Monday, September 24, 2012

Several Days Ago

Dearest Sophia,

Several days ago, I gave birth to the most precious little angel I have ever met: you. In the days after that, I held you, kissed your soft cheeks and tiny lips, laughed, cried, prayed, loved, and grew more than I have in any other space of time. I am a different person because of you. I am more than me; more than just Daddy's wife, or Grandma's daughter. I am an angel's mother. I have seen perfection, and know what it takes to obtain it once more.

My testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has grown tenfold, all because of you. Never have I seen so many miracles unfold before me. Never have I felt this kind of love for another; had any idea what it was like to bring one of our Father's spirits into the world.

Before you were born, I had a couple blessings from Daddy, for different reasons. In them, the Lord revealed His intention to give us some time with you after your birth. He also offered comfort - assuring competent hospital staff, overall health, and peace for our situation. I have seen all of these promises and more fulfilled in the past week. I got to see Daddy give you a baby blessing, hear your sweet sounds, and spend more time with you than I had ever dreamed I would get. I have seen many individuals step up and offer both emotional and material assistance in our time of need. We have been blessed (undoubtedly due to faithfully paying tithing) to be able to pay our most pressing bills, and with leniency with our others. Truly, I cannot name the whole or even a small part of the miracles of this past week.

Like we know, no one ever said any of this would be easy. This particular situation was not designed for ease. But I know it is worth it. If there was any doubt before, there is none now. Tears will come. Daddy's cuddles will be necessary. But as long as we're doing our best to get back to you, I can find peace.

I am thankful your little body now gets to rest. However, I would be lying if I said I didn't sob when I finally let your body go with the man from the funeral home. Again, I am thankful for the Gospel; for the Savior's understanding of our situation. I am thankful for friends and family, and their willingness to serve in our time of need. I am thankful for your Daddy's faithfulness and strength, as well as his devotion to both of us.

I cannot say enough. September 24th, 2012 at 3:59am was not the end, just as September 19th, 2012 at 1:30pm was not the very beginning. We will see you again. We will get to hold you close and feel your sweet presence brightening up the room. You are our miracle. You are our first child, our precious angel. Nothing and no one will ever replace you, but I look forward to getting to bring your siblings into the world and tell them all about the 4 days, 14 hours, and 29 minutes of Heaven Daddy and I experienced while you were here. Thank you, sweetheart. You are everything I ever wanted and more.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

from Daddy to his Angel

To my precious Sophia Grace. I will not be able to finish this with out teary eyes. This is Daddy. I know i have not said much through out this time. It has not been easy for me knowing that i had and have in a sense lost your sister Onnamaria, due to bad choices.
 A few weeks ago your mommy and i were talking at she asked me if i was glad we had not aborted. At that point i was not sure. as that week ended i started noticing you moving and kicking mommy in the ribs and just going nuts. And for the first time a few days later i looked at mommy in the eyes and told her i was very thankful we did not abort you. That would have been the easy road as i look back to when we found out, to now.
 I have learned a lot from mommy. What a very strong woman she is. How close she is to our father in heaven. How she is willing to follow Christ's example as closely as possible. I love mommy so very much. She is my best friend and i can not live with out her by my side.
 After i told mommy i was glad we had not aborted i felt a great peace come over me. I would go to work and every one kept asking me how mommy and you were doing. I could talk about it easily because i had come to terms so to speak with what was going to happen.
 The week leading up to your birth was interesting. I got a new QA in my room due to a lack of QA personnel in the plant. He has two children and some similar interests as i do. Once we got on the subject of you the tone completely changed. It's not every day you hear the parent of a child say she has a birth defect that has a 100% fatality rate and no one knows how this happens. He continued to tell me he's praying for the lucky 1%. I told him if that happens i am going to give him the biggest hug ever.
  I so badly want to keep you throughout this mortal life and be able to teach you, raise you and watch you grow. I know its only for a short time but i have that desire to make right with the children that mommy and i have and what i was and am not able to do with your sister.
 Sunday night before we went in to the hospital the next morning mommy asked me for a priesthood blessing. So i did, In the blessing there were words for mommy and for my self. See since the first visit with Doctor Gjoni, from Italy, he irritated me. It only takes one instance to allow me to not forgive     some one. He instructed mommy to get off some pills with out question. I did not take kindly to this. And was ready to beat him up. In this blessing i gave mommy, she was told that the doctor would be competent and now what to do. I believe this was more for me than for mommy i suppose.
 But as every thing began to happen i could tell that he was paying close attention to every detail. You know i am a doctor a doctor of BS as i call it BROWN SUGAR!
 Doctor Gjoni, was very worried about every thing. Within good reason. TO my knowledge you were not in the correct direction for a normal birth. Turns out you were.
 As everything unraveled, instead of listening with one ear i began to trust him. As i saw his genuine care pouring out i had no other desire but to allow him to do as only a person as he knows what to do.
 The hardest thing I've had to do so far is tell mommy that every thing was going to be ok when i knew not the out come.
 As you were born I could not help but hope you were alive and that i would be able to give you a name and blessing. As i cut the cord i saw your mouth open and i could not help but cry. Right as soon as you were cleaned up and dressed in your blessing dress. Grandpa Lusk, Bishop Jameson, and I put our hands under you and did give you a name and blessing.
 I am so thankful that you have chosen your mother and I. For we love you so much, so thankful for your sweet spirit being in our midst. I am honored to be your mortal father here on earth and will do every thing i can to keep you close.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mommy's Little Shining Star

Dear Reader,

Notice how I didn't write "Dear Sophia"? Well, we went into the hospital Monday morning, per my doctor's instructions. At 1:02pm, I was admitted to the hospital. The doctor had been hesitant to do so, but since I kept having contractions which would make my blood pressure spike into the dangerous zone, I had had nausea which kept me from eating and sometimes drinking anything at least before the afternoon, and since it wasn't necessary for her to stay in for developmental purposes, he decided to go ahead and induce labor. 48 hours and 38 minutes later, our little angel was born. She was 5 pounds, 2.2 ounces, and 18 inches long. Even better, she is still here with us. Here's a picture:

Of course, as anyone who has ever been induced knows, it's not *quite* that simple. Those 48 hours were not a cake walk. They were filled with a mixture of frustration over a lack of contractions or a lack of intensity/consistency, increasing pain/contractions, uncomfortable exams, hand grasping, many nurses, strange and new sensations in many different parts of my body, a wonderful epidural (which, really, was quite a blessing considering my blood pressure wasn't going down into a safer range any other way), love, friends, family, anticipation, worry, and that's not the half of it. At one point, Sophia's heart rate kept dropping then going back to a normal rate. I was getting less and less confident that we wouldn't get to meet her while she was still alive, but she pulled through.

It was frustrating waiting for everything to happen. I would get checked at one point and they'd say one thing, then it would be another, then the same thing as before, then something completely different. For a whole day, not much happened even though it looked like I was headed in the right direction.

Finally, Tuesday night, I got to rest from all the inducing medications and get some sleep (a term I use loosely in this situation.) Wednesday morning, the pitocin drip was started again and things slowly but surely went in the right direction. It was nice to hear the doctor sound pleased for once while he was checking my progress. Around 1:00pm, I was finally at 8-9cm, and 90% effaced (which was wonderful, considering I'd been basically a 5 for a majority of the time before that.) We had just barely gotten the update out when, at 1:15pm, while I was laying still in my bed and holding Charles's hand, I felt a burst inside me and a gush of fluids rush out of my body. Unquestioning, I said "My water just broke." and a flurry of activity began.

At 1:25pm, everyone was ready and all set up; I was told to start pushing. 1:26pm, my doctor told me he was going to do an episiotomy, which I am thankful for. Miss Sophia's head was down but her face was the closest to the birth canal. Either way, in her condition it was safer for her to go through a larger hole than there already was. 1:30pm, our angel was born. Yes, that's a five minute delivery. Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Shortly after, my grandfather and our bishop were brought in to help Charles give her a name and blessing, something we like to do in our church. It's usually done in a Sunday church meeting shortly after the baby is born, as a 'welcome to the world' kind of thing, but we didn't know if we would have much time with her so we got to do it in the hospital. It was beautiful.

After that, while I was being stitched up, everyone who had come to see her got to come in a meet her for the first time. It was interesting being pretty exposed while all this was going on, but I honestly didn't care at the time. I had my angel. She was alive. That's all that mattered to me.

The time since then has been filled with so many wonderful things, all having to do with our sweet daughter. She has smiled, cooed, and snoozed her way into the hearts of many, many people. We have seen her open her eyes just slightly, heard her let out several small cries, held her tiny hands and kissed her soft, squishy cheeks. She is our little piece of heaven.

She has been with us nearly 3.5 days now. They have not been easy emotionally. I go from happy, to apprehensive, to miserable about the thought of losing her or feeling like a terrible mother because I can't feed her or do the things I want to make her comfortable, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I love her more than I can express - meeting her just makes me want to make myself as perfect as she is so I can see her again later on. That's the goal. That's what we'll do. Mommy loves her Sophia.

Lora/Mother to the sweetest, strongest little blessing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Baby Blanket

Dear Sophia,

I'm not sure when it happened, but my baby blanket ended up on the top of our laundry pile. I've been eyeing it for a few days, not sure what I wanted to do with it. After 21 years and plenty of loving, it's off-white, feels a little worn, has a hole or two, and the happy-looking once-colorful bears have faded, but the blanket is in fairly good condition otherwise. I remember using it off and on for years as a small child, and it was always just the right length, always made me feel so comfortable. I didn't carry it around or need it to feel stable - it was just nice to have every once in a while.

Anyway, I found it when I was packing up my things to take to Iowa when Daddy and I got married, and scooped it up. I thought it would be nice to use, if only gently, for our children once they were born. A few minutes ago, I finally picked it up from its resting place... and almost started crying.

There's so much I wanted to share with you, and my blanket was just a start. I wanted to share my most favorite person (Daddy, of course), my faith, my home, everything I had with you. For now, I will have to settle for sharing my body and the experience of your birth. We will have other opportunities down the road, as Uncle Jordan was happy to point out.

I love you. I can't wait to meet you, though I have no doubt that your birth will be the hardest thing I ever go through. It has been difficult attempting to imagine what it will be like to 1) give birth 2) hold my child for the first time and 3) lose said child, all in an undetermined - most likely short - space of time. All I do know is the Lord has been there for your Daddy and I many times before, and He will not leave us now. He has already experienced what we are about to experience, and He, loving us perfectly, will not deny us His peace and strength - all we have to do is ask for it.

In the meantime, I feel honored to be sharing my body with one of the Lord's particularly beautiful creations - you.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Repeat Offender

Dear Sophia,*

The last couple days have been quite interesting, to say the least. For example, here's a post I had saved in draft form from either last night or the night before:

"Am I going into labor? I wish I could tell... I don't like being this uncomfortable. Will we see your sweet face soon?

Oh, the anxiety!"

Maybe it's a little dramatic... but you try being calm and collected when it feels like your body is seizing up and preparing to squeeze out a little body bigger than the hole it's coming out of. Plus, I was kinda in panic mode. Just a bit.

I didn't sleep well last night. It was difficult to get comfortable. In fact, the only time I actually started to feel very comfortable was a few minutes before Daddy and I got up. Our dog, Hannah, was standing by the door like she needed to go potty. Even though I'd just gotten comfortable (the right temperature, superior support, etc) I didn't want to wake Daddy up and I didn't want Hannah to use the carpet as her potty spot. So I ABANDONED my comfy spot to let her out... and she proceeded to stand at the top of the steps and sniff the air. Seriously? Seriously.

Anyway, today was the latest regular appointment with my obstetrician. Checked in. Went into the room. Asked how I was doing: "Alright." Blood pressure: Good. Contractions?: Yes. "Hmm." Ultrasound: HR 141. Off to Obstetrics. Room 184. Little cup in the bathroom.

NOW it gets new. A nurse named Lacey walked in to get me all hooked up. At first, she asked me to lay on my left side, at which point Daddy and I informed her if she was able to find you while I was on my left side she would be the first. Ultimately, I ended up on my back for the duration of the visit. The aim of monitoring me on these machines was to track if I was having contractions and if they were regular and progressing. Just after the nurse got me all hooked up, she looked surprised and asked if I'd felt the contraction I'd just had. I shook my head no, and told her I was already uncomfortable - I just hadn't noticed any increased discomfort. (It didn't stay that way, but I'll hit on that in a bit.)

For some reason, Daddy was in a little of a grumpy mood at the beginning of the visit to the O.B. unit. He said he felt like they were wasting our time and there was no reason for us to be staying there that long again... until he noticed I was having regular contractions. At that point, neither of us had eaten anything because 1) he doesn't like eating right after he gets up and 2) I still haven't been able to eat before around 2pm. Before the appointment, all I'd had was a couple mouthfuls of water which made my stomach turn. While we were sitting there, all I wanted was a large glass of water, but I couldn't have it because they weren't sure if I was going to go into active labor or not. Needless to say, I was uncomfortable in several different ways.

So anyway, I was having contractions, which ended up getting more intense and frequent while we were there. They got up to a minute and a half apart, with increasing intensity (read: they hurt more.) They simply monitored me for a while, while the doctor decided what he wanted to do. The nurse checked me for dilation, and said I was at 2-3cm. A few minutes later, the doctor came in and attacked my cervix once again, only this time I was already in pain and he was just adding to it. It felt like my body was a juice box, except my juice box was a little over-full, the aluminum straw spot was actually a chalk board, and he was both pushing and dragging his nails across it to get to the juice. Ugh. He was pushing so hard, his hand was shaking. My challenge during that moment was not jumping away from him while punching and/or scraping any piece of his body within reach.

Ultimately, they sent us home. We only live a few minutes from the hospital, so they said to come back if anything changed, my water broke, etc. If nothing happens over the weekend, we're supposed to go back on Monday and get checked out again.

Since the appointment, I've had spotting - no doubt because of the heedless attack on my cervix, continued contractions and decent baby movement. Oh, and I've eaten! Actually, that was initially short-lived because my body decided the ground beef from Taco Bell was a no-go, but we did finally get some food in me.

It's surreal thinking that I may give birth in the next few days. If you take it from the nurse, we won't make it to Monday. Ahh! As always, we shall see, and, as is ever true, we love you sweetheart. See you soon?


*Disclaimer: I am still experiencing the contractions I will talk about in this entry. I assume no responsibility for confusing organization, or the lack thereof. Read at your own risk. ;)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The (Pregnant) Wallflower

Dear Sophia,

This experience has been interesting. Even at my small size, it's difficult to avoid pregnancy questions which ultimately lead to the disappointed "Oh... I'm sorry," and the inevitable, awkward slow-walk in the other direction. However, this has also made me feel more thought-of than I ever have. Because I tend to feel like I blend into the background, I am always surprised when someone does something unexpected for us to help out, or out-of-nowhere makes mention of something I've said or something someone has said about our situation.

One day, I had Grandma call to tell me something Uncle Jordan had learned in seminary and was adamant I also learn: that Daddy and I would get to raise you in the millennium. I thought it was super-sweet that 1) he had actually been paying enough attention in seminary to connect something from his life and 2) our situation had been close enough to his mind that the connection could even be made. My youngest brother is not typically the touchy-feely type. (Example: Uncle Adam called this morning to invite us to breakfast with Grandma, Uncle Jordan, and himself. We went, even though I've been too nauseated to eat in the mornings - at least Daddy would get a good breakfast. At one point during the conversation, we got on the topic of Uncle Jordan's wrestling at school. Needless to say, I was not terribly surprised when he said he'd won one of his rounds due to a toot which made the other poor wrestler gag and lose his concentration. That's Jordan for ya.)

When we were in Iowa visiting Daddy's side of the family, I was using the restroom (shocking, I know) when two ladies began talking about me. One asked if I was still "carrying," which the other confirmed, and the conversation continued from there. A minute or two into it, I was definitely finished with my business and unsure of what to do next. Finally, I opened the door and headed straight to the sink to wash my hands. Of course, the conversation immediately ceased, and the ladies sheepishly dried their hands and left in front of me. Although I had been a little surprised, it was interesting hearing this conversation occur in a situation where people believed I was not present.

We have had ladies provide precious white dresses to dress you in, nurses who called AH to make sure we had contacted them for support, and nurses (I'm guessing the same ones) who called another nurse of the same faith to make sure they could fulfill any religious expectations and not offend us. Although I, in my carnal state, would not have chosen this course for our lives, we have been blessed beyond belief with a host of individuals who have done all they could to help us. I have a mother who is willing to give up basically her entire evening (this past evening, in fact) to take care of me and make sure I wasn't alone if I went into labor (yeah, apparently it's looking like I'm that close.) I have a husband who is beyond wonderful at making sure I'm as close as possible to comfortable and safe; who is amazing at loving me, including making sure I know, without a doubt, that love is sure. I have friends who have made it clear on multiple occasions that they are there for us and, although my needs can be a little... lot sometimes, they are great at meeting them. The list doesn't end there... but I would be here all night if I tried to record all the people who have blessed us with their influence.

Now, for a health update. For most of the day, I feel pretty "blah." It's weird - I was nauseated my first trimester, but I only threw up once. I kept that number for my second trimester too, although my daily nausea had mostly worn off after 17 weeks. I had been doing really well here in my third trimester, I thought. My number stayed consistent... up until just over a week ago. Suddenly, I can't easily hold anything down before about 2pm. Even the water I was drinking this morning didn't hold a sure footing in my stomach. The nurse we had on Wednesday offered some anti-nausea pills, which I declined because I didn't want to take yet another pill, but I'm not sure now if that was a wise choice.

In addition to this wonderful awareness of my stomach contents, I am so tired all the time. Daddy and I always cuddle before we go to sleep - if we don't, it's just not bed time - and you should hear me when I roll over to officially sleep. I sound like I'm dying... or a ghost trying to scare the crud out of someone in a haunted house. It's oh-so-lovely. Add that to the occasional "Ow, ow, ow!" from random pains in my abdominal area, consistent trips to the bathroom, and the fact that I might as well have a timer for how long I can actually last outside of the house (one of those turn-over minute timers might work) and I'm just a barrel of fun. I'm grateful I'm not the first person to have ever been pregnant, although I will point out that pregnancy is a highly personal experience and different for each woman, because I might not be receiving such an outpouring of empathy otherwise. We have been provided with other people who have gone through the similar experiences and can be the Lord's instruments of comfort in times of need. I am certainly one needy person at this point.

I will say that I'm nervous about possibly facing a c-section. A large part of our decision not to abort was to preserve my body for future pregnancies. All I know right now is we are doing all we can to make sure I'm left in as best of condition as possible, and we have felt good about our decision to give you all the time you will naturally live. We are selfishly hoping this buys us some time to love on your cute little self while you're still here, but we will be happy with whatever the Lord's plan is; His is the perfect plan.

Daddy gave me a blessing today. (Have I mentioned how much I love having a worthy Priesthood holder for a husband?) I had gotten the notion I should ask for one, although I often feel like I'm not in bad enough condition to warrant one and try to wait, but the notion kept coming back. Finally, I asked, and Daddy obliged. I love getting blessings. It is so wonderful that we can receive personalized guidance from the Lord for our trials.

We love you honey. I'd go through all of this again to be able to keep you - but Uncle Jordan is right. If you think about it, Daddy and I just have to go through a different process before we get to keep you for good. It's worth it - the Lord wouldn't put us through these things if it wasn't.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

By Popular Demand...

Dear Sophia,

I had a couple requests to post pregnancy photos. I haven't really been doing it because I don't really enjoy taking pictures of myself, and it just hasn't been a priority with this pregnancy, but I went ahead and gave them what they wanted. Here are the pictures I posted:


Yes, I realize I look like a ghost, but that's just how it goes. I'm PALE okay? Oh well. Just thought I'd share!

Also, my back is really bugging me. Thanks, sweetie. OH! So, earlier, you were pushing up like there was no tomorrow, and I ended up pushing down on you to get you off my ribs. I don't think I've ever really done that, because when I felt you moving against my hand then squirming away, it was so weird! Ha - I love you honey.


EDIT: It occurs to me that I haven't written about something really cute Daddy was doing the other day. We were cuddling on the bed, as is common with us, and you started kicking a lot. Daddy put his hand over where you were kicking, and started smiling one of my favorite smiles - one of those ones were you can tell that, in that moment, he is really, truly happy. I hope I see that smile a lot when we are expecting your siblings. He has, understandably, been a little less excited about this pregnancy than he would be if you were going to stay with us, so I love seeing that smile from him. Anyway, when we were on the bed feeling you kicking, Daddy decided he was going to try to catch your foot. Every time you kicked, he'd grab at my stomach and we'd both laugh. He didn't catch you, but he had a great time trying.

Then yesterday, right before Daddy left for work, I didn't want him to leave so I was hugging him tightly... and you kicked him! He felt it, too, which made me so happy. I love when he gets to feel you - especially when we're not necessarily trying to get him to feel you.

Anyway, that's it! Just wanted to make sure I recorded a couple of things I didn't want to forget.

Approaching the Endgame

Dear Sophia,

We went in for my regularly-scheduled appointment today. I haven't been feeling very well (nauseated in the mornings, really tired, lots of mucus draining down the back of my throat - ugh) but things were normal - pants off, uncomfortable pelvic exam, ultrasound (HR 141), pants back on. Next, the doctor said he'd like to have some blood work done and he led us out of his office, down the hall, to an unmarked door. He put in a code on the little pad beside the door, then led us through a super-secret hallway - er, the nurses's lockers - and into the obstetrics unit to good ol' room 183. A nurse I've seen several times for getting my blood drawn came in with her little white caddie and did her thing wonderfully, as always. She tourniquet-ed my arm, commented on how beautiful my vein was (woohoo!) and did the deed. I always love seeing her when I need to get my blood drawn because she is especially gentle and I've never felt uncomfortable with her.

A couple minutes later, I was getting set up on the machines. The nurse, who was perfectly nice, found your heart beat pretty quickly, but I'm sure it was easier because you're bigger than you have been in previous visits. At one point, the nurse turned the monitor so we could see the little lines which were being produced by our bodies. It was actually really cool because I hadn't gotten to see those before and actually understand what they meant. When you started moving a lot more than normal, and creating more of the "chopped-up worm," as Aunt Kym and Daddy were calling it, a nurse came in and said "Oh, it looks like she has hiccups!" That was probably the highlight of the visit for me.

Oh, and guess what else? I had one definite contraction while I was all hooked up. I probably had a couple smaller ones too, because I definitely felt my back knotting several times and when I looked at the monitor the little black line was going up, but there was one for sure which had a significant arc. However, both the doctor and the nice nurse checked my cervix and my body still isn't quite ready. They say my cervix is soft, albeit high (and the word "posterior" was mentioned a couple times too.) The doctor said I was still fingertip (or "fingernail," as Aunt Kym said), while the nurse said she might go as far as saying I am at "1." They ended up sending us home because I wasn't progressing, and included the usual discharge instructions of "come in if your water breaks."

Well, yeah.

As it stands, I'm a bit physically uncomfortable, but it looks like we're slowly-but-surely getting to the point where you can be delivered. Our next appointment is on Uncle Adam's birthday. Maybe we'll end up celebrating two births on that day? We'll see.