Monday, September 30, 2013

Katelyn's Story- Part 1

Today would be Katelyn's 8th birthday. 
Eight years. 
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."
Lamentations 3:17-23
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. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let's Go Rangers!

Last Sunday, we took Parker to our final Rangers game this season.  Eden was going to come but backed out at the last minute.  Parker was thrilled that his best friend Trip was able to come with us.
   Their favorite part was definitely the cotton candy! 
Sweet friends!
During the game, they announced that after the game all fans could come down on the field and run the bases.  Both of the boys wanted to do this, so we stayed until the end of the game and then waited in line to go on the field.  Once we were on the field, the boys had fun running from first base to home plate.  The workers on the field were hurrying us along, but we were able to stop and take a couple of quick pictures.

It was not a great game (the Rangers lost 1-5) but we still had a fun time!  I can't wait to take the kids again next year!

Grandparent's Day

Last Thursday was Grandparent's Day at Thursday School.  The girls were excited that all four grandparents got to come eat lunch with them and even more excited that they brought them Happy Meals for lunch!  Since I wasn't there, I don't have a lot of details, but I know that they had a great time spending time with Granna, Granstan, Grandma, and Papa.  Being close to grandparents is one of the main reasons we moved back to Cleburne ten years ago and we feel so lucky to have parents that are so involved and invested in our kids' lives. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Day of Thursday School

Eden and Lily started Thursday School last week.  Eden has Ms. Angie and Lily has Ms. Debbie.  They both woke up excited and ready to go.  They were most excited about their backpacks and lunchboxes. 
Lily's excitement turned into nervousness when we walked in the building so Eden took her by the hand and walked her to class.  So sweet!  She was hesitant to go into the classroom but she never cried.  When I left her, she was still quite unsure of everything but ended up doing great all day.  Ms. Debbie said the only thing she didn't want to do was participate in singing time, which really surprised me because she loves to sing at home.  Overall, she had a great day!
Eden, on the other hand, walked right in, sat down and started playing with the PlayDoh at her seat. 
Ms. Angie said she had a perfect day and sent me this picture of Eden playing with a couple of friends during center time.
I'm so thankful that the girls did so well on their first day.  I'm excited that they get to share this preschool time together and look forward to a very fun year!

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Day of Sunshine Preschool

Eden had her first day of Sunshine Preschool today.  She goes to school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-12.  Her teacher this year is Miss Amy and she was so excited to find out that her sweet friend, Grace, was in her class. 
Eden was not nervous at all when I walked her into her classroom.  She and Grace sat down on the rug and started playing with blocks together.  I could hardly get her attention to tell her goodbye.
I know she is going to have a great time with Miss Amy this year.  I'm looking forward to watching her make lots of fun memories in her last year of preschool.