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32 weeks 3 days…

Written in March 2013

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I’ve been doing a lot of reflection during this pregnancy. Even though being sad comes along with the grieving process, I’m grateful for the sadness and tears, and I embrace them whole heartedly. Sephora would have been 10 months old this month. Some days it feels as though her pregnancy and her life never existed. It is in the moments of the sadness, that I’m able to relive the day of her birth. In those moments, I’m reminded of how real she was and how beautiful and perfect her precious life was as well.

Tomorrow, 32 weeks 3 days, was the exact gestation that I was diagnosed with the HELLP syndrome, which determined Sephora’s birthday. What crazy about this, is I feel completely different! I never realized how sick I actually was at this point in my pregnancy with Sephora. Today, my ankles are skinny. I have gained half the amount of weight now that I had with Sephora, because I’m not retaining the amount of fluid that had built up with her as well. Please don’t misunderstand me. I loved every second that I got to spend with our precious little Sephora Angeline. Because I’m not sick during this pregnancy, I’m enjoying our precious little Miles even more! With just under 2 months until Miles makes his appearance, I am embracing and welcoming the grief that I feel today.

 

Love Never Fails!

Thursday, May 17, 2012 ~ 32 Weeks 2 Days

Within the past few days, I’ve been asked by many people who have been following Sephora’s story, “How do you do it?”  I’ve thought more in depth about this response since I’m being confronted with this question more frequently.  My answer is not about strength.  It’s not about bravery.  It’s about living life.  I could choose not to get out of bed every morning.  I could choose not to reach out for emotional help when I need it.  I could choose to take out any little bit of depression and frustration that I may have, and put it onto my husband…I may even be guilty of that some days.  How do I do it you ask?  How do I deal with the knowledge of the information that I have learned about our beautiful baby girl?…the fluid in her brain, deformity of her heart, lack of developed eyes, the Trisomy 13 diagnosis.  I tell her story.  I watch my belly move and take shapes I’ve never seen before.  I spend precious hours every day with my husband, reading devotionals and listening to the recording of Sephora’s heart beating that plays inside of our teddy bear every time I squeeze it.  I sit outside and enjoy “Sephora’s Garden” while our dog Maverick lays under the big tree with me as well.  I focus on the positive things about her life.  Some days, when the positive just isn’t enough, I sit and cry.  I ache for the chance to bring her home from the hospital in 8 weeks, and to put her in the one adorable little outfit we have for her that reads “Daddy’s Girl.”  I dream of holding her close to me, kissing the top of her tiny head and feet, and putting cute little flowers in the small amount of hair she has.

Then some days, when my ankles are twice the size they’re supposed to be…when sitting, standing, and laying down are no longer comfortable anymore…I look to the sky and have a conversation with God, and I’m reminded that He is in control of her story and her life.  Despite my own struggles emotionally and physically, none of this is about me.  Though she is a piece of the puzzle, and is helping to shape my life’s story, this is her story of life, love, and happiness.  Whatever happens and however her life plays out on earth or in Heaven, I’m still the one who gets to say, “That’s my baby girl, Sephora.  I’m her Mommy.”  I’ll continue to sing to her every day.  I’ll constantly poke her to see if her feet are still in her face…which they still are!  When she’s born, even if for a short time, I’ll have peace in knowing that my baby girl experienced love from every person she has ever come into contact with for every single day of her existence.

1 Corinthians 13:7-13 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…Love will last forever!…All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely…Love Never Fails!

Lots of Beautiful Flowers!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 ~ 32 Weeks 1 Day

Chris and I got married the day the rains from Hurricane Lee stopped!  Whoever said rain on your wedding day was good luck, was probably just trying to calm down a crazy hysterical bride…I didn’t care if it was good luck or not!  We didn’t need any luck.  We just needed the rain to stop and the sun to shine!  It was raining and dark all morning on that Friday.  At 12 o’clock, the sun came out and never hid behind the clouds once!  Our wedding ceremony took place at one of the highest points in the area that has a panoramic view of the Susquehanna River.  As my dad walked me slowly down the aisle, while one of my good friends sang “At Last,” the sight took my breath away.  Here we are.  6 1/2 years after we’d met.  I was about to be united with my best friend for life, with all of our family and friends there to surround us with love.

Our florist for the wedding, Jodi, another good friend of ours, decided her wedding gift to us would be to make our beautiful garden grow.  She has begun to plant all types of local plants, ivy, greenery…each week, she stops over and shares a few more new plants with us.  One grouping that meant a lot to Chris and me was the bleeding hearts for Sephora.  We planted them under the giant tree in our back yard since they like shade.  We have a bench right next to the area where we can sit and enjoy them.  Since Spring is coming to an end, the bleeding hearts have slowly stopped blooming as well.  We planted these a few weeks ago, because we wanted to be able to honor Sephora in some way…should the Trisomy 13 overtake her after she is born, allowing her to return home to Heaven.  We have a white bleeding heart to represent grief and a pink bleeding heart to represent love.  I love that our dear friend and garden/floral designer, Jodi, understands the symbolism behind each flower that she plants for us.  We can’t wait to see how our Little Sephora Garden continues to grow!

Matthew 6:25-32  “The lilies don’t worry, and yet they have everything that they need to grow.  That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life…look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?…Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow….and if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you…Your Heavenly Father already knows all of your needs.”

3D/4D Ultrasound

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 ~ 32 Weeks

We had a very busy morning of errands to run before our ultrasound at 12.  We arrived early to fill out paperwork, and then waited with my family and friends to be called back.  The room was set up so nicely.  There was a bed for me, several couches, and a few chairs for everyone else to sit on with a giant TV so we all could watch.  One of my grandparents said someone should have remembered to bring popcorn, because the reminded them of being at the movies!

First thing we saw when the transducer was placed on my belly…a wide shot to prove she still is a girl!  We quickly learned she is laying in a transverse position (sideways across my belly), and it was going to be difficult to get good photos of her.  She was completely folded in half, as she usually is.  Her feet and hands were covering her face during the entire scan!  We tried to move her around gently.  I got up to move around, drink water, use the restroom…nothing.  They even played James Brown to try to startle her to move her into a better position.  Again, nothing!  She completely was sleeping through the entire scan!  It didn’t matter what we did, she slept, and was not about to move out of her comfortable position for us to see her.  After an hour of trying to get a good look at any part of her, we decided to stop for today and we can come back again in a few days.  Hopefully she will change her position so that we can see her face next time.

We did get a cute bear to bring home with a recording of her heartbeat that plays inside.  I thought that was really sweet of them to include this with our package…because I am pretty sure it wasn’t including originally.

Great News From “Sustaining Grace!”

Monday, May 14, 2012 ~ 31 Weeks 6 Days

Today started as not so good of a day, but with a little bit of good news, it’s gotten so much better!  One of the organizations we have chosen to work with, Sustaining Grace, has graciously offered to pay for us to have a 3D/4D ultrasound so we can get a better look at our beautiful little Sephora.  We have received several 3D photos of Sephora through our ultrasounds with the different specialists we’ve seen.  Never have we been able to see her in 4D, where we will actually get to see her move and wiggle on a DVD we can take home!

Because I will be 32 weeks tomorrow, I had to schedule the appointment for as soon as possible…typical babies tend to be too big to completely view by 34 weeks…just one of their rules.  Since Sephora is measuring 4 weeks behind the average baby, I probably could have waited, but I didn’t really want to get into all of the details of her condition with the place we are going tomorrow.  Since I had to rush our appointment, my parents unfortunately won’t be able to join us.  They are on vacation this week and will have to miss it, which makes me kind of sad.  The DVD we will receive tomorrow will record everything that we will see during the ultrasound, and we should receive a few really good pictures as well!  ::fingers crossed::  Even though watching the ultrasound on a DVD isn’t the same as being there, we at least will be able to share the DVD with my parents when they get home.  Maybe I’ll even be able to upload some of the DVD tomorrow so everyone can see her!

We do have a good group of family and friends that are able to come along with us tomorrow.  We all can fall in love with her together!  I can’t wait to see her again tomorrow!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012 ~ 31 Weeks 5 Days

Today is my very first Mother’s Day, and actually pretty exciting!  The weather is beautiful.  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing their tunes everywhere we go…but I realize I am human, and I’m not doing so well today.

We finished our series at church titled “Mordinary” today.  It wasn’t your typical Mother’s Day sermon that I’d been used to hearing every year.  We are to desire to be more than ordinary.  Pray your most ridiculous and crazy prayer every single day.  We were reminded of the story in Mark 35 of the sick little 12 year old girl, whose father had sought out Jesus for healing.  As they approached his home, the people in the home came and told the father that his daughter had passed.  It was too late.  Don’t bother asking Jesus to save her, for there is no life in her left to be saved.  Jesus ignored their words, entered the house, and told the daughter to get up and get out of bed!…and that’s exactly what she did!  As out of this world as that story is, this is another reminder to us that NOTHING is impossible for God.  Pray for exactly what it is that you want.  Pray for the healing we so desperately desire.  Remove Sephora’s extra chromosome to allow her to be a healthy little girl without this stupid Trisomy 13 diagnosis!  Heal her heart and ensure it has made all of the proper connections.  Ensure that her heart will pump effectively to all of the different organs in her body after she’s born in nearly 8 short weeks.  Strengthen and make her eyes grow so that she can see.  Keep minimizing the fluid in her brain so that the brain matter can actually grow, form, and make the connections that it needs to function properly.  Let us spend time with her when she is born:  seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years!  If I pray for this every day, at least I will know I have asked for specific healing for my baby girl.  If for whatever reason this healing isn’t granted, I’ll grieve but be reassured that God’s plan for her was/is much bigger than my own.

“I need you to soften my heart and break me apart.  I need you to pierce through the dark and cleanse every part of me.  All I am I surrender.  Give me faith to trust what you say…that You’re good and Your love is great.  I’m broken inside.  I give you my life.  I may be weak, but Your spirit’s strong in me.  My flesh may fail, my God you never will.”  This was our final anthem that we sang when the service ended today.  I collected my Red Rose as we exited the building to celebrate my first Mom’s Day.  As we were leaving, I realized once again that I am broken and at times I am weak.  I choose to enjoy this day, to watch my belly move as Sephora moves, and to pray BIG PRAYERS for my precious little angel.

To every Mom and Mom to be…Happy Mother’s Day

Trial + Challenge = Blessings

Friday, May 11, 2012 ~ 31 Weeks 3 Days

A wonderful song has been running through my head non stop since yesterday morning when I woke up, and I believe this is definitely the time to write about it. I firmly believe the mind subconsciously helps to bring you peace when you most need it. For every ultrasound, a different song has played in my head to essentially cope with the stress in that moment. More times than not, these songs are about strength. Today, the song that doesn’t stop is about blessings.

Yesterday, I mustered up the courage to contact one of the local funeral homes in the area to see what steps we would need to take, and to mentally prepare ourselves for Sephora’s possible passing. Because of our circumstance, the funeral home does everything they can to make this transition as easy and painless as possible for us. The Isabella Rose Project has also been able to give us some guidance as far as final preparations for our little one, and we are thankful for their support as well. After the phone call with the funeral home ended, the song entered my head…Laura Story “Blessings.”

“We Pray for blessings. We Pray for peace. Comfort for family and protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. All the while, you hear each spoken need. Your Love is far too much to give us lesser things.”

That first verse has completely opened my eyes. We pray for all of these different things for our own lives and try to understand that His Love is far greater than our comprehension. As sad or distressed as we may be some days, I’ve come to learn that our journey with her is not to hurt us in any way. Her purpose is to help us to grow, change, evolve, and to help others comprehend and cope with the unimaginable and impossible circumstances of our lives. You see, God really doesn’t give you more than you can handle. I once thought her diagnosis was too much. It was unfair to “make me” carry a sick baby to term. Sephora has shown me that my life is not really as awful as I once thought. We must remember, with every trial that challenges us, there is a blessing waiting to embrace us at the finish line. Sephora is very happy in her cozy little home right now where she keeps me company all day. Her hiccups and movements are soothing, and sometimes tickle when she decides to make my belly ripple like the waves of the ocean. I know she hears me when I talk and sing to her. Even though our time with our “Beautiful Angel” Sephora Angeline, may be short, I do believe she was given to us to bring us joy. She always manages to put a smile on my face.