Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Counting Down

It is starting to feel more real.  It is starting to feel like there is a real chance of bringing lil' beastie home without hospice nurse visits.  That feeling of possibility has sparked a lot of activity around our little home.

We've been doing baby laundry, organizing the nursery, pulling things out of boxes, finding surprise Obie's Bees, preparing the house, visiting day cares, and getting our holiday gifts in order.  We are still putting off deciding on a name.

The mobile on the left and the blanket were purchased for Oberon, before we knew about his bees.  The mobile on the right we couldn't pass up because it has an Obie's Bee and a lil' beastie's Dragonfly.

Elizabeth is officially out of the office, though she's still working remotely for a few more days.  Chris will be working until Dec 17, then he's off for the year as well.

We can't wait to say goodbye to 2015.  While there have been some sweet moments, this whole year can fade quickly into a distant memory and we'd both be fine with that.  We'd much rather save space for memories from 2014.

As the calendar year ends, Elizabeth is getting closer and closer to full term with lil' beastie.  She's feeling pretty good physically, though emotionally the anxiety is getting more intense for both of us.  Even though Obie was born earlier in the pregnancy, Elizabeth was larger and more uncomfortable than with this pregnancy.  So far, it's really just been occasional back pain, shortness of breath, some tummy trouble and acid reflux.  Nothing too extreme.  The swollen hands and feet, wrist pain, and other common third trimester discomforts could start any day - but they haven't yet.

At 34+5.

We are lucky that our doctors are very understanding with us.  Elizabeth's regular OBGYN helped us identify a Pediatrician that would be good handling our situation (and probably heightened early parenting craziness).  Our high-risk doctor talked to us about whether we wanted to induce, knowing that families that have suffered a loss get very anxious near the end.  We've decided that we do want to induce rather than wait for the full 40 weeks (or however long).  If lil' beastie hasn't decided he wants out before then, we're scheduled to be induced the first week of January.  The exact date may change depending on how busy the hospital is, or if there are any changes in Elizabeth's or lil' beastie's health.

We would say we can't wait, but we can.  We don't want lil' beastie coming out too soon.

Now for some pictures!  We had a maternity session with Abby Alger Photography.  Abby is the photographer that took Obie's photos in the NICU and at our home through Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  It felt really awkward to set up the photo session, but once we were there it felt better.  We really wanted lil' beastie to have some nice pictures of our family when he was still in the bump.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Obie's First Bee Day!

Well, it happened.  One year since Oberon was born, his first birthday, and the first time we celebrated "Obie's Bee Day."  A few days after November 24 had passed, we talked a little about how it went.  It doesn't feel ok to say it went well or good, but there were some healing moments.  Some comforting moments.

It felt good to focus on Oberon.  It felt good to visit the place where we scattered his ashes, even if we couldn't hike all of the trails.  It felt good to scrapbook pictures of our darling boy.  It felt good to donate to The Honeybee Conservancy and FNIH.  It felt good to read cards that were sent to our house and open a few gifts.

Scrapbook Pages made on Obie's Bee Day

And it felt good to see the posts and messages tagged with #obiesbeeday on social media.  We weren't sure if we'd want to go on Facebook and Instagram on the day itself, but it turns out we did.  Elizabeth checked Instagram when she woke up, and saw numerous posts from an old dance friend who lives in the UK.  It was a sweet start to a tough day.

Throughout the morning, we saw more and more posts.  People wearing yellow, and thinking of Obie.  People spotting bees, and thinking of Obie.  People sent us pictures of bees their children made or drew, which was really special.  People wore their Obie's Bees shirts in all kinds of places - the office, school, volleyball, dance studio, in family photos, and at home.  It made us feel loved.  It made us feel that our son is loved.

We wanted to share some pictures from our hike in Uvas Canyon County Park.  It rained the whole time, but that was fine with us.  The waterfalls were more lively to see and hear, but it did make the going even slower.  Maybe next year on Obie's Bee Day, we'll be able to visit all of the same trails we hiked with Obie's ashes.  And maybe the sun will be out and we'll spot some bees.

Uvas Canyon County Park Waterfall Loop Trail

Uvas Canyon County Park Waterfall Loop Trail

Uvas Canyon County Park Waterfall Loop Trail

The days surrounding Obie's Bee Day we spent off work, visiting with friends here and there, and navigating Thanksgiving.  The first in a line of family-oriented end-of-year holidays.  It was good that we had friends lined up to have meals with, or see a movie, or do a puzzle.  It gave us a chance to talk a bit about both Obie and lil' beastie.  It got us out of the house for a few hours.

For Thanksgiving, we went to a friend's house for a potluck.  It was a bit of a potluck of attendees as well, which worked great for us.  We weren't the lone people not related to everyone else, we were just in the mix.  While we didn't stay long, we appreciated the meal and the time with friends.  And we especially appreciated the excuse to make a beehive cake!

Beehive Bundt Cake with Honey Glaze

All the advice we've been given for getting through milestones while grieving is to have a Plan A, and a Plan B, and maybe even a Plan C.  To have people on call if you want company, but make sure they understand if you cancel and want to be alone.  Have some ideas of what to do, but try not to beat yourself up if it doesn't happen.  Oberon's birthday and the surrounding days went more or less according to Plan A for us.  But I was so thankful to have Plan B in my back pocket.  We felt less pressure - and there can be a lot of pressure to make everything meaningful.

Being past it, there is a tiny sense of relief.  It was a day, and it passed.  We expressed our love for Obie in a variety of ways, and so did others.  We plan to do so every November 24.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Preparing for Obie's Birthday

One week until Obie's birthday.  It feels like a lifetime ago that we went to the hospital after Elizabeth's water broke.

We could spend hours and hours writing about all the things we should be doing or wish we were doing, if things were different.  But that doesn't change anything, and it just makes us more sad.  It focuses us on all the things we've lost by losing Obie.

The day Obie was born was not the best day of  Chris or Elizabeth's life.  Obie was taken to the NICU right away, there were tubes everywhere, and they just wanted to get to the point where they could take him home and start their life.  It wasn't the best day ever, but it was still a very special day.  We met Obie, he held our fingers, he handled surgery like a champ, and we heard his cry for the first time.

Obie right after he was born. 

After getting settled in the NICU on the day he was born.

His first birthday won't be the best day of our lives either, but it will still be a very special day.  We haven't finalized our plans of what we will do day of, because much of it will depend on how we feel when we wake up that morning.

There are two things that we are definitely doing to celebrate and honor our Oberon this November.  The first is we are going to re-run the Booster for Obie' Bees T-shirts.  We honestly weren't planning to do a second round, but we've been asked by enough people that we thought it would be worthwhile.  We've also added the new black T-shirt (for both men and women) design.

Obie's Bees - First Birthday Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - frontObie's Bees - First Birthday Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - front
Birthday edition - Black Ts for Obie's Bees!

If you'd like to get the original baseball T, or the new black T, you can order through the Obie's Bees Booster*.  Make sure you order by December 6th.

Sporting our Obie's Bees Ts from the first Booster.

Just like last time, all proceeds will go to some of Obie's favorite charities.  Which brings us to the second thing we are doing to honor Oberon on his first birthday.

We've decided that every year to celebrate Oberon's birthday we will donate to a bee charity.  While we love and will continue to support Obie's favorite charities, it feels right to us to do things a little differently for his birthday.  This year, we've decided to support the Honeybee Conservancy.  We liked that their website had helpful tips like how to plant a bee garden, to create a place for bees and other pollinators.  We can't start a garden at our current home, but we look forward to someday having a safe haven for bees right where we live.


The two charities that the proceeds from Obie's Birthday Booster will go to are the Honeybee Conservancy and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

If you would have bought Oberon something for his first birthday, we encourage you to consider a donation in his name and/or supporting his memory through Obie's Birthday Booster.  That's how we plan to look at it for the rest of our lives.  His birthday will come every year, and every year we will focus on him by honoring his memory and helping out his charities and his bees.  We hope you do too.

*If the link doesn't work, type into your web browser.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Obie Blankets, Because All Babies Deserve Blankets

In the early weeks and months after Obie passed away, it was hard to do things beyond the bare minimum.  We watched a lot of TV.  Slept.  Hoped time would go by more quickly.

One thing Elizabeth started doing a lot was knitting and crocheting.  Indiscriminate projects, just something to do to pass the time.  Mostly while watching TV.  It kept her mind occupied so she had at least a little escape here and there.

She made things for a hopeful eventual living baby.  Ours, maybe, or someone else's.  She made things that just looked kind of cool.  She made gifts for nieces and nephews.  She finished a project she had haphazardly started years ago and never finished.  She made a yellow blanket because she had yellow yarn from an old project.
Some projects Elizabeth made earlier in 2015.

Somewhere along the line, she decided she wanted to make a special blanket for Obie.  She had made a few blankets when she was pregnant, but they were general.  She wanted to make one that had Obie's bees on it, and obviously was yellow.

The Obie Blanket.

We've mentioned before that personalized gifts we received in honor of Obie meant a lot to us.  Especially in the beginning when we were looking for anything to hold onto.  Elizabeth had been talking a lot with a couple women who lost their babies around the same time we lost Obie, and she decided she wanted to make them blankets too.

That's how Obie Blankets started, and now she's made more than she ever expected.  It's therapeutic to make these blankets for other loss moms.  She gets to think of both Obie and the baby the blanket is for.  She gets to talk to the loss mom about her baby and things that make her think of her child.  And Obie's Bees get to fly all around.

Obie's Bees on Obie Blankets.

Obie Blankets always have a bee applique on the bottom right, and an applique that has a special meaning for the baby the blanket is for on the top left.  You can see pictures of all the blankets Elizabeth has made so far on the Obie Blankets page.

For Ellie, Emily, Edward, Meredith, Luna, Phoebe, Esther, Shaul, Annalise, and all the babies gone too soon.

If you want to make an Obie blanket, you can download the pattern here.  Please keep in mind that Obie Blankets are only meant for loss children.  Living babies can have all kinds of beautiful blankets (and so much else), but Obie Blankets are special to us.  They are very special blankets for very special babies.  Because all babies deserve blankets.  All babies deserve something special.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Awareness Month

We wanted to write a post to update everyone on how things are progressing with lil' beastie.  Like so much in our life right now, we can't really talk about the positives with his growth without also talking about more tough stuff.

We knew life without Obie would always be a balance between the life we had imagined for ourselves and the life we have.  We'd never be purely happy again, because there is an Oberon-shaped hole that can never be filled.  We may laugh and smile and feel joy, but there will always be tears in the corner of our eyes or a twinge of pain in the back of our minds.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Web sites we follow and communities we are in are extra active right now.  Elizabeth's parents went to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Remembrance Walk in Littleton, CO, Elizabeth and her mom have been participating in the online sharing event Capture Your Grief, and lots of people lit candles for Obie on October 15 as part of the wave of light on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  This extra attention and awareness is good, but it is also emotionally draining.

Obie's Grandpa & Grandma at the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk

 Candles for Obie as part of the October 15 wave of light

Some of Elizabeth's Capture Your Grief posts.  You can follow her on Instagram @il0veanne

We also got the horrible news that friends and a fellow loss family lost their baby in the second trimester.  We are so sad and have cried many tears for them, but we know too well that our emotions don't even begin to reach the depth of pain this family is going through right now.  One loss is more than any family should have to deal with, and subsequent losses are a different level of cruel.

Yes, it's awareness month, but right now we feel like there might be such a thing as too aware.  We are too aware of pregnancy and infant loss.  It can be too much.  It would be so easy to disengage and just focus on our family, blocking out other tragedies, but that's not good.  Insulating ourselves from hearing about other losses doesn't make this pregnancy more safe, and it doesn't help grieving families.  We know better than most that support can be difficult to find, and we can't stop offering it when the people in our lives are hurting.

We warned you.  Tough stuff.

Lil' beastie continues to have lots of appointments.  He's getting bigger now, and Elizabeth can feel him moving around every day.  Chris feels him from the outside a lot too.  He seems to like being active after meals, at bedtime, and in the middle of the night.  This has been very reassuring for us as we are reminded he's in there, he's real.

We're trying to be good about reading or singing to him every night before bed, and we are getting more consistent.  We still miss a night here and there due to exhaustion (emotional or physical), but we'll keep trying to get better.

Elizabeth still gets weekly progesterone shots, weekly calls with the high-risk for preterm delivery nurse, regular OBGYN visits once every four weeks, and perinatalogist visits also every four weeks.  At the perinatalogist appointments we get an ultrasound and a short meeting with our doctor.  They check lil' beastie's growth and his organs.  So far, everything looks as expected.  At our last check a couple weeks ago, lil' beastie was in the 57% percentile for growth.

October 16, 2015

Physically, this has not been an eventful pregnancy (which we are thankful for).  There have been a couple days where Elizabeth doesn't feel lil' beastie move as much, but we've gone to the hospital to get checked out twice now and everything still looks good.  The most recent trip was in mid-October, where we were reassured that lil' beastie's heart is beating, he's wiggling around in there, and Elizabeth isn't leaking any fluid.

We both got our flu vaccines, and Elizabeth is scheduled to have Tdap a little later, to make sure lil' beastie is as protected as possible.

Because of the risk of preterm delivery, we've had to cut back our activity level substantially.  Elizabeth isn't supposed to be on her feet or active for more than ~30-45 minutes at a time, so no more big hikes.  She's also not supposed to wander too far from the hospital.  We're not going to be flying anymore this year, and if we go anywhere in the next couple months it will be within a reasonable drive of a hospital with a good NICU.

Hiking in Big Sur in September, no more of this for a while!

Even though things are going well with the pregnancy from a medical perspective, we are still dealing with a lot of emotional stuff.  We are starting to try to do the things we should to be ready for a newborn, but it is very hard.  We need to start visiting day care providers, thinking up names, and revisiting things we may need to purchase.  It is not exciting like it was with Oberon, instead it's more scary.  It feels wrong to be thinking about this stuff again.  It brings up a lot of emotions of missing Oberon, guilt about focusing on the lil' beastie, anxiety that we'll prepare and be left with only is hard.

Where do we go from here?  We try to take it one day at a time.  On days when we feel up to it, we try to plan or take care of the things we should.  On days we don't feel up to it, we just snuggle, or cry, or watch mindless TV to distract ourselves.  We don't have our Type A personalities every day anymore, and for now that's OK.  Maybe forever.  And if it is forever, that's OK too.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Separation of Church and Grief

If you know us, you probably know we're both atheist.  We were both raised in pretty typical North American Christian belief systems (Catholic for Chris and Methodist for Elizabeth), but in adulthood we both stopped believing.  It wasn't because anything traumatic happened to make us "lose our faith," it just happened as a result of questioning the world around us and applying critical thinking to all our beliefs (religious, moral, etc. - no sacred cows).

Being an open atheist in the United States is not nearly as scary as in many other places in the world, but it's also not commonly accepted.  People assume something happened to make us "turn away" or they think we'll "come back" someday.  We didn't and we won't.  We're not mad at the Christian god (or any other gods).  We just don't think they're real.  It's more than a bit patronizing when people refuse to accept this about us.

The impact organized religion has on the world is far-reaching and complex, and this post isn't really meant to get into any of that.  For now, we just want to talk about how atheism impacts our grieving process.

We wouldn't say being atheist makes grieving more or less difficult, but it certainly makes it different.  We'd never judge what bereaved parents (or others) go through with regards to religious beliefs, but these sorts of differences can make connecting hard.  It's so ingrained in our culture to offer prayers and talk of heaven when loved ones pass away.  This brings comfort to many, but not to us.  If anything, it makes us shut down emotionally and we can't connect.

Most of the time, offers of prayers come from a place of love.  But to a person who doesn't believe in a god or gods, it can be perceived quite differently.  Some people go so far as to say they pray we'll find god.  That comes across as aggressive and completely unsupportive.  It's better to just say you're thinking of us or of Obie.  People who remember this (especially religious people) truly make us feel loved and supported, because they are taking time to offer us the support we need rather than the support they habitually give.

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory
We almost titled this section just "Heaven," but to us they are inextricably linked as concepts.  In some ways, I think we have an easier time with grieving because we aren't worried about where Obie's "soul" resides.  No part of us believes he's in purgatory with other unbaptized babies.  Just like no part of us believes any of our departed loved ones are burning in eternal hellfire.  Oberon is simply gone.  At rest.  Neither his soul nor his body exist anymore, similar to before he existed.  The one difference is his impact on our lives continues.  We loved him intensely for his whole life, and we will try to honor his memory for the rest of ours.

On the other hand, religious people can fall back on the idea of reuniting with loved ones when they themselves die.  This is a nice thought, and it's one we don't get to have.  When people talk about imagining their loved ones (and sometimes even Obie) running around playing in heaven, we withdraw.  It's similar to fantasizing about Obie having a life totally out of step with the one he had.  It may be nice to think about, but it isn't real and ultimately doesn't bring us true comfort.

It's Just Us
A lot of grief affirmations have to do with leaning on god or trusting god's plan.  We don't believe there is a plan, other than the one we make.  We didn't do anything to deserve Obie's medical problems, and we weren't meant to learn some cosmic lesson.  We can only move forward from here, knowing what we know and accepting what we don't.  By the same token, we don't have a supernatural being to rely on to make things OK.  We have to make things OK.  By telling our loved ones what we need, by supporting each other, by taking the steps we're ready to take, and by accepting it when we're not ready.  No one is going to save us, and there's no guarantee that what we want to happen will happen in the future.  We have to decide whether to move forward in spite of that.  It's scary, not knowing what will happen, but ultimately we think it's better.  We know there's only so much we can control, but we should do the best we can with what we have.  We won't wait around and hope things will work out, because there's no universal power taking care of us.  It's on us.

More Thoughts On A Grand Plan
With this subsequent pregnancy, things are going well and we are hopeful.  But we don't believe that we "deserve" this baby or that now it's the "right time."  It was the right time for us when Oberon came into our lives.  We didn't lose Obie for a reason, we didn't get pregnant again because it was the "right time", and no matter what happens with this pregnancy - it isn't a "grand plan."  It is what it is, and we'll have to do our best whatever happens.  Families who go through multiple losses do not have bad timing.  Families who go through no losses are not more deserving or more ready.  Sometimes, bad things happen.  Sometimes it's a direct result of action taken or the environment, and sometimes it's random and out of anyone's control.

Since so much of the support for the grieving is tied up with religion, we thought it was important to share a few secular resources we have found.  Online groups are easier to find than real life ones, and that can be both a benefit and a challenge.
  • Compassionate Friends - This group has no official religious affiliation.  Of course, it is a meeting of local bereaved parents and siblings, so there are people from all faiths and no faith.  Each chapter will depend on the people in it.
  • Grief Beyond Belief - This is a specifically faith-free support group.  They have a public facebook page, and also a private group for the grieving to have a safe space.  This is one of the only places we have found where no one offers default prayers or the common religious-inspired tropes discussed above.
  • Baby Loss Support for Agnostic and Atheist Moms - This private facebook group was recommended by members of the Grief Beyond Belief group.  It's definitely got a different tone, as the members often post memes and not everything is grief related.
We hope these resources may help others, like us, who grieve without religion.

McWay Falls in Big Sur, California

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Rainbow Connection

A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  We had never heard the term before Obie.  The first time someone said it to us was when the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer was at our house.  She said we could reach out to her if we had a rainbow baby, and we had to ask her what she meant.

It's important to remember that in this metaphor, Obie is not the storm.  Losing him was.  Obie brought sunshine into our lives from the very beginning.  He changed the way we see the world.  Losing him cast a gray cloud over everything, and at times it felt like we'd never see the sun again.  It's weird to talk about a storm as a metaphor for losing Oberon, because we both kind of like thunderstorms.  The soothing rain and thunder, the exciting lightning.  We were thrilled that it rained when Obie was home once, so he could hear the rain.  But in this case, a storm isn't something to enjoy.  It's something to weather.

After a storm, we hope for a rainbow.  A rainbow doesn't erase the storm that came before, and certainly doesn't erase the sunshine that came before that.  What it is, is a sign of hope for the future.

A rainbow from our Kaua'i honeymoon in September, 2012.

We know a rainbow baby won't replace Obie, but we also know that we are ready to be parents to a living child.  With that in mind, we want to cautiously announce that we are expecting our rainbow baby.

In Chicago, July, 2015.

It feels like putting some pressure on this baby by calling it our rainbow baby.  But at some point, we need to start being a little bit optimistic.  We aren't necessarily thinking about the future with lil' beastie very much, but we also aren't constantly expecting everything to go wrong.

Pregnancy after a loss is hard.  In addition to the physical symptoms, there are exhausting emotions.  We are trying to find a balance between grieving and remembering Obie, and preparing for the lil' beastie.  No matter when we got pregnant again, we knew we would be missing Obie every day, so it didn't make sense to us to wait any longer than the doctors made us.

We recently got back home from a trip to Michigan.  It was nice to see many of our family and friends that we haven't seen in months (or years).  One of the most important things we did was attend the Giving for Obie event at the Tilted Kilt in Sterling Heights.  Elizabeth's parents worked with the restaurant to set up the event, and a percentage of the bills from our attendees went to Obie's favorite charities.  It felt good to honor Obie in this way and to visit with the people who could make it out.  There were close family members, extended family members, old friends, new friends, and friends of friends.  It's amazing and comforting to have this kind of support for our precious son.  All in all, the event raised over $2,000 including the bill percentage, an extra donation from the Tilted Kilt, extra donations from some attendees, donations from people who couldn't make it, and some matching from Elizabeth's parents.  It makes us proud and happy to be sending this money along to help families like ours.

  Buttons that Elizabeth's mom made for the Giving for Obie event, plus some of Obie's Bees that were given to us.

Another special thing we got to do was take fancy family photos with Obie's aunt.  These are the first pictures of our family of four - Chris, Elizabeth, Obie bear, and lil' beastie.

Our attempt at a family feet picture.

 The four of us, photos by Sandra Joanne Photography.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to talk directly about Oberon and how we're feeling.  This is especially true when we are with the people in our lives we are closest to.  Oberon should be with us, and with these people, and it hurts so much that he isn't there.  Just because we aren't talking about him, doesn't mean we don't miss him.  It just means we can't take on the direct emotions at that moment, and maybe it means we can't take on someone else's grief right now.  That's one of the reasons the support groups we've been going to have been helpful for us.  Everyone in these groups is grieving a lost child, and that means we understand each other in way other people can't.  It doesn't mean we don't appreciate hearing when our loved ones think of Oberon, or how he has impacted their lives.  It just means maybe it's too much to talk about face to face.

We really do appreciate the support we've been getting from friends and family through this grieving process.  There are some really bad days and some better days.  Every day we miss Obie.  Every time someone brings up Obie to us it brings us a little comfort, even if it brings tears too.  He is our son and we love him all the time.

Some more information about this pregnancy for those who want to know:

When did you find out about lil' beastie?
May 16th, 2015.  Although we didn't know it at the time, Elizabeth has been pregnant for the last two Mother's Days.  We knew it both times for Father's Day.

Hiking Mission Peak in Milpitas, CA.

When is the due date?
January 18th, 2016.  Elizabeth is 21 weeks along.

What are the doctors doing differently this time?
Not a lot.  They don't really know what caused Obie's brain development issues, so it's a lot of watchful waiting.  They are checking lil' beastie's brain carefully at every ultrasound visit.  We visit the perinatologist (high risk doc) at least every four weeks.  Just like we did with Obie.  We have the same doctors this time around, and they are all very willing to see us for extra visits whenever we need some reassurance.

Because Obie was born preterm, Elizabeth is getting weekly progesterone injections.  Chris even had to give her one when they were in Michigan (he did great),

What tests has lil' beastie had so far?
  • We've finished the California Prenatal Screening Program, and lil' beastie's results are all screen negative.  That means the risk of conditions like open neural tube defects, Down Syndrome, trisomy 18, and Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome are low enough that no additional diagnostic tests are indicated.  This is the same result that Obie had.
  • A few weeks ago we had the second trimester anatomy scan.  This is where they found Obie's omphalocele.  They didn't find any abnormalities when scanning lil' beastie.  They looked closely at the brain, heart, and tummy.  Even so, the ultrasound technician and our perinatologist will keep close watch at future visits.  
  • We had an amniocentesis at the same appointment as the second trimester anatomy scan.  The results also came back with no abnormalities.  Lil' beastie has the usual number of chromosomes (none extra, none missing).  This confirms no Down Syndrome, trisomy 18, or trisomy 13.  This does not rule out other genetic conditions caused by mutations.  This is the same result we got with Oberon.  In fact, the follow up testing done on Oberon's blood didn't find any genetic cause for his Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.
  • One test we declined was the fetal MRI.  This test can show a clearer picture of the baby's brain.  After discussing it with our perinatologist, we decided against getting this test for now.  Ordinarily, an abnormality would need to be found on an ultrasound (or an inconclusive finding) to trigger a fetal MRI.  The only reason we were talking about it at all was because of Oberon's brain development issues.  It's possible that his issues developed later in the pregnancy, so we are going to monitor it closely on ultrasound, and only if we get some indication that something is abnormal will we consider a more intense diagnostic test like a fetal MRI.    
  • There aren't any more big tests on the horizon (except the gestational diabetes test for Elizabeth), just checking in on lil' beastie at least every month.

What kind of symptoms is Elizabeth having?
Just normal pregnancy stuff.  She has some digestive issues, sleep disruption, and exhaustion, but nothing too bad.  She's not having as much low back pain as she had with Oberon.  We are still able to hike, but we have to take it a little easier and make sure we have some shade.

She's also not feeling a lot of movement yet.  She has an anterior placenta which makes it a little harder to feel, but the flutters have started.  Hopefully Chris can feel lil' beastie soon!

Do you know the sex? 
Yes, and now so do you.

It's another boy!

Obie has his bees, does lil' beastie have something like that?
Yes, he has his dragonflies.

One of lil' beastie's dragonflies.  Sandra Joanne Photography.

How can I stay up to date on the lil' beastie?
You can follow Our Little Beastie Blog by entering your e-mail address on the upper right of this page.  We'll start posting a little more often about both Oberon and lil' beastie.

Elizabeth also has a weekly Bump Day Blog over at Pregnancy After Loss Support.  These posts are generally about the emotional journey of being pregnant after a loss.