Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

We got lucky this past Halloween. Not only did Emry arrive in time, but so did Tutu and Papa Phillips from AZ.

Tutu brought a haunted gingerbread house kit, which she and Pearce put together.

Pearce's tombstones for the front of the house. Most kids wouldn't be able to resist the temptation of eating before installation, but not Pearce. He's too obedient and concerned about following instructions. Plus he knew he could wolf them down later.

The yummiest haunted house ever!

Pearce picked a ghost pattern for his pumpkin. He did it all himself.

OK. Not really.

Pearce picked a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween.

He suffered a mild case of buyer's remorse in the days leading up to Halloween because he's actually not that into TMNT. When we scanned the catalog in September, though, he was knee-deep in a TMNT phase after Eric picked up their latest movie in Saigon. His phases usually last two weeks. He rotates back to his favorites, though. Spiderman, Star Wars, and Batman are probably his most common and enduring.

Once he was in costume, though, he had no regrets. Besides, the costume got the job done, helping him secure more candy than he'll eat in five years. Here he's scoring at Trick or Trunk at our church building (Makakilo Stake Center).

Pearce with Spider-Kaleb. Pearce was Spiderman the year before.

Pearce and Max dueling with their respective weapons.

Papa came just in time to hand out candy. As you can see, we didn't really provide a trunk from which to dish out the goodies. A bit sad, considering that most in our ward had fully-functional haunted trunks, with special effect crews, music and fog machines. Oh well. Papa is cooler than any of their trunks anyway.

Round 2: regular old house to house.

Pearce pleased with round 2 of his candy collection.

In truth, he ended up eating less than half of this (not to mention the mounds during later rounds). Don't get me wrong, Pearce likes Candy. But he's the only 4-year-old I've ever met who will stop half-way through a cookie and proclaim that he's had enough. It's more about the anticipation for him than the actual payoff. He'd rather be playing guys.

Tutu, Eric and Emry watching

Uncle Heber and Auntie Olya came over to wish us a Happy Halloween. Uncle Heber is Pearce's second-favorite playmate (after his dad). They'll go at it for hours.

Emry with Auntie Olya. From her facial expression, it's obvious she likes what she sees. We anticipate many more years of these two hanging out.

Unfortunately, Emry was too small to fit into her First Halloween costume at just 12 days old. I tried it on her three months later and, by then, it was too small...

...but still cute. Pearce put on his Batman costume and pretended she was Cat Woman.

Papa and Tutu's last picture with the kids before they left to go back to Arizona. Oh, and this is when Emry peed on Papa!

We ended the nights festivities with a slice of my homemade pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The day after Emry was born

This is what happens when you get behind on your blog. Events go missing. Like the day after Emry was born. This was an emotional day for me.

First, my body was still undergoing consistent labor contractions. By "consistent," I mean every five minutes from the time I delivered Emry until about 48 hours after. Apparently, my body still believed there was another baby to come. Glad it was wrong. How do we women forget that these type of things happen when we have babies? I guess the human race would stop if we all had perfect recollection of the experience.


Second, Emry had to have an ECHO Transthoracic (2D); complete with spectral and color flow dopper. This was because Dr. Loui, Emry's pediatrician, heard a murmur during the nursery examination.

Third, while I awaited for the Echo results, I got a call from my parents who just landed in Arizona, who had spent the last 15 day on a Safari trip in Kenya. My Mom, who was meant to come to Hawaii and help me with the baby, explained that my Dad had been suffering severe headaches during their entire trip and he had dry heaved for the last 22 hour of their flight, and she was taking him to St. Joseph Emergency. An hour later my Mom calls to tell me that my Dad was just prepped for brain surgery with Dr. Peter Nakaji . My Dad's CT and MRI test showed that he had been suffering from an Acute Subdural Hematoma (major trauma and bleeding in his brain) for the entire time in Kenya and he was going into a deep sleep, which would kill him if not addressed. The fluids had pushed his brain over to one side which made him critical for emergency brain surgery. The doctors were amazed he was still alive. This is when the tears started to roll. I called my brother Grant who lives in Utah, and discussed the news. Just two months ago my brother and his wife sat by the crib of their first baby, who was born a month prematurely, and was hospitalized for several weeks until his lungs grew. Grant and his wife Amy immediately left to catch the first flight to Arizona. But I was worried about my Mom being alone at the hospital so I called Harry to ask him if he could go sit with her, but he sadly explained he could not because he was dressing his daughter's mother at the funeral home. Instantly my thoughts went to Tiffany, then to Connor, and I wondered how he was coping, and the tears came again. So I called my mother in-law Jane, and without hesitation she went to sit with my Mom until my brother arrived. Oh, the relief that someone I loved and trusted would be with her.

Still dealing with labor pains, I tried to breastfeed Emry, wishing this was a happier day, and feeling helplessness for my family. Emry's pediatrician then came back with the ECHO exam which showed her to have 3 heart defects:

A normal healthy heart to compare.

1. Muscular interventricular septal defect with a left-to-right shunt. (VSD) The most serious out of the three.

1. shows where the VSD occurs.

  • the Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) usually occurs in the membranous (perimembranous) (70%) rather than muscular interventricular septum, and is more frequent in males that females.
  • Perimembranous defects are located close to the aortic and tricuspid valves and adjacent to atrioventricular conduction bundle.
  • The defect allows left-right shunting of blood, this shunting depends upon the size of the defect. Small defects may close spontaneously, larger defects result in infant congestive heart failure.
  • Clinically repaired by coils or tissue-adapted devices like muscular or perimembranous occluders.

Tiny patent ductus arteriosus with a left-to-right shunt. (PDA) Common in a new born.

1. shows where PDA occurs.

  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) occurs commonly in preterm infants, can close spontaneously (by day three in 60% of normal term neonates) the remainder are ligated simply and with little risk.
  • The operation is always recommended even in the absence of cardiac failure and can often be deferred until early childhood.

3. Patent foramen ovale with a left-to-right shunt. (PFO) Common in a new born.

1. shows where PFO occurs.

And the tears came again. Dr. Loui explained that the Cardiologist wouldn't look at the echo in detail until Monday and we would have to wait for his diagnosis, but the lab technician who processed Emry's echo mentioned that her defects didn't look too serious. Good news! Finally some good news... unofficially, but still good news. Oh the relief...

My Mom then called the next day to report that the surgery went well and my Dad was recovering in the ICU. I called my Dad a day later, who was cracking jokes the whole time. Oh the relief...

A few days later, at the pediatricians office, Dr. Loui explained that the Cardiologists didn't think Emry was in any danger, meaning her heart should heal itself, and that she would only need a routine follow up with him in three months. And so, three months later, I took Emry to see the Cardiologist and he decide he wouldn't need to see her again until she was two years old.
Oh the relief...

My Dad spent 5 days in the ICU. He came away with 72 staples in his skull. A few weeks later, due to fluids building up faster than his body could absorb, he spent 2 more days in the ICU after surgeons reopened his skull and drained the fluid. He was fine for a couple of weeks and then was readmitted into the ICU to drain the fluid from his brain again. The doctor concluded that if the fluid persisted they would have to re-due the surgery, which was risky. But the fluid never came back and my Dad started to feel good enough to work out again at the gym. He pushed himself a little to hard one day and had a stroke. Thankfully, no serious damage was done, but it scared my Dad into a slower recovery. He is now in perfect health. Thank God. I couldn't imagine life without my Dad.

Oh the relief...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Start of Emry Claire

Hi. I'm Emry. I was just born. My dad says a lot of people, including Future Me, want to know what happened. So I dictated the following to him:

It started October 5th. My mom went in for her regular checkup, during which Dr. Rudy explained that she was already 2 centimeters dilated and 60% effaced, and that I'd put my head into the launch bay. This got me excited. I was holding out for 10-10-10. Not because of auspicious numerology. But because it'd make it way easier to fill out the trillion forms I'll be handed in my lifetime.

But the 10th came. And went. I stayed put. On the 12th, my mom went in for another checkup. Now she was 4 centimeters dilated, 70% effaced. Basically, in labor. Just slowly. Dr. Rudy decided my mom should be induced. She didn't want me to be born in the backseat of a car. She scheduled my mom for Monday the 18th.

On Friday the 15th, my mom's nose started to run. By the afternoon, her throat was sore. Then her ears. Figures. My mom is sick about three times a decade. On Sunday, she called Dr. Rudy and described her symptoms. Dr. Rudy immediately pushed our meeting back five days to Friday the 22nd. She didn't want me to start life with a cold. Thanks for the gesture, Cheryl (Dr. Rudy's 1st name), but at that point I was so cramped my toenails were denting my knee caps. And my mom was dealing with comments like, "Your belly's bigger than the rest of you." We both wanted to be done with the living arrangement.

My dad decided to stay home from work on Monday--partly to nurse mommy back to health, partly to stay close should I make a break for it. Contractions had been underway for three days, but were spread out a safe distance. But Monday came. And went. I stayed put. My mom was grateful for my dad's help, but instead of using the extra time his presence afforded to rest, she used it to nest. For example. She decided 10:15 p.m. was a good time to start painting a lamp shade. I've since learned that once she makes a list, sleep doesn't occur. Unless it's on the list.

Tuesday morning, my mom and dad decided he should go to work. My mom was already scheduled to see Dr. Rudy that afternoon, so they figured if something happened, we'd already be heading in the right direction. Plus, they figured fate wouldn't pass up the chance to start my delivery while my dad was 35 minutes away.

They were right to tempt fate. Almost immediately after my dad closed the door to go at 7:30 a.m., our contractions started in earnest. As in, less-than-five-minutes-apart "in earnest." But another thing I'm learning about my mom is that she likes pain more than inconveniencing those she loves. So she waited until 11 a.m. to call my dad. Once her contractions were coming at four minutes apart. By the time he got home--around 11:30, our contractions were less than three minutes apart. Dad packed up a few belongings--Mommy already had herself, Pearce and me organized--and we bolted. Our first stop was the Paets, who'd previously offered to host my brother Pearce for the day and the night. He won't admit it, but I think he was more excited to play with fellow 4-yr-old Kaleb Paet for the day than to hang with me on my birthday. I don't blame him. Things got messy.

We arrived at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children (the same place my brother Pearce started life) at a quarter past 1. After parking, we headed up to the third floor, only to be told there was no room at the inn.

"What? We just keep driving till we find a hospital with a bed," my dad asked?

"No," the nurse answered. "You wait for a room to clear out."

So we did. For 45 minutes. My mom's contractions were hitting, at longest, every two minutes. Often less. And growing longer and more painful. But you wouldn't know it by looking at her. Which was the problem. The nurses were assessing my mommy's condition by surreptitiously watching her. What they saw was a carefree hottie, laughing in between bites of pastrami and calamari salad that daddy'd picked up at the cafeteria. Only at their worst did my mom honor her contractions with a wince. To the nurses, she looked like a typical newbie mommy, racing to the show at the first hint of it starting, only to be sent home for several more hours--or days--until the real performance started.

But when the contractions began clawing on top of each other, daddy got aggressive. Reluctantly, the nurse awarded us a triage room--which had been open the entire time. Another snotty nurse (turns out these were the only two in the entire hospital) started asking my mom the routine questions. She clearly didn't buy my parents' claim that the contractions were less than two minutes apart. She also didn't seem to hear that, as of a week ago, my mom was 70% effaced and 4 cm dilated because she kept saying things like, "We'll see if you're even dilating," in the same tone a bouncer uses to check the A-list.

It wasn't until she started listening to my heart beat that she started taking us serious. After the third contraction in less than five minutes--and my pulse's accompanying slowdown--she acknowledged: "Looks like your daughter may have punched your ticket. She's not responding well to the contractions you say you're having."

Daddy: "'Not responding well,' as in, 'we need to worry about her 'not responding well.''"
Snotty Nurse: "Nah. It's actually good ting. Means she com'n."

You think.

Next came latex and grouping.

Snotty Nurse: "Oh. She 8 centimetah already. Probly 80 puhcent effaced. Yeah. She in hurry."

You think.

While her hand explored, my mom announced that her water'd broke. The nurse shrugged it off too--apparently still struggling with the notion that patients are capable of truth. But as we started wheeling down the hallway into the delivery room, water gushed onto the floor. I really didn't like that. I'd taken my under-the-sea days for granted. The water'd been my buffer from the outside world. Now I felt shrink wrapped under a pile of rubble.

But my mom disliked it even more. The contractions went up on mommy's pain scale from a 3 to a 5. For the rest of humanity, that's equivalent to a 10. She asked for drugs. More specifically, she asked for an epidural. My mom's never had one. She was determined to make this time her first. But the nurse into whose deft hands we were being transferred, informed us that we were too late for Mr. epidural to rush in and save the day. The best she could do was Demerol. For the record, she then proceeded to publicly scold the snotty nurse and the one at the front desk for dismissing so much of what mommy had been saying, forcing the new team to play catch up, and my mom to suffer thrice the pain.

My mom readily accepted the Demerol and readily became high. Simple sentences turned into slurred discourses about the U.S. postal system and space exploration. But it didn't last. Fifteen minutes later she was back in reality, dealing with the full brunt of my decision to leave her body from a passage no wider than a quarter. She asked for and received more Demerol, but was disappointed to learn what all junkies learn: it's never as good as the first. The contractions were now tracked by their departures, not their arrivals. They were growing in length and viciousness. I was on the move.

By 3:00, Dr. Rudy was in the room. She'd been on her way to her Waipahu office to meet with a few leeward patients--including Mrs. Wendi Phillips--when the hospital called and informed her that I wanted to meet her face to face. She agreed to my proposal and made a U-turn. We were all happy to have her.

But mommy wasn't thrilled about everybody on Dr. Rudy's team. A Med student popped in a few minutes before Dr. Rudy arrived and announced he'd be helping out. Mommy had nothing against him personally or his medical proficiency. Just his gender combined with the fact they'd never met. She's not a fan of meeting new men while she's in stirrups.

But I made her forget about him. I made her forget about everything. For the next 45 minutes, all she could think about was getting me out. She couldn't even hear my dad ask her if she wanted ice to chew on. She just gritted her teeth, jammed her chin into her chest, and pushed. No screaming. No swearing. No crying. Just pushing.

Then at 3:44 p.m., I got my first taste of your world's air. I sucked it in, coughed on it a few times, then announced my presence with a few gurgles, grunts, and finally a single tiny cry. The first thing I heard was the same thing I'd been hearing for nine months--my mom's voice. She was crying gently out of joy. I heard my dad snip me free of my food supply. Then they placed me on her chest and proceeded to wipe, pat, and cover me with blankets. I was just getting comfortable, when they lifted my off and carried me over to something hard and flat. I gotta be honest. I really hated the next few minutes. Things were shoved down my throat, up my nose and up my bahoohoo. It wasn't the welcome party I'd imagined.

But then things got incredibly better. They wrapped me tight just like I like, and took me toward her voice. I still hadn't opened my eyes. I'd been holding out. I wanted the first thing I ever saw in this world to be her. And so it was. They placed me in her arms on her chest and I opened my eyes to the sight of my mommy peering straight back. That was my favorite part.

First Sight: Mom. I'm 2 minutes old.

We hung out for a while. Talking and checking each other out. She even fed me. My dad hovered overhead with two cameras, trying to record it for Future Us while simultaneously trying to get to know me.

But then it was time to go. Off to the business of babying. Measurements (I came in at 8 lbs 1.2 oz and just over 21 inches tall). Deep cleans. Exams. None of it very fun or blogworthy. Bottom line, I was healthy. More importantly, I was happy. I hardly cried at all. They couldn't even dampen my spirits with their little "heel pricks" to check my blood. I was too excited to finally meet the family I'll be with for eternity.

Here are some highlights from the first few days:

The dream team

At the nursery, getting checked and cleaned.

Once Mom and I were in the recovery room, Daddy brought my brother Pearce. He did a five-minute happy dance. He'd been asking if I'd come "today" for the past three months.

Pearce was so excited to finally hold me. He's been kissing me non-stop.

With my Daddy.

My first car ride home.

On Saturday morning (my due date, 23) my parents took me for another blood test. My jaundice was getting worse, so my pediatrician, Dr. Loui, decided to send me back to the hospital for a 24 hours stay under the blue lights. I was a little bummed, but it was better than the alternative.

I was totally disoriented with my eyes covered and my body naked flailing around. To make matters worse, they taped the blindfold to the side of my head, so when they took it off, they took a few layers of skin with it. Barbaric.

Ready to go home again. If you notice I have chubbier cheeks. My doctor instructed my mom to feed me formula along with her breast milk to help with my jaundice. I was happy to oblige since I love to eat.

My mommy painted and put together my room before we left for Vietnam. She's still not sure if she likes the yellow, but I like it. And it turns out I get the same bedding Pearce used. It's a very simple, no fuss, room.

Mommy made a pillow to girl up the blue chair.

In my crib upstairs.

Although, I love napping anywhere...

like my bassinet downstairs...

like my moms nursing pillow...

like with my daddy...

like in my swing..

That is my sucky from the hospital. I like it better than the ones from the store.

Here's mommy giving me my first bath. I loved it. Most relaxing.

That's pretty much it for now. I need to go suck a meal down and take a nap. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to meeting you.

Emry Claire Phillips