I’m so very sorry for not updating the blog.  But things have moved quickly this week and have been very chaotic around here.  Friday we went to the obstetrician (Dr. O) and ya’all know about that already.

Monday we had another appointment with Dr. O and we requested a referral to a University hospital here.   He not only gave us the referral, he said he was glad to do it, his only goal was healthy mama and healthy baby and he hoped they could do it.  He had them call IMMEDIATELY down there.  My appointment was at 1:00. By 4:00 that day, the phone consult had been done, the records had been faxed, and the appointment for an indepth ultrasound and a physician consult with the perinatologists had been scheduled… For THURSDAY!  We were thrilled.

I should go into more detail about Dr.  O.  For one, the man has zero ego.  When he says he only wants a healthy mama and a healthy baby, it’s true.  He cares very much about his patients.  I’ve heard from the grandmother of a baby born still through no fault of anyone and  I hear he cried with Mom and Dad after the delivery.  He is deeply invested in his patients and I can’t tell you how incredibly blessed we feel to have him as our obstetrician.  That said, a doctor is as good as his staff.  And honestly?  I can’t tell you how much I look forward to going into that office.  Every single person from receptionist, to the person who takes my blood, to the nurses and ultrasound tech are about the most cheerful, encouraging, lovely people I’ve ever had the joy to be around and I’m glad to be going back to a place that very OBVIOUSLY loves children.  They constantly ask about mine and we enjoy taking them in on occasion and getting them ooh’ed and aah’ed over.  What an amazing blessing.

Thursday was the consult.  With a LOT of people, sigh.  First we did a very (VERY) thorough ultrasound.  After all we had denied all of the prenatal testing and you’d not want to go to extraordinary lengths to keep a pregnancy of a less than perfect child, right?  Oh my.  I think I answered that one with grace, I think.  I explained to the doctor that knowing ahead of time that there was something wrong with the child and doing less than we would for a “perfect” baby and not try to keep the pregnancy would entail a very serious ethical dilemma for us and that we would do exactly the same for a less than “perfect” baby as we would for a so called perfect baby.  And he dropped it thankfully.  I don’t say this to say he’s a bad man.  Actually we QUITE liked this Dr. Y.  I feel a bit sorry for him.  I suppose seeing high risk patients with babies with serious issues probably does jade one quite a bit, don’t you suppose?  We had two ultrasound techs and two perinatologists consult on that.  Then we were sent over to the OB clinic for an internal exam, a history work-up of past pregnancies, and a consult.  Had the exam and was found to be a “good two” whatever that means…  I HAD been 4.1 on the previous Friday, so that was a little concerning but not surprising.   They wanted to fit my cerclage into the schedule by the following Wednesday but couldn’t do it with the two particular doctors they wanted to do it, and they didn’t feel it would be prudent to wait longer than that at this point as we would be past the 17 week mark….  So they fit me in on Friday,  the NEXT day.  LOL, it was such a relief but oh my what CHAOS.

Oh, and did I mention I developed some kind of infection/bite on my leg on Wednesday?  It showed up on Tuesday and we drew a marker circle around it.  It was hot and inflamed and obviously growing.  By Wednesday it was really unpleasant, having grown a full inch all the way around.  DH was concerned and so off to the doctor I went.  I’ll say nothing nice about the doctor, so I’ll just say nothing at all.  Suffice to say that was a clinic visit utterly wasted.  Do you ever feel you should get to deny a payment to the medical field if they don’t actually DO something?  Kind of like any other profession where they sit and hmmmm at something but don’t actually touch the car or whatever they’re supposed to fix?  Sigh.

At the appointments on Thursday and again on Friday they were quite interested in my infection.  It was general consensus among the doctors down there that it was cellulitis, a fairly non threatening infection of normal bacteria like staph or strep that would normally live on the skin.   At this point (Thursday afternoon) it was over the circumference of a softball.  I was on antibiotics at this point and they decided to do the surgery anyway, but gave me more antibiotics injected.  I can honestly say today it looks MUCH better.

Onto Friday.  We showed up at the hospital at noon.   The procedure began around 3:30.  It’s normally a 20 minute surgery.  It took a little longer due to a small issue with scar tissue from past cerclages.  They were able to deal with it beautifully though and instead of placing the normal 1-2 purse string stitches, they placed FOUR.  That made me smile a little.  I guess we can safely say we got our money’s worth?  There were three doctors, including the department head,  doing the surgery as apparently they found this pretty fascinating.  The popular discussion of the day seemed to be wondering how much scar tissue I’d have in there with this many cerclages.   We were later told by her that she’s glad they scheduled it for Friday and not the following week as I was very soft and already dilating.  Thank God.

Thanks to ansthesia and some nice drugs that helped me to not vomit violently 😉 it was by far the most pleasant cerclage experience I’ve ever had.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to God for what He has done.  Oh, and that pesky previa?  Yeah, it’s gone.  Not marginal, not low lying, but a very nice, healthy placenta exactly where it should be.  No signs of accreta, and no abruption.  I can’t begin to explain the miracle that has been done here.  I guess if you read the past excerpts you’ll begin to understand where I was, almost hopeless, to where we are now.

Oh, and they think she’s a girl.  Did I mention that?!  How blessed are we?

I looked at our two year old today and wondered if there was anything more beautiful than a child.  I think not.  Mamas, do you know how blessed you are?  You were CHOSEN.  Yes, YOU!  You were CHOSEN by God Himself with the remarkable task of being entrusted with His beloved children for their training, protection, and love.  What a shocking and mind boggling task.  Without dependence on Him I wonder how we should succeed at all???  And be so grateful.  You should SEE my house right now.  It is an absolute disaster.  Pictures would only begin to describe the smell of the dishes that have sat for about four days now.  It is more than a little chaotic and exhausting.  And we have my sister’s shower tomorrow to celebrate her daughter whom we will welcome to this family sometime in the next four weeks.   What a perfect end to an exhausting week – the celebration of a new life!

Don’t begrudge your tasks.  Don’t belittle your role.  You were chosen.  Your ministry personally given and assigned by God Himself.  What a beautiful thing to be given such an important, vital, life altering ministry.   And to something to precious to God as a child?!?!?!  Truly, mother, He must love you and think highly of your ability….  And remember not all children are given biologically.  Mother, if you haven’t children biologically please think not that I don’t include you.  He shall and perhaps has also laid out your ministry….  God bless each and every one of you in this amazing blessing we’ve been given.  Please be grateful each and every mess, er, I mean DAY, that we even have the chance to be a mom……  We are so blessed.

First, thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I am so sure they have helped and ARE helping.

Now a praise.

Where I was sure there were NO options, there has opened a window for a couple.  My current OB has said he will not give progesterone until Week 22.   It’s been very stressful here lately and I’ve not been sleeping well as contractions began Tuesday early AM (around 3:00) and they’ve just been consistent for the last couple days.  It has been exhausting, not because they’re painful or even uncomfortable, but being 15w 4 d pregnant and having contractions and a cervix that dilates painlessly?  You feel like a walking time bomb.

So I called for the progesterone injections to start.  And that was when I found out that my OB won’t start them until week 22.  I found an ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology) Opinion (#419 if you’re looking) that shows a study that has had significant impact on preterm labor using progesterone beginning in weeks 16-20.  It IS experimental.  We’re requesting a referrral to a further away university hospital where they do perform experimental work.

Moreover, last night I “happened” upon a study that has nothing to do with incompetent cervixes.  It had to do with previa.  It appears in 1993, and again about 10 years later, they did studies trying to find out if by placing a lower McDonald’s stitch ( a type of cerclage) in the cervix if they could better the rates of infant mortality and mother’s health in at risk previa patients.

The conclusion was that there was no effect.  But did you catch the important part?   They were placing cerclages in previa patients!  Moreover I then “happened” across to an Incompetent Cervix support forum – NEVER knew it existed!!!  And there was a post on there (a few actually in the Search engine) talking about previa and IC.   Several women had had a cerclage placed WITH partial or low lying previa and at least one had had it placed successfully with total previa.

Today I’m calling the OB and requesting an appointment.  I’ll need a referral to the university hospital.  I’ve already put in my request for a specific doctor specializing in preterm delivery and placenta issues.  I’m praying for a couple things – that doors would be opened, that I have the grace to pull through this.

I’m not going to kid you.  I’ve had a rough couple days and I started bawling on my poor husband’s shoulder yesterday before work in the morning… I just really don’t know that  I can hold a baby while she dies again….  Nothing about it was fast, or painless, or peaceful.  It was tragic & awful and I just don’t want to lose this little one.

So I’m asking for continued prayers please.  I firmly (FIRMLY) believe the Lord is active in even the smallest aspects of our lives, every single day.  There is not anything He does not know, including this little one He has so generously loaned us.  I pray His will be done in our lives and that His peace and grace shine through no matter the outcome.

So, I admit it.  I didn’t do the lesson plans! 😉  I got the girls all dolled up and off we went to a cousin’s bridal shower.  We did the hair, the nails, the jewelry, the whole ball of wax and they had fun.   I’m not “bound” to go to all these showers for my cousins… Each of my parents had ten siblings and it resulted in an awful lot of cousins, lol. But it was enjoyable and I love my dad’s sisters.  They were a big part of my life growing up and it’s always nice to see them all together.  It reminds me why I want a large family.  They absolutely adore being together and tease one another without ANY regard to mercy. 😛

It was a bit of a challenge for me.  The easy questions weren’t difficult to field – “So, when are you due again?”  “Boy or girl this time?”  “Any names picked out?”  And then there were the more challenging ones…  “How are things going this time?”  And one aunt went to Canada with Mom & Dad last week, so they were aware of what was going on.  She wondered if she could help with the kids, how I was feeling, etc.  Showers aren’t exactly intimate in our family.  You can’t picture ten people celebrating…  There’s our side, their side, whichever cousins show up, et cetera, so after presents are opened, cake eaten, there’s generally just a dozen or so little conversations taking place in the room as people break up into little chit-chatty groups.

It’s complicated.

So, I tried to answer as shallowly as I could.

And on the way home I felt sadly lacking.

It seems to me that the answers I give are very “pat” and they are NOT pointing others to the peace a faith in God can bring.  And that frustrates me….

I’m not sure how this is supposed to go.

I was thinking in the car yesterday that I feel an awful lot like a Doubting Thomas. 😦  It isn’t that I don’t believe God CAN perform a miracle. I do.  I fully embrace that He can.  It’s only that I doubt that He will.  After all, I’ve been on both sides.  With Elizabeth, we ended up with a beautifully healthy little girl.  With Hannah, He also performed a miracle (in that we didn’t have to choose to shut off the machines, an answer to prayer) but she DID die.  And so I know that God’s will isn’t always our will.

I’m actually okay with that.  There are, in general two questions that every non-Christian likes to ask a Christian.  And often our answers to these two are found lacking.

The first question is:  “If God is truly God then why do bad things happen?”

The answer is, of course, that we live in a fallen world.  Our Lord never created sin.  He created free will.  He INTENDED for us to live eternally, with no death, no sickness, no sin.  Unfortunately through our free will, WE brought sin into the world.

The second question is of course: “If your God is entirely GOOD and completely masterful of the world then why does He ALLOW bad things to happen?”

Which is entirely different.  It assumes two things.  Either your God is NOT good, because He allows bad things to happen or the second conclusion, He is not all powerful, because He doesn’t stop them.  And if He IS good, and He IS all-powerful then WHY would He allow it?

And that is when we Christians stop and say, “Uh, um, um, uh…”

I am certainly not wise.  I would disagree even with ever being a mature Christian as I have a VERY hard time (and often don’t) control my tongue.  I fail on a daily basis.  It scares me to even make the assumption that I know the answer to this.  I’d pray that those who read it, read it with much prayer and revelation from Him.

The truth?  What I’ve read in the Bible is for several reasons.  One the Bible tells us He can use bad things for good.  Sometimes bad things happen as a result of our own poor decisions.  He allows us to face the consequences of our bad choices, although there are obviously times when He chooses, in His great mercy, shield us from those consequences as well.  Sometimes allowing your children to experience the consequences of their actions serves a greater purpose than shielding them from it, no?

Supportive scripture:

~ Romans 8:28 ~
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

So it says that in ALL things God can work for good.

Now, our definition of “good” and what God defines as for good is certainly often different.

Death is a wonderful example.  If anyone knows the quote, I’d be grateful… I feel it is C.S. Lewis, but cannot remember it.  But it went on to say, when you think of the pain experienced in life and the alternative of the joy of living after death without sin, why is it we embrace life so tightly and fear death?  We have the exact opposite view as God.  When I think of death for Hannah it saddens me.  Should it not bring me joy that she doesn’t experience pain?  She is already with Christ.  What an amazing blessing, to know a child of mine is near God?  Think of the joy in that, should only my other children some day experience that same blessing?  And yet, we consider death the ultimate “bad thing” and consider that pain, or misery in sickness, the better alternative…..

God lets us know that we experience trials so that we may be refined, brought closer to Him, gain wisdom and maturity.  I know I’ve quoted this verse as well here.

~ James 1 ~

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials grow us, they stretch us, they cause us to depend on God.  If you’ve read ANYTHING of the Old Testament then you know, trials are what would continually bring back a wandering people to God.  They were stiff necked and when things would go well, they would wander from the Lord.  Trials would help them to depend on Him and bring them back…..

And finally we face trials so we can help others.

~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles,  so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are in distress, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

I will be the first to say that we have been able to offer comfort to others who have experienced baby loss after we ourselves lost Hannah.  I will be completely honest in that I have been able to distance myself a bit from this by sending a card, a note, a gift……  Recently it was closer to home.  A cousin of mine lost his little boy quite unexpectedly after his birth.  And we attended the wake.  I was NOT prepared to see the baby, or the casket, or not nearly so as I had thought.  I had thought I’d be able to offer words of comfort and was not able to offer more than, “I’m so sorry” as I sobbed.  But, thankfully, I had written  down that which I wanted to offer in a card ahead of time.  It had been eight years since Hannah’s death and I hadn’t seen a baby casket since hers.  In retrospect I’m still a little shocked at the depth with which it affected me……

I can honestly say that now that we are possibly facing some difficult scenarios I am not finding myself praying for the life of the child again.  It very much surprised me when we were faced with losing Hannah and I prayed more to not have to make the decision of ending her life than for her life.  Perhaps God had prepared me for the fact that we were going to lose her?  I’ll not know in this life.

I find myself now praying for faith for the walk….  I wonder if that actually shows a lack of faith?  My saving faith is always there, I do not doubt my Lord.  I do not doubt His ability to perform a miracle and never, since July 2000,  have I doubted His existence, His goodness, His mercy, or His compassion through this.

You’ll find this strange, but about ten years ago we had a discussion about God and faith after the death of a child.  I had befriended people with a deep faith, and yet mine was very shallow.  I had been raised Catholic and my belief system very much reflected that of my family.  I believed in the existence of God.  I believed in the existence of Christ much like I believed in the existence of George Washington, lol.  I took for granted that he lived and that he died and that he did great things in history while he lived.  It certainly was no SAVING faith, just a belief that yes, He was a figure in history.  We were involved in a conversation one day and I remember clearly, as I’m certain they do, that I said something to the effect that should I ever lose a child I’d lose my faith in God.  Who could believe in a God that would allow a child to die?

When we lost Hannah it was 2001.  I had been saved for all of almost seven months.  It was of great consolation to me, but I can’t pretend that I could grasp anything… Only the arms of peace and comfort around me.  But it’s a bit like drowning in the ocean I think.  You didn’t have time to really catch your breath between waves.  It took one’s concentration to just keep your head above water and you couldn’t think ahead five minutes because you had to simply exist in the moment you were in.  It was all you could do.

I can say that having walked that road I certainly would not have wanted to walk it without God.  What hope can a person have who experiences such a loss and doesn’t have the grace of God with them?  I should think it would be utterly desolate and without any comfort at all.

I said earlier that I felt a bit like a doubting Thomas.  I have multitudes of friends praying for a healing miracle  – that the placenta should move so they can perform the surgery…. That the pregnancy continue well past when it medically “should” even without the surgery…  A healthy baby at the end of it all.  And I FULLY and COMPLETELY recognize that my God is quite capable of doing these things.  I almost feel like it is a betrayal to have them pray for such a thing when I myself do not feel compelled to pray for this…….

I find it strange that I doubt that He will.  I wonder if perhaps it isn’t a bit more like Hannah’s death?  I never doubted for one instant that He COULD keep her alive, it was just that I doubted that He would.  I feel much like that.  I can say that it would be amazing and I would be eternally grateful if He should decide to perform one of those medical miracles.

And yet, I’m left with the comfort that should He NOT perform these, that if I should be left with the previa, and if they should NOT do the surgery, and that if the progesterone injections NOT work, I still have this confusing (to me) peace that good certainly will come of this.  I wondered aloud to a friend that I wonder  sometimes ifwe aren’t allowed to walk through trials for the benefit of those around us who do NOT believe?  That they may see a difference in the comfort we are given by God?  It is strange, this sense of peace I have about all of it.  I’d be leaving a bit out if I didn’t say I’m eagerly awaiting my next doctor’s appointment.  Or that I don’t want to “skip ahead” and see how this is going to work out…  But this thing, this web He’s weaving in my life, it is a miracle by itself to stand aside and see the works He is doing within my own heart.  I feel a renewal of faith that I have needed, wanted, ached for, for a very long time.  It is spurring me towards prayers, towards teaching, seeking,  and more……  Not for what most people think I’m praying for, but for a true hunger for the gifts of God……  Don’t you think that’s strange?  I’m surprised myself.

Ah, this ended up so much longer than I intended this morning.  I pray it is received as I meant it to be taken and all glory given to God for His word, His comfort, His goodness through all the times of trials that we face….  May we each learn to depend on Him a little more and ourselves a little less.

Some things you take for granted.

You take the sun rising each morning for granted.

You take creamer being in the fridge for your coffee every morning for granted.

Clean socks… No one knows how they get there, but they aren’t appreciated.

Babies.  We get pregnant, we make it to the second trimester and we take healthy babies for granted.
I haven’t had that luxury since Hannah’s death.  I’ve always walked on tiptoe until about week 14-16 when they place in that beautiful purse string stitch, the cerclage, around my cervix.   We tell the kids they “lock” the door of the uterus.  They stitch it up tight so it can support the weight of the baby.

I had a doctor’s appointment this past Monday.  It was a wonderful thing.  I was seeing a doctor I really adored and I love his staff!  As a bonus, we got our first ultrasound and what did we see?  A perfectly healthy baby.  Really it couldn’t get much better.  Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

And it was!  All of her little arms and legs and parts were there.  Unfortunately the placenta isn’t cooperating with our game plan.  We’ve had previa before – marginal previa.  Where just a naughty little lip of the placenta hung over the edge of the cervix.  And really?  Worse case scenario?  The absolute WORST thing that could happen?  I’d have to have a cesearean section a few weeks early.  Would I love it?  No.  But, ah well, a healthy baby is the goal and a healthy baby is worth the price paid in a pound of flesh. 😉

I didn’t realize I was at such high risk – several risk factors.

~Previous previa – twice
~Previous D & C  – to remove retained placenta after Ana’s birth
~Grand Multi-Para – lots of babies
~Previous C-Section
~Advanced Maternal Age (have to love that at 32, lol.)

Previa usually moves!  As a matter of fact, out of all the people who are determined to have some type of previa, only 10%, a teeny tiny 10%, still have it by the time they need to worry in the late third trimester.  And here we sit… Our little ticking time bomb.  Because we can’t wait for the third trimester. Oh no.  That cerclage was supposed to be placed in July.  And it won’t be.  And if the previa doesn’t move in August, it won’t be placed then.  And we have the unfortunate coincidence of having total (a.k.a. complete) previa.  It’s the least likely to move.  If it hasn’t moved by the beginning of September we’ve effectively closed our little window of opportunity to put in the “magic” stitch……

So what does it all mean?

I wish I knew.

I was one of those mamas who took a healthy baby for granted.  I mean sure, I had to jump through hoops, but a healthy baby?  After the surgery, everything has gone fine in the past.  And, after all, there is that *unmentionable* thing to be mentioned….  I lost one baby.  When Hannah was born at 26 weeks, she lived 12 days.  Who has TWO children die?  Who?  No one.  Right?  Not in this day and age……..  So that was, albeit not politically correct, it was my reasoning.   I had given up one child and why would God ever allow me to lose two?

And so here we sit.

I wish that was all.  We have the added complication that if the cerclage isn’t in place, my preterm labor is severe.  I dilate painlessly.  I am one of those incredibly blessed women who do not know they are in labor.  Think I’m kidding?  Abigail and Sarah.  They’re my examples.  With both Abigail and Sarah, I went into a doctor’s appointment and found out I was, respectively, 6.5 cm and 6 cm. dilated.  Contractions?  Nope, nothing out of the ordinary.  As a matter of fact with Abigail, strong, labor like contractions did not start until I was at eight, and then we broke my water.  She was born about 15 minutes later.  Lucky me!  I love this part of labor, lol.  But.  Not. In. This. Case.

In this case painless dilation is a serious threat.  The biggest risk about going into labor with total previa is the risk to Mom and Baby.  If you’re dilating without warning, the little vessels inside the placenta begin to break.  Pretty soon you start to bleed.  Baby can die with no warning and Mama can begin to hemorrhage, sometimes dangerously so.

Many doctors head this off by doing an early c-section.  What does one do when one goes into labor at 20 weeks?  What about 24 weeks?  28?  What about when you’re choosing, by delivery, to end the baby’s life?  Or at the very least make life awfully hard?

I’m wondering in the next months what decisions we’re going to be asked to make?  Are we going to be asked to terminate?  The answer would be decidedly no.  Am I going to end up hospitalized again, like with Hannah?  What does a mother of seven living, homeschooling children do when she’s hospitalized for weeks?  Are we going to be asked to choose the life of the mother over the life of the baby… Effectively that’s what IS going to happen if we start going into labor at 24 weeks or earlier.

I wonder these questions.  I wonder more morbid ones as well.  Did you know you can bury two children in the same plot at the cemetary?  Why would you?  I know this.   I hemorrhaged badly after Hannah was born.  I still remember the very LITERAL sound of splashing blood.  Memories like that haunt you sometimes…..  There are darker questions you wonder… Do you have enough life insurance?  Have you taken enough pictures?  If the worst happened, which children would have memories of their mama?  It’s late… The mind wanders.

Most of all I wonder why God would put me in this position.  I’ll not shy away from the fact that I’m praying for His protection.  For mine and the baby’s well-being to be sure, but for more than that… For His protection from being faced with ALL of it.  I’m praying for the placenta to be moved, and this burden to be lifted, these choices to be removed.

And sometimes God says, “Yes, I’ll take this cup from you.”

And sometimes?  Well, sometimes He says no.

I do entirely trust that His will can and should be done.  I acknowledge that His will is far better than mine.  I live to serve and wonder how I’ll be used in this instance…….  I pray for His eyes to see.  And I remember the story in the Bible with the father and He is asking the Lord to heal his child.  And the Lord asked, “Do you believe?”  And the father answers, “I beleive Lord, take away my unbelief.”  And I pray that He’ll remove doubt and unfaithfulness from my heart.

Part of me rests easy.  The better part of me is patiently trusting, waiting to see and hear and experience both what is and what will be.

The other?  Ah well, she is researching previa trying to find the exact statistics of total previa moving by exactly 20 weeks.  I know her.  She’s the same one that could quote the statistics for a 26 week old premature little girl surviving.

I’ve said over and over and over again, statistics aren’t relevant.  Even if the statistics are 98% to 2%, if you’re meant to be in that 2%, it is as it will be.  And no amount of worry will change that.

All prayers are appreciated.