Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homegoing Service

Johanna's home going service/celebration/funeral/whatever you want to call it was on Monday 10/26/09 at 2pm.  It was a really surreal experience.  I had absolutely no expectations regarding her funeral.  I simply did not know what to expect.

As I said in a previous post I have been to many, many funerals in my 27 years, but I have never had the "opportunity"(for lack of a better word) to sit "under the tent". 

Prior to the funeral we had lunch at Mom's, and just kinda all sat around and veged.  I've already said it, but it is amazing to me how calming and therapeutic it is to be around family. 

All of Johanna's immediate family(ie all the same people that had been at the hospital), wore some sort of pink to the funeral.  Although it was certainly a sad occasion, her funeral was also a celebration of sorts.  We asked everyone to wear pink, in a way to remind ourselves that it was indeed a celebration.  JoJo will never have to experience the heartbreak that all of us were experiencing that day.  For her entire life, she will be celebrating and praising her Lord.

My Dad(Papa) started things off by reading and expounding(aren't you preachers out there proud of my correct word usage!!) on Psalm 139.  Our kiddies have a verse. Clayton's is 1 Samuel 1:27, and Johanna's is Psalm 139:14(but you probably already knew that).  Next we had Chad's father(Pawpaw) to pray.  He also read from 2 Samuel 12:22-23.  This scripture is David responding to his son's death.  I had never thought of it in relation to Johanna and how we should react to her passing.  I'm glad Pawpaw read this. And finally we had Bro. Scott Moneyham finish things up. I honestly can't remember his text(sorry Bro. Scott, please don't send me a test in the mail), but I do remember him speaking on storms and rainbows. And how you can either chase a rainbow, or how you can actually have the rainbow.  I don't want to just chase a rainbown(in any respect), I want to have the rainbow.  And because of my Lord, and His sacrifice for me, I do have the rainbow.

There were so many family, friends, church family, and so much more at Jo's funeral.  I want to publicly thank everyone for being there.  It was a great affirmation that we are loved, cared for, and prayed for.

After her funeral, we sent Clayton to his Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house to play, spend the night, and just get spoiled.  He was so very good during the days events, that I thought he needed to be somewhere and do something normal.  Chad and I went back to Mom and Dad's and we just rested. We talked, napped, played video games. Chad and I headed home around 6:30ish, stopped and grabbed dinner, and chilled all evening.

I'm posting all of these things more for me than anyone else.  I will only a few memories of Johanna, and her life, and I don't want to forget any of them.  I'm glad ya'll are along for the ride.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saturday and Sunday

Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday were pretty uneventful.  Thank the Lord(I mean that in all seriousness).

I was discharged from the hospital on Saturday afternoon(Thanks Dr. H.).  I was a little apprehensive about going home so early, but after talking things over with Chad and my wonderful nures(I really did have the best nursing care while there) and getting some reassurances about some things I felt like I would rest much better at my house.

We got home in time to see most of the Alabama game.  I know that's not really important to Jo's story, but the game was awful.  Bama won, but just barely.  The way they were playing they should have lost, and would have earned that loss.  It's just one of the things I remember about the day.  I will probably never forget the insignificant details.  We had a lot of visitors on Saturday evening.  My brother and his wife brought us Pizza for dinner.  We just chilled over our pizza pies and watched Food Network.  It's strange how the most mundane things are the most comforting and healing when your world has been rocked.

Sunday we spent the day at my parents house.  I needed that more than I could ever express into words.  Chad and I are very close to our parents.  We are thankful that God has allowed us to have Godly parents, and that we are able to have close relationships with our parents.  Mom cooked for us, an Dad did some administrative type things to help us prepare for Jo's funeral.  Jesse and Amy came over later in the day and we all just hung out.  We did nothing special, but just soaked up each other and loved on each other. 

Saturday and Sunday were indeed uneventful, but they were exactly what I needed.  I think, in the best of circumstances(which I am fortunate to have), the Lord gives us family to draw strength.  I certainly couldn't walk this road without my husband, but he can't do everything.  There are roles for our entire family to play.  I'm grateful our families have taken their time(which they don't have a lot of) to care for us, love on us, and let God shine through them.

I'm trying to post all of the things I remember about the last week, while I still remember them.  I want to remember every detail of Johanna's life, and the days right after.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Rest of Friday

We kept her body with us all day on Friday.  The only down side to a c-section, and I do mean the only down side(just my personal opinion), is the amount of time you have to be in the bed after the procedure.  I understand that this is absolutely necessary, I just don't like it.  But, I have a major problem sitting still.  Our original thought would be that we would call the funeral home pretty quickly after she passed and go ahead and send her body to them.  However, because she passed so quickly after surgery we changed our plan a little.  My Dad, and let me give a public thanks to my Dad, and our entire family for that matter, they've done a lot for Chad and me over the last few days.  We wouldn't be able to function without the help or our family.  Anyway, Daddy contacted the funeral home and let them know that Johanna had passed, and when I would most likely be leaving the hospital.  Because of the amount of time before we would be able to have her funeral, the funeral home would have to seal her casket without us seeing her again. Knowing this, I decided that I wanted to dress her in her beautiful burial dress.  I knew that I couldn't sit up much at all for quite a few hours, so we asked if it would be OK to keep Jo's body with us until I could sit up just enough to do the honors of dressing my baby girl.  We decided to do this around 4pm.

Soon after she passed, my Dad took all the pictures that I've posted, and so many more.  We took our time taking pictures, making sure we got absolutely everything.  I also spent a lot of time trying to memorize all of her physical features. I don't ever want to forget one part of her.  So, we took pictures of all of her.  We changed her a few times so we had pictures and memories of her in a sleeper and in a really cute pink dress.  We took pictures with Chad and me, and also with our entire family.  We tried to get a few pictures with Clayton and Johanna together, but he was having no part of it.  I imagine the whole situation was a bit confusing to a 20 month old, so we didn't push the issue.  There will be a time in the future for us to teach Clayton about his little sister.

After we got all the pictures we thought we would want, we told the nurses that we were ready to head to our room.  They got everything together and off we went.  Johanna's body right with us the entire time.  After we settled into our room, I noticed that it was nearing noon, and that I was in fact quite hungry.  I didn't realize we had spent that much time soaking up all things Johanna.  We obtained some lunch from Chick Fil A, and just kinda had a relaxed and laid back lunch with my family.  I had asked my MIL and SIL(Jamie) to take care of Clayton for the day.  I knew that he needed as much normal as possible considering the situation.  I am very close to my parents, brother, and SIL(Amy), so I asked them to stay with us all day.  I needed that for me.  At some point, the boys left for a little while, and the 3 of us girls just layed around and gabbed.  That's what the 3 of us do when we're together.  We talk(imagine that).  It was so very therapeutic though.  It's helpful to talk with other women, even if it's about absolutely nothing.

At 4pm, Chad's parents, with my Clayton, came back to the hospital so we could dress Johanna, and say our very final "see ya laters".  We called the funeral home and told them to come ahead, and began to prepare ourselves.  Johanna's burial dress was made by Ms. Beth Gilliam.  She is the wife of Evangelist Tom Gilliam.  I have had the privilege of being acquainted with this very sweet couple for quite a few years.  I have also had the privilege of sitting under Bro Tom's challenging preaching many times.  He preached our spring Revival back in May, and Ms. Beth asked if she could do the honors of making Jo's dress.  I of course agree, and was honored and flattered that she would even consider doing such a great thing for us.  Bro. Tom had just finished a meeting in our area, and just so happened to still be in town on Friday, and came to see us.  They just so happened to come see us at 4pm on Friday.  You gotta love how God has His hand in every little detail of our lives.  He saw fit to send Bro. Tom and Ms. Beth to us at the precise time that I was dressing Johanna in the dress that Ms. Beth had made.  Amazing.  They didn't stay long, but Ms. Beth was able to see JoJo in her beautiful dress.  Bro. Tom prayed over our family before he left.  I don't remember what he prayed, but I remember feeling God wrap His arms around me at that moment and provide a peace and comfort like I had never felt.

We finished dressing her and then everyone took their time saying their individual goodbyes to this very special little girl.  Once the rest of our family was finished, Chad and I asked for some time alone with Jo's body to say our final goodbyes.  Those were very emotional moments for Chad and me.  Chad said something to me that will forever change how I view things.  While we were alone he said, "It's easy to preach what you don't know".  I later asked him what he meant by that.  He said it's easy to preach about God's comfort in time of trouble, but it's a totally different thing to actually feel that comfort and receive that sweet peace when you need it most.  We wept over our daughter's body, with the same sorrow and intensity that we had wept over her earlier in the morning.  But again, we were weeping for ourselves and not for her.

Once we felt we had enough time with Johanna, we allowed our family back in the room.  I snuggled my baby girl's body until the funeral home arrived for her.  In another amazing moment, a gentleman from our church works for the funeral home we had chosen, and thankfully he was the one dispatched to pick up Johanna's body.  I couldn't have asked for anything different.

After Johanna's body was gone, it kinda felt like the air had been sucked out of the room for a few minutes.  Clayton went back to his Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house to play, and spend the night.  And soon after that, all of my fam went home for the day.  It had been a very long day, both emotionally and in the number of hours that we had been at the hospital.  Everyone was tired and needed to rest.

The rest of the evening was uneventful.  Chad and I napped for a few minutes, then he headed out to get us some dinner.  I was able to get out of the bed on Friday evening.  I wasn't expecting to be able to get up until Saturday morning, so I was thrilled.  It was nice to be out of a hopsital gown, and into my own pj's.  As soon as I was up and changed, we ate our dinner.  I honestly think I fell asleep while eating.  We were both just worn out.  As soon as we finished dinner, we both went to sleep.  All in all we rested fairly well that night.  It is a hospital so you don't get a lot of rest.  Pain meds and vital signs every 4 hours kinda cut in to the sleep time.  We did have the most courteous nurse.  She was very quite and respectful every time she came in to our room.  She did everything within her power to make sure we were comfortable and that we were getting as much rest as possible.

God provided much grace, and showed that His grace is indeed sufficient.  Without Him and our family, I know Chad and I couldn't walk this road.  We had many, many miracles on Friday.  They would seem small to most, but to me they were huge.  Mountains were moved.

Stay tuned......................more of Jo's story to come.  I imagine I'll be writing her story for a long, long time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

63 Minutes

63 minutes, 3,780 seconds, 1/24 of an entire day, the time it takes to watch 1 episode of "24".  It seems so insignificant, but those 63 minutes forever changed my life.

Ever since we knew of Jo's T18 diagnosis, and we knew that she most likely wouldn't live long if at all, we prayed for a few very specific things.  We prayed that she would be born alive, that we would have time(No matter how brief) to hold her, that when the time came for her to make her crossing that it would be quick and peaceful, that we would hear her cry, that I would be the one holding her when she passed, and that she would have hair.  That last one was only my prayer.  It was just something that I wanted for me.

JoJo was born at 8:09am...............alive.  Dr. H gave us a very quick glance of our little girl and then passed her off to Dr. P, the neonatologist and his nurse.  From what I remember(and remember I've had a lot of pain meds since Friday) Johanna cried relatively quickly.  Her cry wasn't loud or strong, but it was enough to reassure her Mommy that she was alive. I wish there would have been a way to record her cry, but we didn't think of that ahead of time.  I'm hopeful that it will be forever etched in my mind.

Chad stayed by Jo's side the entire time.  He and the OR nurses would give me updates on Jo while Dr. H was finishing surgery.  Dr. P, the neonate, worked with Johanna very minimally before getting her cleaned up and handed to Chad.  Dr. P listened to her heart, and confirmed that she definitely had a major heart defect.  She also had some sort of esophageal blockage.  Chad(and me by proxy since we had already determined what we wanted ahead of time) again affirmed that we wanted no treatments or interventional medication for Johanna.  We just wanted all the time the Lord would give us.

As soon as she was cleaned and wrapped they brought her to me.  There is nothing like seeing your child for the first time.  Especially a child that we didn't know would make it until her birthday or not.  I can't describe the elation I had both when I heard her cry and then when I saw her.  She was beautiful.  She looked just like Clayton, with her Daddy's dark skin, and a head full of dark curly hair all her own.  She was the perfect mix of all 3 of us, and only Johanna all at the same time.  The Trisomy 18 was obvious to me, but that was OK, since that was a large part of who she was.

At this point, the nursing staff notified our family that Johanna was alive and crying.  They also retrieved the clothes and special hat that I had picked out for her to wear.  Dr. P listened to her heart again and told us that her heart rate was already falling and that his estimate of her life span would be 1 to 1 1/2 hours. We asked the nursing staff to tell our family that she was going to pass quickly and to bring Clayton to the hospital to meet his sister.  They did this for us.  I'm a little fuzzy on the details at this point, because I was soaking up my daughter, but I think that Dr. P may have went out to our family himself and told them what he had just told us.  If I'm wrong on that I'm sorry, but I think that's how it happened.

As soon as Dr. H was finished with the c-section we were taken to recovery.  The OR, Labor and Delivery, were kind enough to let me recover with my baby, and in a place where my family could be around us.  Chad, Johanna, and I arrived in the recovery room first, and we quickly asked that our family be brought in to meet this special little girl.  Once our family came in Johanna made the rounds with our entire family.  Everyone got to meet her, kiss on her, hug her, and tell her how much they loved her.  After everyone had a turn, the NICU nurse listened to Jo's heart and said that her heart rate was very low.  We asked that everyone leave so that Chad and I could be alone with her when she went to the Lord.  They very kindly stepped out of the room and gave us our time.

We quickly undressed JoJo and laid her on my chest.  I remember weeping, only for me though.  I kissed her on the top of the head and told her that she could go.  I told her how much I loved her, how much she had changed my life, how proud I was to be her mom, how much I would miss her, and that I would see her again as soon as the Lord would let me.  Chad was right beside of my bed touching her and me at the same time.  He was weeping as well, and telling her all the same things that I was telling her.  It's hard to let your baby go, even when you're giving her back to her Creator. 

Dr. P came back over to us and pronounced her time of death as 9:12am.

Johanna only had 63 minutes in this world, but she forever changed it for those that knew her and her story.  I'm grateful that God gave her to me.  Even though my heart is broken right now, I'm still thankful that she was mine for a few minutes. In those 63 minutes God answered every single prayer that we had prayed for Johanna and for us. She was born alive.  We had time to hold, cuddle, and love on her.  We heard her cry, and it was a wonderful sound.  She passed quickly and very peacefully.  I was holding her when she went to Jesus.  And she had a head full of curly black hair.

Her 63 minutes were beautiful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Johanna's Birth

I thought that today I would share with ya'll how Johanna made her grand entrance.  This post will probably be very lengthy.  I want to be very detailed, and to make sure that I give credit where credit is due.  Both to our physicians, support staff, and most importantly to our God.  Buckle in kiddies it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Chad and I were to report to the outpatient surgery department at 6:30am on Friday morning.  We checked in, and were pretty quickly herded to Labor and Delivery.  I say herded only because there were so many of us that we filled up the entire elevator.  In attendance for Johanna's birth were all of Jo's grandparents(4), all of Jo's aunts and uncles(5), plus our special friend and pastor.  If you lost count that's 10 people plus Chad and me.  One of the managers of the labor and delivery department ushered us upstairs to the Family Center waiting room.  You'll see this mentioned a lot in this post, but we are so thankful for all of the extra things the Family Center did for our family.  They went out of the way to make sure we were taken care of.  They had made coffee and brought in other drinks and snacks for our family to use while they had to wait.

At this point Chad and I were taken to my room to be prepared for the c-section.  I changed into my fashion forward hospital gown, gave yet another urine specimen(seriously how many do you really need?), and hopped into bed.  Chad and I assumed we would be waiting a while before anything was started.  We were totally mistaken. As soon as I had changed, I was given my fancy ID bracelet, and then the IV's were started.  Apparently my veins were hiding because they had to call in the anesthesiologist to start the IV.  And instead of getting it in my forearm where I've always had them before, this one was started in my left hand.  It didn't matter to me where it went, as long as we got one.  The anesthesiologist was great.  He was a lot of fun, and we had a good laugh about my addiction to all things Internet and Blackberry.

After the IV saw started there was a flurry of activity to get prepped for the big procedure.  Including, but not limited to, shaving my tums, and drinking the concoction of death(the really strong, sour, anti-nauseant, anti-acid).  That stuff is nasty.  I have an iron stomach, but that stuff has made me want to wretch both times I've had the pleasure of consuming.  We met the CRNA(the anesthesiologist assistant that actually stays with you during any surgical procedure), and all of the nurses that would be with us in the OR suite.

Once I was dressed and ready to go, Dr. H came in and said good morning.  We talked one last time about how everything was going to go down, then the nicest thing happened.  Dr. H took our hands and prayed with Chad and me.  Prayed for safety, wisdom, and blessings for Johanna.  Dr. H then left to get himself ready for the big moment.  After he left, our entire family(except Clayton because he was with a friend still snoozing) gathered around our bed and had prayer for us.  I'm weeping now thinking about how much love surrounded Chad, myself, and Johanna on Friday morning.  After prayer, we hugged, laughed(a must for us), and cryed then the fam headed back to their designated waiting area.

Immediately after we bid our farewells to our family, I was wheeled down to the c-section room.  Chad was able to go most of the way with me.  I think being seperated from Chad, even for just a few minutes, was the hardest part of the whole process.  Prior to 9:12am of course.

While Chad was donning his fashion forward, sterile apparel, I was being drugged from the ribs down.  I was given a spinal, which personally I think is fantastic and would highly recommend.  With Clayton it went great the first time, no problems.  It went well this time, but things went a little differently.  As I was hunched over, waiting for my feet to startto go warm, I suddenly feel this strong, sharp, burning, pain shoot down my left leg.  I thought to my self, that can't be normal.  I mentioned it to the anesthesiologist, and he confirmed that what I was feeling definitely was not the intended outcome.  After a few more tries and adjustments, we got it right, and things started to go completely numb.  I do highly recommend a spinal, but I must say that not being able to feel your feet, legs, hips, or anything from about the bottom of the lungs down is the absolute strangest feeling in the world.  I think even if Chad and I never have more babies, I will never forget that feeling.

After is was determined that the spinal had taken and I wasn't feeling anything, it was time to begin.  The sterile field was created, and Chad was finally allowed in the room.  Remember that we started getting ready for this moment at 6:30am, and at this point it's not even 8am.  I think surgery started about 7:50, or some time close to that.  Every single person caring for Chad, Johanna, and me knew of Johanna's T18.  They knew the most likely outcome, and they knew what our desires were for her whether she be born still or alive.  There definitely an air of expectancy and anticipation prior to Jo's birth.  There was some small talk between all of us in the room, but nothing loud, excessive, or inappropriate.  I remember those moments being very calm and reverant.  I felt the presence of the Lord with me in a way that I have never felt before. He truly gives peace and greace.

Dr. H and the CRNA both tell us that we're getting close, and that it won't be but just a few more minutes until we meet our little girl.  Dr. H then tells me that she's perfectly petite(great wording by the way, that makes her mommy smile), and that I did indeed have a lot(a whole lot) of amniotic fluid.

8:09am, Johanna Raye Carswell, with the assistance of Dr. H and the entire medical staff in the OR that day, made her way in to the world.  She would weigh in at 3 pounds and 13 ounces.  She was 16 1/2 inches long.  She looked just like Clayton, and just like Johanna all at the same time. 

Tomorrow I'll share her 63 minutes.  They were astounding.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Johanna's funeral is later this afternoon. At the moment, I have a million emotions all fighting their way to get free.  I have no idea what to expect the day to bring.  I am positive there will be sadness and heartbreak, but I'm hoping there will be joy, praise, and maybe even a little humor thrown in somewhere.

I have been to hundreds(and I'm probably not stretching that number) of funerals in my lifetime.  It's part and partial to being the pastor's daughter and then the pastor's wife.  However, I never been to a funeral where my place is to sit "under the tent".  I've never been listed as a survivor in an obituary. I've never been one of the ones that everybody will speak to after the service is over.  I've never been the one to decide who will do what during the service, and in what order they are to do their thing.  Today is truly a first.

There are parts of today that I obviously dread.  Even though Jo has been gone from this world for almost 72 hours, there is a finality of sorts that comes along with today's festivities. Because Chad and I have known for months that this day would be coming, we were able to prepare ahead of time(I've had her funeral more or less planned since August).  That has made the past few days much more relaxing. 

We have a short grave side service planned to celebrate Jo's 63 precious minutes, and to honor our Lord.  My father will have the first part of the service.  I selfishly asked him to speak on Jo's verse, Psalm 139:14.  A few weeks back he brought the Sunday pm service from this text.  It was a powerful message about God's presence, power, and knowledge.  I felt that it was so fitting for today. After Dad is finished, then Chad's father will say a prayer.  I'm sure it will be a prayer of love, thanksgiving, grace, mercy, and peace.  Pawpaw has the most tender heart, and he always has a smile.  Thinking about him now, makes me smile. After Pawpaw is finished, then our(Chad and me) first real adult pastor(that's a long story that I don't feel like telling) Scott Moneyham will finish out the service.  Bro. Scott is a fantastic and powerful preacher.  He may or may not be one of my all time favorites.  I think we have a good line-up.  After a lot of prayer, this is how Chad and I wanted to commemorate the passing of our daughter.

I have no delusions that today will not be a sad and mournful day.  However, I want today to be joyful.  Johanna's life was a miracle(as is every life) that our family was blessed to be a part of.  We are forever changed because of her 63 minutes, and all the months leading up to those precious moments.  I miss my daughter more than I have the words to express at this point.  But, I would not dare bring her back from where she is.  She has been rejoicing and praising her Lord since Friday morning.  That thought makes me jealous of her.

I know this has been jumbled, but my thoughts are jumbled.  It's a mixture of emotions, hormones, and pharmaceuticals. I can't seem to remember anything at all. Please pray for our family today.  Our prayer is that God be glorified in all of today's proceedings. We His name to be up lifted and praised.  There will be a lot of tears, but that's OK.  God understands our tears.

Maybe tomorrow I will share Jo's birth/life story.  It's truly amazing.  I want to be very specific about all the prayers that God answered for us. You'll truly be amazed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jo's Obit and More Pics

It's some odd ball hour of the morning, and I woke up to try to get more comfortable and take my next dose of pain meds and anti-inflamatory meds.  I knew Jo's obit would be up today, and wanted to share that with you guys.  Being that it will take a few minutes for this round of drugs to kick in I thought I would take a minute to share Jo's obit and it's link, and then another self indulgent picture(or 4) of our precious Johanna.

JoJo's Obit(link)

Johanna Raye Carswell, infant daughter of Chad and Nikki Carswell, passed from creation to creator on Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. In addition to her parents, Johanna is survived by a brother Clayton Carswell of the home, maternal grandparents Dr. Alan and Joan Carr of Lenoir; paternal grandparents Pastor Dennis and Diane Carswell of Morganton; aunts and uncles, Pastor Jesse and Amy Carr of Lenoir, Andrew and Trish Carswell of Morganton, and Jamie Carswell of Morganton. Johanna is also survived by multiple great grandparents and extended family. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Blue Ridge Memorial Park in Lenoir with the Dr. Alan Carr, Pastor Dennis Carswell and Pastor Scott Moneyham officiating. In lieu of flowers Johanna's family request that memorial contributions be made to the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center, attn: Fran Propst, PO Box 1561, Lenoir, NC 28645. Chad and Nikki would like to extend personal thanks to Dr. Howard Hall and the entire staff at Medical Heights OB/Gyn. Your thoughtfulness, caring attitude and compassion have helped us to see the rainbow in the midst of our storm. Online condolences may be left at Greer-McElveen Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

At some point in the next few days, I plan to share her birth story.  Her birth in and of itself is truly a miracle.  God answered every single prayer that we had regarding her short life.  He provided us with everything that Chad and I needed and wanted to make her passing beautiful.  Johanna passed very quickly and incredible peacefully.  I was holding her when she drew her final breaths and crossed into Heaven with her Lord.  I amd confident that she is now rejoicing and praising her Creator.  And while my heart is breaking into a million pieces, I too can rejoice and magnify her Creator.  My life has been forever changed because God chose to bless me with this precious little girl.  My heart and arms miss her more than any words can describe, but because of the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ I know I will see her again in Heaven.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Chad and I are headed home in about an hour.  Awesome.  I wasn't expecting to get out of the hospital until tomorrow.  When Dr. H gave me the option to get out of here, I jumped at the chance.  I'm gonna head to the house and rest.  And spend some much needed time with my family.  Thanks for all of your prayers for our family.

Sweet JoJo

I don't have a lot of words today, but I wanted to share some pictures of our sweet girl.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Johanna Raye Carswell

This is Nikki's dad giving you a quick update regarding Johanna. That will follow in a moment, but while I am here, let me thank each one of you who have been such a blessing to Nikki and Chad during these difficult days. Your prayers and support have been an encouragement and strength to our children. Please continue to pray for them during the days ahead. Now for Johanna...

Johanna was born at 8:09 AM this morning. She weighed 3 pounds, 13 ounces, she was 16 inches long. She has a headful of curly black hair. Outwardly, she was perfect. Internally, her condition prevented her from staying with us here. She left earth for Heaven at 9:12 AM.

Her Mom and Dad are grieved by her passing, but they rejoice in God’s gift of her to them. They got to spend some time holding her, loving her and were with her when she left for glory. They are doing well and are thankful for your prayers over these past long months. Please continue to pray for them as they say goodbye to Johanna. I am posting a couple of photos of Johanna Raye Carswell.

Johanna Update

Jo's here and has passed to her Creator. Lengthy update to come soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Twitter Update

I can now Twitter................sorta.  At this point I haven't figured out how to put that widget, linky, button thing on the blog.  But until I do you can follow me.  I know it's a lot more work for you, and for that I apologize, but I'm apparently the last person alive that finds Twitter down right confusing.  Anyway my Twitter handle(I feel like a trucker) is chadandnikki.  So that part should be easy to remember.  Maybe I'll figure  the rest tonight, and then maybe not.  Who knows.

Holy Spirit........Breathe on Me

Below is a hymn that we sing from time to time at our church.  I had not heard it until just a few years ago, but I absolutely love it. To me the hymn writer has addressed every aspect of life in this one song.  If you don't know the tune of it, go to YouTube and check it out.  It's a beautifully written and the music is very fluid.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
until my heart is clean;
let sunshine fill its inmost part,
with not a cloud between. 

Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
my stubborn will subdue;
teach me in words of living flame
what Christ would have me do. 

Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
fill me with pow'r divine;
kindle a flame of love and zeal
within this heart of mine. 

Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me. 

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
till I am all Thine own,
until my will is lost in Thine,
to live for Thee alone. 

Breathe on me, breathe on me
Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
Holy Spirit breathe on me. 

This is my prayer for today, tomorrow, and the next weeks and months.  "My stubborn will subdue, fill me with power divine, kindle a flame of love and zeal within this heart of mine, till I am all thine own, and until my will is lost in thine."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

48 Hours(give or take a couple)

For some reason I couldn't sleep this morning(wonder what that could be?).  I was wide awake a little before 6am.  That's highly uncharacteristic for me.  So, I decided to get out of the bed and get the day started, instead of lying there making my back hurt.  What is it that I decided to do?  Why Facebook and Blog of course.  Is there anything better at 6am? I didn't think so.

I just a few short hours we will finally be having this baby.  I'm so beyond ready.  I'm ready more than any words can express.  I know that I'm not prepared for everything that is going to transpire on Friday, but I am ready to not be pregnany anymore(for a little while at least).  I'm ready to feel like myself again, and not like an alien has taken over my body and is refusing to return it to me.

Yesterday I had my final OB appointment prior to the c-section.  I can not express how much I love the OB that I use, and his office staff.  They are absolutely wonderful.  I was also afforded the opportunity to tell our story to a med student.  Even though this is not the path that we would have chosen for ourselves, God chose this path for us, and we are fortunate to have had our lives forever changed because of Trisomy 18.  This med student will also be observing Jo's birth, and I would assume and hope some of my/her immediate care.  As you know, I think knowledge brings power, so I was excited when Dr. H asked if we would be willing to meet with her.  There's not a lot of information available about T18, other than the grim statistics.  Hopefully it will help her in her future practices to put real people with a diagnosis.  I also got my H1N1 vaccine yesterday.  Am I super cool or what?  I thought you would be jealous about that one.  I am now innoculated against all strains of the flu, both foreign and domestic.

After the OB appt I had to head over to our hospital to pre-op for the c-section.  Pre-op is not a big deal, it just takes absolutely forever.  Or mine did anyway.  I was fortunate enough to pre-op with the actual nurses that will be handling our case.  They wanted to get introductions out of the way before everything goes to crazy town on Friday.  I have to go back in the morning for some final lab work, but other than that I am FINISHED with MD appointments.  Hallelujah.  Even though the pregnancy itself(and not Johanna or her T18) have been completely normal and without complication, I feel like I have been at the OB every single week since March.  That's obviously a stretch, but I am ready for an MD break.  And they're probably ready for a break from me.

The rest of the day was pretty normal.  Work and home.  Some amazing friends of our brought us dinner last night.  They have a 3 1/2 year old little girl, so Clayton finally had play mate.  Neither one of them are used to being around other kids very often so it took them a long time to warm up to each other.  Once they decided that sharing was better than getting a whipping things went great.  They chased and played ball and laughed for a long time.  They left just before bed time and Clayton was so tired that he didn't fuss at all when Chad changed him into his PJ's(that may or may not glow in the dark) and laid him down.

Today is my last day at work until late December.  Today is our usual half day, so that makes it even quicker.  I really hope it goes well, and is mostly uneventful.  When you work for an MD, you can never tell what is going to happen.

Tomorrow, Chad and I are going to get a thing or two finished up around the house, and then head out to dinner tomorrow evening.  I love spending time with the hubs, and love it even more when someone else cooks and cleans up for me.

This is gonna be my last large post until Friday.  I have something simple planned for tomorrow.  I am taking the lappy with me, and of course the Crackberry on Friday. I hope to either post at some point or have my SIL do that for me at some point during the day.  I have tried to figure out how to Twitter, but for the life of me I just get confused.  Hopefully I can work on that a little more today and that might me the mode of transportation for Friday's events.  If I can out smart Twitter, then I will put the link on the sidebar.  For my real life peeps, I am going to try to Facebook some.  Don't hold me to anything, but I am going to try.  Ya'll have been such an encouragement to me along this journey, that I want to make sure you are included in the big day. 

I think that's it for now.  And it's getting close to time to start getting ready for work.  I hope your day is great.  Thanks for taking this journey with us.  I hope you've learned, loved, laughed, and cryed along with me.  Trisomy 18 has been the biggest challenge of my 27 years.  But I can now say with 100% confidence that I am thankful that it is forever a part of my life.  I wouldn't take it away or change it, for that would be changing my daughter and what God created her to be. 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crazy 8's

Chad and I have been married for 8 years today.  That's insane to think we've almost made a whole decade.  In a completely Chad indulgent post, I think I'll let you get to know him a little better, and let you know all the things that I find absolutely fantastic(and fun) about the hubs.

  • I love that Chad is a card-carrying, hard core country boy.  He grew up on a commercial poultry farm, and then worked on a commercial hog farm during school.  I say gross, he says awesome.
  • I love that Chad almost always has on a ball cap(Alabama or Yankees as if you couldn't guess).  Seriously unless he is at church, or working at a church function/event he has on a ball cap.
  • I love that Chad can wear his suits as easily as he wears his ball cap.  A lot of men can't do that, but he can transition so easily.  And he's not afraid to wear the crazy colored shirts that I pick out for him.  Orange, blue, fuschia, purple, lime green, red?  No problem.
  • I love the way he loves Clayton.  He is the most amazing Daddy, and always has the time to throw a ball, chase, or roll a truck.  There are times I want to yell at them to hurry up because we're going to be late, but Chad always has time for Clayton.  That's awesome.
  • I love that Chad always, and I do mean always, holds the door open for me.  I havn't opened a door since I was 16 years old.  It's seriously so bad, on my part, that if I get to the door first, I just stand there and wait on him.  Then, I get offended if other men that I happen to encounter on my journeys don't open the door for me. 
  • I love that every now and then, Chad lets me think I'm in charge.  I never am, but he lets me feel like I am.
  • I love that Chad doesn't ever require me to cook, and will in fact cook for us. 
  • I love that Chad thinks it's funny when I yell at the TV(because you know that what I'm yelling really is going to make a difference in the outcome of the game) during football games.
  • I love that Chad is addicted to Dt. Sun Drop and Popcorn.  We are never allowed to run out of these 2 items.
  • I love that Chad has learned to text simply because I prefer it to talking on the phone.
  • I love Chad's incessant need to wear boots.  And now Clayton has to wear boots like his Daddy.  It's precious.  Clayton's always checking to make sure that Chad has on his boots.
  • I love the way Chad leads our family.  He really is our spiritual leader, and makes sure we stay in God's path.  He's not afraid to tell me if I'm wrong(which is a lot), and help me see the error of my ways.  That's just funny to me.
  • I love the way that Chad talks passionately about horses.  Paso Fino horses to be exact.  I know nothing about any of this, but I try to listen intently.
  • I love that Chad is truly one of the largest parts of my strength.  I couldn't do this life, especially the last 7 months, without him.  I don't want anyone else to hold my hand or rock my babies.
I love all of these things, and so very much more about my Chad.  Happy 8th babe.  Hope it's been as great for you as for me.  "I love your love the most" and "I'd love you to love me."

Monday, October 19, 2009

4 Days

Well, it seems we have FINALLY made it to the week we've been anticipating/dreading/and whishing for since March, and especially since April.  It's been a long wait.  So far the last 7 days have passed very quickly.  I think what we're dreading is quite obvious, so I won't bore you with that.  There are some things however that I am looking forward to in the next few months.

  • Maternity leave(duh.....time off work, and I kinda get paid for it)
  • Spending some extra time with Clayton.  Once I get recovered enough from the c-section, and whatever else, then he's gonna get to hang with Mommy 3 days a week(plus the weekends that we always get).  He usually goes to the intended grandmother of the day while I'm at work.  I'm so excited about this.  He's the coolest little kid.  And, on a random note, the word of the day yesterday was "blue".  Too cute.
  • We live within an hour's drive of the Grove Park Inn where they have the National Gingerbread House Championship(I don't think that's the correct name, but you get the idea).  Anyway, it's a really cool, free, exhibit of the best Gingerbread houses made by professionals, amateurs, and children from all over the nation.  We're gonna take Clayton and see how many he tries to eat.  Should be interesting.
  • We have Fall Festival at church towards the end of November.  It was a blast last year, and I expect the same this year.
  • Christmas shopping during the day.  Not during the evening or on the weekend when a bazillion other people are there.
  • Going to Old Salem with our youth in December.  This is a really cool 17th century Puritan town a few hours away from where we live.  I think every kid goes there in school, but I have never been.  Plus, it's all decked out for Christmas, old school style.
  • Regular clothes, with a button and zipper.
  • And last but not least, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on my baby girl.  Can't wait.
I guess I just wanted to reassure myself that everything in the next few weeks and months is not going to be bad.  Actually, we have a lot to look forward to, no matter what Friday brings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

T Minus 7 Days

Since it's so late when I'm posting this, it'll probably actually be tomorrow when you read it.  And that will mean we only have 6 days to go.  YAY!!!

Today was one of the best days.  We all 3 slept in, and just hung out in the house during the morning.  At 1pm, I had an appointment for a massage, facial, and pedicure.  I absolutely loved it.  It was wonderful, and just what I needed.  Last night I was having a lot of contractions, back pain, and what not at pretty regular intervals.  They stopped after a few hours, but by then I was so keyed up that I didn't sleep well. After some pharmaceutical intervention I got a few hours of sleep, and was able to sleep late this morning.  However, I was just feeling kinda.....blah, this morning.  I'm not sure if it was the excitement of the night before, the strange sleep pattern that I had, or the effects of the pharmaceuticals.  Either way, I was just in a funk, and didn't really want to do anything.  After my girly appointment I felt great.  I felt like a girl again(and not like a super preggo walrus).  That was the nicest way to get out of a funk.

This evening the boys and I headed to my grandparents house to hang out.  We had the most amazing potato salad I've ever eaten in my entire life.  I'm not a huge fan of the overly mustard potato salad, and Grandaddy did not disappoint.  It was perfect, dry(that's a good thing), sweet, and with the right amount of onions.  It was so good that I ate that over dessert.  After dinner my Grandmother and I headed out to do a smidgen of shopping for me.  I needed some new PJ pants for the hospital stay.  I also needed an outfit for Johanna's funeral if the Lord takes her quickly(I have absolutely nothing that will fit for fall/winter).  If He leaves her with us for a little while, then I have an outfit for her dedication.  Either way I'm prepared(you know, something new and different for me).

Tomorrow is another lazy day, and I'm so excited.  I do have a wedding to go to at 4pm, but I have bowed out of the reception so that shouldn't take long.  After that the in-'rents(Chad's parents), BIL, and SILs are coming over for dinner.  It's OK, Chad's doing ALL of the cooking.  He cleaned the house today, so I didn't have to do anything with that either.  I'm sure we'll have a great time, and I'm excited that I don't have to do anything to get ready for it.  Thanks babe!! 

Only 7(or 6 depending on when you're reading) more days to go.  I'm so excited to meet my little girl, and see what the Lord has in store for her.  It should be interesting to say the least.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

4th and Goal

I think I can finally say that we are there as far as this pregnancy is concerned.  It's only 8 days now until D-Day.  I am so very ready to get things under way and to move on to the next chapter, whatever that chapter may be.  I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore.  I counted it up and I've been pregnant for 19 of the last 30 months.  I didn't realize how much time I've spent "with child".  I am thankful to be able to have babies, and thankful that the Lord has blessed me in this way.

As we inch toward the "goal"(do you like my football references?), I am wondering how the next 8 days are going to go?  I feel like we have a lot to get done, so that makes me think they will fly by.  I have a massage, facial, and pedicure appointment tomorrow.  Chad has CARE Saturday morning, and I have a wedding I supposed to go to Saturday afternoon(still trying to talk myself into it).  Sunday is a very full church day with all the normal activities, and then some.  Monday is work again.  Tuesday is another(and hopefully final) OB appointment and pre-op, and then back to work(and our 8th anniversary).  Wednesday is my last day at work, and as per usual on Wednesday it's a half day(YAY!!).  Thursday, Chad and I are hoping/planning to celebrate our anniversary, and get the house really clean.  Then Friday will be the big day.  Sometime during all of this I need to pack our bags for the hospital stay, pack Clayton's bags for everywhere that he's going, figure out what to do with Emma, spend some precious time with my Lord, and keep up with laundry(that's a laugh I never ever stay caught up with that).  With all of that going on I'm hoping the week flies by, but I find myself wondering if it will creep by.

In the last few days I have found myself thinking and saying that we can plan for absolutely everything proceeding the c-section.  After that there is no plan.  There's no plan of a plan.  We can't even make a plan.  Nobody knows, definitively, what will happen. I am an over planner, so this has been very hard for me.  I really did think I was past needing to plan every little piece of my life.  I guess "He's still working on me". 

That's enough random musings from me.  I have an OB appointment in a few.  The usual late preggy stuff, and more discussing with Dr. H.  My Dad blogs, and I think he encompassed everything much better that I could have today.  Check him out.

Thanks for letting me ramble.  I'm outie!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

So last night, I had plans to go to dinner with a friend.  It was supposed to be like a last hoorah, girls night out, kinda thing.  Well, when we left Morganton, I thought headed in that direction.  I was totally duped. 

We had to first stop at Barnes and Noble and get a prize for Clayton.  He had his flu shot yesterday, and took it like a champ.  Seriously, no whimpering or anything.  Chad took him, but I told him before they left that I would bring him home a prize if he was a good little man(he always is, so I had already planned to retrieve a prize).  One of Clayton's most favorite things right now(and for quite a while actually) is a book.  I scoured the bargain rack and actually found 3 books for Clayton and 1 for me, for the same price that you might normally pay for 1 single solitary children's book(why are they so expensive now?).

Co-conspirator number 1(and my driver) suggested that we go to the Olive Garden.  I was immediately on board because they currently have pumpkin cheesecake.  Off we head to the Olive Garden.  She parks me in the boonies(I didn't know this was for a reason), and we start hoofing it to the front door of the restaurant.  I notice a car that looks vaguely familiar, but it didn't even register that this could in fact be someone I knew.  We get inside, and co-conspirator number 1 asks if I need to use the restroom.  I thought was really strange because I am 27 and can usually decided for myself when I need to go(she's reads this blog and is laughing at me right now I'm sure).  Little did I know she was trying to get me out of the way so she could talk to the host all by herself(I'm seriously the most clueless person alive).  I tell her no that I'm fine, but could we please sit at a table instead of a booth to make room for baby.  She gives our stats to the host, and apparently tells them we have a reservation and gives them the name and everything.  I hear absolutely none of this.  I'm so totally not listening or paying attention to what she's doing.  I was probably being very mature and checking my Facebook.  We're immediately whisked away.  I was just excited that we didn't have to wait, because it meant I would be home before 10pm(I'm apparently very shallow).

As we rounded the corner I see co-conspirators number 2-5 sitting at the table.  I was floored.  Some of my peeps had tricked me and surprised me with a Johanna Celebration dinner.  It was absolutely wonderful.  They had went in together to get me a gift certificate for a massage, facial, and pedicure(3 of my most favorite things).  And they even made the appointment for me for this Friday.  They had a little help from co-conspirator number 6, which happens to be my very own husband.  He tricked me too.  And when I texted him from dinner he just laughed and said "Got ya".  Yes you did. 

It was a great evening, and a great way to celebrate Johanna.

And yes I did get my pumpkin cheesecake(I know you were wondering), and it was everything that I remembered from the last fall season.  So very good.

Also, my brother and SIL Amy gave me a beautiful charm bracelet with Jo's initials, special scripture(Psalm 127:3), and birthstone on it.  This past Christmas they had given me a necklace with Clayton's picture etched on it.  It's simple and gorgeous.  I had mentioned to Amy that I wanted one of these for each of my children.  Because we don't know exactly how things will go with Johanna, Jesse and Amy decided to get me a little something different for her.  It compliments the necklace so well, but is still completely and totally different.  So today, I'm wearing both of my children(in a completely non-creepy way of course).  I have Clayton around my neck and Johanna around my wrist.  Love it. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

37 Weeks and Milkbones and One More Thing

2 posts in 1 day.  It's some kind of record.  This one's long, and for that I apologize.

I was fortunate enough to get to have one last ultrasound of Miss Johanna this afternoon.  Her heart beat is still great, holding strong in the 130's.  That's right where it has been the entire time.  It's been between 130 and 160, so absolutely no change at all.  We again reaffirmed the diagnosis of Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome(didn't expect there to be a change with that one, so this came as no surprise).  We also confirmed that her 2 of her fingers on her right hand are criss-crossed(we knew this already, so again, no surprise).  Otherwise physically she looks great.  Her feet look great, and her facial features all seem to be as they should be.  And a random factoid, she seems to have a round face and chunky cheeks like her big brother and Mommy(her Mommy was excited).

And for the main event................

We were able to get a pretty good estimate on her weight.  Right now, she's weighing in at 4lbs 2 oz.  That's a decent size for a T18 baby.  It was a great ultrasound, and I got a great 4D face picture of her.  Johanna does have a lot(like a whole, whole lot) of amniotic fluid(again normal for T18 babies), which is why I look like I'm having an 8 or 9lb baby and am only having a 4lb baby.  And, that's also why she's felt so high.  She's really not all that high, but she has so much fluid around her that it's making me feel like she's laying on top of my lungs.  I really hope that wasn't TMI.  I didn't mean for it to be.

As for the Milkbones.  This is just a funny story that I must share.  Saturday morning I needed to shower before heading to Walmart and the grovery store.  I trust Clayton and Emma independently of each other to behave for 10 minutes while I shower.  However, I do not trust them together, alone, by themselves.  I decided that it would be easiest to put Emma in her crate and let Clayton have free reign of the house while I showered.  When I got out of the shower, I yelled for Clayton and got no response.  That's never a good thing.  Once I got a response and determined there was no immediate danger, I dressed and headed to find my son.  I found him stuffing the last, and I do mean the very last, Milkbone that Emma had to her name inside her crate.  Clayton had found the box, emptied it, and proceeded to feed Emma ALL of her Milkbones.  The box was close to empty, and this was in fact an item on my Walmart list anyway.  But there were probably 15 or so left in the box.  So, in the 10 minutes I needed to shower, Clayton fed all 15 or so Milkbones to the dog. Good times.  Needless to say, the Milkbones are now in a 20 month old proof container.  And also needless to say, the house training that had been going so very well, didn't go so well for Miss Emma on Saturday evening.  We really do live the good life.

One more thing.  To all of you, peeps I know in real life, and peeps that I have met in blog land, thanks so very much.  I really appreciate how supportive and helpful each and everyone of you have been through this pregnancy.  Chad and I couldn't have done it with out you.  And I really do mean that.  Each and everyone of ya'll are great, and we're thankful for the impact you have had in our lives in the recent months.

If this post hasn't been random enough for you, then there's absolutely no hope for you.  Sorry so long, I'll try to keep tomorrows post to a minimum.

Cuteness to the Max

A few posts back I mentioned that we had some Maternity/Family/Fall photos taken by our friend Phil from fame.  They turned out so great.  I though I would share a few of them with you guys.  There is some major cuteness going on with certain red head.  I hope you enjoy.

We were yelling "go".  It was the word of the day.

Two of my favorite boys.  And we're proudly representing Bama!

Leaves, leaves, leaves.  The leaves were a real hit with Clayton.

How much more can I look like my Daddy, and not actually be my Daddy?

And this last one is my absolute favorite.  It's just us being the Carswell's.  A little off kilter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Fantastic Saturday

Today has been the best and most relaxing day.  I'm so glad the Lord rearranged our schedules, and we were able to clear our calendar(for the most part) for the month of October.  It's been nice to just hang out with my boys here at the house.  Today we watched the Bama game(of course, we do that every chance we get), and then Chad and I cooked dinner. 

So, I'm gonna brag on us for a minute(it's my blog, I can do that).  We made real, southern, from scratch, fried chicken.  It was so good.  With some help from my 'rents, I found a recipe from Alton Brown(the nerdy chef on the Food Network) that looked easy enough.  I gathered all of the supplies, including buying an electric skillet.  After heating about 15 pounds of Crisco, we were ready to fry.  I seasoned, but Chad did the hard part.  He fried.  And did a fantastic job, if I do say so myself.  Our chicken was cook perfectly brown on the outside, but moist and juicy on the inside.  Great job babe!!

Clayton was so amazed by our(mine not Chad's, he's been our main chef for years) new found cooking abilities that he ate an amazing amount of food.  He ate an entire(large) chicken leg, an entire biscuit, half of his green beans, half of his potatoes, 2 mini cupcakes for dessert, and washed all of that down with a Capri-Sun Lemonade.  Chad and I were seriously impressed that he was able to consume that amount of food.  He went right to sleep when he went to bed.  He must have been coming down from his carbohydrate high.

That was our Satuday in a nut shell.  It was truly a great day.  Tomorrow's Sunday, and that means church day.  It should be a great day.  And only 12 more days until D-Day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday.........I'm in Love!!

I absolutely love Fridays.  They hold so much possibility.  What is the day gonna bring(the doc isn't on call, so that's promising)?  Is the weekend going to be busy or relaxing(hope, hope, hope)?  So much anticipation, and so little time again until Monday.

On this Friday, I have been given an award from Ms. Pam at Mothering the Mother.   And you know my love for a fill in the blank survery type thingy.  I'm addicted, I just can't help it.  Away we go!

This award does come with a few rules;

1. Answer the survey can only use one word answers!
2. Pass this along to 6 of your favorite bloggers!
3. Alert them that you have given them this award!
4. Have Fun!

OK now Let the FUN begin

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Your hair? Pfft
3. Your mother? Lenoir
4. Your father? Traveling
5. Your favorite food? Pumpkin
6. Your dream last night? Angry
7. Your favorite drink? Dr. Mtn Dew
8. Your dream/goal? Flight Paramedic
9. What room are you in? Office
10. Your hobby? Internet
11. Your Fear? Spiders
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Blessed(but I'm already there)
13. Where were you last night? Mom's
14. Something that you aren’t? Calm
15. Muffins? Chocolate
16. Wish list item? Dodge Magnum(Pewter, tinted windows, black wheels, sunroof, leather, V8 Hemi, anybody got one they're just giving away?)
17. Where did you grow up? North Carolina
18. Last thing you did? Facebook
19. What are you wearing? "Fight Like a Girl" T-shirt and blue jeans
20. Your TV? HD
21. Your pets? Emma
22. Friends? Fantastic
23. Your life? Insane
24. Your mood? Anxious
25. Missing someone? Always
26. Vehicle? Dodge Neon(it's a far cry from that Magnum)
27. Something you’re not wearing? Wedding Ring
28. Your favorite store? Walmart(it's obligatory in nature)
29. Your favorite color? Fuschia
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday
32. Your best friend? Jesus
33. One place that I go to over and over? Restroom
34. One person who emails me regularly? Mom
35. Favorite place to eat? The Alamo(but that's just for today, tomorrow it will be different)

So my 6 blogfriends who deserve this award are.......

My SIL Jamie(or Auntie James)
aka Nonna
Mother of the Year(unless I'm receiving the award)
My SIL Amy(she shall now be known as "Card Shark"
Amber bo Bamber
The Hair Queen
Jewelry and a great Doggie Clip
2 Girls and a Boy(nothing better)

OK, that's actually 8 links, but who's counting.  I couldn't decide who to pick, so I just picked ladies that I know in the "real" world.  Sorry fellas.  I also had a little fun with my updated Blogger, and changed the names of the links, beause I'm a little off kilter today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Johanna Update

And of course there are changes and rearranges.  We do nothing the simple way.

OK, so I was supposed to have an appointment and an Ultrasound today.  The ultrasound tech had sick babies, so I only had the appointment with my Dr. H.  That's OK, we're rescheduled for Tuesday for the ultrasound.  The ultrasound was more for me anyway(I wanted to see how small/big we though Jo might be when she's born.  So, ultrasound on Tuesday afternoon.  I can't wait.  There's something magical about seeing your baby.

Here's where we have the changes.  Johanna was scheduled to arrive via c-section on 10/30/09.  We were given the option to move that up to 10/23/09, and I(being the pregnant lady that's tired of being pregnant) almost jumped off of the table with excitement.  Of course, we would like to move things along, and get her here sooner.  If you know your calendar, or just checked it, then you know that the 23rd is only 15 days from today.  I think a loud Hallelujah, and a Praise the Lord are in order.  And, as an added bonus, my OB will be on call that weekend.  YAY!!!!!!!!!  He is hands down, my fave.  There are other great docs in our area, but he is my fave, and that's why I choose to go to his office and not the others.

As far as baby news, there's really nothing new to report.  Johanna had a great heart beat again today.  In the 140's, where it's been the ENTIRE time.  He didn't mention anything about her size, and I didn't think to ask.  I was too excited about only having 15 days left.  I had the dreaded Strep B test today(I was actually Strep B positive with Clayton, and it only required antibiotics at delivery, so no big deal).  Actually it's not that bad, and it's over with until we decide to have more babies.  And on a positive note, no swelling today. I guess if I would actually slow down, rest, and take better care of myself then I wouldn't have swelling in the first place.  That's just very hard to do.  I enjoy my role as wife and mother(it's what God created me to do), and don't like relinquishing any part of those roles to anyone else, but I'm trying.

I guess that's that for today.  Just a few more days until what we have termed D-Day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Prenatal Testing

This is our story, and our decisions. I am NOT suggesting or implying that any other decision about prenatal testing is wrong. Prenatal genetic testing is a very sensitive decision that can only be made by the parents that are faced with that decision. After much prayer and clear direction from our Lord, this is what was right for our family.

Chad and I opted in favor of prenatal testing. Johanna does not have "soft markers" for Trisomy 18, she has an actual diagnosis. A diagnosis that is not likely to be wrong, especially with the heart defects and physical defects that she also has. Genetic testing is very specific, and is highly accurate. I have felt the need to share our decisions and the reasoning behind it for some time. I'm just trying to do it in a way that is thoughtful and appropriate.

When I was pregnant with Clayton I declined all screening prenatal testing. And, now with our history I most likely will in the future, simply because it can be(not always, but sometimes) unreliable and misleading. With our history of T18, we will be given the opportunity to advance directly to testing and to skip the screening. An option we will definitely take.

Before I was thrust in the strangest "what if" situation of my life, I always thought I wouldn't have an amniocentesis or CVS(I had this one by the way), because I said the results didn't matter. I would never terminate a pregnancy under any circumstance, so what difference could the test results make? After living through this "what if" situation, I can say for me they have made all of the difference in the world.

The positive T18 results didn't change my mind about continuing a pregnancy with an adverse diagnosis, they helped me to be more prepared for the challenges that it would(and still do) bring. I was able to arm myself with knowledge. I was able to learn anything and everything about genetics, heart conditions, life expectancies, and blah, blah, blah. That's how I deal with any problem. I dive head long into the middle of it, and learn absolutely everything that I can. Google is my BFF.

The adverse results of the CVS also helped me to enjoy this pregnancy. Every day has not been easy, and in fact, very few days have been what I would consider easy. I have to explain more, and comfort others more than I could have ever imagined. But, that's OK. It's been therapy for me. I knew very early in this pregnancy that I wouldn't have my daughter with me long, if at all, after her birth. The only mothering/parenting experience I would have with her would be during her gestation period. Knowing this, and not just guessing it, helped me to anticipate each new pregnancy stage, and not simply endure them.

If you've read or followed long at all, then you know I am obviously and staunchly pro-life. I make no apologies about believing this way. I believe that life begins at conception(not birth), and that only God is the giver and taker of life. But, I am also a believer in utilizing the resources that are available to you to your advantage. I believe that God gives us knowledge and science and wants us to use these things to glorify Him. Chad and I have been able to use this pregnancy to connect with others in a way that we would have never dreamed possible. In my opinion, had we not known a definite diagnosis for Johanna, we wouldn't have been able to connect with others in the way that God has allowed us to do.

That's why I chose definitive prenatal testing. I wanted and needed a definite answer about our daughter. I needed to know what we were facing. Did the testing change the outcome of the pregnancy? Absolutely not. Did it change my attitude about the pregnancy. Of course, but not for the negative which would be the assumed. After the initial shock and dismay began to diminish, I have been able to enjoy most of Jo's pregnancy. I'm ready to be finished now, but I am 36 weeks along. I would dare say ask any woman who's been 10 months(yes 40 weeks divided by 4 weeks in a month equals 10 months, not 9)pregnant if she was ready to be finished by this point, and she would most likely agree with me.

We, along with our family and friends, have been able to prepare ourselves for the next chapter in our lives. The chapter where Johanna is not with us, but is with her Lord.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

36 Weeks

Once again, we're getting to hack away at another week. In fact, I only have 24 days until Johanna's arrival/departure(or whatever the case may be). Can you tell I'm ready to be finished? But what pregnant woman isn't ready to be finished at this point? I don't remember feeling this done when I was pregnant with Clayton, but that might be one of those things you forget about.

I guess all in all, physically I'm still doing pretty well. I have an OB appointment on Thursday, so we'll know for sure then. And as an added bonus, I get to have another ultrasound. I haven't had one since 24 weeks, so I'm kinda excited about that.

The only thing going on that really bothers me is feet and ankle are swelling. I know this is completely normal and to be expected at this point in any pregnancy. But for some reason this completely freaks me out. I do not like for my feet and ankles to swell. Everything else I can deal with pretty well, but this just really bothers me. Chad does the ankle inspection every evening(all the while laughing like a hyena at my neuroses). I don't think I can use words to explain how much this bothers me. I just don't like it. I've resorted to wearing mostly long pants(it is October, so that's OK) to hide my elephantitis(not really, but it seems like it to me).

OK, that's enough strange freaking out on my part. I'm sure when you decided to check in today, you so longed to read about swelling.

And on a totally random note. Clayton did pretty well in his medium boy bed(it's a toddler bed, so I don't think it qualifies as a big boy bed) last night. He didn't get up any. However, when I was awakened at 2am by another late pregnancy woe I decided to check in on him. He was asleep on the floor, all rolled up in his Scooby Doo blanket. After I controlled my giggling, I picked him up, and put him back in his bed. How he managed to roll out of the bed, with his covers, and not wake up is beyond me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday.............I'm in Love!!

I'm in love with Job. After my hissy fit with the author of a Bible Study I was doing a few weeks ago, I decided that I had to read the book of Job to vindicate him against this author that called him a complainer. Obviously Job didn't need my help, but it made me feel better. I have immensely enjoyed this book. My favorite parts being chapters 38-42. It's the very end of the book. Job and the Lord are speaking directly to each other. There is a lot of material there, so I'm not gonna try to break it all apart.

Here's the gist of it, or how I took it anyway. The Lord is rattling off a bunch of things that only He can do, but He asks them in the form of a question to Job. This is all paraphrased. Can you make the rain to fall? Can you put the stars in the sky? Can you tell the ocean how far to come? Can you tell exactly when the mountain goats are going to have their kids? Can the eagle fly at your command? Of course Job has to answer no to all of these. To me these chapters speak to the power of God. Only God can do all of these things. That might make you feel kinda small, and I think that's the point. I'm guilty of wanting a Nikki sized God. But, he's so much bigger than that. He's big enough to use the earth as His foot stool. That's pretty big. He held all of the stars(the ones we do and do not know about) in His hand. That's pretty big.

If God is so big, then why do we try to limit Him? I think a lot of times, it's just the human minds incapability to comprehend such greatness. I'm glad my God is big. I'm glad He's in control. He's even in control of the things we don't like and don't understand, like Trisomy 18 and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

"He's got the whole world in His hands"
"He's got the wind and the rain in His hands"
"He's got the tiny little baby in His hands"
"He's got you and me in His hands"
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:" Job 19:25
Happy Friday!!!!! Hope it's uneventful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This is your friendly reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Because of the nature of my employment, I see a lot of ladies with Breast Cancer. Every lady(and men too, although not nearly as often) is at risk for Breast Cancer. Ladies remember to check yourself regularly. And if you're of age, then have that Mammogram every year. I get it, it's not fun, and it's totally uncomfortable. But, it beats the alternative. Trust me. Breast Cancer affects all of us in some fashion or another. Just make sure you know your status.

And if you happen to have an Otic Spunkmeyer near you, then you can help support Breast Cancer research by having a cookie. Seriously, it's that easy. I had one yesterday and they are amazing. Locally our Zaxby's carry them. Have some chocolate and help a lady.