Monday, March 12, 2012

Baby Pool

Some of your played in our family's baby pool.  People guessed Isaac's weight, length, birth date, birth time, and hair color.  The results are in...

DOB: 3/08/12
Time: 8:44 a.m.
Length: 20 inches
Weight: 7.14 lbs
Hair color: brown

My mom (Granny) was the overall winner.  She guessed 3/09 (my due date) as the birth day, 7:32 am as the time, 21" and 7.5 lbs with brown hair.  The rest of the people ranked:

Danielle S.
Uncle Rusty
Jeffrey (Daddy)
Nanny (Paula)
Uncle Ryan
The Blasio Family
Nanny Deese
Aunt Brittany
Papa (Jeff)
Brittany M.
Shannon L.
Tiffany B.

I wanted to think of something cute to give the winner, but since it's my mom I guess another healthy, handsome grandson will have to do :)

Isaac Jeffrey is here!

Our family has been home together since Saturday afternoon.  Isaac fits right in (of course!) and Jonathan is such a sweet big brother.  Here are some pictures from the first day they met, and the day Isaac and mommy came home.

Of course Jonathan is just a blur - he is such a busy body!

So sweet, already showing little brother some love.

The C-section went really well, everything was right on time!  We arrived at the hospital at 6 am and we were so excited to know we were going to meet our son. 

The final preggo belly picture

All the nurses we had were so amazing and kind, it helped to make this experience a positive one from the beginning.  Like I said in the last post, we had really high hopes for Issac's birthday.

They wheeled me in to the operating room around 8:15 and did the spinal, removed my cerclage, and then went to work on delivering the baby.  There was a huge light directly above me that was surrounded by a metal disk, and in its reflection I could see everything the doctors were doing.  It was so awesome to see a little butt, then a little back followed by a head being pulled out from my stomach.  Until I saw something I couldn't identify at which time I knew I should look away or toss my cookies.

They let me get a glimpse of Isaac but took him out of the room quickly because it is so cold in there.  As the doctors stitched me up Daddy went to get Isaac cleaned up.  Jeff is so not good with blood or anything relating to blood, but he cut Isaac's cord which really surprised me!

He also thought to take a lot of pictures and video of Isaac's first bath and everything else that I couldn't be there for since I was still in surgery.  He is such a good husband and daddy!

When I was finally able to meet Isaac I was so overwhelmed.  God has been SO good to us for no reason other than that HE is good, and he loves us. 

I pushed myself to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom that night so the nurses would allow Isaac to stay in the room with me alone (their policy is if you have IVs the baby cannot be alone with you in the room and I wanted daddy to sleep at home in his comfy bed).  I finally was able to pass all their tests around 11 so I was really happy about that.  I hardly slept a wink that night, I was so busy nursing and just looking at Isaac.  He is such a miracle in a totally different way than Jonathan, but still a miracle.

I was able to prove I was strong enough to go home 2 days later instead of the usual 3.  I missed my home and being with my family so much.  They sent me home with a lot of pain meds which has helped but here I am 4 days post surgery and I am still pretty sore, but getting better every day.

We are so excited about this new addition to our family - Jeff and I must say at least once a day, "Can you believe we have two sons?!"  It's so crazy, but so amazing.  There is nothing like it.  It's also so cool that having another child just makes your heart grow so much.  I worried I would miss the days of it being a family of 3, but Jonathan has been more joyful than ever since we've all been together, and Isaac has been a really easy baby so far as well. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Remembering Jonathan's birth...

As we approach the birth of our second son, I have been thinking about the birth of our first.  Here is what happened.  I expect tomorrow to be much different...

Last June, I went into preterm labor (before 37 weeks pregnant).  I didn't know that was what was happening to me until I went to the Regency Hospital in my hometown and the doctor told me so.  He said the baby would likely not survive if we chose to have him, and if we wanted to be aggressive about saving him I could be flown to a hospital 30 miles away. 

Less than an hour later Jeff was driving as fast as he could to get to the hospital in Orlando, and I was en route by helicopter.  I was drugged up on magnesium sulfate which made me feel like my skin was burning from the inside out.  To make matters worse I was flying in a helicopter that was more like a fishbowl with no A/C.  The paramedics that were with me were sweating through their flight suits.  I felt bad for them.  I also physically felt bad, and I kept telling myself "Don't pass out, we're almost to the hospital..."  In hindsight, it may have been the perfect place to pass out seeing I had medical professionals with me.

Once I got to the hospital I was rushed to the labor and delivery floor where the doctors did an ultrasound and saw that the baby was ok.  The Mag (magnesium) was working and my contractions had stopped, but I was already 70% effaced (translation: there wasn't much barrier between my baby and birth).  I was so hot and thirsty.  Jeff was by my side keeping a wet wash cloth on my forehead.  He kept asking the doctor if I could have water and hours later he finally allowed me to eat some ice chips.  Around midnight I was allowed to eat, but anything I ate I threw up.

The rest of the night I tried to rest.  I had electronic monitors on my stomach to monitor my contractions and the baby's heart rate.  Since Jonathan was so little at that point (I was 23 weeks along), he kept moving away from the monitor and the nurse would have to come back and and readjust it.  Whenever I had to get up to use the bathroom, I had to wake Jeff up, have him help me unplug myself from the monitors and pull my IV cart with me.

Once the doctor felt sure I was not on the verge of delivering a baby, I was moved to the high-risk unit, for women who, for whatever reason, were in danger of having a baby.  The room we were in was the size of a shoebox.  There were much bigger, nicer rooms we were told, but they were all occupied and as soon as one became available we would be moved.  Jeff had to sleep in a recliner that reclined only to a 45 degree angle, so he had to sleep with his feet propped up on the bed as there was no room in our tiny room for an air mattress or cot.

I did pretty well in that tiny room.  I had contractions still, but they were not strong and my cervix was holding strong.  I had a medicine pump in my leg which is basically a needle attached to what looked like a pager (like what was cool before cell phones).  I kept the pager clipped to my hospital-issued underwear (those are SO sexy) and the needle was always in my thigh.  It gave me medicine every so often to keep the contractions away. 

After a couple of days we were awakened to the wonderful news that we would be movin' on up to the east side, ie the new high-risk rooms.  These rooms were spacious, had wonderful views, mini fridges and a lot of them had their own bathrooms (with showers!)  But wouldn't you know it, I went into labor not long after we were moved to our beautiful room.  So back to L&D we went, and if I remember correctly I was back on the Mag.

Hours later, once I was cleared again, we were at the bottom rung of the high risk rooms, and went right back to our shoebox.  It was only a day until we were moved to a better room, so we were thankful for that.

Once we got back to our nice room, we settled in.  I had my mom bring me a bunch of snacks for the mini fridge and got all my books and stuff situated in my bed-side table.  I was in it for the long-haul and had made it to 24 weeks (which is the "edge of viability" - the earliest a baby can be born and have a fair chance of survival). 

A few days later I awoke with a lot of pelvic pressure and feeling like I had to pee all the time.  The nurse thought I had a UTI so she was going to test me.  Jeff was preparing to head home as he had to prepare to lead worship at church.  I had a feeling that it wasn't a UTI and that something might be wrong (although I had no contractions for over 24 hours), so the nurse told Jeff to stay until a doctor could examine me.  A short time later, the doctor came in and did a pelvic exam.  "I'm not sure, but I think I feel the baby's head... Yes, that's a head.  She's 4 centimeters dilated." 

That was it.  I was being rushed back to L&D with the nurse loudly announcing to everyone "WE HAVE A 24 WEEKER!"  She kept telling me how remarkable it was that I was so calm and I thought "Why wouldn't I be?"  I wasn't having contractions, was in no pain, and thought they'd probably put me back on the Mag and things would go back to normal.

About an hour after they moved me to L&D, the contractions were hurting.  I was gripping the side of the bed and couldn't talk when they came on.  The nurses were acting like it was no big deal, so I was trying not to freak out although I knew this was very different from the other times I had been to L&D.  After about 15 minutes of the painful contractions I informed the nurse I was either going to puke or mess the bed because of the intense pressure I was feeling.  Her advice was "Don't push."  "Yeah right!" I thought.  My mom and Jeff were with me trying to keep me calm until the doctor could come see me.  I started feeling like I had to push or I'd die, so I did and my water burst.  Once that happened Jeff ran out into the hallway to get a nurse. 

After my water broke, I felt immediate relief and the contractions stopped.  Nonetheless, Jeff was suited up in his paper suit and we were being taken to the operating room.  The doctor did an ultrasound and saw I was dilated to 6 centimeters, and Jonathan's head was barely 5 cm.  "This baby is coming, you're going to have to push."  I couldn't bear to open my eyes.  I was hyperventilating and can remember the nurse telling me, "Blow out the through your nose out through your mouth...blow out the candle."  I wanted to hit her.  I didn't want to face that I had failed at staying pregnant and I certainly didn't want to deliver my baby 16 weeks before he was due.  But I pushed when they told me to, I think it was 3 times.  Once he was born I remember Jeff telling me to open my eyes and see my son.  I didn't want to.  I didn't want any of that to be happening because it was a sure death sentence for my first child.  But I did.  I heard him whimper once and then they passed him through what looked like a drive through window into the NICU.  The nurses all remarked how great it was that he made a tiny noise. 

I remember Jeff saying, "Praise God!" once Jonathan came out.  I thought to myself "Why is he saying that?  This is a horrible situation."

I laid on the table in a daze while the doctors and nurses did whatever they had to do to me.  I tried to block everything out.  I felt ashamed and like a failure.

About an hour or so later I was put in a wheelchair and taken to the NICU to see my son, Jonathan, which means "gift from God".  I had never seen anything so tiny and helpless as he laid there squirming, IVs running through his tiny body, eyes fused shut.  I didn't have much experience with newborns, but I knew they weren't supposed to look like that.

Later we were put in our new room on the maternity floor.  I could hear babies being rolled up and down the hallway, where their mothers were waiting in their rooms to nurse their little bundles of joy and cuddle with them.  I, on the other hand, got cozy with a breast pump and waited for the visit from the neonatologist.

The news was grim: Jonathan was born at less than 2 pounds with an E. Coli infection in his bloodstream, and it may or may not be in his spinal fluid and brain.  His lungs were severely underdeveloped.  In short, he was very sick and all things considered the outlook was not good.  The doctor told us he would know more if Jonathan survived the next 48 hours.

Until I was discharged from the hospital a couple of days later, I would pump and Jeff and I would take the milk down to the NICU where it would be put in a freezer for if and when Jonathan was ready to tolerate it.  We spent a lot of time by his incubator praying for him and crying, but trying to be strong in front of our family, who was as distraught as we were.  I can remember one day in the cafeteria with my mom where I finally broke down crying, saying "I should still be pregnant.  It isn't fair that he is struggling to live.  He should still be safe inside me."  I had to be reminded that he was sick inside of me and had he not been born, he might have died.

The day I was discharged, we were blessed to have a room at the Ronald McDonald House to go to, so we were only a block away.  I had been at the hospital for a week already, though, so we had a lot of stuff to take with us.  I had been given flowers and an "It's a Boy!" balloon, which was tied to the wheelchair.  As I was being wheeled out with all my stuff and my balloon, I tried to avoid all the looks that asked "Where is the baby?"

I cried driving the block from the hospital to the McDonald House because we were leaving our baby behind in a medical institution, and there was no body and no amount of money that could get him out.

116 days later, we were finally able to bring him home with us.  We had dreamed of that day for so long, and a few times we thought death would claim our son before we had the chance to bring him home.  But thank God for saving our son.  Jonathan has lived up to his name in every sense; God has truly given us such a great gift.

Jonathan the day he was born, and now at 20 months old.

Tomorrow morning around 8:30 we will meet our second son, Isaac.  I'm not sure what his birth story will be like, but God is faithful and he is good; I have high hopes. 

If you want to read more in detail about Jonathan's hospital stay, click on the CaringBridge link at the top of the page.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The last Monday I'll be pregnant

So maybe it's not THE last Monday, but for this go-round it is!

For my friends and family who haven't seen me lately -

39 weeks and looking very round.

Me and Jonathan - he is so silly!

March is a big month for us.  On top of having a new baby, my mother-in-law, myself, and my sister-in-law all have birthdays this month.  Our wedding anniversary is this month.  AND the Hunger Games comes out!  I am really looking forward to what else the Lord has in store for us besides what's on my calendar. 

God willing, the next time I post it will be to show off a beautiful newborn boy!  Three more days...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

We're having a baby this week!!

This is one of the most exciting posts I've written!

The baby has been breech for months, so my doctor has scheduled a c-section for this upcoming Thursday.  The hospital called yesterday to give me all the info I would need to be ready.  I think the hardest part is going to be going without food or coffee in the morning, but then again I will be so excited I think I'll manage!  If I was smart, I would have weaned myself from coffee by now, but we just got a Keurig so there's no way that's gonna happen now - those things make coffee fun!

I spent the day getting last-minute things done:  cleaning the ball-and-chain (aka Medela pump); buying replacement pump parts and slow flow nipples; gathering clothes that need to be washed in the special baby detergent; and getting our family's new ride - a minivan!  That's right, we have a minivan.  I never thought I'd drive one (I actually always said I'd never drive one.  But as a young, wise, baby-faced, Canadian-born pop singer said: "Never say never.")  Anyway, after comparing multiple cars in our price range nothing compared to the van for a family with 2 car seats and a 75lb furry son (aka Wesley, our chocolate lab).

If you are reading this, I hope you are as excited as we are!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Full Term baby!! (PS I am not a theologian).

We made it!  Thirty seven weeks pregnant - I have to admit there was a time when we doubted if we'd get this far.  I am so relieved and can't wait to meet our healthy, chunky termie!  FYI: termie is what parents of preemies/people-in-the-know call full-term babies. ;)

I wanted to share that info. but I also wanted to share something of a more spiritual significance and I hope someone can benefit from it as I did.

To begin, I read my Bible using Professor Horner's Bible Reading System.  If you click on the name it will take you to a pdf that explains it - I highly recommend it for many reasons, one being that you cover 10 chapters a day, some are in the Old Testament and some in the New.  Some days, like today, the chapters overlap and a theme emerges that makes me think, "Hmm, guess that is an important concept to God."

I began in Numbers 11.  The Israelites are complaining about the "good ol' days" back in Egypt where although they were slaves, they had all the food they wanted, but now all they had to eat was manna (but they were free).  So God tells Moses that the people will have enough quail to feed them for days; they'll have so much they'll be sick of it.  And Moses replies, "God, we have over 600,000 soldiers with us!  Even if we kill every animal we own and catch every fish in the sea it won't be enough."  Of course, he forgets he is talking to the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE.  But instead of belittling Moses, God just says, "Is there any limit to my power?"

Lesson: God doesn't like when we complain so don't do it, and don't doubt God's resources.

After that chapter, following the reading system, I go to 2 Corinthians 6 where Paul describes all the hardships he has endured.  Throughout all the beatings, starving, freezing, sleepless nights and heartache, he still recognizes that there is great hope in Jesus.  He doesn't look at his relationship with God in terms of all the bad things that have happened to him - he views it despite them.  He still talks about his "purity, understanding, patience, kindness, love and power of the Holy Spirit."  He has every right to be sick and tired of it all, but he clings to these fruits of the Spirit and finds peace and relief in them.

Lesson:  I haven't been through anything as bad as Paul describes, yet when life stresses me out, I neglect to see the great gifts God has given me in my life.  Not material things, but the intangible eternal things, like the ones Paul mentions.  Circumstances shouldn't dictate my attitude - Jesus should.

So all this is starting to click in my head now.  Next in the system is 1 Peter 5.  In verses 6-7 Peter says, "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.  Give all your worries to God, for he cares about what happens to you."  Later in verses 10-11 he says, "In his kindness, God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ.  After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.  All power is his forever and ever.  Amen." (emphasis mine)

Lesson:  I am going to suffer, but that doesn't mean God doesn't care about what happens to me.  He is kind, and he promises to provide for me from his unlimited resources.

To top it all off, I then read Psalm 121: 

1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

This is what put me over the top and I thought, "I have to write this down!"  So I decided to share publicly in case there was someone else out there who God is trying to reach with his message of perseverance under trails.  We can keep going and we can even be HAPPY (?!) when we face trials because God LOVES us and he is keenly aware of all we are going through!

As my due date approaches, I have found myself becoming more and more anxious.  Since the baby is still breech, the doctors did not remove my cerclage.  Since they didn't remove it, I need to report to the hospital immediately once I start having contractions so they can remove it and I can dilate without injuring myself (assuming the baby has flipped head-down).  However, if the baby is still breech chances are they will administer an emergency c-section and remove the stitch at that time.  I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions lately that are much stronger than before, so I am constantly wondering, "OK, is this it?  Should I be getting ready to go?"  I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the hard work of labor, but I may have a c-section and not need to worry about pushing and breathing through contractions.

BUT, in light of everything I just shared with you, I am wasting my time with these thoughts.  I even wasted my time and yours by writing that last paragraph because the God of the universe, who has the power to raise people from the dead, is creating this baby inside of me and he will bring him into the world just the way he wants.  God cares about me, and the baby.  He wants me to be at peace and to trust him.  He has given me a full-term pregnancy and I have not had one single issue during the last 37 weeks, praise God for that! 

To sum it all up (I am speaking to myself here, but you probably need to hear this too):  STOP COMPLAINING!  The Lord is trying to do work in your life, and it will be an awesome work because he is infinitely more wise than us and he loves us!  Stop longing for the "easier times", and stop looking at the negatives.  Remember all the good that there still is; dwell on the blessings you have despite the tough circumstances you are in.  Then, as Peter said, "After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power is his forever and ever. Amen"

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,
and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.
Today’s trouble is enough for today."
-Matthew 6:33-34

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Heads or tails?

We have made it to 35 weeks pregnant!

At the beginning of this pregnancy our goal was to get to 28 weeks, and God has exceeded what we asked and hoped for!  We are so excited to meet our little man, who had a name until last night when Mommy started second-guessing it.

I weigh more than I ever have (which in this case is a good thing!).  I am incapable of taking a flattering picture at this point in pregnancy but here is the idea:

Baby is still breech (heads) so we are hoping he flips soon (tails).  I read about some techniques that supposedly help a breech baby flip, and I even tried them, but I wasn't comfortable doing them so I am just going to wait it out and see if he flips or not.  When I'm reading or watching tv my hand always wanders to feel for his head up by my ribs (where it always is), and every day that goes by it seems like he is most comfy there.  Worst case scenario, he stays breech and I have a c-section, but then I get a baby with a pretty little head instead of a cone-head! :)

So the countdown is on.  We still haven't gotten the office ready to be an office/nursery.  We actually aren't even sure the office will be the nursery.  We have an awesome swing and bassinet ready to go while we try to figure it out, though.

So head up or down, natural or c-section, one way or another this baby is coming soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wow, it's been over a month since the last post.  I guess I have been busy nesting and resting and not thinking about writing. 

The biggest thing that we've experienced is Jonathan starting to walk.  This would be a great place to insert a video but I don't have one (what a bad mommy!).  I do have a picture of him mid-stride, though.

Hands up and out to the sides and laughing as he walks.

Obviously, we were so excited when he started taking his own steps.  He still crawls when he needs to get somewhere quickly (like down the hall to his room), but almost half the time he prefers to walk.

He has also learned to identify things using words.  A few of the words in his arsenal: pup-pah (puppy), meh (meow, which he says when he sees our cat), cah (car), baou (ball), tuh-DOU (touchdown...don't ask why he knows this).  Then he has code words that only we know the meaning of:  ha HA ha means he wants to watch a Three Little Pigs cartoon he is currently obsessed with; bah bah BAH bah is Brown Bear Brown Bear; ba ba BA is Yo Gabba Gabba.  It might sound far-fetched but I am telling the truth: we have decoded some if his jibber jabber.  There are still some things that he says that I have no idea what he means, but the important thing is that he is communicating!

I am now in my third trimester (33 weeks to be exact).  It isn't as bad as the first, but it is pretty uncomfortable.  We have made it almost 10 weeks further than we did with Jonathan which is so amazing to us!  We never thought I'd be pregnant for so long and it is such a blessing to be able to experience this and have the peace of mind that this baby will (hopefully) have a much less eventful beginning to his life than his brother Jonathan did.  I am scheduled to have the cerclage removed on Feb. 15, my last day of being 36 weeks pregnant (that's 1 day shy of being full-term).  BUT so far baby James is breech.  If he doesn't flip by then, they will not remove the stitch and schedule me for a C-section, then remove the stitch at the same time.  I know C-sections happen all the time, but I am really looking forward to labor (weird, I know) and will be disappointed if I can never experience that (our local hospital does not do VBAC). 

BUUUUUT God is sovereign and He knows what way is best for me and James, and whatever God ordains is right. 

Jeff is still in school at RTS in Orlando.  He is gearing up to start his Spring semester and has already begun yet another online class.  I can tell when he is starting new classes because a steady stream of books starts to arrive in the mail.  We bought a huge bookshelf about a year ago, and we have a good collection of books then, but now it's overflowing like crazy.  Almost all the books on there are theology-related, and about 1/3-1/4 are books that have been purchased just since Jeff started seminary.  I have never seen a person go through so many books in such a short amount of time!  But, I have never lived with someone pursuing a Master's degree, either, which is in a whole other league compared to a Bachelor's, not to mention that RTS is a prestigious school so they are going to make you work to be able to call yourself an alumnus.  How he does it all while still performing his duty at church and being an AWESOME dad and husband I will never know!  But thank God he is able.

So that's the Skipper household in a nutshell.  I wanted to write about an awesome series I have been reading on the meaning of marriage based on Paul's teaching in Ephesians 5, but that will have to wait.  So much good stuff in there, though!  If you want to read it yourself, here are the first 2 parts:

Part 1: A Picture Perfect Marriage

Part 2: The Wife's Role