Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Baby Joseph

Another little miracle, Joseph Benjamin Dueck, arrived in our family September 5th, 2010 at 3:23pm. Of course, every mom describes the birth of her children as miraculous--I know, I feel that way about each of mine--but in this case Joseph's healthy arrival really did turn out to be something of a miracle.

But before I get into the story, I have some catching up to do since I haven't blogged at all about this pregnancy.
So ...

Here's me on the first day of school which was just two days before Joseph was born. Since I was taking pictures of the kids, James decided I needed one as well. I'm actually glad he did, because I had been meaning to get a picture of my baby "bump" for days if not weeks and hadn't gotten around to it. Of course, I thought I still had plenty of time to make it happen.

And just very quickly, I have to throw out some highlights from this pregnancy which for some reason all have to do with Mae ...

  • Mae telling me (during the first trimester when I was in a constant state of wanting to vomit and she didn't yet know I was pregnant) that she thought she was catching what I had.
  • The look on Mae's face when I pulled into the McDonald's drive-through at 9:30am and ordered a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone. As a side note, the thirty minutes following were pure bliss, and then reality--i.e, morning sickness--set back in.
  • Mae's dramatic reaction at the doctor's office when she found out we were having yet another boy.

Okay, so a little less than two weeks prior to the day of Joseph's birth, I had woken up with bleeding and fluid and had gone to the ER. Initially the doctor seemed to think I would be delivering at that time so antibiotic was started (I'm GBS+) and I was given the first of two steroid shots to help develop the baby's lungs (since he would have only been 35+ weeks). After what seemed to be a pristine ultrasound, however, and many hours of perfect results from the fetal monitor, I was told that the bleeding was likely just some burst blood vessel/polyp and was allowed to go home. I did return the following day as requested for some follow-up monitoring, but again everything seemed perfect.

I continued to have light bleeding throughout the days that followed, which I felt a little uneasy about. However, after being reassured yet again that the ultrasound had been thoroughly examined I decided everything must be okay.

On the morning of Sunday, September 5th, I woke up again with bleeding and fluid. Realizing that this was exactly what had happened before, I did not think much about it. When it continued, though, somewhat heavier than the first time, I decided maybe my water had broken and I should probably call my midwife. I suppose I should explain that after four amazingly smooth hospital births with doctors attending, we had decided that a home birth (or birth at our midwife's home birthing "center"--really just a beautiful extension of her home) sounded perfect and might be an interesting experience.

Less than an hour later, we were at her place and I was yet again hooked up to the IV for my antibiotic. My midwife was somewhat unsure about whether my water had or had not officially broken, but I was dilated and in light of the unexplained bleeding, she seemed interested in me having the baby sooner rather than later. So, we proceeded to read our books, Kevin made a quick run for lunch at a nearby cafe, and I honestly felt like I could close my eyes and take a nap.

Here's another picture of my baby bump, taken at the birthing center

One side of the room where I was planning to give birth (it's hard to tell in the picture, but the home/center is located right on a beautiful lake)The other side of the roomStrapped up to the monitors ... everything is still looking good.

However, everything quickly changed just a few hours later. Once the second dose of antibiotic was administered (I needed two doses, four hours apart), my midwife checked me again and attempted to break what she thought was a bag of waters, although she seemed a little uncertain about exactly what she was feeling (which really showed what a strange situation mine was becoming because she's been practicing for about forty years and has delivered over four thousand babies).

Just minutes later I started having very intense contractions. One in particular that didn't want to go away at all, where my belly was extremely tight and fairly deformed looking. It finally did go away, and the contractions continued more moderate for a little while longer. After probably thirty minutes or less I felt gushing and mentioned to my midwife that I thought another bag of water was rupturing (apparently there can sometimes be up to three). When she checked me, though, we both realized that I was bleeding profusely.

So, she calmly informed me that she would be transferring me to the hospital (a life-saving decision on her part that I will forever be grateful for) and immediately contacted 911 for an ambulance. In the few minutes before they came, she had already been in touch with the hospital to inform them of the situation and let them know that I would soon be arriving. Soon I was being loaded onto a stretcher and boosted up into the ambulance. I will likely never forget the unpleasant feeling of having an IV inserted into my arm while speeding fairly quickly over bumpy roads, or the reassuring feeling of watching from the back windows of the ambulance as Kevin followed along right behind us.

When I arrived at the hospital just minutes later, a team of nurses and doctors were waiting to receive me. Part of the miracle that day was in fact that the attending OB happened to be one of the only ones who stays on-site during his on-call rotation (he lives too far away to go home). The department also happened to be overstaffed, and as it turned out, there were no other women in labor at the time. So basically Joseph and I had the undivided attention of everyone present.

Anyway, my midwife had informed me in the ambulance that a c-section was possible, but after being wheeled into an operating room with about ten people in it, including an anesthesiologist asking when I had last eaten that day, I quickly realized that it was in fact a certainty. It didn't seem to take more than five minutes for the skilled group to have me prepped and very quickly dozing off (something I'm actually grateful for, because, although I had felt pretty calm throughout the whole ordeal, my concern was definitely beginning to grow).

And so, our morning had quickly gone from the beautiful room on the lake to the scene shown below ...

Hardly five plus minutes later (or, so I hear), Joseph had arrived and he was just perfect!I can't even imagine how relieved Kevin must have been after all of that, to hear that mom and baby were okay (since it was an emergency c-section he was not allowed in the operating room), and to finally get to hold this little guy.Grandma Dueck quickly arrived!

Basically it turned out that I had a very rare condition called Vasa Previa. The doctor who operated on me said that it happens about two percent of the time and the outcome is usually very poor. My very basic understanding is that the veins that run from the uterus to the placenta (carrying blood, oxygen, etc.) are supposed to run protected through the umbilical cord. However, in a Vasa Previa, the veins run for at least part of the distance outside of the cord and so pretty much without protection. Apparently it isn't always a problem unless the veins are running through the membranes (bag of waters) between the baby's head and the cervical opening. In which case, when the membranes rupture, or contractions increase in strength and baby is moved downward, the veins are torn/broken and hemorrhage occurs. In which case baby quickly loses blood and oxygen supply.

One place I read said that it is considered the baby hemorrhaging more than the mother, although I don't quite understand this because later in the night I ended up requiring a blood transfusion (two units/pints) because of the loss of blood I had experienced, and ensuing low hematocrit (iron) count. What I do understand, though, is that we are so blessed to be alive and well! I also read online that in undiagnosed cases of Vasa Previa (like mine) the baby usually does not survive. I think the statistical range I encountered was 60-90% fatality. It was very sad to read about the many stories of women who lost their anticipated little ones because of this condition.

I think it's worth documenting that Vasa Previa cannot be (or is typically not) detected from a standard ultrasound, but a color ultrasound (specifically color Doppler, I believe) would show the condition. Confused yet? Me too!

This part is all something of a blur, but here I am coming to Joseph's body temperature was low so they placed him on my bare skin to help warm him up. I was still a bit fuzzy at this point, but I do remember being concerned that I would make him even colder--seeing as I was freezing. But we were both soon toasty warm! My mom and Glenn were in Yakima for the weekend, but also arrived very quickly to see how we were doing. Joseph's first bath So peaceful! Grandma and Grandpa Dueck Trying to get footprints--I guess it took a few attempts Proud Papa! What an amazing dad. And here come the troops. After everything we had gone through on the day of Joseph's birth, we decided to wait until the following day to have the kids visit ... they were so excited! What a lucky little boy, to have so many big brothers (and one awesome sister;) to watch over him!
Getting to know Dad And, after almost three days in the hospital ... it's finally time to go home! Mom is sooo ready! The poor child doesn't even know what he's getting himself into coming to our crazy home.

I would feel terrible if I concluded this post without saying how amazingly grateful I am for modern medicine and skilled doctors and nurses. I never thought I would experience an emergency c-section and blood transfusion with my fifth child, and I certainly would have preferred not to have gone through these precedures; however, I'm also immensley grateful that these amazing advances in medical treatment are available and that my precious little child and myself are able to be home with our family because of them.

I also feel the need to say thank you, thank you, and thank you again to so many who were praying for me and Joseph continuously throughout those last couple of weeks of pregnancy, and especially on the day when all the craziness occurred. As well as to those who helped me with my children, brought meals (and treats:) to my home, checked in on me in the hospital (despite my very scarey appearance), and did a handful of other very thoughtful things for me and my family. You are wonderful and we love you all!

And I am also indebted as always to God, an amazingly thoughtful and concerned father in heaven. He has watched over my life (and my little family) step by step. Although I can't imagine how I could possibly deserve such a rich life and so many abundant blessings, He realy does continue to pour them down upon me. I thank Him daily for a caring spouse and for the perfect little spirits that he has allowed to enter into our home. They are each so unique and wonderful and (as much as they drive me insane on occassion:) I could not imagine life without any one of them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Three in School ...

As I sit down to write this post, I am amazed that we could actually have three kids in school this year. Wow, we must be getting old:). Where in the world did the time go? Seriously! I just told Kevin yesterday that I'm pretty sure we got married about a year ago ... where'd all these kids come from and how did they get so big?

Anyway, our newest addition to the world of field trips, homework packets, and recess craziness, is the only other female representative of our home ... our "little" Mae. As an older kindergartner (turning 6 in less than a month from now), she was soooo ready to go!

This is her on the first day of Kindergarten Camp (a new program in our school where the kindergartners get to attend "school" for a couple of days, two weeks before the actual starting date).

Does she look excited?Cute pie!
And here are all of our school-going kids ready for their official first day

Notice the wannabe school boy on the left (back pack and all) ... can't miss him in the Power Ranger pajamas. Sorry Brooks, you're day will come! For now you'll just have to stay home with boring 'ole Mom.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crazy LOVE!

One evening about a month and-a-half ago, Kevin took the "big boys" to some awesome zip lines up in the mountains (thanks, Bishop), so Mae, Brooks, and I headed to Shrek part 4 (courtesy of our super handy dollar theater ... $2 to be exact). Afterwards we crossed the street to Cold Stone where Mae selected, for the three of us to share, a mountain of chocolate ice cream (Who's mentioning the crunched Oreo cookie bits and cute little chocolate chips? Not me), contained in a chocolate-covered waffle bowl adorned with colorful sprinkles.

We sat outside in the amazing summer air where I was toasty warm with my built-in babylicious heater despite the frozen indulgence. As cliche as this sounds, it felt like time halted for a moment while I watched my two little ones basking in the giddiness of sugar and cream and being out past bedtime. Little did they know that as they giggled and munched away, my heart was silently exclaiming, "you are absolutely EVERYTHING to me, messy faces and all!"

Oh, how I adore my crazy little family!

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera at the time, but I did quickly snap these pics once we arrived home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

S'mores Anyone?

After three years of really wanting a fenced backyard--talking about it, calculating costs, deciding against it, and then starting the process all over again--my wonderful and very handy hubby not only built me a fence, but he also landscaped a beautiful backyard for me as well.

These first pics (taken from James' 6th birthday) show how atrocious the yard was before. It sloped off the back and left side which provided quite a bit of useless space; unfortunate, since there wasn't a whole lot of space to begin with. I had dug out a hole for the trampoline in an effort to make mowing easier, but it looked messy and unfinished. Oh, and it felt like we were in a fishbowl every time we went out to play because of the neighboring homes in very close proximity on both sides--not to mention the Barbie mansion in the back (it's hard to see in the pictures, but trust me it's there ... I had a plastic one the exact same color when I was little).

The edge of the yard in this picture is the blue Rubbermaid on the left. In this picture, it's the line of small rocks on the right (starting at the whiskey barrel), and in the back, it's the smaller farm-looking fence (not the larger one further out).
So after about three months of working as much as time would permit, hauling 12 yards of gravel, 7+ yards of cedar chips, who knows how many cinder blocks for the retaining wall, and quite a few garden wall blocks for the fire pit area--not to mention digging out sod, laying weed block, and building actually quite a large fence--the yard now looks like ...
isn't it pretty!
Even though the fire pit appears in the above pictures, it actually did not come until the rest of the project was complete. Kevin and James (quite the little handyman himself) got the idea after watching an online video tutorial of "how to build your own fire pit". After having observed, through the life cycle of the yard-improvement project, how a small-er project can quickly turn into a much larger, more expensive, and much more time consuming one, I was initially against the idea. But they did a wonderful job, and the whole thing only ended up taking a few hours (including the purchasing and hauling of materials).

James wasn't the only one more than excited to help
Don't they look handy!
Making sure the fire bowl fits in the pit opening
Laying of the fire-resistant bricks
Daddy's little helper
And, voila! We're ready for s'mores! ... Thanks, Mom, for a great early Christmas present!
And thanks, hon, for all your hard work. You're as handy as they come!
Honorable mention goes to my mom and Glenn for helping with a variety of very undesirable tasks. The least glamorous of which would have to be staining each individual fence board, oftentimes on the hottest summer days. Thanks, guys!