Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grieving Brady

This week has had a lot of ups and downs. I have never lost someone close to me before, so I didn't know what to expect in terms of how I would feel and how I would grieve. And now that I'm going through it, I'm still unsure about what to expect each day and how I'm supposed to feel. Each day, I try to keep myself busy, so that I don't think about Brady too much, but then I wonder if I should be thinking about him more to make sure I'm not holding my feelings in and preventing myself from grieving and healing. When I do get upset (which is usually about 2-3 times a day), I struggle with how long I should allow myself to be upset and when I need to just let it go. I know there is no right answer, because even someone else who has been through this exact situation (like many of the women on the Trisomy 13 website) will need a different grieving process in order to get through it.

The reason I am struggling is because I'm trying to figure out what the best grieving process is for me. I want to think about Brady each day, but every time I really think about him, I get upset. And I just don't know how much crying I should allow myself to do. The reasons I get upset range from missing Brady so much to also being upset that our dreams of becoming parents have now been delayed for another year. But, as I mentioned before, I promised Brady that I would try to focus on enjoying life and all that we have and not focus on what we don't have, so I get upset with myself for having a pity party that I don't have a baby to take care of yet. But at the same time, I'm upset because I miss Brady, so I should be able to cry about that. It's such a confusing mix of emotions and I have such trouble figuring them out and dealing with them each day. But I think it is getting slightly easier each day, so I'm trying to focus on that positive and hopeful thought.

Another weird situation I encountered this weekend was on Saturday when we did a lot of socializing. Throughout the day, I was drinking, but when I started to feel like I was getting buzzed, I would start drinking water because I really am not ready to be drunk yet and I don't really want to get drunk (or have the resulting hangover). Despite this, I had a really good time with all the friends we spent time with. However, when I went to bed Saturday night, I got really upset because even though I had a lot of fun, I don't really want that kind of life right now because I am so ready to have a baby to take care of, and I really want to take care of Brady. So that was a strange mix of emotions to go through, and I'm trying to just focus on the fact that I had a great time with great friends, and I have a wonderful life and wonderful friends, so I shouldn't be getting so upset.

Every night before bed, I pray and then I talk to Brady, and that always gets me emotional. I also get emotional about 1-2 times during the day. But thankfully, my emotional spells only last for about 10-30 minutes, so I'm spending the majority of the day either happy or at least not upset. Most of the day, I waiver between sad, so-so, and happy, and I never know when the mood is going to change. I guess that is pretty good at this point, since it's only been a week and a half since Brady was born. Sometimes I can't believe it's been that long.

Paul has been handling this situation much better than I have, and I think there are 2 reasons for that. Paul is a more realistic person than I am, so when we first got Brady's diagnosis a couple of months ago, Paul grieved a lot and then came to accept the fact that Brady would ultimately not make it. Because I decided to be hopeful instead of accepting, I am now having to go through the acceptance part, and he already did that, so after he had his initial grieving period the week after Brady was born, he is now already in the acceptance stage. The other reason I think it's a little easier for him to move on is because he wasn't pregnant, so he hadn't made changes to his life yet in anticipation of the baby, like I had. Part of what's hard about this situation is that I'm no longer pregnant and I also don't have a baby to take care of. I had already stopped drinking and started going to bed earlier, etc, and now I don't have to change my life anymore, so going back to how we used to live is a big change for me emotionally and mentally.

But I'm so thankful that Paul is so strong because he has been so integral to my healing. He is always here to listen to me and comfort me when I am upset or just need to talk. He doesn't judge me and he is completely supportive of how I need to grieve and heal. I couldn't ask for a better man to share my life with. He is so loving and wonderful, and that helps me with grieving and healing.

We have decided to take a week long vacation (starting next Saturday) to Sonoma Valley with a one day stop in San Francisco. We are looking forward to being able to get away from home, so that we can focus on spending quality time together in a relaxing and beautiful setting and enjoy good food and wine. Getting away from home will really help us to let go of all the stresses that we still feel while at home, so that we can focus on our grieving, healing, and just being together alone.

We want to thank all our neighbors who are cooking dinners for us. I can't tell you how much we appreciate this and how much it is needed. I spend the majority of my days either trying to get the house in order, or planning our much needed vacation, or planning the scrap book I'm going to make for Brady, or grieving. If I had to worry about what to cook for dinner, it would stress me out and just be too much for me to handle emotionally, especially since it's really hard for me to go out to the store these days. We feel so fortunate to have such wonderful friends to take care of us and support us and pray for us.

And we want to thank everyone who sent cards/emails/texts and plants/flowers/other gifts. It is so heartwarming to know that we have so many wonderful people praying for us and supporting us in this difficult time. Your support doesn't lessen the pain of losing Brady, but it really does help us remember how lucky we are and what a wonderful life we have, which helps us focus on being happy, and that is so important to our healing. We love getting your messages that ask how we're doing or that just let us know you're thinking of us, so keep them coming. And we will reach out to you when we are able to. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort for us to reach out, but we will do so when we can.

Take care and God bless you all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brady's burial

Yesterday we buried Brady. I thought it was going to be really hard and devastating, but it ended up being really nice. It went exactly how we wanted it to go, and that was really special for us. We only had close family at the service because we wanted it to be really intimate and we felt that we might have trouble speaking honestly and openly if we had more people there.

We started the service with Paul's dad (who is a minister) speaking about Brady and what God's purpose for his life was and how Brady touched so many of us and what he taught us. It was really nice. Next, my sister Jenny read a poem called "When God Calls Little Children". It was really sweet. After the poem, we had everyone write a letter to Brady and then they all read their letters aloud. Everyone had written such wonderfully sweet things to him. We are going to put the letters in a scrap book for Brady, so that we always have them and can read them to him again and again.

Paul's letter was particularly wonderful. He spoke about all the things he had wanted to do with Brady and teach Brady. It was so touching. After Paul read his letter, I spoke. I didn't read my letter because I had written so many letters to Brady already. Instead, I wanted to talk about what Brady had taught me and what I had promised him. He taught me unconditional love, and I promised him that I would show love to my family and friends more because love is the most important thing in life. Brady also taught me not to take life for granted and to find joy in every day. I found so much joy in every day that I spent with Brady while he was in my womb and after he was born, and I will continue to try to find joy in every day from now on because we never know what life is going to throw our way at any moment.

He also taught me to appreciate everything we have. Sometimes we tend to focus on what we don't have and want to get rather than appreciating what we do have, so we need to spend more time enjoying what we do have already. Brady also taught me how to be strong during hardships. Before this situation occurred, I'm sure that I never would have thought I could make it through something like this. But when it's happening, you just find the strength to get through it. This situation has definitely made me stronger personally, and it has made my and Paul's relationship stronger, and I am so thankful for that.

I am eternally grateful to have been chosen to be Brady's mother. At times I feel a little cheated that I never got to meet him and care for him and really feel like a mother, but I am grateful that God took him before he could feel any pain. I care much more about Brady not feeling any pain than my selfish wishes, so I am at peace with how everything happened.

I then read a poem sent to me by a woman I have been in contact with from the Trisomy 13 website that was absolutely perfect and beautiful. After that, we walked to Brady's grave site and Paul's dad said some closing words. Each of us then released a balloon for Brady. It was really nice and turned out so perfectly.

Of course, the entire service I was crying so much, but it was a good cry and not a devastating cry. I felt like I got some really good closure from the service and I feel really at peace with it. I can now focus on putting together Brady's scrap book and finding places to put all of these wonderful plants that you all have sent us, so that we can keep them around the house to remind us of Brady every day.

Thank you all for your kind words and support. We truly appreciate everything you all have done for us. We feel so incredibly fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends because we know that you all will help us get through the tough times and celebrate the good times.

We videotaped the entire service for 2 reasons. One is because my Mom and Dad weren't able to make it to the service because my Dad had to go to the hospital yesterday morning because of leg weakness, so we wanted to make sure they got to see the service. Please pray for my Dad that the doctors can figure out what is wrong and he can get the treatment he needs to get better. The second reason is so that we could share the burial service with all of you, since we didn't have you participate in person. We will send out a link to the video once we've put it together, but here is a web album of all the pictures we have taken:

Love you all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brady's birth and passing

On Wednesday, September 15th, I went to my doctor appointment in the morning. When they took my blood pressure, it was 160/100. When I spoke with the doctor, she said that this high of a blood pressure is just too severe to ignore and it most likely indicates severe preeclampsia. They took my blood and urine to do some tests, but my doctor said that even if those tests come back normal, this high of blood pressure is too unsafe because it could cause me to seizure. I had no idea it could be this bad. So they had me go to a room in the Labor & Delivery section of the hospital so that they could monitor my blood pressure every 15 minutes, like they did last Saturday.

During this time, my blood pressure kept climbing into the 170s and 180s! I think it even hit 190 at one point. One of the labor & delivery doctors came in and said that this meant I would have to be induced, which I had already figured out. We discussed monitoring Brady during the induction, but because he was so small (under 500 grams), there would be no way to keep him alive even if we did a c-section to try to get him to be born alive. Since we want future children and we didn't want to introduce additional risk to me, we had already decided against a c-section this early in the pregnancy because we knew that Brady wouldn't be able to make it even if he was born alive because there wouldn't even be a tube small enough to fit down his throat. So we decided against monitoring him during labor because I didn't want to know if he had passed anyway. That would have just made it harder to get through the labor process.

They took me to a delivery room and gave me a little lunch, since I was starving, but I ended up not being able to eat much because I was so anxious. After that, they hooked me up to an IV to give me fluids to keep me hydrated and to give me magnesium sulfate (aka mag) to keep me from having seizures during the labor process, since my blood pressure would continue to stay high and possibly go higher during that time. The mag sucks. It makes you feel hot, nauseous, and completely groggy and out of it. They gave me 3 big doses really quickly, which made me really hot, so I had to keep fanning myself with a piece of paper to keep from overheating. After that, I didn't feel too badly, at least at first. After those 3 initial doses, they slowly kept giving me the mag during the entire labor process, so I was always on it. They also gave me something to start the induction process, which they said could take 24-36 hours at least, so I was expecting to be in this for a long while and I was not looking forward it.

Soon after I got those first 3 doses, Paul got to the hospital with all of our stuff (he had to go home from work to get all our stuff before coming to the hospital, so he wasn't able to get there right away). Then we started the waiting game. My blood pressure was being taken every 30 minutes, and it was staying pretty high (150s-160s). Because of the mag, I wasn't really in the mood to play backgammon or watch tv, so we just listened to some soothing music (Enya and Moby) and talked a little bit. Various doctors came to check on me and talk to me about the process, including an anesthesiologist to discuss the epidural, which I definitely wanted (I don't know how people do natural births!). Because I was on mag and could possibly have a seizure, I wasn't allowed to eat, so that sucked (you know how I love to eat and get so ornery when I'm hungry). All I could do was eat ice chips and drink a little water.

Paul was so wonderful through this entire process. He continually got me ice chips or anything else I needed without hesitation. He never complained about anything, even when I would wake him out of sleep to get something for me. He was so incredibly supportive, loving, and appreciative of what I was going through for Brady. I could not ask for a better husband nor a better person to have gone through this with. I can't imagine having to go through this without him. He is my savior.

Originally, they had said that I was going to get doses of the induction medicine every 4 hours (not Pitocin to start the labor, but something else to actually get my cervix to soften and dilate, which normally happens naturally over the course of several weeks in a normal pregnancy, and we were trying to condense that down to a day or so). So I got another pill of that 4 hours after the first one, but then they decided to give me 3 more pills an hour later. I think they had decided to speed up the process because my blood pressure was staying so high and they were concerned for my health. At one point during this time, I started feeling nauseous from the mag, so they gave me some Zofran, which worked great. I also started feeling very crampy and in pain, so they gave me morphine, which was awesome (never had that before, but it worked great!).

Paul's parents and sister got to the hospital around 8:00 or so. My parents were driving down from Ohio because they had been out of town all weekend, so they had a while to go yet. My sister was coming the next morning, since labor was supposed to take so long. Around 9:00, I started feeling a lot of pain, so I asked for my epidural. The anesthesiologist was a little busy with other patients (apparently there were a lot of women giving birth that night), so I had to wait a little while, and I was in agony! That was so incredibly painful. And I wasn't even dilated yet! But I guess it was because I had so much of that medicine that was trying to dilate me.

Finally the anesthesiologist came in and I got the epidural. It was so awesome. I finally felt so much better; although, I was still pretty hot from the mag, so I was freezing every out because I got them to turn down the room temperature so much. But they didn't mind :) Paul's parents and sister went back to our house to sleep, since the process was supposed to continue to go slowly. My parents got there around 2:00 and hung out for a bit, but then started going back to our house to get some sleep before the big day. But then around 2:30 AM, I was dilated about 4 cm. They gave me another 3 pills of the medicine and said they would come back to check on me in an hour. Around 3:00 AM, I was all of a sudden in major pain (even with the epidural!), so we called the nurse into the room. She checked my status and I was already dilated 10 cm! The pain was caused from the pressure of my water, so she broke my water and I felt SO much better.

After my water broke, my contractions slowed down. My parents came back to the hospital and Paul's parents and sister came too. They all hung out for a while and we all fell asleep waiting for something to happen. The nurse had told me to let her know when I started feeling a lot more pressure, but the contractions continued to stay pretty moderate and only occur every 7 minutes. Finally, around 5:15 AM, the nurse came back in and said we were going to try to deliver since my contractions really hadn't started progressing any more. Everyone left the room and we got ready to deliver.

I couldn't believe it was about to happen. I was hoping Brady was going to be alive, so that I could meet him briefly, but I was pretty sure he had already passed at that point. I only had to do 2 pushes and Brady was out because he was so small. He was born at 5:33 AM on September 16th weighing only 1 lb and measuring 11 1/4" in length. It was totally surreal and felt anticlimactic because it was so quick, but I was thankful that it was so easy and pretty painless. The nurse handed him to me immediately and I finally got to meet him. The nurse checked his heartbeat and confirmed that he had already passed.

Seeing Brady for the first time was amazing. During the pregnancy, I had fears that his deformities would make him a little scary looking, but he was so beautiful and cute. And he looked so much like Paul, it was amazing. He had Paul's nose and super blond eyebrows. And his face had the same shape as Paul's, with the cheeks and mouth just like Paul's. Even the shape of his head was like Paul's. It was awesome. I was so happy, but so sad at the same time. It was heartbreaking holding my baby boy but not truly getting to meet him. However, I know that God is taking care of him, and I know that God took him early in the labor process to keep him from feeling any more pain. And for that, I am so thankful.

After the birth, we took lots of pictures and videos. Everyone got to hold him and take a picture with him. And I got to sleep with him on my chest. It was so great. I wanted to spend so much time with him. It was really special. When everyone left, Paul and I got to spend more time with Brady by ourselves, and that was really special too. Eventually, we got moved to another room with a more comfortable bed. I tried to sleep some, but that was hard to do with all the monitoring they were doing and the discomfort I was feeling. We also had to have them take Brady during the day because he was starting to not do so well, and that was really hard to let him go. I really didn't want to be without him at all, but I knew it was better if he was taken away so that he didn't get any worse. Our parents came back later that night, but they didn't stay long because I was so groggy and not feeling well from the mag (that stuff SUCKS!).

Throughout the night I wasn't able to sleep very well because I was being monitored every hour and because I felt so awful. My blood pressure was still high and I was retaining a lot of water. Finally, around 3:00 AM, the water started draining and my blood pressure started going down. At 5:30 AM, they took me off the mag and I was allowed to eat; although, I couldn't really eat since I hadn't eaten anything for almost 2 days. I ate some crackers, but that was all I could get down. I tried to rest some more, but I still felt pretty bad. They gave me some Percocet and Motrin for my discomfort and that really helped, but I think the Percocet also made me really groggy because I was still pretty tired and out of it for most of the day.

Later in the morning, Paul helped me shower (I couldn't walk or stand very steadily because I was so weak) and that helped me feel a little better. We spoke with the hospital chaplain and he really helped us to figure out how we would want to memorialize Brady, not only now, but also in the future. It was really nice. Everyone at UNC hospital was awesome...the nurses were always helpful and nice and smiling, the doctors were always concerned and helpful, and everyone else we encountered was so nice. I will definitely be going to UNC again for my future pregnancies.

Throughout the day, I was able to eat a little more and walk around a little more. We were really missing Brady, so we had the nurse bring him back so that we could spend the afternoon with him. Our parents came back after lunch and we took more pictures and hung out with Brady. It was really nice. After our parents left, we spent more time with Brady. Paul read him another chapter from the book we had been reading him while I was pregnant, and we talked to him some more. We finally had to say goodbye, so that the funeral home could come pick him up. That was really hard to do. We did not want to say goodbye to him, but we knew we had to.

We decided that we wanted to go home that day (Friday), so we finally got discharged that night. Leaving the hospital and going home was really hard without Brady. We felt so empty leaving without him and knowing that we wouldn't ever be able to be with him. I also felt like I had been cheated out of really being a mother and feared that I would forget the feeling of holding him and knowing he was our baby. The overload of all these different emotions was so overwhelming and hard to deal with, but Paul and I talked through them and he helped me deal with them. That night, I slept better than I had in the hospital, but I still didn't sleep very well. In the morning, I cried a lot because I didn't have Brady to care for when I woke up. It was a really hard realization being home and not having him to take care of. But Paul and I comforted each other and that really helped. I am so lucky to have him.

Saturday went pretty well. Paul's friend brought us breakfast, which was so nice, and that helped bring us some sense of normalcy. In the early afternoon, we went to the cemetery to finalize the plans for Brady's burial. It didn't take long because we had already done all the preparations in advance, and we were so thankful for that. It would have been so much harder to get through if we hadn't done that. We realized that God had really led us through the pregnancy the entire way and had made it as painless as possible for us. All the ultrasounds and doctor appointments I had were timed so perfectly to allow us to get the information we needed at the right times in order to allow us to make decisions and preparations when we needed to. I am really happy with how everything went, how much time we got to spend with Brady and the way in which we were able to grieve and handle everything.

Saturday afternoon, we tried to focus on normal life for a while, so we watched some football and tried not to focus too much on our grief. Saturday afternoon, one of Paul's coworkers dropped off food and some friends dropped off some plants. It was really nice. Our parents also got some plants for the burial, and I printed out some pictures for the burial service.

Sunday morning started off better than Saturday morning, but then it got hard again. Paul and I spent the morning preparing for the burial service. During the service, we are going to have each family member write a letter to Brady, and that letter is going to go in the scrap book we are making for Brady. So we were preparing the paper with the pictures for the letters. After lunch, Paul and I went to the funeral home to say our final goodbyes to Brady and place things in his casket...the journal I have been writing letters to him in, his clothes, a VT football, a stuffed dog, a stuffed VT Hokie bird, some flowers, and a few other items. We took more pictures and then Paul read another chapter of the book to him. We talked to him some more and then we said our final goodbyes. It was really hard to say goodbye to him, but it was really good closure for us. Again, we did not want to leave him but knew we had to. We couldn't believe it was really the last time we were going to see him.

In the afternoon, we did more preparations for the burial service and then took a break and watched some football and hung out with our family. After dinner, we printed out pictures of Brady to put on a couple of poster boards for the service and made a song play list to play during the service. We also prepared the speeches we are going to make tomorrow. So it was an emotional day for us.

Tomorrow we bury Brady and say our goodbyes as a family. We know it's going to be so hard for us and we aren't really ready for this to all be over, but it's time. The last few days have made me realize how hard the next several months are going to be. I think this entire year is going to be hard, but each day will be easier than the previous day. I promised Brady I would try to find joy in every day and continue living life and loving those around me. Brady taught me so much about strength and love and remembering to not take life for granted and appreciate everything I have in life, like family and friends, and to make sure to always try to find the joy in life and be a better person, friend, spouse, and family member. Brady touched so many of your lives, and I feel like that is such a miracle and I'm so thankful for that.

I thank you all for all the love and support you have shown us and I look forward to spending time with you as I try to move on and learn to live with this pain. I understand God's purpose for Brady's life and I completely accept it, but it still brings me pain because I miss him so much and wish he was here with me. I have so much unconditional love for him and wish he was here for me to give it to him in person, but I know he is looking down on me and is taken care of in heaven and no longer knows any pain. So I am at peace with it.

I will get stronger and happier one day at a time. And I will always think of Brady and talk to him and keep his memory alive and joyful.

Here is a picture of our beautiful baby boy Brady.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brady seems to be growing!

The past few days have been much better since I changed my attitude. I'm a lot happier and feeling more positive. I'm still trying not to think about the future and just take one day at a time, and that's definitely helping. I measured myself yesterday and I was 38.5" and then I measured again today and I was 39"! I didn't really eat a bunch of bad food yesterday, so hopefully that's Brady growing and not me just getting fatter! LOL! But I really do think Brady is growing because my belly looks even more prominent than it did last week, and I'm SO excited about that! Brady needs to keep growing, so any change in my belly is exciting for me. Plus, it seems like Brady's movements are sometimes getting a little more pronounced, which means that he's getting stronger! I keep hoping for more of those every day.

Tomorrow I go back to the doctor for a regular check-up. Since I don't have any symptoms of preeclampsia (such as a pain in the upper right side of my body, persistent headaches, excessive swelling in my face and hands, and vision blurring), I am hoping that means that I still don't have it. I assume that tomorrow they will do another urine test (not the 24-hour one, just the regular one) and possibly a blood test (maybe only if the urine has protein in it again), but we will see. I'm anticipating that my blood pressure will still be really high, since it was consistently high for 2 hours on Saturday, but I don't think that's a problem as long as I don't develop preeclampsia.

So, please pray that I continue to stay healthy and don't develop preeclampsia, and please pray that Brady continues growing. Every day that I wake up and hear his heartbeat is another day we've made it. Here's to hoping for a good morning tomorrow morning :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good news today

This morning I went to UNC hospital to drop off my 24-hour urine sample (by the way, a 24-hour urine test means that I collect my urine in a jug at home for 24 hours and then they test it - super fun :)). I thought they were just going to take my urine and then take my blood pressure and I would be on my way. Boy was I wrong! They put me in a room and hooked me up to the blood pressure machine to take it every 15 minutes. They also took blood to test that for any signs of preeclampsia because my blood pressure was still really high (157/87) and they were unsure if the lab would run my urine analysis because it was the weekend.

I ended up being there for 2 hours waiting for the results, and during that time, my blood pressure was moving around in the high range. At the end, it even got up to 157/102! And I felt like I was relaxed, so I didn't think it was because I was stressed or anxious. So I figured I would definitely have at least mild preeclampsia. But the doctor came in and said that my urine analysis and blood results came back as normal! The protein in my urine was at 208 mg, and the threshold for mild preeclampsia is 300 mg, so I guess it's possible I could eventually develop preeclampsia, but I don't have it yet, so that's really great. My next appointment is this Wednesday morning, during which I assume they will possibly test my blood and urine again if my blood pressure is high just to make sure things haven't progressed negatively. We'll see.

I must admit, when I got the results this morning, I wasn't sure how to feel. I should have been super happy and excited, but honestly I wasn't sure how I felt. Sometimes I feel like I just want some kind of definite result, even if it is negative, so that we aren't constantly in this limbo, unsure of what's going to happen, but then I feel like a horrible person for thinking that because that would mean that it's over for Brady, and that's not good! This limbo and constant yo-yo of emotions and thoughts is really starting to wear on me and Paul. Every time I go to the doctor or get test results, my emotions run wild. It just absolutely sucks. And I feel like I'm getting worse at handling it, maybe because it's been going on for so long now (almost 2 months!) and because I'm now going to the doctor more often, so my emotions are being thrown for a loop more often. And now I'm starting to go to the doctor even more often, so it's only going to get worse!

So all day I've been feeling sorry for myself and having trouble being happy and positive. But I don't want to feel that way! Thankfully, tonight I spoke with a friend and I was giving her some advice, and after I got off the phone with her, I realized that I need to take my own advice. I need to realize that this is just a temporary hardship that Paul, Brady, and I are going through, but we will get through it and end up okay, whatever the outcome may be. If Brady lives, we will be so happy and feel so blessed to have him and take care of him. If he doesn't make it, he will be taken care of because he will be with God, and Paul and I will mourn him and get past the loss and find ways to remember him with happiness instead of sadness. This situation is just temporary and there are so many other things that I need to remember to be thankful for.

So, as I've mentioned before, I am going to continue trying to focus on each day as it comes and recognize the great moments of each day and be thankful for them. I know this won't always be easy, so I will try to go easy on myself when I slip up, but I'm going to try really hard not to let myself get down. The one thing that I still need to figure out is how to set my expectations appropriately for each doctor appointment, so that I'm not so greatly affected by what happens at the appointment. Changing my expectations to expect the worst did not seem to help my reaction to a doctor appointment because today I was expecting the worst and the best outcome actually occurred, and instead of being happy, I was confused and still upset, which sucked! I realized that the only thing that has been constant throughout this situation has been the unexpected. So, here is my new approach. From now on, each day, I will expect to be surprised. I will expect the unexpected. I feel like there are still so many things that could happen that I don't even know about, so I can't expect them, and I don't want to. I don't want to expect the best and be devastated, and I hate trying to expect the worst, so I will just expect the unexpected. Let's hope that works better! I'll let you know on Wednesday :)

By the way, if you don't want to have to check the blog for my updates, you can click the "Follow" button, so that you get an email each time I update the blog.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today is a better day

Thankfully, I'm feeling much better today than yesterday. Yesterday was really rough on me. I think it's because I am trying to stay hopeful, but also because I feel like I'm trying to prepare myself for one situation (like Brady passing in the womb because of the reversed end-diastolic flow issue), but I don't see other situations coming (like the preeclampsia). I guess I should have seen that as a possibility, but since I took my blood pressure this past weekend at the grocery store and it wasn't too high, I figured I was okay. I guess I just need to prepare myself each time I go to the doctor that something else could be wrong, even though I don't know what that something else could be.

At this point, I'm still not sure how to feel. I still feel a little hopeful that things could turn out okay, but we're also trying to prepare for the worst, so we might start making more plans for Brady's funeral. With how often I have to go to the doctor now, I want to start preparing myself more for the worst outcome because I can't keep doing this yo-yo between hope and despair. If I still have some hope but I also assume the worst, maybe that will help me deal with this situation better. So, in preparation for getting back the 24-hour urine sample results, I will hope that everything is actually okay, but I will assume the worst, that I already am in or close to the severe range of preeclampsia and may need to deliver Brady next week. That way, if it is that bad, I can just accept it and deal with it without falling apart too much, and if it ends up being okay, then I can be relieved and happy. That seems like a better coping strategy, so let's hope it works!

In the meantime, I am going through people's suggestions for memorializing Brady and figuring out what we want to do. Hopefully that will help me feel close to him but not get too overly upset. Who knows. For now, I'm just happy it's a better day.

I decided to do another bump picture. Not too much change. I was 151 lbs at the doctor yesterday, so I've gained about 20 lbs so far. Not too bad. If I continued the remaining 14 weeks of the pregnancy and gained about 1 lb a week, the total would be about 34 lbs, which is in the normal range. So hopefully I won't have too much trouble getting the weight off afterwards! We'll see :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things just keep getting worse

Well, I had another OB appointment this morning, and my blood pressure was really high again (153/90), and this time I had protein in my urine (2+). The protein is a really bad sign because it could mean that I have preeclampsia. For those of you who don't know what preeclampsia is, it's basically a condition where the body is having some kind of bad interaction with the placenta. Typically it doesn't occur until later in the third trimester (I start the third trimester tomorrow - 26 weeks along), but it's not really surprising in my case because of Brady having Trisomy 13. Since Brady has T-13, the placenta isn't quite made right, and since it's malfunctioning now (as we saw from the last appointment when we found out that the blood is flowing backwards when Brady's heart relaxes, which is called Reversed End-Diastolic Flow), my body is probably starting to react to that even more.

Preeclampsia can cause all kinds of issues - kidney failure, blood platelet counts dropping, liver problems, and even neurologic problems like seizures, which can cause permanent damage. There are some treatments, but the only real treatment is to deliver the baby. In a normal pregnancy, they might try to hold off on delivering the baby until further along in the pregnancy, but since Brady has a low chance of survival anyway, that wouldn't really be the right course of action for me because it would be too much risk to my health.

So, tomorrow I get to do a 24-hour urine sample again - I already had to do one early in the pregnancy because of high blood pressure, which is good because now they have a baseline against which to compare these new results. If the protein in my urine is above 300 mg, that means I have preeclampsia. If the protein level is below 3 g, then the preeclampsia is mild, but if it's 3 g or more, then the preeclampsia is severe. If it's mild, then I will start getting blood tests twice a week to monitor other effects, such as kidney and liver issues and blood platelet counts, and if any of those go past a certain threshold, then I will have to deliver Brady early. If the preeclampsia is already severe, then I assume I will have to deliver him as early as Monday. I will find out the results of the 24-hour urine test this Saturday or Sunday. If I have to deliver him because of preeclampsia, they will give me magnesium sulfate intravenously during labor to prevent any issues from occurring. Apparently, the magnesium sulfate makes you feel like you've been run over by a truck, so 24-36 hours of feeling like that during labor will not be fun.

You'd think after getting bad news at every appointment, I would start to expect it, but since I'm focusing so much on being hopeful, I don't expect it. So this is another upsetting day. At this point, I have no idea what I'm supposed to feel. It's getting to the point where hope just doesn't seem to be realistic anymore, but maybe I just need to be hopeful about something different. Maybe if we have to deliver early because of the preeclampsia, that will allow us to meet Brady alive; whereas, if we didn't deliver early, he might pass away in the womb. Who knows.

It's getting harder to get through each day not knowing what's going to happen, but I'm still trying to focus on the good things each day. I guess that's why when something goes badly (like the Virginia Tech game Monday night), I get abnormally upset, because I'm trying so hard to have something good to focus on. And I guess it doesn't help that I'm sleeping worse these days, from having crazy dreams and having to get up to pee more often. I thought that was because I'm getting bigger now, but maybe it's the preeclampsia, I don't know. I guess we'll write this off as a bad day and hope for a better day tomorrow. Pray for strength.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hope is prevailing

Yesterday and today have been much better than Monday and Tuesday. I am doing a lot better now that I am focusing on hope for Brady again. Some may think it's futile to be hopeful in a situation like this, but only God knows what he has in store for Brady, so I should be hopeful for the best because we've already planned for the worst, so now I want to live on hope.

Paul and I decided last night that we are not going to plan for Brady's memorial right now. If it happens, we want to plan his memorial while we are in the grieving state of mind because only then will we really know how we feel and what we want to do to remember him. I feel really good about this decision. We've done the initial planning with the funeral home and cemetary, and we are gathering ideas for memorializing him, so if it does happen, we will be prepared to make the final decisions without having to do all the research we have already done. So please keep sending your ideas. We really appreciate your contributions and we look forward to you sending your ideas. We will just wait to make any final decisions until it happens.

So now my plan is to just focus on Brady and regular every day life. I want to focus on having fun and being in a positive, happy state of mind for Brady. If I am stressed or unhappy, he will feel so effects, and I don't want that. So that means I will probably be doing a lot of pretending that this situation isn't happening because it really doesn't do any good to keep thinking about it when there is really nothing I can do at this point. I will continue going to my regular OB appointments, but I don't think we will do any more tests on Brady until I am much further along because doing additional tests will only help us for after he is born, so we'll probably wait on those until I am closer to my due date.

I really appreciate everyone's texts, emails, and blog comments checking on us. It is so touching how much you all care for us and support us. We love you all.

Here is the 3D ultrasound picture of Brady from Monday. It's kind of freaky looking, but kind of cool too. You can see his arm up in front of his face (he wasn't happy about the ultrasound). I think that's his eye socket above and to the left of his arm, and you can see his chin and I think part of his mouth below his arm. To the right of his face is placenta material or something, so that's why that looks weird. Just wanted you to see our little man!