With 12 days to go, I think it is time to post AJ's story. This will be the first and only time I will probably ever delve into the nitty gritty of his life story. Albeit a brief one, it was an amazing one.
The holidays of 2010 had just come to an end and we rang in the new year. James had just turned five months old and his big sister was 21 months old. It is hard to believe now that they are 2 years old and 3 years old. Anyway, 2011 was met with open arms.
Shortly into the new year, we all received our flu vaccinations and a couple days later I began to feel a bit off. I thought it was just a reaction to the flu mist as it was the first time I had taken it. Turns out, it was not a reaction to the mist at all. I was pregnant (again).
Unlike the other 2 pregnancies, this one came as a total shock to my husband and I as I was still nursing James and my cycle had not returned yet. After confirming the home pregnancy test at the hospital and getting the EDD of August 25, 2011, immediate thoughts of how are we going to do this began to settle in my mind. By that date, my husband was just about to retire from the Navy after 20 years of service; James would be just a little over 13 months old; Sophia would be 29 months old; and I would be finishing up my Masters Degree program. How was I going to handle a toddler, a 1-year-old, a new born and finish my program? I realize now, that seems like a lot of whining for a 30something year old, but it was truly what was going on in my mind.
As the months went on, the effects of shock began to wear off and feelings of happiness took over. One morning while I was feeding James (he had been weaned a little earlier than I hoped), Bill and Sophia were having a daddy/daughter morning. Bill saw the baby names book on the table near Sophia. By then we already knew we were having another boy, so I wanted to make sure he had the same middle name as his big brother and dad (James). So, Bill flipped through and asked Sophia to tell him when to stop and point to a name. She pointed to Anthony and so that was it. Big sister named her baby brother. :)
When we heard his heartbeat for the first time, all my fears of how it was going to be come August 2011 were replaced with hope and determination. I didn't know how we were going to do it, but we were going to manage. All the appointments went well. His heartbeat was strong. I wasn't gaining a lot of weight. I was managing to finish my school work. All while taking care of an infant, a toddler, and a household. The only thing that seemed to be of concern to Dr. B and staff was AJ's enlarged placenta. They ran all the tests they knew of that could cause an enlarged placenta, and all came back negative. Nothing was wrong - except for his placenta.
They had me do all the timed glucose tests. And those came back fine. Although they came back fine, they were still concerned about the possibility of gestational diabetes, so they had me see the nutritionist to get a diet that may help and do the finger prick 4 times a day. I did all. I did all the tests. I changed my diet. I did the finger pricking to to the point that I wasn't feeling it anymore. And still no answer or change to the placenta issue. However, everything else was going well. He was progressing along perfectly. Dr. B and staff decided to just keep an eye on the placenta at each appointment to make sure nothing was changing or causing distress to AJ.
We surprised everyone come Easter 2011 when we sent a card from the kids - all 3 of them. :) I remember my mom calling to find out the due date, as she thought it was in November 2011 since we told them April. She was shocked (just like everyone else) to find out that it was in August. She was a little concerned for me since this was my third pregnancy in less than three years and I have had two c-sections already. But at the same time she was happy to have another grandchild on the way.
Mid-May we went on a train ride to Chicago for my cousin's wedding. We all had a role in it - even 10-month old James. ;) Sophia was a flower girl. Family there were shocked about the pregnancy, but were happy too.
June 2011 was pretty uneventful as far as the appointments were concerned. The placenta was still being watched, but AJ was doing well We had a 3D/4D ultrasound done in Bellevue since we had one done for the previous two pregnancies. Now I must say I am glad we did that since that is the only video we have of AJ alive and kicking.
A few weeks later we celebrated James entrance into the Catholic family with his baptism at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. My parents were able to make the drive out from South Dakota for that celebration and to help celebrate James' first birthday. I remember my mom saying that I was already presenting low and she didn't think I would make it to my scheduled c-section date of August 18. She thought, I would go into labor by the end of July. It's quite uncanny to think how freakishly right my mom was about us welcoming AJ by the end of July 2011.
Two weeks after we celebrated James' baptism and first birthday, I went in for my 36 week prenatal check up. I remember it was July 27 - a Wednesday afternoon. All four of us were there. Bill (my husband) was watching James and Sophia in the waiting area since there were toys that were keeping them entertained. Dr. B and the corpsman did all the routine vitals. Then it was time to check on AJ and I noticed the mood in the room change. Dr. B tried to play off the first Doppler to being finicky because it needed new batteries. So he got a newer one, and his mood was still the same. He then got the portable ultrasound machine and immediately turned the screen away from me. It was at that moment I knew he was going to give me the worst news of my life. He brought in Dr. D - an expert ultrasound tech and OBGYN, and he confirmed what Dr. B found. Then they broke the news to me.
I remember feeling so numb. It was as if I left my body and didn't want to return until they changed the finding. But they wheeled me to Labor & Delivery and put us in a room. They brought another ultrasound machine - and nothing changed. My immediate thought was DAMN! Of course I was hoping the ultrasound machine in Family Medicine was wrong, but unfortunately it wasn't. Then they had the on call OBGYN talk to me and give me options. I could 1) be admitted right there and then, 2) go home and come back after the weekend, 3) go to my scheduled date. I opted for the go home option, but come back on Friday.
This is where I will end part 1 of this heroic angel's story. Part 2 will come in 10 days....