I am 34 weeks pregnant and we are getting very excited for our new baby boy to be here! Seeing my sisters new baby and watching our kids hold him and love on him makes us so excited to have our own. We finally settled on a name last week, but I think we will wait to share it with you all :) We had picked another name early in my pregnancy, but the one night, after talking about it for a long time Jim finally said that he really didn't like the name that we had initially picked, so we started from square one and came up with something else. We are both excited about his name and feel like it fits so well with the rest of our bunch :)
Something that I thought would be really cool to share with you all is that we are going to be banking this babies umbilical cord blood. We've never done this before, but with our situation with Abbey it was a no brainer. A couple months after Abbey was diagnosed, a friend of mine gave me an article about the benefits of umbilical cord banking and all the possibilities of a siblings cord blood helping to treat an ill sibling. Right after we read about it, we talked to Abbey's doctors about it, to see if this would be something that could be helpful to our Abbey (at the time we weren't expecting yet). They explained to us that Abbey is doing very beautifully in her treatment right now and the protocol that they are following will not require a bone marrow transplant (praise God!). A matching siblings umbilical cord blood could be used in the event of a bone marrow transplant and the only way that would be needed is if Abbey would ever have a relapse. We feel confident that Abbey will continue to do beautifully in her treatment and we pray fervently that relapse will never be something that we will have to go through, but also know that as parents we will do ANYTHING for our daughter.
Relapse for children with ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) which is what Abbey has is rare, but does happen. Since day one we have felt a peace about Abbey's diagnosis and trust with all our hearts that God is going to completely heal her and that she will live a normal, long, healthy life. We also know that we can't see into the future and that as parents we will do anything and everything that we can. So after talking about the slim possibility that a new siblings umbilical cord could help down the road if ever needed, we decided immediately that we would ask God to bless us with another baby. And I should mention that we've always wanted a big family so it was an easy decision.
Right after Abbey was diagnosed and our lives were changed in an instant, it definitely went through our minds that maybe we shouldn't add any more kids to this hard time that was ahead of us. But after praying about it and feeling so sure that our family wasn't complete, we asked God for a new baby in His timing. Just a few short weeks later I found out I was pregnant :) And I have to tell you what an amazing blessing this little guy has been to us already. This pregnancy has been so wonderful for me. Each time I feel him move and think about God giving us another one, my heart swells with joy. We see things in a new light since Abbey's diagnosis and have experienced God in a whole new way. Maybe that's why this new life has been so amazing to me, but we feel blessed to be adding a new baby to our lives and comforted knowing that we could possibly be doing something that could help Abbey in the future.
So the next really cool part to this story is that I did some research and found a company that will bank our babies cord blood for free since we have a child with a life threatening illness. No matter what it cost, we knew we were going to do this, but feel very blessed that they do this for us and other families who already have a lot of their plates with an ill child. It usually costs about $1800 up front and then there is a yearly fee that you pay. We are thankful to have the security of having this saved, and the blessing of us not having to pay for it.
A couple other things that I wanted to mention is that the doctors made if very clear from day one that another one of our children being diagnosed with leukemia is as rare as any other child in the world getting it. It isn't something that runs in our family and they told is that it is as rare as getting hit by lightning. We don't believe in chance though and know that it wasn't by chance that Abbey got leukemia. We believe in a sovreign God who has a perfect plan for us in this life. We know things don't slip through His fingers and believe and trust that He is in control of ALL things. And we have trusted and loved Him since the day we found out about her devastating diagnosis. I am not saying it has been easy by any means, but we have seen God work in our lives in many ways, have witnessed many miracles along the way and know that she has been spared many horrible side effects. For that we are thankful. And the other thing you may be wondering... The statistics for a siblings cord blood to be an exact match for Abbey is between 50% - 75%. I joke with Jim that we will just keep having babies until we get a match for her. We'll see :)
Thank you for continuing to love us through our journey. If you have any questions about this post, please feel free to ask. Umbilical cord banking can be used for many different diseases, both for the child's whose cord was saved and siblings. And I was so thankful when it was brought to my attention and would be more than happy to share what we've learned in our research.
And lastly, I wanted to end with a picture of Abbey and her new baby cousin Tommy. They came over the other day and Abbey loved holding him. Look at how long her hair is getting :) It is so cute and so wonderful to be able to brush her hair after her baths and run my fingers through it!