Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The day before Harper Kate arrived...

  It all started as a routine doctor appointment.  Thursday morning, I headed up to the North side of town to visit both of my doctors.  I had plans to go to Trader Joes as normal, maybe shop around Lenox and then head back home.  First stop was the maternal fetal medicine doctor for an ultrasound checkup.  Each week they would do an ultrasound and get a "score" for how Harper Kate was doing in the womb.  This week, as I went back there I had a tech I hadn't had before.  She was older and seemed to know what she was doing.  She was extremely thorough and I remember her looking at Harper Kate's lungs multiple times.  Then, she mentioned she didn't see her lungs "moving."  Apparently babies don't really "breathe" in the womb, but seeing their lungs moving means that everything is going fine inside.  She mentioned that she would continue watching and that it was probably just taking a few minutes.  I think I sat there FOREVER!  It certainly felt like it.  Eventually the tech went and got the doctor since they didn't see HK's lungs moving.  At this point, the only thing I'm worried about at this point is that I'm going to miss my OB appointment.  haha..If you know me, this does not surprise you. :)  The doctor was very calm & didn't make it seem like an emergency.  I waited in this small room for about 30 minutes before the doctor told me that they would put me back in this room and continue to monitor HK's heart rate & I was to push a button each time I felt her kick or move.  So, I sat there for about 45 minutes.  At this point, I have alerted my mom, mother-in-law & Jarod that I am still in the doctor's office.  I talked to my dad (an OBGYN) & he felt like there wasn't much to worry about.  So, after talking to him I felt better and just figured I'd have to keep waiting, then they would let me go home.
  Now, a pause in the story.  My personality is such that I am quite OCD.  I always have things done long before they are due, I keep things organized and have a plan for most everything.  This pregnancy did not follow with my personality AT ALL!  Normally, Harper Kate's nursery would have been ready months ago, but with everything happening with her, some days it was difficult to get things ready.  I guess getting things ready made it certain that she was coming, and now thinking back, I think I always had a fear something would happen and she wouldn't be ok.  So, maybe putting off getting the nursery ready, packing for the hospital was a protective thing for me.  I tell you all of this to lead you into the next part of the story.
  My in-laws were all ready to come for the weekend.  We were going to paint the nursery and finish all the details.  Hanging pictures, putting up the monitor etc.  They were coming on Friday afternoon and would stay until Saturday.  As I talked to my mother-in-law on the phone she wondered if they should get ready to come earlier.  I said, NO!  I'm sure I'll be going home in just a little bit & I would see her tomorrow afternoon.  Little did we both know I would see her the next day, but not at home.
  After sitting in the room being monitored for 45 minutes, the doctor still did not feel like things were ok.  She wanted me to go to the hospital to be monitored.  EXCUSE ME?  I am by myself up on this side of town, Jarod is at lunch with his co-workers to which he did not drive himself, and my family is 2 1/2 hours away.  On top of that I wasn't allowed to drive myself to the hospital.  The office is connected to the hospital the doctor said.  She wanted me to walk to the hospital and check myself in.  She wanted to make sure I went straight there.  Oh my word...are you kidding?  Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant walking myself through the tunnel that connects to the hospital.  The hospital that I was supposed to take a tour of on Sunday!  This was Thursday...this is so backwards I tell myself. 
  I walk to the hospital, get all checked in, get hooked up to the monitor, call Jarod and tell him just to come up to the hospital whenever he can.  Not an emergency.  I lay there, watching TV, talking to my mom, mother-in-law, whomever I could get on the phone.  My dad still felt as though they would let me go after the night.  I continued telling everyone not to panic, that I would call them when I knew something.  My mother-in-law went ahead and got them all packed just in case & my mom was on standby ready to come if I called.  Jarod called after he got done with lunch & back to the office (I had texted back and forth through the lunch).  He told his boss what was going on and headed out.  EXCEPT...remember me saying I hadn't packed for the hospital?  :)  Oops...Jarod had to go home and pack us for the hospital.  Luckily, my mom and sister Carrie had come a couple weeks earlier and helped me pack Harper Kate's bag, so she was ready.  I had set out a couple of outfits for the hospital, but that was it.  Poor Jarod.  He was at home, trying his best to hurry and pack me & him for our overnight stay.  At this point, I had a thought I might not go home the next day so he packed for a little longer just in case.  Then, he drove the 45 minutes back to the north side of town to be with me. 
  The doctor came in the room later in the afternoon and said they would continue to monitor me and if Harper Kate's lungs did not start moving they would probably go ahead and do a c-section the next day.  We had already scheduled a c-section for her to be born a couple weeks later.  Her head measurement was large and a c-section was the safest route for her to be born.  I didn't have a strong feeling about that.  It was completely fine with me.  I wanted what was the best for Harper Kate, so I defered to the doctors on that one. 
  Jarod & I watched the Alabama basketball game on TV, ate Chick-fil-A and went to bed, still pretty confident we would head home the next day.  Our parents were on alert and ready to come at the minute we called.  My dad had surgeries scheduled for the next day and a few patients to see.  He didn't cancel those b/c he was pretty confident everything would be fine too.
  Little did we know we would meet our precious miracle the very next day...

Friday, August 26, 2011

A HK Update...

I know MANY of you are wondering what is going on with Harper Kate today!  I thought I'd pause in the story and give a quick update.  Harper Kate has physical therapy, occupational therapy & feeding therapy each, once a week, for an hour.  She has made great progress especially with her eyes.  Her eyes, when she was born, had hardly any control over them.  They would wander back and forth, not able to focus on anything.  Now, she is able to focus for a few seconds on some objects, and is beginning to track & reach for things.  I am SO PROUD of her!   
  She is working on her neck strength.  She isn't able to hold it up yet, but it is getting much stronger every day!  I never knew I wanted to be a nurse, physical therapist and occupational therapist.  hahaha....
  Harper Kate is also working on learning how to eat.  Her feeding therapist sees great potential in her & thinks she will have the "skill" to eat by January & then we'll just have to up her amount to where she is finally gaining weight.  Yes, all of this is a LONG process, but as long as I see progress, it makes the slow days well worth it.  
  On a sadder note, the little peanut has terrible reflux.  Since her neck strength is not extremely strong, she sometimes has a hard time getting all of the spit up out of her mouth, and can sometimes choke on it. We are consulting with a surgeon next Wednesday to get a fundiplication surgery done, along with getting a g-tube put in her stomach so we can get rid of the nasal feeding tube.  The fundiplication is where the doctors tighten her esophogus, I think, to where she can swallow, but the reflux cannot come up.  Hopefully it will make HK's life (and mine) MUCH easier & happier. Can you imagine swallowing acid reflux multiple times a day to only have it come back up eventually?  Poor little baby girl. 
  Anyway, that's pretty much the update right now.  I'll be sure to let you all know when we finally get the surgery scheduled.  Like I said, consult is next Wednesday, Aug. 31.  I appreciate & covet your prayers.  To have your 6 month old baby put to sleep for a major surgery is a bit nerve racking for a momma & daddy who already had to leave her in the NICU for a month to be poked & prodded.  Hopefully we'll be able to stay in the room with her this time. 
  I'll be in touch...Thanks for the love & prayers.  Your care, love & concern for our little girl means the world to us.  We wouldn't be able to make it without friends & family.  
Much Love,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2 LONG months....

Living in Atlanta, not working for a couple of months, was a bit difficult for me.  I must say I got a little bored After organizing our new apartment, and working on Harper Kate's room, there was only so much else I could do.  I skyped with my class, that I missed so much, prayed for my daughter's healing, met some new friends and went to what felt like millions of doctor appointments. My doctors office was about 45 minutes away from our apartment.  I chose to deliver Harper Kate at Northside Hospital since it was one of the best in the country for OB services and their NICU was a level 3 and Harper Kate would not have to be transferred anywhere had she needed any surgery etc, but it was a long way from our home.  I had to go every week to the OB doctor for a check & to the maternal fetal medicine doctor for an ultrasound.  I enjoyed those days since it got me out of the apartment.  I would spend most of the day up in Buckhead, going to Trader Joes & Lenox Mall shopping around.  It sure gave me something to do while Jarod was at work.  My mother-in-law came with me to one doctor appointment and that was wonderful.  It was great to have someone to accompany me.
  I said I met some new friends.  Well, I can honestly say God strategically put these women in my life directly for me.  My mom had a mutual friend that knew "Martha" here in Peachtree City.  Martha is a leader for a Mom to Mom Bible Study group of young moms.  Martha knew about Harper Kate's condition from my mom's mutual friend, and knew I was moving here without knowing many people.  I had lunch with her when I got here & she told me that her small group of girls that she leads had officially "adopted" me into their group.  They all wanted to meet me, have lunch and then shocked me with telling me they would like to provide dinner for Jarod & me once Harper Kate got here.  WHAT?  I've never met any of these wonderful girls & they all want to bring us dinner, take care of us & let me be part of their group.  A few of them had a play group before HK got here, so I went and met a few of them.  A couple of them had gifts for HK when I got there and they were the kindest women I've met in so long.  They made me feel incredibly welcome, comfortable and showed me what God's love looks like.  I'll mention this group many more times through this blog, but let me say this.  These women were the true hands and feet of Jesus to Jarod & me.  They are selfless, loving, and a picture of what God calls the church to look like.  I am forever grateful to each of you!
  I know many of you are wondering what Harper Kate is like today!!!  I'll give an update on Friday letting you know how she is doing before moving into her "birth" story and month in the NICU.  That experience is a few posts in and of itself. :)  I promise you...I'll catch up eventually.  I don't want to forget any of the blessings of this amazing journey with my angel girl.  I'll leave you with a few recent pictures of that little doll.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New York, New York!!!

When Jarod got the job with Delta, we decided we would take a trip to New York City for our "baby-moon."  I had been when I was 12 with my grandparents at Christmas time, and really wanted Jarod to be able to experience New York during the holidays.
  I drove from Nashville to Atlanta on a Friday morning, dropped my things at our apartment and headed to Jarod's office so we could head to the airport.  We left Friday afternoon, got to the city, caught a bus to our hotel and began walking around.  We found a nice restaurant in Times Square and finally sat down to dinner around 11:30.  11:30 isn't very late to eat dinner in the city that never sleeps. :)  After that,we headed back to the hotel for a little sleep.
  The next day we woke up and headed out to tour the city.  First, we found this great little bakery around the corner from our hotel.  We indulged ourselves in yummy pastries and coffee then we walked to Rockefeller Center to look at the huge Christmas tree, and the ice skating.  Then we headed toward 5th avenue for some shopping.  We spent the most time in FAO Schwartz purchasing gifts for our precious nephews and brother-in-law.  Of course, Harper Kate got an elephant from FAO Schwartz that stays in her crib with her.  We checked out the massive Apple Store, H&M, and some other fun stores.  We had lunch in Central Park and took a rest.  Then, we headed down to Times Square to grab some tickets for a Broadway show that evening.  We got some tickets for Promises, Promises and continued to tour around.  We walked down to the Macy's store to check out the windows all decorated for Christmas.  They are so neat!  All the displays tell a story.  This year it was Charlie Brown and the windows truly are a masterpiece.  We then grabbed a quick dinner and headed to the show.  After the show, I wanted to take Jarod to Serendipity for dessert.  We walked all the way down there, but when we arrived, we realized the wait was about 2 hours.  We knew we had to get up about 4:00 a.m., to head to the airport, so we chose to not wait until 1:00 am for dessert. :) haha...
  Sunday morning came all too quickly...We woke up early and headed to the airport.  Since we fly stand-by, the later flights were all full, so we took the early morning flight home to Atlanta.
  It was a quick trip, but we had a blast.  I loved spending one last trip with Jarod as our lives were about to change. :)  It was great to see New York, not as a child, but experience it as an adult.  Here are some pictures from our final trip as a family of 2. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wrapping Up My Nashville Days...

At the beginning of December, I went to both of my doctors for one last check up in Nashville.  The maternal fetal medicine doctor continued feeling great about Harper Kate's prognosis.  Yes, she had Dandy-Walker Malformation and Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum, but at that point the doctor felt like Harper Kate would be developmentally delayed, but would have the potential to catch up later.  The OB was feeling great about things, but we were already preparing for a scheduled c-section since Harper Kate's head measurement was large.  All notes were sent to my doctors in Atlanta and the transition was quite easy.  Keep in mind this was my third set of doctors for this pregnancy.  Since my dad is an OB in Birmingham, remember, I had gone to his office originally for ultrasounds, then to UAB.  Then, I saw my regular doctors in Nashville and now I am moving to Atlanta.  Oh, my poor chart I'm sure was 100 pages long!
  A few nights I was able to go to dinner at some favorite Nashville restaurants saying goodbye to sweet friends.  Everyone was so glad I would be able to be with Jarod, but deep down all of us were wishing I was staying there and that Jarod could be there too. :) 
  I shared a meal at Urban Flats with some great "sig-o" friends we met during Vanderbilt days.  YUM.   I also joined Jennifer and Shannyn (2 great friends from school) for dinner at Maggiano's.  While I hated leaving Nashville, I was counting down the days to starting our new life in Atlanta waiting on our little girl to arrive. 


Monday, August 15, 2011

My First Baby Shower!!!

My amazing friends and team of teachers at school hosted a baby shower for me in November.  It most certainly gave me something to look forward to in those weeks while waiting to head to Atlanta.  It was so perfect!  They decided to have a "come and go" shower.  They put the food and drinks in the teachers workroom and had an area for people to place the gifts.  I stayed in there during my planning periods so people could stop by and visit, but let's be honest...for teachers, food & drinks in the teachers workroom will draw them in every time!  hahahaha.....
  The teachers got to school VERY early to decorate the lounge perfectly for me.  The food was wonderful.  They took the time to think through what food & drink I like and had them all there. The shower was a diaper and gift card shower.  Each grade was assigned a different size of diapers and administration was given gift cards.  Let me just say...that was the greatest thing ever.  At 6 months of age, I still have not bought one diaper and the gift cards were so generous, I was able to purchase our video baby monitor (which I have really needed with Harper Kate) and many other necessities along the way! 
  To all my St. Paul friends in Nashville....THANK YOU!!!!!  I miss you more than you will ever know.
 The main table in the workroom with all of the food, drinks on it.  The 6th grade girls colored the letters and they are saved and ready to hang when I have a bigger nursery to hang things.  They are so special!

I apologize for the terrible glare.  This is looking the other direction at the other end of the table. 

 What a cute centerpiece! 

This was my reaction when I first walked in and saw the decorations.  What a fun surprise on a Thursday  morning!

 This was so special.  Every teacher wrote a card of encouragement or advice and put them in the photo album.  They are all still in the album on the bookshelves in Harper Kate's room.  I read through them periodically!  I miss you all so much.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Doctor Appointments...

After Jarod moved to Atlanta, I started getting used to life in Nashville for the next couple of months.  I was surrounded by wonderful friends, family & a church that I loved!  These months mainly consisted of school,  doctor appointments and thankfully seeing Jarod on the weekends.
  Before Jarod left Nashville, we had an appointment with our maternal fetal medicine specialist that had a background in genetics.  She did an extremely detailed ultrasound checking for all sorts of abnormalities.  Her conclusion (at that time) was that Harper Kate didn't have any genetic problems that we knew of and she felt like Harper Kate would not have any major problems with her organs when she grew which was good news.  She wanted us to have a fetal MRI done and an echocardiogram to check for heart problems.
  Both of those appointments were scheduled after Jarod had moved.  Luckily, my mom was able to come up for the echocardiogram.  That could have been the longest ultrasound EVER! You see, for a fetal echo, the baby has to be in a very specific position for them to be able to see the heart.  Harper Kate, this day, decided NOT to stay in that position long enough. :)  My mom was very very patient as I sat on the ultrasound table for 2 hours trying to finish the echo, only to have to take 30 minutes off, walk around the office, hop around gently, trying to get Harper Kate to move.  FINALLY after 3 hours, we were able to get the echocardiogram done finding that her heart was completely normal.  Praise the Lord.
  I mentioned in the beginning that I was surrounded by wonderful family & friends.  My "mom" in Nashville so to speak was Julie.  She is the admissions director of the school where I teach, but over those two months she was absolutely amazing!  She would come to my room almost daily just to check in on me to see if I was ok, she took me to get a pedicure, she coordinated meals for Jarod & I when we first found out about Harper Kate, and she took me to get my MRI.
   Julie picked me up early one morning to head to Children's Hospital for the fetal MRI.  It took about an hour and while we were there Julie sat in a rocking chair reading, but for the most part she was praying over Harper Kate & me.  She gave up a day at school, to help me go to the doctor, sit in a hospital for an hour, drive me home, and help me get in the bed. (see, I had taken a calming medicine so I wouldn't panic.) :)  The results came a couple of days later.  It confirmed that Harper Kate has a Dandy-Walker cyst in her cerebellum, but also showed that she has something called agenesis of the corpus collosum.  I described this on this post.
  That diagnosis set me back a little.  I heard the news the day I was flying to go meet Jarod in Atlanta.  This was my first time flying stand by alone through Delta.  As I walked through the parking lot, leaving school after just hearing the news from the MRI I burst into tears.  Once again, we had yet another set-back.  Being alone, getting the news was not the best.  Julie took me to the airport, dropped me off and I headed down the terminal, only to find out later I wouldn't make the flight.  Jarod was in Atlanta, I was stuck at the airport in Nashville & was sobbing over our diagnosis earlier.  I'm sure I looked like a complete idiot.  My AMAZING friend Emily came to rescue me at the airport, took me back to school, got my car & drove to Birmingham.  Jarod left Atlanta and met me there.  It was a relief to see Jarod when I finally made it there.
  Being away from Jarod was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but the support I had in Nashville was something only God could have placed there for me during one of the hardest time in my life. 
  Here's Julie with our precious angel at about two months old.  WE LOVE YOU Julie!!!