Monday, April 25, 2011


Amidst a fast-moving and chaotic Dollywood mob scene (a regrettable family adventure), Cairo stands still.  A perfect illustration of what it felt like to get the news that Allegra has Trisomy 18.  Just as we'd come to terms with having another baby, we learned nothing about this pregnancy would match our previous experience.  Our world briefly, and thankfully, seemed to slow so we could adjust.

For this pregnancy we initially rejected all genetic testing and counseling.  In fact, the day before our first ultrasound I canceled the recommended appointment (recommended because of my "advanced maternal age": 37) with the genetic counselor telling her I'd call if anything was abnormal.  So foolishly confident.

Driving home from that ultrasound with the doctor's prediction of Trisomy 18, I remember looking at the seemingly normal drivers around me thinking, "That person is okay, their day unexciting, their life not rocked with bad news."

And then again a few days later, on the way home from the amniocentesis, I stopped into Target.  I remember standing by the shopping carts watching people chat, get carts, check out, and just move and breathe without effort.  I saw a family I know, but was too stunned to walk over and start talking.  It felt like a scene out of a movie, where people are busily spinning around, but you're at a standstill trying to remember what normal felt like.

I can't recall receiving such heartbreaking news before.  Information so sad it's paralyzing.  Thank heaven though, regardless of one's state of mind or emotions, the world keeps on spinning. You're forced to clear spaces in a foggy mind to keep functioning.  Life changes.  Thoughts are often preoccupied.  Tough decisions are made.  But needs must be met--particularly in a family with four other sweet, healthy, busy kids--thereby preventing "shut down" as an option.

I've found functioning through grief, just keeping myself busy with the mundane, is a helpful survival skill.  I realize this skill will be further refined by other events as life continues.  It's not a bad lesson.

Another lesson learned?  Buying makeup at Nordstrom is far more fun than therapy.


  1. a girl cannot go wrong at nordstrom. and i know exactly what you mean about the mundane things keeping you sane and moving on. thank you my friend for all you do for me through your creative words. love you.

  2. What a great post, Ali. This describes exactly how I felt when told our news by Katie. I remember looking around the airport while waiting to fly to her side and thinking I was somehow on another planet and if these people only realized what I was going through they would just stop, freeze, and wait for me to feel a part of life again. You are such an inspiration to me with your posts here. Duke and I are praying for you.
    Lynette Williams

  3. Sister Pulley,
    I finally got the chance to read your entire blog(instead of doing homework..) &just wanted to say how amazing you and your family are. We will miss you tons when you leave, &I love seeing your kids beautiful, cheerful faces at church, in the neighborhood, and when babysitting. You guys are probably some of the best people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. You are such a great role model to me, and I hope I can be as strong and amazing of a woman as you when I'm older.
    -Melanie Berriman <3