Sunday, June 28, 2009

Daddy is her Hero

This afternoon, Maddie and I headed out to Target together. The zipper on my purse had completely busted, so it was time for a new one. We were listening to children's Bible songs in the car and when I told Maddie why we were going shopping, she said...

M: "Does Jesus know about your purse, Mommy?"
L: "Well, I guess He does."
M:"Is He going to fix it?"
L: "I don't think so."
M: (thinking for a moment) "Jesus can fix ANYTHING...just like Daddy!"

Wow, now that's one little girl who puts her Daddy on a very high pedestal! He's Super Daddy!
Daddy can FIX anything, DO anything...

Mommy, on the other hand, well...Maddie usually says, "Don't worry. Mommy will clean it!" Apparently I'm not super-human, but I am a pretty good MAID! :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baby James update

Hi Everybody! Today was another looooong 3-hour doctor visit. (I wish they would feel a *bit more* sense of urgency instead of taking their own sweet time! Hurry up and wait!)

First we met with a genetic counselor, who mapped out our family medical history, my pregnancy history, etc. There really aren't any birth defects or genetic problems on either side that we know of. The only similarities are between my pregnancy history and that of my cousin Jen (on my dad's side)--we've both suffered multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth, many times within months of each other. Which makes me think that if there is something hereditary going on, it's starting with my generation. In the back of my mind, I also wonder if there's something going on that only impacts boys, since this growth disorder has been a factor with Nicholas and James (the miscarriages were too early to determine the sex, but it could have been a factor there too...perhaps Maddie was our miracle girl!).

I'd talked with my OB this morning about the risks of doing an amniocentesis and he felt they were low, especially since I'm late in my 2nd trimester, and he's never had a patient have problems due to an amnio in all his years of practice, so that made me feel better. We told the genetic counselor that we wanted to do the amnio, so they did it after my ultrasound today. Felt very crampy with a needle poking into my uterus, but I guess that's what you'd expect when you pierce a huge muscle with a sharp instrument! :-) I have to take it easy for the next 24 hours and can't lift Maddie, but luckily she's quite independent these days (thus the "Nooooo, I'll do it all by myself!" mantra). We'll have to wait 1 week to find out if I've had some kind of infection that impacted the baby & up to 2 weeks for the test results to find out if the baby has a chromosomal abnormality or other birth defect that could be causing his growth problems. My next OB appointment and ultrasound will also be in 2 weeks. Sheesh, I feel like my whole life is now in 2 week incriments!

As far as the ultrasound, we had a different tech and a different perinatologist (thank goodness, since that last guy was pretty harsh!) and they did give us some good news!
Here are the answers to prayer so far...
1. my amniotic fluid is now at a normal level (from 9 up to 13)
2. she did NOT see any problems with the heart on the ultrasound and did not consider it to be at an odd angle
3. she couldn't be 100% certain, but for now she does NOT think James has an echogenic bowel
These are each direct answers to prayer, so praise be to God and to all of you who are faithfully sending up your prayers on James' behalf!

James is still measuring 2 weeks behind (I'm at 24 weeks and he's at 22 week size), but his growth is holding steady over time so far and he's growing evenly, so it's not like one part of the body is lagging behind another. Keith was watching the ultrasound tech do all the measurements and as the guy was dragging his cursor across the body parts, you could see the growth measurements changing on the bottom of the screen. The guy measured things really fast (which I assumed was because he does this all the time), but Keith noted that a shift of even one or two cursor spaces to either side changed the dates by half a week or even though James is small overall, there is bound to be some give-and-take on the measurements just due to human error. Keith's taking a very optimistic view and bet me that the amnio results will come back normal and that our guy is healthy, just a "little peanut". I'd sure LOVE for that to be the case!

We sooo appreciate all of you who are praying for James and our family and hopefully we'll continue to have news to share in the coming weeks of how God is faithfully answering our prayers! Keep it up! :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


We just got home from a fun and eventful trip to Ohio. Lots of fun staying with family, visiting Keith's college friends & going to a wedding (Keith was a groomsman). The one downside was the heat--85 degrees and HUMID every day. Yuck! I'm an "everything in moderation" girl and that definitely includes the weather! I'll take 70 degrees and partly sunny any day! :-)

Here are some trip highlights:

*driving to Cincinnati (1.5 hours each way) to see sister-and-brother-in-law's house (we'd never done this, so after 5 years it was about time!), hanging out with cousins Dominic (2.5) and Sophia (9 months), and a pizza feed at Matt & Caroline's house (Keith's friends from college)
Sophia, crawling (9 months)

*playing at the park & picnic with more of Keith's college friends--Rachel and her 3 kiddos, Tyler and his adorable Beagle-Pug mix "McFly" (isn't that a great dog name?!)
*wedding rehearsal dinner
Rachel's daughter Rita, Maddie & my 23-week preggo belly :-)

*hanging out with family: grandma, grandpa, great grandparents, sister-in-law & brother-in-law and cousins
*Maddie & Dominic dancing up a storm

*Troy & Megan's wedding
Keith's hilarious college buddies, Brent & Scott

my hubby, who even looks handsome in PINK! :-)

*celebrating Father's Day with a family BBQ (Maddie says, "Mmmm! TASTY!")
*Maddie & Dominic playing in the sprinklers, "washing" the car & getting covered head-to-toe in melting ice cream treats
(Note: Up until Uncle Chris spoiled it {hee hee}, I'd had Maddie convinced that the truck that drives by the park all the time was just the "music truck". Well, when the "music truck" went by this time, Uncle Chris treated the kids to ice cream. Now it's "MOM, did you know the music truck has ICE CREAM in it?!!") :-)
*squirting Grandpa with the new motorized water guns he bought for the kids

*relaxing with the grandparents until our evening flight home

Now, here are the *lowlights*: Summary=Airlines suck! On our flights to Ohio, we left Portland at 2pm and got to Denver at 5:30 (their time), expecting to board our next flight at 7pm and arrive in Columbus by midnight. Well, United (hate them) informed us that there was a "mechanical problem" with our aircraft and that they'd need to FLY IN the replacement part. That's right folks, hurry up and wait. So there was much snacking-running up and down the terminal-racing on the moving walkways-sitting on concrete floors going on. Want to know when we actually got on our flight? 10PM, people! Yup, 4.5 oh-so-fun hours waiting in an airport with a fussy 2.5-year-old. Joy of all joys. Oh, and when did we get to Ohio? That would be 3 in the morning...with a little girl who only slept for 1 HOUR on the plane (which by then was 11pm her time) + no daytime nap = Meltdown City.

So, I figured that since we had an awful flight there, we deserved a smooth & uneventful flight home. No such luck. We are cursed! We didn't leave Columbus until 7pm, had a good flight to Minneapolis, and got on our next plane at 9:30pm. A 3.5 hour flight, putting us in to Portland at 11:15pm if all goes well. About half-way into the flight (1am Ohio time & still no sleep for Maddie), the captain gets on the loudspeaker to announce a medical emergency & requests any doctors or nurses on board to help. The patient is in the aisle in 1st class, they're giving oxygen & hanging IV's. At this point I know I should be more concerned with the person's well-being, but I'm also annoyed because this happened to us on our last trip to Ohio too! 20 minutes pass and the captain comes on again: we'll need to make an emergency landing and the closest place is Great Falls, Montana about 30 minutes away. Great! We land and are greeted with flashing lights on fire trucks and ambulances on the tarmac. The EMT's come on with a stretcher, the captain has to fill out paperwork, etc. Then he announces that FAA regulations require planes to carry certain medical supplies and since they just used up the oxygen tanks and IV bags, we'll have to wait for these to be replaced before we can take off again. This just keeps getting better! Finally, an hour and a half of sitting on the tarmac later, he says they found a "loophole" in the rules & we'll be taking off without the medical equipment and says, "OK, now nobody get sick on the flight home!" Yes, I'm thrilled to be leaving, but also hoping it's not me that needs help next! (Sorry, out of luck lady!) Maddie finally falls asleep for the last hour (3am Ohio time) and we land at 1am...she's safely in bed by 2am...Keith and I collapse at 3am (as he mutters, "I don't ever want to travel again!")...and my poor hubby drags his body out of bed at 7am to go to work.

Now we need a vacation from our vacation! :-)

P.S.--Tomorrow is "doctor day"...morning appt. with my OB, then afternoon appt. with a genetic counselor and our perinatologist for another ultrasound. I'm hoping we'll at least get some shred of good news. One positive update is that, since the last appt., our baby boy has become very active and I'm feeling him move all the time--incredibly reassuring for me, especially since I hardly ever felt Nicholas move, even at this same age.

Oh, and our little guy now has a name...please continue praying for James Alexander Frank. :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pregnancy Theme Song

For a couple of months now, whenever I hear this song by Addison Road I can't help but think that it's meant to encourage me throughout this pregnancy. When the what-ifs and anxiety rise up within me, I'm going to try to rest in the comfort of its Truths about our Lord.

"Hope Now" by Addison Road

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours

I'm not my own
I've been carried by You
All my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I'll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

I am not my own
I've been carried by you all my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

You've become my hearts desire
I will sing Your praises higher
Cause Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free

Friday, June 12, 2009

Not What We'd Hoped

I got back from my marathon doctor's appointment a couple hours ago (I was there for almost 3 hours!) and unfortunately, the news is not what we'd hoped and prayed for. The perinatologist was very honest and told me the prognosis does not look good for our little boy.

My amniotic fluid is still low, but he said that isn't his main concern. The biggest problem is the baby's growth. He does have intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and is now a bit more than 2 weeks behind (I'm at 22 weeks and baby only measures 19-20 weeks). His measurements put him in the 13th percentile for his abdomen circumference, below the 5th perctile for his head circumference and his weight (11 oz) is in the 11th percentile. To my surprise, the doctor said this is most likely *not* due to a problem with the nutrients/oxygen from the placenta (as I'd always previously been told), but that my placenta did look "pretty bad". He also said the baby has an echogenic bowel which shows up as a bright white section on the ultrasound. This could be due to an infection, or in a low percentage of cases, a "soft marker" for Down Syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis. Sometimes it just goes away and returns to normal. One other problem is with the baby's heart. Structurally, it has all four chambers and seems to be functioning well, but the way it is positioned in his chest is at an odd angle. We're not sure how much of a problem this could end up posing.

I told the doctor about Nicholas' stillbirth at 23 weeks and similar growth problems (Nicholas was 12.6 ounces and measured at 21 weeks, this baby is 11 oz at 20 weeks) and he said, although there's a slight chance that my due date is off and that the baby is actually measuring normally, it is more likely that we would end up losing this baby to stillbirth as well. He said the only thing we can do for now, besides more ultrasounds every 2 weeks and waiting and praying, is to do an amniocentesis to find out more information. Considering that I've had 2 miscarriages and a stillbirth, he said there's likely some kind of genetic or chromosomal problem going on with my pregnancies, and that an amniocentesis could help shed some light on things. Keith and I are going to think it over and talk with my OB/GYN--on the one hand, I want as many answers as possible so that I can try to make sense out of all this, but I also don't want to pose any more risk to our son than what he already is dealing with.

So, today has been a tough one. I just keep thinking, "Why us? Why AGAIN? How is it fair that so many other women are blessed with healthy pregnancies and we have to keep going through this?" I know God has a plan for all of this, but I sure don't understand it right now. I DO KNOW that He is in control and that, like my cousin's baby boy Hudson, He can choose to work miracles and turn a dire situation into a picture of health and joy. That is what I pray for our boy--a miraculous healing. Or, if that's not in the plan, his live birth so that we can love and nurture him through whatever struggles he may face in life. The thought of having to say goodbye to another son just seems beyond me at this point, though I know God will grant me the strength to do it if that's what He requires.

The most powerful thing we can do right now is pray...
1. Pray that God would heal the echogenic bowel and that it would no longer be a factor.
2. Pray that the baby's heart would function perfectly and return to a normal position.
3. Pray that whatever is causing the growth problems would be reversed so that his growth can catch up!
4. Pray for wise council, good decision making and peace for Keith and I throughout whatever may come.
5. Pray for our strength and Maddie's health as she undergoes kidney surgery on August 10th.

Thank you all for interceding on our behalf!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

18 & 22 Weeks

I'm getting behind on my baby bump pictures! I did remember to take some photos at 18 weeks, but looking back through my blog, apparently I forgot to post them. Hello pregnancy brain! :-) So I took my 22 week photos today and this time it's a 2-for-the-price-of-1 deal!

18 week baby bump

22 week baby bump

18 weeks

22 weeks

Tomorrow morning I have a high level ultrasound and a consultation with a perinatologist at Emanuel Hospital's maternal fetal medicine department. Baby boy is measuring 2 weeks smaller than he should be, so this new ultrasound will get more detailed pictures and measurements and look for a possible growth disorder. Also, my amniotic fluid around the baby is low (under 10 is considered low and mine was 8.9 at my 20 week ultrasound), so they'll check that more carefully as well. My mom will be going with me to lend moral support (and help keep Maddie occupied, which sometimes is no small feat!). Maddie is totally looking forward to it because after we finish at the doctor she gets to have a Special Date with Nana...the indoor play park at the mall, getting her second "big girl" haircut and then going out for ice cream. Sounds pretty darn fun to me!

Oh, I just remembered this and it made me chuckle. Usually Maddie gets to go on a Special Date with Daddy...often going to "the store" (aka--Home Depot or Lowes), getting to ride in the "car cart", and then to McDonalds or Jack in the Box for a kids meal. She absolutely loves it! A couple weeks ago my parents invited her to spend the night at their house, so I told Maddie that Daddy and I were getting to go on a special date! She got wide eyes full of wonder and said, "Oooohhh! Are you going to the store?" hee hee. tempting as that would have been, we opted for a nice dinner & fancy dessert on the patio at Perry's on Fremont (can you say HUGE lemon mousse cheesecake with marionberry sauce?!) and then a movie while snuggled up on the couch. I think that'll beat out Home Depot and Lowes every time! :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dear Baby Brother...

I'd been meaning to do it for a long time, but decided on a whim that today was the day--NO MORE PACIFIERS! Maddie's been mostly only using them for naps and bedtime, but she does manage to sneak them at other times too (she's really sly about sneaking them out of the dishwasher when I'm putting away clean dishes!). She knows she's only supposed to have them when she's sleeping, so she tries to pull the "Oh, I soooo tired! (fake yawn) I need a pacifier so I can go sleep on the couch!" trick. (I'm on to you, little girl!) She's been getting better at the potty training thing, so I figured we'd just go all out and jump on the "you're a big girl now" bandwagon.

After her nap I told her we were going to do a *special project* together. "Oh wow, what is it Momma?" I showed her a little gift bag I'd recycled from my stash & a big ribbon and let her pick out an assortment of papers from my scrapbook stash. We had the "you're such a big girl now" speech and I said we were going to make a special present for her baby brother and that she got to make the card. We'd take it to him in the hospital when he is ready to come out of Mommy's tummy and then he'd give Maddie a special present too! (I'm planning to wrap up a new doll or something and have it be a gift from Little Brother for her to open at the hospital, since baby will be getting lots of attention and probably a few gifts too.) Maddie is pretty sharp, so I figured this approach probably wouldn't fly in terms of getting rid of her beloved pacifiers, but she surprised me and ran with the idea! She pasted the papers onto the card, drew pictures for baby brother and wrote him a note (which I then transcribed for her).

Her card said:

Dear Baby Brother,

I got you a present. These pacifiers are for you! I am a big girl now, so I don't need them anymore. Just babies need pacifiers. I am sharing them with you so that you won't cry.

I love you! I can't wait to see you!

Love, Maddie cute is that?! The rest of the afternoon I've been hearing her mutter under her breath and tell her baby dolls, "I'm a big girl now. I don't need pacifiers anymore!" :-)

Of course, the real test will be bedtime tonight...let's hope it's not an all-night production!
(Be strong, Mommy, be strong!)

Homemade Bubbles

One of the websites I frequent daily is, which has great ideas for kids decor, toys, household items, kid-friendly recipes and crafts.

Today they had a post on homemade bubble solution, which I'd love to give a try! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Watercolors + Tubby Time

Normally you'd assume from the title of this post that one thing led to the other, but surprisingly, today that wasn't the case! Over the last few days of hot weather, I'd decided that we needed to pick up a few new outdoor toys/ yesterday we got a cheap-o pack of bubbles and sidewalk chalk and today Maddie got her first set of Crayola watercolor paints. After we ran errands this morning & ate lunch, I brought her IKEA chalkboard/easel outside onto our front lawn and let her inner artist emerge. We learned about how to dip your brush in the water and *then* into the paint, how to use only one color at a time (well, that lasted for a while, you know how it goes!), and how to at least attempt to paint on different sections of the paper instead of in one big, wet glob. I'd say for her first try, Maddie did great! Amazingly, there wasn't even a mess! :-)

On another note, I realized a couple of days ago that I have zero pictures of Maddie enjoying one of her favorite activities--tubby in *none for the past 2 1/2 years* except for her first sponge bath in the hospital! When Maddie was a baby she'd scream bloody murder every time we gave her a bath, so it was never longer than about 5 minutes long. At some point, she realized that water was fun and now she'd love to literally be in the tubby for HOURS! In fact, whenever my mom babysits her, Maddie often takes a 1-1 1/2 hour bath in the kitchen sink...and then usually says, "Hey, I turned into a raisin!" Crazy girl!