Friday, February 23, 2018

Three More Weeks!

Countdowns and countups are my thing these days.  They help keep me sane as I can see how far we've come, and how close we're getting to the goal!

It's been 26 days since we first went to the hospital.
26 days since I've been home.
26 days of bed rest.

This is day 9 of hospital stay #2.
14 days total spent in the hospital so far.

It's been 7 days since my water broke, and still Samuel is hanging in there!

Today marks 34 weeks of pregnancy!

And the most anticipated, exciting, and nerve-wracking countdown...
Approximately 21 more days until we welcome Samuel David into this world!

The days since we first went into the hospital have been long. Most of the days have seemed to drag by. However, looking back on these numbers now, I can't believe it's already been 26 days!  And it's even less than that until we see our precious Samuel David face-to-face, and step into a new part of this journey!

Let me back up to where I left off in my last update, and explain why Samuel's expected arrival date has moved up.

The typical guideline for PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes) is to deliver the baby at 34 weeks, because 99% of otherwise healthy babies can survive at this point, and the risk of infection and still birth greatly increases.  As has been the case all throughout this pregnancy, our situation is a bit different.  Since Samuel is not "otherwise healthy", and at this point will require surgery at birth, the doctors need him to be as big and fully-developed as possible.  Because of this they are willing to give us 3 extra weeks!  Those 3 extra weeks will put us at 37 weeks, which is considered full-term because the heart and lungs are about as well developed as they can be.  This will allow Samuel to continue getting bigger, and allow his heart and lungs longer to develop, in order to give him the best possible chance.  They won't allow us to go past 37 weeks because the risk of infection and still birth 4 weeks after PPROM is too great.

While there hasn't been an official induction date scheduled yet, March 16th will be 37 weeks, so hopefully he will be born right around then!  It is still possible that I will go into labor before then, as 90% of women who experience PPROM go into labor within the first 2 weeks.  It is also possible that they will have to induce me sooner if they see signs of infection, or if Samuel seems to be in any kind of distress.
We are praying fervently against all of those things!

We have learned a few new things this week, after having a growth ultrasound and a doppler ultrasound (which looks at bloodflow):
  1. Samuel's long bones are still measuring far behind.  At our growth ultrasound on January 19th they averaged 22 weeks, now they are averaging 24 weeks.  So they have grown some, but are now measuring about 10 weeks behind.
  2. Other than Samuel's long bones, the rest of him is measuring small, but in the "normal" range of small!  This includes his head and chest!  So the doctors aren't quite as concerned anymore with his chest restricting the growth of his lungs.  That being said, it isn't really possible to assess lung development with an ultrasound, but going off of chest size, they should have enough room to develop.  I have also been through 2 rounds of steroid shots for Samuel's lungs, which typically they only give one round of steroids.  Perhaps God will use the additional doses to bring Samuel's lungs to maturity!  We just keep praying that we will hear a strong cry when he enters the world!
  3. When they looked at Samuel's stomach during the doppler ultrasound, it appeared partially collapsed.  The doctor said they could have just caught it when it was completely empty, or it could mean that there is an obstruction somewhere in the GI tract.  An obstruction would actually explain the Polyhydramnios (extra fluid).  Typically babies swallow the amniotic fluid, process it, and then urinate it back out.  But if the GI tract is not working properly, the fluid will begin to build up around the baby because it is not being processed quick enough.  If this is the case with Samuel, then it will likely require surgery after he is born.
  4. While they were looking at the brain, there was just a moment of increased blood-flow.  They're not sure what caused it, and said it could likely be nothing.  We are praying that it is nothing!
And here is an ironically unexpected praise!
We had been asking for prayers that the fluid levels would decrease, and that the contractions would stop.  With the leak in the amniotic sac, both of those things are happening!  My fluid level has dropped from the high 40s to 31, as of yesterday!  Anywhere from 5-25 is a normal range, so there is still some fluid that needs to go, but we are praying it will drop to that range and then level out.  The loss in extra fluid has also dramatically decreased the amount and intensity of my contractions!
God is working in mysterious ways, and seems to have used this unexpected event to answer some of our specific requests!

Thank you all for following along as God unfolds this story before our eyes, and thank you so much for joining us in lifting up prayers and praises for Samuel David!

This is His story, and it is all for His glory!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Change of Plans...Yet Again!

If there's one thing we've figured out from this pregnancy, it's that some things in life just don't go as planned.  This pregnancy it seems that nothing has gone as planned! But we know that God remains in control, and His plan is perfect.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
     Isaiah 55:8-9
Seth and I had just been getting used to our routine in our home-away-from-home, and we were enjoying having a comfortable place of our own!  But sometimes God calls us out of our comfort to do greater things.

Early Thursday morning we decided we needed to come back to the hospital because of some bleeding and increased contractions that I was experiencing.  They admitted us to labor and delivery because I had dilated further than before and they wanted to closely monitor things and hopefully keep my body from progressing any further.  Thankfully, the contractions began to slow down some so they sent us to the Antepartum unit where we wouldn't have to be monitored so closely.  Things were looking up, and by Friday the doctors were saying that we would be able to go "home" in the morning as long as everything remained unchanged!
Coming into the hospital Thursday morning I had been so worried that Samuel was going to make his appearance that day.  We were praying that God would continue to allow him to grow to 39 weeks, and that we wouldn't have to stay long at the hospital.  This seemed like an answered prayer!
But God doesn't always work in the ways we want Him to - another lesson we have learned over and over again during this past year.

Early Saturday morning I woke up only to realize that my water had started leaking overnight.  We called the nurse in to confirm, and that started a whirlwind of activity.
They gave me oral antibiotics and started me on IV antibiotics in order to prevent any kind of infection.  Unfortunately since it was 5 in the morning and I hadn't eaten all night the antibiotics made me quite sick, which just added to the drama of the moment.  Several doctors came in to assess, and fortunately I still had not dilated beyond a 2, but my contractions had increased.  They did an ultrasound to see how much fluid Samuel still had, then they started me on another round of steroid shots for Samuel's lungs, and decided to send me back to labor and delivery for close monitoring.  It was a long morning/afternoon, but praise God, things eventually began to slow down again!  Although I was still leaking amniotic fluid, my contractions slowed way down, and Samuel's heart rate and movement looked great throughout the whole process!  Right before dinner time they decided I was stable and could go back to Antepartum, which was a very welcome change since I had to be on a clear liquid diet all day while in L&D!

Now things are just a waiting game, as they have been, but it seems now that the timeline may be a little shorter than we had hoped.
I had always heard that if your water breaks you have to deliver within 24 hours, so I was very emotional at first thinking this was it.  But praise God that is not always true!

Here is what we currently know based on the events from Saturday:
The doctors quickly explained that it was only a leak, and since I had extra fluid to begin with, Samuel still had enough for the time being.  However there is now risk of infection, so that is what they have to keep a close eye on.  Typically when someone's water breaks before 34 weeks, they will try to keep the baby in until 34 weeks as long as there is no sign of infection, because most babies born at the 34 week mark can survive with extra care.  However, since Samuel has added medical complications they are currently willing to let me go past the 34 week mark (which would be February 23rd) as long as there are no signs of infection, and assuming that it doesn't send my body into labor on it's own before then.
Because everything is much more high risk now, I will not be able to leave the hospital until Samuel is born.  So I will continue on bed rest here, hopefully for at least a couple more weeks.  Definitely not what we were wanting, but we are thankful we are in a place where we can get immediate care!
Sleepover in the hospital! Thankful for these 2 being by my side the past couple of days!

Things to pray for:
  • That the leakage of fluid would slow down.
  • That the antibiotics would be effective in keeping away any infections.
  • That the steroids would help to mature Samuel's lungs more quickly.
  • That the contractions would remain at a minimum, or even stop completely, and not cause early labor.
  • That the doctors would have wisdom on when to deliver Samuel.
  • That God would continue to touch Samuel's heart, lungs, and bones, and bring healing.
  • That delivery would go smoothly whenever it does take place.
  • That Seth and I would continue to feel the peace of God and surrender to Him every day.

Praise God with us because:
  • Labor has now been prevented 3 times!
  • Samuel still has plenty of fluid to safely develop for now!
  • There are currently no signs of infection!
  • Samuel has shown no signs of distress!
  • Samuel is head down!
  • We have a whole team of prayer warriors (you!) walking this journey with us and covering us with God's grace!

One thing that has not changed: we don't know how this story ends, but we are clinging to all that we know is true of God.
He has never forsaken us, and we will not forsake Him. As difficult as it's been to walk this road, we have seen His hand preparing the way for us throughout this whole journey!  And we have been so encouraged by many of you who have let us know you are praying for us, shared Samuel David's story with others, sent us notes of encouragement or encouraging songs to listen to, provided us with meals, or even come to visit us.  Each of those things means the world to us, and we are so thankful!
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
       Psalm 27:13-14
This is His story, and it is all for His glory!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Even If...

It can be easy for me to put on a brave face for people, especially while sitting behind a computer screen.  And while everything that I have said on this blog is absolutely true, and I believe it with all of my heart, there are many hard days.
My heart is broken.
I am grieving.

No, we haven't lost our precious Samuel David, but I am finally ok admitting that I am grieving all the same.
I am grieving the joyful innocence of pregnancy that I have never known.
I am grieving the excitement of doctors visits that most people experience during pregnancy.
I am grieving what I thought our family would look like.
I am grieving the fact that I can't just put together a nursery, have a baby shower, or buy cute clothes without the thought in my head that Samuel may never use these things.
I am grieving the fact that all future plans are currently on hold while we wait to see what our lives are going to look like 2+ months from now.
I am grieving a life for my son that may never be.

Do I believe God can perform a miracle?
In fact, I believe that He has already performed many.
Has the healing come yet?
Not to our eyes.
But even if we never see the healing in this life, we know that God will heal our son, and we will see him whole and healthy one day.
My heart yearns for that day to be 7 weeks from now when Samuel enters this world full-term, with a perfect heart, a strong set of lungs, and perfect proportions to his body.  I know that God can perform this miracle!  I know that this yearning of my heart is not too far-fetched!  I have no doubts in my mind about God's ability to do these things...
But He may decide not to.

Our prayer every single day since we first began walking this journey was that God would receive glory through Samuel David's life.  It may be that He receives the most glory by not performing the miracle in the way that we want Him to.
And we have to be ok with that.
But it won't lessen the grief.

Seth and I are living each day with the expectation that we will get the chance to raise Samuel!  We pray every night that Samuel will grow up to love and serve God, and ask that God will grant us wisdom as we raise Him!  When we ask for the healing of Samuel's heart, we pray that it would beat for God all the days of his life.  When we ask for the healing of Samuel's lungs, we pray that he will glorify God with every breath.  When we cry out to God for Samuel's life, we pray that his life will bring God glory above all else.
We pray in expectation!
We pray with hope!
But even if...

The song "Even If" by Kutless came on the other day, and I think the lyrics say it perfectly.  No matter how our story plays out, and even in the midst of the waiting, Seth and I are clinging to what we know is true of God.  It's a knowledge we have acquired throughout our lives.  His love and goodness do not depend on how He chooses to answer our prayers.
If Samuel lives a long, healthy life - God is good!
If Samuel is born with all of his current complications and is only with us a short time - God is still good!
He is always faithful.  He is unchanging.
No matter what my emotions are at any given moment, my knowledge of who God is will never change - and for that I am thankful.

I want to encourage you to listen to the song below, read through the lyrics, and know that whatever you might be going through - no matter how painful it may be - God is still God, and He remains faithful and good - ALWAYS.
So surrender your story, and allow Him to use it for His glory!

"Even If" by Kutless

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise 

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Monday, February 5, 2018

A New Home Away From Home

It's been a few days now...but we were released from the hospital Friday evening!  Thankfully Samuel is still safely growing and developing, and we pray that he will continue to do so over the next 8 weeks, but our lives are going to look a little different while we wait for him to make his appearance.  While we no longer have to sleep on hospital beds/chairs, we also will not be sleeping in our own bed for quite some time.

Because of how much extra fluid is currently surrounding Samuel (severe Polyhydramnios), my uterus is already measuring well past-term.  This is causing my body to think that it's already time for Samuel to arrive, so it's likely that these frequent contractions I've been experiencing since last Sunday will continue until the time that Samuel is born.  We are praying that God will miraculously drop the fluid levels to a normal range, but as of now we are on high-alert for any signs that labor may be progressing.  This means that I will not be able to make the 3-hour trip home for the remainder of the pregnancy.  In fact, I am confined to the bed and couch, as the doctors have given me strict bed rest orders in hopes of keeping the contractions from increasing.  So Seth and I will be staying in Little Rock until Samuel makes his appearance, which hopefully won't be for another 8 weeks!  While that is a lot of time to be away from home, we are so thankful for each day that Samuel is given to continue safely growing in the womb.

It is difficult being so far away from home during this time.  We so greatly miss being close to friends and family.  But we have been so blessed already during our first week in Little Rock and we are so grateful for the caring, generous community that God has surrounded us with!

  • A generous family is allowing us to stay in an apartment that they have built on their land!  It is such a blessing to have a place of our own as we wait, and a place to welcome visitors to keep us company.
  • Seth's job is allowing him to work remotely for as long as we need to be down here!  So he will be able to stay in Little Rock with me the whole time.
  • We have already had a few people bring/send us food, even before we left the hospital! This has been such a blessing, and takes a burden off of Seth as I am not allowed to cook or leave the house right now.
  • So many people have contacted us to encourage us, and to let us know they are praying for us!
  • We have had family making trips back and forth to support us during our hospital stay, and as we transition into our home away from home!
Even though we are 3 hours away from our main support system, God has been faithful to provide, and we are so grateful to each of you!

Here are some specific things we would love prayer for:
  • Peace as we wait.  Being out of our normal routine and in a completely new environment leaves us with a lot of extra time to worry!  Pray that we will focus our minds on God, resting in His peace, and that He will draw us closer to Himself during this time.
  • Patience and joy as we settle into a new normal.  A lot is being required of Seth right now, and it is hard for me to just lay down and watch as he cooks, cleans, and serves me in every way possible.  But I know that is what I need to do.
  • Healing for Samuel David.  We don't know much more than what we knew from our last appointment on the 19th.  We will have another growth ultrasound on the 15th of this month to see how his chest and long bones are developing.  We did have one quick ultrasound during our hospital stay and were told that his chest is just above the 50th percentile, which is hopeful!  We do know that Samuel's heart rate and activity level during the 5 days in the hospital looked great!  He never showed any signs of distress!
  • A decrease in the amniotic fluid surrounding Samuel.  The doctors seem to say it would take a miracle for it to decrease on its own, but we are praying to the One who can perform miracles!  A decrease in amniotic fluid would hopefully cause the contractions to stop, and lower my risk of going into labor too early.
  • Physical comfort while on bed rest.  I am on day 8 of bed rest, and am very sore!  It is difficult to get into a comfortable position.  Pray that God will ease my discomfort and allow my body to rest as we wait for Samuel.
  • Quality time with God and with each other.  Pray that Seth and I will be able to use this time away from our busy lives to strengthen our relationship with God and with each other.  Pray that I can be intentional in my activities as I am resting.
And now I have to give a shout out to my husband, who has jumped in to serve me without even hesitating.  He literally does everything for me, including refilling my water over and over again so that I won't stand up.  He helps lift me off the couch when my back and belly ache too much to move.  He is cooking and cleaning and shopping, all while I lay here completely dependent on him.  Not to mention he still has a job to do.  I always knew he was a servant, but he has done all of this without complaining, and I couldn't get through this without him!  I am so blessed that God gave this man to me, and I am so thankful that this is the man Samuel has to look up to!

On another note, if you have any verses or songs of encouragement, book recommendations, or any other good ideas to pass the time while keeping my mind focused on God, please send them my way!

This is His story, and it is all for His glory!

2 BIG Updates!!!

It has been a long time coming, but we are back! Back in the blogging world. Back to sharing our story in order that God may be glorifie...