Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Story of Van's Birth...9 weeks late...

I am going to finally write the story of Van's birth. This will probably end up being a long post so feel free to skip wherever you want...or not read it at all...if anyone even checks this blog anymore.

Van's due date was July 9. He didn't come on July 9. On Friday July 13 I called me doctor and told him that Van was not moving very much so he told me to go the hospital to get a non-stress test done to monitor Van's movements and if they were low then they would induce me. After that phone call I cried because I knew Van needed to come that day. I just had a gut feeling that he was not OK and needed to come out. I didn't understand why we were even wasting our time with the test and why they couldn't just induce me. Before I headed to the hospital for the test Meg, Jesse and I went to Village Inn and ate breakfast. They were trying to brighten my mood in case I was really not going to be induced that day because I was seriously a grumpy goose.

After breakfast we headed to the hospital and as we were checking in for the test the lady there said, "Your Doctor is on the phone right now. He said we should just admit you and induce labor now." Needless to say I was relieved. My gut instincts were right. It was time. They admitted me to my room and started me on IV antibiotics. I am Strep-B positive and as many of you out there know that can be fatal to babies if their mothers aren't given antibiotics before birth. They started me on antibiotics and a slow drip of Petocin (spelling?).

My labor started to progress slowly but surely and after 8 hours they bumped the dosage up and broke my water. I figured we were well on our way at that point but man was I wrong. After 18 hours of labor I was finally fully effaced and dilated. They said I should start pushing. Again, I thought that this wouldn't be longer than an hour of two...but again, I was very wrong.

After 4 1/2 hours of hard pushing my doctor finally said "We are going to use the vacuum twice. If he doesn't come out with that then we will push him back up and do a C-Section." At this point Jesse gave me a blessing that said Van was not supposed to come out via C-Section. That he and I would both recover fully and we would be strong. I was a little scared when it said that we would "both recover fully" but we just pushed forward.

I also need to say here that during my entire labor Van was showing NO signs of distress. He and I were both progressing normally. The only reason why they decided to use the vacuum was because I was so exhausted from 4 1/2 hours of pushing and I started to get Charlie Horses in my neck and upper back and the pain was excruciating. So the doctor used the vacuum once and Van came down very far but wasn't out. They did it a second time and he came down farther but wasn't out. This is the point where they were planning on pushing him back up and doing a C-Section. But as the doctor felt Van he discovered that the umbilical chord was wrapped around his neck twice and if he pushed him back up he would strangle him. So he had to use the vacuum a 3rd time.

The reason why they generally do not use the vacuum 3 times is because of the amount of pressure it puts on the baby's head. But we didn't have a choice, they had to use it a third time or we could lose Van.

The third time was the charm and Van came out. He was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 21.25 inches long. He was born extremely alert and after they cleaned him up and gave him to me I gave him a bottle and he was a champ and ate the whole thing and even gave me a burp (which surprised me since he and I were both completely new at this). He barely cried and was just happy to be there. He did have a bit of a cone head but the NICU nurses checked him out and said he looked fine. Jesse and I then spent time alone with him for about an hour and then they took him to the nursery for his first bath and so Jesse and I could sleep after 22 hours of labor and 4 1/2 hours of pushing.

I fell asleep and I guess a few minutes after the nurse from the nursery came and got Jesse and informed him that Van's head was swelling at an extremely rapid rate and that they had called Van's doctor to come to the hospital right away and they were taking Van down to the NICU. After I had been sleeping for about an hour I was awoken by my doctor (Dr. Nelson) who is also Van's doctor. I was completely shocked to see him since he wasn't supposed to see Van until his 2 week checkup. Dr. Nelson has been my doctor for 10 years and he and I know each other very well. He has helped me through some scary health things in the past, but I had never seen him look the way he did when he woke me up. He told me that Van was in the NICU and that Jesse was with him. He explained a little of what was going on with Van and I said that I didn't think I could see Van in the NICU. I just didn't think I could handle it. And Dr. Nelson very seriously said, "You need to go down there Chelsea. This is very serious." So they wheeled me down to the NICU where the Neonatologist came over to Jesse and I and said "There are 3 scenarios. First, his brain is causing the swelling and he will probably die. Second, he has a bleed from blood vessels rupturing between his skull and his skin and if his blood doesn't clot fast enough he can bleed out and die. Or third he has the same scenario as number two, but if he clots fast enough he will probably make it but might have some developmental problems."

So for the next hour Jesse and I sat in the corner of the NICU and watched dozens of people running around poking and prodding our new baby boy. I cannot explain the despair that we felt during that time. Hours earlier had been the happiest moments of our life and now our precious boy might be taken from us. We cried and prayed and cried some more.

After that hour they told us they needed us to leave the room and if they needed us to donate blood to him or if they needed to give him clotting medication they would call us in our room. Those several hours in our room were spent crying and sitting in silent prayer.

After about 10 hours they finally let us go down and see him. He was extremely sedated and his head was so swollen it was heartbreaking to see. I felt such guilt that I didn't know more and didn't force them to give me a C-Section earlier. I had to keep reminding myself of the blessing I got right before Van was born that said he could not come out via C-Section. But it was still so hard to see him suffering and not be able to take it all from him. We didn't get to hold him or touch him, but Jesse and I sat in there for a few hours and Jesse gave him a blessing and we had our first family prayer together.

I also need to mention that at this time both of our families were fasting and praying for Van. Many of Jesse's work friends fasted as well. And I am sure many more people prayed and fasted on our behalf than we even know about. We felt that support and it was the only thing keeping us together.

That night they told us the best thing we could do was sleep and if Van took a turn for the worse they would come get us. They didn't get us all night and in the morning when we went down to the NICU they told us they were confident that the swelling was not his brain, but that it was blood vessels which had burst from the use of the vacuum 3 times. They said his blood was clotting extremely well and they didn't know how he was doing so well. That is the first time I got to hold him since the moment after he was born and I cannot explain the complete bliss I felt to have my baby in my arms.

At that time they told us they expected him to be in the NICU for the next 6 days. The swelling stopped growing and they also said they were confident that he wouldn't have any brain damage. I was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon. We went and visited him that night and then again the next morning (which was Tuesday and they told us the earliest he would leave would be Friday). When we walked in they asked us if we wanted to listen in on rounds and hear the update on Van. As we sat in rounds and they talked about Van the news was all amazing. The Neonatologist who had been caring for Van 24/7 for the last 4 days turned to Jesse and I with tears in his eyes and said, "We see a lot of miracles down here, but this is one of the most drastic I have seen. I have no idea how I am saying this to you today, but you can take your son home. He is healthy and has exceeded all of our expectations." Jesse and I were excited and scared to death. Van still had headaches and swelling but they spent hours telling us how to care for him and as we left the hospital that afternoon the nurses lined up and clapped for us as we walked out. Some of them cried right along with us. And we were so blessed to have so many amazing nurses and doctors caring for our sweet Van. We were so blessed to be at IMC (Intermountain Medical Center) in Murray where they had such an excellent NICU so he didn't have to be Life-Flighted anywhere, and we were so blessed that our sweet Van had NO lasting effects. He is a normal baby who has changed our lives for the better and has already taught us so much. We love him and can never express how grateful we are for the miracles that our little family received. Here are some pictures of our adorable Vanner Man:

My first time holding him after he was in the NICU (2 days old)

I love him in this Pooh Bear hat! (2 weeks old)
First time in the 8 weeks old.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's a Mad, Mad World...

Well it's just a mad, mad world, isn't it?

Little did I know when I wrote that last post (which was really depressing...sorry about that) that I was 4 days pregnant.

Jesse and I have tried to get pregnant for 4 years and obviously hadn't been having much luck.

We were going to start the adoption process in the next year or so. I wasn't too stressed about it. I just wanted to get the Graves Disease taken care of and then we'd get the ball rolling on having a baby.

When I found out I was pregnant I was overwhelmed. I read up on babies born to mothers with un-treated Graves Disease and the odds of my little babe being born with Graves Disease was extremely high. I just felt so guilty that I was going to make this innocent little baby go through so much. But Jesse gave me a blessing and it said that this baby was coming when it was supposed to and that it would have extra protection in my belly. And that everything would be fine. So when I think about it too much or start feeling guilty I just re-read my journal entry from the night Jesse gave me the blessing and the anxiety is lessened.

Since then, we have found out that we are having a boy! And he is growing healthy and strong. And everything looks "normal" as far as they can tell. I can't tell you what a relief it all is.

I am 24 weeks and I am still sicker than a dog. But I don't care as long as this little boy continues to grow healthy and strong. I will go through whatever I have to if it means he can have a healthy and strong body. I pray every day that he will.

I am still scared to death to be a mom, and I don't know if I'll ever be ready, but I am so grateful that I am pregnant and that the Lord has blessed me with so much!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A sad day...

Today is a sad day. It's not the end of the world. And I am grateful that I do not have thyroid cancer, but today I had some scary news confirmed.

I have Graves Disease.

And I think they couldn't have given the disease a scarier name.

I will see an Endocrinologist in 2 weeks and we will decide whether to do radioactive treatments to pretty much kill my thyroid or if we should completely remove it.

To be completely honest I would rather get the stupid thing out so that the worst parts of this incurable auto-immune disease would be stopped in their tracks, but we shall see what he has to say.

But for today I am going to cry a bit and let myself feel sorry for this crap that has been put on my plate.

And tomorrow I will move on and be positive.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Today I had to wait 2 hours to find out if I had Thyroid cancer. Those were some of the worst 2 hours of my life.

After waiting those 2 hours I went into my Doctor's office and he said he is "extremely confident" that I do not have cancer. I can't tell you the overwhelming joy I felt when those words came out of his mouth.

I am going in for a thyroid ultra-sound in an hour to see if there are any growths on my thyroid. They believe it is shutting down. My sister Marissa had half of her thyroid removed a few years ago and has had no problems since, so let's hope I am in the same boat as her.

I just had to post and say how grateful I am. Some days are extremely hard and I have been pretty sick lately, but I am so grateful that my illnesses are not going to make me leave this earth anytime soon. I am also grateful for my amazing boss, my amazing husband (who changed his flight to come home early from a work trip as soon as I called him and told him that I might have cancer...he is ALWAYS so good to me, but it's times like this that I am reminded of his devotion to me...and of mine to him), for my Megs...she takes more stress & pain from me than I probably even know...and for my cute Mom who has the busiest life & doesn't have a moment for herself, but she is always willing to drop ANYTHING to be by my side.

I am overwhelmed and grateful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crohn's Disease Article

My mom sent this article to me and it made me cry. The way the lady in the article explains the way Crohn's controls her life is exactly how I feel and it was nice to hear someone else take the words right out of my mouth.

I also appreciate that there are doctors out there searching for the cause of Crohn's so they can help cure it so that people like me can live life more fully without wondering when the next flare up will be and how long it will last. I am so grateful that I live in this day and time when I can get the help I need and continue to have hope. I am also very grateful that none of my cousins, siblings, parents, or aunts and uncles have this disease as far as we know (the article talks about one family in which several cousins have the disease and I hope my family continues to not share in this statistic).

If any of you haven't heard my Crohn's story and want to know more I am always willing to talk about it. Leave me a comment if you have questions or if you want to hear more. I am not going to write it all down here unless I feel like people would actually want to hear it.

Thanks for listening to me...

Here's the article from the Deseret News:

Discovery of 'hitchhiking' gene at University of Utah could bring scientists one step closer to defeating Crohn's disease

SALT LAKE CITY — It began with a stomach ache when Charlotte Shragge was in her 20s.

At the time, she thought it was due to the poor diet of a typical college student. But then it got worse.

"I started getting sick and having a lot of digestive issues," she said. "It got to the point that I didn't even go out in public, it was so debilitating. I really didn't feel safe leaving home and not knowing where I could find the next restroom."

Her parents took her to a doctor and she was ultimately diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a debilitating and painful chronic bowel disorder that affects an estimated 700,000 people in the United States.

Scientists believe there is a genetic link to the disease, but finding a cure remains elusive because its cause is thought to be linked to as many as 70 different genes. One Utah doctor believes his research may bring scientists one small step closer to reaching a better understanding of the causes of Crohn's, and hopefully closer to a cure.

Now 37, Shragge treats her disease with a variety of drugs, monitoring her stress, and staying away from certain foods when she has a flareup. Still, drugs lose their effectiveness over time and she must be re-evaluated for new ones. Flareups can come on suddenly and can last anywhere from a week to as long as four months.

"Having a chronic disease can be a bit of a roller coaster. I've had long periods of feeling great and I've had other periods of feeling just downright ill, and wondering what the next step is," Shragge said. It's not uncommon for body fatigue and joint pain to settle in as well.

"We've looked at Crohn's disease recurrence in families," said Dr. Stephen Guthery, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah who also treats Crohn's patients at Primary Children's Medical Center. Guthery said the link among family members is evidence of a genetic risk for Crohn's.

Shragge said after being diagnosed she discovered she had several cousins who also had the condition. She said she recently lost a cousin who suffered from chronic ulcerative colitis and succumbed to colon cancer. She said she wanted to share her story in order to spread awareness.

"It's not something that I'm going to hide or be ashamed of," she said.

There are genetic risk factors for a variety of diseases, such as heart disease or obesity. Guthery said with Crohn's there are believed to be around 70 identified genetic risk factors, making it an extremely complex condition to understand.

Taking samples of 100 Utah Crohn's patients, as part of over 1,800 patients across the country and in Russia, Guthery and his group traced protein levels to their genetic origins. What they found was a history that went back as far as the first humans to grow domesticated crops. In a study published this month in the British journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, Guthery and a team of other researchers traced the early origins of a key digestive gene. What they found was that genetic mutations that allowed early humans to better digest domestic crops had a "hitchhiker" gene that contributes to Crohn's.

"Our work suggests that one genetic mutation in this region became common in Europeans because it was beneficial, and that neighboring disease-causing genetic changes hitchhiked and became more common," Guthery said.

The story actually goes back further to the Fertile Crescent area, which is now parts of Iraq, Iran and Israel. Early crops, such as lentils, peas, wheat and barley, were low in the amino acid ergothioneine and humans genetically adapted to better digest the food. However, other mutations also took place.
"In this case, we think an adaptation to a transient change in diet around 12,000 years ago resulted in a genetic predisposition of Crohn's disease that is present in about half of all Europeans today," said Chad Huff, the study's lead author and human genetics research fellow at the U.

"We feel that we're getting closer," Guthery said.

Meanwhile, people like Shragge manage their condition with drugs, diet and exercise. Shragge admits that one of her favorite foods is Mexican. When her condition is dormant, she can handle it just fine, but it's always taking a chance.

"It really is kind of like playing Russian roulette," she said.