You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Prayers of My Heart...

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly religious least not in a formal way.  I am more spiritual I suppose.  I believe in God and ever since Everett, I have had a closer relationship with Him.  I pray daily, several times a day, and when I have a life decision to make, I often find myself turning to Him for guidance.  There are events that happened with Everett that could not be explained by anything (in our opinion) other than the intervention of God.  And I’ve never forgotten that feeling of being in awe of His power.  

Our decision to get pregnant again relied heavily, for me anyway, on my belief that God has a plan for my life...and not just any plan but a plan for my benefit.  I understand now that the benefits aren’t always readily seen and sometimes they can take years to manifest themselves.  Reflecting on the past three years, we have had some times of incredible suffering and challenge.  But we’ve also had many times of immense joy and triumph.  Those triumphs would not have come if not for the challenges.  I can see how every aspect of my life has been improved by not only Everett, but by the struggles we had to keep him.  If not for him being born the way he was, I think Zac and I would be very different parents.  I think we would lack patience and would possibly focus on achievement rather than appreciation.  I would not know the direction for my career, we might not live in our current home, and we would not have some of the enduring friendships that have been born from everything Everett.  Years later, I see why he had to be who he is.  I understand it.  I accept it.  And I really feel every part of the long journey was to our benefit.  

With this baby, we decided pre-conception that we did not want any genetic testing.  Then when the time came to make the decision, I waffled a little as the fear of the unknown crept in.  But Zac lovingly reminded me that results of tests wouldn’t change our decision in moving forward.  So we decided to focus on the joys of this pregnancy and deal with challenges if or when they arose.  Getting to that point of surrender was hard.  But I’ve come to realize, it isn’t about what I want or how I’ve pictured my life.  It isn’t even about what I think I deserve.  It is about what I need...what I was meant to have.  And so my daily prayers for this baby always begin with thanking God for the opportunity and then asking Him to grant us the “perfect” child for our family.  I don’t ask for the “perfect” child in the sense of a child without defects, free of delays or anomalies.  I don’t even ask for a boy or a girl, for blue eyes or blonde hair.  I simply pray that the child we receive is one that fits who we are and where our lives are going...the one that is meant for our family.

All of life is an act of faith.  If you really think about it, there is precious little that is in our control.  I chose to relish in the belief that I will not be given any challenge that I am not equipped to handle.  I chose to focus on the thought that in every situation, no matter how dire or life-shattering, there is a benefit and a reason if you look hard enough to find it.  Understanding this helps take some of the fear away, helps shift the burden to someone else.  Nothing happens in life without immense purpose.  We’ve just got to keep the faith.  

With Heartfelt Prayer,

The Bollinger Family

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our "Stay Pregnant" Plan...

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the many congratulations and well-wishes!  It has been genuinely fun telling those we love about this pregnancy :-)  The tears of joy, shouts of excitement, and messages of congratulations are all things which we find sincerely endearing!  They give us further proof that we have never been and will never be alone in this journey.  Some of you have expressed your own anxiety for us in this new chapter, which we also find sincerely endearing!  We are anxious too!  For your own peace of mind, know that Zac and I chose this journey with eyes wide open.  We are aware that there are no guarantees and that in the end, we might not end up with another child.  That’s just our reality.  However, we have a good plan in place and have every hope of going full term and creating a beautifully healthy little life :-)

The “Stay Pregnant” plan actually started many months ago after our miscarriage.  As I mentioned before, it was a complicated miscarriage which resulted in a prolonged wait time to try to conceive again.  It was a blessing (of sorts) because it bought us time to run tests that could not have been done while I was pregnant.  The results of those tests have pointed to nothing specific...nothing.  Also, because our current doctor is not the doctor who delivered Everett (we decided to change practices with our last pregnancy), it has been hard for him to determine what really happened because he wasn’t there.  Long story short, all our anatomy and genetics and blood counts are normal.  To quote our doctor, “I believe Everett was a total fluke.”  

That’s not to say we aren’t taking precautions.  The two major culprits that fit the symptoms I experienced with Everett are preterm labor and an incompetent cervix.  The two often go hand-in-hand so it can be hard to tell which came first.  I will start treatment to prevent preterm labor next week.  This involves taking weekly injections of the hormone Progesterone, which is responsible for relaxing the uterus and helping prevent it from contracting.  The injections will continue until week 37.  

As for the cervix, we’ve been monitoring that from the start with ultrasounds to check the length.  In an incompetent cervix (lovely term isn’t it?), the cervix shortens and opens prematurely due to a lack of strength to carry the weight of the baby.  If this happens, a stitch (called a cerclage) can be placed up to week 20 to help reinforce the cervix.  Many doctors would elect to place a cerclage in a patient with my history.  However, a cerclage in itself can cause miscarriage, infection, and preterm labor.  So we’ve opted to monitor and observe and place one only if symptoms arise.  

Most everyone has been asking about my work.  While lifting, standing on your feet, and prolonged shifts are not proven to cause preterm delivery, I had been experiencing early symptoms that work was possibly becoming too physical for my body.  At our last appointment, our doctor decided to err on the side of caution and has written me out until the baby is born.  To say we are relieved is an understatement!  For me, I know my anxiety level quadrupled on those nights I had to work...always wondering if something I was doing as part of my job could be endangering the health of this baby.  Because our doctor couldn’t guarantee that is was safe for me to be there, we decided this was the best course of action.  I am not on bed rest and likely will not be.  But I am taking it easy, very easy...not lifting Everett, resting frequently, and listening to my body more than I ever have.  We want to give this baby the best chance to make it to term.  That involves some sacrifices that we are totally willing to make.  As I’ve said many times, we’ve lived the alternative.  This is nothing in comparison.  

I want to close by saying that our doctor also told us that a huge component of the success of this pregnancy is hope.  Yes, just like the doctors at CHLA told us with Everett...hope is the best thing, the most influential thing we can do.  So...

We hope this pregnancy goes full term.  
We hope this baby is healthy.  
We hope that the desires of our hearts will be realized.  
We hope that all of you are hoping the same things with us.

With Hope,

Zac, Sara and Everett