Back to the intuition thing…

Last night was rough. Throwing up, itching, crying, and the feeling that something was NOT right.

So, this morning I called my OB and went ahead and scheduled some more blood tests and an ultrasound for today.

Because, you know, mothers have an intuition about these things.

Turns out my levels were so high that they don’t think it’s worth it to wait…and I agree. I feel total peace about it and that it is the right thing to do. We are praying about her lungs being developed but based on what they saw today, that was essentially irrelevant because the risk of her being inside was higher.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….

Miss Charlotte will be making her debut at 10 P.M. TONIGHT!!!!!! ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!! I’m not sure what emotion to feel and really am still in shock, but please, please pray for the whole thing to be uneventful as far as complications. I can’t wait to get this girl in my arms.

I promise to keep you all updated (I have a couple friends who will be with me who I am sure will be more than happy to do the “play-by-play :)

Wow. Quite a day.

Love to you all,
Ang

Intuition

I apologize for the fact that there is going to be a lot going on in this post that you don’t have background for. It’s going to seem a little out of the blue, but the truth is I just haven’t wanted to take you all on a roller-coaster ride unless I felt like there was good reason. You have shown me how much you care about my family and have earnestly prayed for us in the past and I don’t want to insert drama where it’s unnecessary.

The past several weeks have been a NIGHTMARE. I have been complaining to my OB about a myriad of bizarre things that are happening to me, and the bottom line is that my intuition (Mr. Holy Spirit…) has been urging me to keep investigating this stuff and now I understand why. I have had the most insane, frustrating, tortuous itching for several weeks. I have tried every trick in the book and nothing works. You know when you just know that something else is going on? Well, that’s how I felt. I went to the hospital one night for several of the symptoms and they sent me home, unable to find anything of consequence. I had numerous tests done and this week, two of them (related to my liver) came back abnormally. They re-tested a few days later and it was still high.

I also had an ultrasound a few days ago that showed a slight (not concerning and very common) issue with Charlotte’s kidney. Let’s just say that when you are having an ultrasound to measure fetal movement and the tech keeps telling you how great everything looks, only to zoom in on the kidneys for no reason and start taking a million measurements will kind of freak someone out. And it doesn’t help much that when your husband asks why she is looking at the kidneys, she becomes very stoic and tells you she can’t discuss it and that my doctor will explain. I know they aren’t supposed to say anything, and it wasn’t her fault, but I just started bawling on the table and had to wait for her to do a million more measurements, all the while thinking it was what Audrey had.

It was not.

It is something that has to do with a little fluid being backed up in her kidney and there is absolutely no concern about it. In fact, it looked better today and there is every reason to believe it will remedy itself.

Well, a few weeks ago I started googling and everything I found pointed to this condition called ICP. I asked them to do a test, and although they didn’t do it in the first round, they did agree to in the second round because they were looking for something to explain the liver issue.

I had another ultrasound today and Charlotte looks great. For those of you who are counting, I was 35 weeks on Saturday. They are estimating her to be 6 pounds already and the woman who did the scan has been doing it for 15 years and said she got fantastic measurements and believes it to be right on.

So, all good.

But then I saw my OB (I happen to really, really like her and she has been fantastic and empathetic during this whole ordeal) and she told me they knew why I was itching, and had received the bile test results that I pushed for. Well, guess what?

They aren’t normal.

If you are a nurse, or in the medical field, you’ll know the punchline to this story. There is an increased risk of stillbirth and a host of other things that are not really good things. I’m not freaking out but it is a little alarming being told you need to monitor the baby’s movement and call if it feels like it has slowed down.

Because of the risks associated with this particular issue, they have made the decision to deliver Charlotte as soon as her lungs are mature. As it stands, I am having an amnio on Friday and if all is well, will have my c-section on Saturday (5/22).

I am relieved to have answers to this nagging feeling, but of course, based on my history, Satan would love to prey on my anxieties. I have tried to be really cautious sharing info because I am not a doctor and I felt like my assumptions could have been misleading. As a general rule, I don’t like to do posts where I’m just pouting about something that is “uncomfortable.” Especially when there are people all around me who have lost their houses and are in complete crisis trying to get on their feet. It just feels a little weird. But after today, knowing what the cause is and what the risks are (they are low, for the record…) I would really love to ask for your prayer about this. I want to be wise about how it’s handled and make sure Charlotte is in good shape before she arrives, but I am also keenly aware that shortly it will be safe to say she will probably be better outside of me than inside.

So, that’s the gist, friends. And also, kudos to my editor Jennifer. I was supposed to have a big book signing out of town this weekend and she had a catch in her spirit about it weeks ago and cancelled it :)

I will also need to go in Thursday for another ultrasound to check Charlotte’s movement, and I will keep you all posted on how it goes. Every time I have typed Charlotte’s name into this post I have started with “Aud…” and then caught myself. It is a strange and difficult place to feel some of the same helplessness I did with her, and honestly I have really struggled emotionally during these weeks as I have had to come face to face with some of the hurt I had filed away.

I’m pretty sure I am rambling, so I’ll stop :) I’m going to take an oatmeal bath for the 400th consecutive time and pray that it brings a little relief. They have put me on medicine to help with this (I can’t remember the name, it starts with an “A” I think?) so hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

He is Who He was before today.

I am reminding myself over and over that the truth is still the truth. It isn’t somewhere I haven’t been with Him already, and we’ll get through.

In the meantime, could you pray for me and this sweet girl?

I’m crying because I know you will and I am so grateful for all of you…

Love to you all,
Angie

P.S. I just saw a comment that Blogher had put up ads for Sex in the City on my blog today, as they apparently did on other bloggers sites. I have opted out of ads like this, and I apologize when they come up. I have never seen an episode of that show but based on the previews, I’m thinking it doesn’t look like something I would approve on here. I would have contacted them and let them know but it isn’t there anymore so maybe they took it down for me :) Please do not hesitate to share that kind of info with me, as it is difficult to keep up with. Go ahead and shoot me an email or a tweet and let me know so I can notify them. They have always been very respectful of my choices in the past and I really believe it was an accident, so hopefully they can keep it family-friendly from now on…

Little Miss Charlotte

Well folks, we’ve got a busy little bee here. This baby girl is a mover, a shaker, and an energy-sucker.

We are so in love with her.  It has been such a neat experience to see the girls at an age where they can really understand and want to protect her (and me). They hardly let me bend over to clean anything up off the floor because they don’t want me to have to be “bendy” when she’s in there. You know, she might get squeezed or something. :)  Kate has taken to talking to my belly but it’s in the same voice she uses to call the dog. It is equal parts endearing and alarming. It’s more like a gutteral growl with some expression of love woven in somehow. This isn’t making sense. I’ll try to film it so you can feel like you’re in the chaos of the life that is “The Smith Family :) )” Todd and I spend nights on the couch waiting for her to move. I think she’s already a fan of his lullabies…:)

I had a doctor’s appt today and it was good and little bad. I’m going to share so you can pray with me…you all are so great about that.

My doctor got called back for an emergency at the hospital right as I checked in so I asked if someone else could check me. Really, I didn’t even need to be examined but I just had that feeling and thought it would be best to ask. They were really sweet and grabbed another doctor. She told me that everything was fine with my cervix as far as she could tell…remember, that was the issue with the twins?

So that was a relief. I told her I have been in a crazy amount of pain (I’m not going to throw a pity party here, but this has DEFINITELY been my most physically difficult pregnancy so far). I felt like something might not be right…it turns out that Charlotte is really, really, (really) low down, so I’ve just got a lot of pressure and it’s pretty much torture. I won’t go on (it’s not the end of the world), but I’m just so stinking uncomfortable and feel like I am of no use to anyone in this shape. You all know enough about me to know I love being involved, digging in with the kids, just BEING PRESENT. And this has put a kink in my attempts at normalcy.  She didn’t put me on bedrest, but she did tell me to buy a support band to help (have you ever had one? did it help you?) and I’m testing it out. I think the main thing (in my limited understanding) is that because she is low, she is putting pressure on a cervix which has been known to rebel at the least optimal times. Would you please pray that things will go smoothly, and that this isn’t the beginning of the issues I had with the girls? Thank you.

Based on what she saw (and knew about me), she told me that under no circumstances should I travel with Compassion to El Salvador (DARN.), so I had to back out of the trip. I so wanted to be a part of it but she made it very clear to me that this was not the best idea…I think it is the right choice but I really am down about it. I will keep you all posted as Selah will still be on the trip and I’m sure will keep us all in the loop on what the Lord is up to over there.

So, I know this is a quick and random post, but I so covet your prayers during this time. They would like me to have another ultrasound later this week and instead of waiting 5 weeks for my regular check-up, they want me back in 2 instead. I think they just want to keep an eye on things, and I don’t feel like there’s any reason to worry (so don’t you worry either!) but I really wanted to share everything with you all…my friends on the other side of the computer.

I love that I get to live life with so many wonderful women as we journey together.

In the comments, please continue to post prayer requests. I check them frequently and would love to know what I can be praying for on your behalf. I will announce the Lisa Leonard winners tomorrow when I have caught my breath a little…for now I need to catch up on the Olympics :)

Much love from me and the itty-bitty,
Ang

Breathing Deeply…

Yesterday was a great day, and I am so proud to announce that we are going to have another baby GIRL!!!!!!! We plan to name her Charlotte (still debating middle names but because of the lack of, umm, sons, we may use James. That’s Todd’s first name and we were going to use it as a first name if we had a boy). It was hilarious as Todd looked at the ultrasound and said, “I think I see something right there! Is that a boy?” while we all shook our heads. He got this huge smile on his face we all just burst out laughing.

I was really concerned yesterday before we went in and I spent the morning in prayer, Bible on lap, asking the Lord for favor with this pregnancy. I also got schooled in both Crazy 8′s and War thanks to my eldest daughter but I’m not dwelling on it. She may have cheated. I’m sticking to that theory.

Audra came with us to the appointment and had her hand on my head while the technician scooted around my stomach. I always thought of these appointments as an opportunity to find out the gender and never really worried about the rest of it, but not anymore. She said at one point, “Here’s the bladder, here’s the kidneys, the heart…4 chambers. Here’s the…” and I breathed in that moment like I never have before. At this point, there is nothing that concerns them and we have every reason to believe that Charlotte is healthy.

Those words are heavy with relief, and this morning I am thanking the Lord for what we saw. It’s a roller coaster in a sense, though, because the freshness of Audrey’s diagnosis is still present. January 7th was the day she was diagnosed so it just feels like it’s all around.  I miss her a lot, and like a lot of other women who have been where I am, this doesn’t replace those emotions. It is joyful, wonderful, amazing, and we are praising the Lord, but Audrey is still Audrey. I think there is a fear (I have heard this from so many women) that she will be forgotten. I know that isn’t true but as a mommy I feel like I want all of my daughters to be known. One of the most amazing parts of writing (whether a blog or a book) is that you all have made me feel like you love my Audrey. I don’t think there is a way in this life to thank you for your compassion, prayers, and support as we have walked this road.

I was reading Job yesterday and reflecting on the thought that the Lord gives and takes away. We never know which it will be, so we pray to be steadfast with our prayer and worship in either case.

We are on our knees thanking Him for our 5th little girl. May she bring Him honor all of her days, no matter how many they may be.

Without further ado, please meet our sweet Charlotte…

Isn’t she precious?!?!? I am a little farther along than they thought (I have been trying to convince them of that…finally I was like, “Here’s the deal. My husband travels quite a bit. You’re gonna have to take my word for it, but I can pretty much pinpoint it for you…:)). Yesterday they took the measurements and sure enough, moved my due date to June 19th, so I am 16 1/2-17 weeks now.  And this little pumpkin is a MOVER!!!! Todd has already felt her kicking, which is hilarious. She may give Kate a run for her money…:)

My prayers are with all of you in this New Year-may we all feel the joy of salvation in a fresh, deep way as we seek to make Him famous with our lives.

Love to you all, and more gratitude than I can express…
Angie

Any Ideas?

Hey everyone! I hope you all are getting into the swing of things this Christmas season. I haven’t even started my shopping yet but hopefully I will be able to next week. I’ve had the flu for more than 2 weeks and just yesterday I felt like I was turning a corner. Whew. First trimester sickness combined with the flu is a pretty nasty combination!!!
(And now, hold onto the reigns because we are about to take a little trip to a place called “the most sporadic post ever.” Giddy-up.).
We (and by “we” I mean “Todd”) finally got the Christmas decorations up and Scout has made his inaugural visit for the year. He has already turned up in a couple strange places :) For those of you who asked, here is the link to Amazon in case you want to order The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition Elf on the Shelf Gift Set
In other news, I have been sewing up a storm. I made the girls these sweet little Christmas dresses (I’ll try to post pictures soon) and now I’m working on some Christmas jammies for them. 
The house has been eerily quiet for the last few weeks because the Hamilton’s moved back to Michigan. We miss them already and pray for them constantly…it was such a blessing to live life with them and we can’t wait to see what the Lord has planned for them.
Speaking of our house, we haven’t had any showings. We did have a contract on a second house but after the inspection we decided to back out of it so now we don’t know where we will go if we sell. I keep waiting for an “Anne of Green Gables” house to come on the market for a steal but so far it hasn’t happened :) If you could, would you pray for discernment and peace about the whole situation? For some reason Todd and I feel a little unsettled where we are but we don’t know where the Lord is leading us. With the market the way it is, it seems like a great time to get a great house for a great price but we haven’t found one yet.
As far as the pregnancy, we had a really fun doctor’s appointment the other day. Abby and Ellie came with us and I wasn’t quite far enough along to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler so my doctor got the mobile ultrasound machine and we got to see the little Scooter. The kid does not. stop. moving.  Seriously!!! The legs and arms just kept flying out and the little body just wiggled like a worm. We all laughed so hard and of course everyone decided it was a boy. The kid is a maniac.
Hmm, what else?
The book club was great and Jess and I are revving up to introduce our next book. We are working on some really special stuff (you won’t believe this, y’all. Jess and I are speechless at the way the Lord has opened doors for us and we think you will be just as excited).  I don’t want to give too much away but I will post when we get a couple more things nailed down. As always, our heart for the book club is that anyone who can’t afford to purchase the book will receive one for free. Since “Crazy Love” was our first one, we had to try and figure out how to navigate it and we feel like we have a good plan for this one to go smoothly.  The publisher has already been a joy to work with and has shown us generosity we were not expecting. In addition, every time you purchase items from Amazon from my site (if you follow the links in my posts), I make a little percentage and that money goes to provide books for people who can’t afford them. We have quite a little stockpile set aside for books and shipping and we are so looking forward to digging in with you all.  You can sign up for Bloom here and get updates that way as well.
All in all, Todd and I are pretty low-key these days and it’s been nice to sit still. It’s not something I do very often and sometimes God just has to take me out of the race for a while to catch my breath.  Todd has has a few dates this month and we are planning to do a Spring tour (Selah singing, me speaking, and an opening singer…not sure who yet but the options are all stellar artists). It will be great to all be together doing something we believe in, and if you are interested in booking the tour, click here to contact David Breen. 
And now for the random question of the day…
I know we’re all on a budget this Christmas, but still want to give meaningful gifts to people. I try not to be a boring gift-giver but I feel like my brain is fried and I would love your help (and I bet others would too!!!). So, I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for gifts that won’t break the bank.  Homemade? Great online deal? Ministry opportunities? Anything you can think of. This is my favorite part of having this blog because all of you have such great thoughts and I get so many emails from people who were inspired by other’s comments. So thank you in advance for your contributions!!!!
And, to sweeten the deal a little, let’s make this one a giveaway…go ahead and leave a comment and I will choose 2 people to win a little something fun this holiday season…
Guess where I’m going tonight? To my favorite bookstore (Davis-Kidd) to hear the Pioneer Woman speak about her new cookbook. Hmm, wouldn’t you love to have a copy?!?!?!?!
:)
Much love, 
Angie

Permission to Hope

Hello all! For those of you who have loyally clicked over to check in on me, I sincerely apologize for not writing sooner. This pregnancy has really taken the wind out of me. I have always been sick when I’m pregnant, but usually it would just come over me and as soon as I threw up it would be better. This time I feel nauseous all the time and do spend a fair amount of time trying to keep things down. I started taking some medication and it has helped a lot. Hopefully it won’t last too much longer (I’m about 10 weeks).

It has been really difficult to go through this again, and I really covet your prayers as we face our fears. I know that the Lord is trustworthy and that I can believe in His goodness but it’s not easy. Yesterday I spent a long while crying on my closet floor as I processed the fact that I need to pull out my maternity clothes again. I think I am reliving things in a new way as I sort through the things I wore with Audrey, tucked away in a corner I haven’t really faced. I have the kind of memory that can smell perfume across the room and remember sitting next to my third grade piano teacher while pounding out a horrific version of the love theme from Romeo and Juliet. She said I was really good.

She lied.

Turns out she was in love with my father (yes, we let her go shortly after gifts starting arriving for him…my mom was not about to eat the cake she sent). That was my last attempt at piano, and I assure you that the human race is better for it.

I remember little things people have said, the way hospital soap fills a room with anxiety, the exact expression Todd had on his face when he told me he loved me for the first time. It’s locked away in a little vault that opens with trigger points in my life.

Unfortunately, trigonometry, driving directions, and Spanish never made it into the vault.

I honestly feel like that’s one of the reasons I love to write so much. It can get all tangled out and if I can just get it on paper it unravels a little and helps me connect the dots. The hard part about that is that I can’t run from it when it’s right in front of me. I have to dig around in my closet, past the wedding dress, past the girl’s linen dresses, and into the corner I have not wanted to face. I opened a vacuum-sealed bag of maternity clothes yesterday and I could feel her again. I screamed at God because I wanted her back so badly I ached. Todd came and found me there, face-down in my pain, clothes spilled all around me.

“This is the sweater I was wearing when we found out. This is the shirt I almost returned because we got her diagnosis and I knew I wouldn’t ever be big enough to wear it. This is a nursing gown I never got to wear, this is the dress I bought for the photography session…”

They are just clothes, I know.

But they were a part of my life with her.

I needed to have a little meltdown. I’ve been moving along as if I could get through it without feeling this, and I can’t. I’m just not going to bother to try anymore because it isn’t going away. I really want you all to know that I have struggled in my walk recently. It isn’t that I don’t believe or trust in the Lord. I do. I just haven’t been as disciplined as I should be with my quiet times and spending time in the Word. It isn’t like me to retreat so much, and I finally realized yesterday that there was a part of me that just felt like going it alone because the last time He let me down.

Is it false thinking? Absolutely. No question satan wants me to be convinced that I am better off on my own, trusting that doctors and logic will sustain me. I confessed this to the Lord, and I confess it to you all. Many times I have shared about my spiritual life, urging you all to be disciplined and faithful, and I owe it to you to tell you that I have just not been there in the last several weeks.

Truthfully, I have not felt permission from the Lord to write on the blog because I knew there was a disconnect between what I wanted to say to you and what I felt. I know He wanted me to focus on Him, and sometimes that means stepping away to get my priorities in check. I don’t want a ministry if I’m being hypocritical or false. So, all that to say, I am working to get back in my groove… :)

I want to believe that this time is different, and I do feel a peace about everything. The night before my first appointment (I even switched doctors because it was so hard to think about going back to mine) I started letting my thoughts get away from me. I pictured the room, the gel, the screen. My heart was pounding and I pleaded with the Lord to give me a sign of hope. Lord, you don’t have to tell me the baby will be fine, and I don’t expect you to. But would you just let me know You are there? That you haven’t let go of me?

There was a time of great hope during my pregnancy with Audrey, when an ultrasound seemed to conflict with her diagnosis. A few weeks after we learned she wouldn’t survive we were surprised to see that many of her original diagnoses were not what they thought. That evening we went out to dinner for my nephew’s birthday and I photographed Kate asleep with a balloon in her hand. I posted the picture and said that when I saw her I knew that we were doing the same thing; against all odds, we were holding on to hope. I actually wrote about this event in my book because it was such a pivotal moment for me, and the picture of Kate is featured in that chapter. It was a symbol that the Lord used to remind me that He was with us and that we had permission to hope.

When the sweet technician did my scan a few weeks ago, she had the screen turned away from me. Todd could see it and he was trying to make out what was happening. We knew it might be a little early to see a heartbeat so I had prepared myself that we might not get that reassurance. Just after she started, she said “148 beats a minute!”

Oh, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you.

She continued to look at the screen while I looked at Todd. All of a sudden she giggled a little under her breath.

“Well I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before! That is so funny. Look at this, Angie.”

She started to turn the monitor as her words filled the gap in the room. She shook her head warmly and continued, having no idea how it would bless me.

“It looks like the baby is holding a balloon.”

I stared at her and then I took a look for myself and indeed, it was uncanny. I felt a peace come over me when I saw it because I knew He had done it for me. He hasn’t forgotten how much it hurt me and He knew I would understand Him. I felt my eyes get hot as I thanked Him for letting me sense Him so strongly in a moment I needed to believe He was there.

She repeated herself and I nodded.

He isn’t so big that He can’t find His way into an exam room. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I agreed with her.

“It does look like the baby is holding a balloon.”

I let out a 2 years-long sigh and finished the sentence in my head.

And so are we, Lord…

So are we.

With love (and great hope),
Angie

(Also, you may have noticed I added a link on the left sidebar to Amazon.com, where my book is now available for pre-order. Isn’t the cover beautiful? They did a great job :) )

SSSSOOOOOOOOOO….


I haven’t blogged in a bit, and it’s due to several reasons.

Due to the fact that I have been taking a little electronic hiatus.
Also due to the fact that I have been busy wrapping up the book (it is done! I had a couple grammatical errors based on my intense, aforementioned love of the comma). My editor believes there is hope for me, and I will begin my ellipses detox very soon.
It is also due to the fact that I have been doing some fun speaking stuff (never thought I would say that, but thank you to Lifepoint church for embracing me and giving me a glimpse of my calling. You will always be a part of my story and I am so blessed to have shared a weekend with you).
Additionally, it is due to the fact that our house is still for sale, and we decided to bail on the house we had made an offer on. We now have an offer on another house, which is contingent on ours selling. Oh, how we wish it would sell!!!!
In due time, I will resume my writing, and I already have several things I want to share with you.
Finally, the main reason I haven’t been focusing on my blog is that I have been sweetly blessed and am so excited to tell you that I am, well….
DUE.
:)
Please join us in praying…we love you all!!!!
Ang

Audrey Caroline is Here

Audrey Caroline Smith was born at 4:31! When she was born, she made a few squeaks and noises, so Angie and Todd immediately knew she was breathing and alive. Audra said that she is simply beautiful and looks a lot like the twins looked when they were born. She has fiery red hair, weighs 3 lbs., 2 oz. and is 15 inches long. However, Audrey’s heart rate is very low and they are expecting to her to pass, but have not indicated how long she will live. Right now, everyone is simply spending time loving her.

Todd just gave her a bath and they are going to take some photos with her.

Angie is doing very well and is so joyous to spend time with Audrey. Audra said that she looks radiant. Abby, Ellie and Kate have not met her yet, but will hopefully be at the hospital to meet her soon.

Please continue to pray for Audrey and the Smiths during this special time they have together. I will post an update again when I receive one.

Thank you for your compassion, love, prayers and support.

Jessica

4:00- Angie Is In Surgery

Angie just went into surgery. It is 4:00 central time. Audra will call me as soon as she is out, which is expected to be around 5:30. I will update you all as soon as I hear anything. I have chills and am trying to hold back tears as I write this. Please continue to pray, dear ones. We know that God hears them all and as the bible says, will work for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28).

Prayerfully yours,
Jessica

2:00 Update

This is Angie’s friend, Jessica. I will be updating this blog on behalf of Angie in the days ahead. You each have become so important to her. Thank you for your prayers, kind words and interest in Audrey’s story. None of it is taken for granted.

Angie and Todd will be arriving to the hospital today around 2 pm central time. Her c-section is scheduled for 4 pm. Please be praying for these next hours of preparation – for Angie, Todd and her family, as well as for the medical staff that will be caring for Angie and Audrey.

Angie’s friend and Audrey’s namesake, Audra, spoke with Angie this morning and said that Angie is doing very well, all things considered. She was very calm and peaceful. Todd shared a similar report with me about an hour ago.

I will do my best to update again soon. Thank you again for your prayers.

Peace,
Jessica