Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Memories of Pregnancy

I just wanted to take this Wednesday to remember a little about my pregnancy with Carleigh.

I found out on August 10, 2008 that I was pregnant. I was quite excited as we only had been trying a month and it took us about 3 months to get pregnant with Kyndra. I had taken a test on that Friday but it was negative so I thought I'd wait a few days and retake it. I had planned on waiting until Monday but impatience got the best of me and I took it Sunday afternoon. It was faint, but it was positive!

Anthony was out mowing the lawn so I quickly went outside on our back porch and yelled for him. He stopped the mower and came over and I whipped the test out from behind my back and proudly exclaimed "We're gonna have a baby!" Of course, he was excited too! And so began our journey....

My pregnancy with Carleigh started off much easier than Kyndra. I wasn't dead tired, my breasts weren't sore at all, and I only had a couple episodes of nausea instead of a few weeks. I thought I was getting off pretty darn easy! Little did I know....

Days were filled with relishing on thoughts of our new baby, monthly doctor's appointments, ultrasounds at work, and thinking of baby names. Anthony was hoping for his boy and I said it didn't matter to me (all the while secretly hoping for another girl). My due date was originally April 17, but then changed to April 24 when I had my first ultrasound on Sept 2. We later learned near the end of my pregnancy that the original due date was correct. On Sept 17 I heard my baby's heart beat for the first time. What a beautiful sound!

I declined all screening tests offered to me by my doctor. I knew results of any test wouldn't make any difference to us, so why bother? Had I accepted those tests we would've had an abnormal one and found out sooner about our baby. I haven't decided if finding out sooner would've been a good thing or not. I'm sure it would've made me cherish the earlier months in my pregnancy more than I did.

We found out October 30, when I was 15 weeks, that we were having a little girl. It wasn't a scheduled ultrasound. Just had my friend scan me at work. We could've detected something was wrong at this point but we never looked at her head-just the other end. After learning we were having a girl we decided her name on Nov 13-Carleigh McKenna. Carleigh means "freeholder" and McKenna means "ascend". We didn't know how appropriate her name would really be at that time.

I felt my little girl kicking at 18 1/2 weeks and daddy felt her at 21 weeks, a little earlier this time around. Time was getting closer to our trip to Hawaii over Christmas. My whole family was excited to go. We had been planning this trip for about 3 years.

On Monday, Dec 15, I had my midway ultrasound at 22 1/2 weeks. This was the dreadful day we found out that Carleigh had anencephaly. We found out our daughter, whom we loved so much, was not going to live. We got the classic "second opinion" and it was such a waste of time. We pretty much shelled out a couple hundred bucks for some "doctor" to tell us what he thinks we should do, which was to end our daughter's life. Luckily, I knew more about anencephaly than what he realized and he couldn't fool me with his bullcrap. I will never go back to that place as long as I live.

We got Carleigh's diagnosis just a few days before we were to leave on our trip to Hawaii. We still went and had a great time as a family. It was honestly good to get away and to take our minds off of things-or at least try to (plus it wasn't a cheap vacation!). We went to a luau near the end of our trip and got a picture of all of us. When I see it, I see our whole family. You may not see Carleigh physically but I know she's there. I felt her.

Our trip soon ended and we had to face reality again. During the trip we let Hannah know about Carleigh. We tried to explain it as best we could without confusing her. We told her that there was something wrong with Carleigh's head and that when she was born she wasn't going to live. I think it was a little difficult for her to grasp but she understood the gist of what was going to happen and you could tell it upset her. We comforted her.

Not long after our trip we started (mostly me I should say) planning for the future that awaited us. I started this blog to document our journey. We contacted a funeral home to begin making arrangements. So many things were happening all at once. That's why I'm so glad I wrote everything down as it was happening because now when I don't exactly remember I can look back and see. One of the big things, besides the pre-arrangements, that I did was create Carleigh's birth plan. It took me quite a bit of time to compile all of our wishes and I even updated it later right before her birth. I'm very glad I wrote it and that our caregivers took the time to read it and follow it when the time came.

After finding out, the remainder of my pregnancy was different than the first half, as you can imagine. It was bittersweet. I cherished my time with her more. I felt joy with every kick and rejoiced with her first hiccup on Feb 27. What a day that was! They were very faint but they were there! The bigger she got the stronger and more frequent her kicks and hiccups became. I didn't develop poly and I was extremely grateful for that. I had a lot of hope for Carleigh being born alive. She showed so many good signs. We got a 3D ultrasound and maternity pictures. These are things I treasure now. Seeing Carleigh on the 3D ultrasound was such an experience. The first thing I noticed when I saw her was her chubby cheeks! She had chubby cheeks just like Kyndra! She squirmed and wiggled. She opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue. She even sucked on her fist several times.

Carleigh always had certain times when she was more active. The morning and evening were the times of the day when she liked to kick around. Usually it was during the morning when I ate breakfast at work and during my bath in the evening. It was fun at bath time. Kyndra was usually in the tub with me. She'd play around and I'd lay back and relax and splash water over my tummy and I'd see my belly pop up from Carleigh's foot and I'd put my hand over it. She'd promptly move and kick somewhere else. One of the things I noticed was that when Carleigh was very active if I would sing she would calm down. I like to think that she heard me and my singing soothed her. I always sang. I did a lot of singing in the car on the way to work and home again so she heard me quite a bit. She would hear me at church too.

I had an ultrasound done and Carleigh's growth was lagging behind. At this point, I was measuring around 7 weeks behind and Carleigh's growth was almost as far behind. I made the difficult decision to get induced. I knew if Carleigh kept falling behind she was at that much more risk for being stillborn. So I set up to go in on March 27. That day came soon enough!

Things didn't turn out exactly how I wanted them to, but you can't have everything the way you want it all the time. Carleigh was born still on March 28 at 3:49 am. She was 3 lbs 15 oz and 13 1/2 inches long. My perfect daughter.


Tanya said...

I am so sorry... Praying the Lord will continue to bring you comfort today and in the weeks to come. Carleigh is beautiful.

Mom Putnam said...

Honey- That trip will always be one of my favorites (even if the island wasn't) because Carleigh was part of it. Will always cherish that picture and glad we did it after all. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

After reading this I sat down and remembered things with my kids that I haven't remember. The way they kick, moved, and all the pain in my ribs. You"re giving me the ablitiy to remember things about my kids through Carliegh and I Thank You so much. Please keep your faith strong and remember that you are loved very much and so is Carliegh.

I love you,

Aunt Jenny

becky B said...

And little Carleigh is saying "My perfect Mommy"
Bless you today and everyday Holly.
You are truly amazing.
Becky B.

Brooks said...

It makes me so angry thinking about that doctor still! What was he thinking! I'm so happy God prepared you and blessed you with a mother's heart and some sense! I also appreciated how you celebrated your daughter during your whole pregnancy. What a miracle she is.

Julie said...

I am SO sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. What a beautiful little girl.

Betty said...

I love pregnancy stories! They are full of so much wonder! Even if this one didnt turn out as planned, it is still proof of God's miraculous power!

Anonymous said...

She was BEAUTIFUL!!!! I have followed your story, and just want to say that you and your family are always in my prayers!

HappyascanB said...

God bless you and your broken heart. You write about this so eloquently; I'm amazed at how fresh it all is for you. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your life with all of us. May God cover you with His peace.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Holly...I'm so glad you joined us for Wednesday's Walk...thank you for sharing more pieces of your beautiful Carleigh's precious journey. It is so good that you are writing your memories. I wish I would have written more during the early years after we lost our babies. With time, some of the details do fade. You will so cherish these details you have kept on this beautiful blog journal as the years pass. This "community" in blog land is such a gift. Twelve years ago when we walked through our fresh grief, there was nothing like this. The support through blogs and other ministries and organizations that exist now, is so valuable.

Praying God's continued sufficient grace for you...and I will be sending you a Dreams of You Memory Book this week!

Molly's Grandma said...

Thank you for continuing to share your journey with all of us. Life is so precious and your memories make us mindful. You and your family are always in our prayers.

Sally-Ann said...

Thank you so much for sharing the story and memories of your precious little girl. Your story will bring great comfort and valuable information to others. I am glad that you posted on "Walk down Memory Lane."


Hi. I'm a CafeMom that is a blogger and someone u know is following my blog...that's how I found yours. You brought tears to my eyes with your compassion and love for your unborn baby girl. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Stop by my blog sometime when you are up to it. I am sharing Our Journey with our daughter Emily who has a rare chromosome deletion.

HUGS & PRAYERS,Christina

Patricia said...

Such a beautiful baby. You were so wise to enjoy every moment you could with her. I pray the Lord would continue to bring healing to your hearts. Thank you for sharing your heart today.

Tonya said...

I could hardly read through my tears. Your loss is so fresh. My heart breaks for you, but you have beautiful memories of Carleigh in your womb. I wish that I had treasured those moments with my baby boy. He was stillborn on Nov. 12, 2008. God bless you and keep you close... Thank you for sharing.


Lynnette Kraft said...

I'm so sorry that you don't have Carleigh in your arms. I pray that God's peace is carrying you and that his purpose and love is helping you through these difficult days. I'm so thankful that there is sweet peace as we turn to Jesus through our sorrow - and there's something so beautiful about that.

This is a such a fresh sorrow. Thank you for sharing it here on Wednesday's Walk. I hope there was an element of healing, even as you shared about your pregnancy.

Have you checked out my website? It's called Growing through Affliction and it was developed for people just like you. It's there to be an encouragment. Here's the link in case you haven't been there.

Growing Through AfflictionI just prayed for you, your daughter and your husband.
Your sister in Jesus,
Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground

Anonymous said...

Holly- I still remember you calling me right after you "tested." I was outside on my front porch and I screamed! haha I think I scared Jarrod. I knew you were obviously trying again, but the excitement hit me anyways. By the pitch of your voice, I could already tell you had the proud pregnancy glow! You were so happy. Carleigh is perfect and we all love her and you very much. Keep cherishing these priceless memories.... xoxox

Celia said...

Holly, what beautiful words....I am like you. I want to remember EVERYTHING! So, like you, I am trying to write it down as to not forget though I am not sure I could even if I tried. Some of the lesser will not stand out so much after time but this is a journey that forever changes who we are and how we view things. I am forever changed already and know that I have still more changing and growing to do as my journey comes to an end.

You write things out so beautifully. It makes my heart rejoice with you over finding out that you were pregnant with Carleigh to plummeting when you got the news of Carleigh's condition, to overwhelming sadness over her birth. Through it all you can actually feel your love for Carleigh come through in your words. Just beautiful....

Linda said...

Holly, You are precious to God. So is your sweet Carleigh. I know your hurt is still so fresh. I just prayed for you and I pray you will feel His presence as you walk through the days ahead.

Thank you for sharing Carleigh's picture, and your story of your love for her.

Our grandson Samuel had anencephaly too. All we have of him is his pictures and we treasure them. Like you, our daughter Lynnette loved him in the womb and treasured that time,...knowing that he would go on to be with Jesus very soon after his birth.

God hold you close dear Holly!
In His Love, Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Raye Ann said...

I was left speechless. The only words that come to mind come from Numbers 6:24-26
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


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