Friday, August 3, 2012

and we're off! again.

Holy 7-month-long-blog-hiatus, Batman.

Yes, we are still working on the adoption, and sadly, no, there hasn't been anything at all to report for the last 6 months…

The only blog updates I could have possibly written since January would have been sad and pathetic lamentations about how there was nothing new to say. And no one wants to read that. So, here we are…it's now August and I finally have something to say.

In January, Brandon made the very wise decision to get out of the teaching field and move on to something a little less stressful/emotionally draining/tiring/etc. He was offered a job with a local, family-owned company and happily accepted it. It's not the kind of job that you stay with for years and years, but it was a blessing to have when we needed it. The only problem (adoption-wise) was that the time between the "hire date" and the "health insurance start date" was very lengthy, so that put our home study on hold.

We had been just about ready to go ahead with the home study when we made the career-switch, so we have mostly just been sitting around and waiting for most of the last 6 months. And let me tell you something, it is tough to sit.and.wait. when you are trying to get your baby home.

At long last, insurance started up again, and we were all ready to have our home study done when, out of the blue, Brandon interviewed for and was offered a fantastic new job. While we were thrilled about the opportunities this job presented, all I could think was, "Oh no, we can't do the whole 'insurance waiting period' thing again!"

There hasn't been much about this adoption that's gone too smoothly and quickly, so I was prepared for the worst. Really. Even this week we had a "Why can't this just happen the way it's supposed to happen?!" moment that called for me to do a little Lamaze breathing before reacting. Basically, a lot of the adoption process is gathering notarized letters and signatures from doctors, federal people, police departments, employers, friends, family, etc., and it's tough to get those things from people who don't know you and don't really care that you're trying to move quickly so you can adopt a child from an impoverished nation that is suffering through famine, drought, disease, and pestilence.
I was expecting to find out that we were in for another long, emotional wait.

And whilst I was in the middle of my very pitiful pity party, Brandon called me and announced, "Babe, guess what? Our Blue Cross insurance ends July 31st and our Aetna insurance begins August 1st! There's no waiting period!"

Ohhh, hallelujah! 

I cried out of sheer relief.

So, guess what we did next? We had ourselves a home study visit, y'all! This last Monday we had a social worker come into our home and visit with us for 2.5 hours. Marci had to talk to us as a family and to Brandon and me both individually. The best part, however, was when she had to interview Brylie.

Marci said, "I should only need about 10 minutes…unless she's a talker."

"See you in 30 minutes," I joked as we headed toward the bedroom with Josiah.

We listened silently as Brylie gabbed on and on about every thought that popped into her head. Her audience was captive, and she knew it. One of the most momentous moments was when she exclaimed dramatically, "…and my favorite favorite thing to do is to lay on a blanket... (pause for effect) the sunshine," and she tilted her smiling face toward the ceiling, closed her eyes, and imagined she was actually doing just that.

I turned toward Brandon with a confused look on my face and he stared back at me with the same look of confusion. We've never laid on a blanket in the sunshine before, have we?

A few moments later Marci asked, "So, Brylie, what happens when you get in trouble?"

I'll be honest, I was a little nervous at this point. That child could say anything.

And she didn't even hesitate. "They make me sit in time-out for 20,000 HOURS!"

"Really?! That's a long time!" exclaimed the social worker.

Brylie thought. "Well…sometimes it's only about 3 minutes."

We were working pretty hard to stifle our laughter at this point. Marci was, too.

But everything went well! As long as Marci doesn't include the whole "20,000 hours" thing in her report I'm hoping we'll be good to go very soon. We're working on gathering our dossier paperwork right now so that as soon as our home study is approved we can get that enormous stack of painstakingly-gathered paperwork sent off to MOWA in Ethiopia.

I'm hesitant to get too excited, but…

I think we're possibly-maybe-finally moving forward!

this t-shirt is so on-the-money!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

josiah's story

This has been a long time coming.  Two years, to the day, in fact. Up until now (and still…now) I couldn't handle thinking too hard about the night Josiah was born much less delving deep into those memories and typing them all up. I thought they would eventually stop hurting, but now that I'm realizing they won't, I realize I've got to suck it up for the sake of remembering the good that ultimately came of it. There was a lot that I don't remember and, unfortunately, a lot I do. I'm trying to just get out everything I know from that night so this will be scattered, random, unpleasant, and graphic. 
You may find out things about me that you never wanted to know. 

28 weeks, 2 days.  nice and cozy.
So here goes…

You pee on the stick, the two pink lines show up, and you're on top of the world. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Sure, you hear the crazy stories about what happened to so-and-so's cousin or best friend from high school; but once you do a little Googling, your fears are squelched because you don't have high blood pressure or you're not carrying multiples, so you can't possibly be at risk for whatever unfortunate thing that happened to so-and-so's cousin. Sometimes, though, crazy things just happen, and they don't care if you are 100% healthy with no risk factors for anything. I think that's one of the more difficult things that I've had to wrap my mind around - that you can do everything just right and something may still go horribly, horribly wrong.

2 days before Josiah was born
Friday, July 30th, 2010

  I was 34 weeks, 5 days pregnant. We had driven to Midland    that week to sign Brandon's contract with MISD and to look for a house. After an incredibly stressful summer (seriously, the worst stress of my life up to that point) of finishing school, looking for a job, and trying to get everything situated for a move, we were excited that things were finally falling into place. That night at about 10 p.m., we said goodbye to my parents, loaded Brylie up in the car, and began the drive home to San Angelo. We talked the whole way about how relieved we were that Brandon had found a teaching job and how great it was that we had looked at some beautiful, potential homes. As sad as we were that we had to leave San Angelo, we were ready to get home, start packing, and begin a new chapter of our lives. When we arrived home, we put Brylie in bed and began packing. Before we left my parents house, my mom had warned me to not do much packing, and I agreed that I would take it easy. That night, Brandon brought me a box and said that I could pack it as long as I sat still. So, I sat on the floor and packed up dvds.  At about 2 a.m., I peeked in one last time at Brylie sleeping soundly in her room and then we headed to bed.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

At 3 a.m., I woke up to the tiniest little trickle of what I thought was amniotic fluid. I laid there for a second, thinking, "My water is breaking!" I sat up quickly, my heart pounding, and I felt a little more trickle out. "Brandon, my water is breaking!"
He turned over and sleepily asked, "What?"
I stood up and immediately felt a gush, and I mean a GUSH, of fluid run down my legs and it audibly hit the floor. I turned and reached into the closet and flipped on the light. When I looked down, I saw that I was completely covered in blood from the chest down. I stared down at the floor for a second or two because it hadn't quite registered yet that that was MY blood. It was a pool - not a small amount that hits the carpet and quickly settles in the fibers - but so much that the fibers had soaked up all they could handle and it was now a literal pool forming around me. I looked up at Brandon, hoping that maybe looking at him would jolt me awake and I would then realize this was just a dream. His face was white, his eyes were as big as saucers, and I could tell that he was terrified.
He jumped up out of bed, already crying, and asked in a choked voice, "Mari, what do we do?! The baby…oh, God, no…Josiah."

Even though I was already sure of the worst, God granted me an unbelievable sense of peace at that moment. A peace that still surpasses my understanding. I calmly replied, "We need to get to the hospital right now."
I turned and stepped into the closet to find some pants and felt another huge gush of blood. I walked to the bathroom to grab my glasses and felt more blood flow with every step. Even though it had only been 10 seconds or so by this point, I remember looking around at our bedroom floor as I stepped out into the hallway and thinking, "How can there be so much blood?" Our room was completely covered.
As Brandon grabbed Brylie up from her bed and ran to the back door, I was taking quick, but very careful, far-apart steps because every step (no matter how short) brought forth more blood. I wondered, "How can there be any left in me?"
We quickly left through the back door and I stopped to slip on my flip flops. In the 5 seconds that it then took to walk to the car my feet were covered in blood. I could feel the sticky, warm mess squishing between all of my toes. There was a towel on the floorboard that I kept in there because the leather seats got hot during the summer, so I threw it onto the seat and climbed in.
Brandon ran next door to Shawna's to see if she could keep Brylie, but saw that there were no cars in the driveway and ran back to our car just as I was getting in. (Later he mentioned how thankful he was that he hadn't wasted time banging on her door). He set Brylie in her carseat, threw it into reverse and began the one-minute drive to the hospital.

I knew Josiah was gone. I had been trying to get him to move while rushing to get out the door and he hadn't moved. I felt an overwhelming need to protect Brandon from hearing it from the doctor so I told him, "Honey, I think Josiah is gone. There is just too much blood for him to be able to survive this." He began sobbing, and I calmly picked up my phone and called my mom. "Mom, I woke up in a pool of blood. We're going to the hospital. I'm going to go ahead and call Evelyn." She told me they were on their way and that I should call Ronnie and Kati (our cousins) to come get Brylie. I hung up and immediately called our doula (who is also a family member), Evelyn.
She answered in a sleepy, but calm, deliberate Evelyn-voice, "Hellooo?"
"Evelyn…I'm covered in blood."
She answered quickly, "Ok. Get to the hospital now. I'm on my way. I'll call L&D and tell them you're coming. Do not go to the L&D entrance because those doors are locked this late at night - go to the Emergency Room entrance."
(I'm so glad she told me this. I was planning on going straight to L&D and would have wasted precious seconds trying to get into those locked doors at the back of the hospital).

As we flew into the parking lot, Brandon instructed me to get inside quickly and he would follow with Brylie after he parked the car. I slid out of the car and rushed into the E.R.; by this point every inch of my clothes were now 100% saturated in blood and sticking to me. The nurse behind the counter was an older man, who didn't quite seem to grasp the levity of the situation.
"I need to get to Labor and Delivery! They know I'm coming and they're ready for me," I said as I rushed past him and headed for the hall door.
The nurse began slowly ambling over to the stash of wheelchairs against the wall, "Ma'am, wait. How many weeks are you?"
"I'm almost 35. Please, I have to get back there now!"
At first I was grateful for the wheelchair that he brought over and made me sit in. I thought, "Okay, at least I won't be walking which means maybe I won't be gushing blood with every step." But then we began the long, painfully slow walk to L&D. I remember thinking, "On t.v. they RUN when there's an emergency!" Maybe I actually did say it. I don't remember. This is the part where I lost consciousness the first time.
A few seconds later, I woke up and Brandon and Brylie were walking alongside us. I thought, "Good grief, this guy is moving so slowly that they managed to park the car and still catch up with us?"
As we turned the corner into the Labor and Delivery Unit I could tell that it had been a slow night. One nurse was sitting behind the desk working on paperwork and the other was calmly standing by the scale waiting for me to arrive so she could weigh me. My wheelchair stopped and the nurse asked, "Okay, can you please step up onto the scale so I can get your…." she looked at me and the color drained from her face. "Nevermind."

Immediately, there was a flurry of people around me, and lots of yelling and people saying, "This momma is abrupting!" They were talking about what would become one of the most terrifying terms I had ever heard - placental abruption. I remember thinking, "What's a placental abruption?" I had read about a lot of pregnancy complications, but I must have missed this one. I passed out a lot during this time. I'm not really sure how long it lasted, but this is what I remember:
They took me into a delivery room and asked me if I could get onto the bed. At this point, I still had enough strength to do it with minimal help. A nurse took my clothes off and checked to see if I was dilated at all. She could't tell because there was so much blood gushing out; at one point another nurse asked her, "Can you tell at all?" I barely managed to get my eyes open a crack as I looked down at the nurse, Beatrice, who was checking me. She had panic on her face and tears in her eyes, and she looked up at the other nurse who had asked her the question, and shook her head "no." At least 2 other nurses tried before they decided I wasn't dilated at all. All three of them were now very much covered in blood; I remember seeing Beatrice's arm completely covered in blood almost up to her shoulder. Then came the catheter. I wish I had been unconscious when that happened, but no such luck. At the same time all of this was going on, they were trying to find Josiah's heartbeat.

They couldn't find it.

I began pleading…and I mean pleading… with them to just get him out. "Please, right here in this delivery room! Get a knife and get him out of me or HE WILL DIE!" They managed to calm me down a little…or I lost consciousness…one of the two. After a few minutes of trying they finally found a heartbeat of 60. I started sobbing, "No, God, please no…" I thought it was my heartbeat we were hearing. I was sure at that point that we had lost him…it was far too slow to be a baby's heartbeat. A nurse reassured me, "No, sweetheart, that is your baby's heartbeat." I could hear the fear in her voice as she tried to explain, "It's dangerously low and dropping by the minute. We need to get him out right now." That's when all the yelling about taking me to an O.R. began. I passed out again.
When I awoke this time, it was to the sound of Beatrice choking back tears as she held onto my arm, repeatedly trying to start an i.v. One of the others asked her what was taking so long and she snapped back at her in frustration, "Every time I go for a vein it collapses! She has NO blood left in her body!"
It was at that moment that I realized my own life was in danger. Up until this point I had only been concerned about saving Josiah; it had never before dawned on me that I might die, too.

I looked over and saw Brandon and Brylie watching everything from the corner of the room. Brylie looked confused and scared; Brandon looked like his world was crumbling down around him. I didn't want Brylie to watch her mommy die. "Get Brylie out of here! She can't see this!" I whisper-yelled toward Brandon. He nodded blankly and turned to leave the room.
As I lay there sobbing because of the looks on my husband's and daughter's faces, and because of the realization that my baby was dying, I heard someone ask me, "Mrs. Sykes, have you been using any street drugs? Cocaine or anything like that? It's okay for you to tell us the truth, we just really need to know for your baby's sake."
That was the first of 4 times throughout the next 36 hours that I would be asked that question, because no one could figure out a better explanation as to why my placenta had spontaneously torn away from my uterine wall.
They still couldn't find a viable vein. After a few more minutes of trying with smaller needles, they got one. The blood bags were ready but they couldn't yet hook one up to me or it would just go into my arm and then come right back out of my cervix. I needed surgery now.

My bed started moving. I was too weak at this point to move anything at all so when we entered the O.R. all I could do was gaze sleepily at the huge, bright, round lights above me. After preparing myself for a natural, drug-free labor, I couldn't believe that my pregnancy was about to end inside of an operating room. I heard someone ask me, "Can you scoot onto the table?" I tried. I really tried. I didn't even have the strength to get my arms in the position to push myself up. I heard someone say, "She can't. She has no strength at all." Everyone grabbed part of my sheet and I felt myself being lifted off of the bed and set gently onto the operating table.
Evelyn appeared beside my bed, and I immediately fell apart. I think it was because I wanted so desperately to think nothing bad could happen if Evelyn was there to supervise.
I heard Dr. Hajovsky say, "Let me know when I can cut."
I felt the slight sting of her blade resting on my belly and I panicked. "Evelyn, don't let her cut yet! I can still feel my toes!"
Evelyn calmly replied, "Don't worry, baby, you won't feel it."
"Please save him."
She closed her eyes and I saw tears welling up in the corners, "We're going to do everything we can."
That was when I felt a contraction.
My one, sad, pitiful contraction.

I awoke sometime later to my parents standing over my bed. My mom was stroking my hair and my dad was holding my hand. They had both been crying. I just knew that they were crying because Josiah was dead. The first thing my parents had seen when they rushed into my recovery room was a nurse standing at the head of my bed. She was squeezing bags of blood, desperate to get them to flow into me more quickly than gravity would naturally do.
I heard Evelyn come in the door and I thought she might have some news on Josiah, so I forced my eyes open. I began crying and begging them to tell me how he was doing. No one knew what to say. Mom and Dad looked at each other sadly and then at Evelyn who hesitated as she carefully chose her words, "They're doing everything they can, Mari. That's all we know right now."
Looking back, I realize I could have been devastated by that statement. But I was so desperate for the slightest bit of hope, that all I heard in Evelyn's statement was "He's not dead." He was barely hanging on, but he was alive! I began sobbing. He wasn't dead! There was hope! I threw my hands into the air and started crying out to the Lord. In my mind I was thanking him for sparing my son's life and begging him to have mercy on us and heal Josiah's body, but all that came out was, "Please, God….Please, God." I don't remember doing this, but when my dad told me about it later he described it as "a prayer like he has never heard before." I know it had to have been intense; I was begging for my son's life.

I couldn't figure out why no one else seemed to be as excited as I was that he was alive. I later found out that even though Josiah was alive at that time, he hadn't been alive at all when he was born. I just recently found his Apgar scores on some hospital paperwork, and they are terrifying. ("1" at 1 minute, "4" at 5 minutes, and "8" at 10 minutes.) Another reason everyone in my room seemed so upset was because they were having to look at me. I never even considered the fact that I was as white as my hospital bedsheets, covered in crusty blood, and unable to maintain a conversation longer than 10 seconds due to bouts of unconsciousness. That's why they were so upset. I was only concerned about my baby, but I was their baby and I was a mess.
Because of the overwhelming feeling of grief that I felt in my room, I began to suspect that everyone was lying to me in an effort to keep me calm so I wouldn't tear open my incision. I asked them repeatedly, "Are you lying to me? Is he dead? Tell me the truth! Please…just tell me."
I think it was at that point that I began pretty much demanding to see him. They kept telling me I was in no condition to go into the NICU and that he was "a very sick baby." They told me that they weren't equipped to deal with his situation in San Angelo and that they were going to have to take him to San Antonio. I was terrified that they would put him in the helicopter and he would die before I ever got a chance to see him. Apparently I got vocal enough at this point that they decided to wheel my entire, huge bed into the very cramped NICU just so that I could see that he was, in fact, alive. I don't remember much of it at all, but there are pictures of me trying to lean over so I can see Josiah and touch his hand. I'm completely white, there is blood caked all around my fingernails, and I'm crying.

Meeting our precious boy for the first time.

I remember hearing my nurse, Judy, tell me not to move too much or I'll tear my incision. She held a pillow against my belly, wrapped her arms around me, and lifted me up so I could see my baby for the first time.
What I saw lying in that bed broke my heart and gave me literal pains deep in my chest. Josiah was completely motionless, except for the short rise-and-fall of his tiny belly as the ventilator took breaths for him. The ventilator seemed huge taped to his small, sweet cheeks. He had an umbilical artery line and many more wires, tubes, and machines all over him. His arms were tied to the sides of his bed. He seemed small...far too small to be on the outside of me. I kept hearing the words, "very sick baby." I remember thinking, "He's not sick. He was just born too early." But I had no idea what was really going on inside of his tiny body.

About 5 hours after Josiah was born, I realized that he needed to eat. I asked Evelyn when I would be able to nurse him, and she told me that it would probably be a while before he was strong enough to take in any milk, but she said they would try. I still didn't realize how bad the situation was in that NICU.
She told me that chances were slim I would have milk that early or that he would be able to latch on anytime soon, so I should start pumping in order to build my supply and provide him with expressed milk in his feeding tube when he was finally able to have food. I immediately started pumping and, to everyone's surprise, actually got about 1 cc of colostrum! I handed it over to the nurse who took it to the NICU, and put just a few, tiny drops into his feeding tube. It wasn't the way I imagined my first "feeding" to go, but I'm so thankful that God provided for us in that way, too. During the night, I pumped a few more times, getting 2 cc's the second time, and 4 cc's the third time. My mom set an alarm so that I could wake up every three hours to pump. It didn't take long for me to start filling up the fridge and freezer in the NICU - he just couldn't handle much at a time. But, there was a great amount of comfort in knowing that I was ready to feed him whenever he was ready to eat. I was completely helpless when it came to his care at that point, but I knew that I could at least provide the best nourishment for him.

"One sick baby" and one very pale mommy.

My whole Saturday is a blur of random snippets of memories because it wasn't until about 8 o'clock that night that I stopped losing consciousness regularly and started gaining a little bit of my strength back. I know that I was back in my original Labor and Delivery room on Saturday, late morning sometime. My lungs hurt so badly that I could only take shallow breaths and I couldn't move my torso much at all, but I had no idea why my lungs hurt. By this point visitors were starting to trickle in. I could tell by the looks on their faces when they saw me that they hadn't heard the full extent of the story. If I had known how I looked at the time I think I wouldn't have allowed them to come in. Nevertheless, there I was, completely white, and hooked up to bags of blood and plasma, unable to even keep my eyes open long enough to acknowledge them. I remember seeing Sarah and DeLana walk in and Sarah's eyes fill with tears, then I passed out. I also remember Greg and Krislenn sitting by my bed while I tried to talk to them, but couldn't stay awake long enough to have a conversation. I weakly apologized to them after each "spell," and they managed to smile back at me despite the concern that was evident on their faces. Several times I could hear people praying over me, but I couldn't get my eyes to open. Once I even started typing a text, passed out during it, and woke up frustrated by the fact that I was right back where I started (because in my "dream" I had typed the whole thing). I think I tried to type that text 4 or 5 times before it actually happened. Mackenzie said she came up at 2 p.m., and the room was dark except for the monitors. I was completely out of it and my face was white and "scrunched up" as I begged for Josiah.

By this time I had already had several bags of blood and several more bags of plasma. A nurse came in and told me that God was definitely watching over me through the night - I had lost 60% of my blood during the whole ordeal. She said that's the most a person can lose before they die, and that I was basically in the L&D version of the ICU.  "In any other situation where this much blood is lost, you would be spending a few days in the ICU, but we can take better care of you down here since this was birth-related."

Daddy praying over his son.
That night, while propped up in my wheelchair next to Josiah's bed, I asked Evelyn, "How long will he have to be like this?" She answered, "We can't really expect too much until he reaches his due date. And even then, it might be a long journey." But we were almost 6 weeks away from his due date, and we were supposed to move to Midland that next week! I was broken-hearted. I just knew that Brandon was going to have to move alone, Josiah would be stuck in the hospital all that time, and Brylie…where would she go?

On Saturday night, I was told that I needed to try to get up and walk a little. I was completely taken aback by this request seeing as I could barely hold my head up, but I was ready to get better so that I could be strong for Josiah. Up until now, I still hadn't given much thought to my apparently "violent" c-section. I knew it hadn't been pretty, but I was still on the good drugs so I hadn't felt it much. When Judy began helping me get out of bed so that I could walk to the shower, I realized just how horrible my c-section had been. Evelyn later told me, "There was no time to be gentle, baby. She just cut and pushed all of your organs out of the way in order to get to Josiah." Well, that explains the aching lungs, I thought.

More praying.
The shower was awful for a number of reasons. First, I couldn't stand up straight because of all of the abdominal pain. Secondly, there was dried blood everywhere. Under my fingernails, matted all throughout my hair, all over my legs and feet. Finally, hospitals don't have shampoo and conditioner. They only have a very non-moisturizing liquid soap. And my hair sure did get washed with that ridiculous soap. I couldn't even get a comb through it. But, at least the last of the blood was gone. I settled back in bed for a long night of pumping and visiting Josiah.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

 On Sunday, my dad and the Fustons decided to clean up our house. They wanted to see how much damage the blood was going to do to the carpet and other flooring, and hopefully try to salvage a few things. My dad later told my mom that our house looked like a murder scene. There was blood absolutely everywhere. I had even somehow managed to get blood on my wedding dress, which was hanging in the very back of my closet. They had been told that most of the blood would come out of the carpet with peroxide, and they got some strange looks from the store clerk when they paid for the carpet cleaner and a full case of peroxide.

Sunday was my first fully-coherent day. I woke up in some crazy pain, but I was officially ready to start the recovery process. They moved me into a recovery room that morning and Dr. Hajovsky came in while I was pumping to check my incision and remove my staples. "You're already going to remove them? It's only been one day! What if I'm not healed enough and I flap open?" I asked half-jokingly. She chuckled but told me they needed to come out before the skin started healing over the staples. After she said that, I was more than ready for those staples to come out. I wasn't, however, ready for her to start laying down my bed while I was pumping. The force of the pump is not stronger than gravity. Milk everywhere. It was pretty comical. She asked me if I wanted to look at the incision and I said, "Nope." She replied, "But I do pretty good work." "I know," I said, "and I could look if it was on someone else's body but I just can't handle it being on me yet." It was a good 2 weeks before I ended up looking. My incision was a little crooked on one side, but for being such a quick procedure, she did a great job. I can happily live with it.
No more ventilator!

Starting that morning I went into the NICU to pump. Sitting next to my sweet boy, staring at him, and imagining what it would be like to hold him did wonders for my milk supply. I hated that most of my milk was going into the fridge, though. After a few days of that, I started having to freeze it because I was filling up the fridge and he still was taking in just 3-5 cc's every few hours.
On Saturday night we were told that he would have to be on the ventilator for at least a week, but on Sunday they removed it! His oxygen levels still weren't the best, but they determined that he might be able to breathe on his own, so they slowly weaned him off of the ventilator and, lo and behold, he could breathe! Not well, but at least his lungs were functioning. He had to stay on a steady flow of oxygen and his umbilical artery line had to stay in place.

A big blur of the next 10 days…

The NICU nurses changed shifts at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. so they preferred for the mommas to not go in and out of the NICU from 6:30-7 so that the old nurses could brief the new nurses. I, however, did not like to be away from Josiah so I would make sure that I was in the NICU well before 6:00 (if I even left at all) so that I wouldn't get the boot during the nurse updates. Also, if I was behind the privacy curtain they wouldn't lower their voices so I got to hear what was really going on with Josiah medically and not all of the fluffy stuff that they tell moms to keep us from panicking.

My first time to hold my son.
My first diaper change.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

 They gradually upped Josiah's milk amount, and it wasn't long before he was able to handle 10 cc's at a time. One of the nurses wasn't so nice and didn't seem to care that I was, at this point, a basketcase who cried very, very easily. After I told the nurses that I had plenty of milk in the fridge and that I did not want him having any formula, she said gruffly, "Look, if he needs formula I'm going to give him formula." All of the other nurses were fantastic and very sensitive toward me.  I was in the NICU when they changed his sheets on day 3, so they asked if I wanted to hold him while they did that. I couldn't believe I was finally going to get to hold my boy! Because of all the wires I could only lift him up off the bed, I couldn't bring him to me, but I was so desperate for contact with him that I was elated! I even got to change his diaper!

First time to nurse!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I was told that I could try to nurse him. I cannot even begin to say how joyous a moment this was for me. Throughout this pregnancy I had had all the plans for how Josiah's birth would be different than Brylie's. One of my plans was for the doctor to give him to me immediately after birth to nurse him. Of course, all of my "birth plans" had gone out the window the second my placental abruption began, but I was thrilled that they finally felt he was strong enough to nurse. To me, this was the start of his recovery. I held him closely and he nuzzled up against me, but it took him about 30 minutes to figure it out. Because it had taken Brylie a full week to catch on, I was prepared for Josiah to take at least as long, but he got it pretty quickly….and he even had to learn how to nurse with a feeding tube still down his throat! (ouch, by the way). I was told that because he was so weak he could nurse once every shift (12 hours), but he caught on so quickly and his health started improving so dramatically that they told me I could nurse on demand from then on.
Loving on my little guy.

I was discharged on August 4th, but since I was nursing him they let me stay in an empty L&D room so that I could be there for him for every feeding. I spent pretty much all day long by his bed, but at night I would go back to my room and sleep for two hours at a time, until my phone rang and the NICU nurse sweetly said, "Josiah is ready for you!" I was beyond exhausted, but every time that phone woke me up I would jump up and excitedly rush down the hallway to the NICU to see my precious boy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

They lowered his oxygen flow to see how he did. His oxygen levels stayed pretty elevated so they let it flow at about 80%. Carrie, one of the most phenomenal NICU nurses in the world, came behind the curtain and whispered, "We're not using that feeding tube anymore, so let's just slip it out and see if he nurses more comfortably." Because the order hadn't been given to remove it completely she had to leave it taped onto his chin, but he was officially feeding tube-free!

The next few days were both wonderful and stressful. Brandon had to be in Midland to start his new job, we still hadn't packed up our house, I was a matron of honor in a wedding, and I couldn't leave the hospital for longer than an hour or so at a time. My mom (God bless her) had taken on the job of both caring for Brylie and packing up our entire house so that we could move to Midland as soon as Josiah was discharged. I was also getting  calls from our realtor during these days as we negotiated on our new home. There was a lot going on.
But, our son was alive. Every time I would start to process the horror of what had happened to us, I would just become overwhelmed with joy because he was alive.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just ten days after Josiah lifelessly entered the world, the NICU doctor and nurses decided he was ready to go home. It had only been nine days since I had been told he would be there at least another 6 weeks. As we were putting his car seat into the car I looked up at the second floor toward my OBGYN's office and realized that we were supposed to have had a prenatal check-up that day. After all, he was not supposed to be here for another 4 weeks. But he was here, he was healthy, and now, he was going home.

It's taken a long time to work through the events of July 31, 2010. I still don't think that I'm completely "over it"…whatever that means, but I've learned that I can't hide behind the story anymore. For so long it was easy to talk about because I just pretended like it hadn't happened to me. I told the story as if it was one that I had seen on t.v. or something, and I rarely allowed my true emotions to show. I think I'm  good now, and Brandon is, too. He still doesn't like to talk about it, though. And Brylie had a few "fear" issues that came up as a result of her inability to make sense of the events of that night, but she seems to be over it now.

But, best of all, Josiah is now a completely healthy, happy two-year-old boy. He adds so much joy to our family and our lives. I truly can't imagine life without him.

It's still hard to believe the name Brandon and I chose for our first son 8 years ago when we were just dating has already been fulfilled in his life.

Josiah - "The Lord Saves."

He does, indeed.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy.  Yours is truly a life worth celebrating,

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I can think of no better way to get these random thoughts to mesh together into a somewhat cohesive-sounding post than to use…you guessed it, bullets.
Here goes.

  • We sent off our fingerprints to the FBI to run our criminal history checks on January 11th because they told us it would take 12-14 weeks to get them back. We got them back January 24th. What is this insanity? Something that is actually happening smoothly and quickly?!
  • Brandon is quickly transitioning between two jobs right now so that puts off our home study for just a few weeks. It's definitely for the best, so no biggie. What's a few weeks when you're looking at a 24-month-long "big picture?"
  • Brylie is convinced that she is going to get a little sister named "Africa." It's so darn cute to hear her talk about it that I don't have the heart to tell her that we simply cannot name our child that.
  • AGCI is changing up a few things so we've been assigned a new caseworker. I can already tell that I heart Soojin. She's going to be with us for the long haul, so how happy am I that she's awesome!?
  • Still trudging along with the paperwork…it's madness, I tell you.
  • Finished our online adoption education courses! There was lots of information about, well, a lot. Including common infectious skin diseases in orphanages. Like, a lot of information on this. Too much, perhaps. (Praying against that junk for our baby - and ALL babies). Sheesh.
  • We should be getting closer to having a t-shirt design soon! I'm hoping we can get this done pretty quickly since we have to write the Ethiopian government a big, fat check in June. As soon as we get things set up we can start pre-orders

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the ups and the downs.

I've been seriously fighting the urge to write a whiney post. Maybe that's why there's been 0 activity on here in two weeks - right now I am seriously overwhelmed and, well, whiney. Finally I remembered that we started this blog in order to document the ups and the downs so *sigh*…here goes. 

For the last few weeks we've been working like crazy people to get this home study paperwork done.  Order this, sign that, print this, go here, get that, notarize EVERYTHING. It seems never-ending. And this is supposed to be the easiest part of the whole deal?? Oh mylanta. 
And to top it all off, the only thing I seemed to be able to get done quickly and have almost complete control over is now royally out of control. I ordered 12 birth certificates total (3 for each of us) and, get this…

my NAME is misspelled. 
On every last one of 'em. 

And for the life of me I cannot get anyone to answer the phone at Austin Vital Records so that they can print me up a few new ones. I've now spent 5+ hours on the phone trying to get through and calling a few other places (including the agency from whom I placed the order who assured me that they can do nothing and wonders, "Are you sure that that's not just how your name is spelled and you've been misspelling it for 26 years?").  I am resorting to the only thing I know to do now. Cry. And tomorrow, when I call all of those numbers again the first unlucky soul to answer the phone will be bombarded with the only thing I have left - a good, hard sob. 
Poor guy. Or girl. Preferably a guy…and we all know why.

On a brighter note, here's Brandon drawing a picture of what he thinks our baby will look like. 
We had to do this for one of our adoption education courses.

I would post the picture of the final product but it's really pretty comical. 
(think: football player shoulders on a baby girl.)

hmm, maybe I will post it. :)