Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Postpartum Depression

So I would like to talk about the white elephant that's in my room, life and world. And the white elephant that's quite possibly in your room, life and world too. I'm talking about postpartum depression. Right now I am 16 weeks postpartum. 16 weeks out from delivering our rainbow baby. If your not familiar with the term rainbow baby it means a baby born to a family after they've lost a baby. Walking the path of pregnancy after loss can be so hard but also very rewarding. 
Last April I went through the classes to become a Stillbirthday doula and learned about the 4th trimester. Which is the weeks following delivery. And strangely enough I completely forgot I had learned about it and didn't prepare myself for the postpartum phase of pregnancy. See, back in November of 2010 we had a baby. Our baby, Hope Elna didn't make it. She had a lethal form of skeletal dysplasia. So 4 years after Hope we found ourselves expecting our rainbow baby. We had a great pregnancy physically with no problems except for the emotional ones that come with carrying a baby after you've had a loss. There were days I was absolutely positive there was something wrong with our baby or that something had happened and I found myself reaching for the doppler to hear that beautiful heartbeat. At our 20 week ultrasound we were told our rainbow baby was totally healthy and showed no signs of having what Hope had. Also, we were told we were expecting a girl. The ultrasound doctor said he was 98% sure. We already knew what "her" name would be. We were naming our rainbow after my best friend. We went home that day and told our kids we were having a girl. Our son cried. This baby would be his 5th sister with no brother in sight. He asked me if it was a misunderstanding. I told him usually there are no misunderstandings with ultrasounds. We also announced to all of our family and friends that we were having a girl and shared the name we had picked out. Fast forward 19 weeks and we were at the hospital having a c-section after labor kept stalling. I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant when our beautiful rainbow was born. And we got one of the biggest most amazing surprises of our entire marriage. We had a boy!! I cried tears of joy and surprise and my husband was over the moon happy to have 2 sons. Our kids, family and friends couldn't believe it. The whole hospital stay I was on cloud nine. Just feeling immensely loved and blessed. So in love with our new son. On Valentine's Day we were released from the hospital to go home to start living life with this new little guy that we weren't expecting or ready for. Everything we had was for the little girl we were told we would be having. My closet was full of girl clothes. Almost all of which were given to us. I didn't expect to be grieving what was supposed to be and what we were prepared for. Some of my fellow baby loss friends asked me how I was doing and how I was feeling since we had a boy instead of a girl. At first I was totally fine. But once we got home I then understood why they asked me that. I was grieving a baby girl and the idea of that little girl that in all reality didn't even exist and never had. Then there were the feelings of actually bringing our baby home alive and well when we didn't get to do that with Hope. I know you may be thinking "goodness, this woman has a healthy baby and should be happy and not having any of these feelings". But I've learned that these feelings are normal and something I need to work through. On top of all of that I was hurting from my c-section, not looking forward to my husband returning to work which was 6 hours away from us at the time and dealing with some very stressful relationships that left me sad, hurting and broken. All of this combined to push me into postpartum depression. I never expected it. I was blindsided by the sadness I was feeling. Here I was with the most amazing baby boy who was safe and sound in my arms but I was sad and living in a fog. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to get past the tears and fear I was living in. I thought I could work my way through all of the crazy stuff that just would not stop running through my head. I couldn't stop thinking about how fast my older kids have grown and how fast our rainbow was already growing too. I didn't want to miss one single second with him since he is the last biological child we will ever have. I hated that my husband was missing so much of our little ones first weeks by being away at work for 2 weeks at a time. And I was feeling the void in my heart that was once filled by someone that had been there for me through my whole rainbow pregnancy and after we lost Hope. A person that was so special to me. 
Then there are the hormones. Oh the lovely postpartum hormones. It takes at least 6 weeks for them to start leveling out. Also, when you're expecting a rainbow it is such an exciting time and huge roller coaster of emotions. We had these amazing things planned out for when our baby got here. I was living on this insane high that came with this beautiful time. Then all of a sudden he was here and life got very quiet very fast. It was time to move forward and nurture this new little life we were blessed with. 
But I was stuck. Everyday for almost the first 3 weeks of our baby's life I cried. I was in such a fog that I don't even remember most of what happened during that time. Eating was even challenging. I had no appetite until dinner time and even then I had to force myself to eat. When your nursing a baby you need food. I even noticed that eating helped me feel better emotionally. Not completely better but some. So I just pushed myself to trudge forward thinking I'd get through this soon enough. Well, it wasn't getting better. I think it was actually getting worse. So my husband, my best friend, family members  and some other dear friends that have had rainbows as well kept checking on me and encouraging me to talk to my doctor and see about getting some meds to help me get through this and help me feel more normal. They all said there is no shame in needing some help. The day after my 2 week postpartum checkup when I had told my doctor how I was feeling and actually couldn't even get through talking to him without crying, I called his office and let him know I wanted to try the meds he had offered me. I had to make the decision to get help. I had to call and tell him I was ready to feel better. The decision was there for me to make and I took a leap and asked for help. I was ready to feel better and beyond ready to actually be able to enjoy my new son. When I did I was told there are some side effects that can go along with the meds I was taking. So my best friend and I set up a plan in case the worst case scenario side effects actually happened. Thankfully they didn't and I began to see an improvement a few days after starting the meds. As of now I've been on the meds for 14 weeks. I'm not crying, scared or sad all of the time. I can enjoy my days, my husband and my kids. I can truly smile at this amazing baby. Even if I didn't want to take the meds for myself I wanted to take them for him. He deserves to have a mommy that isn't blindly stumbling through everyday. He deserves a mommy that finds joy in the milestones that are being reached. 

I'm sharing my experience so that you will know it's ok. There are others of us that understand and are here for you.You might be stumbling upon this post at just the right time. I know I found some blog posts at just the right time when I needed them the most. If you are, I pray and hope that it gives you the courage to do something that's best for you to help you get through this. I also pray you have the support of a close friend or anyone that understands and is willing to sit and talk with you and enter into the craziness that you are feeling right now. 
This is what my amazing best friend did for me. 

So if your living with postpartum depression and are having a hard time asking for help I want to encourage you. You, yes you beautiful mommy, deserve to feel good and happy!! You deserve that amazing little child you have in your arms and you deserve to enjoy him or her. Maybe meds aren't the answer for you. There are other ways that might help you like eating healthier foods and getting plenty of rest and sleep. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to get a ton of stuff done. Enjoy this time. Skin to skin with your baby is amazing and such a great way to bond and be close. Put baby in a carrier or a stroller and go outside. And please don't be afraid to call your family or friends and say I need you. I need some company! I need someone to help so it's not so quiet and so my mind won't be so prone to wander. And don't forget about your doctor or midwife. Let them know you are having a hard time and see what they can recommend. 

This part is for those of you who have a friend that recently had a baby. If you have a friend that you have noticed a change in since her baby was born reach out to her. Don't let her feel and be alone. Even if you need to sit with her during the night or her roughest part of the day when she's wide awake and sitting there in tears feeling all alone. My hardest times were in the morning when the house was quiet and in the middle of the night when I was wide awake. Let her cry and talk. Sometimes the words make no sense or we have a hard time even forming the right words and sentences that we want to say. But just the act of getting them out helps so much. Even letting those tears out can help too. And hopefully with your support she will reach out and ask for the help she needs or wants but doesn't feel like she can ask for. Once I reached out I felt so much better already. 

Here is a great article that calls us to stand together and for each other in our rough times. 

7 ways to encourage a friend struggling with depression

This blog post is so special. I think of my best friend, Kristen when I read it. My cup runeth over! 
Why women need each other

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Here I am...

Here I am...sitting on the precipice of letting her go. Things are kind of ok now. I no longer feel like everyone I meet needs to know that we lost our precious baby or that they need to know our story. Hope is sacred! Hope is ours! Hope was here and she is real! But even more important, she is safe, loved and happy. I'm finally feeling like its ok to not let our loss rule over me. That it's ok to be happy again and enjoy the life we have. And that it's ok to not feel guilty anymore. 
Although none of this means I will ever forget her or forget all that's happened. Or that I will stop noticing the gaping hole in our family that was left by her passing. It's all changed me and shaped me into who I am now. That hole is always there staring at me, reminding me. Nope, forgetting is impossible!!!
Just like a couple of weeks ago I took a picture of our 4 earthly kids at the lake. They were all kneeling on a bench and looking out over the water. After I took the pictures I went back to look at them and saw an empty spot right next to Audrey that just naturally was there on its own. A spot that should be filled with a chubby little toddler with long brown hair. A beautiful little girl that should be here to wrap her sweet little arms around us. Hope should be here calling me mommy, nestled at my breast, getting spoiled by her siblings, telling us what color is her favorite, coloring us pictures, making up her own adorable funny versions of words, cheering her sister on at cross country meets, cuddling with her daddy and keeping him warm like our 4 other kiddos have when they were little. But for now, we can only imagine and dream of doing those things. How I long for the day when I can hear her voice when she finally calls me mommy. I want to look at her face and tell her all the things this mommy has desperately wanted to tell her baby....

Almost 3 years ago I never thought this moment or these feelings could come. I read that it can take up to 3 years for all the different phases of grief to take their course. Reading that, a week away from Hope's departure from my womb to a very short 32 minutes on earth and then into Jesus' arms...how could I possibly live 3 years??!! Let alone the rest of my life in such agony?!! What would I do?? How could I do this?? Why did I have to do this? Why me? Why our family? Why so much hurt, emptiness, brokenness?Who am I and who Am I in Christ since this? Who is this woman that's still suppose to be a wife, mom and friend? How in the world was I going to fulfill all of the demands and normal day to day needs that my family and everyone else had for me when I was filled with a yearning for Hope so strong it seemed I might die before it could possibly get better? And why so many unanswered questions? Having to live with all of the things a woman's body goes through after having a baby and having no baby to need those things is just as hard as the loss. It's a cruel physical reminder that the baby that was meant to be nurtured isn't there to need nurturing! A cruel reminder that the baby I prayed over, carried for 32 weeks and wanted so badly to hold and love was gone.  If there was an easy button for this part I would have gladly used it! 
All I've known is being a mommy. My biggest fear has always been the possibility of losing one of my children and that fear became a reality. I still don't know exactly why such a tragedy is a part of our family and journey. And I'd like to say I embrace every possible moment now or hug my kids a little longer or make the most of everything with them. I sure try. Especially moments when I know I need their hugs or they need mine. But sometimes life is still so hard to get a hold on. The damage is done and sometimes it still hurts just a little too much to fully love and live. But I am sure trying and catching small glimpses of the beauty that God gives everyday. And everyday those small glimpses seem to grow a little more. They come in the form of laughter, smiles, fun, enjoyment and beauty within my family and friends. The real kind of laughter that makes you lose your breath and cry tears of merriment. The kind of smile that doesn't have to be faked so everyone on the outside thinks your fine when your truly dying inside. It's a real smile that's not masking the hurt from the loss. The kind of fun, enjoyment and beauty that only comes from God when He peels back some layers of calluses that are built up on the heart that's been shut off and closed down for too long. It's beating again. Breaking free! One beautiful moment at a time! Sometimes that's scary but more and more it is freeing this broken heart to live and truly be alive! 

Beautiful moments:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birth Day

Well, I think I've put this off long enough. For some reason I just didn't want to sit down and put this in my blog. I've been completely stuck on this part for the last 2 years. Trying to come to terms with it all. Trying to find healing and reason as to why it happened the way it did. Trying to find nuggets of peace. So that in my heart and everyday life I can start to be a part of life again. I can truly live in the beautiful moments that are right in front of me every single day.
Today is a beautiful day and I feel that I am moving in an important direction in my grief journey. And this is part of it. I'm going to take what I wrote in my Hope journal and put it right here. Might add some stuff here and there. Hindsight kind of stuff.

November 19th 2010
Hope's Birthday

We had no idea that today would be Hope's birthday. I woke up around 2:20am and started to roll over off of my right side to my left so I could go to the restroom. When I got to my left side I felt a huge gush. My water broke. It was everywhere. The amount of fluid from having polyhydramnios was just crazy. We had the head of the bed raised to help with heartburn and help relieve some of the pressure on my lungs from the fluid. And even though the head of the bed was higher the fluid still came up under my shoulder. So, I call to Ernie and tell him my water broke. He jumped out of bed and was next to me within seconds. I was in shock! It was too soon! Exactly 2 months before my due date of January 19th 2011. I called my mom from the other room and the girls came with her and I told them my water broke. As all of this is happening Ernie is getting me into sweatpants and a shirt since my jammies were soaked. I just kind of stood there not knowing what to do. Again, I was in shock. I was saying stuff about not wanting to get amniotic fluid everywhere and Ernie just knew it was time to get dressed and get to the hospital. During this time I also texted my best friend to let her know what was going on.

After I was dressed and we were getting ready to get in the truck Becca said she wanted to go. I should have let her. We should have loaded everyone up and just went to do this together. My mind was so clouded with everything going on. I didn't want the girls to miss any school. I think that was one of the only things at that time I could have some control over. But now I look back and know school didn't matter. They should have been there with us. My heart breaks thinking about it. They could have seen their sister alive and held her.

When Ernie and I were driving to the hospital I called my high risk doctor to let her know my water broke. She said to go to the closest hospital if I didn't think I would make it to Corpus. The closest hospital is in Alice. 20 minutes away. She said she would get me to her if there was time. Not long after we left the house I told Ernie I didn't think I would make it through the drive to Alice. He asked if I wanted him to stop at the ambulance and I said no. And we debated driving all of the way to Corpus which is a little over an hour away. I knew it wouldn't be a good idea. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep from delivering Hope for that long and she couldn't be born vaginally. The drive to Alice seemed so long. I wasn't really in pain. But I was having mild contractions. When we got to the hospital Ernie dropped me off at the emergency enterance and he went and parked the truck. I had to check in with the emergency department before I could go up to labor and delivery. As they were getting my information, mind you I was already preregistered and had already been there a few times, I started to feel sick. I told them I was going to throw up and they started scrambling to find something for me but it took them too long. Yes, I unfortunately got sick on the floor in front of everyone. Ick! With my other kids, right before transition I would get sick and throw up. So this is what I thought was happening and I figured it wouldn't be long before I would deliver her. And they were still taking forever getting my info. I had to sit down beacuse I felt like fainting. Ernie was getting really irritated that it was taking so long for them to get me checked in and he asked if he could just go ahead and take me to L&D himself. Finally, they finish and we get to go upstairs.

They put me right into a room. Since we were suppose to deliver in Corpus with our high risk doctors this hospital had no idea what was going on with Hope and that we had decided weeks before that she would be born by c-section because it was what was safest for her. The nurse handed me a gown to change into and asked me if I was sure my water had broken. I told her I was positive! After I was all changed we started filling her in on all of the stuff that was going on with Hope. She checked my cervix and I was dilated 5-6 centimeters. They paged my doctor that I saw originally when we first started prenatal care and he was on his way. This is the doctor that had sent us to the high risk doctors. They started an IV and antibiotics because I was beta strep positive. The nurse that started my IV scared us quite a bit. She was trying to take some blood and then start the IV but as she was doing this I was bleeding all over. She had used an open ended suringe. It was a mess. And it was placed in my right arm in the fold of my arm. After she was finally done the anesthesiologist came in and told us he would put me to sleep for the c-section. We said ok and signed the paperwork. When my doctor got there he filled us in on all of the c-section information. Then he said Ernie wouldn't be able to be in the delivery room with me since it was an emergency c-section. We couldn't believe it. I needed him there with me! Right before I was wheeled into delivery I told Ernie to stay with Hope and take care of our baby. We were told there was an ambulance on it's way to pick up Hope and take her to the childrens hospital where the neonatal doctors were.

I was moved onto the delivery table and the nurses and doctors got everything set up. I was starting to freak out some. I was starting to get scared. Scared of the surgery, scared for Hope, scared because Ernie wasn't next to me. I prayed and asked God to help me calm down. I was given some oxygen and told to take some deep breathes. I realized if I didn't calm down I might hyperventilate. So I focused on calming down and breathing normal. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery area with 2 nurses doing stuff around me...

When I started to wake up I remembered where I was. So I started asking the nurses some questions. I wanted to ask about Hope but didn't ask right away because I was scared to find out if she made it. The one nurse was telling me I had lost a lot of blood so they were going to give me more blood. She didn't say a lot but said my doctor would talk to me about it. Then I asked her about my baby. She told the other nurse I was asking about my baby. She came over and said "I'm sorry, but your baby didn't make it. " Worst sentence I have ever heard! She told me that Hope was behind the curtain next to my bed and that I could see her and hold her whenever I was ready. I was very sad that Hope didn't make it but I didn't cry. It was all so new and hadn't become reality yet.

Ernie had gone downstairs to bring my best friend up to where we were. I remember thinking it didn't take her very long at all to get to me. Then they said it was 6:00 in the morning. It was almost 4 hours since my water had broken! I was out for almost 3 hours from the surgery and blood loss! I missed everything that happened with Hope!! Everything! Because I was asleep...

My doctor came in to talk to me. He said Hope's umbilical cord was very short. About 4-5 inches long. So when my water broke and she moved into the birth canal her short umbilical cord pulled the placenta away from the uterin wall. So I was bleeding internally. He said he removed almost 2 liters of blood and blood clots during surgery! Hindsight: This is the reason for the throwing up and getting light headed when we first got to the emergency room.

After my doctor left it was time for me to see Hope. And I'm so glad I wrote all of this down because now I don't remember most of it. Just bits and pieces. I don't remember holding her. Thank God for family, friends and pictures that prove I did!
Ernie brought Hope to me. She was so beautiful! And her face was so peaceful. I held her for a little bit but had to have Ernie take her because I was in and out of sleep. I was beyond exhausted and couldn't keep my eyes open. I wish I was able to hold her more, look at her sweet little toes, hold her little fingers, smell her hair, kiss her, tell her things that only a mommy can tell her daughter...

Hope Elna Lockhart lived for 32 minutes and was in her daddies arms when she went to be with Jesus. I like to think about what it must have looked like in the room they were in. Gods angels surrounding them. Helping my husband be there for our sweet baby when she needed him most because mommy couldn't be there. Jesus welcoming her into his arms and telling her how much her mommy and daddy love her and wanted her. And that someday she will see us again. That she won't have to live through the hurts, pains and dissapointments that come with living on this earth. No, she is free and whole and having a blast with our Father. There are no words that can express the beauty of that.
Sometimes, because we are human, it is really hard to find the comfort in that. To find comfort in anything. During those days of complete brokeness and empty arms that physically ache and long to hold my baby. You don't just feel the pain it in your heart. Nope, it is everywhere, all consuming and affects everything. But thank God that all gets a little bit easier to live with. We have to learn how to live without a part of our family. A part of our hearts. It will never ever be completely ok until the day when I see Hope again and can hear her call me mommy. But I'm trying and taking steps forward that I didn't think I'd be able to take these last 2 years. My cup runeth over...

Every now and then
When the world sits just right
A gentle breath of heaven
Fills my soul with delight
~ Hazelmarie "Mattie" Elliot

When we start to count the flowers, we cease to count the weeds.
When we start to count blessings, we cease to count needs.
When we start to count laughter, we cease to count tears.
When we start to count memories, we cease to count years.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2nd Hospitalization and a little bit of hope

Romans 8:26
...for the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
...groans that words cannot express

November 13th 2010-
Today I haven't felt Hope move. I tried eating, drinking juice and some water and it didn't work. It was still really hard to eat or drink enough. All I could think was my worst fear of Hope passing before delivery was possibly coming true. So Ernie and I decided it would be best to go over to the hospital to be monitored and make sure Hope was ok. It was such an unsettling drive to the hospital. When we were going over the bumps it felt like my belly was just sloshing around. It didn't feel right. I was so afraid she would pass away before we got to our due date. The most horrible worry and fear to have. Once we got there I was monitored some. We got to hear Hope's heartbeat. I felt a lot better after that. She was still holding on. Then the nurse started an IV. I was dehydrated. So she put a whole bag of fluids into me within an hour. I'm not sure why but there had been some talk of having a c-section so I wasn't allowed to eat or drink.

November 14th 2010-
Today my doctor was coming in to see how I was doing and to do an ultrasound to see how Hope was doing too. My best friend Kristen came up to the hospital to be with Ernie and I. Dr. V I'll call him, came in around 5pm. He used the hospital ultrasound machine. He decided we would do steriod shots to help Hope's lungs. I would have 1, then 12 hours later have the 2nd shot. Dr. V had talked like we might try to deliver her early. Ernie and I talked about either continuing on carrying Hope as long as possible or trying to deliver Hope to see if there would be anything that could be done to help her. I was at the point where I really wasn't able to eat much at all, I never felt good, I even had a hard time drinking the amount of fluids I was suppose to drink and it was getting to the point where I would probably have to stay in the hospital until Hope was born and my due date was still 2 months away.

November 15th 2010-
Kristen and I waited around today for Dr. V to come see me. He came around 5 again. He brought his nurses and ultrasound machine with him. The nurses got to my room first. His ultrasound tech started the scan while we were waiting for him. He had some preliminary results from the amnio. He told us that none of this was a chromosome problem which was fantastic news. But it would still be a little longer for the full results. Then Dr. V did the rest of the ultrasound. I had asked the nurse before Dr. V was there if they are able to see any type of respitory function on ultrasounds and she said no, not with ultrasound. But when Dr. V was doing the scan and looking at Hope and showing me how much she moves he got a little excited because he saw some movement of her chest wall which suggested some lung function and he pointed it out to the nurses! (This was a glimmer of hope we so wanted.) While he continued the scan I was talking to him about going ahead and delivering Hope to see what the doctors could do to help her. He said we should try and keep her in as long as possible to give her lungs every chance to develop. That we didn't want to add prematurity to an already sick baby. It really seemed like she was doing at least a little better and had a chance to be ok. He wanted me to keep Hope in at least until 36 weeks. Past that he said would be awesome!
So after we saw Dr. V I had a renewed resolution to keep Hope in as long as I could. No matter how hard it would be or how bad I wanted to be able to eat or be comfortable, Hope was my #1 concern and I would do everything I could to give my baby what she needed!
I had talked to Dr. V about being able to go home and he said I might have to stay in the hospital until it was time to deliver. My thoughts were that I couldn't stay in the hospital away from Becca, Angela, Audrey and Ernie. His reasoning was so Hope could be monitored everyday and if her health started to decline they could deliver ASAP. Because I had told him I was afraid of her passing away inside of me. He said I could go home as long as I could keep fluids going and eat. But to come back if anything was wrong. I stayed that night and saw my other doctor, Dr. J the next day.

November 16th 2010-
Dr. J came in to see me around 11am. We were so glad she came early. We talked about the results of the ultrasound the day before with Dr. V. And talked about me going home. She said I could but she wanted to see me every Monday. She said I could call her if I started getting uncomfortable again so we could do another fluid drain. Before we left, Kristen and I got to meet Dr. Delion who is one of the neonatalogists at the hospital. (Ernie was able to get some work done while Kristen stayed with me and mom was with the kids.) Dr. Delion talked about what they would do to help Hope after she was born. He said some pretty healthy babies could decline fast and babies that are pretty sick can be fighters. So we just didn't know what could happen until Hope was born. He said they would do everything they could for her.

November 18th 2010-
Since I was home mom, Lil E and I were going to go have Thanksgiving lunch with Angela. It was nice being able to spend time with her. Afterwards we went to Walmart to pick up some stuff. On the way Mercy Me's song I Can Only Imagine came on the radio. I tried to sing it but all I could do was cry. I was overcome by emotions. I told mom that Hope would possibly experience what is in the song soon. That she would possibly be singing praise to the Almighty.
When we got home I relaxed. I went to the bathroom and had some bloody discharge. I didn't think much of it until I went again and there was more. I talked to mom and Ernie about it and decided to call Dr. J and let her know. She said it sounds like some of my mucus plug was starting to come out and told me to take it easy and watch for a gush or trickle of water. When I went to bed I was having some cramping but didn't think anything of it because usually when I went to sleep the cramping would stop. With all of the excess fluid I had gotten pretty used to cramping.
(Looking back now #1 I wish I had stayed in the hospital a couple more days and #2 I should have headed to the hospital when I started having the discharge.) So we all went to bed not having any idea that Hope's birth was upon us...

My next post will be about Hope's birth.

"Sometimes He calms the storm, with a whisper peace, be still. He can settle any sea, but it doesn't mean He will. Sometimes He holds us close and lets the wind and waves go wild! Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child."
~Sometimes He Calms The Storm by Scott Krippayne

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our 2nd Level 3 Ultrasound

So this blog post has been the hardest to write so far. I saw this morning I haven't
blogged since March. It's been sitting in this draft folder for a while now. I kind of feel
like it's repetitive of what I posted before. I seem to have some kind of block about the
appointment we had with the genetic counselor. I'm having a really hard time taking
myself back to that moment. I wrote a journal entry the same day after we got home
from the appointment. But I didn't go into a lot of detail about what was said...I'm not
sure I remember most of it. I remember going in there feeling like something had
changed for the better, hoping among all hopes that my baby was better. But hearing
that things were worse than before was terrible. I wanted her to be ok. I guess looking
back now it was really hitting me that I wasn't going to be able to bring my baby home
with us.

"Butterflies are the stained glass windows of summer, shining in gentleness and grace,
lighter than the wind and brighter then the sun."

Life has so many pleasures and joys, sometimes in the smallest creatures we can find
the most beauty.

11/4/2010 2nd Level 3 Ultrasound
Today is the day we see the Genetic Counselor and have another ultrasound to see how
Hope is doing. My mom and best friend Kristen are here to go with us. It turned out to
be a very hard morning. Hope has shown 2 weeks worth of growth which is great but
still has all the problems she had before plus a couple extras that were noticed. While I
was having the ulrasound I almost passed out from laying on my back for too long. The
fluid has increased unfortunately.
After the ultrasound we met with the doctor (Genetic Counselor). He said they
couldn't see Hope's stomach and that her anus was enlarged. Her "plumbing" might not
be working right. They aren't very optimistic about her surviving after birth and
possibly not even to delivery day.
I really went in there thinking things had changed. The doctor said since we had an
appointment with a high risk doctor we wouldn't have anymore ultrasounds with them.
But that they were there if we needed them. That they were a resource for us.
It's so hard taking all of that in. At this point I've realized we need to prepare ourselves
for what could happen. Possibly having to say goodbye to our baby. I've started to
question if it's because I don't have enough faith. But above all, God has a plan.

11/6 & 7/2010
The weekend was long. The amniotic fluid is making me so uncomfortable. I called the
high risk doctors office to see if I could get an appointment sooner than the 17th. I
called them on Friday the 5th. So they rescheduled me for November 8th at 3:00
instead. I was so glad. I told them I wanted to come in to see about getting fluid
drained because I was so uncomfortable. It actually got to the point where it felt like
the inside top of my uterus was tearing. It hurt. I was so glad they rescheduled my
appointment. All I had to do was get through the weekend.
As I had previously said in my last post we had decided against an amnio so we
wouldn't have to add prematurity on top of everything else that was going on. But at
this point the fluid had built up so much and was causing me pain and I wasn't able to
eat, drink enough or even sit normally. So we decided it was time to see what could be
done. We knew my uterus wouldn't be able to hold out much longer with the pressure
from the fluid. And I wasn't able to stay hydrated or eat. My mom was extremely
worried at this point.

11/8/2010 First appointment with high risk doctor. This is where everything started
getting crazy.
When we got to the appointment it took a while to be called back. We went into an
office with a nurse and answered some questions. Mostly about my health history and
all of my previous pregnancies. Then she took us into an ultrasound room. We got to
watch the whole ultrasound on a TV. It was neat. The tech was very fast. When she
was done we waited a couple minutes to see Dr. Johnson. She came in to explain that
we have a very sick baby. She asked if we had already heard all that she told us and we
said yes. I told her we had seen the genetic counselor 2 times. She talked about the
possible results of the gentic testing. If it came back that Hope had a chromosome
problem then there was nothing they would do to try and help her after she was born.
But if it was genetic then they would do all they could. We let her know that no matter
what we wanted everything possible done to help our baby. But if it came down to it we
wanted every second possible with her. We wanted her to be in our arms if Jesus was
to call her home. We also asked about a c-section. She wasn't sure yet if we would need
one. That we would know more once the results of the amnio came back. She said
if Hope had a chomosome problem they would have me deliver vaginally and Hope
would most likely pass during delivery. That wasn't ok with us. I told her that no matter
what I wanted to have a c-section to give Hope the best chance possible. I would not
have her pass away during delivery if I could help it. Even just to have a few precious
moments with her. Whatever amount of time I could get I would take!
She let us know she would do an amnio today to get fluid for the genetic testing and
that she would drain quite a bit to make me more comfortable. I was relieved we didn't
have to schedule another appointment to get it done. The nurse got everything ready.
Dr. Johnson and the ultrasound tech came back in. They decided on the best spot to
drain the fluid from. Then came the needle through the skin and everything else.
She told me there was a chance that my water could break when they put the needle
through. Since I had so much fluid and my bag of water was so full. Thank God it
didn't. After she got the fluid for the testing she continued to drain fluid. She didn't get
much out before I felt like I was going to throw up. I did. She said she was going to
remove the tube and stop the draining because she couldn't keep going with me
throwing up. That the throwing up is a sign of labor. Unfortunately, not much was
drained. She had me turn on my left side to try and recover. But I had this continual
tightening all over my uterus and started having cramping that was spreading across
my lower back. So, Dr. Johnson decided to send me over to the hospital to be
monitored. Her and the nurse talked about having me stay at the hospital until
Wednesday when she wanted to drain more fluid to make me more comfortable. So we
headed over to the hospital. We found out too that this was the hospital that she delivers
so this would be where Hope was going to be born.
Once we got to the hospital they put me into my own room. They figured Dr. Johnson
would want me to stay. They hooked me up to the monitors. I was having contractions
and was in some pain. They started me on Breathine to stop the contractions. It started
out with 3 shots for the next 3 hours and then pills every 3 hours after that to wipe out
the contractions. The shots made my heart race. The plan was to try and drain more
fluid on Wednesday. I needed some time to recover and get the contractions under
control. Also, they couldn't keep Hope on the monitor because she was moving around
so much. Dr. Johnson was surprised she moved so much. So they would just come in
and spot check her every 4 hours. Thankfully the contractions were stopped.
They had the baby warming table in the room and the little moving bed they put the
baby in in the bathroom. Those were very hard to look at. I probably should have asked
them to take them out.

11/10/2011 30 weeks pregnant Second try at draining fluid
Dr. Johnson, her nurses and an ultrasound tech came in around lunch time to try and
drain more fluid. But she called ahead to make sure I was given some Stadol in my IV
to help me get through the amnio. It started working immediately. My eyes got really
heavy and I was really warm. I was laying there with my eyes closed still listening
to everything when Dr. Johnson came in and said "Wow, asleep already" to Ernie.
I opened my eyes and looked at her and said "Not quite". It was pretty funny. So they
started the draining. I asked if I could see what it looks like and they said yes. My
favorite nurse said it looks like Shiner Bock and we all laughed except Dr. Johnson.
She didn't know what Shiner was. So the nurses told her. I was talking and joking with
them through the whole thing. It started to hurt some and she asked me if I wanted her
to stop. I said no, that I have a pretty high pain tolerance and she agreed. They took
out 1 and a half liters of amniotic fluid! After this I was released to go home even
though I was throwing up quite a bit. I was put on bedrest to recover from the
I was happy to be going home. On our drive home from the hospital we were listening
to the local christian music station. There was somone who called in and the DJ was
reading Footprints In The Sand. I have heard it many times yet this time it really touched
me. Right now on the beach of my life there is 1 set of footprints and those belong to
Jesus. He is carrying me through all that is going on right now with us and Hope. When
I heard it I just started crying. I couldn't help it. The floodgates opened and all these
built up emotions just came out. It felt good to cry and know Jesus was with me. Plus
I really missed my kids. So I was anxious to see them and hug them. Also, I didn't
really feel or look like my tummy was much smaller after the fluid was drained. But
I was a little more comfortable.

Psalms 139:13-17
For You formed my inward parts. You covered me in my mothers womb. I will praise
You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works and that my
soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret
and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance
being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for
me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious are Your thoughts for me O
God! How great is the sum of them.

In my next post I will write about the next hospitalization
because I wasn't feeling Hope move.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

1st Level 3 Ultrasound Poor Diagnoses

October 22nd 2010: 1st Level 3 Ultrasound
We woke up at 5:30am to get ready for my appointment. Becca, Angela and Audrey were still out of school because of the Jim Wells County Fair so they and little Ernie would be staying at my sister in laws during the appointment. We picked up my hubby on the way. He went to work early so he could open the shop. On the drive there, I thought the worst part would be finding out our baby indeed had down syndrome and possibly to what degree it would affect her quality of life. I was pretty nervous. We dropped the kids off at my sister in laws and went to the doctors office that was less than 5 minutes from where she lived. When we got there I filled out the paperwork and didn't have to wait very long before we were called back. The ultrasound tech was very nice. She answered the questions she could. She asked what we knew about the baby so far and we said the extra skin fold on the back of her neck and her thigh bones being short and that she might have down syndrome. Almost immediately she asked if anything had been said about a clubbed foot. Our babies left foot is clubbed. She looked at her mouth 4 or 5 times and said she wasn't closing her mouth. Which meant she wasn't swallowing properly. She kept her hands up by her mouth so it was hard to see that area. She said there might be something wrong with her chin too. But once again it was too hard to tell for sure with her hands there. I like to think about this and know that she already knew what was comfortable and where she liked her hands to be. I have the ultrasound picture with her hands like that and it looks like she's praying.
Continuing on, she has edema on almost all of her body.Which is fluid built up under the skin. Her chest is very small, they called it bell shaped and her heart takes up most of the room in her chest. Her arms and legs are very small. Her head measured at 31 weeks where her extremities measured at 22-26 weeks.
The doctor was out of the country. So after the ultrasound we met with one of the counselors to talk about the results of the ultrasound. And the crazy thing is I actually know her. Our daughters played together when we lived in Corpus. I had no idea she worked there. But I was so relieved we were able to talk with a friend, not just someone we didn't know. She told us our baby could have a genetic problem. Maybe even missing a chromosome or having to many. She suggested an amniocentesis to test for genetic abnormalities. She talked about her chest and lungs. She said since her chest is so small it could mean her lungs haven't developed properly if at all. So the best thing would be for her to stay in as long as possible to give her lungs time to hopefully develop. At this point hearing that she has down syndrome would be amazing! Her diagnosis is much worse. We also went over both of our families medical histories and scheduled the amnio and our next Level 3 ultrasound for 2 weeks later. When we were done I went in the bathroom and cried. I felt like throwing up. Like I was all of a sudden living in this bubble. I wasn't even sure I could walk out to the truck. I just sat there and cried and my hubby hugged me. We talked and prayed for our baby. I called my mom and told her. She told my dad and sister. We went to pick up the kids and my sister in law asked how it went and I had to tell her our baby, her niece, most likely wasn't going to live. I was numb the rest of the day. Emotionally drained. It felt like the whole world was spinning aroung me and had no intention to slow down for us. I had talked to a bunch of family members. Relaying the same information over and over again. It never felt like it was me talking. It's amazing the stupid things people will say! But the amazing people I will always be so grateful for! My best friend drove 3 hours to come spend the weekend with us. So she could be with me. So I could talk and cry. I am forever thankful for you Kristen!! And my mom and dad were in the process of getting my mom here to help and be with us.

October 23rd 2010 - The day we named our baby
This morning we woke up and my hubby told me he had a name for our baby. Hope. It fit her perfectly!! So her name is Hope Elna Lockhart. He had dreamed about it. I shared her name with Kristen and she had said something to me the night before. She said "You just need to hold onto hope." And she liked the name Hope. Then I told my sister and her and my brother in law Erik had thought of Hope also. I love that so many of us thought of that name and that Daddy named his little girl!

October 25th 2010 -
Today I called the genetic counselor to tell her I wouldn't be having the amniocentesis. Since the best thing for Hope is to stay in utero as long as possible then we don't want to take the risk of premature labor from the amnio. We are putting our trust in God not some test. So she told me that her and the ultrasound tech were talking about the edema and that one reason could be that Hope's heart isn't working very well and that her heart could be enlarged. And that could mean she could pass even before delivery. That there could be a day when Hope stopped moving. Those were hard words to hear. So I told her that Hope moves a lot and she said that it was good. She also let me know that the doctor was still out of the country but would be back for my next appointment.
After hearing that Hope might stop moving, I became even more thankful for every movement from Hope. Every nudge that let me know she was still ok and still holding on.

Jeremiah 29: 11-14
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.

1 Peter 1:25
But the word of the Lord endures.

From Kirsten:11-1-2010
It is only by thinking about great and good things that we come to love them, and it is only by longing for them that we come to long for them, and it is only by longing for them that we are impelled to seek after them and it is only by seeking after them that they become ours.

In my next post I will go over our 2nd Level 3 ultrasound and what happened when we finally were able to meet with the Genetic counselor who was out of the country.