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The birth of Ellie Noelle!

I know it has been forever since I posted anything but I figured the birth of my first daughter should be something I share. I didn’t have a very normal labor and delivery story. It certainly didn’t go the way I had suspected. I was pretty terrified about giving birth but any scenarios I came up with were no where near what happened! So I guess I will share my story now.

We were staying at the base where I was to give birth just waiting to go into labor. It was a very relaxing/boring/anxious time. Normally people work, get their houses ready, and just generally live their lives until they go into labor. But not us! We stopped everything and moved into a hotel to sit and wait and wonder “Is today going to be the day?” 

I woke up December 17th at 3 am with pretty painful contractions. I started timing them. They were coming about every 5 mins for an hour. Usually that is a sign that you are going into labor. I woke Pat up and took a shower. I walked over to the labor and delivery to get checked. I was monitored and checked to see if I was dilated. I think I was 3 cm but they told me I was not in active labor and sent me to go walk to get labor started. I tried relaxing, showering, sleeping, walking. I tried everything and the contractions kept coming. They were getting more painful. I went to get checked again and there was no change.

Later that night I was having super painful contractions every 4 mins for a couple hours. I was in tears I was in so much pain. I came back to the hospital. They let me stay the night and gave me some morphine to help me sleep. Of course during the night my contractions slowed to every 6-8 mins. I thankfully was able to get some sleep. That morning I was checked. Still 3 cm! How could I not have had any progress?!?! The doctor offered to induce me the morning of the 18th but I declined. I wanted to go into labor naturally. The contractions were not that painful plus I was starving. I hadn’t eaten a meal at all the day before. I went back to our room to eat breakfast. It was delicious!

About an hour later my morphine wore off. And oh man was it terrible!!! Painful contractions every 3.5-4 mins. I was hysterically crying. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t progressing but I was in so much pain. Finally I just couldn’t take it. I went back to labor and delivery just hysterically crying. Of course they knew who I was at that point. They rushed me back to check me again. I was 4 cm!!! That means I was far enough along to be admitted! I was so relieved! They immediately took me to the delivery room and ordered my epidural. 

Once I had my epidural in place, everything was amazing. I am so thankful for modern medicine. I don’t think I would have made it through this whole thing without that medicine. I was in no pain. Pat and I were just sitting waiting for me to progress. My contractions were still coming strong and steady. We took some naps. We watched tv. Everything was very calm. Nothing like what you see in the movies. 

I stalled at 5 cm after having my water broken so the doctor ordered pitocin (that is a drug to help you contract and progress). My contractions started coming about every 2 mins and were very strong. The only bad thing was the babies heart rate went too high. The doctor got concerned so she discontinued the pitocin. I was then 7 cm. I loved the progress! 

After that things started to move faster. I finally was progressing at a good rate. The problem started when I spiked a fever. That combined with the high baby heart rate meant that I had an infection in the amniotic fluid. They immediately started me on IV antibiotics. They said the real cure for it would be to give birth.

Well the time came. I was finally dilated enough that I could start pushing. I will not go into much detail about that part other than it was exhausting! I was pushing for over an hour and the baby was not coming down the way she should. The doctor suggested we use a vacuum to help her come out. I was so tired at that point that I would do anything to get her out. The vacuum did the trick. She started coming out. Her head came out. Then something went wrong. For some reason the baby decided to turn 180 degrees. So instead of facing the floor she was suddenly facing the ceiling. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what was happening. I continued to push but she wasn’t budging. Her shoulders had gotten stuck. The doctor had to make a quick decision to save the babies life. He reached in and pulled out an arm. Unfortunately that broke her little arm. But it did the trick! She was out! 

She was immediately taken over to another part of the room where a pediatrician was waiting. I had no idea he was even in the room. She started crying which was a huge relief. They also said “Wow this is a big baby!!” In my head I was thinking wow I had a 7 lb baby. They then said she was over 9 lbs!!! I had a 9 lb baby inside me?!?! No one including all the doctors had any idea she was so big. That is why I had such a hard time progressing in labor and why she got stuck. Everything was so scary! They said they think her arm is broken (which I already knew because I felt it break…pretty horrible). They had to take her away immediately to get an x-ray and to place an IV catheter and collect blood work. Pat went with her while I had to stay back to be worked on. They were gone for almost 2 hours! They had to place an IV and collect blood work because of the infection I had during the labor. They needed to make sure that she didn’t have an infection. The IV was so they could start her on antibiotics until they got the results back from the blood test. 

It took forever but they got everything they needed. We went back to our room where I was finally able to spend time with my daughter. It was a crazy experience but I was so happy to have such a beautiful daughter, my Ellie Noelle. 

While we were in the hospital, Ellie’s vitals were taken every 4 hours 24/7. Apparently they were looking for any signs of infection i.e. a fever. Thursday morning the pediatrician came in to speak with us. He was saying all the test were coming back great and that we will most likely go home Friday morning. We were so excited! We couldn’t wait to bring our girl home. Well of course something else had to go wrong. When her vitals were checked Thursday night she had a fever! It was over 100.4 which in a newborn is a very big deal! 

The pediatrician was called immediately. He said we needed to run more blood work, a urine test, and even a spinal tap. My poor two day old needed to get a spinal tap?! What was happening? He explained that if it was an infection of some sort newborns had no way of keeping it in one area of the body. He said the last place it would go would be spinal fluid so that would show a lot. We were pretty terrified with all this new information. We thought we were going home in 12 hours and now everything had changed!

Luckily (knock on wood, fingers crossed, any other lucky superstition) all of her tests have been coming back normal. The biggest relief was the spinal tap. That came back completely clear. Now they say the earliest we will go home is Sunday. The rest of the lab work will be back Saturday night. As long as they look good her IV catheter will be removed and all medications stopped. I am hoping everything comes back just fine. She hasn’t had a fever since Thursday night (the fever was gone a few hours after they found it). She is eating great! She is gaining weight. She is sleeping well. She is pooping and peeing. She is perfect! She is the strongest person I know! To go through all of this just being hours old and still be so amazing is just mind boggling. Thank you to all our friends and family all across the world for all the support and kind words. You will never know how much it means to our small family. We love you all! And thanks for reading this super long story!

Not much has happened since I last posted. It has been pretty cold and rainy every weekend and we have not gotten out much. Hopefully as summer approaches the weather will get nicer and I have will more exciting things to post about!  Since we can’t do things outside, most of our free time has been taken up by getting pictures put on walls, buying/putting together furniture, cleaning, and changing this house into a home. We are now very close to what we want the house to look like and I am very pleased with everything so far! I can’t wait for people to come visit!

We did go to the Cherry Blossom Festival (I think it was on April 7th) which was held on the base. I think over 10,000 people came through. The base is opened up to all the local people. There were races, booths set up with food, booths set up with crafts, booths set up with beer! My husband played through out the day. I went to all of his performances. The bands did great!! They also had Japanese groups like they had a drumming group which was really cool! It was freezing cold that day so we did not spend as much time out there as we had hoped.  The cherry blossom trees or Sakura are so beautiful. They only bloom for about a week or so each year but they are so amazing when they do. Then when all the blossoms fall off the trees it looks like it is raining flower petals. I love it. The grass is getting greener and the trees are starting to sprout leaves! That means good weather is coming (or at least that’s what I hope!!).

When something more exciting happens, I will be sure to post!

 

Happy April!!

We have gotten our furniture!! It was such a glorious day! Now we are just waiting for the loaner furniture to get picked up so we can really start decorating. The moving company did a pretty good job. Only 2 things were broken. A bookshelf was broken to pieces and a corner of my dresser was broken off. That corner should be able to be glued on pretty easily though. They also couldn’t get our box springs up the stairs. They were only a couple inches too small. My husband figured out a way to saw it in half then bracket it back together upstairs. The plan worked great. He did all the sawing and I screwed all the brackets into place. Now we have all our furniture in the correct places! By the end of this week, the guest bedroom will be fully set up so bring on the visitors!!!!!!

The other night we went out to eat at a Shabu Shabu restaurant. It was delicious! It is almost like a fondu place. You can choose from different broths. Some are spicy and some are tangy/soy based. I personally liked the spicy one! Then you can order a ton of locally grown veggies. All of which were so good. Then you can order different thinly sliced meats. They have beef cuts and pork cuts. You can also get ground chicken with herbs. It’s almost like a chicken meat ball. You put all things into the broth and “swish swish” them around (that is where the name Shabu Shabu comes from). Everything comes out so tasty. This is definitely on the list for when people visit! It is also on the list of our favorite foods so far!

Disclaimer: Any pictures posted on this next part are not for children’s eyes. They depict parts of the male genitalia that parents might now want youngsters to see!

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Kawasaki Fertility Festival called Kanamara Matsuri (translated to Festival of the Steel Phallus). It was very interesting and fun. There were lots of food venders, candy venders, wood sculptors, a parade, drumming, drinking, costumes. I don’t think I can really describe it with words. Here are some pictures from our adventure.

Woman working at a booth

wo

Creepy child-like no-faced person

Wood carvings

A booth

The big, pink penis

This was at the Shrine

The steel phallus at the shrine

Theres that guy

During the parade, the pink penis was being carried by men in womens clothing

No parade is complete without Naked Batman

Candy

 

Earthquakes

I have found something I do not like about Japan. Earthquakes. I have now experienced 2 of them. 3/14/12 around 9 pm and 3/16/12 around 4 am. Both of them I was in bed with my husband. Both weren’t very strong and didn’t last very long but are very scary anyway. I don’t think I will ever get used to them. Both times we just froze and laid there until the shaking stopped. Afterward, it took me a long time to fall back to sleep. I know I live in Japan and it’s very unstable since we are on the Ring of Fire but I hope that they don’t get worse. I can deal with a little shaking. Nothing more, please. Thanks!

My original plan for living here was that I wouldn’t be working since my husband and I want to travel as much as possible. Now I see that was crazy thinking. I am so bored!! I need something to get me out of the house. I need something to help me meet people. I am not good at just making friends. Too bad there is only one animal hospital and they are not hiring until after the summer….maybe. That does not make me happy. I love working with animals and if I can’t do that, I have no idea what I want to do. Hopefully I will find something soon. Sitting at home is not my thing.

I don’t mean to complain because I do love Japan. It is beautiful here. I can’t wait to get out and see more. My husband has been very busy with work so we haven’t had much chance to get out since I have been back. Once I have some more stories I will be back!

So it has been a while since I last posted and a lot has happened since then. My Grandmother passed away after a long fight with Renal Cell Cancer. She had been sick for a long time but I still was not prepared for this news. She has always been such a strong woman. She was the matriarch of our huge family. With 8 kids of her own, 27 grandkids, and 24 great-grandkids, she was the head of all. Whether you called her Mom, Grandmom, Granny, GG, Betty, she was a very special woman to everyone who knew her.

Upon hearing the news, I knew I had to get home for the funeral. She has always been a huge part in my life. When I got to a family party, first on the priority list is to stay hi to Granny. Any big news happening must go to Granny first. I had to be there for her. I had to be there for my family. I bought a ticket to leave on leap day and come back 10 days later.

The morning of February 29th I woke up to snow. Not just a little snow but a lot of snow. I started freaking out. I had no idea it was supposed to snow. What if the shuttle doesn’t run to the airport? What if my flight is delayed/cancelled? Living in such a mountainous area, I need to be ready for weather to change quickly. That was something I learned that day. Thankfully, the shuttle ran on time. There was no delay or cancellation because it wasn’t even snowing at the airport! I got all checked in no problem.

The flight was rough. I got air sick which has never happened to me and I do not wish on my worst enemy. But I landed in Chicago on time and the flight was otherwise not very eventful. Because of bad weather in Philly, my next flight was delayed a bit but that was okay because I got to sleep on the floor at my gate for about an hour. It was glorious! After departing in the afternoon of the 29th, I arrive in the evening of the 29th! So I got 2 Leap Days! How many people can say that?

I got to my parents house, ate some food, then passed out. A couple of days of jet lag followed but all worth it to be with my family. My Grandmother’s funeral was a great celebration of her life. Held in her church with family and friends surrounding her. It was amazing to see how much life, happiness, and love came out of one woman’s life. Of course I have to mention my Pop Pop as well since he did have a huge part in making those lives as well. I am happy that my Granny is back with her husband and her son, Dan. She has missed them so much.

After my Granny’s funeral, the rest of my trip was pretty calm. I finally got over my jet lag. I got to see a couple of friends. I got to hang out with my sister and brother. I got to see my parents a lot. I got to babysit my 6 month old niece. I celebrated my birthday (which is today) with my twin cousin (her birthday is also today), some other cousins, my siblings and parents, and an aunt. It was a great time! So thankful I had this time with my family.

Now it was time to make the trip back to Japan. I was very much looking forward to this because I missed my husband and dogs very much! Super early in the morning, my Dad dropped me off at the airport. My first flight to Chicago was super non-eventful and was right on time. When I got there, I got a delicious breakfast since I had about a 4 hour layover. After breakfast, I went and sat at my gate that was on my ticket. Since I still had about 3 1/2 hours till my flight, I decided to walk around. For kicks and giggles, I decided to check the departure board to see my gate. To my surprise, I saw my gate had been changed to a different terminal and had a flashing message that said “delayed flight. departing at 4 pm.” I thought this was very strange since I was supposed to leave at noon!

I went to the new gate which was down an escalator, through a super long hallway with crazy neon lights on the ceiling, up another escalator and down the terminal some. This gate was boarding another flight but I decided to ask the man working there if he knew of the gate change. He informed me it was back at my old terminal and if I have questions there is also a help desk in that terminal.

I was very distraught at this time. I try calling my husband but am unable to reach him other than text message. I try explaining my situation and he finds online that my gate has been changed and the delay is, in fact, true. I then decided to rush back over to the first terminal to go to the help desk.

The line there is about 50 people deep and not moving at all! My husband finds another flight that leaves in 30 minutes. I risk my spot in line to go to the departure board. This flight does leave in 30 minutes from the terminal I just left! I make a split decision and take off running. Down the escalator, through the forever long hallway, up the escalator, down the terminal and run up to a desk.

The first man I talk to says there is no room on the flight and I should have come earlier. As I am walking away he says “It would be impossible to get you on here with checked luggage” Thank goodness I decided only to bring carry ons!!! I explain this to the man and he tells me to go to the main desk and maybe they can help me. I run over and explain my problem. Tell them I have no checked luggage and boom they hand me a ticket!! I immediately walk on the plane, find my seat, and silently smiled to myself. I just saved myself 8 hours in an airport waiting for my fight. I have never been so happy in my life.

The flight was great. I watched a bunch of movies. I saw Canada and Alaska. They are beautiful from the air. I didn’t get sick. I arrived in Japan 6 hours before I would have if I had taken the first flight. Now the kicker after all that was trying to get on the shuttle back to our house. My husband was on a shuttle meeting me at the airport. When I got out of customs, I ran outside and found the bus we should be taking. This bus leaves at 4 pm. I get there right in time but my husband isn’t there yet. He is getting dropped off at the terminal as I get to the bus. I try to get them to wait for him but they just keep saying “It’s 4 pm. We must leave.” I tell them to just leave without us if they can’t wait 5 minutes for him to get to us. As I say that, they shut the doors and drive away.

That was very upsetting to me. The next shuttle doesn’t leave for another 4 hours and it takes 2 hours to get back so 6 hours later I would get home. I was so exhausted after all my traveling. When I meet back up with my husband, we make a decision to get the trains home. We would be able to start our journey home right then! I am so happy that is what we decided to do. We got home before we would have even left the airport with the shuttle! The trains were very easy to navigate. The train employees were very helpful and nice. We got home with no problems!

I am a very lucky lady to have been able to be in the States with my family when I needed to be then get home in such a way. It is always an adventure traveling with the McGaters! At least the bathrooms worked!!!

Now today is my birthday. I am in my home with my husband and 2 dogs. That’s the best present I could ask for.

I am very jet lagged so I have been up since about 2:30 am. It has given me a great time to write but it’s going to be a rough few days. Adjusting to a 14 hour time difference 3 times in 4 weeks is very hard!! Hopefully I won’t have to adjust again for a while! Now off to make some birthday breakfast!!

Mobile in Japan!

We have a car and a date that we are moving into a house! It has been an exciting week.  We found out on Friday that we will be moving into a 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath house at the beginning of March. We could not be happier! Getting out of this hotel and breaking our pups out of doggie prison is what we have been waiting for! It’s going to be so nice to have an oven and larger kitchen.

We also got a car today. It is a 1996 Honda Logo. I can’t believe a car that old could be in such good driving shape. It is nothing fancy (it doesn’t even have a radio).. But we only need to get to work and back home. Everywhere else we go we can take the train or walk.

It is very nerve wrecking to drive on the left side of the road. It’s easier to get the hang of than I originally thought but once you are in the driver’s seat the road makes a lot more sense. The hardest part is remembering the turn signal is one the right side of the steering wheel and to shift into drive or reverse is on the left. That really messes with the head.

Another exciting adventure that happened over the weekend is my first trip to Tokyo. We went to a neighborhood called Shibuya. It reminded me a lot of New York City. There is an enormous intersection of 5 huge roads. Millions of people cross this intersection everyday. When the light changes to let people go through, it is insanity. People swarm the streets like ants. People crossing every which way. One difference from America is that everyone is very calm during all of this. No one is pushing or shoving. No cutting people off or yelling. Once the light changes back, the streets are clear for cars.  I have found that Japanese follow traffic lights more strictly. Everyone seems to be very patient to get where they are going.

The trains are amazing! They are very clean. The bathrooms are amazing in the train stations. Very clean. The trains are pretty easy to figure out. It can be very overwhelming but most signs are in Japanese and English. You just have to remember the name of the station you are going to. The train cars get full during rush hour times in highly populated areas. But again, no one pushes or shoves to get on the trains. Everyone stands in line on the platform and very calmly walk onto the train. The train cars can get very full! To the point where people on the outside are pushing people inside to get the doors to close. It’s pretty amazing to watch.

The stores out in town are very different from American stores. I love to just walk around every store trying to take in everything. Most stores are more than one story high. The thing about Japan is that space is a premium. There is not a lot of room to build so you must build up. Most stores I have been in are 3 to 4 stories high. Or there is a food market on the bottom floor, shopping on 2-3 floors then a restaurant on the top floor. I think it’s going to be impossible to see everything while I’m here!

Anyway, one store we went into had shelves up to the ceiling and isles so small I had to turn sideways to get down. You could buy anything there. Dress clothes, liquor, beauty products, bikes, porn, food. You name it, they had it. I have not seen a blank wall yet. Everything has some sort of advertisement or poster. Even on the ceiling as you go down the escalator had a poster on it. I guess it goes back to space being a premium. If there is space available, you better use it!

I am now in a cultural Japanese class. It is great. I am learning general phrases to help get us around. The instructor is a Japanese native but knows more about the English grammar and language than I ever will. He comes from a line of samurai’s dating back for thousands of years. He has been training in martial arts since he was 5 and now he is 62 (I thought he was in his 40’s!). This guy can break wooden baseball bats with his shin! I don’t think I have ever been so impressed with someone. He has many interesting stories. In the middle of teaching he will go off on a 20 minute story about his life. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

Okay this is a long one so I will stop there. We are doing great and loving it over here! Can’t wait for people to start visiting!!

One Week Anniversary!

Its been 1 week since arriving in the beautiful country of Japan! I have learned a couple of things so far:

1) Technology is amazing!! Skype, facebook, cell phones, email. I have been able to talk to my family pretty much everyday so far. I am so thankful I am able to keep in touch so easily!

2) It takes a lot long to get adjusted to a 14 hour time change than anticipated. Yesterday was the first time I was able to sleep all the way through the night and wake up at a reasonable hour.

3) Boarding your dogs (especially when they are crazy, hyper dogs) is very tough. I hate seeing them like that and cannot wait until we get into a house and our babies are back with us.

4) Learning the train system from a power point and a man who has no idea how to explain things can make something that is normally pretty easy to seem like an impossible feat.

5) The small parts of Japan that I have experienced are beautiful and the people are friendly. I cannot wait to explore more!

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