Well, the countdown continues. Yesterday I went to my regular doctor, and today Nathan and I both got the chance to meet with the neonatologist who will be in charge of Poppy at the hospital where we will deliver. Our idea of what a "good" appointment is has had to change to fit the circumstances, but that being considered, I would say both appointments went well because they gave us a better idea about what to expect when Poppy arrives. Yesterday when I went to see my doctor the focal point of the conversation was the size of Poppy's head. It makes me smile when I think about it, because in addition to having hydrocephaly, Poppy just didn't have small head genes going for her. Ever since I can remember, my head has been squarely on the large side of the spectrum. It's humorous, but I'm really not kidding! Some sunglasses don't fit without having to strain against their screws, and I've never been able to wear a base ball hat that didn't have an adjustable strap in the back. I'm sorry Poppy! Anyway, because of the size of her head, my doctor explained that he might have to do a different type of a c-section that would involve a vertical as opposed to a horizontal incision. This would be necessary in order for him to be able to safely deliver her head if it does in fact continue to grow at the same rate it has up to this point. He told me that we will do another ultrasound on November 14 to determine if the growth has continued, and at that time he wil make his decision about the type of c-section that will be necessary, as well as a final ruling on the delivery date. He is leaning toward delivering her on December 6th, and if that stands, that means 5 weeks from today we should have her! Dr. Sullivant explained that having a vertical incision isn't the end of the world, but it does require longer to heal. Because of that, I ask that you continue to pray that God will slow the growth of her head, while at the same time allowing the rest of her little body to continue developing at the same rate.
The meeting with the neonatologist provided us with a clearer picture of what to expect during our stay in the hospital. Dr. Jenkins confirmed that there is no way to know how Poppy will do until she actually arrives. It is possible that upon delivery she will not respond in any way, and in that case, we requested that he stimulate her (although not artificially through a respirator) to allow us to spend some time with her before she goes home. However, if she is born and is able to breathe, he told us to expect anywhere from a day to a couple of months with her. He explained that the goal of the NICU in cases like this is to make her as comfortable as possible and to stay away from any kind of invasive procedure that would cause her pain. He did however recommend that if she lives long enough for us to take her home that we first take her to Le Bonheur (a local children's hospital) where a feeding tube could be placed into her stomach and a shunt be placed in her spinal cord to help drain off the fluid from her brain. If this does indeed happen, it would require a 1-2 day stay in the children's hospital approximately 3-5 days after she is born. Overall, this meeting left us feeling better as it helped to clear up as many of the "unknowns" as is possible in a situation like this. Of course I realize that every detail rests in God's hands, but I still want us to do everything possible to be equipped with as much information as we can going into her birth. I feel like the more we get out of the way now, the more we will be able to focus just on Poppy when she arrives. That is my priority-enjoying every single second God gives us with her on this earth.
There is a song that has been much on my heart over the past couple of months, as I have felt the words become a reality in my life. The song is titled "More than You'll Ever Know" by Watermark, and it is a tribute to the faithful people in our lives who lift us up in prayer through difficult times. The chorus and the refrain say:
Cause you've been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
Cause you have spoken the truth over my life.
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me
How you've blessed my life! More than you'll ever know.
You had faith when I had none
You prayed God would give me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I've been hoping that I'll do the kind of praying for you
That you've done for me. That's the way it ought to be.
You have carried me, You have taken up a burden that wasn't your own
May that blessing return to you a hundred fold!
I didn't write these lyrics, but they speak the words of my heart for those of you who have taken it upon yourselves to lift us up so faithfully in prayer! We are forever indebted, and it is my prayer that I will be able to do the same for many, many people in the future. This is how God wants us to function. Not as individuals fighting on our own, but as a body, caring for each member when it is hurt. I can't tell you how much your words, prayers, and encouragement have meant to Nathan and me so far, and I know it will only continue as we quickly approach Poppy's birthday!