Sunday, June 25, 2017

Koa's Birth Story

It's take me a while to get this up.  Life with two is quite time consuming, plus who wants to sit at a computer when you have a beautiful little newborn to snuggle.  I am so in love with this little guy.  I think it's silly I was so nervous about having a boy.  I  didn't know what I was going to do with a boy, but now that he is here I know what I am going to do with him.. love the heck out of him! 

I've debated whether or not to share this as it may come across as whiney or me feeling sorry for myself.  After thinking about it, that was part of the problem with my health care, I was made to think I was being a handful for advocating for the best for myself and my baby.  As I continue to try and get help for myself and my baby I'm still getting this treatment and hope that getting this out there will encourage more women to stand up for themselves.  Getting Koa here wasn't the easiest.  He joined our family three weeks ago on a Sunday.  The Thursday before I started to have a stomach ache and feel a little crampy.  I became excited and thought I might be going into labor.  As Thursday wore on I realized the pain I was feeling wasn't coming and going like contractions , but was rather constant and it was getting worse.  After midnight we went into Mother Infant Care because the pain was becoming unbearable.  I was given meds and an IV, it was assumed the baby was either sitting on my 11 cm ovarian cyst or I was dehydrated because I had been throwing up and was unable to keep anything down.  Besides monitoring to see if I was in labor with contractions (I was not),  nothing was done to diagnose what was wrong.  As the IV was administered I fell asleep for an hour or two and was sent home upon waking up.  When we arrived home I tried to sleep but I couldn't as the pain was returning.  I laid in bed until noon.  Sean called our home teacher who came to help administer a priesthood blessing.  I threw up shortly after and wasn't able to keep anything down since the day before at breakfast. I didn't want to go back in for a number of reasons but after the blessing I felt like that was the best choice for us.  We went back in Friday afternoon, my pain was almost unbearable so they gave me heavier medicines, another IV and I slept for around 3-4 hours.  They suggested inducing me but I didn't want to go into labor exhausted and already in so much pain, I truly thought I would be able to get it under control.  We scheduled an induction for Monday. After they sent me home I noticed that if I laid in bed a certain way that my pain was tolerable so I didn't move from that spot until Saturday.  At this point I think I maybe had 6 hours of sleep since Thursday.  On Saturday I was so desperate for a diagnosis and no more assumptions.  I had all the symptoms of  appendicitis so I had Sean call and ask if that was a test that was even administered.  They told us no.  We packed our hospital bags up again, extremely frustrated we went back into Mother Infant Care.  This time I had the one doctor who had treated me seriously back in March when the other health care providers just shrugged their shoulders.  She had a serious conversation with me and said that the pain probably wasn't going anywhere and would only get worse.  She pulled an ultrasound out (something I had been asking for the past 2 days), and found that the cyst had actually moved up under my rib cage, and that the pain was from my ovary being stretch abnormally far in my abdomen.  She also told me that on Monday a surgeon specializing in difficult cases was flying in for other reasons and that she would see if she could get him to see me.  She also found that the amniotic fluid surrounding Koa was low and that we needed to be induced.   I cried.  This was not how I wanted things to go.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, show up at the hospital ready to push and leave the hospital right after his hearing test.  I hate hospitals, medical interventions, feeling like I had my choices taken away and in ten minutes everything was changing.  They tried to reassure me that I could get the epidural and that all the pain I was in would go away.  I hadn't even started labor and they were already offering me the epidural.  They must have thought I was crazy because I told them I didn't want one and that I also would not be getting a heparin lock.  That was a fun conversation.

I had Sean call our doula who arrived around the time they started my induction.   I tried to get labor started without pitocin, just a few hours in and they decided I would need it.   I think I labored and I saw "labored" because I honestly couldn't tell when I was having a contraction sometimes or if it was just the pain from the cyst, for maybe around 6 hours and then when they told me I would need pitocin I requested the epidural.  After contractions really started I realized that I would not be getting a break in between contractions, that I was already exhausted, had no food in me since Thursday, had little sleep and was realizing that I also had a marathon after I had the baby to face.  I was in so much pain from the cyst that I couldn't even sit up in bed to receive the epidural, that I had to lay down.  After I received the epidural I was out and slept until morning. It was the first real relief I had since the pain  had started on Thursday.  On Sunday morning I woke up feeling beyond rested.  It was wonderful.  Shortly after waking up it was time to push.  I requested that they turn the epidural off, so I could at least experience that aspect of labor. 

I really loved how labor went from this point.  I have more positive feelings about this labor than I did with Ely's because of how private and intimate this setting was. I remember during my delivery with Ely I was so full of fear, but this time I wasn't afraid and felt like I owned the situation. The only medical person present was our nurse while I was pushing, and the only other people in the room was my husband and doula.  I felt very ready for this and was glad that I could experience it this way at least.   It is so important that moms know that this is an option... you can turn that epidural off at any point, you don't have to be all or nothing!  After he started crowning our doctor came in.  At this point I could feel everything, and as crazy as this sounds I am glad, this was an important aspect to me with this delivery. I wanted to feel him enter this world, it was beautiful!

After he arrived my doula told me to look down.  I am so glad we opted for delayed cord clamping because I at least had the time he was on my chest until the cord stopped pulsating.  During that time he was receiving oxygen from me. 
  They put him on my chest and he was very calm.  He hardly cried.   Sean commented that he was looking at me,  and he was, his eyes were squinted but opened.  I was so excited he was chubby and noticed immediately that he had his daddy's chin.  Because we opted for delayed cord clamping I had that much time with him, which felt longer than 3 minutes thankfully.  According to his medical paperwork he was only on my chest for 3 minutes before they took him away to try and illicit a cry.  This upset me a bit, Ely did the same thing and I insisted she stay with me, she hardly cried and they did all testing on my chest.  They took him away and and I am not kidding when I say there were at least 20 medical professionals around the warmer.  I found that incredibly unnecessary and I wonder who was there on a needed basis or to just see what was going on.   There were at least 12 of them just standing around watching.  Our understanding was he was having a rough transition from the womb to breathing on his own.  Once they were able to get him to breathe successfully they brought him to me. I was able to nurse him and have skin to skin time. Sean was able to hold him and he had his testing done. We continued to see Pediatricians and were told that he would need to receive antibiotics which would mean a heparin lock for baby.  I was not excited about this, I was not happy they would not let Sean escort baby to the NICCU.  At this point I was so over the hospital and we were only into day 2 of our week long stay.  Koa handled the IV like a champ. I was having a hard time not being able to get out of bed to do things.  The pain from my cyst had returned and I was unable to walk even to the bathroom unassisted. It was so different from when I delivered Ely.  I was running around the hospital room an hour after I delivered her and this time I need help sitting up in bed. We saw the doctor that decided to induce me on Saturday vs waiting until Sunday.  She looked at baby and I told her I was still in pain. 
The surgeon came to my room shortly after having Koa.  In that moment I didn't realize how blessed I was to actually be seeing him.  He was a specialist from Guam, that had flown in to do surgeries on cancer patients.  I just happened to be someone he could fit into his schedule during the 3 days he was there.   We discussed when I would have surgery and it would either be the very next day or the day after.  The next morning mid breakfast I had them come in and take my breakfast away and I got scolded for eating because I was having surgery that day.  Around lunch time the surgeon came in again to discuss what it was I wanted exactly from surgery.  I told them I didn't want the cyst drained, but removed, I didn't care if they saved the ovary, I didn't care for they gave me huge incisions.  I had actually had this surgery once before, that was done poorly and the cyst was never removed and grown back into the problem I was currently having.   I think my last surgeon was trying to save my ovary and make sure I didn't have a huge incision so she just drained it instead of removing it.  It eventually came down to me telling the surgeon that I wanted the ovary removed, a cyst couldn't grow back on an ovary that wasn't there.  After our discussion the surgery was moved until the next day, so we could thankfully have a family day. 

Ely came to visit us in the hospital and it was such a special experience having her come. My wonderful visiting teacher brought her so we could have some time together before the surgery.   When Ely entered the hospital room she looked quite confused, and she wouldn't talk to us which was kind of odd for her because she is a chatter box.  It took her a while to warm up to Koa, when she first held him she was quite unsure about the situation.  After a while she started speaking to us and acting like her regular self.  The doctor came into our room to take Koa away for a procedure, as they wheeled him away, Ely started crying and was seriously concerned that they were taking her little brother away and asked "Where are they taking him?"-- Sweetest, most heart melting thing ever!   I am so glad we had a family day before the surgery.  It was such a good thing we had Ely come to visit then.  

The next morning I went into surgery and leaving my baby was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I left Sean lined up with 2 wet nurses who he had to contact and who I will be eternally grateful for.   We were told the surgery would only be 45 minutes long.  It ended up taking around 4 hours.  When they got in there, it was a much bigger mess than anticipated.   Turns out, the reason I was in so much pain was because my ovary was stretched up abnormally under my rib cage and the cyst had caused it to torque (something several doctors said was unlikely).  The cyst was also stuck to my liver and that in response to all these issues that had happened my body had put a protective coat over the cyst.  My ovary was dead.  It had to be removed, I was just lucky that I had requested it and knew it was happening before they put me under.  The pictures are pretty gnarly and Sean made sure he showed the nurses who treated me like I was being over dramatic about my pain. 

After all was said and done, I realized I wasn't just lucky but incredibly blessed. There were several issues with my health care up to this point.   I don't think there was a surgeon equipped to perform this surgery on Okinawa.  My doctors had told me that doing a surgery like this right after delivery would be dangerous and extremely difficult because the uterus would be difficult to work around.  I am blessed that it acted up in the time frame that it did, that it happened in such a way that I could be induced, have our baby, and then have surgery just a few days later.  This surgeon wasn't here to see me, but I was blessed in that I was able to be seen by him and receive the help I needed.  He saw me the day after my surgery to check up on me, and then flew out the following day.  Had that timeline been any different I don't know how things would have turned out.  With my ovary being dead, I don't know what kind of issues that could have presented had it stayed in for another 6 weeks, because 6 weeks post delivery was when all the other doctors on Okinawa wanted to wait to do the surgery.  I've tried to focus on these miraculous positive aspects as I continue healing from delivering a baby and then going through a major abdominal surgery.  I am eternally gratefully to my Heavenly Father for all the angels that blessed our lives during this time.  It was hard on us but we were able to get through with our amazing community out here on Okinawa.  

Dr. Whittemore who delivered him.

Our amazing nurse!  Seriously, so so incredible.

When Ely was able to hold him for the first time.  She was so unsure at first you can see it in her face... which is hilarious because she LOVES babise!

He was FINALLY  able to wear clothes.  Because he had is IV in for so long we weren't able to dress him until the day we left.  

So glad to be going home!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Koa Jude

Our wonderful friend came to the hospital to take some photos for us.   I am still working on getting our birth story up, I was not healthy following Koa's birth and ended up needing a surgery three days after he was born.  An hour after Ely was born,  I was running around the room taking photographs of her.    It was a discouraging circumstance I was not able to do the same for Koa.  I was of course able to get some from the bed but I missed being able to get a quality photo, to manipulate placement in the room and various settings.  To have a friend come in with an understanding of capturing beautiful photos  was such a gift to us.  These were taken when Koa was 2 days old. 
Photo Credit: Anna Dixon

I can't believe we are a family of 4!


I love his dark hair!  It is already starting to lighten the way his sister's did.  

I love that Sean is wearing a Superman shirt.  These photos were rather impromptu, how appropriate that he wear this shirt.   Thursday night we had started with the late late nights in the ER, and faced many sleepless nights prior to Koa's birth.  Add a newborn in the mix and a wife that can't leave her bed and you have one amazing, sleep deprived husband.  It was not planned he wear this shirt, I love that fate would have it that Sean was left with it being his only clean shirt for photos.

My heart melts a million times when she expresses her love for her brother.  
I'm glad she warmed up to him, she was not too sure of the whole situation at first.  When the nurse took him away for a procedure, she started crying and was really upset because they took him away.  It was the sweetest thing! She was so happy to have him back!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Maternity Photos- Baby boy

When we first moved to Okinawa, I stumbled across Charlene Batres Photography and was completely blown away by her maternity photos.  She made each one of her clients looked like beautiful, pregnant goddesses.  I thought to myself "darnit, I won't be getting pregnant here if I was I would totally go to her."  Ha. Lo and behold, I'm on Okinawa and quite pregnant.  I have gone through so many ups and downs this pregnancy, and I go through moments of guilt because I don't think about my son enough and feel like I've enjoyed this pregnancy as much as I should. You don't need maternity photos, but I sure as heck am glad I did them.  I needed something to really get me excited about this little guy, to remind me this should be the HAPPIEST time in my life.  Reminders that the changes my body is going through are beautiful. I also took some full on uncovered belly photos which I am SO excited about.   During my pregnancy with Ely I let what society thinks get the better of me and I didn't take any photos of my belly because some people think it's weird.  I didn't think it was weird, but because others did I chose to not take any until one day I decided,  I want to remember what this looks like.  It was in my sports bra and jogging shorts and so not glamorous.  I still have the photo but it definitely wasn't as beautiful as I felt.  I feel like these totally capture it. The excitement, love, beauty.  There is also our beautiful Okinawa island in every aspect of these photos.  I want to remember carrying my Oki baby here, the calm days where we were able to go to the beach and enjoy one another's company.  

Charlene has something like 35 maternity gowns to choose from.  When I went to go try them on her husband (who is this stocky military guy) makes the gowns and he told me of this red one he was making.  I decided to take a gamble and not see it until the day of photos.   I was freaking out about it all week.  I almost sent her a message 20 times telling her I changed my mind and was going to select another gown.  We were going to just do a beach shoot and I thought a diva red dress was just too much for the beach. She told me she wanted to head up to the resort by the beach once we arrived and get some stairs pictures in front of a church.  Not having seen the church I was really uneasy about it, I almost said no.  Letting go and having trust sometimes can really be beneficial.  It was a bonus as well, each client just gets one location and I was lucky enough to get 2.  I was falling in love with the Okinawa spring flowers at this time, and was a little saddened I wouldn't get any in my photos if I went with a beach shoot. 2 of these red dress photos have some of the beautiful Okinawan flowers that come in bloom during the spring on island.    

   One of my most favorite photos ever. Our little family, Sean holding one of our babies, me holding the other with the ocean behind us and Okinawan palms.   

With my little ones.  

The guy of my dreams. 

I am so excited that so many of the plants I love that are unique to this island are in this photo. The baby palm, the leaves at the bottom of the red flowers.  It's a summary of my Oki island plant obsession, totally impromptu and unplanned photo as well.   

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

This Easter weekend has made my heart so full.  Sean and I were able to teach a lesson this Sunday to our youth Sunday school class about the importance of Christ's Resurrection and because of it, what it means for us. For me, this gives me hope.  That one day I will live with my loved ones again, that with death, it is not the end.  We showed them 3 videos and challenged them to share one of them with someone this week, I thought I would follow through with this challenge as well.  It is a beautiful video, I hope you take the time to watch it and feel the peace it brings me knowing that he lives!

Sean took Ely to most of the Easter festivities.  I had to work that morning and had students dancing at this event that I instruct. I was able to squeeze in the Easter egg hunt and lunch with my family which I was so grateful for.  He took more videos than pictures so I could see her reactions.  This was an attempt at the Easter bunny who she was fascinated with but also afraid of!  

Poor thing wasn't sure what to do! They can be a little creepy!

Mommy arriving! I so love these pictures Sean took.  I loved being able to be there for this Easter egg hunt, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it and made it with ten minutes to spare.  I was genuinely so happy about it! 

One of my most favorite photos ever with my girl.

 Easter morning fun.  

The Easter bunny brought her a unicorn horn!  

 She's 2 and posing for pictures!  She loves this horn!  She isn't crazy about headbands so the fact that she wore it this long was a miracle!   

 Sometimes the poses need some work haha!  She loved the dress Grandma Lily gave her!

Every now and then she sneaks into her baby brother's room. 

 Right before we peeled them to make deviled eggs.  We loved being able to dye them with silk ties, a craft Nana and Papa sent us.