Sunday, August 29, 2010

34 weeks

At our visit this week Dr. Sheridan told us that he thinks that Elspeth may be breech at this point. I wish you all could have seen his face when he told me, completely heart broken. I kind of sensed that something was going on because he was having trouble finding her heart beat with the doppler. I am not giving up hope though and I know that she still has plenty of time to turn around. I found a great website that talks about how to know if your baby is breech and some "home remedies" on how to get your baby to turn around. I haven't tried anything yet, but I am seriously considering it.

I am still resolved to deliver Elspeth the good old fashioned way, even if she is breech. Thankfully Dr. Sheridan has agreed to this also. I can't say enough how thankful I am to have a doctor who supports me in every decision I have made. He has never questioned my decision to carry Elsepth to term and has treated me just like any other patient with a normal healthy baby.
Through the past several weeks I have recieved some really thoughtful letters, cards and gifts. One special gift came all the way from South America this past week. My sister-in-law is from Concepcion, Chile and her dear mother sent me the most beautiful pair of hand-made booties for Elspeth.
My heart is so touched to know the hours it must have taken Mima to make these beautiful little booties for a baby she will never get to meet and that lives so far away.

The girls at work also had a special suprise this last week too. They gave me a "Thumbies" fingerprint necklace. The company sent me a kit to take Elspeth's fingerprint after she is born. I am supposed to send it back in and they will send me a pendant necklace that has her fingerprint lazer engraved on it. I love the idea that I will always have Elspeth's impression near to my heart.

Other memorial items I am working on is a large scrapbook. The moment I found out about Elspeth's diagnosis, my dear friend Celeste encouraged me to keep everything I can to make a scrapbook. I have collected quite a pile of cards, sonogram photos, etc that will be included. I think it will take my whole maternity leave to compile it together! I also have a kit to take Elspeth's hand and feet prints and frame them. I can't express enough how thankful I am to everyone in facilitating these memories.

I just can't believe how close we are getting to E's delivery day. According to baby center, I am supposed to have my hospital bag packed by now...I haven't even started. Drop me a line and tell me something that you packed that you found helpful/essential.

One last note, my heart goes out to Amber on my Anencephaly Blessings from Above group. Her son Caleb passed away yesterday. He was born on Aug. 6th and lived until Aug. 28th. Thank you Caleb for giving me hope.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

33 weeks

Ok, so technically I a little late for a 33 week post. It has just been such a great week that I totally forgot to post my Elspeth update. My youngest brother Jake came home from Paraguay, he served as a missionary there for the past 2 years. We had a wondeful weekend with family and I was way too tired to post until now.

A gem for you:

Let me know if this link works. It's a five minute video about a family in Brazil and their daughter with anencephaly who lived for 1 year, 8 months and 12 days. Inspirational!

Another exciting and nerdy event. I have a "birth buddy" on my anencephaly online support group. Her name is Melissa, she is a school teacher in New Orleans. She is due Sept. 30th and her baby with anencephaly is also her first pregnancy just like me. She is also planning on using a doula. I have really been looking forward to her emails where she and I can talk about anything. It's been wonderful to have a friend who is going through this too and to know that someone else has the same deep secret thoughts that I have, but I'm am too scared to say outloud.

We're going to the doctor again on Thursday so hopefully I will have more updates.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

32 weeks

This week was not only productive, but very positive too. It started with the visit to the hospital for our pre-registration paperwork and a tour. The RN who did our interview was very compassionate and understanding. It seems like everyone who has helped with this whole process has just bent over backward to make our experience the best possible under the circumstances.

The other great news from this week is that Elspeth's induction date is set! We will check into the hospital for some pre-treatment the night before the induction on Monday October 4th. Then early on Tuesday October 5th the pitocin will start. Some of you might ask, why are you having an induction? The answer is simple, anencephalic babies just don't know when to come. Some doctors believe that birth is triggered by a hormone secreted from a baby's brain. This hormone starts contractions. Since anencephalic babies don't have anything more than a brain stem, they do not initiate labor. Before the days of sonography, women who were overdue by more than 2 weeks or so were suspected to have anencephalic babies. Sometimes these women went 4+ weeks overdue because they didn't understand about anencephaly the way they do now. I have chosen to induce on Elspeth's due date instead of earlier like I had originally planned because I am hoping my body will be more ready for labor and maybe it will go a little more smoothly. We are also hoping that Elspeth will be strong enough by 40 weeks to make it out alive, literally.

Speaking of labor and birth, we had our birth class yesterday. We found a doula named Vanessa Flood through the hospital. She often teaches large group classes but agreed to have a private class with Ryan and I in our own home. Having spoken to several other people in the past I am so grateful that we had this private session for many different reasons. Vanessa made the class applicable to me and let us ask as many questions as we wanted and made it fun too. I really feel relieved after having her come over about the whole labor process. Other people that I have spoken with about their classes said that it was boring, generic and not very helpful. This is totally not the case with Vanessa, she made me feel confident and least for now. Maybe my really strange nightmares about giving birth will let up for now...I could use a break from dreaming about giving birth naked in a room full of people I knew from high school.

Here's a photo of Vanessa and I on our "birthing" balls.

I am ready for week 33 coming up this next week. So many of you have asked "how do you feel?" I feel good physically, emotionally worn out on most days. I am really lucky because I haven't gotten swollen yet and my back only hurts on days that I have worked a 12 hour shift so I can't complain. I really feel that my Heavenly Father has blessed me to have such a wonderful pregnancy and I will be eternally grateful for such a gift!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

31 weeks

This past week I have been thinking a lot about women of the past who have lost their babies due to illness or birth defects. I think the only big difference between their situation and mine is that I have known since 14 weeks of pregnancy that I would lose my baby whereas they had no anticipation of what would come. I have had this thought frequently lately; which one would be more difficult, to lose a baby without explaination or to know well in advance exactly what you were in for? I guess my conclusion is this, I am grateful for the knowledge of what is to come. I am also very grateful for this time of amazing technology and resources. 100+ years ago a mother who had a baby with anencephaly would never know what happened to her baby, she would never understand. She might not have even been permitted to see her baby. She might have even been ostracized by society for having a baby that looked different. I am so blessed to live in this time where I can understand what happened to my Elspeth and to celebrate her life with dignity.

Another frequent thought I've had is about mothers who give their babies up for adoption. I have come to empathize with these women. I have formed a newly found respect for mothers who want to give their children a better life than they can give them. I now truly can understand the feelings that they might experience. There was a tv show on ABC last fall, I can't remember the name of it, but it reunited mothers and children who were separated by adoptions. I started to watch the show because Ryan and I had begun discussing adopting a baby after two years of infertility. I watched the show a couple of times, and the running theme from the mothers was "I thought about my child everyday and wondered if I had done the right thing". I wonder if I will feel the same way...will Elspeth occupy my mind every day? I hope so! However, I hope that I will not be riddled with guilt like the mothers on the tv show.

I think I might have too much time to think. This is what happens when I have way too much time on my hands, which unfortunately is the case currently with Ryan working and going to school. Also, my apologizes to anyone who might have been offended by my last post. My intent wasn't to offend, just to express some intense feelings.

Again, thanks for reading. Elspeth and I are doing fine. We have a big week coming up for 32 weeks and I will have lots to post next week including our 32 week check up, hospital visit and birth class!

Monday, August 2, 2010

30 Weeks

Warning, this post expresses strong opinions.

I joined this group on Facebook called Anencephaly Angels and I just can't believe some of the things I have read. This site is not a pro-life site like the Anencephaly Blessing From Above online support group, that I have talked about in the past on the blog. I am sitting here reading posts from mothers who chose to induce labor after finding out their baby had anencephaly...sometimes as soon as the following week and even the next day. These women have talked about how their babies were born "asleep" at 16, 17, or 18 weeks. They aren't asleep, they have died! They died because their mothers never gave them a chance to live. The term these women have used is "pregnancy interrruption". Pregnancy interruption = abortion. Elspeth will die on her own terms and her terms alone.

Ok, I know that this post is terribly prejudiced. Looking back at myself when I found out about Elspeth's diagnosis at only 14 weeks I was devistated. However, I cannot in anyway imagine choosing to end her life at that time. I would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences that we have had together in the last 15 weeks, and there are so many more wonderful moments that are yet to come. I would have never felt her kicks, hiccups and wiggles. Ryan wouldn't have experienced any of that either.

I guess these women will never know what they missed out on. Every day carrying Elsepth is very difficult emotionally but it is worth it. Many years from know, I will be able to look back and I will know that I did everything I could for my daughter. I gave her everything in my capability and I won't have any regrets. This is the best peace of mind any mother could ask for, no regrets.

I hope this post doesn't sound angry, because I am not angry. I am grateful even more tonight for the choices that I have made. There is going to be a long road ahead of me for the next two months. I just want to thank you for your prayers, support, phone calls, letters and love. So many of you have expressed concern about saying something "wrong". I want to assure you that you have not. Saying nothing at all is more painful than saying anything. Thank you to all of my readers. There have been people who I have never expected that have been reading and some people who I have never met at all. You have all touched my heart so deeply, thank you.

Remember grief is not something that you get over...
It's something that you walk through.
My shoes are worn and my feet hurt from this walk.
-Author Unknown