Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twenty Weeks

Fetus at twenty weeks

Michaela is now about 6 1/4 inches long, and she weighs about 11.5 ounces. On Monday night I felt her movements for the first time! It's kind of like a flutter or a little bubble bursting.

I am composing this on Wednesday, the 22nd - my 43rd birthday. The best birthday gift I'll receive today was a call from my nurse practitioner. She said that my most recent blood work indicates that there's a 1:1200 chance of Down's. That's improved over the first test where the results were 1:150. Trisomy 18 is 1:20,000 and Open Neural Tube/Spina Bifida is negative. There's no need for further testing in these areas. She did mention the location of the umbilical cord, and reminded me that we will watch that monthly at the perinatologist's. My appointment is already booked for next month.

This week I'm still nauseous and dealing with daily migraines. I have crazy hunger pains and have to eat every hour and a half or two hours. When it's time to eat there's no putting it off. I'm not sleeping that well at night, but I think that has more to do with my parents' guest bed than anything else. I'm missing my Heavenly Bed - my extreme pillowtop like they have in all the Westin hotels. Just need to feel well enough for long enough to venture moving back home.

Today is Christmas. Jesus probably wasn't born in December, but rather in September. Regardless, this is the day Christians around the world remember His birth. He truly is the reason for the season, but that gets lost in all the hubbub for many people, even devoted Christians.

The greatest gift you could ever receive on Christmas, or any other day for that matter, is the gift of eternal life through Christ. All you have to do is put your faith in Him. Believe He is Who He said He was - the son of God - and that He died and rose again. You don't have to change your life and come to Him in better shape than you're in right now. He will change you when you invite Him into your heart. You don't have to work for His love or approval. Just believe in Him and He will never let you go - you'll be received in Heaven on your earthly expiration date, and enjoy eternal life with Him and all who love Him. That's better than anything Santa Claus or anyone else could ever do for you. And I really want to see you there!

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very naturea]">[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureb]">[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Joy to the World!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nineteen Weeks

Fetus at nineteen weeks

We're just about halfway there, everybody! By now, Michaela is about six inches long from the top of her precious head to end of her little behind. We learned on Wednesday that she weighs about nine ounces. Some descriptions about fetal development at this point say her five senses are developing and it's possible that she can hear my voice. It's also likely that she's got some hair growing on her little head by now.

My nausea has really increased the last couple of days. I've been just miserable. Nothing really seems to help, either. Not the home remedies and not the medicine I've been prescribed. It's very frustrating. My daily headaches are slightly less intense, but if I do much of anything they really intensify. I've got three weeks left on my leave of absence, and I'm really concerned that I won't feel well enough to go back to work in that time frame. However, I will be seeing my doctor before then, and if I'm not much improved then we'll have to talk about a later date for my return. Managing my class at this point would be impossible.

This means most of my days during the week are pajama days, and I have to admit that I've been watching way too much reality television. My gosh, those people are so incredibly dysfunctional. Yikes, they need Jesus! When I'm not suffering with a headache, I have made an effort to get back into the Kay Arthur Bible study on the book of Acts that I started in August. It's so good! I've missed my time in the Word, and I've really missed going to church. I haven't been able to go in months now. I miss the worship time and I miss my pastor's teaching. I did talk to Pastor Ray on Wednesday to let him know that Baby Labrador is a girl. We had a good talk. I'm forever grateful that he allowed God to use him to lead Michael to making a decision for Christ.

My mom and I did venture out a couple days ago to Babies R Us. We were just giddy to see all the girl stuff. Well, we came across this crib:

The floor model was for sale at a reduced price, and it was in great shape. So, my parents graciously purchased it for me. I think it's my birthday or Christmas present. The finish is a mahogany, and it will match Michael's antique chest of drawers. I've decided to use that instead of the white dresser I purchased before. My sister has a changing table in about the same color, so we'll reuse that instead of making another purchase. I think the dark woods with the pink accents will be really pretty.

While we were there I added some more things to my registry. I think I understand what I need when it comes to the big ticket items, but all those little things in the Infant Care section get my head spinning. What do I really need? Your suggestions are welcome!

I hope I'll start to feel good enough to return home and start getting the house prepared for Michaela soon. I feel so stuck with my health being what it is right now. By the time that shopping trip was over, I was in terrible shape with a killer headache. My mom was up half the night with me because I couldn't keep anything down. I just can't do much of anything, and it really stinks. Of course, Michaela is worth it, but I had no idea that pregnancy would be so hard.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a Girl!

Michaela Grace Labrador

We got lots of good pictures of her today, and it's certain that she's a girl! I am beyond thrilled. The anatomy scan was very thorough, and the perinatologist and technician checked her heart, brain, and areas of blood flow. Everything was perfect. They told me that she weighs 9 ounces at this point. Michaela had her face pressed up against the placenta, so I will have to go back in a month for another look at her profile. They will be looking for signs of cleft lip or cleft pallet. The doctor said that the umbilical cord is not attached to the placenta in the ideal place, but she didn't think it would present any problems. They will see me monthly to monitor that.

As we (my parents and I) walked out of the exam room, we ran into Dr. Dourron, my reproductive endocrinologist. He was there with his wife, their toddler and their six-week old baby. My mom had just asked me if I was going to call him and tell him that the baby is a girl. I said I thought I'd wait and send him a birth announcement, but there he was. I was able to share the good news with him, and he gave me a big hug. I'm sure that kind of news must be very rewarding for him and his staff to hear after all the things they do to help these babies come to be.

After the appointment, we met my sister for a celebration lunch. This will be my sister and my BIL's first niece or nephew. I'm very excited for them. There are five grandchildren on Michael's side of the family, but my sister and her husband have the only children on our side or his side. It will be a new experience for them. And my nieces are so excited to have a cousin - their only first cousin.

Anyway, this means that all the little girl things - including some beautiful Asian dolls - will be brought in from the garage and put in the white vintage dresser I bought for another little girl five years ago. I just need to feel well enough to do that! Hopefully these migraines and the nausea will go away soon.

Today is another example of how the Lord will turn our mourning into dancing. He is so faithful and good. If you are struggling with trusting Him in any part of your life, I encourage you to give it over to Him. He will lead you to a place of joy and hope. I am a living testament to that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eighteen Weeks

Fetus at eighteen weeks

Baby Labrador is now about 5 1/2 inches long from crown to rump - about the size of a bell pepper - and weighs in at about 7 ounces. I've seen how active he or she is whenever I have had an ultrasound, but I haven't felt any movement yet. I should sometime soon.

I'm still experiencing migraine headaches, but they seem to be slightly less intense than before. I had a pregnancy massage on Thursday afternoon, and I think it was beneficial - especially the massaging of my head, neck, and shoulders. The last couple of days I have had some pretty strong discomfort on my right side that I think must be associated with ligaments stretching. I am missing my own bed, as my parents' guest bed is not easy on my back as mine is. I did purchase one of those pregnancy pillows, but I haven't had much luck getting comfortable with it yet. The nausea has really lessened. I still feel a bit queasy each afternoon, but I head it off with the Phenergan and Benedryl. I made the mistake of eating salad with a vinaigrette dressing a couple nights ago, and that really did not sit well with me. I will not make that mistake again.

This coming Wednesday, I will go to the perinatalogist's for an anatomy scan. My nurse practitioner assured me that we'd know then whether Baby Labrador is a boy or girl. It's going to be like Christmas morning for me. I probably won't be able to sleep much on Tuesday night in anticipation. I've already got names chosen in either case, and I can't wait to start planning the nursery and complete the baby registry.

Yesterday was Michael's birthday. I felt better yesterday than I had in months, so I was able to go to my in-laws' for dinner. It was so nice to be together. Two of his brothers were there, and I enjoyed watching things about them that remind me of Michael. After we said Grace, Michael's dad commented that despite our terrible loss this year, God has blessed us greatly with this pregnancy. Amen to that. It's good to know that this baby is already bringing joy to so many people.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MRI Results

Everything is normal. Thank you, Lord.

While I'm grateful, I am surprised. I was almost certain that they were going to find something ugly in there. That's how much pain I'm in.

However, the neurologist said that this leads her to believe that I'm experiencing hormone-induced migraines, and she is hopeful they will go away as I get further into my second trimester. She told me to keep taking my pain meds (Vicodin), use hot and cold packs, have massages, and rest. If the headaches don't improve, she said that my OB can consider prescribing migraine medications for me.

I'm not scheduled to return to work until the second week of January, so I'm hopeful that I'll be over this before then. In the meantime, I will follow doctor's orders.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nine Months

I think that one of the strangest things about losing a loved one is how time marches on. On the one hand, I wish it wouldn't so that I would be closer to those times when we were still together. One the other hand, having an eternal perspective, I realize that I am nine months closer to our Heavenly reunion. I find it's best for me to look forward and not backward.

I say it every month, but truly there aren't words adequate to express how much I miss Michael. This whole pregnancy experience would be so very different if he were here. My life would be so different if he was still here. We loved being married to each other, and having children together was our dream.

Despite the loss and the heartache, I choose to trust the Lord and His promises. I do believe that what has been lost will be restored and redeemed one day in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend. That will have to be enough for now, and it surprisingly is. Funny how when we trust Jesus, He fills us with peace and hope to get through the worst of times. Life is hard, but God is good all the time.

Friday would have been Michael's 55th birthday. I am hoping to feel well enough to join my in-laws for dinner that night to remember him and celebrate our love for him together.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seventeen Weeks

Fetus at seventeen weeks

I went to the OB on Thursday, and during the ultrasound the nurse practitioner tried her best to see if Baby Labrador is a boy or girl - to no avail. That's okay because it's just about time for the anatomy scan in a week or two. I will go to the perinatolotist's for that, and they have the cutting edge ultrasound technology there. We should know then for sure. That appointment hasn't been made yet, but I will probably be able to schedule it come Monday. During Thursday's ultrasound, we got a picture of the baby's foot. My mom thought it looked like Michael's foot. She said she should know because she spent a lot of time rubbing his feet when he was sick - we all did. He liked that.

Anyway, it's just amazing to watch this baby grow and develop even from this vantage point. I follow one of my favorite authors, Randy Alcorn, on Facebook, and today he posted this:

At 18 days after conception the human heart is forming and the eyes start to develop. By 21 days the heart is pumping blood throughout the body. By 28 days the unborn has budding arms and legs. By 30 days she has a brain and has multiplied in size ten thousand times; at 40 days brain waves are measurable.

This baby is way past forty days. He or she is at least five inches in length from the top of his or her head to the rump. With long legs like Michael and me, I guess the baby's full length could be around 8 or 9 inches. You'd think I'd be able to feel something that large inside of me, but I haven't just yet.

I'm still nauseous off and on, but not as much as before. I'm afraid to say anything for fear I will jinx myself and it will start up again. I take Phenergan and Benedryl only occasionally when I feel a little queasy. My appetite is much better than it has been in months. My mom has done a lot of cooking for me this past week, and I like that I'm able to enjoy food once again.

The terrible headaches continue. I saw a neurologist yesterday, and she really wasn't able to come up with a diagnosis based on what I told her and her examination of me. So, the next step is an MRI of my brain next week. She told me that I can take Vicodin for the pain because it won't hurt the baby. Sometimes the Vicodin helps more than other times, but it usually takes the edge off. I can take up to two per day. I am relieved to not be working right now. I just rest and eat. When a headache comes on, I do even less than that.

I was supposed to meet with a doula this morning, but somehow our wires got crossed and she didn't show up. Maybe she was helping someone else deliver a baby this morning. I think I'd only want to use a doula if I have a vaginal birth. If we need to schedule a c-section for whatever reason, then I don't think she would be necessary. Even so, I'd like to talk to her.

Lastly, my mom and I made a quick stop to shop for some maternity tops earlier today. I have found that even my largest t-shirts are getting too small. Motherhood Maternity had some really cute things, and I thought they were reasonably priced. So, I'm set for a while.

Seventeen weeks!