Thursday, August 22, 2013

This blog entry is going to be a first since it will be written by Papa Roli detailing the events of college life now that it has finally come to an end. This will be a rather informal letter since I presently have 3 children throwing orange peels in my face and have used up the remaining glial cells I had over the last 2 months so brain functions are in survival mode. 

It all started when the Lord called us out of the Navy and into the land of palm trees and sandy beaches in 2009. With no idea of what was happening, where I would go to school, or what the future held, we packed up the vehicle with our two children and headed off to orange county, CA. 

I enrolled at orange coast college that fall and decided to pursue a degree in pre-physical therapy. I planned to eventually transfer to cal state and continue with my education since they also had a phd program for PT. I had to take the english/math placement test and remember about 30 other students there as well. The exam lasted about 1.5 hours. Here is where the fun began.

I was placed in basic algebra due to my "einsteinian" math abilities. I also placed into college english which was one of my better subjects in high school. I graduated from a small high school in northern minnesota where I do believe I managed to learn as little as possible. I never advanced past algebra 1 and never took 2 years of a foreign language. I was told that I could take a world foods class to fulfill that requirement and what guy wouldn't want to eat instead of learning french? As a result of my educational prowess in minnesota I was clueless as to what was going to happen in college but I knew that college algebra was as high as I wanted to take because I hated math and wanted to avoid scary looking hieroglyphics and greek letters. 

The first semester I took geography, communication, and ethics. I have always loved any class that is ONLY memorization, so these classes were fairly simple for me. Next semester I took math, english, cross cultural something rather, and pre-chemistry. The math class was well suited for a 10 year olds math comprehension so I made it out alive, cross cultural class was from a chilean with an accent heavier than si off the show duck dynasty so I just played on the ipad during her lectures. Pre-chem was scary in that she was talking all this nonsense about orbitals, valence electrons, and molar mass. I was about to walk out of that class but then I saw an image of my children poor and destitute on the sidewalk begging for food so I stayed. Finally, engwrish. My best class in high school, all you gotta do is read and write in your native tongue, CAKE. Um, no. I wrote up my first paper and received a D. My worst grade in college thus far and I was shocked. Apparently there is a thing called MLA and APA format that you are supposed to follow. Also, the professors don't like free writing which is what I am doing now and I think it's awesome but they didn't. I was able to stubbornly subdue my free writing grandeur, and adhere to their silly guidelines and move on to the next semester. 

Summer 2010- Here I decided to take my next math class, pre-algebra, and psychology. I went hard since the summer sessions are always condensed and while the teachers were both nice, the psychology class was a bunch of tricky word games on the exams. I actually preferred the straightforward approach of the math class and finished out the summer with a year under my belt. In the fall I took another psychology, college algebra, history, and political science. Psych is psych so it stayed the same, and the history class was a dry as a fossil but pretty easy. I want to talk about the poli sci and algebra class...

Poli sci was taught by an ex marine who was a Christian conservative and let all the liberals know it. By far the most entertaining class I have ever had and he made showing up to class an experience. He would banter with liberals to the point they would walk out of his class, and loved to make people laugh. I would go back today and pay just to sit in his class rather than a comedy show. The algebra class was a different story, I showed up and after having two math classes prior was pretty solid in algebra but had no idea how this would go. Since most kids START with this class it was pretty laid back and easy and so after getting a 98 on the first exam I stopped showing up to class. The professor said he never took attendance and so I figured I would just show up and take all the exams and the final. Well apparently most of the class had the same idea and he changed his policy when I was absent so by the time I figured out what happened I had missed too many classes and he wasn't going to pass me even though I had a high grade. I had no other choice but to withdraw, lesson learned. Never skip on a day a professor changes the policy...

Spring 2011- Transferred to Vanguard University after learning that the Cal states were in a mess financially and there would be a year waiting list just to get into the PT program. No thanks. Vanguard had a pre-pt program so I transferred over and enjoyed the Christian environment they offered. I started with general chemistry, another psych, sociology, pre-calculus, and a bible class. Yes, apparently if you go to an assembles of God school they want you to add 5 Bible courses. I was able to test into pre-calc so that saved me from my last math experience, and ended up in the top of the class. Chemistry was ridiculous, spending time in lecture, lab, and 3 hours a day studying and doing the online mastering chemistry homework. Oh well, one more semester of that nonsense and I'll be done with chemistry forever! Yay!

Summer 2011- Took chem 2 in 6 weeks. Why? I don't know. 3 hours of lecture, 5 hours of lab + studying. Oh yeah, and an elective fitness class where I got to work out...tasty college life. Then after that I enrolled at Golden west college in huntington beach for an intensive anatomy class. Why? Because I saw that image again... 8 hours a day, 950 page workbook, but I will never forget what a proximal convoluted tubule is. 

Fall- I took another psych, physiology, movement anatomy, a health class, and another bible class. Little did I know that the Lord would call us up to seattle after this semester...

The move- Literally in the blink of an eye we moved up to seattle and I transferred to the only school I could get into that quick which was Northwest University, another assemblies of God school in Kirkland just minutes from the house where we were staying. The awesome part was, they didn't offer a pre-physical therapy degree. It was either graduate on time (summer '13) with the pre-med biology or take another year with the general bio track. I had to get out of college asap so I regretfully drug my feet to my first semester of pre-med. 

Spring '12- I learned that I will have to take much harder classes, and also for another 2 summers which means no break. I was so thrilled. I enrolled in old testament history, APA research writing, microbiology, and genetics. Now, if you do not know, genetics is an upper level, senior level class. They assume that you have already taken all your science classes and have a handle on the material somewhat. It is also know as one of, if not the hardest class you can take in college. I would wake up at 4am some mornings before the exams and still would barely pass the death exams that were 6 questions long with parts a/b/c/d/e/f/g, no study guides, no bueno. How I survived I have no idea, mendel can go eat some peas...

Summer '12- Yay for another summer filled with BBQ's and relaxation! Not. I enrolled in 2 bible classes online and intensive organic chemistry at bellevue college. The bible classes were about 2 hours of work a day so not too bad but I showed up to Orgo and after a week I withdrew. No way I could do three classes, when orgo takes up your life and soul. 

Fall'12- Met my best college buddy paul who is the asian version of me and we hit it off immediately. He lived on campus and would feed me often and we would play FIFA and Madden to get our minds off the studies. I took physics 1, cell/molecular biology, general biology, environmental science, and scientific cross cultural. All of these classes came with labs...death. Nothing like taking everything backwards too, I haven't even taken calculus and I am taking calc-based physics.

Spring '13- I can almost taste the diploma. Physics 2, general bio 2, integration and development, biochemistry (before ochem?) and I enrolled in calculus online at san francisco state because NU only offered it in the fall...the online was great, a ton of homework and only 2 quizzes, a midterm, and a 4 hour final that you had to have a proctor for, but I did really well so apparently math is my thing now?

Summer '13- NU let me walk on graduation day, but I still had a 15-20 page research paper to write since I couldn't go on the class trip to Haiti because of the birth of Finnean was so close to that time. I also had to take my last bible class and organic chem. NU thought about offering it, which got me all excited because I didn't want to go to BC again but they decided against it (too much work for the professor) and I enrolled in BC for the last class of my undergrad. 

Summer of Death- I was able to knock out 80% of my online class in a week, writing a paper a day and completing other assignments because I knew what was coming... It was a delicious 25ÂșC when I gathered my 4 textbooks for organic chemistry, kissed my wife and kids goodbye and headed out to undertake the hardest class known to man. Granted, some will argue that there are classes that are conceptually harder, or more abstract, but nothing compares to the work load that is involved with intensive organic chemistry. We are talking about 5 days a week in class from 11am-3pm for lecture and 315-530 for lab. A chapter a day, with an exam of that chapter the following morning, plus quizzes online at night, lab reports + notebook, lab quizzes, lab practicals, a final every 2.5 weeks, and an ACS final that culminates it all before your last ochem 3 final. There are no days off, there are no weekends, there is no time for facebook, shopping, gassing up the truck, watching tv, clipping your toenails, shaving your beard, or seeing the sunlight. 20% of the class failed each semester and some students immediately switched their major. If you can make it through this class, you can make it through any class. 

Breakdown of an average day: Wake up at 6am. Shower and start studying for the exam at 11am. Catch the bus at 10am and study on the bus on the way to class. Take the exam at 11am. Take notes and pay attention as the instructor flies through the chapter. Most of the students have already taken ochem over the course of a regular year, some 2-3 times. Eat lunch while studying during the lectures and working on the supplemental material. 15 minute break to breathe and then lab starts. 2+hour lab everyday and after lab was completed, head out to the study room to write up a 2-3 page lab report of the experiment that was just conducted. After that was completed, take the online quiz of the material that was presented that day. After that, write up a 3-6 page prelab in your lab notebook for the next day. Catch the bus home, devour food, pass out, wake up and repeat...for 8 weeks. At a minimum I was going for 12 hours a day and at my max was doing 20. My skin was whiter than elmer's glue, I was out of touch with reality, but I knew that failure was not an option. At times I didn't know if it was possible, I had thoughts of doubt, but the Lord gave me the strength to push on. He always knew the plan He had for me and my family and knew I was capable of achieving more than what I thought was possible. As we now wait to see what the next step is, whether its a Naval officer or something else, we have learned so much over these 4 years, and have grown so much as a family. I can now breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy life with my kids for a short time before I have to be a grown up and get a job to support my family. I am also thankful for such an amazing wife who can hold the house together by herself at times when I am absent. Without her help, I couldn't do the things that I have accomplished. 

Always look for ways to serve others, surround yourself with Godly people, and they will encourage you to seek His will and achieve the impossible. For not one thing is impossible with God, but without Him, life is meaningless. 

Here is a snippet of my work...



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Journey and the arrival of Finnean Jacob

*You have been warned.. This is a birth story!!
Its also kind of long but I want to remember every detail because it is a story of the Lord walking me through a journey of blind faith with great reward at the end.

My last blog I wrote told about the faith, waiting and prayer needed in this pregnancy.
I was still at the birth center trying to figure out what I needed to do.
I had an appointment with them to help me decide the route of action and care for the rest of the pregnancy.
I was met with quite alot of resistance to any of outside medical advice I had received from the sonogram doctors, they thought the monitoring plan was too much and that I was being overly worried.
But when I asked what their plan was or how we would deal with certain situations they were so laid back and just kept telling me I shouldn't be worrying and that I would be delivering normally at the birth center. 
I agreed to an extent, because I had a feeling the baby would be perfectly healthy but for some reason I had a nagging worry about after the birth and I was really concerned how the birth center dealt with after birth complications. 
With a shrug of the shoulder she calmly said I would just be transferred and would have to pay for the midwives to go along.
That made me even more worried and determined I DID NOT want to have to get transferred in case of emergency.
So I set out to find a new doctor.
I had one request.
An All female clinic. (So that way no matter who was on call it would be a woman)
I have never delivered with a male doctor and did not want to try something new. 
The Lord led me to a perfect clinic and a doctor called me back immediately and took my case.
She was a very calm and collected person. 
I had a moment of panic because her accent was so thick it was a little hard to understand her.
But her presence brought me a peace and I stuck with her.
She was shocked that the midwives didn't tell me to transfer and that I transferred myself. 
She had a plan of action that required monitoring but she was a lot more conservative in her approach and set up a once a week monitoring as opposed to twice a week.
The weeks went by and little Man kept growing healthy and passed every test he needed to pass.
I was at peace and happy but I would still get a nagging 'What if' feeling' and an overall dreading of labor.
At 37ish weeks, I hit a wall with all the monitoring, appointments, hearing everyones different opinion about my case and an overwhelmed feeling. 
I skipped a whole week of appointments (the week of my birthday!) and decided to just relax and pray.
It was SO needed because I came back happy, confident in my body, confident in MY doctor (not all the other people's opinion) and ready to have little man.
I was so confident that everything would turn out ok and I would probably deliver the baby in the car or side of the road or something dramatic like that ;).
I was going to skip my 39 week appointment as well but I woke up with a feeling that morning that I needed to go.
I had the BPP first which is a mini sonogram to look at baby's movements, fluid levels, practice breaths and the size of his verix. He passed it all and everything looked good.
At the NST tho, (It monitors heart rate and contractions) I noticed his heart rate sounded different. When you hear it for weeks on end you know whats supposed to sound normal.
Sure enough another nurse came in and they decided to keep monitoring me and get my Doctor to come look.
They decided to send me to the hospital for better monitoring but they thought that his heart rate was dropping with every contraction. 
With the cord issues this is exactly what they were concerned about.

Went over to hospital and got hooked up again.
Grace works at the same hospital and came over to keep me company.
Little man's heart kept dropping.
Not enough to show signs of distress but enough to have my doctor and the doctor on called worried.
The Doc on call came in and told me My Doc decided to induce me the next morning as he was safer out than in. They were concerned he was compressing his cord or the cord was starting to detach.

I was shocked. and scared. 
Brooke was induced and it went super well. Just had epidural issues.
but this was not in my birth plan! ;)
I was worried we were trying to take the baby's health into our own hands and not trust the Lord.
I was worried he wasn't ready to come out and we were forcing him.
Aaron was the wonderful voice of reason and reminded me of the journey and assured me this was the Lord's plan.

I made him buy me ice cream sandwiches and ate way too many that night. 
Stayed up way too late trying to finish getting the house ready.
Still in shock this was happening and in shock I would finally meet miracle baby.

Went in at 7am and met my two nurses. I was still only a stretchy 2 (Which is very abnormal for me.. Usually I am a 3-4 by 38 weeks with the baby engaged) and he was still very high.
-stress again-

I was extremely scared of the pitocin but My doctor told me we were starting at 1 and moving up 1 unit every 45 minutes or so. Very slow going.
I still cried as I watch the pitocin start dripping into my iv.
I was terrified of the pain and terrified of what would happen.
I liked my nurses but they started to stress me out.
They had heard how fast my other kids came and kept saying this will go really fast.
I couldn't relax nor could I go into my baby brain and start focusing and letting go.
At noon I still wasn't really feeling anything.
We had been walking and bouncing and more walking.
The nurse kept saying they had to leave at 3 and were hoping I would go by then.
They were really nice... just not very good at sitting there quietly. ;)

I tried napping. didn't work because I had little tiny contractions and one nurse had to constnatly be watching the baby's heart  monitor next to my bed. 
So I watched I love Lucy on my phone. 
(That is not a wet spot on the bed... just a shadow)
My friend Reagan and Beth were supposed to be there for the birth.
I had been texting both but by 2 still nothing was happening and I didn't want two more people just staring at me waiting for labor to start. 
I was starting to feel like a circus show or something!
I am usually a person who hides and labors alone.
At 3ish, still nothing of significance had happened and I said goodbye to the two nurses and waited for my new nurse.

She walked in and instantly I felt more comfortable.
She was a wonderful older lady with the softest voice and smelled like my Grandma.
(A childhood smell that always brings a happy calm feeling. I love just sitting near my grandma and smelling her)

She was so soft and gently and never asked any questions about how or what I was feeling. 
After a little while of sitting with her I got my first real painful contraction.
I kept bouncing and watching I love Lucy.
Aaron helped me decide to get the epidural as soon as my water broke.
The Doc didn't want to break it too soon so she had been waiting for me to dilate and the baby to drop more.
At around 4 they started getting more intense and since it took an hour to get an epidural we called the guy up.
Right after we called him I crawled into bed and my water broke :) 
Aaron just smiled at me.
As they were prepping for the epidural they started getting really intense but I kept telling myself it wasn't so bad and maybe I should just skip the epidural and do it natural.
Aaron said I wasn't allowed and to go with the epidural because he knew the end would be way more intense with the pitocin.

After the epidural I felt wonderful. Of course!
The epidural guy did an amazing job and I barely felt the needle or anything at all.
I was finally dilated to about a 4-5 but his little head was still pretty high.

I still hadn't texted Reagan or Beth to come up because I was sure it would still be a while.
The time starts to get blurry but Beth somehow decided to come up and I remember her walking into the room.
My Doc came in to check on me and the baby.
He was doing great still and I was dilated to 7ish but still high head. 
She was happy with the progress and walked out of room.

All of a sudden I felt the pressure.
But I second guessed what the pressure was.
After a couple minutes the nurse asked if I was feeling pressure cuz his heart rate started dipping.
I said yes and she ran over to my side and checked. 
I was complete and he was on his way!
They ran and got the Doc back in the room and told me to start pushing.
I was shocked. 
WHAT?! I wasn't even in labor yet and reagan wasn't there!
I remember pushing maybe 3 times and Aaron said Babe keep going hes almost here.
I asked, What?! HOw?!
Sure enough one more push and his head came out, but the cord was wrapped extremely tight and then he got stuck a little. But I will never forget the moment she held him up and passed him to me.
After the longest journey he was safely in my arms.
SO beautiful and tons of hair.
I was in la-la land of happiness.

He was born at 6:14.
I remember my angel nurse saying, you are amazing! labor to delivery was only 3 hours!

Then the complication.
After half an hour my placenta wouldn't come out.
And the Doc couldn't pull at all because the cord could tear away from wall.
Then the hour mark. 
Still nothing.
The Doc was so calm and I really didn't get scared, (I think I was even texting people during that first hour)
But then she called for another doctor with a sonogram to come in and order some medicine for me to take to get the placenta to relax.
Another nurse in the room said something about if it didn't come out I had to go into surgery.

Then I started crying and wanted to hold Aaron's hand.
A guy doctor walked in with the needed equipment but I smiled inside and told myself the Lord is in control.
The two doctors now worked together to manually remove my placenta. It was FIRMLY stuck.
I think Aaron said she used small forceps to remove it from the uterine wall little bit by little bit while the other doc held the sonogram wand and helped guide her.

She was being so slow and careful and kept saying she didn't want anything to tear or cause a bleed out.
I saw sweat start pouring down her face.
But the look on her calm face made me not worry.
It finally came at and with a smile and look of relief the Doc said its all out!
I think it was almost 8pm.
I usually have beautiful placentas.
This was a monster one! haha
and the umbilical cord was barely attached to the wall.
When I saw that thing, the thing that sustained my baby's life, I was in awe of the Creator of life.
I truly was holding a miracle in my arms that was given life from God himself.
I was in awe of the journey.
In awe that the Lord put instincts in my heart that I didn't ignore.
In awe that Finnean Jacob was PERFECT in every way.
In awe that if I hadn't gotten the epidural, I would have felt everything when the Doc was manually removing the placenta. THANK THE LORD FOR EPIDURALS!!! :)
Every detail that had worried me had worked out perfectly.
Reagan  sadly missed the birth but was able to come up the next morning. But I am so thankful for her support and prayer through this journey! She was my pregnancy doula so to say :)
Auntie Beth was able to catch the birth and then brought a very hungry Mom pizza!
The thing that still has me wondering about is the chronic pain in the right side of my belly.
I had even gone to the ER at one point to see what the deal was.
Nothing was every confirmed or figured out.
One sonogram tech had said he thought the pain was associated with where my placenta was attached but the midwives, other techs and I think even my Doc, said he was wrong.
My gut told me attachment too and thats why I had concerns for after birth.
When they were trying to get the placenta out, it was most stuck where my pain was. And actually, when she was pulling there I felt pain in that exact spot thru my epidural.
it was the strangest thing and still a mystery to me but when I look back I am glad I trusted those instincts and switched to a Doc/hospital setting.
I get anxiety when I think back to what if I had stayed at birth center.

Mommas, Trust your gut!!!! and when you don't leave, it with the Lord and He will guide you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Change, faith and waiting!

This was the month our sweet baby was supposed to be born.
But instead that baby is with the Lord enjoying His presence and a perfect life.
Thankfully I am not as sad about it as I thought I would be.
I think having a baby in the belly really helps take away the sting. 
Especially a special little guy that needs all my attention already!
After several sonograms, an ER trip and lots of praying for answers we found out our little guys has three 'possible' threats.
I say possible because there are perfectly good outcomes to all of these but also extreme bad.
My placenta is a circumvallate placenta. 
The cord is a velamentous attachment and he has a umbilical cord verix! 
Triple whammy.
BUT so far he is growing beautifully.
I say beautifully because at my last sonogram the tech turned on 4d. 
oh my word.
Absolutely incredible to see him in there in such detail! 
I have never had one with the other kids so it was a huge treat.
He was already in the 80th percentile for growth so there is no concern yet. 
(I have been truly trying to eat healthy and a lot of it so he will gain lots of weight)
With all of these there is a chance of him not growing, getting enough nutrients, blood or oxygen. 
It all sounds REALLY scary so I would advise not googling anything unless you promise me NOT to come talk to me about what you find. ;)
I have banned myself from googling these terms as well. 
Starting in a couple weeks we will be monitored every week 1-2 times to make sure there are no complications and he is still healthy. 
I am at a birth center right now but we are getting a second opinion and a Doctor to start following my case as well.
He could be perfectly healthy normal baby but we have to be realistic and aware because these 3 can be a real issue sometimes.
I am at peace tho.
The Lord has a special plan for this little guy. 
After my last blog, We have continued to see the Lord calling us into a journey of faith like we have never been on.
We have been calling it blind faith or child like faith. 
We thought we had direction for the Navy.
We still sorta do.
But the Lord has asked again to follow, wait and have a blind faith!

Graduation is in May, he has one more summer class to finish and then we are done with school.
Still going to work towards going back in to the Navy but as of right now we have no idea what that means yet! 
We are going to apply for several different jobs and leave it in the Lord's hand.
We are having to leave this sweet boy, our future job, income, school details, life details all in the Lord's hand. We have no idea what these next couple of months will look like but I do know one thing.
if His eye is on the sparrow, 
He is watching over us and has a plan.

So I sit, Literally (I am exhausted!) wait and pray.
I haven't really had an appetite lately but I have been craving chicken and rice like no other.
Specifically, Korean BBQ even more specifically the spicy chicken Bul-Go-Gi.
I have to show self control or I would go eat it every night.
I am going to clean and try to bribe Aaron to take me again this weekend ;)
I have no energy in the mornings and even into the afternoons. 
I get a second wind around 4 so after the kids go to bed I have been baking.
But I have found I love going to bed with the house smelling sweet and knowing they can wake up and get themselves breakfast.
If you have any healthy breakfast recipes please share!

I did recieve a huge blessing in the last couple of weeks.
Background. Everything with Madde is a battle.
If it isn't her idea, its not happening.
 I had tried potty training various times but always gave up because I was tired, sick or finding myself getting too frustrated. 
Right when I was going thru some pain issues and needing rest,
Madde decided she was done with diapers for good and has been in underwear ever since.
She also transitioned to a big girl bed with NO issues! the first week that is.. Now she has figured out how much fun it is to get out of bed and play with bubba in his car bed.
I have not felt this relaxed with her in forever. 
She has been my most challenging child but the Lord knew I needed a rest and gave me a rest. 
She is embracing being a big girl and has really transitioned from baby to a little spunky (HAPPY) toddler!
The Lord is a balm to the soul and keeps proving over and over He has my best interest at heart and REALLY does care about the little things.
I know it was Him helping my little tot through this transition. 
For those of you that know Madde, you would agree.
It will be so much fun to bring a little brother home to her and seeing her change again.
I am so looking forward to all these changes in our life.
I ask your prayer as we wait for answers.