Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello Goodbye

Hello 2016

Good-bye 2015

As I mentioned on Facebook, 2015 is best described as "the best of times, the worst of times". While there were great parts of the year, there were also some very difficult parts.

The best of 2015

  • Stephan's new job. While it was an adjustment at first (longer commute, longer hours, and different atmosphere), he is genuinely enjoying it now. We thought we were going to move closer, but decided that we needed to stay put, especially since...
  • We found out we were having baby #2! Admittedly, it was a wee bit of a surprise, mostly at how quickly it happened after Stephan started his new job. Thank you for waiting until Daddy had a new job, baby ;)
  • Finding out that baby #2 was going to be another little girl! I grew up with brothers and Stephan's sisters are about 12 years and three boys apart in age, so most bets were on me having a boy. Kate kept insisting she was getting a baby sister, and lo and behold, she was right. We were thrilled to be having another sweet little girl. 
  • Livia's birth. We love having her in our family and she's a sweetheart. It is an adjustment still, but we can't imagine our family without her. Her delivery was also really easy, so that was also nice.
  • Kate turning three, getting potty trained, and preschool. 
  • Getting a minivan. 
  • Just a few months after Livia was born, she got a new boy cousin. Hopefully they'll be buddies.
  • Kate and Livia got a new aunt. Ten days after Livia was born, their Uncle Brent married their (now) Aunt Michelle. Kate more or less claimed Michelle as her aunt even before they got engaged. And yes, I did attend a wedding ten days after giving birth. 
  • I turned 29. I plan to rock the last year of my 20s, and rock every birthday after that. 

The worst of times

  • Stephan's dad passed away after a very long battle with cancer. Basically our whole year centered around this. It has been hard, but we do feel his presence every so often. 
  • The pregnancy from hell. While we were delighted to have be having another baby, this pregnancy was very difficult. I was diagnosed with cholestasis at 28 weeks and had to go through nine weeks of itching hell. Then there was having gallbladder attacks two weeks before I had Livia. All of it was horrible. How horrible? I'm getting more sleep now with a young baby than I did before she was born. That's how bad. However, Livia is worth every last bit of it and I do not resent her in the slightest. 

Okay, so only two "worst of times" though our year seemed to center around both of them. I don't know what 2016 will bring us, though there are plans in place. Kate is starting a dance class and continuing with preschool. We are going to Disney Land with Stephan's family just after Kate's birthday. At some point, I want to visit my family in Texas. We weren't able to in 2015 because of my father-in-law's declining health and because I had a high risk pregnancy and wasn't allowed to travel. 

Bring it on 2016. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lovely Livia

Other than her birth story, Livia hasn't had a post dedicated to her.

(1) She's three months old now.

(2) We call her our little butterfly because she has a birthmark on back of her head (hidden by her hair) that looks like a butterfly. We like to think it's a butterfly kiss from her grandpa in heaven.

(3) When Livia was born, the general consensus was that she looked just like Stephan did as a baby. Nowadays, strangers say she looks just like me. Currently, the agreement is that she looks like a brunette Kate.

(4) Had I made it to my due date, she would have been just about the exact same weight Stephan was when he was born (on his due date, incidentally). At birth, he was a half-ounce shy of nine pounds. Yeah, I think I'm glad she came early.

(5) Whereas her sister was always long and lean, she seems to be going the short and chubby route.

(6) Snuggles. She loooves to be snuggled.

(7) She has my lips. Take that people who like to say she didn't get anything from me. Nyah!

(8) While her older sister was the blowout queen, she is the spit up queen.

(9) She doesn't always get a bottle, but when she does, she prefers the Playtex brand.

(10) People ask if she's easier or harder than Kate. I have no idea. She sleeps better, that's all I can say. She still isn't a very good sleeper though.

(11) She has kind of a squeaky cry, so we think she'll be a soprano.

(12) People have asked where her name came from. I just happened to find it early in the pregnancy in an article from Baby Center about alternatives to popular baby names, and it was listed as an alternative to Olivia. I talked Stephan into it, and it just seemed to fit.

(13) I have also been asked if Stephan was disappointed that "he" wasn't getting a boy. Nope, Stephan loves having girls.

(14) I recently realized that at some point, BOTH girls will go through puberty. This is unfamiliar territory people. I have no sisters. Stephan's sisters are really far apart in age. Our mothers are both a lot older than their sisters. Yeah, very unfamiliar territory. Luckily I have several years....right?

(15) We love our little Livia and can't imagine not having her in our family.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hello's me....

Hello from the mother SIIIIIIDE!!!!!

Check it out, I'm being relevant. I think?

Yes, it's been almost three months since I last updated. I've been a bit busy.

(1) Two kids. Need I say more?

(2) Okay fine, I'll elaborate. My days are spent nursing the baby, changing diapers (only for the baby, thankfully. Yay for Kate being potty trained), taking Kate to and from preschool, and keeping Kate from destroying the house and/or killing the baby.

(3) Between all of that, I have to figure out how to keep the household running and put dinner on the table when Stephan comes home from work. Needless to say, we've ordered a lot of pizza these last few months. Or I've done breakfast for dinner. Yeah, we've eaten a lot of breakfast for dinner.

(4) Despite me saying that I have to keep Kate from killing Livia, Kate really does love her baby sister. She just doesn't know how to be gentle, and well it's hard going from having all of mom's attention for over three years to having to share it with a baby. It was really rough at first, but it's better now...though at this writing she's pushing Livia in her swing with her (Kate's) feet. Just another day in our house...

(5) We went to a wedding when Livia was ten days old for Stephan's younger brother. Was I crazy? Probably, but I was feeling the best I had in literally MONTHS. Plus, I really like my new sister-in-law. I wasn't going to miss this. I may have overdone it a wee bit, but I have no regrets. After all, it was worth having a picture of Livia with the newlyweds right after they came out of the temple. Heh heh heh...

(6) Why do people like asking how babies sleep? They sleep a general rule. Livia sleeps better than Kate did, but that's not hard. Remember, Kate didn't sleep through the night until she was two years old. And THAT is why there's 3 1/2 years between kids. We have a better bassinet this time around and Livia is our second kid, so we SORT OF know what we're doing.

Though Livia still ends up in bed with us at some point in the night. Yeah yeah, I know. We'll get her out of there at some point.

(7) We had Livia's baby blessing on Sunday. My whole immediate family was able to come, which I was very happy about. I thought I would cajole the older brothers into coming, but it didn't take much convincing. Daddy gave her a nice blessing...from what I could hear. We had a bit of a baby boom in our ward this year, and I guess the other babies were singing for joy over their new baby friend. I may have advertised my older brothers' bachelorhood a little too much at the luncheon afterwards. Sorry guys.

(8) Postpartum hair loss. Oh my gosh, I hate this. I also hate the extra thick hair during pregnancy. Basically, my hair hates babies.

(9) Kate went to the allergist on Monday. Boo. She's still allergic to peanuts. Boooooo. But she's no longer allergic to sesame or sunflower seeds! Yay!

(10) We had family pictures (check out the banner). We did them at Target, which was basically a fifteen-minute shoot. Livia was considerate enough to poop AFTER the shoot was over.

(11) Konmari is awesome.

(12) These are my new favorite pancakes. Imagine if crepes and pancakes got married.

(13) Ikea is my new happy place.

(14) It took me almost a week to finish writing this.

(15) Maybe I'll write more often. Maybe.

(16) I'm turning 29 in two weeks. Somehow, this doesn't bother me. Maybe it's because we are seeing STAR WARS on my birthday. Don't disappoint, J.J. Abrams.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Livia's arrival

The Friday before I was induced, I went in for my twice-weekly NST. I had my blood drawn a few days before to check my Bile Acid and Liver Function a few days before and I asked the nurse who did my NST if she could check on that. She found my test results, and my BA level was 45--five points above "severe". This was with me being medicated. I was rushed into an appointment with one of the midwives--she consulted with two of the OBs and it was decided that we would still go forward with the plan to induce the following Wednesday.

On Labor Day, I found out that I was #5 on the hospital's induction call list. Somehow the next day, I moved up to the #2 slot so I woke up extra early (not that I slept much the night before anyway, because I had THE WORST itching that night) to wait for the call. At 7:30, my phone rang and the nurse said that my induction was scheduled for 9 a.m. So, we got Kate out of bed, loaded up the car, took her to my mother-in-law's house, and checked in at Labor & Delivery. My mother-in-law predicted that I would have a six-hour labor. I thought she was crazy.
Everyone should give birth with awesome views. Just saying.

Checked in and gowned! Excited to be meeting my baby

We waited about an hour for them to get everything ready. There were questions to answer, protocols to go over, nurses to meet, cervix to be checked (came in at 2 cm dilated already, yay!), etc. Finally around 10:30, they started pitocin.

With Kate, I was determined, come hell and high water, that I would NOT have an epidural. Well after a night of cervadil and five hours of pitocin and no progress, I changed my mind. She was born ten hours after the epidural. 

This time around, I decided very early on that I was going to be open-minded about pain relief. I knew that since it was more likely than not that I was going to have cholestasis again and therefore have to be induced early, it was probably best that I be more accepting of pain medication. I still practiced relaxation skills, like visualization and mindfulness, because they help with my depression/anxiety. My birth plan was this: healthy baby with as little damage to me as humanly possible. Having a high risk pregnancy really helps get your priorities in order. 

After a couple of hours on pitocin, it was getting harder to manage the contractions. I knew that I couldn't handle much worse pain, so the next time my nurse came in, I asked for the epidural. When the nurse anesthetist came in with her cart, I said, "You know how happy I am to see you, right?" She laughed. 

Epidural was administered, and within a half-hour, I was pretty much in heaven.

Oooh yeah
It was the PERFECT epidural. I could still move my legs, turn over on my sides, and feel the tightening of my belly...but I was NOT in the slightest bit of pain. I didn't press the button to increase the dosage once it was that good. 

When I was pregnant with Kate, I read about calling contractions "surges" or "birthing waves" or even "pressure waves" as a way of pain reduction. Well, the contractions felt like birthing waves AFTER I got that epidural. Ha!

About an hour after I got the epidural, the OB on call came to break my water (the midwife on call was at another delivery at another hospital that was taking a long time). I only felt a trickle and had expected more.

My midwife, who was called Kathryn, finally showed up. She checked me (I was at a four now) and she looked up my birth report with Kate (isn't technology grand?). She said, "I think you'll have this baby in just a few hours. You had your first pretty soon after they broke your water." Again, I scoffed at this. 

Then....I felt the gush. The student nurse came to check on me and I told her that either the catheter wasn't doing its job or my water broke. She checked, and confirmed that it had indeed broke. She brought the other nurses in and I was checked again--9.5 cm dilated. WHAT?! 

Kathryn came back in with a smile, "Well, didn't I tell you that you'd go fast?"

Suddenly, the room filled with nurses and a respiratory crew from the nursery (the antidepressant I'm on is associated with babies not crying at first). Even though I wasn't quite complete, Kathryn had me try pushing anyway to see if we could get the last "lip" out of the way. 

One push and Kathryn said, "Oh wow, this one has A LOT of hair!" They brought out the mirror like I had asked. 

Two more pushes, and Livia was on my stomach.

She was only there for a minute or so when they said that she wasn't pinking up fast enough, so they took her over to the warming table where the respiratory crew started working on her right away. I know she got weighed and measured at some point. Weight: 7 lb. 5 oz. (two ounces bigger than Kate, but a good-sized 37-weeker like her). Length: 18.5 inches (a half-inch shorter than Kate). Total amount of time in labor: 5 1/2 hours.

They finally had to take her down to the nursery. Stephan didn't know whether to stay with me or go with her.

"Go with her!" I commanded. "I have people taking care of me here!"

So he did.

Somewhere in all of this, the placenta came out, I got stitched up (only four stitches, woo!), and then I was given a menu so I could order dinner. I ordered grilled salmon. Yes, grilled salmon. It was delicious.

At some point, Stephan came back with Livia and she was doing better. We were taken to my room, I was given drugs, and I tried to nurse Livia. Unfortunately, we were having a really rough time partly because I was exhausted and a bit out of it because of the drugs (why oh why did that nurse give me two percocet?). I finally asked for a little bottle to give her, praying that it wouldn't wreck nursing for us. 5 ml and she was out like a light. My mother-in-law brought Kate to visit, and oh boy was Kate excited to meet her baby sister. 

When Kate and Grandma were getting ready to leave, my nurse came by again, and I asked if she could take Livia to the nursery. The nurse mentioned that she was probably going to take her anyway because Livia was grunting again. At some point, Stephan left, and I went to bed.

I was awoken in the middle of the night by my night nurse, who informed me that Livia had to be taken to the NICU. She was still grunting and her blood sugar had gotten low, and then while my nurse was giving her a bottle, her oxygen saturation levels were going nuts. It's a good thing I had sent Livia to the nursery, otherwise this would have gone unnoticed.

So the next few days, I spent trying to figure out how to nurse Livia and making it to feeding sessions. I'm really glad that the NICU was just down the hall from my room, rather than in a different place in the hospital like some are. I had hoped that Livia and I would be discharged at the same time, but it wasn't going to be. I stayed on as a boarder rather than patient on the last night so I could still nurse (nursing was finally starting to work well, thanks to wonderful lactation consultants and nurses). 

We got to go home yesterday, and we are happy that she is here and that she is healthy. I am grateful for hospitals and good medical care--I don't want to know what would happen to my little family without it. Some people might blame me being induced early for Livia's problems, but honestly, it really was better to have her out than in. Plus, we got to meet some amazing nurses in the NICU and now I'm convinced that NICU nurses are angels in disguise.

Now to figure out how to parent two kids. I hope we don't mess this one up :)

For those who are curious, Livia looks like her daddy. She does have my mouth though :D

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This pregnancy hates me

As if this pregnancy wasn't throwing me enough curveballs. Spotting in the first weeks, not finding little baby on ultrasound, holy food aversions and nausea Batman, subchorionic hematoma...and then being diagnosed with cholestasis at 28 weeks. In all of this, Stephan's dad was going through his last months, which brought emotional upheaval of its own. I thought I just had to deal with a few more weeks of itching hell, get induced at 37 weeks, and be done with it.

My gallbladder had other ideas.

I hit 35 weeks yesterday, and to celebrate, my gallbladder decided it had a death wish. Admittedly, I've been eating a lot of junk recently (sleep deprivation and stress does that), and my gallbladder must have decided that it couldn't take it anymore. At around three-something yesterday, I had a snack that I probably shouldn't have had because I really wasn't hungry (stress eating not a good idea). At first, I just felt really, really full. Then, the Right Upper Quadrant Pain (a normal thing in cholestasis pregnancies, unfortunatley) started. It was mild at first, but within a few hours, it became unbearable. I couldn't lie down. I couldn't get comfortable. I was breathing heavily. In short, I was miserable.

I tried calling my OB office, but it was closed.

Finally, I decided that we were going to the hospital. Stephan hemmed and hawed about it for a little bit, until I screamed at him, "I would rather go through childbirth than this! We are going to the hospital NOW! GET YOUR SHOES ON!" Pain removes all tact. He got his shoes on and we loaded up into the van.

We don't live that far from the hospital, but oh man it felt like it was taking forever. I was writhing, screaming at the top of my lungs, and begging the good Lord to put me out of my misery

Stephan dropped me off the at the ER entrance so he could go park the car. I went in, and said, "I'm 35 weeks pregnant. I have cholestasis, and I am having severe right upper quadrant pain." The receptionists were very kind. "We'll take you up to labor/delivery since you're so far along in your pregnancy. Would you like a wheelchair?" To which I said yes. We met Stephan and Kate outside and they walked with us.

We got up to labor/delivery and I told the nurses what was up. They got my info and put me in the first triage room. My favorite midwife was on call that night and already at the hospital. I was offered percocet for the pain and I gladly took it, although it took forever to work. I also had blood drawn and they had a hard time finding a good vein because I was slightly dehydrated. Oh, and I was strapped to monitors too, but I was glad that I was getting help. My midwife ordered an abdominal ultrasound and I was wheeled down there for that. After I got back to the triage room, the nurse said that it looked like my gallbladder was inflamed, but the radiologist had to verify it first.

The percocet finally started kicking in, and my mother-in-law came to take Kate to her house. We were thinking she'd take her until we were done at the hospital, but she said that Kate was going to stay overnight.

My midwife came back in and verified that yes, it was my gallbladder and it could very well be gallstones or "sludge". She also informed me that I was having contractions, which I wasn't really feeling (Braxton Hicks don't really bother me like other women I guess). I was checked, and apparently I'm already one centimeter dilated and 80% effaced. Let this mean a much easier labor.

After a while, the pain was completely gone. Thank you percocet!

My prognosis? I don't need my gallbladder out right now because my liver enzyme levels are really good (thank you Ursodiol) and because of how far along I am. However, my midwife does want me to see a surgeon to establish a good rapport in case I do end up needing it out in the future...which could happen. I also need to eat healthier than I have been, and try to keep fried fatty food to a minimum. Meal time isn't hard for healthy's snacking that I struggle with :(

Oh, and I have to take it easy for the next couple of weeks because I'm already dilating and almost completely effaced. We don't want me going into labor too early. Easier said than done. I'm going to be packing a hospital bag, JUST in case.

I was discharged around ten o'clock last night and we got a late meal at IHOP. Egg white vegetable omelette? Don't mind if I do.

I'm feeling a lot better today, though I'm pretty tired. I slept a lot better last night, that's for certain. Stephan telecommuted for work today so he could take care of me. Kate is home now after having lots of fun with Grandma Kathy :) I do have a prescription for percocet that I'll be filling soon, but I'm only to take it if I have another severe attack and I have to call the midwives if I do.

If any of you have healthy snack ideas, send them my way! I need easy, healthy snacks for when I'm nursing this baby because I get SO HUNGRY nursing :)

So ends my hospital saga. I hope that's the last one until I'm induced.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grandpa passes away and I have cholestasis again

Things have been a bit crazy lately.

Just a few weeks ago, Stephan's dad passed away after a long battle with leiomyosarcoma

Wait, what?!

We had known for some time that my father-in-law was dying, but I kept quiet about it here and on social media in general out of respect for my family's privacy and because he lived with the cancer for much longer than the experts expected, we had no idea when he would go.

The last several months have been some of the hardest we've experienced as a family. We pretty much put our lives on hold so we could say good-bye when the time came. Kate started to become scared of Grandpa because of the pain drugs he was taking and the equipment he needed to function. First it was a walker, then a wheelchair, then he needed a morphine pump, oxygen, and finally a hospital bed. Some people have told us, "Oh, Kate is old enough that she'll remember her grandfather!" I'm not sure how I feel about her remembering her grandpa being close to death.

Then there are the people who ask, "Did he suffer long?"

I am going to lay it out right now: never ask that question. NEVER. It is in poor taste, and frankly, it's none of your business because the surviving family members are grieving enough as it is. He had cancer and he battled it for more than a decade (there was a time he was in remission), does that answer your question?

The funeral was a week after he passed away, and it was a good funeral (as far as funerals go). Kate did remarkably well during the service and the events afterwards. Well, during the funeral itself when we were trying to shush her, she said, "No! I want to be LOUD!" Oh, Kate. She slept most of the way to Mendon (a small town by Logan) for the graveside service, which was a tender mercy.

Stephan gave the dedicatory prayer, and it was the most beautiful dedicatory I have ever heard in the many funerals I've ever attended (my humble opinion, of course).

While we are grateful he is no longer in pain, we do miss him. This has been very hard for Stephan, especially since he still has ALL of his grandparents. To lose a parent before losing a grandparent...that is just wrong. Cancer is unfair like that. Mean, mean cancer.

And in other news, I have cholestasis again. This time, the itching came in full swing at 28 weeks and that is when I was diagnosed. So while I was diagnosed at 35 weeks last time and only had two weeks from onset to induction, I will have put up with this itching for a total of nine weeks by the time I deliver (which should be in three weeks, thank goodness).

So right now, I'm taking drugs to help with the itching, making the doctor's office my home away from home, and not getting much sleep. This stinks. Basically, it will be a great act of faith (or stupidity) if I decide to have another child after this one. I'm pretty sure I said the same last time, which is one reason why there will be 3 1/2 years between Kate and her little sister.

What's funny is that last time, I was so disappointed about being induced and this time I can hardly wait. Birth plan? Basically, healthy baby with as little damage to me as humanly possible. Luckily, Little Sis is staying healthy right now and has been measuring either on schedule or slightly ahead. She is also very active. Keep it up sweetie :)

In GOOD news, we have a minivan. Yup.

That's all for now. I'll probably write more about the cholestasis at another time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Never-ending Fever

Kate doesn't get ill often, but when she does, it's usually only for a few days tops and then all is right in the world again.

So, when she woke up in the wee hours of Sunday morning last week with a fever, we thought that it would be over in a few days and we could continue on with our lives.

We were wrong.

Sunday, we all stayed home from church to keep Kate from spreading germs. She seemed to want us both, so it was good that we were all home together. She slept a lot, we dosed her with children's Tylenol and Advil, etc.

Monday, the fever was still there and again, she slept a lot. She drank lots of water and lemonade, but didn't really want to eat. Then she threw up--that's when I called the doctor. By the time we got to the doctor, she was acting pretty normal and her fever was under control. The doctor said it was just a bug and that she would get over it soon enough.

She never threw up again, thank goodness. On Tuesday, she didn't go to preschool and again, she slept and slept and slept. Only wanted to drink water and once in a while I convinced her to have a popsicle just so she could have some calories at least. I thought for sure she would be better by Wednesday, so she could go to play group and then go back to preschool on Thursday.


Wednesday and Thursday were more or less the same--fever, sleeping, and little appetite. By this point, I was panicking. What if she had something even worse? What if she had gotten rabies from that cat bite she got on Memorial Day? She wasn't even taking ice cream, which made me think, "OH MY GOSH, SHE'S DYING!" I offered many prayers for her health.

I should mention that I was sleep deprived because Kate was waking up all hours of the night asking for water. I'm also pregnant, which doesn't lend itself to having lots of energy. Double whammy. It doesn't help that I have an anxiety disorder, so I naturally tend to panic. But bear with me, I wasn't used to Kate being sick for so long. She's a very healthy child (apart from eczema and food allergies)--I mean, she's only had antibiotics ONCE in her three years of life and that was in eye drop form. Yeah, I got really lucky in the healthy kid department. We consulted with Nurse Grandma numerous times, who assured us that Kate would be just fine. I have decided that everyone needs to be related to a nurse.

By Friday, things were starting to look up. Her fever was in the low grade range, so we hardly had to give her medicine. She was still sleepy, but she at least ate a little macaroni and cheese and drank some apple juice for lunch. That night, her fever broke. HALLELUJAH! I may or may not have sung (to the tune of "The Morning Breaks"), "The fever breaks, the virus flees!" Hey, I was sleep deprived, give me a break.

So now, my sweet, sassy little girl is back and making up for lost calories by eating everything in sight. I like having my good eater back.

We all went to church today, and it was joyous. I was chatting with another mom about Kate's illness, and her Nursery leader said that her daughter (who is about the same age) had the exact same thing about a month ago--waking up all night asking for water and all! She had also freaked out when her daughter had it (because the fever just would not break), so now I don't feel silly.

Now we can venture out into the land of the living (ha ha), although now we're entering a heat wave with highs in the triple digits. I think we'll be spending quality time at the pool and in our air conditioned condo. God bless air conditioning.

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