Sunday, November 16, 2008

Famliy Update, Volume III (Now with pictures!!)

These weekly family updates are getting more and more difficult to write. There is really nothing new to report. We got up, we went to school/work/shopping, we came home, we ate, we went to bed. Times 7.

So, maybe I'll use this week's update to tell you all about how the three came to be.

First is Ben. Will and I had been trying to have a baby from the day we got married with no luck. Fertility treatments didn't work. My doctor said I would never get pregnant.

We were poor college students only married a year and a half and living in a tiny basement apartment, so adoption didn't really seem feasible at that point. But about 3 weeks after I quit fertility treatments, a woman I worked with said her daughter was pregnant and would we be interested in adopting the baby? Umm...yes! Yes we would be interested!! I called a lawyer that very day. Two months later Ben was born. His birthmother was kind enough to allow us to be in the delivery room. I was the first one to hold him. We brought him home less than 24 hours later.

Ben, his birthmother and his biological half brother shortly after Ben's birth

At 2 weeks old--He would NOT wake up for these pictures!

Five years passed. Will had joined the Army and we'd been living in Germany for over 3 years. No baby ever showed up. We tried a few times to adopt from foster care, but it always fell through. I got a seriously bad case of PMS, but the M part of it never showed up (sorry, men. Bear with me). I mentioned this to a woman I was teaching with and she insisted I was pregnant. I told her it was quite impossible. But, when I went home that night I took a test. And it was positive. Then I walked to the commissary and bought another one. It was also positive. After becoming a regular guest at the Universitat Klinikum Mannheim (Mannheim University Hospital), Liam was delivered by C section (I had pre-ecclampsia). He turned blue and they rushed him away and I freaked out so they drugged me.

For hours and hours I begged to see him and they wouldn't let me. All we knew is that he had some sort of heart defect and they would be moving him to the pediatric cardiac hospital in the next city. They finally let me see him a little bit before he was transported.

It turned out that he had transposition of the great arteries, double outlet right ventricle, pulmonary stenosis, a huge ventricular septal defect (which kept him alive and his brain functioning), no right subclavian artery and a horseshoe kidney. There. That should keep you busy Googling for awhile.

It was determined that his best chance of avoiding a heart transplant was to have surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. So, we were med-evaced there. He had 2 open heart surgeries at 2 weeks old. But now he's great! He'll need at least one follow up surgery in the near future.

After the surgery Will had to go back to Germany to get relocation orders and all that fun Army paperwork. We were not allowed to bring Liam home to Germany, so I stayed behind with my parents. After four long months we were finally relocated to Maryland.

Liam, the first time I saw him after he was born (it would be almost a week before I could hold him). He looks chubby, but it's actually just fluid. He was in congestive heart failure.

At about a week old. See--less chubby now. They had gotten rid of some fluid.

Liam was doing really well. We decided that if we were going to try to have another baby, now would be a good time to start. After all, it took 7 years the last time.

Three weeks later I had yet another positive pregnancy test. She wasn't due until late November, but by mid September I started feeling like I had pre-ecclampsia again--so much so that I packed a suitcase and a baby bag when I went in for a routine check up. Sure enough, I was admitted immediately. My blood pressure was up in the stroke zone. Luckily I recognized my symptoms early enough that there was time to administer the steroid that helps a baby's lungs develop faster in the womb. A day and a half later (just exactly how long the steroid needs to be fully effective) Amelia was born via C section at Bethesda National Naval Hospital (the President's hospital). Although she was 10 weeks early and only 3 lbs, they allowed her to stay in my room with me. She was breathing and eating just fine all on her own. She was actually released from the hospital a day before I was! Today the only lasting effect from being premature is that she's very tiny for her age (and always will be).

Amelia, a few hours after birth

In her blessing outfit--she was too small for even preemie baby clothes, so I bought this at a build-a-bear workshop. To get an idea of how small she is, she's sitting in a standard bouncy seat. Look at how much space is above her head!

So, there you have it. That's how each of my kids came to me be.

****You may notice that pictures of Liam and Amelia are conspicuously absent. I'm currently having a panic attack and awaiting a call back from Will. I recently bought a new laptop and he was supposed to transfer all my files off the old PC onto the new laptop. But I'm missing a folder. The folder that contains all the hospital and first two months of life pictures of Liam and Amelia. He wiped the hard drive of the old PC. So, unless there's another back up somewhere, there is no longer any photographic record that Liam and Amelia were ever newborns. And I think I may cry.****

****Crisis averted!! My oh-so-smart husband had backed everything up on CD!!****


  1. Wow Brandi, I knew only little bits and pieces of these stories. You guys sure have been through a lot. I remember when Amelia was born and you brought her to church for the first time. I could not believe how tiny she was. I had never seen a baby so small. She was so adorable all dressed in pink. And what a miracle that little Liam is so healthy now. I learn more & more about you with each post. I love it.

  2. I would cry too... that happend to me. last year Jeremy cleared the Hard drive from our laptop. I lost Brooklyn's 5th b-day Kayden's 8th b-day halloween, thanksgiving, and christmas. Sad hu?? if it wouldn't have been for my blog i wouldn't have any pictures. I printed them that same day. Now they are all scrapbooked. yeah for blogging.

  3. I will never complain about my birthing/pregnancy experiences ever again. Ever.

    I'm with Sarah -- it's a miracle that Liam and Amelia are doing so well! Good luck with the pictures thing -- that sucks and I would cry my eyes out if I lost those first pics.

  4. Nicole will still complain, and so will I. But at least we will do it with full knowledge that we didn't really have it all that bad. Although I definitely had it worse than Nicole.


    And as to your last post, yes, you're fabulous, even if you only feel like it in the blogosphere. I have a hard time talking to people I don't know, too, unless they talk to me first, in which case I start running at the mouth in order to avoid awkward silences. I just try so hard not to look like I'm quaking that I think it probably makes me look stuck-up instead. We just can't win...

    I hope Will manages to retrieve your photos. I think I now have tomorrow planned as "computer back-up day."

  5. awwww! I was just reading Amelia Bedelia to Maleia and we were wondering about Amelia, so we came here for pictures. .. yikes! I hope you retrieve them!

  6. AW! Baby pictures are so sweet. I didn't meet Ben until he was older, but I met Liam when he was a baby and met Amelia at a couple of months old. It seems like yesterday!

    I actually am fanatic about my photos. I have them all saved at Snapfish and Kodak. Plus, I have them on my hard drive and on a flash drive.

    I have hard copies of almost all of them in albums, but those can always be lost. :)

    Great stories!


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