Stella's Story: Part 1

Here is the beginning of Stella's Story: Stella's Story: Part 1
The rest is coming soon!

Stella's Story - Part 1

After two years of desperately wanting and trying for a third child, we accepted our family of four as God's plan for us.  The next month, in Janaray of 2010, we unexpectedly conceived. Overjoyed doesn't begin to describe how we felt.  I told my parents and a few friends right away so they could be in prayer for us, but something kept me from publicly announcing my pregnancy.

The week after seeing the much longed for two pink lines, I began  having some serious deep pain in my incision area.  Fearing an etopic pregnancy, I visited the OB several times.  During the first ultrasound, there was nothing visible, so I waited five days and returned for another ultrasound.  This time, there was a small sac in the right place!  This was not an etopic pregnancy!  Needless to say, I was so relieved.  My HCG numbers had more than doubled in two days time, too, and were on the high end of normal, so according to the OB, everything looked good.  I finally had the go ahead to be excited.  But, even early on, I just had a feeling that something wasn't right.

As the weeks passed (slowly!), I had all the normal pregnancy symptoms, plus a few more that I never had with my boys.  I had constant nausea and headaches, and my skin didn't breakout nearly as badly as in previous pregnancies.  With all my heart, I hoped for a girl, although of course, the baby's health was top priority.

My eight week ultrasound showed a normally progressing pregnancy.  We saw a tiny little peanut and heard the most amazing sound: our baby's heartbeat.  The ultrasound showed that I was right on target for an October birth.  My due date of October 19th was only four days past was I had originally calculated.  After two summer babies, I was really looking forward to a fall baby, especially since Mike had a lot of time he could take off and then two upcoming vacations (Thanksgiving and Christmas) that he could spend with our newborn child.

As I entered my second trimester, I began to become more and more aware that my belly wasn't growing as much as I expected.  With my boys, by thirteen or fourteen weeks, I could no longer fit in regular pants, but with this pregnancy, I still didn't need maternity clothes.  My lack of belly didn't seem to concern anyone but me.  Friends and family offered the explanation that maybe this baby was a girl, and she was smaller than my boys.  It was a nice idea, but I wasn't really buying it. 

My very kind OB let me schedule "the big ultrasound" at 19 weeks instead of the recommended 20+ weeks.  We scheduled for my husband and my boys to be there to find out if they were having a brother or a sister. After much anticipation, the ultrasound was initally uneventful because our baby was curled into a little ball.  The sonographer told us she was having trouble getting some needed shots because of the position of the baby.  I asked her if everything looked okay, and she said that the baby was measuring small and was only about 8oz. and should have been a lot closre to 1 lb. at this point.  She said her measurements were the equivilent of one-and-a-half weeks behind.  She asked me multiple times if I was eating enough, and I assured her that I was (like that's ever been a problem!).  Then came the much-waited-for moment when we would find out the gender of our baby.  Our baby had tightly crossed legs and wasn't cooperating, so the ultrasound tech pushed on my belly.  Thankfully, our baby loosened her legs enough so the sonographer could get a little bit better of a look.  She said if she had to guess, she'd say "girl."  Girl?  Did I hear that correctly?!!!  I asked her to give me a percentage of how sure she was; she said she was "about 90% sure."  90%?  That was good enough for me.  There are no words to describe how thrilled we were!  A daughter!  How perfect.  I had always dreamed of having two boys and a girl, and God had granted my desires.  I was so incredibly thankful. 

The ultrasound ended with the sonographer telling me I would need to return for a repeat ultrasound in four weeks when the baby was larger so she could get some better views.  I was worried about her size and inactivity, but I was trying to focus on our good news.  We had just found out we were having a daughter!  On our way to our celebration lunch, Mike and I took turns calling family members.  Everyone was so excited.  This was the first granddaughter on both sides!  I felt so blessed and privleged to be having a girl. My thoughts fast forwarded to pretty pink skirts and cute ribbon hairbows, dollhouses and wedding dresses.

After our celebration lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, we went to Babies 'R Us. Up until this point, I had not bought a single thing for our baby, which showed some serious restraint on my part.  I finally gave in!  Mike, Ely, and I had so much fun hunting for little girly things.  Since it was in the summer, it was a bit hard to find long-sleeved clothing, so Ely got a bit frustrated trying to pick out something season-appropriate for his sister. His first almost-successful pick was this gorgeous purple and white ruffled outfit. It was so beautiful that it took my breath away.  Ely ran up to me with it, beaming from ear to ear.  When he handed it to, me, though, I realized that it was a preemie outfit.  I delivered the bad news to Ely, and we returned it to the rack.  If only I had known our little girl would be the size of a preemie...I so wish I would have bought that outfit anyway.  It would have been so special to have our baby girl wear the sweet outfit her big brother chose for her.

The next four weeks drug by; my ultrasound at 22 weeks ended up being on the morning we were leaving for our Dollywood vacation.  I was excited to see my baby again and to confirm that she was, in fact, a girl, but I was worried about her size.  As it turns out, I had much more to be worried about.

The second ultrasound began like the first, with Stella being curled up in a ball.  This time, the ultrasound tech almost had to pound on my belly to wake our baby.  Our baby cooperated a little bit and opened her legs enough for the sonographer to confirm that was definitely a girl.  The ultrasound was taking a long time, and I keep hearing a lot of "hmms" from the sonographer.  The boys were getting totally antsy, so Mike took them to the car.  That was when things got serious.  The sonographer continued to scan the same areas of the baby again and again.  Of course I asked her, "Does everything look okay?" and she finally admitted to me that she couldn't find her second kidney, and that this finding combined with her small size (she was now two weeks behind in her growth) might be cause for concern.  She told me that I would have to stay and speak with the Dr. I held back the tears as I rushed to the car to tell Mike.  Panic immediately set in for him as I explained what I knew and then returned to the waiting area. 

As it turned out, the on-call doctor wasn't going to be available for several hours, so his nurse brought me back to his office and told me, "When we have an abnormal ultrasound, we have to send you to a perinatologist."  Abnormal.  The gravity of the situation began to sink in.  The nurse called around, and the first perinatologist she called couldn't get me in for three to four weeks.  She told them that was unacceptable and that I couldn't wait.  Oh my goodness. What was going on?  All this for a single kidney?  In retrospect, they already knew something else was really wrong.  The nurse was able to schedule an appointment for me for the following Thursday.  In the meantime, I was told to try to relax and enjoy my vacation. 

The next Friday, Mike and I spent four hours in the perinatologist's office.  Little did I know that I would spend the next sixteen weeks there.  The OB nurse warned me that the ultrasound would be long, but I wasn't prepared for how nervewracking it would be laying there while a sonographer searched every inch of our baby for signs of abnormalities.  Pam, our sonographer, began with our little girl's kidneys, but soon she switched to her heart, and she stayed there for a LONG an hour.  Poor Mike was sitting there squeezing my hand and trying not to have a nervous breakdown. 

After the ultrasound was complete, we again had to wait until we could see the doctor.  Dr. White was the one who delivered the devastating news.  Our baby was small (now two-and-a half weeks behind in her growth), had multiple heart defects and a pelvic kidney.  Dr. White pulled out her heart diagram and drew in our baby's VSD (ventricular septal defect) and co-arctation of the aorta (narrowing of the aortic valve where it exits the heart).  She explained the course of action for the next couple of weeks and answered our questions, although we couldn't articulate many at the time because of our shock.

We went home with a pediatric cardiology appointment scheduled for the next week and with anxious concern for the life of our baby girl.  We had no idea that things were about to go from bad to worse.


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About This Blog

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This is the story of our daughter, Stella Rose, who went to be with Jesus after five days here on this earth. Stella was born with multiple birth defects due to a severe case of Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome. Although Stella is no longer with us in person, she has changed us forever. Stella's legacy is my journey on a new road without my daughter, and how God is working in our hearts.

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