Friday, December 19, 2014

The Arrival

So, all that about not being induced on the 2nd and getting back on the work schedule...scratch that! I started writing this from my bed in L&D on the morning of the December 2 while waiting for them to come start an IV in me and check me. I have had some (understatement) interruptions and finally am finishing this lengthy post now. This is the story of how Lily Charkie was born!

Her due date was December 23 but they had been doing frequent monitoring since she was estimated to be small for her age (IUGR) starting at 29 weeks (now 37 weeks). So why would they choose to induce me early when they knew she was small? Basically, the doctors decided it would be best because of some signs that show she may have had to work extra hard to get the blood supply etc. that she needs in utero, causing her to be small.

Medical terminology ahead to explain those signs: at my NST/bio Tuesday after work the doctor had  her growth re-measured (per abdominal circumference) since he thought it was strange for her to be 9th then 3rd then all of a sudden 11th %tile and I don't know the weight/%tile estimate from that day but he said it was almost a month behind and looked smaller than last week actually (possibly human error but still), there was also what could have been a late decel on the NST, also my SBP was up to nearly 130 and had been slowly trending up the last weeks (usually was in the 100-110s), also there had been a couple times previously that they saw borderline brain sparing effect, and then today they looked at the dopplers of my uterine arteries and the dopplers showed notches. I had never heard of the uterine artery thing before but apparently sometimes even if those blood vessels work fine when your not pregnant they don't necessarily adapt well to supplying a uterus during pregnancy and you can tell by the notches in the Doppler (if you're still following, feel free to google scholarly articles r/t "umbilical artery Doppler and IUGR" with me). Another reason to not wait was that I had already gotten steroid shots a while back to boost her lung surfactant development so she'd be more prepared whenever she arrived.

In L&D, hooked up to Pitocin was the perfect time to wonder at how unprepared I was- I didn't have the hospital bag in the car, I had come to the hospital to work overnight, go to a quick routine appointment, and then go home and shower and spend the next 4 days off setting up the pack-n-play, watching labor tip videos on youtube, sleeping, and eating a bunch. That wouldn't have been very spontaneous though so as it was was probably better for me :)

Hooked up to Pitocin was also the perfect time to just rest and doze since I had worked all night while the drip worked its magic on my uterine muscle. Zeke was there putting the final touches on a final paper for one of his grad classes as I napped and we just took it easy while we could! The contractions didn't bother me much but it wasn't the easiest to sleep when I kept thinking about what the next day or so would all hold!

Around 7pm was shift change. I was 3 cm dilated and my nurse took the time to explain the process of getting an epidural just in case I should later decide that I do want it (thanks, no thanks). Being on bed rest gave me the opportunity to get the full patient experience: bed pans, annoyingly large hospital gowns, plastic pillows, wanting but not wanting to use the call light and/or asking for more ice chips, just wanting to sleep but them doing an assessment, having monitors and an IV drip hooked up at all times... At 9:28 my mom texted me "looks like a 12-3 birthday" and I couldn't have imagined differently based on how I was feeling at the time.

I come from a family of mothers who give birth quickly, a trait I am now very thankful for! Knowing this means I probably should've called my nurse and my husband (at class presenting that final paper) as soon as I felt the contractions change from simply uncomfortable to actually painful. Even so, it wouldn't have changed the outcome since minutes after the change there were about 15 people in the room watching the monitor and guiding me through pushes. Even though I hadn't used my call light, my nurse and the resident decided to check on me just then (a little after 10pm?) and were thinking about calling my doctor to see if he wanted them to check my cervix again or what. While they were at the bedside I was feeling like I might have to use the bedpan again along with the pain with the contractions that stuck around between the contractions. They didn't end up having to check my cervix or get the bedpan because her head was visibly crowning and those feelings were just the urge to push! They asked if I could just breathe through the contractions and not push yet: sure, I didn't see why not haha oh wait nope nope nope it was inevitable. One set of pushing- ouch! Are we sure I should be doing this before Zeke's here? Is anything coming? No?!?! Second set- ouchhhh, ok! I could tell that was her head! Phew! Third set- the rest! Woah! I just had a baby!
That was 10:28, an hour before I was wondering when the next morning she might arrive. They cut the cord, assessed her over at the incubator (apparently the pediatrician got there at some point along with the rest of the swarm of whoever was on staff- my own OB stopped by after the fact and said hi more or less), I passed the placenta (fourth push- I was glad I had learned about the fourth stage of labor or that would've been an unpleasant surprise), and they stitched up where I tore (the hospitalist guiding the resident through it, gotta learn on some patient!).

Then there was the fuzzy period of disbelief and wonder and surprise and who knows what else while waiting to hold her, waiting for them to finish the stitches, and waiting for Zeke to arrive. It made the time once Zeke got there and I got to hold her a seem clear in comparison. She was splotchy but perfectly beautiful, totally her own unique being, with a name but never have had been called by it, tiny and new! 18.5" long and only 4 lb, 14 oz. but wonderfully healthy with APGARs of 9 and 9 and a head full of beautiful dark hair, and us becoming a thing that is the three of us not simply a couple anymore.

I can't really relate to (nor want to relate to) those horror stories of long, drawn-out, excruciatingly painful labors where even epidurals barely help. One more thing of many to be thankful for! And for being so small and on the early side she could've had so many different health issues but we went to postpartum that night with her, she didn't need fluids or to be under lights or anything. That first 36+ hours with her in the hospital were full of snuggles, feedings, assessments (temperature and blood sugar for her, blood pressure for me), tests (hearing test, car seat apnea monitoring), visits from doctors, lactation consultants, nurses, and some friends. They did monitor her blood sugars for the first 24 hours so there was some extra pressure to get her to eat plenty. Most feeding attempts were successful but some were more frustrating: spending an hour trying to wake her enough to eat before they re-checked her sugar but just tiring her more and her not eating until later. The only other "issues" were a slightly elevated bilirubin level and a touch of jaundice in her face that cleared up on its own and a hip click that they will follow up on at 6 weeks to see if it's actually a problem.

We are so thankful to be able to hold Lily Charkie in our arms and have her home with us. So thankful for all the support we've received- from baby showers before to meals and visits and preemie clothes now and the reassuring and encouraging words of experienced parents to the countless prayers from so many. Thankful for insurance, for maternity leave, and for flexibility in Zeke's work schedule right now. Thankful for poopy diapers and for her just wanting to be held. Thankful for a safe comfortable place to live and for an even more-so place to move to shortly. Thankful that even though we welcome our daughter into a fallen world with some pretty messed up stuff going on that she is held in the sovereign hand of God and we're thankful for the hope that she will be a reflection of the light of life to the world!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

scratch that

Reset the timer, the bun's staying in the oven a bit longer!

Estimated weight of less than 10th percentile is considered IUGR. In one month our baby grew to be ranked in the 11th percentile from being less than third- what did you do in the last month?

^ these are good numbers

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


...weeks pregnant! I can still see my toes, my ankles are typically their usual size, and in most ways I've been feeling physically pretty normal but am thinking I may have felt my first Braxton Hicks yesterday!

I've honestly been enjoying being pregnant-emotional lability aside-getting to feel her squirms and kicks, watching her progress with an exciting goal ahead, and starting to join the world of moms (who tend to be pretty cool people).
Other perks include:
-not having to lift/push/pull patients at work (though sometimes it's just as annoying to find someone else to help)
-shopping for things that other people buy (a lot of amazon and pinterest action and a lot a lot of huge blessings from family and friends, we feel very supported!)
-not worrying if your stomach is sticking out too much in that shirt (it is and it's fine)
-doors opened and seats given by kind strangers (though usually it takes me half a second to realize why they're being so courteous)
-getting to eat food a lot (yum)

At 35 weeks though it may be that I only have 2 more weeks of being pregnant. For the last six weeks on Tuesdays and Fridays I've been going for a weekly ultrasound and twice-weekly non-stress tests (NST) on top of my normal doctor's appointments to monitor her health since she is measuring smaller than normal. At 32 weeks she was estimated to be <3rd %tile size-wise but all the weekly/twice-weekly testing has been normal and showing that she's healthy. Despite her still looking healthy, with IUGR babies it's typically best to deliver around 37 weeks if she's still small. That's about two weeks from now!

That leaves us at one more doctor's appointment and NST, one more growth ultrasound and NST, another NST, and then going into the hospital. Also in that time is 8 shifts of work for Alissa, possibly a tour of the mother/baby area of the hospital (yes, I work there, no, I've never been to that area), many shifts of work for Zeke, a couple classes, a couple Sundays...  And if at the next ultrasound she measures way bigger then we'll start a new countdown and when things change we'll be flexible but here's to the next couple weeks and then the start of postpartum life for our little girl!

Oh and happy 6 months anniversary to Zeke and I and then beginning of January we'll be moving to a condo (we are that couple mentioned at the end of this lovely announcement from our dear friend)! Feeling pretty thankful even though it's gonna get busy the next couple months!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer fail?

This summer (though it's technically not over until September 23) was different. How do you measure, measure a summer? This year it was not in lightning bugs caught, not in weeks spent in Iowa or at camp or service projects or mission trips, not in mountains climbed or trails explored, not in times gone camping or nights slept in the hammock in the backyard, and not even in the number of times I got sunburnt. I mowed no grass, I rode no horses, I ran no races, I'm pretty sure I didn't even write a single postcard. Fail?

Nope! This summer may have been the most significant yet for me. I have nurtured an active tiny baby girl through most of the second trimester! Though I don't know much about being a mom I know enough to know that this is probably the easiest part of raising a child ever (Avoid alcohol and raw eggs? Get plenty of sleep? Wear comfy clothes? Check, check, and check. Baby grows.) Along with the relative ease and health I've had so far, I am so grateful for my supportive husband, my great job, our lovely church, our cozy apartment, our working car, and all the many other things we've been so blessed with during this summer!

Though it may appear that I've barely grown for being 24 weeks (it is even harder to show in scrubs!) it has certainly been a summer of growth. Here's to further fun this fall and a wonderful winter welcoming the wee one into the world!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On having it all

My apologies to Holli and anyone else who reads this and wants to stay updated on my life, even if it's just the life transitions...but apparently not even those. Though I post this on September 2, I'm giving myself the credit for having actually written it on June 12.

A year ago I was finishing up my time working at Sombrero, doing my last studying for my NCLEX, hoping I'd pass and hoping I'd get a job soon thereafter. A year ago we were skyping a lot, morning and night, always looking forward to seeing his face or hearing his voice. I'd set my alarm early and sneak out to the living room couch with my flip phone, my laptop, and water bottle to do devos and pray before the day began, often watching the sun rise over the Indian Peaks.

Then there was a lull. Inactivity, rest, a break, time. Whatever it's called. Still hoping, waiting, skyping, wishing.

Then the interview, the engagement, the job offer, his school acceptance, the move, orientation, the first day on the floor and a silly ER visit, another move of sorts, the wedding, and another move within the span of about 2 months. That's why now I have it all! I have a husband, I have a real job in my field, we have an apartment, health insurance, a car, a bike, a bed, some books, we have a church and small groups, and we have a baby on the way! Indeed, we have it all!

Here comes the sentimental part of the blog where I go into my response to all that and then the part where I go into what the Christian response to all that is (how we've really had more than we need through Christ all along, etc.) anyone mind if I just leave it like this? I'm really tired and have some weird dreams to dream, as well as laundry to fold, dishes to wash, and thank you's to write.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

transitions in life despite life transitions

    I post to this blog so infrequently that I tend to re-read most of my recent posts each time I do actually post (because I do update it sometimes, see how I just updated it right now? yeah). I noticed that the last handful of posts (which brings us back to at least a year ago) have mentioned the idea of life transitions. And since I wouldn't necessarily consider a birthday a life transition as I have referred to them in the past, I can say that I am not in a life transition per say, at least not right now. Yes, I graduated transitioned from school back to home, from home back to Sombrero (more "what a day" days), and from Sombrero back home, and yes I hope to transition into the world of the working soon. But since early July I've been here and plan to be here indefinitely. Propositions, schemes, aims, intentions, and ambitions to go other places - yes; plans - no. So, no, no life transition here! Just the same old unemployed/un-in-school life, lightly scattered with a few visits or activities here and there.

    I am transitioning through stages of hope, even while I stay in one place keeping the same routine (or lack-thereof).

    There are things hoped for: a good crew of coworkers for the start of the summer, a long-distance relationship to solidify and grow (I know those seem like opposite words), a passing NCLEX result on the first try, fun travels and reunions, opportunities to see Zeke, chances to go hiking, etc. These "hope it works out"s worked out already!

    There are things hoped for: that I'd read more, I'd run more, I'd help out more, I'd do my devotions more, I'd apply for more jobs more, I'd keep up with friends more, I'd clean out my room more, I'd sew more, I'd paint and draw more, I'd make more music more, I'd finish more projects more, I'd better myself more, I'd care more, I'd love more, I'd reach out to people more, I'd do more with my more time more... These... I'm finding it unhealthy to hope in just these. These are great intentions. These could be beautiful once worked out. These "hope it works out"s haven't worked out so well so far. So have I failed if there are less days that I make progress on one or two of these fronts than days where I seem to shut down and never check anything off my list? Do I give up all good intentions for fear of never realizing them anyway? Or should I just try harder? Should I re-write my list so it looks more do-able? Color-code it? Should I read a self-help book? Should I give my bootstraps another tug? I thought God was supposed to help me pull myself up...can't there be a verse about God helping us help ourselves?

    There are things still hoped for: that I would not just be a nurse (I've got the initials) but that I would be a nurse, that I would put down my pride and give Christ control of my good intentions and let His intentions for my life outweigh my own, no matter how noble mine seem.

    Paul recommends a lot of great things in his letter to the Colossians, not the least of which is "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Reading this today, it's easy for me to misread this as just another thing to add more of to my list of good intentions; as if to say "do those good intentions, but also do them even better than you were planning on."
    What I found to be most encouraging was earlier in the book where Paul mentions all the work he's been doing to spread the gospel to Jews and Gentiles etc. He says, "to this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." This one sentence brings out an entire implied theme of "not my own power, not my own energy, not my own strength but Christ's power, Christ's energy, and Christ's strength." Every command, every criticism, every encouragement, every "do not" and "do this" from Paul can be seen with the understanding that he functions and struggles with these things with an energy not of his own. He expects that his readers would rely on that divine energy, too. Just another way the gospel is presented in the Bible. It's also just another way I see my need for the truth of the gospel in my life; even if I think I'm not transitioning at the moment God's work tends to be pretty dynamic. I think this energy that so powerfully worked in Paul, sounds like a healthier thing to hope in than my own bootstraps; besides it would be stupid to wear out the straps of your boots before the soles even.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


To start off with a side note: lets just note that so far I'm a pretty consistent life-transitions blogger but not a good daily-life blogger. So be it. Sorry? Or maybe you reader(s?) should just be thankful that I tend to have relatively frequent life-transitions... I'm not saying I'll never post more frequently but I might also be saying that as soon as I stop living life in 3-ish-month-long disconnected segments posts might become even more infrequent. We'll see!

It's hard to think that my time at Trinity is so close to coming to a close. I just went to another last event; this time it was Sunday Night Worship which I've been attending and part of the leadership team for since sophomore year.

It's hard to think about all the possibilities for the future but then again, it's hard to worry when you remember the theme of the songs we sang at SNW tonight. Here's a string of phrases from our hymnsing that are good reminders for my life:

In every condition, in sickness in health; in poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth; at home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, as thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be...when through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow...when through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply...
O God my Father thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not...strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow...
When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well with my soul...Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul...
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because he lives...
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations! Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forever more be Thine.

God's steadfast love, mercy, compassion, and His generous forgiveness are foundational to everything. He is primary, everything else is secondary. From the perspective of his sovereignty even all the questions I have about the future seem minor; they're just details.

And of course we ended SNW with "Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary: pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I'll be a living, sanctuary, for you."

Singing "Sanctuary," singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs, passing the peace, and fellowshipping with the other SNW-goers week after week has shaped me. Prepared me, even. Prepared me for what, I'm not exactly sure, but I know it's the Lord's doing and not mine. I do know that I am being prepared (and will continue to be prepared) to live as a pure, holy, thankful, and living being. The where/when/how/with who/what are just details.