Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Naming a Human Being is Hard.

It took us four days. Or 32 weeks and 1 day.

We had a hearty list of girl names that we had planned on whittling down before the baby came, but we'd always wanted to see her before we chose something for sure. At least the benefit of having her come two months early was that we had a lot of time to decide!

Because of my c section I wasn't allowed to go see our girl until the doctor gave the go ahead for me to move which ended up being about 24 hours. Thankfully, I am married to the best man in the whole world. Tommy not only made a billion trips between me and the NICU that day, taking pictures and taking care of both of his girls, but he made it clear to the doctor that night that I really needed to see my baby and fought for me so I could see her that soon! Get that man a medal!

Because I hadn't seen her in person and because she came so early and was still developing and changing, it was a challenge to pick a name that we felt fit her face and her personality.

Many names on our list were easy to nix because they didn't fit her face, but even then we had a lot to figure out! There were certain aspects of her personality that we wanted to be reflected in her name, the weirdness of "Clara" being the name to flash into my mind when I saw her for the first time, and the fact that I wanted the concept of "hope" to be in her name somewhere.

Emma ~ whole, complete, universal
We could tell that our baby had a calm, steadiness about her. She barely cried and was born with these coal-black eyes that felt like an endlessly deep pool of perfectly still water. The nurses called her an old soul, and even though she was so new to life on this Earth, she just took it in like it was already familiar. She was okay with it even if her body needed more time to catch up :) Emma has been a significant name to both Tommy and I and we always felt like/hoped we'd have a daughter that would fit the name. Emma seemed to fit that deep, calm, steady side we saw in our little girl.

Alexis ~ defender of man
We also learned really quick that our baby girl was feisty. She fought the nurses and doctors, ripped off her breathing tube, and successfully flourished at being alive in the outside world she technically wasn't supposed to be in yet. Feisty! We thought that Alex was a feisty name and it had always been on our list because Tommy's best friend is named Alex, and I love boy names for girls and that one in particular. Being a book nerd, I love Alexandria because of the library of Alexandria...but Alexandria Steinkuhler is suuper long. Thus, Alexis.   

We debated Emma or Alexis for about two days. Which would be first? Which was she more? Which would she like better? Tommy tried yelling both, we thought Emma Alexis flowed better than Alexis Emma, but it didn't suck if you said it slowly... For a whole day she was Alexis Emma. The poor nurses put up with our flip flopping and just kept changing her white board and started calling her whatever we said next :)

Clara ~ clear, bright, distinguished
I still have no idea why Clara popped into my head when I saw her face! It wasn't even on the list! I think it's a beautiful name but it was too close for comfort to my own name and Tommy didn't get any such name flashings when he saw her. We decided it didn't really seem to fit her anyway and nixed it. So maybe it was the drugs??

Hope was the greatest truth I learned from this baby. From the very beginning when we first found out we were expecting right through her birth and to this day; she has been one big lesson on hope. I wanted so much for her to know that. Know what a light and hope she has been to us, and to have that be a part of her name somehow. Unfortunately there aren't that many names that mean 'hope'. We tossed around the name Dawn which is a family name of two great ladies we absolutely love and denotes a beginning and the first light of a new day. We tossed around straight up using Hope as a middle name. But when it seemed like we were really liking Emma Alexis, a third name was going to be a bit much just to satisfy my whole hope complex!

It took me until that Saturday morning (I think) to see the 'hope' concept in her initials if we went with Emma as the first name. It's a bit of a stretch as you have to use the first two letters of her last name, not just the S, but I kind of like that it is hidden.

E.mma A.lexis ST.einkuhler


East is where the light comes from! Every dawn of the new day comes from the east. Ah hope-filled east!

*And now, in true Steinkuhler fashion, I'm going to quote LOTR and scripture right after each other, and crack up while doing it.*

"Look to the East!" - Gandalf 

 "For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." Joseph Smith Matthew 1:26

There you go.

Emma Alexis Steinkhuler,
 Gandalf, God and your ridiculous parents approve of your name. Hopefully you like it ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Longest Birth Story Ever

The facts were these...

I had no prior history of high blood pressure; my blood pressure was usually in the low 100’s/60’s.

I had been experiencing swelling in my feet since mid-late October. I woke up with swelling in my face and hands Oct 26th that lasted a couple hours and had swelling in my eyelids on several mornings after that. I talked to the doctor about it at my next appointment on November 7th, he didn’t seem too concerned.

When I was 30 weeks along the doctor decided to schedule non-stress tests twice a week to monitor Emma because she was measuring small. No real concern, just to keep an eye on her progress.

Which brings us to...
31 weeks 3 days – Tuesday November 11th

This morning I went to the first non-stress test for Emma. It was an ultrasound followed by a movement tracker in which our very active baby slept through the first half and didn’t move at all. Cheeky! During the ultrasound they measured her all over, found she was still measuring small but that she had great movement, her diaphragm moved – a sign her body was practicing the movement she’d later use for breathing – and my blood pressure was high again. It had been high at my last appointment as well, the previous Friday the 7th. 

The nurse practitioner I met with gave me a couple pieces of advice that morning that probably saved my life that night. She said that if my swelling traveled up my legs I needed to go to the hospital, that I could always go to a CVS and check my blood pressure, and that my usual doctor would probably prescribe me some medication at my next non-stress appointment (Fri. the 14th) to keep my blood pressure down.

 I felt pretty normal that day. Tired, and my feet were swelling by the time I got home. I propped my legs up on the couch for a few hours until Tommy got home. When I got up I realized my legs were massively swollen all the way up through my thighs. Usually when I’d been putting my feet up for 2-3 hours the swelling would be gone for at least a good 20 minutes of standing :) Thigh swelling was not normal.

Thanks to the step by step direction the nurse practitioner had given me that morning, I felt pretty calm and knew exactly what to do. Tommy wasn’t feeling well but we went to CVS, checked my blood pressure 160/88 – much too high for my comfort. We called the on-call nurse operator, explained the swelling and blood pressure reading and asked at what point do we need to go to the hospital, and waited for the return call. Meanwhile we asked our friends to come over so Tommy and Travis could administer a blessing on me. A doctor called back soon after and said I needed to go to the hospital immediately to get checked out, that with my current symptoms/BP I was at risk of having a stroke. Travis and Tommy gave me a blessing, and Tommy and I speedily grabbed what we thought we’d need for a few hours at the hospital. Meanwhile Tommy was "experiencing" food poisoning. Perfect timing!!

We got to the ER, Tommy immediately headed off to utilized the ER restroom and I recall reassuring the ER front desk people that while I was pregnant, I wasn’t there to have a baby (ha!) I just had high blood pressure and needed to be checked out. (I was expecting to be prescribed some blood pressure medication and to be sent home!) They said I had to go up to Labor and Delivery for some tests and I walked there, turning down the offered wheelchair. I note this to emphasize the fact that even at this point, I still thought I was doing okay!

Tommy caught up to me in Labor and Delivery and a nurse started taking my vitals. She said CVS machines aren’t always reliable, so hopefully my BP wasn’t as high as it had read out; I agreed. Then she took my BP and it was significantly higher than it had been at CVS 184/112. Instantly our room was a flurry of nurses and I was officially admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with preeclampsia!

It was explained that I would need to be there for two days of meds. 
Goal #1: To not go into labor during that time = bed rest. High blood pressure can induce labor! 
I would get medication to get my blood pressure down as well as steroids for the baby so that her lungs could get a boost developing. In case we weren’t able to stop my body from going into labor, we wanted to give her her best shot having lungs as developed as possible.

If we made it through the next two days, 
Goal #2: To make it to 32 weeks (Nov. 15th)
Goal #3: To put off labor for as many days/weeks as possible. 

I received the first steroids at midnight that night, the next would be given 24 hours later. They did an ultrasound on the baby and checked for everything that had been checked for at my non-stress appointment earlier that day! The only difference was this ultrasound technician said I was hardly measuring small at all. They hooked me and the baby up to keep track of our heart rates and I was told I was having contractions about 5 mins apart and was dilated 3cm. The contractions weren’t bad, my pain level stayed at a 1 or 2, only getting up to a 3 at one point. (I assigned myself these pain levels…there was no emoticon chart like in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”! So I based it on the idea that a 10 would be me screaming bloody murder). I did not get much sleep at all that night. Nurses came in and out all night to check my vitals, to take my blood for more tests, and to read/assess the trackers on the baby and I. Tommy "slept" on a loveseat pull out couch...that he chose not to pull out :) Yes, it was funny.

Intermission video of me squawking under my O2 mask. Enjoy.

31 weeks 4 days - Wednesday November 12th

I got a catheter – not awesome – they tracked my output and found it much too low for all the fluids being pumped into me through the IV. (A sign my kidneys weren’t working right.) I was given Magnesium Sulfate to get my blood pressure down and the side effects weren’t lovely. It made me very tired, achy, with cold & hot flashes. I had inconsistent contractions all day, some I didn’t feel at all, some were up to a 3. They didn’t really hurt, they were uncomfortable, and I tried my best to breathe through them and not fight them.

I wished Tommy and I had taken a birthing class!

I got the second shot of steroids at noon Wednesday. Tommy and I cancelled all our plans for the day and weekend and we spent the day waiting to hear the doctors verdict. We were getting the feeling that I would be here longer than two days...and he finally asked straight out if I was going to be able to go home not having had a baby or if I was going to be here until the baby came. The nurse said I wasn’t going home without having a baby first. So we got that cleared up but we had no idea how long that would be. We didn’t know how long they could stall labor and keep me stable. Days? Weeks? We thought the hardest part would be the 2 days of steroids that we were trying to get through but since they gave me the second shot early I thought that was a good sign. Our friends came to visit and Tommy and Travis administered another blessing. I cannot even begin to express how much these blessings from our loving Heavenly Father brought us such peace and comfort over these days. We were markedly calm and assured knowing everything would be okay and that God had wonderful plans for our family.

It wasn’t long afterwards a Specialist came in and said she advised that we induce labor. I expressed my desires not to induce labor and asked her why she suggested we do that. I don’t remember all that she said but basically my kidneys were failing. And my blood pressure was still high (150's/80-90's). All of the liquids they were pumping into me were staying in my body, I had barely any output. She said the baby and I would only have our best chance if we separated as soon as possible. So we prayed about it. Felt like it was the right thing to do and consented. The Pitocin was put in my IV and we waited. I didn’t feel any differently and more time went by. Later our nurse came in and said she had stopped the Pitocin almost immediately after starting it because our baby hadn’t reacted well to it. (Her heart rate had dropped.)

That night around maybe 6 or 7pm my OB finally came in. This was the first time I’d seen him since the previous Friday. He said we needed to schedule a C section for that night so that we wouldn’t have to do an emergency C section in the middle of the night. His reasons weren’t small potatoes. With my blood pressure so high I could have a stroke or seizures at any moment. But I really, really didn’t want to do a c section. And I was exhausted. Tommy and I both didn’t feel comfortable rushing into a C section, it decides a lot about future deliveries and it is a major surgery that both the baby and I weren’t prepared for. We’d been getting nasty medicines pumped into us all day. We asked the Doctors to step out and prayed again. I felt assured that I would make it through the night, that my body wouldn’t suffer a stroke or seizures. We decided to spend the night trying to rest up, to try to induce labor again in the early morning and if that didn’t work, then we would schedule a C section right after. My OB was not very happy with this decision but he couldn’t do much other than say why it was dangerous to put off. We understood and felt at peace with our decision.

At 10pm that night our nurse came in and said our baby’s heart rate had dipped with each of my last three natural contractions. Upon hearing this development our OB said if I didn’t consent to a C section right now he would give us to another Doctor. We consented. He told the nurse to prep me for surgery and that he would be there in 30 minutes. After hanging up I talked to Tommy and we both voiced the feeling that the spirit was giving us: that this would be okay. It wasn’t the birth we had hoped for, but we felt like it would be okay. So we continued on with the preparations. Tommy suited up! I got a gown/sheet thing and a hair cap that no one bothered to actually put on my head right! 

They explained what would happen. I would be numbed so I wouldn’t feel any pain but I would be awake and Tommy would be with me. When the baby was out she would be given to a team of NICU doctors and her situation would be ascertained. If she was stable enough, they’d let me hold her, if not they’d take her directly to the NICU and Tommy would be able to go with her. 

My bed turned into a gurney and they wheeled me to the O.R.! The anesthesiologist talked me through what everything he was doing which I really appreciated, it kept me calm. They sat me up on a very narrow table, had me curve my spine and lean forward as far as possible (difficult to do as a pregnant woman). A nurse held me so I didn’t fall forward, which I was grateful for! Then he felt my vertebrae and found the right spot to numb me. This was disturbing to me…that he had to find the right spot. That he didn’t just know where it was. But in hindsight I was really swollen everywhere at this point. My bones weren't really visible. [I wish I would have thought to request that I be weighed sometime during this day. My entire body was full of the liquids my kidneys couldn't process, my skin stretched past far beyond what I'd ever believed possible. I was huge. HUGE.]

He numbed the area with the first shot and then put in a spinal block so that I would feel no pain from that point downwards. He laid me back down and my arms were strapped straight out on boards that popped up from the table. I felt like I would very easily fall off the very narrow table as my girth was massive and seemed extra-large and heavy with the numbness. He tested the numbness with a pin, slowly poking me down my body. It was so strange to feel the sharp pain of the pricks as he moved down with the pin and then absolutely nothing. If he pushed on me below the block I could feel the pressure clearly…but I could not feel pain. The room had many people in it all prepping and getting ready for their part. They put up a large blue curtain going straight up from my chest and finally I heard Tommy’s voice asking if he could come in and saying he was looking for me. I was so relieved! My Tommy.

I closed my eyes because I was about to hurl...

The staff directed him to me, brought him a chair so he could sit right by my head and hold my hand. A nurse very sternly told him he was not to look around or over the curtain. It is very disturbing to only be able to look up. But having Tommy there, it felt like we were going to experience this craziness together. Like we were visitors in that room, there to watch. There was no sense of time in me anymore, but I’m told it is a quick surgery; 20-30 minutes. The Doctors didn’t speak to me, everyone seemed to work around us. The anesthesiologist is the only one who talked to me, talked me through what he was doing and what was going on. The rest of the Doctors spoke to each other. They talked about coworkers and made small talk asking about the others lives. It was bizarre. The surgery was violent…I was pulled and tugged right and left. I told Tommy it felt like there was an earthquake happening...just to the lower half of my body. I tried to imagine what they could possibly be doing to explain the motion but I had no idea. At one point they said to each other that I had a ton of fluid in my stomach. Tommy and I just waited. Waited to hear a baby cry. 

At one point I heard someone say “Congratulations”, almost in passing, not any louder than the rest of their conversation. I wondered or asked “Does that mean we have a baby??” I can’t remember which. But I definitely know I called out “Is she okay?” No one responded. But moments later Tommy said he thought she was out and over on a table to my left surrounded by NICU doctors. We still had not heard a cry. Tommy was called over and I think he is the first one who said to me that she was okay. Apparently her lungs weren't developed enough to cry! But she was out!

Tommy got to cut her umbilical cord and took pictures for me! I could not see her myself even though the table was close because she was completely surrounded by Doctors and nurses. Minutes later they started wheeling her out and Tommy asked me if he should go with them or stay with me, we’d already talked it through and I told him to go with her. A nurse paused the group moving out with our girl, called out to me to look, and then briefly held her up. I saw her face and one name flashed into my mind “Clara”. And they were gone.  

And that's how our baby girl was born!

I.E. extracted.

I.E. abducted from my uterus.
The blessings that came from the many prayers born on our behalf during these crucial hospital days and during Emma's time in the NICU were obvious and palpable. Thank you! We love, love, love our little miracle baby!

11:11pm  ~  11/12/14  ~  2 lbs 14oz.  ~  16 inches long

Emma Alexis Steinkuhler
Has her daddy's hands, feet and nose.
Has her mama's eyes and chin.
And a spunk and fight all her own :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I've Dug Myself A Hole In The Sand


The last time I wrote on here was August.

Holy laziness Nakies.

Now I have 5 months of life that I want to write about and there is no way I can do it justice. Or type that much and not get lost and distracted and bored.

So I'll cover old stuff really, really fast. You won't even notice.

In August we bought a car. Our first! Her name is Charlotte. She's a Nissan Versa, and we love her. Even though I swore I'd never own a silver or gray car. I just drive with her lights on all the time and yell out the window so people know I'm there. Just kidding about the yelling part. My road rage comments stay in the car.

We also moved back into my parents house which set off a chain of events:
- Pepper living in a place other than our place.
- Pepper making messes and wreaking havoc that she hadn't done before. Rebellious stage?
- Snowy loving Pepper.
- Pepper hating Snowy.
- Pepper loving Specks.
- Specks hating Pepper.
- Specks needing his eh-space.
- Specks escaping into the night getting a whole lot of eh-space.
- Pepper loving Snowy.


- Tommy being able to continue on with a second internship with Lydig, and getting to carpool with my daddy everyday.
- Me getting to spend a couple of days for a few weeks with two of my awesome nephews while Melanie worked.
- Me getting another nanny job.
- Me swearing off nanny jobs!
- Me getting two wonderful jobs working at Great Harvest and Forever 21!
- Tommy and I both getting to become friends with our wonderful coworkers.
- Lots of yummy bread, and a greater appreciation for what clothes I already have.

This Fall we made candles out of a giant ball of wax.
We watched Burn Notice until we were all caught up and I wanted to watch ANYTHING else.
I went on a dessert-free/junk food-free diet and ended up loving healthy food even more.
We got to share our lives with my family at least a little bit every day.
Tommy and I dressed up as Godric Gryfindor and Luna Lovegood for Halloween. And for the first time, I felt too old to trick or treat.
We got to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with both of our families.
We got into a mini car crash in Utah just after Christmas (we were both completely unharmed) and met the nicest police officer, were helped out by all of our wonderful family members in the area and Charlotte was put into a lovely repair shop....where she still is! Come on, people, we're not going for ethereal perfection here, just working perfection. Whatever, we are so grateful we have insurance and that they are covering everything over our hefty deductible.

Geico, I really think I do love you.

See, wasn't that fast, whew!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 17

Day 17: Three Things I'm Grateful For [Today]

1. Opportunities to say "No" to. 

2. My dishwashing/breakfast cooking husband.

3. A sunny weekend with family.

Day 16

Day 14: Picture Of The Place I Work[ed]

The one day Jad and I took pictures of "our faces".




[this face is his favorite to make]


Fishy try #2


Angry again!


just talking

We're in a FISH TANK!


Bop Carly in the eye face

Last one Happy!
[this one is his best.]

I miss you crazy baba!

Fall Experiment

It all started with gestational diabetes

It always does, doesn't it? Someone says their mother had gestational diabetes so they cut out sweets for 2/3 of their pregnancy just in case and the Child Development Major in the room who, contrary to popular belief, did not study 4 years of "how to become a birthing machine" sits there thinking:

"Gestational diabetes? That's a thing? Crap."

I'm not prepared for that! Maybe I should practice living life without sweets now so that if Gestational Diabetes rears it's ugly head when it actually matters, I will know I can keep living without chocolate chip cookies and bananas splits because hey. I've done it already! 

I'll just nix the desserts.

...And soda.

and chips and pizza are pretty junky too and I don't really like them anyway.

And come to think of it, I really need to cut down on my breads, so no crackers. Lets do pasta/bread sparingly.

And I'm really liking alternative milk options right now, so I'll do those all the time.

And I've been eating too much peanut butter. Gotta cut down. 

And fried things really aren't that healthy so no more breaded fish etc.

And hot dogs and burgers can go.

There! Great! That'll pretty much cover...lots of stuff...maybe I should make a list of what I CAN eat. 

And it went on like this Nakies. This plot to ruin my own life.

Do I take breaks for holidays? Would it make me sick to gorge for a day? Probably. 

You get the idea. 

So here it is: 

I will be abstaining from or significantly reducing the aforementioned sweets/junky/nutritionless foods until Thanksgiving. At which point I will take stock of the effects and decide if I want to keep it up or whatnot. 

Meanwhile, it is now two weeks in to this thing and ALL I WANT are sweets/junky/nutritionless foods. I mean, to insane proportions. I crave dessert more times per day than I think I have ever eaten it to begin with. How is that logical?

And then three days ago, I got a pinterest. (Don't look it up, it's not very fun yet.) 
And guess what nakies:


Heaven on a cake stand.

Yep. It's a thing!

And no one
from Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else, 
told me about it three weeks ago when they should have!

So, I don't care what happens on Thanksgiving, there will be pavlova. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 14

Someone give me a horse!
Thanks to my wonderful SIL Melanie, I'm back on the 30 day challenge wagon. She started it up and due to my guilt, I'm back too! Check out her blog, I'm loving what she's doing with the challenge!

Day 14: Something I made recently.


strawberry - cucumber - red onion - spinach salad

And Tommy boy has been cooking up a storm as well:

homemade ice cream sandwiches. very serious.

hot dogs cooked into pancake batter = delicious hot dog cocoons

Tommy also has been "making" a house, Mr. Amazing.

A friend of ours bought a mobile home that wasn't as sound as they first thought.

It was pretty much rotten through all of the wood, 
and then the roof blew off during a wind storm,
so Tommy and some volunteer construction majors helped them rebuild over half of the house.

And topped it with a new roof.

I tell ya, it smelled really good inside.

Photo down hallway from untouched half.

The drywall served as a nice table.

And I cleared off a spot for my seat.

That's my baby!

Congratulations Jeffrey and Jennie on getting married! 
I hope you are enjoying your new place!

Nakies, these two got married and came back to Idaho and immediately set to work to finish building their house. 
Major props Jeffrey and Jennie, you guys are amazing!