Sunday, August 30, 2009

Austin Baby Shower

32 weeks

Well, I've been in the hospital for two weeks now and the time is not passing as quickly as I would like. I know each day is a gift, and I don't want to seem ungrateful for another day that is not guaranteed to me, but I have to be honest and say I really miss being at home with my husband and in my own house. I know the Lord is in control and it is because of this confidence I have in Him that I will choose to be joyful and praise Him from my tiny room here at the hospital. My days seem to be the same...I get up, turn on K-Love, eat breakfast, spend time with Jesus, shower and get dressed(thankfully I can wear my own clothes), check email, watch "What not to Wear", read, have lunch, read more or look stuff up on the computer, talk to family and friends, and wait for my beloved husband to come see me after work, eat dinner together, hang out and watch "Wheel of Fortune", enjoy every moment together until he has to go home, read, watch TV, or find something to fill my time until I go to sleep, and then do the same thing all over again. Yesterday, Brady asked me if it was beginning to feel like groundhog day...I laughed and said it kind of does. I do feel blessed though, because I am not stuck in my bed like so many people on bed rest. I can go down the hall and get some water and go anywhere in the hospital as long as someone pushes me in a wheelchair. I also have been blessed by so many people coming to visit me. This is what makes the days special and what I look forward to the most.

This past Saturday was one of the most exciting days yet. I had been looking forward to it for quite some time. I was supposed to have a shower in Austin, but after being put on bed rest and then being put in the hospital I was unable to go to travel for a shower. So my dear friend Becky brought the shower to me. They rented a bus and drove it down from Austin so that I could have a shower here at the hospital. I cannot say enough about how blessed I am...I am constantly overwhelmed by the love people have shown to me. I wish I could express my gratitude to match what I feel inside...there are no words to explain. Anyway, back to the shower...I had such a great time. It was so good to see so many of the ladies I just love and adore in Austin. My mom, sister and Brady's mom were all able to be here too...which made it extra special. I can't thank these ladies enough for taking time to come to San Antonio and celebrate Chloe with me and truly shower me with love.

Me and Becky (Shower Hostess)

The Austin Group

Riding In Style

I think I am having another growth scan next Tuesday and we will update the blog with info from that. We are so happy that Chloe continues to grow and is staying put for the time being.

This Friday, Brady and I will celebrate our 5-year the hospital! He is going to bring an air mattress and disobey the nurses orders and spend the night with me. Oh, the journeys of life...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Growth Spurt...

We are happy to report that Chloe had a BIG growth spurt during the past 2 weeks. She has "defied the odds" and moved back to the 30th percentile for her gestational size. She weighed 3 lbs 9 oz today (she gained a pound in the past 2 weeks). The doctor said that Chloe's growth had been stunted by the chemo, and now that Sara has been without the chemo drugs for the past few weeks, perhaps Chloe's growth is back on track. The doctors will not be inducing labor, but Sara will still be at the hospital until Chloe arrives. We are still hoping for the 35 week mark. Sara is currently 31.5 weeks.

This morning, Sara had a surprise baby shower. The doctors organized a small shower for the 3 ladies who have been on bed rest for a LONG time. The other 2 ladies were unable to have baby showers, so the docs took care of that. They are awesome, and we feel blessed to be under such great care!

Sara with 2 of her Docs

This past weekend was fairly uneventful. A doctor from the NICU came down and talked to us and answered some questions. He told us what we could expect in the event that they had to deliver Chloe this week. After our questions were answered, we went and toured the NICU. It was very good for us to see the 2 pound babies that were "stable." They were tiny, but had all their body parts that were functioning properly. However, after the results from the growth scan today, we are still hoping that we won't have to utilize the NICU services. Keep praying! It's comforting to know that they are just down the hall, in the event that we need them.

Thanks for the prayers. They are being felt...and answered!!!

Saturday Night Dinner Date

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Healthy Heart...

Sara's echocardiogram results came back with good news. Her heart was NOT damaged by the Adriamycin. The potential for permanent damage from the chemo had been one of our biggest concerns. After this phase of life is behind us, Sara wants teach aerobics again and since her heart is "good to go" she will be able to get back to the gym.

We were hoping for Sara to be able to come home after the weekend, but after a few more "bleeding episodes" while at the hospital, she has secured herself a spot in the Antepartum Ward until Chloe arrives. However, Sara's stay might not be too long...she started having "regular contractions" this morning and when I called her after my flight today, she said they might be moving her to the Labor and Delivery wing. I sped to the hospital.

Throughout the day, the contractions subsided and have become irregularly spaced (i.e. not labor contractions). The doctors told us that the contractions could have been a result of the bleeding (the uterus was aggravated by the blood and was trying to expel it) or the contractions could have caused the bleeding. Still lots of unknowns.

Upon further discussions with the doctor, she said that the baby looks great and that these irregular contractions could go on for weeks or we could have a baby in the next few days. This morning, Sara received a second dose of steroids to accelerate Chloe's lung development. They told us before, that they would only inject a second round of steroids if they expected delivery within the next 14 days. We are excited to meet Chloe, but want her to stay inside for a few more weeks.

The doctors also told us that they are not going to do anything to prevent labor from occurring. With the abruption, they will allow Sara to deliver when her body decides it is time.

On Monday afternoon, Chloe will have another growth scan. This will be a telltale sign of when we can expect her. If there has been no growth during the past 2 weeks, the doctors will induce labor. Basically, Sara's placenta is shot from the chemo and if it is not providing enough nutrients for growth, they need to get Chloe into the NICU and support her outside the womb.

As we continue our journey into the unknown, we are continuing to trust...with our 2 HEALTHY HEARTS!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Father's Love...

For the past few weeks, I have not been able to get this thought out of my head...

As I spend time with my heavenly father each day, I cannot help but think about my own dad, and the fact that my beloved husband is about to become a daddy as well. I tell Chloe everyday how blessed she is, to not only have a heavenly father who loves her more than she will ever understand, but also an earthly father who cannot wait to hold her and love on her. I get so excited for this precious relationship that Chloe and Brady will get to experience. There is such a special bond between a father and that I believe is so important and cannot wait for Brady to experience. I tell Brady all the time that he will have such an important impact on how Chloe views herself, and her confidence in who she is as a young girl, teenager, and woman.

I am so blessed to have a father who has always made me feel like a princess. Not in a snooty, bratty, or cheesy way, but in a way that I knew I was special, beautiful, and precious in my father's sight. I never had to turn to guys to get the male attention that we as girls, teenagers, and young women so desperately desire. My daddy was always there for me, and for this I am forever grateful (as is Brady). I truly believe that one of the reasons it has been so easy for me to see God as a loving father, who desires nothing but the best for me, is because my dad has been nothing but a loving and supportive father to me for my entire life.

Me and My Daddy

I have never questioned God or wondered why certain things happen...I have always had this confidence and trust in Him, believing with all my heart that He walks with me through all of life's trials. There is so much comfort in knowing that my God, my Father, is with me and will never forsake me. Through this journey, during the past 6 months, I can say that I have clung to God's word, especially when He tells me not to fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

I have told Brady that I feel as thought the Lord has always "kept me." I have never questioned His existence or His love for me...this is a prayer that I pray for Chloe. I pray that she will feel as though she always has a special bond and love, not only for her daddy, but for her heavenly father as well.

I know that Brady will be an amazing father, as he has been the most amazing husband to me. I hate that I am currently in a position where he has to take care of everything...and I just sit. He has been such a picture of what Christ has called him to be.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy... --Ephesians 5:25

Since we received the news about the cancer, Brady has done nothing but make sacrifices for me and our precious baby. I pray daily that he will allow the Lord to be his strength because I know without the Lord, it would be an even harder task, and one that would probably make him bitter.

I will end this with a sweet story that made my heart leap, as I saw this special bond already developing. Last Saturday night, Brady was in Houston for his high school reunion. As we were telling each other goodnight (on the phone), I asked him to say "goodnight" to Chloe. I put the phone down on my belly for Brady to talk to his baby girl. After a few seconds, she started to kick at the phone. I thought it was the neatest thing; she heard her daddy's voice and was responding to it. I could not wait to share this with Brady, but I let him talk a little more as she continued to kick at his voice. I cannot wait to see my precious husband holding our baby girl...the thought of it brings tears to my eyes.

Chloe and Her Daddy

Becoming parents is truly an amazing gift that the Lord has entrusted us with, and we praise Him for this. I cannot help but think about the sacrifice He made for us as I think about becoming a parent. He gave the greatest gift of all, when He gave his son Jesus to die for us. I am brought back to the cross and am overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift of redemption. What am amazing gift we our Father's love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Extended Stay...

Sara is delighted that she gets to spend her next week at the luxurious WHMC (Wilford Hall Medical Center) Resort and Spa. I hope you can sense my facetiousness.

Sara and Chloe "behaved" last night and there has been no new bleeding, but after the OBs discussed Sara's condition this morning, they think it is in our best interest to keep her here until next Monday (at the earliest). After a brief discussion with the doctor, here's what we just learned...

1. Some of the OBs think that after a third "bleed" that the patient should be on bed rest at the hospital until delivery. Chloe continues to show no stress, so the compromise is to let Sara go home next week if there is no more bleeding and the next growth scan looks good.

2. Chloe's growth has slowed and after her next growth scan, she is probably going to be considered a "growth restricted" baby (anything in the bottom 10% is labeled as growth restricted). At the first growth scan, she was measuring in the 30th percentile, the next was 19th and the last one was in the 11th percentile. Based on her original "curve" she is now "off the line" and will more than likely be sub-10% next week.

3. As long as Chloe continues to grow, she will stay inside the womb. If she stops growing inside, they will induce labor, so that Sara can continue with her chemo treatments sooner. There is limited benefit to keeping a non-growing baby in the womb...or at least the benefits of getting chemo started sooner outweigh any small benefits of keeping Chloe in utero.

4. Our new goal is for Sara to get to 35 weeks prior to delivery. The 35 week milestone is important for a few reasons. If Chloe is born prior to 35 weeks, she will definitely spend some time in the NICU. If she makes it past 35 weeks, the NICU will only be utilized on an as needed basis. The NICU is well aware of our "situation" and is ready for Chloe if she decides to surprise us in the next few weeks. If she continues to grow, they won't induce labor prior to 37 or 38 weeks.

5. If Sara's tests indicate that she might need to deliver within the next 14 days, the doctors will administer another round of steroids to further develop Chloe's lungs (currently, this is not the plan).

6. The doctors will start doing biweekly doppler tests to continue to measure development. The doppler will be the quickest way for them to note any potential problems.

Sara and I had a small outing in the hospital this afternoon. We went and got her post-chemo echocardiogram a few floors down. Who knew a trip to the cardiology department would bring Sara such joy?

Field Trip

She was very happy to get out of her room, even though it was in a wheelchair. One of the potential side effects of the Adriamycin (chemo drug) is cardiotoxicity. Prior to her starting chemo, the docs got a baseline reading on her heart. The echo results will probably be back tomorrow, showing if there has been any damage to her cardiac muscle. The OB also wants to know how her heart is functioning, as labor tends to be very stressful on the heart. We anticipate that there has been no damage. Even though Sara received over 1/2 of the allowable life time dose of Adriamycin, the amount she received is less than what typically causes heart issues (based on my research).

Thanks for checking up on us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Unexpected Update...

Disregard my last post about waiting 2 weeks until the next update. We have some "unexpected news" to share sooner than we had anticipated. At 5:45am this morning, Sara started bleeding again. So, here we sit at Wilford Hall. Sara was admitted and they are going to keep her overnight (possibly longer) for observation. Both she and Chloe are fine.

The doctors did the Doppler Test on Chloe this morning and we are happy to report that she is receiving adequate blood flow. They were focusing on a few different parts of her body, primarily her brain. They were checking the velocity at which the blood was flowing through her Middle Cerebral Artery (fyi - it was flowing at 4.8 cm/sec).

Doppler Test on Cerebral Artery

I am continually amazed at all the testing they are able to do on unborn babies. After all the checks were done, Chloe had a little photo session. Before she is born, we are going to have enough ultrasound images to fill an album.

On the way to the hospital this morning, Sara and I were talking about each bleeding episode, and whether each one was caused by a new placental "tear" site. The doctors told us that each time Sara bleeds, it is coming from the same site. Her issue is called a "chronic abruption." We were able to see the actual site of the placenta damage on the ultrasound this morning (it's a pretty small area).

As we pulled up to the hospital this morning, Sara said, "Here we are again, our home away from home." This was confirmed during our time in the OB Triage area. The doctor was in the middle of his exam on Sara and needed some cotton swabs. The new nurse started fumbling around, looking in random cabinets, unable to find the swabs. I finally said, "Look in the second drawer from the left." There they were. We've been through the same process each of the past few times we've been here, so it is becoming fairly routine. They offered to put me to work.

We are hoping that Sara will be able to come home tomorrow morning after another exam and some more blood work. We'll keep you posted. Keep praying for our baby.

We were joking about how we need to quit posting the "good news" blogs. It always seems that we are back in the hospital the day after we share the good news about Sara and Chloe. Be advised, we will continue to share the Sullivan Sagas will with you. We are not afraid!

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. --Deuteronomy 31:8

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. --Ephesians 6:10-11

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Virtual Baby Shower...

30 weeks

Sara has made it through the past 2 weeks without any unscheduled trips to the hospital. Despite our recent gripes about the numerous treks to Wilford Hall, Sara actually looks forward to her 2 weekly trips to the doctor...they are the only times she gets to leave the house. This past Tuesday, after 20 minutes on the fetal heart monitor, the doctors did a growth scan on Chloe (her heart rate is strong and healthy). She continues to grow and will undergo growth scans every 2 weeks to monitor her progress. This past week she was "sizing" about 2 weeks smaller than the average 30 week baby. She weighed 2 lbs 7 oz. and is still on the charts, but is in the 11th percentile of gestational size. When we told Angie (Sara's sister), she said, "She's bigger than both my girls were. They were (and still are) in the bottom 5% for their age."

Today, Sara had a baby shower in Houston. You might be asking yourself, "...but isn't Sara on bed rest?" Yes she is, but the advent of the webcam allowed Sara to "be" at the baby shower in Houston. Angie hooked the webcam up to the big TV and Sara was "virtually" there with her Houston friends and family.

View from Houston

View from San Antonio

I spent Saturday night in Houston for my 10 year high school reunion. Mom came down to spend the night with Sara so I was able to go. The reunion was a great time and we had an impressive turn out. Chloe's Nannie (my mom) brought some gifts for Sara to open during her shower.

To: Chloe
From: Nannie

While at the reunion, I was repeatedly berated for not updating the blog frequently enough. If you are one of those people who checks the blog daily, thank you for that, and I'm sorry for the lengthy delay between updates.

We will be back at the hospital on Tuesday morning for a Doppler Test. The doctors are going to examine the placenta and umbilical cord to make sure that Chloe is receiving adequate blood flow and that all the vital parts of her body are being infused with the appropriate amount of blood.

Each passing week is another step towards us getting to meet our healthy baby girl. We are getting more and more excited as the time passes. She has been responding to our voices with some jabs and kicks to Sara's belly.

Unless we have any unexpected news, look for an update in 2 weeks after the next growth scan. Thanks for continuing to check up on us and praying for our little one.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known among the nations what he has done. --Psalms 105:1

P.S. Regarding the barking dog next door... A friend recently sent us an Ultrasonic BarkFree Device which emits an extremely high pitched sound when it hears barking. The noise is not audible to the human ear, but apparently is not too comfortable to dogs. We think it's working, as we have had numerous good nights of sleep since the device arrived. Thanks Jen!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another trip...

Sara could not handle the thought of having a relaxing weekend at home, so at 5:00AM on Sunday morning, we got in the car and drove to Wilford Hall...AGAIN!

She started bleeding early Sunday morning, and the doctors gave us strict "come back" criteria. The bleeding met that criteria and we were hospital-bound. Chloe is fine and Sara is doing well. She was admitted after a few hours in triage, but after another exam, lots of Chloe testing, and some more lab work, they allowed her to come home on Monday afternoon.

Callie, Sara and Ansley (nieces)

The doctor told us that she is not on strict bed rest, but the less movement she does, the better. I feel like I tell her to "sit down" or "quit moving" at least every 15 minutes. Chloe is moving a lot and still seems unaware of the "placenta trauma" that has taken place. On Tuesday, the OB will do another growth scan to make sure Chloe's growth has not stalled out. Sara's belly gets bigger every week, so we're not too concerned about this.

Chloe Grace - 28 weeks

Though San Antonio is experiencing a severe drought right now, it seems that the "storms" continue over the Sullivan household...BRING THE RAIN!