Friday, May 29, 2015

Big Sister Love.

 With oooing and ahhing non stop when they enter into their baby brothers NICU room, I just know these two big sisters are completely head over heels with the new little guy in our lives. Our girls had to wait about a week and a half after Anchor Joel was born before they could be in the same room with him. They did get a few sneak peeks in from the window (most adorable photo ever!)

NICU has a very strict policy that only brothers and sisters to the patient who are up to date with their immunizations. This might not seem like a big deal but when you aren't the most organized gal in the world (or even the neighborhood!) it takes some time to get all the records you need all compiled and ready to have your doctor sign off on them. Arly was behind on one shot, but she eagerly marched her way into the doctors office and took one for team Anchor. Finally, after 10 days of waiting, your sisters got to touch their precious little buddy... and I'm absolutely positive they fell in love all over again.
Both Arly & Alyn come in with us a couple of times per week and help with Anchor's 'hands on' time. They've gotten very good at doing his containment therapy (see how they have their hands lightly on his head and back? That makes him feel secure with boundaries... just like it feels for him in the womb). They also get to take his temperature under his arm pit and help with his 'milk pops!' - he loves a q-tip dipped in breast milk and rolled on his tongue. It's his absolutely favorite part of hands on care I'm sure of it!

I can't wait until the day when those precious little hands are holding their baby brother... tickling his toes... playing cars with him on the floor... throwing balls back and forth to each other. Some day.... sooner than we'll ever imagine.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Full Surrender

As I sit here tonight in a dim room with the sporadic sounds of monitors beeping, I'm trying to recall the next little segment of our story. I can't remember much. Other than the guilt of our big girls getting ready to head over to sleepovers with friends and play softball games the next day, knowing I wouldn't be there for them. I'm the button wearing, hair braiding, snack making, loud cheering mama. Avin was with some friends for the day and Joel was going to sleep at our house with her that Saturday night. The plan was for the two of them to go to church Sunday morning and we would all get a restful nights sleep. 

I believe it was sometime around 4am I started to really feel yucky. My upper abdomen hurt so bad that it hurt to breathe. I couldn't tell if I was just anxious (I've never had an anxiety attack and was wondering if maybe that was what was happening), or if it was heartburn (but the tums and antacids weren't working)... I just hurt. 

My blood pressure started raising then and even after three rounds of medicine administered via iv it wouldn't stay down. So back on the magnesium I went... With strict bed rest... catheter and all. Joel came around 630 Sunday morning and didn't leave my side again. 

They tried giving me ambein to help me sleep but that was horrid. It messed with my head big time. They took away all foods and I could only have clear liquids on Sunday. 

Because of the medicines and magnesium I don't remember a whole lot of Sunday day or night. I do remember missing my kids. I do remember seeing Joel sitting at the foot of my bed praying and reading his Bible out loud to me. I do remember telling myself over and over that God is in control. Because I was losing all control I thought I had. 

Monday morning was the morning that we had to give up all control and fully submit to The Lord. It was around 6am that Dr Bakshi and Dr Shepherd came in to tell us the results of some lab work taken earlier that morning. It turns out the pain I felt and couldn't describe or get rid of was in fact my liver being stressed. When you combine that with my extremely high protein count, the blood pressures being elevated, they knew that my body was not a safe environment for our little baby to grow and thrive in. They also knew that the only cure for my disease of Preeclampsia was delivery. 

When they told us that they were bumping the regularly schedule surgery first thing that morning because we were going in for an emergency c-section, I was crushed. I felt a heap of guilt thinking that I wasn't doing my motherly duty of keeping my baby safe. I was flooded with doubt on the outcome. But that is when the Holy Spirit took over and I knew that whatever happens in that OR - whatever happens to me or our tiny baby - we would worship and praise our sovereign God. Always. 

Joel called our dear friend and pastor to pray with and for us before I was wheeled away into surgery. Both doctors prayed with us. I kissed my husband and knew that I was fully surrendered; fully submitted to The Lord's plan. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Anchor Update

Today, Joel and I sit quietly in Anchor boys dark NICU room. He is so content just sleeping like this. 
Yes, you're seeing this correctly. Face down, in his bed, whole face buried in his nest. He had such a hard time working to keep his oxygen levels up with the cpap yesterday but the overnight nurse put him face down and he is doing so much better. It's easier for the micro preemies to get the air into their lungs when they are on their tummies. Their lungs have more support and they don't have to labor as hard to get them to expand all the way. 

Because he is being so picky about which position he is in and his rocky day yesterday, we are giving him a 'day off' from getting in and out of his isolette (his bed.) This means that I don't get to have skin to skin time with him. Do I get bummed? Absolutely. There is nothing more I want in this world than to just smell my baby boy. Every day. And it hurts my heart that I don't get to feel his little heart beat and hiccups on my chest. 

But each day, I prepare my heart for that little break. I just have to absolutely trust that the decisions made by his doctors and nurses each day are for his best development and growth. Even if that means a few tears. I'm ok with it because I don't have any other choice. 

So today, we just sit quietly and watch him. We pray. We celebrate a good day. 

He is back on his bilirubin lights, which is completely common for them to go on and off of the lights. Joel even said this morning, 'I bet he misses his beach time.' I think dad was right. He is having a great day so far just soaking in the rays and chillin' without much commotion. 

Guess what?! He is over 2 pounds!!!! 2 lb 1 oz to be exact. What a tank?! *Wink* His feedings have been bumped up from 1 1/2 cc every 3 hours to 3 cc every 3 hours. Just to get perspective, I took this photo last night to show how much milk I'm producing in one pumping session and how much he eats (through a tube). 
That's almost 6 oz in the mini sterilized bottles and the syringe is 11/2 cc. I guess my body knows that it has one job to do right now.... Make milk for this little handsome boy! (And apparently he likes to shop at Costco! Bulk supply is the name of the game!)

Thank you for your daily prayers. We appreciate them more than you'll ever know. 

Prayer request: 
To continue to keep Anchor comfortable in this new environment and for his little body to keep up with the demands of the outside world.  For his O2 levels to stay up and for him to tolerate more handling and different positions. (Maybe that's a selfish one for this mommy because I want nothing more than to snuggle my new son). For the staff here at Community Medical to know what's best for him and the other babies in their care.

Thanks always. We love you! 

The Mayonnaise Blur

Honestly, the next couple of days were pretty much one big blur for me. 

Our doctor started me on magnesium which is basically the equivalent of swimming in boiling mayonnaise. Sounds disgusting and it really was nasty. They put me on magnesium because with the high blood pressure, it helps prevent seizures in case of a sudden spike. I spend the rest of the day Thursday feeling like dump. I do remember getting the first of two steroid injections in my hip. I don't know if I was being a super wimp or just exhausted but I really thought that it was worse than any epidural I've ever received. But I would do anything for our unborn baby. 

Joel and I had both turned into 'slaves of the monitor.' Every 10-30 minutes they were checking my pressures and it was almost like the next reading determined how I was going to feel. After the whole day Thursday and through the night, we decided enough was enough. No matter what, we couldn't control the situation so we had to really shift our fears of the worse into faith and trust that Jesus had everything under control. We had to submit to Christ and 'Anchor' our faith in Him alone. We had to be steadfast in unwavering hope and trust. Even though it was hard, and sad, and scary; we had to constantly remind each other that this is God's plan. Definitely not ours... But we had to trust that He does all things for our good and for His glory. Always. Even when we don't understand. Even when we can't wrap our head around the whole situation. Even when it seems like you can't take it one more minute. Anchor. So during our 4 days in the hospital, we had decided that if this little one were to be a boy, he would be named Anchor Joel. (And if baby was a girl, her name would have been Arrow Jean... Jean for my Grandma Donna). 

Friday morning, we went up to see the high risk doctor for an ultrasound. They wanted to see how big baby was and to make sure baby had enough fluid. The high risk doctor we saw during our first ultrasounds was out on vacation so his fill in from Texas was here. As he was checking baby via ultrasound, Joel and I were hyper sensitive to everything he was observing. And that's when I saw it. Something I had NEVER seen on an ultrasound before.... I knew in one little look that it was a BOY!  I asked the doctor and he quickly moved the cameras view. Joel didn't believe me (or was too afraid to believe it really was a boy!) but because the doctor neither confirmed nor denied, I knew. We would finally have our son! I still kept that bit of information from the girls though. I still wanted them to be surprised. Even though I was 99% confident in what I saw, I still google searched images of 'boy ultrasounds' - yep, then I knew it was sure. 

Baby looked good. 1 lb 14 oz according to the ultrasound and fluid levels looked great.

Later that day, I got another steroid shot to help develop baby's lungs and brain. I was feeling better on that whole day in Friday so they took me off the magnesium. I was still getting my blood drawn every 6 hours since I was admitted. 

Saturday was great. Joel and I had started planning on me being in bed rest in the hospital for the long haul. The blood pressure meds seemed to be working so I just knew this would be my home for a while.  Once we hit our first goal of staying pregnant for the first 48 hours after the steroid shots, our next goal was 2 weeks, then a month. Rah and every day we kept this precious child safe inside of me was crucial. So we wait...
Even our whole family was willing to wait. Together... With God... We can do anything. 

To be continued.... 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Anchor Update

First of all, I haven't been the best at keeping everyone updated daily on our new little mister. I'm blaming the drugs.... Oxycodone isn't a fan of mine. But the feelings are mutual. 

On Wednesday, Anchor was taken off the ventilator which was super exciting. He is now able to lay on his tummy which he absolutely loves. They also have taken him off the bilirubin lights so no more cool dude shades or 'under armor' sweatband for now (Arly thought that was the cutest little headband! - Thanks Auntie Jackie!) They have also increased the amount of his feedings. He now gets 1 1/2 cc of breast milk in his feeding tube every 3 hours. 

He is now on a CPAP (forced oxygen given through nose plugs). This morning, there was a lot of commotion in the NICU and I think our little man could feel the stress of the environment. We came in for our 8 am hands on time and his oxygen levels were pretty low (in 50s when they like them between 86-97). It was the first time I felt weak in my knees. He was also lying on his back since they had just done an X-ray of his lungs and his PICC line - PICC line is still perfectly placed. The wanted to monitor the lower lungs to make sure they were expanding properly. The blood vessels are working pretty hard but his blood gas levels are good. He had had increased O2 levels today. 

Think of this: your windpipe is about the size of your ring finger. If you were to have a straw that size to breathe out of and had to run up and down flights of stairs... That is what it's like for him. Using his little premature lungs in this big outside world is hard work. I mean, look at his tiniest most precious little ring finger. 

And even still, I got a 3 hour hold in. That is the most precious part of my days right now. It almost feels like we are on autopilot. One day is blurrin to the next. But it's ok. It's more than ok. It's perfect because this is just where we are at right now. One day at a time, even if we don't have a clue what day it is. 

Prayer request: for strength and stamina for Anchor to help his learn to breathe on his own; for wisdom and strength for the NICU nurses and doctors, and for our family to keep our stamina up as we are adjusting to our new schedule and routine. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

But I'm Only 26 Weeks Pregnant

I want to share our story. I feel the urge to write it all down at once and document everything so I never forget. I want this for our family to remember.... But I also want to share as there have been many of our kind family, friends, aquaintances, and even strangers who have been praying for us and I feel that you all should be in the know of our journey. I've been guarding my heart but I feel it's time to slowly walk through this journey right here behind this keyboard. 
(My last pregnancy photo...)

When I showed up at the hospital for just a quick check up on our baby, I had no idea in a million years that we were so close to meeting our sweet 'ninja' baby. (Ninja because this little baby was the hardest kicker and was constantly moving, jabbing and punching in my tummy!)

It was just a regular morning on Thursday April 30th. I had a regular scheduled doctor appointment on the Tuesday before. During this appointment, I had gained 17 lbs in the past month! I mean I may have had a few donuts but 17 lbs worth? It was also very clear that I had started dumping a lot of protein. This isn't really a new thing for me. I had preeclampsia at the end of my pregnancy with Arly; mild toxemia during my pregnancy with Alyn; and slightly elevated blood pressure at the end of carrying Avin. Each time it happened later  and later and my symptoms got milder. 

Just to double check my protein levels, my amazing doctor ordered me to do a 24 hour protein count. This is also something that didn't surprise me. I've done this plenty of times. Enough times to know I'm a '2 jugger.' (Did I just really share that? Well hydrated I guess.)

I woke up on Thursday morning and was in a bit of a rush. I had just gotten the girls up, changed Avin's diaper and told the girls I'd be right back. I just had to run my samples to the lab and get a little blood drawn. I'd only be gone for 45 minutes tops. I left without getting them more milk. I would just grab it on my way home, just in time for breakfast. 

I had a nagging headache that woke me around 4am that morning and it just wouldn't go away. Something (or Someone) made me pull out the blood pressure cuff and check my pressure. 
I was so surprised to see that it was elevated. I hadn't had an issue at all during this pregnancy. Why now? What was going on? I'm only 26 weeks along. 

I text my doctor the pressure readings and told her about the headache. On my way into town for the quick stop at the lab, I got a call asking me to just bring and do my lab work at triage in the labor and delivery at the hospital. They wanted to just take a quick peek at the baby to make sure she or he was ok. I drove up to Joel's office and he jumped in the car with me. He goes to every appointment with me. So we went to the hospital...

And then I didn't leave. Long story a bit shorter; my blood pressures kept rising, the protein count from my 24hour collection was extremely high and my headache wasn't going away. 

My doctor came to our room in triage, and in the most gentlest voice, but with a concern that I couldn't shake, she told me that I wasn't leaving the hospital until I had this baby. 

What?! Umm... I'm only 26 weeks! This precious baby needs more time to grow! I have 3 kids at home... Who need milk and their hair braided for softball practice and their mama! My husband is a busy coach! It's just a headache... It'll go away! 

Within the hour I was admitted to room 6 and started my journey of being a human pin cushion. 

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


God is amazing! Let's just rest in that for a moment (plus forever!) He has knit and continues to perfectly assemble this little boy each and every moment. 

Anchor is doing amazing. Yesterday, Joel & I got to hold him for the first time while my sister Jackie  took some precious photos. He is so tiny but so big at the same time. He got his first feeding of mommas milk while we were there (1mL every 3 hours) and went to sleep as soon as he laid on my chest. We look forward to our daily time to hold him. He has been breathing room air for a couple days now so that is amazing. His brain scans came back great (they will do these every couple of weeks) and all of his levels for pretty much every thing have been fabulous as well. We know that this is a journey of endurance and strength for our little guy so your prayers mean more than you'll ever know. 

I'm feeling better as each day goes by. We are working through the tail end of the preeclampsia (which is why we had to deliver Anchor so early). Getting my blood pressure to even out and find the right dosage with medicine is getting closer and closer each day. I'm pretty sore and tired so will still be in the hospital for a couple more days. 

Joel is such an incredible man, husband and father. He has been with me through every moment and has prayed constantly for both myself and his new son. He has a lot on his plate now with us at the hospital, our 3 big amazing daughters at home and juggling the work and home life. But like I said, he's our rock and our leader. I've never been more in love. 

Please know that we have seen and felt each and every message and prayer. We know we need help and are completely humbled and grateful to have all of your willingness and prayers. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and our whole being for everything... Before, now and to come. I will be updating our blog throughout this whole journey and beyond. 

Thank you again, everyone, for everything.