Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kai's Story Continues

Bed Rest at the Hospital

It was the evening of December 11th when I started having more contractions and heavy bleeding. Tomorrow I would be 29 weeks. Rory and I rushed to the University of Utah hospital. After we got to the hospital, I was rushed to OB emergency care. After many tests the doctors determined I had a minor placental abruption. The placenta was actually tearing away from my uterus. They told us that they wanted to keep me overnight. They said if my bleeding got worse they would need to do an emergency C-section. Thankfully the bleeding got better; however, because my water had broken, I had a placental abruption, and I was contracting, they wanted to keep me at the hospital for the rest of my pregnancy until I delivered. At first I felt relief. Now I could relax a little and not worry about having to go to the hospital for every little thing that went wrong. However, that faded quickly during the first week, which was definitely the hardest. I was contracting almost every night as well as being moved back and forth from women’s special care to labor and delivery. I never really dilated so they would send me back. My days consisted of blood pressure and temperature checks every four hours and a non-stress test (NST), which would check Kai’s heart rate, everyday for an hour each time.

Also, to my delight, I was questioned about my bowel movements every morning. I had no privacy, and I had no familiar surroundings. I began to become very depressed. Rory would visit me for several hours almost daily and that would certainly raise my spirits, but as soon as he left, the loneliness would set in and most nights I would cry and cry. Kai did his best to keep me company at night. That was when he was the most active. His favorite game to play with me was swamp monster. He honestly looked like a little swamp monster trying to pop out of my belly. I found it very entertaining. The hospital staff was amazing, and there was also a lovely woman that would bring me crafts and other activities to keep me busy. I also had many visitors that took time out of their days to bring me comfort and support. I always looked so forward to the visits. However, I still worried about my baby daily and missed my husband a great deal. A big comfort that I had was the opportunity to go to church in the hospital every Sunday. My husband or a nice nurse would wheel me (I was not allowed to walk around except in my room) over to the chapel every Sunday morning. Even though the service was only half an hour long, I still got the opportunity to take the sacrament and remember my Savior and how he knew my thoughts and feelings. He was my great source of peace at such a difficult time. At church I also got to hear the stories of trial from other patients in the hospital. I always became more and more grateful for the trials I faced. At least I would be able to leave in a month or so. Some of those people had to be admitted for many months at a time. I gained such strength from their testimonies and their faith.

Kai's Birth

It was the morning of January 17th when my doctor came in to discuss being induced that day. I had another week of nightly contractions that were 5-10 minutes apart for four or five hour blocks so the doctors felt it would be best for me to be done with my pregnancy. They always looked at the balancing act of what was safer for the baby. Naturally, they wanted to leave Kai in there as long as possible, but there comes a time when leaving the baby in becomes more dangerous, especially with my contractions and placental abruption. 34 weeks is the magical number that doctors usually say is the safe zone for inducing babies.  Kai had hit 34 weeks the day before, and it was like he knew just how old he was.

The night before I had experienced what felt like a never ending contraction from 1:00 am to 4:00 am. I was sort of able to sleep through it, but it never let up. I told my doctor about it, and she said that my body was getting really tired and it would be best for me to be induced. I called Rory as soon as the doctor left and asked him what he thought. He agreed it would probably be best so I told the doctor that we would go forward with it, and they prepped me to be induced. Since I had been dilated to a one for almost an entire month they figured that hadn't changed so they hooked my up to the Pitocin and let it work its magic (or should I say its devil craft). The first two levels weren't so bad; I was totally handling it without much of an issue. They checked my cervix and were surprised to find out I actually started at a 4 before the Pitocin was administered. It looked like the four hour long contraction did something after all. They then kicked the Pitocin up a notch, and it started to get a little more painful. They told me I could get an epidural at any time, but I decided since I was coping so well I would see just how far I could go without medication. Some of you mothers who have been induced before are probably chuckling right now because you know what a BIG MISTAKE that was. Yes, as it so happens the anesthesiologist was stuck in an emergency C-section for the next TWO HOURS. I was in the deepest pit of despair. I had never felt so much pain. I, in fact, called out for my mommy, who arrived 20 minutes later. The nurse offered me other drugs, but nothing could settle the intense, wrenching "waves". Finally, the anesthesiologist arrived, and I got my sent from heaven epidural. It took about twenty minutes, and I was laughing, smiling and feeling AMAZING!! The nurse checked me I was dilated to a 5. She said it could be quite a while before I would be ready to push. About an hour later I started to feel the "pressure" that all my birth books and movies told me about. My doctor checked me and was surprised to find I was at a 9. She began to call in more hospital staff to prepare me for delivery. I couldn't believe it - it was finally time! I was going to see my sweet little boy! So, I have to brag a little here because I only had to push for twenty minutes. Yes, I know, I am a rockstar. I have decided God was giving me a break since I was in Hell a few hours earlier. I pushed the fourth and final time, and there he was! He was finally here with us looking healthy and perfect! He looked right at me almost saying "I'm ok mom, you don't have to worry anymore." They rushed Kai to the NICU. Rory and my parents left shortly after to go see Kai, and I was left to endure the "after birth". Honestly, it wasn't too bad. Maybe all the horror stories I had heard were from women that never received the oh so wonderful epidural. Eventually, I finally got to see Kai. It was an incredible feeling holding him and knowing that he was finally safe and out of reach of those horrible bands. I felt he was also relieved to see us and know that he made it to our loving arms. There he was weighing in at 5lbs 6 oz with a head full of hair. We were the most anxious to hear about his left foot, which we had fought so hard to protect. The good news was that his foot was ok! He was even able to wiggle his toes. He had a groove on his ankle, which would have to have surgery, and we would have to correct his clubbed feet, but those were all things that could be fixed. He did lose the tip of the ring finger on his right hand, which wasn’t expected, but for as bad as it could have been, it didn’t even faze us. Kai would be just fine. He looked so strong laying there in his crib. I am so grateful he has such a warrior spirit to make it home safe to us.

Kai’s Time in the NICU

Now that Kai was born, it was his turn to spend some time in the hospital. As hard as it was to be in the hospital on bed rest all that time, it was even harder to leave Kai in the hospital by himself every night. For his first few nights, they monitored him very closely. He had a few issues he had to face in the NICU. Solid breathing, eating on their own, and controlling body temperature were things that almost all NICU babies face, and Kai was no exception. He had to be on oxygen, have a feeding tube, be under a heat lamp, have an IV, and be on antibiotics to begin. One by one, he worked his way off of each of them. He got off the antibiotics, IV, and heat within about a week of being in the NICU, but the eating by mouth and breathing on his own would take a while longer. The good news is that the medical staff said that babies who lose their amniotic fluid as early as 19 weeks usually have to be on a ventilator for weeks, or even months, but the steroid shots had worked, so Kai’s lungs were much better than they would have been.

Rory and I visited him every day he was in the NICU, hoping that he was making progress on his goals. We would hold him, read to him, sing to him, and try to feed him after he got a little older. He was such a sweet and easy-going baby. He hardly ever fussed, and he usually just put up with whatever was being done to him. It was so amazing to hold this little boy in our arms – it seemed so surreal that we had a child. I think having to leave him every night also made it seem this way. But it was the best feeling in the world to be there with him, to be a family.

We also got to know the wonderful nurses at the NICU who took such good care of him. They helped us to know how to best care for him. It was like we got a little crash course in being parents, which made it a little less daunting when we finally took him home. We learned the best ways to change diapers, to get Kai dressed, to swaddle, to breast and bottle feed, to bathe him, and so many other things as well.

While Kai was in the NICU, they did something called an echocardiogram. This was basically an ultrasound of his heart. We learned that the anatomy of baby’s hearts before they are born is different than after they are born. Some of the valves shift locations right after birth so that babies can use their lungs properly. This is one of the main reasons Kai still struggled to breathe after he was born – his valves were still shifting into place. We watched his breathing progress over the weeks, and he finally got off his breathing tube completely after about 3 weeks in the NICU. His eating habits really picked up after that. He started taking more and more of his meals by mouth. We could tell he was getting close to coming home!

A day or two before the day he would come home, the nurses started prepping us to take Kai home. We couldn’t have been more excited. We went through some trainings on first aid, purple crying, and car seat safety. They also had us bring in our car seat to do a test with Kai to see if he could handle it. He failed the first time, but they gave him a second chance and he passed that one. We were so relieved! We had gotten our hopes up before that he would come home, but we were really counting on him coming home the next day.

The morning of Monday February 16th, which also happened to be President’s Day, the hospital called and gave us the final ok to take Kai home. We were beyond thrilled! We packed everything up to make our final trip to the NICU. The whole event was incredibly surreal as we packed him into his car seat and took him down to our car. He was finally home with us.The real adventure had just begun.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kai’s Story

In Burmese the name Kai means “unbreakable.” This is a definitely a story about a little baby boy that refused to submit to defeat. He truly is unbreakable.

The Beginning of Our Whirlwind Journey
We went into the Millcreek Imaging Center to get the ultrasound of all ultrasounds, the one which reveals if you are having a boy or girl. We were so excited to finally find out what we were having. For pretty much the entire pregnancy I had a feeling it was a boy. Rory didn’t really feel a pull either way. I got on the chair and the technician put the blue goo, the goo I have seen in all the movies, on my abdomen. All of the sudden, in front of me I saw our baby. The baby was perfect. Everything measured the way it was supposed to. The heart beat was so strong. I could fall asleep to that sound every night. As the technician kept looking around at all of the baby’s nooks and crannies she announces, “It’s a girl!” A girl, I was shocked, not upset at all, but shocked. I was so sure it was a boy. I looked at Rory, both of our eyes tearing up. We were so excited. As she kept looking around trying to get a face shot of our very shy baby, Rory and I discussed how fun a little girl would be. We talked about the nursery, clothing etc. We were ecstatic! After about a half an hour she decided to let me empty my VERY full bladder and then complete the ultrasound. When I came back she looked at a few more organs and then said we were done. I was getting myself ready to leave when she asked if we could try performing an ultrasound while I was lying on my side. She really wanted to get a better shot of our sweet baby’s face for us. So I got back on the chair and lay on my side. She poked around to get that little baby to move so we could see the face. As she was poking around she stopped and said "you are going to hate me." With that she typed “it's a boy“ on the screen! We were in shock. She told us that she had done ultrasounds for 25 years and this had NEVER happened to her. Apparently the umbilical cord was wrapped around our little guy’s nub, which made it look like he was a girl. Rory and I laughed and laughed. We were so relieved she took another look. A boy! I knew it! I have to admit I felt pretty good about myself. She asked us if we could stay in the room while she had the radiologist look at some of the scans. We waited as patiently as we could, "was something wrong? I kept asking myself. Finally she came back. She looked a little nervous which made me a little more nervous. She then told us that our sweet baby looked like he had clubbed feet. Immediately, Rory and I felt the feeling of concerned parent wash over us. It was definitely a new experience. She began to explain that the legs were straight, but that the feet actually turned in at the ankle. Rory and I left the imaging center feeling a little bittersweet. We were so excited to find out we were having a boy, but then sad and concerned that there was something wrong with our sweet boy. A couple of hours later I got a call from my midwife. She said she got the results of our ultrasound and said there was another issue of concern other than the clubbed feet. She explained that sometimes the amniotic fluid can form into bands and wrap around the baby's extremities and cut off circulation. She said that on the ultrasound there was a small mass on our baby's left foot and she thinks it could be banding. She told us she would like us to see a specialist at St. Mark's Hospital. I got off the phone very confused. I kept thinking, how can amniotic fluid form into bands? It’s fluid. I tried to explain what our midwife said to Rory, but I just didn't really understand. The next day I set up an appointment with the specialist for four days away and then we waited.

Day 1: Our Trip to Houston
We showed up for our appointment with Dr. Ball at St. Marks Hospital the Tuesday morning after our initial ultrasound. We went through about an hour of ultrasounds with a technician before we saw the doctor. The technician pointed out some of the bands for us. They were very thin, web-like and they were everywhere. Later, we saw Dr. Ball. He also looked around at everything for another half hour. While performing the ultrasound he explained to us that my uterus had collapsed. I had never heard of this before. He explained there are two linings to the amniotic sac. The inner lining is called the amnion and the outer lining is called the chorion. In a normal pregnancy these linings are supposed to fuse together, but mine did not. He explained the process was like a balloon being blown up inside another already full balloon. Between the linings there is a very sticky substance that fuses the linings together. At about five or six weeks our little guy happened to kick through the amnion, causing the lining to start breaking apart into the amniotic fluid and forming into bands with the sticky substance coating the bands. These bands gradually started wrapping around his left ankle, right knee and around his little wrists which bound his hands together. There were also bands found on the back of his head. Rory and I couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The Doctor stopped the ultrasound and began to explain to us what we were up against and what our options were. He explained our case of Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS) was very serious. He also explained that it was a very rare condition and there was absolutely nothing we could have done to prevent it. Like being struck by lightning, it was a very random occurrence. Then he started listing off our options. The first option was fetal surgery. He explained that the bands would be removed from the baby in utero. Rory and I had never heard of this kind of surgery. I had no idea a baby this tiny could be operated on inside the womb. The doctor, however, did caution us on this option since our case was so serious and there were many bands to deal with. He had done these surgeries before himself, so he knew the risks very well. He basically told us that there was less than a 50% chance of success and it was very possible that all the bands could not be removed. He also said that it was very risky to our baby’s life. He told us the second option was for us to just wait it out and see what would happen, which was a stressful way to go, to have no control or way of helping our child. He then went on to our least favorite option, terminating the pregnancy. Rory and I couldn’t believe what we were hearing. How could we terminate this sweet baby’s life because he could possibly lose a limb or two? He said presently there was a very strong chance that our baby would lose his left foot since the band was so tight around his ankle if we left this alone. He then began to explain that the banding could get worse on his hands and he could lose them as well. Basically as time would go on we would have no idea what limbs he would lose or if he would be born a still birth because of strangulation of his neck or the umbilical cord. I looked at Rory and he looked at me with the same expression…defeat. This was in my mind seriously the worst possible experience a new parent could go through. The doctor was basically telling us that if we chose not to abort the pregnancy or have the surgery we would have to slowly watch these “death strands” take little pieces of our beautiful baby boy. There was the real possibility of having to watch him slowly get strangled to death. No parent should ever have to go through the horror of watching their baby go through that. We told the doctor since the outcome for surgery didn’t look so good and aborting the pregnancy was not an option, we would just have to keep an eye on the bands and see what happens. Before we left, the doctor mentioned that he had a friend and colleague that worked in a medical center in Houston that was a fetal surgery specialist and had performed many surgeries for babies with ABS. He told us he would try giving him a call to consult with him and get back to us. With that we went to front desk to set up another appointment and left. Our hearts were so heavy. We didn’t even know how to process what we had just seen or heard. We just went back to the car and cried, holding each other, begging God for a miracle. It is said that ABS affects 1 in 10,000 babies or so. All we could think about was why did it have to be our baby? Why did we have to be that 1 case in thousands of pregnancies? I felt numb; I had no idea what to do.

I was supposed to go to work after this appointment. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day. After returning home, I got in my car and headed out to work. It was hard to see the road at times since my eyes still had tears in them. About ten minutes into my drive I got a call from Dr. Ball. I pulled over so I could focus on his news. He told me that he talked to his friend in Houston, Dr. Befort, and he wanted to see me right away. Dr. Ball explained that his friend had started using a brand new procedure that involved pumping CO2 gas into the uterus to expand it so they would have more room to work in order to cut more of the banding. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He also said that there was possibly a charity fund available for us that would cover the procedure. I thanked him over and over. My head was spinning, I was so emotionally overwhelmed. I asked the doctor if he could call Rory and relay the news to him since I was so overwhelmed. He agreed and we hung up. I made it to work. Luckily, I was all by myself so I just sobbed at my desk. Was this really happening? Do miracles really happen this fast? I prayed at my desk and thanked my heavenly father for hearing our prayers and responding so quickly. Fifteen minutes later Rory called and we just cried about what just happened. We decided to look at this as an answer of what we should do and move forward with going to Houston. Rory called Dr. Ball back to tell him what we decided. I was able to get out of work early so we could work out the trip. When I got home about 2:00 Rory was already on the phone with the Fetal Center in Houston. They wanted to set up our ultrasound and consultation for 8:00 am the next morning. Everything was happening so fast. Rory told them that we would look at plane tickets and let them know. Second miracle of the day, we found two tickets for Houston that left at 5:15 pm for $200 a ticket. It was amazing! It gave us just enough time to get packed and ready to go, and we would be arrive with enough time to get a little sleep. The only other options were two flights that left about 9 or 10 pm and got into Houston the next morning at about 6 am for about $800 a ticket.  We booked the tickets for 5:15, packed, arranged a ride with Rory’s mom, and left for the airport within the next hour.  During our flight, I really felt my baby kick for the first time.  It seemed to me to be a reassurance that he felt what was going on and was excited that we were going to Houston to save him.  We arrived in Houston around 11:30 pm. Erin Holbrook, a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen since high school, saw my post on Facebook about our situation and said she had moved to Houston only the previous weekend.  She offered to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel, even though she had a one-month-old newborn. This was yet another miracle to add to rapidly growing list. We headed out to a Best Western that was directly across the street from the Texas Medical Center that the nurses had told us about. Thankfully, they had exactly one room left for us. We got up to our room about 1 am and prepared to get a little sleep before the biggest life changing day of our lives.

Day 2: Surgery Day
After having breakfast at the hotel, we arrived at the Fetal Center for our ultrasound around 7:30 am. A nice woman called us back to the ultrasound room. She performed the initial ultrasound just like the other technicians did. About an hour into our ultrasound, four doctors and a nurse came into the room. One of the doctors was Doctor Belfort, the friend of Doctor Ball. The other doctors were Doctor Espinoza, Doctor Ruano, and another doctor that was visiting from Stanford.  Doctor Espinoza took over the ultrasound so he could look at our little guy’s left foot. They wanted to look at how much blood was actually getting to the foot. There was very little blood flow, but there was some which gave them hope. About another half hour went by and three other specialists came into the room.  In particular, one was a pediatric plastic surgeon that had worked on babies with ABS. He had actually helped to rehabilitate babies that had been affected by ABS.  He said that the nerves were typically the last things to get damaged by the bands, and so if there was a little blood flow, that gave him hope that the nerves had not yet been irreversibly damaged.  I couldn’t believe how many doctors and nurses were in that room with us just staring in awe at my baby. I felt like a medical marvel of science. After everything had been checked two or three times Dr. Belfort began to tell us about the surgery. He cautioned us that what they were about to do was extremely experimental. They had only performed this kind of procedure, using CO2 gas, on two other babies at the hospital, and the procedure had only been done ever about 60 times in the world. He said they had never used CO2 to removed amniotic bands before.  They were also originally only going to have to make two small incisions in my stomach to perform the surgery, but because the banding was so severe, they would have to give me a C-section type of incision, flip out my uterus, and operate from the back of the uterus through two different incisions. They also told us that, even though our baby was extremely young and one of the most serious cases of ABS he had seen, he and the other doctors felt very confident they could perform a successful surgery. However, because the surgery was so experimental, they would have to convene an 8-person fetal surgery board in an emergency session just to approve the procedure.  He felt confident that it would be successful, though.  Finally, Dr. Belfort chastised me just a little for eating breakfast which would delay when they would be able to do the surgery.  I didn’t think they would be able to get us in for surgery the same day, so I had had breakfast, and you’re not supposed to have surgery for at least 8 hours after eating.  But, in the end they said if we wanted to move forward, they would schedule surgery for later that day.  After they talked to us about all of the many complications that could happen, they asked us to take some time to discuss the surgery before making our final decision. Rory and I just looked at each other for a little while without saying much. We both just knew we had to go forward. We told Dr. Belfort we were in, and we wanted to do the surgery. He also asked us if we would be willing to give them permission to publish this surgery in medical journals since it was so groundbreaking. Rory and I were very excited for the chance to help other couples in similar circumstances give their babies a second chance. We were excited to be involved in this pioneering step for modern medicine.

The surgery was scheduled for about 3 that afternoon and I was admitted into the hospital. A parade of nurses and doctors visited my room, each telling me their perspective on what I was about to go through.  I signed more forms than I could count, each telling me that my imminent death or my baby’s death was a real possibility. They told us that the hospital was just covering their bases, and the probability for complications was very low, but the more times they went over the potential issues we could face, the more real it all seemed.  After everything was signed and all warnings given, I laid there in my hospital gown waiting for surgery. Rory and I had a feeling of peace and confidence with each step we took. We knew that going forward with the surgery was our baby’s best chance and we couldn’t turn our back on our little guy. It was at this time that that we decided to name our baby boy Kai because of the meaning of the name.  It stood for strength, and we felt that he had he was our fighter and would overcome this trial that he was faced with so early on in his life. Despite all of the reassurances I felt, about an hour before surgery, which was delayed until 5, all of the potential side effects and consequences of the surgery I had heard about throughout the day caught up with me. I began to get really nervous. The nurse came in and told us that I would be taken to the operating room in a few minutes and then she left. I turned quickly to Rory and asked for a priesthood blessing. Rory then gave one the quickest most straightforward blessings I had ever received. I was assured that Heavenly Father was in control of this surgery and that we were doing the right thing. I felt immediate peace and confidence that I and my sweet baby were going to be just fine. I also felt an overwhelming reminder that this surgery was not just for me and Kai, it was for many other babies that would be in Kai’s situation. I think I actually saw some of their beautiful faces. The nurse came in and began to wheel me out to the operating room. The anesthesiologist asked me to breathe through a mask for a few seconds. Next, I woke up to Rory’s face and several nurses scrambling around me. The surgery was over. Rory told me that everything went so well. I was hooked to tons of tubes and wires. I could barely move. I was in a lot of pain, but I was happy that my baby was ok.  I was also happy when the nurses brought me some pain medication.  Rory was right there by my side ordering the nurses around to make sure I was taken care of. He was so happy to see me ok and conscious.

Days 3 through 6: Waiting in Houston
Throughout the next few days, the nurses visited me every few hours to check my vitals and give me medication.  Sleep was erratic at best, and I was still trying to overcome a lot of the pain.  It was hard for me to move much in the first day or two, but through the help of the nurses, I started to be able to move around a little.  The scariest moment was the night after the surgery.  I had the worst pain I had ever felt in my life, and I thought I was going into labor because I started having contractions.  But, the staff was able to help me through this moment, I was able to calm down, and everything stabilized.  It was not time for Kai to come into this world.  We didn’t go through everything to have everything fall apart, and God blessed us to have this moment pass without further complications.

One nurse that had helped some patients with similar cases as ours mentioned that the doctors would probably want me to stay there in the hospital until I delivered. I hated the idea of having to stay two or three months in a hospital so far away from my family and friends. However, we wanted to do what was best for Kai so we decided we would make that sacrifice if necessary. Rory and I, along with family, started to figure out how it would work if I had to stay in Houston and began making plans.  This included unfortunately quitting my job.  However, on the bright side my parents said they wanted to come visit me, and my mom was even arranging to stay out here for a while since Rory would have to go back to Utah.

Rory spent his time during these days trying to do homework, but mostly just updated family and friends on what was happening, ordered the nurses around, worried about me and Kai, and tried his best to acclimate to hospital food.  Luckily for him, it was his fall break the next week, so he had less pressure to complete his assignments.  He was also very fortunate to connect with his cousin Paul and his beautiful wife Ashley.  Paul was a medical student doing his residency at the medical center just a few buildings down from where we were.  Rory asked if he could go to church with them on Sunday, and they agreed to pick him up Sunday morning.  It was great for Rory to have a little normalcy in attending church and being with family.  Paul and Ashley were very accommodating and invited Rory over for a meal after church. They also visited me later that night with lots of food and even gave Rory keys to their car in case he needed to use it. We were so overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity.

Day 7: The Trip Home
Finally, it was Monday morning. We would have the final ultrasound where they would decide if I needed to stay or if I could go home. Rory and I woke up feeling very strongly that we were going home that day. We almost had to keep ourselves from packing because we felt so sure we were leaving. We went into the ultrasound midmorning. The doctors were so impressed with Kai and how he was doing. Despite having lost a lot of amniotic fluid during and after the surgery, the fluid levels had risen again to an impressive level.  The swelling in his left foot was also going down, and his heartbeat was still strong.  The doctors said we could go home, but I would have to be on bed rest until Kai was born. With a fond farewell and many instructions the doctors discharged us and we began to prepare to go home. We were all a little nervous about how the trip would affect me and Kai, but we trusted our Father in Heaven and knew he would watch over us the entire time.

It was raining really hard during the ultrasound, so we scheduled the latest direct flight we could for that day.  We packed up all our things, traveled to the airport, found me a wheelchair and were able to make it through security. We found out that many flights had been delayed or cancelled due to the intense storm that was traveling east over the country.  However, it passed by Houston by that time, and our flight was one of the fortunate few that was not delayed.  Despite some pain that resulted from all the traveling, we made it home with no issues, and we were so relieved to be with family again.

Our little family was ok.  We gave our little Kai a second chance. With the many blessings of our heavenly father, prayers from family and friends and amazingly gifted surgeons, the possibility to meet our sweet boy in this life was real. Heavenly Father never left our side that day and still hasn’t. He is still watching over our fledgling family, and we are so grateful for His kindness and love in giving our baby a second chance. We are so excited to meet our little fighter!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A summary of what I have learned so far....

So remember the time when you and your spouse are on the couch in marriage therapy and your therapist goes on and on about how your spouse needs to change and you are thinking, "I sure hope they are listening to this." Well this happened in a majority of my sessions. Until that one day I realized that most of those "lectures" were in fact for ME. This realization was the beginning of a road to a relationship I didn't think was possible. 

I know it sounds cliche, but your spouse is most definitely a mirror. A mirror that will stare back at you for eternity. For some this is a frightening thought, for me it was. How could I keep running away from who my Heavenly Father wanted me to be with my own personal mirror showing me where I need to step it up, EVERYDAY. For about the first two years I would say I did everything I could to not look into that mirror. It seemed the least painful decision. However, as many have found out running away from yourself catches up to you and when it does it is one of the most painful experiences one can experience. 

How did I make the pain stop? I finally came to the conclusion that I would either need to stop running and take a real good look in that mirror, or remain in the worst gall of bitterness I had ever experienced.

I am not going to pretend that it wasn't even more painful taking a good look, it was almost unbearable. However, I have never felt so ME! I have never had so much peace and contentment in my life. My relationship with my husband has never been stronger and the best part is I have no more reason to run! I have discovered a woman with flaws yes, but I have also uncovered a woman with incredible strength and character. I have discovered a woman with potential that it seemed everyone else had but her. My husband often says the words I desperately wanted to hear during our first two years of marriage, "I am so proud of you." 

Yes, it seems easy to refuse the mirror exists; however, in reality it is one of the worst mistakes that a couple can make in their relationship. If I can offer any advice to those feeling the way I did on that couch is this, look in the dang mirror!! Look your spouse square in the eyes and say I have weakness, I recognize it and I will take accountability for it. The lack of self awareness will in fact cause more pain than owning your short comings. My hope is that my experiences will instill hope in those that don't want to run anymore. That I can convince them that it will ALWAYS be more painful to run away from what Heavenly Father wants you to be. Heavenly Father gave us these "mirrors" for a very divine purpose. 

I am in a very reflective moment in my life so I will share more insights later, but this is what has been weighing on my mind lately.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I am sorry I didn't post this sooner but I figure it is better late than never :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Discover your passions!

I was sitting in bed talking with Rory talking about some pretty emotional things and just began "vomiting" everything I was thinking and feeling.  I know my poor husband was trying so desperately to keep up, but how could he? He is not me and therefore he does not think like me. I became a little frustrated because I was having such strong feelings and I just couldn't understand why he couldn't feel them too. Then it hit me! That is why I write! I remember having similar frustration with my mission companions because they just didn't get it. I began to write to express those feelings and ideas and I found it so incredibly satisfying. I was so happy because I could let it all go on paper and I didn't have to carry around emotional weight anymore. I would write deep, powerful, truthful things and in return I would feel reconciled with my true self. I felt so validated! What a discovery to learn I didn't need another person to "get it" to feel validated. That is what I think makes writing so satisfying. We all have this need to express ourselves. We need to get it out somehow. Some of us love expressing vocally (me), but then find that some of the people we share with don't seem to care as much as we do and that can leave you feeling a little bit empty. Sometimes it's like the bible says "We have cast our pearls before the swine." I am so incredibly grateful for that little reminder over the weekend. I know writing will bring me so much peace and hopefully I can inspire some of you reading this to find your passion or find it again if you have wandered away from it. Maybe it's writing or maybe it's something else... Feel free to share, I would love to know what makes you tick :)
Well, here I am with my own blog.  I have been wanting to do this for such a long time, I just didn’t know what I wanted to blog about. Until one day it came to me… My husband!
Now I know what you are all thinking “this is going to be so sappy” or “TMI” (too much info), but it’s not like that. I have been pondering and praying about a way to gain a deeper connection to my husband and this is what I came up with. I truly believe, just like the title of my post says, the highest form of love is understanding. In this blog I am not going to write about what I have learned about Rory, but what I have learned FROM Rory. This way I can gain a better understanding of myself which will in turn give me a better understanding of him
I have been thinking a lot about the phrase “my other half”. I absolutely feel this way about my husband. When I allow myself to learn from him I learn soooo much. So if our spouse or partner is truly our other half than you are not whole until you can incorporate their half with yours right? Why is it we tend (me especially) to shut down their other half and try to make it into our “half”. Than we still are not whole. It’s like trying to make to right sides or two left sides fit together, they just layer on top of each other. (I wish I had a diagram to explain this better, maybe I will find one later.)
So with this in mind to achieve more “wholeness” or “balance” in myself as well as my marriage I am going to post what I have learned about myself, from my husband.  Does this make sense? Again this is my first blog so it might be a little messy. If anything it will help me focus on actively looking for what he can teach me, NOT what I can teach him. I believe the best teachers teach to be taught. There are a few Japanese proverbs that come to mind. “To teach is to learn” or “the mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
Now, I can think of several things I have learned from Rory in our almost 11 months of marriage. However, I am sure I will learn them again so I will pick one. For today I will share that I have learned that I am not the best “pourer” let me explain. There are “holders” and there are “pourers” and there are those lucky ones that do both very well. When someone offers love and service to someone they are “pouring” it is now the recipients responsibility to be a “holder” Now there are those that are very good at one, but not so good at the other. (You know who you are… ha ha) I have discovered that Rory is an excellent “pourer” and I am an excellent holder. Now I want to become an excellent pourer. This can present a bit of a problem for those who aren’t excellent holders. I have felt like with people I knew that had a hard time holding  I had to almost force their hands into place and make sure the stayed together so they could hold all of the love I poured right? WRONG! This is so importantIt is the pourer’s responsibility to pour and the holder’s responsibility to hold. We are encouraged to be both… I repeat we are encouraged to be both. If I attempted to pour and it was not held because there was a “leak’ than that is not my fault. I am still exercising my pouring abilities. This has been a wonderful realization for me and I hope it has encouraged you to work on your “pouring” and “holding’ skills.