Friday, February 6, 2009

Catching up.

How do I begin to get us to the present? My name is Angela and I am married to Robert. We have a precious nearly 3 year old daughter, Isabel, who is the joy of our life! In December of 2007 we got pregnant again, but lost the baby around 7 1/2 weeks due to it being an ovarian ectopic pregnancy. We got pregnant again in April 2008 to miscarry in June of 2008 at 9 1/2 weeks, requiring a D&C. Finally in October 2008 we found out we were expecting again (an answer to many prayers) and due on July 11, 2009, our 6 year wedding anniversary.

This pregnancy had been relatively uneventful and we were excited to make it to our anatomy ultrasound. Isabel (and Rob) had already decided the "new baby in Mommy's tummy" would be a baby girl, a little sister for Isabel. I was excited to find out, because Rob didn't want to "talk names" until we found out the gender.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009, 17 weeks 4 days
We went to the appointment and they got right down to the ultrasound. Our ultrasound tech had scanned me when I had my ectopic pregnancy almost a year prior, although I'm sure he did not remember. We watched the little baby on the screen wiggle and flex tiny limbs; Isabel was in a sort of silent awe watching everything on the screen. The tech wasn't saying much. It wasn't until Rob commented, "the baby has all it's fingers", that I noticed the first problem was exactly those little fingers. The hand showed splayed fingers which looked like 3 digits and 2 digits fused together, almost like the star-treck hand sign. I wanted to ask the tech right then, but I couldn't bring myself to speak. He moved on to other areas of the body and then I asked, "Is everything looking okay?" He began to give me the "list" of problems starting with those little hands:

"Well, her hands are showing some fusion between her pinky, ring and middle finger and her index and thumb. We don't know if there is webbing between them. It looks as if all the bones are there." He held up his hand to show me what I had already seen on the screen.

"We're also seeing a spot of fluid in her bowels, "significant amounts" of water on the brain; hydrocephalus, and it's measuring about 2 weeks behind in growth," he continued.

Rob and I sat in silence. We looked at each other then back at the screen and the room felt very heavy with the realization that things were appearing very wrong with our baby. It was about 3 minutes later when Isabel broke the silence, "Mommy, can you tell me what we're going to do at Grammy's house?" Bless her heart for speaking because I don't think I would have known what else to say other than to answer that question. "Yes, we're going to play with toys and look for Bailey and Roscoe, but we can't let those two cats fight," trying to clue the tech in on our conversation. "We'll also look for the raccoon and the oppossum when it gets dark, because they'll probably come up on the deck and eat the cat food," I stated. I then turned to the ultrasound tech to explain that my parents live in the mountains, "Hendersonville, near Asheville."

"My wife used to be the director at Camp Pinnacle," he said.
"Camp Pinnacle? Do you know the Bacherts?" I questioned.
"Kelly?" was all he said, with a question.
"Yeah, Kelly."
"I was at her funeral," he said.
"So was I," I was shocked...what a small world for the ultrasound tech who was giving us the worst news of our life to have been at the funeral of a high school girl with whom I had clogged, attended church, and had sleepovers as a child. He was there at her funeral and we had cried together before for the loss of a different life. And there he was to deliver the news that could mean the loss of our baby's life. I was strangely comforted that we had something in common, that he wasn't just a complete stranger telling us about these problems. A blessing.

We met with my favorite OB at the practice...the one I almost always request to see, and the one who knows the story of our losses over the last year so very well. Dr. Segal looked at us so sadly and apologized that this was happening. He scheduled us for an amnio the next morning and when I asked him directly what he thought all these problems "looked like", he responded, "Trisomy 18".

Trisomy 18. I knew from the moment he spoke those words that this was a worst case scenario being played out before us. From my time on the internet's trying-to-conceive message boards, I knew that it was fatal either in utero or shortly after the baby was born. We were in shock most of Wednesday.

Thursday, February 5th, 2008, 17 weeks 5 days
Thursday morning we went to a Women's Specialty Clinic for an ultrasound, amniocentesis and genetic counseling. It took 4 hours. The ultrasound basically confirmed everything we had seen the day before:

Fluid on the brain is called ventriculomegaly, not hydrocephaly...because it is in her ventricles. So much fluid that it is causing her head to be 2 weeks ahead in growth. Her heart looks okay so far, although since her body is measuring 2 weeks behind it is hard to see for sure. The fluid in her bowel (echogenic bowel) is of little consequence...either the doc thinks this is the least of her problems, or I understood him to mean that it was so little fluid it could hardly qualify as noting as echogenic bowel. Finally she would not give us a good shot of her hands, so we could not say much about her finger problems.

We met with the genetic counselor. She is very kind and will help us to make many decisions. We then prepped for the amnio. The tech who prepped me was so very kind and took many 3-D pictures of the baby. He confirmed that she is definitely a she!! (A little sister for Isabel and a second daughter for our family!) His demeanor was the kindest and gentlest of all the people at the clinic....there was just this kindness that was radiating from him. The amnio was very painful and I jumped when the needle pierced my uterus...it was terrible. The needle was in for 2-3 minutes and I said "Hail Mary's" in my head with my arm draped over my eyes. When it was over I felt very faint, but they got me a cold washcloth and then I was okay. The results will take 2 weeks to come back, although we put a rush on a test that would tell us if it is a Trisomy.

I felt great joy after the appointment and that could have only been from the prayers of so so many people...we are so amazed at people who are praying for our baby and for our strength who have never even met us. What an awesome thing. I was joyful to be pregnant...joyful that our baby is a little girl...joyful that she is ours and that she is a precious creation of God, no matter what her problems are.

Thursday night I told Rob that we should really sit down and talk about a baby name. He suggested that we each make a list of names we liked (like we did in choosing Isabel's name). I sat with my pen and paper and only came up with one name, Mary Grace. To my surprise, Robert agreed that that should be her name. He reminded me that I had always been drawn to it from the beginning of the pregnancy- that that was the name I kept coming back to.

Mary Grace. I had wanted to use the name "Mary" because after struggling with our 2 losses last year, and being so eager to be pregnant again, Mom sent a prayer request to Medjugorje where the Blessed Virgin Mary has been allegedly appearing to a group of children (now adults) since 1981. The messages that she gives are for us to convert to her Son....Jesus. Always she tells us that He is the way...and urges us to pray for conversion for the world. She appears monthly with a message and many people send their prayer requests for Mary to take to her Son. Who better to intercede in heaven for you than the mother of Him who could answer our prayer! I know she took our request for a child to Jesus because not 3 days later, I found out we were expecting. I felt like Mary had heard my request, mother to mother, and because of her intercession on our behalf for another child, that child's first name is "Mary".

We chose "Grace", because we know that both she and our family will need the beautiful grace of God to be able to make it through the upcoming times ahead. And when I think of the name/word Grace, I imagine these great beams of light streaming down from heaven...I guess I'm envisioning God's grace flowing directly down from Him to us here on earth. And that is certainly what we need. I had loved this combination since the beginning of our pregnancy and now it has sort of "chosen" us. It feels like this is supposed to be her name.

Not long after we decided on her name, did she start kicking....enough so that I thought Robert might get to feel a kick for the first time! I placed his hand and sure enough, she gave him a little whack! That was confirmation enough for me that she agreed upon our name selection. Not only did we want to bond with her in a special way as soon as we could, it appeared that she was reaching out to bond with us as well.

The last 2 nights I have slept hard. I guess from the emotional exhaustion of the situation. But Friday morning I woke up at 6 a.m. and could not sleep anymore. I lay in bed and replayed the ultrasounds, the findings, trying to remember each ultrasound picture in my mind- looking for additional clues which the doctors might have missed. Trying to think up another explanation for what this could be. I got up and got online and started reading the blog of another mother. One who had lost her precious daughter and how the mother clings to the Father through the entire journey. Her story touched my heart as I realized that we could be following this same path. We are asking for a miracle, but if God doesn't provide a miracle cure for our daughter, she will have a home in heaven...and God will still be our Father. Tears streamed down my face as I read their story and felt the immensity of what is upon us.

Saturday, February 7, 2009, 18 weeks
This morning I woke up and realized I had not felt the baby move in about 24 hours. I realize her body is still small....you don't even start kick counts until 28 weeks, right? But with all that we know, my heart felt panicked. I lay in bed and jiggled my belly like the ultrasound techs had done to get her to move positions. Nothing. I began to pray with an urgency..."Lord, we are not ready yet...we can't have just found out that something is wrong and You take her from us! Please Lord, Jesus!! We are not ready to give her to you!! Give me some movement, show me she is alive in there!" Over and over I prayed...and then I remembered my prayer cloth. If ever there was a time to use this...but before I continue, let me stop and explain.

In Acts 19:11-12 it speaks of how cloths (aprons and handkerchiefs) were touched to Peter and Paul and taken back to the sick who were often cured of their ills..."God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul; so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." We know that objects in and of themselves are powerless! Faith is the basis of this devotion and God can empower whom He wills. He is the ultimate Healer and unlimited in His resources for healing! The prayer cloth I have is used to focus or funnel my faith toward Jesus, much like a flag is used as a focus point of patriotism.

So I placed it over my belly and began to pray for this baby...that God would heal her completely. I went through each of her ailments and asked for specific healing over each body part. I told God that I wanted His will to be done, but I begged for His will to be to save her. I talked to God about her name, told Him about her big sister who was so eager to hold her, I reminded Him (hah...me reminding the Father) of all the miracles Jesus performed...as many healings as I could think of from the Bible. What an awesome thing if we went back into that next ultrasound in 3 weeks and all of her problems were healed! I prayed and prayed, and as I prayed, I felt her move inside of me. She began to move and move...almost as if she knew that those prayers were for her and she was joining in! She moved that entire hour of prayer and I was never so grateful.

18 comments:

MSB323 said...

I love you so dearly. You Rob, Angela. I am so grateful to be an "auntie" to both Isabel and now Mary Grace. My prayers have been with you daily and hourly. Something I have with me all the time is a quote:
Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10. Prayers will never cease and I will pass this on.
Love,
Hilary

Nicole said...

Angela,
Mary Grace has the best mommy anyone could wish for! I'm praying for Mary Grace and i'm truly touched by positive attitude and your faith! I'm here for you..

Hugs,
Nicole
(MrsSamona-Tww)

Holly said...

Angela,
What a beautiful blog you have created here, Mary Grace is very lucky yo have a mommy like you. You all are wonderful people and you are so so strong, I hope God continues to give you strength and that maybe there is something the doctors are missing. My daughter that I lost in June, the same time as you had your miscarriage, is named Mary Beth and her name has given us so much strength, I pray the same for you and your family and for Mary Grace. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Holly
(TWW)

Amie said...

Angela, I just want you to know your family is in my prayers. Your little girl is a fighter!!
-mommytothree(TWW)

Anonymous said...

We love ya'll and are praying for you and Mary Grace. God is holding her in the palm of his hand!
-Ash & John

Nut Allergy Neighbors said...

Angela, you're such a beautiful writer (I read every word), with such a beautiful spirit...I'm overwhelmed by YOUR grace in this most difficult situation. I said it before in my email to you yesterday: Mary Grace is an exceptional little girl already, and one only an exceptional mommy can tend. God doesn't give such challenges to those He thinks cannot handle them, and you are certainly handling this, and beyond. It is God's work in you, and I'm inspired and humbled.

Last, I love the name you have chosen. It's beautiful on its own, but when you add the meaning that you (and I too, a fellow Catholic) ascribe to it, I agree that no name could be more perfect for your new daughter.

Again, please let me know if we can be of any help. Praying for you every night, and now, too:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The fruit of your womb be blessed, too, now and forever, Angela.

Warmly,

Jocelyn

Anonymous said...

Angela,

While I was at church tonight you and your family were on my heart. I know that God will help you all through this. He's for you and Mary Grace. He still does miracles because He is Miraculous and can't change. He can do all things and can carry you through this no matter what His will for Mary Grace is. I will be praying for you, Mary Grace and all of your family.
Blessings to you and your family.
Tara

Anonymous said...

You and your family are in my prayers.

Jennifer Schweitzer

LeConey family said...

Hi Angela,

You don't know me but I'm one of Meredith's friends, and she has mentioned you several times. I wanted to let you know that I'm constantly praying for you and specifically thinking about you in times like these. It sounds like you are positive about everything, which is amazing! You and your family are in my prayers.

Elizabeth LeConey

Courtney said...

Angela,

Your blog is PRECIOUS! Thank you for being so vulnerable & sharing your heart in such detail! Every word is powerful...wow, like someone said earlier, you really are a beautiful writer!!

Although I don't know yet what God's perfect will is for Mary Grace and your family, there are 2 things I do know...one, doctors & tests are wrong all the time and God performs miracles every second of the day so be encouraged and hold onto the precious hope & faith you have in Christ, regardless of the outcome of the test results you receive tomorrow (keep your eyes fixed on HIM as you have thus far and not on the circumstances)! And second, God has AMAZING plans for your family...you & Rob are extremely special to Him...for all that you guys have been through and what He has allowed knowing you could/can handle it...I cannot wait to see what He has in store for you guys in the days to come!!!

Know that we are rejoicing & praising with you, crying & aching with you, and most of all praying with you & for you every single day!!! We are lifting Mary Grace, you, Rob & Isabel to the throne of GRACE and asking for & beleiving in a miracle!

Read all of 2 Samuel 22...it will bless you!

Love to you all,
Courtney & Chad

Anonymous said...

Hi, Angela! I am so amazed and touched by your faith and positive attitude through all of this! No matter what God's plan is, He is using you to reach others to show His goodness, love, and grace. I love you guys and am constantly praying for you, Rob, Isabel, and Mary Grace (I love the name by the way!!), and asking for a miracle!

love always,
Amber :)

Anonymous said...

Angela,
Amber forwarded me your blog so that I can pray for you and I will do so! Keep your head up and your eyes higher and God will take care of the rest! You will be in my constant thoughts and prayers!
love, Becca

Anonymous said...

Dear, Angela. I am thinking of you and Mary Grace and praying for you this morning. Love, Roxanne

Anonymous said...

Dear Angela, I am a friend of Lauren's and met you and Rob and Isabel
one time when Lauren was babysitting. I love hearing stories about Isabel from Lauren and now to share in the progress of Mary Grace. Your love and trust in the Lord is an inspiration.
Please know that I am retired and have a lot of extra time on my hands. If you need any help please let me know. Lauren can get in touch with me. I am willing to help in any practical way that I can.
I am praying for you and your family, especially Mary Grace.
I am sorry for your pain but know that comfort will come from the Lord. Love, Sherry

Anonymous said...

Angela,
Your story touched my heart by leaps and bounds. I am going to pray for you so hard, that God blesses you with another child. You sound like an amazing person.

Lisa

Lorene said...

hugsss dear friend. I am on 2ww with you. I too have lost a baby to stillbirth. I am so very sorry for your loss. I won't say it will get easier but it will get easy to cope as time passes. God bless your little angel and I pray my little boy has had the opportunity to befriend her as we have
God bless you

Mary Baker said...

Hi Mary,

This is Mary Baker. I appeared on the Glenn Beck show a couple of weeks ago. How are you doing. Your story is such a touching one. I would like to invite you to join us at our mom's site that is in the works. You have a powerful message to share with mom's who may have experienced the same lost. I pray you would seek God for guidance and then email me at bakeswife@msn.com. Thank you so much for taking the time to send your words of love and support, even in this season of your life. I exemplifies that you understand the love and the grace of our LORD. Again, thank you so much for your comments.

Abigail said...

"She moved that entire hour of prayer and never was I so grateful." Way to go Miss Mary Grace!! You are a special kid! I'm grateful to know you though the kind words of your Mama--you are on my short list for prayerful intercessions for sure!