Five Days Later

Thank you to everyone that has sent us love and well wishes from around the world.  It has provided us with the much needed strength and support necessary to survive the hours and days since Simon’s grand entrance into our lives.

Simon is going to be fine, but as of right now, we are still calling the wonderful hospital where he was born our temporary home.  Shortly after being born, while getting his first bath, our sweet boy showed signs of having some respiratory issues. After multiple tests and a chest x-ray, it was determined that he was born with congenital pneumonia.  His pediatrician hasn’t pinpointed the source of the infection, but it could have come from one of a multitude of sources– an underlying asymptomatic infection that Mama D has, an infection introduced via one of the cervical checks in the three and a half days leading to Simon’s arrival, something present in his amniotic fluid, etc. The list is extensive so we will likely never know.

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His treatment plan has primarily been IV antibiotics and monitoring by the nursing staff here.  By all outward appearances, our little chunk has no issues.  He’s even started to look like a normal baby and not an overfilled water balloon. 🙂 But, similarly to an adult course of antibiotics, you have to finish the entire regimen of medication in order to ensure that the infection doesn’t return. For him, that means a seven day stay in the hospital with us.  Thankfully, we have been able to stay in Mama D’s postpartum room at the military hospital, where there are two hospital beds for us to sleep in and we are able to maintain some sense of normalcy (versus the other option for him, which included a transfer one of the many local Korean NICUs, which are notoriously known for limiting visitation to 2x 30 minute visits per day).

The staff at our hospital has been wonderful, going above and beyond to provide all three of us with top notch care.  They have treated Simon as if he was their own flesh and blood, singing to him to calm him, rocking him to sleep, or taking care of him for a few stretches at night so that we can get some much needed sleep.  I am pretty sure that they are just as smitten with him as we are.

Mama D is doing fine after essentially delivering a ten pound bowling ball and has been breastfeeding our little chunk like a champ.  Simon — being born with super strong jaw muscles, akin to that of a two month old — has caused some pretty gnarly pain issues for Mama D during feeding. Until she can adjust a little more to his jaw, the lactation consultant here has been great with helping Mama M set up a way to feed Simon pumped breastmilk without the use of a bottle. She is able to tape a preemie feeding tube to her finger that is then attached to either a large syringe filled with milk or else dangled like a straw into a container of milk. Simon can then feed off of Mama M’s finger, while still getting all of the benefits of breastmilk.

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Mama M has become the Baby Whisperer, mastering the art of instantly calming a screaming Simon.  Our little family unit is slowly finding a rhythm despite the circumstances.  We are looking forward to starting our life in our own home, introducing Simon to his big fur brothers, Fletcher and Koda, and future visits by family and friends to Korea to come and meet the newest addition to our family.

I promise to write more once we catch up on a little more sleep and break out of the hospital 🙂

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And Then There Were Three……….

I’ll preface this post by saying that we will now be saying “Carroll-Wakem…table for three”

Most of you know that last Saturday, Mama M and I drove up to Seoul in order to stay at a hotel close to the hospital since we anticipated Shim arriving at some point in the very near future.  Little did we know that we would be waiting for eight more days before getting to meet our child.

On Thursday afternoon, after trying to follow every tip in the book to induce labor, we went to the hospital to be induced.  Again, little did we know that we would be waiting four additional days to meet our child.

After a long and drawn out labor lasting 61 hours, our child, the miracle we’d been trying to obtain since 2015, finally arrived.  World, meet Shim, born at 5:34AM on Sunday, March 11th. Weighing in at a hefty 9lbs 12ounces and standing at 21.5″ tall, we are surprised that Shim didn’t hop down and walk right out the door, considering we had birthed a 41-week mini-toddler.

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This kiddo’s arrival has been long awaited for by not only us, but our Army family here in Korea, our families back in the United States, and all of our friends around the globe.

Shim, now known as our son,
Simon Kevin Warren

9 months later….

24991440_876541482274_2052247889102768815_nI will preface this by saying that I am still pregnant. 🙂

I haven’t written in awhile and I feel like I left some of you hanging…especially those of you that aren’t friends with us on Facebook.  Mama M and I have had quite the roller coaster of a pregnancy that I feel the need to catch you up on.  The last update I provided said that we were finally pregnant!

Now sit back, grab a drink (if it’s wine, have some for me!), and enjoy this recap of the past 3 trimesters!

First Trimester: We found out we were pregnant about three weeks prior to our planned move to South Korea.  At the time, our lease was ending and there was a short, 8-day gap before our flight departed for Seoul.  Our friends, the G family, offered to let us and our 2 dogs stay for the week in their guest room.  Little did we know that this offer would turn into the BEST decision that we had made in a long time.

When I notified the military that I was pregnant, they changed the day that we needed to report to Korea to the second week of September — essentially the end of the first trimester.  We had to make a decision at this point about where to live — do we continue to impose on our very welcoming hosts, or do we find a place with a short term, furnished lease.  Remember, by this time, all of our household goods (minus the suitcases that were coming on the plane with us) had either been put in storage, or were on a ship making the trans-pacific journey to the land of the Morning Calm.  After sounding like a broken record for a few days with our friends….”Are you sure it is okay that we stay?”……..”No, really, are you sure we aren’t imposing?”, Mama M and I decided to continue to stay with our friends, their four kids and their 2 dogs for the entire summer.  It was like one BIG happy family — Mama M, Mama D, our two dogs, our friends, T and J, their two dogs, their four kids, and our little one in utero (Shim — a term created to mean she and him since we weren’t planning on finding out the gender).  What could have easily been a recipe for unhappy disaster turned into the best summer of our lives.  Not only did we get to stay in the United States during a trimester riddled with “all-day” sickness, a diagnosis of hypoglycemia, and just general fatigue — but Mama M and I became part of the extended G family — and intend on maintaining that family relationship for the rest of our lives.

Second Trimester: In September, it was time to pack up our bags (and by bags I mean 8 – 50 lb bags, 2 large dog crates (for our 2 smalls dogs) and our 2 carry on bags…total of 12 bags) and fly to our next duty station in South Korea.

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We might have over packed…..

Upon arriving, and spending 5 days in limbo waiting to find out if we were going to be staying at Yongsan (Seoul) or Camp Humphreys we finally found out that we were going to be stationed at Camp Humphreys, a larger base located about 90 minutes south of Seoul, in a city called Pyeongtaek.  We again packed up our 12 bags and headed down to Camp Humphreys.  We quickly found a house, got settled into a routine at work, and slowly started planning how Shim was going to fit into this life of ours that we were creating on the other side of the world.  A nursery started coming together,  we were set up with a wonderful OB team at the U.S. military hospital in Seoul, and we started exploring this beautiful country that we had the privilege of living in for the next two years.

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Visiting one of the oldest and largest temples near Suwon.

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Spending the day at the Yellow Sea, which is very similar to Monterrey, CA.

During this trimester, I continued to have pretty much every pregnancy symptom in the book.

Continued nausea?       Check.
Rib Pain?                         Check.
Back Pain?                      Check.
Trouble Sleeping?         Check.
Snoring?                          Check.
Heartburn?                     Quadruple Check
Hemorrhoids?               WTF Check!

The list could go on and on, but essentially, this pregnancy was proving to be difficult for me.  I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia at around the 12-week mark after failing a 3-hour glucose test.  Most women fail this test by having glucose levels that are too high.  I, however, was a rare case of the opposite — my glucose level was at 31 at the 3-hour mark.  This level was considered critical and the staff at the OB’s office has no idea how I was still standing, let alone able to walk out of their office and drive myself home.  At our 20 week ultrasound, we were devastated and worried sick when we were told that Shim had developed calcium deposits on his/her heart.  We were sent to a local Korean hospital within two weeks to have a more in depth exam done and, thankfully, the spots had disappeared during that two week period.  Whew!

Third Trimester: The homestretch of this pregnancy has definitely felt like the longest.  We were lucky enough to start it off with a trip back to the United States, both for Mama D to work, and for both of us to take a few days off and visit with our families and friends. Baby Shim was definitely spoiled with multiple gatherings and showers to celebrate his or her upcoming arrival.

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Our Colorado Girls!

In Denver, Colorado, the place where all of the magic took place to create Shim was the first stop on our trip.  Our “Colorado Girls,” as Mama M calls them, hosted a wonderful brunch and baby shower to celebrate Shim.  The highlight was having everyone create homemade bibs for Shim to wear when s/he is a wee bit older.

After Denver, we were able to visit with Mama D’s family in Chicago.  Her cousin, Kate, opened up her home and her heart to all of us.  It was so nice to see everyone together in one place, celebrating the addition of another cousin to the family.  Shim is so very lucky to have quite the extended family living throughout the Chicagoland area!

Our final stop on our trip to the United States was to visit Mama M’s family in Southern California.  How blessed Shim will be to not only have wonderful grandmothers around, but also his/her great-grandmother, Quyen.  We can’t wait for Quyen, Mama M’s mother, and Mama D’s mother to make the trip out here to Korea sometime in the the next few months to meet our new addition!

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The last highlight of this homestretch was our trip to Pyeongchang to witness some of the 2018 Winter Olympics.  When we found out that we were being stationed here, we knew that we had to see at least one event —- even if I was 36 weeks pregnant!  We were lucky enough to obtain free tickets and transportation to the Final Women’s Luge event.  So, with Shim in tow, we went out the event, braved the bitter cold, and got to witness amazingly strong female athletes in action.  Definitely a once in a lifetime experience and one that I will never forget.  Plus, we can tell Shim that s/he was actually at the Olympic Games a month before being born!
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That, my friends, is the Cliff Notes version of the past nine months of our lives.  We are looking forward to having Shim join us in this world, creating memories and adventures together, and, in the next week or so (hopefully!) introducing all of you to the long awaited baby Shim!

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Shim at 32 weeks, partially blocked by his/her hand, but still, an adorable chunky monkey