Sunday, January 30, 2011

19 Weeks!

19 Weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 139

Maternity clothes? Definitely maternity pants, some maternity shirts.  

Stretch marks? Not yet.

Sleep: Improving this week.

Best moment this week: Not being readmitted to the hospital after my cardiologist appointment!

Movement: Yep! Still not consistent, and only when I am lying down or sitting.

Food cravings: Stil lots of sweets.

Gender: Our sweet baby Ethan.

Labor Signs: Still no, thank goodness!

Belly Button in or out? Still an innie, but looking stranger each week.

Wedding rings on or off? Engagement ring always fits, but the wedding band is more temperamental.

What I miss: Nothing this week.

What I am looking forward to: Reaching the halfway mark!

Weekly Wisdom: Less swelling sure makes for a higher self esteem!

Milestones: Ethan and I got a pleasant report from the cardiologist this week.  Although my heart still is not "fluid free," the fluid is not re-accumulating to a level that will require more surgery at this point!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Hi everyone!

I need your help today! After my recent hospital stays, I have truly valued the family and friends that have brought us dinners over the past few weeks. I never would have imagined that I would still be in pain 3 weeks post surgery, nor would I have imagined that my energy would still be as depleted as it is.

I've decided that I want to start making and freezing some meals for the days after bringing Ethan home. I have a few on my list, but I need your ideas too! What are some great dinners that you love that will freeze well?!


Monday, January 24, 2011

18 Weeks

18 Weeks
Total weight gain/loss: 136

Maternity clothes? Definitely maternity pants, some maternity shirts.  My closet and I had a slight disagreement on the maternity dress/regular dress for church.  The closet won.  Maternity dresses are too big and the regular ones result in...well...spillage. Gross.

Stretch marks? Not yet.

Sleep: A lot of restlessness.  Luckily I got 2 nights of real sleep this past week, so that was nice.

Best moment this week: Jason feeling baby Ethan move for the first time.

Movement: Yep! Still not consistent, and only when I am lying down or sitting.

Food cravings: Lots of sweets.

Gender: BOY!

Labor Signs: Still no, thank goodness!

Belly Button in or out? Still an innie, but looking funny.

Wedding rings on or off? On usually.  Since I'm not doing much but recovering from surgery, I haven't been putting them on everyday by choice.

What I miss: Real sleep.  And not feeling so fat/disgusting!

What I am looking forward to: Completing our anatomy scan in a couple of weeks.  Ethan wouldn't cooperate last week to let us get his facial measurements or heart measurements.

Weekly Wisdom: None.  I have none for you. 

Milestones: We are nearing the halfway mark!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Five Question Friday

For fun, I thought I would join in on Five Question Friday at My Little Life!

1. Where did you meet your spouse, and did you know instantly it was love?
Jason and I met on spring break through mutual friends! I didn't know instantly it was love because, well, I was actually seeing someone else! However, we became fast friends that eventually evolved into my one and only love.

2. What is your favorite room in the house?
I LOVE my kitchen right now, but I think my favorite room will change once the nursery is completed

3. Can you wiggle your ears?
YES! When I was a pre-teen, I used to be very proud that I could flair my nostrils and wiggle my ears at the same time. I called it "my hidden talent." Oh my. What a dork I was.

4. What is your evening ritual?
This has currently changed since my surgery, but prior to: Jason and I would get home from work, make dinner, watch TV or play a board game, I would take a hot bath and spend some time with my pup. Then it would be off to bed! This varies quite a bit now since I'm not cooking every night, and I can only shower instead of my beloved baths until my incision is healed.

5. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
At least 5. I prefer around 7, specifically consecutive.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Sneak Peak

With the chaos of multiple hospital trips, we haven't done as much to Ethan's room as I would like. However, we have purchased a few things and are very excited to begin working on it a little more. I thought I would show you a sneak peak of our inspirations for Ethan's nautical bedroom:

We took inspiration from Good Harbor Beach and Jason's birthplace: Gloucester, Massachusetts. Jason's grandfather, a fisherman, is building us a few other sailboats for his room and we have framed photos of Grandpa Orlando's actual ships. I'm very excited to start painting and getting things on the walls!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


(image found from Google)

I have spent so much time updating you on myself and not enough time updating you and asking for the prayers of others.

My very special Aunt Angie begins her radiation treatment today for breast cancer. She has finished two surgeries, and now faces 30 radiation treatments over the next 6 weeks. We, including her doctors, are completely confident that she will be added to the survivor list. I'm so proud of her, just as I am of Mom when she was added to the survivor list nearly 8 years ago.
(me, Aunt Angie, my sister)
Please pray for her as she continues her fight. Please also pray for my uncle and sweet cousins as I know exactly how they feel during this time, and need your comforting prayers as well.


Friday, January 14, 2011

17 Weeks

(Ignore the braless, makeup-less, non-brushed hair, grunge look I have going on. I literally put on clothes for the first time post-surgery for this picture ONLY)
17 Weeks
Total weight gain/loss: Around 134/135. I'm not sure where I was in week 16.

Maternity clothes? I've gone back to maternity jeans. First because of the swelling again, but now its just plain comfortable, even though they are a little big right now.

Stretch marks? Nope!

Sleep: Very restless right now, but I think that is due to pain from the surgery.

Best moment this week: Hearing Ethan's heartbeat every 12 hours during my hospital stay.

Movement: YES! I started feeling him a little bit in the hospital, and now I feel him every once in a while if I get really still in a chair.

Food cravings: Lots of sweets.

Gender: BOY! Baby Ethan!

Labor Signs: Still no, thank goodness!

Belly Button in or out? Still an innie!

Wedding rings on or off? Actually off. I took them off before the surgery and just haven't put them back on yet.

What I miss: Not having a doctor appointment every few days.

What I am looking forward to: Our anatomy scan in a few weeks.

Weekly Wisdom: Babies are a lot more resilient than we ever give them credit for.

Milestones: Feeling movement!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3

I cannot emphasize enough about my nurses in Nashville. I had originally chosen to leave the name of the hospital out of my blog, but they have been so good to me that I have to throw my opinions. Many of you have heard of Vanderbilt Hospital, and how wonderful they are. I'm sure Vanderbilt is a fantastic facility, full of doctors of wisdom and knowledge, but if you are in the south and have a choice for care, Centennial Hospital is truly the only place I would return to. Their team of heart doctors and association with my high-risk pregnancy OB team were the original reasons for sending me to Centennial, but upon the news that I had to return for another surgery, I insisted on Centennial.

My first stay consisted of two nurses in the CCU (due to my semi-short stay) I had several different nurses once I was moved to a step down room, and they were wonderful as well, but my CCU nurses are what made the difference. My daytime nurse found a heart doppler that was not intended for fetal heart tones, but she would come in every few hours just to let me listen to sweet Ethan (at the time, Baby Cannoli) and give me peace of mind. A mommy herself, we discussed my pregnancy quite a bit, and she even made a guess that Baby Cannoli would be a boy! With every intention to write her a letter to thank her and tell her about Ethan, I had the opportunity to walk down one day and tell her the news myself. My first night ever in the hospital was in the CCU at Centennial. Because it was CCU, visitors are not allowed in the room with you beyond visiting hours.

My nighttime nurse told me she could see my fear and uncertainty of this whole mess. She also talked with me about her first hospital stay and remember ing how afraid she was to be alone. For her sweet heart alone, she brought a reclining chair in for Jason and set him up to stay with me 24 hours a day. As long as I promised not to disturb the other patients with my visitors, I was allowed to have as many visitors as I wanted during the day as well. It was so comforting to be surrounded by family in a time of fear. During the moments that Jason was asleep and I was wide awake, my nighttime nurse would come in and talk with me for hours. She was not a mother, but had many hilarious stories of her experiences with babies to keep my spirits up, words of comfort about my fears, and a true understanding of my families needs. They were so wonderful to me that I will never forget those moments of kindness.

I arrived to the CCU room with a room full of people waiting. There was a nurse I had never seen before, my surgeon from my previous procedure, and a tech that I remembered to complete a fast ECHO. Within minutes, my surgeon informed me that he did not feel that the pericardialcentesis was the route we needed to go.

He felt that because the fluid came back with such aggression, that if he completed the same procedure again, we would be arriving back at Centennial for a third time within a month. I agreed with him that completing that procedure throughout my pregnancy was not ideal. He suggested the pericardial window (cutting a hole in the sac of my heart to allow the fluid to drain away from the heart to safer places in the body) but warned me that this procedure was much more invasive. I began to cry, for fear of Ethan. My surgeon told me that the second trimester was the golden time to operate with as minimal risks to Ethan as possible. I understood, and he then informed me that he would not be doing the surgery. My fear rushed back, because I trusted this doctor. During my last surgery, he talked with me calmly throughout the procedure, as I was wide awake and very afraid. He was so good in my last stay, I wanted him to be the one to take care of me. He told me that he felt that his talents were not up to the level of care he wanted for me, and found the very best surgeon for this procedure. So I trusted him.

They quickly began to prepare me for surgery, and many other doctors and nurses began to rush in. The ambulance took me from the cardiologist's office in Kentucky so quickly, Jason had no choice but to head down to Nashville after the ambulance. Centennial moved so quickly that he barely made it in time for me to see him prior to surgery. He arrived, and I began to cry again.

They took me downstairs quickly for surgery, and my nurse handed me a notecard. Through my tears, I read: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3 You were prayed for today."

Of course, in my horribly emotional pregnant state, my crying didn't subside but increased. I knew that my nurse meant it of comfort, but little did she know my battle of trusting God. I've spoken with you many times about my journey to trust God with EVERYTHING, instead of just parts of my life. I blog about trusting God a lot, but I rarely speak of it out loud. I'm not sure why, but it seems to come across so much better in writing rather than explaining. I chose not to explain it to her, but I thanked her sincerely. She walked down to the operating with me, and allowed Jason to do so as well. She squeezed my hand, told me that her shift was almost over, but she was looking forward to seeing me again in the morning. I thanked her again and she left.

That verse stayed in my head until I was put to sleep. How on earth did she know that was the exact thing I needed to read? There are so many verses that provide comfort in times of crisis and fear, I knew it was no coincidence that she gave me THAT verse in that moment. I wasn't putting my trust where it needed to be, and I needed to be thrown back on track. God will always communicate with us some way, often quietly. When we don't listen, he will make sure we figure it out somehow, even if it pops up on a 3x5 index card.

It's time for me to start listening all the time.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Still Down and Frustrated

I don't like not being able to "bounce back."

I'm finding it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours without pain. This morning was incredibly difficult. I woke up feeling like my surgery was just yesterday: aching, nauseous and sore. I attempted to start the morning by eating a Pop-Tart to ease my stomach, and ended up gagging on the first bite, causing an unbearable pain in my breastbone/incision area. I burst into tears, and my mom cried with me. I'm SO frustrated and tired of feeling this way. I slept away the morning, yet another waste.

Recovery is not our only challenge at this point. Not only are we focused on preparing for Ethan's arrival, we are constantly reminded of our other "challenges" that my condition has brought us to. These hurdles are thrown our way well before we ever expected to have to deal with them. This is incredibly frustrating to me, as my health condition is causing the problem, yet my husband is picking up the responsibilities to fix it. I'll just whine and say it: it's not fair.

I have always looked forward to enjoying this pregnancy, and while I love knowing the new things that Ethan is developing each day, it is difficult to enjoy due to how awful I feel and how much stress I am causing.

We have had so much help with our daily activities from our friends and family, which has been a wonderful blessing. All of the encouraging words and prayers have also been a blessing, and I want to thank you all for them.

God is certainly putting me up to the highest challenge of "trusting him" that began the day we discovered our firstborn was coming into our lives.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm finally home. I'm exhausted. I'm sore. I'm thrilled.

I will update you all more later, but I just wanted to let you know I'm finally home. Thank you all so much for the prayers and sweet words over the past week. It's definitely been a wild ride.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finally...some hope.

I'm. Still. Here. I've been feeling VERY discouraged and annoyed.  I know my family is tired, and I know they need to get home, but I also know they will refuse to leave my side (which I love, but feel guilty about all the same).

Last night was really rough.  My family definitely has the "laugh through the serious times" attitude, but laughter has been so physically painful, I have begged them not to tell too many jokes around me.  It's nearly impossible to do, and they have been absolutely hilarious.  My mom and I were going back and forth and I started cracking up, and then within seconds burst into tears.  I let my pain get ahead of me, and took more medicine.  I've been so frustrated with my body's inability to recover as fast as I want it to, frustrated with the pain, and frustrated that Ethan and I are going through this again.  My depression level has been higher than I can ever remember, and my anxiety level is running a close second.  My doctors have attempted to be reassuring that the pericardial window surgery gives me an extremely low risk of another recurrence, but I haven't felt reassured.

I've cried a LOT these past few days.  I've cried out of pain, frustration, fear, you name it.  It's not been pretty.  I want this behind us, I want the chance to enjoy being pregnant, and I just want to go HOME!

Today has been better.  My pain has improved, but I am horribly homesick.  I'm glad my husband and parents have been here with me, but I miss my sister terribly.  She was going to come visit today, but the snow created other plans.  

My surgeon came in this afternoon to look at my drain and discuss my fluid output.  Thankfully, it has decreased significantly.  Instead of 900ccs, yesterday was only around the 150 range.  To be extra careful, he wants to leave it in one more day just to make sure my pericardium is completely dry this time.  We still have no other leads for the cause other than a virus that settled itself in my heart and created inflammation and fluid.  He believes the pregnancy exacerbated the problem, but does not believe that future pregnancies will see this problem.

He told us today that with everything they drained during the surgery, along with the output in my drain, I was probably holding about a gallon of fluid around my heart.  We discussed my inconsistent symptoms this time, and he told me that my ECHO and effusion was the most impressive that they have ever seen.  He also could not believe that my body tolerated that much fluid without detrimental effects.  I talked with him about my anxiety of the return of this fluid again.  He was very honest with me and told me that it was a possibility, and briefly mentioned the next steps beyond the window if that were to occur.  He then stopped and told me that although it was a possibility, they have been so careful to make sure that every bit of fluid is gone before they remove the drain, he would be shocked to see me suffer with this again. I was so glad to have my questions answered and to finally feel some reassurance.

My hopes are that the drain will come out tomorrow and that my ECHO will be clear on Monday so that I can be discharged to leave Nashville and come back to Kentucky!  Thank you all so much for the  prayers.  They are working, keep them coming!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Brief Update

I'm still here in the hospital.  I'm waiting for the fluid to finish draining so rapidly so the doctors can take out the drain.  The waiting and the pain are beginning to frustrate and wear on me.  My spirits were definitely not in good shape yesterday, but today is a little better.

I was hoping to get my drain out today, but it pulled out 900cc's of fluid yesterday, so that is now not an option.  Which means definitely an extra day in the hospital.  Once the drain is out, they will do another ECHO 24 hours after the removal to make sure the window is working the way it is supposed to.  Please pray that it does.  I'm not sure I can physically take much more surgery or pain that results from it.  After a clear ECHO, we can then discuss discharging me from the hospital.

They are still working to find another reason for the fluid to do the best thing they know how to prevent it from returning.  So far, every thing they have examined has lead the doctors to a dead end.

Ethan's heartbeat is still nice and strong, so it is a great comfort to know he is still cozy and comfortable, even if I'm not.

I'll attempt to update you as I know more.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


It looks like my 16 week photo will not exist. I apologize, as well for not updating you.

I am back in the hospital in Nashville.  I went for my scheduled check-up on Tuesday, and the news was exactly what I expected/dreaded.  My fluid was back, and this time it appeared to be worse.

I was sent back to Nashville from my appointment at the doctor's office via ambulance.  I was incredibly annoyed.  I didn't want to do this again, and I surely don't want Ethan to go through this again.

Upon arriving the hospital, they decided instead of completing the same procedure as before, they would do a pericardial window.  This surgery is much more invasive and would require general anesthesia to do so.  The riskier surgery meant more risks for Ethan and I.  I was back in the hospital no more than 2 hours before I was taken to surgery.

They hope this surgery is a success and permanent.  The window is supposed to be a permanent fix to fluid collection, and I hope and pray that it is the case for me.  Ethan is doing well, and they are giving me peace of mind by continuing to check his fetal heart tones every 12 hours or so. I'm in a lot of pain, and still very tired and sore.  I will be here in the hospital for at least a few more days, but I will try to update you as best I can.  Thank you so much for the prayers.  Please continue to pray for my family and sweet Ethan as we hope to be climbing the mountain to get this nightmare behind us.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Son...

My sweet baby boy,

I cannot believe that in just a few short months, I'm going to have a SON!  I hope someday you will understand the extreme surprise and excitement I felt when they told me that it was YOU about to be born.

I grew up in a family of girls, and you will learn after your arrival that most of your family playmates will also be little girls.  Because of that, I have never known much about boys.  I hope you will be patient with me as I learn the ins and outs of motherhood for a little boy.  I promise you that I will do all I can to learn as quickly as possible to make your childhood one that you can look back on with fondness.

When I first discovered that I was carrying you, my first instinct (due to our large family history) was that you would  be a little girl.  Daddy and I dreamed of a little boy, and occasionally doubted our original instincts.  We hoped that if our firstborn was a little girl, that God would bless with a little boy someday.  It wasn't until you and I went through a wild ride of health problems in our first few weeks together that I became convinced you were a sweet boy.

I'm sure you will hear the story of my pregnancy with you many times in your life, but you and I have already began adventures that have demanded us to be strong and brave.  Before you had been growing for 12 weeks, the doctors discovered a fluid on my heart that was threatening my life and consequently, yours.  I was determined to fight through whatever I had to in order to be healthy enough to keep you safe and growing.  However, you also had to be willing to go through it with me.  I thank God in every single prayer that you were willing to do so. 

You and I have been through more medications than I ever wanted to take while pregnant, more tests, and even a surgery.  Coming home from the hospital knowing you were still growing reassured me that you were one STRONG baby.  That strength convinced me that it was you and not a little girl.

Daddy and I had chosen your name well before we ever knew that I was pregnant.  We selected your first name because it was one we both liked, and your middle name comes from your great-great-grandfather.  I wish you could have met my sweet Pa.  He was very special in our family, and a man that has inspired your Granny with so much of the wisdom she carries today.  It is only right that you carry on a name that is so special to everyone on your Mommy's side of the family.  Your last name, Orlando, represents your Italian heritage, and the core strength of your Daddy's family.  We knew of your name well before we ever knew of you, and the months to come showed us that your name was meant to be.

Daddy and I discussed your first name just a few days before we discovered that you were a baby boy.  We looked at other options, and then decided to look up the meaning of the original name that we had selected.  Amazingly, your first AND middle name mean strength.  A strength that you have needed to fight your way into this world, and a strength that I pray you will continue to carry with you as you grow up into the wonderful man I know you will become.  I believe that it was no accident that God brought us to you, Ethan Bryant Orlando.  God moved your Daddy and I to your name long ago because he knew you would need your strength, and I would also need your strength as we work to bring you into this world.

We love you so much Ethan, and we cannot wait to meet you this summer.