Two days ago I received a note from the state saying that Juliana’s genetic testing needed to be repeated immediately. My heart leapt and sank at the same time - I was hoping maybe we would start to get some answers about what happened to our sweet Juliana. I called the state right away, told them what happened, and asked what they found & were hoping to confirm.
Unfortunately, the reason we received the letter was that the sample was unacceptable for testing, so the state had no answers for me. The RN that answered the phone was extremely apologetic, because she said given the circumstances, we should have never received the letter.
According to Dr. Dewitt at CHOP, the sample was unacceptable because Juliana was on TPN, so we wouldn’t have been able to get conclusive results while she was being treated. He also stated that none of the conditions on the state screen panel would have caused the low blood oxygen that ultimately lead to Juliana’s passing. We are still anxiously waiting for the results of the lung autopsy, which will hopefully give us the answers we long for.
Unfortunately, the state sent the pediatrician the same letter that they sent us, so I received a call yesterday from someone at the office, hoping to put Juliana’s information into the computer. It was hard to call and tell them what happened, too.
I have been struggling. I know that our little love is at peace & that she is in Heaven with Jesus, but we miss her so much.
One thing that has amazed me throughout this journey is the amount of love & kindness extended to our family by those around us. You have been an incredible source of support - we have received so many kind messages, cards, & calls. We have been blessed by a multitude of people praying fervently for us. In addition, the generous donations that our friends and family made allowed us to pay for Juliana’s funeral in full. Without these contributions, we definitely would have had to set up a payment plan. Thank you SO much. We are so grateful for each and every one of you.
I should also mention that the Heintzelman Funeral Home charged us next to nothing for their services & the owner, Robert, took care of all of the funeral details for us. Almost all of our costs were from the cemetery. We are incredibly grateful for Robert & all of his staff at Heintzelman.
I emailed Sisters-By-Heart last week to tell them what happened & they sent us a lovely card with some forget-me-not flower seeds. I have also been in touch with Stacey, the “angel coordinator,” from Mended Little Hearts Philadelphia region. She sent us a lovely care package filled with sweet gifts to remember our Juliana.
Yesterday, after going to put new flowers at Juliana’s grave, I went to Office Depot to fax some information that was needed to add her to my health insurance. The woman at the check out noticed how frazzled I was and asked if I was alright. It’s nice to see such care and concern from a total stranger... & we have experienced so much of that since our little love was born. It’s such a blessing to see goodness and love everywhere during some of our darkest hours. I believe it’s God’s way of saying, “I’m still here. I still have you.”
It would be disingenuous for me to say that I haven’t struggled with my faith since losing Juliana. We believed so strongly that she would be healed & the magnitude of the loss really threw me for a loop. We are praying for God’s comfort, healing, and guidance during this time. I have also been praying that God will show us His will for our lives going forward...
And I have drawn some strength from the blog of a family that I don’t know, but many of my friends do; a family that lost their own two year-old daughter, Hannah, to brain cancer two years ago. Aaron was a physician in the Emergency Department that moved his family to Kenya to serve as missionaries just before I started working there. Though we never met, I prayed for this family two years ago & was reminded of his blog after Juliana went home to Heaven.
Here are some of Aaron’s words that I’ve found comforting:
“So many people have said that they are amazed, impressed, overwhelmed by me and the way I am handling everything. Don’t be. Be amazed that the God who created the world desires to know us and be with us. Be impressed that no matter the situation, He has offered to carry us through. Be overwhelmed that He was willing to sacrifice His Son in our place offering the free gift of salvation to anyone who will simply believe and place their trust in Him.” (whole post here)
Thank you to the Aaron & the whole Kelley family for being a light in the darkness.
& Thank you all for your continued support, love, thoughts and prayers. Love to all of you & your families.
My worst fear
Besides "I love you," probably the most common thing I said to Juliana in her brief life was, "I am so sorry, baby..."
Why? Because sometimes medical intervention is torture. The thought of our little love enduring CPR, being placed on ECMO, developing subdural bleeding, & going to the cath lab on three separate occasions (in addition to the open heart surgery that we knew would happen) just breaks my heart.
When we received Juliana’s diagnosis, we were told that 5-10% of babies with HLHS have another concomitant condition that complicates the diagnosis. There is apparently no rhyme or reason to this - any system of the body can be involved. I asked the fetal heart team at CHOP if we would know if something else was wrong after Juliana was born so that we could make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the surgery. The team advised that they thought we would know, that it is usually obvious, and that they didn’t think Juliana would have any additional problems. I made it clear that if Juliana was too sick, I didn’t want her to subject her to unnecessary pain and suffering. I didn’t want her to live her entire life attached to a ventilator - I just wanted to hold her, feed her, & love her.
You see, as a nurse, I’ve seen too much of that - extending quantity of life at the cost of quality. BUT we had so much hope. Juliana looked like a perfect, healthy baby. She required a little bit of positive pressure ventilation at birth, but I’ve seen lots of babies need some resuscitation and do very well. We didn’t know that HLHS babies usually don’t require oxygen prior to the first surgery. We weren’t given any indication that something else could be wrong (because nobody knew).
We thought the first surgery would fix the increased oxygen demand. When we received the call that Juli’s surgery was being moved up a day, we went to the hospital to spend time with her, but we were turned away because another baby in the same area was having a sterile procedure. It was four hours before we were able to get back and spend time with our little lady on her last "normal" night. I only had one more opportunity to nurse her. Anthony and I each held her for a few hours before trying to get a little rest. I’d never been so scared as when we handed her over to anesthesia that morning. The surgery went great & we were encouraged talking to the surgeon afterwards - we even discussed possible discharge in 2-3 weeks.
Juliana’s oxygen was stable for a few hours before it started to drift down again. We received the call that she needed to go to the cath lab because they feared that the shunt that was just placed hours ago had become occluded. As I shared previously, this did not go well; Juliana went into cardiac arrest, was given CPR, and placed on ECMO. Juliana’s heart function was improving for several days & the doctors made the decision to keep her on ECMO through the weekend. Saturday night, we received the call about the subdural bleeding. When the bleeding stabilized & she was taken off ECMO, we hoped she had cleared her biggest hurdle. In each of these episodes, I feared that we would lose Juliana, but she fought to survive. So many people were praying for her (& for all of us). We were so scared that we didn’t know how to pray - there were days where all we could muster was "God, please save our baby." But still, we had so much hope... there was no mention of lung disease until the day before Juliana went to Heaven.
As I mourn the loss of our sweet baby, I wrestle with the decisions that we made. I can honestly say that now I have lived my worst fear. But if there was ever any hope, I don’t think we could have lived with the decision to NOT try and save her. We loved our Juliana so much & we always will. She would have been three weeks old today. We miss you so much, baby girl.
Things aren't always what they seem
I was initially hesitant to post about Juliana on social media, because Anthony and I are pretty private people. I ultimately made the decision to do so because I thought it would be easier than having to explain our situation to every friend and family member independently. In retrospect, it was a great decision because we have received such an outpouring of love and support from our friends and family. We are so grateful for that & for each of you.
What I failed to anticipate was the difficulty that I would have crossing paths with complete strangers – families of my patients, customers in the checkout line at the grocery store, and neighbors who we see infrequently. So many well-intentioned people get excited when they meet a new pregnant woman & they always have a myriad of questions. These conversations always feel so unnatural and awkward to me. A few weeks ago at work, another mother inquired about my pregnancy & the conversation went something like this:
Woman: “When are you due?”
Me: “In November”
Woman: “Oh, soon! Is this your first?”
Me: “No, I have a son at home.”
Woman: “Do you know what you’re having this time?”
Me: “It’s a girl.”
Woman: “Oh how exciting! You’ll have one of each!”
Me (I guess not capturing the right tone): “Yes”
Woman: “Oh, maybe it would have been easier to have two boys.”
I left it at that. Yes, I am so excited about my baby girl, but honestly, what was just excitement two months ago is now mixed with a great deal of trepidation. I am so hopeful that Juliana will be healthy aside from the heart defect that we already know about, but we won’t really know until she arrives. I know she will be in the best possible hands at CHOP, but I can’t help but be sad about what our tiny new love is going to have to endure in her first years of life. I am scared because as a NICU nurse, I have seen first-hand the things that can go wrong with a healthy, normal pregnancy. It is our fervent prayer that everything is healthy and normal from here on in, but we just don’t have that assurance.
I can’t help but think about the pain Juliana will have to endure – and the fine balance between balancing pain medications and protecting our baby’s still developing brain. People tell me not to think about these things, but I am a (admittedly new) NICU nurse & sometimes I just can’t help it.
You can never really tell what’s going on inside someone’s body or mind. I remember a man being rude to me at the grocery store a day or so after my dad died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. It occurred to me that he had no idea that my world had just been shaken to its foundation & that likewise, I had no idea what was going on in his life. I vowed that from that day forward, I would be more patient and compassionate when people were less than kind. Pain and loss are part of the human experience – a huge part that allow us to relate to and love one another in deeper more intimate ways.
I’ve often heard people question why bad things happen to good people & I think this is part of God’s design -so that we can really learn empathy. Reaching out to someone in a time of need is often just as therapeutic (if not more) for the giver than the receiver. This was my experience on short term missions trips to build houses with Habitat for Humanity – I always walked away from those experiences with more than I gave. I just never considered this in the context of pregnancy, because I never had a reason to. I will try to be more sensitive going forward.
This has been on my heart since my little basketball popped out – just wanted to share this difficulty in the hopes that it will help someone else.
This post is on my regular blog. For updates about Juliana, please go here. As always, thanks for your love and prayers.
Our L&D Experience & Our Amazing Son, Gavin
*This is very personal; hoping that putting my experience in writing will be therapeutic for me & maybe help others in similar situations*
On Sunday, November 3rd, I woke up around midnight, which is not uncommon for me since I have been working night shift since late July. Three weeks prior, my blood pressure was a little elevated when I went for my routine prenatal visit. Just under a week earlier, my doctor sent me to the triage area on the labor and delivery unit to be evaluated. I had been trying to minimize stress, avoid salt, get good rest and drink plenty of fluids to manage the increase in blood pressure, but my efforts did not produce any results. So, the triage doctor advised that I start taking Methyldopa daily to try and decrease my blood pressure & that I was not supposed to work that night. This was very disappointing for me because I really tried to minimize my exposure to all medications during my pregnancy – I had to take Tylenol and Zyrtec twice but otherwise did my best to cope with nausea, aches & pains, & allergies without pharmaceuticals. The doctor insisted that medication was necessary, or that I had to stay on the unit for 24 hours for observation. Convinced that a hospital stay would not decrease my blood pressure, I went home and started the Methyldopa as prescribed. The next day, I felt miserable – I was so dizzy that I couldn’t function. Anthony drove me back to the OBGYN, where my systolic pressure was in the 160s. The doctor changed my medication to Labatelol with the hope that it would manage my hypertension and spare me the miserable side effects. Again, the day after starting the Labetalol, I felt horrible. I had no energy & was unsure how I would get through a shift at work. My blood pressure that morning was 124/78, but my heart rate had dropped into the low 50s. I called the doctor again and they cut my dose in half. I was supposed to check my blood pressure at work Thursday night (Halloween) and report back to the triage unit if it was greater than 140/90. After a crazy night in the ED, my blood pressure was 147/96. I was convinced that it HAD to be stress related after such a hectic night. Still, I followed the doctor’s instructions and reported to the triage area again. I spent several hours on the monitor and my blood pressures were consistently high. Thankfully, the baby was doing great – his heart rate was consistently in the 130s with periodic accelerations. I was placed on modified bed rest and instructed to collect a 24 hr urine sample and have blood work drawn before my next appointment on Monday morning. At this point, I was extremely frustrated because I was scheduled to work all weekend & I barely had enough sick / vacation time to get me through 6 weeks of maternity leave. In addition, this meant I would be getting my second “occurrence” within one week! You are allowed 3 sick days (occurrences) per rolling calendar year before you are given a verbal warning, so two in one week is a lot!
Over the weekend, I tried to relax as much as possible. I put my feet up when I could and tried to eat well. We did go for a little walk because I am very high-strung and staying indoors is stress-provoking (but it was significantly shorter and slower than the walks we were doing in previous weeks. I felt fine & was convinced that Monday morning, my blood pressure would be awesome and I’d be back at work Monday night. My blood pressure was not awesome – it was in the 170s/90s. The nurse practitioner had me lay on my side for 5 minutes and re-took the pressure – no good. She advised that I would have to go back to L&D triage. I cried.
What had I done wrong to cause my blood pressure to get so out of control? This was not in our plan – I was supposed to continue to work full time until our little bundle of joy reached 40 weeks gestation and the hope of that was slipping away. I came home to collect Anthony & pack a little over night bag. I knew I’d want my own toothbrush if the physicians wanted me to stay over night. We arrived at the triage area & my blood pressures remained out of control. The nurse midwife looked up my test results, which were all clean except that my 24 hour urine had 20mg of protein over the acceptable limit of 300mg. This didn’t seem earth shattering to Anthony & I (especially since the midwife told us that she had seen urine protein values in the 1000s), but coupled with my extreme blood pressures, this put me in the category of severe preeclampsia. The best explanation that I’ve heard is that with preeclampia, the placenta doesn’t attach quite correctly to the uterus – this occurs on a microscopic level so that it can’t be detected by ultrasound. As time elapses, the placenta detects that it isn’t being perfused well enough & it triggers the maternal blood pressure to increase. So increased blood pressure, proteinuria, and edema are the three diagnostic criteria for preeclampsia. Signs and symptoms are headaches, blurred vision, abdominal pain (especially in the upper right quadrant), and sensitivity to light. I had a very minimal amount of edema in my ankles, but no other symptoms. Dr. Radio came to see me and said that I would need to stay over night and that he would consult maternal fetal medicine. I was admitted to the perinatal unit where we thought I would be observed for 24 hours. Anthony went home to attend to the pets and get a few hours of sleep, because neither one of us slept the previous night. Our moms were both concerned, so they came to keep me company on the PNU.
The doctor from maternal fetal medicine arrived and advised that it would be prudent to induce labor because the risk of seizure, stroke, or placental abruption from my high blood pressure was worse than the risk of delivering early. Anthony and I struggled – we wanted nothing more than to get our little one to at least 37 weeks gestation to give him a good start. To be very honest, I was terrified & everything was moving so fast. After thinking and praying about it briefly, I told Anthony that I thought we needed to take the advise of the doctors and go forward with the induction. The moms left a short while later so that I could get some rest, but I was totally restless. At 1800, I was moved from the PNU to the labor and delivery unit.
Our initial birth plan was to do everything naturally – no medications, minimal intervention, and as few healthcare providers as possible. Dr. Radio said the two options were to start with Cytotec and allow the cervix to “ripen”, which could stimulate the release of oxytocin and induce natural labor OR to start Pitocin and open up the cervix by inflating the balloon of a Foley catheter behind the cervix and then slowly pulling it out. I didn’t want Pitocin, so I chose the first option. However, when the nurse hooked me up to the monitor, I was already having (probable Braxton Hicks) contractions, so the Cytotec was out of the question. The plan was to start the Pitocin immediately, insert the Foley, and then start Magnesium Sulfate to prevent seizures when I reached the active phase of labor. After several more out of control blood pressure readings, the doctors decided to start the magnesium sulfate along with the Pitocin.
Magnesium sulfate is a beast of a drug – when the bolus dose was administered, I felt like my entire body caught fire. My nurse, who was a saint, had to keep getting me cool wash cloths to alleviate the burning. In addition, I was instantly dizzy – I couldn’t sit up past 15 degrees without feeling like I was going to vomit and / or pass out. I was unable to see straight, weak, and miserable. The medication caused me to have the severe headache that I was warned about with preeclampsia. Obviously, taking this medication meant that I was not allowed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom (or for any reason). This was a huge part of the reason that we wanted a natural birth – I wanted the freedom to get up and move around to help facilitate labor and to take care of my own needs. Nothing is more humbling than having to ask for help when you need to use the bathroom – something to keep in mind as I provide care to my patients in the future.
In addition to all of these nasty side effects, Mag sulfate is problematic because it works to STOP labor from going forward. So, the next 26 hours would be a battle between the Pitocin to induce labor and the Mag sulfate. One of the nice young residents came to insert the Foley catheter – all I can really say about this is ouch – it was painful. Over the next several hours, the nurse gradually tugged on the catheter to advance the balloon and dilate my cervix. Again – ouch. Towards the end of the episode with the Foley, my contractions started getting very intense. I did my best to breathe through the pain, but eventually started dry heaving and my body forced the catheter out. The contractions and the nausea decreased for a short time after the catheter was out. The resident came to check and advised that my cervix was now 4cm dilated. After this, time passed slowly. The effects of the magnesium sulfate were difficult to manage & my progress was slow. It was now early morning & 12+ more hours would elapse before our baby’s arrival. I did my best to breathe through contractions and rest as much as possible (but I had already been up for 30+ hours). The staff advised that they would allow me to sleep, but still the interruptions came roughly every 15 minutes.
During the triage process, the doctor has collected a sample to see if I had group B strep, but the results were not back quickly enough, so I had to receive prophylactic antibiotics for the sake of the baby. The antibiotic of choice was Vancomycin, which I hoped to avoid taking unless absolutely necessary. Remember, I wanted no medications. Now I had magnesium sulfate, pitocin, lactated ringer’s solution, and vancomycin hanging. I tried to text Lisa (who was working in the ER that night) to tell her I looked like an ER patient will all of my drips. More hours elapsed and I started dry heaving again – this time violently with every contraction. In addition, my body was still on fire and I couldn’t stand having anybody touch me. I think I may have snapped a little bit at my mom-in-law, and asked her not to touch me because she was trying to comfort me. (Later, I had to ask Anthony not to touch me, either). In my mind, I was starting to feel like I wasn’t going to survive this. I know that sounds over-dramatic, but the pain, nausea, burning, and dizziness were out of control – I had absolutely no control. I asked for some Zofran and then finally caved – I needed something to mitigate the pain. My nurse advised that we could try Stadol, which could be given IV, so I didn’t need an epidural – I agreed.
Well, this is when I totally lost it. The med was pushed quickly, which my sister-in-law advised is normal protocol. The dizziness that I had previously was instantaneously increased & I became (internally) very agitated and angry. My family says that it didn’t show externally, but I really hope I didn’t take my fat aggression out on my poor nurse. The side effects were awful & the worst part was that it didn’t touch the pain. I felt like I was breaking inside – and I finally told Anthony I thought I needed the epidural. I was so afraid that he would be disappointed in me; I wasn’t tough enough to get by without MORE medications after everything I had to expose our sweet baby to during the labor process.
The anesthesiologist was fantastic – he worked quickly and explained everything as he went. The pain was decreased significantly. After the epidural, I became very disoriented; I was in a haze for several hours where I think I slept on and off and continued to have strange, irrational thoughts and more pressure than pain from the contractions. When the doctors came to check several hours later, the baby’s head was ready to come out! The medical team assembled and everyone else besides Anthony and I left the room. Matt, the resident who delivered Gavin, told me that I could push, but then quickly advised me to stop so that the NICU team could make it to the bedside. Once the NICU arrived, Gavin was out with two quick pushes. Anthony was supposed to tell me if it was a boy or a girl, but in the excitement of things, someone else made the announcement. He was also supposed to cut the umbilical cord, but we aren’t sure what happened there, either. Gavin arrived at 2026 on 11/5/13 and was absolutely perfect.
His initial APGAR score was 6 & Anthony was struck by how much he looked like an alien when he came out (because he was purple and not really moving). The NICU team worked their magic and his second APGAR score was 9. I was able to hold Gavin for a minute or two before he was whisked away to the NICU – these were such precious moments. I really didn’t want to let him go. Anthony left with the NICU team while the Matt and Dr. Baker-Vaughn delivered the placenta and finished sewing me up.
After delivering the placenta, the doctors observed that there was a large clot on one side, which indicated an abruption had started to occur. Praise God for giving the doctors the wisdom to induce us and for allowing us to make the difficult decision to proceed with an early delivery. Nothing went according to our plans, but because of the interventions of the medical team, both Gavin and I are safe and healthy. As a side note, I was really disappointed that Anthony didn’t get to see the placenta, because I think it is so amazing that the body can create an entire organ for the purpose of growing a child and then expel it when it is no longer needed. So cool (and gross).
The next 24 hours were some of the hardest that I’ve ever had to endure. The L&D nurse wheeled my stretcher up to the NICU, but I wasn’t able to touch or hold Gavin at that time. We expected that he would come to us after 6 hours in the NICU (around 0300) and that I could start nursing him then. Anthony tried to settle in to the pull out “couch” in my room, but it was extremely uncomfortable and he couldn’t get any rest. I had to stay on the Mag Sulfate for another 24 hours to prevent seizures from occurring. The horrible nausea and dizziness persisted and it made me have to pee literally every 45 minutes or so. At 0230, one of the doctors came down and advised that Gavin couldn’t come be with us because he was having trouble with “suck, swallow, breathe” during feedings. Anthony went to see Gavin, but I couldn’t leave my hospital bed. When he came back from the NICU, Anthony went home to finally get some rest with the promise he would be back later in the afternoon / evening. I tried to sleep on and off with very little success. Still completely dizzy, I couldn’t read or watch TV & I struggled to send a text message off to friends and family to tell them that our sweet baby had arrived. At meal times, I struggled to eat because I couldn’t sit up and I found everything difficult to swallow.
I was devastated that I couldn’t go see Gavin & with nothing to do but lay in bed and think, I started to wonder if what I was experiencing was from the medication or if I actually had a stroke. What if when they stopped the medication, things didn’t improve? Our family had all gone home to take care of things and I’ve never felt so alone. When Anthony returned, he went to see Gavin – I was glad that one of his parents could be there. My mom and Megan stopped by for a few minutes on their way out for Alice’s birthday dinner & then Anthony’s mom popped in briefly before going to spend time with Gavin. When they left, I was alone again and completely inconsolable. Somehow the thought of someone eles holding your baby when you can’t is torture. Anthony and his mom came back with pictures and videos, which was also oddly painful for me. At 2030, my nurse stopped the mag sulfate; she told me when it started to wear off in an hour, she could take me to the NICU in a wheelchair. I told her I wanted to go ASAP. I was finally able to walk to the bathroom and Anthony helped me get into the shower. Afterwards, the nurse said Anthony could take me to see Gavin, where I was finally able to cuddle him without interruption. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life – there with my sweet husband and this new gift that God has given us.
Gavin in the NICU. See more here.
Gavin is a dream come true and an answer to prayer for me. I am so thankful for the privilege
of raising this sweet child. He is a constant reminder of God’s love & grace, even when things don’t go according to our plans.
Summer Veggie Saute
Anthony and I were very excited to start our first veggie garden this year & we have been harvesting delicious squash, zucchini, eggplant, and cucumbers for a couple of months. Since we are new to gardening and tomatoes are one of Anthony’s favorite summer foods, I planted five of them in our garden. Our garden is now teeming with ripe / almost ripe tomatoes and we aren’t sure what to do with them all. I removed the seeds from one batch and cooked them down to freeze them & we froze a second batch of blemish free ’maters whole. Last night I made this recipe for fresh tomato basil sauce with some of the basil harvested from our garden. I will be freezing that sauce to use with meatballs or other gluten free meals in the future.
Then tonight, we decided to saute up some veggies in butter and enjoy them with dinner. This is similar to Ratatouille, but I just improvised and through things together in a skillet (posting this here for my future reference as much as anything):
1/2 stick butter
1 whole onion
1 whole zucchini
1 whole yellow squash
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t salt
1 1/2 t fresh garlic
1/2 t black pepper
5 tomatoes with skins and seeds removed, finely chopped
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Finely dice onion and toss with butter until coated. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook until onions are translucent and lightly brown. In the meantime, dice zucchini and squash into small chunks. Throw zucchini in and cook until lightly brown and tender (or longer if desired). I allowed all of the veggies to continue to cook while prepping the tomatoes, which was probably 10-15 minutes. Don’t forget to stir to allow even cooking! I blanched the tomatoes and then submerged them in cold water to remove the skins easily, then cut them in half to scoop out the seeds. After a rough dice, they joined the other veggies in the pan. I then made a little opening in the center of the veggies to lightly saute the garlic before mixing everything together and allowing it to simmer for 5 more minutes.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious. Next time I will have to take some photos to share here.
Conversation of the day...
Me: "I hope our baby has your brain..."
Anthony: "I hope I keep my brain."
He always knows how to make me smile. : )
Anthony and I both just posted some photos Jackson’s first kayaking trip on Mauch Chunk Lake.
Time for an update
It has been a really long time since I’ve posted anything on this site, but I am going to try and be more vigilant about updating on a regular basis.
A lot has happened since my last post about the birth of our beautiful niece, Alena.
In October of last year, we bought our first home. While I was finishing up nursing school, Anthony poured his heart into renovating the kitchen and bathroom prior to moving in. Our moms helped with preparing the walls and painting, and Anthony’s brother, Brian, did an amazing job replacing the carpet in our bathroom with tile.
In November, we were blessed with another gorgeous niece, Alice Rose Allen.
Then, in December I finally finished my journey through nursing school at Cedar Crest College.
I passed the exam to obtain my nursing license in January and started my new career as an RN in the emergency department at LVHN Muhlenberg in February. My training is almost complete & I will be accepting a full time position in the ED at the hospital’s Cedar Crest site in a few weeks. I am also still working per diem in the HLA lab, which has been a huge blessing to me. I am always happy to visit my friends in HLA and work in an environment that is so comfortable.
Outside of work, life is good. We have been enjoying our proximity to the Lehigh River for kayaking & to the D&L trail for biking and walking.
In May, we adopted Jackson, an adorable lab / husky / shepherd mix. He is so much fun to watch & play with! Chloe has adapted well to having a dog, but Cheshire is still not sure that he likes the idea.
I can’t wait to take Jackson on all of our outdoor adventures! Anthony just ordered him a life jacket so that we can take him kayaking on the lake.
Here are some pictures from our latest adventure on the Appalachian trail.
And last, but definitely not least, Anthony and I excited to share that we are expecting a little bundle of joy on December 5th. I am very excited, a little nervous, and extremely thankful for this sweet baby. : )