Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MAY 26TH 2008- 17.5 weeks

Dear Grandchild,

You are now 17.5 weeks and growing!
I found this picture of an 18 week foetus in the womb on the cover of LIFE Magazine. It is so amazing that I feel as though I have just looked at you for the first time!

You are a REAL being, not just a growing mulberry, or a squiggly tad-pole. I think this baby is a girl (I don't see any dangling bits!) so perhaps you are also a girl. We'll just have to wait until the next scan to find out!

It is your uncle Greg's birthday today. He was born in 1975 - and your father was born 2 years later in 1977. I always wanted boy children and I dearly love my two boys but it would be nice to have a little girl in the family now.

You have another two uncles- your mother's brothers are Brent and Steven. You won't have any aunties but I know that Patty and all our 'girl' friends will want to be your aunty.

There are so many people thinking of you, praying for you, caring about you already that you won't be short of caring friends and family.

I thought I should tell you a bit about your family so that you know where you came from. You are truly South African with Norwegian, Dutch and a bit of Irish blood.

This, briefly, is your family tree on your father's, mother's side:
Great, great grandparents.
Otto Alfred Aadnesgaard 15-10-1876 to 18-02-1956
Anna Helene Grefstad 4-02-1879 to 4-12-1952
came from Austad in Norway to South Africa in 1909 as Lutheran missionaries.

Great grandparents:
Annie Serene Aadnegaard 4-07-1912 to 10-03-1990
Gunnar Ingebert Nilsen born 1907 died 10-02-1945

Grand Parent:
Finn John Nilsen 8-04-1943

Mark David Nilsen 15-05-1975 and Tammy van Rooyen 24-05-1981
Your great grandfather, Gunnar Nilsen - who came from Norway - died when Finn was about 2 ½ years old and we don't know much about his side of the family.
On your father's mother's side (that's my side) we only have this rather sketchy information:
Great grand parents:
Albert James Dodgen died 1975 and Jacomina Magrita Johanna Moolman 1-08-1921 to 1-08-1993

Sylvia Antoinette Dodgen 6-08-1947

So, we know that the Aadnesgaard and the Nilsen family came from Norway. We think that the Dodgen family were of Irish descent and came from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and we know that the Moolman family were originally from Holland.

The first Van Rooyen also came from the South of Holland.
You don't need to bother about all of this now but should you ever want to trace your family tree this information will be very useful.
Here is a photograph of us all at Greg's birthday bash.
I wonder what colour eyes you will have? Your father has hazel eyes (like his father) and your mother has brown eyes. Greg has blue eyes, I have green eyes. Brown eyes are usually the dominant colour but, we will just have to wait and see!
Sleep tight little one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

MAY 24TH 2008 - First movement

Great news! Tammy felt you move today for the first time! What were you doing? Changing position? Stretching? Sneezing?
It was Tammy's birthday today and Mark treated her to a day at a SPA. It was there, while she was relaxed and being pampered that she felt you kick. It will be a while yet before anyone else can feel those movements. I remember when I was pregnant and could feel Greg, or Mark, kicking, I would lay Finn's hand on my tummy and say, "There! Did you feel that?" I was always so frustrated when he said no.

Babies move about quite a lot in the womb and it always surprised me that Mark didn't sustain any fractures whilst he was curled up in that awkward position. Many babies with brittle bones fracture in uetro, some have dozens of fractures during delivery. Mark's was an easy birth with no fractures. He was a calm, happy baby and hardly ever cried.

We only found out that Mark had brittle bones when he was about 3 ½ months old. I broke his leg changing his nappy. When you change a baby's nappy you hold him up by his feet with one hand, slipping the clean nappy under him with the other. Between Mark and Greg I'd changed a couple of thousand nappies that way but then, one day, I lifted him by his feet and heard a loud crack. Mark screamed and wouldn't let me touch his feet. Even when I got him home and tried to bath him he screamed. When I held him against me he screamed even louder. I phoned the doctor who told me to bring him in the next morning.
The doctor examined Mark but couldn't find anything wrong with his feet and sent us home. He was a very unhappy baby for about three weeks and then he calmed down and seemed fine again.
When he was about 7 months old, he started rocking back and forth on hands and knees. One day he was rocking and then started screaming. He cried and screamed all afternoon. When I changed his nappy he went hysterical. I took him back to the doctor the next day and once again he couldn't find anything wrong with him. The crying continued for a couple of weeks and then he returned to normal again.
When he was 9 months he started pulling himself up against the furniture. One day he tried to pull himself up against the wall in the fireplace and there was a loud crack! He collapsed on the carpet screaming in agony. We didn't know it then but he had fractured his femur. It was only when he had X-rays taken that they discovered the fractured femur and two other healed fractures. I can't tell you what a shock it was.
So, at the age of 9 month and after 3 unexplained fractures, Mark was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta - brittle bones.

I am really hoping and praying that you do not have the same disorder.
Take care little one,

MAY 2008 - 15.5 week scan

15th May:

Dear Grandchild,
It was your father's birthday today - he is 31 years old. I still think of him as my baby and now he is going to have his own baby.
We met at their place before going out to dinner and Tammy showed us the latest scan taken of you at 15 ½ weeks. My how you've grown. It was still too early to tell if you are a boy baby or a girl baby but your spine and limbs were quite clear.
So far you are developing normally - which is a good sign because babies with OI often have stunted growth and severely affected babies can be tiny - with a form of dwarfism. This is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about your development:

Your baby's skin starts out nearly transparent. Eyebrows and scalp hair may make an appearance. For babies destined to have dark hair, the hair follicles will begin producing pigment. The bone and marrow that make up your baby's skeletal system are continuing to develop this week. Your baby's eyes and ears now have a baby-like appearance, and the ears have almost reached their final position.
Mark and Tammy have been considering names. If you are a girl, they like the name Emily. I think that's a lovely name and I would love to have an Emily for a grand-daughter. Emily - the Greek origin of 'Aimulos" (friendly, tender) has been the number one name for girls in the US for the last ten years, and has also ranked high in the UK, landing in the 4th spot in 2007.
If you are a boy, they like Aiden. The origin of the name is Gaelic and the meaning of the name Aiden is "Little Fire" - it was the most popular name for boys in the US in 2006. Tammy says that Mark says good morning to you and talks to her tummy. He calls you "Little Dude". He seems to think that you are a boy. We might know by the next consultation whether you are an Emily or an Aiden.
Mark asked me what I would like you to call me. Granny, gran, Nana, Gogo? I said, none of those thank you! All the little ones in our family have called me 'Silly' so you can call me Silly too. And what about Finn? Mark suggested you call him Gramps - I jokingly said, "Grumps"! When Finn and I were courting, way back in the 1960's, he used to call me "Silly-doll" and I used to call him "Grumpy-woo". So, Grumps wouldn't be too unfamiliar to him!
It's going to be quite strange to hear your voice for the first time.
Stay strong little one,

APRIL 2008 - 8 week scan

Dear Grandchild,

Last night we went to visit Mark and Tammy and they showed us a scan photograph of you taken at 8 weeks. You now look more like Casper the ghost than a tadpole!
I Googled 8 week embryo and this is what I read:
This week, your baby graduates from being an embryo and becomes a foetus. Up to now, your baby's framework has been made up of cartilage. From the 47th day, the first bone cells begin to replace this cartilage. The bones for arms and legs begin to harden and joints begin to form.
The face and jaw is formed, but teeth and facial muscles are only just starting. All of the vital organs are in place: heart, lungs, brain, intestines. However, they are all still immature and will develop further. The genitalia begin to form. Your baby will develop webbed fingers and toes this week. Wrists, elbows and ankles are clearly visible, and your baby's eyelids are beginning to form. The ears, upper lip and tip of the nose also become recognizable. As your baby's heart becomes more fully developed, it will pump at 150 beats a minute — about twice the usual adult rate. Starting to look like a real human being now.
Dear, dear baby - when I read this sentence, "From the 47th day, the first bone cells begin to replace this cartilage. The bones for arms and legs begin to harden and joints begin to form." I wonder if the bones are osteogenic or not? There is no way of telling.
Your father has a 'mild to moderate' type of OI. His is a single gene defect, the result of a new mutation of the gene for collagen protein. This means that there is no history of OI in our families and that he did not 'inherit' OI from us. It was a freak of nature, a change in the gene and I often called him my 'unique freak"!
You won't understand this but collagen forms the tensile strength in bones, the reinforcing, similar to steel mesh used to build a concrete wall. If the steel mesh is weak or faulty, the wall will not be strong. It won't matter how strong the concrete is that is used to build the wall, a weak, faulty framework will result in potential cracking in the wall.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Os = bones Genesis = in the beginning Imperfecta = imperfect. Imperfect bones from the beginning. In the old orthopaedic books it was also called Fragilitas Ossium (fragile bones).
So, that is the bogey-man that haunts me.
Hang in there little one,

MARCH 2008 - first Scan

Dear Grandchild,
Welcome to my world.
You are the last thing I expected to happen in our life. When Mark (my son - your father) told me back in March that he had something to tell me, I did not for one moment expect him to say that Tammy (your mother) was pregnant. Pshew!!

Although they'd known each other for a long time - each had different partners when they first met and Tammy had moved away to Gauteng. They had only started dating 6 months earlier so this was a shock!
My first reaction was one of panic!

Mark has a genetic order called osteogenesis imperfecta - brittle bones - and there is a 50% risk that his children will inherit the gene for OI. There is no test for Mark's type of OI and the only way they might be able to diagnose OI before you are born is through ultra-sound. The memories of caring for a baby with brittle bones flooded back and I thought, "It's not fair to bring a child into the world knowing that it might be facing years of pain and trauma. I can't go through that again."

At first I thought they might consider a termination but when Tammy went for the first scan at about 5 weeks and saw this little tadpole (you) clinging to the side of its dark home, she made up her mind not to terminate.

Anyway, I decided to log on to the Mayo Clinic website and read about embryos. This is what they say about the 5th Week:

At week five, your baby is 1/17 of an inch long — about the size of the tip of a pen.
This week, your baby's heart and circulatory system are taking shape. Your baby's blood vessels will complete a circuit, and his or her heart will begin to beat. Although you won't be able to hear it yet, the motion of your baby's beating heart may be detected with an ultrasound exam. With these changes, blood circulation begins — making the circulatory system the first functioning organ system.

So, your heart is beating fast and mine is beating fast too!
We weren't allowed to tell anybody at first - only your Aunty Patty - well, Mark's Aunty Patty. It is confusing trying to work out the correct family name terms for another generation. Patty is my sister so she is Mark's aunt but will be your great aunt.

There is so much I need to tell you in the next few months. I'll try to tell you about our family - your family - about your father and his brother Greg, and about Finn, your grandfather: about my mother and Finn's mother (who you will never know but would have doted on you, I'm sure). I'll introduce you to my brother Jeff and wife Gail and their three children (they idolize Mark so I'm sure they will love you too) and even my cousins who are your extended family. By the way, it is Gail her bought you all those baby grows, socks, woollen hats and that really soft, white blanket.

I'm not very familiar with Tammy's family yet but I have met her mother who is a lovely person and who, after her initial shock, started buying you baby clothes almost immediately! I have decided to wait until we know whether you are a boy or a girl before I buy any clothes so, in the meantime, I've started collecting nice books for your mother and father to read to you as you grow.

I have so much to tell you over the next few months.
Take care and hang in there!