Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Time Asher Grace had RSV

In February Asher got a cold. It started as any other illness with her just not feeling well and wanting to sleep a lot and eat very little for a couple of days, but then I noticed her breathing was a bit labored.  Instead of letting it pass I took her in to the doctor.  He said she had an ear and nose infection (babies don't have sinuses, so it's just a "nose" infection), put her on amoxicillin and said just to give it time to run it's course.  I asked about RSV or bronchiolitis, he said RSV usually presents as a TON of mucous, and Ash didn't even have a very runny nose.  The next day she was worse.  She was so lethargic, still wouldn't eat, and her breathing was quicker and shallower.  I felt strongly that we should take her back into the pediatrician.  I felt so silly doing so, but I knew something wasn't right.  I left Jack and the older girls waiting in the car, went in and asked the nurse to take her blood oxygen because her breathing was worrying me.  It was so low that they checked it three times and then tried a breathing treatment to see if it came up, then tested it again.  No change.  The doctor and NP then came in and told me they had called an ambulance for her.  I was shocked.  I thought they couldn't be serious.  They said she needed to be treated right away with equipment they didn't have there. I told them if she needed to go to the hospital we could just drive her there.  The NP said she had worked in an ER for 8 years and had seen babies with this low of blood oxygen go from Asher's state to cardiac arrest in a matter of a couple of minutes.  I texted Jack during this and said they were getting an ambulance; he was confused too.  Once they told me the severity of the situation and that the ambulance was almost there to get her, I called him and said, "you need to come inside right now."  On our way out of the office we saw a sweet lady in our ward who was sitting in the office and I'm sure I look completely shell-shocked.  When they hooked our tiny girl up to oxygen and strapped her (in her car seat) onto a gurney, she barely even responded. I got in the ambulance and we went to the Riverton hospital where they put her on a c-pap (which helps force air and oxygen in to her lungs when she inhales).  This didn't help her enough so they then switched to a bi-pap (forces air and oxygen in and out of her lungs to help with all of her breathing).  When her O2 levels still didn't come up enough, there was talk of intubating her.  At this point they called the life flight team from Primary Children's because she was in a serious enough state that she needed the equipment and team there to stabilize and treat her. Intubation would involve sedating her and forcing a tube down her throat to get air into her lungs.   While they were preparing for this and waiting for the attending doctor the life flight team arrived.  The EMT was so great and caring and Jack asked him if he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.  He said he was and that he would be happy to help Jack give our girl a priesthood blessing.  It was pretty amazing.  The doctors said it would be a little traumatic to watch them intubate Ash and that we should leave the room and they would call the attending doctor to come in and do it.  Instead of going to the waiting room I was sitting outside the door crying on Jack when the attending doctor got to the room.  She asked that Asher be tested one more time before they put her out and they found that her numbers had improved a bit with the bi-pap and that they wouldn't need to intubate her before going to Primary Children's.  I know this was an answer to prayers and the blessing.  I was so thankful.  They strapped her in again and I got on the helicopter with her.  The life flight team was so great and made me feel completely at ease in such a stressful situation.  Also, I admit it was pretty cool to fly over the valley in a helicopter.  I joked with the team that it was the most expensive plane ride I'd ever taken (we found out 6 weeks later when we got the bills that this was true, times infinity) :)

Asher was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's and they had a crib and team waiting for her.  She had the same two nurses there the entire time (during the day shifts) and they were so fantastic.  They hooked her up to all of her monitors and their bi-pap and the doctors went over things with me while I filled out paperwork.  Once they had been informed of her situation and had run a bunch of tests they concluded that she had RSV and bronchiolitis.  Because babies can't blow their noses or cough up mucous like older kids can, all of the liquid had just been collecting in her lungs, filling up their capacity and making it more and more difficult to breath.  By the time I had taken her into the doctor the second time her body had been working so hard for so long that she would have tired out soon and shut down.  The doctor said that if I had put her to bed that night at home, she probably would not have woken up again.  Her lungs were too full and she was too tired.

We spent 5 days in the hospital.  It was terrifying, exhausting, and really really wonderful.  I had never seen life as fragile before that experience and it made me that much grateful for the health of my family that I had taken for granted.  Our ward members, family members, neighbors, and friends were so amazing and supportive.  Texts and calls started pouring almost from the second we arrived at the hospital from people expressing love and support and offering service.  Jack was the true rockstar, being at the hospital with me most of the time then driving back and forth from the hospital to home when needed so I could stay up there all week, taking care of the girls (when they weren't with his awesome mom and sister), he got a hotel room right next to the hospital and would sit up late with Asher so I could go to the room and sleep after being in the hospital all day, he cleaned our whole house spotless while I was gone, and was so supportive and calm.  Everyone who has had a child at Primary Children's knows how wonderful they are there.  Asher's team just loved her so much and were so capable and considerate.  We had a chance to attend a service at the hospital that our church gives and several parents stood up and told about their children who have various illnesses and how they had been living there for months or off and on for years.  One mother told about her two-year-old son who had brain cancer and probably wouldn't make it another month.  It was so heartbreaking and humbling.

RSV is a virus, which means it can't be treated with antibiotics.  Basically, the doctors and nurses just had to keep Asher alive and breathing long enough for her body to fight it off and clear out her lungs.  She was almost comatose for three days in the hospital, but then slowly she began to wake up and respond.  She started coughing more and more, which was great because it helped loosen and get rid of the mucous and liquid in her lungs.  The whole time she had a feeding tube in, and I was able to pump there and put breastmilk into her feeding tube, which was a blessing because then she could get the antibodies I could provide to her as well as the nutrition.  We knew she was out of the woods when, on the fourth day, she was fighting to get her bi-pap mask off. They put her on a c-pap and her oxygen levels held enough that they knew she was fine with less help breathing.  When they put her just on oxygen (in a nasal cannula) she dropped a bit again so they kept her on the c-pap longer, but were able to get her to oxygen by that evening and then we were able to be transferred up to our own room where she wouldn't need so much assistance.  I slept the night on the futon up in that room with her while the nurses checked her every 4 hours and the next day she started eating solids again.  We came home on that sixth night with instructions to keep her home for the next couple of days and to follow up with her pediatrician.  Driving home with her was a wonderful feeling.  She held her balloons that friends had sent and I could tell she was so happy to be able to go out.  Jack had the whole house spotless and he and the girls had more balloons for Asher waiting at home.  The next few nights I'd wake up in the night just to go check on her. I'd check her respiratory rate and put my hand on her back and feel the air go in and out of her lungs.  It was a beautiful sound.  Every day I am more grateful for her, Olivia, and Berlin.  My prayers of thanks have numbered in the hundreds since that day.  I'm so thankful for promptings, for priesthood blessings, for prayer, for an amazing husband, and for our friends and family.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Olivia's Fun Run

We got notice the day before that Liv was going to be participating in a "fun run" at school (sometimes with a 5-year-old things get forgotten or lost in translation :)
I put on her running shoes and then Jack and I went to the school at 9:30 to see a whole course set up.  She had a sticker on her back, and long story short, these small kids ran THIRTY-SIX laps! They had a drink station for when they needed to rest and volunteers marked of a number on their backs for every lap until they finished.  I was thinking "no way these kindergartners can run this much!"  Our little Liv though ran the entire thing.  No walking.  She stopped three times for a quick drink and then started running again.  It was amazing.  I was emotional.  Her face was red and she was huffing, but not once did she walk. At one point the "buddy run" was announced and she quickly found a friend to hold hands with for 4 laps.  We were so glad we were there to watch and I was so proud of her.

Spring Break

Excerpt from Jack's Instagram:

"We spent all of our Spring Break money (plus a few dollars more) back in February on a certain little one's expensive taste for a private limo and helicopter ride on her way to a 5 night stay at the luxurious Primary Children's Hospital Resort (thank you #ashergrace !) So we have made this week special just playing around here with grocery store races, tea parties, baking cookies, the park, breakfast at Six Sisters, a visit to Thanksgiving Point, cousin time, ice cream at Cold Stone, the Lego store, puzzles, a trip to the movies, dance parties, Scheels Ferris Wheel, Kangaroo Zoo, Go Fish, the most amazing gourmet cooking from our own private chef McCall, bike rides, and a sleepover and movie night and slumber party in the basement! We've gone to some awesome places in the past for Spring Break but this year was by far my favorite! "

Monday, March 20, 2017

Our Disney Cruise

Guys.  We went on a Disney cruise in February!  Two of Jack's brothers and their families were going and Jack started to really want to go.  I wasn't all about it.  Three young kids on a long flight and then all sleeping in a tight room together for 5 nights?  Meh.  I will never not do something that Jack is stoked about though unless I'm strongly against it, so I jumped on board (eh? eh? :) )  and started what was actually a very difficult (for me) process of planning and packing.  I'm not naturally a very organized, plan-ahead, type A kind of person, but Jack is and I love that about him, and I have learned to be that way more as a mom because it makes life so much easier.  So I read all the blogs about Disney cruises, made lots of packing lists, and had to get lots of new things since we were currently holed in in the middle of a Utah valley winter heading into the middle of the warm, wet Caribbean.  Olivia needed to move up a size in summer goods (swimsuit, sandals), and I had to unpack some seasonal bins and really look ahead and be efficient with packing each person just a carry-on bag and backpack (we hate checking bags on an airline so we try to only do carry-ons). Whew!  So with all of that done, we boarded a plane on a snowy, freezing evening and headed to Florida.  Liv called it Floribelle because she has a book called that and it was so cute :) The flight with a one-year-old was less than ideal, but it was cool to be on the same flight with so much family, and we made it there without much drama with Little Miss Asher. We got to Miami at 12:45am and our hotel's shuttle picked us up curbside and took us straight to our hotel, where we crashed.  Jack and I in a king bed, Asher in a portable crib, Liv and Berlin on some folded blankets on the floor.

In the morning I put the girls' swimsuits on under their clothes since I'd read that our room may not be ready for a few hours after we boarded the ship and we wouldn't have our luggage brought to our room right away.  I also had a backpack packed to keep with us that had some essentials in (diapers, snacks, valuables and travel documents, sunscreen, etc.)  We ate the hotel's continental breakfast, and then took their shuttle to where all of the cruise ships were docked at Miami's port.  We checked all of our luggage with the cruise line (except our backpack we wanted to keep), and went inside to stand in line.  Even though our check-in time wasn't until 1:30, we got there right when things opened at 11:00 and were able to get on earlier.  We still had to wait a bit, got our "key to the world" cards, which would be our room keys and IDs on the ship, and registered our girls for the Oceaneer's Club onboard.  Once on board, we walked around a bit to see the ship, the Disney Magic, and swam a bit.  Once the rest of the family boarded we went to the ship's buffet, Cabanas.  All of the kids were so stoked on the amount of food available to them and that they could pick anything they wanted.  We told our girls that we weren't going to make them eat ANYTHING they didn't want to on the cruise so that was also pretty neat to them haha.  It made my mama heart happy though to see them pick a bunch of fruit and healthy options most of the trip because that's what they were used to eating at home...although Olivia got mac and cheese every chance she got :) Our room was ready by about 1:30, and our luggage arrived around 4:00.  Our room was really amazing.  We had two bathrooms, one with a toilet and vanity, and the other with a bath tub (yes, a tub in a stateroom!  Everything was so child-friendly!) A King bed that could be separated from the rest of the room by a large curtain, a twin bed with another bed that pulled down from the ceiling right above it to look like bunkbeds, a murphy bed that pulled down from the wall, a desk, a TV, a mini refrigerator, and lots of storage cupboards and a closet. Our girls slept on the bunkbeds and Asher was in a portable crib.  We also had a large glass door that opened onto a veranda with lounge chairs and a table and looked straight out onto the ocean. I really, really loved our room.  We had the same housekeeper our entire stay, a lady named Pa.  She made our blanket and towel animals each night and left us chocolate coins :) There were lots of places to hang wet swimsuits, and each room had something called Wave Phones since we wouldn't have service on board.  Disney also has a cruise app that you can use on your phones the entire time you're on the ship to text each other within the app without needing service.

We saw so many fun characters on board and were excited to see some that we hadn't been able to see at Disneyland before, like the Disney Jr characters (Doc McStuffins, Sophia, Jake).  There were lots of princesses all in the atrium together (Belle, Cinderella, Tiana, and Repunzel), Anna, Elsa, and Olaf doing meet and greets together, all of the clubhouse characters (Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy) in multiple outfits, Thor, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow..that's all I can think of without going through pictures :) They were all so great with all of the kids, but I thought Rapunzel was the absolute cutest with our girls.  She danced and twirled with them and spent so much time squatted down talking to them and making them laugh. There were a few dance parties on board where the characters would be right in with the kids dancing with them.  Up on deck was a HUGE movie screen that played movies and music all the time and we could watch from the pool or deck chairs.  During the pirate party every dressed up like pirates, danced on deck, they had a special show where Olivia was picked to go up and help defeat Captain Hook and his pirates, and then they shot fireworks off of the deck.  Disney is the only cruise line authorized to light fireworks from their deck.  It was pretty amazing!  Asher did something called the "Diaper Dash" that was a race just for crawling babies.  She happened to be the only baby around who was crawling, not walking, so it didn't really pan out and also the pressure got to her when she was at the starting line and she put her head down and cried haha.  She got over it thought and made her way down her lane to me.

The food on board was sooo much better than food on any other cruise and at most restaurants!  They had a buffet open for every meal called Cabanas that had a large variety of different food every day.  On deck were lots of soda machines, ice cream machines, Daisy's Deli had sandwiches and fruit, Pinnochio's pizza, a burger joint, and gyros.  Each night we were signed up for one of the restaurants on board and had a serving duo that was assigned to us for the entire cruise.  Since we had them for every restaurant meal they knew what our preferences were and what drinks we liked.  They'd have them waiting for us when we got to dinner each time and the kids' cups were labeled with their names.  My favorite restaurant was Animator's Palate.  The entire restaurant was black and white (including the server's uniforms) and there were big screens all over the walls that showed artists sketching Disney characters.  As each course of the meal came out the sketches gained more detail and color until eventually as dessert was served all the screens, walls, and servers uniforms were filled with color.  At the end Mickey came out in his sorcerer's robes and put on a show for us, walking among the tables!  We loved it so much that we went back for a second night.  Lumiere's was  our fancy night restaurant and our girls dressed in their princess dresses, Berlin as Belle since we were in her restaurant ;)  One night all of the adults in our group ate at Palo.  In Palo you can pay $30 a person extra (whereas all other food on board is included in the initial cost of the cruise), to have a really high-class french inspired meal.  It was AMAZING.  At all meals it was so fun to try as many appetizers, desserts, soups, and even entrees as we wanted!

One of my favorite things about the cruise was the Oceaneer's Club and Lab.  It's a club for kids ages 3-12 and each child has a wrist band to check in and out and keeps track of them.  They can go in as many times or for as long as they want each day and all of the employees in there have fun activities, games, and crafts planned at all times of the day!  Our girls made lanterns, bracelets, baked cookies, played in "Andy's Room" on the slides and toys, had story time with characters, played games on the tablets there, watched movies, and put on plays.  They also feed all of the kids at meals. Liv and Berlin absolutely loved it.  To check your kids in they simply scan their wristbands at the front desk, and wash their hands in high-powered washers, and to check out a parent or approved guardian has to go in and scan their key card, then the employee verifies your picture on their screen and asks for your secret word that is also associated with your picture and key card.  They could then track which room they were in by a gps in the kids' wrist band. It made my anxious Mama heart feel so assured that they were safe in there.  For kids 6 months to 3 years there is It's a Small World Nursery with toys, snack, and cribs in it.  The nursery spots can be reserved or you can check them in on the spot when there is room and costs $8 per hour.  It was so nice to be able to take Asher there for naps so we didn't have to sit in the room with her and during the nice dinner and the shows on board that she wouldn't have enjoyed.  The staff of both the Oceaneer's Club and the nursery can text you via the Disney app to let you know if your child is having any trouble or needs anything.  It was so cool to use these when we wanted to do adult things like Family Feud, Karaoke, and movie trivia.

The cruise had two stops, one in Cozumel and one at Disney's own island, Castaway Cay.  At our stop in Cozumel we got on a ferry over to Playa del Carmen.  Jack's brother had arranged an LDS tour guide to take us out on a Mercedes Sprinter to Tulum.  Tulum is an ancient abandoned city and it was absolutely amazing. Once we got there we got on a rickety trailer filled with bolted down park benches and pulled by a tractor :) we walked through a stone tunnel arch that opened up to the ancient city and honestly not many things take my breath away with as much traveling as we do, but this did.  I brought my bjorn with me to carry Asher around on my back and I was SO glad I did.  It was very hot and humid and the paths and stair were so uneven that it would have been a nightmare to carry her or push her in a stroller.  I plopped a big sunhat on her and she fell asleep on me.  The reason we wanted an LDS tour guide (a member of our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints) was because this was a city where many things from our scriptures, the Book of Mormon, take place and where Nephites and Lamanites lived.  Archeologists from BYU even think that this is probably where Lehi's family lived.  I would give anything to see what that city was like back in its glory days.  Right next to it and down a staircase was one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen!

After touring Tulum we went to a place that lets you swim with dolphins!  Honestly I wasn't overly thrilled about this, thinking most of us would wait on the side and watch one person at a time get in and it would be hot and my kids would be too scared to get in.  But we all waded in and were able to touch the dolphins as they swam by, get kisses, hugs, and then be pulled around!  My girls got to ride on my back as the dolphin pulled us!  Even Asher, by the end, had gotten brave enough to extend her hand and touch the dolphin's back.  It really was an incredible experience.

The day we were supposed to dock at Castaway Cay, Asher woke up at 5:30.  I rushed her out of the room and we spent the morning topside, watching the sunrise.  I could see the Cay.  Shortly thereafter though, an announcement was made that there was a cold front blowing in and the under tides in the water made it too dangerous to dock.  We spent an extra day at sea and were pretty disappointed to miss out on Disney's own island.  We still had lots of fun on board though.  Throughout the trip we had so much fun playing games with family; family feud, where Dave and Britton participated onstage; karaoke, where the 3-D's encored their performance from our Mexican cruise a few years ago; trivia, challenges, board games, ping pong on the top deck, etc.

Our ship had three different musical plays and I loved two of the three.  The Rapunzel one was absolutely amazing, we sat on the front row and interacted with the actors during the play.  Lanterns floated from the ceiling, and it was just so great!  Another was a Cinderella play about what would happen if things had gotten twisted, and the third was about a girl in her bedroom visited by Disney characters (it was my least favorite).

We had a pirate party on board and all dressed up for pirate dinner.  At the dance party, Olivia was chosen out of the crown as one of the kids to help defeat Captain Hook and then fireworks were shot off from the deck!

It really was such a magical, bonding experience for our family.  I would definitely recommend it, and we will go again once our youngest is old enough to go to the Oceaneer's Club :)

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