Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{Book Review} Wildflowers from Winter

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Book Description:

“A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she's not even sure exists?”

Book Review:

I received this book for review quite a while ago, but after reading it in only 3 days I forgot to post my review… so here it is now.

This book was an interesting and easy read (meaning I didn’t have to work to hard to read and follow the story) but hard to get through emotionally as you follow more-than-one heart wrenching story of grief. Overall, the story line was a bit predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless.

The main character, Bethany Quinn, is living with wounds and pain from her past the story-line follows her as she learns the true meaning of love and forgiveness. At times I found myself put out with her attitude towards seemingly “innocent” people, which I would credit to not personally relating to some of her own wounds and past experiences. Though towards the end of the book, I found myself relating to her a bit more.

In general, this was a good book with a clean story line and Christian aspects that I appreciated. I appreciate Ganshert’s boldness in attacking some huge issues that real-people deal with – death, family-wounds and secrets, legalism that burns and a past ran from all in her first novel. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with for her next novel!!

I would recommend this book to others who enjoy Christian fiction.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Press for the purpose of my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Birth Story: Titus Jacob (Part 2)

After giving birth, Titus was taken to the NICU. The plan was that I was going to be able to go over and visit him later that night. Titus (Livia)2

We had lots of visitors that afternoon, which was a nice distraction, considering I was a newly delivered mother with seemingly, no baby to hold. Titus (Livia)3

At about 5:00 I was getting a little warn down, and low and behold my epigastric pain came back. They had run some more labs after I had given birth, and they were still headed in the wrong direction (liver enzymes going up, platelets and hemoglobin going down). They started running my blood work every 4 hours.

At the same time, they decided to put the catheter back in because my kidneys weren’t functioning enough, and they wanted to more closely monitor my kidney/bladder output.

At about 10:00 o’clock that night, they were going to let me go down to the NICU to see Titus. But while the nurse was examining me before I could go down she noticed that I had developed some hematomas where a newly delivered mother (or any woman for that mater) doesn’t want hematomas. Luckily, they didn’t seem to bother me too much, but it brought the attention of the head nurse to my room, and she really didn’t think it was a good idea for me to go to the NICU.

Thankfully, my nurse was really nice and fought for me to be able to go, even if it was for a little while. The head nurse agreed that I could go down for 10 minutes if my nurse came with me. They were a little worried about how warm it was going to be in the NICU with me getting out of bed for the first time. Titus Jacob 019

I went down to the NICU and was able to reach into the isolette and touch him for about 10 minutes. They had put in a feeding tube between the time that Tim had been there last and when we came to visit, because his glucose levels were not maintaining with the food he was taking in. It looked a little “scary” to see him in such a big bed, with a feeding tube in, but he still had good color and looked great. They assured us he was totally healthy – breathing good, and keeping pretty good temperature on his own he just need a little help eating.

At the time I was disappointed that it was such a short visit, but after everything that happened on Tuesday, I was so grateful for that 10 minutes. Titus Jacob 020

Once I got back to my room, my epigastric pain continued to get worse and more bothersome. The nurse gave me a dose of morphine that did absolutely nothing, an hour later, she gave me another one… it still did nothing. After that she got an order for dilaudid, which did not help the pain very much (it did seem to move it around and offer a little bit of relief) but did make me pretty “high”. I told the nurse it wasn’t working, but she decided to give me another dose at the hour, while she worked on getting an order for a morphine drip.

During this time, my labs continued to come back headed in the wrong direction, coupled with the epigastric pain returning they were concerned with internal bleeding. They had an ultrasound tech come in again to look at my liver, pancreas and gallbladder to check for bleeding. They noticed some blood that seemed to be behind my liver, but nothing too worrisome.

After I got the morphine drip, I used it for the first hour and it did help with the pain, and I used it for part of the next hour (you get 4 pumps per hour, I used 2) and then the pain went away all together and I no longer needed the drip. It was about 6am at this time.

Tuesday, September 18th:

My pain was better, but my labs continued to decline throughout the day. Since the birth, Tim was balancing his time between my room and Titus’ room. I was feeling okay and kept asking to go to the NICU but the doctor would not allow it because of my poor blood results. She actually has Tuesdays off but came in to talk to us, trying to explain that I was sick and with my blood levels so low it was just not safe for me to be out of bed moving around, even to go to the bathroom. So they wouldn’t take out my catheter or even allow me to shower, so going down to the NICU was out of the question. With my platelets where they were, the concern was that I could start bleeding internally and they wouldn’t be able to stop it because of my inability to clot. The risk of me falling or getting hurt was not one that they were willing to take.

4:30pm My lab results came back pretty bad – my liver enzymes improved but my platelets got down to 31 and my hemoglobin was at 6.8. The doctor wanted to do a blood transfusion and CT scan to figure out if there was internal bleeding we weren’t seeing on the ultrasound. They were mostly concerned with my liver bleeding at this point. The big scare here was not only that I had lost nearly half my blood for seemingly no reason but that my platelets were dangerously low. At levels under 30 brain hemorrhaging and internal bleeding are common and mortality rates are high.

Emotionally, I can’t really describe to you what happened in our room at this time. We knew that I was sick, we knew my body was having a hard time recovering, but we really didn’t “get” until this moment how serious the situation was.

Though we didn’t really want to do the blood transfusion, after talking to our doctor and praying together about it, it seemed like this was the option we should go with.

At this time, my mom decided to head back up to be with us. Tim was still doing his best balancing his time between Titus and I, but the more sick I was getting, the less enthusiastic he became about leaving my side. After three nights in the hospital with very little sleep, his body was wearing down (even if he won’t admit it).

8:00pm I received two units of blood which took two hours.

10:30pm I was taken down for my CT

12:00am I was given my third and last unit of blood.

They ran blood work soon after this which showed improvement in my platelets and hemoglobin. My kidneys were starting to function normally again. Things were turning around for big mama.

Wednesday, September 19th

At about 8 o’clock I was finally able to lose my catheter and one of my IVs. They told me that I could get up to take my shower (which by the way I hadn’t been able to do since Saturday morning --- I was disgusting) and then I COULD VISIT TITUS IN THE NICU!!!

9:00am My mom and Tim wheeled me down to the NICU to visit my baby boy, who I was able to hold and even bottle feed for the first time!!! I can’t describe to you how that moment felt to finally see him and hold him without any time constraints or limits. Titus Jacob 054

I spent most of that day between my room and the NICU because I was still having blood work done and was pretty worn down physically, but wanted to spend as much time as I could with Titus.

It was a crazy journey, and one that we weren’t planning on, but God was in control and remained our sufficiency every moment. It’s true, that He gives you the grace you need for the moment. I never would have thought we could have made it through all that we went through, but with Him and His grace on us, we not only made it through but are able to appreciate the many blessings He has given us in an even greater way.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Tooth Lost!! Or Two

It’s been a while now, but for obvious reasons, I didn’t post this sooner, BUT that doesn’t mean it wasn’t HUGE news in the Schoessow house. 9.14.12 011

On September 14th, Treyon lost his first tooth! He had been waiting SOOO long to loose a tooth.

I actually had my doctors appointment that morning (the one where I got admitted to Labor and Delivery and was then put on bed rest). When Tim came back to the hospital to pick me up, with the kids, they told me it was REALLY loose. 9.14.12 010

Treyton came up to show me and right then, outside of AMC, he pulled it out himself.

He knew that I wanted to be there when he lost it, I think he was waiting for me :) Isn’t he a sweetheart?!?!

He actually lost his second tooth on the 18th, the day after Titus was born. He came into the hospital room sporting a whole new look :)!!!   

Birth Story: Titus Jacob (Part 1)

I have been wanting to write out Titus’ birthing story for a while, but due to some recovery issues, I haven’t been able to get to the computer for long enough to get it down. Titus (Livia)To accurately record his story, we have to start back at our 31 week appointment.

31 Weeks: I went in for a normal check up, my blood pressure was high (for me, 120ish/80s) with trace amounts of protein in my urine. The doctor sent me for labs and had me set up an appointment a week later to recheck my blood pressure. The labs came back normal.

32 Weeks: After monitoring my blood pressure throughout the week, we expected my pressure to still be up but it was great 112/61. The doctor had me schedule an appointment for another two weeks.

34 Weeks (Friday), September 14th: My blood pressure was once again high 128/98, they had me lay on my side for a while and retook it, it was 142/98. When the doctor came in she sent me to labor and delivery to be monitored for an hour and to have labs drawn. During the hour my blood pressure averaged somewhere around the 130s/80s and my labs came back normal, almost exactly what they were two weeks prior.

They sent me home on moderate bed rest (meaning only minimum walking from place to place, lying and sitting) and told me to come back in if I had any headaches, blurred visions or epigastric pain.

Saturday, September 15th: We had plans to visit some friends at Devils Lake in Baraboo (2 hours away) which the doctor had said I could go to as long as all I did was sit. We left town about 9 o’clock in the morning, and I mentioned to Tim that I was starting to feel a little bit of heart burn. I took a dose of Tums, but it seemed to do nothing. Throughout the day the pain got worse, I took a total of three doses of Tums, none of which seemed to help. We ate dinner at my sisters house and headed home at about 6 o’clock. The pain continued to get significantly worse. At about 7, we decided to call the on-call doctor in our network. The doctor I talked to was a little less than comforting, and basically he said “If you are in enough pain to call, then you should obviously go in.”

I was a more than a little upset. I wasn’t really sure if I should go in or not, I couldn’t tell if it was just heartburn or something more…. and the on-call doctor didn’t do much to help me out. In the end we decided that I should go in, just in case. We called Tim’s sister and she was (as usual) kind enough to have the kids stay over at her house while we went in to the hospital to get it checked out.

When we checked in to the hospital, they started monitoring my blood pressure right away my first reading was 171/109 (it was pretty high between 160s/80s – 170s/90s throughout the first hour there), and took some blood and urine samples. That night, my labs came back slightly elevated, but still within normal ranges. The on-call doctor decided to admit me for the night so that they could monitor me more closely and run more labs in the morning.

Sunday, September 16th : Sunday morning they ran more labs. The kids came to visit me halfway through the morning and while they were there two nurses came in to let us know that they wanted to transfer me to Theda Clark where there was a NICU. My blood work had come back even more elevated, which meant I was headed towards becoming either preeclamptic or developing HELLP and they wanted to transfer me in case they needed to induce me. AMC (the hospital we were at) was not equipped to deliver a baby less than 35 weeks gestation and we were at 34 weeks 5 days. If the baby was born at AMC before that time it would automatically be transferred to the NICU 20 minutes away, transferring me at this point was the only way to know that we would be “together” (at the same hospital) after birth.

They also decided to start me on Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures as I was officially diagnosed as preeclamptic. The epigastric pain continued to be a problem, with very little relief. They basically told me that I would have the pain until my blood pressure went down, and that that would not happen until after we delivered the baby.

Once I got settled at Theda Clark, it was kind of just a wait and see game. They decided to run labs in the morning.

Monday, September 17th:

Overnight at about 2am, my epigastric pain was still pretty bad, so they had an ultrasound tech come in to take a look at my liver, pancreas and gall bladder to make sure I wasn’t having any internal bleeding. The results were normal.

They ran labs pretty early on Monday morning and by 7 o’clock we got the results back that showed that I had protein in my 24-hour urine (over 1000), my liver enzymes and uric acid were elevated, and I had low blood platelets. When I spoke with my doctor on the phone she mentioned something about HELLP which is an acronym standing for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count and decided that we needed to induce right away. The only good news that morning was that my epigastric pain had gone away.

Because my platelets counts were so low I was not going to be able to get an epidural or spinal so I had two options – natural birth or general anesthesia c-section. I wasn’t too worried about this, both Treyton and Alexa were born naturally without any drugs, so I knew I could do it. My only fear was that they wanted to get the baby out ASAP (they were talking before noon) so they were going to be using pitocin, which I had only been on with Audrey when I had had an epidural, either way I knew that having a vaginal birth, with or without pitocin, was the way to go:

7:30am They started me on Pitocin (8ml units a miute (18)). I was at 2 cm, 75% effaced. I started to feel contractions almost right away but they were not painful, mostly just constricting.

8:30am Still no pain and I remained at 2cm, 75% effaced. The doctor came in and broke my water

9:00am They put in the catheter (because they were no longer going to allow me out of bed). I have never had a catheter before and for whatever reason it’s been one of my biggest fears. I fought them on having one this time, but to no avail. Once they put the catheter in, I was the most agitated I think I’ve ever been in any labor I’ve had.

I don’t know what labor is like for other people, so I can only speak for myself, but in order to get through the contractions (particularly without any drugs or epidural) I have to get to a place mentally where I can relax my body and just allow it to do what it’s supposed to do…. it’s all mental.

Once they inserted the catheter I felt like I lost all mental control, in the sense that it was ONE MORE THING! I already had two IVs which (of course) were annoying, I couldn’t get out of bed to move around, I had already been in bed for 2 days…. it just felt like too much. It took me about 10 minutes to calm down and get my head around they fact that I was going to need to deal with one more thing.

9:45am My sister, Skye, arrived

10:30am They had continued to up my pitocin at this time it was 22ml per minute (66). They checked me I was at 3/4 cm and my contractions were 3 minutes apart.

10:40am The nurse called the doctor to update her, she was planning on heading over within the hour.

Before the delivery I had warned the nurse that I tend to go pretty quickly once I reach about 5cm. With both Alexa and Audrey I hit a certain level (with Alexa it was 7cm, with Audrey it was 5cm) and then it was just time, just like that! She took me at my word. She had told me that going from 3-6cm is usually the toughest, and that it can be common to go pretty quickly after that.

11:00am My mom and step-dad arrived. I was at 4cm and the head had come down quite a ways.

11:25am Pitocin was at 24mls a minute (72). Contractions were much more intense still 2-3 minutes apart.

11:45am The nurse checked me, I was at 6cm, 0 station. I was beginning to get a little frustrated, it was feeling much more intense and I felt like I was progressing more slowly than what the contractions were. At this point I started telling Tim “I don’t know if I can do this” (which apparently is my sign that I’m very close).

The next contraction, after the nurse checked me, IT WAS TIME! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I can go from “I can’t do this” to I am feeling the baby’s head like RIGHT NOW!

Once I said “UGHHHH, okay, it’s time!” the nurse didn’t even bother to check me she hit the blue button on the wall and as people started running in, she started shouting out commands. She hadn’t gotten everything set up yet, so she was telling people what to pull out and set up and trying to get stuff ready. She told me “Just don’t push, the doctor is here, she’s on her way, just don’t push.”

At first I was really really trying not to push, but after about one contraction I just HAD to push. I was starting to yell/scream at this point and saying “I’m sorry, I have to push! I have to push!” I was really trying not to…. but oh my word….

“Wait,” she said “I still have to get the catheter out!” That got my attention… there was no way I was going to push with my fear of catheters. She took it out and right as she did, the doctor walked in and they said “Just let her get her gloves on!”

I heard the doctor say “Okay! I have my gloves on. You can push.”

I pushed once, the doctor got her gown on (I think) and the baby’s head was there. I pushed one more time and he was out!!! It was 11:56am!  a Few Moments

The doctor had to unwrap the cord from around his neck (three times!). But he was totally healthy and fine. He cried well right away, so they let me hold him for about 2 minutes. He was bigger than I expected and he had great skin color.

It was the fastest two minutes of my life. There seemed to be so much going on, but I still appreciated the moments I had to hold him. mom dad and titus

After that, the NICU team took him to check him over. He looked great and they let me hold him again for a minute or two before they transferred him to the Children’s Hospital. He looked great. off to the NICU

Tim went with Titus. dad with titus at the NICU

My sister and mom stayed with me.

They didn’t weigh him in the room, but later Tim texted me that Titus was 4 pounds 11 ounces, 19 inches long. little giant day 1