Thursday, August 31, 2006

Oh.My.God!






Welcome to the world Baby P!

Baby P (still first nameless) was born at 8:32am this morning, weighing 8 lbs 13oz and is 21 1/2" long. Mom and baby are doing well.

Congratulations crazylady Sarah!

Cervical Mucus, the zit that ate my face, and bird poop

If you are anything other than a good friend, you may want to stop reading this post right now. Mom or any other relatives...I mean you. Because what follows is something that I have an uncontrollable urge to announce to the world via the internet, but wouldn't say in the presence of anyone in person.

I am experiencing what can only be described as a practical joke played on my by the fertility gods. Two dead kids? yeah...well how about enough cervical mucus to cover Ohio? I'm.Not.Kidding. Before I was pregnant with Alex and Travis, I experienced what I would call a "normal" amount of cervical mucus. Now...now I can't walk farther than ten feet without my pants being filled. It's, in a word, disgusting. I wipe and it's like a freakin egg was cracked in my hoo-ha. And with each wipe I think to myself, "Disgusting," and then, "Hilarious...I can hardly control the laughter." Again, I feel like sending a big old F*** You out to the universe/God/fate...whatever force decided NOW would be the time to hit me with apparent super-fertility.

And through it all, I keep thinking to myself, "My nails, my hair, my skin...they all look great." And then...then do you know what happens? The post-pregnancy hair loss begins round about the beginning of the week...and a GIANT zit forms on my chin sometime during the night last night. Seriously, this thing is so big it needs its own zip code at this point. And here's where I am emotionally. Normally right about now, if I had had a LIVING baby, these things would be happening to me but I would be so exhausted from taking care of an infant that I so wouldn't care. Well guess what?!?! I CARE NOW! There is nothing like a handful of hair in the bathtub drain...and a giant red beacon on my chin...to remind me that I DON'T have a baby. So I cry as I clean the hair out of the tub. And I cry when I'm trying to cover the giant zit with makeup. Yeah...that's funny too.

But the bright side? At least I haven't been shit on by a bird. Uh...HADN'T been shit on by a bird. That's right. Out and about at lunch today, somewhere between the post office and the deli, a little birdie dropped a brown poop right on my left boob. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! So I ducked into the nearest county building...into the bathroom...had a good cry and washed my boob. And what do you think happened? Two things. First, there was someone in a stall that I didn't realize was there. I tried to laugh it off, but I'm afraid all that did was prove to her how absolutely mentally unstable I am. I only hope that she follows the girl code of ethics and does not reveal the secrets shared, however inadvertently, in the women's bathroom.

The second thing that happened? Oh, you'll love this as much as I do, I'm sure. The washing of the boob left a wet spot...on my boob...circular...that looked suspiciously like...oh HELL...it looked like my breast was leaking. And it wouldn't dry. And I was in a bathroom that didn't have those automated dryers (damn cheap county I work in). But the lady in the bathroom reassured me that she wouldn't notice something like that anyway (she so lied) and so I said, "I give up," and walked out. I still hadn't gotten my lunch and my stomach was protesting the prolonged drying time in the bathroom. So I walked out the bathroom, out the building, down the street, into the deli, and back to my office. I ran into two types of people. The people who didn't know me and stared (yeah, you're not going to notice the big water stain on a woman's left boob...give me a break). And the people who did know me, know my story, and assumed...yeah. I'm going to find that f***ing bird and kill it with my shoe. And I will take great pleasure in doing so. Because the sympathetic looks and the over-niceness of people over my wet boob was JUST.TOO.MUCH.

On the walk back to the office, I started to laugh. Yeah, crying too, but laughing nonetheless. What's next? A plague of locusts? It's laughable at this point. The last time I was shit on by a bird was when I was 15 or 16. We were at the community pool and an overprotective-of-his-turf pigeon shit on me. I thought THAT was embarrassing.

So here I sit...a load in my hoo-ha, a huge zit occupying prime real estate on my face, a shit stain on my shirt, and a wet boob...laughing hysterically as though I've lost my mind.

I think maybe I finally have.

Welcome to Ohio...hiccup

Three of Ohio's big cities rank on the list of America's Drunkest Cities.

#3 Columbus, OH
#7 Cleveland, OH
#16 Cincinnati, OH

I think,in fact, that is ALL of Ohio's big cities, is it not?

Interesting...Do I live here because I'm a drunk? or am I drunk because I live here?

It certainly explains a lot about the people I deal with on a daily basis. Some of whom I suspect are drunk right now at 9:19 in the morning.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day Two



What do you think?

When you get the email from Classmates.com that says that 3 people were searching for you...are they telling the truth or is it just clever marketing?

When someone says, "Nice jacket," instead of, "You look nice,"...is it a compliment or not?

When you meet up with someone and they casually ask you, "How are you?" and you just as casually reply, "Fine, how are you?" and they give you THAT look...do you acknowledge that they wanted a REAL answer or do you just move on to idle chit chat?

There is a new photo of Angelina Jolie on the Yahoo front page...what did she do to her lips?

I'm thinking of selling something on eBay to make some money to donate to charity. I just need to come up with a clever 'something.' Thoughts?

If you know someone is making a mistake, do you tell them you think they're making a mistake? or do you hold your tongue and let them learn for themselves?

Happy schmappy...I still don't want to talk about it. So is it wrong to sidestep all conversations regarding babies of any variety?

So many more life questions need answering today than I am capable of handling...I'm sure I'll be back with more.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

If it weren't for bad luck...

...we wouldn't have any luck at all.

Dear Catherine:

Thank you for your patience.

While we are currently out of stock of 4" thick Black granite stones, there is an alternative if it would be acceptable to your cemetery.

We have 4" thick granite slab available (a large piece that can be cut down to any size), but we can only saw through the first 3". The last inch is separated mechanically, resulting in a rough edge at the bottom inch. If the marker is mounted flush with the ground, this should not make any difference, as the sides are buried in the ground with only the marker face exposed. If the marker is placed on a foundation and rests above the grass level, then this would not be acceptable.

If you would like to verify with the cemetery that it does not matter if the sides are sawed for the top 3" and rock pitched at the bottom 1", then we can accept your order and prepare the marker.

Otherwise, it would take two to four months to order the stone in the desired size (our Black granite is shipped from India).

I am sorry to make something that should be simple appear to be so complicated. If I can provide any additional information or if you should have any questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Gary - Customer Service


Even THIS has to be hard?!?! F*** you universe!

Thinking only good thoughts

My friend Kathi went for her scheduled c-section today to deliver her daughter, Grace, into this world. Is it wrong that I'm terrified for them? Kathi is one of those friends who "gets it," so I know she won't mind I'm finally saying this out loud (she reads and comments here pretty regularly). She has battled seriously high blood pressure throughout her entire pregnancy (we're talking stroke levels). And though I never said a negative word to her about it...Oh.my.God...I cry when I think about it all.

Good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts...
-------------------------------
Grace Emerson made her way safely into the world around 12:15 this afternoon. She is 7 lbs and 22" long. Mommy and baby are doing well.

CONGRATULATIONS MY FRIEND!
WELCOME TO THE WORLD BABY GRACE!

Got this in an email...

...and thought I would share it despite its false reference to Audrey Hepburn as the author (see correction below).

----------------------------

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows.

The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.

----------------------------

(Proving that even the famous go in for glurge, Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) did not write the quoted list of beauty tips, although she claimed it as one of her favorites and quoted it in public a number of times. Its true author is humorist Sam Levenson (he who said "Insanity is hereditary: You can get it from your children").) Snopes.com

Inner peace

*My husband just sent this to me. Sounds like a good plan to me.*

By following the simple advice I heard on a Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed the way to achieve inner peace was to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I started and hadn't finished; and before leaving the house this morning I finished a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Baileys, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of the Valium prescriptions, the rest of the cheesecake, a bag of Doritos and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel.

Buy a book, help the animals

Buy his book and help Duke (of Bush's Baked Bean fame) raise $50,000 for the American Humane Association and help find loving families for homeless pets.

Day One

Monday, August 28, 2006

Unleashing thoughts

Life is made of a succession of moments. Moments seized and wrung out until there is nothing left of them. And moments missed....slipping by without so much as a touch to acknowledge that they were ever there.

Riding home from a fantastic day out at the mall with Steve, Sam, and my mom, I spotted a stray dog along the side of the highway. My husband was driving and didn't even lift his foot from the accelerator. We whizzed past and the dog remained on the side of the road. He offered to go to the next exit and turn around, but the moment was gone. The spontenaity was lost. In order to go look for the dog, we would have had to go down one exit, turn around, go back to the exit before spotting the dog, turn around, and then try to figure out where exactly I had seen it. My recall isn't that great, it was approaching 9pm, and we were all tired, so I told him to just forget it.

After my obligatory comment about feeling neglected because I wasn't heard (a running theme in my life I will have to get into here someday), the van fell silent with the contemplation of that poor dog on the side of the road. I'm not sure what everyone else was thinking, but my mind unnaturally wandered to the missed opportunities that have made up my life. Some have passed through my own choices and some, like the dog on the side of the road, have raced past before I had a chance to grab hold of them.

I think that is one of the things I am having trouble accepting about the deaths of our children in my womb. Besides the obvious sadness I feel that they lost their lives, there is a sense that no matter what choices I make, no matter how much I yell, those moments breeze past me completely beyond my control. I had hold of my boys...but yet I didn't really. They were there inside me physically...yet I couldn't protect them. Despite how much I wanted them to stay and join our family, they slipped away...just beyond my grasp.

Something, somewhere, turned on the head of a pin in that moment...that deciding moment when I could have had a living baby (or two). Someone didn't take their foot of the accelerator long enough for me to grab hold of the moment.

As sick and twisted as it may sound, even if I couldn't change the outcome, I would give almost anything to go back to feel those moments I did have. I never took them for granted, but I don't think I ever really took full advantage of them either.

My body longs to be pregnant with my boys again. My arms ache to hold them again.

It's as though something inside me says, "You couldn't have what you wanted, so you should make the best of what you got." Now that the sadness has dulled and the anger is less sharp, I wish I could go back to fully make the best of the moments I did have.

Knowing now what I didn't know then, I'd take the time to go back for the stray dog...even if he bit me it would be worth it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Can I tell you...?

Can I tell you how I want to scream? Will you tell me to be quiet?

Can I tell you how I want to sleep? Will you tell me to keep moving?

Can I tell you how I want to cry? Will you turn away in embarassment?

Can I tell you how I want to hurt someone? Will you look at me in fear?

Can I tell you how I need to hold onto something? Will you pity me?

Can I tell you all the ugly things there are to tell? What will you think then?

Can I trust you? Do you trust me?

So many questions. It's all in question.
It's all wrong. There are no right answers.

Do you feel it? Or is it just a distant memory?

Did you ever feel it?

Your life is gone...get over it. Move on.

"Living or existing?" the church sign asks silently on one side. On the other, some cute little quote about my obligations to God.

I have no idea what to say anymore. I want to forget and move on. I hate it all.

My mind cannot hold the details...cannot process this life. I sit and stare and wonder...

Can I tell you?

Weekend Shopping

Print this coupon and bring to any Borders or Waldenbooks store on August 26-27, 2006, for a 10% discount on your purchase. Borders will donate 10% of the proceeds from your purchases to First Book, who will use those funds to provide new books for children nationwide. You will benefit not only from the 10% taken off your purchase, but from the knowledge that you personally are giving children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. See coupon for details.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What the...???

Pluto is no longer a planet.

I TOLD you...nothing is as it should be anymore!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time out for a rain delay

The roof won't come off until Monday because it's supposed to rain tonight, tomorrow and Friday. meh. What's another five days when we've waited this long, right?

Milo the dog is home!!!

Hooray! After we enlisted the help of the neighborhood where Milo was last seen, no less than five phone calls came in today when Milo went on his nightly run. After an hour of yelling (my throat is killing me), a neighbor called while she had him in her sights and we were able to corner him and bring him home. I cried happy tears and thanked her so much she probably thought I was a lunatic. I'm going to go back tomorrow with a thank you card and some candy as a gift.

I will finally be able to sleep tonight. My kid and my dog are both home safe and sound. And I am tired.

The office manager at my office got me a rosemary plant for luck today upon my return to work. I'm going to have to thank her too because it worked. :o)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Weird reading

I'm reading Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The book dustcover description of the book intrigued me, so I asked for and received the book for Christmas.

On a visit to her childhood home in Texas, Julie Powell pulls her mother's battered copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" off the bookshelf. And the book calls out to her. Pushing thirty, living in a run-down apartment in Queens, and working at a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell is stuck. Is she in danger of becoming just another version of the housewife-in-a-rut? Her only hope lies in a dramatic self-rescue mission. And so she invents a deranged assignment: in the space of one year, she will cook every recipe in the Julia Child classic, all 524 of them. No skips, no substitutions. She will track down every obscure ingredient, learn every arcane cooking technique, and cooke her way through sixty pounds of butter. And if it doesn't help her make sense of her life, at least she'll eat really, really well. How hard could it be?

Her journey through the chapter on aspics is hilarious. But what really got me was this...

I was being pulled relentlessly forward, not by my own will...and not by the people who needed me...but by some other implacable gravitational force, over the horizon or buried in the center of the earth. It frightened me, but there was no resisting.

How many of us put forth our own personal assignments like this?

If I do all these recipes...
If I find the right job...
If I learn how to crochet...
If I have a living baby...

We are constantly struggling through one assignment after another. All artificially created by ourselves in our attempt to have the "perfect life."

But the key here is to learn to enjoy the food along the journey...during the course of the assignment. The last chapter of the book talks about Julie's realization that the end of the assignment wasn't the goal. It was the assignment itself.

Upon hearing the Julia Child has died, shortly before the end of her project, Julie writes...

"And then I wrote the sentence: "I have no claim over the woman at all, unless it's the claim one who has nearly drowned has over the person who pulled her out of the ocean." And I started crying so hart I had to stop writing."

She later writes...

Sometimes, if you want to be happy, you've got to run away to Bath and marry a punk rocker. Sometimes you've got to dye your hair cobalt blue, or wander through remote islands in Sicily, or cook your way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (MtAoFC) in a year, for no very good reason. Julia taught me that."

I think I need to re-evaluate my assignments. The ones I have been working on haven't brought me much by way of happiness. This journey has been miserable. I need to find a different path. Fast.

eeks!

They will, "begin tearing the roof off tomorrow or Thursday and focus on getting everything re-enclosed as soon as possible."

Four-year-old perspective

After a year and three months, I paid the bill for our deductible for Alex's delivery. I paid it while sitting in Samuel's hospital room. But it felt like I turned a corner in that moment...moved forward somehow.

There I was again, in that place dealing with a situation that was entirely beyond my control. In a lot of ways, Sam taught me the most valuable lesson I could have learned. Throw a fit. Scream and yell and cry. And make it good and loud so you wake the neighbors and everybody knows how this sucks. And then have a chocolate chip cookie and watch some cartoons and move past it. Find the playroom and enjoy yourself. Continuing the fit ain't gonna change a damn thing about where you are at the moment except to give you a red nose, high blood pressure, and a hoarse voice from the screaming. And everybody agrees...it sucks that this is the way it is...but there is no magical cure. So deal with it the best you can.

It was time to let go of the anger and the pain. It's not going to bring Alex back. It's not going to make me more of a mommy. But it can make me less of a mommy if I'm not careful. I realize I have identified with women who have lost babies. Where are the women with whom I can identify having a four-year-old child? I have closed them out...all of them. I have lost sight of the mommy I AM by focusing on the mommy I'm not.

It's time to have a chocolate chip cookie, acknowledge how it sucks, and move forward. If my four-year-old son can do it, I should be able to.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We're home

The long and the short of it is this...the right hand didn't know what the left was doing. Sam's cultures came back and he doesn't need the horrible, make you throw up, medicine. The nurse was a bit miffed when she came in to take his vitals and found us packing up. Apparently nobody even told her we were discharged.

Lesson learned...no more teaching hospitals...ever.

Hugs and internet kisses to you all, my dear readers. I'm off to have dinner with my two guys, pass out some lost dog fliers, have some sort of adult beverage, and go to bed in my nice king sized bed.

I know they are MEDICAL professionals...

...but the way they treat people, as though they are nothing more than a set of symptoms and diagnoses, is so frustrating.

Can they not see that when they announce he can go home IF this and IF that, they are setting us up if the IF's don't work out right?

Can they not see that when they tell a little boy they have a playroom, that is it a cruel form of torture to then tell him he can't use it because the volunteer staff didn't bother to show up today and we are at their mercy?

Can they not see that 7:30am, when they waltz into the room, flip on the lights, and start talking at us, before we've even gained consciousness...before I've put my glasses on (not to mention before I've had any coffee)...that I am going to retain NOTHING?

Can they not see that trying to convince a four-year-old to eat is not going to happen when you stroll in and announce that he's going to have to stay here for two or three more days?

Can they not see that when they tell him he has to be hooked up to the IV "for a little while," that we parents are the ones left answering the, "is it done YET?" question a zillion times over the course of the TWO HOURS it actually takes? That we have to sit and deal with the, "This is taking FOREVER," temper tantrum that occurs during that time?

Does it matter at all when he starts crying when they say, "sorry kiddo, you get a double dose, that was only the first one, now is the second?" and they scurry from the room like rats from a sinking ship, leaving me as the one to take the, "Leave me alone," and the, "This isn't fair?"

How AM I supposed to handle it when my child is crying because all he wants to do is go play and you stand there talking to me about insurance and how he HAS to take the oral medication because insurance won't cover a five-day stay for just IV antibiotic treatment when there is an oral form available? What exactly would you like me to do?

They are supposed to be the medical professionals. The ones who deal with this stuff all the time. We are the ones in uncharted territory. This is about more than just the medicine. It's about a scared little boy and his scared parents who look to YOU for strength and advice. So maybe you could offer something more?

(And before I get blasted for an unfair opinion of the medical profession, I want to say that we have had some STELLAR doctors, nurses, and patient care assistants. And they have been noted by name in our personal journal and will receive special thank you's. But there are a few that are consistently bad. And there are some good ones that aren't always good. But I'm afraid the negative experiences leave a lasting negative impression because they make this harder than it already is.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Too much pressure for a (thirty-)four-year-old

"You can go home IF you eat and IF you can keep the oral version of your medication down (which, by the way, tastes terrible) and IF you promise to see your pediatrician tomorrow."

Excitement ensues.

So he ate a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries lovingly brought to him and stored in the fridge since lunch (when he was still refusing to eat).

And then they brought the oral medication to him (which, by the way, tastes terrible).

He threw up.

We're still here.

He's asleep and I'm crying.

Ain't this fun?

Things I will eventually write about:
~the hospital hunger strike and the nonstop comments on his food intake (or lack thereof)
~related to the hunger strike...just how close I came to killing a doctor
~related to the klling urge...just how close I came to having a breakdown and hurting a nurse and a nursing student
~the pee-catching and associated comments about that
~the playroom that is never open (and the child life specialist with a stick up her ass)
~the bouncing balls that weren't
~my child's early philanthropy efforts to single-handedly finance this hospital through penny donations at the donation drops that allow the coins to spin round and round and round
~my hysterical crying jags
~the 9,586,375,485,305 people who told Sam how cute he is
~the important things and perspective and desensitization

From the South Bend Tribune

August 06. 2006 6:59AM
Now I lay me down to sleep, Part 1: A pregnancy's frantic turn
OTHER STORIES IN THIS SERIES: NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP

First of four parts
HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Staff Writer

Brittany Baich craned her neck to see the screen as the technician spread cold gel across her swollen abdomen.

As soon as the small plastic device pressed down on her body, a black-and-white image of her healthy 37-week-old baby quickly appeared.

Brittany studied his perfect little profile in awe. She pointed to his eyes and nose as her own mom cried happy tears at the end of the bed at this first glimpse of her grandson.

Then, just as suddenly, the baby lifted one arm and then the other in front of his face, moving here and there and distorting their view.

Although her obstetrician ordered the exam that morning after she developed raised blood pressure and protein in her urine, misgivings never entered Brittany's mind. Sure, she was tired and nauseated in her first trimester late last summer, but her pregnancy had been complication-free.

"I hope it is a boy, I hope it is a boy," she kept thinking as the Memorial Hospital technician quietly collected her son's measurements.

Brittany broke the silence.

"Can you make sure this is a boy?" the 18-year-old bashfully asked. "Because I'll be really upset if it's a girl and she has to wear blue."

As the afternoon of March 8 turned to early evening, the doctors told Brittany she could go home. She was relieved to hear her blood pressure had returned to normal and things appeared fine on the ultrasound. And, yes, she would be delivering a baby boy.

Her mom drove her up Indiana 933 to Denny's, where they devoured big breakfast platters before she dropped Brittany home on the outskirts of downtown South Bend. Brittany climbed the steps to her second-floor apartment on Leland Avenue.

Feeling full and tired, Brittany couldn't resist the urge to lie down. A nap sounded perfect, because her boyfriend, 25-year-old Otis Wigfall, had not yet returned home from helping a friend build a fence in North Liberty. It was his day off work at local factory Handex.

Brittany awoke about 9 p.m. and started preparing for bed. She undressed and wrapped a towel around her big tummy before heading for the bathroom. She urinated into a plastic container, because the doctors instructed her to collect her urine for 24 hours.

That's when she felt a gush.

Startled, she looked over her pregnant stomach and saw blood streaming between her legs, spewing into the toilet.

"I was freaking out because I didn't know, Was I going into labor? But why am I not in pain? I started panicking because every time I moved an inch it seemed pints of blood would come out," she says.

She quickly pulled out her cell phone and called her father, who lived in the neighborhood. He was her backup plan in case Otis was working when she went into labor.

Brittany almost passed out, still bleeding as she hung up with her dad and frantically phoned Otis.

"I said, 'Maybe you're in labor, so calm down and just breathe,'" Otis recalls saying as he finished the fencing job, promising to start for home.

Hearing sirens, Brittany turned toward the bathroom door, "knowing if I didn't have the strength to go open the door downstairs that my son and I were going to die."

Blood dripped on the carpet as she stumbled down a steep flights of stairs and fumbled for the right key to unlock the door.

Slowly she lowered herself to the floor as her dad dashed up the sidewalk and opened the door. And as the ambulance arrived, questions raced through her head.

The EMTs placed Brittany, weak from blood loss, flat on her back on a stretcher. She put her hands on her stomach, moving them around nervously as the ambulance took off for the hospital.

Kick.

She felt her baby move for the first time since she started bleeding, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

"I figured he was going to be OK," says Brittany, who felt the baby change positions inside of her, as he had so many times in the last few months.

Meanwhile, Otis thought everything was fine with Brittany as he packed up his belongings in North Liberty. Then the 25-year-old received a call from Brittany's mom.

"She was like, 'You need to hurry up! Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?'" Otis says.

As soon as he hung up, the phone rang again. This time, it was Brittany's brother.

"He was like, 'Where the hell are you?' And that's when I knew something was really wrong," Otis says, "because he doesn't panic too much, he's pretty solid."

As he sped to the hospital, he wondered whether he would be too squeamish to cut his son's umbilical cord.

"I didn't think I was gonna be able to do it," says Otis, who feels queasy in hospitals and around blood.

As medics rushed Brittany into surgery, doctors asked a flurry of questions. "I was so confused," she says, "I didn't have any answers."

The doctors told her they were going to perform an emergency C-section. "And they put me under," she says.

After surgery, Brittany woke to see her dad, mom and two older brothers.

"Where's my baby?" Brittany asked her mom.

No response.

"Where's Otis?" she asked.

"He's coming."

"Where's my baby?" Brittany demanded.

Again, her mom was quiet.

Then without a word, her mom and brothers stood up and walked out.

Only her dad stayed.

Looking at his daughter, he gently spoke.

"I'm not going to lie to you. Your baby is going to die."

-------------------------------------------

August 07. 2006 6:59AM
Now I lay me down to sleep, Part 2: A heartbreaking decision

HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Staff Writer

Second of four parts

From her hospital bed, Brittany Baich looked up at her dad. He was overreacting, she thought. Her baby boy was not going to die.

"You know how you see all the medical shows on TV and everything goes so wrong but somehow it's always OK in the end? I thought maybe things really did go bad, but maybe things weren't completely wrong," she says. "I thought with all the technology, everything would be OK."

"And," she says, "I thought I got there quick enough."

Brittany was transported to Memorial Hospital after she started bleeding, 37 weeks into her pregnancy, at home. Her boyfriend, Otis Wigfall, arrived shortly after her emergency C-section, and a nurse showed them to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where doctors and nurses care for premature babies and babies born with health problems.

They washed their hands in sinks inside the door and then the nurse pushed Brittany's wheelchair inside the room.

The NICU is a place where babies are attached by wires to machines that flash heartbeats and breathing patterns, where some are fed by tubes, and others receive puffs of air in their noses. Lights flash and buzzers sound above swaddled infants inside incubators and on small open beds, alerting nurses to their changing conditions.

Brittany's little boy was lying in an open bed and a light was shining down to warm his body. The nurse wheeled Brittany to his side.

"Oh my gosh," she said in a whisper.

She looked at his beautiful face and dark wavy hair, so proud. And yet it was so heartbreaking to see the tubes and wires streaming from his body to the monitors and machines.

As tears trickled down her cheeks, Brittany did her best to stand. She raised her hand to gently run a finger across his soft skin, then she stroked his hair.

"What is his name?" a nurse gently inquired.

Brittany had invested hours thumbing through books of names from the library. A few times at work telemarketing at Americall in South Bend, colleagues warned her to put the books away.

She and Otis had narrowed the field down to five, but the couple hadn't agreed on the final selection.

"Braylin," she decided, and she asked the nurse for a pen and paper. After scribbling the name a few different ways, she decided on the spelling.

A nurse wrote his name, his weight, 5 pounds, 12 ounces, and his length, 19 inches, on a light blue card with a Sesame Street sticker in the corner and taped it to the bed.

She brought them a hospital camera, and Brittany and Otis took photos. Each tube and wire affixed to his little head, face and body connected him to a different machine. He appeared to be resting peacefully in just a diaper, his fingers curled under as his hands rested on his chest.

Brittany gently picked up his left hand and wrapped his fingers around hers.

That night, she went back to her room, but she could not begin to sleep without Braylin. She leaned back in bed awake, staring at nothing in particular, worrying about her baby.

Meanwhile, Brittany's mom, Kay, went back to her daughter's apartment. "I walked in and saw the baby things, and there was blood everywhere -- I wasn't prepared for that."

On Thursday morning, Dr. Femi Okanlami entered their room and sat beside them. He immediately recognized Otis, who had gone to Marian High School with his daughter.

Braylin had shown no signs of life at birth, the doctor informed them, and it took more than five minutes of resuscitation for doctors to find a heartbeat.

"He explained I had an abruption and (Braylin) was without food and oxygen for too long," Brittany says.

Okanlami told Brittany not to blame herself; she did nothing wrong.

"I thought maybe I ate too much" at Denny's, she says.

"They also explained to me if I had not gotten to the door downstairs to unlock it, or I would have waited five minutes longer, I would've died because I was hemorrhaging."

Brittany was lucky.

But Braylin was without air for so long, he suffered significant brain damage. And that damage couldn't be reversed, so continuing life support did not offer any certainties.

He might never awaken.

He might not be able to feed himself, or walk, or talk.

"The doctor told us keeping him on the machines was just prolonging his death," Brittany says. "There was nothing else we could do."

They talked about their options in private, letting Okanlami know a little while later that they wanted to take Braylin off the ventilator.

Memorial chaplain Bridget Smith asked the couple if they wanted Braylin to be baptized. They agreed and asked her to administer the sacrament.

Brittany, Otis, their parents and a number of other relatives all gathered around Braylin's bedside, where curtains helped provide some privacy in the intensive care unit.

For the first time, Brittany held her little boy.

She felt so nervous.

"I didn't want to disconnect anything," she says. "And I didn't want to rock him or hold him wrong because I had never held a baby before."

Otis knelt beside her as they gently laid a little white gown over Braylin, and Bridget began to speak.

Today we bring this infant, Braylin, to Jesus, believing He reaches out to receive him in His arms and blesses him.

Braylin, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then family members said their good-byes and departed.

Brittany and Otis stayed, lovingly cuddling, kissing and hugging Braylin.

"Part of us wanted to keep him on the machines as long as possible, but to see him like that ..." Otis says. "We didn't want to remember him like that."

A nurse started to turn each machine off and remove each tube and wire. As the final machine shut down, it made a gentle whooshing sound.

It was 1:20 p.m.

Brittany wept as she cradled Braylin in her wheelchair. Otis cried as he placed one hand on Braylin's head and the other on Brittany's shoulder.

"After they removed his lifeline, we didn't think he was going to make it two minutes," Otis says. "We thought that was it."

Then, something happened.

They heard tiny breaths.

-------------------------------------------

August 08. 2006 6:59AM
Now I lay me down to sleep, Part 3: Cherishing every moment

HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Staff Writer

Third of four parts

Every breath brought hope. Brittany Baich and boyfriend Otis Wigfall wondered: If Braylin could breathe on his own, maybe he would be OK after all.

"We thought, 'Wow, they were wrong, he's going to live. He's going to live,' " Otis says.

A minute passed.

Then two. Then three.

As Braylin kept breathing, a nurse suggested they take him back to their room for privacy. Once there, Memorial Hospital chaplain Bridget Smith asked them whether they wanted to collect some keepsakes.

"Brittany said yes, whatever we had to offer she wanted because she really wanted to remember the time she had with Braylin," Bridget says.

She made handprints and footprints with the parents. A nurse helped them cut a lock of Braylin's dark brown hair, which Otis thinks would have looked like his.

Bridget showed the couple a "remembering" heart necklace. They would place the small inside heart around Braylin's neck, later, and keep the large outer heart for themselves.

And they took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

"I held him on my chest so he could hear my heart beat," Brittany says. "I don't think I let Otis hold him that much."

"No, not at first," Otis says. "Then she asked me if I wanted to hold him, and I said, 'Now that's a dumb question.' "

Sometimes Braylin breathed normally, and it looked and sounded as if he was asleep.

At those times, "We thought he was too strong, he couldn't die," Otis says.

Then Braylin would stop.

He would start turning blue, his body would stiffen and he would clench his tiny fists.

"He wouldn't breathe for like a minute," Brittany says, "then out of nowhere he would gasp for air. That happened so many times, and every time we thought it was the last."

Every second they held him seemed like an eternity. It was during these sacred but painful hours that Bridget told them about a photographer.

About Eileen Dimino.

"I told them there is a photographer in town who would donate her time to photograph a baby who is terminal," she says. "They were such a nice family and Braylin was so photogenic. I thought it would be important for them."

Eileen arrived with cameras and flashes in hand about 8 p.m. Thursday. "I didn't know what to expect, but I was able to treat them like a regular family."

She hung a black backdrop in their room and gently issued instructions for different poses with their son.

"Dad, move this way."

"Mom, if it's OK with baby, let's move him that way."

The mood was solemn, even more so when Braylin gasped for air. Everything and everyone would stop and look until he drew another breath.

Eileen stayed about 15 minutes. "He's so beautiful," she told the parents before she left, having taken about a dozen photos. "You're so blessed."

Otis, Brittany and her mother took turns holding Braylin overnight.

He was never set down.

Nurses came in periodically to check his vital signs. The one time they took him out of the room, only a few seconds passed before Brittany frantically hit the nurse's button on her bed. "I wanted my baby," she remembers.

Otis said they kept trying to will Braylin to wake up, so the three could go home.

He held Braylin on his lap for a while, kind of tickling his left foot, when the baby suddenly jerked his leg "as if to say, 'Leave me alone,'" Otis says.

Braylin's leg movement was something Otis would not tell Brittany about until months later. He was afraid it would give her more false hope.

The chaplain greeted the couple early Friday morning, asking what they needed. "It is a roller coaster not knowing, but it is a peaceful time, too," she says. "The family savored every moment."

She asked Brittany and Otis if they wanted to take Braylin outside. Early that afternoon, they bundled him up in a blue and yellow quilt made by volunteers and held Braylin in the courtyard in front of the hospital, watching and waiting.

"We finally got to be alone with no one telling us what to do," Otis says.

Braylin began struggling again, "so we went back to the room," Brittany says.

He breathed and stopped. Breathed and stopped.

Then everything was silent.

"I thought he was going to start breathing again," Brittany says.

But he didn't.

Two-day-old Braylin took his last breath at 1:15 p.m. Friday, cradled in the arms of his mom.

-------------------------------------------

August 09. 2006 6:59AM
Now I lay me down to sleep, Part 4: 'He's right here with me'
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP: THOSE WHO CRADLE MICHIANA'S LITTLEST PATIENTS

HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Staff Writer
Last of four parts

Before calling a nurse, Brittany Baich and Otis Wigfall cuddled close to Braylin. They would never know the sound of his voice or the color of his eyes.

"That's what I wanted him to do so bad. I wanted him to see his mommy and daddy," Brittany said.

Even though Braylin never opened his eyes to see the world and people around him, Brittany takes comfort from the fact that he lived long enough to hear their voices and to feel their touch.

He breathed on his own for a full 24 hours.

"Braylin didn't want to go to heaven yet. He wanted to spend time with his family and make some memories. When he accomplished that, he let go," she said softly.

His funeral was on the following Tuesday. The service was small.

Brittany and Otis mounted Eileen Dimino's photos of Braylin on posterboard for family to see. Dr. Femi Okanlami and members of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit nursing staff attended.

"Not only are we doctors, we are human beings, too, and feel the loss," the doctor said.

There, chaplain Bridget Smith recounted the story of David and Goliath.

The chaplain compared the armor David took off to fight the giant to the monitoring wires and oxygen lines Braylin found he could live, at least for a little while, without.

"He stayed alive for so long, even though they took all of his armor off," Otis said of the story later, with emotion. "He stayed alive and kept fighting."

At his funeral, Braylin wore an outfit of light blue, with a football patch on the front and a blue cap on his head. It was supposed to be the outfit he wore home.

Before his casket was shut, Brittany and Otis took a final few photos of their baby and said their final goodbyes.

Kneeling beside the coffin, Otis and Brittany placed inside with Braylin the black cap Otis wore those two days at the hospital and a pair of little Iverson shoes. And they gave him a small football.

He was buried at 1 p.m. at Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, the last plot in a row of other babies and children, on a cold March morning.

Under a shelter at his grave, Bridget recited a bedtime prayer that Otis said when he was a little boy:

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.


***

Brittany and Otis are still together in their Leland Avenue apartment.All they have are keepsakes. A little newborn diaper. A bag of tubes that connected Braylin to monitors. His white baptismal gown. Their part of a heart necklace that they placed around him before the casket was closed. And photos -- dozens of photos.

Family snapshots are preserved in an album on Brittany's dresser. The professional photos mounted on posterboard from Braylin's funeral lean up against their living room wall, resting on a wooden diaper changing table.

"I see them every day," Brittany says of the images Dimino took of her son hours before he died the afternoon of March 10.

Someday, Brittany will show her future children what their brother, her firstborn child, looked like.

"The photos have helped me heal," she says. "I just take a look at the pictures and remember him being in my arms, breathing on his own."

When she is having a hard time falling asleep, Brittany relaxes by listening to Braylin. After he was taken off the ventilator, Otis taped their baby breathing into Brittany's cell phone.

On the surprisingly clear recording, Braylin sounds as if he is asleep and snoring, first very softly, then louder.

Brittany often holds it up to her ear, pressing it over and over again. Otis one day hopes to stream the minute-long sounds on a tape for several minutes so Brittany could simply press "play."

"But I can't listen to it," Otis says tenderly, looking downward. "It makes me cry."

Months later, a question lingers in Brittany's mind.

"I wonder why it happened and why it happened like that and I don't know why," she says.

"I don't know what the reason is, either," Otis adds. "But he's in a better place and one day I'll know what the reason is. Had Eileen not come to take the pictures, it would be so much worse, because we're still going through stuff right now."

A few times, they have watched a DVD of photos set to "Hush Little Baby" that Dimino made. Brittany's older brother, Adam, made her a second DVD to snapshots the family took, set to "If I Saw You in Heaven," by Eric Clapton.

"When I watch the slide show I feel like I'm holding Braylin again. I feel as though he's right here with me in my arms," Brittany says.

In her dreams, she sees Braylin, and he opens his eyes.

"And everything is OK," she says.

When they first came home, they saw two little boys running in the neighborhood. Brittany and Otis looked at one another and said, "Yep, that would be Braylin, running around and jumping up and down."

Every Monday is "cemetery day," when they head south in their black Lincoln Town Car to visit Braylin.

A small marker reads, "Braylin Lamar Baich, March 8, 2006 to March 10, 2006." Otis and Brittany are saving for a larger, heart-shaped headstone where they will etch Braylin's photo and the saying, "Our little warrior."

What does their future hold? Brittany and Otis are talking about marriage. Even though their families lived just a few houses apart when they were growing up in South Bend, a recent trip Brittany took with Otis' family was an important one.

Do they want to have more children?

"I do," Brittany quickly says.

Otis does not respond right away.

"For her to have to go through all this," Otis says, looking down at his son's grave. "We have to take it a day at a time. I want to have more kids, but not right now."

Staff writer Heidi Prescott: hprescott@sbtinfo.com (574) 235-6070

-------------------------------------------

August 09. 2006 6:59AM
A record of their stay on earth
Photographer works to document dying babies

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP: THOSE WHO CRADLE MICHIANA'S LITTLEST PATIENTS

HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- All Eileen Dimino has to remember her father by are memories and a few pictures.

Her father died when she was 5. She has always wished she had more photos taken with her dad.

"I see the same ones of me with him over and over again; I was the third kid, so I didn't get the same attention" photo-wise as her older siblings, she says. It is one reason she became a photographer.

Another reason is the time she spent abroad as a Saint Mary's College sophomore: She took 70 rolls of photos in less than seven months in Rome.

Dimino spent the first few years after college working at photography studios in the South Bend area and elsewhere in the state, where she learned the ins and outs of taking pictures of babies and children.

Babies cannot be rushed, while the typical youngster will follow instruction for as long as 15 minutes. And Dimino is not above using Gerber puffs and candy as bribery, she says with a chuckle.

But in October, she learned about a relatively new national program called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep during a photographers seminar in Illinois. This is the story they heard:

A Denver photographer received a phone call in February 2005 from a man who asked her to come to the hospital to photograph his newborn baby. Starting to schedule something for the following week, the man said, "No thanks, that will be too late." His son would be removed from life support that night.

The photographer instantly cleared her schedule. She took pictures of the baby and his parents while he breathed on the respirator, then without any tubes and wires, realizing there would be no chance for retakes. The death of their baby boy was devastating, but the photos helped them heal."We were all bawling, and Michael (her husband) and I cried in the parking lot," Dimino recalls, "and we said, 'How can we not take part in this?'æ"

After Christmas, she contacted chaplain Bridget Smith at Memorial Hospital in South Bend and told her about the program. Dimino asked if she could forge a partnership, of sorts, with the hospital to be called upon to photograph a baby who is going to die.

She met with Smith, who spoke with Memorial officials about Dimino and Traditions, her relatively new photography studio in South Bend, and her intentions.

"She knows how important the photos are as keepsakes," Smith says, "for a family to have a record that their child was here, and was significant, and was loved."

Dimino received the call about Braylin Baich the afternoon of March 9.

"She asked how quickly I could come, and I said about 9 (at night)," she recalls.

Could she arrive any sooner? Smith knew Braylin could take his last breath at any moment.

"I told them I would try," Dimino says, knowing she had to find a baby sitter for her son, Jacob, since Michael was not home yet from teaching at Culver Community School. Her regular baby sitter was busy, so her baby sitter's grandmother offered to help out that evening.

Dimino arrived about 8 and took about a dozen snapshots of Braylin, his mom, Brittany Baich, and dad, Otis Wigfall, in their private room.

"I encouraged her to make sure and take her time with the family, not to feel rushed, but to make this another experience for the family to remember," Smith says.

The hospital chaplain first calls Dimino or another participating photographer to see whether someone is available. Then the chaplain will inform the family about the program and give them the photographer's contact information.

"This is not something I'm doing for money or publicity, and it is not a program you want to do by yourself. The more photographers we get on board the better," Dimino says. "I hope I never have to be in a situation like these families. I want to help as much as I can."

Friday, August 18, 2006

More fun at the hospital

(moved over to Sam-a-lama's blog)

It's official...I hate my husband and my son

ALL.DAY. I spent ALL DAMN DAY trying to get Samuel to eat. I tried EVERYTHING. The happy picnic lunch together. Logic. Threats. Offering rewards. Begging. Pleading. All I got was, "I want to go home," and, "never," and the ever popular, "just shutup and leave me alone, I'm not in a good mood right now."

Daddy, the fun-meister, shows up from having spent time at home doing chores during my Chinese-water-torture-of-an-afternoon, says, "Let's share a grilled cheese sandwich," and the kid is ALL OVER IT. CAN'T EAT FAST ENOUGH. AND IS NOW ON HIS WAY DOWN TO THE CAFETERIA TO GET ANOTHER SANDWICH.

Yes, I'm irked. I'm tired, I'm bored, I'm angry at the universe...and I have apparently lost "the touch" with my son. I have resorted to three crying jags in two different bathrooms and a family living center room in this place. I literally had to walk away from my son for fear I was going to scream at him. I haven't been this wound tight since right after he was born and I was completely lost as to what to do with him.

I guess I haven't grown too much in four years. And here I thought I was doing so well.

For Jaye...because I live to entertain :o)

1. If you had to set your own work schedule; 8 hours per day; 5 days per week. Which days and hours would you choose?

I really enjoy my current 8am-4:30pm. Seven isn't too bad to wake up and getting home at 5pm (when I had a car) leaves some daylight to play with.

2. What Reality Show would you be on and why?

HGTV's Design Star. I love interior decorating. And you don't have to eat anything gross.

3. What is the last book you read?

Currently reading Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. I don't remember the last book I actually finished reading.

4. There are many songs that bring us back to a certain memory. What song(s) do you HATE to hear for that very reason?


Kenny Chesney's Who You'd Be Today.

5. If you could go back in time to be any place in world history, what time would you choose and what country / place?

I would love to visit Medieval England. Live in a castle. Wear beautiful gowns. Chivalry alive and well. Maybe I over-romanticize just a bit...but it's not like it's actually going to happen, so I guess there's no harm in it.

6. Do you know more than one language? Which one(s)?

Un pequeno Espanol (but I don't know where the little squiggle is for the n's on my computer keyboard).

7. What is your favorite blog? Please link it. One only (Okay, I'll grant you two or three, I'm easy that way).

Sine you let me have up to three... :o)

msfitzita...I am in love with her descriptive abilities

Julia...here is a woman who has every reason to be bitter and angry...but instead she manages to keep going with shared laughter

Amalah...quirky, funny, smart...but with a steely edge and a strength that is inspiring

8. What is your favorite web site?

This one or bloglines! lol Seriously...outside of blog world? hmmm...probably my June mommy message board or the Silent Grief message board for stillbirth mommies. There is strength in numbers for me.

9. Your house is on fire, the people and pets you love are safe and you can grab one other "thing", what are you taking?

My computer. It has all our pictures of our boys on it.

10. You have $100 to spend in the next hour. How are you spending it? (Saving it or giving it away not permitted.)

Well, $100 won't buy many decent lawyer clothes for work...and I always feel the need to maximize a dollar...so probably clothes for Sam. That kid grows like a weed.

Feel free to play along and leave Jaye a comment that you're participating. Thanks!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I just want this all to be over for you Catherine

I saw her today. And it all came back to me. I remember her, so clearly, fussing with my IV as she said, "I just want this all to be over for you Catherine." We all struggled through the labor that would eventually deliver Alex's body from mine, but she seemed particularly annoyed that I would take up her time in pushing him out into the world. I knew she thought I should have him cut from my body...I just got that sense from her. And her unspoken judgments stung, since I knew she probably had no idea what it meant...any of it. Seeing her today, I know she still doesn't understand any of it.

The woman in the NICU wheelchair that the nurse pushed was wearing a hospital gown and clutching a beautiful bouquet of flowers...and an empty infant carrier. She had that empty look...hollow...like she was just being swept along the tide of her life to the next moment...completely lacking any control, any dignity, any hope. I don't know her. But I am her.

I worked hard not to cry. I sat with my back to the windows to that room...the room that overlooks the atrium...room 17...the room in the corner where Alex left me forever.

I chewed as much as I could of my burger without choking. I looked up and saw the lights on and I wondered if there was a live or a dead baby entering the world in that room. I wondered if the woman in the wheelchair wasn't in that room earlier, before her ride in the wheelchair pushed by our impatient nurse. I wondered...as I am her...is she me? Do we share that horrible experience in room 17?

I just want this all to be over for you Catherine.

Believe me nurse...so do I.

But it's never over.

(the children's hospital where Sam is currently in residence is directly connected to the women's hospital where Alex was stillborn...they share an atrium and cafeteria)

Back off freaky happy people! (frustration and negative feedback)

The full spectrum is here at the freaking shiniest happiest hospital on the planet. And I can not smile at one more volunteer, patient care assistant, nurse or med student or doctor-in-training or actual doctor. Not while my son is sick. Not while the child in the next room is screaming her head off. Not while I feel as though I haven't slept in a month. Don't come in here and ask me if there's anything you can do for me. No, there is NOTHING you can do for me. Back the hell off, give my kid his medicine, and imagine what it's like to be in my shoes. This happy crap is really starting to piss me off.

PMS...check. Lack of sleep...check. Irritable child in need of an attitude adjustment...check. The trifecta of a great day. And all of these caregivers are on speed or something. Seriously, do they teach them that tone of voice at medical school or what? I expect syrup to drip from their lips as they smile those smiles at my son (who really could care less whether they are even in the room).

And is there some rule that moms and dads suddenly lose all person-hood once you enter a hospital with your child? Yeah, the kid's fever is up...he just got done screaming and crying for fifteen minutes. Yeah, the kid is refusing to eat because he wants to go home. Yeah, the kid won't take the damn motrin. What do you want me to do about it? Leave him alone for fifteen freaking minutes and let him step down off the ledge he's been clinging to since yesterday when he lost all control of his little life. Heck, let ME step down off the ledge too. Back off and stop telling us that he needs to take more Motrin right now...that he needs to eat...blah blah blah. If you have some magic answer for how to achieve these things, more power to you. But having been his mom for four years, I THINK I carry a little more weight than you as far as his opinion goes...so shut up and let me talk to my kid!

And let me tell you something else...no more teaching sessions. He's FOUR. He doesn't need to hear about antibiotic resistent bacteria and treatment possibilities and how LONG he's going to be stuck here in this place. He does not need a dozen people filing into the room to stand around his bed and talk about him like he's not even here. He does not need you chasing him down in the playroom with the IV pole and informing him that he won't be able to play anymore because you have to hook him up (we'll get him to the room...just give us a minute to do it so that we get minimal resistance). And he does NOT need students accosting him in the BATHROOM to look at his leg. For Christ's sake, he's not a freak, he's a little boy and you have just crossed the line. He's asleep...let him sleep...or I will hurt you. And I have just the attitude to do it right now.

***And one more thing. It is NOT MY JOB to alert you when the damn beeper starts going off on the IV monitor. Figure out how long it's going to take to deliver the medication and come back at the right time. I'm tired of hunting you down to turn off the freaking beep!

(Just so I'm clear, this is not a condemnation of the freaky happy people, but more a realization of MY limits. I'm tired, frustrated, angry, sad, and basically at the end of my proverbial rope.)

This is better?

So I had nightmares all night (the whole four hours of sleep I got)...about Sam, and our missing dog, and the screaming baby in the room next door.

If I start to cry I may never stop.

Sam's leg is better and worse this morning. I'm told it's normal to look bigger before it looks smaller...oooohhh-kayyy. But he seems to be feeling better and is currently eating an apple. He is amused by the constant stream of doctors and med students in and out of his room. He is quite the showman. And if one more woman gushes about how cute he is, I fear we won't be able to fit his head into the van for the ride home (whenever that may be).

Milo the dog is still missing. No signs that he has been back home. I fear he is gone forever. I miss him already.

Seriously...I KNOW it could be worse...but I'm not sure I can take any more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

As if this day couldn't get any better

9:00 PM Cathy's cell rings. It is her mother. One of our dogs took off into the woods across the street and won't come home.

***So I fly home (an hour drive in forty minutes...yes mom, I was speeding...sue me) and stand in the darkness in the driveway and yell and yell and yell. I THINK I hear the dog barking in the distance, but no sightings. Could be him, could just be a neighbors dog enjoying the game (I yell, he barks back, and on and on and on). I can't very well pull on my hip waders and walk around in the unfamiliar dark forest by myself. So after a brief meltdown, I pull myself together, manage to let at least a couple of the dogs outside (though I'm not sure now, looking back on it, that I let them ALL out...that's going to be a lovely mess when we get home), fed and watered the horses, and barely managed to stay awake to get back to the hospital.

But walking in, my heart was suddenly lighter when I heard a little voice say, "Daddy! Mommy's back!" I miss the dog, but God I love that kid.

Just when you thought you were safe...

Pardon the changes in tense and voice...some of this is as it is happening and some of it is subject to my poor recall.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I'm marking time this morning. My baby is sick...and by baby, I mean, of course, my very independent big kid. He complained of a sore throat and general achiness Monday night. Yesterday he developed a weird rash with blisters on his right leg and a rather high fever by bedtime. Today, his daddy is taking him to the doctor while I sit here and try to concentrate on work. I do that a lot lately, so you would think I'm good at it. But this is different. This is my baby. My one and only living baby.

Despite losing Alex and Travis, I have lived the last two years without any sort of weird psychological tics that make me worry uncontrollably about other family and friends. I don't know. Maybe because the danger seemed to be totally within myself, so I could rationally not worry about anyone outside of it. But as I lay in bed last night, air conditioner AND fan blowing, placing cold washcloths on my boy's body trying to cool him down, I started to panic. My baby is sick. My one and only living baby. Oh.My.God.

The thoughts that ran through my head were too horrible to speak out loud. And my darling husband did not help much by consulting Dr. Google on horrible things like West Nile Virus...at which point I calmly told him to, "Put the computer away now." (I really wanted to tell him what an ass he was being as I melted into a complete puddle of tears. But I wanted to maintain at least an outward appearance of calmness for my baby boy.) (and yes, this IS a dig at my husband. I think after all this time of keeping this blog, one or two are allowed to slip through, especially when they help to explain my insanity in some sort of context...I mean really...West Nile?!?! Does he HAVE TO be so damn comforting?!?!)

So I sit here watching the minutes tick past. 10:10am...finally...appointment at 10:20am...have to go through the "infectious" entrance...my baby boy...10:13am...

What if it IS something horrible? My Sam is strong. We were just at his four-year check-up and the doctor had said, "Has he really been this healthy?" That's when we realized that he hasn't been to the doctor since his check-up last year. Yes, he HAS been that healthy. So what IS this? How much SHOULD we worry? He's all we have.

So now the fear sets in. Irrational? I don't think so. Not anymore. I've learned the hard way that things don't go according to "plan" or according to "the laws of nature." It's all upside down, inside out, turning round and round. I won't let the fear take hold of me so completely that I am paralyzed...but I have been foolish not to see it staring at me from different places outside of myself.

10:20...I hope the doctor isn't running late.

Damn it! The universe, God, whatever better damn well stop picking on my kids! We're off to the hospital for a day or two for IV antibiotics...for what the doctor calls a bacterial infection of the skin. Our pediatrician was going to prescribe regular antibiotics, but a consulting pediatrician said the faster route would be better, "Just to be safe." Good Christ...I can NOT take anymore of this! I give! You win! Leave us alone!

12:45pm Stop at Speedway for gas. Steve has lost his ATM card. Another fun thing to worry about today.

2:00pm Arrive at hospital. First, we arrived at the Pediatric ER to be greeted with confused looks. Cellulitis of the eye? uh...no...(pointing to his leg)...the leg. And he's not four months old either is he? uh...no...four YEARS. Steve and I have made a vow that Sam will NEVER be left alone in this place. They very well could amputate something important while we're not here to protect him.

3:00pm I almost have a nervous breakdown in the bathroom after washing my hands. That soap...they still use that same soap.

4:30pm Hurry up and wait. The fun part of the program is yet to come. An IV. God help us, how are we going to do this? And our little trooper just wants to get this over with so he can go to McDonald's. He says, "This is taking FOREVER...!" hehehe...he got his patience from his mama.

4:45pm The child life specialist brings in two Tonka trucks and a basket of wooden train track and a battery-operated Thomas the Tank Engine. Score!

5:00pm Talk to grandma and try not to scream at her. It's not her fault, but I just feel so damn angry...I hope she understands (another thing to worry about).

5:30pm Order spaghetti and meatballs for Sam for dinner.

6:00pm IV line inserted, blood sample and cultures of blister juice taken amidst a lot of screaming and yelling...Sam...not me or Steve.

6:30pm Try to get Sam to eat spaghetti and meatballs...he won't touch it.

6:45pm Send Steve to parking garage to get Sam's Thomas the Tank Engine toys from the van (I forgot them in our mad dash into the Pediatric ER with our laptop, camera, suitcase, crochet bag, purse, stuffed animals and red blankie...Steve was carrying Sam).

6:55pm Moved to a new, private, room. The first room was a shared room and the people next door were not exactly what you would call quiet. Plus, we shared a bathroom and the poor boy, who is hooked up to an IV himself, kept getting caught in the curtain that was supposed to separate our areas as he went in and out of the bathroom. Poor kid was probably worried we were gonna see something private that we didn't really want to see.

7:00pm Steve returned with the Thomas the Tank Engine toys...and without the valet ticket that we will need to get possession of our van again. Batting a thousand so far today, I sent him to the cafeteria with my ATM card. What am I? Stupid?!?!

7:05pm Discover that our new room has a videotape of Bob the Builder in it. Score! He eats!

7:15pm Steve returned WITH my ATM card AND the valet pass! woohoo! our luck is improving? Though we're still waiting for the damn IV antibiotics there IS food...so it's not all bad, I guess.


7:20pm The medicine arrives! It's gonna get better from here...it's gonna get better from here...it's gonna get better from here...or else.

8:15pm Steve joins Sam in his already over-active attitude. (At some point today he told me he didn't have to do something because he's "too cute." oy!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stuck home with the kid...

...and even Bob the Builder annoys me.

Wendy and Dizzy, talking about building a new dove house...

Dizzy: How many doves will go in there Wendy?

Wendy: Just a few to start with Dizzy. But after they settle in they'll probably have some babies.

Dizzy: ooohh...

Me: sigh

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sam's photography

so tired

I am sooooo tired...very busy weekend...pictures to follow...must sleep work...zzzzzzzzzz...no, I'm awake...really...

zzzzzzzzzzz...........

How tired am I? I just realized, on my third trip to the bathroom today, that I was wearing my underwear inside out.

Somebody get me some caffeine!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy 12th Anniversary My Love

Well Steve, what are we gonna do to top the last twelve years? We sure have had an adventure, haven't we?

That first year with no sofa, sitting on the floor of our little apartment in Podunk, Indiana where neither of us wanted to be, eating macaroni and cheese and watching that little television (twelve inches, was it?)... But you know, I look back at the pictures from that time and I see us with all the possibility in front of us. It was hard, but there was a possibility of more.

And now here we are. So much achieved...most good...some really good...some bad...some really bad. So much possibility still remains. Remember that. Remember that no matter what life throws our way and no matter how badly today sucks, tomorrow holds possibility. I never in a million years would have guessed we would be visiting our boys' graves on the weekend of our anniversary. But the rest is better than it was in my imagination. Our home, our zoo, our boy, and us. When I think of it all, I still have to pinch myself to believe it is real...that WE have achieved all this (happiness and sadness)...together.

Thank you for holding my hand...and for holding me up. Thank you for making me smile...and for letting me cry. Thank you for making my life the gloriously messy and beautiful experience I always dreamed it could be. Thank you for being my friend and my love.

I love you and I always will.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Boring boring boring...but I post it anyway

I am inspired to share what I will be doing this weekend...but...uh...not much. lol

Tonight I'm going to dinner with my hubster...who is currently enjoying ice cream courtesy of his boss...all in the name of a "meeting." I think we need to work on this as a concept for meetings around my work.

Hopefully before we head off to dinner we'll get out to the cemetery to get the boys' flowers planted. Red mums...Sam chose them because his favorite color is red. I love that kid.

We also have to hit Walmart to buy my mom's late birthday present. We're getting one of those firepit tables for her for her garden sitting/swing area. It comes in a set and there are four chairs. We're still debating how to split up the set, but we'll be taking at least two of the chairs to sit on our brand new front porch (if it ever actually gets built).

Tomorrow is the highly anticipated take-the-four-year-old-to-the-fair-to-ride-on-rides-until-he-throws-up trip. Should be fun. :o)

I'm also helping transport some dogs to rescue tomorrow afternoon...a good excuse to find myself in Erie, PA where there is no tax on clothing...cause I NEED some new clothes. hehehe But I can't indulge in too much shopping since I will be meeting up with the amazing Julie next weekend for some outlet mall shopping. I'm all excited and trying to budget for that.

Sunday is work at home day. I figure I'll have some tomatoes to pick, some weeds to pull, and Steve has some grass to mow.

Then Sunday evening I have to get over to help my mom pack up her glass items at the medieval faire she's been working at for the past six weekends. We didn't make it out to visit the faire this year...or last year...I just wasn't in the mood. Maybe next year...

And that's it. That is the boredom that is our life. I'm looking forward to it. I have to get OUT of this office. I've been sort of stuck here since I hurt my ankle and these four walls are starting to close in on me.

If I don't talk to you...have a great weekend!

Fair Etiquette

I spent my lunch hour walking over to the county fair. It took me the entire hour despite being a mere two blocks from work because of this dang ankle. But the lure of grease-laden munchies beckoned and I have resisted all week, so I felt it was time.

I spent a good portion of the time walking and talking with a woman who has never had a corn dog. I personally can't believe that such a life exists. Where would I be without corn dogs? My...what a different life that would be.

So B mentioned that she might be pizza for lunch. Pizza! At a fair! Again, I was flabbergasted. It was clear that some education was in order. There will be, henceforth, the following rules about the fair culinary experience...

You may indulge in any of the following:
~anything on a stick
~anything deep fried
~anything made with local ingredients and sold by 4Hers
~anything made of or covered in sugar
~anything served in a bucket

Other tips:
~once you go to sugar, do not go back to grease
~walk slowly so as not to upset your stomach
~stay out of the cow barn immediately before and after eating

Our thoughts go out to Sherry

Sherry's Dad passed away yesterday, the day before the anniversary of her Ryan's passing (today). Please hold her close in your thoughts as she walks down her path of grief.
I didn't make it to the cemetery last night. I'll try to get there tonight. At the very least, with the prospect of "date night" tonight (our anniversary is Sunday, but we take the grandparental babysitter when we can get her), I won't fall completely apart while I'm there. Right.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'll tell you when you're wallowing

When Alex died, a friend emailed me and asked about him. I was in those initial moments when I feared that my grief would frighten friends away and I told her so. She told me she loved me and that I could trust her to tell me when I was merely engaging in self-indulgent wallowing. She hasn't said anything about it since.

I have been grieving for one reason or another for over a year.

God, to see that statement typed out like that makes me sound so pitiful. And I suppose I am, to some extent. So...

How long is too long? Do I start all over every time the universe steals a child from my belly? Or am I supposed to start off further along down the road, taking less time to travel the path to "healed?"

At this point, I don't even know if I'm really grieving or if I've stumbled into full blown depression. I am impatient with myself and I know others are impatient with me. But at the same time, I can't shake it. I'm not feeling this way out of a sense of obligation to my children. I just feel this way...it's not a conscious choice.

How do I get out of this? Can I get out of this? Is it too early to expect that I could get out of it?

One year ago today I was writing about visiting the perinatologist for our 'preconception consultation.' There was information and conflict, but there was hope. That hope now has a name and is buried next to his brother.

And today here I sit with little to no hope and this blanket of sadness. At one point, I thought I kept it surrounding me because it was comfortable, having become something I was used to carrying with me. But now I realize it's with me not because I want it there, but because it is somehow attached to me...I am not able to rid myself of it.

Part of me feels like it's ok. I keep telling myself that three months isn't that long in the grand scheme of things. At three months out from losing Alex I was still crying daily.

But part of me feels like I'm an old pro at this and I should just be over it already. I mean really, it's not like this is new or anything. So I don't understand why it hurts so much.

I'm going tonight to plant flowers on my sons' graves. I used to go all the time and I looked forward to the catharsis because there are, in my opinion, no better cleansing tears than cemetery tears. I don't do this much anymore because we only have one car and I don't have the freedom to go at will. But I will go tonight and I don't mind admitting that I'm afraid of the tears. I'm afraid of the feelings they will bring forth and I'm afraid of what will be left of me after the catharsis is over.

Attention clothing manufacturers

I understand that long skirts are 'hot' right now. But I am only 5'5" and I have freakishly short legs. I look like I'm playing dress-up in my mother's clothing when I wear long skirts. Could you do me a favor and make one or two normal length skirts. I'm not picky. Basic color and design so I can mix and match would be fine.

Maybe you could lay off the cute little lace insets and embroidered crap too. Further, I do not, nor do MOST women, look good in a Peter Pan color. In fact, the last time I wore a Peter Pan color, I was...oh...EIGHT!

Thank you.

PS...Save a tree...Don't send me a flyer advertising all these great sale prices if you do not have the items in stock!

Congratulations Julie!!!

Julie passed her boards!

CONGRATULATIONS JULIE!!!

The victim of a decimal point

My aunt went to see her surgeon yesterday. Yes, that's the opening line to a not so funny joke. My aunt went to see her surgeon yesterday and he told her that there seems to have been a misplaced decimal point somewhere in her pathology report. They did find cancerous cells, but based on the imaging, it's nowhere near as bad as she was led to believe. In fact, he thinks it's relatively minor...if you can call having any cancerous cells in your body minor. She will have an MRI next week to really figure out what's going on and then they will plan the lumpectomy from there.

I think I hear the phrase, "You're fired," in someone's future. Someone else's bad luck is our good luck...finally! Thanks universe!

I seem to have been misunderstood

And maybe that comes from burying my lead (bad journalism student, bad girl). Or maybe it's because I didn't explain very well what I was trying to say.

"But believing to the exclusion of all fear..." (or at least trying to believe to the exclusion of all fear)

That is the type of person who gets to me. The person who dismisses the bad things. The person who refuses to face the very real possibilities.

For example...

When you talk to a mommy-to-be who has never suffered a loss...she doesn't want to hear it can happen to her and her baby.

When you talk to a mommy-to-be who has suffered a loss...she doesn't want to hear that it can happen AGAIN to her and her new baby.

There are things that are considered...what's the word?...taboo. You just DON'T talk about them. And I am shocked at that. I would think, that by suffering one loss, we would (as a species) be more open to the possibilities and the conversation. But we're not. We're just as guilty of trying to remain deliberately naive as those women who have never suffered a loss.

"I don't want to talk about it."

What's so different saying it now than when you said it way back when? And interestingly enough, we do a hell of a lot of throwing stones at those women for their attitudes (at least I do...and I know a couple other people who do).

I'm just saying maybe I need to reevaluate my position on the naivete issue. Because no matter where you are on your journey to mommy-hood, there is always a certain level deliberate ignorance. Maybe I need to lighten up on those who have never been (and hopefully never will) be in my shoes.
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Edited to add: Whoever said, "Fake it until you make it..." Doesn't that presume that you WILL make it? Is that a helpful coping mechanism for those who may never make it? Or does it make it worse with the feelings of failure, etc? Because I really think it made it worse for me.
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Edited to add: This conversation really has two points in time to consider. The decision to TTC again and the pregnancy stage. I think we're talking about two very different situations when we distinguish the two. When you're pregnant, you get through however you can. But when you're trying to conceive is when I think you should really face the issue head on. Ask yourself how you would deal with another loss.

For instance, right now, there is no way I could get pregnant again. Another loss would land me in the looney bin. I'm comfortable enough considering that and making the decision. A LOT of women I have talked to do not even think about it. They just think that getting pregnant again as soon as possible will magically "fix" everything. And that is dangerous, in my opinion.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I'm going to need help

I see a new addiction beginning.

The saga of the broken clothes dryer

We had the laundry assembly line working full tilt on Saturday...until the clothes dryer refused to dry. In fact, it refused to turn at all. We knew it was getting electricity because the light still lit up so we guessed it was some sort of overheating (given the 90 degree weather we were having, the extra work from a week's worth of dirty laundry being run through, and the dog and cat hair of five years building up in the machine *blush*). We were right. Turns out the heating fuse blew because of all the lint and hair in that thing.

The repair man came out last night and I could have kissed him when he proclaimed that it was FIXED. I even tipped him $10 on a $95 bill that included labor already. I was so happy!

And then my happiness turned to despair. About an hour after the repair guy left, my husband came out of the kitchen (yes, our washer and dryer are in our kitchen...old farmhouse...you make do...a fact that will be corrected in our renovation project when we install a laundry room upstairs) and proclaimed, "It's not working."

I wanted to strangle him. What do you mean it's not working? The GUY said it was working! What did you DO to it? Oh, ok...I know it's not YOUR fault. But you'd better call HIM and get his ass back here to fix it! He SAID it was FIXED!

I'm afraid I became slightly hysterical. In my defense, my hysteria is somewhat justified in the clothes I currently have air drying on the backs of chairs throughout the house and the fact that I'm currently spending my nights wrapped under a Thomas the Tank Engine Comforter that is designed for a twin bed (ours is a king). Thank heavens we had decided to wash and dry a load of underwear early on Saturday...before the breakdown...so we're not running around commando. But still...

The lady at the repair shop said someone will come by tonight. She said it most likely just slipped the belt (since you can now hear the motor running, but the tub doesn't spin). But I'm not convinced I should let the guy get away until I at least get a dry load out of the thing.

Now I understand how people hatch those crazy plans to shackle someone in their basement.

Soap

I don't know why I have a fascination with the topic of soap and handwashing, but I do. It's not like I'm a germ freak...though by all rights I should be at this point. lol But I once saw an Oprah show where she hid a camera in the bathroom and recorded her audience members before the show, timing them to see who actually washed their hands long enough to say that they were really clean. It disgusted me to see that the majority of people just don't wash their hands long enough to be effective. Can anyone say "GROSS"?

The tip that Oprah gave was to sing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself...it is exactly the right length of time to measure a hand-washing. I mentioned this on a message board once and will now forever be remembered for THAT little tidbit. Hey, I guess it's better than the girl with two dead babies, right? :o)

So recently, I've been trying to instill in my son that he needs to really lather his hands with soap to get them clean. And like any normal four-year-old, he asked me, "Why?" And I said, "Because it gets them clean." And then he threw me..."How?" Huh. I have no idea.

So now I share with all of you what I have discovered about how soap works and why we should lather really well in order to get our hands clean.

First let's take a look at how soap works on a chemical level. To make soap, you need to combine an acid and a base (or alkali). The acid is fat (fatty acids and triglycerides), and the base is sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The mixture causes the fatty acids to separate from the triglycerides and fuse with the hydroxide ions, forming a salt that we call "soap." Soap has two main functions:

* Decrease water's surface tension
* Bind to dirt, oil and bacteria

It can do these things because one part of the soap molecule is hydrophilic (water-binding) and the other is hydrophobic (water-repellent). The hydrophilic part allows the hydrophobic fatty acids to come into contact with other hydrophobic substances, such as the dirt on the surface that is being cleaned. When the grime adheres to the soap's fatty acids, it becomes encapsulated in droplets of water. Dirt, oil and bacteria are easily scrubbed off and washed away in this suspended state.


May that be my legacy...that I have educated the masses on WHY you need to use soap while singing Happy Birthday to yourselves when you wash your hands.

Naivete and bitterness

I have discovered something peculiar.

Women who experience one loss talk about how they have lost their naivete...how they now know they can lose a baby (while other women remain blind to that fact). They mock women who retreat into their safe place where nothing bad can touch them or their baby.

But try to talk to them about the possibility of losing a second baby and the majority (that I have encountered anyway) retreat into their own safe place where they dismiss it with, "I know that nothing can guarantee a positive outcome, and yes, we might have another baby die, but we felt better about TTC after this appt." They buy into the belief that if they just get pregnant again...if they just maintain control...then everything will be all right. They think like I did...that extra tests, or more monitoring, or a nicer doctor with a better bedside manner will make it turn out right. And THEY, the ones with that hard won knowledge of loss and grief, refuse to truly acknowledge the possibilities.

I'm frustrated by this. Mainly because I'm the freak that nobody wants around to remind them that the bad stuff CAN happen again. When they ask for opinions on trying again and I say, "How would you handle another loss?" they look at me as though I have stabbed them and they rarely answer the question. But partly because I do not understand this naivete. Why would you, when you have experienced the shock and horror of a previous unexpected loss, set yourself up emotionally like that? Why won't you go into it with your eyes open?

I know hope is a precious thing, and many women would love to hang onto it when all else fails. And that is fine. But this refusal by women who have suffered a loss to contemplate the worst is just as "bad" as those women who have never lost, who refuse to contemplate the worst. Why is it women have such a hard time learning from our own experiences? Why is it women have such a hard time accepting any insight from someone else's experiences? Fear? Insecurity? I don't get it.

Of course this comes from my own place...where I thought I could control a second pregnancy...where I bought the plan hook, line, and sinker...it shouldn't happen again if we're just extra cautious. Yeah, well, he was right, it didn't happen again...something ELSE happened. And I was blind to that possibility because I NEEDED to feel something other than the fear. That in and of itself isn't bad. But believing to the exclusion of all fear...that made the fall twice as bad as it needed to be. And for what? A few weeks of an illusion of control? I'm a fool for not preparing. I should have really contemplated it ALL.

When someone asks me about trying to conceive after a loss...when is it right?...I just say, "How would you handle another loss? Would you survive it emotionally?" It doesn't make me the life of the party...but it's a hell of a lot better than, "You'll know what's right for you." Because most of the time, we don't know what's right for us. Most of the time we're believing a delusion.