Friday, May 16, 2014

I Survived

(Long post ahead with no pictures--you've been warned!!)

Dramatic title, yes.

But surgery has been something I have feared my entire life.  And I survived it.

Back in February I found a lump along my swim suit line.  I assumed it was just a swollen lymph node.  After consulting with one of my doctor brothers, I decided to wait 4-6 weeks to see if it would go away on its own.  It didn't.  So I went into my obgyn thinking I had some sort of infection.  Right away she determined that it wasn't an infection at all, but an inguinal hernia.  She gave me a referral for a surgeon, and I left the office, not realizing what was in store for me.

I had heard of hernias and vaguely knew what they were.  But I assumed that they would go away on their own.  I knew people had hernia surgeries, but I thought it was only for people whose hernias didn't go away with time.

It wasn't until I got home and read up on it more, and was told by others that the only way to get rid of a hernia was to have it surgically corrected.

And thus began my weeks of denial.  3 weeks passed before I finally called and made an appointment with the surgeon.

At that visit the surgeon couldn't tell for sure if it was a swollen lymph node or a hernia, but either way he said it needed to be removed or fixed.  But he was pretty sure it was a hernia.  He tried to schedule the surgery for 5 days later.  I just laughed and said, no way.  If it took me 3 weeks to make an appointment to see him, I needed more than 5 days to wrap my mind around actually having surgery.  So we set it for 2 weeks later.

And then began 2 of the busiest weeks of my life--getting kids appointments out of the way, grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, weaning Davin, etc--just prepping my mind, the house, and everything else for 4-6 weeks of recovery.

The day of surgery, the surgeon decided that instead of cutting me open right over the hernia/swollen lymph node, he would just assume it was a hernia and fix it laparoscopically.  That turned out to be the best decision he could have made.

What was supposed to be a 30-45 minute surgery turned into a 75 minute surgery.  It turned out that when the surgeon went in to fix the one hernia, he found another--it wasn't bad enough to be visible yet, but it was definitely there.  And two things became apparent:  1) if he hadn't done the surgery laparoscopically, he never would have discovered the second hernia, and 2) if he hadn't seen the other hernia, I would have had to have another hernia surgery in the next year or two.

Ugh.  I don't even want to think about that.  I'm sooooo glad it worked out so well.

It's been exactly one week since the surgery.  Here are some of my observations and feelings on what happened:
--I'm so grateful that Evan's parents and sister, Amy, came the day before surgery and took over my household.  I knew recovering from surgery wouldn't be fun, but I had no idea how bad it would be.  Because of all the work the surgeons do through your abdomen area, the next day you can barely move.  (It doesn't help that I refused to use the prescription pain meds and stuck with ibuprofen, but still--I've never been in so much pain).  I haven't held Davin in a week (I miss my baby!), I haven't done any dishes, or any cleaning--nothing.  In many ways its worse than bed rest.  Evan would be going out of his mind if his parents and sister didn't come and help us out.  Thank you!
--I would much rather go through natural childbirth 10 times over than have surgery again.  At least childbirth felt natural, despite the pain.  Surgery doesn't feel natural, and the recovery is awful.
--With the laparascopic surgery, they inflate your abdomen with air (Co2?), so I left the hospital looking about 25 weeks pregnant.  It has taken a full week for my stomach to get rid of the air and/or swelling.
--I feared the general anaesthesia more than I feared the actual surgery--being completely unconscious and not in control.  It still weirds me out how I was completely aware of everything one minute, but have no recollection of falling "asleep." It's also weird thinking about all they did to my body without me being aware of any of it.  It was my first time under general anaesthesia and I never want to do it again.
--As much as I hated my two months of bed rest with Davin, I can see the blessings that came from it--1-2 weeks of inactivity after surgery is nothing in comparison.
--We have no idea what caused the hernias.  Congenital defect?  Too many flip turns in the pool (I have done hundreds daily for almost 20 years)?  Childbirth?  The surgeon says it doesn't matter what caused it.  But I can't help but wonder.  The good thing is, though, that now that I've had both fixed, I should never have another hernia in my life.  At least not an inguinal hernia.  
--Never in my life did I think I would have a hernia.  Sports injury surgeries, possible.  But I ignorantly assumed that surgery would be something I could evade my entire life.  I eat healthy, I exercise daily.  It was a blow to my ego that I had to have surgery this early in my life.
--It's amazing what they can fix laparascopically through 3 small incisions in your abdomen.  The steri-strips came off today, and I can't believe how small the incisions are.  I was expecting much bigger.  Again, I'm so glad the surgeon decided on laparoscopic surgery, otherwise (aside from what I listed above!) I would have a 3-4 inch incision scar right along my swim suit line, forever being rubbed by my swim suit daily....yeah, don't want to think about that!
--The worst of the recovery is definitely over.  I took a walk around the block today.  It was my first time outside in a week.  1 more week until I can hold Davin.  2 more weeks until I may be cleared for going back to flip-turn-less swimming.  I should be completely healed in 4-6 weeks.

So...yeah.  I survived.  And I really, really hope I never have to have surgery again.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day Tribute

Almost every Mother's Day, my kids come home from church with a Mother's Day card that cracks me up.  It's one of those questionaire type ones, where they answer questions about me.  I love reading their answers and seeing how their perceive me.

This year, these were the questions and answers (if different, Spencer in green, Mea in blue):
-Where is mom from:  Hawaii
-How old:  35, 34
-Favorite thing to do:  builds playhouse in Finland, cook
-Favorite color:  blue
-Dream or favorite vacation:  Finland (Finlid was how Mea spelled it)
-Favorite food:  pancakes, metballs (authentic Mea spelling)
-My mom is special to me because:  She takes care of me, I love her

They were both right about where I'm from, favorite vacation, and favorite color.  Mea got my age right.  And while I do enjoy building playhouses in Finland, and cook daily out of necessity, swimming is probably what I love to do most.  Pancakes are great but not my favorite; meatballs are my kids favorite meal--but the real answer should be donuts.

The last question got me thinking about my own mother.  And then I started trying to answer these questions with my mother in mind.  It was harder than I thought!  Here's my best guess
-From:  born in Utah, raised in California
-Age:  she was born May 30, 1954, so if I'm doing my math right, she'll be 60 at the end of this month.
-color:  and orangey/coral color (I think)
-dream or favorite vacation:  anywhere away from Hawaii
-favorite food:  pea soup (haha, I have no idea.  Pea soup is what she eats the most of in Finland)
-My mom is special to me because:  she's the best possible mom for me and is a great example of how to  be a mom to my own children.

Here are some great lessons I have learned from my mother:
--how to be thrifty.  My mom is queen thrift--she and my dad survived on virtually no income for a very long time, and my mom was constantly denying herself things, even when she finally had the money later in life.  She taught me by example to make do without so many things, and then how to find amazing deals on everything else.  I'm glad to have learned all this--we've needed it--we've been in grad school for 6 years now and have accrued very little debt.
--the importance of paying tithing--despite their low income, my parents were adamant about paying their full 10% tithing.  And they have been blessed because of it.  While they may not have had a lot early on in life, they had what they needed.  And I believe they are being rewarded at this stage in their lives--they live comfortably, are able to travel, and are able to help out their children when in need.  I'm grateful they set such a good example for me in this area.
--the importance of a temple marriage--I distinctly remember my mom telling me as I was growing up that she had determined early on in life that she would get married in the temple and wouldn't settle for anything else.  It helped her later on in life when she met my father, a non-member, to stay strong and determined.  As a result, my father became a member of the church and they married in the temple a year later.  I'm so grateful that she made this a priority in her life.  And it made me determined to do the same.
--you need to learn to live and be happy in whatever situation you are in, whether you like it or not--my mom has lived in Hawaii for over 25 years.  She hates it there.  Or at least she did.  I know it still isn't her favorite place to be, but she has learned to be happy there, even though she has spent her life yearning to live almost anywhere else.  Now, with Evan and I spending so much time in grad school (much more than I initially anticipated we would) I am looking to her example and trying to be happy despite not being where I want to be.
--you don't have to be affectionate to show love--my mom was never very affectionate, but I know she loved me.  As a mother, I am finding that I am also not affectionate, and I constantly worry that my kids don't think I love them.  But I have no doubt that my mother loved me, and my kids constantly reassure me that they know I love them.
--travel can solve a lot of woes--to escape Hawaii, we traveled, every summer and every Christmas.  I have found in my adult life that looking forward to a trip can ease just about any worry, frustration, or setback that comes into my life.  I don't think this was something my mother intentionally tried to teach me, but I'm grateful that I had all those experiences in other places and lands growing up.  And I look forward to every summer and Christmas now because of the tradition that my parents started.

Mom, I love you.  I'm grateful for the example you have set for me.  And I'm grateful you are my mother.  Happy Mother's Day!

Guess Who's 1

Can you believe it??
 1 year ago today (Mother's Day), I brought this booger home from the hospital after his week-long stay in the NICU.  I can't believe a whole year has passed.
 I also can't believe how much he looks like Spencer (April 24, 2006, 1 year old):
And Waimea (October 16, 2008, 1 year old)

It's funny looking back over the pictures--Davin had the biggest piece of cake and ate just about the whole thing.  Waimea had the smallest (just a cupcake) and really only ate the frosting, but was my biggest baby, even at this stage.  Davin is the smallest, but eats the most.  Spencer is somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, here's another picture of Spencer:
 And another of Mea:
And a few more of Davin on his birthday:

We didn't really do anything special on his day, except make him a cake.  We didn't even buy him a gift.  Yep, it has come to that.  A far cry from the birthday luau we had for Spencer when he turned 1.  Oh well.  

Some developments this month:
-He walks with furniture, and walks while holding our hands, but not independently (none of my kids have walked by a year)
-He likes to babble.  By far his favorite thing to say is "Wee-oh wee-oh wee-oh", but sometimes he uses a b or v sound instead or the w.  (Spencer's favorite line was "Daa-doo-baaahh" and Mea's was "doo-be, doo-bah, doo-be, doo-bah")
-He likes to push cars around the carpet and watch their wheels turn:

-He has also started pushing a ball around and crawling after it.  
-He has 4 teeth.  The top two made their appearance a week before he turned 1.
-He had his first haircut this month, and has the most hair of any of my babies.  The other two didn't get a haircut until well into their 2nd year.
-He is an eating machine.  He has two meals at each mealtime, just like a hobbit.  And just like hobbits, we call his meals first and second breakfast, first and second lunch, etc.  Despite all his eating, he is still only 20 lbs (18%).  
-He is my worst sleeper.  But he is slowly improving.  We're finally getting a few stretches of 6 hours of sleep, sometimes 7 (but we are also getting some nights where he wakes up at least 10 times (no joke)--we have been keeping a sleep log for the last couple of months, just for our sanity's sake).  
-He is fully weaned.  He had his last nursing 2 nights after his birthday.  Despite his milk protein sensitivity early on, he seems to be taking to cow's milk okay.  Lactose-free seems to work better for him that the regular stuff.  
-Other measurements:  height-30.3" (66%), head circumference- 48cm (90%)  (Can you believe that??  His head looks so small!).  

We are so blessed to have this little guy in our home.  All babies are miracles, but some are more miraculous  than others--I think back to my pregnancy with him, and the labor and delivery, and I can't believe how lucky we are that he is so happy and healthy.  And cute.  But I'm biased, of course.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

10 Years!

April 24
A happy 10 years to us!

Spencer's 9th Birthday

It's been a few weeks since this happened, but Spencer is now 9!  This year we bought him a real bike, complete with hand brakes and gears.  He had far outgrown his old one.  Here he is opening it up:

We ate dinner at his new favorite restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes (it's a buffet with ice cream)--so he ate his heart out, then finished up with a huge bowl of ice cream.

A few days later he had his "late-over" birthday party.  He really wanted a sleepover, but we said no way.
So he had 7 friends over from 5-9:30.  They started out playing sports at the school across the street:

 When it got too cold (it was below 50 with a strong, cold wind), they cme back and opened gifts:
 They ate a hot dog dinner while watching a movie:
 Then it was cake time:
 I made a Minecraft cake with a picture of Steve:
 Complete with bedrock and dirt levels:
There was some crazy running around and screaming for awhile during some down time, but then we played some Minecraft music videos on YouTube and they all calmed down and had a sing-a-long.  
I don't think we'll ever do it again, but the boys all seemed to have fun.
I still can't believe he's 9.