Friday, 30 March 2012

Echo and OB

It's been a few days, but we thought we'd wait until after the echo yesterday and the OB appointment today and update on them both at the same time.

Before I do that, I just want to say how grateful we are that the heating and air-conditioning crews have been working hard the last couple of days to get the heat regulated more evenly.  I guess we weren't the only ones who were melting!  Last night was pure heaven - the pregnant woman and menopausal woman slept peacefully while Shawn slept with my housecoat and Sadie's quilt draped over top of him!

The fetal echo was really long, as per usual.  It was great to have my mom there, she was tickling my hand (I know I'm weird) and keeping me calm while I laid there uncomfortably for over one and a half hours.  After it was all over, they informed us that everything looks the same as before and nothing new has happened or changed since the last one.  Sadie stayed back at the house with Karen and had a good time playing with all the toys and being spoiled.

Karen left last night after dinner and headed back to see her family.  Once I got home from the airport, my braxton hicks started to come more frequently and more intensely.  I started to have real contractions in the late evening , nothing too serious yet though.  I was up for over an hour with them just after midnight, but was able to sleep through the night.

This afternoon we went to the OB and met my new doctor for the first time.  She seems very nice and it's good to know who will be with us for the delivery.  She confirmed me that I am indeed having contractions, that I am now 2 cm's dilated and that my cervix has thinned out.  She believes I could be in early labour if this continues. It doesn't look like Hope will wait until her due date but it could still be a few days.  We're starting to wonder if she'll arrive on April fools day!

If we end up heading to the hospital, we'll be sure to post something for you all to stay updated and pray accordingly.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

It happens...

Within an hour of posting the last blog we had quite the eventful evening.  I had some leaking just like the start of my labour with Sadie.  This was really discouraging as I've been praying my labour with Hope would be nothing like my labour with Sadie.  I've been praying that I would start having contractions before my water breaks or that they would begin immediately after.

Emotions quickly kicked into full gear and we started planning our next steps.  We called the hospital and were told that even if we were unsure, we needed to come in because of Hope's condition.  The hospital was VERY busy but we were shown directly into a labour and delivery room where they began to monitor Hope.  She was doing excellently and moving around a great deal.  After a few hours the doctor came in and tested for amniotic fluid and didn't see any leaking.  He went and ran a slide he'd taken under the microscope and let us know that chances are, it was pee.  There's no nicer way to say that!  There is a chance that it was a leak from high up and that it simply stopped leaking but at that point, no amniotic fluid was leaking and all was well.

I'm sure they've never seen people more excited to leave without really being in labour!  We were thrilled to hear this news and excited to go back to bed and let Hope continue to grow and have more time in the womb.  The entire experience reminded me of how important it is to truly pray in detail.  Please join us in praying that I go into labour before I have to go into the hospital, that contractions come and progress the labour without needing drugs.  Pray also that we get the sleep we need and don't have to go through this all on a major lack of sleep.  We'll keep you posted on any further false alarms or real deals!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cupcakes are important...

This afternoon we had our first appointment with the team in Edmonton that will follow Hope while we're here.  We had an ultrasound that was very positive and came with a lot of good news.  Hope is measuring at 6 pounds and 10 ounces!!  They told me the best case scenario would be to get her to 7 pounds by 40 weeks.  Apparently they grossly underestimated my cupcake eating abilities!  After arriving at the Ronald McDonald House there were a pile of Crave cupcakes donated.  I've been doing my part to consume these lovely treats.  Hope is now at a much safer weight if she decided to come early and surprise us.  It's comforting to know that she's in such a good place and we feel a lot of peace as a result.

After the ultrasound we were taken on a tour of the labour and delivery ward and were able to see where Hope would arrive.  The room for high risk deliveries is pretty sterile looking - not a lot of creature comforts.  The adjoining room is the resuscitation room where they will stabilize her and put in her lines before transporting her to the Children's Hospital.  It was a little overwhelming to see where it would all take place.  It is good to have a picture of it in my mind though before it takes place.

Shawn started work at his new office today and it sounded like everything went very well, we are still so thankful for the opportunity he has to do this.  We've met a lot of families here that are taking unpaid leave and we feel blessed to be in a more stable position without all that added stress on us.

On Thursday we have a fetal echo booked, in the meantime we'll be hanging out with Karen during her visit and trying to stay busy so the time won't drag on too slowly!  We'll keep you posted as we find out anything about Hope or if my body starts doing anything worth noting. 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Our Sauna #329

We survived our first weekend at the Ronald McDonald House and have found it to be a great place so far.  They run a program here called Home for Dinner where volunteers come in to make dinner for all the families.  Fortunately for us, the volunteers have been here for the last 3 nights and we haven't had to cook a single dinner, and there are more people coming tomorrow!  It won't always be like that so we're enjoying it while we have the chance and feeling very thankful.  When my life is less crazy, I'd like to return the favour and go to the Ronald McDonald House in Calgary to bless those families.  If anyone is looking for a way to minister to people who are hurting, I can tell you first hand that this is a HUGE way to be a blessing.

Our only hurdle at the RMH is the temperature of our room, it is SOOO hot.  We have our window wide open in the middle of winter and it's still hot.  I was awake until 3am last night because of the heat and feeling so uncomfortable.  We spoke to someone today about it but were told that you can't change it, so we may need to invest in a super HUGE fan.   I'm thankful that I optimistically packed a single pair of shorts, as I've been living in them!  I'll have to have more shorts brought up when someone visits from Calgary so I have something to wear on laundry day.

We've been talking to more of the other families here and have heard a lot of their stories.  It's hard to know that so many people are hurting and yet everyone is so kind.  We are enjoying the contact with other people and the distraction too.  We're finding we need to be very creative to keep our days full, it's weird not to have anything to do!

We have 3 doctor appointments this week to keep us busy and my friend Karen flies in tomorrow night to spend the next 3 days with us.  That will help us stay busy as we wait for this little girl to arrive, it's weird to think that we're just waiting for her to come.  I'm looking forward to meeting her, but I still fear the battle that we'll face when she arrives.  I've been chatting with another mom that is waiting to have an HLHS baby and she feels the same way, you want to keep them inside to keep them safe, but you can't keep them there forever!

Sadie is starting to sleep a bit better. We built a cardboard wall around her crib and this sure helps.  I'm sure she'll learn to sleep through anything by the time we're done here!  Thank you for thinking of us and lifting us up each day.  Pray for some cool air to blow through our room at night!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Our New Home

We have officially arrived and moved into the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton.  My mom arrived on Wednesday evening, and we spent Thursday packing and organizing in Calgary.  This morning we finished getting our things together, cleaned the house and departed after lunch.  We could only fit less than 1/2 of our stuff and were blessed to have friends that drove the 3 hours to deliver the rest!  It's amazing how much stuff you need for 3 adults and 2 children.  I had to pack pregnant clothes and post baby clothes which doubled my baggage!

The staff at the house are amazing, we were warmly welcomed when we arrived and shown to our new home for the next couple of months, a single room with 2 double beds and a bathroom.  The room is fairly spacious and houses Sadie's playpen and all of our belongings.  We were blessed to have dinner provided for us by some volunteers that had come in to cook for the families here.  Sadie is having a ball as she explores the many play areas and watches all the other kids.  After dinner, Shawn put Sadie to bed and my mom and I hit the nearest grocery store for our breakfast essentials.

In some ways, our arrival is relaxing, we're in a safe place for Hope to arrive and are no longer in the planning and waiting mode for our move.  At the same time, we start waiting again...this time for labour to begin and Hope to join us in the world.  It may be a long three weeks if she decides she's comfortable and wants to wait it out.  I want to meet her, but also fear her arrival and all the unknowns that it will carry.

Our last few days in Calgary were hard on me emotionally.  I was saying goodbye to friends, trying to do too many logistical things and feeling overwhelmed that I was sure to forget something.  My mom's arrival was a reminder that the journey was now beginning and I was on the verge of tears for most of Thursday.  I had a less than attractive "snap" in the car when the GPS was supposed to take us to Tim Hortons...however, it was an empty building!!.... and I quickly realized I wouldn't be getting a snack or using the bathroom!  I'm praying that over the next few days, or weeks, that I'll have patience as we wait for Hope and be able to enjoy our time as a calm before the storm.

We are already adjusting to sharing a room with Sadie, she's woken up a few times tonight as we tried to unpack, watch tv or talk to each other.  Over time, I'm sure she'll learn to sleep through a lot more noise and give us our freedom back.  If only we had one of those portable wall dividers, that would solve the problem in a lot of ways!

Well, I need to get some sleep as I'm emotionally spent and physically tired too.  We will continue to update you as we settle in and find out more information.  We have an ultrasound on Monday afternoon, they may be able to give us an idea of Hope's potential arrival.  If not, we see the OB on Friday and may get some insight from her as well.  Thank you for praying for us up until this point and for continuing with us now.  Please pray for Shawn this week as he starts work at the Edmonton office and will be out of his usual environment, we are thankful that he is able to continuing working!

Friday, 16 March 2012

We're in!!!

It is official, we have a room at the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton and will be moving in one week.  It's a great relief to know we don't need to look at our other options and will be all set, as long as we all stay healthy!

This Sunday, my in-laws church is going to have a time of prayer over Hope and our family during their Sunday morning service.  If any Calgarians would like to join us for this, the service is at 10:30am at Renfrew Baptist Church and all are welcome!

Tomorrow will be a work day for Shawn and some very kind men that are coming over.  They are finishing up the painting in the basement and working to fit the doors.  One door has been cut so far and is not fitting well.  If anyone in Calgary knows a great carpenter that might be available in the next week, please send us that contact info as we'd love to finish this before we go and an experienced carpenter could likely complete it in a day.  We have 9 doors and 5 closets to complete, we can't do one door per day or we're going to run out of time!

As for me, I will be continuing in my projects of organizing and packing before we go.  I'm writing a lot of things down and this makes me feel a bit more prepared.  I feel like I'm handling it all fairly well, but we'll have to see as the days count down and my emotions go up.

Thank you for continuing to pray with us and for following along, we're getting closer!!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sleepless Nights

Sleep, it seems to be the hardest thing to achieve these days!  Sadie has given up on napping once again and continues to fight me each day as I work to make her sleep.  Some days there is success and I develop theories of why she slept, but she always quickly disproves them and we start again.  She still goes to bed wonderfully and for that we are thankful.  I continue to struggle through this, but would appreciate your prayer as our naps will be VERY important in the coming months and she shows signs that she is tired and wants to sleep.

I have become extremely tired, all the time.  The doctor thinks that my anemia has gotten to an all time low and is wiping me out.  As a result, I'm on a liquid iron to help get this back up so I won't be fighting it after Hope is born.  Unfortunately, I won't likely see any benefits from this for another 3 weeks or so.  The liquid iron is disgusting, but my body doesn't tolerate the pills and eating mass amounts of spinach just wasn't enough, I did try it!  I find it difficult to lay down when I have so many things I want to get done, but more often I don't have the opportunity to lay down because Sadie is exploring somewhere in the house and getting into trouble.

You would think that a woman as tired as me, would be able to easily fall asleep at night.  Instead I lay awake and think about all the things I can't control and shouldn't waste my energy on.  I sometimes go through all the things I need to remember to take to Edmonton, or the things I must finish before we go.  I worry about the work on the house and whether we'll be done in time.  Tonight we had a lot of wind in Calgary, we lost a few shingles on the roof...just another thing for Shawn to finish before we go.  At this point the new doors have been cut to size.  Shawn still needs to put in knob holes, hinge holes and hang the new doors.  A few of the doors still need to be painted, the closet doors still need to be cut and most of the trim work in the basement and on the stairs is still in need of painting.  We haven't even started the painting of the baseboards in the basement rooms.  We're trying to be thankful for all that we have accomplished with the help of so many wonderful volunteers and not focus on all that still remains.  This can be difficult when you live in the house and see the projects around you all day!

More than home renovations or packing lists, I sit up at night and think about the little girl that rolls around in my tummy.  She moves constantly and her presence is impossible to forget with the size of my stomach.  I question whether I'm truly ready to meet her and feel guilty when I hope that she comes quickly and yet know that she needs time to grow for as long as possible.  Part of me wants to keep her inside forever and protect her from the struggle that awaits her in the world, but the selfish part of me wants to meet her and end my personal discomfort.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking that when she's born my tears will stop, then I realize they'll probably be more intense and I wonder how much liquid the human body can spare.  Although I mourn the loss of so many freedoms I feel I previously had and will lose, I fear losing Hope more than anything I have and would give everything else away.

It's technically Wednesday now, although I haven't slept for Tuesday night yet.  Only one week until my mom arrives to support us through this journey, and 9 days until we make our departure.  On Friday we'll be calling the Ronald McDonald House to find out what the housing situation is and how likely it is for us to expect to move in the following week.  Please pray that there is space as we need to be close to the hospitals and will be staying in a hotel if there is not.  With all the things we had to do to the house and other random costs associated with this all, we are really praying we can avoid staying in a hotel for any of our time in Edmonton.  Please pray that we all stay healthy as well, we won't be allowed to go to the Ronald McDonald House if any of us are sick.  This would be very stressful and put us in a tough spot also.

I believe that God is able to give me the strength that I'll need to face what is ahead for us.  My struggle is with whether or not I will allow Him to do that in me.  Truly allowing God to work in your life involves giving up your own control.  There is so much of our situation that is completely out of our control anyway, I hope this pushes me to give up anything I can control and allow God to fully work through me, give me everything I need for each day and carry me through.  He is willing and able, but I have to let Him work in me.  I continue to strive to lay it all down and trust him, especially as Hope's arrival gets closer.  Our due date, April 13th, is exactly a month away - soon she'll be here!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Under two??

Only one week and six days until our departure for Edmonton.  Lately it seems that my mind is stuck on the bare chest, this sounds odd, so I will explain.  When I see Hope for the first time, she will have a chest that is bare and unmarked, I cry when I think about stroking her unscarred chest and knowing that in a few short days it will forever be marked with the evidence of her journey.  Its not that I fear her having the scar, I realize it will be a part of her testimony.  It will be seeing her body and being instantly aware that it will be quickly altered.  Already I struggle with this when I rub lotion on Sadie's chest after a bath.  It's funny what our mind chooses to get hung up on.

Shawn is away on a ski trip this weekend, his final 'man time' before the loss of freedom that comes with our situation.  I usually dread the time alone but have done surprisingly well this time, Sadie and I are flying through the days and doing great.  It could be the beautiful weather that makes it impossible to be grumpy or stressed!  We spent this morning at the zoo with friends and had a great time seeing all the animals in the warm weather.

This is an odd period of time, I don't want to buy too many groceries before we leave, but we still need to eat.  I don't want to forget things, but I can't pack them because I'm still using them now!  I'm trying to spend time with my friends and enjoy every minute, but I feel sad thinking that it's coming to an end soon.    
Although I long for the waiting period to be over, I dread the journey beginning and reality truly arriving.  I can't decide which side is better to be on yet.

I can easily get overwhelmed in life right now, please pray that I will have immense peace as I prepare for our move.  That I will prepare slowly and won't feel flustered as I pack the "4" of us up and get the house ready to leave behind for a couple of months.  Please pray that in this busy time, I will draw near to those around me and not pull away to protect myself.  Please also pray that our renovations would be completed in time, or that God would make me okay with leaving them unfinished, at least the important stuff has been completed and the house is safe for Hope's return.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Good news and not-so-good news

Here is the update my mom sent out this afternoon...I'm feeling exhausted and can't pull it together enough to write one myself:

It was another 3 hour appointment!  The good news is that there is no narrowing of the atrial septal defect!!  Praise God!  They were very pleased to see that today as, in Edmonton, it had raised concerns with the cardiologists and would mean immediate intervention (catheterization) and additional risk once she is born.  It would also mean that Amy would not be able to hold her right after she is born, something that is very important to her.

Hope's growth has somewhat slowed and she has only gained less than 1/2 a pound in the last 2 weeks.  She is now in the 40th percentile for growth and they estimate her weight to be just under 5 lbs.  Although this is a change from the last ultrasound, she is still in the acceptable range for a heart baby.  They would ideally like to see more growth, so Amy has been encouraged to continue eating 24/7!

The not-so-good news is that they were able to get an even better picture of Hope's heart today than they had gotten in Edmonton and not only has the aorta not grown in size, it is actually smaller than they had predicted - today it measured 2.5 mm.  The surgeons would like to see it at least 3 mm. in diameter.  Having it smaller puts her at increased risk for the surgery, but it is still in the range of "expected" for HLHS babies.  

Although we were hoping and praying for better news on the size of Hope's aorta, we are reminded of the fact that God's not finished growing her yet!!  We ask your continued prayer for our little Hope - that God would make her the best possible candidate for the surgery ahead and that she would continue growing and developing until it's the best possible time for her to enter this world!!  

I hope that fills you all in on the latest with our little girl.  I'm thrilled to be finished with echoes here in Calgary and only have an appointment with the OB left before our departure to Edmonton.  We're getting closer and as we do, the nerves increase!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Snow that makes me grumpy...

Today is one of those tough days that sneak up on you for no reason.  I still know in my heart that I have so much to praise the Lord for, but today I'm having trouble getting past some minor annoyances.  Thankfully my cold was short lived and I'm feeling much better in that way.  Being sick caused me to get behind on a lot of my house work, between that and renovations, I'm living in a bit of a mess.

I can look out the window and appreciate the beauty of the snow, but I sure dislike it while I'm outside!  My boots are too difficult to bend over and put on, as a result I've been wearing slip on shoes and getting wet feet!  We all have those negative people in our lives that seem to complain constantly for no reason, today...that's me!

Sadie has continued to fight naps during the day, this raises my stress level as I truly need that break each day.  Please pray that Sadie would stop fighting naps and give in to her desire to sleep.  I'm sure there are moms all over that have this same prayer, not sure why God should choose to answer mine, but it doesn't hurt to ask!

Tomorrow morning is our last Calgary echo, they wouldn't normally be doing another echo here in Calgary but are concerned about the narrowing still and want to keep a close eye on it.  We're praying for good news about the size of Hope's aorta as well.  Shawn is not able to join me for the echo, it's always a long and draining test.  I'm hoping to use the time to journal and rejuvenate so I can get out of this funk.  I'm working to remind myself that even if I don't finish my to do list, life will still continue.

Today my prayer is for joy and peace, I continue to praise the Lord for the incredible ways that he blesses us each day.  I need my eyes to be opened to see these blessings more clearly.

Thank you for walking with us, even when we're not very chipper!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Three Short Weeks

It is hard to believe that we'll be settling in for our first night in Edmonton 3 weeks from now.  Time has gone so quickly and I feel like it's speeding up even more now.  We still have a lot to finish around the house, but are blessed to have a great group of guys coming to work on the painting tomorrow.  Hopefully we can at least finish the upstairs and get things back to working order, I can hardly stand the mess and lack of organization.

I'm currently suffering from, and denying, a bad chest cold.  Please pray that God would spare me from a long bout with this cold, and that it would fully clear and not return before Edmonton.  I'm hoping it's not the kind of cold that gets shared with my family as well.  I'm terrified of being sick while we're in Edmonton, we would have to move out of the Ronald McDonald House.  They don't allow you to stay there if you have a cold or flu, it's too dangerous for the other house guests that are in chemo and such.  It would make for a very expensive cold!

I had an OB appointment on Friday, they were very pleased with Hope's growth so far.  The OB said that Hope is actually big for a heart defect baby and they are surprised by her growth.  They continue to encourage me to gain as much weight as I can, this is easier on some days than others.  I'm quickly approaching the weight I delivered Sadie at and I'm starting to feel gross.  It's hard to feel attractive at the end of pregnancy when you don't have to gain extra weight!  I continually remind myself that the cardiologist was very firm when he told us that even an ounce would make a positive difference for Hope in surgery.  I'm eating desserts for Hope and I'll just have to remember that when she's out and I'm stuck with the damage for a while.

I have an echo on Wednesday and will get an update on Hope's aorta, I'll be sure to let you all know if there has been any growth.  This will be our last echo in Calgary, we'll have one more OB appointment and then will complete our Calgary care and transfer to the Edmonton team.  It's hard to believe we've gotten this far into the process, I'm starting to realize that it's almost time to go through labour again!  I greatly fear this labour as I know that Hope is so safe in the womb, I want to keep her there longer.

I have a lot of tough days right now as I struggle with the stress of relocating, renovating, the reality of Hope's delivery and the unknowns that are ahead of us.  I find myself feeling grumpy or frustrated over small, meaningless things.  I know it's the stress of everything approaching and I'm trying to stay on top of it and spare Shawn from it as well.  I'm being more intentional about spending time with my friends, it allows me to get out of the house and forget about all the things I should be doing.  I also know that I'll greatly miss them while I'm in Edmonton, and I need to take advantage of being so close to them now.

I need to get some sleep so I can fight this cold, but I'll be sure to update more as we get closer to departing.  I can only imagine that I'll be full of changing emotions and have lots to say!!  Thank you for continuing to hold us up in prayer and support us.  We truly appreciate the encouragement we receive from others and know that it gives us strength on the especially tough days.  We continue to trust the Lord with our journey and lean on him for everything we need, I believe he uses many of our friends to fill so many of our needs, for that we thank you.