Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Birth Story

I have been struggling with how to present this story. The events leading up to Gideon's birth were so well orchestrated by Heavenly Father that they can only be described as a miracle.  But where and when does a miracle begin? I'll do my best to piece it together for you.

Cholestasis. Raise your hand if you know what that word means. Odds are that you have no idea. The first time I heard that word was almost two years ago, when my sister-in-law Shannon was expecting her beautiful baby girl, Peyton.  Shannon was experiencing some extreme itchiness with her pregnancy and decided to talk to her doctor about it---thank goodness she did. She was diagnosed with cholestasis, a very rare condition of the liver which affects the production and processing of bile during pregnancy. It presents no real threat  to the mother (just makes her unbearably itchy), but results in an extremely toxic environment for the baby which can lead to a stillbirth. There is no cure for cholestasis. There is no medication to ensure the health of the baby. The only course of action is to induce labor as early as possible to remove the baby from that environment. Thankfully Shannon's doctors were informed and aware and induced Shannon weeks early.

What does this have to do with my story? Let me tell you.

At the end of August my hands and feet started itching terribly. I would lay awake at night scratching at the palms of my hands and rubbing my feet on the carpet. I tried lotions and hot water rinses and cold water rinses; I tried vinegar rinses and baking soda rinses and in one desperate attempt I even put Listerene on my hands and feet (the internet told me that it might work, and the internet is always right, right?). In the end I chalked it up to bloating. I told myself that I was being a wuss and that every pregnant woman experiences some bloating and itchy discomfort.

Fast forward to September 9th. I was feeling kind of off and decided to stay home from church. Seemingly out of the blue my big brother Adam calls me. We had a great chat and I explained some of the early labor stuff I had been dealing with and he said something to the extent of "we never had to deal with contractions and natural labor, we just had to induce and hope that our baby would be ok. I guess everyone has their own thing with pregnancy".  I didn't think much of our conversation at the time.

Monday came and went and although Gideon was moving, he didn't seem as active as usual. Tuesday came and went and it seemed like there was even less movement. By Wednesday I was really concerned and it was then that my conversation with Adam hit me---Shannon was itchy. She had to induce early. Peyton could have died. Shannon had Cholestasis! But it seemed too absurd to me that Shannon and I could share such a rare condition so I googled it. All of my symptoms matched that of Cholestasis...but then again, anytime I search my symptoms it usually ends up being cancer or something equally as life threatening. By 2pm I had googled myself into a frenzy and I had only felt Gideon kick twice. I texted Shannon about her symptoms and the diagnostic process and she texted me back and gave me the courage to call my midwife.

After explaining things to the nurse over the phone I was asked to come in immediately. I called Rob and gave him some vaguely positive excuse as to why I was going to the doctor and then I headed out.

3:00pm  Dr. Townsend decided to administer a stress test
3:30pm Gideon failed first 20 minute stress movement
4:00pm Gideon started moving but the last 50 minutes of stress tests revealed that his heart rate plummeted several times and that there was definitely something wrong. Patti Townsend (midwife) decided that it was time to induce.
5:00pm Already dilated to 5cm naturally, I begged my midwife to allow me to go through labor without pitocin. She agreed but proceeded to break my water to speed things up for Gideon

At some point when I was at 7cm I asked for some IV drugs (I had decided against an epidural). They gave me one shot of stadol, insisting that it would take the edge off the pain and cause some mild drowsiness.

Guys, I did not experience mild drowsiness. I was high as a kite. But not the pleasant floaty kind of  high---teddy bears on parade, trapped in my own body kind of high. Also, never really having been high, I'm only really assuming that there is a pleasant floaty sort.

I did not ask for more drugs.

By 3am I was at 9cm and remained there for the next 3 hours. I wanted to push so incredibly badly, but my young, inexperienced nurse wouldn't let me. Showering was my only relief during this whole process but because they needed to monitor Gideon closely they didn't want me taking any more showers either (I had had 3 or 4 fifteen minute showers by this point).

6am They decide things are not going well enough and that Gideon needs to come out. My silly inexperienced nurse didn't feel comfortable setting up the internal monitor so she brought in a very wise older nurse. She had white hair that looked like a halo under the lights of the delivery room. She decided that she wanted to check my progress before placing the monitor and even though I was only at 9cm she let me push. What a relief! She worked with me for a couple of minutes and helped me push through that last centimeter and suddenly Gideon was crowning!

My angel nurse left after she helped me through that part, but I never caught her name. At some point my midwife came, and then another midwife came as well. I'm not really sure how or why it happened but I ended up with 2 midwives, 3 nurses and Rob at my bedside while I pushed.

7:18am Pushing was one of the most difficult things I've ever done but it was absolutely the most rewarding. When they plopped Gideon on my tummy I was so exhausted and happy I could hardly move. All I could do was look at this precious baby and smile. They let Gideon lay on my stomach while Rob cut the cord and then Rob pulled out his violin and played Gideon's Lullaby. Right there in the delivery room. While the song played, Gideon opened his eyes for the first time and craned his head up to look at his daddy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Gideon James Wood
September 13, 2012

This little man is such an amazing blessing in our lives. As you can see, he absolutely loves his daddy and his daddy just can't get enough of him. 

I love my boys!!

Catch up...ketchup?

Oh goodness. I have SOOOO much to play catch up on. Please forgive me and enjoy the next few posts that I will frantically be writing while Gideon sleeps.

As many of you know, Rob teaches violin most evenings. Even though this leaves me kind of lonely and bored at night, it has given us the great opportunity of meeting and interacting with some pretty awesome people. For example, The Klusewitz Family, a God fearing, art loving family who seems to do it all. Mr. and Mrs. Klusewitz homeschool their lovely children which provides them with the opportunity of choosing their curriculum and their extra curricular activities---hence the violin lessons. To my knowledge they also do skiing, ice skating, photography and pretty much whatever they want to learn. Anna Claire is 14 years old (maybe 15?) and is a very talented young photographer. She did my maternity shoot for me and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

Here are the results

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Life according to the iPod

...and some pics I stole from Rob's sister! 

Last weekend my wonderful AK sisters (I hate adding the "in-law" part so hence forth they shall just be known as my AK sisters) threw me an amazing baby shower. I could not believe the time, effort, and detail that they put into everything!  Kristy and Ann have been so thoughtful and aware of my needs from the very first day I met them and this was an especially big example of how great they are. Kristy is due in December and has two rambunctious boys, and Ann came all the way from Fairbanks to make the baby shower work.  They planned the theme after my favorite book The Little Prince and everything was perfectly beautiful. 

I want to thank everyone who attended the shower and made me feel so loved, it was a great day and Rob and I feel so well prepared for baby Gideon's arrival.

This week we also felt an outpouring of love from Aunt Julie (Rob's Aunt). She has been such an awesome strength and support from afar. I write her almost every week to ask questions and get advice and she never fails to come through for me. If I could say one thing about her it's that she is a woman of action---she sees a need and she acts upon it. Almost everyday this week we got a different package from her with amazing things for Gideon. She outfitted our nursery and gave us a jogging stroller/car seat combo (and the list goes on). There will eventually be more pictures of the nursery stuff but here is one of Rob enjoying his newest toy

He could not wait to get this thing out of its packaging and assembled!

To cap off an extra good week Rob took me on a date last night. We finally bit the bullet and went to Olive Garden. The Olive Garden here hasn't been open long and it is the hot place to eat out. Every single time we drive by it the parking lot is full and there are hordes of people waiting outside to be seated. We've called in on a couple of different occasions to determine the wait time (they don't take reservations) and on each occasion it's been 2 hrs!! We got lucky last night when we only waited 45 minutes and it was well worth it.  After that we spent the rest of the evening with Kris and Anthony and their kids, what a perfect night! 

My husband is a stud

Ignore my finger. We decided to hang out behind the Olive Garden while we waited to be seated---this was our view.

And this was what greeted us when we left Kristy's house. BRRRRRR! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Love is...

Love is...

a feeling you get in your heart when you see and feel it

from Hannah Neilson

Love is...

The special glue that holds everything together when it feels like everything is falling apart.

Aunt Sharyn + Uncle Bob

Love is...

tandem biking
tandem surfing
tandem skating
tandem living

<3 Court & Dave Facer

When we made this video in May I didn't think that we would be sharing it, but in the spirit of "Love is...Day" and doing things tandem, here it is!

This is the first song I learned on the violin. Rob is such an amazingly patient teacher <3

Friday, August 31, 2012

Love is...Day

I know that I already posted today, but this deserves its own separate post. Cuz it's kind of a big deal.

I have decided to make every Friday from here on out a very special day. Fridays will now be known as "Love is... Day"

For those of you who attended our wedding you would know that we did not do a conventional guest book. Instead we had you fill out cards telling us what love is. This was honestly one of my favorite details about our wedding. We had so many awesome responses and it would be wrong of me to keep them to myself.

I ended up making this wall display for our home, and I change out the cards when I get the urge.

I have now made it my goal to change out the cards every Friday and to share at least 3 of the responses with you. Here goes!!

(No changes have been made to the grammar or spelling on the cards)

Love is...

wine you be nise to uthers

From Natalie the Bruschke

Love is...

The best thing that could happen to enyone on Earth.

Love, Hyrum Myers

Love is...

getting up in the middle of the night to check out the funny noise...

What is love to you? Feel free to leave a comment and we will make you an honorary guest card and add it to our wall display! 

My husband

Today I am feeling all lovey-dovey and sentimental. It may be because of pregnancy hormones or it might just be because of how I woke up this morning...

Because I woke up next to my prince charming. He rolled over and without even opening his eyes he managed to land a perfectly gentle kiss right on my forehead. He then wrapped his arms around my ginormous belly and held me while we told each other about our dreams--- I'm not sure when this became part of our morning ritual, but everyday we spend at least twenty minutes in bed just talking about our dreams. It's the perfect way to wake up (or fall back to sleep if you aren't careful). 

My dreams were crazy and one of them included me running the 800 at my old high school track. I won the race but woke up completely exhausted. 

Rob dreamt about our Gideon. He dreamt that I had given birth and that Gideon was tiny and perfect and lovely. I seriously almost cried as Rob described how much he loved our baby and how much he wanted him to come. He is gonna be the best daddy ever. 

Since I'm feeling all twitterpated I'm going to share a couple of things that I didn't know I loved about Rob when we got married

-He is very particular about his socks. They have to be the right height, thickness, and weight. He has a different pair of socks that he prefers for almost every pair of shoes. You may think that this is frustrating (and sometimes it is) but lately it's become an adorable quirk that I love.

-He cannot eat food plain. I don't know if it's because I took him out of his bachelor/experimental food  years too early or if it's a result of burning off his taste buds with hot peppers but this boy cannot just have a simple meal. Case in point: Chicken Nuggets

I came into the kitchen Sunday afternoon just after he had finished off a plate of chicken nuggets and 
this is what I saw

Yes. He is holding a bottle of Tabasco. Yes. There is a bottle of Honey Ray's BBQ Sauce on the table. And a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar. And a bottle of Red Taco Sauce. And a jar of peanut butter. 

OK, so I had left the peanut butter out from making a sandwich BUT he really did use all the rest of that stuff on his chicken nuggets. At the same time. And I'm pretty sure that if we had had any Ranch that would have been on the table as well. 

Why do I love this about my husband?? I have no idea. It just makes me smile. 

-He is amazingly talented with music. Now, I knew this before we got married but I did not realize how it would translate into our everyday lives. Sometimes while I'm cooking or reading or just laying there like a beached whale he will pick up the violin and just start playing. Often times he looks up songs that I love and then learns to play them by ear. He's romantic like that. 

-When he works on projects around the house he talks to himself. Not just little mumbles---full on conversations. I get to hear the exact process of problem solving that he goes through as he fixes our things and beautifies our home. It's kind of neat to see how his brain works and it makes me feel involved even though I'm not doing anything.

I hope he doesn't hate me for sharing all of these details with you. I just wanted to document some of the surprising and lovable things I've learned about my husband since we've started our life together. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A long time coming...

Journaling has never been my strong point. Not when I was a kid (even though mom would make me write every monday) and not now. That being said, I'm going to try to do better. No promises though!

To add to the shame of not being a good journal-er I realize that I'm also not a good scrapbooker/photo organizer. We have taken so many photos over the past few months since I've written--which would make sense because in that time we've gone to France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, we've gone on 3 family camping trips, I took a trip to San Francisco and Orange County, we drove to Fairbanks to visit Ann and Sean, Rob went on several scouting trips AND we've had three separate trips to the hospital due to preterm labor! We've gone to the zoo, we've gone to the Alaska State Fair, we've taken scenic drives. We've seen bears and moose and mating muskrats. We've taken picnics, we've done craft projects, we've celebrated birthdays. We even moved apartments!

So in an attempt to play catch up, here are some photos from our adventures!

                                                                                              We had a very long, very awful layover and I felt no shame sleeping on the airport floor (I blame pregnancy!)

We "locked" our love on a bridge over the Seinne and threw the key away. Literally hundreds of people have done this before us.

Rob climbed on anything he could while we were in Europe.

Although I have hundreds of other pictures from Europe, you will have to facebook stalk Rob in order to see them.

Below is one of the only pictures I seem to have from my trip to California in May. Photo credit goes to my incredibly handsome 16 yr old brother, Michael.

Camping with my in-laws is one of my favorite summer activities. We drive a couple hours out of town and set up camp at a secluded little lake and then we lay around and eat food for a couple of days. It's pretty awesome.

My nephews are rockstars.

Campfires are great, but they lose a little bit of the classic appeal in "The Land of the Midnight Sun"

This is our palatial 3 room tent. Much appreciation goes out to Dad and Mom Higham for the Christmas gift---we will be using it for many years to come!

Bradley had a birthday!! I made a cake!

Our son, Gideon James. I believe the classic *face palm* may have been a reaction to Rob's attempts at humor during the ultrasound. 

Kristy and Rob played a beautiful musical number at church. People literally came up to me crying to tell me how good it was---After which most of them asked me what talent I had that complimented my husband's "there MUST be some talent you have that attracted him to you".  Well folks, I've been asking myself the same question for a long time and the answer is nope. No talent worthy of his beautiful music, but somehow he still fell in love with me (THANK GOODNESS)

Our home living room doubles as Rob's music studio where he teaches violin lessons so this was our collaborative effort to beautify/organize the place.

I bought Rob an inflatable kayak for funsies. Real kayaks are WAY too expensive for us.

Gideon wants to come out and play!! The green line shows contractions, which were coming pretty strong about 2-3 minutes apart for two hours before we even went to the hospital. BTW terbutaline is the worst drug ever.

One day I looked out our apartment window to see this:

Rob's boss Petr is riding a giant unicycle. All in a days work, right?

The Alaska State Fair was way fun but rainy.  Since I'm pregnant and wasn't able to ride any of the rides we pretty much paid the ridiculous entrance fee in order to pay the ridiculous prices for the ridiculously delicious food. Between the two of us we consumed two giant turkey legs, a brick of fries covered in cheese, cotton candy, funnel cakes, a giant cream puff, and cheesecake in a cone. Had any of that food lasted long enough I probably would have taken pictures of it, but we consumed it all in record time.

The sign on the pig pen reads "Hi, I'm Princess I am going to have babies here at the fair :)" We were instant friends.

Even though these 20 pictures don't do the past 5 months even a little bit of justice, I feel proud of myself for even making the attempt. And I'm proud of you for making it to the end of this post.

And because I'm so proud of us for our combined efforts I've decided to upload one bonus picture for your viewing pleasure.

                   Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you LESTER*, the amazing rooster-like thing.

*ok. So I made his name up. and I'm not sure what kind of animal he really is. I guess I could have read the sign that gave me all that information but I was too stunned and mesmerized by Lester's good looks.