Monday, November 28, 2016

Our Journey Through Fetal Medicine: Thanksgiving

Was last week really Thanksgiving?! Well, to keep in the spirit of the holidays I will still be thankful this week. We have so much for which to praise God.

Our Friends/Family
I have no idea where we would be in this journey without our friends and family. Y'all have been prayer warriors, confidants, shoulders to cry on. You have been present. It is not lost on us that you carried us through the past 26 weeks.

Our Doctors
What a team of specialists we were blessed with. From Odessa to Houston and all in between our doctors have coordinated and shared results, research, and knowledge to help us through this pregnancy. Even when we had the most grim outlooks our hearts could imagine, it was the doctors and genetic counselors who let us ask questions and cry whenever we needed. They did not shut their doors when it was a fatal diagnosis. They still let us come into the office and receive ultrasounds so that our hearts could be full. I don't think in this day and age we hear enough about the quality of doctors we have in this country, but I am so thankful for our healthcare and the level of understanding our doctors have.

The Holidays
Last week we spent a week in San Antonio and all of South Texas visiting with Cash's family. It was a sweet time to relax and let Henry enjoy playing with his cousins. We saw all of the grandparents and most of his aunts and uncles. I'm sure my sister-in-law woke up this morning extra thankful she was only cooking for the 5 of them, but she hosted us so graciously for a week. A WEEK, Y'ALL!! A week of her mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew in her space. I think I heard the pope was giving her sainthood. She also sent us with three large boxes of girl clothes. I have never been in such a sea of pink, but I couldn't help but ooh and aww over every outfit I pulled out. (Side note: please, no one, send clothes for Ann Louise. The girl now has enough to last through her senior year of high school!)

Did I mention the girls whooped the boys in Battle of the Sexes?

Henry, Cash, and Mamaw--our first time to see her stand on her own since her stroke 2 years ago. She's a rockstar and where Ann Louise gets part of her name.

MRI Results
Last, but certainly not least, today we received preliminary MRI results from last week. The doctor said it was all positive! The bladder and kidneys look the same as they do on the ultrasounds, so no surprises there. The liver is good (which was a relief after the ultrasound showing possible signs of a spot last week). And the biggest of all was the colon: they see nothing abnormal!! That rules out some nasty stuff such as the megacystic microcolon and cloaca. That call relieved us from worrying about multiple organ transplants and/or another fatal diagnosis. This was huge.

The doc also said she will meet with the team tomorrow and visit with the urologist. Hopefully Wednesday we know more about where we may have to deliver. At this time she is leaning toward Odessa instead of Houston because it does not look like Ann Louise will have to have an immediate surgery. Due to her thick bladder chances are high that she will need some sort of surgery or a permanent catheter at some point after birth, but that will depend on what the entire team of specialists conclude as well as postnatal monitoring. Great news would be to deliver in Odessa.

Midland does not have a NICU. We know certainly Ann Louise will need ultrasounds after she is born, so at minimum we will be in Odessa. However, Odessa does not have the type of pediatric surgeons Ann Louise may need, so a good chance still remains that we will temporarily move to Houston, Dallas, or Forth Worth for a couple months. If they think she can wait on the surgeries, we will deliver in Odessa. If there is a chance the surgery is imminent after birth, then we will go to a major medical center.

our traditional going to the doctor for Ann Louise picture

The Actual MRI
I am thankful we were able to have the MRI. It is hard for me to say I'm thankful to have gone through it. I've never had an MRI and had no idea what to expect. As they were walking me into the room, they said to expect 2 hours in the machine. TWO HOURS!!! As I went head first into an enclosed capsule I thought no way was I going to make it. I almost started crying.

It was 11:30 and I could not eat until after the testing. The only thing I had that morning was some apple juice and 2 Benadryl. I was so sleepy but had to keep holding my breath as they took different images so the baby would be as still as possible. After about an hour I got hot and started thinking I couldn't make it. I finally called to the technician and told him I was too hot and he needed to get me out of there. He said surprisingly he was on his last one. I thought okay, I can make it just a few more seconds. Then my whole body started going numb, and all I could feel below my shoulders was tingling. I could feel myself starting to pass out and started yelling to get me out of there, but he was still on his last image. As I braced myself to hang in there, I kept thinking, "They are going to find me in this machine plum passed out."

Finally, he came in and said that the baby cooperated and he had gotten all the images in only one hour. Well, shoot. Just one hour of my entire body including my arms strapped to a gurney whilst not moving.

The doctor was with him the entire MRI and had headed up to her office to load the images. They felt certain we would get preliminary results that afternoon. After grabbing a quick bite, we went in for our ultrasound with a different doctor. It showed nothing really new, so the doc had us head back to San Antonio and said she would call that afternoon with MRI results.

We did not hear from her until this morning, so it was a long wait. As I mentioned the MRI was going to reveal some big, nasty things. It was the pinnacle of this stretch in the pregnancy. So while we tried to avert our attention, it was hard not to wonder all weekend if we had another fatal diagnosis or if we had a healthy baby. That's a pretty big difference in results.

Patience has become our game. We are resting now that these major complications have been ruled out. Knock on wood, but the next big news we expect to get will be after Ann Louise is born. I can hardly believe that as I type it. God has been so faithful to us. From holding our hearts when we found out our dear little girl would be born without a chance at life to the miracle he performed on her body to now giving us peace as we continue to wait, God has shown us time and time again that He does not leave us nor forsake us. The past 26 weeks have been perhaps the longest of my life, but they have also been some of the best.

That sounds a bit crazy to say these are the best weeks of my life. But we have been able to rest in Christ and receive one of His miracles while growing our marriage and leaning so much on one another. This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for so much, but perhaps I'm most thankful for God making me wait all those years ago when I wanted to be married so badly but had not a {good} prospect in mind. I look at my husband today and know without a doubt God gave me the greatest earthly gift in him. He is my absolute best friend, and I couldn't make it through these trials and times of worry without him sitting there by me in the doctor's office or holding me while I cry in the middle of the night.

Last week as we waited to get checked in for the MRI, Cash reached over and put his hand on my back and said a prayer. It was silent. I don't have any idea what he said. (Okay, maybe an idea..) But while we sat there I said my own prayer thanking God for all of his miracles but mostly for the one sitting next to me.

Henry giving Dada kisses while I melt.

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