5 Little Fingers & 10 Little Toes

Hi All!

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It has been quite some time since my last blog post, but here it goes!

I learned that we were expecting our second child when I was just 4 weeks pregnant. The symptoms began immediately and I just KNEW what was happening, and after an at home test and a Dr. visit we received our confirmation. Baby #2 was on their way! Our little Ali would be a big sister!!

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Of course, it became a bittersweet moment. While there was joy and excitement, there was also fear and uncertainty. Due to our previous losses there was still much anxiety about me carrying another child, just as there had been the entire time I carried Alixandria. So we decided to hold off on letting EVERYONE know until I had been further along, and tried to remain as positive as possible. We didn’t necessarily have an exact time of when this would be, but we took it all a day at a time, telling those closest to us first.

The days and weeks rolled on and pregnancy seemed to begin to fly by. At 12-13 weeks I was given a blood test for different genetic defects, and was also advised they would determine the sex at that time. I anxiously awaited the phone call with all of the results, and then it came after 7 long days (what seemed like FOREVER). Results were negative for any of those particular defects, and we learned……….

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I picked up my daughter from the babysitter that day and told her she was going to have a baby brother! Now, just a day or so prior to this she looked at me as we were getting dressed and said “Mommy I want a sister, so you better not have a boy! Ok?”…… I didn’t exactly know how to explain to her that mommy was not in charge of that decision necessarily, so her initial reaction was not excitement. She looked at me with such shock and disappointment, stormed out of the babysitter’s home, and didn’t speak to me the rest of the car ride. LOL I’d hoped that resentment didn’t continue on, and of course it did not.

As the days went on and I began to plan and get things for the little one, and my belly began to grow, Ali’s excitement grew right along with him. She said (and still says) constantly how she wants to help with him, how much she loves him, and even tries talking to him through my belly button.

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Time kept flying by and here it was, our 20 week scan. Half way there! Again, both fear and anxiety as well as excitement and joy were felt as we waited. The sonographer began to do the ultrasound. Brain looked great, spine looked great, organs and their blood flow looked great, confirmed sex of the baby, and heart looked great. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. There had been a slight fear that he may have a heart defect such as Ali did, although hers closed around 3 years old. We had been told during an ultrasound with her that she had what is called VSD, it was not necessarily a “big concern”, but they would monitor and have us meet with a heart specialist when she was born. So there was a fear of another case of VSD or even some other heart defect in him as well.

VSD “A ventricular septal defect is a defect in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart. The extent of the opening may vary from pin size to complete absence of the ventricular septum, creating one common ventricle” – Wikipedia

I thought everything was done. Now we were on to the fun part, seeing his little face and all his little fingers and toes. Then the sonographer asked if there were any known defects in the families. I didn’t understand. I quickly stated “No”, and the anxiety began to prevail over all other emotions. “Why did she just ask me that?… I thought everything was fine.” She finished the ultrasound and advised the Dr. would be in shortly to see me. The Dr. came in the room, went over what I thought was all of the information and then it happened. She looked at me and said “We were unable to see the lower half of your son’s left arm on the ultrasound.. we are not exactly sure what this means at this time….. blah blah blah (my heart sank and the room began to spin and I cannot remember much else other than)…. I think that you should get an Amniocentesis done NOW.”

“Amniocentesis (also referred to as amniotic fluid test or AFT) is a medical procedure used in prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and fetal infections, and also used for sex determination in which a small amount of amniotic fluid, which contains fetal tissues, is sampled from the amniotic sac surrounding a developing fetus, and the fetal DNA is examined for genetic abnormalities” – Wikipedia

I got the procedure done as the Dr. ordered and left the office in a zombie-like state. Both in pain mentally and physically. I couldn’t do anything but cry upon arriving home. The thoughts began to race. “How is he going to hold his bottle? How is he going to play with Ali? How is he going to tie his shoes or play any sports? How is he going to live ‘normally’? How did this happen? What did I do wrong?” After allowing myself to rest as instructed and grieve for some time, I decided to look up any information that I could. I remembered hearing “This could be a case of ABS”. I Googled ABS, I reached out to people on a Mommy group on Facebook that I am in to see if anyone had experienced this. I hoped that it was all just a misunderstanding and maybe he was just hiding his arm, and just tried to gather any information I could until the Dr. had some answers for me.

“Amniotic Band Syndrome occurs when the unborn baby (fetus) becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development. Amniotic Band Syndrome can cause a number of different birth defects depending on which body part(s) is affected. If a band wraps tightly around a limb, the limb can actually be completely amputated. The baby may be born missing fingers, toes, part of an arm or leg. If the band is across the baby’s face it can cause cleft lip and palate. In a large number of cases the baby is also born with clubfeet. ABS is also the cause of numerous miscarriages, such as when a band becomes wrapped around the umbilical cord.

ABS occurs randomly. It’s not genetic, nor is it caused by anything a pregnant Mom did or didn’t do during pregnancy. To date, no prenatal factors have been associated with ABS. It is extremely unlikely that ABS will affect a future pregnancy.” –Amnioticbandsyndrome.com

 

I was able to receive some information from some wonderful people as well as become a part of some tremendous groups, one of which is The Lucky Fin Project http://luckyfinproject.org/

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I shared my story and was given some advise from those who had experienced similar things, as well as received many private messages from those wanting to send videos and pictures of themselves or their children along with words of encouragement for me. I realized that all of these messages had the same hidden message for me,“This is not the end, only a beautiful beginning.” My spirits began to lift and I felt a strong sense of hope, especially after speaking with my daughter. I tried to explain to her what was going on with her little brother since she had been in the room at the time of the appointment as well. Her response to me is what gave me that final push in understanding this was not about me and my feelings as I had made it into. She looked at me so innocently and said “But Mommy he can just use his other hand right?…… I still want to feed him, and hug him, kiss him, and take him to Wal Mart with us”. In that moment I sat back and really analyzed everything. Here I was trying to explain to my almost 4 year old that her brother may be a little “different”. I was trying to prepare her for something that she didn’t see as an issue in the first place, and I too needed to see the positivity in all of this.

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This was the outlook that I wanted to hold onto. That awareness, understanding, and unconditional love that no matter what they are PERFECT and they are LOVED. We all are. I want to continue to encourage this within them as they grow, as well as bring some awareness to those around us since this is not something many people know about. Now in doing this research and reaching out to those around me, I was also given some information today from Molly at The Lucky Fin Project about Symbrachydactyly. She read my story and believed that this was the case in regards to my son. Another door opened, more research for me until we get some true answers upon his arrival, and more for me to share with those around me in hopes of bringing awareness!! YAY! She advised that Symbrachydactyly is commonly misdiagnosed as ABS since they appear to be quite similar. This is usually the case when no bands are found and only one limb is affected, which appears to be what is going on with Xavier.Symbrachydactyly occurs predominantly in males, approximately 73%. The condition is usual unilateral with the left side alone involved in 667% of cases, the right side in 27%, and 1% to 7% bilateral.” (jhandsurg.org)

“Symbrachydactyly (sim-brak”e-dak’ti-le) is a congenital (present at birth) hand disorder characterized by abnormally short fingers that are sometimes webbed or conjoined. Symbrachydactyly occurs during normal embryonic development. When a baby’s hand begins to in utero, they are shaped like mittens or paddles. Then the fingers divide. In babies with Symbrachydactyly, the fingers (and in more severe cases the hand and arm) don’t fully form during this time. This may happen because the area doesn’t get enough blood flow or because of some other problem with the tissue. Symbrachydactyly is often misdiagnosed as ABS.” – http://luckyfinproject.org/

It is WONDERFUL to have some possible answers about Xavier’s Limb Difference, gain some knowledge and awareness about Limb Differences and some of their causes as I had none before, (and I am sure many around me did not either), as well as the opportunity to meet some TREMENDOUS people along the way. Although most I may never see in person;  just watching the videos, and reading their stories has shown me we are connected in many ways than one, and that my family is not alone as I originally believed to be true. That in itself has been a beautiful reward.

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People say that “Things happen for a reason”, and quite honestly they truly do. I had to remind myself that the key to your outcome is your own attitude and outlook. Although I had so many emotions and questions spiraling around me, I had to make a decision. Either go through the rest of my pregnancy and / or longer with an attitude that life is happening to me and miss out on SO many moments, OR see the purpose in this. My purpose in this. This a reminder that things could ALWAYS be worse. I needed that reminder since more than half of my life thus far has been spent worrying and obsessing over things that I cannot change, things I have NO CONTROL over thanks to my anxiety. No matter what I cannot change this situation or wish it away, normally this would drive me into a spiraling pit of insanity, BUT honestly I would not want to change any of this (anymore). I can admit that I do have moments of fear and some grief, and I understand that it may continue periodically, but then I feel those kicks and it pulls me back to where I need to be.

Whether this a case of ABS, OR Symbrachydactyly little Xavier is loved, all 5 fingers and 10 little toes, and he will be an AMAZING, mischievous little boy just like any other. He will do all that we do and more and he has taught me SO much already without even knowing it. I can only imagine what else is in store. And most importantly, Ali is SO ready to be a big sister ! !

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Sometimes We Need A Reminder

When you begin a new relationship everything feels so light and free. There is not a care in the world and all you feel is love. Pure, exciting, fiery love. As time goes on we all know that you gain more insight into who your partner is and that includes some of the things we may feel we could have gone forever without knowing; preferably.

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Unfortunately it seems as though after some time the spark seems to die down, or become muddled by negativity. We start to dwell on what our partner is doing wrong (in our eyes & by our standards), what we despise about them, and what we wish we could change. Especially when something hurtful has been done. We fixate on that, and we do not let them live it down. At least not in our minds. That will be forever in our data. The old Forgive, but won’t Forget. While I agree some things are just too painful to “let go of”, that also means the relationship should then not continue.  Now I know, I am stating what everyone knows already, and no I am not some relationship Guru. But hear me out.

 

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What if we were to stop and look at ourselves in the mirror? While it is easy to sit back and point the finger all day at our spouse or significant other, it is not always so easy to take some accountability and ownership in things that we too have done. Thus creating resentments and much unnecessary mental and emotional chaos. If you have gone through some bumps in the road, and choose to stay by your partners side, and continue creating a life together then you must LET GO. You must acknowledge that it has happened, acknowedge the pain that may have been caused, AND TRULY MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT LOOKING BACK. It may have happened before, but that does not mean the same OLD patterns must continue. There is always room for change, and creating the life you want.

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Now, I believe this has been somewhat of a grey area for me lately. I find myself fixating on so much negativity and allowing my anxiety to take over me more often than not and I felt I needed a little reminder. As I have learned in counseling thus far, it is better to get your feelings out on paper even if you later shred it (rather than blurting the first thing that comes to mind). Because as we all know those are some of the most hurtful things that are said, in the moments of unconsciousness. When wrapped in your head and your thoughts you are only thinking about “ME”, and thus creates the later feelings of regret from spewing negativity that you truly otheraise would not. So rather than saying what you do not want to, write it out first and have a conscious conversation. Not always easy.

So, while writing some of those angry, anxious thoughts down, it is good to try some positive writing as well. Why not write down some of the reasons that I love my significant other? Why not remind myself why we are here today, together? Instead of dwelling on the negative so much,because one thing triggers two then three, and soon you are in a cloud of hate (basically).  Like I said, it is easy to fixate on all of the things that your partner has done wrong or what you would like them to change, without looking at yourself in the mirror. And it is also easy  for you to lose sight of all the reasons you and your partner are together today. I feel it’s important to never lose that spark, the fiery love from the beginning stages of the relationship.

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Yes, we need to see life for what it is, and if and when there are hurtful / negative things being done, we do not have to look past that if we choose not to. We do not need to feel obligated to any one or any thing. Some things come with too much pain, and cannot be repaired; but again when we choose to accept things that have happened, acknowledge our own part in things (without taking on blame or putting out blame is very important), and choose to move forward then we should try to focus on the positive aspects of our life together. You are only hurting yourself when you hold onto those resentments, whether with the person or not in the end, it is only weighing heavy on your soul and you are allowing another to take control of your happiness each and every day, most of the time without their knowledge. Only fueling the resentment that much more.

So mean it when you say I love you, I’m Sorry, I understand, I forgive you, I accept ________,  take ownership for yourself and your actions, don’t judge, and most importantly don’t lose sight of why you love one another. Often times mountains are made of mole hills and it is easy to dwell on the negative and forget all the wonderful things that brought you together in the first place.

Run from it, or Learn from it

Question of the day:

What does addiction mean to you? 

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Well, I believe addiction is an outlet of avoidance. A way that people’s minds have manipulated them into believing that this drug, this bottle, this person, this shopping spree, this game, this food, this body modification, etc will “make you feel better” in some way. A detrimental form of coping that only worsens the resentments, the grief, the guilt, the anger, THE JUDGEMENT

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Whether learned from watching someone close to us deal with an addiction, or beginning the cycle ourselves, it’s a form of denial, escape, and a cry for guidance back to self awareness and self love

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I feel, addiction is the mind trying to overpower the soul; only then does it truly have complete control over you and your life.

The mind fails to tell you that the mask is only TEMPORARY, and once that obsessive thought that turned to compulsive behavior is over, once that “rush” is gone, the true emotions will come back once consciousness is regained. Thus creating the cycle of addiction. The mind has now mislead you into believing that continuing the addiction, and gradually getting to a point of never regaining consciousness, is how you will now avoid whatever it is that brought you here in the first place.

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The addiction will tell you, that is what will make you happy, but it will never be enough.  It will never be as satisfying and fulfilling as just allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and to feel, communicate, love, and let go of judgment. Live through your soul, allow yourself to feel all emotions, and most importantly don’t judge yourself or allow another to dictate your self love. And the only addiction you will have is to happiness.  It’s not an easy journey, but believe me it’s worth it. ✌ ❤ 

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Step 1: Admit…… Do I have to?

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Isn’t it funny how you always want something that you cannot / should not have? It’s like the inner child in you wants to come out and scream “You can’t tell me what to do!” or “Just once won’t hurt, right?”, making what seems to be a perfectly legitimate excuse for your actions.  Well these are some of the thoughts that arise in my mind often since I decided to quit drinking alcohol. This liquid drug that can be used to TEMPORARILY cope with depression, sadness, anger, resentment, and any negativity that you wish to avoid, haunts me in moments like I never thought it would. I never believed that I had a problem, and it wasn’t until my husband and I began a recovery process after much damage had been done, that I realized I too have a problem. I may not have continually drown myself in alcohol to suppress the negative feelings and gotten to the point of losing full consciousness, but I used that to somewhat treat the problems. As well as began to incorporate it into many events in our life just as most people do. Especially after enduring a traumatic miscarriage.
One night my husband and I were laying together in our first apartment, happy as can be that we were expecting a new life. The beginning weeks had been rough on me; a lot of fatigue, morning sickness, random cramping, etc. That day at work I had experienced slight bleeding. Co workers and friends attempted to assure us that it was “alright” and “normal” for pregnant women to bleed at times, giving us examples of their own experiences. My husband was not impressed with the advise that we were receiving and felt very uneasy, so he decided to call the Dr’s office. He spoke with the nurse, and surely she advised us that I needed to go home and rest IMMEDIATELY. I frequented the bathroom, hoping the discomfort and bleeding would discontinue and it only fluctuated slightly, then worsened. I quietly prayed, talking to my unborn baby and telling them and even myself  that it would be ok. My husband knew when the pain became almost unbearable that we needed to leave NOW to go to the hospital, but I didn’t want to believe what was happening. I told him as well as myself again that it was ok, it would calm down soon. Finally it was time to go. I screamed in agony as my husband tried to keep me calm, and comfortable while rushing us to the hospital. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. My body was gradually working itself up to begin contractions as if I were giving birth, and expel the sack and fetus inside of me. We arrived at the hospital and I still had the hope that everything might end up “ok”. I could hardly walk through the parking lot, the pain only worsened with each step. I sat down and the Admin asked us what we were there for, my heart sank hearing my husband say ” We believe she is having a miscarriage”. I was frustrated, angry, sad, in pain, confused, and I tried to rush through the paperwork. Finally I told my husband and the Admin I couldn’t take it anymore and I needed to go to the bathroom. I felt an overwhelming pressure in my abdomen, and it felt like I was going to explode. I tried to hold on. I tried not to push, but  as I neared the bathroom door, I felt a large plop. My baby was gone. I made my way to a stall, praying to God this was not happening right now. I screamed for my husband, as I stared down at the sack with our lifeless little child in it. He rushed into the bathroom and asked if I was ok. I said nothing, I wept and placed the sack onto a paper towel and showed him under the stall door. I could hear his heart break into pieces with the gasp. I heard him begin to weep. I asked him what to do with him/her (?) We disposed of them, and that was the most heartbreaking of all. We felt as though we walked away from our child when we were their protector. Because those feelings were never dealt with properly we perpetuated it into the world in other ways; only causing much resentment and anger.
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We blamed ourselves, especially me, I blamed myself so much for that. I felt I could have done “better” as it was my body that was supposed to be protecting and nurturing them until they came into the world.  I went in, got an exam to make sure everything was expelled from my body and that was it. There we were, ready for a little life that was growing inside of me. Really they had stopped growing a week or so before that. We had been told that it was common and you almost never know why or how it happens but it does.  Some of our friends had too endured the loss of a child, but even with all the support it was easier said than done to “get over”.
My husband and I spiraled out of control and felt as though no one understood. Yes, many friends came to us and expressed their condolences as well as shared with us that they too had been through a similar situation. Although many could relate, there was still an emptiness that no one could seem to fill, not even each other. We drifted apart in ways, acted out and did many immature and hurtful things. Because we weren’t allowing our souls to feel the necessary feelings of grief, and distracted the thoughts by drinking any chance we got it only worsened, became habit, another pattern.  We just wanted to forget, rather than embrace and understand. After having a successful pregnancy which resulted in our now 2 year old daughter, everything seemed to come back together.  Yes, the entire pregnancy was surrounded by fear and anxiety. We didn’t want to lose another child,  but after having her we seemed to be moving forward. So we thought. We believed we had hidden those feelings of grief so well, when really everything had just begun to add onto the avoided pile of rubble (The elephant in the room). We had also endured the loss of my grandmother while I was pregnant with our now 2 year old, Alixandria, and I felt I needed to “keep it together” since stress could hurt the baby. Actually, holding in your emotions and tears causes much more stress than just feeling.
Our entire being was surrounded by this untouched loss that we wanted to push to the back of our minds and never think about; although we missed them so much and didn’t want them to think we forgot about or replaced them. So I too suppressed the feelings of grief associated with the loss of my grandmother.
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And instead we drank. We drank almost every night prior to getting pregnant with Ali, then most days after I gave birth to Ali, up until last December. We didn’t see it as a problem, an addiction even, because we believed we weren’t abusing it and we could stop if we truly wanted to. At dinners, when we would BBQ, at Holiday functions and birthday parties, every weekend, every night after work, alone or together, and most times that we had company even if they opted out of having a drink we had a drink or two or a shot or two. The biggest sign for me was when we decided we were strong enough to step out to familiar places again, and started to get back into things we enjoyed doing, even now I notice the old patterns. That association was right there as if it were second nature. Although I am not in counseling for substance or alcohol abuse, but rather codependency and other support, I feel it was important for me to recognize that I DID in fact have a problem as well.  I found myself entering places that we had gone to before, even the grocery store, and my mind would go to the previous habits. Figuring out what the drink of the night was going to be. Although I leaned more towards the social aspect of drinking it still had negative side effects, and started to become a crutch that was used often times in an attempt to cover up necessary feelings whether I wanted to admit that or not. I made the excuses, justified each drink in my mind even if it was “for fun”. Anyone who does not struggle with some sort of addiction or problem can easily stop or not drink in moments that are not appropriate for it. They won’t exclude themselves from an event because alcohol is not available, they will not go through withdrawal, they will not associate it with everything they do, and they will not get angry or frustrated when they cannot have alcohol. So many people do not think that they have a problem and truly they do. We only associate addiction when used in the stricter sense of the word most times.
Yes, this simple phrase is often used as something humorous or taken lightly, but the first step truly is admitting. It took me until just a few months ago, when I finally opened myself up completely and worked through my fear of being vulnerable, to understand and to admit and not judge just see for what it is. It may have started out as something that everyone does, something “fun”, but in dealing with my emotions I used alcohol as an outlet for avoidance even when I didn’t realize I was. I know that not everyone abuses alcohol or has a problem just because they drink, nor would I convince anyone to stop drinking. I just feel this was the best choice for me as well as my family. Some people in my life had always been open to admitting to having an “addictive personality”, but I never believed that was a possibility for me. I didn’t experiment with everything and anything, and again only understood addiction under the stricter sense of the word. I understand now, and in dealing with my grief and loss(es) and recognizing the negative patterns in my life I have opened my heart up to love that much more. As I said in my post about loss, you are not replacing or forgetting, you are embracing and expanding your puzzle of life with new pieces. The pieces that have gone will never be forgotten, and dealing with emotions through alcohol or other substances may feel like it is helping momentarily but the pain is still there. You are only pulling the rug over it for so long, and if it isn’t dealt with then those feelings will come out in other ways that are not appropriate for many situations. Socially, emotionally, either way I look at it I abused this liquid drug in some way and thought it was NEEDED to have fun or even to forget. Life is much different now, and much clearer and healthier. Each day is a new chapter, and there are still some struggles and old patterns and excuses that want to seep through especially this one, but now that I have admitted and accepted it is only up from here. Conscious, healthy living and loving with no judgment. ✌❤
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