Sunday, June 9, 2013

That One Time My Gallbladder Tried To Kill Me

We had such a great trip up to Washington and it was so hard for all of us to come home! We flew in on Monday night and on Tuesday I was planning on being back at work so that I could direct my choir in a festival on Tuesday night. We sang at the festival and although I was sore and tired it all went really well until the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

I woke up to my little man trying to eat his hands and decided I should probably sit up and try to feed him. Its really difficult to describe the pain I got hit with but it started with feeling like I was getting really horrible hunger pains. It was so intense I put Dallas down and went into the kitchen and scarfed down some crackers. That seemed to help for 60 seconds and then it just started radiating to my ribs and up to my back. I woke up Jona cause I couldn't hold Dallas any longer and just spent the next 45 minutes writhing in pain. I had no earthly clue what was wrong. I finally jumped in the shower to try to get some relief and it started going away. I've had kidney stones before but this was totally different. The only thing we could come up with was my gallbladder so I texted my mom (she had hers out right after giving birth to Steph) and asked her about some of my symptoms. Sure enough, it sounded just like gallstones.

I had a couple more attacks and finally called my doctor and he sent me in to get an ultrasound on my gallbladder and kidneys. They called me a couple days later and said my gallbladder was filled with stones and that I needed to get it out. I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon to see if I could wait a few weeks so that I could finish recovering from Dallas's c-section and finish out the couple of responsibilities I had at SCCS. Of course the Lord has better plans than I...

I went to bed on Mother's Day and woke up in the middle of the night with an attack. This one was different and far more painful. I tried to tough it out for a couple of hours and finally I just told Jona that I needed to go into the ER for stronger pain meds. We didn't want to try to pack up our sleeping kids and Jona's parents were out of the country so we decided I would drive myself to the ER. I drove like a crazy woman and bawled my eyes out the whole way. I stumbled into Henry Mayo and thank the Lord, they quickly got me into a bed, got an IV started and sent the doctor into see me with some pain meds. She ordered another ultrasound on my gallbladder and then I sat and waited for about 8 hours. Poor Jona tried to juggle the kids for a little while then our sweet friends, the Gwinns took Penny for us and Jona came to the hospital with Dallas so that I could finally feed him.

I asked about 30 times for a pump and for the doctor to come back in to see me and finally she came in and said, "so your gallbladder is incredibly infected and possibly gangrened so we have to admit you". In hindsight I wish I would have packed up and gone to where I delivered the kids, but I didn't want to have to start the ER process all over again so we let them admit me. It was pretty stressful trying to cancel everything and make sure our arrangements were made for Pen but God clearly wanted me to rest and to get this taken care of on this time table. They decided to put me on antibiotics for 24 hours then schedule surgery the day after that.

They went through great lengths to make sure that Jona and Dallas could stay with me (giving us our own room, an isolation room, gave me a pump and access to the maternity ward fridge). But then in the middle of the night a nursing supervisor came in and chewed us out for not following hospital policy after we had apparently been told repeatedly that we needed to take Dallas home. It was so confusing because she had so much wrong information and of course we would have sent Jona and Dallas home if anyone had even indicated that we needed to but oh well. Poor Jona had to pack up all the stuff and leave with Dallas at 2:30am. It really was a bummer that it happened because it ended up destroying my milk supply which I still haven't been able to fully get back.

I was scheduled for surgery at 2pm and I was so so nervous. The morning of surgery out air conditioning broke at home and so Jona had to be there for the repair guys to come. Unfortunately we were told that we needed to completely replace the entire thing. When it rains it pours!! Things would have gotten a little comical had it not been for the price of a new unit! :-/ Jona dropped Dallas off at my sweet friend, Caitie's house (who has a toddler and a newborn of her own!) and tried to make it to the hospital to be there before my surgery. He got stuck in traffic due to a poorly timed (and planned) bike race and missed the whole thing.

I went into surgery and didn't get to see Jona till several hours later but we were finally on the way up! I was really surprised by the pain associated with the recovery cause I had read that it was such an easy surgery. I would have gladly taken a c-section (without the back stabs) over gallbladder surgery any day! It was just a weird recovery but I think that was because of the infection and because of the fact that I still wasn't recovered from the c-section. We stayed in the hospital for 2 more days and my awesome inlaws came home and were able to help take care of the kids.

I am so thankful that God knows what is best and that he times all things perfectly. Jona was absolutely incredible and I am so thankful that he serves our little family like he does. It was so humbling that we were cared for and prayed for like we were. There are so many big and important things happening in other's lives and my dumb gallbladder is way WAY down on the list, yet people came and visited and prayed for us and took care of our kids. We are SO SO grateful!! I'm also very thankful that I only have one gallbladder so that I never have to go through that again! :)

Got to spend the first day hanging out with this little cutie

This was right after my surgery,  I was so very thankful to hold my babies

Jona and I got to have a couple of date nights in the hospital. I adore that man!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dad's 20th Anniversary @ GBC

Sometime around December I started getting some phone calls from an elder in my church from back home. This year was my family's 20th anniversary at Grace Bible Church. Its kinda hard to believe we moved to Washington when I was 8! The elders asked us to come and be a part of a special celebration honoring my dad's faithfulness to the ministry.

The timing was a little tricky. I was too pregnant to go on the actual date of the anniversary so we agreed to go at the end of April. We thought that Dallas would be born a few weeks earlier than he was so it gave us only two and a half weeks before we needed to fly up there. We drove to WA two weeks after Pen was born and it was really hard, this time wasn't quite as bad. I actually felt pretty good after this c-section and with the blessing from both my OB and Dallas's pediatritian we flew up there. It was actually a pretty awesome experience because they wheeled me from the ticket desk straight through security and to our gate. I got an entire row to myself with Dallas who was quiet and slept the entire time. I think it was probably my most relaxing flight in three years!

We got to my parent's house and my mom's reaction was absolutely hilarious. We laughed at this video of my mom squeaking probably about 50 times. Her voice gets so high its unreal!

Our time was really so sweet with the family and my grandparents were even up there for a couple of days too so that was an added bonus to be able to introduce them to Dallas.

The church went all out in honoring mom and dad and I cried my eyes out as the church recounted the goodness of God in bringing my parents to GBC. I know I talk about it too much but that church split really changed us as a family and as a church. God took something that was so ugly and devastating and turned it into something so incredibly beautiful. I am so thankful for that time of growth and that anniversary service just reiterated God's goodness in all of that.

Me and my siblings were given an opportunity to each share about my parents and how the church has blessed us these last 20 years. This is basically what I said...

I tried to convince my siblings that we should do each do a letter of an acronym for my dads name but I only got as far as "oval faced" for "o" so my idea got vetoed.
Seriously though, it's not difficult to come up with things to say about my sweet Papa.
It wasn't until I was in college that it occurred to me that there were kids out there who were ashamed of their parents. I thought my dad was the coolest guy I knew. I was always in awe of the wisdom and discernment God had given my dad and I would hear my peers talk about issues with their parents and I would beg them to go talk to my dad knowing that they would love him and that he would be able to fix what ever their issue was.
I thought my dad was hilarious and I would have rather spent time with him than anyone else.
My dad wasn't lying this morning when he said that our family was real. My dad has set us up to be a family where iron sharpens iron. Let me tell you, there are times when it has totally stunk, and we have all had to learn that we can be quick to correct but slow to show compassion. But when I look at the instruments God has used to enable me to grow I see the lessons my dad has taught me woven so deeply throughout my life. He has pushed me to be excellent, he has pushed me to find my sufficiency in Christ. He has tried to show me what it is to be balanced, and faithful and to put God first, family second and ministry third. My dad has never been lazy with his children, and has never been lazy with his church, he has pushed us to be excellent, to seek the cross and to love Christ.
The beauty of becoming an adult is the transformation from a child to a friend. I have been able to watch my dad age with grace and to grow in humility. He loves his children and he loves this congregation.
My mom, is precious and godly and loves this church and these people, but more so she loves the word and I know she has given so much to this church simply because of her love of the word.
There is no better way to show love to us kids than to love our parents. You have freed my mom up to love her husband and to serve our family and you have encouraged Dad to preach the word through your prayer and support of his ministry. Thank you for loving our parents, it means the world to us.
I came across this quote by John MacArthur about men who faithfully preach the word and I think it perfectly describes my sweet Papa...
"Excellent servants of the Lord aren’t hindered, swayed, or overwhelmed by difficult circumstances—they faithfully press on with their focus fixed on their heavenly reward."

Here are some random pictures of our trip...

My beautiful sister Steph

Dallas and Uncle David

Penny played with bubbles for hours on Oma's deck


Pen is so in love with Aunt Bird!

Scott Frankfurt sharing about my dad's faithfulness in their friendship

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Staph Is The Worst!!!

Sooo... after Dallas was born and we had come home from the hospital life started to get a little crazy. I noticed in the middle of the night that Dallas had a blister on the inside of his mouth. I thought it was weird but I figured that it must be totally common as he and I were trying to figure out this whole nursing thing. I called the pediatricians office the next day to ask them about it and to see if I should let him take a little break from nursing to let it heal. I was surprised to learn that they were kinda concerned about it. They asked me if I could drive to Glendale to see them. I thought they were just being overly cautious so I declined and said I would keep an eye on it and if it lasted longer than a couple days then I would just come in. They even called me back that day to check on it and I told them nothing was worse and that I thought he was fine.

Fast forward to the next weekend when Pen told me one night that her tummy hurt. I thought she was just trying to come up with an excuse to not go to bed but the next morning I noticed that her tummy was really red and had started to form blisters. I completely freaked out. We were set to fly up to Washington to surprise my parents for the 20th anniversary of being at Grace Bible Church in Marysville, so I decided to send Jona in with Pen to Urgent Care. I was absolutely certain it was chicken pox even though she had received the vaccination. They got home and Jona said that she had a staph infection. I had only heard of staph from when Rosie O'Donnell got it from a nail salon haha, so I had no idea what it was and the more I researched the more I was nervous.

I started to read that staph manifests itself in newborns in blisters and also in whats called "scaling skin" syndrome and all of the sudden it hit me that Dallas had it too. He had a bad diaper rash and his little skin was peeling and he was totally raw. I immediately called my pediatrician and they had us come in first thing the next morning. They confirmed that both kids had staph and that Dallas had most likely gotten it first from the hospital. Dallas had a really easy mild case but Pen's was a bit worse. Since hers was a little more widespread they tested hers and put her on a really strong antibiotic just in case it was the MRSA strain (which it ended up not being). They told us that after 24 hours she would only be contagious if you someone came in contact with an open sore so we bandaged her up like crazy and started the antibiotic. They told us we were good to go on our trip but we were pretty nervous.

Our trip was great (more on that later), but daily I was calling into the pediatrician because I was seeing all of these blotches show up on Penny's little body. It was like these weird skin dye rashes just kept coming up. I kept describing it to them and they had no idea what was happening and just told us to come in when we got home. The weird thing about it was that they kept saying that if it was staph then Penny would be feverish and not feel well and she wouldn't have much of an appetite. Penny was the exact opposite. She was having the time of her life and didn't act or look sick for a second.

I know I'm dragging this out forever but we finally got home and took her into the doctor's office immediately. The doctor said that both kid's staph infections were completely gone but she didn't know what was going on with Penny. She said she needed to leave the room to think about it. Jona and I were kinda freaking out after she was gone for 20 minutes! She finally came back and told us that Penny had an adverse reaction to the antibiotic and that it had dyed her skin. The major bummer was that her skin would probably be dyed like that for the rest of her life. We were so relieved but as I thought about it more it really made me so sad that this would always be on Pen's body. When she gets hot or tan it shows up much stronger but really isn't horrible. We are also SO thankful that its not on her face!

I realize this is probably WAY more than anyone wants to read about our family's encounter with staph but it was seriously so traumatic and I am SO thankful that it is over!!

The "dye" on her arm

The "dye" on her leg

Look how absolutely darling she is!!!

Meeting Dallas Part 2

It is 100% true that this love comes instantly and completely! I heard my little boy's cries and thought my heart would explode! Even when they brought him over to me all yucky and gross all I could see was how beautiful and perfect he was.

They kept telling me the entire pregnancy that he could be well into 9lbs if not 10! I was expecting to have this really big chubby little man but instead I had a perfect little 7lbs 12oz, 20.5 inches tall. He only cried for a second then I drifted off in and out of consciousness as they wheeled me into recovery. I don't remember it but apparently Dr. Frields told the nurses to do whatever it takes to get me into a private room, which was so kind of him. I think he may have felt kinda bad about the whole back dart game. :)

I was so enamored with little Dallas. He barely cried the entire time and was just so soft and snuggly. I was shocked to discover that feeding came really easily especially since I couldn't breastfeed Penny at all. We had a really bad experience with the nurses during Pen's birth but this time the nurses were amazing. We even had a nurse who took two nights during her shift and patiently taught me how to breastfeed. I am so thankful for her!

Even though the initial c-section wasn't the best experience our hospital stay was really great. I barely slept at all but that was only because of this adrenaline high I got from holding and kissing my new little boy. I can't believe I love a little boy this much!! He slept perfectly through the night pretty much our entire stay he was just so perfect!

The only really difficult thing was not being able to see Pen. I had envisioned her walking into the hospital room and getting to hold and kiss her new little brother. The good thing about it though was that Dr. Frields told me that once I was able to get out of bed I would be allowed to go out to the waiting room and see Pen even though I couldn't bring Dallas with me. That was really such a blessing to be able to kiss my little girl half way through our stay.

I have to take this opportunity to say how absolutely incredible my in-laws are. I know that they were so excited to meet and hold Dallas, and they got to briefly but my mother in law really devoted her energy into making sure that Penny was happy and distracted and didn't miss us too much. It blows my mind how my in-laws serve us so tirelessly!! The only time Penny really broke down was Sunday after church and I think that was because everyone kept asking her if she had gotten to hold her new little brother and I think it just really overwhelmed her and made her realize that she hadn't been allowed to see us. Thankfully we got to come home the next day.

It is absolutely amazing that God can double and triple a mom's love for her babies. I am so thankful that God gave us this new little man to love and I am still in the stage where I am so excited he's here and in our family! Here are some pics from the rest of our hospital stay...

Getting to hold my son for the first time!
Me and my boys. Just missing my precious Penelope

Dallas and his Oma and Papa

The most amazing, perfect little boy, Dallas Phillip Johnson

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Meeting Dallas Part 1

Before I start this post, I should say I'm always a little hesitant with reading or writing birth stories (not that I've had that many opportunities to write them...). I hope this isn't too boring or in way too much detail. Also, remember that if you're pregnant there are always things that aren't that fun but I promise with my whole heart, it is most certainly worth it!!

We got to the hospital bright and early on April 5th and I was so nervous! They sent me in the bathroom to change into a gown and when I went in there I realized that I hadn't really taken a picture of my belly the entire pregnancy. I know some day I may regret that but when you feel larger than a whale its not really your first priority :)
So as you can see in this picture I very awkwardly took a picture of myself in the bathroom. Haha, I'm such a loser.

I felt like it was so much scarier knowing that I was walking into the hospital asking to be cut open as opposed to Penny's birth where after being in labor so long I was just ready for them to get her out! I asked my friends to pray for 3 things.
1. That the IV would go in smoothly
2. That the spinal block would go in smoothly &
3. That Penny would do well when she came to visit us and meet her brother

I don't really know why but I was just so scared of the whole thing. I came to the hospital that morning not feeling as much excitement as you'd think I would have, I was just afraid that I may not love this little man as much as I loved Penny and no matter how many times people told me that the love is instantaneous I just couldn't wrap my mind around it so I'm sad to admit that all I could really look at was the physical side of the surgery.

Our nurse started out ok and I tried everything I could do to get her to warm up to us but it didn't seem like it was going to be an easy task. She told us that they were really backed up that morning and that my c-section was probably going to be really delayed so that I would just have to wait in triage until an OR opened up. She went to start my IV and it completely blew through my vein. She was instantly annoyed with me for messing it up. Jona and I kinda looked at each other and knew we were in for an interesting experience with this nurse. They had to try 5 more times and finally the charge nurse came and did it and it worked! I was feeling so sick to my stomach by that point and my arm had huge bulges of IV fluid that had collected in my arms. It was not fun!

The second the charge nurse finished my IV someone came and tried to take blood but that wouldn't work either. I was starting to feel pretty nervous about this experience when out of nowhere Nurse Cranky-Pants said, "You wont be allowed to see your daughter until you go home from the hospital. We don't allow anyone under 15 to visit because of flu season." I'm ashamed to say that I completely lost it! We had spent so much time preparing Pen and telling her that she was going to come and meet baby Dallas and be able to be with us every day. She was even on her way to the hospital and we had to call my mother-in-law and ask her to stay with Pen for a while. I was so upset. I just wanted to go home and give birth a different day. Thankfully they switched my nurse to a total sweetheart, Nurse Bridget, that realized Nurse Cranky-Pants wasn't treating us with the kindest bedside manner and she really helped to get me ready to go have Dallas.

They started taking Jona and I down the hall into the OR and they told me that Jona couldn't be with me for the spinal which also brought another round of tears. Then they told us that they have no rooms so I would most likely be spending the night in the OR recovery room and they wouldn't allow visitors in there either. It sounds so dramatic now but I had kinda had it. I just couldn't imagine what could make this worse and I am sad to say I did not have my eye on the goal of meeting my son, nor did I trust that God had a perfect plan in all of this. The one redeeming moment was watching Jona try to squeeze his 6'3 frame into the tiny paper gown. The nurse and I started laughing so hard!

Nurse Bridget took me into the OR and I sat on the table as the anesthesiologist prepared me for my spinal block. My OB and nurses kept telling me that I was so lucky to have this anesthesiologist because he was really really good and he was the chairman of his department. He seemed very capable and that he had a lot of faith in his ability. Apparently I was there to humble him. :) I got in the right position and felt the horrible numbing needle, waited for the pain to diminish and then got hit with the full force of the spinal. My back was not numbed! I felt him dig around a little and then he pulled it out, told me I could relax and said he had to try again. This was exactly what I was so afraid of! He tried again and the same exact thing happened. This happened NINE times. I was absolutely freaking out.

My OB came in on the 5th or 6th try and I just started begging him to just knock me out and let me go under general anesthesia. I was WAY over it. They kept trying to tell me that it was much safer for the baby to go this route and that I wouldn't regret it. I still don't know, now that its all said and done, if I had really felt like I had a choice if I would want to be knocked out for the birth. It REALLY was not fun. Finally after try #9, I said very firmly that I was done and that I wanted to be put under. My OB said that he wanted one more shot and then if it didn't work then they would put me out. The anesthesiologist said that he wanted to get someone else to do it with "a fresh set of eyes" and basically asked Dr. Frields if he wanted to pin the tail on the donkey :) My OB is absolutely amazing and said later that he hadn't done a spinal for like 12 years but he did it perfectly on his first try (my 10th).  An hour had passed since I had left Jona waiting in the hall and he was pretty nervous as to what was happening in there!

Dr. Frields was so nice to get Jona in to be with me as soon as possible and I tell ya, there has never been a sweeter sight than Jona walking in and getting to brush my hair out of my face. It took a little while for them to get to Dallas cause he was so high up in my ribs that they had to use a vacuum to get him out. The doctor that assisted my OB actually laid across the bottom of my chest and pushed down with all her might to try to dislodge Dallas. He just did not want to leave his little apartment (this does not bode well for us in 18 years :)). Several minutes passed and I finally heard Dr. Frields say, "Ok! Here comes Dallas!" and I got to hear the most precious little cry of this little boy who was preparing to steal my heart!!!

Meeting my sweet boy Part 2...

He can bring humor to every situation

Friday, May 17, 2013


I cannot believe that six weeks has passed since we became a family of four! I feel like if I let one more day go by before I document the birth of our little man then I will have 10 more blog posts to write! These have easily been the craziest six weeks for our little family but they have also been 6 weeks of incredible joy and dependance on the Lord!

Its so funny to me that this pregnancy is already so hazy! I really think that it was a way better pregnancy than Penny's. I felt so much better over all and even though we got sick SO MANY TIMES, it still seemed to go much more smoothly.

Now that its over I have to say that I was so terrified of being pregnant with a boy! The second we found out Dallas's gender I felt a little sense of disappointment that I wasn't going to be a mom to all girls. I could easily imagine loving a little girl as much as I loved my darling Penelope and I felt like I was capable of handling the drama that comes from raising girls but I didn't think I was up to the task of raising a stinky little boy :). I think if I had said this during my pregnancy someone would have smacked me especially since we wanted this little one so badly it shouldn't have mattered whether it was a boy or girl but I guess to me it did. I am SERIOUSLY delighted that I couldn't have been more wrong. I'm so in love with Dallas just writing his name puts tears in my eyes! (more about that later)

I feel like I haven't even had time to write in my journal so I am going to document as much about these past six weeks here if just for the sake of being able to recount everything that has happened before I try to write it in the kid's journals. So here we go!

The days before Dallas's scheduled c-section I was having so many contractions. I thought for sure that I would have him earlier because I was even having contractions close together for so long before he was born and he was breech so there was a chance that the c-section would be a week earlier. I was even put in the hospital a week before he came because I was feeling really sick and my OB almost let me have him that day except for that the little stinker flipped right before Dr. Frield's performed the ultrasound. The second I went home though it hit me that I only had one week left with Penny.

I was such a mess that week. I felt so guilty and sad that I was ending this season with Pen as my only child. It may sound so ridiculous but I just was really sad that our time was ended just the two of us. I always said that I wished that my kids could be closer together but I really had become so thankful for the relationship that her and I had been able to develop and that I had gotten to pour all of my energy into my little Penelope Mae for three years without there being any other kids to divide my attention. I can absolutely see now how God gave that time to us as a gift.

The night before the c-section Jona and I were both emotional knowing that this would change our little Pens and that she would now be pushed into the role of big sister. We went out to dinner with my family and I couldn't eat I was just really overwhelmed and scared to have another c-section and to be away from Penny. My brother even asked if I was nervous and I burst into tears right in the middle of Applebees :) Even though this is a side note, I have to say that I was so blown away by Jona's tenderness with my emotions. He didn't make me feel dumb or hormonal even once. He was so understanding about the whole thing.

We dropped Penny off at my awesome in-laws house and sniffled our goodbyes to her and went home to get a good night's sleep before heading into the hospital early the next morning...

Our last picture before little Dallas joined our family!