Thursday, 31 May 2012

Root, Root, Root for the Dodgers

they didn't win and it was a shame, BUT, we had a great time taking the boys to their first Dodger game.

We went on Memorial Day, and the weather was perfect and the air was so clear. We could not have asked for a better day at Dodger Stadium.

Apparently Nic loves sporting events - not just Bruin games. He spent almost all of the game cheering and clapping. Tommy enjoyed eating, reading the numbers of the players on the big screen, and asking questions about the players. He learned the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," but decided he was too busy drinking water to sing along when the 7th inning stretch finally happened. Kenny probably did not know that we were at a game...but he sure looked cute in his baseball outfit!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Update on Mary: Countdown to CT

Mom completed her second round of chemo last week, so now we are waiting for her to have a CT scan to evaluate the response of her tumor to the chemo. She goes in on Friday, and we hope to hear the result of the reading on Monday, although it may take longer. Last week's chemo brought about the typical side-effects, but those have cleared up and she is looking forward to her week off. We had a big praise this week when Mom felt good enough to attend church on Sunday. It had been weeks since she has been able to make it and she really enjoyed the opportunity to worship and fellowship. We had a nice holiday weekend, and were thankful for the extra day to spend together and to rest.

Please pray:

that the CT reveals progress and a smaller tumor

for patience as we wait

for grace to accept the results, whatever they may be, and courage to face the next steps

that we can make the most of this week of good health and enjoy our time together

As always, thank you so much for your prayers and for your support.

Some pictures from our Sunday:

Two Peas in a Pod

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ready for Bed/Time to Get Up, Starring Nicolas

It's been a while since we've added any video to the blog, so here's a short one from my last visit with Amy and the boys in CA. Please excuse the half-packed suitcase and the closet with no doors (and Uncle Kevin's junk).

Friday, 25 May 2012

My Rapidly Spiraling Standards

The first PG-13 movie I ever saw was Kindergarten Cop. I watched it with all of my siblings, which means they were 2, 4, and 6 years younger than me when they saw their first PG-13 movie...because sometimes your standards fall when your family gets bigger. Apparently my standards have fallen, because I let Nic see a movie in the theater- and he isn't even 2 yet! Tommy didn't see a movie in the theater until he was 3. In fact, Tommy didn't even get to watch TV until he turned 2. But, Mom wanted to take Tommy (who currently loves pirates) to see The Pirates! and she didn't think she could do it alone, so I came too. Of course this necessitated bringing the other boys. Thus, Nic got to go to the movies.

This photo is totally unrelated- I think these overalls are so darn cute that they require a picture. Kenny found the camera flash rather upsetting, hence the unhappy face.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Update on Mary: Round Two, Week Three

Mom had a harder week, not because of the chemo, but because of the side effects from some of her medications. It is rather frustrating for her to feel sick from the medication prescribed to make her feel better. As usual, she is feeling much better now- just in time to have chemo and start the cycle all over again.

This week is a long chemo, and we are really praying that she is able to get treatment because after this round of chemo is finished she will go in for a CT scan to check the effect of all of this on her tumor. Last week her white blood cell counts were low, but just high enough to get chemo.

Please pray with us that:

Her white blood count will be high enough to get chemo this week.

The nurses would be able to find a vein easily and quickly.

The side effects of the chemo and other medications would be limited, and that she would not feel nauseous.

Her tumor would shrink, shrink, shrink.

Mom wants you to know that she is extremely grateful for all of your prayers. It seems like everyday someone new tells us they are praying for her, and we are so thankful to know that so many of you are lifting her up in prayer. Your love, support and help continue to make a huge difference as we travel this road.

Armed Forces Day

Last weekend our city held it's annual Armed Forces Day celebration. On Friday we went to an Air Force band concert along with my grandparents, aunt, and cousin. The boys had a wonderful time. After seeing the concert Tommy's new favorite instrument is the trombone, but Nic still prefers percussion over anything else. Mark my words, he's going to be the drummer in the Klug family rock band. After the concert we went see a bunch of military vehicles that were on display. They really enjoyed the tractor and helicopter, and loved that they were allowed to "drive." The big hit was the Air Force rock band- both boys danced up a storm! 

On Saturday we attended the Armed Forces Day parade. Tommy enjoyed seeing all the marching soldiers and the various marching bands. Nic loved the flyovers and waving at just about everyone. Kenny slept...and ate...and slept some more. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kenny's Birthday

The countdown to Kenny's arrival started much earlier than I thought. On the Tuesday before I delivered, at my 38 week appointment, my OB informed me that it looked like the little man might be arriving at any time, and that he figured the next time he saw me would be in the delivery room. I was certainly not prepared to hear that! We arranged for Jeff to come out a bit earlier than we expected, and the wait for Kenny's arrival began. We attempted to prod him along with lots and lots of walking and acupressure, but all that seemed to do was create false contractions. More than once I had contractions all day long that got closer and closer together but then stopped when I went to bed. It was frustrating. I thought that it was happening again when I started having contractions on Sunday night and they seemed to calm down when I went to sleep. However, it turned out that I was having plenty of contractions that night, I just slept through them!

Jeff, Colleen (My SIL and awesome labor coach), and I went to the hospital Monday morning. At 7 (when they got me hooked up to the monitor) my contractions were about five minutes apart and I was 4 to 5 centimeters. They called my OB and he said that since I wasn't on any drugs or anything (and therefore not attached to an IV pole) I could go off the monitors and move around as we waited for things to progress.

After settling into our huge room- it was in the corner and thus afforded us both extra space and privacy- we decided to get walking. We did lap after lap after lap. The rule of thumb at the hospital was that mom could be off-monitor for 50 minutes, then back on for 20 minutes. Of course a few times the nurse got busy while I was on-monitor and I ended up hooked up for a bit longer, but pretty much all day I was off and walking, bouncing on my exercise ball, or doing awkward squats- anything to progress. At first my OB thought things were going to move quickly, so mom came over mid-morning to hang out and make sure she didn't miss anything. Of course, things moved fairly slowly; at noon I was at 6cm, and at 2pm I was at 7. At that point we were sure things would get more interesting...but instead things completely stalled. My contractions got weaker and farther apart. Since I was still not on any medications I kept walking to try and get things moving, but around 3 the monitor showed signs that Kenny was not doing as well as he had been, so I had to lay in bed on my side for him to get better blood flow and perk up a bit. At 4 the OB said it was time for some pitocin, as I was still at 7 cm. Once they give you pitocin you have to stay on monitor and in your room, which I was unhappy about, but I was also getting rather bored with walking the halls and all the waiting. They hooked me up to all the monitors and started the IV, and I took a nice nap. At 5:30 I still hadn't progressed so they broke my water and upped the pitocin dose. That's when things started to get uncomfortable.

Up until about 5:45 I was not in pain at all. Discomfort, sure, but not pain. Then I hit transition. I did not like transition (or know that it was transition since I wasn't getting checked). After another 15 minutes I decided to get an epidural, and that was in place about 6:30. Just in time. After waiting about a half hour for it to fully kick-in, I was fairly convinced that the epidural wasn't properly working, because I was still in a lot of pain on one side....even though my toes were tingling on both sides. I told the nurse, and she said that it might be the baby ready to come out, and it turned out it was. Of course nothing was ready at that point. It probably didn't help that they switch shifts at 7, so the nurse/midwife who ended up coaching me through pushing hadn't settled in and done all her transition checks yet. So I waited and waited for what seemed like forever while they set everything up and called the OB to come so I could start pushing. That got started about 7:30 or so, and Kenneth was born at 7:54. I will spare you the details of that experience.  Probably the most memorable thing to occur during that time was my Dad and Nic walking into the room while I was mid-contraction. Talk about bad timing! Apparently there was a miscommunication and Dad and Kevin thought they were supposed to come to our room, when really they were supposed to go to the waiting room. I'm just thankful that there was a curtain in front of the door, so I don't think they saw anything that might scar Nic for life. It certainly broke my concentration.

The entire time that I was pushing my mom kept yelling, "I see his head! he has hair," "Wow, look at all that hair!," "He has so much hair!" Apparently, Kenneth's full head of hair really surprised her. The thing that surprised me the most was how much Kenny looks like my side of the family. When I first saw him he was looking a little smooshy and puffy and old-manish, and I swear he was the spitting image of Grandpa Cox (his pediatrician who was also our pediatrician growing up claims he actually looks just like Uncle Kevin).

After all my work was done I was ready to eat. I was so so hungry. In fact, at the hospital they have a white board across from the bed with all the nurses info, etc on it. On the side of that my first nurse drew a little baby face to remind me of my goal, then my OB drew a little birthday cake next to that. These were supposed to symbolize my main goal of delivering a healthy baby. I had them draw another picture add my secondary goal- to eat a hamburger. Seriously, I was so hungry.  After delivery the nurse told me that I shouldn't eat because I might get sick, and I told her I would eat a few crackers first but that no one was going to keep me from my burger. And, for the record, guess who ate a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings and did not throw them up? ME. It was glorious.By the time I finished eating Kenny was done with his bath (they don't do baths until after you have finished with your skin to skin time immediately following delivery), and it was time for us to rest and cuddle some more. Also, we took loads of pictures:


More waiting...

He's here!

Not loving his bath...

With Daddy

With Auntie Colleen, Auntie Emily, and Jjaja

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Update on Mary: Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Mom had a rough chemo last week, but she has bounced back- just in time for chemo again this week. Yesterday she felt good enough to get out of the house, so we loaded up the wagon and stroller and walked to our neighborhood park. We had a picnic lunch and flew a new "angry birds" kite. Tomorrow mom will hopefully have chemo again, this time her "easy" chemo. Please pray with us that:

Her white count will be high enough for her to go in and get the chemo.

Her veins will be easy to find and setting up the chemo will go well.

She will not be nauseous after this round of treatment.

She can gain weight. She has been eating a greater varieties of foods, but she is still losing weight. If she loses too much she will not be able to continue the trial.

Praise God that her pain has decreased so much, and that she is getting some appetite back. It is so encouraging to see her polish off a root beer float, and then ask for another!

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Monday, 14 May 2012

On My New Found Respect for Dairy Cows, and Other Things Having a Newborn Has Taught Me

About a week before I gave birth to Kenneth I was talking with a friend who mentioned reading an article about things that moms should "warn" each other about. I forget what points the article focused on, but it wasn't anything that I hadn't heard before. The thing I've found is that when it comes to kids, people can tell you stories to prepare you, but you can't grasp the actual impact that they have until they come. Take breast-feeding. Everyone told me that it would be painful, frustrating, that it might be difficult to establish, and that it takes a lot of time. But I couldn't conceptualize what that meant until I was up at 3:30am in a sleep deprived stupor desperately trying to get a resistant, but obviously hungry child, to latch. Ah, the joys of parenting. Having had one bottle-fed baby, I can testify that while formula is gross smelling and expensive, making a bottle in the middle of the night is easier, faster, and less painful than nursing. Thankfully for Kenneth, I am the cheapest person on earth, and I remember exactly what those cans of formula that Nic guzzled down did to my grocery bills. Thus I am not at all tempted to supplement or switch (so no one needs to send me an email touting the importance of nursing for the baby's and mother's health- I know and I am convinced that it's best). But I would be concealing the truth if I didn't admit that nursing is hard to do at first, and rather boring. Another thing I didn't fully comprehend was how much laundry a seven-pound person can generate. Kenneth somehow manages to dirty more clothes, sheets, blankets and towels than the rest of us combined. I'm beginning to think of the wash as my personal many-headed hydra. Every time I finish one load another springs up to take it's place! I used to do laundry once a week, and get it all knocked out in one day. No more. I'm doing a load every single day, and actually have found that this is working well. Life is easier when you have a washer and dryer in your living quarters. I am going to have a rude awakening when we get back to Illinois and I am feeding quarters into a shared machine. Also, my neighbors are going to HATE me for being a laundry hog, and our family is going to single-handedly pay for those new machines our landlord just installed. My last new-at-parenting-a-newborn complaint relates to how quickly we are burning through our diaper stash. We decided to use disposables for a little while, since the number of cloth diapers we have is not enough for both Nic and Kenny, and since Kenny still too small for the types I use (he needs to be 8 pounds at least). With my cloth diapers I don't really think about how many we use a day, because when the supply gets low I wash them and then we use them again. I thought that we had lots and lots of disposables, but my ideas regarding the necessary number of diapers were based on Nic...and older babies/toddlers just don't use as many and their teeny tiny counterparts. It just seems so backwards! Smaller people should make smaller messes...and yet the opposite is true. Lest you get the wrong idea, we are really enjoying Kenneth. He is a very sweet baby, and while I have nothing to compare him to, I would guess that he falls towards the easy side of the newborn spectrum rather than the far. His pediatrician has warned me that he is about the age for getting really fussy, so we'll see how that pans out. Kenny is a good cuddler, he is patient with his big brothers (whose love for him sometimes doesn't translate well), and he has all kinds of super cute facial expressions, especially when he is dreaming. Since certain older boys no longer appreciate me picking out adorable outfits for them, I am having a grand old time dressing the little guy up in his itty bitty clothes and wrapping him up in matching blankets. This may account for a bit of extra laundry...although I choose to blame the spit up. He had his two-week appointment today, and he has surpassed his birth weight (barely), but I am thankful that he is gaining back all the weight he lost. He is still a little jaundiced, and had to have a blood test today, but the results came back in his favor. Jeff went home yesterday, so I am doing nights on my own now. I am really missing him, as he is a great dad and did so much to care for the boys the last two weeks. Please pray that Kenneth will get some good chunks of sleep each night so that I can rest as well, and that the big boys sleep well too. I need as much energy as I can get at this point. Also, I had an unfortunate setback in my recovery, and it has limited some of my ability to keep up with the big boys, so I would appreciate prayers for my strength and recovery.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Update on Mary: Chemo, Round 2!

Great news: Mom's white counts are up and she was able to start her second round of chemo today. She also had the opportunity to meet with her doctor, and he was very encouraged by her improvement. He also explained (to our relief) that missing a week of chemo here or there due to low white counts is not uncommon and it really doesn't make a difference in the long run. If white counts continue to be a problem for mom, she has the option of reducing the potency of her chemotherapy drugs, which would allow her to continue her treatment. She is currently schedule for a CT scan the first week of June, which will provide insight into how the tumor is reacting to chemo. Of course, she only gets the scan if she can complete chemo next week and the week please continue to pray for those white counts! Thank you for all your prayers over the last week- they worked! Mom in her "fighting" stance, wearing her new mighty mouse shirt (special chemo-wear courtesy of Emily):

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A Brief Update

Right now Kenny is sleeping happily on my chest, an activity he loves to do all morning, afternoon, and evening. Now if only I could convince him that he should actually be doing this at NIGHT. Jeff and I are trying to figure out a routine so that both of us can get a little more sleep, although I imagine that will take some time. Kenny went to his first doctor's appointment yesterday. He has lost a little weight, which didn't shock me because I struggled to get him to eat his first day home. However my milk is coming in and he is eating more, so he should be plumping up soon. He is also a little jaundiced, so we have to go back in for another check on Monday. He is otherwise doing quite well. The big boys are fascinated by him, and are delighting in being big brothers and big helpers. They are both having some adjustment issues, but nothing more than what we expected, and hopefully this will continue. Jeff and I are really trying to make sure they get some special time and attention, which has been hard to do the last few days, but should get easier as we figure out and settle into our new normal.I've felt better in my life. Delivering a baby is not the most physically pleasant experience. I'll leave it at that.