Friday, June 29, 2012

IUGR

We knew Merritt had IUGR (Intra-uterine growth restriction) due to her omphalocele.  You can click on the link but it doesn't really pertain to me in that description - basically, she has done all she can inside the womb.  She has not grown significantly in over a month... maybe a few ounces.  The O does not allow her to gain weight like she should for obvious reasons.  Usually in the 9th month of pregnancy they generally sit there and put on weight.  Not Merritt.  She would sit there for another month and still weigh the same as she does right now....but probably pass away before that time.   So they are sticking with the delivery at 37 weeks.  She looked great today.  Breach.  But doing well:  breathing great, had the hiccups for an hour, moving and drinking amniotic fluid! 


There has been alot of discussion trying to coordinate a million different doctors' schedules (we have 2 OB/GYN's, a MFM (maternal fetal specialist), the MFM fellow, a pediatric surgeon,  a pediatric cardiologist, and a neonatologist, and if you want to throw in a anesthesiologist for good measure).  For over 2 weeks all we've heard is "we'll play it by ear."  Well this ear has gone deaf hearing that.  We needed answers today.  I knew many of the doctors we see were going on vacation in July.  Apparently no one else was aware of that fact.   We meet the actual OB/GYN that will perform the C-section next week but -----  L.O.N.G. story short ------>  the surgeon, Dr. B2, put his foot down (thank goodness) and demanded first thing Monday morning, July 9th.  He is the first to leave for vacation that following weekend and wanted as much time with her as possible.  I've only met him once, and I'm liking him more and more!  


I will eventually reveal the doctor's names for those of you interested, but things are constantly changing for us, and I'm not sure what to think about privacy issues in that regard.  Especially if something unwanted or unpredictable happens in the near future.  


Merritt must know how much I enjoy planning a birthday party and is now forcing me to share all of her parties with her older sister.  Yes, they will be 1 day apart.  MC's birthday is July 8th and Merritt's will be July 9th.  I find it ironic because MC's actual due date and my scheduled induction was for the 9th but she came a day early on her own.  Lets pray Merritt does NOT fall in her big sis' footsteps! I do not want history to repeat itself in that regard.  Matt calls me crazy, but I had a plan.  MC's birthday is on the 8th, Mattox's is on the 9th, and Merritt's was suppose to be on the 10th!  They messed up my plan...but once again, what plan is there really?  Apparently I am meant to have a baby on July 9th! 9 more days!!!!!
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Music to my ears

Had a bad week emotionally and spiritually.  I was back on rock bottom thinking (once again) that God had passed out all his miracles for the day and that I had reached my limit on mercy.  It took a person/stranger on Facebook (a FB friend that I've never actually met) to remind me: "God chose YOU to be her parent.  He knew that she would get to walk a difficult journey at the beginning of her life and He CHOSE you to walk it with her.  What an honor.  He knows YOU can handle it...He will give you the strength."   Thank you, Danielle, for those words!


I began to think I saw a shimmer of light at the bottom of the hole I dug myself into.  I kept praying for God to bring me out of this depression and help me be a better parent.  I was failing the 2 kids already here by ignoring them (or I felt I was ignoring them - don't worry this is not actual neglect).  


Last night I decided to rest on the couch after I put the kids to bed.  No TV.  No Facebook.  No blog.  No phone.  Well, sort of.  I was sitting in complete darkness and silence.  Turned on my Pandora radio to the Contemporary Christian station on my iPhone and threw it onto my lap.  I wasn't really feeling the music for several songs.  Then all of a sudden I noticed Merritt was going BESERK over a Chris Tomlin song.  Wow.  So many thoughts went through my mind.


#1:  I had forgotten that she is still a NORMAL baby.  When I was pregnant with Mati Claire, she had a thing for the 80's hair bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard.  She also liked church music on Sunday mornings.  Mattox liked country music after some serious coercing.  He never responded to music in general but I forced him to pick something.  I would blare any music loud until he would move...and country it was.  Merritt, well, she has good taste too! LOL!  


#2:  God used that song to remind me that His mercy never stops and His glory is everywhere.  So just when I thought I had run out of His love - He keeps giving it!  I may be surprised at what happens in this journey, but He isn't. "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11.  I look forward to the day when I'm with Jesus and there are no more tears! 


#3:  I learned this week that I am very lucky to have experienced this journey so far.  C.R.A.Z.Y. I know.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone but I had no idea what kind of love we're capable of.  What God is capable of.  The testing of your faith really does make you stronger.  Yes I have bad and sad days but I don't doubt His love for me.  Songs that I didn't understand before or couldn't relate to - make sense now.  I thought before if I put my trust in Him, then it seemed to me that I was giving up.  Like I didn't care.  But it's the opposite.  I care TOO much, and at the same time I realize I have NO control.  So I will sit back and watch what God will do.  Whether its good or bad.  It is HIS plan.  


Sorry, I know this is getting long.  I was looking at a new baby the other day in the dr.'s office.  And maybe the fact that this enters my mind every time means that I am, but I have never become jealous over it.  As soon as the thought enters my mind, it leaves just as quick.  I've had alot of people ask if it bothers me to be around other babies - "normal" babies.  Not at all!  I have been there and done that.  Twice!  For some reason, God thinks I have what it takes to care for a special needs baby that needs extra care.  I don't see how He sees that considering I have 2 older kids that also need attention.  But God still gave her to me anyway.  And who am I to argue with that?  So He sees something that I don't.  


Yes, I would love to change the health status of Merritt but I wouldn't change a thing about how it's improved my faith.  As hard as it is to get there.  

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Breaking Down


I will not break down. I will not break down. I will not break down.


It seems everyone and everything is breaking on me lately...and I am very close to it myself if you don't count the crying sessions every night when I think about Merritt too much.   We had been in our house EXACTLY 2 years (plus a day after all warranties expired) when the bottom fell out.  2 years later... again.  In the past month, we have had a toilet stop working, electrical outlet problems (trust me I'm waiting for the house to burn down over those), a water leak in our bedroom from the roof, the gate broke, and today our air conditioner went out!  This preggo snapped when the A/C quit.


People?  Well, lets just say Merritt is not in the best of health overall.  hehe.  I'm sort of dreading 2 weeks from now and the stress is starting to get to me.  My grandfather died in March and my grandmother just recently got out of the hospital.  And I'm just at the end of this pregnancy = mis.er.a.ble.  No, I don't look like I'd be miserable with the size of my belly - but trust me I am.  I had to start my morning off with 2 Tylenol today because my back was hurting so bad before I even got out of bed!


Then on top of my hospital bills, regular bills, and now-extra bills for broken down appliances, I had to pay $181.00 to the City of Ridgeland for my ridiculous traffic ticket!!!!!  Ugh!


Ok. So there's my vent for the week.  Whew.  Sorry.  At least the house is breaking down now instead of 2 weeks from now.  I am drowning.   and Matt? He was asleep for the all the utility repairmen visits today... and he takes it all in stride.  I'm glad I married him.  Truly my better half.  He is excited to be taking ALOT of time off next month.  But not more excited than these 2:

These 2 have become quite the best of friends. I love it.

Mati Claire is spending her summer in swimming lessons.  She has given me too many heart-attacks over the past years.  She will do lessons until she is a pro and diving flips off the board.  I will not negotiate.  I have even considered signing her up to take throughout the year instead of just summers.
She has definitely made significant progress in the last few weeks because, as of last weekend, tubing at the lake was not good enough - she wants to learn to water ski now.


And how is Mattox spending his summer?  Potty training.  Help me, Jesus.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

A few of my favorite things

Baby things.  And I'm not talking about my favorite diaper cream or brand of diapers.  If you know me... then you know I like to shop!  And nothing makes me feel better than a splurge!  When it comes to babies... the stuff is just too darn cute to pass up.  


Most of these items were gifts, but I've added a few new things to show you.  What do you get a baby that will have everything handed down to her from big sis?  What do you get a baby that will stay in the NICU for awhile?  Lets take a look:

I am in love.  Check out the "Toe Blooms" with my diaper covers! 

Apple Annies in Brandon, MS has done all 3 of my hospital door signs.  This one is my favorite.  I took a piece of her bedding to the store and she painted it to match.  Mom will take it back the day I have her and they finish it with date/weight/length measurements.  Love. 

I found these when Mattox was born.  He is spoiled rotten.  They are so soft and cuddly without over-doing it.  My favorite crib sheets ever and worth every penny.  Mattox has blue and brown and loves them!

Come to momma!  Yes, that's a diaper bag.  Call me crazy.  Whatever.  I love it and it makes me happy. 

I am not showing you her hats.  A girl has to keep a few secrets and surprises in her back pocket.  This baby will be a diva no doubt.  She's already mastered the drama to go with it.     

Thank you Pamela for more must-haves!  Love love love!

So after a horrible day today (got a ticket for "ignoring a traffic device" that I did not see...clearly), I came home to a few baby gifts that put a smile on my face! 


And the sonographer has a new nickname for her:  Alvin.  "She's got some jaws!"  (insert a strong southern accent and draw the word jaws into 2 or 3 syllables).   I made the comment that she must be packing some nuts because she has some cheeks!  As in Alvin and the Chipmunks.  We shall see how true she rings though.  
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ready or Not

She's coming soon!  And depending on the day I may or may not be ready.  I am getting extremely nervous and scared.  So most of my thoughts have been depressing and angry.  But on the flip side - I am very excited and ready to meet Miss Merritt!  


"When you lie down, you will not be afraid... For the Lord will be your confidence"   Proverbs 3:24, 26.  


I would love for yall to read a blog post that is in my list to the right - or you can click HERE for Finley's update.   It is long - but an excellent example of future struggles for O babies after their initial 'fix'.  I've had alot of people assume that after the surgeries - she'll be "fine".  It is a sneak peak into one day in the life of an O baby (that I consider one of the lucky ones).  


As of today, I've got exactly 3 weeks left (21 days and counting now).  I am 34+ weeks pregnant and I've had 31 doctor appointments, 21 ultrasounds, 9 BPP's, 3 echocardiograms, 1 amnio, and 1 MRI.... so far.  You can add 6 more ultrasounds and 1 more amnio that I know about in the coming weeks.  
They plan to do another amnio that I am NOT looking forward to the day before the section to see if her lungs are developed enough to deliver.  It takes only 4 hours to get those results back.  Which reminds me of another FAQ:  Why are they taking her at 37 weeks?  Apparently there is an extremely high risk of her being stillborn after 38 weeks.  I quote from one of the doctors "there is something magical about the 37th week" as far as stillborn goes.  We plan to take her at 37 weeks 3 days.   The other FAQ lately is:  Will we have any more children?  I.Don't.Know.  Not likely, but we're not ruling anything out just yet.  I may become another Duggar and let go and let God! lol! ;)  


Here's a few pics over the last few weeks.  The sonographers see me so much that they love me Merritt and give me a few extra 4D pics.  Today they estimated her weight at 3 lbs and 12 oz (minus the O) and said she has ALOT of hair!  I can't wait to see how accurate they are!  (fyi - hair doesn't show up in 4D pics like you think it would so you won't see it).  

"For the love of all that is holy... STOP looking at me!"   ;)



"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear... he who fears has not been made perfect in love."  1John 4:18
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to the best dad anyone could ask for!  And the best Poppy! I could go on and on about how great he is, but just wanted to say I love my DAD!  And no one can make the kids laugh like you do!


And to the other greatest Dad, Matt.  He works a crazy schedule just so he can see our kids more.  Believe it or not, if he worked a "normal" day schedule, he would be gone before they wake up and wouldn't get home until after they went to bed = never see them.  By working nights, he gets to come home to them waking up and we get to have a family dinner every night before he goes to work.  It took me 2 years to get used to this concept, but its days like today, that I truly appreciate it.  Happy Father's Day Matt!  from Mati Claire, Mattox, and Merritt!




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Saturday, June 9, 2012

FAQ's

I guess since I have only 4 weeks left, I've been asked several of the same questions lately.  I will try to answer them here for those who are wondering and have not asked yet.  I am also going to throw in some general fyi.  

1)  What kind of surgery is she having and what does it involve? 
I mentioned a long time ago that Merritt has 2 options.  I call it Plan A (the faster route) and Plan B (the slower route).  We decided with the surgeon that we will try Plan A, called the "Shuster or Silo or reduction" method.  I am posting this video because they describe it better than I can.   I am warning you now that images are graphic in some cases.  I really try to limit those, but with the delivery nearing I don't know how to avoid it.  This is actually one of the nicer videos I've found... you could easily go on You Tube and search "omphalocele" and find very disturbing images... which I have found to be my life now. 




IF Merritt is one of the babies that can't handle the organ reduction and her lungs go into distress, we will attempt to pull back and begin Plan B, which is called the "Paint and Wait."   That is where we will "paint" the O with different types of medicines (antibacterial and skin thickening agents used for burn patients) and "wait" for the skin to grow over the O sac... which will take weeks to months.  During this time, Matt and I would apply ace bandages over the dressings with some pressure to gradually push the organs back in over several months.  Then when she's older (usually around 12 months old) the surgeon will perform the final closure of the abdominal wall.


There are pros and cons to each Plan.  And I don't think there is a perfect way to do this or a right or wrong way.  We are letting Merritt and her lungs decide which road she wants to travel.


2)  What kind of clothes can she wear?
Not sure yet.  The NICU told me she won't be wearing any clothes anytime soon until she reaches the crib stage.  You can see that because of a protruding belly, "normal" baby clothes won't fit over it.  And with numerous tubes coming from every part of her... onesies just don't fit the case.  As of right now, I have bought a few kimono style shirts or anything that buttons down the front so i can leave a few buttons open around it.  I am assuming that gowns and dresses will be the easiest on everyone later.  I am open for suggestions from any NICU nurse or other O mom reading this that is familiar.


3)  What can I pray for specifically?
Please please please pray for strength.  Physical and emotional.  For both me and Merritt.   Pray for a smooth delivery, recovery, and no complications.   Pray for weight gain.  The bigger she is the more room she'll have for the organs.


4)  Will I breastfeed?
I will have to pump.  I won't be allowed to pick her up and she will only be allowed a few drops of breast milk later to see how her body takes it.  O babies have absorbing issues and don't gain weight like they should... for obvious reasons.  I am heartbroken over this but its something I have to get over.  Never fear though - I think I was a cow in a former life... I can feed the entire NICU with breast milk.  ;)


5)  How long will she be in the hospital?
Best case scenario, we were told around 1 month.  With complications and MOST (not all) O babies stay on average 1-3 months (so we were told).  Severe cases will stay longer.


6)  Will I have a C-section?
Yes.  I have to laugh at this question, because I've had 2 previous sections.  And I do not dilate.  And for safety reasons (we do not want to harm the O sac).


7)  How many weeks do I have left?  And why am I not showing much?
Approximately 4 weeks and 2 days.   We scheduled her delivery for Tuesday July 10th.  And because God makes everyone different.  I told one lady (a GAP employee) that Merritt had one leg in my leg and the other in my other leg and she was standing parallel with me.  Sad thing is I think she believed me.   I've gained a total of 16 pounds now and Dr. T is not worried about it.  I eat plenty.  And that's all I can do.




Her BPP's are going well.  She has passed every one with 8/8 scores.  She has hair and personality!  We estimated her weight yesterday at 3 lbs 7 oz, but that is off because they can not measure her abdomen correctly which throws off the calculation.  So she probably weighs more than that.  I will leave with you with a few baby shower pics from this past week.  Our Sunday School class threw us a joint shower for me and Cari Jo.  Thank you all again for doing that - I had an awesome time!  Yall are wonderful and I appreciate everything!

Thank you Tiffany for hosting! AR and M love ice cream!
CariJo and I coincidentally each bought our gifts from Hopscotch
She may not be able to wear clothes, but she will be the best accessorized baby in the NICU! How cute is this pixie hat?
More headbands! Yay!!!
Cari Jo and I (with Merritt and Addy Ryan)
Such a sweet gift:  a headband to wear as newborn and garter the day she gets married. 
I love diapers! Best gift ever! 



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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mermaid Birthday Party


Probably my favorite picture of the 100's we took! 
MC and my nieces, Kerigan and Kennedy, in their dresses that match the cake!
Love. Love. Love.
Food table
Our 5 Glofish (Nina, Pinta, Santa, Maria, and Phoebe) that were originally named Ariel's sisters because we had King Triton and his castle under the drink dispenser.  But MC insisted on having a Nina.  
My new favorite drink dispenser that I found at Sam's ($20)
I want to be a cake baker.  This is amazing. No I did not make this. 
Sushi Sandwiches: Sea "Cucumbers" and Ham and Cheese
Goldfish and Blue Licorice
Oyster Cookies made by my sister, Heather
Spicy oyster crackers
Fruit Beach Ball Cookie made by mom, Gigi
Oreo balls AKA sea urchins
Rock candy
"A Splash of Water"
My hanging poms....how they originally looked and I made them into:
Beautiful hanging poms! one of my faves of the party! Suppose to resemble coral or maybe a barrier reef or barnacles...what do you think? coral? 
Treasure chest, made by my mom
Amazing what you can find at your local Cracker Barrel restaurant: mermaid doll and blue sand hourglass.  Below is my jellyfish!  and the starfish table.  

Did not make this. 
She got bashful when everyone started singing Happy Birthday!

That is one big waterslide
The backyard
She is so happy in her "non-ruffled" swimsuit. My love is your love, babe. ;)  
We FINALLY got her out on the slide and smiling!
Where was Mattox during all this? Playing in the bubbles...
Or in the pool with Daddy 
What are the rules and laws of an arranged marriage? Love me some Kellan.  
Mati Claire and Claire.  Probably the last time they will see each other. *sniff sniff*
And the last two pics are the party favors.































We had to have Mati Claire's 5th birthday party a little early this year since we have set Merritt's arrival date of July 10th = 2 days after Mati Claire's birthday (July 8th).  I do think it loses some of the excitement by having it so early and MC has been totally misunderstanding the situation.  She thinks her birthday is the day of the party.  But...she'll thank me later.  I couldn't have done half of this party if I had waited until 37 weeks pregnant.  I almost went into labor this past Friday though = a snake crawled over my foot while cleaning up the pool area.  The 2 delivery guys that were setting up tents and the waterslide literally ran away when I told them.  I had to wake Matt up after he had been up almost 24 hours straight.  Ugh! It took me almost 3 hours to finally calm down and catch my breath.  I was pretty much worthless after that.


LOVED having my family here for a visit.  But no one enjoyed it more than MC.  She has been in a depression since they left.  But they helped me do everything for the party and then some!  My mom worked hard on another table cloth for me that I loved but the picture is not cooperating with me and my computer.  I should have renamed this party "Ruffles and Bubbles" instead of Mermaids.  


This party has taught me: how to fish-tail braid hair, make a piƱata, connect tissue poms, that fondant icing does NOT go in the fridge or it will melt, that real starfish STINK, MC does not like ruffles on her swimsuits, and that black men will run away from a snake leaving a very pregnant lady to fend for herself.  ;)  many lessons learned here, people.


Here is the list and links of where I got all the party stuff for those of you wondering.  And I have already resold some things if you are interested in anything.  If not, it has gone to the lake house to decorate the last bedroom! ha!  Some of the ideas came from Pinterest.  You can follow my boards there and check all this out, or click on the links below.  


Invitations:  ScrapYourStory
Swimsuit:  by Kate Mack
Mermaid dress:  MyaPapayaBoutique
Ruffled wreath:  knockknock Factory
Cookie Party Favor:  TSCookies
Message in a bottle Party Favor:  WeddingsAway
Jellyfish:  Pinterest.  Tutorial from HERE.
Cake:  Pinterest from HERE.  Made by Dream Cakes   
Hanging Poms/Coral:  Idea from HERE.  Poms from PaperwhiteDesigns
Water bottle labels:  3PeasPrints
Straws:  isakayboutique
Fish net/Fish supplies/Decorations:  Petsmart, American Aquarium Products, and Shindigz
Streamers/Utensils/Napkins/Etc:  Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Michael's, and Party City
Clam Cookies:  familyfun.go.com
Starfish Smores (that I never got around to making):  hungryhappenings.com
Beach Ball Fruit Cookie:  hungryhappenings.com
Cucumber sandwich recipe:  from Mississippi Magazine
Sushi Sandwich:  idea from HERE
Waterslide/tents/bubble machine:  Bouncearoo


Whew!!! I'm tired now.  I can relax and enjoy the month of June now before the real drama starts.  Happy (early) birthday to my sweet and beautiful girl, Mati Claire!