Monday, October 31, 2011

Hanging On....By a Thread!!!

We have now entered a much anticipated phase of this pregnancy. We saw our specialist today. Once his surprise, I am still pregnant! Yes, I am, very pregnant. I am now 32 weeks pregnant. This of course is a milestone we never thought we would see. Elizabeth Grace is doing great and measured today at 4 lbs and 12 oz. We were able to get a few quick glimpses at her on 3D and she does have some chubby little cheeks. Needless to say, we are thrilled to be where we are, see her doing so well, and anxiously anticipating the coming weeks.

My specialist is allowing my OB to make many of the calls from this point forward with regards to timing. Neither one will be doing any FFN tests anymore as they feel these are no longer relevant. My OB will make the final decisions on stitch removal, inductions, and c-section as those times approach in the weeks ahead.

As of now, here is where we stand. My OB does not want to remove the stitch until I am 37 weeks. This puts us into the first week of December. At that point, they will see if I go into labor. If not, I will be released and sent home. If by week 39 I have not gone into labor, he will schedule a c-section due to how big they anticipate Elizabeth to be. My 17P injections will continue until week 36, however, I will remain on the Heperin until we narrow her birth down to within a day or so.

We did learn today, she has dropped again since last week and I am feeling every bit of it. This indicates the contractions, cramping, and pressure I am feeling are productive. Essentially, if this continues, we could be lookng at another week or so. So in the Ashford home, we are washing little girl clothes and blankets, packing a little girl bag for the hospital, and washing the infant car seat. The entire time, we continue to stand in amazement we are even at this point in this journey and are so very thankful to be here. Not to mention EXCITED!

Needless to say, things are getting busy around here for the first time in a while. Although he still insist on bedrest, I am slowly pulling the reigns back a bit in an effort to regain a bit of normalcy around our home before we welcome Elizabeth Grace. By 34 weeks, I am able to slowly regain my strength and normal routine again. I anticipate this will be difficult, but with lots of patience I will get back to normal. The good news is I have only gained 9 pounds the entire pregnancy. I feel as though I've gained much more, but the scale says different. That's never been a point of focus anyway, so it's just a side note. LOL

We are looking forward to the day when we can share our precious miracle with each of you as we know each of you have played a large role in carrying us through this journey. When going through an extended journey of this nature (life saving surgery for our baby, 14 weeks of bedrest and counting, financial burdens and loss) it would be easy to tear through a family or a marriage. But in the midst of this storm, God saw fit to draw us so amazingly close to one another. We have learned the significance of prayer and leaning on each other. We have come to value the small things such as being together and laughing at each other. We have learned the material things won't buy you happiness, but time together, prayer together, and love for each other will. Our marriage is unbelievably changed forever in ways we never imagined. I knew I married my best friend 4 years ago, however, I never really understood that until these past few months. He has dried so many of my tears, held me in his arms when I was most afraid, and lifted my spirits when I felt like I couldn't fight any more. He has repeatedly told me how beautiful I was (despite the grossness I feel on bedrest). He has fought alongside me in his own way keeping our family together, stable, happy, and fed (haha). For all these reasons, I would not change a thing that has happened in the past 3 months.

So as we move forward, we continue to do so with our hearts filled with gratitude. We enter November, with an abundance of thanksgiving. Although we continue to wait patiently, we are hanging on...literally by a thread!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Precious Girls and the Power of Prayer

I wanted to post a link to a very special "Blog Friend". This is such a precious couple who will welcome their precious daughter Lucy Jane (LJ) in just under 2 weeks. Lucy has CHD. I am unsure as to specifics of this disorder, but you can read through their blog. Essentially, she will have to undergo some major surgeries and weeks in the NICU to prepare her to go home with her mommy and daddy.

They will be at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. My mother and father were blessed to have met them through my mom's cousin. Although we know she has some of the nations leading doctors, we also know there is a Greater Physician who will be holding LJ's hand as she enteres this world.

Please pray for her mommy and daddy for strength, courage, and Faith in the days and weeks ahead. Also, please pray for strength for LJ, and guidance for all the doctors. Their prayer, and our prayer is that LJ will be able to go home by Christmas! Wouldn't that be a sweet Christmas present!

The link to their blog is:

We know first hand the awesome power of prayer. Both our precious girls, LJ, and Elizabeth Grace will carry with them a lifetime of testimony of God's Love and the power of prayer that will carry them through into the precious little girls they will both grow to become.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simply Proud and Amazed

Well, I spent 30 minutes the other evening posting a blog update and it somehow got lost in blog world. So, we'll try this again.

We finally made it to 30 weeks! Praise the Lord. We saw our specialist on Monday and learned our itty, bitty (or so we thought) girl weighs a HUGE 4 lbs. 2 oz. She is measuring in the 73% for her gestational age, measuring at 31 weeks and 5 days. She does, however, have her daddy's trademark head, which measured at 33 weeks and 4 days. She was sticking her tongue out at us! Guess she thinks she is funny. We had a complete anatomy scan and everything looks fantastic.

My specialist will continue to conduct the FFN test every two weeks. I have had 3 and all have been negative. However, due to the significant changes in both my funneling and my cervix, he had me promise last week I would agree to be readmitted if I got a positive. Once again, prayers answered. My FFN this week was NEGATIVE. Appears our little girl has decided to settle in for a while longer. She continues to leave my doctors and nurses speechless and at a loss for an explanation as to why I have not delivered her yet. My only response...PRAYER and FAITH!!!

I received a second round of steroid injections for her lungs yesterday and today as well as my weekly 17P injection. No, three shots are not fun, but boy, are they worth it knowing they are for her benefit.

So, that brings us to "The Plan"...if one even exist with this little girl. I will be 36 weeks the Monday after Thanksgiving. I will then be admitted to Labor and Delivery for stitch removal. Considering I am at nearly 3 cm dilated now, both doctors believe I should go pretty quick once the stitch is cut. However, 1 in 4 women will form scar tissue due to the length of time the stitch has been in (for me an eternity) resulting in a c-section or forced dilation. We are prayerful we can avoid a c-section, but as we have done from the beginning, we will trust in God's plan and God's plan alone. Our goal is to get Elizabeth Grace her as safely as possible. So it would appear, she may just be a Thanksgiving baby.

I have written in many of my posts about the emotional roller coaster ride this journey has taken us through. Although we wouldn't change a moment of it and remain faithful and blessed for having traveled this journey, we are emotionally exhausted. We have gone from preparing ourselves for a "baby loss" to preparing for an extended NICU stay, to now the reality, we may actually bring our precious Elizabeth home from the hospital with us.

I long for the moment I see her eyes for the first time and feel her precious cheeks on mine while holding her tiny fingers. I know we'll share in the normal emotions of meeting our precious girl for the first time, however, I am overcome with emotion at what I may feel looking into her eyes knowing how close we came to losing her. She has not even arrived yet, and she has already taught you, me, my children, and my family the importance of prayer, the idea of trusting in what you cannot see or understand, and accepting only one plan, the plan of God and using that to praise Him even in the storm.

What I have learned the most is that you should not reach out to God only in your time of need. He does tell us He is there and will answer our prayers. However, we have to accept his will may not always be our will and trust in Him to answer us as only He knows what is best. These days, my prayers consist of so much thanksgiving. Of course, I always pray for protection for my children and my husband as well as peace and comfort. However, our lives have been so richly blessed by many of you in ways you may never know. How can I not be thankful and give thanks to the one who has made that happen?

If it took this journey to draw me closer to Him, realize the strength of my commitment to my husband and my children, and to reaffirm my Faith, I will raise my hand first again! I will beg and plead for Him to choose me to travel this same journey a million more times.

We still do not know what the coming weeks hold in store for us. But we do know, our prayers have been answered, and He isn't finished yet. My prayer for each of you is that you will find in your trials a sense of peace and comfort. An understanding of how to use your trials to the benefit of your growth in walking with Him. I promise, he will not give you trials without a purpose. It is up to you to choose to find that purpose and use it to grow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Looking Forward

Today marks 29 weeks! Today also marks another visit to the doctor. We saw our specialist today and all is the same. He has begun doing the fetal fibernectin test, which he will do every two weeks. Essentially, this is a swab test that will indicate if there is a protein present which is released when the membranes are leaking or when labor seems imminent. I have had three done and they have all been negative. The ultrasound didn't really reveal anything "new" other than very slight buldging past the stitch, but nothing that seemed "new" or concerning to him above the situation in general. He would love for me to be hospitalized, but is willing to continue as we are since things are working (the bedrest from home). However, at this point, things become a little more risky since she is growing. So, he made me promise that once I get a positive fetal fibernectin test I will agree to be readmitted.

So, the plan now is...I will be 30 weeks on Monday. He has ordered steroid injections to be administered again next Tuesday and Wednesday with my home nurse. He said typically these are administered at 24 weeks and rarely administered twice because most mothers deliver shortly after administering the steroids. However, we have proven this different (well...God has proven this different). So they can be administered 4 to 6 weeks apart because they only last about that long. This will be the last time I receive them. In addition, we see him again Monday afternoon of which he will do another fetal fibernectin test, measurements for the baby, and anatomy scan. Needless to say, next week marks another milestone (30 weeks), as well as a busy week for me and Elizabeth. The further we go with each week is promising and now for Elizabeth it makes the difference in a ventilator or a simple c-pap to supplement oxygen (if she comes early). I'm convinced we will carry her to December! She did show signs of practice breathing and sucking in the ultrasound which made my specialist very happy.

We had a wonderful weekend here at home. I spent much of this morning helping Amber work on her Science project "stuff". I think she and I agree...Science projects are not cool! William decided to experiment using the big boy potty and actually did it! That was hilarious. I figured if he can go get a diaper when he has a stinky then he can begin becoming exposed to the potty! LOL

Amber has her sophmore homecoming this weekend and seems really excited about that. She's really keeping us busy (or better said...keeping Fred busy). I do what I can from the couch, and it isn't always easy! She has a chorus performance next week, Fall Follies for youth choir in 3 weeks, and youth retreat in 3 weeks. Needless to say, I keep a calendar close at hand juggling all her events, my many, many doctor appointments, bills (ewwww), and the wonderful help coming in daily to help me at home. I long for the day when I am once again a BUSY BUSY mommy. I guess I took much of that for granted in the past, and don't foresee that happening again. I can't wait to be "busy" again running errands, grocery shopping, cleaning my house, and chasing my three kids around. It's been a long several months, and our journey isnt' over, however, each day reveals more blessings and answered prayers than I ever thought I would ever deserve. So, for that, I wouldn't change a thing.

That pretty much sums up the Ashford household! As the weeks move forward, we realize how blessed we have been and continue to be. Each of our children teach us so much about patience, love, life, and prayer. I draw much of my strength from the three children God has blessed me with. I have said it before...we continue to be honored God chose us to be Elizabeth's mommy and daddy and chose our family to travel this journey.

I listened to Joel O'steen Sunday. He compared our lives to that of a window in a car. He said the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what has happened in our past is so small compared to looking to our future (along those lines). I truly believe that. I don't discard the "past" few months, however, when I look forward, I see nothing but great things. Great things for my children, my husband, me, and my family. I will forever look back on our journeys and trials and reflect on God's Grace during those times. However, I think looking forward offers so much Hope and Joy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

No Burden Is Too Great

I thought I would write a quick blog asking for lots of prayers tonight. I see my specialist tomorrow. If you read my last post, you know our appointment Thursday was not "great". So tomorrow is a result of that and a chance for our specialist to follow up to offer more direction. Specifically, I am asking for the following:

1. Please pray the stitch is holding and my membrances are not buldging past it. As of now, they have NOT ruptured. If they appear via ultrasound to be buldging, I will have to immediately be admitted to Labor and Delivery for stitch removal and/or c-section. We are thankful and blessed tomorrow will mark 28 weeks!

2. Please pray for our hearts and comfort tonight so we don't worry. We have come this far because of each of your prayers, love, and encouragement. We know He will be holding on to our hearts tonight as well as tomorrow.

3. Please pray for Fred as he returns to work tomorrow. I'm sure he's ready to get back to the routine of work, but has expressed numerous times how anxious he is about leaving me/us at home, especially now that things have taken a turn.

4. Please pray for Elizabeth Grace and her continued growth. She's done so well and continues to do her part. I struggle daily with feeling as though I am failing her b/c she has fought so hard and is doing so great right inside mommy!

I'm not usually one to define specific prayer request, but it was on my heart tonight as the evening draws near. I'm anxious about Fred returning to work, I'm anxious about our appointment tomorrow, and prayerful for William and Amber as they have and continue to do so well, despite all the craziness these weeks have brought. It's a large burden, but I am reminded daily, my burdens don't compare to the burden He carried when he climbed on the cross so that I may be eternally forgiven.

Please know how much we love each of you, and are so very thankful for your friendships, prayers, love, support, encouragement, and kind words. I'll update tomorrow when I have an opportunity.

With Love,