Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I went to my computer to update my camera card for Hunter's 10 month photo folder only to find that I have not taken ONE picture in his week and a half after turning 9 months! All of his other montly folders have hundreds of pictures in them, and I find myself having trouble weeding through them to put on his blog posts.

I was upset for a few seconds, but then realized that the reason I don't have any pictures, is because I have been too busy making memories with him. He is figuring out how to put in the right shape block into the correct whole, he is taking steps, and playing games. He is just too cute right now to stop and find the camera! I have been enjoying living with him in that moment!

Don't worry, I am still going to take a ton, but I just found it funny that so far I have not one!
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Charlotte: 24 weeks

The first twenty weeks of this pregnancy flew by because I was admittedly way more focused on Hunter. He was barely 4 months when we found out, and just starting to blow through milestones such as rolling, talking, crawling, teeth, and so on. I thought it was nice because every week seemed to crawl by with Hunter, simply because I chose not to divert my attention elsewhere.

But now, here we are at 24 weeks (and 5 days), and I feel as though it has been months since we found out there were so many issues with my womb and possibly the baby. So long since we were told that the best option would probably be just to deliver because the tests indicated neural tube defects and that way I can start moving on. So long since I felt my world crash down around me. I admit that for that for one day I pictured delivering her.... into a world and in a time when I knew she would not survive. It devastated me. I felt like I was dying from the inside out, and I literally could not keep a straight thought in my head. I got mad when she would kick because she was making it so much harder to face the truth. For one day.

Enter Dr. Refuerzo. Enter..... hope. She saw what the other doctor could not see, and I love her for that. She took the time to scrutinize every inch of what appears to be a perfect baby girl and to tell us why the tests we had gotten back were most likely inaccurate.

So, here we are, on the verge of 25 weeks, ready to walk into another ultrasound and all of the things that I would normally tell you about this week in pregnancy seem so trivial. There is heartburn, rib pain, grumpy/emotional/hormonal mommy, frequent potty breaks, leg cramps, still some nausea, and insomnia. If I thought that I was able to embrace all of the 'bad' things about pregnancy with Hunter because it had taken so long to even get pregnant, it is nothing compared to being thankful for every popped Tums and being startled awake by a leg cramp I am experiencing now. Somehow, they make me feel better and like things are going ok in there. I think I even saw a stretch mark and I initially got excited because that means that my belly is growing. Growing so much I have earned a stretch mark. Don't fret..... it wasn't one :)

I have learned to accept a little more help with Hunter so that I am bending and picking up our little hulk baby a little bit less. If he is sleeping when we get home from work I can call my sister in law who lives across the street and she will carry him in the house. Daddy gives him lots of baths, and is helping with laundry and dishes, and get this..... we are going to hire a maid. Lucky for me, Hunter is pretty much a rockstar and gets loved on by all of my friends. My parents help by watching him and carrying him to my car when I pick him up after work. My mother in law grabs things from Sam's that we may need in bulk.

To say that I am ready to give birth is am understatement, because I just want to meet her. Hold her. See that she is perfect. I know that it is not time, but I wish more than anything that it was! I want her to grow, and to come when she is ready, I just wish it was already June!

We put a hold on the nursery and other baby purchases for about a month (for obvious reasons), and I still find myself hesitant to purchase things. It will just be that much harder if, "Surprise!", things actually weren't getting better or things go back downhill. It's hard living in a state of limbo.

Update: I just left our ultrasound a baby girl surprised us again! Her fluid went up almost 2 cm in one week! She looked perfect, and the tech even let me sneak a quick video of her! You can see her opening and closing her hand over her head. Last time she was swallowing a lot and you could see her opening and closing her mouth a ton, so I was hoping to catch that again, but the waving hand may be even better :)

We're still praying, and are hoping that you can say a prayer for her, too :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hunter Monthly: 9 months

Hunter is 9 months old! This means I only have about two months to plan his birthday party and I am still trying to decide between two themes (Superman vs. Sock Monkey). Eek!!

Hunter is trying to walk, and a few days before his 9 month birthday, he took his first independent step! He loves to stand up on something and let go, but usually the object is stationary so it is right there when he wants to hold on. This time, he stood up on daddy's knees, and when Tim walked away Hunter stood clapping for a while and when daddy moved even further away, Hunter took a step. I think the biggest problem was that Tim and I were so excited and loud that we scared/excited him and he plopped down!

He also now has 6 teeth! It is so weird to look into his mouth and see so many teeth in there! At the rate they are coming in, he will have his next set in soon, but I would not mind if they slowed down a bit. I don't know if I was expecting a perfect row of pearly whites, but the top ones are coming in kinda crazy! There is a big gap, for sure, but I am sure that is normal. I am already envisioning braces for our future!

Hunter is still loving eating, but now he enjoys snacking more than a real sit down meal. He will sit and eat half the jar and then want to go play. If you offer him bites, he will come back for a few more, then play, then a few more, then play... you get the picture. We think it is because he is having so much fun that he just can't sit still! He loves veggie flavored puffs, mandarins, and graham crackers as foods that he can feed himself,  but we still have to watch him because that poor boy just has not learned to pace himself yet! You can look over and he will have a whole mouth full of them! He can also feel himself from the squeeze pouches! It makes meal time pretty easy!

Hunter also loves ice water, and we are slowly teaching him to drink from a cup. We only pour in enough for about two sips,  but he loves it! Now, we can pour in enough for two sips and he will tip the cup and do it himself. Still messy, but you can hear him slurping it up! 

Hunter's sleep is not great. Last month when his three top teeth came in at the same time as a pretty bad cold his sleeping through the night went out the window. He was on an exactly every four hour wake up routine and we had to break him of that. Right now, at the end of the month he's been going to bed by 7:30, and will sleep for 7-8 hours before he wants a bottle. Then he'll sleep til about 7:00 or 7:30. We broke him of waking up for a bottle at 11:30 and will try to start skipping the early morning feeding in about a week or so. He's got another cold right now, so we figured we'd let him get through that!

Speaking of sleep, little man loves his blanket! He still gets so excited when he sees it out of bed, but when he's in bed he cuddles with it. He also has a scentsy monkey with a lavender insert that he literally pets while he's trying to fall asleep. Some mornings I check on him with the monitor and he's hugging it. Be still, my heart.....

He loves his blanket and monkey, but he also has other toys that he absolutely loves. He is also figuring out some of the 'harder' toys. He has a stand up/crawl through toy that looks like the front of a house because he loves to open and close doors. It also has a mailbox and he will open and close the door to the house and the mailbox over and over again. He is also trying to fit the right shapes into the correct holes. He doesn't get it very often, but it is cute watching him try because at this point he knows which toys need to get jammed into a slot, and he has also learned that he has to hold it a certain way so that his fingers don't block it. He is getting to where he really shows when he likes music as well, which is adorable!

He has one book that he really, really loves. I found it at TJMaxx, and had to get it because it is about puppies! He was also with me and started chewing on the corner and just didn't feel right putting it back on the shelf, haha! Each puppy in the picture has a spot that is textured, and he knows where each spot is even though they blend in pretty well! His favorite page has a really big and fluffy chest on the dog and he smiles when he finds that page, then 'pets' it. So cute!

Hunter love, love, loves to be outside, and now that the weather is starting to turn more 'Spring-like', we finally hung up his swing. He is in super heaven because he get to be outside, playing with mommy or daddy, and there is at least one dog to watch!

Hunter's little personality shows more and more each day. He can be goofy, but is more often a serious observer, he loves dogs, loves to eat, loves open refrigerator doors, loves his blankie, loves his mommy and daddy, loves to get what he wants (and will just take it), and absolutely loves to be independent. He is our little 'hulk', and we could not be more in love with this little boy!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grow, baby, grow!

We finally got another measurement ultrasound and I am so excited that Charlotte grew over two weeks worth! She is following her own growth curve, but its not like we were expecting her to grow 5 weeks worth in only 3 weeks time. She had a bad environment for who knows how long, and that greatly restricted her growth, which, in turn, prohibited her ability to help produce fluid.

Currently she is measuring about 21 weeks and I am a little over 23 weeks. She is still behind, but she is now working on her own growth curve. We need to keep in mind that Tim and I are both smaller people and she also may just be a smaller baby. When this whole thing started three weeks ago, she was under the 5th percentile. They don't tell you how far under, she was just under. Now she is in the 7th percentile, which is obviously a very good improvement!

On top of the good news of her growing, my fluid level is up over 11 cm!! She was moving an absolute ton in the ultrasound, and I love to feel her kick and stretch. We feel truly blessed to have doctors who feel as concerned for fixing Charlotte's environment as we have, and I am dreaming of the day where we can introduce her to the doctors who helped her and us so much.

We didn't get any pictures of her today, but I will make sure to ask for one next week! Thank you all for your prayers!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thanking God for Answered Prayers

This morning I was so nervous I could hardly drive to the hospital. I woke up early, drank some coconut water and poked at my belly trying to get Charlotte to kick and wiggle. She wasn't havin' it, and that did absolutely nothing for my nerves.

Luckily, our appointment was first thing in the morning so we didn't have to wait long. Tim dropped off Hunter at my parents' house while I finished getting ready and closed up the house. I got there first, which was ok, because at this office you have to check in at the hospital and then you get to go up to the office that you need. They make you wear a hospital wristband and everything..... its a pain and a half. Since we have been pretty frequent visitors, though, they let us just go straight up and do the wristband thing in the regular office.

While I was signing in and waiting for Tim, the doctor peeked her her head around the corner and said that she had gotten our amnio results last night. Then she looked around, and asked if Tim was coming. When I told her that he was, she looked relieved. She then asked if we just wanted to go ahead and look at the results before going into the ultrasound room. This made my nerves shoot through the roof! Why did I absolutely need my husband there? Was she thinking that there was something in the amnio results that would make us not even need an ultrasound?

Since I had woken up early, I managed to consume and unreal amount of water by the time the called me back at 9:30. I had used the restroom before I went up the elevator, then again when I got off the elevator, and felt like I needed to pee again before the ultrasound, but didn't want to be a pain so I figured I would wait until after. She scanned the ultrasound wand over my belly and we could see a huge black bubble. We have come to realize that black in an ultrasound is fluid, and I was hoping that it was the amniotic fluid. It was my bladder, a very full bladder. She asked if I needed to use the restroom, which by then I was dying (can you tell how often I am going these days?), so I got up. When we looked at the screen again, we could see Charlotte surrounded by black fluid. We have gotten so pretty used to seeing her squished up against the walls of my uterus that we could see a big difference right away. She started measuring the fluid level and we were both holding our breath and hoping that we were reading her code accurately.

There are two ways to measure fluid level. One being the amniotic fluid index (AFI) and the other being maximum vertical pocket (MVP). With AFI, they take a picture of the baby and measure 4 quadrants around her. Then they add the pockets together to get the measurement. With MVP, they find the one single largest (tallest) pocket and measure that. Then they multiply by four to get the amniotic fluid volume. Talking with one sonographer, we learned that the AFI is the older way to get the information, even though pretty much all doctors prefer to do it that way, but really MVP is more accurate and you want that one pocket to be over 2 cm. I tend to think that I would like to see the AFI because at our 3rd ultrasound since this whole scare happened there was one single pocket of 2 cm, and the rest were so small that they were immeasurable. Definitely not a good thing, but fine according to MVP rules. Of course, this is all just how I layman understands it! 

Back to the ultrasound....

All of her pockets were in the 2-3 cm range, with the largest vertical pocket being 3.2. We were ecstatic!! The doctor came in at this point, and looked along with us. She noticed right away that there was more fluid, and when she saw the numbers add up to 9.57 she was amazed! She said, "Whatever you're doing..... keep doing it!". We all marveled as we watched Charlotte drinking in the fluid, and wriggling around in there. If was very obvious that there was a substantial amount of increased fluid, and that was so exciting!

We then looked at the other issues that had been noticed. One being her echogenic bowels. Her tummy had been previously showing up as bright as bone in the ultrasound, but was explained by the blood in her fluid. Blood shows up brightly, and when she swallowed the fluid, it got in her belly. Luckily today, her belly did not look nearly as bright as before, and it was nowhere near as 'bright as bone' on the screen.

They scrutinized her spine and could see no features of a neural tube defect. The elevated numbers in the fluid at the time of the amnio was likely because there was so much of my blood in there.

The echogenic foci on the heart was still there, which still sucks, but the doctors are not worried about it. If this would have been the only thing that was seen initially, then they would have said that they happen often and either do not cause a problem or that they go away before birth. The problem was that there were other soft markers for Down's Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities, so it raised a red flag. Since we have been tested, nothing has come back abnormal.

They wouldn't measure her because it hadn't been three weeks since my last measurements were taken, so that will come tomorrow, and I am so anxious about it! I don't know if they want her to have caught up to where she should be, or just to have grown at all, or somewhere in between.

Leaving the doctor, I was so excited, but then when it came time to share the new update, it was hard to fully let myself be in a happy place. It isn't like I just had to pass one test to make it to the next level, we have to KEEP getting good reports. The fluid went from normal to crazy, dangerous, below level in a matter of four weeks, and managed to get up to a 'decent' level in two and a half weeks. I am so nervous that we will go in one week and see it back down to a nothing.

The outlet mall was close by, so before my next appointment I swung in there and picked up a few baby girl items. I feel weird buying girl items. Like, if I buy too many then I will jinx this whole good turn in events. That... and I have been programmed to buying boy things for a over a year!

I go back tomorrow and will get an update as soon as I can! Thank you for those who have prayed for this sweet baby girl! We love her so much already!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hunter Monthly: 8 Months

I started this post when Hunter turned 8 months old, and with all that has been going on with the pregnancy I forgot that I have not put it up yet!

Hunter is growing up so amazingly fast, but that's ok (for now), because every age that passes quickly becomes my new favorite!

The little man now has 5 teeth! Yes, FIVE! Only four are showing really well, but the fifth one (the other big front tooth) is poking through enough to count. It is so strange to look in his mouth and see all of these little pearly whites. Especially that big front one! He went though a stage of 3-4 days where he was grinding his teeth and it made the most awful sound. I had friends who came over to help with Hunter and deliver meals for Tim and I who can vouch for the terrible sound.

Hunter is a terribly fast crawler, but is very interested in standing, walking along furniture, and letting go to see how long he can stand on his own. One of his new favorite things to do is to stand up by the window and watch the dogs. Sophie is pretty antsy outside, so she makes for good entertainment. She will run to the grass, then back to the door by the window over and over again. He loves it! He will stand at the window and talk and slap his hands on the glass. He loves dogs, and I can't wait until he is 4 or 5 and we can surprise him with a puppy for Christmas or his birthday. I can't think of anything more fun than a little boy and a puppy (ok.... maybe a little girl and a pony)!

He loves doors, and things that he can open and close. He is also starting to stack things. When I am trying to work in the kitchen I will bring out a few plastic containers for him to play with and make a ton of noise with on the tile. They fit perfectly inside of each other, and I am not sure if he is purposely stacking them or if it happens on accident. Either way, it happens a lot! He loves to crawl to a door and swing it open and closed, he does the same with cabinet doors and the drawer under the oven. Definitely baby proofing is in our very near future!

The boy loves to make noise, noise, noise! Banging, talking, and yelling..... he loves to make his presence known! He is fun to watch with Isabella, he loves to watch her play and I think that watching her walk around is his motivation. He knows that his horizons will greatly be expanding once he can walk! For now, he will crawl over to her and take whatever toy that she has. Luckily, she is very patient with him! The only thing she doesn't like him to take..... the last puff out of her bowl (or her hand). But he doesn't care- it's already in his mouth!

He has started taking big boy baths in the bathtub! We only put 3-4 inches of water and a ton of toys. He can crawl around and splash and yell as much as he wants, it is a blast! Don't worry, we keep our hands either on him or very close all the time. If he is crawling and slips, is poor little face would be straight in the water, and mommy is NOT ok with that possibility.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. How do people do this? Sometimes I get so caught up in my hopeful thoughts, that when I think about the possibility of getting bad news at our next ultrasound I get overcome with how I felt the first day all over again. 

We haven't seen our girl in a week, and it feels like an eternity. We went through a stage where we got to see her beating heart and beautiful profile almost every other day. Granted, we would have chosen to have a great anatomy scan and not get to see her again for months. 

This past week, Tim and I feel like there have been some changes with the pregnancy. I look more pregnant. My belly is more defined and a bit bigger. I know that I am getting further along, but women tend to get larger bellies as they progress because the baby is getting bigger. I am hoping that this belly growth is a good sign that she is growing or that my fluid level is rising. Better yet, I am hoping for both. 

She has also been kicking a lot more, and Tim even got to feel two really good kicks. I have been trying to get him to feel for a week, but never seemed to catch the right time. He was very surprised when she got him really good, and then once more for good measure. At church on Sunday, she was moving a lot, but twice she made me jump with the force of her kicks! Again, I am hoping that this shows that she is getting bigger and stronger, but also that she has more fluid in to play around in and has the freedom to stretch. 

I am choosing to believe. In church, the pastor talked about believing that God can. I believe with my whole heart that God can make my womb suitable for her and that He can help her grow. There never really has been a day that I did not believe that He could help my Charlotte. I don't know if He will, but I know that He CAN. And for that, I am praying. Praying for fluid. Praying for growth. Praying for health. Praying for strength. 

I wake up thinking about her, and I fall asleep with her on my mind. Most of this is time spent praying for her. Please join us in our prayers. Her fight is not over yet.