31 December 2015

2015 - In Review

I always love to look back on my previous year and reflect on the ups and downs. When I think back on 2015 all the things that pop into my head are "Difficult pregnancy and baby with a hear defect." And obviously, that was a huge part of my year. But I did not just sit around twiddling my thumbs while waiting for Trixie's arrival. Life was lived!

Of course, the biggest highlight was having Trixie. Her heart defect threw us for a loop, but it also blessed our family in many ways. We are so grateful to have her in our family, and we have felt the love of God in countless ways since learning of her diagnosis and welcoming her to our family.

I counted 36 medical and dental appointments on my 2015 calendar, and I know there were a few I missed. Many of those were pregnancy-related checkups, but it still adds up to a lot of time in doctors' offices. I'm crossing my fingers for fewer appointments in 2016.

Places in 2016:
  • Utah
  • Hawaii (No kids!)
  • Nevada (just drove through)
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington (just drove through)
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
Fun activities:
  • Camping! And lots of it. We camped in Utah, California, Oregon, and Wyoming.
  • Biked the Hiawatha Trail. It was challenging and fun. We'd like to do it again one day when the kids are bigger.
  • Swimming in the ocean, both in Hawaii, and a little bit off the Oregon coast.
  • Canoeing! So much canoeing! Rivers included:
    • Trinity River in Northern California
    • Smith River in Northern California
    • Rogue River in Oregon
    • Nehalem River in Oregon
    • Spokane River in Idaho
    • Snake River in Wyoming
    • Jordan River
    • Provo River (But I had just had a baby, so I was absent for this one. The boys had fun though.)
    • Colorado River (But I had just had a baby, so I was absent for this one too.)
    • Clark Fork River in Montana
Other noteworthy things for 2015:
  • I turned 31. Eric and I went out for burgers at Five Guys, and then we did a little shopping.
  • Our family birthdays are now August, September, October, November, and December, with Trixie being in August. The farther away we got from her actual day of birth, the more capable we were of doing fun things for the other birthdays. Eric's birthday in September was an afterthought. Sorry, dude.
  • We started going to Cold Stone to use our buy-one-get-one coupons. Best tradition ever.
  • Ike had a his first-ever birthday party with friends, and it was a lot of fun. Eric was a terrific party entertainer.
Goals for 2016:
  • Keep Trixie healthy for the remainder of flu/cold/RSV season.
  • Resume making bread for the family. (Totally stopped that early in 2015 and haven't been able to get going again.)
  • Read all the books for book group. (I read most for 2015. I think I skipped out on the months when I knew I couldn't attend.)
  • Host a meal for parents and families at the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Primary Children's Hospital.

09 December 2015

Ike is Five

It happened on Sunday: Ike turned five. I've tried not to spend too much time wondering how this happened.
At five years old, Ike is sometimes a pill, but I'm not going to focus on the negative things in this post.

Ike is a great older brother, especially to his baby sister. He loves her so much, and it is adorable to watch. He also loves Felix, and they usually play incredibly well together. I recently heard him negotiating with Felix to take turns with something, and I was really impressed and pleased that he is learning to work things out when they disagree rather than fight or bring their issue to me.

Ike's favorite thing to do is play with friends. He will go from one house to the next, to the next, to the next, all day long, if I let him. From his friends, he has learned about a lot of pop culture things like Star Wars, Avengers, zombies, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and ninjas. We don't watch many shows, and we heavily sensor what few shows the kids see on Netflix, so some of the things he tells us about those shows and their characters has been surprising. One day we'll happily watch Star Wars with him, but right now we think he is too little.

His favorite toys are his dinosaurs, and I enjoyed putting the dimetrodon puzzle (pictured above) together with him. (Eric picked it up, brand new and unopened at a yard sale several months ago. Woot!) He also loves his Hot Wheels race track and his wooden trains.

All of Ike's teachers (at Primary, tumbling class, and pre-school) tell me that he is exceptionally well-behaved and polite. Other parents also have commented on how polite he is. This is both thrilling and baffling to me. Thrilling for obvious reasons, and baffling because he can be such a stinker with us sometimes!

I sure do love this little boy of mine. He is so fun and such a good helper. I look forward to seeing how he grows and develops over the next year as he starts public school.

30 November 2015

Trixie: Three Months

I feel like I could copy and paste from the two month summary with very little changes.

One big update is that her heart is improving. The cardiologist was really impressed with how her heart is working right now, and we anticipate that it will continue to gradually improve for a while. At some point she will need more procedures (like a valve replacement), but right now that appears to be years down the road rather than months. We are incredibly grateful for that.

Trixie is still a night owl, but once she is finally down for the night, she usually sleeps for about 8 hours, give or take an hour.

This month she has started smiling more frequently, and we all enjoy that. She still loves the ceiling fan and flails with excitement when we turn it on. When it is not on it she stares at it with anticipation.

Ike is still Trixie's biggest fan. He adores her and is constantly in her face trying to amuse her or something - I'm not really sure what his deal is. Felix likes her well enough, but he has ordered me to put her in a her bed a handful of times this past month. At the same time, he is protective of her and does not like her to get shots (which we do at least once a month because she gets extra vaccinations), and he regularly tells me that our baby is the cutest or best baby in the world. (His neighbor friend across the street, Charlotte, has the second cutest baby.)

Yesterday was her blessing day, and Eric gave her a beautiful baby blessing. She wore the dress that I wore nearly 31 years ago, and which my mom made for me. My mom couldn't be there, so it was nice to have this little heirloom.

Anyone who can get my kids to cooperate for pictures deserves their weight in gold. 

01 November 2015

Trixie: Two Months

With my first two babies, I've felt like 6 weeks is the magical time when I've adjusted to the new baby and life has reached a level of normalcy. Somehow, miraculously, I've felt like that with Trixie for about the last month.

Though she doesn't like to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, once she does go to sleep, she usually sleeps well, and that has been a great blessing for us. Most nights I get at least a six-hour stretch. We've had a few rough nights where she doesn't settle down until after midnight, but by and large, Trixie is a pretty good sleeper.

Trixie loves to eat and weighed 11 pounds and 12 ounces at her checkup last week. She turned beet red with anger when she got her shots. I nursed her for a couple of minutes afterwards, and all was well. Nursing solves nearly all her problems.

She started smiling this month, which has been delightful for everyone, especially Ike. He really adores his baby sister and loves to take any opportunity to touch her, cuddle her, and try to get her attention. Felix likes her too, but not quite as much as Ike does. On Sunday our bishop asked Felix if he would teach his baby sister about Jesus, and Felix talked to her for a few minutes about Jesus when we got home. It was really sweet.

Trixie is still on oxygen all the time (except I took it off for a few minutes to get a couple of pictures). I've taken her off her oxygen for short periods of time to see check her saturation levels without it, and she definitely needs it. Our next follow-up with a cardiologist is this month, and I think he'll confirm my suspicion that she will be on oxygen for several months. Having to haul an oxygen tank around when we go out is a bit of a pain, but it's become our routine, and I hardly notice it anymore. Having Trixie hooked up to the oxygen concentrator at home is also such a part of our lives that I don't notice the sound anymore.

06 October 2015

Felix Is Three

He is smaller than most two-year-olds, but he's definitely three. Felix loves:
  • Cooking and baking with me, especially when he gets to taste things. He is an adventurous eater and loves vegetables. He had a picky phase around two, but he is now probably the best three-year-old in the world when it comes to eating . For example, he loves to eat onions as I slice them.
  • His blue blanket. I have to be sneaky to get it washed.
  • Playing with his brother and other neighborhood kids.
  • Singing.
  • Potty humor.
  • Repeating everything his brother says.
  • Taking baths, unless we want to wash is hair.
  • Most things dealing with personal grooming, especially putting on lotion.
  • Loading his own clothes into the washer.
  • Going places as a family, especially the Thanksgiving Point Gardens and the aquarium.
  • Nursery.

Felix tends to be fairly shy, but sometimes he surprises me with how willing he is to engage with new people. He is, for a three-year-old boy, quite sensitive to other people's feelings. He cried more at watching Ike's reaction to his flu shot than he did for his own shot.

He loves to dress himself and usually has an article of clothing on inside out or backwards. (In the picture above his flip flops are on the wrong feet.) He has the capability to be a good helper but usually insists that he cannot help because he's "busy," or because, "that might be weird." He gets lots of his prepositions and pronouns mixed up. (The other day, when I called his sister "chubby baby" he said, "She's name is not Chubby Baby! She's name is Trixie!")

We love this little boy and feel lucky to have him in our family.

01 October 2015

Trixie: One Month

This month has flown by. Trixie is a sweet and cuddly baby. She loves breastfeeding (and bottles too, occasionally), which explains why she is getting so chubby. Trixie also loves sleeping (we've gotten a few stretches of 5+ hours, and one that was about 7) and watching the ceiling fan. She is still on oxygen, but I had to replace her grippers recently and took the opportunity to get some cannula-free pictures. She is such a doll. Our whole family loves her.

28 September 2015

Thoughts on the CICU

Trixie has been home from the hospital for about three weeks. Having her home seems so natural, and I've loved how quickly the boys have adjusted to her being in our family. Even Felix, who at first was not really thrilled about having her around, always makes sure that Trixie comes with us if our family is going somewhere. (We haven't ever come even close to forgetting her, but even if we did, Felix would remind us frequently that the baby should come with us.)

In the time since we've been home, I've thought a lot about her time in the hospital, especially the days in the CICU. I have been filled with gratitude for all the things that went well for us while we were there.

First of all, I'm constantly in awe of the nurses, both in the CICU and on our regular floor. I never once encountered a nurse who was rude, rushed, abrasive, inconsiderate, or indifferent. They were always willing to answer my questions, and I ask a lot of questions. They were always helpful in every way, and I felt confident that even when I wasn't around they were doing their best for my daughter. It was such a reassuring feeling to know she was always in good hands.

While in the CICU I ran into a lady from my neighborhood whose son was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Basically, the left side of his heart didn't function, and he required major surgery a few days after he was born. I didn't know the woman personally, but I recognized her, and it turned out she knew my boys because she was friends with their babysitter. The day after Trixie was moved out of the CICU to a regular floor another boy from our neighborhood was admitted to the CICU. He was born with coarctation of the aorta, which means the aorta was too narrow, and he also required open heart surgery. Again, I did not know this family personally, but I recognized them, and I know they are also friends with my boys' babysitter.

Neither of these families knew their sons had heart defects until after birth. (I'm not sure how they missed the hypoplastic heart in the ultrasounds.) Both boys were life-flighted to the hospital shortly after birth. I can't imagine how frightening the whole experience must have been for both families. It made me all the more grateful that Trixie's heart defect was detected early, and that we could avoid open heart surgery for a while.

I witnessed some great sadness in the hospital. I saw a woman weeping in the elevator. The one night I stayed in one of the sleep rooms attached to the ICU waiting room I was awoken by a waiting family sobbing. I had noticed them there quite late in the evening, and I figured that a loved young person had either been in an accident or had taken a turn for the worse. Hearing their sorrow in the middle of the night was absolutely gut-wrenching and is something I will never forget. This was less than 48 hours after Trixie's catheter procedure, and it made me so grateful that everything had gone so well for her.

The next morning in the CICU I watched as doctors and nurses literally ran to treat a baby who had gone "code blue." Again, it was a very traumatic scene for me, and I didn't even know the child or her family. It was short, and the doctors were able to revive her quickly, but  it was a scene that I will never forget. And for the second time in only a matter of hours, it made me grateful that my little one was doing so well.

I don't know that I'm usually comforted by "it could be worse" scenarios, but spending time in the CICU had that effect on me. I know that eventually we'll be back there. Treating Trixie's heart defect is something that will go on over the course of her life. Still, I'm grateful that her heart condition was detected early and is so treatable. Her life as a newborn right now is pretty normal, and it will continue to be fairly normal. I really can't ask for more.

09 September 2015

Trixie's First Week

After a whirlwind week, Trixie was released from the hospital on Sunday, six days after she was born. This was much sooner than the original estimate of two to three weeks, and also shorter than later estimates of a week and a half to two weeks. I posted about Trixie on Facebook and Instagram during her first week, but I thought I'd also provide a brief summary of her week here.

Monday - Trixie was born and taken (fairly soon after birth) to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Primary Children's Hospital (PCH). The doctors performed an echocardiogram, and it essentially confirmed the diagnosis she'd received in utero. Thankfully, this echo showed that her pulmonary valve was not 100% obstructed, and there was a very small opening in the valve. This was good news for the procedure that would be performed. The doctors indicated on Monday evening that her procedure (through a catheter in her leg) would be performed on Tuesday. This was my first time to encounter doctors other than the one I had met while I was pregnant.

Tuesday - The team of cardiologists, including the doctor who would perform her catheter procedure, consulted together and determined the best course of action would be to wait another day before performing the procedure. Because of the hormone she was on (that was keeping her heart shortcuts open), she had frequent apnea and would stop breathing momentarily. The doctors put her on a high-flow nasal cannula, which made it harder for her to stop breathing. Her episodes of apnea greatly diminished.

We met a lot more doctors that day. It was interesting to hear different explanations for what was going on with her and what the possible outcomes were. I realized that the doctor I'd met with twice while still pregnant is definitely one of the more positive and optimistic of the team. Others were more cautious and more prone to give us the worst case scenarios. I appreciated having the different perspectives, and it helped me to fully grasp all the possible outcomes for Trixie.

Wednesday - She had her heart procedure around lunch time. Prior to it we met with more doctors, including the anesthesiologist who offered to remove the IV from her forehead and replace it with one in her hand. (YES, PLEASE!)

After the procedure we went to the catheter lab and the surgeon explained how it went. Thankfully, it was nearly perfect. It appeared the balloon opened up the pulmonary valve without doing much damage, which was excellent news. During the procedure they looked at other parts of her heart that they couldn't see well in the echocardiogram, and those parts looked good.

Trixie remained sedated for a few hours, but eventually we got to hold her again. She remained intubated through the night.

Thursday - The doctors took her off her hormone bright and early that morning. Initially it didn't go very well, and her oxygen saturation levels dropped pretty low, but after a few hours she started doing better. By the end of the day she was doing really well and the doctors were pleased with her progress.

Friday - Her oxygen levels continued to improve. By the afternoon the doctors let her start eating real food. Breastfeeding didn't go great at first, but once she figured out that eating was a thing (via a bottle at first) she successfully breast fed a couple of times.

An echocardiogram showed that the shortcut in her heart had closed almost all the way. Even with the shortcut gone, her oxygen saturation levels were pretty high. In short, her heart was doing really well.

In the later afternoon the doctors decided she no longer needed ICU care, and we went to a regular floor. It was so fast, and we were thrilled that she had progressed so quickly.

That night I stayed with her in her very own room. It was not our best night. All her numbers were good all night, but she didn't really sleep, and she didn't nurse.

Saturday - We finally got breastfeeding figured out for good. She slept throughout the day really well. We enjoyed watching the BYU game together. Also, her oxygenation remained high throughout the day.

Sunday - The doctor said we could go home! And we did! She is still on oxygen, but it's a small price to pay to be home together.

04 September 2015

Trixie's Birth Story

Birth stories can become insanely long. I'm going to try to keep this one pretty short.

I called the hospital bright and early to see if they still had room for me, and they said yes. I gathered some of my things and headed over. Eric stayed behind to wake up with the kids and take them to the neighbor's house.

The nurse got me going on an IV and my doctor broke my water. I was dilated to a 3 and about 70% effaced at that time. Eric arrived, and we watched some episodes of "Parks and Rec" and later began watching True Grit, which I purchased for the sole purpose of watching during labor.

The baby's heart rate was low, so they had me lay on my side and gave me an oxygen mask. The mask smelled funny. It was a little hard to hear over the whirring of the oxygen. I was not a fan, but the baby needed it.

As the contractions started to be bothersome, I asked for my epidural. With Ike I waited a while, but this time I didn't fight it. In my previous two experiences the epidural did not slow things down, and I was a much happier human after getting it.

The anesthesiologist came and gave me my epidural. Several minutes later I was not feeling numb at all. He came back to check its efficacy and agreed that it wasn't working. He removed it and tried again. By this time the contractions had picked up, but they were still not too bad.

Once the second epidural was in place I could tell it was stronger on the left than the right. I mentioned it to my nurse (who was really fantastic, by the way), and she suggested it was because I was lying on the right side. She helped me roll to my left, but it did not change things.

Meanwhile, the epidural caused my blood pressure (which tends to be kind of low anyway) to drop a lot. I got a total of four rounds of epinephrine, and eventually my nurse called the charge nurse to come in.

Around this time I was feeling a lot of pain and pressure, and my biggest worry was that the anesthesiologist wouldn't have time to come in and fix my epidural before it was time to deliver. This was a legitimate concern. As I noticed the pressure intensifying, I asked to be checked. The charge nurse checked me and said I was a 9 and 100% effaced. There was a flurry of activity as they called my doctor and his med students and the nurses to get ready. Everyone had to get scrubs on because I had to deliver in the operating room. The hospital has a few delivery rooms that have windows directly to the NICU (newborn intensive care unit), but all those rooms were occupied, which was why I got to deliver in an operating room.

Although the epidural was working somewhat, it was definitely not 100%. My guess is that it was probably about 50%-70%. I was wheeled into the operating room at 2:17, and our daughter was born at 2:24. It was not a very long amount of time, but it felt like eternity. At one point one of the many, many, many people in the room told me to open my eyes and look down, but my gown was bunched up, and I couldn't really see the baby.

Because of her heart defect, they took her away immediately to the NICU. They showed her to me briefly, but I was too dazed to really appreciate it. Everyone had commented on how much hair she had, and I did notice that. We took care of some post-birth matters in the operating room for a few minutes, and then we went back to the room I'd been in most of the day.

A few minutes later, Eric got to go to the NICU and see our baby. We learned she weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces, and she had a lot of hair. She was doing really well, all things considering.

After a few hours the NICU team was ready to transfer her to Primary Children's Hospital (PCH). The transfer team brought her to see me in my room, but she was in her incubator, and I was in my hospital bed, still unable to walk from the epidural. (You'd think an epidural that didn't work very well would wear off fast, but no.)

A little while after the transfer team took Trixie to PCH, I got moved to my post-delivery recovery room. Eric's parents came to visit, and they brought our other kids. We all headed to the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at PCH to visit Trixie. It was bad timing because we got there around shift change, and only the parents are allowed to visit for that hour window. Plus, right when we got there they were doing an echocardiogram to determine if the pre-natal diagnosis was still accurate. The boys were understandably nervous about their new sister. (Felix was particularly concerned about the blood around her belly button and the fact that she wasn't wearing any clothes.) We did manage to get each brother to touch her and talk to her. (Both were happy to speak to her but reticent to touch her.)

Then, the doctors were doing rounds. Then the cardiologists wanted to speak to me and Eric about the findings of the echocardiogram. Finally, finally, finally, about 7 hours after her birth, I got to hold my Trixie.

There were so many tubes, and the giant IV sticking out of her forehead was very sad, but I was so happy to finally meet her and hold her.

The days since then have been a bit of a whirlwind, but she's doing well, and I'm sure I'll post about them soon.

10 August 2015

Camping While Road Tripping

When I wrote about our 2015 summer road trip, at least one person commented on the post and others commented to me personally that they were impressed we camped along the way. For us, camping along our road trip route has a lot to do with saving money. Plus, in my mind it's only a little less convenient than staying in a hotel. When you factor in getting all your stuff into the hotel and getting rowdy kids to settle down for the night in a room where they can probably jump from one bed to the next, camping is not that hard.

Now, let me also say that we do not have gourmet meals when we camp. The day we are planning to camp we will stop at a grocery store to buy hot dogs, buns, bagels, cream cheese, and fruit. On this road trip we started with a bag of marshmallows, and we never had to re-stock. We keep the hot dogs and cream cheese in a small cooler in the car, and we refill it with ice from gas stations as needed. (Sometimes gas station employees seemed annoyed that we were getting ice, but usually they didn't care.) We stocked up in the preceding months with ketchup and mustard packets from fast food restaurants, so we didn't even have to worry about keeping the condiments preserved. Even when we are not on road trips we usually opt for hot dogs for camping lest the children mutiny. (This picture is from the 2014 road trip, so the idea of hot dogs on camping trips is very ingrained in these kids by now.)

As far as supplies, we don't have very much. The fact that we eat really basic foods certainly helps. We don't have to take a pack and play for Felix to sleep in, so we can all cram into one tent. The one tent can fit two twin-sized air mattresses side-by-side without much room for them to wiggle around, so we have one large and fairly stable bed. For this camping trip we took fewer sleeping bags and blankets than usual since the nights were not too cold where we were camping. We bought a large wool blanket before our trip, but we could have done without it. We'll definitely use it for other spring and fall camping trips, though.

On this trip, since we didn't have a pack and play, we had plenty of room to take our camp chairs. That was really helpful to my pregnant self. We also pretty much stayed at real camp sites on this road trip. Not all of them had running water and showers and real toilets, but some did. The one time we showered at a camp site we realized that we had failed to bring towels. Thankfully Eric's colleagues had given him a road-trip survival kit as an end-of-school-year gift, and it included four hand-towels that expanded upon getting wet. They were basically life-savers that Saturday night so we didn't seem quite so grimy at church the next day.

I love getting my boys outdoors, especially when we've spent a lot of time in the car. Eric usually takes them for a little exploratory walk, and then they also hang around the site finding logs and rocks to jump from and bugs to harass. It helps them get their energy out before bed.

We lucked out with a couple of really great camp sites on this road trip. Sometimes when you reserve electronically you don't really know what you are going to get. Alternatively, if you just try the first-come-first-served sites, you might not get anything at all. At a couple of sites we were relatively close to a creek, which helped drown out the noises from the other campers.

I was a bit nervous about camping so much for this summer's road trip since I was just beginning my third trimester when we began, but it ended up being fine. Yes, some bathroom facilities were really terrible and stinky. But others weren't bad at all. With both of our boys potty trained, I didn't have to worry about dealing with dirty diapers, which is also a big bonus. And they certainly love the chance to just go wherever they want.

Usually our family woke up fairly early while camping. We'd get dressed and give the kids each a bagel and cream cheese and tell them to sit at the picnic table or sit in the car. Then Eric and I would pack everything up, take down the tent and camp chairs, and load everything into the car. Eric would then tie the canoe down and we'd be on our way again to the next adventure. (To Eric's credit, there were a few mornings where I was totally useless and he did pretty much everything. In fact, that can actually be said of most of our camping trips, regardless of whether or not I am growing a baby.)

We plan to take another road trip next summer, and we will most certainly have to change things up since we'll have a baby by then. But for now, this is how we travel, and it works really well for us.

23 July 2015

Silver Linings

I have less than five weeks to go until my scheduled induction. I'm hoping to push my induction back because I'd prefer to deliver closer to 39-40 weeks rather than right on the 38-week mark. And yet, I am so tired of being pregnant this time. It has definitely been my hardest pregnancy, and with the post-delivery health challenges Trixie is going to have, sometimes I just feel really grumpy. I've been feeling so whiny and overwhelmed, that I decided to make a list of silver linings:

  • I am going to have some amazing post-baby sleep. There will be pumping going on at night, but there will also be a nurse doing the diaper changing and other stuff. (Trixie will not be allowed to breastfeed until a few days after her surgery.)
  • There is a mini-Ronald McDonald House inside Primary Children's Hospital. I can sleep there if I can get a room reserved early enough in the day. I can eat food from the stocked pantries there all day long. I can also stay in the sleep rooms provided in the ICU as long as I get one reserved early enough in the day.
  • When the boys come to visit their sister and they get bored, I can take them to areas in the hospital where they can play, and Eric can spend time with the baby.
  • Our last visit to the cardiologist was more positive than the first, and we have reason to hope that Trixie's valve replacement will not need to happen as soon as we thought. The longer we can wait, the more likely she can avoid open-heart surgery.
  • Primary Children's Hospital has quasi-daycare for your non-patient kids when you are going to outpatient appointments. So I don't always have to bother people to watch the boys when we go back for our checkups.
  • I am going to have a lot of down-time in the hospital, and I am going to crochet and read like a crazy person.

08 July 2015

Trixie's Heart

In early June our unborn baby, Trixie*, was diagnosed with a heart defect. Basically, her pulmonary valve does not function properly. It is a very serious condition, but it is also very treatable and has a good prognosis. Within 24-48 hours after birth she will have a procedure done through her femoral artery to open up the heart valve. There is a slim chance this will be the only treatment she needs, but nobody is counting on that. At some point she will likely need the valve replaced. In some cases valve replacement can be done through the femoral artery, but traditional open heart surgery is more likely. We will know more about when this surgery is likely to take place after the initial procedure. Since replacement valves come from pigs, they do not last forever; they need to be replaced about every six years in children and every ten years in adults. We have great hope that (1) subsequent valve replacements can be done through the femoral artery, and (2) medical advances in her lifetime will improve and prevent her from having to have valve replacements so frequently.

That is the long and short of A Really Big Thing that I have been trying to figure out how to share with the Internet. Here are some FAQ's:

Does this change your delivery plans?
Yes! I was going to deliver at the local hospital with my family practitioner who also takes OB patients. Now I am seeing specialists and will deliver at the University of Utah. After delivery Trixie will be taken via skybridge over to Primary Children's Hospital where the cardiac team will manage her care. Since the two hospitals are connected I will be able to visit her without being discharged from the hospital. She will initially be in the hospital about two to three weeks. I will spend much of that time staying with extended family in Salt Lake City so I do not have to commute every day to the hospital.

Is there anything else wrong?
Nope. Everything else so far seems fine. While she is in utero she is as safe as can be. It's only after delivery that things become more risky. This is why I'll be scheduled for an induction. Neither my doctors nor the cardiac team want me to have a surprise delivery at home, in a car, or at some other hospital where she would then be ambulanced away from me to receive her cardiac care.

How are you holding up?
Really well, actually. There were a couple of weeks in between an ultrasound where they suspected something was wrong and my appointment when they were able to diagnose what it was. THOSE were not fun weeks. Now that we know what is going on, we are extremely grateful that it's treatable and we have a plan in place to take care of her.

That isn't to say that I am carefree about everything. The initial procedure is not something I am terribly worried about, but the prospect of open heart surgery on my infant or toddler can be totally overwhelming. I know open heart surgeries are routine (recall that my dad had triple bypass surgery the day Ike was born, and Eric and I each have a grandfather who had major bypass surgeries as well) but this strikes even closer to home. My worries and concerns lie more with the pain of such a major surgery and its associated recovery than with the technique and risks of the surgery itself. I have great confidence in the pediatric cardiology team at Primary Children's Hospital, but open heart surgery on a child is pretty serious business.

What can I do for you?
Right now, we have everything we need. After her arrival we will need help with childcare while I am spending my time at the hospital with her. We have excellent neighbors and ward members, and those who already know about the diagnosis have been beyond kind to extend offers of help. I am sure we will need help after her delivery, and we will ask for it. If you are the praying type, we welcome your prayers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them! I keep a list of questions on my phone so I can ask the doctors, and many of those have been inspired by questions that people have asked me.

*For those who know me in real life and do not read my blog regularly, I use pseudonyms for my kids - Ike, Felix, and Trixie. The baby doesn't have a real-life name yet.

23 June 2015

2015 Road Trip - In Numbers (And A Few Pictures)

11 days, 10 nights
8 states (Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)
Canoeing in 5 rivers and 1 ocean bay


17 miles of bike riding on the Hiawatha Trail (which was, apparently, exhausting for everyone)

About 8 miles of hiking (mostly in the Redwoods)

3 brothers and 1 sister visited

20 cousins visited

4 nights of camping

3 successful attempts at hitch hiking (by Eric)

And the discovery that one boy cannot get enough of playing in the ocean (no matter how frigid), while the other one cannot get away fast enough.

And since I'm a little bothered by the lack of chronological order of this post, a brief summary of our actual trip:
  • From Utah to California to see the Redwoods.
  • Along the coast of Oregon to stay in Netarts with Eric's sister and her family for a few days.
  • Additional canoeing and camping in Oregon, then off to northern Idaho (via Portland) to visit Eric's brother and family for a few days.
  • From Northern Idaho to Missoula, Montana, to visit another of Eric's brothers and his family overnight.
  • Down to Jackson Hole for a quick stay with my brother (and Ike got to stay an additional night).
  • Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

19 June 2015

Anniversary Trip in Hawaii

We got home from Hawaii well over a month ago, but I never blogged about our trip. It was delightful. On top of the fact that we had free airfare, we also stayed with Eric's very generous aunt and uncle, who currently live in Laie. Eric's cousins watched our boys for the first few days, and then Eric's parents took them for the last few days of our trip. We celebrated our tenth anniversary, and it was just a lovely experience all around.

We spent a lot of time on beaches, including catching a sunrise on our first morning since we woke up insanely early. (Which also happens to be basically the best photo taken of me ever, so I'm happy to share it.)

We didn't quite make it around the island in time to catch a sunset the one evening we tried, but this was pretty close.

On our actual anniversary we went kayaking up a river and saw a few sea turtles. It was a great day.

We also went swimming in a waterfall, and that was pretty fun. It was really cold, particularly compared to the ocean water, but once we were in, it was totally worthwhile.

And since we were staying less than a mile away, we of course made it to the Laie Temple.

We had a lot of time to reflect on our ten years together and how much we've grown. I sure love that husband of mine and am glad we got to vacation together for our anniversary.

18 May 2015

A Few Delightful Things

  • The flowers are blooming, and we welcomed our first (that we've seen) visiting hummingbird to our yard on Sunday morning. He was scoping out some salvia. I failed to capture a great picture, but here is my attempt nonetheless.

  • Our sprinklers have been turned off thanks to all the rain we've had in the past few weeks.
  • We've been buying girl clothes at yard sales. And I've bought a few items new too. Trixie will not be naked.
  • Eric has fewer than ten school days left. We have so many fun (and productive!) summer plans.
  • Our first roses have bloomed, and we've cut some and brought them in. So many more to come this year.

  • Noosa Yoghurt. Seriously. My favorite is coconut, but lemon is a surprisingly close second.
  • Protonix, or its generic equivalent. My extreme heartburn this pregnancy is finally under control, and along with it, most of my nausea.

22 April 2015

Baby #3

On Monday I found out that, much to my surprise, my baby is a girl baby. I was just so certain I was having a boy. Since that time I have said the following phrases each more than once:
  • I don't know how to girl.
  • I hope she likes canoeing.
  • I have to buy new clothes for this one.
  • I guess I better look around for girl clothes at yard sales now.
  • I have to learn to do hair.
  • I get to crochet things for a girl!
  • We have no names for a girl.
  • This may explain why my heartburn has been so insanely bad.
I feel like I'm finally wrapping my head around it. I am excited for our new adventure! A few years ago my parents sent me the blessing dress that my mom made for me. I am so pleased that our little one will get to wear it too:
A photo posted by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on

There is a lot of joy around our household.

Everyone, prepare yourselves for Trixie. (Her official blog name.)

13 April 2015

Felix at 2.5

A few things about Felix at age 2.5:
  • He is adorable.
  • He's really blonde.
  • He narrates everything all day long.
  • He tries to participate in adult conversations, and it's very funny.
  • He loves to take baths, have lotion put on his face, comb his hair, brush his teeth, get dressed, and choose his own clothes.
  • He's potty trained.

A few of his favorite things:

  • Playing outside.
  • Playing with his big brother.
  • Laughing hysterically at his own toilet humor.
  • Rice.
  • Green beans.
  • Salad dressing.
  • Reading books, especially The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer.
  • Trucks and cars.
  • Helping with emptying the dishwasher.
  • Doing his own laundry.
  • Being held or carried.

Felix is a pretty easy-going kid. He's two, so he has tantrums, but he's pretty easily persuaded to calm down. He repeats after us quite a bit, and though he's a good talker, he still has funny things that he says. He likes to sing, and he often has conversations with himself: "I need to go potty. Okay, let's go potty. Okay, take off your pants. Good job."

He loves to go places as a whole family and is very concerned about making sure everyone is included. Felix regularly tells me and Eric, "No go work today, Mom [or Dad]." He doesn't understand that there is a baby coming to our family soon, and usually when I talk about it he says, "I have a baby button too."

As a rule, Felix takes a while to warm up to people he doesn't know, or even people he does know but hasn't seen in a while. New environments can make him nervous, and he's likely to hang around me waiting to feel comfortable before diving in to join the fun. I'm happy to have him around me because he is so sweet.

03 April 2015

Pregnancy Brain

I don't feel like I've really had "pregnancy brain" with the first two, but I'm definitely feeling it this time. Generally I think "pregnancy brain" is not a fair description. I think the symptoms are caused more by lack of sleep  than anything else. There's also the general malaise of pregnancy that can make a person lose focus, and the fact that sometimes it is just really challenging to focus on anything besides the things that make you feel ill. With all that said, here are a few instances of my pregnancy brain:

  • I sat down for choir practice before church and realized I was wearing slippers. (Good thing we live in Utah and the church is a two-minute drive away.)
  • I sent my husband a text message intended for my brother.
  • I sat down to write this blog post about my numerous pregnancy brain experiences and now cannot recall any more examples. How fitting.

16 March 2015

Matching Boys

Most of the clothes my boys own are of the second-hand variety. We've been gifted many items of clothing (the vast majority), and have purchased at yard sales as well. Occasionally I do splurge and buy them new items, so sometimes they get to match:

Matching dinosaur shirts purchased at Target:

Matching polo shirts, also purchased at Target:

Matching jammies for Christmas 2013:
There are also matching jammies from Christmas 2014, but no picture yet.

And not matching, but at least coordinating Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas, that both boys have since outgrown:

(Anyone who has tricks on getting two little boys to be simultaneously still and smiling for pictures gets bonus points!)

And now they have these:
This picture was taken a couple of days after telling them that Felix is also going to be a big brother, and although Ike does not look happy, that was simply because he wasn't in the picture-taking mood. He is very excited to be having a new baby in our family. Felix doesn't really get it, but when told to pretend to "wash his bum" for the camera, he happily complied, thus getting him to get his hands out of the way so the text on his shirt was visible, and getting a happy face on. The child already loves any form of potty humor.

I feel badly that I'm just getting around to this, since I posted about it on a couple of social media sites nearly a week ago. But I'm due in early September. I think it's another boy.