Friday, March 13, 2009

Break Up

Alright, so my motherly duties are causing me to lack in my blog-writing duties somewhat. I apologize that many of the events on here are now a thing of this years' past, but please keep them in mind for 2010.

Alaska in the full flavor of pre-spring. Of course, we don't call it spring. Maybe it's one more act of refusal to conform, but in Alaska, it's called break-up. It's the time of year that rivers and snow begin to break-up. But what exactly does that mean to those of us who call "Seward's Icebox" our home?

  • Nenana Ice Classic Tickets are on sale. The event is a State lottery of sorts. The goal is to place the closest guess as to when a large tripod will fall through the ice on the part of the Tanana River that flows through the small town of Nenana. Winners take home thousands of dollars annually. I've never played.

  • Bad road conditions. "The brakes are not your friends" phrase is commonly heard at this time of year. In fact, Mom hit a moose with her Subaru last week. She's the first of the family to do so in the nearly 20 years we've been here! She and her car were unscratched. The moose, however, broke both her hind legs and had to be shot. In Alaska, churches are called to salvage all moose road kills, including Mom's.

  • Ice Alaska: The world ice art championships are held in Fairbanks, Alaska. The "coolest" part of this is the kid's park. Fit for all ages, giant ice slides tower above smaller playground equipment: all made of ice. If you aren't up for a trip to Alaska in March, you can visit the Fairbanks Ice Museum from May-September. Though it doesn't hold many sculptures, there is an ice slide, to give you a taste of the real deal.

  • Daylight Saving Time: Alright, some of our legislators are lobbying to get rid of the tradition, but I love it! Sure, in the dead of winter it is dark all the time, and in the middle of summer, we never see the stars, but this time of year, I just like seeing the sun still up at 9pm.

  • Fur Rendezvous: Another event I've never taken part in, though this one sounds GREAT! Held in downtown, Anchorage, participants are welcomed to join in a variety of winter games such as dog sledding and reindeer races.

  • March Madness at Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area: Located on Ft. Wainwright, this is a local favorite. Events include everything from pudding eating contests to ski-n-surf. It is held the last weekend of March.

  • Dog weight-pull championships: The Fairbanks events are usually held in the Bentley Mall parking lot. This is a really fun event to watch or participate in. Dogs compete to see which can pull the sled carrying the most weight. Any dog can participate!

  • Mush For Kids: This event is held at what I must grit my teeth and call "Pioneer Park" (formerly known as "Alaska Land"). It is free event to support the Alaska Children's Trust. Various vendors provide free services for children such as dog sled rides, hockey, puppy petting, crafts, etc.

Though there must be countless more community events happening, I'll end my list here. What I enjoy most this time of year is the water dripping from my roof, the sun shining past 9pm, taking my own dogs on dog sled rides, wearing a light jacket and Crocs to town, and just knowing summer is weeks away!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Babies and Birthdays

As I mentioned in my first blog, I was pregnant. I am no longer. Though my beautiful new son was "due" on April 10'th, I had found out about a complication in my pregnancy called placenta previa. A C-Section was going to be scheduled for the end of March. I began complaining that I wanted an April baby and that choosing your child's birth date is not a natural thing to do. Apparently talking to your baby in-utero works because on Sunday, the 22'nd, at 2:30AM, I woke in pool of blood.

I woke John, changed, and instructed my mom to call the ER with my information: 33 weeks pregnant. Placenta Previa. Massive bleeding. Doctor's name is Bartling. We left the kids in their beds and Mom was here to stay with them.

The sparseness of cars on Alaska roads (especially at 2:30am) came in at a great advantage. John drove over 80 mph to get to Fairbanks Memorial hospital. The administrations clerks at the ER were throwing fits that I was not pre-registered. I told them I was bleeding all over thee floor and they said, "That's ok, we'll clean it up!" LOL, like I cared about the floor!

Once in Labor and Delivery, the Dr. stated the obvious: immediate C-section required. We had to wait for the anesthesiologist, which seemed like forever. Finally, just after 4am, I was taken into the OR. It was 6 minutes from the time I went in, to the time Gabriel Wayne was being walked out! I was not conscious, and I had nearly bled to death. They started a transfusion right then, and I would end up receiving a total of 6 units of blood just to get my blood count stabilized.

On a side note, please consider donating blood to your local blood bank. Thank you, Jen, for donating and saving people's lives. It might not get your name in the newspaper like saving someone from a car accident or something, and you might not get an award for inventing a great piece of life-saving equipment, but giving blood is just as heroic. Somewhere in Fairbanks, Alaska are 6 donors who maybe received a glass of orange juice for their contributions, but they are my heroes. Without their donations and God's mercy, my newborn son would not have his mother today.

Anyway, as I received my care, Gabriel was getting his. He was a tough little fighter! He received lubricating medicines for his pre-mature lungs and was breathing heavily on his own. When his breathing continued to labor, his Dr. opted to put him on a ventilator. Gabriel kicked and swatted at the Dr. so much he had to be sedated. Dr. Foote said we were going to have a discipline problem with this one. I think he was right: a day or two after it was inserted, Gabe removed the breathing tube himself! He seemed to be able to breathe without the heavy laboring, so they left it out and placed a feeding tube through his nose. a day or two after that, he pulled that out!

At that point, it was decided he could suck minute amounts of breast milk through a rubber nipple. He did it, but the "nutrient IV" was still providing his basic needs. The IVs soon began to swell, and an increase of milk volume was made. Gabe sucked it down. By yesterday, at one week old, Gabriel was off the IVs and medicines. He was only hooked to a monitor. A nurse last night put another feeding tube in. She said he only ate half his food, but I have not had any trouble getting him to eat and neither have any other nurses. He eats over a 1/4 of a cup of milk every 3 hours and loves it. Though he dropped from 5 pounds, 12 ounces to 5 pounds, 2 ounces, he has now gained back almost 2 ounces. He has also grown one inch: from 18 inches, to 20. His only step left toward release is maintaining his own body temperature in an open room. Really, that means adding more body fat to keep him warm.

God is amazing. He had this planned and controlled since he first formed Gabriel. As the Psalmist said, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." I truly believe my bout of pneumonia and month-long illness was to keep me from walking and having this happen sooner than it did. Gabriel would not have been ready a day sooner. God made him a large baby too. I know His hand is in all things. I miss my little guy more than anything in the world. The love I have for him truly is, as they say, like wearing my heart on my sleeve. Leaving him in the NICU was very hard, but knowing he is doing so well, makes it much easier. I think he may be home within a week or two.