Monday, August 31, 2009

Update from Doctor

Just got back from the specialist. Not much change from 2 weeks ago. There is about the same amount of fluid and I am thankful for that. They didn't do a full scan where they do all the measurements but will do it in another 2 weeks.

I know I should be more happy but honestly I was hoping that after another 2 weeks of bed rest there would be a lot more fluid. But even as the doctor said, even if there was more fluid that doesn't guarantee better results. (It would make me feel better, though!)

The next few weeks will be hard as I wait to go the hospital, but I pray that God lets me continue on this journey and that He gives me peace through it all. I also pray that He calms my anxious heart.

We need to continue to plead for this baby to be healthy - for her lungs to develop and for her to be able to breathe when she is born. Pray also that I make it as long as possible - to 34-35 weeks. The longer the baby is inside me the better.

Someone shared with me a story yesterday of a woman with a similar situation as mine. She was told to terminate her pregnancy on numerous occasions but instead chose life. Hundreds of people prayed for her baby throughout her pregnancy and God heard their prayers. She now has a little boy. Hearing that story  (see link on my blog) gave me more hope. I pray that can be our story, too!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feeling anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

My mom got a plastic bin at Target today and filled it with special toys and activities that I can do with Mary Lawrence on the bed. We put a cute little "doctor's kit" in there. Someone suggested it might a be a good idea to start preparing her for mommy's time in the hospital. Mary Lawrence is already having such a hard time with me being in the bed all the time.  I am just dreading how my hospital stay will affect her. She can't tell us how she is feeling - if she is scared or worried - she just doesn't understand and it breaks my heart. I have been in tears a lot today because of it.

But while I am so worried about how Mary Lawrence will take to my absence, I am also really anxious to get to 23 weeks and get to the hospital. Fears have been creeping up the past few days. My biggest fear is that I will get an infection or go into labor before then. I so badly want to make it far enough where the doctors will give our baby a chance. I feel like I have made it so far and want to keep going! Please pray that my fears will subside, that I will be strong and courageous. And that my faith will continue to grow.

And please don't stop praying for our little girl! We still have such a long way to go. We go to the specialist tomorrow afternoon and are praying we see more fluid and everything else is still developing normally.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Remembering Anne

I first met Anne after she had just moved to town from the heart of South Carolina. We shared a class together and I remember that first day clearly. Like typical ebullient Anne, within 10 minutes she acted as though she has been going to our school for years. She talked and smiled to everyone, and soon had everyone in the class laughing hysterically at her hilarious commentary on just about every subject. Anne was so endearing, but she was also gorgeous. Long, blond hair and always immaculately dressed, her smile would radiate up and down the halls, making guys drool and girls envy her. But Anne was not only beautiful, she was brilliant and driven - that first day I met her she told me all of her life plans (which included being a t.v. anchor- check!). We quickly found we had common interests in politics and fashion. But most loveable about Anne was that she was genuinely nice and good hearted. And I instantly wanted to be her friend.

Through the years Anne would become like part of my family - like a really sweet cousin that could almost be your sister. Our mothers are best friends and we spent many holidays and special times together. She was in my wedding,too. We may not have talked all the time, but I loved her and would have done anything for her, just like I know she would have done for me.

So last October when Anne's life was brutally taken from her at the age of 26 I was devastated along with so many others who adored her. Many of you know about her death because it was a national headline for so long. What happened to her was so horrible, so unbelievable that for a long time I felt that it was just a huge nightmare. How could such a thing happen to someone so lovely, so God-fearing, so pure? How could God take the only child of her mother? How could He let her live five days in the hospital, giving us all that hope, only to take her home in the end?

I had so much anger about it for so long and often just wanted to hit something really hard with a baseball bat! (I didn't, I promise!) I have seen a lot of tragedies in my life, and don't think I ever really questioned God's sovereignty during those hard times. But this was different. It all just seemed a bit too cruel, too unfair, too un-God like. But when I started having thoughts like this, I always tried to remember Anne's strong faith and her trust in the Lord. I think if she could talk to us now, she could confirm what many of us believe by faith - that God works out everything, even the tragedies, for our good and for His glory She could tells us this for sure because like a good journalist, she has seen the true story for herself! To think she has already met our Lord and Savior! And He has revealed to her so much that us left here on Earth do not yet know.

Thinking about our loved ones in heaven is an interesting thing. There are so many ideas of what's it's like up there, all wonderful and hopeful. But I know there have been times in my life when things are going so good, like when I just had Mary Lawrence, and I honestly think, "I hope I don't die soon because nothing could be better than my life right now." But the truth is, heaven is better than anything here on this Earth. In heaven, there are no wants, no desires, no needs, no heartbreaks, no illnesses, no death. Our souls are completely and utterly satisfied. Upon hearing of Anne's death, author Beth Moore called her mom, Patti, to give her words of strength and wisdom. Anne had attended one of her "Women of Faith" conferences just prior to her death and Beth Moore was so moved by her story. One of the things she said was that even though we are all suffering her tragic death, if Anne had the choice, she would not want to come back to this life. The reason: she has tasted heaven and it is too good! It's pretty amazing to think that even with all that Anne had so much going for her here - her career, her talent, her beauty, her success - all of that is nothing compared to glory that is promised to those who love Him.

Anne's life and death is such a testimony to me personally, especially during this time in my life when I especially realize how precious life is. I remember a story her mom shared with me several years ago. In the middle of the night, something that told Patti that Anne was in danger. She got out of bed and realized the house was on fire, and the flames were coming up fast. Anne's room was on the other side of the house, nearly impossible to get to. But Patti prayed and pleaded with the Lord to let her be able to get to Anne and save her. Miraculously, Patti was able to walk past the flames down the hall and into Anne's room, and scoop her precious baby girl up, who was untouched by the fire, and the two of them made it safely outside. The house burned to the ground shortly thereafter.

I think ever since that incident, Patti knew that her time on Earth with Anne was a gift. And she learned early on what most mothers never want to : that our children really belong to their Creator and that we are not guaranteed a lifetime them. Each day was a gift and she taught that to Anne, who truly lived each day to the fullest - always vibrant, always joyful. She lived a life "worthy of the calling" in part because of the example of her God-fearing mother, who encouraged and guided her throughout her life. Thinking of their sweet relationship brings tears to my eyes because it was so close and so precious. They loved and cherished each other as all mothers and daughters should. I hope to be that kind of mother to both my girls. And I hope I can raise them to be a godly woman like Anne. What a gift Anne gave to her mother - nothing could me more comforting to Patti than to know that Anne is safe with her Father in heaven.

Even though her death is still so fresh on our minds, I felt I should write about her today, on what would have been Anne's 27th birthday. For the rest of my life I will remember precious Anne Pressly and the amazing legacy she left to so many. Since her death, people have come forward with so many stories of how she touched their lives in some way or another. And how her life and death sparked their faith in God. We may not see all of God's purposes right now, but we have seen some. No doubt glory has come to His name through this tragedy, and that's just what Anne would have wanted.

Anne Pressly Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 77, Little Rock, AR 72203

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Update from Doctor

"Neither the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." Exodus 13:22

We had a good appointment today. The fluid levels were about the same (which is better than them going down!) but the encouraging news was that he saw fluid in the baby's stomach. This is important because it means the baby is swallowing fluid. And if she is swallowing fluid, it means that it's probably in her lungs! So that was great news for us.

I am so grateful that each time we go to the doctor it seems God gives us a little nugget of hope to continue on this very scary path. Some might chock it up to good luck or coincidence, but that would not be acknowledging and praising His obvious works. Looking back through the weeks, I can see God answering our prayers in His own perfect way, reminding us that He is listening and that He is in control.

Someone gave me a book recently recounting the Israelites exodus from Egypt. I had forgotten that when God led them out of Egypt to the Red Sea, He took the form of a cloud that stayed ahead of His frightened people and led them step by step to where He wanted them to go.

In life, sometimes we all wish God would be so visible like that cloud. But even though we can't see a cloud or see Jesus walking in front of us, the Bible tells us He is always here with us. (Rom 8:9) The Sunday that this all started five weeks ago our minister spoke about God's omnipresence. He said that God is just as present in the good times as he is in the tragic ones, just like He is just as present at church on Sundays as He is in my room as I type this posting. I have thought a lot about that truth since then because I find that after this past month I truly believe it! This may sound kooky but I truly feel God's presence in me and His peace blanketing my soul. And although God may not be a visible cloud walking in front of me on this scary road, like a lamp onto my feet He is leading my every step. And not only that, but He has been so good to me by giving me a little hope each step of the way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Justin emailed me this picture recently with the subject: "The only thing I am thinking about"."  It took me a while to get what he meant (duh - it'a a picture of a bunch of leaves) but once I did, I thought it was really sweet.

They're all I'm really thinking about, too. It's such a crucial time for the baby's lung development, and as the doctor said, we need to pray especially for those litlte "leaves." (See Update from last week if you have no idea what I am talking about!) I am constanly praying - all day and all night - and I am trying so hard to remain still and calm so as to keep as much fluid in there as possible. (It's very stressful, I might add!)

The tough part about it is that it's not like the doctors can look on the ultrasound in a few weeks to see if the lungs have developed properly or not. There's no way to tell, not until she's born and has to breathe on her own. So all we can do until then is pray and wait.

In the meantime I can be so thankful for each week I make it in my pregnancy. I am 19 weeks now! I have made it 5 weeks on bed rest and only have 4 more to go before I go to the hospital. I just pray that I can keep going like this without any further complications and without going completely crazy from not being able to get our of bed but just a few times a day! But so far, so good. And I am looking forward to going back to my doctor on Thursday for more encouraging news!

One more thing: I wanted to say how much I appreciate all the comments people write on the blog.  I know I have not responded to most of them (mostly cause I don't have your email addresses) but I can't tell you how much it means to me to read your encouraging and sweet words.  To those of you I know and to those of you I don't: thank you for all of your prayers for our baby. It is so humbling and so touching, more than you'll ever know.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Poem for Our Baby

Dear little baby, our precious child,
Do you know how loved you are?
There are so many unknowns about you
But it doesn't matter, cause you're ours.

The color of your eyes may still be a mystery
As well as the shade of your hair.
Will you have your daddy's smile
Or like mama, will your skin be fair?

We love to hear your heart beating,
And your kicks make stronger our faith.
Already your personality is shining through-
Such perseverance and such strength.

I wonder: will you be a graceful dancer
Or would you rather play outdoors?
Will your prefer the cold mountains
Or a summer at the shore?

Do you know you have a sister?
Who will guide you through fun and strife.
She doesn't know it yet,
But you will be a treasure throughout her life.

I hope you grow up and marry a sweet man,
And want babies just the same.
Only then will you truly know
What a blessing you are to my name.

One thing about you is certain,
And that one thing I need you to know:
You are a child of God, dear baby,
And His love for you is more than we could ever bestow.

So whether He gives you to us a while longer
Or takes you home immediately,
Please know you are always loved and protected,
Safe in His arms for all eternity.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Leaving more room for faith

"Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5

I have always been aware that a lot of unplanned and unwanted babies were aborted each day. But after a conversation with my doctor, I started to wonder how many wanted babies were terminated every day because the mother's doctor advised them, perhaps unnecessarily, to do so.

When this happened five weeks ago, one of my doctors told me that if I had gone to the government-funded "public" hospital, they wouldn't have given me the option of bed rest and hospital stay, but instead would have "taken my baby" right away. In other words, they would have induced labor immediately and have me deliver a baby that they know would be unable to survive outside the womb. What?!! I got chills down my spine hearing that. Maybe I am naive or just ignorant, but to me that just seems barbaric. Now I know why they do it: there is a chance of infection to the mother and the public run hospitals aren't going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on weekly ultrasounds and a possible extended bed rest hospital if the baby is more likely to die than not (which makes me quite wary of any significant government involvement in health care - but that's another blog for another day!) Anyways, it just broke my heart for those mothers, and for those babies, who aren't given a chance at life. Their little lives aren't deemed "worth a try."

After that conversation with my doctor, I started looking into the frequency in which doctors advise women to terminate their pregnancies, when there may, in fact, be hope after all. I came across hundreds of stories of women who were told to terminate their pregnancies but refused and ended up having healthy babies. For example, there was a study that came a while back out (and I admit I don't know how accurate it is was) but it said that pregnant women who get cancer are told more often than necessary to terminate their pregnancies - citing the very real risk of chemotheraphy and radiation to the baby. But often times the women with cancer who choose to keep their baby go onto have normal pregnancies and healthy children. Just a few weeks ago I saw a mom on the "Today Show" who found out she had cancer shortly after finding out she was pregnant. She was told she had to terminate, but she did her own research and weighed the risks and decided to keep her child. He is now a healthy little boy.

Another example is Pam Tebow, at the time a missionary in the Philippines. Her husband tells the story:

"When I was out in the mountains in Mindanao, back in '86, I was showing a film and preaching that night. I was weeping over the millions of babies being [aborted] in America, and I prayed, 'God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I'll raise him to be a preacher.'" Not long after, Bob and Pam Tebow conceived their fifth child. It was a very difficult pregnancy. "The placenta was never properly attached, and there was bleeding from the get-go," Bob recalls. "We thought we'd lost him several times." Early in the pregnancy Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, which briefly put her in a coma. Her doctors, fearful that medications they had given her had damaged the fetus, advised her to abort it. She refused, and on Aug. 14, 1987, Pam delivered a healthy if somewhat scrawny Timothy Richard Tebow." (SI Archives)

That baby is now the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in history and another example a mother who was told her baby had little hope, but instead trusted God's plan for her son's life. I wonder what her doctors think now when they see Tim Tebow throw a winning touchdown.

In our particular case, I know the odds of our baby surviving are low- about 10% according to one doctor. But while that number is small it is still something! I have read countless stories of women who had my same condition and yet delivered healthy babies - all of whom were told to terminate their pregnancies. Again, it is just a fraction of the cases but for me it is enough hope to keep me going. I mean, how often are doctors wrong about predicting life and death? As many people know from experience with sick family members only God truly knows the outcome. To me, taking a mothers unborn baby because of the low chances of survival is the same thing as saying to a cancer patient or a someone with a terrible heart condition "we aren't going to pay for life saving treatment because your outlook just isn't good enough." Believe me, if your young toddler was given a 10% chance of surviving wouldn't you still want him to have access to the best treatment and care to help him fall info that small percentage of survival? We would all want this for our loved ones, why not for the unborn?

Now I don't pretend to be an expert on any of these matters and I don't intend to criticize doctors, who I know are trying to look out for their patients' best interest. Nor do I pretend to ignore the obvious fact that miracles do happen, which explains a lot of the unexpected happy outcomes. I am just saying that it is quite disconcerting to hear of all these stories. Maybe more research needs to be done to see if the physicians' guidelines for recommending abortions are on target. Or, do they need to be updated so unnecessary terminations are not performed, cutting short the possibility for that "miracle" to occur and leaving mothers wondering the rest of their lives if things could have turned out differently? One thing that I hope happens is that doctors who recommend abortions also give the mothers all the appropriate information and research about the possibilities, including if there is a chance(however small) for the baby to survive.

Perhaps more doctors should do what one of my doctors said to me, "I make my predictions and my diagnosis as best as I can, but I always try to leave a little room for faith." Amen to that, but I'd say let's leave a lot of room for faith!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Right or left on Oak Street tonight?

My grandfather once told me about a good old country song about a man and his mundane life called "Right or Left on Oak Street." The folksy lyrics tell of a man who on the way home from work everyday takes a right on Oak Street to get home. But then one day, when he just can't take life anymore, he decides to take a left instead. My grandfather said back in his day when someone they knew when off the deep end, his friends would jokingly say, "Well, you know Bob took a left on Oak Street today."

Well for the past few weeks we have been teasing Justin that he might be taking a left on Oak Street soon. It just seems like one thing after another keeps happening and I wonder: how much more can one person take? I mean the poor guy works more than anyone I know. And he tries so hard to still make time for us by coming home a dinner time for a few hours and them going back to work until 2 or 3 am. But on top of being completely worn out, he has an emotional wife, a 2 year old who needs one stable parent, and an unborn baby whose future is unknown. But then on top of that, last week our water heater burst and flooded our kitchen (we've been without hot water for a week), and last night as he was up in the attic trying to get ready to replace it, he literally fell through the ceiling into the living room.

Normally a 15 square foot hole in my painted ceiling and a huge pile of grey insulation spread across my otherwise spotless living room would send me into hysterics. Maybe I didn't freak out because I really do have to remain calm for the sake of my baby. Or maybe it's that compared to the severity of our current situation, nothing else really seems worth getting upset about anymore. But honestly I think I remained collected because as I looked at Justin covered in dust and insulation, I honestly wondered how close he was to running out in front of traffic.

Now don't get me wrong, I was definitely upset. As Justin and his friend tried to repair the gaping hole, I did go into my mom's room and cry for a good while . But as my mom and I lay in the dark, hot guest room (did I mention he ripped the AC duct out when he fell?), every once in a while one of us would burst out into hysterical laughter at the thought of Justin dangling through the ceiling. I mean, really, you can't make this stuff up.

Luckily, my husband has the best sense of humor of anyone I know and has been cracking jokes ever since it happened. If it wasn't for this uncanny ability to make light of any terrible situation (and the grace of God throughout this hard time), I really would worry he would be taking a left on Oak Street on the way home tonight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Update from Doctor

"There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours." Psalm 86:8

Praise God! We had a good doctor's appointment today! The perinatologist saw more fluid -still only about 10% of what's normal- but he saw good pockets of it around the baby. He also said the baby is measuring normally which is another huge answer to prayer.

And he said he's not 100% sure but it looks like it's a girl! I have been thinking it is a boy this whole time (so much for gut feelings) but they haven't been able to tell me the sex because the sonogram sees through water and since there is no fluid, they couldn't tell. But I hope it is true because he also said girls have better survival rates as preemies with their lungs maturing faster. So just hearing that the baby is most likely a girl gave me such encouragement as well.

Furthermore, the doctors was still very realistic that our situation is dire and we need to keep praying. He told us specifically what to pray for so I will list them here (and on my prayer list to the side) so those so sweetly praying for this baby can know exactly what to pray for:

1. The lungs: He likened them to an upside down tree with the trachea being the trunk; the bronchi the branches; and the alveoli the leaves (see diagram below). He said we need to pray for the leaves! He said when you blow up a balloon the first thing you do is stretch it. That's what the baby does in the womb as her lungs develop - she is slowly contracting the lungs in preparation for breathing outside the womb. The important thing is that the alveoli (the leaves) are able to stretch out like this, too, and develop perfectly so that she can breathe. The amniotic fluid allows the alveoli to stretch and develop so that's why more fluid is so crucial.

2. The brain: Brain damage is another risk. Right now the brain looks normal. But he said if too much water gets around the brain (1 cm or more) then there is brain damage. So please pray against that and the brain keeps developing normally.

The doctor we saw today was so kind and thorough and his calmness really helped us today. I thank God for him, too!

Thank you Lord for the good news today. You have answered our prayers and given us hope to go on. Thank you for this precious baby. Please let her continue to grow and develop normally. Please keep me healthy so I can go to as close to full term as possible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What happened to Tara?

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me." Psalm 138:7

Last night as I lay in bed waiting for Justin to get home from work, I started thinking about one of my favorite films (and novels) Gone with the Wind and particularly about Scarlett O'Hara as she was stuck in Atlanta while it was being surrounded and consequently destroyed by General Sherman's troops.

Scarlett's short stay in Atlanta had been horrible from the start- she was forced to nurse severely wounded soldiers, she became a widow of a man she didn't love, she had little food because of war rations, and her friend was deathly ill after Scarlett begrudgingly delivered her baby. In other words, things were pretty grim. But the ever determined Scarlett realized that if she could just get back to Tara, her parents' beloved country plantation, there would be plenty of food and help and everything would be okay.

So in the middle of the night, Rhett Butler helped them escape the city. They fought off Yankees, bullets and fires all through the night. Once Rhett left to go join the Rebel cause, Scarlett had to make the rest of the terrifying journey by herself with a sick mother and screaming baby in tow. As she raced through the dark countryside, Scarlett kept reminding herself that when she got back to Tara, her old life of wealth and ease would return.

But that didn't happen. When they finally came upon Tara the next day, Scarlett found her family's once beautiful estate nearly destroyed and the land completely barren. The Yankees had ravaged the house, the crops, and the animals. There was no food, no slaves to help, and on top of that, her beloved mother had passed away just hours earlier and her father had gone stark raving mad. Scarlett's troubles were really just beginning.

I definitely relate to Scarlett and her hope that she was escaping adversity to get to a more blissful place like Tara. I feel like I already have had my "Atlanta." This past year has been the most difficult of my life - death, murder, miscarriage, two unforgiving jobs. I told myself through all of this hardship that things would soon get better. I thought that once I got pregnant again we would have joy and calmness and our lives will feel normal again." (How proud I was to think that I knew what was best for us!) But like Scarlett, who thinks Tara will be her salvation and happiness, that has not happened just yet. Her time of hardship was not over when she escaped Atlanta and ours isn't either.

I told a friend today that sometimes I just look up to God and say, "Haven't we been through enough?" "I have already experienced so much loss and grief, couldn't I have a little happiness and stability for a while?" (Again, it's funny that I think I know how much tribulation is "enough" for God's purposes.) The bottom line is that I just don't know why God is allowing all of these things to happen right now in the prime of our lives. But I do know and can trust through his written Word that He has a purpose. I may or may not see that purpose in this lifetime, but I can trust that he is working out everything for my good.

In the end, after much hard work and struggle, Scarlett was eventually able to restore Tara to its former glory. Now I know that I, too, can have confidence that one day my brokenness (and the world's brokenness for that matter) will be restored to completion in the glory of Heaven. And I can be thankful that God is continually working in me until that day to bring me closer to Him, especially through all these trials and tribulations. I hope and pray that I will arise from this stronger and holier, and will one day soon be able to experiences joy, stability and fruitfulness again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Update from Doctor

I wish this posting brought news of amazing changes and miraculous healing. I have not given up hope for that but today things are about the same.

Our doctor saw about the same amount of fluid as a week ago. Of course I am grateful for any fluid, but I was just hoping that after another week of bed rest more had accumulated. The baby is measuring a week behind but he was not very worried about that. We go back to the specialist on Monday where they have a better sonogram machine and will be able to tell us a lot more about the fluid levels and baby's growth. They are always so negative there (I know they are just being factual) but it's just really hard on both of us every time we leave. I just pray that they see something really positive to give us a little more encouragement and hope. We really need that right now.

I feel drained emotionally and physically at this hour. When you spend all your time in the bed a simple car ride can be exhausting. A lot of tears today but tomorrow should be better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My new calendar

My weeks are no longer measured by what day of the week it is. Rather, each day is a countdown to my next doctor's appointment: One day until I go to my doctor, five days until I go to the specialist. Or it is measured by how far along my pregnancy is - today I am 17 weeks, 2 days.

Every day that I wake up with no major changes is another victory: I have made it one more day with my baby safely inside me. One day closer to the magic number of 23 weeks when I will be admitted to the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. I could never before have imagined a situation where I was looking forward to going to the hospital for possibly many months. But for me it is about being at that magic number when the baby is considered "viable" by doctors and they will actually try to save the baby if he is born past that time.

The next few weeks are crucial. The baby's lungs develop tissue between 18-20 weeks and without amniotic fluid they cannot develop properly. I might make it to 40 weeks but if the lungs are not developed when the baby is born, he will not be able to breathe. I try not to think about the horror of that situation. Instead, I am fervently praying for renewed hope at our appointment tomorrow afternoon. I pray we see a lot more fluid and see that the baby is still growing properly. I am praying, as someone told me recently, that this baby is our "miracle baby"!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Picture of Courage

Megan and I met 10 years ago this past April. We were on a walking tour of Vanderbilt during "Decision Weekend," in which admitted students are invited to campus to help them decide if they want to attend the university. Walking side by side, with our parents in tow, neither one of us said a word to each other (being both shy and overwhelmed at the prospects of future college life). Finally our un-shy parents struck up a conversation with each other and introduced us.

Once we started talking, we couldn't stop. I learned she was from Atlanta (she definitely exuded refinement and Southern charm). She loved Martha Stewart (pre-prison time) and Aretha Franklin (this was a surprise). She loved babysitting and Vera Bradley bags and Christmas time. And she was hysterical (although she didn't know it). We were so into our conversation, and how much we had in common, that neither one of us saw the telephone pole right in our path. And the next thing I know, Megan walks smack into that wooden pole on busy 21st avenue. I knew she was mortified, poor thing! But Megan shrugged her shoulders, swept back her gorgeous dark hair, and said with a big smile, "I'm fine, I promise!" and gracefully kept walking down the street. I loved her instantly.

The rest of weekend that Megan and I were inseparable. In our conversation, she told me her dad really wanted her to go to the University of Georgia (it was free, so who could blame him?). But I knew in my heart we were meant to be lifelong friends, so I spent the next few weeks calling her, harassing her really, trying to persuade her to go to Vanderbilt (sorry, Mr.Gaddis!). My powers of persuasion worked and Megan sent in her acceptance packet. I was overjoyed.

Megan and I were freshman roommates. Everyone was so impressed with our matching Pottery Barn floral duvets and our coordinating sheets, pillows, picture frames, bulletin boards - okay so we went a little overboard. But it was our new home and we loved it. It wasn't an easy year but we made it through together. We made all the same precious group of friends that lasts until this day. We roomed across the hall from each other sophomore year and together again junior year. Senior year I felt an urge to graduate early and get married. Megan was one of my bridesmaids. We stayed close after college, visiting each other at least once a year on a girls' trip. We talked often on the phone about everything from the absurdity of to the latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

I was so excited to talk to Megan when I was pregnant with ML. She knew more about children than I did after having been an avid babysitter, child development major, and an amazing kindergarten teacher. I always told her she was going to be the most amazing mother with her patience and gentle nature. But in the months before my due date, Megan never returned my phone calls. I didn't think much of it at first, as she was always so busy with a new art class or organizing a Bible study, and I was preparing for a new baby.

But I would soon learn that during these few months Megan was in the beginning stages of one of the worst diseases I had never heard of, and she didn't even know it. She had strange experiences where she couldn't remember where her keys were or couldn't remember how to get home from a usual store. Nothing that serious, so she just chocked it up to stress. But when these odd occurrences didn't stop, Megan went to see her doctor but was assured that she was as healthy as any 26 year old could be. But then her handwriting started becoming sloppier (unusual for Megan who has beautiful penmanship) and other normal life became more difficult.
Megan didn't mention any of these things to anyone for months (probably not wanting to burden anyone in typical Megan fashion) and just tried to figure out ways to compensate for her weakening abilities. For instance, she had her one of kindergartners write down the lunch count every day at school. And while at lunch with a mutual friend, she asked the friend to sign her credit card receipt. The friend didn't think anything about it, but later realized it was because Megan could no longer write her name.

I finally spoke with Megan about this time and she told me she had gotten into three different minor car wrecks in one week- she said she couldn't remember where the break was. That's when her parents realized something was seriously wrong and started taking her to every doctor in Atlanta they thought could give them answers. As we got off the phone, in her usual upbeat voice, she said to me, "Don't worry, I am sure everything will be fine!"

I was so worried Megan might have a brain tumor or early a super early onset of Alzheimer's. But I was elated a few weeks later when we spoke and she told me that the doctors had done every test, scan, X ray imaginable and everything came back normal. What a relief, I said. I just knew she was going to be okay.

But everything was not okay. Megan's condition continued to worsen. I talked to her on the phone a few weeks after her "good results." She was in the car with her mom racing to another doctor's office. I asked her point blank what was going on. Megan struggled to tell me something, but couldn't seem to find the words to say it. She had to hand the phone to her mom. It was the last time Megan would ever talk to me. A few weeks later when I called, her speech was completely gone. Her mom held the phone to her ear and I sputtered on like a fool telling her how much I loved her and cared for her and how I would do anything to help her get through this. It was such a scary time. Everything was happening so fast and no one could seem to stop the downward spiral .
It was a month or so later in June 2007 that her family received the awful diagnosis: Megan had a rare variant of of the degenerative brain disease known as CJD, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, that affects one in 150 billion people. There is no cure, no treatment, no radical clinical trials, no hope at all for those diagnosed. Once you are given the diagnosis, you go home and await death. Most people with CJD are old, and live only a few days or weeks after diagnosis. But because Megan was a healthy young woman, she lived a year before succumbing to the disease nearly a year ago.

By the time the doctor's figured out and correctly diagnosed her disease, Megan's mind was too sick to know and understand the diagnosis. God protected her from knowing what was going to happen to her in the coming months and we were so thankful for that. But while she never knew the official diagnosis, Megan definitely knew during the months leading up to this that something was terribly wrong with her mind and body.
And that's what is so inspiring to me about Megan. She must have been so frightened and felt so alone as she slowly lost her ability to complete everyday tasks and then later as she was poked and prodded by doctor after doctor - most of whom were unable to give her answers. But as her mom later learned through her journal, her faith in a sovereign God did not waver. Her journal was filled with prayers of adoration and praise for the Lord, and also prayers of dignified courage and amazing strength. While her handwriting was faltering during those last few entries, her faith did not. I am sure her mom won't mind if I share one of her last journal entries, in which she wrote something to the effect of "Lord I don't know what's going on with my body, but I know you have a plan and a purpose and I trust you." How amazing that with so many dark and unknown waters surrounding her, Megan was able to put her complete faith in Jesus. She wasn't angry or bitter, even though I am sure she felt her life was spinning out of control. And she didn't know if she would ever get better, but she knew the Lord knew His plan for her. And she trusted that.

So many people are brought up in the church, go to weekly Bible studies, and love to sing wonderful hymns and songs about Jesus and his love, his mercy, and his sovereignty. But when life really gets tough, how many people really fall back on those truths? How many turn instead to curse His name? Not Megan, she praised Him, and trusted Him, and loved Him. While no one else was looking, in a quiet corner of Atlanta, Megan walked through the darkest and loneliest valley, all the while holding onto to the one who said He would never leaver her, and that was Jesus. She picked up her cross and followed Him all the way to end. And so today on what would be her 28th birthday, I remember her strong and pure faith and her amazing courage. I miss my dear friend and think about her every single day, and every time I do - especially during this particular time in my life - I am given a true picture of true courage.

Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation


"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

I am panicked. I don't know why. Well, I do. I just don't know why I can be feeling positive for a few days and them, BAM! - I realize again the severity of the situation and I start hyperventilating.

This morning my sweet sister organized ML's messy closet at my request. She brought all of her clothes in my room to sort and we made a huge pile of Spring dresses to put in the attic, never to be worn again. It made me so sad that the baby chapter of ML's life is over. She is about to start potty training (thanks to my mom) and move to her big bed soon. Maybe I wouldn't be so sad if I knew I had another healthy little baby on the way to sleep in that precious crib and play with her baby toys, but I don't know if that will be the case. But I guess what what makes me more upset is that I might miss out on the next 4 0r 5 months of ML's life if I continue on bed rest like this.

And that's when I started thinking horrible thoughts (which led to the aforementioned hyperventilating): "What if I carry this baby for months only to have him die? I will have missed out on so much of ML's life and still be without my baby. ML might not want me after being taken care of by others for so long. What if there are complications and I can't have any more children and no one wears these beautiful clothes again? What if ML never has a sibling? The guilt and sorrow will overwhelm me. What if get some horrible infection and both baby and me die, leaving ML without a mother?

Like I said, horrible thoughts. As I write this I realize I am fearful. And weak. And hurting. I need to stop writing and pray more. What's that Bible verse, "For when I am weak, I am strong'?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Body of Christ at Work

I mentioned the other day how awesome it would be to touch Jesus' robe like the bleeding woman does in the Bible. Well, yesterday while reading a Max Lucado book I came across this passage:

We can still touch the body of Christ. We'd love to touch his physical wounds and feel the flesh of the Nazarene. Yet when we brush up against the church, we do just that. "The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." (Ephesians 1:23 NLT)

I always knew believers were referred to as "the body" but it is not until this experience that I have truly felt and understood what that means. I really have brushed up to Jesus in the past three weeks because the body of believers has stepped forward to show His love in such amazing ways. For example,we have had meals brought to us nearly every day, play dates organized for ML, free airplane tickets given to my family to fly back and forth to help us. People have dropped by books, movies, and lots of magazines to help out with the monotony of bed rest and other friends have brought me lunch and milkshakes.

Let me not forget to mention the prayers lists we are on from San Francisco to England. My aunt shared with me that her housekeeper's preacher prayed for us at the pulpit of her inner city Memphis church last Sunday. No one knows us at that church yet they lifted us up in prayer, "bearing each other burdens" as Galatians says, because that is what we are called to do as the body of Christ. How touching that was for us to hear this story!

Justin and I are so moved and humbled by the outpouring of notes, phone calls, flowers, facebook messages and, most importantly, prayers. I have felt so close to Christ because of all of you and just wanted to say thanks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update from Doctor Appointment

Praise God! We went to my doctor today, and he said it looked like there was more fluid than last week! It's just a fraction of what's normal, but he showed us little pockets of fluid around the baby's head and bottom. I am so thankful and pray that God keeps giving him more and more fluid!

We saw the baby's face today, too. Eyes, nose, lips - a perfect little profile. And I fell in love! I want this baby more than anything. Want to hold and kiss him. I just long for the day when I can.

Thank you for praying. Our situation is still dire and so we will continue to pray for miraculous healing and protection for our baby. The heart rate was lower than it was a few days ago, which worries me, but the dr. said it was still normal. Please pray that for the health of this baby - for him to be getting all the nutrients and and blood supply needed. To keep him strong and healthy.

"We praise you, Lord, for the good news today! Thank you for your goodness and mercy. Please protect this little baby and provide just enough nutrients and fluid for the baby to thrive."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pour Our Your Power

Last week I was awakened at 5 am by the loudest boom of thunder I've ever heard in my life. I shot out of bed and looked out my window to find torrential rain flooding our streets and lighting bursting out of the sky every five seconds. I quickly turned out the news which thankfully confirmed the tornado warnings had passed. So I crawled back in bed and decided to just listen to the pounding thunder and rain above.

That's when I started thinking about how God's awesome power truly is and how He displays it for us so mightily in something so everyday as a thunderstorm. I began thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if I could just harness some of that power outside and bring it inside to where I need it?"

You are going to think I am crazy (and I was really tired, mind you) but I had the strongest urge to go outside and just stand in that powerful thunderstorm. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but I could just imagine God's healing waters just pouring out onto me from the black clouds above. I can totally see how in times of desperation, some chronically ill people will flock to "healing" springs and fountains, because when things seem so hopeless, you just long to for God's power to be poured out onto you like rain.

Which brings me to the Bible story of the woman who bled for 12 years. This poor woman had probably searched for a cure, probably even visited a "magical" spring herself. The constant bleeding had probably left her drained, weak and filthy. Life for her was pretty bleak. Then one day while she is walking she sees who else but Jesus! The gospels don't say she cried out to him or tried to stop him as he was hurrying off with a large crowd. No, she just reached out and touched him. She had heard of and believed in his miraculous powers and had faith that if she just touched a little piece of his robe, his power would pour into her and heal her. And it did just that! "Your faith has healed you," Jesus told her.

I have visualized myself a lot lately reaching out and touching Jesus' robe, hoping my faith is as pure as that of the bleeding woman. How amazing would it be to feel His healing power like she did! But as much as I like to imagine it, I know I don't have to touch Jesus' robe to be healed. Nor do I need to harness the power of a thunderstorm to be made well for my baby. Jesus is right here with me. I just have to simply call out to Him. He hears my cries and knows my faith. He will show us his answer soon enough.

You know, it's funny that up until two weeks ago the summer here has been horribly hot and dry. No rain for over a month it seems. And then right as I am on bed rest we've had storm after storm. It's quite nice to hear a little rain when you are in bed all day, but it's even better to be reminded that God's awesome power is always at work around. Even in a thunderstorm.

"Lord, we ask that you pour out your healing power on us today. And we pray that I have an encouraging update at the doctor tomorrow."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Godly Husband

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Sweet husband. I just don't deserve him. He never complains when I ask him to get me water during the night, never looks annoyed when I make a list of chores. Even though he is physically exhausted from working 80 hours a week, he always greets me with a big smile when he gets home from the office.

He knows when I am about to cry (he says my nose turns bright red) and tries to make me laugh before I do. When I wake him up at 3 am and can't sleep, he rolls over and talks to me. When I am feeling completely hopeless, he prays with me. And when I sob uncontrollably into my pillow, he holds me tight and says he loves me.

I am pale, weak, without makeup - not to forget blotchy faced - yet everyday he tells me that I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I tell him he is just saying that cause I am his wife, but he looks at me so sincerely, with so much love in eyes, that I have to believe that he really thinks it.

I met Justin when he was 15. Nearly fourteen years later I think about the man he has become. And I am amazed. I knew he was a good, honorable man back then. But the man God has molded him into is so much more than I ever could have imagined for my husband. He is truly a servant-leader to our family. And I feel blessed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Walking by Faith

Walk by faith, not be sight. Walk by faith, not by sight. Walk by faith, not by sight. Does anyone else say things over and over in their head hoping it will push out all of the other negative thoughts?

I was hoping that the doctor would flip on the ultrasound machine today and be astounded at the miraculous change and healing that had taken place. That didn't happen. Everything looked about the same as it did before, although a tiny bit of good news is she confirmed that there were a few pockets of fluid that weren't there last week. Still just a fraction of what the baby needs, but I still praise God for it. I like to hope that His healing hands are at work!

But after reviewing everything else, the doctor reminded us of the very grim potential outcomes and of the high probability that this will all turn out very badly. In other words,the chances of our baby surviving are very low. So we left feeling, well, not really knowing how to feel. We are grateful for the tiny drop of good news, but crushed by the gigantic wave of bad news.

I am sure I will stare at the ceiling a lot this week trying to process it all, but for now I keep hearing the same whispered phrase from 2 Corinthians in my head. 'Walk by faith, not by sight.' The path ahead is so daunting that I can't possibly keep going based on what the doctors see is in our future. It is too sad, too awful that I just want to run screaming in the other direction. So I am going to close my eyes, reach out for Jesus' hand, and let Him guide me step by step through this hour of darkness. I don't think I can step forward otherwise.

"Lord, you are Great Physician We ask that you pour out your healing power to save our little baby. Let us not be discouraged, rather help us walk by faith in you each day."

Sunday, August 2, 2009


"Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul." Psalm 86:3-4

Guilt has set in. I can't shake it no matter how many doctors tell me nothing I did caused this. I keep retracing my steps the week before this happened: I did too much. I shouldn't have picked ML up so much. I was under a lot of stress.

I used to love watching the Discovery Health show "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" featuring stories of women who went to full term never knowing they were pregnant. Stories of drinking, smoking, drugs, playing soccer, running marathons - and yet all of these women ended up having healthy babies. How then does this happen to Miss Overly Cautious (that's me) who avoids caffeine, deli meats, questionable cheeses? Who tries to rest every day when ML takes a nap? Why can other pregnant women jog and do step aerobics and yet I do nothing of the sort and now am at risk for losing my baby? I feel like I failed our baby, or at least my body did. I have tried to put all these thoughts on the back burner so I can stay positive and hopeful but today they are crowding my mind.

I also feel like a useless parent. I haven't been able to be a mother to my only child who needs me. As I lie in bed all day I see her run back and forth down the hallway to and from her room (she rarely makes a stop in my room as it is quite boring in here!). Make no mistake, she is perfectly in good hands with her grandmothers, who are spoiling her as grandmothers should, but her life has been out of whack every since this started two weeks ago and it's just not fair to her. I feel as helpless as I am sure all mothers do who are on bed rest.

And on top of that I feel like if I make one wrong turn in the bed, or stand up to long in the shower, then I will mess something up. I constantly thinking, "Am I drinking enough water - I need to drink more?" (in hopes of making more amniotic fluid). I am constantly eating yogurt and drinking cranberry juice to ward off infection. I have to take my temperature three times a day to make sure I am not getting one. If I do, I have to be rushed to the hospital immediately. I do it all gladly if it will save this little one bopping around my stomach. I just hope and pray that I get the chance to keep fighting for his life like this.

"Lord, thank you for getting us through the past two weeks. Please renew my hope today as I am down and guilt-ridden. I know that little baby is in your hands and you will do the best thing for him. As much as I do for this baby here on Earth, I know that the end result rests solely in your hands. We plead for your mercy on us, and pray that you give us the joyful blessing of continuing to give this child life. Please let the doctors see more fluid around our baby when we go tomorrow; heal my body and give us more hope to go on."