29 July 2008

Unpleasantries of Country Life

Now, I gave a pretty nice picture of what life in the country was like in my last blog. And, while Dave and I are adjusting to this very different lifestyle, it is not all fun and games up here. This morning I was awoken at 3:00 a.m. because I heard Annabelle growling. I turn and I see her in the corner and Audrey is right by the bed. I figured Annabelle had a toy she didn't want to share. So I tell her to just let it go and be quiet. She continues. I turn on the bedside lamp. Not three feet from the bed is Annabelle with a mouse. The LIVING kind! I freaked, woke Dave up, and we put two more cats in the bedroom to "finish the job." (Annabelle didn't quite get it done.) Just before death, Dave got the mouse and brought him outside to the outdoor cats for a treat.

Yes, outdoor cats. Have I mentioned that in addition to the seven we now have living in the house we HAD two more on the back porch. And then when I came home from grocery shopping this afternoon there was ANOTHER one! And so, that brings our cat count to TEN!

Also, our neighbors have been out of town for several weeks to attend to her dying father. Last night their house was broken into. Dave discovered it on his way into work this morning. The door was shoved open, dead bolt and all, the frame busted. They lost a game system and games, a guitar, and a jewelry box of stuff. Turns out that the "neighbors" across the street from them have been broken into several times over the last year! (I say "neighbors" because you can't actually see the house.) And so, here we sit rodent infested, under threat of burglary and surrounded by cats!

And now the sherriff has just pulled up! (I am sure to inquire about the burglary next door.) So, I guess I gotta go!

24 July 2008

Country Life

For many of you reading this you probably don't know what life in the country is really like. Consider our blog an opportunity to learn. First, you have to travel to go anywhere. This is certainly a cause of stress when the gas prices are as high as they are. The benefit of this, however, is that whenever you return home it really is like taking a retreat from the rest of the world. Living in the country often means owning lots of land and, while caring for land is very time consuming and demanding, when virtually none of our 'tended fields' are visible from the road we find that it's okay to mow only once a week or week and a half. We also have animals everywhere. Good thing (I think!) that Dave and I are such animal lovers, because we are surrounded by mice, cats, raccoons, deer, turkey, geese, fox, turtles, hawks, frogs, INSECTS, and yes, we are known to have the occasional black bear roam around here (although we have not yet had one). This, of course, is only the icing on the cake for wildlife.

People who say living in the country is peaceful have obviously never lived out here. This is a brutal place! Between watching mice being mulled and gazing at the circling hawk eyeing the goslings on the land below, to the incredible amount of noise that frogs and insects make during the night, this place is an active and often violent place to live! Of course, we rarely hear sirens and traffic noise is at an absolute bare minimum. I no longer hear Nextel noises at 2:00 a.m. or the neighbors getting into quite the argument in the middle of the night. We no longer have a loud party with tons of smoke going on in our basement, and when I look out my window I see trees and not the arches of McDonald's. At night I see stars and not smog, and during the day I am attacked by insects and not beggars.

And our neighbors are no longer often annoying students but this family of deer:
Yes, life "out here" is quite different!

And, for all of you readers who are constantly asking for more pregnancy pics, here you go! This is another "natural shot" of me: Straight from the shower, no makeup, etc. (It seems country appropriate, don't you think?) I am beginning to get uncomfortably large. I can't really bend over at all anymore, my back aches, and getting out of certain chairs or off from the floor often requires the assistance of my husband. I also have begun to tire easily. On the whole, however, I have been so blessed this pregnancy. My aches and pains are manageable and for the most part it has been a positive experience. The pregnancy itself has been great and for this I am so very thankful.

22 July 2008

Our Pediatrician

Well, we have a pediatrician! This is a man and his partner who came highly recommended from one of Dave's coworkers. Their office is in Grandville, so it is 45 minutes from us, but we would rather feel very comfortable with our daughter's doctor and travel a ways than go to someone a little closer but not feel as comfortable with him/her. Besides, no matter where we find a doctor, we would be traveling a good 25 minutes anyway, so what's another 20 minutes on the road?

I talked with the pediatrician on the phone this afternoon after he spoke with my doctor at Maternal Fetal Medicine. The doctors decided that because they see three complications involving our daughter: VHL, Kidneys, and potential Heart, they strongly encouraged me to deliver at Spectrum. They feel this is the safest and best environment for an infant with already known problems to be born. While disappointed, Dave and I, of course, agree. And so, our daughter will be born at Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids with a doctor from MFM as the attending physician.

I have included two pictures from last week's scan. She is getting so large that it is harder to see the pictures, as she fills up so much of the screen. Her foot was already almost two inches long! The other shot is another head and chest shot. Make out what you can!

And, for all of you wondering, we are registered at Babies 'R' Us and Target. I finally got around to doing that last week, so now no one needs to ask me about it anymore! :-)

18 July 2008

Our Last Maternal Fetal Medicine Visit

Yesterday we had another growth and anatomy scan at Maternal Fetal Medicine. Our little girl is already 2 pounds 1 once! Her heart is looking good at this point, which leads us to believe that at her echocardiogram in a couple of weeks any heart abnormality that may be found will be a rather minor one.

We did, however, learn that her kidneys are enlarged. The doctor asked if Dave had any kidney cysts. He does. The doctor said that while it is too early to see for certain, he is thinking there may be cysts in our daughter's kidneys. This is a serious complication, but we do not know yet how serious this may be. The doctor asked where we were planning to deliver. We told him Holland and while he did not come right out and tell us "no," he did mention the following:

1. We needed to find a pediatrician right away-- and one that will be able to care for both her kidneys and VHL.
2. Only after talking with the pediatrician and learning what kind of care our daughter will need immediately after birth, whether inpatient or outpatient, will my doctor be able to say whether a delivery in Holland would be okay or if we need to be at Spectrum.
3. Futher scans and monitoring are needed.

I will be a patient at Maternal Fetal Medicine for the duration of this pregnancy and most likely for any future pregnancy. At the echocardiogram they will do another scan of her kidneys. After this we will be returning every couple of weeks for further kidney scans. Hopefully these scans will reveal with greater clarity what exactly is happening with our daughter's organs. And, finally, and maybe the currently most distressing news for me is that our daughter will need immediate postnatal care. We only hope that her kidney problem will be minor enough so that she can be an outpatient and we can enjoy life as a family of three (humans, that is!) without the stress of having our infant in neonatal.

And so, your continued prayers, support, kind words, and warm thoughts are greatly appreciated and very much needed. Thank you. We have hope that the coming weeks will reveal a situation not nearly as serious as what the doctors may be currently expecting. We have hope that our baby girl will be born healthy and will come home at the same time with mom.

We can't wait to meet her and to have all of you meet her as well.

13 July 2008

25 Weeks

Yesterday I hosted a bridal shower for my sister, so I got all dressed up and made myself as pretty as I could (given my condition!). Then it dawned on us that yesterday was exactly 25 weeks into the pregnancy! Wow! Only one more week in the second trimester. In only twelve more weeks I would be delivering full-term (37 weeks and beyond is considered full-term). In some ways I feel like I have been pregnant forever already, but in so many other ways it is simply hard to believe how quickly time has flown by. If you have been reading for a while my very first post has a picture of me in this same outfit. I was, I think, just shy of 16 weeks at the time. My, how I (and the baby) have grown!

And, my sister looked lovely!

11 July 2008

Veterinarian Tales

We took the newest members of our cat family to the vet on Wednesday evening. They are both healthy. Just fleas and one has an eye infection that we are now treating. The vet was also so thankful that we are willing to provide homes to all these animals that he is giving us some really great deals on treatments and procedures. (There is a HUGE cat crisis right now, and all the area shelters have "Cat Alert: We Need Homes" posted on their websites.) Their names (now that we have been able to take a real peak at their "privates") are Olivia (the tabby) and Orva (the grey). They are staying in the baby's room right now while they get "de-flead" and until Orva's eye infection clears up. They are very happy:

The other black members of our family are very happy too:

[There is supposed to be a cute picture of the four of them on the couch here, but it won't upload.]

Alex is a little more stand-offish:

[There is supposed to be a picture of Alex sitting all alone here, but it won't upload.]

While we were visiting the doctor, the assistant asked us if we were married yet. Dave and I kind of got this puzzled look and said, "Yes." She said, "Oh, so I can change your status from boyfriend, then? And (looking at me) change your name?" I told her that we had been married nearly four years and that I just never changed my last name.

The vet then said, "We had been wondering about you two. I noticed that you (me) were wearing a ring but then I saw that he wasn't. So, I wasn't sure what the story was."

Dave explained that he had taken his ring off after getting home from work (something he does quite frequently). And then I laughed pretty hard and revealed that the ring I was wearing was a cheap cubic zirconia, because my hands are now too swollen to wear my actual wedding band.

We all had a pretty good laugh, and I thought it interesting that the doctor's office would take such an interest in our personal lives. Of course, we are there so often that I suppose it is not too surprising!

04 July 2008

Cat Crisis!

Okay, so most of you know that Dave and I are professed animal lovers. I often think about the fact that I should have gone to school for one of three things: Forensic pathology, electrical engineering or vetrinarian. Perhaps one day I will pursue one of these careers, but for the time being I am as close to being the last one as I can be with no schooling. Last week we took Annabelle into our home:
This past Wednesday our neighbors (and very close friends) showed up with a seven week old black kitten. We named her Endora and took her to the vet Thursday morning. We had no intention of keeping her as we simply cannot afford this many animals, so I mentioned this to the vet. He said, "We have six staying here we can't get rid of and the bulletin board is full of additional kittens who need homes, but you are welcome to leave a flier on the board." Endora is healthy and adorable:
Then early yesterday evening Dave and I walked down to get the mail. On our walk back we heard kittens crying. Three very hungry and lonely kittens had been abandoned. Two followed us back and are living on our back porch. We would love to take them into the house for the time being but without knowing what diseases they may carry we can't let them mix with our other cats. They are probably about ten to twelve weeks old and really seem to want to be indoor cats. They are extremely friendly and oh so beautiful:

So, have you been keeping count? We now have SEVEN cats on the premises! At this point we think we need to keep Endora. She fits in so well with the others in our family, and we stand little chance of getting rid of two much less three. Please understand, if we could afford to spay/neuter/vaccinate all of them we would keep all seven. The food is affordable and the annual examinations aren't so pricey, but that initial care is just far beyond our means. And so . . . All of you reading have only three options:

1. You need to take BOTH of the kittens from the back porch. (We think they may need to be adopted together. And you would have to promise to not declaw. We are completely against declawing out of "human convenience" when it is a damaging and painful and unnecessary procedure for the cats.)

2. If you cannot take the two then you must find another "forever home" for them.

3. Donate cat food or money for spaying/neutering/vaccinating.

You think I'm kidding? I'm not. We are in a serious cat crisis!!!

Small, Medium & Large!

02 July 2008

Celebrating Life

I wanted to say "thanks" to the many people who have offered us their prayers, kind words, warm thoughts and wishes this past week. It has been truly marvelous to know that not only are Dave and I loved but that there are people who already love our daughter as well. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

In general, the discovery has resulted in a small grieving process-- as any permanent life altering knowledge will. Fortunately, Dave and I recognize this and are moving together through all the strange emotions that grief brings and will continue to do so over the years. Please know that we are well and as overjoyed as ever over the growing life (inside of me!) that is our daughter.

And to help share the joy I have included several shots from around our house/yard. From the baby birds in the bush next to our house, to Annabelle, to the gorgeous wildflowers that sprout nonstop, this is a post celebarting life.