Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welcome Wesley!

We've added a prince to our princesses over here in Japan!
Wesley Brown Lewis joined our family at 11:14 pm on June 18, 2013. He weighed a whooping 11 lbs 5 oz and was 21.7 inches long. Like our other children, Wesley had to put a big show to come into the world, so if you want to know more about that, then read on.

 So this is me the day before my induction at 40 weeks 6 days pregnant.
 I definitely felt bigger (and was bigger) than I ever was with my girls, even though Clara was no small baby at 9 lbs even. They say that moms are the best judge of how big their babies are. I am clearly the exception. I thought Clara would be about the same as Ellie, maybe a little bigger at 8 lbs. But she was much bigger. So then I thought that this baby was definitely bigger than Clara, somewhere between 10 and 10.5 lbs. Obviously I was way off again.

I think my doctors would have induced me earlier because I was measuring so large, but I didn't ask for it because I wasn't keen on being induced and I was so convinced that because he was so big I'd go into labor early on my own. I had my membranes stripped three times without lasting effect, and I was getting increasingly frustrated because I would have regular contractions, but never strong enough, that would die out after several hours. Or I would have strong contractions that were irregular. Wesley was apparently facing posterior, so the midwife had me doing things to try and get him to face the right way. And my cervix was very posterior so his head wasn't putting pressure down on top of it. It was all so frustrating for me. I tried all kinds of things to make him turn and to increase the effectiveness, strength, and frequency of my contractions.

But most importantly I had Ben give me a priesthood blessing about a week before my due date. I felt a lot of peace in the Lord's counsel to be patient and know that I would have the strength to do what was necessary. It was also nice to hear that He was pleased with the way I had born my "afflictions" with cheerfulness (because sometimes I didn't feel very cheerful about how incredibly uncomfortable I had become by this point).

So my due date came and went and I had an appointment that Friday in which my wonderful midwife was shocked to still see me pregnant, as was everyone else in the OB/GYN clinic. She scheduled an induction for Tuesday. We went to the beach on Monday and it was wonderful to spend some time just having fun and being together as a family and not stressing about if I was going to go into labor or not.

Tuesday morning we arrived at the Labor and Delivery Ward at 8 am and waited for our consultation with the doctor on duty. (*quick note about how the hospital here works: you can have your maternity appointments with any of the doctors or midwives in the system-there are 5 or so I think, but when it comes time to deliver, you get whoever is on duty). Our bishop, who is a labor and delivery nurse though he wasn't on duty that day, came by after a meeting he had and assisted Ben in giving me a blessing. I was again reminded to be patient and that I would be given strength according to my faith in Christ.

Dr. Sischy (the only doctor I hadn't met yet, ironically enough), came in and checked everything out and advised cytotec first to get my cervix more into place. So we did that and waited 4 hours. I sat and rocked on the birthing ball to help get everything in place. I did squats. I When he came back we started pitocin, and the relatively regular contractions I was experiencing started to solidify and get stronger. I was excited. I labored on the birthing ball. I labored reading Harry Potter 4, and playing Candy Crush. I labored on my hands on knees on the bed. I started trickling amniotic fluid, so Dr. Sischy came back in and checked me. I was at a 5 and as he went to check Wesley's head, my water really broke. Then he stated that now I was a 6! Everything seemed to be going right on track. And dang, did my water break. As I sat up from the cervical check fluid just kept gushing. It was pretty impressive. Contractions definitely got a lot stronger at this point. A lot.

I had originally wanted to do this without an epidural because I had felt that with my previous two that the epidural combined with my lack of advocacy for myself and slowed down my labor before. But I felt that I needed to get one this time around. It just felt like the right choice. So in came the anesthesiologist. He said he was impressed with how I was handling labor, and that made me feel good. It was about an hour after the epidural was in that the new doctor on duty, Dr. Mullin, came in and checked me and said that Wesley's head was still a little high, but that I could start pushing. So push I did. And push and push. And after an hour she checked me again. He had descended, but his head was still turned and a little acynclitic (meaning that like Clara, his head was tilted to his shoulder). She felt that I could keep pushing and perhaps get him to descend far enough to use forceps or vacuum to turn his head and then he would deliver. So then we pushed on hands and knees (by the way, it is incredibly difficult to be on your knees when they are essentially numb). we pushed lying on one side, and then on the other. I really felt like we tried everything to help him turn and descend. I prayed everytime I pushed, telling the Lord I was doing everything I could and to please help me if this was the right option for Wesley's birth but that as far as I was concerned this was all in His hands.

When Dr. Mullin came back in she said he had moved down some, but not enough for an assisted delivery and that they were now concerned about shoulder dystocia because clearly this was a bigger baby than we thought. All things considered, we decided that a c-section was the best choice for a safe delivery for both me and baby Wesley.

I cried. I so did not want to recover from a c-section. But again, I remembered my blessing and I really felt at peace with it all. I knew I had tried everything, but that this was, quite literally, bigger than me.

 So began all the prepping for the c-section. Here is Ben in his "bunny suit" as they called it waiting to come into the OR. They get me all prepped for surgery, and upped my epidural and then Ben came in and sat by me, camera ready to capture our son's birth. Ben says it was really fascinating to watch Dr. Mullin cut me open, and I think it would have been cool to see, but probably not on myself. It was interesting enough to feel things being tugged around, but not having any pain. Then I listened intently as Dr. Mullin called for a stool, and apparently got up on the bed as well, trying to push Wesley's had back up into my uterus she could pull him out. She told me later that she thought she sprained her wrist trying to get him out. It was never frantic or scary, just that he was big. She said there was no way his head was getting through my pelvis. So out he came and after some coughs and suctioning he began to cry quite loud. I heard them announce that he weighed 5.125 kilos, and I knew immediately that he was over 11 lbs (we'd done the math earlier). We later found out that he currently holds the record for biggest baby born at this hospital in a very long time. I could look over and see him and as soon as he was breathing fine they brought him over for me to kiss while Dr. Mullin stitched me up (she did a fabulous job, btw).
 He was perfect
Bless Ben, I think he was almost as exhausted as I was.

 I had the shakes really bad coming down off the anesthesia. That was the worst. I vomited what little was in my stomach. But as soon as I was in the recovery room and the shaking had gone down, I was able to nurse sweet Wesley right away. And he took to it like a pro. He nursed for an hour and I was so content to just hold him. Everything after that was smooth sailing. Neither of us had any additional complications sometimes associated with c-sections and/or large babies.

Wednesday morning Ben went and got my mom and the girls. Ellie was so excited to see baby Wesley that she rushed into the room, right past him in his bassinet looking for him.

And so though it wasn't the birth I had imagined, and the time I had hoped for, it didn't matter in the end. Our sweet Wesley had arrived safe and healthy. And while recovery from the c-section has been no picnic, I'm so grateful for a body that heals quickly and properly and for the endless help and support I get from Ben.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sakura 2013

The cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloomed a bit early this year. So we headed out on a Saturday afternoon to have a picnic and take pictures before they all blew away and covered the ground in pinkish hued "blossom snow" as Ellie likes to call it.

  It was pretty chilly that day, but there were sticks to be collected so the girls didn't seem to mind.

And here's our cute family!

And our silly girls!

And a parting shot of this great daddy!

Oh, one more picture. It's not as pretty as it was in real life, especially since the day was very overcast, but here is the road we drive to go home.
We are so excited to bring in spring in such a beautiful way!


This year we made a concerted effort to talk about the Holy Week during, well, the Holy Week. I got a lot of our ideas from this post. I think it went pretty well because Eleanor especially seems to understand more about who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
 The most touching was on Easter Sunday when we watched this video that recaps the highlights of the Holy Week, particularly the Atonement and Resurrection. As we watched the portrayal of the soldiers whipping Christ, Ellie exlaimed, "What are they doing?! I don't like this part!" I held her and replied, "I don't like this part either. But Jesus us loved us so much He was willing to suffer and die for us. And after he died for, what happened?" She beamed and said, "He was resurrected!" It was a nice moment to share my testimony of Christ's love with my daughter and to see it reflected in her.

But of course we also did some traditional fun things like dye eggs and go to an Easter egg hunt party.
Here's the photographic evidence.

Our ombre eggs turned out lovely, except purple which was unceremoniously dumped into the dye cup.

 Here we are post egg hunt with our friend Robert.

His mother is in our ward and his father passed away last November. Ben has been their home teacher almost since we moved here, and we have been giving them a ride to church for close to 2 years now and Ellie and Robert love playing together, despite their one year age difference and the fact that Robert speaks considerably more Japanese than English. Kazuko, Robert's mother, is such a wonderful woman and I am so grateful to know her! We feel that this special family is one reason we are here in Japan and why we will be here for some time.

Hello Blog!

Things have been busy at the Lewis house. In February Ben went to Korea with the Drama Club for the Far East Festival in Seoul Korea. It's the "drama competition" for all of the DoDEA high schools in the pacific area. He had a great time, and brought back these awesome cat ears for the girls. They LOVE them!
We did fun things like make brownies while he was gone. And we ate them all, I think...At least I have the cutest little helpers.

We went ice skating again as a special treat since Ellie kept her pull up dry all through the night for a week! She is now fully potty trained! She also has become quite adapt at skating around the rink by herself!

 Clara and I enjoyed eating our favorite Japanese convenience store ice cream treat while Ellie and Ben skated. It's basically a waffle filled with ice cream and a layer of chocolate.

In February we also cast the spring musical! We will be doing Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella. We're very excited, and the girls love to run around the house now singing bits of the songs. My favorite is when Ellie sings the Stepsister's Lament "Why would a fellow want a girl like her, a frail and fluffy beauty? Why can't a fellow ever once prefer a solid girl like me!?"
Unfortunately, Ellie got a little to exuberant during rehearsals and fell off a platform backstage and split open her chin. Of course this was a week before a modeling job, but it healed up okay and they said it wasn't a big deal. Here is Ellie proudly showing off her war wounds:
She also achieved another first in her life-falling asleep at the table. She was supposed to be finishing her lunch. She had been wrapped in a blanket because she said she was cold. Luckily it also served well as a pillow.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ice Skating in Yokohama

Sometime in the last month or so Ellie has gotten it into her head that she wanted to go ice skating; I think it was from reading "Angelina Ballerina Ice Skating" (or something like that). At any rate, she's been asking and asking, and we know that there is a small outdoor rink in nearby Yokohama. We thought about going during Christmas Break, but the girls were sick nearly the whole time.
Suiting up
Finally, this Saturday we were able to go. Eleanor was ecstatic. I was a little worried that she would get out there and be afraid that that would be the end of our adventure.  But she LOVED it! They had skates small enough for her (though not for Clara) that were double bladed, so balancing on them was much easier. And she even got to wear a helmet (she kind of loves wearing helmets). Ben took her around the first few times, hold her hands and helping her figure it out.

Clara standing on the ice admiring the twinkly lights.

 Then Ben sat out with Clara, who just enjoyed being out and about and admired by all the Japanese girls there. I took Ellie around and she was a riot!

She even started wanting to do it alone and she did pretty good, more or less walking on the ice. When Ben went back out with her she did a full lap all on her own.
We had great fun, that was almost spoiled by a miscalculation of Yen on my part, but miraculously I found another 1000Y in my bag (which is about $8, just as an FYI). Anyway, we completed the evening by getting dinner, at least for the girls, at a "kombini" or convenience store. They are everywhere in Japan! Ellie and Clara both thought it was the greatest treat. Sure made us feel like good parents instead of like a mom that can't count.