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Fourth Time Around

This post, originally published one year ago today, brings a tear to my eye. If present Laura could reach out to past Laura, this is what she’d say: 

That tiny blip grows and grows. Many doctors will tell you she has a seemingly infinite number of problems. She’ll be checked for spina bifida, multiple heart defects, trisomy 18, reduced fetal movement. You’ll be constantly monitored for pre-term labor, only to have it occur after being assured it would not. This blip will be born with a perfectly healthy heart, but you’ll only realize that once you’ve been through the torture of two arduously long echocardiograms. The tears of relief will overwhelm you as you hug Jason in the waiting room, both overcome with disbelief that her heart, in fact, does not have holes. The tiny blip will live past 17 weeks, despite one particularly harsh high-risk doctor saying “I want to see you in a week to see if she’s still with us.” 

All the blood tests, extra ultrasounds, and gloomy prognoses will lead to days filled with wasted tears. The anxiety, doing its best to stomp your hope to pieces, is nothing more than a veil, behind which lies the truth. 

The tiny blip will begin her first five weeks in the NICU. The journey will be long, each day passing in impossibly slow hours. There will come a point where you cannot imagine going back to the hospital one more time; yet, you cannot imagine not going. She will persevere, meeting each milestone, and surpassing the expectations of some of the nurses. She will grow consistently, she will learn to eat from a bottle, she will breathe on her own, she will regulate her temperature. She will get to come home.

That tiny blip will become your precious Evelyn Hope. She will light up your home with her loud babbling, goofy grin, silly game of throwing toys on the floor, and her contagious giggle. Her blue eyes will watch you with wonder and fill you with joy. Her carefree nature will remind you to forget the past, forget the doctors, forget the negative attitudes. You were not crazy for trying a fourth time. You will have your tiny blip in your arms. 

It will be ok.

Post from March 13, 2015:

The ultrasound showed the tiny blip. The miniature beating heart fluttered almost undetectably. Holding my breath, my neck straining, I almost missed it until the ultrasound tech announced the beat was good and strong. A single tear fell down my left cheek, a bit of relief releasing from my tensed muscles.

Since that initial appointment a month-and-a-half ago, we’ve had four more. Four more ultrasounds. Four more chances for bad news. Four more moments bursting with relief. Four more restless nights, tension headaches, sweaty hands, and queasy stomachs.

Our guards came down a bit after our latest appointment with the maternal fetal medicine doctor; we breathe a tad easier knowing this baby doesn’t appear to have the same joint contractures Sophia had. It doesn’t seem to have any heart anomalies they thought Sophia had. It moves blissfully around the screen, often waving and kicking its feet, all of which Sophia barely did. We inhale a bit deeper. We sleep a bit sounder. We have a larger piece of hope to which we cling.

Being far from carefree, we are fully conscious of the long road ahead: many extra doctors’ appointments due to so many confounding factors, plentiful ultrasounds to ensure baby is growing right and pre-term labor doesn’t start, seemingly countless days left to worry, infinite minutes left to attempt to soothe our anxieties.

One day at a time, we have made it to 13w 5d. One day at a time we will carry on. One day at a time, we are thankful for the each second we still have with this baby. Anything beyond a day and the overwhelming fear of more tragedies, painful memories of traumatic moments, and the mental and physical exhaustion from the fight we are putting up would consume us.

Despite the prolonged struggle, we love this baby. We may be crazy for putting ourselves through this for the fourth time, but at this point it is starting to feel worth it. Baby Sprout is worth it.

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