Friday, August 30, 2013

The Whole Kai Story

Malachi Stillman made his grand appearance into the world a bit before suppertime on Wednesday, August 28.  Since he spent the last two weeks of his confinement in my tummy moving like a wild man, I suppose it's fitting that his labor and delivery were a bit exciting as well.

Around 4 on Wednesday morning I decided I was seeing a pattern in contractions and called my friend, Carolyn, who was on the list of people who had said they would come watch the other kids when it was time.  By around 5, D and I were ready to drive the 5 minutes to the hospital.  We arrived, got checked, and were told we were good to stay and that I was in active labor.  When I arrived, I was only dilated to 2 but had enough labor going on.

By 1, my doctor had arrived and said I was to the point I could have an epidural.  I opted to wait a bit before asking and ended up quickly dilating to 8 before the anesthesiologist could arrive as he was stuck in surgery.  We spent about 2 hours waiting to go from 8 to 10.  Then we were ready to push.  So push we did.  For two hours.  Malachi was engaged, would show us his hair, and seemed to be doing well but after two hours, things started to change.  He stopped staying forward and started scooting backwards after the initial push would pull him forward.  The doctor did try to use the vacuum to help him stay put but in the end, he just kept going the wrong way.

So given that I was exhausted and the baby wasn't cooperating, we decided to do a C-section.  However, by this time, my epidural was out.  The anesthesiologist  was still again off with another patient.  Once he arrived, he had a hard time getting the pain under control and things numb enough for a C-section.  In fact, I was on the table in the OR still feeling wet and cold on my abdomen and there was a real chance I was going to have to have a spinal block rather than just an epidural.  In the last few minutes, the epidural started taking.

The C-section was relatively routine and Kai appeared with a bit of crying.  The nurses swept him off and he was off to the side for just a few moments before one nurse started to ask the doctor to come over because he was running a fever.   Which then turned into him not breathing and turning blue.  It was a pretty scary few moments of D intensely praying "Lord Jesus, help our baby."  Kai seemed to quickly recover his breathing but he was still having difficulty breathing consistently and the fever indicated a potential infection.  He was whisked off to the nursery for a chest x ray and more testing while the doctors finished stitching me up.

Eventually our doctor came in and said that we had a sick baby who was running a fever and who was continuing to be inconsistent in his ability to breath on his own so they were going to transfer him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unity in Lincoln where they could better monitor Kai's condition.  D had already headed to the hospital nursery to be with Kai.  They wheeled me off to the recovery room until the ambulance had arrived to take Kai to Lincoln.  Then they wheeled my bed back by the nursery so I could see him before he left.  I didn't have my glasses on so really I saw nothing but at least I felt like I could sort of see him.

From there, Kai left for Lincoln and I headed to my regular hospital room.  My mom was coming to watch the kids but she still had not arrived so we ended up deciding that D would go to Lincoln that night once my mom got there and we got the kids settled since they were staying with a friend.  By the time she had arrived, we had gotten a call from the NIC unit in Lincoln and they said Kai was doing so much better.  In the end, D decided that since it was pretty late and Kai was doing so much better, that he would stay at the hospital with me instead.

By Thursday morning, I was up early, hoping they would quickly get me transferred to Lincoln so I could see the baby.  My doctor was great about getting that done so I arrived in the ambulance by about noon.  By the time I got checked out by my new doctor and got situated in my room, it was around 2 or so before D and I got to make our way down to the NIC unit to see Kai.  However, he had continued to do well all night long so we knew he had improved much since his birth.  When they took him to the NIC unit, they had done two iv's, one for sugar water (for feeding) and one with antibiotic for his fever.  He was also on oxygen due to his breathing.  However, by the time we got to see him on Thursday, he had only the sugar water iv left in.

Since Thursday, he has consistently improved and is now off of that iv as well.  He is still working on getting the nursing bit down but I'm confident he will get it figured out.  We have lots of people from the hospital who are excellent at providing lactation support and even at worst case scenario, he will still get fed formula.
I have been doing well.  Thankfully, I have not had a lot of pain and I seem to be tolerating food and movement well.  I know I'm still running on a lot of adrenaline but both D and I are plugging along with not a lot of sleep and still doing well.

While our labor and delivery didn't necessarily go as planned, I did do two purposeful things that I think helped.  I used Spotify to create a play list of songs which allowed me to focus on and listen some very specific worship songs throughout the day.  At the suggestion of my cousin, Natalie, I also read a book called Redeeming Childbirth.  While I actually didn't finish the whole book before Kai's arrival, I read most of it.  The author's purpose was encourage Christian women to view labor and birth as positive experiences designed to draw us closer to God, that labor and delivery should be refining processes which create in us opportunities to focus on and be like Jesus.  I think both of those things gave me a lot of focus and encouragement as I spent the day in labor, with several uncertain moments.  Thankful tonight for a faithful God who was present in every moment of Kai's birth day.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

39 Weeks

In case you're wondering, last Friday marked 39 weeks of pregnancy.  My official due date is Friday, the 30th.  The correct answer to how I am feeling is "Pregnant."  I really haven't felt too sorry for myself especially after my doctor's appointment last Wednesday when there was a woman in the waiting room who was very pregnant and looked so miserable.  But Friday evening, Saturday morning, and this morning have kind of found me in a bit of a funk.  Can't say I'm miserable but just ready.  (And a smidge crabby and hormonal.)  Tonight seems to be better.

I actually have several unrelated pregnancy thoughts running through my head so I guess I'll share them.

I'm kind of convinced that perhaps the reason Kai is avoiding delivery involves my children.  I think it has to be awfully offputting to have 3 children rest their little heads on my stomach while whispering, "Baby, come out soon!" in a slightly spooky, horror film type voice.

I am also convinced that he needs to arrive soon or I may turn into a shopping addict.  I've bought several things in the last month or so, many off online Facebook sites for area people selling items.  Included in my purchases were a new area rug for the living room (from Zulily) which was kind of a major purchase but one we had been thinking about as our old rug was too small.  Our furniture did not sit on the edges of the rug and since we have wood floors and felt pads on the furniture, the furniture was often sliding all over the place.

As I mentioned before, I bought the boys a new dresser.  And on a complete whim this week, I bought new chairs for the dining room.  I can't say that was something we had talked a lot about but we had complained a lot about our old chairs.  Our old chairs were a Craigslist find.  I think I paid $60 for 6 maple stained Windsor backed chairs.  They are super solid and very heavy.  I painted and distressed them so they were robin's egg blue with black underneath.  Truly they were a labor of love because there were a ton of spindles to work around.  I really did like the way they turned out.  However, they took up a very large space in our dining room because they did not slide under the apron of our farm table.  They are also a pain to clean since you have to wipe around so many spindles.  Last, the feet were in not pristine shape.  The previous owner had put on some type of slides which were hammered in but half of those were missing but the nail still remained in the foot.  The feet were also cut off on some of them and not quite even.  I covered them with rubber cups to protect the floor but the cups would not slide which made it hard to get in and out of.  So I put felt pads on the rubber cups but the pads were adhesive and attracted dog hair which was just kind of gross.  Anyway, I saw 4 Mid Century modern vinyl and metal chairs for a decent price ($60 for 4) and thought I would give them a try.  (I figured if I didn't like them, they were cheap enough I could resell and that my old Windsor style chairs should be able to be sold for close to the $60 if we decided to keep the new yellow ones.)  I would be more in love with them if they were blue instead of yellow but I do still like them.  They wipe down so much easier, take up much less space, and don't have hairballs so that makes it a win for me.

Finally, I had a wonderful moment in church today thanks to an unlikely source.  We have an older lady at church who often talks to us about our family, being pregnant, adopting, etc..  She means well sometimes the things she says are ones you wish she would filter.  Today, she started her usual conversation about my pregnancy and ended up gushing about how special we were as people to just take in the kids like we have.  Our family friend, John, was sitting behind us and before I could even speak, he interjected, "Well, I think they have pretty special kids."  If you know John, he's not exactly a wordsmith but today his words were perfect.  I was just thankful to hear him affirm to my kids who were sitting beside me, that adoption is not about us being special parents but about all kids being special kids.

So that's the random week 39 news.  Still pregnant, my kids are anxious, I'm on a buying streak, and my friend, John, made my day...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Boy and His Love

Guess who got scissors today?

To say he is excited is an understatement.  He has been wanting to cut with scissors so badly but can't quite manage the regular safety scissors.  We met with the occupational therapist at school for an evaluation and based on my previous conversations with her, she knew that he was wanting to cut with scissors so she brought him a special pair.  The finger holes are joined together so they operate more on spring action than a regular pair of scissors.  Since they don't come apart, he can use both hands to hold them and push since his half an pointer finger is not quite strong enough to grip the hole.  In the words of the OT, "let me know if he sleeps with them tonight."  On the way home from school, he kept saying "I like scissors!"  It's now 4:21 and he has spent the last 25 minutes or so cutting and drawing.  He is enamored!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why Did We Sign Up For This? Some Linky Love

I fielded a few pregnancy versus adoption related questions this week from the parent of kids that we teach.   (She was not intrusive just had experienced infertility and wanted to know if we had a common experience.)  When people ask some of those questions, even though I've answered them many times over, I still find myself fumbling a bit for words.  Today, I read and loved this section from a blog post at No Hands But Ours:

"The truth is, we don’t sign our names on the bold black line, while our brand new toddler screams bloody murder on our lap, so that we’ll pop back into Life As Usual and feel totally like that child’s mother, cutting the crusts off bread and vacuuming under the rug. If those were our expectations, we would be undone by disappointment when our child doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t feel like our own, and the rug doesn’t get vacuumed until three months after Gotcha Day.

Friends, let us not forget that why we signed up for this. At some level, at some point in time, each of us realized that this life is not about our comfort, or even our happiness…or even, I propose, about us at all. The reason my husband and I adopted our daughter was because, quite simply, we are a family, and she needed one."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Occupy Your Children

Also known as "let them dig in the mud pile that accumulates in the street due to a lack of sewer grates"....

They've played "mud pies" for two days now and surprisingly it hasn't been all that messy.  A few rolly polly bugs may have been buried/injured in the construction of said mud pies but other than that, no casualities.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Disorganized Brains

Neurological damage...basically a fancy way to say "brain damage."  I'm not talking damage that occurs as a result of a car accident or a fall.  I'm talking about the way institutional care (orphanage care) impacts brain development.  It's one of those things where I am often quick to forget that two of my kids have spent large percentages of their lives in orphanage care.  Where because we don't deal with major behavioral challenges, it is easy to forget how that time in orphanage care has impacted their brains.

Then, this past weekend, I attended a breast feeding class in preparation for Kai and something said in that class resonated with me specifically regarding institutional care and early neurological development.  The instructor spent time talking about looking for feeding cues with your newborn, taking the time to pay attention to small signals that your child was hungry, things like making grunting noises, rooting around in blankets, or putting fingers into the mouth.  Her message was "do not wait until your baby is crying or screaming to feed your child.  A disorganized child will not and cannot feed."

This caused me to stop in my tracks and consider how orphanage care simply cannot ever meet this high threshold for response time.  No matter how loving the nannies, no matter how ample the food supply, no matter how well planned the meal times, orphanage care cannot result in keeping babies from getting to a state of neurological disorganization.  And it's a vicious cycle, one where babies are hungry and start to show signs of hunger but where nannies are often unable to meet that need before the child starts to fuss, where that same pattern repeats itself perhaps multiple times in a day for a child.  And that lack of quick response has to start rewiring the brain ever so subtly.

It is just too easy as an adoptive mom to think that my kids were blessed by caring, loving nannies and so their little brains were spared from neurological trauma.  My kids did not lack for food.  My kids did not lay in cribs and scream for hours on end because no one fed them or played with them.  My kids came out of orphanage care knowing so many positive things.  But their little brains, whether it looks like it or not, still are healing from their time in orphanage care, even if the repairs are small.

More on attachment and neurological development:
From 4Everfamily  
Attachment Parenting in a "Normal" Childhood

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A New Dresser and a New Theory

Zeke sat in the toy box a few weeks ago and broke it beyond repair.  It was a nice little box with a lid that kept the mass of stuffed animals under control and hidden away.  So it left me wondering what to find to replace it.  I found nothing.  Like new stuff that cost $75 for a simple little toy box.  Or ugly stuff like a Rubbermaid tote.  

Then crazy pregnancy brain took over and I decided I'd hit a few yard sales and see if I could find a cheap dresser.  Because then I could move the kids' clothes out of the dressers in the closet and use the dresser for the now homeless toys.  

And why on earth wouldn't a lady who is 9 months pregnant buy and refinish a dresser a few weeks before having a baby?  

I did find a dresser for $25 that I thought would work.  I hauled it home and started sanding.  

And then realized I was nuts.  It really would have been an easy project but honestly, one I had no business starting.  

I then resorted to Facebook and a local group I am on for refurbishing furniture.  Many of the people on there are small business owners who refinish furniture on the side.  One of the women on there had a long dresser she would refinish for $150 in the colors of my choice.  She also would take a trade on the dresser I bought.  She agreed to value my trade at $30 so for $120 I ended up with this beautiful solid wood dresser done in turquoise with a dark stained top.  So much better than what $120 would have bought at Walmart or Target and done in colors that match the boys' room.  Hopefully it will be tough enough to withstand boys.  It's also big enough to hold all of the boys' clothes so that meant I could simplify their closets a bit.

Really, this would probably look better with some art above it but it works just fine.  The containers on the left are actually canister sets from Walmart that were like $2 a piece.  I just spray painted the white lids brown.

I also am adopting a new theory regarding the kids' room.  We decided to photograph everything in the rooms and use those photos as reminders of what a clean room looks like.  I'm hoping this might help them be more independent in cleaning and keep us from the ongoing battle of "go pick up your room", "it is clean", and then walking in to find piles of toys and dirty clothes and trash.  We'll see...
I cleared out some of the toys under the beds and put them on the bookshelves.  Think that will help with the "stuff everything under the bed problem?"  Probably not but...

Even took pictures of under the beds...

And the closets...

And the shoes...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Birthday #7

Kenson turned 7 this week.  With his new hair cut and missing front teeth, I think this summer has aged him about 3 years.  
Enjoying the Gothenburg Rodeo where we celebrated with Mom's side of the family-new boots and a new t shirt for this photo

Wish #1-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake.  I was really going to bow out of the cake making this go round but couldn't find a local place that did TMNT so we ended up making it.
So thankful for my artsy husband who helped me do the fondant.
Wish #2-celebrate with Grandpa Dave and Grandma Joann
Playing PIG with Papa and Grandpa Dave

Wish #2-Batman Imaginex Castle
(and a few other gifts-some Batman figures and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tee shirt)

Wish #3-visit the dinosaur museum.  In this case, that's Morrill Hall which has lots of fossils including many that were found in Nebraska and some amazing mammoth/mastedon bones

Digging for fossils in the lower level of Morrill Hall.  They have a really fun play area that has all sorts of fun stuff for kids, from the fossil pit to sensory games to puzzles and insect displays.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Today's Parenting Questions

The top parenting questions from today:

Question1:  Why is the house so darn hot?

Answer:  Because Zeke has shut all of the floor vents because he thinks he's too cold.

Question 2:  What are the circular red marks on Zeke's back?

Answer:  "Hickies" that his sister gave him during bathtime, by sticking a suctioning bath toy to his skin

Wonder, amazement, awe...never a dull moment.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wonderfully Made

I did not think we'd deal with this at 3.  Maybe in kindergarten and definitely in elementary but not at 3.  Tonight, my sweet 3 year old wanted his hands to be different.  If I remember right, he was trying to count something on his fingers and was frustrated because he could only count two.  He pulled at his right hand, the one that is missing the actual hand, and said several times, "shoo, shoo, shoo!"

Oh that stings my heart a bit!  It's that moment that pretty much every mom has to deal with at some point, when your child realizes that in some way, they are different than others when they really just want to be the same.  I guess that's why I thought we had awhile before we heard such words, because 3 year olds are not very self aware and are not usually in tune with how they differ from those around them.

What do you say in those moments?  The church answer of "that's just how God made you." seems pretty shallow.  So does "I love your hands." because moms have to love their kids.  I suppose there isn't any right answer.  It's like a lot of other parenting stuff; it's a cumulative process, where our actions and words over time create patterns which slowly weave their way into our children's hearts.

So in this moment, we talked a bit after supper about what God says.

That God says He made us in our mommies' tummies.

That God says He saw every part of us while He was making us.

That God made us carefully and on purpose.

That the way we are is not an accident or a mistake.

And we also talked about our friend, Malia, who has "different" hands and feet as well.  We looked back through pictures of her hands and feet and talked about if her hands were icky or if they were okay.  Zeke perked up as he remembered that her hands were different like his and of course said her hands were okay not icky.  He was also really concerned about her foot which still needs surgery and the photos from when she had her first surgery on her hands and foot, where she had a cast.  He was very worried about her being hurt when they did the surgeries.

Two moments of tender heartedness from one little centered on his perceptions of self and one centered on his cares for a friend, both about the way God has made us.  Praying God's truth for his heart tonight...

Psalms 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.