Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunday Best.

This Sunday I thought the boys were looking especially handsome in their little church clothes. Why not capture a little picture of them looking so cute?
 Easier said than done... apparently. I cannot get both of them to smile in the same picture. It's nearly impossible.
 What I think is funny about this outfit B has on is that Quincy was wearing it last year. The shirt alone is size 4T, granted it's a tad bit big on Mr. B, but not by much. Don't you love the little handkerchief in his pocket?
 We even tried bribing B to smile with Cheeze Its, and eventually he just looked like hamster with stuffed cheeks. lol
 Quincy is looking grown up lately---less 'little kid' and more 'big kid'. He also got some new church shoes (he was excited that they were like Tyler's).
Won't they be cute when they have their little brother with them?

Awwww..... my little Howard Boys. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The halfway mark: 20 Weeks

  It's official.... I've made it to the halfway point. I feel a mixture of emotions, mostly relief on account of what we've been through the last few weeks. I am happy to be big. I am happy for our little Baby Pula and his good health. I am happy that in about 4 short months (give or take) that we will get to see him.

I'm also a happy that Tyler has agreed to let me choose his name. Boys names were something I always dreaded picking out with Tyler, it was extremely rare we ever agreed on one. After our ultrasound at the specialists' office-- and upon finding out that our little one is yet another boy-- I told Tyler I thought that it was only fair that I should get to pick his name out. How could he argue me on the subject after everything we had been through? He gave me the okay on one condition: he said that he was allowed two 'vetos'.

 I agreed.

I already have his name picked out... though it we won't be sharing until he's born.

[We've got to have something to surprise everyone with. :) ]

Tyler actually likes it too.....
 19 weeks
20 weeks
There isn't too much excitement in the pregnancy at this point-- and really, I could do with a little LESS excitement these days. At the moment I am content to recognize each little kick, jab (which are softened lots from the placenta in front of him) and fluttering somersault. I only get up twice in the night for potty trips, so nice to get a little more sleep. I am only sick-ish in the morning which is easily fixed by getting some food in me. I rarely suffer from heartburn, yay! I am also beginning to LOVE food again. Hallelujah. I know I've gained somewhere around 13 pounds thus far... and the doctor has allowed me to gain a healthy 25-35 pounds during this pregnancy.
 Here's our little Pula and his profile.
Quincy is currently under the impression that Pula will look more like Braxton than him.
We shall see....
 As soon as the ultrasound technician went over an area of our little baby I recognized exactly what that tiny arrow was pointing to.

I suppose that we are awfully good at making little boys.
 Although these two pictures (above and below) might seem insignificant in many ways... seeing Pula's opened hand was a blessing (since clenched hands would have been an indicator in signs for Trisomy 18.)
 Another wave from Pula. So happy to see five little fingers pass over the screen.
Again... (I know these pictures are a little difficult to see, taking a picture of a picture isn't easy, but you get the idea--hopefully--) here are Pula's ten tiny toes and we couldn't have been happier to see his perfect little feet. (No rocker bottom feet on our baby boy.)

Your mama loves you more than anything. I am so happy you will get to meet your brother's here on Earth. I am thankful you are strong. I am thankful you have a daddy and two big brothers to show you how to be a righteous young man someday. We can't wait to see in about 4 months...


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Braxton at 21 Months....

 It's hard to believe that Braxton isn't that far away from turning two!
 We see him growing before our eyes... aside from the fact that he is physically a big boy (catching Quincy quickly) I notice him growing in other ways.
 He is currently shown a great interest in reading, although he still doesn't have much patience to sit through very long books. I often find him sitting down with a book in his lap, turning pages, and taking in the pictures. He has added some new sounds to his vocabularly: Ga, Ca, Ssss, Ra, and Ta. He has made more of an effort in saying some words, but overall has his own little language consisting of sounds and gestures. He gets frustrated when I don't give him what he's motioning for, but I've been trying really hard to get him to say the word aloud- or at least TRY. He can say Car, and has taken an interest in the word 'clock' (cah). He says dada all the time. Any time I call on the phone he says "bapuh" (grandpa). He holds the phone to his ear and says "He-doh" (hello). He says "kar kar" (Karter). He says ra (red), ga (green), ba (blue- or black), ya ya (yellow). Instead of saying "Uh oh" he just says "uh", leaving off the oh part. He loves to wrestle with Tyler. He has quite the assortment of animal sounds: dog (woo woo), cat (bahw), bird (he makes an 'o' with his lips and tries to whistle), chicken (bawk bawk), horse (baaaw), sheep (baaa), rooster (caah ca), duck (cah cak), frog (ri buh), snake (sssss), bear (raaa), tiger/ lion/ cougar etc. (snarling noise). The list goes on.... but you get idea... the kid has quite the variety of animal sounds. He loves to give baby Pula kisses... one night he lifted up my shirt and gave MULTIPLE sweet tender kisses to my belly and belly button. After each time he'd kiss my tummy he would look at me and smile.
 Braxton's latest interest: taking his clothes on/ off and trying to "dress" himself. He specifically tries to take his socks on or off. He also has been a little shoe bandit around our house....

Any time there are a pair of shoes lying around he feels the need to put them on his feet. The shoes he has on in the top picture above are actually Quincy's and as you can see he's quite happy, despite the fact they are on the wrong feet. He also doesn't mind putting on my snow boots either. :) Silly boy!

I love my little Braxton Kaleb!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quincy has really taken an interest lately in the creative department. He really is enjoying coloring, writing, trying to read, and most recently painting.
 Tyler brought home a clay piggy bank that was a leftover prize from some games during one of their meetings at work... needless to say Quincy was thrilled at the idea of getting to paint it.

 Hard at work....

Quincy never ceases to amaze us with his observation skills over every day things. While at Walmart last week Quincy leaned towards Tyler as they were finishing checking out and said: "Dad, that lady lost a tooth!" I couldn't help but laugh about his simple observation and acknowledge that he was right. Tyler also noted that she was missing part of one of her legs too and told Quincy: "Yeah, she lost a leg too." He looked a little confused and disturbed at the thought of 'losing a leg.' We sure got a kick out of it though.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

As Promised... some Halloween Pictures.

Our boys did have a fun time going to our ward's Annual Trunk or Treat. I feel it's much better than going house to house with kids who have little legs.
 I tried my best to get a picture of my little cowboy and skeleton, but as usual they are a tough pair to coordinate. Braxton was more interested in the airplane flying over our heads than smiling at me for the camera. Oh well.
 See? They were just too excited, I guess, for a picture.
 This is Braxton saying: "Where'd the airplane go?"
 Cowboy "B"
 Quincy did make an especially cute skelton. I wish you could see how cute it was when it was glowing in the dark.
 The primary kids had some activities planned for them before they went out to Trunk or Treat. They had a pumpkin toss into a big plastic caldron, cookie decorating, and a ghost sucker craft. Braxton was more excited to eat his sucker than admire the time spent making it look like a ghost.
 I know the boys look sort of out of it. They both got colds before they went trick or treating on Halloween Day, it turns out that was the least of my worries....
 Braxton had just woke up from his nap and didn't really have time to eat, thus the grilled cheese sandwhich in his hand.
This man asked if I would like to have a picture with my boys... although Braxton isn't smiling to his little heart's content, this picture reminds me of the happy moments up until my phone call from the doctor. Overall , we did an pretty good Halloween. And next year I'll have three little boys in tow. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

In the words of Micheal Buble`:

"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life... and I'm feeling good......."

What a journey we've been on this week! 
Let me fill you in on the last part of our roller coaster ride.

Wednesday was normal enough. My parents generously offered to take the boys for me and Tyler went back to work. He said that when he got to work everyones eyes were glued on him and that they had some somber looking faces. All showed their concern and support. I spent most of my day cleaning, reading, updating the blog (for my own journal purposes), and overall trying to mentally prepare myself for what was coming in the next 24 hours. Finally 5:30PM rolled around and Tyler called to tell me he was on his way home. I asked him if I could receive a priesthood blessing that night. We are so lucky to have the gospel in our lives. I have never felt such comfort, peace, or joy in the event of having the blessings of the priesthood ministered upon me. It has truly blessed my life in many ways and I'm SO thankful Tyler is worthy to hold it.

A friend of ours was able to come over and help with the blessing. Although the words are too sacred to share (and it is difficult to express or remember exactly what was said) I felt peace. That night we went to bed around 11:30PM. It SHOULD have been an awful, nightmarish night of tossing and turning..... but it wasn't. I slept for almost 7 hours straight. When was the last time that happened? Not recent enough that I can recall. It goes to testify that the Lord was letting me get the much needed rest I had hoped and prayed for. In the morning I felt refreshed, something which may have seemed so out of place-- considering what we had to look forward to Thursday morning.

Tyler and I made the best of killing those few morning hours prior to leaving for the appointment the best we could. I started to feel slightly anxious as the clocked ticked closer to 11:00AM. While sitting on the couch I even explained that while I was young I had many opportunities to sing in front of large crowds... never once did I feel nervous until just as I was about to step on stage. It was a blessing and a curse. However, once I stepped out onto stage the nervousness faded quickly. Thursday morning was very similar. I knew since my appointment was at noon that most likely I should eat something beforehand, but the thought of food didn't sound good at all.

We drove to the appointment talking about various random subjects-- clearly trying to keep our thoughts away from the lurking black clouds that hovered inside them-- and made it to the specialists office 15 minutes early. The paperwork was short (taking no more than 2 minutes to fill out) and so we sat waiting another 13 minutes in the waiting room.

Once again, I found myself trying to preoccupy my thoughts.

I looked around the waiting room and noted three large painted canvases. One showed a beautiful yellow dandelion, the other depicted 3 older dandelions that had gone to seed, and the last portrayed something blowing the seeds of the dandelion from the stem. I found myself trying to find meaning between these images and the waiting room I was sitting in and I didn't have much luck trying to direct my thoughts in any positive direction.


Next distraction.

 I started people watching. I observed a lady in purple blouse and blue jeans. She was slightly plump in the middle with slender looking legs and looked kind of like an apple on a stick (or rather two sticks). I guessed she was in her mid 50's. She sat in the chair the whole time we were there with her ankles crossed, her hands folded in her lap, her body slightly shifted to one side of the chair, and her eyes closed. From the way she sat so still and breathed so steadily it appeared that she was sleeping.

How, I thought, could anyone be sleeping sitting up in a chair like that, let alone in a waiting room?

It was working.

I was distracted.

 I watched several other couples come in and out. Noting the women who looked extremely pregnant and the ones who might have been, but it was difficult to know for sure. After hearing three other names called before ours I finally heard a soft, "Kati?"

Suddenly I was back to reality....  

Deep breathe.

We ended up meeting with our genetic counselor who's name was Geri. She brought us back to her office and we got 'acquainted' (for lack of a better word) with our situation. She asked what we knew and went on to explain things that we didn't know so much about in more detail. It was reassuring to know that even during our conversation with her I felt hopeful. Geri sounded hopeful too, which I was praying that she wasn't one of those sugar-coat-everything-over-kind-of-doctors. She clarified that the quad screen measures four types of proteins (and if I remember right) two types from the mother's blood and two types from the babies blood (I could be wrong). However, there are four. Apparently the desired score for these protein levels in ideally around a 1.00. Three of my levels were close to 1.00. Great news for us! One particular protein level was only at a .15...... ooooooooww. Ouch! Not so good. Geri explained that these protein levels were unique to each mother and  baby and that while the .15 seemed low (statisically speaking) that perhaps it was a normal level for our baby.

Again. I was feeling some reassurance. Perhaps our little Pula didn't have to have a 1.00 on that protein-- and that everything would be fine. We went into further detail about our family history all the way from siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, aunts, and unlces to determine that we both come from pretty genetically sound, healthy families.

Although she did clarify again, that Trisomy 18 is NOT something that occurs through genetics, but rather happens spontaneously. I could tell that Tyler was more nervous than I was during some of our meeting with her. He had a very concentrated face, clearly trying to make sure he asked every possible question, understood everything, and was aware of what we were up against. He frequently shifted his weight from the front to the back of the chair. He twisted his hands, and eventually put them under the table on his lap. I could tell this was finally starting to take a toll on his tough exterior that he had shown me the past three days. I also knew that his hands were sweating, something I found myself smiling a little to myself about.

Personally I didn't feel overwhelmed by anything. In fact, I just had this strange feeling like 'I should be feeling panicked or unsure right now, but I don't.' It was a little weird at the time, but perhaps it was just the Spirit giving me the comfort I had asked for in the three days prior.

After about an hour in depth conversation with Geri she explained that they would be doing an ultrasound to look for characteristics on the baby indicating any warning signs for Trisomy 18. This I was prepared for. I had read about it. An ultrasound? No problem. Then she also explained that we could do an amnio as well to further be reassured that we knew everything was fine. An amnio would give 99% accurate results. She told us we could both that day or do an ultrasound first and then decide. She left the room to find the ultrasound technician and I was grateful to have a moment alone to talk with Tyler. I tried to briefly tell him I wasn't thrilled about the idea on an amnio UNLESS there was a warning showing up in the ultrasound. We agreed that we'd do the ultrasound first and then decide from there on the amnio. 

By the time 1:00 rolled around we were sitting in the ultrasound  room with our technician, a blond haired twenty something year old, named Kaci. She was kind and reassuring. She told us she was a fourth year ultrasound tech student and that her supervisor would be watching our ultrasound from the other room. I had an extremely full bladder at this point, as they recommend drinking like 24oz of water prior to the ultrasound. If I were in different circumstances I might have complained about the discomfort I was in (with a full bladder and a technician pressing over it for an hour and 15 minutes), but it was worth it. At the beginning she asked us if we would like to know the gender and replied with "Sure!"

(But we'll get to that part last....)

After going over Pula's little body with extreme thoroughness for over an hour we witnessed that our baby did not have clenched fists (one of the indicators). In fact Pula even 'waved' at us and I watched with a hopeful heart that we were on the right track towards celebrating over a healthy baby. We also saw that Pula didn't show signs on rocker bottom feet (another one of the indicators). I watched the screen with love in my heart over two perfectly shaped feet and ten tiny toes. We watched as the technician spent 25 minutes examining every angle of Pula's heart to make sure it was formed right. This part was difficult as she kept going over and over it again. I almost felt like I should be worried that something was wrong, but I couldn't manage to summon the concern. Then she spent another 20 minutes looking at the brain. Again, an area which I didn't know exactly what was "normal" looking. At last we were done around 2:15. It was long, and some of it extremely uncomfortable for me, but I didn't care.

 I was glad Heavenly Father let her be thorough.

Kaci left and told us that the doctor would be in to talk with us about the results. She said his name was Dr. Pandapati (pronounced like panda-potty--- what an interesting name, no?) Tyler and I were left alone in the room as we waited for the doctor to come it. At this point I was SO tired, I had got lots of sleep the night before, but I hadn't realized how emotionally drained I had become without even realizing it.

I still felt calm.

Tyler and I were BOTH starving.

After five minutes of sitting he started to look a little worried and said something like, "I hope they will be in here soon. I hope that somethings not wrong." I tried to reassure him, funny how he had been comforting me all week, that it was okay it was taking longer for the doctor to come it. I said, "Look, we want that doctor to be as thorough as he can. I don't care it he looks at for 30 minutes, we want to have the most skilled eyes to give the most accurate result to us so we can have some piece of mind." I think that Tyler felt better about me reminding him of this.

So we sat.

And sat................

At last the door opened and Dr. Pandapati walked in. He introduced himself and shook our hands. He sat on the edge of the bed, which seemed to be a technique to put us at ease. At least it appeared more casual to me. He explained that he had looked over the ultrasound results. He told us he looks for these things every day. He said that after examining the ultrasound closely he could not find one single indicator for Trisomy 18 or for anything else on that matter. He told us that Pula looked like a perfectly normal and healthy baby.

I can not express how it felt to hear him say those words. Up until that point we had only been hoping that our baby could be healthy, but had known nothing for sure. I felt a small smile and tried really hard to blink back the tears of joy. He paused for a moment, letting us absorb the information, and then continued... He explained that we could do an amnio, we did have the choice, but that in his professional opinion he felt it wasn't needed. He even went even further to say that he wasn't being "wishy-washy" about the amnio, but he didn't see a single reason why we should. He also explained that we didn't have to make the decision on the spot. We could also come back in a week if we had changed our minds, but I didn't need to hear that part. I knew my mind was made up. I felt the Spirit confirm that my worst fears were over.

My baby was going to live.

My baby was healthy.

I would hold my sweet Pula in my arms.

I would watch my child grow...

I would have the sweet experience of motherhood here on Earth once more.

As we walked out of the office and down the hall I stopped to look at Tyler. I could barely contain my emotions. With tears in my eyes he held me close and though no words were spoken I could feel his spirit radiating the same joy I felt. We were both blessed. We were blessed to witness a miracle. Some people may disagree... but I would never discount the miracle that occurred that day.

God gave us a baby... and it would live a full, healthy life with our family.

Upon reflection I have realized that even though our roller coaster ride has ended that there are many lessons I have learned in the process. I have come to be TRULY thankful for everything I have. You know that cliche` saying: 'You don't know what you have until it's gone'? Well I'm grateful that God didn't necessarily have to "take something away" from me to realize the importance of it. He gave me what I could handle. He taught me the important lesson of growth.

Isn't growing awful while you're doing it?

Poor Braxton is getting his two year molars, he's practically miserable. I bet if he could talk he'd probably tell me he could make do without those teeth. We all know better. We have teeth.... although we may have forgotten the pain that it was to get them, it helped us to be stronger. It was the beginning of our lessons for our purpose here on Earth: to gain a body (which would feel pain-- but also JOY!), to learn and grow, and to return to our Father in Heaven.

I have realized that this pregnancy I have had a tremendous amount of growth going on. It's easier to see the process looking back now. First I was shown how much stronger I am physically than I thought. I hated those first 4 months of sickness. I could barely function some days. I pleaded many times for God to just let me catch my breath. The phrase "I can't!" eventually turned into "I don't think I can, but apparently you know better, so I'll try." During what seemed to be eternity at the time, I learned that the physical pain of pregnancy symptoms would be more manageable, because I was getting used to the weight of "growth". Next I was taught the real value of my baby.... a growth for me in the emotional department. After weeks of agonizing over the fact that might never have a baby girl God gave me a wake up call. (It was the phone call from my doctor). Last, and perhaps most important, was the growth that took place over this past week... spiritual growth. I learned to truly surrender to God's plan. A control freak of 25 years, I was not the most teachable subject. It was most painful to realize the horrifying outcomes I was being faced with at the time, but I gained perspective (eternally speaking) and also a greater closeness to my Heavenly Father.

Although our story had a happy ending, I KNOW that I am not the same woman that I was a week ago. I have momentarily put all my worldly concerns aside and have seen through my Heavenly Father's eyes. I am so special to my Father in Heaven. He has a very divine plan for me. Perhaps it won't be easy, but it will be worth it if I can endure. My babies are special too... in their lives they will face more difficult things than I have ever imagined. I have to be stronger in order to prepare them to be strongest in a world of chaos.

And now, for perhaps the most wonderful news of all.....

We are having a healthy baby boy.


I never thought I'd be so thrilled, until recently.:)

I know he will be strong.
I'm just glad that I will get to see him in person.

Counting my blessing daily....

Many thanks are expressed to my Heavenly Father, Tyler, family, and friends for the support on this difficult journey of growth.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apparently There are More Important Things to Worry About

Our Halloween this year was not a traditional fun filled, care-free, silly costumes, load your buckets with all kinds of sweets sort of holiday. It started out normal that way though.....

Last year I took our boys trick or treating to some stores (which is common around here) and it's quite nice for the little kids, especially since they do it during the day. Since we had such success last year we decided that this year we would do it again. I had the boys dressed up. They were looking particularly cute in their little costumes. I packed them up in the car, making sure to grab the camera and other Halloween trick or treating essentials (stroller, snacks, an umbrella...) and we headed off.

The weather seemed fairly cooperative when we pulled into the parking lot. We were ready for some candy-filled fun. We started at one end of the businesses and worked our way down. Things we going smoothly enough... Braxton had his hands preoccupied with a grilled cheese sandwich and Quincy was happy enough to repeat 'Trick or Treat' at each store. As we nearing the end of the strip my phone started ringing. I looked at the number and didn't recognize it. Normally I don't answer the phone unless the number looks familiar. Just as I was about to pick it up to answer it stopped ringing. My immediate thought was that it must have been a wrong number. However, just as soon as I set my phone back down on the stroller it started to ring again. I looked at it once more to see the same unfamiliar number calling.

 I answered.

Immediately I heard my doctors voice say "Kati, it's Dr. Lin... how are you doing?" At this point Quincy is still happily trick or treating and I'm slightly distracted. I responded with "Oh, I'm fine. I'm just trick or treating with my boys."

Looking back on the situation I should have picked up on a few cues... 1:) doctors don't usually call just to chat and 2:) that she immediately got to business by asking if I had a minute to 'talk'.

I told her 'sure I have a minute'-- thinking nothing odd about her phone call. I took a minute to pull Quincy to part of the sidewalk so we could sit down and I could better listen. She further explained that my blood work came back and that there were some abnormalities. Again I should have been more concerned at this point, but for some reason I wasn't. I continued listening. She went on to tell me that because of the abnormalities shown in my work that my baby was at a higher risk for something called Trisomy 18. She explained that the effects of this disorder were very severe. She told me that it was very rare to carry any further than 32 weeks, that  if I was fortunate enough to carry that long that most likely the baby would be still born, that even more rare-- if my baby survived it would have very little brain function and be wheelchair bound.

You know the cartoon sound effect where you hear a loud high pitched whistle followed by a thundering booming bomb crash?
That's exactly how I saw the situation.

Here I was going merrily about my Halloween day, with not a care in the world when suddenly there was a huge bomb my doctor was delivering via cell phone. I was clearly in shock and could even remember having the same feeling after my car accident. Although my head was hearing all the awful things that she was saying over the phone my body wasn't registering any of the pain yet. I could feel my weight shift slowly down towards the side walk. She followed up our phone conversation by telling me to go home. Sit down. Think. Take it easy. She also said that she would be referring me to genetic counselor and to expect to hear from them no later than Wednesday.

I remember hanging up the phone, Quincy looking at me expectantly and saying "can we go now mom?" I felt numb. Like I was seeing and hearing the things all around me, but I wasn't really there. I stood up straight, took a deep breath, and told Quincy we could finish. We only had 3 stores left. As we walked I started to descend down into my body again. I slowly began to feel the weight of pain threatening to crush my very being. I recognized that trembling movement in my stomach and realized I was about to loose it. Tears started to well up in my eyes and I quickly blinked them back as best as I could. I didn't want my boys to see me like that. By the grace of God I was able to hold back my emotions for 3 more stores. Just as we finished the last store the clouds turned dark and it started to rain.

It was like the weather was a reflection of my emotions. A once sunny care-free day suddenly looked full of gloom and despair. We hurried quickly back to the car and I manged to get everyone safely buckled inside. I grabbed my phone and sent Tyler a quick text: 'I need to talk to you. We're almost done trick or treating. I have some bad news about baby.' Tyler doesn't always have a chance to check his text messages during work so I was slightly surprised when he responded right back with: 'What?' I couldn't bare to write everything in text and replied: 'Too complicated to text. I'm really upset right now.' Poor Tyler... I probably scared the crap out of him right then. He told me later that his immediate thought was that I had had a miscarriage.

A few minutes later we were headed out of the parking lot when he called me. In hind sight I probably shouldn't have answered my phone... after all, I was driving, it was raining a little, and clearly I was distressed (perhaps a deadly combination for driving). He asked what was wrong and I could barely choke it out between sobs. He calmly tried to listen and decipher what I was saying. I explained about the doctors call... the bad news... and perhaps the worst case scenario. He did what a good husband does: he asked if I was okay, how he could help, and exclaimed how much he loved me.

We eventually made it to the bank to meet Tyler (I had every intention at the beginning of the day to take the boys trick or treating over by Tyler's bank, but after getting the news I couldn't bare the thought of pasting a weak smile to my face). When we walked into the bank all the women in there squealed with delight at my boys' cute costumes. They fussed and complimented and I think I managed a pleasant upturn of my mouth. Tyler told me when I got closer to him that we could go home. It was only 4:00 and I asked him if that was okay. Jill, his boss, had told him to take off early and to also take as many days as he needed before he came back to work. I immediately understood that they had talked about our situation. I was entirely grateful for her generosity and concern. She gave me the kindest smile and whispered "I hope everything works out." I could feel the sincerity in her voice and immediately had to blink back more tears. Later Tyler explained that she and her husband had been through similar circumstances. I can't express how thankful I was for her understanding and support of our tough situation.

The next few hours were sort of a blur. I know that I could barely talk, each time I did sobs worked their way up my throat and tears escaped my eyes until they burned. My thoughts frequently drifted towards our little Pula. **Would we ever see our baby live? Would I have a miscarriage? How could we take care of a child with such extensive needs? Would we even be able to celebrate our child's birthday before we planned a funeral? **

Each new thought tore through my heart and a new wave of pain shot through my body. I felt as if I couldn't bear any more. I tried to push everything out... to think of nothing, but it was useless.

I couldn't ignore the simple facts: the baby in my stomach would live or die. I had no control. Either way the child would be forever engraved on my heart and soul. 

Tyler did a better job of keeping it together than I did when we got home. I went to our bedroom.... made a phone call to my parents, cried a lot more, and eventually pulled myself together to spend a couple of hours with our boys before bedtime. I did some researching that night (not too much, as I had been warned by my mom that the pictures were pretty awful). I learned the simple facts about Trisomy 18-- something of which I knew nothing about until 2 days ago. 

In short there are several kinds of Trisomies, one of the most common is Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). Trisomy 18 (Edward's Syndrome) is when three chromosomes make up the 18th chromosome instead of the regular two (one from each parent). Down syndrome is similar in that there are three chromosomes on the 21st chromosome instead of two. The difference between to the trisomies is that 18 is much more physically severe. Babies diagnosed with Edwards syndrome are usually still born. Their bodies aren't able to develop properly. Those who do live suffer great physical handicaps... babies aren't born with basic brain function to tell them to suck, swallow, breathe. Once born (the >10% ) commonly don't survive past the first week. It is rare that they live to their first birthday. Babies also have distinct physical handicaps clenched fists, rocker bottom feet, strawberry shaped heads... they have many problems with their hearts, which have small holes throughout them-- usually resulting in many surgeries, kidney failure etc.

There are many other facts about Trisomy 18... most of them very disturbing for a parent to be, but I felt empowered by the knowledge of what we were up against. 

The small blessing in disguise: I learned that Trisomy 18 isn't DIAGNOSED by your abnormalities in your blood work alone, you are just shown that your are at higher RISK. After a phone conversation with my nurse I learned that all my other lab work showed my risk for the quad screen were only 1:10,000. The reason why they narrowed my risk specifically to Trisomy 18 was because of a part of the screening for that was 1:100. Much higher than my other results. While 1:100 is much higher than 1:10,000 it's better than 1:10. A risk of 1:100 is also the cut off between what's considered "normal" and "abnormal" in these screens, so I'm at the top end, which is good. The other part about these screenings that is reassuring is that they aren't an exact science. It's like the weatherman who looks at the Doppler 8000 (or whatever weather man machine they use) and predicts the weather based on what information is in front of it. Then he gives a "prediction" of 20% chance of rain and so on. If I'm losing you, what I mean to say is that there is room for error. While I can take only a little comfort in that chance for error I have been taking our situation seriously and preparing myself the best that I can.

While talking to Tyler I remembered something that had crossed my mind early in Monday morning before my doctor called.  For no particular reason I had this 'thought' pop into my head.

I was cleaning the house and suddenly thought about a lesson from a few Sunday's back from a particular sister in our ward. She explained during her lesson that her husband and her had struggled with infertility for years. They wanted children so badly. At the time she was trying to find a job teaching, as that's what she got her degree in, but could only find work with special needs classes. A short while later they found she was expecting a baby. Little did she know at the time that her son would have Down Syndrome. She explained that it was easy to see God's plan for her life later. He was preparing her for a special one of his spirits with very special needs. 

What I was able to take away from her experience and what thought occurred to me early that Halloween morning was that 'God prepares us for the things we are going to go through'. The preparation can be subtle and often hard to see during the process, but looking back it is always there. Although we may not be able to see God's plan for us (or even our unborn children) we can have faith in His guidance through the journey. 

Monday night I spent plenty of time speaking with God. I told Him how scared I was, how grateful I was that He's allowed me raise some of His children here on Earth, how grateful I am for two healthy strong willed boys, how thankful I am to have a loving priesthood holding husband by my side, how fortunate I feel to have family-friends-and members of the church rally around us at this difficult time. Ultimately I asked God to send me a little comfort... so that I could stand tall as we waited for the next step. I told Him I knew He couldn't tell or show me everything, but that I could settle for a little physical rest. By the end of my prayer  my pillow was thoroughly soaked from tears, but I felt the presence and love of my Heavenly Father.

It was enough to get me through one more night. 

Tuesday Tyler stayed home with us. What another blessing that was. I wasn't able to sleep the whole night (it's pretty rare that I sleep an 8 hour stretch- especially when I'm peeing frequently due to pregnancy), but I did sleep for 4 straight hours. I felt blessed. The Lord gave me just what I needed--- rest--- physical and emotional rest. It was enough. I was happy for that. Tuesday (Day 2) proved to be a little better. I was like someone exhibiting the symptoms of trauma on Monday.... first shock, then panic, then emotional and physical pain, then numbness. Tuesday I felt something different I felt the first sliver of hope. It was small and perhaps to someone so wrapped up in all the other dealings might have gone unnoticed, but it was there.


I have experienced many phone calls, text messages, emails, and personal conversations expressing concern and love for our family. God has comforted me through all of you. Your kind words, your prayers, your love... all have given me a little more strength. Strength that wasn't there on Monday.

Day 2 also brought us a little more 'good' news. I was finally able to set an appointment with the Genetic Counselor and we willn get an ultrasound done. While this ultrasound will be different than the one we were so anxious to have next week it will give us some good indicators...We will have a better idea of whether we should be celebrating or preparing for difficult future needs. Thursday is our big day... we go in.

We listen.

We wait.

I don't want this to be all doom and gloom because in the time I have spent personally pondering the seriousness of our situation I have come to realize that God has a sense of humor. In some not so subtle ways He has wiped away all my previous concerns. I was worried about a horrible third Cesarean-- no problem now, now I would give anything to carry FULL TERM. I was worried about this being my last pregnancy and coming to terms with 'not being able to have MORE children' -- no problem now, I'm just grateful I already HAVE children. I was worried about having another boy (a selfish concern, I know, but it is hard to imagine not having a little daughter of my own to do those special girly things with)-- problem solved... I would give anything to just hold a baby in my arms. Boy. Girl. It doesn't matter. I was worried about gaining lots of weight and looking 'fat'-- heck now I don't even care if I look like the goodyear  blimp, just as long as I get to see my sweet Pula.

In one day God kinda chuckled and said, "You want to worry about stuff? Here. Let me show you things to REALLY worry about."

 And it's true.

 I get it now.

I see the errors of my ways and have asked for forgiveness.

I have come to be extremely grateful for everything I HAVE and not too worrisome about all the things I WANTED. God is giving me another chance to increase my faith in Him. I guess I'm stubborn and need to be taught the importance of relying on HIM. Okay. Point taken. I'll do better. In fact, that's exactly what I'm doing right now... putting ALL my faith and trust in Him that His plan is perfect (which of course I know it is), but that it might not be an easy one.

I am blessed.

 I am loved.

I am grateful.

I believe.

I hope.

I live.

Although it is difficult to be 'entirely happy and carefree' at this moment, I am at peace. We will keep you posted on our what happens with our doctor appointment tomorrow.

(And I promise to post some cute pictures of the boys trick or treating--- before it got all crazy--- next time.)

Thanks for the love, prayers, and well wishes.
They are felt.