Wednesday, February 21, 2018

30 Weeks

Today I hit 30 weeks pregnant.  There were many days where I thought this day might not come, probably was going to deliver before.  I am so glad I have been able to make it!  Now to the home stretch.  

Yesterday several doctors came to visit me, meet me for the first time, etc.  They have informed me that the pregnancy will not go past 34 weeks.  Some doctors made it sound like they just want to get me to 32 weeks if possible.  The entire team working with my case agrees that they will take this day by day and they don't want to let my heart go one day more than it should.  

Everything is revolved around my valve.  Forget my original heart problem and really any other issues,  my valve is torn and once that has more strain from labor and, ultimately, child birth, they are worried that soon as it shuts down, it will affect the baby first.  The doctors don't want me to push at all.  They will be ready with forceps.  They are considering a c-section, but there are many issues that come with that as well.  More blood loss, cause for infection.  It's still surgery and with any, you never want to have to go into surgery if you absolutely don't have to.  The other issue is the baby is BREECH.  So if the baby doesn't flip, there might not be another option.  

I feel like every time I write a post, they may come across a little selfish.  This pregnancy has been so unlike my first.  While I was pregnant with Charlotte, I didn't really worry like I have this time around.  Everything went so smoothly.  I was excited from day one of finding out I was pregnant.  With this pregnancy, it was so planned out (a five year decision), that all I can do is worry and wonder how this is all going to work out.  Did I really follow the promptings of the Spirit or did I lean on my own thoughts and desires?  Of course I'm excited to add another little girl to our family.  Seeing how excited Charlotte gets when we talk about baby is pure joy.  She is going to be the best big sister.  But honestly, I have been so concerned about my well-being and getting home alive to Charlotte and Josh.  When this all does end up working out, I have pictured us walking into our beautiful home with our new little bundle of joy and being a happy family of four, forever.  

There have been so many tender mercies throughout the pregnancy.  I know that Heavenly Father has his hand in everything.  I am so grateful for my knowledge of Him and his eternal plan for all his children.  If anyone knows what "miracle" means, it's me.  I have had so many experiences throughout my life (not just health related) where I was guided only by the Spirit.  I try not to use the word "blessed" because I don't feel like those who have hard times are forgotten (and I have had plenty of rough patches along the way), but I do feel like I have so much more to learn, to give, to experience, and to do!  I am so fortunate to have family who is willing to come non-stop and help us at home.  I get emotional thinking about the love of family and the willingness and support that everyone has had for us.  I just hope I am well enough to return the favor someday.  

This Saturday, Tahnee will leave to go back to Utah and my dad will fly into Atlanta and stay at the hospital with me until the baby is born.  Josh's mom will be at our house Sunday night, when Josh and Charlotte arrive back home from visiting me this weekend.  Once we know the baby is coming, Josh will come back to the hospital for however long he needs to.  The baby is expected to be in the NICU and as long as I am doing well, I will stay with her for as long as she is here.  It gets tricky being so far from home, but I have amazing doctors and haven't regretted my decision to come to Atlanta to have this baby.  
Thank you to all who have reached out, it really does mean so much to me and my family.  We feel so loved.  So many have asked what you can do to help, all I can ask is please pray for us.  I know there are so many people that need prayers, and when you include us in your list, I can't think of anything kinder or more thoughtful.  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pregnancy Update

Prolonging the inevitable can only go for so long. Monday I was admitted to the hospital and it’s been an emotional roller coaster kind of day.

We drove to Atlanta Sunday night, stayed at our friend’s house again and got up this morning to start the long day of appointments. 

We started with the OB. We talked to her, asked some questions, she listened to the baby’s heartbeat and we were done.

Luckily the cardiologist is in the same building, so we headed there next. I had an echo, then saw my regular cardiologist, Dr. Book. She expressed how my heart looks worse than the last appointment, the valve is torn and would need repairing, and she wasn’t comfortable with me being so far away. Dr. Book finally used the term “bed rest” and said she wanted me under daily watch here in the hospital. I came prepared with my “bag” but I hadn’t really mentally prepared for actually being admitted today! She let me and Josh talk it over and soon as she left the room I just lost it. All I could think about is not being with Charlotte for several weeks. It kills me that I can’t be with her. But I also understand she won’t remember this when she gets older and if she does, she’ll understand Mommy had to do this for the family. 

Dr. Book was talking to another specialist, Dr. Bobalrous, who specializes in the structure of the heart. We discussed different ways to replace my tricuspid valve without having to open up the chest cavity. My heart cannot handle another open-heart surgery, so performing the least minimal invasive surgery is the best option right now. Either they will go through the groin or make a pen-size hole in the chest. It’s a relief if I don’t have to have my sternum cut open! When would this be? Hopefully we can get through the pregnancy without having to replace the valve. They are hoping my body can recover from having a baby and do this operation 6-12 months post delivery. The valve is the biggest issue right now. Praying that it can withstand the rest of the pregnancy. 

The last appointment was with the Maternal and Fetal Medicine team. This appointment is in Midtown Atlanta, same place where I will be delivering. They did another ultrasound on the baby. Everything looked great. This is the only benefit of a high-risk pregnancy...lots of ultrasounds and getting to see our baby girl. Baby Whitmore is weighing in (according to ultrasound) 3 lbs. 5 oz. Seems so big for this early! They are basically planning on me delivering between 32-34 weeks. I was really shocked to hear such an early due date, but they will take it day-by-day. 

After I met with the doctors, we went down to Labor & Delivery and got all registered. I have my own room (thank heavens) and Josh stayed until 8:00. He needs to be home for Charlotte and work! But before he left, we ordered room service, got my IV in (I needed the moral support because I HATE needles), blood draws, and got settled in. He has been so patient with this entire situation of driving out of state every month and I really have appreciated his support! I will see him on the weekends and when it gets closer to actually delivering the baby, he will come to stay permanently. 

I am completely drained emotionally and mentally. I have had a rough time adjusting to the circumstances just because I have actually been feeling really good lately and was hopeful I would be going back home after my appointments. If I don’t respond right away to your messages, please do not take it personally. I am tired and it takes a lot of brain power to type out responses (even this...I’ve been putting it off all day and it’s almost midnight) and chat. Luckily I had packed in the sense that Dr. Book had told me to come prepared just in case. I hope this isn’t too hodge lodge to read and makes sense. My mind is a little scattered right now. 

Thank you to everyone who has included our family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to everyone back home who has helped and reached out with love and concern. Our family has been amazing in helping us on the home front. Tahnee will be there through Saturday and Josh’s Mom will come back on Sunday. We feel very fortunate to have so many willing people helping us along the way. Like I said before, this has been a group effort!! 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pregnancy Update

I thought I would do a little update on my pregnancy. I have had so many of you reach out to me and I wanted to tell you that I truly appreciate all of the messages, texts, prayers, and more! I can’t tell you how much it means to me that there are so many thinking about our family. Thank you, thank you!!

My doctor had previously told me that weeks 22-28 will be the hardest. To prepare to be hospitalized. To try and get to the latter of that to deliver the baby.  I am so glad to say that I am 28 weeks today! Baby girl is still cooking and I am still at home!! 

As far as how I am feeling, I am exhausted pretty much all the time. I have a hard time breathing for most of the day. I am not sure if that it’s just getting bigger or my heart issues, but probably both! Going up stairs is always the hardest. I try and limit that as much as possible. I try to get ready and everything before I come down for the day. I am slow moving. I take a while to get out of bed. Luckily Josh will go down with Charlotte in the morning and get her breakfast and my mom gets her off to school. I can stay in bed and take my time each morning.  I haven’t swelled, which is a huge indicator I’m retaining fluid and would be admitted. I am not having trouble breathing while I sleep. So those are very good things!!! I get really winded when I talk a lot (which we all know I love to do) and if I sing (haha which we all know I love to do as well...even though I’m basically tone deaf...yes, I’m well aware). That’s why I haven’t called or try to avoid being social. Not being social has been one of the hardest things during this experience. I love getting out and about and meeting new people and this whole thing has really put a damper on that! 

It’s so hard, naturally being a busy body and getting stuff done all the time, to just sit back and rely on everyone around me. Right now I am mentally nesting, because that’s pretty much all I can do. I have been able to do some online shopping and gather things for the arrival of our baby. My mom has helped with several projects around the house. Rearranging furniture, hanging stuff on my walls, etc. I can’t lift or carry or do anything, so Josh and my mom are doing it all.  I am so glad my mom is here. I know there are a lot of sacrifices her and my dad have had to make with all the little kids still at home. I appreciate her coming to take care of me and my family. Taking Charlotte to and from school every day, doing our chores, cooking dinner every night and so much more!!  

I am so grateful to have a supportive family who has been willing to stay with me and do everything. My mother-in-law stayed with us for a month, my mom has been here for three weeks (by the time she leaves on Saturday), Tahnee comes for a couple weeks and then possibly my dad next. I have had several other friends and family reach out and volunteer to come stay with me, and I am so grateful to all of you! 

Every day I am more in love with Josh.  He is so patient with this entire situation.  I just can't really put into words how grateful I am that he is my eternal partner.  I feel so lucky every day.  He has dealt with so much lately.  New city, new house, new job, people in and out of our house constantly and yet he has never complained or made things difficult.  But always so willing to do whatever needs to be done.  

My next appointment is on February 19. My first time on a Monday and it worked out that Josh has the day off for President’s Day. Tahnee will be here to watch Charlotte. I have to come prepared to be admitted to the hospital. I am just hoping and praying I can come back home. I am not ready to be in the hospital and away from Josh and Charlotte for so long. Ugh. It’s going to be awful when it finally does happen, but it’s the price we will pay to have the best care. 

Everyone keeps telling me that I’m handling this so well. And while I feel like I do during the day, nights are the worst. I lay in bed undistracted and think about what is going on. I concentrate so much on my heart beat. Is that a normal pace? Is it going too fast? Why does the artery in my neck feel huge? Will I wake up in the morning?  To be completely honest, I’m scared. I am scared of what’s going to happen, what isn’t going to happen, how long I’m really going to be hospitalized? what if something happens before I can make it to Atlanta? What if my heart can’t take the delivery and I die in childbirth? What if something goes wrong after delivery and the doctor can’t get there fast enough? “What if’s” are constantly on my mind. We knew this would be a challenging pregnancy. While it looks from the outside that everything is going well, the reality is that I’m in heart failure and my body is FAILING. During the day I don’t really about it too much (besides this blog post haha). I have to be strong as possible for Charlotte. I want to keep positively thinking all the time. The mind is such a powerful tool and I want to know I can overcome this hurdle. I get ready every day. Shower, dressed, makeup. If I didn’t, I’d feel sick. I want to feel as normal as possible. 

I realize I am just blabbing on, but this is real life people! This is what is happening. Again, the blog posts are the best way to reach everyone and answer all of your questions at once. If you are still reading this, bless you!! 


#bumpie

Nursing cover, swaddle blanket, and baby wrap.  I didn't use any of these with Charlotte.  Tahnee will be teaching me how to use all of these when she gets here! Andrew will be our model. haha

Baby crib is up.  Now to figure out the configuration of the nursery.  

Some basic newborn clothes.  I learned with Charlotte they are only in newborn clothes for a couple weeks, tops.  Unlike with Charlotte, I have really reeled it in with the clothes buying.  Hardly any at all! #winning

Friday, January 19, 2018

Good News and Bad News

Today was the long awaited day of appointments that would determine if I would be admitted to the hospital until baby is born or allow me to go home...

As you may know, Josh’s Mom, Eve, has been living with us for the last month. She has been doing everything for us and it has been absolutely wonderful. The doctors were thrilled to hear this. I was on strict instructions to not do anything and save all my energy for baby. I have been doing my best and laying low as much as possible. Charlotte is loving have all of Gram’s attention and they have a blast playing all day, every day! 

Eve was able to stay at our home with Charlotte while we drove down to Atlanta last night. We stayed with our friends, the Salemme’s. It was great to see them and their cute girls and new house. We really appreciate their hospitality. 

We started this morning with the cardiologist, Dr. Book. She asked how I was doing, got my vitals, EKG, and pacemaker check. Everything looked great! She sent me down to the lab for blood work and told me if the labs and echo come back good, I won’t be admitted. After labs, I had to run up to the OB (luckily in the same building) before coming back to the cardiology department for my echo. Yeah I was running around, totally rushed (not good when your heart is being tested) all while wearing a hospital gown. 

After my echo, we talked to the doctor again. Dr. Book explained that my blood work was all stable (phew) but that my valve was leaking even worse than before. That it is actually torn. The overall function of my heart is failing as well, so much that I cannot have another open-heart surgery because my heart would not last on the bypass machine. The next SURGERY would be an open-heart to perform a heart transplant. Of course I want to be much older for that and put that off as long as possible. Until then, they would need to replace the tricuspid valve with another pig or cow valve through an artery up through my leg. Yeah, they can do this now and it’s amazing!!! The technology is constantly changing! When will this happen? Not sure, but in the near future. They really want to wait until the baby is delivered. Hoping we can get to that point. The cardiologist wants to see me in three weeks and reassess everything. She told me each time I come to be prepared to be admitted. I told her I had my bag in the car! Luckily, the medication dosage she prescribed last time has been working well! On our way home we go!!

As far as the baby and delivery is concerned, she looks great and weighs 2 lbs. 1 oz. Her fetal echo was completed today and everything looks normal. She was totally cooperating during the ultrasound today and looking right into the probe! Haha. All the doctors would love to see me reach 38 weeks for delivery but it will all depend on my heart. 

I am so grateful for all of your prayers, fasting, calls, texts, and messages. I can feel your love so much. We love this little baby so much already and are so excited to bring another baby girl into this world! 

We are so sad to see Eve leave tomorrow but know that she’ll be right back if we need her or when baby girl makes her grand entrance. My mom arrives this weekend and will be with us for nine days. Charlotte isn’t going to know what to do when the Grandmas stop coming!! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pregnancy and Heart Update

Friday, December 8, we had the baby's anatomy appointment and my cardiology appointments.  We drive down to Atlanta, GA each time. We have a fantastic team of doctors working with us and it was an easy choice to keep them and make the commute from SC.  

We are so thrilled to say that the baby is healthy and BIG (already).  They said she was measuring at 10 ounces, when my app said she should almost be 7 ounces.  It made me laugh. They checked everything from head to toe and explained that everything looked like it was developing perfectly.  They did an early fetal echocardiogram and what they could see ruled out Transposition of the Great Arteries (which is what I have) and what they could see looked great.  That really put my mind at ease.  I have been having these weird thoughts from day one about the baby and it was just paranoia.

When we got to the cardiology department (a completely different campus and side of Atlanta), they ran an EKG, pacemaker test, echocardiogram, and other vitals.  Here was the conclusion:

My tricuspid valve, that was replaced ten years ago because of a leak, is now leaking at a "severe" level.  Which currently means I am heart failure...again.  What does this really mean??  When my valve is leaking, the backwash goes into the lungs, which makes it hard to breath and for me to have zero energy.  They have upped my medication dosages in hopes that this can control the leak and help to not retain so much fluid.  My doctor, Dr. Book, has recommended that I do NO kind of physical work at all.  Not to vacuum, mop, and if I need to walk, make it very leisurely; and that all my energy has to go to the baby.  

When a woman is pregnant, her heart works 50% more, and that begins between weeks 22-28.  I have not hit that yet.  I will be 19 weeks tomorrow.  So the worst is yet to come.  During these weeks, actually starting now, it will be crucial to basically do nothing and just let my body rest.  If the home medication is not working and my heart simply cannot take the pregnancy any longer, I will be admitted to the hospital during my January 19th appointment, put on IV diuretics, and stay until the baby is born.  We are trying to prolong this and keep the baby in as long as it is healthy for my body.  

I am a busy body and love being out and about.  Staying home and down is hard for me.  Allowing the house to stay messy until Josh gets home is hard (and it's only been a couple days).  Most of you other women probably can understand.  I still take Charlotte to school and pick her up because I literally am sitting down.  Her teachers get her out and bring her back.  Thank goodness for Walmart Grocery pickup, I do that every Monday right after I drop off Charlotte.  Again, just sitting in the car. Our ward (local church congregation) has been so accommodating and willing to serve us at this time.  

As for how I am feeling, completely wiped out.  Within a day I could feel the effects of the medication and am tired from the moment I wake up in the morning.  Luckily my in-laws are coming for Christmas and I know we will be in great hands.  My MIL will stay with us after the holidays are over and then my mom will come at some point and so will Tahnee.  I really do feel so fortunate to have the best support system.  This is going to be a group effort.  I cannot do this on my own.  I knew getting pregnant would cause some challenges and that is why I waited so long to make a decision.  We are ready to face whatever comes our way and know that Heavenly Father is on our side and everything will be wonderful in the end.  We are so excited for this baby girl to come to our family.  We have been waiting for her for five years and she is exactly what we need to complete our eternal family!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Whitmore

I am still in shock and need to start writing down my thoughts before I forget!!  It's true, another baby Whitmore is coming!  There were more days than not when we thought this was never going to happen.  But there was a lot that went into this decision.  Let me start from the beginning...
Most of you know by now that I was born with a congenital heart disease called, Transposition of the Great Arteries.  I was born with a 7% chance of living at birth.  But I beat the odds and was able to go on and a lead a pretty normal life.  In 2007, I was serving a mission for my church and went into congestive heart failure and had an infection called Endocarditis.  It was pretty traumatic, to say the least, but after having to come home (six months) early, receiving home health care, and having open-heart surgery to replace my tricuspid valve, I was on my way to recover and again, live a pretty normal life. 
 
Three years later I married Josh and tried my hardest to explain what I have been through.  Although he has heard it now a million times, I don't think he quite grasps what it all entails.  In 2012, I had an amazing pregnancy and delivery with Charlotte Lyn and all seemed to be right in the world.  The team of doctors who delivered her had faith that I could do it again and be fine.  I was so hopeful.  We moved to North Carolina in 2014 and the cardiologist I met with there told me to not get pregnant.  I was devastated because we were hoping to get pregnant soon.  Charlotte was 1 1/2 years old and such a great baby.  
I started to look into other options.  Surrogacy, adoption, embryo adoption.  Although it was all very expensive and would be a long process, I continued to go to meetings, met with IVF doctors, talked to agencies for countless hours.  Josh had a very demanding work schedule and was not really able to do any of these things with me.  I did everything I could and would relay all the information, but nothing ever felt 100% right for our family.  Josh and I could never get on the same page at the same time.  Things would come up, and nothing ever seemed to progress.  We also did our fair share of research.  We read several peer reviewed journals and published essays, learning as much as we could about pregnancy and Transposition. We wanted to know we were doing everything we could to educate myself.  We also did countless praying and relying on the Lord and reading my Patriarchal Blessing.  I started to think that we would only have one child and I was content with that.  Honestly, I love having one child.  I love the freedom Charlotte and I have had.  Josh and I were very content with our life.  Life was easy.  
We never once felt pressured that we needed to have more children.  I can honestly say I have never been jealous or bitter when someone would get pregnant or have more children than me. I have learned earlier in life that Heavenly Father has a plan for everyone.  Everyone's plan is so specific to them.  Over the five years of only having Charlotte, I realized that if I were to have another child, the big age gap would be a good thing!

In May, I went to a heart conference in Orlando with my dad.  There I met several other women with TGA that had more than one child.  I met a doctor who had a patient with TGA pregnant with her SEVENTH child.  WHAT??  I just want one more!!  They discussed family planning and how most of the issues I would face could be handled with medication.   I really started feeling better about the decision to get pregnant.  When I returned home, I talked to Josh about everything that was discussed.  He always had faith we could get pregnant.  But I was truly nervous and scared about getting pregnant...until this summer.  I made an appointment with my Cardiologist soon after the conference.  She switched one of my medications that causes birth defects, just in case I did get pregnant.   
During the summer we planned to get pregnant in August or September to have a spring baby.  Even though I got pregnant right away with Charlotte, I thought it would take a while since I am older.  But nope, first try (TMI??) we got pregnant and I thought, "ok, Heavenly Father has another child to send to our family."  Our decision was even more confirmed.  We moved to South Carolina but I would keep my doctors in Atlanta.  They want to see me often and the commute isn't horrible.  It's a small price to pay for the reassurance of excellent doctors.  I am being seen by a perinatologist, OB/GYN, and cardiologist.  They will work on my case together and all discuss a plan for me and baby and how to keep us safe and healthy.  My due date is May 9, 2018.  

In the very beginning of my pregnancy I had so many weird emotions.  When I got pregnant with Charlotte, I was excited from day 1!  With this pregnancy, I had a really hard time accepting I was pregnant.  I was not excited and kept questioning our decision.  I realized that these feelings were of selfish reasons.  Starting over with a baby is a lot of work.  Charlotte is so independent and can do pretty much everything by herself.  But the more I would tell people and the more real this pregnancy has become, I would get a little more excited.  Now I can say I am 100% excited and cannot wait to meet this bundle of joy!!

Doctors are expecting the worst and we are hoping for the best. My next appointment will be December 8.  That will be the anatomy appointment, along with the routine check-ups.  They want to see me every month until I deliver.  They are mostly concerned with week 20, and the few weeks after.  That is around Christmas.  I have been told not to travel to Utah due to the high elevation.  So we will be spending the holidays in our new home and I am really looking forward to that!  I am trying to take it easy (as much as you can when you move).  The first 6 weeks I was exhausted to the point where I felt I couldn't do anything!!  Luckily, Tahnee was still living with us and was a huge help during our move.  What would I do without her??  I have been feeling much more productive, but by the end of the day, I just crash!  My parents have been here for the past few days and really have been a huge help as well.  
My parents arrived on Sunday and didn't know I was pregnant.  We told them as they walked through the front door.  Monday we had a 3D ultrasound to find out the gender and it's a GIRL!!!  Charlotte was so excited.  She needs a sister!!!  We were totally surprised because we were all convinced it was a boy.  I couldn't sleep at all that night because I was so excited and still in shock.  We have a lot to do to get ready for this little girl and cannot wait!  If you have any more questions or want to know anything, you know I'm an open book and would love to chat.  Feel free to reach out.   I will be doing my best to keep everyone updated on the progress of this pregnancy.  




Monday, November 6, 2017

Rocking Horse Ranch

Each year, Josh’s Family gets together for a family reunion/vacation. Most of the trips have been in the summer at a beach, but this year was spent in the beautiful fall foliage of upstate New York. We stayed at the all-inclusive Rocking Horse Ranch. Everyone arrived on Sunday and stayed until Friday. Unfortunately, Josh and Dan’s girlfriend, Laura Jane, had to leave earlier to get back to work. We all had a great time being together and enjoying what this season has to offer!

We were the first to fly in with Yvonne, Josh’s Grandma. Rick and Eve only had a short drive up from Connecticut and had arrived right before we did. Perfect timing! We got situated in our rooms and then went around touring the ranch. The weekends are the busiest time of the week, but even then we didn’t feel like it was crowded. There were more families when we first arrived. 

Throughout the week we did activities like mountain tubing, “bungee jumping,” paddle boats, mini golf, lots of swimming, played in the Fun Barn, Horse back riding, pony rides (for the little girls), ate a lot of great food, went to the shows every night, won every trivia game we played and even ventured off the ranch.



















At the beginning of the week, everyone except me, Charlotte and Tess, went and walked over the longest walking bridge over the Hudson River. I was bummed to miss it, but Charlotte was not having it and once Teas found out she was staying, she didn’t want to go. Kind of a bummer because this was the only group shot we got all week. 


Another day we drove over to Storm King. I had never heard of this place but it was pretty cool! The grounds were gorgeous and there was actually a lot to do. You could spend a whole afternoon there. Riding bikes, grabbing lunch at the cafe, taking the tour, looking at all the sculptures. If you are ever up that way, I would highly recommend it. It’s not far from NYC either. 








On our last full day, Thursday, my father-in-law fell of a horse during an advanced horse back riding session. They took him to the local ER, where they found out he had a concussion, five broken ribs, and a broken collarbone. He had to stay overnight at the hospital and be monitored. He ended up coming back to the ranch and eventually was able to go home.  He is in our thoughts and prayers daily and we hope for a speedy recovery!

Overall we had a great time.  Our flights were booked from Atlanta (before we knew we were moving), so Charlotte and I had quite the journey back home.  Luckily we still had our apartment!  The next morning, we loaded the car with random stuff we had left, knowing we were coming back, and headed home.  We were missing Josh a lot and couldn't wait to see him!!