The Day our World Stopped Spinning

August 24th, 2014 . by Melissa

Last Sunday, what an infinite day that was and will remain in the Newman household. August 17th: it doesn’t sound very ominous, but it’s quite a black mark on the calendar in my mind now. The day started out very typically normal. We slept in, even(!) I was getting ready for church and asked Jason to hold Will while I finished up. He said, “I don’t know if I can, my back is killing me.” I said, “Really? It’s that bad?” (I mean Will is only 16 lbs.)

But the pain really was that bad; so Jase headed over to Instacare where the doctor promptly told him he needed to make an appointment with a urologist, there was nothing he could do. Over the next hour the pain became unbearable for Jason. He turned pale white and looked faint. He had to be up and walking or else he’d succumb to the pain. He honestly looked like he was in labor, or the pain equivalent thereof. I called the Instacare doctor who concluded it was probably kidney stones and told us to head over to the emergency room. I told him as he left for the ER, “I know you feel like you’re dying, but there’s comfort in knowing you’re not really dying and its just kidney stones.” Famous last words.

The emergency room immediately gave Jason morphine in an IV. Unfortunately, it couldn’t even take the pain away. After a little experimentation with a few different medicines, they were finally able to control the pain. I’ve never seen a loved one in so much pain before. It was a very difficult thing to experience. I have a new respect for husbands who watch their wives labor through childbirth. Once his pain was settled down to a “4” on the scale of affliction he was taken in for a CT scan. I was told it would be 20 minutes, after 45 I began to worry. When Jason finally returned, he looked very worried. I asked him why it took so long. He said, they couldn’t initially find what they were looking for and had to inject him with dye for a second scan. I have very limited knowledge of medical imaging, so I didn’t realize the concern, but Jason knew why the dye was not a good sign. We waited for over an hour to get the results back. The whole time I kept thinking, “…what is all this fuss over a kidney stone?! They just need to blast it away and let us go home…” I had Will with me, so I decided to take him outside and let him roll around on a blanket for a bit. Jason needed to rest anyway.

I came back 15 minutes later and found a very pale Jason. The ER doctor had come to speak to him about his results while I was out. He relayed the info to me and though I heard the words, I don’t think I comprehended them. I just understood that it was not kidney stones. The doctor came back once he saw me and pulled up the images and gave us a better explanation of what was found. It sounded like:

 

“…mass.…this big (forms hand in circle the size of a softball)…on kidney…specialist…I had cancer…I’m ok, now…we’ll get you fixed up”

 

At this point, I was holding the barf bag to my mouth and dry heaving. I had tears streaming down my face; Jason too. I couldn’t stop my leg from shaking, I kept willing it to stop and it just wouldn’t.

 

“…don’t get worked up, it could be nothing…I see you have a little one…it’s going to be fine…we’ll get him fixed up…”

 

The ER doctor then excused himself to check on another patient. He left those darn images up on the screen and every time I looked over and saw the giant ball in place of a kidney, I felt faint. What now, what now, what now. It was a very out of body experience. Jason got another round of pain meds and was out like a light. I sat in the dark by his bedside, rocked my sweet little baby and watched all of our hopes and dreams slowly fade into the oblivion.

 

Jason had to be admitted to the hospital because his pain was unmanageable without IV medicine. He spent the night, I left for home at about midnight. I came back the next morning to find the urologist had already stopped by to chat about “the mass.” He told Jason he might have tuberculosis, or possibly an infection, or that horrible, awful, dirty C-word. To this day, I’m still not sure what TB had to do with anything but spoiler alert, it wasn’t TB, he tested negative.

I’ve decided that the hospital is a horrible place to be. Before this experience I’ve mostly associated the hospital with having a baby; bringing life into the world. These are very happy moments. I should have taken a field trip up to the maternity ward because in the medical/surgical unit, this was not the aura. I remembering hearing a nurse yell down the hall, 156 is available now, the patient died last night. Great, that’s what I wanted to hear. And while the nurse who was taking care of Jason was very nice, she kept throwing around the word chemotherapy and every time she said it, I wanted to shake her and say, “You don’t even now that he has that horrible, awful, dirty C-word.” I just wanted to take Jason home, tuck him in, and pretend like August 17th never ever happened.

Around 5 p.m. on Monday, his pain was manageable without an IV and we were finally able to go home.

Tuesday morning we headed to a hospital in Provo for his biopsy, which involved a CT scanner and a huge, hollow needle. Jason is deathly afraid of needles. So much, that when I’m getting my epidural during childbirth, he’s the one the nurses are holding steady and offering ice chips too. I was grateful for the wonderful medical staff who dosed him up with some very effective I-don’t-care-juice. Before the procedure the interventional radiologist spoke to us and for the first time a healthcare professional said, I think this thing is going to be benign. I almost leapt into the man’s arms for joy. He offered us a tiny nugget of hope and I feasted on it. We learned from the procedure that the mass was filled with some liquid and was fatty. The radiologist said these were possibly good signs but then also said he couldn’t tell what it was from these characteristics alone. Sigh…goodbye nugget of hope.

That evening I had a difficult time. I couldn’t get a hold of my emotions. I wanted so badly to be strong for my husband and my children but my heart felt as though it was broken into a million pieces. I walked outside onto the patio to find Jack stomping around in Daddy’s big black church shoes. Tears flooded my face at the sight. “…This boy needs his father. He has to have his father..” Jack noticed the puddles on my face and said, “My eyes get wet sometimes, too. You just have to wipe it off like this.” He then proceeded to wipe my tears with his shirt. Such a sweet, tender-hearted boy. Just like his father. Which made me cry more.

Wednesday was just the same. Difficult, challenging, overwhelming, emotional. I spoke with my mother in law that evening who recommended I read Jason’s patriarchal blessing. (For those of you who are not familiar with patriarchal blessings: https://www.lds.org/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng) I took her advice and read his blessing to discover several words of comfort. I immediately felt reassured that Jason would be just fine. President Monson said, “Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night.” And for me, that was so very true.

Thursday, like the past several days, was a day filled with prayer and patience as we awaited the results of the biopsy. I did my best to enjoy the children and their sweet ignorance to all that our family was enduring. And most of all, I clung to the words I had read in Jason’s patriarchal blessing and the wonderful embrace of the spirit that they brought.

Friday finally came. Our day of truth. I didn’t expect to hear from the doctor before noon, so the children and I spent the morning in the backyard while Jason rested. I was amazed at how calming it was to be outdoors, enjoying fresh air. After lunch I started to feel queasy again. We still hadn’t received that long anticipated call. Did this mean they found something and the doctor would have to bring us in? Did this mean they had to send the sample in for further tests? I couldn’t fathom waiting an entire weekend to learn the results, they just had to call by 5. At 2 p.m., I called them. The office manager said she would look into it and call me back. After an hour, I called her again. She hadn’t even looked into our request yet! I started to feel desperate. We needed to know and the day was almost over. 20 minutes later I get a call from the same number, I expected it to be the office manager needing more information for our request, but no, it was the doctor! My heart skipped a beat. I ran the phone up to Jason who was resting in bed. I wanted to know, but I didn’t want to know. The doctor first asked Jason how his recovery from the biopsy was. (It was fine.) Then he wanted to know how the medicine was working. (It was working fine.) Then he wanted to know if we were ready for the results. (Yes, yes, please!)

The biopsy showed that the mass was/is an oncocytoma. Benign. No cancer cells were found. Hallelujah! Thank you, Heavenly Father! Glory to God! And a big phew!

BUT…since the whole mass couldn’t be tested (remember, it is quite large), they can’t completely rule out that horrible, awful, dirty C-word just yet. It could be lurking somewhere else in the tumor.

On Sept. 9, Jason will undergo a 4 hour laproscopic surgery to remove his right kidney (bummer, I know) and the large tumor. Once it’s removed it will be tested completely and then we will finally know once and for all. Jason is still in pain (apparently the tumor is so large that it is upsetting/resting on his other internal organs causing the pain) so we look forward to the surgery so that he can have some relief and feel well again. We welcome any and all prayers for a smooth surgery and a completely benign tumor. Our family has so much faith in the Lord and his healing power that all will be well. I know many of you have already been praying for us and we have honestly felt those prayers.  Like a warm hug straight to the heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that. Please keep them coming! :)

Welcome to the World, Will!

April 21st, 2014 . by Melissa

On Wednesday, April 2, at 9:08 p.m. we greeted our third child into this world! It was exciting, suspenseful, happy and well…painful. :) Here’s the nitty gritty of baby Will’s birth!

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First of all, let me say, our little guy’s birth was a LONG time coming. I know, I know, everyone waits for 9+ months and feels like they’ve been pregnant forever by the end, but at 35 weeks I was already dilated to 3 cm and 60% effaced. The doctor said, “You will not make it to your due date.” This meant a lot coming from her, because she’s normally not very absolute about anything. The next week I went back and was at 4 cm and 70% effaced. Oh boy…and each week I went back I was another cm and another 10%. Now, they say you could stay at 4 cm for several weeks before the baby comes, yada yada. But I wasn’t “staying,” every week I went back I had steadily progressed and was closer and closer to having the baby. I felt like a ticking time bomb. At any moment I could explode amniotic fluid and baby everywhere! …Especially with how instantaneous my delivery with Cadence was, almost didn’t make it to the hospital with that one!

Things started to get very real when Jason was offered an interview in the Boston area 10 days before my due date. The day he left I was 5 cm, 75% effaced, and a bit of a nervous wreck. I did NOT want to have the baby without him! My mom came up to babysit me while he was gone. It was nice to have her here helping with the kiddos, I took the advice of many friends and rested as much as I could. Jason came back from Boston the next evening at 1 in the morning. Phew, we made it the 36 hours! I then promptly told the baby, “Ok, time to come out!” And well, he didn’t listen. So, I walked. And I walked. And I walked. In fact, I walked almost 2 miles everyday until my next doctor’s appt.

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I went in to the doctor’s office the morning of April 2, for my weekly check. And there I was again; another 1/2 centimeter dilated, another 10%, and now another station lower. (I knew I felt like I was starting to waddle!) I was thoroughly disappointed when the Doc did not offer to induce me but I was only 39.5 weeks, so I understood. She did strip my membranes though, which has never worked for me before and always ends up making me uncomfortable for the rest of the day. So, I went home and depressingly told my mom that the baby was not going to be coming by his due date and that my doctor didn’t offer to induce me and woe is me, woe is me. Having my membranes stripped meant an entire day of crampy, painful false labor. I’d gotten used to the sporadic, intermittent painful contractions…I’d been having them for the last 4 weeks but the crampiness on top of it was just annoying. I decided to walk through it and took the kids out in the double stroller. I only made it a mile because of my discomfort.

The rest of the day played out as it normally would until about 4:45 p.m. My painful braxton hicks were getting stronger and I was having to use my Hypnobirthing breathing to get through them. Still, they weren’t knocking me to ground like they did with Cadence, so I just assumed it was more false labor. After about 30 minutes of 45 second contractions at 2-3 minutes apart, I decided to text Jason and let him know as he was at work 15 minutes away. He decided it would be best to come home, just in case, it was almost quitting time anyway. Right after he left for home, I had a break in contractions and almost called him to tell him to go back to the office, but when the contractions came back after that short little 10 minute break, they were full force hit-me-with-a-Mack-truck suckers. Thank goodness for my Hypnobirthing breathing, it got me through it!  I had everything ready to go by the time Jason pulled up and we were off to the hospital.

 

IMG_2310Jason was driving like a mad man, thinking this was a replay of Cadence’s birth and that I was already through transition at 9.5 cm. It took 20 minutes to get to the hospital but I had my Hypnobirthing track on my phone playing with headphones and I was rockin’ the breathing so I didn’t feel nearly as panicky or in as much pain as I was with Cadence. We headed to the emergency room area and they asked how the could help me, apparently I was looking too calm, “Uhm, hellllloo, I’m in labor. –pointing to my huge belly–” They made me wait behind a few other patients to get checked in…I was kind of hoping I would have the baby right then and there to show them just how serious I was about being in labor!

Finally, I was wheeled upstairs to the maternity ward. The contractions had gotten a lot worse, or maybe I just got out of my groove and felt the pain more. Either way, it was getting unbearable. I was shocked after the nurse examined me and told me I was only at 6.5 cm, 90%. All of that, and I had only progressed 1 measly centimeter since that morning! Grrr. Since I was only a 6.5 and it could be a while, I asked for the epidural. They got my IV in, asked me a long list of questions and then promised to go and get the anesthesiologist. I expected to have the epidural in a matter of minutes. Again, with Cadence, it was so fast that I literally had the epidural within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital; the doctor had joked it was the fastest epidural ever given there.

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I think we had been there for about an hour when I started getting demanding. I’m usually pretty mellow, even during childbirth, but where were my darn drugs?! I labored standing up, with my weight on Jason, rocking side to side, kind of like a slow dance. At one point, after an extremely painful contraction that I lost all control through and began to cry/scream, I felt a VERY strong urge to …uh-hum…use the restroom…number 2. And instead of letting me go the nurse demanded I lay down in bed. I was so mad at her! When you need to go, you need to go. But, she knew what was really going on. That urge was an urge to push the BABY out, not well, you know. So, she checked me, which was extremely painful. And discovered I was beyond 9 cm, 100% effaced and the baby’s head was “right there.” That horrible painful contraction that had me screaming and that strong urge was my sweet little boy making his final descent into the canal.

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Right then the anesthesiologist shows up, about time! The nurses were all exchanging looks with her, I think they were silently debating whether or not it was too late. BUT, they decided to go ahead and let me have one. I think I had been demanding enough before that no one wanted to tell me “no.” Within 10 minutes I had sweet relief…ahhhhhhh. It was nice because Jason’s dissertation draft was due that evening by midnight and with the epidural in and me back to my usual self it gave him a few minutes to work. The doc came in and broke my water. (My water has never broken on it’s own.) The doctor had a difficult time breaking it and commented on how tough it was! After just 30 minutes, I was feeling pressure and was ready to push. The nurse seemed doubtful that I was really ready but obliged me anyway. After 2 rounds of pushing she said WOAH, WAIT! I’ve got to get the doctor! She grabbed the doc and the rest of the staff and after one more round of pushing, the head was out.

Oddly, the doctor wanted to suction out the baby’s nose and mouth while he was still half in/half out, so I had to wait to do the final push. And then in a swirl of commotion he was on my belly looking up at me with those sweet baby gray eyes. We got to snuggle for awhile and then he was weighed and measured. I was shocked that he was 7 lbs. 7 oz., exactly the weight of newborn Cadence. Because I hadn’t gained much more than 20 lbs this pregnancy, I thought he would be small, like in the sixes. But nope! So, I gave a sigh of relief and then politely thanked him for a light pregnancy! Jason finished up the work on his dissertation. We were moved to the mother/baby unit and then we happily partook in our hospital visit tradition of a Steak and Shake feast.

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Overall, I had a fairly easy delivery and a fast recovery. We only stayed in the hospital one day so we could get back to the other kiddos. Will has been mellow from the start and has really stayed mild. He’s been such a great addition to our family and we love him so much!

Here are a few newborn pics I took of Will!

 

 

 

 

Christmastime 2013

December 26th, 2013 . by Melissa

We had a great Christmas this year and our fun has only begun! We headed down to visit my family in Southern Indiana on Sunday. We went straight to the Dart Family Christmas at my Aunt Debbie’s. The kids had a great time playing with their second cousins and we enjoyed lots of yummy food! We also got a few family photos, which was nice since the others were so out of date! Jack and Cadence each also got a new toy!

On Monday, we headed to the Ritzy’s Fantasy of Lights. I didn’t get any photos but the kiddos sure loved it. We also ate at Hacienda, one of my favorite Evansville restaurants and enjoyed a delicious mudslide dessert. Tuesday was Christmas eve. We spent time with my dad and Kathy, just relaxing. We started a new tradition with the kiddos, a special Christmas Eve box that included new Christmas jammies, a new family movie to watch, popcorn and hot cocoa. The movie they got was Tangled and they loved snuggling with Grandpa and Nana, sipping hot cocoa. After the movie was over we went outside and let off a Chinese wish lantern just like the ones in Tangled. My dad just happened to have one lying around (he has everything!)

Christmas morning, the kids woke up at a decent hour (thank goodness they are still young enough to sleep in!) We immediately went upstairs to see what Santa brought. Jack was thrilled that the goodies and milk he left were all gone. The kids had a great time opening their Santa gifts and their gifts from Grandpa and Nana. Cadence really got the hang of ripping off the wrapping paper this year, she loved it and would even try to help Jack! We had special Christmas tree waffles for breakfast. The kiddos played with their toys for a little longer while Jason and I packed up the car. We said our goodbyes and then headed to my Mom and Terry’s in Kentucky.

 

We had Christmas lunch at my Mom and Terry’s. My brother was there, as well as my cousin and her family, my Grandma and my Uncle Craig. My grandma made her famous potato salad “just for me.” I had several, several helpings. And had more today for lunch, too! The kids opened their gifts and enjoyed playing with the dogs and with their cousins. Alora and Cadence are just 2 weeks apart and were being so cute with each other! We had a great time. We loaded up the car with all kinds of goodies and then drove 4 hours home. Luckily my mom sent us on our way with tons of cookies, homemade fudge, and cheesecake. That kept me awake for the drive home!

The day after Christmas we let the kids open their stockings and their gifts from us. It was nice to have a little Christmas of our own and actually use the tree we put up! I spent the rest of the day making room for the new toys, out with the old and in with the new! Our holiday cheer won’t stop here; Jason’s mom, sister and brother are coming to visit tomorrow. Let the holiday fun continue!

Best Ever Toffee Recipe (So far…)

December 14th, 2013 . by Melissa

I finally found and modified my so-far-favorite recipe for toffee, and I am writing it down here so I will know where to find it next Christmas when I want to make it again! and again! and again! I love Christmas toffee, can you tell?

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

2 Sticks Salted Butter

1 Cup white sugar

1 Cup brown sugar

3 Tbs. Corn Syrup

1 Cup Chopped Almonds

1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips

 

Directions:

  1.  Use a heavy bottomed saucepan. Coat with butter.
  2. For thicker toffee use a 9 x 13 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet. I’m talking 1/4-1/2 inches thick in the middle. For thinner toffee, use a 10X17 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet. Add alumnium foil to bottom of pan and coat foil with cookie spray.
  3. Combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low (on my stove it’s between 2-3) Boil to brittle stage, 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) without stirring. DO NOT STIR! On my candy thermometer the magic number was 275 (it has a bubble).  Remove from heat. (If bubbles in the boiling mixture are dark brown instead of a nice light amber, the heat is too high!) Also don’t forget the water test, to see if you’ve made it to the hard crack/brittle stage.
  4. Remove mixture from heat, pour into jelly roll pan. Wait 3-5 minutes. Then add chocolate chips. Wait another 3-5 minutes and spread melted chips all over the top of the toffee. Finally, add the chopped almonds. I chopped my already slivered almonds in the food processor to chop them finer and also create an almond dust, that I personally think makes the toffee look even more beautiful and professional, kind of like Almond Roca.

Serves 48.

Little Boy

December 6th, 2013 . by Melissa

…is what we are calling the baby for now because we cannot agree on a name. Good thing we have 4 more months to figure one out! There are actually 2 names we really like and have had on our list for awhile but BOTH are on the Top 5 Most Popular Boy Names for this year. While I don’t want to name Little Boy some made up name like Pooky Gooky Dooky (sorry, Jack!), I also don’t want him to have the same name as 5 other boys in his class. Jack(son) was number 36 in popularity when Jack was born in 2009 and it seems like there are 4 year old Jacksons everywhere! Poor Jack was so confused at his soccer games when this other little boy named Jackson (also called Jack) brought his entire extended family to every game to cheer him on. They’d yell “Score, Jack, score!!” But my Jack was nowhere near the ball or goal and was wondering why all these people were yelling at him! It really wasn’t that big of a deal but it’s made me rethink popular names for our future children. SO yeah, we have no name ideas for Little Boy!

I wanted to share a little bit about this Little Boy we can’t wait to meet in April!

First, he is a crazy mover!! More than my other two, and I thought they were busy bodies in utero! At the ultrasound the technician had a hard time getting all of his readings because he was so fidgety. Despite all this moving; I only feel his kicks, body waves, and punches 10 or so times a day. My placenta is in front of the baby and so all of his movements are muffled by that. Which also means, Jason hasn’t been able to feel him yet because his movements aren’t strong enough to be felt on the outside.

Second, he’s a little guy. He is only in the 11th percentile for height and weight. At my ultrasound, I had only gained 5 lbs. and I was terrified they were going to tell me there was something wrong with the baby’s development. However, he is perfectly healthy in every way, just waiting for a growth spurt to catch up!

It’s amazing to me how each of my pregnancies have been noticeably different. I was much sicker with this one than I was with Cadence (and I wasn’t sick with Jack at all!) This is my first baby where the placenta has been in the front, so that’s been different as far as feeling movement! I get tummy aches all the time with this one and have to be careful about what I eat even though my nausea is long gone (thank goodness!!)  With Cadence I had already gained 15 lbs. by week 15, with this one I have finally hit the 10 lb. mark at week 23 (and I’m really happy about that because low weight gain scares me.) I am also getting a lot more frustrated, a lot more quickly this pregnancy. My poor children and husband, just know it’s the hormones talking, not me!

Here’s are some cute “skeleton” pictures (as Jack calls them!) and a belly shot!

 

 

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And here we are at 23 weeks!DSC_0173 copy

 

Turkey Day!

December 6th, 2013 . by Melissa

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Debbie’s this year, and it was so fun for the kiddos to play with their second cousins. There are 13 grandchildren on my Mom’s side, and 5 of us have kids. So, I think there were a total of 10 second cousins, plus 3 other little ones that my other aunt and uncle foster parent for. It was loud and crazy but even without the kiddos that’s how it is on that side of the family, it’s great! We spent the rest of our Thanksgiving break with my dad and Kathy. It was relaxing, we got to eat at my favorite restaurant Tequilas. YUM!  We didn’t brave the Black Friday crowds this year, though I usually love to. Fortunately, this year I was almost completely done with my Christmas shopping before Black Friday and just didn’t need to get out. Instead, my mom, Jack and I went to see Frozen. It was really good, I highly recommend it! I didn’t get any pictures for the entire rest of the trip, I guess I was just having too much fun living the moment! But here are a few pics I was able to snap.

 

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