Welcome to our family blog!

This blog was started in October 2010 shortly before our daughter, Abigail Grace, was born. She was diagnosed at our 18 week ultrasound with Holoprosencephaly (HPE), and we were preparing for a child with very complex medical needs and a shortened life expectancy. Abby was born on November 12th and sadly passed away just four days later. This blog follows me, Matt and Abby’s big brother, Connor, along our journey from preparing for Abby’s birth through our adjustment to life without her.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Aftermath of Infant loss: Getting back in the saddle

This post is kind of long, so feel free to take a break while reading, get a drink and come on back to finishJ  

Abby's first ornament, given to her before she was born.
Even then I guess we knew she was meant to be an angel.

Blogger paralysis
I haven’t posted to the blog in over a week, and it’s not for lack of things to say, just lack of ability to sit down and articulate my thoughts.  This past week we celebrated Abby’s one month birthday, and today is her one month Angel Day, or anniversary of her passing.  My heart has been very heavy at times, but also joyful for events like our friends’ wedding and Connor’s excitement over the holidays (and Star Wars, and football, and all kinds of other things) that shines a light for us everyday.  While much of my thoughts are just for me at the moment, there are many things I’ve wanted to share with those of you interested and kind enough to follow along our journey.
Connor working on his gingerbread man, shining his light

One thing I’ve been thinking about is the focus of this blog, and how its original purpose no longer exists.  I expected not to share my feelings and impressions of this version of our life, but to share information about our baby’s condition and hopefully network with other parents to help improve Abby’s care and quality of life.  Now that she isn’t here, I question the purpose; do I have anything worth sharing?  I’ve thought long and hard about it this week, and decided that there is a place here for a voice on infant loss.  While by no means a clinical expert, I can speak from our family’s first hand experience.  What we are going through is a part of the human experience no one wants to share in, yet many have walked in these shoes before us and many still will follow.  I do appreciate those who have reached out to us who have had similar experiences.  Even if we haven't talked yet, knowing that you've offered is appreciated.

I posted these two pictures below because looking at them makes me so happy. They also make me cry sometimes, but only because I remember being so happy when they were taken.  In the one with me, I was holding Abby so close; I had leaned in to smell her head and kissed her.  The photographer caught it in low light and it's one of my absolute favorites.  In the one with Matt, Abby's body is so soft and pink, and he is looking at her so lovingly.  I want to smoosh my lips into her soft little arm and cheek.  Seeing these pictures really warms my heart.
                       One of my favorites of Matt & Abby

One of my favorites of me and my Angel


Back to Work
Matt and I are both getting back into the swing of things at work.  He is back in just about full time and I am slowly integrating back into my office.  My job affords significantly more flexibility in this regard; considering that I was expected to be out on maternity leave anyway, having me in the office at all is like a bonus.  Well, if you consider someone who doesn’t really fit into her business attire and stares blankly at the wall from time to time and occasionally bursts into tears a bonus J  Needless to say, we’re both making our way back into the real world, each at our own pace.  Some have questioned me being in the office this early after surgery, birth, and Abby’s passing, but it’s honestly a good distraction if in small doses.

“You’re back- you’ve had the baby!”
Integrating back into the real world, of course, means answering questions from those who knew we were pregnant.  If the comment comes from someone I don’t have to deal with often and is simply, “Oh, congratulations, you had the baby!” I just politely say “yes, I did, thank you”.  It’s the follow up questions “How is she?  Connor must love being a big brother, etc.” that are uncomfortable.  I felt so bad for the mother of one of Connor’s classmates when she asked.  I could tell she just felt so awful.  Matt has to deal with it far more often than I do, as he deals with the public at a much higher volume.  I know the days can be very difficult for him because of this.  I’ve yet to figure out a really graceful way of telling people that Abby died.  They are so devastated and embarrassed when I tell them, and then I find myself consoling them, as they repeatedly apologize for the gaffe.  I’m pretty good at not getting physically upset when this happens, but I know it will eventually get the better of me when I least want it to.  I almost wish I could wear a t-shirt that says“Yes, we had the baby, but sadly Abby passed away.  Thank you for your condolences”.   Do they make those? A hat maybe?

Trying to celebrate
As I mentioned, we did attend our friends’ wedding last weekend.  It was a beautiful event and the bride and groom were beaming the whole time.  I love when the couple looks REALLY happy through the ceremony and everything.  This couple did.  Most of the people there knew our situation, so there weren’t any awkward questions.  Matt and I enjoyed seeing our friends, and we successfully made it through dinner and the cutting of the cake.  I think by then it had just been a really long day and I was too tired to do the “in public” thing any longer.  I headed home to my bed and Matt, who was part of the bridal party, stayed with his friends for the rest of the night.  I really hope he had fun, because he deserved to. 

Getting through Christmas should be interesting…a long weekend of celebrating, when we're really not in the mood to celebrate.  When people ask us what we want or need this year it almost seems silly.  Um, I want to have my heart unbroken and see my baby sleeping in her crib.  Can you help with that?  No, no one can.  I appreciate that people want to be generous to us, but the last thing on our minds is gifts.  I wish it was more like Thanksgiving, where the focus is just to visit with family.  I think we'll just have to once again remind ourselves of all we have to be grateful for and focus on that. 

At our friends' wedding

The happy Bride & Groom :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fat-free dressing

This week I discovered that Macy’s has an entire department dedicated to “Shapewear”.  This includes items with taglines like “fat-free dressing” and “body behave”.  One tag said “Your clothes shouldn’t require 45 minutes of cardio to wear”.  It was really quite amazing to go through; tubes, tanks, slips.  This is some very serious spandex we’re talking about- “Spanx” is just the beginning.  There is a piece to go under just about any cut dress you can find.

I also discovered that I clearly have no concept of the size and shape of my body.  If you’ve never had a baby before, let me enlighten you- there is a very specific post-partum body that new mommies have.  We’ll just call it a bit curvier with a pudgy lower abdomen.

Now, I’ve had this “mommy body” once before, so why am I only being enlightened to this booming shapewear industry now?  Because last time I had another “accessory” to distract from the curves.  It’s what most women get with their mommy body, it’s their baby.  No one cares what you look like when you’re holding or pushing around that bundle of joy.  Your hair doesn’t need to be done, you can go out makeup free; your clothes don’t have to fit properly.  All you need to look like a million bucks is that gorgeous baby and the smile he or she puts on your face. 

Why do I even care how I look right now?  Matt and I have a wedding to attend this weekend.  Yes, four weeks and one day after giving birth to Abby, and exactly three weeks to the day after laying her to rest, Matt and I will be at a wedding for very close friends of ours.  Matt is actually in the wedding, and I will encase myself in military grade spandex under my dress to look half way decent next to him.  I am praying for the strength to make it through this event and be joyful for our friends who are celebrating such a wonderful time in their lives.  We’re glad to be with our friends; we would never want to miss celebrating such an important event.  But it will be the first time I’m really going out in public beyond dropping Connor at school or shopping with my mother.  Much like Arthur’s mom, I’m just hoping no one pulls the trigger. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding Comfort

A few days ago I posted on Facebook that "it melts my heart to see Connor take one of Abby's blankets to bed with him".  As I expected, everyone thought it was about as sweet as I did.  I should mention the reason he had that particular blanket.  About two hours prior to bed, Connor informed me that he was very angry and going to break all of Abby's things; I thought that blanket seemed the most durable of those she'd received.  So, I let him thrash it around the room a few times until that got boring to him and he left it on the floor. That night before going into his room, he walked into Abby's, picked up the blanket, gave me a look, and said "I'm keeping this" as he climbed into his bed.

This is pretty representative of the struggle we're having these days.  We haven't started any formal sibling grief program, but it's next on the list of things to do.  Over all Connor is doing well; he's done fine in school and kept to a regular schedule.  He recognizes that he's upset and uses words like "sad" and "frustrated" to express himself, and we're all sad and frustrated, so he fits in quite well.  Like another HoPE family mentioned, it's not unusual to hold onto the material things that connect us to our children.  Right after we came home I held onto the outfit Abby wore in the hospital for a few days, just until it didn't smell like her anymore.  I probably looked silly, but sleeping with it was comforting.  This seems to bring some bit of comfort to Connor.  And seeing Connor cuddling with one of Abby's blankets bring a bit of comfort to me too.

Connor, sleeping with Abby's blanket from Threads of Love

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Met with Genetics today

Today we have a new abbreviation, CONS.  It is short for Cerebro-Oculo-Nasal Syndrome.  This disorder has some manifestations suggestive of the Holoprosencephalic spectrum.  It is characterized by central nervous system anomalies, and includes HPE in some instances.

What does this mean?  It means that Abby actually had another, apparently more rare neurological disorder, which has many of the same characteristics as Holoprosencephaly, however it is different.  Two of the major physical clues to this were the shape of Abby’s head and the wide placement of her eye sockets, and absent eyes. 

Go figure- we found an even MORE rare condition, with even less research available than HPE.  I have so far been unable to find any evidence of any prenatal diagnosis of this disorder, and most of the research appears to come out of Brazil.

This may seem weird, but I’m sad that Abby didn’t have HPE as we thought.  Or, maybe she did have HPE along with the CONS?  Honestly, I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter since she’s no longer with us. However, I’m glad that her prenatal diagnosis was HPE and not something else. I would never have found Families for HoPE, and would never have been prepared for her arrival.  Regardless of the specifics of her condition, she was a child who had a neurological condition.  The condition manifested itself in many physical abnormalities that we had to prepare for, and there was a great likelihood that her time on Earth would be short.  It would have been a horribly lonely and HoPEless 5 months from the time she was diagnosed until now if we didn’t have the HoPE community.  Thank you for including us, as we so clearly needed you J

The good news is, as we thought, nothing was found that suggests that Matt or I are carriers of the few genes that would make this a reoccurrence in future pregnancies.  As Dr. Abuelo put it, “Abby’s condition was like being struck by lightening”.  So, we can try to get pregnant again when we’re ready, and Connor doesn’t have to worry about passing anything along to our future grandchildren. 

I thought I’d feel happier after getting this news; perhaps thought I would find some closure and comfort in the genetic testing and “go ahead” for future children.  But I really don’t.  No matter how much information you have, or how great you find out your own genes are, losing your child still f’ing sucks. Sorry, I know that isn't terribly inspirational, but it's true.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Story I Identify with

This past Sunday was the first Sunday of the Advent, and the first candle represents hope.  Our Pastor said "Hope is like light in the darkness." Each time I hear or see that word somewhere I feel like Abby is reminding me she's still with me.

I have a lot on my mind right now, but it all seems to be stuck in my stomach at the moment.  I always seem to have something to say, but right now anything worthwhile seems to get choked back.  Instead, I'd like to share a very well written Perspectives series on the HoPE blog, written by a mom who lost her son a few years ago.  She had a bit longer with her Arthur than we had our Abby, though far less time to prepare for his arrival.  Links to the first two entries are listed below. 

The Thirteen Days of Arthur

We got by with a little help from our friends

If by any chance anyone from Women & Infants reads this, I'd really REALLY like to thank Dr. Bender and NICU nurses Patty and Nancy who came to Abby's service.  That was unexpected, and it meant to much to us that you cared enough to see Abby all the way through.  We couldn't say enough about the doctors and nurses who cared for Abby; they were truly wonderful. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remembering to be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and it is also Matt’s birthday.  As you may expect, we are in no mood to celebrate anything, but we’ll go to dinner for Connor.  He deserves to have the normalcy of Thanksgiving dinner with family.

Despite the fact that we’re sad in ways that our language is insufficient to describe, there are always reasons to be thankful.  I’m putting some in writing to remind myself should I forget.

I’m thankful for…

  • Our family who has shown us immeasurable support through all this.  I don’t know what I would do if my mother didn’t come over each day to make sure Matt and I are still functioning and taking care of Connor.  
  • Our friends who have shown support but respectfully given us space to grieve. 
  • Our Church community for making impossibly painful arrangements as easy as possible, and for sending over endless dinners along with their prayers.
  • The Families for HoPE organization and the entire HoPE community of parents, children, and angels.  As another mother mentioned on the HoPE blog, they really helped us prepare for Abby’s arrival.  
  • The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization and Alex Terry, the photographer they sent to the hospital to take our beautiful family photos before Abby passed away.  I was nervous about having a photographer come, but Matt and I are so, so grateful for the beautiful photos she took.  What a gift to give a family going through this.
One of the many beautiful messages we’ve received said I reminded her that motherhood is an honor and a privilege, which we sometimes take for granted. How true that is!  I am most thankful for my husband and son.  Instead of pulling and pushing against each other in our attempt to get by through our sadness, we’re taking turns being strong so we can lean on and hold each other to get through it. 

Coincidentally, November 25th is also National Holoprosencephaly Awareness Day.  One year ago I had no awareness of this condition whatsoever.  I sincerely thank those family and friends who made a donation to the Families for HoPE in Abby’s name.  Families receiving an HPE diagnosis need this organization for resources and support.

We HoPE your family has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Few Good Men...Abby's Funeral Day

Matt surprised me two nights ago when he told me he wanted to read the eulogy at Abby’s funeral mass.  Parents just don’t do that; but he really wanted to.  He told me that I took care of her for 9 months and most of her 4 days of life; he wanted to do this as his gift to her.  Matt said, “If you write it, I’ll read it”.  So, together we sat down and talked about what our girl meant to us and to our family.

My Connor is just four years old.  He’s spent the past two days preparing for “Abby’s special Mass”.  When we explained about the casket and the procession, he insisted that he would help his uncles carry the casket in.  “I have to because I’m the big brother.  I have to carry my baby down the aisle.” 

Seriously, I thought to myself, what are these guys trying to do to me?  As it turns out, they both rose to the occasion like you could only imagine.  My husband, who is the life of the party but not what you would call a great public speaker, gave the most beautiful, touching eulogy for our angel.  My son, who sometimes hides behind me going up for Communion, proudly held the handle of his sister’s casket and walked her down the aisle.  He looked like such a handsome little man.  These two guys made me so proud today- thank you Abby, for bringing out the best in your dad and big brother.  Their love for you really shone through today.

I wish I had a picture of Connor “doing his job” as he put it, but I don’t.  Below is the Eulogy Matt gave today.

Prayer is powerful.  We often pray to God when we’re asking Him for something, begging Him in our most desperate hours.  Hopefully we remember to pray to God to thank Him when we are joyful too.  We have spent the past several months torn between desperate and thankful conversation with God. 

Our Abby was with us for just four and a half days, but we’ve been learning from her since she was conceived.  Many parents of children with special needs say that they learn far more from their children than they ever teach them.  We agree.  In fact, we never had the opportunity to teach our precious girl anything, but she has helped us grow and learn in ways we never expected.

Abby, you brought your mother and father closer together as a couple and taught us how to love so much better than we ever could before.  You’ve reminded us that our family is the most important thing in the whole wide world, and that you and Connor are the most precious and amazing gifts God could ever have entrusted to us.  As we grieve for you we also thank God for you, every minute, of everyday. 

No big brother could have been more proud or more excited than Connor.  He loved you from the minute he discovered we were pregnant with you, correcting anyone who asked him about becoming a big brother, “Oh no, I ALREADY AM a big brother!”  He reminds us everyday that he IS your big brother, even though you’ve gone to Heaven.  And he’s right.  You were ours long before you were born and you will always be our baby girl.

We’re so grateful for the short time we had with you.  Each minute we spent with you was a blessing, for which we are so thankful.  We cherished your every single breath and we can still feel your soft skin against us as we held you in your final hours.  Not one second of your life was wasted or taken for granted.  Thank you for letting us love you and for leaving your imprint on our hearts and souls.  We will spend the rest of our days loving you and honoring you.

Abby, with the exception of having to leave you at the cemetery, I pretty much held it together today.  I didn’t want to upset your brother.  But my heart is so broken.  I’d give anything to put you back inside me where I could take care of you. I hope you are making friends and having fun with all the angel babies that you’re meeting in Heaven.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Four and a Half Precious Days

It was the equivalent of a long weekend.  Have you taken an extended weekend vacation lately?  Maybe headed to Vermont to enjoy a few days of the Fall foliage. That is about the extent of my beautiful daughter’s life.  Abigail Grace was born before the sun came up Friday morning and passed away on Tuesday afternoon.  I feel like I blinked and it was over.  Did I even wakeup on Friday morning, was it just a dream?

We knew the cards were stacked against her from the beginning; when we received her diagnosis it was made very clear to us that her condition could mean a very short life, and certainly a challenging one.  Matt took two weeks off of work so we could alternate nights in the NICU after I was discharged.  I made arrangements to work from home with the expectation of multiple early intervention therapies happening each week in our home once Abby made it out of the hospital.  None of that ever happened.  On my day of discharge it all just ended.

It was early, and I went down to Abby’s room to be there for rounds.  When the team finally made it over to 2445 we joined them in the hallway to find that there were no major changes, but that the MRI revealed Abby actually had the Middle Interhemispheric Variant rather than Semi-Lobar as we thought.  Just after hearing that, Abby’s nurses told me it was “almost time”.  I immediately took off my sweater and Abby rested her face against my chest.  I laid there holding her, kissing her head and inhaling her as deeply as possible; feeling like each breath would be her last.  Matt sat right with us, rubbing her back and holding my hand, and then he took his turn holding her for the last time.

Connor left school early to say good bye.  He really just wanted to color, but he gave her a kiss first.  We didn’t push him, as he was nervous.  We decided to give Abby a bath and dressed her in the pink two piece outfit Con had specifically chosen for her to wear home.  It was as I was dressing her that I realized she was no longer with us.  I picked her up and held her to my chest and cried.  It was like I was holding a baby doll, and couldn’t let go.  I don’t remember all of the conversation around me, but I was holding her with tear-filled eyes not paying attention to anything.  Eventually I had to put her down, which felt like the most unnatural thing in the world to do.   

We could have kept Abby around for a few more days on a ventilator, but that wouldn’t have done her any good.  Our objective for her short life was for her to be comfortable and to know love.  We did our absolute best to make that happen for her.  She was meant to get her wings and join the other HPE angel babies. 

I can’t even begin to describe how heartbroken we are.  After we explained to Connor, who has a reasonable 4 year old understanding of death and Heaven, that Abby’s body just didn’t work like his does, he replied “But we have a crib for her.  She can just sleep there”.  Oh Lord, I want her to.  I wish I could have just taken her home and tucked her into her beautiful girly crib to watch her sleep eternally. Instead, this morning Matt and I picked out a tiny casket that she will be laid to rest in after her mass at St. Teresa’s on Saturday morning.  ***We did not print an obituary in the paper, however anyone who wishes to honor Abby with us is most welcome to attend.  The service is at St. Teresa's Church on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket at 10AM, this Saturday, November 20th.

Thank you, thank you a million times for all of the love and support you have offered us.  Our family and friends, our new friends from the HPE community; I can’t even begin to express our gratitude for the support we’ve received.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

D-Day...Delivery Day, that is

 Abby's luxury suite in the NICU at Wome & Infants


Someone must have told Abby to show up a little early to make a good impression. My water broke at 1:52am, and it was the very dramatic type of gush you expect to see on TV.  I could feel it coming and rolled out of bed to what sounded like a waterfall.  I weighed myself when we got into triage- I’d lost over 4lbs of fluid.  Though I was in the midst of contractions and had soaking wet pants, even then I found myself in significantly more comfort than I was for the majority of my third trimester J  So far, YAY LABOR!
Connor's first visit with Abby 11/12/2010
I won’t get into the details of it, but my c-section could have gone better. I’ve had one before; I know what it’s supposed to feel like, and I felt WAY more than I should have.  Luckily, my awesome OB (who couldn’t perform the surgery since we went in early) and my recovery nurse, Daria, (whom Matt and I know form High School, of course, because it’s RI afterall!) took great care of me afterwards and got my pain meds to where they should have been all along.  Thank you Dr. Brousseau and Daria!

We get two basic questions from people:
1. How is she doing?
2. What does she look like?

How is she doing?  That’s up for debate.  As have many other HPE parents been told, Abby’s condition is not compatible with life and we should expect not too much more than a week with her.  It could be prolonged with machines and invasive procedures, but nothing could be cured.  Her symptoms would merely be managed for a period of time until she passes.  I know kiddos beat these statistics all the time, but in the case she doesn’t, I don’t want to put her through anything unnecessary.

Our plan of care at this point is for comfort.  We want Abby enjoy what time she has with us by experiencing the warmth of our skin as she’s held. 
Abby's Baptism 11/13/2010
What does she look like?  Well, I’ll be descriptive here.  I didn’t get to see Abby for quite a while when she was born.  It was well over an hour before I saw her, and I was worried.  Matt came into recovery to “prepare me” for what her condition was.  Initially, Abby was a little shocking to see.  Abby’s head was indeed large.  Not just slightly oversized; she has macrocephaly.  Her poor brain had so much fluid in place of brain tissue that the skull plates had actually shifted down to the sides.  This also pushed her ears lower, down close to her jaw line.  It makes her look like she has big sweet soft cheeks to me J  She has a severe cleft lip and palate, which have an effect on her nose.  It almost looks like she has three nostrils.  And here’s the biggie, the part that breaks my heart when I look at her.  Abby’s eyes are widely placed, and her right eye is swollen shut.  It looks like there’s a big swollen bruise underneath it, and her left eye is just closed with no globe inside.  The rest of her body, I should point out, is as soft and tiny and perfect as any other newborn you will ever find.

What I just described may seem devastating to you; I’m aware that someone described her as being “severely deformed”, which I don’t agree with.  But do you know what we call her?  Our gorgeous girl!  That’s what she is, in fact it’s the only words that even come to mind when I go to describe her.  She smells beautiful, and her every inch of skin is so soft to touch.  I can cry thinking about it right now, how beautiful she is when I look at her and how soft her skin is when I rub my face against it to kiss her.  Matt and I couldn’t give her enough hugs and kisses if we tried.  I could sit with her snuggling against my chest indefinitely. 
My beautiful Abby
I’m being discharged Tuesday morning, but we’re not sure when or if Abby will be giving up her diggs in the NICU.  Her nurses are fantastic, and we have a wonderful Neonatal team right now.  We’re still waiting for some tests to be officially diagnose her as having semi-lobar HPE (I believe they are also putting the MIHV label on it too).  The genetics team just ran a Fish (did I spell that correctly) and will now do a microarray to determine the cause of the HPE and see what this means for me and Matt having children in the future.  We’ll find all that out later in the week.

Thank you to everyone who sent flowers, food, cards and warm wishes our way.  We’re all very happy right now.  I’ll keep you posted when we have more concrete news about Abby’s condition.  For now Connor is still really excited to be her big brother.  He would just like to have mommy back home for a few nights!

Matt & DG

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twas the night before Christmas...

Well, it definitely feels like the night before Christmas in the Allard household.  Connor is staying at his Grammy’s tonight, because tomorrow morning we’ll be checking into our luxury suite at Women & Infants for 6am.  I’m pretty sure it’s still dark then, isn’t it?  Poor Con- his very Preschool-appropriate anxiety was apparent as he told me that he’s “not coming to visit at the hospital because they can just put you back together and you can come home to put me to bed tomorrow night”.   We’ve had a few days in a row of tears about me having to sleep at the hospital.  He’s far less upset about me having an operation than he is over the fact that I won’t be putting him to bed for a few nights.   Thankfully, he’s still VERY excited that Abby is finally being born.

It’s rather odd, having everything all planned out, knowing that in 12 hours I’ll no longer be pregnant.  We’ve built up so much anticipation for this moment; it’s somewhat surreal that it’s finally arrived. With Connor’s birth I didn’t so much as blink and there we were, on the operating table.  This time I’ve had far too much time to develop anxiety about all this!  I am, however, looking forward to breathing easier and seeing my feet again J

I’m very aware that children with special needs can make adults feel awkward, especially when those special needs are physically obvious.  People don’t know what to say, they want to ask questions but don’t want to offend, or just feel uncomfortable and prefer to smile politely and move on.  We may be scared of what is different, of what we don’t know; people may stop and stare or they may immediately look away.  I’m writing this so you don’t have to be one of those people. There’s no reason to be scared. Abby is going to look different; she has a cleft lip, and for now her head is somewhat enlarged.  We aren’t sure of other abnormalities, but we’ve been told her eyes may be set closer than normal. These differences may be very obvious, or they may be subtle.  We’ll find out when we meet her tomorrow morning, but it doesn’t really matter; no matter what she’s going to be beautiful to us just like her brother was, and we love her.  If you’re reading this, chances are it’s because you care and we want you to feel comfortable and welcome around us. 

Matt and I really appreciate all of the support our family and friends have shown in the past several weeks, and particularly in the past day or two.  All of the phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook messages, and comments here have been overwhelming and heartwarming.  I know we’ve both been trying to keep up with responses; we can’t express how much we appreciate it and how loved you’ve made us feel.  This could have been an isolating time, but our experience for the most part has been the polar opposite.  Thank you for reaching out to us. We can’t wait to meet our daughter and to introduce her to you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Well, she's a pretty big baby..."

I had an OB appointment today, and guess what?  Physically speaking, I am absolutely no closer to giving birth than I was a week ago!  When I commented that my stomach feels significantly larger than it was with Connor, my doctor’s reply was, “Well, she is a pretty big baby”.  I suppose this is when I’m supposed to be grateful that we’re having a c-section…

The waiting and anticipation is getting hard.  I was so busy with my own life before Connor was born, that I was shocked when he was almost 2 weeks early.  My mother and I had planned to go “hospital shopping” the next morning, and my bag wasn’t even packed when my water broke.  This time around it feels like I’ve been pregnant forever, just waiting to go into early labor.  I’ve had more than twice as many appointments, and my bag has sat packed for two weeks now.  I don’t know why people love to say things like “Wow, this pregnancy just flew by.”  People always say that, as if they are involved somehow!  My replies are generally to the effect of, “Really? As the one who is pregnant, I couldn’t disagree with you more.”

Sorry to sound so whiny, but this pregnancy has been so long and tiring.  Really tiring.  And I've looked pregnant almost from the get-go, so it wasn't a secret for very long.  More significantly, it’s been a different experience, not having the same expectations and things to look forward to at birth.  That’s not to say we don’t have things to look forward to- that’s not what I mean at all.  Just that we’ve gone through a lot of mixed feelings about what’s to come and there's a certain amount of anxiety that accompanies all this.  We’re really excited to meet our Abby and welcome her to our family and fall head over heels in love with her.  At the same time we’re not in denial of the reality that accompanies her condition.  Those possibilities can weigh heavily at times.  It’s a weird place to be, knowing the depressing statistics and at the same time having an immeasurable amount of HoPE for what she may be capable of.  Thankfully, we’re far more HoPEful than anything at this point J

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Connor had fun at his first Halloween party on Friday night.  I’m not quite sure what he was expecting, but he was definitely overwhelmed at first, and to be honest, so was this Pre-K mommy!  There were kids, some were as big as small adults, screaming and walk-running allover the place.  Parents Magazine recently reported that the whole “sugar high” theory in kids is actually a myth…I beg to differ.  Eventually he settled into a beanbag toss game that occupied him and a few other classmates for a good portion of the night.  The massive helmet only lasted a short while; I’m wondering how it’s going to work out for trick or treating tonight.  He's been practicing different “trick or treat” phrases through the Vader voicebox:  "You don't know the power of the dark side...trick or treat", "Don't make me destroy you...trick or treat", and of course, "I AM your father...trick or treat"!!!  We’re really looking forward to hitting up the neighborhood with our buddies from down the street, so I’m trying to rest up this afternoon and save my energy for tonight.  When I suggested that I might stay home to pass out candy Connor’s response was “Well mommy, I really need you to come out with me.  I might get scared because I’ll still be four, you know.”  I obviously followed that up by smooshing his face and telling him I’d go out :)

I really just want to get through tonight for Connor; after that I'm SO ready to be done with being pregnant.  Abby, you are invited to join us anytime after 7:30pm this evening.  I'm barely mobile, so it's not like I will be doing much productive to prepare for you in the next 12 days.  Let's just do this!

Have a safe and fun night everyone!

Darth Vader or Dark Helmet? You be the judge!

The Dark Side is no match for that smile :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Post!

The pressure of the first post on a blog...enough to put a girl into labor!  Well, not really- though at this point I wouldn't be opposed to that happening.  We're scheduled to meet Abby in 15 days, however my frame just isn't meant to handle this much weight.  God bless my mother in law (who is built similarly to me) for carrying twins!!! Miss Abby is already more than a full pound larger than Connor was at birth, and I just don't know if I can take two more weeks of this.  I'm just hoping she stays put until November, because we're really looking forward to Halloween on Sunday!  Connor is going out as Darth Vader- he chose his costume two full months ago and has surprisingly not wavered the least bit in his excitement about it.  He even upgraded his costume last week by borrowing his friend Joey's super cool Vader helmet that has a voice box attached.  This is serious stuff!  He's giving it a test run tomorrow night at his school's Halloween party.  This is definitely the most excited he's been about dressing up, which has made it much more fun this year for Mom and Dad!  Can't wait to post pics of my evil Jedi Master.

Con is also very eager to wear his "Big Brother" t-shirt.  It was supposed to stay under wraps until I went to the hospital, but he found it in my laundry pile this week.  Of course, he wants to wear it now!  I'm not surprised- he is SO excited to be a big brother, and it has dinosaurs on it.