Friday, February 11th

February 11, 2011- I awoke at 4:20 in the morning to water pouring out of my body. I knew what it was the moment it happened, though I couldn't quite make sense of how this could be happening when I'm only 21 weeks along. Once your water breaks you have to get the baby out, right? If he comes out now, he's too under-developed to survive....I sat with these thoughts for a few minutes and then woke Jason up. We subsequently rushed to the nearest ER. Upon entrance, they ran tests for infection and performed an ultra sound, which confirmed my water had indeed broken. There was no way to identify the cause. And this was not a small leak. 100% of my fluid was gone. He will reproduce fluid as I intake it, but it will continue to leak out. The toughest part of the news was that my son was still 3 weeks from "viability," meaning that if he was born now, he would not survive. We could only wait and pray that for 3 more weeks, infection didn't set in and I didn't go into labor. After 3 weeks, if he comes, they can intervene to help him survive. There's still the issue of the fluid, however. See, even if we make it 3 weeks with no infection and no labor, his lungs can't develop without the presence of fluid. So all we can do is wait for God to do a miracle. Seal up the rupture to allow the amniotic sack to refill with fluid....or develop my son in the absence of the fluid, so he can survive when he's forced to come out here. And so our journey begins....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hand in Hand, One Foot in Front of the Other

Jason and I are doing well. I mean, I'm not a grief expert, so my perspective may not be completely accurate, but it seems we are doing well. I still have my emotional moments, but they don't result in meltdowns anymore. For the first few weeks, I had many of those. I missed Landon so much- missed having him in here with me and missed the plans we had for him on the outside. I also went through guilt over my inability to plan properly for how to handle his arrival. We never planned for him to die. We only believed he would live. This made me feel that we were not properly prepared for so much of this tragedy.

Experiencing the love of a mother for the first time, while simultaneously experiencing the loss of your child, is something words can't adequately describe. I won't even attempt that, except to say that I thought nothing of myself, my loss, my pain, what I was going through. I did not enter the equation. I only thought of my baby boy and asked if I had done everything I could've have done, should've done for him- in the 22 weeks he was in my womb and the 2-3 minutes he survived outside of it. The beginning of labor to the death of my son all happened so unexpectedly and so quickly. I was in immense pain and incredibly traumatized. We all had our list of things we "should've" done or "would've" done differently in the few short minutes he was alive. All of us but Jason, that is. He has always maintained that we handled it the right way in the moment and we all did the best we could. He has been such a rock for me, during this whole process. I do get concerned about whether or not he's allowed himself to grieve. Men take on such a role of strength, to help women get through it. They also don't talk about things as much, so you can't help but wonder if they are dealing with it. I credit so much of my progress to talking about it that entire first week. Everything I thought and felt was expressed multiple times, to multiple people. I know that moved me forward. As for the guilt, we just have to let that go and trust that God guided us properly in that moment and provided Landon comfort as he brought him home.

In layer 2 (I like to think of my grief process as layers being peeled back. Steps is not the right word, because that implies a numerical sequence, and nothing about this process is that logical or clearly identifiable. Most of the time you feel too nuts to confidently place yourself in something so neat and tidy as "Step 2- Anger and Denial." You go in and out of steps and sometimes hang out in 3 at a time, or wonder why you're in step 4 when you don't remember experiencing step 2...And one can rarely label a feeling well enough to guess what step they're in. This parenthetical reference is becoming quite long, so back to the original thought.) my emotional meltdowns subsided and were replaced by anxiety- something very new to me. Normal life stressors, which I can always logically think through and resolve, would result in me feeling like my head was spinning and I could not formulate a forward moving thought. None of these stressors were even related to my tragedy. They were all normal things I had always managed fine before. In these moments, I could not move through the mental paralysis, nor did I believe I had the ability to do so. My proverbial fuze was quite short. I would feel angry, annoyed, frustrated and know that these feelings didn't fit the situation, but I couldn't get past them. That has also subsided, for the most part. I began working out again this week, which I believe is a huge contributor to that. I am thankful that I have not had to resort to medication to deal with any of this. I am not against medication, in general, but I did have a strong goal to make it through without medicating.

We had the postpartum follow-up appointment with the doctor on Monday. It was pretty much what I had expected- a whole lot of speculation and zero answers. Wait.....we did get one answer....I am 20% more likely to have this happen to me in my next pregnancy, now that it has happened once. That begged the question- "are there any anti-anxiety medications you can prescribe me when I become pregnant again?" I was happy the answer was "yes." We also got one partial answer, which was that we should wait a year to try again. I say partial answer, because he also said that there really isn't any scientific evidence to suggest that my body is not adequately healed at 6 months, so we may be fine to try then. He just prefers we wait a year to be sure. That didn't help solve the prior debate J and I had about whether we should wait 6 months or a 12. I was team 6 and he was team 12. I suppose we have some time to figure that out. =0)  Other than that, we know I was infected, which caused the labor. They believe this happened as a result of the rupture. There is, however, no known cause of the rupture or any guaranteed preventative measures we can take next time. The best reassurance we have is that the doctors will watch everything much more closely and frequently next time, doing whatever they can, as necessary, to help me stay pregnant.

This is a great reminder that God is in complete control. It is also a reminder than this process is far too complex and far too miraculous for man to ever completely understand. For as advanced as we are in medicine, we still know very little. I believe that is God's way of reminding us that life is a miracle. We take for granted that we can get pregnant and have healthy babies. Medical professionals really can't even help us much with this. Only God can. So Jason and I move forward, trying to establish as much normalcy as we can possibly regain, with the knowledge that our future is truly and completely in God's hands.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Baby Boy is With God

It started out as cramping and feeling like I had the flu these past two days. Then I began contracting. I prayed all the way to the ER, begging God to make it stop and give us more time. I begged him not to take my son.  The contractions stopped by the time we arrived. We spoke with the doctors and within a couple hours, I was to be released to go home. But I knew something wasn't right. Less than an hour later I began contracting much harder, with far less time in between contractions. In that moment the pain is so intense that you have no room in your mind to focus on anything other than making it through it. They brought me to a room, administered pain medication via IV, and told me they suspected an infection. I knew this was it. My boy was coming and he wasn't going to survive. I was lucid for parts of the labor and delivery and completely oblivious to others, but I felt him being birthed and I heard them quoting a dropping heart rate. Little Landon was born at about 12:30am, heart still strong, and went home to be with God minutes later. He was our little fighter. He and I sure tried as hard as we could....but God had a different plan. Maybe we will understand it one day; I suspect not. I'm not sure where one even begins to pick up the pieces from here. All I know is that, today, we take the first step to move through it together....and continue to trust God. We are grateful for the outpouring of prayer and support. Thank you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

10 Days Until Admission

We had quite a scare last night. I was cramping for about two and a half hours before I called the nurse. I knew it was my body starting labor, before she told me. I began praying. See the past few days I've grown weary and have even said "I just wish this was over." Immediately I apologized to God for those words. I don't want it to be over. That's just doubt and weakness. I want to make it 10 more days to get into the hospital and then 4 more weeks so he has a strong chance at survival. If the power of life and death is in the tongue, we have to be careful what we say out loud. Especially someone like me who has a strong power of intention. Most things I speak about wanting, come to pass. So from here on out, even in my weariness, I will not speak of anything resembling giving up. That was simply too scary. Anyway, the nurse said ibuprofen has been shown successful in stopping labor and instructed me to take 600mg every 6 hours for 24-48 hours, as needed. I also have to be sure to check my temperature before doses because ibuprofen can mask infection symptoms. I am OK to stay at home unless the cramps get unbearable, I spike a temperature, or I begin spotting. Within about an hour of taking the ibuprofen, the cramping died way down. As of this morning, I don't have any. I need everyone's prayers to keep this labor away. I know very well that it is a persistent little process and it doesn't give up easily. We need it to stay away!

Thanking God for stopping last night and giving us another day to fight. Baby was kicking me quite a bit after it stopped. He's kicking me quite a bit as I type this. Poor guy must be wondering what's been going on in there. Stay strong mister. We have to keep you in there for a while longer.....

Often times, in my weariness, I struggle to find words to pray. I find worship songs help give me the words I don't have. This is my song today.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

22 Weeks, 3 Days (11 Days Until Hospital Admission)

Yesterday's appointments didn't give us any new information, but they did add some color to previous information. There was a small amount of fluid, though not enough to be considered significant. I found out that while being admitted at 24 weeks is my choice, it's really the only way. Once I go in, the doctors are then in a position to do everything in their power to save him, should he deliver (resuscitation, intubation, medicine, etc). At home, they can't monitor either of us to know what's coming and adequately prepare to help us. There, they are constantly checking his vitals, my temp, ensuring I'm not infected, etc. It makes more sense for me to be there. I can't go until 24, however, because there is nothing they can do until then. Sometimes, they can help babies born at 23 weeks, but it's more like a medical experiment than anything else. This is why 24 weeks is considered legal viability.

Talking to the neonatal doctor was the most encouraging. He is the one who takes care of the babies in the NICU. He has seen enough success stories, that he is enthusiastic about the chances. Though I struggle to share statistics, because a. God can do anything and b. there are so many factors that make statistics a tricky thing to rely on, I will share some general ones. All things considered and not accounting for fluid, no fluid, time of rupture, etc.....babies born at 24 weeks have about a 50/50 chance of survival. By 28 weeks, the chances are up in the low 90s. He says he will be encouraged to see me make it to 28 weeks. He doubts I'll make it much further, just based on his experience of how long women last once they rupture. He also said there's no way to predict outcome based on situation. He said he's seen a woman ruptuer at 18 weeks, with no fluid birth a baby with minor issues and he's seen a woman rupture at 22 weeks with fluid and it's the sickest baby he's seen. There's no pattern to this. He said that some of the sickest babies he's ever cared for are healthy and thriving now. He also says there's absolutely no way to predict how the baby's lungs are developing, short of taking a biopsy of the tissue. Even once the baby is born, it's their best guess about how much of the challenges are related to lack of lung development and how much are related to the fact that he was born premature. As you can imagine, being born that early presents it's own set of challenges. He did say that survival is our biggest concern. Life long issues related to breathing aren't typical, as the body's development catches up quickly in early years. Might Landon have trouble running marathons? Yes. Should he be able to play football and basketball with the best of them? Yes.  We got to tour the NICU and see where they incubate the premature babies and how they care for them. That's a tough road. Landon would probably be in the NICU until my due date, so if he comes at 28 weeks, he'll be there for 12. Poor pumpkin. But we'll take it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heading to See the Doctors

We are on our way to appointments with the perinatologist, who takes care of me, and the neonatologist, who will take care of the baby. Praying for encouraging news. I'll report back later.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 6

We made it another day! Baby boy is far less active today. I think he stays awake for 24 hour periods and then sleeps for 24 hour periods. It seems I haven't been leaking as much fluid, which could be a good thing, except that I worry he may not be functioning as well as he should be. Then I worry about the fact that he could end up laying on the cord. There's an increased risk of that with no fluid present. Then I realize I could spend my whole day worrying, but that won't do him any good, so let's not. Let's put our trust in God.

I think the reality of being admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks hit me yesterday. I was looking at admission as a good thing, because it means I made it to 24 weeks, but now I'm thinking about what that really means. No big screen TV, no Truth by my side all day, icky hospital food. The goal is to get me to 32 weeks, so that would be 8 weeks in a hospital bed. Yikes! I'm beginning to wonder if I have to be admitted at 24 weeks or if I have the choice to stay home longer. Dad says not to worry about all that- take it one week at a time. He's right.....but I have a lot of time on my hands to think about all of this.

I think my brain is already starting to slow down a bit. I was talking to Darcy today about throwing someone under the table. I realized quite a few seconds later that I meant to say "bus." Oy! As Jason says- I'm used to kicking butt and taking names and now I've been relegated to laying on the couch, which is leading to quite the brain mushery. I need some logic puzzles and brain teasers!

You can tell by today's tone that I'm not feeling quite as encouraged as prior days. I'm not giving up, though. I know God will help me get back to that place. For now, I'm rejoicing in the fact that I've made it almost a full week with no labor or infection. That is a miracle in itself. Looking forward to my doctor appointment on Friday and hoping for some miraculous news. Also looking forward to having some visitors over the next few days, to help break up the monotony.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 5

Landon woke me up this morning doing martial arts in my belly. Apparently he was ready to eat. My little fighter. When he's getting really serious about it, J and I can actually watch my stomach and see the movements. This isn't typical at 21 weeks, but without fluid around him, he's right up against my uterus, which is what makes this possible. I like that we get such a joyful benefit out of such a tragic reality. As I laid in bed on my side, I placed my hand on my stomach and thanked God for this miracle- another day labor and infection free, and my boy seems to be as strong as ever. And they told me he couldn't move much without the fluid in there. Apparently they didn't realize this was MY son they were talking about. I'm quite sure he heard them and said "oh yeah? we'll see about that!"

My appetite has been amazing over the past few days. I like to think it's because God is packing the pounds on my son- getting him developed fast, so he's ready when he comes. God does cool things like that. Whatever the reason, I'm eating constantly, which seems like a good thing considering eating has been a struggle throughout my pregnancy.

Lying down is getting harder. I miss walking. I miss going outside. My back is starting to hurt. There's only so much comfort in these limited positions. It's amazing what we will do for our children, that we would never do for ourselves. My endurance is for my son. I remain still for him. Remain still and believe God for our huge miracle. Huge for us, but nothing for Him. I will continue to pray without ceasing. I will rejoice in the things I cannot control...and I will rejoice in the biggest thing I can control- fighting like my son does every single day!