Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hard Days

Sunday was a hard day. By that point, Eliza should've been eating. But she wasn't. She wouldn't really breastfeed. She would latch and suck a couple times and that was it. Every time. We had tried syringe feeding her a little in the hospital, but that hadn't gone well. She just slept and slept and it was getting harder and harder to wake her to try to feed her. Needless to say, I was a worried mess when we headed off to the newborn check up we had scheduled that morning. The check up was with a nurse and a lactation consultant. They weighed her, checked for jaundice, and then watched her try to eat. Though her weight was still within the normal range, she was a little jaundiced and her lack of eating was a huge concern. The nurse called in a pediatrician to check her out. The pediatrician noted that Eliza was being tested for Down syndrome and told us that babies with Down syndrome often have trouble with feeding at the beginning. She was also concerned with her lack of eating and her lethargy, so she called the pediatrician on duty at the hospital to discuss the possibility of re-admitting her. After talking, the doctors determined we would take her home and try bottle-feeding her. The nurse would check in with us that afternoon and, if the bottle-feeding wasn't successful, we would bring her back to the hospital so they could check her over and get some nutrition in her.

I should mention that, with my postpartum hormones, I was a total wreck. The tears, oh the tears! I could not stop them from coming, no matter how hard I tried. I was pretty much either crying or on the verge of tears at all times. I was balling as we left the appointment. The nurses were very nice, but I'm not sure what they thought.

We went home and tried the bottle-feeding as directed. It didn't work. When the nurse called that afternoon, we told her that it wasn't successful and she told us to head back to the hospital. With all of this going on, my family stepped up and took care of Stella so we didn't have to worry about her. When we knew we would be going back to the hospital, my family came and took Stella. They also helped give Eliza a Priesthood Blessing before we left for the hospital. As we were getting ready to leave, Eliza woke up for a few minutes. We hurried and syringe fed her a little bit of breastmilk just to try to get something in her. Then, we were on our way.

They were very nice when we got to the hospital. It is not a fun thing to have to check your two day old baby into the hospital, but the nurses got Eliza all set up and then the pediatrician on duty examined her. He said he couldn't find anything wrong with her during his physical exam, but he noticed the same Down syndrome characteristics that the other pediatrician had seen and mentioned, again, that children with Down syndrome often have feeding issues. He said he was going to have the nurses see if they could get her to eat successfully before doing any more invasive tests.

Apparently the nurses have magical powers (or maybe just lots of experience) because they got her to eat right away. I pumped some breastmilk and they fed it to her in a bottle like it was no big thing. We were so happy to see her eating! She ate a good amount and they showed us some little tricks to help her eat. They put her on a three hour eating schedule and said we could be there as much as we wanted. It was wonderful news! We went back every three hours to feed her and I pumped so they had a good stash of milk in the refrigerator for her. Mr. Frisby and I split the night feedings (it was really a pain to drive to the hospital every few hours) so we could get a little sleep and we let the nurses handle the 3 am feeding without us. As soon as she started getting some nutrition in her, Eliza began to perk up. It was such a relief to see.

When we went back Monday morning, the doctor told us that Eliza was doing well and didn't have any major problems. He said if we were comfortable handling the feedings ourselves, we could take her home. There was nothing they were doing for her that we couldn't do ourselves. We were thrilled to be able to take her home again and thrilled with how things were going. We didn't have the car seat with us and needed to pick up some specific bottle supplies for her, so we said we come back for her next feeding and take her then.

It was so nice to finally be home with Eliza and not have to worry so much about her. Stella was getting more excited about her and loved getting to know her. We still had the uncertainty of her diagnosis in the backs of our minds, but we could at least start taking care of our little baby.

I was hopeful that Eliza would still learn to breastfeed, so with each feeding, I pumped, tried to breastfeed her, then one of us bottle fed her. It was a long process and kept me pretty busy from one feeding to the next. The nice thing about bottle-feeding was that Mr. Frisby was able to help with the nighttime feedings, so I was able to get some sleep.

We followed up at the newborn clinic on Wednesday. Eliza was eating pretty well at that point and seemed to be doing much better. They were a little concerned about jaundice, but we had her first appointment with our pediatrician scheduled for the following Monday, so they said he would check then and we headed home feeling so much better about things.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

When the Rug is Pulled Out From Under You

Friday with Eliza was a whirlwind of activity. Introducing her to the world via social media, texts, emails, etc. Lots of checking and monitoring by hospital staff throughout the day. Visits from family and meeting big sister.

Visits from the lactation consultants since Eliza wasn't really eating. We had a few precious, quiet moments throughout the day to just get to know and love her. But it was a busy day.

As things were winding down Friday night, our world was turned upside down. The pediatrician on duty came in to do a routine check on Eliza. I watched the doctor check her over and my heart started to beat a little faster when I noticed she was spending extra time listening to Eliza's heart. I relaxed a little when she moved on and didn't say anything. She finished her exam and asked if we had done any of the prenatal testing for genetic conditions. I told her that we had chosen not to do any of the testing. She said she noticed a couple of subtle characteristics of Down syndrome in Eliza's features, namely her eye shape and the creases on her right hand. My heart stopped. She said we would need to do a blood test to get a diagnosis and asked if we wanted to do that. We said we would like to and she said they would do the test in the morning and it would take 1-2 weeks to get the results. She also ordered an EKG since heart defects are very common with Down syndrome.

Having delivered that news, the doctor quickly made her exit and we were left alone with our thoughts. Mr. Frisby and I looked at each other, but didn't say much. All of sudden things were very uncertain.

After a sleepless night, I "woke up" Saturday morning feeling great, physically. I seriously did not at all feel like I had just given birth the day before. But, my mind was heavy. Aside from the news of Eliza's possible Down syndrome, she wasn't eating. It wasn't a huge concern yet, since babies are often not that hungry the first day or so after birth. Plus she had vomited a few times, so was still clearing out stuff she had swallowed during delivery. But, I was anxious to get home and get settled so we could focus on taking care of our baby and get her eating. Because she wasn't really eating, they wanted us to see the lactation consultant first. It took forever, but finally they discharged us and we were headed home.

In the hospital, Stella had refused to hold or touch Eliza. She looked at her, but I think she was quite overwhelmed. Once we got home, she got a little more comfortable with the baby and it was so fun to watch them get to know each other a little.

Saturday was another whirlwind with Eliza. We were getting settled in at home and had more visitors and were updating people on Eliza. We hadn't said anything to anyone about the fact the Eliza may have Down syndrome. We didn't want to until we had the test results. But, it was at the forefront of my mind every time we introduced her to anyone. I wondered if their reaction would be different if they knew. I wondered if they could see those same subtle characteristics the doctor had seen. I wondered if they would feel differently about her. I just wanted to be home, enjoying our new baby, getting to know her, and adjusting to our now larger family. I didn't want to worry about any possible health problems or genetic conditions. But, with one quick exam the rug had been pulled out from under us.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


So, it's been a long time. And a lot has happened since I last posted. Like, I had a baby. So, here's Eliza:

And here's her birth story:

Eliza was due on June 27, 2015. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy which was the opposite from Stella. I had none with her, so I didn't really know what to expect as far as going into labor. The contractions had picked up in frequency as my due date approached and I wondered if I would know the difference when my real contractions started. We had arranged to take Stella and Scout to my parents' house when I went into labor. It's a half hour drive, but, based on my labor with Stella, we figured we'd have plenty of time to get them there before we needed to head to the hospital.

I had planned to go over my due date since that's what I had done with Stella. I was very surprised, then, when I woke up at 12:30 am on the 26th with real contractions. They were only mildly painful, but I knew they weren't Braxton Hicks contractions. With Stella, I had had contractions for an hour or two the night before I actually went into labor, so this time around, I wanted to make sure they weren't going to stop. I timed the first few. They were a minute or two long and ten minutes apart. I decided to get up and finish up packing Stella's bag and getting things ready to go.

After getting things all ready to go, my contractions hadn't stopped and had actually gotten a little closer together and some were a little more painful. Still, nothing I couldn't talk through or anything. I decided I better wake up Mr. Frisby so we could get Stella and Scout to my parents'. At this point, it had been about an hour and a half since I woke up and the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I woke up Mr. Frisby and told him it was go time. His response, "really?" I told him yes and that we needed to get Stella and Scout to my parents'. Then I said, "we better call labor and delivery first to see if they want us to come in right away" since my contractions, while still only mildly painful, were getting closer together. I should mention that, at my last prenatal checkup, my doctor had said I was already dilated to a three and my cervix had started to ripen. She said things could go fast once labor started, so if I wanted my epidural (and I absolutely did), I better get to the hospital pretty quickly.

Well, labor and delivery said to come on in, so we changed our plans. Mr. Frisby called my sister (who lives about ten minutes away) to see if she would come stay with Stella. I decided to take a quick shower while we waited for her to get to our house. While in the shower, my contractions picked up. They got slightly more intense and were about 2-3 minutes apart. My sister arrived and we got ready to go to the hospital. With all the commotion, Stella had woken up, so I explained to her that the baby was ready to come, so Gaylene would stay there with her while we went to the hospital. Then, off we went. We walked into the emergency room around 3:30 am. They checked us in and then took us up to labor and delivery. We got into the delivery room and got situated. The nurse and midwife noted that my birth plan called for an epidural. The midwife checked me and I was already dilated to an 8. She told me they would do the blood test right away so we could get my epidural ASAP. During this time, I was having contractions every few minutes. They weren't terribly painful, but since I was already at an 8, I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't get my epidural. Memories of hours of painful contractions and two hours of difficult pushing with Stella came into my mind. I had an epidural with her and I couldn't imagine doing it without one. The thought scared me pretty bad. With the blood test done, it was just a matter of waiting for the results before they could do the epidural. I answered the plethora of questions thrown at me by the nurse and we waited. I was so nervous about not getting the epidural, that I started shaking. Constant shaking. Which I hated. All of a sudden, I had a really bad contraction. Like, so painful. And then things got real. I would estimate this was probably around 4:15 am. Almost immediately I had another equally terrible, painful contraction. I felt my water break, so I said to the nurse, "I think my water broke." She checked and confirmed that it had indeed broken. She yelled at someone to get the midwife and my heart sunk. I knew I wasn't getting my epidural. I immediately told myself, "I can do this. Mom did it nine times with no epidural. I can do it." The nurse asked me if I felt like I needed to push. I told her I didn't know. I had never had a strong urge to push with Stella, so I didn't know what that felt like. I was about to find out. The midwife came running in and checked me. I was at a ten and ready to push. Then, I had another contraction and I was pushing. They told me not to push. I laughed inside and yelled, "I can't help it!" Which was totally true because my body was getting that baby out despite whatever my brain may have been telling it to do. I tried not to push, but that was a joke. I should also mention that while my contractions had been fairly mild up until the big one just a few minutes before, I was in some serious pain at this point. I heard the midwife say, "If you feel the urge to push, then push. I can see your baby's head, she's almost here." That was all I needed to hear. I pushed as hard as I could push because I just wanted to the pain to stop. I think it took two pushes and out came Eliza. It was 4:23 am. Less than four hours after I first woke up with contractions.

She weighed in at 7 lbs, 1 oz and was 20 inches long. They immediately handed her to me while I delivered the placenta and they cut the cord. Everyone commented on what a very healthy placenta I had. And the midwife apologized that they didn't get me my epidural. She said the anesthesiologist was waiting outside the door to my delivery room. They were just waiting for those blasted blood test results. I told Mr. Frisby later that maybe I would've had time for the epidural if I hadn't decided to take a shower earlier. Oh well. Now I can say that I've delivered a child naturally. But, given the option again, I'd go with the epidural.

It was pretty much opposite to my labor and delivery experience with Stella. But look, a beautiful little girl was still the result. I'll take them any way they come. This little girl has had quite the journey since her arrival and it needs to be documented. I've decided I'll have to make time to update this little blog to tell her story.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Birthday Celebration

As I already documented, Stella celebrated her 2nd birthday in Malta during our cruise. However, we didn't really want to take her gifts with us to give to her then (we couldn't fit a bike in our luggage) and all of the family wasn't there, so we decided to have a small get together with family to celebrate when we got home. Shamefully, we only ended up with one iPhone photo of the celebration.

I did take some pictures of her enjoying some of her gifts, though.

She was super excited about her new little bike and helmet and she looked super cute riding.

And, that was birthday bash number two. We'll see what next year has in store.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pre-Cruise Adventures

Let's be honest. A lot has happened since my last non-cruise post over six months ago. I haven't posted about Stella in over 6 months and 6 months is a very long time during which a lot can happen when you're only 2. I was actually looking over my last Stella post from last September and she has grown and changed so much since then. And now I have mommy guilt for not documenting it better. I guess it's time to go back in time a little and see what we can remember.

During the month of September, Gilroy Gardens was having a special petting zoo exhibit. I knew that Stella would be in absolute heaven seeing all the animals and I really wanted to squeeze a visit in before we left on the cruise. We had a lot going on, so I picked a day where I had a few open hours and we headed over. Just as I thought, Stella was in heaven. She loved every aspect of the petting zoo and probably could've stayed there all day if we had had the time.

She loved looking at the animals:

She loved petting the animals:

She loved trying to hold the animals:

She loved hugging the animals:

She loved trying to feed the animals:

She loved being surrounded by the animals:

I think it was one of the more magical days of her life and it was totally worth squeezing in. And those animals sure are patient.

Our other pre-cruise adventure was Stella's first Giants' game. You may remember this post about Mr. Frisby's awesome work party last June. As I mentioned in that post, at the party we got two free tickets to the Giants' game that was two days before we left on the cruise. We're not ones to pass up a free baseball game and since Stella was still free, we decided to bring her along so she could experience her first of hopefully many Giants' games.

That afternoon we went to the Giants' dugout to pick up a Giants' shirt for her so she would be properly attired. We decided to take the train up to the city and Stella loved it. She was super cute posing in front of AT&T Park:

She was also super cute posing with Mr. Frisby:

Unfortunately, she just didn't understand what was going on on the field and it was hard for her to see what was going on from way up high anyway. So, she had more fun trying to go up and down the stairs and run up and down the aisles. Hopefully when we take her this year, she'll be a little more into the actual game.

The game ended up being super long. When Stella was getting super tired and it had been over two hours and the game was barely halfway done, we decided to call it quits and we made a beeline for the train station. We barely caught the train going back home (otherwise we would've had to wait another hour) and settled in for the ride home. The gentle rocking of the train put Stella to sleep pretty quickly and we had a very late night. We had fun, though, and Stella even got a little certificate to commemorate her first Giants' game.

Monday, February 17, 2014

It Has an End!

At last! I've made it to the final blog post of our trip. Our final day in Rome was Vatican Day. We had tickets to skip the line getting into the Vatican museums and the line was huge, so it seemed it was worth it. We made our way to Vatican City and then found the museum entrance. The main draw of the Vatican museums is, of course, the Sistine Chapel. There's some other great art there, however, which should also be appreciated. Like this tapestry pointed out by John:

The Apostle Paul busting out of prison. Awesome. What we found in the Vatican Museums is that they're horribly marked and pretty confusing to figure out where you're going. You enter and then wander around rooms and through halls seeing various works of art which culminates in the Sistine Chapel. As we got closer to the Sistine Chapel, the crowds got insanely thick and the art got more famous. A terrible angle of "The School of Athens" by Raphael:

It's not really a picture-taking friendly place anyway and the crowds made it impossible to get any decent shots. At last we approached the Sistine Chapel. It is a well-known fact and it is well-marked (unlike anything else in the Vatican Museums) as you approach that complete silence is to be maintained in the Sistine Chapel. I was incredibly nervous about having Stella in there, given her history of non-reverance in the other churches we had been in. However, this was the Sistine Chapel, for crying out loud. It was not to be missed! The viewing set up makes it a bit complicated as well. You enter in one door and then you exit out the door at the opposite end. You can't exit out the entrance door and you can't leave the Vatican museums without going through the Sistine Chapel (at least, not once you get that close). So, Mr. Frisby and I came up with a plan. I would go in and take it all in at my leisure while Mr. Frisby waited in the hall with Stella. When I was done checking it out, I would tell him to come in with her and then I would take her and immediately head out the exit with her leaving Mr. Frisby to enjoy the Sistine Chapel at his leisure.

And here's where we hit the biggest hiccup of the trip. There are actually two exits out the back. One goes directly into St. Peter's Basilica and the other takes you out of the museum, through the gift shop and back out to the street. This information is not marked inside the chapel, but my family had all read about this in our guidebooks. Obviously, we preferred to go directly into the Basilica. However, our guidebook said that this direct exit into the Basilica was sometimes closed. After I had checked out the chapel, I checked out the exits. The one that went into the Basilica was marked with a sign that it was an exit for special tour groups. I assumed that meant it was closed, as our guidebook mentioned it might be. At this point, I had become somewhat separated from my family and we couldn't really communicate because of the total silence rule anyway. I was ready to have Mr. Frisby come in with Stella so I could take her out and, once they came in, I couldn't really wait around with her to see what everyone else did. So, I had Mr. Frisby come in, I took Stella, and I headed out the regular exit with her. We went down the hall a little ways and waited for Mr. Frisby. When he finished, he came out the exit and we headed to the gift shop to wait for the others since, as far as I knew, the other exit was closed and they would have to come out that way. We waited awhile and, when they never came, we figured maybe we had missed them and headed out to the street to walk around to the Piazza in front of the Basilica to see if we could find them there. We enjoyed the Vatican City walls as we walked (it was quite a ways).

I should pause here to give my thoughts on the Sistine Chapel. It was absolutely stunning. I would love to have been able to lay down on my back and look up at the ceiling and take it all in, but the crowds made that impossible. So, I just looked up and tried to grasp all of the detail and beauty of it. It is truly some of the most incredible art I have ever seen and not to be missed if you are in Rome.

We made it to the Piazza and waited a long time. We kept scanning the Piazza, but there was no sign of any of my family anywhere and we really had no idea where we might find them. We took in the Piazza and the Basilica as we waited.

The line to get into the Basilica was pretty long, so after awhile, we decided we better wait in it before it got any later since, at that point, we thought we would be on our own for the rest of the day. As we waited, I finally spotted Gaylene near one of the fountains. I left Mr. Frisby in line and ran over to her to find out what had happened to them. It turns out they all stuck together as a "group" and snuck through the exit that went directly into the Basilica. So, while we were out waiting and looking all over the place for them, they were checking out the Basilica without us. We were none to happy about the situation and waited in the long line by ourselves to get into St. Peter's Basilica. We planned to possibly meet the others after we were done if it all worked out. The line actually moved fairly quickly and it didn't take us long in the Basilica, so we came out and had time to quickly check out the Vatican City Guards and then grab lunch.

We walked around the corner from the Basilica and found a little deli. We ended up having a great little lunch and then were able to meet up with the rest of my family. We opted to walk from the Vatican back into Rome and enjoyed some Italian icons along the way.

We walked along the river and enjoyed the view of St. Peter's Basilica from there.

It was a decent walk and we soon found ourselves in the mood for gelato. We plotted a course to our favorite gelato spot, Giolitti, for one last cone before our time in Rome was done.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent trying to get in some shopping and more sightseeing. We headed to the Spanish steps again and did some shopping there. We also grabbed a quick last dinner in Rome right where we had our first - McDonald's. I opted for an Italian menu exclusive - some kind of calzone type thing - and it was terrible. Then we went to the Piazza del Popolo to check it out. Stella had a great time playing in the fountain there.

After another busy and tiring day, we headed back to our hotel. We had checked out that day, but had left our baggage there until we were done for the day. We then had a couple of vans take us to another hotel that was much closer to the airport since we would be catching our flight first thing the next morning.

It was a fabulous vacation and so fun to be able to spend it with much of my family. In many ways, I would loved to have stayed to see more. But, after two and a half weeks of traveling with a two-year-old, I was exhausted and ready to come home. We saw and did so much and definitely found some places we'll have to return to someday. And now, five months later, Stella is still talking about it!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 2 in Rome

Ancient Rome was the big plan for our second day there. We started the day checking out Il Vittoriano, a monument built to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy. Apparently it's a controversial monument, but if affords a great view of the city, so we took it all in. First we wandered around the monument itself, seeing Italy's tomb of the unknown soldier (at least, I'm pretty sure that's what it was) and a big statue of a guy on a horse - I will assume that's Victor Emmanuel II.

The main part of the monument has a nice view of the city, so we weren't sure we wanted to pay extra to go up the elevator to see more. However, Julie and Terrell convinced us that the view was not to be missed from the top, so we decided to go up. While finishing up on the main part of the monument, Stella found a fun place to play before going up the elevator.

When we arrived at the top, we were greeted with a spectacular view. We could see all of the major landmarks in Rome: The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, Vatican City with Saint Peter's Basilica, etc. etc. We were lucky to be traveling with Terrell, who served part of his mission in Rome and was, therefore, able to point out all of the sites of interest and translate for us. Here he is in action:

The view from the top:

After checking out the view from the top, it was off to the Colosseum. This was what I was most excited about seeing in Rome, so I was pretty stoked. The road to the Colosseum from Il Vittoriano went right by the Roman Forum, so Tracy & John, Gaylene, and Mr. Frisby & I opted to walk down so we could see the Forum as we went. My parents and Julie & Terrell rode the bus down, so we met them at the entrance.

The city passes we had bought the day before allowed us to skip the line to get into the Colosseum and this proved to be well worth it as the line was HUGE! We went in, walked through one of the gates into the amphitheater, and I was immediately very impressed. Let me just say that the Colosseum did NOT disappoint. It was probably my favorite thing we did in Rome. Except maybe the gelato.

Our group decided to split up so we could explore at our leisure. After we got in, we determined a meeting place and time and then headed off in our separate directions. I think we spent about an hour in the Colosseum and I enjoyed every minute. I probably could've spent even more time there just wandering around and checking things out, but we had more to see in Rome.

After wandering around and checking things out, I decided that it would've been really cool to see what it looked like during its heyday. Although, I wouldn't have needed to see any of the gladiator fights. Too barbaric for me. At the appointed time, we met up with everyone else and headed back out. There are lots of street vendors and food stands just outside the Colosseum, so we picked a food stand and picked up a quick and very terrible lunch which we ate in the shadows of the ruins.

After our quick lunch, we headed toward the Roman Forum. We passed the Arch of Constantine which looked pretty cool, but was mostly obscured by scaffolding, so it was hard to tell for sure. Remember how we seem to be scaffolding magnets when in Europe? You should probably never travel with us if you don't want major sites obscured by scaffolding everywhere you go.

Mr. Frisby and I wanted to check out the Circus Maximus where the ancient chariot races were held. It was only a couple blocks out of the way as we headed to the Roman Forum. Nobody else was interested, so they waited in a shady spot while we dashed the couple blocks to see it. There's not much there, but you can see some of the ruins which appear to be under construction to rebuild them or something. It should be pretty cool in the near future.

We dashed back to where everyone else was waiting and then headed to the Roman Forum. Here we are on the road between the Colosseum and the Forum:

Upon entering the Forum, we were immediately greeted by the Arch of Titus. No scaffolding on this one.

The Roman Forum was cool. Lots of ruins everywhere that you just wander around. There's lots to read about the ruins along the way, but I can only handle so much of that before I get too bored. Mr. Frisby is a faster reader than me, so I would usually just tell him to read stuff and then summarize for me. He's a great husband.

Now, this is where my memory gets a bit fuzzy. After the Roman Forum, we split off from the rest of our group. They were headed to a couple sites that didn't really interest us, so we decided to head back to the hotel. I'm guessing we wanted to try to get Stella a nap. We also wanted to check out a tiny tie shop that was right by our hotel, so I think that was the day Mr. Frisby bought lots of ties. We had plans to meet up with the others at the Trevi Fountain to get dinner. At some point before meeting up with them, we decided to get some gelato at our favorite spot and eat it in the shadows of the Pantheon.

We met up with the others and started looking for a place to eat dinner. It was just us Frisbys, Julie & Terrell, and my parents. I can't remember where Tracy & John and Gaylene were. Mr. Frisby and Stella waited near the fountain while we checked out nearby restaurants and he snapped some choice photos.

That night we got lucky and found probably the best restaurant of the trip. You can't really see it well in this pic, but that's it.

It was delicious and it was authentic. And we were introduced to buffalo mozzarella. It's made from the milk of domesticated water buffaloes and it is way better than regular mozzarella. After an excellent meal, we called it a night and headed back to our hotel to rest up for our final day in Rome.