Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Blake Story: Part VII (8 weeks after)

March 11, 2015 

Dearest Family and Friends- 

I cannot believe that it has been 8 weeks since Blake was born... on one hand it feels like just yesterday, especially when the heartache comes in a wave that feels fresh and raw. And on the other hand, it feels like I have walked for years with this grief, and am ready for it to go ahead and pass on by. And the truth is just somewhere in the middle... this journey has been way longer than 8 weeks, and yet it is only just the beginning. The grief and heartache will always come in waves. We are also finding that there is no such thing as "back to normal"- there is only a new normal. This new normal has whole new levels of sadness, but also whole new levels of thankfulness for what we do have. It has our happiness and joy based in something so much deeper than our circumstances, and for that I will always be grateful. Rob and I are good- with our good and bad days like everyone, but have continued to be able to love one another as we learn about the grieving process daily. Jane is doing great as well. Her little life has carried on normally, thank goodness. We talk about our Baby Blake pretty often, and I feel that she understands as best a 2 (almost 3!) year old can. As painful as his memory can be, it's also so sweet, and I love getting to talk about him with her. 

Thank you for the ways you have continued to love us. For the countless cards that showed up in our mailbox, telling us you were thinking of and praying for us. For the hundreds of texts and emails reminding us of how loved we are and how you are continuing to carry us. For all of the meals and treats you have provided- making that one less thing I had to think about (and one more reason I needed to start running again :)). Just thanks for loving us, and helping us feel as normal as possible. We thank God for the people who love us every day. 

Since before Blake was even born, I would think about how exactly we would honor him if he passed away. How do you honor a life that was SO short yet so precious? And how would we do it in a way that felt true to who we are and the journey we are on? What in the world do you do to signify/celebrate/mourn the most significant event in our lives? After we met our precious son, and then said good bye to him less than 24 hours later, it became a real thing we had to think about. Instead of rushing into planning something, we just decided that we were going to wait. In my mind, whatever we did was going to be when it was springtime, when things were turning green again. And just wait until it felt right....

Which brings us to now... even as I write this, there is a warm spring rain going on outside, and will probably stick around all week. The days are longer (can I get an Amen! for Daylight Savings Time?!), and I feel all the sunshine and new life are just around the corner. 

On Sunday, March 29th, Rob and I would like to invite anyone who wants to join us for a simple and sweet memorial for our Blake. We are planning to have it at Shelby Bottoms Greenway in Shelby Bottoms Park. There is a trail here that we would like to take a little walk around as a group.... a small way to signify the "journey" we have been on and will continue to be on, and that we are not doing it alone but with a precious community of family and friends around us. During this walk, we want to all have time to think of and remember our precious Blake, and hope to scatter some native Tennessee wildflower seeds in his honor. After the walk, we plan to plant a couple of small trees in the children's "Nature Play" area in Blake's honor. I love the thought of spreading seeds, and planting things in his honor. It seems so appropriate to me in so many ways... signifying hope, new life, and growth. I also love that this is happening in a park that we spend time in often. Rob and I both love to walk and run there, and take Jane there often to play. I love that we can see trees and flowers there, and they will always remind us of Blake and allow us to talk about him together with so much sweetness. And also that the people in our community that have all been impacted by his life, can always go here to think of him and celebrate his life.  

Being outside, even on the coldest, iciest days, has been a huge part of my healing. It gives me space to think, and remember how small I am, and how very big my God is. It always helps me center myself, and remember the things I find to be true and important. I love that we get to honor our son's memory in the outdoors, and in a park that is so near our home,and such a regular part of our life. It has already been so sweet to put thought into and plan this special day, and we are really looking forward to celebrating his life in this way. We hope you can join us. 

A couple of logistics... 10:00 am on Sunday, March 29th, we will meet outside the Nature Play area (rain or shine... though you can go ahead and pray for some shine!). We will then walk the 1.25 mile paved loop together, so wear comfy shoes, and feel free to bring strollers if needed. We only have a couple of trees to plant, but please feel free to stick around and help do that, as well as let the kids play and hang out. 

As much as we want every single person we love, near and far, to make it, we know that's impossible. We absolutely get it if you have something already going on that morning, or why you can't buy a cross country plane ticket on a 2 week notice :). We know you will be there in spirit and thinking of Blake right along with us. 

All our love, 
Rob and Lara 

The Blake Story: Part VI (His Arrival)

January 19, 2015 (Blake's Actual Due-Date/His one week birthday)

Hello All- 

This email is being written about 5 days (make that a week) later than I had originally planned. Our friends and family have been an unbelievable support to us, and we really hoped to keep you all updated as much as possible. As we all know going into this, things never go quite as we plan, and we have continued to learn this each step of the way. I feel like we were able to communicate with some people, and then the rest of you spread the word to one another. The reason we know you know is the way you have all reached out to us in emails, texts, calls, food, and just lots and lots of love. Thanks for all the ways you have expressed your love to our little family. To each of you, thank you... for each call, text and email that may not have been answered. They have been read, and have made us feel loved and supported at every turn. 

So, for our story.... Last Monday, we arrived at 7 am for our 9 am c-section. Due to a couple emergency cases, ours was bumped and I didn't go back to the OR until after 11. I was actually far more anxious than I thought I would be, and the actual surgery was pretty stressful for me. Everyone taking care of me was so amazing, and they all did everything they could to put me at ease. All I can say, is when a certain moment is discussed, and planned, and dreaded, and anticipated, for 6 months.... it is VERY intense when that moment is actually happening. Blake Danger made his entrance at 1205 pm on January 12. He came out a little roly-poly, just like his sister, weighing a little less, at 7 lbs and 12.5 oz. And also just like his sister, had strawberry blonde hair- only he had a FULL head of it!! We were able to see him right after he came out due to a window in the drape, but the NICU immediately whisked him away to take care of him. He was not crying when he came out, and we were very aware right away that the situation was pretty serious. They took Blake to the NICU almost immediately, and we were able to see he had a breathing tube in. He was awake then, and we could see him looking around, which was sweet. Rob went to be with Blake while they finished up my procedure, and my nurse/dear friend, Anna, and midwife Annie sat with me the entire time. I can't imagine them not being with me- they were talking to me and comforting me, helping me to stay calm and centered. They then took me back to my room to recover for a little bit, and Rob joined me back there. The NICU was getting Blake all set up, and Rob was able to come and show me pictures of Blake. The NICU doctors came to talk to us as soon as they were able, and told us almost immediately that Blakewas very sick. They confirmed with an X-Ray that his lungs were very tiny, and he was immediately needing complete respiratory support. By this time, I really wanted to go see Blake, but we had to wait until I started getting feeling back in my legs. Those minutes crept by for us... Rob was wanting to be with both me and Blake, and I know it was so hard for him to care for us both. (And he was and continues to be absolutely amazing, for all of our little family). By the time I was able to get up to go see Blake, I started to feel pretty nauseated. I got to go to the NICU and see Blake, hold his little hand, and talk to him for a minute. However, I was feeling very sick, and they had to take me back to my room. The rest of the evening was a blur... I was sick, and completely exhausted, and we had what feels like 20 different people needing to talk to us. We were able to talk with the neonatal nurse practitioner, and she talked with us pretty extensively and honestly about Blake's status. She was not able to tell us exactly how much time we had with him, but she did tell us that it was not a long time. His little lungs were getting as much help as possible and he was still not able to give his body the oxygen that it needed. She mentioned that they had drawn some blood, and were going to be running more tests throughout the night. They had taken some pretty extensive x-rays of his entire body, and were also waiting to get these read. Pretty shortly after this, a geneticist came in to talk to us. He felt that they were able to tell from the blood drawn and the x-rays that Blake had a condition called Hypophosphatasia. This is a very rare genetic disorder, affecting about 1 in 100,000 newborns, and it affects the way bones are formed. As we had already learned, it is very severe when present in a newborn, and not something that he could live with. Blake was making very clear to us, in every way, what he was capable of. We could see with our own eyes that he was working SO hard to breathe, and we knew that he would not be with us for long. This is obviously devastating... I'm not sure how I am even able to type this. It was a situation that we had been able to prepare ourselves for in some ways, but still did not make it any easier to hear, and see with our own eyes. By now it was 8 o'clock at night, and we are somehow supposed to get some rest. We were able to go back and spend some more time with our little man, before we went back to our room to try to rest. We slept for a couple of hours, but spent the night tossing and turning. The NICU nurse practitioner kept us updated on his condition throughout the night, and by about 4 am it was becoming more apparent thatBlake did not have much longer to live. We called both of our parents, so that they could come and see him, and made a plan to get Jane there as well. After much heartache and deliberation, we knew that we wanted her to meet her baby brother, who will always be a huge part of our hearts and our family's story. Jane was able to come, and we were able to take her to see Blake. She was pretty quiet about it, taking it all in, but we were so glad that they were able to meet each other. She left at about 8 or 830, and very shortly after, the NICU came to get us to tell us that Blake's little body was getting too tired. We went to the NICU to get him, and brought him back to our room. They took his breathing tube out, and left us to just be together. It was a precious time together, and is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. He passed away at about 925 on January 13th. We spent the rest of that day being together, making necessary plans, and just trying to get some rest. 

We finally came home on Wednesday. As anticipated, it was really hard to walk out of that hospital just the two of us. However, it was pure joy to come home to our bright, beautiful, joy-filled, curly-haired Jane. I have often wondered in the past 6 months if I would rather not know what was going on with Blake... If I would trade the 6 months of what-ifs and tears and ups and downs, for blissful ignorance. However, right now, I'm thankful for the knowing. Even if it was so hard for all those months to live in the unknown and always wonder what my future held, I was able to really enter in to what possibly lay ahead of me. I had thought about leaving the hospital, about seeing his room, about how we would talk about this with Jane. And as painful as each of those things have been, I have been so thankful that I was able to prepare my heart just a little bit for them. 

So many of you have asked about Jane... and have prayed specifically for her in all of this. Thank you. She has been amazing. She did great when she came to meet him- especially considering we drug her out of bed early to get her there. She was obviously very overwhelmed at all of the NICU equipment, and wasn't sure what to think, but she was sweet with him. She has since asked about him, and we have been able to have some really sweet conversations with her. The child life therapists at the hospital were really great in helping us know the best way to talk to a toddler about this. She seems to understand that Baby Blakeis not going to come home, but also knows that he is really happy where he is, and he isn't missing us the way that we miss him. We are early on in this journey, so continue to pray for us as we figure this part out. Blake is obviously a huge part of our story, and we want to honor him and remember him in our home... and want to know how to do this well. She is going to be going back to school 2 days a week this week, which I think will be great for her to get back in her little routine. 

As to how we are doing... We are sad. We are hopeful. We are broken hearted... at times we are angry. We will always miss our Baby Blake, and he will always be a part of our family and our story. We are forever changed because of him. And our journey is kind of just beginning... We are continuing to take things just one little moment at a time, finding joy and hope in those moments without trying to look too far down the road. I am feeling pretty good- really thankful for some sunshine. Being outside and playing with Jane are medicine for my soul. Each day I feel better, and am needing less pain medicine, so that's always good :). Rob and I are continuing to learn about letting each other process and grieve in our own ways... but still feel like we are able to love one another, and just feel a huge togetherness in all this. I can't imagine walking through this without him, and am more thankful than ever to have him as my partner in all this. 

And as always, we are blown away by our friends and our families. For the ways you have loved us and walked with us in all of this. For how you have known when to step back and give us time together, and when we needed you to show up with some food and make us laugh and feel normal. It honestly makes me tear up every time when I think about how well we are loved. I just don't have words for it... So don't go anywhere, okay? :) We need you guys. It's pretty amazing to know and feel the love of God for us through the people in our lives. 

I have a print on my wall that I bought recently... and I'm clinging to it (among a lot of other truths) because I know it to be true. "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain". 

Love to you all. 

Rob, Lara and Jane

The Blake Story: Part V

December 31, 2014

Hi Friends and Family- 

We hope this email finds you well. That you had a fun and sweet time celebrating Christmas, and are ready to welcome this new year. I am feeling weary on a lot of levels and truly plan to keep this brief. 

I am 37 weeks pregnant and had my appointments this morning with both the midwives and then the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists. It was, I think, our last ultrasound and round of appointments and I feel very thankful to be wrapping this up. We have had amazing care, but I'm just tired of the process by now. Tired of the anticipation and the emotional exhaustion surrounding these appointments. I had been hoping over the past week that I was feeling little feet kicking my ribs and that Blake had decided to get himself out of the breech position he has been in since 20 weeks. I do think I've felt some feet kicking, but that's apparently because he likes them up next to his face!! Our little guy is still in the breech position, and I've just decided to be okay with that. Due to his positioning, and the fact that he is a little too fragile to try to reposition, they went ahead and scheduled my c-section for Monday, January 12th at 9 am. I will be 39 weeks pregnant exactly on that day, and this is what they think is the best route. They will take an ultrasound that morning just to be sure he hasn't flipped, and then go from there. I'm not going to lie... I've done a good bit of crying today. For all kinds of reasons... Because I'm tired of all this. Tired of getting my hopes up for something... anything... to change. And it doesn't. I want to feel like I've had just a small answer to my prayers. A c-section feels very invasive and scary compared to my experience with Jane. But I also know that there are some good things about this. We have a date to put on our calendars when we will be able to actually take the next step in what has been a long journey. It will be a pretty known and controlled environment, and maybe God knew I didn't need all the unknowns and what-ifs of labor. Either way, I am trying to look at it as positively as I can right now. The doctor told me today that no matter what happens as Blake makes his entrance, he will be taken to the NICU for very close monitoring and observation. It's good that we know a few specifics to expect on that day, and are thankful as the unknown becomes just a little more known. 

So, like I said.... we are weary of this process. But we are also trying to enjoy and soak up the moments in these next 10 days. To enjoy time together, to play with Jane, and just let life be as normal as possible. Thanks for continuing to love us and pray for us as we do this. Please continue to pray for Jane, that things can seem as normal and stable as possible for her in what feels very, very abnormal. That we will have wisdom and grace to deal with each situation as it arises, and we would choose what is best forBlake, for Jane and for us. That we will continue to know peace that is beyond our own understanding, and trust in the God who loves us and holds us and has carried us through this. 

We are continually overwhelmed at the people who are surrounding us and supporting us in a million ways. I feel like every single person has asked if there is anything they can do... and of course we just want your love and prayers. And if any specific needs come up, please know we will reach out and ask. We don't know how the day will unfold on the 12th, but we do plan on keeping you all updated as soon as possible. We do know that we will want to have time to be together and to process things on that day, and will reach out when we are able. 

Thanks for being our "people" and for making our lives so rich. We are thankful. 

Rob, Lara and Jane

The Blake Story: Part IV

December 1, 2014

Hello Friends and Family- 

It's hard to believe that it has already been 4 weeks since our last appointment. We both feel that these weeks have just flown by. Today's appointment was our shortest and we have the least to share, but still wanted to keep you all updated. Not to mention it's perfect napping weather in Nashville right now, and I'd like to get one in before Jane-girl wakes up. 

Today, we had our regular, every 4 week ultrasound and then met with our MFM doctor, Dr. Newton. Blake has been, and continues to be, in the breech position. This isn't a huge deal, but at the same time it is something I would like to see change in the next 4 weeks. Dr. Newton gave us every reason to hope that he could still turn himself if he wants to, but if not, we will be talking more along the lines of a C-section. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a huge deal, and not something we are super concerned about. At the same time, I would love to hope for a normal labor and delivery experience and not have to worry about a C-section on top of everything else (something to pray for if you think about it :). Being breech also makes him harder to get good images of, so we weren't able to get great pictures today, but the doctor saw everything he needed to. Blake is growing as he should be (in keeping with his history), and his measurements are all proportionally the same. There truly was no new news today, and we are thankful for that at this point. His chest and lungs are still the big question mark, and the only way we will know anything is after he takes his first breath. So. Here we are. One little day at a time until delivery day :). 

These past weeks have for sure flown by, but at the same time I think they have been some of the saddest and hardest for both me and Rob. I think we have both really faced the reality that things might not go as we all hope for little Blake... that we might not really know our little boy. It's a very hard reality to wrestle with or even try to understand. It feels very unfair, and makes NO sense to us at all. As I'm sure we all know, there are no answers, nothing to say that makes it better. And that is a messy place to find yourself. I think, even in the messiness, that we have both known the peace and love people have prayed over us. To be honest, there are times it feels impossible to pray ourselves, or even to know what to begin to pray. I truly believe God knows our hearts, and that He meets us right where we are. I know He is near to us, and is carrying us through what has been the hardest time in our lives. I know He is only going to continue to do this, equipping us one day, one moment at a time. 

Christmas season is in full swing, and I can already tell that January 19th will be here before we know it. In some ways, I am NOT ready. I want to just stay pregnant forever, where Blake is happy and healthy and moving around. And at the same time, I know we are both ready to know what we are actually facing. We are ready to take the next step in this process, which is meeting our baby boy, and then getting a better picture of what his future may look like.  The term "mixed emotions" seems pretty appropriate right now. Please continue to pray for us in all the same ways... For our marriage, that we would continue to love one another, extending grace as much as possible, and be able to open and authentic with each other. We really have been able to love one another well in all of this, and I am so thankful. Also, for our sweet Jane, that we would know how to parent her in all this. It is perhaps one of the most painful things for me... to know how to talk about Blake, and prepare her for a baby brother, when she may not really ever get to know him. I struggle with this for myself daily... how to prepare for this little life that has been given to us, but I have no idea for how long. It feels pretty heavy to elaborate on this any more, but I feel confident you all hear my heart in this... 

We wish you all the merriest of Christmas seasons. Advent has taken on a new meaning for me this year... preparing my heart in many different ways. I pray it is a sweet season for your families as well, and we would be able to see ALL the things we have been given, and focus on and celebrate those things. 

Much love, 
Rob, Lara and Jane

The Blake Story: Part III

November 5, 2014

Hey Family and Friends- 

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers that went with us today... and for the texts, calls and emails. We continue to be blown away by how well we are loved, and how supported we feel in every step. 

Today was our every 4 week appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) at Vanderbilt. This is a group of doctors specializing in fetal medicine, and who have been following us since 20 weeks, and will follow us and Blake until his delivery. All in all, our appointment today went well. There was no new news, and things on his ultrasound seemed to basically look the same as last time. I can see how this could seem like it might be discouraging, but it really wasn't for us- we both went into this just hoping that we wouldn't have new hard things to digest. The measurements of his bones all continue to be short. His head circumference is actually completely normal for his gestational age, and his chest circumference is still small. They weren't able to get great pictures of his ribs today, but they don't seem concerned, as the chest circumference is the most important measurement. His heart is strong, working just as it should, which we are thankful for. His heart is still taking up a larger percentage of his chest than it should, and this is what is going to be his biggest challenge, and one we cannot know anything about until he takes his first breath. This still feels just as scary, but we are thankful there were no new scary findings. The MFM doctor didn't have much to report as things are basically the same, and his words were to "stay the course". I am going to have my next ultrasound in 4 weeks, which makes it happening on December 1st. I am also going to continue to be followed by the midwife practice (who delivered Jane, and who I've seen throughout this pregnancy). They are telling me there is no reason not to think that I will be able to carry Blake to term and have a normal delivery (however, as we know, this can be very subject to change even with the most normal of babies/pregnancies). So far though, everything pregnancy-wise has gone great, and we are truly very thankful for that. 

The biggest part of our appointment today was spent meeting with the neonatologist, Dr. Walsh. He is the same neonatologist that consulted with us in our first 20 week ultrasound at MFM, and from that first time we interacted with him at that appointment, we both really liked and trusted him. He is the chief neonatologist at Vanderbilt, so he is incredibly experienced and intelligent, but is also very gentle and kind. We had a lot of confidence in him from the start, and were super grateful he was the one we were able to meet with today. He sat down with us for probably 45 minutes, and just talked through what things might look like for Blake after he is born. We went over the different scenarios that could play out, depending on Blake's lung size/capacity, and what steps would be taken in each scenario. It's a lot of details, and not easy to talk about, but there was something nice about actually getting to talk out what that actually will look like. We both feel very confident in his knowledge, and the plan we discussed, and both feel VERY at peace that our little guy is in great hands. He told us several times that he was so sorry for what we were going through, and even asked us about Jane, and how we plan on processing this with her eventually. We can't say enough great things about him, and how thankful we are that he has been the one involved in this process with us. He even personally walked us over to the NICU, so that we could see what one of the rooms looks like and all the equipment that could be a part of Blake's care. He also talked with us a little bit about the genetic testing that will be done after he is born. They plan to draw blood off of the umbilical cord (so they won't have to stick him), and send that away for genetic testing so that we can know if this is something we somehow both were carriers for and passed down to Blake (a pretty small chance of this). They will also do an X-ray after he is born at some point, which he said is also very helpful with the diagnosis of what exact skeletal dysplasia this is. There is still a lot of unknown in this department, but I don't feel like its something either one of us are very concerned about at this step in the journey. I do feel like they will provide us with more answers and information when they can, which will be after he is born. 

So, like I said, it was fine. Not easy, not super hard. Rob and I were able to have lunch together afterwards, and debrief a little bit together. It's really hard to walk the path of "if things don't go well".... but it's kind of nice to actually walk out in a factual way what that might look like. It didn't feel like we walked away today with more unknowns. Don't get me wrong, it still feels scary and unknown... but it was nice to break that down a little bit. 

I'll end this like I do every time... we are so thankful for you all. For our community and support system that is carrying this load with us... praying for us when we hardly know what to pray... making our lives seem as normal as possible. We are thankful for each other, for how we've been able to love one another as well as possible, and for also giving one another grace when we fail to do that. I really feel like we are on the same page, and I can't imagine how much more difficult this could be if we were not.  And as always, we are incredibly thankful for Jane- for how strong and healthy she is, and what a source of life and joy she is to us both. 

Thanks already for how I know you will continue to pray for our family, and think of us as we take each day as it comes. I really think this is only way to deal with things.... thinking two months (or even two days) down the road seems impossible to handle at times, but just today seems very do-able... You can keep praying just like you have- all the specifics I've talked about before remain just the same, and goodness knows this email doesn't need to be any longer! 

Much Love. 
Rob, Lara and Jane

The Blake Story: Part II

October 9, 2014

Good Evening Friends and Family-

I'm going to try to keep this update short and sweet (turns out I don't do "short" very well)... as there isn't much new to say, and I am so tired! It was another long day and long appointment at Vanderbilt for us. We arrived at 1030 and didn't leave until close to 2. We had much less time in the ultrasound room today, but had to wait over an hour to talk to the doctor. We met with a different doctor today, but he is another one of the specialists in the Maternal Fetal Medicine group. We actually really liked him. He was direct, yet kind, and I think we both really trusted him. 

Here are the basics... from the ultrasound we can see that Blake's limbs all continue to measure extremely short. There has been growth since last time, but they are continuing to lag at the same rate as before (less than the 5th percentile). They spent a good amount of time measuring the ribs and the chest, and looking for other specific markers that are present in skeletal dysplasias. His ribs continue to be on the short side as well, which is pretty concerning to them. They want his chest to be big enough to accommodate his heart, which is working great, and his lungs, which don't start to actually function until he enters the "outside world". The size of his chest and length of ribs put him in what the doctor said the "scarier side" of things. He basically said what we had heard before, which is that Blake will have to prove his lungs and chest once he is born. As you can imagine, this is pretty terrifying and scary as this basically leaves us not knowing anything until he is born. All we can do is pray... and take it one day at a time. More of the same :). We have another appointment on November 5th, at which we will have more ultrasounds and measurements, and then be able to meet with the neonatologist and discuss the plan for Blake once he makes his big entrance. 

Rob and I find ourselves just feeling more of the same emotions... we knew this was very likely what our appointment would be like, but you can't help to hope that this one will be different... maybe. just maybe, they can give us something positive, something better than last time. We feel tired of this process, and our hearts are heavy and sad. We know that there is still hope in all of this, and we cling to that. 

Thank you so much for all of your calls, emails and texts. For the love and prayers that we know you continue to offer for us, for Jane and for Blake. We feel so loved and supported, and truly know our support system is amazing and something to be thankful for. You can continue to pray for all four of us, just as you have been doing... That we will maintain hope, and be able to just take things one little step at a time. That we would continue to give one another room to grieve and process, as we do it differently. We truly have felt unified in this, and really able to love and support one another well, which is a really big deal. Jane is a huge source of joy and comfort to us, and want to be able to love and enjoy our time with her as much as we can, as well as keeping things as normal as possible. We don't know how to ask for prayers for Blake... we just long for grace and peace, and strength to handle each thing that comes our way. It's pretty hard to think about how to prepare, both physically and emotionally, for this little life that has been given to us, knowing how fragile it is... 

Please feel free to share this email/news with people who are asking. We welcome as many prayers as we can. We are also happy to talk about it, but also find that we want to carry on life as normally as possible- kind of a weird balance, so bear with us as we figure it out. 

We love you all. Thanks for loving us. 

Rob, Lara, and Jane

The Blake Story: Part I

Long time no blog... I don't know if anyone even looks at or reads this blog. But one of my goals lately has been to document on this blog the journey we have been on for the last 6 months. I want Jane and our future children to be able to read our "Blake Story" and this seems as good a place as any to put that story for them. I wrote emails every 4 weeks (after doctor appointments), and I feel like they accurately tell of our experience. 

A quick history:  We got pregnant (planned... and happened very quickly) with our second baby in April 2014, with a due date of January 19, 2015. Everything went according to plan until our 20 week ultrasound in early September 2014. We went to this ultrasound with Jane, ready to see our baby, and fully expecting to be told that "everything was perfectly normal". Needless to say, this is not what happened. We were told that our baby's bones were not developing the way that they should be, and were much shorter than normal. We then had a specialist appointment  on 9/9/14. This next email was the first update email that i sent.... 

For whoever reads this (if anyone), I want to say one major thing. God is faithful. He has proven that to us over and over again on what has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. And I know without a doubt He will continue to prove this. Our story is FAR from over... to Him be the glory. 

Friends and Family- 

I totally intended to have sent out mass text updates today, much sooner that this, but never do these things go as planned... I am just starting to learn this. Also, there just is more information than seemed appropriate for text. Thank you so so much for all the love and thoughts and prayers sent our way today. This was harder than I had imagined and yet I felt the peace and comfort that you have all prayed over Rob and me. Thank you. 

Our appointment was at 930 and we walked out of the hospital at 2. That's a long time, and we are both pretty exhausted. We started the appointment off with 1.5 hrs of ultrasound- which is a long time to lay and look at something and still not have any answers about what was going on. The only fun part of this long ultrasound was seeing that..... we have a BABY BOY!! We did not plan on finding this out, but after so much unknown, and some fear from me about bonding with this baby, I really wanted to know the gender. So exciting!  And of course Rob had the sonographer talking to him and calling him "Danger" before it was over :)

After the loooooong ultrasound, we went and sat in a room and waited for our doctor, Kim Fortner, who is a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor to come and talk to us. I knew just from the ultrasound that the limbs were still very small and abnormal. It was sweet for me to see a face and a perfect brain and heart... but I still felt uneasy. The doctor came in and broke down the ultrasound image by image, discussing everything we saw. Just as before, all of the limbs are measuring way behind where they need to be. The head and abdomen are all measuring appropriately, but the limbs are still lagging. She reinforced the the brain, heart, kidneys, etc all seem to be perfect. So with the skeletal abnormalities, this brings us a broad diagnosis of "Skeletal Dysplasia", which can take on 100's of different forms. The most common form is dwarfism, but this isn't exactly what we are dealing with either. The bones of the arm are both very small and the hands are postured in a way that we can't see fingers well... there are questions about how well those fingers are formed. And the femur (upper leg bone) is also way smaller than it should be. However, the lower leg bones and feet both seem to be normal sized. All this to show, that there is no category or specific diagnosis for what we are looking at right now. There is further genetic testing that can be done and is something we are discussing with these doctors. We had a major roller coaster of emotion just during this appointment... we actually had to go back in for more ultrasound pictures, and the head neonatologist came to consult with us. There was significant concern at first about the formation of the baby's ribs, and it seemed that they may be very short. However, after more pictures, it seems that they are okay right now. As you can imagine, this is terrifying. One minute, Rob and I were discussing and feeling the possibility that our baby may have something that can be fatal, and the next they are telling us it doesn't look like that anymore.... We are thankful for the thoroughness of the doctors and that they called in more experts and went back for more pictures. 

This is a lot of information... but I just felt that a text could not sum it up appropriately. We are going back in 4 weeks for another ultrasound, to follow up on bone development and growth. 

Until then, continue to pray for us and for this precious baby boy. That we will know peace and contentment despite some really scary circumstances... That we will truly be able to take it one day, one step, one minute at a time. That we will be present with our sweet Jane. That we will support and love one another well, as we all cope and grieve differently. 

Thanks for loving us and carrying us through this. 

Rob and Lara