Friday, February 12, 2016

I saw my baby die.

I saw my baby die. He had just come out of surgery the day before, and was moved from the NICU down to the surgery floor, which meant he was doing well. After a day of chaos, things felt like they were starting to settle down and maybe I could breathe again.

I had just laid my head down to sleep for the night when alarms started going off. I looked up at the monitor to see my baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels dropping. It didn’t take long before 2 nurses were in my room, and they were able to get his vitals back to normal.

His nurse and the charge nurse were standing guard over his crib debating what might have caused his vitals to drop when it happened again. Suddenly, my room was alive with activity. An emergency team was called to my son’s room to determine the cause for my baby’s feeble hold on life, and a young man was struggling to attach EKG leads onto my baby’s soft skin. After a third crash of his heart rate and oxygen level, the team determined that he was overly sensitive to his morphine. They turned off his pain killers and the NICU reclaimed custody of my baby boy again.

We had not been back to the NICU for 20 minutes when the alarms went off again. Unlike the Surgery floor, where parents have a bed to sleep near their little one, the NICU offers tiny rooms filled with large machines to keep the delicate babies alive. I was quickly pushed outside my son’s room while a team moved into action. His little body turned purple and went stiff as he conceded his grip on life. A respiratory therapist waved an oxygen mask in his face to try to “wake” him, but to my eyes he looked dead already. I had learned a little in the past few hours and could see that my baby’s oxygen level was down to 22%.
Skin to skin with Lil O inside my tank top.

I couldn’t do a damn thing. Except stand outside his doorway sobbing and pleading with God to bring my baby back. A nearby nurse held me and tried to explain what the team was doing to resuscitate him. I heard some of what she said.

Apparently when a little baby is in excruciating pain (because their morphine meds were turned off and they no longer have anything dulling the pain from recent surgery), the baby’s body bears down. His little body tightens up against the pain and forgets to do anything else… like, breathe or pump blood.

My son. My sweet, little baby. He didn’t even have a name yet, but this was that baby boy that I had been praying to God for years to please give me. Less than 48 hours prior, I had held my newborn son and, with a great sense of guilt, questioned whether I could ever love him as much I loved my older son, Jack. Now, my doubt was quickly erased. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Owen took me on my first ambulance ride.

Life was a whirlwind when we arrived at Seattle Children’s. The doctor on call began explaining Owen’s birth defect to Brian & I while tests were being performed on our tiny baby. Not only did Owen have an “imperforate anus”, but there were several other anomalies related to this birth defect. Soon they were testing Owen’s heart and checking his kidneys. In very short order, Brian & I said goodbye to our little baby as he headed into surgery.

It was 11pm and I was exhausted. Only 36 hours before I had given birth and I’d only had 4 hours of sleep since then. I headed to the parent’s room where I was offered a small cot. I didn’t think I could possibly calm my mind enough to sleep, but exhaustion took over and I slept. Hard.
When the pager went off to alert me that Owen was out of surgery and we could return for an update on his status, I immediately noticed that the 3 hour surgery had taken closer to 5 hours. I was terrified that this meant horrible news for my baby.

It seemed like forever before Dr. Avansino met us to discuss the surgery. Our little baby was fine. The surgery had taken a little longer than expected because his intestines were so dilated, but Dr. Avansino thought everything looked good. I couldn’t wait to see my baby.

Owen stayed in the NICU for a couple days. The comfort of the NICU is that nurses only care for 1 or 2 babies at a time, which allows for intense monitoring of your baby’s vitals. The difficult part is that the delicate, NICU babies need their rest. After waiting 9 months to hold my son, I was being told to limit holding him so he could rest and recuperate. It was miserable so I would hold him for as long as the nurse would let me. Between being at Owen’s side and pumping milk for him every 3 hours, I was only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night… and that not even in one shot.

My mom was worried about me… As mothers are apt to do, and it didn’t help that my post-delivery body wasn’t loving my crazy schedule. My feet and legs were so painfully swollen I couldn’t wear shoes and could barely fit into my sandals.

But I couldn’t think about that when my little baby was hooked up to machines. All I wanted was to be at his side, even if I wasn’t allowed to hold him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thank you, Aunt Kirby!

I’d been having contractions for a couple weeks, and I’d gone to the hospital twice thinking I was in labor. The day before Owen was born, I was keeping track of my contractions, but they weren’t very consistent. I was getting ready for bed and I went pee, and just as I was about to stand up… I peed a little more. Now. There are tons of weird things that happen to your body when you’re pregnant…. And this felt weird. I don’t remember my water breaking with Jack’s birth, but I was pretty sure that’s what had happened.

When I called the hospital, they told me to come get checked out, and sure enough the test showed that my water broke.

Owen was born on February 12, 2015 weighing 7lbs 3oz. Right before he was born, his heart rate dropped and I heard my midwife calmly but assertively say that it was time to call the doctor to bring in the vacuum. This scared the $h!t out of me (side note: prior to Owen’s birth I had started to worry about this seemingly archaic concept).

When my midwife told me it was time to push again, I used every muscle in my body to get that sweet baby out; but he still didn’t come. When the midwife said I could stop pushing I refused. There was no way I wanted the doctor sucking my delicate baby out of me. Instead, I was going to push and push and push until the little baby was out.

In hindsight, I’m almost certain that calling for the doctor & vacuum is a secret code that labor & delivery teams use to scare moms into working harder. It certainly worked for me! Owen was out before the doctor arrived.

After some rest, I was ready to head home. But we were waiting for our new baby to have his first bowel movement. The doctor was surprised that after 24 hours, he had not yet made his first dirty diaper. However, he told the nurse to let nature take its course.

Kirby came to the hospital to pick me up and hung out while we waited for Owen to poop so we could head home. As the afternoon passed, it seemed like we would be staying another night. After Kirby left, I was changing Owen’s diaper when I remembered something my sister said. Kirby, who was in nursing school at the time, mentioned a case that she recently read. Apparently, a baby had been born without a hole in his bottom.

While changing Owen’s diaper, I decided to… check. I immediately realized that Owen wouldn’t be pooping anytime soon and called for the nurse. She quickly reassured me that babies just have small bodies and it just looked that way, but after looking at Owen… She called for the charge nurse. Then, the NICU nurse came to check out my baby’s booty.

The next thing I knew Owen was having an ultrasound of his torso and we were being prepped for a trip to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

If it hadn’t been for Kirby’s interest in nursing, for her studious nature and remembering one case study… it would have meant several more hours before the doctors discovered that something was wrong. By the time we reached SCH, Owen bowels were extremely dilated and his tummy so distended... I hate to think how much pain he would have been in if it had not been for his Aunt Kirby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Owen James Furber

Owen James Furber
As Owen’s one year birthday draws near, my heart is very full. Part of me is amazed with what a beautiful, healthy and happy guy he has become. His current, fat little body is so different from the first few weeks of life that he almost seems like a different little person. Could this really be the same boy who had no interest in eating?

The socks to prevent Owen from pulling
out his "pipes" as Jack called them. 
I think Owen is making up for lost time because now if he sees someone eating he thinks it’s time for him to eat, as well. Even if he just ate. I think he’s more than made up for those weeks where he was force fed through a tube down his nose. I can’t believe this is the same baby that we counted every ounce of milk and even added powdered formula to his breast milk to give him additional calories. A mom could not be more proud of fat cheeks. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Mom of Boys

Big Helper
Being a mom of boys is a whole different lifestyle than I anticipated. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, and from the beginning I knew I wanted sons. In fact, I was actually relieved to learn that our firstborn was a boy. But, that hasn't eased the learning curve. There are a ton of skills that moms of boys must master.

For example, I can remove all sorts of stains. I've learned that the Oxiclean spray is the best for removing bodily fluids, and I’m not too concerned to find grass stains on Jack’s pants... Although, I’m all ears if someone has tips for getting lanolin cream out of the couch.
Speaking of stains, I don’t worry about my kid getting dirty when he plays. Because he will. It doesn't bother me when he comes in soaking wet either. Like, the time he fell into the creek while with Aunt Kirby. My poor sister (she has a girl) was soooo worried, and I just figured that comes with the testosterone territory.
Snuggle Bug

I know that the brachiosaurus’ front legs are longer to help him reach the tops of trees (mostly because there's a song that can easily get stuck in your head). I know about cherry pickers, forklifts and excavators. I’m even learning to distinguish different types of Hot Wheels’ cars so I can point them out as we drive around town.

I don’t get too excited when my oldest son falls unless there are tears. And blood. I've discovered creative ways to coerce Jack into washing his hands or picking up his toys. I've learned that wrestling is the young male’s version of snuggling.

T-ball Strategy
The most important thing I've learned is that I like who I am a lot more these days. I've more wisdom than when I was a student. More fun than when I worked in youth ministry. More loving than when I first became a wife. And, I’m learning patience. Slowly.

I still find myself grumbling when Jack wants me to read the same book for the 478th time. This week. I cringe when I hear the frustrated tone after repeating, “Jack, you need to listen!” And, I still have to remind myself to put down my phone and focus on the snugly baby bundle in my arms. I feel like I should smack myself upside the head when I realize I’m focused on Facebook instead of treasuring time with my boys. I know that I’m far from perfect, but at least I’m headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Worst Mom of the Year Award

Worst Mom of the Year Award in.... 3.... 2.... 1

This morning Jack was resting on the couch in the living room when I heard him yell, "Mom, get me a tissue!"

Now, this statement alone should have been my first clue, but I'm not much of a morning person. Instead, I reminded Jack that he needs to ask nicely for things, which was less than effective.

"Mom, get me a baby wipe! They're in my room!" He yelled again.

I calmly replied, "Jack, you need to talk nicely."

"Mom, you get baby wipe for me?" Jack said in a sweet voice.

"Ok," as I slipped into his room and grabbed a wipe. When I came into the living room, I found Jack sitting motionless with puke all over himself and the couch. No wonder my little guy was being so demanding!

Needless to say, he didn't go to school. Instead, we had a bath, did laundry and are enjoying a lazy day watching puppy videos on YouTube.

"Aw, how cute, Mama! The puppies are so cute!"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Orris King 1925-2013

Orris Trela King
Loving Mother
1925 - 2013
When my Grandma's last days where upon us, I wrote the following words to share with her...

Lindsay & Gma
circa 1987
My Dear Grandma,

You have always been one of my favorite people in this world. Growing up you were bigger than life, and not just because you were tall in stature or so physically strong. I think it was your strength of heart. It takes a pretty amazing woman to single-handedly parent that rowdy passel of children like you did. And, to choose to continue living when your eldest son passed away. Now that I'm a parent, too, I more fully understand the strength it required to continue.

One of my favorite, childhood activities was listening to mom tell stories about growing up in a home with six children. I remember one story where you tried to take a nap only to have some stranger knock on the door to tell you that your children were ice skating on the pond. The temperature wasn't low enough to freeze the pond entirely so they had waded out to the ice. It's no surprise that you have always been one of the strongest women in my life. You have to be, to put up with your wild bunch.

Grandma with Zeke & Carbin
You are sweethearted & loyal in your caring for others. Whether it be your son, Steve, or one of the people you encountered as a social worker. Even while in the hospital this week, you would ask your caretakers how they were doing and reach up to stroke their face.

 Stubborn as a mule. I remember you visiting our home in Seattle. We had this 8-foot-tall, blueberry bush with the most delicious fruit. You were harvesting like crazy despite the large beehive tucked in the branches. After being stung several times, mom implored you to leave the bush & bees alone, but you didn't think the bees should get all the berries. Mom was falling apart in laughter at your stubborn streak while she continuously put a baking soda and water mixture on your stings.

Look what poor Grandma had to deal with!
Rosemary, Rita, Grandma, Brenda.
You are fiesty, as Clarke can attest.

A brilliant and quick-witted mind who enjoyed books, crosswords and word puzzles up to the end.

I imagine your resourcefulness partially grew out of necessity, but I'll never forget my amusement when I saw how you packed lunch for me one time. In your frugal way, you used an empty coffee tin for my chips rather than wasting a plastic bag. Some may have been embarrassed, but I was proud of my Grandma who had strived despite hard times.
Great Gma OK & Jack
Resilient. Before divorces were acceptable, you had one and you continued to hold your head high. Before women were common in the workforce, you proved to be a force of your own.

Homemaker. Even though I only visited once a year or so, your house always felt like home. I always enjoyed your cooking. I remember your amusement when I was so excited after you made creamed peas. I remember when you introduced me to peaches with cream and a dash of sugar. Mmm! I'll always remember that you were able to make a good meal out of nothing.

April 2013
Mostly, I will remember that I was your favorite. Or, at least, that's what I always told you, but the truth is
that you were my favorite, Grandma. I love you, and I'm going to miss you.