National Prematurity Awareness Month

This video hit close to home for me and drew a lot of tears. I am a mother to two preemies - Kate born at 34 weeks and Matt born at 32 weeks. Also I am the sister of a preemie - my sister, Rebecca, was born at 31 weeks back in 1980. I know what this doctor went through and how heart-wrenching it is to watch your baby struggle for life. I also know that without research and medical advances, neither of my children nor my only sister would be here today.

But we can all help. November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. This month, as we reflect on all that we are grateful for, please say a little prayer for the half a million preemies struggling each year to live. Also be informed and inform your family and friend on how to prevent a premature birth (not all are preventable but some are). Visit the March of Dimes website for more information.

Kate 2 days old

Matt 1 day old


Kaitlyn Jane - A Mother Was Made

NOTE: I started working on this before Kate's birthday but never finished it in time. Then my friend, Shaina, posted her kids' birth stories and knew what a great idea it was. This is long but I don't want to forget anything.

So hard to believe that my first born is turning 5 already. What a journey we have been on. Kate made me a mom, she fulfilled a long, hard fought dream that was more than 4 years in the making. She definitely didn't make the journey easy or relaxing but every trial was worth it when she entered my life. Before too much time passes and I forget some details, here is her birth story...

After two miscarriages and 4.5 years of trying to conceive, I found out I was pregnant once again. We had just started looking into the adoption process after 5 rounds of infertility treatments. This was the first month without any infertility help and we in no way thought we would ever get pregnant. Several pregnancy tests plus tons of blood tests, it was confirmed that we were in fact having a baby. However, I didn't hold much hope in the pregnancy and I didn't tell hardly anyone (I think one person at work and two close friends knew; not even our parents knew). My pregnancy was relatively easy - no morning sickness or any other issue. Everything was good at the 7 week (finally a heartbeat) and 11 week ultrasounds. I knew then that I could finally start to enjoy my pregnancy and start telling the world.

At 18 weeks, we had the big ultrasound. I refused to look at the ultrasound as it was happening for fear of something being wrong. Then the tech asked if we wanted to know the sex. Uh, yeah!!!! When I heard I was having a girl, my heart leaped out of my body. As I watched my little Kaitlyn Jane flipping and kicking and doing all sorts of gymnastics, I feel so deeply in love with her that day. A forever, unconditional love.

As the pregnancy moved forward, I became cautious. I knew that problems could arise starting in the third trimester. During our infertility treatments, I was diagnosed with a bicornuate uterus and knew that my baby could run out of room and therefore, come early. I started seeing a perinatologist and all was fine for the time being. I went to Oregon on a girls weekend with college roommates. Was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding. Then about my 25th week, I went in for a routine weekly OB appointment with my perinatologist. I had started to dilate and was sent immediately to Labor & Delivery to have my labor stopped.

Me the week I delivered in the nursery.

The drugs to stop labor were horrific. I remember my veins burning from the inside throughout my body. Feeling the drugs move through my body was bizarre to say the least. A side effect of those lovely drugs was sleepiness. I think I slept for 2 straight days. I also got steroid shots (2 total) for Kate's lungs to develop just in case I delivered. Those were the most heinous shots I have ever had - I couldn't sit or put any weight on my hips where the shots were given. After all the drugs, I spent two more days in the hospital to see if I continued to dilate (I did not). After four days in the hospital, I was sent home at 26 weeks for the rest of my pregnancy on strict bed rest.

Bed rest was interesting. I lived downstairs because I could only go up and down the stairs once a day. I was allotted a 5 minute shower every other day and was told to drink 110 ounces of water each day. I also was called daily by a nurse to check on my contractions, water intake, any symptoms of labor, kick count, etc.

When all this began, I was still working as a tax accountant and we were in the midst of busy season. Kind of weird to leave your job for short term disability so abruptly (Alan had to go to my office to pack up all my stuff while I laid on the couch). I had planned to work until October 15ish and then take leave (Kate was due on Thanksgiving). The nice thing was that since I was working at the time, I was getting paid my salary for sitting and watching TV and reading. Not a bad gig.

There were some hiccups during my bed rest. My grandmother passed away (obviously I wasn't allowed to go to Utah for the funeral) during this time and it so happened to be when Alan was going to Ohio for his cousin's wedding. So for a week, I had no family in town in case I went into labor. Very scary. Other than that, bed rest went as well as bed rest can go. Very lonely but so very worth it to help my baby grow.

Me on bed rest. Doesn't it look fun.

On October 11th, I saw the perinatologist and everything looked great. No changes and no more dilating. That was a Monday. Thursday, the 14th (exactly 34 weeks along)...I had my usual breakfast but as I got up from the couch, my water broke. Disgusting and weird. I frantically called Alan at work in Walnut Creek (about 30 minutes away) without moving from my spot. Alan rushed home so fast that he actually beat my mom to our house (she only lives 10 minutes away) and I was so petrified to move that I was still in the same spot. We drove back to Walnut Creek - a strategic move on our parts. We could have gone to Vallejo which was closer but with a low level NICU. Walnut Creek had a high level NICU and really, who wants their kid born in Vallejo.

We were set up in an antepartum room to try to stay pregnant as long as possible. One side effect of this is that the doctors don't check your dilation unless they have a need to check. So we settled in for the long haul once again (I was having no contractions). Alan and a friend went to get dinner for us at CPK. As they were eating, I started feeling pain, bearable but definitely got my attention and not regular. The nurse came in and said that they couldn't check me unless I asked for drugs. So as curious as I am, I asked for some in the IV (which I never got but really I didn't want anyways). They checked me and low and behold, I was at a 10, ready to push after a good 2 or 3 contractions. If I would have known what I know today, I would have never pushed at this point but oh well. It was 7:30pm and I started pushing and pushing and pushing. Every push, the nurse told me I needed to push one more time and Kate would be born. This went on for 2 long hours. Finally, I gave up and asked for help to deliver her. Soon after and one small push, Kate was born at 10:02 pm. She weighed a huge 6 lbs 3 oz. (remember she was 6 weeks early) and was 18.5 inches long.

The labor room was not like most since Kate was 6 weeks early - there was probably 20 doctors and nurses in the room ready to act the second she was born. I only got to hold her for a second before she was whisked away to be worked on and then to the NICU with Alan. I remember anxiously waiting for her cry and feeling relief when she finally did. And then she and Alan were off. I was left in the labor room to recover. I remember laying there feeling so happy but so alone. Angry that I didn't get to be with my new family as a family and worried that things were going wrong and no one was there for me. Finally, four hours later, I held my baby girl in the NICU.

The first time holding Kate in the NICU.

Thank you baby girl for picking us as your parents and for finally making me a mom. I will be eternally grateful to you for your precious gift of motherhood. Also, thank you for fighting for your life and for your stubbornness from the get-go. I love you!!!

Coming up...the NICU stay and Kate through the years, a celebration of the last 5 years.


Here Comes the Tooth Fairy

Goodbye to my first baby's first baby tooth (hatched at 5 months and lost at 4 years 11 months) and hello to the tooth fairy!!!

The last two visits to the dentist, Kate has been told that her bottom two teeth are loose by her hygienist/her aunt!! For the longest time, I couldn't tell if my finger was moving or the tooth but who am I to argue with my SIL over teeth - definitely not my expertise beyond "The Tooth Book" by Dr. Seuss! About a week ago, while checking her teeth-brushing abilities, I noticed some small gapping at the gumline around one of her teeth. And what was it...a tooth on the verge of fall out. Definitely not expected since she still is 4 and I was thinking loosing teeth happened closer to 6!!

So Sunday night, said tooth was hanging by a thread. We finally convinced her that Alan could pull it out painlessly. And after some blood and tears, Kate is now down one tooth and has already moved on to the next tooth (which is starting to get more loose every day).

The funny thing is she has forgotten that the tooth fairy hasn't come yet. Not that she (the tooth fairy) is lazy but we keep forgetting to write the tooth fairy a letter (loved the idea, Shaina)!!

P.S. Let's hope Kate never remember the promise I made to her 2 years ago...that we would go to DisneyWorld once she lost her first tooth (again I thought I was buying more time than I actually got). Please keep my little secret.


Don't You Want One Because I Do...

I have been coveting this bike for the last few months!! What an awesome way to make a quick trip to the grocery store, the park or even to pick up Kate from school. So environmentally friendly and so darn cute! The best of all worlds. That was until Madsen Cycles started a giveaway for one of these awesome bikes. Nothing could be better.

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

And if you aren't into toting your kids around, Madsen Cycle also offers these rockin' version...

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes


Last Week of Summer - The First Time

Well, for the first time, this is our last official week of summer before Kate starts kindergarten. It is so hard to believe that she will be in elementary school. Where in the world did the time go. Not 4.5 years ago, she was sitting under billy lights in the NICU and now she is going to school.

She is super excited and I am apprehensive and a little scared. Scared that she won't succeed, that she will talk back to her teacher, that she won't love or even like school like I did, and that her shy self will take over and make it hard for her to make friends. Man, she is a lot like me. Why, oh why, does my child have to be shy? I pray that she grows out of her shyness and that school is a great experience and that my apprehension doesn't affect her.

So for our last week, I am trying to pack it in - 1) because school starts next week and 2) because Alan is traveling all week in Colorado. So, we are going to the pool (went today and probably tomorrow since it is quite hot here), going to the park, having friends over, and taking a trip to the Discovery Museum in Sausalito with friends. Also on Friday, we finally get Kate's class assignment with a ice cream social to follow at her school and then probably the park by her school to follow.


From the Mouth of Babes

Pic of Kate's modeling shoot on my phone from last Sunday in an outfit she fashioned and accessorized all by herself. She definitely has a point of view in fashion.

So tonight, Kate and I went to Target to pick up new laundry soap and various birthday gifts for the coming weeks' parties. After checking out and getting all our stuff loaded in the car, Kate asks me the most profound question (and I was laughing and smiling inside). Here is our conversation...

K: Mom, what are my responsibilities?

M: Huh?

K: I know Daddy has a job and you have a job but what are mine and Matt's jobs? How do we get paid?

We proceeded to discuss making a chore chart and what would be on it. But what in the world made her think of that. No idea. So next week we are making a chore chart and decorating jars to put marbles in for being good, even mommy has to have a jar, according to Kate.

Kate has been on one with the profound talking and just plain thinking of the weirdest things. Another conversation we had recently went like this...

K: Mom, what is shirt n health?

M: What is the world are you talking about?

K: Shirt n health. It's a protective layer that covers your skin and protects you from getting sick or hurt. Do we have it?

M: (finally figuring out what "shirt n health" was) Oh, Assurant Health. No, honey, we don't have it. We have other insurance through Kaiser.

K: Why don't we have shirt n health?

M: Daddy's job gives us insurance and Assurant Health is for people that don't have insurance at their jobs.

K: Does our insurance protects us?

M: Yeah, kind of.

She is obsessed about Assurant Health and everything it offers people and why we can't have it. I just love this age. Such funny observations and thoughts. Such great conversations. Just love my little girl.


Earth - The Final Frontier

Poster Art for "Earth."

To celebrate Earth Day (week), the kids and I went to see the new movie, "Earth", by DisneyNature

Wow, what a moving movie. The cinematography was insanely beautiful and so inspiring.  Made me what to visit every inch of the world to partake of all the wonderful sights. What a beautiful world that we live in and how blessed we are for everything that we have. 

A scene from "Earth."

I never realized the struggle that so many animals go through in search of food and water - a struggle I have never had to deal with. Nor did I fully realize the impact of our misuse of the Earth's resources on the Earth itself until today.  The shrinking ice pack in the Artic and its effect on the polar bear or the every enlarging desert in Africa and the struggle for water on elephants and lions. 

A scene from "Earth."

Definitely made me think of how I can better treat the Earth and what God has created.  So go see the movie, take your kids and if you go during opening week, Disney will plant a tree in the Amazon for each ticket sold. If you don't go, please rethink how you treat God's gift of this beautiful Earth.

A scene from "Earth."

And we will see you next year on Earth Day to see the second part of the series, "Oceans". I can't wait!!!