The Review of the Ultrasound

Sure, my womb was all but shutting down, but my baby was still thriving, and as long as she was thriving, there was no reason to change our course.

So we wait. I bleed. I cry. I pray. We wait.

5.10.17

“The whole waiting thing is wretchedly rough…”

Moving on from the joys of gender reveal, on the 10th, I took the call from my doctor we’d been waiting on. Our ultrasound had been reviewed, and there appeared to be changes happening in there.

At the time, it was believed the previa had cleared but left behind a massive clot. They found “flecks” in the amniotic fluid, alluding to blood being within the amniotic sac. Despite an abruption causing blood loss, blood should never be within the amniotic sac, so where was this coming from? They really couldn’t say.

We were referred to a perinatologist (a high risk ob-gyn/maternal-fetal medicine specialist) who would work in conjunction with my doctor to figure out the implications of these new findings. However, that appointment wouldn’t be until the 25th of May.

After sorting through the news from my doctor for two days, replaying the conversation over and over again in my mind, trying to make sense of what she’d told me, I called her back and begged, make the perinatologist appointment sooner. We need answers. But the truth is, at this gestational age, there’s no point in an earlier appointment. Sure, my womb was all but shutting down, but my baby was still thriving, and as long as she was thriving, there was no reason to change our course.

So we wait. I bleed. I cry. I pray. We wait.

 

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 20 weeks 4 days
Days of blood: 18
Days of bedrest: 35
Doctor’s Appointments: 7
Ultrasounds: 3

P.S. The picture for this post is at 20 weeks. Somehow, as I plotted all of this out – posts, pictures, quotes and stats – the one good picture of my husband and myself during our pregnancy did not make the cut given it really doesn’t speak into our pregnancy story. So, here, let me share it so you know I looked cute at least once in the time I was pregnant…

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Book Review – My Lullaby of You

Amy, having just graduated high school, can’t wait to get out of town and get to Chicago where she’ll attend her dream college. Seth, one year away from finishing college, makes his way to that same town to tie up the lose ends of a relationship with his father and finally sort out his past. The two meet, interests are piqued, friendship quickly turns to love, but love turns to complications. Can Amy and Seth put the complications behind them and allow love to conquer while chasing the dreams of their future?

When it comes to books, two things automatically get me jazzed – debut novels and local authors. I just love the idea of someone tangible, someone who lives in the same state as me, setting their dream into motion, pushing their first baby out of the nest, because they tend to give that first one everything they’ve got. This next book was written by a friend of a friend, but I think if we didn’t live on opposite sides of the state she would just be a friend, because sometimes, through social media, it feels like we’re the same person. I was super excited that she allowed me to dive into an advanced reader copy to write this review.

Book 13:
My Lullaby of You
by Alia Rose

Genre:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Beach Read

Published:
June 2018

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, My Lullaby of You is about two young adults whose paths cross one summer in a small North Carolina beach town. Amy, having just graduated high school, can’t wait to get out of town and get to Chicago where she’ll attend her dream college. Seth, one year away from finishing college, makes his way to that same town to tie up the lose ends of a relationship with his father and finally sort out his past. The two meet, interests are piqued, friendship quickly turns to love, but love turns to complications. Can Amy and Seth put the complications behind them and allow love to conquer while chasing the dreams of their future?

Favorite Quote:

“This is your shot. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll always have your degree, your talent in jazz, and another chance at getting in an ensemble.”

―Alia Rose, My Lullaby of You

Awards (based upon my brief research):
None yet.

Pages:
287

My Overall Rating:
3.5 – I have to start by admitting beach reads are not generally my thing, but this one definitely had more to it than I expected. Love stories are cute and fun and a good shakeup from my usual book of choice, but I was genuinely surprised by the plot twists in this book, which continuously made me want to read more and more. That being said, I read this quickly as it is written for young adults. 

I felt like the author perfectly captured the thoughts and feelings of young adults in the situations they were faced with. I resonated with Amy – in the summer after her high school graduation, it was as if she was “over” her high school life, ready to move on and mature past her years. I was impressed the author could portray that type of personality so well.

The one critique that bothered me was that I found myself rooting for the characters in the overarching theme of the story, but there were certain parts that felt unbelievable (i.e. Seth’s career path). While I do think young adult novels/beach reads should be dreamy, my realistic self had to role my eyes a bit when Seth talked of his plans and put his plans into motion. 

All-in-all, it’s a light, easy escape of a read with an engaging story. If that’s what you’re searching for, then I have to recommend this debut novel, and if you’re from Michigan, it’s a local author too!

Beach Read

Blue or Pink, Which Do You Think?

We made the conscious decision to celebrate the gender reveal as if the real meat of this ultrasound wasn’t about placental problems. So off we went to the little, local hospital down the road on a Friday morning, my bladder full, my husband praying for a boy.

5.5.17

“The next big number I’d like to get to is 24 weeks. That’s when she becomes viable. Oh, how I’d love for her to stay in another 12 weeks after that yet.”

In comparison to a “normal pregnancy”, few days in this pregnancy were celebrated. We had the joy of announcing our pregnancy before the bulk of the chaos ensued, but nothing else super celebratory happens before week 16, and by then, it was hard to celebrate. Therefore, the mixed emotions of the 20 week ultrasound…

We were excited, heading into the 20 week ultrasound, our third ultrasound, because we would finally learn if our little warrior was a boy or girl. However, we were far from all rainbows and unicorns. We were more like rain and an injured bird. With our gender reveal came the next look at the makeup of my womb. Had anything changed in the past four weeks that might set us on a better trajectory? Or were we right to give up hope that things would return to normal?

Still, we made the conscious decision to celebrate the gender reveal as if the real meat of this ultrasound wasn’t about placental problems. So off we went to the little, local hospital down the road on a Friday morning, my bladder full, my husband praying for a boy. Once on the table, we agreed to let a student look first. She poked and prodded and eventually handed the wand to the certified tech. She then poked and prodded as well, drawing the process out for over an hour before showing us what solidified that inside, there was a healthy baby girl.

My husband was visibly disappointed. I was disappointed for him. I wanted him to have a son more than I wanted myself to have a daughter. But this was uncontrollable. God chose us for that little girl. What a blessing. So we slapped on our “how do I respond to this?” smiles and went on with the ultrasound. I remember telling my husband, “You have to be ok with this,” but we would go on to learn the incredible benefits of having a girl in our situation. If a baby has to fight, you want it to be a girl. Praise God she’s a girl.

As far as the makeup of my womb, we had to wait until the radiologist reviewed the ultrasound, which took longer than usual, given it was a Friday ultrasound. Therefore, massive props to the ultrasound tech, because she looked at my war zone without batting an eye.

We left the hospital with our semi-happy news. It’s a girl. A she. A little lady. I had drawn two hearts – one blue and green, one pink and purple. We tossed the blue and green and snapped a photo we would send to our family and friends… in black and white, making them guess. Eventually, we shared the colored photo as well, and then for the weekend, we clung to the new, good thing we knew, while waiting for the news of what was really going on in there. And in the mean time, we knew we needed our little girl to stay in for at least another four weeks – the milestone of viability.

gender reveal girl

I can’t recommend this enough: If you find yourself in a situation similar to ours. Celebrate the things you’d imagined celebrating. Do the things you’d dreamed of doing. Cling so tightly to what you’d planned to do for the special moments that you make normal leak out of your abnormal situation.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 19 weeks, 6 days
Days of blood: 15
Days of bedrest: 30
Doctor’s Appointments: 7
Ultrasounds: 3

 

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Book Review – The Girl Who Smiled Beads

Clemantine’s honesty and commitment throughout the re-telling of her experiences in the Rwandan genocide and as a refugee are inspiring. She covers her story from every angle, making the reader really see and feel what she saw and felt in a time incomprehensible for those uninvolved.

Ah, my April Book of the Month selection. While I love fiction, I’m fascinated by the stories of people who go through something major and live to tell about it from a level-headed state of mind. The author Clemantine is, no doubt, forever changed by her experiences, but her sharing of them in this book is brave and enlightening. There were other decent April options over at Book of the Month, but I knew even before this one was in my hands this would be a good book.

Book 12:
The Girl Who Smiled Beads
by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

Genre:
Biography/Autobiography

Published:
April 2018

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, The Girl Who Smiled Beads is the true story of Clemantine and her sister, Claire, as they fled the Rwandan genocide. Clemantine was 6 (Claire 15) in 1994 when the genocide began and her family urged the sisters to leave in order to save themselves. They migrated through seven African countries in six years, escaping war, seeking safety and growing up too soon. Clemantine shares her unique perspective on the journey as a child who’d experience so little before her world fell apart and her eyes were opened to the brutal violence and inhumanity of war. At age 12, she makes her way to the US where she finds safety, but she’s forever changed, having left her family behind, having lost out on a childhood and having seen too much. 

Favorite Quote:

Survival, true survival of the body and soul, requires creativity, freedom of thought, collaboration. You might have time and I might have lands. You might have ideas and I might have strength. You might have a tomato and I might have a knife. We need each other. We need to say: I honor the things that you respect and I value the things you cherish. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. Nobody is better than anybody else. Nobody is who you think they are at first glance. We need to see beyond the projections we cast onto each other. Each of us is so much grander, more nuanced, and more extraordinary than anybody things, including ourselves… I’ve seen enough to know that you can be a human with a mountain of resources and you can be a human with nothing, and you can be a monster either way…

―Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil, The Girl Who Smiled Beads

Awards (based upon my brief research):
None noted yet – it’s brand new, but this is another one I guarantee will begin to bring in the awards soon.

Pages:
288

My Overall Rating:
5 – This is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. Like, when I finished it, I just want to give it a lingering hug. Clemantine’s honesty and commitment throughout the re-telling of her experiences in the Rwandan genocide and as a refugee are inspiring. She covers her story from every angle, making the reader really see and feel what she saw and felt in a time incomprehensible for those uninvolved. This is the type of story-teller I aspire to be.

On top of how well written the book is, what struck me hard is this: While Clemantine was 6 and fleeing the Rwandan genocide, I was 4 and being American. When she was 12 and being infiltrated into American society, parentless and only really knowing a life of fleeing, I was 10 and surrounded by friends and family I’d grown up with my entire life, having only lived in one house and spending my time competing in gymnastics for fun. We graduated high school the same year, yet she went on to Yale and is changing lives by the re-telling of her story. I truly believe she survived the genocide to change lives.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s the first book in a long time that I took in so deeply and cherished so fiercely that it felt like I was eating or inhaling it.

It’s Not Over

To this day, I still can’t really describe the devastation I felt on that day. I’d hoped so badly our pregnancy wouldn’t be defined by the havoc of our issues – that they might be temporary. But on this day, I lost all hope that things could return to normal.

5.1.17

“This is why I refused to believe the bleeding could be done this time. After 11 days, I lost blood last night. I don’t even have the words to talk about it.”

The three short sentences above were the only three I wrote in my journal on May 1. To this day, I still can’t really describe the devastation I felt on that day. I’d hoped so badly our pregnancy wouldn’t be defined by the havoc of our issues – that they might be temporary. But on this day, I lost all hope that things could return to normal. On this day, I knew it was only downhill from here. On this day, I sank into a pit – the pit I’d pull myself out of for each visitor I’d have going forward, slapping on a smile and claiming I still had hope things could return to normal.

Things were not going to return to normal. You don’t go 11 days without blood loss and relapse just once. If it’s coming back, it’s back.

So now we looked toward the 20 week ultrasound, the one ultrasound I thought I’d have in my entire pregnancy. We would find out the gender of our baby and if there were any changes on the inside for the good.

But until then, I continued to rely on beautiful weather to get out of the house. My “bed-ridden” self would walk down the stairs in the morning, to and from the bathroom and, if the weather was nice, out to our patio table where I’d work.

Never have I taken in the nature of our backyard so deeply.

There was a momma mourning dove protecting her eggs in the crook of the tree next to our patio table. She and I seemed to have an understanding of each other last spring/summer, each trying to do the best for our unborn child(ren). There were butterflies frequenting the milkweed in our backyard. And once, there was a squirrel napping in the sun on a tree branch.

We don’t have this gloriously beautiful backyard, but last year, a year where we were so limited, being outside was beautiful.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 19 weeks, 2 days
Days of blood: 14
Days of bedrest: 26
Doctor’s Appointments: 5
Ultrasounds: 2

P.S. Friends, this is the last pregnancy-related post before the March for Babies walk on Saturday. Please consider making a donation if you haven’t done so already. We’ve far surpassed our initial goal of $1000, and we’re immensely blown away and blessed to be able to give almost $3000 to such an amazing organization. We’re $327 away. Could you make even a donation of $6.90 – a dime for each day Oaklee spent in the NICU? 

Every donation helps expand programs and educate medical professionals to make sure moms like me and babies like Oaklee get the best possible care. Your donation is funding research to find solutions to the biggest health threats and supporting moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey, especially when things don’t go as planned. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your consideration.

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