Monday, August 29, 2011

No Greater Love

Wow! I have been home for an entire week. I haven't posted in a while as we have been adjusting here at home to my limited activity level. Fred's FMLA did not kick in until today, so last week I was richly blessed with some wonderful ladies who gave their time to come and help me with William all week. What a true blessing and an answer to just many of our prayers.

I am now 23 weeks pregnant and I cannot put into words what that means to my heart. Although I never doubted the power of God, but while in the hospital, my doctors were always so quick to remind me they never expected me to make it past 19 or 20 weeks with Elizabeth. Boy, are we showing them Jamie style! However, I do realize, the fact I am now 23 weeks pregnant with a very healthy baby girl and so far my body is holding well is only a true example of the power of prayer and trusting in my Lord and Savior.

Although our journey ahead is uncertain and still scary, we are comforted in the peace we find in knowing we continue to fight for Elizabeth Grace. Early on, when this journey began and we were told at 5 weeks we would loose her, I told Fred then, as well as the ER doctors,"I will NOT loose my baby". As I entered for surgery just shy of 19 weeks, I told everyone in the OR, "I will NOT loose my baby". Once again, as I was admitted to Northside, I told my OB and my specialist, "I will NOT loose my baby". I have a determination about me, but that doesn't come without the need for prayer and the Faith to trust in His plan. My strength and determination daily are drawn from Him and His many promises to me, as His child.

Amber continues to be an amazing light in my life. Some days, I just look at her in amazement. Last week was a bit of a challenge in the evenings as Fred worked to juggle work, coaching, and the needs at home. Amber rushed in from school daily, went right into doing her homework, then jumped right in to helping with William. She spent countless hours in the kitchen doing the dishes, feeding William, playing with him, and helping me wherever I needed all while maintaining her schoolwork and dedication to church. What an amazing gift God gave me 15 years ago. Little did I know, how truly amazing she really would become as she matured as a young lady. I'm so proud of her and so thankful God chose me to be her mother, what an honor.

My home nurse has resumed her weekly visits for my 17P injections. She comes every Wednesday and checks my vitals, administers the injection, and of course, we get to listen to Elizabeth. As of now, she is scheduled to come next Tuesday, September 6th to administer my first steriod injection and again on Wednesday, September 7th to adminsiter the second injection along with my weekly 17P. Of course, the fact we are now able to get the steroid injections is a huge relief.

There are no words or a blog apprpriate enough for me to express our gratitude to all the wonderful people who have reached out to us over the past 5 weeks. Our journey has been and is continuously made easier through the many calls, emails, texts, meals, help, prayers, thoughts, and visits during this time. There is nothing harder as a mother than the feeling of helplessness when it comes to your children. As I continue to follow my doctor's orders and remain on bedrest, this is made easier knowing that the ladies who have come to help did it from their hearts. They loved on William as if he were theirs and he continued to smile and be his happy self all week. For that....I am truly grateful. Fred is now home and will be home through the first of October.

As each of you remember us in your prayers, I ask that you please remember the many mommy's at the local hospitals in HRP (High Risk Pregnancy) units as well as their precious babies. I am not alone in this journey. I only pray that each of them know our God and if not, may be touched through my blog and your prayers during this time. In addition, please keep my friend, Judy, in each of your prayers as she has now embarked on her third battle with cancer. She is a fighter and I know she's not going to stop fighting now.

Before I end, I want to summarize a little of what I have learned this far. Most importantly, I have learned never to underestimate the power of our God and the power of prayer. I have said numerous times, we consider it an honor He chose us to travel this journey, and it is a greater honor to share it with each of you. In life, it is easy to get caught up in the material things (clothes, big houses, nice cars, money, jewlery, work, etc.). However, at the end of the day, all of that can be taken away in an instant. What really matters is how much you loved those around you, how much time you invested in them, and the lasting legacy you will leave them when you leave this Earth. For me, I have come to know no greater love than the love I have for my children and my husband as well as the many family and friends that surround us. Greater than that, I have come to a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior. I'm not sure you can put a price on that, other than the price of eternaly salvation in knowing I won't suffer in pain or anger, I will only be able to see our journey as one of Love, Trust, and Faith. My prayer for each of you is that you find this same peace and enjoyment in life.

With Love,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

He Will Not Leave Me Nor Forsake Me

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Today, I'm another year older. As I reflect on the past year, I am overcome with thanksgiving for the Love of Jesus Christ who has carried us, as a family, through many challenges this year. Our Faith has been tested, we have stood the test, and now we walk with Him and trust He will continue to carry us.

My day began with a wonderful visit from a sweet friend. Not only did she come visit, but she bought with her a giant butterfly balloon and some flowers. They are beautiful, but she said it symbolized my desire to fly away from this hospital back to my family. Although this is very true, I look at this butterfly tonight, and I think about my precious children. Each one of my children started as a small being inside my womb. I nurtured them, loved them, prayed for them, and carried them under my heart only to give birth to them and watch them spread their beautiful wings. In life, there are always challenges that we would like to fly away from. However, if we didn't stand the test and always flew away, what would we learn? If we had given up during our many challenges, we would have missed out on so much. We spread our wings daily, but we choose to allow God to choose when we'll use these wings to fly. My prayer is that when we do fly we fly with Grace and fly closer to Him.

Mid morning I was greeted by another sweet friend who bought with her beautiful pink princess birthday decorations, balloons, and a cake. It took me a while, and then I realized, again! For the past year, it's been blue, boy, blue, boy and nearly 16 years since I had the girly pink everywhere. Wow....we are really having another precious girl. Once she had my room decorated, she left and informed me she would drop dinner off at our house for my family to bring with them to share a dinner with me for my birthday here in the hospital. I was taken away with emotion at the simple thought and how much it meant to our family.

Early afternoon, I was SURPRISED by my husband who walked through my door with my precious boy. I had no idea he had taken a half day off work to surprise me. My heart melted and we settled into a wonderful afternoon. The three of us slipped off for a brief nap, as I snuggled with my precious boy in my bed. Again, thinking about the butterfly floating in my window sill and how one day, my precious boy will spread his wings far and wide. I pray he'll use all we have taught him, all he has seen and heard in our home, to fly along with Christ.

Early evening, my mom, dad, and my sweet Amber showed up. I was so glad to see my girl's face. I didn't see her yesterday because it was a church day, and I certainly wanted her there as opposed to this hospital. So, I was able to see her, her big smile, and hear her giggles as she and mom prepared to give me a pedicure. Again, the butterfly balloon reminded me of how my girl has already spread her wings and is soaring high along side Christ trusting Him, living for Him, and setting such a wonderful example for her brother.

Now, everyone is gone. I'm sad, so sad, and I miss them so much. But my tears only flow selfishly. I have no reason to be sad. I have been blessed with such an amazing husband, wonderful children, sweet friends, a great family, and an amazing church. We have weathered many storms together and continue to come out more blessed than ever. Now, we continue to walk our journey with our Elizabeth Grace, and what an honor it is to call her ours and be her parents. We are promised in Deuteronomy 31:8 - It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. He has not left us yet, and we know He isn't leaving us now. So today, I may be a year older, but that's another year full of blessings and for that, my tears are now tears of joy and happiness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm the Mommy....May I be Heard....

I'll try not to include too much information here....Sorry in advance....

We had another ultrasound today. Elizabeth Grace still looks fabulous. She was quite the show off. In fact, she even turned into the camera and gave us a thumbs up! She knows everything will be perfectly fine and was reassuring mommy of that same fact. My cervix did lengthen, however, I am still here in the hospital. My cervix is in no way "normal" or a healthy measurement and may not be this entire pregnancy. However, it is improving and the stitch is holding very well. While scanning me, Elizabeth Grace decided to stretch. At this point, we saw her tiny little hand slip into my cervix. Although that was neat to see, it was very scary, but proved the stability of the stitch.

Due to the volume of pressure with her so low, I spent much of the night in a flat tilted position. This worked and she readjusted herself so she wasn't so low relieving all the pressure.

I spent a lot of time yesterday in tears. This journey is so difficult in its own way, fighting for the life of my girl. However, the desire to just be heard as her mother and constantly being discounted or ignored can take its toll as well. Please don't judge me while reading through this. That's easy for someone to do if this isn't your reality. I'm simply writing as a way to express my heart right now, and I trust it will be heard with an open mind. My desires to go home are not selfish desires. They are the desire of a mother willing to sacrifice all for my child/children. Let me explain...

We tried for many years to have William. Nothing we were doing was proving successful. I spent many months loading my body with clomid in an effort to get pregnant. We met with a specialist and underwent a failed fertility treatment. At which point our hearts were devastated and we were at a loss. During the three years we were undergoing all these treatments and medications I battled with my doctors over and over. I insisted on exploratory surgery early on so as to reassure us there were no "hidden" issues. Both my OB and my specialist insisted I was not "symptomatic" of any issues and surgery was just to evasive unnecessarily. I never let up, but they never gave in. So, after LOTS of money, insurance doesn't cover infertility, and a three year emotional roller coaster, I continued my fight. My OB finally "gave in" and agreed to do the surgery. I was prepped for a 30 min exploratory procedure which entering surgery he said, I know we won't find anything, but this will put your mind at ease. 2 1/2 hours later, I woke up in recovery in pain. Once I was able to regain my oxygen levels I was moved to a room where I could see Fred. At this point, he explained to me they had found some complications....I had endometriosis, a cyst, and an issue with my left ovary. Eight weeks after surgery, I was pregnant with William.

My story here, is I had to advocate for myself and our child (which we didn't know we would have at that time). I said I would stop at nothing to try and have another child, and I meant that. Had we sat back, listened to our doctors and specialist, we would not have our William.

There are times when a patient has to advocate for themselves. As with all my pregnancies, from the moment I find out, I have always said I would stop at nothing to assure this baby has a chance. That hasn't changed. Elizabeth Grace deserves nothing short of all I have to give her. Whether I lie in a bed at home or in a hospital, I am determined to give her that chance.

My struggle lies with the fact, I receive no treatment here. I am not on monitors because both the baby and my physical vitals are exceptional. I need no nursing care. Most of the time, my nurses are begging to do something for me like get me water or change my sheets. That's how little care I need or receive. I sit alone in a cold hospital room, meals are brought to me three times a day, and I eat them alone. There is little socialization, and my muscles are deteriorating which is evident through my weight loss. My husband and my family have been excluded from this pregnancy. My ultrasounds are done at random so there is no way to allow Fred the chance to be here, he has very little time to talk and interact with Elizabeth Grace and she is deprived of the sounds and happiness of her home environment. I understand a mother sacrifices all for the life of their child, but sometimes, that doesn't require unnecessary sacrificing.

It's a hard place to be in. Not wanting to make the wrong decision, but trusting yourself and your Faith to make the right decisions. Ultimately, our God is in control. He is how I DO manage to make it from one day to the next along with knowing that's one more day our sweet girl has had a chance to grow. I minimize none of this. I just feel I'm not heard by anyone. I feel I have no say or control over my precious baby girl or my own body or health and that scares me. Each morning I wake up, and each night I go to sleep, I am the Mommy. All I want is a chance to be heard.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Will Get Through This Together

When walking a journey of this nature, it is so easy to become a bit self-centered. At times, I do find myself sitting here feeling sorry for me. However, I am quickly reminded of the life within me that so desperately needs me and that's why I am here. I hear my children's voices on the phone and am reminded of the love that awaits me at home. At the end of each day, I hear the voice of my husband remind me all will be well, and I am reminded of his heart and it hurts too.

So, no, it's not all about me. There is an amazing man behind the scenes keeping us all together. That man is my husband. I felt the need to make my blog today about him. He seems so forgotten, however, he is the rock we are all leaning on and the glue keeping us all together. Just as my heavenly father is carrying us and holding us tightly, so is my husband. The blessing here....neither one is letting go.

In the past 10 years I have spent with Fred, he rarely shows emotion. I guess that's the "man" in him. However, as the years have gone by, I can honestly say, I can read him better than he reads himself at times.

Raising a teenager is not easy. However, as we have raised Amber together, Fred has always demonstrated patience and love for her in so many ways. Always reassuring me, "we will get through this together, as a family".

I recall last summer as I was discharged after having William. As we sat in our room waiting on the nurse to "wheel" me out, I couldn't compose myself enough to enter the halls. I was a mess. I vividly remember Fred grabbing my two arms and looking straight into my eyes as he whispered to me "be strong, we'll get through this one step at a time together". So, as he promised, we did.

In March, we had our house fire. As I cried in disbelief and fear, once again, he held me in his arms and once again reassured me "we will get through this together". The days were long, but we did, as a family, weather that storm.

As we enter this journey and begin walking this path, my husband reminds me daily "we will get through this together". He is consistent in his devotion to me as his wife, and his role as the father to our two children at home. I do worry about my children, I am their mother. However, I don't worry about them being safe, loved, and nurtured. I know in my absence, God has given me and my children an amazing man that carries the load with so much more patience than I ever could. Never once has he become frustrated. Through the long days, many, many miles traveled to and from the hospital, and long work days, he always shows up with a smile that reassures me "we will get through this together". More today than ever, those words ring so true to me.

As a family, we are walking this journey. So in my selfish moments, I am reminded of the beautiful lives that await me at home; the two children that light up when they come in my room to visit, and the amazing husband that just simply picked up right where I left off and hasn't missed a beat! So as each day passes, I know beyond a doubt, just as our heavenly father is holding tight to us, we, as a family "will get through this together".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Forever a Mother of Three

WARNING...I'm a bit honest in this one....

As I sit in this hospital room day in and day out, there is so much time for reflection. Of course, I do spend a lot of time missing my kids and what was our normal, struggling to realize and accept our "normal" as it is now. I recognize this is temporary, just a season in life, however, that doesn't minimize the pain my heart feels as I watch my babies walk down the hall each day as I tell them good bye.

I am entering my third week in the hospital. Three weeks have gone by that I haven't kissed my children goodnight right before they closed their eyes, rocked my precious baby boy, prepared dinner for my family, snuggled next to my husband as we drifted off to sleep, or even simply listening to the ins and outs of our sweet home such as Amber singing with her earphones on, or William jabbering away with his toys. It is easy for one to tell me "this too shall pass", but for this mother of three, the passing drifts by so slow.

As with any mother, mother's are defined by the role they play in their children's lives and the legacy they leave. When I became a mother 15 years ago, as young as I was, I was determined to set an example for my daughter that she would forever carry with her. I wanted her to see in me my determination to succeed, the unconditional love I had for her, and most importantly the presence of God in me. For many years, it was just her, my precious Amber. So each day, I worked toward making sure she felt safe, secure, loved, and knew God. She was my rock, and in many ways, she taught me far more than I think I've taught her. She has taught me patience, grace, and how to truly deeply trust in God.

God saw fit to allow me to become a mother of two. Although so many years past between Amber and William, my role as a mother never changed. Except now, I took on this role alongside being a wife to my Husband. Once again, I stand amazed at what he, even at such a young age, has taught me. From the beginning, he taught us strength, patience, and most importantly the power of prayer and trusting God. As he laid so peacefully in the NICU, we struggled with our heavy hearts leaving him daily/nightly. However, we relied on God and prayer to carry us. Even today, our precious William teaches us to laugh at the small stuff, and even through struggles, there is an innocence in all of us.

Now, this day, I am a mother of three. Although our Elizabeth Grace is still growing in my womb, she is ours. As the days and weeks pass by, I struggle with trying to be a mother to three children at a time when one of those children so desperately relies on me. Time and time again doctors, nurses, friends, and family have told me I cannot sit here and "worry" or "think" about my children at home. How can anyone expect a mother of one, two, or three, to turn the switch to "off". As a mother, we instinctively live to provide for, nurture, and love our children despite life's obstacles or challenges that may stand in our way. I recognize my role in assuring Elizabeth Grace is born strong and healthy, but don't I still have that same role with Amber and William?

This journey has been and continues to be a roller coaster of emotions. I'll be honest, there are just some days, I don't want to face this "normal" or another day of riding a roller coaster trying to make it "all" work. However, even from this bed, miles away from my home and my children, I am a mother of three, and I will forever be a mother of three.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The One and Only Physician

The past few weeks have been very difficult for me. I have struggled so much with my emotions about being in the hospital away from my precious children and my sweet husband. Although I know my children are well, and my husband is truly amazing, I'm still the mommy. The mommy in me wants to be there, longs to be there, and desires to do all that mommy's do. However, I have had to accept that just can't be right now. I am thankful that I see my precious children every day, which is much more than most women here. I am thankful for all the prayers, thoughts, and help we have received in the past few weeks. I am most thankful for my Lord and Savior who has carried us this far, and I know he isn't letting us go anytime soon.

I had a visit from my general OB this morning. This was not a routine visit, but a visit out of care and concern for me being here. He sat with me a while, and then began to be forthright and honest with me about our precious Elizabeth Grace. As we talked, he told me how he had been in contact with my doctors in Florida. There were three doctors who saw and/or treated me while there. He said after speaking with them, there was a common consensus I would not make it out of the 19th week before delivering our precious girl to the Lord. Once we arrived back in Georgia, I immediately saw my general OB for a follow up after the long trip home. At that point, I sensed worry, but again, at that time, he was shielding us from what we didn't realize was the seriousness of our situation. He told me when he sent me to the specialists and admitted me to Labor and Delivery, he just knew in 48 hours he would deliver our girl. All indications were I was developing and infection and my stitch was weakening to the pressure of my membranes. After 48 hours, once again, they were shocked. They moved me to the High Risk Unit still believing by weeks end, we would deliver our precious girl. He said no doctor reviewing my chart felt she would make it to 20 weeks.

As we approach Monday we are entering week 21. Elizabeth Grace, is growing ahead of her schedule, maintaining an amazing heartrate, and plays and plays. She plays so much at times in the evening I have to rock in the bed to calm her and most times, the nurses have to chase her to get her heartrate. My blood pressure is "phenomenal" never fluctuating, and I have never run a temperature, and all blood work indicates no infection. In fact, the beginnings of the infection seen last Monday is no longer there. That brings me to where I am today. There have been six doctors professionally feel our girl wouldn't make it. Our journey is far from over, but each day draws us closer to Him and His promises to us. We could not be more proud to travel this journey as her mother and father. We are brought to tears, He chose us and our children to be the testimony of His Grace and the power of Prayer.

Although this journey is difficult, God has proven Himself the one and only physician. He knows Elizabeth Grace's destiny and He is the only one who knows how long she'll remain in my womb, in our arms, or with Him. My human flesh becomes scared at times, and I do cry a lot. However, I am always comforted by the Love only He can give and the Peach only He can provide.


Friday, August 5, 2011

The Source of Our Strength

In April, 2011, we were told, to our surprise, we would be adding a new member to our family. Little did we at that time, how much this surprise would forever change our lives, our Faith, and our hearts.

At 5 weeks pregnant, I experienced quite a bit of bleeding. Fred immediately rushed me to the hospital to find out what was going on with me and/or our precious baby. After many tests, monitoring, and observation, we were told I had a subchorionic hemotoma and we would most likely loose this baby. After seeing a tiny seed with a beating heart, I was not ready to accept this to be it. The ride home from the hospital was difficult. As I stroked William's hair in his car seat as he drifted off to sleep, I couldn't stop crying at the thought that there was a life inside of me and I felt at a loss as to how to save this life God had given us. Later that evening, I was reminded by Him that our children are not really ours, they are His. He loans them to us temporarily, and when He is ready, He calls them home to Him.

Selfishly, I continued to question God. As if that was my place to do so. A week passed and we had a viability scan with my general OB. I was terrified as to what we may find at this visit. However, we found a heartbeat and a growing baby inside of me. Again, I was humbled and brought to tears. We were told we would take it day by day and do another viability scan at 8 weeks. That time came around and once again, we entered the doctor's office scared. And....once again, there it was, a beating heartbeat inside a beautiful growing baby. For a while, my heart would smile and we would begin the "fun" part of pregnancy.

I spent the next several weeks sick as I could be, but continued to hear and see a healthy baby growing inside of me.

We decided mid July we would make our normal summer trip to Florida to visit family and friends. However, before leaving, we had to coordinate a home nurse to administer my 17 P injections which my doctor ordered to prevent preterm labor. This was proving to be difficult, but we were finally able to schedule a nurse to see us in Florida. I began the injections on July 24th, right at 17 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Wednesday morning of that week I woke up having some intense intermittent cramping in my lower abdomen that didn't seem to let up. I contacted my OB and they recommended I be seen right away. Fred took me to the hospital and fortunately, my previous OB was on call and was able to see me in Labor and Delivery. After an examination we learned my cervix had begun to then to 50%. We knew this was not a good thing so early on, so once again, we were terrified. He performed an ultrasound and we asked if he could tell us what we were having. After several minutes, it was very clear we were having a precious baby girl. At that time, we thought her name would be Madison Elizabeth, however, we have since changed that and now she is our precious Elizabeth Grace.

After consulting with several doctors on call as well as my OB in Georgia, it was agreed that I was not stable enough to return home. I was referred to Shands, a high risk hospital, and admitted within hours. On Friday, I was taken in for a cerclage placement when we discovered I had dilated to 2. Again, as I laid awake in the OR hearing the concern in the doctor's voices, I was overwhelmed with fear, while at the same time comforted by a peace that only God could give me. They reassured me they would do the best they could while trying to avoid both my membranes and the baby. For a brief second, I thought, it's not "the baby" this is our precious girl, Elizabeth Grace.

The placement went as well as could be expected under the circumstances and I spent the next day and a half recovering. Saturday night, the doctors felt they had done all they could do and were satisfied with my stability and said we could return home. We spent Sunday resting and begin our trip home on Monday. The trip went well. Amber listened to music and William watched Mickey and Elmo the whole ride home. I began to feel some pressure and cramping so I contacted my doctor. He immediately requested I be seen upon our return just to double check everything. We had an ultrasound and discovered my cervix had shortened again. He sent me to my specialists to perform another ultrasound. During this ultrasound I began contracting and the specialists immediately send me for admission to Labor and Delivery. We would spend the next two days uncertain and scared. We knew God could do anything, but 19 weeks was just way too early to deliver our precious girl. On Tuesday, I was moved to HRP (High Risk Pregnancy Unit) and given what we were told was a permanent room.

Nights passed and my heart continued to break. It broke for my precious unborn daughter, it broke for my precious babies because I missed them so very much, and it broke for the future which was unknown to us. I had plenty of time to sink myself deep into thought and prayer and once again He proved faithful. I could hear Him speak to me reminding me, our Elizabeth Grace's plan was already decided.

God's plan for all our lives is defined long before we are even conceived. Our human nature tends to want to change or control that plan, when it's not our place. My prayers were to carry my precious baby to term, hold her in my arms, and carry her home. However, I soon realized my prayer needed to be for the strength to accept His plan and to praise him in the meantime.

Today is Friday, and it looks like things are slightly improving in my body and it's efforts to carry our baby. We remain hopeful I can return home to my precious family and continue bed rest with my children and my husband at my side. Although Elizabeth Grace's future remains unknown to us, it is known to Him. Should He decide to call her to Him, we trust he will give us the strength we need to praise him through that time.

Each day she teaches us to love big and cherish every moment. Each time I feel her move, I am thankful for that day and that moment with her. Fred and I are honored God chose us to be her parents.

For now, we continue to pray and trust Him. That is our source of strength.