Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fasting for Finley

This upcoming Friday I have another appointment with the specialist. We are praying for more good news and continued hope for our little girl.

This journey has not been easy for us at all. There have been so many ups and downs. We still don't have any clear answers. In fact, the range of possible outcomes is so broad that we don't really know what to think.
Through it all our only hope is that the Lord has a plan for us and for her. However, this doesn't mean we are giving up! We are still praying for a healthy daughter. We believe that a miracle can happen.

Daniel and I have decided to pray and fast tomorrow, the whole day before my appointment. We will be bringing all of our hopes, worries, and fervent requests to God in complete belief that HAS heard us and will continue to hear us!

We have also decided that we will pray and fast every Thursday until the baby is born (only 8 weeks!!). This is such a personal spiritual decision, but we believe that God hears the faithful. My family will be joining us in our praying and fasting; we would be honored to have as many people as possible join us in our petition!

"...for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” [Matthew 17:20-21]

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fun in the Fall!

This weekend we took Eli to his first Pumpkin Patch! It was a lot of fun!

We took a hayride out to the patch and spent some time in the field of pumpkins! Eli was so fascinated! He would walk up to a pumpkin, squat, and pat it! He also tried picking up a few of them and was really confused when they were too heavy!

We all picked out a pumpkin for ourselves and by the end of the day Eli kept saying "pupkin, pupkin!" After pumpkin picking we walked around the farm and looked at all of the animals at the petting zoo.

It's really fun to watch Eli explore his world! He loves wandering around and watching/interacting with people. He especially likes older boys and girls, he tries to talk to them and is constantly intrigued by what they are doing! There was one little girl on our hayride who he tried to talk to and kept smiling at, it was adorable!

The next day we took Eli to Trunk or Treat at our church. This year Eli was an owl! I ordered him a hat and sewed "feathers" on to one of his shirts. It was a pretty simple costume, but he looked very cute!

Unfortunately he kept taking his hat off, so most of the time he just looked like a little kid with a weird shirt on!
He was really amused by the other kid's costumes. The two other little ones in our group were monkeys and Eli could not stop staring at them!

It was pretty funny! I think his favorite part of the whole thing was getting a sucker!

Next weekend we plan on carving our pumpkins! It will be interesting to see how Eli likes that!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Testimony

10 weeks ago the doctors told me to prepare for my daughter to die; that she only had about a week left and that her heart was the main concern.
Today I was told that my daughter has a perfect heart muscle with no apparent anomalies.

10 weeks ago the doctors told me that my daughter's heart rate was in the 60's and that she was in heart failure.
Today I was told that my daughter's heart rate is well within the normal range and pumping effectively.

10 weeks ago the doctors told me that my daughter's heart was much too big and that the fluid around her heart was "very concerning".
Today I was told that her heart size could potentially normalize after birth and that the amount of fluid around her heart "was not enough to be of major concern".

Praise God! What a testimony of His power!

No, this doesn't mean we have NOTHING to worry about. However, He has proved that the doctors and the statistics are NOTHING compared to his grace and love.

Today we met with the pediatric cardiologist for a focused ultrasound on Finley's heart, which has been the area of most concern throughout this journey.

The doctor that we saw had NO background information on why we were there or who had referred us, which leads me to the next shocker...
Before really starting the detailed exam he pointed out her position, the location of the placenta, and the fluid. He described the fluid as being "appropriate"!!? What?!? I really wish I would have asked him what he meant and if the fluid level looked normal to him. The very thing that started this horrible roller coaster was "abnormally low fluid".

He then moved on to the heart. He looked at the four chambers, the valves, and the vessels surrounding the heart. He listened to the heart rate in all four chambers and recorded the heart rate as "in the 120's" (normal is 120-140). All in all, he said that the heart muscle was "perfect". There were no structural abnormalities and heart beat sounded great (there was no longer an arrhythmia!). There were also no obvious markers on the heart to indicate a chromosomal disorder. He pointed out the fluid surrounding the heart and said that it wasn't enough to concern him at this point. He also noted the enlarged size of the heart, but was not overly concerned.

He did say that there was some back flow of blood in the chambers. However, he stated that this wasn't due to a heart problem. If anything it is a sign that the heart is working hard and overcompensating for some other underlying problem (which would also be an explanation for the enlargement). He finished the exam with saying, "there are still a lot of unknowns, but what we do know is that there is not a problem with the heart".

The results of this exam left me in a state of shock. This news was totally unexpected and completely the opposite of everything that we had been told up to this point! I asked the doctor if the enlargement of the heart and the fluid would correct itself after birth. He seemed to think that this was highly likely.
I also asked him what would cause the heart rate to stabilize after months of being so low, he had NO explanation. In fact, he tried to brush it off as a "bad reading" or "bad timing". I didn't buy it. It had been in the 60's for months, it wasn't just a fluke reading. I KNOW this for a fact. I even listened with a doppler in my home, it WAS in the 60's and NOW it wasn't....
He had no explanation for me because this is a miracle. Plain and simple.

At this point, Daniel and I really don't know what to think. Of course we are elated! On the other hand, this doesn't mean that Finley doesn't have any other issues and it doesn't mean that she is perfectly healthy, but it is IMPROVEMENT. It is definitely not what the doctors or the statistics pointed to. And we believe that she can keep improving! We believe that we will be able to hold her and love her on this earth. We believe because we have a reason to believe! He is faithful!

Prayers have been ANSWERED! I can not even express how much I feel God's love and grace at this moment in my life. He is listening and He is using Finley in such a special way.

Now what? Now we wait until October 28th when we meet with the specialist again. Hopefully he will have some more good news for us and hopefully we will be able to do the amniocentesis... so we can prove them wrong again :)
Also, I should probably start preparing to have a newborn in my house in just over 2 months!!!

Please keep praying! Please spread the word about our baby and about our miracle! Please use this as a testimony to God's faithfulness.
And finally, please don't tell me I'm strong (after all, I have no other choice right now)... just remember our story and let it speak of HIS strength and power!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smiling for Finley

I can't believe I am typing this update with a smile on my face! It feels surreal.

Today we met with a different MFM specialist for an ultrasound and possible amniocentesis. It was an amazing experience and a complete 180 from the way we have been treated thusfar.
For once Finley wasn't spoken of as if she were a disease or a growth. She was marveled at. The doctors (yes, there were THREE in the room with us) took time to show me her sweet face and to speak of her as if she were a living, breathing child. They handed her back her humanity, what a wonderful gift. They reassured me that this is not a "closed case" and I have hope. I am no longer waiting for her heart to stop beating. We are fighting. The doctors are fighting. Most importantly, SHE is fighting.

Now onto the news you've been waiting for:

Finley no longer has a heart arrhythmia (an abnormal beat). Her heart beat sounds NORMAL. Her heart rate is also back up to the normal range! They measured it three different times and it was consistently above 120. I couldn't believe it when they told me this! Her heart is STILL working, in fact it has IMPROVED! If this doesn't show the power of prayer, then I don't know what does! The doctors gave me no hope for 2 months, yet now she has made progress!

On the other hand, this doesn't mean we are in the clear. Although her heart seems to have stabilized, she still has some pretty critical issues. It appears that her circulation is abnormal. She has some vessels that are narrowed and some arteries that appear to be "going the wrong way". She also has an enlarged umbilical vein.
These circulatory issues could be the underlying cause of the low fluid, enlarged heart, and enlarged placenta that we have seen all along. Now, it also appears as though her spleen and liver are enlarged.
However, instead of these things appearing to be isolated abnormalities as a result of a genetic disorder they may all be connected by this one thing.

When the doctor was finished scanning me, he actually took the time to sit down with us and go over all of this information. I asked him if he agreed with the other specialist in thinking that there is no hope. He did NOT.
Although he recognized that her demise is ONE possibility, he also discussed with us that she could be born in critical condition (in such a case we would need to be prepared for intervention).... but she could also be born much more stable than we have been preparing for.
He wants to make sure that we cover all of our bases before assuming the worst.

The office is scheduling an appointment within the next couple weeks with a team of fetal cardiac doctors to look more closely at her circulation. Hopefully they can give us more answers as far as how these issues will affect her and if there is anything that we can do about them. We are also planning on the amniocentesis at our next visit to rule out chromosomal abnormality.

One very encouraging thing that I took away from this appointment was the doctor DID NOT rule out the possibility of her thriving outside the womb. When a baby is born the heart structure and circulation make several changes upon that first breath of oxygen. There is a possibility that Finley will IMPROVE once she is born. This was the first time in a long time that I had even thought about giving birth to a LIVING baby girl!

Doctors tried to take away our HOPE 2 months ago and we were told to prepare for the worst.

Instead, we have had HOPE in a God who has a plan for us and who has a plan for this special little girl.
I am not going to say that I have not doubted in a miracle, I have. In fact, until today I had lost hope that I would ever hold my baby girl and look into her eyes and see her smile. But I have never lost hope in God's hand being at work. He is faithful, He is present, and I will never doubt that.

Please, continue to pray. Continue to have HOPE for our baby. Lift her up to our God who is faithful even through MY doubt.

Lord we come to You.... and now, with a smile. With tears of joy and a heart of hope.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Eli's First Haircut!

Today I gave Eli his first hair cut! We were going to take him to a salon this afternoon, but I decided that I would give it a try myself!

His hair was growing out the point where it had become a pseudo-mullet, definitely NOT cool.

At first we tried putting him in the tub to distract him, while at the same time getting his hair wet.... yeah, he wasn't happy.
Then we decided to put him in his booster seat and put some food in front of him. Daniel also distracted him with a balloon (still inflated from his first birthday party!). That worked out pretty well! Between the bath and the booster seat, I'd say I did a pretty good job!

I saved one of his little curls and am planning to put it in the baby food jar I saved from his first time eating solids! Look, I am actually being sentimental for once!



I think he looks pretty cute, if I do say so myself!