Today would be Katelyn's 8th birthday.
Some days it seems so long ago and other days it seems like just yesterday that our world was turned upside down.
One day last week, these were the verses in my Bible reading:
"Peace has been stripped away,
and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
I cry out, "My splendor is gone!
Everything I hoped for from the Lord is lost!"
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning."
The days, weeks, and months after losing Katelyn were some of the darkest days of my life. The grief was so overwhelming and there were so many days when I had no hope at all. But just as in every other hardship in my life, God was faithful to see me through. He brought me out of my despair and turned my sorrow into joy. I am so thankful for such a loving God!
As I thought about Katelyn's birthday today, I realized that I have never taken the time to write about the day that she was born (and all of the events leading up to that day). Although she was only with us for a very short time, she still has a story. A story that greatly impacted our lives. A story worthy of sharing, especially with Parker, Eden and Lily. Even though they will never know their sister here on Earth, I still want them to know about her and how she had a huge part in making me the mom I am today. So here goes...
It all started in June 2005. After just two short months of trying, we found out the week of our 7th anniversary that we were expecting! It was hard to believe that it had happened so quickly, but I was beyond excited! My excitement quickly turned to worry when I started spotting at what I thought was 8 weeks into my pregnancy. After an unplanned trip to the doctor and an unexpected sonogram, we were able to see the heartbeat for the first time. It was such a relief and my worry quickly subsided. The doctor said that I was only 6 weeks along according to the measurements on the sonogram.
The morning sickness started shortly after that visit. Debilitating nausea all day long. Luckily I was on summer break so I was able to lay around on the couch and rest a lot. I remember eating a lot of Triscuits and having a HUGE aversion to any type of meat. I could not even look at meat without feeling sick.
At 12 weeks, I had another sonogram. Aunt MerMer was about to leave for another year of teaching in Prague, so I invited her to come with me since she would miss everything else during the rest of the pregnancy. The sonographer said that everything looked good and we got to see the baby moving a lot during the sonogram.
About this time, my morning sickness started getting worse, not better like it should have at this point in the pregnancy. I was vomiting a lot in the morning and just felt awful all day long. Working became really hard but since this was my first pregnancy, I just assumed that this was normal and pushed through every day. I remember going during my conference period, laying down on the floor in my room with the lights out, and crying because I felt so bad. I was taking anti-nausea medicine but it just didn't seem to help at all.
A few weeks later, I had another appointment with my OB and was asked if I wanted to have a quad screening (a blood test that screens for things like Down Syndrome and spina bifida). Cory's good friend, Nabeel, had encouraged us to get this screening so that we would be prepared just in case something showed up in the screening. We decided to go ahead and have the blood test. It turns out that this quad screening probably saved my life.
About a week after the screening, my OB personally called me one night at home. She said that my quad screening had come back positive for spina bifida and that she wanted me to see a specialist (Dr. Thigpen) the next week for a detailed Level 2 sonogram. She kept encouraging me by telling me that there are a lot of false positives with the quad screening and that everything was probably going to be fine. For some reason, I never worried about something being wrong with the baby, even after my OB called. Several of my friends knew people who had had false positive quad screenings and I just assumed that mine was a false positive too. I was even a little excited that we would get to find out the gender of our baby a few weeks earlier than we had planned.
My appointment was scheduled for Thursday, September 29th- the first day of my school's fall break. The week before the appointment was a very rough week. Sunday night, we went to eat at Olive Garden and I was up ALL night with what I thought was extreme heartburn and pain in my upper right quadrant. I also started noticing that my urine was very orange in color when I went to the bathroom. I thought I just wasn't drinking enough water and told myself that I needed to add more water to my daily routine. On Tuesday night, I realized that I had suddenly developed cankles. I was so distraught! I knew that my ankles would swell during pregnancy, but I had no idea that it would be this soon! Looking back, I now know that all three of these were signs that I was developing preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome, but since it was my first pregnancy, I had no idea that these things weren't normal nor did I know that things were about to go from bad to worse.
The morning of the appointment, I put on a maternity shirt for the first (and only) time. I was so excited that I was finally showing enough to wear some of the maternity clothes I had bought. We waited in the waiting room for almost two hours before we were called back. While we waited, they brought me back to the lab for a urine sample and to take my blood pressure. The nurse noticed that my blood pressure was quite elevated and asked if I had had high blood pressure in the past. They also noticed that I had a lot of protein in my urine (which caused the orange color).
When it was finally time for our sonogram, the sonographer told me that she was going to take some initial measurements before Dr. Thigpen came in to finish the exam. Up until this point, I still was not anxious or worried that something was wrong. And then she started the sonogram. I think I realized when the sonographer worked for 15 minutes without saying a word that something wasn't right. And when I asked her if she could tell the baby's gender, she still said nothing.
She left the room without saying a word and a few minutes later, Dr. Thigpen walked in. He started his sonogram and within minutes started showing us things that didn't look right. Our baby had hydrocephalus (swelling in the brain), there was no septum formed between the chambers of the heart, and all other measurements were two weeks behind schedule. He suspected a genetic condition called triploidy but would have to do an amniocentesis to confirm what he was thinking. Cory and I had to decide right then what to do. We decided to go ahead with the procedure and within minutes I had a huge needle being stuck into my stomach. Dr. Thigpen was such a wonderful doctor. He had a great bed side manner and made us feel comfortable in the midst of our world falling apart right there in that room. He was honest but compassionate all at the same time.
The results of the amnio would not be back for several days, but Dr. Thigpen was very worried about my high blood pressure that had continued to rise during the appointment so he sent me over to the hospital for an hour of observation. During that hour, my blood pressure steadily rose to 190/120 and the swelling in my legs became so bad that Dr. Thigpen decided that we couldn't wait until the results of the amnio came back to make any decisions about the baby. He made the decision right then and there that I would be delivering our baby that day.