Friday, May 1, 2015

Dean's story

My emotions have been all over the map these past couple of days.  But I wanted to get my thoughts written down sooner than later.

What a journey our family has been on!  I feel like we have been stretched and pulled, and broken, and torn into a million pieces.  But through it all, I think both my husband and I can agree, our blessings definitely outweigh the trials.  We truly feel so loved and supported beyond anything we could ever imagine.  Thank you to all our family and friends who have been with us through thick and thin.  We love you.

Last night (April 30, 2015), I gave birth to my fifth child: Gary Dean Martin.  Named after his two grandpas--Papa Gary and Papa John Dean.  His body was delivered into this world at only 24 weeks gestation.  He weighed a whopping 11 ounces and was 8 inches tall.

We had learned earlier that morning that there was no heartbeat during the scheduled ultrasound--ugh, I don't wish that experience on any parent.  We don't know exactly when our little bean had passed away, but we had heard his heart beating strongly just one week earlier.  I had been going to weekly heartbeat checks because of his diagnosis of Down Syndrome and the likelihood a severe heart defect.  And just a couple of weeks earlier, the doctor discovered fluid building around Dean's heart, head, and abdomen.  This is commonly known as hydrops fetalis--or basically heart failure.  So we knew that death in utero was a strong possibility...we were just hoping for a miracle.

I delivered him at the Yakima Memorial hospital at 10:19 pm. It was a peaceful and calm experience.  The staff was outstanding.  They were sensitive to every one of our needs.  I feel so blessed.  We took lots of pictures and spent hours holding and loving our little guy.  I am completely amazed at how careful and loving my husband was with Dean.  He wouldn't let Dean be by himself.  He held him pretty much the whole time until the funeral director came to pick him up.

Dean didn't resemble what we were anticipating a 24 week baby to look like.  He had a lot of fluid built up and some of his features were hard to distinguish.  I think that was the hardest part about all of this; it broke my heart that his physical body was so sick.  They tell us that he didn't suffer any pain.  And I really want to believe that.  I hope it's true.

We tried to take pictures that we and the kids could forever remember him by.  My dear friend Brittany sacrificed her time to come to Yakima leaving behind a 4 month old nursing baby to spend those precious hours taking pictures and capturing the candid moments.  I think it was close to 2 am before she left.  Thank you, Brittany.  This was truly a beautiful gift.

We decided it was important for our family records to give Dean's body a name and a blessing.  So, the papas (whom Dean is named after) and Brent gathered together and gave him a powerful blessing.  The room was so filled with love and had such a strong spirit.  I am grateful to my husband for offering a beautiful blessing with words I believe were were guided by Heavenly Father.  Brent asked Heavenly Father to watch over his body until he was able to be reunited with it again.  Oh man...that was a tear jerker. I am blessed to be married to this great man who honors his priesthood.

The funeral director came in after a few hours to come take Dean.  It was hard to leave him.  Just with those few hours of holding him, we grew to love every single part of him and his tiny features.  His little smooshed nose and upturned eyes that are so distinct in babies with Down Syndrome...we just kept imagining what he would have been like if he were a healthy full term baby.  We could see a little bit of Lilly in him, and that comforted us.

The funeral director was great. He gently wrapped Dean up in a blanket handmade by Nana Katie with his name embroidered on the edge, and he tucked him carefully into a white cradle basket and drove him safely to the funeral home.  Everybody has been so thoughtful and careful with our precious little angel.  I am truly grateful.

Dean is tucked in there safely.  We wanted to keep him warm.
Dean's big brother Tanner made the sweet card all by himself, and also insisted that Nana Katie make a pillow for Dean.  Katie also knitted the tiniest little hat for him.  So many beautiful things to put in the casket with Dean, so he can feel comfortable until we are reunited.
We have decided to have a small grave side service tomorrow (Saturday, May 2, 2015) at the Lower Valley Memorial Gardens in Sunnyside. 7800 Vanbelle Road.  He will be buried between his great grandparents so he won't be alone.

My little sweat angel baby!!!  I will miss him!  I can't wait to snuggle him one day, and kiss him, and meet the chosen spirit that he obviously was to have occupied that little body so briefly.  The feeling of loss is tremendous.  I feel like a part of my heart is gone.  But I know we are being watched over by him...and for that I am so grateful.

I will never take my family for granted ever.  I will always cherish the moments we have with each other here on earth.  Hug your families tight today and always!  Life is so precious.

Hugs!  Erin

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Decker's birth story

Birth story

I had been doing all my birthing exercises from spinning babies to bouncing on the birthing ball in order get ready for Decker's big arrival. I was going to make this last delivery count, since we had talked a lot about being done having kids. I had my essential oils ready, I'd read "childbirth without fear" and marked it up with highlights and notes. I was even drinking my red raspberry leaf tea. Doing everything right, so I thought. My whole pregnancy was wonderful. Perfectly healthy and uncomplicated. I had never even needed to take anything as little as Tylenol during the pregnancy. I was healthy as a horse.

Monday afternoon, my doctor checked me and said I was so close. The baby was engaging and I was starting to open up. I was so excited. The next morning, Tuesday, five days before my due date, I felt what I thought were lower back contractions or period like pains. I welcomed these. I was feeling a little nauseous so I decided to take a bath. I had some intense contractions in the bath. When I got out I felt dizzy and immediate fever chills set in. Thinking this was part of early labor, I decided to rest in bed on my side for awhile. Around 11 am I checked my temp, it was 99 degrees. My hips, back, joints and head were aching. I was miserable. My temp rose to 100 by 2 pm, so I decided to call my doc. By the time they got back with me at almost 4 pm, the on-call doc told me to immediately go to the hospital. 

My friend Michelle who watches my kids drove me to the hospital with the kids tagging along. My mom was flying into town that night, and nobody was home to watch them. On the way, I mentioned to her that as bad as I felt--and if this baby had to arrive today--I didn't care if they had to "cut the baby out of me". That's how miserable I was. Tanner overheard this and responded "what?!?!?! They're going to cut Decker out???" We assured him that we were just joking...but little did we know.

I was admitted. Baby's heart tone's were in 160s to 70s and not budging. Compared to just the day before, his heart rate was beautiful at 130s and very reactive to contractions. They put me on Tylenol and my fever went down slightly, and so did baby's heart rate (150s).

Next morning, the doc was almost satisfied I was doing better but still wanted to watch me until that evening just in case. The word chorioamnionitis was being thrown around. It's a bacterial infection in the amniotic fluid. One doctor was convinced that's what I had, but my doctor was not so sure. After my next dose of Tylenol, I started shaking violently from the fever. I thought I was dying. The on-call dr came in and suggested we start pitocin to induce labor because baby's heart tones were up to 190s - 200s at this point. I was literally freaking out! I called my husband and mom to get to the hospital as quick as they could. 

The rest is a blur. At some point the shakes stopped for awhile. I was put on pitocin to speed up contractions. I hate pitocin contractions. My husband and mom were there putting ice packs and rags all over my burning body. My doctor arrived and broke my water to speed things up further. Baby's heart rate was off the charts. I was trying to labor and relax in all kinds of positions. The shakes came back. The fever sky rocketed even after medication. Baby's heart rate decelerated after contractions, which, in the world of labor & delivery, is not good at all. In fact, it's frightening.

I wasn't progressing. Only 50% effaced and dilated at a 3. Dr said baby couldn't tolerate this after 8 plus hours of labor. And neither could I. So she recommended a c-section. My world collapsed about then. But I knew it had to be done. As crunchy as I am...I know when I am in need of modern medicine. It was hard to sign those papers and be wheeled into a stark white operating room. I was beyond frightened. Frightened for my baby and for myself. I was having a panic attack when they strapped me down. So, my husband consented to letting them put me out with a little medicine.  The only thing I remember under the influence of the medicine was hearing voices, seeing colors, and thinking, "this must be what it is like before you die. I must be dying...and I think I'm ok with that". Some time in that dreamlike state, I heard a baby cry and people cheering.

I didn't see the birth of my son. I heard he came out wailing beautifully and had Apgar scores of all 9s. My husband made sure that they put him skin to skin with me before whisking him away for blood tests and a spinal tap. I guess when they laid him down next to me he stopped crying and a few tears streamed down my own face. I don't remember any if this.

My son was born at 2:56 pm on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. He weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces. I wish I could have seen it.  Before they took Decker to the nursery, Brent stopped and asked the doctor if I was going to be ok. She said that in all her experience with c-sections, no husband had ever stopped and asked if their wife was going to be okay. They usually were too busy trailing behind the baby and the crew of doctors to the nursery.

It took two hours in recovery. I was anxious to see my little one. I had heard he was so cute! I was afraid I wouldn't be able to bond with him because that first moment of contact right when the baby is born was gone. When I finally saw him, it was love at first sight. He was so beautiful. He had done so well when they took his blood and did the spinal tap. I was able to start nursing him right away and he latched so easily. What a champ!

The rest of our 4 day stay was rough.  My fever spiked over and over. I got a spinal headache from the anesthesia--which is like a migraine times 1000. Both Decker and I were on heavy duty IV antibiotics. It was nuts. Every 15 minutes some machine was beeping or a nurse was checking vitals. We didn't get sleep for two days. 

Finally Friday rolled around and things calmed down. All our blood tests and cultures came back negative for bacteria growth. And my fever instantly stopped. It's a mystery as to what exactly just happened that week. Why I was so sick. My doctor was and still is baffled. I guess we will never know.

We were released on Saturday. It was so good to sleep in my bed and snuggle with my baby and nurse all day long. The scenes of the week haunted me all weekend long. But I've resolved to feeling that this whole experience was very much divinely guided. There were so many miracles along the way and so many people helping to bring this perfect little child into the world. My mom arrived from Utah at just the right time. My husband was there to give both me and my child (placing his hands on my belly) a priesthood blessing. The words he said were very much what I needed to hear. To have trust that Decker was ok. That God had a plan for his arrival and that my body and mind would know what to do when bringing him into the world. I guess in that car ride over to the hospital, I knew I was going to have a c-section--even though I was joking about them "cutting him out of me". But I knew...

It is what it is. I had a cesarean section in one of the lowest c-section rated hospitals in this country. For that I am glad. I can't even believe it happened though. But the care I received there was top notch. They were so great and so wonderful. And so open to me using my "natural" stuff like essential oils for recovery, and they loved that we had our little co-sleeper bed for Decker so he could sleep with me. Skin to skin was pretty much constantly done and encouraged from day one. It was great. I am grateful.

Thanks for reading. This was hard for me. I am so pro doing things naturally. But I saw a beautiful balance between natural and medical that week, and for that I am also grateful. I now have a new respect for moms who have needed or chosen to have "medical" procedures during childbirth. Every story is different. Every story unique. And no story any less important in that mommy and baby's life. Childbirth, no matter what way it happens, should be celebrated and regarded as sacred. I am truly grateful for caring doctors and nurses, and midwives who have the skills and expertise to help safely bring children into this world.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Frozen Party...or as the kids called it; the "Let it Go" Party

The Cake Table.  Yep...we go all out.
Looks like I'm not doing the greatest job at updating our family blog.  But that's okay.  In my defense, I've been founding a Charter School here in Sunnyside since July 2013.  It's a full time job in and of itself...I'll expand more on that someday when we get approved.  Or you can just go to our website and check it out if you're at all remotely interested: .

And also...I'm pregnant.  Yup.  Due in about 2 months.  Again, more on that another day...But for now, we are going to celebrate all things Lilly and Daisy with a combined birthday party "FROZEN" style.

The Frozen invite.  One of my favorite invitations I've designed so far. LOVE!!!!
We decided to combine the girls' birthdays this year because---well, Imma gonna be poppin' out a kid here soon.  And come Daisy's actual birthday in June, I won't be feelin' up to climbing ladders and decorating all fancy.  So I thought I'd just get it ALL out of the way.  Plus, Frozen themes are sweeping the nation these days.  I figured I had better get on board with this Elsa/Anna stuff before it got TOO old--am I right?????  So here goes:

So the invitation: Designed by moi!  I based it off of a few invitations from Etsy.  But, since I am kind of a graphic designer by trade, I decided to save a buck or two and do it myself.

Then we decided on the decor and food.  Whew!  I am glad I had my trusty friend Michelle around to help...cuz, she did most of the decorating and follow through.  Hey, at this point I am just a big waddling mess, who's pretty much useless.  So I owe it all to Michelle.  Here are some pics of the whole process:

This is before we decorated.  I went on a shopping spree to all the craft stores in the area.  Think I got enough?
What a mess!
I had my mom cut some vinyl wall art for me (  I just sent her the images I wanted and she cut them on her fancy machine and sent them back.  It took like three days to stick it all to my walls though.  I think we are going to leave it up till Christmas to get good use out of it, you know what I mean?!?! I'm just not really caring if my dining room looks like Elsa's wonderland at this point in time. Just gonna focus on growing a kid in my belly from here on out--oh yeah, and opening a charter school.

A little peak at the vinyl wonderland that is emerging.
Hello, Olaf!!!  Also, that tree has little crystal diamonds on it.  Just one of the many small touches to the party.
Oh, well now that's cute...

Another wall with more vinyl.  I love the quote.  So fitting for Lilly and Daisy
Party Favors:  I didn't want to burden ourselves with too many activities or things to do.  Just wanted to have some food, watch the movie, open presents, have cake, then go home with a cool party favor.  I looked on Pinterest and got the idea of the Frozen little golden books.  So that's what we gave out.  Super simple (not that cheap), but super cute:

The favors: Little golden books "Frozen" and some stickers wrapped in dollar store plastic tissue paper, and tied up with pipe cleaners and a Frozen ring.

Let's pause for a sec and and talk about a few things:

Like this cutie bug for one.  She just turned 4.  And this is Queen Lilly for a day at her preschool.  (Picture is blurry cuz she is too quick for my iphone to capture her).  But, she gets to be treated like a queen for a day at her preschool, when it's her birthday.  So fun.  And here's a video of her class singing happy birthday to her.  And, Holy Moly she is cute lip syncing along.

Then the very next day, we got to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day!  How cool is that?!?!  Not very many people realize that Lilly--who was born with Down Syndrome--was born one day before World Down Syndrome day. March 21st = 3/21.  Get it?????? People with Down Syndrome have 3 copies of the chromosome 21.  Pretty creative, I think. celebrate, you wear socks.  Just rockin' some socks in any way you want.  Don't know why, but that's what the world does to celebrate.  We like to layer colorful socks.  So that's what we did. And for 3/21, I made Lilly a special snack for school with 21 pretzel sticks and 3 blueberries in her yogurt. (gluten-free and dairy-free, mind you) along with a mini gluten-free chocolate cake...just for fun. I like to celebrate with food whenever I can.

World Down Syndrome day was Friday.  And the day after that was the girls' combined party.  And this is how it looked:

Rear View
Side View

And a view with the birthday girls.  Daisy is posing for the camera.
By the way...those super cute outfits they are wearing can be found on Etsy.  Love them! Love them! Love them!  And, Jen, the lady who makes these is super awesome to work with.  Go on her site and buy some.  She has a whole bunch of different princess outfits--all handmade!  Here's the link: Ross and Rosie Designs .  Go there now!!!!!!!  You will die from all the darling-ness.

And we're hugging again.
The entryway.  We put the trees there so those nosy kids couldn't go upstairs and get lost.  But yeah, kids are smarter than you think.  That's where all of them wanted to be, and they found a way to get through those branches.
Another view of the entryway. Both girls had their pictures and little paper lanterns that represented their character from the movie.
The fireplace next to the TV.  Yes we find all kinds of places to add decorations.  
An arial view of the food table.

We had "Frozen" hot chocolate.  No one liked it...maybe cuz it was dairy free.  Not a lot of people like  dairy free foods...and kids are the first to detect these things.  You can't fool them. And frankly, I don't blame them either.  Also...that is not me in the background.  That is another pregnant lady, who happens to be pregnant with twins.  And guess what?  I am most definitely BIGGER than her already.  Not to mention a week behind her and only carrying one baby.  Whatevs...  This is why you aren't seeing pictures of me.  I am beyond huge.  Like a giant stuffed pimento olive on-a-toothpick kind of huge.  It doesn't look right.

And marshmallow men straws to dip in the hot chocolate???  We just thought it was cute, had to use it somehow.
More marshmallow goodies.  I came up with this idea.  I Just spray painted them in food coloring and then dipped them in sprinkles.  Yums!
And the blue jello is Kristoff's Ice.  Sort of pathetic ice, really.  It didn't turn out quite as I expected.  Ah well. But hey, Kristoff is the official ice deliverer; Queen's you can't complain about the ice now!
Sandwiches.  Cuz "we finish each other's...sandwiches"  And sandwiches are obviously Hans's favorite food, am I right?
The party:  The kiddos million little tiny people running around all over the friggin' place. It was like trying not to step on ants.  Sheesh.  But here's some pictures of the festivities below:

As the kiddos arrived, we turned on the movie and then over in the play area adjacent to the family room with the television...the kids could sit and make an Elsa or Anna crown, or Sven antlers.  Again, thanks to amazing helpers we were able to have these pre-cut so the kiddos could just attach jewels or stickers to their heart's content.  Here's a link to the pin from Pinterest that I found the free template from.  Just click on the picture:

Ha Ha, she's cute.  That's my Daisy.
Cute little Karson.  She's Lilly's best friend at preschool.  She is like her body guard.  Won't let anyone hurt or tease Lilly.  She is a little angel...and a cute one at that.

Tanner is over there being fitted for his antlers.  Lookin' good, son.
Num num num...That's all that pops into my mind when I see this picture.  That Daisy girl is such a hot mess.  Love her though...And it is her party, so she can be as hot of a mess as she wants to.
Cutting the Cake:  After crafts, food and a little movie watching, we made our way into the party room for some cake.  Joreen, from Bon Vino's, always does a superb job at seeing my vision, and then designs such beautiful works of art for my babies.  This year she went above and beyond the call of duty.  She made three cakes: two barbie doll cakes for each of the girls based after their character, and then a regular 3 tiered cake with cute little Olaf on top.  She is a pro!  Order cakes from her, stat!!!!  She is the shiz!  Here is the link to Bon Vino's .
Anna cake, 3 tiered cake (notice the D and the L in the design????), and Elsa cake
(sigh) Life is perfect.
After that, we opened some presents.  Which I do not want to relive...EVER!  I am so glad I don't have twins for this reason.  How do they keep track of who gets what, and who gave what to which kid???  (I don't even know if that sentence made any sense at all)  Anyway, as soon as presents were over, so was the movie and so was the party.  The kiddos left as quickly as they arrived and I was left with a house full of Frozen stuff everywhere you looked.  We are still stepping on ice crystals from tree branches and it's been over two weeks.  But was worth it.

Daddy promised to make a GoPro movie about the party.  He took video of the blowing of the candles and even strapped a camera onto Lilly's chest throughout the day.  So we will see what he comes up with.  But, I'm posting what I have so far until he's finished with the editing.  So check back soon if you want to see the live action portion of our fantastic Frozen party.

Thanks for stopping by!