My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!” Psalm 108:1
Chaney and I are on our way back from Houston, a trip we have become familiar with. We’ve made the drive 4 times in the past 5 weeks. Depending on which route we take, it is a nice leisurely round-trip drive ranging between 950-1050 miles. We have tried them all to keep things interesting and see different parts of Texas. The drive is no big thing; when you’re in the third trimester of pregnancy, have ankles and feet that swell into painful puffy appendages and have to use the little girl’s room every few hours, the drive is a cake walk. Ha. One fact proves true whatever route we take…the further away we get from Midland the prettier and greener our surroundings become. We do love our hometown, but it sure is nice to get away and see trees, hills and life outside of West Texas even if it is for a doctor appointment.
Last time I wrote an update I was seeing my local doctor for ultrasounds each week. In fact, my last update was after a trip to Houston to check on Tyler. Since then we’ve had a few scares with high MCAs. One instance resulted in us making the trip to Houston fully convinced we would need a transfusion. The doctors even had us on the surgery schedule for the following day. I was a mess the 3 days leading up to my Monday appointment in Houston. Setting out on an 8 hour drive after getting less than favorable results was extremely unnerving. Leaving our kids not knowing exactly when we would be home or being able to answer their questions about Tyler added to the emotions. It was also the first time I’ve left Michael with someone other than his daddy and I was a teary-eyed, snot-nose, anxiety ridden mess. By God’s grace, Tyler was ok and not severely anemic however my stress levels had skyrocketed. Because of the added stress, time and miles between Midland and Houston, Chaney suggested that we begin having our appointments in Houston each week. Transferring our care provides us the expertise of The Fetal Center and Dr. Moise on a weekly basis. Also, if Tyler has become severely anemic requiring a blood transfusion, we will already be in Houston able to have the procedure done the next day. We won’t have to make preparations to go out of town, get the kids packed to go to Charlotte’s, pack ourselves and make the long drive strained with concerns of Tyler’s health. This provides ease of mind for us both and I’m so thankful to my man for discerning how to help ease the burden of stress that was suffocating me.
As a result, the last 3 weeks we’ve driven down to Houston on Sunday for our Monday morning appointment. Each week we rely on MCA’s, scans specifically checking for anemia measuring the rate of blood flow through the middle cerebral artery, to let us know how anemic Tyler is. He is anemic, but not severely affected warranting the risk for an intrauterine fetal blood transfusion. The scores are given based on MoMs (multiples of median) with 1 MoM being normal and 1.5 MoM equating severe anemia. Fluid around the organs, termed ascites, is another identifying factor of fetal anemia, but we don’t want it to get to that point. Last week Tyler gave us another scare with a wide range of MCAs measuring 1.3-1.7 MoM. All of the wave patterns were legit. Normally they narrow down scans and give us a score of the best quality scan but it was more difficult last week. After the tech did her scans, Dr. Snowise came in and performed several of his own. He began to check Tyler’s positioning and the umbilical cord placement, all important details when a transfusion is needed. The high numbers were perplexing because there were no other visible effects on his organs. The scans are formulated based on a precise angle of the middle cerebral artery and not an exact science. The only precise measurement of anemia is through taking a sample of blood from the umbilical cord. This method has several risks and isn’t used unless a blood transfusion is required. Several factors can cause the MCAs to be inaccurate and give false highs. This day Tyler happened to be positioned head down, was practicing breathing and was fairly active, all factors making the scan more difficult. I was so thankful we were already at The Fetal Center and fully trust their judgment, because this 2 hour appointment was stressful enough while sitting in a room of world renowned experts. Dr. Moise was called in to help figure out what was going on. He looked at Tyler and said he was fine. We were given the green light for another week and made the trip home.
It’s time for me to get real with ya’ll. When I was looking at the screen watching the high readings I panicked a bit. I was hit with a wave of emotions. I hate that my baby has to fight to be healthy. I’m thankful that we are doing so well with such an aggressive antibody and I realize it could be a lot worse. I realize many lose their babies and this has been in the forefront of my mind since learning of my isoimmunization. I fight my emotions constantly not wanting to be over-dramatic because things are going great with all things considered, yet challenging myself to be honest with the internal struggle. Our baby boy is sick and I struggle with the reality of my body causing his anemia. My view of the womb as a place of growth and safety for my children before they have the strength to enter this world has been challenged this pregnancy. Chaney and I have spoken several times how we took for granted the ease in which our other children were brought into this world. It’s like I’ve taken credit for the life of my children. Now I’m realizing how naïve I have been. The props and praise for all life belong to God alone. He has ordained the life of each of my children for a plan and purpose and I’m blessed to be included in this plan as their mother. My children are ultimately His and through this experience I’m beginning to accept this reality, one that I’ve fought since becoming a mother. The one thing I couldn’t ever honestly pray, “God I release my children to you. I know they are yours not mine. I know you love them more than I ever could.” That prayer scares me. It still scares me, but I see the validity in it. I see the desperate need to release this illusion of control that continues to confront me as a glaring defect of character. I waste so much time and energy fighting the wrong battles. One thing I’ve begun to practice is fighting in prayer for my children. I cannot always protect them from this world and the sickness, hurts and sin that exist, but I can pray for them to know our Father whose name alone offers hope. I pray that their lives have a lasting impact on the kingdom. I pray for God to comfort them in their hurts and that they will have a love for Scripture from an early age. I pray that they will passionately pursue God’s will and plan instead of living in sheltered “safety”. I recognize these things offer them more than a mother who tries to shield them. As their mother I’ve been entrusted to equip them and point them towards my Jesus. This morning during my quiet time I ran across a verse that knocked the wind out of me. Talk about perspective.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” Job 38:4
I fully know and accept this is our last pregnancy. We decided this before we had any inclination of the anti-kell antibodies we would combat during this pregnancy. I promised myself not to complain but cherish every moment of the aches and pains and to enjoy each movement of the precious life within me. I haven’t complained and I do enjoy Tyler’s kicks and turns, but it hasn’t been with the “normal” care-free bliss that I yearned for this final pregnancy. I count his movements to make sure he is healthy and not getting sick between scans. I don’t complain about aches and pains because I’m so happy my baby is still alive. I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares of losing my boy. Up until my appointment yesterday, I haven’t bought anything for him because I didn’t want to get too attached in case something happened. I hate to even admit that or put those thoughts into words but it’s my truth. I must confess that I fell into a trap of hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I tend to take that stance to protect myself from being hurt, but it’s a façade. Loss hurts no matter what. I didn’t even realize all the walls I have constructed until my appointment Monday.
Tyler is doing great and at 32 weeks 3 days he is already weighing 5lb 13 oz. We will deliver anywhere between the next 3-6 weeks. If he requires a transfusion after 35 weeks the risk of an IUT is greater than delivering early, so labor would be induced. We will not go past 38 weeks, so 6 weeks is the maximum time-frame. When Chaney and I spoke about this time table the relief was palpable and I think I exhaled for the first time in months. An enormous weight was lifted and I could breathe. For the first time I allowed myself to fully believe that Tyler is going to be ok…so I bought him a diaper bag, because he will need one. We gave ourselves a chance to relax, enjoy one another and permission to celebrate our pregnancy by breaking up the return drive home into two days. We stopped in Waco and went on a date. We had dinner, went to Common Grounds for coffee and caught a movie. This morning on our way out of town we stopped by Magnolia Market and grabbed pastries at the bakery, walked around the grounds and of course shopped. Chaney was a trooper and didn’t complain at all. We needed some time to just enjoy one another and I feel rejuvenated. I guess holding your breath for several months isn’t the best approach to life. My soul is so thankful for the fresh air.
Something Dr. Moise said got my attention. We keep making it one more week, even though Kell is the most aggressive antibody and I have a critical titer. My Kell antibodies attack Tyler’s existing red blood cells, causing anemia, and suppresses the bone marrow from producing new red blood cells accelerating the rate at which a baby becomes anemic. Yet we are ok. Still. Praise the Lord. I don’t get it and I’m so grateful. Several have commented at how strong we are in walking through this season and I know we are clinging tightly to the Lord, but something else is going on. Ya’ll are lifting us and covering us in prayer. Thank you. Please know that we are aware and humbled by your love for us. I don’t feel strong but God enables me to walk through each day with grace. I’m frustrated that I don’t trust Him. After everything He has walked me through I’ve continued to try and shield myself by expecting the worst. I still have so much room to grow. I’m grateful that God isn’t finished with me yet and covet your continued prayers over this season we are in. Please continue to pray for Tyler’s health, specifically to make it to the 38 week mark which decreases many health obstacles he could face if born early. Chapter 46 of Isaiah has been meaningful throughout my pregnancy. Just in case I didn’t get the hint, Kaylea Gaines also text me verses from the chapter several months ago. I believe this is true for us all, even when we have doubts, God is faithful and his truth doesn’t waiver.
“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
All you who remain in Israel,
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime-
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.”