Friday, December 23, 2011


First off, I have to tell you that I simply cannot believe the outpouring of love and prayers we've received in less than 48 hours. (Say what you want to about Facebook, there's something amazing about that many people being able to convey their support so quickly!)

I could say "Thank you" from our family, but I don't really think that would cover it. I can say with 100% certainty that the prayers you lifted up were immediately sent back to us in peace from above. I'm not sure if I can adequately describe the feeling, but even in the dark hours, lying in bed when the monsters can creep in, there was an overwhelming sense of calm. It was almost like a blanket came and settled itself right over our house, enabling us to pass the time between test and results quite a lot easier than I'd thought possible. I can't thank you all enough for that.

They told us at our appointment Wednesday not to expect any answers until Friday afternoon, sometime after 3:00 pm. As a result, Mike had decided to go in for a half day at work, arriving back home around 2 to stare at the phone with me. He wasn't too happy about leaving this morning, but I assured him we would be fine and that I would call him if any developments arose.

Jeremiah and I passed our morning quite normally-- we ate some breakfast, played puzzles for an hour (that is our current obsession), and watched George. Just before 11, my phone rang and I didn't recognize the number. My heart started pounding, but I somewhat wrote it off as it was nowhere near 3:00. I answered it. It was sweet Stephanie from the perinatologist's office.

"Mrs. Knoll? We got your test results back this morning."
(I think I temporarily lost hearing and vision in the split second between that sentence and the next.)
"I wanted to let you know that the preliminary results are normal on 13, 18, and 21." **medical jargon translation: no life threatening defects and no Down's syndrome**

I started making some sort of noise that probably, to her, sounded like a cross between a rhinoceros and a vacuum cleaner (hey, my cold hasn't gone away yet). I vaguely heard her ask, "Are you okay? Because I am calling to tell you that you are okay!"

I squeaked out some sort of thanks to her, she told me that she'd see me in January and to go have a happy Christmas weekend with our good news. I think at that point I started snorting in an effort to regain my breath and figured it would just be better to hang up so I could cry and say, "Thank you God" over and over again.

God love my little three year old boy. He was sitting next to me on the sofa, enraptured in his Santa book, and finally got so annoyed with my antics that he said, "Take a deep breath, Mom."

*That's one of those moments that you need to record and replay at a later date. It can really all be boiled down to that one simple statement. "Take a deep breath, Mom."

I did just that, and managed to call my husband. He was elated, obviously. I told him to go ahead and stay the full day at work, but that we'd drop by around lunch to have a group hug. The rest of the day was spent finishing up Christmas prep and celebrating at the Cracker Barrel. Parker is apparently REAL FOND of the Cracker Barrel 'cause I ate every bleeding thing on my plate.

We've cleared Hurdle #1. They threw SO MUCH at us on Wednesday, including the "if it's genetic, you may want to consider termination" conversation (um, not happening). Then they told us to go home and come back in 2 weeks. I fully understand that they were being thorough, telling us what we might be up against, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, having so many "It could be this..." statements leads to so many "Then our life could be..." scenarios in the waiting.

I'm not going to blow sunshine and tell you we didn't veer off into some pretty dark places. Sitting at our table on Wednesday, clutching that sweet baby's ultrasound photo, Mike said, "This can't be the only picture we ever have of him."
I found myself at times having to remind myself that I was still pregnant, believe it or not. I was so consumed with worry about what could happen to my baby that I actually forgot that I currently have a baby in my belly. That's probably difficult to understand, but for a while Mike and I were unable to think about Parker as a person instead of Parker as one of 50 possible medical scenarios.

That was a hard realization. Parker doesn't need to feel anything but warm, safe, happy, and loved. He's not a medical specimen, he's our little boy. Knowing that he's an actual Parker instead of a Marianna makes it a lot easier, and we use his name as much as possible when we talk to him or about him. It's also so much easier after today. We're still in the woods, but we at least feel the woods taking shape around us. We still have 100,000 questions and 100 hurdles to clear.

Today, however, we are choosing to let all that wait until January. We have a gigantic reason to sing God's praises, we have a thousand blessings to count, and we have a weekend ahead to celebrate the birth of Jesus. As it says in A Midnight Clear, we're going to "rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing." You should come, too. :-)

Merry Christmas! Much love from the Knolls.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prayers for Parker

Dear friends,

We found out today that we are expecting our second baby boy. Parker Edward Knoll is on his way! We are terribly excited (I like matching sets of things, and two little boys is about as good as it can get), but I'm writing today to ask for your prayers.

Our ultrasound today (17 weeks 4 days) showed that he is DEFINITELY a boy, growing right along. He was moving and gyrating all over the place, much to the chagrin of the ultrasound technician. She spent an inordinate amount of time examining his heart, then went to get the perinatologist to do a final scan.

My mommy radar was going off immediately, but we spent those few moments alone celebrating the knowledge that he was a little Parker and imagining our lives with two little monsters.

The perinatologist came in, wearing the most ridiculous Christmas tie you've ever seen in your life. He looked rather serious, and said, "There is a finding on your scan."

Hyperventilation. Tears. Panic. Use Christmas tie as a focal point.

Doc goes on to explain that Parker has a hole in the left side of his diaphragm. This is technically called a diaphragmatic hernia. The short of it is that as of now, the hole is allowing his stomach to grow up into his chest cavity. From what we saw today, heart and lung development are unaffected. Off we go during the first week of January to visit the pediatric cardiologist to get a better idea of what's going on.

At this point of my appointment, I have gone to the dark place. I am focused on that God-awful Christmas tie and trying to stuff Kleenex in my ears to catch the tears. Mike has a grip on my hand and shoulder, but I can't look over there.

Bless him, Doc is patting my leg. He takes another deep breath and says, "If it was just that issue, we'd be fine. Surgery can fix that and he can lead a normal life. However..."

Whatever dark place I was in just got darker, and I can't see straight enough to focus on the four calling birds on the tie.

Apparently, little Parker ALSO has two spots on his brain (cysts of some kind) that are a soft marker, especially when combined with the hernia, for chromosomal defects. Each issue, in isolation, is fairly common. In conjunction, red flags start waving. He recommends an immediate amniocentesis to do genetic testing to rule out genetic problems such as Downs, the trisomys, and apparently EIGHTY other syndromes that can pop up. Doc's launched into a speech about how he is almost positive we are not dealing with any genetic disorders as my 12 week scan and screening were perfect, the brain cysts are small and seem to be almost resolved, etc. etc. etc. but he wants to be sure.

"Fine, do it, do whatever you need to do." Sign life away on consent forms.

If I never have another amniocentesis in my life, it will be too soon. I would, to be perfectly honest, be punched in the face repeatedly. I knew enough about them going into it not to look at the needle or the syringe he would be using.

This is Doc's play-by-play: "You'll feel a little stick... now a big old cramp... OUCH!OUCH!OUCH! And now we're done! No more ouch!" Whatever, Christmas tie. I try not to glower at him.

He and the nurses could not have been any sweeter to us. It was NOT the appointment we were expecting, and we were two blubbering idiots for the two hours we were trapped in that room. Bless them. They spend so much of their day making people happy, and I know they HATE this part of their job. It was plainly written on each and every one of their faces.

They finally let us go. It was a quiet ride home. We stopped off at our house and had a mutual breakdown at the kitchen table. Never in my life have I been so happy to have the husband that I do. He is my rock most of the time, but today we did a great job of propping each other up, quite literally, and cleaning up each other's snot rockets.

We went to pick up Jeremiah, tried to have a restful afternoon, and then went shopping for the evening. We are in a sort of lull for the moment. But strangely, we are fine. We really are. A sort of peace has fallen on us. Time to Let Go and Let God, Keep Calm and Carry On, and any other motivational posters I can think of.

What's next:
1) full results of the amnio will take weeks, but we will know the big important things around 3 pm Friday afternoon. Waiting for 48 hours is somewhat akin to torture, but if ever there was a "Be still and know that I am God" moment, this would be it.
2) journey to pediatric cardiologist, my regular OB, and back to perinatologist in early January. There's not a darn thing we can do about anything until Parker is born, except go get ultrasounds to keep an eye on him. Any time I can see that little booger dancing across a screen, I will happily go.

What I am certain of:
1) God is in control of this. I am not. I did not cause this to happen to Parker, and I cannot help Parker by doing anything other than taking care of myself. God has a plan for this little baby boy and as hard as it is for me to not know where that path is going to go, we're going there full steam ahead.
2) There are a thousand people who love our family and will do anything they can to help us. What is that, you ask? Right now we just would love some prayers.
3) There is no greater miracle than a healthy baby. Jeremiah was such a textbook pregnancy that this feeling is completely foreign and scary. When you think about how many tiny little parts have to join together to make a baby, it is really nothing short of miraculous that there are so many of us running around.
4) I would probably take a bullet for Dr. Sermons, my OB. He called me at 8:30 this evening (sadly we were shopping and I didn't hear my phone). He does not abide by office hours. He never has. He left me a short, but so very sweet voicemail. "I talked to the doctor. He's not worried. I'm not worried. We're going to do this, and we're all going to be fine." I completely fell apart sobbing in the Barnes and Noble, for no other reason than I know that man loves me and my family and will do anything he can to take care of me.
5) This is our little boy. His name is Parker. He is very much alive, very much part of our family, and very much loved. Nothing, NOTHING, is going to change any of that.

Prayer requests:
-patience for Mike and I as we wait for Friday afternoon
-strength to stay positive and focused on our thousands of blessings this Christmas

I'll update as soon as we get our amnio results Friday. Thank you so much for loving us.