Thursday, June 27, 2013

Choosing Joy

Joy  [joi]  noun
1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure

     I will never forget the moment that Josh and I chose joy.  I was having a rough day and found myself in bed crying and dwelling on the negative.  Josh came in to comfort me and ended up saying something that would change our lives.  He said, "We can either spend Savannah's life in this room crying, or we can go out and help her live it."  It was in that moment we decided to surround ourselves with happiness rather than sorrow. Through this journey Savannah has brought so much sunshine into our world, so we felt it was only fitting to choose Joy for her middle name.  
     Week 21 was the week that we began celebrating in earnest.  We started off the week with a total blessing: God placed Kevin, Lindsey, and baby Sophia in our lives.  Sophia has been diagnosed with the same condition as our Savannah, and her parents Kevin and Lindsey are currently carrying to term like Josh and I.  We spent an afternoon at Ron Jon's sharing stories, drinking virgin piƱa coladas, and getting to know one another.  It is very comforting to know that we are not the only ones going through this, yet it breaks our hearts to know that we share the same pain.  God has given us the blessing of great friendship with Kevin and Lindsey, and an eternal friendship for our girls, Sophia and Savannah.  Please keep Kevin, Lindsey, and precious Sophia in your prayers.  If you would like to follow their journey you can find their blog here.

     We continued celebrating Savannah as we knocked off a few "firsts" from our list.  Savannah's first BBQ, bedtime story, and baseball game. 

This was my favorite book as a little girl!
Manatees won 10-9 after going in to extra innings!
     One of our favorite memories this week was taking our girl to the beach.  We made our camp and set out to make Savannah the most awesome sandcastle ever!  Daddy went to work building, and sculpting the perfect castle, while Savannah and I took our first walk on the beach looking for seashells.  I found myself getting emotional on and off, something Lindsey and I call "waves".  I will always treasure that walk with Savannah gathering seashells, and letting the water rush over my feet.  Josh and I decorated the sandcastle with the shells we had gathered, and wrote our princess' name in seaweed. 

Daddy drew something special just as we left.

     The next week was a very special week for me, Savannah and I were both 22!  We had the most fun celebrating.  We played Taylor Swift's song, "22" and Savannah got to listen as we held the speaker to my belly.  She was very active, and I am still convinced she was dancing. 
     This is also the week that we opened up about Savannah's condition.  We held an ice cream social to let our close friends know, and let them help us celebrate Savannah.  Josh tried to feed Savannah ice cream, and I made sure she had extra whipped cream and sprinkles.   

     One more family tradition that we decided to teach Savannah was the famous Hurtley Family Night, Movie Night, Pizza Night!  It has been a tradition in Josh's house ever since he can remember, and we loved being able to share it with Savannah.  We made homemade pizza, watched 101 Dalmatians, and stayed up past bedtime. 

     The best part about this week was having our ultrasound appointment and seeing our sweet girl wave to us.  She opened and closed her hand, and then waved it side to side.  It was a moment that Josh and I will never forget.  Savannah is also growing right on track, and she is swallowing everyday.  

     We are still so amazed, and feel very blessed to have our little Savannah Joy in our life.  We are continuing to pray for a miracle if that is God's plan. We are casting our fears on the Lord, and finding pure joy in the journey.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

Philippians 4:4


Monday, June 24, 2013

Picking Up The Pieces

     Weeks 19 and 20 were probably the hardest for both Josh and I.  We had just found out about Savannah's condition and we were having a really hard time seeing any kind of light in all of the darkness.

     Week 19 our families came up to visit and surround us with love.  Josh's family came up first, and blessed us with our second opinion ultrasound.  We will never forget the moment they saw their first grandchild wiggling on the screen. We left that ultrasound with tons of pictures, and memories that will last us all a lifetime.

We'll never be able to repay Grandma Michelle and Grandpa Shawn for the gift they gave us:
Time with our little girl!

     Later that week my dad came up to visit us.  He helped us completely renovate our lawn, and showed his love for us and Savannah by creating and planting a beautiful bed of flowers out front.  My dad was such a supporter while he was here, helping us with all of the little things around the house that needed fixing.  It was a blessing to have his love and to be distracted for a few days.

Dad and Josh planting flowers for Sweet Savannah

     Week 20 started off with our first glimpse of sunshine, a bird had started to build a nest in our tree out front.  Every time we saw the mockingbird add another twig to its nest, it felt like God was reminding us of what we had to do: start putting our life back together one piece at a time.
     That week we took a trip back home to Marco Island to see the rest of our family.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by people that loved us and who could comfort us.  We made some very special memories that week:

Beautiful Marco Sunset
  • We went to lunch at the restaurant I used to work at and had shrimp with Savannah's Great Grandpa and Grandma
  • We watched the Marco sunset
  • Went to coffee with Karen
  • Josh felt Savannah kick for the very first time!!
  • We celebrated my dad's birthday
  • Josh and I sang Savannah our childhood lullabies. (Josh then decided to sing her Hakuna Matata... in spanish. She loved it and was moving the entire time.  I only wish I had it on video!)

Great Grandma & Grandpa helping to celebrate Savannah

Coffee with Karen <3

     While these two weeks were the hardest, God gave us the strength to face each challenge.  He is showing us, through Savannah, just how beautiful and precious life is!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

From the beginning...

     On January 26 we found out that we were expecting and that on October 7th we'd be bringing a new life into this world. The first few months were an incredibly exciting time filled with belly pictures, announcement planning, and multiple appointments with our doctor. There was even a blood test that told us the gender and on April 5, over a plate of chicken pot pie and Fish & Chips at Meg O'Malley's, we found out that we were having a little girl!! From that moment on she was no longer just our baby, she was our daughter, Savannah.

     From there it was a whirlwind of activity as we were able to narrow down our search for babythings and actually start planning her nursery. We were so happy and care free that when our OB had me give blood for a test that detected the possibility of neural tube defects (NTD's) we didn't give it a second thought, until the results came back positive.

     Our OB told us that Savannah had an abnormally high number of AFP cells in her system which was cause for concern and that she was scheduling the next available appointment with a high-risk doctor. That appointment was a tale in itself, but to summarize the visit; Savannah was diagnosed with an NTD called anencephaly; a condition where the brain and skull never fully develop, affecting only 1 in every 1000 births and giving babies with this diagnosis only a few hours to live under best case scenarios.

     Devastation doesn't even begin to describe our initial feelings. We had no idea what to do or who to talk to, all we knew was that we wanted a second opinion and we wanted the doctor to be wrong. We couldn't understand; this sort of thing only happens to people in the news, how could we be part of the .1%? Regardless of the outcome of the second opinion, one thing rang in our minds like a bell: We want to meet our sweet Savannah so termination is out of the question.

     We were very blessed in the fact that we were able to get the second opinion right away and while the diagnosis stayed the same, the whole appointment was a wonderful, therapeutic experience that we will never forget. We were still devastated  but we started to focus on what Savannah had rather than what she didn't have. God has given her life, and it is our job as parents to help her live it.

     We know that this will not be an easy journey. Each day comes with a new set of challenges, emotions, and joys. However, we are resting on the promises of God, knowing that even when it does not make any sense to us, he has a plan and a purpose! Right now we need your words of encouragement, prayers, and support as we embark on this journey to celebrate our sweet Savannah Joy.

     Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts,
          Josh, Rebecca, & Savannah Hurtley