3.24.2012

Sew Loved

It is tradition for my mom to welcome each of her grandchildren with a beautiful quilt, handmade with many hours of love.  I love Zoe's quilt so much, that I want one for myself!  I love the colors and the giraffe print couldn't be more perfect.  

{Front}


{Back}

I know it's not Mother's Day... but really, what is that all about?  Only one day of the year to publicly praise mother's for their sacrifice and in my mom's case "long-suffering".  Motherhood isn't easy, and I know it wasn't always rainbows and smiley faces while raising me and my sassy attitude.  So here's what I have to say about the woman who never stops being my mom and friend.  

My mom has always been there for me, through EVERYTHING and I always know that she loves me.  Zoe's condition is a trial for not only us but for our family members and friends.  I know how difficult it is to watch the ones you love struggle.  But for a mother?  It's painful.  My mom has done everything she possibly can to make our lives and this pregnancy the best it can possibly be.  

She is constantly offering her time and energy just to make me happy.  From a simple text to go out to lunch and just vent, hand delivering a case of Diet Coke... just because, retail therapy, watching Londyn when I have an appointment or just need a break, a meal delivered and pretty much anything else you can think to do for something... just to make their life a little easier.  Londyn and I aren't the only ones who benefit.  My mom even delivered some goodies for Andrew on Sunday to wish him luck before his finals.  The package included a case of energy drinks, mint oreos, a huge bag of Reese's candies and a sweet card of encouragement.  

Growing up, I always took my mom's generosity and unconditional love for granted.  Although she would deny it, she is one of the most Christ-like examples.  She teaches me to be a better wife, mother and daughter of God.  But one thing I love about her is that she isn't preachy.  She is real people and I love that about her.  She will kill me for blogging about this... but one of my favorite memories is skipping Relief Society when I was in high school to get a happy meal and Diet Coke @ McD's... discreetly eating our food in the parking lot, while talking and laughing about everything and anything.  

Some mother's would be intimidated or threatened by their adoptive daughter's search for her birth family.  But, not mine.  From the time I was young, my mom always encouraged me to search for my birth family and embrace my birth ancestry.  She has always hoped and prayed that I would find my birth mom, so she could thank her for completing our family.  

So there ya have it.  Thank you mom for putting up with me, laughing with me... putting up with my sarcasm (especially when you are the brunt of it), the hugs, the shoulder to cry on, your listening ear and most of all - example of faith in the Gospel.  

I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.

3.21.2012

Baby Zoe Update: Part II

Yesterday was completely and utterly exhausting.  I went to bed early and slept in until 9am... forcing myself to get out of bed and get ready for the day.  My mom and sis picked Lulu up and had a girls day.  They went to dance class, shopping and out for lunch.  I was jealous.  Doesn't that sound so much better than another trip to the hospital?  Londyn is one spoiled little girl and there is no question that she is loved.

My appointment was at 11am this morning and as I waited anxiously to be taken back to the ultrasound room, I silently prayed to handle the results.  My name was called and it seemed like everything was in slow motion as the ultrasound technician spread the gooey warm gel all over my belly.  I appreciated how she explained everything she was doing and looking for.  It's the worst when you're laying there in silence and you have no idea whether you're looking at a pocket of fluid or a hand.  She pointed out Zoe's hair, which I hadn't seen before.  When she would gently push on my belly, Zoe's hair would move in the water.  It was such a small and simple detail, but brought back that feeling of excitement for the new little being growing inside of me.

Now for the facts... my fluid level was at 6.5 yesterday and measured 8.9 today.  The preferred level is anywhere between 10 and 25.  Anything below 5 is more emergent.  So my current 8.9 is pretty dang good!  Her heart rate looked great as well, beating at a steady 144 bpm.  Following the ultrasound, I met with Dr. Flath to go over the results.  He said that I really scared him yesterday and he was pretty worried he was going to have to do a c-section today.  He is really pleased with where I'm at right now, but wants to closely monitor me through the home stretch.  I am scheduled to go in again on Tuesday for another ultrasound and exam.

I know I'm not in the clear, but I am relieved that little Miss Zoe has decided to cook a bit longer.  It was pretty nerve-wracking to sit in that hospital bed all day yesterday... with the slight possibility of having this baby NOW.  I realized just how unprepared I really am.  My bag isn't packed... Londyn's bag isn't packed... I still need to go shopping for all of the not-so-glam essentials for my super hot post-baby bod.  I have yet to finish organizing Zoe's room and purchasing the swing, boppy and mobile that I want to have in her hospital rooms during the extended stay.

I am not the only one with unfinished business.  Andrew has made up a long list of tasks he wants to accomplish over the next week, while he is on Spring Break before the baby comes.  He wants to re-tile the kitchen floor and finish a bunch of other fix-it projects around the house.

See what I mean?  We are SO not ready for Zoe to join the party... just yet!

Even with all of this garb in the back of my head, I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and a bit like super woman.  Still scared out of my mind, it hit me that yes, checking off all those items on our lists would be a perk but really and truly... it's all about getting her here.  All of those things can and will get done eventually, but if it is her time to have a birthday- I want to celebrate!

So there ya have it, folks. Whenever Heavenly Father decides to bless us with this beautiful baby girl of ours, I am about as ready as I ever will be.  Bring it.

3.20.2012

Baby Zoe Update: Part I

I went in at 8:30am for my 36 week OB appointment this morning and didn't return home until 4:30pm.  Zoe's heart rate was measuring between 160-190 bpm and Dr. Flath said he likes to see it at 150 bpm or lower.  He then sent me to the Maternal & Fetal Medicine group across the street to get an ultrasound.  A doctor there explained that her heart rate was still high and amniotic fluid looked low.  I was then admitted to Labor & Delivery for further observation.  They hooked me up to a heart rate monitor for a few hours and after lots of fluctuating, her heart rate appeared to be just fine.  The Perinatologist, Dr. Guinn checked me to make sure my membranes hadn't ruptured.  Everything looked okay, and both doctors agreed that I needed to go back in for another ultrasound tomorrow morning.  They want to check for any change in fluid level.  Dr. Flath said that if fluid has lessened significantly, he will need to get her out as soon as possible.  If everything is stable, he will just monitor me even more closely for these last few weeks before my c-section date.

Surprisingly, I was calm and at peace all day while waiting for updates.  It didn't really hit me until Dr. Flath told me I needed to go back in tomorrow... that there is a possibility she will be here sooner than planned.  I just assumed her heart rate would go down and I would be out of there in no time.  

My sister Jenelle came up to the hospital... sat with me... made me laugh and kept me company through the boredom that came with limited stations on the ancient hospital television and flavorless food - AKA hospital room service.  Luckily, my nurse Angela was fabulous and she even brought me a Diet Coke within the first 10 minutes of my short stay.  Ironically, Jenelle and I watched a few episodes of TLC's "The Baby Story" to kill time.  As much as I felt sorry for those poor women in pain, I realized it wouldn't be much longer til I was one of those lucky suckers in their same position.  

Dr. Guinn recommended I take it easy for the night and watch for signs of pre-term labor... such as, contractions, lower back pain... headache... etc.  I am amazed at how exhausted I am after a long day of just sitting.  I think a relaxing bath and early bedtime will be the plan after Lulu goes to bed for the night.  

House Call

3.19.2012

Deals & Steals

I have been trying to gather the last few items that we need for Zoe when she comes home.  We already purchased a Sit n' Stand stroller on sale (saved $43.00... no big deal.) a week ago but just needed an infant car seat.  Infant car seats are so dang expensive... especially when Lulu was in hers for less than 6 months.  I found one on Craigslist for $35.00 ($95.00 NEW)... no accidents and it doesn't expire until 2015.



I also scored a super cute car seat/canopy set through a daily deal site.  It came with a slipcover, head support pillow, lap blanket, replacement umbrella AND a canopy.  This entire set goes for $175.00 and I got it for $39.00 with FREE SHIPPING!!!  I just love the print and how it transformed a ho-hum car-seat to quite a fashion statement!

I can't have Zoe going anywhere other than in comfort and style!

Londyn Lately: 32 months

Due to dance recital coming up in June, Teacher Rachelle asked us if we could switch Lulu to another Little Movers class, held on Wednesdays because our class only had two girls and the Wednesday class has 6-8 girls.  We have been going to the Wednesday class for the last couple weeks and it is SO much more fun for Londyn to have a big class.  All of the girls are 2-3 years old, but Londyn looks so tall compared to everyone else!  I just love watching her learn and have fun.  She is such a good little dancer!



My cute friend Erin is studying for her math final exam this week, so we snagged her little guy Jake for a couple hours today.  Jake and Londyn are only a few weeks apart and have been buds since they were born.  When Erin and I first had these two monkeys, we were neighbors and have been the best of friends ever since!  Erin is like a sister and is always the first to bring me a diet coke or chinese take-out on a rough day.  I truly adore her.

Playdate @ 6 months old


Time sure flies!

It's amazing what a bag of popcorn can do for two toddlers at Target.  Love these two.


Lulu's Room: Check!

After lots of help and work, Lulu's room is finally finished!  She has been enjoying it for a couple weeks ago now but I just haven't taken any pictures until now.  I figure it will probably never look as good as it does now... so I better document it's loveliness before crayon murals, wall dings and broken furniture start to appear.

The space went from this...


To... THIS!







I love the turnout and Miss Londyn loves it even more!  She adores her "big girl bed" and always tells me how "comfy" it is.  Putting the extra effort into her new room makes it that much easier to understand that Zoe will be in her "baby" room.  

3.12.2012

35 Weeks & Counting

In mid-February, I entered a contest for a free photoshoot!  When submitting my entry, I just needed to explain what I wanted to be photographed and why.  Here is what I wrote:

Dear Vince, 
My name is Kacie Armitage and I would be honored to have you capture my growing family with your creative eye and talent.  My husband and I have a 2 year old daughter named Londyn and are expecting another sweet little girl on April 11th.  I never had maternity photos taken when I was pregnant with my first because I didn't feel fabulous enough to have my body photographed professionally.  This pregnancy is different because although I still don't feel like a drop dead diva in my own skin, I want to capture every moment of this baby's journey that i possibly can.  

On November 27th, I received a daunting phone call from my Obstetrician with news that no expecting mother ever imagines.  It was found on my 20 week ultrasound that something could possibly be wrong with our baby's heart.  It was December 1st that my doctor's concerns were confirmed by a Pediatric Cardiologist, that our baby has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  This rare congenital heart defect has resulted in intense prenatal supervision and a plan of at least three surgeries on our daughter's heart before she turns 3 years old.  

This journey has only emphasized my feelings on the importance of family and that's what I would like to capture if I were to win this contest.  

I have always been fascinated with pregnancy photos but never thought they were for me.  If I won this contest, I would love to have a family photoshoot with the focus being my enormous belly and the love that we all have for Zoe's arrival.  

Thank you for hosting this contest and i can't wait for the winners to be revealed!

When I found out that I was one of the winners, I was ecstatic!  But as the session date drew closer... my nerves grew.  Being 8 months pregnant makes me want to run in the opposite direction of any camera... but more importantly, I always want Zoe to know that I loved her from the beginning.  Regardless of the fear and and heartache, hearing her heartbeat, seeing those chubby cheeks on the ultrasound monitor and feeling her little body move in my belly- makes it all worth it.  

Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better photoshoot.  It was such a therapeautic experience.  It wasn't stressful or forced.  I wanted to capture our family and the love we have for each other and this new life that will be joining us soon.  It was just a fun trip to the park... lots of laughs, smiles and special moments.

I haven't seen the photos yet, but here is a little teaser that the photographer gave me.  


I have 30 more days left until this show gets on the road!  At my appointment with Dr. Flath today, belly measured right on track at 35.5 centimeters.  I always look forward to hearing Zoe's heartbeat. It beats so strong that it is hard to believe it is anything be perfect. 

Current cravings include fruit, fruity sweets and soda... not the best, but I just can't get enough!  I feel like my body is about as big as it was with Londyn, but my belly doesn't quite feel as ginormondo (A word?).  It does feel super tight and crowded though.  It is hard to breathe deeply and comfortably now.  This is most evident when I do the most simple things... like walking to the mailbox or up the stairs. Lulu has made the third trimester so much easier for me with her high energy and little legs.  When I forget something upstairs or drop something on the ground, she is my go-to gal!  For the most part, she is always willing to be a big helper!  The only downside is that she often reminds me that I have a "big belly" and that I wear "big pants"... she makes me smile and laugh every single day.  It doesn't get much better than that.

 My discomfort level is ever-increasing.  It doesn't help that I've had a sinus cold these last few days.  It really stinks when you can't take anything to ease the symptoms!  Sleep has been a real struggle.  I find myself exhausted ALL day long and then when it comes to hittin' the hay for the night, my body can't seem to get the job done.  My mom got me a pregnancy body pillow when I was pregnant with Londyn but it didn't make much of a difference then.  I was so desperate last night to get some real sleep, that I thought I would try it out for the first time during this pregnancy.  I slept so much better... aside from being woken up by my toddler @ 4am.  Hopefully the pillow will continue you help!

With all the stress of finals in a week, Andrew has still managed to accomplish tons around the house to prepare for Zoe's arrival.  Even though we won't be bringing her home for several weeks after she is born, we still want to have everything ready.  

We went to Babies r' Us on Saturday and purchased a Baby Trend Sit n' Stand stroller for the girls.  I love it because it has a harnessed seat in the front with an infant car seat attachment, and a bench in the back for a toddler/youngin' to sit or stand.  Genius!  We were going to spend $140.00 on the one they had on the shelf, but Andrew found an older model hiding for $97.  Score!  Now all we need is an infant car seat and baby swing.  We were so generously blessed during the holiday season with several Target gift cards from "secret elves" on our doorstep, which will come in handy for those extra purchases.  


Over the weekend, Andrew climbed up into the dreaded attic and brought down all of the baby clothes, items and bassinet.  It sounds much easier than it actually was, considering I am of no help with the heavy lifting.  I started sorting through the baby clothes, dividing them into sizes and of course, my emotions got the best of me as I remembered my sweet little Londyn wearing those exact outfits.  I could see so vividly her chunky little cheeks smiling at at me and all of the memories of when she was a baby.  It was only a matter of time before I broke down... sitting in a puddle of tears.  I started to think about Zoe and wondering if she will actually come home to us... asking myself, "what if she never wears these clothes?"  Minutes later, Andrew noticed me bawling in the palms of my hands.  He just held me.  I told him about my thoughts and he said with so much assurity that she would come home and be ours.  Even though we can't be certain of what is to come or what the Lord has in store for Zoe, it is beyond comforting to share my darkest thoughts with my spouse.  I want to be strong, positive and so hopeful.  But there are those weak moments when your mind wanders and you just don't know anymore.  That is when you crawl into bed with a full roll of toilet paper and pray.  You pray in between the ugly tears... and you pray hard.

Showered with Love

At the last AKAP event, my friend Brenda offered to throw me a baby shower at her home.  I didn't really think I would have a baby shower since I am having another girl, but I love any excuse to spend time with friends and eat yummy food! 

The shower was last Wednesday, March 7th.  Brenda opened her cute home in Portland to my friends and family.  She had LOTS of yummy food, a couple fun games that involved rubbing our noses in diapers and sifting through Korean rice for paper clips.  

Brenda & her new baby Roby


The lovely Candace

Erin, my sista from another mista!

My peeps: Sarah, Jenelle, Bec & Erin

I have such generous people in my life!  
We got some cute outfits, lots of beautiful books, toys and a blanket & swaddler.  

Mama Mia & I
Following tradition, she gave me the most adorable take home ensemble for baby Zoe.

This is Sarah, a Korean adoptee I met about a year ago.  I'm convinced we are birth sisters.  Sarah is about to start her own journey as she is moving to Korea for a while.  I can't wait to hear all about it!
 Sarah & Kaylee, Korean adoptees that were so sweet to come to my shower!  Such sweethearts!

Thank you again Brenda, for making me feel so loved and special!

3.04.2012

Handy Andy

Have you ever hired a general contractor, concerned more about the price and time frame estimated to finish the job?  Well that was us.  Naive first time homeowners, more concerned about dollar signs and moving in ASAP.
About three years ago, we bought this fixer-upper townhouse.  The bones were sound, but the aesthetics were shab & drab.  With a deep DEEP deep clean, new coat of paint, carpet, tile, updated fixtures and new decor - it soon became our cozy home.
Within the first few months of moving in, we found several issues that had been due to contractor in a hurry, but nonetheless- we really did get a good deal.  
Unfortunately, the tiles in the entryway and kitchen started to crack, split and detach within the first 6 months.  Not only has this issue been plain old obnoxious, but dangerous as well.  I have cut my foot a couple times.  Not cool.

pre-demo

So of course, Handy Andy came to the rescue!  Having never installed tile before, my husband teaches himself to do pretty much everything.  He decided to do a trial run on the entryway, and if all went well... move on to the kitchen!  We chose vinyl tiles instead of the previous ceramic tiles, so as to have a little more give to the material.  The vinyl tiles are peel and stick, but are groutable as well.
Andrew spent an entire Friday prepping the floor with demo, replacing plywood, applying leveling compound and primer.  The prepping process also involved wait times in between for solutions to set. 



Early Saturday, the tile laying began.  Our entryway is everything but spacious... which led to a well thought out plan to make sure the tiles not only fit but looked nice as well.  He deliberately placed larger tiles along the edge for heavy traffic, as those were the first to break in the past.  

I love how he chose to go with a staggered pattern, as I think it makes the entry look a little bigger and MUCH better!
Once the tiles were cut to perfection and layed, the grout was applied.  I love the dark grout that he chose because it really picks up the darker shades in the tiles and makes them pop!


To finish off the project, Andrew added a grey carpet strip to make for a smoother transition from carpet to tile.  I love the finished product!  

Next on the docket is tackling the kitchen tile... which is in much worse shape than the entryway.  Half of the tiles are cracked and falling apart.  

Yay for Handy Andy!

Zoe Update

Thursday was quite the day of appointments.  I started out with a fetal echo with Dr. King, Pediatric Cardiologist.  I was most nervous about the fetal echo because of the change in diagnosis that he found at my last appointment. Good news!  Baby is stable and no changes have occurred.  Since I am 34 weeks now, it was difficult to see clearly as opposed to prior months when she was smaller, but with the help of the fabulous ultrasound tech, they were able to see everything that they needed.  To my surprise, Dr. King does not need to see me for the rest of my pregnancy and will be on standby during my c-section, the morning of April 11th.  Zoe is currently 5 lbs and 6 oz.... still has a big noggin' and is very active!  I was able to get some more 3-D images but she is so squished in this belly of mine, that they are more disturbing than adorable.

My next visit was a consultation with Dr. Paige Larrabbee, Neonatologist in the NICU where Zoe will be monitored prior to her first surgery.  Meeting with Dr. Larrabbee was very emotional, and I wasn't expecting to feel the way I did.  She was very blunt and factual about what to expect, which was hard to hear... but necessary, as she answered some of the questions I was afraid to ask.  One of the first facts that she pointed out was that 65% of babies with Hypoplastic Left Heart survive to 5 years old, even with surgery.  That is 35% that don't survive past 5 years old, even with surgery?  Wow... that was when the tears started flowing.

As opposed to what the Cardiologist had told me in the past, Dr. Larrabbee said I would not be able to hold Zoe after birth and that if anyone, it would be Andrew for a very short amount of time.  After baby is out, she will be taken to a small room off of the operating room, where they will then determine how severe her condition is.  They will then start IV lines and possibly oxygen if needed.  The Prostoglandin will be given, which is the temporary medication needed to keep her heart functioning until surgery is performed.  Dr. King had mentioned that if her condition is more severe, they will do the surgery on Friday, April 13th and if she is stable and doing just fine, they will wait until Monday, April 16th.  As opposed to Dr. King's estimate of a post-op hospital stay of 2-3 weeks, Dr. Larrabbee said 4-6 weeks.  I'm sure they are just preparing us for the worst case scenario, and at this point I need to stop thinking about quoted specifics as things could change for the better or worse, very quickly.  Dr. Larrabbee also took me on a short tour of the new Randall Children's Hospital.  I was able to see the operating room where my c-section will be performed and the room Zoe will be taken to immediately after birth.  I walked the halls of the NICU, where each baby is nestled in their own individual room.  This was probably this most difficult part of the day, as most every baby in the NICU was laying peacefully in their warmer but without any family.  It is unrealistic to think that families can be with their new baby 24/7 but it aches my heart to think of Zoe in discomfort and fighting all alone in a hospital room.  I plan to be with her as often as possible and am relieved that the private room is so spacious, with a bed, recliner and access to lots of amenities for families... such as, a gym, play rooms for siblings, a kitchen and much more.  I feel comfortable bringing Lulu with me most of the time as I think it will be healthy for all of us to keep her involved as much as possible, rather than shuffled from home to home without her parents.

Now, Zoe will only be in the NICU for 2-4 days prior to surgery and then she will be transferred to a private room in the PICU.  The NICU rooms are spacious but the PICU rooms are twice as big!  They include beds, food for nursing moms and the same amenities for the family.

As for visitors, Londyn is the only child that can visit Zoe because she is a sibling under 16 years old.  We can also provide a small list of family members that can visit her but only when we, the parents are present.

Dr. Larrabbee also assured me that Dr. Iguidbashian, Cardiothoracic Pediatric Surgeon is the best of the best.  She said that Dr. Iguidbashian is often commuting from Europe where he does surgery and if for some reason he is not Zoe's heart surgeon, it would be Dr. Hovaguimian, who is also a Cardiothoracic Pediatric Surgeon and is very good.

After this emotional consultation and tour, I finally met with my last doctor of the day, Dr. Merrill.  He is such a gem and really made me feel better about everything.  Dr. Merrill is my Perinatologist and co-cares for my case with my Obstetrician, Dr. Flath.  Dr. Merrill is always so real, and basically just sympathizes for me and my situation.  He offers an open ear and a warm disposition.  Like the Cardiologist, Dr. Merrill does not need to see me again until delivery.

As much as I have wanted to get this show on the road, I am now getting nervous that time is really of the essence.  I have 5 weeks to live a life and be in a place that will never be the same again.  In 5 weeks, I will be a mother of two and Londyn will be a big sister.  In 5 weeks, I will lay on a table and have major surgery for the first time.  In 5 weeks, my daughter will have a congenital heart defect and undergo the first of many open heart surgeries.  In 5 weeks, my entire life will change forever.

I have a choice to make right now.  Do I freak out and panic because my life is about to be tossed upside down and I have never been a friend of change and the unknown... or do I remain calm?  Do I change diapers, fold laundry and try a new crockpot recipe... all while knowing that the countdown has begun?  Do I crawl into my bed, shutdown and neglect my daughter and husband?  Do I let fear win?  Absolutely not.  My faith and family cannot afford for fear to win.  Zoe cannot afford to let fear win.  All I have is hope and my family.  Regardless of what happens, I believe in miracles and I believe in the grace of God.  His tender mercies are upon us each and every day.  Prayer has never been such a reliable source of comfort in my life as it is right now.  So that is what I do.  I hope and I pray, love my husband and cherish my daughter.  Because that is all I can do.