March 2013: After being engaged for over two years, Justin and I finally began to bring up the conversation of planning our wedding. We (I) started to research venues, caterers, dresses, etc. and really began to get the ball rolling.
August 24th, 2013: Justin and I woke up at 5:ooam to host a yard sale at our home. While moving things outdoors and setting up, I remember complaining of stomach cramps – something I had been experiencing off and on for a couple of weeks. I brushed it off and kept on trucking. Once the yard sale was over and we began to move all of the leftover items indoors, I, again, began to feel the cramps. I believe it was Justin who brought up the idea of, “Hey, maybe you’re pregnant?”. I quickly shot that idea down with a quick “nah” and figured it was my period finally deciding to show up (I was about two weeks late at this point), although I didn’t hesitate to comply when he offered to go pick up a pregnancy test. We weren’t trying for a baby but we weren’t exactly being cautious either.
Two. Pink. Lines.
As Justin stood outside the bathroom door, eagerly awaiting the result, I instantly began to cry when I looked at the test. I simply couldn’t believe it and felt every single emotion come over me at once. I threw open the door and sobbed, “I’m scared and I need a hug!” – I will remember that feeling and those words for the rest of my life. My mind was racing and to be 100% honest, I truly was scared to death.
I called my sister, Mom and Dad instantly to break the news. I wanted to have them share in our excitement as well as to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I’m not lying when I say I was absolutely terrified. After sharing the news with both of our immediate family’s, the idea of being pregnant became real and I was able to calm down a bit and enjoy our exciting news! One of my best friends, Amanda, came to visit shortly after my initial shock wore off and in seeing how excited she was, it made me even that much more excited.
Within a week of finding out the big news, I began to feel the dreaded symptoms of “morning sickness”; unfortunately for me, this was “all day, everyday, morning, noon and night sickness”. We visited the doctor the following week and we were able to see our baby for the first time. It was absolutely amazing and something that we will never forget. We also found out that I was almost 9 weeks along and I remember (ignorantly) thinking, “Woo-hoo! I already knocked out 9 weeks!”. Little did I know that the 32 week road ahead would be long and rough.
On October 3rd, just 2 weeks before our wedding, we went in for our monthly checkup and heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I remember looking at the pure love on Justin’s face and seeing tears of happiness as we heard the most amazing sound of a life that we created. While completely stressed about our out-of-town wedding, my dress that had yet to arrive and settling last minute details, we didn’t have a care in the world for those 5 short minutes we were looking at our little baby on that monitor screen.
Our wedding came and went. The day was absolutely beautiful and it was so fun to be able to celebrate, not only our day to say “I do”, but also the fact that in a bit less than 7 months, we would be bringing a little one into our lives.
Justin and I are not known to be patient people, so we were already looking forward to our 3-D ultrasound scheduled for J’s birthday the following month. We invited my Mom to go with us to the gender reveal ultrasound and it made me feel so loved having her there. We all had a feeling it was going to be a girl and guess what……we were right! Charlee Marie was looking healthy and strong on the monitor as we all cried and congratulated one another. That had to be one of my favorite days throughout my entire pregnancy. We instantly went to Carter’s following the appointment and picked out the cutest little girl clothes for our sweet little one.
As I said, my pregnancy wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I thought I was going to be one of those women who absolutely adored being pregnant and cherished every second of it; unfortunately that was not at all the case. My emotions were off the wall, I felt nauseous 24/7, my brother-in-law moved in with us, I felt bad for taking time away from our business and I felt horrible guilt for the amount of time I spent on the couch or in bed. Guilt plagued me throughout the last 4 months of my pregnancy. I felt guilty for taking time off, I felt guilty for sleeping, I felt guilty for not cleaning consistently, I felt guilty for being in a foul mood and the most intense guilt came from me feeling horrible for not enjoying being pregnant; I would even tell people that I hated being pregnant.
While at the doctor’s office for my biweekly checkup at 36 weeks, my midwife recommended I visit Duke to get a Level 2 ultrasound. I had received a Level 2 ultrasound at around 18 weeks because I was labeled “high risk” due to increased blood pressure which later turned out to be diagnosed as “white coat syndrome”. I made my appointment for the following day.
Justin and I headed to the office and waited in the scorching hot waiting room. It took forever to be seen that day. We finally got called back and went through the normal ultrasound procedure. The technician walked us through what she was seeing and even showed us that our sweet little one had hair! We were beyond excited as our due date was getting closer and I remember being so darn excited that our baby was going to make her entrance with a head full of hair (which she most definitely did!). The technician left and the doctor came in shortly after. She was very friendly and sat down to go over the ultrasound scan. She began by saying that everything looked “beautiful” and Charlee’s organs were doing great. She even went on to say that our baby was a “showoff” in the fact that she was doing lots of practice breathing in my belly. The conversation was fun and light and lasted about 5 minutes. Quickly the mood changed when the doctor took a breath, looking at both Justin and I, and asked, “Have you ever heard of Skeletal Dysplasia?”. My heart dropped and I instantly felt tears well up in my eyes. I looked over at Justin and he seemed to be calm which helped ease my immediate shock. We told her that we were unfamiliar with the term and she responded with, “Dwarfism”. Again, I felt like I was going to be sick and was no longer able to keep back my tears. She told us that Charlee, who was at 36 weeks and 5 days, had very short arms and legs and that her torso and head were measuring a week or so ahead. Charlee’s precious little arms and legs were measuring right around 30 weeks and her head and torso were around 37.5 weeks, making quite a large gap between her limbs and body. The doctor went on to say that since Justin and I are short that maybe Charlee is destined to be short as well and even joked that she probably wouldn’t be able to play in the WNBA. I felt a bit of relief that the doctor was able to crack the joke and hoped that Skeletal Dysplasia was something that we wouldn’t have to worry about. The fun and light conversation quickly came to a halt when she started naming off different types of the disorder, saying which type Charlee would most likely have and saying that she would most likely live a “normal” life being that her organs looked great and they were of no concern. Charlee will just be short…whether she’s 2’3″ or 4’10”.
Justin and I left the appointment feeling like we had been run over by a bus. We got into the car and I immediately broke down. I began to question everything, feeling lost and hopeless. Thank God I married one of the strongest men on this Earth because without him, I would still be sitting in the Jeep crying my eyes out I’m sure. We took a minute to discuss what just happened and I called my Mom upon leaving. I, of course, broke down and had to give Justin the phone so that he could share the news.
The next two days were rough. Justin and I didn’t leave the house and could barely drag ourselves out of bed. We would sit in Charlee’s beautifully decorated nursery and just cry while holding each other. Was it the end of the world that our daughter may have Skeletal Dysplasia? No, but it’s news that we didn’t take lightly.
I wasn’t scheduled to see my OB until one week later but called in to see if I could be bumped up so that we could discuss the ultrasound. Justin and I went in and while he was a bit more optimistic than the previous doctor, he did say that “This is the most extreme case I’ve seen”. Once again, we felt as though we were going to be sick and I couldn’t fight back the tears. We asked if there was anyway that we could find out 100% if Charlee was in fact going to be born with the disorder and unfortunately the answer was no. We just had to wait it out for the remaining 4 weeks.
The 4 weeks actually turned into 5 weeks because apparently Charlee was quite cozy in my belly. We didn’t really tell anyone about the gloomy news because we didn’t want it to be in people’s minds when it was time to bring Charlee into this world. We didn’t want people looking at photos thinking, “Hmm..does she look like a dwarf? Does her head look big? Her arms and legs DO look a bit short!”. We wanted people to be thrilled and excited, looking at our beautiful daughter with admiration, not judgement and fear.
I was put on bed rest at 38 weeks after visiting the hospital with preterm labor symptoms. Little did I know that we would be in and out of the hospital 3 times before the big day finally arrived! At my 40 week doctor’s appointment, I begged for a membrane sweep but unfortunately was not dilated enough for them to even attempt this! I left feeling defeated and felt as though I was going to be pregnant forever (pregnancy throws all rational thinking out the window).
I was scheduled to be induced on May 5th, 2014. Everyone (especially Justin and I) was so excited that we finally had a date and we KNEW that Charlee would be making her arrival very soon! After a long and miserable pregnancy, I was beyond thrilled to be so close to meeting my little girl. The little girl I had dreamt about, whose adorable little clothes filled up the nursery closet and head full of hair I couldn’t wait to touch….regardless if she had Skeletal Dysplasia or not.
(Birth Story coming soon!)