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Heather's Parenting Journal

Entry Ten ~ January 2007
~ The Good With the Sad

Sorry. This journal entry is late. Here it is almost the end of January and I have not submitted my journal. This has been a long and trying month to say the least. But, reflecting back on it now, it has had it good points too.

My pregnancy has been going very well. Morning sickness is completely a thing of the past. I had my second blood test to screen for Down's syndrome in the baby. To my shock, a week later I got a call from my genetic counselor that my test showed I had a 1 in 5 chance of carrying a baby with Down's. I was completely taken back. I did not expect her to tell me that at all. In fact, I think I had almost put the thought of any chances of the baby having anything wrong her completely behind me.

So, she who said she would never undergo an amniocentesis last month was strongly considering and weighing the risks and benefits of the test. At first my husband was not completely on board with the idea. He was afraid of the risks the procedure held as was I when my odds were 1 in 234. But with these new odds, I could not handle not knowing if there was something wrong with the baby for another 6 months. I would never change the course of the pregnancy, but I needed to know how to prepare. I wanted to prepare my children. I wanted to prepare myself. I wanted to get my hands on all the available information and help that was out there. I just wanted the feeling of peace in the knowledge and to move forward.

The amniocentesis was very simple and rather pain free. I was more anxious about it then it was worth. The doctor looked at the baby for at least 30 minutes before he even performed the test and this time the baby was completely normal. The nuchal sac which is now a skin fold on the neck was normal, the nose bones (one of the soft signs for Down's) were normal, and the rest of the baby looked normal. We also found out we are having another GIRL. So, with the procedure completed now we had to wait. I opted for the rapid fish test which flags the chromosomes in question for a 72 hour response.

The longest day of my life was that Friday following the amniocentesis. I paced. I tried to prepare for the phone conversation. I could hear the genetic counselor's voice telling me to sit down and that she has the news. I did not know what to think either way. I think both situations would have brought on tears. But mostly, I really wanted to just know and either celebrate that nothing is genetically wrong with her or learn to celebrate life through a new set of eyes. Both would be wonderful, but one I would have to search and dig a little deeper inside myself for. I have a wonderful support group of friends and they sent me the most wonderful emails and phone calls to keep my mind at ease. None of them said 'it will be okay' or 'she'll be fine' because who can say that when you chances are 1 in 5. But, they all said it would all work out. And they were absolutely right. If I knew after the birth of my first child that I would someday have 5 children, I'd probably go into the same panic that I was in with the impending news of the baby's health. Mostly my panic would be 'how can I do it?' Much the same things I feared with the results. But you are given what you can handle. Sometimes it does not seem that way, but in the end we all figure out how to make it work out.

So, the news; I won't keep you in too much suspense because my counselor did not keep me in too much either. The baby is fine, just fine. My blood tests were a perfect example of a 'false positive.' I've never loved the results of a false positive so much in my life. And another side note, it is truly a 'girl.' They found 2 X's. So genetically she is okay and she is 100% a girl. I've never had such positive results of the sex of the baby before. It is kind of fun. The next step and final ruling out of any problems comes in the form of an ultrasound with a cardiologist at 20 weeks. That is scheduled for the middle of February. So, I'll have to give you the results of that next time.

So that leads me to the other portion of my life that has really taken a lot out of me. On the same day I got the wonderful news about my new daughter's health, my mother-in-law's oncologist told her there is nothing more they can do for her. From the last journal with hope and some certainty that she would recover from this terrible cancer it is evident that after several infections that she is unable to recover from, she has very few days now left. Hospice is caring for her at her home. As of the date when I wrote this journal the doctor gave her a week to live. That has brought on so much sadness and a form of stress in our family. My husband and I have been fortunate to not have any close losses of family members in our marriage. In fact, his grandmother (his mom's mom) is still alive. This brings on an entirely new chapter into our lives. My children know about her illness and are handling it as well as to be expected. I did make one mistake though. When she became sick, I called it 'sick.' Not a good choice of words. I had some back peddling and lots of explaining to the kids that her sickness is not like the common cold that you can catch, nor when mommy gets sick (like the other day I had the flu) I am not going to die. We now give it the name of cancer and tell them it is a disease you can't catch from grandma. As of recently we have told our oldest that she will probably die from it. There are some good books out there I am going to begin reading to them. We have talked a lot about heaven and they feel very happy for her to go there. But, I know when they finally realize that is the last time they will see her, the questions will pour in. Not knowing how to really handle this myself, I better get reading to try to help them.

So, that has been my crazy month or so. We also have spread strep throat through the entire house. Even baby Isabella caught it. Unfortunately, it dragged over the course of 4 weeks, so when we were finally able to all go out together we were a little stir crazy to say the least. Now recently we have another round of colds and I had the flu. I feel as if I once again live in the quarantine house. But, being sick and visiting my mother-in-law is not an option. So, we've just got to recover so we can see her as much as we can.

Hope all is well with you. It is freezing here! Maybe it will kill all these germs and we will stop giving them to each other. Have a wonderful month. Talk to you in late February. I'm sure I'll have much news to share.

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