Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dad's Perspective. Max: Part 1

Now it’s time for my thoughts and memories of Max's birth day. Note, if you haven't read Nickell's "part 1" you should. Mine will make a lot more sense if you have.

This journey started on December 26th as we started our all too familiar drive, to California. We got a later start than we wanted, it was also pretty snowy, so we were going slower than usual. (Thank goodness for 4 wheel drive).  We were stopping a lot for Nickell, with her being pregnant and not feeling the greatest I figured she would have to take a lot of breaks. I was fully prepared for a drive that would take longer than usual. Or so I thought. I had no idea, just how long it would be.
The drive had been going as expected, snowy, slow, with a lot of stops and Nickell not feeling well. She was just in a lot of pain and could not get comfortable. The boys watched lots of movies and slept. I would try and drive as fast as I could whenever the weather let up a little bit, just to try and get us to Nickell's parents house as soon as possible. I kept wishing we would have left sooner, because then we would have been closer to their house.

By the time we finally reached St. George, Nickell was feeling bad enough that she wanted to go to an insta-care to see a doctor. I started calling the insta-cares that were near by to see what wait times would be like. The shortest wait was an hour and a half. I hated seeing Nickell in so much pain and was willing to wait however long needed ­if it would help her feel better. Nickell, didn’t want to wait. She just kept saying, "I just want to be in bed, lying down." We got back on the road. This whole time the boys had been doing great. They were just enjoying watching their movies. We have been blessed with some wonderful boys. They were really, so patient through all of this.

Her pain seemed to be getting worse. I figured it was just because she was pregnant and uncomfortable being in a car for so long. When we were almost to Baker, Nickell was suddenly moving very quickly for the plastic cup that we got at the beginning of the trip, just in case she threw up.  I'm so glad we were prepared. I started to pull over, looking for a spot that wouldn’t be the least suicidal. I jumped out of the car and ran over to her side. There wasn't much I could do but I held her hair back from her face and tried rubbing her back. It’s amazing how sometimes, throw up doesn’t bother you. Luckily this was one of those times. I cleaned out the cup and got Nickell cleaned up. She was shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. I felt helpless. I didn't know what to do. I wished that I could take all of her pain upon myself so that she could get some rest.  We were only miles from Baker so we headed there so she could go into the bathroom and wash her face off a little better. 

Once we were in Baker and she'd had a chance to clean up a little better, we pulled around the back of the gas station for some privacy so that I could give Nickell a blessing. I was praying so hard for this blessing, I wanted Nickell to have some relief and be able to sleep and allow her body to rest. 

By the time we stopped in Victorville for our last fill-up of the drive, Nickell’s pain had reached new levels. When I got back in the car I heard her asking her mom what labor felt like. Shortly after hanging up the phone, Nickell told me to go to the nearest hospital. This is when I really started to panic.  And not for fear of the baby coming, that still wasn't a thought in my mind, but just the fact Nickell was saying to get to a hospital, made me really nervous. To understand why, you need to know that Nickell, will avoid going to the hospital at all costs. If she was agreeing to go without any force on my part, something was seriously wrong. I quickly looked up the nearest hospital and started driving there. Nickell informed me that Lloyd, Kristi, Brock and Becca were on their way. 

As we drove to the Victor Valley Community Hospital, I was not liking what I was seeing. We were being guided through a bad neighborhood into the middle of no where. We finally reached the top of a hill where I saw the hospital signs but did not believe that this was the hospital. It was tiny, it was ghetto! But it was all we had. I dropped Nickell off at the ER  entrance then went to park. I was trying to get the kids and get in there as fast as I could. When I walked in the doors I was thinking I would have to ask someone which room Nickell was is in, but she was still standing in line. First thing I did was cut to the front of the line and told the lady my wife is 33 weeks pregnant and in a lot of pain. She buzzed us in. After some wondering around the hospital (that was our first sign to leave, we should have listened) Nickell was finally getting some help, or so I thought (see Nickell’s post).

I couldn’t be back in labor and delivery with the kids, I guess they would have bothered all zero patients that were back there. I gave Nickell a kiss and left her with these people who claimed to be nurses. At this point I didn't know how bad these nurses/hosiptal was, so I thought she was in good hands and that they would take care of her. I was just more anxious for Nickell's parents to arrive so that I could be with her. While waiting in the lobby with the boys I was doing my best to keep Kristi up to date with Nickell’s status, through phone calls and text. The boys were very excited to be out of the car. They were playing and I was trying to keep them contained as much as possible, so they wouldn’t bother the other people in the waiting area, but they had been cooped up in a car for 10 hours and wanted to run around. I was only in the waiting area for about 10 mins when the security guard asked us to leave because the boys were causing a disturbance.  Seconds later, Tadd threw up. Perfect.  I cleaned it up as best I could and headed back to the car to wait for Nickell’s family to arrive.

Once Nickell’s family got there, Brock and Becca got in our car to wait with Kade and Tadd. I'm so glad they came. The boys absolutely adore them.  Lloyd, Kristi and I all headed back to be with Nickell. The very first thing we did was have Lloyd give her a blessing. I was grateful for him, I was feeling inadequate with my blessings. Looking back, I think I was just exhausted. 

The rest of our stay at Victor Valley Community Hospital was a waste of time. Maybe not a complete waste, Nickell was getting IV fluids to help with dehydration. However, the entire time we were there, we never saw an actual doctor and it seemed that they were not even interested in helping or treating her. 

We contacted Chris and Erin Mecklenberg to see if any of Chris’ family (who live in Victorville) could let the boys, Brock and Becca go over to their house. We were desperate and had no clue how long we would be there. He got a hold of his sister-in-law who said that would be fine. Then, Lloyd decided to take all the kids to Denny’s. I just want to say thank you to Chris’ family, whom we have never met, for being willing to allow complete strangers go over to their house so late at night. While we didn't end up needing to do that, we are still very grateful they were willing. 

Finally while in labor and delivery the nurses told us that the doctor “was not comfortable treating her pain”, so they sent her to the ER. After waiting for maybe an hour in a chair (not even a bed), the PA said all that they would give Nickell for the pain is Tylenol (which we had in the car), but before they could even do that they had to send her back to labor and delivery and get checked in. The other thing they kept saying was that they were waiting for a bed in the “other ER” whatever that meant, especially since while waiting we kept seeing other patients come and go. Also, to give an idea of the quality of care provided there,we could overhear the PA talking to another patient and the patient said there was also blood in their urine. The PA then responded “Hmm, that’s weird I don’t know what would cause that. You should go see your doctor.” Are you kidding?!!! She obviously didn't come into the ER to see a doctor. Once hearing that, I wanted out of there as soon as possible!  When asking for the discharge papers they finally started giving us some attention but Nickell signed the papers to discharge against medical advisement. We got out of there. 

Nickell’s parents took the boys and our dog to their house while I took Nickell to Henry Mayo Hospital, in Valencia. According to mapquest it’s 1 hour 45 mins, I made it in about 45 mins. Luckily, there were no cars or cops out. 
Once we were there, they got Nickell a wheelchair (already a better situation) and took her to labor and delivery where you could tell they knew what they were doing. They got her hooked up to monitors, an IV with fluids to hydrate and with pain meds to finally allow her to not be in so much pain. Nickell was finally able to rest without pain, aside from the contractions, those just made her uncomfortable. They still wouldn’t let Nickell have any water, only a few ice chips “just in case”. They kept her hooked up to the monitors and Kristi helped her breath through the contractions. We have never had to do that part of labor so it was kind of weird to see Kristi telling her to breath and guiding her through it, it was like in the movies. But I was really glad that Kristi was there because I would not have known what to do. But even at this point it still didn’t occur to me that Max was coming. I thought they were just going to get the contractions go away. I could not stay awake any longer and I finally passed out in a chair. I found out later that Kristi stayed up. Thank you Kristi.
(I told you I wouldn't hold anything back.)

At 8:00am we finally woke up and we got to meet her doctor, Dr. Izu. He talked about Nickell’s contractions and the baby’s heart rate when the contractions were happening. What is suppose to happen is the baby’s heart rate should drop during the contraction but Max’s would drop after the contraction. This made the doctor concerned along with the other back pain that made him want to watch it for a little. I was nervous and concerned, but the thought of the baby coming that day still never occurred to me. We just had so much time before he was supposed to be born. Max being born was just something I couldn't wrap my head around.

It wasn’t much longer that Dr. Izu returned and told us that our baby would be coming. My first thought was NO he’s too little. My second thought was NO our health insurance doesn’t start for another 4 days. But that thought was quickly pushed aside. I didn’t care what the cost, I just wanted and needed Nickell and Max to be ok.

The doctor stepped out of the room for a minute and Nickell and I were alone. I took this moment to say a very special prayer asking for help and a special blessing that everything would be ok.

Then the chaos happened.

The nurses and doctors started prepping Nickell for surgery.

I texted my mom letting her know the baby was coming today. I was hoping she would pass it onto my siblings.

I was signing whatever paperwork was handed to me and I may or may not have accidentally written Nickell's name down as Blair Nickell...whoops. 

They wheeled Nickell down to prep her in the OR.

I ran down to the car to get the camera. How dead would I be if we didn't have pictures of our boy.

I had to start getting myself ready to be in the room with her. I did this in a smaller room just outside the OR doors. This wait to get in there with her seemed like, forever. I got dressed in my fancy white jumpsuit, took a few pics of myself for documentation purposes and waited.
I was full of so many mixed emotions: Max is coming! It’s too early. Would everything be OK? What would be wrong with him? I get to see Max today!!  With so much running through my mind, I said another prayer, pleading with the Lord that everything would be OK.

As I entered the OR the first thing I saw was Nickell stretched out on the OR table only her arms and head visible. The rest was behind the blue curtain where the doctor and nurses where working. I was told that I couldn’t video during the procedure but I could before and after. So I sat next to Nickell to comfort her best I could.

The procedure went quickly, just like it had with Kade and Tadd. When Nickell could feel them pushing she told me to turn the camera on so that I could get his first cry recorded. But there wasn’t one. I watched, and recorded, as they carried him to the table. Nickell could not see what was going on and kept asking "what’s going on, why isn’t he crying?" So I tried to explain what they were doing. All I could tell was they were tying to get him to breath. They were doing chest compressions and getting oxygen to his tiny underdeveloped lungs. One doctor was wiping him down trying to stimulate him with some movement is my guess. He looked lifeless. No sound, no movement. It seemed to last forever. I felt frozen. I just kept filming putting all my faith in the doctors that they would be able to bring him back. I didn’t want to worry Nickell anymore than she already was, so very quietly I just kept saying, “Come on Max. Come on Max.” That was all I could do. Looking back, I am surprised at how well I kept it together. I had to for Nickell; I, was all she could see.
Finally after what seemed like eternity we heard a tiny cry. A breath finally left my body. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath. They held him up for us to see as he cried a lot. That was the best sound I'd heard! They let me cut the umbilical cord. That was a complete surprise, and a happy one. They didn’t let me do that with Kade and Tadd.

The doctors then continued to get Max ready for transport and took his measurements; 4 lbs 2 oz, 17 inches long. I walked over to Nickell and kissed her on the forehead. I told her, "he's fine." We both had tears streaming down our faces. She told me to go with him. I kept asking the doctors, if on the way out they could just bring him next to Nickell. They were snippy about it but finally allowed it. I then kissed Nickell again and left her with the doctors to do what they do. I would see her soon. The next stop would be the NICU while they wait for the Northridge NICU transport since Henry Mayo's was full.

As I followed the doctors out of the OR I found Lloyd, Kristi and Daniel waiting. (Daniel had taken a break from work to be there for the blessing. He stayed as long as he could, but had to leave before we could give Max the blessing). We all followed along behind the transport team, to the NICU. They brought Max into one of the rooms that they cleared temporarily until the Northridge team got there and in that room they continued to work on him. I wanted to give him a blessing but also didn’t want to prevent the doctors from doing what Max needed them to do. I talked with the charge nurse about when we could give him a blessing and she made it seem like we'd never get to. She was very difficult. She is the same nurse who said that Nickell wouldn’t be able to see Max as they took him out of the OR, she should be fired for nothing more than a poor bedside manner. She works in the NICU where obviously there are nervous/scared parents, she and she severely lacks empathy or kindness.

The nurses continued to work on Max. As they did so, I wandered back and forth between where people where waiting to the room Max was in. I was just looking for the moment where we could give him a blessing. In the mean time the Dr. Izu came down and told me that Nickell was good and in recovery. He then explained that the only thing wrong with Max’ was his lungs were underdeveloped. He then explained about a fluid that they can put in his lungs that will help them heal and help it develop. Of course I said yes. Anything for Max.
Finally the chance came where we could give Max a blessing. It was just Lloyd and I as Daniel had to leave and Brandon was not there yet. (Once Brandon knew we were having our baby he and Jeanessa dropped everything and started their way to the hospital.) There was only one nurse in the room when we gave Max a blessing. I tried to be quick as to not keep the nurses from monitoring Max, but I did not want to rush it either as I knew that although the doctors, nurses, and medicine where helping Max, the blessing is what was going to help Max make the quickest progress that he could. Sadly Brandon showed up shortly after we had finished the blessing. But even though he was not there for that I’m glad he was there. He took the camera from me and started taking pictures, some of the first ones that I was in. I then just continued going back and forth between Max and those waiting nearby.
When the Northridge transport team arrived we met Zully who would be Max’s nurse. Instantly she was kind and compassionate and helped us feel as ease. One of the first things she asked me was how “the mom” was doing. I told her I just talked with the doctor and everything is good and that she is in recovery. Zully then assured me that Max was doing fine and that they will wait until she’s out of recovery to leave because they were going to bring Max by the room to let Nickell see him before they left. This was one of the best things I had heard. I knew that this was a prayer answered for Nickell.

I left to go check on Nickell. When I got back to the womens unit she was in her room. I gave Nickell an update on everything happening and told her that they would be bringing Max by before he leaves. I could tell that was the best news she'd received that day or maybe even, ever. I kissed her and headed back to the NICU. Once Max and the transport team were ready we headed to Nickell’s room. I was so excited for this. I am so glad Zully made sure that Nickell would see him. Seeing Nickell holding his hand, getting a chance to look at him, warmed my heart. Words can’t express how happy I was that she got to see and touch him. When the time came for them to leave, it was incredibly hard. I knew Nickell just wanted him to stay and I wanted that for her. But we knew he must go. It was hard to leave Nickell. I know she needed someone to be with her so her mom stayed while I went to Northridge.

I did not leave right when the NICU team left. I talked with the people who were still there and gathered my things. On my way down to Northridge I stopped by Tommys for a burger. I had not eaten all day and didn’t know when I would eat next. So I ate and texted people to keep them updated with the status of everything. Once done I made my way into the Northridge Hospital Medical Center. 

At the security counter where you get the visitor badges, I told them I was there to see Maxwell Blair. I waited for a little bit then he said they don’t have a Maxwell Blair. Not what I was wanting to hear. I told him he had just been transferred to the NICU from Henry Mayo. He looked again. Nothing. He told me to try the emergency admitting. I went down there hoping they had a record of him. I went through the same routine as with the guard and got the same result. Now some freaking out. My mind started to wander, worst case scenarios were playing out in my mind. You’ve all seen the movies, he’s been kidnapped. That team that came in to "transport him" wasn't really a transport team. (I've obviously seen too many movies because the thought that I was at the wrong hospital never even crossed my mind.) 

They told me to check main admitting. I quickly went there. I signed in and waited. The whole time thinking where is my son? If not here then where should I be? WHERE IS MAX!!! I got called back and again went through the same routine as the others. Finally he checked under Nickell. There he was. Apparently they put his last name as Nickell. Phew, we weren't part of some conspiracy.

I made my way up to the NICU. I was looking for room 5100. I felt like a freshman on the first day of school looking for my class. There I was, nervous, anxious, scared. I have never been in a NICU, never thought I would be. 

I found the room rang the doorbell, and a nurse met me at the door. She showed me how we are to scrub-in up to our elbows every time we come in to see Max. Once done with my first scrub-in I entered the NICU. It was overwhelming seeing all the incubators and equipment. Max was the first one when you enter. He was actually in the middle of a procedure. He was covered with blue towels and all the instruments were lined up next to his incubator. His arms and legs were strapped down like he was being tortured. Obviously he wasn't, it was just to keep him still. They told me the doctor had to step out so don’t touch him. I just sat by Max’s side, staring at him. I don’t know how long it was for, but once the doctor returned I had to go out to the waiting area until they finished. While waiting I feel asleep. I don’t know how long I was asleep for but I was woken by a nurse letting me know I could go back in.
There he was, in just a diaper connected to a ton of wires and machines and a CPAP coming from his nose. It was overwhelming, but I knew that all this was just a small step in the process of him coming home. Zully came over and let me know to not stroke his skin and to just rest my hand on him. His skin was too sensitive and could only handle minimal touching. So I opened up one of the doors to his incubator and touched him. I held his hand, his chest, his head. I was soaking in all that I could. He was here, 7 weeks early and alive and in the NICU, at the mercy of the nurses, doctors and machines. How long was he going to be here? We'd have a lot of adjustments to make in our schedule but it was worth it. If it meant he was going to be safe and healthy.

I stayed as long a I could. Then I left Northridge hospital where my brand new baby was and headed to Henry Mayo hospital where my wife was.

When I got there she was trying to sleep. There wasn’t much else she could do. Her room was nothing like the IHC’s mother baby rooms, which is what she has been use to. She had to share a room and had the smaller portion. In the curtained off area there was, aside from her bed, enough room for one small chair. I could tell she was sad. I gave her an update on Max and how everything was at Northridge. I tried to comfort her. My plans were to stay the night there with her. It is what I had done with our other two boys. But she told me I couldn’t sleep in that chair (that was true, but I was willing to try) and she told me to go back her parents house. I did so reluctantly. I didn’t want to leave her. Not like this, especially with no baby to hold.

Finally I arrived at the Jensen’s, 36 hours after leaving our home in Utah. Brock wanted to watch a movie so we put on Dark Knight Rises in his room. I layed on the bed and lasted maybe 5 minutes before I fell asleep, I was fully dressed but was too exhausted to care.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Birth From Nana's Perspective

While today has been incredible and happy and celebratory, we still have a lot of the story to tell. This is my mom's version of what happened. Aaron's will be finished soon as well. Then I can finish my side of the story! Once again, read at your own discretion. It may seem repetitive but I really wanted all points of view for our own family history.  Enjoy!

We had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Nickell, Aaron and the boys. Brock was keeping us updated as to their whereabouts. The latest update was that they were almost in Victorville. “I can lay down for a minute, they will be here soon and we probably wont go to bed for awhile after they arrive so I need to take a little nap” Oh how I wish I had taken that nap! A few minutes later I got a call from Nickell, somewhat incomprehensible, crying, panicking, she didn’t say hi all I heard was “Mom, what does labor feel like? What do contractions feel like?” 

What? What’s going on? As she described to me the pain she was feeling my first thought was uterine rupture so I told her to get to the nearest hospital and I would meet her there. I jumped out of bed, got dressed and told Lloyd, I am going to Victorville, you can come if you would like to or you can stay here and sleep but I am going. I explained what the phone call was all about and he got Brock and Becca (good thing) and we all headed north for an unexpected trip, hoping we would get a call somewhere along the way saying it was just gas and we could turn around. Somehow I knew that call would never come. 

I texted Aaron the whole way…45 minutes away….30 minutes away…turning the corner, we will be there any minute, I could tell he was worried as he was not able to go inside with her because they would not allow the boys inside. Once we got there we got Brock and Becca situated with the boys in the car and we headed inside. What I did not expect was the first aid center they were calling a hospital. If you get in an accident in the parking lot of that hospital you should demand to be taken down the street to the other hospital. Looking back now it was just one of the stumbling blocks that got Nickell to Henry Mayo. If she had gone to the actual Victorville hospital she may never have made it to Henry Mayo. For that, we are grateful. What a testimony, that the Lord knows much more than we do and is so involved in the plan. 

Without going into too much detail they basically said…no they actually said…there is not really very much we can do for you other than to give you Tylenol. Tylenol? Really? I did my best mama bear impression and demanded that they give her some kind of pain reliever. To which the physicians assistant replied (ps, I am not making this up)…”she’s pregnant, there is nothing we can give her. I’m pretty sure all pain relievers are schedule C but let me check.” He pulled out his phone typed something in and scrolled a few times with his finger on the screen “yep, I was right they are all schedule C and not approved for use during pregnancy” We then sat in the waiting area of the ER triage and listened while he tried to treat a few patients. With each patient he “treated” I got more and more nervous about being there. “we think its..” “yeah you are bleeding but we don’t know why so you should just follow up with your regular dr” I’m sorry, what? What we heard is obstetrics does not feel comfortable treating you and the ER dr does not feel comfortable treating you. At this point the ER nurse said it will be at least 2 hours before you see a real doctor so if you can get to a different hospital, “I cant recommend it but…If you can get there sooner”…(shrug, motion toward doors with eyes). So we followed her recommendation and left –AMA. 

 As expected, on the way to Henry Mayo she went into labor. Nobody knew why other than the pain which was still unexplained. I got to the hospital after dropping the family home and making sure the boys were in bed and assured that everything would be fine. I hurried over to the emergency entrance sometime in the middle of the night 2 or 3 am, not really sure when. They took me straight to labor and delivery where there were 3 very competent nurses doing their thing all around Nickell. I could tell she was much more comfortable in this environment and the first thing I heard a nurse say was “I am going to get you something for the pain” tender mercies once again. The nurses were amazing, she was hooked up to monitors one for the baby, one for the uterine contractions which were small but coming every 3 minutes or so. I helped her breathe and focus during contractions, reassured her with each one when she was on the downhill that the worst was over and it would not get any worse until the next one. I don’t know if I was helpful or annoying but she didn’t kick me out so I kept on doing the doula thing. Reassuring, comforting, breathing, supporting, kicking Aaron when his snoring got too loud ☺. We were all exhausted and I was going to let him sleep, if even for a moment. 

Everyone seemed very calm. They allowed her to have some ice chips, we snuck a couple small sips of water when the nurse wasn’t looking. She was so thirsty. They filled her full of fluids and pain meds. Whats that? Its not working? Then lets try another one. Still not working? Try another one---Finally a little relief. Finally she slept. She moaned a little through contractions but the exhaustion had caught up with her and she rested for quite awhile. So did Aaron. I watched carefully. Watched both of them, knowing they had just buckled into a roller coaster ride that would not end anytime soon. Watched the monitor, knowing enough to know that late decelerations in the baby’s heart rate were not good. Watched the sun rise and wondered when we would have answers. And then the visit from Dr. Izu. 

He was very calming and reassured us that everything would be fine but he was worried about Max and thought that it would be best to deliver Max early. He didn’t really give us much choice. The conversation was never: option a option- b which do you choose. He turned to the nurse and told her to prep the patient, notify the NICU and bump the 2 other pre scheduled surgeries so that we could get in there right away. However, there was never a point where I felt panic from him. He was calm and very matter of fact. I appreciated that very much. It made everything that would follow much easier to deal with. 

I made a few phone calls though I only remember talking to Lloyd, “get here as fast as you can, this baby is going to need a blessing the minute he is born, they will transport him to another hospital and you have to be able to give him a blessing before he goes. Please hurry!” I called a family friend who is a Dr in the ER in case Lloyd would not make it in time. He was not in that morning. So we waited and prayed that someone would make it. Kelsey called Dan who showed up within 5 minutes. What a relief. At that moment, I knew Max would be ok, the power of the Priesthood was going to be at work. I held my breath while we waited to hear a cry or see some kind of indication that everything was ok. Finally they came rushing by with a very tiny, perfect, baby boy. He was SO tiny and SO perfect.
 The nurses in the NICU were not pleasant and would not allow the men in to administer the blessing so we stood outside and waited again. Waited to hear a cry, waited for the “singing” sound he was making to turn into strong breathing. We watched as they did compressions for a second time as the little bundle of perfection struggled to live, to breathe, to grow into the strong man we know he will be. Then the doctor came by. Once again he was calm, matter of fact and told us the only thing that was wrong with Max was that his lungs were immature. That’s a relief, they can fix that. He told the not so kind nurses that they should allow us to give him a blessing so they finally did. The stern one left the room, the other one stood quietly near the bedside with her head bowed in reverence and respect for something she did not understand but could no doubt feel. I took a few pictures if the massive hands on the tiny head. I sent the photo to the kids with a text that said something like this…This photo is not for Facebook or Instagram its just for you so that you will all know that the power of the Priesthood is at work and everything is going to be just fine. Please pray for this little guy. At some time shortly after the blessing we experienced something I will never forget. Another tender mercy of a loving Father in Heaven. 

The Northridge transport team showed up to take Max to the Northridge NICU because there was no room for him at Henry Mayo. They introduced themselves, this is Zully, she will be the nurse that is with Max during transport and when he arrives at Northridge. I instantly loved Zully and the whole team. They were kind, compassionate caring and treated ALL of us. Zully made everyone aware that they would absolutely not leave the hospital until Nickell was out of recovery and had a chance to hold her baby’s hand.

(This photo was taken at the NICU in the Northridge hospital. It's unfortunately one of the only ones we got of our angel nurse.)

“He is fine, he is stable and nothing is going to happen to him. We will wait” 
Tender mercies (the Henry Mayo team had been telling us we had better take lots of photos because Mom would not get to see him for a few days). 

This is when I finally broke down and the tears flowed. I’m not sure why, because I was happy, sad, scared, exhausted, drained or all of the above. I went to a quiet corner and cried until I was ready to be strong again then walked with the team down to Nickell’s room so that she could see her baby before he was taken 40 miles away, She held his hand and brushed his cheek, said her goodbye’s and I love you’s and get well soon’s and they took him away. 

She cried as he left, realizing that she would leave the hospital without a baby. Something a mother should NEVER have to experience. At least he was in good hands. At least he was going to the best NICU in the area. At least he had a blessing before he left. At least he wasn't going to be alone. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maxwell Edison Blair--Part 1

I guess now is as good a time as any to get this post finished. Today Max is one week old. Today I should be 34 weeks pregnant. That guy just thought it would be best to come meet us sooner than expected.

On December 26th, we started our drive to California. I was booked to shoot a wedding at the LA temple on December 28th. Aside from waking up to a blizzard, all of us having nasty colds, and not leaving quite when we wanted to that morning...the drive started just like any other. We took it a little slower, considering the snow. Plus there was quite a bit of holiday traffic.

About two hours into the drive, I started feeling worse. I figured it was just my cold. I had a headache and my body just ached all over. We started stopping pretty much every time we had the chance. Beaver, Cedar City, and so on. I started feeling worse, trying to sleep as much as I could. Still, I just thought it was a cold that was maybe actually turning out to be the flu. Or maybe I was just getting carsick? I didn't know, all I knew was I was miserable and I wanted to be in California already. I hate that drive.

In St. George, we thought about going to an insta-care. I called my Dr. to see what I could take to make my cold at least a little less annoying. The wait time at the insta-care was an hour and a half. No way. I wasn't going to put our drive off for that much longer. We kept driving, meanwhile I kept feeling worse and worse. 

We were almost to Baker and my stomach just couldn't handle it anymore. My chips and juice came back up. Little did I know that how I'd been feeling before was pleasant. Whilst losing my "lunch" I pulled the muscles in my neck. That was minor. I started having intense pain all through my abdomen, all through my back up to my neck on my right side. The pain was sharp, constant and pretty intense, but I could bare it. We were about three hours away. No big deal, the drive was almost over. Aaron gave me a blessing. I love him.

An hour passed and my brother, Brock called to see where we were. At the end of that phone call, I asked him to ask my dad to be ready to give me a blessing with Aaron when we got there. My pain had reached new levels.

We got to Victorville. Finally. We were so close. Only a little over an hour and we'd be there. We stopped to get gas and I suddenly decided to call my mom. As soon as I heard her voice, I started crying. It was like I was reverting back to childhood. I hurt and all I wanted was my mom and dad. I asked her what labor felt like. I'd never been in labor before. I didn't know what it felt like. I explained the pain I was feeling. Knowing my everyone that's met her knows her, I expected her to say, "you're almost here, stop being a baby. You'll be fine."

She didn't say that.

She told me, "get to a hospital."

That's when I started to panic. Lots of tears started at this point. I didn't want to go to the hospital, I never do. Who does really? In the back of my mind I thought it was just the worst gas pains to ever happen. Ever. In my mind, I'd get there and they'd roll their eyes at me and send me on my way. My mom said, "go to the hospital, we'll leave now and meet you there."

We googled Victorville hospitals. The Victor Valley Community Hospital was the first on the list. It was also the closest. We headed there and told my parents where to meet us.
Walking into the "hospital" made me sick. It was old, crowded, dark and dirty. But it was a hospital. I got in line. Before I even got to the front of the line, Aaron parked the car and made it inside with the boys.

He told them what I was feeling and they sent me straight back to ambulatory services. A little relief came over me. There weren't any chairs available in the ER. It was that crowded, I thought we'd be waiting forever.

We headed to ambulatory services where there people. Not a single person. Dr's, nurses, sick humans, no one. Aaron started yelling "hello?" Not a soul in sight. We headed to labor and delivery. There were a few nurses in there sitting around talking. I told them what was happening. Their hospitality was dismal at best. I explained my pain, and told them I was 33 weeks. They looked at me and one of them said, "ok let me take you to a bed." Then I heard her say to another nurse, "what do you think we should do?" 

I should have walked out the door at that point. 

They put me in a room, got me hooked up to monitors and the list of questions started. 

...I'm 26

..7th pregnancy

...two prior c-sections

....not allergic to any medications

....The list goes on and on. 

They stood around for a little bit. Meanwhile I'm still in pain. They don't seem bothered by it. I can feel them rolling their eyes at my cries. They decide to give me an IV because I was so dehydrated. Then they left the room. And we waited, and waited. When they came back in, they said they were going to do an ultrasound. They kept asking me to lay on my back which was excruciating. Then they'd give me attitude when I needed a minute to roll over. The nurse yelled at me for moving when I was getting my IV put in. I was moving because I've never had such a hack job while getting an IV. She tried again in the other hand. I was like a freaking statue. She still screwed it up. 


Another nurse came in, she was a lot nicer but still...they hate patients. I'm sure of it. Heaven forbid something interrupt their gossip time. 

My parents, Brock and Becca finally arrived, which means we'd been there for a while. This also meant I didn't have to wait alone anymore. (No kids were allowed in labor and delivery so Aaron had been in the waiting area this whole time.) My dad and Aaron gave me a blessing. The Priesthood is incredible. 

The ultrasound tech was an angel. Seriously. I wish she could have been the nurse. She was calming and kind and compassionate. I needed her. I was grateful she was there. So grateful, I may have dosed off for just a second while she was in the room. 

After she left, we waited. For. A. Long. Time. The nurses finally came back in and told me that the OB doctor on call wasn't comfortable treating my pain so they were going to send me to the ER for that. WHAT?

What IS this place? 

However, I had to wait for one of their beds to become available and then they would take me down there. We waited, again. Forever. 

Finally they took me down to the ER, to SIT IN A CHAIR. I was livid, but in too much pain to do anything about it. My dad took the boys to get dinner. Finally they would eat dinner. At eh, about 1:30 in the morning. Ugh. Mom of the year? Sure.

I sat in that chair and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally we asked someone what the hold up was. They were waiting for a bed in the "other ER". I'm not sure what that means, the only thing I could think of was that we were in the overflow of the ER. I saw patient after patient come in and leave, having been taken care of. We asked again.

Still waiting for an empty bed. 

We asked if they could at least give me something for my pain. They responded with, "we can only give her tylenol, because she's pregnant." 

I had that in my car. (Side-note: I know they have to be more careful due to the rise in drug seekers. But come on, Tylenol?)

They wouldn't even give me water. "Just in case." Even with having the IV for a few hours,  I was still so thirsty. Keep in mind, my nose had been stuffy and I'd been breathing only through my mouth, for hours. Finally someone brought me ice chips. Seriously, nurses and doctors just kept walking back in forth in front of me like I wasn't even there. 

This is when my "too nice to strangers" Dad started getting snippy. Demanding someone do something. Then ultimately deciding we need to go to a different hospital. 

That got their attention. They "advised against it." They thought we should keep waiting, for I don't know,  a few more hours? We'd already been there 5 hours, with nothing done but a poorly placed IV. My pain was worse, my exhaustion was at new levels of worse. The patience of my husband and my parents was absolutely diminished. After a bit of arguing between my three spokespeople and the nurses and PA, we decided we were leaving. I had to sign a few papers saying I was refusing treatment (if that's what you want to call it.) and leaving against advisement. 

We walked out. And I will never, ever return. Ever. 

My parents took our boys and our ever-so patient puppy and headed to their house, meanwhile, Aaron and I got in our car and he hauled tail to Henry Mayo Hospital. This hospital is minutes from my parents house, which means it's over an hour from where we were. 

He may have doubled the speed limit at times. And by maybe, I mean definitely. I felt horrible for him. I really did. He was exhausted from driving all day and he was doing his best to stay awake. He stayed awake, like a champ. We made it in 45 minutes. 

We got there sometime around 4? I'm not really sure. I tried sleeping most of the way, and luckily was pretty successful at doing so. Tender mercies. 

Sometime between leaving VVCH and getting to Henry Mayo, contractions started. I was in labor. This only intensified the pain I was already feeling, about every 5 minutes. When we got to Henry Mayo, I walked into the ER and wanted to cry. It was clean, bright and empty. I was helped immediately. They put me in a wheelchair and took me straight to labor and delivery, where I was immediately put into a bed. The nurses, were amazing. I was nervous. All I'd ever heard of Henry Mayo was negative. I wanted my hospital, my dr. What I'd heard was wrong. At least now. Everyone was amazing. 

The slew of questions started. I answered as best I could. My mind was giving up on me. I couldn't focus. Words were not coming to me. Aaron helped. He's the best. They handed him paperwork to fill out. Then, my ears heard the most glorious thing. 

"Let's get her something for the pain."


After questioning the IV work from the previous hospital, they gave me another IV. They started fluids to get me hydrated because there was still a lack of that in my body. We told them the whole story of how I was ending up there. We boosted their egos, I'm sure. They deserved it.

The gave me something for pain. My insides felt like velvet. I fell asleep almost instantly. Fading in and out to answer questions being asked as best as I could. They woke me up, around 8. I was still in pain but nothing like I had felt before. I met him.  Dr. Izu. He very calmly talked to me about what was going on. Most of which I don't remember. I was pretty out of it. Something along the lines of, you're in labor, you're in pain, we don't know why. The baby's heart rate keeps dropping, we don't know why. Your white count was high on your blood work...we don't know why. Then, the words came out. The words I'd been dreading and hoping for all at once, mostly dreading. "You're going to have your baby today." 

Nope, this isn't happening. I have a wedding tomorrow. I can't have my baby today. My mom told me not to worry about it. Aaron sent a message to Cherie Starke to see if she could cover it for me today. That has been my worst nightmare since I started this business. Missing a wedding. I have literally had nightmares about it. Luckily, another mercy. Cherie was able to move her schedule around and shoot the wedding. I still stressed over it. I felt and still feel horrible about missing it. But I'm SO grateful to Cherie!

I was about to have a baby. I was terrified. He wasn't supposed to be here yet. I was only 33 weeks. It was too soon. He still needed to bake some more. I was trying my hardest to put all my faith in the doctor. 

I wasn't prepared. Emotionally, physically, mentally. ( I still don't think I've wrapped my head around it all.)

Because he was so early, he'd have to go to the NICU. I wasn't surprised by that. However, the NICU at Henry Mayo was full. He'd have to go to Northridge, 40 minutes away. A minor annoyance but if he was being taken care of, I didn't care. I just wanted him to be ok. All the papers were signed, the procedure was explained. We were fully informed of everything. 

They prepped me for the c-section. 

9:32 am, over 24 hours after we had started our drive to CA, Maxwell Edison Blair was born. 7 weeks premature.

He didn't cry right away. He was completely unresponsive. Those were the longest moments of my life. I just kept saying "cry, cry, cry!" I could hear the doctors that were working on him. They kept saying, "come on buddy, come on!" Aaron was recording it. Watching it afterwards....I'm glad I couldn't see what was happening. They were doing chest compressions, rubbing his legs, putting an oxygen mask on him...trying everything they could to get him to be responsive and breathe on his own. Finally, those first few squeaks came out. Tears flowed. Those cries were the best sound in the whole world.

They kept working on him to get him stable. They took his measurements. 4lbs 2 oz. Tiny. 17 inches long. They let Aaron cut the umbilical cord. That was his first time. He then came over to check on me. I told him I wanted him to go with Max to Northridge. I didn't want Max to be alone. He kissed me on the forehead and assured me everything would be ok. They brought Max over to see me for a minute. Aaron had to fight for it. I'm glad he did. I love him. I rested my face against Max's for a split second. I saw his beautiful, tiny face and they whisked him away. I tried my hardest to be strong. My doctor was amazing. He started a conversation with me, to keep my mind off of everything while he stitched me back up. I learned that he went to school in Provo. Hm. Small world. I learned that I had an infection in the placenta and that's what was causing all the issues. I also learned that I shouldn't have anymore children of my own. My uterus is so thin, it kept tearing when he was sewing me back up. I put that in the back of my mind. It was too much for one day.

Meanwhile, they took Max. Aaron was with him. And I felt better. My pains were gone.

 They cleaned him off, and stabilized him for transport to Northridge. My dad and Aaron were once again able to give a blessing. This time to the tiniest recipient. I can't express my gratitude for the Priesthood holders I have in my life. I am so lucky and grateful to have these two incredible men in my life! The spirit was so strong throughout this whole situation.
We had so much family around that day. They were a huge blessing. Brandon and Jeanessa headed to Santa Clarita as soon as they found out what was happening. Daniel, Kelsey and my parents were at the hospital with us too. I didn't get to see any of them at the time but their being there meant the world to me. I needed a support system more than ever that day.
Aaron spent a few moments with Max, soaking in every second he could before Max was transported. 

I wasn't there, but I was told, the nurse that was part of the transport team was adamant that they wait there until I was out of recovery so I could see my baby boy. 

This was a surprise to me. The happiest part of my day. 
 I held his tiny hand and told him I loved him. The transport team waited patiently for me. I just wanted to hold him. His tiny body looked so fragile in that incubator. I just wanted to wrap him up and hold him. But I couldn't. That's a feeling I can't describe. 
And then they took him. I knew he was in good hands and needed to go. But that didn't stop the tears. My mom stayed with me. Thank goodness. The last thing I needed was to be alone.

To be continued....

Aaron and my mom will be writing their points of view as well. Lots more to come! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Christmas Festivities

This blog has been haunting me the past few days. I can't stop thinking about everything I need to post before I can post Max's birth story. I really don't want to forget the details of the birth story so I'm combining and condensing ALL of our Christmas fun into one, really, really long post. Enjoy.

Before Aaron left for Texas to start his new job, we wanted to make sure and get our Christmas tree. After a little looking at one lot, we finally found the perfect tree and brought it home. 
The boys had lots of fun picking out the tree. 
 As tradition goes in our house, we watched Christmas movies and ate pizza whilst we decorated!
We love having our tree in the room we spend most of our time. It makes a big difference to feeling the Christmas spirit. Plus it's just fun to look at. 

The day before Aaron came home for Christmas, Kade's school had their Christmas program. It would have been much easier to watch without having to chase Tadd as well...but it was pretty cute to see him with all his class mates, singing Christmas songs. He took it very seriously.

That same day, the following photos were taken. We had just had a beautiful snow storm that left our surrounding area a winter wonderland. 

Once Aaron was finally home, we were able to do a lot more of the Christmas-y stuff. We started the weekend out with going to see the zoo lights with Cameron and Serena. It's a fun thing we have done every year. It will definitely be missed. 
We were keeping our faces warm.

On the Saturday before Christmas, I had my last photo shoot of 2012 in Utah. After the shoot, we packed up the family and headed to the Shops at Riverwoods for dinner and Santa. 
This is Tadd saying "Ho, ho, ho!"

The Riverwoods Santa is the BEST Santa. You aren't rushed through a line, he's in a quaint little house with a fireplace and Christmas tree, he looks legitimate AND (this is my favorite) you're allowed to take your own photos. 
 Tadd wasn't sure about Santa up close. Aaron had to hold him.
Waving goodbye to Santa.

Most of Christmas Eve was spent, just like any other day. In the late afternoon, Kade and I started making the cookies for Santa. 
 (Some of these photos are from when we were decorating cookies the first time this season, while skyping with Aaron.)
That evening, after our little family feast of sparkling cider, ham, potatoes and veggies we opened our traditional one gift. As always it was pajamas. The boys changed and then we opened our second to last book. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We talked a little about the meaning of Christmas and headed to bed. 

The next morning we woke up to see what Santa had brought. We have really awesome kids too. Tadd didn't wake up until 9:30 and we gave in and woke Kade up at almost 10. It was a perfect way to start Christmas morning! 
The boys were so excited to get downstairs!
Once again the boys were spoiled rotten. We feel so blessed this year!

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