Monday, April 26, 2010

Half way through a marathon

I have never run a marathon and I am quite sure that I never will run one either. But I imagine that there are probably three different stages to such a long race. I could be wrong because I have no experience, this is just how I think about what it probably would be like.

In the beginning, there's probably a whole lot of sorting going on as people want to be placed in a spot that is ideal for them. Some want to be in that front pack, others are content to be not right up the front but will conserve their energy for later in the race. But I imagine that at the beginning of the race, a lot is going on as the contestants sort themselves into groups. In the middle of the race, I imagine that it's pretty much just trying to keep on going, maintaining the position that was gained at the beginning of the race, and at the end, I guess that's when the contestants really make their move, breaking away from the packs and trying to get into first place rather than just being content to be in the first group of people.

It seems to me like in these distance races, most of the hard work is done at the beginning and at the end of the race, with the middle being mostly about maintenance. And that's how I'm feeling about my pregnancy journey at the moment.

I'm currently right at the beginning of the third trimester with another three months before the due date. And it was right on three months ago that we first found out that there could be issues with the pregnancy. 

I feel like we have already gone through the process of dealing with the initial diagnosis, preparing ourselves somewhat for those possibilities... the news no longer scares me as much as it did initially, the shock has worn off and I am pretty used to it. We have answered hard questions and thought through difficult scenarios, and I do feel quite content with where we are in this journey. But I know that towards the end of the pregnancy, there will probably be more obstacles to deal with, more trials to go through, more things to process. 

I know that the end of the pregnancy will not be the end of this story - but it will be the end of my pregnancy journey and the beginning of a new journey.

So for now, we're in the middle of this marathon - holding onto the place that we got to earlier in the pregnancy and waiting for that finish line and the other issues that we will need to deal with as it gets closer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We've moved!!

Sorry I haven't been posting as much lately - things have been pretty crazy around here lately, with visitors, packing, all three of us getting a bit of a cold - Lana is especially miserable - and on Wednesday we moved into our new place!

The actual move went remarkably well. The removalists work so efficiently - they had all our furniture taken apart, moved over to the new place (which admittedly wasn't very far from our old place), all our boxes over here too, then the furniture all put back together again in it's right place - all in just over two hours!! We're still in the process of unpacking but we're getting there. 

I'm really loving the new place. It's not THAT different to our old place - the layout is identical except we have an extra bedroom, bathroom and storeroom up the hallway, but being higher up makes it a lot lighter inside, and he actually have a view of the hills behind us, with a bit of green. From our bedroom, we can see Central Hong Kong in the distance (at least when it's not too foggy/smoggy!). I love the open kitchen, I can do stuff in the kitchen without feeling isolated from what's going on in the living area. We're waiting on a bit of furniture which will make it easier to store things (Lana's living out of boxes until then, she has no wardrobe) - but once that comes in another 2 weeks or so, we'll be able to get more settled in. We're also getting a "big girl bed" for Lana - I hope that she transitions well! She'll have a couple of months to get used to it before the baby comes along. 

My brother is still here, he was meant to fly out a week ago tomorrow. Earlier in the week he was trying to reschedule his flight and the earliest available date was on MAY 26!! 6 weeks after when he was meant to leave. Yesterday he called again and they said they had some availability on April 28 (I think) but they need to confirm. I hope that it does work out for him. It's been great having him here but I know that he needs to get back for work and all. I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things as well - our routine has been so disturbed lately, with everything going on. Getting back to "normal" will be nice. 

Pregnancy-wise, not much is going on. I'm heading into the 3rd trimester now - although I can never remember exactly how many weeks along I am. I think I'm 26 weeks now... The end is in sight at least!  Now that we've moved and we've hired our helper (although we're still waiting for her to arrive),  I feel a bit more prepared for the bub - a lot of the pressure I was feeling a month ago is lifted now. We just need to sit back and wait now!! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thanks, Eyjafjallajokull

I will never remember that name, nor do I know how to pronounce it, but because of this volcano in Iceland, we're now enjoying an extended visit from my brother!

Ant was scheduled to leave Hong Kong today to travel back to Copenhagen where he has been living for the past 3 years but Eyjafjallajokull had other ideas about that. All flights pretty much to anywhere in Europe have been cancelled - and Ant chose to be stranded here in Hong Kong rather than sitting it out at Beijing airport without a China visa. We called the airline to try and reschedule his flight and apparently they're all booked up until the end of April so he might be sticking around for up to two weeks or so!

I know that Ant should be going back since he has a job over there and he was meant to be back at work on Monday. But it's nice having him around, especially since we haven't seen him for a year. He'll be able to help us move on Wednesday too - I'm fairly sure that there's very little chance of him leaving before then. And once we move, he'll even be able to have his own room (although he won't have a bed in it ;) Not unless he stays for a couple more weeks)

So thanks, Eyjafjallajokull :) I'm enjoying my brother's visit and am excited that we don't have to say goodbye so soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Doctor's appointment - 24 weeks

We had another ultrasound today, and no real new news there. The baby is growing, getting bigger, but things are still pretty much the same as they were at our last ultrasound a few weeks ago. 

The doctor was really rushed today so our appointment was significantly shorter than last time (which was fine by me, I wasn't feeling up to laying on that hard public-hospital bed for an hour and a half while three different people of increasing seniority did the same scan over and over) - but we also didn't really get as much detailed information. We did get to see her face in 3D again and she still looks like Lana to me :) We didn't  get to keep the picture though so I can't post it here.

The head and body are still average size and everything looks fine there - no problems with any of the internal organs. No hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) or anything like that. She's currently head up so hopefully she can find some incentive to turn in the next 16 weeks. Like I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes SD babies have a harder time getting into the right position for labour and are breech, needing to be delivered by C-section.

All the long bones (arms and legs) are currently measuring at 18 weeks, or 6 weeks behind. The kidneys are still slightly swollen but the doctor said it wasn't really an issue. The main bit of information that I was wanting was the chest to abdomen ratio - normal is 0.8-1, and lethal dysplasias can be around 0.5 - our bub currently has a ratio of 0.75 - so not TOO bad there, closer to "normal" than to "lethal", and 2% better than our last scan. I said to Bernard after the appointment, if it keeps increasing by 2% each time, maybe we can get up to 0.8 by the time that the bub is born ;) 

My next ultrasound will be in a month, unless I schedule an appointment with a private doctor before then. I may try to do that, or I may wait til 30 weeks. I don't know if there's much benefit in seeing another doctor who will tell me exactly the same thing. Although it would be nice to go to a doctor who will give me pictures of the bub at least ;)

The baby is getting stronger and kicking more, and harder, all the time. I feel her moving ALL day long now. She's just like her sister, very active bub! It's nice to be able to feel her moving - I don't worry so much about her when I feel her moving every single hour... Surely that's gotta be a good sign.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Due date

I've previously mentioned this in my blog but last July, we were expecting and had a miscarriage. And it only just occurred to me yesterday that I totally missed my "due date". I've heard of other women who have had miscarriages and on their due dates, they remembered their bubs and what may have been etc... but I guess I've been so busy with house hunting, visitors, issues in this pregnancy that I didn't even remember my due date until a week and a half later... it's crazy to think that if this had've gone differently, we'd be holding our little one now. But I know also that if we hadn't lost that bub, we wouldn't now be pregnant with this one...
I'm also thinking of two friends in particular at this time - one friend who just suffered a miscarriage (which caused me to think of my own miscarriage), and another friend who is pregnant with her first baby, due this month (I found out she was pregnant just a couple of weeks after my miscarriage).

I want to share an email that Bernard wrote to some of our family and friends last July when we had the miscarriage. So much is so relevant to our current situation.

Dear all

As some of you may have read from Nicole's earlier e-mail, we were expecting another baby to be on the way, but unfortunately things didn't turn out the way we had planned and she had a miscarriage.

It is of course not only very disappointing for the both of us, but it is also very sad as we can only imagine as to what life would have been like with this child.  Each life is different, each life is precious, and no one else can replace this little life which could have been.  Having said that, I want to thank you all for your love and constant prayers.  This stage of our lives would have been so much more difficult without your support.

There is so much in life that we can complain about - for example, why this has happened to us, why seemingly bad things happen to people who are good, to a family who loves God and have devoted their lives to serving Him.  But as a family, we have chosen to thank our Lord Jesus - for all the blessings that He has showered on us, for all the favour that we didn't deserve, for each breath that we breathe, for each precious moment of life that we have.  For the precious bundle of joy that He has already given to us.  These are all things that we don't deserve - but He, in His infinite grace, mercy and favour, has chosen to give them to us anyway.  So instead of complaining - today, we chose to thank the Lord for everything.

There was a man in the Bible called Job, and God had allowed the devil to destroy everything he had - his wealth, his health, and even his family.  He lost everything he had and everything dear to him in a day.  There are 42 chapters in the Book of Job, and I find it amazing that in all of those chapters, Job never blamed God nor complained for anything that happened.  There were times that he questioned why those things had happened to him, but his attitude remained the same:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Today, we strive to have an attitude like Job - there will be times that we question why this has happened, but we will continue to bless the name of the Lord.

I remembered that when Lana was born, we had dedicated her to the Lord - and for as long as she lived, we would love her and care for her, but her ultimate destiny remained in God's hands.  This might sound like a foolish thing to do, but we had realized that God's hands were stronger, mightier and sturdier than ours - and we had decided to trust that His hands were more capable of looking after our little girl.  A few days ago when I was in the shower, God asked me what I would do if He took away one of our children.  I had hoped that my faith would have been enough to say that we had surrendered our children to Him, and we would trust Him if He choose to take one of them away.  Today, our resolve remains the same - that our Lord Jesus holds everything in His hands, including the lives of our children, including the life of this child we lost.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I look forward to the day when we get to heaven, when we will be able to meet not only our Lord face to face, but also to meet for the first time, this child that came only briefly into our lives, but who has already stirred deep emotions within us.  When that day comes, I sincerely hope that all of you will be there with us to meet our child.

As I was walking out of our kitchen earlier tonight, I saw a Bible verse hanging from the wall - it was written a long time ago by a man called David, a man after God's own heart.  In his time of trouble, he wrote:

"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)
I would have lost heart too had I not had the Solid Rock to cling to.  I have seen His goodness.  I believe that His goodness will continue in the land of the living.  I believe that His goodness will continue to be shown in our lives.

Again, we appreciate all your love, prayers and support.  We have much to be thankful for.  We have hope today because God is good and is working in our lives.  We have not lost heart, we have confidence because we know that Jesus lives and holds tomorrow in His hands.  We have a firm foundation, a peace beyond understanding, a blessed assurance that all things will work together for good.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

With love,

Thinking of our baby who would have been entering the world around this time... even if I am a week and a half late...

Friday, April 2, 2010

A couple more specific prayer requests

I know that so many people have been praying for us and for the baby - and this blog is a great way to keep so many people updated all at once. I've been thinking about adding in some other "prayer requests" for a while, specific things for people to pray for during this pregnancy.

I already mentioned that one of the most important things for the baby's survival is that the rib cage is not too small for her lungs to grow. This is still the most important specific thing that people can pray for - that her lungs will have room to grow and be large enough to support her life when she is born. 

Another thing that I'd really like prayer for is the amount of amniotic fluid that I have. Currently the levels are normal, but there are two common problems with babies with skeletal dysplasia, they often have either too much or too little amniotic fluid. Too much can be caused if the baby has problems swallowing, and too little can be caused if the baby has problems with the kidneys. At our last two ultrasounds, there were signs that the kidneys were swollen, this may indicate some kind of a blockage, so I don't know whether that means that we're more at risk for too little amniotic fluid, but so far everything is OK there. We can pray that it stays that way! 

Both of the problems with amniotic fluid levels may lead to the baby needing to come early - so please pray that I will be able to carry the baby to term, so that she has the best chance of development. I know it's already an uphill battle so she doesn't need the additional complications of being premature as well. 

Another thing is that it's quite common for babies with skeletal dysplasia to be breach. I think the reasoning is, their arms and legs aren't as long and strong for them to turn into the correct position. This may lead to needing a C section instead of being able to give birth naturally. I know that ultimately, if it's in the baby's best interest, we will need to do that. But I really don't want to have to go through that! So even though that's more a prayer request for me rather than for the baby, please add that point to your prayer list as well!!

There's just a week now until our next ultrasound so I'm looking forward to seeing the latest images and measurements of our little girl. Hopefully there'll be a bit of good news in there too. 

Thanks so much for all your support and prayers so far, I really appreciate it all. I don't think I would be able to go through this hard time without my family and friends who have really given me so much strength, and ultimately that strength comes from God. So thanks for thinking of us and praying for us. Please remember to keep us in prayer over the next few months as well :) There's still a lot ahead of us...