Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Joy, The Fear, The Love

As you know Little Miss Bristol Nicole Smith was born on Saturday June 22nd at 0821. Weighing in at 8lbs 6oz, no other measurements were taken because she had some issues, but I'll get there! I'm getting a lot of so what happened so I figured I'd share our birth story!

Thursday the 20th I had my Pre-Op/38 week appointment, I had her check my progress and was disappointed to hear that I hadn't changed from my 36 week appointment. I only had to wait 5 more days so I just kept telling myself to be positive since the end was so close! Zack was on his final 3 days of work before going on leave and I was just hanging out with Sawyer enjoying my last few moments with one child. Friday night was like any other night we went to bed early so Zack could get up for work, I woke up around 2am (my usual hunger pain time). What woke me was a really strange feeling, Bristol was shaking in my belly, she didn't do it long but it was an odd sensation. Not 5 minuets after I woke up as I was walking to the kitchen I had my first contraction. Now it hurt, made me stop in my tracks but it wasn't super long. The contractions kept coming about every 4-5 mins and I decided since Zack only had 1 more 8hr shift the next day that I would drink some water and take a bath maybe that would relax my body and stop what I thought were Braxton Hicks. By this time its 3:30am and they weren't stopping, I was too uncomfortable to lay down so I paced. I made hot laps around the kitchen and to the bedroom and back. After 2 hours of constant 3-5min apart contractions I thought I would wake Zack up and ask him if he thought we should go in, I was still in denial I was in labor! I tried a shower to see if that would help me relax, of course it didn't. At this point I felt the urge to pee every 10min or so and finally lost my mucus plug around 4:45. At that point I told Zack this might be the real deal. He kept asking if he should call work since he was supposed to be there at 6:30, and I kept saying "No, they will stop". Around 5:15 Zack convinced me to call MSU to see if I should go in to get checked, I hadn't felt Bristol move since she woke me up at 2 but when your contracting and it hurts so bad I only felt the contractions and thought maybe I was just missing the kicks or something. About 5:30 the on-call doctor asked if I could come in so they could at least check me and the baby out. I asked Zack to call his supervisor. Thankfully one of my friends was up and asked if I needed help so I was able to get Sawyer covered. With Zack in uniform, ready to head to work if it was a false alarm, and hospital bag in tow we headed over to the Hospital around 6.

Once they got me wheeled up to MSU and I was hooked up to the monitors they wasted no time in checking me. I was contracting every 2 minuets at this point. Zack was very supportive and just kept giving me encouragement at the same time joking around to try and relieve some of my pain. What the nurse then told me shocked me "You are about a 3, let me go call the doctor". Now with Sawyer I was dilated to 4 for 3+ weeks, so the fact that I was making progress with steady contractions shocked both Zack and I. The look on Zack's face after what came next was priceless. Dr. Small came into the room and said, "Well your in active labor, looks like I'll get the team rolling and we will have a baby in a few hours".

The next two hours consisted of needle pokes, IV's, questions, more questions, and excitement/nerves. Zack scrubbed up and I was ready to roll, I was more than ready because I wanted the pain meds as the contractions were not easing up and they were starting to make me shake cause they hurt so bad! Around 8 they rolled me back into the OR to welcome Bristol!

The OR was a crazy experience. I was wide awake just checking things out while they prepped me. The anesthesiologist was super nice and excellent, I was a little nervous that just a shot in my spine would do the trick but it was way better than an epidural! All the doctors and nurses were joking around with me and helping me through the contractions. Then it came time, I was numb, draped, and they brought Zack in. I could feel the odd pressure of him tugging but no pain as we just waited to her that first cry. With Sawyer I was so drugged I barely remember his first cry, but this time around at 0821 it was the most beautiful sound ever, I instantly cried. They announced it was a girl and began cleaning her as she keep screaming. Dr. Small made a comment that I had a lot of meconium in my fluid but just kept doing his thing to get me back together. He also doesn't pull out the uterus like some doctors do, he leaves all your insides in there and works inside you which is supposed to increase healing time. Zack cut the cord and held Bristol up to meet me, her color still very grey. The nurses and Zack took her up to the L&D room to get measurements and all that jazz while they closed me. Yokota doesn't have a nursery so everything in done in the L&D room.  I was joking with the doctors and everyone was having a fun time. I was so excited to get back and hold my baby girl, but what came next was yet another of the scariest times as a parent.

The instant my bed turned the corner I knew something was wrong. There was 3 people hovered over her whispering and Zack was behind them just staring. I instantly said "What is Wrong with her, What is going on?" and all Zack could do was shrug. Panic set in, my mommy instinct wanted nothing more than to take away all her pain. I could tell she was struggling to breath and was worn out. The pediatrician started telling people to get her prepped for transport and had a translator start finding a NICU that would accept her. What seemed like hours of watching my baby girl struggle to puke up black stuff and breath was torture, I cried held Zack's hand and felt crushed. Zack just kept telling me it would be ok and she was a fighter. After they got her sedated and got her breathing tubes, IV, X-ray's and other tubes in the pediatrician was able to tell us what was going on... Bristol had swallowed tons of Meconium but it was not only in her stomach but sucked into her lungs. The pediatrician was concerned she may be suffering from Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, which can lead to pneumonia, sepsis, and other infections. I felt like I had done something wrong, was there warning signs I missed, could I have stopped it?

Sedated before leaving Yokota

Sweet Little Girl Fighting So Hard

The Transport Crew

Zack worked with the translator on getting the information of the hospital information and I just stared at our little fighter. Dr. Small, Dr. Bolte? (anesthesiologist) never left the room, they were right by Bristol and I's side the entire time. The support from the Yokota team was amazing. I didn't want Zack to leave Bristol's side and he didn't. He went with her to the NICU while I laid at Yokota worrying about my baby. Even after they took her the Doctors stayed to comfort me and explain there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. They asked if I wanted anxiety meds or sleeping meds but I declined because I wanted to be fully aware if Zack called me. I couldn't sleep, I just laid there and prayed. I learned that the Yokota Team (1 pediatrician, 1 nurse, and 1 tech) worked with the translator and the staff of Tachikawa Hospital running test to get a diagnosis. The ambulance drivers stayed with Zack in the waiting room, I knew at this point our Baby was getting the best care she could. I got the text that they were headed back in the afternoon.

Dr. Speakman the pediatrician got to my room before Zack did. She said that Bristol's tests showed that she did have MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome) and that the next 48hrs were crucial. She had been given an antibiotic to fight any infection that could of already started but she would need to remain on a ventilator to assist her breathing until she could maintain her pulse/ox on her own, without the ventilator her pulse/ox wouldn't go above 60. Zack was able to get pictures of her settled into the NICU and insured me that she was getting great care. We were told since it was a Saturday that on Monday they would have a conference with both hospitals and a translator to let us know what was going on. They had our cell phone numbers and said if anything went wrong they would call us, so it was like waiting on pins and needles praying your cell phone never rang!

Now I hate the waiting game, especially when the health and wellness of my family is at stake. I pushed hard on Saturday to get recovered, the doctors wanted me out Sunday morning so I could go see her, but my body was not ready to be released 24hours after surgery. I was in too much physical pain and knew if they released me I would not heal well or hurt myself. I made the decision to stay another day to heal more before being released. Zack went to visit Bristol, took pictures and gave me the best update possible. It was hard knowing she was a day old and hadn't really seen her Mommy, but Zack told her I was thinking of her and love her!

I worked hard on getting out of bed, walking and paced myself. Once I got my pain managed I knew I was good to be released! Monday morning was emotionally hard. We had been told that a rumor was already going around the nurses that she was no longer on her breathing tubes which I never heard other than them coming to tell me it wasn't true. With Yokota being such a small hospital and it was the weekend everyone kind of knew our situation. I was happy to be coming home to my boys but felt like a piece of me was missing leaving with Bristol. I felt like we got the pity stares as we left but nothing was bringing me down since I was getting to visit my Little Bug for the first time since she was born!

I came home showered, got make up on and started feeling a bit more human. Once we got to Tachikawa Hospital it was overwhelming. Everything is in Japanese, we were the ONLY Americans, but I didn't care knowing that I was under the same roof as her was a relief. We watched the clock since NICU visiting hours are only 1300-1500, at 1259 we made our way to the door. I scrubbed up, gowned up, got my slippers on and followed the lady til I saw our chubby little American Baby! That hour of my life will be cherished forever- my body was tired of sitting and sore so I could only last an hour but she knows she is loved. The NICU nurse used very broken English but enough to tell us no more ventilator and they were feeding her formula. I just sat and stared at her, told her stories and touched her. Then as we were leaving she took our first picture together.
Just Missing Sawyer to make it a complete Smith Family Picture!

As soon as we got home we got the news from the conference! Bristol is breathing on her own keeping her stats up, she is eating, and after she finishes her antibiotics on the 26th they can release her. Now Yokota has a rule that after a baby is release from a NICU off base they must be evaluated on base for 1-2 nights. So as of now Bristol is set to come to base tomorrow, where I will stay with her and we can hopefully bring her home Friday at the latest!

I am truly blessed and amazed at the support that we have here! Its not easy having a toddler to worry about with this and I don't want him feeling left out or pushed to the side but we have amazing friends here who have stepped in. Zack has also done an amazing job spitting his time between Sawyer, myself and Bristol! I couldn't ask for a better husband and father to my children!

Time to rest up before our visit with Bristol today. Until next time...


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Can ALMOST Count the Days on 1 Hand

I sit here 6 days before scheduled Cesarean (Yes, I declined a VBAC) with excitement, joy, nerves, and contractions! I've had some time to reflect the last couple days and just wanted a place to put my thoughts so here it goes...

2010- Zack and I get married.
2011- We welcomed Sawyer.
2012- We move to Japan.
2013- We are welcoming our Second Child!

Four BIG years in my life, I went from skipping class, quitting school, partying in Chico all the time to being married with a family living in another country. We were married in March and instantly knew we'd have a family some day, after four months we decided to try to start our family. I remember the day we found out we were expecting with Sawyer, I was at work and instead of telling Zack in person I called him- still wish I would of done something more spectacular but I was in shock and excited! Nine months of "preparing" yet the day that you welcome that first baby you are never truly prepared! Parts of the day we welcomed Sawyer I can't recall, the emergency C-Section and craziness makes things blur together but others like holding him for the first time I will never forget! Parenthood made us grow as a couple and individually, it wasn't easy but becoming a parent is one of my greatest accomplishments in life. Each day you are challenged and have so many decisions to make not only for yourself but for your child! There are many days when you are tested and you think you are going insane but I wouldn't change it for the world.

The decision to expand our family again wasn't hard, we knew we didn't just want one child. Unlike with the first time it didn't happen right away, I started to get impatient wondering if maybe something was off. Zack just kept saying it will happen when the time is right. After 4 months I felt off, not wanting to get my hopes up I decided to take a test anyways. What I read I wasn't sure, the line was faint so I waited a few days and took another yet again a faint line. I knew that it meant I should call and get an official test! I brought Zack out the test and he was in a small state of shock. I did the whole blood test and wait game, the call came in at 4:40pm just as I thought the lab had forgotten about me...Positive! Even though as a couple you were trying that moment of "Is this really happening?" crosses your mind.

My Kryptonite for the first few months! 

The first trimester was wonderful HELL. I lost 15 pounds, I was so sick, the only thing I could eat was white bagels and Bagelfuls. It made the holidays really interesting and frustrating as well cause I never wanted to leave the house. Here you aren't seen until week 12 for your first visit where I welcomed a nausea cocktail prescription and was able to finally eat and leave the house without feeling like death. This pregnancy was completely opposite of my Sawyer Pregnancy, which has been the case the entire time! I don't feel like I ever got the glow this go around, unless by a glow radiates when your tired all the time and have so many aches and pains! Chasing a toddler around while growing a human is hard work!!! We debated on what we thought we were having: I was Team Blue and Zack was Team Pink. We started our list of names but I knew once we started that it was a girl because NONE of the boys names appealed to me and I found myself neck deep in baby name sites only looking at girl names. In February we got our ONLY ultrasound that the Air Force gives you besides your initial one to get your due date, to find out Zack was right- we'd welcome a Baby Girl in June! 

The second trimester brought much more energy and my appetite! Since before we moved to Japan I had lost almost 50lbs I was determined to not gain another 70 like I did with Sawyer. Once I started feeling better I tried to walk at least 2 miles a day. Well again my body decided to plot against me I developed a hernia and I started having back, hip, and pelvis issues, halting my workout/walking routine. I was able to walk at least every other day for about 6 weeks though which helped with the cravings of nothing but sweets! With only seeing the doctor every 6 weeks things went as good as they could, this whole military hospital OB care has been a crazy experience in itself!

On one of our walks

The third trimester seemed to just sneak up, then before you know it instead of counting down the months your counting weeks cause it makes it seem like it goes faster, now its down to days.
This time around I procrastinated, figured we had time. Zack moved his music equipment and got the crib all set up and kept encouraging me to get in the baby's room and get it together. Since we had one kid already I figured we knew what to expect and that prepping for another baby would be no worries. Well mid-May I realized I needed to get my butt in some serious gear! Throughout the pregnancy we had been receiving packages with outfits, shoes, the girly stuff (Still holding onto hope that the ONE ultrasound you are given here was correct!) and I slowly picked up random items we would need. A friend stationed in Germany sent a huge box of clothes as well so we weren't too concerned with clothes. Since we didn't have a baby shower this time around we aren't as stocked with diapers but I've come to the conclusion that as for material things we are ready, might have scrambled the last two weeks but we got all the essentials. This last weekend I did all the baby laundry and Zack put together the bouncer and set up the pack n play, we are just missing our little girl!
With the newborn stage I remember being tired and lots of naps when Sawyer would nap, I was able to stay home for 8 weeks after his birth before returning to work Full-Time. This time around I don't get time off from my job, Zack gets a couple weeks off so he can help during recovery but my place of work surrounds me all the time! I'm excited to experience things I missed daily while Sawyer was at day care, never pictured myself being a stay at home Mom but I do like it. I also didn't breastfeed Sawyer - he had some serious latching issues so I pumped exclusively for 5 weeks before throwing in the towel and switching to formula. So this time around I had the thought of trying it, well the closer we got I had second thoughts about trying. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone and after much thought I have decided against it this go around as well. Sawyer was a formula baby and is smart so I think Bristol will be just fine, if you feel the need to know my reasons feel free to ask me but don't judge me- I don't tell you how to raise your kids so I don't need you telling me how to raise mine.
The transition from 1 child to 2 children is slightly frightening to me still. I worry about how Sawyer will feel when he doesn't get 105% of the attention at all times (Let's admit I have a SERIOUS Mama's Boy on my hands!). He points and tells me what is Bristol's, he talks to my belly, kisses my belly and loves to look/touch other peoples babies. I think he will be a great big brother, we plan on making special One on One time for him with each parent and including him in helping with Baby Sister. We are in no way professional parents who know everything but I am very confident in our ability to raise smart, respectful, good looking children!

With any luck maybe she will come a little early or she might be as stubborn as her brother and hang out until our surgery day. Being away from family for this has been hard but the Yokota Family we have gained it amazing. Until next time....


My Pregnancy Journey Pics...


38 weeks (forgot to do the 37week pic)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Away From the Hustle and Bustle

There are days when I miss life away from the city. I miss the green trees and peace you feel when nature surrounds you, I've never been a concrete jungle kind of gal, all the people and traffic just start to get to you and start rubbing you the wrong way! Zack has been asking what we can do away from the city so I broke out a magazine that was given to us when we first arrived, if you live around Yokota I suggest checking this one out:
"Visit the Tokyo's oasis where you can explore the nature and history"
My plan is to eventually check out the 9 other highlighted villages/cities/towns. But with being 7-8 months pregnant we have had to avoid the hikes and some activities listed until after the Baby is here, with all my back and hip issues Zack was just looking out for me! But we got the Boba 3G carrier ordered and plan on getting this family out into the outdoors more! 

After thumbing through and having a few options shut down we decided to head up to the Okutama Lake and get a feel for the area. Once Zack saw the map he was sold, he's been wanting to go driving and find "fun roads", thank goodness no one in our family gets car sick!!!

That yellow road in the bottom left hand corner is no joke.
Probably one of the most twisty roads I've been on!
The first trip we made up to the area was a Saturday, we had no agenda other than to get away from base. Not 30min into the drive we were ecstatic to leave city behind and wind through little mountain towns that are so peaceful. Here are just a few pictures from our first trip, we didn't get out of the car it was mostly a scouting adventure and Sawyer napped almost the whole time!
 I was in LOVE with the area the second we left all the traffic lights behind.
 I could spend every weekend up here!

View of Okutama-ko Lake from the road

Just one of a few awesome bridges along the drive

Little area of Vendors near the restroom stop!
(Learned from our second trip up here they must only be open on weekends)

Not everyday you see a Ferrari Testarossa
After that short drive we knew that it would be an area we would frequent. Two weeks after our first visit to the area we went back, on a mission to check out the Dam. We picked up lunch from the commissary and headed toward the trees and water to enjoy a nice family day! There are many picnic areas at Ogouchi Dam, we didn't know until later so we just plopped down at a table under the wisteria near the parking lot.
The family eating lunch
These Crazy Caterpillars were EVERYWHERE!!!

 Once our bellies were nice and full we decided to explore the area and walk as far and as long as my pregnant body allowed! We walked all the way across the dam where we found a second set of picnic tables. We also discovered walking trails and paths along the other side of the lake. The rain started to blow in so we made our way back to the car to drive up the mountain a ways to see what kind of view we could find.

The Boys checking out the sites.
(Yes, Zack had a tight grip on Sawyer's ankles!)

Walking Trail around the lake I want to do one day!
Looks like a nice easy path!
Zack exploring with Sawyer, this path goes up a small Mountain!
The other picnic area across the dam
Sawyer running across the dam.
We drove around the lake and turned to go up. (The yellow road in the map picture above), We finally found a pull off at a spot that was 993m (3258 feet) from sea level and the road still kept climbing but we decided to turn around and will leave more for later!
Sawyer checking out the view,
Those buildings at the edge of the lake is the dam where we were.
Sawyer standing by the sign :)
Me and My Love
We have really just seen the tip of the iceberg up there and plan on exploring way more. There is also Okutama Town which we have yet to poke around in. With caverns, waterfalls, shrines, camping areas, and many hikes we have grown to love an area that will occupy many days off as a family of four! I look forward to watching the seasons change and seeing how the area differs during different seasons. Until our next adventure...