Saturday, December 31, 2011

Feeling the Love!


Thanks to everyone who has sent words of encouragement! We've been showered with love and appreciate all the notes, emails, texts, flowers, yummy treats, and gifts. I decided to make this board and hang it in Drake's room. (Yes.... I just spilled the name!!)
Everytime I browse through it's contents I'm moved to tears. We know our little guy is covered in prayer. The Lord is near to him, and near to us. God has been working through
others to remind us that he is there, always. He knows our little ones name.... and now you do too :)


Isaiah 43

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,

I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photo Shoot of Mom, Dad, & Baby P



Before all this happened, I was sort of anti-belly/maternity photos. Knowing that we don't know how long we have with our little guy, my outlook totally changed. I decided I wanted to capture as much of this pregnancy as possible. Of course, still desperately hoping I get to hold him in my arms and take all sorts of photos of him once he's here! My wonderful friend, Jess, willingly agreed to take some photos for us. I'm so happy with how they turned out and we will treasure them forever!






Friday, December 16, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

Many of you have probably already heard, but our little guy in tummy is currently experiencing heart failure. In case you did not see the email I sent out last week (sorry if I accidentally missed you or did not have your email!) here is the lowdown:

After noticing some concerns on one of our ultrasounds, one of our physicians referred us to a pediatric cardiologist here in Santa Barbara. This was back in mid-November, and we couldn't get into the pediatr ic cardiologist until December 6th. Initially, they didn't think it was anything urgent, so the wait was not a problem.

On December 6th, we had our appointment with the pediatric cardiologist. It was during this appointment, that we quickly realized there were some significant concerns regarding our baby's heart. I can't even begin to explain the emotions that flooded as we sat there and tried to digest what he was saying. With the equipment he had, he couldn't exactly tell what was going wrong, but he could see that the heart was not functioning properly. He told us he believed our baby was "in danger" and asked us if we could get to UCLA soon. We said of course, that we would do whatever we needed to do. He asked us to wait for a few minutes while he went to call his colleguages at UCLA. He came back in about 15 minutes and told us he had booked an appointment for us at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. A little alarming that it was all happening SO fast, but we were also very glad there would not be a long wait for us to get more information.

That afternoon was very emotional, especially for me. I had asked the doctor if there was a chance our baby might not make it, and he said yes. The answer I DID NOT want to hear. I was heart broken and terrified. How is it that this was happening? I've known lots of people who have had pregnancy complications, birth defects, and scares a long the way. BUT how was it that all of a sudden MY baby might not make it?? At 26 weeks, I really thought we were in the clear. Jon was very supportive and comforting that day. Although he was also nervous, he went into caretaker mode and did his best to keep me staying positive. Neither of us slept much that night.

The next morning we left at the crack of dawn to beat L.A. traffic to make it to the appointment at UCLA Hospital. There we had a two hour appointment with ultrasounds and fetal echocardiograms with the Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at UCLA. The entire team there was wonderful and made the experience as pleasant and peaceful as one can ask for under the circumstances. This time, I was in "crisis" mode and had my social worker hat on. I was prepared to hear bad news, ask questions, take notes, and just try to take it all in. It must've been by the grace of God alone that I remained calm and totally at ease for the hour I had to lay on that table in various awkward positions while they looked at Baby P.

Then they shared their findings. Our baby is currently experiencing heart failure. Although his growth is on track and all his other organs look good, his little heart is not functioning properly. I won't go into the extremely technical details, but feel free to ask if you want to know more. Basically, the Dr. said that there was no technical diagnosis for what he was seeing. It wasn't consistent with any heart defects he has seen in the past. The gist of it is that the baby's heart ventricles were thickened (causing weakness) and the valves are not opening and closing correctly to allow for proper blood flow. His heartbeat has remained strong despite this and all the structures of the heart are in the correct place and well formed. However, since his heart is already beginning to fail him, they are very concerned that it may get worse as he grows.

The doctor at UCLA said that in fact he expects it to get worse, but there is always a small chance it may get better. There is nothing medicine can do at this point. No in-utero surgeries and it is too early to take him out, especially given his fragile condition. There is a significant chance our little guy may not make it out of the womb. There is no way to tell, we just need to wait and continue to monitor him as long as he remains alive in my belly. If he gets progressively worse then they will likely operate via C-Section and take him out early. If he stays the same, they want to wait as long as possible to deliver him with the hopes that he will continue to grow stronger. The doctor optimistically pointed out that sometimes babies do amazing things and just get better with no explanation- he has seen that happen too.

No one has any idea what has caused this, it may just be a genetic abnormality. Which means there could be other underlying genetic conditions that have just not shown up yet, but so far all the genetic testing has come back clear. We were told that there is nothing we can do differently. I don't need to be on bed rest, we don't need to be hospitalized, we just need to wait and continue follow up with doctors and be cautious of any signs of miscarriage or of pre-term labor.

If he makes it through to delivery (which of course is our prayer!!) then I will be delivering at UCLA where resources are high and the Cardiac team is one of the best in the country. He will have battles to face once he is born, heart surgeries and possibly even a heart transplant.

SO in sum- we have a journey ahead of us with this little guy! We have no idea what it will look like and what the timing will be. This all happened last week and so far nothing has changed as far as we can tell. We went in for one follow up appointment with our OB here in town. She checked on his measurements, heart rate, and all that. No new updates. I find great comfort every time I feel a little kick, or even better, a big one!

As I asked in our email to friends and family, please join us in praying for recovery of his heart. We'd love to be one of the cases that the doctors just don't understand how he was healed and witness one of God's miracles happen in our little babe. All our hope is that he is a little fighter and is going to make it through this! We just don't know. Please also pray for us- that we have the strength and peace to deal with whatever may happen. We know he may not make it. Of course we can't bear the thought of losing him and we will continue to dream about raising him as our son, but we need to be realistic in how we cope and process all of this.

I will continue to blog and post updates, but if anything major happens, my posting may obviously be delayed.

Aloha


I've fallen behind on blogging again. A LOT has happened! Let's start with the fun things.... in the next post I will update you on the not so fun things.

We enjoyed a wonderful trip to Hawaii over Thanksgiving. A "baby-moon" trip if you will. Despite missing our flight on the way out (UGH- L.A. traffic and a NIGHTMARE of a parking mishap), we made it over to Honolulu all in one piece. The trip was very relaxing and we spent a lot of time sitting on the beach, one of my favorite hobbies. Although we are surrounded by beaches here, there's nothing like a tropical beach! The water was MUCH warmer and clearer. The weather was also much warmer, but I will not try to claim that it is "cold" here now because I know better :) One of my longtime bestest friends and her significant other had decided to take a trip for her 30th Birthday, and they conveniently agreed to join us in Hawaii. Also, coincidentally, some of our very close family friends also happened to be spending Thanksgiving in Hawaii. It was very fun to have such quality time with great friends.

Here is the next "belly" shot. At the top of Diamond Head Mountain in Honolulu.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Belly Shot #1


Ok, I finally surrendered to a belly pic. Here I am at about 20 weeks. Not the best shot, but it will do the trick for all your curious minds. My Mom was in town this week and she was also eager to capture the belly on film. It was very fun to have her here. We went on a little maternity spree which was quite the surreal experience. Pulling on those pants with panels for the first time .... well here we go, I guess I'm not getting any smaller! I swear maternity clothes are designed to make you look MORE pregnant. The clothes in photo are maternity and I think they do a good job showing off the baby bump. I still have a decent amount of clothes I can wear that don't make me look pregnant, but I'm getting to the point where I figure I might as well be out and proud :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Blue!

It's a BOY! The doctor said he was 100% sure.... bold statement, but we will take his word for it. We decided to have some fun with sharing the news and had some friends over for a "surprise sex cake". We colored frosting on the inside of the cake according to Baby P's sex. Which let me tell you it is not easy to cover that up from the outside with white frosting. I recommend chocolate frosting to anyone else who wants to make a "sex cake". We had our friends wear pink(or purple) or blue corresponding to their guess of what the baby was. Our friend, David S., had the birthday closest to our due date so we let him cut the cake. Jon took a little video and here it is.


video

The 3D ultrasound was just as amazing as everybody says it is. It was so cool to be able to watch him scan the little boy from head to toes, inside and out. I had no idea that they could even look inside to the heart and brain. Dr. wants to see me again in one month due to a very minor concern about the separation between two layers of the placenta that should be fused together by now, but I'm not going to go into detail about that. We are just saying our prayers that everything will be ok and that God is watching over Baby P. All of his vitals, etc, looked great so we were very happy to hear that!
Above: Head with arm wrapped around it
Below: Head, umbilical cord and other stuff




Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Birthdays to Us

Well September has come and gone and I have managed to get 1/2 way through October without posting anything about all our September milestones. It was a busy month as usual- we both have birthdays in September and it is also our wedding anniversary. It also tends to be a busy time of year with work for both of us, so the month flew by!

Our celebrations were small and low key this year. We figured we have enough going on with expecting a baby this coming year. We are also taking a trip to Hawaii in November, so that will be time for us to celebrate lots of things! Plus, Jon had his big thrills last year for his 30th Birthday and mine is awaiting NEXT year, so we did not feel the need to go all out. We enjoyed time out with some of our closest friends and hosted a game night at our place mid-month. For our anniversary we ended up spontaneously playing mini golf ( I ALMOST beat Jon...and I had 3 holes in one!) and going to dinner. This year marked 7 years of marriage for us. Here are a couple of photos from September 2012.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Processing "The big news"

So this baby thing is really happening! We are very excited and grateful everything is going smoothly so far. To be honest, I was fairly shell shocked at first. Jon has been the one who has been glowing since the moment we found out. Good call on his part, he masked his utter enthusiasm and remained calm as I processed the reality of all that was about to happen.

Now, I can't claim it was a 100% surprise, because, well, we all know how these things happen. Many people have inquired if we were "trying". I have to say, this can come across as quite an intrusive question. Depending on who asks it of course. I don't mind if close friends ask, most people who know me well know I'm a pretty open person. However, when mere acquaintances, co-workers, or distant friends want to know the down and dirty of how this happened, I find it a little inappropriate. Also, I have had a few people assume we've been trying for a long time. Anyway, here is my answer to that question. NO, we were not "trying". We HAD begun talking about family planning options, and we had already taken the foster parent orientation class. (Quick side note here if you will allow me: this was VERY interesting in and of itself, because I usually TEACH these classes. I could write an entire post about this, but I won't get to sidetracked and I'll stop now). We were definitely warming up to the idea of becoming parents and thinking about the different avenues of parenthood and building a family. However, the planner side of my personality was winning over, and I did not feel all of our ducks were in a row quite yet. I was also not mentally in a place to take that big leap of faith.

Funny thing is, usually when we need to take big leaps of faith, they are not planned leaps :) So now here I am in the midst of a big leap of faith, and just trusting this will all work out. More than anything, I'm so grateful to have this little peanut inside me. (I guess now it is technically more like an orange inside me). Even though that positive sign initially threw me for a loop, and there were three because I took three tests....I quickly realized I should feel more blessed than any of the other neurotic emotions I was facing.

Also, I'm very grateful to report that it seems I've been very lucky as far as symptoms go. I only had one bad day of nausea, but otherwise I've been OK in that department. I have been VERY tired and also not sleeping well, but that SEEMs to be getting a wee bit better. Some head aches, some cravings, definitely some absent mindedness, and some other little things, but nothing major. We did have one little scare thrown in there a couple weeks ago which lead to an unexpected trip to the doctor, but everything checked out just fine. My belly is growing and to me it looks very obvious. I've only had one person admit that they can tell I'm showing. I think that is because most people are trying to be polite during this awkward stage. So far, I can still fit into all of my clothes. Although within the past few days "fit" has become a little more questionable. Some pants are getting too tight and there are several shirts that do not flaunt things I want flaunted.

The news is for the most part out there. I haven't started telling the clients that I work with yet. There are a variety of reasons for this- my plans for leave are still up in the air, it can be a sensitive subject in the field I work in (this could also be a whole other post), and it can also put un-needed focus on me when the focus needs to be them.

Otherwise, it has been very fun to share the news and receive the support from friends and family who share our excitement. I thought I would post some cute photos from when we told my parents. This will be their 1st Grandchild, so they are very excited. Coincidentally, they had already planned a trip out here since my Dad had to be in California for work. I'm SO glad we got to tell them in person- that would have been really hard for me to not be able to share with them face to face. We told Jon's parents via Skype, which was also fun and quite amusing, but unfortunately we don't have any photos to show for it.
At first, my Mom was confused by her gift.... she quickly caught on.

It took my Dad a minute. His priceless process captured...promise this is completely candid!


A champagne/lemonade for me/ toast and the proud Grandparents to be:

Oh, one more thing you may be wondering. Yes, we are going to find out if it is a boy or a girl and we can't wait!! Should have some news on October 19th if all goes according to plan.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parents to Be


We are officially announcing it to the world. Baby Peterson coming at you March 2012. Here is the first photo of Baby P. ( Sorry peanut you are already on the web!) We just cleared the first Trimester. All is well so far!

I will write more to elaborate on this special news soon, but it's on Facebook, and I felt my blog deserved to have the news posted too :) Always thought my first personal post about parenting would probably involve foster care or adoption, but instead we have a bun in the oven.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fun with Vino

Santa Barbara County is home to over 100 vineyards and a few hundred tasting rooms. Needless to say, it is a fabulous place to wine taste! Fun fact: You may already know that the 2004 hit film, Sideways, was filmed in Santa Barbara county. This brought a lot of attention to the region making it more well known. I'd venture to say it is a mini Napa Valley. Wine country is BEAUTIFUL and we are so lucky to be able to enjoy it and share it with visitors. We're also lucky to have such amazing wine at our fingertips (which has also unfortunately increased our wine budget and maybe made us a tiny bit snobby about our wine). We've become members at a couple of wineries, this way we can bring friends to taste for free, and we also get discounts on the wine.


Hopefully, this little photo montage will give you a "taste" of Santa Barbara Wine Country. It also will give you a taste of how many visitors we've had. Not everyone that has come out has made it into these photos, but many out of town visitors have gotten to experience wine country! The photos also showcase what happens after you've visited a few vineyards... people start to get a little goofy! (Captions above photos)

Me & Kristel @ Gainey
(visiting from Chicago)

Us w/ Tim & Sandra @ Firestone & Fess Parker
(visiting from Oregon)
Jon w/ Ali & Terry @ Kalyra
(visiting from Vegas)

My Dad @ Fess Parker
(visiting from Chicago)
Us @ Fess Parker
Rachel @ Gainey
(visiting from Michigan)

Us w/ Brian, Megan, Ryan & Brigit @ Sunstone
(Visiting from Wisconsin/L.A.)

DBG Girls @ Roblar & Kalyra
Bethanie, Annie, Greta, Britta, Me, Lori, Annie
(visiting from Northern Cali, Chicago, Seattle, Colorado, & Florida)


Us with David, Steph, Jeffrey@ Bridlewood & Kalyra
(Local Friends)

So... if you haven't made it out to see us yet, maybe this post will entice you! Cheers!



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

LCSW



"How do you not get emotional about your work?" ... "Do you have to take kids away?" ....."Are there really foster kids where we live?" ..... "Do you like your job?".... and my favorite, "Are you analyzing me right now?"

I ALWAYS get a lot of questions about my job. I'm currently a Social Worker for a private foster care agency, and in the past I've worked for private adoption agencies. I genuinely appreciate that people are interested in my work and I hope this post doesn't bore you to pieces as I attempt to explain where I'm at in my career. I'm not going to get into answering many of the above questions... not in this post at least, that may be more interesting, but it will be for another day. However, I would like to explain an important milestone that has arrived. :)

So, I'm sure you all know that I completed graduate school in 2008 and obtained my Masters Degree in Social Work. I was then able to call myself an "MSW". In the world of social services, the letters after your name become a big deal as far as professional identity. Not just because you get letters after your name (although that part is fun!), but because it legitimately impacts the kind of work you are able to practice. Although I was very excited to have completed graduate school, I knew I wouldn't feel finished until I made it through the next professional hurdles. For social workers, I think it is safe to say that becoming an LCSW is considered a high accomplishment and sort of the ultimate credential. (Unless you want to get all fancy and go for a PhD). LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

The requirements for becoming a LCSW vary from state to state. Enter in... the complications of moving from one very strict state to another... to make it an even more extensive process.
Reminder:


Generally speaking, there are several steps across the board to make one eligible to become an LCSW.

1) Once you have your MSW, you have to work for approximately two years under the direct clinical supervision of a LCSW. Clinical Supervision is kind of like "counseling for the counselor". Through supervision, you work with your supervisor to help you process emotions that come up when working with your clients and make sure that these emotions are not interfering with your ability to make proper judgements about treatment and intervention. It also provides a place for direct feedback and guidance in how you are practicing with your clients.

Here is the catch, just because you are employed as an MSW, doesn't mean you will automatically have an LCSW to clinically supervise you so you can obtain supervised hours that count. I've had some great supervisors who were very experienced MSW's and were an awesome source of support, but I wasn't able to count this time of employment towards my hours. It isn't necessarily a shoe in, so when you are able to land employment and be supervised by an LCSW..... many people advise that it is worth it to stay at that particular job merely for the hours alone! I've been SUPER lucky in this regard. In Illinois, I was able to obtain one year of direct supervision. Upon moving here, I was able to start right back up with supervision with another LCSW at my current agency. I feel VERY lucky that this all worked out.

I also feel very lucky that my hours from Illinois transferred to California and I didn't lose any time. (Except the time I spent over the masses of required paperwork, but that is a given I suppose).

Supervision hours- complete..... CHECK!

2) You have to make sure you meet State Educational Guidelines. In Illinois... check, done! In California.... oh no, there are MORE classes you have to take after your masters degree that are specific to the state of California policy, etc. Ugh. Thankfully, they can all be done online. However, they were not free and they took a lot of time.

Finished those... CHECK!

3) In the mean time you have to obtain an interim license known as an ACSW (Associate Clinical Social Worker) and pass exams showing you have completed the online classes. (More fees, more paperwork)

CHECK!

4) Finally, once all of these things are complete. You complete an extensive application that requires verification from various professional parties, state boards, and also verifies that you have not committed any crimes or gone off your rocker yourself. Once this application is complete, you pay again, and send it off for approval. Approval to TAKE the LCSW test.

CHECK!

Then, you wait 60 days for a letter saying you are eligible to take the LCSW exams... CHECK! I got it this week!!

5) You study your butt off to take a standardized exam that has a 47% pass rate in California. If you pass the first exam, they tell you CONGRATS, now pay more money and sign up to take the next test! So then you study your butt off again to text the next exam which is diagnoses based. This one has a pass rate of about 60% (slightly better).

SO..... that is where I am at in my professional journey. If you've made it this far in this post, I'm impressed. Thank you.

Once you pass both tests, you then apply to get your license to become a practicing LCSW. That is my goal. I have one year to complete it before I have to go through the application process again. I'm really not excited to study, and it is going to require a lot of discipline. I'm definitely not in study mode anymore. But, this has been my "professional goal" if you will for a long time, so I've gotta go for it. Being an LCSW would open up many more opportunities for me such as private practice, supervisory roles, teaching, research, etc.

Wish me luck as I attempt to turn myself into a book worm for the next several months!! I'm motivated, but I also am not looking forward to spending hours studying and I'm not a naturally good test taker so it is all nerve racking!

In order to add a bit of fun to this post, here is a photo of me on the eve of graduating with my MSW. Pictured with a few of my favorite graduation gifts, a travel size DSM-IV and a Freud action figure. Just call me nerd now :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Past Due

If this blog was a library book, I would be responsible for a HEFTY late fee.

Thankfully, no late fees involved. Can you believe I'm ACTUALLY posting again? I never had the intent of letting this be one of those blogs that just fades away. I'm all about closure, so there would have at least been a closure post if I were going to put this blog to rest. Instead, it was just not happening.

There you have it, I'm going to try to get back into blogging. A few reasons why: 1) I have realized I miss it as an outlet for writing, sharing, and some tidbits of creativity. 2) I have realized that by NOT keeping up on my own blog, other people's blogs slip past me. This may sound selfish, I don't mean it that way at all. When blogging is not on my radar, it is just not on my radar to keep up on checking other blogs. Being far away from so many close friends and family, it kills me to realize I'm missing out. Whether it be big news, or little day to day moments, I genuinely want to stay connected as much as possible. To those near and far.3) I think it is fun. 4) I decided it is probably healthy to have some methods available to procrastinate at work or distract myself when I get too stressed out. 5) I'm finally feeling more settled, comfortable, and capable of sharing myself once again (the move to California was quite an extended transition, not going to lie!).

Rather than trying to back track and retrace everything I neglected to blog about over the past t1 1/2 years.... I'm going to start fresh with today.

Today I post my "intro post" back into the blogging world. Hello friends- hope you are still out there! :)