An Anniversary...of sorts

Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2....One year ago today our journey with Alli REALLY began. December 2, 2010, John and I met with High Risk Obstetrics at UT and their Genetic Counselor for what was supposed to be a routine 20-week ultrasound. This ultrasound would make a final ruling and discharge me from their care and back into the sole care of my regular OB/GYN. We had made the appointment four weeks earlier after two abnormal blood tests and the recommendation of one of the high risk doctors. Again, neither we nor the doctors were expecting anything abnormal....Basically, we weren't expecting anything other than seeing our perfect daughter in 3D, being released from the high risk appointments, and then calling it a day!

I remember the sonographer asking vague questions about the pregnancy, but I was only slightly concerned. I saw a few numbers on the monitor which made me slightly nervous, but she never said anything so I brushed them off, just like I had done in the ultrasound weeks before. Her husband was the head coach for Alcoa, so in between asking me to turn to this side or that side the three of us talked football and kids for most of the scan! At the end of the scan, she told us she did find some things that were concerning, she was going to allow the doctors to take a look, and they would be with us shortly. I'm certain the inside of my mouth was chewed to shreds within a minute of that moment. John was so positive, as always, and I had all these emotions, fears, and thoughts running through my head. I was attempting not to cry so I just took a deep breath and said, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" I remember John gave me an odd look and said, "What's wrong? I'm sure it's nothing!"

 WARNING: Total transparency here....In this moment I jumped all over John. My emotions and fears took over and I couldn't believe his positivity and ability to brush it off as nothing. I just saw that Alli was measuring weeks behind and I was also wondering why it looked like she had less amniotic fluid than Anna Clarie and Ava had. I think it's a good time to point out that men don't see the same things women do, obviously, and during the scan I "assumed" that John was watching the numbers that showed her measurements just as I was. I assumed wrong...all he saw was a perfect baby with nothing wrong. So, in the moments before the doctors came in, I took myself back to that moment and attempted to place myself in that same mindset with him.

 We waited for what seemed like forever, but I'm certain was only minutes, before that mindset was shattered. Two doctors, another sonographer, and the genetic counselor stormed in the door. At the appearance and abrupt entry of all four of them, fear slapped me in the face. Someone, memory fails me which one, quickly shook the bottle of "aquasonic," poured the bottle of goop on my belly, and proceeded with another ultrasound. They all talked back and forth around us in "medical lingo" and my head and heart were both spinning. I finally cleared my throat enough to ask what all this plain language.

The most concerning finding was that Alli appeared to have no kidneys....automatically, this made her incompatible with life. There was also, as I suspected, low amniotic fluid, she was measuring 3 weeks behind at 17-18 weeks (depending on what part of her body was being measured), and absent end diastolic flow through the umbilical cord. The only positives they could tell us were that she did have a full bladder, which they couldn't explain since they didn't see kidneys, and she was not in any form of distress. That was the last time we were able to "see" our sweet girl swimming in any sort of fluid. From 22 weeks on she had no amniotic fluid and was basically shrink-wrapped in my womb. We walked away devastated, but still optimistic, but quite frankly probably in denial. 

It's difficult to believe that a year has passed. Just an hour ago I rocked that sweet girl and put her down for the night.  I'm continually amazed by her and all she's been through to be here. Many times it feels as if this has been going on for years and then there are moments when it just feels like days. We have several anniversaries, of sorts, coming up over the next 6 weeks leading up to Alli's FIRST BIRTHDAY! There are even more anniversaries to come of days that will forever be etched in my mind; December 2, December 28, January 11, January 19 (her birthday), January 29, July 14, July 17, and August 5. But today is the first one! There are moments I will never forget as well, but these days are forever written on my heart. We are oh so thankful, grateful, and blessed to be where we are today; although, our fight continues with her lungs and pulmonary hypertension, we are still in a magnificent position compared to where we sat one year ago tonight.

My prayer for those suffering tonight is that they know that "this too shall pass." I can say that...I've been there, I am there still. Jesus does not promise that our lives will be easy. In fact, He promises that true followers of Him shall experience trials of many kinds. But, He is still there. I can PROMISE you He was there in this particular doctors appointment and in every appointment for that matter. He was there every time my knee hit the floor in that NICU or the phone rang telling us to come now.  I can PROMISE you neither John or myself have the strength in us to survive this past year like we have, so I THAT alone shows me He was with us.  He's still with us tonight as we continue to pray for divine health and healing over Alli and as we pray for our little friend Audrey and our newest NICU friends, babies Brody and Andy, and Kyle. He's still there! Probably the LAST thing we think about during trials in our life is that God is working all things out for our good and to be honest it horribly hurt and was so hard to think about my child and my family going through this trial and anything "good" coming from it. What we are expected to do is simply trust in His finished work. I want to be seen faithful in that trust so today and tonight we celebrate this anniversary! We celebrate not just because our daughter survived, but we celebrate because He brought us through, He continues to bring us through, and His work is not finished.  He is not finished with Alli, He is not finished with my family, or this story, and He is not finished with any of you!

And for us, that's the greatest celebration!!  

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