Friday, November 26, 2010

Here's the Whole Story...

We've had posts on Facebook, one update on the blog, hundreds of text messages, and phone calls and visits from family and friends....but, from the beginning, we haven't updated everyone with the "whole story" of Andrew's grand entrance into our world. On Saturday, November 20th at 1:30 am, I woke up from a dead sleep with bad stomach pains. I got up and tried to go to the bathroom (thinking I was having gas pains, as many pregnant women do), I went back to bed and tried to get comfortable, I tossed and turned, got up and walked around again, drank some water, tried to go to the bathroom again, but nothing was working. I was very uncomfortable, but these pains didn't feel like contractions, it just plain hurt, it hurt so bad that I started to cry....this woke Brandon up. He asked what hurt and how he could help and I didn't know! I didn't know what to do! Brandon said that we needed to go to the hospital, but I told him I didn't want to go if it was just gas pains....he said, "we need to go and it doesn't matter if it's just gas!" So...we woke up Parker....who was actually excited to go...threw on our sweats, and we headed to the hospital at 3:00 am.

At the Hospital

When we got to the hospital, they took me up to the Labor and Delivery Unit, right away....Brandon and Parker stayed down to make sure all of my paperwork was complete. The L & D Unit was quiet....only one nurse on duty because there were no patients. Sara, the nurse had me go potty and change into a gown so she could hook up the monitors and she had me lay down in the bed. She checked me over and then called my doctor. Dr. Sinclair told her to start me on IV fluids because my lab work showed that I was dehydrated and they established that I was having contractions that were about 5 minutes apart. The nurse checked my cervix, which was not dilated at all, so she also thought I was dehydrated and just have some minor contractions. Dr. Sinclair asked that I stay until she comes by in the morning and that they continue to monitor me and check my cervix. I told Brandon and Parker to go on home and that I would keep them updated and call them in the morning. This was around 4:30 am. The nurse called in the back-up nurse and they both monitored my contractions. The pain went away, but I was still having "moderate" contractions. Half an hour later, Sara checked my cervix again and said there had been some change in it...that I was dilating. She left the room for a few minutes and the other nurse asked me to rate my pain- it had gone down, so she didn't seem concerned.

What happened next caused a domino effect of a whirlwind that I will never forget. Sara came back in the room and said, "You need to call your husband. Dr. Sinclair ordered us to get you prepped for a c-section, STAT." I started shaking and crying, as the nurses flew into action. They left the room so I could call Brandon....I woke him up with my phone call and said through my tears, "You have to come back up, Dr. Sinclair wants to do the c-section STAT." Not knowing any details about why she was doing it, I didn't know what to tell Brandon. The nurses came back in and explained a little further- because you are dilating so fast and your contractions are so strong, Dr. Sinclair wants to do the c-section now to avoid the risks associated with a VBAC. They asked if I had any questions and if I understood what they were saying....I told them I understood, but that I was not ready for this. I was shaking and trying to hold back tears....the nurses said they were just as surprised as I was and that they needed to get me prepped as fast as possible. Dr. Sinclair came in and she held my hand and asked if I had called Brandon. I told her I did, but that I didn't know what to tell him. I gave her Brandon's phone number and she called him to explain why they were doing the emergency c-section.

The next few minutes went by so fast- they got me prepped, took me down to surgery, started the spinal block....the whole time, I'm asking where Brandon is, and they are telling me that he will be in after I'm all ready. They then begin testing my pain level and I was so scared- any needles, blood, stitches, etc. scare the heck out of me and I'm going through this all by myself! I couldn't believe what was happening and I was very anxious...shaking out of my skin! Then, Brandon came running in! He explained that our neighbor and friend, Jenise, came over to stay with Parker until my mom got there...everything was okay and we were going to have our baby boy!! They started the surgery and before I knew it I heard my baby boy crying! They cleaned him up and brought him around for us to see- he was there! Andrew Laine Riffel was actually born!!! Andrew was born on November 20, 2010 at 7:00 am!!!! Andrew was around 1 month early from his original due date and we were planning on his arrival via planned c-section on December 10th...But, here he was!!!! I was so excited to have him here, to hold him, to introduce him to my Parker, snuggle with him, feed him, take him home to meet Bella, etc. There was so much to be thankful for and I couldn't believe that it had all just happened!

Brandon and Andrew got to head upstairs with the L & D nurses to meet the rest of our family and to be examined. I stayed down in the surgery room until I started to regain feeling in my lower half, and then they took me upstairs. When we got up to my room, Andrew was in the nursery and I got to go by and see him- he was the most precious baby boy I'd ever seen (since Parker, of course) and our families were all there waiting for us to give them approval to see him and to hear his precious name! The doctor then explained Andrew's breathing condition to us- most babies that are born at full term, go through the labor process, and are fully developed, have surfactant on their lungs to help them breath...babies that are born pre-term sometimes down't have this in their lungs to help them have control over their breathing. This is also sometimes called rapid respiratory syndrome. My sweet baby was breathing so hard- too hard- and because he was so big (8 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long), it was very hard for his lungs to keep up with his body. Dr. Sinclair said that most babies will clear up on their own in 24 to 48 hours and the surfactant will develop and their breathing will slow down. Andrew now had 80% of his oxygen provided by oxygen tubes. The next 24 hours were hard- we couldn't hold Andrew, I couldn't try to feed him, our family and friends that came by to visit could only see Andrew through the nursery was hard. I was kind of thankful that I was on drugs from the surgery because what was happening didn't really sink in for me.

The next day, Andrew was not making any progress. The nursery nurse, Amy, decided to let us in the nursery to be close to Andrew- thank God for Amy! I got to hold Andrew while they changed his bedding, Brandon got to take pictures, the Grandmas got to take a peek at him, and the best part of the morning- Amy gave Parker a step stool so that he could look at Andrew in his crib and Parker could kiss Andrew and tickle his toes. Parker was on cloud nine- he was the big brother, he was the center of attention with his little brother, he was so special and loving every minute of it! This is the best memory I have of having Andrew- Parker and Andrew together!

Also, that next morning, Dr. Sinclair came in to check on all of us and she said we needed to make a decision. Andrew's TTN (or RDS) was not improving. She wanted to know what we wanted to do- we could stay in Ottawa and evaluate him further (for the next 24 hours) or we could go ahead and transfer him to OPRMC where they can administer the surfactant and, hopefully, that would cure him! This was hard- I would not be able to go with him to OPRMC because I could not be discharged from the hospital until the next (Monday) morning. But, all I wanted was for my baby boy's distress to be over, for him to be comfortable and breathing on his own. Dr. Sinclair made the call to OPRMC and one of their NICU teams was in Ottawa in 45 minutes. As a mom, this is the hardest thing I've ever gone through- our family was there with us, the nurses were talking us through everything, some friends came to visit, and the NICU team was working on our baby boy to get him ready for travel...they were also talking us through everything- from the ambulance ride to OP to what would happen when they got there. Also during this time, the team gave Andrew a dose of surfactant....within minutes, Andrew's breathing got better and he was down to needing 40 percent oxygen. After this, they got Andrew ready for travel and intubated him with a ventilator. As they wheeled him out of the nursery in the travel unit, I started crying and wanted so badly to go with him, to hold his hand, to give him kisses, and I wished so bad that none of this was happening. I saw tears go down Brandon's face and we had a moment alone with Andrew and Parker before they left. Brandon was going to OP with Andrew, and I was left at the hospital in Ottawa for one more night. I felt useless and hurt for my baby.

I had a quiet night in Ottawa, Parker stayed at home with my mom, and Brandon went to Overland Park to be with Andrew. We were all so scared. I could tell Parker was confused, I was tired, hurting, and super emotional, and Brandon was staying strong and keeping me updated all night. We found out that Andrew's condition was very normal in pre-term babies, especially those born via c-section and males. Brandon told me that with a case like Andrew's their average stay in the OP NICU was 7 days and that they had no reason to think Andrew would be there longer than that. Andrew was improving so much and was so strong, the doctors were expecting him to pull through like a champ! The next morning (Monday), my mom came to get me at the hospital, we went by our house (quickly) and she packed bags for Brandon, myself, and Parker to stay in DeSoto for a couple of nights to be closer to Andrew. Parker really wanted to be with me and I could tell he was stressed about something and he was not acting like himself.

Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU

I've never been so scared. Brandon met us at the entrance to the hospital with a wheel chair for me, my mom and Parker followed us in. My sister was there and my step dad was there with us. I don't remember all of the details, but I do remember walking into the NICU for the first time. We signed in and scrubbed....I mean we scrubbed for 3 minutes up to our elbows, we filled out health paperwork and we got "parents" wristbands to go back to the NICU hallways. Brandon wheeled me down the hallway to Tulip Lane to room #2 where Andrew was. I'm not sure that I've ever been so sad walking down that hallway- there were over 35 babies in the NICU- they have room for 70. These are tiny babies. Their family's lives have also been turned upside-down. Most of them were worse off than Andrew. Most of them were itty bitty preemies. I was thankful- thankful because I knew that Andrew's condition would get better.

I saw my Andrew....hooked up to all kinds of monitors, with 2 IVs, an oxygen tube in his nose, a feeding tube in his nose, and a ventilator hanging out of his mouth. I was sad. I was scared. I didn't know what to think....I thought he was doing better....why did he look so miserable? Why was this happening to all of these sweet, innocent little babies? I talked to the doctor, the nurse practitioner, his current nurse, and to Brandon. Brandon made the most sense....all I cared about...his oxygen had been reduced to 25%- in less than 24 hours, he had improved tremendously! That's my boy! I felt so good about our decision to transfer him and I was excited!

We went back out and went down to the cafeteria for lunch- Parker still wasn't acting like himself, but none of us were, so I thought he was just picking up on our sadness and feeling the same- completely understandable. Brandon's parents also came up to the hospital on Monday, my family left, and Parker went home with Brandon's parents. We stayed at the hospital until after dinner and then went to DeSoto to spend the night.

On Tuesday, Brandon, Parker, and I went back to the hospital. My mom met us up there and took Parker with her to visit Cooper and Cameron (Parker's cousins). They were going to Union Station to the Planetarium with Big Bird, so that Brandon and I could have the day with Andrew. His progress was great again! There was talk of taking him off the ventilator and his breathing was improving. We stayed with him all day and enjoyed every minute with him!! We were planning on staying in DeSoto again on Tuesday night, but when Mom got back to the hospital with Parker, he said, "I reawlly, reawlly want to go home, Mom." So, we decided that my mom would take Parker back to our house and Brandon and I would go get all of our stuff from DeSoto. Parker was still acting sad and it was breaking my heart to watch my big guy go through this experience. We left DeSoto and were on our way home when my mom called, just to tell me they were in Ottawa and that Parker was not eating and was sad. I told her that he might have an ear infection (he gets this way when he is sick) and that I would take his temperature when we got home- Mom decided to go ahead and take it and he did have a fever of 100.5 degrees- high enough that my Mom didn't think we should come home to a sick boy and then try to go to the NICU the next day. We had to call the NICU and tell them that we'd been exposed to an illness and we needed to know what the protocol was for that.

This sent me over the edge- I'd just had major surgery, I had a new baby...a sick new baby, I was tired, I hadn't been home for 4 days, my 3 year old was sick.....and I couldn't do anything about any of it! I was completely out of control. I started sobbing in the car...Brandon was trying to keep his composure and stay strong for me, but I could tell he was worried, he was tired, he was stressed beyond the edge. I'd lost it....I was an emotional wreck. I'd had enough. We called the nurse and luckily, the nurse said it didn't matter- as long as we didn't feel sick, we could be around Parker and still go into the NICU. Thank God!

It was so nice to be at home, to sleep in our beds, and to have some normalcy. On Wednesday morning we found out Parker had strep throat and he was put on antibiotics. Brandon went to the doctor as a follow up to his nose surgery from the previous week (I forgot to mention that....Brandon's surgery was not yet completely healed and here he is, taking care of everyone else). After that, Brandon and I went to OP and my mom and Parker stayed at our house for a nice, quiet day at home. This was very much needed for Parker. When we got up to the hospital, we found out that they had removed the ventilator- this was wonderful news! The doctor was expecting to even have Andrew off of the oxygen before too long- his breathing was almost normal and they had started feeding him breast milk through the tube in his nose. I felt good- finally I could do something to help him heal by providing nourishment for his body. As a new mother, one of the most important roles you play is providing food for your baby and I was finally able to do that for Andrew! Wednesday was a great day- Parker got rested up, Andrew was continuing to improve, Brandon was doing great with his surgery and he continued to take care of everything, and I was finally starting to feel good- walking okay, eating well, etc.

On Thursday, I remembered everything I had to be thankful for! I am so blessed to have my husband who takes care of all of us, my son, Parker is the sweetest, smartest little man I've ever met, and my fighting Andrew is tough and I am thankful for his toughness. I am thankful for my doctor, for all of the nurses that have helped us, for our parents, for our siblings, for our friends who continue to pray for us and be there with open ears and hearts, and most of all I am thankful for this time. Although this experience we are all having is very hard, probably the worst time of my life, it is also something we are going through together and we are making it. We are getting through this and even though it is hard, Brandon still holds my hand as we drive home from OP at night, Parker still shows me his "I Love You" sign and blows me kisses, my mom still calls to check on us and runs to Walgreens to make sure we have milk, bread, etc., my siblings call and visit, etc. This is a hard time, but it is also a time that we will never get back with our family, with our boys, and with each other. Brandon and I are thankful for this time and to have the blessing of a new baby boy who is getting healthier every day. On Thursday they removed the oxygen tube from Andrew's nose and they started feeding him more through his nose feeding tube.

Andrew's obstacle was, and continues to be the residual that is left behind after he eats through the nose tube. Luckily, we've had a couple of the best nurses in the world these past couple of days, who know that all I want to do is hold him and feed him, so they've decided to let us bottle feed him a little bit at a time to see if that goes down better. That is where we are at today. Parker is feeling better and got to spend time with his cousins, Morgan and Avery, today which makes him very happy. Probably the hardest part of this has been, and continues to be, the fact that Parker can't see Andrew and he doesn't know what's happening. All Parker knows is that we leave him everyday for a few hours to go visit Andrew....this isn't the picture we painted for him during the past nine months and I think he is confused about it. Why isn't my little brother at home? Why is my mom kinda sad all the time? What happened to my normal routine?

This is all hard. We've seen a lot of tears in the past week. As Andrew's one week birthday comes up tomorrow, I still can't believe it's all happening to us. This isn't how is was supposed to be. I had it planned out....everything was planned perfectly. What I've learned from this is: the plans are not always the best way for it to be- Andrew is here with us now and I can't imagine it any other way. Although, I can't wait for all four of us to be at home, under the same roof, that's not how it is, and I've had to accept that. Everyone that knows me, knows that I like my routine. I like to know that the house will be cleaned on Friday, that all of the laundry will be put away on Sunday afternoon, that I'll be at work tomorrow, that Parker will go to daycare, that Brandon's doctor's appointment is on Wednesday, etc. I like to know exactly what is going to happen every minute of the day. This is no longer the case. On November 20, 2010, this changed. I don't care that the laundry isn't done, that we didn't watch our show on Tuesday night, that the house isn't vacuumed. All that I want is to have my family be okay. I want everyone to healthy and happy and together. I can't wait for that to happen. I know that it will happen soon, but until that day comes, that is what I'm wishing for and that's all I want.

So...that's where we're at. That's the story from the beginning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Yes, the IV being in his head now is scary. However, they said it is more comfortable and stays in place better. He's completely off oxygen and antibiotics. Getting 10cc of milk or formula every 3 hours. His eyes have been open looking around. He is very happy to have his mommy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Story Time

Every Tuesday evening at the Ottawa Library there is Story Time. We try to take Parker every Tuesday, and even though both Brandon and I aren't quite feeling like ourselves, last night was no exception (although I did ask Grandma Robbie to join us so that she could get on the floor and help Parker with his craft)! Usually Story Time is fun, but last night must have been one of Parker's favorites because as he was falling asleep last night (actually, I thought he was asleep), he said, "Mom, I had a reawlly, reawlly, reawlly fun time at Story Time tonight..." Maybe it was because his neighborhood buddies were there or because they read about vegetables and how they grow, or maybe it's because he had so many "fans" there last night to do fun things with, but we are so thankful for Story Time and Miss Shannon for everything they do for our Parker! I don't have any pictures from Story Time tonight, but I'll make sure I post some next Tuesday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quiet House......

The laundry is all done (and put away), house is clean, cleaned up the front yard, wrapped as many Christmas presents as I can (without going to buy gift bags), dishes are done.....and it's completely quiet in my home (except for the random snore coming from Brandon as he naps beside me). We are going on 2.5 days of not having Parker or Bella in our home and I may drive myself insane getting things done around the house. As you know, I'm a little compulsive about cleanliness and organization in my home and now that it's all done....well, everything that a 36 week pregnant woman can do...I am noticing how empty our home is without Parker and Bella to liven things up! I am missing the random banter of my son who talks so much and tells so many fun stories....I am missing my sweet Bella who would normally be snuggled up beside my legs on this cool fall day. Parker and Bella both bring so much love into our home!! I am also missing my normally animated, talkative, sweet husband, who instead looks empty and sad because of his surgery. As Brandon has been telling me every day of my pregnancy (on the good and the bad days), you just need to take it one day at a time. I said that to Brandon on Friday night, yesterday, and today, and he looked at me with his miserable eyes that are begging for his pain and discomfort to go away. I am thankful that I can be with him on this quiet Sunday and help to make him feel better and heal and I am thankful that Parker and Bella are with Grandma and Pa Pa and having fun without us (I know they are because earlier, Parker spent an hour on Skype telling me all about it!). So, I'll sit here with Brandon and be thankful for a quiet house....but, I want everyone to know that I miss my crazy house...where Parker's toys are all over and he's telling me a story about it....where Bella has requested to come in and out of the house 5 times because she knows I'll give her a treat....and my house where Brandon is chasing Parker for tickles and they are both laughing hysterically, as I tell them to slow down and stop being so rowdy. Today my house is quiet and today I miss my home that is full of love and laughter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nose Job!

My poor husband has been battling asthma, sinus infections, congestion, colds, mouth-breathing, snoring, etc. for his entire life. FINALLY this fall he decided enough was enough and he made an appointment to see the ear, nose, and throat doctor. After trying some nose spray for a few weeks, the doctor recommended that Brandon have a nose job! The doctor told Brandon what we knew all along...he has a deviated nasal septum causing him blockage in his nasal passage way which makes it constantly congested, causing sinus infections, and it is always hard for him to breathe. So, tomorrow morning, Brandon will undergo surgery to correct this where they will straighten it out and shave off some of the nose bone to allow for more room in the nasal passage way. So, tomorrow morning, keep Brandon in your thoughts, and let's all hope this surgery will finally give him some relief! It's a good thing Parker got my nose! LOL!

Bye, Bye old nose!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun Fall Afternoon

Happy Anniversary!

As I've mentioned numerous times in this blog- sometimes our family life seems so crazy (which is Parker's newest favorite word..."Mom, that tree is crazy" or "Mom, you are so crazy!") and we get caught so caught up in keeping up with everything that we don't have time to celebrate the little and sometimes the big milestones in our life! This fall has been, undoubtedly, the busiest, most stressful time of our life (so far) and when our 6 year anniversary rolled around on October 23rd, we just didn't have time to celebrate. I had to work that weekend at Homecoming (which is fun, of course, but definately not the same as spending time with your husband for your anniversary) and it just seemed like everyday surrounding our anniversary was filled with family, work, friend, or some other obligation we'd gotten ourserlves into.

FINALLY....on Friday, November 5th (two weeks after our anniversary date), Brandon and I had a plan to go out! We were going to head to PF Changs for dinner and do a little shopping!! Yeah! Finally, a night out together....just us two! As most of you know, I am 8 months pregnant...tired most of the time...huge, uncomfortable, not able to enjoy food as much as usual, etc. So, when the time came to actually go to the plaza, walk around, eat to our hearts content, enjoy eachother's company....we decided all that we really wanted to do was enjoy the company of one another. We opted to go to Olathe and eat at Pei Wei (instead of wasting time and driving to the plaza), we decided to head home after eating and watch a movie (instead of walking around and shopping), and we ended up just watching the TV shows we needed to get caught up on.

The fun part of all of this is...I had just as much fun as if we'd done something extravagant, because I was with Brandon! And...the best part was that we knew Parker was also having fun with his cousins at the farm with Grandma and Grandpa Strahm.

When I went to pick Parker up on Saturday afternoon, I found them jumping in a huge pile of leaves, jumping on the hay bales, and tackling grandpa! They'd been outside for hours and were having the best time a little boy could have playing with eachother. We are truly blessed for cousins (as well as grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles) and how much Parker enjoys his time with them!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Chore Chart

I never thought I'd be assigning my 3-year old "chores" to do! For the past week or so, I've been coming into work late and explaining that it was because Parker wouldn't get dressed This gave my one of my friends at work the opportunity to tell me that her 9-year old son still doesn't want to wear jeans and that she had similar experiences with him as a toddler with getting dressed and ready for the day. She told me that she uses chore charts with both of her kids to get them to do simple things around the house and for themselves. I decided to try this, so I created my own chore chart for Parker and we started it on Sunday, telling Parker that his reward for doing all of his "chores" for the week would be go to Chuck E Cheese on Saturday! I know what you're thinking....and Brandon said the same thing, "But, we can't go to Chuck E Cheese every weekend!" For the first week, we're starting out big and the rewards will get smaller as the weeks go on, but I wanted Parker to be "reawlly, reawlly" excited about this one!

Parker has been "reawlly, reawlly" excited about it and everytime he does something on his "chore chart" he draws a "P" or a "1" or a "O" on it. He reminds me that he has to put this on his chart and then he also says something about going to Chuck E Cheese!

Today was the first day in about two weeks that we haven't seen tears in the morning! I told him it was time to get dressed, I brought out what he wanted to wear and at first I was worried that we were going to have a meltdown...Parker said, "I'm not ready to get dressed." After looking at his cartoon and then looking at me again, he said, "Okay, now I'll get dressed." It's like he remembered that it was one of his chores!

We've changed two things about our lives in the past few days...we added the chore chart and we now go to bed earlier (for all of us!) and I think they are working! No tears = happy family! Now...if only I could get away with creating a chore chart for Brandon!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Terrible Threes??!!

My Parker is the sweetest, most loving little boy anyone will ever why is it that as soon as he turned three, it seems like he has changed into not only a big boy, but also a VERY independent little guy!! Don't get me wrong, my sweet, little guy is still here, but every now and then he shows signs of the "terrible threes." I've heard people talk about the "terrible twos" and I've heard rumors that three is the new two, but I never thought Parker would have the same "issues" as other little kids. Parker has learned to do everything perfectly....walk, talk, go potty, etc., but now that he's hit the age of three, he absolutely WILL NOT get dressed! Every morning we wake up, eat breakfast, watch cartoons, and brush our teeth with no complaints from my little man....but, as soon as I pull out his clothes, the crying begins....he runs, he hides, and he gets very upset about wearing anything other than his favorite PJ's and his favorite shorts and t-shirt. We're trying EVERYTHING we can and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and we have to force our tear streaked little man to wear sweats and a sweatshirt (the most comfortable outfit in the world!). I've had all sorts of suggestions from other moms and I'm trying everything!!!! I know this is just a phase, but every morning we're going through this....we even had to persuade him to wear his Halloween costume! This is one of those everyday moment in our life that I wanted to share. Maybe it's to get some much-needed advice, but also so I can document it and know that it isn't going to last forever and that in a month (or so), I'll look back at this post and laugh at it!