side by side and watch grow into a man that loves and serves the Lord.

Quickening

Quickening, according to Google, refers to the initial motion of the fetus in the uterus as it is perceived or felt by the pregnant woman. Quickening according to me is the sign of life within me. It is the only sign I have that my baby is still alive and well. It is my reminder that perhaps I will be blessed with a pregnancy that doesn’t end in sorrow, a pregnancy that doesn’t end but rather provides a new beginning. A pregnancy that doesn’t require a goodbye. Quickening to me is the most amazing feeling I have ever felt. Sure it’s wonderful to hear that heartbeat on a Doppler or see it beating away on the ultrasound machine but to actually feel it makes it SO much more real. Quickening has made Dotson real to me. Can I just say that I am a HUGE fan of this “quickening”?

Many may not have yet felt this amazing feeling so I’m going to share with you what I think it feels like because I can tell you that the description others gave me made me question whether I was really feeling him or not. So here it is… I feel two distinctly different feelings and I believe both of them are him. The first is what I call a “squirmy feeling”. It feels like he is squirming all around inside me. Some may call this a “flutter,” I disagree. The description of fluttering makes me think of a butterfly fluttering its wings in a wide open space, I think it feels more like a baby doing that squirmy snuggling thing they do when you’re holding them. It would make sense that they do something similar while still in the womb. Some also describe this as maybe feeling like gas…I didn’t get that either. Gas feels like gas…this is different. My second description is, and I’ll warn you this one is groundbreaking, that it feels like a gentle kick. Not the kick of a grown person because remember their feet and hands are still very tiny but it feels like a gentle kick, a flick from the inside might be a better description. At any rate, I think when you feel it you will know that is what it is. Dotson also loves to dance on, what I think is, my cervix. This gives me the constant urge to have to go to the bathroom. He must know that I enjoy frequent breaks, especially while at work.

I just think this whole idea of feeling another human being moving within me is so spectacular. I don’t know how anyone can question the presence of God in this. So many things have to fall perfectly into place to even become pregnant, not to mention the timing of everything once you are. There is such a precision to it that I know only God could be responsible for this miracle and with every kick I will praise Him. I am reminded with each of those kicks just how blessed I truly am. This reminder is just another gift that has come from losing my boys. I don’t know that I would realize how amazing this truly is if I hadn’t been through such a difficult loss before I might not be so in tune with all that is happening within me now. This reminder is just another gift from my Joshua and Caleb.

Monday, June 22, 2009

20 Weeks 6 Days

20 weeks 6 days is the day in the pregnancy with Joshua and Caleb that they were born. They came silently into this world. There were no cries or whimpers. Just silence. Today I am 20 weeks and 6 days pregnant with Dotson. Something about knowing this point in the pregnancy was coming has been hard. It was a bit of a difficult morning for me but my extremely loving husband made himself late to work so that he could listen to the baby on the Doppler with me and so we could spend a few minutes praying for strength and a healthy baby. Dotson has been good to me today. He’s made himself known on several occasions. I guess it’s been his way of saying “momma, don’t worry about me…I’m just fine…see I’m dancing.” I feel so much joy every time I feel his movements (even the ones where it feels like he is kicking my cervix with some sort of constant rhythm making me feel like I have to pee at about the same intervals).

I am just overwhelmed with joy about this little boy and getting through today will put as at the 21 week mark, a mark we never reached with Joshua and Caleb. I guess my point to all this is really for all the other mommy’s with babies they never got to hear cry. This day was harder than others, in fact this whole week has been a little scarier for me than the rest but the joy that it has been far outweighs the difficult parts. I praise God everyday for this little boy that continues to grow inside of me and I thank Him for every second that I get with Dotson. My hope is in the fact that I will get to watch this little boy grow into a man that loves and serves the Lord with my husband by my side but my faith and trust are in God because He has shown me over and over that He will carry me through whatever tomorrow brings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Headstone Installed... Classroom Uninstalled

Joshua and Caleb's grave site has had nothing more than the little cross I made marking it for quite a while now. We've had the headstone in our possession since December but we had to wait for the ground to thaw to put it in. We are blessed with an amazing family that has been there for us every step of the way and getting their headstone erected was no exception. On June 16th, Wayne, his dad, step-dad, and my dad set out to get the concrete foundation poured. John, Wayne's step-dad was kind of the brains behind the operation but everyone worked really hard...while I did little more than stand there and watch. They all pitched in and got it poured and I have to say that it looked more professional than the professional ones. I'm not just saying that because it's for my boys...it really did look better than many of the others.
The following weekend was a VERY busy one. Again everything we set out to accomplish was achieved only through the help of our amazing family. It started out in my classroom. My home away from home for the last 4.5 years. It was time to get it cleaned out for the next teacher to take over. Clearly I was unable to move much so my parents, Wayne, my brother and his wife all pitched in. They were great. They knocked out about two full days work in about 4 hours. We were way ahead of schedule. Now I may never find the things I packed away until I unpack the boxes someday if I find another classroom to call home but they are packed and it is a big weight off my shoulders. It was kind of sad to leave my classroom all empty and to look across the hall and know that I would never get to see Barrett (one of the teachers on my team) looking back at me with a classroom full of kids again. The reason behind my leaving is what makes it all easier to swallow. I guess the point is that change is just hard and this was no exception. I've been through a miscarriage and the loss of my perfect boys, Joshua and Caleb, yet it was time to take a leap of faith and do what is best for my husband and Dotson.

After we left my classroom Ben, my brother, and Wayne and I headed to the cemetery. Ben had the headstone in the back of his truck, thanks to the help of many hands at Moss Glass in Anderson (plug plug). Wayne and Ben managed to get the headstone unload and put on the foundation perfectly. It is more beautiful than I had imagined and MUCH taller than I had pictured. I am so grateful for all the hard work that made it possible.
Looking out into the cemetery at all the headstones I think Joshua and Caleb's really stands out. Thanks to West Memorials we were able to get everything we wanted on it and in a font that was different from the typical block lettering you see on most headstones. I am just so pleased with how it turned out!
click here for more pictures
I love that the cemetery where we have the boys buried is lenient when it comes to their rules. I don't know how many cemeteries out there would be willing to let the family dig the grave by hand, pour the foundation, and install the headstone without any professional help but they did. Well we didn't really ask but we knew the rules so we figured as long as we followed them it would be fine. The family that runs it is really laid back. It really has proved to be the right choice for a final resting place for the boys even though it isn't quite as close as I'd like it to be.

So again, I want to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful people in our lives. So many people chipped in with the purchasing of the headstone and the installation of it, not to mention the support they've shown us. We are blessed beyond belief!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dotson Update 17 Weeks 1 Day

We went for more "Brandi time:-)" on May 27th.  It was another fabulous day of hearing that perfect heartbeat and seeing that perfect little boy on the screen.  It's odd to me that now when I see the screen the first thing I notice is the visible heartbeat, yet somehow at the last ultrasound with Joshua and Caleb I didn't notice that there wasn't a heartbeat.  I guess I've learned a lot since then.  My eyes are glued to it now.  

His heartbeat was 150 bpm and he was measuring 17 weeks 4 days.  
He looked perfect.  I'm starting to be able to see my placenta on the ultrasound now.  It's clearly getting bigger.  It is in the front so it acutally seems to make it harder to see the baby on the ultrasound but it is functioning perfectly so I'll take it.  

I go back for a regular visit on Wednesday, 6/10/09.  This is a normal visit for everyone.  This is when she will measure everything and I'll see the doctor again.  Sometimes I find myself worried but I think it is because we are getting close to the point in the pregnancy where I lost the boys.  We found out Joshua and Caleb were gone at 20 weeks 5 days and delievered them at 20 weeks 6 days.  That point in this pregnancy is getting much closer.  Now I know there is no "safe" zone but that was our end zone last time so I guess that is what I'll forever look forward to getting past.  I struggled a little with week 18 too though.  One of the moms that I've talked to online who lost her little boy around the time I lost Joshua and Caleb had a second loss at 18 weeks.  She lost another boy.  Something about her 18 week mark bothered me.  I guess just the fact that she has gone through this loss twice is hard to comprehend.  I pray that we aren't faced with that pain but I know God would see us through it if we were.  

I'll keep you posted after our next appointment.