Getting "Nothing" Done

So there are these days — usually and almost every day where I'm lucky to take a shower, unload the dishwasher, cook a meal or tidy up. Welcome to my new life. Life with a baby. I wouldn't trade my dirty house for anything though. I'm training myself and having to redirect my brain. Often times I think, oh my goodness, I'm getting "nothing" done, but then I remember I'm doing the most important thing — holding my baby. Just in these short six week with Valor, I've seen how fast he has already grown and changed. And in maybe a year or so, Valor isn't going to want these constant snuggles with mama. Things will be different. My baby boy will grow up and want to play in the mud. Which, I am excited for that stage too - each is special in its own way. But right now I'm reminding myself I am getting lots done — I'm accomplishing the most important thing. I'm bonding with my baby. I'm loving my baby. I'm snuggling my baby. I'm savoring his baby squeaks, snorts and clean baby scent. I'm taking a mental picture of his tiny features, the way he looks at me with heavy eyes and precious eyelashes. I hold him tight as he naps and his tiny pucker slowly phantom nurses. So I guess in the end, it depends how you define "nothing."

"Babies Don’t Keep"
Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Valor's Newborn Photo Session

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
Dorothea Lange

A week after Valor was born, we had Chrystl Roberge Photography come to our home and capture our sweet little one. In these photos, Valor is two weeks old (9/16/14). I cannot believe how much he has already changed from these photographs to now! Anyway, I'll stop talking and let you see some of the beauty that Chrystl captured:

Valor - One Month Birthday

Dear Valor,

Today we celebrate your one month birthday. Your Great Grandpa and Grama called and sang you "happy birthday." Your Grandma and Grandpa Y are here snuggling you tight today. You truly are our miracle baby and our greatest adventure. I thank The Lord each day that you were spared and healthy, even though you had such a traumatic entrance into the world.

Oh babe, every day I just can't stop admiring you. I can't help but smile. No baby has ever been so perfect - your little features - your expressionful face - your full head of hair - just how teeny tiny you are!

You finally learned how to breastfeed just in time for your actual due date. I think it even helped you fatten up! When we brought you home from the NICU you were 4 pounds 6 ounces, but we went to the doctor the other day, you claimed the blue-weight gaining-champion ribbon. You tipped the scale at 6 pounds 7 ounces, the same weight as your Grandma W when she was born!

Valor, you love when I sing "you are my sunshine" and it usually calms you down. Braxton, your big fur ball brother loves to sniff you. My heart melts seeing Daddy love on you. But most of all, you are such a snuggly cuddle bug and I think that is my most favorite.

So happy one month birthday Dear One. I'm so glad our roller coaster adventure the last month gave us you. We are truly blessed.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

I love you - forever and always,

Valor's Birth Story - Part 2

God doesn't give us what we can handle. God helps us handle what we are given.

Read Valor's Birth Story Part 1 here.

So after a successful, keeping baby-in-utero appendectomy, I spent a horribly painful week in my hospital bed recovering with continued and constant monitoring of our sweet, strong, courageous babe.

On Tuesday morning, September 2nd, a few nurses kept coming into my room, quietly looking at the strip coming from the monitor. Twice they pulled off sections and took them out of my room. A little later on I found out they were bringing the strips for the high-risk OB to evaluate. After a little more time passed, I was moved to a different room and my OB came in. He looked at Husband and me and told us our little one's heart rate kept dropping to dangerous levels - three strikes and he's out. So, of course little Valor's heart rate plummeted for a third time. Quickly my L&D room filled with staff, physicians, nurses, and the Director of Women's Services. It was organized, but at the time it seemed stressful and chaotic as everyone did their part. About 10 people were poking me, asking questions, handing me pens and clipboards for consents, people on the phone to get the OR prepped, and others trying to monitor baby. It all happened so fast and I couldn't control my body. All I could do was shake. I was only 36 weeks. Baby Valor still had four weeks to grow but we were going in to rescue baby Valor via emergency c-section.

Hurriedly the nurses pulled the sides of my bed up and we started rolling, quickly to the OR. Husband followed shortly behind as someone threw a pair of scrubs at him to change. Usually the soon-to-be dad is not allowed in the OR for emergency c-sections, but thankfully they made an exception for us.

Leaving Husband behind while he scrubbed in, I rolled into the OR. I was transferred to a cold, hard table, and the organized chaos continued. The anesthesiologist quickly got started on my spinal. He had me sit up on the table. At this point I was so thankful for my OB as I leaned against him and he helped me to contain my shaking and breathe through the fear. As I leaned against my OB, he calmly and quietly spoke into my ear, reassuring me. And all I could do was breathe deep and kept repeating "you are my refuge and strength" because I knew I couldn't do this on my own. I was scared and I needed God's refuge and strength. Second major abdominal surgery within a short amount of time, plus the safety of our little one.

Once the spinal was completed the anesthesiologist helped me lay down on the table. My arms were strapped down straight out, like on a cross. While waiting for the spinal to take affect, my OB started taking out the drain from my appendectomy. It hurt like crazy. Finally my lower half started losing feeling and Husband was allowed in the OR. He came and sat right next to my head on the right side, and gently put his hands on my arm and shoulder. Swiftly they sliced horizontally into my abdomen. Breaking the bag of waters created a fountain, soaking my OB. Then to get through all the layers, I felt rough tugging - not painful, just lots of pressure and movement - very strange. At this point I was crying, happy tears. I was eager to hold my little one. After what felt like a while, I heard the OB say that my uterus was filled with meconium and Valor's cord was wrapped around his neck. But swiftly baby Valor was rescued from my uterus and my OB exclaimed, "congratulations, you have a beautiful baby boy!" The NICU nurses immediately took Valor to check and clean him up. They brought our bundled babe to my shoulder and we got our first glance of our little resilient miracle babe. After a minute or two, they took little Valor away to the NICU, as he required a four-hour observation. Husband followed our little man while I was sewn back up and returned to my room for recovery.

Our first family photo.

Valor Emerson
Born 9/2/14
2:45 pm
4 lb 14 oz
19 in

When I was returned to my room for recovery, Valor's proud grandparents were already there and oohing and ahhhing over him in the NICU. So thankful that my parents were able to be there to greet their very first grandchild and that Valor's other, out-of-state grandparents came in the following days.

I think my favorite was being able to FaceTime my sister all the way in Africa after Valor was born.

For the next three days in the hospital we enjoyed our new bundle of joy. Husband stepped up as daddy to Valor and took care of him through the nights as I was still trying to recover from all my body had been through.

The day after my c-section a horrific headache formed. I was given numerous types of medications but nothing seemed to take it away. An anesthesiologist came for a consult due to the headache and was concerned it may have been a "spinal headache." During that consult, I learned that spinal headaches are very rare yet can occur as a result of the spinal I received during the c-section. The spinal created a passage for spinal fluid to leak out, changing the pressure around my brain and spinal cord, developing my horrific, non-manageable-three-day headache. My headache was like no other and the pain was only lessened slightly when I laid completely flat. The way things had been going the last two weeks, I could not believe I was having another major, yet rare complication! Fearful of the anesthesiologist going back into my spinal column, it took me a little while to sign the consent forms. I spent two days resting and praying the headache would go away on its own.

Finally I signed the forms to have the blood patch procedure. The anesthesiologist started me on more IV fluids. To administer the blood patch, I had to sit up and sit extremely still — which he kept telling me the whole procedure. Per my request, Husband was able to sit in, just across the room where I could see him, yet outside of the sterile field. Thankfully he was there, I just focused my eyes on him as I tried with all my might to sit like a statue. The anesthesioloist then inserted a large needle into the same space as the area where I originally had the spinal. He then took a large quantity of blood from my arm and injected it into the epidural space. The blood then clotted and sealed the hole, stopping the spinal fluid leak. Almost immediately the procedure started taking affect and my headache became less. For the next two hours I had to lay on my back completely still. After two hours, it was like a miracle occurred — my pain level went from a nine all the way down to a one!

As my family, friend and doctors reflect back on all that happened, we understand the gravity of the events. I could have died. Valor could have died. So thankful and blessed that we were both spared and given life.

On Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 pm I was finally discharged after a long 12 day admission. Heart breakingly, we had to leave our little Valor in the NICU for an unknown amount of time, but those details will be shared in Valor's final section of his birth story – part 3.

Please excuse the poor quality iPhone photos. We had our DLSR packed and ready to go, yet as you can see, nothing goes as planned.

Valor's Birth Story — Part 1

Some people have birth stories to share. Well, I have a life and near death story to share...with a happy ending of course. This is a scary story, yet wrapped all in love, faith and prayer. Because my son and I visited death's door during this story, it is difficult to recollect and write. I'll be sharing our birth story in a few parts. So here it goes...part 1.

Ps. 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Monday evening, August 25th, Husband and I were spending a simple evening at home. I grew to a very uncomfortable state. My parents came over to visit, my mom lightly touched my round 17 pound smuggled basketball-baby bump and I reeled back in pain. Something just wasn't right. But pushing it all aside, being in the home stretch of the pregnancy, we wrapped up the evening and went to bed. It was a torrential night's sleep. By morning I decided to call my OB, who was on-call for just another 15 minutes. I was having Braxton hicks contractions, but still in enough discomfort to stay home from work. As I spoke to my OB, she told me to come straight to the hospital's Labor & Delivery Unit for observation. I arrived, got to a room, hospital-gowned up and painfully climbed into bed. Monitors we strapped to my round belly and I heard the rhythmic heartbeat of my little boy. There were touches of contractions, but definitely not the real-deal. The on-call OB came for examination, preformed an ultrasound to rule out a placenta abruption. He mentioned the (low) possibility of kidney stones, or appendix issues. Not fitting the traditional symptoms of any of those diagnosis, he ruled it severe strained muscles. I mean I was in the nesting phase, right? So after a few hours of monitoring, I was sent home for rest, ice compression for my muscles and tyenol. My dad came to drive me home and helped get me settled. I spent the afternoon napping until Husband arrived home. We ordered in Thai but I could hardly take a bite. The pain and contractions were back. This was not a strained muscle. All I remember thinking and saying was, "This is not right. Braxton hicks shouldn't be this painful. This baby is coming." Trying to do diligence, Husband pulled up the timer on his iPhone and we tried timing out the contractions and figure out what was happening. After about 10 minutes, I called my OB. Something was not right. The OB, with concern in his voice told me to return to the hospital right away. Husband and I gathered a few items, got in the car and drove fast. For yet the second time that day, I arrived on the L&D floor, got into a hospital gown, was strapped to monitors and waited. I was placed on a 23 hour observation. By morning I had the two monitors constantly on my belly, an IV coming from my right hand, a blood pressure cuff permanently attached to my left bicep, a pulse monitor attached to my left pointer finger and continued to wait, trying to be calm. Listening to my son's somewhat rhythmic heartbeat.

First thing Wednesday morning I was wheeled around for a battery of tests - lab, ultrasound, MRI...the MRI found fluid filling the cavity around my appendix, and a surgical consult. A surgical team was swiftly compiled. The Director of Surgery, the area's top general surgeon for the appendectomy. OB and L&D support. NICU pediatrician. Neonatal support. And many other surgical and high-risk support staff. A few hours passed as the special team was assembled and an OR was set up for every possible situation that could possibly arise in the surgery. Finally about 2 pm on Wednesday they wheeled me into the pre-op area. As I held Husband's hand I looked at him, wearing a surgical gown and cap, knowing we would be separated for the next few hours and how dangerous of a surgery this was normally, but on top of that being 35 weeks pregnant. As we looked at each other and silently knew all the scary risks, we told each other how much we loved each other and that we would see each other soon. Not knowing the results. Not knowing if I had the ability to live. Not knowing if our little boy that was safely tucked in my womb could withstand the surgery. Not knowing if we would be parents that day. He squeezed my hand tightly and released as they surrounded my bed and rolled me back into the cold, sterile, yet very busy OR. All the medical professionals in that room and in the wings were there - just for me and our baby. My pain was growing worse and worse. I was so scared yet just so eager to be put under so I couldn't feel for just a little while.

After a few hours in surgery, my genius surgeon was successful. He completed an entire appendectomy - that had been ruptured. The entire cavity filled with infection and was able to do it all laparoscopically around my largely pregnant uterus. Unfortunately due to the severity, in surgery, I also lost my right ovary, right Fallopian tube and a section of my intestines. But praise to be alive! After waking, I was told that they were moments away from cutting me completely open and having to deliver our baby boy. But he is strong. Valor held on and was able to stay in-utero. We gave him the right name before we had any idea of the trials we would go through birthing Valor into this world. After the appendectomy, I was left with four incisions and a lovely jp drain hanging from another incision on my right side. After a few hours of recovery, I was returned to my L&D room for rest, healing and continued 24/7 monitoring of our sweet, strong, brave little babe.

To be continued.