Author Archives: candace7676

About candace7676

After a healthy pregnancy, we had a baby boy born last September with a rare brain malformation. His name was Gavin, and he was with us 10 short weeks before he gained his angel wings. We are now pregnant again and a crazy mixture of excited, scared and hopeful. This blog will document our journey to a rainbow baby after loss...

My Ideal Birth..

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So people keep telling me that I need to focus on the positive, not my fears and concerns about birth. I know this is true, but that’s easier said than done.  So in an attempt to think positively about this, I’m going to write about what my idea birth plan/experience would be, and try to work on visualizing that as I wait for Morgan to decide she’s ready to come.

What do I want, really? It’s pretty simple. I want to have Morgan naturally, without any drugs to slow either of us down. I want to push her out, have her handed to me (I’ve never experienced this) and get to hold her, and look at her. I want to have the opportunity to nurse her within the first hour of birth, and see that “awake, aware” newborn moment that supposedly happens right after birth.

So what does my ideal birth look like? I don’t know. I don’t really care as long as I’m able to do it. I would love to have a fast (even if intense) labor, preferably without back labor. But honestly, I can handle the back labor as long as I fully dilate and feel the need to push. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

I see things starting mid-day, and getting intense pretty quickly. I would like to be able to labor at home as long as possible because just being in the hospital makes me nervous and slows things down for me.  Ideally I would get to the hospital just in time to get the antibiotics I will need for GBS, and not much sooner. I will be able to walk around and move, without an IV pole attached to me. Maybe get in the shower for a bit. Bounce on my ball. I want to remember to say to myself, “open” over and over … I like that image. I need to relax, and allow my body to open and do what it needs to.

Ideally, I will feel the need to push and just let that happen as it feels right. No laying on my back in stirrups while people count at me, no thank you! Just stand, squat, on hands and knees.. whatever feels right and will get the baby out. I don’t want to forcefully push, I would like to just let my body push the baby out on it’s own.

When she’s born, I want her placed on me, cord still attached. I want it left untouched until it stops pulsating, and I picture Jeremy and I just taking the time to look at her, and feel the emotions that will come flooding because she is here, and she is OK.

In the end, birth is unpredictable and there is no telling how things will happen, and what will feel right. I’m going to concentrate on thinking about a positive experience .. and the end result. I want to remember to trust my body and believe that it is capable of giving birth naturally.

34-35 weeks, now .. not long until it’s time to meet Morgan. And I want to spend these last few weeks picturing a positive outcome for all of us.

Gavin’s Birth Story

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As I head into the final weeks of my pregnancy with Morgan Riley, and anticipate her birth, I’m realizing that I have never really allowed myself to process Gavin’s birth – and deal with the emotions connected to it. Since immediately after birth Gavin was so very sick, and transferred to another hospital/NICU, I went into survival mode. We were in survival mode for the 10 weeks he was with us, and honestly, for many months after as well. I had planned a natural birth for Gavin, but ended up with a c-section (necessary) .. and didn’t even get any time to heal from it physically .. I asked (and was granted) release from the hospital less than 24 hours after the section so I could go be with Gavin. I walked long distances from the car to the University NICU where he was staying, and aside from getting my staples out a week after the section, didn’t have the time or energy to really deal with it. I did what I had to do, and that was get up and be there with Gavin. But I’m feeling the need to reflect on the entire birth experience, and try to move forward before I attempt my VBA2C with Morgan.

September 29, 2010

I had just turned 37 weeks and began having regular, crampy contractions in the afternoon. But because I tend to be crampy towards the end of pregnancy in general, I didn’t pay much attention. We went to dinner with my parents at California Pizza Kitchen, and I remember commenting to my husband on the way home that I was having regular cramps every 10 mins or so and that I was starting to think this might be early labor. They continued through the evening, and when we went to lay down and go to bed, they were getting more intense and I was unable to fall asleep. My husband called his supervisor and told him he would not be going to work the next day. I told Jeremy to get some rest, and I went out to the living room to listen to a hypnobabies track and relax since I couldn’t sleep. I got on MDC and told my October DDC that I thought this was it, I was in labor. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together but I was able to relax and stay comfortable through them.  Around 2am they were getting stronger and closer together, so we called my Mom to make the hour drive over to watch Alex. She arrived about 3:30am, and I continued to labor in the living room until about 5am when they were coming very close together and we decided to head to the hospital.

Once we arrived at the hospital, I started feeling anxious and while hooked up to the monitors, my contractions slowed down considerably. They checked me and I was only 3cm, so we decided to go back home and let me labor more on my own before being admitted. Gavin’s heart rate was high, and did not do the normal decrease and increase they expect to see with a healthy baby.. but they allowed me to go home and we did not think much of it. We called my Doula, who happened to be newly pregnant and had a dr. appt that morning (she uses my same OB, and his office is connected to the hospital) – she agreed to check on me and hang around after her appointment if I wasn’t already back at the hospital.

September 30, 2010

So once we were back home, my contractions picked back up and I was able to labor in the living room while listening to hypnobabies. I was quite relaxed and handling everything well when I felt a huge gush .. I went to the bathroom and my underwear was filled with huge blood clots. It looked like large chunks of liver, and there was a ton of blood. I freaked out. I knew something was not right – I called Jeremy in and he freaked out at the amount of blood. We called the hospital and said we were on our way back, and for a moment considered going to a closer hospital (I was worried about an abruption or something) but decided to just rush to our hospital of choice. My contractions were hard and strong and since I was now scared and concerned about the huge blood clots (and still bleeding more) I was also not relaxed and hurting quite a bit. Once in labor and delivery I remember being so relieved when they hooked me up and we head Gavin’s heartbeat. I was so scared that something was bad wrong. I remember being hooked up to the monitor with strong contractions and it flashing “ADMIT PATIENT NOW” – Jeremy and I both got a good laugh out of that one.

We were put in a room and my Doula arrived shortly after 9am. Because Gavin’s heartrate was still high (and not ever going back down) they gave me an IV of fluids and wanted to keep me on a monitor. They did put me on a portable monitor which is better than being strapped to a bed since I was able to move, but I still had a box and iv pole attached to me. I was bleeding quite a bit and kept having to change pads, but needed Jeremy’s help in the bathroom. He sweetly helped me, and would change my pads for me while helping with the stuff attached to me. I was about 6cm at this point, and the nurses said I probably bled from dilating fast. I didn’t buy it, and to be honest, I think from the moment I saw those blood clots, I knew in my heart something wasn’t right. I was now having painful back labor, and wasn’t able to use my hypnobabies techniques to relax. Instead my Doula and Jeremy took turns putting pressure on my lower back while I tried different positions to get comfortable. I labored this way for hours – to be honest, I can’t even tell you how many because it’s all a blur. At some point in the late afternoon I remember us trying all kinds of positions to try and get Gavin to turn and get into a better position, but I just continued with painful back labor, and when I finally asked to be checked was at 9cm. I was feeling nauseous, but had no food in my stomach so ever so often I would have dry heaves and attempt to throw up. We all thought I was nearing transition, and I remember them setting up supplies, etc like I was getting ready to have him. But instead, the labor just continued, and I was not feeling an urge to push. Around 7pm I started to break – the contractions were intense and I had been stuck in this painful labor pattern for hours. I asked to be checked and I was 9, not quite 10cm there was still a lip of cervix left.

They could feel a bulging bag of water, and in desperation I agreed to let them rupture it to see if it would speed things up, When ruptured, there was meconium. For a brief while after my water was broken, maybe 20-30 mins, I got relief from the back labor. I felt refreshed, and like I could keep going like this (without that pain!) for a long time. But it didn’t take long for the back labor to return, and with a vengeance.  I started to become desperate, and begged for an epidural. They said my white blood cell count was too high for one anyway, it wasn’t an option. They asked if I wanted morphine. I said yes. I took some pain relief and manged to sleep a bit in between contractions for about an hour. When the morphine wore off, I got back up and we tried some different positions again to try and get things moving. I was still stuck at almost 10cm with a tiny lip of cervix left. My contractions were intense and had been one after another for hours upon hours now at an extremely high intensity. I was still bleeding and leaking amniotic fluid so I had to keep a towel between my legs to keep from slipping on the mess.

I broke. I said I want a c-section, this baby is not coming out. The Dr. said he would like to try to manually move the lip of my cervix while I push during a contraction, because I was so close to having this baby vaginally. I agreed. It was quite painful, and I did my best to push during three different contractions while he moved my cervix lip. But it didn’t work. I was feeling so exhausted that I don’t feel like I pushed very strongly anyway – and we all agreed, it was probably time to have a c-section. One of the wonderful things about this is that the dr. let this be totally my decision – I was not pressured, and they would have allowed me to continue to labor had that been my wish. But I was done, and I knew this was necessary.

I was taken into the cold, sterile room and given a spinal since my white blood cell count was too high for an epidural. It only took a matter of minutes, and they had Jeremy in the room with me. I was so tired, that once I had pain relief in place, I started falling asleep on the table. I remember waking myself back up, not wanting to miss his first cries .. but hardly being able to keep my eyes open. Jeremy entered the room and they got ready to perform the section. The Dr. told me he was not going to be able to use my old scar from Alex, and then next thing I knew, they were pulling Gavin out. It was silent. He didn’t make a sound for what seemed like an eternity. I found out later he was floppy and didn’t breathe on his own, they had to bag him to get him to start breathing. Gavin was shown to me briefly, then taken to the NICU. I told Jeremy to go with him, and I was left in recovery for an hour. I fell asleep, exhausted.

When I woke up I was being rolled back to my postpartum room, where Jeremy and my Doula were waiting for me. I couldn’t believe she was still here (it was close to midnight at this point) and she pretty quickly gave me a hug and left. I wanted to see Gavin, but they told me to wait a few hours and then I could go to the NICU. I didn’t realize at the time he wasn’t breathing and they were in the process of putting him on CPAP and running tests because something was obviously wrong with him.

September 31, 2010

I fell asleep for maybe 2 hours, then woke up and wanted to go see Gavin. I asked for my catheter to be removed, they gave me some pain meds, and I got up and took a shower. The nurses were SHOCKED to see me up and dressed, but I was ready to go see my baby.

The rest of this story has been told, as this is when our nightmare really began …

Some of the things that come to mind when I think about this birth, and the VBA2C I have coming up…

1. I’m still traumatized by the amount of blood clots and blood that happened. I’ve yet to read where that is “normal” .. and hopefully it wont happen again, but I can so clearly remember the fear, the feeling something was wrong .. and my fear it will happen again.

2.  The long, long, long intense back labor. I know Gavin was in a bad position and his head was huge. Rationally I know that’s why I had such long, prolonged back labor .. but I have the fear of it happening again. I literally hit my breaking point during his labor, and I’m scared it will happen again.

3.  Faith in my body has been somewhat rattled. Our bodies are not supposed to grow a baby we can’t birth, right? But mine did. I feel somewhat broken, and my confidence is shaken.

Gavin’s Angel

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I have a story I want to share, but every time I try to write about what happened, it does not sound right. So I have decided I’m just going to tell this story as it unfolded, and hope it comes across as special as it is to us..

About half way through my pregnancy with Gavin, I started to see what I can only explain as a ghost in our house. It was a glowing figure, about the height of an 8-9 year old child. I would see it out of the corner of my eye, going into the nursery we were preparing for Gavin. Sometimes during one of my many late night bathroom trips, I would catch a glimpse of this spirit quickly passing the bathroom in the hallway, again going towards Gavin’s room. I have never been a believer, in fact, I’ve always considered myself a skeptic. So I kept what I was seeing quiet and did not share it with my husband or child.

A few weeks later, as I was passing by my then 7 year old’s bedroom door one night, I heard him having a conversation with someone. I stopped and listened, and could not hear anyone talking back to him, but he seemed to be talking to another child about something. The next day I asked him who he was talking to, and he simply said, “The little girl that has been visiting me when I have trouble falling asleep”. Alex has Aspergers, so he is honest to a fault – and he’s also not the most imaginative child out there. When he says something, you can take it as the absolute truth. I was blown away – was this little girl visiting him the same one I had been seeing in the hallway?  I asked him some questions and he was able to give me complete details about his new visitor – from her whitish glow to some freckles on her face.  He said she was wearing a long white dress and had her hair in braids. I couldn’t believe it … what I had seen was exactly the same. I had never seen her face, she moved too quickly. But I could tell it was a little girl, and she appeared to be wearing a long white nightgown.  Alex said she would ask him what games he liked to play and talk with him until he would fall asleep. He said she only visited on the nights he was having trouble getting to sleep.

That night I told Jeremy about what I had been seeing, and what Alex had told me. I could see the color literally drain from his face. He told me he had been seeing something too – glowing white, from what he could tell a little girl usually walking into Gavin’s room. He said he didn’t know how to bring it up and thought I wouldn’t believe him.

So we all saw this little girl, and she became a pretty regular presence around our house. She would come visit Alex when he was having trouble sleeping, and both Jeremy and I would just catch small glimpses of her late at night. One time I woke up and saw her peeking into our bedroom from the hallway. I only dared to tell one friend about her, she was pretty much our little secret because we thought everyone would think we had lost our minds.  We wondered why she had decided to hang around our house, but accepted her presence.

The rest of my pregnancy came and went, and as you already know our baby boy Gavin was born very ill. His brain had not formed correctly and from the moment he left the protection of my womb, he struggled to survive. Gavin spent his first two weeks of life in our local University Hospital NICU – and while I was up several times a night pumping milk for him, I would still see our little girl ghost.  Gavin came home – very sick. He had frequent seizures and required around the clock care. As I would sit up feeding him late at night, I would see the little girl. Sometimes she would peak around the corner of his bedroom door, but more than anything I could feel her there with us. Gavin had horrible seizures – there is nothing worse than holding your baby, watching him seize and feeling completely helpless. On many occasions I would rock Gavin and cry, telling him it was going to be ok, this seizure was almost over .. while wondering how I was going to survive the pain of watching my newborn baby suffer like this. I felt her there. As my tears fell, I knew I wasn’t alone with Gavin, she was very close to us.

Gavin went back into the hospital to try and get his seizures under control. He was there another two weeks and again, while I was up at night pumping milk, she was with me. I saw her every night.  Gavin came back home, still very fragile – on around the clock medications as well as daily injections. Again, as I was up with him each night, she was there. His seizures never improved, but as we struggled through them, she was with us.

After two weeks at home, Gavin went back into the hospital – this time, he would not return home. I was exhausted and decided to quit pumping – so I didn’t see our little visitor very much because I was at the hospital with Gavin all day, and sleeping at night.  On December 19, 2010 – our sweet baby Gavin fell asleep forever in our arms. It was a Sunday morning, and we were preparing to meet with hospice and take him home the next day, but he was ready to go. Watching him die was the single most painful experience of my life – I can’t imagine anything will ever be that hard, ever again. But it was also very peaceful. He did not struggle – he went to sleep in Jeremy’s arms.  The next few weeks are honestly a complete fog – funeral, Christmas, trying to survive and continue on with life for Alex .. while a huge part of you is dead inside.

Weeks went by before Jeremy and I realized that we no longer saw the little girl anymore. I asked Alex if he had seen her, and he said no. I could feel she was gone, not hiding, but completely gone from our home.

Looking back, I believe that little girl was Gavin’s angel. She appeared in our home right around the same time his brain stopped forming correctly, and she was with us until he was gone. I believe she was here to watch over Gavin, and take him to Heaven. She did her job, and we have not seen or heard anything since.  I wish I could thank that little angel for taking care of  Gavin and for giving me such comfort while I struggled during his life .. but I’m pretty sure she knows how much he was wanted and loved – and I believe she knew exactly why she was here, and how much she helped.

It’s a girl!

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I had a feeling from the very beginning that this baby was a girl … but at other times I wondered if maybe I was just wanting a different gender than Gavin. Well, we had our ultrasound this week and she was not shy… we are really having a little girl. I’m thrilled.

Hello Second Trimester…

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I know, it’s been forever since I’ve updated this blog. I honestly wanted to come back and write about Gavin’s birthday, and just how difficult that was for me. But it seems like such a daunting task to come unleash all of that pain. And to be honest, it’s been easier to just avoid it.  So I’ve been myself permission to come blog about my pregnancy, and when I’m ready, I will write about Gavin’s birthday. Maybe by the time December 19th gets here (the day he gained his wings) I will be more ready to open up and share.

So, I’m in the second trimester already! Wow! I’m 14 weeks. It’s gone by pretty fast honestly. My energy is back to normal, nausea is gone and I started feeling the baby kick this week.

We had our NT scan several weeks ago, and it was negative. I wish I could jump up and down and say we are in the clear now but that’s just not the case. At least I can say we don’t have to worry about Downs and Trisomy, with my “advanced maternal age” and all. Oh, how I hate that term!

At the NT scan, the ultrasound tech gave me a picture that has a pretty clear shot of the typical “hamburger bun” you see with little girls. That was way early, so who knows .. but I’m hoping at my appointment and ultrasound on November 7th, they might be able to peek a tell me what they see.  I will be 15+3 .. so it’s likely. I know with Alex, they told me to be thinking about boy names around 15 weeks .. and sure enough, they were correct. So I can hope!  I’m getting serious little girl vibes. But I don’t know how much of that is me wanting a different gender from Gavin. Something in me thinks it would be so much easier and less stressful for me to have a girl this time.

Otherwise, we are plugging along and doing well. I’m showing way more than I ever have before at this point, and I fully blame that on having two babies back to back. My ab muscles must still be shot – I know my c-section scar is still numb in spots, I have just not had all that much time to heal. So I look pretty pregnant already and really need to buy some maternity clothes. Stuffing myself into my regular stuff is not pretty – and all of my maternity stuff from last year is summer stuff. I am very much looking forward to not being pregnant over a summer, for the first time!!

Emotionally, I think Jeremy and I are doing as well as can be expected. We can’t help but be nervous at times. On the other hand we are both excited and hopeful. We don’t believe God makes mistakes .. and this little one happened when we were not trying, and honestly shouldn’t have been able to stick around without the help of progesterone (which I chose not to take) .. but it has. So we are both optimistic this is our rainbow baby. Some days I feel like  real nut job because I’m so freaked out over germs and not putting anything dangerous into my body. I’m like a walking hand sanitizer factory and you will not catch my anywhere near a deli meat, I’m scrubbing my veggies and fruit like  mad woman, etc. The other day I had a headache so bad I was nearly in tears, and finally broke down and took 1 tylenol.  I hate being this way – but after Gavin, we understand the risk of contracting something is very, very real.

Speaking of contracting a virus that could have injured Gavin .. we are currently waiting for Dr. Dobyns in Seattle to review Gavin’s MRI. Dr. Dobyns is THE guy to go to about lissencephaly .. he’s both a neurologist and a geneticist. Most of the research written about liss is by him. I contacted him several months ago to see if he would review Gavin’s MRI and medical records and give his opinion. To my delight, he responded right away and said yes. He’s even speeding up the process since I’m pregnant. He’s got all of the medical records, and his assistant told me last week he is in the process of reviewing everything!! I’m nervous as can be and so anxious too! He should be able to tell us if he thinks Gavin had a syndrome, or infection. I’m on pins and needles and hope we hear something soon. We are so blessed to have this opportunity – many people wait YEARS for him to review their MRI, and he is doing ours within a matter of weeks.

I’ve got to run cook some breakfast for my boys. Then we are off to the pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins today. Can’t wait to spend this beautiful fall day with my two favorite guys. 🙂

 

9 weeks – and when to tell?

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I’m now 9 weeks pregnant, or in my 10th week (it’s so funny how different sites calculate it different ways). I’ve known about this pregnancy for just over 5 weeks now, it’s actually gone by very fast.

I’m sick as hell most days, and actually throw up all or part of a meal about once a day. I’m already showing – and although it just looks like I’ve put on weight, it’s really that everything in my abdomen has just decided it remembers how to look pregnant and is going to just go right back to that state. I swear, it’s not bloat and it’s not baby – everything has just like moved upwards and it’s not a pretty sight.
We’ve seen the heartbeat, so far everything is going well and to be honest, at the point where we will be able to find out that it’s NOT going well, I’m going to be already showing.

So when do we start telling people?

We’ve already told family and friends, the people that are there for us, that we knew would support us through another miscarriage, etc. But I suppose it’s getting to be about time to tell the rest of the world, extended family, friends we don’t see often, etc. I’m thinking I will send out some texts and maybe post on Facebook after our next appt – October 6th. We will have another ultrasound then, and instead of a blob I should be able to share a picture that looks something like a baby.

I guess what I dread most are the questions once we tell people. Because of Gavin, instead of being happy for us, so many people are instantly curious. All of a sudden those private things we don’t ask people, are just fine to ask us.

“Did you plan this pregnancy?”  “How will they monitor the baby?”  “What will you do if it’s brain does not develop correctly?” … and on and on.  No offense, but it’s not like we didn’t think about these things, and to be honest, I may not really feel like sharing with you my plans. This is an emotional journey, and we need support, day to day our feelings and plans change. We don’t exactly know .. this is a walk of faith.

The majority of my friends and family have been simply wonderful. Crying tears of joy, praying with us and for this baby, and rejoicing in this new life.

Gavin’s 1st birthday is next Friday. I’m already feeling so emotional about it, happy and sad, and more than anything, missing him so much my heart aches. I know he’s watching over us, over his little brother or sister and that gives me comfort. But what I wouldn’t do to hold him one more time, hug him close and just BE with him. That is the hardest part, by far.

So 9 weeks pregnant … going to announce this baby to the world in about 2 weeks. Next Dr. appt is October 6th, and specialist appt at UAB October 17th.

Yes, there IS a baby in there.

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Yesterday I had the joy of having an early dating ultrasound, and my first OB appointment of this pregnancy.

It’s almost surreal going back to Shelby Baptist – just about one year ago I gave birth to Gavin there, and our lives changed forever.  Every time I drive into that parking lot, I get little flashbacks. Pulling into the “in labor” parking spot, all of those hours of back labor while I moaned (ok, let me be honest, screamed) and Jeremy and Kaleigh took turns putting pressure on my lower back. Eventually a c-section (just what I was trying to avoid) and the birth of Gavin. Life changing event that was just shy of one year ago.

At 8:20 yesterday, Jeremy and I drove into that very same parking lot, and I saw it on his face too. It hurts still, there is no way around it. Once inside the doctor’s office, we went straight to the ultrasound room. Unfortunately, this tech was not aware of our situation, remembered us from as year and asked how old our baby was now.  Luckily, I’m an old pro at answering that question, and it does not even bring up much emotion in me. I told her he would be almost a year old, but is an angel and only lived 10 weeks. Always a great way to start off a convo, since whoever asked that question automatically starts apologizing. It really is ok, we are used to that question, I promise.

So the ultrasound tech hands me the wand and says “insert it like a tampon” … uh, yea right. Last time I checked tampons are not large plastic wands, this thing looks more like… well, use your imagination. Right away she measures the gestational sac and shows me the yolk sac. Then she finds the baby, who is literally nestled down in the bottom. The tech was joking and saying the baby had made a cozy little bed down there. We saw the heartbeat, 123 beats per minute. Baby measured 6 weeks 5 days.

I knew there would be a baby in there. I’m too sick, bitchy and exhausted for this to be anything else but a viable pregnancy. My fear is not IF there is a baby in there, but how this baby is going to develop.

So then we see Dr. Head, who I simply love to death. Of course we get a bit of special treatment because of Gavin … he is going to hold our hands through this, and I can not thank him enough for that. He is going to give me an ultrasound each time I have an appointment – yes, to check brain development, but also to put my mind at ease.

We are also going to see a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at UAB. My first appt with them is October 17, and I will know more. I did talk with the department yesterday, and they already knew me. A genetic counselor got on the phone when she heard it was me .. turns out she had met me in the hospital with Gavin, and knew our history, etc.  She confirmed that there is nothing they can genetically test this baby for .. but also let a little info “slip” – she was reading the geneticist’s notes and said he thought it was open and shut infection .. but had to counsel us about other risks.  We knew it looked like infection, but didn’t realize genetics felt so strongly in that direction. For some reason, that gives me comfort.

My next appointment is October 6th, ultrasound then Dr. visit. I’m due April 28, 2012.  There IS a baby in there, and this process is out of our hands. We must have faith, and I do.