Friday, November 22, 2013

A New Little One on the Way!

       So! Hello again! First of all, let me start by saying that I am absolutely overwhelmed and humbled by all of your sweet comments and prayers that we've received since we announced our pregnancy a couple of months ago. Many of you seem to be just as excited as we are! A handful of you who I lived and worked with over the last year and a half have witnessed a sort of transformation in me - from putting on a fake smile to genuinely being happy. You've seen me cry, you've seen me get angry at my loss, you've seen me get jealous of others, and you've seen me take my burden and use it for good. No words can thank you enough for your support.

      You may find yourself wondering "How does it feel to be pregnant again after that type of loss?" "What kind of emotions...?" "How does it feel to be expecting another BOY?" Well, let me tell you. We were very adamant to make sure that we did not get pregnant too quickly after losing Lucas. Physically, my doctor told me to wait at least a year to help lower certain risks after having had a c-section. Emotionally, we knew we needed to give ourselves plenty of time to grieve. There is no finish line or time limit when it comes to grief, but there does come a time when it becomes much easier. I personally wanted to make sure that our next baby was in no way a replacement for Lucas...I was afraid of it FEELING like a replacement even if that was not our intent. Turns out, from the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test, I knew that this baby was a completely different individual. As all second time moms do, I'd often compare this symptom and that symptom with my first pregnancy, but still more than capable of understanding that I'm carrying a different individual. So, that was never an issue for. me.

     Seeing that positive pregnancy test...I kind of had a "Here we go again..." feeling. Excitement, anxiety, adjectives that I don't have a big enough vocabulary to describe. It was all there. I was excited to think that maybe I'll be able to bring this baby home. But I was nervous that, well, what if I don't? I am having a little trouble allowing myself to get too excited. I want to shop and plan, but what if I lose this baby too? That is still a real possibility. My heart says go ahead, my head says wait. I don't want to buy anything big until at least 30 weeks. I actually did go straight to the store from my appointment. Bought 2 outfits and little shoes. But that's it for now! I used to go into Lucas' room every day and admire my growing baby stash. And I know what it feels like to have to box it all up. Hurt is not a strong enough word. But, as I type this, I realize I should let myself enjoy this time! With so many complications, this is our last chance. No matter what happens, I am going need to remember this smile I have on my face today. I am so blessed to get the opportunity and I guess I better make the most of it. This brings me to a certain subject. I'll try not to get too long-winded with this, but it's something that people don't usually talk about It has become somewhat of a taboo subject, and it shouldn't be! Let's talk about miscarriage.

       Unless you've had a miscarriage, you probably don't realize how common it truly is. It's so common that I guarantee you know a handful of women who've been through the heartache of a miscarriage and you never knew about it. Why didn't you know about it? Because women aren't "supposed" to talk about it. "Don't tell anyone you're pregnant until 12 weeks in case something happens!" That's the rule right? I had two miscarriages. I missed my period. I took a test. I got a positive. I told my mom and sister. Ryan told his parents. I started having morning sickness. It was our first "try" after deciding to get pregnant again after Lucas. Ryan said "If I got you pregnant on the first try, I deserve a gold medal!" So I went to a trophy shop next door to my work and got him a gold medal. Here's a pic of an excited Ryan accepting his baby-maker award as if he's an Olympic medalist or LeTour De France winner...


      I lost that baby a week later. I was "glad" that it happened quickly rather than weeks down the road like other women I know. Every week gets you more excited. And of course, the further along you are, the more difficult it is physically. Some women even require surgery. So I cried for a while about it, but I accepted it and handled it well, knowing that we obviously don't have any problems conceiving and I can be grateful for that. A couple of months later, it happened again. This time only lasted a few days and to be honest, I felt kind of numb to the feelings having been through worse. My mom and sister were in town (I told them at the airport the day I got a positive). We were so busy, I didn't have time to be sad.

     Anyway...think about this. SO MANY women can't conceive at all! SO MANY women have been through several miscarriages. 8, 10, 12+ weeks into their pregnancies!  For most women, the SECOND you see that positive pregnancy test, you see your whole life with THAT baby. It flashes before your eyes. You look in the mirror and see your growing belly. You imagine holding your newborn for the first time. You look over to the side and see that baby laughing and cooing in a bouncer while you're getting ready for work. You think about the plan the rest of your life with THAT baby in a single split second. And when all that is taken away from you...that whole life you never got to's devastating. No matter how long you were pregnant. What about the women who never get to enjoy a facebook announcement. Who never get to have fun registering. Never get to plan a nursery. Never get to ooh and ahh over adorable tiny clothes. I just want you all to chew on that for a while and say a little prayer the women who have had to say goodbye to something they never had the chance to say hello to.

Ok, moving on....

       So, we're having a boy! I honestly knew it was a boy from the start. I just had an overwhelming feeling that it's a boy. When looking online at clothes and baby gear, I didn't even look at girl stuff unless I forced myself. I just didn't want to look at girl stuff because I knew so deeply that it wasn't. I can't explain it. I would have been extremely happy with a girl...I love the baby dolls, and clothes, and toys, and little kitchen sets. But I also have a huge box of little boy stuff packed away in the garage that would have gone to waste. Again, I say, in no way is this baby a replacement for Lucas, but it's comforting to be able to realize the plans and hopes that we started 2 years ago. We got excited about a little boy and then it was gone... and now we can finally live it out...God willing.

         So what are we going to name this little guy? We can't call him Squishy forever! Although Squishy was growing on me! Squishy Wemyss? No? Everyone, let me introduce you to:


                                                           Andrew Lucas Wemyss


         Let's talk about why we decided on these names. Well, Andrew has been my favorite name since as long as I can remember. Probably sometime in high school when lonely girls name their kids before they ever even have a boyfriend. I know I mentioned it when we were naming Lucas, but I really don't remember why it never made the cut. I DO remember going through a list of over 1000 baby names and we could agree on TWO! Lucas being one of them. So picking out names is not one of our strong points as a couple. So of course Andrew came up again this time. I even had a "presentation", if you will, to convince Ryan that this was the way to go.
#1 Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus Christ. Talk about someone to name your kid after!
#2 He's also known as Saint Andrew...Patron Saint of Scotland. This speaks to Ryan's Scottish heritage which he is quite proud of.
#3 We were married at the home of President Andrew Jackson. A Tennessee guy...need I say more?

In case these arguments weren't convincing enough, I reached a little further...
#4 Andrew Carnegie...born in Scotland, but played a MAJOR role in the history of Pittsburgh
#5 Andrew Mellon...a Pittsburgh guy.

Reaching out even further....
#6 Andrew McCutchen...outfielder for the Pirates

#7 Andy Warhol...Pittsburgh guy
#8 He likes Andy Roddick...

    I don't know about Ryan, but I don't know a lot of Andrew's. Really, just one. Grew up with him...from the first day of Kindergarten...grew up in the same church...graduated high school together. Although I haven't communicated with him, other than Liking a few Facebook statuses, in over 10 years, I happen to know that he has grown into a Christ-centered adult, strong in his faith and a leader in his church. And I'm not saying I'm naming my child after this Andrew (Sorry, Andrew, if you're reading this), but it helps to know that the association I have with the name is so positive and comforting. Nothing is worse than giving your child a name that reminds you of the loser crack-head you went to high school with. Or the person that bullied you and made 6th grade miserable. So Ryan decided he liked the name and didn't have any better ideas. So Andrew it is!

    Now, as for Lucas....It may seem obvious why we chose this name. But there's actually more to it. I was a little skeptic when Ryan first had the idea to use Lucas as the middle name. I wondered if it was wrong, somehow. That's LUCAS' name. This baby is not Lucas. So I thought about it...a lot. Here's what I think:

Lucas was, is, and will always be a huge part of our lives. LUCAS IS OUR SAVING GRACE!!! After we lost him, I really got to questioning my faith. Why God? Why me? I think I covered this in a previous post. I slowly came around and decided that we really needed to go to church. I craved answers and craved to be closer to God. Although, I jokingly said a couple of times "I've got a little boy in Heaven waiting on me! I don't want any lip from Saint Peter when I get there!" So,  last December, Ryan and I went to church for the first time in our marriage. Our eyes were opened. I had been describing my new found faith like this: Lucas was a little light that came into our lives, a little shining light that lit our way back to God, back to church. Without having had and lost Lucas, I don't know that we would have ever gone back to church. I remember Bro Jerry saying during one of his sermons "God only lets you wander so far away from Him before he starts pulling you back in." This sentence plays in my head multiple times a day, every day. Was that Lucas' purpose? To draw Ryan and I closer to God? If so, it worked! Bad things happen to people all the time. We have free will. We can whine about it and get mad at God and turn away from Him for doing this bad thing in our lives. We can get mad and question Him. We can look for answers. We can decide to look to God or turn away. I chose to get answers, look to God for answers, and I believe I found answers. I found my way back. And I can thank my son, Lucas, for that. Come to find out, I just recently learned that the name Lucas actually means "light"! How appropriate.

   Lucas' ashes are sitting a little cross-shaped box on our chest of drawers in our bedroom. His name and dates are engraved on the box. And it also reads " May God bless you and keep you, and may his light shine upon you always." I just bought that box because I thought it was pretty. It had a nice "saying" on it. Not long ago, I got to wondering, is that a bible verse? So i looked it up. Turns out, it's from the OT, Numbers Ch. 6 to be exact. The actual blessing is a little different, but they could only fit so much on the box. So I got to wondering what it's all about. I read the whole chapter.

Disclaimer: I'm not good at explaining things, and I was not lectured on this by a professional, so it may not be completely accurate, but I did a lot of research and this is what I came up with...

Numbers ch. 6 talks about Moses and the Nazirite Vow. It's quite difficult to understand, but here's what I get out of it: To summarize, God instituted this vow as a way for people, anyone, who wanted to be closer to God, who wanted to do something for God, wanted to give all of themselves to God, could do so without having to be part of a certain family lineage. A man or woman could take this vow (or bestow it on their children for life). They separate themselves TO God for a specified amount of time and during this time, they are to devote themselves ONLY to God. Samson, John the Baptist and Paul were all under this vow. Of course, as everything else in the OT, there are all kinds of rules, and rituals, burnt offerings, etc...In the end, God instituted that blessing...May God bless you, keep be a blessing on His people. Basically, anyone who wishes to be closer to God can do so, and he will be blessed. How can this be translated into Christian life? We should all take on something of a Nazirite vow. We should give our all to God. Jesus showed us how to do it. We all know that we aren't supposed to conform the ways of this world. That's how God wants us to be. My little "light"...who lit my path back to God, is in a little box that reminds me that Lucas is God's blessing to me. Lucas got me closer to God, and God promises to bless His people. May Lucas always be my reminder that God is real, and he moves in our lives in ways that pull us back to him...not meant to push us away. I am blessed.

    One day, when Andrew is old enough. We'll tell him about his name. We'll explain who Lucas is and how he changed our lives. We'll use his story to teach Andrew about God's plans for our lives, and his grace and blessings. Without Lucas, we wouldn't have Andrew. Both of our boys are blessings.

      And today, I bought Andrew this. I'm going to have his name put on it. His first Bible :)

    For the last name, Wemyss. Well we chose that because that's our last name. There wasn't too big of a debate about it. ;)

    I'm seeing a group of high-risk OBs this time. So, with Lucas I went into preterm labor at 24 weeks due to placental abruption and probable incompetent cervix No known cause for either one. So these docs are watching out for me. Extra bloodwork, extra testing. I'm having weekly hormone injections...progesterone, which supports a pregnancy...and the idea is that the extra "umph" of the hormone will hopefully prevent my body from going into early labor. I'm also having a lot of ultrasounds. The original plan was to have them every other week starting at 16;  however, at my 16 wk ultrasound, my cervix measured right on the border of "safe" and "not safe". 25mm and up is safe, 24mm and lower is considered weakened or shortened cervix and measures will be taken to prevent labor. I measured at 25mm. The doctor said that even though it is still in the safe zone, being only 25mm at only 16 weeks isn't ideal. They would have liked to see it closer to 30. So we've been doing ultrasounds every week in case I am actively shortening, they'll catch it in time. 16, 17, and 18 week ultrasounds all were the changes. So we're going to do 1.5 weeks, then if that's ok, we'll do 2 weeks. I also have partial placenta previa, which I didn't have with Lucas. It's not causing any problems,  and should actually resolve itself, but the doctors want to keep an eye on it. So while things aren't ideal, Andrew seems to be doing well, and everything is stable for now.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We need to stay positive and strong for each other. We're meeting some people at our church and I just adore them. One of the things we're having trouble with is the "Is this your first?" question. As much as we love to tell people about our son, it makes others feel awkward. Then what typically happens is they feel obligated to say something...usually trying to say something so deep and meaningful and they think it's going to change our lives...and it's usually something stupid. Or we get the, "Oh, my sister's boyfriend's cousin-in-law went through that...blah blah blah..." and turns out it's a completely different situation and the child is a happy healthy 6yo. Well, good for them? BUT, what about when someone who you might get to know down the road asks. A couple of people from our church group asked and we blurted out "Yes, first child, sort of..." with no explanation, so now they don't know what we've been through when it's something that our church family needs to know about us. Or, like the other night, as we're walking out of a restaurant after a girl's night, I meet a girl I hadn't talked to during dinner and she lives in our neighborhood. She asked "the question" and I froze sold. I was like, "well, uhh, umm, yee..noo...No, it not my first, but we won't get into it." Poor thing looked as awkward as could be. So that's something we're working on...gotta figure it out..meeting a lot of new people these days!

I've kept you all long enough. I know it's a novel, I'm sorry. Love to all!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lucas Wemyss Little Loves Fund

Hi Everyone!

I am so excited to announce that I've started a fund of my own in honor of Lucas! To me, this is a way to have a hands-on approach to helping these little babies and their families. Donating to charity is great and wonderful, and I WILL continue to do that, however, this allows me the chance to GO to our local NICU wards and GIVE them items that I hope will help these families and in turn touch the lives of these little babies. I may or may not get to actually meet any of these families, but at least I know that you and I together...and Lucas's life...can do some kind of good for someone who needs it.

(The link to the donation page is at the end of this blog...but it's:

When a family is put in a NICU situation...the NICU and the other people in it is all there is sometimes. Home is not always a short drive away. That hospital is their home. If they are lucky, one parent my be able to stay in a charity house like Ronald McDonald House (and there are others). But as in our case when Lucas was born, all the houses were full. We were clear across the country paying for hotel rooms. Lucas was only with us for 6 days, but often families are in it for the long-haul....months! What if that was us? Enter...this fund.

I seem to want to do a lot with the donations, and I'm not expecting there to be some incredible amount to work with, so I may do something different every year depending on the amount.  Sometimes, I'll make care baskets, sometimes donate items for the NICU itself, donate items to Ronald McDonald House, and of course donate money to March of Dimes. There are PLENTY of possibilities to choose from!

The things I'm looking to provide these families include: gift cards to nearby restaurants, gas cards, calling cards, healthy snack foods, crossword and sudoku puzzles, small journal, sack of change for vending machines, inspirational books, personal care items.
***Those of you who have spent more time in the NICU, PLEASE send me some input on this***

NICU wards need blankets, hats, tiny clothes...they have a list of their own.

Ronald McDonald House needs food, cleaning products, everyday household items, personal care items.

I am so pumped about this. I just feel led by God to do this. I have always had a nagging heart for charity but almost never really do anything about it. That finally changed this year. I'm going to do this and I'd love to see this thing grow into something bigger someday!

As for how Ryan and I are doing...we're good! I blew up at my cousin a couple of weeks ago after she had a beautiful little girl, so things aren't PERFECT with my emotions, but I don't know that it ever will be. We're living in Pittsburgh, PA now. I like this place! We found a church here and it seems to be doing the trick. I had gotten a little Bible-lazy for a bit, but this past week I've started a devotional and a Faith Journal. And oh my goodness...I just encourage everyone to do this! It's wonderful. I pray that I never lose the enthusiasm that I have right now. 

So again, if you have any ideas or tips for me on how I can better help, PLEASE let me know. I pray that any donations the fund receives, may God show me where it is most needed, and I pray that I use it not only to help those in need, but use it to HIS glory!

Lucas Wemyss Little Loves Fund

<3 Jessica

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Has it really been a YEAR!?

Hi family & friends!
      I know it has been quite a while since I've written a new post! Some people have asked me to continue to write, but I think if I sat here and thought about Lucas non-stop often enough to keep up this blog, I might just go crazy!Long story short, I'm feeling so much better now and just haven't had much to say. But now that we're coming up on a year since Lucas was born, I'm feeling a little ball of emotions growing inside my heart. I've got a few things I'd like to share with everyone. This is kind of a collection of random thoughts and matters I've been dealing with....they may jump around a little bit.

      So over the last 9 months or so, I've had a lot of healing going on. The bad days are becoming less frequent, and for the most part I'm so happy to just feel happy! Happy, happy, happy! (Duck Dynasty moment!) The bad days usually just come out of nowhere. There's no rhyme or reason for them. I just wake up, and no matter what I do or how busy I stay at work, I can't get Lucas off my mind. I replay my pregnancy and his little 6-day life in my head over and over again. It's exhausting! I usually just slip in the bathroom and work and cry a little...let it out...and I'll feel a little better. Sometimes I start to worry if I should be feeling that way almost a year later. But I know it's okay. Grief does not have a finish line. It's a process...a journey really. I saw something the Grieving Mothers Facebook page that I really like. It says: 
"You don't get over it, you just get through it...You don't get by it because you don't get around it....It doesn't get better, it just gets different...Grief puts on a new face every day."
I find this to be very true! And I know that I'm okay because I can look at babies and just smile and look forward to having one of my own. That wasn't possible last year. There was a precious little baby girl a few pews in front of us at church this morning...I thought of Lucas of course, but in a good way. I can even talk about him a little better now. I WANT to talk about him! I may even talk about him when it's really not necessary. But hey, that's progress. I need a construction sign on my head "Pardon Our Progress". 

I may have mentioned this in my last blog or facebook or something...can't remember. I hit a personal low over the summer. June, July...the shock and numbness started to wear off. The grieving process is the strangest thing! You would think the hardest part is immediately afterward and things just get better from there! But we have this pesky little coping mechanism that "protects" our emotions at first, but it wears off after a couple of months. Reality starts to set in. Time slows down. The beginning was hard...don't get me wrong. I mean, we had to come home from California one short, walk into our house with reminders of Lucas everywhere. A friend offered to clean things out before we came home, but I didn't want that. I thought it would be better to see it. Not so sure it was! There was my Snoogle (pregnancy pillow) on our bed, pregnancy books on the dresser, Lucas's room was already full of toys, clothes, and I already bought his bedding. I couldn't even go in that room. I couldn't go out of the back porch where I would come home from work every day and just sit and relax, and that's when he liked to kick around the most. It was our bonding time. Anyway, like it was saying, you would think things would get better and keep getting better. They didn't. Three months later, I had completely shut down and shut out Ryan. I didn't want him to touch me, I didn't want to touch him. I didn't want to talk. I can even understand how people become alcoholics after something like this! I discovered a wonderful thing called WINE, and I just wanted to be drunk and live in my own little world in my head. I wanted to be someone I'm not. Luckily, I don't think I took it as far as I could have or even as far as I wanted to. I didn't care anymore. But I knew that I have a husband who loves me and I was fighting this internal battle between "I don't give a crap" and "don't let your husband down". It came down to a tearful one-sided fight where Ryan basically had to break me down. I knew what I was acting like, but I didn't care. It wasn't until I realized how bad I was hurting him that I really got the picture. I had to "snap out of it" or we weren't going to make it. I looked into counseling and by the time I was ready to make an appointment, I had worked so hard on my own that I never went. I just needed that VERBAL slap in the face to pull me back to reality.

    I've slipped a couple of times though. There have been times since that I've read something or was just feeling bad, and someone has said something to me, like "You shouldn't be questioning this now." Or making me feel bad for still being upset about losing my son. Researching children like Lucas isn't always a good thing either. One time, I read something about a family who had a disabled child who doctors encouraged the parents to let go, but they said, "No, we're taking this child home, no matter how difficult, and we're going to love it because that's the right thing to do!" Oh, I fell hard! That very thing was my every instinct and everything I fought with in the NICU! Lucas was going to be vegetable, to put it plainly. We had to let him go...for HIM! But it had me questioning that decision...all of it! I was having a hard time and Ryan actually said something that hurt my feelings. He didn't mean to, and after we discussed it, he understood me and I understood him.But I was so upset and felt alone. I turned to my friend Kelly who went through the same type of loss...times 3! She said (something to the effect of) "YOU are Lucas's one else in this world is Lucas's mother...therefore, no one else knows how it feels to be Lucas's mother." She's right...not even Ryan, not even here. NO ONE has the right to tell me how I should or should not feel about losing my son. She's been such a blessing to me. She's there with support and answers if I need her. Sometimes I like to think our boys all know each other in Heaven :)

     I still have a hard time when I hear of a woman having a baby who, in my opinion, shouldn't be having a baby. It's really easy to not get pregnant! I did it for years! That's where some jealousy comes in. Ryan I did it right, so to speak. We dated for 4 years, we got married, we waited until we were emotionally ready, financially ready. And look what happened. So then I see this young girl, unmarried, no job, no money, on Medicaid. And here were are, with great jobs (paying into that Medicaid for that young girl btw) paying for our own health insurance every month, we lose our child and still ended up having to pay upwards of 15K for medical expenses. And that young girl and her baby are more than likely going to be just fine and have her baby for free/little to no cost. It's not fair! Now, I know that opens up a whole can of political worms! But here's what I've recently learned. I've accepted God's plan for us. That young woman having that baby...that was God's plan for HER! If I trust his plan for me, I need to trust his plan for her. It's difficult, but I try not to be angry or jealous. All I can do is accept it and pray for her. Maybe this baby is the best thing to happen to her. This story of the young girl is a true story and it has opened my eyes. It has been a lesson, for sure! 

     Ryan and I finally started going to church about 4 months ago. We had been talking about it for years, but Sunday morning comes....the bed is more inviting. Well, after losing Lucas I had questions. I needed answers. Why me? What did I do wrong? Why is God punishing me? I felt that if I were closer to God, I would know WHY this happened to me. I started to have an URGE to go to church, so one day I told Ryan "We're going." Period. We found a church that we absolutely love! Very quickly, I felt a change in myself. Now, I'm saved and baptized. So is Ryan. But I've never tapped into my faith. I never picked up a Bible and actually read it. It had been YEARS since I went to church. But once we got to going, I started to get it! I began to CRAVE the Bible. I read it at home, I read it on my phone at work. I started questioning things and finding answers. There's something at work here! What if everything that happened with Lucas was to make me and Ryan get closer to God? I know for a fact that if we're blessed enough to have another child, we're going to raise that child in a Godly home. I'm a different person, spiritually, than I was before. Maybe we needed that! Maybe losing Lucas was the only way to get us there. There's a song we sing for invitational sometimes. It goes:

All I've got...All I am.
All my dreams...All my plans
I'm holding back...I'm holding nothing back from you.
Whatever it takes, I'll trust you completely.
I'm here in your hands if you need to break me. 

It wasn't until the 2nd or 3rd time we sang that song that it just hit me one day. God had to break me! Now it's my move! I've got to do better! For Jesus. For myself. I've got a little boy in Heaven waiting on me. I don't want any lip when I get there!
      God has his reasons for doing what he does. I feel that Ryan and I are a stronger couple now. If we can get through this, nothing else can touch us!  I can thank God AND my son for that. Ryan told me not long ago that he felt guilty. Like losing Lucas was somehow his fault. We made the decision to conceive a child, we tried for him. But when I told Ryan that I was pregnant, he was only half-heartedly happy. It wasn't until just before we lost him that he actually got it. And he fell in love with his son. He thought, what if we lost Lucas because HE wasn't ready to be a father? He's ready now. I'm more ready now. It worked God! Now can we have a baby?!

        On another note, Ryan and I are about to relocate to Pittsburgh! Boy, that's a long way from home! I think about how I grew up in the country...with a gravel driveway, a tire swing hanging from a giant sweet gum ball tree. I fell asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs, and often to the sound of cows giving birth in my backyard! Okay, it was a pasture...just beyond my backyard. What I'm getting at is I can't believe my children, assuming God will bless us so, are going to be "Yankees"! I just pray that we're making the right decision. I think we chose right and I'm so proud of my husband for getting this job. It's a promotion within his company...Pittsburgh is their corporate center. He'll be doing a job that he's actually interested in and knows he can excel in. To put this opportunity into perspective for you, his boss's boss's boss is the CEO of ALCOA. He's so excited and I'm happy for him.  As for me, it looks like I may be able to work for the transcription service that my current job uses (I work front office for a podiatrist). I asked the owner about working for her and she said she's always looking for help and she'll get back with me on the details. Hopefully that works out! I won't have to worry about the fact that when we get pregnant again, I'll be on bed rest for half/most of the pregnancy. It would be perfect for us, but we'll see. We were just saying the other night that maybe a change of scenery will be a good thing when it comes to getting ready for a new little one.
    I'll be doing another blog in 2 weeks. Lucas's birthday is on April 27th. We're spending that whole week at Disney World and then coming home on his birthday. We're planning to do a "birthday balloon" for Lucas. We're going to write a letter to Lucas and send it up on a balloon....just a symbol of it being sent up to Heaven. I've already started my letter. I'm gonna need at least 3 balloons to get my letter off the ground! I just can't stop talking to him! I've got so much to say to him. My original plan was to let it go AT Disney, but it's actually a Florida state law that you can't KNOWINGLY let one go. I think Disney has their own rules as well. So, we'll either get a Mickey balloon there and bring it home or buy one here and let it go in the privacy of our own back yard. So I plan to put my letter to Lucas on here for you all to read if you'd like. I don't know about Ryan's though. I'll take pictures too! I plan to go through his memory box on his birthday. I've kept everything. All of the sympathy cards you sent us, donations you made to charities, blankets you  made for him....EVERYTHING. They will forever be appreciated. And thank you all so much for your continued prayers over this past year. You don't know how much it has meant to us both. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Aftermath

So, here we are about 6 weeks after the worst day of our lives. There have been many people (including strangers who've just happened upon this blog) emailing me with their thoughts and condolences and let me start by saying that I appreciate them all! Forgive me if I didn't respond to you, but just know that we thank you for your kind words and support. And what a helpful bit of therapy this blog has been.

Many of you have asked for an update on how my husband and I are doing, so I thought I'd share that with you and share what I've learned over the last few weeks. I've been reading a book called "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart". It's helped tremendously by reminding me that I'm not alone. There are stories of parents who have gone through the exact same kind of loss. Every now and then I come across a line that really speaks to me and allows me to think of my situation in a different light and calms me. A lot of you came across this page because you've gone through something similar yourselves. It amazes me to realize how many people have been through this. So many (too many), but somehow, I still feel very alone in this. I remember the day Lucas died as we were leaving the hospital, I saw everyone hustling around going on about their usual business and I just wanted to scream out "Don't you people know what just happened?! Don't you know what we just had to go though? Why isn't the world stopping for us?!" I had no idea how I was going to get through the first night, much less weeks after. Turns out, the whole "Fake It 'Til You Make It" concept actually does work. At least for short period of time. If you say "I'm okay" enough times to the 50 million people that ask how you are doing, it sort of works like a daily affirmation and you start to believe it whether you really feel okay or not. Before you know it, you've accidentally buried your true feelings deep inside because the actual answer to the "How are you doing?" question should have been, "I feel horrible. I just lost my son. How do you think I'm doing?"  But that wouldn't be very polite, would it? Also, having to see the puzzled look on people's faces when they had no idea what had happened and suddenly realize that I'm no longer pregnant when they were sure I wasn't due until August. So lesson #1...learning how to answer questions in a civilized manner without alienating everyone we know.

Ryan and I have great family support and encouragement from friends and coworkers, but this struggle is ultimately our own, and we're learning to cope with it on our own. Lucas was our baby. He was ours to raise and teach and watch grow. But I guess in the end, he was just a "loaner" from God. He was sent to us for a short time for some reason that only God knows right now. He's already made one difference. My husband and his brother hadn't spoken in over 2 years. They're talking on a regular basis now.  Maybe Lucas's purpose for me will be apparent someday.  But until then, I ask myself 50 times a day "Why me?" Why not this pregnant lady, or that one? Why not that girl that got knocked up and doesn't even take care of herself? Why does she have a healthy baby? So, lesson #2...learning how to hide the fact that I'm jealous and resentful toward every pregnant women and new mother I come across. I know, I's a horrible thing to admit, and believe me when I say that my innocent little conscience took a beating on this one.  But it's a normal reaction. It's part of the grieving process and I'm working on it. I'm angry. Angry that this happened to me. I want to find someone to blame so bad, but the truth is there isn't anyone I can point the finger at, because this was going to happen no matter what. So what do you do with anger that you can't direct at anyone? Answer: You still direct it at someone. Myself and my husband in this case. And what happens when you do that? It makes you shut out the world, not care about a thing, and makes your husband think you don't love him anymore. 

This leads me to lesson # 3. How to keep sadness and anger from corrupting our relationship. The initial numbness and shock are starting to wear off and reality is starting to set in. Well, for me at least. I can't speak for him. I seem to do okay when I'm at work. It's easier to turn it off, so to speak, and run away from it. But the minute I walk through the front door at the end of the day, I can't run from it anymore. It's real and it happened and there's nothing I can do to fix it. This is when the sadness and anger get the best of me and I just want to shut everything out...including my husband, apparently. I had moments where I would lash out at him, even moments where I didn't want to be around him at all. I just hope he understands that this feeling is going to rise and fall for a while and I'm just trying my best to stay ME through all this. I told my husband the other day that it's almost as if I don't want to be me anymore. I want to reinvent and be someone new. I have no idea what this feeling means. Seems a little too deep to try to interpret without the help of a trained therapist, so I usually just sweep this emotion under the rug and leave it alone. Hopefully it will manifest into something positive. We ultimately came to an unspoken agreement that we HAVE to continue to talk about how we feel. I HAVE to let myself cry when I need to. Don't shut down. Let it come out even though it hurts and it's easier to just ignore it. It's like a slow poison and I can feel it eat at me when I don't let it out. I've got to learn to tune into this better. But I do want my husband to know that he means the world to me and that no matter how distant I may seem, I love you and I'm not going anywhere.

Lesson # 4. Don't be ashamed of the way I was feeling during a nightmarish situation. Feeling disconnected with my son, feeling like I wasn't being mother I should be.  I still struggle with these same thoughts I had the day Lucas died. These emotions are getting really old and I wish I knew how to come to terms with them. They're going to take a while. Did we do the right thing? What if this? What if that? Why didn't I hold him longer while I had the chance? Why didn't I sing to him? Why didn't I talk to him more? Why didn't we spend more time at the NICU? Why did I not call every 10 minutes to check on him through the night? My book had some reassuring lines about this issue that go something like this. I did the best I could do and made the best decisions I could make for my son in an IMPOSSIBLE situation. I did my absolute best. Holding him with his breathing tube was supposed to be our time to let him FEEL our love. I wanted him to FEEL that we love him and to KNOW what love is. I couldn't hold him very long. I was 2 seconds away from changing my mind. I was absolutely in love with my baby boy. I had to stop. But still, I regret not holding him for an hour. I pray that he felt our love somehow. This is probably one of the things that bothers me the most. I felt like a horrible mother because I didn't call all day, every day to check on him while I was an hour away. I didn't sit by his side for hours on end. (maybe I did...things happened in the blink of an eye, it's hard to gauge). I couldn't be the perfect mother because I COULDN'T be the perfect mother. I WAS an hour away. I knew they would call me if something was wrong. We had 2 other people and one car and a laundry list of things to do and arrangements to make that just didn't make staying at the hospital from dawn to dusk possible.  I have a legitimate, understandable answer for every single question that plagues me. I answer these questions in my head over and over again every single day. When it's all said and done, it all comes around to "I did the best I could do." My head knows it. It's just hard to make the heart believe it. I think back to when we drove to the hospital. I was sure that it was nothing. Sure that I'd just overdone it on the trip. I'd be out in a few biggie. We have a picture Ryan took of me not long after we got there. I'm laying in the hospital bed with the monitor hooked up and I'm smiling. Completely unaware that things were about to go extremely wrong. I hate that picture. And then I think about the very moment that Dr. King stood there and explained to us that we were going to deliver then and there. Without even knowing details of the prognosis of a 24 wk preemie or the chance of survival, my heart said FIGHT...SAVE HIM! But in a little corner of my mind, there was always a little voice saying "You're not going home with your little boy." I tried to tell that little voice to shut up, but as the hours passed after his birth and he was gone to San Francisco, I began to feel very disconnected from him. Now that it's all said and done, I realize that I was subconsciously saying goodbye before I ever said hello. Maybe that was good thing in the end. Kind of like a head-start. I don't think that affected my decision, but I think it helped me somehow come to terms with the whole situation. Maybe even made it easier.

I wish I could say that I've learned some profound and meaningful life lesson through all of this. But I don't think that's ever going to be the case. I'm just working on learning how to move on. Ryan and I are able to try again in the future. I'll need to see a high-risk obstetrician and take some extra precautions to keep this from happening again because I am at higher risk for repeat placental abruption. We also have to wait a year because I had a c-section. As much as I would love to try now, I know it would be a mistake physically and emotionally. So, this next year is our chance to get anything we need to get out of our systems (which we had done before, but we can do it again I guess.) We've got another year to not have to worry about middle of the night diaper changes and feedings. We can still go wherever we want, whenever we want. Go out and get drunk with friends without feeling guilty.  I guess we'll just focus on each other and we're going to start going to church again.

Next week will present a new challenge. We had Lucas cremated and his ashes were supposed to be sent to our house. So, we've waited and waited and he's still not home. Ryan contacted the funeral home in California and finally heard back. Since shipping ashes across the country is not the usual protocol, there must have been some confusion and they were sent back to the funeral home. We were getting very worried, but at least we know where he is now. He should come home next week some time. I feel so insensitive as I think to myself  "Any day now, my son will be waiting for us in a box on our doorstep." What an odd sentence. But as odd as it sounds, I want my son here. I feel like maybe I'll feel his presence if his ashes are with me. Maybe that's just a foolish illusion. I know it's not HIM the way I wanted to have him home, as a baby. But in a way, it really is him. We will be more at peace when our whole little family is here. I bought a beautiful container for his ashes. It's a silver plated cross shape. The lid is a cream marble design and in the middle there is a silver heart surrounded with rhinestones. It has Lucas's name and dates engraved on it. The cross reads, from top to bottom, "May God bless you and keep you and may his light shine upon you always." Rather appropriate, I thought.

Thank you, everyone, again for all your kind words and prayers. It's been rough, and so far we're doing as well as can be expected. There have been quick mentions of counseling, but as of now, we're going to try to handle this on our own. I plan to start a team in Lucas's honor and collect donations for the local March of Dimes event this fall. I don't plan to do anymore posts. I hope I never have to. Please say a quick prayer while you're thinking about it that we don't. Thank you.

Jessica Wemyss

Friday, May 4, 2012

Heaven Has New Angel

Thank you all so much for your thoughts, prayers, and offers to help us out during this difficult time. Lucas Ryan Wemyss passed away around 4pm on May 3rd, 2012. He was 6 days old. The time I spent with him, however short, was absolutely precious.

I had left off 3 days ago, the day before we were to meet with all of Lucas's doctors to discuss his treatment and prognosis. He was of course having a lot of "preemie problems" that virtually all  24-weekers (as they say in the NICU) have. Problems regulating his temperature, blood sugar, oxygen, blood pressure...basically everything. Every organ system is immature and needed help to function. Wednesday night was a particularly bad one for him. He was constantly having trouble with just about everything. They spent all night just adjusting up and adjusting down and ultimately ended up having to do another blood transfusion, putting him back on his blood pressure meds, upping his oxygen again, started antibiotics, among many other things. An echo of his heart also indicated that he had PDA. The heart of a fetus in the womb has a different structure that allows the blood to bypass the lungs since they are not breathing in air. After birth, this hole is supposed to closed up. In preemies, this hole is, of course, still open and can cause problems. It can be treated by medications or surgery. We didn't discuss this too much at the meeting because the brain bleeds were more of a problem than anything.

 About those...There are 4 grades of these bleeds (known as IVH ...intraventricular hemorrhage). Grade 4 being the worst. Ryan could tell you details about it and what that actually means down to every last definition. He did a lot of research about it to try to understand what happened to our son. I won't get into that. Bottom line...very very bad. Lucas had two grade 4 IVH's (originally we were told 3 and 4, but the neurologist actually said it was more like two 4's).  They went on to talk about what that would mean for Lucas's future. Now, I know that doctors are not always right...I know that they can not look into the future and give us a 100% guarantee about anything. I know several of you told me stories of other premature babies who made it and were fine. I don't know anything about whether those babies had the same severity of bleeding that Lucas did. Only a neurologist can make that determination. And there is a HUGE difference when comparing a 24 weeker with, say, a 28 weeker. Any extra time in the womb makes a BIG difference as to the outcome of the child. That being said, understand that just because you knew a friend of a friend who had a preemie...blah blah blah. That doesn't mean a thing. Each baby is different. Each family is different. All we could do is listen to our doctors and decide whether or not to trust their expert opinions. We spent a lot of time talking with them and we do trust their opinion. I work with doctors all the time...I've learned to put trust in them. Again, they can not predict the future. What they can do is use their many years of experience and knowledge to help them determine what is most likely to happen. They see the history of a baby, they see the images and scans, they see what these babies must endure, and they see some of these babies come back years later and witness the end result. They told us flat out that he had severe brain damage. They said he WILL have (with no doubt) severe disabilities in the form of or similar to cerebral palsy. While they can not pinpoint exactly every problem, they assured us that he will eventually lose the movement in his legs and be wheelchair bound. Likely lose the use of his arms as well. Mental retardation. Other possible outcomes ON TOP OF those included blindness, speech impairment, seizures, heart and lung problems, among other things. He would need constant care and would always have various problems. While the degree in severity can differ, we were able to get at least a "ballpark figure" of what we were looking at. I mean, are we looking at occupational and speech therapy and special schools? Or are we looking at 24 hour care by myself or by a nurse to do everything...feed him, bathe him, change diapers for the rest of his life? Will he ever be able to take care of himself and eventually maybe even learn to live independently? The answer was no. He would need constant care for the rest of his life.

We next talked about our care options for Lucas. One option was of course to continue treating Lucas and keep going down this road as long as we could and hope for a chance that he comes home someday. Another option was to sign a DNR. They mentioned that there is always a possibility that he may never even code at all. This NICU is considered one of the best in the 15 infact. They have some of the best doctors and very sophisticated equipment and are more capable of keeping babies alive than other NICU's. They typically catch problems before they ever become a problem and allow a code. Being less than a week old, who's to say what kind of problems we would have run into down the road (more IVH's, seizures, infections, bowel perforations, the heart problem, so on). Maybe the machines could have kept him alive no matter how sick...maybe not. That was one part of what made all this so hard...not knowing. All that being said, a lot or  most doctors won't give you an opinion on what they think you should do. But these doctors actually felt so strongly in their predictions that they felt comfortable giving us their recommendation. They both said that they would recommend a "redirection of care". Meaning that we take Lucas off his IV's and breathing tube and make him comfortable and let him pass peacefully. This was the hardest thing I've ever had to hear and think about.

The doctors walked out of the room and Ryan and I both absolutely lost it with sadness. We cried hysterically. We'd just sat through an extremely difficult conversation and were faced with an IMPOSSIBLY tough decision. I can not tell you how much we struggled with this decision. It was not a quick and easy decision by any means. We discussed our thoughts at length with each other as well as with our social worker Suzanne, and the chaplain Judy. I personally struggled with the decision not only as a mother of a handicapped child, but also in the aspect of what is right or not right in God's eyes. Upon speaking with Judy, she said something that helped a little. She said she believes that God would LOVE that fact that I AM struggling with the decision and that I should focus on that. I also struggled with guilt and feelings of selfishness. It took a lot of talking to my husband and even some to our social worker to help me think through these racing, jumbled up thoughts and emotions in order to find my true feelings.

In the end, we did decide to let Lucas go. I did not want to see my son have to live a life where he can't run with friends, play sports, and just be a normal little boy. What kind of life is that? If we so chose, I could have taken care of my baby boy, no matter how difficult, I could have. And I would have loved him with all my heart. It would have put a lot of strain on our little family...financially, emotionally, yes...and I didn't want that either. But what I couldn't stand the thought of is 5, 10 years from now, looking at my little boy and knowing that he can't live the life that he deserves. If they had told us that there was some chance at a normal life, or at least somewhat normal...something to hold on to that would make us think Lucas could someday be a happy child even with health problems...I would not be sitting here typing and crying and missing my baby boy. I would be sitting at the NICU watching him and saying "What can we do now to fix this? Because I'm going to take my baby home."  That part just wasn't in the cards for us. There was just too much brain damage...too much of a chance that he would not be happy with that kind of life.

I had a hard time deciding whether or not to tell you all that we had this decision to make, or to just keep it to ourselves and have everyone continue to believe that he passed without a choice. Many of you keep saying how much of a fighter he was and how he just couldn't fight anymore. I found that was bothering me so much because I believe he may have still had some fight left in him and I felt like I had cheated him out of trying and taken that fight away from him. In fact, yesterday I had to pull the doctor aside again and ask him again and get assurance from him again about his opinion of Lucas's future. I guess I had a hard time believing it the first time I heard it. He said again, and more clearly this time, that being a father himself, this is the decision he would make for his own children. In continuing my conversation with him about the difficult night prior, I was reminded that his fight is a hard one and a long one...and to get to what? Another long and hard fight. Sure, maybe he still had some fight left in him but what's wrong with taking that burden off of him? I didn't think of it that way until I talked with someone today who's been right where I am and faced with the same decisions. I certainly trust and respect her thoughts and advice. She has been such a help and I'm so glad she has allowed me to confide in her. She told me that I didn't take away his fight. I gave him a life of no pain. Eternal life. She said that I'm a hero for it. You know who you are, so thank you again for those words. It helps tremendously.

So, on Thursday. We got up early and made our way to the hospital. I spent a few hours by his side just watching him and praying. He kept stretching his little arms out,covered in bandages and tubes, but adorable nevertheless. Stretching out his little bruised up legs. We had a lot of fun over the past few days talking about his feet. He had his Daddy's feet...down to the tiniest feature. When we were good and ready, we first had them take him out of his isolette with his breathing tube. The hospital offered us a professional photographer at no cost to come capture a few moments for us. I'm so glad she did. I will treasure those pictures forever. I sat with him in a rocking chair. I was very overwhelmed when she first laid him in my arms. It was both an incredibly wonderful feeling, while also being completely heartbreaking. I rocked him for a few minutes and decided that I couldn't do it any longer because I was becoming blind with love for my baby boy, and for a minute I started to forget why we had made this decision. Next, we waited in a private room with a hospital bed that I laid in to be comfortable. They brought him to me, all wrapped up in warm blankets, but no more breathing tube. I absolutely could not believe what I was doing. I just couldn't believe it. But I was doing it. We sat there and cried, and just stared at his tiny, tired, beautiful face. The chaplain was in the room and she said some beautiful words and prayers. My mom was also with us. I don't know how long we were in there. It felt like forever, but also not nearly enough time all at once. Lucas passed away very quietly and peacefully in my arms with his daddy by our side. We said our goodbyes and gave him kisses and it was over. They gave us our pictures, and a keepsake box with his blanket, locks of hair, casting of his feet, footprints, thermometer, tiny blood pressure cuff that could fit around my finger, among other things. We gathered our emotions and left the hospital. That was the story of Lucas Wemyss and how he changed us forever.

We are still in CA for a few more days. I'll be able to fly home soon. We've left the option open to have more children in the future. It's going to be a while before we're ready. But now, more than ever, we both want a baby who is happy and healthy. This is the hardest thing we've ever had to do and, I hope, will ever have to do. We still talk about him a lot and will continue to do so. What a blessing he has been. He has opened our eyes and made a difference in a way that we couldn't even forsee. We are having him cremated so that we can keep him with us. We decided that every year on his birthday, which happens to be the day after our anniversary, we will make it a point to take a trip together to celebrate Lucas. Maybe we'll find a special place to scatter his ashes someday. Please continue to keep Ryan and me in your prayers as we try to carry on with our lives. Thank you.

Jessica Wemyss

Monday, April 30, 2012

Everyone Is Hanging In There

First, I'll fill you in on what I've been up to, as well as my husband and his parents. As odd as it sounds, laying around in the hospital doing nothing is somehow very time consuming. I haven't had much time to update you all, so this will cover the last couple of days.

 I was offered the option to be discharged on Sunday, less than 48 hours after the c-section. They don't typically let you do that, but my doctor was so understanding and he knew that I wanted to get to Lucas as soon as I could. But as much as I wanted to be with Lucas, I decided to stay another day in the hospital because they didn't get me up and walking until after 7pm Sat night and I just didn't think I would have the strength to make the trip all the way to San Francisco (an hour away) much less get around a busy hospital. I made the right choice. It was difficult even a day later. On top of the pain and frustration of recovering from a c-section, I'm also trying to pump breast milk for Lucas (TMI? Sorry...but it's the most natural and best thing I can do for my son right now). My body wasn't ready to produce this milk quite yet, so I'm basically forcing it to. Every tiny bit I can get, we save and take to the NICU for them to freeze. When Lucas is ready for it (hopefully soon) it will be there and ready for him. That continues to be quite an "adventure".  Ryan's parents have been so supportive. They got a hotel room about 30 mins from Napa while I was in the hospital. We only have one rented car for all of us right now, so they stayed in the hotel and Ryan spent part of the days with them running errands, and making arrangements/plans, and then he would spend the nights and mornings with me in the hospital. They are staying here in California until Thursday to see that Ryan and I get settled in somewhere long term. They've been such a help. Ryan has absolutely been AMAZING during all of this. I don't know to put into words how lucky I am to have him by my side right now. We seem to be on the same page with our plans and emotions and he's giving me all the support and love I need while I'm trying to recover. I love him more than ever. 

Lucas did pretty well in the NICU the first couple of days. They needed to draw some blood from him since of course they have to test about a billion things. Then they ended up having to give him more blood shortly afterward. He handled it well. He did very well on the breathing tube for the first couple of days. They weaned it down to the lowest setting possible and he was doing so well they decided to pull the tube and put him on the cpap mask instead which is a way to help his breathing, but it's a much less invasive method. This was set at about 35% oxygen. They also weaned down his dopamine (medication responsible for maintaining his blood pressure) and he did well without that. His stats did drop from time to time, which is to be expected, but they didn't have trouble resolving it when it happened. They do ultrasounds often on these tiny babies because they are so fragile that they can develop bleeds very easily. The first ultrasound was clear.

Sunday, I received a call from the NICU for my permission to place a PICC Line. He had a few IVs that were inserted into extremely small vessels and those would wear out very quickly. A PICC Line is similar to an IV but it is inserted through his upper arm and went almost to his heart. This is a way to deliver the vital nutrients and things in a better way. I don't always understand the exact explanations of these things, and as scatter-brained as I am right now, I forget very quickly after it's explained to me...but I think I got pretty close. They did have to adjust this PICC Line placement once as well.

Today, Monday the 30th, I learn that they had to put his breathing tube back in last night. His stats just dropped too much and he needed the help again. Anytime they do a procedure on him and stimulate him too much (preemies in general) they tend to not be as stable afterwards. He is, however, still off of his BP meds and holding steady for now.

We finally made it San Francisco this afternoon after leaving Napa. I was extremely nervous about seeing Lucas. I almost felt like I didn't WANT to see him because I knew it would be scary and emotional. I tend to not want to deal with things like that and just sort of shut down. But I knew I had to and I knew I need to be strong for my son. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life...seeing my son hooked up to so many tubes and machines. He was so so so tiny...tinier than I expected. So tiny it scared me. I broke down several times just looking at him. His little body was almost all the way covered up. I could see part of his legs, a tiny hand, tiny feet (he totally has his daddy's feet and that's so cute). His whole face and head was covered because his bed is next to the window and he's not a fan of the sunlight. And too bad his little eyes are still fused shut because being on the top floor of the hospital, he has one of the best views of the city! He's a little squirm worm for sure...I guess he's stronger than he looks because he's moving around all over the place. I was allowed to put my hands into his incubator and gently rest them on his legs and head. I barely grazed him...I was just too scared to hurt him. I did touch his hand to see if he would grab on (he grabbed daddy's finger before leaving Napa), but I had no such luck today. Earlier in the week, we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ryan and I bought him a big stuffed sea otter, and Gayle and David bought him a smaller one. The whole time I was laying in the hospital, I kept that little otter on me to give it my scent. I carefully and nervously got to put that little otter into his incubator :)

Then we met and spoke to one of the doctors taking care of him. He told us pretty much the same things we already knew. But he did break some bad news to us. This morning, they did another ultrasound on his head to check for bleeds. This was prompted by another drop in stats which forced them to have to give him more blood. They did find two bleeds on his brain. One on the right, and one on the left. They are grades 3 & 4 (the worst kinds). These bleeds can have some very serious effects on his development. Anything from simple speech or motor difficulties to mental retardation. They also did an echocardiogram of his heart before we left because he has a heart murmur. This is a common problem as I understand, but it must be closely watched because it does cause serious problems. We do not yet have the results of the echo yet.

Tomorrow, we are to have a meeting with several people all at once to discuss Lucas's care. This will include the NICU doctor, neurologist, a social worker, cardiologist (I believe) and we will basically sit down and talk about the bleeds on the brain, the heart murmur, other potential problems, plans of action for his care....everything. I'm not looking forward to this meeting because I know it's going to include some very tough and sensitive subject matter. Especially hearing about the bleeds from the neurologist and what outcomes we may be facing. But this is our life for the next few months if God sees fit to keep Lucas in our lives. We've heard so many success stories that raise our hopes and spirits, and then we immediately . Sometimes we just don't know what to think or feel. We remain hopeful, scared, confused, and mostly overwhelmed by the thought of our son laying in a little incubator, surrounded by strangers, fighting for his life every second while we try to continue on with our lives the best way we know how.

I'm not only using this blog to share with you all that happens with Lucas to keep you up to date on his care and progress, but I've found, just by typing this post today, that it really helps me get out my thoughts and emotions...almost a sort of therapy for me.  Again, I am so thankful for my husband. I would be absolutely lost right now without him. He will have to go back to Georgia before too long to take care of work and our home, so I've got to get myself together pretty quick. For now, the plan is for him to stay here with me and Lucas as long as he can. At least two weeks because I will need his help while I'm still recovering from surgery. For now, until Thursday while we're working out other arrangements, we are sharing a hotel room with Ryan's parents, about 30 mins away from the NICU.

Thank you all so much for your kind words and prayers. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and send up a little prayer anytime it crosses your mind. Big day tomorrow...I'll keep everyone updated the best I can.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lucas's First Day

Hello Everyone,

I decided to start this blog for my family and friends who have been so caring and supportive during this hard time. Our first child, Lucas, was born prematurely on April 27th 2012. I was only 24 weeks into my pregnancy. I am currently still in the hospital recovering, so I am on some pretty strong medications...I apologize for my grammar in advance.

Just to give you a quick background of who we are, Ryan and I live in Warner Robins, GA. Ryan is from TN and I am from AL and that is where our immediate families live currently. Ryan is a mechanical engineer, and I am a medical assistant. We just celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary the day before Lucas was born.

 We were on vacation in California with Ryan's parents and we were at the end of our trip in San Francisco when I noticed some spotting around lunchtime on Thursday the 26th. This is not the first time it had occurred. It first happened two weeks prior, although mild, it came with some cramping at that time. I called my doctor at that time and was advised that because it was not significant spotting, to just lay back and rest and if it stopped within a couple of hours, I was fine and can continue about my business as usual. It stopped quickly and nothing more was done or said by my doctor. When it happened in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon, I followed the same protocol. I did not call my doctor at first...just got to the hotel room as quickly as I could and it stopped soon. No pain or cramps this time either. I had assumed that I had just overdone it with walking too much during the trip (lot of walking and riding down bumpy roads) so even though I was worried, I didn't think it was a big problem. However, the next morning, it happened again and I began feeling some pressure down low and I knew that something was wrong.

Ryan took me to the nearest hospital which is St Joseph's Queen of the Valley hospital in Napa. They took me back immediately and began treatment. Turns out, the pressure I was feeling was actually contractions. Having never had a baby before, I had no idea that's what I was feeling because they didn't actually hurt at that point. They put my on some meds to try to stop them. Then the scary part happened. They did an ultrasound and found that my membranes (amniotic sac within the uterus) was actually bulging through my cervix (which was obviously dialated) into my vagina. We could see on the ultrasound that Lucas could actually even put his foot through the cervix. The umbilical cord would go through at times as well and come back out as the baby moved. Lucas was also in a transverse position (laying sideways across my abdomen) facing down.  This was very alarming to my doctor because we were not having any luck stopping the contractions and they were actually becoming stronger very quickly. My doctor said that the contractions WILL break my water at any point, and as strong as they were getting, he was thinking it could even happen within the hour. My original option upon arrival, before seeing the ultrasound, was to just wait and keep him in there as long as possible and buy some time to give the steroids a chance to strengthen his lungs and time for him to grow. BUT after seeing the ultrasound, the fear was that when the water does break, the umbilical cord would get pulled down into the vagina first and basically suffocate Lucas before they could get him out. The chance for that outcome was all too likely. We opted to go ahead and do a c-section quickly before the water has a chance to break because that would allow the doctors time get him out in a controlled manner and have the neonatal team ready to go. And I could tell the last few contractions before the operation were very wouldn't have been long before the water would have broken. According the ultrasound, Lucas was measuring at 25 weeks (even though I was only 24) and around 2 pounds. But these things are not always accurate.

The c-section was performed and I handled it well. Lucas even tried to cry when they got him out. I heard a few very faint precious cries. I was very medicated, so I was pretty much too "out of it" to feel much emotion at that time. We were told by the neonatologist prior to surgery that there would be a chance that Lucas would be too small to intubate to give him oxygen. If that were the case, we would have lost him immediately. Luckily, they were able to intubate him quickly and testing of the blood gasses showed that he most likely was not deprived of oxygen at any time. He weighed in at 1 pound and 11 ounces (although we were originally told wrong in the OR due to a lot of chaos). They worked on him for a while, getting his vitals and getting his lines in and hooking up to machines. We soon got word that he was doing as well as can be expected and that he would be eligible for transport to San Francisco soon.

 During the procedure, the doctors also discovered that I had what is called "placental abruption". This is where the placenta separates from the uterus. It was about 40% separated at that point. They also found evidence that this separation had started prior to the trip. It probably started when I had that first bout of spotting two weeks prior which was left undiagnosed. Doctors told me that this premature delivery was going to happen, whether we came on vacation or not. They knew that I was worried I had walked too much and caused this. They made it a point to tell me over and over again that this was not my fault and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. In a way, we're lucky that my symptoms occurred when they did, because we were supposed to get on a plane and fly home the very next day. If this would have happened on the plane, who knows what would have happened. Emgergency landing? What if it was too quick? Lucas would NOT have survived, and I could have bled out from the placental abruption as well. Talk about scary.

So that was Lucas's first day of life and the story of how he surprised us all and became my little vacation souvenir. Please continue to pray for Lucas, myself and husband, and our families as we learn how to cope with our emotions and find ways to handle this situation when home is clear across the country. Thank you all for your support and prayers again. I'll be out of the hospital tomorrow and will get to go see my son. I can't wait and I am so proud of him. He really is a fighter.