October 10, 2007 - Prayers Please

"The greatest wealth is health." -- Virgil

The quote rang particularly true for us yesterday, when our unborn baby was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. For those as unfamiliar with the condition as we were, it refers to a build up of fluid in the brain. Normally, the fluid drains into the spinal cord, but in our baby's case, remains trapped in the lateral ventricles. That, in turn, causes pressure on the brain and an enlarged head, symptoms our baby shows.

What does it mean?
It means many things as we face an uncertain and frightening future. Most importantly, it means all three of us would very much appreciate being kept in your thoughts and prayers at this time. Initially, Travis and I wanted to wait to find out the gender of our child until birth. It was such a struggle for us to conceive, we weren't concerned with "girl" or "boy" or "pink" or "blue" - just a healthy child. Since the diagnosis, we decided we wanted people to be able to pray for our baby by name. We are having a girl, her name is Arielle, and her sonogram photo is attached. We have found two meanings for the name: Lion of God and ethereal. The combination sums up well the balance of strength, determination, and grace our entire family will need as we cope with the situation at hand.

Medically, what's in store?
The doctor told us to prepare for a long roller coaster ride with a completely unpredictable ending. Worst case: the pressure builds, and Arielle dies before or shortly after she is born. Best case: the potential for a normal life. Everything in between is also on the table: surgeries, vision problems, learning disabilities, physical handicaps, etc. The outcome will depend on how the fluid behaves, on its own or through medical intervention. Naturally our prayer is for whatever is causing the build up to miraculously relieve itself, or for medical procedures to achieve the same result.

Mary Alice was immediately put through a series of tests yesterday that will hopefully help the doctors gain a clearer picture of the situation. To us laymen, the diagnosis and prognosis seems like a giant puzzle shattered into millions of tiny pieces. Every piece helps rule something in or out. Once the test results arrive, we will go to a specialized center in Houston, where they will perform an MRI, and hopefully be able to link more puzzle pieces together for us. That will be in about three to four weeks.

On a different front, Mary Alice's blood condition that prevents her from properly absorbing iron has been causing minor challenges from the beginning - primarily weakness and fatigue. Yesterday, her hematologist made adjustments to her treatment that we hope make more of a difference. We also ask for prayers on that front to help her body become as strong as possible to best support, carry and care for Arielle.

Future communication
It is with heaviest and humblest hearts we share this information with you. For those of you interesting in following our journey, Travis will be setting up a special blog page here on our family website where we will post information as it becomes available. We hope to have something up in the next few days.

We have already found comfort in our immediate family members, which are encircling us with their greatest love and support. We thank all of you for your friendship, and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers at this time.