Hero Joaquin – 3 Month Update/Catch Up/Recap!

As you can all imagine, the last few months have been incredibly intense.  I won’t even get into the hospital trauma where I almost died (that’s for another time).  Instead, I just want to jump forward past all the horrendous stuff and adjust my focus on the good – Joaquin!

Here’s a fun journey of his life, thus far, through pictures!


Proud mama bird.  Every pound I gained was a victory with chemo keeping me from any serious appetite.


At 20 weeks. The same week we started chemo

Just after delivery. Even though he was only 1.5 lbs, we never had any doubt that he'd make it home

Just after delivery 7/8/2015. Even though he was only 1.5 lbs, we never had any doubt that he’d make it home

Little Fighter

Little Fighter

First time I got to hold him

First time I got to hold him.  I was in so much pain from the spinal headaches but none of it mattered when I got to hold him



Sasha’s first time holding him

When I was too sick to be with him, we found ways to be together

A few days after delivery, I ended up in the ICU with a blood pressure related brain damage that resolved itself 6 weeks later.  During that time, it was almost impossible for me to get to the NICU, so when I was too sick to be with him, we found ways to be together


                 Either the nurses would send me     photographs, or I’d get to FaceTime with him. It made me feel so much better just getting to see him

Together again

Together again.  When I had the strength, this was the ideal way to be with Joaquin.

Hero Joaquin two weeks old

Hero Joaquin two weeks old

Sasha's wedding band around his wrist

Sasha’s wedding band around his wrist.  This image really reminds us of just how small he was

Three Weeks Old

 Three Weeks Old.  This was around the time I found out I had C. Diff (a very contagious stomach bacteria) so I wouldn’t be allowed to visit him until it was gone

One month old

               One month old.  This photo broke my heart.           For not being there, and b/c he looks miserable and I wish I could hold him.

FaceTime with him always saved me from whatever health nonsense I went through

FaceTime with him always saved me from whatever health nonsense I went through

Back Together after two weeks apart

Back Together after two weeks apart.  I missed him so much!!!! 

Beautiful art given to Joaquin

Beautiful art given to Joaquin to spruce up his lodgings at the NICU.  We didn’t know how much longer he’d have to be there.

6 weeks old

6 weeks old.  

IMG_0732 IMG_0813

8 weeks old and almost ready to come home!

8 weeks old and almost ready to come home!


On our way to pick up Joaquin from his last day at the NICU

On our way to pick up Joaquin from his last day at the NICU

First time in his car seat

First time in his car seat

His NICU nurses

His NICU nurses on the day he left.  Everyone was so helpful and loving.  It was such an emotional day

Home Day 1.  Sept 6th 2015

Home Day 1. Sept 6th 2015

This was taken on Sept 7th, the day he was originally supposed to be born. Just over 4 lbs and not quite fitting into any of his clothes

This was taken on Sept 7th, the day he was originally supposed to be born. Just over 4 lbs and not quite fitting into any of his clothes

He received a welcome letter from the Obamas!!

He received a welcome letter from the Obamas!!

Our first walk around the neighborhood

Our first walk around the neighborhood

One week home

One week home and getting comfy


Starting to learn all his cute faces

3 months old

3 months old and he lost the top part of his hair 🙂


3 months old. 1 month home. It’s slowly getting easier. We had such a difficult transition into parenthood. I was still struggling with my health, Sasha caught a flu, our A/c went out during a heat wave, I didn’t get more than an hour of sleep at a time for a couple of weeks until my mom came to the rescue and stayed with us for 3 weeks. But his little face always gave me strength to keep going.              It still does.  


Play time



Slowly getting used to this parenthood thing!



We’re tired, but we’re making it work.  As I prep for a surgery next month, we’ve had to hire some help to assist us with Joaquin.  This is a huge financial sacrifice for us, but it gives me the opportunity to rest and strengthen up before surgery.  It’s a small surgery where they will remove roughly 10 lymph nodes from under my right arm to check for any remnants of cancer that may have survived the chemo. It means I won’t be able to use my arm for around 3 – 6 weeks.  Impossible to think of when it seems I need 5 arms to care for Joaquin! But we’re making it work with the help of some incredibly generous friends and family.  We’ve been blown away by the amount of  support we’ve been receiving from so many.  It is especially meaningful to see our busiest friends and family take time out of their hectic lives to help us out when we need it most.

Thank you for checking in!

So much love,



17 Days in the Hospital – A Summary

A week ago, I started to write one of my more detailed blog posts about my journey in the hospital that started on July 6th.  But as I was writing it, I started feeling worse and worse and ended up back in the hospital.  I’ve been updating a bit on Facebook, because that shorter format is easier for me, but I never could get back here until today.  I won’t do my big detailed post…but i can at least give you some bullet points.

July 6th – Admitted to hospital for observation of Joaquin.  Had Preeclampsia.

July 8th – C – Section (Joaquin is doing great, so in love with him!).  Began suffering from Spinal Headaches from Epidural injury (blood in the brain).  Also had trouble stabilizing High Blood Pressure from eclampsia.

July 10th – 16th – Ended up in ICU with swelling in the brain from high blood pressure.  Lost all cognitive skills….don’t remember much of that night. CAT scan.  MRI.  Stayed in ICU for two nights.  The remaining days I stayed in the Stroke risk ward while I stabilized.  I was diagnosed with P.R.E.S. Syndrome (swelling in the brain that is already showing great signs of resolving itself).  It could’ve been fatal if Sasha and I hadn’t intervened (more on that another time)

July 16th – Released from the hospital with blood pressure medications and anti-seizure meds.

July 21st – Still feeling good and went to my first audition since chemo started!!!  It was a great empowering experience

July 22nd – Woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck.  Started having a low fever.

July 25th – Still having a fever.  Losing ability to read, make decisions, focus etc.  We went to the E.R. and they found I had very low sodium in my blood (which can lead to stroke).  Stayed a few nights in the Heart and Telemetry ward.  Renal Doctors on the case for the sodium.  Infectious Disease on the fever (no signs of infection in blood or urine).  Put me on Saline IV to boost my sodium

July 26th – Feeling so much better with the Sodium!!

July 27th – Had diarrhea, which was a quick sign to check for C. Diff. and put into Isolation.

July 28th – Tested positive for C. Diff and moved to the oncology floor.  Still in Isolation. Started antibiotics.  Also found out I booked the commercial I went out for!!!

July 29th – Already showing signs of improvement.  Lower blood pressure.  no more fever.  better poop 🙂

July 30th – Sent home!  Feeling better than I have in a month!  Just gonna rest for a while.  Finally.  So looking forward to working on this commercial, too!  It will help pass the time while I can’t see Joaquin ❤

Joaquin is doing so well!  Everyone in the NICU loves him and taking such good care of him.  It drives me crazy that I can’t see him while I go through this C. Diff stuff, but I know he’s in good hands.

I don’t have the energy to post photos right now….but there are some good ones of Joaquin and this whole experience on Instagram.  my account name is vivavivian.

looking forward to posting more in the future….things just got a bit hairy over here!

Things are looking up.  Focusing on healing body and mind.

So much love,


Adjusting to new course of treatments and a 24 hr hospital stay.


In the hospital for 24 hrs for observation after steroid injections

Facebook Post:  28 weeks. We received news on Tues that baby J is measuring too small for comfort. They don’t know if it’s b/c I’m super small or b/c of the chemo. In the case that I have to deliver early, they want him to be as ready as possible. This means steroids for the little guy to help his lungs develop, and it also means I will be having my last Chemo on monday (at least until baby arrives….not sure what the plan will be after that)

I wanted to go full term (I may still get close) I wanted him to be big and growing closer to normal. I felt helpless and guilty and cried a lot. This isn’t the way I wanted any of this.

Worrying, stressing, and fear will not get me through this.

For me, I do tons of research, educate myself, ask questions, find people who have gone through exactly what I’m going through (Thank you, Mara!), allow the breakdowns, then let go, and move forward with complete faith that no matter what happens, we will all grow from this and hopefully live fuller lives filled with love. Oh yeah, love. Can’t do any of this without love (for myself, for others, from others…especially Sasha….couldn’t do any of this without him) 💕💕💕💕

Facebook post after a massive outpouring of love and support:  

Just gotta say that there is not a heavy drop in my heart today because of you guys. Thank you for all the support and love. You lift me up during tough times…and boy, does this world support and lift me too.

My hospital, Providence St. Joseph in Burbank, just continues to ooze love. I noticed it 2.5 years ago during my first surgery here and it continues today. Absolutely everyone I encounter has so much love in their hearts and goes above and beyond to make a difference with their patients (my nurse just brought me a “mocktail”). I also feel safe and supported with my team of doctors and every nurse/admin/volunteer here is a total bonus too.

Just as I was writing this, I was visited by the resident priest who came to pray with me and give the Eucharist. Beyond loved. Thank you.

Home now:  I’m home just in time to clean up the house, and make a new batch of Beef Bone Broth in preparation for Monday’s chemo.  I’ll post that recipe after this post 🙂 Excited for this to be my last chemo for a while!!! Yay for a break!