From The Beginning

My whole life I have felt that I was supposed to have 3 kids.  I grew up with only one sibling, so I'm not exactly sure where this feeling came from. It was something that I had just always planned on. Michael and I got married in 2000 when I was 21 and he was 23.  We waited a few years before trying to have any kids. I did get pregnant a three times, but each one ended in a miscarriage. Finally, we were blessed with a baby boy, Mikey, in 2003. Mikey was a handful to say the least.  He still is!  As any parent knows I felt an enormous love for him from the minute he was born. I had no idea that becoming a mommy would be such an amazing accomplishment. I got pregnant again when Mikey was 9 months old.  That pregnancy was a complete shock, but we were up for the challenge.  Unfortunately, we lost that baby too.  I remember being thankful to God for at least giving me one child.  After that loss, we weren't sure that we would try again.  The miscarriages were very hard on us, and we were starting to get the mindset that it was OK if Mikey was an only child.  Not too long after that, I was pregnant once again.  As fast as that pregnancy came, it was taken away.  After a little time, we decided to try one more time.  If this pregnancy didn't work out, then we were not going to put ourselves through it any more and we would possibly look into adoption later (I'm actually adopted, so that prospect was a little exciting to me).
We were soon blessed with our baby girl, Jovie, in 2006.  She was a very sweet balance to Mikey and definitely made our family feel complete for a time.  After about a year, I felt that pull to have a third child again.  I became pregnant quite shockingly.  At that time we knew there was a chance that we may lose the baby, but still made plans to prepare for him/her.  We began the process of selling our house to move into something a little bigger.  A few days before signing the papers to begin the building of our new home we lost our baby.
We were crushed.
I knew that I was prone to miscarriage, but it still hit me very hard.  We found out a couple of weeks later that the pregnancy had actually been a Molar Pregnancy .  Basically, the placenta had formed into an abnormal mass of cysts rather than becoming a viable pregnancy.  This meant that I had to be closely monitored by my doctor by having blood drawn every six weeks for six months.  If any of those tests came back abnormal, then I was going to have to do rounds of Chemotherapy.  That was a very scary time, but we made it through it. It's weird, but I hardly remember the trips to the doctors office, or the testing. Maybe it's because our life was chaotic at the time with the building of our house. Because of the Molar Pregnancy, we could not get pregnant for one year. I thought for sure that we were absolutely done having kids.  Obviously we were meant to have two.  I had come to accept it and had started to move on.  We were now living in our new home, and things just felt right.  Although, I must admit that I still had that pull.  Michael and I decided that we would try ONE more time.  If this baby didn't make it, then we were absolutely done. Yes, I had a lot of miscarriages. Now those all seem to be explained by a chromosomal issue, but at the time it just seemed to be our cross to bear. We had testing done and everything came back normal. Each one put a hole in our hearts and to think about all of our children who were never born can get to be a little overwhelming. Unfortunately, after miscarriage two or three we started to get a little numb to it.

Doesn't that sound awful?
Miscarriage became to be almost expected. It doesn't meant that it didn't hurt, but it certainly didn't hurt as much. I believe that those losses only made us better parents and made us appreciate our children more. At least we were graced with two healthy children. There are many couples out there who never have that opportunity. I tend to always have the mindset that things could be a LOT worse, and from where I stand now...I think I was right.
But as we all know, God has a plan.  We felt his calling to try and get pregnant one more time, and it's a good thing we listened because it wasn't long before I was pregnant with Carter.

After the test came back positive, I think that I held my breath for those first three months.  It seemed as though they flew by with the business of having two other kids. I knew he was a boy from the very beginning.  There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.  The beginning of the pregnancy was very typical.  A little morning sickness, but nothing major.  Everything looked wonderful on the ultrasounds... that is until we went in for our big 20 week ultrasound. 
We had decided early on that we wouldn't find out the sex of our baby.  We knew that this was our last time being pregnant, and really enjoyed not finding out when we had Jovie. On the way to the ultrasound appointment, Michael and I had a change of heart.  We decided that it might be better to find out so we could start talking about the baby by name to our older kids. My mom went to the appointment with us.

The tech got started and right away asked us if we would like to know the sex.  We told her that we would, but she was having a very hard time giving us a definite answer.  She told us that the baby was in an awkward position.  She was 70% sure that it was a boy.  Since we had originally planned on not finding out the sex, this didn't seem like a big deal.  She went on with the ultrasound, and it seemed to take forever (this is coming from the girl with the very full bladder).  The tech kept pointing out different parts of our baby, and did say a few times that the baby was being a little uncooperative.  I noticed that she did seem to stay on the heart, lip, and kidneys for a long time but she never gave a clue that something was wrong.  When we left the office I felt really good about things.  We had pics of our baby to show the kids, and were pretty sure that it was a boy.  It wasn't until we drove about a mile or two that I started to have a weird feeling.  I told Michael that I thought the tech had seen something wrong.  He told me that he felt that everything was fine, but if I was worried about it I should call the doc.  I did just that and left a message with the nurse.  The doc called me back about an hour later and told me that he saw nothing wrong on the ultrasound, but if it would make me more comfortable we should schedule an appointment with a Perinatologist.  I had a regular OB visit scheduled for a few days later, so we made plans to talk about it then.

When we went to the appointment a few days later, the doc came in and told us that he had a conversation with the tech and she felt that there was possibly debris in the amniotic fluid, and she couldn't get clear pics of the heart and kidneys.  The doc then proceeded to tell us that the good news was that our baby had a brain.  What?!  Excuse me?!
The good news is that our baby has a brain?
I had no idea what to make of that, but did the absolute WRONG thing when I got home and Googled "baby, brain, debris, amniotic fluid".  Let's just say that it really was good news that our baby had a brain.  The photos I saw on that day will haunt me for the rest of my life.  The soonest that we could get into the Perinatologist was a couple of weeks away, so all we could do was wait. 

Our appointment ended up being six weeks away, and at the time those seemed like the longest weeks of my life.  Michael had to work out of town for most of the month of December, but made a special trip home just for our appointment.  We waited in the waiting room for what seemed like hours.  When it was finally our turn, I remember praying the entire length of the hallway.  Finally, the tech got started with the ultrasound and we saw our sweet Carter on the screen.  She was able to confirm that he was a boy right away, then she went to work scanning every part of his little body.  She did measurements in which he was measuring a little small, but nothing to be worried about.  Once again we were told that the baby was in an awkward position, but that she would be able to get the pictures they would just take a little time.  She kept going back to the same spots that the first tech did.
The heart, the kidneys, the lip.
The heart, the kidneys, the lip.
Then it seemed as though she gave up on the lip and went for just the heart and kidneys.  After a while she asked me to empty my bladder to see if that would help move Carter to a better angle.  That didn't really work, so she tried prodding the wand into my stomach.  Finally, she said that she felt comfortable that she had gotten everything and went to get the doctor. 
We waited.
And waited.
And waited.
The knot in my stomach grew even tighter, and I thought for sure that something was most definitely wrong.  The doctor came in and asked questions about my previous pregnancies.  I thought to myself...".there is definitely something wrong."  The doctor proceeded to scan the same areas.
The heart, the kidneys, the lip.
After a few moments he was ready to tell us his verdict.  We heard the words, and I could hardly believe them.
"I see ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with your baby from head to toe.  There is a part of the heart that we can't quite visualize, but I'm sure that it's's just that the baby is in an awkward position."

With the way the doctor had acted I thought that there was most definitely something going on. He went on to explain that he no longer saw debris in the fluid and what had probably happened was that the Placenta had torn away form the wall just a tiny bit.  He had checked the Placenta and it looked wonderful now.  He told us that it was quite common. We were absolutely relieved, and decided to name him Carter Jay while we were in the parking lot leaving the hospital.  Our baby boy was healthy.  Thank you Lord! Little did we know that God just wasn't quite ready to reveal his plan to us yet. 

We continued on with the pregnancy like all of our other children.  It wasn't until I was 37 weeks that there were more clues as to what God had in store for us.  I went in for my regular checkup, and I had lost about 6 lbs. from the appointment the week before.  The doc checked my Fundal height which was within normal limits, but on the smaller side.  At the next appointment I had lost even more weight.  The doc checked everything again, and decided that the baby had just dropped into the pelvis which was causing my belly to appear smaller.  We did a non-stress test just to be sure that the baby was OK, and everything came out fine.  I know that looking back on this it seems as though our doc had missed something, but really everything was just on the brink of being abnormal. I'm not angry with him at all.  It's not like finding out beforehand would have changed anything except maybe a little more preparedness on our part. I've never shared this with anyone, not even Michael, but it was about that time that I started having random thoughts pop into my head like 'which would I deal better with a blind child, or a deaf child .', or 'does Carter seem like a name for a child with special needs'.  It's very possible that I had these thoughts with all of my pregnancies, but they were very profound to me after our little guy arrived. 

Two days after that appointment I started having contractions.  They went on throughout the night and started to get stronger and closer together.  I was about 4 days shy of being 39 weeks at that point.  I finally called Labor and Delivery the next morning and told them what was going on.  They told me to come on in.  We made our short journey there and found out that I hadn't changed all that much.  I was defnitely having contractions, but I just wasn't making any progress.  They kept me there for a few hours to monitor me and see if I changed.  My doc came in to check me and since I still hadn't made any progress he decided to send me home.  He had another very serious delivery going on that day (who happened to be a friend of ours), and didn't feel comfortable inducing me since it was against hospital policy to induce anyone under 39 weeks without a valid reason.  I went home and stayed very miserable for the next two days.

When we went in to see him the next day, I still hadn't progressed much.  The doctor decided that I had been put through enough and scheduled an induction for the next morning.  We were so relieved that we would finally meet our baby boy.

The next day I was induced with Pitocin.  The labor progressed without any troubles except at one very brief moment when Carter's heart rate dropped.  After they moved me onto my side he bounced right back.  I was at 8 cm when the nurse called the doctor, and about 10 minutes later I was fully dilated.  My babies always come really fast and with minimal pushing, so after the doc arrived I pushed maybe twice before Carter was here.  The next parts are all a blur to me.  In fact, it was very hard for me to even think about it for about 3-4 months.  It was probably the most traumatic thing that I have been through, but in retrospect it could have been a lot worse.  It just seemed like it at the moment.  I had a friend there who videotaped a lot, but I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch it.

Click here to read more about Carter's Life In The NICU