Friday, December 17, 2010

Ella's Ornaments

Sweet Feet!

A gift from my mom.

A picture ornament.

The Roth family Christmas tree!

Due Date

Today was supposed to be Ella's due date. It would have been a really interesting one too, had she come today, with all of the ice we got last night. I think it probably would have been my first home birth! But luckily because of the ice Jacob stayed home today which helped keep my mind off of it being her due date. We just hung out and watched T.V and baked some gingerbread cookies. It was a pretty good day, really. But now that the day is coming to a close I am kinda sad. Her due date kind of feels like the last little piece of her. And now it is almost over. The day that should have been her's.

Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother
She'll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh and
Life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no
ain't even grey, but she buries her baby
The sharp knife of a short life.

The Band Perry, If I Die Young

Monday, December 13, 2010

6 Weeks

It has been 6 weeks since Ella has come and gone. The last couple of days have been harder for me for some reason. I guess it's because when I first got pregnant I pictured this holiday season being much different. This upcoming Thursday would have been my due date so I thought I would be having a baby any day now. On Saturday night we had Jacob's union Christmas party to go to. Jacob's mom and dad were keeping the kids for us so Jacob ran them out there about noon. So we had most of the day Saturday to ourselves. Jacob had a headache so he came home and took a nap. Which left me by myself. Most of the time I have enough kids and commotion around me that I don't really have time to dwell on my loss much. But Saturday I had plenty of time. And to top it all off I thought I would watch Elizabeth Edwards funeral on TV. Not a good idea. Once I started crying I couldn't stop. So I spent most of the day Saturday wallowing.

 Another thing that I think bothered me was that when I had pictured this Christmas party I thought I would still be pregnant. My brother and sister in law were also there, and another friend and his wife who are expecting a baby in January. This summer I thought that we would all be big and pregnant at the Christmas party. All awaiting the births of our perfect babies. But instead my belly was empty and my baby is in Heaven.

Then yesterday, Sunday, we went to a candle light ceremony in our community for all children, siblings, and grandchildren who have passed away. There was a photo slide show that Ella was included in. They also read a beautiful poem and there was music played. I was surprised to see how many people in our community had lost children. There were children of all different ages who had died for many different reasons - from car accidents to illness. It was kind of comforting to be in a room filled with people who have been through the same thing but also heartbreaking to know so many people are hurting the same way.

I was so looking forward to this Christmas but I am beginning to come to the realization that this holiday season is the beginning of having to give up many of the little dreams that I had. One celebration at a time.

We did have a good time at Jacob's Christmas party! Most of the men in his family are union carpenters so it is always more like a family reunion than a work Christmas party. The anticipation of going was much worse than actually being there. Once I got there it was easy to relax and fall into the conversation. We laughed and joked and had a good time! I am sure that is how every holiday celebration will be - much worse in my head than in reality.

Jacob and I at the union Christmas party.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A thankful post

It is hard to believe that it has already been a month since Ella was born. It seems like the past month has flown by and that makes me really sad. Every day that goes by feels like a day that is farther away from her. But I guess I shouldn't look at it like that. I keep trying to remind myself that it is a day closer to when I will see her again. :-)

All in all I think we are doing pretty well. I think I was able to do a lot of my grieving during my pregnancy. I am so thankful for that time. Although I miss my daughter terribly it's not quite the same devastation I felt the day of her diagnosis. I am so thankful that I had those 17 weeks after we found out to process it all. On Ella's birthday there was no devastation or even disappointment. I was able to just love her for exactly who she was! I was able to soak up every second with her. I was able to have pictures taken, make hand and foot molds, and cut a tiny lock of her hair.

I am so thankful for the technology we have today that could tell me at 16 weeks pregnant that there was something wrong with my daughter. Had I given birth to her 30 years ago I would have never had an ultrasound. I wouldn't have know anything was wrong until she was born. And things like this were handled much differently back then. As soon as she was out and the doctor's realized what was wrong they probably would have whisked her away and given me something to knock me out. When I woke up they would have told me that my baby had died and it was better if I didn't see her. They would have told me to put this behind me, that I could have more children.

Thankfully that is not at all what Ella's birth looked like. My doctor's and nurses were amazing! We were given as much time as we needed to make memories with our daughter. Our children got to hold their little sister. Our friends and family got to meet her and love on her. We had an amazing photographer, Traci Branscum, who came and took beautiful photos of our daughter that we will treasure forever! I am so thankful that Ella was born in 2010!

I am thankful that I carried her as long as my body would allow me to. When we first got Ella's diagnosis I didn't know how I was going to carry a baby that I knew was going to die. I just knew that there was no way I could terminate. If I had terminated, Ella's cause of death wouldn't have been anencephaly, it would have been me. I have no right to say when someone's life should end. Her life was just as valuable as anyone else's. Even if she wasn't perfect. God worked through her anyway. I learned so much from her in her short little life. I look at the world much differently than I did 6 months ago. Carrying Ella was one of the best things I have ever done. I am not going to say it was always easy but it was far easier than I ever could have imagined back in July.

I am so thankful to my God! I can honestly say that we felt God's presence through every step of this journey and we were never alone. And he is still with us on this side of the journey as I carry Ella in my heart instead of in my belly. :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have so many things to be thankful for this year, my amazing husband, my four beautiful children, and my wonderful friends and family. Someone had posted this story on one of the message boards I am on for parents of children with anencephaly and it really struck a chord so I thought I would share it.


Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November
gust and the florist shop door.
Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her
second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.
During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over
her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a
transfer. Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called
saying she could not come.
What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a
God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with
others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a
"Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered aloud. For a careless driver
whose truck was hardly scratched
when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her
"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her.
"I....I need an arrangement, "stammered Sandra. "For Thanksgiving?
Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with
a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?" asked the shop clerk. "I'm
convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for
something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?
"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that
could go wrong has gone wrong.
" Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I
have the perfect arrangement
for you." Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi
Barbara...let me get your order." She politely
excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared,
carrying an arrangement of
greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems
were neatly snipped...there were no flowers.
"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer's
response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers!?!
She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara
replied with an appreciative smile.
"You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by
its significance, but I can feel it
right here, all over again," she said as she gently tapped her chest. "Uhh,"
stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with, uhh... she just left with no
flowers!" "Right...I cut off the flowers. That's the Special... I call it the
Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. "Oh, come on, you can't tell me someone is willing
to pay for that?" exclaimed Sandra. "Barbara came into the shop three years ago
feeling very much like you feel today," explained the clerk. "She thought she
had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the
family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major
surgery." "That same year I had lost my husband, "continued the clerk," and for
the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no
children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any
travel. "So what did you do?" asked Sandra. "I learned to be thankful for
thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for good things
in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but
when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark
times are important. I always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns
to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God
comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort
others. "Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her
friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've
lost a baby and I'm angry with God." Just then someone else walked in the shop.
"Hey, Phil!" shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in
to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement ....twelve thorny, long-stemmed
stems!" laughed
Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra doubtingly. "Do you mind me asking why
she wants something that looks like that? "No...I'm glad you asked," Phil
replied. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we
were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through
problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me
she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from "thorny"
times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My
wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks to
Him for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to
Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"
"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to
the clerk. "It's all too... fresh." "Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my
experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's
providential care more during trouble than at any other time.
Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love.
Don't resent the thorns." Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time
since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take those
twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.
"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."
"Thank you. What do I owe you?" asked Sandra. "Nothing." said the clerk.
"Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's
arrangement is always on me. "The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra.
"I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you'd like to read it
It read:
"Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a
thousand times for my roses, but never
once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value
of my thorns. Show me that I have
climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears,
the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant."

The moral of this story: Thank God for your thorns.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ella's Ashes

We picked Ella's ashes up from the funeral home Saturday. I was so excited to get them! To have her home. I hate it that her "home coming" was in a marble box. I wish she could have seen our house. That we could have showed her her brother and sister's rooms. That she could have slept in our bassinet. But it is still good to have her home, to have all of our kiddo's under one roof. Even if she is not really here. Really she is in Heaven where she belongs. And really there is no place (other than here in my arms) that I would rather her be!

It was difficult to find an urn for her. There aren't a lot of great urn's out there for babies. But I think the one we chose fits her well. A beautiful urn for a beautiful baby!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Measure your life in love...

This has always been one of my favorite songs that they play at Christmas time. I heard it today and bawled my eyes out. It seems to take on a little bit more meaning this year.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Missing my girl....

A Mother's Love
I didn't have to look into your eyes
to fall in love with you.
I didn't have to hear you cry
to know you loved me too.
I didn't need to hold your hand
to cherish you for always.
Within my womb, we shared our hearts,
you touched my soul.
You sweetened my spirit.
You gave me memories I will always hold clear.
Yes, my heart aches since you departed too soon.
But a mother's love does not end with death.
For you are my child,
Forever my love is yours...
Author Unknown

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ella's Birth Story

I am writing this down as much for myself as for everyone else so please forgive me if there are moments of tmi. I want to make sure I can remember as much of it as possible. It might get pretty long.

I went in on Friday, October 30, 2010 to be induced. I had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am. My in laws came to the house and were going to stay there and wait until the kids got up and they would get them ready and bring them to the hospital. Jacob and I arrived at the hospital and they got my IV going and got my blood work. I was already having steady contractions on my own. When I got to the hospital I was 2cm dilated already. About 7:00 they started my pitocin and I got my epidural shortly after that. At 9:00 my doctor arrived and checked me and I was 3cm dilated. It seemed that things were moving right along. I assumed things would go much like my other deliveries and we would have a baby by early afternoon. The nurses kept checking me about every hour and I wasn't making any more progress. About 3:00 my doctor came in and said we needed to stop the induction for the day. Pitocin can cause kidney problems which can cause swelling and with my fluid levels already being so high they didn't want to take any chances. So the plan was to turn off the pitocin and we would start it again the next morning. They left my epidural in place so I was pain free and able to get a good nights sleep for the first time in weeks.

The next morning at 4:00 am the nurse came in and checked me. I was 4cm so I had made some progress through the night. At 5:00 the nurse came back in and said they were worried because all of the fluid they were putting in me was not coming out. They had given me like 6000 ml of IV fluids but I had only put out about 250. They did more blood work to check my electrolytes and put these things on my legs that were like blood pressure cuffs. They would fill up with air and then let it out. It was supposed to keep fluid from building up in my legs and feet. They also started my pitocin again. The day went on and I wasn't making any more progress. I was effacing more but not dilating. I was also starting to swell, everywhere. My legs and feet looked like sausages. About 3:00 I started having chest pains and my doctor said we had to shut the induction down. Fluid was starting to pool in my chest and it would start to compromise my lungs and heart. They also measured my belly and I was now measuring 47cm or 47 weeks pregnant. I was pretty sure they were going to tell me it was time to do a c-section but my doctor didn't even feel like that was safe with all of the fluid I was carrying. So it was decided that I would go home and come back Monday night and they would give me cervadil overnight and Tuesday morning they would start the pitocin again. That would give time for the swelling to go down and for the pitocin to get out of my system.

They took out my IV and epidural and told me to wait about 2 hours before I tried to get out of bed to make sure I had full feeling back in my legs. The epidural wore off but the pitocin was still in my system so I was still having strong contractions. I was in a lot of pain! So they gave me some kind of narcotic pain reliever that I now can't remember the name of. They also had me get in the shower. I was having back labor and the warm water in the shower was about the only thing that helped. I bet I stayed in the shower for about 2 hours. When I got out of the shower I was starting to feel bad from the pain medication that they gave me. It wasn't long before I started throwing up. They ended up deciding to go ahead and keep me overnight since I was in so much pain and throwing up.

By Sunday morning I was feeling much better and went home about 9:00am. I laid around the house all day Sunday. I was in pain just from all of the fluid I was carrying. It was also Halloween so that evening Jacob and his dad took the kids out trick or treating. I was so miserable from the pain of the fluid that I wasn't able to sleep at all Sunday night. I was also starting to have regular contractions again and I think I got in the bathtub about 3 times because it was the only place I wasn't in pain. Monday morning I had to be at my doctor's office at 9:00am to go over what we would do Monday night for the induction. My mom came over to watch the kids and my mother in-law drove me to my doctor's appt. When I got to the doctor's office I mentioned that I had been having contractions all night and he wanted to check me to see if I had progressed any more. When he checked me I was a good 5cm dilated and completely effaced and Ella had moved down low. He said if I wanted I could go on over to the hospital and he would break my water and start the pitocin. That sounded great to me!

Jacob had went to work that morning because we thought Ella wouldn't be here until Tuesday so I called him and told him they were sending me on over to the hospital. He is a union carpenter and luckily he was working on an addition to the hospital so it only took him about 2 minutes to get there. We made phone calls and let the family know that it looked like Ella would be here soon. I got to the hospital and they got me in my room and got my IV started. My doctor came in and wanted to break my water and I was so miserable from the pressure of all of the fluid I agreed. I should have waited until they got my epidural in but I just wanted some relief. I have never seen anything like it when he broke my water. I literally flooded the room! The fluid just kept coming and coming! I wasn't aware at the time but whenever he broke my water the pressure from the release of all of the fluid caused a placental abruption. As soon as my water was broke the contractions started coming fast and furious! They couldn't get my epidural because my blood work wasn't back yet. The doctor came in and checked me and I was 6cm and bleeding quite a bit.

With my next contraction I told Jacob that I needed to push. He went and got the doctor and he said I was completely dilated. He told me I could wait and get my epidural or I could go ahead and start pushing. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to sit up and get my epidural so I said lets just do this. Let me just say that I do not, for any reason, recommend having a baby without an epidural. Wow, that was painful! I only pushed for about 10 minutes although if felt like about 10 hours! Miss Ella Joy Roth made her arrival at 11:27 am on November 1, 2010. She had made us wait through 4 days of labor only to come so fast that mama didn't even have time for pain medication! They laid her on my belly and the nurse listened for a heartbeat. "It's there but it's faint" she said. She got a hat for her head and I snuggled my baby. The nurse came back over and listened for her heartbeat but this time she couldn't find it. Jacob and I took turns holding her while they got me cleaned up.

Once I was decent again Jacob went and got the kids so they could meet their sister. They were so excited to finally meet her! I was a little bit worried about how Brighton would react. He is the oldest and had a pretty good grasp of what was happening. He did really well. He had a lot of questions. He asked if she was dead and we told him she was. He had a lot more questions and we tried to answer them as best we could. The girls were great! They kissed and hugged and poked her. They each took a turn holding her. Once the kids were done spending some time with her we let the rest of the family in. Once everyone had a chance to meet her they moved me into my postpartum room. We spent the next couple of hours passing her around and loving on her. A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came and took pictures of Ella. About 4:00 all of the family left so we could spend some time alone with her before we had the funeral home come and get her. Jacob and I spent the next couple of hours just loving on our baby. Right before the funeral home came our preacher arrived and said a blessing over Ella. About 8:00pm someone from the funeral home arrived to pick Ella up.

That was the hardest part for me. I had been fine all day until I had to give my baby up. Jacob walked her to the nursery where the person from the funeral home was picking her up. He said he took her in there and left and went back and got her, and took her in there again, and went back and got her. Finally he left her and came back to the room. We both had a good long cry.

I was able to go home the next morning. I had lost quite a lot of blood and the doctor gave me the option of having a blood transfusion but said he thought if I just took it easy for the next couple of days I should be alright. So that is what I have been doing. Just taking it easy and trying to heal. We are pretty much taking it moment by moment. Thank you all so much for all the prayers, and cards, and meals. This has all been made easier by the caring and compassion of all of you. Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ella Joy

Sorry it has taken me so long to update. It has been a rough couple of days. Ella Joy Roth was born yesterday November 1, 2010. She weighed 3lbs 11oz and was 15 inches long. She had a faint hear beat when she was born but when the nurse checked just a few minutes later it was gone. We spent the whole day loving on her and showing her off to everybody. Someone from the organization Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came and took pictures of her and I hope to have a couple of them back soon to post. She was a beautiful girl and for only being three pounds she was a chunk! I will try to get her birth story up in the next day or two. Its a long one. We are still in the hospital but are planning on going home later this morning. Thank you all so much for the thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Not much change this morning. They came in and checked me about 4:00 this morning and I was about 4cm. I was also having a problem with the fluids they were giving me. They were going in but not coming out. So they gave me some lasiks (I am sure I just butchered the spelling of that) and I have to wear these things on my legs that are like blood pressure cuffs and fill up with air and squeeze my legs every couple of minutes. About 5:00 they started my pitocin again and I was feeling some pain so they gave me a bolster of the epidural. Now I am feeling comfortable and just waiting to make some progress. The doctor should be here before long and he will check me again. Hopefully I have made some progress!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Still Waiting

Well, not much progress so far. I have been 3 centimeters since 9:00 this morning. I have made progress by effacing and Ella has dropped. So far no change in dialation. They have turned off my pitocin for the night and are going to let me get something to eat (Yay!). My doctor said he still thought I would go sometime through the night but he wasn't sure when. So we have told family members that were waiting with us here to go on home and we will call them as soon as anything changes. I really thought things would go much faster than this today. But I am looking forward to getting something to eat and hopefully getting some rest. Now that I have my epidural the pain in my back and ribs is gone. Hopefully I can get some sleep and be bright eyed and bushy tailed when Ella arrives! Thank you all for your continued prayers! I will update if anything changes.

It's Here

It's Ella Day! I am getting ready to leave for the hospital here in about 30 minutes. I will try to update through out the day. Thank you all for the many good thoughts and prayers. Today is the day we need them most!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

E Day

Well, it looks like Friday is Ella day! They are going to induce me on Friday morning. I am so glad! And so heartbroken. This is not how I pictured this going. I was supposed to be induced at 39 or 40 weeks. Not 33. I pictured a chubby newborn baby. Not a tiny preemie. But I hadn't bargained on all of this dumb fluid! I am so miserable. My back and my ribs are killing me. No matter what I do or what position I am in it hurts. I know I can't go on much longer like this. At least not without losing my mind. So instead of a December birthday she will be born in October. I am just praying that labor will go quickly and smoothly and we will get some time to spend together as a family before we have to say goodbye. I know the next couple of days are going to be hard, physically and emotionally. I am just hoping Friday our hospital room is filled with joy as we welcome our 4th child into the world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What will tomorrow hold?

I had an ultrasound this evening to check my fluid levels. My amniotic fluid is now measuring 40.41 cm. At 32 weeks the average amount of amniotic fluid is 14.4 cm. The amniotic fluid index charts that I could find on the internet only went up to the 97th percentile which was 26 cm so it looks like I am way off the charts. The sonographer called my doctor after my ultrasound to see if they wanted to see me today but everyone was already out of the office. She talked to my doctor by calling the after hours hotline and he said to call first thing in the morning for an appointment. They want to see me tomorrow. I am guessing that if they want to see me then they are going to want to do something. Either drain the amniotic fluid or induce me. I am just hoping for some relief. I have been having horrible pain in my back and ribs. I guess from the pressure of all of the fluid.

So I have a feeling that some decision will be made tomorrow. That even if tomorrow isn't going to be her birth date that we will at least have some idea when that day will be. I have very mixed emotions. I am very ready for this pregnancy to be over but not ready for her to be born. I so wish I wasn't having these fluid problems and I could just leave her in there as long as possible. But it is getting very physically difficult to continue and I know at some point it will be dangerous for me. I am just trying to trust that this is all happening in God's time. So tonight could be my last night with Ella inside me. That is hard. But I am just trying look forward to the excitement of getting to meet her and spend some time with her before we have to give her back.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

32 Week Appointment

Well, 31 weeks 5 days. I should have known it wasn't going to be a great appointment when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had gained 5 more pounds in the past 2 weeks! I saw the nurse practitioner today because my doctor is out of town. I am measuring 35 weeks now instead of almost 32. So I have to go for an ultrasound on Monday to check my fluid levels. She said if my fluid levels keep going up then it looks like we will probably have to deliver sooner than we thought. Which I was hoping to avoid but I am starting to get pretty uncomfortable and I can't imagine getting much bigger. Ella's heart rate was down a little bit lower than it has been which also makes me a little bit nervous. For most of my pregnancy it stayed right in the 150's. At my ultrasound Saturday it was 143 and today it was 138. The nurse practitioner said anything above 120 is perfectly normal and they don't get worried unless it drops below that but I would feel better if it were a little bit higher. So I will go Monday for my ultrasound and then my next appointment is November 2nd. I guess we will see where my amniotic fluid levels are and go from there.

Here I thought I had at least 6 more weeks and it's a little bit scary to know she may be here before then! And on top of everything else I have an awful cold and just feel like laying around and doing nothing. On a happy note though we went this past Saturday to one of those elective ultrasound places and had another 4D ultrasound done! After seeing Ella when Melanie did our ultrasound on Tuesday we just couldn't get enough! We got a DVD of the entire ultrasound, a CD full of pictures, and a teddy bear that has Ella's hear beat recorded on it. Unfortunately we are having technical difficulties with the CD drive on our computer. So as soon as I get to Wal-mart I will get prints of all of the ultrasound pictures so I can scan them and get them up. They turned out really good!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 Week Ultrasound

First and foremost a HUGE thank you to my friend Melanie for doing this ultrasound for us! It was so good to see Miss Ella again even if she didn't exactly want to cooperate. She is wedged down really low and was moving around like crazy and it made it really hard to get a good shot of her. Melanie was also able to tell me that my fluid levels are a bit high. In a normal pregnancy at 30 weeks amniotic fluid levels are usually around 12-14 cm. I have about 20 cm of amniotic fluid. But the good news is that Ella is exactly the size she should be for a 30 week baby. And as always she looked pretty perfect except for the fact that she is missing the top of her head! So here are a few pictures of Ella!

Ella from the outside! (Pay no attention to my messy bathroom)

A shot of her little nose and mouth.

In this picture you can see where her head ends and a little bit of her brain sticking up out of her skull.

She has her hand on top of her face above her nose like she is saying "Enough with the pictures already!"

This is one of my favorites! She was putting her thumb in her mouth to suck it.

A profile shot.

A picture of her sweet feet! (Melanie assured me that her legs were not cut off it was just the angle of the shot!:-))

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

30 Week Appointment

I had my 30 week appointment today although I won't technically be 30 weeks until Thursday. The first thing they always do is weigh me. So far I had been doing really good with my weight gain. At my last appointment 4 weeks ago I had only gained 5 lbs so far with this pregnancy. Well, the news wasn't so good today when I stepped on the scale. In the last 4 weeks I have gained 7 lbs!! I know that's only 12 lbs altogether and that's really good but now I have this fear that I will just keep on packing on the pounds like that for the rest of my pregnancy! So that right there almost gave me a heart attack right off the bat!

So the doctor came in and measured me and listened to the babies heartbeat. Everything was good and I am actually measuring smaller than I should be! That is really hard to believe because I feel huge! He said that is common too with anencephalic babies that sometimes they are smaller than normal babies. We talked about how if I were to go into labor early that they would not stop it because the drugs they use would be bad for me and there is no reason to keep her in there longer at my expense since it will not benefit her at all. We also talked about how a lot of moms with anencephalic babies do not go into labor on their own and I may need to be induced. Which isn't a problem for me. I have been induced with all of my children and had fairly quick, easy labors. Besides all the weight I gained this month my appointment went good. I will go back in two weeks for my next appointment.

My due date is getting closer and Jacob and I were talking tonight and he said "You should probably go ahead and pack your hospital bag with everything we will need for Ella. Just in case." Which kind of put me in a panic. Packing the bag makes it all so real. That before long we will really be going to the hospital and having a baby. And coming home alone. But I know it's something I need to do. We are taking the kids to Branson this weekend and I would hate to go into labor down there and not have any of Ella's things or the things I have ready to make keepsakes. We only have one chance to get her little hand and footprints. We can't do it over once the moment has passed. So I will be packing my bag and taking it with us. Just in case.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sorry it's been so long

I have been really bad about updating my blog. I am in my third trimester now. The home stretch. In 11 weeks Ella will be here, if not before then. This pregnancy has really been a lot easier than I thought. When we first got Ella's diagnosis I wasn't sure how hard it would be to carry her to term. But it really hasn't been as bad as I had feared. I was nervous about people who don't our situation asking me questions about my pregnancy and that it might be hard to find the answers. But really it hasn't been. When strangers ask questions like "when are you due" or "do you know what you are having", I answer them. " I am due in December with a baby girl." Most people I know know about our situation whether from facebook, or my blog, or just word of mouth. Everyone has been so supportive and great. They always give me a hug and tell me they are praying for Ella and our family. Although I have to admit a time or two I have seen people in the store that I know and I am not sure whether they know about Ella or not and I panic and run the other way! So if you have seen me in Wal-Mart and it looks as if I am running from you it's not because I don't like you, it's just that I can't talk about it right then.

I finally contacted the funeral home and talked to them about all of our options when she is gone. I just need to make an appointment to go in and finalize the arrangements and prepay so once she is born all we have to do is make a phone call and everything will be taken care of. We have decided to have her cremated. We don't own any burial plots anywhere and even though the funeral home said there are several cemeteries that offer plots free of charge for infants we have decided against burring her. We are young and who knows where we will be in the future. I hate the thought of moving one day and leaving her behind. So she will be cremated and whenever Jacob or I pass away her ashes will be put in our casket with us.

My next doctor's appointment is next Tuesday. After that I will start going every two weeks instead of four. I am starting to get to that point in my pregnancy where I am getting uncomfortable. My back aches, my ribs are sore and I am having trouble sleeping at night. I know that's all a normal part of pregnancy but I was hoping maybe I could skip all of that this time. But no luck. I am hoping to do a 3D/4D ultrasound soon so hopefully I will have new pictures of Miss Ella for you all! As my due date gets closer I am really excited to meet this girl and finally find out exactly who she is and see who she looks like! I have such mixed emotions. I can't wait for her to get here but at the same time I wish this pregnancy would never end.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What should have been

It has been an eventful week. Labor Day on Monday, my doctor's appointment on Tuesday, soccer practice on Wednesday and on Thursday my sister in-law had her "big" ultrasound to find out what they were having. It turns out they are having a little girl too! Her name will be Nora Alexis Lynn Roth. I am so happy for them! They both really wanted a little girl and they tried so long and hard for this baby. But I am also a little bit sad. Because our girls should be growing up together. Ella and Nora. But instead they will never even meet. Tiffany is due February 16th. Two months from the day that I am due, December 16th. When Tiffany found out she was pregnant we were so excited! We weren't sure if we would ever get the chance to be pregnant at the same time. This was to be Jacob and I's last baby and Daniel and Tiffany had been trying for almost 3 years and it didn't look like it was going to happen for them anytime soon. And then out of nowhere they were expecting a baby too!

We are still sharing in our pregnancy experiences together but it's not like it should be. This is not at all how us being pregnant together was supposed to go. I am so happy for them and I know they are going to be amazing parents. Sometimes it is hard. We had known that yesterday was the day they would be finding out the gender for quite some time. And I was so excited to hear what their baby was going to be. But it just hit me a lot harder than I thought when I got that text that said "It's a girl"! I guess it just seems a little bit cruel. We are both finally pregnant at the same time, we are both having baby girls, we are both due exactly 2 months from the day of each other. It's like a dream come true....except that its not. Our daughters will never play together. We will never lay them next to each other on the floor and take their pictures. Nora will never get any of Ella's hand me downs. That is what it hard, knowing what should have been. I just pray that holding baby Nora will be a comfort to me when my own arms are empty.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

25 Week Appointment

Yesterday I had my 25 week OB appointment. Everything looked good! Miss Ella's heartbeat was good although I forgot to ask exactly what it was. My doctor said I was measuring on target so that means that my fluid levels are probably still in the normal ranges. Which is very good news! I have to go do my one hour glucose test before my next appointment, which I am not looking forward to, but other than that it was a great appointment!

Speaking of fluid levels, my friend Brooke who I have been emailing with is currently 30 weeks pregnant with her son Briar who also has anencephaly. Her fluid levels are very high. She is 30 weeks but measuring 37 because of all of the fluid. I know she is very uncomfortable from the weight of all of the fluid. She has started to dialate and it looks like it won't be long before Briar makes his arrival. Please keep her and her husband Brandon in your prayers. It won't be long now until they have to say hello and goodbye to their little boy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Sorry, it has been a while since I posted last. Life can get pretty hectic with 3 small children and it is hard to find time to come up with a complete thought let alone write it down! Brighton has started kindergarten and since we are homeschooling it takes up a big part of our day. He is a really good kid though and loves to learn so it doesn't really seem like work. Plus Brighton and Lily have both started soccer so that takes up another huge chunk of time that I usually have free. I guess I have been kind of avoiding my blog because I am not really sure how I feel about everything and what to write. I am kind of all over the place right now. It is easy with being so busy and having so much else to focus on to push everything that is going on with Ella to the back of my mind. There are still things I need to do, like talk to the funeral home and make arrangements for when she passes, but I am getting good at avoiding those things. It's easy to forget with her kicking and moving like crazy that anything is wrong. Until something will come out of nowhere and all of a sudden I am faced with it all again.

This past Saturday Jacob and I left the kids with his mom and dad and went to Six Flag's for the day, just me and him. We were in Hurricane Harbor, the water park part of the park, when two different families came in with little girls in wheel chairs. One of the little girls looked like she could have had spina bifida. From the waist up she looked completely normal and healthy but her legs looked smaller than the rest of her body like the muscles had atrophied and she couldn't use them. A year ago I would have probably looked at these two families and felt sorry for them. I would have thought "Oh, how awful to have a child with a disability." But as I sat on the park bench waiting for Jacob to get done changing out of his swimming suit all I could feel was envy.

What I wouldn't give for a little girl in a wheelchair. I know that wouldn't be easy but at least we would have her! We could watch her grow. We could hug and love on her. If only her neural tube defect would have been on the other end. It's amazing how quickly your whole perspective on life can change. A year ago the thing I would have been most afraid of is now the thing I would give anything in the world to have. Just a chance to see her grow and thrive. Even if she wasn't perfect. Even if she never walked or talked.

So that is pretty much how my days have been going. I am going through my day completely normally until I see something or hear something that brings it all back and I remember just exactly what we are going to lose. I have been listening to a song today that helps to remind me that we aren't losing her forever. One day we will get to see her again and love and hug on her. The song is called Glory baby by Watermark. Click on the link below to hear it.

Share Glory Baby by Watermark

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fear Not

At the beginning of the week my wonderful friend Brooke sent me a book in the mail. I met Brooke online on a message board for mommy's of babies with anencephaly. E-mailing back and forth with Brooke has been such a blessing for me. It is so good to talk to someone else who is going through the exact same thing. The book that she sent me is called I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. It is the story of Angie's daughter Audrey Caroline who was given a fatal prenatal diagnosis. It is a wonderful, inspiring book. Angie also has a blog called Bring The Rain if anyone would like to read her story. I was reading this book yesterday morning after my post on fear Tuesday evening. I came across a verse in the book that spoke directly to me.

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your request to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7
It's amazing how God sends us just what we need, right when we need it. :) It let me know that he is still here with us on this journey. And he will be there on the day we say hello and goodbye.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My biggest fear is of the unknown. Will she be born alive? What will she look like? How long will we have with her? Will the end be peaceful, or violent and scary? I have so many questions that no one has the answers to.

All I can do is pray and trust that God will see us through this. But that is so hard to do sometimes. I am such a control freak. I like to know exactly what is going to happen so I can prepare for it. But as much as I have tried there is no preparing for your child to die. I have done everything that I can. I have prepared all of the physical, material things for her birth but there is no way I can prepare for the emotional part of it. How is it going to feel to see her? How is it going to feel to lose her? These things run through my mind all day long. How long will it take before I feel normal again? Will I ever feel normal again?

Will we always feel like something is missing? I just keep thinking how every time we take a family photograph, for the rest of our lives,that our whole family won't be there. And on Lily's wedding day will I look up at the alter and be saddened by the fact that Ella isn't standing up there next to Lilah as a bridesmaid? Our family will never again be whole. How do we recover from this? Is that even possible?

Only God knows the answers to these questions. He has know this was going to come to pass since before I was born. In some ways that is a comfort to me, to know that this is all part of his plan. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. The hardest part is still to come.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birth Plan Part 2

As I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to put together my birth plan I have read the birth plan's of several other parents who have been given a fatal prenatal diagnosis. It is only because I was able to read their birth plans that I am able to come up with one of my own. So I thought it might be helpful to someone if I posted mine. I can't promise that this is the final draft but here is what I have so far:

Birth Plan
Comfort Care Plan
For Ella Joy Roth
August 11, 2010
As Ella's parents, it is our greatest wish to be able to cherish every moment we have with our baby, in a loving and caring environment. We have compiled this list of requests and wishes regarding her care in order to make this experience as easy as possible for all involved. Our main goals are to give Ella the best chance at a live birth and to spend as much quality time with her as possible. Our wishes are as follows:
  • We DO wish to have a sign placed on our door that designates what type of situation Ella's birth is. We DO NOT wish to have extraneous staff entering our room without first speaking to our nurse (i.e. housekeeping, dietary).
  • We DO NOT wish to have continuous fetal monitoring during labor and delivery. Periodic monitoring of heart tones is preferred.
  • We DO NOT want to have my water broken at anytime. Keeping the membranes intact will protect Ella's head and might make a live birth more likely.
  • When Ella is born, we would like her wrapped in a blanket and a cap placed on her head and immediately handed to Courtney. If Courtney is unable to hold Ella, we would like her handed to Jacob. We wish to cherish all the time we have with her. Every second counts.
  • We DO wish to have routine care for any newborn such as having her nose and mouth suctioned with a bulb and drying her quickly. We request only temporary assistance to initiate Ella's breathing.
  • We DO NOT wish any life saving intervention on Ella's behalf. The focus should be on care and comfort.
  • We anticipate Ella will be born with a large opening to her occipital area and neural tissue will be exposed. If she is holding her own, we would like a dressing placed on any open area. We would prefer it to be dressed with saline or Vaseline gauze, and then an outer layer of gauze, whatever works best.
  • We DO NOT want Ella taken from the delivery room at any time, by any person, for any reason. We do not want our precious time with her to be limited.
  • We DO NOT wish to have any routine admission medications given, such as erythromycin ointment, or Vitamin K, nor do we want her blood sugar monitored.
  • We DO NOT wish to have a nasogastric tube inserted in order to feed Ella. Courtney will decide if she wants to nurse Ella after she is born, if she is able. If Ella lives long enough to require nutrition but cannot eat by mouth we will discuss it with the doctor at that time.
  • In the event that Ella does not die immediately, or soon after birth, we may wish to consider having an IV inserted and buff-capped for the administration of pain medication. We wish to make Ella's time on earth as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
  • In the event Ella is experiencing severe seizures and seems uncomfortable or in pain we may wish to consider the administration of anti-seizure medication.
  • We DO want the nursing staff to weigh and measure Ella when we request it. Should we forget to request it, please do it prior to her leaving the hospital.
  • We DO request that Dad be allowed to give Ella her first bath.
  • We DO request that Mom be allowed to dress Ella in her own clothes. We DO NOT want these clothes to be removed at any point or by any person other than her parents. Ella is to be wearing these clothes when she goes to the mortuary.
  • We realize that Ella will look different physically. We hope everyone can see her for who she is, our beautiful little baby. She will be greatly missed and never forgotten.
  • We DO wish to allow our family members and friends to visit as we deem appropriate. Please DO NOT allow anyone in our room without talking to us first. We DO wish to bring our three young children, ages 5, 4, and 2 to meet their sister and spend time with her. We ask your assistance in keeping them updated as we request it.
  • We have contacted Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a bereavement organization, and arranged for a photographer to come to the hospital and take professional photos of our baby. We ask that you accommodate them in any way that is helpful. Their contact information is:
  • We DO wish to be with Ella and holding her at the time of her death.
  • We DO NOT want Ella to go to the morgue at anytime. We DO request the hospital contact the funeral home directly when we are ready to say goodbye to Ella. We wish for her to be picked up directly from us or for her to be taken by our nurse from us. Our funeral home can be contacted at:
  • We DO wish to have as many keepsakes and memento's as possible. Please save the following items for us to take home: the bassinet card, hats, baby blanket, any photographs taken by the hospital, hospital bracelet and cord clamp, hand and footprints, molds of hands and feet (we have kits with us), lock of hair if possible, clothing Ella may have worn, anything else you think we may want to have.
  • If any caregiver has a suggestion or idea that you think may be helpful, please share it with us, as there are many things we haven't thought of.

Thank you for being a partner in our baby's birth. It is only in light of her condition that we have chosen to provide a birth plan. We know your are a competent, compassionate group of people. Please be patient with us and don't mind if we change our minds at any time. We don't know how to do this sad thing and are learning as we go. Thank you in advance for sharing in this experience with us and helping us to make as many memories as possible with our daughter while in your care.

Jacob and Courtney Roth

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Birth Plan

I finally took the time today and sat down and wrote out a birth plan for Ella's birth. Normally during labor I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl but being that this is the only time we are going to have with her I want to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Luckily I didn't have to come up with it on my own. I followed the birth plan from a wonderful organization called String of Pearls. It is an organization that helps parents deal with the passing of their babies. Laura, the founder of the organization, also sent me a wonderful package filled with items to make keepsakes for Ella. There is a plaster kit to make 3D hand and foot molds,a Christmas ornament to put her hand and footprints on, clay to make hand and footprints with, white sage and wild mint tea to help decrease my milk supply,and Cabo Creme to help with engorgement. There was also a journal, a photo album, and a book on grief. I am so thankful for Laura and String of Pearls for all of the kindness they have shown me! If you have time please read Pearl's story at .

My birth plan is not so much a plan for the birth but a comfort care plan for after Ella is born. We want to make sure that we have as much time with her as possible but also that she doesn't suffer or feel any pain. I was a little reluctant to sit down and write it all out but I feel much better knowing that it is done. Should she come early we are prepared and the doctor's and nurses will know just what we want this birth experience to be. I feel the need to have everything ready just in case. I have bought two little preemie outfits so if she comes early she will have something cute to wear. I have also ordered her a personalized blanket to keep her warm in the hospital. I do still need to find her a cute little hat as I know this will be her most important accessory!

I just want to finish with a passage of scripture that has been on my mind.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, July 29, 2010

20 weeks

Today has been a bittersweet day. I am 20 weeks pregnant today. Usually 20 weeks is a big milestone because it means you are half way through your pregnancy. But for me half way to her birth also means half way to her death. I had my 20 week ultrasound today also. Which went really well! The ultrasound techs that I had were awesome and took a lot of time showing us every inch of her and answering our questions as best they could. Good news is that my amniotic fluid levels are perfectly normal so far. Ella had fluid in her stomach and bladder so it looks like she is swallowing a least a little.

We got a good look at her defect and it looks like her skull stops right above her eyebrows in the front and at about ear level at in the back. That is good news! I was hoping for some skull in the back so that maybe she will have some soft baby hair that we can get a lock of. We got 4 good pictures. Two pictures of her little feet, a potty shot, and a cute picture of her little hand. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of her face. I was hoping for a good profile shot. I know the tech got some good ones so I am hoping my doctor will make me a copy of a few of them. Her heartbeat was a steady 154. She kicked and moved and tried to keep her hands in front of her face the whole time!

But all in all I was just glad to see her and see that she is doing ok in there and to know she is growing like she is supposed to. Jacob and I were truly happy and excited for our ultrasound today and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We laughed at the silly things she did and smiled at how big she is getting. I hope that is how her birth will be. That we will just be so happy basking in the beauty and wonder of our daughter that we won't have time to think of all the sad and difficult days to come. That we can just absolutely enjoy or daughter while she is here.

A few pictures of Ella:

A picture of her little foot.

She has her index finger up. She may also have her thumb out giving the "loser" sign!Lol!

This picture was from our 16 week "fun" u/s to find out Ella's gender. This is the only good profile shot we have so far.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pity Party

I am having a bit of a pity party today so you will have to bare with me. I had my regular 20 week ultrasound scheduled for this afternoon. I had made the appointment over a month ago before we had gotten Ella's diagnosis. At my last Dr's appt my doctor had said it was up to me whether or not I wanted to keep this appointment. Jacob and I both said we did. We were looking forward to seeing our little girl and hoping the ultrasound tech could show us exactly where her defect starts and that we could get a better idea of what to expect to see when she is born. I was also looking forward to getting some new pictures of her. Our doctor said that was fine. So my mother in-law took off work early today to watch our kids. Jacob met me at the imaging center and we went in to our appointment.

I went up to the counter and told the lady my name and that I had an ultrasound at 4 o'clock. "I'm sorry but I can't find you on any of our schedules." I told her that I had made the appointment several weeks ago. She called and talked to someone in a different department. Apparently someone from my doctor's office had canceled my appointment the day after I had gotten Ella's diagnosis! I had the lady call and talk to my doctor's office. My doctor's office said they were sorry for the misunderstanding and to go ahead and reschedule my ultrasound. But of course they couldn't squeeze me in today so now I have to wait until Thursday! It was all I could do not to burst into tears at the imaging center!

It just seems like nothing is going our way lately. It's one thing after another. I had been on pins and needles all day anticipating this ultrasound and what we would see. I was excited to see our baby girl again but also nervous about getting a closer look at her defect. I was anxious for this ultrasound and anxious for it to be over at the same time. And then when I realized it wasn't going to happen today and had to talk myself down from bursting into tears and scaring the poor lady behind the counter! It would be nice if just one thing would go like it is supposed to!

So anyway, I have to do it all over on Thursday. So now my mom will have to take off work to watch the kids and Jacob will have to take off early. I will have to drink another 32oz. and hope my bladder doesn't explode! And hopefully this time I will actually get to see my baby and get some answers. So I am a little bit crabby today and having a bit of a pity party. I also have my 20 week Dr's appointment on Wednesday so I will try to update then and then again after my ultrasound on Thursday. Sorry that I don't have anything more exciting to report today. Tune back in later in the week!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I had my first OB appointment since Ella was diagnosed last night. I was a little bit nervous about it because the doctor I saw at St. Anthony's talked like my doctor may not want to deal with Ella's problems and may want me to transfer my care to St. John's. Well, that was not the case! My doctor said it was totally up to me but they would love me to stay with them. He said there was nothing more that they could do for her up there. It will mostly just be comfort measures for Ella and I and making sure we get to spend as much time with her as possible. I was really glad because I didn't want to have to deliver in a strange hospital with a new doctor.

I also had my regular 20 week ultrasound scheduled for the 26th of this month. I wasn't sure if I was still supposed to go to that since I had just had an ultrasound last week. My doctor said it was up to me. So we are going to go and see our girl again! I am hoping the tech can show us exactly where her defect starts so we can get a better idea of what she will look like when she is born. My doctor also gave me all of the ultrasound pictures that they had of Ella in my chart since I didn't get any at my last ultrasound!

He did say that my fluid levels were already on the high side which is common when carrying an anencephalic baby. A lot of times the baby cannot swallow the amniotic fluid so it builds up. This may cause my water to break early. I am hoping to carry her as long as possible so I may have an amnio later on in my pregnancy to drain some of the fluid. Baby's born after 37 weeks have a greater chance of surviving the birth and being born alive so we will try to do whatever we can to get to that point. So all in all my appointment went well and I feel much better knowing that I will get to stay with my doctor and deliver at the same hospital I always have!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Beginning

Easter of 2010 my husband Jacob and I learned we were expecting our 4th child. We were a bit surprised by this news. We had planned on having another child at some point but weren't quite expecting it to happen this soon. We have 3 other children. Our son Brighton was 5 at the time. Our daughter Lily was 3 and our youngest Lilah was just getting ready to turn 2. I had my first OB appointment at 6 weeks and the ultrasound showed a little round blob with a good heartbeat. I had ultrasounds at my 8 and 12 week appointments and everything looked good. At my next appointment at 16 weeks we heard the heartbeat on the doppler ( a strong 157) and they scheduled my level 2 ultrasound at 20 weeks.

I was a little too impatient to wait another month to find out the gender of our baby so I talked Jacob into letting me schedule a elective ultrasound for the next Monday to find out if we were getting a boy or girl. That Monday was the 5th of July and Jacob was off work due to the 4th falling on a Sunday. We took the kids to Six Flags that day and on our way home stopped at the ultrasound place to learn our baby's gender. The ultrasound tech was very nice and informed us that we were having a baby girl! She showed us her tiny toes, her strong heartbeat (151) and her spine. When we left we got 2 pictures, a potty shot and a full length shot that wasn't very good. I told Jacob " I wish we would have gotten a picture of her face."We left the appointment happy and ready to start preparing for our baby girl. Jacob had to run in the mall after our appointment and get something for work so while we were in the elevator I said to him " I really like the name Ella". "That's it" he said. "That is her name. I knew I would know it when I heard it and that's it"! So Ella she became!

The next morning at 9am I got a call from my doctor's office. They told me that someone from the elective ultrasound place had called them and said they had seen something "concerning" on my ultrasound and they wanted me to have a repeat ultrasound the next day at a bigger hospital in the city. I was worried sick! They didn't give me any idea what they thought was wrong. I called Jacob right away and he said he would take off the next day and go with me. He assured me it was probably just a mistake. The next morning we arrived at the Perinatal center and they brought us into the ultrasound room. The tech started scanning me and from what I could see the baby looked perfect. She was kicking and moving around like normal. We could see her arms and legs, her heartbeat looked good. We were trying to make small talk with the tech who seemed very serious. Jacob said something like" I told my wife that it was probably nothing to worry about". The tech looked at us and said " I am sorry but it is something much more serious than that". "See how the bones in the baby's legs are a bright white. And the baby's arms. Now look at the baby's head. There is no white. The baby has no bone in her head. And that can't be fixed." She told us that what our baby had was called Anencephaly. It was a neural tube defect that was not compatible with life. She left us alone for a few minutes to go get the doctor so he could talk to us. We were in complete shock. We both cryed.

When the doctor came in a few minutes later he told us that the baby should survive until birth. That it was my legal right to terminate if that's what I wanted to do but being that they were a Catholic hospital they could not help me with that. They said most babies with anencephaly only live for a few minutes to a few hours. The doctor and the tech were very kind and tryed to explain everything the best they could. They asked if we had any questions but we could hardly form a complete thought let alone think of any questions to ask. They gave us both a hug and told us if we needed anything or had any questions to give them a call. We wondered out of the hospital and to our car. We rode home in silence, both of us crying and not sure what to say. I was dreading going home to my mother in-law who was watching our 3 other children. The last thing I wanted to have to do was tell someone this awful news. Actually telling her wasn't as bad as I thought. Our son Brighton could tell from all the tears that something was wrong. We explained to him that our baby was very sick and that she would have to go to heaven to live with Jesus right after she is born.

My mother in-law called my father in-law and he left work and came straight over. We all just kind of sat in silence until late afternoon when they left so we could get some rest. I told a few family members and friends that day and word slowly got out. I have never felt such an outpouring of love and support. The good thoughts and prayers from people all around have definitely lifted us up and let us know how much we are loved. And how much Ella is loved. We are going to carry our girl to term or as long as she is living. We are going to enjoy every precious second she is in my belly and whatever time God gives us with her in our arms. I don't know what the next few months hold for us, how it will test our family. But I do know that this is the road God laid out for us and we are going to walk it in faith.