Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Big Leap (the long awaited update)

So I recently took a test that calculated stress levels.   681.  The scale said that 0-149 was low susceptibility to stress related illness, 150-299 was moderate, and 300 and over was high.  681.  Seriously?  Stressed?  The funny thing is that I don’t feel stressed, but honestly, it must be there and underlying.  A little over a month ago, I gave birth to our second child.  6 days later Kai’s resignation was final.  12 days later we packed up our house and moved from one coast to the other.  We crossed the country with a newborn and tried to reassure ourselves that he would be fine.  We were neurotic about germs and sterilizing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g along the way.  We successfully made it to the other side of the country with our family intact and relatively healthy.  And then…what?  What was our plan?  Why would we even consider doing something so…reckless?  Well, here’s the abbreviated story…

We loved a lot about Vermont.  In fact, we were making plans to stay there for many years.  Kai put an offer in on the practice he was working for, the owners accepted, and he was in the process of getting a loan to complete the deal.  We were really excited about owning the practice and had started to see ourselves living in Vermont for the long term.  Throughout the whole process, we were praying for God to lead in the deal.  We had a lot of things that we were really looking forward to, but we had some major hesitations as well.  So our prayer was simply that if God didn’t want the deal to go through, that he would close all the doors and make the process impossible. 

Long story short, somewhere in the middle of the whole process the owners changed their minds and wanted significantly more money for the practice than we were willing to pay.  At that point we decided to walk away from the deal.  When Kai signed his contract in the very beginning, there was a clause that said if he resigned then we would have to move at least 35 miles away from the practice so as not to take any patients from the practice with him.  We knew this before he put in his resignation, but we decided that since he wasn’t buying the practice, which had been his intention, he would put in his 2 month notice and we would move on even though it meant moving at least 35 miles and moving at a tough time (right after the birth of Baby K).   I’ll spare you all the details, but we considered all the options to try and stay in the area, even considering buying the non-compete clause which would allow us to stay, but the owners wanted to charge close to a couple of hundred thousand dollars for it even though the going rate is in the ten thousands range.  Kai is apparently very valuable :-)   We realized that our prayers were being answered even though the answer was different from what we had expected.  It seemed that God was obviously and completely steering our ship in a different direction. 

So knowing that we had to move at least 35 miles, we decided to start thinking about where we really wanted to live.  We were crushed to have to leave the close friends we had made in our short time there.  (I cannot say enough that the friends we made while in Vermont were some of the best people we’ve ever known!!  We have already been missing them!)  So we started trying to decide.  Would we move somewhere else in Vermont?  We didn’t know anyone in Vermont when we first moved and now moving 35 miles from where we began would mean starting over making new friends again.  We thought of Michigan where we have family and lots of friends.  That was a very real option, but we’ve discovered that we’re not very fond of the cold.  Texas?  Warm weather and it’s rumored there are tons of jobs, but again, we would be starting over making new friends and not knowing anyone.  California?  Where we just moved from almost a year ago?  We have so many family and friends and we love the weather.  We love all the busyness of the city and all there is to do, but a big drawback is that the market is overly saturated with dentists.  Kai had many friends that had wanted to stay in Southern California, but never found jobs and had to move away.  From what we’ve heard, the job situation hasn’t changed.  But one thing we knew for sure was that we loved it there and missed our friends and family.  If we had to start over, why not try in a place we loved?  God had answered our initial prayer (not the way we expected), so we continued praying and decided to make a huge step out in faith. 

Our plan was simple.  2 months.  We would move back to California and give it 2 months of long, hard, persistent job searching.  If after those 2 months Kai still didn’t have work, then we would look at our options again.  That decision was both simple and formidable.  It was simple because it was obviously what we wanted, and if you know us, you know that we don’t mind a little adventure in our lives.  But it was formidable because we had an idea of how tough it would be and while we love adventure, we don’t like to be irresponsible.  With 2 children, 1 of which would be a newborn at the start of this “adventure”, the feeling was dangerously close to that of irresponsibility and thus, left us with an uneasy feeling.  Yet that uneasiness was overshadowed by a feeling that we were, for some unknown reason, heading in the right direction. 

So we packed everything we owned back into a 26’ Penske rental truck and moved out of our house a mere 12 days after Baby K arrived.  We took our time getting from coast to coast with a stopover in Michigan to visit family and friends, and a stopover in Texas to break the trip up and see if it would be a potential “plan b” if things didn’t work out after 2 months in CA.  We also met friends for dinner along the way and introduced Baby K to 13 new states.  Traveling 4000 miles with 2 small children is daunting.  Between books, stories, movies, snacks, feedings, changings, and bouts of screaming (mostly the kids—though Kai and I joined in to make a merrier chorus at times ;-), we were thankful to reach our destination! 

We arrived on a Saturday night and Kai had 2 interviews scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.  Both interviews went well and one of them wanted a working interview on Thursday.  Both places offered him jobs and Kai came home Thursday after the working interview with full time work!  What a HUGE blessing and relief!  I had thought for sure that it would take almost the entire 2 months to find anything and I was steeling myself for the reality that we might end up resorting to “plan b” in the end, and yet everything worked itself out in less than a week!  This whole experience reminded me of 2 of my favorite Bible verses:   

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 and 
I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. 

Things are far from “completed” yet and we still have a lot ahead of us, but one of the major pieces in our uncompleted puzzle has been placed and it makes it a little easier and less stressful as we plan for the future.  I’m thankful that we decided to take the leap of faith, though it was stressful and seemingly reckless, and I’m so thankful for the way things have worked out so far.  For the record, both boys are doing great.  I hardly find the time to check my email and blog lately, but now with this megapost completed (which has been hanging over my head since the inception of this whole ordeal), maybe I will allow myself a few minutes to post smaller bits and pieces of our lives on a more regular basis and catch up on the blogs of those that I have been seriously neglecting.  Thanks for your patience!   

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dancing In The Mine Fields

For those of you who know what this is all about...beautiful!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Birth Story

Life is busy with two!  Not to mention all that’s been going on the last few weeks, which I will post about again soon (as I’ve already promised so many of you waiting for an update on that), but first things first.  As promised, here is the birth story of our 2nd perfect baby boy! 

This pregnancy had been a little harder than the last in regard to the timing of the first trimester sickness, some killer back pain that made me immobile at times, and at the very end, the return of cholestasis of pregnancy which I developed with my first pregnancy also.  This condition is very serious as it increases the risk of stillbirth.  After seeing my doctor, he decided that it was best to induce me to prevent harm to the baby.  The induction was scheduled for the next morning at 6 a.m.  As you may (or may not) remember, my due date was March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day).  

Kai and I let his mom watch K and went out for a “last supper” date.  We went to our favorite local restaurant and had some delicious food.  It was great being able to tell the waiters and waitresses who had watched my belly grow the last 9 months that we would finally be meeting the baby the next day.  They served me up a virgin cocktail on the house in celebration of pregnancy and delivery.  We savored every minute knowing things were just beginning to get crazy.  The entire meal I had irregular, but fairly strong contractions which lasted all night and until I went into the hospital the next morning.  

Being induced is a completely different experience from spontaneously starting labor and then heading to the hospital, which is how older brother K arrived.  We arrived at 6 a.m. freshly showered and excited to meet the newest member of our family.  The nurses laid out my hospital gown and warm blankets and took all of my information while I was not experiencing intense contractions--much better than last time when I was trying to give answers in between major, piercing, awful contractions that had been going on for days. 
 At the very beginning

Around 7:30 after the information gathering, etc., the doctor came in and broke my water (painful!!!!) and started me on a pitocin drip.  I already had requested an epidural on my birth plan, but hospital policy wouldn’t allow it until I reached 4 cm.  The contractions started immediately and were 2 minutes apart for the next 6 hours.  They didn’t start off too bad, but after about an hour they started getting pretty intense and after 2 hours, I was close to begging for my epidural.  Thankfully I got my epidural around 10 a.m. because I had reached 4cm!  Once the epidural was in, life was great!!  I watched the contractions continue and felt only the hardness of my belly.  The nurses came in and marveled at how intense the contractions were on the monitor and told me that I was ready to have this baby and probably would have gone into labor on my own that day or the next.  The highest dose of pitocin they administered was 10, which according to them was not much at all. 

I remembered that I had promised to tell several friends and family when we started labor, so I pulled out my phone and started updating.  I then came across the sad news of Japan’s devastating tsunami.  We realized that while we were having one of the best days of our lives and would soon meet our beloved new son, thousands of families had just been torn apart by tragic loss and destruction.  It was sobering to say the least.  We will always remember the day baby K came into this world and now we will never forget one of Japan’s worst moments in history. 

Finally around 12:15, less than 5 hours after everything was started, I told the nurses that I felt like I needed to start pushing.  After a check, they agreed that it was time.  What a difference!  Last time my labor lasted for 5 days, this time a little over 5 hours!!!  Kai got into his gown as he was planning to deliver baby K, just as he had delivered older brother K.  Pushing with my first labor experience was painful.  Even with an epidural, it was bad.  So I was expecting/dreading the same thing this time too, but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t painful.  Yes, I felt the pressure, but there wasn’t pain involved like the last time.  I can only guess that the last time they had backed my epidural off and I was feeling everything.  This time was soooo much better and soooo much easier.  I pushed for a little over a half an hour and at 12:57 baby K made his appearance!! 
No, I didn't take this picture, the 2nd delivery nurse did :-)  

They put him directly onto my chest as soon as he came out and his cries were immediately calmed by my voice.  He weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces and measured 20 inches in length.  He was perfect.  His tiny fingers grasped mine and were formed beautifully.  His tiny little legs curled beneath his small body and he felt so extremely helpless in my arms.  After holding a solid 2 year old, he felt so fragile in my arms.  I was in awe that God had blessed us with 2 seemingly perfectly created little boys.  I had been afraid during this pregnancy that something would be wrong or go wrong.  When I looked at older brother K and realized how wonderful he was, I was sure that it wasn’t possible to have 2 healthy babies with all the potential risks.  But holding him in my arms and staring into his beautiful face made me thank God that even though we don’t deserve 2 amazing little boys, for whatever reason, He blessed us with them both.  I felt such a immense sense of responsibility that I graciously accepted.  Being a mom is one of the best things I’ve ever attempted. 

His red hair!  I hope it stays!!  

We spent the next 2 days in the hospital recovering.  Kai stayed with me and older brother K stayed at home with Kai’s mom who had come to help with him during the delivery (he came to visit several times though).  The hospital staff were wonderful and we actually got some rest in the hospital this time.  By the way, the only people present for the delivery this time were 2 nurses, the doctor, and us.  Much different from the approximately 20 that were in the room last time!  To be honest, both birth experiences were wonderful.  They were completely different in so many ways, but they were both wonderful.  Both times we had fantastic doctors and nurses.  Both times the boys were very well taken care of.  Both times we marveled at what a positive experience it had been.  But each delivery was completely unique and different.  

We have been enjoying baby K so much these last several weeks.  He’s such a sweet baby.  His personality is different from older bother K’s so far.  Older bother K has a “grab life by the horns” approach and has always been so full of energy and activity.  We have always loved this about him!  Baby K seems to be much more relaxed so far.  He only cries when he’s hungry or needs changing, and is content to be held and stare deeply into your face.  This makes anyone holding him completely melt—me included!  He seems to adore his older brother already when K comes over and strokes his face or touches his tiny hands.  Older brother K has adapted so well.  He jumped into the “older brother” role immediately and has done amazingly well.  Of course there have been occasions when he’s acted out more than normal, but those are rare and he’s easily deterred from those moments.  In his defense, he’s also gone through so many more changes than is “normal” for his age...  But more on that in the next post…  :-) 
Cute little feet!  
Beautiful boy!