Presley Ann

Presley Ann

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The past couple months have been full of milestones for our family. We passed the six month mark of Presley's birth, celebrated both Mother's Day and Father's Day with a trip to the cemetery, Noah graduated from the 8th grade and started working out with is high school football team (this was an emotional time for mom!) Parker closed out a challenging year of fifth grade but managed a strong finish and we finally hit "viability" for this baby girl. It hasn't been an easy road, with busy boys and all kinds of spring events mom has been on bed rest for ten weeks. If you know me, you know that being sedentary is not my forte! I was forced to give up the new job that I absolutely loved, step back as "team mom" back out of carpool and rely on others to meet my families basic needs. There are days that have been absolutely maddening. But through it all we've had some time as a family to simplify things and focus on what's really important, each other. I've had opportunities to talk with the boys more than I ever did during our busy, hectic days. I've been able to spend time individually watching movies with them, talking about their friends and interests and just be present, something we didn't often have time to do. I have not always handled things with grace, have had my share of meltdowns and have nearly lost my mind feeling unprepared for baby, but we're getting through it and baby is thriving!
You'll notice we've yet to settle on a name for this little girl, so she remains "Baby Girl" at the moment (another maddening issue for me, lol). I think we are so in love with her that we want it to be just absolutely perfect, nothing seems good enough just yet. As far as pregnancy is concerned, it continues to be less than typical. We were elated to reach 24 weeks, it was the first major milestone we'd been working toward. At 24 weeks baby is considered viable and we were set to receive a round of steroid injections to boost her lung development in case she decides to make an early appearance (which she seems quite determined to do). I was feeling pretty good when we went in on a Monday morning for the first shot, it was quick and simple and baby was active and looking great. A few hours later I felt awful! Thought maybe I was coming down with the flu, achey, low grade fever, headache, just not good. Called the OB who said that definitely wasn't a side effect of the steroid and agreed that maybe I was coming down with something. The next injection had to be administered exactly 24 hours later, so we headed back to the hospital for round two. I'd had a few contractions overnight, so was hooked up and monitored for a bit, only showed one contraction during that time, so we got the injection and headed home to rest and hydrate. Around 3pm regular contractions hit, by the time we reached the hospital (for the third time in two days) contractions were five minutes apart. I almost immediately received a dose of turbuteline, this slowed contractions some, but they were still somewhat consistent and measurable. When a nurse arrived with the second dose they realized that my heart rate was way to high to receive another dose. So we tried another medication which seemed to work and I was sent home with a prescription. Contractions have continued over the past few weeks, but seem to be pretty well controlled with meds. The medication made me feel awful for a week or so, but that also seems to have calmed down. We are now 27 weeks with baby measuring about a week ahead, which is fantastic. She is super active and strong, which is very reassuring and now we just focusing on letting her grow for as long as possible! The next goal is 32 weeks, at which the survival rate is nearly the same as a full term delivery. Once we reach that goal, my cerclage will be removed at 36 weeks, doctors are pretty confident that once that happens, we will pretty quickly have a baby! It's surreal to be at this point and we really feel like we're in the home stretch. I am extremely grateful for the love, prayers and day to day help we've had over the last several months. It has truly made some unbearable times a little more bearable. Now...on to the third trimester :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

One day at a time...

I've had lots (and lots) of spare time to think about this post and yet somehow managed to wait until the last possible minute to attempt to put it together. Today is International Bereaved Mothers Day; a day the world takes time to acknowledge mothers who have lost their children. This year, by some strange twist of fate, it happens to fall on the very day in this pregnancy in which I lost Presley in my last pregnancy.
Up until two weeks ago everything about this pregnancy was so very different from the way things went with Presley. I kept telling my doctors, friends and family that I felt fantastic and I had pretty much convinced myself that we were in the clear. What happened before seemed like a fluke, my OB was being cautious, but had reassured us many times that it was extremely unlikely to experience the same things again. So just as I started to relax and enjoy the idea of a healthy, uneventful pregnancy, bam!!! Everything got crazy. We had what we thought was a hiccup, got through that pretty well and within days, another issue arose. I see one or both doctors every week now and that's pretty much the only time I leave the house, or my bed for that matter. The first few days on bed rest I managed to stay positive, I was making lists of all the things that needed to be done, organizing the boys' schedule, pinning cute projects, getting my bedroom rearranged into what resembles a studio apartment (since I have to limit the number of times I climb the stairs, I now have a mini fridge and "pantry" in the bedroom) and watched a few old movies. Then the novelty wore off and the reality of the situation hit me...hard. That morning Brett got up, headed down stairs to let the dogs out and did what he thought was part of our new routine. He poured me a bowl of captain crunch and began to bring it to me in bed. Sweet, right? I absolutely lost it.
The idea of eating captain crunch for breakfast three mornings in a row pushed me over the edge. Just a few days earlier I'd been craving it and hadn't complained as it was served up, actually thanked him for breakfast! But at that moment, the fact that I couldn't just pick out my own breakfast did me in. I cried in my pillow for a good half hour or so, then refused to eat until lunch. I'm not sure what affect that was supposed to have, other than making me really hungry, but at the time the whole idea of breakfast was simply ruined. The thought of being in this position for months was so very overwhelming.
Then Tuesday morning I woke up around 4:30am feeling really uncomfortable, after doing a few of the things the doctor recommended post surgery, I was still feeling contractions. Afraid to wait much longer I woke Brett, called the doctor and had to make the difficult decision to go to the ER. We had two choices, however the most rational one was to go to the same ER where we lost Presley. I dreaded the idea because I knew we'd be in the same position, not quite 20 weeks and not yet eligible to check in as an OB patient.
We experienced a lot of the same feelings, lots of waiting, lots of nonchalant medical personnel and, of course, no fetal monitor. This time they at least did a Doppler check for babies heartbeat before an hour wait for ultrasound. After a six hour stay that included a fire alarm sounding for half an hour, it was determined I had a UTI that was likely causing the discomfort and possibly some contractions (although I knew I was having them, they can't conclusively say that since they never checked). We finally went home feeling very tired, but fairly relieved. That afternoon as I tried to nap, I realized that I cannot look too far ahead. Right now I have to look at each day as it comes, check that off the calendar and then face the next. Those days will eventually turn into weeks, those weeks will lead us to new milestones and eventually we will find ourselves in a safer, better place.
So as I face this day, I face a lot of mixed emotions. I am somewhat haunted by the idea that when I wake up tomorrow, I will have officially had more time with this baby than I did with Presley. I face the triumph of making it past that point and the fear of becoming too comfortable. I face the fact that I have so very little control over the outcome, in spite of the great efforts I'm making to keep this baby growing safely inside me for several more months.
That's some overwhelming stuff! But I'm also overwhelmed at the love, support and generosity of others. Brett has stepped up and taken over packing lunches, school drop offs, football carpool and so many things I'm sure he'd rather not be doing. My parents are spending nights on an air mattress in an empty bedroom and sharing a bathroom with my boys, to fill in where needed. Friends have prepared dinners so that my family isn't stuck eating out of to go boxes or the microwave every night of the week. We also received a gift this week that words cannot express our gratitude for, I know you don't want recognition, but you know who you are and we thank you from the very depths of our hearts. When this baby arrives, she will be here with us because of the efforts and blessings of so many. For that, I am so very grateful. We really wouldn't make it without our amazing village of support.
So today, as I think about Presley and the day that we lost her, I am reminded how very blessed I am to have this day with my new baby girl. I am so grateful to have another chance and I am hopeful that as I get through this day, we will get through many, many more.
And I know that on this day, there are mothers out there with broken hearts and empty arms. If you know a mother who has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or infant, please reach out today. Send them a message or give them a hug. Let them know that you acknowledge the difficulty of Mother's Day without their babies.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Rollercoaster

We were coasting along just fabulously the last few weeks, I'm feeling fantastic and our last two ultrasounds showed nothing out of the ordinary. I love my new job and things there are going great as well. Yesterday was our third bi-weekly ultrasound to check cervical length. My OB started me on progesterone at 12 weeks and has been monitoring me closely to ensure that it was working to keep my cervix closed. After checking on the baby, confirming (again) that she is most definitely a girl and watching her suck her fingers (a habit that is so adorable but will surely be hard to break!) it was time to get measurements. That's when the floor fell out and the ride went into a free fall. I knew immediately that it wasn't good, as I've become somewhat of a cervical length expert in the past few weeks. When I saw 1.4cm on the screen and the look on the tech's face I nearly had a breakdown right then and there. She then put some pressure on my stomach and sure enough, cervix opened up. She reassured us that this is the reason we were there to begin with, to stay ahead of these types of hiccups, but as she went to get the doctor, Brett and I started to panic. The doctor took a look and confirmed it was somewhere around 2cm and shortened under pressure and said she'd be calling a perinatologist, who was a very good friend of hers, right a way. She sent me home for complete bed rest until further notice. The thought of months of bed rest completely overwhelmed me...what about work? Who would take care of my kids? My house is a disaster, I need to go grocery shopping, etc, etc.
My family and friends immediately rallied and assured me we would get through it. This morning we met with the perinatologist for the first time, he was so gracious and fit us in with less than 24 hours notice. He took a very detailed history, discussed some of the potential options and then we spent nearly an hour in ultrasound. After checking baby head to toe, getting a good look at all her organs and limbs, they took multiple cervical length measurements. The combined average ended up being close to 2.5cm rather than the original 1.4 we thought we were looking at yesterday. However that is still not in the normal range and was cause for concern, especially since I am already taking progesterone and it was a substantial change from two weeks ago. Ultimately Dr. Huls gave us the option to keep on progesterone and modified bed rest for a couple weeks and continue monitoring or to do a cerclage immediately. We didn't have to think long, as the idea of doing nothing and just waiting it out seemed like too much to bear.
We are currently waiting for the hospital to call and schedule the procedure, but will have it done by the end of the week. In the mean time (and in the weeks that follow) I will be on modified bed rest and see the perinatologist weekly. I'm extremely grateful to have a team of doctors that has things under control. They are genuinely caring people that understand our wacky, sometimes irrational fears and they truly want to carry us through to a positive outcome.
So for now, I figure out how to "modify" my life, prioritize my time and learn to just stick it out in bed some of the time. We are blessed beyond measure to have the support of so many wonderful people and look forward to sharing our baby girl with you in a few short months.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remembering MeMa

My Grandmother is one of the strongest women I've ever known. Although our stories are not so much the same, we both found ourselves raising little boys on our own, only her hands were twice as full as mine! She was not perfect (and either am I) but I will forever admire her strength and beauty and I know she left with me, some of those gifts. She raised five boys, four of them as a widowed, single mother, then went on to raise two grandchildren. The struggles in my adult life have given me a much greater appreciation for who she was and the challenges she endured. There were definitely times I felt I had missed out on a little bit of her as a child, but I feel that I've gotten to know her best in the past few years as her health and mind were failing her. Even through the veil of dementia and heart failure, the woman that she is and her love for her family shined brightly. I am forever grateful that I've had the privilege of being close to her in the later years and final days of her life.
Another parallel in our life stories, we both found a second chance at love. She and I were blessed to find men who love our children as their own and stepped up to father sons that are not biologically theirs. As her health deteriorated I witnessed the most tangible example of love and sacrifice one could imagine. My Grandfather has taken full responsibility for her care for the past several years. He has adapted their home to meet her needs, taken her to hundreds of appointments, kept track of medications that were constantly changing, lifted her in and out of bed, answered her every call for him, spent countless days and hours in hospitals, slept in a twin bed beside the hospital bed in their home and so much more. He has done it all with a smile and a compassion that words can't describe. He truly loved and cherished her to her very last breath.
Early this morning, she finally gave up the fight of her life. She was welcomed into heaven by a grandson and a great granddaughter whom we never got to know. I know she's already holding those babies and soaking up being reunited with all the others gone before her. 
I pray that her beauty, strength and courage continue to live through me and that I can pass those qualities on to my daughter, who will carry her MeMa's middle name.
Rejoice with Jesus Grandma and shower my Presley with kisses until we're all together again! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Blank Space

We lost Presley five months ago today, right around this very time of the day. My due date is five days away. It has been looming out there the past few weeks and with it has brought an intense amount of anxiety. I just don't know how to be twelve weeks pregnant instead of thirty nine weeks pregnant. It makes no sense AT ALL. We buried Presley five months to the day before my due date. It really wasn't intentional and I'm not sure we were even aware of it at the time, but it has made March 14th feel all the more overwhelming.
Everyone keeps asking if I'm relieved to have survived my first trimester...not really. Right now I'm still focused on what feels like an eternal wait to viability. I am not going to feel one ounce of relief until I at least make it to the point at which a doctor will attempt to save my baby if something were to go wrong. At this moment in time it's difficult for me to look forward to milestones. We may find out the sex of this baby in a few short days, I was so extremely excited for that ultrasound with Presley, we brought our entire extended family and made dinner reservations to celebrate, this time, it just doesn't seem real. Don't get me wrong, we love this baby immensely, but self preservation has kicked into overdrive and I can't even bring myself to walk past the baby section of a store, better yet consider if we'll be buying pink or blue.
We live in a tiny three bedroom home, which we'll likely move out of before this baby ever arrives and yet one bedroom still sits completely empty. We really could use the extra square footage for the boys to spread out, or maybe an office, but it was meant for Presley, I had just chosen paint swatches the week we lost her. So instead, it's wasted space with a few random baby items stashed in the closet.

Life has been chaotic, the boys started spring football a few weeks ago, our bathrooms were all unexpectedly renovated last month and I started a new job. On the outside I might look like I've got it all together, but if you look a little closer, I'm a mess.
How do I grieve for Presley while anticipating the arrival of our rainbow baby, along with maintaining any bit of sanity for "normal life"?
It feels as though I'm wandering around in a wide open blank space. Nothing is as it should be. It's like I need to hit a rest button for this pregnancy, somehow trigger my brain to kick into maternal gear, but it just isn't happening. I know that this is just a season, I know that I have to take each day as it comes and I know that everything is in God's hands. Living in the "now" is just a tremendous struggle, it feels as if time is standing still. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Choosing Hope

Well the news broke today, we are indeed pregnant. I cannot even begin to tell you how many discussions Brett and I had about who to tell, when to tell, how to tell who we chose to tell. At first we told nobody, then within days told our closest family members. After waiting a couple weeks, we told our closest friends. It became a bit of an obsession for me, this gigantic, overwhelming secret. A time that should be so filled with joy and excitement was, quite frankly, terrifying and stressful.
A few months ago Jill Duggar (sorry, I do happen to be a bit of a Duggar follower) caught a bunch of bad press when she announced her pregnancy very early. It really got me thinking, who created the stupid unwritten rule that a pregnancy should be kept private for twelve weeks. I hate to break it to you, but statistics aside, 12 weeks is not some magical moment at which all is safe and certain. I made it well past that "safe to make an announcement stage" before losing Presley. I was almost to the half way point in my pregnancy and despite most clinical odds, we lost her.
So today, on a whim, we announced to the Facebook world that we are expecting a baby. We have not made it to the elusive 12 week mark, we know that 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage in their first trimester (yes, 1 in 4, it's staggering) we know that making an early announcement isn't for everyone. But as my little baby bump begins to develop, we chose hope. We chose to share this journey with those that we love. I choose not to hide in fear. I choose to embrace the love and support that has been such a vital part of our healing. 
What if something goes wrong? What if we face another loss? We will acknowledge and love this child just as we did Presley, no matter the days that it's tiny heart beats. We will not be consumed by fear. It is certainly there, rearing it's ugly head every time I feel a little off, every time I sit staring at an ultrasound monitor, every time I pass the empty nursery that our little girl never came home to. But I will not live in fear, I choose hope. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holiday greetings...

'Tis the season for Christmas cards, family photos, Santa pictures and an abundance of social media cuteness. About a week or so ago we received a few prints of photos we took of Presley. We didn't have a camera at the hospital and unfortunately since breaking my phone I'm stuck with the old iPhone 4 until my next upgrade comes around. The quality of the photos isn't spectacular and I've spent a great deal of time regretting that we don't have better pictures. I am grateful that I have the few that we did take. I don't ever want to forget how perfect and tiny she was. I want to always be able to go back and admire her tiny features when she feels far away.
I have only shared the pictures with one person outside of our family, and only did that because they specifically asked.
There have been lots of times that I've wanted to share a few of them, only because I feel like the idea of our baby is so obscure. Only those that were at the hospital saw her outside of ultrasound photos. But then the feeling that I'm "over sharing" takes over and I put my phone away. When you lose a baby there's a constant struggle between the parts of you that want anyone and everyone to acknowledge her existence and see that she WAS here and the parts of you that don't want to wallow in self pity while making those around you extremely uncomfortable. 
We have so few tangible reminders that I carried a baby, that our daughter was here if only for a whisper of time. The pictures have become a bit of an obsession I guess. I have laid awake many, many hours contemplating if I should share them with my kids. I feel like they deserve to see her, to see that this baby sister that they never held or kissed was real. But are they mature enough to absorb the impact of the pictures? I don't know...
Do I share these pictures with family and friends? Will others see them with the same beauty and admiration that we do? Probably not...
So as I look through chubby smiles and dimples sitting on Santa's lap, a super cute Christmas pregnancy announcement, a holiday birth announcement and perfectly complete family photos, where do our photos fit in? How do you express the pride and joy you have for your baby that didn't survive? I suppose I'm just wanting to put it out there, we have photos of our baby, they are beautiful in our eyes, but may not make the best Christmas card.