Saturday, October 25, 2014

gassy smiles...

today I've felt even better than yesterday!  my headache is now simply a headache! my back is sore and tight- but life is good.  thank you so much for the prayers still coming.  they are working :) 

Last night was our church 'trunk or treat' with the local Japanese congregation! I'm so sad that I missed it!  the Americans brought their best chilis and the Japanese brought their best curries! and all sorts of fabulous goodies (that metta was VERY particular about accepting) were handed out!  my kids got some pretty fabulous Japanese treats!  

I think my kiddos got 8 or 9 of these things.

best we can tell- it is one giant cheeto puff.  but the flavors are all over the place.  one looked like corn flavor.  another was definitely fish of some sort.  they also come in cheese and barbecue.  I don't think they are half bad :) the kids are leery.

Metta has had a rough week.  she really is a momma's girl and has been thrown off her game the past seven days.  Kent said she was super manic at the party.  either really happy or really sad!  she talks a lot about 'going home' whenever she is out and about!  Hopefully this week we can all readjust.

These pictures are just moments apart :)

 but look at her hair.  kent has spent considerable time this week on the internet/pinterest learning how to do hair and I'm incredibly impressed!  He knows that one of my biggest fears is sending metta out without her hair done!!  she STILL has such a david bowie mullet and it looks so trashy when it isn't up :)  it means a lot that he was so willing to do it when I couldn't.  he told me he 'really wants to learn to french braid'.  I don't even know how to french braid.

The japanese sure know how to throw a party!  I'm pretty sure they did the decorating at the church.  it was covered in giant cockroaches :)  

 I must also recognize kent's other incredible parenting skills.  Kent is my lifesaver when it comes to newborns in general. and even more so this time around.  He loves to have them sleep on his chest all curled up.  Pretend that's not a bad thing for a pediatrician to do and realize that is saves us both HOURS of sleep :)

 the past four nights he has taken all night feeding duties since I couldn't even sit up.  I nursed this little guy the first few nights of life - but when my headache showed up- nursing was the WORST position imaginable and I could not even attempt it.  Can I just say having mack on the bottle has been the most helpful and stress relieving part of all of this.  I am so much happier this way. which makes all of us so much happier :)

I've been able to rest and enjoy finally holding this little munchkin today while kent took the family to church.  Being able to hold him and relax has been an answer to my prayers.  Maybe baby mack can finally start imprinting on his real mom :)  and vice versa :)  I even got to see his first gassy smile today.  I hadn't seen a single one yet.

 do you think he might have red hair like metta!??  It's pretty light - but looking at metta's pictures from her first few weeks- I think they look pretty darn similar in coloring!  I would LOVE another redhead!!!  I also think he looks A LOT like her in general in the baby pics.

the pain!!

oh. my. hell.  
literally.  the last six days have been my personal hell.  I can honestly say they were the hardest six days of my life. EVER.  and I'm going to blog about it because that's what I do :)  I blog. and it's a long dramatic story- so skip it if you want!!

After the epidural attempts from labor turned into a spinal puncture- the anesthesiologist talked to me about the risks of a spinal headache.  The needle used to place an epidural is WAY too big to be used for a spinal.  So- the hole in my spinal dura would be leaking csf (cerebral spinal fluid) and would create a low pressure change in my brain and spinal cavities which often results in headaches.  They can be mild to severe.  He started me on tons of fluids and caffeine.  I don't drink caffeine- EVER- so being on several hundred mg/day made me a little shaky.

After my labor and delivery- I was fine for a few hours.  The first night I had some intense leg and hip discomfort but it could be resolved if I sat in a certain position. I also had a headache- but I'd just birthed an almost 8 pound human so that was to be expected.  It felt more like a tension/stress headache and I thought for sure it was caused by being in the hunched over epidural position while dilating from a 5 to a ten.

I only stayed at the hospital 24 hours- and checked out Monday evening (I delivered sunday evening).  The night we checked out I was feeling a little strange- but it was mostly a neckache.  When we got home it started hurting really bad- but kent rubbed it out and I went to sleep.  

Kent left to work the next morning and I was doing alright for a few hours.  Around lunch time I started having such severe neck pain that I was moaning and couldn't do anything besides sit perfectly still.  I texted him thinking it was severe neck muscle spasms and tension and asked him to talk to my OB about it.  It was beginning to be unbearable. I decided to lie down and could find some relief.  That's the number one indicator of a spinal headache.  unfortunately nothing could take away the severe neck pain.  It was beginning to radiate down my lower back.

I don't like pain meds. AT ALL. I've taken them once after I got my gall bladder out and stopped as soon as I realized they were making me worse.  Tuesday early afternoon I texted kent and told him I HAD to have something or I might die.  He brought home a combination of heavy meds (prescribed by my OB).  I took them without a second thought because I NEEDED relief.  and then I crashed.  and went to bed.  I woke up around 2 AM to feed baby Mack and once I was up and trying to feed him- I thought I was going to DIE again.  My neck was about to explode.  the tension and pressure were so intense I couldn't bear it.  I cried out for kent to get me more meds.  I could only lie flat on my stomach because it situated my neck in such a way that pressure was relieved.  I crashed again.
that morning kent got the boys' lunches ready for school and told me he was heading to work at about 7:20.  I crawled down the stairs at 7:45 and saw the boys out the door.  they were pretty concerned. 

Everything got worse from there.  I tried to help metta and mack- but couldn't do much.  I was prostrate on the floor in tears.  at 8:30- kent texted to remind me about mack's appt at 9:30 and I told him there was no way I could make it.  Strangely enough kent's morning appointments had just been cancelled because he was needed to take a transport ambulance to tokyo to pick up a patient to bring back to the base.  He had an hour before he had to leave so he came home to check on me.  I've never felt like this before.  I don't think you can explain it unless you've felt it.  I've been through A LOT of painful things.  Kidney infections, five root canals, gall bladder attacks, broken bones, UTIs, CHILDBIRTH :)  ,etc.  This is in an entirely different league.  a different type of pain. I don't really believe in ranking pain as one being harder than the other because they are all so different.  But I will tell you- this is there at the top of the worst things I have ever endured.  

A neighbor came over to take metta and the baby and Kent took me to the base Urgent care (ER).  I was pretty pathetic.  They asked me if I was in any pain. and then if I was taking any meds.  ha!  I rattled off 5 or 6 meds.  told him my pain was at a 10.  and then I asked to lay down on a bed.  that is the one beautiful thing about the spinal headache.  I could alleviate much of the pain if I was flat.  they also gave me some more meds- although I don't think they did anything to help.

laney called and facetimed me in the er.  and made sure to post a pic of the convo on facebook :)  

the er doc called the anesthesiologist and they decided to do what is called  a blood patch procedure. 
  I'd heard about them and they are supposed to be the gold standard in treating spinal headaches so I was ALL FOR IT!  I was readmitted upstairs and got an epidural. Only instead of injecting meds into the epidural space- they take blood out of my arm and immediately re-inject it into my back.  the blood patches the hole in my dura and helps reestablish the pressure differential.  I realized that an epidural attempt got me into this mess in the first place- but I was DYING,

 kent's partner doc ended up cancelling the peds clinic for the day and went to tokyo for the ambulance transfer so kent could stay with me.  He works with some pretty great people. 

the blood patch worked almost immediately.  the neck ache was gone. the headache was gone. I could stand.  I could think. I could be me!   here I am post procedure!  I was a little loopy from all of the meds. When I'm loopy - I lose the small filter I usually have. I had forgotten my ID in all of the mess and they wanted it to do the procedure- but the anesthesiologist told the other doc: "she is who she says she is.  I know her!" to which I responded; "oh yeah- do recognize all the holes in my back?"  Ha!  I thought it was pretty funny.  the er doc said I looked like a pin cushion.  There are seven holes back there!!

I slept well that night and kent went to work in the morning.  and then I started hurting again. it all came back. and I have NO idea why.  sometimes the patch doesn't hold.  Kent had an admin afternoon and came home.  I went to bed and stayed there for 18 hours.  there is NOTHING harder for me in this world than doing nothing.  and in all of the pain I was irrational.  I thought I'd be in chronic pain the rest of my life.  I was so scared. the internet convinced me I'd never get better.  I was sure I would never be able to run again!! every time I'd go to the bathroom- the pain would come all over again. I'd try to feed mack. I'd try to help metta change her clothes but I couldn't do ANYthing. I decided we were not having any more children ever.  

friday- kent went to work and friends from church came and took all of my children.  I layed on the floor of my house for 18 hours with lots of tears.  But that baby mack was held more in the past six days than he will be the next month combined :)  I am so grateful for the help.  People came into my home and filled my fridge with food, and fed and held my baby, and took my kids when I could not.  I am forever grateful to these people.  I have never been so dependent on others in my life.  I was so homesick for family. and my friends in ohio.  but so many people took care of us here. 

kent spoke to the anesthesiologists at the hospital, I talked to friends who had gone through this, and I consulted a fabulous anesthesiologist friend from our toledo days.  Kent and I decided we'd wait it out instead of trying for another epidural blood procedure. it would heal- but could take another full week.

Today is Saturday.  I woke up and didn't want to die.  I can sit up without crying.  I'm still in pain - but I can breathe.   My spinal headache is subsiding!!!!  and I am so grateful. and so happy.  I'm sad to be missing the church halloween party- but kent is there with the kiddos and I am here well enough to blog! 

I think I still have a longer recovery to go through than normal.  Kent is going to have to remind me of that. to slow down and let myself heal. 

I even felt good enough to get some pictures of baby mack!  I'm so sad I missed out on the first six days of his life in pictures!!

I really am grateful for fabulous doctors who got us through all of this.   I don't blame the anesthesiologist.  This is one of the most common risks of epidurals- an ELECTIVE procedure.  and I would get another.

 and I realize that pain is part of life.  as cliche as it sounds- this has made me realize just how amazing our bodies are.  and it has made me ever so grateful for my health.  You take for granted the miracle of your body when it is in good working order!
It also made me realize how weak and strong I am.  I spent a lot of time in prayer- trying to find strength and hope to not give up.  There is nothing like debilitating pain to bring me to some pretty intense humility.  I'm grateful for the many many prayers I know were offered in my behalf :)

oh and my final epiphany- I might just have a fifth child.  maybe. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


7 lbs 14 oz
length undetermined :)  the pediatrician got distracted. 

Okay, he finally has a name.

Mclean Ryu Miller
also known as 
"Mack the Dragon".

We'll call him Mack for short.  

Mclean is the last name of my great grandparents from Rockland, ID. Hortense and Melvin.    Two of the most wonderful, hard working, funny and optimistic people I've ever known.  Grandma said that if anybody named their child after her (Hortense) she'd never speak to them again!  I hope she doesn't mind us using Mclean.

Ryu is a boy's name that means 'dragon' in Japanese. we really like it. and the kanji for it is pretty awesome, too.

Holy Smokes.  What an outrageous three days.  The top picture is one of the only pictures I've taken of the kid- and if you know me- I tend to take a lot of pictures!  It's just that I've been slightly preoccupied. with pain and exhaustion and the inability to move.

Here's one from the hospital bed :)  

Sunday morning- just as I'd checked in to the hospital to have this little monkey- I thought to myself: "this is going to be a pretty boring birth story".  Boy- was I wrong.    I had the whole thing planned out.  The induction scheduled.  everything was to go perfectly.  

Kent dropped me off at the hospital and took the kids over to church where he stayed for an hour to play the organ.  He left the boys with friends- took Metta to another friend's house for the day- and then returned to the hospital to be with me.

I'd started pitocin around nine AM and when he arrived around 11 I was feeling some contractions- but nothing significant.   He read a book on endocrinology while I read some general conference talks to make up for missing church :)  the nurse asked about specifics for our birth plan and I responded that the only thing I cared about was getting an epidural,  She laughed and said I'd be fine.

I was getting induced because I'm very afraid of not getting an epidural.  Ike's labor was so fast I didn't get one until I was dilated to a 10.  and it was terrible. I was so scared. I had PTSD from it a little.  It really truly is a fear for me.  I was induced with metta and I got the epidural in good time so I planned for it again.  

Around 12:30- I had progressed to a 4.  I should have asked for an epidural then.  I KNOW I am a crazy fast laborer.  that's why I was getting induced!!  but the contractions still weren't even bothersome.

At about 1:30 I decided I was getting uncomfortable. I called for the anesthesiologist at 1:45.

It took him a few minutes to get there but he showed up just as I really needed him.  perfect timing.

And then it all began.  my nightmare scenario.  in real life.

He set up shop and talked  a few things over with me.  It was 2:30. he got started.  Only something was wrong.  It was taking time- longer than usual. and he kept asking me to arch my back a little more.  relax my shoulders again.  chin down further. 

and then he started mumbling something about "os, os, os".  bone, bone, bone.

the contractions were strong- but still manageable.

after about 15-20 minutes he stood up and did a little walk around the room.  "are you a dancer?" he asked.  "Are you a swimmer?"  I told him I ran a lot- and did spin- but I did not dance or swim.  He came back and tried again. and again. and again.

I have NO idea what was wrong.  He just kept hitting bone and could NOT get into my epidural space.  At first I was fine- not too worried. I'd done this easily three times before.  NO PROBLEM.  and then suddenly about 30 minutes into it- the contractions started to hit me hard.  I sat hunched over "like a cooked shrimp" (his words) for almost 80 minutes.  I was so focused on him getting the epidural in. I was SO TENSE!  the contractions were hurting badly and I was stuck in this awkward position literally PRAYING over and over that it would finally work. I held kent's hand and sqeezed it so tight through each contraction.  I had stopped talking.  

The OB came in and was watching the baby's stats.  They were starting to get worrisome- so I had to put on oxygen.  At this point I was a little frantic- but remained as still as I could hoping and still praying over and over that the epidural would GO IN.  Kent could tell I was really stressed and in immense pain. He was stressed for me. and now was starting to worry about the baby.

Near the 80 minute mark- I felt a ZAP down my leg/ And the anesthesiologist moaned. I was between contractions and asked what had happened.  He told me he'd accidentally punctured the dura of my spine.  gone past where the epidural should go. I had no idea what that meant. I asked if that was okay and if it would still work.  I was still dying and in so much pain.

The contractions at this point were torturous.  I was miserable and wanted out.  He told me he'd just given me a spinal- like for a c-section- but that the needle was way too big for that and now I had a big hole in my dura.  I only cared about the drugs!  could I get the spinal!? was it going to work!?  could he take the pain away!?  I was DYING.  no tears. no screaming. just true fear that I was going to have to do this alone.  

He told me he would leave in the catheter- but didn't have the right meds. He'd be right back and bring  fentanyl.  It was 100 times more powerful than morphine.  I told him I'd take it!  and then my water exploded just as a contraction started. and the OB saw my face and saw the baby's vitals and made me roll over to push. My water was tainted with meconium and the baby's stats were still rocky.  Kent had a slight;y nervous look on his face and the OB looked stressed.  I asked my doc if he was nervous.  He said: "a little".  
Side note: I really loved my OB.  he was honest and great and from poland :)

  I was totally ready to go. The baby was engaging.  AHHHHHH.  those next contractions were indescribable.   Unless you've been there- you will never ever know.  and I never ever wanted to know.  The anesthesiologist pumped a small dose of the fentanyl into the cath as I started pushing.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Pushing out a baby is INSANE. and so terrible.  The OB and especially Kent were so impressed with my pushes.  I just wanted to be FINISHED!!  It hurt so bad. and then there was a baby head,  Kent asked of there was a nuchal cord (around the neck).  At first they said no- but then they realized there was and it was so tight they couldn't get it off  Dr. M told me to stop pushing.  HA! stop?!  my body felt like it was heaving everything out of itself.  He cut the cord off the neck before it was fully delivered because he couldn't get it off with his hands.  and then out came the rest of the baby with a final giant heave from me.  3:51. I was SO RELIEVED. it was OVER. 

Kent's face was mortified.  and the other pediatrician wasn't there yet because it had all happened so fast,  The baby wasn't really reacting.  low tone. terrible color. no crying.  the anesthesiologist grabbed the baby and told kent he needed his help.  Poor kent.  I don't think he'd planned on resuscitation of his own kiddo.  we were really lucky to have the anesthesiologist there  He intubated baby Mack and tried clearing his airway.  It took a few minutes and then I heard what sounded like a baby kitten.  some soft itty bitty cries.  and then just another minute later- some better sounding cries.  he was just fine.  and honestly- I was never worried.  There were several very compentent medical professionals working on the baby.  Kent says he thought for sure he'd be taking the baby and an ambulance to a a japanese NICU!!

baby Mack was bruised and ugly and purple faced.  and things were so stressful that we didn't even get the camera out until later!  I ended up getting some local anesthetic so they could finish everything with me.  Kent stayed with the baby to make sure he was fine.

It was long and terrible and hard.  and I never want to do it again. The anesthesiologist congratulated me on a drugfree child birth,  I think the fentanyl took the edge off there at the end- but it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. and terrible.  did I mention terrible??

I've got lots more story to tell.and it only gets worse (and better)!  it will have to wait. I am exhausted.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

waiting it out....

I'm sitting here - alone- waiting for Phanfone to hit!  Kent is in Tokyo for his pediatric boards.  and I'll be mighty mad if he doesn't get to take them!  tomorrow is a 'typhoon day" so if he were here- he'd have the day off to spend with us!!!  and if the testing center has to close- we aren't sure what they'll do.  it's a nationally certified medical board exam and there are very specific  rules about the day it can be taken!!
I can't believe the timing of this huge storm.  It's the equivalent of a category 4 hurricane.  which is huge. and It's set to hit Tokyo between 6-8 AM.  literally the exact time he'll be trying to get to his test and get started.  As soon as it's over- it will be a great story.  the time he had to take the biggest test of his life in a giant typhoon!!  for now- it's a little stressful. 

 Luckily - he's with another pediatrician friend from Dayton and they are checked into the New Sanno hotel and all hunkered down for the night.  Send some prayers their way that everything will work out.  
my job is to not have a typhoon baby.  I'd have to give it some outrageous name like 'stormy' or 'phanfone'- and I don't really want to do that.

So- I'm blogging to keep me distracted and pass the time!

I've had these pictures on my computer for a few weeks now and just haven't gotten around to getting them posted.  We had some great adventures yesterday and maybe I'll get those posted during our mandatory stay inside day tomorrow.

A few weeks ago- the base had their annual friendship festival where they invite the Japanese community to come on base and see our planes and eat american food!  the line for the steak and corn on the cob meal was INSANE!  an we were there at 9 in the morning!  It was such a hot and muggy day.  and there were so so so many people.  we didn't stay long!  heat, humidity, and long lines are NOT my thing. 

 the kiddos got to sit in a few helicopters and were happy.

 metta loves to give thumbs up and peace signs- but it still requires a lot of concentration and effort on her part.  it's adorable.
 later that day- things cooled off and we finally checked out Showa Park- an amazing gigantic park nearby.
 the only unfortunate aspect of Showa is how LARGE it is.  we WALKED and WALKEd and WALKED.  next time we'll rent bikes!  the kids got pretty irritated and exhausted until we found the playgrounds.  and then suddenly they had plenty of energy and their legs were functioning perfectly.  I don't blame them.  It was awesome.

the Japanese have figured out so many ways to make slides.  They use every material imaginable.  It makes every park pretty exciting and new.  

and these giant bouncy nets?!   it's like a giant game of spiderman.  so so cool.

 I LOVE this picture.  they had a lot of fun playing with the Japanese kids. look at their faces!! Laughter is a universal language.
this park had some spots that were reminiscent of mayan temples.  never fail- every single place we go- has  ZILLIONS of stairs.  I love it.

look how tropical it is!
 after the nets - we stumbled upon the dragon playground. can you see metta??  these things are HUMONGOUS.

and probably pretty dangerous!  but- super fun.  I'm a very non helicopter type parent so I just think all of these places are pretty neato.

and yet another amazing slide.  we passed this one after we'd already been there for several hours and were finally headed back to the car.  the kids begged to stop and play more!  at this point Kent and I were exhausted.  I can't believe how much energy they have when the fun stuff shows up.

these last pictures are of miss metta early this week. she's done this about 3 times in her life- but this week was the worst. I try to wake her up in the morning and I CAN'T! She will not open her eyes for anything.  she slept until noon this day.

 she does this creepy half eye open sleep.  she's done it since she was born.
 we took the boys to school and she slept in the stroller.  I even went on an hour run!!

I dressed her.  and tried to feed her and get her to use the toilet.
kent came home at lunch to check on her just to make sure nothing was really wrong!  I wasn't terribly concerned- but it was time for her to get up!

he finally got her up and she was just a little groggy.
I think she's going through a growth spurt.  she's been eating like CRAZY, too.