Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Family Updates

Hello all,

We thought we might dust off this blog space to accommodate a place to provide updates about my hospital bedrest and baby #2.

After a relatively uneventful second trimester, I woke up very early one morning last week to my waters breaking.  I quickly woke Adam up and we called the on-call midwife at the hospital to find out what to do.  We were advised to quickly get to Providence St. Vincent medical center which houses the largest high-level NICU in the state and specializes in high-risk pregnancy conditions.  Adam roused our very sweet neighbor Marta who had agreed to be on-call to care for James if something happened in the middle of the night and we didn't have time to get family to the house.  Actually, we didn't really have a solid plan yet for James because of course we thought we still had months to go and assumed I would be at the house for a least a few hours before heading the hospital when the time came.  We are so lucky to have had friends who live close and Marta who had offered to step in.  Marta came right over and gave me a hug, and was very reassuring.  I was crying and trying to figure out what to bring besides my clothes, and quickly gave her a tour of the kitchen.  She is one of the warmest, most welcoming people I've ever met and gave me a huge hug and told me how her son Daniel (who I've also met, and is a very healthy adult guy) was born premature and turned out great.  James has spent lots of time with her and her grandsons and we knew he would be in good hands.  I called my Dad who was already planning to come out from Redmond to have James for the day and let him know we were headed to the hospital and asked that he come as soon as possible.  After trying his number four or five times, he finally answered and got right in his car to make the two and a half hour trip over.

Adam had kept calm while talking to the midwife on-call and she let us know that other NICUs close to our house were full, and strongly recommended that we go to Providence St. Vincent's medical center, which has the largest high-level NICU in the state and the kind of specialists we would need.  By the due date the clinic had given me, I was supposed to have been 24 weeks along and was devastated when I realized there was a good chance I would need to deliver the baby.  I've had some experience covering for a NICU social worker at an old job and remembered that 24 weeks was sort of the "magical" number for viability.  All the way to the hospital I was crying thinking of the worst case scenarios.  It was about 5:30am, and there was hardly any traffic so we made it pretty quickly despite the fact that this particular hospital is pretty far from our house.

We arrived and a team of nurses and doctors were around us.  We confirmed that yes, my waters had broken - they have to test it to make sure its amniotic fluid but honestly, there was no question about what had happened.  The first nurse who took care of me was very warm and helped calm me down; I was shaking and crying and very fearful.  She shared that they had 24, 25 week babies in the NICU that very day and that many did well despite the odds.  After a long morning of consults with high-risk specialists and speaking with neonatologist I was admitted to antepartum room with a plan to be on hospital bedrest.  I was immediately started on two different IV antibiotics and later in the day received a steroid shot that would help prepare the baby's lungs for an early delivery if it needed to happen.  The neonatologist shared statistics and we had a long conversation with him about how aggressively we'd want the baby's care should the baby arrive.  The perinatologist looked through my records and after having a detailed ultrasound, decided that my due date was inaccurate (as I've strongly suspected all along) and instead said I was about 26 weeks along.  This was great news for us since at this stage every week and every day really improves outcomes for babies born early.  The ultrasound also showed other good news - the baby looks like it's doing well, is head down, and still has some pockets of fluid.  Babies can survive without fluid but it helps their lungs and brain develop properly, so this was great to hear.

For the next two days I was pretty much continuously monitored and had IV meds and completed the course of steroids.  We let our families and loved ones know what was happening and tried to come up with a plan for help with James so that Adam could spend some time with me at the hospital.  We were pretty much reeling but grateful for every bit of hopeful information we'd received.

Today is officially day 6 of bedrest in the hospital.  I still have an IV line in case of emergency but am now taking oral medications and only need to have the baby monitored a few times a day for an hour or so.  I've "earned" the privilege of getting one 30-minute wheelchair ride per day.  I am allowed to walk from my bed to the bathroom and take a shower, which makes me feel so much better after having to sit in bed all day.  I've had two visits with James; both times were the highlight of my day but bittersweet when we had to say goodbye.  I'm not sure how to explain or help him understand that I'm not coming home but we are telling him things on his level and trying to stay really positive and upbeat.  My dad went home today and my mom and grandma also stopped by for a quick visit this evening.  I also had some girlfriends visit last night and it is really nice to have people to talk to, especially to visit about non-hospital related things.  I am adjusting to the reality that I won't be home again until after I have the baby and am here for an undetermined amount of time.  The goal is for me to first make it another two weeks - 28 weeks is a big milestone for premature babies - and then hopefully to 30 and beyond.  I have hardly wrapped my mind around the fact that I could be sitting in this bed for weeks but am just going to take things one day at a time.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who has reached out to say hi and provide a supportive ear.  It means a lot.  I don't always have the emotional energy to talk every day but will plan to keep this space updated and stay in touch.  Lots of love from us. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lots and lots of favorite things!

Months-late blog post to jot down memories and remember favorite things from family life this summer. Mostly about my Sweet Pie baby James (baby no longer....*sniff*) but some about all of us.

Summer has been Awesome with a capital A this year.  I've loved hanging outside with our active, busy little boy.  The backyard is sort of "my" space that I get to myself in the house, and I've put in a lot of work into making a fun, happy space to be in.  First of all, the garden is pretty off the chain this year.  EIGHT tomato plants, currently in high season giving us more than we could hope to eat each day.  Pumpkins - two big orange ones ready for October.  Sweetmeat squash - meh - fickle plant she is, I still like her.  Doesn't give much but if you've ever bit into the bright orange flesh of this minty green, bumpy ugly squash, you know why it's called SweetMeat.  The best.  For the second year in a row I've put in peppers that did practically nothing.  Not necessarily their fault - I'm a lazy gardener and haven't done much homework on them - but still, we're talking like 5 pimentos all summer.  It's not really their climate here.  Green beans were a new addition and we've made short work of those...and of course, zucchini....always the abundance of zucchini. Much of this year's zucchini crop was repurposed into Christmas presents as jarred pickles.  So I have a headstart on Christmas gifts.  How amazing is that?

I tried my hand at canning for the first time, and had a fun time learning the basics, but am not sure I'd take up the hobby on my own.  There's a lot that goes into it; I don't have the supplies nor the desire to spend much money on them.  It's hot business in a summer kitchen and both my friend and I burnt ourselves, cracked three jars, and did some good sweating that night.  It's pretty time consuming, and while I loved doing it to visit with a girlfriend, I wouldn't sacrifice hours of an evening alone for the cause.  That said, I am interested in pickling green beans, canning some of my own spiced rhubarb sauce to give away, and doing peaches.  I have tentative plans to do a big "can" of peaches next month.  We'll see how it goes!

So that's the garden.  In anticipation of long summer days outside, I acquired some great stuff for James off Craigslist one weekend last spring when I had my dad's truck available.  We bought a great-condition slide/playstructure and a toddler picnic table.  We also have multiple tricycles from James's Nana and my mom who are garage sale fiends, a toy car, and toy sprinkler attachments.  And a turtle sandbox which hasn't yet been filled with sand so currently acting as a wading pool.  Add in some camping chairs, and a firepit, and it's good living, I tell ya.

The other big change to the yard is that we've now fenced off part of the backyard that used to just be filled with moss and weeds, and turned into a chicken yard.  I've always dreamt of raising chickens since it was something I loved growing up with as a little girl.  My dad is a big chicken guy and helped me build a pretty swanky coop one weekend for my 30th birthday.  We started with 4 chicks - small, manageable, but still enough to have a little flock.  In a series of comical and random events, we ended up with 9.  I did a lot of research and reading on the breeds I wanted to have and how I was going to set everything up.  In the end, I think I overthought it.  They are really very simple.  We got out in the morning, open up the coop to let them out and sometimes give them new water.  At the end of the day, they hop up into their roost about dusk, all on their own, just as nature tells them to do.  We close up the coop and say goodnight.  That's pretty much it.  About every 3-4 days I add feed to their trough, or carry out kitchen scraps to supplement their diet when I remember.  I add in extra pine shavings once a week, and once a month take it out and fill the coop with clean shavings.  That task is dirty and unpleasant but actually only takes 20 minutes.  We often spend time playing with them or watching and hanging out in the chicken yard, but only when we feel like it.  I love how low maintenance they are.  James is very interested in them (they in him, not so much) and I love teaching him how to care for them.  We talk about how they need water, feed them extra zucchini, talk about being gentle when we pet them and put them to bed at night.  As he grows I know he'll appreciate and learn a lot about the cycle of life, where our food comes from, and how to take care of animals.  So far, no egg laying has happened yet but I expect we'll have some eggs before October.  They probably won't lay at peak rates during the winter months but by this time next summer we could have as many as 2-3 dozen/week.  Once friends and coworkers heard we were getting chicks they started saving up their egg cartons and I will be glad to finally put them to good use.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My winter 1 year-old

So here's the rest of winter.  Mainly just pictures.  I'm hoping to one day utilize a program that can create a memory/photo book out of part of this blog - so that's mainly why.

Lots of new memories and changes in our family over the past few months, though.  I started doing a childcare exchange with a good friend, so on Thursdays week I take care of her little girl (who is now 2) and on Mondays she has James.  This allows Adam to have an additional day to work, which has made a big difference in his income and also just giving him a bit of a break.  I guess it'd be easy to write about how challenging the adjustment was to taking care of two 1 year-olds all day, the funny, frustrating, and fantastic moments that leave me totally beat on the couch at the end of the day.  But I think I'll skip it.  We all know how hard it is.  Diapers, snacks, bibs, socks, mittens strewn about the park, the mischief and the mayhem that never ends.  But what really comes to mind when I think about caring for someone else's baby is how precious they are.  I've babysat before, and was a nanny in my early college years and have quite a bit of experience taking care of kids.  But now that I'm a mom it feels totally different.  I hold Emma in my arms and wipe away her hair from her face, or her tears from her eyes, or just her blueberry stains from her cheeks and I feel an intense love and protection for her that I didn't understand before.  I know she means everything to my friend - I know she is her heart beating outside of her body.  I know my friend has rocked her, and sung to her, and wiped these same cheeks and changed these same diapers and treasured all the same sweet moments.  When I see other mothers (and parents, but mostly moms) I feel a sense of solidarity and compassion and understanding that I didn't used to have.  Sometimes I even see kids and babies at the store or on a walk and I immediately look at them and smile, or make sure they're okay.  When they cry, I notice.  My heart notices.  Because there's a mama out there just like me - a regular woman who has done the extraordinary business of birthing, nursing, rocking, soothing, holding, guiding, loving that little person until they've felt like their arms would fall off.  A mom who thought they couldn't possibly stand another minute of the crying or the mess or the "why the hell has it has been 7 months since I've had a haircut" moments.  I see children now and this is what I see - all of the moments.  And I know almost every mom loves their babies more than anyone could ever understand.  So when I step in to comfort, feed, hold, play with and love another child...I give it my heart.

Most of our days together would seem to the outside to be pretty low-key.  We have our routine, we do breakfast (almost always oatmeal, always bananas, sometimes eggs), dance to music to get our energy up, and go outside.  We almost always walk to the park together, or just play in the yard unless it's totally pouring.  And the kids are pretty hardcore Oregonians, lemme tell ya.  They can put up with a lot more gray and wet than I can.  We eventually wind down and wander in, and there's some mix of quieter, indoor play (book reading usually, toys, potty time for Emma) and slowing down while I make lunch.  The kids eat lunch and play at the table while we "talk" about our day or do the alphabet or things like that.  Both kids go down for their naps around 1, and usually sleep until 3.  Sometimes I nap on the couch if I'm really tired, other days I do quiet chores like laundry or bills or throwing something in the crock pot for dinner.  Some days I just hang out on the computer.  In the afternoon we do whatever we're feeling like that day.  Blocks, playing on the slide outside, having a snack, taking a random bath, whatever.  A few times I've ventured out with friends for an outing - on Valentine's Day we went to the zoo, on Emma's birthday we did an indoor playground, and we've driven out to some new parks.  But mostly we just kick back and live the good life at home.  And a good life it is.

This is how I walk two kids to the park on a chilly February day!

Emma photobomb

It's all fun and games...until someone gets their head kicked.  

James's favorite foods - bananas ("Mann-uh!") and yogurt ("goat!").  Proof that there's really only one important quality in a high chair - easy of cleaning!

James's first bubble bath.  He loved it, of course, especially when his papa dropped all his plastic balls in with him.  I am not too particular about a lot of things, buying organic body products being one of them.  We use Johnson & Johnson and Dove soap (what our doctor recommends to clear up occasional ezcema flare-up.)  But we got this really nice non-toxic, easy-on-the-skin-and-body California Baby bath bubbles in James's Christmas stocking and I fell in love with it.  It only has natural oils (which make up the "cranky baby" scent) and is easy on James's skin.  Plus it makes awesome bubbles.  I've tried some natural bath products that I wasn't too keen on but this one I love.  We already used the whole bottle!

Sometimes Bear has to come to dinner.  It's not optional.

Hanging out at my mom's house in Eugene

James trying to "push" his Grandpa Mark around the kitchen....this is a game James will absolutely delight in playing, but after the first time we get pretty tired of it.  So it's always a treat for James when a new visitor will indulge him in his favorite game.  

James, showing off his true feelings about Valentine's Day...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mele Kalikimaka!

My oh quickly time seems to be passing these days.  Looking at our little blog is sure evidence of that.  Lots to update and say, but not many free moments to do it, I suppose.  It's a quiet Monday night in the Pruett household - little James is telling himself some bedtime stories and saying "buh-byeeeee" on the monitor as he drifts off to sleep, Adam is working, the house is clean, and it's my Friday.  So I'll take advantage of the moment and jot down some thoughts.

After James's birthday last fall, life got really busy as the holidays were in full swing.  We traveled to Kauai with Adam's family for a holiday getaway that felt partly like a family reunion and partly like a Hawaiian vacation.  We visited with Adam's brother's family, and met our newest nephew, Jun, who is only 5 months younger than James.  Having all the kids and everybody else together is pretty chaotic and fun.  Being on Kauai brought back a lot of memories from our honeymoon, though this trip was very different.  Kauai is honestly one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and I love being there - immediately after stepping off the plane and feeling the warm, relaxed air I am in heaven!  The island is remarkably rural considering how popular it is and I really hope it stays that way.

We spent a lot of time packing and preparing (10 days away with a 1 year-old requires some major planning!) and in the end I was surprised by how much easier traveling with James was than I had anticipated.  The plane ride itself was 6.5 hrs on the way over, and I was pretty anxious how our active little boy would handle it.  I talked to a lot of moms beforehand and got some great suggestions (individually wrapping tiny toys, lots of snacks, having new/novel books/toys) that helped.  The night before we left for the trip, James came down with a very sudden high fever.  He woke up from his nap fairly warm, and fussy, and then wouldn't eat, and then was crying inconsolably and had temperature of 104.3.  Babies do run higher temps than adults but it was pretty frightening.  We spent a few hours in the ER waiting for his fever to break, rocking him gently and letting him nap on us.  He did recover okay and we debated about what to do - at this point, it was only hours until our flight left - and at the doctor's suggestion (he happened to own a condo on Kauai and knew how hard it would be to rebook our flight Christmas week) decided to go for it.  Sure enough, the next morning James was fine and we brought some medicine with us just in case, knowing we could get good medical care there for him if needed.  As challenging as it is to fly for many hours with a young toddler, I have to say that watching your child suffer from sickness is much, much worse - and I remember the ER part being much harder than the plane ride.

We are huge fans of our Ergo carrier in general and found it be really useful traveling - especially at the airport.  Security was a breeze and they let James & I walk right through with him the carrier.  We tried to keep James awake as long as possible, and after letting him run around the concourse he was pretty conked out for much of the plane ride.

Waiting for our rental car in Hawaii....are we there yet?!

Adam and James in Sea-Tac on Christmas Eve

The actual trip itself was pretty awesome.  Lots of warm days, and a few warm rain showers, lots of snorkeling (Adam makes a point of going at least once a day while there), walking down the street to the beach, playing in the pool, or just hanging out with the babies and Yuri in the condo.  Mark and Elaine helped watch the kids quite a bit so we had some couples-only for snorkeling dates or whatever else we felt like doing.  We did less sightseeing and driving than our honeymoon, and mostly just enjoyed good times relaxing as a family.  Adam's parents, brother and sister-in-law went snorkeling and every day we walked down to the Baby Beach in Poipu, which was just perfect for us.  It's a special little cove on the shoreline that's blocked from the waves so the babies and kids can safely play in the ocean.  Plus it's really shallow all the way out, and just on the other side was some pretty good snorkeling.  We ate a lot of good, fresh fish (I'm sure I ate a year's worth of mercury in all the tuna we had) and fruit.  Despite the babies being early risers, we got a lot of good rest and could actually hear the ocean and feel the breeze coming into our room at night...heavenly!  One of my favorite memories is from a morning when Adam, his parents, and Yuri drove up to Waimea Canyon together, and Chris and Eri took Jun out on a long drive and it was just James and I alone in the condo for a few hours.  It rained that day, but it was warm water coming down through the palm trees and I laid out on the lanai all by myself and enjoyed some down time being on baby monitor duty.  I realized that for the first time in a long, long time, I really had nothing to do.  No computer, phone calls, housework, projects, cooking or anything else to distract me.  I laid there and read books and gathered my thoughts and just gazed out at the ocean for three hours listening to the baby monitor.  I could see the waves crashing down at the beach and felt so relaxed and happy.  There is so little time I have to just be - to sit, think, not busy myself with something that needs to be done - and it may have been one of the most peaceful, happy times of my life.  

Anyway - lots of great memories made and fun to be had.  Here's some favorite shots:

Late evening swim at the pool.  Yuri and her grandparents spent a lot of time here!

James and I taking in another gorgeous sunset 

James, plotting how to get his little hands back on his favorite book that Jun was borrowing.  

Running after the feral chickens, who are everywhere on Kauai

Mark & Elaine walking back from the beach

James, fussing about some kind of minor unpleasantness on a nice day at the Beach House lawn

How many Hawaiian prints can you fit into one picture....?

Baby Beach

When in Hawaii....

Beautiful baby Jun

Some shots from the North Shore.  This spot, Ke'e Beach, is supposed to be an amazing snorkeling spot but the waves were too high (as you can see) so we hung out like beach bums instead.  The North Shore is my favorite part of the island - lush, green, and absolutely beautiful.  This is just a hop, skip and a jump away from where Jurassic Park was filmed.

Adam and I goofing off on our date night in Hawaii.  We drove to the East side and visited some of our favorite haunts from our honeymoon, including this spot for dinner- Kalapaki Beach Hut.  Best burgers on the island!

James checking out our room.  You can tell by his expression below how much he loved the place...

James being a ham at dinner.

Mark and James at a market near Hanalei Bay

Just two guys kickin' it on the beach

Our whole gang (minus Adam) having some shave ice in the sand

My sweet baby boy having some sweet Hawaiian slumber.  I was worried about how he'd adjust to sleeping in a new room (his at home is much darker and quieter) but we brought our white noise machine and he seemed to feel right at home.  I also noticed that for the first time, he seemed to be really comfortable sleeping on his back...I think at night our house gets chilly and he usually curls up to be warm, but here loved just laying out in his skivvies, feeling the ocean breeze...

James playing at the beach in the early morning light.  He was still on a 2-nap schedule, so we often tried to get a swim or snorkel in before his morning nap to make the most of our time.  It worked out great since the beach was often deserted and we had it all to ourselves.

James is one of his adorable Hawaiian outfits.  James's grandparents found a few Hawaiian shirts at a garage sale, and he looked pretty stylish in them, I must say!

James and his Nana, who is so sweet to him.

It was a really special Christmas - truly one of the best family vacations ever and we can't wait to go back.