Tonight I was reading through some old letters to you...ones I had written just a few weeks before you were born. I found one that stood out to me in particular, and for some reason it made me cry. Maybe because it brought back such memories of the roller coaster of emotions I was on during my pregnancy with you. Although I wouldn't want to relive those days again, I am thankful - yes, thankful - for those faith-stretching moments. Because our lives seemed to be hanging in the balance, and all I could do was trust in God to bring us through.
I'm going to copy that letter here, because I want to remind you of the great miracle God did for you, Lily. Those final weeks were a very scary time for us...
Today it is 23 days til you are due.
2 days ago we had another FST (fetal stress test) and ultrasound. Dr.Boyle, who is the head of the dept. did them both. She told me every Tuesday morning they discuss their high risk patients. Guess what? We made their list;) Soooo they all (all the doctors and midwives) discussed you and me...and said what if Lily doesn't do what we want her to do at her FST today? Meaning, what if you are not moving a ton, and your amniotic fluid has dropped. I had been on the monitors for half an hour...and she came in to tell me all this. She looked at the monitor and said "And of course, she isn't doing what we want her to do!"
What is strange, is you had been moving a lot while I was lying there hooked up to the monitors. But your heart doesn't show it- the heartbeat is just a steady line, showing little fluctuation...it is always right in the same range, in the 140's. I asked her what they want to see- she said a ten point acceleration or deceleration in the heart rate..she gave me some juice, and put a cup on my tummy upside down and tapped really hard on it, trying to startle you. Your heart did what it was supposed to, and you jumped a bit. She said we would see what you did for ten minutes and left the room.
This time you went to sleep...she came back in saw the monitor and said we would do the ultrasound next..She measured the 4 quadrants of my uterus, and added up the measurements of the deepest pockets of water..They added up to 7-8. A healthy range of amniotic fluid is between 8-14. Last Friday yours was at 11. Last week the midwife had told me if it drops below 8 they get concerned. Dr. Boyle said I was still borderline safe.
Next she looked at your tiny chest. I learned something I never knew before- even though babies don't really "breathe" in the womb, (they get oxygen thru the cord), they "practice" breathing. Their chests make these little rising and falling movements to practice for when they use their lungs- isn't that amazing?? But they don't do it all the time, just at intervals. The doctor said sometimes we have to wait 30 minutes to an hour to see if a baby will do this- but you were doing it right away! And you did it the whole time she was doing the scan. Apparently this is a really good sign of a healthy baby, so she was very glad to see that.
She also looked for clenched fists and feet...because if the fluid is low, this will be what can happen to a baby...not much room to move. But we couldn't see your hands or feet, they were tucked under you. ..
You were obviously sleeping, and didn't move much...but you did make tiny shifts, so that was good. You were head down, and low.
So...at the end of the u/s she said this is where we go from here: on Friday I go back for a repeat of these tests (in the office.) IF you are doing the same thing, they want me to go over to the hospital weekly for a full scan, on a better machine, rather than 2x a week in their office. This would give a better picture of movement, growth, and amniotic fluid. IF your fluid is not good, or movements too slow, we will induce.
I asked again- why are we still talking about Down syndrome at every visit (she had mentioned that at the beginning of the appointment). She said mainly because we have never done the tests to rule it out completely (the amniocentesis). So because you have had all these soft markers for Down syndrome along the way, combined with my age, we have to err on the side of caution.
And here is where I heard for the first time that babies with Down syndrome have a higher rate of mortality in the womb. Lovely. AND women over 40- especially almost 42- have a higher rate as well of having babies die in the womb.
Okay Lily, as I said in my last entry, I feel like I have been pretty calm throughout everything...I've had my moments, definitely, of losing it. But I really do think they are just "moments", I don't feel like I live in a constant state of stress. But every visit has added a new layer of things to pray about. And those words felt like they added ten layers. I kept reminding myself- these are all just statistics! I don't live my life based on statistics, I believe God is in control, not numbers. And they are not these terribly high odds anyway, just "raised odds".
Dr. Boyle said what is important right now is that I make sure you are always moving like you normally move, by measuring kick counts. You should have 5 every hour. Every woman should be conscious of her baby's movements at the end of pregnancy, but she wants me to be extra alert about things, and she said twice- if there is any change at all to let them know.
Doesn't that sound relaxing? Let us know if your baby stops moving so we can...see if she died? I mean really- wouldn't that be a little stressful for anyone ? But again I am reminding myself- you are in GOD'S hands, not just mine- I can count kicks and be vigilant, but ultimately your tiny life is not in my control. I have to TRUST God and do what I can, but I can't live the next 23 days in fear.
Easier said than done.
So the past 48 hours I have been having a little ...big...test of my faith. I have alternated between being relaxed and sane and counting kicks.... and struggling not to feel panicky when I don't feel you move. And keeping all my "what-ifs" at bay. There are a million what-ifs threatening to rob me of the joy of these last few weeks. They are ugly, and scary, and if I let them, they make me shake all over and cry, and I can't focus on anything other than praying God, please don't let Lily die, we've come so far, and overcome so much, and I want my little baby girl so much, please please just let her get here safely.
Sometimes I am really good at internalizing my stress..most times I am. I don't walk around yelling OH MY GOSH I'M FREAKING OUT!! But my body has lots of ways to remind me I am hiding the stress, instead of giving it to God. Like insomnia...nausea..lack of appetite...back and shoulders throbbing..contractions!!! the past two days have been filled with all of those. I've lost 5 pounds this week...
So what am I going to do, Lily? We need a calm Mommy here, it isn't going to help you to have me in this state.
I decided I am going to do what your very wise Daddy said. He is my rock in a storm, he holds it together for us, and I don't know what I'd do without him. Honestly, I don't.
He said we are going to put our faith in GOD and trust that He is going to bring us all through this. We are not going to live every moment wondering and waiting for what could go wrong. We are going to pray, and believe God to give the doctors- and us- wisdom for the next few weeks. We are going to believe God to bring you here safely in His timing, and trust that no matter what, God will take care of us all.
And like my dear dear friend Janet says- FEAR is not of God. It isn't!! So if I am feeling it, I need to stop, and make a decision- this is what Daddy said- MAKE A DECISION- to trust God and not my feelings.
So right now, I am going on record that I AM making that decision- I cannot live by my feelings right now, or I will lose it. I am going to trust God, I am going to believe God for my favorite time in life- labor and delivery- even if I have to be induced, I am believing God that it will all go smoothly and wonderfully. I am going to enjoy life, and these last precious days of you being inside of me, and enjoy the wonderful family God has given me, and know that all things work together for the GOOD to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
Thank YOU God, for this testing of my faith, maybe I haven't passed with flying colors, but I am learning, and that is a good lesson for me. It doesn't matter how long you're a Christian, there's always room to grow, and God is so faithful to bring us through and help us grow.
Someone once told me that Lilies grow in hard places...I looked it up, and it's true. So true of YOU too, my little Lily. You are appropriately named, and what a beautiful, loved and prayed for miracle you will be when we hold you in our arms. We are all waiting with anxious hearts!
All my love forever,
Your Mama oxox
Looking back, I am as always, thankful for your daddy, and thankful for the grace of God.
And more than ever....
...thankful for you.
All my love forever,
Thank you so very much to all of you wonderful readers who have donated for Artem. In four days his grant fund has risen by almost $650. Our goal is to get his grant up to $10,000 by the end of Down Syndrome Awareness month, by challenging people to donate just $5.
What is five bucks? It's a Starbucks latte. A burger and fries. A magazine. A tip at a restaurant.
A little boy's life.
Because five dollars multiplied by several hundred readers will literally save Artem's life.
I can't think of a better way to raise awareness for Down syndrome, then by ringing the bell loud and strong for one little boy, waiting thousands of miles away in an orphanage
for his mommy and daddy to claim him.
SPREAD THE WORD- ARTEM NEEDS A FAMILY!