Happy One Month, Little Bear

One month ago, I sat in my hospital bed, staring out the windows wondering if the past 10 hours had really happened. I had woken up merely to use the bathroom at midnight and that turned into a hurriedly packed trip to the hospital where my Little Bear was born crying a mere 4 hours later.

merely two hours old, full head of dark hair
merely two hours old, full head of dark hair

One month – it feels like it’s been twice as long and half as short.

We knew that as soon as Little Bear was here our lives would get a big chaotic dealing with his surgery, definite NICU stay, and whatever else he would need. Because of this, I had made sure to have freezer meals done, friends lined up to come and stay while we adjusted to life after his arrival. My baby shower was scheduled, a sign up genius for meals was set up, and my bag was packed by 32 weeks. Ever since we had gotten that first diagnosis of his spina bifida, I had felt like I was on a countdown clock that was flying along instead of steadily ticking down. To anyone who would listen, I explained that I didn’t think he would make it to his updated due date. I felt an anxious drive to get everything ready as soon as possible. I was on borrowed time and I worried about being able to give Little Bear the time he needed to full develop and be ready to come earth side.

I’m a month out now, and I still don’t feel like I’ve really processed the past month, especially those first two weeks. In a way I am glad my body went into labor by itself before going in to the OR for the c-section. I felt validated that everything my body had been telling me was true. I had felt a loss of not being able to have Little Bear like I delivered his older brother when we got his diagnosis. Having my water break and then being rushed into a c-section as my body quickly began laboring was the perfect mix of the two. I hated those three hours up to the moments AFTER the spinal kicked in. They went by too fast for me to really start panicking, but my body was freaking out, and I knew that if they hadn’t gotten me to the OR as soon as possible, things would start progressing really fast. Even though Little Bear’s arrival happened in the middle of the night, Phil nor I really felt alone. The nurses and my doctor were amazing. I knew that even though things happened quickly, there were those who were still thinking about and praying for us. I knew that even though I was only 34 weeks pregnant, my Little Bear was yet again proving that he was the one driving the whole deal. I knew he would be okay.

Within 8 hours of his birth, Little Bear went back for his own surgery. I am forever grateful for the neurosurgeons and anesthesiologists who continually popped into my room to let me know how my baby was doing during surgery. I never felt like I was being kept in the dark about his well being. So when I heard that he had remained completely stable during surgery and was now back to his room in the NICU, it wasn’t a surprise. Is it too presumptuous to say that I always knew he would do just fine? I went to see my Little Bear an hour after he had come out of surgery and felt the tears prick my eyes at the sight of my strong little warrior. He obviously hated the tube down his throat and was starting to fight it. They had warned me that he would/could possibly be in the NICU for [up to] 6 weeks. I remember texting a friend who had been in my shoes 18 1/2 years before saying that I bet he would be out of the NICU in 4 weeks.

It is now 4 weeks after sending that text, and Little Bear’s been home for 2 of those 4 weeks now. As grateful as I am to no longer have a preemie in the NICU, I will never forget those moments just before I would walk into his room, worrying that something had gone wrong. Little Bear started life earth side weighing 4lbs 15 oz, 18.7″ long. He now weighs just over 6 1/2lbs, and is about 19.1″ long.

As much as people kept calling him a rockstar (all the nurses, friends of mine, doctors…), it felt weird to call my baby a rockstar. Maybe I felt like it was jinxing myself (and him) to call my baby a rockstar. I merely smiled and nodded because I knew my baby was a fighter, but I wasn’t willing to acknowledge his incredible progress. I just took each day as it came and kept pace with my child as he blew through milestone after milestone, cutting his time in the NICU down to 1/3rd of what it was supposed to have been. I can see and feel the spirits guarding him and I’m trusting those fates to keep him safe when I can’t.

Having my whole family home the past two weeks has been both amazing and odd. This is the first week I am finally feeling like we have some sort of normalcy back. I feel like Little Monkey is finally adjusted (for the most part) to having Little Bear around. He begs me to let him hold his little brother often and has to watch Little Bear sleep. Little Monkey is still a little cautious around his brother, especially when Little Bear starts crying or waving his limbs all around. Little Bear and I have figured out a rhythm for night time feedings, and as long as I stick to the same each night, he sleeps well. The biggest question and frustration for me right now is getting him off oxygen. His pediatrician thinks he’s about ready to come off the oxygen, but wants him to see a pulmonary specialist before she takes him off. It’s getting annoying lugging around the oxygen tank every where he goes. But, I know that’s not going to last for forever! I think now that the end of that is technically in sight, I am anxious to get there.

Little Bear still doesn’t have a shunt, and according to his neurosurgeon, his head is holding steady. This part still worries me, but if they’re not seeing drastic increases in the size of his ventricles, then I do feel like I can take a breath and relax a little bit more. I still feel like we’re on borrowed time before he will need a shunt, but maybe Little Bear will surprise us…yet again?

My body doesn’t even feel like it was pregnant (minus the almost constant headaches, achy hips and tailbone). I see those weekly pregnant belly collages on Pinterest and feel a slight sense of nostalgia. I only made it to 34 weeks, and part of me mourns the not even making it to the “I’m so very done being pregnant” stage. I know that part is not fun, but I didn’t even get there! I barely gained any weight, and am sitting at just about having lost 20lbs right now. I am grateful for the “easy” recovery, especially with everything else that happened in Little Bear’s first two weeks of life. I am especially thankful for having made it through the first month of his life earth side. Today, of all days, was when he was supposed to have arrived. I was supposed to be at the hospital right now, recovering from a c-section at 10am this morning. But, Little Bear had other plans.

Happy one month, Little Bear. You are my snuggly little bear, instantly becoming alert whenever you hear my voice. I worried that the separation we would face when you arrived would make me lose my connection to you. I couldn’t have been more wrong. You are mama’s boy through and through. We share scars from your arrival and I will always feel that strong thread connecting us. You have FAR exceeded my expectations with nursing and sleeping now that you’re home. I am still taking an expert level class on how to wrestle with the octopus you become every time I change your diaper. Your extremely strong leg movements continue to surprise and give your dad and I much hope for your future mobility. It makes me tear up thinking about what’s possibly coming in your future. I will fight for you, and yet, I know that you’re going to keep fighting for yourself.

You are my little warrior bear, my fighter, my expectation breaker.

How I’m Preparing Practically/Physically for My C-Section

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Having my hopes for birth sidetracked has made me flounder, looking for that solid ground to stand on. I know I can’t be the only mama who’s faced this floating in limbo feeling! So because of that I want to use this post to talk about some of the things that I am slowly putting together in a practical effort to prepare for the c-section and following chaos.

I know there is very little that I can do to physically/practically prepare for a c-section. While I don’t have any qualms with knowing I’m going to have a scheduled major surgery, I do feel the need to keep my hands busy. I am nervous about being separated from my little bear immediately upon delivery and not getting to be with him for who knows how long when he is taken to the NICU. But, that’s a post for another time!

I’m going to break this post down into two different sections; practical and physical.

Practical – 

The practical is possibly the easiest to talk about. Included in this is packing a hospital/NICU bag, planning freezer meals, researching what one will need specifically for a c-section recovery, finding out about the hospital’s protocols for c-section mamas, and so on.

Let’s talk about packing that hospital bag first! I am planning on having my bag packed by 34ish weeks. Even though I will have an actual date for my c-section, knowing my body AND that we’ll be in the middle of Colorado winter (lots of rising pressure, which increases my braxton hicks, and I had started dilating a good bit by the time I was 36 weeks with Little Monkey), I want my bag packed as early as I can get it done. As labor is not an option for me anymore, I want to be able to just go if anything happens before the scheduled date.

A hospital bag list is something that Pinterest is an amazing resource for. I have found several specific pins for c-section recovery hospital bags and from those pins this is the list that I’ve put together. (it is subject to change as I start packing and decide what I really want to have with me or could do without)

C-Section/NICU stay Hospital Bag

  • pineapple juice
  • coconut water
  • GF muffins/snacks
  • Motrin
  • GasX strips
  • Cough medicine
  • cough/throat drops
  • colace
  • Vitamins – probiotics, cal/mag, prenatal
  • ice packs
  • kotex maxi pads
  • low rise underwear
  • regular pillow
  • body pillow
  • Nursing pillow
  • comfy blanket
  • towel
  • robe
  • Sweatshirts
  • 3 night gowns
  • 3-5 nursing bras (pack different kinds)
  • Nursing tank tops – all of them
  • 2 tops to wear over tanks
  • Navel and Blanqi Postpartum leggings
  • yoga pants
  • fuzzy socks
  • slippers
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, styling products, bar soap, puff, shaving cream, razor, loofah, face wipes, coconut oil, toothbrush/paste…)
  • Makeup bag
  • Hairdryer/straightener
  • Kindle
  • portable keyboard for taking notes on kindle
  • Charging block
  • Chargers for Iphone
  • Extension cord
  • insurance cards
  • hospital paperwork (both insurance and paperwork need their own folder)

Now my list above combines some of the things I will also need for the NICU stay as well. I will list my NICU Survival List down below as well. Some of these items, like ice packs, Motrin, and the toiletries are the things that are the eh maybe I won’t need them, I’ll decide last minute items. But, they are things I do want to make sure I have, whether the hospital provides them or not. As I’ve had the benefit (I suppose) of having gone through one birth already, I do remember what worked and didn’t work last time. Even though this time will be different, it helps that I am not starting from scratch.

Alright, so here are a few of the pins I pulled ideas from for the hospital bag list.

One of the things that I have found helpful is to take advantage of the knowledge from mamas I know who have had c-sections. If you have resources like that, use them!! They’re going to be the ones who can tell you specifically what helped them or didn’t help with c-section recovery. The same goes for if you will be needing to stay with baby while they’re in the NICU. Use your resources!

Now with my NICU Survival List, I have mostly relied on Pinterest for this list. I do know a few mamas who have had babies in the NICU, so I will be running this list by them as we get close to DD (Delivery Day) to make sure I’m not missing anything.

NICU Survival Kit

  • Chapstick – LOTS of chapstick
  • Cough/throat drops
  • hand lotion
  • hand sanitizer
  • Easy to carry notebook
  • pens – at least 6
  • Kind bars
  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • granola
  • kettle chips
  • nursing pillow
  • breast pump
  • freemie attachment
  • labels and markers for making bottles
  • nursing pads
  • robe
  • water bottle
  • baby lotion (find organic lotion…maybe california baby?)
  • 1-2 special outfits for little bear – specifically with snaps
  • laundry bag
  • bottles (figure out what bottle would be best)
  • coconut oil
  • 2-3 changes of clothes
  • baby nail clippers
  • inexpensive camera for nurses to take pictures with?

Like I said, multiple things overlap with each list, so I will most likely combine them into two bags when I head to the hospital. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in my room before I’m discharged and I move over to the NICU rooms. That’ll depend on c-section recovery and such. Here are a few of the pins I pulled NICU list tips from.

Feel free to take a look around my Mama Advice and Prepping for Little Bear boards. I have a bunch of other pins that I have found helpful on there!

As packing a hospital/NICU bag is a very practical thing to do, that’s a huge thing I’m focusing on right now even though I feel like I’m in limbo still. However, a hospital bag is only part of the practical things I can do to keep my hands busy. Another suggestion is planning out freezer meals! I did a few before Little Monkey was born, but those meals kind of flopped and we never ended up using them. Because I know what DIDN’T work for us last time, I am being quite particular planning freezer meals this time around. A few big changes for us since last time is my diet is gluten free and there are a few other foods I can’t eat because of my IBS as well as my fibromyalgia. Thankfully, I have found several phenomenal lists [on Pinterest] for GF freezer meals! I will be combining several recipes from these lists and hope to start prepping those come January.

Even though that last pin are not specifically GF meals, the techniques and recipes are simple enough to adapt for a GF version.

When I have my delivery planning meeting (yes, apparently this is a thing at our Children’s), I will be bringing a list of questions about the c-section itself, a procedure I will be having done during the c-section, and then what their protocols are for mamas after the surgery is done. That meeting is where I’ll also find out about the things available to me while I am in the hospital as well as getting to tour the facilities (recovery rooms and the NICU). After that meeting I will go back over my hospital bag list and add or take away anything I know I won’t need.

Physical 

Planning and preparing physically for a c-section is a little bit more involved and yet is almost nothing compared to planning practically! This is the area I have had the hardest time “coping” with. With a planned c-section you literally just show up and get prepped then go back for the surgery. A little bit more complicated than that, but that’s basically it! I don’t get increasingly nervous when I have knowledge of something like that happening beforehand. The idea and prospect of going in for the c-section is not what is making me feel overwhelmed or shaky. It’s the whole chaos of what’s going to happen after that makes me tear up, have nightmares about, and I already know I’m going to be a wreck when they take little bear to the NICU while I’m still on the table getting put back together.

However, I have put together a short list of the things I can do now to prep physically for the c-section. I am worried about my gut health/immune system AFTER the c-section, so I going to keep up with my kombucha tea, and in January, I will most likely start taking a probiotic as well to help keep my gut health strong. My body doesn’t usually have that much of an issue with antibiotics, but I don’t want to take chances, especially with what my body has been recovering from over the past year (unknown gluten intolerance discovered only a year ago, removal of gallbladder…).

I already have strong core muscles thanks to yoga and that being something I have been able to keep up with consistently. I am not really worried about how my abdominal muscles will recover post surgery, but I have added several core specific poses to my yoga routine. *it is important to note that core exercises while pregnant are not a good idea if you have diastasis recti (a separation in your ab muscles as your belly grows)* The core poses I have added are very gentle and are still yoga poses which means they’re done slowly, with care, and with attention to breathing. The article below is only one of two I found about preparing for a c-section.

After talking with a dear friend who’s had two c-sections this morning, I now have a game plan for the week before the c-section. But I’ll share that as we get closer to that date!

There really aren’t many things I can do to physically prepare besides the things I’ve listed above. The other things you/I can do between now and the c-section is just keep taking care of my body. I have to do yoga at least 1-3 times a week just to manage my fibromyalgia, but it is important to me to keep doing that as it is calming and gives me a way to manage stress and anxiety.

 

What is Spina Bifida? – Our Little Bear’s Specifics

When receiving a diagnosis such as Spina Bifida (or commonly referred to as SB), a lot starts running through your mind. “What the f*ck is spina bifida? Will my baby survive? Oh my gosh, I am going to be a special needs parent?” just to list a few of the questions that erupt following this diagnosis. As I’ve carefully done research, reached out to people I could trust, and asked the specific questions I needed answer to, I have realized that many people simply do not know what Spina Bifida is. The scariest part is that a lot of healthcare professionals don’t know what SB is either. This is the worst part, and the reason why 64% of babies who are diagnosed with SB are terminated. Doctors simply do not have the knowledge to be able to give parents the resources, hope, and help the parents need to be able to provide for their child.

All that to say, I am amazed at how that has not been our experience with our doctors so far. I suppose it helps that we’re within short driving distance to one of the top SB centers in the country. Our doctors deal with this diagnosis and children with SB on a day to day basis. This is their specialty. Because of that, beyond the “required to tell you that termination is an option” moment, our doctors have given us nothing but hope, knowledge, and have been upfront with about what they see with little bear’s case.

So before I dive into the descriptions of what SB is, I wanted to say this first; I have no idea what the next year, years, will bring for us. I certainly would never have chosen this parth for us, and I hate that we’re having to go through it. If it weren’t for the intense love and connection I already have with little bear, things would be even harder to handle. This is not an easy road to travel. It was horrifyingly difficult to walk away from the appointment where you first heard something is wrong with your baby and to remember the earth keeps spinning. It really does feel like everything ceases to move and goes ghostly still. You all of a sudden went from a happy go luck mama in the middle of her pregnancy to the mama of a baby who is going to have to have surgery within hours of birth. You’re going to have to stand there and watch while they most likely go through painful procedures. I’m not even there yet, still got 11 weeks left, but I am having nightmares of watching my little bear in the NICU, unable to take his suffering from him. I think the mamas I am watching who have gone through this already are absolutely incredible warrior mamas. I am going through my initiation by fire right now, but I know I am joining their ranks.

What is Spina Bifida? 

SB is a neural tube birth defect that happens within the first 28 days of pregnancy. This means that typically before you even get that first positive pregnancy test, the defect is already in place. There is nothing you as a mama can do about it. Talk about feeling insanely helpless! The Spina Bifida Association (SBA) talks a lot about how you can take massive amounts of folic acid that could maybe possibly prevent SB. But I find this particularly irritating as they imply that SB can be the result of a lack of folic acid. And yet, here I am, faithfully having taken my prenatal vitamins for the past 5 years! And I still have a son who has SB.

Spina Bifida means “open” or “split” spine in the original Latin. SB is what happens when part of the spinal cord does not close properly and leaves an opening or deformity in the spine.

**An important thing to note about SB is that no one case is the same. It can be referred to as a “snowflake condition” because of how unique each individual case is. It is not as clear cut as a spinal cord injury can be. There is no blunt cut off of nerve affected.**

The opening in the spine is often called a lesion or cyst. The location of the lesion or cyst can play a significant role in the baby’s function AFTER birth and as they grow up. For little bear in particular, his lesion is between L4 and L5. While this is as preferable as best best case scenario, it is still considered a very good location. The lower the better as this puts less pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Also, the nerves lower down do not affect significant areas of the body such as breathing and major organ function.

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These are helpful pictures that explain what would be most likely affected according to lesion location.

There are four different forms of SB:

  • Occulta – this is the mildest form of SB. Typically only one or two vertebrae are malformed and a complete layer of skin covers the deformity. I have noticed that this form of SB usually isn’t discovered in children until later when they start having odd symptoms. I hesitate to use the words “this is the most common” since SB does not present itself the same way with each case. However, it is truly the most mild.
  • Closed Neural Tube Defect – similar to Occulta, this is a deformity in the spinal cord, but it can present itself as a deformity of fat, bone, or meninges. Once again, the individual with this form of SB can exhibit little to no symptoms, or it can present itself as full blown paralysis.
  • Meningocele – this form of SB is where an actual cyst of fluid forms over the opening in the spine. According to my research, this cyst can still contain parts of the spinal cord, but it doesn’t usually contain the nerves. This cyst may or may not be covered with skin. Also, the individual may have symptoms ranging from paralysis to little or no symptoms at all.
  • Myleomeningocele – this is the severest form and from what I’ve seen it seems to be the most common. Just like it’s partner form above, this also includes a fluid filled cyst, but the nerves are often included within the cyst. I believe this form also means that there is usually no layer of protective skin over the cyst. That means there is no protection from the amniotic fluid getting into the cyst and potentially causing further damage to the exposed nerves. And finally, the levels of damage, or symptoms, for this form of SB are once again all over the map.

So, talk about “snowflake condition,” right?! There is no way to anticipate how the individual will exhibit symptoms or what nerves have been impacted or what kind of mobility limitations they will have. Even if a child has full range of mobility when they are born through their toddler years, that is not a guarantee they will have full mobility when reach adulthood. It is slightly panic-inducing writing out these types of SB. As a mother, I want my little bear to have the least severe if he has to have SB. But, he has the severest type, about as close to best case scenario we could get, but still, knowing that’s the category he falls under is heart wrenching.

Common Side Effects of Spina Bifida

Because of the opening in the spinal cord and the pressure on the cord from that opening, this creates something called a tether. As the nerves are exposed and often “float” out of the spinal cord, this pulls down and puts a certain amount of pressure on the brain itself. The brain is pulled down and back towards the skull. This causes an increase in Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) as the cerebellum begins to block the spinal cord and the CSF from circulating. Because of the pressure and blockage, the Choriod Plexus gets a message to increase products of CSF which in turns causing the extra fluid in the brain. The extra fluid (depending on how much swelling is seen) is usually called Hydrocephalus. The most common way of dealing with Hydrocephalus is the insertion of a shunt in the brain. A shunt helps release the extra fluid usually through a tube that snakes its way down the body where the fluid is then released and absorbed back into the body via the abdominal cavity. There is an unfortunate 50% failure rate for the shunts. Thus there is often a need for multiple revisions (usually in the form of surgery) for a shunt once it’s placed. I have heard of several new techniques being perfected to replace the faulty shunt system, but as those are still considered experimental, our neurosurgeon isn’t willing to try those out on little bear as this time.

Other common issues associated with SB can include club foot/feet, heart issues, bowel/bladder issues, total paralysis (from the hips down), partial paralysis, kidney issues, Chiari Malformation II, and the list goes on.

Little Bear’s Specifics

His lesion sits right between L4/L5 vertebrae. This area on the spine specifically deals with the outer parts of the lower legs and feet. The chances of him having bowel/bladder difficulties are pretty much guarantee. To what extent will not be known until he’s born and his body settles after surgery. That is something we’ll work with a urologist and pediatrician with once he’s born.

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the darker shadow in the middle of the circle is his spinal opening

He has a secondary condition called Chiari Malformation II. With his spine being tethered, the cerebellum is being pulled back down towards the back of his throat. From my understanding, this is basically something that goes hand in hand with SB. I do not remember the number, but very few kids actually end up presenting symptoms from the Chiari and it is just something that is there. He does not have club feet and so far has awesome movement of his legs from hips down and obviously bends his knees. Ankle, foot, and toe function won’t be known until he is born. It is nerve wracking, this waiting and not knowing.

All of our genetics and chromosomal tests have come back normal/negative, so we can breathe easier on that front. His heart has been cleared and structurally, besides the lesion and fluid in his brain, he has been declared a very sound little boy. The fluid in his brain is currently measuring at 13mm, but this doesn’t really mean anything. Normal brain fluid typically measures at 10mm or less. We will most like see his numbers rise as he continues to grow between now and birth. It will be the numbers AFTER birth that will actually mean something and be important.

Our little bear has a perfectly formed body, organs, and so far as we can tell, is absolutely cute as a button. His profile looks just like Little Monkey’s did during big brother’s ultrasounds. He is growing at the rate he should, has beautifully long fingers, and feet that look just like his brother’s. He likes to remind the ultrasound techs that he’s going to make them work for their measurements by flipping around and making funny faces. It is bitter sweet feeling his strong movement. I love that he is so active but that does not guarantee anything regarding his mobility after birth. We have another ultrasound a week from tomorrow, so hopefully that will be routine and nothing new will show up.

I am constantly learning more information about SB and while this is a long post, thank you for reading all the way through. The medically intrigued side of my brain finds all of the medical information thoroughly fascinating…until it hits me that this is all regarding my precious baby. It feels like I’m on a never ceasing up and down roller coaster ride. But I think for now, I am okay. I can breathe. I can keep moving forward and I will try my darnedest to make sure that we have everything lined up as much as we can before delivery day gets here.

#wewillbeokay

A Shifting Perspective

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I had this intense feeling that this pregnancy would be hard. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I just knew it would be a lot harder than Little Monkey’s. Sure enough, I hit 6 weeks, and HELLLLOOO nausea. That lasted, well, I’m still dealing with random nausea off and on and I’m 26 weeks today. Then at 16 weeks, I started bleeding from a placenta previa, which meant low activity levels for several weeks to give it a chance to shift. By 20 weeks, placenta previa was no longer an issue, but instead we were facing an entirely new set of difficulties.

My little bear has Spina Bifida, and that meant and entirely new perspective on this pregnancy. I went from preparing for what I had hoped would be a natural birth, working with midwives, a doula, to now a planned c-section at Children’s hospital, where my little bear will be taken directly to the NICU upon delivery. While I don’t have any issues with having a c-section, it’s the whole major shifting of what to expect with this pregnancy. Instead of going in for regular midwife appointments, I’ve had more ultrasounds than I can count, a fetal MRI, blood tests, an amniocentesis done, and there are still more tests and ultrasounds coming before he’s born. I am now the 1 in 1000 who’s baby has a serious condition. This has been hard, really hard with watching so many other friends around me carrying and delivering healthy babies. Babies they get to take home after 24-48 hours. Babies they get to snuggle and hold tight within seconds of being born. Babies who are whole, healthy, and dare I say, normal?

Sure, some days are a lot worse than others. Some days are actually okay days and I feel like I can manage without feeling like I’m drowning. The hardest part isn’t that I don’t think we’ll be able to do this, no that’s not it. I know we’re really going to be okay. Phil and I are in this together, we have a lot of support already, and I have the resources I need from moms who have gone before me in this specific journey. But there is a part of all of this that makes me feel very frustrated. I know there are other mamas out there who have gotten this same terrifying diagnoses. I know there are other mamas who have and will stand anxiously besides that NICU crib watching their newborn. We live in a culture that tries to silence the difficult. We live in a culture full of people who don’t want to face the hard, tearful stories of those who don’t have the same stories. Because of the culture we live in, I want to break the silence and really talk about what this has been like and what it’s going to be like finding out my son has a serious condition.

My depression has been hard over the past month. I already have an underlying depression that while I can manage it quite well, peaks every so often. With this whole shift in my pregnancy, well, let’s just say this is the highest it’s peaked in a long time. I have coping techniques, but when combined with the approaching third trimester fatigue, feeling like I’m drowning under the constant inflow of information, it’s been a bit much. The story of my life has never fit inside the “normal” box. I do not fit norms. I never have. And with this pregnancy, it is once again on the outside of those norms. When mentioning this to my mentor, her response was to tell me that maybe I’m supposed to go against the norms in order to create new norms. So maybe that’s my job in this life. That’s what I’m called to do.

I’m hoping over the coming months as I start to prepare for the planned c-section and the following who-knows-how-long NICU stay, I will be able to share things that are helping me. For now, I am clinging to movement little bear has in the womb, and the fact that I already feel a deep, strong connection to him. I still have days where I wake up and hope this is all a dream, but it isn’t, and I will face whatever may come.