Week One

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 1:2-3

4D ultrasound from 24 weeks... before "life on the inside" :)
One week and some odd days of "life on the inside", as I've affectionately started referring to our hospital stay.  Last Friday marked one whole week down.  Boom.  Done.  Sure, hospital life is fairly monotonous and intrusive.  I'll give you that.  But, I can honestly go so far as to say these past ten days have gone really fast and been relatively enjoyable.  I'm not about to put on the front that everything is sunshine and rainbows.  This is a hospital, for goodness sakes.  Believe me, there are low moments.  Yet, there is an incredibly reassuring feeling about knowing you and your baby are in the safest place possible with immediate access to top medical care.  An overwhelmingly reassuring feeling.

The first weekend involved a flurry of activity as Benji and I were admitted.  Lots of visits from the doctors on my perinatologist team, as well as their fellows and residents as they all got to know us.  We also received a visit from a neonatologist, standard with every admit, who spent a great deal of time educating us on premature babies at all stages.  He was very positive about the prognosis of a baby born at 35 weeks.  Incredibly positive.  Chances are high that our Benji will only have to spend mere hours in the NICU.  This is certainly our hope and prayer.
The bump gets "incarcerated" at 28 weeks.
I didn't know it was possible, seeing as I was raised in a family of nurses, but my appreciation for nurses has already increased ten-fold.  This nursing staff is the sh*t.  Excuse my language.  They are the glue that holds this place together.  Day in and day out these nurses see the full spectrum of different high risk pregnancies, expectant moms and dads in incredibly vulnerable states, and the most fragile of unborn babies.  The level of compassion and genuine caring they have already shown my family is admirable. We are unabashedly loving on them with pizza, toddler charm courtesy of Isaiah, and gigantic Wenatchee-grown Stemilt apples (hollaaa!).

Ultrasounds will most likely happen weekly at this point.  I had an ultrasound the very first day I was admitted and again just this past Friday.  Both showed very little, if anything, has changed with my Vasa Previa since the condition was first detected.  My weirdo placenta is still weird and the ongoing talk of the department... "Oh, so you're the one with that placenta!"  Yes, thank you, that's me.  The lady with the placenta that poses a very real threat to her child, yet is simultaneously keeping him alive.  Oh the irony.  Very reminiscent of my pregnancy with his older brother, Benji is already measuring 3+ pounds at this point in the game.  Jason and I only know how to make 'em one way: BIG boys.  Long story short, our baby is very healthy and we are simply playing a waiting game to bring him earth-side.

Upon our admit to the hospital, I received my first round of steroid injections.  This will help to speed up Benji's lung development in preparation for when they take him at about 35 weeks.  These steroid injections will happen every two weeks until delivery and involve a nice shot in the, ahem, bum.  The countdown is on for my next round of steroids this coming Friday.  You can pray for me about that at the end of the week.  The side effects of the 'roids are NOT fun.

Cute profile!  I see a Jason & Isaiah nose.
These past ten days have included daily visitors.  Bless your souls for sitting with me, feeding me, laughing with me, praying over me, and taking me on walks.  Each day includes twice daily fetal monitoring.  Every morning and every evening.  A simple routine I love; being still and listening to my son's strong heartbeat.  Last Wednesday I attended a support group for expectant moms in my department.  There were four moms in attendance, including myself, and every one of us is here for the long haul.  Not one of our high risk pregnancies is alike.  Sitting and listening to these women pour out their hearts and share the stories of their unborn children and explain what's brought them to Swedish was incredibly humbling and perspective shifting.  Some of these women still do not even know if their babies are going to make it.  Throat punch.  But, they are here.  Teaming with the best maternal and fetal specialists.  Fighting like hell for a child they have yet to look in the eyes.  And that, my friends, is when I lose it.  A mother's love knows no bounds.

Riding the Capitol Hill Streetcar!
Thank you to each and every one of you who has loved on Jason, Isaiah, Benji, and I from near and far.  Please be assured that every prayer and well-wish has been felt.  Thank you for the cards and drawings that dot the walls of my room.  Yes, I taped up every single one.  Thank you for the thoughtful care packages sent from all over the land.  Thank you for the ongoing meal support for my guys back home.  We are all so grateful for your help in this very tangible way.  I never expected so much GOOD to come out of a situation that, at one time, seemed so scary and overwhelming to us.  Finally, if you feel so inclined, here is a list of specific things you can pray with us about: strength and cohesion for Jason and I as we try to operate jointly, but apart; my momma heart as I miss Isaiah something fierce; my cravings for fresh Ellensburg air and the longing to witness Spring's unfolding in person; for Benji to continue impressing the doctors and being a stud; for my placenta to continue its string of good behavior, and; my next round of steroid injections happening this coming Friday and Saturday.

Thank you, dear ones.


Be Brave

"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart." Psalm 27:14

Thanks for being curious about Benji's story.  It's only just beginning, but so much has happened already.  We are running a marathon - not a sprint - to safely bring this sweet baby boy into the world.  Jason and I agreed we were finally ready to share the ongoing story of this second pregnancy.  I'll try to keep the graphic details to a minimum, though I'm going to throw the words 'placenta' and 'cervix' and 'uterus' around A LOT. You've been warned.

Flash back to January 23rd.  I would've been about 22 weeks pregnant.  At the time, we were aware of my placenta previa from my 20 week gender ultrasound.  We knew the previa existed and it was in the back of our minds it could complicate my pregnancy, but we really didn't spend much time dwelling on this information.  That evening we were at a friend's house when I knew something was not right.  I went to the bathroom and quickly realized my jeans were full of blood.  We left immediately and Jason dropped me off at the Emergency Room, while he arranged for Isaiah to go to a friend's house.  The amazing folks at the birthing center at KVH stabilized me, but made it clear they were not comfortable keeping me in Ellensburg.  They called for an ambulance and arranged for my transfer to Swedish First Hill in Seattle.  By this time, it was nearing 10:00 PM and Snoqualmie Pass was scheduled to close for avalanche control at 11:00.  The nurses at the birthing center communicated with Jason and encouraged him to GO and simply get over the pass before it closed.  My ambulance crew with Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue radioed the DOT and asked them to keep the pass open until we drove through.  Talk about amazing teamwork! 

We arrived at Swedish First Hill close to midnight.  Jason made it over the pass just fine and we were quickly reunited.  They got us settled into a room in the Antepartum Department (AKA the "Stay Pregnant" Department) and I spent the next two days being monitored.  My bleeding had subsided.  I was not contracting at all.  Benji's heart rate continued to be strong and consistent.  The overall feeling was that I was not in imminent danger and the baby was safe and secure.  I was discharged after a two night stay, with the request from my referring OB in Ellensburg to stay near medical care in the Seattle area out of an abundance of caution.  We agreed we would continually reevaluate the possibility of returning to Ellensburg as the weeks ticked by. 

Once in Seattle, a series of ultrasounds revealed my placenta was significantly more abnormal and fragile than originally detected in Ellensburg.  The typical placenta is an organ with one lobe, that sits high in the uterus.  My placenta is bi-lobed and sits very low in my uterus.  The placental bodies are attached, but only by a thin membrane connecting the two lobes.  To add to the fragility, Benji's umbilical cord insertion happens to fall on the thin membrane between the two placental lobes.  

Since being discharged from Swedish in January, I have resided in and around the Seattle area with a few incredibly generous souls.  Jason and Isaiah have proven to be road warriors, traveling back and forth to spend weekends with me.  We have made the most of our weekends as a family in Seattle; visiting the zoo, parks, and beaches.  

Fast forward to right now.  This coming Friday, March 4th, I'll reach 28 weeks in my pregnancy.  Already into my third trimester!  A milestone!  I have been feeling great and have had no further complications.  We were confident I would get the "all clear" to return home. Maybe overly confident. Plans were being made for packing my things, moving back, and welcome home parties.   

However, another follow-up ultrasound this past week shed further light on just how complicated my placenta situation is. To be specific, I have something called vasa previa.  Remember the thin membrane stretching between the two placental lobes?  That membrane is full of critical blood vessels keeping my son alive.  That thin membrane also happens to be entirely covering my cervix.  Baby's natural exit route to the outside world.  I absolutely can not go into natural labor. The result would be catastrophically dangerous to Benji.  We are praising God for the early detection of this condition! Seeing as my doctor was quick to point out that babies born to women whose vasa previa went undetected typically hemorrhage to death during childbirth. 

SO.  I can not return home to Ellensburg right now.  It is out of the question.  The safest place for Benji and I these next two months is, undoubtedly, back in the hospital. Just in case I should start bleeding or go into preterm labor, we can be whisked into an emergency C-section.  I will be admitted back to the Antepartum department at Swedish First Hill this week.  I will be in the hospital until Benji is delivered via C-section at about 35 weeks. He will then most likely spend a few weeks in the NICU, depending on his lung development. Long story short, when I finally get to return home (hopefully in May) I'm going to have my infant with me.

The thought of going back into the hospital for at least another two months is overwhelming.  The feeling of missing out on Isaiah's last weeks as our only child at home has me grieving.  I am sad to not have the opportunity to nest at home and prepare for my son; painting and decorating his room, washing and folding his tiny clothes.  Yet, I am fully aware of the reality of this high risk pregnancy.  I do not question for one second what must be done.  I am a momma to two little boys now and sweet Benji needs me in Seattle and in the hospital.  The successful delivery of a healthy baby boy will far outweigh any temporary struggles and hurts.  We will do what we have to do.              

Today we choose to "be of good courage".  We make the choice to be brave.  I know Jason, Isaiah, and I were made for a time such as this.  We trust, wholeheartedly, that God will not throw anything our way he doesn't fully equip us to handle.  Benji Carl, you are so loved already, dear one.  We're anxious to meet you sweetheart, but please take your time arriving to the party.  We can wait.  :)  


Our Son

Fist pump from the little man.

Shot of his face (nose, mouth, chin).  Tilt your head to the left and look at it sideways.

Profiles of his little noggin.

  So thankful are we!


Hawaii 2012

A recap of Hawaii thru my iPhone.  First up was Oahu.  Jason's parent's live 30 minutes out of Honolulu, so they plucked us from the airport.  Upon our reunion, we immediately shared the news of their grandbaby's impending arrival.  They just about came unglued.  So much fun!  Six days on Oahu included lots of family time with Jason's brothers, many games of Scrabble & Bananagrams, LOTS of eating, and of course Christmas festivities.  Such a delightful time!  Next up, was Maui for Jason and I. We spent four days just north of Lahaina, at Napili Bay.  Absolute paradise!  VRBO is amazing.  We have found great condos through this website.  Napili Bay is so family oriented - it's definitely a place we hope to visit again.  Enjoy...

Foliage in Jason's parent's backyard.  The pomelo tree is my favorite!

Barber's Point.  A local beach on an old military base.  Just five minutes from the house.

Waikiki at nighttime.  Palm trees looking festive.

One of the most memorable activities for me.  On Christmas eve, Jason and I hiked to the Makapuu Lighthouse.  I made this hike with my family years ago, but it was new for Jason.  It's a must when you visit Oahu.  Such a fun/easy hike - paved trail the whole way up.  And, the view at the top is spectacular.  We even saw a whale jumping way out in the ocean.  Just awesome!

Our first night on Maui and the sunset did not disappoint.

The Napili Bay area is stunning.  Phenomenal beach.  Just 15 minutes to downtown Lahaina.  Views of both Molokai and Lanai.  

 Fresh pineapple, mango, and banana.  We made LOTS of smoothies.  And, went through LOTS of toilet paper... 

View from breakfast.  Not too shabby.  Tropical flower (which kind of resembles a weapon) adorning our table.

Our last night in Paradise spent at the Lahaina Prime Rib & Fish Company.  Arrived at our table just in time to watch the sun set over Lanai.  It was still happy hour.  Jason got double the mai tai fun (I'm faking it in that photo - I promise).  Needless to say, I drove home.

Finally, our growing turtle ohana enjoying the sand and sunset.
Aloha Hawaii, until we meet again!  


Most Thankful

Most thankful indeed.  Simple, straightforward, succinct.  Grateful.  So, grateful.  

This handsome next to me here has been most supportive over these past six months.  Woah, six months?!  Grade-A example of unwavering support.  Starting a new job?  Undoubtedly frightening.  Starting a new job completely unlike anything in your life, ever?  Utterly terrifying.  Yet the prayers, the listening, the long talks, the "atta-girls", and the welcome-home hugs.  All needed, all appreciated.  Thank you God for this man.  You knew.  You knew just what I needed.  Thank you God for this job, for the people I work with. 

Again, you knew.  You always know.  Grateful.  Thankful.                



Celebrating a Bride-to-be

Here's a handful of photos to share from Kaley's bridal shower.  Majority of the credit goes to my talented mother who has a knack for hosting parties.  She is a master at flower arrangements and delicious finger foods.  Thanks to all the ladies, from far and wide, who were able to join us.  Kaley is marrying Jon this June at Ritter Farms in Cle Elum.  She is going to make the most stunning bride!