I realize that I have not explained much of what happened before Mary Anna was born. This is a sensitive post, and I have debated it over and over again. I felt like some of the current does not make sense without a little history, so here it goes!
Before we found out about our baby girl, we had two miscarriages. A sweet friend at our church encouraged us to see someone to make sure that something was not wrong. We were very wounded and scared after what the past few months had brought us, but we reluctantly made an appointment with a specialist. After much testing, we were waiting on results, and I will never forget that phone call, “Umm, we have some news…” pause… heart pounding… “You’re pregnant!”. What? I started crying in Tractor Supply Company *again don’t judge, d is in vet school and needed some coveralls, so ya know, it is what it is! , and Dan of course was so confused, so I hung up the phone and told him the news. “D, we are pregnant!” We were so shocked, and we found out that as far as they knew there was no reason for the miscarriages. The only thing the specialist saw was a possible blood clotting issue, so he put me on blood thinning shots. Dan had to give me a shot every night in my stomach. They watched me very closely for the first 10 weeks, and then the specialist released me to my regular doctor. My regular OBGYN felt like the shots were a little unnecessary,so He sent us to UAB for a second opinion, and they agreed and took me off of them. It was not a big deal at all, but it, as usual, was another complication.
After we made it past 12 weeks, we felt like we were in the clear. Our second miscarriage was at 11 1/2 weeks, so we kept our lips sealed until the second trimester. Everything was looking great, and we went in for our gender appointment, and it went downhill again. They told us that our baby had cysts in her brain, and that something was wrong with her lower leg/foot. Again, our hearts were broken. The lady asked us if we still wanted to know the gender, and we said absolutely, so she told us that it was a girl! I was the happiest and saddest that I had ever been at that moment. They ushered us down the hall to confirm the findings with our OB. We began to sob, and our wonderful Dr. assured us that it was no big deal and that the cysts were common, and that her leg could be fixed.
He recommended us to see a specialist, so we made another trip to UAB. I will NEVER forget that day. We sat down, and they did the ultrasound, and the doctor began to give us a laundry list of all the things that could be wrong. He told us that the findings could be isolated, or they could be linked to something. The next part was when we lost it. He told us that we had two options. We could continue to monitor her closely, or with the risks he encouraged us to consider an abortion. WHAT! Thank you for the offer to kill my baby girl, but no thank you, I think we will pass. Needless to say we kindly said that no matter what, abortion was never an option for us, and we will carry our Mary Anna as long as the Lord wills. I do not remember much more of that day except feeling completely numb. Thankfully sweet Dan is medically minded and smart, so he continued listening to the doctor, while I checked out mentally and went back to being numb.
We got into the car, and I did not speak for about an hour. If you know me, you know that is pretty unreal for me to be silent. I am usually the one who won’t take a breath, so Dan was a little concerned. As we began to process things, we realized that we would believe in our baby girl and pray for healing. It was still very much an option that everything was isolated, so we chose to move forward in full faith. We continued on the next few months going back at forth between our regular OBGYN and the specialists. Her cysts indeed did go away, and she was doing wonderful. All of her organs looked normal, and there was nothing physically wrong except her little leg. We finally were released by UAB to continue our visits in Auburn.
Our doctor recommended us finding a pediatrician and going over these findings with him about her little leg, so we began to move forward with plans. We met with him, and he assured us again that it was very common. She was doing so good that we had nothing to fear besides a few visits with a pediatric orthopaedic, and maybe a few trips back and forth to Birmingham to fix her leg. About a month before she was born, they did a follow-up ultrasound at our OBGYN’s office in Auburn. They decided at that time that she was very small for her size, so they wanted to again keep a close eye on her. Each week I would have an ultrasound and a non-stress test. She was passing everything with flying colors and gaining weight slowly.
One Monday morning in July we got up for our usual weekly check-up at 33 weeks, and during Mary Anna’s non-stress test, she had a dip in her heartbeat. We were sent to the local hospital for further monitoring. I remember telling Dan, “Call my mom so she knows whats going on, but tell her not to freak out that everything was fine.” My mom freaked out of course! During the prolonged time on the monitors that watched her heartbeat, they found that she would have intermittent dips. Basically her heart rate would drop, but everything else was doing so good that they did not want to deliver that early unless they had further proof that they needed to.
Saturday, July 13, after spending 5 nights in the hospital on complete bed rest (yes, we were mentally going crazy by this point), they decided to send us to UAB by ambulance in fear that they would have to deliver soon. I kept telling the doctors that if they were going to deliver early that I really wanted to be transferred, because our local hospital did not have a NICU. I did not want to be separated from her after she was born, and because she was so small, they were pretty sure she would have to have some special attention after birth. We had our first ambulance ride to Birmingham, and we were starting to get excited. They told me that once I made it to 34 weeks, that besides her weight, we were safe to deliver, so we anticipated that she was coming soon! We again were monitored closely, and you can read her birth story here.
You have to know that we wrestled through this whole pregnancy. I told Dan time after time, that I felt like we kept getting kicked in the ribs (figuratively, not literally). It was like after our first miscarriage, we were really sad, but it was very early and very common, so when we got pregnant again two months later, we were thrilled. Then we got kicked again by our second miscarriage. Again, we were more like devastated after this one, but we got pregnant three months later, so we were feeling a little more positive. Once Mary Anna was named and we started preparing for her arrival, we just knew that she was going to be worth it all. She was worth it all, but I remember telling Dan shortly after she went to heaven, “Dang-it, why did we get kicked again.” We clung to the hope the whole time that she was fine.
Our baby girl was perfect. She was beautiful and a gift. Every time I look back at the 8 months leading up to her arrival, I see a lot of tears, stress, and pain. We have yet to have an easy, fun pregnancy, but absolutely, we would do it again and again if it meant we got to meet our princess. The Lord protected our hearts by helping us to choose to keep walking and believe in her. If we had known the outcome, I do not know what we would have done or how things would have been different, but I am thankful everyday that we did not know. When Mary Anna was born, we had nothing but complete joy and confidence in our hearts.
Obviously there are so many details to our story that I could not write without writing a complete book, but the one thing I hope to convey is that our journey so far yes, has been very hard, but it has been worth it all. Being Mary Anna’s mommy is the biggest accomplishment of my life so far, and I am so thankful for who she is and the mountains that she is moving. We would pray this over her every night before she was born:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139: 13-16
We prayed this over her while she was in the hospital:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalms 20: 7
If you make the Most High your dwelling
-even the Lord, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…
Psalms 91: 9-11