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Mommy’s home and Valencia is halfway home!

Matt came to the hospital yesterday evening after I was discharged to finally bring me back home.  I was at the hospital for exactly five weeks.  I had to leave my little Valencia behind.  HOWEVER after we spoke to the resident, it was clear Valencia would not have to stay there much longer.  I was really ok with getting home knowing she was in amazing hands.

I planned on surprising the kids so they were at my sister’s when I got home and the plan was to bring them back to our house while I hid out in my room waiting.  Every night–every single night– Gabby sends me a text telling me:  “Goodnight, I love you, come check on us!”  She always said it too, before I went to the hospital.  But while I was in the hospital I told her I’d check on her ‘in her dreams’.  So, I had my phone while I was hiding waiting for her to text it to me and I had planned to sneak to her room and check on her for real!

It was nice to be able to first walk in without the kids here and get my bearings.  I always imagined it would be very hard and I kept thinking about how empty I would feel coming back home.  Empty tummy, empty arms.  But I didn’t.  I was so intent on focusing on the excitement of the other kids that I refused to let the sadness overtake me.  I love my home and that love was so great that I was ok once I arrived.

This is what I saw when I walked in:

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They thought they were coming to get me today so they had the sign all ready (thanks to Trina 🙂 ).  The other thing I came home to was a CLEAN HOUSE.  My sister is….incredible.  She has been organizing meals for my family, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, watching my kids, lending her kids to watch my kids…and on…and on.  So I was anxiously awaiting the kids coming home and all but kicked Trina out (she brought the kids home) so that we could pull off the big surprise.

Finally they went to bed and almost instantly I ran to Gabby’s room.  You should have seen the looks on their faces!  We did the same for Polly and Mae and everyone got up and we just had a snack and snuggled for a while before going to bed.

And then.  And then…I slept.  Well, first I talked briefly with Matt about Laurencia, though I just didn’t want to talk much.  I am realizing that I feel her with me every second of every day and that is how much I think about her too.  But when I really talk about her or look at photos or video, I’m right back to Monday.  So last night I just wanted to be peaceful and happy and I went to sleep.  Oh my goodness, I slept like I haven’t in at least seven months.  I didn’t hear a thing and I don’t think I moved a muscle.  It was amazing.  I think in the morning I was dreaming about Valencia’s doctor talking to us about moving her.

When I got up I made the kids some super deluxe yummy scrumptious cinnamon roll pancakes.  We had a huge brunch and we all got ready for the day.  And then we received a call from the hospital that Valencia was going to be moved to a very nice hospital which is SO MUCH CLOSER to our home and is in a beautiful facility!  This is HUGE.  Huge.  I had prayed all along for my health (that I would be ok) and for Valencia’s.  And as I’ve mentioned in the past, I told myself to be very cognizant of these two blessings should we receive them.  But the “bonus” thing I always prayed for was that Valencia would do so well that she could be moved to the closer hospital as soon as I left the hospital in the city.  I never thought it would actually happen this quickly!  I thought for sure I’d stay longer at the other hospital myself in order to make that happen.  BUT, Valencia is breathing room air, has no issues whatsoever and is only in the hospital so she can learn to feed and so she can grow.  That’s IT! Like I told my sisters, GOD IS GOOD.

There are so many things that could have happened to Valencia.  Cord compression could have caused neurological issues or she could have had respiratory problems among many other things.  And of course, she could have died.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this but the doctor who delivered her told us there wasn’t a single knot in their cords.  This is nearly unheard of for monoamniotic twins.  My best friend Rachie told me her son specifically prayed for this.  Thanks Ben 🙂  it worked.

We all went as a family to run some errands and go see our girl.  The place she’s in is like a luxury spa for crying out loud.  Dr. G calls it “The Grove” and told me how fancy it is.  I didn’t realize how right he was until we got there.  And oh how sweet all of the nurses were.  Every single person we ran into (even the girl at the front desk) knew all about the special delivery that arrived that day (Valencia).  It was so cute, like she was the queen arriving at the castle or something.

Here we are visiting our little pip:

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I brought her the two dollies that her Grandma Julie gave us and I put the hat that her sister wore on the Laurencia doll.  It breaks my heart but I know I need to do those things for her.

We visited for a while and fussed with her because we couldn’t get enough.

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We then went to church as a family for the first time in a very long time.  I thought this would also be very difficult.  But between Mae’s antics and trying to focus on the mass, I was generally OK.  I simply would not allow myself to think about what is going to happen on Friday.  It’s going to happen and so I will live it.  I had been living with anticipation of fear and grief for so many months leading up to their birth that I wanted to and tried so hard not to allow it tonight at mass.  That is of course until they announced a funeral that was taking place on Thursday.  So I braced myself, having no idea they would be next announcing the funeral of my very own daughter.  Sure enough, just like that, they did.  And I took it in and let it hurt and then gathered up my little family to go get dinner.

Father R’s homily was about humility.  [Yes, Father, it may have looked as though I was digging in my bag for something to appease Mae, whispering to Polly, figuring out why Wyatt was crying (ingrown toenail), reaching for the ring Polly dropped, getting a wipey for Bella, but I swear, I was listening!]  He talked about how humility is not being self-deprecating (uh oh) but rather not even thinking of oneself at all!  It was a great reminder especially considering the messages I’ve been getting.  I know each of you speaks from your own heart when you say such nice things to or about me and my family.  Your words of loving encouragement and kindness mean so much.  But the glory all belongs to God.  He may have given these very special girls to my family but anything good that I say or share comes directly from Him.

Missing my girl is foremost on my mind, but I am taking it hour by hour and figuring out how living without her is going to work.  It really was a beautiful day.  And I really was thanking and praising God over and over for the wonderful news of Valencia and for bringing me physical healing so that I can care for all of my babies.

Thank you all for everything.  I know that your prayers are working, I feel it every day.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  And, please don’t stop.  Not sure what I’d do without all of you.

God bless,

Katrina

Sacred

If there was a word to describe Monday, August 26, 2013 and what I, what each of us privileged to meet my girl, experienced, that would be it.  But really, I’ve been reluctant to even try to describe that day and those sacred moments because words will never even remotely come close or do them justice.  I already know I will fail but I am equally aware that it is my duty to document it for her sister and to share with you the holy moments of the life of our Laurencia.

I am, as I said, so privileged to be yet so unworthy of being her mother.  I pray that God continues to give me strength to share her in the way which most glorifies Him and most honors her life.  He shared her with me and for that I will forever sing His praises and be thankful.

The evening before the c-section I was alone in my room.  It was a dark time.  I desperately tried to pray and couldn’t form words. I was almost in a state of panic at trying to find the right prayer to pray or words to say.  I was, in a word, afraid.  And I know fear is not of God.  So I kept trying to repeat things I know and every time I faltered, a friend would send me a message of hope and of love.  “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

I began to say the rosary and wanted to focus on the Joyful Mysteries, but it was false, I couldn’t do it.  So I instead focused on the Sorrowful Mysteries and with each mystery, contemplated the agonizing path of Jesus in the Garden and on his way to his death.  And in a deep sense I felt what he was feeling, only not for myself, for my baby.  She was still a part of me kicking and moving.  I knew in a matter of hours she would have to make the ultimate sacrifice, my little lamb.  While I am not her, she was still connected to me and I was her only lifeline.  And not only was there nothing I could do to stop the ending of her life, I was playing a part in it, I had to.  They told us she could live, but only for as long as she remained connected to me.  Thirty-two weeks was enough for her sister to have a good chance, but no amount of weeks or months could have provided my sweet girl with any more chance at life on this earth.  And I had to figure out a way to find peace with that.  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  That was the reading for the day, from a book given to me by Rachel, Laurencia’s other namesake.

And I cried.  And I still feared.  I finished saying the rosary and just at that time a very old friend wrote me a message and said, “You must feel not unlike Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane”.  It was as if God was speaking right to me, through her.  And she left me with these words, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  And I kept repeating them to myself over and over until I finally fell asleep.

The messages of prayer were pouring in.  Again, I felt so unworthy but so thankful as my girls are so very worthy.  In the morning I had to begin the process of physically getting ready for the surgery, which was was delayed until about 1pm.  Laura and Anna arrived and then Fr. Richards.  I was so happy and grateful to see him (please remember his family in your prayers as his brother passed away recently).  Just prior to Fr. arriving, a wonderful person by the name of Rachael (the other Rachael) walked in.  I haven’t mentioned her before.  She is a gift.  Her work and her mission are a gift.  I think her official title might be something like, “social worker” but to me she is just a blessing.  She is the one who worked tirelessly to ensure that every single wish or hope we had for the birth of our girls would be met, if possible.  It is truly amazing the support and love we have received from her and from the hospital.  They have NEVER treated our girl with anything but the utmost respect.  Rachael even told me yesterday that she has a nickname for Laurencia-ABG “angel baby girl”.  How’s that for a plain old social worker?  So blessed.

Eventually they had to take me to the operating room.  Walking down that hallway I peered over at the family waiting room to see: My mom and dad, Matt’s mom, sister and sister in law, Rachel and Billy (Laurencia’s godfather), my brothers and my sister in law, Nellie (Benedict’s momma) and all of my kids along with Katrina and Analise (my nieces).  And in I walked with the nurse.

The O.R. was overwhelming to me.  I will summarize it by saying that eventually I knew that the anesthetic was going to work and once it did, I began to feel a sense of calm relief.  I felt physically good and very aware of what was happening.  They walked Matt, Laura and Anna in and Matt sat next to me.

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Laura and Anna were behind me ready to videotape and take photos.  And then I saw my other favorite person in this hospital.  The man is a saint but goes by Dr. G (in the interest of protecting his privacy I won’t give his full name but once again I am so privileged to know him and blessed by his goodness).

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He is brilliant and kind and compassionate and wonderful.  And seeing him gave me even more peace.  As far as I can tell, he’s the “Big cheese” neonatologist and it was not lost on me that he likely had a million other things to do yet here he was for my girls.  Another priceless gift.

I could feel the tugging and pulling that they describe and before I knew it, I could feel them deliver Laurencia.  I think I said, “A baby is out.”  They took her to put her in a blanket.  I felt more tugging and pulling and I knew Valencia was out.  I think we heard a little cry and they showed Valencia to me, she looked big but no surprise to me, I knew she’d be healthy and “big”!

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And then they handed Laurencia to Matt.  I can only share with you a small portion of a portion of my thoughts and feelings because as I said, for some of those feelings, words are not enough.  I looked at her and knew her instantly, she was the baby I had seen so many times on the ultrasound.  Yet, here she was, for real.  She was so still, so peaceful.  I never saw her move.  The most immediate thing I felt was, “It is ok, it  is going to be ok now.”  And then I saw Matt’s face. It’s very hard to describe.  It wasn’t simple relief and it wasn’t happiness as in pure joy but it was a sense of calm and love and overwhelming peace in his eyes.  For the first time in five months the look of helplessness was completely and totally wiped away.  Gone.  And all I saw was love in his eyes and he looked so, so proud of his girl.

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I will never forget the image of my girl, it is burned into my being and I will never forget the look on my husband’s face.  I know with 100% certainty that God hand-picked him to be the daddy to our Laurencia.

I touched her with my free hand and kept trying to see if her heart was beating, she was very still.  I had to know if her heart was beating.

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Finally, my sister, her godmother, Laura, felt her chest and said, yes, it is.  I had to see her toes and her fingies.  I felt her hand in mine.

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I whispered some things to her.  My only regret of the entire day was that I didn’t and couldn’t say a million more things to her, enough to span an entire lifetime, in those few minutes.  I didn’t realize she would be gone so soon.  I will live forever trying to show her and tell her everything I wanted to say, everything I wanted her to know.

I kept repeating, “It’s ok, she’s ok, I’m ok, it’s going to be ok.”  And in those moments, and for some time after, it was.  It was the peace that we, you, prayed for.  It was God.  And I heard another cry out of Valencia.  I think Dr. G came over and gave me calm, reassuring updates about Valencia.  I remember telling Matt, Laura and Anna that it was ok to take Laurencia over to her sister to get a photo of them together before they took Valencia to the NICU. I wanted them to do that and when minutes later I found out what had happened, I was so thankful that we made that decision.

About five minutes later Dr. G came over and told me that Laurencia had passed away.  While tears streamed down my face, I was joyful for her perfect soul.  To me, she is, was, and always will be, perfection. How many people can say they have been in the presence of perfection?  It was as near to Jesus as I could ever hope to be while alive on this earth.  The privilege of holding and knowing my girl is something I cherish.  I felt as though I was suspended in a place between Heaven and Earth.  It was holy and sacred and beautiful and I don’t know how else to explain it but I will never forget it.

Matt, Laura and Anna came back with Laurencia and told me that she was holding her sister’s hand when she died.

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I learned later that prior to her time of death being called, Laurencia’s beloved godmother used her own tears to baptize her goddaughter.

They brought both of my girls to me before bringing Valencia to the NICU to be assessed.  Dr. G reassured me that she would be ok but they just needed to make sure she didn’t need extra help with oxygen or anything else.  I got to hold my girls together.  My sister handed her to me and was fussing over our girl.  She loves her like I love her.

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When the doctors had me put back together and our Laurencia was bundled up in her beautiful blankie and her special hat put on, we all went to the recovery room.  I took some time to fuss with my girl, it was like having a little dolly.

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holding our girl in recovery

I could have held her forever.  Fr. Richards said prayers over our girl and anointed her.  We had many such special, sacred and holy moments and I share a small portion of this one with you.

After a short while, Laurencia’s siblings first got to meet and hold her.  And they instantly fell in love.  Hard.  Mae kept saying, “That’s MY SHISHTER!”  “I wanna hode it!” She always says the same thing — I wanna hode it! about Anna’s baby Maggie.  Mae never questioned where or how this baby came to be, she just knew this was her sister and she really wanted her.  As much as I tried to prepare the kids, I also knew that they wouldn’t fully understand until they met her.  And indeed this was true.  It was hard for them to understand (as it is me) how she could be so perfect yet not be able to stay.  They still ask me why.

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But before they had to say their first goodbye, we were so blessed by being able to have our whole family all in one room.  Valencia was stable (no respirator!) and they brought her in from the NICU knowing our family would have very few moments all together.  Another priceless gift which was aided by a professional photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a beautiful organization to whom we are forever grateful.

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One by  one those who love Laurencia came to meet and hold her.  Eventually I was moved from the recovery room back to my room where Laurencia’s grandparents, aunties and uncles came to meet her.

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Laurencia’s auntie Rachie and godfather Billy brought her the most beautiful pinky pink birthday cake.  I had asked Rachie if she would get a cake and I wanted it pink.  Well, this one was.  It was beautiful and perfect for our girl.  So many of us were gathered in my room and we sang Happy Birthday to Laurencia.  The cake had two candles in it, one for her sister who was in the NICU.  Mae Mae particularly loved the happy birthday part and was singing her own rendition over and over.  It was cute and heartbreaking.

Later, in my room, after grandmas and papa and aunties left, the kids had to say goodbye.  It was the most excruciating thing I’ve ever been witness to.  I really don’t want to write about it or look at these images.  My heart almost couldn’t bear it the first time and seeing it again…..their grief and pain at having to let go of their sister was indescribable.  They kept asking for one more kiss, one more time to hold her, one more feel of her soft and perfect fingies, one more …. and soon I too, would know how they would feel.  I tried to find the right time to tell them it was time to go.  It was almost impossible.  But I promised them they could say goodbye again at the funeral.

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After everyone left, it was me and my husband and our girl.  We did not at all have the heart or want to have her sent to the hospital morgue so we kept her in my room all night.  I can’t talk about everything we talked about or describe our night with our precious child.  It was and always will be the most sacred time in my life.  I studied every millimeter of her and held her and rubbed her fingers over and over.  She is burned into my soul.  I took a few photos of my perfect girl.

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In the morning I knew I could no longer care for her little body the best way it needed care.  So I called the funeral home.  It was very hard waiting and knowing they were coming to get her, to take her from my arms.  I took this one last picture of her with her daddy.

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Her daddy took this one last picture of her with me.  I hesitated to share this photo as it means more to me than I could convey.  This is me stripped down to nothing, holding everything.  I once heard a mother talk about giving up her daughter for adoption.  She said that she saved the tissues she cried into because they held the saddest tears she had ever cried.  These were the saddest tears I have ever cried.  I felt as though I was being torn in two.

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And then he came.  With a black box that looked like a big briefcase.  And Laurencia’s daddy tenderly laid her in the box while I fell to pieces.  And the man shut the box and waited for me to say it was ok.  It was never going to be ok so I just told him to go.  I had Matt walk with them out of the room and all the way to the car.  Our girl was never alone or without us until the last moment.  And so she left me, just like that and my arms were empty and my heart was broken, but it was full.

I was in a great deal of pain from the surgery, something I had never experienced before.  I got up and started moving.  I took a shower and was able to go visit my other girl.  I was given two precious gifts and I do believe that what Wyatt said all those months ago is true.  That God knew Laurencia was going to have to leave us so he made them identical twins because He also wanted us to have a baby to bring home.  Of course I don’t have to say that Valencia cannot replace her sister, nor would I want her to.  They may have been identical twins but they each have their own unique soul.  Valencia is, however, the most precious reminder of her sister and a most precious gift all on her own.  We experienced the greatest grief and the greatest joy all in a matter of one minute.  I had been so concerned with our sadness overshadowing the joy of the birth of our Valencia.  But it has not.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE not to smile and feel amazingly blessed when I hold her.

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We had great, GREAT news yesterday about Valencia and I called just now for more breaking great news.  She’s off the cpap (which you see in the above photos) and was using only a nasal cannula (below) and breathing room air all night last night.  I just got word that they removed the nasal cannula as well!  She has a nasal gastric (ng) feeding tube which is now in her nose, making her more comfortable.  So now it’s all about feeding and growing before she can come home.  She has no other health issues.  She is HEALTHY AND STRONG!  I prayed so hard that I would be fine through the surgery and that my little Valencia would not require a respirator or have any other serious issues.  And I told myself that I would remember to count those blessings should I receive them and not let them be overshadowed by grief.

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Even greater is that within a few days, if she is able to continue breathing on her own with no episodes of apnea, they will transfer her to a hospital closer to our home.  This is HUGE.  No parking fees, long drive time through the city, or being so far from my girl who will need me close so she can start to eat like a baby should.  Regarding her feedings, she’s simply too young to properly nurse so she’s being fed through the tube but that will all change soon and she’ll be well on her way to actually coming home for good.

Valencia is so special, because she is Valencia.  But she is also special because she shares a unique bond with her big sister who, as I said, is perfection.  She shares the exact same DNA as her sister and they shared my tummy for seven months.  They are forever united.  Her sister is now with Jesus and I imagine the magnitude of glory she is in is as vast as my love for her and as deep as my grief at losing her.  And I also imagine she will be with Valencia forever until they can hold hands again in Heaven.

I will live the rest of my life missing my Laurencia, telling her how much I loved her and how privileged I am to be her mother.  I will also do everything I can to live up to that honor, despite knowing I never can.  I am humbled and I am blessed.  I am the mother of Laurencia Rachel Witschen, the victorious little lamb.

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I spoke about how throughout being pregnant with my girls I kept hearing the message, Joy Comes in the Morning.  And when I looked it up I found this passage:

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I talked about the weeping and I talked about waiting for the joy.  But what I hadn’t noticed before and what strikes me now is the part about Life.  Laurencia has the promise of eternal life.  Whether we are grieving in our dark hours or joyous over new beginnings, each of these things coming and going sometimes minute by minute or hour by hour, what always remains is that she may live forever, for in His favor is Life.

We welcome those of you who loved her, who were in any way affected by her life or who would like to celebrate the Life of Laurencia and to say goodbye, to join us next Friday.

Laurencia Rachel Witschen, infant daughter of Mathew W. & Katrina A. (Dehmer) Witschen, passed away peacefully in the loving arms of her daddy and in the presence of her mommy and aunties while holding the hand of her identical twin sister, Valencia Katerina, on Monday, August 26, 2013 at Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Laurencia is further survived by siblings: Gabriella, Anabella, Wyatt, Paulina and Maebelina; grandmother: Joyce Witschen and grandparents: John & Julie Dehmer; Godparents:  Laura (Dehmer) Nielsen and Billy Dehmer; many more aunts, uncles and cousins.

Preceded in death by grandfather: Alfred Witschen.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Laurencia Witshen will be held at The Church of St. Michael in St. Michael, MN on Friday, September 6th, 2013 at 6:00 P.M.  Father Peter Richards will be the Celebrant. 

Interment will follow at The St. Michael Cemetery.

A visitation will be held on Friday, September 6th from 5:00 P.M. till 6:00 P.M. at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael.

 

Victory is Hers

Laurencia Rachel was born at 1:47 pm, yesterday, August 26, 2013.  Her”little” sister, Valencia Katerina was born one minute later at 1:48 pm.  Laurencia weighed 2 lbs. 12 oz., Valencia weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz and is 17 inches long.

Laurencia was born with her tiny heart beating long enough for her daddy to get to hold her alive, just as I had all these months.  She was peaceful from the moment she was delivered from me until the moment she was delivered into the arms of Jesus, at approximately 2:02 pm.

Laurencia died while in her daddy’s arms, holding her sister’s hand.  She was surrounded by  her two aunties, Laura and Anna and I was lying near her on the operating table.  She was prayed right into Heaven by all of you and by our families, who were here to meet her.  Her brother and sisters fell instantly in love with her and both of our families spent the afternoon holding her, loving her and telling her how much they each loved her. 

I will provide photos and many more details in the coming days.  I need to go visit with our Valencia, who is doing fantastically.  She is not requiring oxygen of any sort and is healthy and strong just like her name.  She will likely be in the NICU at least 2-3 weeks to ensure she remains stable and grows.

There are so many things I could tell you about yesterday, but there are few words adequate to describe it.  As usual, I plan to do my very best so as to honor my precious baby girl.  I am so privileged to be her mother.

While our grief at times comes in waves deeper than even we could have imagined, we felt every single prayer and know that your prayers sent God to be with us.  Thank you for keeping us in your hearts and prayers. 

Katrina  

 

The Lord is my shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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A very quick update

We had an ultrasound yesterday and they measured the girls’ growth.  Valencia was measuring about a week ahead (32 weeks, 5 days) at about 4.5 lbs.  That is very good.  Laurencia was measuring about a week behind, maybe more like 3 lbs, but with her it’s difficult to get an accurate measurement.  The monitoring is also going well showing no signs of cord compression. 

I was able to get an image of Laurencia (below) from yesterday and as usual, it was so hard to see her and to really imagine what is to come. 

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I’ve been spending much of my time trying to prepare for Monday.  It’s been very difficult.  Also, I continually think about and pray for my nephew, Benedict. 

I will try to update tomorrow if I can but in the event I don’t, the plan is still to have the c-section on Monday at about noon.  I may have my sister post here or to Facebook that the babies are born, their weights and whether they are alive but we will need lots of time as a family after the surgery so information may not come very quickly after that.  I will do my best but will need to spend every second with our girls and my little family that I can. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers, support, love, care and concern. 

God bless,

Katrina

The Long Letting Go

One of the hospital chaplains stopped by yesterday to say hello.  In talking with him he mentioned to me that there were several patients here who were in somewhat similar situations as me, though not exactly the same, and some who are pregnant with twins where one has already passed away.  This morning there was a lot of activity around here and while patient confidentiality is absolutely observed, I could tell that there were emergency type deliveries and perhaps it is that some of the mommas have already delivered their precious babies and are having to say goodbye today.  Please keep them in your prayers.

The chaplain, for reasons I now understand, told me about an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he read.  He said the article was written by a dad sending his boy off to college for the first time.  I thought it was neat that he mentioned this article, albeit likely irrelevant to me, because one of my best friends from high school, I call her Jem, was here the other day and she is sending her son off to college for the first time on Friday.  She is very sad!  So I thought it was fitting and I’d find the article and send it to her.

Here is the link to the article:  http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/220271181.html

As I told Pat, my sometimes chatting buddy at work who is a wonderful father (and spectacular runner by the way-such an inspiration!) and who is himself taking his only son to college for the first time next week as well as taking his daughter back to college, “I wanted to feel sorry for myself when I first started reading the article, thinking about how Laurencia will never even go to Kindergarten, much less college.”

But then, while I was reading, somewhere in the middle of the commentary, the dad writes, “I have the worst of it. I know something he doesn’t — not quite a secret, but incomprehensible to the young. He is experiencing the adjustments that come with beginnings. His life is starting for real. I have begun the long letting go.

Put another way: He has a wonderful future in which my part naturally diminishes. I have no possible future that is better without him close.”

And all I could think about was how absolutely true this is for our Laurencia, though she isn’t going to college, she is going somewhere else, somewhere grand.  Her eternal life, when she must leave us, will be starting for real. And we, even today, this week, have to begin the long letting go.  I’m not sure the letting go will ever end for us.  And while Laurencia has a wonderful future in which our part naturally and physically diminishes, no matter how much I understand or can try to, that she will be basking in glory, I will always have wanted to hold my baby close for many more moments, here on earth.

Full Circle

No, I’m not talking about my belly, although it is a very full circle!  A nurse I hadn’t seen in two weeks came in the other day and exclaimed, “You’re getting big!”  I’m very hopeful that it means Valencia is likewise getting big.  This morning I had an ultrasound and the sonographer commented how chubby Valencia’s cheeks look.

What I’m really talking about is where I am presently located.  Thirty-nine years ago today I was…………….exactly in this same spot.

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Well, actually about 20 paces away from my current room.  The photo below was taken just now from the doorway of the room I’ve been in since I arrived here.

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Behind those double doors, exactly thirty-nine years ago today, I laid in that tiny little bassinet, not too unlike the type they still use today and will use for my Valencia.  My mom and dad named me Katrina despite getting a little grief for how “different” it was.

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And now, here I am, just down the hall.  And my little Valencia will have my name (or a slightly modified version) as her middle name.  By all rights I should not be at this hospital.  Prior to coming here I had no idea that this actually used to be St. Mary’s Hospital.  The odds of this same floor being used as the antepartum (where I am) unit almost 40 years later can’t be all that high.

How do I know that behind those doors used to be the labor and delivery area?  Because, my favorite nurse, Carol, WAS WORKING HERE all those years ago in the labor and delivery unit when I was born.  She tells me she hasn’t retired yet because she likes taking her trips to Florida 🙂  So she “shouldn’t” be here either, really.  But she is, and she is my nurse quite often on this antepartum unit.  Crazy.

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Here we are, Carol and I.  I told her, “We haven’t gotten very far in life, Carol.”  I mean, 20 feet or so?  It’s one of those times in life where you realize you’ve come full circle.

This morning I received countless Facebook birthday wishes and one in particular said something along the lines of hoping the hospital had cake and ice cream for me.  I replied sarcastically that it was more like ‘blood draws’ and ‘steroid shots’ because that’s exactly what I got at 6am.  But then Carol came in and brought me this!  She stopped special last night to get it.  How sweet 🙂

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And, as fate would have it, Rachie brought the kids down here and after eating lunch we were walking to the elevators just now when lo and behold, some ladies stopped us in the lobby and said it was Sibling Day.  They were celebrating with ice cream sundaes!  Ha ha!  Poor Rachie, they had games too and the prizes were very LOUD Kemps ice cream cow bells and obnoxious ice cream cone shooter things.  Good luck, Rach.  My room is very quiet.  I’m sure I can’t say the same for her car.

The bouquet of flowers Rachie helped the kids make for me:

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I look at the steroid shot as a really good birthday present for Valencia.  I’m hoping it will help her lungs mature so much that she won’t need a respirator or too much help on Monday after she is born.  And THAT would be a HUGE gift to me.

My other huge gift was seeing my babes.  Mae kept holding my face and saying, “Mama, mama.”  “That’s my mama.”  As if she were reminding herself.  I miss my babies so much but REALLY appreciate everyone who has brought them down for visits.  We’ve been lucky that way.

Thank you everyone for the Happy Birthday wishes and tokens of love (geez, MFM team from Maple Grove, make me cry why don’t you?  And the added touch of sending Shawn over to deliver the package was quite the nice touch 😉 ).

Last year I remember COMPLETELY believing that I was turning 39.  When I realized, while at Laura’s house, that I was actually only 38, I jumped for joy in her yard.  I had gained a WHOLE YEAR, just like that!  And while part of me instinctively says, ‘dang, wish I had lost this whole last stinky year’, I really can’t say that.  I saw my beautiful babies on the ultrasound this morning and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.  I couldn’t.

Little did my parents or I know, as I lay in that tiny bassinet, just what was in store for me.  But God always knew.  I’m going to lie down now and take a rest and reflect upon all that I’ve done, all that I’ve seen and everywhere I’ve been that brought me these whole 20 feet.

Love to you all,

Katrina

PS I’m NOT 40 YET!