Friday, May 28, 2010

3D Sonogram Scheduled

When Ryan and I went to see the people at Alexandra's House they gave us a folder of information with services people in KC were donating to parents of children who need peri-natal hospice. Today, I called the sonographer who does 3D and 4D sonos for free. We scheduled an appointment for July 20th when I am 29 weeks pregnant. I will post images of Elspeth that day and they should be amazing!

Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elspeth Allyson--how did you come up with that?

First of all, I would like to give Ryan some credit. He was extremely flexible with my choices on the baby's name. The day after we found out Elspeth's diagnosis I came to him and said, "The baby's name is Elspeth Allyson." Ryan said, "that sounds like the right name." We didn't even know if it was a girl or boy at that point and we hadn't seriously discussed any names either (I was only 14 weeks pregnant). I can't say how, but I just knew that's who she was and felt at peace when I finally recognized her for her true self.

Elspeth, pronounced "Elle-speth", is a derivative of Elizabeth. It's meaning is "consecrated to God". That's exactly how I feel about my Elspeth, that I am giving her right back to God immediately. My nine months with Elspeth is going by so quickly, but it's a constant reminder that God is trusting me to take care of her for this little while and then He will call her home again. She is first and foremost our Heavenly Father's daughter, and mine second.

Elspeth also has special meaning because it's my middle name. I have always been fond of my name, Meredith Elspeth (good job Mom and Dad) because of it's originality and because of the special woman whom I inherited it from.

Elspeth Seville was a woman that my dad found as a missionary in Scotland many years ago. Elsie was a woman of remarkable character and against a lot of critism from friends and family she accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ was baptized. Elsie lived a hard life, as a widow she worked as a hotel maid in Scotland to support her children. My dad describes her as a "hard looking woman with a soft kind spirit." Elsie kept in contact with my parents after they had married until her death 1975. She was faithful and true to her testimony for rest of her life and her legacy lives on through her own children and now myself.

Allyson is the name of one of my beloved sisters. She is my oldest sister and we have shared many of the same trials with infertility together. Sharing this burden with each other has bonded us together forever. I am so grateful to have her in my life because she truly understands the pain of not having a child of my own. I will always be grateful for her support and love. Giving my daughter her name is a way in which I would like to honor her. (Allyson, you are probably going to kill me for posting this but hey, it's my blog and I can write whatever I want on it).

What is anencephaly?

Wikipedia says, "Anencephaly is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp. Children with this disorder are born without a forebrain, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres (which include the neocortex, which is responsible for higher-level cognition, i.e., thinking). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed—not covered by bone or skin."

You may be thinking..."what? In english please!" Basically, Baby Elspeth's head didn't close up during the early stages of pregnancy. Therefore, her brain didn't fully develop. She only has a brain stem which allows her basic functions of life while she is with me. Without my "life support" she will only be able to function for a short time, if at all.

What will Elspeth look like when she is born?

Her head is open and exposed. She has no scalp, skull or even skin covering her brain. She also might have bulging eyes from her sockets. There are possibilities that there might be other common birth defects like a cleft lip. We hopefully will know more details when I have 4D sonogram later in the pregnancy. I hope that those who come to see Elspeth will not be alarmed by her appearance, it's actually something that I worry about a lot. I think that knowing what she might look like before will help those who see her to be prepared. To me her spirit is perfect and beautiful, so I am not afraid.
The photo is from this site:

How long with Elspeth live?

We have no idea! Everything I have read says that the survival rate through birth is only 25%, so we have a very good chance that she will be born still. We are hoping and praying for a little time with hour would be nice.

Will carrying Elspeth to term hurt me?

No, it will be like a normal pregnancy. I have just started to feel tiny kicks and wiggles. The birth will be normal like any other baby. Well, that's what I have been told but I wouldn't actually know because I haven't had a baby before. There is a greater risk for having a breech baby with anencephaly because these babies are notorious for not turning around. Another complication could be a condition where the baby doesn't swallow the amniotic fluid and it builds up. This is called polyhydraminos. Luckily, on our last sono Elsepth's stomach had amniotic fluid in it so I am encouraged by this finding.

How/why did this happen?

Again, another unanswered question. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect which basically means a folic acid deficiency. We have no idea how I was deficient in folic acid because I took pre-natal vitamins for several years before concieving. So, why did this happen? Because it's God's will. That's my best answer. He knew I was the right mom and Ryan was the right Dad for this sweet baby.

Will this happen again?

Perhaps. Women who have babies with anencephaly have a 1/2,000 chance of having another baby with anencephaly. They also have an increased chance of having another baby with a neural tube defect like spina bifida. The plan is to load up on rediculously high doses of folic acid before trying to concieve again and pray for the best! Many many women on my support group have multiple healthy pregnancies following a baby with anencephaly.

I think I have covered the most "common" questions that people have asked me, but if you have a different question feel free to post it. I might not know the answer yet, but I will try to find out for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Family Begins

Ryan and I were married in March 2004. Time passed quickly and a couple of years later we knew it was time to start our family. Except, no baby came. After two very difficult and emotional years of trying to concieve we were blessed with a miracle. We first welcomed Baby Mullen on January 30, 2010.
As you can all imagine we were thrilled to finally have an addition to our family. Our first sonogram was Febuary 9th and we found out that Baby Mullen was 6 weeks along. She was the most beautiful tiny blob with a pulsating heart.

Again we had a sono only two weeks later. Our OBGYN, who is extra cautious, wanted to make sure she was going to stick around.

Now she was two blobs with one tiny little arm sticking up. Amazing progress for only two weeks!

Another sono was done on March 17th for our 11th week checkup. Everything looked great and after a lot of reassurance from our physician we were finally started to feel some of the anxiety eased.

April 8th was D-Day (Diagnosis Day). I woke up for work at 5 a.m. and found some spotting. I called the doctor's office and they recommened that we come in for a check up and sono. After 4 tense hours of waiting we head in for a sono. We were so excited to see the progress the baby had made. When the sono started we instantly started smiling and talking about the baby's arms and legs kicking and wiggling. Her heart was pounding away and we could palpate the love growing between us and our little baby. We didn't have any idea that the sono tech wasn't looking at wiggly legs and arms or even her heart. She was looking at her head.
Dr. Sheridan was wonderful when he broke the news. He came right out and said, "there's a problem with the baby's head. It's too small. It's looks like the baby has anencephaly. I am so sorry." I didn't even know what anencephaly was but I knew it couldn't be good. I made him write it down on a piece of paper and explain everything he could so I knew exactly what I was going to deal with. He told me that he wanted me to go see a peri-natologist as soon as possible to confirm the diagnosis.
The rest of the day was agonizing. I didn't know what to do, should I be sad or hope for a miracle? Many friends and family came to our aide that day. They sat in my living room and shared my tears. I am so thanful for you all that helped us that day. We couldn't have made it without you all.
The next day we saw Dr. Loo with St. Luke's peri-natology group. We had a level II sonogram and again we saw the same beautiful site as the day before. My mom came with us to the sono for support and to see the baby. I told the sono tech that I wanted to see her head, I needed to see it for myself. Dr. Loo confirmed our fears, he said it was classic case of anencephaly. The next thing out of his mouth was, "A common option is to terminate the pregnancy." We knew that termination was not an option.
Every life is precious and has meaning. God blessed us with this little life and we are determined to enjoy it and rejoice in His blessing. We are only now beginning to discover how meanful her life will be to us.


Ryan and I want to share the life of our precious daughter, Elspeth Allyson. We hope that her beautiful and short life will touch your heart in a similar way it has ours.

We only have about 19 more weeks to experience her in this life so we want take advantage of every moment by talking about her, talking to her, writing/blogging and creating memories.

Welcome! Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions about Elspeth. Her life is too precious to keep it to ourselves.