7 Quick Takes Friday - May 31, 2013

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Collin and I celebrated our tenth anniversary as full-fledged Catholics on May 29. In honor of the day, I wrote a blog post for Catholic Stand regarding some of my favorite things about Catholicism.

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No Quick Takes last week because I was at a hotel with my husband and NO KIDS! We had two days and two nights to ourselves. It was glorious. Oh, we were staying at the hotel so we could attend Phoenix Comic-Con. The best part? I MET GARRET WANG.

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Who is Garret Wang? Why, only one of the stars of my all-time favorite TV show, Star Trek: Voyager.

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Collin even got a video of me asking him a question at his panel discussion (which, by the way, was AWESOME. He is SUCH a funny, personable guy). It was quite a moment for me.

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I also met Peter David, one of my favorite Star Trek authors. The book he signed is the first hardcover Star Trek book I've ever owned, and I've had it since I was fourteen or so.

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On Sunday, we picked up the kids from their respective babysitters (my BIL & SIL took the older three, and the ever-awesome Kara took Gabe) and then we all went out for brunch. Gabriel had chocolate chip pancakes and I think he enjoyed them:

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In Tiebreaker news, I've set up an appointment for August 8 with a pediatric orthopedic specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital. He's listed on the Ponseti International website as a preferred provider for the Ponseti method (and he's in our insurance network, which is extremely good news), so I'm looking forward to meeting with him and discussing Tiebreaker's eventual treatment plan.

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I'm also going to have a Level II ultrasound at a local perinatalogist's practice on June 5, per the request of my OB. He wants to make extra sure that Tiebreaker's club feet are idiopathic and not due to a larger syndrome like spina bifida or arthrogryposis. I'm fairly confident everything else is okay -- the odds are in our favor, and the u/s tech at my original ultrasound seemed to look at the baby's other limbs and organs pretty carefully, so this is just a precaution. (I'm still freaking out a tiny bit, though, because conditions like arthrogryposis can't be detected prenatally. Still, we'll face whatever comes when it comes.)

Now that I'm having this additional ultrasound, I'm struggling with the temptation to find out the baby's sex. Collin really, really doesn't want to know. There's no way I could find out and not tell him -- I'd do or say something that gave it away eventually. I do love the delivery day surprise, so I'm leaning toward not finding out, but still... it's tempting.

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Meg is running a T-shirt fundraiser to earn money for orphans in China; check it out!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Six Words I Never Thought I'd Hear

"Something is wrong with your baby."

My 20-week anatomy ultrasound on Friday went, I thought, perfectly fine. We had William and Elanor there, and the tech showed us the baby's heart, brain, and spine, and pronounced all of them perfect. The kids were fascinated with the images on the screen. William asked if the baby was a boy or a girl, and we told him we didn't want to know because we liked the surprise.

In hindsight, when the tech measured the baby's femur he didn't say much and changed the subject (I think he asked me if I was hoping for a boy or a girl), but at the time I didn't notice.

He stated Baby was measuring right on target, printed out some pictures for us, and mentioned he'd need a few minutes to prepare the report before giving it to my OB. All fine, all routine. 

When we were called back into my OB's office, it did seem to take a little longer than usual for him to come in, but I dismissed that as well. A busy day for him, I thought. Maybe he'd had to deliver a baby or two that morning and was behind schedule as a result.

When Dr. N. did come in, it wasn't with the big smile I was accustomed to seeing from him. He glanced at the kids, who were waiting in the corner of the room with Collin, and hesitated for just an instant. Then he sat down and looked right at me.

"We need to talk about the ultrasound," he said.

I didn't understand why he looked so serious. Surely everything was fine. Wasn't he here to tell me that everything looked great, as he had twice before, during my pregnancies with Violet and Gabriel?

He looked me in the eye, making sure he had my attention. "The baby has club feet."

My first reaction was denial. No. Not my baby. Everything had looked fine. The tech hadn't indicated anything was amiss. He was wrong. He had to be wrong. 

"What?" I stammered.

As Dr. N explained that the results of the ultrasound showed bilateral club feet, my first thought was of Monica and her baby Roslyn. And now Dr. N was telling me that the same thing had happened to my baby. I was having trouble wrapping my mind around it. I'd had four physically healthy kids and had expected that #5 would be equally healthy. But s/he wasn't.

A larger version of the picture that shows one of Tiebreaker's clubbed feet

We talked about what the treatment would involve, and my mind was in a whirl. Casts. Braces. Possible surgery if the baby was in the 5% for whom casting and braces didn't work. Dr. N inquired if we'd found out the baby's gender, and we said no. He said, "I was just curious, as boys are twice as likely to have club foot than girls."

We spent the last few minutes of the appointment talking about my health -- my recent bout with bronchitis in particular -- but I was having trouble focusing on me.

I spent the rest of the evening alternately crying, asking for prayers via social media, and researching the baby's condition. Although I told him he didn't have to, Collin managed to get the next day (Saturday) off work so I wouldn't be alone. That evening, he booked us a hotel suite in North Phoenix (thanks to an accumulation of reward points from Hotels.com, we had a free night coming to us) and we spent the weekend swimming with the kids and talking about the baby's diagnosis. It was exactly what we needed to clear our minds and de-stress.

It's been several days since Tiebreaker's diagnosis, and I'm coming to terms with the news. First and foremost, it could be a lot worse and I'm so glad it's not. My friend Stephanie only had a few precious hours with her son Peter. I was heartbroken for Michelle when her baby Gregory passed away at 19 weeks gestation. I've prayed fervently for Sarah and her son Henry, who has spina bifida. In comparison, I have an incredibly easy lot.

Now that a few days have passed, I've been able to tally up more positives. Tiebreaker's condition likely won't require surgery. It's 100% treatable and 100% curable. The casting process may be uncomfortable for him/her, but it won't be painful. S/he won't require any medication. It's very unlikely that s/he'll have any developmental delays as a result. S/he could even turn out to be another Troy Aikman, Mia Hamm, or Kristi Yamaguchi.

Club feet? What club feet?!

I have the best maternity leave situation of my entire employment career, thanks to my generous employer's short-term disability insurance. I have 12 weeks off, 100% paid. Because I won't lose my income, we plan to keep Gabriel and Violet in daycare, which will allow me to take Tiebreaker to doctor's appointments without any additional kids tagging along. The baby should be entirely out of casts and into the brace by the time I return to work.

I've ordered The Parents' Guide to Clubfoot, and I've already set up a consultation appointment at Phoenix Children's Hospital for August 8. We'll be seeing the specialist recommended for our area on the Ponseti International website

As far as I can tell, there isn't a patron saint for people with club feet, but if I had to nominate one I'd choose Saint Alphonsa, India's first female saint. (One of the miracles that led to her canonization was the healing of a child with club foot in 1999!)

I have really felt the support of all those praying for us these last few days. Monica has been a tremendous help and doesn't seem to mind my pestering her with e-mails multiple times per day. My fear has ebbed and my confidence has grown, and I know that's due to the support of all of my friends and prayer warriors.

Tiebreaker's little kicks and jabs are getting stronger by the day. There's one thing I know for sure -- our baby is a fighter, and s/he's not going to let a little thing like a birth defect keep him/her down.

Saint Alphonsa, pray for us!

7 Quick Takes Friday - May 17, 2013

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Today... was not what I expected.

I'm 19w3d pregnant today, and had my anatomy ultrasound scheduled. After that, I planned to spend the rest of the weekend recovering from a nasty bout with bronchitis last week while celebrating yet another healthy Wahlund baby. However, we received the news that our little Tiebreaker is not 100% healthy. 

The baby was diagnosed with bilateral club feet.

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The good news is that this condition is very treatable. 95% of babies born with club feet do not need surgery. From what I've been reading, and from what my OB said, the treatment will involve casting for the first several months, and afterwards a brace. If the casting and braces work as expected, s/he will be 100% cured in a few years. This is very, very good news.

It's also good news that I should still be able to have a vaginal birth. Baby shouldn't need to spend any extra time in the hospital, either, if there are no other complications.

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But I'm still feeling scared, and sad, and shocked, and overwhelmed. I'm probably going to write a more detailed blog post this weekend about my thoughts/feelings/experiences so far, just to get my feelings written out.

I'd appreciate prayers for our strength and for the baby's health, specifically that s/he won't have any additional complications and won't need surgery.

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Collin has been an absolute rock - he managed to take tomorrow off of work, even though I told him he didn't need to, just so he could be there for me this weekend as we process this news. I am so grateful for his love and support.

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We didn't find out the baby's sex, although I'm kind of regretting that now. If the u/s tech had hinted that there was a problem, I would have asked to know. I'd prefer to choose the baby's name right away so we can ask for prayers for him/her specifically and by name, but I don't anticipate having another ultrasound this pregnancy (unless the specialist we see about the club feet orders one?), so I guess we'll just have to wait and keep calling him/her Tiebreaker. :)

Collin thinks Tiebreaker is a boy since my OB said that club feet is more common in males than females. But I still think the baby is a girl, so I guess we'll have to see.

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Here are a few of the pictures we received:

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His/her sweet little face in 3D (s/he was moving around a LOT, so it was difficult to get a clear picture!).

A picture that clearly shows one of his/her club feet. I didn't realize we had this pic until we got home, but looking at it now I can clearly see the problem. I didn't notice a thing during the ultrasound itself.

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Congratulations to Kara, who is my pregnancy buddy -- her baby BOY is due the same week as Tiebreaker! She's getting two sons this year! (And I won an awesome baby blanket for Tiebreaker in her recent FB auction for "Colton.")

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Friday - May 3, 2013

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MY ULTRASOUND PICTURES HAVE BEEN FOUND!! Apparently a lady found them in the parking lot of the grocery store and took them home. She Googled my name (it was on the pictures), which led her to my blog, which led her to my e-mail, and she got in touch and told me she had them. They're in the mail back to me! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! Thank you for your prayers, St. Anthony!!

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Camping last weekend was fun, except for the fact that we arrived at the campsite at 8:30pm, started setting up the tent, and discovered that the poles were missing. (Apparently we couldn't fit them in the bag with the rest of the tent back in November, the last time we used it, and forgot that they weren't in the bag this time around.)

In an amazing coincidence (or "God-incidence"), my SIL had packed an extra set of poles from a tent they had thrown away due to a defective zipper. Collin and his brother drove into Podunk, AZ and managed to acquire some duct tape (which we will ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring with us in the future), and my FIL managed to rig up the tent using the extra poles and some duct tape. It took until 12:30am, but the darn thing got put up and stayed up the rest of the trip.

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We thought about going camping this July, when my dad comes for his annual weeklong visit, but my dad said he'd rather do something or see something he never had before. So, we discussed our options and decided on... Mexico!

We plan on going to Puerto PeƱasco ("Rocky Point") to be precise. It's a fairly short drive from Phoenix and one of the safer places to go. We're still pricing our options, but I think we're going to rent a two-bedroom condo at one of the resorts for a couple nights and spend the a day or two just lounging around at the beach.

I've never been to Mexico, and neither has my dad, so we're both really excited to see it. Collin has been to Nogales before, but never to Rocky Point, so it'll be a new experience for him too.

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Proof that my husband loves me

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It's a special day today, and since most of my readership are NFPers, I think I'll share why. Nine years ago today, I became a mother. ;) Gotta love NFP, which helps you know these things!

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No sleeping in late for me tomorrow - I need to be on the computer at the stroke of eight to sign the kids up for swimming lessons this summer. Hopefully I can type fast enough to get my first choice of time slots.

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Kara's having one last Facebook auction for Colton, starting Sunday! Check it out!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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