Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

As you can see, Hana has been really busy this holiday season. She had her photo shoot with Santa at Steamworks Coffee in North Minneapolis.

Though she was a little bored at times, there were some really cute shots.

Mieko had her first Santa pictures taken here last year. Though it was hard to go back without her, we really wanted Hana to have the same experience. She did a great job!

Hana also hit the holiday party circuit. She tried bowling at the WCCO Kids' party. She didn't mind being passed around at the Osseo Senior High English Department Party and even shared a few smiles. She also showed people how she could pout. Good thing she didn't do this for Santa.

Hana is definitely showing more personality. She often gets excited and kicks her legs and waves her arms while she smiles. She's "talking" more and we have fun taking turns making sounds. For the past couple of weeks, Hana has started sleeping for longer stretches at night, usually about four to four and a half hours. We're feeling more rested and used to our routine. The next challenge is getting her to take a bottle well. I'll be going back to work January 9th. I can't believe how fast the twelve weeks have gone.

We wanted to do something for the kids at Rondo for Christmas in honor of Mieko. We added some new instruments to the music bus, including an electronic keyboard type instrument that Mieko loved. The bus is fully decorated now and looks great. We got to see the kids in action with the instruments and they seemed to be having a blast. We'll add more goodies to the bus on Mieko's birthday in March. We think she would be happy to know her friends are enjoying the instruments so much.

We'll have one last hurrah before my leave is over. We're headed to Fargo for an early Christmas celebration with the Johnsons, then it's off the Los Angeles. We're hoping for good weather, but it looks like another storm is on the way here in the Upper Midwest. We're anxious for some warmth and authentic carne asada tacos. Of course, we're excited to see our family and friends in Southern California too.

Though the holidays will be so different this year without Mieko, we're trying to focus on all the wonderful memories. Her stocking is up next to her sister's new one. Mieko and Hana both have handprint ornaments on the tree. We're also giving family members a special remembrance of Mieko. She will be included in our family celebrations this year and always. We want to wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season. We hope you have a healthy and happy 2009.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Here come the cheeks!

Hana is becoming a chubby baby. The round cheeks are making her look more like Mommy and Mieko. Hana weighs around 10 and a half pounds now. She's also smiling more and making new cooing sounds. Her head control is pretty good, but she's not holding it up on her own yet. She also seems to really enjoy books and focuses a lot on the pictures.

We've been going to the New Parent Connection group at United Hospital in St. Paul for the past couple of weeks. It's been fun meeting other parents and all their cute babies. We get to ask a lot of questions about all those newborn issues like feeding and sleeping. We've also heard about some other interesting classes we might try, like baby yoga and infant massage. I'd like to take Hana to Baby Ballroom dancing. Mieko really enjoyed it.

The grief support groups through Children's Hospital are wrapping up. We've made some good friends there and plan on keeping in touch. We've even started our own facebook group called "Remembering Our Children". Though none of us wanted to be in this situation, we're glad we've found each other.

Mieko's Music Bus has been decorated and it looks fabulous. Bev did a wonderful job drawing the children riding the bus. We hear the children at Rondo are enjoying the instruments and we plan on donating more for Christmas and Mieko's birthday. This is such a fitting tribute to our happy little girl.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving over at Uncle Shane and Auntie Jodi's.
We also spent some time with our friends the Nelsons and the Hammonds. We're thankful for such good friends and family to share these times.
For the Christmas season, we'll be on the road. We'll be having an early celebration in Fargo with the Johnsons and then we're driving to L.A. We'll be bringing our cat Bailey with us since she needs medication and fluids for her kidney condition.

We're excited to see family and friends there and enjoy some warm weather for a while. It's in the single digits in St. Paul right now. Hopefully, Hana and Bailey will enjoy the ride.

You might have noticed Hana's little swirl (cowlick).
Here's a little verse a friend showed me:

There was a little girl ,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
(uh oh!)

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One of the Girls

Hana is now one month old! She's been very busy lately meeting new friends. We had a wonderful visit from my friends from South Pasadena: Jackie, Lara, and Stephanie. They flew in from the L.A., San Francisco, and Boston areas just to see Hana and spend some serious girl time together. Of course, we all took Hana to the Mall of America. We also enjoyed some great food and played some Dance Dance Revolution. We even talked to our friend Jessica via Skype. She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband and little girl. It was the best time!

Hana seems to be growing and doing all the things babies need to do, which is mostly sleep. We're still trying to learn her cues, but luckily she's been pretty agreeable unless she's hungry. It seems she's been awake more of the time lately. She can be really alert and likes to focus on faces, a lot like her big sister did.

She finally had the chance to meet the Tuesday night Knitters at Borealis this week. Of course, she was wearing some of their lovely handknit gifts. She's been the third baby girl born this year to someone in the group. It's been wonderful sharing all of these moments.

Shawn has been able to take some time off and it's been great spending time together . This really is a whole new world for us. We're looking forward to watching Hana grow and change. We never really let ourselves think too far into the future before since Mieko's health was so uncertain. We know we have a great deal to look forward to, but we can't help but wish Mieko could be here to see her baby sister and enjoy her as much as we do. We know we'll be missing her a lot during the upcoming holidays, but we're also going to make sure we incorporate her memory into our celebrations. Though it will be much different, we will try to remember there is still a great deal to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Growing is hard work!

Hana is now two and a half weeks old. So far, she's been a pretty mellow baby. She doesn't cry all that much, unless she's hungry. She's a good sleeper. She would sleep through the night, except we have to wake her up to feed her. We're really enjoying this time getting to know her.

It's a completely different experience for us. The day after she came home, we had to take her to the St. Paul Children's E.R. because she hadn't pooped for four days. Her doctor's office advised us to do this, since she could've had problems with jaundice. It felt very strange to go the same E.R. where we'd taken Mieko so many times. Most of the time it was for respiratory distress and she was whisked into a room right away. This time, we actually waited. It felt weird to be there with such a healthy kid. Though it brings back some tough memories to be at the hospital, we know they always give us great care. Hana got a suppository and pooped right away. They checked her billirubin level and she was fine. Almost every time we took Mieko to the E.R., she was admitted to the hospital. We are grateful for Hana's good health.

It's also strange not to have all the medications and machinery at home. We always knew how Mieko was doing when she was sleeping since she was attached to an oxygen monitor. Now, I sometimes check Hana's chest to see if it's moving while she's sleeping. But, it is a relief to know there shouldn't be anything to worry about.

The biggest challenge for me has been nursing. Hana can nurse really well, but it took some work. We had to supplement with some bottles at first, since she was losing so much weight. That made her somewhat averse to breast feeding. After some help from a lactation consultant, she started nursing again. She's about back to her birth weight and gaining now. Mommy is still struggling somewhat to get the hang of things, but Hana is a champ.

Hana is going to Mieko's pediatrician at St. Paul Children's Clinic. Though it's sometimes difficult to go back there, it feels right for us to stay connected to those who knew Mieko so well. Her primary doctor has been wonderful to our family and we are so happy she can be there for Hana.

As you can see, Hana has been visiting with many relatives and friends. We are glad to share her with as many people as possible. Today, we went to visit Mieko's school and see the music cart that was created for the instruments we donated. It's not in it's final decorated state yet, but it looks amazing. The bus will be decorated with Mieko's and other children's pictures. We look forward to seeing the kids at Rondo use the music bus soon. They're already enjoying honking the horn!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mieko's Baby Sister is Here!

We are so happy to welcome Hana Mutsuko Johnson. Yes, she finally has a name. Her first and middle names come from my Auntie and Mom. Hana is pronounced "haw-nah". As one of my friends says it's like Benihana, the restaurant. Hana also means flower in Japanese. She was born Monday, October 20, 2008 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. She weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and is 21 inches long.

Hana's birth story:
My due date was Oct. 18th. Grandpa Mits and Grandma Akemi flew in from Los
Angeles on Sunday the 19th. We spent the day enjoying the fall colors in southeastern Minnesota and hoping something would happen soon. Shortly before midnight, I went into labor. We went to the hospital around 3:30 a.m. I got an epidural later that morning at and it looked like we were progressing nicely, but everything stalled a few hours later. By 6:45 p.m., my doctor said it looked like for some reason the baby couldn't get in the right position to come out even though I was completely dilated, so we went ahead with another c-section. Mieko was delivered by c-section because she was breech, so at least we knew what to expect. So, after 19 hours of labor and about 20 minutes of surgery Hana came out crying.

You can see she was pretty alert and entertaining us with her expressions even in the first few minutes. Later in the evening, she had a few difficulties. She dropped her temperature and was under a warmer. Then, she started dropping her oxygen level and they had to give her some blow by oxygen. Her lungs and heart sound fine. They did some blood work to see if she has an infection, but so far everything looks good. She spent the night and next day in the special care nursery, but no longer needed oxygen. The pediatrician here thinks her lungs were adjusting and may have had extra fluid.

We're so thankful for all the friends and family who've sent their well wishes. We feel so lucky to have our new little girl, though we so wished Mieko could be here with us. We are looking forward to telling Hana all about her big sister and how she touched so many people. This is all such a different experience and we'll be sharing our journey here.