Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Rainbow After The Storm

The days leading up to July 30th were some of the most nerve-wracking days I've ever been through. Our ultrasound was scheduled for July 30th. We left early, like we normally do. I've been waiting for a very special gift to come in the mail. Before leaving, I checked the mailbox. Nothing. I let out a sigh and walked my way to the car. Just as we were pulling out, there was the mailman loading up his bag to deliver in our neighborhood. Angel stopped next to him and asked if we had any mail. Without hesitation, he handed me the special package I had been waiting for. We thanked him and drove off. Boy, had this Angel mommy really taped it shut. Before we made it out of town, I was able to get it opened. First thing I pulled out was a set of tea candles. I LOVE candles! I quickly smelled them. They smelled absolutely beautiful. Next, I notice something big wrapped up in tissue paper. By the time we reached Sheetz, I was sitting there, reading what was inside. Such a beautiful poem lying inside an absolutely adorable picture frame. After reading this poem, I was in tears! This poem has touched me deeply. And knowing she wrote it herself makes it that much more special to me. It reads:

This candle's flame may flicker,
but its fire will never die.
Though you miss her dearly,
In your heart she'll always lie.
This candle's made for you,
To represent your love,
For the daughter you lost too quickly,
Now watching from above.
This candle's warmth
Is meant to ease your weary heart,
To help you through the days
That you and she are apart.
This candle's whispered promise
Is solely meant for you,
A mother so precious,
For her child,
There isn't anything
She wouldn't do.
This candle signifies a love so pure and deep,
And though she isn't here on Earth,
She's always yours to keep

Sophia Grace Velazquez
Forever Loved

I couldn't thank her enough for he kindness and love she has shown me. I thank our angels daily for bringing us to one another. As I sat there reading this poem, my eyes were filled with tears. After reading it, I looked up to the Heavens and whispered a heartfelt "thank you". This special gift couldn't have come at a better time. I had prepared myself to hear bad news on this day. This gift reminded me of all I have to be thankful for. And that I really need to stay in a positive state of mind.

We continued our journey to Geisinger Medical Center. Along the way, I spotted hundreds (literally) of butterflies. I imagined this as being Sophia and all her angel friends telling me, "You are not alone. We're watching out for you." And I truly believe they were. I said a silent prayer, asking God to allow my daughter to be at my side. I also asked for Him to allow all her friends to be right there with her. I believe He answered that prayer! I remember telling myself, "Everyone else is getting their rainbows. Or they have recently had their's. Can I please have mine? Can you please ease my heart, just a little bit? This heaviness becomes so much to bear at times. I need a little joy."

In no time, we made it to the hospital. At exactly 1:09pm, we were parked and ready to walk through those doors. These doors hold many memories for us. Memories of walking in to deliver 2 of my sons. Memories of walking out with 2 gorgeous boys in my arms. Memories of walking in, receiving heartbreaking news that our daughter would not survive. Memories of walking out with a white bunny in my arms, tears flowing freely from my eyes. Memories of walking in, not knowing I was in labor. Memories of walking out with empty arms, a heavy heart, and tears stinging my eyes. Memories of walking in to be told our baby has a beautiful heart beat. Walking out with a small smile on my face. Memories of walking in, not sure what we'd be told. 

We checked in. There was no place to sit! The waiting room was exploding with people. I remember looking around and seeing a priest sitting in one of the chairs. I secretly prayed and hoped he wasn't there to support a family going through a loss journey of their own. After a few minutes, I found a place to sit. I began praying again. We NEEDED good news this time around. After a few more minutes, we were called in. Blood pressure was great. I put on an extra 4 pounds since our last visit (1 pound a week). Shortly after, the doc was in the room. We spoke for a few minutes, I explained how scared I was. She tried to ease my worries. She told me to hop up on the bed, it was time to listen to baby's heart beat. I was getting nervous as it took her a little bit to find Bean's heart beat. She kept it there for a good 2 minutes or longer. Such a beautiful sound. I laid there smiling from ear to ear. I knew what it was like to have a monitor on my belly and not hear anything coming out. She even said that baby sounds like a girl. We'll find out soon enough. At that time, baby's heart beat was in the 150s.

Next, we had appointments with a nutritionist, and a social worker. Easy! We'd been through this before. It went by rather quickly. Then it was time to check out and check in to MFM. Now is when the fun begins. I could feel my heart beating through my chest. In no time, we had our first MFM appointment with a Genetic Counselor. She reviewed our family history (or what we know of it). Nothing has changed since last year. She explained to me about having a First Trimester Screening done. I was all for it. After talking for awhile, she went off to find one of the nurses from MFM. It felt like we were waiting forever! Angel actually fell asleep on the couch waiting for the nurse to come. We went in, she checked my weight and blood pressure. Everything was the same as it was earlier. We were taken to Exam Room 4. 

As soon as we walked in, Angel said "Oh no, not this room!" and I wasn't quite sure what he meant. I started looking around,. I knew what he meant. This was the room we were in when we were having the prenatal echo done to find out exactly what heart defect Sophia had. I felt my body tense up. I was starting to worry. Within about 10 minutes, the ultrasound tech walked in. She introduced herself and we got things under way. I laid there on the bed, holding my head up, just waiting to see Bean's head. I knew what I was looking for this time. As soon as she made her way towards the head, I noticed a beautiful round head. I said nothing, in case my eyes were playing tricks on me. Angel didn't hesitate. He said, "This is the head right?" and the tech responded with, "Yes, that is the baby's head." He starred for a few minutes and then asked, "Everything looks good right? No openings? No Anencephaly?" and her response was, "You're right! The baby looks perfect. Baby is measuring a few days ahead but that's just fine." After she spoke those words, I put my head down on the pillow with a whisper of, "Thank you, God!" Every time she said that baby looks perfect (it had to be about 3 times) I said the same thing over again. We listened to baby's heart beat. An amazing 178bpm!  She took some pictures for us and just went around looking at everything. At one time, Bean was hanging upside down. Another time, baby rolled and tried to hide in my back. I think he/she was getting tired of the pictures. She wanted to take just one more picture for us. A 4D picture. She switched probes and pushed a button. The screen changed! I noticed this itty bitty baby laying in there shaking his/her head up and down as if saying yes along with moving his/her arm up and down, as if asking a passing truck to blow their horn. She finished up and allowed me to use the restroom. 

About 10 minutes later, Doc Maslow came in. I missed seeing him. He sat down next to me with a smile on his face. He rubbed my arm as he said, "Baby looks perfect! I see no defects and no Anencephaly. I'm so happy to give you this news. It's much better news than we've had to give you in the past." He was so right! I felt like crying! I held myself together. He walked us over to check out and told the receptionist to schedule me for 7 weeks. In 7 weeks, we will know if Bean is a Boy or a Girl. I was so happy. The happiest I have been in a long time. We scheduled our scan... set for September 19th. No more super long appointments. 

Now I sit back, I'm finally enjoying this pregnancy. I haven't been able to wipe this smile from my face. I owe all the thanks to God and my own special Guardian Angel. I've held on to my faith as if I were dying. I prayed more yesterday than I have in my entire life. I do believe that God hears our prayers... and answers them. Sometimes we do not always like the answer. Sometimes there is a lesson to be learned. And so I have. I've learned to love on a much larger scale. I've learned to forgive because holding a grudge will not get me anywhere. I've learned to hold on to my faith, no matter what. I've learned to appreciate life, for life is truly too short and precious. I've learned to let the small things slide. Most of all, I've learned to dance in the rain! After every storm, there lies a rainbow. You just have to open your eyes to find it.

Our rainbow is brewing! Time to enjoy every little thing about this pregnancy. This will be my last baby. And my last baby is my RAINBOW!

Please keep our family in your prayers while we wait for test results for Downs, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18. Prayers would also be nice for an uneventful pregnancy, an easy surgery, and a great recovery. Thank you all so much for joining us on this ride of grief and journey to joy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

10 weeks

We're officially out of the single digits. This means that I could simply find out right now if Baby Bean has Anencephaly or not. But, I have to wait another couple weeks for that appointment. I'm very scared and nervous, but I have faith that God will do whatever He can to prevent that from happening again. Like a friend said, rarely ever does lightning strike the same place twice. I sure hope she is right!

Had someone told me at this time last year, that'd I'd be 10 weeks pregnant, I never would have believed them. At this time last year, a new baby was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted was to hold my precious Sophia in my arms and rock her to sleep. Tell her how much we all loved her. Sit back and watch her grow. And I still want that, even now! Unfortunately, that was not to be. God had other plans for her. I just wish I knew what those plans are! Now here we are, on yet another new journey. Every journey has it's own frightening moments I suppose. Now that the sickness has basically disappeared, I worry that something may  be wrong. When I felt sick all the time, I felt that something just wasn't right. After being in a situation like ours, you get freaked out over every little thing. I just want to make it to my appointment, be told that everything is perfectly fine, and enjoy the rest of my pregnancy since this will be my last.

I picture myself visiting Sophia's resting place with Baby Bean and "introducing" the two of them. I imagine myself sitting back over the next 20 years explaining to Bean that he/she has an older sister who could not be with us. Reminding him/her that just because he/she didn't get to meet her physically, doesn't mean she never existed. I will be sure to fill Bean in on all of our memories with Sophia and I hope to make many more over the years to come.

So now I sit here waiting for my next appointment. It seems like such a long ways to go. If I had it my way, I'd be at the hospital right now having an ultrasound done. And in a perfect world, I'd be told, "You have a healthy baby!". But this world is not perfect. Like many other parents, I know the pain & heartache of being told otherwise. I'm trying to stay as positive as possible, but it's not always that easy. Sophia continues to give us signs. While Angel was out with the kids yesterday, he saw not one but three rainbows in the sky. That has to mean something good, right? Especially since there was no rain in sight!! Thank you for the beautiful signs, baby girl!

We received an invite yesterday to attend the 4th Annual Perinatal & Early Infant Loss Parent Conference. I believe we were also invited to this last year but we were unable to attend. I'd really like to go this year but we have to figure everything out first. The kids have school that day and they don't catch the bus until close to 8am and the conference starts at 7am. I'd really love to go though and meet other parents who know the pain we feel. Another Anen Mom is supposed to be attending as well and we've been trying to make plans to meet. I think this would be a perfect time to do so.

On another note, this Friday is Miss Katie's 1st Birthday! I cannot believe it has been one year already. We plan on having our own little celebration for her. I know cake & ice cream will be on our menu. I'm going to be on a search for THE perfect balloon for her so we can leave our messages and release it for her. Angel says he already has the perfect balloon in mind. I can't wait to see it! I'm so happy to have been able to know her. I thank her Mommy for sharing her with the world. Katie has left such a deep impression in my heart and the hearts of others across the world.

We miss and love you both, Sophia & Katie! I can just imagine the party that will be taking place in Heaven this Friday. I wish we could peek in and see what's going on. Happy (Early) Birthday, Katie!!