Last week, Nico had his inpatient VAC chemo on Thursday. Since I was still pregnant, we decided to all go and stay nearby overnight just in case. We are currently staying in Abbotsford which is about an hour drive for us to BC Children’s Hospital. Early on Thursday morning we got everyone (four adults and three children) ready, loaded up and headed out. My mom and sister (Vanessa) took V and my nephew and hung out around Vancouver for the day after dropping Nick, Nico and me at BC Children’s.
First we had an appointment at the orthopedics clinic at BC Children’s to follow up regarding the fracture in Nico’s arm. They are pretty confident that it’s not related to his cancer diagnosis since it did not light up on the PET scan. He has a cyst in his bone which is common in kids and they eventually grow out of it. Seems like the cyst has shifted some since last year which happens as the bone grows. They will keep monitoring it monthly but right now its a very small fracture that is not displaced and doesn’t require any treatment. We just have to make sure he is careful with his arm.
Next we headed up to the eighth floor of the new children’s hospital building where the outpatient oncology clinic is located. We hung out in his room for most of the day while he received his VAC treatment and closer to 6pm a room on the oncology ward opened up and he was moved over for his overnight admission. I helped get Nick and Nico settled in the room for the night, made them some dinner and then my sister picked me up so we could eat and get to our hotel for the evening. Nico did pretty well that day. He was very tired but managed to stay awake and build his new LEGO all afternoon.
The following morning I started feeling contractions pretty early and by 7am we had talked to the midwife and decided we needed to head to the hospital. So we got everyone ready, loaded up and my sister dropped me and my mom off at the labor and delivery entrance of the women’s hospital which is connected to the children’s hospital. Vanessa took V and Micah up to Nico’s room and took over there so that Nick could come down and be with me for the labor and delivery. By 9:30 am we were moved over to the 2nd floor of the new building and admitted into a laboring room (which had a tub, score!) I labored in the tub for about an hour, pushed for about 30 minutes and little Miss Natalia Linda (Nali) was born at 10:54 am. All went pretty smoothly. Unless you ask Nick. Then he would point out that Nali had the cord wrapped around her neck three times and also had a knot in the cord and so it took her about a minute before she started breathing/crying after she came out. Right about when the nurse said, “We need some help in here.” was when Nali took a breath and started to cry. He would not use the word smoothly but all did end well. Nick hung out for a bit and then headed back up to the eighth floor to be back with Nico and so Vanessa could go get some lunch. Nico was discharged later that afternoon and everyone came to meet Nali before heading home for the night. I stayed overnight and was discharged the following day. The next few days were filled with new baby fog and lots of cuddles and breastfeeding. By Monday I noticed it was becoming more painful when baby would latch to feed and I finally realized her latch was shallow. I’ve now given birth to three children unmedicated and yes it hurt but breastfeeding with an improper latch has brought me to tears and so we are working through that. Thankfully I have a pump (thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, Michelle) that has given me some relief while we figure it all out.
Tuesday and Wednesday Nico had some delayed nausea from his chemo and on Wednesday threw up his NG tube. Naturally, he was quite upset about that. The following day he was scheduled for his vincristine chemo which is usually an easy treatment day but ended up being a harder day for him since he also had to have a new NG tube put in as well as his encephalon changed. Thankfully, Nick says that he was able to calm down much faster after having the tube put in than the first one. He even asked to go out to lunch afterward! However, we noticed that he just wasn’t himself after they got home and we hoped it was just because he had a hard day and was tired. Nick kept checking his temperature which was normal at first but then started creeping higher and by midnight it had reached fever territory. So we went through the drill. 1. Call the after-hours number and have the on-call oncologist paged. 2. Give them the spiel. Meanwhile Nick is packing an overnight bag just in case. 3. Told to take him to ER and they would phone down to let them know we are coming. 4. Pack some food in case they are admitted. Unfortunately, we’ve started to get a good system down for these fever ER visits. Vanessa went with Nick in case Nico needed to throw up on the drive there. Once they arrived at the ER there is a protocol the staff follow for oncology kids who come in “febrile and possible neutropenic” which means fever and low ANC (white blood) counts. They keep them separate from everyone else since they are immunocompromised, get blood work to check neutrophil level, and do blood cultures to rule out bacterial infection. Since Nico had already had his levels checked earlier that morning during his clinic visit they saw that his counts were low and had dropped some from even just that morning and so they decided he needed to be admitted. His counts drop for about 10 days after his bigger chemo treatments. He is given an injection (which is why he has an encephalon) every evening for about 7 days that helps boost production of white blood cells in his marrow. Thankfully, today his counts have started to go back up and the oncologist who spoke with Nick this morning said if his fever is gone by tomorrow morning they will be able to come home. And we are hopeful that will be the case since Nick said his fever hasn’t spiked since 1 am this morning. Can’t wait to have them back home. We’ve all missed them so much! I especially missed being at Nico’s anointing this evening. For anyone wondering what I’m talking about, an anointing is something that James speaks about in the Bible. “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” James 5: 14,15. Nick said it went very well (although Nico was pretty shy during) and we are thankful to those who made the time and effort to be there for it. And of course we continue to be thankful as we realize how many of our friends and family lift us up in prayer daily and some of you multiple times a day. I will never have the words to express our gratitude. Thank you a thousand times over.