Thursday, August 31, 2017

13 Years Ago...

13 years ago on this very night, I delivered our second baby girl.

An ultrasound done the day before showed that the baby was already measuring between 9-11lbs and my due date wasn’t for another 10 days! My OB didn’t want this baby getting as big as our first baby (10 lbs at 2 weeks late) so she scheduled me for an induction the very next day.

After having labored for 9+ hours, with very little progress, it was decided it was in my best interest to have a c-section. 

At 9:21pm, Rachel Marie Fraser made her grand entrance into the world. And what a grand entrance indeed. As my OB was delivering her (all 9lbs 5oz of her), it was discovered that Rachel had been born with an undetected birth defect not picked up on any ultrasounds I’d had throughout my pregnancy. 

I’ll never forget how Dr. Koch announced to the delivery team of her discovery. I’ll never forget the feeling of laying on that table knowing I’d just given birth to a child with an undetected birth defect. I’ll never forget the feeling of being left alone for them to finish stitching me up and stabilizing me while I insisted Steven accompany Rachel to the Nursery to be checked over. I’ll never forget laying in recovery, dozing in and out of a sleepy consciousness asking for information about the baby I’d just had. Just as I’m sure Steven never forget how it felt to carry our new baby down the hall, shielding her face from our eagerly awaiting family standing in the doorway of the waiting room awaiting the joyous news of a new arrival to our family. Just as he’ll probably never forget how it felt to tell our family of her birth defect.

It was close to midnight before I was wheeled into my room. Every one of our family members had left to go home except for my parents. They waited until I was in my room, to see me, to see that I was okay. I remember telling my mom we had quite a long journey ahead of us. Thus the name of this blog.

After they left, Steven crawled into bed beside me. We talked about what lay ahead of us with this new baby with a birth defect. We cried together. We wondered why after 8 months of praying for a healthy baby, that God allowed us to have a baby with a birth defect. We’d already experienced a very difficult baby hood with Hannah, in and out of the hospital with aspiration pneumonia due to a swallowing problem. THIS baby was supposed to be our easy baby. Our healthy baby. We prayed together over all that lay ahead despite our not understanding.

The days following Rachel’s birth were kinda somber ones. We were grieving for that ‘perfectly healthy baby’. We had friends bringing us stacks and stacks of information printed from the internet regarding Cleft Lips and Palates. We had social workers and case workers visit us with such little information as to when Rachel’s first surgery would be, etc, etc. We had so many questions and really no answers.

I had a friend who was a pediatric nurse at the hospital I was at. She scheduled herself to work when she’d found out Rachel’d been born with a cleft lip and palate. She was my nurse the day after Rachel was born. She took care of me. Anticipating pain meds, gave me meds that would help with some of the trapped air pain that followed c-sections and abdominal surgeries. She made sure I ate. SHE TOOK CARE OF ME. I will always appreciate that. To do this day, she holds Rachel very dear to her heart. She’s one of the few people, aside from family, that have seen how far Rachel has come in the last 13 years. 

It wasn’t too long after Rachel’s birth when we started learning about all the health problems that sometimes accompany cleft lips and cleft palates. We’d learned that God really had answered our prayers for a healthy baby. Rachel had none of the other problems that some kids have. Her problems were fixable through surgeries. 

Thirteen years later and I can tell you God has been there every step of the way. He’s guided and directed the surgeon’s hands in all of her surgeries (5 thus far directly relating to her birth defect), plus an appendectomy). He’s opened doors for an amazing Speech Pathologist and Orthodontist. And he’s given me plenty of opportunities to encourage, be supportive, and offer advice to mom’s behind us on this same journey through email, and through this blog. 

God’s got special things in mind for our Rachel. I was reminded of that today when her and I went to lunch for her birthday and she prayed for our lunch. She prayed for all the people who were without power (the city the girls go to school in were experiencing a power outage) and she prayed for protection for the firefighters we’d just seen battling a new fire started a couple miles from our home. She has a heart of compassion, she’s caring, and God’s gonna use her somehow to continue to bring Him Glory. 

So on this night, 13 years later, I’m reminiscing. I’m filled with emotion. I’m thankful that Lord always has us in His hands. Always has His plan in tact. And I’m thankful He chose us for Rachel’s parents. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A New Phase for the "I Am Hallway"

In October 2011, we were contacted by a longtime friend who works in the Marketing Department at Loma Linda University Medical Center about participating in a special new project, called the "I Am Hallway". People's stories were to be shared, each having the tag line "I Am" followed by a descriptive word for their story. These stories were to be displayed in the major hallway of the Medical Center.
Rachel's tag line is "I Am Beautiful".
Rachel next to her picture, January 2012. 
That hallway debuted in January 2012, where Rachel's picture hung for a couple of years, and then was moved to another hallway to make room for the next set of stories to be shared.
The third phase of that hallway debuted recently with yet another set of stories to be told. And today, I picked up Rachel's picture from my friends office. 

I'm not quite sure where we'll put it as it is rather large. Maybe someday Rachel will want to hang it in a home office or something. But one thing I do know is that we were honored to be a part of the very first "I Am Hallway" that shared just a little glimpse into Rachel's Journey. 

* My original post on the "I Am Hallway" can be viewed here.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Orthodontic Progress

Last month marked 3 years since Rachel started on this current Orthodontic phase. Because of the cleft in her alveolar ridge, her two front teeth were totally crocked and sideways. She was beginning to feel self conscious and even had some teasing from kids who'd not known Rachel all of their Elementary School life.

At that time, in order to start the process on turning those two teeth, she simply had two brackets. We watched those two teeth move quickly and we were left amazed at the progress. This picture shows the before and the after of the two brackets. 

Over time, she has had an entire set of top braces put on. For the last year (maybe longer) we've been waiting on this one tooth to make it's presence known. Wouldn't you know, two days after her last Orthodontist appointment, Rachel began complaining about her mouth. Sure enough that tooth was finally breaking through!! And thus our 12 year old was dealing with "teething pains". Wherever we went, I carried Motrin and Ora-gel to aid in her discomfort.

We saw Dr. Garcia on Friday. She was very excited to see that tooth had finally made an appearance and a new plan was put into motion to now bring it forward to align with the other teeth. 

The brackets that were on some of Rachel's front teeth had to come off so that new ones could be repositioned in order to put the new plan into action. This was the first time in 3 years we'd seen her teeth straight and without brackets! It brought tears to my eyes to see the difference in the before and the now.
She now has a coil from one tooth to another and and then a bracket on the new tooth tied to that coil in order to bring it forward. She had quite a bit of pain over the weekend, and thankfully stacking Motrin and Tylenol and staying on that regularly has helped.

This little mouth has come a long way in the last ::almost:: 13 years!